August 2012 Archives

No Blue Moon

My friend Iris and I were eager to take some photos of the blue harvest moon as it rose above the horizion tonight. But the moon was not visible at the appointed time. The sunset was nice, though!


And thanks to my friend Alex, I learned the proper definition of a Blue Moon:

The appearance of the third full moon in a season that has four full moons, instead of the usual three.

First Day of 3rd Grade


Backyard Harvest

This strip of land behind our house was planted with wheat this year. Tonight the farmer came with his combine to harvest it. I ran out there with my big camera like a dork trying to get a great harvest picture. I'm sure the farmer and his son in the cab were just thinking, "look at these silly city folk, never seen a combine before."


I suppose the folks who live on that side right next to the field didn't much appreciate either the noise or the dust. They were working well after sunset, probably until 10:30 or so.

Ride at the Old Wessels Farm

This weekend I got to do something that I've wanted to do for quite a while.

I'd heard my Dad reminisce a few times about how, as a kid, he enjoyed riding his horse around the family farm. One of his chores was to move the cows between pastures and to/from the barn for milking, feeding, as so on. A couple years ago, during a stay at a Grangeville hotel, I saw a sheet posted in or near the elevators advertising guided horseback trips in the Whitebird and Camas Prairie area. I took a picture of the poster with the idea to ask them if they might be able to do a trip for us in Greencreek.

A few months ago I finally got around to phoning up LocKey U Outfitters and pitching the idea of taking my Dad on a ride around his old farm. Also phoned up the family currently living there (relatives, of course) and they said it would be no problem. So we set a date for mid August.

We all met at the farm around 9:30. Our guides brought four horses for us, three for themselves, and their dog Morocco. By the time Karen and I arrived, the horses were saddled up and ready to go. Dad rode "Angel," Sue rode "Wildfire," I rode "Oreo," and Karen's horse has a name that's hard to remember.

Sue's Horse, Wildfire, warms up the crowd by taking a dump in the parking lot.
Roy and Sue are ready to ride.
We just followed the fenceline for most of the ride. The horses preferred going single-file.
Dad indicates where to go next.

We headed off through the pasture and down into the first little canyon. Then we took a shortcut up the slope back to the top and continued along the fence line to the back of the farm. Off to our left was an impressively steep canyon where we couldn't go.

The horses were really great. Very responsive to the bridle. But for the most part they just followed along, single-file, nose-to-tail. In some spots the ground was rocky or lose and there would be the occasional slip, adding some excitement. A few times Oreo trotted to catch up with the others.

All the while Dad explained about his time on the farm, hunting critters and moving cows between pastures. Back then, the cows were moved from one pasture to another every day. And of course the milk cows were taken to the barn for milking.

The back side of the farm contains a lot of tall brush. We flushed out a whole mess of deer -- probably 10 or 12 of them. They scattered in three different directions. Those that we could see well appeared to be mostly bucks. I thought bucks didn't normally hang out together much. Perhaps it was the "gentleman's club" of the deer world. I also heard our guides talk about turkeys, but I didn't happen to see them.

At one point a large number of deer (mostly bucks) fled the scene.
One of many group photos taken by our wonderful guides.
View looking back toward the farmhouse and barn, over one of the canyons.
Karen and Roy.

Eventually we found the current resident cows making the most of the scant shade provided by the foliage. Speaking of which, I'm not sure what it was, but a couple of times we had to pass through or under some branches with nice long thorns. A Hawthorn tree perhaps? Had some small, singular purplish berries, but very long and pointy thorns. Sue, unfortunately, received a bit of a scratch on her cheek.

Upon finding the cows, and the highway, we returned along the same route. By now, even though the temperature was rising, the horses were doing fine. I think I confused ol' Oreo once or twice when he wanted to run uphill but I slowed him down. At one point our guide suggested we let the horses trot, so we did. I would've enjoyed that a little more, were it not for the large camera slung to my side.

It was a great little trip and I'm so thankful that we were able to do it. Karen reminded me that we'd been out on the farm years ago (on a truck) during a reunion. I'd forgotten that, but it was really fun to do it on horseback, "as God intended."

Our guides from Lockey U where just wonderful. They had water bottles strapped to the saddles and took care of all the details. And they were especially helpful with taking so many group photos for us. I know the timing wasn't ideal for them, an early Sunday morning and right after the county fair, so we really appreciate their time and effort.

Another group photo in front of the old barn.

After dismounting, Dad took us through the barn and other buildings where his family kept (and milked) the cows and chickens. They appear to be the original buildings, now probably 80 or more years old. The house itself is slightly younger, having been burned down and then rebuilt by his Dad.

Thanks also to the Sonnen family for letting us invade their space and reconnect with the past.

Proud Leland School

Until my weekend drive though the surrounding farmland, I had never heard of the town of Leland. Passing through, this large, old, white building on the hill caught my eye and I turned around to check it out. My first thought was "old school," but after looking around I wasn't sure. The front seemed more church-like. It was easy to peek inside the basement, but that didn't provide many clues.

At home I was pleased to discover a recently written book on the town of Leland, written by Loeda Meyer Reil and published by the Juliaetta-Kendrick Heritage Foundation. I ordered it hoping to learn about the building, and wasn't disappointed.

The "proud Leland School" was built in 1921 and educated many children until 1948 or so. It has two large classrooms (grades 1-4 and 5-8) and a gymnasium. It was remodeled in 1942 so that hot lunches could be served. After the Leland School District was consolidated with Kendrick, the building was used for other activities such as 4-H meetings and square dancing into the 1970s.

The ground on the front side of the building is steep and overgrown, so it was a little difficult to get a really nice shot. With the fancy columns and steep ground, it doesn't seem very school-like to me. Some stairs remain on each side, but I wasn't brave enough to give them a try.
The four columns seem to be in very good shape, apart from these missing boards. They remain amazingly round. The electric wires seem like they don't belong, even though the school closed around 1948 and the building was used for other purposes until the 1970s.

This is the view through the broken window of the basement door. I didn't feel comfortable entering the door. The firewood was likely the only way to heat the large building. And I'd bet the theater seats were added later, when the building was used more as a community center, although perhaps not in this room.
I think it looks more school-like from the rear.

Mars Landing

As NASA's "Curiosity" prepares to land on mars in a few hours, and all the cool people are there to tweet about it, I can't help but be nostalgic about the time when I was cool too.

15 years ago NASA's Pathfinder spacecraft landed on Mars. I was working on the "IRCache" project at NLANR and UC San Diego. We used our web caching sites to set up some mirrors of NASA's pathfinder pages. For you young'uns, this was before CDNs and Akamai.

The best thing was that I was interviewed by the New York Times and quoted in the article!



Those were the days!

Good luck, NASA, JPL, MSL, and Curiosity!