Monday, March 26, 2007

Progress of Pilgrims

That property still known by the commonplace epithet of "the land", which I posted about in November of last year, has occupied much of our time lately. Reliably sure that we'll be moving there before very long, we've been expending large amounts of energy to improve the landscape in order to allow grass- and thus livestock- to grow. Progress was extremely slow for several weekends, until we had a four day stint of bulldozing, which gave much more visible results. We pushed together and burned giant piles of trees and brush, one about the size of a schoolbus.

Now that the bulldozing is done, we are undergoing the slow-but-sure process of raking up all of the smaller debris, with a 7 foot tractor-pulled rake, of course.[No pictures yet] The process is slow because each area must be passed over several times, as the rake will fill and push the sticks to the side. It works, however, and we are getting ever nearer to pasture- but it still requires a good bit of imagination to see this:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Prairie Girl and Lizards

Prairie Girl's latest entertainment has been Lizards, and she bottle feed's them! after seeing this it was funny hearing Espousa say she had never touched a Lizard before! Prairie Girl also takes them for a walk by their tails, and made them a habitat out of leaves and sticks. Saturday night she rocked one to sleep in our rocker. So you can imagine she has been having fun this week.

- Smokestack

Mystery of the Week

Although the last Mystery of the Week was a Friday, it was so easy that a new one is appropriate. Leave your answer as a comment.


The village of Knordwyn in Northumbria, England, was celebrating its annual Queen Anne Festival. For several August days, people from around the shire came to enjoy craft displays, athletic competitions, farm shows, and cooking and music contests.

Also attending the festival was Thomas P. Stanwick, the amateur logician. He visited the village every year or two, and found Knordwynians invariably intriguing: about half were lifelong liars, and the rest were lifelong truthtellers. Conversations with them were thus real tests of his skill at deduction.

On the second festival day, Stanwick arrived at the grounds early to see the pigs. He was curious to see a particularly hefty specimen named Miss Porky Pine (because of her prickly disposition, according to a wag at the village pub). When he reached the stalls, however, he found hers empty and her owner, Ian Craigmore, angrily questioning three men and a woman. Upon seeing Stanwick, Craigmore turned to him.

“Tom, my lad,” he sputtered, “someone stole Miss Porky Pine from her stall last night. It must have been one thief: she is nervous and squeals loudly if two try to handle her.”

“And you suspect these four?”

“Yes. Charles Hagman, Thomas Leary, and Dora Glasker are festival attendants, and Louis Parrella was cooking a suspiciously early barbecue not far from the festival grounds, so I brought him over. All four are from the village.”

Stanwick knew Craigmore to be a villager and a truthteller. Turning to the suspects, he asked if they could tell him anything about the theft.

“Louis never attends the festival,” said Hagman. “Also, Thomas and Dora are not both truthtellers.”

“Dora stole the pig,” announced Leary. “She and Louis are both liars.”
Glasker cleared her throat angrily. “Neither Charles nor Thomas is the thief,” she said. “Louis attends the festival every other year.”

“Either Dora or Thomas is a liar,” stated Parrella. “The thief, however, is not Charles or Dora.”

Stanwick smiled pleasantly.

“In an admittedly indirect way,” he said, “you’ve been very helpful. And now,” he continued, turning to one of them, “perhaps you could tell us why you stole the portly pig.”


As adapted from Five-Minute Crimebusters by Stan Smith (Sterling Publishing, 2000)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mystery of the Week

Hosted by Sherlock, Mystery of the Week is a new regular feature of the Progress of Pilgrims. Leave your answer in the comments section, and when someone is correct, I'll give the solution. This one is easy.


Three men sat around the kitchen table in the Borden farmhouse that afternoon in late April. With John Borden were William Ryan, chief of the Baskerville police, and Thomas P. Stanwick, the amateur logician. Officer Wetherbee of the Baskerville police stood near the kitchen door.

“Rigg had had a grudge against me for a while,” said Borden, a tall, lean farmer with a furrowed face and sharp, gray eyes. He was in his mid-fifties and wore a plaid shirt and blue-jean overalls. “But he was a good hand, and I kept him on because I needed his help, at least through the spring.”

“Why did he have a grudge against you?” asked Stanwick.

“Well, he’d been paying attention to my daughter Elizabeth, and I didn’t like it. She wants to study medicine, and I thought she could do better in choosing a fellow.”

“And this morning, John? Once more, please,” said Ryan quietly.
Borden paused a moment and frowned.

“I was digging a fence furrow by the outer pasture,” he stated. “Some of my cows have been wandering out that way. It was about ten-thirty. Rigg snuck up behind me, from the direction of the barn. Luckily I saw his shadow, with the upraised knife. I spun around and got him first with the shovel. Pure self-defense.”

“And then?” asked Ryan.

“Once I saw he was laid out, I ran back here and called it in. Nothing else to tell, really.”

“In that case, if you’ll excuse me, chief,” said Stanwick, standing up, “I think I’ll take another stroll out to the pasture.”

“Go ahead, Tom,” said Ryan. “I’ll see you there soon.”

A few minutes later, Stanwick stood where the body of Steven Rigg had lain. After pausing to gaze north at Mount Blylock, Stanwick swept his eyes over the area. The barn was a few hundred yards to his left, and to his right lay bramble fields and woods. By his feet, the unfinished fence furrow ran toward the distant mountain. As Stanwick squatted and peered at the grass to look for signs of a struggle, Ryan came up to him.

“I left Borden with Wetherbee,” Ryan said. “Anything more here?”

“I’m not sure,” said Stanwick, standing up. “You know, I thought farmers dug post holes rather than trenches for fences.”

“Some use the trench method, especially around here.” Ryan scratched his chin solemnly. “You know, I had a report once of a quarrel between Borden and Rigg when they were in town getting cattle feed. It was nothing serious, as I recall. I sure hope this wasn’t deliberate, Tom. The Bordens have farmed this land for generations.”

“I know. I buy corn at their farmstand every summer. Let’s see, now. I was inside all morning, and was napping when you phoned me about this. When did these clouds roll in?”

“About noon.”

“Now, the side of Rigg’s head was crushed in. Is that consistent with being hit by a shovel in the way Borden describes?”

“The doc thinks so. Of course, there’ll be an autopsy. We’ve impounded the shovel in the meantime.”

“That’s a point for Borden, anyway. And a knife with Rigg’s fingerprints was found by the body. Could that have been planted on him?”

“Can’t say just yet.” Ryan’s face was gray.

Stanwick took a long breath, sighed, and looked again at distant Blylock.
“Well, Bill, I think it was. I hate to say this, but Borden is lying. This was a deliberate murder.”


As adapted from Five-Minute Mini-Mysteries by Stan Smith (Sterling Publishing, 2003)