Merry Christmas

This has always been my favorite time of day. The stillness of the morning just before the sun breaks the winter horizon. Bare limbs of winter try to hold back the light but it passes like water over my hands. There is a strong smell of hickory and the sweetness of fresh baked breads still holding the air. No stirring of child, wife or critter, for now the moment is mine.
Christmas morning evolves over time. The changes offer a reflection on memories, some of those who are no longer with us. Some of the fondness of the childhood excitement offered by predawn raids to the tree and stocking. Memories of our family crowded together with aunts serving as wardens of the room to restrain our early scouting. Grandparents sleeping on the bottom bunks with flashlight in hand. Another treacherous tripwire in our childhood efforts to find what Santa had left for us.
Our lives do change and our loves do grow. Some of the greatest gifts were always with us. Enjoy your gifts. Hold them close to your heart. Let them grow into the life that that they will lead.
Merry Christmas from my gifts to you and yours.

It’s Official

I’m ready for fall!


The air is thick this morning.  Dew drapes and the sun is having a hard time melting a hole on the eastern horizon.  We’ve been blessed with a steady diet of rain the last week.  Sometimes coming in bucket loads and others in a fine soak.  This morning it appears that the air is taking some of that moisture back.

Out early pulling all the weeds from our strawberry patch.  My first of many coffee/water breaks I’ll take throughout the day.  Sit, drink and rethink the next move.  On occasion I will find myself in the frustrating act of making “to do” lists.  I’m not real sure if my satisfaction and motivation is the marking off of the list or the remaking of the secondary list of things not marked off the first list that I have lost or used as a coffee coaster.

July ’16

The lightening brightened the room and thunder shook me out of the bed this morning.  We’ve been in a repeating line of thunderstorms that have supplied much needed rains the last week.  There isn’t a deficit in our summer rainfall totals now but that could change in a heartbeat.

I pulled all my garlic and dug a couple of rows of potatoes last week.  They cure in the barn awaiting a sorting and a move to the root cellar.  The garlic didn’t set any records for quality and the potatoes were few but were nearly perfect in that they lacked any insect damage.  Out tomatoes are starting to trickle in.  We had our first vine rip before the first of the month.  With the hot and wet weather they have exploded in their weed like way.

My bee hives are a buzzing.  I pulled a few frames during my last inspection.  The frames I pulled were a messy lot.  Burr comb and some comb that was doubled up on the outside of the hive box.  I ended up with a little over a gallon and a half of some very buttery sweet honey.

I’m fairly pleased with my bee education.  I’ve learned some painful lessons.  It looks like I may have five healthy hives going into this fall.  I know I had one hive that swarmed this spring but what remained has rebounded and may very well be my healthiest.

The county fair is coming up next week.  This will be my daughters last for showing hogs.  She has decided that she’s too busy with school, work, boyfriend, ect. to continue showing;  Bittersweet for me.  I enjoy watching the kids with their critters.  We’ve been involved with 4H and FFA for ten years or so.  I won’t miss being tied to the fairgrounds for a week every summer though.  It will be nice to be able to go out for the evening and visit at the fair instead of having to be there.




First Day of Spring

Seems I get more excited about spring rolling around than I did awaiting Christmas as a kid.  A white vernal equinox just doesn’t elicit the same joy as a white Christmas.  The cold weather and fluffy stuff was short lived.  We’re cleaning up our fall messes and repotting starts.  Potatoes are in and some cabbage and candy onions have been planted.

Yesterday was a wonderfully warm and sunny day.  We spent almost all of daylight cleaning up flowerbeds, spreading mulch, moving some plantings, fixing fences and cleaning out spent blackberry canes.  The forecast is calling for some patchy frost for post Easter.  I’m hoping that will be the last of the frosts for the spring.


We are very happy that one of our sows had a litter 0f 13.  Unfortunately we lost four but all the remaining are healthy and getting to know their surroundings.   Katy has a pair of show pigs mixed in with our mess.  They’re the good looking little muscled up hamps.

Hootenanny 2015

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Another wonderful weekend  of music, food and friends has passed.  Can’t wait till next year!

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Close To Home

The last few days my wife and two grandsons spent a mini vacation at a friends cabin on the river.  Not quite a mile from our house, we enjoyed getting to see our neighborhood from a new angle.  It’s tough to do much fishing on the river with a six and ten year old.  The attention span just doesn’t reach from shore to shore.  I did manage to hook a nice smallmouth on my ultralight rod.  They do present an awesome fight!


The sunrise on the porch with my coffee was my only quiet time.  A six year old has so many questions and so much energy that it can drain the life right out of my brain.


The boys found many treasures.  Rocks that look like rocks, cars, rockets, cats, fish, bowls and a triangle.




Yesterday was a very warm and muggy morning.  I woke up at my normal time of around 4 a.m. Not that I have to, but I am very much a creature of habit.  Vacation time or not my clock doesn’t change much.  Coffee, check the weather on the puter, skim the news and look to see what y’all are doing on your blogs and bookface; generally that is the order of business.  Then out for a morning walk around the house, garden and barn with coffee in hand. Occasionally I’ll pack the camera for updates on garden progress and critter culture.

After church we hit a breakfast buffet to visit with some folk from our little congregation and catch up on what’s going on around their lives.  I love to be able to share a meal with my mom and these people.  They are a huge part of what makes our little corner of the world so special to us.

Having promised an older widower neighbor that I would cut a trio of dead oaks from her yard, I reluctantly grabbed my chainsaw and pulled the trailer down the hill.  It was already hot and getting hotter.  Not my idea of wood cutting weather.  I made as quick a work of it as I could dropping all three across each other so sizing up firewood lengths would be easier.  Dropping them together is like having saw bucks.  Start at one side and work my way across the pile, tossing the logs onto the trailer as I go.

I finished up pretty quick and cleaned up the yard so she doesn’t mess up her shiny John Deere mower.  She turns into a Nascar driver when she gets on that ride.

Hauled the load up to my wood pile and thanked God and my friend for use of his dump trailer.  I was wore slick!  Came in the house to cool off and rehydrate.  I swear I left twenty pounds of sweat in my socks, jeans and shirt. I was just about ready to hit the couch and watch me a baseball game when my lovely reminded me we still had 70 bales of hay left to pick up and put up in the barn.  Damn it!  Rain was in the forecast for early evening, so off we ran.

The two of us made short work of loading the trailer, but putting it up in the loft is my least favorite.  I just can’t swing a bale like I did in my teens and twenties.  I haven’t had too in a very long time.  After I tossed what I could we switched stations and I dropped a rope with a length of short chain and a carabiner in the center with a pair of S hooks on each end of the chain.  The rope ran through the carabiner with an overhand knot on the end to keep it all together.  Theresa hooked the baling twine with the S hooks and up the bales went.  We were both dripping with humidity and sweat. The last bale went in and ten minutes and a glass of ice water later the rains came.  And I mean they came!

We both stripped down to our drawers…hers can’t really be described as drawers; and showered right off the front porch.  Hell!  I hadn’t stood out in my skivvies in a rain storm since I was five.  It felt so good to let the raindrops peel the dust off of me and cool me down.

I love moments like these.


I’ve been on vacation from railroading for the last two weeks.  My July sabbatical; I have always tried to take off as much of July as my seniority would allow.  The first week has been dedicated to our county fair, where my daughter has shown market hogs, turkey and chickens through 4H.  This year was a tad different since she moved on to FFA.  With her move came a bit of relief for me.  I had volunteered as the swine leadership for her 4H club in the last five years.  I took it pretty serious in the sense that I was to be available to help the kids and their parents with dang near every aspect of raising up their pigs for show.  We had many new people come and go through the hog barn.  Some got into it and really helped their kids enjoy a great learning experience,  others not so much.  With my daughters move to FFA I was relieved of the title of swine czar and relegated to normal fair going peasant.  Lucky me!  I actually enjoyed much of the fair I had missed before.  I did get to have several of the kids from her club come find me and escort me hand in hand to view their entries.  Very satisfying!

My daughter took charge of her entries fully this year.  She did a pretty damn good job considering she did not realize how much we had done to help her out in the past few years.  Stepping back and letting your kids make decisions on their own can be tough sometimes.  I still offered suggestions when asked, about her course of action.  I feel fortunate that she did not always follow my advice, even though it was frustrating at the time.  It’s all about teaching them to think and seek out new ideas and learning to learn.  I love watching her think.

She spent much of her time working with her favorite gilt Hampshire.  Not so much with a blue butt barrow that ended up placing second in the class he landed in.  Her hamp didn’t make weight.  She was extremely disappointed, but didn’t show her displeasure publicly.  With the blue butt placing high in a class that moved her way up in the sale order at the auction.  That’s always a good thing when folks are bidding and there are 86 entries to sell.  She has been very good at marketing her projects for the sale with hand written letters to potential buyers and making appointments to deliver her letters,  greeting the bidders and telling them a little about her project and the work she puts into it.  That aspect of the project paid off with a $4.25 selling price on a 242 pound pig. We have excellent community support for our youth in agriculture.

She also competed in a business pitch competition.  She partnered with another FFA member and presented a farm to table livestock business with an aspect of agri-tourism and education involved.  They did a dandy job with the presentation and won!  There was a cash startup prize awarded but I’m not sure what the amount ended up being yet.  There were eight proposals presented and the judges split the cash awards by placement.  Apparently she will be building some of her own fence shortly.

With the fair week behind I moved on to resurrection of our weed garden.  The almost constant rain;  28 of 33 days in one stretch, had left our patch a mucky muddy puddle of gelatinous goo.  Too wet to walk even on the tractor paths.  As the week marched on the rainy pattern took a rest and the brush cutting commenced.

A terrible start for our tomatoes and peppers, but I’m sure they will start to catch up and give us enough of what we crave.

I like to jump around from job to job with my full menu of projects I have going.  I’m trying to get our house painted.  A warranty claim with James Hardy siding has delayed a steady progression on painting until resolved.  So I get done what I can and make progress on the long list, some to completion, some closer.

Wrapping cedar trim around all our windows


Finishing interior window trim and baseboards from the floor replacement in bedroom/bath/closet and washroom

Framing a wall for new plumbing install in the basement


New hydrant in the barn

Finish hanging windows in the barn and putting hardware cloth screens in openings


Building new hay feeder in the barn for the goats

Hauling hay

Hauling manure for the compost pile


Cutting wood

Hopefully this coming week will be a bit slower since my grandsons will be out for a visit. We plan on spending a couple of days at a friends cabin on the river.  Fishing will be on the top of next weeks menu.

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