Monday, December 13, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
3 pumpkin plants, started in late July, have set upwards of 14 pie pumpkins. I built simple boxes with a fragment of screen (all salvaged from our burned home) to hold the pumpkins as they grow. This keeps air circulating around the entire fruit and keeps moisture away from it. Pumpkins will tend to rot if left on damp ground too long.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
What do you think I should do? Scrap it and make a little money or spend a little money to make a move-able pen for our chickens?
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Next Spring, God willing, we will have asparagus to offer as well.
Friday, October 1, 2010
This hen has now hatched out her third batch of chicks since February and we are hoping for more. This one hen has raised 21 chicks for us-naturally, in the sunlight, eating mostly grass and bugs and worms (these are things chickens like to eat!). The only time she has been in a pen without access to the wide open pasture of our farm is when we have a varmint predator killing chickens on the loose or when she goes broody. We put her in a pen during her "setting" to protect her and her newborn chicks. We let the chicken BE a chicken.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Butchering our own meat is not some kind of masculine form of getting in touch with one's basic killer instincts. It really isn't In fact, for us, its brutal and detestable. Its distastefulness is only diminshed in that I refuse to Disney-fy our animals, refuse to make friends with the ones we eat, and work hard to give them the happiest healthiest life we can - we let the rabbit be at one with its rabbit-ness - before it is sacrificed for our nourishment.
It is a reminder to us that the gifts of God, which many of us thank Him for when we gather at the dining table, do not come, originally, from a styrofoam package at the grocers. It is a reminder, just as Christ died for us to make us healthy spiritually, emotionally, physically, something is still dying for us to live in this world. Animals.
I appreciate the vegan who sees butchering and eating animals as brutal. I do too - although the eating part can be pretty tasty. The vegan attempts to live out this beleif which is admirable. But humans need protein. Where does a vegan get protein? Some form of supplement. Unless God were to hand out gift certificates to the tropical smoothie place, GNC, or make powdered protein or fava beans easily accessible, I have to believe, as in the old and new Testaments, God gave us animals to accomplish three things. We can enjoy them! We get protein from them! and in the slaughtering of them for our food we get a picture of something (one) dying to give us life.
This ends the lesson. Thanks be to God.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
It had obviously been packed by his mother as it was bound in layers of packing tape that resembled the dig of an archeologist. Layer upon layer, small bones, cutlery, ornamental jewelry, ancient scrolls, and ceremonial headress rested in their respective layers. Try as he might, he could not peel off the successive layers and having no knife or scissors or otherwise handy multi-tools available during this era, he drove to the store to buy a really nice box-knife, pocket kniife, and pruning shear tool; bright metallic red in color, and presumably factory sharpened - and encased in a hard plastic package with no flaps, seams, creases, or perforations along which to open it.
He struggled with getting this presumably marvelous tool out of its packaging and realized that he would need a box-knife, scissors, or otherwise handy multi-tool available during this era to open his box-knife contraption. He searched far and wide for such a tool that was not packaged but soon realized that either because of stupid children or stupid parents more like, there were none to be found.
Saddened; he returned home. Lamented his unopened package. He picked up a pen and carefully across the front marked "Return to Sender" and placed it back in his mail box.
Many of those who gave to us were thanked and will always be remembered. Some who brought us things were politely refused and I think went away a little offended. This post is to try to describe the kinds of help victims of a house fire need most of all - especially in our case - we lost everything.
1) Cash. We didn't ask for cash until we saw that it was going to be impossible to continue living until the insurance money came in. Insurance companies don't just send you a check for living expenses once you are homeless. They may advance you a little. Ours did. But they won't settle up until you bring the receipts at the end of everything. And even then you will only pay additional living expenses. If you spent $100 a week on groceries before your home burned down but that went up to $200 a week because now you are eating out alot, the Insurance will only pay the difference- $100 per week. It still cost you $200. Cash flow is critical to the burned out family. We were always having to top off the gas tank in our truck just because we didn't know where we would need to go that day. Or we needed to go to the department store to get a container to hold all our receipts. A final hint: If you give the family cash and expect to get paid back either with money or a thank you card, if you will be offended if some form of repayment is made then keep your money. We thanked as many people as we could with cards, emails, etc. but I know we didn't get them all. It was not intentional. During that traumatic time, the last thing we thought of doing, or were even capable of doing is keeping an itemized list of who gave what. But here are some that gave cash that we did not thank appropriately. Arkansas Children's Hospital took up a collection from employees. We regularly got checks in the mail and often just in time to pay a bill or buy a tool that we needed in rebuilding. Conway Locally Grown. The farmers took up a collection, or donated a part of their sales to us and it was greatly appreciated. We were able to buy a computer for Patt to be able to continue internet sales, banking, and the computer was vital to our researching replacement costs for our insurance documentation. St. Andrews Anglican Church announced our troubles and checks started rolling in. So CASH is of primary importance.
2) Clothing. We lost everything. Our friends Clay and April from church visited us where we were staying at the Heiffer Project Lodge (6miles from our burned home and thanks to cash donations). They brought tubs and bags of male and female clothing. It being February, that kept us warm. It also let us get back to normal and me back to work. Although I did experience a wardrobe upgrade in the process. I went from a Target guy to a Dillards guy overnight. Thank you Clay and April!
3) Food. And not the traditional Baptist casseroles. We had no way to cook or keep large quantities. Arkansas Children's Cafe donated cold cuts and bread that we could keep. That was a blessing. People gave us gift cards to restaurants. And our friends the Chuck and Lucretia fed us several meals from their home in Perryville. Thank you Chuck and Lucretia. The cash donations also fed us.
4) Get-away things. Dr. Jerril Green offered us the use of his lake house should we need to take a break. Shonda, a nurse at the hospital gave us a Barnes and Noble gift card because she knew we lost all of our dear books. And the gift card let us buy the books we wanted when we were able to store them and have time to read.
Hopefully this will give some idea of what can be useful in a time like a house fire taking a family's life away. Some other ideas that occur to me are Day Care. Offer to keep the kids for a day or even a couple of hours. Pet sitting. My brother took our dogs to their home for a week or so. The Red Cross were there to offer us gift cards for essentials. I bought a heavy work coat and gloves, rubbermaid containers to carry everything around in.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
About 8 years ago, or so, I bought a 1988 Dodge Ram D150 Pickup from the father of my one time secretary, Tammy Temple. A pick up was one of those items of necessity that we did not have when we first moved to our farm. It was beautiful. Ivory Cream. Big engine that roared when you started it; able to haul anything we needed to haul and, I am sure, we hauled some things we had no business hauling in a half-ton pickup. Over the years it has served us well. The starter went out a couple of years ago and as I was working full time at Arkansas Children's Hospital, and having little to no experience in auto mechanical type work - we let it sit.
Then the house burned down and my 2006 Dodge Charger went with it. Needing another vehicle we took it to the local mechanic here in Perryville AR (the best mechanic I've ever known) and he put a starter in it. After sitting for two years - the truck started up and sounded beautiful as we drove it home.
Now it has come into regular use with quick trips into town and our son taking to college at least once a week.
On one trip we made, to Farmington AR to visit my brother Roland, his wife Jennifer, and their daughters, Abby and Molly it did great. Until we tried to start it on Sunday morning to go to church with Roland and the family. It wouldn't start. I called Roland, who had already gotten to Sunday School to let him know that we wouldn't make it, and that I would be working on the truck. Roland left Sunday School to come home and help me. I am not sure if this was piety on his part (helping someone in need) or relief (whew I got out of Sunday School). We were able to trouble shoot the problem, eventually, to a bad voltage regulator that tells the alternator to charge the battery. We replaced this $13.00 part and we were on our way.
During our hail storm this spring the windshield wipers stopped working. I took the panel covering all the linkage off the truck and saw that all the bushings had rotted off the mounts. These hard plastic bushings keep the wiper arms attached to the motor assembly and rack system. Just like the voltage regulator we replaced a couple of months before, these original, 22 year old parts had just worn out.
Last week I finally got around to fixing the windshield wipers on Wednesday. It took me only a couple of hours - Because all the arms and linkages fell into the tray in front of the windshield I had no idea how it all went together. I had found an authorized dealer manual for the truck on the internet for $40.00, bought it, and now was putting it to good use.
Friday, as Patt and I were making farmer's market deliveries in Conway and Little Rock, Ronny called us from the college he attends in Morrilton- 20 miles away. He said the power steering went out on him. I told him, unwisely, I think, to limp it home. When Ronny got home, he called us again and said the truck was really hot and was making terrible noises. When I got home I popped the hood and saw that all three belts were broken and twisted around the cooling fan. Next morning I headed to the local parts store to get belts, antifreeze, and oil. The only way to see if we had damaged the engine was to get it all back together again and try to start it. My plan was, if every thing turned out okay was to replace the antifreeze that had boiled out of the radiator, and change the oil. After all, it had been several years since this was done. I usually practice the Roland Hutchins Method for Oil Replenishment in Old Cars System of oil changes. Or the RHMOROCS Oil change. I just add more when it gets low...
The parts store had everything I needed and in a surprisingly quick turn around, I had the belts replaced, the fluids replenished, and the truck up and running. I do not know when the last time the belts had been replaced but they must have been ancient. I've had the truck for 8 years and I never replaced them and I remember them looking old when we bought it. Could they be original 22 year old belts? I wouldn't be surprised.
This thing was built to last and built to be worked on. Standard parts that I can get from just about any branded parts store and with the manual, I am learning the ins and outs of how everything works. Before we lost everything in the fire and I retired from the rat race, I would not have had the time or the patience to work on something like this myself. Now, spending a day and $15.00 to figure it all out on my own is gratifying.
They don't make trucks like my old 88 Dodge anymore. I can hear Merle singing now - "I wish a Ford and a Chevy (and a Dodge) would still last 10 years like the should"....