Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Dairy Down

I spent some time last week at a former dairy farm. It is so sad to see a productive farm stop doing what it does best. This place once was home to 120 head. It had just the right amount of pasture and the proper fencing and all the necessary buildings to accommodate 120 cows.

Adding to the sadness was that two out buildings were severely damaged during the 2007 storm. One was collapsed entirely and another lost its roof entirely leaving bare rafters exposed to the weather. There were portions of other roofs that had been damaged but are still repairable if someone were so inspired before more of it blows off in the next storm. There were some rotten posts that could be repaired before the remaining roof line sags even more.

There used to be four dairy farms on the road I live on when I first moved here; now there is one. I fully understand why dairy farms fail. Not only are they expensive to run but they are a lot of work. There are all sorts of regulations to burden. Did you know that if you have a dairy you may not keep chickens at the same time? So much for agricultural diversity.

When signing up to be a dairy farmer, you sign away any hopes for a vacation or a sick day unless your operation is large enough to have employees. You become adept at repairing vital equipment with bailing twine and duct tape. You develop an eye where you can spot potential trouble from a thousand feet away with a cow by the way she chews or stands.

Dairy farmers have to know about veterinary sciences, weather, grass, feed, hay and silage. They have to be mechanics, engineers and building maintainers and heavy equipment operators. They have to know sewer and waste water management. I know that is a lot to ask of any one that has a calling to make sure your kid has milk with their corn flakes.

Please stop and think when you are at the market buying milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream. Consider the family that is committed to ushering the cows in and out of the milking parlor twice a day. Also be aware that if you buy your dairy products from a local creamery you are supporting the local dairy industry. The Tillamook Dairy does not accept milk with any growth hormones in it. That’s another good thing to consider.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blue Berries

There is something gratifying about picking berries. I picked blueberries this evening. Berry picking is a silent pastime. The only sounds are those of the surrounding environment and the pinging or thudding noise the berries make as they hit the bucket.

Picking time is a good time to assess your fruit set and what sort of pruning you are going to do during the up-coming winter. It’s a good time to assess if you want to replace any plants that just aren’t doing well for one reason or another.

Some berries lend themselves well to sampling often while picking, but blueberries are a bit too precious for that. In a recent email exchange, Tango wanted to know why blueberries cost more than recreational drugs. That is precisely because they are precious and choice.

We have only 12 plants and we harvest just around a gallon every year. We eat some right away, but we always freeze some so we can enjoy them throughout the year. It’s a rationing thing. This is my second picking of these plants this season. There are still some that need to ripen a bit more. I’ve kept the birds and the chickens away for the most part, so I should have some more to harvest since the bird netting is working pretty well this year.

I think I’ll have some blueberries in some pancakes this morning.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hitting The Off Switch

My threshold of the pain for things I don’t like is getting lower. Like most people I will turn off the sound or change the channel when an annoying commercial comes on. Local radio is really annoying me as well. Yes, I try to listen to the “I Hate My Neighbor Show” every morning, but the second I hear the first lead in note of the Rush Limbaugh Show theme music my station is changed before the second note is played.

At that point I go to KMUN, but they aren’t immune from me turning off their station. I scurry like a rat as soon as I hear one of the following songs:
Condo Island
Holly Near, I Ain’t Afraid
Brownsmead Flats, Let the River Run Wild
Anne Freeney, End Corporate Welfare as We Know It
Pete Seeger, Bring Them Home
Anything by Odetta, Gordon Lightfoot

I mean I am probably as liberal as the next person on many of these issues, yet objective or conservative enough to see other side of the coin on most of them as well. All I’m saying is, “Yeah, I get your point. I know the KMUN programmers use the songs they play as blatant editorials, but for once try to have an open mind. Why don’t you look at it in another light? Until then, STFU already.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Never Say...

I thought carefully about how I titled this since I don’t want to lure anyone here looking for info on a movie that was once filmed here that begins with the letter “G.”

After the slaughter of all my chickens by the minks or weasels I was ready to give up. I invested a lot of money building their coop and I have yet to recuperate but only a small percentage from egg sales. I could turn it into equipment storage, or I could get some goats. It would make a good sized goat house. However I really miss my chickens. I miss seeing how excited they get when I approach with table scraps. They come running from every direction when I appear with a container in my hands. It makes it easy to gather them up at night.

Another benefit with chickens is that the horses have few flies this year. Chickens seek out and eat all fly larvae and are pretty good at catching flies on the wing as well. Now the hens are gone I expect a plague of face flies over the next month.

Back to “Never Say Die”; I decided to get new chickens again. I ordered 26 from McMurray’s in Texas. The day old chicks will arrive sometime next week. I will have five of each: Barred Rock, Rhode Island Reds, Black Star, Buff Orpingtons, Silver Laced Wayandottes and one bonus rare specialty chicken.

I’ve weasel proofed the coop so they will be safe. I next plan to weasel proof their run so they will be free to come and go as they please when it is too inclement for them to be free ranging. First eggs will be expected in late December.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fair 2009

The Clatsop County Fair begins tomorrow and I encourage all local readers to go out and partake in some of this event that happen here only once a year. I mean everyone should get a stiff whiff of pig shit at least once a year.

But really, it’s a good thing to show support of the hundreds of friends and neighbors that donate their time volunteering this annual event, beit parking cars, judging events and entries, emptying the trash. You also support many local vendors. Your attendance at the Fair especially supports all the young people involved in FFA and 4-H. I have to agree with what Betsy Johnson said in a recent interview, (paraphrase) “These kids aren’t out knocking down your mailboxes. They are busy helping out on the family farm or working every day with their market animals.”

I would like to hope that Fair attendance could match that of the Crab Festival, but without alcohol I doubt it ever will happen. I know I’ll be there every day, probably twice every day. Parking is free this year, finally! I’ve been sounding off on this for years and I’d like to think someone listened.

The Fair is a great place to see things you normally never get to see in your daily goings-on. It’s also a great place to take photos and people watch. It’s a great place to ask questions and get cool answers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Surf Fish

While whale watching at the cove last week I got to watch a group of Asian men fishing the surf. I was surprised to see what they were keeping. No matter what size or species of fish was, if they brought it in, they kept it. One fellow reeled in a crab. He removed it from the hook, looked around and then stuffed it into his bag.

These guys were catching all sorts of fish. Within 45 minutes they must have taken in enough fish to fill a small freezer.

I need to learn more about surf fishing here. It seems pretty productive. I remember fishing the jetties in New Jersey. The majority of fish caught there were blow fish also known as puffers, but I never wanted to go the Fugu route. However here there are ling cod and starry flounder. I may be fishing again.

If any of you readers are familiar with the surf fishing in Oregon I’d like to know what is good to catch and eat out here, and what isn’t?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Seldom Seen

I must be somewhat invisible or outstanding. I’ve avoided all sorts of things that most people get sucked into. There are a few things in particular that I will not mention because I know some readers here could easily change that for me. One thing I will mention is that I am nearing my 54th year and I have yet to hear a peep from the AARP. Normally they jump on you the day before your 50th birthday.

The only thing I can think of is that maybe I’m not really going to be 54 at all. Maybe I’m getting younger. Or, maybe I’m invisible or already dead and I just haven’t noticed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Update to today's post

Update. I fortified everything last night and locked the remaining chickens in the hen house, and something still got in and killed five more. I have one chick left and I will be looking for a home for her today. I am officially out of the egg business.

Heart Sick

This morning (Thursday)finds me heart sick. It started as a normal morning for me. Up at five, the coffee timer started my morning brew so the first cup would be ready by the time I got down stairs. I had a shower, checked my email. I fed the horses and went out to the chicken yard. There was a sickening feeling as I approached the chicken yard. It looked as though there had been a massive pillow fight; feathers everywhere. My flock of thirteen had been reduced to eight.

Raccoons ripped through the bottom of the fence. It’s not like I didn’t anticipate this because when I fenced in the yard I ran an extra fencing flat along the ground where grass grows over it to prevent something from digging their way in. It was brute force that detached the ground fence from the vertical fence.

So to all my egg customers I now have only four layers and one of them is seriously injured. The other four chicks will not be old enough to lay until the fall. Today I will be digging up the entire perimeter of the yard and burying corrugated metal roofing panels.

They killed one Aricona, both Silver Laced Wyondottes and two Barred Rocks. I’m just heart sick.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Beth just returned from her summer family vacation to the lake. I envy her because spending my summers at a Canadian lake in Mulgrave-et-Derry was the high point of my life. Nothing will ever compare or build memories like those times.

Beth talked missing all the calls of the loon, stating she only saw one during her stay. I asked her about Whip-poor-wills and she has never heard them.

A whip-poor-will is a bird that I remember from my days in the North Country. I used to visit a friend that lived in the foot hills of the Adirondacks. He lived across the street from a cemetery that was a park-like piece of land with large hemlock and tamarack trees. Every evening the Whip-poor-wills would call through the still air. You would never see them since they are spotty masters of camouflage.

If you visit this site you can hear their call and you will realize how they got their name. Whip-poor-will Call

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another Super Power

A while back I had a post about super powers and if you could pick one which would it be. You could pick flying, super hearing, super strength, X-Ray vision or being invisible. I’ve added a new one to the list. I would like to have the super power of draining cell phone batteries with a single glance.

I had an appointment last week in Portland. It is the eye thing where I go in and wait and then they call me in to dilate my left eye, send me back out for twenty minutes, call me back in for a scan and send me back out for another half hour until the doctor gets caught up.

Shortly after I arrived (45 minutes early) in the waiting room a woman came in with her teen-aged son. The first thing you notice when checking in is a sign asking you to turn your cell phone off. This woman came in talking on the phone and she talked all through the check-in. She was talking to Shirley. I got to hear all about the restraining order she has against her ex-husband. I got to hear all about her mother’s goiter. I got to hear everything. I was in and out of the waiting room several times over the course of two hours, and she was still talking to Shirley. I come to find out that Shirley wasn’t her long lost sister, but rather her next door neighbor that she visits with every morning; a BFF.

I’m wondering how modern technology could have created an evil battery that can hold a charge that long. The bitch was still talking when she left, two hours later.

If a super power were ever given to me I’d like to drain cell phone batteries. I would smite all those rat bastards that drive with a phone to their ear. I’d smite all those folks that have to walk through the grocery store talking on their phones. I'd smite anyone that uses a phone in a restaurant. I’d smite anyone in a waiting room that is yakking away. I think a amendment should be added to the Oregon Clean Air Act where indoor cell phone use is regulated like it were tobacco smoke. Rat bastards, all of em.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thar Be Whales!

I had the occasion to visit the Cove in Seaside midday on Monday and there were some whales about a thousand feet off shore. Their spouts were clearly visible. Unfortunately the cove isn’t deep enough to encourage whales to breach and really show themselves like they would if they coming up from a deep dive.

I once heard stories from a surfer friend who would surf all summer at Short Sands. He told me that he often heard the whales sing when his head was in the water. Now that is pretty cool.

One can easily see whales around here in late December and again around mid-March. This is when the Gray Whales migrate from Alaska to Mexico and then back for the spring, but these summer time sightings are special. I have no idea what type of whale it was, but I’m sure one of the readers will have an answer for us.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Everybody Jump

I’m always playing catch-up. As soon as I solve one problem find another one. Having animals is a lot like having toddlers. If you’ve ever had a toddler in your house you know what measures you’ve taken to “Child Proof” your home.

When one has chickens you automatically know that you need to screen the windows in the green house and that there is no sense in having a garden if you don’t fence it. We free range our chickens during the day. Each day when I let them out they have a pattern of places they visit. They immediately eat some greens, then they take a dirt bath, then they visit the horse stalls and so on.

The other day I was putting bird netting over the blue berry patch. Too often I’ve had the experience where I was planning to harvest the blue berries on the next day and when I came out they were all gone. I now net faithfully.

As I’m setting the net a couple chickens come into the patch to scratch around, and then I notice all of them jumping up and down picking the blue berries. They can jump nearly three feet in the air and off comes another berry with every bound. I run them all out of the patch and realize I’ll have to put a barrier around the decorative fence that isn’t chicken proof.

As I said, it’s always something. Hopefully the chicken won’t tunnel their way in somehow. I want blue berries.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen

My recent post on Klaus Waldeck and his album Ballroom Stories brings to mind an adaptation he did on the old song "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen", See the video, it’s really good.

“Bei Mir Bist Du Schön” is a Yiddish song translates to "To Me You're Beautiful." Americans having trouble with Yiddish called the song, “My Dear Mr. Shane” and eventually in 1964 Smith Street Society Jazz Band created a parody called “The Bear Missed the Train.”

This song was a reoccurring theme on Jean Shepherd’s WOR New York radio show and luckily someone posted it on Youtube for our enjoyment. Excelssior Shep!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Seeing Things Differently

I was listening to Nirvana while driving to Astoria recently, I was reminded of a story. Years ago we had a magazine at the house with Nirvana on the cover. My mother-in-law was visiting and she asked if the cover was a photograph of Larry Darryl and Darryl. Too damn funny if you ask me…

Friday, July 17, 2009


I got some emails from a few of you about my products after I did the post about Burt’s Bees. I don’t normally talk about what I do, or make, or sell on the blog because I don’t want the blog to be a sales or promotional blog. However since so many of you asked I do produce a line of lip balms, and a hand and foot balm that actually puts an end to dry cracking skin. People also use it as a moisturizer.

The reason my stuff is different is mostly because it is simple with only two or three ingredients; two if unscented and three if it is scented or flavored. Most moisturizers, even the ones for sale at the Sunday Market are loaded with ingredients; many unpronounceable.

My main ingredient is meadowfoam seed oil. This is an incredible oil which is extremely stable for cosmetic manufacturing. I previously used grape seed oil which degraded quickly giving my products a shelf life of only a year. I have some meadowfoam products that I made three years ago and it is still as good as the day I made them.

I am not a chemist, but if you are interested you can get a lot of information about the history, the uses, the chemistry and biology of this remarkable seed crop that was developed and grown here in Oregon.
The website is

Meadowfoam seed oil is pretty costly. The refined oil I use cost nearly $150 a gallon with shipping. The cold pressed oil cost nearly $350 a gallon.

My other ingredient is natural bees wax. Yes, I am a beekeeper and beeswax is one of the by-products of the hives. I don’t use any chemicals or medications in my hives. This is important because honey is hydroscopic and will absorb just about anything that it comes in contact with. The wax, which is a lipid substance will also absorb anything it comes in contact with. I feel confident that my wax and honey is about as pure as it can possibly be. I haven’t gone for organic certification, mostly because I think most organic certification is bull shit and my apiary is organically cleaner than most “organic colonies” I’ve seen. However, I cannot guarantee that some of the bees haven’t visited a neighbors flowers that received a dose of miracle grow. Honey bees fly over two miles to gather nectar and pollen. Drawing a circle two miles around any hive would mean patrolling 8042.5 acres for non organic food sources. That’s a lot of land and I doubt any certifier would bother going over every acre unless there were a toxic dump within a two mile boundary.

Rich, mentioned in a comment his doubt that Africa, where Burt’s Bees gets their wax, is as pure as they claim in regards to pesticide use. One never really knows. I am pretty familiar with the flight path of my bees and I feel I can attest that I have a pretty pure product. I feel good about it and the testimonials of those that use it are more than positive about the results they achieve.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Darev recently mentioned two people he was hoping to reconnect with. The wide use of Facebook makes these opportunities more possible now, but there are still some holdouts out there.

I reconnected with someone who I loved dearly twenty-five years ago. Though times are different and both our lives have totally changed since we last saw one another we still have twenty-five years ago like we’ll always have Paris.

Oddly, one of my nephews got a call from the daughter of another friend I had for the last ten or so years before I left New Jersey. She asked if he had my contact information. Being an attorney, he didn’t want to give it out without my permission, so after contacting me he got the OK to do so.

So the other night I got a call from my friend who now lives in upper New York State. He is thirteen years older than me and when we were friends back then he had a wife and four girls; a real family man. I am now surprised his wife tolerated my presence because he and I were always doing something and up to something. I’d drag him out fishing, or out on the snow mobiles, or out horseback riding, or driving my Jeep into areas where no vehicle should ever come back in one piece. He was a pal, a friend, someone to hang out with. We did a lot of crazy things and I have never since connected with anyone on that level.

We reminisced about our adventures and what we are doing now. He’s had some health issues, but he still sounds the same, just a bit more worn, but so am I. As our phone conversation came to a close, he finally told me that the reason he called was to see if I was still alive. He said he didn’t have much hope for my survival considering all the crazy shit I did and the chances I took back in the day. He brought up specific incidences that I had for the most part forgotten. As I thought of them I had to agree. It’s a wonder I’m still alive.

OK, I know you are all nosy, but one was when I decided to drive everywhere in reverses at legal speed one night. Another was SCUBA diving into this dark well house in a lake to unplug a pipe that could have easily sucked me in had I succeeded. And there was the time I was shooting a black powder pistol in my basement and the shot ricocheted and hit me in the stomach. Another time was when I decided to drive my jeep up or down every set of stairs I could find. There are a lot incidents I’m leaving out since I’m unsure of the statute of limitations for certain offences in New Jersey and New York.

My conversation with him makes me want to go back east for a visit.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How to Artichoke

Tango and Donna commented that they’ve never had an artichoke. I’m sure there are a lot of readers out there that never comment that are in the same boat. Artichokes are one of those foods that most people that haven’t had them before look at and wonder “What the hell do you do with that?”

Artichokes are really big thistle flower buds. Their prickly characteristics are easily dealt with. Here’s what to do with them and how to eat them. I hope everyone tries one.

First choose one that feels heavier than the others at the market. The better ones will be more closed than open. When you get ready to cook it, with a knife cut the top inch off the artichoke, cut the stem as well. With a pair of scissors, cut the pointy ends off the outer leaves. Rinse the artichoke; this will infuse more moisture.

You can steam it covered pot for 20 minutes. You can also microwave it by adding two tablespoons of water to a microwave safe bowl with a cover and heat on high for 8 minutes and let stand for a few more minutes. While this is going on it is time to melt your butter or spoon out your mayo into a small bowl.

Special note to Darev, OK, I'll accept that some like mayo, but your suggestion of using Ranch is disgusting. We are talking about the king of the thistles here, not some greasy fried potato one gets from the Qwiki Mart on the way home from work. This is a delicacy, not a freakin JoJo.

To eat the artichoke, you don't actually eat the leaves, peal a leaf off the bud and dunk the part that was attached into your sauce. You put the end of the leaf that was attached to the plant into your mouth and scrape it against your teeth. What you get is a peeling of a waxy substance which is heavenly. There is more meat on the leaves the further you get into the plant. The outer two layer of leaves may even be somewhat disappointing.

Eventually you will get to a point where the leaves are very soft and tender and they are covering the core of the artichoke. Some of these leaves may be eaten entirely. They look lie the bottom left photo in the photo above. But, what they are covering is what would have become the thistle down.

With a knife or a fork, scrape away the hairy fibers and beneath that you will find the artichoke heart, the bottom row, right photo above. This is what you've been working toward the whole time. Cut up the heart and dip each morsel into your sauce and enjoy. The texture is like a cross between a mushroom and an avocado.

Artichokes are seasonal, and every bit a reason to revel as one would with their first tomato or their first watermelon of the season. And yes, you can grow artichokes in Oregon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Visit Review

This has been the year for blog meet-ups. Last month Trop came to town this month we had the honor of meeting Sacramento blogger, Lori Hahn and her wonderful partner, Danger Girl. It’s so strange meeting people that your only association with is the written word. Your mind makes up a voice for them. Though Lori has posted photos of herself in the past, I recognized her right away, but she looked better in person. She was also much quieter than I anticipated.

I also got to see a range of emotions that one never gets to see in print, like her stern parent-like disappointment that the Wet Dog only had wine in a box. But that disappointment faded into a cosmic joy on her face when Auntie bought us a round of port at the Silver Salmon. I could see the analytical senses snapping to attention as she sniffed the glass. Her eventual tasting left us all in nervous anticipation as though we were waiting to see if Elexehente’ approved and if the village would get to celebrate. She approved and all was good.

Laurie, Auntie and I discussed blogging (Danger Girl doesn’t blog) and Lori made it known that she is nearly at the end of her blog life. It is difficult for her to go on. Auntie gave up her blog, but misses it as an outlet. I on the other hand seem to keep cranking them out. I don’t know how, but the stories keep coming, however both Lori and Auntie miss the old days when I was often pissed off and jumping into local politics and wrote critically about people and places here in Dried Salmon County.

My reply, “Ehhh”, I really don’t care for politics anymore. Live and let live. My mind can still register the bull shit, but I no longer care to spin the myopic Us versus Them opinions. I still hold onto my opinions, but I just don’t write about them anymore and doubt I will ever do it again. I’ve used up just about all of my outrage and most of it doesn’t mean anything to the majority of the readers who aren’t even from here. So if you are returning here every day wondering if I will say something nasty about something or someone locally; all I can say is that those days are over. For now all I have left are stories, observations, the occasional Sick Day and the annual Death Pool.

Oh, but before I sign off for today, I’ve got a bone to pick with the Wet Dog. I took my guests there because you have a reasonably menu with a good broad selection and a great view. Why do restaurants feel that people need to be entertained while we eat? If I want entertainment I’ll go to a dinner theater. You’ve got this guy on stage singing Beatle songs through the crappiest sound system I’ve heard in a long time. The place is teaming with tourists that have to talk even louder so they can hear one another over the music. Next, how can you have an eatery with a full bar and offer only wine in a box? You didn’t have many of the beers listed on your board. The only thing that could have made it worse is if you had someone in a wet plushie dog costume going from table to table and creeping people out. I won’t be back. Rat bastards!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Star Apples

Though it is light out when I go to bed and light out when I wake up in the morning, I will occasionally wake up in the middle of the night and wander under one of the sky lights and see the stars above. I am reminded of the long all night drive that my father and brother would take to the lake in Canada.

Being the youngest I was delegated to the back seat which was fine by me. I could stretch out and sleep or move around without impediment. Best of all the sky could be viewed from back window of the car. After midnight the upper New York highways, either Rt. 17 or the Northway rarely had any traffic. There were no lights for miles at a stretch and no one behind shining their lights. The darkness brought out the stars which reminded me of the freckles on an apple.

Many years later I became acquainted with photographer, Duane Michaels. Michaels is a sequential photographer. In other words he tells stories with a sequence of photographs. On series that intrigued me was a photo of a collection of stars in the sky. The next photo one could see that the stars had changes into the freckles on an apple, the next shot had the apple in a woman’s hand and the final shot was of a woman feeding the apple to a man.

When I saw this series I was delighted that I wasn’t the only person that could see stars in apples.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Mix

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you loaded Kraftwerk, Billie Holiday, Dianna Ross, Snoop Dogg, Nelson Riddle, Palo Conti, Blossom Dearie, Angelo Badalamenti, Louis and Bebe Barron, Dave Brubeck and Bob Marley into a VW Microbus and drove them off a cliff and they landed all melded together in 1929?

Thanks to Mike from Maine, you get Klaus Waldeck and the album Ball Room Stories. Check out the video for Make My Day

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Someone Call Child Protective Services!

Occasionally one of the readers delurks and drops me a line and sends a photo. Danielle, who is the partner of my nephew, Dave sent this photo of her six month old daughter, Ava reading the Burt’s Bees post. Thanks for sharing the photo and kind words, Danielle. It's hard to believe I'm a Grand Uncle.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Artichokes and a Crazy Lady

I’ve been really digging artichokes lately. I had never had one until I moved out here. I was dating a woman in Cannon Beach nearly 20 years ago. She was a foodie and she invited me over for dinner one night, yes that was back when I would eat in front of people. She prepared artichokes as an appetizer. She said with a nervous giggle in her voice, “Artichokes are a good excuse to eat butter.”

I found out last year that she has since passed away, but every time I have an artichoke I think fondly of her and I can her voice singing her small proclamation of the dairy industry and a couple spoons of melted butter. I miss you G. You were some crazy woman and a challenge to be close to, but you made me laugh.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Junk Food Investments

I once listened to an investor talking about his failures as an investor. When shown the stock offerings from Carrols and McDonalds he decided to eat a burger from each and he decided that Carrols had a better product and service, so he invested in Carrols. That was a mistake. Though Carrols is now owned by a conglomerate with the crown jewel being Burger King.

Had I been faced with similar options in the stock history of fast foods I would have made other disastrous mistakes. Cases in point:
You’ve probably heard the story of Colonel Sanders and the success story of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He first franchised KFC in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1952. At the same time there was another fried chicken place that started franchising in Illinois in 1952. This franchise was called, “Chicken Delight.” They had a great slogan , “Don’t cook tonight, call Chicken Delight.” Better yet Chicken Delight delivered. Had I been given the choice back then I would have invested in Chicken Delight.

Another fast food investment mistake would have been between the 1950, Corpus Christi, Texas burger franchise, Whataburger and the Miami, Florida 1954 up-start Burger King. Whataburger started the whole make it your way that was copied by Burger King, and as I recall Whataburger had a flavorful burger and was much better than the first time I had a burger from Burger King.

I wonder if somewhere these franchises dropped the ball. They are all still out there, though some are very regional and have never made it to big time.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Call of the Unknown

Christine Lavin once had a song titled something like "Never Call Your Sweetheart By Their Name" It was about a woman that dated a lot of people and occasionally called her date by someone else's name. So her solution was to call all her men, Sweetheart, or Darling.

I had someone call me “Chief” the other day. The guy at the gas station calls me “Boss.” Every once in a while someone will call me “Dude.” I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone address me as “Bud” or “Bub.” When anyone addresses me as “Sir” I know they just got out of the military or prison. I’ve been called “Professor” and “Cowboy” and “Doc.” On occasion I’ve been called “Asshole” and “Douche”, but not as often as one might suspect. I’ve never been called “Pops” or “Grandpa”, but I have been called “Pappy.”

It all makes me wonder if I should have a name tag or have my name embroidered on my shirts.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


I’ve been noticing an old raccoon around my place that is showing a fearless nature lately. He has been out before dark and walking across our porch. He was seen back by where the chickens scratch by the round pen during the day.

I brought out my Have-A-Heart trap in an attempt of a raccoon relocation, but this raccoon is a smart one and I’d be willing he’s been trapped before.

The first night he went into the trap and removed the plastic bowl with the bait. He lifted it over the step plate that would have triggered the door to close.

The next night I wired a chicken carcass to the back of the cage and for this he flipped the trap on its side, walked right in and took the carcass.

The next night I wedged the trap between some boards so he couldn’t flip the trap on its side again, but the raccoon actually pulled the trap out turned it on its side, took the bones and then triggered the door to shut when he was finished.

The next night I stood the cage on end strapped it to a post figuring he would have to press against the trigger plate while climbing in or out or while eating. He got in and out without problem. I'm not quite sure what I'll try next, but I'm going to get him one way or another.

Any ideas out there? I don't have a gun and my favorite poison is no longer available.

Monday, July 06, 2009


It is odd that this is my 28th sick day post, and all during this time I have never been sick. It caught up with me this weekend and I blame it on the heat. I moved two yards of 2 inch crushed stone to a spot between two pastures where it gets really muddy. Muddy places pull off horse shoes. Though we no longer shoe our horses I had to eliminate the muck. After that I went up to Jewell to get a load of hay out of a field. This involved latching the door on the horse trailer open, driving to where a couple bales are sitting, turn off the truck, get out, load them and then drive to the next couple of bales. It was 81 degrees at 6pm in Jewell.

I went back the following morning for another load, and I felt exhausted when I finally got home around Noon, so I took a nap and woke up at 5pm. I really need to unload that hay today (Sunday) and I do feel a little better, but I bet I relapse as soon as I am done. I simply don’t do well in heat. Thankfully it is supposed to get cool here again later today.

So dear readers, forgive my lack of ability to put out a sick day post as you have grown accustomed to, but I really am sick today.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

I've Changed My Mind, Again

OK, I’ve changed my mind again. This time it’s about products from Burt’s Bees.

In the mid 1980, Burt Shcvitz was selling honey from the back of his pick-up truck. Roxanne Quimby helped him out during the summer and discovered that Burt had been saving up his wax for years. Roxanne got a book on home made products made from bees wax so she convinced Burt to join her in a venture to make candles and skin care products.

Burt was a simple guy who lived in and 8”X8” turkey coop, and from what I gathered he and Roxanne worked together for a few years and then she bought him out.

What turned me against Burt’s Bees products, was Roxanne was once interviewed and she admitted that she had no idea where her company was getting their bees wax from. Knowing what sorts of chemicals were being used in bee hives in the 90 and what awful stuff was being used in bee colonies in China at that time sent all my red flags flying.

Burt’s Bees was bought out by Clorox in 2007. I went to their website and I sent them an email asking where they got their wax from. I wanted to know if it was domestic or imported. After a week I got this reply:

"Thank you for your inquiry, our beeswax is sourced from Africa. The beeswax that we use is called "wild crafted" which means the bees are from wild and therefore pollinate in the wild. Using wild crafted beeswax there is no chance of contamination from pesticides because no pesticides are used in the wild forests.

We are aware of the recent news coverage about contaminated ingredients from certain parts of the world. Please be assured that we believe our products are safe and effective, and we do conduct product testing to this end. We have a Quality Control Department that sets standards for all incoming ingredients and outgoing product. We send all of our ingredients to be tested for contamination and only use those of pure premium quality. Further, our raw materials are purified to a cosmetic grade (cleaner then food grade less then pharmaceutical) and inspected lot by lot to meet specific standards. We choose sources from domestic, ecological, and fair trade organizations when available. We appreciate your concerns about this matter.

Burt's Bees remains committed to being 'seriously natural' and to you,our consumer. We will continue to provide you with safe and effective earth-friendly natural personal care products.

Thank you for your questions and your interest in our products!"

I am now convinced that Burt's Bees products are no longer evil. However I don't think they are as good as my products.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


OK, today is the 4th of July. Normally I take the horses out on a camping trip over the 4th because the local folks that moved out in the country from the city brought their city ways with them and they just love to make noise.

If you are one of those city folks that likes to make noise, may I suggest that all your fireworks noise freaks out the horses, dairy and beef cows, sheep and goats that your neighbors keep. There are a few shell shocked vets living out in the country as well. If you are really into the noise, perhaps you should enlist in the armed forces and volunteer to go to Afghanistan. I’m sure you’ll hear the noise that you love so much on a daily if not hourly basis.

Maybe it will just be easier not making all that noise this year. Really, don’t be a douche, please.

Friday, July 03, 2009

New Junk

Those new-fangled gizmos are meant to fool us, but do they really? We are constantly confronted with the “New and Improved” products that replace the products we once used and before we know it we can no longer find the old version that we really liked better.

I remember the first time I realized this trend of obsolesces. My brother and I were kids and we would go down to the variety store and get potato guns. These are guns that you stick the end into a potato and it extracts a cylindrical potato plug. Next, you pull the trigger and the potato plug flies through the air, not at a dangerous velocity. It was a toy and boys of that age thought it was pretty cool.

Somehow we lost out potato guns every winter, just like losing the previous year’s water pistols. It was just one of those things that got lost at the end of the season and we always looked forward to buying new ones. Oddly, one summer the metal version of the potato gun didn’t appear in any of the variety stores. They were replaced by a plastic version, which we welcomed because they were lighter and more colorful.

A problem with the plastic version quickly came to the surface. The problem was that they were easy to break. Stick it the potato at the wrong angle and the barrel would snap off.

Since that day I notice that more and more original formulas have been lost at every turn in life. When was the last time you had eye glasses that were actually made of glass?

We used to have a toaster oven that could turn out toast in two minutes. We replaced it with a toaster that had to be programmed and it takes close to ten minutes to toast an Eglish muffin.

Another recent disappointment was with cell phones. Fortunately I’m safe for now but who know for how long. My wife and I got matching cell phones several years ago. They were LG phones and what I liked about them is the display has an easy to read clock. I charge mine up every time I get in the truck, and the battery still holds a good charge. My wife lets her phones discharge totally before recharging, so her LG phone was totally dead within two years and of course the battery is now obsolete. She had to get a new phone but her new one had only a small viewing window, like a prison cell window. I had to put on my bifocals just to read the time on her phone. She wore that phone out and she now has a new one, and I’m not even sure her new one has a clock display.

Folks, I’m afraid things aren’t getting any better. Treasure what you have because the replacement isn't going to be better.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Women and Chocolate

I know there is a strange bond or relationship between women and chocolate. It isn’t just a menstrual connection either though a cycle can intensify the desire.

I was visiting with the Blue Mamba the other day and she was “Masticating” a piece of this chocolate pie. The pie was a quadruple chocolate threat. It had a chocolate crust, chocolate goo with dark chocolate goo on top of that with chunks of chocolate scattered about liberally. After its consumption Blue Mamba resembled a cat that had just self medicated itself with catnip. She was docile and smiled contently and looked for a place to nap.

I’m in touch with my feminine side, but damn that was way too much chocolate. Men neither desire nor can they physically handle chocolate to that degree without their testosterone tanking out for a few days following an eating event such as that.

One cool thing about chocolate and living with a woman is that I have learned to always have chocolate hidden, so when a mood turns sour, out come the chocolate and peace is immediately restored.

For Amy:

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Turning the calendar page to July reminded me of the angst and anticipation I felt as a young school aged boy. The steel mill where my father worked would close for two weeks every July for facility maintenance. This meant we would be again returning to Canada, to what I considered a paradise.

Turning the calendar to July always brings back these memories for me, every year. Another summer bellwether for me is a song. It is a song that has been around since 1957 and it seems that I hear it only once a year, but it is a song of revelry and celebration for the summer and how it’s really OK to play and enjoy yourself.

The song is by the Jamies and I’m sure few of you have ever heard their name, but I’m sure you’ve heard this song. Click the blue hyper text below to hear it.

Happy Summer everyone!

If you want to sing along:

Its summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime summertime...

Well shut them books and throw em away
Say goodbye to dull school days
So come on and change your ways
Its summertime...

Well no more studying history
And no more reading geography
And no more dull geometry
Because its summertime

Its time to head straight for them hills
Its time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball
A regular free-for-all

Well are you comin or are you ain`t
You slow-pokes are my one complaint
Hurry up before I faint
Its summertime

Well Im so happy that I could flip
Oh how Id love to take a trip
Im sorry teacher but zip your lip
Because its summertime

It`s time to head straight for them hills
It`s time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball
A regular free for all

Well we`ll go swimmin every day
No time to work just time to play
If your folks complain just say,
Its summertime

And every night we`ll have a dance
Cause whats a vacation without romance
Oh man this jive has me in a trance
Because its summertime

It`s time to head straight for them hills
It`s time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball A regular free for all
Its summertime

Its summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime