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Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Son the Farmer

The farm that Jesse McDougall and Cally Wheeler McDougall are operating is a boarding horse farm in Vermont.  Its premises include their family's farmhouse, barns and stables, as well as a veterinarian's office, paddocks and dressage rings.  They farm many acres of fields where they grow hay for the horses, and a bit of fruit and vegetables for their own consumption.  Last Sunday, I captured these scenes of the farm and of some of its residents and tenants.
Jesse and Cally

"Follow me and I'll show you around."
Nosing his blanket on a chilly October day

Most paddocks corral one horse. 


The mustang.

Not a bad place, is it?

"The kids" out by the customers' horse trailers.

Indoor riding ring in "the new barn."

Hayfield equipment.

The biggest tractor, a John Deere 6310.

And the smallest, a Ford 1310 (Nu Dacia? Nu!)

Outdoor riding/training ring, with paint dating from the 1970s.

The "New Barn"

Pretty girl!

Walking back toward the farmhouse.

Farmhouse, old barn, and silos.

Godspeed to the young couple.

My son the farmer.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Manure Spreader

On Sunday, 27 October, in order to justify a road trip, I used the excuse of transporting my son Jesse's 1978 Suzuki GS550 from our barn in Campton to his home in Vermont.  I hooked up my trailer to the Santa Fe, loaded the bike onto it, and towed it over the mountain to Lebanon, NH, across the Connecticut River and over the Green Mountains to the southwest corner of Vermont.  There, we unloaded the graceful old Suzuki at the Pullman Farm in the Town of Shaftsbury.

Jesse and Cally, our son and daughter-in-law were married here in 2012.  They now operate the farm, following the tragic death of Cally's aunt Edie.  Edie's sister Candace (Pullman) Wheeler, Cally's mother, was also present this weekend.  Candy is an expert in the kitchen, so happily cooked us a farm dinner of roast chicken, string beans, acorn squash, and mixed salad, with apple crisp for dessert.  Yum!

An empty dung heap.
After unloading the bike and stowing it in the garage, I asked Jesse to tell me the full story of his manure spreading adventure (described in the e-mails in my previous post).  He started me off at the dung heap.  You'll note that it is empty in the photo at the right.  That is because he had loaded tons of horseshit into the farm's manure spreader a week earlier, on the 19th, only to have that machine break on his first spreading run.

It seems that a sizable boulder had been buried in the manure pile, which during the loading had found its way into the spreader.  The boulder had jammed the spreader, and broken its drive chain.  While he was removing the boulder from the jammed rotating parts of the spreader, the boulder fell onto the toes of Jesse's right foot.  Luckily and wisely, Jess was wearing his steel-toed boots, and suffered no injury.
Jesse points to where the rock jammed the spreader's "throwers."

Note the bent tines on the leftmost thrower.

Here is where the drive chain snapped.

These bars are dragged by the chain along beneath the  load,
moving it to the rear of the machine, where the spinning throwers
distribute it onto the hayfields.
It took the rest of the day on the 19th for Jesse to repair the (fully loaded) manure spreader.  But, he got it fixed, and spent a peaceful 35th birthday (on the 20th), fertilizing some of the many large hay fields at the farm.

We walked out to the "new barn," where I viewed all five of the farm's tractors, this one being the oldest.  It had belonged to Cally's great-grandfather.

This farm is a boarding facility for the horses of others who live in the southwest corner of Vermont.  It houses many horses, and has large paddocks and multiple stables, as well as both indoor and outdoor training rings for the equestrians.  My next post will include some snapshots of a few of the horses, and facilities that they enjoy:  Here is a recent arrival:

"The mustang."  A horse bought and brought from out west.  Note his brand.

The Brick Farm was an old name for the Pullman farmhouse.  It was built in 1800, and is reputed to be the birthplace of  the man who later (while living in Wisconsin) was credited as being the founder of The Republican Party of the United States.  Its architecture is graceful, solid, and definitely "of the period."  As Jesse described it, "Every hallway a bedroom, every bedroom a hallway."

At the invitation of Candace to stay for dinner, and of Jesse and Cally to spend the night, I stayed Sunday night at the farm.  We'll be going back for a baby shower in November, for Cally is expecting in January.
The happy farmers, parents-to-be.

Old feller, settin' a spell by the farm gate.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Life's Hump Day

We have a nickname for Wednesdays here in America.  Wednesday is called "Hump Day," for after Wednesday, one is "over the hump," and the week winds down toward the weekend.
Jesse, with his in-laws Mike and Candace Wheeler, and their daughter Cally, our delightful daughter-in-law.
October 20th was our son Jesse's 35th birthday.  Jesse spoke with his mother that day by phone, and told her that he'd spent his birthday spreading manure to fertilize the hay fields on the Vermont horse farm that he and his wife Cally now operate.

When I called to wish Jess a happy birthday, I told him that the 35th was the only birthday that ever troubled me.

"Why was that?" he asked. 

"Because The Bible only promises us three-score and ten years, so I figured life would go downhill fast after I reached 35."

Of course, I was wrong.  Jesse was born when I was 35, and then along came Piper and Alex.  As this blog surely attests, most of the fun in my life has occurred since I turned thirty-five.  So I left Jesse with that positive thought, then sent him an e-mail.  The following exchange ensued:

To Jesse McDougall
Cc: Shirl McDougall

Oct 20 at 4:16 PM

Dear Jesse,

Spreading manure seems a super way to celebrate one's only Hump Day! 
I love you and Cally and little Angus [the nickname of our unborn grandchild, due about January 1], too.  Take care of our Vermont branch!



Oct 22 at 10:17 AM
Hi Pops,

Thanks. It was a peaceful way to spend the day. Yesterday wasn't so peaceful, when the manure spreader broke on the first run. I spent the next 6 hours fixing a fully-loaded manure spreader. Stinky work. But oh God is it satisfying!

To Jesse S. McDougall

Oct 22 at 10:47 AM
Satisfying, if it gets fixed!
I understand. 
(Like setting the points on a 1978 Suzuki that is running of 2 cylinders, and getting it running on all 4.)
[We'd done that for Jesse's old GS550 several years ago, and that, too, was done at the farm.]



Oct 22 at 10:51 AM

I did get it fixed and running and cleaned out. I was racing the sunset, but after much torque, wrestling, and more heavy lifting than I should probably be doing, I got it. Jim, of course, had all the replacement parts on-hand.

Slept like a baby.

Cally and Shirl on the Vermont farm.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

See Niece Alina Fly!

Alina Meda Sime and her husband, Dragos Boeru
(Picture borrowed from Alina's Facebook page.) 
Today my beautiful and remarkable former UBB student Alina Sime (din Oradea) sent me the following link with this message:
hello uncle Duncan
I wanted to send you a link of a commercial
in the last seconds you can see me and Dragos
I like the whole commercial!  (But I love Alina and Dragos!) 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Tree for my Bride

Japanese Red Maple
Today, 6 October, is the 40th Anniversary of that auspicious day in 1973 when Shirley Kimball added the name McDougall, and joined me in our adventurous marriage.  We have added four children to the world, raised them to be caring and responsible adults, traveled together to most of the U.S., and a good part of Europe, argued and made up countless times, but shared the same bed when together at home for all forty of those years.
Son Alex, 28, helped me to plant the tree, my Anniversary present to Shirl, who came out in stocking feet to view it.
It is shaping up to be a wonderful autumn in New Hampshire.