Thursday, August 27, 2015

Another senseless shooting

As did much of the nation, I was horrified and saddened to see two young lives taken by a deranged gunman yesterday. The young reporter and camera man had their entire lives in front of them. Now they will never know the joys of marriage,parenthood, and so many other wondrous opportunities that have been snatched from them.

My next thought was that I wonder when the idiots running our country will begin to bang the drum blaming guns for this killing. That makes about as much sense as blaming spoons for fat people. My first weapon was my thumb and index finger. From there I graduated to a BB gun, and then on to real weapons that could kill. However, before I ever got to the real weapons, I had a father who drilled gun safety into me incessantly.

I grew up in a very politically incorrect generation. We played Cowboys & Indians every day at recess. I also watched Roy Rogers and Gene Autry fire at least 60 shots from a six shooter pistol almost every Saturday at what we called " The Picture Show". However, I never had any difficulty distinguishing between the real and the make believe. When my Dad placed that shotgun in my hands, I knew that it was the real deal, and I had a very real responsibility to handle it with respect and never point it at anything that I did not wish to shoot.

When I look at the many cases in our country of senseless violence and mass shootings, I really don't see guns as the root cause. I see a society where we have a breakdown of the nuclear family. Values that were drilled into me are no longer being taught. Secondly, I see a lot of mental illness that is slipping through the cracks and going untreated. We have plenty of laws on the books, but we have a bloated federal government who can't even enforce the laws that they pass.

The deranged gunman who killed all of the folks in Charleston should never have passed the NICS background search for purchasing a pistol, but he did. The illegal immigrant who had been deported six times yet still killed an innocent young lady in California should never have been in our country. But he was!

I'm old school, and I wish that we could see some old school justice return to our nation. I can assure you that the US citizens of my grandfather's day would not have tolerated what we see on television every day. Justice would have been swift and certain, and some limbs from a bunch of big oak trees would be getting a workout. I guarantee you that we would not have seen as many murderers,rapists, and pedophiles running around in those days.

Have we become a nation of sheep ?I pray that is not the case. As for me, I'm about to do something that I never thought that I would need to do. I've had a concealed carry weapon permit for a long time, but now I'm about to utilize it. I believe that our justice system is a joke, and the bad guys know that even better than I do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This & That

Well, like many of you I watched the stock market gyrations yesterday with more than passing interest. I feel kind of like the old cattleman who said, " I left the gate open, and all of my stock got out". I got up early this morning to watch all of the expert predictions as to what was going to happen today with the markets. Those predictions range from a minor correction to a Dow of 6000. They know about as much as I do, which is zilch.

What I do know is a feeling expressed by an old timer down here who once said, " Lord, please don't give it to me if you are going to take it away". If I never had it, I would not miss it. I can think of a lot of things that I was perfectly content to live without until they became a necessity in my life once they were invented. The cell phone is a prime example. However, I have always been kind of partial to eating well, and paying my bills.

This market correction, if that is indeed what id going on, is something that I predicted and anticipated. My only problem is that I was a good 18 months premature on my prediction as I went mostly to cash that long ago. I watched the market continue to soar while I have earned a magnificent one-tenth of one percent return on cash. Oh well, the sun doesn't shine up the same dog's fanny all of the time.

I'm still not ready to jump back into this market as I have always believed that pigs get fed while hogs get slaughtered. I've been patient this long; so I am comfortable to stay on the sidelines a while longer while the elephants trample one another. I wish that I had some confidence in the Fed or our elected officials, but I have absolutely no faith in them.

I have reached the sad stage in my life where I fear my own government more than I do ISIS. It seems that every day, they are eroding or taking another basic right of our democracy away. I feel a bit like a sheep, and I don't like feeling like a sheep. I firmly believe that it is time for us to fight for the future of our children and grandchildren. I have no idea as to who the best candidate for president of the US would be at the moment, but I have some strong feelings as to who would not be good candidates.

In the meantime, our garden is still feeding us, the pine trees are growing, and the quail are multiplying like crazy in the woods. Fall is just around the corner, and our weatherman is predicting that we will get a taste of fall tomorrow. Let's hope that he predicts the weather better than I do the stock market !

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

No place like home

My wife kidnapped me and took me on an all expense paid trip(paid by me) to Ireland for 2+ weeks. As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz," There's no place like home,Toto". I enjoyed the trip immensely, but I sure was glad to see my house again. Sometimes we need to leave South Georgia to realize just how beautiful this place we call home is--heat, humidity, gnats, and all.

 The scenery in Ireland was just awesome, and the people were so friendly and helpful. It's more comforting to me to visit a foreign country where they speak a language I understand even if with a strong accent. Of course, we ran into plenty of US citizens who struggled to understand our South Georgia dialect. I enjoyed the countryside more than the cities, but that is just my nature. After a while, all castles and cathedrals look the same to me, but terrain is constantly changing.

Speaking of cathedrals, I located one of my ancestors who had a burial vault on the floor of the church. I was feeling fairly smug until our guide pointed out that Michelle Obama's uncle, six generations removed, was also buried in this church. My smart butt friend, Earl, quickly made the connection that I must be kin to Michelle. Now what I found interesting was that they could trace her lineage that far back, but we can't find her husband's college transcripts.

We also saw some of the best dog work I have ever observed with border collies herding sheep. A sheep herder gave us a private demonstration of two of the best trained dogs that I have ever seen. Each dog performed individually or as a team based on hand signals and whistles from their trainer. It was most impressive! Oh, did I mention that they have quite a few sheep in Ireland?

I will not bore you with all of the places we visited, but we covered both Ireland, and spent a few days in The Republic of Northern Ireland. My take on Northern Ireland is that those wounds have not healed, and it would not take much of a spark for a fire to blaze back up. We were more comfortable when we exited there and got to Dublin.

Guess what folks? College football season is just around the corner, and hunting season will be here before we know it. We are ready. The woods are beautiful, the quail are plentiful, and the guides and dogs are chomping at the bits!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dog Days of Summer

When I was a little boy, my mother always cautioned me about the Dog Days of Summer. She would warn me that if I cut myself, which I invariably did with my trusty Barlow knife, that the wound would not heal until after that period ended. And, as usual, Mom was right. I had always thought that the term " Dog Days of Summer" referred to the fact that it was so hot down here that even the dogs couldn't stand it and tended to go crazy.

I now know that is not the case. I believe that the Romans coined the phrase, and it refers to that time when Sirius, the Dog Star,rose just before or at the same time as the sun. The Romans believed it to be an evil time when" the sea boiled,wine turned sour,dogs grew mad,and all other creatures became languid". Well, the Romans had at least some of that correct.

I have also read various dates which encompass the Dog Days, and those dates have changed over the years. My best estimate would be to peg the Dog Days of Summer as somewhere from mid July through mid August. What really got me to pondering on this subject was watching our weather forecast for the first three days of this week. Our local weatherman said that Monday of this week was going to be "hot", Tuesday was going to be "oppressive", and that Wednesday was going to be "hideous". Now I have been watching the weather for as long as I can remember, but this is the first classification of "hideous" that I can recall.

My best description of this time of the year is that it is too hot to fish any more, and it's still a little too early to begin getting excited about hunting season; so I think that I will just become languid like the Romans of old and the Riverview employees of today. However, I really can't blame anyone for moving slower and taking more breaks in this heat and humidity!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Follow up on dog kennels

One of my guests recently emailed me and asked me how our bird dogs fared in this heat we have been experiencing in South Georgia for the past three weeks, and wanted a better explanation of their housing facilities. The best way to answer that question is to first explain that the pointer breed of hunting dog was born and bred for the south, much like the Brahma cattle and us southern rednecks. You just have to be a native to survive this weather.We shave all of our English setters and any other long-haired, bigger hunting dogs late in the spring so that their hair looks very similar to mine.

However, to be more specific,our big dogs all have concrete runs with automatic feeders and waterers in them. Each run accommodates two dogs, and they share a dog house. Over the top of each house, we run a sheet of reflective metal to bounce the sun's rays back skyward. But, make no mistake about it--It is still very hot at the kennels in July and August.

Now the new digs for our English Cockers are different. To begin with, each of them have individual houses, and each house has a fan mounted to blow air on them. I can just see their neighbors in the lower class kennels glaring at them each day. In my opinion, somebody is going to bite somebody when they get a chance because jealousy has to be rampant at the Riverview kennels.

The most interesting time to be around our kennels is usually around the second week in September. That's when Moss, our kennel manager, starts assigning dogs to guides. Each guide will have a certain number of consecutive runs that houses his dogs; so dogs that have been living together suddenly have new roommates. Guess what ? Dogs get along with one another about as good as people do. Someone almost has to live at the kennels for a while until we can figure out the pairings of dogs that can share a kennel without fighting. And a bird dog fight is not a pretty thing. They fight to win, and play for keeps. I have actually seen a male pointer rip another pointer to shreds.

When I was a kid, I had a huge German Shepherd that liked to walk out to the dog kennels and torment them with the fact that he was roaming free while they were in confinement. Our kennel manager at that time, Mr. Bobby Sharp, had asked me repeatedly to keep my dog in the yard, but I ignored him. He finally got enough of it one day, and let one of our big male pointers out while Vengie was tormenting them. We never had to worry about Vengie visiting the dog kennels again after he drug his bloody, whipped butt to the house.

In closing, the woods and food plots look great. Hunting and football season will be here before we can blink an eye, and we are ready !

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Weather

An old friend once told me,"Don't knock the weather because without it, no one would ever know how to start a conversation". Well, I can guarantee you that our weather in South Georgia is the number one topic of conversation these days. It's so hot down here right now that I'm fairly certain that I saw Satan sitting under an oak tree a few minutes ago fanning himself with a church fan. I couldn't tell what church the fan belonged to, but I'm certain that it was not a Baptist church fan.

In our part of Mitchell County, there are a lot of folks with poultry houses who raise chickens. Now in case you are unaware of this fact, let me tell you that chickens need very little of an excuse to die. If it is too hot or too cold, they just check out for greener pastures. Maybe they are smarter than I think they are, and are merely choosing to die earlier rather than ending up in some preacher's belly on a Sunday afternoon. At any rate, one of my poultry grower friends told me where to order a gizmo that measures all kinds of things that he needs to keep up with in his chicken houses.One of the functions on this gadget measures the temperature/humidity index. In South Georgia we call that the "feels like temperature".

I was shocked to find out that I had to order this device from Pennsylvania. You would think that southerners would have cornered the market on how to measure heat. I took my handheld device outside a few minutes ago, and it gave me a temperature/humidity index reading of 114.2 degrees! Hey folks, we have not reached the hottest part of the day here yet! This old boy is retreating to the office for the remainder of the day. I'm not ashamed to admit that I am not as tough as I once was.

In my next blog, I plan to share a bit more about the kennels being built for our English Cockers. Suffice it to say, I am not nearly as concerned about Martha making me sleep in the dog house as I once was. I also firmly believe that our pointers are going to be seriously offended as they compare their accommodations with the ones these Cockers have.

Please allow me to close with this quote from John Adams,"Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people". To that quote, I would like to add one of my father's favorite sayings that went something like this," never under estimate the dumbness of the voting population of this country". Is it any wonder that our laws are being broken, our constitution violated, and our rights taken from us on an almost daily basis? We have a voting population who primarily get their news from the late night talk shows when folks like me are asleep.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sweet Corn and Saw Timber

Well, we are finally finished with our sweet corn harvesting and will finish our timber thinning program this coming week. I know that everyone is familiar with the old expression," sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you". Well, the bear got us in the sweet corn business this season. We had high yields and great quality, but struggled with weak demand and low prices for almost our entire window of production. We finally got to the last ten days of harvest when both demand and prices strengthened, and then along came the storms and blew a lot of this spindly stuff to the ground.

Our Haitian harvesting crews call blown down sweet corn,"sleepy corn". They do not like to pick it, but they will. Of course they charge more money for having to bend over so much and struggle with picking it off of the ground. Yield declines in blown down corn are inevitable. Our average crate per acre harvest dropped by about 100 crates to the acre in what was our best price market. As I was chatting with my close friend and partner yesterday about this business, he commented," Isn't it so much fun to work this hard to break even?" He also told me that I had made a joking but disparaging comment in an earlier blog when comparing my hunting guests to my harvesting crews; so let me set the record straight on that issue. My comments were meant as tongue-in-cheek. After re-reading it, I can see that it was insensitive. While our workforce of migrants are uneducated, they are some of the hardest working folks in the world. They do a job that no one else in this country could or would do. I will still stick to the fact that my mind will never be able to grasp" Haitian logic". I do not and can not understand how they think, but they are some hard working human beings.

Perhaps if anyone in this business of growing sweet corn is not very bright, it is us farmers who continue to take huge risks each year growing what is annually becoming a more expensive crop with diminishing returns. I am beginning to ponder the risk/reward relationship in this business. A crop that once cost me about $500 per acre to grow now costs north of $1200 an acre to grow. It is much harder to walk by and skip harvesting a $1200 per acre planting due to weak demand than it was to skip a $500 per acre cost planting in the past.

On a more pleasant subject, God blessed us with great weather for a timber thinning program. We have stayed right behind the thinning operation with two big, rubber tired front end loaders. Our employees cleaned up and burned all of the debris left behind. We then came behind that operation and planted a bunch of different grasses on the bare land. Thanks to the abundant rains( some of which produced the storms that blew down the sweet corn), the grass has flourished, and healed the land. Honestly, if I did not know the areas that we had thinned, I would not be able to tell any logging operation had even occurred on those tracts.

 Now I plan to ride out and look at these Taj Mahal kennels that Jerry and Cader IV are constructing for our English Cockers. I think that if I were one of our pointers, I would hire me a lawyer and file a class action discrimination lawsuit. So far, all I have seen is the bills for this project. I plan to look at the actual facilities this morning, and may reserve me a room there. Depending on how I get along with my wife this weekend, reserving a room might be mandatory rather than optional.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Unless you have to come to South Georgia this weekend, I would advise you to stay well north of us. It's going to be HOT down here this weekend!!