Wednesday, November 30, 2022


I almost missed St. Andrew's Day.  Would you believe that no-one invited us out to celebrate?  Anyhow, pour a glass, and read one of my favorite stories; it's almost as good as going oot.

The Ballad of How MacPherson Held the Floor

Said President MacConnachie to Treasurer MacCall:
"We ought to have a piper for our next Saint Andrew's Ball.
Yon squakin' saxophone gives me the syncopated gripes.
I'm sick of jazz, I want to hear the skirling of the pipes."
"Alas! it's true," said Tam MacCall. "The young folk of to-day
Are fox-trot mad and dinna ken a reel from a Strathspey.
Now, what we want's a kiltie lad, primed up wi' mountain dew,
To strut the floor at supper time, and play a lilt or two.
In all the North there's only one; of him I've heard them speak:
His name is Jock MacPherson, and he lives on Boulder Creek;
An old-time hard-rock miner, and a wild and wastrel loon,
Who spends his nights in glory, playing pibrochs to the moon.
I'll seek him out; beyond a doubt on next Saint Andrew's night
We'll proudly hear the pipes to cheer and charm our appetite.

Oh lads were neat and lassies sweet who graced Saint Andrew's Ball;
But there was none so full of fun as Treasurer MacCall.
And as Maloney's rag-time band struck up the newest hit,
He smiled a smile behind his hand, and chuckled: "Wait a bit."
And so with many a Celtic snort, with malice in his eye,
He watched the merry crowd cavort, till supper time drew nigh.
Then gleefully he seemed to steal, and sought the Nugget Bar,
Wherein there sat a tartaned chiel, as lonely as a star;
A huge and hairy Highlandman as hearty as a breeze,
A glass of whisky in his hand, his bag-pipes on his knees.
"Drink down your doch and doris, Jock," cried Treasurer MacCall;
"The time is ripe to up and pipe; they wait you in the hall.
Gird up your loins and grit your teeth, and here's a pint of hooch
To mind you of your native heath - jist pit it in your pooch.
Play on and on for all you're worth; you'll shame us if you stop.
Remember you're of Scottish birth - keep piping till you drop.
Aye, though a bunch of Willie boys should bluster and implore,
For the glory of the Highlands, lad, you've got to hold the floor.

"The dancers were at supper, and the tables groaned with cheer,
When President MacConnachie exclaimed: "What do I hear?
Methinks it's like a chanter, and its coming from the hall."
"It's Jock MacPherson tuning up," cried Treasurer MacCall.
So up they jumped with shouts of glee, and gaily hurried forth.
Said they: "We never thought to see a piper in the North.
"Aye, all the lads and lassies braw went buzzing out like bees,
And Jock MacPherson there they saw, with red and rugged knees.
Full six foot four he strode the floor, a grizzled son of Skye,
With glory in his whiskers and with whisky in his eye.
With skelping stride and Scottish pride he towered above them all:
"And is he no' a bonny sight?" said Treasurer MacCall.
While President MacConnachie was fairly daft with glee,
And there was jubilation in the Scottish Commy-tee.
But the dancers seemed uncertain, and they signified their doubt,
By dashing back to eat as fast as they had darted out.
And someone raised the question 'twixt the coffee and the cakes:
"Does the Piper walk to get away from all the noise he makes?
"Then reinforced with fancy food they slowly trickled forth,
And watching in patronizing mood the Piper of the North.

Proud, proud was Jock MacPherson, as he made his bag-pipes skirl,
And he set his sporran swinging, and he gave his kilts a whirl.
And President MacConnachie was jumping like a flea,
And there was joy and rapture in the Scottish Commy-tee.
"Jist let them have their saxophones wi' constipated squall;
We're having Heaven's music now," said Treasurer MacCall.
But the dancers waxed impatient, and they rather seemed to fret
For Maloney and the jazz of his Hibernian Quartette.
Yet little recked the Piper, as he swung with head on high,
Lamenting with MacCrimmon on the heather hills of Skye.
With Highland passion in his heart he held the centre floor;
Aye, Jock MacPherson played as he had never played before.

Maloney's Irish melodists were sitting in their place,
And as Maloney waited, there was wonder in his face.
'Twas sure the gorgeous music - Golly! wouldn't it be grand
If he could get MacPherson as a member of his band?
But the dancers moped and mumbled, as around the room they sat:
"We paid to dance," they grumbled; "But we cannot dance to that.
Of course we're not denying that it's really splendid stuff;
But it's mighty satisfying - don't you think we've had enough?"
"You've raised a pretty problem," answered Treasurer MacCall;
"For on Saint Andrew's Night, ye ken, the Piper rules the Ball.
"Said President MacConnachie: "You've said a solemn thing.
Tradition holds him sacred, and he's got to have his fling.
But soon, no doubt, he'll weary out. Have patience; bide a wee."
"That's right. Respect the Piper," said the Scottish Commy-tee.

And so MacPherson stalked the floor, and fast the moments flew,
Till half an hour went past, as irritation grew and grew.
The dancers held a council, and with faces fiercely set,
They hailed Maloney, heading his Hibernian Quartette:
"It's long enough, we've waited. Come on, Mike, play up the Blues."
And Maloney hesitated, but he didn't dare refuse.
So banjo and piano, and guitar and saxophone
Contended with the shrilling of the chanter and the drone;
And the women's ears were muffled, so infernal was the din,
But MacPherson was unruffled, for he knew that he would win.
Then two bright boys jazzed round him, and they sought to play the clown,
But MacPherson jolted sideways, and the Sassenachs went down.
And as if it was a signal, with a wild and angry roar,
The gates of wrath were riven - yet MacPherson held the floor.

Aye, amid the rising tumult, still he strode with head on high,
With ribbands gaily streaming, yet with battle in his eye.
Amid the storm that gathered, still he stalked with Highland pride,
While President and Treasurer sprang bravely to his side.
And with ire and indignation that was glorious to see,
Around him in a body ringed the Scottish Commy-tee.
Their teeth were clenched with fury; their eyes with anger blazed:
"Ye manna touch the Piper," was the slogan that they raised.
Then blows were struck, and men went down; yet 'mid the rising fray
MacPherson towered in triumph - and he never ceased to play.

Alas! his faithful followers were but a gallant few,
And faced defeat, although they fought with all the skill they knew.
For President MacConnachie was seen to slip and fall,
And o'er his prostrate body stumbled Treasurer MacCall.
And as their foes with triumph roared, and leagured them about,
It looked as if their little band would soon be counted out.
For eyes were black and noses red, yet on that field of gore,
As resolute as Highland rock - MacPherson held the floor.

Maloney watched the battle, and his brows were bleakly set,
While with him paused and panted his Hibernian Quartette.
For sure it is an evil spite, and breaking to the heart,
For Irishmen to watch a fight and not be taking part.
Then suddenly on high he soared, and tightened up his belt:
"And shall we see them crush," he roared, "a brother and a Celt?
A fellow artiste needs our aid. Come on, boys, take a hand."
Then down into the mêlée dashed Maloney and his band.

Now though it was Saint Andrew's Ball, yet men of every race,
That bow before the Great God Jazz were gathered in that place.
Yea, there were those who grunt: "Ya! Ya!" and those who squeak: "We! We!"
Likewise Dutch, Dago, Swede and Finn, Polack and Portugee.
Yet like ripe grain before the gale that national hotch-potch
Went down before the fury of the Irish and the Scotch.
Aye, though they closed their gaping ranks and rallied to the fray,
To the Shamrock and the Thistle went the glory of the day.

You should have seen the carnage in the drooling light of dawn,
Yet 'mid the scene of slaughter Jock MacPherson playing on.
Though all lay low about him, yet he held his head on high,
And piped as if he stood upon the caller crags of Skye.
His face was grim as granite, and no favour did he ask,
Though weary were his mighty lungs and empty was his flask.
And when a fallen foe wailed out: "Say! when will you have done?"
MacPherson grinned and answered: "Hoots! She's only haf' begun."
Aye, though his hands were bloody, and his knees were gay with gore,
A Grampian of Highland pride - MacPherson held the floor.

And still in Yukon valleys where the silent peaks look down,
They tell of how the Piper was invited up to town,
And he went in kilted glory, and he piped before them all,
But wouldn't stop his piping till he busted up the Ball.
Of that Homeric scrap they speak, and how the fight went on,
With sally and with rally till the breaking of the dawn.
And how the Piper towered like a rock amid the fray,
And the battle surged about him, but he never ceased to play.
Aye, by the lonely camp-fires, still they tell the story o'er-
How the Sassenach was vanquished and - MacPherson held the floor.

Andy Williams: It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

My Favorite Llama

If you travel I-64 through Southern Illinois you might be lucky enough to see this llama along the way. It is at a llama farm, but this one is a statue made of steel. Many years ago it was in the news because it had been stolen. It is an odd thing to steal, and I don't know how anyone could ever display it or fence the ill-gotten gains, because it is unique.

 One day I was looking at timber in the next county over and was walking down that track you see. It is an unused oilfield road, and comes off a dirt road that is difficult to drive in dry weather. Off to one side I saw an animal head. When you see deer while woods-walking you don't stop or turn your head. Make eye contact and the animal will bolt, but a solid sideways glance showed that this was no deer. It was a welded up, all-steel llama! This was before I had a smart phone, so I finished looking at the timber and got back to the office, where I called the neighboring sheriff. "Are you still looking for a llama?" "You Found The LLAMA?" A backhoe operator was called and a local game warden went out to collect it and make an official report, and it went home to its place by I-64. I look at it every time I drive by. 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

How Many Chickens Could You Feed...

 ...if you had a passel of young'uns to turn all the cranks?

                                                            Back To The Old Grind!

Christmas In Prison, John Prine

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Real Life Lessons To Avoid Impact Injuries

Open face falling and bore cutting applied through the five step plan will go far to protect you from injuries and death. Learn proper cutting methods from trainers like Tim Ard, and you will avoid the drama of ambulances, helicopters, and emergency rooms. Tim Ard's YouTube Channel:

Sleigh Ride, The Five Browns

Weekend Steam II: Vids By Classic Enthusiast

 I'm not sure just what I think about Shorts on YouTube. They are promoted as a way to get viewers for your longer videos that you pull Shorts from, but I am seeing lots of Shorts with no link to a longer video. Oh Well, this engine is a pretty mill engine. No info is provided on the make or horsepower, or where it is located. Thank You for the link, Merle!

And Wait, there's more! This channel has a longer video of an Avery Undermounted traction engine!

Friday, November 25, 2022

Weekend Steam: Western Maryland 1309

 Lonesome whistle, double exhaust, squealing flanges, and lots of cameras clicking. Thank You, Merle for the Western Maryland link!

Took A Little Hike Today,

...and found no trespassers! They were probably in a turkey coma this morning. I did find a shed antler from last winter, and that was a nice surprise. Mama Deer and her two babies spent some time in the yard today and hardly noticed me when I was out in the driveway.

Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

More Trespass News

This one was on us, so I am going to have to patrol more. I have been minimizing my time walking the timber so I don't disturb the resident deer any more than necessary. Disturbances can hurt the hunts of our friends, plus push deer out of cover where poachers can get them. I did a tour the other day and noticed a black cherry tree that had been climbed by a portable deer stand. Putting on the grumpy face is going to necessary, I guess. You gotta reinforce your reputation once in a while.


Well, That Wasn't Too Bad

You can see where the water pump was leaking down the return side. I am glad I caught it. It had pulled all the antifreeze out of the overflow tank, but no harm was done. The old truck now has a new water pump, new serpentine belt, new idlers, a new lower radiator hose, and new antifreeze. If you drive an old truck you always have something to do!


The Trespassers You Will Always Have With You

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Deer Season Report

 Our friends, Dusty and George have spent a bunch of time this Fall in our timber bow hunting, and this weekend, firearm hunting. Saturday was windy and the deer stayed out of sight until dusk, when they came out in bunches. Sunday morning was calm and at 6:45 we heard Dusty shoot. He got a very nice buck through the heart. Dusty lost sight of the deer and came in so it would lie down. When we went out again to look for it, it had gone about 75 yards before going down. 

Ten days ago, George bagged a good buck with a crossbow and we retrieved it with the tractor.

A few days after that buck, George got another one! Dusty came to help him retrieve this one, and he had a meaningful deer blessing before they loaded it. "Thank God it died by the road!"  I gotta say that I am impressed by the hunting skill of our friends! This photo is by Dusty.

Building Crane Mats


Back To The Old Grind!

Weekend Steam II: Grand Parade Of Steam, Vancouver, 1986

 Nice pick, Merle. Many Thanks!

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Well, Dippersticks!

 NAPA will have a water pump for me Monday. Oh Well, or words to that effect. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Weekend Steam: Rare Heilman Traction Engine

 This Heilman engine is a rare one, and it is a wonder that it has survived. It was sold to a scrapper in Missouri, but that fellow liked certain antiques and he set it aside. A collector near the east coast learned about it and was able to buy it. He did some restoration work, and passed away, but photos of the engine were published. Another engine collector hunted the engine down and was able to buy it from the widow. He did some more restoration work, and it was recently acquired by a collector in the Midwest. Seeing this engine under steam at Boonville, Indiana was a real treat.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Firearm Deer Season Starts Friday, November 18...

...and I am hoping we don't hear cannonades in the morning. Sometimes it sounds like a war firing up on the first day. It will be cold in the morning with a NW wind, so hunters will have to climb down early and retreat to their 4WD pickups and coffee bottles. I wish young bucks like these two were safe, but many hunters will shoot any deer with antlers. These two crossed our driveway during the morning, Thursday, November 17.


Work That I Don't Have To Do

I got so excited that I almost ran to get over there. Almost. Firearm deer season starts tomorrow, and I think this will help our hunters.  Deer always check out disturbances, and the smell of newly cut weeds, brush and leaves is strong. It should cover a bit of human odor. At least that is a positive thought.  And I don't have to mow it down this fall! That is a good thing. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Indian Trail Tree?

 Trail trees are a legend, but anyone who works in the timber knows how they really happen. They are still being made today.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Tuesday Torque: Associated At Boonville

 The Fall show at Boonville, Indiana is one of our favorite engine shows. The weather if usually great, and the ticks and mosquitoes are gone. We didn't see everything we wanted because we kept seeing old friends and we wanted to visit. Good Times, Great Folks!

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Munch, Munch


                                                             Back To The Old Grind!

Weekend Steam II: Clover Valley Lumber Co. #4

Good One, Merle. Thank You! 

A few clips of the test run with part of the Niles Canyon Railway's vintage freight car collection of Clover Valley Lumber Co. #4, one of the railroad's operable steam locomotives. The test was a success. The Niles Canyon Railway is a non-profit tourist railroad that runs between Niles/Fremont, CA and Sunol, CA in the SF Bay Area of California. CRHPhotog

Friday, November 11, 2022

A Brief Reading From Ernie Pyle

 I always like to pull Ernie Pyle from the bookshelf on Veterans' Day and reflect a bit on the experiences of World War II vets. Here is a brief excerpt from Ernie's time at Anzio. It's not the stuff of movies or war novels, but it's real. From Hospital Ship in Brave Men, (At Anzio) "Once out there we had to lie off and wait for an hour or so while other LCTs finished unloading their wounded. As we lay at anchor, the officer in charge decided to transfer the walking wounded off another LCT onto ours. So it drew alongside, threw a line, and the two ships came against each other. The slightly wounded and sick men jumped across whenever the ships hit together. 

A heavy swell was running and the ships would draw a few feet apart and then come together with a terrific bang. It was punishing to the wounded men. I stood among them, and every time we hit they would shut their eyes and clench their teeth. 

One man, nearly covered with a cast, looked at me pleadingly and said, "Don't those blankety-blank so and sos know there are men here who are badly hurt?"

Occasionally shells screamed across the town and exploded in the water in our vicinity. The wounded men didn't cringe or pay any attention to this near danger, but the pounding of the ships together made them wild."

Weekend Steam: New Hope Fall Foliage Train

 Never heard of this one before, Merle! Thanks for spotting! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Most Neglected Part Of Chainsaws...

 ... is the bearing inside the sprocket.  We really like the drilled crankshaft on all of our previous Husqvarna saws, but now we have to grease them just like Stihl owners do. Oh Well, or words to that effect. At the end of the video you will see a good trick for snapping the E-Clip back into the groove. Don't do this in the woods. You will lose parts if you do that. At least I would!

Firewood From Our Dead Ash Trees

 After thinking on this a while, I think Susan and I planted these trees between 1995 and 2000. We are going to toss a bunch of walnuts in here and hope that the squirrels plant them for us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Veterans'/Armistice/Remembrance Day

 A lost compass case becomes an amazing story.

Veterans'/Armistice/Remembrance Day

 If you haven't heard Vincent J. Speranza's story, now is the time to fix that!

Veterans'/Armistice/Remembrance Day

 You don't need to understand French. The pictures tell enough.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Vermont, Inside The World's Largest Granite Quarry

Back To The Old Grind! 

Who's Gonna Feed Them Hogs?


                                                                Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Weekend Steam II: Gaar Scott Portable On The Prony Brake

Listen, and you will hear the brake operator tell the numbers.  This engine was cranking out 96 horsepower and 732 foot pounds of torque. This was at Western Minnesota Threshers Reunion at Rollag, Minnesota.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

One Bradford Pear Is On The Ground, Two More To Go

 The heavy limb is gone from the other side, so now we can drop the main stem easily.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Bradford Pears Have Got To Go!

The Bradford pears have been here for a bit more than 35 years, and it is time for them to go. We started today, taking off limbs that throw off the balance or tangle with a neighboring tree. Stand back a bit and be ready to step back when out-of-balance stems pop as this one does. They move fast!

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Staggeringly Beautiful Climb With Tristan Of SUV RVing

 Get a cup of coffee, belt into your easy chair, and follow Tristan on an adventurous climb.