Sunday, August 24, 2014


Over the 20 plus years we've lived here our landscaping has been a varied and ever changing lot of annuals, perennials, shrubs that sometimes looked marginally good and sometimes not-so-good.  Last year we decided to engage the services of a landscape architect.  This has worked out well.  Here are a number of photos taken over the past year.

May 2013.  South side of house. 
Ready to start planting

Digging out the barberry.  The boxwoods stay.

Old sidewalk removed.  Flagstone walkway in place.

Sidewalk WAS done but gets dug out so drainage pipe can be put underneath.

A bit of a mess....   especially when it starts to rain later!

Blue False Indigo, Fire Witch Dianthus and Red Sedum are in.

Coreopsis, Boxwood, etc.

Daisies, Woods Purple Aster & Yarrow

Brenda was out of town when all these were planted.  When she got home, she was underwhelmed.
But with a little time to grow, things got better.

6 weeks later.

2013 had about 5 weeks of no rain mid-summer so the watering, watering, watering begins.

1 year later.  Brenda feels better now!

May of 2014

Planted a Black Gum tree too.

From the side door.

Street view.

June - and things are blooming now!

Front side landscaping in the next blog.


Great convention this year at Seneca.  We even got a bonus with all our family able to be there.  Sunday AM we shot a few quick photos. 

Including Brenda's good friend; Cadence.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Eagle Scouting

From where I was sitting while turkey hunting, I spotted a pair of bald eagles and their nest.  While I've seen eagles in the wild numerous times, this was the first time I'd come across a nesting pair and been able to watch (with binoculars, but without my camera) for a couple hours.  After bagging a turkey, I packed all my gear and started to head home.  As I was leaving I decided the opportunity to get some photos would be worth putting my boots back on and hiking 1/2 mile.  Here are the photos. These are with a 600mm. lens and some cropping.  I wasn't nearly as close as it looks.

Are there turkeys in Michigan?

Yes, there are turkeys in Michigan.  I am carrying one.  Pointing that out right away might clear up some confusion lest you think the turkey here is wearing camo and sporting graying hair!!

A special thanks to our hosts for allowing Don & I to hunt again this year. 

From inside the cab

Spent some time in the field this spring preparing fields for planting. 

This is what I saw if I was looking ahead...

Or if looking over the right shoulder...

And when looking over the left shoulder...

And in the cab...

Fun Facts:
  • At 8 mph and a 42 foot field cultivator, about 30 acres per hour can be tilled.
  • Tilling 160 acres means driving about 50 miles.
  • Each acres is tilled with a little over 1/2 gallon of diesel fuel.
  • Last Monday I worked 3 fields totaling just under 160 acres in 6.25 hours.
  • The same day, about 4,960,000 corn seeds were planted on that acreage.
  • That amount of seed would have cost about $15,000.

Harley? Hardly!!

Custom motorcycle shops across the country are producing one-of-a-kind bikes every day for folks who want something different, something unique.  I found this old custom bike in French Lick, IN.  A bike like it, I've never seen!  Among other things you will see:
  • Bicycle fork & front wheel
  • Horseshoe handlebar mount
  • Bull horns for handlebar
  • Wooden barrel for gas tank
  • Saddle for seat
  • Headers of some variety for exhaust
  • Horseshoe with spurs for foot rest
  • Garden spade for rear fender
  • Pitch fork for purpose unknown
  • And most amazing of all?  Electrolux propulsion system!!

The owl is not part of the bike.  It is part of some other unique gadget.

To Invent...

Thomas Edison said it like this, "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."  
My Dad has both. 

Now nothing he's ever put together has been turned into a product for mass production and marketed to the consumer.  That would never really be the point anyway.  And although I've heard countless times, "Why buy it when you can make it", I don't think that is really the point either.  Obviously all the devices shown below were constructed for a purpose and mostly at a cost far less than purchasing a similar item at Tractor Supply or some such retailer.  

Two characteristics of the collection?  
"Function over Form" and "You don't have to paint"

 Need to haul water to the garden.  Fortunately Dad had an axle, angle iron and a tank in the scrap pile.  Had to purchase the hose.

 Need to haul wood or animals I suppose. Or even a bathtub perhaps.

Need a front end loader.  Found a tractor or combine axle, a motor, built a frame.
  Oops, another project must have taken priority.  Finishing will have to wait.

There is an integral part to the loader ready and waiting whenever construction resumes.

Pontoons ready for the boat?

Sawmill is fully functional.  Purchased a motor and cutting blade and maybe some steel.  This has cut lots of lumber.  Need a cabin?  Like rustic?  Dad might have some rough-cut lumber just the way you like it!!

Hand help seeder too small for the job?  Here is one that fits on your tractor.  (It's upside down if you are finding it hard to figure out)

Lots of leaves in the yard?  This high capacity vacuum will hold a pretty good load considering it's probably 6 feet high. 

And the scraper.  This has moved many yards of dirt.  It started with an old gas tank cut in half.

I used to think Dad wasted time on building things to accomplish tasks that could have gotten done, perhaps faster, or more efficiently or even sometimes cheaper if he'd bought equipment or hired a job done.  But I've come to understand that some people have hobbies like golf, fishing, hiking and some folks like to build stuff.  Dad likes to build and I believe the real point is; the construction is just as important, maybe more important, than the task that is accomplished with the finished product.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Nature Made Snow Balls

Looked out the window one morning this past winter.  A fresh snow had fallen and the yard had several sets of tracks.  Hmm.  What kind of a critter would make tracks like this?

Oddly spaced, uneven and no uniformity of size.  

So there is the culprit!  

 First time I'd seen "snow rollers".  Snow falls at a temperature warm enough to make a good snow ball and the wind gets a small ball of snow rolling and away it goes, getting ever larger until it becomes large and heavy enough it stops. 
 It made the news in Central Illinois an this unusual phenomenon occurred throughout the region.