Tuesday, February 28, 2012

#47. or, hand talker

  So, i'm a bit of a hand talker. More than a bit, actually. Quite an exuberant hand talker. I am aware of this problem and i work at trying to keep my gestures to a minimum while in the midst of a conversation. I'm pretty sure though, that if a group of deaf people were to walk by and catch me in the middle of a conversation, arms and hands flailing about, they might consider having me put away for screaming at them in some sort of profane form of sign.

  Yesterday, my tractor salesman took me on an hour long drive to another dealership to look at a tractor. To pass the time during the trip we talked about a number of things, but at one point, this is what i noticed.
  •  SALESMAN: .......and the newer models are coming out with all of the GPS systems already fully integrated.
  • ME:   i see. That's pretty interesting. This technology has gone way beyond simple point A-B line guidance.
  • SALESMAN: Yes. In fact, the new system allows you to monitor the performance of your tractor from a remote location through an app that you can download into your iphone or blackberry.
  • ME:  Sort of like an ag. equivalent of On-Star?
  • SALESMAN: exactly!


  This is the point where i slowly lower my hands and tuck them under my legs so as to not look like a complete idiot.

  I try pretty hard to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation. I'm a little self conscious about it. Some of it comes from being incredibly shy when i was younger. So much in fact, that at times i don't think i hardly talked at all. I'm still shy, but i try to work around it. I was missing too much by opting to stay out of the conversation. But i do not have any idea at all why my hands decided they needed to go off like a group of pre-teen girls at an all night slumber party, hopped up on Dr. Pepper and Pixie Stix? I'm still working on that.

  ...............i don't know if it's a positive or a negative, but if i ever develop Parkinson's Disease, it's going to be years before anyone realizes that i even have the symptoms.

Monday, February 27, 2012

#46. or, a bit of snow

  So, we got a lot of snow over the weekend. Apparently it was only a couple centimeters away from being a record dump of the white stuff.

  As i get older, i seem to struggle more and more with being happy to see it snow. When i was a kid, it was awesome. The things you could do in the snow were endless. We always had a pile my dad had pushed up with the tractor. (when he was, dad-inatractor) You could dig tunnels, make forts or castles, and more often than not, i can remember being an arctic explorer, climbing some unclaimed peak in the frozen wasteland. A few of the others not to be forgotten, snow angles, tobogganing, jumping off a row of stacked bales into a snow drift, and who can forget snow days?

  Now that i'm older, snow means work. Yards to plow, cattle that need extra bedding, sometimes there's feeders to dig out, plus the added hastle of travel. If you listen to beer commercials at all, our own Canadianism (is that a word?) is defined by our ability to laugh in the face of old man winter. To be a Canadian, is to live for shovelling off a hockey rink on a wind swept lake while drinking a Tim Horton's double double with your red Olympic mittens on.

  There's still a couple things i hold dear about winter and snow. I like the crunch sound packed snow makes when it's really cold out. Especially if it happens on a starry night when you go outside for a walk to look at Christmas lights. I like to look out the window at a layer of freshly fallen snow. But mostly, when it's bitterly cold out, and being outside for a couple seconds chills you to the bone, i like to get on a plane to someplace tropical. These days i seem to be leaning more toward that other Canadian winter tradition. When the going gets tough, spend the winter in Arizona.

  I was plowing the yard yesterday and it occurred to me if we got a few more inches of snow, the Christmas decorations on the lawn that i've been too lazy to pick up will be gone. So, i guess that's something positive. One less thing that i see every time i go past, reminding me it still needs to be taken care of. At least for a couple more weeks or so. Out of sight, out of mind?

................My neighbours were having trouble getting into their yard with their van, so i plowed out their driveway while i was in the tractor. They brought over a cake to say thank you. She makes wonderful cakes and it was delicious, but a tiny part of me though, wondered what would happen if my neighbours were travel agents?

Friday, February 24, 2012

#45. or, birthday trip to the Butterdome

  Last Wednesday was my Birthday. Earlier in the month, the elementary school in our town asked me if i would be interested in driving the bus for their track team to the University of Alberta Butterdome for the Edmonton Journal Indoor Games. This trip was not for the finals but the qualifiers. I decided to go since it was mostly just for the afternoon, and i thought it would be fun.

  About 8 or 9 years ago, our oldest son was on the elementary school track team. They usually do well, quite often placing in the top 5 or so teams, which is not too shabby for our small town. When i went back then, it was just as a parent. It was our first venture into the world of team sporting events and i packed a VHS recorder the size of a shoebox. Somewhere, we still have poorly shot video of our son running around the track. I remember that you can't tell how well he did because the whole time he ran, it was zoomed in on him so there's no way to tell where anyone else in the race was running. I remember that he was one of the student athletes that was picked from hundreds to be interviewed for the evening news. We were pretty proud.

  This time, i was driving the bus. If you drive a bus to the Butterdome, there's parking for about 5 buses on the North side of the Jubilee Auditorium entrance. That's where i was going to park. Also, that's where the 50 or so other bus drivers from schools across Northern Alberta had planned to park. It was school buss pandemonium. Our only option was to enter the west entrance of the front side of the Jube, find a place to off-load, then exit the east side Jube entrance, then try to find a place to stash a 64 passenger school bus. It didn't help that snooty Jubilee doorman guy was stopping every one of us to tell us we couldn't unload there. REALLY! In the time it took to flag every one of us down to tell us that, we could have been unloaded and gone, but i was polite and went to unload on the curb side of the east entrance. In an effort to find a place to park, i ended up nosed into  a parking garage behind the Butterdome. I wasn't going to try park in there, i just needed the room to position myself to back all the way back out to the street. I'm sure the attendant thought i was an idiot. I ended up driving all the was back to Westmount Mall to park. There was a lot of other buses there in the same boat.

  Westmount Mall is a very practical mall. It seems only to have stores that you require for ever day needs. I needed frivolous shopping type stores to keep me occupied for 3 hours. The best they had was a Dollarama. By the time i left, i'm sure they though i was a shop-lifter because i had gone up each isle about 20 times.

  I headed back a little early and luckily enough, i snagged one of the bus parking stalls at the Jube. I was even able to catch the boys run their heat in the relay race, so the day turned out OK.

  ...........one of the highlights of the trip was being able to run windy Groat Road into the river valley in a school bus........4 times. Rest assured, i made the most of it.

 .............something else, my spell checker just suggested i change Dollarama to diarrhea, isn't that odd?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

#44. or, for you, martial arts guy

 *** I was hoping for some sort of inspiration to come along and whack me upside the head so I could write something new to send to Dude Write  this week. Alas, my head has gone un-whacked. I hope this older post will suffice.***

So, I think i've talked about this before. When you set up your blog, you can go onto your blogger dashboard (I really like the term blogger dashboard, it sounds so mechanical.) to see how many views that you have and what country the views are coming from. One of the other things that you get to see is what is generating a lot of those views. I have mostly facebook referrals,a couple twitter referrals, and quite a number of google searches for various combinations of the words ken-in-a-tractor. One of referring sights that keeps popping up is for a martial arts page?

  Now, I've gone to this page on a couple of different occasions, and I cannot for the life of me, find anything there that would lead a person to my blog. I can't help but imagine that somewhere out there, there's a fellow who's getting beaten up for his lunch money every day. In an effort to transform himself into a kung fu master, he googles a martial arts page, then ends up here, listening to some guy ramble about life in his tractor. I feel sorry for that guy.

  This post is for you, misled martial arts guy. If you end up here, I will now reveal unto you all of the martial arts knowledge that I have gleaned through my lifetime.


1. For students over 40. With your left hand, arm extended, rub the wax onto the car in a circular motion. Then, with your right arm extended, you rub the wax off the car in a circular motion. Repeat this process about 20 000 times until you are thoroughly frustrated, and then, in an epiphany, you will know karate.

2. For students under 40. Standing in front of a coat hook (I think a nail in a tree will work equally well here.) you take your coat off and drop it on the ground. Then, you bend over and pick up your coat and hang it up on the hook. (or nail) Next, take your coat off the hook and put it back on. It is important that you preform each of the previous steps with "attitude". Again, repeat these steps about 20 000 times and only after you get thoroughly frustrated, will the true genius of these manoeuvres be revealed to you.

3. If you find yourself in an epic battle with sword wielding ninjas, the key to survival is endurance. They will, quite politely I think, stand back, jumping and doing kicks in the sidelines waiting their turn while they attack you one at a time.

4. Kung Fu (and the force) are in everything. Unfortunately, you will not realize this until after you have had the crap thoroughly beaten out of you. Once again, in an epiphany (kung fu seems to work in epiphanies) you will suddenly become calm and your opponents motions will turn into slow motion and you will easily be able to defeat them. Also, for this to happen, I think that you need to experience some sort of disabling injury and be miraculously healed by some sort of ancient oriental cure. However, it has happened spontaneously in exceptionally gifted pupils.

  ..............whoever you are, martial arts guy, I hope you find this helpful. Also, I think I need to mention here that I cannot be held responsible for any injuries received from following these steps.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

#43. or, in a tractor

 The internet is a wonderful tool. I can say that cause without the internet i have no blog. I mean, just now, i envisioned the logistical nightmare of trying to do this sort of thing through the mail. Especially since i don't really know who 80% of you who keep coming back here every day even are. I'd probably go broke just trying to keep up on stamps?

  I've spent a lot of time on the internet this month. Mostly looking for tractors and farm equipment. Typing every conceivable combination of words that i could think of for each and every piece of equipment i thought might work as a replacement. Enlarging photos to try to get a clue on condition or if the thing i'm looking at is really a piece of junk. My eyes hurt from looking at the screen and my shoulders are sore from being hunched over the keyboard. If i could type better it might be easier but the truth is, i don't think that my calling was to sit at a desk. OH, i could do a good job of it. I'd have a spiffy business card holder and one those balls on strings, rack thing that swing back and forth when you give one a pull and let it go. (you probably don't know what the hell i'm talking about here, but everybody has one on their desk on TV.) I would have high back leather chair and a foot massager under my desk. But i don't think i'd be happy.

  I went to town yesterday to look at tractors. I looked at tire condition and draw pin wear. We talked at length on the advantages of particular transmissions. I looked down the smooth lines of the sloped hoods and admired the beauty of sharp paint. Started them up and i smiled to myself as the cold diesel engines rattled. Best of all, we did test drives. Sat in the seat and felt the rumble of cold wheels on a frozen road. And i was happy.

  ...............It's my Birthday Today. I'm 44 years old. I like BBQ's, cigars, scotch, and the beach. But i think i might belong in a tractor?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

#42. or, beyond my best before

  Everything has best before dates stamped on them. Sometimes though, i wonder if it's more of a buy more crap gimmick than a safety issue? Lots of times you can just tell. If you go to pour milk onto your cereal and it comes out in lumps and smells like angry socks, you should probably avoid it. But, if it's just a bit off in taste and you can still mask that taste by pouring it onto something that has a ton of sugar and flavours, like fruit loops, you're most likely still good. What about canned soup? That has an expiry date, but i would expect that if it's not buldging and ready to explode chunks of putrid alfa-getty-o's across the room the second you touch it with a can opener, i think i'd give it a chance. I'm pretty sure there's a whole sect of the population that's banking on surviving on out of date Campbell's soup after the zombie apocalypse? Meat's easy to tell right? If it's green and fuzzy you have to throw it out.......or do you? Quite often, if it's just on the surface, it can be cut away and as long as you are cooking it to an adequate temperature it's pretty safe. Don't kid yourself, beef aged for 28 days is leaving the cooler with a bit of fuzz on it, i guarantee you.

  If i had a best before date stamped on my ass, i think i would be past due. I'm not at the green and fuzzy stage of my life yet, just at the point where you give it a sniff when you open the container. When i was younger, and had hair and a somewhat decent body, i didn't really have the knowledge and seasoning, if you will, to deal with it properly. I think i might just be leaving the stage now when everything clicked. My hair loss seemed to be on hold. (although it still continued to get greyer) Plus, i had gained some of the smarts to do things to the best of my ability with the body that i had. Lately, i notice my hair starting to recede again. I'm tired more, and my wife keeps pointing out all the new wrinkles that keep showing up on my face. Also, while i'm just starting to figure out how to do things the way that they should be done, my body quite often doesn't live up to the expectation that i wish it would when imagine myself doing those things.

 Now, i realize that everybody ages differently. People are like eggs, or milk, or meat, or canned goods in the pantry. Everyones best before date is at a different time. Sometimes, i am shocked to find out that someone is in their 70's because they look so young. But conversely, the odd time, you see the person who looks like a senior in their 40's. Lifestyle has a lot to do with it, stress is a big one, but i'm trying to keep fit and do things to keep my mind fresh. It's important to try new things and do activities to get your mind off the stuff that will eat you up on the inside if you let it. I still set high expectations and goals for myself. Getting them done now, sometimes just means i have to include a nap.

 In the meat department, do they throw out the T-Bone steaks that go beyond their best before date?  Not a chance. They get cleaned up, ground into hamburger, repackaged , and given a whole new life on the shelf with a brand new best before date. Maybe people are like that? Maybe if you can't be the T-Bone steak anymore, you just have to be hamburger? Thing about hamburger is, it's the most versatile thing on the shelf. Maybe that comes from age, maybe, to be the most versatile thing on the shelf, you need to keep evolving, repackage yourself, and start over with a brand new best before?

  .............once, by accident, i drank one of those cardboard juice box thingys of V8 Juice that was a year and a half past it's best before date. And while the taste was a bit off, it wasn't enough of a  concern to make me check the date until after it was empty. It didn't kill me, i didn't even get sick. Life just went on. I think i'm still good for a while.

Monday, February 20, 2012

#41. or, community spirit

 If you live in Alberta, today is a holiday. It's Family Day. People stay home from school and don't have to go to work and things like that. Well, most people. Some go to work today in exchange for a holiday in August. That's a fair trade i guess? It's always nice to have an extra day off in the summer too. Regardless, today is Family Day.

 Last night, our local little community hall hosted its annual Family Day skating/pot luck supper event. It's a nice thing. They have a natural ice, outdoor rink where the community kids can go to play fun hockey. If it snows, whoever shows up usually helps to shovel it off. I think it helps them build a little community spirit.

  As a result of the fire we had earlier in the month, the community Ag. Society took it upon themselves to incorporate a benefit into the pot luck supper event to raise a little bit of funds to help us out with getting back up onto our feet. Honestly, i had not expected this at all, and i was shocked at the turnout of people who came to support us. It's quite humbling to know the number of people who have your back when you run across some hard times. Even though the event was Family Day, the community showed up for us. In a way, it's fitting. A community is a family and i am a little more proud today to call this community my family. The envelope they gave us at the event was pretty fat with cards and donations. Truthfully, i have yet to look in it. Right now, to me, that isn't really the important thing. It's that so many people offered to put stuff into that envelope, and i still haven't quite gotten over that.

  So, the night was grand, i ate far too much, and visited with friends, and laughed into the night. Until in fact, ours was the last table to get cleaned up and put away because we were having such a good time. It was a good night.

  ..........also, i just want to apologize for my incredibly inadequate speech. you deserved a lot more. Hopefully i can make it up to you some day.



Friday, February 17, 2012

#40. or, new phone

  Yesterday i got a new phone. It's a brand spanking new Blackberry. I don't know if i should feel ashamed to tell you that?

  Everything that i have read over the past months says that Blackberry is dying. The guys at apple would have you believe theirs is the phone of the future. It might be? It's a pretty sweet phone. My son has an iphone. He let me poke around in it a bit to see if i liked it. I like what it does, i'm just not crazy about the phone. My wife has an Android phone, i can't even say that i don't like what that phone does. I've just always wanted a Blackberry.

  Why the Blackberry? I could say that i am faithfully loyal to a product developed in Canada. I don't think that's it though. Truthfully, i just really like the physical keyboard. My old phone was a Nokia E71. It wasn't a bad phone, it did mostly everything i asked of it. It looked quite a lot like Blackberry's did 2 1/2 years ago. But, it was 2 1/2 years old, and pretty much outdated when i got it. Plus, any of the apps all seemed to be European. It wasn't so much a fun phone as a practical one.

  I guess the phone i wanted to get when i got my Nokia was the Blackberry, I just couldn't afford it then. I know my apple friends are going to give me a hard time but i this is what i wanted and i'm going to live or die by this phone. Don't let me down Blackberry.

  ...........i think my issue with touchscreen phone is that genetics has blessed me with pudgy German fingers making navigating them a nightmare?  Also, when i said that the Nokia European apps were not fun it wasn't my intention to slander the entire race. Fact is, any of the Europeans i have ever partied with have been able to drink me under the table.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

#39. or, confused foot syndrome

  I went back to the track on Wednesday. It's been over a month since i've been there. Actually, since before we went to Mexico. That's pretty much where the wheels fell off my fitness wagon. So, yesterday (Wednesday) after lunch, when i found myself chiseling frozen cookie dough out of the container from the freezer with a butter knife, i decided it was time to try get back on track....so to speak? That's why my feet hurt today.

  My feet hurt, and when i think about it i can't really blame them. I generally start the day in flip flops, which i wear around the house as slippers. When i go out to do chores, i wear insulated rubber boots that are essentially sweat tubes that hold your feet. They have zero support and don't breath at all, so that can't be good? If i leave the yard, i've been wearing some Dr. Scholl's winter type shoes. They have arch support and all the bells and whistles. We paid quite a bit for them and when i put them on in the store, they felt heavenly. Thing about them is, after i've worn them for a few hours and take them off, my feet seem to try to revert to their previous non-arch shape and for some reason when i walk, my feet do this slappy flopping thing at every step. It reminds me of a scuba-diver walking along the dock with his dive flippers on. It's probably not that noticeable, but i'm aware of it. Then i go to the track and stick them into runners for an hour, back into the Dr. Scholls to go home, usually into the sweat tubes for a bit after that, then maybe flip flops to end the day. It's no wonder my feet hurt, they may actually be suffering from personality disorder?

  .........My wife is still sick with the flu and congestion. Last night, i got my hopes up when she asked me to grease up her torso. Any eroticism of the moment was lost however when i found out that it was with Vicks Vap-o-rub. I hope she feels better soon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

#38. or, seafood and a side of boobs

  **** UPDATED 7/8/12. This is a post from back in February that I'm submitting as archived material into the 4th week of the DUDE WRITE competition. Having won top honours last week, I had really hoped to come up with a new post to attempt to at least come close to the bar that I had set for myself last week. Alas, real life had other plans for me, so you get this instead. It's an older post that I liked a bit. I hope that you do as well. Thanks. ****

We decided to go out for Valentine's Day supper. It was really a spur of the moment decision as we had planned to do a dinner and a movie date later in the week as a Valentine's/Birthday night in the city. Now, it wasn't a supper in the grand spirit of the day sort of thing, it was more just meant as a, Hey, lets not cook or do dishes tonight sort of thing. The town we live near doesn't really offer what I'm going to call fine dining, but it does have good restaurants, and to tell you the truth, that's all we were after. Still though, I showered and shaved and dressed up pretty casual. My wife wore what she had worn to work, she dresses pretty nice, I think we looked good. Casual, but still pretty good.

  We both ended up having a seafood dish. They did up the restaurant a bit, we even had a rose and a candle on the table.

  Our supper was about half done when a family came in. A husband and wife, (i'm assuming) and another couple, one of which was their offspring, and their tiny baby. The older lady was a a bit of a bigger woman. I have no problem with that whatsoever, I appreciate women, I try to make an effort to appreciate them for who they are regardless of what size they are. Oh, this woman had very large boobs. Very large, uncontained boobs. Very large, uncontained boobs, with extremely obvious and prominent nipples. Very large, uncontained boobs with extremely obvious and prominent nipples that made their home on either side of her belly button. At least I'm pretty sure they were her nipples, unless she had golf balls in her pockets? I also happen to be quite a fan of large boobs, but I could not for the life of me figure out what possessed this woman to go out with her family looking like this?

  Honestly, I went through scenarios in my head why she was there like that. Maybe they never go out for any occasion and her husband came home from work and said, "honey, I'm taking you and the kids and our grand kids out for Valentine's Day supper!" Maybe in her excitement, she completely forgot to put on her underwear? Or possibly, on their way to town, for the busiest restaurant day of the year, they were abducted by aliens, stripped naked, and after being anally probed, the aliens kept her bra as some sort of intergalactic trophy. Then, being released in a state of  traumatic shock, they forgot she was braless, and in an effort to act as if nothing happened, they continued on to town for supper?

  Could have been, that in an effort to spice up their failing love life, she decided to go commando under her sexiest sweatshirt in order to reignite the spark of lust in her husband? But why include her kids in that experiment? Unless of course, she fully expected them to someday take a position on top of the Co-op with a hunting rifle and randomly begin taking out seniors on their way in for morning coffee? Maybe shes giving her kids a reasonable excuse for an insanity plea for down the road?

  Really, that's all I could come up with, that, or she just didn't really give a shit?

  ................Next week we're going out for my birthday, it might be just the excuse to wear the muscle shirt/ballet leotard ensemble that I have hanging in the back of my closet........or maybe not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#37. or, happy Valentine's Day?

   You know that guy on the commercial? The one walking along the beach early in the morning? He's wearing pajama pants and a zip up hoodie, but it's unzipped and he's bare chested and pretty buff. He has bare feet. Running along side of him is his dog. It's a  yellow Labrador Retriever and the the guy is carrying a random piece of driftwood that he tosses into the ocean every time the dog brings it back to him so he can do it again. Then, something catches his attention and he looks toward his cozy beach house. His wife is standing on the deck, wearing one of his button shirts and you know that that's the only thing she has on. She waves, slightly raises a cup of coffee, and he waves back. The guy, and his dog, jog up to the deck, climb the three steps to where his wife is waiting for him with a second steaming cup of coffee and they embrace just as the sun breaks free from the morning horizon........

  I could so be that guy. Living on the beach with my wife.

  It's Valentine's Day today. This morning i have to feed cattle with a borrowed tractor and feed wagon. A fellow is coming this morning to slaughter a beef so i don't even know if i am going to be able to get to town to have Valentine's lunch with my wife today. I'll probably spend part of the afternoon on the internet looking for replacement tractors and some of it sifting through charcoal remains, making an inventory of barn contents.

  I'd rather be on the beach with my wife.

  To be fair, my Birthday is coming up and we've decided that we'll combine the two and go to the city for a nice supper to celebrate both occasions in one sometime next week. I think that's because we're getting old and more practical, or it's just easier?  Ether way, somewhere along the way i think i've dropped the ball. Sorry baby.

  ....................One more thing, beach guy is in the commercial because he's on heart pills or suffering from erectile dysfunction. Plus he's probably going to die from one of a list of side effects as long as your arm from his medication. So he has his problems too, they just seem easier to deal with on the beach?


Monday, February 13, 2012

#36. or, arts & crafts with ken

  I don't know for sure if anyone else can see it or not, but at the top of my page there's a header bar and one of the tab things says "next blog." Almost every day i hit that button a few times just to look at other blogs. I'm looking for something that interests me and catches my eye. I've been trying to find some that are similar to what i'm doing, but they don't seem that easy to find. (that's just my opinion. I don't doubt that what i do here is any different than 2/3 of the blogs out there.) Now, i've said it here before, blogs by women are just about always more pleasant to look at than man blogs. They seem to pay way more attention to detail in the setting up of their pages than guys do. They're nicer to look at.

  OK, here's a test. If you can see it, hit the "next blog" button ten times. Three will be about families, three about religion, one will be something in a different language, and three will be about arts & crafts. (i don't really expect you to do that. It's just a broad generalization that iv'e made about the blog world. In fact, when i just did it to check those numbers, it didn't work at all. But it's somewhere in the ballpark.)

  Something that you see a lot of is crafty sort of blogs. Blogs about the things people make. And that's fine. A lot of them are really, very interesting to look around. Anyways, the other day i was going through my pictures and i found this. 

  Ever wonder how many cans of spray foam fit into a 5 gallon pail?  Not 2! My wife was making a Christmas themed piece to put by the front door. The pail fits into a wishing well shaped container. Originally, it had dirt and a plant in it, but we were recycling. (cause we're so environmental) She needed something in the pail she could put spruce bows and Christmasy things into and have them stay put. The spray foam was my brilliant idea. So, if you ever need to put spray foam into a pail to make a centrepiece thing, one can will be sufficient. Actually, you should know that two cans do fit quite nicely when you first spray it in, the mess in the pail you see is what you wake up to the next morning.

  .....................Something else just occurred to me, if i took empty canola bags, opened the ends, duct taped them together and filled them with spray foam, maybe i could make a pontoon boat? It might have to wait until summer though, i'm not allowed to use spray foam in the house anymore.

Friday, February 10, 2012

#35. or, no dumb animals

       ****no dumb animals were hurt or injured in the making of this blog****

  Near our barn, or rather, where our barn used to be, was a pen of cattle. Not right there, but one small pen away. During the fire, they all were frightened and stood as far from the fire as they could. The watering bowl where they drink, happens to be as close to the remains of the barn as they can get without actually leaving that particular corral.

  A little bit about electricity. Electricity is quite a lot like water, it follows the easiest path it can find. When the barn burned, our breaker tripped off at the pole. It's supposed to do that for safety. When the fire finally went out, I taped off the ends of the wire that used to connect to the barn, (With electrical tape, not duct tape, but I'm sure that would have worked.) and turned the power back on. Now, I expected that the overhead wire that runs alongside the remains of the barn, toward the watering bowl I was just talking about, might have been damaged by the heat so I shut down the breakers near the bowl to avoid any electrical shorts at the bowl. (electrical shorts......sorry, my mind just wandered there a bit.)

   In an attempt to check for errant current in the water of the bowl, I took off my glove and stuck my finger into the water.

  I'm going to stop here for a second and say that right now, while I type this out, it doesn't seem like the brightest of plans, but I didn't get a shock so I assumed the water was fine.

  For the first day, no cows came to drink. I thought that they might still be spooked from the fire. On the second day they started to eat snow. They can do that and survive. I still suspected they might be a little traumatized  On the third day, being concerned for their well being, I did the finger test for the second time. Still no shock.

  OK, so, we had been discussing this for a bit, and my brother comes along and decides to do the finger test as well. In case, I guess, that my finger tester might have not been working properly. No shock.  Now, evidently, I had forgotten the second part of the finger test, where, while your finger is in the water, you stick a finger from your other hand into the ground. Guess what? He gets a crazy big shock!

  Apparently, the live wire had shorted into the ground wire and current was by- passing the second breaker box completely and running into the ground. We moved the cows to a new pen.

.............sometimes, cows might not be quite so dumb as you might think, I'm not saying anything about myself. Oh, if you need me later today, i'll be peeing on an electric fence to see if it's working.


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

#34. or, a little bit of blaaaa

  So, this morning marks one week since our barn burnt. I find that a little hard to fathom. It seems that it must only be a day or two at most since this all started. That's probably because the first few days all ran together and i didn't really get too much sleep. That's catching up to me a bit now. I think that i'm getting a little run down.

  The things that happened, seem to have taken me, and this blog, in a direction that i hadn't really intended it to go. I apologize for that. This was intended to be a little fun, a lot of fun actually, and it is. It's just been a little harder for me to sit down the last few days and let the weird shit fall out of my head. I miss that. I'm trying to get it back.

  Had a couple beers in town with some friends yesterday. That was a good thing, it was nice to get off the yard for a while. Except the drive home, cause i had to pee like crazy and there was just a little too much traffic to stop and expose myself. (plus it was cold out and anyone driving by wouldn't have gotten to see the real me.) Looking forward to spending the day with some friends this weekend. We're going to do some fishing and drink some caesars, or beer, or rums, ....maybe vodka? (maybe some of each? Maybe smoke a cigar too?)

  ........................Oddly enough, today also marks one month since our tropical holiday started. A month ago today we were sitting on a plane headed for Mexico. Only 23 months until we can go again. I'm going to start X'ing off the days on the calender.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

#33. or, investigation day

  Yesterday, the insurance investigator came out from the city to determine the cause of our barn fire. He was a good fellow. He explained a lot about what he was looking for and why he was going about things the way he did. I'm sure that he took a thousand pictures. Most of the tin that covered the building was still collapsed onto the equipment so he began by clearing that off, then took pictures. Climbed to the top of our grain leg to get an overhead view of the damage and took some more pictures. Dug the breaker box out of the rubble, opened it up, inspected it, and took some pictures. Traced out all of the electric wire, plug and switch boxes and took pictures of those. Went through the wiring of all the vehicles that we had in the barn to see if any of it had shorted out to start the fire and took pictures of it all. Later in the afternoon, we had a coffee, where he decided the he needed a few more pictures of things. He had us draw out a detailed blueprint (which was essentially a picture) of how everything was positioned in the barn before the damage took place to help him better visualise the scene. Asked if there was any available pictures of the barn while it was burning and had me put all of those onto a jump drive so he had those pictures.

  After 6 hours on the scene and a thousand pictures, the cause of the fire, at this point, remains undetermined.

...............i occurs to me it would have been interesting to include a visual of the man doing what he was doing, but alas, i didn't have a picture.

Monday, February 06, 2012

#32. or, Friday cattle auction

  We sold our calves on Friday, the market is pretty hot right now and i think that we did quite well so that's a good thing that happened last week.

  The auction mart is kind of a cool place. That is of course, if you can appreciate the subtle nuances of cow and  wood shavings. You tend to run into a lot of your neighbours there. I'm pretty sure that just randomly stopping there to check on the price of cattle, while business prudent, might in fact be an excuse to catch up on what's going on in the community.

  Because all of our cattle handling equipment was lost in the fire, i am now the proud owner of a spiffy new red cane, which happens to be my instrument of choice when dealing with cattle. Not to brag or anything, but i can wield a cane with the proficiency of a ninja or a jedi. That hook on the end works excellent for catching calves or snagging gates on the way past as i run up the alley, closing them as i go to prevent the cattle from running all the way back when they decide to turn. Some cattle farmers are whip people, some use electric stock prods, some used to patrol the hockey rinks late at night for Sher-woods and Titans, abandoned because of a broken blade. Which lost favour with the advent of the replaceable blade, but might be making a comeback with the development of the composite hockey stick. My medium is the cane, and i create masterpieces.

 .................I haven't been feeling all that well in my stomach the last few days. A little queasy. I decided today that it might be from the smell currently hanging around our yard. Sort of a BBQ'd rubber boot marinated in used oil and diesel fuel smell. I can't wait until that's gone.

Friday, February 03, 2012

#31. or, errant hair

  As the last couple of days here have been just a little gloomy, i'm going to post what i had originally intended to post Wednesday morning. I'll try to keep you informed as things progress in our ordeal, but truthfully, right now we're pretty much waiting to see what happens before we can do anything. Still not officially allowed to even enter the site yet.

  Quick note: going to the auction to watch our calves sell today, hope they do well.

 so, without further ado.........

  I had this crazy hair that decided to grow out of the middle of my forehead about a half inch below my hair line. I didn't even notice it there until it was the same length as all my other hair. Now, i know that genetically speaking, the odds are against me in this department. I come from a long line of folicly challenged men, and being so, ball caps are a staple in our family. The thing about this solitary hair is that i was unsure of it's origin.

  I realize, the possibility exists this hair was the last remnant of my former hairline that went into full retreat sometime during the night while i was sleeping. I checked my pillow for excess hair but there was none. Possibly it went down the shower drain? I can't be sure. You would think that you should notice a full half inch of hair loss overnight? OR, that solitary hair may be new growth in the infertile land that my forehead has become over the last few years. It's possible? Sort of like the dandelion weed growing up through the crack in the sidewalk of busy urban intersection.

  Either way, it looked conspicuously out of place. If it was new growth, it seemed such a shame to simply shave it away considering the promise that single solitary hair held. On the other hand, if it was indeed the last vestige of my former hairline, left there to taunt me as all the rest of my hair decided to take up residence in my comb, it couldn't stay.

  Sometimes the decisions that i have to face, day to day, can be draining.

  ..........in the end, i shaved it off. It looked ridiculous and i have enough trouble with that as it is. But i am considering marking my hairline with a sharpie just for future reference.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

#30. not my best day.

  So, yesterday our barn burned to the ground.

  During the times when it isn't calving season, we use it for equipment storage. Quite a lot of our equipment was in there. 2 grain trucks, 1 truck/tractor (to pull trailers with)  4 tractors, A self-propelled sprayer,  grain vac, A pick-up with a bale handling rack on the back, a quad, every single piece of cattle handling tools that owned, our feed wagon, and my sons dirt bike.

  It was a pretty long and hectic day. Truthfully, i don't really know what to do from here. Right now it's day to day i guess? We"re not really able to even go into the rubble until the insurance gets a look at it. Today is looking to be just as hectic, as we had previously made plans to haul our calves to market this morning. Plus the insurance adjuster wants to be out around noon. I cancelled my driving the bus on the basketball trip the Spruce Grove this weekend. (although, i still hope to be able to make a game or two.)

  Nobody got hurt, physically. I know it's just stuff. Things that can be replaced. Still though, right now, i am having a bit of a difficult time trying to figure out how i am going to do what we do without all our "stuff". Pretty sure that things will get sorted out as we move forward but i feel a little empty right now. Nobody got hurt, physically, but i do feel like i've been kicked in the guts?

 I don't really know how to say thank-you to our family, friends, and neighbours. It was them that called just after 5:00 AM to tell us we were on fire and call the fire department so they already knew by the time i called it in. It's them that supplied the tractor and feed wagon so we could feed our cows. It was them that brought things over just to say " hey, we're thinking of you". Plus the endless string of phone calls that drained my cell battery from people looking to see if there was anything they could do to help out. Truly, i wish there was something to do to say, thanks guys.

.........Yesterday was my son Wyatt's Birthday. He turned 12. I feel bad for him. His Birthday got overlooked, pretty much, in the confusion of the day, plus he lost the dirt bike that he had bought himself last fall. Happy Birthday kid, i'll try make it up to you.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

#29. barn

that's my barn......and 1/2 of the equipment that we own. Not much to say today. Nobody got hurt so that's good.