Sunday, October 15, 2017

Creeks Remembered

Ford and shallow creek in Tood County, KY
Shallow water at a ford in Todd County, KY
One of the interesting things about this part of Kentucky (probably most of Kentucky) is that small country roads sometimes have creek fords instead of bridges.

I can't imagine driving a vehicle across either of the little creeks I knew as a child -- the Skull and the Bloody, of southwestern Rock County, Nebraska. Those creeks are bordered with wetlands (we called them swamps) that were up to 1/4 mile wide from one side to the other. The water table is very close to the surface in the swamps and hay meadows that adjoin those creeks.

We owned land on both creeks. My dad (and every other rancher who owned a chunk of either creek) had several "flowing wells" at the edges of both swamps. Those artesian wells were simply pipes set in the ground fifteen or twenty feet, or less. Usually, the pipe was inside a cattle tank that collected the water that poured out year round.

To cross either Skull Creek or Bloody Creek and its associated swamp, you needed a built-up roadbed and a bridge. Otherwise you'd sink in deep mud well before you even reached the creek.

You had to be careful when you were cutting hay along the edge of the swamp. If the tractor wheels started dripping with water and the ground began to quiver, you were in dire danger of getting stuck. I've seen a tractor buried nearly to its belly in mud because someone ignored the warning signs. Spinning the wheels only made them sink farther. The only way to remove a stuck tractor like that is to winch it out from solid ground.

Creeks in our part of Kentucky have rocky, gravelly streambeds. Sometimes they even have a bed of solid rock. If the water's not deep and the road leads to the water's edge, you can drive right across them. Amazing!

Gray Rag Rug -- Completed!

Crocheted rag rug in grays and black
Crocheted rag rug in grays and black
I'm done with the gray rag rug. It's not a perfect rug, but it is a finished rug. As my daughter sometimes reminds me, "Perfection is the enemy of completion." Or, to say it in a longer way, finished with imperfections is better than never finished because it isn't perfect..

This rag rug is 23" x 40", crocheted in single stitch with a size N hook and 2-1/2" strips. The fabrics are cottons and cotton blends, mostly recycled bed sheets that I've collected at thrift stores.

I am glad to be done with this one because the oval shape gave me trouble. I try to make an oval rug every now and then so I can get better at it, but round rugs are so much easier for me.

Now I can move on to my next big project which is a set of three new kitchen rugs for my daughter who will be moving soon.

About the making of this rug:
Gray Rag Rug in Progress

Monday, October 9, 2017

Gray Rag Rug in Progress

Here's the rag rug I'm working on currently.  I am fairly happy with the shape of it. Sometimes I struggle to keep the two ends of an oval rug similar in shape, but this one is acceptable.

I am crocheting this rug with a size N hook and 2-1/2" strips of fabric (recycled cotton and cotton-blend sheets that I've collected from thrift shops, yard sales, etc.)

I hesitate to put very light colors into a rug, because they will show dirt. At least, they certainly would at my house.  However, I have some light gray-patterned fabrics that I want to use up. So I tried putting in just a few strips of them mixed with some other grays. I hoped it would look sort of random but highlight the oval shape.

The inner band of light grays is OK, but I don't like the outer band. Specifically, I don't like one of the shades of gray I combined with the light gray, and I don't like how some of the colors lined up.

When I began typing this post, I was already planning to rip out a row of the dark gray and redo a spot that I didn't like. Now I've decided that I will also take out and redo the outer band with the light gray. I'm thinking that I will just fix everything I don't like while I'm at it.  I'll be ripping out about 3-1/2 rows.

This is not an untypical process for me. I rarely give birth to a rug without some labor pains. I'll update this post with an "after" photo when I finish the rug -- hopefully later this week.

Here are a few other rugs I've made:

Update 10/14/17:  Here's the finished rug!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Shining Vs. Shading

Yellow and orange flowers
A perfect sphere of bright flowers
This cheery little mound of orange flowers grows in front of the Goodwill store in Murray, Kentucky. The flowers and their location remind me of the song, "Brighten the Corner Where You Are."

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar;
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are...
                                   --  Ina D. Ogdon, published 1913

Our little plant here pours itself into its lifework of producing bright flowers, without any concern about better places where it could be planted.  Of course, we shouldn't be as mindlessly docile as a plant when we find ourselves stuck in a bad spot. But we can and should bloom where we are, even while we're striving for transplant.  Life is too short to wait.

I think this is somewhat related. A man named John Suggs said this on Facebook the other day, in response to the horrific Las Vegas shooting:

Before you start talking about race, politics and other nonsense during this tragedy, take a look at this floor [ referring to a photo of a blood-stained hospital hallway.] Can you spot the republican blood? Can you spot the blood of democrats? What about the black and white blood? Mexican blood? The blood of officers and other first responders? I didn't think you could. We all bleed the same. We all are human. We can't afford to only unite in tragedy. STOP WITH ALL THIS UNEDUCATED, HATE FILLED, FINGER POINTING BS AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO SHINE INSTEAD OF CASTING SHADOWS!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Corn Harvest by Hand

Farmer husking corn ears beside a large shock of corn stalks
"Such a great pile of fine big ears of
corn shows that this farmer selected
his seed for planting with great care."
-- from Geography for Beginners,
Rand McNally and Company, 1923.

The corn harvest is underway in Christian County. I noticed yesterday that one lane of the highway was heavily speckled with yellow corn kernels at an intersection. I suppose the corn spilled out of an overloaded truck as it swung around the corner. The farmer in this photo would have swept up every kernel if that had been his precious, hand-harvested crop lying on the road.

Before mechanized corn pickers, farmers removed the corn from the corn stalks by hand. There were a couple of methods. At harvest time, the farmer could walk the rows of corn, pull off the ears, husk them, and toss them into a wagon. Corn harvested in this way was stored in well-ventilated bins ("corn cribs") to allow it to finish drying. Or, the farmer could cut down the cornstalks, gather them into shocks, and at a later date, pull the dried ears off the stocks and husk them. The farmer in the photo is following Plan B.

This photo came from a book that was copyrighted in 1923. By then, most farmers would have owned or been able to hire a binder -- a machine that cut the cornstalks and bound them into sheaves (small bundles.) Then the farmer gathered the sheaves of cornstalks and stood them together in shocks (larger bundles.) After some additional weeks of drying in the shocks, the ears of corn were then safe to bring to a barn or granary for storage.

The hard labor of planting, tending, and harvesting a crop was well understood in 1874 when Knowles Shaw wrote the Gospel harvest song, "Bringing in the Sheaves." He based it on Psalm 126:6: "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Little River's South Fork

Little River's South Fork
Little River, South Fork, east of Hopkinsville, KY
This photo of the South Fork of Little River was taken from the bridge on Little River Church Road in eastern Christian County, Kentucky, during the summer of 2013. The South Fork looks quiet and docile here, but whenever we get a period of heavy rain, it overflows its banks and spills into the nearby fields, covering the bridge and the roads that approach it. Not uncommonly, the flood waters menace the Little River Church of Christ, a quarter-mile or so from the bridge.

The photo below was taken in 2016, when the flooded South Fork was exhibiting typical behavior from the dark side of its personality. Little River Church Road, the blacktop seen in the photo, was closed, and the bridge was probably under water.

South Fork of Little River out of its banks
The flooded South Fork seen from Highway 68/80

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hayes Road, 2006

Narrow gravel road in Christian County, KY
A gravel road in Christian County, KY
This isn't a great photo, but it's the best I'll ever get of this scene. This road has been paved since I took this picture on a gray day in 2006. Today, it's a blacktop road instead of a little gravel road.

This is Hayes Road in eastern Christian County. It meanders through the countryside between Pilot Rock Road and Butler Road, a few miles from the Christian/Todd county line. Some local people call it the "Holler" Road because it passes through the Honey Grove Hollow.

Hayes Road in Christian County, KY
Location of Hayes Road in Christian County, KY
from a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet map

Hayes Road was named for Mr. William Hayes who gave Christian County enough land to make the road along the edge of his property, years ago.  I suspect that a little road already existed, and the county took it over and improved it. I don't know exactly when Hayes Road became an official Christian County roadway, but I believe it was mid-century (1950s-60s) or earlier.

You might enjoy a 2006 blog post where this same Hayes Road photo appeared (cropped a little differently.)

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