Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hoarder House on Haunted Hill!!!!

Over the past 3 weeks, I have been cleaning out the house of the mother of a girlfriend from 20 years ago. She contacted me this summer about doing some plumbing work, but I never heard back and assumed that she had forgotten about it. I got the call a little over 3 weeks ago that she had the materials and that I could come do the work. I got there the next day and began the job, and we ended up talking more than I worked. I forgot how much I missed this woman. Though things obviously didn't work out for the daughter and I, I often thought about her parents. If anyone remembers the post I made last year about attending a funeral, that was her husband. We sat and talked about the times when I dated the daughter, and all the fun we all always had. I really did forget how much I liked her.

Now....if anyone has ever seen those TV shows about hoarders, this is one of those places. It was bad 20 years ago, and it's worse now. As if it weren't bad enough that the house is piled full of "stuff", she is in her late 70's and has Parkensons. She walks with a 4 legged cane and has a hard time navigating through the house. After a few talk with her and the daughter, she's kept me on to get rid of things and clean the house. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but now after being there at least 5 days a week for 3 weeks, I have barely scratched the surface. It's truly unreal.

I started in the basement, which was the worst of all just because of garbage. Not food garbage, but emty boxes, containers, and bags as far as you could see. As of yesterday, I have 36 giant contractor sized trash bags full of just trash to go to a dumpster, which we're getting next week. I've found things down there that the wife and daughter didn't even know about. Tools. Unopened, unused power tools. A 6 foot tall rollaway box full of Craftsman hand tools, most of which has never been taken out of the package or used. I found a Craftsman chainsaw from 1986 that was never opened, gun blueing tanks, boxes and boxes of fishing gear, metal detedting equiptment, diving gear, a 1976 Coleco air hockey table that was never opened, an All American pressure canner, 7 dozen canning jars, coins, knives, 3 never opened Coleman lanterns from the 1960's, 72 packs of mantles for the lanterns, 12 packs of flints for the same, handwarmers, and clothes. WOW the clothes. There are three racks, 24 feet long, of womens clothes, sealed in garment bags that have never been worn. This place is like a treasure hunt and a junkyard nightmare at the same time.

A few days ago, we decided to skip the basement for a while and start upstairs. We first attacked her bedroom. WOW again. There were so many piles of clothes that she had barely a 10 inch wide path to get to her own bed. Along the back wall is a long dresser, maybe 8 feet long. On top is a stereo system, cable box, 27 inch tv, two vcr's, and hundreds, no lie, hundreds of video tapes in stacks. At the foot of the bed were 6-7 file storage boxes, again full of videotapes. She decided to start with the husbands clothes, and we attacked his drawers. yet again. Unopened wool socks,flannnel pajamas, t-shirts, dress shirts, and then came the boxes. Every drawer had boxes. Boxes of what? Jewelry. New, never worn jewelry. I don't mean costume jewelry or the $100 Target-Kmart type jewelry, I mean platinum watches, solid gold rings, pearls, emeralds, diamonds, real jewelry. There was so much that by the time we finished just that room, we had filled two dresser drawers with nothing but jewelry. I'm still shaking my head at the literally thousands of dollars of jewelry in that room.

On Saturday we started the spare bedroom that was once her daughters. Again, 25+ boxes of not only video tapes, but now DVD's. Never opened DVD's. Singles, packs, box sets, hundreds of them. I moved those aside, and hit the gun cabinet which was in the middle of the room behind the piles. Seven long guns were still in the cabinet for ten. I moved piles of junk from behind it, then moved it so I could get inside. I got the drawer on the bottom open, and found ammo for things he hadn't had for years, scopes from the 60's that were still in their box, unopened cleaning kits marked 1972, an 1874 revolver in a sock, an old never used straight razor, and other pistol accesories for long gone guns. As we got into dresser and desk drawers, I found even more jewelry. Some were new, and some were things he had found while metal detecting and had cleaned and repaired. Again, thousands of dollars worth. Then came the dolls. Collectable dolls. From stores, from catalogs, and from tv shopping channels. Dolls from 12" high to 4 feet. Special edition Disney dolls to high dollar collectables marked $500. Once again, thousands of dollars just sitting in a room piled with junk.

After moving around and rearranging things in that room, she mentioned the mens shoes in a closet inside the front entry. We went there next, and added over 40 pairs of mens shoes to the mountain of womens shoes I already had in the truck. As I was loading the boxes, I saw one with a shipping label and curiousity got the best of me. USPS label-September 4th, 1964. Holy shoe fetish Batman! These shoes are a year older than ME! I loaded them all in the truck, again shaking my head, then sat with her for a cup of coffee. It was then that she said something she's said to me at least 3-4 times since I started this project. "I'm sure glad I'm not one of those hoarder people like you see on tv". I really have no answer for her on this one. I can't outright tell her "umm, you ARE one of those people". I just can't say it to her face. Though she's aware that the house is a disaster, she can't see that she is one of them. She always makes comments about how much the husband had bought over the years, but she somehow justifies the thousands of movies, hundreds of shoes, and who knows how many articles of clothing that she owns. I changed the conversation and talked about our garden, finished my coffee, and headed for home knowing that I have many more days, or should I say WEEKS left to get this place cleaned out and liveable. As I'm writing this now, I am trying to think of a plan of attack for today when I get there. It's overwhelming.

She's letting me take anything usefull that is in the house, with no care as to what it's worth. I repeatedly said I could sell things and give her the money, but she refuses every time. A few things she wants to give me as partial payment for the cleanout, and for the repairs that will need done inside and out once I'm finished. I forget how many truckloads I have hauled out, but here is a list of things that I have brought home so far:

Browning BLR 7mm mag (unfired)
Remington 870 Wingmaster 12ga (unfired)
Marlin 60 .22 semi (unfired)
French 6.5 WWI bolt action rifle
British Enfield .303 rifle
Marlin 30as 30/30 unfired
Interarms MKX 25.05 (unfired)
Interarms MKX 30.06 (unfired)
Marlin/Glenfield 20 .22LR bolt action
3300 rounds CCI minimag .22 LR
misc cleaning kits for above
200rds .357
300rds .303
NIB straight razor from the 30's
two NIB safety razors from the 50's
2 Buck hunting knives (lockblades)
2 Buck pocketknives
2 Ronson lighters from the 60's (NIB)
5 Coleman lanterns (3 of which have never been used)
72 packs of mantles for the lanterns
10-10 packs of flints for the lanterns
Gun blueing tanks
Misc ice fishing gear
Fishing gear from the 30's (2 reels alone sold for $300)
6ft rollaway box full of mostly never used or in-package Craftsman hand tools
NIB Craftsman circular saw
NIB Craftsman hand sander
NIB Craftsman 1/2" pro series drill
NIB Craftsman 16" chainsaw
NIB Milwaukee sawzall
Craftsman battery charger/starter
Coleco air hockey table dated 1976-never opened
NIB mens workboots and rubber boots (size 10 1/2 dammit lol)
And more things I can't seem to remember at the moment

Now you see why I haven't been back to the blog since the last post. This place exausts me both physically and mentally. I finish there for the day, come home, eat dinner, shower, and sit. It just drains me every day. I'll keep everyone informed on the happenings there and what the newest finds are. For now, I'm off to let the truck warm up (we have about 3" of snow), and head over for another adventure.
Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fall = Squirrel Season

With the fall season finally in full turn, I've been thinking a lot about going hunting. I haven't been out much for several years and I really miss it. I grew up hunting and these cool mornings remind me of that all the time.
I remember those cool mornings when dad and I, or my old friend Joe and I would head off to the woods squirrel hunting. Even most fall afternoons after school were spent hunting. The leaves were gone, the air was cool, and I was most at peace sitting near a big hickory tree watching for bushytails. Most of the time it didn't even matter if I came home empty-handed. I was in the woods where I belonged. I never felt more at ease or at peace than those days sitting against a tree. When Joe was with me, the smell of Swisher Sweets cigars wafted through the woods with us. They became a tradition when I was around 16 and have been a constant ever since whenever I set foot in squirrel woods.
Soon the snow began to fly, and that meant one thing. Rabbit season. Dad and I would have already had the beagles out to run, but now that snow was on the ground, it was time. Rabbit season gave me some of the best memories of my life. I can walk (what's left of) those woods now, and almost every spot holds a memory. I remember the exact spot where I shot my first rabbit, I remember places where I would see dad smile. I remember tree's that always managed to get a squirrel, or a brush pile that always held a rabbit. For the most part, my life is written in the pages of trees somewhere in those woods. But now thanks to greed and logging, the woods are mostly gone. What was once acres of big open trees are now masses of thick underbrush thanks to the logging. The best rabbit areas are now acres of green briar and vines. Most of my favorite places are nearly inacessible.
I was always with dad, and usually surrounded by friends and family. My uncle Glen, my cousin Walt, my friend Joe and his dad Big Joe; they were always around during rabbit season. I miss them all. Glen passed away years ago. Walt quit hunting. I rarely speak to Joe anymore, and big Joe no longer hunts except for one deer each year in West Virginia. My dad can't even get out of the house now due to health issues. I'm pretty much alone in my hunting now, but I'm working on that with an old friend Bob who we've been back in contact with for the past year and a half or so.
Thanks to spending time behind the counter at a gun shop, I generally stay clear of public hunting land. Believe me, if you spent time meeting some of the folks that go to public land and hearing the horror stories, you may not either. the time has come where I really have no choice. My old friend Joe called me over a month ago to tell me about a new public land just 20 minutes or so south of here. It's so new in fact, that it isn't listed on the state DNR website. I'm hoping that this may mean it isn't being hunted as much. *fingers crossed* Bob is going to get a map of it today, and we may head down on Saturday morning to check it out.
I'm still leary of public land, but I can't resist anymore. I *HAVE* to get out in the woods. I feel lost this time of year sitting here looking out the window. Maybe this place will be a great spot. Maybe I'll have some new squirrel woods. Maybe I'll bring home a few for the stew pot. And who knows, maybe it's time to start making new memories. I truly hope so......................

Halloween Pics 2010-just a tad late

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No longer MIA!

Wow, it has been a while since I have posted here. I knew it had been some time, but I didn't realize that it had been this long.

I think that for a while I just got bored with this whole blogging thing. Nothing against anyone out there, but I just got tired of writing the same old same old, and getting the same responses back. I know that not everyone who reads has the same interests as I do, and frankly I'm not sure what I really expected to get back out of it. Maybe somehow I thought that I would enlighten some people with things that I do. Maybe I thought that producing nearly 1100 pounds of food from one acre would be more impressive. Maybe I thought that occasional rant from atop my soap box would get more "ohh yea" kind of responses, but it hasn't. I just took a break for a while from this blog to re-think a few things and possibly make a change, maybe even go in a new direction. But..I've decided not to. I've decided that I'm keeping this blog more about me than going after readers. That really wasn't the intention to begin with. I just had to remember that.

Instead, I'll get back to this and continue to make it about everything we and I do. Whether that is gardening, the chickens, camping, preparadness, shooting, or anything else that we do here. I have many hobbies and many interests. I'm complicated yet multi-talented. I like to consider myself as a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. I like to dabble in things that I may find interesting that to others may seem silly or a waste of time. I do so many things that I can't possible just keep this blog about one or two. I want this to be more of an online journal kind of thing, and just take you few readers along for the ride.

So....rather than go on and on about my reasons for not being around, lets start up that first hill for the new rollercoaster ride.........

First of all, last weekend was the big Halloween bash. We had nearly 50 people show this year, and almost all came in costume. It took 3 weeks to decorate the house and the front yard. What was 15 feet of decorated outdoor space last year was 60 feet this year. I made 6 more dummies, 2 stone & marble full sized crypts, 12 more headstones, 4 graves, fog machines, colored lights, a cage full of zombie babies,and lots of other decorations that we didn't have last year.

Inside we had an AWESOME old organ (thanks to a craigslist freebie), last year's coffin, and more little things than last year. We had plenty of food that Lisa had made, and others brought food with them. A friend of ours brought an amazing giant Halloween themed cake that she had made. I'll have to do a second post with all of the pictures. YEA! Pictures! We ended up with over 100 this year, which was awesome considering we had barely 20 at last years party.

For now, I have to get a few things done around here, but I'll post those Halloween pictures later today.
I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack

Thursday, September 2, 2010

and we have a winner!!

Wow. I haven't posted since the 16th? Ooopsy. I've been busy with other things and just plain forgot to write in the blog. So.....guess I better do an update.

Tuesday was a landmark day here. I spent the morning butchering 7 more free chickens, then the rest of the day picking from the garden and berries. I came inside after weighing everything individually, and added it all to the list. We finally did it. The total came to 1002 1/4 pounds of produce off our one acre! I'm still in awe that we reached that much, but we did it. I did have to laugh since it was, of all things, brussel sprouts that took it over the 1000lb mark. I never imagined that we could produce that much food here. Not in my wildest dreams. It's been a lot of work, but well worth it. Now we have to sit down and set a goal for next season. Hmmmm....2000???

We would have had quite a bit more if it weren't for corn smut/fungus and for the %&#@! moles taking a large chunk of the potato crop again. Out of 190 feet of corn, we managed to get maybe 20 small ears. With that fungus and unusual weather this summer, the corn was a big disappointing bust. Our cucumbers were a total loss as well. Not a single one at all. This weather has been hard on everything this summer, and the garden has been no exception. I see a lot of local backyard gardens as well as full scale farms with losses this year. Our corn only grew to maybe 5 feet tall, but looks giant compared to a few farms I have seen in the area. We just haven't had any steady rain, and it's been mostly hot and humid. Ohio just doesn't normally see temps in the 90's like we have.

This year I've also set a new record. Free chickens. As of Tuesday, I have butchered 31 chickens for FREE. Last year topped at 22. Granted, none of them have been a larger meat breed, but free chicken is free chicken. The word spread fast through friends that I'll take young birds, and I check our local Craigslist every day. The last 5 were rather funny. I got a message on Facebook from my neighbors daughter about a friend making a post regarding 3 month old roosters that needed a home. A few calls and a few days later, I came home with them to butcher. They had, like so many others I have talked to, purchased sexed chicks from Tractor Supply only to find out that they were wrong and had half to mostly roosters. ( I suppose cockeral is the correct term but I'll just say roosters) I don't mind them being smaller birds, especially with 31 of them. The biggest I have butchered weighed in at 4 1/4 pounds, but they are averaging at 3 1/2. Everyone is used to seeing the larger cross bred meat birds weigh a lot more, but these are just average sized birds. Think that before there were meat breeds, we all ate normal sized chickens. We don't mind one bit. Another goal set and met-not buying factory meat from the grocery store. 31 chickens should last us a good long time.

Today is supposed to be unusually hot again, so I won't be doing much outside. I have green beans to can, and one last cooler full of peaches to cook down for jam or peach butter. If all goes well, we'll spend one day this weekend making blackberry jam since there are around 30 pounds of berries in the freezer waiting. We have more grape jelly to make from frozen grapes from our place, and I have grapes and apples to pick next door. While we're doing jam this weekend, we'll also do a few big batches of pickled green beans, and I'm going to make a batch of "fireballs", which are green cherry tomatos pickled with hot peppers. I saw the recipe on one of the boards that I frequent and have to try it. I love hot & spicy foods, and I love pickled, so this is one I *have* to try.

  Well.....think I'm gonna go shave my nappy face since I've missed shaving for a good 3-4 days, then get started on the canning. The sun is coming up strong and it will soon be hot again. blah

Monday, August 16, 2010

Things here have been fairly busy lately. The garden is doing great, though the cucumbers are a total loss thanks to this lack of steady rain. We didn't get in the garden at all over the weekend, so I'll be out there most of the day getting what needs picked and more than likely canning tomorrow. As of the last picking on Friday afternoon, the produce total stands at 760 1/4lbs. I'm sure that after taking two days off, that number will jump fast later today.

There's still no sight of a real job. I look and apply every week, but nothing. I've gotten a few odd cash jobs here and there though, so that helps. Last week a friend and I built a deck and I was able to pocket $300. I've never built one from the ground up, and though I was a bit nervous about doing the job, it came out wonderful. We were a bit slow because...well...we're pipefitters and not carpenters, but we got it done and the owner was very happy. Sometime this week I have to look at another house that has some drainage pipe clogged and replace that, start a deck repair, and still manage to get to the cement block porch rebuild that I've been holding off with this rediculous heat and humidity. It's been tough to do these jobs with the weather we've been having. I'm so used to being home and being able to come inside for breaks when I get overheated. Working on that deck for two straight days definitly wore me out. I slept like the dead Thursday and Friday night.

For now, I'm going to head outside (its 6am) and get started so I can beat the heat as much as possible. I'll do another post of what the garden brings today, and do my best to catch up with everyone out there in blogland.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Time to do the math.....

In spite of the unusually hot and humid weather, the garden is doing very well. (as I type there is the scent of fried squash, green beans, and sweet corn coming from the stove, mmmmm) We're getting a HUGE amount of yellow squash and zuchinni, and quite a bit of blackberries. Squash and zuchinni are washed, sliced, dipped in eggs, battered with a flour & cornmeal mix, flash frozen on cookie sheets, then vacuum sealed and put in the freezer. I love fried squash. Set a plate of it in front of me and watch out. You may get stabbed with a fork for trying to get to one. Oh post.....oops.

Today we got the first small picking of sugar snap peas and broccoli. The peas will be eaten raw, and the broccoli is going to be blanced and frozen after dinner. So far we are just freezing green beans simply because it's just been too hot and humid to fire up the stove and canner. Hopefully things cool off this weekend so we can actually start canning. The freezer has one shelf jammed full of frozen strawberries and blackberries, and I'd love to get them out this weekend and do a few big batches of jam. Lisa has always done the jams and jellies, but I figure it's my time to learn since I've been canning everything else. Later this evening I'll rearrange the freezer and see what we have to work with.

As of the latest garden picking today, the total count stands at 278 3/4 pounds of fruit and vegetables off of our place. When I rearrange the freezer and start canning, I'll keep track of not only weight, but how much is put away. (canned, frozen, basement storage, etc.) We still haven't gotten into the big stuff yet either-corn, tomatos, cucumbers, and potatos. I can't wait until those start producing, just so I can see how high the total weight can go. I'm shooting for 1000 pounds, but I'm not sure we'll be able to reach that. I imagine if I add in eggs and chicken, I could; but 1000 pounds is a long way off from 278. I'll have to check just to see what a dozen eggs weighs and take that into consideration. Food production is food production, right? after writing that, my curiousity got the best of me and I weighed a dozen eggs. They were over 2 pounds for all 3 I weighed, but I used the weight of 1lb11oz from the store carton to do the math. I have counted 160 dozen eggs since January 1st and used that number, so 160x 1lb11oz=270lbs of eggs! Holy Layin' Hens Batman! LOL So.....add that 270 to the count of 278 3/4 of produce and we get 548 3/4lbs. Now...if I add in 26 chickens at an average of 3lbs each, I get 626 3/4lbs of total FOOD production. I suppose that technically, I can count the eggs and chickens since they were layed/gathered/fed/butchered here on site. (even though the chickens were free and raised elsewhere) For all inents and purposes, I'll leave the count at that amount just for the sake of knowing how much food has come from our property and left us that much more non-reliant on the grocery store.

Sitting here looking at that number, I am still in shock. I never expected to get that much food from one acre. Never. It's amazing how much things have grown since that first small vegetable garden and since the very first 3 laying hens. It's almost funny now to look back at how excited we got over that first ear of home grown corn or tomato. I'm never one to brag or gloat, but this is a perfect example. For those that think you need a huge amount of property to grow a lot of food, take a look at what can be done on one acre, IF you make food production a priority. Sure it's a big commitment. Sure it's a lot of work and an almost daily chore, but wouldn't 626 pounds of food that you wouldnt have to BUY be worth it?????

Monday, July 26, 2010

Garden growth-usual happenings-and the future

Well, we never did get that nice all night rain we really needed, but we have managed to finally get some decent rain on and off over the past week. It's still been unusually hot and humid, though yesterday was a nice break. 95 degrees just isn't normal for Ohio, and this humidity? WOW There have been days that it was so bad that I was drenched in sweat just walking to the garage. The forecast for this week calls for 80's and not the 90's like we have been dealing with. Hopefully they're right, but they seldom are.

Last week was however, a great week for freebies. We ended up with twelve more chickens through someone that Lisa works with. We added the new layers, taking our flock to 18, thinned out some of ours, and added others to the freezer. As it stands now, we have the 18 layers, two more I'll be returning to the main run today, the same five mille de fluers, and four more hens to butcher; which will bring the total freezer count to 22 this year alone. I just hope the egg orders keep going strong now that the flock is larger than ever. The last time we had a larger flock, the orders all but stopped and we had to get rid of some

Besides the chickens, I got around 60 cinderblocks that I plan to use for a few new raised beds, a roll of poultry netting, some 4" drainpipe, a camp toilet, misc lumber pieces, a chicken tractor, and a bunch of misc nuts, bolts, hinges,latches, link pins, and other goodies to add to the garage shelves. After all these years of making fun of my dad, I finally have came to terms with the fact that I inherited that packrat gene from him. LOL

Granted, I don't keep parts from a tractor that I haven't had in 15 years, or snow tires from a car I got rid of 30 years ago like dad did, but I try to keep a lot of other things on hand. I have two 4x8x1ft deep wooden shelf units in the garage full of nuts, bolts, washers, screws, nails, pipe fitting, electrical fittings, wire staples, hinges,latches, pins, and all kinds of other handy little items. Anytime I start a project, or have to repair something around here, I check what I have on hand and rarely need to get anything but lumber. Just the other day when I was repairing the freebie chicken tractor, it needed a door on one end. I had the piece of plywood, hinges, screws, and even the hook latch. I didn't have to buy a single thing. I even have 2 pairs of pneumatic wheels & tires that I'll be putting on it today that I took off of an old compressor in dads barn. I even scrounged the motor off of it for another project I have going. I love having all of this "stuff" here when I need it, and 90% or more of it I have for free. I do need to thin things down a little, which I've already started,but I'll be sharing some with a friend who has little of their own "stuff" stock. I just HAVE to quote my dad on this one....."thats not junk, its good stuff!".

The garden has started producing fairly well, though some things are still slow since we got everything in so late. We've been picking squash, zuchinni, blackberries, and green beans almost daily. As of the last picking yesterday, we've taken 136 3/4 pounds of produce out of the garden, not counting greens. I just won't bother weighing greens since we only take out a salad or two at a time. While for some that may not sound like much, for us on this one acre, it's pretty impressive for no more than we have been able to pick so far. I figured out the amount of eggs so far this year too, and came up with a total of 164 dozen. Add that to the 22 chickens in the freezer at an average of 3lbs each, and we're getting a helluva lot of food off of this place. It's funny now to look back at that first year and that tiny 10x10 garden when we were happy with just a few quarts of green beans to can. We've grown here more than either of us ever imagined back then. We had no idea that we would someday be literally out of growing space or have chickens. At first, this way of life was an obsession, but now it's just how we operate from day to day. Things next year, like I have said in the previous post, will be growing even more when we start using some of my uncles land. We've talked quite a bit on what exactly to plant there, and decided on things that we can, for the most part, plant and leave alone. Corn, potatos, etc. Anything that needs watching or daily picking will stay here. With the open space here then, we'll triple the amount of tomato's to make sauces, soup, and juices. We'e still kicking around wheat and oats, but thats VERY new to us and we aren't sure about the work or details. We'll be researching that more before we decide.

When we were out running errands on Saturday, we stopped to visit my uncle and see how he was doing. He doesn't do well with this heat so I wanted to check. We sat and talked about a lot of things, but when we started talking about planting and doing things there, he told us stories about what my grandparents did there when he was young. They had chickens, pigs and a dairy cow. There were blackberries, blueberries, and elderberries all over the property. He told us that the property next door had a HUGE blackberry patch, but the newest owners bulldozed them over when he started bringing in loads of soil & fill to level it out. He remembered spending days picking berries for grandma to make jam and jelly, and how he and my dad sold extra berries to get things they wanted. Dad sold enough berries to get himself a real AMRY puptent, speeping bag, canteen, knife, and mess kit to camp in the woods. I have that WWII mess kit now. My uncle saved his money to buy a .22 rifle and ammo. We talked about all of that and how they used to trap muskrats in the old creek for extra money. I love hearing those stories from him and from my dad. It not only makes me almost see what life was like back then, but always brings a smile to their faces as they remember their youth. Even though I'll be in most likely y 50's when we take over, I hope to make just as many fond memories on the land. It's strange how yesterday I had the thought that I will be there on that land when we can celebrate 100 years of our family on it. OK granted that's 19 years down the road, but I plan on having a bit celebration. Hell, I'll even make a nice sign to put out front. "The W farm-celebrating 100 years"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Garden update and weathermen are paid to lie!!!

The weather here has been insanely hot and humid for weeks now. We've had rain, but it's been very sparatic and never lasts long. The forecast calls for rain starting tonight and lasting all of next week. While I don't want to lose a week of working on things here and some other projects that need done elsewhere, we really need the rain. The garden is doing fairly well, but with how late things went in, and the lack of rain, it could be doing a lot better. It still needs to be finished with weeding, but the heat and humidity has kept us out of it for nearly a week. I weeded 4-5 rows on Sunday night while Lisa picked, and I was soaked in sweat. She did manage to get quite a bit picked considering all the factors we have against the garden doing well right now. We got 4 1/2lbs yellow squash, 5lbs green beans,4 3/4lbs cabbage, and 10/4lbs zuchinni. Not to bad considering how dry it's been. If we get this rain, things will most likely explode and canning time will start with a roar. With all this in mind, I took an inventory of canning supplies and we're actually pretty well set, other than being a bit short on wide-mouth lids and rings. Those are cheap, so we'll get some in a week or so just to make sure they're on hand when the time comes. With the diet change, more awareness of processed/grocery store food, and trying to save money, we plan on more home canning this year than ever before. Yep, it's going to be a busy, busy canning season.

Earlier in the week, I was supposed to help my uncle take down two trees over at his place, but we weren't able to because his neighbor didn't leave the keys in the lift,(he owns a tool rental an brought home a 60ft boom lift), and because of the heat. He's FINALLY realizing that he is 75 and can't do everything he wants to. He's not giving up and just sitting, but he's not pushing himself either. While we were there, we took a walk to the back of the place simply because Lisa has never seen the whole property. We all talked about what he has done to it over the years, and he began to talk about what else he wants to do. He knows that we have pretty much dug up every available & usable square foot of our property, so he wants to clear a spot, plow and till it, so we can use it next year. He said he wants to finish clearing another area so he can fence it in for us to use as a pasture, then he said he wanted to dig a pond next to that area because the neighbor had offered to do it for him for nothing. It was funny to hear him say that with a pond, he could put in a pump that he already has so we would have irrigation water for whatever we had planted. We're thinking corn & wheat but we aren't 100% positive. He's actually fine with the idea of a couple goats and meat birds next year. I know we've talked about it before, but we're pretty serious this time. I'm going to slowly start gathering materials for a couple of buildings there.

It's hard sometimes to have those talks with him. He wants to do things for us for when he passes and we take over, which is greatly appreciated, but it's still him talking about what will happen when he's dead. While it will be an honor for me to be the 3rd generation on the land, I don't like thinking about it much, let alone talking about it. He even talked about putting up some fencing and building a pole barn because he knows that we would need it. I love the fact that he is thinking of us and how we will treat the place, but it's sad to know that he has to die before we can move in. I should just feel honored that he chose me out of my sister and my 2 cousins to take the place and not just money, but it's still hard to think about. I don't want to lose my uncle. I just hold on to the fact that I'll be the next line of W's to be there since 1929. I'll do my grandparents and uncle proud when we take over. I just wish my dad felt the same, but he thinks we're nuts. Ah well, can't win em all.

Today I scored close to 70 free cement blocks which I'll be using for more raised beds. I already used some to raise the height of the outoor sink/chicken station since it was just too short. Anytime I spent a few hours out there cleaning chickens, my back was killing me from that slight bend over the table and sink. Not anymore!! We also got another dozen FREE chickens this if we really needed them. The plan is to keep the majority of the young ones and thin our flock of the older ones. I'll be using the older hens for soups, (they're not quite 2), and buthering the last five freebie roosters tomorrow since they're finally big enough to be processed. Between all of the freebies this year so far, we'll have a total of 20 chickens either in soup or in the freezer. YAY on beating last year's record already. I'm positive there will be more. I can't wait for the carrots to be ready so we can start making giant batches of soup to can. MmMmMmMmMm

Today it rained off and off again. (yes I started writing this a few days ago lol) I think I would almost rather have no rain than these quick 2-5 minute showers. C'mon already. Give me a good steady all night rain. We hit a good downpour on the way back with the twelve chickens this evening, but of course, as soon as we got closer to home, we drove out of it. UGH this is frustrating. I can water with a hose if I really have to, but it would take me all night or more to get a decent soaking on everything. The forecast had said rain on Saturday afternoon-nothing, Sunday was supposed to be rain all day-again nothing. Monday and today said the same and we got a few random sprinkles here and there. Arrgghh. When I *don't* want rain-we get rain. Just my luck. DRATS

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lehmans goes chinese? Luckily not....

Last weekend Lisa and I set off to one of our many annual trips to Lehman's. It's only 45 minutes away, and a great day to spend a day there and driving through the area finding new places to visit. I have loved that store since my first trip there nearly 20 years ago. We generally have a shopping list, which is always wayyy less than the "want" list. We've often joked about the same thing many people do- "when we win that lottery we're going to ________) Our list is short and simple. Pay off everything, hit the Ford dealer,trailer dealer, gun shop, and Lehmans. How cool would it be to walk in Lehmans and say "OK gimme one of everything!" Ahhhh dreams.

One of the things we wanted to buy last weekend was a corn cutter since canning season is fast approaching. We found them in the newly remodeled kitchen gadget area, and there were three to choose from. Sadly, two out of three were made in China. We began to talk about the way the store has slightly changed, and the apperance of chinese products. Had it finally happened? Had Lehmans sold out? We really wondered if it had came to that. Well, Lisa had written a post in her blog about the very same thing, and recieved a much unexpected response. That response was from Galen Lehman himself, son of Jay Lehman who had opened the store 55 years ago. I gotta tell ya folks, Galen's response was very impressive. It really answered the questions we had about chinese made products in their store. I'll post it here for you:

Thanks for your blog posting. I am sorry you were disappointed with your visit to our store.

I absolutely share your frustration. We are trying our best to carry only USA made goods, but we're finding it harder and harder to do so. The corn cutter you mentioned used to be made in America. Now it's not. What should we do??

I stand on this promise: If it's available in the USA and our customers want it, we will carry it. If you find a Chinese-made item on our shelves that you think should be made in America, it means we haven't found a USA made source for it.

And by all means, if you know of a USA made product we should be carrying, please, please let us know.

To read more about our struggle against Chinese products, check out this article on my blog:

Thanks for your hard work on this blog! You're fighting a good fight!

Galen Lehman"

She never expected many responses, let alone someone from the Lehman family. This response really brought back my respect for Lehmans store. Knowing that they care about what they carry and do their best to avoid imports makes me very happy. Galen, hats off to you and your family for keeping this policy and for running such an incredible store. I won't hesitate to return like we always have. Thank you.

Here at home, Lisa and I are still struggling with eating fresh and local. It's hard to deprogram your brain from the huge variety available at the grocery stores. We're all so used to having anything we want, any time that we want, that we never think about it anymore. We're still searching for local, and affordable, beef and other produce that we can't or don't produce here for ourselves. It's a lot harder than we imagined. Another one of our goals for that trip last weekend was to hopefully find locally grown grain or flour, but we had no luck. Everyone had the same answer. "it comes off the truck" We'll continue to look as best we can and not give up. Sure we can buy flour from the store and skip the extra preservatives that are in store-bought bread, but we'd rather try to skip what was sprayed ON those crops, what kind of seed they were grown from, and basically just not give our money to big agriculture. It's the same with meat products. It's a continuous struggle, but we're slowly gaining ground.
It's amazing to read labels on food from the store and see ingredients that you can't even pronounce. What IS that? Why is it there? What does or can it do to me over time? Read "Death by Supermarket", and "Food Inc" and it's companion movie and you'll really start to wonder about what you're having for dinner. It's been a real eyeopener for us, and has pushed this journey to self sufficency even more. Getting used to having less than 25% of the choices will be the largest hurdle, but we're getting used to it. Right now as I type, there are two large cookie sheets of cereal in the oven. Oats,honey, dehydrated apples, cinnamon, and a touch of brown sugar. Not flavor enhancers, no preservatives, no nothing. That cereal is just one of many things changing around here in our diet and food storage. There will be many more to come soon, and I'll keep them all posted here.
If anyone is local and knows where we can find locally produced/raised flour, grain, beef, pork, or any other things we don't already do for ourselves, please let us know!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Doc results and a rather long rant

Well..........the virdict is in. My bloodwork came back and I had a dr. appointment on Thusday. I try to eat well as best I can, and I'm highly active, but my cholesterol was high. REALLY high-182. Nearly double what it should be. (100) So, along with the diet change, I started meds today to bring that down. I'm also going to dump the cigarettes once and for all. With the high cholesterol. smoking, family history of heart disease, and being male, I have 4 out of 5 risk factors for heart disease or attack. That is some pretty scary stuff. Tomorrow we're having friends over for a dinner that was already planned and all four of them smoke. I've decided to go as usual through tomorrow night and make the big changes starting on Sunday. What better day to totally change my life than on Independance Day? I'm really looking forward to this.

Right now I'm going to touch a bit on my viewpoint of the BP oil spill. Now first of all, I am in no way going to defend BP. What happened was completely avoidable and tragic. That isn't my problem or what I want to go into at all, so don't think I don't see how bad this all is. I do.

My problem with this isn't what happened, it's WHY it happened. I don't mean it's because of money hungry oil moguls going for that extra almighty dollar. I mean the DEMAND we have for oil. I look around when I'm out and still see the gas stations full of cars and trucks. (sadly BP still remains busy here) I do see the handfull of hybrids and electrics, but mostly I see normal gas or diesel vehicles just like always. Though we all hear the stories of oil shortages and see the ever rising fuel prices, people don't slow down at all. They bitch about the price, but they still fill up on their way to wherever it is they are going. Even at $2.85 a gallon a few weeks ago, I saw people filling their ski boats and jet ski's for a weekend at the lake without a single concern. I see them fill their cars as they head to aimlessly wander through the mall or to go see a movie. Not a one of them has, or will, change their lifestyle for gas prices or the *possible* oil shortage. (and no I don't believe that either) They continue on their same old routines and just pay the price no matter what. Well.....guess what. Supply equals demand.

Even the people who drive electrics or hybrids that get eight bazillion miles to the gallon are STILL contributing to the demand for oil. How? What is the interior of that electric car made from? And what is that stuff made from? Hmmm?? OIL. Yes, I mean plastic. And not just plastic in the cars we drive, but in everything we buy. Look around the room you are in right now and see what is made of plastic. Look at the computer you are reading this with. Look through your kitchen at all of the utensils, cups, food storage containers, jugs, bottles, cartons and wrappers all made of plastic. Even the people you see and read about being so "green" are surrounded by plastic. That solar panel on the roof, that fancy overpriced rain barrel, that hose running around the house to water those eight vegetable plants in your little garden, all plastic. Again, plastic is produced from fossil fuels, and again, supply equals demand.

I am well aware of recycling. We have a recycle program with our local trash company. But consider this: Those trucks that pick it up run on fossil fuels. The machines that grind and re-use it run most likely somehow on fossil fuels. It takes fossil fuels to make whatever is packaged in these containers, more to produce the containers themselves, more to ship that product, more for you to get it and bring it home, more to run the fridge that keeps it cool for you, more for that recycle truck, then the cycle starts all over again. It's a horrible vicious circle all run on fossil fuels. Once again, supply equals demand. It's really, really scary to think and look at how we use fossil fuels, and this is only one example. Though granted, it is a big one.

Is it possible to live plastic free? In today's world, I honsetly can't see how it's possible. Sure you can quit buying bottles of pop and get an aluminum water bottle, but that's a tiny part. Even using cloth shopping bags or opting for paper doesn't make much of a difference. Nearly everything we buy in a bottle is plastic. From ketchup to vinegar, from dish detergent to shampoo, all in plastic bottles. I don't see any way of changing this, even with all of the recycle programs in place. People continue to buy, so businesses continue to produce. Supply equals demand yet again.

Now I'm not going to try telling everyone to stop buying plastic. That is nearly impossible. I just want anyone that is reading this to think just a bit about the demand for fossil fuels and realize that it's far beyond gasoline and diesel fuels. Let me clarify once more that I am in NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM defending BP and the horrible mess that they have created. My reason for this post is to get you to think, just a little bit, about WHY they were offshore drilling in the first place. I know, I know, money money, big oil blah blah blah, but that's not my point so don't go there. My point is to just hopefully have one person, just one, see the big picture of the demand of oil from a slightly different perspective.

*climbing off the soap box for now*

Handshakes, hugs, and how are ya's where they belong....Chris

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rain, rants. ramblings, reowrking and reasons for change

There isn't much to write about today. I woke up to rain and it hasn't stopped yet. We really needed this so I can't complain. It's been so hot and humid the past week that we were beginning to worry about the garden. Yesterday we had a thunderstorm, but it was nothing more than some high winds, lots of thunder, and less than 30 minutes of light rain. So, this steady soaking rain is a welcome sight. It'll do wonders for the garden.
Everything that we've planted is looking good, other than the gourd seed. If nothing is popping up above ground by Monday at the latest, I'll check the seeds and resew the area with something new. Maybe celery. All of the other plants though are doing well. The sweet corn is even standing close to 16" tall already. It looks to be a great garden year.
This morning I'm going to do some re-working in the basement. The little chest freezer I picked up for free last week will be going in the walk-in closet in my room downstairs where we store all of the canning supplies and goods. My plan is to turn that area into food storage since we planted so many potatos and onions. We plan on using that small freezer for chicken, but that could change at any time. I've already butchered three freebies, and there are five more outside that will be getting the same in another week or two. I'm hoping to get back into rabbits as a supplimental food source, but I haven't seen any breeders for sale at a reasonable price. I'm watching for some, but it's not all that important right now.
Over the course of the past few months, Lisa has dramatically changed her diet. She has changed due to wanting to lose more weight and to lower her cholesterol. So far she's lost 62 pounds, which to me is amazing. Just by cutting back portion sizes and all the work I've been doing outside, I've gone from 228 to 186 myself. We've both been doing more research and reading into food and what we eat and have decided to make a giant change in some things. We will no longer be buying any meat of any kind from ANY grocery store. Though Lisa has become vegetarian, I haven't. And if her cholesterol checks out ok tomrrow when we both go back to get checked, she'll return to just white meat. (red meat has never agreed with her system anyway) We'll find sources for local meat or work with our friend in southern Ohio
This decision has been made for several reasons. First of course is what is IN the meats we buy at the grocery store. Growth hormones, forced antibiotics, all kinds of nasty stuff. I want to know where my food came from, and what it's diet was. There are links to all of those chemicals and additives to disease that plagues this country. That we want to avoid.
Secondly is how those animals are treated. I'm never going to be a PITA member or any other similar organization, but I have to look at how these animals live. Chickens live their lives in a giant warehouse in a tiny box that they can't even stand up in. Cattle are fed feed full of growth hormones to make them grow fatter and faster. They eat strictly corn and feed. Cows just aren't designed for that kind of diet. Chickens for meat have been cross bred into mutant-like birds that grow so large and so fast that they are prone to broken legs and just dropping dead from heart attacks. Some people may say "it's just a chicken" or "it's just a cow". Look next to you at that dog or cat laying at your feet and say the same thing. Really, do it. It's just a dog. Stick it in a tiny doghouse that it barely fits in and feed it garbage. No? What's the difference? Where do we draw a line? I not only want to know what these animals have been fed, but also how they have been treated. Read FOOD INC. and it will open your eyes to a lot of things. Do some research online on how "factory" farms treat animals and you will be disgusted. I can no longer with any kind of concience support that way of production. We have found several places locally that raise and butcher their own on-site and will be buying from them now on. Sure it will be more expensive. Yes, the buy1-get1 meat sales from the big chain store will be gone, but what price do you put on your concience? I wish more people would do some reading and research, but most either don't care or are happy being totally blind to it while they jam fast food burgers down their throats. more of that for us. If we can't raise and butcher it ourselves or get it locally from someone that we can trust, then we just plain won't bring it into the house.
The same will go for other food products as well. No more canned anything from the store. I don't want to eat canned vegetables from god knows where sprayed with herbicides and pesticides that more than likely aren't even legal to use here in the U.S. Home canning will be taking a giant leap this year, which is the reason for reworking the basement storage area. Some things will be unavailable to get locally, but we'll keep those at a minimum. It's time to not only take responsibility for our food, but for our health and well being. This will be another big turning point for us, and we've yet to take one of those turns that hasn't worked for the better.
Sometime in the next few days Mike and I will be returning to his brothers house to get more things that he planned on leaving behind. The list includes 12-15 flourescent shop lights, a trampoline, 16-20 pieces of 6ft privacy fence, some storage shelves and possibly some workbenches. There is some carpeting laying inside that was meant to go in his dining room, and if it is still in decent shape, it will come here and go into either my room or Lisa's sweing room, or course depending on size. My garage is going to glow like a tanning bed by the time I get all of these lights up. Again, I don't feel like I'm taking advantage of a bad situation and a friend. This is mostly his own fault, and why leave things behind that will most likely just be thrown in a dumpster.
For now, I'm off to check eggs then start moving things around downstairs. Luckily this small freezer doesn't weigh as much as the last chest model we had...whew.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I need a nap

Today we're finally getting some rain that we've really needed for a few weeks. The forecast has said several times that we'd get rain, but it never happened. I've been having to water the tomato plants sometimes twice a day because it's been so dry. It was a great sight to wake up at 6am to a good solid rain. We can sure use it.
The moving on Friday was brutal. It was really hot, and his place was a disaster. We ended up with two 19ft box trucks and two pickup loads full. Loading was a bit bad but unloading was easy since we were able to just back up and unload into his mothers garage. I felt bad for him losing his house, but at the same time I remembered that it was partly his fault. He'd quit his job in the late fall of '08 and never really bothered to even look for work. His fiancee and kids had left, and he'd had various friends staying there with him. Needless to say, the place was trashed. And I don't mean just messy, I mean TRASHED. His mother had gotten a pretty large insurance settlement right before he bought the house 3 years ago, and she insisted on furnishing the entire place. New appliances, carpet, paint, everything right down to privacy fence and lawn equiptment. You would never know everything in that house was only 2-3 years old.
He had packed up a few boxes and set aside the things he wanted to keep. The rest he just plain didn't care about. So....his brother and I loaded the pickup twice with things he didn't want that we did. Why just leave things there that were fairly new for the bank to just take anyway? I ended up with two 12ft swimming pools, a 12x12 screen tent, a weedeater, misc garden tools, 5 ton chainfall (hoist), small unused chest freezer, and a few things that I can't seem to think of right now. Sometime later this week I'm heading back with his brother to help take down the privacy fence and see what's left. Some might say I'm taking advantage of a bad situation, but he doesn't care about most of the things and planned on just leaving them there.
Thursday was a long rough day of outdoor things and moving that pile of sod. Friday was all the moving. Saturday was our annual party to celebrate summer solstice. We were up from around 6:30 until the last guests left at after 2am. Sunday morning we got up, headed to my folks for fathers day, then drove almost 2 hours to a picnic at my friend Bens and didn't get home until close to 9pm. It was an exausting four days.
Yesterday I just cleaned up outside from the party, cleaned the mudroom and patio, and just put things away. It was in the high 80's, really humid, and no wind at all. It was just too hot and I was too exausted to do much of anything strenuious. The evening was just sitting around in the screen tent reading and eating a big bowl of raspberries that I picked from the front yard.
Today since it's raining, I'm just going to clean house a bit, do laundry, and put things away that are still sitting out from Saturday's party. I have 3 or 4 books started and plan on spending some time reading later today as well. I'm just physically drained, even after an easy day yesterday. It's going to be a lazy,lazy day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Yesterday I managed to finally get caught up with all of the garden stuff around here. Since the last post, we've put in a 24x2 foot bed for sugar snap peas and two 16-1/2x2 foot beds for tomatos. I managed to get SIX flats of free tomato plants, mostly heirlooms, so I've been jamming them wherever I can find room. They're in the new bed, in pots at the end of the greens beds, and along the fence where just two of the transplanted wild blackberries survived. There are somewhere around 60 total planted so far, and there are still two flats full outside waiting for a home. I don't think they'll find a home. I'm just plain out of room. I hate to toss plants, but I think they'll end up in the compost bin.
It was one long, long day yesterday getting everything done. I was out the door at 6:30 and didn't finish until close to 8:30 pm. That giant sod pile from the new potato beds has been calling my name for weeks, and after FORTY SEVEN wheelbarrow loads, it was all finally moved.
That area was raked, and managed to give me two good wheelbarrow loads of good topsoil, so it was used to add to the bed by the yarrow, and planted the twelve freebie sweet basil that I got with the tomatos. After that, I weeded the blackberries, moved two new starts that were buried in there, weeded the grape arbor,cleaned the garage,weeded the main garden, watered all the plants out front, cleaned & weeded the back patio, then started to mow the yard. I got about half of the front yard done and my legs just plain gave out. There was nothing left. I sat in a lawn chair and had two cups of coffee for a breather and finished the day by butchering the three older roosters. I used the stainless butchering cone for the first time with them and it's definitly the ONLY way to go. It made things much easier and a lot less messy. I think my head was on the pillow last night for about 15 seconds before I was out. What a day.
Today I'm helping my frind Mike move everything from his brothers house. He lost the house to foreclosure,and doesn't want a single thing from inside other than a chair, tv, and playstation. We'll be taking everything to Mikes and some of it here. Lucky me, the paintball tank that was stored here over a year is now coming back after a 3 year stay at that house. I'm still exausted this morning, but I'm sucking down coffee like it's my job so I can be motivated to help. Hopefully this doesn't take all day. I still have to finish mowing and help get things ready for the solstice party tomorrrow afternoon.
Sunday morning we're going to my folks for a bit for Fathers Day, then heading 2 hours south to our friend Ben's for a picnic. Maybe I'll get some rest next week.LOL

Monday, June 14, 2010

chickens chickens chickens

So......yesterday I responded to a post from someone in the local homesteading group I belong to. She had 5-7 young roosters that she wanted rid of, and,well, my freezer was getting low. We set off to her place around 1pm and found it to be chickens-r-us. We've talked via e-mails and the group for a few years, but this was the first time we actually got the chance to meet in person. It was a wonderful visit. Sort of....
We talked for a while, and she gathered up seven roosters for me to take. Five are only about 3 months old, and the other two are ready for the chopping block. Of course, after looking around and talking chickens, we ended up with more. Aside from the seven roosters, we got one black easter egger, and five mille de fluer's-three hens and two roosters. Yea.......thirteen more chickens. Add that to the 15 layers we now have thanks to the five I bought last week, and the grand total is TWENTY EIGHT. I gotta be out of my $#$%@* mind. Granted, seven will end up in the freezer, but dayum, twenty eight?
Of course, we didn't have anything made for the five mille de fluers, so I spent most of yesterday and all of today reworking the main run, pulled out the old chicken tractor, made another run on it, cleaned both houses, put new straw in them, then removed the old round-top run that I had built the new one over top of. Luckily my friend Mike showed up and got conned into helping. *haha* nothing like popping by for a surprise visit and end up going home covered in mud and chicken poo. Gotta love it. I managed to save the round-top frame, and now it's sitting over the top of the greens beds and will be converted into a large hoop house/short greenhouse when I can straighten the few bent poles and screw it back together.
Tomorrow the forecast calls for rain and thunderstorms all day, so outdoor plans are on hold until Thursday. Instead I'll be cleaning the garage from top to bottom and putting away the tools from today and from a weeks worth of garden work that are leaned against the door. I have to clean it well since we'll have food there for a small party on Saturday.
We're having a small group of friends over for our annual celebration of Litha, or summer solstice. We'll be having a big shrimp boil. A giant pot of shrimp, sausage, potatos, corn, and squash. Side dishes are still up in the air, but we know for sure we'll be having sugar cookies and deviled eggs. I think I know where I can get plenty of eggs.
Aside from finishing chicken stuff, cleaning & preparing for the party, doing the normal garden stuff, and taking care of things while Lisa is at work, the mini-CSA thing has taken off. We now have six customers. I managed to get SIX flats of tomato plants for free and will be planting them next door since they aren't having a garden this year. I'm sure we'll end up with more tomatos than people will want, so we'll be canning even more this year, and then try putting a sign out front and selling some from home. Yep...eggs and tomato's. I'm gonna make my fortune two or three bucks at a time.
I might have to....chicken feed's getting expensive.....hahaha

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blog award?

A few days ago, debbie over at the Happy Days blog gave me a beautiful blogger award and asked me to respond by putting up a list of 10 things about me that you may not know. I'll do this one myself WITHOUT Lisa's in the response she put in for me 2 posts ago. She does think she's funny.

1-I DISPISE sports. I've never watched a game of anything in my life
2-I can quote Texas Chainsaw 2, Student Bodies, and Blazing Saddles pretty much from beginning to end.
3-I'm a professional steering wheel guitar player while driving
4-I'm an admitted and untreated peanut butter & jelly addict
5-I (we) haven't had any kind of cable/satellite/antenna t.v. since last January
6-I'm a HUGE list maker but tend to lose the notebooks that contain the lists
7-I am the last of my family name
8-I can't sleep if my feet are covered at all
9-I'll eat deviled eggs till they come out of my ears but can't stand the smell of egg salad..go figure
10-Anytime I am in a bigger city where there is concrete and tall buildings everywhere, I almost feel like I can't breathe. Cities make me feel like I am choking. Even little-bitty downtown Akron nearby. I can't stand being there.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rainy Day pictures

Of course after just two days of warmth and sunshine, the Ohio weather gods decided to make it turn cool and rain again. I think they're in cahoots with the orange barrel gods Ohio has too...gonna have to do something about that. So, I sat around with a pot of 2 of coffee, read some herb books, and snapped some pictures of how things are going outside so far.

These are the greens beds. Everything is up and/or gone and resewn already. The spinach that was in the bottom left spot was nearly gone and what was left had bolted. It's been resewn as well as the lettuce in the one to it's left.

This is one view of the front yard. I wanted something a little better, but I was hiding from the rain under a pine tree. That trellis/obilesque has a cherry tomato plant under it, and there are 2 more stakes of them straight up. I just have to make more...many more. In between those are small beds for Lisa's gourds and pumkins that I dug and tilled yesterday. In the center is the 30ft round herb bed. It's nearly finished. It just needs a few more herbs and some kind of border or edging. Right now it contains-lemon balm,spearmit,yarrow,chocolate mint,oregeno, basil,chives,rosemary,catnip,sage,lavender,parsley,dill,thyme,peppermint, mugwart and wormwood. In front of the round bed are two other beds planted full of cucumbers, and behind those you can see the grapevines.

This is just another view of the bed for the gourds and cucumbers, and the raspberries growing along the fence behind them. I can't wait for that whole area to fill up with berry plants.

Just a little better shot of the herb bed and the two for cucumbers. I'll be making something fairly tall for the cukes to grow up.

Just a picture of one of the cucumber beds and the grapes. It's hard to believe those grapes were just five little plants two years ago. I have to make something taller for them to vine on when I can.

Partial view of the main vegetable garden. The corn, onions, green beans, squash, and zuchinni all planted from seed just a week and a half ago are already 3-4 inches above ground. Now if we can just get more than 2 days of sun and heat, things will really take off.

Little different view of what is above ground already. That one lone onion made it through the winter.

Happy chickens with 4 wheelbarrow loads of grass clippings.

Speaking of the past 3 weeks we have lost two, one being the cute little banty that was everyone's favorite. We decided that since we have more people asking to buy eggs, that we needed to bring the flock back up a little bit. I talked to my neighbor today, and after he got home from work, we went to his friends house where I got five young layers for $20. That brings us back up to fourteen layers now. I'm going to be looking around for some cheap or free fence and posts so I can expand their yard and rework the old round-top end.

When we picked up the hens, the guy laughed and said "for buying five you get a bonus". I laughed and before I saw what he was doing, he tossed this rooster in the cage I had brought to transfer the hens. He's a beautiful bird, a blue cochin, but I have no use for a young rooster. Anyone wanna give him a home before he ends up in the freezer? LOL
Tomorrow it's supposed to get warm and sunny least for two more days until the rain and storms come back for the weekend. I have one more project in the front yard to do and thats making a bed for sugar snap peas. I'm going to put it in front of the herb bed and between the two crabapples that we got for free. After that, it's just adding edging/borders and cleaning up before I move to the backyard and concentrate on the big stuff.
I have to still move off the 24x3 foot pile of sod pulled from the potato beds, weed the edges of the garden, dig the last 5 foot extension, dig/widen around the blackberries, then possibly move the clotheslines so we can expand the junebearing strawberries in the spring. I may just let that one go till fall.
For now, I'm gonna post this, swallow some coffee, read a few of my regular forums, and call it a day....I'm going to need the rest.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Garden growth & business ventures

Again, we finally got a break in the weather, so things are finally starting to catch up outside. The main garden is done, other than broccoli,(which we can't seem to find anywhere), and the last 5 foot extenstion which will be 2-3 more rows of sweet corn. We did have a good laugh at a mistake though. In the haste of getting things in, and lack of normal planting with a list and garden drawing like we do every year, we managed to forget cucumbers. How the hell did we miss cucumbers? Of course the garden is full now, so I had to dig 2 new beds in the front yard for the forgotton cukes. I put in two beds for them, each 4x8 feet. Of course Lisa also reminded me that she wanted to plant gourds and pumpkins, soooo.....there are 2 MORE beds marked out front with stakes and string that I'll be digging, tilling, and planting today. I also need to dig and till the section I have marked for widening the blackberry bed. It's just getting too big and is a pain to mow around. The herb bed is nearly done too. I got it dug and tilled on Friday, then planted on Sunday when we had the first break in the rain. I'll have to make a list of all the herbs we have planted out there. There are far too many for me to remember.

Everything we had planted last week is doing well. The corn is already standing around 3 inches tall, as well as the onions and green beans. We didn't lose a single plant yet either, so we have high hopes for the whole thing so far. We've been picking a lot of strawberries already too. We picked some on Saturday, then yesterday I picked 5 pounds of junebearing and 3 pounds of everbearing. I still have half of the everbearing bed to pick today, so I'll probably end up with at least another 3 pounds. The total picked so far is at 11 1/4 pounds, our best first picking to date.

The mini-CSA is doing well too. Right now we have stopped at 5 customers. They aren't getting anything but greens, eggs, and strawberries; but everyone is happy so far. Lisa also has a few steady egg customers beyond the CSA people, so we're going to end up getting a few more hens to keep up with the demand. It looks like the next major project is going to be extending and rebuilding the chickens yard to allow for more....yay for another project!!

I heard back from one of the stores last night where I have the staffs and wands on consignment. Apparantly they are both getting great customer reviews, and the owner said that she would take anything that I would make. The other store had a few requests for items that I am trying to work on in my spare time in the evenings, so I'm woodburning designs in boxes for tarot cards, gemstones, and runes, cutting and designing wooden runes, and giving a try at making carved wooden knives. Mike got orders from the same place to make a larger version of this awesome teepee style incense burner that he designed and made to try at the market.

All four of us, (me, Lisa, Mike, and his wife Chrissy) have started a website for our crafts. It is nowhere near completed, but it's starting to take shape. I came up with our company name and Mike has been working on getting the website up and running.
Lisa has been making her jewelry and has a store set up on Etsy as well.[]=tags&includes[]=title When Mike and I get more things made that don't go directly to the stores, we'll be adding them to sell there too. Making them in....yanno....all that spare time I have.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Holiday Weekend

Well...the flea market was a total waste of time. On Friday I sold ONE staff for $35 and nothing else. On Saturday, Mike sold 2 necklaces @ $10 each and 2 $1 refrigerator magnets. That was it. $57 in two days, minus setup fees ($18), minus what I bought ($11), minus what Lisa bought ($2), minus a sausage sandwich and fries ($4), minus what Mike bought ($5), minus the food and drinks we took ($15), we came out $2 ahead. It was 90 degrees and sunny. Some of Lisa's treasure candles melted, I dropped and destroyed Mike's favorite sculpture, two of Lisa's clay figures got broken, she got sick from the heat, and now I have to fill the truck with diesel for what we wasted driving there and back. What a horrible waste of two days. We left an hour early, sick, dissapointed, and disgusted over the whole experience. By the time I fill the truck we'll be as a loss of around $30. That may not sound like much, but we were counting on making a few extra dollars there to help., and it just didn't happen.

Yesterday we did manage to get most of the garden in. I started at 6:30am to try to beat the heat. We had a good pace going. then the neighbor behind me stopped over with his brother-in-law from Florida,(who was raised in my house) and stayed almost an hour. Then the neighbor in the back of the orchard stopped by for about another hour, (though I did manage to swap him 3 of my handmade wands for a garden cart and he gave me a barrel stove). Then as I was digging the last 5x24 bed, friends of ours stopped by since they were out yard saleing in the area and stayed about 2 hours or so. Don't get me wrong, I like having company and people over, but it was one distraction after another. The weather was horribly hot and I took 5 minute breaks about once an hour to drink water and sit in the shade. (I drank my 2 gallon cooler dry twice). I ended up sunburned red from the waist up, hot, sweaty and dirty. Everything is planted but squash, zuchinni, beets, broccoli, and the rest of the herbs.

Today I slept in a bit longer than I wanted but was still up at 6:30. I made coffee and did a few things outside then worked on cleaning up the garage and garden tools from yesterday. I tinkered in the garage a bit and made a wreath from the grapevines with a star in the center, then made two small horseshoe shaped beds behind the chickenhouse and transplanted some spearmint in them. We had a barbeque, but a storm rolled in and it got windy and fanned the flames in the wood cookstove. Some of the corn was burnt and almost half of the steaks ended p ultra-well done. Of course, just as I was ready to take everything off the grill, it started pouring rain and stormed for not quite an hour. I wasn't too upset with the rain since we needed it after just planting yesterday, but it only lasted an hour then got sunny and really hot and humid....typical Ohio. The forecast now says rain the next 4-5 days straight, so I have no idea when I can finish the garden. Hopefully I'll get at least a one day break to finish planting. I could now since the rain stopped, but I'm just plain drained both mentally and physically from the disappoinment at the flea market and from spending 13 hours outside yesterday. Lisa is sitting across the table from me making jewelry and I'm doing laundry at the same time I write this. I think it's gonna be an early night............................................

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday's flea market adventures...and a surprise

This morning my friend Mike and I set off to the flea market at 4am. The people there told me that it got so busy that I should be there at 5 or sooner to get an open spot. All I can say is one word..........LIARS! lol There were quite a few people set up, and others arriving with and after us to set up, but we found after putting up tables and displays that the place was half empty. We talked to a few other vendors, and they all said that Friday is slow and basically a setup day for everyone planning for Saturday and Monday. AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHH I was up making coffee and sandwiches at 3 am for nothing!!! I wanna know who I talked to on the phone so I can slap 'em silly. *sigh* The price for the spot was marked in the corner at $13 and I was told it was an extra $5 for holiday weekends. When the young guy came around to collect money for space rental, he told us that only Saturday and Monday were extra, and actually that Friday was half price. So the spot cost us $6.50 instead of the $18 we expected. I felt a little justified with my irritation over getting there before the sun thought about rising. Maybe this day was going to be ok.........or so I thought.
When these people said slow, they meant SLOW. There were a lot of people walking around, but most of them were the regular flea market vendors. You know...the type that will buy something from you for $5 then take it to thier table and sell it for $8. Yea, those guys were everywhere. Of course there were the typical flea market buyers that never bothered to look, and just asked for specific things.....lionel trains, pocktknives, watches, guns, WWII items, etc. I know they're after certain things, but c'mon folks, learn some manners. Don't just stop and yell then say I have stupid stuff. Quite a few times I eyeballed the meat grinder at the table next door hoping for that one next rude old guy so I could make a great big batch of Grumpy Ass Sausage, but I held my patience and smiled. One even stopped, picked up a wand, and said to his friend "what the hell would anyone want THIS for", to which I politely responded "to smack you upside the head with". Hmm..wonder why he didn't come inside the tents and look around.
I do have to mention one really awesome, incredible, and totally amazing thing about today. Guess what?..................I'm a celebrity! Thats right. You didn't misread this. I'm a celebrity. Remember the posts that I've made about the flea market and the staffs I was making to sell? Yea.....I had someone stop in, looked at the staffs, and asked if my name was Chris. "yea thats me" I responded in total curiousity. "from One Acre Homestead?" he asked. I stood up rather puzzled and said "yes". I walked over, shook my hand and asked how he knew me. It turns out that he is a long time follower of this blog and came all the way from Chatanooga Tenneessee to visit this historic flea market and to see my incredible woodcarving skills. Can you believe that??????? Well, you shouldn't lol. He is a blog follower, but he's local. Actually from the same town the flea market is in, 10 minutes from our house. (gotta admit my story is WAY cooler) It was great to find someone that reads the blog and follows it, local or not. I wish I could remember your name. Sorry, but I'm HORRIBLE with names, but thank you for stopping by and saying hello. It was a pleasure to meet you. for the grand total sales figure for the day. An hour and a half before the market officially opened, I sold one staff for $35. Mike pushed his merchandise and the refrigerator magnets that his wife had made, and made a whopping whole dollar. Yep.....36 bucks. Now subtract the money for renting the spot, and we made $19.50. Then (lol) subtract the $5 I spent on an oil lamp (hey its a nice one with a wall mount bracket!!) and we came out ahead $14.50. It got so slow that we left at 3:30, soooooooo.........there at 4:30, out at 3:30, total profit $19.50.....that figures out at $1.77 an hour for sitting in 90 degree weather dealing with grumpy people and making a permanent mark of a lawn chair on my ass cheeks.
I was assured by everyone I talked to that tomorrow will be INSANE. One guy even told us that it took him 3 hours to get to the flea market from the highway, which is under 10 miles. Another said that it gets so busy you end up waiting 30 minutes to use the bathroom or an hour to get a cup of coffee. We shall see mister flea market.....we shall see.
Keep your fingers crossed for me folks! Another day like today and you may see me on the evening news. "Ohio man goes insane at flea market and puts 3 people through meat grinder".

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Holiday Weekened Happenings

Yesterday was finally nice enough that I was able to spend the whole day outside, around 75 and sunny, yeehaaa. I had two new strawberry beds marked out do thin and transfer from the overstuffed 6x24 bed, but since this weather has been so bad, I was never able to get them finished. Of course, now the plants are blooming and starting to bear fruit, so I don't want to dig any and chance killing them. So instead, I moved things around a bit and made three beds the same size instead of two. Two we'll use for potato's, and the third will be either bush cucumbers or more corn. Next year they'll get strawberry plants.

I staked out the main garden addition, adding another 4 feet, widened the blackberry bed since it's gotten to be a pain to mow around, and added a small triangular bed in front of the blackberries and beside one of the new beds. I hate wasted space and open grass, so that at least took care of the small roughly 6x9 area. I don't think we'll have a problem filling it with something, lol.

With our love of vegetable gardening and hatred of open grass, we've decided to take on yet another little venture. We're going to run a little CSA out of the place. Lisa already has two people on board wanting in, and we'll take on 2-3 more for this year, just to see how it goes. We're offering them a pretty low price for vegetables, fruit, and eggs every two weeks through early October. If the herb bed does well, we'll add fresh and tried herbs, along with some homemade teas. If all goes well, next year we'll plan on more people and more garden expansions. Right now we'll stick with the 4-5 people as an experiment.

We aren't going to get rich off of this by any means, but we'll make a tiny profit and basically get our own produce for free since the fees will cover the cost of plants and seeds. For now I won't count our time since we would be planting the same things anyway. We'll track everything we do time-wise and with production vs sales and evaluate everything for another go next season.

Today I *have* to spend the day inside finishing the things for the flea market this Friday and Saturday. It's gonna make me insane staying inside when it's so nice out already, but I have to get these done. My friend Mike and I will be there all day Friday and the wives will be with us on Saturday. Both days will be from 5am to 5pm...ugh, but I hope things go well and we sell quite a bit of items. After that, it's ALL garden time. Lisa will be off work Sunday and Monday, so those will be our massive catch-up days. I'll keep things posted on how the flea market goes and how things are going oustside. For now, I'm running Lisa to work and heading out to put in an application at a local garden center.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What's that bright thing in the sky???

FINALLY FINALLY this rain and cool weather has given me a break. Yesterday was sunny and near 80. The plan was to mow the worthless grass since it was 2 days away from needing bailed, but the always spring-finicky Loboy didn't want to start. I charged the battery, changed the oil, then noticed a gas leak at the carb. The leak is a simple rubber hose, but I opted to let it go for a day and use the pushmower. I figured that by the time I remove the hose, go get another one, come back, put it on, and get the tractor started, I could just go ahead and mow. It's been 11 years since I mowed the whole place with a pushmower, and lemme tell ya, I forgot how much walking that is! I imagine it wouldn't have been so bad if the grass wasn't 8-9 inches tall in a few spots, but I got it done. Today I'll definitly get the tractor running. I'm not doing that again.

It was nice in a way though; walking along instead of riding on the tractor. I payed more attention to things. I noticed three anthills that I would have missed. I noticed that the tiny blueberry bush is setting berries. I noticed how much the grapes have grown in just the past few weeks since we had the last actual look at sunshine. I noticed the name written on the wreath in the front by the telephone pole where someone was killed 30 years ago. While it made my legs a bit weary mowing an acre with a pushmower, it was a nice break from just driving along and just paying attention to where the mowing deck was.

When I picked Lisa up from work, she of course wanted to go walking at the park. We made a half mile and my legs were just too tired from mowing. We walked back and sat at the edge of the Cuyahoga River and talked a while before we came back home. On the way, we stopped and got the extremely rare sub sandwiches and sat at our picnic table to enjoy the weather. We talked about what needed done outside and walked around the whole yard making mental notes. to ourselves and each other. We have the usual pruning and weeding to do, and I have a lot of little bed extensions to work on. Both of us love the smell of the various mints and lemon balm we have growing outside, so I'm going to expand their areas to almost double. We're both interested in experimenting with teas and using more herbs for medicinal purposes, so the expansion will work out great that way. We have three different kinds of mint right now. Spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate mint. I can't wait to get them expanded and filled out. I love the smell of them all.

There are lots of things to get done outside, the little bed expansions, the herb bed, and of course the vegetable garden and new strawberry beds. Of course, being Ohio, the weather is going to change again and start raining today and not stop until monday morning. I'll use the weekend to catch up on the things to sell at the flea market next weekend, then have the week to get as much done as I possibly can. It's going to be a long,hard week but I can't wait. I live for this stuff. Sitting around idle makes me insane. I can finally catch up, get some sun and fresh air, and enjoy myself outside.

To get away from my normal blog material for a minute, I have to say goodbye to an old friend who we lost last weekend.Though I never actually knew the man, he has been a part of my life for 30 years. I have many memories of him in song and of those I have seen in person. I am actually in the beginning of day four of my own tribute to him, playing many cd's from my collection of him on vocals. Most people don't understand my view and my passion of my music. It touches me. It moves me. It makes me angry, happy, or just plain want to move and sing at the top of my lungs. His music has never been an exception thoroughout his entire career, whether it was Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, his solo recordings, or Heaven and Hell. His lyrics, his incredible singing style, his massive stage presence, all of them encompass who he was. He lived for music and for the fans. I'll forever be grateful to enjoy his music and to have the opportunity to say I've seen him live. Ronnie James Dio, you will never be forgotten.

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