Saturday, October 6, 2007

Summer in October

The weather's been unusually warm and summer-like here in south-central Wisconsin. The last few days -- and the next few too -- feel more like summer than October. The "normal" high and low are around 60F and 40F; today is going to be well into the 80's. Of course, we all know the bottom will drop out any day and it'll be instant winter before long. With some luck we should be heading south before that happens.

It isn't all romance and adventure... this living in a motorhome thing. On a "per square foot" basis, there's more maintenance and upkeep than our previous "normal" home. Most people don't wash the exterior of their home more than every few years, if at all. But the bus has to be washed every month or two or it really starts to look like hell -- not unlike a car. Waxing the exterior makes it easier to clean but that's a big project itself. What we've been doing is waxing an additional chunk after most wash jobs. It helped that this time Mom and Dad Hoch came out and did some of the waxing.

Cleaning the interior can be easier with a method I pioneered for my garage a few years ago... using a leaf-blower. It's a beautiful thing. Just start at a point furthest from the main door, working the blower in a side-to-side and top-to-bottom fashion, and all the dirt and clutter is liberated to the outdoors -- back to where it came from. Ok, while I haven't actually used a leaf-blower to clean the camper yet, I have been mentally refining the system so I'm ready when Dar drops her steadfast resistance to this innovation.

In farm country, October is harvest time. Yesterday, the soybean field next to where we're parked was being harvested by a neighbor, Dan White, with a big International combine. These amazing machines can chew-up a bean field at the rate of 10 or 15 acres per hour. Dan saw me taking pictures of the process and asked me along for a lap around the field. Due to the warm weather and lack of a killing frost, the soybean stalks are still green but the bean pods are dry and ready to harvest. The green stalks made the combine groan and it was necessary to move slower than normal, but the crop looked good.

Something that happens as you age is your increased awareness of change. When I was a kid, we didn't have cranes around here... I'm talking about the big bird known as a crane. I'm sure their numbers have been increasing recently, but I didn't realize to what extent they're now part of our environment. Every morning here at the Soldner Farm we wake to the sounds of Sandhill Cranes -- a loud call that's unmistakable and can't be ignored. The Sandhill Crane has the longest fossil history of any bird around today with a 10 million year old specimen having been found whose structure is identical to the modern Sandhill. They're very skittish and it's hard to get close, but we were able to get a few pictures with a 300mm telephoto lens. They stand about 3 ft. high and have a wingspan of more than 5 ft.

Here's a bunch taking off...

... and in full flight. They are a sight to see.

So that's the post for today, disjointed as it is.