Thursday, September 30, 2010

Suspicious Characters

Had a run in with the police today. Well not a run-in but we had some explaining to do. We finally got Aaron's car running and hope to let Ronny drive it back and forth to college. 37 mpg is alot better than the 12 mpg my Dilse (my old farm truck) gets. Problem is this 96 Dodge Neon is a stick-shift and Ronny has never driven one before. So, lucky Dad gets to teach him how to drive again!

In my experience, teaching someone to drive a stick shift is kind of like nailing a raw egg to the wall. Difficult, messy, frustrating, and you usually end up breaking something. Anyhow, I knew I would need a wide open space to let him get the feel of starting from a dead stop in first gear, reversing, and listening to the engine rev when getting up to speed. The highway was out. We do not yet have a W-M- parking lot in our little town, so we went up to my dad's auction house on Thornburg mountain to practice in his parking lot which completely surrounds this former church/now auction establishment.

Ronny had some trouble at first, the obvious jerking stops, killing of the engine, squealing of tires, and revving of engine but then he soon got the hang of it and I had him drive laps (at low speed of course-never getting out of first gear) come to a stop, reverse, stop again, and the take off in first gear for another lap. After about 15 minutes he got the hang of it pretty well so we decided to head for home with me driving.

As we started to pull out of the parking lot onto State Highway 9/10 a police officer (with his wife in the front passenger seat) pulled up to us and rolled down his window. My window was already down because Aaron's Neon has not an operable air conditioner.

"You the fella dravvin laps round dis here bildin?" he asked (I am spelling like he talked)
"Yes sir" I replied.

"We got us a ree-port that dere was a sespishus man in cover-alls standin behind da auction house and a reckless driver doin laps round da building. Da ree-port says dere's a girl drivin."

I looked over at Ronny and giggled. "My Daddy owns this place", I said, "I'm just teaching my son how to drive a stick shift. "

"Ya know, dere rilly ain't no-place round here ta teach sumboddy ta drive a stickshift safely. Ceptin mebbe down at the duck field just afore you git inta town."

"Right now we're just working on getting into first gear. I didn't want to teach him out on the road."

The officer smiled; his wife was doing well to hold in a great big belly laugh that I could see was trying to work its way out. "Well, dat's da way it shood be done."

"Sorry for the trouble." I was trying to end the conversation but was unsuccessful.

"Hey dat's okay. I'm jest glad I ain't gotta wrat out a ree-port. Sumboddy jest called it in t'us."

"Probably one of my Daddy's spies."

"Uh-huh. Well you fellers have a good afternoon."

I got the feeling, as we drove back down the mountain, that the officer and his wife were returning to a now cold fried chicken and tater salad supper.

Now anyone with any common sense could see that we weren't doing doughnuts, or making Dukes of Hazzard jumps and spin-outs, never getting over 10 miles per hour, plenty of halting jerky stops, one person standing outside the car observing and an obviously inexperienced driver in the car; what crime could we be committing? I think the level of paranoia in this country is way out of proportion. In the old days (the 80's) if I had been the teenager in this situation, the neighbors would assume I was learning to drive my first stick shift and go about their business. But today I was suspicious because I was wearing overalls and standing behind the auction house in the parking lot and Ronny was a girl driving recklessly.

I blame Fox News.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Good Day Today

Cool weather, in its mysterious way, brought us the energy and the will to get some stuff done today! Here's what we accomplished:

1) Cleaned the house.

2) finished demolishing the old chicken coop that sat between the cottage and the cabin. You may be able to see the remainder of the rock foundation in the picture above. Eventually there will be a gravel walk way from the cottage to the cabin, a fire pit to have cookouts, a lawn for croquet, and perhaps a marble court for future grandkids if ever we live that long.

3) Sanded and repainted Aaron's big desk that we were able to salvage from the fire. (It has been sitting outside since February.)

4) Finished putting up most of the interior walls in the guest cabin and moved the desk in there to give Ronny a place to keep his books and study.

5) Cured a bloating goat with baking soda disolved in water using a 60cc syringe and one drop of Prednizone in its left eye. (really)

6) Read three chapters from Les Miserable

7) Patt made a peach pie!

8) Patt made Chicken Parmesan for dinner ( with tomatoes canned by our friends Chuck and Lucretia.)

9) We ate a big breakfast of bacon, toast from Patt's bread, fried eggs from happy chickens, hashbrowns from potatoes we grew this Spring, and a strong cup of Starbuck's coffee.

10) Posted on our blog!

Whew! I am tired. But it is a good kind of tired.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

So this is it?

I am convinced. Nothing will change my mind. After long thought, weighing the evidence, listening to the news and weather reports. Seeing and feeling the drudgery day after day, time after time, minute by minute, second by long, absurdly drawn out second I am now a true believer. The equinox passed last night, the first full moon on an equinox in twenty years. I marked this day on our calendar, it has been entered into my farm journal. This day should be the harbinger of cool, leaf-changing weather. I have seen a drift in the timing of the autumn change. Nine years ago - only nine - the first blast of cool weather came into central arkansas on September 14. Each year it seems, the summer lasts longer and longer. Now I look at the clock and see the second hand slowly, tick...wait a few minutes...tick. Time has slowed, energy is draining away, the universe is winding down. Yes. It's just going to be hot forever. Have a nice day!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Disallowed Marketing Strategies #1

Buy Shamrock and Thistle Farm Produce and Baked Goods or the puppy dies.

Disallowed Marketing Strategy #2

Teen-age girls and young women, Leo D. is living on Shamrock and Thistle Farm while taking a break from making movies. Come on out to visit our farm and bakery and maybe you'll meet the star himself! And while you are here pickup some Apple Walnut Scones for the trip home - only $6.50 for 8 large scones.

Disallowed Marketing Strategy #3

Shamrock and Thistle Farm Produce and Baked Goods are just Groovy Baby!

Disallowed Marketing Strategy #4

You don't buy organic produce and baked goods from Thistle and Shamrock Farm and Bakery in Perryville Arkansas? Well you're dumber than a sack of hammers!

Disallowed Marketing Strategy #5

Wives, feed your husbands Shamrock and Thistle Farm produce and he will end up looking like this:

Disallowed Marketing Strategy #6

Husbands, buy Shamrock and Thistle Farm Produce and your wife will look like this:

Disallowed Marketing Strategy #7

As you can see from my Before and After Photos above. Only a month after committing to buying and eating only locally grown produce from Shamrock and Thistle Farm and farmer's markets near my home I have shed the pounds and become the buff movie star my fans have come to expect once again. Thank you Shamrock and Thistle! - G. Butler

Disallowed Marketing Strategy #8

Shamrock and Thistle Farm and Bakery

Selling Nutrient Dense Produce and Baked Goods to Yuppies at Greatly Inflated Prices

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Disallowed Marketing Strategy #9

9. This spooky little girl will follow you around unless you buy our stuff.

Disallowed Marketing Strategies #10

My House Burned Down - Buy our Stuff.

And the Winner Is...

I had many very good suggestions for a name for my truck. Some, not so good. But anyway I've decided on a winner. Below are most of the entries and the included reasons for the entries... and then the winner. So in reverse order here are the top 10 names for Boyd's old Dodge pickup.

Number 10 - The Yellow Submarine

Number 9 - Clyde (after a ram we had on our farm as kids-this ram was famous for butting Mom into the chicken coop and not letting her out all day.)

Number 8 - The D150. If you say you drive a D150 and the people you are talking to know its a Dodge then you know they are friends.

Number 7 - Old Faithful

Number 5 - Brownie after my Dad's old farm truck

Number 5 - Trevor :Trevor is a nice name...

Number 4 - Satan (Ronny has to drive it to college 2 times a week)

Number 3 - Trusty and if it gets much older you can drop the 'T' and call it Rusty

Number 2 - BP (for Boyd and Patt or BP because of the large amount of oil it leaks)

Number 1 - Disle (pronounced Jeel-sheh) This gaelic word means faithful.

It really was a close contest but the Tidwells in Fort Mill South Carolina played the Scots-Irish-Gaelic card and edged out the pack...bread should be on the way soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Good day today. Eventhough we ran out of money with still two weeks left in the month. God sent us a rainbow to show us that there is still hope. Checks start coming in this week too! Now some people - they shall remain nameless - consider the rainbow just a scientific phenomenon. While science may be able to explain why it happens - what science can not do is explain why it happens when it happens. So there!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Living Parable

Put 7 rabbits in the freezer this morning.

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

The Tale of the Perpetually Packed Parcel

There once was a man who received a package in the mail.
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.

The end.

What to do for those involved in a fire...

One of the things we realized shortly after our home burned in February is that people do not know how to act towards you. That's okay - we didn't know how to act either. We found that many people rushed to help. Some bringing cash, some bringing household goods, some bringing clothes, some offering hot meals in their homes and some offering places to stay.

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

My Friend Travis

In case you are in awe of how I was able to single handedly renovate our workshop into the red&white cottage you see in our pictures and build a new chicken coop and pole barn in just 6 months - let me explain. No wait, no time to splain - let me sum up.

All the new construction was done by Travis Short Construction in Perryville AR. We've known Travis really for 8 or 9 years or so dealing black market farm goods and a $100.00 car way back. Formerly the construction manager at the Heiffer Ranch he has gone into business for himself and I can testify to the quality of his work.

Barn Finished!

The barn is nearly finished, save for a few small pieces of metal, and we started moving in today. Well we aren't moving in but we are moving alot of stuff that has been stored in the cottage and tools and things that have been sitting outside around the farm. As you can see from the photo we should have plenty of room for everything plus the animals we plan to house in it starting this spring plus room enough to pull our trucks inside to do some work like today. It was raining - Thanks Be To God - most of the day but I was still able to tighten the belts on our old Dodge. I really must come up with a name for her. Old Dodge isn't very flattering. So for those of you that read this blog. (Right now it's just me) I will give a free loaf of Patt's bread to whomever comes up with the best name!