Tuesday, November 30, 2010


There is an auction tomorrow I would like to attend. There is always a story behind a farm auction. By farm auction I mean machinery, not real estate.

At least half the auctions are sad stories. This one is. The dad was a real good farmer but died at my age of a heart attack. The son took over and couldn't make it so now all the chattels are being sold.

The next door neighbor was one of my students and also died suddenly at 53. That community has been hard hit.

There are three pieces which would add to our versatility here. A 1955 Oliver tractor, a Gleaner R-72 and a Rogator crop sprayer.
The 1955 would pull a notill drill to get the little fields or patch bigger fields. The R-72 is the same size as the R-75 but a little older but could be bought cheaper than renting a second combine.

Those combines are still bringing around the $100,000 area as a replacement is closer to $400,000.

That tractor is what I would call a classic tractor, over 30 years old. Still it would be new to me. They are selling for 5-10 thousand dollars but this one needs up to 5 grand of work in the transmission so I wouldn't want to bid over $5000 for it even though it is a good tractor in good condition other than the tranny.

That Waukesha engine is known for spitting connecting rods out the side and there goes another five grand if it does. Some of us know how to prevent that but many don't.

My brother traded my 2-70 White I had sold to him and dad and they got a 1955 in the deal. The first day dad was spreading manure on the 27 acre field by White Oak Creek it spit a rod out the side that went several hundred feet. That tractor is still on the old farm but it has never been the same.

The Rogator would make the most money spraying our own crops as much as possible. The entry level would be so much cheaper than buying newer. Tractorhouse has these sprayers selling in the $50,000 ballpark.

I like going to auctions but not when I am bidding on big ticket items as someone always wants to talk when you are in the middle of a thinking process and you hate to be rude but if you don't pay attention, you will be on the wrong side of the deal.

I guess auctions aren't the best places to buy big ticket items.


Monday, November 29, 2010

The Cleveland's

Eric and Tyler are direct decendants of President Grover Cleveland.

The First Democrat elected after the Civil War, Grover Cleveland was the only President to leave the White House and return for a second term four years later.

One of nine children of a Presbyterian minister, Cleveland was born in New Jersey in 1837. He was raised in upstate New York. As a lawyer in Buffalo, he became notable for his single-minded concentration upon whatever task faced him.

At 44, he emerged into a political prominence that carried him to the White House in three years. Running as a reformer, he was elected Mayor of Buffalo in 1881, and later, Governor of New York.

Cleveland won the Presidency with the combined support of Democrats and reform Republicans, the "Mugwumps," who disliked the record of his opponent James G. Blaine of Maine.

A bachelor, Cleveland was ill at ease at first with all the comforts of the White House. "I must go to dinner," he wrote a friend, "but I wish it was to eat a pickled herring a Swiss cheese and a chop at Louis' instead of the French stuff I shall find." In June 1886 Cleveland married 21-year-old Frances Folsom; he was the only President married in the White House.

Cleveland vigorously pursued a policy barring special favors to any economic group. Vetoing a bill to appropriate $10,000 to distribute seed grain among drought-stricken farmers in Texas, he wrote: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character. . . . "

He also vetoed many private pension bills to Civil War veterans whose claims were fraudulent. When Congress, pressured by the Grand Army of the Republic, passed a bill granting pensions for disabilities not caused by military service, Cleveland vetoed it, too.

He angered the railroads by ordering an investigation of western lands they held by Government grant. He forced them to return 81,000,000 acres. He also signed the Interstate Commerce Act, the first law attempting Federal regulation of the railroads.

In December 1887 he called on Congress to reduce high protective tariffs. Told that he had given Republicans an effective issue for the campaign of 1888, he retorted, "What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?" But Cleveland was defeated in 1888; although he won a larger popular majority than the Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison, he received fewer electoral votes.

Elected again in 1892, Cleveland faced an acute depression. He dealt directly with the Treasury crisis rather than with business failures, farm mortgage foreclosures, and unemployment. He obtained repeal of the mildly inflationary Sherman Silver Purchase Act and, with the aid of Wall Street, maintained the Treasury's gold reserve.

When railroad strikers in Chicago violated an injunction, Cleveland sent Federal troops to enforce it. "If it takes the entire army and navy of the United States to deliver a post card in Chicago," he thundered, "that card will be delivered."

Cleveland's blunt treatment of the railroad strikers stirred the pride of many Americans. So did the vigorous way in which he forced Great Britain to accept arbitration of a disputed boundary in Venezuela. But his policies during the depression were generally unpopular. His party deserted him and nominated William Jennings Bryan in 1896.

After leaving the White House, Cleveland lived in retirement in Princeton, New Jersey. He died in 1908.

Learn more about Grover Cleveland's spouse, Frances Folsom Cleveland.

Wiki goes into the political details of his presidency with lots of links.

It is good reading.


Sunday, November 28, 2010


You know, people who have a loving family are really, really blessed. Some people don't have that, can you imagine?

Yesterday we got together and had about the most wonderful time you could ever imagine. It was nothing fancy, just a day to see each other, enjoy some food over a traditional Holiday that is very important to our country and some families.

Those Pilgrims, how did they do it? They left everything to have a chance and come and eat with perfect strangers, the native American Indians. They had to be desperate or adventurous or both as that boat ride was no picnic.

The grandchildren are growing up so fast but progressing so wonderfully. Madison brought her second letter to us. I told her she spells better than most of my friends and she is only in the second grade. She is so loving and kind and the best older sister and cousin you could imagine.

Her sister Brynne just blended in with the kids. the older three like to play and march around together and she is usually in the middle. They were all just happy as larks all day, no fusses and and no one wanted to go home.

Liam is my little buddy, he loves slapstick home grown corney humor like me and I can make him laugh in a second. He is in preschool and really advancing himself. He reminds me of myself at five and yes I do remember that.

Caolin is just the sweetest little girl I ever saw, she looks right through you with those big eyes and smile. She is quite independent and plays and sings to herself but gets along great with the others, too.

Her new little brother Finn never cried all day. He is quite a hunk, over 12 lbs at 6 weeks. He was very comfortable with the commotion going on. In a year he will be holding his own.

Tyler is speaking words but still has that Bow stamina and such stoutness for a little guy at 18 months.

You think we are proud granparents? You bet. We worked hard to get here but we are really blessed. We had our days with our kids as they grew up and made decisions. We were pretty firm with them but always did it with love and it turned out great.

So here is to our family, our most prized possession. You kids are doing a great job and we are very proud of you.

Ed and LuAnn

Saturday, November 27, 2010

River Cruising

Three weeks ago we left for our first river cruise, this one on the Danube as you know now.

We chose Vantage Travel for our cruise and can highly recommend them after using them. We saw one other Nordic cruise line and those people seemed to be happy too.

I sleep really well on a ship. Of course the five I have slept on were usually on calm waters and I know I wouldn't be sleeping in a storm. That would be like me trying to sleep on a jet airplane 6 miles high going 5-600 MPH. That is what I call an out of body experience.

Sleeping on a ship on calm water is like sleeping on a giant comfy bed on top of giant waterbed. I don't wake up in the middle of the night like I often do on land.

Our bed was two small beds put together and each had its own fluffy comforter but looked like a queen sized bed.

I mention sleep because we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed and without good rest the day is pretty well shot.

Vantage really knows what it is doing. Everything is top notch and service is better than anything else you will see. You have to work together on a 5 day to two week deal or the customer isn't going to be satisfied. They do it and the customer is very satisfied.

The routine is great for me. Wake up, shower, eat, walk, read, study, eat, walk, see, experience, eat, have some entertainment and go to bed. After three days I am totally relaxed like a leaf on a tree, just blowing in the breeze.

Our ship was 170 guests, mainly couples, and 42 staff so the chef cooked 640 or so meals a day for us and crew. The kitchen was very high tech and very efficient. Every worker was at the top of his game in that kitchen to the dining room.

We got to eating on the higher deck of the Compass Dining room with the kitchen underneath us. There we met Emil, the best waiter I ever had and his able assistants Milai and Atilla. They soon knew our habits and we became friends on our short journey.

You can take one of these vacations for about $3000 each, U.S. After adding tips for crew and whatever you buy off the ship, you are probably still under $10,0000. It is well worth it to me and compares to every kind of vacation we have taken in the last ten years. It is different though as you are really being waited on and the herds are not as big as the big cruise ships. That makes it very personal and special.

The guests are all in our age group and education level. That makes for good relations and discussions at dinner. The hard part for me was seeing where I will be in 10 years as we were that much younger than most of the cruisers.

It was good to see older folks still out learning culture and seeing sights. They take their bumps and bruises from age in stride. One old german from New Jersey was 89 and his wife right behind and he was still doing his thing in retirement. Hip and knee replacements are common among passengers.

It really was a good experience and I would sure do it again.

Holland in bloom, the Christmas markets and new countries are still out there for us.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Wheat Grew Overnight

This is the most unusual thing I ever saw but yesterday's rain made the wheat grow overnight.

It has been so dry the wheat and barley barely came up. With a nice 1-2 inches of rain on it it grew overnight.

Usually it is so damp in fall the cereal crops come closer to drowning than lacking from water but this year's La Nina event is quite something different. The grain prices are so volatile because of high demand and questionable supply that the rumor of drought in South America has the markets queezy.

We are about 12 inches behind an average year's rainfall. We had one inch of rain June 12, another one Sept 17 and more than that yesterday. That's almost a half a year with 3 one inch rains, very unusual around here.

They said it was the coolest October on record in Europe but then turned record warm while we were there.

The yard greened up a little but not like most places we have been to where it is lush green. I really need to re-seed the whole thing now.

It sure has been a different year weather wise!

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. It is amazing how affordable a home cooked meal still is.

"While the average cost of a traditional Thanksgiving meal rose by 56 cents, the price of feeding a gathering of 10 is still less than it was in 2008, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table.

The average price tag for a holiday meal for 10 with all the trimmings rang up at $43.47, up from $42.91 in 2009 but down by $1.14 from the 2008 average. The rise was in spite of a significantly lower average price for the centerpiece 16-pound turkey, which was down by 99 cents.

“Turkey prices are down some this year despite the fact that, according to United States Agriculture Department estimates, turkey production has been slightly lower in 2010 than in 2009 and supplies of turkey in cold storage are below last year’s level,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Economist John Anderson, who said this indicates retailers are being aggressive in featuring turkeys in special sales and promotions.

“Overall, the change in the price of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is basically in line with the modest changes that we’ve seen in the overall price level this year. At $4.35 per person, our traditional Thanksgiving feast is still a better deal than most fast-food value meals, plus it’s a wholesome, home-cooked meal.”

The survey involved shoppers from 34 states (including one from Georgia) collecting price data on turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10.

The cost of a 16-pound turkey, at $17.66 or roughly $1.10 per pound, reflects a decrease of 44 cents compared to the prices from the 2009 survey. A 38-cent rise in the price of a gallon of milk and a 72-cent increase for miscellaneous ingredients (coffee, onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) offset the decrease in the price of turkey. The price for a pound of green peas also declined, by an average of 14 cents, while the cost of 12 ounces of fresh cranberries was the same as in 2009."

I am sure most of us spent more than that but food is still affordable.

Those little wheat plants won't make a dent in the cost of producing the pumpkin pie shell it could make.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Turkey Day to you all. Turkey Day is a common slang term in the US for Happy Thanksgiving.

I am very thankful this year. So many good things happened. I had the most acres and gross and net revenue I ever had in my life. Best of all we have a new crop, our eighth grandchild.

Like the Pilgrims, we will give thanks today with a special meal. Our turkey day will be Saturday with the kids and grandkids during the Buckeye's battle with Michigan. Celebrating on an off day like this has worked well for our blended family.

I want to thank Ralph for writing while I was gone. I think a writer like him adds interest and broadens the view of a blog like mine. I have three good "ghost writers" now. Budde from the Lazy Farmer, LuAnn, and now Ralph.

It takes about 24 hours to fly from here to Europe with the layovers in Economy mode. We are rich to be able to travel but if we were really rich we could take a non stop flight pretty close to any major city.

The best deal on this trip was drive to Cleveland and use Continental to Newark, Frankfurt and to the smaller cities of Budapest and Prague. We were on the ground as much as in the air. The main leg is around 7 hours and the smaller legs are 1-2 hours each.

We saw all the commotion about security in Germany and body scans in the US. Thankfully that never bothered our trip one bit. The flight back home was roomy and many people slept across 3 seats. Me, I can't sleep in a jet going 5-600 MPH so I just watch movies and radio and think and write.

The big picture of the trip was the age of Europe compared to us. We are still an infant country and society compared to the world. The Roman Empire greatly impacted the future of man and the faith of those people.

The Christmas markets were just beginning to open and Advent is King in Europe like it used to be here. It wasn't so commercialized in advertizing like it is here but you can see the impact we have on the world.

The really neat thing we saw was at the cristkindl market we visited in Vienna, the event was social, not just for buying. Young and old visited together and they had pony and other rides for the kids so three generations could visit together. It felt very homey to us.

We walked 8-10 miles from Old Prague to Charles Bridge, across the river, up to the largest castle in Europe and back to the hotel. We still have tired bodies we jet lag but we will be fine, just need some time.

We woke up two hours early this morning so we need to keep working on getting back on schedule. We struggled to stay awake past 9 PM local the last two nights but it is working.

Happy Turkey Day to all and I hope you had a good year like we did.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful For Multitude Of Ever-Ready Volunteers

Day before yesterday I talked about the Sugartree Ministry and their care of so many homeless and poor families that are left in the wake of losing 10,000+ jobs when the major employer, DHL, closed their distribution Center. Sixty Minutes came in first to report on the situation followed by Rachel Ray who came in and did a wonderful renovation of the dining room and kitchen for Sugartree But what makes our community really great are the many, many volunteers who give of themselves to serve their fellow men and women to help make their lives a little more comfortable.

Today is one our church’s two days that we fix and serve the hot meal at Sugartree. We served 655 people with the help of two different girl scout troops and a fraternity and sorority group from the Wilmington College. Keep in mind that dinner at the Sugartree Ministry is not a food line that people fill up their plates and then find a table – Everyone who comes to Sugartree is treated like a rich person. They are seated at tables and served their food on china and given stainless utensils and a drink by smiling volunteers. The dishes are then picked up and the tables cleaned off getting ready for the second seating. That is what happened today but during 4 turnovers! That is the most people I have seen eat at Sugartree! While pretty scary that there are that many people who need to find free food somewhere – it is also heart-warming to see so many people willing to donate many hours of their time for others.

We have a Homeless Shelter in Wilmington who helps people that have been evicted from their homes with up to 6 weeks of temporary housing and food. I deliver pastry products to the shelter on Saturday and Sunday. One recent Saturday I was told by the shelter manager to come see the new house that will join the original 2 once renovation is completed. I was amazed to find two prominent surgeons in jeans and work shoes tearing done the wall board in the new house getting ready to completely renovate this Home. One is an orthopedic surgeon who contributes 20-30 hours a week on top of a very ambitious surgery schedule and practice. His companion is a cardiology surgeon who also was wielding a crowbar.

Can you imagine? People who earn several hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars of funds in their careers doing the volunteer hour they do each week. They want no publicity – they feel good donating their time and efforts for those not as fortunate as they are. Humbling to say the least!

Here is wishing you and yours a great Thanksgiving tomorrow! My heart is filled with the warmth generated by the many volunteers we have here in Southwestern Ohio.

Ralph Taylor
Blogging for Ed Winkle

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Zimbabwe Orphanage Mission Project

Good Pre-Thanksgiving Tuesday to each of you Hymark Blog Followers!

There are not many chemists in the world who are fortunate enough to get as deeply involved in world missions as I am. Coming right on the heels of the Ukraine Church Partnership Mission I talked about on Nov 13th was another mission opportunity creating Orphanages In Zimbabwe.

While a Presbyterian now - our church denomination in the 80's and 90's, Church of Christ/Christian Church, consists of lots of independent church entities tied only loosely together through an association of churches. All congregations function independent of others. This feature makes large mission projects more difficult to launch because no one church congregation has the resources to fund them alone. That is where I came into the mission field – as a project leader and fundraiser.

I was approached by our Pastor, the same one as the one who spearheaded the Ukrainian Church Partnership Project. He wanted to know if I’d like to help develop an orphanage for homeless children whose parents and extended families have died of HIV/Aids. There were 78,000 such children walking the streets of Zimbabwe then - many more today. He briefed me on the Missionary family already living in Bulawayo who has a concept for creating a non-institutional orphanage.

My assignment, if I chose to accept it was to scope out the project, research the technical and financial resources that would be needed to fund such a project. All if that in a span of 4 weeks vacation from P&G!

The first step was visit with the Missionary family in Zimbabwe to see what their image of this orphanage was. We went to visit a half dozen institutions – classical orphanages where the children all slept in bunks – many in a room, boys in one wing and the girls in another. The non-institutional model was based on family units. We ended up with an orphanage with 100 homes – each having 6 bedrooms, 2 boys or 2 girls in each room on bunks. The concept they had was much more robust than other orphanages we visited. The orphanage we were developing would be essentially a village of 1000 children with elementary, middle and senior high school with emphasis on developing agricultural commodities and crafts to earn money to provide for the expenses of running the orphanage.

The ultimate objective is that these orphanages would be run by Zimbabweans for Zimbabwean orphans. Our job would be completed when it was turned over to the Zimbabwean Manager.

We next needed to meet with potential local resources (architects, builders, hydrologists, agricultural specialists, Educational consultants, and many others.
This was one of the most exciting projects that I ever worked on. I even got to meet with Robert Mugabe, the current Zimbabwean Dictator who is ruining the entire nation of Zimbabwe for personal gain. When I met with him in 1996 – he was President of the country. Really interested in our orphanage project because it helped the people of his nation. He was very down to earth and congenial. Within 2years of my return it was clear that he was more interested in keeping up his lifestyle than helping his fellow Zimbabweans. He sent the war veterans in to run off the white farmers and kill them if necessary to give the veterans some farmland and keep his prestigious position. Today the runaway inflation there is so bad that it causes the prices of things to double every 4 days. It takes more than a million Zimbabwean Dollars to buy a loaf of bread.

Needless to say – this project was put on hold, at least in Zimbabwe given the political unrest there. While the concept is robust, it may have to be developed in neighboring Mozambique, Botswana or other African nation.

Ralph Taylor
Blogger Subbing For Ed Winkle Who will Be Back In This Spot Soon!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sugartree Ministries “Feed The Hungry” Program

Good Monday Morning Hymark fans! This is Ralph Taylor Blogging for the vacationing Ed Winkle who will, in the next couple of days, be getting ready to board plane heading back home. He will have a lot to tell you about his trip beyond the two columns he published from Central Europe yesterday and last week.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday of this week - I wanted to share with you one of my favorite organizations - Sugartree Ministries. I and hundreds of others volunteer time to support this charity located in Wilmington, Ohio. Thirty Four churches and local businesses prepare and serve 150 to 200 people hot meals 6 days a week in their ministry facilities. Also once a week, at noon on Thursdays, they open their doors to the public to take home frozen meats, fresh produce and canned/packaged foods to the 400-500 who line-up each week.

The Kroger Company, a major food marketer here in Southwestern Ohio, donates between 3000 – 4000 pounds of food to this organization each month. I and 2 other people use their SUVs and or truck to haul this food to the shelter. See a short video about that effort by copying and pasting this url into the http address bar of your browser:


Life in Clinton County, Ohio got a little more difficult when DHL, a major employer in Wilmington closed their facility in 2008. There are several videos available that you can review that gives lots of background on what has happened in the Wilmington area as presented by a couple of 60 Minutes and s couple of Rachel Ray’s Shows You’ll find them at:


For those who watch the Rachel Ray Show – Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, she will be showing an interview that her crew taped last week. She has another surprise that will be announced on the show this Thursday. Here is when you will be able to hear this program in your area:


Glenn Beck has picked up on this and is coming to our county seat of government next Month in Wilmington.


Be sure to keep this ministry in your prayers this week and every week as the services it provides are vital to the people living in this area.

Ralph Taylor

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Editorial Note: The following is a report directly from Ed & LuAnn's vacation time in Central Europe

This has been a very insightful trip and sabbatical for me. LuAnn has gotten to see what I first saw 18 years ago.

I have this deep feeling every American should seek out where their ancestors came from. Why did they venture from their homeland to America?

I am very thankful Heinrich Winkle came to Virginia in the 1700's. His offspring surely had their trials and tribulations but our family missed lots of the peril in Europe.

What these peoples have been through over 2000 years is inexpicable. I have seen the Great Wall of China, Dachau and now the parade grounds where Hitler started his regime in the 30's. Words will never match what the people of those times went through and what really happened.

Grandpa George was left to raise his family and feed the war effort. So was dad. So was I.

America really needs to study their world history and try to avoid what happened to those who didn't leave their homeland for our new homeland. We are bound for some real trials and tribulations ourselves if we don't.

In church this morning it hit me why God put LuAnn and I together. It was so we and our chidlren's families could flourish. They have. I don't want our grandchildren to suffer in the future but we all must learn from mistakes of the past. Somehow we have to get that through to them in our short few years left.

We prayed with some of the most simple and humble people you ever saw today. One grandma made the sign of the cross on her grandchildren's foreheads when they entered the church.

We toured the old Jewish community in Prague that was destroyed after the Nazi Regime by a plan of a Paris archetect chosen to rebuild the encampment. On the walls of the synagogue was the names of the tens of thousands of people who had been killed during that regime. One was a Winkler family. I never knew there were any Jewish in the 2000 year or older Winckel family which became Winkle, Winkel, Winkler, Winklemann, Van Winkle and so many derivations.

There were over 10,000 Jewish people buried in the very small cemetary only a hectare or two in size. They were literally buried them ten deep on top of each other over the 700 year period they lived in this part of Prague.

The astronomical clock I remembered after I saw it. Little wooden figures come out on the hour and a trumpeteer blows the bugle at the top of the clock. Certain buildings and the river and the Charles bridge came back to life in my memory. We have to climb to the old church on the hill on the other side of the river yet. I remember that distinctly from my first trip here.

The Czech people are very simple, hard working people like most of Europe and our ancestors. I wonder if professor Jorge is still alive here in Prague? He was a world renoun scientist on heavy metals, sludge, and environment when I met him 18 years ago. I doubt I can find him.

I found me again though and it has been remarkable.

I am glad I am curious enough to travel, think and study.


Sommlier? Who Would Have Guessed?

As I have mentioned a week or so ago when I started substituting for the world traveller Ed – I majored in college leading to a BS in chemistry and math. I then
went to work for 38 years as a product development chemist ending up as Director of Quality Assurance. Fun career! Never in the world have dreamed becoming a wine retailer and budding Sommlier but that is exactly what I am doing now.

I own a company called Winedog LLC. We offer over 350 wines for sale. I started in partnership with a chef and ran a bistro restaurant and wine retail shop in Blanchester, Ohio. My partner has gone away to another vocation and I have continued developing the business.

We ship anywhere in the continental USA. We offer wine tasting parties here locally that help people increase their knowledge about wines and how to expand their wine tastes. Typically we do a tasting with 7 or 8 wines, a mixture of dry, sweet red and white wines, and a sparkling wine. We match them (pair them in tasting lingo) with hors d’ouevres (appetizers) that the wines go well with. We go through each of the pairs, one at a time, describing the fragrance and taste notes that most people notice about the individual wines.

The participants end up knowing what they should look for in wines and how to respond to wine service in restaurants. This also gives them a better idea as to which types of wines they prefer. Some even realize that both sweet and dry wines taste great if the foods they are chosen for are compatible. For example most people when they choose a wine for salmon would go for a dry white when a better choice for most people would be a dry pinot noir. Try it next time you have salmon.

Almost 95% of our business comes in by phone or internet. This is good because we have the only “wet” address in an otherwise dry township in Clinton County. A parade of customers coming in to buy wine would really turn off the majority of Quakers in this community. Our community is rural for sure with homes a half mile or more between houses. We have a covered bridge, one of the few left in Ohio. It was rebuilt about 3 years ago to carry road maximum weight vehicles – another great feature of this area – easy truck access to receive wine deliveries.

If any of this blog’s readers like wine and want a great deal – we have it for you. We are located on the web at www.winedog.com. You are welcome anytime. Physically we are located on Martinsville Rd about 12 miles South of Wilmington, Ohio. Remind me that you are a Hymark reader and you’ll receive an extra 10% off your first order.
Hope the second half of your weekend is productive, restful and fulfilling. Remember this is Thanksgiving Week. We have much to be thankful for don’t we?

Talk again tomorrow!

Ralph Taylor
Blogging for my friend Ed Winkle

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shadow and Samantha

Shadow and Samantha

The 3rd favorite dog I dearly loved was Shadow – A dog I first met when asked to help a no kill shelter provide temporary homes for stray dogs. I felt really bad for Shadow since my wife, being terribly allergic to dog danger could not have Shadow stay in our space but had to stay in a cage in the basement. I made the mistake of going down to keep Shadow company. She would shut her eyes and enjoy my scratching her head and back breathing very heavy when I was around. We finally adopted Shadow because I was hooked on her. She followed me everywhere I went living up to her name.

As you can see from the picture the ties were very close between Shadow and me. She had to be put down year before last when we discovered a large tumor on her side and at age 17 she would not fare well in surgery. That was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do is hold her in my arms as our Vet gave her the lethal injection. Whew!

The fourth most favorite dog is our current dog Samantha. She has learned how to talk – that’s right talk! See for yourself:

One of my children commented on this video about how good a teacher Samantha was teaching Dad to talk like she did. Very funny!

We have two other younger dogs who will likely become 5 and 6 of the all-time most favorite dogs. We are going through a rough patch right now since Sir George does not seem to know what to do to get Lady Bella pregnant. The two of them have been through 9 heats and all we see is Sir George trying his best but never able to get to the right spot.

We consulted our vet who showed us what to do to facilitate conception. That is a whole other story and one that is not appropriate with this audience . Boy that is the weirdest an kinkiest thing we have ever considered doing in our entire life’s experiences with pets.

Hope you weekend if off to a great start!

Blogging for Ed Winkle
Who is at this hour cruising up to Prague in the Czech Republic

Ralph Taylor

Friday, November 19, 2010

Smiling Dog

Dogs really are man’s best friend! I’ve always had a dog in my life. There are four that really stand out for me, one of whom, Butch, I talked about yesterday.

The second very special dog I can remember was Sandy, an Irish setter. She was always at my side as I was going through puberty. She had such a beautiful smile – kind of like the picture to the left. Every time we would take a ride in the car she was with us smiling at anyone who came up to the car to admire her. Not sure what made her smile when other dogs could not but she was able to cause her upper lip to raise and her bottom lip to pull down and the resultant appearance was a dog who was smiling.

That same feature used to get me in trouble with my Mom when she was scolding me. Sandy used to sit by her side when she was yelling at me. Invariably Sandy would sit there looking at me and give me one of her smiles. I tried my best not to look at Sandy while taking the scolding because I could not keep from laughing out loud at this dog who seemed to like to get me in trouble. Needless to say my Mom got furious with the insolence this son of hers was showing cracking up while she was yelling at me.

When I was in my 20’s married and away from home, my Mom and I used to laugh about the trouble Sandy used to get me in with her smile.

Ralph Taylor – Substitute Blogger
For Ed Winkle – Who was in Nuremburg Germany today

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Behavior Modification

A very useful skill to learn before you have children. It was one that I learned how to do when age 10.

I’ve always had a dog in my life. My very first dog was a beagle hound named Butch. He was the self-proclaimed neighborhood watch dog. Anyone who dared drive their vehicle down the 4 blocks of Utopia Place in Hyde Park in Cincinnati used to be challenged by Butch. We lived in the 2nd house from the entrance so he had the perfect vantage point to challenge any vehicle. Heaven forbid it was a truck! He had this very bad habit of chasing the trucks that brought us milk and eggs or that delivered the newspaper or picked up the garbage.

The people who drove these trucks had to, at some point, get out to deliver their goods. There would be Butch waiting to get his treat with his tail wagging furiously. The regulars all knew Butch and why he was chasing their vehicle. If this was your first time and didn’t know him and how harmless he was, you’d swear that your life was in jeopardy, especially after witnessing him chasing alongside your car or truck with teeth snarling.

We tried to make Butch stop chasing cars and trucks because he might get hit or we might be sued if someone had a heart seizure or stroke due out of fear. Luckily most of the people who ventured down Utopia Place were regulars. One of the garbage men, however, was taking no chances. When he witnessed the viscous assault on his truck as he approached our house he got out his claw hook that he used to grab and drag the trash cans to the back of the truck to empty it. He used this hook to defend himself not knowing that all he needed was a dog treat. One swipe of that hook was all that was needed to puncture Butch’s back beneath the scruff of his neck and he was down and out bleeding all over the place. The garbage man thought he had killed Butch and rushed down the rest of the street, completed his tasks and left our community. After the vet put several stitches to close the wound it was obvious that Butch would live to welcome next week’s trucks and beyond.

It was clear that we had to do something to make Butch stop chasing cars and trucks so we developed a plan. We talked to the milk man and he agreed to pick me up before he drove into our street. Butch hated to get a bath and to be wet. So I filled 4 large buckets with cold water and took them to the pickup point. The milk truck came to the agreed upon loading spot and I loaded up the buckets of water near the right hand open door. Butch always chased along the right hand side of the vehicles. The milk truck pulled into Utopia Place like usual and true to form Butch took out to chase it like he always did dreaming of the great treats this guy usually had for him when he stopped to bring us milk. The treat that was waiting for Butch was one he never forgot!

I waited until Butch pulled alongside the back tire and poured the water on Butch. He momentarily broke his stride but recovered catching up to the middle of the truck to see who had doused him. He and I made eye contact when he received his second bucket full of water this time realizing that today’s chase was different he let out a couple of yelps but persevered then got another bucket full and tried once more to catch up to the front tire when hit with the 4th bucket full of water. It was at that point he gave up the chase and went back home with a puzzled and dismayed look on his face. He laid down waiting for the truck to return as he was leaving. No move to chase it again. I got off the truck once out of sight of the miserable hound, He saw me coming back home and gave me a halfhearted welcome. He did not realize that it was his master who almost drown him.

In fact Butch wisely decided that it was no longer much fun to chase the cars and trucks if he had to chance another encountering another waterfall. From that moment on Butch realized that all of the people who drove the trucks and gave him snacks still stopped to give him the treat only now he could drop the exhausting chase and still get the treat and not have to experience another flood.

Behavior Modified!!

Little did I know at age 10 that this technique would be come in very handy when redeployed with teenagers. No I never used the “water boarding technique” on my children but the process worked well when redeployed as the kids grew up.

Ralph Taylor - Guest Blogger
For Ed Winkle who today is sailing
on the Danube through Germany

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Editorial Comment:This is for Wednesday November 17th and is written by the real Ed Winkle himself
It has taken me 18 years to get back to the Fatherland. 18 years! I don't know why it took me so long. I guess I never had a good reason to come back before today.

I was accepted into LEAD Class IV at Ohio State in 1991. The 60 day intensive agricultural study over two years with 29 classmates culminated in a 3 week trip to Europe in 1993. We were here in February 1992 or 3, I cannot remember which at this moment and it was the greatest thing that had happened to me at that point in my life.

I love Germany and I love Europe, the roots of my ancestors. I am Celt and German with some Dutch thrown in for good measure. I woke up early this morning anticipating taking LuAnn to my Fatherland later this morning.

I am German through and through. The words and pronunciation is coming back to me. It is a shame my high school did not offer German as it was the only language that interested me when I was told I needed two years of foreign language to attend college back in 1963. My school only offered French and Spanish so I chose French which helped me greatly in our tour of Paris and the Paris Agricultural Show a few years ago.

At this point in our River Danube Oddesey cruise I can say the Abbey at Melk, Austria has been most impressive. Everything has been wonderful, though, and I can highly recommend Vantage Travel to you for your European exploration. They are Europeans who speak English and know their continent very well.

The 160 people on the cruise are well educated and well travelled and in my age group. We have met several new friends we will see again in the future. One is Doug and Mary Bocksteigel from West Bend, Wisconsin, originally from Oak Hills of Cincinnati. We have a lot in common and they are delightful people.

If you mention my name when you sign up for one of Vantage's trips, we both receive a nice little discount. I will share more about that later but this morning I am enjoying telling you about our trip up the Danube from Budapest to almost Germany today.

We will spend the day around Passau, Germany before travelling on up the river.

It has taken me 18 years to get back to this country but I am almost there.

I can't wait to get off the ship and look around.

Ralph, you are doing a great job, just like I imagined and even better. It will take me awhile to digest your well written posts when we return home.

Ed and LuAnn

The Challenges Of Being A Responsible Father

My first wife and I raised 3 children – all girls who are now fully grown and have families of their own. I was very idealistic as a young father. I firmly believed in a tough love approach to handling problems the girls encountered along the way. Our oldest girl, Kim, was pretty savvy in the way she handled her relationship with her parents. She seemed to know how much to tell us and not. Her sister, Pam, the middle child, always seemed to be telling us more than she should which resulted in us working much harder to stay ahead of her escapades. The 3rd girl, Karen, didn’t seem to worry much about what we thought about her activities. From what I hear this is pretty typical of a family with 3 children.

One of the areas that we watched carefully was the choice of friends that I daughters hung around with. The other was the type of music they listened to. Everything was great as they progressed from infancy into the preteen age. All 3 were intelligent – how could they not be with the genes they inherited from their parents? They seemed to socialize well and interacted well with other children and adults. Very respectful and well behaved in public settings.

Then came the teen years! Day to day life changed for our family much like it does for most. Our first born seemed to know how to handle her heightened hormonal levels – picked great companions, excelled in academics everything progressed smoothly. The story for our middle girl was another matter. Don’t get me wrong – she wasn’t a bad kid – she just got into more trouble than her older sister and, without exception, always got caught. She used to often say that if she did something wrong that I somehow would find out about it and she would get grounded.

She spent ¾’s or her teen years grounded! For example – At fourteen she was “madly in love” with boy 3 years older than her. We thought that was not a good idea and forbid her to see this boy at home. Well you can guess how well that worked. She figured out many ways of making contact with him as close to home as possible. He was determined to see her whether we allowed it or not! One of our neighbors who also had teen daughters informed us that our middle daughter’s boyfriend was climbing the tree in front of the house and sitting outside her bedroom window to smoke and talk with her through the screen.

I thought to myself “How dare she and he defy our rule that Pam could not see this boy”. I announced at dinner one night that I would be leaving for a meeting at church around 8 PM or so. Around that time I got our baseball bat out of the closet and hid in the backyard waiting for Pam’s true love to climb the tree at the front porch. About 8:45 or so I felt sure that he was a no show but decided to wait a little longer since her quiet time before lights out began at 8:15. Sure enough he arrived around 9 PM and climbed the tree. I snuck around to the front underneath his only escape route. I listened for a minute or so to the chatter going on from the roof outside her window. I then called out that the jig was up and that I was coming up the tree for a little talk. About halfway up he sped past me knocking me to the ground atop my bat knocking all the air out of my lungs. Great plan but poor execution!

The boy wisely cut off his visits to the front porch and I began creating alternative plans if some other suitor came calling. Their mother suggested that there was a better way to handle the situation and that was for me to simply tell our daughter how neat her boyfriend was that she brought to meet us. Do that and we'll not see him again.

“What? Are you nuts?” I exclaimed! She convinced me to give it a try. Pam brought her new beau home to meet us. He had a leather vest on but no shirt and razor blade earrings and a stud in his tongue. I was cordial with him with him. Pam suspected that I must not have looked closely at him when he came in. After he left Pam asked what I thought about him. “He seemed like a pretty neat kid” was all I could manage to come out of my mouth. Much to my surprise – that kid never entered our house again. My wife was right! Much easier than physical confrontation!

Live and learn! Later this week I’ll share how to handle a runaway kid. You’ll enjoy it! One of my better moments as a stern disciplinarian 

Have a great Tuesday!

Ralph Taylor
Blogging for Ed Winkle who is on vacation in middle Europe.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Home Heating Miracle

Ever think back about how home heating has improved over the years? I did this morning as I opened my eyes and stepped out of bed to a warm home without having to go down to the basement and stoke the furnace. Everything is on automatic today whereas in my childhood it took considerable time and effort to heat the house. We heated our home in 1940’s and 50’s with a coal burning furnace – a huge monster sitting in the middle of our basement with 30 foot 5 inch galvanized arms going out in all directions to each of the registers – looked like a giant octopus! There was little room for anything else in our basement because the furnace took up all of the available space. This setup was pretty modern compared to many of our neighbors who had wood burning furnaces that required a lot more work to be comfortable in the winter.

The fuel for our furnace was coal. It was delivered once or twice each winter to our driveway by a huge dump truck – Guess everything when I was young seemed huge. My job was to shovel each truck full of coal into our coal room next to the furnace. What a job! Not only was there a lot of coal in every truck load but it was dirty!

Stoking the furnace was also dirty job – seems a wonder to me that I didn’t contract black lung disease or the like. We had to shake down all of the burnt embers and ashes to the bottom reservoir. The fresh coal was shoveled from the coal room into a feeder box on the side of the furnace. Most houses had a furnace that had to have someone shovel coal in a door in the front every few hours or so. Not ours – it had an automatic feeder. Somehow it knew when to add more and it magically dumped more in the main chamber.

Another job I was assigned was to shovel out the ashes from the bottom of this monster. I’d shovel it into “ash cans” the size of today’s garbage cans which I struggled to the front curb on garbage day each week.
Another neat feature was the thermostat on ours was a series of chains hooked to a thermometer. When the temperature hit a certain minimum set point, it pulled a chain which in turn pulled on several other chains which caused more coal to be fed to the furnace and louvers to be opened allowing the gravity fed hot air to be dispersed into the rooms. We were fortunate because my Grandpa Ralph was an engineer who designed these automatic features into the heating system. Most people did not have much of this and therefor had more to do to get the house warm in the mornings.

We eventually graduated to natural gas fed furnaces and then to forced air propane hot water in floor heating that we have in our country home today. In fact we just upgraded to geothermal system for both heating and cooling. All of the heat is extracted from the water circulating through tubes under the ground that is pumped through the heat pump in our basement. This heat pump occupies a 4 foot by 3 foot by 4 foot area in our basement. It sounds much like a dehumidifier - super quiet! . This small unit heats the water that flows through tubing buried in the floors in 4 different zones on the first floor, second floor, basement and garage – each separately thermostatically controlled. The heat pump is quiet, clean, 40% as costly to operate as the propane boiler that it replaced and has a dramatically smaller carbon footprint to boot. This same heat pump heats our tap water to 135 degrees, heats our hot tub and cools the water to 42 degrees for air conditioner in the Spring and Summer.

When I stepped out of bed this morning it was to a warm floor heated with geothermally heated water. What a change over the “good old days” with no smoke billowing out the chimney, no coal dust in the basement no ashes to put out to the garbage trucks – just warmth, comfort and quiet.

Good to be living in the 21st century!

Here is wishing you a wonderful, productive week!

Ralph Taylor Guest Blogger for Ed Winkle

Ed and his wife LuAnn are in Middle Europe on a much deserved cruise vacation. He’ll be back in the saddle sometime next week before Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Developing and Testing Plant Growth Modifiers

When Ed asked me to host the Hymark Blog while he is gone I was somewhat concerned. I had a concern that it will soon become obvious that I am not an agriculturist like him nor a farmer and have very little to tell you about that will be of interest to his Blog members. To be honest that was an assumption on my part that the only people registered in this site are interested only in agriculture. And then I remembered one development area that may be of interest albeit in floriculture not agriculture.

When most people think about Procter & Gamble they envision laundry detergents, Mr. Clean, Mr. Wipple and Charmin toilet tissue. Believe it or not P&G was in the agricultural chemicals business too. That, in fact, is the part of P&G that I was in during the early part of my career
I headed up one agricultural chemicals project that resulted in a great chemical pinching agent! Some plants, like azaleas, are grown for sale to home and garden stores. The larger, more compact the plants with greater the number of flowers present when ready for sale the more the plant is worth. There are several ways to increase the number of flowers but all azalea growers do so by promoting branching through pinching the apical meristem or growing tip. This causes the lateral shoots to emerge. There are as many potential shoots as there are leaf nodes but usually only the top 4 or 5 lateral shoots develop into new branches

The product I developed was an emulsified methyl ester, which when sprayed on ornamentals burned out the apical meristem creating a pinched growing tip for each stem on the plant. That stem would branch out onto 4 or 5 lateral shoots, each of which set flower. Manual pinching is usual a very tedious and labor intensive effort. Most of the growers trim the azaleas like hedges which removes a lot of the growth and thus it takes longer to reach size and compactness.
Diluting a chemical pinching agent with water and spraying the plants with a spray boom is all that is needed for one person to pinch many more plants per person and in much less time than manual pinching or hedge trimming. I proved this at many nurseries by challenging the pinching crew to contest produce saleable plants the traditional way against me who wielded on a sprayer, sprayer and bottle of my great new product. Needless to say – I won every growing season. If sprayed at the right time and frequency – the plants I treated were larger, more compact and had many more flowers set than those manually pinched. The cost was 10% of production manually pinched.

What a sight that was in one particular azalea nursery in Jacksonville North Carolina to see this city slicker take off his tie and get ready to start the race. I started mixing the chemical pinching agent as soon as the starting gun went off. The pinching crew of 12 began pinching their 4 million seedlings by hand. Once my solution was shaken and I donned the back pack sprayer – I caught up quickly treating my 4 million seedlings with a spraying. I finished my 4 million plants in 34 minutes whereas the 12 pinchers finished 6 ½ hours later to do the same number. It took only 3 treatments to reach the desired quality chemically whereas it took twice as long and lots more labor by hand.

P&G decided to concentrate on the household products and sold the agricultural chemicals products and I moved on to others areas of the company but that is about the only area that I could talk about that might be of interest. There may be others but we will see.

Have a great week ahead!

Ralph Taylor
For Ed Winkle

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ukrainian Church Partnership Mission

Happy Saturday!

I am Ralph Taylor hosting Ed Winkle’s Hymark Blog while he and he pretty spouse travel through Middle Europe.

Ever Thought Of Doing Missionary Work?

Neither did I until I was approached by my Pastor in 1997. I was an Elder for26 years in a Church of Christ Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Around year 20 our Pastor asked me to stop by his office to discuss a special project he wanted me to consider. Certainly was not prepared to hear what his offer was about. Underand that I was at that point Director of Quality Assurance for the Procter & Gamble Company. He told me that our church was strongly considering a new mission project that required someone to raise money to support the project. Why did he decide that I would be the choice for fund raiser? – I asked. He thought with my business background and stature in the corporate world that I would be a natural at fund raising. I told him that I knew nothing about missionary work but also knew that Churches of Christ are all independent of one another and seldom did joint projects like the one he was proposing. Exactly why I chose you for the job" he responded. "P&G trains their managers to tackle the impossible".

As it turned out – we needed $250,000 a year to support two ministers and their families to live in the Ukraine – a country of the Soviet Union. Two churches there had requested a sister church in the USA to partner with them to re-learn how to conduct worship and consul the congregation. They had lost their skills under the oppression of the Soviet government. Wow! What a challenge! Could not let that one go! Never realized that this was mission work. I didn’t have to have training to be a minister or go any place. I solicited funds from 16 other churches to help us fund this project. All told we had raised $285,000 for year one.

Now that was easy enough! “Well that is not all we need you o do” says the Pastor. "We want you to be the Mission Field Manager. You need to visit the mission site to make sure that everything is going smoothly and take cash with you since there was no other way to get the funds transferred" Why? because the USA and Soviet Union did not have mechanisms in place to handle this at the time. I ended up travelling from Cincinnati to Kiev Ukraine 15 times from 1988 through 1992 during the time right before, during and after the Soviet Union collapsed. Each trip I carried between $30,000- $40,000 in $20 dollar bills each trip. Got to stay with Ukrainian families each time. What a thrill this was! I spent all of my 5 weeks vacation every year travelling back and forth to the Ukraine helping our missionaries do their work

One of life’s treasures! Meeting people of other cultures. Conducting mission work part of the year and managing quality control the rest of the year in the corporate world. More stories about this missionary project later if Ed is away long enough 
Hope your weekend is restful and calm.

Talk more with you tomorrow morning.

Ralph Taylor

For Ed Winkle

Friday, November 12, 2010

Good Morning Blogsters – This is Ralph Taylor – Ed’s Sub – Do You Have A Feline Companion?

I never had a cat in my life before we moved to the country. We met our first two when we stopped by our local post office here in Martinsville Ohio a week or so after we moved in. Two little kittens came up to our car before and before we could get out – jumped in. Both wrapped themselves around my wife’s neck purring up a storm. We took them inside to see who they belonged to. The Postmaster indicated “they had been left there abandoned the evening before – they were ours for the taking”. Great – Both my wife and I are allergic to cat dander! We put them back outside the Post Office and went on to the appointment we were headed to when we stopped. We just could not get those affectionate cats out of our heads – sitting there during the cold nights outside the post office.

We stopped on the way back home to give them some food. Big mistake! They are still eating our food today 9 years later. These two cats, Prince and Pyewackette, have pretty typical behavior of cats from what I understand in that they can be very affectionate when it suits them but normally pretty stand-offish”. Those moments when I am intently discussing business on the telephone sitting out on the deck is when one or both jumps into my lap full of papers and will not let me carry on anything – talk on the phone nor take notes. This is their time to get attention whether or not I am available or ready to give it. These are their moments! When I dare bother them calling them in for the night or want to show them off to visitors – they will not come close enough for me to pick them up!

We have since acquired two black cats, one a short hair called, yes - you’re hearing this right, Tom, Tom Cat, and the other a long haired Maine Coon called Whispers. Both of these cats actually enjoy being around us.

Whispers, the Maine Coon in picture, is the beautiful cat with soft long fur and golden eyes shown in the picture above. She just loves to sit in my lap to watch TV or while I am working on the computer – in fact is in my lap right now. When you come into a room that she is in – she greets you with a short meow. She responds to anything you say to her, almost sounding as though she is trying to engage you in a conversation with her. She has no claws front or back and as such does no damage to anything. Her favorite laying stance is on her back with her feet in the air. When she is forced to do something she doesn’t feel like doing she “growls” and for a long time grumbles as she walks away – full disgusted with the request.
I have always had a dog and now have 3.
I must say however that I missed having a life-time of feline companionship until we moved to the country – Now we have 4 cats - ahh - the country life!

TGIF!!! This is Ralph Taylor wishing each of you a great weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran’s Day Thoughts
I have never been in the military myself so I can not speak as a veteran but am certainly thankful for all of you out there who did serve this nation in the military. This service allows us to remain the free and independent country we are today. Sure we could do a better job managing the politics of governing this country and we could do a better job of regulating our capitalistic economy but our basic freedoms have historically been protected by our military since signing the Declaration of Independence many years ago. We have been involved in many wars over the years but the current war is the first one that does not seem to involve a single country but an ideology of radical Islam and its influence over groups in several countries, the most recent originating in Yemen. We are now negotiating with Yemen government trying to gain authorization for conducting targeted drone attacks – yet another country involvement in our efforts to combat al Qaeda internationally.
My Step Father, Frederick Schweinlin, was one of several hundred thousand USA troops who joined Allied forces in Normandy, France, during Operation Overlord in World War II. The invasion was the largest amphibious operation in history. He used to tell me a little about the terror that the young men experienced as the amphibious landing craft neared the Omaha Beach on that day in early June 1944. They could hear arterial fire all around them and then the front gate of the carrier opened and the troops poured out of the 4100 carriers wading their way onto shore in the middle of bullets penetrating the water all around them. He survived that battle and several more that came later as they defeated Hitler and then came home to resume life as American citizens. He continued serving his fellow citizens as a fireman.
I do extensive volunteer work in a soup kitchen in Wilmington Ohio. I frequently run into veterans who have served in active combat in the several different wars of the 20th and 21st centuries. For some of these veterans their sacrifices are obvious since they have artificial limbs but others are not so obvious in mental scars that came from the terrifying experiences of combat. One of our neighbors just had one of his hips replaced, recently had a pacemaker installed and wears a colostomy bag to facilitate every day bodily functions – all due to injuries experienced when injured as a marine in the Korean conflict. I see many others who have artificial limbs to replace limbs blown off by roadside bombs. For these and millions I have not personally met – I am thankful every time I go into the voting booths or while praying in church or choose the variety of foods we buy or walk the streets of our cities and country side without fear.
This day November 11th is a day set aside by congress to pay special honor to all of our veterans, Click on the video link below:

Thanks vets! Thanks!!!
Ralph Taylor for Ed Winkle

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Free Range Chickens

When I was 12 years old I visited the farm of an aunt and cousins with my mom and step Father for Thanksgiving. We were anticipating a great chicken dinner with all the trimmings when my aunt announced that she needed someone to go out and collect the eggs and I volunteered. After lots of instructions I took off for the barn to complete my mission. Little did I realize that there were 3 barns and missed the description about the barn the chickens were in that are laying the eggs. The first barn had a couple of hogs and sheep in it but no chickens. The second had chickens in it opening out into the barnyard. The 3rd barn had several shelves in it with compartments on them. Most of them had chickens in them. Several were empty with 1 – 3 eggs on the straw nest.
This was the first time I ever saw a chicken coup with real live chickens and eggs under most everyone there. I had 4 pockets in my jeans, 2 in my shirt and two in my jacket. I started loading eggs into each pocket. I tried yelling at the chickens but they did not run away daring me to take their eggs. I got pecked and flapped by their wings as they tried to back me off. I had 28 eggs in my pockets and 3 in each hand when I ran out of places to stick them. I started back to the house to unload my bounty.
About half way back to the house I felt something wet against my leg and then the other one. Something was wrong! By the time I reached the door – my shoes seemed to be getting water-logged. I gave the eggs in my hands to my aunt and then went for the eggs in my jacket pockets – all but one in each pocket had broken and everything was very gooey! Needless to say that this event followed me all through my life through several generations of family until today.
Next came the final preparation for the dinner – harvesting the chickens. I had no idea what was to follow. My aunt grabbed a rooster by the neck and chopped its head off so fast I didn’t realize it had happened. As soon as she released the chicken’s neck it began running around the yard spewing blood all around until it collapsed. This was followed by another headless chicken running around. Nothing like anything else I had ever seen. Very traumatic for sure!
During out 3rd year in our country home my wife suggested we try raising our own chickens. Immediately the vision of those chickens running around the yard with their heads off came to mind. Not for me! My wife talked me into it and we ordered chicks from McMurray Hatcheries to arrive in a month and began constructing the free range cage for them. It was amazing! The chicks came into our post office very tiny chicks and within 7 short weeks they grew to over 6 pounds. We could see them get larger and larger day by day. All they did was eat drink and poop. In the last couple of weeks they had a very difficult time walking more than 3 or 4 steps and had to sit down to rest.
We took them to a processor who killed, defeathered, and slaughtered them and put them in vacuum packs ready for the freezer. Not at all like I saw at the farm. No chickens running around with their heads off. Those chickens tasted great!
We have produced 50 chickens every year since. We also now have layers in laying cages that produce fresh eggs daily. Nothing like this farm life! Who would have ever dreamed those words would ever come out of my mouth?

Ralph Taylor - Guest Blogger

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

City Slicker Life In Cincinnati

I was born at 9:05 AM Eastern Time (no daylight savings time then) April 12, 1942 at Bethesda Hospital in Cincinnati, OH about 5 months after the invasion of Normandy in WWII. The population of Cincinnati is now around 350,000 whereas the Cincinnati Metropolitan Area has a population of nearly 2,200,000 as of 2007 estimates. The reason is that Cincinnati is nestled in the SW corner of Ohio surrounded by other cities in Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana. If, as predicted for the last several decades, population growth continues primarily in the communities, North of Cincinnati and South of Dayton, the two communities will merge creating the 14th largest metropolitan area in the USA with 3.2 million people.
So, yes, the Greater Cincinnati is much larger than the city limits gives it credit for. My parents divorced when I was 2 years old so I spent half my life growing up in Mount Lookout in the Hyde Park community if Cincinnati and the other half in the gas-light district of Clifton about 20 miles apart, both well within the city limits. Mount Lookout had several prominent citizens that spent a good share of their lives there – Doris Day lived at the end of my (and her) street – Utopia Place. That was the street where I learned how to ride a two wheeler and where my Dad and I built a 20 foot cabin cruiser imaging the whole time what a tremendous job God gave Noah as He commissioned Noah to build the huge ark! Another prominent citizen of Mount Lookout in Hyde Park was “Uncle Al” and “Captain Wendy” Lewis of the Uncle Al show. This was one of the first big regional children’s shows in this new media called Television.

In Clifton I perfected my bike riding on the new but unopened portion of interstate 75 that ultimately would run from Hialeah Florida through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan ending in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at the Canadian Border at Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.
My Grandfather Ralph, my namesake, was an Engineer for the Cincinnati wing of the RKO Theatres. He once arranged for me to accompany Broderick Crawford when he came to promote a film in which he was starring. What a tough guy he was not only in the films but in real life!
I attended primary and secondary schools in Clifton graduating from Hughes High School, moved across the street to the University of Cincinnati graduating with a BS in Math and Chemistry. Was hired by Procter & Gamble, the first company I applied to. I married the year after. Produced 3 beautiful girls living in College Hill, and Colerain two other Cincinnati suburbs. I really spent most of the career years travelling to other places spending almost 75% of my time out of town.
I was very active in area churches serving as an Elder for 26 years. My first wife and I divorced after a 10 year struggle she had with substance abuse that she refused to get professional help. We were married for 31 years. About 6 years later I met my 2nd wife, Donna, who has introduced me to a whole new world of Jazz, County and Rock. I had no idea who Elton John, The Boss, Train, Billy Joel, Stevie Nick were or the songs they made popular. She convinced me that it would be great if I took our blended family of 3 girls and one son plus our 6 grandchildren we had then (10 now) to see Aerosmith. Boy was that an initiation! She is a great chef in her own right. I have tasted some of the best dishes known to man (or women) through her great talents!
I retired from P&G after 38 years and soon after my wife said one day “we should move to the country” That began the transition to Clinton County Ohio where we now live.
Ralph Taylor - Guest Blogger

Monday, November 8, 2010

Good Monday Morning Hymark Bloggers!

I am Ralph Taylor, the guy Ed told you yesterday would be filling-in for him while he and his lovely wife LuAnn are travelling in Central Europe. Why ask a city slicker to host an agricultural blog? Good question! I have little to contribute to the subject matter I have read about in most of the 700 + columns that he has written in the last couple of years.

Since I have had a completely different background than Ed - he thought might be a great change from his writings. Ed is my close friend of mine but I know exactly why he asked me to carry on his blog while he is gone. You will be so happy to once again hear his farm stories when he returns to this blog after 2 + weeks of enduring Ralph’s writing. 

I certainly qualify as a city slicker having lived within the Cincinnati borders for the first 60 years of my life. We moved to Clinton County in 2001 after searching for a “country home with some acerage”. Our real estate agent took us to see several properties that were good but not great. One day she took us on a journey to Clinton County, two counties away from Hamilton Country. It took almost 1 hour 20 minutes to get to a little town called Blanchester with another 15 minutes to a town called Martinsville, Ohio. Our real estate agent certainly knew for sure what it must be to take a trip with children because I must of asked her a hundred times on the way out here “are we almost there”?

We drove down this narrow road, crossed a single lane covered bridge and turned into the gravel driveway. We drove up the hill-laden and as we neared the top saw a 2 story home and very large red barn. Needless to say we knew from the first glance that this was the place we were looking for. Never did I imagine ever living in the country far away from the museums, music hall, Cincinnati neighborhoods with houses right next to each other.

We live outside of Martinsville in Clinton County. The population in our township-postal zone is 1800 + people compared to our previous postal zone of approximately the same space in Cincinnati is 23,000+. The amount of land we owned in Cincinnati was about 1/3 acre whereas here we have 21 acres. The homes here are a half mile apart where in Cincinnati we maybe had 20 feet between! The Martinsville Covered Bridge that we admired on our first visit here turns out to be on the North West corner of our property. What a great thing to have adjacent to one’s home – a covered bridge! We love the country life and wonder how I survived without it so long!
I have learned a lot about Farming from our friend Ed. Not so much to make me a farmer but enough to appreciate what you all do to provide food for our table and animals that become our food. It will take me another decade or so of intense study to become a farmer - after all you can take the city boy to the country but can not take the slicker entirely out.

Tomorrow – Cincinnati “Slicker” life

Sunday, November 7, 2010


We are going on a little sabbatical so I have asked Ralph Taylor to write for me while we are gone.

I met Ralph and Donna when we lived in Blanchester. We used to see each other at the Winedog's Cafe across the street of Jim's Tire and Auto.

When we bought this place in 2004, we found out they were our neighbors! We have farmed the tillable part of their farm ever since and even went on a cruise together. Gee, that seems like years ago.

Ralph is a retired chemist from Proctor and Gamble and is active in the food pantry in Wilmington but I will let him tell you all about it if he wishes too.

Like me, he has seen a lot in his lifetime and has a lot of wisdom and hopefully stories to tell.

I will talk to you soon but until then, check in to see what Ralph has to say!

I was looking at my blog stats last night and we have readers all over the world! Many of you check in once a week or so to see what is up with us but some of you take a look every day as I have worked very hard to post something new every day.

Thanks a million, Ralph and all you readers!

Ed Winkle

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Be Careful What You Post

Someone made a mistake of saying on croptalk that Ohio was covered with trees before man and had 1-2 inches of topsoil. I think he claimed our productive soil was due to years of plowing!

You know it only takes a few minutes to see that Ohio and the midwest soil was formed by glaciers. Everything that has happened since has affected what we have today but it all started with the Big White Plow.

Soil Regions 1 through 8 represent the portion of Ohio that was covered by glacial ice during one or more glaciations. That is the gray part of the picture. Most people think that IS Ohio. The most common soils in these regions formed in glacial deposits. The older glacial deposits are in Regions 7 and 8. Most of the soils in the glaciated part of the state are very deep to bedrock.

The most common soils in Regions 9 through 12 formed in materials weathered from sedimentary rocks. Because soil forms more slowly from bedrock than from unconsolidated glacial material, soils in Regions 9 through 12 tend to be more shallow to bedrock than soils in Regions 1 through 8. Weathered rock, that is good for pature, trees and hiking!

Soil Regions 1, 3, 4, 7 and 9 occur in the part of Ohio where limestone, dolomite and limy shales are the most common bedrocks, and so the soils in these regions tend to have a relatively high lime content in the substratum. The glacial deposits in Regions 2, 5, 6, and 8 have a lower lime content. In most of Regions 10, 11 and 12 the soils formed in materials weathered from acid sedimentary rocks, mainly sandstone, siltstone and shale. Remember dolomite is magnesium rock and calcitic rock is high in calcium. Most of Ohio is Dolomitic rock formed.

Soils naturally become more acid over time under Ohio's weather conditions, but soils with lime in the substratum are neutral or only slightly acid in part of the subsoil. Since most plant nutrients are chemically active under neutral or slightly acid conditions, soils with more lime in the substratum are generally more fertile for crop production. Ohio farmers commonly increase crop yields by spreading lime to neutralize the acidity of the topsoil and the upper part of the subsoil.
Ohio is a pretty neat state for many reasons. It's location in the midwest, mid-atlantic and the way it was formed makes it the neat state it is.
Tomorrow I will introduce you to a friend who will write this page while we take a little sabbatical.
Be Careful What You Post!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Soybean Goes to London

This week, American Soybean Association has been busy with meetings in London. President Rob Joslin of nearby Sidney, Ohio has been busy.

You need to watch his powerpoint and see what is up with soybeans in the world. It is a good presentation and I was reminded how far we have come in production methods in a very short time.

"American Soybean Association (ASA) President Rob Joslin was at the ExCel Centre in London this week to give a presentation at CropWorld 2010, "Producing More with Less: The business, science, trade & technology of sustainable global crop production." Joslin was one of the 100 international speakers presenting during the two-and-a-half day event.

Keynote speakers included Maive Rute, Director of Biotechnologies, Food and Agriculture Research from the European Commission, James Paice, a Member of the British Parliament and Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Katherine Smith, Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.

Joslin’s presentation, titled "Following the Life of the Soybean," provided participants with an overview of the many natural challenges (diseases, weeds, pests) farmers must overcome to profitably grow the food, feed and fuel the world needs. The presentation also features a contrast between conventional and conservation tillage practices, and highlights the benefits of precision farming technologies. View Joslin’s PowerPoint presentation. "

The GMO seed costs should get your attention, whether you farm or no because it affects our bottom line. People are always amazed when I share my seed costs. I have the decision of whether to plant non GMO or GMO soybeans for 2011 and the data available leans me to LL soybeans next year. They were my most profitable crop with the best weed control this year.

"Although organic production was a major topic, much discussion occurred on the need to double the world food supply by 2050 in an environmentally sustainable manner," Joslin said. "I got the impression that the industry is more frustrated with the anti-GMO attitude than they are supportive, and I think my presentation about how various farm technologies fit together into an overall beneficial system was well received by the audience."

CropWorld 2010, formerly the BCPC (British Crop Production Council) Congress, attracted more European companies than in pervious years and a broader spectrum of attendees from finance, food buyers and retailers, farming technology, packaging and universities.

Agriculture is in the world news and soybeans are getting lots of notice with reduced protein supplies worldwide.

It's an exciting time for farming.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I was hungry yesterday morning so I thought I would treat myself to a local diner I haven't been to.

It is only five miles away and is called Stephanie's. It sits on the corner of a busy curve on SR 28 in New Vienna, five miles east of us. They are open 7 to 2 daily and specialize in breakfast and lunch.

My friend Jan told me I needed to try the "Slumbucket" some day I was hungry. It was chopped up and grilled sausage, onions, peppers, and homefries with eggs and cheese to hold it together.

It was really good but you need to be hungry before you try it! There is one in New York they have a name for like that I will have to ask about again. The name came up in a discussion at the funeral Friday.

Here is what a writer said on a Google search:

Stephanie'sStephanie's Diner is another excellent choice for a first date, and it has an easy to get to location at 142 W. Main St. in New Vienna. If you are more of a standard dinner date style individual then Stephanie's Diner would have the environment that you would prefer. They have a fairly standard rural menu,, with a very hospitable service team. In particular the waitresses that I have had personal interaction with were very friendly and service oriented. For dinner, drinks, and dessert the tab would run you and average of $25-30. I give this location a nine out of ten for good food, excellent service, and a clean environment.

I don't think I would quite go that far but they were right about quality and hospitality. I wonder if the writer ever ate there? It is like they plug in a town name and you read their ratings on various establishments.

It was good, Stephanie but I think that write up is an Internet gimmick.

Ed Winkle