Thursday, December 23, 2010


The word "contrast" is defined as "the degree to which light and dark areas of an image differ in brightness." It can also be explained as "to set in opposition in order to show or emphasize differences."
Contrast is why some of us farm and enjoy rural America so very much. We indeed have mundane jobs at times, even in farming. Just like a factory or desk job, running a tillage machine or a combine for the third week in a row begins to wear on the nerves.
But without a doubt, there is hope. We eventually finish what we've been doing and go on to the next job. Book work leads to taxes which lead to the planting season, certainly a nice contrast which leads to tending crops and on and on. It is the contrast that makes it all worthwhile.
Maybe it's the "grass is always greener" aspect of human nature, but it always seems that what we're about to do is much more interesting than what we're doing right now. The weather is going to be better next season. We love spring but it leads to summer which makes us yearn for fall and then here we are on the edge of winter and we've already begun to dream of getting the planter out of the shed.
It's all of this anticipation that makes life exciting but it can also ruin your very existence. We get so tied up with looking ahead that we fail to see the blessings we should be thankful for every day. We plan to get involved in Christmas programs, parties, shopping and when the time comes we say "Okay, we sing at 10 a.m., but we can't hang around after the program because we have to load up and get over to Sarah's for dinner "but Dear, you'll need to leave Sarah's early to drive little Bobbie over to the neighbors." … and so it goes.
I read this week that we need to be careful of everyone's feelings because each of us is carrying an unseen burden. The part about all of us having burdens is for sure true and with that in mind I decided to try an experiment a few days ago. I was walking through a crowded store in a neighboring town and being in a holiday mood I decided to watch folks carefully and see if I could get a smile out of them.
With the exception of one woman with three young children in tow, no one looked at me. She smiled but almost everyone I looked at just stared at the aisle ahead of them, or the floor or for the most part their husband or wife who were walking along side. They almost all had a look of disdain on their face. I didn't find many happy people except for the workers in the store who were being paid to smile. It was part of their job.
What have we come to? These folks need some contrast in their lives.
I think it's a benefit of age that we eventually figure out that money or what we have has nothing at all to do with being happy. We get around finally to learning how to be happy with what we have and who we are and what we can help others become.
For your contrast this season try taking a deep breath, think of your family and friends and think of them as the gifts to you that they are. Handle all with love. Keep your finances and emotions in check, slow the pace down and decide to be happy.
Getting back to that store. They were decorated all the way to the ceiling fans in red and green and trees and toys but yet the word Christmas was missing. Not to be found anywhere. How is it you can try to make a significant portion of your yearly income by selling Christmas presents, yet you're afraid to use the word Christmas. I think they're afraid of the contrast. That being the dark world lit up so brightly by a star over a small city a couple of thousand years ago.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2 7 3 - J 1 2

That was our phone number when I was a kid here on the farm. The phone at that time was a black wall mount with a receiver and a button on the side and nothing else. The last of the hand crank phones were being phased out of service on the farms and the new technology was upon us.
The button on our phone was so you could pick up the receiver and listen to see if anyone else was using the phone. It was a party line so if the line wasn’t busy, you could simply push the button and you’d get a lady who sounded as if she had a clothespin on her nose saying “Operator” and then you’d simply say the number you wanted. “273-J12 please.” The neighbors couldn’t hear you ‘pick up’ so you didn’t disturb them if you listened for a moment and then hung up and waited for a while. No one I ever talked to had ever listened in on the neighbors phone calls, that was a no-no in those days, but on the other hand everyone was also convinced that the neighbors were involved in some kind of covert action and listening to every word.
We couldn’t use the phone on Monday mornings. That was when the neighbor lady called everyone in the township for news for the newspaper. She was paid by the word so we had some trouble getting the line. When she called here, Mom had news for her. Dad never, ever, had any news for her. He didn’t like seeing his name in the paper. “Nope, we haven’t had any company, bye,” and click the conversation was over. When Mom had to be gone on news day, she would return and immediately ask if we had talked to anyone on the phone. She was fearful that we might have spilled the beans about someone coming to visit as a ‘Saturday evening dinner guest’ when it was not their turn to be here. She didn’t want to offend any of her friends. She would say “Oh no, you didn’t tell her that did you?” to which we replied, “Mom, I told her we didn’t have any news but she asked about last Saturday night, she said she had seen Blanche and Harold’s car go right by her house on the way down to ours.”
The J 1 2 on the end of our number, was meant to inform the operator that it was the J side of the line and she should ring us by one long and two shorts or RING-ding-ding. One neighbor was J 1 which was one ring and the other neighbors were J 2, or two quick dings. There was an R side to the line but we didn’t hear them ring. But we were all trying to use just the one line.
My sister was an operator and so we didn’t get by with many shenanigans. If we called too late in the evening to give her a number, she would ask “Are Mom and Dad gone?” and then she’d say “you should be in bed.”
The operator was the original 911 call center in our town. We had a flashing red light mounted on the lumber yard on the east side of main street in the middle of town where a bank is now located, and if someone needed the police the telephone operator would turn the light on and when the constable finally saw the light he would drive to the pay phone by the Octagon Restaurant and use the town’s only pay phone to call the operator to find out where the emergency was.
I remember another time when a severe thunderstorm marched through town on the evening of the 4th of July and everyone called the operator to see if the fireworks had been rained out.
They had been.
Long distant call start and stop times were written down by the operator. Believe it or not, we would call ‘person to person’ meaning if the party you wanted to talk to wasn’t at the location you were calling; then you didn’t have to pay for the call. Those calls however, if connected, were charged at a higher rate than station to station.
As circuitry capabilities advanced, they eventually ruined all of the communication technology by going with some new fangled rotary dial phones that effectively put the operators out of business. It was pretty neat stuff though, once we got used to it, no more operators telling us when it was time to go to bed or that we might get in trouble if we called her that late again.
To top it all off, along with the new phones, the phone companies had the nerve to require all of us to get a new phone number with, (wait for it) another number added. That meant everyone now had to learn a 7 digit phone number. Then of concern was how big the phone books might get with all of these new numbers, after all, ours was already as big as a church bulletin with 20 pages. These were all big changes but we were assured that the new number, even though incredibly long, would probably be the last number we would ever need to learn.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

What If?

A few Sundays ago we were in Church.  We, meaning Marilyn and I and our daughter Juli and her two kids were there too. Juli plays the piano and organ for our church and did, that day.  After services we planned to go home, eat lunch and travel to Blair to watch Colton play the first of a few of the play off games his team participated in.
We had been in the house a few minutes and a neighbor called to say Juli had rolled her pickup and had been thrown out as it rolled over.  We don't really know how many times it rolled but think it was two complete rolls. It landed on it's wheels and she was found walking in a daze in the cornfield by her truck.  It was a Ford F-250, the doors still shut and top crushed down to the top of the seats. She was walking around the corn field looking for her kids but she didn't realize one was at the farm where we were and she had just dropped Colton off at the neighbors house so he could get to the game early for warm ups.
We got there as fast as we could and the EMT's and the squad arrived shortly after we did. They transported her and she was eventually released after a  c t scan.  A concussion was the result and some pretty sore core muscles. She still has a hand that bothers her when she plays the piano for the school system but she thinks time might eventually cure that. (soft tissue and tendon tear)
The culprit in the accident was the left rear wheel. It came off while she was still on the gravel road and it pulled her into the ditch. I guess the What If factor is what has gotten to us. What if she hadn't survived...which looking closely at the truck, it's easy to say she shouldn't have. What if she had been belted in? In that case she certainly wouldn't have survived. Also, how did she get out?
It would have ended life as we know it and that's for certain. I don't know how we could have carried on... or even why.
But the good news is that we don't believe in luck.  She's with us still, obviously for a purpose. We had a good Thanksgiving and now you know why.
The truck was here on the farm for a while. People who saw it were stunned, very quiet, and then found Juli to give her a hug. But none of them have been as big as the hug  God gave her that day.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Long Does It Take You To Harvest?

That question pops up from time to time. Of course farmers wouldn't ask that. We know the question is akin to asking how much rain do you usually get or how big are the fish you catch. Harvest depends on stuff like weather and the amount of bushels you have to harvest.
Now, at the end of 2010, I have the answer.  We finished in record time on October 22. Exactly 3 weeks and 2 days after we started. We didn't have a day off because of the weather. That's a first at least on this farm as far as memory serves the harvest crew I work with. And my harvest crew consists of two brothers, Ed and Francis, who go back as far as the family has been on this farm (1948) and I go back to 1950, the year I was born. 
I've mentioned I use this blog sometimes for my own reference or diary if you will and so I wanted to remember a few things.
1. A wetter than normal planting season and we didn't get everything planted because of the Missouri River.
2. A REALLY wet summer that included 17 inches of rain in June, July, and August. It was the second year in a row that we never even started one of our 6 irrigation wells.
3. The fall weather was so great it was almost unbelievable. No rain, cool bright days, chilly nights, not much wind. Deep breaths of the morning air has been almost intoxicating to this farmer. I loved it.
4. The yields where there was a little altitude, were good but the low spots were zero. We had whole farm averages of corn go from 227/A on corn down to 33/A on another farm where the drainage was poor and down to zero where it never even got planted. (good thing too as it was still under River water at harvest time.
5. It's now November 16th, our field work is completely done and the equipment has been bathed and put away. I have mounted the snow blower on one of the tractors and now will begin work on certain pieces of equipment for next season. I'm waiting for bad weather but hoping we won't get snow this winter. Yeah, right.
For this farmer this year has been historic in many ways. Some cell phone pictures follow.
The biggest event of the year was the miraculous survival of our daughter during her pickup crash. I'll cover that on the next post.

Loading a bin, using our old truck for a gravity box.

Brother Fran bringing in a load of soybeans he got from the combine. This picture is squished up and I don't know why. 

I was loading a bin with the fan running on the bin. We got into a 'white cob' vairety and this was the resulting chaff blowing out of the bin. This usually happens but it's easier to see white.

I opened the combine door one afternoon while I was waiting for the grain cart to come back so as to enjoy the view, and that more of that great fall air.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Tuesday November 2nd

I predict this will be a GREAT day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cap Waving and Other Signals

"What happened to you?" I asked my brother, "You look like you've been Ultimate Fighting and took a kick to the side of the head." "It's quite a story," he replied, and so he began.
I've mentioned here that the Missouri River in these parts has been running bank full most of the summer. The brother in question lives on the banks of said river from the time his spray plane hits the air in the spring until he finishes running my combine in the fall, and then they high tail it for the Gulf Coast.
After heavy rains upstream, there will be assorted pieces of trees floating past their river cabin. A few weeks ago one such event washed a large cottonwood tree, top first, part way up his boat ramp. A gentle push from his little acreage tractor would be all that was needed to break the tree loose from its mooring.
Yes, his tractor is small, but it does have a loader, a rollover protection top and front wheel assist. Fearing nothing, he guided the tractor down the ramp to the point where he met the top of the tree and began to push. His front wheels came off the ground a bit but he didn't want to stop since the operation was working so well. As the tree set sail, his front wheels settled into what he thought would be about 2 inches of mud on the ramp.
The only problem was the shallow mud wasn't shallow. It came all the way up to the frame of the tractor. And there he sat, up to the motor in mud on the banks of the Muddy Mo. The mud was so deep that he couldn't even use the loader bucket to ratchet himself out.
Right here is the point when any farmer who has been paying attention will avoid going to the house to ask for help. Why, you ask? Because if you get another man to help you, he'll be willing to forget whatever stupid statement you might come up with while pulling the tractor out of the mud. Women on the other hand realize that there will be a "transfer of blame" just because they participated. It will become their fault that you got your tractor stuck. This makes it so the man must ask nicely when he's so mad at himself, he could chew nails.
"Honey, do you have a second to come help me? Please?"
Which in turn will bring a response which refers to the last time she helped pull you out of the mud some eight years ago and that sounds like this, "Is it something you think I can do right this time?"
And so it went. He got his nice 4-wheel-drive F-150 backed down the ramp, hooked a chain from drawbar to drawbar and then gave very explicit instructions. "Get in the truck, tighten the chain, and after I get on the tractor and am ready to go, I'll wave my cap and that will be your signal to go."
He again waded through the mud, started the motor, pushed the clutch in, found reverse and waved his cap with his right hand. It was right then that he noticed the approximately two dozen paper wasps that he had dislodged with his waving cap. They had a nest up under his sunshade. He now began waving his hat with a vengeance in an attempt to kill the wasps that had already landed a couple of punches (stings) to the side of his head.
Meanwhile in the truck, his better half has made the decision that crazy hat waving can only mean one thing: go faster. And so she did. The more he waved the hat in what she thought was his disgust with her slow pace, the faster she went. After the stings began, he quickly decided that his cap waving now needed to mean, STOP! I WANT TO GET OFF THIS TRACTOR!
He told me later that he thought about bailing off of the tractor, but he didn't think he could have survived it. He'd never gone that fast on a tractor before, especially in reverse.
Thinking back, he said, this was at least as exciting as the time the cam shaft broke on his spray plane and the propeller quit turning.
Doing some research I've found that paper wasps aren't considered "aggressive" unless you do something to aggravate them, like for instance waving your cap at them.
I guess in that respect, they're similar to women.

And The Best Actor Award Goes To:

the oppossum that's been laying in the road in front of our house for the past 3 days. Alright already, you look dead, now get up and leave.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Latest Article In The Midwest Producer (

Behind the door

If you're anything like me, you get a little giddy this time of year. Harvest is approaching and we must begin preparations for it. Almost each week of the year brings new duties to farmers and memories of that which happened on this date way back when. When September rolls around, the blackbirds begin their 'schooling up' for a flight to a better clime, the weather moderates and we get that first intoxicating breath of cool, dry, fall air.
My thoughts turn to farm town football this time of year. What a tradition to carry forward for our communities. All across the Midwest the locals have gathered to run and tackle, throw and sometimes 'throw up' during two-a-day practices.
My football career began when I was a freshman. I was a "country school" student through the first eight grades so I had virtually no knowledge of the game save what an older brother had taught me. That and I had learned through eight years of country school recesses that it was a great idea to get rid of the ball as soon as it came into your possession.
I began football as a freshman probably a little bigger than most freshmen, enough bigger that much was expected of me. It was apparent right away that our head coach had great hope for me. Vain hope on his part. Yes, I was big but … that was about it. Our freshman team practiced by ourselves a bit and with the varsity some. I learned to try to act tough like the seniors on the team and still stay as far away as I could from making one of them think I was some kind of threat.
I'll never forget our first game. I had a brand new helmet (special order ... fat head), what looked like a brand new uniform and nicely polished shoes. I had polished my shoes whilst I labored at polishing the shoes of five seniors. The coach always had freshmen shine the shoes of seniors. The seniors got to pick their "favorite" freshman. (Hmmm, five pair, I must have been a popular guy.)
We met at the field house at 6 p.m. We dressed as we had been taught and then assumed the attitude of a really tough guy, but not as tough as the senior boys or for that matter the juniors, but by golly almost as tough as the sophomores. I had an almost sick feeling as I began to get worked up about venturing out onto a field to hit someone who actually wanted to hit me back. I suppose I shouldn't have worried because the reality was I wouldn't be playing, so all I had to do was look the part.
I did what was expected of me. I was dressed about 30 minutes ahead of time and then did what any good freshman would do. I leaned against the wall by the door to wait for our team to run out onto the field and to try to scare the daylights out of anyone who would dare to be on the same field with us.
As the upperclassmen finished dressing, they came up to the front of the building where we were located and we moved down the wall. Since I was the first one dressed I was closest to door but hadn't planned on being first. Maybe second, but for crying out loud a senior should go first. I thought we were ready to go when the coach came out to the middle of the big group but then it got quiet. Very quiet. He began quietly to deliver what was probably a carefully choreographed speech complete with arm waving, foot stomping, fist and teeth clenching, and some swearing. Boy, we were going to have to keep that from our mothers.
What started out as a quiet dissertation on how much time we had spent together and that we had become family through the last three weeks and no one, absolutely no one, would get in our way, turned into a wild and dramatic ending. Nothing ever equaled the crescendo of that speech. He finished by screaming, "Now let's go get 'em." He pounded his fist on the overhead heater nearly knocking it off of the ceiling and the seniors all yelled like they were chasing hogs up a loading chute, then rushed to the door.
That's where I was standing. They shoved me to their left which was the corner behind the door, they slammed the back of it in my face and everyone ran out while I examined the doors backside. My plan to be one of the first ones out of the door turned into dead last. Even the 7th grade student managers beat me onto the field carrying their big bags of footballs and athletic tape.
In spite of trying to play high school football, I still love it. High school athletics is easily the best value for your entertainment dollar, AND you won't need to leave someone a tip.
This weekend, shut down the farm equipment and go watch your local team and cheer real loud, especially for the kid who trots onto the field last. He may have had some recent trouble.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Loveland Co.


We spent part of last week traveling to the Denver area. We stayed with Ralph and Char for a few nights. Marilyn was in preparation for her Dad's 90th Birthday party. These pics were taken on our way up to Loveland for the party on Suday last. It was mostly a grass fire and they seem to have it contained.
We made an overnight jaunt into the Palisade, Co area on Friday and Saturday with all 4 of us. I'll get to that and the party, next. The Campbells are always great hosts with a really nice home. I'm guessing they got up this morning to make sure we were still gone then gave a cheer.

Monday, August 30, 2010

"dad...DAD! You Can Run A Forklift?" "Dad I've Never Been Prouder of You.

The boys at the body shop have had to add more compressor power. They bought a new one and built a rack to  get the old and new compressors up off of the floor and the rack will also hold the shops air conditioner.
Here Hudson is watching Dad, (our son Tom) operate a forklift. This handsome little boy idolizes his Dad. This didn't hurt his image of Dad.
Now, you can add your own caption.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Old Joke

My brother who is a crop duster and who is sensitive to pilot jokes  about rough landings, reminded me of an old one last night.
A little old lady shuffled up the aisle of the plane on her way to get off.  She stopped by the pilot at the door, tapped him on the leg with her cane and said, "Sonny, are you the pilot?"  He replied politely and proudly that indeed he was.  She said, "Well then I have a question about our landing,  did you actually land the plane or were we shot down?"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Birthday Party!

I wrote Breathless, 6 years ago. It's a short post that explains the beginnings of the little girl front left in this photo. Her birthday was last month and we had a great time at their house in Lincoln, NE. (notice the good looks of the little girls in the photo. I think they kind of take after me.

Below is our son Dan's Indian Motorcycle that he restored. Here he had just received a trophy for his class in a big car and bike show in Fremont, NE. The birthday girl is clinging to Daddy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who's The Boss

For The Midwest Producer Magazine

The 800-pound gorilla in the room for those of us from the eastern parts of Kansas and Nebraska is the Missouri River. We've developed a love/hate relationship with the Ol' Muddy Mo. This year she's been running bank full almost all summer. That in itself is a major cause of problems for those who farm in any region drained by the big ditch. This year, the experts say the Sandhills of Nebraska are saturated and the soils there must release, as runoff, any excess rain they receive. And they, like us, have received a lot of it.
The basins that eventually drain to the Missouri are all, also, running bank full so it's a bottle neck that only time and a lack of rain is going to solve. The big river as I know her is like a spoiled rotten child. Say and do anything you want, but she'll stomp her feet and do as she pleases. There is no controlling her. But isn't that the case with all rivers no matter the size. They can seem so peaceful and sleepy and then in one dark and stormy night turn into an unrecognizable creature.
I suppose I'm a little more sensitive than some to the problems all of these large and small rivers can cause. As a county board member I witness it first hand here in our county, and I have spoken to many officials from across our state about the damage caused by rampaging water. The costs of trying to control water, or at least trying to keep it from bringing commerce to a halt, is overwhelming to most governmental bodies, even on a dry year.
Some of my first remembrances were of the rock trucks that were hauling rock to our portion of the Missouri River as part of the Pick-Sloan Flood Control Act of 1944. Part of that plan was to make the Missouri navigable from Sioux City, Iowa, south. They hauled limestone, truckload after truckload, day after day and month after month to teach the big river a lesson. As if to say these are now your boundaries, stay there. The meandering river eventually was turned into what some folks refer to as an oversized drainage ditch. The river water sped up and cut deeper as the Army Corp of Engineers carried out the plan. They've spent a lot of our tax money trying to mitigate the damage ever since. They continually try to lay claim to more and more property in an attempt to slow it back down and make fishing what it once was.
But the fact remains that years like these demonstrate to the Corp of Engineers and those of us farming along streams and rivers who really is in charge … and it's not us. The river has now reclaimed most of the land it lost back in the 1950s. At least it has for this growing season.
There's been a lot of water under the bridge since all 8 grades of the kids at District 19 were loaded in three cars and taken on a field trip down to the river to tour the big dredge christened the Meriwether Lewis. It was obviously named for the captain of the Corp of Discovery. It was an impressive display of power for all of us impressionable country school kids. But the most memorable fact for all of the little boys on the trip was the sex education thrown in by the captain. He had a picture of his girl friend taped to the back of the door of the bridge. I know he didn't think to take it down before all of us arrived and I'm just assuming it wasn't a picture of his mom.
I went down to the river tonight and sat in my pickup for a bit and watched as the river ran south with all of its incredible power. Nothing is going to stop it. Nothing will control it. But it runs silently like all of the memories it welled up. The water was right up to the road my truck was sitting on, reminding me of the time my dad had to move all of our possessions out of harms way back in 1952.
Having a big river for a neighbor is like having a really strong parent. No one asks, "Who's the boss around here?" We all know.
You can leave a comment here or go to the magazines website and leave it there . My boss needs all the clicks he can get.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Dog Days

People in these parts try to get their work done and money made so they can vacate the region in January and February. I think this might be misguided thinking. July and August might be better months to bail out. I know it would be some kind of trick for a farmer to be away from the farm this time of year but if possible, it would be a good idea. In my memory we’ve had a couple of ‘delightful’ summers. In those years, the temp only hit 90 degrees a couple of times and of course the corn crop suffered from too much rain and a lack of heating degree days. This year we’ve had too much rain at times but we’ve been into the mid 90’s several days and at the same time the humidity soared making it difficult to draw a breath. I fully expected to hear that someone actually drowned while mowing his lawn. These conditions make it hazardous to open your pickup window while driving because of the immediate fogging up of your glasses.
But there may be other drawbacks to Kansas and Nebraska in July and August. It’s vegetables and what to do with them. We plant tomatoes and cucumbers and just one zucchini plant. (We’ve all learned our lesson there, haven’t we?) Then we wait, and weed, and water and ask our friends if they might have a tomato we might have because ours aren’t ready yet. We operate under the theory that there are just a couple of folks in the county raising tomatoes and everyone else is waiting to hear the words, “Okay, they’re ready, come and get em!” It’s at that point when you realize that there are a lot of folks capable of raising tomatoes and they went ahead and did it. Now, just try putting a 5 gallon pail full of the red beauties in your car and giving them away. “Oh isn’t that nice of you, but Fred left a bushel of them in the back room.” Or they say, “No thanks Cliff, we just got done canning 20 quarts and we didn’t even need to raise any.”
Then there was the year early in our marriage when Marilyn wanted to raise Zucchini squash. I’d never heard of them. We bought a packet of seeds and it planted a row about half the length of a football field. They all came up and flourished. We had enough zucchini for the city of Tekamah. Two days later we had enough pounds of squash for the city of Omaha. I’m surprised that the government doesn’t require some kind of warning on the packets.
Warning: Planting more than two of these seeds may cost you all of your friends. The neighbors lights will suddenly go out when you enter their driveway and worst of all, everyone in town will begin to lock their car doors. And forget about feeding them to the hogs, they don’t like them either. Best if picked at about 8 inches in length and we mean 8 inches. The following day you will need a tractor and loader to harvest.
Our cucumbers are coveted here on our place but we have trouble raising them. The cucumber beetles or blight or bad luck always seem to kill ours just after we pick our first cuke. But not to worry. The same rules apply for cucumbers as they do for tomatoes and we just go get the bushel in some businesses back room in town. The one someone else raised and couldn’t get rid of.
August should be the month to go sit on the bank and see if you can trick a catfish into captivity but alas it’s been almost too hot and sticky for even that. Arizona has been on my mind a lot lately as the perfect vacation spot and maybe those who travel there have the right idea. It’s a dry heat this time of year and it’s a dry 60 degrees in January and February.
It’s okay to dream. Right?

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Sorry I haven't been keeping up in the blog world. It has been a very busy summer with oppressive heat and humidity as of late. I can smell mold in the air everytime I go ourside. It's been good for growing corn. Well the corn that didn't drown out.
THIS is my latest article (every two weeks) in the Midwest Producer.
The one about The Great Nebraska Tractor Ride that I attended is HERE.

Friday, June 25, 2010

How Much Rain Did You Get?

The biggest drawback to being a farmer is the constant worry about the weather, but on the other hand everything we might choose to do in life has worry associated with it. Worry is not something we can easily escape, nor should we try to do away with all of it because it does tend to keep us organized. Nothing matches the year to year and day to day concern of our moisture supply and the temperature as it relates to agriculture. “What if it doesn’t rain?” “Will we get an adequate stand of corn or beans or wheat?” “Okay it rained but now it’s too cold and the seed won’t germinate.” “If it doesn’t rain in the next week we’ll lose everything!” You’ve heard them all haven’t you?
I bring this all up because of something I’ve noticed my entire life. Rural communities are and must be consumed with the weather. It means everything to a farmer and the main street businesses. As an example we had 2 inches of rain yesterday. I had to go to a meeting in town right after the rain and the first discussion topic I had with everyone I came into contact with involved the weather. “Did you get a nice rain?” I think if you lived in the middle of the city you wouldn’t understand the use of the word ‘nice’ when describing rain but it’s pretty simple. We didn’t need much rain right now and what did fall is pooled and likely hurting the young plants by cutting off their oxygen supply. Mostly the plants will survive and it is the middle of June and we could be short of moisture by now so “Yeah we had a nice rain but we won’t need any more for a while.” “Any wind with the rain?” “Did the rain come too fast?”
Rainfall has been used for bragging rights in farm communities for years. When I was young we had an old neighbor named Fred who always got more rain than everyone else when it was dry, and if it had been too wet then he would report less than everyone else. The neighbors would say things like, “Oh I got a Fred half inch” meaning they got a little over a quarter of an inch of rain. On the other hand Fred probably had the right idea of seeing things as he wished them to be.
The weather influences even our children. My two sons live in Lincoln Nebraska and both have rain gauges at their homes and at their body shop. Rainfall is important to them if for no other reason than they grew up aware of the fact that as the weather goes, so goes the family. Their friends from the city don’t have gauges and so probably tend to look at the boys a little funny when they’re able to report the amount of rainfall from last night’s shower. I did mention their body shop so suffice it to say that weather is still important to them in other ways, especially ice and hail storms.
At golf league last night I couldn’t help but notice that it was as though all of us were trying to get enough information to write a book and the one with the best details would be declared the winner. Here’s what I learned by listening. If you lived just south of town you had 2 inches of rain but you already had too much and the gumbo (gumbo isn’t a technical term) soils have begun to hold water on top of the ground, so it wasn’t a nice rain. If you lived further up the Missouri River bottom where it’s been a little dryer, you had 1.75 inches of rain but it was a ‘nice’ rain because it was needed. If you lived south of town and west toward Craig Nebraska then you didn’t need any rain at all because their last ‘nice’ rain came in the form of hail and they all need to replant something at this late date. Now if we give everyone involved a week of hot, dry winds; then we’ll be nearing July 4th and we’ll all be able to use a ‘nice’ two inch rain.
We’re all pretty fickle when it comes to the weather. A perfect scenario for the weather in my mind is different from yours and so the old adage that “He wouldn’t be happy if they hung him with a new rope” really does apply here. Some need rain right now for their corn, but not until tomorrow night after the second cutting of hay is in the shed.
This is also the time of year that area farmers with hail insurance begin praying for rain on certain farms and hail on others. I can tell them that it won’t work. I’ve tried it.
NEXT UP: The Great Nebraska Tractor Ride

Saturday, June 12, 2010

This Is Not Good

Farmers dread late June and July and August for one reason. It can quit raining and never start again until fall. That leaves us pretty vulnerable to the hot-hot lazy days of summer when the corn and soybeans are trying to mature. The worst summers are those when we are very short of rain going into June.
Not the case this year. We were almost too wet and cold to plant in April and May but we did get most of the crops planted. Not all of them. I still have about 50 acres of unplanted ground due to water.
To top all of this off, last week we had 2.0 inches of rain at a time when we were waiting for it to get dry enough to finish planting. Exactly 2 inches.
Last Monday night June 7th we had exactly 2 inches again.
Last Wednesday night the 9th we had exactly 1 inch.
Last night the 11th we had another 1 inch exactly.
First, isn't it curious that every rain is on the inch mark exactly?
Second, this is one July we will go into, not being short of moisture.
I have plants, many of them, who are currently holding their breath until the water gets away from their roots. The forecast is for more rain. glub-glub
Suday June 13th: I just dumped exactly 1 more inch.
Monday June 14th: The cycle is broken. I only dumped .75 this morning.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Dance Recital In Lincoln

We recently attended a voice and piano recital here in town for our local Grandaughter. It was a really nice event held in the home of the instructor. We forgot our camera so trust was good.
Then the next deal was in Lincoln where 2 more Grandaughters had their dance recital. They got all painted and purtified and did great. They are pretty good dancers. I think they got my talent for being light on their feet and of course I couldn't help but notice how cute they are and that they obviously got their good looks from me also.
Oh yeah, the last pic is of their Mom. I snapped it in a local eatery after the show. I suppose she could possibly have had something to do with their good looks too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Kind Of Politician

I love this video. It was shot during a press conference.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Learning To Drive On The Farm

Cliff Morrow
 Midwest Producer

I've been driving a long time. I can't remember the time I didn't know how to drive. It started with a 1940-something, Willys Jeep. The brother next oldest to me in age, by four years, taught me how to start, shift and steer the old rig. He was about 11 at the time. You're right, I was pretty young but it was in the days before the words "child endangerment" had been thought of and I was the last of seven children spread out over nearly 20 years. Looking back I don't think it was some kind of evil plot to reduce the number of children in the family but rather it was the fact that kids who could drive were handy.
My dad was pretty disgusted the day he found out that I'd been taught to drive. He had the Jeep sitting along the lane where it was being used to pull a wagon full of seed oats. He was alternately seeding and walking back to get the wagon. I pulled it up for him and he came unglued.
"Who taught you how to drive?" He already knew, but parents are required to ask questions they already know the answer to. "Well, don't do that kind of stuff again and while you're here you might as well pull it up; count off about 10 fence posts, and then shut it off.
"And don't slip the clutch."
From that point on I learned to find things to do that would require the Jeep and a driver. One was driving around the farm delivering lunch. Lunch back then meant the two breaks between breakfast, dinner and supper. The problem being I wasn't tall enough to be able to see out any of the windows. The old Jeep had a full cab and a vent door that opened wide, in the center of the dash. It was just below the windshields and that allowed me to lean to my right and see what was coming.
Our cocker spaniel, Taffy, always accompanied me and would sit in the passenger seat in the upright position. Yes, she sat up and leaned back like a human, and that made her taller than me and so she could see out. She was looking for rabbits and I was straining to see through the hole in the dash to see what was up ahead. I think she liked the way I drove because she never said anything about my driving. To this day, my older siblings remind me that they knew who was driving when they saw the Jeep coming with no apparent driver and a dog in the passenger seat. I'm sure it looked like a rural mail carrier dog.
I soon graduated to an Oliver 77 pulling a spike toothed harrow with all of the warnings that went with that and of turning too short on the end of the fields. I was soon raking hay and doing anything and everything else that required a child who knew how to let a clutch out without burning it. Looking back I probably should have stayed in the house and watched black and white TV on one of our three channels. Life got pretty busy for me after I learned how to drive.
I was seated in the back with the dog the day Dad taught one of my sisters how to drive the Jeep. She was probably about 13 at the time and I was the "smart aleck" little brother who already knew how to shift that vehicle. I watched as Dad carefully explained about giving it a little gas with your right foot and letting the clutch out with your left. "Not too fast…but not too slow either."
The Jeep was pretty short in the available torque department so it had a tendency to lurch and almost die and then lurch and then almost die again, causing the driver to also violently go back and forth making the problem with the pedals even worse. Over and over this went on while Dad practiced patience, something he had very little of, and he sat back and got out a cigarette and his lighter.
The lighter he had back then was more like a hand-held bonfire. When he would spin the wheel the entire top of the lighter would be engulfed in flames. He held it carefully by the bottom of the lighter. I know it didn't work correctly but it was effective in a strong wind. While my sister was trying to keep from killing the Jeep, Dad's hands went back and forth with the jerking of the Jeep while the fire licked his eyebrows and eyelashes, and the flame even temporarily cured his nose hair problem. It was the only time I ever saw Dad get a cigarette out, try to light it, and then put it back in the pack.
I've since decided that in these days, teaching young children to drive is not a good idea if you're concerned about the child. My reasoning comes from what my mom told my wife when she drew her aside almost 40 years ago and whispered, "Whatever you do, don't let either one of those two men teach you how to drive a truck. You'll be driving one the rest of your life." My wife took the advice to heart, so I taught my daughter how to drive the semi. You can't start them too young.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Class Act

I think this article is a must read. Just one page. It'll just take about two minutes but you'll be glad you did. Go have a look. It pretty well explains why I've always been a fan.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Doing Their Homework

Like the Federal Government, the people of California have been scoffing for years at those who have said you need to be careful not to spend more than you can pay for.
It would seem the grim reaper is honing his cutting edge with the State of California in his sights. I hope the citizens of the state take a look at their local governments and schools as well as the state house, decide who has been in charge while this wild spending spree took place, and then vote the bums out.
The same will apply for the rest of America in November. Paying everything, for everyone, is a cute way to get votes but the day of reckoning always comes. It can't be avoided.
I would reject any attempt of the feds helping the states out.  They are facing the same problem of wild spending by an out of control regime, with no one to hold them accountable.
I think having a space for a garden and enough room to raise a couple of hogs will eventually pay off for those who do.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter Sunday at Grandma and Grandpa's Farm

"Okay girl, I don't care if you are my little cousin. I'm going to count to 3 and when I open my eyes, that green egg had better be back in my bucket!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Candelabra War

Cliff Morrow
Midwest Producer

I’ve always been a fan of southwestern U.S. history. The so-called Lincoln County War has been of interest to me for some time now. It took place in Lincoln County, N.M., and had to do with different cattle barons and bankers and lawmen. The feud resulted in the death of a young hoodlum named Billy the Kid in the small town of Fort Sumner. He was gunned down one evening in a dark room by Sheriff Pat Garrett of Lincoln County. Interesting to study if you wish to look it up.
I bring this up because of the title of this column. I have dubbed it the Candelabra War and it took place in the First Baptist Church in our small town. I was a small child at the time and the easiest way to explain what happened is to convey the crux of the Sunday dinner conversations that went back and forth between my parents.
I first was made aware of trouble when the folks began to discuss, with some consternation, that two elderly ladies in our church were having some disagreement about the set of candelabras that adorned the top of our baptistry. The baptistry was set in the wall in the front and center of our sanctuary and the top was about the size of a sheet of plywood and for all I know it was just that, a sheet of plywood. It was adorned with our churches big Bible and two candelabras.
When the Sunday School dismissal bell sounded, the class that seemed to have most of the elderly women of our church would file from their classroom and be seated in the pews just outside the door of their room.
On this first Sunday of the war Blanche had set the candelabras even with the back of the Bible, one on either side. They were straight with the world.
Sunday 2: Suzanne came to Sunday School and on the way in, stopped over and pulled the candelabras forward and slanted them both toward the Bible.
Sunday 3: Blanche came out of Sunday School and pushed the candle holders back and straightened them out knowing full well she had foiled Suzanne. It was obviously too late to do anything else before church started.
Sunday 4: Suzanne came out of Sunday School and as the organist played the prelude, pulled the candles forward and turned them just so. I’m sure the same logic applied here as was used last Sunday.
Sunday 5: Blanche pushed the tapers back and straightened them out before Sunday School.
The same day: Suzanne went up again during the prelude and pulled them forward and turned them again. By all appearances, she got the best of Blanche again.
The same day: New rules of engagement are obviously being written on the fly because after the prelude, the opening prayer, and during the last verse of the first hymn, Blanche marched up, pushed the candelabras back and straightened them out. Suzanne rose from here seat, shuffled to the aisle, turned toward the door, threw her head back and went home.
Truthfully, I’m unable to declare the winner here and even though there is definitely a lesson to be learned, I’m not sure what it is. I don’t think any corrective action was attempted because the Deacons and the minister were all men and well, you know … something was probably mumbled about ‘choosing your hill to die on’ wisely.
As of late, the trend in larger churches is toward big media centers that immerse the senses in sights and sounds and are meant to aide worship and in some cases, provide entertainment. Small congregations across farm and ranch country are usually left out of these improvements because of the hefty price tag for the equipment. The Candelabra War proved the “entertainment” part has, and always will be, available to small congregations.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Belly Up To The Trough

The pigs at the trough, having gained control, have asked for and recieved unlimited slop. 
The fact that the local auctioneer stopped to talk to the farmer, and left with a long list of equipment, seems to have escaped the pigs notice. The poor pigs. Their future looks grim.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The thrill of survival

Midwest Producer

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I've been watching the Olympics in Canada. Watching the curling events to be a bit more precise. I felt like I needed to sit down and type a while and let my nerves unwind from the excitement. I've never understood why I am not a big fan of these Winter Games but I suspect that it has partly to do with the fact that I'm from Nebraska - where the greatest winter opportunities are to brag about how far south you went on your winter vacation or how you survived that fall on the ice last week. But it hasn't fazed your thinking a bit. You still want to live here.
And you're here partly because of your strong will and belief system. The basic tenet that life shouldn't be too easy. Remember, this is building character. Surviving here will put hair on your chest.
The Winter Games are a combination of grace, strength, beautiful lifts and moves, and the hope that gravity will somehow take over so they can get those skis back on the snow and make that next turn going 70 miles per hour. Just like living in Kansas and Nebraska in the winter, success in the Olympics is sometimes measured in mere survival. Just try to be the only one who didn't land in a twisted pile of humanity and you'll be the winner.
Opportunities to improve our character have come in many forms this winter. We've had several power outages. Mostly they were brief, but one lasted into the next day. Not bad by most accounts and ice storms standards. We've had copious amounts of snow fall and freezing rain. The locals have pushed it, scooped it, thrown sand on it, spread salt on it and even blown it up into the wind by mechanical means just to give the neighbors more character building opportunities. The season has elevated our snowplow operators and electric company lineman to legendary status. It has closed schools and postponed a great number of games, concerts and social events.
We live where hope springs eternal in the hearts of all Midwesterners. We know that if we persevere, that if we can somehow just "wear this winter out," spring is right around the corner with its warmer temperatures, muddy roads and flooding. The adversity will be there but we won't need to wear so darned many clothes while we face it. By then we'll be thinking about planting, raising crops and killing weeds and we'll have the comfort of knowing that last winter was about as bad as it could have been and next winter will be better. At least we can hope.
But through it all, we must survive. We find entertainment where we can. It might consist of a diversion at the local schools with their games and concerts, or going out to eat on occasion if we think we can get home before the wind blows the road closed again or we stay home, invite the neighbors over and watch television. That's when we realize that even though the satellite serves up 200 or 300 channels, there's really nothing to watch. Two nights ago I narrowed the choices down to the Winter Olympics or an infomercial called "Get the Body You Deserve." Since I already had the latter… I watched the games.
Wow! How does sweeping make that curling stone move like that and should I start carrying a broom in the truck for my wife to use when we're trying to stop on ice?
It really has been a long winter.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Mere Miracle--I Think Not

You need to read THIS ARTICLE from our local paper. It's about my sister Mary. You'll likely not forget having read it.
Besides this incredible story, I must say that the journalist who wrote this did a masterful job.  Katie is the gal who sits through all of our county board meetings and reports it to the local paper. She's a friend of mine and talented indeed.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Just Wondering...

..what Ralph is going to do in the morning after he gets Char out the door and on her way to work.

I have a sister in-laws father who didn't go to work one Monday morning. He hadn't missed a day in years. A lot of years. His wife asked him if he wasn't late for work. He said, "I retired Friday."
News to her.  
Char knew about this one.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bike Show

Yesterday was pretty interesting. We went to a motorcycle show in Lincoln Nebraska.  It was huge. I never realized the interest there is in this sort of thing. The main reason for us attending was to see our sons entry into the restored bikes section of the show with his 1947 Indian.  This first pic is a pic of a picture. It shows him sitting on the bike circa 2002 when he first began working on it in his spare time.

The next pic was taken yesterday at the show. Same bike. Same kid. 
This is the one who did my Allis D-14 along with my other son.
The above red bike is also a 47 Indian and was also painted by him. It belongs to a friend. Most of the bikes in that 'Old Indians' display were infact painted by him. The ones sitting behind the red bike.
The red side-car that you can't see very well is the same one featured below holding two of my grandchildren. The family photo is missing the youngest. Georgia was sleeping like a...well a baby. I think mostly because she is. We stopped at our other sons place to see if Hudson (green shirt) could come out and play with Grandma and Grandpa. We took him back home sporting a leather vest and a tie dyed head scarf. They agreed to let him go with us again, anyway.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

District 19

 Midwest Producer

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 9:47 AM CST

I recently went to a funeral for an old friend. She was 97 years old and only struggled in the last few of those years. Before the effort it took her to exit this life, she had spent a lifetime of clear thinking and planning. It seemed she was totally in control and I suppose it was her masterful ability to or-ganize everything in her life that made her stand out to so many of us. Those of us who were pallbearers stood in the church foyer talking and reminiscing about Almeda. We soon discovered that we had all been asked to be a pall bearer at this funeral, about 10 to 15 years ago, by her personally. We talked about the impact she had had on all of us and hundreds of others of us, long ago when we were children.
You see Mrs. Hurlocker was our country school teacher. I was fortunate enough to have her for grades 1 through 5, after which she went to another school. I don't have the exact figures but I think she taught about 20 students spread out over the eight grades, all at the same time.
While attending "Tobin" School District 19, I don't recall having any free time to dally. I was always busy doing assignments. Each grade would take turns coming up to the bench by her big desk to receive instruction and the work she expected us to do in the next hour or so. If we needed some help, an older student would be asked to pull up alongside and take command of the problem we were having. I don't believe this was a bad thing for either the "student" teacher or the student having trouble. By this we learned that we can all have trouble in certain phases in our life and we can all assist others out of their dilemmas. This all took place before political correctness, it was for us to learn the lesson well that if we tried hard we could succeed and if we loafed, we were going to lose. But say what you will, we had the basics of reading and writing and math down cold. Mrs. Hurlocker liked repetition.
I fondly recall that she knew who the baseball fans were in the school and would afford a couple of us the opportunity to take advantage of the latest in technology. One crisp fall afternoon, she opened the window on her Ford Fairlane and turned on the radio so we could sit on the school's porch and listen to the last few innings of the World Series. That was where I sat on Oct. 13, 1960, with one or two others and listened to my beloved Yankees lose the seventh game of the Series to the Pirates when Bill Mazerowski hit a ninth inning home run off of Yankee reliever Ralph Terry. The ball blasted over the head of Yankee left fielder Yogi Berra, to end the game. It was the first walk off home run in Series history and I was crushed, but I at least got to hear it, thanks to our teacher. She could see the stress it had caused this ten year old boy and she was kind. She always was.
At the funeral, I began to recall all of the pretty successful folks in this world that she helped get started. I thought of farmers, doctors, scientists, teachers, salesmen, mothers and fathers, and the list goes on, all solid United States citizens that she had pointed down the right path. The little folks she gathered around the flag pole each morning to give the pledge and raise 'Ol Glory' had turned out just fine.
As we continued the conversation in the foyer, we talked that none of us had ever witnessed Mrs. Hurlocker lose her composure. She was always in control. She was always organized. She had to be, to accomplish what she did.
Thinking back on that period in my life, the system was pretty simple, the local farmers were on the school board and their charge was straight forward: take care of the building and hire the best teacher they could find.
It makes one pause and wonder at the money we spend on education in today's world and just how we got to where we are now. I do know that every child needs a caring, well-organized and intentioned teacher who can make a difference. District 19 sure had one.

Wild Blue Satellite Internet and Great Plains Communications

I have today officially fired Wild Blue and Great Plains Communications of Blair Nebraska.
I lost my internet signal on January 30. That day the service ticket was sent from WB to Great Plains.
Today is February 19th and I finally got a call from Johnson Communications who ultimately got the ticket. They are probably the ones to blame but there is enough blame to go around. They wanted to come out tomorrow to fix my dish or my modem.
I asked the lady if she didn't think 3 weeks was too long of a  time to go without service expecially when the internet is such a integral part of doing business.  We have two business' and my job as a county supervisor to think about. We file all of our tax forms to the state online.
I told Johnson Communications not to bother coming out because I had already cancelled my service and promised to do all within my power to warn everyone about the troubles with all three companies.
I will just say that if you do business with Wild Blue, or Great Plains Commuications of Blair Nebraska, or Johnson Communications of Iowa, you like me, are a fool.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Need Your Advice

I think I've found a great solution to Wild Blue. I'm going to fire them. It's now been 2 weeks of no internet service without an offer to come fix it. I've cajoled, pleaded, yelled,  and tried messing with their brains. They flat out don't care.
Soooo..I bought a new cell phone and have hooked it to my computer for a modem and it is fast. I mean instant. It's probably what you are used to, but I've never had anything fast. This is fast.
It's about $5 bucks a month cheaper too. No contract to boot.
Since the plan is specific to my cell phone and we have no internet when it's with me, I plan to switch to a local company's micro link type service in the future but until then, I'm going this way. Also it will allow me to run our laptops while traveling.
Here's where I need your help. For email I started with Juno then changed my address to dial up then changed my address when I switched to satellite and now I'll need to do it again.
This time I want to go to my last email address. (ie, yahoo or google or whatever.)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Crabby Cliffs Krabby Dip

I’ve had an idea for a dip for a couple of months now. I’m sure there must be one just like it somewhere but as for this one, I made it up and put it together for the Super Bowl get together that we had. It seemed to disappear quickly even though it really was a pretty large amount of dip.
Keep in mind that for a recipe to appeal to me you have to be able to dump an entire package or container or can, in at once or at least leave the measurements up to my judgment. So here it is.

16 oz carton of Sour Cream

12 oz package of Imitation Crab Meat (shredded with a knife or cut with a pastry cutter) (Or you could try stomping on it.)

8 oz pkg Cream Cheese (softened)

About 6 oz of a bottle of Cocktail Sauce. Or more. Or less.

Mix it all together and season to taste. I used garlic salt, onion powder, and white pepper. . Then chill.

TIP: Reserve 2 bites of the crab meat and 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Before mixing, dip the meat into the sauce and eat both pieces. Tell folks that this was to check the integrity of both the sauce and the meat. You can’t be too careful when it comes to the health of your family and friends. Then try the dip on a number of different crackers and chips and veggies. If there is any dip left, serve to your company.

For a printer friendly version of this recipe, retype it and print.

I'm going shopping till Friday nite.  Well, isn't that what you'd call a supervisors workshop?
See ya.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Wild Blue Satellite Internet

I have spent 10 days without an internet connection. The thing seems to be miraculously working this morning so I wanted you to know why I haven't been around.  The problem has been determined to be an equipment problem. The dish, or its aiming or the modem. I've been needing a service call.  I've spent about 4 hours on the phone, being passed from city to city to town to technician and even to different countries all in an attempt to avoid having one of their non-existent service men come out. WildBlue doesn't seem to even have someone who can call me about coming out. Maybe sometime this week.
In the mean time I have contacted a different company who will be out to install a new system. I can't wait to make the phone call to Wild Blue saying "I know you just had someone out to fix my system, but You had your chance."
I did find out something that would be of help. If I had purchased my Wildblue service thru Directv, one of their service people would have come out. I've had nothing but perfect response from Directv since I started with them in 1996. If this new company isn't able to provide good enough reception here, I will cancel my Wildblue and then call Directv and have it re-installed and bundled thru them. At least they have an army of skilled service people to help customers.  Great Plains Communications also bears a great deal of the blame for all of this. They are the local distributors for W.B.
Now to go answer some email. I was over my quota (because I couldn't get my email) so most of it was returned. I do have 55 new messages to do something with. Later kids.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


If I owned or managed an office supply store in one of Northeast Nebraskas larger towns. And if I had 3 aisles of high end office machines selling for between $100 and $500 each.
And if there were say six people all about 40 to 60 year old and standing and reading tags in those aisles and more or less looking lost. I would assume that because of their age they probably could afford any machine they were looking at and that they couldn't get all of the info they need from a little tag that has 4 lines of writing on it and a sticky note on the front that proclaimed 'Out of Stock!' Therefore I would assume people browsing in the pencil aisle could wait and I'd have someone trained to "LEARN ALL YOU CAN ABOUT EACH OF THOSE MACHINES AND IF YOU SEE ANYONE OVER THERE GO SEE IF YOU CAN SELL THEM A MACHINE."
I'd also go to the two young men leaning on the counter and talking to the pretty customer service girl and say something like, "Here, let me lean on this counter and stare at this lovely thing, that should free you two guys up to go help customers." (said thru clenched teeth)
And if I were the manager I'd be in the store to see that it was accomplished.
Now excuse me, I need to get busy online to buy a new printer.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Conflict Resolution

So. I've been to a 'conflict resolution' training class in my capacity as a county Supervisor. It's designed to be used in thngs like contentuous hearings, employee strife and or negotiations and stuff like that.It was in Lincoln.  It was taught by a Prof from the U.of N.
Also, Silly me, taking a class like this  AFTER already having been married for nearly 40 years.
It has already come in handy. I left for Lincoln on Wednesday afternoon, We had lost our power (ice storm) on Tuesday nite. We went to a funeral on Wednesday morning and since there was no wind and it was 31 degrees, I felt safe taking off for  the State Capital secure in the belief that the power would be back on before sunset. I was right. It came back on before, Friday. Marilyn was home alone without power Thursday night but was able to work at the kennel all day Thursday and Friday as the power was still on there. The problem was using a candle for entertainment while at home.
The way I handled this was to get the generator out of the shed one more time and hook it up at about sundown yesterday. The good news there is that I found out it will run for at least 5 hours on a fill of gas. I've always wondered that. The bad news is that when I shut it down about noon today it was leaking enough oil to be a concern. Unattended motors shouldn't be allowed to leak oil.
Did I mention our phone is also out? It is. The good news is that we have forwarded the home phone into my cell phone. The bad news is that my cell just barely works here at home.  I may have to tavel to and spend time in Cabelas or Pro Bass Shop in Omaha to answer our home phone. Bummer.
The frozen snow packed roads that are now melting to a depth of about 1 inch are more or less a watery mixture of mud.  The south winds will cover the car with a dark brown frosting everytime we hit a watery mudhole.  For a brief moment it turns the van into an unlit cave. It is our version of the Califonia 'brown outs' of several years ago.
All of these problems have folks around this farm a bit on edge and so I've decided to resolve this conflict by trying to keep my mouth shut for a few days. I know I'm not able to do that but I don't think Marilyn's interested in hearing about  seperating 'Positions' from 'Interests' in a conflict. At least not yet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Time Diversions

Cliff Morrow
My wife has been a lifelong ardent lover of horses. She grew up in Denver and had spent much of her childhood free time and money by renting and riding horses. That is up until she received a horse for a birthday gift when she was 12. That ownership led to a lifelong attraction to the hairy beasts.
Most of my childhood horse experience was gained in front of a black and white television, watching the Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Not a lot of practical experience was gained from observing the Lone Ranger unless of course you think horses should be at a full gallop, all of the time. I think "Silver" was an old barrel horse.
At our farm, we ran out of Dad's work horses in the early 1950s. The last two horses spent their final days here on this farm doing what horses do best, converting hay into fertilizer.
We did 'winter' a horse for a man for a few years back in my middle school days. Uh, middle school would have been the middle two rows of desks in our first through eighth grade country school.
Back then you could get a free horse to use doing your cattle chores in the wintertime so long as you fed and watered the mare from fall through late spring. (Incidentally I would now make that same offer to someone else who needed a horse to look at in the winter time.)
These horses were broodmares and expecting young ones, so they became too wide to ride by about April. Those few years were the extent of my horse experience. It did prove successful in getting me over the "romantic" notion in my mind of being able to ride into the sunset strumming my guitar while singing Happy Trails in two-part harmony. The main reason for my lack of continued enthusiasm is that I didn't know what I was doing, and the horse did know what she was doing. And besides, neither one of us could play a guitar.
Case in point is the day I was at a full gallop in a field of cornstalks and heading to look at the cattle on the east side of the 160 acres. I noticed that the cinch was flapping in the wind on the south side of the horse and that the big leather cinch strap was doing the same on the north side of the horse. I felt like the coyote on the Road Runner cartoons who always looked straight into the camera lens after accidentally running out into mid-air, on a chase.
I really didn't know how to ride but I gained valuable experience that day. I knew I could ride that horse at a gallop without a cinch, and that I could ride her at a walk without a cinch. I had my doubts about the 'trot' one must go through between the two. My doubts were well founded.
As my stunt riding career came to a close, my future bride was in Denver becoming proficient at riding hunters and jumpers. After we met and married, it was my desire to try to impress her with the idea of something that I had seen in a Courier and Ives painting. I was going to make a sleigh, and I would have her buy a single harness and train one of our horses to pull it. I did build the sleigh. It was sturdy and very, very heavy. I had welded it together. Farmers shouldn't build sleighs. It turned into what a training sleigh for an elephant might look like.
Marilyn was successful with her part of the bargain and the big day arrived. We harnessed the horse, placed a set of sleigh bells on the harness, put on all of the clothes we owned, (it was about zero out) and started over to the neighbors to say "Hi neighbors!" Then we answered some of their questions, "Oh sure, the sleigh, yeah we thought we'd save some money and come visit under horsepower." "Well, we were walking because the mare can't pull the sleigh with people in it, it's too heavy." "Yep, she is a stout sled." "Thanks."
As it turned out we had lunch with the neighbors and the horse then had more than enough power to pull both the sleigh and my wife and I, after we had made the turn toward home. Horses are like that. By the end of that frosty trip, I also learned that as romantic as riding in the fresh air on a sleigh might sound, it isn't. Horses constantly shed hair in the wintertime, and they don't have catalytic converters on their exhaust systems and it's so cold that the word "survival" begins to have clear meaning.
If you want to try this yourself, pick a really cold day, put on all the clothes you own, then roll the window down on your pickup for the next 20 miles. Don't forget the bells. Quite romantic, eh?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Out For A Drive

We went for a drive the other morning. Marilyn took the Canon along and snapped a few shots.  The temperature was a minus twenty two degrees and it was foggy, mostly because of the still open Missouri river just a short distance away. The fog and temps account for the frost on the lone pine tree along the road to town.  The neighbors grain bin is backlit by the sun. 

The shot above is taken on our lane looking south toward home.  This last one is a pic of our main road toward town.

Monday, January 04, 2010

They Can't Scare Me

The local radio stations are trying to unnerve those of us living in Nebraska. But I'm not blinking. This morning as I drove Marilyn all over eastern Burt County helping her to pick up dogs to be groomed, the radio kept warning of impending wind chills nearing 30 degrees below zero with the upcoming wind and cold. I wasn't shaken because the temperature read-out on our van stayed right at a -27 everytime we ventured away from the towns and out into the bottom grounds east of US Highway 75.
By my calculations you won't need much wind added to 27 below temps to make it 'feel like' it was 30 below.
I'm sure glad I didn't move south for the winter. I could have missed out on this.