Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Theme Song?

UPDATE! Well, Dang. Things to do and places to go. Coffee just like yesterday!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tuesday Torque: I Wouldn't Say He's Disagreeable,

....but he is always trying to start something!  Gary's Crankup is coming right up!  We hope to be there to see all the flywheels turning again.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Light Is Large At The End Of The Tunnel

Grinding Just A Little This Week!

PS: 51 1/2 years a wage-slave.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How To Destroy A Tree Planting Project

I had a call from a landowner who wanted me to get trees for him.  He said that oak galls were wiping out his trees, which were planted a little more than ten years ago.  While I was digging out his file he told me that he had been keeping his project mowed every year. The upper picture is the project.  That is what happens when you mow a tree planting project.  Most of the damage occurs while the trees are just seedlings, because the person mowing  can't see the trees, and they mow everything but the few trees they can see.  Often, the trees survive and will grow from the root if you will just stop mowing.  That's what I told him to do.  He has even been mowing across rows, and you can see that if you click the pic to enlarge.  Sheesh.

This is how a project should appear.  The owner had a contractor plant it, and then it was left alone.  There are a few thin spots, but other wise it is fully stocked.  You hear people complain about the clayey soils in Southern Illinois, but these soils are great for trees.  Prairie grasses can out-compete new trees on deep prairie soils, but trees can beat many of the grasses on a clay site. You can plant trees on crop stubble, walk away and let the weeds grow, and in five years the trees pop up above the weeds.  Easy-Peasy!  Unless there is fescue.  Kill the fescue first if it is growing where you want to plant trees.

Our Current Civil War; Watch This Video!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

It Seems To Be A Ritual

When farmers aren't farming, the weather is good, and the ground is solid, trees will be cleared!  This little spot is 0.05 acre, and it is a fun mental exercise to do the math.  Say you can rent a track-hoe for $125 an hour, and then also rent a small bulldozer.  Work all day on this little spot to push out a couple trees.  Add tires to make that green wood burn, and voila!, you have more farm ground!

What does it cost, and how long will it take to regain the investment?  Easily $200 per hour for at least 10 hours.  If you can grow 150 bushel per acre corn, you can get 7 or 8 more bushels per year that are worth about $3 per bushel.  Wow.  Only about 80 years to get back your $2000.  I must be missing something...

PS: Here's a thought.  When you are harvesting your soybeans with your 1/4 million dollar combine, with dust swirling around you obscuring your vision, you catch the header on a tree that you couldn't quite see....well, there goes more than two grand right there, and you are going to be down for maybe several days.   Machines today are expensive and big, and you make your fields as friendly for them as possible.

Here's a big red combine harvesting this very field last October.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The Massachusetts Shooters Foundation

Anyone who needs to "Keel Moose And Squirrel!" will want to bid on this rifle.  It will do the job!  It's a .300 H & H Magnum made in 2010, and marked Dallas Safari Club.  It will sell mid-day, Wednesday, February 22, 2017. Click Here to place that winning bid.  $1200

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tuesday Torque: New Project In Gary's Barn!

Our friend Gary nailed down a bargain last week in an online auction.  His new baby is a 10 HP tank-cooled Fairbanks-Morse, and he only had to hop across the Mississippi for a few miles to pick it up.

He wrote to say that he has all the small parts off already, and will soon be unsticking the piston.  Expect this project to be running in about one year.

Gary built a fire on both ends of the piston today to jar it loose.  He will let it cool overnight and move that piston tomorrow.

Photo Credit: Gary Bahre

It will be pretty much like this when it is done:

"Charlotte's Not Unusual; Charlotte Is Average."

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Few Days Late

I always keep an eye out for oyster mushrooms growing on trees.  This batch is on a sugar maple that had been struck by lightning, with bark blown off and wood exposed.  Lightning strikes provide great opportunities for oysters to grow.

These are beauties, and there are a lot of them.  Unfortunately, They had been out a bit too long, and were dried up, hard, and just a bit funky smelling.

Be on the lookout for these mushrooms as we head into spring.  They like to pop out after a rain, and they will be good for a few days if the weather is cool.  We have picked them during summer, but you have to be quick then, because there are beetles that like to eat them.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Farmer's Gonna Farm

That little section of wooded stream is on my morning commute, and it has been home to skunks, possums, coons, rabbits, squirrels, and foxes for all the years I have driven by it.  The field was tiled recently, and after tiling was done the track-hoes and a bulldozer remained.

I sure don't mind if a farmer tiles a field.  This field is an A slope, (0 to 5%) and very clayey.  It stays wet and is hard to farm in the spring, so crops go in late.  Then they have to deal with summer drought and heat after a late start.  This week the farmer cleared the streambanks.  It measured out less than two acres, but it was a nice little section of wildlife habitat that also protected the streambank and field from erosion.

What most people do not see is that landowners both up and downstream from this little project will see increased erosion now.  Floodwaters will move through here more easily, effectively changing the gradient of this section.  The effect can be far-reaching; in this case it will affect the upstream landowners more, because it is located at the upper end of a glacial lakebed where the gradient becomes small.  If I hadn't been watching fox-kits every spring as I go by, this would not bother me so much, I guess.  When you see farmers lighting off brush piles with their used tires you can realize that they probably don't give two hoots about the World we live in, in spite of what outfits like Farm Bureau and the USDA want you to believe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Night Life

Season's out!  Safe until next winter!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The Massachusetts Shooters Foundation

If you like single-action revolvers, this one's for you.  Ruger is offering a .357 Blackhawk made in 1977 with a 6 1/2" barrel.  It is marked Used, but was only used as a display gun at a distributor show.  Click Here to place your bid on this great stainless revolver, perfect for carrying around your ranch, compound, or as a house gun.  It sells mid-day, Wednesday, February 15, 2017. $875

Valentine Song Festival! One More Good One!

Valentine Song Festival! Eighteen Wheels And A Dozen Roses, Kathy Mattea

No Winnebago for us...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tuesday Torque: Transferable Knowledge

If you learn how to tune and run a small engine you can pretty much tune any engine.  Model airplane engines will smack the back of your fingers to great effect.  There is no shame in using a chicken stick to prop your engine.

Valentine Song Festival! I Get A Kick Out Of You! Frank Sinatra

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Valentine Song Festival! These Foolish Things, Rudy Vallee

Plenty Of History Being Written This Month

It's A Good Look At An Old Mill...

...even if someone said "What does the chimney do?"  We could have put this in Weekend Steam, but nothing is running, so a Grinder it is!

Back To The Old Grind!

One Year Anniversary, And We Are Still Nervous!

February 11, 2016 was the date when Eric Hall of Carmi jolted us out of our security complacency.  The house repairs are long completed and adjustments have been made to our routines.  We still get a little thrill every time we open the door where all that started.  It's a good reminder that even though our personal perpetrator is locked up (for nine more years), the world still has plenty of bad people out there who are perfectly willing to screw up your life.  Relive our little nightmare.

Valentine Song Festival! Only The Lonely, Roy Orbison

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Valentine Song Festival: Brand New Key, Melanie

Walnuts From Seed


Here is one of my old cases that has never quit.  My friend Bob, from Carmi, planted walnut seeds he gathered in a little field that was too small to farm with today's equipment.  He also planted Shumard oak acorns as a companion crop, and it has worked out well.

This is the project in the fall of 2016.  The walnut trees Bob planted are running 10 to 11 inches, and there are so many good ones that thinning is complicated by difficult decisions.

The Shumards are performing very well as trainers, lagging behind the walnuts and shading off the lower branches so pruning is not needed.  The Shumards would make good crop trees, too, but they are not as fast growing as the walnuts.

Over 11 inches diameter from seed in 24 years!

Some of the thinning decisions are easy.  When you start a project like this it is a good idea to flag your best trees first, and them come through and give them room.  A forked tree like this one is a tree you can girdle without regrets.  Bob has been gone for many years, and his son is now tending the family farm and forest. He is doing as fine a job as his father did.

Valentine Song Festival! You'd Be Surprised, Madeline Kahn

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The Massachusetts Shooters Foundation

Here's a good one this week!  It's a Double Action Only P 91 in .40 cal, made in 1994.

This fine firearm will sell mid-day, February 8, 2017.  Click Here to read all about it and to place that winning bid.  $725

Valentine Song Festival! A Portrait Of My Love, Steve Lawrence

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Valentine Song Festival: Fever, Peggy Lee

How's That Quiet Neighborhood?

Watch this second video, too. It shows what honest, peaceful people are up against all over this country. The first victim was on the early morning news today. She was beaten, raped, robbed, and murdered. The perpetrator has been caught and charged with Second Degree Murder.  Not First.  He will be pleaded down to Manslaughter, or maybe Assault and Battery.  He will get Time Served and Probation, and  be free to murder again.

Good Advice Any Day Of The Week

Back To The Old Grind!

Valentine Song Festival! The Way That I Want To Touch You, Captain and Tennile

Friday, February 3, 2017

Tragedy Averted! Merle's Daughter A Hero!

Merle's, (of E-Postal fame) daughter rescued this beautiful little Aussie pup from a pet store.  It is blind in one eye, and they were going to "dispose" of the damaged goods.  A big Thank You to Merle's family for saving this pretty little pup.  It has a good life ahead.

Valentine Song Festival: Peggy Sue, by Buddy Holly

Valentine Song Festival, Save The Last Dance For Me, Emmy Lou Harris