Friday, June 20, 2014

                Where have you been?

The Quick Story
 Actually, no none has asked me that. But in the meantime it's a good question and here's the simple answer in case you were one of the handful enjoying(?) my initial flurry of some 42 blog posts a while back that paused for a bit until now.

The simple answer is I just got busy with the other necessary tracks in life that take time and as a result the blog took a bit of a stand-down in the face of it all.

But along that way I've built up a few things to pass along in the coming bits of time that could be worth your time, including an in-edit piece on light pollution as well as the most recent news of a new Indiegogo campaign to try and generate some help and finishing funds for the next "American Barn Stories" program that I'm working on.

Here's the link to that campaign, please feel free to Share it and pass it along within your own network:

Along with the pitch for participation and help it features still pics from footage of an old fashioned barn raising with horses, footage of a barn quilt story from the Heartland and much more, including video of a fast-motion nighttime sequence of an old barn being moved in West DesMoines, Iowa after the high school kids pitched a fit about it being torn down to enlarge the athletic field at the school. 

Stay tuned for the details on the fundraising campaign as they play out over the coming 30 days and any help Sharing the link appreciated.

Along the way I've come across some great blogs that are worth passing along, including  one that profiles life on a Wisconsin dairy farm from the wife's perspective who was not a dairy farmer until marrying into the farm family and industry. 

She has embraced reaching out on behalf of farmers everywhere to help people understand what dairy farming is all about. She is currently very popular on the national speaking circuit on things related and you can find her blog here:  The Adventures of Dairy Carrie...I think I Need a Drink!

Another one is from an older farmer gentleman author-writer in Ohio who offers life- educated and country life opinions and thoughts. It is nothing other than absolutely pleasant, pleasing and kind in the face of him gently calling it like it is from years of life experience on the land.

His name is Gene Logsdon and you can find his missives here: The Contrary Farmer

Stay tuned

More coming later on it all -- thanks for clicking in -- sorry for the absence, it feels good to be tapping this one out. 

And please pass the Indiegogo link along -- here it is again:

Yep, all good,


Friday, April 18, 2014

            A great 'farm-to-park' story

The Set-up
Being involved in the subject of our old barns for so long now it's heartening to see the too-rare stories from across the country about some of them being saved and protected for future generations. A good source to keep up on all of that is through the National Barn Alliance website.

The picture above shows me and camera in front of a barn that boasts horizontal cedar siding, (not sure why but I'll find out), which was re-built in 1936 following a fire. 

While there is an increasing energy, awareness and motivation by American people and communities to try and save ag structures and places that reach back to our early farming days, it's just such a shame that so many are being lost along the way, with their old barn stories and the stories of the family lives revolving around them disappearing as well.

As a population we're not farmers anymore, we're consumers. And the farmers feeding us, thank you very much, are about 2% of our population base.

I saw a bumper sticker once that said, "Don't talk about farmers with your mouth full".

 The Story
Fortunately, there are some success stories to tell and they should be considered as gold nuggets along the way. 

Just such a story comes from Walworth County in southeastern Wisconsin not far from Milwaukee and Chicago where said County recently bought a farm of 179 acres or so to preserve as parkland. The aging owner wanted to make sure it was preserved so people could enjoy it forever.

That is very cool. And that is the barn I'm standing in front of above.

And do you want to know what the really amazing kicker is?

A river runs through it.

Oh yeah, gold.

Check out the bee hive at the top of the frame.

And the best part, for me anyway, is the fact that I get the pleasure of producing an outreach/profile video about it all for Walworth County, Wisconsin -- exxxcellent.

Here's a roadside pic of the barn as members of the Walworth County DPW went about working on the new parking lot this week -- lots of activity there right now.

And another shot, looking south, from a high spot in a field across the road which is also part of the farm. Gotta get them shots now -- planting starts soon. The river is down in the low spot on the other side of the barn, with amazing acres of woods on the other side
of it to the south.

The river behind the barn.

As Spring struggles to start, the production of the video begins and I'll keep you posted on that -- it's a heck of a story and the almost 200 acre parcel is stunning on so many levels. It's going to be a lot of fun to get this piece produced for them. I've rigged my old three-wheeler ATV (1985 Yamaha 200 shaft-drive with reverse) to carry tripod and camera so I can efficiently get around the property and five mile trail system that the owner of the past 50 years has developed.

He's quite a story, too, being a good Irishman who spent his life breeding high end race horses with countless trophies to show for it -- stay tuned for that.  

Back before Christmas I spent a lot of time creating an e-store on Spreadshirt, one of the print on demand T-shirt and clothing product sites. It's based on the American Barn Stories theme. I haven't done a great job of promoting it and haven't sold a danged thing as a result. If anyone wants to visit it, find it at Spreadshirt Shop  As of today I've had a whopping 301 visitors and no sales. Glad it doesn't cost anything to keep it out there.

I researched the whole idea before I jumped in and really didn't expect too much to come from it but wanted to take a shot and that's where it's at right now. It takes so much time to stay involved with it and stay current. Other names in that POD biz are Cafepress and Zazzle

The DVDs on the old barns shows on Amazon have been pretty idle, too. Here's a link to them through the website that connects to Amazon  Old barn DVDs on Amazon  Notice the discount when you buy all three! 

More otherwise

 I just love this pic of Art the Farmer haying with farmer neighbor Billy helping out. I'm looking forward to the days up on Art's farm this season and hope they won't be the last. This brutal Winter took its toll on him and while his tone coming out of the cold months is always down, this year it is especially dour -- will keep you all posted on him.
Alright then, that's about it for the news from this end -- all good -- more later, stay tuned and like always, thanks for clicking in!


Monday, April 7, 2014


The Story
A while back I mentioned something I'd heard about how land developers are now wanting to save old barns that would then be included as part of their new communities. 

Turns out, that's what people want, and the developers are listening. It affects their bottom line so it definitely has their attention.

In some cases the old structures are being saved and in others new communities are being created from scratch that revolve around the community's  desire to produce their own foods on their local level.

Here's a pic  showing one such place in Gilbert, Arizona, not far from Phoenix. It's from an article on the subject of Agrihoods in the New York Times, the link follows below.

                                              Wow, how cool is that?
Click here for the story =>  New York Times article

This is an amazing thing to have happen and I really believe it will sweep across our country as more people say enough already with industrialized agriculture and work to reestablish more modest systems that will work on a local scale.

Of course we have to have industrialized ag, I realize that, but for those who have the option, bringing it all back 'in-house' is a very attractive idea and it will be a lot of fun to watch it all develop. 

We, not unlike a Bachian fugue, are returning to where we began. We are going back to our roots of tending to our own food sources.

Oh, it won't be pretty as the industrial giants fight us every step of the way, but the wave of people reclaiming their food rights is here and now and growing exponentially.

Check out the link below to author David Gumpert's website where he focuses on the efforts of organized government and industry to rob us of our food sovereignty. What's happening around the country is dastardly and absolutely amazing and he is paying close attention to it all. You can find that here => We are born with food rights

His website provides tons of information on things happening around the country, with the farmers and people usually winning in court and yes, the court battles are many and pretty amazing when you pry back the veneer of it all and take a look behind the scenes. 

It seems bizarre that we can't buy a gallon of milk straight from the farm without fear of government reprisals. Some of the stories are shocking, so please do check out David's site.

Art the Farmer

Arthur has made it through this brutal Wisconsin Winter but the struggle for him ran deep. He has already planned around the potential of frozen pipes next Winter by replacing the pipes damaged this year with a product called PEX piping. It's polyethylene and can evidently freeze but not break -- it just expands until it thaws. And to help further avoid freezing, he's going to run the new PEX lines inside a PVC pipe with access at one end so as to be able to use a blow dryer etc. to thaw the pipes when necessary.

He's planning for the coming year so that's a good thing to hear. I told him I want to go back to the Heart Prairie Church with him for Christmas services again this year and he said that was a good idea, so that's a good sign.

 And there's still plenty of hay up in the mow to keep everyone in the barn happy until turnout. The target date for that is always around Mother's Day, which is Sunday, May 11 this year.

Some free press

Everyone likes a little free press now and then and I managed to work some out with the  quarterly magazine from my alma mater, University of Dayton. I sent a note about the old barns shows etc. to the Alumni Section and then we talked, and they responded with a 400 word story on it all. It was a really nice experience working with their Managing Editor, Audrey Starr, and their layout and overall piece looks great, here's a scan of the actual page. The layout through the link below is necessarily different.
Checkout the article here =>   Dayton article

That pretty much gets everyone caught up on things. More later as we move into the new season.  Stay tuned and thanks for clicking in!


PS -- And I'm just glad there will be more haying with Art the Farmer this year. I'm not ready for that to stop quite yet. 




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