Falkirk Wheel

 A few years ago, when Luella and I went to visit her son, Joe, in Scotland he took me to see the Falkirk Wheel.  It is one spectacular invention.  There is a huge museum there to show you how the canal system moved a lot of commerce over a hundred years before the railroads.There are literally hundreds of fancy yachts today that can use this system to move a sizeable luxury ship or boat from the Western to the Eastern side of the land. 

Falkirk Wheel - Above

In the beginning there were two canals:

The first, Canal Forth and Clyde, was built in 1777 between the harbors of Grangemouth and Falkirk connecting Glasgow with the west cost of Scotland.

The second, Canal Union, between Falkirk and Edinburgh was finished in 1822.

Because of geographical difficulties, which created a difference of 79ft.in elevation, the two canals were connected by 11 locks.

In 1963, after 150 years of existence of this water way with 11 locks the construction of a huge water carousel started. This extraordinary idea was finished in 2002 and became a symbol of Scotland. This invention saves not only time but also energy.  

Falkirk Wheel - Below 

This is the only rotational boat transporter in the world. It has two arms and each arm forms a kind of huge tub filled with water. Boats enter the tub either at the higher canal or the lower one, then the tub locks up and the huge arm starts rotating.

The “tubs” are filled according the Archimedes’ Law.  So the weight of “tubs” are nearly balanced.  To open the upper and lower lock and turn the whole system by 180◦ they need an engine of 22.5 kW which only uses 1.5 kWh

 Falkirk Wheel - rotating

Here’s a link to a 7 minute video showing a boat going into the tub and then being rotated up to the upper canal.

It is a very interesting place to visit.

The canal system is still a very beautiful way to travel across Scotland.

It is probably one of the most interesting mechanical devices I have ever seen.  It was a fun day.

Excitement on May 16

Excitement on May 16

You never know when you wake up in the morning what are all the potential surprises in store for you as the day unfolds.

From the perspective that I enjoy the picture and plan of our lives is in the hands of the creator.  We only think we are in charge. 

This morning was not particularly unusual.  My wife, Janice was very pregnant in fact the Doctor’s Last exam had assured her that things were normal and they predicted the birthday would be sometime next week.

We lived very near the new Clinic we had built and it was located on a small farm on the East Edge of Brighton, Colorado.  May was one of the busiest months in our practice because we were trying to get all the calves vaccinated, dehorned if they needed it and we would castrate the bull calves.  In 1957 a large part of that sort of animal husbandry was done by the veterinarian.  We wanted to get most of that done before the flies and maggots would be a challenge.

The new hay would soon be ready to cut and spring was in the air.

Except that morning it was snowing.  It was going to change some of our appointments perhaps so I headed to the office.  My first job would be to turn the dogs out to the small exercise run we had and clean the cages. Yes, back in those days in a new small animal clinic we did the work ourselves. For some reason we didn’t have many farm calls that morning so I was back at the clinic at about 10:00AM

Janice called the clinic and asked if we were busy and I told her that not at the moment we were not.

She said she wasn’t sure but maybe we should head to the hospital this afternoon.

Dr. Bill Waddell was not only our doctor but had become a dear friend.  He began his practice in 1951 the same year I went to work with Dr. John Thimmig as new vet graduate.

[

Little Orphan Annie

Little Orphan Annie

I had a few rabbits and a few sheep and was just starting in the 4H club.   

The phone rang one day and it was Frank S. Aichelman the son of Uncle Frank that I have already talked about. 

Frank had a few sheep and one of the ewes had twins and would not take care of one of the babies.  He asked my mother if  it was OK with her if he could give me the orphaned lamb. 

Mom asked me and of course I was excited for the opportunity.  Frank drove in the yard a few minutes later with this poor scrawny little lamb.  He  explained that she needed to be kept warm and suggested for a few days that she get about 3 ounces of milk per feeding from a nursing bottle. 

Mom still had a bottle or two left from taking care of my brother Bud and so I began to try to feed the lamb with mom’s coaching and help.  I don’t think it took very many days for the lamb to sleep all night and of course she and I became good friends.  I had a dog named Towser and a pigeon I had saved from some sort of problem so if I went to the field to thin my  sugar beets Mom could see where I was.

I  was on my hands and knees thinning beets and wasn’t much good at it.  But she could see the dog or the pigeon or the lamb because they were watching me work.

[

The day the bank closed

The day the bank closed.

The main cash crop for the farms around Brighton Colorado was the Sugar Beet.  There were three beet checks and the last one of the year was the last Friday in October.

The Sugar Beet Check was the one the farmer used to settle the accounts with the suppliers who helped him raise the crop.

There were three checks and the first two were usually spent to defray the labor cost to get the beets ready for  the growth period that got the beets grown big enough for harvest.  We planted them as early as the ground was warm enough to have the seeds germinate and they kept on growing until they were finally stopped by frost.

The sugar beet seeds grew in a cluster so that when the beets came up in the spring they needed to be thinned so that the beet could grow separated from others in order for it to reach its optimum size.   If the beets were not thinned, the tonnage for the crop would not pay the expense of growing it.   If the beets were allowed plenty of room and nutrients for growth they could become much larger and of course were more valuable. 

The worker who thinned the beats would use a short handled hoe and work either stooped over, or worked on his hands and knees and removed the beets so that the beets were 8 to 12 inches apart.

When the beets were thinned they were cultivated with either a horse drawn device or a tractor that had knives that cut the weeds that naturally invade any crop.  The second cultivation put a small ditch between the rows of beets so they could be watered with irrigation.  Then they might need to be cultivated another time and maybe had to be gone through with a hoe to remove the weeds. 

[

Sugar beets farming story

 Sugar Beets

One of the major crops in his development of agriculture in Colorado was the sugar beet and it had a major impact on the economy and brought many different racial segments to the population.  These are the recollections I remember with great joy in thinking about the ways working in the sugar beet fields gave me some jobs and allowed me to meet countless other people who were in the sugar beet business. 

The sugar beet was first and foremost a cash crop which meant it would return more dollars per acre than most other crops…  The disadvantage was that it needed a factory to process the sugar from it.  Unless there was a factory the common farmer had no way to refine the sugar.

The Sugar Beet Factory in Brighton, Colorado was built in the early 1900s.  It was started by getting farmers to give some money to begin the construction and I am sure there were some wonderful stories about the faith and vision and foresight of the men and women who conceived the idea and made it happen.  There were factories in Germany and I am sure some of the German immigrant farmers could see the opportunity to have a crop that would give those cash…

The other factor was the railroad which went through Brighton on its connection between Denver and Laramie Wyoming.  That line was completed in 1872 and became a wonderful way for farmers to get their produce to the Denver market.

[

The Last Squad Club

Shortly after the war ended in 1946 there was a big crowd of returning veterans who came home to Brighton, Colorado as victorious heroes.

Brighton was a small town, maybe 3000 people, in a wonderful farm community about 20 miles north of Denver.

It was blessed to have a strong American Legion Chapter composed of WWI vets.

They were the uncles, dads and employers of the returning WWII vets and were actively recruiting all of the returning vets and we of course enjoyed swapping stories of where we had been and what we had done .

The WWI vets has a club called the last squad club. They met on Armistice day every year and hired a caterer for a T-bone steak dinner.  At the dinner they would have a short program but it was a powerful format.

The president would call to order.

[

The End in Europe – Chapter 6

I want to inject someplace what a joy and privilege it has been for me to have a break in my day to day life to do something completely different than I usually do.  I haven’t made a sales call for a week.  I have played with my grandsons and know that my dad was right when he said, You never get any closer to heaven than you are when you are playing with our grandchildren.”  As I was writing this final chapter, some of the zip went out of my enthusiasm and I didn’t keep my usual habit of saving my work as I went.  I had an emergency call to rescue Alex from sort of peril and when I came back I punched some button and it was the wrong button and I simply could not find the chapter I had written.

I was telling Dana that I needed to do the last chapter over because of an error in keeping my records straight and she said it would have upset her to do it.  I told her that it had happened before and that I needed to do it again for some reason.  When I woke up in the middle of the night, I knew what I had left out and why my writing had ceased to be the pleasure it had been. 

This is the great key.  It can be measured by the wisdom of the hundreds of thousands of prisoners we took in the last few weeks of combat.  The word was out.  Russia, thru our democrat’s bungling at Yalta, was to receive the lion’s share of the territory in Eastern Europe.  The lines were drawn and those who were already displaced wanted to wind up in the American Sector.

The people of the World know that America is the great power and the great Nation.  The reason America was great is because her people were great.  Her people were great because of a deep faith in God Almighty.   Sadly, today some of the accusations of Islamic people about the US being the great Satan are true.  Our ACLU, the liberal democrat judges who have made law by interpreting the constitution according to their whims and the power of the Liberals like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and other black leaders who make a business of stirring up problems about how the black child is disadvantaged have certainly weakened our nation. 

[

Protected Again – Chapter 5

We had successfully breached the Seigfried line and were headed on toward the east.  Our armor would be on the highway just to the east of the line because we had punched several holes thru the line and for all practical purposes the Germans had lost that one and it only took a few days.  We were anxious to meet the armor because we had not had anything to eat since the rations we had carried with us ran out and no vehicle could climb the path we took.

At this point I need to recall a conversation I had with a poor frightened kid from Indiana, I never knew his name.  He was in our squad and was a quiet lad.  He told me he was terrified because he knew he was going to be killed.  I of course told him that was not the correct attitude and tried to get him into a conversation about God and God’s protection.  He would have none of it.

The next day we were headed east in a single file between the blockhouses we had conquered.  I am sure we were visible up and down the line and not all the Germans were unaccounted for.  I was watching him and all of a sudden there was a blinding flash, a huge sound and he literally blew apart.  I will never forget the sight of the smoking foot as it flew past me without the boot.  How the boot was blown off I’ll never know.  Two men in front of him were wounded with shrapnel and one behind me.  I never got a scratch because he absorbed the full force of the mortar shell and it hit him squarely in the middle.  Needless to say we hurried on past that place and fortunately the three wounded could walk. 

I know the danger of ignoring God.  I know the power of the spoken word.  He accurately prophesied his end and I saw it.  I don’t know how you could have a closer call than that.  Even 50 years later the vivid recollection of his death is a reminder to me that God watches over us. 

[

We Smash the Wehrmacht – Chapter 4

Ike’s goal was to so cripple Hitler’s war machine that it would finally have to surrender.  Keep in mind that our goal was unconditional surrender and we would do whatever it took to accomplish that end.  There was no doubt in our mind that we would win and that is one of the big factors that was missing in both the Korean conflict and the stupid war in Viet Nam.  I have to say that when the democrat, Harry Truman fired General MacArthur in Korea because MacArthur wanted to chase the Migs across the Yalu river and was told that the war was to be contained we made a tactical error that has haunted us until a Republican, George Bush, showed us how to win a war.

When an armored division like the Super Sixth decided to attack it was an awesome power.  First we would call for air support and the air force would bomb and strafe the area we were going to attack.  Until you have been under an air attack you don’t know what real terror is.  I was one time and it was soon stopped.  Unless you have air superiority, there is no way ground troops can really win.

When the air attack is ended timing is critical we must be ready to advance and take the objective, whether it was high ground or a town, as soon as the planes stopped our artillery added some insult to the injury of the target.  Then we rode in half tracks if it was tactically feasible, that meant if the resistance was not great we would literally drive thru and shoot anything that moved or if there was an effort to surrender we would accept prisoners, take their weapons and start them to the rear.  I’m sure that toward the end it became easier and easier to get prisoners, because they knew it was hopeless and that way they would be thru fighting and they would live to come home again sometime. 

[

The War Begins For Me – Chapter 3

The winter of 1944-45 was a bitter cold one and the plan of Hitler to make one final desperate push to divide the two armies of England and the US was designed to be a complete surprise.

The allies had won the battles of the hedge rows in the western coast of France, captured Paris and were closing in on the border of Germany.

Hitler’s plan was to strike toward the west and go thru Luxembourg and Belgium and disrupt the supply lines and surround the invaders.  None of the allied command expected an attack with armored divisions in the Ardennes forest.  The terrain didn’t seem to be fit for such a move.  With armor however, it you can attack and get the roads open, divide the enemy and attack from their rear it was a plan that might work.  It almost did.

The 106th infantry division was the first one to feel the awful power of the Wehrmacht.  The Germans had been saving for this attack for months and had assembled the very best they had left.  German engineers developed powerful weapons.  The Tiger tank was better than any we had.  It had speed and excellent armor and most of all carried the 88mm cannon.  The 88 was a very accurate cannon. It could fire armor piercing shells, anti aircraft shells which exploded in the air and filled it with flying bits of shrapnel and hi explosive shells which could blow up on contact so they had some weapons of war far superior to a American GI with an M1 Rifle. 

[