Wednesday, November 30, 2005

more fishing

Still don't have access to my regular computer, but nonetheless, life goes on.

If you haven't checked out "Express Train", please do so. It is one of my favorite photoblogs. It's the blog home of Travis Ruse, who posts one photo each day, taken during his daily commute in the New York subway system.

A quick glance is not enough, as with most blogs you must spend some time and watch the story evolve over time. Writer William Least Heat-Moon would probably refer to it as a photographic "deep map" of the New York Subways. Many stories are played out and you are only limited by your imagination as to the storyline. I am reminded of the old TV show, which would proclaim at the beginning of each show - "There are a million stories in the Naked City".

He started one year ago in December, with the express intention of posting one photo each day.

Express Train -

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

fishing and giving thanks

Home computer is down, and I'm waiting for Intercontinental Ballistic Virus Missiles to repair the mess.

Please understand that "the farmers wife" is truly lo-tech....sometimes operating off of a generator. Out here is sometimes like a third world country, if a black cloud passes over we have no power! And "the farmers wife" is old and not computer savvy, lucky I know how to log on. As you can see there are no links to the right of my blog because the truth is I've never figured out how to do that.

But, if you like images and words from the heartland, and a peek into a simpler, gentler lifestyle - stick around. As soon as the troops blast the gremlins out ... I'll be back.

Taking lots of photos and hope to post some soon.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Some barns fall down one board at a time and other come down in a dramatic implosion caused when a strong wind creates a difference in air pressure.

Many of the outbuildings seem to be held together by a boat of paint, the think molecules bonding to hold the structures in a tenuous battle against the elements. The problem arises that you never quite know which are the most dangerous, so it's best to be wary of all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Harvested corn flows like gold into the 18-wheel grain hauler. The operation is choreographed like a ballet. A holding vehicle runs alongside the harvester at some point, accepting a download of grain. It then drives to the edge of the field and downloads the grain again, this time into the hauling truck.

The grain flow so freely and undulates like a ribbon of gold. I found a safe place to pull off and park my car and walked across LaFox Road to take some photographs. The county Sheriff stopped and asked me if I needed some help.....saw the camera and said, "Have a nice day".

I will try to post every day, but my computer is having major woes again. So if you've seen I've "gone fishing", don't fret and don't forget - like Arnold said, "I'll be back....."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

day and night

When conditions are right and it's time to harvest the machinery runs day and night. The large rigs nowadays have banks of lights and GPS systems.

This farmer had stopped for awhile, leaving his equipment in the middle of an already harvested corn field. If he's been working they would be a large 18-wheeler grain hauler sitting at the edge of the field or in the field if it was dry.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Some of the older and more architecturally traditional churches have closed, moving into buildings that are larger and more functionally diverse. Like the local barns whose purposes have changed or become obsolete, the older church buildings find new uses.

Some have been transformed into homes, and in this case, a large resale shop benefitting the local hospital. There are three of these windows, reaching 30 feet high or more. The colors and the workmanship are fantastic.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

oxblood red

This small barn is probably all that's left standing of a farmstead and was probably used as a utility or equpment storage shed. It stands at the edge of 250 acres of cornfield, which in itself is unusual. Most barns and outbuilding stand cozied up to the farmhouse, creating a small farm compound.

This small building is in very good condition and sports a coat of deeply red oxblood paint, the color of dark penny loafers. Barns in this area are painted white (mostly with green trim), a brighter barn red and even one farmstead that has a barn and three other buildings painted a shade of pinky mauve. My guess is that the farmer had some red paint and white and mixed it all together to get the job done. The older barns have lost all hint of paint except for under the protected eaves, and they shimmer the pearly grey of weathered barn wood.

They are all in various states of disrepair. One beautiful small barn imploded into a heap, with ends upturned to the sky. A storm blew through a week ago and it collapsed.

Friday, November 11, 2005


1948 -
Somewhere on the road south to the Florida panhandle.

Many who served in World War II were simple farm boys who'd never traveled more than 10 miles from home. My father had left the farm to live with friends in the city, allowing him to finish high school. Some of the soldiers and sailors had never owned a pair of proper shoes until their military service.

My dad was on ship in the Sea of Japan for the signing of the peace treaty a piece of history to which he will always be linked, even if it is only - "I was there."

The young men returned home after experiences (good and bad) that stagger the mind. My uncle returned to the peanut and cotton farm where he still lives. My dad returned to the city and started a family. They saved money to buy one of those small ranch houses built by the thousands for the returning veterans.

Plans were put on hold for awhile as he was called back into the Navy to serve in the Korean War. I never once heard my parents complain their lives interrupted. It was service to your country... a tithe for all the freedoms we enjoy.

I offer my greatest respect for my dad the veteran. He never had a high powered career or made a million dollars. He gave us so much more - a pattern on how to live your life - honesty, hard work, and charity - giving of yourself and your resources to help those less fortunate.

For a country boy, you "done good".

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

winter light

Fall is winding down and with each day the temperature dips lower. The light begins to change as well. The hot, yellow tones tones of summer turn every so slowly to winter light. Blues, purples and pinks rule the winter and everything will soon be painted with a pastel palette.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

feather light

As a kid I had my share of bruises. It wasn't that I was particularly clumsy but I had a habit of looking down at the ground when I walked, increasing the possibility of crashing into something. I'm not quite sure how this habit developed but it only got worse when I found a five-dollar bill on the sidewalk.

I found all kinds of things - jewelry, a wallet, and lots of lots of feathers. I'm not quite sure if birds drop that many feathers, or whether they just find their way to me. At some point I decided the feathers were a sign, of what I was never sure, but a sign nonetheless.

After a particularly horrible day at work there was a feather on the ground. Bending over to pick it up I smiled, taking this particular feather to mean, "Take a deep breath, nothing is that serious." A white feather awaited me as I stepped out of the car to keep a doctors appointment where I was given the results of a test. The news was not good but I sat in the car with the feather in hand, cried for about 5 minutes and said to myself, "Now, what? What are you going to do with this information?"

Whether you choose to believe it or not the most freeing thing that can happen to you is when someone says, "You have a chronic illness that will probably eventually kill you." Whew. That's a sentence alright. We all know we're going to die, we just don't know when. It's a nebulous thought rattling around somewhere in the back of our mind, but when the thought presents itself in earnest and crystalizes....what comes from the depth of your being is, "If I'm really going to die, then I'm really going to live."

Alot of my life was spent in fear - fear of getting sick, fear of flying, fear of losing a job, just one big bundle of fear. That one sentence blew everything apart and for the first time in my life I began to live - really live, with joy and excitement about what the next day would bring.

Eight years into the journey with the wolf, Lupus, and pushing through the physical problems is a challenge, but it's one of the best things that every happened to me.

The feather I found that morning is taped in my journal. Look down, find a feather, there's a message for you there.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

indian creek

Two seemingly unrelated events happened last Friday. First, our village newsletter was delivered in the mail and secondly a large backhoe was delivered at the edge of the woods across the street from my home.

The newsletter for our tiny village (population 750 including pets and livestock) announced that the Indian Creek drainage project was beginning. There's not much standing or flowing water of any kind in our area, although at one time there was a real Lily Lake. At the beginning of the century there were reported several cases of malaria, so residents drained the lake. I wasn't aware it was possible to drain a naturally occurring lake.

The only flowing water I was aware of would be Ferson Creek which runs north to south about 5,000 yards from my property line.

On Saturday morning the backhoe headed into the forest on its tank-like tracts, and began digging the narrow trench pictured above. It was at this point that I realized it was the drainage project and for 12 years I've been living across from Indian Creek. Well, better known as the "damp spot in the woods which was the silted over Indian Creek". The southwest corner of my property is actually the headwater of Indian Creek...also nothing more than a damp spot filled with cattails on the other side of the drainage pipe. But it's at this point the possibilities become exiciting.

My intention is to head out one afternoon and discover whether Indian Creek/damp spots turn to meet up with Ferson Creek running parallel just a short distance away. If that is indeed the case then with shoeleather, canoe, boat and ship I can travel to any shore in the entire world, from my front door.

This is what comes from reading William Least Heat-Moon's, "River Horse". It piques a fascination for the vagueries of water - trickling, flowing, spitting, moving, roaring, joining.... traveling, having it's way, defying most attempts at taming, challenging the adventurous to travel along its sinuous and sometimes dangerous trail.

If tiny Indian Creek joins up with Ferson Creek, it can be followed to where it empties into the Fox River, just above Boy Scout Island. The Fox wends its way south and west to flow into the Illinois river at Ottawa. The Illinois travels to a point above St. Louis where it lends its strength to the mighty Mississippi. It should be enough that the Mississippi leads to the Gulf of Mexico, but from the Mississippi you can take the Ohio and snake your way through other waterways to the Atlantic Ocean, or take the more dangerous ride up the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean in the tradition of Lewis and Clark.

It's a journey that will be taken only in my imagination, but think of the possibilities - the Amazon River, the San Blas Islands, Iceland and beyond. Outside my front door.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


At this point things will get interesting at the Farmers Wife. The blog was born in April with the thought of posting at least one photo per day. There are those times when I'm "gone fishing", but the stats tell me I've entered 263 posts, some days 3 or 4 photos, more than making up for skipped entries.

And now we have - daylight savings time. I'm not quite sure exactly what daylight is being saved, because it's not very light when I leave for work in the morning and very dark when I return at night. I would stop many times on the drive home to take photographs. Now I'll be relegated to shots on my lunch hour or weekends. Let's see how many times I'll be digging in my unpublished files for something to post.

This is the other end of Pouley Road, on a misty grey-bright morning. I usually avoid this route as small town police lay in wait to hand out tickets for any infraction, including not having a front license plate. When the train goes through in December, and the building boom hits the town like a tract home avalanche, they'll have plenty to do - real crime will come as a gift of civilization.

It's probably a good idea to stay off this road, until which time they decide to correct the orientation of this pole. A good wind from the west and it will be history.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

rough road

This road is out of my way, but I make it a point to drive this route one or twice every season. I'll never forget the first time I glanced to the left and looked down the beautiful, enclosed space created by the arching trees. It's breathtaking at any time of the year, but especially in fall. The sign says "Rough Road", but this lane is not all that challenging after you've spent white knuckle time on a dirt farm road that's turned to a slippery clay track sucking your tires into the muck. I got out of that challenge, but only after I'd managed to navigate around a road grader that was smoothing the whole mess out.