Friday, March 29, 2013

Welcome Home for Easter

 I heard them before I saw them.
There was the sound of beating wings and an occasional call from a Canada Goose. 
I don't know what they were expecting, but they didn't find water when they landed on the lake.
I haven't found a sprout among the little pots of seeds that I have planted. I made the pots as directed  here.
But I didn't get around to planting until earlier this week.  
There is nothing green anywhere in GriggsDakota. The Canada geese will get by somehow as they build nests, and lay eggs. Shortly after the ice leaves the lake, there will be goslings. New Life. It seems like part of the Easter miracle to me. Easter brings the opportunity for new life.
From the Manger
to the Last Supper.
Our Hope is in an Empty Cross and an Empty Tomb.
Christ has risen, He has risen, indeed!
Happy Easter, with Love from all of us in GriggsDakota.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stetson Hats

Originally published here in 2010, I thought you might like to see it again.
There's nothing quite as distinguished looking as a man in a Stetson hat. In GriggsDakota that has always been true. When I was young, a Stetson hat was a particular soft gray color and shape. Western to be sure, but not a cowboy hat. Like a fedora with a wider brim. It was a gentleman's hat, a cattleman's hat, Grandpa's hat, Dad's hat. I've discovered it is hard to find old photos of men in their Stetsons. Good manners ruled that that the hat was removed as the wearer stepped indoors, or in the presence of a woman. Unless, I suppose, she particularly wanted a photo of her man in his Stetson.
Here is Farmer Fred's grandfather in his Stetson.

My dad's best friend married his sister. Uncle Dan wore a Stetson to work in cities all over the country. I remember walking with Uncle Dan down the sidewalks of Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. He was a successful businessman. He was in his Stetson, dark suit and dress coat. My aunt and I were in our best winter outfits and coats. He took us out to lunch and I have never forgotten the joy of that day. Dan's Stetson hat had connected me and my world to this world of dark suits. I believed that I could belong there.
After I grew up, I learned that a seed company gave farmers a Stetson hat as a premium for buying seed. That explained my Dad's Stetson and the hats I saw while I was growing up. These hats last a long time or perhaps forever. There are specialty cleaners that carefully clean and restore well worn hats. Stetsons are truly a long term investment.
A few years later, and many years ago, I had a chance to visit the Stetson Hat Factory in St. Joseph, Missouri. It was that day that I learned Stetson made all kinds and colors of beautiful western hats.
 Nearly any beautiful cowboy hat I had ever seen could have been a Stetson Hat. They had a factory outlet store in a little corner of the plant. We arrived shortly after eight in the morning. The store was just opening and we were the only customers. I asked if a tour of the plant could be arranged. The gentleman in charge told me no. OSHA would not allow tours anymore. Too much risk involved. I was disappointed and I guess it showed on my face, because the gentleman began to tell me about the operation and let me peek back into the factory where I could see thousands of Stetson boxes.
He showed me the beautiful satin lining in the hats. He explained the X's on the inner hat band. These indicate the amount of beaver fur used in the felt. The more X's, the more fur and the higher quality of the hat. I learned that a five X is a good hat, ten X is a luxury item and a twenty X was the best that Stetson made.
We bought hats that day and returned to the store a couple more times over the years to buy more hats. The same friendly Missouri gentleman was there every time we came. He gave me a John B. Stetson hat pin with the JBS brand on it and a little card that said "Like hell it's yours. Put it back, it's a Stetson." It had a place to put an address and phone number in case the owner and hat were ever separated. The card fit into the inner hat band. It is meant to deter thieves and I believe it does. We still have our hats.
American made Stetson hats are less popular than they once were. Stetson closed the original plant in Philadelphia in 1971 and the St. Joseph, Missouri plant in 2004. My research tells me that there is still an outlet store in St. Joe, but the factory is now in Garland, Texas. If you are interested in the history of the company Click Here for a link where you can learn more. The hat may not make the man, but he will certainly look more distinguished in a Stetson.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Installing Guidance in our Tractors

 There were a couple of guys from an area dealership in the shop with boxes and tools working in the tractor cabs of our CaseIH 8930 and 8950 tractors.
They were installing E-Z Pilot Assisted Steering System by Trimble. Click on the link to learn more about this system. 
The guys were installing monitors in the tractor that ensure no coverage overlap as the tractor pulls equipment. We don't want any skips or double coverage as the tractors pull equipment over the fields.
I was a bit alarmed to see the tractor's steering wheel thrown on the floor of the shop. 
Hands free with no steering wheel does not seem like a good idea to me.
 So it was great relief that I found a brand new steering wheel next to some boxes nearby.
 Farming is becoming increasingly technology driven. The cost of production has gotten so high that we must conserve passes over the field. By using E-Z Pilot, we save fuel and input costs while ensuring that every inch of the field is covered. To accomplish this feat, the E-Z Pilot communicates with a satellite and sends information back. The operator in the tractor cab can read the information on a monitor, but the E-Z Pilot actually steers the tractor as it makes its way across the field.
 And, if the tractor is hooked to a sprayer, the monitor allows the operator to apply a perfect coverage without overlap or skips.
We are waiting for the 2013 farming season in GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Salvage and Scrap

Every piece of equipment in GriggsDakota has a span of usefulness. Often, when that time has passed, the machine is traded and sold. Its use continues, perhaps with some refurbishment, perhaps with less use. 
 When that isn't possible, we proceed with a process of salvage and scrap. That process involves removing the useful parts from the the equipment  and selling the rest for scrap iron. 
Sometimes, we pull a piece of equipment out of the way and remove parts from it as we need it. Sometimes, we haul the scrap to Pete's Salvage as Farmer Fred did a couple of years ago. Other times we haul it to a metal dealer. 
 The old Concord Air Till Drill had reached the end of its useful life as a drill. 
There are useful parts that we can remove and save to use on the newer drills that we still use. 
The old drill was worth less than the sum of its parts. I think that a math rule applies here. 
That math rule, which is always true as I recall, would dictate that the parts would be worth more than the drill as a whole. 
So the guys have been pulling out worn down pins and cutting tired bolts. 
 There are piles of wires, belts, and hoses.
There are shanks, shovels and springs.
 And there is scrap iron.
 It is cut down to fit in our trailer. 
 As I was watching this process, I started thinking that I could find a use for that nice looking grate. It is too heavy to stand on end as a trellis. I guess it is better to let it go.
 There is value in the scrap iron that will be hauled away and sold. 
I could buy a nice new trellis that wouldn't cause harm or damage if it blew over in the winds of GriggsDakota.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Winter in Spring

 It is Spring 2013 in GriggsDakota!
A year ago, in Spring 2012, we had real Spring weather, but such is life in GriggsDakota.
 We held our 2013 Garden Day on Saturday and served pie.
The auditorium was filled with optimists.
And no one had to stay home and mow the lawn, like they did last year, in 2012 when it was really Spring.
This is the road of Spring 2013. 
Where every single daytime high temperature has been well below normal for a couple of months. 
And yet we know that this very road will lead us to Spring. 
Spring may arrive suddenly, with a rush of warm wind and a gush of cold water. 
Spring may trickle in. My only sure sign of Spring in GriggsDakota is when the record low temperature is above zero Fahrenheit. That doesn't happen until well into April.
This is  the beginning of Spring's trail. 
There are below zero temperatures forecast for next week.
It is Spring, the sun rises and sets at the end of the east - west roads. The daily snowfall has helped hope spring up in our thoughts. 
Perhaps the drought will be over and when Spring takes over, rains will replenish our GriggsDakota soil.