Thursday, March 27, 2014

                   Love Your Library!

I had the pleasure of bringing the latest old barns show to the McHenry, Illinois Public Library last week. There was a very nice crowd of 50 or so with many conversations of old barns and related stories going on in the midst of it all.

As always, it was a great give-and-take conversation with people on the subject of our old barns, so many people have such an emotional attachment to them.  

58 people pre-registered for the old barns event and the Library said that's a really good,   above average number.

Any community is lucky to have a strong and vital library. 

McHenry, Illinois is no different and the programs their library brings to patrons are fulfilling on many levels,

Here's a link to them  McHenry Public Library

The library space has been crafted within an old warehouse in recent years. It is very much up and running, looks fantastic and is a very active, comfortable and happening space and place.

The Presentation
It was a nice group with one farm couple in the mix who does beef. That camera on my shoulder is over 30 years old and is part of the story.

                   And the newer digital camera below is also a big part of the story

In the camera world we're switching from recording on tape to recording on digital media like the Panasonic P2 card I'm showing to the crowd below --- no moving parts -- it's amazing -- and it's also 400 bucks!

It was a really nice evening with the McHenry Public Library patrons and I look forward to bringing more old barns shows to them.

 Good news on distributing the latest 'American Barn Stories' show. After the past twelve months of 'bicycling' the Master of the show to PBS stations around the country one at a time, (and doing pretty well at it with 45 markets gained), the program is about to be up-linked to satellite through New Mexico PBS which will make it available to all PBS stations around the country through their Westlink uplink service. 

In the PBS world that feed happens on Wednesday, April 9 from 1230-1300 ET on channel HD04.

Here's a link to New Mexico PBS  New Mexico PBS  

And here's a link to their uplink service if you want to explore it  Westlink  

More Otherwise 
Talked with Art the Farmer tonight and he sounds OK/good -- will update the details later. 

The best part is he's planning for this coming warm season, and has plans for next Winter to prevent frozen pipes again etc. -- he really is amazing and buoyant in the face of it all.

He has a degree from Penn State in 1957 in Ag Science and is a very intelligent person and fun to talk to on all levels.

And the Joe Paterno stuff will bug him forever. "Aw, Tom, they killed him with it...and it wasn't his fault".
All I know is, as it stands right now, I get to go bale more hay with him this Summer '14, and I love it and will bring it to you.

And in  the meantime I'm telling him people want to see him living his life and he's not only into the production of it all, he's excellent at helping it all get down the road.

What fun -- more later on it from the true Heartland.

In the meantime, many other good things percolating on it all -- stay tuned, and like always, thanks for clicking in!

         Please visit the website just for the heck of it at

Monday, March 17, 2014

                   Ice Boats ...what?!?

Ice boats were the fastest thing on the face of the planet back in the late 1800's. Here's some footage from yesterday and earlier seasons shot on Geneva Lake, Wisconsin as the ice boats come and go amidst the overall celebration of being out in the Winter weather on a beautiful frozen Wisconsin lake.

Here's the Youtube link to a few minutes of action  Ice Boats!

But where are the barns?
The connection to our old barns are the many that still stand and surround this Geneva Lake area from their glory days, with the twin barns of Edward Ayers below being a great example of such.

He built one barn  for each of his twin daughters back around 1900 in the days when the prominent wealthy used their farms to gain bragging rights and show off their wealth. 

He had made millions selling railroad ties to the railroads as that network developed and pushed West.

Those days are long gone now but a few of the old 'prairie schooners' remain from back then.

Their metal roofs have kept them standing so far, but their days are numbered as the years continue to take their toll.

They are located on County Highway B just east of Walworth, Wisconsin in the southeastern part of the state near Milwaukee.

More later and a Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

             This machine is fabulous!

Metal fabricators make more things happen for us than many people realize. Any big heavy piece of anything has to come from somewhere. Here's a look at one of the places where those things come from, and it's very cool -- and very large.

The Story
Some recent video production/shooting needs brought me to Trade Tech Inc. in Hartford, Wisconsin. They are machining and metal fabricators with a strong history in that business and industry. Here's the link to their website  Trade Tech take a look at their 33,000 square foot facility. Everything is on such a large scale that it is really something to experience. They're really nice people, too, and were very helpful throughout the shooting day.

The mission that day was to acquire video footage of a machine they had just completed building for my client,  Die-Sep, Inc. They have a very handy and heavy duty machine that breaks plastic injection molding dies apart after they're done with a job. It's a very labor intensive and costly process to do it manually so Die-Sep partners, and brothers, Lou and Mike Bowler have their mechanical way of doing it and are doing very well in the marketplace with their product line.  

 When the video footage is edited and a final piece is ready I'll put it up, but in the meantime these still pics from last week will help tell the quick story. It's really interesting to watch the machine do its thing. In the above pic Louie Bowler, the sales force of the operation, stands with one of the models at the end of the shooting day.

How it works 
 Here's a die being brought in to help demonstrate the Die-Sep machine for the camera. This hunk of metal weighs 14,000 pounds and consists of two halves.  The seam line is in the middle, where you  see  that small yellow strap with a bolt on each end. Just above the yellow strap you can see a small space -- this is where a pry bar is inserted to do the job manually, and it is not a small feat. Companies will load the dies on flatbed trucks and ship them many miles, and spend many dollars, to have the job done.
The way it works with the Die-Sep machine is the die is placed in the machine

and the platen from the left side pushes it tight up against the end plate to the right.

Then the electro magnets are switched on to hold the two halves in place from each end,   
and the hydraulics are used to break/pull the two halves apart.

The next step is for the right end of the Die-Sep machine to tilt its half of the die up horizontally so they can clean and maintain it after it's been used in a production run, and that horizontal ability makes Louie and Mike's Die-Sep machine very special.


With the job done the die halves are pressed back together

and the die, costing  around $150,000, 

 is shipped back into safe storage until it is needed again.

                                       Stay tuned for the video!

 Art the Farmer is hanging in there and sounds pretty strong and more good than bad lately. His challenges aren't over but the tide is hopefully turning for him -- every warmer day helps him, as with all of us. His kitchen sink is still froze up but that will hopefully be resolved sometime soon -- and here's to hoping the frozen pipes aren't ruptured from the freeze.

More Otherwise
And work is beginning on the edit for the next American Barn Stories program. More on that as it unfolds as well as updates on current distribution of the last episode -- good things happening. And other good things are percolating in the edit suite as  well.

Ahhh, Spring -- get here!

More Later 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

           Old Barns Show On The Road

  The Story
 One of the many fun things that have spun out of producing the American Barn Stories programs is the opportunity to do presentations of the shows to groups. Last Friday 2/28/14 I was at the Del Webb Sun City Community in Huntley, Illinois for a 10am presentation and it was really very nice -- it's a beautiful community.

 They asked me to show the second program, which includes an Illinois old barn story about a Lake County couple who raises Alpacas in the barn they saved for re-use.

The presentation is always a hit and a lot of fun for everyone, and it continues to be amazing for me to see how many people have such a passionate place in their hearts and souls for our old barns. 

A lot of old barn related stories come out of the give-and-take conversation with the audience and people really appreciate the chance to gather and talk about the subject.

After greeting the crowd for a bit I demonstrate the cameras used to shoot the footage for the shows.

Then we watch the show,  which runs 26:46, and I come back up afterwards and get the old barns conversation started, and it's always a very animated and lively discussion.
The time goes quickly and as we are wrapping up and people are putting on their coats,   there's always a few who come up to tell their own old barn stories and talk a bit, and 
it's really great.

 By the end we have gathered to talk about our old barns and re-live moments and memories that seem so much sweeter than our times are now and it is a very good thing. 
And then everyone goes back out into our current World, warmed by the look back at where we're all from, and feeling refreshed by it.

It's a great presentation and if you want more information on it for your own group go to the website at  American Barn Stories  and click on 'The Presentation' tab. Or, just click HERE to go directly to it.

Past the time that food stores started taking hold in the 1920's and 1930's, our original farms and barns were supplying people with foods right from the farm, and some still do.

And that's what so many people still remember and long for, as well as the added new energy of younger people who want the same.

But now, we have to fight for the right to buy milk right from the cow, directly from the dairy farmer of our choice; and that's added to the other governmental encroachments into our personal human food supply.

That just ain't right.

As humans borne upon this planet we have the right to eat and drink the foods we want and no government has the right to interfere with that.

Check out this recent seeming victory for a Michigan hog farmer after two years of heavy handed treatment from the Michigan DNR. The details of the Michigan DNR handling of the case are absolutely amazing and very disconcerting that a government agency would behave in such a manner:   Baker's Acres farm story

But wait, it's not over!

Witness the bizarre behavior of Michigan Assistant Attorney General Harold Martin as the case continues. Here's a Youtube link of him confronting farmer Baker and the crowd in court just before the next proceeding is about to start and it is bizarre, nasty, uncalled for and very unprofessional: Bakers Acres More

Little by little the bureaucrats are finding out that we can now easily find out what they're up to. They don't choose transparency, it is forced upon them as the people now have the power to track what they're doing and put it out there -- and they don't like it.

But we sure do.

In another case, with the farmer winning, take a look at a Wisconsin raw milk case from not long ago where the jury sided with us, the people: Amish Farmer Wins In Court!

There are more stories out there, and a best bet is to stay in touch with David Gumpert's site on it all at The Complete Patient

Here is the Mission statement from his website:
"This site's mission is to provide news and analysis about food rights and raw milk. Increasingly, our access to privately available food is under attack by government and industry forces that seek to impose their choices on us. The Complete Patient seeks to provide up-to-date information and encourage the development of community to maintain traditional food acquisition options."

David is a very good writer and immerses himself in the activities of all things food rights and brings the stories back to us. He's a very good point person and source of information on who is doing what in that arena.

Sum up
In the meantime, those of us interested in preserving our human food rights have the duty to make our voices heard -- this is not a small deal. 

Support the local farms in your area that are trying hard to survive and feed us and know that we are in a battle to wrest our most basic human food rights back from the government we elected. They just plain seem to have it out for our small family farmers for malevolent, hard to understand  reasons.

Wow -- what a World.

More later