On This Memorial Day

The symbol of who we are and what we stand for

There are times in a persons life when dreams of the future are formed and nourished.  Hopefully, with honest work, persistence in the face of life’s ever-present obstacles, and a good dose of luck, a persons dream may eventually be realized.  I feel blessed in the fact that Retta and I are able to lead the life that we do, as this lifestyle has been a long time dream for the both of us.  Because we could not have arrived at the place we find ourselves in today without the freedom to make and implement our plans along the way, I am always cognizant of the benefits that living in a free country has bestowed on me.  And that is one of the many reasons that we proudly fly the Stars and Stripes on a daily basis.

When I look out the window in the morning as I sip my AM cup of coffee, I see our flag.  As I putter around the front yard, doing this or that, I see our flag.  As I drive back and forth across fields and pastures doing my tractor work, I can see our flag from various vantage points.  When I pull back into the barn to put the tractor away, I see our flag.  And walking back to the house from the barn/paddock area takes me right by the flag, so I see it again.  And every time that I see our Stars and Stripes, I am reminded that the opportunity to live my lifestyle, and enjoy the freedoms that I do, is because of the environment created in a free society.

Today is the special day for us to stop and pay our respects to all of those brave, and yes, the not so brave, men and women who payed the ultimate price so that you and I may exercise our freedom of choice.  Retta and I tip our hats to you all, and thank you for the sacrifice that you and your loved ones have endured to make life better for all of the rest of us.

Thank you.

An Interesting Website

Retta was searching for solutions to the problem of squirrels consuming the pears off our pear tree, when she ran across a website entitled “All Squirrels Must Die – the official homepage of the Squirrel Defamation League”.  This site is tongue-in-cheek, and it had me in stitches.  A good place to start your visit would be with the following essay.

Dr. Squirrelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Squirrels

It is well worth a click to check out this funny website.

The Catfish Pond

Catfish pond at back of pasture 

We have several ponds here at the ranch, each with it’s own character, and each with it’s own set of problems and pleasures. This post is about our small catfish pond, which is located in a margin between grassland and woods. In the picture above you can see the berm which creates one bank of the pond, at the far end of this field.

Catfish pond view from berm

This is what the pond looks like, viewed from the berm which was constructed to contain the pond water.  Across the pond, in the woods, is an area I cleared of brush and set up a fire ring and glider.  It has become an area where Retta and I like to sit and contemplate the world around us, and sometimes have a picnic.  This is what the area looks like –

Picnic area

When seated at the picnic area, the view looks across the field towards our barns and paddock facilities.  It is a lovely spot, and I always like to sit here to take a little break during my work day, surveying my little domain and enjoying the peace and quiet (country quiet, which is sometimes not all that quiet, but I digress).

View from picnic area

As you can plainly see from the pictures, this is not a clear pond.  It is designed to catch the runoff from a clay based gully which drains about a forty acre watershed.  Every time it rains, clay is washed into the pond along with the rain water.  From the time we first acquired this property, I have been dissatisfied with the lack of water clarity in this pond.  I mentioned this problem to an employee of the local farm store, and he told me he had just the solution.  He sold me a gallon container of a liquid, which I proceeded to apply to the pond per the directions.  I should have done more homework than I had, because this is what I ended up with –

Oh my!  What happened here?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I prefer the natural silty brown over this obviously artificial looking turquoise dyed pond.  Fortunately, the pond returned to it’s former natural state after a few rains.  Unfortunately, the pond was bright turquoise when NASA flew over us on their latest photography mission.  In the space imagery that was produced from this mission, our pond color stands out like a beacon in the night.  I even received a comment about this from the Arkansas Forestry Commission forester who came out to assess our property.  He said he had to stop and scratch his head a few times trying to figure out what that bright turquoise spot was on the image!

I have since been told that there is some kind of chemical product that can be added to the water that affects the ionization of the suspended particulate matter, causing it to sink to the bottom of the pond.  I have not been able to locate any such product, except for certain solutions meant to be used in tiny backyard ponds.  And if I can find this product, I suppose that it would have to be used whenever the rains washed more clay silt into the pond.  So I will instead try to accept the pond as it is.  After all, there are plenty of healthy catfish and minnows living in it, so why should I care?  And most important, guests who come to visit us here at the ranch always seem to enjoy throwing in a line, even if the water is silty.

Out at the fishing hole