Thursday, April 29, 2010

Going to prison

4/28/10 Wednesday
We’ve been busy. Got a load of railroad ties yesterday and today Mike and I laid them out where two of the raised beds will go. First I had to work to level the ground out. That meant firing up the Massey Ferguson and wrestling with it to get it to go where I wanted. It took a while to get things done marginally well and then we unloaded and stacked railroad ties.

4/29/10 Thursday
This morning the pain level is high, an expected result of moving all those railroad ties. As we worked yesterday Mike kept asking “Did you move all these by yourself? How did you do that?” referring to the raised beds I’d made last year and the telephone poles put in as fence posts along with the two fifteen foot posts I installed at the end of the garage. I explained that I would move things a few inches at a time until it got done and dragged some of them with the truck and a chain. Some stuff took days to get done and required rest till the pain went down. Mike kept worrying about me hurting my back as we worked together carrying the railroad ties so I told him “Don’t worry about it, I’ll be ok”. Carrying loads will strengthen my muscles and help keep me strong as the years go by, thus enhancing my quality of life when I hit the 60’s (as in over 60 years old, an age I one time never expected to reach but now plan for.
Cherie's rose bush.
We set the alarm for 5:00 this morning to get up and ready for the Kairos prison ministry trip. This is not going to be convenient as far as timing goes for there is so much to do that is at a critical time regarding the farm. I am already overwhelmed and behind schedule, but this is something that will help others and placing others needs before your own is a principle I try to practice.

The trip will last 4 days, a big chunk out of my schedule. I just decided to take this laptop with me so hope to have internet access in Fort Stockton. Got to get dressed and ready to leave. For those of you who pray, remember me during this event as we go into the prison to work with the inmates.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pictures tell the story

It's windy again. I have Mike from the halfway house working for me today. Was going to have two guys working but Cherie looked at our finances and informed me that wasn't smart as we've gone through most of the stock money already. Nuts, there's so much to do. I'm tired but that's nothing new. Work till it gets dark and I can't do any more. It's already 2:00 and I don't want to spend a lot of time writing so I'll post pictures. Organizing and playing with this so that descriptions end up near the pictures is a time consuming pain so I'll post descriptions and let you figure it out. The first picture is of a Tohoca daisy or something like that. Cherie says that's the name and they are growing wild all over here so she asked if I could transplant some near the house, which I did.

The second picture shows the disc I bought for fifty bucks and why it was so cheap. Many of the bearings wore right through the steel and some of the disc's themselves are broken and need to be welded. I bought a cheap welder at harbor freight but doubt it's up to the job. Trying to save money might have just wasted it.

Third picture shows where I tilled in the area where cantaloupes were planted last year and probably again this year. You can't see it but there is drip irrigation installed for about fifty yards. Next I must make hills around each dripper with compost and other good stuff and then plant seeds.

This picture shows how I must relearn what I learned the year before. That lesson would be that the drip tape must be buried deep underneath the row. I know I experienced this last year, the rain and wind exposing and blowing away the tape, but wasn't able to remember so I repeated last years mistakes. Now I must go back through the rows and rework them all to bury the tape. Would have been easier to remember but that's part of living with a brain injury.

The mint and other things in the herb garden are going crazy. Just booming up there in growth. Tomorrow I plan on getting another batch of railroad ties and Mike and I will build a bunch more of the raised beds. These will go in the area we have strawberries growing now and many of them will become strawberry beds but there are plenty of other things we can put in as well.

Speaking of strawberries, look at these. I picked the whole bowls worth yesterday. They are tasty, way more flavor than what you can get at the store. Oh they might not be as big but the flavor is big.

I used the plow to dig these furrows on the ridge where our windbreak trees are. This way I am able to bury the drip tape deeper as a permanent installation. The sunflower seeds I ordered to grow on this ridge just came in today. After Mike levels the dirt off and covers the tape we will sow more Bermuda grass. Picture in your mind all of this covered in nice green grass and you can catch a glimpse of my vision for the farm. Time to get to work.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Life comes from death

4/21/10 Wednesday
It’s 9:45 am and I just came in from digging post holes. The pain level is high but that’s expected and nothing unusual when I’m out working. It’s time to take one of the pain pills that I both hate and appreciate at the same time. I’d prefer not needing them and dislike the idea of taking a drug that can be addicting, especially because there was a time in my life that drugs were a problem. But they allow me to keep going, making the pain tolerable, so I am careful about it.

As I worked I once again contemplated the relationship between death and life. Back in the day I wore a T shirt that said “Death is certain, Life is not”. It was one of my favorite shirts that showed a giant grim reaper with dozens of agonized souls in it’s bony hand. At that time this was a central part of my philosophy but that sure has changed now. Yes it’s true that death is certain but there are now some truths I live by that reduce the uncertainties of life.
Here's a wildflower Cherie found growing on our CRP acres and had me transplant to the front yard. Don't know what it's called but they look good. There's some purple daisies she wants me to transplant as well but I haven't gotten to them yet.

Now I say “There is no life without death”. “Oh! That’s morbid” some might think when they hear this but it’s a truth that reaches into many aspects of life. Think about it, everything you eat was at one time alive and it’s through it’s death you receive nutrition and thus life. As I regarded the blessings of our life, the miracle of Cherie and I being restored and building a life on this farm, I realized that even this came through death. The farm is our inheritance and became available when my grandmother died. Even the tractor and many of the tools and supplies I have this year are a result of my father’s death and the inheritance I received. Actually that inheritance was from his mother that he had held onto for forty years and I only got once dad died.

But more importantly, my life came through my death. Sure, in the Christian theology there is a death to self and your old life that is required, a spiritual death so to speak, but in my case there was a literal, physical death. (I’m still listed as a fatality by the State of Oklahoma on the accident report) When I woke from the coma it was as if I was a child again. I had to have my diapers changed and was spoon fed what could only be described as baby food. Then they taught me how to talk and how to walk. At the time the prognosis was that I would be a vegetable the rest of my life. It was a long road from there to where I am now, but what a wonderful journey that’s been, despite the hardships that would stop some in their path. Through this death and subsequent restoration of life I was able to see what I had been blind to prior to the wreck. I saw the waste of life I was practicing, the worthlessness of drinking, using drugs, women, and partying all the time.
The car I died in. Actually I was flung out of it according to the accident report.
Oh I had money and drove a fantastic car, I had my companies and the prestige that went with that, but I didn’t have life, not like I do now. These days things are tight, my truck only has two gears that work and doesn’t look pretty, and…well I could list all the things that aren’t perfect but that’s not the point. It’s not what I don’t have but what I do that’s important. You see, I believe I’m one of the richest people in the world for I have what money can’t buy. I have my wife, my first and now third wife through the miracle of the circumstances following being raised from the dead. I know that sounds overly dramatic but the fact is I was declared dead at the scene, life flight was called off, I was covered up and loaded in the ambulance for transport to the coroner, and came back to life.

I have eternal life through God, who loves me so much He sent His son to die in my place. So through His death I have not just life but eternal life in heaven with Him. But it’s important to note that I have a better life here on earth through Jesus, that by living and practicing the moral principles found in the bible I can avoid many of the pitfalls that would ensnare me and drag me back into the living death I once practiced. So I strive to give life now, give the gift I’ve been given to others so that they too can be free of the chains that bind them, the habits and practices that bring death, not life.

There is no life without death, and through death you can find life.

It’s time to get back to work. The medication has taken effect and sitting in this chair for an hour has allowed the pain to subside. This evening Ron Charles arrives and Cherie and I are so looking forward to picking him up at the airport. Be blessed y’all. I know that some of my friends and readers don’t share my faith in God and hope you are not offended by my openness. Please understand that I am not offended or judgmental of you and that through the life I’ve lived and things experienced comprehend many other belief (or lack of belief) systems. I’ve seen others who tried to cram their religion down your throat and know the uncomfortable feelings that brings up so have no desire to be seen that way. I just love life, the gift of life I’ve been granted, and share that with you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Met people, Pushing through

4/20/10 Tuesday
Went to a public meeting that had representatives from several state and federal agencies dedicated to rural and agricultural development. It was good from the standpoint of the people I connected with because I learned only a few things I didn’t already know. But it’s people that are the key to our obtaining the help needed to pursue the dream. Unfortunately I can feel a slowdown coming right now. It’s 1:43. I want to process and record what was said at the meeting but fear it will be lost because of another seizure.

I had planned on going to Midland this morning to dig up and take home all the pecan tree seedlings I wanted but received notification of the meeting last night. I’m sure I can get the trees at a later date. Discovered why the wheel was wobbling on my tractor. Seems that three of the six bolts holding in on had worked their way loose and fallen out. That’s a lot better than having a wheel bearing fail. Tractor Supply didn’t have the bolts in stock so I got them at the John Deere dealer in Stanton this morning after the meeting. As much as I want to get those trees I am pressed to finish disking the five acres because the sun is out and the ground will dry quickly. At least I can run the tractor during a slowdown. When the slowdown/seizures are bad I won’t drive my truck, especially in traffic in Midland, but the tractor is slow, steady, and uneventful (most of the time) so doesn’t require quick thought or action so is safe. I can feel this damn thing coming on hard so it might be a bad one. Will push through no matter what, like I usually do. Got a headache rising up as well. So it’s an attack for sure. Thinking’s getting hard. What was I going to do? Got to get diesel for tractor. Better get moving or I’ll get lost. This sucks. But I’m blessed despite it. Hope it doesn’t last long.

Monday, April 19, 2010

We are grateful

4/19/10 Monday
The start of another week and it promises to be busy. Ron Charles will be flying in Wednesday night to tape 24 sessions for GLC. He’ll be so busy with that that there will be little time for visiting or much else. I look forward to seeing him and will be blessed to serve him in anyway I can, in addition to learning from his teaching as he tapes the programs.

Cherie and I went to the master gardeners’ sale Saturday and Cherie bought three rose plants along with several other plants. Yesterday I made this bed for the rose bushes on the north side of the house. Little by little we are creating a home here.

You can see the little ditch I dug in back to run the drip irrigation to this area.

After days of rain we had our first sunlight and break yesterday. It didn’t rain Saturday but by the time we got done doing everything we had to do it was getting dark so I wasn’t able to work on the farm. But there’s things that won’t wait so we didn’t go to church Sunday and I went straight to work. One of the important things is to till the soil while it’s still damp so I got on the tractor at about 7:30 yesterday evening. I ran it hard but noticed that one of the front wheels is wobbling real bad, a sign that perhaps we lost a bearing. Nuts. I’d done 2/3rds of the disking but decided I’d better park the tractor till I can check it out. Last thing I need is to have a wheel fall off in the field. Looking at that is high on the agenda for today.

There’s always a lot to do and without Alan here to help it makes things a lot harder. Yesterday I bought fence posts to use with the 800 plus feet of field fence we bought to enclose some of the plots. I’ll need to build gates for this project as well. I saw landscape timbers at Lowe’s while looking at fence posts and they are much cheaper so picked up 20 of them. They will work very well to hold up the fence in between the areas I put telephone pole posts in and it saves us a few bucks. I need to hurry up and dig the postholes while the ground is still wet. It turns brick hard when dried out.

That money we got from selling the stock won’t last long at all. In fact it’s already dwindling quickly and we’re being careful, buying only things we need, with one possible exception. That would be a copier/scanner/printer we picked up at Best Buy. One of the important things we are doing is trying to get the office organized and set up for this first year in business as a farm. We have three printers and a scanner floating around the office that are adding to the clutter. With the way we reorganized the furniture to accommodate the file cabinet we were blessed with the cords aren’t long enough to hook them up. Plus our Mac is wireless and has Bluetooth so we decided to take advantage of that. This HP unit came wireless ready so now we can print from our laptops and the Mac anywhere in the house and there are no wires to run. We consider this a long term investment that will see a lot of use as the business grows. It whips out copies in seconds, (like 2 seconds for a full sheet of just type) so when it comes to making flyers it will be nice.

We still have created our website. We got the domain name for it a couple of years ago, knowing it will be a vital part of the business. But neither of us are really savvy when it comes to designing websites, plus we haven’t had time with all the other things going on. But it’s getting to that time where it needs to be done.

Unfortunately none of this will matter if I can’t get our water problem solved. The central ingredient to farming is growing crops and the water has gotten so bad that almost none of our seeds germinated. I have barrels placed under roof eaves that filled with rain water during the storms we can use but that won’t last long. One of the investments I must make with the stock money will be for the water. I’m just not sure what to do and must study on that more. Putting in a rainwater harvesting system is a goal. That requires installing rain gutters and piping all the run off to a large tank that holds perhaps 6,000 gallons or more.

This picture shows the sand and then mud that came in through our windows in the office. This sand gets everywhere, including in our computers and printers. There’s no question it will, or has, caused harm to the equipment. So I caulked the windows shut. If we need air we will open the door. Caulking all the windows unfortunately won’t stop all the sand as it blows in even through the baseboards along the walls and we can spot every pinhole in the wall by the read streak left from the fine sand that is forced through.

Our strawberries are doing well and survived from last year. We picked some of them and they are much sweeter than they were last year, and bigger to. I presume that’s because the plants are established now and not stressed because they were just planted last year and struggling to survive. I hope to propagate as many as I can. This variety is advertised as able to produce in hundred degree weather. The other varieties we tried didn’t make it at all.

That’s it for now. I’ve got lots to do so have little time to spare writing though there is much more to say. Mondays are the days that have some of the highest numbers of readers visiting this blog so I want to make sure I let y’all know what’s going on. I appreciate all of you visitors and am often encouraged by your comments and emails. There is so much I don’t write about that I should to give a better picture of our life.

This picture is from our first wedding.
The biggest part of that is the love that Cherie and I have for each other, how we complete and support each other. It doesn’t matter how hard things sometimes are, with my seizures and coping with the effects of this damaged brain, with tight finances and dreams that seem just out of reach, and everything else, because we have each other. We often talk together about that, about what a miracle our lives are. And the question comes up “Where would we be if we hadn’t gotten back together?”. Cherie one time said that she didn’t think she would still be alive, and I suspect that I would have returned to drugs and drinking, not caring about my future and where I would be. So we are acutely aware of God’s grace and His hand in our lives, of the miracle and wonder of our being reunited and the difference it has made in the quality of our lives. And we are grateful, grateful for life and the future we are able to work towards.

Like it says on the plaque I carved while recovering after the wreck “Love Life. Live a life you can love. Become a person you can be proud of. All things can teach wisdom, If you look for it. Money and things can vanish in a flash. What has real lasting value is the lives we touch.

Y’all have a good day.


4/16/10 Friday
The rain has stopped, finally. Now I must wait till things become a little less muddy before I get out and take advantage of the wetness. This will help me pull up some of the mesquite trees and also to compact some pathways I’m making. In addition to that I will sow as much of the Bermuda grass as I can and will probably have to resow some areas because the seed washed away. With the ground wet it will be easier to dig more post holes so I might mark out where we want to build a barn and chicken house for the telephone poles that will be a big part of those. It’s a shame Alan isn’t here anymore cause I sure could use the help. Guess I should go to the Stepping Stone ministry and see if there’s anyone there who would like to work.

I’ll be going to the prayer luncheon at the HeBrew coffee house this afternoon and need to leave in a few minutes. Ron Charles is coming back to town next week

Thursday, April 15, 2010

True Christian love denies self

4/15/10 Thursday
It’s raining, praise the Lord. We prayed for rain and there’s been moisture for two days. Yesterday was more like a light sprinkling that dampened the ground but that was perfect for the Bermuda grass seed I sowed. Today it’s serious rain that will help greatly wash the chlorides from our well water out of the soil. Most of what we planted, as far as seeds, didn’t come up. I noticed an oily film on the dogs water the other day and have to wonder if that came from the well water but realize it could well have gotten there from other sources as it’s next to the garage door. We definitely need to get the water tested.

I see that I haven’t posted on the blog since Monday. I post on Facebook more often as it’s convenient and I write shorter posts. Y’all are welcome to visit me on Facebook. Not sure the correct way of finding it but it’s simply listed under my name, bob Westbrook. Cherie used to keep up with what I was doing from work through Facebook but they put in a firewall that blocks all Facebook stuff.

I ran the tractor for three hours yesterday morning because it was past time to till under the rye grain as it was starting to develop seed heads. Unfortunately it was raining so I got soaked through. Even my boots soaked through and are still wet this morning. But that’s how it is, you do what you have to do when you need to do it. With the wind and cooler temperatures I certainly got chilled to the bone. I also ran the disc over the pathways to loosen the soil and then sowed more of the Bermuda grass. The urgency to do this was to take advantage of the rain. This is a vital part of our long term goals regarding creating an attractive place of business in addition to our home so getting this grass established is important. I have to take advantage of the rains because we unfortunately can’t water the seeded areas from the well as that will actually kill the seeds, or at least prevent them from germinating. As soon as it clears up I will get out and sow more of the seed before the ground dries.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to get the ground all leveled out as we would prefer. Just didn’t have time and funds before the rains came. Speaking of funds, we sold some of the stock so now have a few dollars to spend on building the infrastructure of this farm/business. I will have to spend it wisely and carefully for it won’t last long. Much of it will be spent on labor and gathering materials for future building projects. We plan on putting in a poultry operation at some point. That will be a good source of revenue, both from the free range eggs and organic meat. Eventually I’m thinking of having a hundred chickens but we’ll work up to that slowly and figure it out as we go. My grandmother used to have some chickens out here and I remember just how much better the eggs and meat was than what you could get at a store. But in all of this there’s a learning curve as it’s all new to me.

Now that we have some funds I’ll gather more telephone poles, railroad ties, and we’ll finish tearing down that barn in Odessa. All of this material will go a long way in building the barn, chicken house, and other things we would like. Plus I’ll finally be able to buy the fencing that is needed to surround each garden plot, thus keeping coyotes, rabbits, and our dogs out, along with possible pilferers, a concern after all our cantaloupe was stolen last year. Had some of the posts up for over a year but never had the finances or help to finish the job

I love this high speed internet we have from Stelera. We are now able to listen to radio (or at least music) and can also watch videos and shows because it downloads or streams fast enough. With the music it makes available things like Jazz, orchestra, and other venues like Christian that otherwise we can’t get out here. I’m trying to find some gentle stuff on a Christian station that works well in the background but had to change channels twice now cause they came up with some hard rock or rap style that disturbs the spirit.

This illustrates how deep a change there has been in me. I used to be a hard rock head banging guy that loved being up front at concerts. Now my soul desires that which is soothing and gentle and what I used to find pleasure in grates. Part of this is probably from the brain injury but a lot of it is a change in my outlook on life, on what is good and what is not. I am more aware of the spirit behind things, of that which corrupts and that which builds up and promotes the good. This morning I decided to fast and will try to pray more as I strive for a closer walk with God, whom I seek.

Looking outside I see that the barrels I placed under eaves to catch rain water are mostly full. That’s good and will be used on the crops as much as possible, especially when everything dries up again as it always does in the desert. Eventually we will install rainwater catchment systems to capture as much of it as we can, but like everything that takes money.
Alan with Carman Kitty. Carman isn't shy about getting pets from him.

Alan has reached a decision that I can’t disagree with even though it’s not what’s best for me. It was brought on when he had a tooth infection and learned he needs an expensive root canal. Looking for a dentist and medical help made him realize that he needs a job that offers medical benefits, something we can’t offer. For that matter we can’t even offer him a stable income. So he decided that moving his mobile home onto our property, with the requisite commitment to work here and be a part of building the farm, wouldn’t work. He found what sounds like a great deal on some land that he can buy and put his home on. I totally understand that, to have a place of his own, a place he owns and can call home. Plus there’s the practical need of a steady income and medical benefits. Sure it’s a blow to us but agape love, the love Christians are supposed to have, is one that chooses for the highest good of the other person, what’s best for them, not what’s best for you. It doesn’t do any good to talk and not practice what you believe, in fact that does great harm to the message of Christ. Alan was worried, or at least not looking forward to letting me know this, but I encouraged him to pursue that course. He’s a good man and needs all the support he can get to make a new life for himself. As much as I'll miss the help I'll miss the company more. It's nice to have someone to talk to and work with.

What else? There’s so much to do that I’ve neglected. Mostly work and research for the business plan and following through on things I’ve started in that regard. I can’t remember much of it so the need to get organized makes itself known. With that in mind I must quit writing this and get to work. First on the list is to rearrange the office as Cherie and I discussed to take advantage of the file cabinet we were blessed with and reduce the clutter that’s gathered everywhere. I do have to run into Midland today and drop off stuff Cherie asked me to take care of for her. I also want to purchase the tall Bermuda seed that will be sowed on the outlying five acres. It’s not regular lawn type grass seed but graze that grows almost two foot high and will provide permanent cover in addition to helping fight off the weeds. It’s not cheap, but that gets back to long term investments in creating this farm. Plus later we can harvest it for hay if so desired.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dumpster diving

Last nights sunset

4/12/10 Monday
There’s a chance for rain for the rest of the week. It’s not a strong chance, just scattered thunderstorms that could be severe. So we’ll pray for rain and hope it doesn’t come with damaging wind and hail. We need the rain badly to help wash the chlorides from the soil and also with the hope it will cause the seeds we’ve planted to germinate. Out of twenty fifty foot rows only a handful of seeds have sprouted and they are primarily squashes and melons though it looks like one of the lettuces has a few sprouts showing. If we get rain I’ll rush out and replant as much of it as I can and have still have seeds of.

Spent much of yesterday preparing more rows for planting. The ground is rock hard from the lack of rain so that was a painful exercise. I don’t know if Alan will show up for work or not. He wasn’t at church so may have gone to Dallas to visit family. Let him know last week that we sold half our stock so would be able to pay him and asked that he come to work. I sure need the help.

We need to finish tearing down that barn in Odessa. The lady emailed me about it. I talked to Eric and he said I could use his cutting torch for the job. Now that we have funds coming we can afford to finish this job and the materials gained can be used to build a barn here on the farm. Nothing comes easy but bit by bit I’m building this farm despite all the obstacles that come up.

There have been no serious bites on the truck and trailer we’re trying to sell and that may be a good thing cause I certainly need it to get the rest of that barn. Eric tried for a week to place an ad with the paper but their online thing is down so he wasn’t able to. Here’s where trusting that God has things under control comes into play. He’s smarter than me (Duh) and knows our needs and the future, so perhaps that’s why the truck hasn’t sold. I’ll relax and not worry about it.

You can see where I cut two liter bottles to use as protection for plants. These are pepper plants.

Cherie’s been having a hard time with doing our taxes. I had to tell her to call it a night and come to bed at 2:00 in the morning. She’s so fretted up and frustrated about it that she couldn’t let go and go to sleep. I made the decision that we will pay someone to do our taxes. She kept trying to use turbo tax but it kept balking when it came to our CRP payment and jacked everything up to us owing over a grand. With this farm there is no longer such a thing as simple taxes. Seems that there is an automatic 400 dollar fee for me being “self employed” because we own the farm despite the fact we haven’t made any money. But there are plenty of expenses, such as the tractor we bought, that can be deducted. So no easy simple form for us. Knew that would happen but figured it would be for this year, not last. We’ll file an extension to give us time.

That’s it for now. There’s moisture in the air and work to do. I went dumpster diving yesterday after church. We need containers to protect the plants from the wind so I went to Aldridge nursery, where I know there are often discarded plant pots. And there were. There weren’t as many of the larger ones I prefer but as you can see there were a lot of smaller ones that will work just fine. I’ll spend part of the day cutting the bottoms out of them and then transplanting the pepper plants. Plus I’ll uproot some more of the mint plants and start them in pots for sale at the farmers market. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who would love to have a mint plant growing in the house because they smell refreshingly great, and it’s nice to be able to pull a couple of leaves off for tea and other things.

Some tomato plants made it and some didn't. No rhyme or reason for it, at least that I know but I'm still learning.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Pushing through

4/8/10 Thursday
It almost froze overnight. Sure can feel it this morning. I’m struggling to think clearly at the moment. Know there’s lots to do but need to be able to focus and figure out what task to take on. I was much clearer earlier but as I write find myself unable to find words, the aphasia from the TBI showing up again. This could be a sign that a slowdown (petite seizure) is coming. Had some bad ones recently. Emailed my sister and she wrote back. Good to hear from her. The price of our stock plummeted this morning, of course it’s just when we decided to sell some and raise badly needed cash. Was going to order seeds but when I checked with Cherie, as I always do before spending money, learned there’s only $16.00 in the farm account so that will have to wait. The lady with a barn we’re tearing down emailed asking when we will complete that job. I explained we must wait till we can sell the stock so I can pay for help to do it. I’m watching the stock (PVX) on the Mac as I write this and it’s slowly coming back up. The old man asked to be considered when I decided to sell and asked how much I wanted for it. I don’t know how to answer that. Do I sell it for whatever the stock market says it’s worth at the moment or can I set a price? It’s a world I’m totally unfamiliar with. Do I contact our bank that handles the stocks and tell them the old man wants to buy it? I so don’t know this stuff.

My ears are ringing, another precursor of a slow down. I’ve got so much to do and need to work on the business plan stuff that UTPB sent me last month. Don’t remember what they needed. I think it was questions I didn’t have an answer for. Don’t know, just know I set it aside to do later and like most things it got forgotten. Out of sight is out of mind very literally with me.

I got most of the plants in the ground but still have a few to go. Ran out of buckets so will start cutting old plant pots we’ve collected or some of the two liter plastic bottles to use as a protection from the wind around each plant.

The stock is still climbing up. That’s good. I’m frustrated, as I often am, because there is so much to do and I’m unable to do it all. There’s an air compressor we brought down from Toledo 4 years ago that still hasn’t been put together. I got a motor for it when I went to Toledo last year. Think I got the motor from Cherie’s nephew but can’t remember. As soon as we can sell this stock we’ll have some cash to get the help I need. It won’t last long and part of it must go to doing something about the water. What a crossroads we are at, at this moment. So much hinges on our ability, or inability, to get something done now.
When troubled I remind myself of the gift of life I've been given. No matter how bad or frustrating my life is a blessing and I know many who are in much worse shape than I.

I’m going to go out and cut the bottoms out of planter pots and two liter bottles. Simple tasks I can focus on when the mind is not working terribly well. It’s cold in the house and we’re out of firewood. Besides we planned on not using the wood burner anymore this season and cleaned it up. So I’ll wear a coat indoors and out. No biggie but my fingers sure are cold and each joint is sore. Can’t wear gloves and type. I’m definitely slowing down. My thoughts are unable to focus and meandering. Got to go try and accomplish something. Bye.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Our well water is poisoned

This row was planted 2 weeks ago and should be green with new plant life.

4/7/10 Wednesday
I worked till way after dark yesterday but still didn’t get all the plants we bought in the ground. That was my goal but I don’t always set reasonable goals. I’ll finish that up today for sure. Meantime I’m paying the price in this beat up old body for the work I did but that’s the way it always is. I could have gotten all the plants in if I’d compromised on my methodology and taken some shortcuts but any job worth doing is worth doing right.

I finished up making the T-frames and digging the post holes to put them in. First each row had to be properly prepared with compost and the pre plant mix of gypsum, Epsom salts, and Borax. That mix is comes from the Mittlieder system that I’m incorporating in much of what we grow this year.

After that I buried the drip line in the row. After seeing how the wind tears the drip line off each row and how there is so much of a mineral buildup when I lay the line on top I decided this will be better.

It’s becoming apparent that our well water has degraded to the point that it’s just poisoning the earth. This is a serious blow but not an unexpected one. We’ve observed that the plants just survive, not thrive, when watered from the well. There has always been a dramatic difference in the plants every time it rains. So right now we’ve got 80% of the rows we planted that show no life at all, and the ones that did manage to sprout some seeds did so only sporadically. That’s disappointing to put it mildly, all that work on all those rows was a total waste of time and seed. Each row reveals a white cap now from the mineral deposits left by the water.

This area should be teaming with life from sixteen different varieties of vegetables that were planted. Only some squashes and melons were able to germinate in this water and they are not too healthy looking.

So what can I do about it? Water is the key to life out here and we have plenty of it but it’s all so hard and full of chlorides that it’s poisonous and prevents seeds from germinating. We will have to buy our plants already started from local nurseries, and that greatly adds to the expense. But even then the water isn’t good though at least the plants have a chance because they are already started. We have hundreds of dollars worth of seeds we bought for this season that I fear will go to waste. However I do have some rain water we caught in barrels set under the roofs that I can use to start seeds with. Our long term plans involve setting up a rainwater capture system that will catch and store all the runoff from our house and garage and also digging a tank to catch the torrential rains at the far end of the farm, where it all drains to. The plans also include installing a filtration and treatment system to clean the well water up and make it safe to use. We also want to drill another well with the hope the water will be better.
I had scavenged a bunch of five gallon buckets along with some plant pots and cut the bottoms out of them. Then I cut these slots so they can go on top of the drip lines. None of the Sudan I planted to act as a wind break around All of the garden plots seems to have made it so the wind is unimpeded as it destructively tears through these areas. Consequently I am using these buckets to protect the plants. Otherwise they would be torn to shreds by the wind and blowing sand. Unfortunately I don't have enough buckets. The winds blew many of them away despite them being stacked out of the way.

All of this, like everything else, requires money. We keep hoping our PVX stock hits $8.00 a share, at which point we plan on selling half of it. It’s been toying with that value, coming within three cents of it, and has steadily risen in value. As soon as we sell it, and for that matter sell the truck and trailer too, we will have the cash needed to do some of this. It won’t be enough to do everything but every little bit helps. Meantime I’ve got a garden that looks like a desert waste land. But I won’t quit. This is just another obstacle to overcome. I have a dream, and through hard work and perseverance, along with God’s grace, I’ll see it become reality.

Last night's sunset.

Monday, April 05, 2010

pictures of Westbrook Farms happenings

Hi guys, it's gonna be a ninety degree days so I don't have time to write as I want to get as much work done as I can before it gets too hot. But I know that more people visit this blog on Monday than any other day so for you regulars who like to keep up with things here's a bunch of pictures. The first one is of 80 bucks worth of plants we bought. Many of the seeds we planted haven't come up due to the well water having gotten so bad so we're forced to buy plants already started.

That means I must rush to prepare beds to plant them in. This shows one of the T frames we built where we will be growing "vertically" according to the Mitleider system I'll be incorporating this year. Just imagine tomato plants climbing up twine that will be attached to high tensile wire strung through the ends of these frames.

Here I am burying water line that will feed the drip tape that runs down each row

Our mint has exploded, enthusiastically growing like crazy. We'll be potting lots of this for sale at the farmers market. I know there's lots of people who will enjoy having a mint plant handy that they can just pull some leaves off for their tea or even water. Plus it smells great to have growing around the house. Check out how it's even growing out of the sides of these railroad ties. Some plants aren't as affected by the well water and evidently mints are included.

Alan did decide to move his mobile home to the farm, where he will be a resident, and God willing, a big part of this business. It's such a blessing just to have someone to talk with and work with out here. Helps me greatly just figuring out what to do and having another set of hands enables me to perform tasks that previously I couldn't do by myself. So this picture shows where I'm making a road he can drive to his home on. We're carving this place out little by little as God brings things together.

This picture reveals one of the problems we must overcome. You can just see the remains of a plant that had sprouted in the depression made as a bird yanked at it to pull the seed out of the ground to eat. All along the rows there is evidence of the birds as they destroy so much work we've done. Eventually we will be able to buy or build row covers to protect our plants from the birds and even insects. When the plants are maturing we already know that birds will be feeding off of them, attacking the fruits of our labors. That's the way it is, farming is learning to cooperate with nature and combating it at the same time. As it is with many things the ability to do a good job depends on our ability to obtain the tools and resources needed. Time, God, friends, and hard work will eventually enable us to put it all together. Till then it's a battle we sometimes are unable to win, but I'll keep fighting it anyway.

Speaking of friends, we were in desperate need of more filing space as we had outgrown what we had and there are papers stacked all over the place in complete disarray. When we asked our friends if they would be willing to sell us a file cabinet or two they gave us this nice lateral. It's a perfect fit for the office and meshes nicely with the desk unit that I bought way back in Toledo before we ever moved here. So here's a big thank you guys. You bless us.

That's it, there's work to do so gotta go.