Monday, December 27, 2004

The Big Fall

Back in the spring of about, I think 1966, we were feeding cattle. By we, I mean my Dad was feeding cattle and I was helping when I could. It was a wet spring. Very wet. The snow had melted, the frost went out, and the cattle were up to their bellies in mud. The mud was even deep outside of the feedlot. We always piled a long line of small square bales along the North fenceline. We piled it there in the fall and would use that hay for a wind break, in the winter, and of course we would throw hay to cattle from that pile all winter. By spring of that year the hay was gone, and we had to pull a hayrack full of bales, to deliver hay to the cattle. We would do this every few days until it got too muddy, even on the outside of the pen, away from the cattle.
The mud on the cattle side of the fence was much deeper but it had the consistency of watery oatmeal. The problem on the outside was that the mud was trying to dry up and thus it became like thick peanut butter and the tractors couldn't handle that.
To get hay to the cattle we came up with the idea of loading a Johnson wagon (our name for the rectangular, square sided wagon that bore the name of the Johnson Company on the side) full of hay, and to pull it with the biggest tractor we had at that time, the John Deere 4020. We would drive thru the mud on the inside of the pen, and throw the hay over the fence to the outside, where the cattle could reach it, thru the wooden fence disigned for that purpose.
My Dad drove the tractor in the pen although the mud was over the top of the front tires of the tractor. The rear end of the tractor plus the wagon tongue were both under the mud.
I call this mud but the truth is it was a mixture of hay, mud, hay that had already been run thru the steers, and water. It was kind of, well, alive. It bubbled. On it's own.
As Dad drove along, I threw the top bales off of the wagon and then got to the ones that were crammed down in the box. I had a bale hook and began trying to pull a bale out of the middle. Kind of like taking a brownie out of the middle of the pan first. I knew that if I could possibly get one of the bales to budge, the rest would come out easily. On my fifth attempt at pulling on the bale, it broke free, almost like it was pushed up by someone underneath. I had the hook caught in the bale in my right hand, my left hand was holding the twine, and the bale hit me in the chest and over the side of the wagon I went. The bale held tightly to my chest. I expected to have the ground rise up and pound my back, like a good pulling guard would in a football game. I remember this event almost like it was in slow motion. I was prepared to have the wind knocked out of me. But I did not feel the landing. It was even softer landing than in water.
I lay in the mud, only my toes, and my face were above, well,...manure. I had a bale on top of me and a circle of about 8 curious, hereford cross steers, reaching with their tongues, to get taste of the bale without coming in contact with whatever that was underneath it.
I had survived the fall and then thought, somehow I need to let my Dad know that I'm alright. I knew that having a Son fall from eight feet up, and then land, on his back, in a mixture that was deep enough to drown him, would have him worried sick.
I pushed the bale off of me, waved the cattle away, and could finally see my Dad. Not his face. I could only see his body. It was shaking violently. I thought the excitement was too much for the old guy. He had his head buried in his left arm, which was resting on the fender. He raised his head to look down at me. Well to look down at my face, everything else was still submerged, and then I could see that he had become quite emotional over this accident. He was laughing. Not politely trying to conceal it. This was the kind of laugh that comes out of you that can't be controlled or stopped. I struggled to my feet, thanked him for his concern. And headed to the house. He said wait a minute. I hesitated and waited for the apology. He said, "well you might as well finish, you're probably not going to get any muddier".
In the years between then and when Dad passed away, he never could get that story out. He would look at me, say "you tell it", bury his head and start laughing.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas List

My nephew Marty says he needs a new tennis racquet for Christmas. Seems his backhand has slowed over the years.
My Christmas wish list would have to include the wish to become shorter. Most people quit growing when they reach 20 or so but I've gotten taller recently. At age 54. My first indication was that when I stoop to grab a magazine or newspaper from the floor, it's a lot further down there, than it was, say even 5 years ago.
And one more thing. Why have these magazines and newspapers, that I'm trying to clear from the floor, all gone to smaller type. It's aggravating.
Okay, that's it. Shorter legs, go back to the larger type.
Wait, one more thing. Why the deeper cups on golf greens. I have never had a ball bounce back up out of the hole, yet they've made the holes deeper and harder to reach your ball at the bottom. If you think old men are happy when you say "that's good, pick it up", they are. The ball is easier to reach. Or you can be a really nice guy and pick it up and toss it to them.Merry Christmas.
What's on your list??

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Three Dog Night

We have a 'Three Dog Night' here on the Misouri river bottm. The supposed origin of "three dog night" was that the eskimos, when it became bitterly cold, would have to curl up with three of their sled dogs to keep warm. This instead of the normal one or two.
We only have two dogs here on the farm.
I've just sent Marilyn up to the kennel to get one more. I'm hoping it's not a pit-bull.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Raising the Bar

While at Church Sunday, I was watching the Kids Program on one of those rare Sundays when I had nothing to do but run a camera, and then only if a good shot presented itself. I had the opportunity to sit behind the accompanist for the program. My daughter Juli. Now, she has been playing for the choir I direct for a long time now and also for the church as the organist, and it never ceases to amaze me how someone can look at a brand new piece of difficult music and simply tranfer what they see into the proper finger movements. And thus this 'new' music, to the pianist, sounds as the person who wrote it intended it to sound. But more than being a good music 'leader' when playing hymns for a chuch congregation she has a much greater talent. She stays with whom ever is singing, no matter the mistakes they make. Sunday, the first soloist was incredibly soft, a little girl, and I had no idea that the piano could be played that softly.
Juli plays the piano as though she isn't the show. She knows her place when she accompany's a singer and yet she is very capable of becoming the show if asked to do so.
I've heard countless timing errors made by soloists, or mistakes, that only a few in the audience could have noticed. The recovery by the piano was instant.
I remember telling Juli, when she was young, that she should try to learn to do something, anything, better than almost anyone else can do it. She has. I've been told over and over again by soloists, "man did your daughter ever save me on that solo".
I am sure there are better piano players out there, but if you're in need of accompaniment, Juli's as good as the best. She has raised the bar.

Our Little Angel

Christmas is so very special. Especially in small communities and close families. The Celebrations in our Churches are filled with contata's, Christmas carols, choirs, and the pagentry that only small children can carry out.
Sunday, in our little Church, the childrens choir marched in, followed by the little narrators, Mary and Joseph, (both about 2 and half foot tall), and the angels. Three of them. White robes with gold, rope tinsel trim, and wings with gold tinsel trim. The last little angel was our little angel. My three year old Granddaughter. She likes to play the shy type, which she isn't. She walked down the center aisle behind the first two angels until she saw Grandpa seated by the aisle. She detoured, stood in front of me, proudly pulled her outfit out at the armpits, and with gusto said, "See Grandpa". She then saw my son seated by me, who is from out of town, and Grandma, and Mom at the piano. We all got the big smile and "See". As the rest of the procession was lined up, in front, she slowly shuffled down the row, between pews. "See"!
Finally up front, while the wise men, and shepherds, and the other angels paid their respect to Baby Jesus, our little angel, went over to show her outfit to her 6 year old brother in the choir. She was finally corralled, and placed where little angels are supposed to be. In a row.
Looking straight ahead, and shifting her eyes right and left, she slowly went down to her hands and knees, and crawled around behind the barn, where the Christ Child lay. The problem is that her wings were about twelve inches wider than the hole she went through. Everyone finally left the stage, and about 2 minutes later a teacher returned and went around behind the barn and retrieved our little angel. Wings hanging from one side.
The peculiar thing is that our family, and those who know this little Miss Independent, are probably the only ones who noticed what was going on. But it was all consuming to us. I don't know how the choir sounded, I was too busy thinking, "I know that little girl, this isn't 'type casting.'

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Bill O'Rielly Computer

After receiving the message PRIMARY HARD DRIVE FAILURE! , I was told that if it would still spin, they could retreive most of the data. It wouldn't. They didn't. My computer entered the 'no spin zone'. I lost everything except for my biggest file. Morrow Kennels had been backed up. 12-12-04. The new computer said there was nothing on the CD's. After a trip up here from Blair, and about 20 minutes of work, the tech. restored the one file. I must have had a big smile. He glance over at me and asked, "You're not going to kiss me are you?"
May I suggest, that you don't really need to back up any files, except for the ones you would like to keep.
If someone will send me an email, even a blank one, I would put them in the address book. I have an empty computer that I need to start filling up.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Too Much Sleep

I've always thought there was such a thing as too much sleep. I know the experts say you should sleep till you wake. But I've proven the opposite to be true. I have been using a C-pap machine (for sleep apnea). You use this every night when traveling as I did this week, to the state convention of County Officials, I took it with me. As I lay down on my bed in the Holiday Inn I thought that this is really uncomfortable. No 'sleep' numbers and to add insult, the mattress felt like it had been constructed with a piece of 3/8 composition board, buried about 2 inches below the surface. I thought, this will be a long night. I slept 8 hours straight thru.
Now wide awake I attended the conference that always has some highlights and more than it's share of really dull, pathetic speakers. They always seem to know their stuff, but could take public speaking tips from Ray Ramano.
My point is this. I have, up till now, been able to sleep thru these parts. Not now, not one nod. Eyes open. Listening. Anyone care to hear the 27 new acronyms the government has for the homeland security act. Don't let the bed bugs bite.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A Christmas Tradition Begins

When I think about Christmas Traditions I don't think of the same things my kids think about. I think about what we did, waaaaay back when I was a kid. In a few days, when the current rash of meetings and parties are gone I'll blog about that. But the reason I bring it up is that today my 6 year old Grandson came down for lunch with his Grandma. When I asked "what do you want to eat?". He shrugged and said, "whadaya got Grandpa?" I said "How about pancakes?" With a big smile and half way cheering, he said "Yeah, it'll make it seem like Christmas, We always get up and look at our stockings on Christmas morning and then we have pancakes!" Now if you figure that he probably doesn't remember his first 3 or 4 Christmas's, I guess it tells us to be careful with these young minds. They hold big memories. He has already started a tradition in his mind. Memories to look back on. I'm going to do my part to make sure they are worth remembering.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Target Stores

The target stores have told the Salvation Army that they can no longer raise money by placing bell ringers and red pots outside of the stores. I can understand that. My Mother didn't like the bell ringers either. I would ask Her if We should put money in the pot and she would always answer that the Salvation Army is a Church that does good things with their money, but we already belong to the Baptist Church and if we can give extra, we should do it there. They also do good with the money.
When Target said they would stop the bell ringers, I could understand them because they could get hit up by every church in the country. They could have so many people trying to raise money that I wouldn't want to shop there anymore.
I was sympathetic, until I heard that they have removed all references to 'Christmas' in the store and replace them with 'Happy Winter Solstice'.
Lets see here. They want to sell me Christmas presents, but they are ashamed to use the word 'Christ' in their wording. I can understand. It may offend the one Muslim they get in store this week, and a Federal Judge would give him the store.
I think that religious sensitivity is good. I believe that when they threaten to kill we infidels, that we should wait until after Ramadan to start the bombing.
Merry Christmas Target. I'll shop there again as soon as Sams Club get done moving in.