20 March 2014

The chickens through winter

The Coop in winter

I took up raising chickens this fall.
It was something my mostly Finnish spouse wanted to do, but I ended up taking the bulk of the duties. Thus far we only have 2 hens- a Sebright Golden  and a New Hampshire Red. We had another one but that is a story for another day. They spent the winter in the coop you see above. And it was a really cold winter. I did not heat the coop so the hens needed to produce their own heat.
I did not have a heat source mostly because the coop is so small ad there is no safe spot for a heat lamp. I also read from many chicken raisers that you let the hens produce the heat by supplementing their feed with corn. I also insulated 3/4s of the coop. 
Now that it is spring, I am pleased to announce that they survived the rugged Dakota winter.
The only thing I learned is that they need better ventilation in winter. Lots of condensation built up inside.
I had a cloth over the door on the majority of the winter. The hens have not figured it out- except perhaps the bantam. Although she seems to have fallen out the door because they often build up straw near the opening.
So far only a half dozen eggs. The Red started laying infrequently early last month.

18 March 2014

The mall is dead- long live the mall

Found a particularly interesting website devoted to dead malls and the shifting of cultural gathering places.

I am a bit fascinated by suburban decay and enclosed malls certainly have claim to be the dinosaurs of the rot. My other favorite is the repurposed fast food joints.

Back where I grew up in the Grove, there were 2 malls- Grove Plaza and Cottage Square. Grove Plaza still exists- although it certainly has waned in the last decade. It went through a mid-life crisis in the early 80s when one anchor left. In the 90s it saw the K-Mart leave and the movie theater waver from existence to existence but it still had high occupancy. The fast food in on one end of the parking lot went from KFC to Burger King to destroyed. The cafĂ© on the other side of the parking lot started out as a Sambos and then became locally owned Jerry's and then destroyed and rebuilt as a video store of some kind.
Cottage Square was a more modern enclosed style mall. It had a central hall with skylights. It was anchored on one side by a hardware store and on the other a Synder's drug store. Conco shoes was also a central anchor of sorts in earlier times but became bingo parlor later. The mall also had a few restaurants in addition to a plethora of little specialty stores and the Bulletin License center. The mall met its demise in the last decade. It was razed and Norris Square, a senior living facility was built on the site. What plagued Cottage Square was it was on the wrong side of town. Most of the new growth in the city was on the other side of 61 on the south side of the Jamaica corridor. If the Square were built where the Target stands today- it would probably still be around.    

27 February 2014

A Venerable Chief

I am finally coming out of the deep freeze which the blog has been in since December. It seems like it has been coldest winter I recollect. To warm up 2014 I'll be posting a bit about my model railroad. It made a major acquisition this weekend with the assembly of a train table. Now I need to start to lay track and clean up the floor layout upstairs. For now I will feature one of the 'road's' special trains.

Once there was an fine train that could take you from L.A. to Chicago. It was BNSF predecessor Santa Fe's Super Chief. The funny thing is that I learned a lot about the Super Chief by listening to Jack Benny. He would have a train episode nearly every season. Here one from his TV shows. Simply hilarious.
The Lionel 212 Alco FAA pair belong to my father. He recollected to have acquired the diesels and the 3 passenger cars in the early 1960s. I have childhood memories of my dad running the train around the house along with a little trolley.

About a year ago I decided to recommit to model railroading and thus decided to throw my lot with O scale. After making a few purchases on e-bay, I brought the Super Chief set to my temporary layout from home. If you have read an earlier post you will note that my father's re-painted Navy Yard Switcher arrived earlier and was not working well until I lubed an cleaned it. The 212 was the same way. Also, It has some body damage due to a battery that was not removed prior to long term storage and the E-Unit toggle was missing. I cleaned it up as good as I could. It still ran pretty sluggish. I then purchased some new brushes for the motor and that did the job. Runs really good for a 50 year old train. Still has life left.


06 December 2013

My Freight Car Friday: mystery flat car

Above we have another mystery freight car. This one took me a while to obtain due to an Ebay seller messing up shipping for over a month. What we have here is a fenced flat car. At first glance you may think- hey this is that horse car from one the Lionel General outfit or the later Lionel Jesse James outfit. But no, this car is not from either of those.
The really strange thing about this car is that it has "fake trucks." Basically what you are seeing in the photo is a plastic mask in the shape of trucks a la Marx Trains. There are only 2 axles on this unit and if it were not for the underside Lionel stamp I would think this came from Marx.
I never thought Lionel would drop quality this far for a car- but they did and especially during the period they were owned by General Mills henceforth known as the MPC era. A sharp contrast to the ever collectible and solid Post War era.
So from what outfit did this flat car come?
The Lionel Workin' On the Railroad Logging Empire outfit from 1978 that was priced aroubnd $35 in those days
This low cost, mostly plastic set had a lot of play value but the model quality is a bit diminished. The set included 6 cars and an engine, large figure eight track, a log loader and a barrel loader.
You can see the set in action below from a vintage commercial. Seems they might have contracted with Johnny Cash for the music.


27 November 2013

Thanksgiving Eve watch and listen

It is the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house not a person was hungry- not even a mouse.
All watched the clock on the oven click down- for they knew at zero a roast turkey would be found.
And with would come mash potatoes and beans and culinary delights fit for the Queen.
Some stuffing, cranberries and a sweet potato or two- these foods would be eaten and consumed by the next day at 2.
And to top it off a pumpkin pie would be sliced then dolloped with whipped dream to top off Thanksgiving night.
But now we all wait for the turkey to arrive
And now watch and listen to what some people have contrived
To commemorate this ole holiday of thanks.

Years ago I wrote a Thanksgiving program for the college radio station in Morris, MN.
A Kumm Thankgiving Pageant

Then watch Charlie brown putter his way through Thanksgiving
I must admit this Charlie Brown special is kinda of corny in the set-up. It not the best but it certainly is not the least. And it is one of the few longstanding specials that revolve around Thanksgiving. I sort of make an allusion to this show it in the KUMM program above.

Next learn about one of favorite food for Thanksgiving- cranberries

 Finally something from way back- George Burns and Gracie Allen celebrate Thanksgiving
I have not watched this one before- but generally the setup for the show is Gracie's crazy schemes and George's commentary on the scenario.

14 November 2013

Trains and WWII

With this week starting out with Veterans' Day I think this would be an appropriate video to re-post from the Tube.

It is an informative film concerning an air attack on a military train. 2 P-51s bomb the railroad and the train crew responds albeit without eliminating the enemy aircraft. You may think it is odd that that US planes would bomb a US military plane but I doubt anyone was ready with cameras to film an actual attack. The aid response was particularly quick- but what can you show in 4 minutes. Once the trucks arrived they went right at it to restore the railbed.

02 November 2013

The remote sauna

Sunset in Voyaguer's National Park

In August the Man of 3 Name and I took a canoe trip into Voyaguer's National Park in Northern Minnesota. To our surprise we were the only canoe we saw in the park (notwithstanding the canoe party from Illinois that was leaving as we were entering the park.). Voyaguer's is a big water kind of canoe area. Most of the smaller lakes are interior to the Kabetogama Penisula. We traversed the eastern bays of Lake Kabetogma to the big waters of  Namakan Lake and base camped in Junction Bay.
The weather was pleasant but did drop in the 30s one night. We also had a spectacular show in the evening skies- meteor showers.

I digress as this post is about the sauna we found in the wilderness.
On our way to Junction Bay we passed through a narrow gap between 2 islands. As we got closer I thought I saw some type of building on one of the islands. However, we paddled on without investigating.
The Sauna
On our way out we came through the area again and this time decided  to disembark and poke around this island.
There were quite a few building on this property including a sauna just a few feet from the lakeshore.
Apparently it was an old resort for a time- I.W. Stevens Pine Cove Resort- and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Here is a write up about the place and the man, Ingvald, who lived on this island. The article does mention the sauna and that it was built in 1935 with the help of 2 Finns- Waino and Eino Lahti. Or at least I think they are Finnish- the name sounds Finnish. For its' age the sauna appeared to be in great condition. The red door was a nice touch. It just needed a sauna stove and you would be set.

The Sauna Bench