Sunday, June 30, 2019

Friday, June 28, 2019

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Swiper, No Swiping!

What a change we see in Swiper.  He had his teeth done this week.  He had eight pulled, and two were badly infected.  He also had a nail cut short that was split and causing him pain.  He is feeling much better now and is actually getting toys out of the bucket and playing with them.  He will be moving on soon and we will hate to see him go.  Some Dog!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wayback Machine: Chainsaw Class At Dixon Springs

This was a great two-day class taught by Instructor Joe Glenn.  The students were SIU Forestry and UIUC Forestry Students on Spring Break who were learning valuable skills instead of partying.  Good People.  This eastern red-cedar is all set up for the drop.  The face is cut, the hinge is one inch thick, and the backstrap is still holding the tree steady.  These young foresters got real good very quickly.

This little guy was a bonus for us.  Foresters see flying squirrels occasionally, but they are mostly nocturnal, so it is always a treat.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger has an exciting treasure from the vault this week!  It's  Speed-Six in .357 Magnum from March, 1975.  This new gun has been sitting unused in the vault for 44 years.   Some of the guns that come out of hiding show little bits of wear, or a mark from a fingerprint; this revolver appears to be pristine.  It will sell mid-day, June 26.  CLICK HERE to read all about it and to place your bid. $1125

Monday, June 24, 2019

Tuesday Torque: 600 HP Snow...

...from Road King.  This engine is at the Coolsprings engine show.  This engine would justify a trip to Coolspring.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer Solstice Special

Weekend Steam: British Road Locomotives

Merle picked a couple of good ones; from 2009 and 2013. The Brits use of steam was very different from American traction engines.  One thing I am amazed at is the speed these engines travel while being steered with a pivoting axle that is steered by chains.  Even at two miles per hour steering a traction engine can be a challenge. Do the rubber tires and a smooth road surface make up for the slack and slow gear ration of the steering gear? 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Wayback Machine: Joe Glenn Demonstrates A Rescue Technique

Important technique to know for lifting a section of a tree off of a pinned victim. Steps in the process: 1, Set cribbing in place to prevent the tree from moving. 2, Make two holes through the log with four bore cuts each. The holes must be large enough for your poles to slide through. 3, Make angled cuts so the section can't fall, and wedge the section in place. 4, use poles to lift the log section off, and don't step on the victim. Each hole requires making four bore cuts through the log; become proficient at bore cutting before you try this.

This rescue strategy seems quite relevevant, given all the tornadoes we have had this year. Keep your saws tuned up and ready to go, know how to do a bore cut, have wedges and a hammer in your chainsaw kit, and practice this method. You probably will never need it, but if you do, you better know how to do it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Gun Handling: Food For Thought And Discussion

Here are a couple of videos worth watching if you handle firearms.  Hang out in a gun store and you will see poor handling habits.  Watch  your babies being handled by curious strangers all day and you will be frustrated. I am struck by a conflict in my mind of spending thousands for a custom 1911 that must be babied, versus a mass-produced version that sells for $1000 or less that can survive just fine with hard use.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger is offering a pre-production M77 Hawkeye in 6.5 Creedmoor, made in 2010.  This model was not in the catalog until 2011.  This is a new rifle, stored in Ruger's vault.  CLICK HERE to read all about it and to place your winning bid. This fine rifle will sell mid-day, Wednesday, June 19, 2019. $715

Monday, June 17, 2019

Tuesday Torque: 5 HP Hercules Buzz Saw Rig

Road King posted a video of this original 5 HP Hercules engine.  Making wood wasn't easy in the Good Old Days, but this was a huge improvement from using a crosscut saw for every cut.  Those short cuts make me nervous, though.  I wish they kept hands a bit farther away from the blade.  Note the drop cart, which was necessary on engines with a one piece base. The drop center not only lowers the center of gravity, but it places the flywheels at the right height to pull them over for starting.  Our friend Gary mounted his 9 HP Economy on a straight cart, and it would make you bust a gut to roll over the flywheels.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Don't Just Stand There!

Step back, escape the area around your stump.  Watching the tree go will eventually cause you to be hit.  I had cut several snags and was tired when I did this one, so I stood still.  I got lucky and was only swatted on the hand.

We have lots of chainsaw work in the next couple weeks, so it's Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Struck By Lightning

You might not notice this unless you are always looking up in the trees.

 A bit of zoom and you can really see it.  Pecan is an odd tree with lightning.  If the bark is wet with rain, lightning zips down the outside and just pops off the outer bark without injuring the tree.

This lightning bolt also popped off a gray squirrel; poor thing.  God Caught Him Before He Fell.

Sometimes you will be caught in a thunderstorm while you are out in the woods.  Beat feet back to your truck, and avoid passing close to trees.  When lightning comes down on a tree it may bounce around anywhere around the base, so keep some space for safety.  We were caught in a heavy downpour while canoeing in Missouri on the Eleven Point River.  We put in on the left bank, just a short distance from a big bur oak.  The adults kept the kids from gathering under the tree, and we stood in a loose group as the clouds dumped on us.  A big lightning bolt smacked a sycamore directly across the river from us; it was a bit like being shot at and missed.  The kids needed no more convincing to stay away from the bur oak.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Weekend Steam: Steam Rally Across The Pond

The culture is different, the engines don't look like ours, but they give engine lovers the same thrill.  Many Thanks to Merle for spotting!

White County Farm Bureau Young Leader Pistol Shoot... coming up in one month!  Put July 13, 2019 on your calendar.  Send in your registration early and save ten bucks! You can practice at Pistol League, Thursday evenings at 6 PM. You probably can borrow a .22 pistol if you do not own one that is suitable. Bring your own ammo.

The 9th Annual Young Leader Pistol Shoot will be Saturday, July 13 at the Carmi Rifle Club. The .22 steel target shoot will include 6 unique stations, with both adult and youth classes (12 & over). Each station will feature 5 targets, with 5 relays at each target.

Each shooter will have a chance at winning a Ruger Mark IV .22 target pistol, with the top 3 in each class having additional chances. The pistol was donated by The Gun Room at Indian Creek RV in Norris City.

Competition will begin at 9:00 a.m. Registration is $25 per person if registered prior to July 1; and $35 after July 1. Registration includes lunch and drinks. Lunch for non-shooters is $10.

2019 Pistol Shoot sponsors are:

HARVEST SPONSORS – The Gun Room at Indian Creek RV, Citizens National Bank of Albion, COUNTRY Financial, Yesterday’s Drive-In & Catering, Botsch & Associates, Precision Crop Services, Farm Credit Illinois, Fairfield Memorial Hospital, Burnt Prairie Fertilizer, and the Carmi Rifle Club.

GROWTH SPONSORS – Carter Trucking, Consolidated Grain & Barge, Wabash Valley Service Company, and Dartt & Company, CPA.

For registration and sponsorship details, go to the White County Farm Bureau website at

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wayback Machine: CRP Recon Joys

CRP signups made for intense workdays.  The county Farm Service Agency offices would often have dozens of new cases or renewals, and every field had to be inspected. I would map out the whole county to reduce backtracking, make a soil map of each case, and look up  the history of renewals so I would know what had been planted.  After seeing each case, the landowners had to be interviewed, and then the new plans could be written.  Conservation Reserve pretty much controlled my work for all of my years working for Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  It wasn't what I expected when I hired in, but it was good work that actually changed the landscape of the counties I worked in.  All that driving and walking meant that I saw lots of interesting sights.  Here are a couple of good ones from the spring of 2012 in Hamilton County.  The tractor is an Allis-Chalmers WC; the barn is probably melted down to the tin roof by now.

The throttle shows some honest wear. I guess the reason I focused on the throttle is because it is very familiar to me.  A kid working that little lever while driving a tractor feels like the king of the world.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger is auctioning another good one this week!  It is a Law Enforcement Only Mini-14 from 1997, which was during the Clinton-era assault weapons ban.  This baby comes with two twenty round magazines, a flash hider and a bayonet mount. Know your local laws before bidding, because some state and local laws still prohibit this rifle.  CLICK HERE to read the full description and to place that winning bid. This fine carbine will sell mid-day, Wednesday, June 12, 2018.  $1425

Monday, June 10, 2019

Tuesday Torque: Cold Starting A Witte Diesel

Merle and I are both fans of Road King.  He makes some unusual projects, such as a multi-cylinder Briggs and Stratton.  This video is one of Road King's friends firing up a Witte one lung Diesel on a cool morning.  Thank You, Merle, for spotting!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Do You Have A Soil Knife?

We picked one of these up at a garden show many years ago, and Susan uses it all the time.  I always carried an entrenching tool in my truck and used it for all kinds of chores, but lately I have been grabbing Susan's Soil Knife.  You can weed, plant, pick rocks out of your cleats; all kinds of chores, and you can pack it on your belt.  I am thinking of getting one for myself.  The only thing is, they come duller than a froe.  You will need to work on it with a file and a stone in a Dremel tool. You know what I mean:  Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Schipperke Trail

Little Jack was asleep behind me; these are Junior, Swiper, Skipper, and Lisa.  Maggie has settled into her new home, and we hear from her new family regularly.  If you know Schipperkes, you know it's a rare event when five are all lying down and quiet at the same time. Swiper is scheduled for his dental work in about three weeks, and after he recovers from that he will be ready to go to his forever home.  He is a gentle old soul and has been a very easy keeper.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Weekend Steam: U.P. Big Boy 4014 and 844 Double Header, Cheyenne to Rawlins, Wyoming

The restoration of Big Boy 4014 is likely the biggest news that we will ever see in the world of steam.   It's a wonderful thing that we can see videos of great events like this.  Thank You, Merle, for screening videos for us!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Ernie Pyle Walked The Beach 75 Years Ago

I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France. It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn't know they were in the water, for they were dead.

The water was full of squishy little jellyfish about the size of a man's hand. Millions of them. In the center of each of them was green design exactly like a four-leafed clover. The good-luck emblem. Sure. Hell, yes.

I walked for a mile and a half along the water's edge of our many-miled beach. I walked slowly, for the detail on the beach was infinite.

The wreckage was vast and startling. The awful waste and destruction of war, even aside from the loss of human life, has always been one of its outstanding features to those who are in it. Anything and everything is expendable. And we did expend on our beachhead in Normandy during those first few hours.

For a mile out from the beach there were scores of tanks and trucks and boats that were not visible, for they were at the bottom of the water-swamped by overloading, or hit by shells, or sunk by mines. Most of their crews were lost.

There were trucks tipped half over and swamped, partly sunken barges, and the angled-up corners of jeeps, and small landing craft half submerged. And at low tide you could still see those vicious six-pronged iron snares that helped snag and wreck them.

On the beach itself, high and dry, were all kinds of wrecked vehicles. There were tanks that had only just made the beach before being knocked out. There were jeeps that had burned to a dull gray. There were big derricks on caterpillar treads that didn't quite make it. There were half-tracks carrying office equipment that had been made into a shambles by single shell hit, their interiors still holding the useless equipage of smashed typewriters, telephones, office files.

There were LCTs turned completely upside down, and lying on their backs, and how they got that way I don't know. There were boats stacked on top of each other, their sides caved in, their suspension doors knocked off.

In this shore-line museum of carnage there were abandoned rolls of barbed wire and smashed bulldozers and big stacks of thrown-away life belts and piles of shells still waiting to be moved. In the water floated empty life rafts and soldiers' packs and ration boxes, and myserious oranges. On the beach lay snarled rolls of telephone wire and big rolls of steel matting and stacks of broken, rusting rifles.

On the beach lay, expended, sufficient men and mechanism for a small war. They were gone forever now. And yet we could afford it.

We could afford it because we were on, we had our toe hold, and behind us there were such enormous replacements for this wreckage on the beach that you could hardly conceive of the sum total. Men and equipment were flowing from England in such a gigantic stream that it made the waste on the beachhead seem like nothing it all, really nothing at all.

But there was another and more human litter. It extended in a thin little line, just like a high-water mark, for miles along the beach. This was the strewn personal gear, gear that would never be needed again by those who fought and died to give us our entrance into Europe.

There in a jumbled row for mile on mile were soldiers' packs. There were socks and shoe polish, sewing kits, diaries, Bibles, hand grenades. There were the latest letters from home, with the address on each one neatly razored out-one of the security precautions enforced before the boys embarked.

There were toothbrushes and razors, and snapshots of families back home staring up at you from the sand. There were pocketbooks, metal mirrors, extra trousers, and bloody, abandoned shoes. There were broken-handled shovels, and portable radios smashed almost beyond recognition, and mine detectors twisted and ruined.

There were torn pistol belts and canvas water buckets, first-aid kits, and jumbled heaps of life belts. I picked up a pocket Bible with a soldier's name in it, and put it in my jacket. I carried it half a mile or so and then put it back down on the beach. I don't know why I picked it up, or why I put it down again.

Soldiers carry strange things ashore with them. In every invasion there is at least one soldier hitting the beach at H-hour with a banjo slung over his shoulder. The most ironic piece of equipment marking our beach-this beach first of despair, then of victory-was a tennis racket that some soldier had brought along. It lay lonesomely on the sand, clamped in its press, not a string broken.

Two of the most dominant items in the beach refuse were cigarettes and writing paper. Each soldier was issued a carton of cigarettes just before he started. That day those cartons by the thousand, water-soaked and spilled out, marked the line of our first savage blow.

Writing paper and air-mail envelopes came second. The boys had intended to do a lot of writing in France. The letters-now forever incapable of being written-that might have filled those blank abandoned pages!

Always there are dogs in every invasion. There was a dog still on the beach, still pitifully looking for his masters. He stayed at the water's edge, near a boat that lay twisted and half sunk at the waterline. He barked appealingly to every soldier who approached, trotted eagerly along with him for a few feet, and then, sensing himself unwanted in all the haste, he would run back to wait in vain for his own people at his own empty boat.

Over and around this long thin line of personal anguish, fresh men were rushing vast supplies to keep our armies pushing on into France. Other squads of men picked amidst the wreckage to salvage ammunition and equipment that was still usable.

Men worked and slept on the beach for days before the last D-day victim was taken away for burial.

I stepped over the form of one youngster whom I thought dead, But when I looked down I saw he was only sleeping. He was very young, and very tired. He lay on one elbow, his hand suspended in the air about six inches from the ground. And in the palm of his hand he held a large, smooth rock.

I stood and looked at him a long time. He seemed in his sleep to hold that rock lovingly, as though it were his last link with a vanishing world. I have no idea at all why he went to sleep with the rock in his hand, or what kept him from dropping it once he was asleep. It was just one of those little things without explanation that a person remembers for a long time.

The strong, swirling tides of the Normandy coast line shifted the contours of the sandy beach as they moved in and out. They carried soldiers' bodies out to sea, and later they returned them. They covered the corpses of heroes with sand, and then in their whims they uncovered them.
As I plowed out over the wet sand, I walked around what seemed to be a couple of pieces of driftwood sticking out of the sand. But they weren't driftwood. They were a soldier's two feet. He was completely covered except for his feet; the toes of his GI shoes pointed toward the land he had come so far to see, and which he saw so briefly.

From "Brave Men" by Ernie Pyle

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Whistle Blows

"....The Army said they would try to give us twenty-four hours' notice of departure. Actually the call came at nine o'clock one morning and we were ordered to be at a certain place with full field kit at 10:30 A.M. We threw our stuff together. Some of us went away and left hotel rooms still running up bills. Many had dates that night but did not dare to telephone and call them off.

As we arrived one by one at the appointed place we looked both knowingly and sheepishly at each other. The Army continued to tell us that it was just another exercise, but we knew inside ourselves that this was it.

Bill Stoneman, who had been wounded once, never showed the slightest concern. Whether he felt any concern or not I could not tell. Bill had a humorous, sardonic manner. While we were waiting for the departure into the unknown, he took out a pencil and notebook as though starting to interview me. "Tell me, Mr. Pyle, how does it feel to be an assault correspondent?"

Being a man of few words, I said, "It feels awful."

When everybody was ready our luggage went into a truck and we went into jeeps. The first night we spent together at an assembly area, an Army tent camp. There we drew our final battle kit--such things as clothing impregnated against gas attack, a shovel to dig foxholes, seasickness capsules, a carton of cigarettes, a medical kit, and rations. We also drew three blankets just for the night, since our bedrolls had gone on ahead.

The weather was cold and three blankets were not enough. I hardly slept at all. When we awakened early the next morning, Jack Thompson said, "That's the coldest night I have ever spent."

Don Whitehead said, "It's just as miserable as it always was."

You see, we had all been living comfortably in hotels or apartments for the last few weeks. We had got a little soft, and there we were starting back to the old horrible life we had known for so long--sleeping on the ground, only cold water, rations, foxholes, and dirt. We were off to war again......

That was when the most incongruous--to us-- part of the invasion came. There we were in a front-row seat at a great military epic. Shells from battleships were whamming over our heads, and occasionally a dead man floated face downward past us. Hundreds and hundreds of ships laden with death milled around us. We could stand at the rail and see both our shells and German shells exploding on the beaches, where struggling men were leaping ashore, desperately hauling guns and equipment through the water.

We were in the very vortex of the war--and yet, as we sat there waiting, Lieutenant Chuck Conick and I played gin rummy in the wardroom and Bing Crosby sang "Sweet Leilani" over the ship's phonograph.

Angry shells hitting near us would make heavy thuds as the concussion carried through the water and struck the hull of our ship. But in our wardroom men in gas-impregnated uniforms and wearing life belts sat reading Life and listening to the BBC telling us how the war before our eyes was going.

But it wasn't like that ashore. No, it wasn't like that ashore."

Excerpts from: The Whistle Blows, Brave Men, by Ernie Pyle; Scripps-Howard Newspaper Alliance

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger is offering a new-old-stock Service Six from 1974 this week.  It is a .38 Special revolver, and it does have some handling marks.  The cylinder latch has marked a ring around the cylinder, and closeups on Ruger's website show some minor pitting, probably from finger prints many years ago.  You won't find many new ones like this, so CLICK OVER to GunBroker to read all about it and to place your bid.  This fine revolver will sell mid-day, June 5, 2019.  $955

Monday, June 3, 2019

Tuesday Torque: Grand Haven Tractor

Well, this certainly is interesting.  These little Grand Haven Tractors are post World War II vintage, and this one is powered by Wisconsin.  Those are tough, single-cylinder engines with Timken roller bearings on the mains.  They give long years of hard service if you keep oil in them. 

The G-H tractors were made in Michigan, and only about 1000 were built.  The article I read about them in Gas Engine Magazine tells of one that came with a Briggs and Stratton engine, so I do not know if the Wisconsin is authentic to the rest of the machine.

CLICK HERE to read a Gas Engine Magazine article about the G-H.  It looks like a perfect machine for a truck farm.

Every Day Is Saturday!

How on Earth we did our own chores with two day weekends is a mystery.  We work on our own projects every day now, and there is always more to do.  I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

                                                              Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

NRA Day At The Carmi Rifle Club

NRA Day is one of our big events every year.  This event is designed to be a fun learning event for families, and we had several kids shooting again this year.  The back row is made up of club member/volunteers who bring guns and gear, and man all the shooting stations.  Everyone had a great time, and a bunch of people discovered that they can hit little targets at long distances.  Too much fun!