Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mars vs Venus Logic

Adso the cat has a cold, which has turned into a sinus infection. A trip to the vet yesterday resulted in a ten day round of antibiotics. There is nothing quite so fun as trying to give a cat antibiotics.

While I was at the vet, I mentioned to her that Adso has decided he is no longer an inside cat. His greatest joy is escaping the house to explore the wilderness surrounding our home on the outskirts of Sutherland. There is no keeping him in, so I have bought him a collar (break-away so he doesn't strangle himself on his adventures), and a nametag emblazoned not only with his name, but mine and our telephone number. In fact, I have bought him two of these. They each lasted about a day and a half before he came home without them.

The vet can put a chip in him for about $50.00, which I thought was a bargain. The peace of mind knowing that he would be returned to me should he ever wander too far afield.

In discussing this avenue of action with The Mister last night, I got a taste of male logic when it comes to cats, or at least my male as it pertains to this cat. You see, Adso has been wandering pretty much ever since the weather turned nice this spring. He has been gone as long as two days at a time, yet has always returned. He is friendly, but not overly so to strangers. The Mister's view is that the only thing that will keep him from coming home is if he gets eaten by coyotes or run over by a car, in neither case would a chip be of help in getting him returned. Therefore, having a chip inserted is a waste of time and money.

Needless to say, I never thought of that.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Gamble of Being a Farmer

The Nebraska Outbacks are pitching in today to deliver chickens for Seifer Farms. Our route will take us east toward Lexington, south to Arapahoe, then west to McCook, and finally back north to North Platte and home. I'm hoping to get some great shots of the wheat harvest which is a little slow in our part of the world, but should be in full swing, or even perhaps nearly completed further south.

However, I also want to share with you an article that appeared on the North Platte Bulletin website yesterday. We will be driving through the heart of the area it is discussing, so some of the pictures may show things less fun than a busy and productive wheat harvest.

Experts say storms bring $10 million damage
by Frank Graham (North Platte Bulletin) - 7/15/2010

An estimated 60,000 acres of mostly corn and beans were destroyed or damaged in eastern Lincoln County and western Dawson County by two storms that ripped through the area.

Steve Johnson of the Home Agency in Gothenburg, estimated more than $10 million in damage from two storms – one on Saturday and another on Sunday.

Johnson said wind gusts in the area Sunday reached 90 mph.

Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Jim Nitz said the National Weather Service reported a vortex of a tornado that appeared on their radar screen but was unsure if it touched down.

Johnson said major damage was caused by hail embedded in the storms. “Hail coming at that speed is like a bullet,” Johnson said. The hail broke corn shafts in half and laid entire fields of stalks on the ground.

Johnson said there is so much damage over such a wide area that it would take months to evaluate it all. “We have more than 400 farms to inspect,” Johnson said. “It’s a huge economic loss to our area.” Johnson said many fields of corn suffered partial damage but some of that damage won’t even be determined until near harvest. He said some corn would likely suffer stock rot, ears with smut or mold and other stalks that would be more susceptible to disease.

To better visualize the situation, 60,000 acres is the equivalent of nearly 100 square miles. – Editor

So those storms happened a week ago today, but here's an article that also appeared yesterday, this time on the National Weather Service website:

Large Hail Pummels Parts of Southwestern Nebraska
July 15th, 2010

Scattered thunderstorms developed late Thursday afternoon into Thursday evening - on July 15th. These storms produced some large hail over parts of southwestern Nebraska. The first report came in at 613 PM CDT (513 PM MDT) of one inch diameter hail from 8 miles southwest of Lewellen in Garden County. By 622 PM CDT (522 PM MDT) the hail had increased to one and a half inches at the same location. The largest hail reported, the size of golf balls at 1.75 inches in diameter, occurred 9 miles northwest of Big Springs and 10 miles south of Lewellen, in Deuel County.

This is an entirely different area of the country, and the storm may not have been quite as widespread, but golf ball size hail can cause significant damage.

There are those who will minimize the impact of the situation by pointing that out the farmers likely had hail insurance, and I sincerely hope they did. However, that does nothing for the rest of the community who makes their living by suppling goods and services to farmers growing and harvesting bountiful crops, nor for the elevators and shippers who make their living sending those crops on down the road.

Hopefully I'll have some visual reporting for you after todays trip.

Thanks for stopping by. If you are enjoying any sustenance with your coffee this morning, thank a farmer!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Good Times...

What a weekend! It would be great to have a couple extra days off from work just to recover.

It started early on Thursday night with Fran Snyder appearing at our Nebraska Outback House Concert series. Even though the crowd was light, Fran did an excellent job, as always.

On Friday our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter came in from Lincoln, and we enjoyed a fun evening in Paxton with dinner at the Windy Gap, then on to 5 Trails Winery to hear Fran perform at their music series.

Saturday, alas, I had to deliver chickens for Seifer Farms, but the Mister, the kids and Fran enjoyed a leisurely tanking trip down the North Platte River. I made it back just in time to say goodbye and send Fran on down the road to his home, and to his next concert tour which will take him to California and back.

After recovering briefly, we made it out to Oregon Trail Golf Course for a quick nine holes of golf, then dinner from the grill on the patio and a quiet night listening to the first of the locusts buzzing in the trees while we sat in conversation around the fire pit.

Sunday started at 11:00 with another tanking trip down the Platte. This one got over far too soon, and we were all wishing that we had access to another getting-out point a few more miles down the river.

However, it left us plenty of time to get out to the Sutherland Reservoir at 4pm for a rousing game of Kayak Water Polo. It was our first time, and as soon as we recover, it won't be our last! Fun, but let's just say it's quite a workout.

The Mister was back at work at 6am this morning, the kids headed out at about 5 back to Lincoln, and I'm enjoying a few quiet minutes before I head back to work as well.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Through The Seasons Part 3

The series I started back during the first part of May continues. The first photo below was taken on May 5, 2010 at about 6:00 p.m.
The photo below was taken at about 8:30am on June 5, 2010.
This most recent photo in the series was taken at 10:00am on July 5.
Back in the day, it used to be said if the corn was "knee high by the 4th of July", the farmer could be assured of having a good crop. Today, with regular irrigation, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and faster growing varieties of corn, farmers need the corn to be a light taller than knee high to get a good crop. The corn in the closest field below would be nearly chest high on me (I'm 5'7").

If you look at the far right of the picture, just above the grass of the hillside in the foreground, you'll see a field of wheat that is nearly ready to be cut. Harvest should start within the next week or so.
And for a little variety, here is a photograph taken at about the same time as the last one above. The location is about two miles to the west and looking south into the South Platte River Valley (as opposed to the North Platte River Valley in the photos above). Here you can see two fields on either side of the road in the foreground, in which the wheat is nearly ready to be harvested. In the middle distance you can see a few more too.
Three months into my year-long series.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hometown 4th of July Celebration

I have been enjoying the Sutherland 4th of July celebration since we used to drive down from our home in the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills for all of the festivities when I was growing up.

The day always starts bright and early with the kids races. Today I'm seeing the grandchildren of the people I grew up with excitedly running the races. Each child gets a quarter for entering the race (when I was a kid, it was a dime!), then first, second and third get additional prize money. It's all good though, as most of the change is spent in the local fireworks shops. These races are sponsored by the Sutherland Chamber of Commerce.
After the kids races, it's time for the frog races. These are sponsored by Seifer Farms (of free-range chicken fame). This is the first year we haven't actually had at least one frog in the races - they were all toads. You can see, the frogs' owners, managers and trainers are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the races.
We had exactly 100 toads entered into the races this year. Each child receives fifty cents for the toad that they enter. There were ten heats of ten toads apiece, with the winner advancing to the finals. The frogs are placed in the middle of the ring, and the first to make it outside the ring is the winner. The race pays $25 for first, $15 for second and $10 for third. Lots of fun for lots of folks for a $100 investment by Seifer Farms.
As with any community gathering, there were lots of opportunities for food. Here, Maline's Super Foods sponsored $1 hamburgers on the 3rd of July. Even standing in line isn't that bad, as it gives everyone time to greet old friends and catch up on all the local happenings.
What would a summer celebration be without baseball? Lots of families gathered in the outfield to watch their little ones play.
On the 4th is the community barbecue, with a free will donation being collected for a plate of smoked brisket, salad, beans, drink and watermelon. As you can see, it is a very popular event.
As with anything worthwhile done for the community, it takes an army of volunteers behind the scenes to make it all happen. Here Scotty (famous local barbecuer) has a little help in slicing all of the brisket that he has been smoking for days. Note the homemade smoker that has enough capacity to prepare meat for an entire community.
In the serving line, volunteers from numerous local businesses get ready to prepare plates of food for their friends and neighbors.
It's easy to see that we all enjoyed it, too! The Sutherland celebration and rodeo attracts some royalty too. Here Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska Shelby Peters shares a meal with her mom and almost the entire Sutherland community.
Tha annual parade is a cornerstone of Sutherland's celebration - as is the case with most small town festivities. Here, four generations of the Eckhoff family open the parade by leading off with Old Glory.
No parade is complete without clowns, and this one was a crowd pleaser.
Oh yes, and the Nebraska Outback family even got into the act, representing the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center along with the North Platte/Lincoln County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Do you recognize me?
The annual 4th of July celebration is a favorite time for school classes to hold reunions, as it gives everyone an excuse to come home for the fun. Here 25 of the 26 surviving members of the Sutherland High School class of 1960 join in the parade for their 5oth class reunion.
And now it's on to the rodeo! Sutherland's rodeo starts out with the Mutton Bustin', where little cowboys and cowgirls get a taste of what the real cowboys experience by riding sheep. You can see that the sheep generally come out ahead in the competition.
Sometimes the cowboys don't fare any better.
Thank goodness there are always experienced and talented pick up men in the arena to help the cowboys dismount (when the stock hasn't already done so).
To provide some comic relief during rodeo downtime, local funny man Steve "Snorkel" From entertains the crowd.
And a very large crowd it was. The beautiful day saw a near capacity crowd enjoying the rodeo.
Snork is a man of many talents when it comes to his clown act. He even manages to get up close and personal with the crowd. And right here is a perfect time to give him a little plug for his book "The Reincarnation of Bennett McKinney." Now there are a lot of self-published novels out there, and many of them aren't very good. Snorkels' book is an exception to this observation. It is extremely well-written an insightful. You can probably find it on his website, if you can't get it through Amazon or other outlets. I may just have to get my copy out and re-read it and post a review.
There you have it - the highlights of the annual Sutherland 4th of July celebration and rodeo. Don't you wish you would have taken the time and effort to come home for it?
Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Here's hoping everyone is having a safe, fun 4th of July celebration!

If you're like us, the 4th is a holiday centered around friends, family and community. There's kids games, a parade, community bbq and rodeo, and we intend to do as much as possible. We just finished decorating the float, and are enjoying a few quiet minutes before we head to the park for the bbq.

Pictures of the whole celebration will follow.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This Ain't Yo Daddys Bluegrass Music

The Henhouse Prowlers revere Earl Scruggs and Bill Monroe. They cover their songs with an enthusiasm and authenticity that would make these legends in the Bluegrass world proud. It is a joy to listen to their beautifully blended harmonies punctuated with belted-out solo performances. The intricate choreography of their single-mike performances is obviously challenging, yet carried out so gracefully as to seem effortless.

Our audences in conservative, outback Sutherland mentioned time and again how impressed they were with the boys, of course with their music, but also with the suits and ties that is their stage wardrobe, and just how plain nice they are.

But if you think you are going to go to a Bluegrass Festival and listen to the Henhouse Prowlers while you're quietly knitting, reading the daily newspaper or perhaps doze off, think again! If your concept of Bluegrass music is a dusty, rusty group of old-timers plunking away on tired well-worn instruments, you really NEED to see the Henhouse Prowlers - they will change your whole way of thinking. They perform mostly original music that reaches down into your soul not only with the wonderful vocals and musicianship, but with the depth of feeling in the lyrics. The powerful sounds they coax out of their instruments are matched by the strength of their vocal performances. Don't let any preconceived notions about Bluegrass music keep you from one of their performances.

They left our concert to head to Kearney and Lincoln, with performances at Cunninghams and The Zoo Bar. Believe me, it took all of our will power and concentration on our already considerably packed schedules to keep from making a road trip to see them again and again. We apparently have the makings of groupies, at least where the Henhouse Prowlers are concerned.

The aftermath of a House Concert like the one the Henhouse Prowlers presented, even one that was not nearly so well attended as the talent of the musicians and the quality of the performance deserved, has us planning and scheming as to how we can host more, and get more people to take advantage of the wonderful music that we're bringing to town.

Ah well. For now, we'll just play their CDs until we wear them out, anxiously awaiting the release of their next recording.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.