Chicken of the Trees

We ate squirrel when I was a kid, and I've been squirrel hunting in some of the same southern Indiana woods described in the article. I remember that it took quite a few squirrels to make a meal. It always struck me as a bit like rabbit, but even more rubbery - we always had fried squirrel, not the stews and soups described here.

At some point we stopped eating squirrels in this country. Certainly the very first Americans ate them in abundance, as did the first European settlers, who cleared the ancient forests and issued bounties on the rodent plagues that ravaged their crops; in colonial Pennsylvania authorities offered hunters three pence per squirrel killed. It was the colonists' skill in bagging them with their long-barreled rifles that gave them an edge on the Redcoats during the Revolution.

(link) [Chicago Reader]

16:11 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Finally Broken?

Another 2 inches of rain yesterday. Although we held our position of "extreme" in the latest drought monitor, I'd say that a more normal pattern has re-emerged and the drought of 2012 is broken in Boone County, Indiana. Not so in other locales, but here, we're doing much better.

No rain is forecast for the next six days, but temperatures are slated to be slightly below normal (max high in the eighties) and the weather should stay relatively comfortable for a bit. That's a very Good Thing™.

I think we can safely say that the final toll here was ten chickens, one sheep and a 33% increase in the price of hay. None of which is good, but it's not a complete catastrophe. We'll make it, for now.

11:30 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

A Real Soaker

We got another inch of rain last night, and this one may be the proverbial "drought breaker". It was just a slow, steady drizzle for nearly 6 hours, with temperatures dropping all the while. The forecast high today is 84°F, but it's only seventy now and deeply overcast, and I doubt that we hit anywhere close to eighty. Which is a Good Thing™.

It'll be interesting to see what the drought monitor shows for this - Boone County already seems to have moved back from "exceptional" to merely "extreme".

The pasture is really greening up - almost feels like May, which is appropriate, I suppose, since May felt more like August. Sheep are really chowing down on the revived grass, and that makes me feel better for the winter. If we can keep them on pasture until Thanksgiving we'll be fine with the hay we've got laid in already.

In short, the last week has really boosted my optimism level. Here's hoping that attitude bears out.

12:59 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Tortilla Soup

I rarely blog about food, even though it's one of my favorite topics of conversation in the non-digital world. But I've got to make an exception for this: Shore Lunch Premium Tortilla Soup Mix. We found it at our local Menard's when we stopped by to pick up cat food for the barn cats (which they sell ultra cheap). Added a can of cooked chicken and a few bits of leftover chicken we had in the fridge and - well, delicious! Can't recommend this stuff highly enough!

09:48 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Blessed Rain

We got almost exactly 3 inches of much needed rain last night into this morning. It started about 9:30pm and continued past 2am - a nice, slow soaking shower. Better still, it's raining now! We've had a couple of hours of drizzle, but we're under a thunderstorm warning with a rather large storm heading our way from the NW. The heat has broken, too - forecast high for tomorrow is 74°!

The drought's not over by any measure, but it's certainly dropped in severity. Another couple of weeks of this pattern and we'll be back to normal. Whatever that is.

Update: We ended up with an even 2 inches from this round of showers and storms.

21:14 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Almost a couple

of inches of rain this morning, with a tremendous thunderstorm delivering it. It's still sprinkling bit, and the temperature has dropped considerably. Again, not enough to break the drought by any means, but certainly some welcome relief.

09:13 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

What patients want in a hospital

I've never read such utter poppycock in my life. People generally go to a hospital to get well, not to surf the web, call their friends and update their Facebook page! It's all fine and well to have these amenities as amenities, but without an emphasis on the primary mission, curing disease and healing the injured, all the amenities in the world aren't going to make a "positive experience".

As for cost, you gotta love this:

Interestingly enough, although price was the biggest driver of purchasing decisions in all other industries in the PwC findings, price was the least important to provider customers. They were more likely to choose a hospital or doctor because of personal experience, at two and a half times more important than consumers in other industries.

Price can't be too important, eh, if the "customer" can't know them! Hospital price lists (called "chargemasters") are generally confidential. Also, most patients are sent to the hospital where their doctor practices - you generally don't go shopping when you're having a heart attack!

The site where this drivel was published claims to be "the leading source of healthcare management news for healthcare industry executives" - if they actually believe this kind of pap I think it's safe to say that we now know where the real problem in American healthcare resides...

Services in one location, Wi-Fi access, according to a PwC report.

(link) [FierceHealthcare]

15:27 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

How to Write

An excellent essay on art and craft of words ...

Rule No. 11: There are no rules. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too? No. There are no rules except the ones you learned during your Show and Tell days. Have fun. If they don’t want to be friends with you, they’re not worth being friends with. Most of all, just be yourself.

(link) [New York Times]

21:42 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Scorched Earth in the Midwest

Pretty much what it's like up here in Central Indiana, too.

It's July and the temperatures throughout southern Indiana and northern Kentucky are an inferno, in some cases scorching to over 100 degrees, and we know it’s not even August yet; it’s only going to get hotter. Several days in a row I get a mind-splitter headache; it’s so bad, it hurts to blink.

(link) [New York Times]

19:54 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Five eighths

or 0.625 of an inch of rain today - first measurable precipitation since June 20th. Not enough to break the drought, but we'll take what we can get! We're under a severe thunderstorm watch until 11, so maybe we'll get some more as the even wears on. There's always hope, after all.

15:00 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

More Woes on the Home Front

Well, I've successfully avoided posting this for a week, but unless I say something about it now, I fear I'll just retreat back into non-blogging mode until I do say something about it. When I've got something to say, apparently, it must be said, even if the saying must be carefully crafted indeed.

I got laid off last Friday.

This isn't a dirt dumping post - future employers may be googling me, after all. Nor is it an economic rant - I've got plenty of those saved up for sure, but the broad sweep of economic theory suddenly took a back seat to the narrower one of personal scrambling.

I just have to say it, that's all. I got laid off last Friday. That would be the 13th, for the superstitious. Considering the disasters that have befallen us this past year, it's easy to get that way.

I do have other fish in the pan, so to speak, but they're currently somewhat flaky fish, if you get my meaning. Long term now means 90 days. I have high hopes for one, but hope is all that's there for now.

This layoff completely ambushed me - I had no idea it was coming. None, nada, zilch. That's what makes it really tough - always before (and being in the tech industry, this certainly isn't the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last) I'd had some inkling, even some warning, that things were spiraling out of control and change was afoot. Not this time.

Lorraine suggested we take a week to "decompress" and process things - a good idea. And I'm still getting a paycheck, at least for another month what with severance and accrued vacation. So we're not quite dead. Not quite. And I will be hitting the job search engines Monday.

I guess my real fear isn't of not being able to find a position - I'm pretty highly skilled, and there's seemingly a lot of demand out there for my skill set. My fear is that I won't be able to find a permanent position with benefits, but only contract. Which, admittedly pays better, but when you have the kind of health conditions I have, you rapidly discover that buying private insurance on your own is simply impossible. So one health incident would crash everything, job, retirement, farm, future.

It's just scary as Hel.

But I have a wonderful wife, a fine flock, good pastures (albeit very dry, and getting drier by the day), and all the bills are currently paid. We have food in the freezer, love in our hearts and hope springs eternal.

We'll get through this. Somehow.

07:41 /Home | 2 comments | permanent link

Once Upon a Time

Grimm reading...

Even people who have never known hunger, let alone a murderous stepmother, still have a sense—from dreams, from books, from news broadcasts—of utter blackness, the erasure of safety and comfort and trust. Fairy tales tell us that such knowledge, or fear, is not fantastic but realistic.

(link) [The New Yorker]

06:25 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Roma Eterna

Roma Eternais my latest Roman read - but unlike fictionalized history this is an alternate history, one where Rome never fell, Christianity and Islam never took root, and the Roman Empire bestrides the world as the only superpower for millennia. Fascinating stuff, if a bit far fetched. The format is different too, more of a collection of novellas and short stories than a single novel. It made it rather easy to read over several days, as the "breakpoints" were pretty clearly delineated. The dates were all AUC, too, which made for some interesting calculations. I'd recommend it as both entertaining and thought provoking - what more can one ask from a book?

21:41 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Heat Relief

No rain, but 70°F. Whew - it's tolerable outside again. Supposed to stay "seasonal" all week, with highs in the mid eighties. But we really, really need rain.

21:56 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

No Letup

Temps here on the farm hit 104°F today, which make for the fourth day in a row over a hundred. We lost another hen - poor old gal just couldn't take it anymore. No rain in the forecast, either - they're saying a 30% chance of a pop up thunderstorm tomorrow, but looking over the maps we'll be damned lucky if we get anything all week.

The temps are supposed to moderate - high tomorrow is forecast at 92°F, and the rest of the week is supposed to stay in the 80's. But that's not much of a relief without some moisture.

22:23 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link