Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
Maybe I’m a little tweaky, well y’all know I am…so… OK, I’ll admit that when I meet certain people red flags go off in my head. I know it’s totally prejudicial and I know I shouldn’t do it, but my red flags are rarely ever wrong. Maybe my red flags enhance failure because I search deeper and harder for it because I know it is there somewhere. Maybe it is always there with everyone but I overlook it unless I see the red flag items.
OK, here goes, if I meet you my red flag goes up if:
You are wearing a barrette because you are a creative dreamer rather than a visionary.
Your name is Bob because I have yet to meet a Bob that isn’t crazy.
Your name is Robert (a Bob in hiding), see Bob above.
You have a bumper sticker that says “Easy Does it” you are too open to sharing your problems and recovery with strangers.
Your name is Joe and I am looking to have you do some work for me, because you able to do excellent work but you don’t think things through fully.
You have vanity plates.
You have a car with only two seats, (2 seats are OK for a truck).
You are a talkative man.
You are one who talks non-stop without asking any questions.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The Birds and the Bees
Yes, it's Spring and the young hearts fancy turns to love. Here is something I wrote a few years a go on the topic. I dedicate it to TH and Jaggy.
It is often said that people do not become beekeepers, they are born beekeepers. Evidence of this comes from my friend, Norm. He once told me that as a lad his father sat him down to tell him the story of the “Birds and the Bees.” After listening patiently to the half hour explanation, Norm was dismissed to tend to his chores after his father finished his oration of the finer high-points of the facts of life. Norm went about his chores wondering why his father called it the Story of the Birds and the Bees, yet he never once mentioned the bees.
I assured Norm that it was better that he didn’t mention the bees. Had his father told Norm about the sexuality of the honey bee, Norm may have been put to the idea of procreation forever. There are no romantic notions when honey bees mate.
Six days after the drone, (the male honey bee) emerges as an adult; he will take flight and congregate with other drones high in the air or in the tree canopy near the honey bee colony.
Five to ten days after a virgin queen emerges as an adult, she will fly to where the drones congregate and she will mate with one of them. The drone has enormous eyes that are designed to spot the queen in flight. The queen also puts out a mating scent to attract the drones.
The drone flies and joins the queen by clasping her. He inserts his sexual apparatus into her and then he falls back. Breaking away and parting with his sexual organs; the drone falls to the ground and dies. The queen flies back to the hive and absorbs all the sperm from the drone, and then discards the apparatus the drone gave his life to share with her.
The queen will repeat this mating ritual with up to twenty drones over the next several days. In each instance of successful mating the drone is doomed. The queen mixes all the sperm together in an organ called the spermatheaca. This reservoir of sperm will supply her for the rest of her life, which can be four years.
In human terms this could be viewed as promiscuity that results in immediate death for the male participants. If this isn’t bad enough, consider the fact that if the queen happens to mate with drones from her colony, she is mating with a brother or at least a cousin. Incest!
Had Norm heard the true story of how honeybees mate, his young mind may have reverse-anthropomorphized the situation, putting him off human procreation all together. So his father did well by not bringing honey bees into the lecture.
I know somewhere out there a budding young ornithologist may be reading this Birds and Bees story. She or he is probably thinking, “This writer never once mentioned the birds.”
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Please Visit Lelo
Everyone must visit
Lelo right now.
Lelo right now.
In my nearly 52 years of life on this planet, I have yet to ever come across a situation where I wished for or saw a need for a gun. I just don’t get why America is so gun crazy. I suppose if I lived where there were problems with bears and cougars. I’ve seen bears and cougars and I never felt like I needed to shoot them.
Yes, I know there is the NRA, Republicans and Libertarians out there who adhere to the “Cold Dead Fingers” statement, but why would anyone need a gun and the liability that goes with it in this day and age?
I know there are many gun owners who read this daily journal. Does this question piss you off? Have you ever needed your weapon? Ever ice any one?
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
A Waste of Energy
I just don’t get exercise equipment. What is wrong with going outdoors for a walk or a run? So what if it’s rainy or dark. While walking in a natural environment one sharpens other skills. You listen for traffic; you develop better motor skills by jumping over stuff and avoiding walking in dog shit. You are more able to have a simple walk become a social activity, saying hi to people along the way. There nothing better than re-entering a warm house after a brisk walk in the cold.
Rowing machines do nothing for the balance one develops while rowing a real craft, nor do you ever get to see the cool things you see when you are on the water.
Weight lifting is lame because all you do is build up the body with a lot of wasted energy. Why not split wood and stack it for someone who is physically unable; who heats their home with wood.
Stationary bicycles also don’t give you any skills of balance and getting through the streets with guile.
I say that somehow gyms should have electrical generators attached to every piece of equipment. That way when people waste all that time and energy they could at least be doing something beneficial for society by supplying electricity. Can you imagine how much power could be generated across the country with all the energy expeneded in gyms across the country?
Monday, March 26, 2007
One word you find in a lot of blog article descriptions I the word, “Dumbassery.” I personally love that term.
I first described myself as a Dopey Blogger long ago, and I continue to run with that excuse when ever it is necessary, which as some of you know is pretty often. It’s my way of saying that opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and most of them stink; mine included.
By calling myself a Dopey Blogger I make up for any inaccuracy in my data collection, besides readers shouldn’t believe everything they read on the Internet, either. If they do they risk becoming involved in dumbassery them selves.
With this said, I frequently find myself deeply involved in Dumbassery. Sometimes it makes the readers laugh, sometimes I laugh at myself. My most recent venture was a day when I was looking for a good photo of a television. I went to Flickr.com and put the letters TV in the search. Some popped up, but I couldn’t understand why so many photos were popping up of ugly women; correction…fugly women.
Now I’m not one who is put off by anyone who may be cosmetically challenged. I can find beauty in just about everyone unless their spirit is truly ugly, however these photos were disturbing. After going through about ten pages of listings I realized what else TV could have stood for. It all made sense to me. They weren’t fugly women at all. They were men who transformed themselves into a state of fuglyness.
One needs to carefully word their searches or be reduced to a state of Dumbassery as I was.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Good news for those of you who view only broadcast television, meaning those who do not get BBC-TV or the Sci Fi Channel…Dr Who is returning to Oregon Public Broadcasting on April 4th.
They will be airing shows with Rose Tyler and the second to the most recent Doctor. It’s been a very good series, so if you are fan of the doctor it will be on Thursdays at 10pm and Sundays in the late afternoon.
If you’ve never heard of Dr Who, this is a British TV show that has been ongoing for probably 40 years now. The Dr. is a time traveler who has a companion, usually a woman from Earth, he loves our planet. The doctor never dies, but regenerates when he wears a body out. In the old scripts he was only allowed five regenerations, but I think he is now in his eighth body.
There are a lot of cool things about the show like how he never uses violence to solve a problem, he just out wits his opponents. He travels in a police phone box called the Tardis which is dimensionally transverse, meaning it is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
For you old fans, yes there are Darliks and Cybermen. Yes the Tardis still makes funny noises. Yes he still has a sonic screwdriver. The special effects are now amazing and it is very well written. And the New Doctors are as good if not better then Tom Baker, yes I’ll be flogged for that statement, but wait and see.
So Dr. Who fans, rejoice. He’s back.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
To my friends in Seattle… What the hell is going on up there with you folks? Somehow I can’t log into your blogs? Lach and Bayou, are having some weird server stuff going on. Amaya's This Side of Logic is OK, but Lach's My So-Called Blog and Bayou's A Perfect Anomaly are having trouble.
I mainly wanted to share this with any of my readers who wander around on their blogs and have recently been unable to. I've also been looking for an excuse to use the above photo. Much love to y'all from Seattle.
Friday, March 23, 2007
I need a haircut badly. I’m beginning to take on my Einstein look and it frightens me every time I see my reflection. I just have a hard time making an appointment to have it done.
So you might ask why I just don’t walk into Bobs, no appointment necessary… My hair may be thinning, but I am not yet ready to have someone shave my head. Though all this wild white hair may look bad, it looks better than it being buzzed.
I was telling someone recently about how I had long dark hair about 15 years ago. Within five years my hair turned white. Someone saw a photo of me with the long dark hair five years later and asked it that was a photo of my son.
I so hate getting a hair cut that every few years I let it grow. Last time it was about four years of growth, half way down my back. I finally got sick of it and cut it all off, and now I feel I must make a quarterly trip to have it removed.
Most men have real vanity issues over their hair. They freak out when they start thinning or when the color changes. To me hair isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be and if it weren’t for daily maintenance I would probably shave it.
I think back to the days when I could go out on a rainy day and the rain would rarely ever touch my scalp. Now I feel mist so I wear hats.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Tank Drainer 2000
Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I am into water pressure. I’ve been shown houses to buy in the past and passed them up because of poor water pressure. My present house has great pressure, and even better now than when I first bought it because I replaced all the galvanized pipes and our water district went from a four inch to a ten inch main.
Sure it’s important that I can spray the sky lights from the ground. Sure it’s important to be able to knock large hunks of mud from the bottom of the truck. However most important I need good water pressure to drill holes in my back when I shower.
Yes, I know how important it is to conserve our natural resources and especially water, but having a shower that can shoot to the bone is important to me.
The greatest thing the previous owner of my house left me was a shower head. I call it the Tank Drainer 2000. When my wife’s kids lived with us I had to remove this shower head because they took half hour showers and they would totally drain all the hot water in the house. I replaced it with an efficient shower head just to conserve; they were not pleased.
I took great joy when they moved out. I got my old Tank Drainer 2000 out of the place I carefully stored it. I soaked it in CLR and found a roll of Teflon tape and my channel locks. Twist off the old and twist on the older. I removed my clothing and took it for a spin.
Oh the feeling of the water was reminiscent (though I never experienced it) of being shot kindly in the back with several rounds from a pneumatic roofing nailer, in a good kind of a way, not a bloody way.
The Tank Drainer 2000 is still in commission. I begin every morning with it. Some mornings it is so gloriously painful (that’s a good thing) that I am nearly brought to my knees. One thing I know is that if I ever move, the Tank Drainer 2000 is coming with me. I may take it with me to my grave.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I was talking with a friend recently and she mentioned that she often goes into the Astoria Co-Op. I asked if she found any friendliness issues there. It was like a light bulb turned on in her head. They ask her if she is a member, knowing full well she is not by now and she goes in a couple times a week. When she replies, “No” suddenly she is treated like a piece of dog shit that was tracked in on someone’s shoe.
I’ll be damned if I don’t have the same experience every time I go in there as well. I really like supporting local businesses, but not when they treat you poorly because you aren’t an investor into their scheme. I have no qualms about paying more because I am not a member, but I do have qualms about not being welcomed into their store.
If you line me up with their members you probably wouldn’t be able to pick me out, jeans, Birks, though I don’t wear a knit cap. Maybe it’s a world wide Co-Op thing. My friend Syd in Mississippi gets the same treatment at her Natural Food Co-Op.
I could have been a good customer for them. Their location is convenient for me. They sell things that I like to buy; products and brands with philosophies I support. They could be selling me hundreds of dollars of goods every month, which translates to thousands per year. It’s obvious they don’t want my business, so I will be happy to not give them my support and lucre. I’m really surprised they are still in business.
Just because they are based as a private club doesn’t mean that they are exempt from fostering good will to those who wish to support them. I will not support them until they get their act together.
There is a new Natural Food store in Gearhart, Pacific Way Natural Foods. They are very customer friendly. Though it is farther away, I feel it is totally worth my support. I hope some of the readers here will make the trip and support them as well.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Mid-Life Blog Writing Crisis
As many of you know, I write all of my articles in advance. I usually have a couple weeks worth in the bank, sometime writing several a day. On Monday I posted the last article in my bank. It was so strange letting my draft pile get so low. I posted the article and then went back to my draft folder and deleted the article in draft form. The bank was empty.
I wondered for a moment if I wanted to go on. I have been blogging for nearly a year now. Yes, it was therapeutic, yes it is a way to keep the writing juices going, and yes I made many new friends and a few enemies along the way. I’ve also learned to temper my words and thoughts. I’ve learned there are certain opinions I need to keep to myself.
I have no expectations of this blog doing anything for me other than the benefits I’ve mentioned above. I don’t know the story behind all the readers here. Many have said they look forward to reading every day. There are about 100 regular readers and 11 people who subscribe through Bloglines.com, and about 10 or so who leave comments. I appreciate you all for allowing me to dump ideas directly into your brains on a daily basis.
After thinking it over I think the whole experience has been positive and needs to continue for now. I will try my best to continue having half baked fresh articles for you every day.
So at this pause, please forgive me for considering the option of hanging it all up. I’d hate to give it up and have to come crawling back because I had new inspiration. So if you come upon a crappy article here, such as this one, just say Pffff…. And check back another day. I need to get writing now, so I hope we’ll see you all here tomorrow.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Fast and Cheap
Like all people, I have in the past tried to buy something that was cheap in order to save money. This almost always leads to disaster and I think that I’ve finally learned that a good deal is quickly forgotten when the bargain cost you more in the end.
I can think back on all the wooden handle hammers I’ve purchased over the years, yet I’ve never had to replace any of the Estwings I’ve owned for 20 years.
I think about a set of phones I once bought that oddly would allow one to hear a conversation that someone else was having in another room like an intercom; while the phones were hung up. They were un-returnable and quickly ended up in a land fill. I think of the cheap photo paper that made dark images look flat while lighter colors were glossy. I think about those shoes I used to get that totally screwed up my feet.
I’m at the point where I won’t even buy generic trash bags, and that’s for stuff I’m taking to the dump. There is something really sad that happens in ones heart when you realize you have just wasted money on something.
I think of the tools that have been handed down to me over the years. All are tools of quality. They were crafted and not mass produced in China for the disposable market. When I buy things these days, I go for the long term commitment.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Today I will bring my weekend agricultural articles to a finish. In these pieces I examined the potential of starting up an Ag-Business. It isn’t all that easy to do in these modern days. The most positive way to go about it is to do what you enjoy and some day it in turn may return monetary rewards to you. This is the best one can hope for.
My advice is to grow some vegetables, raise an animal or two for meet or fiber, chickens for eggs, maybe get some bees for pollination and honey. Have fun and know that you are producing food for your friends and family. You have the ability of keeping your food pure, and the taste will be many times better than the products that come from factory farms and strip-mine vegetable fields in Texas.
Read up on what you do. Become an expert, and maybe write a book. Share your ideas with others and you will be living the agricultural life that so many people desire. Subscribe to good trade publications and keep up with the latest agricultural news at the Capital Press.
As your skills increase you may come to a point where you can give up the day job and dedicate you life to what you enjoy doing most. Very few family farms ever have just one item. It is a diverse operation. The more flexible you can be; the better chances you have at success.
I hope you, the reader have been able to take something away from this series of articles, even if you don’t want to live an agricultural life. I love writing about agriculture.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Trees and Vegetables
Tree farming can supply a good income you have enough land to sustain a harvest every year. In order to make this work you would have to focus on harvesting ten acres per year with a complete cycle coming about every 45 years. This model would mean that you need to have 450 acres. The other way is to harvest all at once and budget your money over the next 45 years. This is hard to do, but there is also the option of having a Christmas Tree Farm on a lesser amount of acreage. This will keep a constant cash flow going. You can plant desirable verities and capitalize on the locally grown angle of your product. Most people enjoy the added bonus of knowing where the things they buy come from.
Aside from trees, there are always vegetables. Local produce is highly desirable. It is a lot of work to grow and sell goods, but again the local angle will be beneficial to you. If you go to Sunday Market you will see customers who wait all week to buy fresh local produce. Also it is easy to co-op your goods if let’s say you grow wonderful tomatoes, and you have a friend who grows wonderful peppers.
Also note that tomatoes, peppers and basil only seem to grow well here on the coast within a green house. There is an August blight that will kick your butt if you think you’ll harvest anything planted outside. Tomatoes like warm nights so enclose them with some heat. The latest I have been able to keep tomatoes in my green house was until January 21 one year.
You may also be able to market your goods to local shops and restaurants, though you won’t be paid as highly as when you sell directly to the customer. Also consider a road side stand. We’ve sold blueberries that way last year and made some spending money. Also keep the food bank in mind. They appreciate any fresh produce you can share with them.
Back before we got animals we had a garden 21 raised bed. Each bed was six feet by four feet which was enclosed with cedar fence boards. We were gardening only 504 square feet, but you would be amazed what that limited space produced.
The boards lasted over ten years. The beauty of the raised bed was that you could treat each bed differently. Being raised the soil would dry sooner after the winter rains, and the ground would remain warmer. Weeds were easier to control and the soil never became compacted because we would never walk on it. It was by far the easiest, cleanest way I’ve found to garden.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Yes, it was all the rage. It seemed that everyone needed to be on an anti-depressant at the time, and someone who mistook my sullen personality for depression convinced me that I should try them as well.
I went to a doctor, let’s call him Dr. Candyman. I told him how I was feeling and that I wanted to feel better. He spouted off many drugs that were available to me and asked if I had a preference. I didn’t know enough about them to have a preference, so he put me on Welbutrin.
Maybe I did have some seasonal disorder, maybe I was feeling poorly about being financially strapped at that time, but I convinced myself that I was depressed and that I needed medication.
I clearly remember opening my prescription at home. There was an inner seal on the bottle of pills that said “Welcom”, which when misinterpreted told me that I was being taken for a journey that may never end. Welcom was the company that made that drug before it went to GlaxoSmithKline.
The first two nights were sleepless nights on this medication. I stayed awake looking at the stars through the skylight. Back then my bed room had a 4' X 4' skylight right above the bed. I wasn’t tired and I wasn’t bothered by the lack of sleep, I just enjoyed being awake all night looking at the stars. I felt good about the whole thing.
After that initial high, the drug seemed to have little effect on me, so I slowly got off the medicine and never refilled the prescription. I haven’t gone back for another psychological evaluation, not have I taken anything to alter my mood. Yet I wonder what it would be like to be chipper and optimistic. I have never been that sort of person and I wouldn’t want to be one for more than a day or two.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
What are valid pass-times? Gearhead recently wrote me with this quandary. He is a practical sort who never wastes time. He also thinks many moves ahead, and I envy people who can do that, since they are way better at seeing cause and effect. He is a gear head who is constantly engineering things or fixing and restoring old machinery, motorcycles, tractors, cars and trucks. He invents stuff as well.
After he posed that question to me I find that few of my pass-times would be valid in his eyes. They are barely valid in my eyes. So many of the things that were once my pass-times have become work to me. My pass-times now are the total opposite of work. They are a total waste of time.
I wish I could find joy in sports or politics. I wouldn’t even mind becoming a regular customer at a local pub. These things too are a waste of time. I am as proficient as I need to be with the technology I use. I used to spend hours learning things on the computer. I feel no need to do so any more. I have no interest in taking any classes.
Maybe I’m in some sort of funk where the only pastimes I have are writing blog articles, watching the Daily Show and getting to bed at a reasonable hour. It is somewhat sad when I see people achieving things like Gearhead. Some of you readers have told me about painting and creating art, restoring houses, cooking and reading. All valid pass-times in anyone’s eyes. You are honing your skills hoping for personal betterment The more I think of it, the more guilty I feel for all the time I waste in this short life.
I would like to write more about this topic, but the Daily show comes on in three minutes and I have to hunt down a snack.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
More About Richard Mizdal
A while back I wrote about seeing a young photographer at the Blue Scorcher who had a copy of a book written by my high school photography teacher, Richard Mizdal. Small World
It gave me a good reason to contact Richard and see what he’s been up to. He is still teaching at the State University of New York (SUNY) and he’s into some strange/cool stuff. He sent me three images of his recent work. It really makes me miss all the artistic experimentation I used to do in art and photography. I really miss the dark rooms and studios.
I asked about the technique he used for the image above and his reply, ”They are created by painting black and white photo paper in the darkroom with various photo chemicals, exposing it and then scanning it to color in Photoshop.”
Thanks for sharing, Richard. It’s really nice having you as my touch stone for art education over the last 30 years.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
It is said that elephants can hear with their feet. They can hear the rumblings of other elephants and vocalizations miles away through their feet. They can hear frequencies with their feet that are much lower than that which can be heard with ears.
Somewhere in Africa and India and Asia and all the zoos in the world there are elephants listening to me right now. I got this ass kicking cold this weekend and my voice is now deep. It is deeper than Leonard Cohen, and Bea Arthur’s voices. It is way down there. The coffee in my cup dances in circles like it did in The China Syndrome and Jurassic Park every time I speak.
I find it fun to say things like, “Oh baby!” Anybody remember Froggy from the Our Gang Comedy?
Monday, March 12, 2007
What is Real?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between that which is real and that which is made to look real. Those things that are made to look real are clever imitations that are actually designed to sell things.
When entering a grocery store you are often shown departments that mimic their counterparts in the real world where the flower shop and the bakery look like they are sitting in a bizarre replica of a main street scene. They have fake wooden barrels. They have divided glass windows in the back ground like a prop on a stage. The lighting is different in these fake shops as well.
Marketers will call this value added shopping, but I think of it as unnecessary value or value reversal, or even misguided value. It inspires me to take a little extra time and visit that stand alone bakery, florist, card shop.
It’s like visiting Disney Land. They make it look real, and you want it to be real, but in the end they have your money and you have some plastic crap that will one day end up in a land fill.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if Disney or someone created a theme park based on the suburbs where the rides would all look like commuter and school buses and the shops were in strip malls? There would be a 7-Eleven at every other intersection. Let’s not forget the graffiti and the smell of fried fast food. The actors would all wear their hats backwards and cruise the park on skate boards. There would be homeless actors. There would be things out there that are no longer hidden in the urban landscape. Our “present” is the nostalgia of the future.
Isn’t it sad to think that the children today will look fondly and romantically at the town in the paragraph above.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
To Bee or Not to Bee
I will be concluding this Ag Business series next weekend. I think I’ve covered just about every topic for consideration. If I haven’t touched on an Ag topic that you wanted to hear about, let me know.
One other start-up Ag business one might want to consider is beekeeping. This is not for someone who gets ill being around insects. There are start-up costs and quite a learning curve before you can actually feel comfortable with your knowledge and proficiency.
One thing you would need to start with is a class on beekeeping. There are several offered around the state. See the events page at www.orsba.org. This is the Oregon State Beekeepers Association web site. It offers a lot of resources for beekeepers of every level. Next get a good book on the subject. And spend the next year reading and studying the craft. See if you can job shadow a beekeeper.
There is money in beekeeping, but the balancing act one must do to make a profit often unnerves beekeepers. The mistake that many make is they grow their business too quickly, and when there is a bad year it can financially devastate the keeper.
There is money to be made if you don’t mind transporting your bees to California where the almond producers will pay over $150 per hive for pollination. Don’t expect those prices for other crops when that season is over. Things like pumpkins or cherries bring in only about $35 per hive. If you can start in California, come back and work several other crops in Oregon each colony can yield about $300 in pollination fees alone.
There is also money in honey production, though commercial beekeepers that make their money on pollination see honey as a by-product. They sell off their honey to big distributors often for less than two-dollars a pound. Beekeepers who value their honey will bottle it and market it them selves. Good raw honey can fetch between six and eight dollars a pound. A well established colony will yield between 150 and250 pounds of honey in Oregon.
There are other hive products that one can sell or use in products in their cottage industry. Bees wax can be made into candles, but it can also be used in making hand creams and lip balm and furniture wax. Propolis can be made into a tintiture for cuts and scrapes. Bee pollen is another item beekeepers collect and sell.
Someone who is focused can turn a profit in beekeeping after about five years. It does take time to learn the craft, grow your holdings responsibly, and have the bees draw foundation into honey comb that can be used year after year.
Money and profit aside, there is just something special in watching bees come and go on a warm summer day. The smell of the hive is remarkably good as well.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
The Scoop on the Poop
When you have large animals you have manure; an endless supply of manure that needs to be dealt with. You shouldn’t just heap it up. You shouldn’t let it sit out in your field because animals will not eat around their own waste. It will also infect your field with parasites and files. You shouldn’t keep it with in 100 feet for a stream nor by a well.
The proper way to deal with manure is to compost it. Just heaping it doesn’t necessarily compost it. It needs to be heaped and covered so to control the moisture. It may need water if it is too dry. It should be turned on occasion.
Once the manure is composted it will have value to gardener. They will pay for nicely composted material. Sure you might be able to find a chump to take your raw manure, but a person will only fall for that once. Their gardens will grow grains and weeds quicker than what ever they planted.
For best results you may want to consider inviting your local land and water conservation person to pay you a visit. They will take your particular farm into consideration and will send you a design for a composting system that will best match your situation. And they do this at no charge. They may even be able to give you a grant for fencing sensitive areas.
Manures from rabbits and goats do not need to be composted. You can put them on the garden right away, but chicken, horse and cow manure need to decompose before using. The heat generated while composting will break down any viable seeds that may have made it through the digestion process.
When done properly, the manure you collect may add income and help with your over-all animal cost. When you are paying $14.50 for a bale of hay and you see it reduced in to a pile of crap, you will welcome the chance to make some sort of money from it or at least have a good will product for your neighbors.
Friday, March 09, 2007
I’ve always heard it was the new car smell that sold so many cars, but the smell was never the thing that got me. I never found joy in shopping for a car. The only thing I loved shopping for was a Jeep.
Back in the 70s when you went to buy a Jeep from a dealer you quickly found that everything was an option. Standard features were a windshield, wipers and a drivers seat. Everything else was an option. Yes, that meant that passenger seats and a roof were options.
The idea of a Jeep appealed to me for years. Living in New Jersey where there were still some back country roads, and where snow was a frequent driving hazard in the winter, a Jeep just made sense to me. I wasn’t concerned with the rough ride. I wasn’t concerned with the lack of amenities that came with normal cars. I had no concern for the total utilitarian aspect of the vehicle. To me it was a cool toy and I wanted one.
I did finally get one in 1976. It was plagued with mechanical trouble. I became pretty good at fixing it because I couldn’t afford the constant repair bills that this Jeep was dealing me.
There was something that really got to me, and it took me a while to figure it out. I did a lot of summer driving in the Jeep. Summers are warm and muggy on the east coast. I’d mostly wear running shorts all summer long. I’d take the doors off and it would always be a cool drive. However after long drives I would be in pain, but I never put two and two together. The shape of the seat was odd, not like how the present automobile seat cradles you. These seats fit your butt (yes I had one back then) but your legs rose above the seat…hard to explain.
Anyway I understood the source of the problem after a ten-hour drive to Canada. I was wearing my running shorts, with no support in this bouncy Jeep …for ten hours. When I got to my destination, I hopped out and felt like I had just had taken a knee to my testicles. I was in really bad pain. I couldn’t walk for at least a half hour. Really, really bad pain. I wondered why I hadn’t realized this sooner?
On my way home I choose to sit on a wadded up jacket, and I took frequent driving breaks to assure this would not happen again. It was something I never wanted to feel again.
I kept the Jeep for another year, but was always careful to be supported after that. To this day I am careful and think of the incident every time I get on my lawn mower with its similar seating arrangement. This is a totally avoidable pain and one that is reserved for an after effect of doing something stupid.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Murky Waters of LNG
In the new Coast River Business Journal, Bradwood Landing has an ad that shows a glass of water and the copy reads something like if LNG were put into this glass of water it would evaporate leaving the water in the glass safe to drink.
So are they telling us that there is going to be liquid natural gas that will end up in the Columbia River?
OK Bradwood, tell us what happens when LNG goes into the air? It’s not going to pool into a little ball of jelly that we can pick up with a shovel, is it? Tell us how much LNG will escape due to venting during transfer. I hear 3% of the load.
You’ve got some set of balls for running that water ad. Why don’t you show us what that water will look like while you are dredging. Why don’t you address public safety, potential blast zones, shipping, why you are going to buy Natural Gas from nations that support terrorism at the same time increasing the danger that our beautiful area will now be on the terrorist map. You are paying them to hit us.
Washington Congressman Brian Baird has announced his opposition to the Bradwood Landing. I hope our Oregon representatives will do the same.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
In a Field
Having never been a sports fan I will roll my eyes at the very thought of running down the floor bouncing a ball and throwing it at a basket. Or sitting in the cold watching a ball go back and forth on a stripped field, or watching people bounce balls off their heads into nets.
I can’t imagine how much time and money is wasted on these events. Though I think that all spectator sports are totally useless, I will never utter displeasure at baseball. I can’t recall watching a baseball game sine I was six or seven when I was taken to Yankee and Shea Stadiums to see baseball games. I saw Mantle and Marris and Whitey Ford. I had my photo taken with Blefery.
You might think I’d lump baseball in with the other organized sports I detest since I never really paid attention to the game. There had been a few moments in my history that poisoned me against the game, but somehow I will not say anything unkind about it. I have a reverence for the game unlike anything I know. I will mock organized and disorganized religion. I will mock politics, people, commerce and education. I will mock long standing traditions and institutions, but I will never speak unkindly of baseball.
The teams are losing their winter weight in tropical training camps in preparation for another season. It brings a certain joy to my heart even though I will continue my tradition of ignoring everything about the game. I will hold fast again and remain ignorant while holding onto my reverence for the boys of summer and the games they play during the warm summer days and evenings.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
I’ve met many amazing people over the years. Most remarkable are many of the people I’ve met since starting this blog. I’ve come to know people who express themselves so well in the written form. They have heart and writing ability. Some of the writers don’t have a blog, they just write. They comment on my articles, they post messages on the forums. I wish these people would blog. Moosehead for one is someone I’d like to read every day.
Another writer of note doesn’t comment on the blog, but he writes in the local forums. I will not out him so let me identify him as he identifies himself, F Lee.
F Lee and I have been exchanging email for some months now. He has lived in Dried Salmon County for ever. He knows every one and has done everything. He recently shared a DVD with me of an interesting old time event here. He shared the New Yorker article on the Flavel’s with me. He’s told me stories of his experiences with Harry Flavel, and he shared an article he wrote about his spending time with another Oregonian celebrity. I’m really sorry I need to be so terse about his articles, I just don’t want to out him. However I am calling for F Lee to start his own blog. His stories must be told and locals should read them. They’ve amazed me. F Lee may very well be the most important local writer of our time.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Sick Day XI
I’m sick of TV. I’m sick that the price of my Dish has risen again to $85 per month and I’m going to go back to a really basic package as long as it has RFD-TV. I’m totally sick of seeing all the things Oprah has her paws on; books, magazines, products, films, Dr Phil, I’m sick of that rat bastard as well. I totally sick of the Celtic Women; come on PBS, enough of them already and while we’re at it, isn’t it time to start running some different BBC shows on Saturday night. Please, the Bucket woman makes me sick. I’m sick that so many blogs that I used to read are totally dedicated to American Idol. If I cared about the show, I’d watch it. Get a life bloggers!
I was sick about all the over promotion of Heartland at the Liberty. If they were that good the concert would have sold out months ago. Thank goodness it is now over. Next time book something that will sell out so we won’t have to put up with the endless promotion.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Continuing with the weekend Ag topics… What about being a hay farmer? This can be a good business, but just not here in Dried Salmon County. With the combination of our weather, soil and the types of grass that will grow well her, hay production is very limited. Usually only one cutting and the nutrients just aren’t here, which makes our grasses and hay poor quality and generally used as fill. Cows will eat it, many horses will not.
The further east you go the better the hay gets. Birkenfeld hay is highly regarded among locals as inexpensive hay that most horses will eat. When you get into the Willamette Valley you start getting into mild orchard grasses and timothy. Timothy is horse food. Horses love the stuff, sheep, too. Valley orchard grass will be taken or left by some picky horses. It depends on their mood and how hungry they are.
Now when you want to talk about the premium stuff we have Eastern Oregon orchard grass. This stuff is so good that horses will go crazy for it. I’ve seen horses ignore grazing a pasture just to eat Eastern Oregon orchard grass. I’ve also see it become very and maybe too nutritious over they years. It’s like it’s supercharged. Kind of like remember how pot was in the 70s and then if you tried any in the 90s it was like it was suddenly super-charged. Some orchard grasses are now too potent for horses and need to be mixed with lesser grass hay.
Alfalfa is also sold as hay, but it is actually a leafy legume. It is very green and stemmy and has a very strong smell. I see people feeding to horses all the time, but it is so super-charged that horses will often start acting up like if you just gave a ton of sugar to a child. It also messes up horses hoofs. Ferriers don’t like to work on horses who’ve had too much alfalfa.
Cows can eat just about anything, since they are ruminates, as are goats. Horses do not have stomachs like cows and unable to vomit, so their hay must be the best quality possible. No moldy hay allowed.
Cutting a filed of hay has stages to it. It is cut, raked in a pile and left to dry. If you bale wet hay it will rot and kill your horses. After it is dried sufficiently it is gathered and baled and stored. There are normal 2 string bales, and heavier 3 string bales. There are also big square bales that are about the size of a mini van. There are round bales and there are also compressed bales which are about a quarter of the size of a normal bale, but just as heavy.
As for what the prices of hay are, local grass bales go for about $2, alfalfa goes for about $9 per bale. Alfalfa goes for about $11 a bale. Nice orchard grass from Eastern Oregon goes for about $14.50 a bale right now. There are also mixtures where they might combine two or three of the choices into one. They are usually over $10 per bale.
My advise is if you want to get into the hay business, do it in Eastern Oregon.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course
For another agricultural start-up, you may or may not want to consider horses. Let me start by saying that if you didn’t grow up with horses, consider something else. Horses are big and dangerous. They are very needy, they produce a lot of manure and their brains are hard wired to instinctual behavior that can be modified. However, you can’t just read a book on how to train a horse and think you can do it.
Most horses that are quasi trained trail horses will sell for about $2,000. So if you buy a horse and train it to the point where it will be safe on the trail, counting feeding, shoeing and medical expenses, you will probably be loosing $3000 on the sale. So how does anyone make money in the horse business?
Specialty breeds such as dressage and race horses will command bigger money. Having a mare bred to a champion raises the price of the foal as well, but sometimes that blood becomes diluted to the point that the name on the pedigree only gives a slight shimmer to the horse, but doesn’t raise its value. There are a bunch of horses in the county that are related to Seattle Slew and Isle Breeze, but that line no longer commands the prices that it once did.
Spend a ton of money on training and compete with the horse. Every championship the horse wins the higher the price goes. However this too is a gamble. One physical mishap can turn your $50,000 horses into a $2 pasture pet. Another problem is some horses just aren’t cut out for the business. I’ve seen horses totally ruined while in reigning training. It is really hard on their feet. Horses are just like children, you can hope for the best, but all children don’t become what you wish them to be.
Rather than raise horses it might be a better idea to get in on the side lines of the industry and cater to horse people. Provide them a product or service.
Another hint in this area is the menopause horse. Yes it sounds funny, but many girls grow up horse crazy. This horse craziness stays with girls thorugh their lives. All through adulthood, child rearing, on and on. Horses are an unfulfilled dream. When their kids are grown and gone these women have some disposable income and they flock to horses. There is an entire industry that caters to this demographic. If you go to a horse expo you will see that 90% of the people there are women over 50.
These women are in need of training and equipment, and their husbands don’t have a clue about any of this. This is a way to break into a profitable ag career with out having to clean muck twice a day. This is where the real ag money is these days. Trust me, you would not believe how much we've spent on horses over the last five years.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Box Car Guy
A couple weeks ago I was either talking with or writing to someone when the topic of hitching freight trains came up. Yes, I’ve hitched a freight train every now and then when I was young and it was something I had to be cured of.
There was a railroad line that ran through my home town, the Erie Lackawanna. It was mostly known as a commuter line that ran from Goshen, New York to Hoboken, New Jersey. Once in Hoboken you needed to get off the train and ride the Path Tubes to down town New York City and there you could catch the subway to where ever.
The Erie Lackawanna at that time had two outside commuter tracks and two inside freight tracks. Just as the commuter side had its schedule, the freight trains had a schedule as well which was only obvious through observation rather than a published time table.
To a kid, walking the tracks to where ever you wanted to go was more fun than walking the road or side walks. You could find some cool stuff on the tracks or just see the unseen sights of town. I’d see the back side of buildings and wild overgrown areas where grouse and rabbits lived. It was where you could see things that were untouched and left alone.
One thing I could count on was that freight trains heading North from my general departure point would always slow down to enter the rail-yard in the town two miles ahead. I could hop the freight by where I lived and travel about a mile and a half to another friends’ house. The train speed was just right for getting on or getting off. I traveled this way on several occasions.
One Saturday morning I got on the slowing train that was heading north. I was coming up to my jump off spot when I felt a bump and the box car that sent me rolling back across the hard oak floor. The damn train was picking up speed. It wasn’t slowing down through the train yard.
I stood in the open door watching the scenery go past at a speed a human wouldn’t survive jumping from. I suddenly realized that I had no idea where I was going to end up and that I had no money to get back home when I did end up somewhere.
I rode the train through Suffern, Ramapo and Sloatsburg. Fortunately for me train slowed enough for me to jump off in Tuxedo Park, New York.
It was a long walk home and I've stayed off the rails ever since.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
I am so pleased every time I see Monsanto getting spanked with an unfavorable ruling or an unfavorable article.
Lately many Starbuck coffee franchises and Safeway have banned the use of milk products that came from cows that have been given the Monsanto growth hormone rBGH. Also creameries such as Dairygold, Wilcox and Tillamook will no longer purchase milk from dairy farmers who still use the growth hormone. Monsanto presents evidence that rBGH is safe, but their evidence is not sound and has not been tested scientifically or reliably. They say that no one can tell the difference between milk that came from treated cows, but if this were true, the tests that detect the hormone in milk wouldn’t find anything.
Next their product Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) is being studied because it may cause short term memory loss among a bunch of other health concerns.
Their insomnia medication, Ambien is also under fire for memory loss and it has been found that people will wake up in a zombie like state and eat for hours in the middle of the night and have no memory of doing so.
It is interesting that two of their products work on memory. It is convenient to remove any objection from a potential concerned consumer by removing their memory of their concern.
Finally, their GMO products, (Genetically Modified Organisms), such as Round-Up Ready seeds is an abomination of nature. What they did was create an herbicide called Round-up which is a gyphosphate. Then they genetically designed plants that are gyphosphate tolerant. Round-up has no effect upon these plants.
Not only is it freaky that there are plants that will die when sprayed with this poison, but what happenes when and if this gene is passed on through pollination to other plants. What happens to the insects and birds who gather pollen and nectar from these plants? What happens to animals that forage on these plants? What happens to humans who eat these grains and plants?
Monsanto is on the run with more rice, soy, corn and canola growers getting out of the GMO business. Further more, growers who are still using it are facing law suits from neighboring farms who claim the GMO is changing their crops from cross contamination.
In my eyes, Monsanto is one of the most sinister corporations in the US today. If you are on Ambien, try to do without it of find a different sleep aid. If you see rBGH free milk for sale next to something that isn’t marked, go for the good stuff. Avoid Nutra Sweet products. If something is marked as being GMO free, support that product as well.
Many industries have made fortunes while the consumers paid and acted as guinea pigs for them. Monsanto does not deserve a seat on this gravy train and people should not be sacrificing their wellbeing on these tracks just to be run over.