Friday, July 31, 2009

Sorry for the silence!

Bet a bunch o' you have been wondering if I dropped off the face of the earth. Sorry about that!

I was on a business trip that lasted from early (as in, 4 am) Wednesday morning (7/22) and lasted until late Wednesday (7/29) night. I needed to go to Portland (Oregon), a nine-hour drive. It wasn't until I was about three hours away from home that I remembered I hadn't put anything on my blog. No internet access for the duration, of course. So I say again, sorry for the silence.

I had 325+ emails waiting for me when I got home. I still have 175 to get through. I have houseguests coming in tomorrow. I have a sick dog. Been a busy week.

I'll post some photos of the trip when I have a breather. In the meantime, thanks for your patience!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cutest rear-end you will ever see

Okay okay, the term "rear end" wasn't in the caption when I got this pic. The term started with "a" and ended with "ss." But my daughters look at my blog every so often, and I didn't need to shock them too much...


Got this in response to my weekend column. Uh, does anyone have any idea what this guy's talking about?

Nice to be a selective 'Christian', isn't it?

God says, "persecuted, we suffer it" 1 Corinthians 4:12

America says, "persecuted, we KILL it" 1776 - 2009

America always contradicts God's Word. CONTRADICTS Jesus Christ.

It's a pity you won't stand before G. Washington, J Farah, and the boys in THAT day, they'd give you a great big hug, and a pat on the back.

You will stand before the one you contradict. Contradict, meaning, of course, that you prefered the words of men, over the Word of God!

Do you really think people who call God a liar go to Heaven? Matthew 7:20 - 23

Does your 'pastor' have to tell you everything?



Political correctness defined

Apparently there is an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term. When the term "political correctness" came up, the winning definition was as follows:

"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Butchering day for chickens

Today was butchering day for our fourteen Cornish-cross chickens.

Cornish-crosses, for those who don’t know, are meat birds. They gain weight with a speed and seriousness awesome to behold. While the rest of our chicks were growing at a regular rate, our Cornish-crosses were doubling and tripling in size. They were always gathered at the feed trough, gobbling food as fast as possible and converting it into meat. They were not quite two months old (born May 20) on their butchering day.

Sorry the photos aren’t the clearest – they kept moving. But these birds are the same age. Obviously the meat birds are the white ones.

They started out as cute little yellow balls of fluff, and soon metamorphosed into huge weird freaky mutant chickens nearly incapable of standing on their own two legs. Literally. In fact, one bird dislocated both her legs last week. They simply buckled under her own weight. It was grotesque.

We had plans to butcher the flock at the end of August, when we had a breather in our schedule. Both Don and I are inept enough at butchering that we both needed to be involved. But when this chicken dislocated her legs and resorted to flopping around the coop, we knew we had to butcher them sooner as an act of mercy. Unfortunately we’re in the throes of our busy season, and two back-to-back business trips meant we had to postpone butchering until early August at the soonest.

So we got wind of a lady who does chicken butchering, and I finally was able to track her down. She is located in Athol, nearly a two-hour drive north, and she said she could squeeze me in on Saturday morning if I could be there by 9 am.

So this morning I got up at 4:30, drank a cup of tea, caught up on the internet news, milked the cow, did the barn chores, and by 6:45 am had the huge weird freaky mutant chickens stuffed in a cage (with overflow chickens in a box) in the car.

Driving for nearly two hours with fourteen huge weird freaky mutant chickens in the car isn’t a whole lotta fun, but I got to this lady’s house (well, barn) and she had the dirty deed done in just a little over an hour. I wished I’d had the camera so I could document all the steps for you, my loyal readers. Then again, maybe it’s good I didn’t have the camera after all.

Some might argue that we whimped out by not butchering the chickens ourselves. On the other hand, this lady charged – drum roll, please – a whopping $2.25 per bird to butcher, and had all fourteen done in about 1.25 hours. Left to our inept hands, it would have taken my husband and me all day to butcher fourteen huge weird freaky mutant chickens. So despite the long drive, I consider it time and money well spent. Now we have fourteen fat birds in the freezer, ranging from 5.5 to 6.5 lbs each.

But if you wanted to insist that we whimped out on butchering, I probably wouldn’t argue too much. Not my favorite thing to do, butchering chickens. Though, let the record show, I can do it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Taxed to death

A friend sent this to me.
Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table At which he's fed.
Tax his tractor, Tax his mule, Teach him taxes Are the rule.
Tax his work, Tax his pay, He works for peanuts Anyway!
Tax his cow, Tax his goat, Tax his pants, Tax his coat.
Tax his ties, Tax his shirt, Tax his work, Tax his dirt.
Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink, Tax him if he Tries to think.
Tax his cigars, Tax his beers, If he cries Tax his tears.
Tax his car, Tax his gas, Find other ways To tax him fast!
Tax all he has Then let him know That you won't be done Till he has no dough.
When he screams and hollers, Then tax him more, Tax him till He's good and sore.
Then tax his coffin, Tax his grave, Tax the sod in Which he's laid.
Put these words upon his tomb, Taxes drove me to my doom
When he's gone, Do not relax, It's time to apply The inheritance tax

* Accounts Receivable Tax
* Building Permit Tax
* CDL license Tax
* Cigarette Tax
* Corporate Income Tax
* Dog License Tax
* Excise Taxes
* Federal Income Tax
* Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
* Fishing License Tax
* Food License Tax
* Fuel Permit Tax
* Gasoline Tax (42 cents per gallon)
* Gross Receipts Tax
* Hunting License Tax
* Inheritance Tax
* Inventory Tax
* IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
* Liquor Tax
* Luxury Taxes
* Marriage License Tax
* Medicare Tax
* Personal Property Tax
* Privilege Tax
* Property Tax
* Real Estate Tax
* Recreational Vehicle Tax
* Road Usage Tax
* Service Charge Tax
* Social Security Tax
* Sales Tax
* School Tax
* State Income Tax
* State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
* Telephone Federal Excise Tax
* Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
* Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
* Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
* Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
* Telephone State and Local Tax
* Telephone Usage Charge Tax
* Use Tax
* Utility Taxes
* Vehicle License Registration Tax
* Vehicle Sales Tax
* Watercraft Registration Tax
* Well Permit Tax
* Workers Compensation Tax

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What in the world happened? Can you spell "politicians?" And I still have to press 1 for English!?!?!?!?

GO AHEAD - - - BE AN AMERICAN! Send this around the USA at least 100 times!

Goodbye, Walter

Walter Cronkite is gone. Ouch, that hurts.

I'm not saying I always agreed with the man's political opinions. But I grew up with him. He was a mainstay in our home. He began anchoring about five months before I was born, and nearly nightly I heard his jovial voice saying, "And THAT'S the way it is." Until I left my parent's home in 1980 and went off to school, Walter was a daily guest.

Possibly because of this, I always had a warm fuzzy feeling whenever I saw his face or heard his voice. When I became more politically "aware" and realized that Walter and I diverged in many areas, it was actually painful. But regardless, there's no question Walter Cronkite was the voice of America for all of my formative years.

May you rest in peace, Mr. Cronkite. Thanks for everything.

Hint: the boat goes FIRST

Chuckle du jour

Pinocchio, Snow White, and Superman are out for a stroll in town one day. As they walk, they come across a sign: "Beauty contest for the most beautiful woman in the world."

"I’m entering!" said Snow White.

After half an hour she comes out and they ask her, "Well, how'd you do?"

"First Place," said Snow White.

They continue walking and they see a sign: "Contest for the strongest man in the world."

"I'm entering," says Superman.

After half an hour, he returns and they ask him, "How did you make out?"

"First Place," answers Superman. "Did you ever doubt it?"

They continue walking when they see a sign: "Contest to see who is the greatest liar in the world."

Pinocchio enters.

After half an hour he returns with tears in his eyes.

"What happened?" they asked.

"Who the hell is Nancy Pelosi?" asked Pinocchio.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Let's revisit "the good old days"

Here are some statistics from a hundred years ago in 1909 - some good, some bad:

- The average life expectancy was 47 years.

- Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

- Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

- There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.

- The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

- The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

- The average wage in 1909 was 22 cents per hour.

- The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

- A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

- More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.

- Ninety percent of all doctors had no college education. Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as ‘substandard.’

- Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

- Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

- Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

- The five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

- The American flag had 45 stars.

- The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.

- Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.

- There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

- Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

- Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.”

- Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

- There were about 230 reported murders in the entire USA!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Magnificent words by Charlton Heston

Winning the Culture War
By Charlton Heston

Note: This is the text of Charlton Heston's speech on "Winning the cultural war" Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2002, at Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall at Harvard Law School. This was sponsored by the Harvard Law School Forum, a student organization at Harvard Law School.

I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. "My Daddy," he said, "pretends to be people."

There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo. If you want the ceiling re-painted, I'll do my best.

It's just that there always seems to be a lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy.

As I pondered our visit tonight, it struck me: If my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to re-connect you with your own sense of liberty … your own freedom of thought … your own compass for what is right.

Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of America, "We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure." Those words are true again … I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that's about to hijack your birthright to think and say what lives in your heart.

I fear you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you … the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is.

Let me back up a little. About a year ago, I became president of the National Rifle Association, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. I ran for office, I was elected and now I serve … I serve as a moving target for the media who've called me everything from "ridiculous" and "duped" to a "brain-injured, senile, crazy old man." I know, I'm pretty old … but I sure Lord ain't senile.

As I have stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I've realized that firearms are not the only issue.

No, it's much, much bigger than that.

I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated.

For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 – long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist.

I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But, when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe.

I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But during a speech, when I drew an analogy between singling out innocent Jews and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite.

Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country. But, when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.

From Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're essentially saying, "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind like that? You are using language not authorized for public consumption!"

But, I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys – subjects bound to the British crown.

In his book, "The End of Sanity," Martin Gross writes that "blatantly irrational behavior is rapidly being established as the norm in almost every area of human endeavor. There seem to be new customs, new rules, new anti-intellectual theories regularly foisted on us from every direction. Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know something without a name is undermining the country, turning the mind mushy when it comes to separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And, they don't like it."

Let me read a few examples.

At Antioch college in Ohio, young men seeking intimacy with a coed must get verbal permission at each step of the process from kissing to petting to final copulation … all clearly spelled out in a printed college directive.

In New Jersey, despite the death of several patients nationwide who had been infected by dentists who had concealed their AIDs, the state commissioner announced that health providers who are HIV positive need not … need not … tell their patients that they are infected.

At William and Mary, students tried to change the name of the school team "The Tribe" because it was supposedly insulting to local Indians, only to learn that authentic Virginia chiefs truly like the name.

In San Francisco, city fathers passed an ordinance protecting the rights of transvestites to cross-dress on the job, and for transsexuals to have separate toilet facilities while undergoing sex-change surgery.

In New York City, kids who don't speak a word of Spanish have been placed in bilingual classes to learn their three R's in Spanish solely because their last names sound Hispanic.

At the University of Pennsylvania, in a state where thousands died at Gettysburg opposing slavery, the president of that college officially set up segregated dormitory space for black students.

Yeah, I know. That's out of bounds now. Dr. King said "negroes." Jimmy Baldwin and most of us on the march said "black." But it's a no-no now.

For me, hyphenated identities are awkward … particularly "Native-American." I'm a Native American, for God's sake. I also happen to be a blood-initiated brother of the Miniconjou Sioux. On my wife's side, my grandson is a 13th generation native American … with the capital letter on "American."

Finally, just last month … David Howard, head of the Washington, D.C., Office of Public Advocate, used the word "niggardly" while talking to colleagues about budgetary matters. Of course, "niggardly" means stingy or scanty. But, within days, Howard was forced to publicly apologize and resign.

As columnist Tony Snow wrote: "David Howard got fired because some people in public employ were morons who (a) didn't know the meaning of 'niggardly,' (b) didn't know how to use a dictionary to discover the meaning and (c) actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance."

What does all this mean? It means that telling us what to think has evolved into telling us what to say, so telling us what to do can't be far behind.

Before you claim to be a champion of free thought, tell me: Why did political correctness originate on America's campuses? And why do you continue to tolerate it?

Why do you, who're supposed to debate ideas, surrender to their suppression?

Let's be honest. Who here thinks your professors can say what they really believe?

That scares me to death. It should scare you too, that the superstition of political correctness rules the halls of reason.

You are the best and the brightest. You, here in the fertile cradle of American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River, you are the cream. But I submit that you, and your counterparts across the land, are the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge. And as long as you validate that … and abide it … you are – by your grandfathers' standards – cowards.

Here's another example. Right now, at more than one major university, Second Amendment scholars and researchers are being told to shut up about their findings or they'll lose their jobs. Why? Because their research findings would undermine big-city mayor's pending lawsuits that seek to extort hundreds of millions of dollars from firearm manufacturers.

I don't care what you think about guns. But if you are not shocked at that, I am shocked at you. Who will guard the raw material of unfettered ideas, if not you? Democracy is dialogue!

Who will defend the core value of academia, if you supposed soldiers of free thought and expression lay down your arms and plead, "Don't shoot me."

If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist.

If you see distinctions between the genders, it does not make you sexist.

If you think critically about a denomination, it does not make you anti-religion.

If you accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe.

Don't let America's universities continue to serve as incubators for this rampant epidemic of new McCarthyism.

But what can you do? How can anyone prevail against such pervasive social subjugation? The answer's been here all along.

I learned it 36 years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., standing with Dr. Martin Luther King and 200,000 people.

You simply … disobey.

Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course. Nonviolently, absolutely.

But when told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we don't. We disobey social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal freedom.

I learned the awesome power of disobedience from Dr. King … who learned it from Gandhi, and Thoreau, and Jesus and every other great man who led those in the right against those with the might.

Disobedience is in our DNA. We feel innate kinship with that disobedient spirit that tossed tea into Boston Harbor, that sent Thoreau to jail, that refused to sit in the back of the bus, that protested a war in Vietnam.

In that same spirit, I am asking you to disavow cultural correctness with massive disobedience of rogue authority, social directives and onerous laws that weaken personal freedom.

But be careful … it hurts. Disobedience demands that you put yourself at risk. Dr. King stood on lots of balconies.

You must be willing to be humiliated … to endure the modem-day equivalent of the police dogs at Montgomery and the water cannons at Selma.

You must be willing to experience discomfort. I'm not complaining, but my own decades of social activism have left their mark on me.

Let me tell you a story. A few years back I heard about a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD called "Cop Killer" celebrating ambushing and murdering police officers. It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the world. Police across the country were outraged. Rightfully so – at least one had been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the CD was a cash cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around it because the rapper was black.

I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills. I owned some shares at the time, so I decided to attend. What I did there was against the advice of my family and colleagues. I asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of "Cop Killer" – every vicious, vulgar, instructional word.

"I got my 12-gauge sawed-off. I got my headlights turned off. I'm about to bust some shots off. I'm about to dust some cops off …" It got worse, a lot worse. I won't read the rest of it to you. But trust me, the room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. The Time/Warner executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that.

Then, I delivered another volley of sick lyrics brimming with racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year-old nieces of Al and Tipper Gore. "She pushed her butt against my …"

Well, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left the room in echoing silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press corps, one of them said "We can't print that." "I know," I replied, "but Time/Warner's selling it."

Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never be offered another film by Warner, or get a good review from Time magazine. But disobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk.

When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself … jam the switchboard of the district attorney's office.

When your university is pressured to lower standards until 80 percent of the students graduate with honors … choke the halls of the board of regents.

When an 8-year-old boy pecks a girl's cheek on the playground and gets hauled into court for sexual harassment … march on that school and block its doorways. When someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you … petition them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine's cover portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross as it did last month … boycott their magazine and the products it advertises.

So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this country.

If Dr. King were here, I think he would agree.

Thank you.

Let's hear it for the crackpots

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.

'I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.'

The old woman smiled, 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.'

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.

You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

Chuckle du jour

Little Johnny

The teacher said, "Let's begin by reviewing some American History. Who said 'Give me Liberty , or give me Death'?"

She saw a sea of blank faces, except for Little Johnny, a bright Navajo Indian boy, who had his hand up: "Patrick Henry, 1775," he said.

"Very good! Who said, "Government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the Earth?'"

Again, no response except from Little Johnny. "Abraham Lincoln, 1863."

The teacher snapped at the class, "Class, you should be ashamed. Little Johnny knows more about history than you do."

She heard a loud whisper: "Screw the Indians."

"Who said that?" she demanded.

Little Johnny put his hand up. "General Custer, 1862."

At that point, a student in the back said, "I'm gonna puke."

The teacher glared around and asked, "All right!!! Now who said that!?"

Again, Little Johnny said, "George Bush to the Japanese Prime Minister, 1991."

Now furious, another student yells, "Oh yeah? Suck this!"

Little Johnny jumps out of his chair waving his hand and shouts to the teacher, "Bill Clinton to Monica Lewinsky, 1997!"

Now with almost mob hysteria someone said, "You little shit. If you say anything else, I'll kill you."

Little Johnny frantically yells at the top of his voice, "Michael Jackson to the child witnesses testifying against him, 2004."

The teacher fainted.

And as the class gathered around the teacher on the floor, someone said, "Oh shit, we're screwed!"

Little Johnny said quietly, "The American people, November 4, 2008"

Any questions?

This is my laundry.

This is my laundry after twelve hours of soaking overnight rain.

Any questions?

Love the rain!

I was away from home yesterday afternoon, dropping Younger Daughter off with friends for a week, when the rain that had been threatening finally hit. Older Daughter was trying to talk to me in the car and nearly had to shout to be heard over the torrential rain. I almost pulled off the highway until it passed, it was so heavy.

Too late to rescue the laundry off the line, of course. It's soaked.

Then the sun broke briefly and we were treated to the sight of a double rainbow. Ah, lovely.

Signs of the times

Our day trip to the city last week resulted in an unexpected and sobering experience. Driving along a busy stretch between a main artery and the highway, I started noticing "For Lease" signs for commercial buildings.

Normally, of course, you see "For Lease" signs all the time and hardly pay attention to them. What caught my eye was the sheer quantity. Sign after sign after sign. More and more. There must have been fifty "For Lease" signs along this single one-mile stretch of road. Multiply this by all the roads in Spokane, and how many "For Lease" signs would there be?

It was unbelievable. No, it was staggering. All those signs represented a business, gone. Employment, gone. A tax base, gone. They also represented desperate realtors as well as desperate commercial building owners who know darned good and well their chances of filling those buildings are practically nil.

There's no possible way all those commercial buildings could ever be filled because no one in their right mind is starting a new business now. The hopes and dreams of entrepreneurs and small business owners everywhere - shattered.

My God, what's going to happen to this country?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I always knew I was different....

So I'm driving into the city with my girls last week. It's haying season all over this area, and everywhere we went we saw tidy swathes of hay in broad fields, waiting to be baled.

I noticed a small tractor sitting alone in a pasture, much different than the massive tractors used by commercial farmers. In fact, it was similar to our own beloved 1949 Ford 8N tractor. But what caught my eye was the pretty little 8N-sized baler with a PTO attachment behind it.

"Look at that baler!" I exclaimed. "That's what we need!"

There was a brief but pointed silence from my 13-year-old daughter. "Mom," she said at least, "do you realize most women would be admiring a pretty dress or necklace, not a baler?"

Okay....she's right.

But it really was a sweet little baler. Just what we need.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Space cadets

These are the latest Parisian runway fashions. See what I'm missing by living in some obscure burg in north Idaho? Today, the runway... tomorrow, Sears!

Personally I think this would look absolutely spiffy on our farm, n'est-ce pas?

(poke) Ouch!

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

Does anyone ever wear this stuff outside of a Halloween costume?


Madonna wanna-be

Space cadette office wear

Mangled reading - give it a try!

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the first and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

Cute pics

Here's some cute pics of Older Daughter snuggling with Gypsy.

Tarping the hay

We bought a new 15x55 foot tarp to add on to last winter's old tarp, to cover the hay. The idea is to keep rain or snow off the top of the stacked hay, while leaving air able to circulate on the sides and between bales to prevent rot and mold.

First we unfolded the new tarp upside down and tied twine to all the grommets along both edges.

Then Don got on top the bales and stated pulling the tarp across the top. Last year's tarp is already in place across the leeward side of the bales. We'll tie most of the twine to the bottom bales.

The old tires along the bottom of the hay are perfect for anchoring the tarp. When a high wind starts whipping the tarp, the tires will "bounce" in the air just a bit to relieve the stress, but are heavy enough to not be completely lifted up over the bales. This means the tarp won't rip (as much) along the grommet points.

He paused to take some photos. Sometimes we forget what a beautiful spot we live in, and need a new perspective (such as twelve feet up) to remember.

(That's our house in the distance.)

Here's the hay viewed from our front porch, neatly tarped against all weather conditions for our area. We'll move about half this hay into our barn before winter, but for now - let it rain!

Sick kid

Younger daughter was awake yesterday morning when I came in from milking the cow. She was bent nearly double from a temporal headache that kept "cramping," as she put it, to the front of her forehead and then to the sides again. Shortly thereafter she started to vomit. Thinking she might be having a migraine - something none of us get and something she's never had before - I made an appointment with our doctor. He confirmed it wasn't (thank God) meningitis, but nor was it migraines. He prescribed anti-nausea medicine and warned it would make her sleepy. Sure enough it did.

She woke up briefly this morning when I closed her bedroom door and said she felt fine.

Oh look, another gray hair.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Canning apples

Skip this post if the domestic arts bore you, 'cuz it's all about canning apples.

Someone gave us a box of apples. I could either make pie filling or applesauce. I went for pie filling.

It was a hideously hot day for canning, but (ahem) federal regulations require that the ambient temperature be at least ninety degrees before you're allowed to can, in order to maximize the discomfort in the kitchen.

I started by washing some quart jars. Wasn't sure how many I'd need so I washed a dozen. And yes, you can use old mayonnaise jars (second from right, front row).

Out came the handy-dandy apple peeler. This baby will peel and core an apple in about twenty seconds. That includes the time it takes me to retrieve an apple out of the box at the beginning, and removing the core from the peeler's prongs at the end (I looked at the clock).

The result are "apple slinkies," as my kids call them.

Next, blanche the apples (dip them in boiling water for a minute or so), then drop them in to a pot of cold water with a little lemon juice added to keep them from browning.

Cores and peels. Wish we had pigs, as they'd love this stuff. The chickens are still too young to handle it. As it is, it all went into the compost pile.

Next, the "sauce" part of the pie filling, made with sugar, Clear-Gel, apple juice, and spices. Cook until it thickens.

Drain the apples and pour the sauce over them, then fill the jars with a wide-mouth funnel.

I used up about half the box of apples and got eight quarts of pie filling. For apples, I can use a boiling-bath canner.

Frustratingly, my biggest pot only held seven jars, so I split the eight jars between my two smaller pots.

Oh yeah, don't forget to do the dishes while the pie filling is processing.

To make a pie, roll out a crust, pop open a jar of pie filling, pour it into the pie crust, and bake. Voila. Wonderful on a cold winter's day.

I'll finish processing the rest of the apples later.

Ding dong, the hay is stacked!

Our string of miracles continues!

We were wondering how to get our hay stacked between rainstorms. The one neighbor who has a tractor big enough to lift thousand-pound bales was working twelve-hour days, seven days a week in a town an hour south of us (meaning, he was putting in fourteen-plus-hour days). Ironically, he had been hired to...put up hay on a huge ranch.

In came the rain, which interrupted the haying, which gave our neighbor an unexpected two days off, which meant he had time to stack our hay today! Hooray!

We got 24 tons, about a ton per acre, which is a really lousy output for a fertilized field. Hay production is down all over the Inland Empire (as they call this section of the northwest). But it will keep our livestock comfortably over the winter, with a little to spare for friends who do us our neighbor. He got two tons in thanks for stacking our hay.

Last winter's tarp can pull duty for another winter, but it's not nearly long enough to tarp the entire line. We have rain coming in on Wednesday, so tomorrow I'll get another tarp to finish covering the hay. Later in the summer our neighbor will move half this hay - twelve tons - into our barn. But neither he nor we have time to do that right now, between rain and work.

For now, we're giving thanks for the string of minor miracles (neighbors and friends with BIG equipment) that gave us hay for the winter.

An old farmer's advice

• Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
• Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
• Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
• A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
• Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.
• Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.
• Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
• Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
• It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
• You cannot unsay a cruel word.
• Every path has a few puddles.
• When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
• The best sermons are lived, not preached.
• Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.
• Don't judge folks by their relatives.
• Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
• Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
• Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.
• Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain dance.
• If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
• Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
• The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'.
• Always drink upstream from the herd.
• Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
• Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.
• If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
• Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.
• Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

The eagle has landed

Here in north Idaho, near the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene, the American Bald Eagle is a common sight. Though we see them frequently, they still send a thrill through my heart. We once saw seven birds in one tree. Magnificent.

Here's a video clip of an eagle named "Challenger" who is a human-imprinted eagle and thus cannot be released to the wild. He was blown from his nest in a storm in Louisiana in the late 1980's and raised by well-meaning people. Later turned over to the American Eagle Foundation, he is used for public education to raise awareness about bald eagles.

Challenger is trained to do free-flying during the American anthem in sports stadiums, arenas, even ballrooms.

Many years ago I volunteered at a raptor rehabilitation facility and got to handle birds of prey ranging in size from saw-whet owls (the only bird for which I didn't need a leather glove) to (oof) golden eagles. The most common bird I handled were great-horned owls. But a bald eagle? No. What a thrill that would have been.

Then again, maybe not. The only raptors at the center were injured birds rescued from the wild. I wouldn't wish that on any raptor.