Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First Natural-born Citizen of the Tallahatchie Free State

The Colonel now has first hand knowledge of the veracity of the saying, "One should not count their chickens before they hatch."

One of the Colonel's hens went, as they say, "broody" nearly four weeks ago.  With a little help from her sisters, Silvia, so named for a speckling of silver in her speculum feathers, quickly amassed a mound of eggs and assumed the setting position. 

Once a hen assumes the position, she is pretty much there for the duration.  And, supposedly, the duration of incubation for a Rhode Island Red egg is 21 days.

So, Silvia set.  Not sat.  Set.  

The Colonel feels positively farmerish usin' the farm lingo.

"Yup," he tells his friends and neighbors, "Ah gotta hen settin' on a whole mound'a aigs.  Gonna have me a huge hen herd, now."  

And, Silvia set.

And, she set some more.

That hen set right there on that mound of eggs, unmovable, day and night, rain and shine.

Pine stump unmovable.

War protester unmovable.

Twenty-one days passed.  Twenty-two.  Twenty-three.  Twenty-four.

The Colonel checked and re-checked the calendar. 

Twenty-five days passed.

Just about the time the Colonel had decided to take ol' Smedley the rooster in to the vet for a fertility check, one egg hatched.

You have got to be kiddin' the Colonel!  Silvia is setting on a mound of eggs the height of which rivals that of an early Egyptian step pyramid and only one egg hatches?  

Luckily, the Colonel's hen herd egg production costs have decreased steadily over the past several months and the cost per egg is now down to just shy of their weight in silver, so the investment only rivals the GDP of, say, Luxembourg.

Everything here on the farm (and the Colonel uses that term more loosely than a newborn's diaper deposit) gets a name.  Every piece of machinery, every bend in the creek, every hen in the herd has a proper name.  The new chick was hatched on Good Friday.

It's name is Friday.

This morning another egg hatched.  The Hope of 21st Century Civilization, dashes 1 and 2 (H21CC, -1 & -2) were in attendance, peering impatiently over the rim of the brooder box, as the newest member of the Eegeebeegee Egg Production Platoon struggled to free itself from its shell.  The Colonel turned to H21CC-1 and asked him, "What should we name this one."

"I dunno, Pop," he answered.  "What day is it?"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Children of the Wheat

In the northernmost field (designated North Field in a fevered fit of originality) of his vast holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere, the Colonel has a quite unintentional, yet satisfying nonetheless, stand of wheat.  The Colonel can neither confirm nor deny that the wheat growing in the North Field is as a result of the field's use for several dove shoots last Fall. 

Small heaps of shotgun shell hulls spaced regularly around the field tend to lend credence to confirmation.

The lack of substantial amounts of meat in the freezer tend to lend credence to denial.

While the neither confirmed nor denied dove shoots may or may not have been impressive, the stand of wheat now extant in the North Field is, the Colonel can proudly attest, very impressive.

The Colonel's grandsons, the Hope of 21st Century Civilization dashes One and Two (H21CC-1 & 2), are even more impressed with the impressiveness of the unintentional wheat field than is the Colonel.  They especially like the fact that the Colonel allows them to romp in one small corner of said impressive unintentional stand of wheat that may or may not be the result of copious amounts of wheat spread on the North Field in what may or may not have been a bonafide agricultural practice.

Children are one of only two species on this big blue marble that romp.  (The act of romping is impossible for anyone over the age of twelve, of which the Colonel can attest with certainty born of a very recent attempt.)  The only other species capable of romping is the adolescent phase of the domestic canine.

That's puppy dog for the LSU and Alabama grads among the few of you struggling to maintain your sanity perusing the drivel in this post.

Puppy dawg for the Mississippi State grads.

A full-fledged romp worthy of the appelation is no ordinary scurrying about by feet of kids clad in Keds.  A romp is accomplished with wild abandon.  A romp combines tumbles, leaps, screeches, giggles, and, if an appropriate nearby shallow semi-liquid-filled depression is available, full frontal splashes.

That's puddle for the Georgia grads struggling to keep up.

When H21CC-1 & 2 told their Nana, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, that the Colonel let 'em romp in the wheat field (the little snitches), the Colonel's lady fixed the Colonel with her patented and lovingly oft-used "You idiot!" look and asked with great concern,

"What about snakes?!?"

The Colonel assured her that no snakes were harmed in the accomplishment of the impressive wheat stand romp.

The Colonel is not a complete idiot.     

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rebel Run-a-thon

Rhett Anthony, the Colonel, Jim "Psycho" Ward,
 and Dan "Danno" Carpenter loop The Grove
 in the inaugural Run-a-thon.
Google the term "run-a-thon" and the dozen or so of you who regularly waste rod and cone time perusing posts hereon will find several references to running events held to raise funds for charity.  The Colonel has no doubt in his military mind that he and his classmates in the Semper Fidelis Society at Ole Miss coined the term and hosted the first "Run-a-thon" thirty-five years ago this spring.

The Colonel wishes he had trade-marked the term.

Besieged by scores of sorority sisters batting lashes and begging pledges of dollars for March of Dimes for each mile walked in the annual Walk-a-thon, the Colonel (then a lowly NROTC Midshipman) had a rare moment of mental clarity (it is unbelievably difficult to think when besieged by a lash-batting, sugar-mouthed Ole Miss coed) and empathy (the Colonel is an INTJ -- Google that and understand his difficulty feeling for others' misfortune).   In that fleeting moment of rare mental clarity and empathy, the thought occurred to the Colonel that he and his brother (and sister) Middies could do the whole walk-a-few-miles-for-charity thing in a much more manly (and womanly) manner.  

We NROTC midshipman (the Marine officer aspirants, in particular) weren't walkers.  We were runners.  

Not joggers.  Runners.    

We future Marine leaders had stellar Marine leaders teaching us and they stressed leadership from the front.  Our Marines would be running, not jogging, and a Marine officer needed to be running out front.  We future Marine leaders also had a rite of passage to complete near the end of our college matriculation--Officer Candidate School--and said rite of passage was not passed walking, nor even jogging.  

So, we ran.  Three, four, five miles a day.  Every day. The goal was to run sub-six minute miles.  That was a high and rarely attained goal.  So we ran hard, pushing ourselves.  We ran laps around the joggers on campus.  The only ones running faster were the athletes on scholarship. 

But, we ran farther.  Much farther.  Forrest Gump farther.

Our leaders challenged us to do something for charity every year.  In years past the NROTC Battalion of Midshipmen had played marathon softball games for charity and pummeled fat frat rats in charity boxing smokers.  But this year we would do something that would capture the imagination, and capitalize on our strength.

We would run as far as we could run in 24 hours and collect pledges for each mile run.  We would concentrate our pledge efforts on the monied Sorority and Fraternity Rows.  We would take their daddies' money in huge wads--we were known for running long distances, but no one could fathom the distance we could run in 24 hours.  Most pledgers thought, at best, we would log ten miles each. 

We planned, secretly, to double that, at least.

At the center of the Ole Miss campus sits a wooded patch of hallowed ground known as The Grove, the home of the most famous and most genteel college game-day "tailgate" assemblance in all the land.  The irregular circumference of The Grove is exactly one half of one mile.  In those days, the Naval ROTC unit was headquartered in McCain Hall (named in honor of the Senator's grandfather) across Grove Loop from The Grove.  We set up bivouac, and runner check-in, out front of McCain Hall.

The rules for that first Run-a-thon, and every one thereafter, were simple.  A baton would be kept moving around The Grove in the hands of a dedicated runner for 24 hours, in 30 minute shifts.  All other runners could run at their own pace and at their own desired time of day or night, but were encouraged to run at least one of their laps around The Grove with the designated baton carrier.  

At the start of that first Run-a-thon, more than a score of runners escorted the baton around The Grove for several laps.  Late into the night the baton kept circling The Grove; sometimes the runner carrying it in lonely pavement-pounding vigil.

At the end of that first Run-a-thon many of the runners had covered more than twenty miles.  Jim "Psycho" Ward (later to command a Navy F/A-18 squadron and currently commanding airliners) logged thirty miles and set a bar over which future Run-a-thon runners would be challenged to take a running jump.   As memory serves, and it serves rather slovenly these days, the Colonel believes that Jim also set the record for the longest seated shower immediately following the inaugural Run-a-thon--and proved that one could actually consume meals under running water.   

That first Run-a-thon netted over a thousand dollars (a tidy sum of lots of sorority girls' daddies' money in 1976) for the March of Dimes.

The Colonel's #1 son, then himself a midshipman in the Ole Miss NROTC program, ran for over 30 miles in the 25th Annual Run-a-thon.   The Colonel doesn't know if the tradition continues, but he will be a presenter at the Ole Miss NROTC Awards Day next week and intends to find out.  If the tradition has lapsed, the Colonel will attempt to challenge its re-institution.    

Just hope they don't challenge the Colonel to run with 'em.              

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Spring Planting Planning

Spring has sprung, maybe, here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.  The signs are everywhere, to include the roller-coaster ride of temperature changes.   The Colonel hasn't put away his jacket just yet, even though most days he finds himself working in short sleeves by mid-day.

And, there is plenty to keep the Colonel busy this time of year.  The next five months are critical to the well-being of all--flora, fauna, and folks alike--here aboard Eegeebeegee.  There are trees to plant; fields to mow, spray, and disc; and the garden plot to prepare for 'maters, 'taters, squash, peppers, peas, and okra.  

A quarter acre plot back in the bottom below the Big House has been limed and disced and will be planted in sweet corn and pole beans in another week or so.  The Colonel is going to try to go a bit native this year and plant non-hybrid sweet corn.  He's ordered Golden Bantam corn seed and hopes to save enough seed to remain self-sufficient in future years.  When the corn is up half a foot or so, the Colonel plans to plant Kentucky Blue pole beans next to each stalk.  The theory is that the corn and beans will enjoy a symbiotic relationship.  The corn will give the pole beans support and the beans will fix nitrogen for the corn.

The Colonel realizes that the Mississippi State and LSU products among the dozen (readership is increasing near-exponentially) of you who regularly waste rod and cone time perusing posts hereon may have difficulty understanding some of the words in the last two sentences of the preceding paragraph.  The Colonel will break it down Barney-style for you:

Symbiotic:  supporting and being supported by (Example:  The University of Alabama football team and the SEC officials at every Ole Miss--Alabama football game.)

Nitrogen:  chemical element common on the planet essential for growth (LSU grads should not confuse with the term "not your gin").

Pole:  stick    

Perhaps the greatest excitement here at the capital of the Tallahatchee Free State this spring is the potential for the significant increase in the size of the Colonel's Hen Herd.  One of the hens has gone broody.  She's been setting on a clutch of a dozen eggs for over a week.  Despite the fact that at the ROI cost of $5 per egg leaving a dozen uncollected is a great sacrifice; and without counting the Colonel's hens' chicks before they hatch (Hey, that would make for a sage saying, wouldn't it?), the sacrifice might actually be worth it--if it means growing the herd.  

With the Colonel's luck, the hatch will be all roosters.   

Friday, April 01, 2011

Hat in the Ring

Noting a glaring lack of principled commitment and fiscal common sense required to lead this nation back to greatness, the Colonel is hereby announcing the establishment of an exploratory committee to determine the feasibility of a run for the Presidency of the United States.

Should be a rather short process.

In the meantime, the Colonel's platform is provided below:

1.  American Exceptionalism will be the overarching principle of our administration.  Every decision, every program, every expenditure of blood and treasure will be evaluated in the light of whether it will make our nation, not a political party, stronger.  Programs found to be dilatory to that end, from the individual citizen up, will be eliminated.

2.  A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, requiring that, except in the case of an official declaration of a state of war by the Congress, the Federal government's budget not exceed 18% of GDP, will be our administration's foremost legislative priority.  No other programs or expenditures will be proposed by our administration until a balanced budget amendment is ratified.  All acts of congress passed prior to passage of a balanced budget amendment act will be vetoed.

3.  All departments of the Federal government will be operated as "profit centers."  Any department found not to have a positive return on investment of the taxpayers' treasure, as determined by an independent accounting firm, at the end of 18 months from our administration's inauguration, will be eliminated.  

4.  In order for the Department of Defense (name to be restored to the original "War Department") to accomplish the foregoing requirement, and to eliminate the issue of illegal immigration from within the hemisphere, the reinstatement of Manifest Destiny and the forceful annexation of the remainder of the Western Hemisphere will be pursued as the foremost foreign policy initiative of our administration.  Voluntary entrants into the union, prior to the initiation of hostilities, will not be required to pay tribute. 

5.  All moratoriums on drilling for petroleum and natural gas will be lifted immediately.

6.  All military forces permanently stationed outside of the Western Hemisphere will be returned to the territory of the United States within 36 months of the inauguration of our administration.   Our strategic nuclear forces will suffice for deterrence of enemies outside of the Western Hemisphere.  Countries desiring protection by the United States will pay tribute.

7.  Upon ratification of a balanced budget amendment, our administration will propose, and support passage and ratification of a Federal office-holder term limits and equitable compensation/benefits amendment to the Constitution. Until ratification of said amendment, all acts of Congress regarding congressional compensation will be vetoed.

8.  In order to spur competition for greatness among the States, the Federal Social Security Administration will be phased out over the  four years of our administration and the requirement for retirement savings and relief returned to the American citizens and the states to which they belong.  

9.  In order to spur competition for greatness among the States, our administration will, upon congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment, propose an amendment to repeal the 16th Amendment.  Pending such action, the Internal Revenue Service will be eliminated.  The States will assume responsibility for tax collection.  As price of continued membership in our great union, the States will remit to the Federal government funds equal to ten percent of the tax revenues raised by each State.

10.  In order to spur competition for greatness among the states, the Medicare and Medicaid programs will be phased out over the four years of our administration and the responsibility for such services returned to the States.

10.  Any State which desires to leave the union may do so on its own initiative, but will forfeit any and all protections provided by the union.  Readmission to the union will require tribute.

11.  Upon passage and accomplishment of all of the above, our administration will, by a final Executive Order, reduce the number of federal holidays to three:  Independence Day, Memorial Day, and...

April Fools Day.