Sunday, December 30, 2007

Barn fire at a neighbors

Our local fire department, along with units from surrounding towns, responded to a fire at a shed south and east of here on December 27. This is right across the road from a farm that I rent. The shed was mostly full of small hay bales that had been in there for about 4 years, along with some machinery (which got pulled out). The fire chief believes faulty wiring was the culprit.

Here are some pics:

Fires like these are extremely difficult to put out - dry hay can smolder for days if not properly cooled. The HFD used 10 gallons of smothering foam concentrate on this fire - it's mixed at a 1:100 ratio with water, so you know they used a lot of it on this fire.

Hats off to the men and women of the Humeston, Corydon, and Allerton Fire Departments and First Responders, as well as the Wayne Co Sheriff, Emergency Management, and Ambulance offices. No one was hurt, but all were involved.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Car - manure applicator accident

These were taken about a month or more ago...I just now got around to posting them. A Dodge Neon struck the back of the 6000 gallon manure applicator north of here in Lucas County. Our Humeston Fire Dept and First Responders were called out. Fortunately, no one was killed, but the driver of the car did require (as I was told) reconstructive surgery. The manure applicator did have his flashing lights on, but it appeared that the driver did not see them. The driver was medi-vac'ed to Mercy via helicopter - it landed on the high school football field in town.

For moving your corn and beans in 2008...

Since corn is well above $4.00/bu and beans have topped $12.00/bu, I think it might be time to consider a better, more secure way to transport your crop to market.

OK, so this is an "artist's rendition," (Actually, a pretty poor one by yours truely), but you get the idea. Turrets on each side, front and back, with 20mm cannons, and a .50 cal M60 mounted on top. M1 Abrams to pull the rig is optional.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Huckabee's latest Truth Squad update

Here's something for you Huckabee Haters out there - the truth.

Read carefully - you might learn something.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The ghost of Ronald Reagan

I don't really understand why some get all worked up about Ronald Reagan, considering him to be the greatest president we've ever had. He's supposed to be the standard bearer of all things conservative.

Now, I was just starting to become "politically aware" during Reagan's terms, but from my stand point at the time, I didn't think too highly of him.

Especially of his budget director David Stockman.

The fact that the name of the president's budget director can become etched into the memory of a 12 year old must mean something.

In my case, Stockman, and Reagan by proxy, was the guy that wanted to put my father's farming operation out business. He was the one that basically said we were not needed anymore.

I remember going to the National Farm Crisis Rally in Ames in January 1985 and seeing a fake coffin that said "Drive a nail into David Stockman's coffin." That stuck with me.

I remember Reagan saying "Maybe we should keep the grain and export the farmers." That stuck with me.

So, maybe the rest of the world was better off because of Ronald Reagan, but I didn't think so at the time.

Of course, he did help bring down the Soviet Union, and I think that was a good thing. Too bad we decided to keep our bloated military structure, instead of reconfiguring it to meet different threats.

And he did get inflation under control. That was a good thing, too. But we spent ourselves into the red with budget deficits that we still have today.

So, Ronaldus Magnus, as Rush Limbaugh would like to say, isn't atop my most favorite president list. I can't stand by and agree with other conservatives that he is the standard by which today's conservatives must be measured. Not with what has been etched in my memory.

Mike Huckabee, Christianity, and the rest of the world

So, I've been reading a lot of flak about Mike Huckabee and his faith on other websites, especially blogs and such. Some say he wants to turn our country into a theocracy. Others compare him to Pat Robertson, an tele-evangelist hawking for dollars. Some say he isn't even "conservative", whatever that means.

Listen, do I think that Huckabee is the savior of this country? No, I don't. I honestly don't think if we elect him that the skies will be blue, the rivers will run clean, and frogs and rabbits will dance an Irish jig in glee with each other. In other words, Mike Huckabee isn't the second coming of Jesus. Who would believe Jesus came from Arkansas, anyway? (Well, the Mormons believe(d) that the Garden of Eden was in NC Missouri, but that's another story).

No, I don't think that all will be well when Mike is elected. But guess what? The same problems will exist if/when Hillary, Obama, Mitt, Rudy, Fred, or Mark Klein MD is elected.

But, I believe Mike is the right guy to unite this country and bring us back on the right track. He is not devisive, or nearly as much Hillary or Mitt. He has a proven track record of working with both sides of the isle. He has improved conditions for people of his state.

Mike Huckabee is not without flaws; I don't think anyone is claiming that. But when such flaws are found, they are usually less of an issue related to leadership than other candidates. Was he a "true conservative?" Probably not, but neither was Ronald Reagan during his entire political career, either.

Huckabee has real leadership experience. He's a likeable guy who has not separated himself into an elite ivory tower, but rather can relate to people on their level. He's a Christian that doesn't show his beliefs off to others, but shows it through his faith and works.

But go vote for whoever you want; we get an opportunity to help select our next leadership only every four years. Who knows, it might be the last time, if Hillary is elected.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pulling vehicles out of mud and snow

Ah, 'tis the season for snow and ice to melt and turn the soil into mud. Feels like February.

I managed to get the feed truck stuck yesterday at the farm. Fortunately, the tractor was ready to go and I pulled it out with some coaxing. I may have taken a little paint off the bumper, but that's OK.

However, don't do what these guys did:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Life in Hillaryland, er, Canada


My family and I escaped the grips of Iowa's latest round of winter storms on Friday on a flight out of Kansas City for a place that was sure to be warmer than Iowa...Canada?

We went to see my sister and family in Chatham, Ontario. It is about an hour east of Detroit. They moved there from Minneapolis about 4 years ago - in fact, they moved SOUTH to get there. We flew into Detroit, rented a van, and headed out on the 401.

Now, I was prepared for some of Canada's quirks, like seeing signs in both French and English, and the profuse use of the metric system. But I was not totally ready for the culture shock.

1) GST (goods and service tax) and provincial tax. 6% and 8%, respectfully. That means you pay 14% sales tax on 'bout everything. OUCH!

2) The Beer Store - You can only buy beer from The Beer Store, which is run by the government. You tell them what you want, they go and get it and roll it out. Even crappy beer costs more than a dollar per bottle or can.

3) Cigarettes - I don't smoke, but I found that at least 50% of the outside packaging of a pack of smokes must have warning labels on them. This includes, but not limited to, pictures of cancer-ridden lips and gums.

4) Intrusive government - My niece was required to have her teeth checked by the government. My sister then received a letter in the mail saying that her daughter required urgent medical attention, and that she must respond within 90 days. The problem? A cavity was found. If my sister didn't respond, however, the Canadian version of DHS would be on her and my niece could end up in a foster home!

Now, don't get me wrong - I like Chatham and I like visiting my sister's family. The land is very flat and fertile, and the people are friendly. I suppose I could get used to things if I had to. It is almost like America, but not's almost like a Twilight Zone episode.

But, my dear reader, I fear that the United States under a Hillary presidency would transform our fair country into a Canada-like workers' paradise. Taxes, government intrusion, and nannyism would go up, individual rights, freedom, and business would go down.

Their beer OK, by the way, but I'll stick with Budweiser.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention this: The Canadian version of Mountain Dew does not have caffeine! Sacrilegious!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

61 hours without electricity

Well, we made it through the great ice storm of '07. We lost power around 7 AM Tuesday morning and didn't get it back until just after 8 PM Thursday night.

On Tuesday moring, we dealt with it OK, as we had been without power for 3 hours about 10 days before. I went out in the freezing rain and delivered 3 bales of hay to a neighbor for his cows. I figured the power would be on in no time after that.

By that afternoon, we had gone over to my folks at Garden Grove. They were without power as well, but had a woodburning fireplace that we could be around and stay warm. Dad had collected some scraps of wood from his wood shop, and it was nice. The kids played with the g-parents while Jackie and I rested in front of the fire. We went home later, around 7 PM, and noticed some houses in the country did have power, but others did not. I guess some lines were hit harder than others.

We all bundled up and slept at our house that night. Ah, a 10 hour rest was great (went to bed at 7:30 PM)! Woke up ready for the next day. No power yet, but we were refreshed.

That morning I went to check on my neighbors. One had left to stay with a sister-in-law, while the other was still at home, but OK. I noticed that the power line to our place was broken in at least two places. Later, we took the kids over to the grandparents again. I helped Dad cut some firewood from some dead, dry limbs of some old oak he was keeping around. They watched the kids again while Jackie took some books to the community center in Humeston that was now serving as a shelter. I went back to town to receive some pallets of feed that were to be delivered around 3 PM.

Upon arriving back to town I found that Broad St, our "Main Street", had power back on, as well as a few houses on the south side along a county highway. My truck driver showed up and I got the feed unloaded. He left, but called a few minutes later, stating that he had gotten his rig stuck near the city park after trying to turn around upon encountering a blocked road.

I went to pull him out with my 4wd truck, but to no avail. He was stuck. So, I went out to the farm to get a tractor. My 4450 was now cold from yesterday's hay delivery, and wouldn't start at all (need new batteries, maybe a starter). So, I got the 4640 going. However, it was still hitched up to the grain cart. I got everything disconnected but the PTO, which was iced. After pounding on it for a while, I said "forget it" and decided to take the tractor AND cart together.

So, I went into town with the 4640 and grain cart, bouncing along, and backed up to the stuck truck. Upon getting out, I found that the PTO shaft had disconnected from the tractor (wa la!). I went to another street, parked the grain cart in the middle of it, then proceeded to pull the semi out. By that time, a small crowd had appeared to watch the scene. Fortunately, we provided results. I took the tractor and cart back to the farm, drove the pickup back to town, found my cousin E (whose house the truck was previously next to), and drank some beer with him and friends. He complained that the truck may have kept him from getting power sooner, but I don't know about that.

By this time it was getting close to dark, so I headed over to the community center and found the rest of the family. They were finishing some hot soup. I made a cold cut sandwich, grabbed some chips, and finished it off with a bowl of chili. We decided that, since our house was too cold, we'd spend the night there.

Jackie went home to get our clothes and personal items. We found some cots at the end of the building, hoping the noise and light wouldn't bother the children. Well, it didn't quite work - Maddy was up and running around, keeping the rest of us up. Not a good deal. She was not used to the environment, obviously.

Just as we were ready to pack up and head back to our frigid house, a friend and church member Cheryl showed up to bring some extra blankets. She invited us to stay at her family's house (they had power turned on in the middle of the afternoon). What a relief and a blessing! Soon the kids were tucked into warm beds, and Jackie and I were off to dream land.

The next day (Thursday) brought us a warm breakfast from Cheryl, and Jackie and I off to separate tasks. She spent the morning getting laundry done in Indianola 45 miles away, while I worked in my office, getting it ready for this evening's Hometown Holiday Festival. I went back to the farm periodically to see if the power had come on, but it had not.

So, we kicked off the festivities this evening. A crew had been in town today, putting up our new street lights (only a few months behind schedule), but they didn't wire them in. So, for light, our fire crew brought out the new fire truck and turned on it's spot lights. That provided a lot of light. The community center, no longer a shelter, was home to a supper provided by the swimming pool committee. Santa was there for the kids, and drawings for prizes from various businesses, including mine.

Afterwards, I came home to find the lights in the house were ON. Jackie mentioned the power had been restored about 10 minutes before I walked in!

So, what did I learn from this experience? Sometimes slowing down is good; it allows us to reflect on what's going on, and maybe understand the direction we're headed in better. The power outage shows us Who is really in charge, and that we cannot do anything about it until He says so. The storm also brought out the best in people. We had offers for heat or housing tonight if we needed it.

The fact that the TV, computer, and lights didn't work wasn't so much of a problem as not having heat, hot water, or a way to keep food fresh. The problem becomes when our modern conveniences become, without electricity, inconvenient.

Thanks again for all those who helped out during the storm. First, thanks to the electric company crews for working around the clock to get things back up and running. Thanks to the local First Responders and Fire Dept for setting up shelter and serving food (one fire department worker stayed up all night, monitoring the generator the first night the power went out). Thanks to those who opened their homes to others to provide a warm bed for a night. Thanks to those who went above and beyond their duties to ensure their neighbors were safe.

I'm going to bed.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The politics of cattle ranching

I didn't come up with these, but merely compiled them from the Internet. With weaning season upon us, as well as the politics of the upcoming caucus, I find them to be rather interesting.

The Politics of Cattle Ranching

DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office that put a tax on your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money, buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous. Barbara Streisand sings for you.

REPUBLICAN: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?

SOCIALIST: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

COMMUNIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for hours to get it. It is expensive and soured.

FASCISM: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. You elect someone with the best face for TV to tell you how to take care of your cows.

DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them, then pays you not to do it. Then it takes both cows, shoots one, and milks the other one dry and pours out the milk. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the 2 cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.

AMERICAN CORPORATION, ENRON STYLE: You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax-exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public buys your bull.

FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch. Life is good.

BRITISH CORPORATION: You have two cows. Both are mad.

GERMAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they are all blonde, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour. Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

ITALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows but you don't know where they are. While wandering around, you see a beautiful woman. You break for lunch. Life is good.

SWISS CORPORATION: You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

POLISH CORPORATION: You have two bulls. Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.

RUSSIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You have some more vodka. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka. You produce your 10th, 5- year plan in the last 3 months. The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school. You create clever cow cartoon images called “Cowkimon” and market them worldwide.

CHINESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.

HINDU CORPORATION: You have two cows. You worship them.

FLORIDA CORPORATION: You have a black cow and a brown cow. Everyone votes for the best looking one. Some of the people who like the brown one best vote for the black one and some people vote for both. Some people vote for neither. Some people can't figure out how to vote at all. Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which is the best-looking one.

NEW YORK CORPORATION: You have fifteen million cows. You have to choose which one will be the leader of the herd, so you pick some fat cow from Arkansas.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The "kicked out of band" story

OK, since you want to know, here's the story about me getting kicked out of band in high school.

It was the fall of 1988. I was a sophomore. Not only was I in band, but I was a football manager with my cousin E.

So, homecoming comes around. Band director wants us to march in the homecoming parade. We decide to hop on the football team float, instead. No big deal, right?

Apparantly this ticked off the band director so much that when we went to get our instruments near half time of the game, he told us we wouldn't need them, because we were kicked out of band.

He also wanted to give us F's for the semester for doing so.

Fortunately, it got changed to "I" for Incomplete.

So, no more marching around in wet grass, no more wearing ugly uniforms, no more getting yelled at.

I think we came out ahead.

E, you can reply if I got the story wrong.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

We Got The Beat, or something

Remember the song "We Got The Beat" by the Go Go's from the early 80's? Catchy little tune. We played that in pep band during basketball games (before I got kicked out of band, but that's a different story).

Tonight I was checking out YouTube and the video for the song was promoted, so I watch it.

Man, Belinda Carlisle was quite peppy in that video, even while wearing high heels.

But, watch another video of the same song, and it looks like she's just phoning it in. "Yeah, we got the beat, I guess, or something."

The amazing thing is that they are 'pert near grandmothers by now. The lead guitarist/keyboardist Charlotte Caffey is 53. Carlisle is 49 (wonder if she still has that baby fat?). 'Course, they were in their mid twenties when their hits came out, and I suppose 1982 is a few years ago by now...

Another bizarre song related fact - Children conceived while their parents listened to Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" are now graduating from high school.

Disconnect with TV Land

So, when I came back in from moving equipment this morning, we had The Today Show on to check for updates about the weather. Now, other than a few kids DVD's, we hardly watch TV anymore. We only get 3 channels, and I won't spring for a dish at this point.

So, the Today Show had a couple of segments. One had a guy telling us about high priced cheese. Stuff that costs $25/lb and can be found at a "cheese store". He also informed us about what accessory foods should be bought with the cheese, such as bagettes (sp), not to mention wine, etc.

The other segment was another fellow giving tips on decorating the house for Christmas. He tried to be funny by loading up some old plastic Santa decorations and leaving them on someone's front step.

Other than the "foo-foo" nature of the topics of these segments, I had to ask out loud: Could NBC find any more gayer men to do these segments? OK, maybe metrosexual (their persuasion was not identified), but man alive, what kind of guy goes on national television and gives us tips on decorating? I can somewhat respect the knowledge about cheese, but again, who the heck gives us tips on selecting wine and cheese and paying $25/lb for it?

OK, I made these observations after I had come in from the icy rain after trying to move equipment around and climbing an ice covered ladder of a grain bin. I had ice buildup on my hood and bill of my cap when I came in. I was cold and soaked. Almost the exact opposite of these foo-foo guys.

I might as well have been watching a lost TV program from Martians - I could not connect with what these guys were doing/offering. Another segment had to do with Broadway - what purpose does signing and dancing on a stage in front of people serve? Compared to what I'm trying to do (feed my family and others, make a little money, etc), it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Note - you can flame me all you want about the term "gayer men". I don't know if "gayer" is actually a word. I'm sure there are some hardworking gay men out there that would work in the ice and cold, and that sexual orientation makes no difference in occupation. Fine. I'm using and perpetuating a stereotype to make a point, and because stereotypes are oftentimes based on the truth, I use it so that many of my readers will understand. (Dig your hole a little deeper, Gunzy.)

December 1st blues

Sorry for not writing since before Thanksgiving. It's been hectic around here. We are still trying to get corn finished up. The 1% of Iowa's corn harvest that isn't done? That's probably me. We have about 110 acres left to do, or about 3 days if things work right.

The ice and rain we are getting today isn't encouraging, either. I got a load of DDGS yesterday and tried to unload it this morning. I don't think I can move the semi truck even 50 feet down a slight incline to the auger without potentially causing a 40 ton wreck in my farm yard. It's not going anywhere until the ice melts. I need to get feed out to my customers, but wrecking my equipment in the process isn't going to be a viable long term solution, either.

I think the Lord is teaching me a lesson - I'm not in control, He is. No matter how much I want to plan out how things should get done, and try to control things, He is still Lord over all. I must resign myself to that fact and be satisfied, nay, happy that He is looking over me.

No one ever said farming was an easy life. I'm sure even the best farmer of pure black Illinois soil has bad days (maybe his butler locked the keys in the Escalade...). Nonetheless, perseverance is required, even if it is lacking in supply.

I now have some time to spend with the family. I have been missing my children and wife. The funny things that Maddy, our 2 yr old redhead does, or Grady, our 4 yr old engineer-to-be, says about how things work. I can now talk to my wife about what is going on in her life, and we can attempt to parent as a team again.

The corn will get harvested. The feed will get delivered. The cows will be fed. I just need to be patient.