Monday, November 29, 2010

Found It!

As you may know, we split our time between our home in the Finger Lakes area of NY and Vermont.  Recently, work brought me to Vermont.  I went to the local library in town and rediscovered a favorite book of mine, "The Soul of Lambs - a Fable".  It is a book by a local shepherd / writer / teacher named Don Mitchell.  Don is noted for his Upcountry books, following his life moving to Vermont and raising sheep and his family.  This book is a piece of fiction which explores a widowed shepherds life raising sheep.  It brings out themes about stewardship and the cycles of life.  It really resonated with me.  My daughter worked on the Mitchell farm one spring during lambing season.  While working there one cold night she helped bring a lamb into the world.  What a great experience for her -  and a great memory for me and Mrs. Tractor!    I will need to find a copy for my library.  If you get a chance to read it, let me know what you think!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Snow

It was below freezing this morning - and we had our first dusting of snow.  It did not accumulate, and was melted by noon.  Still, it the start of things to come.  I love the snow.  Bring it on!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Further Adventures at Packrat Pat's

We went to Indiana to visit our daughter and her family for Thanksgiving.  We had a great time.  Our daughter set out a wonderful meal!  We also got to spend a lot of time with our granddaughter.  She looks just like our daughter did at that age.  What a treat.

We also did a quick trip to Packrat Pat's antique shop.  I dug through the racks and piles, and found a few things.  The most interesting was a mid / late 20th century hand-thrown vase signed by a someone named John Patterson.  It had the same color palette as a previous crock I bought there.  However, the form and hand was quite different.  We liked the colors and the uniqueness of the piece.

The proprietor said that it, like the other piece, was made by a local pottery guild in the South Bend, IN area.  It was known as the '100 Club'.  I'd like to find out more about it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Walking Up Spook Hill

It has been grey, wet and windy the last few days.  I took a walk up the road over Spook Hill.

It's been very mild lately, yet the grey skies and steady winds really make it feel somber.  Wood smoke and a light fog hang around the ridges.  A crew was working on the hillside cutting timber and hauling out some logs.  The whir of chainsaws seemed to drown out the wind, but as I moved up the road, the sound of the chainsaw was muted.  I had to make sure I stopped once in a while to just listen to the dried leaves rustling.  It was somewhat eerie as I heard no birds.  A storm was coming in and I sensed they were getting ready to wait it out.

I came across an old sickle bar mower right by the side of the road.  I could tell it was there a long time as trees were growing through its frame.  The thought crossed my mind briefly to look it over closely, but it is not my property.  Though it isn't posted land, one must always respect boundaries.

I continued up Spook Hill.  I was getting hot walking up the steep grade (10% or better).  I took off my sweater.  As I got to the top I turned around.  Only then did I realized that we had a strong southerly breeze.  As I looked out over the valley, I could see a storm coming in.  The air was heavy with mist.  Periodically, a stray raindrop came down.  I walked down the hill.  With the wind blowing on me, I got cold.  I put my sweater back on and walked down the road.

By the time I got back home, it was starting to drizzle.  It was a quiet, retrospective walk - a good one for gathering your thoughts.

Winter is not far away.  Once it hits, I will cease my walks up Spook Hill.  I await our first snowfall . . .

Monday, November 15, 2010

Old Water Works

On a ride yesterday, I noticed the remnants of an old water works near the road (on Route 79 east of the town of Richford, NY).

(Sorry about the picture quality - I had to splice a couple of cell phone photos together...)

A small stream follows the road, and a man-made foundation for a water wheel of related water works was evident.  The grade of the stream on this section is around 7%.  I assume it was for either an undershot or breastshot wheel.  You could also see where the channel was lined / surfaced with concrete.   I'd love to know more about this structure. I need to ask the local historical society for more info. Any thoughts?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

World Diabetes Day

Though this is not normally the type of blog entry I would post, it is a topic I care about.

World Diabetes Day Blue Circle Logo

Sunday, November 14th is World Diabetes Day.  As you may have read in the news, the rate of late onset (Type 2) diabetes is increasing in the Western World.  Both my parents suffered from Type 2 diabetes.  They both were heavy smokers.  My dad developed heart disease, and passed away over 8 years ago as a consequence of cancer.  My mom suffered a series of strokes, and ultimately lost both her lower legs due to her diabetes.  Mom also died 8 years ago.  They were both young.  Dad died at the age of 68, while Mom was 65.

Type 2 diabetes is not a death sentence.  It is very manageable, and can be avoided with proper diet, weight management, and exercise.

I hope you consider your lifestyle choices each and every day.  Today I rowed my first marathon of the year.  I usually row 1 million meters a year, love to cycle, and just keep active.  I know I need to keep active (as both my parents suffered from Type 2 diabetes, I am at a higher risk than the general public).  I want to be around a long time to give my grandchildren (and future great-grandchildren) tractor rides!

Take care.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


On this Veteran's Day, I thought I'd take a few minutes to thanks those who have helped to keep us safe.

My Son-in-Law

My Dad

My Father-in-Law

My wife and I are very proud of these guys.  Please take a moment to remember your family, friends, and neighbors.

Monday, November 8, 2010


We went back to standard time last Sunday.  The sun appears to rise 1 hour earlier, but it sets 1 hour sooner.  As the days get shorter, I'll be going to work in the dark soon.

When I left for work this morning (about 7:15 AM), the sun was up.  As I made my way to work, I could see that the world seemed to have turned brown.  The leaves were off the trees, the plants were all brown.  The stands of goldenrod stood beaten down - their golden tops withered and tan.

When I left work at 6:00 tonight, it was dark, cold and rainy.  What a depressing feeling.  A long day at work, cold, wet weather, poor visibility for my commute home.  What an unpleasant evening.  It was good to get home and see that my wife put the porch light on for me.

This is one of my least favorite times of year.  We haven't hit the holiday season.  There is no snow to enjoy (yes my southern readers - some of us actually like the snow!).  It is dark when I get home, so I can't get a ride on my bike.  The world is shutting down, getting ready for the coming winter.

Like I always say:

No Sun,
No Snow,
No Color,

What do you think?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Smell A Conspiracy...

I was about the yard doing some cleanup. I raked out the shade garden and few other flower beds, moved some old annuals to the compost bins, dropped the mower deck from the tractor and put on the snow plow blade, wheel weights and chains.

While I was working by the shade garden, I noticed a lot of spruce bough tips about the yard.  We are not talking just a few, but dozens and dozens and dozens.  I've raked them up several times already.

Yeah, I know branches and boughs fall of the trees from time to time, but I think the varmints are up to something.

A few years ago we had dozens of spruce cones piled up against 2 of the spruce trees in the front yard.  It seemed very unnatural.  A pile of cones right at the base of 2 trees (not all the trees - just 2 of them) - and only on the south side of the trees mind you!  Well, that year we ended up having a family of red squirrels in our basement.  The cones were a food stash they had created.

Now, I see tons of spruce tips about.  I sense the varmints are up to something . . . but what?

Ideas anyone?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I've Been Tagged

Mr. Simpleton from Living a Simple Life blog posted a list of things he wished he could do.  Surprisingly, we had a lot of common wishes.  He challenged a number of his readers to post their list (this included me).  So...

I accept his request!

My List:

Learn to blacksmith
Get proficient in making wood block prints
Sculpt something in stone
Make a doll house for my granddaughter
Recognize more than 8 types of ducks and waterfowl
Grow cilantro so that it doesn't bolt and go to seed
Know the constellations
Know more about mushrooms
Make beer

Mr. Simpleton had a number of items on his list that I also would like to learn, including:

Learn a foreign language (French, Italian or German are at the top of the list)
Know all plants (including weeds) in the area
Wilderness survival

If you want to learn some old-time knowledge, I recommend the Foxfire books.  They have recently been reprinted, but you can find them used.

(Though I want to learn all this stuff, you have to leave some stuff so you always have a goal for the future).

I now tag the following people to post their lists...

Regan at A Day in the Life
Mountain Woman at Red Pine Mountain
Ga Farm Woman at Life on a Southern Farm

Keep it going!