ANN BAILEY: Fall chores and dreams of spring

Living on a farm, even a hobby farm, keeps me in sync with the seasons.

For example, in the spring, our family readies the lawn tractor, prepares the garden soil and plants our fruits and vegetables and hauls out the patio furniture. I don't mind the work because it's fun to prepare for the summer season ahead. It also feels good to be outdoors without being bundled up and to get some physical exercise that doesn't involve shoveling snow.

During the summer, we're busy taking care of the garden, mowing lawns and doing maintenance work on the buildings and fences. We don't really get much time to use the patio furniture, but it looks nice sitting on our front porch.

This year, as we all know, summer was slow in coming, but September helped make up for the late start. Our cantaloupe and watermelon, tomatoes and cucumbers came through in the home stretch and we harvested a bounty of fruits and vegetables. We also picked hundreds, probably even thousands of apples from our tree.


When Ocotber arrived and, with it, unseasonably cold weather, we harvested the remaining vegetables and fruit in our garden. Earlier in the month when a freeze was forecast, we pulled a trailer next to the garden and loaded up about a hundred pumpkins and a fair amount of squash and gourds. The trailer now is parked inside the barn and there's a tarp over the produce to protect it from the cold temperatures.

We plan on giving the bulk of the pumpkins away to family and friends and keeping a few to make Halloween decorations and to carve for jack-o-lanterns. We shouldn't have any problem giving away the squash, either, because it seems to be a popular vegetable with people we know.

The last produce we picked from the garden was the potatoes, which we left in the ground until about a week ago. We were hoping the garden would dry out a bit before we dug the potatoes, but when no warm-up was in sight and the temperatures were predicted to drop into the 20s for several straight days, we decided we better get them out of the garden. It's very disappointing to have vegetables ruined after you've spent the summer nurturing them. Besides, what self-respecting North Dakotan wouldn't want to save their spuds?

Getting prepared

With the fruits of our garden labors safely in storage, we have turned to other fall chores, such as storing the patio furniture, putting on storm doors and windows and cleaning the horse barn. I also call maintenance professionals to get our furnaces checked and have our septic tank cleaned each fall. As far as I'm concerned, an ounce of prevention is worth for both of those systems.

We've accomplished most of those jobs on our list and hope to get the rest finished by the end of the month. I'm counting on the leaves to start falling soon so we can get gutter cleaning, my least favorite fall chore completed. Once the calendar page turns to November, the weather gets more "iffy" and we know there's a chance that what didn't get done, won't.

Sense of accomplishment

As with the spring chores, I also enjoy doing the fall chores. While I feel a little blue about putting away the summer patio furniture and battening down the hatches for winter, I also get some satisfaction from it. I like knowing that we are prepared for the colder weather ahead and that we have plenty of hay on hand to feed the horses through the winter and a good supply of straw to bed them down with stacked in the barn.

It also gives me a sense of security when I have taken inventory of my children's winter hats, coats, snow pants and boots and know that they will be well-clothed when the first blast of cold and/or snow hits.

Though, extreme cold, icy roads and deep snow drifts definitely present challenges and are the downside of North Dakota winters, there's also an upside. Sometimes the weather forces us to stay at home and gives us a respite in our hectic routines. It also offers me and my family a break from mowing, hoeing and weeding the garden and baling hay and straw.

I'm grateful to be living in a place where there are four seasons. There are good things to enjoy about each one of them and the not-so-good things help us to appreciate the things we like even more. After a long cold, winter, I know that when spring rolls around I know I'll be gnashing at the bit to get back in the garden and on the lawnmower. For now, I'm ready to hunker down and wait for what lies ahead.

Exceptional Babe Ruth Game-Used Bat Brings $537,750 at Heritage Auctions

A Babe Ruth game-used bat, dating to the Boston Red Sox' 1918 World Series winning season - arguably the most important piece of lumber from baseball's most iconic player - realized $537,750 at Heritage Auctions Oct. 1-2 Signature(R) Sports Memorabilia Auction.

The auction totaled just more than $4.2 million. All prices include 19.5% Buyer's Premium.

"We saw very solid results across the board," said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports at Heritage Auctions. "The Ruth bat was the icing on the cake in an auction that featured examples from many of the greatest names in sports. Time and time again in this auction we saw totals far exceed the pre-auction estimates multiple times. It shows that demand for the highest quality material, as Heritage Auctions specializes in, will never diminish."

While the bat that Ruth used to crush the first homer on opening day of Yankee Stadium in 1923, a relic which commanded $1.2 million at a December 2004 auction, is the most famous Ruth Bat, the remarkable Hillerich & Bradsby sold at Heritage Auctions not only predates that bat by five years, it is also the "parent" model of all Ruth bats to come. The Babe used the bat extensively throughout the historic 1918 season, making sure it lived up to his demanding specs - and as evidenced by the tightly centralized impact area - before sending it back to the Hillerich & Bradsby factory in Louisville, KY.

The price is the second highest ever realized for a Babe Ruth bat, and the most ever for an unsigned one.

"Besides being one of the most important pieces of baseball memorabilia on the planet," said Heritage Auctions' Ivy, "it's one of the most beautiful pieces you'll ever see, too, with the white ash wood having acquired a deep patina that would make any fine furniture expert envious."

Heritage Auction Galleries is the world's third largest auction house, and by far the largest auctioneer of rare collectibles, with annual sales more than $700 million, and 450,000+ registered online bidder members. For more go to

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Keywords: Heritage Auctions, Baseball, Entertainment, Sports.

This article was prepared by Entertainment Newsweekly editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2009, Entertainment Newsweekly via

ecoATM Installs First eCycling Station to Provide Only Automated Solution for Mobile Phone and Consumer Electronics Trade-ins

ecoATM announced that it has installed its first Automated eCycling Station for eWaste recycling take-back programs and trade-in promotions. The installation at Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha on September 21, 2009, has proven to be an immediate success, both in the number of recycled devices and the resulting trade-up purchases. By automating the buy-back and payment process, the system offers financial incentives to consumers for all used mobile phone models and will soon support other consumer electronics, regardless of their condition.

"The ecoATM makes it easy and convenient for our customers to trade-in and recycle their used mobile phones," said Jay Buchanan, Electronics Division Director, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Inc., America's Largest Home Furnishings Store. "This benefits both our customers and the environment."

"We are extremely pleased with the initial results and consumers' delight with the system," said Mark Bowles, CEO, ecoATM Inc. "ecoATM's solution finally makes it easy for consumers to give their used phones a second life or to recycle them. Over 100 million used, but still valuable, phones are quietly retired to closets and drawers each year in the US where they decay into zero value and then enter our landfills years later. Our automated ecoATM provides consumers and retailers an easy, convenient, incentivized method to convert those devices into real money instead of toxic waste."

"Consumer electronics retailers and their OEM partners are facing a complex and growing set of state and municipal eWaste laws. Consumer convenience is important to solving the eWaste problem in the U.S., and trade-in/trade-up incentive programs are proving to be quite effective in retail," said Leslie Hand, Research Director, IDC Retail Insights.

San Diego's CONNECT organization also announced this week that ecoATM was a Most Innovative New Product (MIP) Awards finalist. The CONNECT MIP Awards are San Diego's "Oscars" for regional innovation. The winners will be announced in December.

ecoATM will launch additional eCycling Stations with several more national retailers over the next quarter in San Diego, Boston, Dallas, and Seattle.

Keywords: ecoATM Inc., Consumer Electronics, Electronics, Finance, Financial, Investing, Investment, Leisure

This article was prepared by Leisure & Travel Business editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2009, Leisure & Travel Business via