Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

There is a scary little pumpkin face in GriggsDakota.
He seems to follow wherever I go.
He likes to play hide and seek
In the woods
And the corn field.
I found him peeking out of buildings
and perched on a fence post,
He offered to climb up and check the bin
He wanted to drive a load of barley to Sutton, but he didn't have his license in his pocket. 
He played in the junkyard
And found the wheels that brought us here.
He took a chilly dip on a brisk afternoon.
Then spent the evening recalling the fishing adventures of summer.
BOO!!!!!!! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

This is a Milestone: Sixty

We didn't take very many pictures when I was little, so whoever was around got in on the fun. Big brother was in school, Baby brother was napping, so Mom took a picture of Middle brother and me on my fifth birthday. Possibly grandparents were coming over for cake when Big brother came home from school. I don't remember, but this I do know. The table, the chair, the cake plate, and possibly the tablecloth, maybe even some of the clothes and the card if we dug through boxes, are still in the house where this photo was taken fifty-five years ago today. I am among the lucky few who turns 60 with both my parents living nearby in the house where I grew up. 
Turning five was a milestone. I was no longer a toddler, but a girl, old enough to take some responsibility. I started school, first grade, the next Fall as a five year old. 
Birthday milestones? I remember turning seven and treating my class to Tootsie Pops. No food police back then. I remember getting the playhouse that Dad and Grandpa built for me. There was the suede fringe jacket that marked my sweet sixteenth birthday. I still have it. It is still gorgeous, but it doesn't fit me.
The first adult milestone birthday was when I turned thirty-five and I was busy. Joseph was born that day. Nearly four weeks early, it was a happy surprise when he joined the party. I expected that he would be my youngest child. That was the day when I knew that I was no longer young. 
I wasn't exactly old either. So my age didn't matter very much to me. As I aged, I was reassured that 40 was the new 30 and 50 was the new 35. 
Everyone is fabulous.
Until today, when I turned 60.
When you turn 60, you are officially old. You are not fabulous in a youthful way any longer or ever again. No one tries to pretend about that, at least no one around here. And I have to admit, it is a relief.
A few weeks ago, when I realized I would indeed turn 60, I thought about trying to choose the 60 happiest days of my life.
 If I could choose 60 days of my life to live over, which would I turn to? There are far too many happy memories to choose only 60. Sometimes I imagine being young again. It doesn't work well, because I carry my perspective back in time with me. I can never be young again. 
And when I thought about the reverse... Are there 60 days I would wish away from my life? I don't think that I have had 60 very bad days in my 60 years. 
My life has not been perfect, but I wouldn't erase anything. Difficulties carry lessons that have made life richer and more meaningful. I wouldn't want to live with the unintended consequences of missing out on the lessons learned.
What if I could have three wishes? I think I know what they would be. 
One of them would be a wish for more time or the ability to do things more quickly. I find I am slower than I once was. It frustrates me. 
I wish fairy tales could come true. I want happy endings.
But I have learned that in this life all healing is temporary. Medicine is wonderful, but limited. Lazarus is dead now and that is my fate as well. My Christian faith is important and I do believe there is life after death. I have always struggled with transitions, so I can't claim much joyful anticipation for the afterlife. The best I can muster is to live with the hope of God's grace. 
Life amuses me. GriggsDakota agrees with me. Life at every age has been about doing my best and being my best. I expect that to continue now that I am old.
I dislike winter in April, hot days before August, and dry Summers. I respect Winter for what it is. Time keeps flying by. 
I like dark Winter days, vacations in Florida, and my family. And liking my family is the greatest joy in my life.
So thank you family, friends, acquaintances and readers far and near. 
Sixty will be just fine.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to: Put together Scary Halloween Treats

 There have been witches hanging around GriggsDakota.
Above is our favorite Halloween treat. A disposable glove stuffed with candy. They are simple to make. Here I have pushed a sucker into each glove finger. Filling each finger gives the hand personality. Use anything that fits easily into them and would make a good treat. Today I filled the palm with candies, but a juice box fits here, as well. Close it with a rubber band or ribbon. We have made hundreds of these over the years. You can also close them by putting them over a soda can. Candy in the fingers, then put the opening down over the top of your favorite pop. These have been crowd pleasers, too.
Tomorrow is Field Man Joe's Birthday. His friends still remember this treat that we made every year to celebrate his special day with a Halloween theme.    
 There will soon be vampires and perhaps a Ninja turtle joining the witches in the area.
 I expect to see a few ghosts from the seventies on the prowl.
Be vigilant on Halloween night. Sometimes the monsters are too excited to be careful. 
Happy Halloween from the scary folks at GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to: A Lighted Magic Wand

Even a good witch needs a magic wand. 
Last Halloween we made one in a hurry by covering a stick with ribbon and hot glueing battery tea lights to the top along with some doo-dads from a florist's bouquet.
The magic wand looked fantastic in the dark and served as a bit of light in the darkness as the Good Witch walked up to Trick or Treat.
 She practiced in front of the mirror until all of her good spells were working properly.
Candy in the bag, Candy in the mouth, Candy in the tummy. The magic worked in GriggsDakota.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Have you traveled on ND Highway's first roundabout?

Every Monday we welcome our daughter Kirsti to blog from her home in Western North Dakota's oil patch. Take it away Kirsti.

Now you have.

Or at least, you've seen a video from the dash of a vehicle going through it.

Close enough? I hope so.

North Dakota's first traffic roundabout was installed at the intersection of Highways 22 and 200 in Killdeer in 2012. It assists in moving traffic through the busy intersecting truck routes and is great improvement to the four-way stop that was used formerly. The roundabout started out as a bit of an experiment, testing to see if it was a good fit for all the truck traffic that travels on the routes. It was quickly deemed a success and has continued to be thought of as such.

Now, I know these are a commonplace elsewhere in the world. But here? It's the first. Having the first of anything in our great state is pretty neat.

Things are getting fancy in the oil field!

(Or at least the traffic is flowing better.)

Have a great week!

Pin It

Friday, October 24, 2014

About those Fence Posts

 When I arrived, Cattleman Jim had the post hole digger at the ready. He is replacing posts in the pasture fence.
Have you ever dug a fence post hole by hand? Let me assure you, a post hole digger is a great tool.
 The tractor hydraulics runs the motor that spins the the shaft while, the loader holds the implement as it spins itself down into the ground.
As it spins, it is dislodging dirt. 
In a flash, the post hole digger has dug a hole for the post. 
The loader lifts the digger out and it brings a load of dirt along. Presto! As if by magic there is a hole in the ground. 
 We are using old high line poles for fence posts. Each pole has had two eight foot lengths cut from it. 
 This is the third piece, longer than eight feet, it will be the sentinel on the line.
Cattleman Jim uses the loader to press it into place. 
 He tamps the soil firmly around the bottom of the post.
And we have a fencepost in place.  
The rose hips from a Wild Prairie Rose is in the grass. They look like rubies as they shimmer and bob in the breeze. 
As we enjoy one more beautiful afternoon in GriggsDakota.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Taking a Corn Sample

The world has turned brown and dusty in GriggsDakota. The fields are mostly empty now, except for the cornfields.  Farmer Fred is driving the combine down the road to a cornfield to see if we can continue combining. The head, or front cutting portion of the combine, has been changed to a corn head. Some of the combine settings are adjusted to remove the corn kernels from the cobs. 
 It's a busy time of year and the field access roads carry a bit of truck and machinery traffic. Although you don't really expect to meet someone on an old dirt trail, our neighbors are combining so Farmer Fred pulls over to let the truck pass.  Note that there is a fold down ladder on the back of the combine.
  He then pulls onto the cornfield. We are going to get a sample to take to the elevator. Yesterday's post explained about the moisture level of the corn. We will have to dry this crop, it is just a question of how much and what method of drying we need to do. Corn is grown in rows and each row goes into a slot on the header to be cut and harvested.
It is windy and the corn trash is blowing around so much that it reminds me of a snowstorm. We have been lucky in that department so far in October. No snow has fallen. 
When enough corn has been combined for a reasonable sampling of the field, Farmer Fred climbs up the aforementioned ladder with an empty oatmeal carton tucked inside his jacket. He then climbs into the hopper. Don't worry, the combine has been completely shut down.  
He disappears momentarily while he fills the container and tucks it back in his jacket. Then he climbs out and down. 
We are going to take the sample to be moisture tested at the elevator. On the way, we check out the sample and are optimistic. 
Optimism proves true. The moisture is 20.5%. We will dry the corn partially in the grain dryer, then transfer it to a bin. In the bin the corn will cool and finish drying by blowing air through the corn in the bin with fans. That will bring the moisture content down to 14.5% which is a safe storage level and the corn will be ready for a trip to the elevator.
Corn Harvest begins in GriggsDakota.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Checking the Cornfield

 Corn harvest is scheduled to begin as soon as we get the combine heads changed and the combines clean. We also have to plan the process for drying the corn before storing it. We will not combine dry corn this Fall. We will be using air bins and the grain dryer.
 Many of the corn cobs have tipped downward. Some varieties of corn are more likely to let the cobs drop than others. It is a preferred genetic trait as the cobs are protected from moisture by the husks as they dry down.
The cob size is moderate. We will not set any yield records this year. But the cobs are filled with kernels dented. 
We have had some windy days and that can be a concern for ripening corn. Happily, it appears the corn is standing up well. 
 As I mentioned before, we will combine this corn wet, that is above the safe storage level of 14.5% moisture. 
The kernels on the cob that I checked were firm and mealy, but did not crack when I bit down on them. That indicates wet corn, but I cannot judge the moisture accurately. 
We are hoping that the moisture is around 20%. We would then dry it in the grain dryer to 15% before putting the crop in an air bin to cool and dry down to 14.5%.
A combine will arrive soon to take a sample. The sample will be moisture tested which will let us know if we can continue the harvest or wait for additional drying in the cornfields of GriggsDakota.