Ramsey, Illinois, is in the middle of farmland and pretty much nothing else. Ramsey has churches, schools, a volunteer fire department, a convenience/gas store, and a grocery store. And it is surrounded by farms. This seems the model midwest small town. Mike and Janet have built their lives here, raised wonderful children and have ten (I think I counted right) grandchildren within reasonable driving distance.
We have been staying in our Airstream on a farm several miles south of Ramsey. Janet and Mike dug a pond, sunk a well, built a house, and established a successful cattle farm. They raise Limousin Cattle and keep a little under two hundred head. We’ve been treated to sights of day-old calves and a pair of heifers just about ready to calve. We may see another pair of calves any day.
I’m sitting on Janet and Mike’s back porch listening to two double-bass bullfrogs competing across the pond. What seems like a thousand tree frogs are chirping throughout the trees. A whippoorwill sings his song for five unbroken minutes. A little later we’ll hear a bobwhite singing his “bob-white, bob-white”. Then we won’t hear a sound for six or seven hours — we are sleeping so well.
Janet and Mike have had a their children visiting during the past several days so I have tried to stay a little out of the way. Friday morning Mike and I used my slingshot to shoot my 20 meter ham radio antenna high up between two of their trees. The copper dipole antenna is fifty feet above the ground, tied with parachute cord tightly between the trees high above our trailer.
I am now listening to a ham radio operator, 4Z4UR, near Tel Aviv. Each time he calls “QRZ”, or “who is calling me”, I try to time my response so it will stand out among the dozen or more competing stations trying to obtain a brief conversation with Ehud. This may not work out for me but would be my first Middle East contact. It is easier to spin the radio dial through the bands and find someone just starting to call for responses. The pile-ups won’t have started and I can punch through well.
Two nights ago I reached Sicily and Spoleto, Italy, southern Poland, Netherlands, southwest Germany, and northern Germany. This dipole antenna is working for long distance more than twice as well as my rooftop vertical antenna. I cannot always find such outstanding trees situated just where I want them for the dipole. The trees must be tall, have openings in the canopy for the antenna ropes to reach, and the trees must be between 75 and 150 feet apart. It’s fun when I can hang a dipole antenna, to try and reach far away stations I cannot usually work.
The moonlight barely filters through the trees, shifting around as the breeze moves the leaves about. It is very dark when we turn out our light — there are no other man-made lights visible to us. This is a beautiful place, very quiet except for sounds of nature.
I didn’t get the Israel station — too many stronger stations over my signal strength. I switched to another band and promptly made two-way contacts with Italy and northwest Germany.
Tomorrow morning Mike is driving Janet to the hospital for a lengthy surgery and hospital stay. Your prayers will help.