Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hot and sweaty

The puppies went out and played in the wet rye.
I've posted three days so be sure to check them out. Blogger is giving me a hard time with pictures so hope these show up.

4/22/08 Tuesday
Set the alarm to get up before the sun did. We couldn’t watch the weather forecast yesterday as there has been some kind of interference messing up our tv so the only channels that would come in were GLC, which we like anyway, and fox, but even that was shaky. It’s probably some piece of oil field equipment nearby. We’ve had the problem before where it was a regular cycle taking out the picture and sound every ten seconds or so. This time there was just nothing but snow and static.

Anyway the picture came in this morning though it was still fuzzy so we could see the weather report. There is 97% humidity and a chance for thunder storms later. Unfortunately there will be ninety degree temperatures along with the high humidity so that will be pretty rough. Dry heat is one thing but nothing compared to this swamp like atmosphere.

The next three days however show a good chance for rain. That means there is a rush to get as many seeds in the ground as possible. I worked till ten thirty last night but the moon didn’t come out till late so it was too dark to see well. So I got the flashlight out and held it in one hand as I operated the tiller with the other. Got half of the black eye peas planted. I’m working on the rest this morning and will keep going till it’s just too much for me to handle. Then I’ll run to Janie’s to do the poop scooping and go online.

In addition to that I may pick up some carpet that one of our friends, Jeannie (? Not sure if I have the name right but that’s not unusual for me) called me about yesterday. They are remodeling and the carpet in that room is being replaced or the floor tiled or something so she thought to offer it to us before donating it or throwing it away. As long as it’s not white we could sure use it but there is so much dirt out here, plus the dogs and I both tracking it in, (even without us the wind blows it in) that it would be ruined.

Speaking of Jeannie I thought I should mention this. Her husband, Jay, and son, Mike, have been a tremendous help to us. Jay helped pay for the replacement chimney, arranged for the replacement window where there was a big hole rotted clear through the wall, gave us some fencing he was replacing, (other’s leftovers are quite a blessing for us) and just bought us one of those Amish electric fireplaces that have been advertised so much lately. On top of that Mike is working to create a golf tournament to raise funds to help us get a tractor and other needed things for this farm we are building. And most valuable of all is friendship, the one thing we seek the most and couldn’t seem to find in Stanton. May God bless those who have blessed us. May he open the eyes of the rest.

So time’s a wasting. I need to get back outside while it is still cool and get as much done as possible.
It’s after one now. I’m having a rough slowdown. Had a real hard time deciding what to plant. This is one of those times the brain injury lets itself be known. I got the box we keep our seeds in and began looking through them to see what I would plant next. All the choices, the instructions on how to plant, when to plant, was too much for me to sort out. This is frustrating. To think I once ran two companies at the same time, juggling all kinds of things at once. Now deciding what to plant is hard. I called Cherie. We will get together and make a schedule for me, something clear and simple that says what to plant where.

Worked late

The full moon

4/21/08 Monday
I worked till 12:30 last night. Had planned on planting seed under the full moon but decided not to. The light of the moon wasn’t quite enough to clearly see what I was doing but one of my big concerns was rattlesnakes. My understanding is that they are out hunting more at night and with the rye grain being high and poor light I could easily step on one.

So I mostly worked on running the water line (garden hose) back to the air conditioner. As you can see I’m encasing it in pvc pipe for protection. At some future point I plan to install regular pipe but for now this is a good quick answer.

After digging the trench to a point the area was no longer lit by our porch light I went in the garage and started working on the greenhouse. It went better than I thought though I will have to take some of it apart in order to continue. Things have to be put together in the proper sequence in order to complete the job. I’m getting to the hard part now.

I’ll work on that later today providing I’m doing well. I’m in the part of my cycle where I have few seizures and generally have a high cognizance. Getting lots more done now than at other times.

The important thing that needs to be done is getting seed in the ground. We set the alarm so I can get on that early before the temperatures climb into the nineties. That kind of heat really drains me. I watered the area we plan to put black eye peas in along with a few other areas nearby. First task is to start trucking out wheelbarrows of compost to spread along the rows along with fertilizer and the soil amendments Matt gave me. I’ll be sparing on the compost for the black eye peas because the seem to be hardy and grow well in this soil. That will give me more to use on other types of plants that need more help. I just don’t have enough compost for every area I plan to use. Next year should be better.

After I till all that in I will plant the seeds using Matt’s seeder. Then I will spread mulch over the rows. This will be made by mowing some more of the rye down and capturing it with the grass catcher on the mower. Growing the rye is a great way to help this garden. First it brings up nutrients from deep in the soil which becomes part of the compost made from mowing the young rye plants. I noticed the older rye doesn’t compost well at all. The rye serves to help control weeds though it doesn’t do well against the tumbleweeds. It also works as a windbreak. I bought fifty pounds of Sudan seed the other day because it will make a better windbreak being heavier with thicker stalks. This I will plant on the top edge of the rows peppers and other of the more delicate plants will be. Geese! It almost sounds like I know what I’m doing.

So it’s going to be another busy day, which I like anyway. Love to work and I’m really behind as it is. Had to take a pain pill this morning, which is no surprise. It will be a pain pill day to enable me to keep up a good pace. As much as I hate them they do the job. Today I need to call about renewing the prescription. They will probably require me to go in to see the doctor.
1:50 – Boy the heat sure does get me. It was January or February that I was out in the snow sowing the rye seed. I can handle that and even enjoy it but this heat sure hits me hard, just sucks the energy right out. Cherie noticed and said I needed to come in and rest a few hours. I told her “no, I’ve got things to do” and kept on trucking but it wasn’t long before I had to agree. Besides that I’m having a minor slowdown anyway so wasn’t moving too fast as it was. Spending lots of time trying to figure out what I was doing or about to do. But we have gotten things done.

Cherie spent much of the morning watering what we have in the ground. She did it despite the back pain that has returned. Friday she had to see the chiropractor that Janie so graciously set her up with so there is no charge for us. Between that and the new mattress the ladies from our Sunday school bought when the learned of how much pain she was having, partly from sleeping on the thirty year old mattress that was in this house when we moved in. We have been wondrously blessed by these compassionate people who live their faith, not just talk about it. It has done much to restore my faith in the God of my youth after many bitter disappointments at the hands of others wearing the “Christian” label on their lapels. God will deal with their hard hearts.

Anyway, we are blessed but my point is that Cherie is a trooper and a tremendous help, enduring much as we work together to create this farm, home, and our future. But in the meantime I must take a break to cool off and rehydrate. I sure enjoyed working last night after the sun went down and everything cooled off. Got a lot done. I’ll probably take a nap as I often must around this time of day anyway. See ya.

4/20/08 Sunday
It’s 4:40 in the morning. I’ve been wide awake since three. I suppose this is a good time to catch up on the journal. We went to Matt’s farmer’s market yesterday. I don’t remember if I mentioned him visiting us earlier this week so will mention it now. Matt visited us earlier this week. Cherie had found his number and he had sent out an email regarding the market so I gave him a call. When he came I gave him the grand tour of everything I’ve been working on. He asked about my needs so brought some stuff to the farmer’s market. The biggest help will be the seeder he’s letting me borrow. Sitting on the ground and putting seeds in the earth is painful for me, hurts more than lifting something heavy. Matt also gave me some soil amendment stuff to fix up my dirt. That plus advice on how to do stuff will be a big help as well.

Here at the farm things are slowly progressing. By the time we got home we both were drained so didn’t get much more done. On the way home Janie called. She was at the Bad Boy Blast (A big fund raiser for the local police agencies) and the battery for her camera had run down. She asked if we could get her other one and bring it out. No problem, just a U-turn across the interstate median and head back to Midland. We were glad to be able to help.

This was the second day for the Blast and boy was it crowded. There were more than a thousand that showed up the first day and I suspect even more were there on this Saturday. For those of you not from the area the fund raiser is a skeet shooting event at Windwalker, which is maybe five miles away from our place. In fact we can hear the shotguns going off. There was tons of food and stuff but we were tired and neither of us do good with a lot of commotion and activity, especially me, so we didn’t stay.

I cleared out space in the garage and started working on the greenhouse. That is not going to be fun. Spent some time sorting the different pieces out, trying to figure what goes where. It’s a confusing array of parts. I gave up after a bit and came in. Cherie and I had scheduled working on the living room but we were both tired so nothing got done. Maybe today we will get to it.

It’s five now. Cherie stirred a little and the dogs came in to check on us but she’s back to deep sleep judging from her breathing. I sure wish I could go online at times like this, get some stuff done. Maybe later that can happen.

Go figure, I’m feeling tired now. We will be getting up to get ready for church in an hour or two anyway but I’ll try to snooze a little.
3:50 – It’s a hot hot day. Going to get into the nineties over the next few. This is spurring me to get the water line run to the evaporative air conditioner. I had wanted to run one from the hot water heater under the house out to it but couldn’t figure out how to tap into the water line. I know there is a way but would get confused looking at all the stuff in the plumbing section of the stores. Last year we just used a garden hose and that’s what we will do this year. I just want to bury it in order to protect the hose because it crosses the driveway and the well traveled path between the house and the garage. The hose Wally and Jen gave us will work perfectly as it is long enough to make the journey. It’s an old used one they had stored away and had a leak or two in it but that’s what I had asked for knowing I can easily repair them. But it’s a hot job digging a trench.

I found another well cover while digging the trench. It’s only four or five feet away from the other one. Every time I dig I find something. It’s too bad that my only relatives in the area choose not to talk to me. Ah yes…good Christian people showing the love of Jesus. (sarcasm intended) They could help me know the history of this place and understand what it is I find. But my expressing my thoughts about the mysterious unknown, and in some cases known, persons who stole what they wanted over the years evidently hit close to home. If you’re not guilty don’t act guilty.

Right now I came in for a break and something cold to drink. The dogs are smarter than I am as they are staying inside. Cherie is sick today. Her broken molar is once again infected and it has spread into her sinuses. She tells me the tooth has been broken and giving her problems since about the year 2000. It is unfortunate that dentists require payment up front or they won’t do the work. Otherwise we would have it fixed and make payments. Hopefully we can make enough money farming to cover it. There is so much that needs to be done. These are the kinds of things all poor people in this country endure and it is good in a way that we can experience these hardships. I know that sounds strange but having been homeless wandering lost in this realm opened my eyes to many things. I feel I am to help others see, to open eyes to the plight of those less fortunate and thus bring understanding and compassion. It is the heart of God. Jesus spent his time with those who were looked down on, who were sick, poor, and rejected. There are more references in the bible to the poor and downtrodden (837) than almost any other subject.

West Texas is hard on plant life. Of the four blueberry bushes only one is still making it. Two never came out and the leaves dried up on the other one. None of the raspberries show any life but two of the three blackberries have leaves on them. I saw evidence of more gopher activity out there today. They will be a constant challenge and battle. Destructive little creatures. Keeping things watered will be a tremendous challenge. As funds come available I will buy more soaker hoses and drip feed irrigation stuff. But I haven’t managed to install what I have as it is.

It’s time to get back out in the heat. At church today Dave or Ed (I always get them confused) asked if I was planting in the full moon. I thought about it yesterday night but was too tired. I think I will go out there tonight as that’s when the temperature is manageable. Also I’ll set the alarm to get out to work early before things heat up. I’m anxious to use the seeder Matt let me borrow. With that in mind I will prepare the rows where the black-eyed peas are to go, till in the compost, fertilizers, and soil amendment stuff Matt gave me. Hope the moon is out early. It looks like the sky will be clear but you never know around here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The week in pictures

4/15/08 Tuesday
It’s 1:00 now. I’ve been out working since eight this morning. Fact is I’ve been bustin my butt for days now. The new tiller is getting quite a workout along with my body. Things are finally beginning to take shape with this farm and it feels good to see some progress. Despite that I am under the gun to get seeds in the ground. Fact is most of this stuff should have been done by now and I should be caring for young plants. Actually the potatoes are coming up and looking good. They are my first plants for the season to come out.

I think that the first batch of seeds I’ll be putting in the ground are the sunflowers that we will be planting on the south edge of the farm. This is a ridge that runs along the dirt road that goes to our neighbor’s barns. Over the decades the wind has deposited enough dirt to raise it five feet above his field. I tilled up where we want to plant them. This is where we put seventy five of the Afghan pines for a wind break. It will look great we think. As you approach our house from the south (where the interstate is a mile and a half away) there will be a wall of yellow when the flowers are in bloom.

Each white stake you see holds up a pine. There are seventy five of them here

The Afghan pines are not all doing well. Gophers or some other little critters are scrapping the bark off at the bases and have killed three so far. Cherie wrapped cloth around them last week. Hope that helps. I haven’t had time to take the gopher poison and put it in all of the little holes that are showing up all over the place. For that matter I don’t have time to do so many things around here that need doing. If I had the money I would hire Tommy to help out when he’s free. Tommy is one of the two guys who stay with Chuck and Lillian. There’s a story there but I don’t think I’ll tell it now. He’s the kind of guy that makes a lot of people uncomfortable but he doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve been so many places and seen so many things that there is not much that bothers me. Fact is that Tommy is a good man with a well developed sense of integrity and the kind of person I can trust.
Cherie watering the strawberries. She's a farmer now. See what I did?

Anyway, I’m getting side tracked. The wind is blowing hard now, running at twenty miles per hour or so. Fortunately it’s not kicking up too much sand so I can still get some stuff done outside. If it gets worse I’m thinking I’ll clear out some space in the garage and see if I can put that greenhouse together where it will be protected from the wind. Once together it won’t be hard to carry out and put on the frame. I’ll have to run straps over it and stake them down or the wind will rip it off the ground out here.
I climbed on the roof to take pictures of what I'm doing. You can just make out the outlines of a couple of the plots I'm tilling.

I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard. Sunday I had a slowdown but I kept going despite of it. It started out as one of the mild ones but after two or three hours I got to where walking was a difficult task and I had to be careful not to fall down. By that time it was hard for me to formulate sentences so talking was a chore. I quit because it was time for dinner and I was done for anyway. Yesterday’s seizure was the kind that came on quick and after a two hour nap I was fine and going again.

There is a lot more I should write but there is too much to do. I came in at 11:00 to rest and fixed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before laying down. It’s 1:52 and I’m rested up now. So are the puppies. They came in with me and crashed out on the bed too.
3:12 – About an hour is all I can handle on that tiller at a time. If I could raise the handle eight inches it would help. As it is the tiller handles are below counter top level when I’m running at it’s full depth. Raising the handles won’t be easy. I’ll look at that later. Regardless the tiller is a Godsend. It’s got using a pitchfork beat all to pieces. I can just come in and lay down for fifteen minutes and the muscles in my back relax and the pain goes down. Besides I need to drink something every hour in this heat so it all works out.
4:40 – I’m in for another back break. I sure do miss being able to go online at times like this. For that matter I just miss being able to go online whenever I need to. Eventually we will get a satellite internet hookup that will solve all of this. Till then we just have to work with it. Cherie should be home in about a half hour. She took care of the poop scooping for me. That saves me the time and money of going to Midland but not going means I don’t go online. There is too much to do around here anyway. I guess I’ll take a pain pill. I’ve been real careful taking them but now that my doctors appointment was moved back nearly a month I must really stretch it out. That’s because he must renew the prescription before I can get anymore.

4/18/08 Friday
Don’t have time to write much. Here’s what I journaled since last Friday. And pictures which tell much and help me remember.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Catch up

Here's a video of the grain rye blowing in the wind yesterday (Thursday) It wasn't long after this it turned into a sand storm where you would have barely been able to see the house.

4/9/08 Wednesday
Not doing good this morning. Have a headache and when I went out to make some more tree stakes my hands were so weak I could barely cut the wire. It’s cold out and there is a chance we will have rain. It sprinkled for about ten seconds this morning but that’s it so far. I’ve been staying busy and not having too many slowdowns during the day. Still having a hard time figuring things out but I suppose I should get used to it. I borrowed Chuck’s trailer and with the help of Jamie went and got several rolls of fencing at the landfill. There was lots of lumber discarded from some construction site there so I got a truck load for use around this farm. Our Wi-Fi access in Stanton doesn’t seem to be working anymore. I forgot to take my laptop with me when I went to Midland yesterday so wasn’t able to post on the blog or check email. I’m not real motivated to write or do much in that arena. It’s probably depression. I get so tired of struggling.

I went to the Mennonites who own the house on the corner of our property and let them know I would now be willing to sell up to three acres to them. I had told him no when he asked last year. He wasn’t happy with the price but said he would get back to me. We talked about possibly doing a trade for a tractor. Right now I’m not real inclined to go that way. The only reason I am considering selling is to raise capital for this farm. I’d rather shop for my tractor than let someone else find it for me. Regardless we need cash to buy needed supplies and build a farm.
4/10/08 Thursday
Yesterday wasn’t a good day. I was depressed and frustrated and then was very angry. The depression stems from my inability to get things done. The anger was related to that and small things like hoses breaking after I spent a couple of hours fixing a sprinkler. Then I got something in the mail that really grated. I won’t talk about that here till we see our lawyer. I’ve been going back a few years in this journal to research some stuff related to what I got in the mail and that brings lots of memories of Toledo, the friends we left and the early days of Cherie and I renewing our relationship. Lots of emotion there.

Last night we had the first rain for the year. It was only a quarter inch or so but very welcome. There was some hail, about marble size for us though the weather had a report of tennis ball size hail. Hearing that I pulled the cars as close to the garage as I could get to provide some kind of protection.
making stakes by splitting wood I found at the landfill

Today there is a thirty mile per hour wind with sixty mph gusts. It’s too much for me to do much outside. Despite all the rain and everything being wet it’s blowing sand out there. I’m going to have to redo the stakes on some of the Afghan pines as the strings I used on the first ones aren’t working well in the wind. Unfortunately many will be damaged before it’s over.

The compost is finished. It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago it was all freshly mowed green stuff. Now I’ll start a fresh batch. With the rain the weeds will be springing up with a vengeance so as I mow and hoe them down they will go into the compost bin. Now that it has rained tilling will be much easier. There is lots of that to do. Cherie made a list of all the seeds we have to help me map out what will go where.
4/11/08 Friday
Can’t believe it’s Friday already. We went to see Patrick Duffy, our attorney, this morning. He could see how the math didn’t add up on the issue we are concerned about and agreed that we have a clear right for an accounting for it. I’ll explain this at some future point. I guess I’m finally learning a thing called prudence, or something like that. The biggest problem with this issue is simply a lack of communication.
Here is some of the fencing I recovered from the landfill. Still don't have stakes to hold it all up but will do it some way. You know I'm resourceful. It will go a long way in keeping rabbits and puppies out of the plants.

It will hopefully be a busy day. As long as I’m in good shape it will be for there is much to do. Today I plan on getting the tiller out but the first thing is to get those last thirty trees planted. I haven’t surveyed what the fifty five mph wind gust did to them yet.

Just got done poop scooping at S&J’s. Put ninety one dollars in the gas tank. The truck is making a ticking noise now and not running as smooth as it used to. It’s not really bad, just something I notice. The miles per gallon seem to be ok but I will have to check with the next fill up. It’s got 170,000 plus miles on it so I need to start babying it. I drive it pretty easy most of the time just to save on gas but still get in a hurry sometimes.

There is lots of other things that I am sure have gone on but I don’t keep up with this journal as well now that I can’t get online unless I come to Midland. We had Alltel turn off the phone line we had for the PC card. No sense in paying for something that doesn’t work. Cherie did the math and if we kept the line it would cost us $480 till the contract was up so it’s cheaper to incur the two hundred dollar disconnect fee. Plus how quickly I wear out when I am working outside doesn’t help me keep up with the journal. I come in and lay down to relieve the pain and often snooze. It’s a frustrating thing to feel old at 51 on top of a beaten up body. I just want to run and can’t. I keep trying though. But I’m doing much better today than I was two days ago. It feels good to be positive about things again. These bouts of depression don’t last long but can be intense.

There is much to do so I must post this, check my emails, and get moving. There is lots of other things I need or would like to do online but can’t afford to waste any of this “prime time” when my brain is working and the weather is cooperating.

Friday, April 04, 2008

4/4/08 Friday
Yesterday was a day of accomplishment and disappointment. So far I have planted sixty of the ninety afghan pines. I looked at the strawberry plants that are on the north side. Out of seventy plants there are only about seven that still have leaves. Some of them show signs of bugs eating them. What a bitter disappointment. I don’t know if bugs got them all or a rabbit or something but whatever it was hit them hard. I’m almost afraid to go out and look this morning. The strawberries we planted where the old melon patch was are doing much better. I folded some of the wire fencing recovered from the landfill to provide some protection from rabbits and such. Bugs are a different matter. As much as I want to go organic it is vital that we make sellable crops this year so I may have to use pesticides. Right now we are building a farm with toothpicks when we need logs. The tiller however is a big boost. Any income we bring in can be used to get things that will help us do better next year. And doing better next year will improve the year after that. Little by little we will do this. On top of getting the material building blocks (so to speak) each year adds to our experience and knowledge of how to do things. Unfortunately I am learning again much of what I learned last year because I forget so much. I read what I downloaded last year regarding growing corn and it was all brand new to me. Eventually it will stay.

I was surprised this morning that I didn’t need a pain pill, especially after how hard I worked yesterday and how sore I was when I went to bed. Cherie and I were out watering and working till way after dark. I separated cloves of garlic till after ten. Unfortunately it is all in pretty sad shape. There are fifty or sixty heads of garlic that Matt gave us some time back. They sat in the box out of sight and out of mind. I was disheartened to learn that they should be planted in the fall. Now the ones that sprouted are all shriveled up. I think I’ll run them through the blender and put the past around plants to see if it wards off bugs. Perhaps I’ll see if I can produce a liquid I can spray on them and see how that works.

While I didn’t need a pain pill I unfortunately have one of those killer headaches that come by every now and then. Laid down with the blanket (we don’t have drapes yet) closed over the window to reduce the light. I did that till the alarm sounded to let me know it was time to move the water sprinklers. I’m running them again to help the rye as much as I can. Didn’t run them when I was focused on planting the trees. Just couldn’t do two things at once.

I’m fixing to head into Midland headache or not. I’ll stop by Walmart first to check on some Azalea mulch they have on clearance at sixty cents a bag. It’s high in acid so will be good for a lot of what we want to grow. The peat moss is all gone. I checked on that yesterday and was disappointed to see that. They told me that if it didn’t get sold it would be thrown out. What a crime that is. If it didn’t cost me eight bucks in gas to make the forty mile round trip I would have gone up every day to hopefully get a deal on it before they tossed it in the dumpster. We are spending $250 a month on gas as it is. That’s a big chunk out of a nine hundred dollar monthly disability check.

After Walfart I’ll hit Janie’s to poop scoop and go online.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

4/2/08 Wednesday
Looking back I see the last entry was Friday. Nuts. I’ll look at the pictures I took to see if they help me remember what I did. This morning was a pain pill morning because of how hard I worked yesterday. It’s not really how hard I work but what part of my body I’m straining that aggravates the pain. I know I spent three or four days planting the first thirty of the Afghan pines we got for windbreaks. Yesterday I dug thirty more holes for the next batch. With those planted there will only be thirty left to go. They desperately need to get in the ground now as they are still in the box we got them in from the forestry service.

The way I’ve been planting them is I first use the post hole digger to make a little three of four inch hole, which I then fill with water. This softens the rock hard dirt and makes it much easier to dig farther. After it soaks in I use the shovel to make a basin that is about two foot across and dig a hole with the post hole digger a foot or more deep. After that I mix up a batch of dirt in the wheelbarrow. The wheel barrow is really suffering from all the work it’s done over the last year and a half. Cracks are showing up in the metal at stress points.

The dirt consists of compost I made last year (didn’t do it right but it’s better than sand) mixed with peat moss and some stuff called “landscaper’s mix” I picked up with the broke bag haul from Lowe’s. What a shame that is no longer is available. Not sure what it’s for but it contains lots of organic material and some perlite. That’s all gone now, used it up on the first thirty trees. I did get a good deal on sphagnum peat moss but I can’t tell you where. So I bought eleven bags of it. It won’t last long. Walmart has some on clearance for three bucks a bag which is great compared to the eight bucks I’ve seen elsewhere. Money is going to be real tight this month so I’ll have to be careful about what I spend. Maybe we’ll make enough from this garden to help us do things right next year. Anyway, I mix all that up and throw in some bone meal (Phosphorus that helps in root development) and some sulfur. The sulfur helps acidify the ph because afghan pines prefer an acid soil. I stir this mix in with the dirt I dug out for the trees and plant them.

I had planned on making a protective cage for them with fence slates but that won’t work out right now. Mostly that’s because of the time it will take me versus the need to get the trees in the ground. Perhaps I’ll find time to make them later. In the meantime I am staking the trees up to keep the wind from destroying them. I had purchased some of that plastic orange fencing you see at construction sites last week because it’s as cheap as I can find except in mail order catalogs. Along with it I got ten plastic stakes to hold it up at a dollar nine cents each. They were four foot tall. Needing stakes for the trees I decided to use them. You know, I use whatever I can find. I cut them in two because two feet was just high enough for the Afghans. But fifty cents times ninety trees is forty five bucks or so. That’s a lot of change to come out of our meager resources. Looking around I saw the stakes I had found at the landfill. I plan on using them in this garden for trellises and such but…there’s another need. By cutting them in half and then splitting each half I have good two foot stakes to use on the trees. Every penny saved can be a dollar earned you know.

I got a call yesterday from Steve. He’s the vice president for the Food for Everyone (or something like that) foundation. It’s connected to a yahoo group I joined that promotes the Metlieder growing system. He heard about me when I asked a question in the group. The foundation is starting something to help veterans so he wanted to see what he can do for me. Steve is going to email me some information on it today. I didn’t make it to Midland yesterday so consequently wasn’t able to go online. The PC card was able to connect to my surprise but it was the same old story. The signal strength was bouncing from good to not there at all. We discovered that there is a Wi-Fi hookup accessible where we get our water jugs filled in Stanton so I’ll go there to get online. Sorry I didn’t make it in Don. I really wanted to get you out and about yesterday, know it would be a blessing.

So what else? Let me look at the pictures to see if it brings anything to mind.

Ok, there are two things. While dumping dirt out of the old Styrofoam planter Janie didn’t want anymore I found some worms. Now I’ve been wanting to start up a vermiculture thing for a while to create the worm castings that are so good for gardens and what I needed was the worms. Now I am motivated. I took an plastic drum recovered from the landfill and cut it in half. After drilling holes for drainage and ventilation I scavenged some hinges off an old cabinet to attach one half as a lid. A little dirt and a little compost should do it. I’ll need to keep it moist, growing worms is like growing plants, water and food. Hopefully I’ll have tons of worms when all’s said and done.

The other picture shows how the rye is making grain already. After that one little rain we had it all sprang up quickly. All the watering I did with the sprinklers didn’t compare. It’s wonderful for me to see the sea of green waving in the wind. So my question is, how do I harvest the grain? If I had a scythe I could mow it down like in the old days, gather it up, and when it dries thresh it. I don’t have a scythe and they aren’t cheap. Up north you can find them in antique shops but not down here. They can be ordered new from Lehman’s but again aren’t cheap. I wonder if I can use the mower. It has a bag to catch the clippings and the force of the blades could well thresh the grain off the heads. Then I’d just have to let the wind separate the chaff from the grain by throwing it up like was done before machines. Last year I set up a vacuum to blow the chaff away from the winter wheat we grew. I’ll plant those seeds this year.

I know there’s lots more stuff that’s happened in the last few days but it’s not there, can’t remember. I haven’t been keeping up with this journal mostly because I’m working so hard and get tired so easily. That plus the pain level increases with the activity. But there is lots to do and no one but me to do it. Having multiple slowdowns (seizures) doesn’t help. Cherie helps some. That reminds me of something. Cherie looked up seed starting on line yesterday and figured out we’ve been doing it all wrong. She’s going to get moving on planting seeds again. The last few flats were miserable failures. Nothing survived out of over a hundred seeds planted. Hell most of it never came up. I really need to get the seed shack put together but that’s just another thing I haven’t been able to finish. It’s not that I am unable to, I just don’t seem to get to it. It is frustrating and depressing for me to not achieve these basic goals. I still haven’t mailed out the “Year in pictures” I struggled to finish since last November. They sit there forgotten. I remember but as soon as I get busy forget. It’s the biggest problem I have from the brain injury, the one that holds me back the most.