21 November 2011

Falling Branch Potluck

Our little neighborhood has several meals together each year, in the basement of the little 1892 Methodist church at the end of the road. The Thanksgiving dinner is a potluck. Here's the first fellow going through the line as we joined together on Saturday afternoon.

Its wonderful to be in a place with a sense of community.

15 November 2011

Water Heaters, Part II

The search for a new water heater has become an Olympian struggle. I gave the plumbing company my first three choices for 50 gallon, propane fired, 12 year warranty, Energy Star compliant, water heaters, one each from Sears, Lowes, and Home Depot. Guess what - none of the three are kept in stock and waiting time to reacquire a hot water shower ranges from five to 15 days.

So, to widen the choices, next I went to propane tankless water heaters where the Rheem was a clear choice at Lowes. No real contenders elsewhere. Guess what - or are you ahead of me already - three to five days to obtain one. Probably.

Is there a moral here? Why, yes, of course there is! Actually, two or more:

1. order a new water heater before the old one dies. Maybe put it in the garage or paint it wild colors, call it "art" and make it the centerpiece of the living room, where it will live in comfort for a few years until its predecessor dies.

2. if you want an in-stock water heater because your old one is already dead, don't look for a quality product; everyone has six year warranty, non-Energy Star heaters that are unlikely to last much past six years.

14 November 2011

A Few Days Away - paying for them...

The Fuzzies were in Florida for a few days - Mr. Fuzzy was in meetings from 7:30 a.m until usually 9:00 p.m. and hardly saw the sun. Mrs. Fuzzy, on the other hand, played gayly in the 70F degree weather.

When we returned home we discovered that:
1. one or more cats had lower intestinal issues for most of the time,
2. the heat never came on - the poor house sitter probably froze,
3. and today, whilst the repairman was examining the boiler system, the hot water heater sprang a leak. Oh joy.

Tomorrow they will install a new Whirlpool 50 gallon water heater. And we will make a final decision on a new boiler... the old one is very inefficient (too many $ spent on propane - that's why we normally heat the hoos with wood) and probably over two decades of age. Oh, what to do, what to do?

06 November 2011

seasonal conditions

The last week or so, the nights have been at or below the freezing point of water; the days have cooled as well, some, even with all the assistance Old Sol can give, could not rise to the fifty degree mark. Mrs. Fuzzy has tended several fireplace sessions to take the chill out of the house.

Mr. Fuzzy took a stroll about the southern half of Stratheden today; the conditions were perfect - dead calm, not a single cloud in the deep blue sky, about 55F and the long shadows and gorgeous colour of light found only in the autumn before it trends to winter.

The deer were about with four does and one buck spotted. Hunting season is soon with us and they are currently far too nonchalant about sounds and movement if they wish to see the new year. Deer trails abound on the farm - here is one. They are so well-worn that a child would spot them.

The forest floor is thoroughly insulated by a deep blanket of leaves with very few remaining on the trees now. The various pine trees now stand out in stark contrast to their naked brethren all around them.

There is a sense that a new crew has taken over the task of maintaining the forest lives.

05 November 2011

Blueridge Folklife Festival for Fall

The Fuzzies rarely are able to stray far from the farm but there are many notable and noble recreations and diversions nearby, of greater and lessor qualities. One of the best is this festival at Ferrum College in Ferrum, VA. The Fuzzies attended last year although they did not allot enough time; they arrived several hours earlier this year.

The festival has everything to do with life in this part of the Blue Ridge mountains, from moonshine to horse pulls. There are three huge tents for the day long musical programs (one each for bluegrass, gospel and string band), maybe 125 classic cars, 75 classic tractors, stationery engines (pop, pop, pop), coon dog trials, jumping mules, sorghum making, hog dressing, museum exhibits (the origin of the dulcimer in America), food vendors (many of them church groups), etc. The event is only one day long - there is no way to walk fast enough to see each feature. Although this type of event has its roots in Medieval quarter-day/cross-quarter day observances and market fairs, the interpretation and execution are purely American. It was a wide spread tradition of rural America from the earliest days until perhaps diminished by The War to End All Wars; these community celebrations are a major part of the glue which binds together the social fabric. As these get-togethers have fallen by the wayside, so has the society of America deteriorated.

Mrs. Fuzzy took in the music and crafts whilst Mr. Fuzzy was totally seduced by the classic cars. The American cars of the 1920-1950 period were the envy of the world - and exquisitely beautiful. Nowadays, its hard to tell a Mercedes from a Toyota- or a Ford. Ranked by consumer satisfaction, American cars are hardly on the radar screen. Where & why did Detroit go so wrong?Oh, Mr. Fuzzy is in total lust for a '32 Ford Deuce Coupe...

There were about half a dozen examples of bootleggers' cars, all with huge engines and special suspension systems to allow them to power up steep inclines and navigate the curves on mountain roads - leaving the revenuers cars in the dust.

Former bootlegger car with a 455 horse-power engine (!!!) ain't she jist a beaut?

But the strangest competition to Mr. Fuzzy was the Coon Mule Jumping contest. In this area, where coon hunting was (and remains) a major male pursuit, mules were ridden. The problem was: what did the rider do when encountering a fence? There was no time in the darkness (coon hunting is a night recreation) to find the nearest gate - the rider dismounted and the mule jumped the fence, to be remounted on the other side. The attached photo is of a 20 year old mule who has been a champion many times (oh, did I mention the incentive? $6,500 in prize money). The mule is lead to the barrier and then verbally encouraged to go over it (didn't realize a mule would respond to just words...). Except for this venerable old gal, most stand right in front of the bar, rise on their hind legs as if to stand and then lean over the bar with the rest of their body following. This gal walked up to the bar then backed up about three paces, got one or two steps of speed up and leapt. She sure knew how to do it.

The old tractors attracted him, too, but Floyd county has so many fine examples that Mr. Fuzzy has become jaded on the topic.

Another contest which might be unique was the Coon Dog Water Race wherein a coon dog swims after a raccoon decoy which is pulled across a large body of water on an overhead pulley arrangement. (you can find the dog by the second wake- remember you can click on an image to enlarge it for better viewing).