November 28, 2008 – Thanksgiving

We motored up to Rochester for Thanksgiving. Mom ended up with a houseful – about 20 folks all together.

This photo reveals some of the day’s elements – Emma counted 13 different desserts, cousin brought a great selection of microbrews from Madison, we brought a turkey and cousins got to run around like maniacs.  Lots of time to catch up and eat well!

one year ago…”I Never Wait Until the Last Minute ; ) “.

November 26, 2008 – Boy Work

There’s important work for boys to do.

Here, Martin is busy kicking rocks and sand off a ledge into the abandoned quarry below. Later on, it was important to throw rocks out onto the ice to test the thickness. It’s also a good time to test rock skipping. Other important work includes breaking sticks down into smaller pieces by beating them against tree trunks or the ground.

one year ago…”Winter’s Coming”.

November 25, 2008 – Waiting for Turkeys

I was up at 5 am to bring the turkeys to Milo, about 30 miles south of Des Moines.  It’s first-come first serve and my turkeys got in about 11:00.  Then it was about a three hour wait until they chilled in ice water so they could be transported.  After dropping some off in Ames, it was home about 6:30.  In the three hour wait, I visited a park close by the locker, Lake Ahquabi State Park.

There was a unique structure out at the end of a dock.

Inside the structure was an opening that went to the lake.  It was an indoor fishing shack.  Could be handy on a wet or hot day!

one year ago…”Last Lambs of the Season”.

November 24, 2008 – Loading Turkeys

Thanks to Martin, the turkeys look good and are ready to go.  The second day we had the turkeys, Martin sheepishly asked us if he could take care of the turkeys.  We anointed him primary turkey feeder and waterer.  About a week or so into the turkey care, we went to bed one night, but Martin had snuck a note on our pillow thanking us for letting him take care of the turkeys.  Evidently, it was important for him to have a significant chore, and so he did.

The turkeys will be fresh for Thanksgiving, heading to the locker tomorrow.

one year ago…”Change of Season”.

November 22, 2008 – Stringtown Grocery Visit

Near Kalona Iowa is an Amish-run grocery store that we find to be quite fun to shop. On this trip we found 4 oz jelly jars that are not available in any of the usual places, and even online, we found few, and the ones we did find would be about $30/dozen jars after shipping. We found them at Stringtown for $6.98. Earlier in the year, we found a sleeve of 30 dozen canning lids that we purchased.

This horse and buggy are in the horse parking lot next to the store. The store is lit by gas lights, has the old wooden floor and lots of bulk items repackaged into smaller packages.  We had also hoped to go the the “Scratch-n-Dent” store next door, but arrived at 3:05 and it closes at 3:00 on Saturdays.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #96″.

November 19, 2008 – Tractor Repair

I called the John Deere dealer to see if they could tell me what was wrong with the tractor (the starter would keep cranking even when the key was out) and they said it sounded like a bad solenoid.

I’m not much of a motorhead, and only had a vague idea of what a solenoid did or where it was even located on the tractor engine, but I figured if I went in to buy the new solenoid, I would see what it looks like and then could find it on the engine.  I did and found the solenoid on the right side of the tractor and only had to remove one panel – the solenoid is the thing attached with the red cable. There is much skepticism in the family that I can make the repair myself without damaging the tractor.  My first step was to take a picture of the existing solenoid so I could see where the wiring goes on the new installation.  It was too cold today to do the work.

one year ago…”The Turkeys”.

November 18, 2008 – Handy Blogging Archive Software

One of the unintended benefits of the this blog is as a “scrapbook” of sorts for our kids. I think it will be a hoot for the kids to look at in years to come. The only problem is that the software I use to create it requires server software and all the info is stored in a database – so doing a backup of the site is all fine and good, but will not be something you can put on a cd or flash drive and view – it requires the web host server to work.

I found some free software called HTTrack which captures an HTML mirror (copy) of a web site you indicate. So, now I have an offline copy of the blog that only needs a web browser to view and that is portable and can be viewed on any computer.

one year ago…”Digging Gladiolas”.

November 17, 2008 – Can Anything Else Break Today?

I’ve had these kinds of days before. The day usually starts out on good footing. Today, for example. I was able to get the to get the town job work and other minor things done in the morning and started on the day’s farm work. After about an hour of steady getting things put away for the winter, I was thinking I’m really not getting that much done. That was my first mistake.

An energy pulse from the universe said, “He thinks he’s not getting anything done, we’ll show him what that really means!”

#1 Failure: Yesterday we tested out the chick brooder we bought at the auction, and to my surprise, it worked wonderfully – even the small red bulb under the brooder worked – the thermostat worked and was even linked to an exterior white bulb that lit up when the heating element was on and went off when the heating element cycled off – pure luxury. Since we didn’t get new laying hens, ours are 2-3 years old and really slowing down, so we ordered some laying hen chicks (pullets) set to arrive tomorrow. So I moved the brooder to the brooding building, set up a cardboard shelter around it to keep drafts out and even made a partial roof.

Then the brooder never warmed up. Eventually I turned it over to see if I could see what was wrong – and either due to moving it or energizing the heating element caused it to break. Fortunately our neighborhood electrician was parked nearby in an empty grain truck, waiting for a load from the combine in the adjacent field. I asked him if there was a special way to mend a semi-coiled heating element.

He told me where to go at his place to get the tools and connectors to fix it while he got loaded and dumped his truck in town. I retrieved the tools, but the wire was just too old and brittle and kept breaking whenever we tried working with it. So, that meant dragging it out and trying scrounge up working heat lamps, bulbs and necessary extension cords and a different enclosure.

#2 Failure:  A couple of weeks ago I needed to put a new catalytic converter in on of the cars after the check engine light went on.  The light went away, but now it’s back.  I’m afraid it might have been the sensor and not the converter that was bad.

#3 Failure: The blower fan on the corn stove gave up the ghost.  Needs a new one and will need some new wiring as well.  It’s something I can do, but have to wait for the part to arrive in the mail.

#4 Failure:  One of the tractor tires was low, so I was going to start it up and move it to the air compressor.  I turned the key and pressed the silver start button and the starter cranked away weakly and I release the button and turned the key off, but the tractor kept trying to start and after about 45 seconds of cranking, the battery died.  First step was trying to recharge the battery, but the battery freaked out the chargers, so something was amiss.  By this time daylight was fading, dinner wasn’t even a thought and the kids were ready to be picked up at the bus.

one year ago…”Doesn’t Get More Old Fashioned than This”.