Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Letter to Dave-January
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Christmas Radio program, the Advent Calendar
I have a need to mark time. I need to see tangible points that mark
the passage of time so that I don’t feel I have wasted my life. I
don’t waste my days during Christmas, I mark time with an Advent
The Advent Calendar does not follow the Christian season of Advent
exactly. Advent begins the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas where any
Advent Calendar I’ve ever seen begins the First and ends the 25th of
December. Most Advent calendars are just two pieces of heavy paper
place on top of each other. The top piece will have little pre-cut
doors to pull open with each passing day of December. The front piece
of paper usually is adorned with a scene from either the birth of
Jesus or something more secular. As it is in most cases, the reward
is not the door but rather what lies behind it.
I still have anticipation when I open each Advent Calendar door.
Some Advent Calendars are made of wood with substantial doors that
cover pockets large enough to store a small gift. Prior to its
opening the door, I can hope for anything. In one situation I could
find a stale piece of chocolate while another may find a verse that
gives the Holiday needed perspective.
We never had Advent Calendars around the house until recently. Lisa
and I both had them as kids but only recently did they appear on the
refrigerator. I wanted one for some time but wanted to build a rather
intricate and ornate version which always seemed beyond my skills. I
think there is a lesson in this experience. I alone separated myself
from the joy of an Advent Calendar through my own insistence of
adding complications. It is like this for many at Christmas time who
seem hijack what is a fairly simply birthday celebration and instead
create a multi-layered bacchanalia so complicated that there is no
time for quiet reflection on the meaning of Christmas. When there is
no meaning then the complicated traditions become the reason for the
holiday and these traditions alone are unfulfilling. They are like
eating cake only with no protein and complex carbohydrates to back
the sugar rush.
Okay, here is where the Advent Calendar really goes to work. While
some calendars hold only candy behind each door, others tell the true
story of Christmas. This is not the story of old Saint Nick on the
rooftop but rather the birth of Jesus Christ, you know- the story you
hear each year on the Charlie Brown Christmas special and read so
well by Sally’s boyfriend Linus. Any child’s birth holds the interest
of family and friends but this birth includes all mankind. It is a
story that provides drama, anticipation and draws you into a
Christmas that doesn’t depend on lay-away. Just as sure as Jesus was
born to save mankind, the story of Christmas will save you from a
hollowed-out holiday of no substance. The story is never told in a
more compelling fashion than in the piecemeal manner of the Advent
calendar. I highly suggest you find one.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Pre-holiday cleaning
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, A Good Mistake
I had to build one more thing before the ground froze. This is project crowding tub.
Truthfully, this wasn’t a spontaneous project created to greet winter. I started this last May and finished just this week. I am willing to spend my labor more than money and so do not pale at the scores of hours paid out to create something out of very little.
A crowding tub is a semi-circle of curved gates that cattle are allowed to enter. There is then a heavy gate, mounted on a center pivot, that is swung behind then and moves them through the tub and out the exit into a cattle chute where they organize themselves single file and are then loaded into a trailer.
Crowding tubs start at about four thousand dollars. I didn’t have four thousand for this project but I knew Larry Kruse had a grain bin. Larry finds himself involved in many of my projects but he always stays pretty patient with me. The grain bin would form the semi-circle of the crowding tub.
I believe in class five gravel and geotec fabric, almost as much as I believe God and country. The fabric is laid on leveled ground and the class five goes on top of the fabric. Geotec keeps the black dirt underneath from mixing with the gravel on top and makes a real nice project base. I measured the grain bin and then traced the outside dimensions onto the class five. I then dug a post four feet into the ground about every four feet along the perimeter. Jamie Marimontes and Nate Koland used a telehandler to lift the grain bin over the group of posts that formed the semi-circle and carefully let it down on top of all that class five and geotec. I then bolted the bin to the posts after which I removed the front 1/3 of the grain bin and used those sheets to double the thickness of the remaining sheets that form the crowding tub.
Bryan Steiger (he gets drafted into my crazed projects a lot also) made up the center post which was made of four inch pipe with half-inch sidewalls buried four feet deep into concrete after which I then filled the pipe with concrete. I am not an engineer so I overbuild everything, even deep frost could not move that pipe. I was unable to place a post in one position around the perimeter of the tub and so bent one inch treated boards to follow the curve of the bin and lag bolted each board end to a post.
I am proud of the header system I used across the opening of the bin and often use a flashlight to visit the whole project after Lisa has gone to bed.
I added some new pens, a sorting chute and Bryan built me a palpation cage too but those are all pretty standard so I didn’t mention these little additions. I am most proud of the crowding tub because it left me only about seven hundred dollars lighter and is probably more stout than most professionally-built models.
I like to use my creativity to enlist items forgotten by time to make something better than new. I am supposed to model my life after the example created by the Lord and if He can use the stone cast aside by the builders for a cornerstone then I can sure use a grain bin for a crowding tub.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Letter to Dave-October
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, the Harvest in Four Acts
I am writing specifically about the sugar beet harvest today however
it could certainly pertain to any harvest.
Act I Common Courtesy
Everything means more at harvest time. People are cold, short on
sleep and maybe ready to move onto something other than harvest. It
is at these times when the value of common courtesy is so apparent. A
simple thank-you recognizes the hard work people people perform and
also makes it easier to communicate. So much gets lost in translation
when people are half-asleep and a little common courtesy blunts what
might otherwise be misunderstood as a sharp jab. We are all so
focused on performing our tasks quickly that I think if everyone
slows down just enough to think and offer up some common courtesy, it
will make our time more pleasant.
Act II Purgatory
My regular semi needed a little work last week so I drove the
replacement truck. This is a fine, older truck that was made to fit
smaller people who like to be tossed around inside it’s cab. I forget
how spoiled I am with the semi I drive and this quad-axle (four rear
axles-one front axle) was a nice reminder. I drove it for about 1 ½
hours and rang in each quarter hour by banging my elbow on the
armrest in response to unavoidable potholes. Uncle Larry was in the
other semi and also used the replacement truck during repairs on his
regular ride. He named the replacement truck “Purgatory” and I
believe it will stick. I don’t know which sins I paid for during my
time in “Purgatory” but I hope they were really bad ones.
Act III Progress Report
We’re doing fine, we will complete the harvest and you will have
sugar for your coffee. We have never left a sugar beet in the field
that someone was willing to process. It began to rain on Wednesday
and was still raining as of this writing. The rain started slow then
increased its volume to the point I wasn’t completely sure the trucks
would leave the field unassisted. By the grace of my differential
lock and the Tireboss I reached the relative safety of the gravel
road then headed back to “R and R Farms central” for some coffee and
a re-ride of the morning. It’s nice to be almost done with harvest
and standing inside with a warm cup of coffee, petting Sammy the
Labrador and eating vanilla crème cookies.
Act IV We’re so sorry
The farmers, the truckers, the people at the beet dump all have one
thing in common-we’re there to make money. I spoke with one fellow
who was working nights at the beet dump and days at his regular job.
It’s hard on each worker but maybe harder on the people at home. I
know when Lisa comes home she finds me tired, cranky and almost
catatonic. I hope the people at home can comfort themselves with the
two-week loss of spouse or parent that this work is essential and
also helps each household make ends meet. I know that home life
suffers some during the harvest and for that I would like to tell
those tending the home fires that we are sorry and thank-you for
putting up with the zombie you live with during this harvest. It will
soon be over and know that we are being extra-careful.
Epilogue: Thanks for the hat John. The task of keeping my large
melon warm is great, however I feel that knit chapeau is up to the