Sunday, March 31, 2019

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Winter Just Won't Quit!

Our woodpile was critically low, so we cut one more snag to finish out this winter.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Weekend Steam: The Skookum Engine Is Restored And Running!

This video shows Skookum, a 2-4-4-2 locomotive running on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railway. After Skookum is properly broken in, it will be moving to California to run on the Niles Canyon Railway.

Many Thanks to Merle, our Engine Spotter. Thanks to John In Philly for mentioning this video:

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Going Up

You can write your own sermon on this one.  Trees don't give up, even when everything appears to be hopeless.  A human parallel could be "It only hurts if I breathe." Breathing is still a good thing to do.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Are You Tough Enough To Be A Tie Hack?

One slip-up and you will be a three-toed-Ole.  This is a great video if you have some time and a cup of coffee.

Three Weeks

Maggie has one more vaccination coming in three weeks and then she can go to a new home.  She is enjoying having the run of the house with the other Schips, and especially likes her belly rubs.  Maggie has learned that we will get up in the morning when she starts talking.  She wakes up about 5:30 every morning for her first walk. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


When our son was born many years ago we named him Ezekiel, and after Susan and he were settled in their room, I went home to take care of things and came back to the hospital in the evening. As I walked by the waiting area on the maternity floor, this scene from The Wizard of Oz was on the TV.  Dorothy yells, "Zeke, Zeke!" What a surprise! I had seen that movie who knows how many times, and I didn't remember that name. Susan saw it on the TV in her room, too. Pretty neat.

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger is offering another 50th Anniversary Engraved Blackhawk this week.  These are Flattops, like the first Ruger Blackhawk revolvers, and the supply in Ruger's vault is surely about at its end.  CLICK HERE to read all about it and to place your bid.  $1000.09

Monday, March 25, 2019

Tuesday Torque: Signs Of Spring

You have your robins, bluebirds, buzzards and carnies showing up to let you know that winter is nearly gone.  We started seeing boats last week the same day the buzzards soared over.  That calls for a couple of old boat motors to celebrate Spring.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Wildflowers Ahead

It is rough around the edges, but Spring is here. The ground was marginally wet, but it worked up OK, and Susan has been throwing down seeds.  Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Little Good News In Illinois

Illinois citizens are under attack by the legislature and governor in Illinois, and there are several bills we have to worry about and fight as best we can.  The good news is that three cases went to court.  Listen to Valinda Rowe of Illinois Carry:

Friday, March 22, 2019

A Day In The Life Of A Steam Locomotive Fireman

Pour a cup of coffee and spend half an hour to share a day that few see nowadays.  Thanks for picking another good one, Merle!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Maggie, The Eleven Year Old Schipperke

is tuned into these critters!  She watches the treetops on our walks and can follow a squirrel from tree to tree.  She is always looking.

If I hunted squirrels nowadays, a good Schipperke would be at the top of my list for a hunting companion.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger is auctioning a special one this week; a Left-Handed Gunsite Scout in .308!  This one was built in 2011 and it will sell Wednesday night after 9:00 PM Eastern.  Click Here to read all about it and to place your bid. $851

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Biltmore Reconditioning

This Biltmore Stick is one that I fixed up about thirty years ago.  It is one of my early ones and the head was not epoxy bedded to the stick.  There was marking paint all over it and the head was about to slip off the end.  A bit of work with fine sandpaper, several coats of Tru-Oil, bedding with Brownell's Acra-Glass Gel, and it is good as new.  It is right-handed diameter scale with the log heights on the reverse side.

Back To The Old Grind!


It is still going down to freezing at night, but things are looking up.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Weekend Steam: Take That Night Train To Goulburn!

Another look at Australian steam this week, courtesy of Merle! These nighttime shots are dramatic and beautiful.
Cultural Reference:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger is offering a .32 Magnum Single-Six this week.  It is marked with a U for Used, but there is very little wear.  Their site has no information on why this revolver was returned to the factory.  It will sell mid-day, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Click Here to read all about it and to place your bid. $621

Monday, March 11, 2019

Tuesday Torque: Control Line Speed Demon

Model airplane engines can teach you many lessons about running other engines.  Most of them are two-stroke, and many have only a mixer without a throttle.  Tuning an engine for flight requires a good ear and some experience.  Control line planes will be set up so they are missing a bit when level; running full speed during a climb, and slobbering a bit when nosed down.  It makes your flying safe, and your engine will run for years if you understand how to regulate your mixture. 

This little speed racer has a .15 Cubic Inch engine, and a single blade, counterbalanced prop.  The tip is supersonic, and a two bladed prop would not work at that speed.  Listen for the change in the engine speed to kick in when the speed comes up on the plane.  The additional air hitting the engine leans out the mixture, maxing out the RPM.  I am sure it takes some preparation runs to get that right, and sometimes you just are not going to get that top speed.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Good Wood Cutting Weather

The temps today were good for working outdoors again, and we were out in the woods gathering BTUs to keep the house warm.  Gotta keep at it before the ticks and chiggers come out of hiding.

Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

This Year, Just Extra Layers and Watching The Woodpile Dwindle

March 9, 2017 we had flowers and lettuce up.  Gotta cut a snag tomorrow; the wood is nearly gone.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Weekend Steam: Cabbage Stack Baldwin Mogul!

You gotta love this one!   This engine is a standard-gauge wood burning Mogul that worked in the  timber industry in the South. The writeup on the railroad's site tells us that this engine is a movie star with appearances in many movies, including Boxcar Bertha and  Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

 Baldwin also built the narrow-gauge, cabbage stacked Number 2 and Number 6 Moguls that we love at Mt. Pleasant.  Those locomotives worked in the timber industry in the Southeast, and were purchased by the Midwest Central Railroad in the early 1960's.

CLICK HERE to visit the Orange Blossom site, but you will be disappointed to read that this railroad ceased operations two years ago.  Dang.  Thanks for spotting this one for us, Merle!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

How Cold Was It?

Boy oh Boy did we shove the wood up the chimney during that cold spell!  We were running both stoves hot, 24 hours per day. 

We had a little snow, but not enough to cover the wheat when we got down to single digits.  Oh Well; it will come out of it.  The wheat will look bad for a while, but it will turn green again.

Little Belle Cat usually is causing trouble, but she tolerates Brownie for the heat.

Those stones get nice and warm, which helps keep the house tolerable when the fires die down at night.  The dogs have it figured out and they put their butts right up against the sandstone on a cold day.  That's Maggie on the right.  She will get another vaccination in a couple weeks and then a blood panel again.  If she checks out OK she will be ready to move on.  She is a good Schipperke, and no trouble at all.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Cherrybark Oak; One Of My Favorites

Cherrybark Oak is a bottomland hardwood, but it's not a swamp dweller; it likes upper bottomland, where the water gets off and there is a bit of perk to the soil.  In Southern Illinois it likes to grow on 109 Raccoon soil, which is classed as a wetland soil.  The flooding on 109 usually is short-term.  Cherrybark produces grade quality red oak lumber.  Pin oak, which also grows on 109 and other bottomland sites is never grade quality. 

One of the really neat qualities of bottomland trees is that they can be moved upslope, and they will still perform for you.  They can be mixed into an upland tree planting project to stretch your supplies of upland seedlings.   I planted this tree in 1991 or 1992 and the stump is 21" x 22".  That's darn good performance, and about double the growth I would expect from an upland oak on this site, which is 3B Hoyleton. 

We are just about at the northern range limit for cherrybark, which is shown on maps as far north as Mt. Carmel, Illinois on range maps.  It will grow farther north.  Jack Siefert of Purdue tested seed from all over the range near Indianapolis, and found that all of it grew well except for seed from right on the gulf coast.  The acorns on cherrybark are small and tasty to wildlife; much sweeter than other red oak acorns.  Crows, jays, turkeys, and squirrels all attack the seeds as they ripen.  Deer get the leftovers that make it to the ground.

Thirty-some years ago when the Conservation Reserve Program was starting, the Illinois nurseries produced a limited variety of trees.  White pine and shortleaf pine were staple items, along with white oak, northern red oak, black oak, pin oak, and black walnut.  We needed more trees and greater variety for all of the projects on retiring farm land, and bottomland trees filled the bill.  Union and Mason County Nurseries started cranking out cherrybark oak, swamp white oak, swamp chestnut oak, Shumard oak, bur oak, shellbark hickory, pecan, red maple, American sycamore, and baldcypress.  All of these bottomland trees will grow well on most of the sites we had to plant, whether they were upland or bottomland.  Cherrybark is my favorite, though.   It grows fast on any site from 109 and higher, it makes valuable wood, and provides food for wildlife.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger has a classic for you this week.  It is a 1977 Mk I Target model, and they haven't made these for a very long time.  This fine, collectible pistol will sell mid-day, Wednesday, March 6, 2019.  CLICK HERE to read all about it and to place your bid. $1295

Tuesday Torque: Basic Tractor, IHC 6 HP Friction Drive

Wendell Kelch is a YouTuber worth watching.  He does beautiful restorations on century-old machines, and makes them run like new.  Here is one that I have been watching. You can't get much more primitive than this early IHC tractor.  It is a single cylinder, hit and miss governed, with a friction drive arrangement that appears to be hardly able.  I guess it was good enough to let the tractor move from one job to the next.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Morbark Chipper

We were not exactly pleased to have the pipeline right of way widened, but we are making the best of it.  We had the crew set trees to the side for firewood, so we will have plenty of wood in the barn for next winter.  I told them to chip this elm, because it makes poor firewood.  The Morbark chews up tough hardwood in an impressive manner.  Back To The Old Grind!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Weekend Steam: Garratt To Toowoomba; You Missed It By Only Twenty Years

Many Thanks To Merle for spotting.  This is a really neat engine, and there is good footage along the trip that all will enjoy.