I Don’ Know Nothin’ ‘Bout Birthin’ No Baby!

Been a while since posting any updates… life’s been very full! The hay field is coming in fairly well, but where did all that buttonweed come from? I realize now I should have seeded much heavier than I did, but I was basing my rate on the last time I reseeded the field, and wasn’t thinking that I had the oats in a separate bin on the grain drill then, and was effectively seeding at twice the rate I did this time. Hopefully the weeds will get choked out after it gets cut a few times.

The more interesting update to most folks will be the little surprise that greeted me when I did the animal chores this morning:

The cow’s name is Judy (named before we got her), and when I went out later this morning, our miniature horse, Spirit (who I call Sparky, as that seems to fit his disposition better) was butting and nipping the calf. Sparky quickly got penned up, and the calf was thus named Punch (as in Punch and Judy).

There should be a couple of litters of kittens joining the crew any day now. Things are really hopping!

UPDATE: Really good to see Punch taking milk – a calf’s stomach is designed by God to be fairly porous right after birth so the antibodies in the colostrum can propagate throughout the body faster. It’s really important that the calf take milk within the first 12-24 hours for that reason.

Planting Day

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About ten of our fifteen acres is in crops each year, and last fall’s harvest was field corn. I had an epic plowing session with the 8N and a two-bottom plow, and then left the field “rough” over the winter to “mellow down,” which just means the freeze/thaw cycle breaks down and loosens the dirt, leaving it soft as butter in the spring.

A few weeks ago, I borrowed my “real farmer” friend’s big John Deere tractor and field cultivator, which made quick work of leveling out the furrows left by the plowing.


Several passes were made, then a few more using a spike-tooth harrow to get everything really smoothed out and level.

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John Harper’s End

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John Harper was called to pastor the Moody Church in the early 1900s. He went down with the Titanic. And W.B. Riley related the death of Harper in this way:

“We have the history of John Harper’s end, for survivors brought to harbor in safety told it to us. When the Titanic was struck by the iceberg that drove in her sides and sent the ship to the bottom, John Harper was leaning against the railing, pleading with a young man to come to Christ.

Four years after the Titanic went down, a young Scotsman rose in a meeting in Hamilton, Canada, and said, ‘I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a piece of wood that awful night, the tide brought Mr. John Harper of Glasgow on a piece of wreckage near me. He said to me, ‘Man, are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I’m not.’ He replied, ‘Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you’ll be saved.’ And the waves bore him away, but strange to say, brought him back a little later, and again he said, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I can’t honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.’ And shortly after, he went down beneath the water. And there alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed, and I am John Harper’s last convert.'”

User Hostile Software Design

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Back when I purchased my 2000 Volkswagen New Beetle (Y2K Bug), as I’ve done with every car I’ve owned, I purchased a shop manual. Only this time, I decided to go “high tech” and got a CD-ROM version.

Big mistake.

The software on the CD-ROM has a byzantine security setup to prevent illegal copying of the content, and it hasn’t been updated in years. If the least little thing changes with your PC setup, it has to be reactivated.

As I recently upgraded to Windows 7 64bit*, you guessed it – my software stopped working again. It literally took 24 man hours to get the software working again, most of that because I had to download and install what Microsoft optimistically calls “XP Mode,” which enables you to run older programs in Windows 7.

After installing XP Mode (which involves basically creating a virtual PC in Windows 7 and then installing XP on that just like you would on a new PC), you then have to endure updating XP with all the security updates. The first pass identified about 100 patches.

You download and run those, then run the updater again, and it finds another 40 or so.

Rinse, lather, repeat, until it finally doesn’t find any more to update. There were close to 200 by the time I finished…

Glad I use a Mac.

*I run Windows 7 using VMWare Fusion, which is a virtual environment that simulates PC hardware as a software program on my Mac. It runs just as fast as it would on real hardware, and if I get a virus (thankfully never have), I just delete the hard drive file and start over from a backup.

The Screwtape Letters

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But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it…

Wretched Impediments

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“See how precious material runs to waste if the light is not trimmed! There is a thief in the candle, and so it takes to guttering and running away, instead of fielding up its substance to be used for the light.

It is sad when a Christian man has some ill habit, or sinister aim. We have seen fine lives wasted through a love of wine. It never came to actual drunkenness, but it lowered the man and spoiled his influence. So is it with a hasty temper, or a proud manner, or a tendency to find fault. How many would be grandly useful but for some wretched impediment!

Worldliness runs away with many a man’s energies; love of amusement makes great gutters in his time; or fondness for feasts and gilded society robs him of his space for service. With some, political heat runs away with the zeal which should have been spent upon religion, and in other cases sheer folly and extravagance cause a terrible waste of energy which belonged to the Lord.

You see there is fire, and there is light; but something extraneous and mischievous is at work, and it needs to be removed. If this is your case, you may well desire the Lord to snuff you, however painful the operation may be. Depend upon it, we have no life-force to spare, and everything which lessens our consecrated energy is a robbery of God.”


The Model Garage

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My plans for this winter involved cabinetry and other projects for the dining room and kitchen, but instead, I’ve spent most of my “off” time working on vehicles. Our fleet is getting older, but we’re not yet at the point of replacing vehicles, so there are more frequent repair issues to go along with regular maintenance.

So far (!), I’ve done the following repairs to our vehicles:

Tyler’s 1984 Ford Mustang (Ty did a lot of this work himself)

  • Tune-up (plugs, wires, distributor cap & rotor, fuel and air filters)
  • Oil and filter change
  • Replaced bad throttle position sensor
  • Replaced upper radiator hose due to hole from hitting fan

1995 Ford F-150 4WD Pickup

  • Tune-up (plugs, wires, distributor cap & rotor, air filter, oil & filter)
  • Replaced front brake rotors and disc pads
  • Replaced front ball joints
  • Replaced automatic transmission oil filter
  • Replaced 4WD transfer case shift linkage bracket
  • Replaced six out of seven U-joints
  • Replaced all brake lines on front half of truck (old ones rusted out)
  • Repaired broken driver’s side interior door latch (used an old fence gate hasp as the repair part!)
  • Replaced front fuel tank (old one was rusted out and leaking)
  • Wirebrushed rusty areas, primed and painted (this is a really rusty midwest truck!)

2005 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan

  • Oil & filter change
  • Replaced alternator (bearing going bad)

2000 Volkswagen New Beetle

  • I have $1000 worth of suspension parts waiting to be installed
  • Also have a complete exhaust system (another $1000) ready to install
  • Wheels are out being sandblasted and painted (were getting rusty from the winter salt), and once done, will receive new tires

So, that’s how my winter’s been going. And now it’s time to go take a look at Beth’s van again – it’s started making another noise!