Tuesday, December 30, 2008

After reading Farmergeeks response on his blog about the Boy Scout books, it somehow reminded me of my youth. Nope, I was never a scout, but I had always wanted to be one. I wanted to wear that uniform, I wanted to go on outings, have friends, and learn from them, but it never happened for several reasons. One, my parents never liked to drive anywhere other than work or to the store. Two, they could never have afforded anything I would have needed to be in the scouts. And three, dad always said they were wimps, lol, I imagine he couldnt get in either...grumpy old fart. Plus I was a very nervous kid..really withdrawn,shy, and afraid of everything. Hard to belive ain't it??? lol
While growing up, I never learned any of the wilderness survival skills in the scout books like making a shelter or tying knots, but I learned a lot from just living, even though at the time I didn't realize it. I learned to garden, I learned to shoot and hunt, I learned to fish, I learned how to preserve food, and I learned how to live on next to nothing. Times were hard at home, nearly my entire youth was spent from check to check by my parents barely making ends meet.At that time in the late 60's and early 70's, concrete guys just plain didnt work in the winter, so dad was always layed off. To understand where I'm coming from, I'll go into a little detail:

I grew up with my mom, dad, and sister on 3 acres in a small township in the same county I live in now. Our house was a 3 room basement home. NOT 3 bedrooms, 3 ROOMS...kitchen, living room, backroom, thats it. We slept in the same room as our parents on bunkbeds till I was about 12, when dad seperated the 2 rooms. Heat in the house was via an oil burning stove in the center of the living room,no ductwork, just radiant heat.(so even though we had our own room, we had to keep the door open when it was cold) We had well water attached to a kitchen sink and a washing machine, and that was all. We bathed in an old galvanized washtub with hot water from the sink. Our toilet was an indoor outhouse of sorts, inside a closet in the backroom. Basically just a frame with a seat and bucket underneath, with a matching real outhouse behind the old shed that was about 80 yards from the house.In the evenings after dark, dad carried that bucket to the outhouse, 365 days a year. We finally got a real bathroom with a tub, shower, and toilet when I was 15, so we (sis and I)thought we were rich. We had a black and white tv attached to a 25 foot antenna tower dad scrounged from a jobsite, with a grand total of 5 stations. (anyone else remember antenna rotors?) I believe I was around 18 or 19 when we got basic cable.I remember an old rotary phone in the house till around '85 as well. The flat tar roof leaked, the floor was almost always damp, the bare block walls cold, and the place always smelled of heating oil and Hoppes gun cleaner. (though I still love the smell of Hoppes, lol)

Food was always a big issue. During the warmer months, we ate what we deemed as "normal" food, though most was the cheapest cut available, and usually other things from the dented can bins at the local Sparkle Market. We busted our asses with a decent sized garden all summer, and I grew to hate it as a kid. I remember many days of pushing myself and my sister through green briar to pick blackberries, as well as wild grapes, so mom could make jellies and jams to can or freeze. (I still hate freezer jam though!) We never had any animals other than beagles, so our only meat source other than the store (when dad was working) was hunting. I can't begin to imagine how many meals we had that were duck, squirrel, or rabbit. At the time there were still pheasants in this part of Ohio, and we were always excited to bag one since it meant a good sized dinner. I think the worst time we had was one winter when dad and I set off hunting on Thanksgiving morning hoping to get a pheasant so we didn't have to have rabbit for dinner. Luckily we got one that day .

Funny how life works, isn't it? Most of my life I hated the way I grew up and resented my parents for making us live that way. We were "forced" to help around the house and garden. We had to use an outhouse when everyone else had a real bathroom. We had to watch an old b&w tv when the neighbors had color, remote control AND cable! All through my teens 20's,and early 30's, I pulled myself as far away from that life as I could, buying and doing everything I could, just because I could. But here I sit, typing and thinking about all of this and realize something. I'm going back to that way of life on purpose. It makes me chuckle to think about it, but it also makes me kinda sad. I wasted all that time trying to ignore who/what I really am. It took me all this time to find myself, but I made it. Without my childhood, and without Lisa's encouragement I would never be where I am now.....make that-WE would never be where WE are now.Without going into any detail, she grew up ver similar in a house not much bigger with FOUR siblings...and I thought I had it tough! Sometimes I write in this blog like it's all me, but it's far from it. Lisa had taken every step right beside me the whole way,taking this incredible journey of lifestyle change that we are on.
Though they'll never see this, thank you mom and dad for making me who I am today, and thank you Lisa for your love and encouragement. You are my guiding light down this path to self sufficiency.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Yesterday's adventure and what the hell???

OK this weather is just....well....wierd. Friday it pored rain all day. Yesterday it was almost 70 degrees. We spent the day driving around, and the digital thermometer on the mirror read 68 most of the day. When we went to bed last night, I noticed that it seemed pretty windy, no big deal. Lisa wakes me up an hour ago and tells me the canopy/carport that I use for storage was on its side. I get up, get dressed, go feed and water, and take a look. Yep.....the back and right side (towards the orchard) are pulled out and flopped over, like someone just flipped it on it's left side. After the big summer windstorm, I added more 12 inch stakes to this thing, one every 2 feet along it's 16 foot length, 4 down each end, and 4 down the center. What kinda wind in Ohio rips this thing out? It's not in grass, it's in the old driveway area. It took a 2 lb hammer to get those things driven in, and this wind flipped it over like it was nothing. This is just wierd. It's Ohio, it's December. It shouldn't be windy and 70 degrees. I'm not much of a believer in global warming, but I'm really beginning to wonder.

Yesterday morning, we set off on a bit of an adventure. A few years ago we stayed at a bed & breakfast in Zoar (amish country) for our annivesary, and during that stay we traveled the backroads to Lehmans. During that drive, we found an amish bulk/dry goods store. The kind with bulk foods, canned goods, amish owned and ran, lit by lanterns....our kinda place. The goal for yesterday was to find this store again. We started in Kidron at the antique store I saw the Rolls Razor at. After realizing the shaving handle was missing, I passed on it and ended up getting a pipe pocket tool. Kinda like a Leatherman tool for pipe smokers. It has 3 folding accesories-a metal pipe cleaner, a pipe scraper, and a single blade, and the outside end of the stainless case is a pipe tamper....pretty cool! It was only $7, so I picked it up, and we set off to find the old store. We traveled winding country roads past countless farms and small homes, from Kidron to Strasburg,( close to 20 miles by backroads), and couldn't find it. I doubled up 77 to Zoar, and head back....still nothing. We ended up back close to where we started and ended up going to Berlin. (another 25 miles) I hate Berlin. It's turned into a giant tourist trap, and people eat it up. I sware you could pick up a horse turd off the road, label it "amish made", and these idiots would pay top dollar for it. I never imagined it would be so busy on a weekend in December, but the place was packed. There were cars parked along the road through the entire 10 or so blocks of "downtown". As I drove by disgusted, Lisa spotted a sign on a side road for "bulk foods". We turned around and went to check it out. To my surprise, the place had a few things we wanted to get. We had stopped at a few stores along this journey, but in all of them, "bulk foods" were 2 pound of this, 1 pound of that, and 3 pounds of the other. This one was a bit different in they had things like flour, sugar, and oats in bags of 2, 5, 10 and 25 pounds. We settled on a 25 lb bag of white sugar, and a 25lb bag of brown sugar. I asked about bulk coffee beans, and their only suggestion was the coffee shop across the street.

UGH I hate those place, and especially this one. These people come from god-knows-where to visit "amish country" for a day, but they sure can't live without their fancy coffee. I roll my eyes several times, drive across the street, and walk into my version of hell. Yep....it's a starbucks with a jolt of hippy wannabe's and other people that have so many reasons NOT to be in this neck of the woods. First of all, I walk in the door to Bob Dylan on the speakers. (oh please kill me now) The place smells of fancy pastries, flavored coffee, and cologne I'm pretty sure men shouldn't wear unless their loafers are kinda light. (if you get my drift) It's an endless sea of sweater vests, eddy bauer and l.l. bean coats. Please tell me they have bulk coffee so I can get out of here. I need to run out to the street and rub my face in a big pile of horse manure just to get the burning odor of yuppie out of my nose! We look around and see some bins of coffee beans, over 20 to be exact. C'mon people, there's only 2 kinds of coffee....french roast, or regular old wake 'yer ass up....thats it. UGHHHHHHHHH I decide to get a bag of the most regular roast I could find and get out. $11 a pound and I walk to the counter, only to be greeted by a young guy ( I refuse to say MAN to this), wearing a sweater vest and beret. It took every bit of energy I had not to laugh. If it weren't for Lisa's sore knee, I would have ran out the door. Thank god, I'm back outside...I survived and live to tell you people about it.

I still haven't been able to locate a source for bulk coffee beans. I really don't want to go to the store and buy 25 of those little 1 pound bags, but it may come to that. I've tried everywhere I can think of. Later today I'll look online, but I've tried that before with no luck. If anyone has suggestions, please pass them on.

Monday, December 22, 2008


As I write this, the current tempertature outside is 3 degrees, with heavy winds, and a windchill of -13! It's definitly the coldest it's been so far this year so I really can't complain. The chickens should be plenty warm since Lisa decided they needed another heat lamp and got on while she was running errands on Friday night. As the winds picked up yesterday, I covered the 2 broken garage door windows, and stuffed insulation under the one door that refuses to close all the way. They got new straw yesterday, along with the rabbits, so with both in place, I'm sure they're doing just fine.
The girls are all settled in together finally and getting along fine. Egg production has went up to between 5 and 7 eggs a day now. I gave some away this weekend to my mom and my friend Bill's mom, and Lisa gave her daughter a half dozen yesterday when she came to visit. Quite a few got used over the weekend as Lisa continued her baking frenzy on Saturday from around 1pm till roughly 9pm, and yesterday pretty much all day. She also made buckeyes, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered peanuts, and white chocolate covered popcorn. Two "goody baskets" went out in the mail already, one to a friend in Oregon and another to a friend in North Carolina, plus we sent one home with Bill for his mom. She can't garden or do much anymore since her stroke left her with no use of her left arm, so we send her things quite a bit during the growing season. This one was all kinds of cookies, candy, bread, jams, jellies, and her request of homeade pickles, lol. Love ya Weezie!

Last night we sat around, notebooks in hand and made out our list for seed & plant orders. The temps outside continuted to drop, the wind picked up, and Lisa bundled up under her usual blankets. Of course as you can see, Austin (our bloodhound) decided he wanted to play lapdog again and get in on the blanket action. Sometimes he forgets he's 120 pounds, lol. It's not the best picture, but not too bad from a cell phone.....

We came up with a pretty good list for '09. Most were things we have always grown, some were from this years new trials, and others are new things we want to try. Every year the garden and thus the selection grows, even despite the fact that it's just us at home now. We just want to try new things, and do more that can be canned or otherwise preserved.
The list from this year will be carried over : sweet corn, green beans, tomatos, green peppers, jalepeno peppers, habenero peppers, chili peppers, hungarian hot wax peppers, green onion, yellow onion, yellow squash, cucumbers, potatos, broccoli, kalarabi, turnips, parsnips, carrots, beets, spinach, leaf lettuce and melons. We'll be adding another 10 or so blackberry plants, as well as starting some peach trees just to see how they do. Other than that, the fruits from the past years will remain. The additions for next year will be: garlic,cabbage,swiss chard,deer tongue,cauliflower,sage, lavender,italian basil, oregeno, mammoth dill, sweet leaf, parsley, lemon drop peppers, and elderberries. Looks like I've got a lot more digging to do in the spring! lol We decided also that this year we are going 100% heirloom so we can start saving seeds and have the orders picked out accordingly. With a little research, I found a place in Wadsworth (about 20 minutes away) that is a vendor for Seeds of Change, so we'll visit there before making any mail orders.
Hopefully.....................the church job I'll be going to today has heat! Last week I was there a day and a half, and it was pretty chilly in the basement where we're working. If there is no heat, we can't work with the glue we use for the CPVC sprinkler pipe. If not, it may be a short day....guess I'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The "green" movement and warning-I'm a bit moody, lol

Not long ago, our cable company got a new channel, all supporting this big "green" movement that's become so trendy. Yes I said it, TRENDY. It's the new "in" thing to do, and watching this channel proves it. I've watched a few different programs, and they're all basically the same. One shows people building "green" homes that are so far beyond any real budget, it's rediculous. Another follows people around, goes through their garbage and looks at their appliances. A few CFL bulbs, a recycle bin, maybe a dual flush toilet, and a $3000 washing machine and taaaaaaaaa daaaaaaaaa, they're "green". The best one yet is a cooking show that uses the ingredients all from an overpriced health food store. I watched ONE good program on a couple who built a home out in the middle of nowhere and planned to be self suffiecint.....well.....that lasted one episode. This channel is a joke to anyone that doesn't live outside LA or San Francisco. The most these programs EVER show is how to save a few bucks on a utility bill. They all go solar to some extent or another, but still keep all the same frivilous gadgets, gizmos, electronics, and appliances they had before. The only difference is their electric bill, and the hundreds of thousands they owe to contractors.........................
So here is my question. Where is the channel or programs for the rest of us? Where is the backyard chicken special? Where is the vegetable gardening program? (one that doesn't involve anal-retentive "master" gardeners who test the soil more often than a $%^! fish tank) Where are the rest of the shows on living simpler, making your own clothes, raising animals, preparedness, canning, hunting (and not the "oh boy I got a 12 point, what a trophy" kind of mentality), and all the other things that we all do? We won't see 'em. Simply because people that give these channels the ratings are the kind that wouldn't do such things. What?? Get dirty? Get up at 5am to feed chickens? Grow my own vegetables? I'll miss my favorite rerun of Seinfeld!! They wouldnt watch a show on choosing the right breed of chicken, but by god run something on electric cars and they are all over it. Imagine the droves of electric cars running to the mall and Starbucks, all of them smiling from ear to ear over how "green" they are........ We're solar now! Lets go ahead and get that 60" plasma tv that costs more than the neighbors car! Yea!.........it's pitiful.
I looked all over for a feedback section of this channel's website, but of course there isn't one. Maybe I should just start my own channel and make my own programs....Appliance Intervention, episode 1, pilot-Susy is a 38 year old wife and mother of 3, and she is addicted to the microwave and frozen food. I sit down with the family and tell them of dreamy things like fresh cooked food and things that aren't wrapped in plastic. Suzy walks into the room see's the people, and asks whats going on......................you get the picture, lol.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Loud stereo and cleaning "stuff"

I got home early today thanks to the weather. I had an inspection with the county fire inspector from 9-11 am, and planned on pre-testing more of the building, but it's just too cold. Part of the attic piping also feeds the walk up canopy, and it's exposed to the weather. It's only 23 degrees outside, and I didn't want to chance frozen pipe. Other jobs are an hour or more away, so rather than drive an hour to work 2 then drive back, I just came home.

Since no one is here, I put in a cd and now have Black Sabbath blaring through the house. ( Dio era-live bootleg from SwedenRock!) I don't get to blast my music often, so I'm taking full advantage of the time I have. I already did last nights dishes, took out the recycle, and scraps to the composter. I checked the chickens while I was out, and came in with 5 eggs.....'adda girls!

Yesterday I got out an hour early and didn't quite feel like going home. I decided to stop at the big Goodwill store since it was only 5 minutes from the job I was gone. I'm an admitted Goodwill/thrift store/yard sale/flea market junkie, I just can't resist. I looked around the household goods, books, and clothing, and found nothing I wanted. I went into the area with furniture and bigger items, and spotted a few bicycles. I've been thinking about one for quite a while. I miss riding a bike. I rode on a regular basis up until my late 20's when I married the first time, and it sure won't hurt me now. I gotta face it, I'm a tad outta shape. Sure, I work with heavy pipe all day, and spend hours climbing ladders and around attics, but it's not the same. When I met Lisa, I was at 185 pounds, now I fluxuate between 215-225. I love her cooking and baking, but it's slowly catching up. I figure a bike would do the trick, plus it's a good way to make short errands. Anyway.......this Murray mountain bike was priced at $10. I looked it over, and it wasn't bad at all. It was dirty, a bit rusty, the tires were low, and the deraillers were out of adjustment. It's been 15 years or so, but I can handle that. I bought it and brought it home. A few minutes with an old tire pump, and the tires held fine. A bit of scrubbing and some steel wool, and it cleaned up great. The derailler adjustment only took a minute, and the brakes just needed tightening. I'm happy with my decision to get it, and I'm excited to get behind the handlebars again....just not in 23 degree weather, lol. Over the rest of the winter, I'll pick up a rack for the back, and fit it with probably a milk carton for errand runs. I'll have to pick up a pair of shoes to ride with, since I realized that I don't own anything but boots, but that's easy enough. (eww shoes) It does need that "Chris" touch though.........I'm thinking black wheels and camo on the frame, hahaha. Ok.......am I REALLY turning into one of those "green" people???????? ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!! Naaaa with this beard, I'll look like one of those rare Summit county amish outcasts, lol.
Beyond the new toy, we're making some changes around here. Since it's just the 2 of us now,and the only visitors are the kids and Bill, we're cutting down the kitchen cupboards. There is no reason for 12 or so dinner plates and bowls, and 20+ glasses and coffee cups. With things condensed, we can open more space for food storage,which we are quickly running out of. The pantry between the kitchen and living room is stuffed. I made a closet in the hall into another pantry, and it's stuffed with home canned goods, as well as some store bought canned and boxed items. We're storing bulk items downstairs, anything in large buckets or boxes, but need that room for others. I'm doing the same thing with bath towels and washcloths,again no need for 12+ of each with just 2 of us. With all the extra dishes and towels, it also makes it easy to skip doing dishes or laundry and just use more. Of course, then it takes longer to do those dishes or laundry, so thats where we want to stop. Less stuff=less clutter=more room for things we actually need the room for, it makes sense to me. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac remember the old George Carlin bit on "stuff"??? lol) We'll apply the same theory to bedding and clothes. Anything beyond what we need, or anything we haven't worn in the past year will be going to Goodwill. Gotta make room for better stuff!!! hahaha

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This weekend

We made our Lehmans trip as planned on Saturday, just a bit later than expected. We forgot to go to the bank on Friday to cash in some change for the Christmas Cheese Fund, and had a package to get out in the mail. We got there later than we wanted, but we made it and had a great time as always. I had Lisa pick out her own Christmas present there, and she ended up getting herself a soap making kit. http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=46&itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&keyword=soap+making I got myself a book on tanning hides and furs, and as always, a few small kitchen gadgets. I did my usual drool n' dream walk through their room full of Alladin lamps..........oooohh I'll have one of those someday! MY strange affection for oil lamps just won't go away, and the house shows it. There are 5 larger ones and 2 medium sized ones in the living room, 2 small ones in the bathroom, 2 small ones in our bedroom, and 2 medium and 1 large one in here, plus the hanging cottage lamp and 6 different oil lanterns. It's become an addiction! lol We ran into Divahick and Farmergeek and had a nice (but short) conversation. They were already done and ready to head out.....(Farmergeek-I know what the fat man is bringing you! LOL)
When we left, I spotted an antique store I had never seen before, so we made a quick U turn and went back. I love places like this. It's not the "fancy-schmancy" antique store full of valuables and things that cost more than I make in a week. It's more like a yard sale/flea market atmosphere with all kinds of different things. It almost appears like the place you take things leftover from a yard/barn sale. I loved it!!!!! Lisa didn't find anything she really wanted to get, but I was in heaven. I picked up a second safety razor, but this one is different in it uses the single sided razors. They had a Rolls Safety Razor there too, and I think I'll be heading back for it next weekend. I've heard a lot about them, and people I know that use them sware they do just as good as a straight razor. http://www.geocities.com/safetyrazors/Rolls_Page.htm I saw a few pipes I wanted to get, but I resisted temptation and didn't get a single one. Over the past 3 weeks or so, I've taken to smoking a pipe at home in the evenings, and am actually smoking a pipe now filled with cherry cavendish. A post on BWH got me thinking, and I realized I had my dads old pipes sitting here collecting dust, as well as 1 or 2 that were Lisa's fathers. I love the smell of a pipe, and somehow it's relaxing and strangly soothing over just firing up a camel. I think I can get used to this..............

Now let me explain an earlier comment...."The Christmas Cheese Fund". For some reason, every year since we've been at this house, Lisa has ordered a big cheese sampler from a catalog at Christmas. They always come with all kinds of cheeses, crackers, trail bologna's, beef sticks, etc. We never ate all of it. Some of the flavors were just bizarre and nasty. I think one last year was garlic/lemon/bacon.....WTF? So.......we decided to do our own this year. We saved change for a short time for a "cheese fund" and went with $60 to spend. Of course, the ONLY place for us to go was Schisslers Cheese House, just north of Lehmans. If anyone ever gets to visit Kidron, I highly reccomend this place!! We walked out with all kinds of various cheese, totalling 12 pounds (give or take) and only went $2 over the budget. I imagine that was due to my small road bag of assorted cheese & beef sticks, and bottle of birch beer. Hey, it's a 45 minute drive home! I could have starved!!!!!

We got home around 3:30, I took an unplanned nap on the couch, and Lisa started her bake-a-thon, and didn't stop till 9:30 when we sat down to watch a movie that Bill brought over. Of course, I'm overstuffed on oatmeal scotchies, peanut butter cookies, and buckeyes.....I didn't get to be 6'3" and 225 by eating salads! LOL

I'd checked the chickens as soon as we got home, and had one brown egg. Before Bill got over at 8, I checked again-nothing....wierd. This morning I overslept (thanks to Bill leaving at 2am) and didn't get out to the animals till almost 10am. After feeding and watering the rabbits and birds, I found 3 eggs already. All still warm, so they hadn't been there long. I went to the garage around noon to get something, and checked again while I was there....there were 2 more. I went out a last time at 4, and taaadaaaa-2 more! Wow, these girls are making up for lost time. So, the total for the day was 7. Not bad for 7 out of 10 birds! 3 were green, 3 brown and large, and then that one little cute brown banty egg. They look so tiny compared to the others! It's a good thing Lisa is in baking mode!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Upcoming weekend plans

Now that I'll have a weekend off with no plans to run here-go there-pick this up, I'll be concentrating on the basement......FINALLY! I'm taking everything out of the furnace room and starting over. All of Lisa's sewing/craft stuff will go in the big room, the shelves full of canners, stock pots, and jars will go in the 6x12 walk in closet area I made in this room, and then nothing will go back in there other than holiday decorations....yay!
I've been working on cleaning out the laundry room little by little this week, and it will soon be ready for firring strips and drywall. I have to relocate some plumbing and light fixtures first, but that's easy stuff......I HATE DRYWALL! ugh But....I'll get it done before spring. I want to make a hanging clothes drying rack for in there when I'm finished. It'll be something similar to this ( http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=114&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=673&iSubCat=728&iProductID=114 ) but I'll have one wall mounted, and another that hangs from the ceiling on a pulley system. I dispise running the dryer so much in the winter, and I plan to use this a lot. Now to get that wringer washer to match.....hehehe.
This room will get a slight makeover too. I brought in ALL my camping, fishing & hunting gear from the garage and misc closets in the house, and have way more than I thought. All combined it looks like a mini Cabela's store in here lol. I'll get it all organized and marked on the supply sheet. (yes- I track every single thing in here) I have a 20+ page notebook of things to stock, some I have, some I don't, and some I'm getting this weekend. When the big xmas toy battery sales happen, I'll be getting quite a few for the flashlight, emercency radio, and smoke/CO2 detectors. I'm also gonna push Lisa to spend another afternoon making candles so I can get some down here.....you can never have too many. I brought in the giant industrial first aid kit I had in my last work van, and will go through that and re-stock it too.
We're gonna make a few stops today when Lisa gets off work and try for some food grade buckets. I've read a few times about people getting them from subway and bakeries/grocery stores with bakeries. The plan is to clean and fill them with flour for now. Later will come sugar, rice, oats, and some other things.
Yep....that crazy stockpiling couple is at it again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The 4-day weekend helped on getting things caught up around here. The temporary winter coop is as finished as it can be finally, with the feeder & waterer hung from a bracket, and the heat lamp hung directly over them. Hopefully this will help a bit with the water freezing. I put small boards in front of the new nest boxes since they kept kicking out the straw, and put a golf ball in each one to see if it helps them. I'm still only getting about 2 eggs a day, but I'm going to blame that on stress for now. The 7 new birds had free roam of about a quarter acre, and now they're somewhere new and confined to 15x4 feet roaming space. I imagine they'll come around soon. I also got a programmable timer, so the lights and heat lamp come on at 5:30am and turn off at 9:00pm. They get the overhead 4 foot florescent light, as well as double 500 watt halogen lights. I'm hoping this also helps since the garage was pretty dark, even with me turning on the one 4 footer every morning at 5am. Things look much better out there finally. All I have left to do is get more straw today on the way home.

Even with christmas fast approaching, we've talked more about stocking food and supplies. Reading the news stories lately shows some scary stuff. Famine, rotten economy, food shortages...scary stuff. Lisa got another 25 lbs of bread flour when she was out on Thursday, and we plan to get more soon. After christmas we'll take a more agressive approach to it and get more each week. Garden seeds will be ordered in the next few weeks too, and we're adding some basic greens that can be grown inside to that order. I'm not taking any chances. Maybe we're just a bit crazy for doing all this, but I'd rather be prepared than not. I'll be purchasing more ammo soon as well. Firearm sales are up 40% here, and ammuniton is up 60%....everyone see's what's coming, and I'll soon join the ranks of these smart individuals. There are too many things on the books for our new p.e., and I want to be ready BEFORE all of these rediculous things are passed. It's a shame when an honest law abiding, hard working, tax paying citizen is punished for the acts of the criminals of our society....or governed by the blind and jaded.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New chickens and others

Today I got some more chickens home from Tammie's. I left work a half hour early to pick them up, get them home, and still have time to pick Lisa up by 5:00.We planned on only 3-5 more, but when I was there, I called Lisa at work and we decided to go ahead and get 7, making our total bird count 10. My point was that we just simply couldn't have an odd number anymore...she just laughed and said to go ahead. I only got to briefly talk to Tammie through the screen door, so honestly I'm not sure what kind of birds I have now, lol. Silly I know, but I don't care and neither does Lisa. I e-mailed her to find out what they are, and when I get a response, I'll post here what the birds are. They settled in fairly well, I expected the little pecking order scuffle which they had, but the last I checked, they all seemed to be doing fine.
Thanksgiving will be the usual dinner here at home with the kids, then off to Lisa's sisters, then my folks for pie later in the day. We tend to eat here early, normally around 2:00, so it won't be a late night, and I can get a good nights sleep before the rest of the weekend. I'm off Thursday and Friday paid, so I'll be doing my best to catch up on some things around here. My main goal is to drop the cigarettes. This slowing down gradually just isn't working for me...when I get bored or idle, I smoke. So when I'm busy, I can ignore it, but when I'm idle, it's right back up to where I was. I'm tired of it and it's time to just do it. Now just to let the kids know they can't smoke upstairs on thanksgiving...... If my friend Frank can pack up one duffle bag, leave everything behind, and leave for another state, surely I can muster up the self control to stop smoking.
Besides catching up on the to-do list this weekend, I plan to catch up on some reading. I have several books I want to finish, and another I want to start. Last week at my normal Goodwill stop, I picked up a copy of the Boyscout handbook for 50 cents. It may sound silly since it's a scout book, but that book is PACKED with usefull information on survival and other techniques. Most of it I know, but there is a lot that I don't. I've always wanted to know more about wild edible plants, and it's in there. Buidling small shelters-in there.....more info than some new survival guides. Let me re-phrase that-"more USEFULL info". Most modern books cover the basics, some more extreme than others, and some are just plain silly. Some of the books out there must be written for the types that lose it when the local Starbucks loses power and they can't get their mocha-java-choco-latte whatever, lol. I see this book being one of the ones in my little library with the torn & beaten pages from re-reading so much. Aside from that, I want to finish one on Outdoor stories, then start reading through the natural/herbal remedy books my sister gave us. I'm fascinated lately by wild edibles and medicinal plants and herbs. I see a winters worth of reading leading to a much larger herb garden next year...like I need more to do around here!

Monday, November 24, 2008

ahh Monday on a 3 day week

The weekend was pretty uneventfull for the most part. Saturday I got the coop addition finished and will be getting the other chickens today or tomorrow after work, all depending on when Lisa gets the car cleaned out. Yesterday was a trip to Tractor Supply to stock up on layer feed, cracked corn, oyster shell, another feeder, and wild bird seed.
The dr's Lisa works for have 4 offices, and they all decided to start doing some charity work this fall & winter. Last month everyone donated cash to the local independant Humane Society, and this month they're donating to the homeless shelter (Haven of Rest). The back of the new Pontiac is loaded with things from her office, and today she is going to the other 3 to pick up what they have. We'll drop it all off when I get off work around 4pm. Just her office alone has 3 boxes of canned goods, a few winter coats, and a bunch of baby clothes. Imagine what the other 3 offices will have.
At home, we've had a guest since last Tuesday. My bosses brother is staying with us till this weekend. ( I knew him before from a week-long salmon fishing trip with his brother in '99) He's gone thru a bitter divorce and his company went bankrupt. He had a rough summer, some of which he spent homeless with nothing but his Harley and the clothes on his back. He's been working with me at that close jobsite, but all he has now is his motorcycle. He was fine till last Monday when we got the first snowfall, then was stuck with no way to get to work from the hotel he was basically living in. It took a whole day of convincing to get him to stay here, but he decided it was for the best. He's just waiting for a check from his attorney on some old business matters,which should be Tuesday, and will be catching a greyhound this weekend to start a new life in Wisconsin. He's not paying hotel costs or eating fast food twice a day, so he's saving that little bit for his trip as well. The bike is in storage, and he's set to go Saturday at 6am on his journey. In a way I'm jealous....leaving it all behind, going to a new state with nothing, and starting from scratch. I honestly don't know if I would have the courage for that big of a move. It's been fun having company here, and Lisa has loved cooking for one more person with an appetite. Yesterday she even taught him how to make homeade bread and noodles since he had asked how to do it; she really enjoyed that. It'll be sad to see him go this weekend, but he's making his big life change, so thats a wonderful thing for him.
Beyond that, there's really nothing all that eventfull going on here. I'll spend the next few evenings digging out all the christmas decorations since we have so much. Everything will be put up Friday and Saturday as always, even our cattle proof tree fencing. Yes fencing. With 5 dogs, we have to fence in the tree. Presents get chewed/eaten, ornaments get broken, lights get pulled....heathen hounds anyway, lol. So a few years ago, I made a 3 foot tall picket fence that hinges around the tree to the wall, making it as dogproof as possible without going to chain link with barbed wire and a mine field, hahaha. We tell people the tree keeps trying to escape when they question the fence...those damn artificial trees are pretty rowdy when cornered!! Luckily with the fence and being teathered with the lights plugged in, we keep it under control.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday morning and snow...no pics today

Well....it looks like the first day of any snow accumulation has arrived. We got a bit over the weekend, but nothing stayed on the ground. I went to feed & water the critters a half hour ago, and there is about 1/2" on the ground and car. I don't dread driving in this, or the weather itself, but work today is going to be a pain. OF COURSE the day I plan to run pipe in the carport it gets cold and snows, lol, there goes that Murphy guy kicking me in the ***s again. Ah well....I grabbed the coveralls so I'll be fine, I just have to listen to all the other trades whine....yay. ugh. It's Ohio-it's November-we get cold and snow-deal with it guys, geeeezzz.
It was an odd change to go into the garage to feed and water the chickens and rabbits. Normally I just go in to get the feed, but now the animals are inside for the winter as well. I finally got to that yesterday morning, and I'm glad I did since we got this snow. I ran a 4 foot flourescent light to right above the chickens, and the rabbits are right beside them, maybe 3 feet away. It seems to light up that side of the garage ok, but I'm going to get a 2nd one this week along with a timer and hopefully heat lamps. I have to block two broken windows in the garage door and seal a bit around the doors to help block drafts, then it should be nice and cozy in there for them. I'll have to get more straw by this weekend for both, but that has to wait as well thanks to the huge amount of checks we've written in the past week. I have a tarp tossed over the grill and will get it all tied down today when I get home, and dig out another tarp to cover the Lowboy. I wanted it inside either the garage or carport thing, but I have more stuff than room, so it has to sit outside. At least where it's parked is a straight line to the garage for the plow, and close to electric to run a block heater. Next year I definitly have to do better preps for winter storage and thin down on some things! I'm playin the old "10 gallons in a 5 gallon bucket" game here, lol.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

back on track

Now that the mess with the car is finally over, we can start concentrating again on things around here. That whole situation had me worried, and I lost touch with everything for a week or so, so nothing really got done at home....now back to it.

This weekend will be spent for the most part on getting Lisa's sewing room put back together. I have to clean and scrub the downstairs bathroom, repair some shredded drywall, replace some scratched-to-hell wood trim, and paint before we start moving things back in. ( NEVER EVER again will there be a cat in this house!!) She has a LOT of things to go through and set up since she does so much-sewing, quilting, rubber stamps, candlemaking, painting, crocheting, beading, jewelry.....TONS of stuff. She plans on going through things box by box as I bring it out and thinning out her surplus, though I don't see much going out the door lol she just can't get rid of anything....I can't laugh really since I'm guilty of the same in the garage, and the two 4x8x1 foot shelf units of coffee cans full of nuts, bolts, washers, screws, nails and other hardware proves it.hahaha It's going to take a while to get her back into full-swing, but after it's all said and done, she'll have her own space back...all 14x26 feet of it.

With all that's been going on, the cold frames never got anything planted in them, so I'm just gonna write them off for this year and plan on planting starts in it in the spring. I was hoping to get some cool weather greens going in it, but life interfered. No biggie, at least it's built and ready for spring. I still have to rake the leaves (as you can see, there's a LOT) and put them on the garden space. The John Deere needs winterized and put into the shed, the Lowboy needs the snowblade mounted and tucked in front of the garage so it has easy acess to electric. It runs on 50w and needs a block warmer to even attempt to start it when it's cold, otherwise it's like trying to turn over a motor filled with frozen molasses. I need to cover the cooker, dump the composters, clean and oil the garden tools, bring in the 2 footlockers with the tents inside, cover/ replace the 2 broken garage door windows, hang the chicken feed hopper, and run lights with a timer to the birds.........can you say busy weekend???? With the change in the season, and the time change, I barely have an hour from when I get home till it gets dark, so time to get things done is really limited. We already lost Monday night since we had to go to the dealership, last night I was tired and grumpy (cut my smoking in half over the past 3 days), and tonight I have to return my uncles truck. I need a vacation, lol.
We somewhat started planning next years garden already, though nothing is set and on paper yet, it's still all just talk. We do plan on socking away materials little by little over the winter to build a coop and get more chickens in the spring (meat birds), since I never have enough projects anyway, haha. Slowly but surely, we'll get where we want to be. It's just taking time. At the very least, taking this path has taught me patience, which is something I really didn't have before. But with every little step is a sigh of relief and a great feeling of accomplishment....I love it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back from the dead.....sort of

Last week was AWFUL with the mess going on with the Saturn, I didn't get online other than to read emails.

As I said in a post before, the transmission went out in our '03 Vue. It turns out that this tranny is nothing but problems, and they are doing NOTHING to adress it. We had it towed to a tranny shop, who can't get parts or a rebuilt one, and their quote was $5800. Another found a used tranny with NO warranty for $3000, or could get me into a new one for $4900. Last and surely not least, the dealer quoted us $6100 =tax and labor.........are you kidding me??????? I was wrong on the payments, we owe a little over a year on it, so adding that with the cost of any of these quotes doubled what the car is worth, really NOT an option.....

Now comes the fun part.Hi mr car dealer man, I have $1000 cash and a 5 year old car with a blown transmission, and by the way, our credit is shit right now....so will you sell me a car???huh???? Saturn only offered us a '06 Vue with a 5 speed, and Lisa doesn't know how or want to learn how to drive a 5 speed. Another dealer offered to get us into a new Ford Fusion, but our payments would have been $550. 2 others couldnt help. Finally the last one Lisa talked to called back and had something. We couldn't get too picky with our situation, but we almost had to have an SUV or truck since Lisa has a bad back and is currently having knee problems.
We ended up with a '06 Pontiac Torrent. It's very close to the Vue style-wise. It's a 6cyl all wheel drive, lots of options, and fairly low mileage. Lisa loves the color, I love the price lol. 2 weeks of jerking around and a bizilllion phone calls and FINALLY something we both like. When it was all finalized, it was 5:00 on saturday, so not all the papers could be signed or get the Vue there, (the tranny shop isn't open weekends), so we're going today to sign our life away for another 5 years....ugh. We were hoping to do away with car payments, but not much of a choice. At least the stress is over, and Lisa had a dependable vehicle. Maybe now I can get my head screwed on straight and get back to concentrating on things around here.......yay.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Copper seems to love the blankets I have on one of my cots in this room lol. Only here at this house would the dogs get their own place to nap while I sit at the desk and read forums......spoiled boys.
We're still working 10 hour days at the hotel job, and it's really putting me behind on getting things done here. My list grows every day with the lack of free time, but hopefully I'll be able to get some done this weekend. (IF we don't work)
I have to get the chickens and rabbits moved and heat/lights ran to them. Of course, this means moving a pile of lumber and the tractor & tiller...which will be fun since the John Deere has a flat. I'll have to somehow cut a foot off the legs of the rabbit hutch since I'm a dips**t and didnt check the height against the garage doors when I built it and it won't fit, ooooops. I'll be running the lights on a timer, and probably be using halogen work lights under the hutches and coop as a heat source rather than an electric heater. I'll have to go get a few bales of straw for the floor and hutches too, but thats easy to find around here. We still haven't had time to get anything in the cold frames, and it may be too late now.
Normally I'd be more upset, but with the new job and all this overtime I won't complain. We need the money with the car being down and xmas approaching fast. Lisa got a $2 raise this week so that will help quite a bit too, as will the bonus's she's getting in this paycheck. If she reaches her quota of patients for each month, the docs give her (and the other office mgrs) $250. They kept forgetting about it, so this week she will have 3 months worth on top of her check with the raise......yay for an extra $750!! Damn car anyway lol that coulda been a heck of a Lehmans shopping spree...ah well.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Despite of the mess with the car, we had a great time out Saturday night. The Witches Ball was a really good time, though I was a bit dissapointed in the vendors and overall theme...but it was their first one so I'm sure they'll get better. Nearly everyone was in costume, mostly themed to the event itself, so there were LOTS of witches. Others were pixies, fairies, wizards, one Cinderella, one flying monkey, a hilarious girl scout zombie, 2 vampires (including Lisa), and I was the lone cowboy till around 8pm. We stayed through the main ceremony, feast, and most of the live band. We wanted to stay for the drumming circle, but decided we better head to Mike's for his annual party.
We got there to find the entire house decorated, not a single room was missed. The yard of course was a cemetary, the living room was a mortuary, the kitchen was a mad butcher shop, and the basement, his masterpiece, was area 51. I can see why it took him so long to get this together, he did an amazing job. Armed guards (Mike and Aaron) escorted us into the alien filled area complete with the sounds of machines, computers, moans, and other various noises. Warning lights flashed, alien eyes flashed, sirens blared, experiments and preserved alien piecy-parts bubbled in jars, broken pipes spewed steam, scientists (Wendy and her friends) warned us of escaped aliens (see picture) and chemical spills ....awesome!
We ended up staying there till almost 2am before we headed home, with only 4 of us still there and awake. Lisa, myself, Tanya, and Kris (mikes g/f) pretty much talked from 11 till we left. Gotta love a nearly 3 hour conversation on religion and the myths of Halloween....Sadly the party ended long before, but we all still had a good time.
Now back to reality and this whole "work" thing.......*sigh*

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dead car...

Yesterday after Lisa got off work, we had to head out to get tickets for the Witches Ball on Saturday. We stopped to fill the gas tank, and went towards the store on the xway. As I was getting off the ramp, something grumbled and felt wierd in the car, I shook it off as the awful pavement. We drove 1/4 mile down the road to the bank, and as we pulled in, the car did it again, and once more as we pulled out. We decided to head home rather than get the tickets, and the car slipped, chuttered, whined, and jerked the whole way home......yep, transmission.
Of course, by then all the tranny shops are closed, so I get online to get a few phone numbers to call tomorrow (today). After getting the numbers, I get curious and check a few online car forums, and got a HUGE shock. Apparantly '03 Saturn Vue's are notorious for bad transmissions. I read post after post of the same things happening to literally hundreds of people on the same exact vehicle. Many stated that after talking to Saturn's customer care, they are well aware of the problem yet doing nothing about it. A few people said that Saturn offered to help by covering half of the repair bill, but most were dealt with covering it themselves. Now for the kicker....... EVERY person that posted had the same figures about repair cost from Saturn, every single one. The price????.......hold on to your hats.......$5-6000 plus labor. I almost fell outta my chair when I was reading this. There is NO WAY we can afford that much right now, not a chance. We're down to the last 6 months or so of payments on that thing, and now it decides to take a s**t?? I honestly don't know what we are going to do. We sure as hell don't have that kind of cash laying around, and of course can't take on another car payment. Even if we could, we couldn't get financed. Thanks to 20 hour weeks most of the early spring, bills were late and our credit is in the crapper. We're really stuck. Just when we were FINALLY getting caught up on bills, here comes this royal kick in the ass.
Luckily, today is Holly's day off, so she is coming here and running us both to work. I'll be making some calls to tranny shops today from work to get an estimate, which hopefully will be lower that the outrageous ones from Saturn, like that really helps anyway. Half or whole, we just don't have it. Lisa has to work tomorrow, and I don't know how she is going to get there. Work will be getting me a company vehicle soon, but that doesn't help a bit right now. I'm angry, frustrated, depressed, and worried all at the same time.....it's not a good day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Last post continued...

Looks like the digital may finally be deciding to take decent pics again, so I snapped one of one wall of my new room. This one shows my stock of camp stoves (3 burner fuel, 2 burner propane and single burner fuel), propane, camp cookware, lamp oil, camp dinnerware, heater, 1 of the propane lanterns, 4 oil railroad type lanterns, handheld cb radio, flahslights,perculators, teapot, and hunting & fishing knives. There is still a bit of camping gear in the garage I need to bring in, plus bring down the spare oil lamps from elsewhere in the house. I have plenty of other things to be finished and organized in here, and I'll post pics as they get together....fishing gear, hunting gear, tents, cots, sleeping bags, air matresses, butchering supplies, fire starters, fire extinguishers ( A MUST!), ammo, guns, candles, rope, tarps........I have quite a bit already. Others I have listed to buy.
People I talk to already think we're nuts for the whole homesteading thing, but when I bring up backstocking/preparadness, they almost laugh as most people do to anyone else that does the same thing. It makes it hard to talk about to most anyone. I recently read an article that compared survivalists to Ted Kysinski (spelling?). People do tend to laugh, but when they don't, you get that look, that "you're f**king nuts" look. Tell them we grow our own food and they say "thats great", tell them we have chickens and meat rabbits and they say "ummm ok", tell them we want a wringer washer and they say "why the hell would you want THAT??", tell them we dont own a microwave and they look at us like we're aliens, tell them we want to get rid of the tv and they ask "what will you DO?", but tell them we want to stock a years supply of food and they are ready to call the guys in the white coats with the cute little jacket that lets you hug yourself all day.......Let 'em say what they want, let 'em think what they want, fine by me. They have their opinions and views, and I have mine.
We aren't the folks living in a cabin hourding MRE's, AR15's and 20 different camo outfits, (though I do own several of both), but we're what I would call realist survivalists. We aren't unlike the people from the cold war era of the 50's-early 70's who built bomb shelters in their basements and stocked them full of food and supplies. These people had every right to be scared, and to be prepared for the worst. But just like those who stocked for Y2K, they were a joke to most since they prepared for something that never happened....luckily for them. Just because nothing ever DID happen, it doesn't make them nutcases for preparing for it. That's where we come in. We prep for many reasons, all of which I have said in previous posts. With our current war/enemy status, the way our economy is going, the thought of losing one of our jobs, injuries, illness, natural disaster, power outages, and many others, we want to be ready.
It's not like we stock things we don't actually USE either. We grow and can our own food already; I already had the fishing, hunting,shooting and camping gear; we already use the oil lamps throughout the house, and anything we will buy in bulk we already use. (oats, flour, rice, etc) That's the key to the way we are stocking-stocking things we use and little to nothing else. Sure I don't really NEED all the ammo, but I bought most when it was less expensive; we don't really NEED 2 cases of propane for a 4 day a year camping trip, but it was on sale *cheap*; we don't really NEED 150 lbs of flour, but Lisa bakes a LOT already....so nothing is really wasted time or money. Plus another thought.....someday we'll be at the point where we will have to use up some of this stock so it doesn't go bad....we could easily do a month or better on rotating stock and making room for new alone and not have to visit a store at all for anything but milk. Hows that for a thought??

Monday, October 20, 2008

preps and stocking

Yesterday we FINALLY got around to getting signed up at sams club. Lisa's work paid for memberships for all the employees, so wth. Even though I hate the idea of giving more money to Walmart, there are some good deals there.
While walking through the isles, looking at gallon jugs of mayonaise and 5 gallon buckets of pickles, we started to fill the cart with things that we actually USE, and things to stock up on. We didn't get a lot, but we got the notebook from Lisa's purse and started a list of what we plan to get on the next trip. 25lb bags of flour, 50lb bags of rice, 12 packs of Sterno (chafing fluid by store/martha stewart definitions), 5 gallon buckets of cooking oil, cases of TP, 25lb bags of sugar,coffee, tea.......lots of good deals on great things to stockpile. We came home, went through the list, and once again went through a list of all things necessary on the list we already made. We spent a few hours going through our list while the sound of bubbling water from the canner full of chicken soup filled the house....not a bad afternoon at all. We did get 50 lbs of flour and a weeks worth of lunch food, so we did well. We normally don't buy junk food, but neither of us could resist the 12 pack of cheese danishes......wth, we gotta indulge once in a while.
We talked more about canning and storing food, and decided on making some other things to can. We'll start this week with chili, then move on to various meats after this weekend. The weekend will be too busy to do much since Lisa will work Saturday till noon, and then the Witches Ball and my friend Mike's annual Halloween party after that. Possibly on Sunday we can do some more.
While we were talking and the canner was going, I sat and cut up two 5 gallon buckets of the last of the green peppers for the freezer. I also got some carpet thread and strung up the last of the chili's and jabenero's to dry and hung them here in the basement room. It stays dry and warm down here, so they should dry well. When the chili's are dry, I'll grind them by hand with a mortice and pestle and make my own chili powder and try the same with the jabeneros. I figured it was worth a try with them too, if it doesn't work well, I'm not out anything but a little time. Just one more thing to add to the stock list and cross off under the "spices" category. Our list is a bit beyond the basic necessities, though we have a seperate small list for a BOB or to have ready to go beside it. IF something were to happen and our preps came in handy, I don't want to be the guy living on ramen noodles and potted meat.(ICK) I'd much rather have a good stockpile of good quality food and food prep items. I hope we never will need it, but I'm happy it's there just in case.
The food list will take a while to work on, but slowly in between I am stocking other things down here as well. I had some time to kill before Lisa got off work on Friday, so I went to the Walmart near her work and got 10 packs of Coleman mantles. I was looking at some prices and figured by the time I replace the globe, pump, and strikers in dads old fuel lanterns, I can just get a new propane one. I already have 2 propane lanterns, but I'll go ahead and get 2 more with the plastic case and start buying more cans of propane. I already have a dozen, but more can't hurt. I'll go ahead and get a couple spare globes too. Same as oil lamp chimneys, they're glass and DO break, so having spares is a good idea.
I plan on continuing this post later, but for now I have to feed the critters and head to work.....grr thats what I get for sleeping till 6 instead of getting up at 5 as always........

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Today I am skipping any talk of homesteading, misc happenings, family, etc. I have something else to say. It's something very important to me, and though some may not agree with my viewpoint on it, I frankly don't care. Sorry to be so blunt, but it's just the way it is. Understand when you've been here.

Today was a special day that's been waiting on the sidelines for 22 years. Today the state of Ohio executed Richard Cooey. That fat, whining, coward of a man finally got his just rewards.
Why does this mean so much to me? Look at the photo to the left and meet Wendy Offredo. I knew Wendy, we worked together. We weren't best friends, buddies, or pals, but friends and co-workers. It was 1986, and Wendy, same as me at the time, was 21 years old. We worked together at a Woolworth store at a shopping mall. Wendy was a beautiful girl, and worked 2 jobs to put herself through school.
Wendy and her friend, Dawn McCreery, were going home from Wendy's second job at Brown Derby, (where they both worked), when Cooey and his friends threw a large rock off a highway overpass, hitting her car. (and by rock, I mean bowling ball size) They drove around, posed as "good citizens", and offered help. The girls got a ride from them to a pay phone, and Cooey himself spoke to Wendy's mother over the phone, promising to bring them home safely after such an awful accident. Instead, Cooey and his friends drove the girls to a secluded area, and repeatedly raped them, beat them, and eventually murdered them both. He left those young girls there in the woods like garbage without a care in the world.
Wendy was scheduled to work that next day, and we got the call early in the morning before the store opened. I wish I could remember for sure, but I believe it was her own mother that called with the news. Let me say, there wasn't a dry eye in the store. Everyone loved Wendy, you coouldn't help it. She was always friendly, always at work on time, always smiling, and never complained about customers at the service desk where she worked every day. Most of the store employees sat downstairs in the break room, comforting each other, and trying to figure out WHY.
It's been 22 years since that day. 22 long years for Wendy and Dawn's families to get this closure. 22 years of waiting for the excuses to stop. Excuses like his last one, that he was "too fat" to execute...that his veins would be hard to find. I won't go into a rant about our prison system and how prisoners should do physical labor, but I still really want to know how someone gets so heavy in there....he blamed solitary confinement and prison food.
But now it's finally over. At 10:28 this morning, Cooey was declared dead by lethal injection. I'm not a religious man by any means, but if there is a hell, I truly hope he is burning....................................................................................finally.

latest on the home front...

Yesterday was a rotten day at work for the most part....fabricating pipe on the 1st floor, carrying it to the 3rd,through a 2x4 acess door, into the attic, across the trusses, and hanging it. Get another measurement, repeat process, ughh. The pipe threader decided to die before lunch and we had to wait for another one. Hopefully today goes better!!
After work, I came home, took all my tools out of my uncles truck, and returned it to him. He needed it back to haul some more free firewood and get a load of manure for the areas of his place he is working on. He's 73 years old, and has been spending the past 2 weeks moving and leveling dirt with his Massey loader and the neighbors bulldozer. (must be nice having a neighbor who owns a BIG tool/equiptment rental business!) Slowly but surely, he's leveling out about 5 of his 8 acres. Why at 73 years old? Because he knows we'll farm it when we "take over" as he puts it. He told me all about the trees he wants to take down next year, again, "in case you and Lisa want to build a barn there for horses". Sometimes it makes me happy to see that he understands what we do and supports it, but at other times, it makes me sad thinking that he's preparing his place for when he passes away. I suppose I shoould be flattered that he trusts us to take care of the place, but I still feel somewhat guilty about it. Depending on the work schedule, I'll be over there 1 day this weekend to help him. He was pushing around piles and found 2 HUGE chunks of rotten tree trunk that need moved. Of course they're on the edge of the side thats already finished, so he can't go on that side and push them back. We'll have to roll em over a chain and pull them to a spot to be buried. I'll make time for that in between working on Lisa's Saturn, working on the never ending woodpile here, raking leaves for the compost pile, winterizing the small tractor and tiller, general cleanup, hauling empty canning jars from the basement to the kitchen, visiting my parents, hanging mirrors and towel bars at Holly's new house, hanging the new feed hopper, and.....................damn I'm busy lol.

This weekend Lisa plans to start canning large amounts of chicken soup. She made the stock already and it's in the freezer, so it shouldn't take long. I want to do chili next, but since I'm the only one that eats it, it can wait. We're hoping to take some of this overtime and visit a good meat market soon too, and can some meat rather than freeze it all since we have that pressure canner now. I'll just call all of this "convienence" food for us. It's far easier to open a jar than thaw something out, especially with our normally packed schedules, and it sure beats anything store bought from a can. Between gifts from my mother, my uncles yard sale find, and a pile I found in the basement (no where near where I would have ever thought to look), we have about 7 or 8 dozen canning jars. Neither of us like to see empty jars, so we'll fill 'em with anything we can.

Things will start to wind down soon, and we can start other projects. Lisa can make a try at cheesemaking, and make another batch of candles. I can finish this room and get her sewing room put back together. After the snow starts to fall, I want to re-do the laundry room. I'll be re-routing some plumbing for a future double basin washtub and wringer, plus putting the electric washer and dryer on the same side of the room rather than opposite sides like they are now. I want to make a hanging clothes rack similar to the one we see at Lehmans too. I hate having to use the dryer all winter long. The walls are bare concrete block, so I'll mount studs and drywall the whole room, add a drywall ceiling, and remake a door to the pump room. Ahhh the joys of being a homeowner and homesteader.....the list never ends.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Weekend off

I took this weekend off to get some things done around here. I could have worked overtime all weekend, but the weather was going to be nice, and I had to play catch-up after working 2 weeks straight.
I managed to get more of the woodpile cut up and stacked, and then found more thanks to another fallen apple tree. I'll try to get that cut up later this week. I picked the last of the jabeneros and green peppers so Lisa could make more jelly and stuffed peppers, then went ahead and pulled the plants. There weren't many Hungarian Hots left, but I picked them anyway for pickling, and pulled those as well. I took out the last of the onions, beets, turnips, and kalarabi to go inside, and pulled the last of the tomato plants too. Nothing left out there now but carrots, some greens, and the hilled potato's.

Rather than do it all by hand, I put the blade on the International, and started leveling out the raised beds since next year I plan to reverse the direction they were this year. I'm pushing soil around nice and slow, and hear this strange engine noise behind me....lol....there's the little boy from next door, following me around the dirt on his little 50cc 4 wheeler. I got a good laugh at it, then decided to let him have some fun. I took the blade and pushed some soil into little dips and hills...his own little off road racetrack. He was having a ball. Next thing ya know, here comes his dad, laughing and encouraging him to hit the dips like a jump, and his younger brother on an electric 4 wheeler trying to keep up. The neighbor walked over with his grandaughter, who just got her own little 4 wheeler for her birthday, and she lasted about a minute before she ran over and had her dad go home for hers so she could play. It wasn't long before I had 3 kids running in circles around the garden, and parents, grandparents, and aunts all standing around laughing and taking pictures. I dug out a hole about 3 feet wide by 6 inches deep then let the hose run, hehe, their own little mud pit. 3 kids, covered in mud, laughing like mad...it was fun watching them. There were plenty of pictures taken and I'll have to have someone e-mail them to me so I can post a few. They ran around that little track for a good 2 hours straight before they all had to go home to eat dinner. We hosed off the mud covered 4 wheelers and 3 pairs of seriously mud packed feet and off they went. It wasn't much of a productive 2 hours, but we all had fun.

Today is the big housewarming party, so not much will get done here. I can't wait for the reactions of everyone on Holly's first house. Hopefully they're all as proud of her as we are. It starts at 2, and Lisa is already there helping to get all the food ready. I'll be heading there soon after I finish a few things that need done.

Speaking of which.....I better un-glue myself from this chair and head outside.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

12:45 and wide awake

No idea why I'm not all that tired. I should be, I've been up since 5am, but I'm not.

Today was pretty uneventful. Another fun day at the hotel job, but I still can't complain since it's so close. I left there at 3:30, went to the bank, and made my usual Friday Goodwill stop. Nothing, not a thing worth getting, so I headed home. Lisa called as she was leaving work and asked what I wanted to do for dinner, and I suggested going out. I have a good bit of overtime on this check, and we deserve a night out. So as I waited for her, I cut the last 2 sunflowers and set them out to dry. I looked over the garden, and discovered I have another boatload of peppers to pick. I took this weekend off since there is so much to get done, and the housewarming party is Sunday, so I'll just add pepper picking to my std list for tomorrow. I'm glad there are more out there though, after eating 2 jelly jars of the jabenero jelly Lisa made, I know we better make as much as possible....and this time in pints.
She came home, we jumped in the truck, and went to a local family resteraunt for dinner. Nothing special, just good basic food. After we ate, we went to the BIG Goodwill store 15 minutes away. I was hoping to find some cheap furniture for this room, but what was there was either in awful shape or overpriced. We did manage to get about 30 candles at the tune of 3 for $1 (can never have too many!), some were broken, but she'll melt them and make new as she always does. I found another 25lb feed hopper for $5, which struck me as odd since I found the same one there in July for the same price. Not an item you'd expect to see twice, guess it was my lucky day lol. We left there and headed for Walgreens for Halloween cards for Lisa to mail out. She always does them, but she ooops'd and forgot to send some to the kids at the new address, so we just needed 2. While we were there, I added to my stockpile by getting 2 packages each of shaving soap and double edge blades. I'll vac-seal the blades and store them down here with the soap. We picked up another small yard Halloween decoration, Lisa's prescription, and found some reeeeeeeeealllllllly cheap old black and white horror movies for a buck each...now how can ya turn down a 1 dollar movie?? We came home, fed the pack-o-hounds, and watched one. (each dvd actually has 2 movies on each-so we really got 4!!!!) Let me tell ya........Atom Age Zombies was worth the dollar LOL we pretty much laughed through the whole thing. Lisa started to fall asleep in the middle of Revenge of the Zombies, and went to bed. I wasn't tired, so here I sit.

Earlier, I sat here and read through an interesting blog that was suggested on the Backwoods Home forums. The post suggested was titled: 100 Things That Disappear in a Panic. It's a pretty interesting list. Some things on the list I hadn't thought of, and have added to my personal list, (like writing paper or a battery operated co2 detector), and some we wouldnt have use for (like baby items), but it's still a great list. It got me to double check my list for anything else, but it seems like I have all bases covered. Tomorrow I'll bring in the last of the camping gear, even the cots, sleeping bags, and my tents (2-4 man, and 1-12 man). They aren't really items necesary to have in here, but I have the room now, and it's better to have them stored inside so they don't rot or mildew.

I took a few minutes and posted some misc pics at the bottom of the page, most are on the one older post I made of my Photobucket account, but I thought it was better to have them directoy on here. I'm going to try to take more tomorrow if my camera stops acting up.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Here I sit, surrounded by hounds. A basset to the right of me, a beagle to the left, and a hot cup of coffee in front...life is good. Today I spent the day climbing up and down ladders and through an attic, so tonight I decided I needed to take a break. I've been reading and relaxing since I got home.

After writing my last 2 posts, I've been thinking non stop on ways to become more self sufficient at home. I'm not only trying to think of ways to save money, but also thinking of ways to not need it. That's always a huge issue that people don't understand. They get this puzzled look on their face when I tell them I am working toward a time when I dont NEED much money. "But you always need money" is usually the response. Those who don't get it shouldn't comment, but thats their right, so I just smile and nod as I TRY to explain.

I have come up with a few ideas. One will be talking to my friend Jim about using some of his land to grow wheat, straw, and possibly corn. He has 17 acres and does nothing with it but tell people he has 17 acres. He likes living "in the country" and having all the "old time" things around for decoration, but doesnt get any of what I do. What a prime opportunity...unused land 10 minutes away. Plus maybe he can learn something...who knows. He's a great guy, but definitly not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Other steps will be adding to the chickens and rabbits. More meat and egg production at minimal cost will be a big benefit. I want to get 1 more doe for the Californian buck I have. That way I can alternate litters (hopefully) with 2 does. I also want to get 3 New Zealand Whites, same thing, 1 buck and 2 does. Rabbits are just too easy NOT to. They're easy, feed cheap, make NO noise, produce a lot, and are a very good meat. (see chart above) Next will be to add more chickens. Not necessarily more layers, but to get meat birds. Red meat just doesn't agree well with Lisa's stomach most of the time, so she eats a lot of chicken. She makes all kinds of recipes with it, and has me eating more myself. So why buy it when I can just raise more? I know what they ate, I know where they came from, and I know what's in the meat. It just makes sense on both counts. I also want to hunt and fish more. I grew up with and enjoy both. It's not just the "food" sense, or the sport of it, it's different. When I'm alone in the woods or sitting in the boat in the middle of the lake, I'm at peace. I have to stop working around here every single day and give myself a break and time to enjoy something. It's gotten more into my head with both since I put this room together. At this very moment I am sitting here staring at my first pheasant, my first mallard, my first wood duck, my first squirrel, and my first bass. (Uncle B has my first deer) I just miss it. And hey.....if it helps keep the freezer full, I'm all for it. Fish, squirrel, rabbit, duck, goose, venison.....mmmmm. I'm making myself hungry lol.
These aren't HUGE steps, but they aren't tiny ones either. They won't happen overnight, more like over the winter. But they will happen. Little by little we are getting there, but sometimes the urge comes to do more, like it has this week. But this week it's hit harder for some reason. Maybe it's because I have this room all together and can see all the books, notebooks, catalogs, files, and papers all at once that used to be scattered throughout the house. Maybe it's because the kids are gone and we have the freedom to do more now without hearing grief about being "wierd"...plus having the utilities drop by probably 75% will help. It's almost time to start plotting out next years garden. Time to make a material list for rabbit hutches and a new chicken coop for meat birds, time to lay out the whole place and decide what areas get bigger next year, what stays the same, and what will switch around. Time to get out the seed books and figure out what to order for next year. Time to order plants for timely delivery. Time to decide what crops did well and will replant, what didn't, and whether we will try them again next year. But...we have all winter to decide and plan..... it's only October.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I'm glad I read that little article I mentioned...

Yes folks.....that's mens underwear worn as a halter top, LMAO. Too funny. I'm all for being frugal, but WOW! I just had to share that one!
Lisa and I haven't gotten to talk tonight, so it will have to wait till tomorrow. She went with her daughter to get some things for the housewarming party this Sunday and won't be back till probably after 9.
Today I got home, read my usual forums and blogs, and headed outside. I filled the chicken feed bin, replaced a broken water bottle in the rabbit hutch, and brought out most of Lisa's outdoor halloween decorations. I got everything set up that I had brought out, including about 10 fake foam headstones, and spread some of the brush from the fallen trees amongt them. I figured it would look more than just like grass with headstones in it lol. I drove a few stakes in the ground, and wrapped them with the dried corn stalks from the garden..I had more than I thought!!! Tomorrow I'll get the rest out and set up, and run cords to the spotlights I have from last year. I love decorating for Halloween...when else can I make the yard look like one of my favorite heavy metal videos???? LOL
Tonight I decided to relax and sit in my new room after dinner....NO T.V.!! I already read through the latest Mother Earth News again, and after this post, I'll check out the new Countryside. After that, I'll more than likely start reading Four Season Harvest again. I skimmed through it when I got it for Xmas and havent touched it since. I want to learn more on what I can grow possibly this winter in the cold frame other than a few greens...gotta be something!
I sat earlier as I ate and went through my notebook I started for preparadness/emergency/shtf and realized something. What I have in there are the BASIC things we need to live. No frills, no extra's, no convienences, no frills, just the basics...and it make me think. (again) What do we currently have in the house that ISN'T on that list? What do we have that we can certainly live without? The answer is "A LOT". Most of my belongings that arent on that list are tools, others are hunting and fishing gear far beyond the basics. Lisa's list would be her sewing & other craft items. Both of us have far more than we really need, but both of us have things that are at least helpful or productive. My tools can make things like the cold frame, fix the tractors and vehicles, make home repairs.....etc.My fishing and hunting gear can bring us food and if ever needed, be home defense. Lisa can make damn near anything. She quilts, sews, makes candles, paints, does needlepoint, and all kinds of other crafts. Some are useful like mending clothes, making quilts for warmth, candles for light, and other crafts can be sold or given as gifts. So basically, both of us on those 2 large lists are on the "keeper" side of things. Now to figure out what ISN'T on the keeper side.
We had a list long ago that I can't seem to find and will have to make again. As a starter, we listed every single thing we had in the house that used electricity. We listed room by room, every thing there was, no matter how small. If it got plugged in, it went on the list. We made the list with 3 columns. One for things that were always on, one for things that were at least always plugged in, and another for things that we only had to plug in to use. When we were done, we were amazed at the amount of things we actually had that were electric. When we went down the list, we found some to be so obsolete and rarely used that they went to Goodwill. (like a quesadilla maker and cappucino machine) The microwave has been gone for a few years, long before we started this list. The electric griddle went bye-bye as well, along with the mixer, "spare" toaster, and 3 of the 5 crockpots we had for some reason. Less electric gadgets, less clutter, more savings down the road. It felt good to get rid of unnecessary items, and we continued through the whole house eliminating gadgets and gizmos and clutter and energy hogs....basically anything we hadn't used in 6 months went out the door. Even clothes we hadn't worn went to Goodwill. Face it, I'm not planning on wearing those Dockers anytime soon lol. I'm a jeans and tshirt kinda guy...always have been, always will be.
Now that we have gone pretty much through the house and eliminated most every unnecessary electric item, its time to look at everyday things. How we live and what we do...basically what we spend money on and how we spend our time. It's time for big changes. I'm tired of making excuses and having reasons to avoid doing this or that to better our lives. Starting next week, if we don't HAVE to have something, we aren't buying it. Starting first with my cigarettes and gatorade addiction. Sure, gatorade is cheap, it's only 2 for $3 at the gas station....but I buy 2 every day for work. Figure last week....I worked 7 days. So 7 days x $3= $21 I spent on gatorade. If I continued that for a month, thats approximately 30 days x $3 day or $90 a month in gatorade! A year would be $1095 a year. That's one helluva Lehmans shopping spree. Smokes are even worse at almost $4 a pack now. 2 packs a day @ $4 each x 30 days=$240 a month....no damn wonder we're always short on cash. I HAVE to quit, no ways around it. Besides the fact that at 43 now, I'm noticing the affects more and more. Especially at work now going up and down 3 flights of stairs and ladders all day. Add just those 2 together, and eliminating both would save us $330 a month. (give or take a few) THATS MORE THAN OUR CAR PAYMENT!!!!! Step one figured out and will start this weekend. As I said......no more excuses. None of the "just one last one" or "I'd kill for a smoke". It's time to get my head together and get some self control and discipline. If I can stop eating junk food, stop relying on a microwave, and stop watching tv for 5 hours a night, I can sure as hell stop smoking and drinking gatorade.
Now thats just ONE step. Imagine what we can do with the grocery bill, the utilities, and other spending if we put our minds to it. The savings can get us the woodburner we want, or the grain mill, or the wringer washer. All of which will save money and simplify our lives, which are some of our goals. It's time I looked beyond gardens, chickens, and rabbits and concentrated on the rest of our lives....no more excuses.

what to do now?

Since I've never shared it before, to the left is a picture of the little chicken coop I built for the 3 layers we currently have. It has wheels now, and I move it every other day to fresh grass around the back and side yard. You can see the ramp on the left bottom that the birds use as acess to the roost and nest boxes in the top. I nailed pieces of shoe molding every 3 inches along the length so they have something for traction, it's worked great. Not bad for being made from 2 landscape timbers (free from an 18 wheeler load of pipe), a small rabbit hutch (free from a freecycler), a few 2x4's (bulk load buy from craigslist),hinges and latches from the Habitat for Humanity store (at $1 each set), and chicken wire from Lowes. All in all I have only around $25 invested in it, including the brown paint done after this pic was taken ("oops" mix bin from lowes at $2 for a gallon can). It works fine for now with only 3 birds, but next year will get a bigger model of the same basic design when we get more birds.
The initial reason for this post was to talk a bit about where we go and what we do next. While reading the newest issue of Mother Earth News, there was a letter from an older woman in her late 60's. She told how she dreamed of homesteading her whole life, but something always got in the way. She's retired now, and has poor health, and can't. Her idea behind her letter was basically this-What is stopping you from following your dreams and when do you plan to do it before it's too late? It really made me think....a lot.
What DO we do next? We talk constantly about self suffiency, and make small changes here and there, but when are we going to take the BIG steps? What is stopping us? We have electricity and gas for heat and hot water. When can we get to the point that we can shut them off or use them very little? Why aren't we there yet?
Of course there is a money issue. We have a house and car payment, one credit card payment (we dont use it anymore), one loan payment, and utilities. We have electricity and gas. Cable is an option really, but we do occasionally watch something and I use the roadrunner for internet service. Gas runs the heat and hot water, everything else is electric. Utility bills SHOULD drop quite a bit now that the kids are gone, but they're still there. I'd love to go solar, but you have to BUY the materials of course, which would create another bill. I'd love to go with a wood cookstove and another for heat, but again, those aren't free. So what do we do?
First and foremost, I want to REALLY concentrate on getting some things paid off. I hate the fact that Lisa has to work, and so does she. For 3 years when we first married, she stayed home. Things ran smooth, bills were minimal,more got done, we were basically in better shape as far as the household goes. I lost my job and couldnt find work for almost 9 months, she had to go to work. We got so far behind that we both still have to work now. We miss the days of her being home, and we both want that again.
Tonight I want to sit down with her and seriously look at the bill situation. I want to do everything we can to get the most to these bills and get them paid down or off. I don't want to keep making excuses. I want to follow our dreams, even if it means making sacrifices. It's high time we WENT forward instead of just looking there.
I'll try to post tomorrow on how the talk went and what we have come up with. Off to work for now......

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekend happenings

I worked 10 hour days all last week, and then all weekend, 8 hours on Saturday and 5 hours on Sunday.

Saturday I had left work to run to the feed store to get layer feed, only to find out they close at 2pm, grrr. Yesterday we left at noon, and I drove 20 minutes to the nearest TSC, and they were sold out! ARRGH! The girl there called 2 other stores for me, and they were sold out as well. WTH?? The closest one that had any in stock was Massilon, and I'm not driving the 40 minutes there in a truck that gets 15mpg on it's best day. Lisa doesn't have to go in today till 11, so she's going to the feed store before work.

After I got home, I talked to Lisa for a bit, who was busy again all day behind the canner. She got 12 pints of pickled hot peppers ut up, another 6 jars of my pepper jelly, and 16 quarts of tomato's. I went outside and dug the last of the onions, covered the beets since we won't get t0 them till later this week, and dug all the potato's. It was our first try at potatos here this year, and it was a total sucess. We'll definitly do more next year. I dug a trench, lined it with straw, filled it with the potatos, covered it with straw, then about 8 inches of soil. Our first little potato hill is roughly 8 feet long and 2 feet wide...not bad at all for our first year at 'em! I'll keep track of how they get used till next season, and base next years plantings on that. One more thing we've figured out we can easily do.....yay! The tomato's are done, so I pulled all the plants and put them in a pile for the composters. One day this week I'll put the blade back on the Lowboy and level out all the raised beds where they were. Next year I'll run them opposite the direction they were this year. They were n-s, next year they'll be e-w. With the corn in the back, and facing n-s, the back row didn't get enough sun with the front rows blocking it, so hopefully that will eliminate the problem.

I finished my day by working on our basement room a bit. I cleaned out the desk drawers, and organized and filed all the misc papers we had all over the house. We had papers printed from offline on all kinds of subjects, and now they're sorted and filed by category, FINALLY. I also sorted and filed all the magazines we had laying around too, just too much info in those to toss 'em after we read them. We get Mother Earth News, Backyard Poultry, Countryside, Field & Stream, and occasionally at the store get Grit and Hobby Farms. LOTS to sort, but I think I got 'em all. It will be great to be able to find something now when I want to read a particular article or paper again, rather than search through piles all over the house. Soon this room will be ready, and we plan on spending a lot of time in it. Next will be putting Lisa's sewing room back together......does it ever end?????

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday morning and colllllllld

This week has been slow on doing things around here. The weather has been cold and rainy, a few nights we dipped down to the low 40's, and kept me out of garden work. Tonight I'll be picking the last of the tomatos and peppers so Lisa can finish the canning over the weekend while I'm working some overtime. Till this jobsite is caught up, we'll be working 10 hour days through the week and 8's on saturdays, so the Lehman's shopping fund grows lol. I figured that with an extra 16 hours at time and a half, I should bring home another $450 a week till this is done, yippee!!
Since the weather has been kinda crappy, I've been putting together my basement room little by little. It's going to be a SHTF/emergency room, as well as my office and a sort-of second living room. I've brought all of the homesteading/self suffiency/gardening/etc... book down here and have them all up in the desk shelves. Also I brought in all the camping gear, camp cookware, lanterns, oil lanterns, lamp oil, fishing, and hunting gear that was stored all over the house and in the garage. It sure makes it nice to have it all in one place. Now I can inventory everything and know what we need to stock up on. After it's all set, this winter I'll move in the gun safe FINALLY and get all that back in order after a few years of collecting dust. I'll also be giving the generator a permanent home in the mudroom at the back of the house. It'll be easier to get to and run cords inside, plus closer to the well pump which I plan to fit with an emergency plug. When I'm finished with this room, in the event of an emercency, even in winter, we can practically live out of it...I can't wait to see it done.
This sunday I'll be clearing out the right side of the garage and moving the rabbits inside, then making the bigger chicken coop for in there as well. I never got around to getting the woodburner from my uncles and rigging it up, but I'll have electric heat and light out there for them so it'll be fine.
Ooops just realized the time, gotta fly to work. More to come soon.........

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday-New job & misc other happenings

Today I start a new job. I'm returning to my roots in the fire sprinkler trade by going back to the company that started me off. Last Thursday was the last straw with my latest company. I left here at 6am, stopped at the gas station and the brake pedal went to the floor. I turned around, drove home reeeeeeeaaaalllllly slow, and parked it. I tried to call our mechanic, who unsurprisingly didn't answer his phone. I tried again at 7:15, and he told me he would send a tow truck and bring me another van around 8:30-9:00.....uh huh. 11:50 my phone rings and he is "on the way", 12:55 he arrives, only to tell me he had to deliver some parts to 2 of the plumbers on a jobsite. (this job is 15 minutes from the shop) The first thing I hear is that I supposedly broke the brake line myself since "you didn't want to work today"....that was it. He drove my van to the shop with barely any front brakes, and I followed in the flatbed that he had driven to my house. At the shop, I transferred everything of mine from the old van to this other one, drove it home, and loaded it all in my trailer. One phone call and I had another job ready to start on Monday (today). That place has been nothing but trouble for a year, getting worse with each passing day. Job material orders being lost or forgotten, lying about job hours, prints so awful that we have to re-design in the field, and grief over taking time off when my dad was in the hospital. I had Lisa follow me Saturday to the shop, and I left the van there, keys, gas card and all. It wasn't even worth trying to talk to them about, they don't listen. There are 2 of us doing all the sprinkler work there, and at least a dozen plumbers. We do jobs that bring in checks of $40,000 a month, the plumbers change out $300 hot water tanks or snake someones drain. Who gets the glory and attention? They do. My partner drove his van all last winter with no heat, bald tires, and bad brakes, with no real excuse for anything not being fixed. He's in a different van now since that transmission went out, but as soon as a plumber needed a van, that one was rebuilt from the ground up. New brakes, tires, transmission, heat AND a/c fixed (we were told they don't fix a/c), new paint job, interior shelves....the works. Screw em. I'm going back home where I belong. With the guys I knew for 8 years, where we all got along, and where it always seemed like a family. My first jobsite today is an old hotel 10 minutes away, and plastic pipe. I feel spoiled already, lol.

Our Saturday was enjoyable after I left that van there. We went to a pagan festival not 15 minutes from the house. It was small, but a great atmosphere. Lots of friendly people, vendors, and several different things on a stage built in a field. We watched a local band I had never heard of, only to find out that the bass player was a neighbor from when I started dating Lisa 10 years ago. We bought a few small things, several good used books, watched a belly dance group, ate a small lunch, and left. We stopped on the way home at a big sale at a local church/bible college since I'm such a sale/flea market junkie lol. All we managed to find was a nice mirror-backed wall sconce for candles, and headed for home. We talked as we drove home about the festival, and both reaized how much we liked it. So we went home, let the dogs out to go, put 'em back, and returned to the festival. We watched a good guest speaker, another dance group, a folk band, found another good used book, and stuck around for the raffle. We didn't win anything, but I didn't mind since the items were all donated and the proceeds went to cover rental of the park. We went home after another few hours, talking all the way, and continued that talk till it was time for bed. We got nothing accomplished at home, but we had a great day together, so neither of us minded at all.

Yesterday I got up early and spent the day outside, mainly finishing storm cleanup. I got the canopy shed put back together and put everything back in it. Luckily any tears in the fabric were on the sides, and not a one in the roof area, YAY. I made some extra stakes from rebar I had in the garage and staked that thing at every possible point, it won't move again! I took all the limbs off the huge apple branch that fell near my rabbit hutches, and stacked the logs to be cut. I'm gonna have to talk to the owner about taking down the other half of that tree too. It's totally hollow inside, and leans right over the hutches and shed. If it falls this winter, it will destroy everything. I got the big tractor and drug home a big oak branch that fell in the field as well, giving it the same treatment, and stacking the logs for cutting. I'm gonna cheat and use the chainsaw this time to cut the logs. My elbow still hurts like mad from hitting it a while back and using the crosscut saw just plain hurts. I can cheat once in a while! Looks like we're going to have to have a fire this weekend with all the brush cut off all these branches and what I picked up out of the front yard. My 4x8 trailer is stacked at least 6 feet high, and it has to go somewhere! What an excuse to sit around a nice fire on a Friday night, lol. Now just to make sure we have marshmallows..........

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