Monday, May 11, 2009

Burned my butt

5/11/09 Monday
It sure cooled off, quite a drastic change from the 100-plus degree days we’ve been having. I put on one of my insulated flannel shirts to keep the chill off. I see I haven’t made an entry since Friday and that doesn’t surprise me with the way I’ve been working and the heat. Thank God for pain pills for otherwise not much would have gotten done. Speaking of that there’s something I wanted to address. Paula Abdul (I think that’s how it’s spelled), the American Idol judge, announced that she had been addicted to pain medications and was getting help to get off of them. I’m a member of the American Pain Foundation, which is a national organization fighting for law reforms and addressing other issues facing chronic pain sufferers. In their monthly newsletter they addressed what had been written in the interview Paula had. The first point was a good one. There is a dramatic difference between being dependent on a drug versus addicted. A diabetic is dependent on his insulin shots, not addicted. Someone who suffers chronic pain is dependent on the medication that allows him/her to function in life. Granted that over the years one develops a tolerance for opioid medications, requiring an increase in their strength to maintain effectiveness, and a physical dependence as well. The same holds true for many other medications, including the statin drugs used for blood pressure and plaque build up in veins.

There is a fine line between dependence and addiction. The problem comes when someone begins abusing pain medication for the “high” they get when they take larger doses than prescribed. I know because I’ve been there. Now I’m extremely careful about it. The temptation to take more than I should is always there, especially when my pain level gets up there. My biggest problem is because of the short term memory loss. I will come in to take a pill because I hurt so much but five minutes later can’t remember if I took it or not, but I still hurt because it takes forty minutes or so to take effect. Recognizing this I always make sure to tell Cherie when I take one to prevent accidently ingesting another. When she’s not here I try to make notes to let me know when I took one. Without that I could take five in an hour and not realize it. That would not be good and even dangerous.

Nuff said on that. I spent three painful days getting the corn planted. There was lots of bending over involved in making the rows and then planting the seeds. To ease the pain I would often crouch down instead of bending over, balancing with my feet spread over three rows and my knees bent so I could put the seeds in while keeping the back a little more upright. It was similar to some of the martial arts training I had but my legs are a lot weaker now. This will certainly help strengthen them.

An unfortunate result of all this bending over was a sunburn. As I worked my shirt would come up, exposing part of my lower back. Saturday afternoon I said to Cherie “Could you look at my ass? It feels like there is a rash or something there and it really bothers me”. When I pulled my shirt up I heard “Oh my!” and Cherie informed me I had a pretty bad sunburn. While it’s on the high side of the butt or low side of the back I don’t think it’s inaccurate to say “I burned my ass”. For some perverse reason I like describing it that way. I guess that’s because it’s a common street slang to describe when someone gets conned.

So I’ve finally planted my first seeds. There is mostly corn in the plot but when I ran out of corn seeds I planted black beans I had harvested when I grew them two years ago. Don’t know if they are still good but we’ll find out. It didn’t take me long to remember what a problem the dogs will be. They made sure to remind me as I worked on this. First they dug up some of the drip tape and walked all over everything.

Tommy and Jamie finally came over to start working off the price of the car we sold them. It’s been two months now. I had them help put of some fence to keep the dogs out. I’ll need to fence in everything.

Another reminder of the issues I must deal with was these fresh gopher mounds. The little bugger is digging right where I put drip tape. They are known to gnaw through the tape, thus trashing it and precipitating a need to repair it. With warmer weather comes an increase in these pests activity and I’m seeing signs of this all over the place. One of the two remaining apple trees (out of the nine we planted) is now dying, and the gophers are to blame. This isn’t just a little problem, these pests are killing things off as quick as they can and if I can’t get a handle on it they will kill off any hope to make this place a success. If I could afford to get a bottle of oxygen I could blast them out and destroy their tunnels but there’s no money to spare. I’ve got plenty of gopher poison but am not keen on using it. If one of the poisoned gophers dies on the surface or gets dug up by the dogs, the dogs could eat it and in turn get poisoned.

The sticker grass is already making stickers, which are seeds to produce more sticker grass. The land is already full of these. Just sitting my hand on the ground to support myself got me these two nasty things stuck in my flesh. My plans were to plant the rye to compete with the sticker grass and then till it all under before the grass went to seed. The rye didn’t make it due to the drought and I don’t have the capability of tilling it all under. I’ve got a tractor but nothing to pull with it. I know what I need to do but can’t do it. The old man had his guy come till this land for me as a favor but I’m not comfortable asking him for more help. Frustration is constant out here.

Much of the struggle to make this a working farm, one that produces a good income, is due to a lack of funds. There is good money in farming but it takes money to make money. With the Mittlieder method of growing I can produce a hundred tons of tomatoes on one acre of ground. This sounds outlandish, or at least it did when I first read it, but is documented worldwide. This method of growing is labor intensive and requires specific fertilizer applications so is not feasible for me right now. The point is that there is much potential for just the five acres I’ve cleared for use, I just don’t have the capability to accomplish it.

I’ve been contemplating finding a business partner or five to help jump start things. One way or another I’ll build a good working farm but it would go a lot quicker with some help. Just a little math to show the potential, a hundred tons equals two hundred thousand pounds. At a buck a pound for tomatoes that’s two hundred thousand potential dollars to be made on an acre of land. How much of that would be profit I can’t tell but I’m sure we would make a buck or two. The key is to be able to sell what you grow. With access to the old man’s building on the interstate there is great potential.

I need to get to work.
Going outside I saw the lawnmower and remembered that I had seen sparks coming out from underneath as I was mowing weeds so brought it in. Sparks are never good around dry grass. So that’s the first task for today. Taking the mower blade off I was real puzzled at what I saw. “Was this the wrong blade” I wondered. Then I thought I’d used the wrong washer. You see, I remember putting this blade on last year. The original blade died and I had to go buy one. I had a hard time finding the right one, going to several stores before finding it at Sears.

The removable center “washer” piece had a hole that was too small to fit where it mounted on the mower. Thinking this was the problem I spent the next hour trying to drill it larger. I went ahead and sharpened the blade while I had it out. As I tried to put the blade back on I discovered the real problem. I had put it on wrong in the first place. It’s no fun finding your mistakes and wondering “what was I thinking”.

So it’s 2:00. That’s pretty much all I’ve gotten done today. I came in and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich so took the time to write this.

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