Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Over did it?

5/27/08 Tuesday
I guess I over did it yesterday. It was hot but also humid, which is rare out here. We had found a great deal on plants at Aldredge Nursery so bought several flats of tomatoes and peppers. Most of the tomatoes and peppers we had tried to grow from seed did not make it at all. Unfortunately the plants we bought have been sitting unplanted because of my little bout of depression so there is an urgency to get them in the ground. Of course there was the usual list of things to do such as watering and weeding.

I’m not sure but am guessing that it was around four thirty that I began getting dizzy and disoriented. But I kept going. These plants have to get in the ground so I just stayed focused on the task, concentrating on one plant at a time. At six o’clock or so Cherie called me in for dinner. Usually I eat, watch the news, and go back out around seven thirty or so when it begins to cool off. Not yesterday, I was done for. I stripped down and stayed in front of the fan to cool off. The evaporative air conditioner doesn’t work as well when it is humid so the house wasn’t as cool as usual.

This morning I had a real hard time waking up after a night full of dreams. They weren’t bad dreams, just restless ones having to do with getting jobs done and pleasing the guy I worked for, at least the one I remember was. I’m a little constipated too. Don’t know if that could be related to being out in the heat too much so just making a note of it.

It’s going to be another hot humid day. The rest of those plants still need to be planted so I’ll be busy. Cherie made me promise to take it easy. I’m not very good at that. Tuesday is a go to Steve and Janie’s day so I’ll be running into Midland. I have to pick up wood from the guy Jay knows who is replacing his deck. I was supposed to do that Friday but totally forgot about it.

Yesterday I picked up two more soaker hoses from Sam’s Club when I returned a defective one. I’m learning that these are essential to have as getting this well water on leaves can trash a plant. You can clearly see the leaves that got water on them while under sunlight. It’s not too bad after the sun goes down so that’s why I run the sprinklers at night. Getting water to what I’ve planted is getting very difficult. The soaker hoses help where I have them dedicated to specific rows and don’t have to move them. Then it’s simply a matter of plugging the hose into where I have five of them hooked up. That’s far easier than dragging them one at a time and carefully positioning them around the plants they are to water. Water is the key out here. Getting it to where I need it is the hard part. Eventually I plan on running PVC pipe just underground to key areas where I can put spigots that will allow me to easily access water anywhere I need it on the three acres I currently am trying to plant. I’ve only managed to plant maybe one acre so far. Everything should have been planted by now. Maybe nest year I’ll do better.

I had thought of having a big “come help us get things done” party out here but am not as enthused about the idea now. The original concept was to have something reminiscent of what you find in the Amish culture where everyone would come out for a “barn raising” and enjoy a time of fellowship and a dinner afterwards. But I am unsure of it, not sure if I have a grasp on reality of how things should be. This would be a big burden on Cherie as well.

One of the things that was heavy on my mind the last few days of depression was how my thoughts of what it would be like in the small town of Stanton were so far from reality they were almost delusional. The pain of that still resides deep within and is renewed when I run into members of the first church of Stanton. The last time was when I got a hamburger at the drug store downtown. I ran into the man, who’s name I suppose I won’t give, (see, I’m learning) that had told me before “Oh, you have puppies! That should help Cherie not be so lonely”. The cold callousness of that cut deep. Here we had just longed for friends and fellowship and the attitude was “Oh, puppies are good enough for you”. At least that’s how it seemed. This time he was with his wife. (I think it was but my memory doesn’t allow me to be sure) She buried her head in his shoulder to try to hide her laughter and perhaps incredulity at my audacity when I once again invited him to come and visit. It was right in front of me, about three feet away so it’s not like I couldn’t see.

I had to wonder what their conversation was like after they left. Did it honor God? Did it show the love of Christ described in 1 Corinthians 13? “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek it’s own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

This is the church I helped found

As a former pastor I just want to wake them up. Yes, I was a pastor. I met Cherie in bible college and upon graduation and being ordained mentored under Dr. Ron Charles. I helped found and build a church with him in Oregon, Ohio. We started meeting in Maumee’s civic center. As we grew we rented space at the YMCA in Oregon and held services there. I would go out with Ron knocking on doors and witnessing to people even the prostitutes, drug addicts, and gangsters in the sleazy bars in downtown Toledo. Eventually we grew to the point we could buy land and build. It is unfortunate that this is when I fell out of the tree that caused the serious brain injury leading to our divorce. (You can read about this if you follow the link on the right to “The Love Story”.

Ron and I in the lobby of New Life

I visited the church when Cherie and I got back together. Visiting places from my past is one of the tools that helps me recover lost memories. We met Ron and his wife there when he was in town visiting old friends and raising funds for his ministry to the severely persecuted Moslems who converted to Christianity in Egypt and other Islamic nations. I can only wonder how things would have been if I hadn’t fallen out of that tree.

So here are leaders in a church who won’t talk to me but evidently talk about me. I know this for when I met the man before he said something about me trashing the church. This was a reference to this blog where I journal what happens to us. I am sure some of what I said cut as this probably does too, but I try as much as possible to tell the truth. Several times in this blog I asked for comments from them but got no response. But the man’s statement told me that I have been discussed. What they say I wonder but knowing human nature as I do I’m sure it’s not uplifting or compassionate. There is a tool on this blog that tells me the time and location of visitor’s so I see when someone from Stanton reads the blog. But it’s sad and I am sad about it. What the man doesn’t seem to realize is that his church had a reputation long before we ever came to Texas. We have talked to people in Grady, Tarzan, Big Spring, Midland, and even Stanton, who all say the same thing. It’s a closed community, a clique. One prominent Stanton citizen said that if you weren’t from four generations of family born and raised around here, you weren’t accepted. I am sure that this is not true with many in the church but what I do know is it is our experience.

Many have told me to get over it, and I know I should, but not only is the hurt deep but the pastor in me desperately wants to see them change. Not for us but for all the others who will come in contact with this church, this representative of Christ in Stanton. That they become a light shining on a hill, a beacon of love as their God desires. Still I reach out. Every time I meet one of them I invite them over. We are heading towards completing our second year here and have yet to get a visit. Thank God for us finding the good people at the First Baptist Church of Midland. What a relief, what a breath of fresh air they are, an example of how folks should be. And they tolerate me. That’s what it’s all about, at least I think it is. You see, one of the problems with a brain injury as severe as mine was is the loss of social skills and inappropriate behavior. Part of that for me is my mouth and how I come off to others. There is no question I can make others uncomfortable but I don’t want to, it just happens. My facial expression, an underlying turmoil, a severity??? I’m not sure what it is but it’s there. I’m better than I was and improve each year as this brain rewires and I relearn social skills, somewhat. But I’m sure I rocked some boats in Stanton and feel bad about it. But we know I have these problems and figured that of all places the church was where we could find acceptance. The church is where we found acceptance but it was in Midland.

Enough of this. There is much that needs to be done and it’s getting hotter out as I write. Much of this is what has been on my heart, all year, so it just came out. I don’t know what will happen when I publish it. No matter what I say I seem to cause problems. But that’s not what I want, I would like to see others be better, especially at being Christian. This mind of mine is still probably convoluted and a bit off kilter. But, as it says in 1 Corinthians 13.7, love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. So bear with me, hope for me, even believe in me, and please put up with me. Also, talk to me. That helps me keep my thinking straight and clears up the confusion that often rolls around in my head.

It’s 12:45 now. I’ve been out looking at the garden and it’s depressing to see how little is done. I hooked up another hose I made to connect the soaker hoses together. Here is one of the corn patches I tilled and prepared, but never planted. It’s getting too late for that now as corn doesn’t do well in the heat. The corn I did manage to get in the ground is doing well but how much eatable corn it produces is the magic question.

There are four large garden plots I tilled and marked out that have yet to have a seed put in them. One thought on that though is…If I had all of them planted I don’t think I have what it takes to get water to them. Just watering what I have is a chore I have to push to keep up with.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Depressed and angry

5/25/08 Sunday
I’ve spent the last two days being depressed and angry. It doesn’t have anything to do with the dinner at KD’s but that didn’t help. I won’t talk about what made me angry but the depression was severe. “Why am I busting my butt working on this garden?” I was asking myself. I just gave up. I figured I would watch it shrivel up and blow away in this West Texas wind. I’ll just live on my disability check and simply exist from day to day. Watch TV and do nothing. So I stayed in bed or just sat in a chair staring off into space. Nothing on TV was interesting, but there is little to see on the three stations we get anyway. I hope I broke out of it today. Cherie and I had a talk that should help. This is hard on her. I missed four hours of cooler weather this morning. Now that it is hot and miserable I must go out and save what I can. I work on that garden from eight or nine in the morning to sometimes eleven at night. Now I do take a one or two hour nap and often must get out of the heat during the day but it’s still a long day. And despite that I don’t seem to be keeping up. This is hard stuff to do, at least for me it is.

Feeling stupid

5/21/08 Wednesday
I am dead dog tired. It’s 9:30 PM. Wally came and hooked up the electricity to the garage for me. I really appreciate it. At one time I did lots of wiring in my warehouse but that was before the accident. Like all other things I used to know I must relearn it. The stuff (electricity) scares me now.
5/23/08 Friday
It’s so hot I can’t stay out there very long. The wind is blowing at twenty five or thirty miles per hour and that is like standing in a blast furnace. My sweat evaporates almost immediately. That helps cool me down a little but sure dehydrates me, just sucks the water right out. Adding to that is the sand the wind is throwing in my face and eyes. The last three days were over a hundred degrees, about 102 the weather guy said. Today is cool ??? at ninety eight or so. Anyway, perhaps I can actually do some writing now that I will be spending more time inside. Wednesday’s entry is a good example of how this heat drains me, and yesterday I didn’t even open this journal.

Jay, and his wife and son, Mike, brought a piece of carpet over this afternoon. It was in their dining room, which they are remodeling. We plan on putting it in the bedroom. They also brought a small freezer they didn’t need. It is only about three years old. They had bought it for a guy that the Christmas in Action group were helping and he died shortly after. So now we have a nice little freezer. That will be great as it allows us to take advantage of bulk buying of products on sale thus saving money in the long run. We are blessed so much these days and I sometimes wonder why.

I just dozed off as I was thinking of what to write next. I do that a lot nowadays. Of course this is around the time I take a nap anyway so that probably has something to do with it. So I guess I’ll take a nap. It’s just seems so strange to me, having to take naps, but it’s common with traumatic brain injuries from what I’ve read.

It is very frustrating for me to constantly have to fight the effects of this brain injury. This morning I went out and carefully got soaker hoses into position, a task that takes about an hour. Two hours later I go to move these hoses to new positions and give other plants the water they so desperately need in this heat, and discover that I had never turned the water on. I know what happened, the same thing that always happens, on the way to turn the water on I stopped to do something simple like pull some weeds or turn on the other faucet I use to feed water to this garden. That’s all it takes. The other set of hoses had been running so I moved them. I just went out to move these hoses again and hook up a soaker hose I had just poked several hundred holes in. It is one of three we got at Lowe’s that don’t work worth a damn so I’ve been modifying them. So what do I find? The same hose I had forgotten to turn on was still not running. Again it vanished from my mind and didn’t get done. Just another moments distraction. I really can’t do more than one task at a time these days and even that is a chore as I must really focus to complete it.

I hate feeling stupid and having the results of this brain injury slapping me in the face. Our friend took us out to eat at KD’s Barbeque. They took us there once before but that didn’t matter because I don’t remember much about being there. The regular location was closed so we went to their highway side one. At a regular restaurant I can sit down and look at the menu. This gives me time to decipher what they have and figure out what to order. Plus this is all familiar to me and so I am much more comfortable. At KD’s it’s different. If I could have followed someone it would have been easier as I could have watched what they did and just followed suit. But I was put at the head of the line. There is so much for me to process. Do I grab a tray? Where are napkins, knives and forks? Where do I go to next? The lady opened the lid on a big metal thing that was full of all kinds of meats as she talked to Janie. “What do you want?” she said. There was so much stuff that my mind couldn’t process it fast enough so I just said “ribs” because I knew they had them.

We were there in the first place cause our friend had asked “where do you want to go eat”. I’m not good at making fast decisions when there are many options to choose from so I had said the first thing that came to mind “ribs”. When she asked where I wanted to go for ribs I gave up and said that she would have to decide. I really hate being put on the spot where I must think quick, it’s just uncomfortable for me.

So going through the whole process of getting your meal was tough and got tougher. I always start to slow down when in these kinds of situations. It was a whole new unfamiliar environment where I wasn’t sure even where to go sit. As I slowed down farther I moved to a corner where I felt protected. Janie had picked up a friend on the way here so that added to my discomfort. I hate being stupid around someone I just met. It’s embarrassing to say the least. I just wanted to go home after it was all done and did.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


5/20/08 Tuesday
What’s the last thing you want to hear on the first hundred degree day of the year??? “Honey, the air conditioner is blowing hot air”. I was sure it had something to do with the water. For those of you unfamiliar with evaporative air conditioners they cool the air dramatically by pulling the dry hot air through screens soaked with water. This only really works with dry air that has little or no humidity.

Taking the screens off to access the interior I quickly saw that my suspicions were correct. Everything water touched was coated with mineral deposits and the pump was totally plugged up. Some of the tubes feeding water to the screens were also blocked. I spent a couple of hours cleaning and adjusting everything. We will have to replace the screens this year and probably every year as they too are plugged up. That will have to wait till we have some money, probably when we get the yearly CRP check.

Everything that handles water in this house is attacked by the hardness. The faucets leak and one of the new multiple outlet faucets I got to distribute water to the garden has lost one of the outlets due to mineral buildup. We were offered a washer and dryer and in fact we have a washer we brought with us from Toledo, but the water is so hard that washing clothes in it probably isn’t a good idea. Watering the plants has to be done carefully as water that dries on the leafs leaves a residue that burns them and can kill a plant. I think I’ve done that to a number of plants in the garden. Even the soaker hoses will eventually stop up. I snagged a swimming pool pump and filter housing that some one had thrown away at the landfill with the idea of seeing if I can use it to filter the water. If nothing else it can help push water through the hundreds of feet of water hose to maintain pressure at the sprinklers. Well, there’s a catch…I can’t use the sprinklers except at night when the sun won’t evaporate the water and burn the leaves. I was out till eleven thirty last night running them.

I got very discouraged, almost depressed, last night as I worked under the full moon. I was planting more green beans and snap peas. The instructions on them said to plant every two or three weeks to so you can have fresh harvestable vegetables for an extended period. As I did I saw that the seventy five foot long rows I planted before were almost bare. There are only three green bean plants and two of the sugar snap peas. I don’t quite know what I’ve done wrong. It’s hard to know when you can’t remember what you did in the first place. Was it the water? Was it the intense sun? Was it …? I just don’t know. What I know is that I don’t keep up despite working all day and sometimes into the night. There are always things I plan but don’t get too. Part of that is because of the brain injury as I forget what I was doing and get distracted easily. I stay busy but not always on what I should be doing. In addition to that, every time I go to Midland it ends up being for several hours and things don’t get done at home.

The plants Cherie bought that we put in the ground yesterday (actually two days ago) are all in very bad shape. It is frustrating. I know that you must “harden” plants that have been grown in a protective environment but just don’t remember it when I need too. As is true in most things with me I must relearn things several times before they stay. Cherie almost cried when she saw them. This place is hard on plants. We’ve lost all our berry plants now and two of the grapes. Three apple trees are gone as well and lots of the stuff in the garden just isn’t there or not doing well. The potatoes on the other hand are just booming. I swear they grew six inches overnight.

It’s noon now. Man this heat is killing me. I’ve been mowing more of the weeds I’d started on days ago. Almost got that all done. Came in twice to drink a big glass of tea and cool down. While I’m thinking of it I’ll write about the swarm of bees we saw a few days ago. I’ve been intending to write about it ever since but keep forgetting as usual. I was walking from the south side of the property towards the house when I heard an all to familiar sound. It was the droning buzz that hundreds of bees make. “NO! They’re back” I thought and started looking to see where they were. I didn’t see any activity around the garage or greenhouse so headed around to the front. Then I heard as the sound seemed to change the direction it was coming from so I looked up. Just passing overhead was a black cloud of bees swarming in a large boiling ball of moving bodies. WHOA!!! “CHERIE, Where Are You” I called, hearing her talking on her cell phone. “I’m on the phone, what do you want?” she called back impatiently. “There’s a swarm of bees flying over” I explained. By this time they were halfway down our property line heading away. They were still visible well past the end of our property, which is a half mile away. Cherie got the binoculars and we watched till they disappeared. I’ll need to drive down to the well later and make sure they didn’t make that their home. You can’t tell if they are Africanized bees when they are swarming, at least I can’t. If they are regular honey bees I would be happy and would invest in a hive to move them to. One of our long term goals is to have honey bees to harvest fresh honey from.

I’m going to go to Midland now to poop scoop at Janie’s and go online. We got the Texas Agriculture magazine that the Farm Bureau puts out yesterday. In it was an ad featuring a special for members. It’s a satellite internet hookup that comes complete with a free installation. The price is hundreds of dollars less than others we have looked at. I think it’s somewhere around $249.00 if I remember right. That includes the first month free. The monthly fee is fifty nine dollars, which is what we were paying Alltel for their sucky service that didn’t work half the time. It’s going to be a stretch but we will go for it. I’m not sure how the credit problems will affect it but we will try.

First of the hot days

5/19/08 Monday
This will be the first of four days predicted to be a hundred or more degrees. That will be hard on me and the garden, a real test of us both. Now is when having soaker hoses to water is the most important. Sam’s has fifty foot soaker hoses at almost half the price of Walmart or anyone else. They come in sets of two for eleven bucks. I picked up three sets total, the last two out of the income tax rebate check. That sure didn’t last long (the check that is). If I had the money I’d buy ten more sets and even that wouldn’t cover all the rows I’m growing. I also bought another hundred and twenty foot water hose and we found a deal at Sam’s on a four gallon sprayer that is a backpack model. The same quality unit, that looked exactly like it but had a different brand name, was a hundred ($99.95) bucks at Lowe’s. The one at Sam’s Club carried the “Stanley” name and was forty four dollars and some change. After killing my back with the one gallon spray unit we have (I found it tucked out of sight in a corner of the garage so it hadn’t been stolen) this sounded like a good investment. The one gallon unit works fine but it’s got a short wand. That means I have to stoop slightly to spray plants on the ground and that’s what hurts. With us growing professionally there will be a lot of spraying required so this will be a valuable tool.

I’ve been out working, which I love to do. I said a few months back that I would have to create my job because I can’t work at a normal job, and that is what I’ve done. Right now I’m in to lay down and let the back muscles relax and the pain to reside a little. It’s eleven so I can take the second pain pill of the day. I’m real careful about that. This is the second time I’ve come in. That’s about average for a morning for me but later it will be more often as the strain catches up.

But I’m rested so must head out again. Got to get as much done as I can before it gets to hot. Yesterday Cherie bought some plants for the front where I built the rock fence. I helped her get them planted, or maybe she helped me. I’ve got to run the burn barrel. The latest snake I killed is in there along with a huge rat that apparently drowned in the dog’s pool. They will both be stinking quickly in this heat. The rat was real fat so I’m sure it’s the one that stole a bunch of our seeds. Jen had given us a coffee can full of Indian Paintbrush seeds that just disappeared. We looked all over but can’t find it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hard to keep up

5/16/08 Friday
It’s hard to keep up. The pictures help me figure out what I did. Wally came over to help me move the bus and hook up the electricity to the garage. First thing we did, after looking at the chain hoist I borrowed from Chuck, was to run to Harbor Freight to look at their hoists. We found a four ton come along and bought that along with twenty five feet of chain. Moving the bus was a day long (Not quite, but it seemed like it) process of jacking the bus up, putting boards under the wheels, and pulling it inch by inch with the come along.

Then we would jack it up again and put more boards under, along with digging out some dirt. And it was back to the inch by inch pulling with the come along. The front tire was pretty much flat, which didn’t help things much. The back tires had some air in them but were also low. After sitting for thirty years I’m surprised there was any air in them at all. We got the bus out of the holes it was in and will try to move it more later after I air the tires up.

What else? I don’t know right now, just know I’ve been working hard on the farm/garden. I stay pretty tired and sore nowadays.


5/13/08 Tuesday
It’s going to be another hot day. Unfortunately it is humid as well, which makes the heat much worse. It already felt like ninety degrees at 9:30 this morning. I was out moving water hoses when I experienced a bad chest pain. Dragging five hundred feet of water hose is like climbing several flights of stairs with a heavy back pack on. I’ve had chest pains before but this one came with a headache and dizziness so I went inside. Cherie had me chew two aspirin, hold them under my tongue, and lay down. That worked though I’m still a little dizzy and have the headache. Plus it feels like there is a pressure buildup behind my eyeballs. That’s the kind of thing you get with sinus problems.

There is lots to do as there is every day now. We lost the blackberry bushes. This time it was due to neglect. As much as I try to get Cherie to schedule tasks like what to water when it doesn’t seem to work out well. The blackberries are in a separate location and just got forgotten. Out here it only takes a couple of days for that to kill young and tender plants that haven’t gotten established yet. For that matter it doesn’t take much for established plants either. The raspberries, blueberries, and now blackberries have all succumbed. I know gophers got at least one of the blueberry bushes.

We threw another fogger under the house this morning. At first it looked like we had gotten all of the killer bees yesterday but by three or four you could see a dozen of them flying around their entrance under the house. I hope we got them all this time.

Yesterday I fetched another load of rocks and worked on the rock wall out front. It’s looking good I think but needs a lot more work. Eventually I want to mix up mortar and make it permanent but till then they are just kind of balanced in place. I’ll get two or three more loads of rocks to finish it up but that won’t happen too fast. There is just too much else to do. Getting and keeping this garden/farm going is more important than looking good.

This is one of the days I’m to poop scoop at Janie’s. The truck is pretty low on gas, the bank account is low on funds, and we won’t get our income tax rebate check till Friday (providing the IRS is on time) so I may not go in. Cherie will call to let me know how bad it is. If there isn’t much I will let her do it for me, thus saving the eight dollars it costs in gas just to run to Midland. I do need to go online, which I do when I go to Steve and Janie’s, so will probably go into Stanton where I can access the net through the unsecured Wi-Fi connection we can get at the water station. I’ll fill up our empty water bottles to make use of the gas and time spent going in.

I feel pretty tired right now. But there’s things to do.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another hot day

5/11/08 Sunday
(The date is all I managed to write for this day)

5/12/08 Monday
With another season comes another round of battles with the local critters. We had a swarm of bees that found a way under the house yesterday. Saturday we noticed them trying to find a way in. I used up a can of wasp spray and killed a hundred or so with a broom. Then they weren’t there. Come to find out they had found a way from the other side of the house. I didn’t notice till I went to turn of the water on the spigot I had installed at that end. There were two or three swarms we had to deal with last year. These were the “Africanized” killer bees judging from their level of aggression. Saturday in Midland a swarm had attacked a lady and pet dog, killing the dog. These weren’t that bad but sure let you know when you were too close. I ran to Walmart and bought some more spray along with some foggers. Getting up early this morning I threw a canister under the house. We turned on the air conditioner to prevent the fumes from coming up. It seems to have done the trick. Time will tell.

We have lost three of our apple trees to gophers along with fifteen or so of the Afghan pines. There are gopher holes everywhere along with what they call “ground squirrels” out here. They dig bigger holes. You rarely see any of them. The gophers spend most of their time underground though I think they come up to map what direction to dig to kill as much as they can.

There are a ton of fat happy aphids on all of the black eyed peas. And it appears that we have spider mites on the green beans. I don’t know what it is but the leaves are all mottled and messed up. Perhaps it is the water. I took this picture of where I watered with a soaker hose one time. You can see the mineral deposits on the surface of the dirt. We already know that watering during the day with a sprinkler is bad. The water that lands on the leaves evaporates leaving this mineral and salt film that burns the leaves. It’s too bad we can’t afford to buy enough soaker hoses to water everything. I’ve been running the sprinklers at night, using a flashlight to see where it’s going and the alarm on my phone to tell me when to change the sprinkler’s position.

Yesterday was nice and cool. Cherie and I worked together on some flowerbeds around the house, rebuilding the rock border around the mailbox and planting some flower seeds. We were going great guns till I found the bees. That sure rained on our parade and I lost my enthusiasm.

So I’ve been out at it this morning. Had to come in and rest at 9:30. Makes me feel like I’m an old man, having to take breaks like this. But it’s ten now so I’ll get back too it. It’s going to be a hot day in the low to mid nineties and tomorrow will be hotter so I must take advantage of the morning coolness. This heat sure drains me.

It looks like some of the rye is ready to harvest. That could be a problem. I’ve been cutting it with the lawnmower and using it as mulch to protect the plants from our intense West Texas sun. If the seeds are viable I’ll have rye growing where I’ve used it for mulch. We are still trying to figure out how to harvest it. I sharpened the small hand sickle we found in the garage. (One of the few things that didn’t get stolen from here) It cuts good but is not very efficient. Will I gather a bunch of grain heads in my hand and cut them from the stalks, then throw the heads into a sack or the wheelbarrow? Perhaps I can just cut them, letting them fall to the ground where I can rake them up after mowing the stalks down. Or maybe I can just run the mower over them and catch it all in the grass catcher, thus threshing the seed out of the heads. Then I can spread out a tarp and throw this into the air, like they did in the old days, and let the wind blow the chaff away while the heavier seeds fall to the ground to be gathered later. It’s all a new world to this city boy. Looking out over the field it is gratifying to know I did this, planted it all by hand with a rake, sometimes in the snow.

I am rested now and will take a pain pill. As much as I hate them they allow me to keep going with fewer breaks to let the back muscles relax and unknot. But I always pay for it later.

Go figure. I write about critters and guess what? We got our first rattlesnake for the year. Cherie was cleaning out the egg crates and flats we had for starting seeds when I heard “Oh MY, Oh MY”. There was no doubt something was wrong so I ran over. Sure enough, it was a rattler tucked in right where Cherie had just picked up a bunch of egg crates. It was a small one as rattlers go but dangerous none the less. She had the puppies go inside immediately. They knew something was up and wanted to jump in and be a part of whatever it was. Both of them stood barking at the screen door as I took care of the problem. The snake made many strikes at the hoe while I maneuvered to get at its’ head. There was some kind of odor when all was said and done. I don’t know if it’s from the venom or something the snake emits but it was definitely there. We let the dogs out after I put the snake in the burn barrel and they were all over where it had been. I sure hope they have an instinct to stay away from rattlers. Some dogs do, some don’t.

2:30 – I just got back from the landfill. Picked up some fence posts and a tarp. I will use the tarp when we thresh and winnow the rye. I don’t know what the word winnow means but it seems to fit so I’ll throw it in. There were also some bits of water hose I picked up as well. It’s pretty hot out now so I will be going out to work in short intervals. First I must unload the truck and then I think I’ll go get some more rocks for out front. Haven’t done anything landscaping wise for a while because I’m focusing on the garden but will spend some time on that today.

Just a note; I mixed up a batch of compost from the green clippings I mowed. The two foot long thermometer we got from Odessa’s extension agent shows that it is 150 degrees inside so that’s pretty good.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Another blessing

5/7/08 Wednesday
Yesterday was not productive at all. We went to Big Spring for my appointment at the VA hospital at 11:00. The first thing was to get lab work done which required drawing my blood. They had a hard time finding a vein as they always do. When they finally found one on the top of my hand the blood was full of bubbles but the nurse said it would be alright. We went to Al’s Barbecue for lunch. I had discovered it when I came to get my eyes checked and a new pair of glasses. Great food to say the least. Cherie said the glasses I picked out looked like women’s glasses and regretted not coming with me. Hell, I don’t know and have no fashion sense, besides my eyesight is so bad that I can barely see the frames on my face when checking them out because the frame samples don’t have lenses in them. So I won’t wear them in public. Besides how Cherie says they look the bi-focal lenses are disconcerting and I think the bottom part is too high, putting the line right in the middle of my sight. So they are reading glasses now.

Anyway, the lab didn’t get enough blood so the called my name and told me to go back up to the lab. Great, another poke and hope session with a needle. They only had to poke me about three times to find blood. Then we had to wait till they ran the tests before I could go in and see the doctor. He said the tests look fine other than an elevated something that is because of the hepatitis I had. However when I showed him the callus kind of thing that is between two of my toes he said that will need to be looked at by a specialist. They will do a biopsy of it. Interestingly, the doctor was from our neck of the woods in Ohio and is very familiar with Toledo and Temperance, where my house was.

So I didn’t get anything planted yesterday. I can’t remember anything about Monday other than what I wrote. I know I didn’t get anything planted then either. I think much of the day was spent working on the greenhouse but am not sure.

There was a big grass fire a few days ago. I know because I found these pictures I took. This one took out about 9000 acres. We could see it from the house.

I am so tired already. It's only 3:00. I'm at Janie's with Cherie. We didn't make it over here yesterday because of spending the whole day at the VA hospital.

I just got a call from K’s Chimney. They are the ones I found with the best price on the chimney elbows we need to finish that job. They had a big price hike but he said he would sell me the elbows at his cost. I’m waiting for him to call back with the shipping costs and final price.

Well, Art from K’s Chimney called me back pretty quick. He is selling me the elbows at his cost. We talked a bit about the price of gas and how it is affecting the price of everything else. I expressed my opinion that oil is being manipulated by the Muslim nations to further their goals of dominating the non Muslim world. Anyway, K’s Chimney had the best prices on everything related to our chimney needs and they also carry lots of other things including hearths and grills. Their website is www.kschimney.com and I encourage all of you to visit and see if they have anything you could use. They blessed us greatly. Now don’t you dare ask them to sell something at cost, you know that’s not right. He helped us because we had received a quote just before a major price hike and also considered the fact that I am a disabled vet and things are tight right now. Their regular prices beat out the competition as it is. So this is my shameless plug.

Supposed to rain???

5/5/08 Monday
Boy it’s been busy the last few days. There is supposed to be rain coming so we are pushing to get as much seed in the ground as possible. Saturday Don and Cynthia brought us the sleeper sofa they are replacing and gave to us. With them came his daughter and her husband, along with their two adorable kids. We needed all of them to carry the sofa in and our old one out. The old one had been Cherie’s grandmother’s and was real nice at one time. The puppies kind of changed that.

Showing Don’s daughter our garden just brought home how far behind I am. The tiller is such a blessing but works faster than I can plant seeds. They have a garden too and lots of plants are already up and growing.

With them here I finally had the help needed to get that greenhouse out of the garage. It took four of us to carry it and we had to go the long way around cause the greenhouse is so wide. I spent much of the day tying it down. Ran two ropes over the top and attached them to stakes driven deep into the ground. I also drove a bunch of stakes inside that I screwed to the greenhouse frame and put lots of screws from the clear panels into the frame. Hopefully this will help the greenhouse survive the sixty MPH winds we sometimes get out here.

Yesterday Cherie put another coat of primer on the living room wall and painted the ceiling as well. A friend from church came over the other day and they spent the day painting. It was good for Cherie to have someone over to talk and do things with. Really helps lift her up. After that she came out and helped me with the garden. We both worked till dark. Actually I worked well after the sun set finishing up the cantaloupe and watermelon I was putting in. Regardless, Cherie put in a full day for sure.

I just got back from the landfill. Picked up an eight foot piece of a telephone pole and loaded it in the truck. That hurt so I’m laying down for a bit. Then it’s back to putting seed in the ground.

Great day for working

5/3/08 Saturday
It’s a great day for working, was 46 degree’s this morning and will only go up to the seventies. I got out early to get as much done as I can and be damned if I didn’t have a seizure. It is thankfully a short one. I came in when I felt that light headed sensation that often precedes a slowdown and laid down. That was forty minutes ago and I feel up to getting back to work now so will get out there. They say it should rain Sunday or Monday so I want to get as much done as possible. Water is the key to life out here. It took me an hour just to drag the hoses over to where the afghan pines are and water them. I’m guessing it’s just under an eighth of a mile to the far corner of the five acres. Took an hour to water each of the trees individually. Getting the drip feed water stuff set up will be a big help. I picked up some more soaker hoses but the farm account was quickly depleted this paycheck so that’s it for the month.

I was marking out where the pumpkin patch will be when I had the slowdown. Looking at the seed packages I see that it takes a hundred days or so for the pumpkins to be ready for harvest. Seeing as Halloween comes October 31 it’s too early to plant them in order to have a sellable crop then. I’ll still mark it out and till some of the area up but won’t plant till late June. There are some seeds our friend from Florida sent that are simply marked “pumpkin”. I don’t know if they are pie pumpkins or what so will go ahead and plant them now.

Much of this day will be spent mowing rye for mulch. Much of it is making seed and I think will be ready to harvest in a month or so. I don’t want to use if for mulch after the seeds are viable because it will start growing rye everywhere I mulch. That won’t be good. So that mower might be running hard today. Time to get to work folks so see ya when I get back.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


(Click to enlarge. It really makes a difference, shows the details that makes it a cool picture)

5/1/08 Thursday
I could have sworn I wrote in this journal more recently than last Wednesday the twenty third but there is nothing there. Perhaps it got deleted on this computer or something. If so I hope I posted on the blog as I can recover it then. I don’t know, part of the daily confusion I go through.

OK, I looked at the blog and see that I didn't even post Wednesday, so here it is.
4/23/08 Wednesday
Set the alarm to get up early again. I can’t remember what I did yesterday after posting on the blog but my pain level is high this morning so I’m sure I worked hard. We were able to watch the news last night but it is once again not viewable this morning. Don’t know what’s causing this but I hope it goes away. Watching the weather last night brought out a good example of the kinds of problems my memory causes. In yesterday’s post you can read how I thought there would be three days of possible rain. “The next three days however show a good chance for rain.” is how I put it. Actually there were three days of possible rain shown but they are not in a row. Saturday and Sunday show a possibility of rain on top of yesterday evening. My memory recalled three days of rain but jumbled them together. That’s how it is, I can remember some things but there are often pieces missing from the puzzle. This can cause problems as you can imagine. My bustin my butt to get seeds in before the rain isn’t a big problem but I could have relaxed a little and done some other things that need doing. Now I realize I have a little breathing room but not much.

So we are off to a start. Cherie had a sharp pain on her left side so had to lay back down this morning. She’s doing a little better now but I told her to take it easy today. I’m going to see if I can find the program in this computer that will allow me to draw a map of the garden plots. If not I’ll draw it out by hand.

So what happened since last Wednesday??? I don’t know. There are some bits and pieces I can get from pictures I took. One shows the hundred or so video tapes I recovered from the landfill There were several thousand piled up there that some video store dumped. The word had gotten out and there were several out there gathering up as much as they could. I didn’t feel like picking through lots of titles to get what interested me so I just scooped these up. Figure Cherie and I can go through them later and throw out what we don’t want.

We found some ticks on the dogs. Actually I saw the first one crawling on my leg. I suppose that’s part of it getting warm. We’ll be buying some kind of tick shampoo or something for them today. Fortunately today is payday when my disability check comes in. It’s always real tight at the end of every month. Cherie and I went through all of our bills and set up a budget. When the income tax rebate comes we will be able to get some badly needed things like new glasses for Cherie and some work boots for me. We’ve been getting cheap shoes that aren’t full boots and it doesn’t take too long for me to trash them so I suppose it’s smart to spend the eighty or so bucks to get a good pair.

I’ve been working my fingers to the bone so to speak. They get so dirty that no matter how hard I scrub I can’t get it all out. Mostly it’s in the deep cracks and crevasses that have developed as I build this farm. That's them in the picture above. I’ll put lotion on many times during the day but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I suppose age is a factor too.

black-eyed peas

I’ve gotten two of the main plots planted so far, along with the large black-eyed pea patch and a corn patch that is separate from the others. That’s because I’m growing at least three different kinds of corn and they need to be two hundred and fifty feet or so apart to prevent cross pollination. The peas and corn so far are all that has come up, but that’s because I planted them first.
the corn that's coming up. It was getting dark when I took this. I usually am out working then because it's cooled off some.

I am so far behind on all of this. When I get seeds in the ground it is important that I spread mulch over them to help the soil stay moist and protect them from the intense heat of the sun baking the soil. Mulching is going slow. I have to mow down some of the rye to make it. I capture the clippings in the grass catcher that is on the lawn mower Wally and Jen gave us. That is a really important piece of equipment for this farm, doing far more than mowing the lawn. Fact is we don’t have any grass out here anyway, just weeds. I mow them down and put them in the composter. Turn a problem into a benefit that way.

Several rows of stuff planted. Cherie is careful to mark them because I can walk away and forget what I just planted.

One of the problems with mulching out here is the wind. Yesterday it was twenty or thirty MPH winds with gusts to forty five. I was trying to put mulch on the sunflower seeds I planted last week but it would blow out of my hand without hitting the ground I was putting it on. Finally I took a roll of that fencing I got from the landfill and would unroll it as I laid down the mulch, thus preventing it from blowing away. Only got about fifty feet done of the three hundred feet or so planted with sunflowers. My concern is that I am too late. There was a rain last week and if that was enough to germinate the sunflower seeds they may all be dead now. That would be because I wasn’t able to water them and there was no mulch to protect the young tender seedlings.

More of the afghan’s died. I finally unrolled the tubing we bought to make a drip feed irrigation system for them but I still need to buy more parts for it and find the time to put it all together. That will probably take a whole day. It is frustrating to watch investments of time and money go down the drain because I can’t seem to keep up. Setting up ways of getting water to the plants is the critical key out here. Dragging the multiple sections of garden hose around to run just two sprinklers doesn’t do it. For one thing, on windy days much of the water blows away and what does make it to the ground soon evaporates. Every month I will buy more soaker hoses and I have managed to find a few at the landfill. The only area I got set up with them is where the potatoes are growing.

Oh yeah!!! The potatoes are coming up too. See, I forget so much stuff. Just a few paragraphs earlier I said that peas and corn were the only plants that have come up. That’s just how it is all day long, every day, with me.

I finally got the Rubik’s cube greenhouse put together. Just need to put on the corner braces and fix the broken hatches that go on top. Then we wait for a day that isn’t windy and Cherie and I will try to walk the thing out of the garage and put it on the foundation. I’ll have to stake it down real good with straps or something going over the top so the wind won’t blow it away. That will be a big test on this structure.

Today will be another hot windy day. It got up to ninety six degrees yesterday. Working on the greenhouse in the garage was tough because the temperature inside was well over a hundred even with the door open. The sun beaming down on the steel roof with no insulation does that. Working out in drains me pretty fast. Thank God for the air conditioner Janie and gang blessed us with last year. I’ve been getting up early to get out there before it gets too hot but this morning decided to take the time to update the journal. That’s because I know that by the time the day ends I’m too pooped to write anything. But it’s 11:00 now and I need to get to work no matter what. Cherie has gone to Midland to be able to go online and take care of our banking as well as get some groceries. She tried to go online in Stanton this morning but wasn’t able to. The Wi-Fi connection there isn’t always working.
There is a big grass fire not too far away. We can see the smoke from here and they closed down the interstate for a while. Our power is out, which I presume is connected to the fire. Who knows how long it will be before it is restored. The winds finally died down. That will help the firefighters with the fire but means I am unable to run the water. Things were so bad earlier that I couldn’t work outside any longer so came in. Now there’s nothing much to do. The battery on this laptop will only last just so long unless I take it outside and charge it with the truck. I suppose now would be a good time to go into town. There I can go online and also get the full tank of gas I get at the first of every month.