Winter Sunset

Winter Sunset

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

AWOL

I didn't really intend to be AWOL from the blog for nearly a week. But neither did I intend to catch the holiday bug de jour.

You know, you teach your kids to share. Then they teach their kids to share. And you think it's a good thing. And it is ... until they share their germs.

Kinley was sick right before Thanksgiving. She shared it with her Mommy. Her Mommy shared it with Randy. And Randy generously shared it with me.

Jill still isn't back to 100 percent after more than 2 weeks. Randy is still struggling after more than a week. I'm figuring that listeners to KFRM radio's Central Kansas report think there's a new reporter, since my voice is about an octave lower than normal.

And, yes, Santa: We all had flu shots. 

Early last week, I carried the Christmas tree and all the tubs filled with Christmas finery upstairs myself, since Randy was sick. The evening after I took him to the doctor, I decorated the tree. I'm really glad I did. The next day, the congestion and headache hit its next victim - me!

And, I must admit, those sparkling Christmas lights made laying on the couch a little more tolerable last week.

Right now, there's nothing under the tree. But, thankfully, that doesn't reflect my level of preparation. I have wrapped nearly all my gifts. I now just need to gather the energy to cart them all upstairs.

Since I'm handing out blame to Jill, I'll also hand out credit. She was ultra-organized this year. She wanted her own Christmas purchases made and wrapped before she returned to work from maternity leave. Thankfully, her promptness inspired me to "get 'er done," too. I am very thankful for that right about now!

And another thing? I wouldn't trade those days with the kids and grandkids - even if they came with a few side effects!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Film Star

Photo from the Susanna Wesley email newsletter
Some people may be waiting for the Christmas Day release of the movie, "Unbroken." There's already Oscar talk for the movie based on Laura Hillenbrand's book, which tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II.

I'm sure it will be great, but I'm waiting on the release of a new film a little closer to home. It's "The Christmas Story by SW Kids."

Move aside, Angelina Jolie. This film has the biggest star of all. Our newest granddaughter, Brooke, stands in for Baby Jesus. Kinley could have had her time in the limelight, too. The role of "little lamb" could have been hers if stage door jitters hadn't derailed her acting debut. 

"SW" stands for Susanna Wesley, the United Methodist Church where Jill, Eric, Kinley and Brooke attend in Topeka. "The Christmas Story by SW Kids" will debut on Sunday, December 21, during their morning worship services. After that, the video will be a Christmas greeting from the church, offering a message of hope, peace and salvation in a fallen world.

I've been waiting for a month to see it.

She looks like a film star, ready for her closeup, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Get a Mooo-ve On by Kinley Marie

Hello! It's Kinley Marie, getting a "moo-ve" on at my Grandpa's and Grandma's farm.

I was there with my family to celebrate Thanksgiving and an early Christmas. We were going to have our own feast for the second day in a row! But the cattle needed their breakfast first. I learned that a farmer has to make sure his animals are fed, even when there are important things to do - like open presents!

Grandpa wanted me to ride with him in their big, big, BIG feed truck. I said, "No, no, NO!" It was much too big and much too loud. So Grandma and I followed behind him in the pickup.
Once Grandpa got to Peace Creek, he turned the big truck around and went through the gate to the silo.
Jake was in the tractor and got silage in his tractor scoop. (Click on the silage link to learn more about silage on my Grandpa's and Grandma's farm. I am not the only writer in the family.)
He dumped scoops into Grandpa's feed truck. I counted them, "1, 2, 3!"
Then Grandpa drove down the road into another lot and unloaded silage into the bunks.
Jake brought two bales of hay on the back of the tractor.
Soon, the cattle came running! I guess they were hungry.
I watched them eat. Silage must taste better than it looks and smells.
There was a calf looking in the mirror at me while I was looking at his friends!
Once we got back to the farmyard, Grandpa picked up a handful of silage and showed it to me. I was glad I was getting homemade pizza for lunch instead of silage.
Feeding cattle was quite an adventure. I had plenty to tell my fellow preschoolers when I got back home. They know all about Old MacDonald. But I know a real farmer, and he's my Grandpa!

But, I have to be honest (since my Mommy and Daddy say that's important). I liked swinging even better than feeding the calves and the kitty cats. I know I can swing at home, too, but I really do like Grandma and Grandpa's swing in their backyard.
Until next time,
Kinley Marie

P.S. My sister did not get to go on the expedition to feed the calves. She also did not get to swing. Sorry, Brooke. Maybe next time.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weather ... or Not?

"Weather" or not we found a weather balloon is still up for debate. (It looks like the cat has an opinion, but he kept it to himself.)

Randy drove past "trash" on the road a few times on Friday before stopping to investigate. He thinks it's the remains of a weather balloon, though there was no attached data box.
We used a more archaic method to determine our rainfall this weekend. The rain gauge collected 0.80" of rain. It gave the 2015 wheat crop a nice drink of water. 

When the kids were in elementary school, a weather balloon provided a "show and tell" opportunity.

According to How Stuff Works, scientists have been using weather balloons for more than 70 years. In these days of advanced radar systems, you have to wonder if the weather balloon will soon become obsolete.

But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the National Weather Service uses radiosonde data to accurately assess and predict changes in the atmosphere: "The data help forecasters identify and warn the public and pilots of severe weather and helps verify satellite data and input for weather prediction models. The data also further research for weather and climate change."

Here's how it works: 
As the balloon rises through the atmosphere, radiosonde sensors measure and transmit profiles of air pressure, temperature and relative humidity from the Earth’s surface to about 20 miles high in the sky. While in flight, radiosonde sensors also obtain data for wind direction and speed. Radiosonde data are received by a ground-tracking receiver, which processes it for transmission to weather forecasters and other data users. This information is a primary source of upper-air data for weather prediction models.
From the NOAA website

According to NOAA, the National Weather Service recovers less than 20 percent of the 75,000 radiosondes released each year. We wish we could have helped them out, but the data box was missing on this one.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Photo Finish

It came down to a photo finish. In this case, my photo, Blizzard Baby, earned second-place honors in the Faces of Agriculture division of the 2014 Kansas Farm Bureau annual photo contest.

There's prize money involved, which is definitely nice. But, more importantly to me, it recognizes my work. I spend a lot of time photographing life on our South Central Kansas farm. I share photos and information about our farming and animal husbandry practices on the blog, which I've been doing since January 2010.

But, as I often say, I'm no Pioneer Woman when it comes to blog followers or commenters. And that can get discouraging.

It doesn't take long for a blogger who is denigrating wheat producers' use of herbicides to have an army of people commenting on how farmers are too stupid to realize that big ag companies are brainwashing all of us. There's many a blogger or YouTube activist who wants us to keep cattle roaming pastures all year. (Never mind that there's no pasture for cattle to eat in much of the Plains during the winter months. Let's not let facts get in the way of a good rant.)

So, when my work is recognized, it does feel good. I enter the Farm Bureau contest every year. In 2008, I got a second-place trophy for this photo I took on the first sunrise after the massive December 2007 ice storm that knocked out our power for 12 days. But I hadn't had a winner since then.
There were three categories for the Kansas Farm Bureau contest this year. My other photos didn't place.

This one was entered in the Uh Oh Monday category. As I said on my entry, this calf decided to test the theory that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence, while the farmer objected to the experiment.
I entered a sunset photo of the Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op in the Seasons of Agriculture category.
It's always hard for me to figure out which of the thousands of photos I take each year to enter. (What else is new? I've been having these butterfly-inducing dilemmas since I started entering things in the county 4-H fair or singing at music contests as a kid.)

To see the prize-winning photos from other Kansas photographers, click on this link to the Kansas Farm Bureau. Thanks Kansas Farm Bureau!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Outtakes for Christmas?

The photo Christmas card is a tradition at our house. Actually, it's part of a much longer tradition. My parents have been sending photo Christmas cards since I was the first star of the show back in 1957. However, by the time 1958 rolled around, I was already sharing space with my sister, Lisa, on the annual missive from Bob and Janis.

It was only natural, I suppose, that we continued the tradition with our own children. Back when Jill and Brent were little, this annual attempt was captured on film. And you weren't sure what you'd gotten until the film was developed. I have rolls and rolls of film chronicling the misadventures of getting two little kids to look their best in the same frame.
 
This was the photo we ended up choosing in 1988, Brent's first appearance on the card. Jill would have been 3 years and 3 months, and Brent was 7 months.
Here is another of our many attempts in 1988. 
 
I guess I had amnesia regarding the number of photos you take to get one photo that's Christmas card worthy. But it all came back to me as we tried to get a Christmas card photo of our granddaughters.
 
At least it's digital now and you can delete them off the memory card at will. Kinley, who will be 3 later this month, is at that cheesy fake smile stage unless you capture her in action.
Brooke, who is 3 months old today, will smile, but usually it's more fleeting than the camera shutter can record.
 
There's a reason I'm not a professional photographer. I can usually capture a pretty sunset, but portraiture is another thing all together. (And, by the way, do you think Kinley looks just a little bit like her Mommy?)
We attempted photos on Thanksgiving Day, which we spent here with some of the Moore side of the family. We tried again on Friday, when we celebrated a joint Thanksgiving/early Christmas with Randy's sister, Kathy, and her family.
I tried in Topeka when we kept the girls a couple of days earlier this week.

I haven't started putting the cards together yet. Outtakes for Christmas anyone?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Father, We Thank Thee

  Father, We Thank Thee
Words by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Photos by me

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For tender grass so fresh and sweet,
Father, we thank Thee.
 For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee.
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank Thee.
For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
For this new morning with its light, 
Father, we thank Thee,
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father we thank Thee.
For health and food, for love and friends
For everything Thy goodness sends
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
This is a rerun from an earlier post. But, on this Thanksgiving Eve, as I prepare to host Thanksgiving on Thursday and a Thanksgiving/Christmas gathering on Friday, I thought it was appropriate to share again.
I'll be away from the blog for a few days. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!