February 28, 2005 – In Remembrance

On this day in 1979, one of the most beloved character actors of all time died. Mr. Ed was an inspiration to thousands of horses world-wide. His wildly popular talking horse TV show is what “Ed” was most well-known for, but to his death, he refused to believe that was his defining moment.

But like Kramer on Seinfeld, the Palomino and his role were never to be eclipsed. Sure, there were the attempts to branch out – he tried to introduce talking horses into Westerns, but at the time, Westerns were in decline, although Mel Brooks wished Ed was alive when Blazing Saddles was filmed. Ed’s role as a Lassie replacement was a failure as he could not master a barking sound, and his stint as the original Meathead on “All in the Family” ended prematurely when Ed was horsing around and made an off the hoof remark about Sally Struther’s weight.

Yesterday, I heard Killdeer calling in the back pasture. So spring is near, although, today’s strong north winds tell us not to get too excited.

February 26, 2005 – Got Goat

Paullina joined high hopes today. She is due to give birth April 5. Last year she had 3 female kids! She is 4 years old and we will post Paulinna’s photo on the web site soon so you can all meet her. Pauline is less than the perfect Nubian dairy goat as she evidently had her ears frozen at birth, and lacks the classic long ears of her kind.

Today Martin described himself as “Mr Cranky Pants” and no one argued with him. This accurate self-assessment will no doubt serve him well in the future. Besides class all morning and fetching goat, that is about the day. Tomorrow we can try to look at our outside fences and see (it won’t take long for the goat to show us) where they need a little help.

February 25, 2005 – Web Site Updates

Finally got the website update/redesign finished today. Still have lots to add, but for now, it is at least a bare bones presence. Was able to get outside some with Martin. We hauled and stacked Wednesday’s woodcutting. Martin is excited to become a “goatkeeper.” Tomorrow goat arrives. We made the mistake of reading the goat book, especially the what can go wrong in labor section. It’s a good thing I read the James Herriot books long ago, so I will be prepared for any eventuality.

February 24, 2005 – Got your Goat?

It’s all but official now. Permanent goat will be coming to high hopes. We have in the past performed goat-sitting, but we have just committed to buying a bred nanny. Our motivation is simple – we may nevermore run out of milk. The doe is set up to come in two days and should give birth within a month. At that time, the milking will commence. Of course, there are the minor details like building a milking stanchion and making sure the fences where goat will trod are goatproof. Daughters have promised to care for goat to best of their abilities. I’m sure this is just the first chapter of many revolving around goat.

February 23, 2005 – Guiness Book Socks?

We finally had a sunny, calm day. I managed to get one chain saw gas tank of wood cut up but not hauled and piled. Also worked some more on surveys of on-farm stores and local consumers.

Today I finally attacked the mismatched sock pile. Is there a world record for mismatched socks for a household? I managed to reunite 54 pairs of socks with partners. How does a family manage to accumulate 108 socks with partners that are not matched up? Is it matter of good fortune? Dumb Luck? Neglect? And how can the family function with 54 pairs of socks out of the rotation? Indeed, it appears the age of miracles is still with us.

February 22, 2005 – Worlds Colliding

Today was a 12 hour office day. The hours were just a pause in a greater adventure. I started reading Dan Brown’s Deception Point last night about 8:00 and read until I fell asleep, read during breakfast, during lunch and when I got home until the book was finished. I knew the book had took hold when it was more real than the real world. A check of Yahoo! news always left me momentarily surprised that the meteorite discovery and espionage were not headlining the news. Each glance at the TV in the break area left me disappointed that the video feed from the events was not being shown as described in the book.

For anonymous: “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”
Pablo Picasso

February 21, 2005 – Dark Walker

Today was too much computer time – continued work on updating web pages (not yet published), working on surveys for the on-farm store, LLC draft documents, and getting the news that a 50 lb bag of organic turkey food jumped from $11 last summer to $17 today. Must be a good time to be an organic grain farmer!

After dinner, I needed to get out, so Claire and Martin and I went out for a walk in the evening darkness. Martin (age 3) was initially bewildered how you could go out for a walk at night without a light. He keeps a light on in his closet, and from his vantage point, looking out the window, it does look pretty dark out there.

We walked to the back pasture, Martin bravely walking behind us. He tired after about 10 minutes of walking, so Claire hoisted him up on her back. He soon tired of holding on, so he walked again. When we decided it was time to go back, we asked Martin to be our “dark walker” and lead us back home. There was a light snowfall, so it was cloudy, but not as dark as it could have been. He took his duty seriously and marched us right back home without delay.

February 20, 2005 – Dead Dogs on the Side of the Road

Another grey, wet/snowy muddy day. After church the “Secret Friends” lunch was held. As Martin is too small to have a secret friend, his secret friend (Dad) took him out to lunch. He was very grown-up sitting across from me, snarfing his beef-broccoli stir fry. As we were driving to the restaurant, we saw a policeman and Martin said the policeman was gong to lunch. When we left, we met a policeman at the door and he stopped and chatted with Martin and handed out some police deputy stickers! Doesn’t get much better than that.

Linda and Claire went for a walk and April took off from them and they had to return later to get her. They also (the dogs) found a dead dog in the ditch. They didn’t recognize it and wondered if it was just dumped there? It must have been a bad week for dogs as two families in church had to put their dogs asleep as well. We also were planned to host a 4-H “dog agility” training today that was canceled. Hmmm.

February 19, 2005 – Catch a Breath

Today allowed some non-task time. The morning was the Growing Your Small Market farm class, followed by an hour of college basketball (Cyclones eking one over #2 Kansas). It was rainy/snowy outside, so no more woodcutting or anything else of consequence, although I did drag the waste boards and Christmas wreathes to the burn pile. Linda missed class because she was showing 4-H kids how to make soap. I was able to start revamping the web site, which as Linda says “is like quilting for me.”

February 18, 2005 – Turtles Lurking

Although it is still early in the season, it seems that a turtle is crawling out of the mud and commenting on this blog. They say turtles are one of the wisest totems and have been thought of that way for a long time. I think this turtle is no exception.

Stopped in for lunch at the “Alternatives in Agriculture” conference today put on by local extension, (thank you Sally Wilson) and was a able to meet some more interesting people.

Spent some more time going through the paperwork to set up the LLC. Was trying to get a checking account set up, but found out you can no longer get a checking account for an LLC until you have the Federal EIN number, so that goes on hold until another bit of paperwork gets completed.

It was nice to have an “average” February day – about 36 and sunny. Most of the snow is gone, except for the blazingly white drifts along the ditches and crests of hills.

February 17, 2005 – Tech Writing 4500 BC

Many people don’t have a clue about what a technical writer does. Here’s a description of a tech writer from Ptahotep from 4500 BC that nails it!

Be a scribe!
Your body will be sleek, your hand will be soft.
You are the one who sits grandly in your house;
your servants answer speedily; beer is poured copiously;
all who see you rejoice in good cheer. Happy is the heart of him who writes;
he is young each day.

February 16, 2005 – Wet Boots Continued

A few days ago I mentioned the girls went to the “pond.” Today, I was cleaning out the mudroom and found the boots weighed about three times their normal weight. Now some of the weight was mud on the outside, but the majority was the wet liners.

It must be a curse and a blessing to be aided by foresight. A person with foresight would know that the next time the boots were worn, they would still be wet after staying in a room that is around freezing for a number of days. Of course, having this knowledge would require action. But in this case, sister 2 did indeed make an intervening trip and did have the experience of putting on the wet boots – the answer – wear your sister’s boots. When asked about the wet boots and what she thought would happen the next time she wanted to wear boots, she said she still had a dry pair at school!

February 15, 2005 VFW Day

Tonight we were guests at VFW Post 839, Marshalltown, Iowa to honor essay contest winners. Claire won the Middle School contest and we were treated to dinner and a program of the elementary through high school winners reading their essays.

There was salad along with the sloppy joes and chips for dinner, which is unusual in the Central Iowa food desert as some have tagged the propensity for a dinner to include the basic food groups of meat (optional cheese) chips, and pop. Hats off to the Auxiliary for including salad.

The program was better than I expected. It seems like the winners stressed freedom – freedom of practice or religion, freedom to pursue your dreams, freedom to speak out against your government, and of course, recognizing the veterans who have served. I’ve always wondered how come we don’t really honor veterans on Veteran’s Day by giving all Veterans the day off from work and keeping the postal workers and government workers on the job…