Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64
Scene from To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus Finch Shoots the Mad Dog
Mad Dog in To Kill a Mockingbird
Atticus Finch Takes Aim at the Mad Dog in To Kill a Mockingbird
One to three months is usually the time period
between contracting rabies and the start of
symptoms, but it can vary from less than one
week to more than one year. This depends on
the distance the virus must travel to reach the
central nervous system. Fever and tingling at
the site of exposure may be early symptoms.
Violent movements, uncontrolled excitement,
and fear of water or an inability to move parts
of the body and confusion followed by loss
of consciousness could follow these symptoms.
Once symptoms appear it nearly always results
in death.

: an acute virus disease of the nervous system
of warm-blooded animals that is caused by a
(species Rabies virus of the genus Lyssavirus)
transmitted in infected saliva usually through
the bite of a rabid animal and that is characterized 
typically by increased salivation, abnormal behavior,
and eventual paralysis anddeath when untreated—
called also hydrophobia
Middle Ages Rabid Dog

One thing I very much fear is rabies. There are several reasons for that.
Mason had to take the rabies shots before I was born, a very painful process. A pet squirrel bit him. I heard a lot about that. 

There were several rabies epidemics in our area while I was growing up. On at least two occasions, we lost 5 or 6 sheep. Since sheep was our only cash crop, and we only had about 30 - 35 ewes, that was about a 20% loss in our gross income for 2 years each time it happened. My uncle lost a horse and some hogs. Other neighbors suffered similar losses.

Those were scary times. Dad and Mason took a shotgun with them to feed the sheep. At the first sign of the illness, they shot the sheep and burned the body on a pile of chestnut fence rails. I carried a baseball bat size club with me to meet the school bus. The disease was carried primarily by foxes. The state Department of Conservation even had special seminars on trapping foxes.

A few years later, on June 20, 1963, West Virginia’s Centennial Anniversary, I was attacked by a rabid fox. When we went to milk that morning, we saw an unusually large, unusually dark gray fox in the pasture. We got the guns and shot at it several times without result. Its behavior was very peculiar. Seeing a fox in the open in daylight is itself peculiar. After being shot at, it trotted along a tree line, in the open pasture, for quite a distance. A fox will normally dart into the tree line immediately. It didn’t appear to be a bit wild.

Three or four hours later, I heard our boar hog making a lot of noise. When I checked on him, I saw a very large, unusually dark gray fox in the pen with him - I am convinced that it was the same fox. Coming back in mid-day, and coming much closer to the house is very much unlike a fox. 

I ran and got a gun, a .25-20 Winchester lever-action rifle. When I got back, the fox was disappearing in the woods. He was running parallel to the edge of the woods, about 30 - 40 feet from the edge. I ran down the tree line hoping he would stop and look back, and I would be able to get a shot. After running about 30 feet, I glanced behind me. Mom had yelled, but I cannot remember hearing her. The fox had come back at least 60 feet, crossed a rail fence, and attacked me from behind. When I first saw him, he was about 6 or 7 feet from me, charging at full speed. I didn’t even have time to get the rifle to my shoulder - just shot from the hip. I immediately followed it with a deliberately aimed shot. The first was enough; it hit the fox about an inch above his left eye. The second was centered in his head. By bending over, I could touch the fox with the gun barrel from where I shot.
I guess that it’s no wonder that I fear rabies.
To Kill A Mockingbird
Atticus shoots a mad dog

To Kill A Mocking Bird Audio Book
Chapter 10
To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 10 Summary
In Chapter 10 of To Kill a Mockingbird,
Atticus Finch shoots the rabid dog.

Rabies in the United States
The Center for Disease Control reports that before 1960 most rabies cases were hosted by domestic animals, but today rabies is mostly seen in wild carnivores and bats. Human deaths from rabies has declined from over a 100 a year at the turn of the twentieth century to one or two by the 1990's. Death from rabies usually occurs because people are not aware of their infection and do not seek medical attention.
US Rabies Map - 2008

from the Humane Society
Key facts
  • Rabies travels from the brain to the salivary glands during the final stage of the disease—this is when an animal can spread the disease, most commonly through a bite. 
  • Rabies can’t go through unbroken skin. People can get rabies only via a bite from a rabid animal or possibly through scratches, abrasions, open wounds, or mucous membranes in contact with saliva or brain tissue from a rabid animal.
  •  The rabies virus is short-lived when exposed to open air—it can only survive in saliva and dies when the animal’s saliva dries up.
  • If you handle a pet who has been in a fight with a potentially rabid animal, take precautions such as wearing gloves to keep any still-fresh saliva from getting into an open wound.
 Louis Pasteur Facts 
 Pasteur studied the immune system and vaccination through research on chicken cholera and other diseases. He helped produce the first vaccine for rabies, saving the life of a young boy in 1885 who became the first person to receive such treatment. - Atticus Finch Shoots the Mad Dog

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64
Felled Tree - Uma Krishnamoorthy
If a tree falls in the forest and
nobody is there to hear it, 
doesn't it just lie there and rot?
Chuck Palahniuk

Another Day with Larry

Day 12

Mountain State Forest Festival 
Sawing and Tree

We were not professional loggers, but we cut a lot of trees for firewood, to have sawed into lumber, for pulpwood, and for rails and posts for fences.

We used a cross cut saw in the early years. It is a very effective, very efficient tool, but it can be a man killer. The two men must work together and simply let the saw do its job. Trying to hurry it and force it gets the men out of synch and makes them look like fools. It also wears them out. Watching two good sawyers work together is a thing of beauty; being one of them is even better.

When we bought a chain saw, things changed. With it, one man could pretty much do what two had done before. But the work was much harder and more dangerous. Today’s chain saws have a safety device designed to kill the engine when the saw kicks back which they do, often. The older saws did not. They were also about twice the weight of today’s saws, up to 40 or 50 pounds. The noise from the saw prevents hearing dead limbs falling while cutting a tree. These limbs are appropriately called widow makers. It is also difficult to hear the tree creaking and cracking as it begins to fall.

Those early two-stroke cycle engines were very temperamental and frustrating. We once carried one about a half mile into the woods. It refused to start. We worked on it for about an hour to no avail. So we carried it back to the shop. When we got there, Mason, out of habit, pulled the starter rope - the saw ran perfectly. We had spent a half day, carried that heavy beast a mile, worn ourselves out, and had not created one speck of sawdust!

Abe Lincoln - Unknown
Trees are corrupting our parks.
They should be arrested for loitering.
For deciduous trees, add littering and
indecent exposure to that list of offenses.

Some Inspiration for the Overenthusiastic
George Washington and the Cherry Tree - Unknown
It was only when you left it alone that 
a tree might treat you as a friend. 
After the blade bit in, 
you had yourself a war.
Denis Johnson
Train Dreams 

Another Day with Larry

 Cut a Tree Down Safely

Day 11

The first step in cutting a tree is to decide where you want it to fall. Larger limbs, any leaning of the tree, the wind, and objects on the ground all have to be considered. The best timber cutter will sometimes be fooled. A notch has to be cut with an ax or saw about one-third of the way through the trunk in the direction you want it to fall. Then the back cut is made on the other side of the tree about 3 to 6 inches above the center of the notch. As the tree starts to fall, the notch pulls it in the direction desired and the remaining wood between the notch and the back cut form a hinge permitting the tree to fall slowly and preventing violent kick backs. When everything works as planned, cutting a tree is rather uneventful.

But everything does not always go according to plan. The wind can change in mid-cut. Crooked trees are difficult to judge accurately. Dead trees are simply dangerous. Without the weight of the sap in the limbs and the leaves to pull the tree in the direction desired it can fall in any direction. They also often break violently when they fall instead of slowly bending on the hinge. The kick backs can be dramatic and dangerous. Dead trees have more dead limbs called “widow makers” to fall. Dead trees are often hollow. Cutting a hollow tree is scary. You always cut through more wood on one side than the other causing them to twist to the side as they fall. The only thing predictable about hollow trees is that they will surprise you.

Since most of the trees we cut were diseased, crooked, or dead, we had some exciting times.

Skidding the logs out of the woods with horses is also dangerous. Logs can roll, crushing the driver’s legs. If the leading end hits a rock or a root, the trailing end can whip lash. We always drove the horse from in front of the log, beside the horse’s hips.

Experienced logging teams are a marvel to watch. They understand that the danger is behind them, and they make sure it stays there. They move out, fast. You can’t drive them; at best, you point them. The biggest mistake a driver can make is to try to over control them. They know the danger of a log catching them when going down hill so they go like gangbusters all the way to the bottom of a hill. Things happen awfully fast when logging with horses, and it can be exciting. Constant alertness is necessary.

Mike Rowe on the television show Dirty Jobs did some logging with a team of mules. A cameraman was almost crushed when a log rolled. He also hit a stump or root causing the trailing end of the log to whiplash. It was obvious that the mules knew a lot more than Mike. He would be the first to agree.

Lumberjack - Unknown
 Mike Rowe:
Learning from dirty jobs
Mike Rowe the host of "Dirty Jobs,"
tells some compelling (and horrifying)
real-life job stories. 
Listen for his insights and observations
about the nature of hard work,
and how its been unjustifiably 
degraded in society today.
Fancy cutting down all those beautiful trees...
to make pulp for those bloody newspapers,
and calling it civilization.
Winston Churchill
remarking to his son
during a visit to Canada in 1929
John Vaillant
The Golden Spruce: 
A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
Bringing Home the Logs - Currier and Ives


Good Morning, Class of '64
Three Dappled Percherons Abreast - Rick Clubb
The essential joy of being with horses 
is that it brings us in contact with the 
rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire.
Sharon Ralls Lemon

 Dapple Gray Percheron

Another Day with Larry

A canter is a cure for every evil. 
Benjamin Disraeli

Feeling down?
Saddle up. 

Somewhere in time's own space
There must be some sweet pastured place
Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
Some paradise where horses go,
For by the love that guides my pen
I know great horses live again.
Stanley Harrison
Disc Harrowing - Elaine Juska Joseph

A lovely horse is always an experience....
It is an emotional experience of 
the kind that is spoiled by words.
Beryl Markham

Day 14


Before we started using tractors, horses were a vital part of our farming. We had a horse in harness at least 75 to 100 days per year.

We had 3 different horses, one after the other, in my lifetime. They were all dapple-gray Percherons which faded to white as they got older. Our first was a mare named Nell who died in her early 30’s, very old for a horse. I can barely remember her. Then we bought Dan from a neighbor, Herbert Ware, for $30.00. Herb had the best horses I’ve ever seen. He really knew how to train them. They were great pullers, and they loved to pull. His horses could have competed pound-for-pound with any horses. Dan died of heaves, a respiratory illness similar to asthma in humans. Then we got Jim, the slowest and most lethargic animal I have ever known. He had a slightly misshapen front hoof which made him even slower, especially going downhill.

Dan was as perfect as a horse could be. He was strong. He loved to pull. He was dependable. He understood pulling and most of the jobs on a farm better than I did. He had more horse sense than most people. Dan taught me everything I know about horses.

Dan was smart, smart enough to be mischievous. When we went to get him in the pasture, he would back away, prancing and tossing his head. He would stay about 10 feet away from us until we cornered him. After the bridle touched him, he was fine. We could go up to him any time in the pasture without the bridle, but when he saw it, he wanted to have some fun. Any time you got on his back, he would reach around and nip your foot. He never bit hard enough to hurt, again, just having fun. He loved to walk fast, and he refused to let a person or another horse walk in front of him or directly beside him; he had to be in front. When hitched in a team, he always pulled most of the load because he was always a half-step in front of the other horse. I was devastated when he died.

Belgian Team Pulling Horses - Kim Corpany

He knows when you're happy
He knows when you're comfortable
He knows when you're confident
And he always knows when you have carrots.

Another Day with Larry

I bless the hoss from hoof to head -
From head to hoof, and tale to mane! -
I bless the hoss, as I have said,
From head to hoof, and back again!
James Whitcomb Riley

Four Horses Pulling a Plough - JF Alderson
 Day 13

I love to watch horse-pulling contests. That was always a big event at the state fair, one we eagerly anticipated.

Horses are fascinating animals. They are very gregarious; they like the company of man, other horses, and other animals. They like to please their owners. They like and respond well to attention. They like working. Draft horses love to pull heavy loads. Race horses love to run and have a very competitive spirit. Quarter horses love to work cattle.

I once watched the Budweiser Clydesdale eight-horse hitch being unloaded from the trucks and hitched to the wagon. The handlers led them off the trucks to their place in the hitch. Or the horses led the handlers - I’m not sure which. The horses knew their places in the hitch.

The collar fits over the head, but the horses were so tall that the handlers couldn’t reach high enough so each horse bowed his head to receive the collar.

After they were harnessed, they stood with heads nodding, half asleep. Until the dog started barking. They had not released him from the truck. When the horses heard him, they became very restive, tossing their heads, snorting, and stamping the ground. When the dog was released, he ran alongside the hitch to the wagon. When the horses saw him, they immediately became quiet,

While they were standing there, parents held their children up to pet the horses. The horses loved it. They seemed to understand that they were the center of attention and took that simply as their due.

The horses were on a side street about 100 feet from the parade route. When the lead band in the parade began playing, the Clydesdales wanted to go. They became so anxious that two handlers had to hold the bridles of the lead team to keep them secure. They knew that people had come to see them and thought it was time to go.

Their feet were badly beat up. Several had split hoofs and one or two had special iron shoes that covered the entire foot to prevent more damage. Horse hooves are not designed for hard pavement. Each horse weighed over a ton - that’s a lot of weight to come down on the hoof. The Clydesdales do not walk on parade routes - they march, slamming their feet down with every step. I took several photos of them marching and was amazed at their precision. Each horse had the same foot off the ground in almost every photo.

The process of driving a multi-team hitch is fascinating. The Clydesdale hitch is 4 teams, two horses wide and four horses long. Each team has a set of lines so the driver, with his assistants, has to control 8 leather straps. The lead team’s heads are at least 50 feet from the driver - a lot of leather to manage. To further complicate the matter, in a turn, the lead team’s heads become 12 to 15 feet closer to the driver. To make a right turn, the driver pulls the right line on the lead team causing them to turn right. As they approach the end of their turn, he must pressure the left line to straighten them while simultaneously pulling the right line on the second team. This progression continues until the wheel team (the one closest to the wagon) completes the turn. The driver must pull in 12 to 15 feet of lines on the lead team while they are in the turn and release it as they straighten. He must do the same with the other teams, each with a shorter amount to manage.

Realistically, a team as well trained as the Clydesdales could probably complete any parade without guidance from the driver. But the horses need to be confident that the driver is in control. They trust him to take care of them. The only way he can communicate that control to them is by a firm hand on the lines. He must maintain that firm pressure on the lines. With loud noises and people doing stupid, dangerous things around the horses, the driver has prevented countless injuries by his firm control. I love to watch the horses, but I also love to watch the driver and his assistants.

Clydesdale Stallion, Mare - Cassel's Book of Horse 1890

The Budweiser Clydesdale Horses 
Merrimack, New Hampshire

 Budweiser Clydedales Blog

I would be very comfortable picking up the lines and working a team in a field. In fact, I would love to! But a multi-team hitch in a parade lined with thousands of people - not a job for the faint hearted or the amateur!

President Ronald Reagan was fond of saying that there is not much that can go wrong on the inside of a person that cannot be fixed by the outside of a horse. I agree.

Teamwork - Mark Keathley
 There is nothing so good for the inside 
of a man as the outside of a horse.
John Lubbock
The Use of Life, 1894

Ploughing with Two Horses - Michael Benington

Monday, July 28, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64
Kallan - Sandra England -

Live your everyday extraordinary!
 Charles F. Glassman
Brain Drain The Breakthrough 
That Will Change Your Life

We have one precious life: 
do something extraordinary today, 
even if it's tiny. 
A pebble starts the avalanche.
K.A. Laity

...I don't just wish you rain, Beloved -
I wish you the beauty of storms...
John Geddes
A Familiar Rain

When we were young in the mountains and big rains poured from the sky we sometimes sat in the porch swing and watched it come down. We would stretch out our arms to the edge of the porch roof and cup our hands to catch the dripping water and make miniature waterfalls.  Sometimes we just wanted to feel the wet of the rain bounce onto our hands and bounce off again. 

When we were young in the mountains we would watch the rain as it exploded on the tar patched road like thousands of volcanoes erupting at the same time. Traveling to town or back home, the wheels of passing cars would force fans of rain water into the air and onto the sidewalks that used to be there - they have been gone for a long time now. If by chance we were walking along, and couldn't get out of the way fast enough, our legs became road dirt wet.

When we were young in the mountains, mud puddles attracted us like robins to worms. Always barefoot, we would splash through every dip in the ground that created small ponds for our feet. We sought them out and stomped and splashed, sometimes making mud puddles where grass had lived before.

When we were young in the mountains big rains didn't have to ruin our day. Sometimes the big rains that came made a typical day extraordinary.

Garden in the Rain
Reached the Billboard magazine
Best Seller chart and
lasted 7 weeks on the chart,
peaking at #14.
Four Aces - 1950

I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain.
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can’t do a handstand-
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said-
I’m just not the same since there’s rain in my head.

Shel Silverstein
  Where the Sidewalk Ends: 
The Poems and Drawings of Shel Silverstein 

Rainy Day Just Daddy and Me - Laurie Shanholtzer
It never failed to amaze me how 
the most ordinary day could be 
catapulted into the extraordinary 
in the blink of an eye.
Jodi Picoult
Handle with Care

 Never dance in a puddle when 
there's a hole in your shoe 
(it's always best to take 
your shoes off first).
John D. Rhodes

When I Was Young in the Mountains
Cynthia Rylant
The book was awarded a 
Caldecott Honor Medal
and earned an 
Christy Jordan
The summer sun was not
meant for boys like me.
Boys like me belonged to the rain.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Aristotle and Dante Discover
the Secrets of the Universe

Boy Playing in Rain Water - Unknown