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Cast Iron Epidemic


Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Monday, January 29, 2001

I decided that it was time to change oil in both of our vehicles last Sunday. I drafted our sixteen-year-old son, Matt, to help. I thought it was a good opportunity for Matt to profit from some of my long experience and practiced technique in the ways of the mechanical world. Besides, it required lying on the snow-covered driveway and crawling face-up underneath cars. That sounded like more fun for him than for me, so he got the job.

This easy decision to change oil was an easy decision for me, but it reminded me of the worst mechanical malpractice I ever committed. That occurred about twenty years ago when my wife and I started farming. We went to a couple auctions and picked up three tractors that I thought were fine examples of horsepower ready and able to conduct the minor business required on our small dairy farm.

Our main power source was an Oliver 1600 diesel. It was a nice tractor with low hours, nice paint, and good tires. Next in the power lineup was the two-banger John Deere 70 complete with hand clutch and power steering. Completing the team was a wagon-pulling, elevator-running Farmall H. Although we were not in a position to "never pull a hitch-pin" like some neighbors who had as many tractors as implements, we should have had enough power to take care of our few acres of corn and hay.

Trouble started in the spring of 1981, when I was doing routine maintenance on the Oliver. I noticed some oil in the antifreeze. I knew that was a bad sign so I consulted with the mechanic at the implement dealership in Altura. As we stood in the nearly empty dealership shop, he assured me that he could check out the tractor and have it back in about a week, regardless of what he found wrong. He told me he was not busy so he could devote his full attention to my tractor. I brought the tractor to the shop the next day and he set to work. I stopped by a week later and saw my tractor in a thousand pieces sitting in the corner of the shop, surrounded by the shattered bodies of four other tractors in similar disarray. The haggard mechanic explained that there had been a sudden rush of business and the other mechanic had quit. Furthermore, my tractor needed parts that were not easily attainable. He had no idea when my tractor would be finished.

In the meantime, my John Deere 70 had decided that it, too, needed some time off. Although it was completely capable of handling the chores while the Oliver was l .....
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Chicken Run

Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Monday, January 22, 2000

“It’s hard being brave when you’re a chicken.”
~from the movie Chicken Run

I am not much of a golfer. I rationalize my poor scores with the notion that I am involved in too many other activities to dev ..... 
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Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Monday, January 29, 2001

Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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To the Editor,

I read John Torgrimson’s article about the runaway chicken (January 22, 2001 Journal) with amusement, but the first recounting of this story one Saturday evening last fall was the best. John told us the story, complete wi ..... 
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Henry Ulring

Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Henry Ulring, 93, of Chatfield, retired manager of the Chatfield Creamery, died Tuesday, January 2, 2001, at Chosen Valley Care Center in Chatfield where he had resided since August 1998.

He was born March 14, 1907, in Webster, MN. On Sept. ..... 
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Ronald Wayne Kiehne

Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Ronald Wayne Kiehne, 64, of rural Harmony, died Tuesday, January 2, 2001, due to a farm accident.

Mr. Kiehne was born on November 10, 1936 at the family farm, the son of Ethel and Emil Kiehne. He graduated from Harmony High School in 1955. H ..... 
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