Archive for July, 2012

This is a true account of two farming community events during the Great Depression as told by Letty Owings, age 87

Joe Jones: Men and Wheat (mural study, Seneca, Kansas Post Office), 1939
Joe Jones: Men and Wheat (mural study, Seneca, Kansas Post Office), 1939 By americanartmuseum
Smithsonian American Art Museum, creative commons, flickr

Author’s note: For those of you following the current drought, here are some corn and soybean pictures I snapped yesterday, in Western Tennessee, at the Kentucky border. Thrashing of the wheat, an activity that is one of the subjects of this post, is something I had to ask my mother about. I was not sure when they did this, because we are not seeing much wheat these days.

Drought Stressed Corn Western Tennessee/Kentucky Border
Corn, Drought2012, click to enlarge. Or not. It’s pretty sad.

Drought soybeans
soybeans, Drought2012, click to enlarge.

A Kernel of Wheat
Western Missouri, 1932

Of all farming activities we performed during the Great Depression of the 1930s, two were notable because they involved the whole community: thrashing of the wheat, and butchering the animals. Summer thrashing of the wheat was the most exciting time of the year because it was a social time rolled into sustenance activity.

The thrashing machine, or, in modern spelling, threshing machine (or simply thresher), was a machine first invented by Scottish mechanical engineer Andrew Meikle for use in agriculture. It was invented (c.1784) for the separation of grain from stalks and husks. For thousands of years, grain was separated by hand with flails, and was very laborious and time consuming. Mechanization of this process took much of the drudgery out of farm labour.

Source.
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Ten Grammar essentials

1. alright is not a word. All right is two words.

2. alot is not a word. A lot is two words.

3. To split an infinitive is wrong in the formal sense, but sometimes it is okay to occasionally split an infinitive because it sounds better to do so. Six infinitives that express time relationships are listed here.

4. Avoid the word “which” in favor of “that’,” if possible. Chicago Manual of Style debate on which versus that. (I always favor that if possible)

5. Do not end a sentence in a preposition, unless you are asking a question (what horse did you bet on?)

6.Do not start an essay with a dummy subject such as There or It.

7.Unless you wish to kill the essay outright, use the active voice. Proofread and eliminate passive voice.

8. Unless you are quoting dialogue, contractions are too informal for quality writing.

9. “Lay” is a verb.
lay – definition of lay by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and …
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/laylay 1 (l ). v. laid (l d), lay·ing, lays. v.tr. 1. To cause to lie down: lay a child in its crib. 2. a. To place in or bring to a particular position: lay the cloth over the painting.

10.Lay is the the past of lie.
Laid must have an object: He laid the fork down.

He laid down is a grammatical mistake.

11. Get a copy of Struck and White: Elements of Style.

Remember the Stephen King quote, “The road to Hell is paved with adverbs.”

Has this been helpful?

BTW: Four places that you likely will not find grammatical errors in are: The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic, Harper’s and The National Geographic.


Here is a recent Christian Science Monitor article on grammar.

Old Horse Drawn Corn Planter
old horse drawn corn planter by Colbyt69, creative commons, flickr.

This is a true story from the Great Depression as told by Letty Owings, age 87. It is a true account of various farming tasks during the historic drought years of the mid-1930s.

Seasonal Farming Tasks in the Great Depression

In the spring of each year, the community farmers watched the sky and talked with each other in church about when to prepare the fields for planting. For corn, the fields had to be plowed and harrowed, and then the rows were set. The implements used to plow, break up and smooth the soil and form rows were horse-drawn. After the fields were prepared for planting, corn planters were also hitched to horses. A container on the corn planter was set to click open every three feet or so, and release three kernels of corn to the soil. So far, we are talking about mechanization.

The mechanization ended after the planting of the kernels. The next task involved human hands that belonged to kids, for the most part. Once the corn plants were about two inches tall, the kids in the community crawled up and down the corn rows, inspecting each three-plant corn hill, taking visual inventory. We crawled down each row with a knife and a bucket of kernels, to see if three plants were in each cluster. Less than three plants in a hill meant that there was a cutworm in the soil, dining. We dug and chopped the worm, and replaced the eaten kernel with the new kernel. This task was called “replanting the corn,” and if you were a kid, you got that assignment. Replanting the corn was labor intensive and ritually performed every year. In church, farmers would ask each other, “Did you replant your corn yet?”

Cutworm (Noctuinae) caterpillar
Cutworm photo by Futureman1 on creative commons, flickr.

Another task where fingers did the work was ridding each individual potato plant in any given field of the potato bugs. Potato bugs are fat with orange stripes, and they can completely decimate a field of potatoes. We crawled up and down the rows with a tin can of coal oil that served as our insecticide at the time. We looked at each leaf, picked off the bugs and the masses of eggs, and dropped them into the can of coal oil. These were days before pesticides. In addition to coal oil for the bugs, we rubbed coal oil and bacon grease on our skin to keep the chiggers away. Again, our fingers did the work and like replanting the corn, potato bug removal was extremely labor intensive.

Potato Beetle
Potato Beetle by BugMan50 on flickr, creative commons

We were also always bottling the lambs. I do not ever remember a year when we weren’t nursing baby lambs behind the stove in the house. There was always a mama who had triplets or twins she didn’t like or that were born early in the cold, and we brought the orphans into the house and fed them out of bottles with rubber nipples. The lambs were tame and very hungry and they got strong in a hurry. They would butt their little heads against you, and when they were old enough to run, we sent them back to mama. We always had an area behind the stove fixed for the bottling of the lambs.

Perhaps the most difficult but the most pleasing job I did on the farm during those years was a winter job. In the off-season we repaired the gunny sacks for the wheat. There was no time to do this job in the summer; nobody had time to patch their sacks while tending to crops. Since we could not have the gunny sacks in the house, we would sit in the barn and patch the sacks using heavy thread and darning needles.

Patching the gunny sacks was hard work and the barn was always cold, but the good side of the job was that I got to spend time with my dad. He would tell me stories and teach me moral lessons, and this was the time of year that I got to spend quality time with my father.

Also, we never worked on Sundays. My parents were Evangelical (not to be confused with evangelism), and they thought that it was a sin to work on Sundays. While we went to church when we could, we often did not go because we did not have the gas for the old car (although my dad sometimes took gas from the tractor), or because my mother did not have a dress for church. My mother took a nap on Sunday afternoons, but since my dad never napped, I got to spend more quality time with him on these days. He wanted me to know how to identify every tree and every bird, and during our Sunday afternoon walks we gathered walnuts and hickory nuts. My dad did not want me to miss any of the trees in the area, so on one of the rare occasions that we rode in the car, he stopped the car so that he could show me a wild cherry tree.

One day, we had a contest in the county to see who could identify the most leaves, and I won. I won a bible, because my kind and patient father had taught me to be a markings expert.

all photos taken on 7/24/2012 by CraneStation on flickr

US Drought Outlook (hat tip cmaukonen)

These are popcorn fields in Western Kentucky near our home. One owner, who wished to remain anonymous explained that no one in the area has crop insurance, and that everyone will likely lose the crops. Of the fields we photographed, his looked the best because they are lowland fields. The lowland corn is pictured in the first three photos. Some of the corn growers may chop the fields down for silage. As you can see in the other photos, the creek beds are very low or dry (pictured). One ear we photographed had exposed kernels that appeared unhealthy and below the usual number.

This area relies on nature for water. It is usually extremely lush with swollen creek beds full of small blue gill fish. Many of these beds are dry or very low.

The popcorn grower we spoke to also confirmed the practice among livestock farmers in the region of selling animals for slaughter due to the pressures of drought this season.

Today it was 103 F, and there is no rain in the forecast. As far as corn is concerned, many growers have given up on this year’s crop.
Drought Stressed Corn 005
Lowland popcorn ear, showing less than normal number of kernels, click to enlarge.

Drought Stressed Corn 008
More lowland popcorn

Drought Stressed Corn 006
Lowland

Drought Stressed Corn 013
Corn that is not below the water table

Drought Stressed Corn 012

Drought Stressed Corn 010
Dry creek bed

Drought Stressed Corn 009

Our area today:

…EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT EXPANDS SLIGHTLY…

SYNOPSIS…

THE TWO AREAS OF EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT /D4/ FROM LAST WEEK HAVE BEEN
MERGED. IN KENTUCKY…THIS AREA COVERS MUCH OF HENDERSON…UNION…
MCLEAN…CRITTENDEN…CALDWELL…LYON…LIVINGSTON…MCCRACKEN…
BALLARD AND CARLISLE. IT ALSO COVERS THE OHIO RIVER AREAS OF POSEY
AND VANDERBURGH COUNTIES IN SOUTHWEST INDIANA AND FROM SHAWNEETOWN
TO CAIRO ALONG THE RIVER IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS. EXTREME DROUGHT /D3/
COVERS ALL OF SOUTHWEST INDIANA…WEST KENTUCKY…MOST OF SOUTHEAST
MISSOURI…AND IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS…THE AREA SOUTH OF A LINE FROM
MURPHYSBORO TO MOUNT CARMEL. SEVERE DROUGHT /D2/ COVERS THE REST OF
THE REGION.

SUMMARY OF IMPACTS…

SOIL MOISTURE CONDITIONS.
SOIL MOISTURE DEFICITS CONTINUE TO INCREASE ACROSS THE REGION.
NINETY TO 100 PERCENT OF THE REGION`S TOPSOIL AND SUBSOIL IS
REPORTED AS SHORT OR VERY SHORT.

AGRICULTURAL IMPACTS.
MANY CROPS ARE SHOWING STRESS ACROSS THE REGION AND THE SITUATION IS
BECOMING DIRE FOR MANY FARMERS. A MAJORITY OF THE CORN AND SOYBEANS
ARE LISTED POOR OR VERY POOR. INCREASING AMOUNTS OF LIVESTOCK AND
FIELDS ARE SHOWING STRESS. THE PERCENTAGE OF PASTURES IN THE AREA
RATED AS POOR AND VERY POOR CONTINUES TO GROW. PONDS ACROSS THE
REGION ARE DRY OR DRYING QUICKLY.

Source.

By Frederick Leatherman. Posted with permission. Photo provided and sized by editor at Firedoglake/MyFDL. To join an ongoing discussion about the Zimmerman case, please go here:

Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

Let us assume, for the purpose of this exercise, that we are representing George Zimmerman and we are going to start selecting a jury to try this case tomorrow morning.

George Zimmerman in Court

George Zimmerman

To keep it simple, we are going to focus on W9’s allegation that GZ sexually molested her multiple times during a period of 10 years that began when she was 6 and he was 8. The allegation is unlikely to come up at trial, but lots of people know about it and it might prejudice jurors against him.

This is what she said:

The sexual abuse consisted of digital penetration of her vagina and fondling.

She ended it when she was 16 and later told her parents. Her parents told his parents.

She was discouraged from reporting the crimes to the police and did not do so until after he was arrested for shooting and killing TM. When the police asked her why she waited so long (10 years) to report the crimes, she said it was the first time she felt safe.

Our client denies that he ever sexually molested her or anyone else.

We do not know if the allegation is true, but we do know that her tape-recorded statement was available to listen to over the internet and her story was broadcast all over the world and discussed by media pundits.

We know that many, possibly all of the people in the jury pool, have heard or read her story.

What do we do?

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