October 31, 2007 – Presidential Parade!

Living in Iowa as we do, I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the parade of presidential candidates testing their message here.

Members of our family have already seen Barack Obama, John Edwards, John McCain, and we know people who have introduced Hillary Clinton on stage and hosted a house meeting with Sam Brownback (the Clinton-Brownback introducees/hosts were different people in case you are wondering!).  So it’s not far from the truth when people say each candidate has been in every living room in the state.  I have been terribly undecided so far and since they moved the caucuses to January 3, I won’t be able to participate in the caucuses.  So, I lose my voice in the process this year after being the precinct chair for the last caucus.  Unlike most of the country, Marshall County is divided quite evenly politically, with about 1/3 registered Republicans, 1/3 registered Democrats, and 1/3 registered independents.  So in some ways, this part of the state is a good representation of the nation.

one year ago…

October 29, 2007 – City Smoke, Country Smoke

This afternoon a big fire and plume of smoke resulted from a solvent/chemical warehouse blowing up in Des Moines.

Here’s a picture from a local TV station showing the fire at mid-afternoon.  It’s still burning at 8:30 pm, but they have reopened I-35, I-80, and I-235 after shutting them down for a good portion of the afternoon. As I-80 is the busiest cross-country interstate in the nation, it made a huge mess to detour the interstate via city streets.  The wind is SW, which means the smoke is blowing in our general direction. What made me scared is that this warehouse is adjacent to a natural gas storage facility – you can see some of the tanks in the left-hand side of the photo.  Had the wind been different, I wonder if the gas tanks could hold back the barrage of 55 gallon flaming barrels shooting out of the plant?

Here, out in the country, this is the view to our east as you can see the wisps of smoke from the fire, at this point, about 45 miles away from the fire.  Officials claim the air is safe to breathe.

one year ago…

October 28, 2007 – Rare Breed Chickens “Silver Campine”

The rare breed chickens the girls purchased a few months ago are growing up! 

There’s really no way to describe them other than “chickeny” with their black, white and red coloring, long legs, and chicken strut. The bird in the foreground is a “Silver Campine” a breed originating in Belgium and came out of favor when the commercial chicken industry got off the ground after WWII and the industry standardized on a few breeds and left many of the other breeds behind.

one year ago…

October 27, 2007 – Planting Garlic

Today was a catch-up day.  We missed the window of opportunity to plant garlic and fall bulbs early in the month, and it has just been way too soggy up to now to get in the garden.  So today we got the garlic in and some purple allium, and three kinds of peonies (Duchesse de Nemours -white, Sarah Bernhardt -pink, and Red Magic – red).  We also collected a bunch of seeds from flowers and beans, among other things.

A few days ago, I wouldn’t have bet that I’d be able to dig this trench with the tractor.  Our neighbor filled our two wagons with corn and I went out after I got home from work after dark to haul them back home.  On the way home, the tractor seemed like it was running a very rough and might not make it home.  In my paranoia, it seemed like the exhaust had a white tinge to it, but it was night, and I hadn’t yet run the tractor at night, so I wasn’t sure what it looked like normally at night.  My fear was coolant in the combustion chambers.  Or, I thought maybe the heavy load was straining it because one of the wagon wheels was nearly locked?  But when I got home and stopped the tractor, it still was acting up.  I turned it off and a few minutes later it wouldn’t start.  So I went and got the 2nd wagon with the truck (I felt some urgency as rain was possible in the forecast) and felt lucky not to get stuck in the soft waterway with a two wheel drive truck and gravity wagon full of corn and a dead tractor unable to pull myself out.

Over the night, ruminating about how much a cracked head or other major repair would cost, I remember an old mechanic telling me that if I ever put gas that had a mixture of ethanol in an engine that had not run it before, it would dissolve and break loose all kinds of gunk that might be in the gas tank/fuel system.  I may have grabbed a gas container that had ethanol in my rush to get out in the field.  So in the morning I thought I’d drain the carburetor and check out the gas, and if necessary drain the gas tank and start over.  But after draining all the gas out of the carburetor, it started up and ran just fine – so I am attributing the problem to a fuel line problem that has worked it self out.

Having the tractor to dig trenches to plant garlic, gladiolias, and potatoes is a huge back and time saver.


one year ago…