Saturday, June 30, 2007

I Wonder

The above picture shows a hummingbird feeder overtaken by honeybees. This is the first year I've seen bees visit here for sweetened water. The dispenser has been at this place every summer for many years.

The two pictures below show fields less than a mile from my home. The fields were sprayed with chemical herbicides to kill unwanted weed and grass growth in preparation for corn planting. This field turned from green to brown almost overnight. Two weeks after these photos green corn was growing through this dead ground cover. Now the corn is about four feet tall.

Today, modern farming involves "chisel planting". When I was young in the 1950's and '60's, farming this field meant plowing in the fall with "turning plows" attached to a tractor. These plows cut into the ground about 6 to 8 inches deep and flipped over the dirt. This process buried ground cover and exposed fresh dirt on top. During the winter, the buried plants decayed and the cloddy surface dirt froze and became easy to crumble in the spring when tractors pulled disk plows across the field. After disk plowing, a tractor again traversed the field and laid off rows, deposited fertilizer, and buried seed corn all in the same pass. As the corn grew, tractors were used to cultivate the crop a couple times as it grew to maturity. Finally, tractors with harvesting equipment drove over the field to mechanically strip corn ears from the stalks.

This farming method involved driving tractors six times across the field throughout the year.

Chisel planting requires tractors to visit the field only two or three times per year. Turning and disk plowing aren't needed with the chisel planting method. This technique reduces fuel consumption and labor hours. It is surprising how well corn, soy beans, and different grain crops grow with this method of planting crops.

I wonder if modern and widespread use of herbicides on farmland and lawns are contributing to the behavior of bees at my feeder? I wonder why bees choose sweet water over nectar from blossoms on trees, flowers, and weeds. One beekeeper hobbyist in the area told me there are times when blossoms aren't plentiful enough to support the bees. He places sweetened water near his hives to supplement their nectar gathering.

Beekeepers in New York City place hives on rooftops of high-rise apartment buildings. City bees in New York collect enough nectar to sustain their colonies. Why can't bees in suburbia of Winston-Salem, North Carolina find enough floral nectar to make my bird feeder undesirable?

Have a good week!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Las Cruces, New Mexico

In 1978, twenty-nine years ago, I commissioned an artist to create an oil on canvas painting of the desert in southern New Mexico. The result is the 25" X 49" painting above which shows the landscape and sky as seen from the valley of Las Cruces. The Organ Mountains are in the background. On the other side of that mountain range are White Sands and Alamogordo. (As an Army soldier in 1967, I spent three weeks in that area to participate in field tests of shoulder fired, heat seeking, anti-aircraft missiles called red eye.)

I made around twenty-five business trips from North Carolina to Las Cruces between 1975 and 1990. I was fascinated by the blue sky, clouds, desert, mountains, cactus, tumbleweed, the fertile valley, pecan orchards, stockyards, irrigation ditches, water management practices, and, of course, the people I worked with in the manufacturing plant. I recall names like John Rumsey, Freddie Gomez, Stan Smith, Chris Allen, and Jim Speas. We, along with hundreds of employees there, worked diligently and served our company and its consumers with sheer hosiery needs.

I wanted that picturesque image on canvas. Joan Kolody, a young artist at the time, was the person who painted this original. I continue to own and enjoy her painting. I occasionally stare into the desert scene and recall that period in time, the people I knew there, and the consumer products we manufactured in the plant.

If anyone knows Joan Kolody, please show her this page and ask her to email me via this blog.

Have a good week!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Power of Respect

Visualize this scenario: A home was offered for sale. A potential buyer evaluated the real estate and agreed to buy it at the asking price and terms of payment. The seller and buyer verbally agreed to close the deal in two weeks. During the two week period, the house caught fire and burned to the ground. Devastated and almost in tears, the seller told the buyer that his house was destroyed by accidental fire. The potential buyer responded: "No, my house burned; we had an agreement". The deal closed as agreed and the buyer paid full price for the pile of ashes.

This incident happened to Dave Longaberger involving a factory. He agreed to buy a vendor's facility which burned before the closing date. He followed through with the purchase, rebuilt the factory, bought new equipment, and reemployed the workforce to manufacture raw materials for his basket company. It may seem illogical to pay full price for ashes when it wasn't required, but, this man deviated from tradition and took actions counter to conventional wisdom throughout his life. Today, thousands of people are gainfully employed because of the dreams, vision, and passions of this one person. Mr. Longaberger was a success in life as well as in business.

Dave was 21 when he graduated high school. During his youth, he stuttered, he also experienced epileptic seizures, and wasn't a high performer when it came to school work. He was highly decent and had respect for everyone. Although he accumulated wealth, he was not obsessed by money and was generous in gifting. He developed 18 management principles that are presented in his book. He was largely responsible for reversing an economic decline in the small town of Dresden, Ohio and put it on a path of growth. Dave Longaberger was so admired that 8,000 people attended his memorial service in 1999 when he died at age 64 from cancer.

I could relate much more about this extraordinary man after reading his biography which is shown in the picture, but, you may want to read about his amazing life story. The book is Longaberger: An American Success Story by Robert L. Shook and Dave Longaberger. The publisher is HarperCollins 2001 copyright, 234 pages.

Have a good week!


Sunday, June 10, 2007

GPS Track Superimposed onto Google Earth

Click on the link below to see amazing technology of a recorded
recreational cross country run.

Open the link, scroll down the page to the window, and watch Dave's run in Chapel
Hill, NC. See real time statistics at the bottom of the screen. Allow one minute forty-five seconds to view this 7.4 mile run.

Have a good week!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Newspaper Article

An article about this blog was in the Winston-Salem Journal's
Clemmons/Lewisville section on May 10, 2007. If you'd like to see
it, then click on the below link.

Have a good day!

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Harris Teeter and Fresh Market food stores display exquisite produce. I shop at one or the other almost every week to buy vine-ripened tomatoes that are prettier and more tasty than ones I've grown at home through careful gardening. There is one produce, however, that does not measure up to home-grown and that is okra.

My wife and I discovered a recipe last year for this vegetable from West African origin. Fresh okra roasted on an outdoor grill with a little olive oil added is a delicacy. Here are key steps: harvest the fast growing pods when they reach a tender 3 inches (longer than 4 inches is stringy and hard to chew). Heat the grill and cook the fresh harvest a couple minutes on each side. Brush or spray olive oil as they cook. Enjoy this sidedish with beef, chicken, or fish.

Three pictures show my equipment pumping water into barrels in preparation to water this new crop. I siphoned groundwater from barrels into the furrows of the garden due to low rainfall amount this spring. See bottom picture of garden.

Have a good week!