Friday, December 21, 2012

I Might Be In Trouble

If it turns out that the world doesn't come to an end tonight,,, then that means I should have gone ahead and purchased a Christmas present for my wife.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The skin is almost installed. The south end is all that is left. The blue scissors lift is parked in what will be a 10 X 20 patio area. Marilyn will be able to back her kennel van into the garage door just east of the patio. The scissors lift will be done as soon as the tin on the eve is installed. It is about 9'2" when in the collapsed position and the ceiling in the building is only 9 feet high. They're going to bring a small one to do the insulation in the ceiling. The front door is in the patio area but hidden by the equipment.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Even Though...

The roof is on, the two cupolas, and half of the sidewall tin, but I don't have a current pic. I thought you might like these. Marilyn talked the workers into taking her up in their big scissors lift. The bottom pic is a great view of our building and our lane. Some would be tickled to have a long private drive, but it costs a fortune to keep that thing in shape. Add 3 feet deep snow and it becomes a long problem. The buildings you can see up on the main road, are our daughters house and the current kennel buildings.
Notice the man on stilts in the second photo. Overall we're very pleased with the quality of the workmanship and materials they've used.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Don’t Touch The Feathers

Most of you will soon be gathering to give thanks. Being thankful is one life’s greatest virtues and can have a fulfilling effect on people’s lives. They say the art of being thankful on a daily basis, can have long term health benefits, a great attitude not being the least of these.
For farmers Thanksgiving comes at a good time, that being near the end of what usually is a long and stressful growing season. The work is nearly done and it’s time to reflect on our treasures of family, friends, health and that which is going right for us in our lives. It’s certainly a time to contemplate and gain some valuable perspective, to bring the heart rate down a few beats if you will.
For me it’s hard not to dwell on past Thanksgivings here on the farm, without being drawn to my pet turkey back in about 1960. 
My Mom purchased about 8 turkeys in the early spring for me to raise. We still had a brooder house at that time and so they began life under heat lamps and eventually made their way into the outdoor chicken yard as they gained age and size. Turkeys can have trouble surviving the elements.  It seems like the youngsters can go from healthy to dead in one day and so I eventually, one at time, lost 3 of them before they were old enough to leave the brooder house so 5 got to the skinny, gangly age and were being let out of their pen during the daylight hours. Then they began to disappear. It didn’t happen quickly, but every few weeks we’d let them all out and all but one would be back at night. Thinking back, we had enough varmints in the area that could account for the progression to a small flock that it shouldn’t have surprised us. Long story short, I had one left. It was a Tom. I named him, Tom. I was pretty creative even back then. 
We made it so Tom had the run of the big empty chicken house.  He had an unlimited amount of feed and would often get access to several pounds of shelled corn at a time.  The result of the good life was that Tom got big. I mean really big. He would get turned out of his pen on occasion and was afraid of nothing.  He was ready for the oven months before Thanksgiving Day but that was the planned target date so we just kept feeding him. He would move around the farm slowly. He had all of the agility of a combine with a 12 row head.
If there were people out and about the farmstead, he would casually come for a visit in a slow, deliberate walk.  One day near the end of summer, my brother Ed was knelt down in front of the farm shop, welding on a piece of equipment. He flipped his welding mask up and standing right beside him was Tom. Tom had been watching him weld but wasn’t wearing a welding mask so Ed attempted to scare him off. Tom didn’t scare easily. It was at this time that my brother noticed a breast feather low on his massive breast that was hanging down out of place. It looked like it was about to fall out so he reached up and pulled it out. Pulling that was a mistake. The feather was attached to the turkey and the turkey it turns out, was very attached to that feather. After that feather plucking, Tom put Ed on the top of his enemies list.
We tried to keep the turkey locked up most of the time but if Ed got out of his pickup and began walking across the yard, the turkey would come on the dead run with the intent of doing great bodily injury to my brother. I looked out the window one afternoon to see my brother running to his pickup and jumping inside just before this giant bird came flying through the air and dive bombed his windshield. It was a scary display of turkey hatred. This behavior continued until Thanksgiving Day approached and we found someone who would dress the bird. We put him in a crate and of course Ed wanted to be the one to haul him to the butcher. Later, we got a call from the processor that started out saying, “Do you people have any idea how much this bird weighed?” “Forty Four pounds dressed,” as he answered himself. Mom had our giant bird split in half and he still had to be trimmed a bit to fit in our oven. 
She was inclined to invite lots of company for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and Tom fed both groups.
Now, with Thanksgiving upon us, it’s impossible to be thankful without making full use of our capacity to remember. Stop and think, relax, and think about Thanksgivings past and of the blessings that do and are surely still to come your way. Even if those memories might include, the original Big Bird.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Blog buddies out there. I hope your day is filled with blessings. C

Friday, November 09, 2012


I watched Harry Reid interviewed today. He seems to think that the President was re-elected with his electorate knowing and expecting that he was going to raise tax revenues by sucking even more money out of the private sector to fund and perpetuate his plan.
Evidence that his plan is working is that welfare is up 32% and food stamp use is up 77% over the last four years and has Eric Holder picking and choosing which laws to prosecute and which to totally ignore depending on how it effects undocumented voters, does anyone really believe that his electorate voted for him for his fiscal policies. AND he has successfully demonized the people who have willingly paid the taxes to fund this. They should be patted on the back instead of demonized.
The reason he was re-elected is: It's the free stuff  and his shameless disregard for the law.
It's time for some grown ups to take charge of the thinking in D.C. and stop the spending. Or at least make the recipients of the hand outs write a thank you note to an anonymous tax payer before they can get the money. And before you say it, I'd be for stopping the farm program all together. All of it. Even the biggest part. That would be the food stamp program. It's time for everyone to do their fair share. Let's see, where have I heard that before.
My answer to all of this is: Go back to 2008 spending levels on everything. Get rid of all new spending and departments and czars that went into effect after that and then each year cut every budget item by 10% until the debt is gone.
It can't happen because you can't buy votes if fiscal responsibility is your aim.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Get In The Wagon
This short video explains the problem we now find ourselves in. After the results of last night, I move we all park our money off shore and climb in the wagon and wait this out. We need to remove the supply of entitlement money and then watch them squirm.
On a related note, I couldn't have been more proud of the citizens of Nebraska.
I wonder how much it's going to cost to ship a carpet bag full of mud, along with the sling, all the way from Omaha to New York City?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Progress Report

 Above is a picture of the challenge presented to the concrete workers while pouring Marilyn's new kennel. This shows electrical and water conduits as well as water drain conduits. Couple these with the four different slopes to drains on 2/3's of the building and there was no room for a cement truck. What to do???
 This is a  magic trick. They got a pipe from the sky to dribble concrete exactly where they needed it.
Well actually the magic pipe was attached to this truck. As each truck came down the lane to unload all they had to do was unload into the pump. It made for a quick pour.(compared to how long it would have taken without the pump) They did it in 3 different pours.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Footings For The New Kennel Are Being Prepared

The company doing the building were very pleased with the site prep we had done. The company who hauled in the clay and packed it did a great job as you can see by the condition of the trenches. They were clean and hard with not even close to a cave off.
This shows the 'lines' (orange string) they had installed for the plumbers and electricians to work from. When this photo was taken the footings were in and already set and the drains and water lines and electrical had been installed and ready for the cap to be poured. The pour will be difficult because of the drains in the garage, the hall ways and the slopes in the kennel area.

A Trip To The Garden For Marilyn

Pic was taken about a month ago. The Tomato crop was good but the size of the tomatoes was down because of the drought. Most of this picking was tennis ball size. The beans were mostly a bust. The sweet potato crop was really good. Too good. We have them in a pile on the basement floor. Here she picked one plant. It produced 11#'s worth.
She made a "pumkin" pie with some sweet potatoes a week ago. It was easily the best pie I've had. That from a man who doesn't care for pumkin pie all that much.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Picture Taken In Blair, NE

"Yeah, Someone told me you'd lost your head."

Monday, September 03, 2012

And So It Begins


This picture is taken in a low area just east of our house. It is the future home of Morrow Kennels new facility. This past week, we had a ground breaking ceremony. Marilyn is on the left and our daughter Juli is on the right.

 This is the beginning of the grading for the project. They needed to remove the grass and weeds to have a firm, fresh place to haul in new dirt to bring everything up to the grade we needed.

 This picture was taken early in the hauling process.

This is the finished project with the final grade. The new building will be nearly 5300 square feet and be an all weather building with the ability to close the entire kennel to inclement winters and summers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Memories Of Fall

Photo by Marilyn Morrow

The sights and sounds and smells that trigger our brains into remembering the past, are for me, most active in the fall.  About this time of year, I once asked our local hardware store merchant how he was doing. It was an off the cuff remark by me that I really was using in place of some other greeting.   He took it as a very serious question.  He said, “Well Cliff, this time of year always makes me feel melancholy.”  I asked him why and he continued, “Well, all of the trees and plants will soon be dropping their leaves, and well you know, dying off and I know that winter is not far behind.” 
I have a different take on it.  Out here on the farm we plan and plant and cultivate and make decisions all year but then September comes.  The first couple of days of low temperatures in the upper 40’s and highs in the 60’s are so very refreshing. Stepping onto the porch early in the morning and drawing in that first big breath of cold dry air is almost intoxicating. It is indeed nearing the end of life for our plants in the field but for those of us who farm, we see the finish line and it’s straight ahead. The reward for a long season of work is nearing and the weather is steadily getting colder.
I call it ‘lost sweatshirt weather’.  Every morning when you get ready to go you can’t find your sweatshirt.  Your mind rewinds to yesterday when you had it on when you went out of the door but had to take it off because… “Oh yeah, I remember now, it’s laying in the old truck.”
This time of year the blackbirds begin to ‘school’ into groups of thousands and flit and flutter and dive in what seems to be a carefully choreographed production to rival the Olympic opening ceremonies from China. We begin to stir around in our farm shops and ready ourselves and equipment for a harvest that we have high hopes for.  A harvest that might be better or worse than expected but we are eager to find the answer. 
For me, a trigger for the memories of fall include the apples turning their bright red color.  It takes me back to the times I would walk the two miles home from our little country school. In the fall I would stop and procure an apple from the neighbor’s orchard
I have the memory of being put in a wagon to help kick ear corn down into the elevator.  It sounds dangerous but thinking back on that, it’s evident that Dad put me in there so that he would know exactly where I was and that he wouldn’t need to worry about me getting into the large series of gears and drive shafts that powered the elevator.
The smell of burning cottonwood leaves, the sound of the  banging of the irrigation pipe being retrieved from a nearly mature corn field, and the sounds of geese and ducks flying overhead and the occasional barrage of gun fire from nearby hunting blinds all serve to bring back good memories of fall.
You too are about to get busy in the fields and you have your own set of memories to build on.  If you have children or grand children, make sure they get a good start on their future memories and that they are pleasant ones.
Okay, I’ll agree with our hardware store owner.  I get a little melancholy too.
Winter is right around the corner.
But then again, so is spring.
Be careful out there.
This was published in my column in the Midwest Producer Magazine back in September of 2008 but I just reread it and still thought it to be relevant.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Car Show

We spent Saturday afternoon in our little town at a car show. They invited everyone, cars, trucks, motorcylces and antique tractors. There was no entry fee and no judging. My kind of display. My son Dan brought the 1947 Indian he restored and I brought my 1957 Allis Chalmers D-14 that he and Tom restored. The bottom picture is of a 2008 Grandaughter. If you were to make eye contact with her you too would get the same smile. Everyone calls her Georgie. She has 3 sisters.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Mice Will Play

My son is on vacation with his family.  We were on our way thru Lincoln and decided to stop, see if his staff  was busy, and report to him. Below is the pic we took, and then we texted it to him. It shows his brother Tom on the left, his office manager, and two of the shop techs in a meeting. I texted it to him and his reply was: "I expected this".

 Below is a picture of one of Dan's daughters that he took while on their trip. He has titled it:


Friday, July 27, 2012

Green Snap

UPDATE TO THE STORY BELOW: My Brother Ed is a spray pilot and took the above photo from his Ag-Cat turbine. That's our house in the background. Some backwaters of the Missouri River to the rear. If you enlarge the photo you can see some of the sand deposits left by the river from last years flood. The light colored area is where the green snap occurred.
Just when you think there can't be anything worse than watching your crops do a slow simmer into oblivion in 100 degree plus weather... a rogue wind storm causes this. The problems here are many. These corn plants did have close to fully developed  ears that would have matured and produced a crop. A short crop because of the drought, but at least a crop. It's unlikely we'll be able to get this through a combine so we'll have a volunteer corn problem next year in the soybeans that will be planted here.
Green snap (corn snapping off near the ground) can be found mostly in corn that has reached it's maximum height and is a result of thunderstorms. This affects only about 15 acres of my crop but I've seen entire hillsides leveled by this type of down burst in other areas.
Our local area has a lot of green snap but it's all across the Missouri River from me, and on east, where they received some good rains. I got the wind but not much of the rain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our Barbeque Grills...

are in the sun on the west side of the house. It's 100 degrees. I'm going to throw a couple of burgers on the grill, go inside and wait to check them in about 20 minutes. If by chance they're not done, I'm going to light the grill.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

We Need Rain!

And also cooler temps. This is gettng extreme.
It's so dry here that we in the Baptist church have begun using just a wet washcloth for Baptisms.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Just Wondering

I received this pic in a text today. I lent my pontoon to my sons in Lincoln. The two men here are our sons. The 3 boys belong to my youngest in the yellow shirt. His wife is beside him on the couch.
All of the girls (4) belong to the picture taker and his wife is on the right.
I'm just wondering, it looks like fun and you're only looking at about half of the boat. I must have missed the call. Did any of you get a call??

Sunday, July 01, 2012


We had been hauling irrigation pipe. My crew consisted of 2 big strong lads. One 13 and one 14 years of age.
These two are very talkative fellows and can find stuff to talk about even when there is nothing to talk about.
I was standing in the kitchen while they sat in our dinette taking a break. When I finally tuned in I heard my grandson say "You know the Lucky Charms cereal?" His buddy affirms, "uh-huh."
He continued, "Well you know how they have those marshmallows and that other stuff like Cheerios?"
His buddy replied in a very soft voice, "Yeah, they need to get rid of that other stuff."
Marketing analysts in the making I'd say.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Marilyns Other Job

 My wife, Marilyn along with my daughter Juli,  groom on the average about 10 to 12 dogs per day. Then for relaxation she works like, well...a dog on her garden. Here are a few shots of her handiwork.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Summertime Activities

As busy as we are this time of year, we always take time to watch the grandkids play ball. At least the ones who live near by. This is one place you'll find Marilyn and I on many nights in June. Well, this, and ball fields all across Northeast Nebraska. Off in the distance you'll see another field where our grandaughter Casey plays some of her softball games.
The top pic is of Colton hitting a ball down the first base side of the field for a single. If you look closely you'll see the ball after he hit it. It's the white blur over the plate.

Colton won't be 14 until late July but he is a big kid. I measured him in his barefeet last week and he stands exactly 6' 1". The bottom pic is of Colton trotting to 2nd base after the next batter was given a walk. He's a good hitter and hasn't failed to put the ball in play yet this season.
Oh yeah, the pictures were taken thru a chain link fence so I couldn't yell while taking the photos. I was afraid I might 'strain' my voice.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Dr. Seuss

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Dual Fuel

This is my 13 year old grandson power washing my mother inlaw's deck. Below find the fuels the operation was running on.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First Tomato

Our growing season is way ahead of schedule here. Waaay ahead. Our corn is already mid thigh high. The peonies were all a month ahead of time and distant memory. But yesterday we had our first full sized, ripe tomato. I don't think I've had very many tomatoes from this area even in July so to have one in May is incredible.
I should have taken a picture but Ralph and Char and Marilyn had it cut up and on grilled hamburgers before I thought of it.
We all spent an enjoyable weekend in Normal Ill at their Granddaughter's high school graduation. Good times and great party. Really neat folks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

No Groaning Please

A man takes his goldfish to the veterinarian. The vet asks "What seems to be the problem here?" The man says "I think this goldfish might have epilepsy."
After peering into the bowl a little while the vet says, "He seems normal to me."
The man indignantly said, "Sure he seems normal, thats because you haven't taken him out of the water yet."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fairy Dusted

I'm really getting to adore this modern technology. I spent years trying to tell people that all they had to do in order to use email was get a computer, sign up for a dial up connection and they'd be in. I was always thrilled when I got something from one of my brothers or sisters. "Look," I'd say to Marilyn. "We got mail and best of all it's free." It didn't cost us a thing. Yeah, right.
Now I get my email both at home and on my not-so-smart phone. Every few minutes during the day I now get unbelievable deals right in my pocket, all kinds of new and different ways to save money on shoes and siding and furniture and the latest joke to be circling the globe.Just yesterday I was huffing and puffing while hoisting a sweep auger into a grain bin. Then it happened, I got an advertisement for a "spot cooler" on my phone. How did they know I was sweating?
I also received notification by the newspaper in Omaha that texting or sending a picture with your smart phone is not the best way to contact a 911 operator. Yes, I stared at the grain bin wall for a bit. A picture! How would you accomplish that feat? "Dear 911, in the attached photo please find the picture of my right hand and notice also that it is no longer attached to my right arm. Please send an ambulance." Later in the hospital you'll come to realize that it's a good thing you're left-handed or you couldn't have sent the text.
I was warned about even wading off into the dark and murky waters of smart phones. My sons use them but when I called and said, "Dan, Marilyn and I can buy one and get one free, what do you think?" After a long and awkward pause he said, "Uh, Dad, there's a pretty steep learning curve when you go to these phones. Are you sure you have the patience for this?" Then I yelled, no, spoke forcefully into the phone and said, "What the heck is that supposed to mean?" I'm not sure but I think he quietly said to himself, "precisely."
We've been inventing new words ever since we made the plunge. I will tell Marilyn, "Your phone just Droided you," alluding to the deep voiced "DROID" the phone makes when it needs to inform me that I have a text or an email from some place like "Mens Big and Tall." (No, I'm not tall.)
I had to change my notification sound to something besides Droid because I couldn't always hear it when a machine was running, so I experimented and settled on a tone with various tinkling sounds. The tone was titled "Fairy Dust." So, of course Marilyn will bring me my phone as she did just now and says, "Here, your phone just Fairy Dusted you." That better not have been a giggle I just heard as she walked away. It's also sort of embarrassing to be standing with a group of farmers at the elevator and have someone say with alarm, "What was that?" "Cliff, do you have Tinker Bell in your pocket." I tell them, "Look, at least I can hear it."
In my earliest recollections, I recall going with my parents who were born in 1905 and 1907 to visit some of their elderly friends. Otto and Lilly lived way back in the hills and were neighbors to my folks at one time. They fairly marveled at the new technology, just as I do today. Their new-fangled communication device hung on the wall and had a hand crank on the side. The crank was the "notification" device used to "Droid" the operator who may or may not be in bed depending on the time of day or night you lit her up.
The question is whether or not we're making progress. This coming from a guy who remembers a time when we all didn't need to carry a personal supply of high priced water with us at all times or a smart phone.
The progress is indeed questionable in societal terms. I now get phone calls from my sons at the Body Shop that goes like this. I say "Hello," and then a customer walks into their shop and the reply is, "I'll have to let you go Dad. I'll call you back." Calls like that are hard to explain to your wife. "That was Tom calling to say he doesn't have time to talk."
When I was a lad if someone was on the phone, it was important. "He'll be with you in a bit, he's on the phone, it's long distance." "Oh, long distance, I can come back another day."
Now everyone's on the phone, it's the reason we have nothing to talk about when we get home at night. "Yes dear, I know that, remember, you called me and you sent me a text about it."
This day is now complete; Marilyn just rushed out the door to go to work and texted me that she loves me. I was fairy dusted just as I heard the door slam shut.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Follow Up!

 Click On:
To watch the short video produced for and about my buddy Ralph by the Arbor Day Foundation.


Thursday, May 03, 2012

The News

On Thursday night last, we were blessed with a visit from Ralph and Char Campbell.
We went out to eat at a local eatery and the next day they traveled to Nebraska City where we caught up with them Saturday noon. It is the national headquarters for all things trees. The actual home of Arbor Lodge and a kind of sojourn every person in the forestry business wishes to make one day.
Ralph is recently retired from the Colorado Forest service after an illustrious career that found him eventually focusing on urban and community forestation.
A few months back we got word from Char that Ralph would be getting an award from the National Arbor Day Foundation at a ceremony and that we were going to be invited so please save the date.
That awards ceremony was Saturday night at the Arbor Lodge and Convention Center in the middle of an expansive display of trees that is home to the Arbor Lodge and Farm.
They do a good job of keeping this a special night for the award recipients. They give out about 15 national awards to big corporations, states, and a few special individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of tree planting and forestry. Ralph was one of those.
The reception was impressive enough and I was in awe of Ralph as he worked the room. He seemed to know almost everyone there by name and there was a lot of back slapping and congratulations to him by his colleagues.
The full scope of the importance of the award Ralph was about to get didn't hit me until the lights went down, the spot came up on John Rosenow the long term Chairman of the Arbor day foundation. He spoke briefly and presented the first award. The lights went down and a 3 minute video on the accomplishements of the  first recipient came up on the big screen. A slick presentation indeed and then they announced the man seated directly in front of Ralph. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. That right there got my attention. Ralph has hit the big time. Nothing changed my opinion of that as representatives from big corporations, cities, civic groups and a few individuals all received a nice video presentation and took thier moment in the lime light.
The program said:
Retired Urban Forester Ralph Campbell of Westminster, Colorado, will receive the Frederick Law Olmsted Award in recognition of his lifelong commitment to tree planting and conservation at the state level. A 35-year veteran of the Colorado Forest Service, Campbell was an active leader in urban forestry. He helped establish Colorado's Urban and Community Forestry program, and later helped develop the Colorado Tree Coalition, which has received 425 grants worth $650,000, and matched them with $7.5 million in community contributions. He has also sponsored seasonal tree planting for underprivileged youth in the Denver area. In 1995, Campbell was named an Outstanding Performer by the Colorado Forest Service, the highest possible honor.
Above is Ralph accepting the award on stage from the CEO of the Arbor Day Foundation. The below pic was taken after the banquet.
We were treated like royalty by the fondation simply by virtue of being in Ralph's party. The group below are all colleagues of his who took the time to travel from all parts of Colorado and Nebraska to pay tribute to Ralph.
Below is Ralph and Char in front of  Arbor Lodge originally owned by J. Sterling Morton. Following that was a picture taken immediately after the banquet in the lobby. We found this coffee bar with a big mirror and so the image is a kind of relection of the four of us.

                                                     Ralph, Cliff, Char, and Marilyn
We were glad to be included in this event. The two Campbells are kind of 'understated' folks but when pressed a bit by me, Char admitted, "Yeah, this is a pretty big deal." After seeing Ralph's peers at the awards ceremony, that being companies, Governors, States and Giant Corporations from all parts of the United States and around the world I could see this was the real thing and we were once again proud to say, "Yeah, we're with the Campbells."
I suspect the video they showed that night about Ralph's work will eventually be put up on Arbor Dar Foundations website and when it does, I'll let you know.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

News Flash

Man have I got some news for you.
But you'll have to wait. It's 10 PM I need to leave by 6 AM tomorrow and I won't get back until 0 Dark 30.
It'll take me about an hour to create it but you'll love it.  cm

Thursday, April 26, 2012


We're going to finish planting corn this morning. We started last Sunday. We averaged 120 acres a day which is good for this place as logistics is always a problem. 
On another subject, the First Lady was in Omaha this week. Just 50 miles away. This is the first visit to this state by a member of that family, maybe ever, or at best for a long time, and it was my first opportunity to ignore them. Which I did. I enjoyed doing it by the way.
For the record I wouldn't bother answering the door for them except to say "you must be lost, the last 3/4 of a mile  you traveled is private property so get all those big cars back up to the main road and don't go so fast you throw my rock in the ditch."
My name is Cliff Morrow and I approved this message.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday, April 07, 2012

It's Strawberry Time

It's strawberry time again and I'm going to share my wife's recipe for shortcake. No matter who you are, you will have your guests bowing down or possibly falling to their knees in praise and thanking you for making this for them.  I suppose you might think 'What would a farmer know about cooking?"
Then I ask "Have you ever seen a picture of me?" Of course I'm an expert on food, and this is the best shortcake recipe in existence. The only thing is, the instructions say to use1/2 cup sugar and another 1/4 cup on top before placing in oven.. Believe me, if you forget to sprinkle that 1/4 cup sugar, on top of the batter, then you will turn it into every other shortcake. Remember 1/2 cup in batter, 1/4 cup on top. Here it is.
1/2 C. butter or margarine, softened
2     tsp. baking powder
1/4  tsp. salt
1/2  C Milk
1/2  C Sugar (in batter)
1/4  C reserved for top
1 C. Flour
1      Egg
Lightly mix all ingredients; pour the thick batter into a 8 X 12 pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar; bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until brown. Serve with fresh strawberries and cream.
This is also really good any time of year with frozen strawberries from the store.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dishwasher Test

I can now tell you with certainty that not every plate, glass, dish, knife, fork, spoon, paring knife, salad bowl and coffee cup can fit in our diswasher. We tried. I had to run the diswasher to have a salad fork to roll link sausage around in the frying pan and to eat with.
All the stuff will however all fit in the dishwasher and one side of the sink.
I think the next step might be paper plates and bowls and sporks from KFC.
Just last week Marilyn agreed with me that we're too old to be living by ourselves.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Man Overboard

After a near historically warm winter, we had 7 or 8 inches of incredibly wet snow in early February followed by some fairly light but pesky sprinkles and light snow events. The bigger snow was so wet it would not feed into my 9-foot snow blower. The big augers just rolled up with snow and looked like two large paper towels turning my blower into a rear mount dozer.
We had to just let it melt. It caused quite a mess and we've been dealing with mud for almost a month now. It's been a bad time to need to haul corn the 7 miles to the nearest hard surfaced road. It's not the first mud we've dealt with. This has been a setup for one of the stories that gets rerun about every five years at a Morrow family get together.
It began in the early spring thaw of 1965. Dad, with the help of us boys, would line the north side of the feedlot with a long and high stack of small square alfalfa hay bales. That side of the feedlot was lined with a hay feeding rack made of creosoted posts and planks. We fed hay all winter from the pile and by the time it was about gone we were no longer in need of the wind break the hay provided.
The spring in question was the end of a long winter with heavy snow. The cattle had trampled hay and snow and manure into a hard deep mixture by the hay rack and were in danger at one point of walking over the top. As it melted, the mixture turned into a 'belly deep to a steer' kind of watery oatmeal type mixture. It seemed naturally carbonated and it was about two and a half feet deep. It actually had a base because the bottom wasn't completely thawed yet.
That base was fortunate because the cattle had run out of hay and the mud on the north side of the rack was so deep and gooey, we couldn't haul hay bales in the normal route.
Dad had the solution. We loaded one of our old barge box grain wagons with hay bales. Two layers of bales were squeezed in and filled the wagon to the top of the box sides and then we could hang two more tiers over the edges of the wagon above that. He hooked our 4020 to the wagon because of its wide front and besides it was tall enough to drive in the feed lot with the oatmeal mixture. I would throw the hay bales over the fence into the hay rack while Dad drove along slowly through the slop.
The mix was deep, nearly up to the tractor's oil pan. The wagon axle, wheels and tongue were all under the mud. I successfully threw off the top two tiers of bales across the fence into the feed area, but the first bale inside the box sides didn't want to come out. I had wedged them in and had stomped on them to make them go all the way in. I had him stop the tractor while I struggled to get the bale in the center of the load pulled up and out. My bale hook kept pulling hay loose but the bale itself just stayed in its place.
I took one more hard swing at the bale, burying my hook deep into the middle and with my feet firmly planted I jerked with my legs and the bale came loose. Easily. It popped out of the hole and nearly hit me in the face. I lost my balance and fell backward over the side of the wagon. I firmly hugged the hay bale to my chest as though hugging it would somehow keep me suspended above the cesspool awaiting me.
It was in slow motion from my perspective. I anticipated having the wind knocked out of me. I was prepared to get hurt. Maybe a rescue squad call in the middle of two to three feet of manure would be necessary. I landed on my back with the bale on my chest. It didn't hurt; it was like landing in deep cotton balls.
After realizing I was alive my next concern should have been drowning. The only part of body above wellÉ let's say water, was my head but only from my ears to my chin on up. The bale was sitting on my chest and I was surrounded by 1,000-pound steers trying to lick at me and the bale.
I then realized that Dad was probably worried sick about me. I shoved the bale to the side and took the wire off of the bale so the cattle could eat what parts of the bale didn't sink and then I looked up at Dad. It had bothered him worse than I thought. He was having some kind of convulsions. He had his face buried in his arm which was resting on the fender. He was really shaking, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and put his head back on his arm and shook some more. It almost had the appearance of laughter but he wouldn't do that.
Would he?
Over the years he started to retell that story many times at family gatherings and each time he 'broke up again' and then would look at me and say "You tell it," and then he'd flop his head into his arm lying on the table and begin to shake again. I guess it really was a pretty rough experience for the old guy

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Old Pictures With New Captions

It looks like they're saying...
Marilyn: "Ralph, say that again and that'll be the last French you'll ever dip."
 Ralph: "What'd I say."            Me: "Uh...leave me outta this."
What's really going on??... Ralph and I are making beef sandwiches with Au Jus for my Mother In-law's 90th Birthday here in Tekamah.  Ralph and Char, even though unrelated to us, are present for every big family event the Morrow's have which is why they were officially voted into the Morrow Clan at a Morrow Family reunion.
Ralph and I were in charge of the beef sandwiches that day and Ralph had to take over for a while after I tested the knife's sharpness on myself. Turns out the beef was medium rare and I was raw.
Marilyn was just telling Ralph his shirt was out of focus. Or something like that.
OR, write your own caption.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age.  Sometimes age shows up all by itself.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I've Come To The Sobering Realization...

That the grey may not be premature.

Monday, February 27, 2012

First Floor

We had a regionally famous hardware store in our town when I was a lad. Jack Bros. was famous not for its large and spacious display areas but for the fact that it was a long and narrow store that held, well, everything a hardware store should hold. Their advertising slogan could have been 'Jack Bros., if we don't have it, you don't need it.' The ceilings were high, and shelving and merchandise went to the top on both sides. Display cases lined the trail down through the middle of the store and they served both the need for display and as a base for more goods.
Leroy Jack ran the store and knew where everything was. Most home town folks knew better than to look for something. You likely couldn't find it on your own. You were better off to just visit with those around you and wait your turn for Leroy to smile and ask if he could help you. He had a way of focusing on just the one customer he was assisting at the time.
You might ask for a battery powered electric fencer and then you'd follow him thru the store until he took a left turn and then a right and reached into the shelf under a cabinet. "What else can I help you with" as he handed you the fencer. If you needed the battery that went with it you might follow him somewhere else. He had a rope operated elevator in the middle of the store. He might have to go upstairs to retrieve the items you had asked for and you would watch as he ascended into the ceiling to return in a bit with your request.
I'm not sure how the rope worked. It looped down from above and he pulled one side of the loop to go up and the other side to come back down. It was a one handed operation using long strides with that one hand while the other hand held the merchandise. I thought it was magic at the time.
I don't remember if he ran charge accounts for customers. Whether he did or didn't makes no difference. You didn't need to charge because he had counter checks. This would be a concept hard to explain to the current day financier.
Most businesses had pads of blank checks sitting on the counter from area banks. I recall Leroy having checks proudly displayed from each of the banks in the region, even the counties surrounding Burt County.
If he knew you well enough he would automatically grab the pad from your bank, scribble in the amount, and all you had to do was fill in your account number and sign your name. I can still recall all of those blank checks on display, several rows of them, all from different banks.
If a customer said he needed to write a check Leroy would respond with, "What flavor?" meaning which bank shall we use. He told me once that he had asked a stranger from a neighboring town which bank he used and the man became indignant. "Young man, it doesn't matter which bank you choose, I have money in all of them."
I even remember being at the feeder auction at the Omaha Stockyards and having the clerk at the commission company pull out a pad of checks from our bank back home for my father to use to buy two semi loads of calves.
The problem with all of this was obvious and the county courts eventually began to fill with folks who had written 'No Account' checks to local businesses.
It was customary to write the checks for a few dollars more than the purchase and thereby use the local merchants as banks. Customers would go next door and eat hot beef sandwiches at the City Cafe using Leroy's cash.
The difficulty with that was if the person wrote a bad check and you gave him the merchandise and the extra cash, it was like paying someone to rob your store and go out to dinner.
Eventually the counter checks faded to under the counter for a few years and then the banks began to refuse them all together. Checks, after all, are and were no more than one man's word that he would or will be good for the money. I'm sure that if you were a businessman or a banker during that time, the changeover to personalized checks didn't come soon enough.
Today's methods are fairly secure with credit and ATM cards. They won't let you spend what you don't have. They also sometimes won't let you spend what you do have. I needed to say to my ATM card company recently, "Uh, my ATM card was just refused. Why?" My next answer, "I know I bought pressure washer parts in Omaha last week." Me again, "I know I've never done that before but my pressure washer has never had a problem before. Yeah, it was me who used the card and, by the way, thanks for turning the card back on."
Dealing with Leroy was easier and besides, he had that neat elevator.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Enough Already

The words, "It's time for ALL Americans to begin paying their fair share" said in the most condescending tone imaginable, is meant to stir the Presidents political base.  It's to inspire those who don't pay any taxes, to keep voting for someone else to pay their fair share.
Recent numbers indicate that we are now up to over 49% of us who pay no federal income tax.
I would prefer that the president would just say it like it is. "I'll make sure that just a few folks will continue paying for everything and the rest of you can sit back, receive, and vote for me."
Then he could say, "I know that tax receipts aren't actually the problem but that spending IS the problem, but cutting entitlements would lose us votes so lets not go there."
One more thing, cutting the Payroll tax was the most ignorant move possible and points out the stupidity of everyone who voted for it. Yes it gave the employee 2% more to add to his paycheck but it took away nearly 14% of the available funding to Social Security, a fund that was already in trouble. Again this was done to buy votes.  Until Americans become educated enough to see through the fog and realize it's the spending, there is little hope.
Timmy 'Turbo Tax' Gietner said "Without more income, we'll be required to make uncomfortable cuts in spending." That proves they know what's right, they just don't have the guts to  do anything about it.
I can't wait for the change. In November. I hope we still have country by then.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


We've had Skype for some time. I use it once in a while with Ralph but not often. As a matter of fact about two months ago while I was experiencing computer trouble I had disabled it and anything else that wasn't necessary to the primary uses of my computer. An example would be bookeeping for our businesses and my writing and of course blogging.
Two evenings ago our son Dan called and said he had a new laptop with a built in camera and had set up Skype and kids wanted to talk to Grandma and Grandpa. I reactivated Skype as we talked and then he hung up and within seconds we had a call from him.

We were filled with a sort of deep satisfaction that even though we are 90 miles away from these 4 little girls and their parents we could, at a moments notice connect with them with both audio and visual. Our giddyiness was short lived  however as Dan and two of the girls sat in front of the screen and the kindergartner (the one on the right above) quietly asked her Dad after a good 2 minutes of converstation with us, "Dad, can we call someone else?"

Sunday, February 12, 2012


In Sunday School this morning we were studying in the book of Daniel and our teacher wanted someone to define the difference between the words 'To Know' and "To Understand."
A moment passed and I raised my hand and said, "I think most men 'know' their wives..."
I didn't get the chance to finish but I think I know why she avoids calling on me. I'm the little Billy in the back row.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

It's Snowing Here & Two Views From The Porch

Everyone in these here parts have been readying themselves for a major snow storm. We won't be inundated as Ralph has been for the past few days but it will be bad enough. It does take me back to the stories I've read about the historic blizzards in our nations past and I'm always impressed by the pioneering spirit that storms brings out in the individual and me for that matter. This storm is no different. You prepare as best you can and then wait to see what problems come your way.
I have my new generator ready to power up and hook to the household current should necessity require, the 24" snowblower is by the sidewalk and ready and my big tractor has the 9' blower mounted, plugged in and ready. Turns out I hadn't planned on everything that could go wrong but I was able to persevere. The Directv Satellite dish became covered with so much snow it quit working but I sent Marilyn out with a broom to clear it. If you keep a clear head there's no major problem a guy can't think his way through in times like these.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Don't Look Out The Window

Before we get into this post, the title deserves some comment. 'Out of the Window' seems more correct but I've also read you should finish your piece and go back and just remove every 'Of' in the post because it's not correct. Let me know in your comments. We'll expect Paul to be the expert on this.  cm
I started the day by watching a short 30-minute movie about a man who moved to a rural New England community. He was wealthy, unattached and wanted to start a career as a writer. Everything was perfect in his life because he had removed his worries, had no remaining obligations, and by anyone's standards, he "had it made."
He sat down at the keyboard with a cup of coffee, looked out his window at an amazing landscape, cracked his knuckles, put his hands on the keyboard and then it happened, writer's block. He had to pull his hands back to his chest, sat back and stared out the window.
I got to thinking, "This is a really stupid movie for someone to be watching who needs to sit down and write a column."
All was not lost however; the man became involved in his community and got to know a few folks quite well. A few of his new-found friends had some real problems and he helped to resolve them. Unlike real life, it all got wrapped up in a neat package and delivered to the viewer to make them feel giddy about life.
I came upstairs, grabbed a glass of ice tea, sat down to my keyboard and then looked out my window. All I saw was grain bins and a landscape of brown and a sky of icy grey. My mind went to "scan mode," as my kids like to reference that state of my mind when I have about 10 different thought processes going at once.
This is a good example of it. I began wondering about the condition of the grain in those bins, has it changed in the last 10 days, how much lower can the market go, is it low enough yet for me to start selling? If I decide to sell, did I fix that hydraulic leak on the grain vac, and I hope it doesn't get too cold because I think my semi tractor still has No. 2 diesel in it. Oh yeah, the 4630 still has No. 2 in it also and I'll need that tractor to run my vac but I better first put the pto shaft on the new generator I just purchased. And so it goes.
The movie I had been watching reminded me of one of the movies that would get my wife's attention. Marilyn can get hooked pretty easily by movies. I'm not sure what it is that grabs her attention but it happens quickly. She's always been a really busy person who is perpetually "on a mission" but if she walks through a room with a TV playing a movie with, oh, I don't know, the right actor, or music playing, or theme or I don't exactly know what it is, she will stop in her tracks, watch for a moment and like a hungry bass looking at a doll fly, the film reels her in. She isn't just hooked, she swallows the hook.
We're now just past the holidays but she really likes the Hallmark channel especially at night when it gets close to Christmas. I can't seem to get into those kinds of movies because there aren't any cops arresting suspects with blurry faces in them. Yeah, when there are no football games, I'll watch the bad boys get arrested on Cops. I catch a certain amount of guff from the fairer sex here in the house for doing that.
But her films are a bit too predictable for me. I walked in one night near Christmas and found Marilyn watching a Hallmark film about a young doctor who had lost his wife to cancer just a few years prior. He had hired a live-in nanny and the doctor's little girls adored her. She was like a mother to the kids, was a gourmet chef, had rebuilt and painted the doctor's classic car sitting in the garage and she was about 6 foot tall and very attractive and she obviously adored the doctor as well.
I watched for about 30 seconds and said, "Let me guess, the doc hasn't noticed the good looking blond who can cook, sew, mother little girls and clean carburetors."
"Nope, not yet, but don't change the channel I'm going to watch this." Well, I sat down and as I predicted the doctor fell in love with his nanny at the end of the movie. I think it was the six layers of clear coat she put on the finish on the old Ford that finally got to him.
Well now, we're back to real life and must make it up as we go. It's January in Nebraska. Just don't look out the window.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

That Giant Sucking Sound

It's my understanding that if the President got his way with taxes, the additional inflows would run the government 47 hours at our current rate of spending. Yet that is the all he cares to talk about, well that and class warfare.
The Republicans should go along with him on the taxes and then stand with their hands on their hips and say, "Okay, now what?" "What about the other 363 days, can we stop giving out entitlement funds now? Then yelling they should say, "IT'S THE SPENDING, DUH!"
The money he wants to tax at a higher rate has already been taxed over and over. But taxing and taxing again is how casinos make their money. They return 93-95% of every dollar bet but when you run the winnings through again and again, you eventually lose it all.
A federal government that vacuums up all of the capital from the private sector and uses it to buy votes with the use of entitlement and union payouts is not long for this world.
I hope in tonight's State of the Union address he lets us know which country we will fall to so we know which language we should begin learning. How much are those Rosetta Stone Cd's anyway? Do they have Russian?
The great part of having satellite TV is that we won't have to watch our leader put his nose in the air and stare into the distance.
Pawn Stars is on the History Channel tonight. Some good news after all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Chili Bowl

It's New Year's Eve and the visions of sugarplums have quit dancing and are sitting on a chair and rubbing their little plum feet. Replacing them in my head are the memories of past New Year's Days. Here on this farm New Years Day has traditionally been a day of football. Years ago, I was the last of seven children still at home so Mom and I would take our Christmas decorations down, sometimes we'd accidentally tip the long-needled ponderosa pine tree over on Dad's bald head while he sat in his old rocker, then we'd finally throw the tree out the door, and put a big pot of chili on the stove. We'd sprinkle the soup with cheese and oyster crackers and then crunch down some of Mom's homemade dill pickles.
We'd spend the day watching the Sugar, Cotton, Rose and then the Orange Bowl. Nebraska would sometimes play in one of those. I recall well the battles with Alabama and the likes and once we even had to play Oklahoma for the second time in the same season in the Orange Bowl. The bowl games really defined my New Year's Day. The buildup to the bowl games was always a month long parade of emotions reported from both football camps and Mom and Dad's house became a huge game watching party for the family.
There were just three main channels and Dad had all of the times and games memorized. The Rose Bowl was just finishing up when the Orange Bowl began from Florida. It was an easy pattern that was followed year after year. There was not a plethora of bowls to confuse us unlike what we have now. There have always been some lesser bowls like the Liberty and the Sun and the Bluebonnet but nothing like today's BCS offerings.
Currently, every town with a corporate sponsor and an empty stadium can host a bowl game. Case in point is Charlotte, N.C., hosted the "Belk Bowl," featuring Louisville and North Carolina State. Not knowing what a "Belk" is and whether I might want to someday eat one or possible have an operation to have mine removed, I watched part of the game. No, I still don't know what a "Belk" is, but I've for sure decided to keep mine.
Dallas hosted the "TicketCity Bowl." I understand that one because I got a ticket there once. The "Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl" in San Francisco was a catchy title and Kraft does sell food products, so maybe that's what that means. In St. Petersburg, Fla., the locals hosted the "Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl" which I'm guessing is some kind of corned beef product for St. Patty's Day.
By the time this goes to print Nebraska will have played in the "Capital One Bowl" in Orlando on Jan. 2. There will be no college football games on our "pot 'o' chili day," Jan. 1, because the day was reserved for NFL games. Well you're thinking that by Jan. 2 Nebraska must be one of the last games. The short answer would be "No." There were nine bowl games after that including the "BBVA Compass Bowl" and the long awaited " Bowl." By the way, if your husband was watching the latter, it probably wasn't because he follows Northern Illinois with a passion, it's because he follows GoDaddy.Com commercials with a passion.
This is beginning to look like some kind of new entitlement program they're trying to implement. Everyone is equal and gets a bowl game whether they deserve it or not. It appears to be a way to keep the lesser teams "needy" by keeping them practicing in December for an extra game instead of letting their athletes study and the coaching staffs hit the road recruiting and thereby improving their chances of getting to a bowl game the following year that happens to have just one name.
In the future they should consider combining some bowls to fix problems. If the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl would team up with the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, the Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, they'd have their answer to hunger. How about combining the BBVA Compass, Belk, and Meineke Car Care Bowl into one called, "I Actually Have No Idea Who the Sponsor Is Bowl."
We may have taken our eye off of the goal of a diversion for students on their way to obtain a higher education, yes, a preparation for life and raising the collective bar for society has turned into who will put the most money into the coffers of the NCAA and the universities.
We need to get back to the basics. For me it begins with "Take one tablespoon of chili powder" ...

Monday, January 09, 2012

I Was Quoted...

In this article on the website of the Kansas City Star.  They failed to mention the words  I said when my teeth were clenched.