Monday, January 31, 2011

Palm Beach Trolley

Today's picture was taken in 1905 and shows a horse drawn trolley. The picture was taken in Palm Beach, Florida. The trolley travels on a track, and is pulled by a horse. I wonder what the advantage was of running on a track compared to a normal carriage.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Early 1900's

Welcome to early 1900's week here at OPOD. I really find the era betweeen 1900 and 1915 to be very interesting. It was a time when cars were just becoming popular, and you would see scenes with both horse carriages and cars sharing the same street. Peope dressed nicely, and everything seemed so nice and proper. I have found some great pictures and hope you enjoy the week.

Domestic Update:

I have been busy this week and have built a plant nursery in the garage. It is a place where I can get vegetables started without taking up space in the greenhouse. 

The system uses the same hydroponic buckets that are used in the Bean Barn. The lights and irrigation are on timers, so it should not take any time to keep going. Once the plants get big and are ready to produce, the bucket will be moved to the greenhouse, and new plants will be started. This should allow me to grow more in the greenhouse, since growing space will not be taken by plants just getting started.

Handsome Jack has been very busy as well this week. His work crews are back, and it definitely looks like some sort of construction is going on behind Chickie Town. I was able to snap a few pictures from the Oak Grove.

It appears that some sort of welding is going on. I also noticed some heavy equipment starting to move steal beams into place. 

I continued to watch the work and tried to look for a chance to go ask to workers what was going on. They took a break and I got my shot.

I started to walk up to them to ask them what they were building, but then Handsome saw me, and jumped in front of me, and distracted me with all his feathers. When he does that I become mesmerized, and start counting all the eyes he has.

Isn't that magnificent feathers he has. Have you ever seen so many eyes. It is like they are all looking at you at the same time. What a magnificent bird.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mystery Person Contest

With my stunning victory last week, can I possibly win again this week? Time will tell. Let the Contest Begin!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Belle Glade, Florida

To me, this is the saddest picture we have seen all week. The picture was taken in Belle Glade, Florida. It shows two of the eleven children of a migrant family. The older boy is caring for the younger one, who has been sick and lost lots of weight. The family is stuck in Belle Glade, because the parents lost the car. I really wish that I could hear the story of how their lives played out . . . were they able to overcome this poverty and lead happy lives?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dalhart, Texas

One of the things that made the Great Depression so bad is that right in the middle of one of the worst financial crisis in the US's history, there was a drought of epic proportion. The rains just stopped. The picture above was taken near Dalhart, Texas, and you can see the conditions were such that farming or ranching was impossible.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Poor Family

Today's picture was taken in 1938 in Central Ohio. it shows a desperately poor man and his child. notice how the exterior of his home is covered by cardboard to serve as a wind break and some modest level of insulation. When I was growing up in the 60's people were still living in houses like this. The little town I grew up in had a Barrio, and it was filled with this sort of scene. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mound Bayou

Today's picture was taken in Mound Bayou, Louisiana. The picture was taken in 1939.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Migrant's Son

Good Monday morning to you all. Hope you enjoyed your weekend, and are all fired up to get back to work today. On OPOD this week, we will be looking at the Great Depression. Today's picture is from 1939, and it shows the son of Migrant Workers eating on the side of the road. As I mentioned yesterday, I believe that the Great Depression built a type of character that is sorely missing today.

Another thing I find interesting in studying the Great Depression is to go back and look at the Roaring 20's. Wow, those folks were completely caught off guard, and were oblivious to the disaster that was about to hit them. People in the 1920's had no clue how fast it would hit, how bad it would get, and how long it would last. In studying the 20's you really don't see anyone raising the alarm. One of the characteristics that can really be seen in the 20's is the Normalcy Bias. This is a mental state where people assume that everything will be OK, even when the signs are pointing to disaster. If you get a chance, do some research on Normalcy Bias. Lots of interesting articles on the internet. The other interesting and related theme is the theory of Black Swans. Both are interesting topics to help understand how things went wrong so quickly in the 1930's.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Great Depression

Well, we had some great fun yesterday with the Mystery Person Contest. Lots of good guesses, but in the end no correct answers, so by the rules of the game, I am the winner. I updated yesterday's post, and you can read about the Mystery Woman. Now, back to this week. This will be Great Depression Week. We have not looked at the Great Depression in some time. The picture above was taken in 1938 in Jarreau, Louisiana. Children are waiting in the car for their parents.

I really enjoy studying the Great Depression. The angle I like to look at is not so much how bad it was, but how much character it built. I think it set the stage and helped define America's greatest generation. This was a generation of Doers and Savers. We have become a generation of Watchers and Spenders.

Domestic Update:

You all have been asking for a Domestic Update, so here goes. First, that peacock is definitely up to something. Now that I have gone back to work, his project out behind Chickie Town has resumed. If you look at the picture below, it appears that he has constructed some sort of large concrete slab.

I am not sure what the intended purpose is, but I noticed in the corner the initials T.D. has been marked in the concrete. The slab appears to be about 40X40 in size.

I have been busy as well. This last week I put in the first part of a fruit orchard. I had 2 18 wheel truckloads of dirt moved in, spread the dirt out, and put in 6 trees. I have 3 peach, 2 apple, and 1 apricot trees. The trees were bare root, so they do not show up well in the picture.

In the bean barn, my lettuce crop is getting going. I plant one row of lettuce each week, so it will mature over time. I did not want to plant the whole system at once, as  day would come that 350 heads of lettuce would be ready on the same day. Below, you can see the first few rows have been planted, and the first lettuce is starting to look good.

The tomatoes continue to do well. I really enjoy being able to go out in the middle of winter and pick ripe tomatoes off the vine. The vines are continuing to produce much more than we can eat.

I would really like to figure out how to have a nice corn patch and black eyed pea patch. I would likely have to have a lot of dirt moved in for that to happen. I worry that the peacocks and chickies would eat the seedlings before they had a chance to come up. So, I am still pondering how to do the corn and pea patch.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mystery Person Contest

Ready, Set Go!!!!


OK, it is Sunday Morning and no one has gotten it, so I am the Winner! From the sweet an innocent look on the face, you should have guessed that this woman was a killer. On November 21, 1920 Oklahoma Oilman and Republican National Committeeman Jake Harman stumbled into the Hardy Sanatorium suffering from a gunshot wound. He claimed he had been cleaning his gun, and accidentally shot himself. He died a few days later. Almost immediately his girl friend skips town. No one believes his story that he accidentally shot himself, and a warrant is issued for the woman's arrest (Clara Smith Hamon, pictured above). She made a run for the border, and escaped into Mexico. After some time, she was captured and brought back to stand trial. She was found innocent. Most people felt that she probably had done it, but felt that it was probably justified, and that sentiment likely led to the verdict of innocent.

The story was a National Sensation of the day, due to the scandal and political intrigue. Lots of coverage in the New York times, and other large newspapers.

So, the woman was Clara Smith Hamon, no one got it, and PJM is the winner!

PJM!!! PJM!!! PJM!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

South of the Border

Today's picture was taken in about 1900 in Caracas, Venezuala. It looks a lot like the shops I remember in Mexico in the 1960's. Now this is a shop I could really get excited about. The guy in the back . . . I bet those are 50 pound bags of pinto beans he is sitting on. It looks like fresh coconuts under the counter. What I like about these types of shops is how there is no wasteful packaging. If you wanted pinto beans, they would have a simple sheet of paper, they would weigh out your beans, pour them onto the paper, and then fold up the neatest little package from the paper. Then, as a customer, you would have your own canvas satchel that you would put the packet of beans in. As I have mentioned before, I am NOT part of the green movement, but I really hate all the waste in packaging of our groceries and other items today. Take razor blades for example. The blades are in a little case, which is in a bigger case, which is encapsulated in a plastic bubble which is connected to a large plastic/cardboard backing. Ridiculous, and hard to open I might add. I hate the waste, and I hate the hard to open part. Some of the packages are such tough plastic, that even normal kitchen scissors can not cut through them. I have actually cut my hand pretty bad on the plastic on some of these packages trying to get them open. I really wish we would go back to a simpler system for purchasing grocery items in bulk and with less waste in the packaging.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cigar Shop

Today's picture is from about 1900, and it shows an old Cigar Shop. I spent quiet a bit of time this week complaining about modern grocery stores. On a positive note, I will say that I believe cigar shops to be positively old school on customer service. Not that I visit cigar stores or anything. First, each cigar store is run by an owner/proprietor. Each store is unique, and represents the interests and tastes of the owner. They typically have rich warm carpet, lots of woodwork and cabinetry, and then a wonderful walk in humidor. A cigar shop usually will have some fine leather chairs, and you are welcome to sit down, visit with others, read the paper, and enjoy a fine smoke. The owner is passionate about cigars, and if you went in one to buy a fine cigar as a gift, the owner would spend lots of time with you helping you pick out the perfect cigar. I have heard that often when you come out of the humidor with a selection of several cigars, the owner will ask you how much they were, in effect, trusting you to tell him the correct price of his cigars. I think they do this on purpose as a sign of respect to customers. Others out there might have other good examples of exceptional customer service in other niche markets, but for me, I believe Cigar Shops are among the best when it comes to customer service.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mercantile Store

Today's picture is from July, 1936, and shows a general mercantile store in Alabama. I love all the details you can see on the items on the shelf on and on the floor. I like the Coke poster back on the wall, and the way all the items were very practical in nature.

OK, so far this week, the most important thing we have learned is that we do not let the system manipulate us by nudging us into running our own items through the checkout. So, we choose the lane with a live person in it, but now one must decide which line to choose. Most of you simply choose the shortest line, and then feel like you are in the slow line. That is because you do not understand fundamental mathematical concepts like Extremal Dynamics, Chaos, Fractals and statistically activated systems. All right, I don't understand those things either, but I can tell you how to get through the checkout quickest. I have made a lifelong study of it, and will share my findings. First, the "length" of the line is about the least important thing. If you choose the short line, often you will have made a poor choice. You must go in with a strategy, and then stick with it.

First and most important, you need to scan down the line of cashiers. Look at their hands. You want to see fast, smooth, and methodical motion in the hands. Not bursts of speed, followed by pauses. Certainly not slow and clumsy motion. The hands should move like a well oiled German sewing machine. Fast cashier hands will be your first "tell" of a fast moving line. Once you have identified several potential marks, you then need to examine the people in the lines. I suggest avoiding lines that have one or more old people in them. Nothing against old people, and I know I have many loyal followers that are old, but I must say sometimes you folks want to pay for your purchases in nickels and quarters. I understand why, and that is fine, I just don't want to be behind you when you do it. As a matter of fact, as you scan the lines of people make note of anyone with bulging pockets. This might be an indication that they are going to pay with change. AVOID AT ALL COSTS EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO GO BACK TO A CASHIER WITH SLOW MOVING HANDS! 

In scanning people in line, also avoid lines that have women in them with large purses. This is why. I own lots of different stuff, but I have been able to prioritize the things I own. I have determined the six critical things that I need to carry with me, and they all fit in my wallet. By carrying a wallet, I prove to you and the world that I can prioritize things. A woman that carries a big purse is unable to prioritize things. She thinks she should carry ALL the things she owns with her. This is the issue. If she can not prioritize her things, she probably can not prioritize her time. She probably is also not that cognizant of your time. Women with big purses will get to the critical "payment" step, and will start digging for a checkbook or credit card. While digging she will find pictures of the new Labrador Retriever or neighbor's new baby, and will share pictures and story (long version) with the cashier. AVOID THIS LINE AT ALL COST. If you must get in a line with women in it, search out a line with women with small handbags or clutch purses. You will be glad you did.

OK, so we have scanned the cashiers looking for fast hands, and scanned the lines of customers, wanting to avoid old people and people with large purses. Do one last scan of the faces of the people in line. Here we are just trying to avoid anyone with that "Appalachia Duhh" look on their face. This is hard to explain, but just rest assured that somehow, someway, this person is going to cause things to come to a grinding halt when they get to the cashier.

Now, finally scan the items in the baskets in the line. Avoid lines where people have clothing type items in the basket. These often cause confusion and require the dreaded "Price Check on Line 12" announcement. Also, realize that some items cause problems for the scanners. Canned goods always scan easy, but bags of vegetables with the bar code on the wrinkled plastic bag cause problems. Make sure you do not get in a line where there are too many "problem" products in the baskets ahead of you.

Now, as a last priority, you can look at the overall length of the line, and number of items in basket.

Give these things a try, and see if they don't get you out of the store quicker.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Old General Store

Today's picture was taken around 1900, and shows a general store in Maryland. I love the pot belly stove, and the bench where shoppers could sit, and visit with one another. I have to think this was a much nicer shopping experience than most grocery stores today.

I especially like that there is a store clerk manning the register, and that shoppers are not supposed to check themselves out. I was surprised that apparently most of  you  are not as outraged as I am at being "trained" to do  a job for the store for free that they are now paying a person to do. What a bunch of "sheeple" you all are, allowing the man to manipulate you into doing just what he wants. When they load you on trains to take you off to the FEMA concentration camp trailers, you will probably not even whimper. OK, I don't really believe that there are FEMA concentration camps being put together, and don't believe that the self check outs are part of some grand conspiracy, but they do really annoy me. I refuse to use them. Join me, and demand your right to a human checkout clerk!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Meat Market

Today's picture is from the 1920's and shows what looks like a Meat Market in the District Grocery Store. I will have to say that this does not look much different than the grocery stores I remember growing up in the 60's. Note the simple signage and functional layout.

This is another one of my gripes about modern grocery stores. Did you notice a couple of years ago how the "self" checkouts started popping up. At first it was just one or two, for the people that wanted to do the cashiers job for them. Now, I notice that more and more of the checkout lanes are self checkout. I notice that fewer and fewer have a traditional cashier, and the lines are getting longer in the cashier checkout lanes, while the self checkout lanes sit idle. You see, they are trying to "train" us. Each year, it will take longer and longer, and be more and more painful to continue to use the lane with the live person. Finally, we will give up waiting in the one lane with a live cashier and will cave in, and start checking ourselves out. Then, their training program of us will be complete. Again, I hate the blatant manipulation. Perhaps we should resist with passive aggressive behaviors. How about this . . . use the self checkout lane, but don't be real easy on the equipment . . . put that big jar of pickles down on that little glass scanner window like you mean it. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

General Store

Good Sunday Morning to you all, and welcome to General Store week. We will be looking at grocers from the past. We start with this picture of a general store, taken in 1914. I like how there is both a Model T, and a horse and buggy out front. One mode of transportation on its way out, and one on its way in. I note the chickens running around the store, and would be willing to bet that their fresh, free range eggs would be available for purchase in the store.

My gripes with modern grocery stores are very similar to my gripes with modern gas stations. The first gripe is the sameness. Visiting a grocery store is almost like visiting a hospital. Everything is so sterile and predictable. Each one is the same, and grocery shopping becomes a chore, not something you look forward to. Growing up, the grocery stores were individually owned by owner/proprietors. Each one reflected the individual tastes of the owner, and the local community. They were a place to not only buy groceries, but to also visit with folks and catch up on what was happening around town.

My biggest gripe is how chain stores have those huge idiotic signs hanging every 4 foot from the ceiling. The signs are a garish lime green, and scream at you "LOWER PRICES", "JUST LOWER PRICES", "ALWAYS LOWER PRICES", "LOOK HERE FOR LOWER PRICES". The signs make me nauseous, and I significantly resent the blatant attempt at subconscious manipulation. You know, they think that if they keep flashing those signs at me every three feet, I will become programmed that they actually have to best prices. I would much prefer a warmer and more subtle shopping experience where I did not feel like I was being shouted at. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mystery Person Contest

It is a Mystery Person Contest that you want, so it is a Mystery Person Contest you shall have. Let the Game Begin!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hi Speed Gas Station

I have to say I am sad to see Gas Station week come to an end. I think Gas Stations are a very visible indicator of the loss of Customer Service in the US over the last 40 years. Here is hoping that one day it makes a comeback.

Remember, tomorrow is Mystery Person contest. I detected a little disappointment that last week's contest was too easy. I have some ideas for a really good one for tomorrow. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gas Station Body Work

Today's picture is from the 1920's and shows the garage attached to a gas station. You can see the station offered not only gasoline, but body work and auto painting as well. I can remember Mr. Gay's filling station, which we frequented in the 1960's offered body work, and auto painting. He did each job with great pride. 

I enjoyed all the lively discussion on yesterday's picture. Apparently a lot of you remember the Jimmy Carter gas lines. I got a nasty comment from what appeared to be a Jimmy Carter fan. I deleted it. I don't mind snide comments from long time visitors/contributors, but don't like drive by shooters. If you are going to leave snide comments, you need to first become part of the community here. Just the way we are going to do things here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gas Lines

No look at gas stations would be complete without briefly considering that National Disaster known as the Jimmy Carter administration. I realize I might offend some visitors with that statement, as perhaps there might be 2 or 3 people in the world who look back fondly on the Carter years in Washington. The main thing I remember was the lines at the gas stations. During the Carter years, issues arose with both the Availability and Affordability of gasoline. In some cases you could not afford to drive because of high gas prices, and then sometimes gas was not available at any price. I can remember people would wait in long lines for gas, only to find the station ran out of gas as they got to the pump.

I can remember that the gas pumps had only two digits for price per gallon, $.XX per gallon. In designing the gas pumps, they had never dreamed that gas could actually reach $1 per gallon. When the prices shot up, gas stations scrambled to try and figure out how to deal with the fact that the pumps could not properly price the gasoline.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Minute Service Station

Today's picture is of the Minute Service Station, and it was taken in 1925. In earlier posts this week, and in your comments, we lamented about the "sameness" of everything today. There is little local flavor or unique experience possible in the retail sector any more. In addition, customer service is a thing of the past. Employees in retail outlets often show utter contempt for customers (try asking a Home Depot 'associate' where the duct tape is). In cases where companies are trying to have customer service, the employees appear to be plastic robots reading off a script (would you like fries with that?).

Growing up, I can remember we always got our Gasoline from a gas station with an independent proprietor. The man's name was Mr. Gay. When you pulled in, he came out, filled you up, cleaned the windshield, checked the oil, and checked the tire pressure. All the while, he would engage you in interesting small talk and conversation. He always had complimentary bubble gum for the kids. He would let you know if your fan belts or hoses were looking worn, and he did oil changes and engine repair in his shop. If you broke down, he had a tow truck and would come and get you. He took pride in the way he took care of his customers, and stopping in for gas always was a pleasant experience that brightened the day a little. So sad that this type of service is all but lost now days.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Service Station

Today's picture is from 1925, and shows an old Texaco service station. If you click on the photograph, you can see an enlarged version, where you can see lots of detail. I like how the owner of the station has his name on the sign above the building. The pumps are the old type which had large glass jars on top. The attendant had a hand pump which he would use to pump gas up into the glass jar, to the desired amount. Then the gas would gravity flow into the car's gas tank. This was a pretty ingenious system, and it let the customer actually see the quantity and quality of gasoline he was purchasing. These types of pumps were pretty much gone by the time I came along.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Old Gas Station

Good Sunday Morning to you all, and Welcome to Old Gas Station Week here at OPOD. As you might guess, I like the gas stations of bygone days better than what we have today. I hope you will click on the picture above for a closer look. What I like, is that in the old days, everything was unique . . . each gas station reflected the unique personality of the owner, the employees, and the customers. Each one was different, and each one was interesting. Today, everything is the same. In my former jobs I had to travel a lot, and what I noticed is that everything is pretty much the same everywhere now. There is less and less local flavor in communities, and we have become a nation of big box stores, fast food chains, and convenience stores with gas pumps. I miss the days reflected in this picture.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mystery Person Contest

OK, it is time for the Mystery Person Contest. I post the picture, you have to figure out who it is. Ready, Set Go!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sheep at White House

It is hard to believe that Goat Roper week is already drawing to an end. We close out this series of pictures with the one above. Most people do not know that they used to graze sheep on the white house lawn. I am sure that the sheep produced lots of premium fertilizer, which is much better than the BS that comes out of that building since then. 

Remember . . . mystery person contest starts bright and early in the morning.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Goat Cart

Well, after yesterday's post, I figured I better lighten things up a little before losing all my readers. So, today we examine one of the often overlooked uses for goats . . . transportation. The picture above was taken in 1915, and the little girl pictured is my Grandmother, Elizabeth Elder. She is pictured next to her dandy goat cart, and halter trained transportation goat.

In looking at this picture, I was wondering if it was unusual, or if other people halter trained goats to pull wagons and carriages. What I found was that at the turn of the last century, it was quiet common.

The picture above was taken in 1904, and shows children in Goat Carriages in Central Park, in New York City. Similarly, the image below was taken at Coney Island in about 1900, and shows goat-drawn Surrey Wagons.

I am really impressed with this goat mode of transport and am thinking that perhaps I should procure a team of wagon-trained goats, get myself a little Surrey, and be in the parade next summer. Perhaps then people would finally begin to take me seriously as a Gentleman Farmer.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Working Sheep

Now I am not trying to be crass today, but I know that some of you might be thinking of getting into the sheep business, and want to make sure you know what you are getting into.

Today's topic is "Marking" or sometimes called "Working" sheep. When the flocks "lamb", or have their babies, each of the lambs has to be "marked". First step in marking sheep is to put some type of identifying mark on the sheep to show ownership. Sort of like branding cattle, but for sheep what is typically done is you have this tool that is sort of like a big set of pliars. The part that comes together has a large number of closely spaced needles, which form a pattern, like a unique number or shape. You have to hold the lamb down, and then clamp the tool down on the ear. The needles go through the ear, and then leave a scar pattern like a brand in the ear.

OK, that was the easy part. Next up, you have to hold the sheep in a headlock, and then run a metal tube down its throat. The tube has a hand pump, and is tied to a bottle of medicine/poison you carry on your back. You stick the tube down the sheep's throat, and then give him two big squirts of medicine to kill/prevent stomach worms. Not so easy, but it gets worse.

Now, for sheep, the number one problem is usually associated with the sheep's tail. It is always getting tangled up in something, and gets in the way of the sheep effectively (pardon me) pooping. It can create a blockage of poop outside the sheep under the tail. So . . . the tail has to come off. This is done with a sharp knife, and in one fast smooth cut. Then you daub some medicine on the little stump that is left.

Now, finally, most of the males have to be castrated. When lambs are born, half are female and half are male. To continue propagating the flock only one male is needed for every 10 or 20 females. The problem with letting the little male lambs grow up to be Rams is that you really can not eat Ram meat, and the Rams fight. So, you need to castrate most of the males, so they will grow up to be fat juicy docile sheep. When I used to do this, they had a tool to help you do the job. The items to be removed from the sheep are in a little "pouch" First step is to cut the little bottom end off the pouch with a sharp knife. Then, the items to be removed are very slick and slimy, and the goal is to remove them without causing undue pain or stress on the animal. Hence you can not grab in a manner that squeezes them at all. The items to be removed are covered with  a very thin skin like material which is not sensitive. If you can grab that little membrane with the tool, you can pull them right out with minimum discomfort to the lamb. The little tool had some special grippers to let you grab the membrane. Now realize, you were expected to brand, worm, de-tail and castrate a lamb in about two minutes, so time was of the essence.

When I was doing this job, the old timers scoffed at the little tool, saying it took to long and did not work. They would have one guy hold the sheep, and they would cut the bottom of the pouch off with a sharp knife, and then would lean over, grab the items to be removed with their teeth, pull them out, and then spit them in the bucket (for later making into fried Rocky Mountain Oysters). I kid you not, that is the way they did it, and in fact it was quicker than trying to use the little tool. That is the technique being demonstrated in the picture above.

Still want to be in the sheep business?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shearing Sheep

Today we examine what has got to be the second to the worst job in the world (worst job will be described tomorrow). This has to do with Shearing Sheep. Traditionally sheep were raised primarily for their wool, and secondarily for their meat. Once or twice a year, sheep are sheared to cut the wool from the sheep. The picture is from 1890, and the man is using the old style manual shears. These are like a very large pair of scissors, but have a very strong spring to push the blades open. It takes a lot of force to squeeze the shears closed, so extreme hand and finger strength are required to make it through a day of shearing. The wool is really thick, and it takes a lot of effort to cut through it. One has to be very careful so as to not cut or injure the sheep, but at the same time must go very fast since there are a lot of sheep to be sheared.

Historically, ramboulliet sheep and angora goats were raised, because of the copious amount of wool and mohair they produced. Now days, wool and mohair prices are so low that the cost of having shearers shear your sheep exceeds what you can sell the wool for. So, many people are moving to raising sheep, like the Dorper, and spanish goats, which do not have to be sheared. They are raised just for the meat.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Counting Sheep

I would like to wish you all a warm Good Monday Morning! For a lot of you, it is the first day back to work for the new year. Many of our long time visitors have found that work is one of the best places to read OPOD. In order to maintain your good standing with your employer, we suggest that before you open OPOD, you have a spreadsheet open. Then open OPOD in front of the spreadsheet, and listen for footsteps. If you hear anyone coming, pop the spreadsheet back up to the top of your computer screen. Also, be cognizant of any reflective surfaces behind your computer screen, which might show a reflection of what you are looking at. With these simple techniques, you should be able to enjoy all the wonderful pictures, while still at work. Just a little way you can stick it to the man.

But I digress. Lets get back to Goat Roper week. If you are going to have sheep, you are going to need a good way to count them periodically. Shown above is a way NOT to do it. Standing in the middle of a flock, waving a burlap bag rarely results in an accurate count. The way sheep are counted is to put them in a pen, and then let them out of a narrow opening, one at a time.

I have found this to be the ONLY way to get an accurate count of a flock of any meaningful size. It looks like this guy is just counting them as they walk out, which will work, but it is easy to lose count. I have seen others who had a long cord with knots in it, and as each sheep goes by, they move their hand up past the next knot. Then, after all the sheep have passed by you can calmly count the knots  you went past.

One of the things you will find is that sheep, especially lambs, have a tendency to jump when being counted, which can make things more confusing. As one sheep is leaving the pen, the one behind him will jump over him, potentially throwing off the count.

This next picture looks like the man outside the pen is potentially a buyer, and sheep are being let out and counted to be sold to him. Note again the jumping sheep right at the gate.

We will be examining more advanced sheep handling procedures, but today, I wanted to start with the basics.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Milking Goats

We would like to welcome you to "Goat Roper" week on OPOD. We will spend the week looking at the ins and outs of raising goats and sheep through the venue of old photographs. Goats and Sheep are something I know quiet a bit about, and some people consider me an expert. OK, in reality, no one considers me an expert, but I did spend many a summer working sheep and goats. I will share what I learned with you. I have to warn you, that we will be dealing with some pretty "heavy" goat and sheep topics, so if you have a weak stomach, you might want to just look at the pictures and not read the descriptions.

Now, for today's picture we have a couple of dapper gentlemen milking a goat. Many of you might not be aware that people actually milk goats. I have this neighbor lady, and she has several milk goats. She goes out every morning, and milks her goats by hand. She does not have a fancy little milking stand like these guys do . . . she does it the old fashioned way, with a bucket and a milking stool. Interesting that when you shake hands with this lady, she has quiet the firm grip. She never buys store bought cows milk. She raised her entire family on goat milk.She also makes goat cheese, and more recently goat soap. She claims the soap is the best in the world. I am not sure if she makes the soap from rendering the fat of a dead goat, or if she somehow renders the cream from the goat milk. Anyway, she offered Mrs. PJM a bar of her goat soap. Mrs. PJM was reluctant, but did not want to offend, so she took the soap. She did try it, and reported to me it was the best bath soap she ever used. She reported that it was very "moisturizing", left you feeling clean and fresh, and smelled good. So, Mrs. PJM is now a believer. Don't know what it is going to cost to start buying this soap, but perhaps we could barter with her for some tomatoes.

Anyway, hope you enjoy Goat Roper week. I find it interesting that people do not romanticize about raising sheep and goats the same way they do about cattle ranching and cowboying. Perhaps we can improve the image of the lowly sheep and goats this week.

Domestic Update:

I know Roger is going to be upset, but I do not have any new Chickie Town pictures this morning. I had planned on taking some pictures of Handsome and his posse yesterday, but unfortunately we experienced a MPM which required the day to partially resolve (Major Plumbing Malfunction). I was taking a shower yesterday morning, and Mrs. PJM ran in yelling to turn the water off. She said I was flooding the downstairs. I had just gotten the shampoo in my hair, and thought that it would make sense to go ahead and rinse it out, but Mrs. PJM insisted I  IMMEDIATELY turn the shower off. So, I complied, and went downstairs to find every  sink drain, toilet, and shower drain downstairs had become a geyser, spewing raw sewage all over the house. Well, the immediate thought was to call a plumber but it was new years day, so it would be hard to find anyone to come and fix the problem. With the upstairs shower shut off, the sewage geysers stopped after a few minutes. Mrs. PJM went to cleaning up. I issued an order that no one was to turn on any water until I figured out what the problem was. After the executive order was signed by all family members, I started trying to figure out what had happened. It appeared to me that I must have a blockage somewhere, and the water from the upstairs shower had no place to go, so was forcing sewage in the line to come up through the drains downstairs. Our septic tank is about 300 yards from the house, and there is a long septic line from the house to the septic tank. I was hoping the problem was there, and not in lines in the slab in the house. Luckily, when they built the septic line, they put access ports every 40 feet. I went about half way down, and opened one of the access ports. I got another sewage geyser there, which sort of undid any progress I had made taking a shower that morning. It also made it questionable whether my clothing would still be appropriate for New Years dinner which we had planned. Anyway, I could see that the line problem must be further down the hill. So, I kept opening the access ports until I was able to identify what section of the line was blocked. With that figured out, I ran a hose into the line until I finally was able to partially unblock it. At least now we are getting some degree of proper flow in the septic line, but there is still some problem and I am sure it will stop up again if not dealt with. So, today I will get one of those Line Snakes, and try to run it down and get it cleared out. I have the line cleared enough that I have partially rescinded the "Don't Turn On Any Water" executive order. Today, we will be reviewing training on proper bathroom and sink procedures for homes with Septic Tanks.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mystery Person Contest

We kick off the new year with a Mystery Person Contest. Today's contest should be a good one. Let the Games Begin!