Monday, July 16, 2007

Y'all ready for this?! AKA "Shockin' y'all!"

So, it's been a while. And, as fate would have it, I find myself blogging from Dallas, TX again. Just not at the airport this time - rather, right next to the LBJ Freeway in a hotel room, complete with noisy drunks running through the hallways. Did I mention I'm starting this blog posting on a Monday night? Do these people not have to work tomorrow morning?!

Whatever. Speaking of LBJ, I told you I would post the picture I took from our Dallas office overlooking the LBJ Freeway (BONUS POINTS for those of you who actually know what LBJ stands for...), so here it is. Fabulous, huh? Or not...

Since I last posted, SO MUCH has happened. It's been a veritable cascade of fun-ness! First and foremost I got to visit the long-lost Tennessee relations. Let me clarify the long-lost - it was ME who was long-lost, not them. They've been in the same place forever, it's just that I took a long time getting back. You know, like 10 years. Honestly. I was 16 the last time I saw those folks - do you know how much STUFF happens to a person between the ages of 16 and 26? Sit back and think about it for a while. It will astound you!

But the trip to TN, though LONG overdue, was well worth wait. The weather was wonderful, the days were full of fun stuff to do, and - oh, yeah - the people weren't half bad either! :) I got to go to a couple of antique stores in Goodletsville, got the grand tour of the drastically different White House proper, listened to great music, oohed and aahed over a spectacular fireworks show, snooped around in the relatives' houses (thanks for the tours, y'all!), took a couple dips in the pool, went golfing in Kentucky, and cheered loud - and probably fairly annoyingly - at my cousin's baseball games (x3!) It was a busy couple of days, but it was absolutely awesome to see everyone again, and I SWEAR it will not be 10 more years until I return!

My cousin, R3 or R4, batting. There are four boys, all with names starting with R, and the youngest two are twins. Can't ever remember which is older (and I think I've asked about 20 times) - sorry guys! If you follow the yellow top line of the fence across from left to right, you'll see the blur of the baseball as it came in, about 7/8ths of the way across.

Little Sister and the other half of R3/R4. Can't you tell they're both intent on watching the game?!

After getting back from TN, it was just as busy at home. Before I even returned to PF, I had a message on my VM asking if I could help organize the Variety Show for the annual Prairie Farm Dairy Days. And because I have nothing better to do, of course I volunteered. For those of you who remember "back in the day" when Conway and Loretta brought down the house (or at least Neumann Auditorium) during Homecoming at Wartburg College, you will be happy to know that Loretta is still performing, garnering rave reviews at each subsequent appearance. Except this time, it wasn't "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man," but rather a song normally performed by a "friend" or Loretta's - Juice Newton's Angel of the Morning.

Ms. Loretta, getting her groove on. Notice the awesome picture taking abilities of B - I didn't marry him because of his skill with a camera...

Yours truly, expressing my happieness on finally having the Variety Show behind me!

All in all, the variety show was a train wreck with a Hee Haw theme. Some of the acts were good, but others not so much, lead in part by a poor girl of about 6 who did a piano solo of the children's song E-I-E-I-O.

Ad nauseam.

It was pitiful, especially considering the audience started clapping before she was done, wishfully thinking they had reached the end of a particularly painful auditory assault. She, however, was completely oblivious, hesitantly plunking away until she reached the end. Oh well, for all I know, she may turn out to be the next Van Cliburn.

Dairy Days was the weekend of the 13-15, but earlier that week the oats were ready for swathing and shocking. If you are unfamiliar with the way in which grains used to be gathered, let me enlighten y'all. When grains mature today, they are typically run through a swather, which produces windrows which are in turn run through a combine. However, in the days before combines and everything, more steps were needed to process, dry, separate, and bale grains and grain by-products. Stands of grain were processed using a grain binder (or just binder), and unusual looking contraption that used a sickle bar (similar to a long rod with multiple pairs of scissors attached) to cut grain stalks, which were laid - always grain-head side up - on a conveyor. These stalks were then sent through the conveyor system, which processed the loose grain into small bundles, tied with baling twine. The bundles are then set up into little piles, called shocks. The shocks consist of 7 bundles: a pair in the middle, a pair on the right, a pair on the left, and one bundle spread over the top. The bundles are arranged so that each is standing upright, with the grain heads tilted toward the middle, forming a sort of tunneled pyramid under the bundles. Seasoned shockers will tell you the two signs of a strong shock are a formation tight enough to support the weight of a person sitting on top, and a tunnel wide enough for a small dog to run through. After the grain has dried, the bundles are fed into a threshing machine. This machine separates the grain heads and stalks from the kernels. Kernels are kept in a hopper on the thresher, while chaff (the heads and stalks) are blown out the side or top. Once enough chaff accumulates, the extra materials is baled into bedding for animals, so that no part of the grain is wasted.
Since you're all experts now, here are a couple of picts of PF family and friends binding and shocking. Threshing happens in late August/early September . My family holds an annual event called the Turtle Creek Thresherman's, with the centerpiece of the festivities being my late grandfather's early 1900s threshing machine, usually Labor Day Weekend. This year the date is Saturday, September 1st. Typically the day is marked by antique machinery, antique people, and antique jokes. But, truthfully, much fun is had by all, and there's always something to see, someone to talk to, and pie to eat.

Cousin Goober running the binder (funky looking thing running behind the tractor) while our friend/neighbor Leon keeps it between the lines. Goob tries to gather 7 bundles on the binder before releasing them

My Da, gathering bundles

Bother #2 sets an end pair in a shock

Leon, taking a coffee break, letting B run the binder tractor.

Grandma N, bringing refreshments to the field. Lemonade and fresh (read: still melting chocolate chips) chocolate chip cookies! Grandma's cookies are so famous, they were even mentioned on Moose Country (check out the May 2007 posting entitled Holy Cow - the World's Longest Blog for more on how much of an honor it is to be mentioned on Jay Moore's morning show).

Leon, Bother #1, Grandma, Me, and Bother #2, with a shock in the front.

Who's that stud shocking bundles? Oh, wait, it's B! He's spreading the stalks on the 7th bundle to cover the six bundles underneath from excess moisture.

Three stages, right to left - standing grain, piles of bundles, and finished stocks.

Goob, say hi! B and Bother #2 in the background.
The newest member of the family, Cheeseman, shocks his first bundles. Doesn't he look like he's having the time of his life? I don't know - sure beats making cottage cheese...
Then on Monday it was back to Dallas for a presentation on CPNI (customer proprietary network information) and the new rules the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has implemented regarding that information's use and protection. Yeah, if you're not in the industry, it's a complete snoozer of a topic, but within the industry, as I found out during today's (Tuesday's) session, it certainly is the source of a lot of strong feelings.

Also, regarding the telecommunciations industry, as couple of the TN relatives were looking for the National and State Do Not Call list numbers, to help block telemarketer calls on their home lines. The National number is 888-382-1222 or click here to register via Internet. You can do this for residential or personal wireless phones. As far as the Tennessee state list, the number to call is 877-872-7030, or register online here. Again residential land lines or personal wireless phones. It doesn't hurt anything to register in more than one spot, but just remember different states have different rules regarding length of registration, so your number may be on your state list for a longer or shorter time than on the national. When you register, the site or phone number should tell you the length of time for which your registration is valid.

Business aside, tomorrow (Wednesday) I head to Lubbock, where I'll get to meet my colleagues in that office for the first time, and then I give the presentation to another group of clients on Thursday. After that, home and more landscaping await. I'll be sure to post the before and afters. It should be quite the project.

1 comment:

BGK said...

This is soooo much better than the Arland News!!!