Monday, February 21, 2011

Brother's Pat On The Back!

A short post today.  Just wanted anyone who is interested in learning about how biotechnology in farming has changed, affected the farmer and affected the consumer read the post my brother Don wrote on his blog Platte Valley Farmer.  He talks about how biotechnology works and a little history of it in the agriculture area in this post.

We are both proud of our other brother C in his part in leading the research and development of  a biotec. corn, Enogen, that has the enzyme amylase inserted into it.  It was just released to be planted this year.  I am not a chemist like our brother C is so all I can tell you about this corn is that he and other scientists worked on this for 11 years and it is supposed to be a better corn for making ethanol.  It reduced the energy cost of making ethanol by around 10% and generally had unexpected benefits in running ethanol plants by using less water, lower maintenance and fewer plant shutdowns for cleaning.  This is what C says...I have a very unscientific brain so just nod my head and agree.   My brain is geared more to artistc efforts!


Friday, February 18, 2011

My “Other” Sewing Machines

When I posted the other day about the sewing machines I used through the years I neglected to talk about my two antique machines.   I purchased the larger Singer on an auction because it reminded me of the one I learned to sew on, plus it sold really cheap.  It is the same model as my mother’s but it is a newer version.It is a straight stitch only machine that is gear driven not belt driven.

This larger machine is a 15-91 and was manufactured 1951 in a factory called Elizabethport in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Isn’t it amazing I can pinpoint the year and the other information about my machines?  This website helped to id the machines and this one helped to find the manufacture date.   On this second web page I am not quite sure about the headings “Quantity Allotted, Date Allotted, and Year Allotted”  and what they mean.

For my machine under Quantity Allotted it has 5000 – does that mean that 5000 were made?  On Date Allotted it has July 26, and Year Allotted it has 1951.  OK, I am wondering if 5000 machines were made on July 26, 1951 or were started then or finished then.  What do you think?  If anyone knows can they enlighten me please?

I purchased this machine in the wooden cabinet and that too looks similar to the one Mom had.  When I got the machine home I cleaned it up and oiled it then I sewed on it. It still has a very nice straight stitch.  I used it a little and then put it back down into the cabinet and have not run it again and have it setting as a table near my front door.  I am thinking I need to get it out and make a project on it.

The Singer Featherweight machine I purchased is a 221 model made April 22, 1954 and 5000 allotted.  Thank goodness I bought it before the Featherweight prices went up, up, up.  I have used this machine many times but not so much in the last couple of years.  This is a lightweight machine that sews a beautiful straight stitch and as you can see from the photo at the beginning of the post it has a smaller harp area than the standard machine and came in a nice case with various attachments.  Being light weight makes it easier to carry to workshops and the case keeps everything together.  This is a belt driven machine and has smaller bobbins than a standard size machine.

I just need to get this one out and sew something on it too.   The problem is I love my 730 Bernina and want to use it all the time…what a dilemma!

I love the decals on both of these machines.  The Featherweight has almost no wear on it so don’t think it was stitched on much and the 15-91 has most of it’s decals too.  I think it is interesting that on the 15-91 machine the wear it does have is around the top of the harp and I wonder if the past owner had a pin cushion around it there.  I have seen photos of these old machines with a pin cushion in the very spot where the decal is wearing off.

Don’t you wonder about who the women were that owned these older machines?  Did they quilt or sew clothing?  Maybe they had the machine but didn’t like sewing so maybe that is why there is no or little wear on the decals.  It is just too bad the machines can’t talk to us and tell us their stories.  What will our newer machines say about us?  Will they be around years later like these machines are or will they be like all the computers we have and be junked out after a few years because the electronics and computer parts are not replaceable? 

Until Later,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine Surprise

IMG_1096Normally John doesn’t get me flowers for Valentines day since there is no place to get flowers around here.  I expected a card and a kiss as usual again this year but he really surprised me on Monday morning.   Before I left for PT he came walking in with this beautiful bouquet of large yellow long stemmed roses.  They are just beautiful and now that it has been a couple of days since he gave them to me they have opened up into very large blooms.  I love yellow roses and these are just so pretty.

Being the curious person that I am, I asked where he had gotten them since I knew he had not made a trip anywhere recently.  Would you believe he picked them up at the local grain elevator?  Well you would be right if you said yes. 

Now why would a grain elevator, a place where trucks deliver corn and soybeans, have fresh flowers?  It turns out that one of the men that works there travels from a town about 30-40 minutes away and his wife happens to work at a flower shop in that town.  He brought a sign up
list to the elevator a week or so before Valentines day and took orders for flowers then brought them early Monday morning for the guys to pick up and deliver to their sweeties.  Isn’t that the best!

When you live a long ways from amenities it is nice to have someone use a little ingenuity.  I know I was not the only surprised wife or girlfriend around here as John said there were several bouquets sitting in a box waiting to be picked up yet when he was there.  It was nice to be really surprised and I am still smiling!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Sewing Machine History

I happened onto a blog post a while ago where someone was writing about a couple of the sewing machines they have owned and that triggered an idea for this blog post.  Today you will learn what machines I sewed on from my learning to sew days as a child, up to the machine I sew on today.421452619_o

I learned to sew on a black Singer sewing machine like this one.  This isn’t a photo of the actual one my mom owned but hope to get a photo of it before too long as my brother and his wife have it and will be taking a photo of it for me.  This machine always sewed a very nice stitch and I used it to sew many garments while I was growing up.  My mother was an avid seamstress and taught my two sisters and I to love sewing too... all using this machine.

I am not sure about the first thing I sewed but do remember making a pair of shorts for myself out of bright green fabric then cutting out a pair of shorts for my baby brother out of the left over fabric and making them too.  I know I had done some sewing before that time as I started 4-H when I was 8 and I sewed every year in 4-H.  I think when I made the shorts I might have been around 11 or 12  at the time and Don would have been around 2 or 3.  I remember it well as Mom was doing yard and garden work and was outside most of the time I was stitching them.  I cut my shorts out and would take the pieces out and find out what to sew next then go back into the house and stitch it then come back out.  I remember my shorts had a zipper in the side and a waistband too which were rather tricky.  I remember putting in the zipper as it was the first one I had done and had to stitch it in 3 times which also means I had to rip it out twice!  The first time I had put the zipper pull to the inside, the second time it was upside down and finally the third time I got it in correctly.  I might not remember those shorts if had not been the zipper problem.  I do remember I wanted to wear them so badly I kept working on them until I got them finished and do remember I loved them and wore them a lot that summer.

I sewed in 4-H for 10 years and made all kinds of clothing and a few home furnishings during those years.  I remember making drapes for my bedroom when I was in high school and going to my cousin’s home to use her machine to sew the side and bottom hems…the black Singer did not do the invisible hem stitch and my cousin’s new machine did.

My sisters and I sewed a lot of our clothes when we were in high school and college and Mom sewed most of our clothes when we were younger.  I made a tailored wool suit when I was 16 and a tailored wool coat and dress when I was 17.  I still have the wool suit since I didn’t wear it in college and Mom saved it for me but took the coat and dress to college and wore it some after I was married too, then put it in a box to go to charity when it didn’t fit or was out of style.  Sure wish I would have kept it now.kenmore-sewing-machine

When I graduated from high school my parents gave me a new sewing machine for a graduation gift and I was thrilled!  It was a Sears Kenmore like the one in the picture below and was a good machine for many years.  I don’t remember the model number but this photo looks just like my machine. 

I used this machine a lot while I was in college and the first 14 years after I was married.  When I was in college I made a lot of clothes as fabric was cheap and I could whip up a new dress over a weekend. 

After sewing all those years in 4-H I could fit a pattern to my body and stitch something up in no time.  Now is a different story…I have not sewn clothes in a long time and the last time it was like digging through an old archive to remember how to do certain things and now fabric is not cheap and neither are patterns….plus my body shape has changed too and I would have to do some serious study and experimenting to get a pattern to fit me so now I am mostly sewing “quilty” things.

Back to the Kenmore….I used that machine for 18 years until I was taking it in to be repaired all the time and decided I needed to get a better machine.  I gave my Kenmore to our oldest daughter when she got married to use if she needed a machine but even though it had been repaired again the stitching was just a mess.  She didn’t sew much but did use it to repair clothing or make a few items for her home.  She gave it back to me after a few years and I sold it on a garage sale for $5.  I told the man that bought  it that it didn’t work well at all but he told me he had several machines and was taking the good parts from one to fix others and could use parts off of it.

When I started shopping for a new machine I looked at several brands.  I didn’t know anything about a Bernina but a store about 30 minutes from me sold them so went down for a demo and to try one out and instantly fell in love.  It was more expensive than other machines at the time but John and I decided it was worth it since I did so much sewing.  I couldn’t remember when I bought it but decided to look in my file of warranties and found the receipt and the date was Dec. 16, 1985 and I paid $750 for it.  The receipt says it was regularly priced at $900 but was December sale so that was a pretty good deal.  That was a happy Christmas for me that year! 

I felt like I was in heaven when I used that machine.  I remember how quiet it was when I sewed compared to the old Kenmore machine.  I sewed on that 930 until I purchased my next Bernina.  I wanted a machine that could do a regular buttonhole stitch and a few other things that the 930 couldn’t do. 

I purchased the Bernina Virtuosa 150 QE on March 29, 2001 for $1550.  The dealer I bought the 150 from really wanted me to trade in my 930 but I decided it keep it and give it to our second daughter.  He told me all he had to do was make a phone call and could have sold my 930 as he had people on a waiting list for any he could get in trade.  It is still a machine that sells well…I just checked Ebay and a Bernina 930 right now has a bid of $832 so it has kept it’s value over the years.  davesbernina--00-00---986738712.pic

I loved the 150 as much as I loved my 930 when I bought it.  I did a lot of stitching on it the 7 years I owned it.  The 150 was selling  between $600-$800 on Ebay at the time I bought my next Bernina, a 730 model. 

My younger sister bought my 150 as she was looking for a newer good machine and so far she has been happy with it.  I sold it for $600 which is what I could get in trade for my  new machine  – the Bernina 75th anniversary model of the 730. 

IMG_2460I hate to say what I paid for my 730 but since I am writing a diary of sorts about my machines I want to include it all.  I paid $5800 for my 730 on June 23, 2008.  I didn't get the embroidery module for it as I have no desire to embroidery. 

I have never regretted buying this machine and have enjoyed owing and using it since it was new.  It is a pleasure to sew on and I have never had any trouble or breakdowns either.  Actually none of my Bernina’s have been in for repair but only in for an annual check up and oiling or that sort of thing.

I feel very, very lucky to have owned all of these machines as feel that the quality of your tools reflect on the quality of your work to a large degree.  I have taught classes where someone has a machine that just doesn’t stitch well or is causing problems and it is very frustrating for the student plus the quality of her work suffers too.

I have visited with my mother some about her old Singer machine and the machines she had after it.  I will be posting a story about it when I get all the facts and stories gathered together so check back later. 

What machines have you owned?  Liked or Disliked?


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

Hope you all have a Happy Valentines Day!  The first two fabrics are from South Sea Imports and the lady bug one is from Alexander Henry.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tension Can Make A Big Difference

I finished knitting two more dish clothes.  I just love all the different colors of yarn and like to make them all from different colors.  I do have some yarn left after each one and eventually I will knit part of one dish cloth with one color and the rest with a coordinating yarn, tying on the new yarn as I knit.  Here they are…one made from a self striping yarn and the other with flecks of pink and green in the white yarn.
They look the same size don’t they?  Well, they are not the same size.  I think I have close to the same number of stitches on each unless I counted wrong but the white one with the flecks of color is so much smaller because I was holding the yarn much too tight and tightening each stitch too much.  I was having trouble getting the yarn to slip on the needles but by the time I realized that is what I was doing I kept going until the end so it wouldn’t be too lop sided.  On the variegated peach/brown one I worked to hold the yarn looser and knit looser.  It was so much easier to knit than the other one that was for sure.   See the mini and the maxi!
May try sewing soon as we are keeping our grandsons and they may just want to make scarves/hats like their cousins so I need to know if I can reach up to the machine myself so I can help them.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

To Market To Market….

Today on this cold, cold morning the cattle truck pulled into our yard to pick up our yearling calves to haul to the sale barn.  The temperature was –2 with a light wind so it was bitterly cold outside. 

The trucker backs up to the alleyway where the calves will get into the truck   - this truck called a “Pot” has two levels to carry the calves.  In house terms it has an upstairs and a downstairs!  We are selling the calves tomorrow at a sale barn a couple of hours away from here and we hire a truck and driver to take them to the sale barn since we don’t have anything large enough.  The sale barn likes to have as many of the cattle they will sell there on sale day early so that is why we had them hauled today.  The calves will be unloaded in pens and fed and watered today and in the morning so they are well treated.

We are selling 85 calves and they will all be hauled in this one truck.  (We are keeping 12 heifers to become cows – John picked out ones with good “cow” qualities.)  This sale barn will auction our calves along with over 6000 others tomorrow.  If you would like to watch a live cattle auction check out the following web page.  Just register to view, there is no charge to register but just an id and password.  After logging in you can find an auction on Wed. (tomorrow) and click to view the sale.  This web page has lots of livestock auctions across the USA that are held on different days of the week. 

If you had approval to purchase you could actually buy online.  I don’t know how that works but know you have to have personal financial verification to purchase.  If you have never viewed a live cattle auction you might find it interesting.

It always amazes me how fast the auctioneer talks and how fast each pen of cattle are sold.  John is going out to watch them sell but I plan to stay home and watch online.  He will call when they are ready to come in the ring so I don’t have to sit all day looking at the computer screen.  We will both be glad when they are sold and we know what price we get for them.  It has taken a whole year from the time they were born to raise them to this point where we can sell them and hopefully make a profit. 
IMG_1027 IMG_1030
The truck is loaded and heading out of the yard and down the highway.  This afternoon we had some soft snow fall but it should not accumulate according to the weather website.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Windy, Windy Day……

Yesterday we had wind and more wind plus a little snow.  The wind was blowing 30 to 40 mph for 24 hours so the snow that fell blew into drifts.  We ended up with only 1-2” of snow but it was hard to tell as some areas were swept clean by the winds and others drifted tall.  This drift behind our house is a little taller this morning than this photo I took yesterday about 4:00 pm.  It is now taller than the top rail of the small back deck which is a little over 5 feet.

This drift can just sit until it melts but there is a 3 foot drift on the deck to our south door that has to be scooped off.  Since I can’t  do any scooping John has had to clean it off by himself, plus clean the drift away from the garage door.  These drifts are very solid and hard so are not easy to scoop.  The sidewalks are pretty clean  as the wind blew them clear so that job won’t have to be done today anyway.  He will have to get the tractor and loader to clean a drift that is blocking our driveway but again there are not too many for him do. 

We woke to the sound of quiet  and sunshine this morning and it was so nice after that horrible wind blowing for over 24 hours.  There is something about the sound of wind that could very easily drive me crazy.  I often think of the pioneer women that did go crazy after days and days of the wind here on the prairie.   I am thinking I would be one of them.  They didn’t have the distractions of the computer, TV or phone like we do.  I sometimes get out my ear plugs and wear them when I sleep at night when we have strong winds just to block out that sound!

Besides the wind we have really cold temperatures here in Nebraska.  This morning at 8 am it was –4F ( –20 C)and yesterday it was cold plus the wind so the wind chill temperatures were dangerous.  John did not spend a lot of time outside but had to take care of the animals morning and night though.

The photos below were taken from my kitchen window about 4 pm yesterday.  I have a Climantis  vine just north of that window and the leaves stay on all winter so it offers some protection for the birds that want to find shelter there.  I had to use my step stool to see them and get the photo – was really careful not to fall or lose my balance though.  The photo is a little out of focus looking because of two reasons….one being the snow was blowing when I shot it and they other was that I took the photos through the window and screen. 
IMG_1008  IMG_1019
The red arrows point to 3 of the sparrows that were hunkered down out of the wind.  At times I could see 7 or 8 from my perch leaning over the sink to see them.  They were so amusing to watch as when a new bird would fly in and try to sit next to another one there would be a fight of sorts and the new arrival would have to pick a new spot as I guess they didn’t want to share or snuggle.  I would have thought that if they huddled up they would have stayed warmer but obviously they didn’t feel that way.

Here’s to warmer weather again….


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