Friday, November 30, 2007

Pretty slow at the moment

This mornings sunrise

11/29/07 Thursday
On the news this morning was a story about a lady with Asperger’s syndrome who had finished in fifth place in some kind of beauty contest. Can’t remember what exactly the contest was but it was a big deal. I like to see stories that raise awareness of both Asperger’s and TBI as they are both issues I live with and have most of my life. The part I like is the fact she has risen beyond this and done quite well in spite of it. Having this mild form of autism doesn’t mean you are stupid or unable to accomplish anything, it just means you have to try harder.

11/30/07 Friday
It’s 3:11 now. I am going through a major slowdown. Operating at a three on the bob scale. Ears are ringing bad and I am typing this in slow motion. Want to make a note that Don came and visited yesterday. The doctor said he needed to get on his feet a little now. That’s a good sign indicating that the healing of the fractures is progressing finally. He was glad to hear that so called to see if I was up to a visit. I’m always up for a visit unless enduring one of the go to bed and hide headaches. I’d even accept a visit now but wouldn’t be much company.

I raked more of the rye seed in yesterday and today. Ran the sprinklers. Because of being slow can’t remember if I ran them yesterday but they are running right now. There is lots of it coming up now. It is good to see.

Oh, just thought to note that I took Don over to Chuck and Lillian’s. Was going to in the beginning paragraph but forgot. Lillian was home so we talked. Don’t know what about. But both Don and I can’t stand up to long so were glad to get in the truck.

I went with Cherie and finished the last cotton field. It was particularly hard on my back. Had to take a pain pill when we got home. I took the camera. Saw lots of tumbleweeds. Ever since reading about the lady who makes over $40,000 a year selling tumbleweeds I notice them more. There must be a thousand dollars of them in this cotton field. When I get the website up I will put in a section to sell tumbleweeds. Amy may help me set it up. She offered but I haven’t gotten back with her on it.

I’ve been wanting to get a picture of one of the wind electric generators for some time now. There is a whole bunch that are going to be set up. You can see them laid out for miles in this area. I had Cherie stand next to one to give you an idea just how big they are.

Took lots of sunrise and sunset pictures. I have to lay back down so will just put these on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good sunrise greeting.

11/28/07 Wednesday
Woke up to the sounds of the puppies wrestling around. The little buggers had stolen a whole roll of toilet paper from the bathroom. All that was left were shreds spread all over the place. They heard about it and in the process of my expressing my displeasure Cherie woke up. “What’s going on?” she groggily said. Probably not the best way to wake up. But we are up.

Today we go to the cotton fields. There are only two left that haven’t been harvested, at least not when Cherie last checked. They may be done by now as all the farmers are pushing hard to get their cotton done. We will know when we get there. This will probably be the last cotton survey except for the two fields Cherie has to glean after they are harvested. Hope it’s not too muddy.

We were greeted with a great sunset this morning so I thought I would share it with you all.
We got some of the cotton survey done. Worked till noon. Went into Stanton to have one of the best hamburgers along with the best malt to be found in these parts. That is at the downtown drug store. Then we came home. The ground was wet so I did most of the counting and picking from a standing position instead of sitting on the ground and scooting my butt down the row. That killed me. Had to take a pain pill and lay down. I did snip off the rest of the basil to harvest the seeds for next year. Plan on surrounding the place in basil as it helps keep some of the bugs away I’m told. Cherie had gone into Midland. Janie and Steve want her to do lots of cleaning, several days worth from the sound of it. We still need to do some more cotton work so she wants to get a head start on Janie’s.

Didn’t write much today. I raked some more of the rye seed this evening till the sun went down and it got to dark to see. The puppies were helping me of course. They do a great job of supervising.

Cherie just called. She said she had a flat tire so pulled into a gas station and put air into it. That has me worried as she is driving home. I hope the tire doesn’t go flat or blow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another bright morning

11/27/07 Tuesday
It’s another bright morning with a frost covering the ground. The rye seems to be holding up very well despite the snow and frosts. I am a little disturbed this morning. Some home stuff I won’t talk about. I have a tendency to focus on things more than I should. It is a common problem for those of us with TBI. Perhaps by recognizing it I will be able to balance back out. But it makes things hard on Cherie when I do this.

I never made it over to Chuck and Lillian’s yesterday so will hopefully get out there today. I did get some of the tiller motor back together but have much more to do. It is a slow process as I am unable to remember taking it apart. I remember I took it apart but not what piece came from where or the order it was dismantled. So I slowly figure it out and carefully look over the parts. Hopefully everything will be done alright. Getting the piston in the cylinder without what is called a cylinder sleeve was a big, big, challenge. I took the metal strip from a measuring tape that was already broken and, wrapping it around the piston, managed to get the piston in one ring level at a time. Used the rubber mallet to encourage it. That is not the right way but I do the best I can with what I have. Buying a cylinder sleeve for a one time use is just not in the rather tight budget. We will see.
This morning Cherie went to Midland to do some housework for Janie. When she started the car to warm it up I heard a loud steady noise from in the house so ran out to see what it was. It stopped before I got out so didn’t know if it came from the car or not so shut it off to be sure. Popping the hood I checked the oil. While doing so the sound resumed so I learned it came from where they were working on the oil well that had just been drilled. But it was a good thing as it was because there was no oil registering on the dipstick at all. Her car was out of oil. Not good at all. I keep meaning to check it cause I know her car uses oil but as it is with me I keep forgetting. I told Cherie to mark her calendar for me to check oil every two weeks. That is how it has to be. If anything is to happen it pretty much has to be in a written schedule. Otherwise it just doesn’t happen.

I just got back from the John Deere dealer and picked up the quote. I was surprised to see that it almost matches the one for the Mahindra tractor except it doesn’t include a trailer. The trailer is important as it allows me to transport the tractor to potential jobs, thus providing additional income.
I’m tired and it’s getting late, at least by my standards. It’s 10:30. There was a time in my life that this was when the party was just getting started. Glad to see those days are gone. I’ll have to think hard to remember what else happened today. I went to the landfill and didn’t come back with anything. That’s new. There wasn’t any mail to speak of. After checking mail I dropped by the John Deere dealer and I see I already mentioned that earlier. Then I went home and grabbed the camera. I wanted to take some pictures of Chuck and Lillian’s place to go with some measurements so we can have a better idea of the material needs for a new roof.

I also wanted to get some pictures of this place. It belongs to Carol Yader and he had worked there with my grandmother back when it was a grocery store or something like that. This building is right on the interstate and is a stones throw (literally) from the west bound exit. And it is next to FM 829, the road our place is on. That’s the overpass for 829 right behind it. There is a half acre or so lot that goes with it. What a perfect place for a farmer’s market and store to sell our produce. I know Carol said he was going to put it on the market but have no idea if it sold or how much he would want for it. It’s all part of this dream I have, or at least can be a part of it.

I went to Midland to mail a letter to Wayne in Toledo. While there Cherie called and asked if I could run by Janie’s house as the Maytag repairman was going to show up and she was at the grocery store. That was fine and I was glad to be able to help. Mike from next door was outside when I pulled up so we talked a bit. He asked how things were going. I told him about the farm and how we were trying to get a tractor. Mike made a suggestion that caught me by surprise.

“How about I do a golf tournament to raise money for you?”. Mike is a golf pro and he began to tell me of the many charity tournaments he has put on to raise funds for different needs including a guy with a bad cancer. Once he played something like 820 holes of golf in one day, eight hours non stop. It beat a Guinness world record but they didn’t have anyone to send down and verify it. The idea really has merit. But is it right to put on a fundraiser for yourself? That seems off key for some reason but I really don’t know.

That’s all I can remember now so goodnight.

Monday, November 26, 2007

building a farm

11/26/07 Monday
It is a great morning. I am always thankful for times of lucidity and I am running a good eight or nine on the bob scale. As always I hope it stays. There have been times when I go for days without a slowdown.

It is a bright cloudless morning. The temperatures dropped to 27 degrees last night but it will warm to nearly sixty today. The puppies and I went for our morning walk. Haven’t done that in a few days so they were thrilled. We walked all the way to the well as I wanted to check on the wrapping/insulation job I did. Particularly I wanted to see if the rat or whatever had dug back under the tank. There was no sign of that, which is a relief. I wrapped a blanket around the plastic I used to protect the insulation from rain. I did this because the West Texas sun makes short work of plastics. They become brittle and disintegrate. So hopefully this job will last more than one season.

Another thing I did at the well was walked off how many paces the pipe leading to the house is from the line of telephone poles that mark the border. It is fourteen paces and that is how far the mysterious hole that had an inverted pressure cooker pot in it that I found not far from our outdoor spigot is. I suspect I will find the water pipe and perhaps a cut off when I dig farther. I had dug a three foot hole there when we first moved in to see what was under this marked spot. However the dirt has drifted four feet high right there so I may have six or more feet to dig. That is a lot of digging, almost as deep as I am tall, and will be hard on me but as always I will do what I have to do. I might be lucky and find something at four or five feet.

If I do then I can be fairly confident that the pipe runs in a straight line from the well so I will be able to accurately determine where to dig out in the future five acre truck farm. Thus I can tap in to access water closer to where I will plant. This way I can rent a trencher and lay pipe as the first step in building a drip feed irrigation system. Dirt and water are the key elements in successful farming. That and some hard work. It’s all part of building the framework, the foundations of this farm. The alternative is to piece together hundreds of feet of garden hose, like I have been doing up to this point. A hundred foot garden hose costs fifty buck or so and I think that’s for the cheap stuff that doesn’t last. I’ve got eight or nine hoses that people had thrown away in the landfill that I replaced the ends on or spliced together.

All this will cost money of course. That brings up the next thing I wish to bring up. Several people have suggested and also requested that I set up a PayPal account so they can send donations. It is a concept I hadn’t considered but in retrospect not a bad idea. So last night Cherie worked hard to figure out how to do all that. We now have the account and Cherie managed to put the PayPal icon on the blog. I haven’t seen it yet but if it’s there you should be able to click on it and make a donation, which will be deposited directly into our account.

So with that in mind I will present some of the needs we have to build this farm. One of the important investments is windbreak trees. These are vital to provide protection from the ever present and sometimes violent West Texas winds. One of the tricks I’ve learned from one of the “native” gardeners out here is to cut the bottoms out of those plastic buckets plants from a nursery come in. Then you push them securely into the ground around each plant. In this case he was referring to pepper plants.

When we went to check out the apple orchard near Lubbock we stopped at the Texas Forest Service nursery. They have a wide variety of trees available, some specifically for windbreaks. The best one for our area is the Eastern Red Cedar. They come ready to plant in a square paper tube in lots of thirty. I was surprised to learn thirty trees only costs $55.00. They suggest planting them ten feet apart so it would take fifty trees to cover each side of our five acres. This five acre plot is a square 528 feet long per side so 200 trees would surround it.

In addition they recommend a shrub be planted on the outside of each row. The two mentioned in their literature as being ideal for that are Aromatic Sumac and Lilac. Unfortunately they are not listed on the order form for the West Texas nursery so I presume they must be purchased from another location. The Texas Forest Service brochure says “The Texas A&M University System” under the title. I don’t know what the prices would be or if they are available but would like to find out. They do have “Smooth Sumac” available from the West Texas nursery. It is labeled as a tall shrub or tree but no mention is made about use as an outside row windbreak shrub. The price however is attractive at fifty seedlings for $30.00. All these seedlings are one year old. Shipping and handling is $9.11 per 30 trees of the Red Cedar. The trees will be shipped in February though we may just drive up there and pick them up.

So if any of you would like to help us buy windbreak trees you can do so through the PayPal Donate button thing. Being new at this I don’t know if there is a place to specify what the donation is for but will eventually learn. If not please drop us an email at I suppose it would be a good idea to set up an email address just for Westbrook Farms and perhaps a blog as well. I tried a blog just for the farm but never found the time or remembered to post so let it go.

One of the other needs for building this farm is irrigation. In fact the windbreak trees will require that. I need to locate sources of material to build the in ground drip feed systems such as we saw at the apple orchard. The hose is really not that expensive. I saw some with emitters already installed for something like thirty bucks for a hundred feet at Lowe’s or Home Depot but it was gone when I went there a week or so ago.

Other than that our major need is a tractor. That will be a bit harder to get (Duh!!! You think?) but it will happen. God will provide.

I’ve got some soil samples to dig this morning so we can send them in to be tested. I also want to dig to find the water pipe from the well. That I will probably do bit by bit. The tiller is waiting for me to finish rebuilding the motor so perhaps I can get to it today as well. I will be running out to Chuck and Lillian’s to take some measurements. Probably ought to do that this morning before I get all involved with other stuff. So time to get moving.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Winter wonderland

11/25/07 Sunday
So far it’s been a fantastic morning as far as my cognizance goes. I’ve been running a strong nine out of ten on the bob scale. How I wish I could stay this way. Sunday school was…well I was sharp so everything was good. The lesson was on the last part of Mathew covering the death and resurrection. I had to stop myself from answering all the questions the teacher asks to get everyone involved. I didn’t need to have my bible open to answer. There was so much I wanted to say but it wasn’t my place so restrained myself.

Wally, Dave, and I stayed after and talked about what can be done for Chuck and Lillian. There is a need for leadership in this as there is in any situation. I want to jump in and do so but can’t depend on myself to stay sharp or follow through. It is real frustrating to not trust yourself. How I want to just be healed and remain at the level of cognizance I am currently enjoying. Every year I am a bit better so perhaps I’ll get there. I’ve said many times before that I would gladly live in a wheelchair in exchange for a sharp mind. I’m not kidding.

Anyway, Cherie and I need to go visit with Chuck and Lillian. I need to get measurements on the house so we can determine the amount of materials needed for the roof. One of the things Wally suggested was to break this whole thing up into individual segments like the roof, then siding, and whatever else. That is the best way to approach it. The thought of getting a team of folks together to provide the labor is one I would like to push simply because I believe that physical participation is the best way to do this. Not for Chuck and Lillian as much as for the participants. There is a blessing that comes from getting your hands dirty and being up close and personal with giving. It is easy to just give money and keep a distance and for some that is the best they can do, but to be close to the ones you are helping really helps you understand and reach out more effectively.

It was beautiful this morning with how the snow built up on everything. I can’t help it but I love the snow, at least on this level. I don’t love some of the danger or discomfort it can cause others and it’s a pain sometimes but I see beauty here. The snow is melting rapidly and will be gone before the days end. Here today and gone tomorrow. It’s a muddy mess now and so are the puppies. In this weather they are kept in the puppy room or at least the kitchen area till they dry off.

Here they are on the couch. Little buggers snuck up there and made themselves comfortable.

I am looking forward to what this moisture will do for the four hundred and fifty pounds of rye seed I’ve got out. The parts I had been watering with the sprinklers were sprouting when the snow came but that is only a tenth of what is out there. It will be so cool to have a sea of green out here. How I look forward to building this farm and the rye is only a first step.

For those of you who haven’t been here for a while or are new readers the rye grain is to fight off the weeds that have been growing here thirty years. In the spring I will till it under on the spots where I will be planting vegetables and whatever else, thus making fertile mulched bed rows. In the isles in between the rows I will roll the rye down flat. This will kill it and leave a ground cover that will inhibit further weed growth.

Somehow I’ve got to figure out how to harvest the rye grain. It’s not like I can use a regular harvester like they use on wheat and rye because there is only five acres and I’ll only be able to harvest a portion of that. I need to go online and research that. Perhaps I can build something. There was a mention of making one out of a lawnmower I saw somewhere. I like these challenges. I would be pretty bored without them and it is these things that make life interesting and perhaps even fun.

This is where my offices for two of my companies, Westbrook Marketing and Corporate Liquidation, were.

As we were leaving church Wally asked how we were doing. That launched me as I am prone to do when sharp. I talked about building this farm and how I was trying to get a tractor. I don’t think he could get a word in edgewise as I ran down my plans and ambitions. I can’t help it as I am passionate about achieving this goal, about building not just the farm but the life that goes with it. I am motivated by many aspects of this. I want to stand on my own two feet. I don’t want the stigma, that I suspect some have, of being on disability and perhaps of using or abusing that.
The remains of what had one time been my 8,000 square foot woodshop in my warehouse. It was pretty much picked through while I was in a coma and for the year it took me to get back to Toledo. I had sold most of the equipment before the accident

I want to take back the destruction the drugs and alcohol caused when I demolished everything I had accomplished at one time. That was a lot. There were three companies that had employed a total of 127 people during one year that I had started from scratch. A reputation, something you can’t put a price on or buy, of being an astute businessman with integrity. The nice house in Michigan and second marriage I don’t really care about, only the two sons I raised and there I have great sorrow. I also destroyed the thin window of opportunity I had to restore a relationship with my father, a relationship I never really had my entire life. Perhaps if I do something with this place he will talk to me. Just once would be nice.

I love this tree. It is the lone survivor of the trees that had one time made up my grandmother's orchard. I've been taking pictures of it for over a year now in all sorts of conditions. One of these days I'll put together an album of just this tree

I am slowing down now. Tired as I usually am in the middle of the day and have the ringing ears dizzy feel that is often a precursor to a partial seizure. It was a good run though. Been up and sharp since four this morning so that makes twelve hours as it is 3:50 now. I will post and lay down.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Snow gone but coming back

11/24/07 Saturday
It was pretty painful to sit up and get out of bed this morning. Residuals from cooking chili yesterday I suppose. But the arthritis in my finger joints was making itself known last night in an unmistakable way. So perhaps it is all the weather rolling through that is aggravating this. When I think about it I’m sure it is a combination of work and weather causing this increase in pain. The finger joints are swollen and hurting this morning also. I took one of the pills I avoid as much as I can. There is always much to do so I don’t want to be slowed down.

All the snow is gone now. It pretty much melted away yesterday. The puppies stay a muddy mess so are relegated to the kitchen living room area when we bring them in, at least till the dry off. The white parts of their fur has become that West Texas shade of red from the dirt. They need a bath but I don’t think it will happen anytime soon. Maybe when it warms up and dries out I’ll fill up their pool and get out the hose. There is another storm front coming through today. It promises to bring another batch of snow but the temperatures will hover just at the freezing point, going below at night. I am really curious to see how the rye does with this. There is still fifty pounds of seed left that I will have to use after I see what if anything comes up. There were some patches of rye growing from the first areas I planted. I suspect that will be the most effected by the freeze. I’ll let you know.

We have made quite a dent in our firewood keeping the house warm these last few days. Maybe weeks, that’s the kind of thing that gets real hazy because of my memory issues. I just know we have used a lot of wood because the pile is way down. There is plenty more wood. The pile by the trailer is mostly the mystery wood I got permission to cut down the road. When I was visiting Don and Cynthia the asked what kind it was. “It’s not Elm is it?” Cynthia asked. I didn’t know but they have an elm tree in their back yard so I went out to look at the leaves. Yep, it’s elm. Cynthia told me that elm smells nasty when burned. I haven’t smelled anything bad in the house but that is good news because if you can smell the wood burning it means the woodstove is leaking fumes into the house. I did notice a less than pleasant smell outside so now understand where it came from. Elm isn’t the best burning wood. It burns quick and leaves lots of ash but it burns and makes heat so works for me. I just have to feed the fire and clean out the stove more often. We are grateful Amy for this woodstove you got us. Thanks again.
I'm sure Bud (in the pick up) thought I was crazy out there in my sweatpants, slippers, and no shirt taking this picture. I'm sure that by now they are sure I'm a few pints shy of a gallon

Right now we are preparing to go into Midland where we will return the wallet and slippers along with a pair of jeans that still have the tags on them Steve and Janie gave us. Nope, I just looked in the bag and there is a receipt so they are jeans we bought that were the wrong size. That probably means I bought them cause I can never remember what size I wear and usually have Cherie write it on a piece of paper when I go to the store. Cherie is almost done putting her face on so I best get dressed and ready to go. Heaven forbid she is ready before me. That just doesn’t happen. Uhmm…well…Ok it happens but not if I can help it. Got ta go.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Not as bad as I thought

11/23/07 Friday
I’m not doing as bad as I expected regarding this body. It was a pain pill morning and I am shuffling around as I walk due to muscle weakness but there were no leg cramps last night. That used to be a regular occurrence in the first years after the coma but has subsided for the most part. It’s a good indication that my physical condition has greatly improved over the last six years. It was a bit disheartening to see the picture Cherie took of me yesterday pushing the wheelbarrow. Boy, that gut sure is there. Nothing like a picture to bring it out. All the mirrors in this house show above the waist so…out of sight out of mind. I can see how the baldness is spreading like a disease on the top of my head through pictures too. I really don’t care about being bald anyway but not being able to see the back of my head it is a surprise to see how much is gone.

So I’m not sure what I will do today. Mostly inside work I suppose though I do want to tackle the engine rebuild on the tiller soon now that the rings have come in. I did some cylinder honing with the hone we picked up at Sears a week or four ago but it will take a lot more to get the cylinder ready. The sand and years did a lot of wear on it. I am pretty tired right now. The eyes want to close as I write so I will probably take a short nap. It is pretty early for that only being 8:30. I usually go till two in the afternoon before the fatigue catches up but I put in a hard two days of work so I suppose that’s to be expected. It is always frustrating not to be able to keep up anything close to the pace I worked at before the accident. But I think I do pretty good all things considered. Sitting in this chair is murder on the back this morning so I will probably take this laptop to the bed where I will set up the pillows to lay back on as I type as I often do. Actually I pretty much do that all the time.

Cherie has gone shopping. She wasn’t at all interested in getting up at four in the morning to catch the sales. That surprised me cause she is good at getting the deals but the weather wasn’t encouraging. Fact is she isn’t getting any younger either so doesn’t keep her former pace just the same as I. That’s the natural course of things.
2:54 – Cherie is back from shopping. She got lots of fantastic deals as I knew she would. The slippers and wallet she bought for me will need to be returned. I’ll need to be there when she buys a wallet because I suppose I’m a little picky. Not really, I just want something that will last and most of the stuff out there is rinky dink and wont last a year. Not in my back pocket.

While she was gone I finished making the chili I started a bit ago. What gets me is that standing at the kitchen counter cooking is much harder on me than all the work I did planting the rye seed. There is just something about doing things at a countertop height that produces killer pain in my back. What a paradox. Hard labor that has me sweating and breathing hard is easier than chopping peppers and stirring a pot.

Our tomato plants are done for with the freeze. There were about a dozen peppers left so I went and picked them for the chili. One was a cayenne and the rest were habaneras. Knowing how hot they are I decided to divide up the batch of chili, making one very mild and the other not mild at all. I was surprised when I tasted them a minute ago that the one with the peppers wasn’t all that hot. Guess I’ll have to add some more. Nah, I’ll leave it the way it is. It is hard for me to really judge this stuff because my sense of taste and smell are drastically reduced from the brain damage. Strangely enough that comes and goes so that sometimes I can detect every minor nuance. The rest of the time it’s just not there. Cherie bought some Irish crème coffee creamer because she knows I like it. We also have the French vanilla flavor. I never noticed it till I looked in the fridge and saw the label on the Irish crème despite drinking coffee every morning. So yesterday I took a sip and told Cherie “This Irish crème tastes really good”. She cracked up laughing but sympathetically touched my shoulder and told me it was the French vanilla because she knows this is a problem I have.

She is so good at understanding these things. Yesterday or the day before I told her that I emailed Jen and Wally and she laughed and laughed. The reason is that I had read the email they sent out that talked about being in the city of Columbo in South America. I emailed back saying that I didn’t know they were in Columbo but hoped they were ok and would be praying for them. Cherie laughed because Jen and Wally weren’t the ones in Columbo. They had sent out the Email regarding a couple from our Sunday school class who was over there visiting a missionary couple the class helps out. It’s not unusual for me to get confused about things like this. I don’t know if I just don’t see what I’m reading or forget details like who what or when minutes after I read. But it’s good to laugh about it.

I went to the John Deere dealer here in Stanton to show them the ad that was in the Farm Bureau magazine and see if they could match the deal. I was surprised to see my cousin, Darryl, in an office working. Didn’t know he worked there. But I don’t really know much about him as it is. He pretty much has shunned us ever since we arrived. He said “Hi Bob” after I said hi to him and that was it. No greeting, no getting up to talk, just an obligatory “hi”. It bothers me but I suppose I shouldn’t let it.

I have to lay down. The back pain is up there from cooking and I started to slow down a few minutes ago. I can usually sense when one of these partial seizures is coming. Done for now folks so see ya next time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sure changes fast

It’s 11:48 in the afternoon now. Things can sure change fast out here. They forecasted the rain/snow to come this evening but it showed up at ten this morning. Huge snowflakes, I love it and I love the snow. Right now it looks like three inches of snow has fallen and it’s still coming down.

This is the first snow the puppies have seen and they love it. Rascal kept trying to catch and eat the large snow flakes drifting down. It was hysterical to watch. They ran and played and never wanted to come in but when they did they were soaking wet. Naturally they immediately jumped on the bed. That got an immediate “GET DOWN” response each time. Now that they have experienced getting on the bed it’s what they go for.

I'm hauling one of the fifty pound bags of seed out to where it's getting put down

9:46 – I’m pretty worn out. Spent several hours out in the snow putting most of what’s left of the rye seed down. I thought there was a hundred and fifty pounds left but there was two hundred. I got one fifty planted but gave up on the last fifty. Just ran out of...whatever. The cold didn’t bother me at all. I just stretched till I needed to come in and rest and that was all for the day.

I'm sure the farmers and everyone else driving by think this "Yankee" is nuts. "What's he doing out in the snow?"

Cherie fixed a great Thanksgiving dinner with the ham Janie gave us. We had pecan pie with cool whip to finish it off. Then I went to bed after asking Cherie to get me up at 9:00. My leg muscles are pretty weak right now. I suppose I should expect that after the workout they’ve had over the last two days. I didn’t rake in the seeds this time. It didn’t make much sense to do with three inches of snow on the ground but mostly because my legs are still suffering from yesterday. There is still fifty pounds of seed left but it will have to sit because I’m done for a while.

I know how to dress for this stuff. The quilted flannel shirt is so warm I had to take the windbreaker off as I was sweating to much. The fancy dust mask I got at Harbor Freight did a great job of keeping my nose warm.

Cherie is going shopping tomorrow and I’m not. Black Friday is the kind of insane commotion I can’t handle so staying home is the best bet. Besides I think I can use a more relaxed day and suspect the pain level will be high anyway. It’s up there now as it is.

The view of the house from the far corner of the five acre plot I'm working

Goodnight all. Hope your Thanksgiving was a great one. Thanks for caring and keeping up with us. That's one of the things we are thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving

11/22/07 Thursday
Happy Thanksgiving. It is 1:52 in the morning right now. The temp is to go down to about 30 degrees tonight and stay in the thirties all day long so I got up to put more wood on the fire after Carman Kitty woke me. So I figured that while I was up I would finish yesterday’s post. Last night I was just too tired to do it. I worked on planting rye seed from 1:00 to sundown at 5:40.

First I pull the broadcast fertilizer/seeder till it’s gone through fifty pounds of seed. Then I drag this rake with the twenty pound bag of dirt on top over the area I just seeded. That covers a lot of the seeds with dirt. Hopefully that keeps the birds from eating them all. Plus they germinate better when covered with dirt.

It’s a lot of exercise. Unfortunately I discovered that the tiller I paid five hundred dollars to rent didn’t do a good job. When the guy came out to fix it the second time he replaced the PTO shaft which has a clutch on it. Seems that the old one was slipping. This left areas where the surface grass was disturbed making it look tilled but that was only maybe three inches down, not the full foot it should have been. There are still lots of bunches of grass still rooted. However on the areas the tiller worked properly it was like walking through the sand on a beach only harder because I’m dragging a four foot wide rake with twenty pounds on top of it that is digging in. I could go about two hundred feet before I had to stop and catch my breath and rest.

The puppies were something else. They would walk right along with me and when I stopped to rest would go play, running at full speed chasing and tackling each other. Then as soon as I got up and started trudging down the row they would stop playing and come walk beside me again. It’s kind of touching, at least for me.

I was able to lay down one hundred and fifty pounds yesterday. I still have another hundred and fifty to go. It only looks like I’ve seeded half of the five acres we have. That makes two and a half acres in two weeks. (we got the seed November 10) All five acres could have all been done in one day with a tractor but I’m only halfway there. On the bright side I’m getting lots of good exercise. You know, people pay good money to get this kind of workout in a gym and I can do it for free. It does bring the pain level up but that’s ok cause the pain is always there anyway.

So Amy left a comment on Tuesday’s post with a link to a news story about a lady who makes over $40,000 selling tumbleweeds. I just had to dig up these pictures of tumbleweeds we’ve gotten rid of. At twenty five dollars a weed I figure this pile must have been worth nearly a grand. And it’s just a drop in the bucket. Even if I had the customers I couldn’t grow tumbleweeds on this farm. It’s a violation of the CRP contract for one thing but more significant is tumbleweeds are a bane to farmers. They compete with the cotton and mess up their machinery. Hell, they would probably pay me to remove them from their fields. They pay to take them out anyway.

I just went back in this journal to see what we did last year for thanksgiving. Wow. It doesn’t say anything about that day but Cherie tells me we painted one of the rooms and had Subway sandwiches for our thanksgiving dinner. (am I supposed to capitalize “Thanksgiving”?) Just going back and reading was something. As I state in the header at the top, this journal serves as my memory. Last November was when we first moved here. We had stayed at a hotel for just a few days before moving into the house. Virginia was still talking to us, we discovered there would be no gas for heat or cooking, and lots of other stuff. Another great picture of a sunset as well.

So this Thanksgiving will be another quiet one. That’s pretty much what we prefer, at least for now. Holidays in general aren’t times of good memories for either of us. Chuck and Lillian invited us over for dinner but we didn’t take them up on that. Janie gave us a HUGE ham so that’s what we will have. Sounds better than turkey to me right now anyway. Cooking a turkey is too much work for just the two of us. Besides all that I still have a hundred and fifty pounds of seed to put down and the rain/snow is coming tomorrow evening so I’m under the gun there. I’ll just take the pain pills like I’m supposed to and that will help me keep going. I don’t like them but they sure do help.

So it’s 3:20 now. I probably should get back to bed so will post this and try to get some sleep.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Early start

11/21/07 Wednesday
Good morning Y’all. I’m off to a good start and so is Cherie. Woke up at 5:30 and was out the door at 7:15, mostly at the puppy’s insistence. We don’t usually let them out of their room till it is light enough for them to go outside. By then they have been whining to get out for over an hour and when released their exuberance at being free is expressed by running throughout the house and jumping on us and the bed. That they have recently discovered they are big enough to do. Once discovered it has become a destination for them. First thing we do in the morning is pull the bedspread up to protect the sheets. We try to only allow them up by invitation but you know how that works. We are suckers for those big eyes and generally softies when it comes to our babies.

It was one of those sunsets yesterday where one picture wouldn’t do. One of these days I’ll get a better camera that I can use different lenses on. There is a lens that can capture a panoramic view showing much more of the horizon. Sure wish I had that yesterday. Sunsets evolve as the sun keeps dropping below the horizon and out here in the big West Texas sky it can make for some dramatic visuals. So here are several pictures.

After taking the morning walk with the dogs I got to work wrapping the air conditioner for winter and the cold snap that is coming tomorrow. You know duct tape is a farmer’s best friend and I used almost a whole roll on this job. It’s tape designed to be used outside so should hold up well to the sun. It better at seven bucks a roll. But it sure doesn’t want to stick well when it’s forty degrees out. I cut a piece of plastic that something had come wrapped in, think I got it at the landfill, and wrapped it around the unit first. Then I took the roll of saran wrap that Cherie got at Sam’s Club and wrapped that all around the air conditioner about a dozen times. To hold it all down I gave it a good dose of duct tape. Later I’m going to caulk where it fits in the window. I should have done this when Jib and Jab installed it this summer but never got to it as is often the case with me.

Yesterday I went to the well to get that all wrapped in insulation. Some animal has dug under the pressure tank and excavated so much I’m afraid the soil will collapse and the tank will fall in. I filled it with rocks, dirt, and some of the bits and pieces left over the years of things being replaced on the well. I need to make it a point to keep checking on it. Then a pack rat made a home under the barrel top I had covering the pressure valve. The sucker filled it with cotton from Bud’s field next door. This isn’t good and they have a reputation for chewing on wires. That could cause some big problems. I hate using poison because it will kill any hawks that might eat the dead rat. Perhaps I can find a better trap. The regular rat trap wasn’t enough to take care of the rat in our garage and there is another one in the old henhouse. It hasn’t even bothered the trap I put in there.

Today I will put as much of the rye seed down as I can. I figure that with the snow or rain that’s supposed to be here with the cold front it would be a good time. I am pretty sure that a freeze won’t hurt ungerminated seed as most seed freezes in natural environments anyway. I’m gambling that we will have a period of above freezing temperatures long enough for the rye to get established and then hope it will survive. In total I am putting out four hundred and fifty pounds of seed. Sure wish I could have done it sooner.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Time to winterize

11/20/07 Tuesday
Well, today will be a day of winterization. I had already intended to wrap the evaporative air conditioner and even talked about it in this journal but, like many other things, it never got done. So Cherie reminded me this morning and put it down on the scheduler that is vital for me to get anything done. I’ve got lots of plastic laying around so should be able to find pieces big enough to cover it.

So I took the dogs for the morning walk they have become used to and beg for every morning. Getting to the halfway point, where I usually turn around and head back, I looked up to where the well is. Then I suddenly realized that the insulation we had wrapped it with last year to prevent it from freezing was no longer there because we had to replace the entire unit when it had been shot out by the neighbors. This had totally escaped my mind as so much does. It’s a good thing I noticed this as a hard freeze is coming Thursday that will last at least three days maybe four. This potentially could destroy the pipes and the tank that keeps pressure even or something. We will run to Lowe’s and buy some insulation. Fortunately we have a thirty dollar credit from some countertop parts we were able to return. We’re back to being tight on the finances again. The CRP check is long gone and we didn’t even get the new glasses both of us need.

Speaking of that, Beene Tractor just called about the credit application we submitted for the cheaper tractor. It had been unequivocally denied. That is not a big surprise. They said that if we had a cosigner they would have to have strong credit. As with most things it is a struggle to push forward. I don’t give up but it is hard not to get discouraged. I’ll just focus on the things that need to be done around here and do the best I can with what I have as always. Building a farm from scratch on a disability check is an obvious challenge but I’ll do it, probably with the help of others, but one way or another something will happen.

Here are some pictures of life on this farm. Every day we kill twenty or thirty wasps in the house. Sometimes more. I haven’t been able to find where they are coming from but they keep coming. This house is so full of holes we may never get it sealed up. So I swatted this wasp and it fell into the waste basket. Evidently spiders had built a web on it overnight because these came out of the behind our files to take on this wasp. They all lost to my fly swatter. Hopefully the winter freeze coming will reduce the wasp problem. Spiders are constant no matter what we do. They congregate behind furniture were we can’t reach them. I think we will probably fog the house come spring to reduce them for at least a few weeks or months.

The other day I noticed two little apples on our trees. That was a surprise but nice to see. Mostly I didn’t encourage apple growth this first year because I read that they can take a lot of energy out of a tree and I wanted them to get established this first year. Especially because they were just about dead when I got them from Ace hardware. The nine trees seem to be doing quite well all things considered. It’s a shame I didn’t have the funds to pick up the other twenty five trees Ace was getting rid of for four bucks each. But this is the start of our apple orchard. Just a few steps at a time we will get there. After visiting Apple Country Orchards I have a goal of five thousand trees on twenty of the seventy five acres we have. Then we want to have peaches, apricots, pears, and a little of anything else that will produce fruit in this part of the country.

Some of the Rye grain I’ve planted is coming up now. It’s just in time for the big freeze. Now I’ve read this is “winter hardy” and it is indeed called a winter cover crop so I will be fascinated to see how it will do. Honestly I really don’t know what I am doing but am trying the best I can. It would be nice to develop a relationship with some or a farmer who could advise me. But developing relationships is something I am not good at and have never been good at. That is part of the Asberger’s syndrome I’ve had since childhood and exacerbated by the multiple brain injuries. Social skills are the areas most hit by both of those ailments. Add to that mix is my background that gives me little to relate with the average person. So the Rye is just another part of my ongoing education in farming.

I just called Wayne in Ohio. He tells me that the lawyer at the Zeph Center said that my ideal of his sending his money here as a loan to prevent Social Security from reducing his check by one fourth amounts to money laundering. That is nuts but I suppose legally true. It’s a crying shame and what a catch 22. They screwed around three years making me fight to get Wayne his disability, that there is no question he needs. Then when we finally won and he was coerced in only taking two years of what was owed him they are going to reduce what he will get monthly because the lump sum he received exceeds what Social Security says he is allowed to have in order to draw benefits. I wasn’t comfortable with it but suggested he give us a loan for real to buy a tractor with and thus it wouldn’t be money laundering. “We can pay it back in two years or so” I let him know. He’ll think about it but probably won’t. It’s really sad how the government is treating him and all the others like him. Medicaid just cut off his physical therapy along with denying him getting into the cheap medicine program.

One of the comments on yesterdays post suggested we set up a PayPal account for donations to help us get this farm going. That is an idea I think we will pursue.