Sunday, January 24, 2010

...Had a Great Fall.

In preparation for a Halloween party some six years ago I fell from the rafters of a pole barn.

I was using my throwline from my climbing gear and it snagged on a gusset plate. I was just like I always am, and said; "heck I can just climb up there and hang the witch, free the line and then shimmy down, no problem".

Rafter climbing is a pain in the ass. Its all narrow and cramped and the gusset plates are sharp edged and right where you want to put your hands or feet.

I climbed up the big truck that was parked inside on the sand ring for a stage. I made it no problem to the snagged line. I had used the heavier throwbag and it was hung up tight in the bight right where the metal plate meets the wood of the rafter.

I got the line out and then used it to raise the witch, then I looked back at the trip through the rafters I had to make to get down.

The long, dusty, tight, and ever tightening, fight back to the truck over by the eve of the building looked like a hassle. I could, instead of walking in the rafters, just arm over arm it, hanging from the rafters some twenty feet up. I would monkey over to the truck.

Well, it had been a long dusty day at the farm there just outside Savage Minnesota, and I hadn't timed my swings right to meet the first(sharp)gusset plate that I had to pass and I stopped.

I thought I could just do the hang, drop and roll but the guys didn't like that idea so Bubba went to to get the tall ladder.

My hands were slick from the long dusty day and my fingertips on the dusty two-by-four were just not up to holding long enough.

I came down as the ladder was being set up. I tried to land on two of the top steps.

It would have been real cool. The ladder would stomp down on its feet as I stomped down on the top steps. The dust would just be settling as I come stepping down from above, triumphant.

Well,the timing of things didn't quite work out so well and I kinda missed a step.

I didn't get the benefit of the drop and roll. What I did get was a pitch sideways from the teetering ladder.

I fell about eighteen feet and landed hard on my left side. My left wrist hurt like the dickens and my left leg was flopping around like it never really did before.

And just like after my drowning some twenty years earlier, my first response was to try to get up. Steve said he didn't think that was a good idea.

So I stayed there on my back with my left arm across my chest.

Colin, my brother called the ambulance, and Steve helped by putting my left leg up to my right and duct taping the two together.

I had smashed the left wrist totally and the left pelvis had snapped at the socket.

After a long month in the hospital I was allowed to leave. I was weak, sore, had a no weight restriction on the leg, and the wrist was in a cast.

Both were full of screws and wire.
I was driving a walker in winter. I first roomed with Drew in Rockford then Buck and Cathy in Avon.

My nephew Johnny gave me the nickname "Jabberwalky", I suppose you could understand why. Cathy and John helped get me moving and I threw away the pain pills, even though the pain was hot and constant.

Now its just constant, and only periodically hot; usually after a long days work.

After about five months I was told to go ahead and put weight on the pelvis.

I know lots of people have gone through a lot worse, heck Kip broke his neck and was in a "halo" and full body brace, and Eric; well we almost lost him in the same accident that broke kips neck.

However, I had a lot of hard, painful work ahead of me. I still do. I need to work the leg more, that's one of the reasons I do the work I do.

After wintering in Avon, I hobbled over to Sartell and Dad's house right across the street from the high school I graduated from.

What a long circle I had taken, but here I was again. Weak, sore, crippled, and dejected. I was not happy.

Nobody wants to live in the basement of their folks house as an adult.

I was not really ready, but I had to move out. I just had to.

I had no money, and very few options.

I am many things, one of which is a qualified U.S. Submarine Sailor. I went to submarine school in Groton Connecticut, Sonar training in San Diego and sailed the Atlantic and Mediterranean on two submarines out of Charleston S.C. and Norfolk VA.

To be a submarine sailor is to be a space man, and the (constant)training reflects that fact.

So I went back to my training. I assessed my situation, inventoried my resources, identified a goal, created a plan and put it in to action.

Submariners do not whine. We also are prone to very hard language with short factual phrases that often upset people, but we do not care much about feelings.

I have been trying to work on improving that, although I am starting to think there is no advantage to changing.

Recently someone said I, "sounded like a woman".

When I stop and assess my situation, with all the inconveniences I put up with and the whiners I listen to; well, lets just say that no one will think this man sounds like a woman again.

The way I left the basement in Sartell was to ask someone I know in the horse business if there was a barn looking for help, but it had to have room for me to move into.

She did, and so I did.

It was probably way to early for me to take on the job.
Afternoon chores and weekend morning chores at a barn in Forest Lake. Horse stable work; hay out, lead horses out, clean the barn, bed the stalls, clean water buckets, and sweep and such.

What should have taken two hours was taking me three and it hurt like hell. But I did it.

Things have changed since then, but it has been a hard painful struggle, not just to get on my feet. I am now back to working horse and tree. I even climb now and again.

I remember passing a fellow early in my recovery as I "walkered" my way into therapy one winter day. He said it gets better, just you have to keep working, but it does get better.

I have always had little patience for lazy people. Especially when they expect things from others, things they could get or do for themselves.

I do not mind helping people as long as they help themselves.

But as soon as they start whining or bitching about a little pain, some discomfort, and slight inconvenience that is usually way smaller than any I have, or am now dealing with, I quickly loose interest in helping or being polite.

Grow up people.
I tire of being diplomatic to protect inflated egos and fragile emotions.
I am trying to get things done, productive things, and I no longer have time to be delicate.

So, all of you in Minnesota are on notice.

I am returning to my normal, rough, gruff, tree climbing, submarine sonar, stablehand way of straight line, no muss, no fuss, bald face, fact based, communicating.

It may be hard on you, but it's much easier on me; and as far as I am concerned, that's what really matters.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

We live in a Republic. (if we can keep it)

We live in a Republic.
With a Federal Government of few and enumerated powers vested to it by the people. [Not the other way around]

States have other more broad powers [and individual Americans even more]. That is, if we think the U.S. Constitution actually is to be taken seriously.

You do understand that the House of Representatives is based on Population and the Senate on a 2 per State ratio for a reason. (Read the Federalist Papers) This is to prevent high population States from walking all over the low population States. I think that is as "fair" as you could hope. Why have two bodies based on population like here in MN. You might as well just go one body, like Nebraska.

We don't think you need to be an American Citizen to vote. We don't think property is managed properly unless owned by the State; private property is run by greed you say.

We think "Health Care", and lots of other things, should be managed and provided by the Federal Government. (As if it could!)

We think the Feds should tax and subsidies things to influence individual peoples behavior. {Raise gas tax to discourage driving for example}

We do not believe in the "Blessings of Liberty"; that our standard of living is one of those blessings. No, we think the blessings come from some government agency and their forms we can fill out with the appropriate fees.

D.C. was carved out to prevent the gov. workers undue influence in Congress. But we don't like that, we don't like the electoral college, we don't like the idea of States running themselves, and certainly not individual people....basically we want to change everything about the United States.

We don't like freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion, security in our papers and property...basically we don't like freedom.

Actually we FEAR freedom. The ignorant just think it is "freedom to fail" or some such nonsense.

And then we wonder why everything changed, why we are all poorer and have less independence and influence over our own lives.

And then we look to the Government to provide a "solution".

Land of the Free? Home of the Brave?
Ya, right.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Minnesota Stable Owners Association

I’ve always loved working outdoors and being a stable hand in Minnesota is a job suited to independent, industrious individuals like me.

You have to show up most every day, and early in the morning at that, but you get to see the days arrive and the seasons change.

It can be a hard job with constant demands on mind and body. You will be putting feed out in the morning, snow or rain. The animals have to be led to paddocks, tractors have to be warmed and maintained, fencing and stalls need to be mended and hay fields have to be worked.

As in all agricultural endeavors, the boarding of equine livestock is very much attuned to the seasons.

Spring brings greening pastures and hay fields, and the hassles of dealing with new foals. Oh sure they’re cute and everything; unless your the guy who’s got to lead mom and the youngster out to paddock. Or that new yearling alone for that matter, she’s all legs and coiled like a spring, gamboling to the pen. You better know what you are doing or you will get schooled.

But you get to see the song birds returning, every day a new arrival shows with the morning sun when you’re putting out the hay.

Barns are mended and fence lines repaired after the long winter. Maybe a new door is installed on the hay barn or the tack room is insulated for next year…

Many projects are started, all while the daily routine continues. Feed the horses, and then out to the pastures they go, clean the stalls, spread the manure on the field, add bedding to the stalls, bring down enough hay bales and prepare for the evening feed.

Order of operations and timing is important and needs to be considered at all times. You might as will not sweep the aisle until the bedding is in, or you can sweep twice, it’s your choice.

Summer is hot and hay is harvested. After working in the field bailing it, you get to put it up in the loft, heated from the mid day sun. Or, if you can park the hay wagons somewhere they won’t get wet, we can put it up tomorrow before morning chores, when it’s cooler, if you are willing to come in an hour early.

Fencing posts and boards are bought and installed, then painted. I have painted many length of white, two, three and four board fence line. Electrical fencing is put up or repaired and the water tanks fixed, or replaced and kept filled.

The sun is shinning and you should be making hay. Bailing hay is a hot, dusty, miserable job, unless everything goes just right, which it never does. Trucks break down, tires go flat, bales get stuck, and rain falls when you wish it didn’t….Then you have to get it back to the barn and up into the loft or in the hay shed.

Autumn is crisp and sometimes wet and windy. The horses are goofy with the autumn winds. Something is on the air, signals in the scents. They are all eyes and ears and sometimes a prancing and snorting.

Hopefully you have gotten in a third cutting of hay before the hard cold of November hits. It is time to button up the barn, shut the windows and staple some plastic over them and any unused doors on the old barn.

Park, lube and stow the summer equipment for the winter, it’s just around the corner. I like to walk the ground and give a shot of WD-40 to every hinge, bolt or snap-hook to prevent freezing in the winter. Very little is more frustrating than a frozen snaphook on a leadline with a hungry horse on the other end wanting release to get his morning hay.

Winter is the big test. Do you have enough hay and grain supplied? Is your water system up to the chilling challenge? Are you?

In and out with the horses in the winter is a bother. You must keep the doors and gates clear of snow and ice. On the brilliant white days with the bright sun you may have to stop at the door to adjust their eyes. Minnesota winters, with windy, cold hard days, test the metal, but are good for horse constitution, if you ask me.

Breaking frozen water buckets is time consuming and finger numbing, and must be done correctly or you will certainly be breaking buckets at about twenty dollars a pop.

Everything takes longer in the winter, and if you wear glasses they will fog up every time you come in from the cold. I just put mine on the shelf until all the livestock that is going outside is outside, then I can bring in the tractor and manure spreader, shut out the cold and get to cleaning stalls.

Year in and year out, as has been done for countless generations before me; I, along with many other Minnesota stablehands, continue the traditions created and maintained only by the hand on, day-to-day chores of a horse stable.

We do the same things that have been done since the harness was first put on the horse some six thousand years ago.

I have worked as a stable hand at many horse barns throughout Minnesota.
I hope that I can look forward to a fruitful future of gainful employment in my home state of Minnesota, as well as an opportunity to continue this legacy and train the next generation of Minnesota stable hands.

Although I am not a Stable Owner, I am glad to join the Minnesota Stable Owners Association as an associate. You can join too if you go to the link, here.

I have great expectations for our future good works on behalf of the horse livestock business specifically and Minnesota’s agricultural heritage in general.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January 2010.

Christmas was white and the new year has arrived bright and cold. It is now half way into the first month of 2010.

I have been busy. Working daily at "HH" stables. And making basic preparations for this years celebration of Freedom Day.

I have also joined a new organization. The Minnesota Stable Owners Association. It is a new 501 (c)6 Business League.

It is a non profit that can lobby but its receipts are not tax deductible to those making donations.

I don't own. Heck I'm just a stable hand, but they are the latest bunch organizing to fight the ever increasing tax burden.

In this case, it's a massive property tax, and other things, due to people not understanding the agricultural nature of horse management.

I can tell you it is not just another business. I work with livestock, tractors, feed, fences, bailing hay and all kinds of other things agricultural.

A horse stable is an agricultural operation no matter what some government entity would like to say in order to make some financial charts and graphs match up.

Legality and reality are often very different.