Saturday, July 29

Ozark Empire Fair

fair lights
Originally uploaded by duanekeys.
I walked around the Ozark Empire Fair yesterday after work. My wife is working as a trainer for one of the draft horse show exhibitors, so I spent some time in the barn while they scrambled to and fro between shows. I missed the only time Jennifer was in the ring as it was much earlier in the day.

I took a few pictures while there. You can see them here. I didn't take near as many as I planned. It was much too hot in during the day light to walk around with my camera strapped to my neck. Then after sitting in the barn for a while waiting for dark I was ready to head on home. I stopped outside the ride area to take this 20 second exposure of the rides going round and round.

The Ozark Empire Fair is definately an experience. I'm sure it doesn't differ much from the typical fair. You've got the standard fair exhibits including a petting zoo and other ag-related activities. Inside the air-conditioned E-plex, you'll find different businesses pedddlin' their wares or politicians glad-handing and kissing babies. The grandstand usually has some fairly big-name acts playing. Smaller acts are playing on other stages or booths through out the fair.

Standar fair fare, of course, includes corn-dogs, lemonade, and funnel cakes, among many other not-so-good-for-you but tasty-once-a-year-treats. I had a foot long corn-dog and a large lemonade for dinner. At $9 bucks it's one of the more expensive meals I've treated myself to in a while!

Friday, July 28

The other side of the fair

Last night I went to the fair grounds where my wife is preparing to assist with showing Percheron Draft horses in the fair. It was an interesting behind the scenes look at the fair a day before it opens. The rides were all in place but only lit by the dim street and parking lot lights of the fair grounds.

I'm always fascinated with new sub-cultures that I encounter. Fair exhibitors, specifically those exhibiting livestock, live in a whole other world. Campers and RVs lined the north parking area of the fair-grounds while in the barns people are busy with last minute grooming and care of their prize-hopeful animals.

At least in the horse barn, most people set up camp in stalls near their horses. It's apparently necessary to stay close to the animals to protect them from overly competitive people. My wife told me of a time her friend's horse was poisoned before a big show. Some people will do anything to win.

Tonight and tomorrow I plan on attending the fair, mostly to watch my wife compete, but I also plan to take lots of pictures. The recent rain ought to make for interesting reflections of the fair rides.

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Monday, July 24

Lessons of Farm Life

I feel I owe more of an explanation for the previous post on poison ivy. Here are a few lessons I have learned recently on the farm:

1. Listen to your wife, she's usually right (I've learned this one before, but I always forget).
2. Never clear brush in shorts. No matter how hot I think I'll be it will be better than suffering through poison ivy on your legs.
3. When you're wife says you should wear pants while clearing brush, see lesson 1 and 2.

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Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy
Originally uploaded by DSP (Digital Soft Paw).
In search of remedies... Post em if you got em. In the mean time I'll be sitting on my hands to prevent scratching.

Friday, July 21

From minis to giants and other goings on

Jennifer started working at a local Percheron Horse Farm as a trainer. It's slightly comical as she once worked with minutare horses (just slightly larger than our dog, Dobie) and now she's working with giant draft horses. It's hard work for sure, but she's enjoying the heck out of it.

There's a show coming up so it's pretty much work 7 days a week to prepare for the show. That means the farm's all mine this weekend. I plan on working more on the hen house. I snagged a small air nailer from my buddy Tim that I can use to build the roosts and the nesting boxes. Jennifer aqcuired more hens and a rooster so I've got a little pressure on me to complete the project.

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Thursday, July 20


We had good intentions building a fenced in backyard in which to keep the dogs. But after many sessions calling Gelleon back we had become resigned to the fact that Gelleon was going to find his way out of any enclosure and he had good farm sense and could take care of himself. I've seen him scale a 6ft chainlink fence to get out then again to get back in when we lived in Springfield. Since on the farm he has been making trips at his will to visit the neighbor dog.

The other night he came home covered in blood. After the initial panic wore off Jennifer was able to determine it was only his ear that was cut. Apparently dog ears bleed profusely and the blood on the floors and walls supported this fact. Jennifer (having experience working in a vet's office) bandaged him up as best as she could. The following day Gelleon made a trip to the vet and got the cut cauterized. We were told to super glue it shut as necessary.

Just a few nights later Gelleon, who was out another romp with his buddy Fizwad, came home. He jumped up on the couch with me and I felt a warm liquid on my leg. I knew it was hot outside, and he was definitely panting, but I didn't think it was that hot! Then I noticed that the warm liquid was crimson in color; he was bleeding all over the place. I took him in the bathroom and set him in the tub. I assisted Jennifer in cleaning his wound and trying to get the bleeding stopped long enough to put more super glue on it. Once the glue was dry we let him go.

That lasted for one shaking of the head. Blood was sprayed all over the washer and dryer, and we started the routine again. This time though, I wanted to secure his ear to his head. The image below shows the results of that effort. I used the top of a garbage bag box to secure his re-superglued ear in, then secured the cardboard to the rest of his head.

Gelleon hasn't left home since. I think his pride has been damaged too much to go hang out with Fizwad... for now.

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Monday, July 17

Gut check

I was just sure that moving to the farm and having a mile-long list of physical activities to be performed daily would counteract the 8 hours of sitting I do a day. I just knew that activities like digging holes for posts, building fence, feeding poultry, and clearing fence lines would make the old pants a little looser.

Somehow, this has not materialized. While I am sure I am burning more calories and sweating on a daily basis I believe that must all be offset (and then some) by the gallons of sweet, sweet, sweet-tea I have been consuming.

For those that may not be aware, sweet-tea can only be made properly by adding the sugar while the tea is still hot. Thus allowing the sugar to completely dissolve into a molten sugary goodness. Then and only then should it be poured over ice cubes and consumed in the hot and humid Ozark's summer. It is not the same (repeat not the same) as adding sugar to your already iced-tea. All the sugar goes to the bottom (unless you stir fast enough before drinking to suspend the sugar in the solution). If you've not tried it (and I have encountered "Yankees" who have not), do so. Oh, and it takes about a cup of sugar per gallon or more to your tastes. You do the caloric math!

In an effort to control any more horizontal growth of the midsection, to which my genes have a disposition towards, we have started drinking sweet-tea sweetened by artificial sweetener. In addition to this already drastic measure, we're trying to excercise and eat better overall. That's tough now, as living in the country and experiencing the country life involves constantly being offered sweet tea, deep fried foods, and delicious baked goods on a regular basis.

I did find a neat little site, FitDay, to keep a journal of calories as well as activities. My first day of keeping track of what I ate really surprised me, as I was making a conscious effort to "eat right." I stand corrected.

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Saturday, July 15

Fowl Progress

Originally uploaded by duanekeys.
Our fowl are growing in numbers and size. Jennifer has now acquired some chickens in addition to the guineas so the building formerly known as the guinea house is now the hen house. I took this picture while the guineas were in the temporary hutch outside the hen house. I have completed varmit-proofing (to the best of my abilty) the hen house. But since we acquired chickens I'll be building a yard for the yard birds around the hen house. I resisted having chickens but the crow of our neighbor's rooster Rojo was too much to resist for my loving wife. She bought the chickens and brought them home while I'm at work. We decided to free range the guineas but not the chickens. I've learned the chickens can be much more destructive on Jennifer's flowers and landscaping.

Below is a pic of the hen house. I've still yet to cut out the windows, screen in the windows (with hardware cloth), build nesting boxes, or places to roost in the hen house, but I'm getting closer. More pictures will follow as I complete the project.

hen house
Originally uploaded by duanekeys.

Wednesday, July 5

Summer time holidays in the country

homemade ice cream
Originally uploaded by duanekeys.
This weekend was packed full of rural weekend goodness. On top of that it was a summer-time holiday weekend, which means only one thing in these parts: home-made ice cream.

We joined our neighbors, the Blakemore's, for their annual 4th of July shin-dig. It was also a birthday celebration, Great Grandma Blakemore was somewhere between her mid twenties and her mid seventies. We enjoyed 100% pure angus beef burgers (straight off the Blakemore farm) as the main course. The supporting roles included Jennifer's raspberry vinegarette salad, with blue cheese crumbles, red-onion, candied walnuts, and pickled beets. I love that salad. The encore was the homemade ice cream, bananna, with a slice of Jennifer's Choclate Zucchini cake.

The rest of the weekend was not without events. Saturday and part of Sunday I spent with my father and my Uncle Walter building a hen house for our guineas. Many thanks to Hal, of Ranch Ramblins, for his excellent post and guided tour of his hen houses. I gleaned quite a bit of information that will help me improve upon our little building. The structure is complete, however it still requires some finishing touches (nesting boxes, windows cut out, etc). We built the entire building, 8x6 feet by 8 fee tall on one side sloping down to seven feet on the opposite end, at my dad's warehouse. He's got plenty of lumber (he deals in surplus things, lumber being one of them). We then loaded it on a flatbed trailer with fork lifts and I hauled it home.

The 80 miles pulling the building home didn't do much for my miles per gallon spreadsheet, but we got it home intact. Coy Dan was nice enough to come over and unload it for us using his tractor and front-end loader.

On the fourth, we joined the Blakemores on an adventure to the city of Fair Play's swap meet. What started as a simple quick trip turned into an all day affair involving the aquisition of half a dozen chickens, one rooster, and the construction of a poultry yard at the Blakemore's. More on that to come.

All in all it was a great weekend, and I was sad to hear my alarm clock (that is my dog Sue, she has no snooze button) go off this morning to have me rise and get ready for work.

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