Sunday, December 28, 2008

Digging Out

It seems I get behind around here with a lot of projects that need to be done. The big green house doesn't have a lot of slope to it. It has a fairly flat roof so the snow doesn't readily slide off. I have to use our roof rake to get it cleaned up good.

The thing with hoop houses is the snow builds up along the sides and you have to move it away or the snow will damage the side walls. I have managed to get the south side of the green house cleared but haven't had the time to get around to the north side. After the last snows it had built up to a foot or more on top of the north side so we had quite a pile over there.

Here's some pictures of me using my John Deere tractor and snow blower digging out.

In this first picture you see the front of the green house with the John Deere peaking out from behind.

These next two pictures are what it looked like from behind were I started the clean out.

Here's a video of me operating the snow blower. Kelli caught me grinding the gears here at the beginning, oops!

My dad is home now and on the road to recovery from his heart surgery. We're all praising the Lord that all went well!
Until Next Time

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Food co-op hit by SWAT raid fights back

Food co-op hit by SWAT raid fights back'Government basically engaged in intimidation'
Posted: December 24, 20088:21 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh© 2008 WorldNetDaily

A LaGrange, Ohio, family whose food co-op connecting local consumers with local farmers was raided by sheriff's deputies is fighting back with the help of two organizations aimed at protecting the basic rights of Americans.
"We hope that the Lorrain County Court of Common Pleas recognizes that government is overreaching in this case and is basically engaged in intimidation tactics to frighten people into believing that they cannot provide food for themselves," said Pete Kennedy, a spokesman for the
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

Click here for the full story

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Success

My dad had his heart surgery yesterday morning and all went well. They replaced his aortic valve with a pig valve. Also he had atrial fibrillation and the doctors took steps to correct that. His valve was badly calcified. There was concern that as they removed the plaque build up that some could escape and cause a stroke. But, the operation was a success and he is now on the road to recovery.

Kelli and our kids and my mom all went with down with him to a hospital 70 miles from here. I had to stay back to hold down the fort and to take care of business. I hope to go down there tomorrow morning to see him but, there is a possibility that he may come home tomorrow. If he does then I'll just bring him home I imagine.

My family said he looks remarkably well today just 24 hours after the surgery. It doesn't surprise me because my dad has always been as strong as a horse. I can count on one hand the time he ever missed work from being sick. The reason his valve was bad was because of rheumatic fever he had as a kid. His arteries were all clear. My dad will be 68 years old in a few days. I imagine that when he gets back on his feet he will feel like a new man. That valve has been slowing him down for a awhile now.

We have much to be thankful for this Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Maker of 'Bush shoe' helps Turkey's trade balance

Apparently the type of shoe that was thrown at President Bush is becoming a sought after item in the Middle East, especially in Iraq. Here's the closing statements in an article about it that I thought was kind of funny.

Throwing a shoe at someone is a gross insult in Arab countries, and Bush is widely unpopular in much of the region. But as he enters his last weeks in office, he seems to have gained a small foothold of appreciation here.
Noting the spike in sales, Serkan Turk, Baydan's general manager, said, "Bush served some good purpose to the economy before he left."

Click here for the whole story.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Barn Yard Theology

I never would have known that a person can learn some things about life by observing a simple barn yard, if we wouldn’t have moved to the country and started raising animals for ourselves. Not long after we moved here I noticed that every kind of critter has a pecking order and not just birds.

Every kind of animal has a boss or bosses who dominates the herd or flock. And if you have more than a few it is even more apparent. The top dog bosses everyone, the second most bossy dominates the rest and the third in line bosses who ever is left. It goes on down the chain of command. The last on the totem pole, the smallest or weakest, is left out in the cold, hungry and alone, until everyone has gotten their fill. The left-overs are all they can expect.

To me there was a striking similarity between the pecking order in a barn yard and that of the lives of human beings. Especially in the world of politics, be it of the governmental variety or in the work place. It’s a dog eat dog world out there. It’s one person stabbing the other person in the back in order to get ahead. It’s the back biting and gossiping that is associated with life in the “Big City“. Not that the country is exempt from all that. When I say “Big City” I simply mean it metaphorically. It’s a brutal world out there, just like in a barn yard.

Here we are on the heals of the recent presidential elections. It is fresh in all our minds. We can readily recall the boastful promises and scathing accusations that come with competing for the top spots. Or look at the social order in any organized establishment, a business or corporation. Perhaps an educational institution or hospital. It is very easy to see people bossing one another with so many working hard to get ahead climbing that corporate ladder. The cream rises to the top you might say. The smartest, the quick witted, those who speak most eloquently, the controlling. Controlling people usually get ahead where ever they are.

I don’t mean to diminish the merit of those hard working honest folks, who by virtue of an excellent work ethic earn their way to the top. Those kind of people seem few and far between but, they are out there. My point is about what we see most often out there in the worldly system. The ones who live by the motto, “those who die with the most toys win”. But, then again there is the rebuttal to that phrase, “those who die with the most toys still die”. Death is the great equalizer.

If you take a look at a flock of chickens you see a brutal hierarchy. A peck and squawk hierarchy. One chicken will get after another one and the one who got beat up will squawk and carry on like there’s no tomorrow. And you know something, I know people who, when they get all upset about something, sound just like a chicken. It’s kind of funny actually. I think to myself, “man that person sounds exactly like a chicken”. Squawk, squawk, squawk! Squawk, squawk, squawk!

When you look at animals all they care about is themselves and what ever it is they crave. They are ruled by their cravings and their own self comfort. They care nothing for any other living creature. It’s all about them. Sure most of them like to hang out together. Birds of a feather all flock together is a true saying. But, I think that has more to do with self preservation than anything else. It’s all about satisfying whatever craving they have at the moment. If they’re hungry, they look for something to eat. If they’re cold they look for warmth. If they’re hot they look to get cool. If they feel the need to procreate, they try to find a mate.(I tried to put that one as delicately as I could) But, you get the idea. If it feels good do it! That’s the way of life in the animal kingdom. That’s the law of the jungle.

So I see a similarity between animals and people, they both behave in much the same way. And I would go as far as to say that when people behave badly they are behaving exactly like animals. When people fight and carry on they’re acting no different than a chicken in a hen house.

As I sit and ponder the brutal life in the barnyard, that dog eat dog world that seems eerily familiar, kind of like the worldly system, I think about how when Jesus gets a hold of a persons life, they change. They become softer and more giving. More for-giving. Their priorities seem to get turned upside down. Instead of life revolving around themselves they start thinking of other people and put others first. They learn how to love.

If you look at the teachings of Christ you find things like, “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” or “the first shall be last and the last shall be first”. Gods Kingdom is not a survival of the fittest like we see in the natural world. Jesus teaches that instead of repaying evil for evil we should do good to our enemies. This is polar opposite to the worldly system. Also, God opposes the proud. This too stands in contrast to the way of the world where it takes self promotion to be noticed in virtually every endeavor.

I believe that when Jesus comes back there will be peace in the barn yards. No longer will the animals compete for whatever it is they need or want, with the strong pushing out the weak. Animals will no longer eat each other as we see the in these old testament prophecies: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them . Isaiah 11:6 or The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain," says the LORD. Isaiah 65:25 The lion will eat straw like the ox, it says in the King James version.

Things will go back to the way they were in the Garden of Eden. What we see currently in the world with all it’s brutality will pass away and the Prince of Peace will reign the world over. Oh, what a day that will be.

Until Next Time

Monday, December 15, 2008

If The Shoe Fits

I'm sure most people have heard about the Iraqi reporter that threw his shoes at President Bush. I must say that I was rather amused and quite surprised that the fellow was able to throw not one, but two shoes at him. I watched the video and was impressed with the guys accuracy, whipping off two quick shots like that. If W hadn't been looking in the mans direction he'd have taken it smack dab in the head or face. He's fortunate it was only shoe's being thrown and not a hand grenade. Where was the Secret Service? Getting a little slack as the term is ending?

While I was doing my route today I tuned into public radio and heard that this event was the hot topic. George Bush must be one of the, if not the most disliked presidents in U.S. history.

When I got in from working tonight I looked to see what
the big news headlines were for today and I saw this picture at the top of the Drudge Report with an accompanying article. The article was titled Shoe insult against Bush resounds in Arab world.

Check out the shoe raised high on the stick! Something about it strikes me as humorous. Maybe I just have a weird sense of humor.

I never knew that throwing a shoe at someone in the Arab world was a big insult. But, I do remember seeing the images of Iraqis striking the fallen statue of Saddam with their shoes. Now I understand the significance.

I think most of us can understand the Arab worlds anger and dislike of Bush. Regardless of anyone's opinion as to whether the war was right or wrong I think most people agree, enough is enough. This thing has dragged out way too long.

I tell my kids that this is their generations Vietnam. Just like then, not much makes sense. Why can't America seem to win these wars? For one thing, it seems the armed forces are not allowed to win. Just like 40 years ago there is some kind of hidden agenda that none of us knows about. Everyone speculates as to what's going on. Some say "oh, it's all about the oil". Some say it's about spreading democracy. It sure wasn't about WMD's, right? They were there, right? Sure as anything. That's why our military invaded. To go get all those WMD's. "Oops" they say. Bad intel. Guess they weren't there after all. Well at least they got Saddam. At least they succeeded in that, after all, Osama is still hiding in a cave some place.

Well I'm getting pretty facetious here. I started out getting a chuckle about the whole shoe thing and wound up irritating myself about the lying politicians who run our country.

Most people have probably watched the shoe throwing thing dozens of times on T.V. by now. I hardly ever watch T.V. news anymore. We only get two or three stations on our T.V. and I won't pay to get satellite. I've never had any interest in either satellite or cable. I'm just too cheap I guess. Can't stand the idea of paying a monthly fee to watch television, never could. After we got high speed Internet I started watching news highlights on the web. I actually like that alot better because I can pick and choose which news segments I want to see.

Now on a more serious note. My Dad had his procedure done this morning and was back home by early evening. The doctors are recommending heart surgery ASAP. That valve is getting pretty bad. Plus he has a couple other problems that will require a full open heart operation. His arteries looked good however and his heart is in really good condition otherwise. He's in good shape. It's all the physical labor he does even in his retirement. I don't know anyone who works more than my Dad. They're looking at doing the surgery a week from tomorrow.

Well we are currently experiencing a deep freeze. This morning wind chills were supposed to be between 2o and 30 below zero and the same is expected for tonight. The temperature is expected to reach minus 16 degrees. Seems mighty cold for December. I don't believe it's ever been that cold in December since we've lived here. I remember two Decembers where at the beginning of the month it got up to 60 degrees in the day time. That happened within the first few years we were here. We were shocked about it because we expecting weather more like we are experiencing right now. However I think this is more like how things used to be. I believe Kelli's uncle would call this an "old fashion" winter.

It didn't get much over zero today but, the sun came out and it was over 40 degrees in the green house. I'm very impressed with how moderate the temperatures have been in there. Yesterday I pulled some carrots that we hadn't gotten around to harvesting yet out of some of the raised beds. They're still in perfect condition. We could still be eating out of there right now if we wanted to be. In time I'm sure we'll get around to doing more winter harvesting. The carrots weren't actually planned out that way. It was just laziness on our parts and it so happens that they're doing great! Experience is the best teacher.

Until Next Time

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Country Christmas

There's nothing like Christmas time in the country. I can't imagine a better place to celebrate the birth of Christ.

This morning the house is full of Christmas music and the smell of a fine country breakfast cooking on the stove. Well, this time of the morning it'll be brunch. But, a country breakfast is great any time of the day.

Our household is certainly in the Christmas mood this morning as we're getting a wintery blast of mixed snow and rain and we aren't going any place today. We have a fresh cut Christmas tree sitting in the living room ready for decoration. Friends and neighbors of ours, John and Scarlet, graciously gave us one of their trees from their plantation. It's a perfect tree. They really know how to shape their trees, they're works of art really. You can tell a labor of love went into it.

Other friends of ours
John and Marge recently started a new adventure. They opened up a re-sale shop in Rhinelander called the Share Store. Part of the profits will go to area causes like the Rhinelander Food Pantry, the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign and the Rhinelander Animal Shelter. We're really glad for them since it's been a long time coming, it's been kind of in the talking stages for several years. And now finally the Lord has opened the doors for it all to become a reality with a perfect location on a busy corner. We keep hearing lots of positive comments coming from people regarding the store. Seems it's a great time for a place like that to open up in these uncertain financial times where people are tightening their belts and being more frugal. Also for those who have plenty it's a great place in these times to donate unwanted items.

Tomorrow morning my Mom and Dad will be traveling down to Wausau so that my Dad can have a procedure done. A preliminary inspection of his arteries before he has heart surgery. They'll be going into his arteries with a scope to see if there any blockages that they would take care of during surgery if there are any. Plus I think they'll be taking a look at the bad valve as well, but I'm not positive about that. I'll have to find out from my folks later when I go over to see them. Again if you would pray for my Dad tomorrow it would be appreciated, plus for their safety on the highway since the snowey wet weather is supposed to continue throughout the night into Monday morning. And it's a 7o mile drive down there.

I've been tinkering around with our daughters acoustic guitar lately and the ends of my fingers are numb. It feels funny typing on the keyboard here. I suppose they'll get toughened up if I keep at it, though I don't know if the numbness will ever go away.

Well, better sign off here so that I can go enjoy that hearty country breakfast with my family.

Until Next Time

Sunday, December 07, 2008

24 Years

Tomorrow Kelli and I will have been married 24 years. Doesn't seem possible. We went out for a nice dinner earlier tonight to celebrate. We ate at a restaurant located in a historic 100 year old log building over looking the Eagle River. Our kind of place.

This morning I asked her if 24 years ago she'd ever imagined living on a farm in northern Wisconsin with 3 grown kids. Of course she hadn't and neither had I for that matter, but it was the best thing we ever did.

I probably never would have moved up here if it wasn't for her but, I'm sure I'd be out in the country someplace. Kelli's family originally came from northern WI, 100 miles west of where we are here. I'm blessed with a wife who loves and appreciates country life just as much as I do.

We spent alot of our early marriage driving around scouting around for land. We took alot of day trips and mini vacations with the sole purpose of finding land during those early years. Back then I was still into motorcycles and dreamed of one day having my own moto-cross track. But, it's funny how our lives change and what was once a major interest can fade over time. For me I think motorcycles and racing became an idol, that's why the Lord in His sovereignty and wisdom arranged for it to no longer be a part of my life.

Anything in our lives can become idols though and take preeminence over our relationship with the Lord. Even country living can hold too high of a place in our hearts if we're not careful. So I try to keep things in their proper perspective. I try not to think too highly of any material thing, be it land or animals or gardens or what have you. I don't want any thing on this earth to come between me and my relationship with God.

Cold weather seems to have come early this year. We've gotten several inches of snow this evening and the temperatures have been quite cold. Tonight on our way home from the restaurant it was slow going as the roads were snow covered and pretty slippery. The snow was mesmerizing as we drove into the heavily falling stuff. Last night it was supposed to be around 5 below zero, though I don't know if it actually got that low or not.

Last week we moved our remaining meat chickens to the green house and are using them to clean up the garden beds. We're finishing them in there. If I can help it, I'll never raise chickens this late in the year again. The main reason is it seems it's taking alot more feed to grow them in the cold. They must be burning off alot of calories just keeping warm.

We set up our butchering operation in the green house yesterday and I butchered up half dozen large broilers. Even though it was cloudy and cold it wasn't too bad in there since it was all out of the wind. I had two pots of hot water going, one for clean up and the other for dunking chickens. The heat from it actually made the frozen water droplets that were stuck to the plastic overhead start thawing out and at one point it seemed as if it was raining in there.

It is still an awesome thing going in the green house. Everything is still green in there, quite a contrast to the snowy frozen world outside.

We buried an old refrigerator in there as a mini root cellar. So far it is working well. In it we have potatoes, beets, carrots, rutabagas and parsnips. We learned about using old refrigerators or freezers from a book we have called Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables . And in our business we come across those fairly often. At some point I might install a vent pipe because we noticed a little mold on a couple of the beets.

I'm sure glad to see fuel prices dropping but, it's hard to get too excited as everything still seems to be on the edge of collapse. People are breathing a sigh of relief over the drop in fuel prices but, I'm afraid it's too soon to celebrate. Better to keep a wary eye on everything.

Scrap metal prices and recyclables have dropped like a rock as well. So the costs at the landfill we use are going up. Just when I was thinking we might lower our prices other expenses are going up so we're just going to sit on it and wait to see what happens. That's all any of us can do, just wait to see what happens.

Well, I'd better sign off. It looks like tomorrow is going to be a tough day slipping around in the snow, so I'm going to have to get an early start.

Until Next Time

Friday, December 05, 2008

Proposed fee on smelly cows, hogs angers farmers

By BOB JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer Bob Johnson, Associated Press Writer – Fri Dec 5, 4:43 am ET

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – For farmers, this stinks: Belching and gaseous cows and hogs could start costing them money if a federal proposal to charge fees for air-polluting animals becomes law.
Farmers so far are turning their noses up at the notion, which is one of several put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases emitted by belching and flatulence amounts to air pollution.
"This is one of the most ridiculous things the federal government has tried to do," said Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, an outspoken opponent of the proposal.

CLICK here for the rest of the story

I've been catching little snippets about this ridiculous proposal for a couple weeks now. I saw one comment regarding this that suggested they put a tax on all the hot air these law makers produce as well. Great idea, that would be a perfect place to start!

This proposal should win some kind of "STUPID" award or something.