Monday, July 27, 2009

The clock's ticking

7/27/09 Monday
It’s the start of another week. Almost the end of July. The clocks ticking and I see that once again I will be unable to accomplish all that needs doing. I’m going to just make quick notes that I can reference later to remember these days.

There is a return of an old problem. While I was weeding the cantaloupe and honeydews Cherie came out to see how they were doing. “Go look at the last plant” I said, “That’s where the biggest golden honeydew is”. “You’re not going to like this” she yelled back over the forty yard distance. I knew and my heart sank. Sure enough the dogs, ie. Gretchen, had broken it open to eat.

We have a large area our church friends helped put up fence posts around specifically to cordon off an area the dogs, and coyotes, can’t get into, in order to be able to grow melons without this happening. Unfortunately I was unable to put the fencing on them and doubt the roll of fence I have is enough to go around it anyway. Just another thing I haven’t gotten to and am unable to do.

The melons are the one other thing I’ve managed to plant. Everyone asks “What else do you have?” when they buy blackeyed peas and I happily tell them we have cantaloupe and honeydew that will be ready soon. If I had the resources there is no question that five acres would produce twenty to thirty thousand dollars worth of product. That’s not pie in the sky thinking, it’s documentable production based on what others do with intensive farming techniques. Actually that’s a low figure compared to what can be produced with the Mittlieder method. That’s a form of growing that resembles hydroponics, only it’s done outdoors and employs what’s called “Vertical growing” techniques to maximize yield per acre. It’s labor intensive and way beyond my current capability. Not from a physical standpoint such as a heavy lifting kind of things, but from the amount of time required. There’s only little ole me to do the work of five people.

That brings me back to the clock ticking. There is so much to do and I can’t keep up. I couldn’t if I was in perfect health so losing hours, and sometimes whole days, to headaches and seizures makes it worse. With the full slate the question always is “which task to I do?”. I collected two truck loads of manure Saturday and set up two more composting bins to prepare it for planting. That caused a lot of pain but pain’s just a part of the picture and the least of my worries. It’s mostly just inconvenient, sometimes painfully so. (Pun intended).

While out I notice, as I always do everywhere I walk every day, the sticker grass. With the rain it’s going to town like all the weeds. While I desperately need to prepare plots for fall planting, especially for another batch of blackeyed peas, our biggest money maker (Actually our only money maker this year) I know that if I don’t spend time fighting the sticker grass it will become a solid carpet of thorns covering everything just like last year. You can see on this picture where I tilled up an area and planted Sudan Sorghum hay. I did this to combat weeds, particularly sticker grass, and to till it under to improve the soil. With the old man’s disc I was able to turn lots of ground, and along with it weeds, under. Unfortunately a bearing went bad on it. I asked him to let me fix it but he said he would have it done. This is frustrating, to have to borrow equipment and have it break while under my care.

Despite my desperate need to have these tools that enable me to farm I’m ashamed to take advantage of someone’s generosity only to break his equipment. Nate has a disc for me in Ohio, at least I think he does, can’t remember for sure, but that’s fifteen hundred miles away. How I want to farm but how I’m unable to do so, severely limited by the lack of proper equipment. Drives me nuts.

So I’ll be tackling the sticker grass by hand and in the process the beds for fall crops won’t get prepared. I’ll use the tiller for as much as I can but the rest will be done with my hoe one chop at a time. Texas prison taught me how to use a hoe and work till I drop thirty four years ago. A lesson well learned. I keep the hoe knife sharp with a file that I carry in my pocket. That makes the job much easier on my back and hands. Instead of having to pound the ground I can just run it across and slice the weeds off at ground level. Unfortunately the sticker grass often isn’t so easy. A problem with all this is that with the tiller I’m basically planting the sticker/seeds when I till it under. And with the hoe I might kill the plant but the sticker/seeds are still there and will quickly sprout. The original plan was to keep turning the ground under before the sticker grass could produce seeds but I’ve been unable to do that. So to do this right I should keep the wheelbarrow with me and collect every weed I cut so I can burn them later. It’s just not physically possible to do two plus acres this way. Not unless I did nothing but this, every day, all day long, for the rest of the year.

Trixie has been limping for almost a week now. We figured she had gotten a sticker in her paw, like they do every day, and that she would dig it out. But that hasn’t happened. I had Cherie wrap her in a towel and hold her down while I carefully examined the paw, hoping to find and extract the thorn. Couldn’t find a thing as Trixie struggled because of the intense pain my probing caused. In the process Cherie noticed that one of Trixie’s nails had turned black. Tomorrow is the day we take Ben in to have the pin removed so I’ll take Trixie in as well to have Dr. Law look at it. Another vet bill but that’s part of having pets. I told Cherie that we are basically parents and they are our kids. We can’t have children ourselves so this is as close as we can get. At least I had the privilege of raising Bruce and Adam with the second wife.

I must get to work. Have to take garbage to the landfill and deposit cash in the bank. Thank God we had some blackeyed peas to sell. They’ve brought in about a hundred dollars a week. Not much but sure needed. Speaking of money, we got a letter from the VA. They want me to pay them back $56,000.00 of the disability money I’ve received over the last six years. That’s basically all the money they sent me. This won’t be fun. We are appealing. Don’t have a clue if it will do any good but have to do something. It’s not like we purposely defrauded them. We told them we were married but never filled out the correct form I guess and presumed everything was correct. Now they even want back the money I was paid before we were married and when I was homeless.

So much for a short note. Nothing’s getting done while I write so time to go.

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