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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Infestation, travel, just kidding, competition

Mama continues to battle mice in the silverware drawer. Over the past several days she washed and sanitized the drawer and all its contents; which is a feat with all the individual items the drawer contained. But yesterday, when we opened the drawer there was clear evidence that a mouse had frequented the silverware tray over the course of the night. There were little pieces of straw or grass and some remnants of munched on rat poison. That drawer sits empty this morning. I baited a trap and put it in the drawer but this morning the bait was gone and the trap was empty. I rebaited and replaced the trap. We’ll see what happens. I thought about leaving it until I got back Thursday evening but took the chance to have it ready in case the violator returns overnight tonight. The trap I set under the Sequoia was empty this morning as well.

After lunch with Mama I will head south to be ready to train a group on Thursday. I should be home late that evening. It is the first of what looks like many such trips over the next several months. With my schedule filling up, I have had to shop out the Decatur training session for May to another instructor. In case things get very busy there will be three of us on standby to meet all the training requests but at this point things seem manageable. I would like to handle all the training myself – as much as is possible – because all the other persons certified to do this training have fulltime assignments, whereas this is my fulltime assignment. May will be the first time I will have to call in help since I will be in Alabama teaching two classes when the class in Decatur is scheduled.

Over the week and weekend Mama, Victoria and I will have to find time to study for the test we have coming Monday evening. With Mission’s Conference, travel and children visiting we have had very little time to get our notes together to prepare for the test. I do not expect it to be difficult but I like to be as prepared as possible. The final test will be two weeks from Monday which will be the Monday following a week spent traveling through Alabama while I visit clients and teach two classes. It should be an interesting time for us all.

Mama went out late to check on Millie. As she was feeding the goats yesterday, Millie stayed lying down. That is unusual. Millie is not the friendly sort. While all the other goats will cross in front of as we walk to the barn – so they can get petted and scratched – Millie generally keeps a good distance from us. Staying on the ground so Mama could examine her was a good indication that she is getting very close. It could still be a few days but no more than a few days. Mama is still anxious for twins only. We have no say in that and will take what God gives us, but anything past two requires extra work on our part; mostly for Mama.

We harvested our first produce last night – other than asparagus. There was a cucumber ready to pick so I collected it and delivered it to Mama. Within two weeks we will be flooded with vegetables but for now it is fun to watch them grow. So far, we have had to compete with the squirrels in the strawberry patch but not anywhere else in the garden. I will have to spend an evening and see if I can lower our squirrel population but I have not had the time thus far. I did set out a trap with no results. Last night I put an ear of corn as bait in the trap.

We’ll see if that produces any better results.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hurry, little needs, deliveries and escapees

I hurried through a few things when I got home yesterday. Since we had to be at church before 6 pm there was not a lot of time to do much, but some tasks were urgent. The cows needed a new bale of hay. We had fed out the last one a week ago and they had cleaned all the edible portion of that thoroughly. Fortunately, our neighbor has some bales left over from last year – or the year before, I am not sure - on the property he leases directly behind us. Mama called him and asked about buying some of that hay and he told us to help ourselves. I am not sure if there will be a price attached to the hay but it did not sound like it. The cattle were thrilled about the delivery. We will see how this bale lasts compared to the very good ones we bought recently as I shop around for a place to buy some hay. One of the men we go to church with offered me some hay for a good price so I will start there but I do not know what quality it is. Mostly, for the spring it is a filler so nutritional value is less important, but I still want to aim high if possible.

I took time to water the garden. It had rained on Friday and soaked everything well but some of the less mature plants needed a boost. It is supposed to be 90° today and I wanted to make sure they had a chance to bolster themselves against the heat. As a new cold front moves through we are supposed to drop back into the 50’s overnight but today was my concern. With the winds we have suffered through over the past five or so days things have been drying out quickly and the two inches of rain that fell has soaked in or evaporated. The goats are loving the dry and the cattle are loving the new growth of grass but the garden plants were too dry to let it go for too long. I will be traveling tomorrow. It is only one night away but that puts me back late on Thursday and I could not leave things as they are until Friday evening – in case we do not get the rains that are forecast. It has been very hit-and-miss lately with the forecasts matching the actual weather events but we will take what we get and be thankful in it, but I do not plan my garden water needs on the forecasts.

Mama and I have been enjoying the Mission’s Conference. The preaching has been great and the spirit of the services has been wonderful. It puts every evening in a rush but it is worth the extra effort to make sure we can attend. Because of traveling I will not get to go to the service tomorrow. I am sure I will miss the best service of the week. That seems to be the way things happen when you miss a church service.

By next weekend we should be picking blueberries and possibly blackberries. I have to beat the birds and squirrels to the ripened berries. It is a bit early if memory serves me correctly but we deal with things as they come. On the animal front, the next two calves should be delivered by the end of the month and Millie should be kidding about the same time. For now, we are in maintenance mode. The biggest headache at the moment is keeping the pot belly pigs in their enclosure. They are routinely getting out and into other areas where they are not so welcome but I have not had time to investigate. Mama tells me that nothing seems obvious so there has to be a loose patch of fence. She is worried about them getting bred by the boar that has frequented our property.

I don’t think it is possible but it is a valid concern – unless we want a litter of half wild pigs.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Visitors and uninvited guests

Mama and I have had a very busy weekend. Brittany and Andrew came down on Friday. They were just in time to help Mama get the Sequoia to our mechanic in Bowie since I was teaching a two-day class out of town. There has been a problem with a couple of sensors for the past few days and we did not want to drive it too much longer without knowing the issue. Brittany and Andrew were only going to spend the night so they left Saturday afternoon just after Becky, Mike, Bridgette and Justin came. They had traveled down from Hot Springs to repair the car that has sat in our carport for the past few weeks. It broke down on them when they were last here and Mike could not get the repairs completed before they had to report back to work in Hot Springs. With help from Justin they had the car running by Saturday afternoon. The guys were relieved and excited to have it going. They road tested it on a trip to see Grandma and Grandpa and it did well. After swinging back by the farm to load up, they headed to the motel they were staying in to celebrate with a swim in the indoor pool. I am not sure if they ever got in the water but that was the intent.

Becky and Bridgette went to church with us Sunday morning. Becky talks about a church they are going to but I have never heard the name of the church. At least she got to hear some very good preaching as she sat with us through the service. I would not have been surprised if they had left Sunday morning but the guys wanted to get the oil changed and replace a fender skirt they had left off for the road test before they headed back home. They were loaded up with things from the farm that Mama and I were glad to give away, so they went back home with both the car and the bed of Justin’s truck loaded to the brim.

We started our Mission’s Conference Sunday morning. The main speaker is a Bible translator who served as a missionary in Mexico at a work his father started for many years before being called into translation work. One of the recent Bibles he translated was the New Testaments into Mongolian. I am told that he speaks multiple languages fluently and is working on several other translations concurrently. Besides all that, he is a remarkable preacher. The conference will run through Wednesday night. Unfortunately, I have to travel Wednesday afternoon to Leander to teach a class for work. But I will get to participate through tomorrow night.

At the farm, Becky and I worked for a couple hours on some fencing repairs so we got a chance to talk. I feel a bit more informed about her life and their look forward. My main question was how do I pray for her and as we worked and talked I got a much better insight into how the Lord would have me pray concerning her, her child and her life with Mike. We even got to see God answer a prayer right away on something she has been fretting over for almost a year. That was encouraging.

Also, we had a calf born last week. A little bull calf. He is a beautiful bundle of energy and seems to be doing well. Chester stopped by to make sure we knew he was there and we visited for a while Saturday evening.

Sunday afternoon, after a dinner with friends we went to Bowie to pick up the Sequoia. Roger had pulled out the fuse box to repair the wires that a rat had chewed through as she made a nest in the fuse box. Mama and I are about worn out of rats damaging our vehicles but we are a little unclear about how to successfully combat them. The only successful methods are poison or predators. I am nor fond of either method but we will have to do something. For now, we are leaving the hoods of our vehicles popped open because we have been told that just having that much open around the engine compartment will discourage them from nesting there.

We’ll see. Their infestation is most unwelcome.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No change, some change, communication

I had a bit of a lazy evening yesterday. There was nothing urgent on the agenda and my back was hurting more than usual when I got home. The pain in my back was bad enough that even walking around hurt. That does not mean I just sat around for the evening, I just did not do anything major. Mama was not feeling to spry either but between the two of us we moved feed sacks from the garage into the barrels she uses daily and we cleaned up some of the bags that have accumulated at the coop as feed has been put into the feed barrels. We tended to the cattle and made a couple changes in the way we have feed set up in the barn. I reset and reinforced one wall of the pig sty where the pig had scratched so hard it had nearly knocked down the pallets along that wall; getting quite dirty in the process with help from the occupant. After the normal tending to the animals we were back inside before 7 pm. I fixed us some dinner, then I worked on the music schedule for next week’s services for about an hour; we have Mission’s conference next week so it was a bit more work than usual.
While we were out we let Millie out of her enclosure because she seems no closer today than yesterday. She took her time exiting the stall but eventually was out moving around. Her current condition makes her a bit awkward and she seems to almost stumble as she walks about. The other goats in the paddock crowd her from time to time as if they are checking in with the elder of the yard but they soon wander off on their own. Mama is praying for twins and no more. I will take what we get; there is no changing it now anyway. So, we continue to wait. Mama and Victoria continue to fret but there is little that can accomplish so I let the two of them spend that energy as they see fit.
Right before I went to bed, Mama was heading out to do a final check on Millie and close up the chickens so I went with her. All was well in the goat barn so we headed through the garden to the coop and while we were there I asked Mama for the flashlight. I had made two trips through the garden earlier to get things needed to change how we fill the the trough in the barn lot. Neither time did I look to see if the seeds we planted over a week ago had sprouted. So, we did it by flashlight. Not only had they spouted, but the plants looked several days old. Many had started leafing out with the mature leaves that pop out after the sprout leaves help pierce the ground. Some looked like the plants were week old. It was pretty exciting. I can remember watering the garden on Friday evening and there was no evidence of growth so all this happened in the last four days. The storms we had come through Monday afternoon must have helped encourage the growth. Now if we can keep the rabbits, opossums, coons, deer and cattle from eating the plants we might have a good garden. We already have little yellow crook-necked squash, zucchini and cucumbers. We even have one tiny watermelon.
Cori shared with us that at the campground where they are staying they let the kids use the walkie talkies Grant had bought some time back as they crossed the campground to the play area. They were still in sight of the camper but to them it was big deal. Cori related the conversation as reported in: “We are crossing the street. We are going to the swings. We are going to leave the swings and climb in the tree.” A brief silence as they played. “We are headed back to the swings. I have to go to the bathroom so I am turning the walkie talkie over to Grant.” Etc. Cori said she was trying to wash the dished as all this was going but the kids expected an acknowledgement to each of their reports so that did not happen. Finally, she gave up and just enjoyed the moment.
Oh well, at least they took their responsibility to stay in touch seriously.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Well work, babies, moving

It’s been a few days since I have written. That does not mean nothing has been happening. I taught class all day Wednesday and Thursday and we were off Friday so my time has been pretty well occupied away from a computer. Evenings have been spent studying for the test we have tonight in FBI. All that being said, Mama and I were able to get a lot done at the farm with the extra day we were given.

I have been accumulating and assembling parts for the well in the barn lot over the past few weeks so that when I got the time I could put it in service. Thursday night I worked on a line that the cattle had trampled and bent where it comes through the slab. I had to bust up the slab to get to a part of the line where the repair could be made. I hated to do that but there was no other way. (I will have to repair that corner before I put up the walls of the well house.) Once that was done I got the water lines we laid a year ago hooked to the well and started the well. To my great disappointment, I could not get the water to come out of the yard hydrants at the end of those lines, even though there was pressure and flow at the well. Since Mama and I had to do some shopping that is where I left it Friday afternoon. 

Saturday morning, I had an idea. I rigged up a connection where I could hook the hose at the garden into the new lines and back charge them with water all the way to the well. When I got water flowing at each of the three hydrants I shut them off and let the pressure build. Then I opened the faucet at the well and got the flow there as well. When I started the well again, I had flow from that well to each hydrant. With that done, I spent some time disconnecting hoses from the house well and hooked up separate hoses to the hydrants fed by the barn well. Each of those is close to where we need them so it is a lot easier for Mama and I to fill waterers and troughs and to water the garden and flowerbeds. That was always the intent. It just took me a year to get to it.

We are anxiously watching for baby goats. Millie looks like she is ready to explode. She is starting to show signs of being ready to kid but has not delivered yet. In our cattle, Big Mama looks like she is about ready to give us a calf so we are monitoring her and the others. All of whom are due this month. When it happens it will be a pleasant surprise. We are praying for healthy deliveries. Last year #95 had a still born calf. We are really watching her.

Brittany and Andrew made it to Wichita over the weekend. They will get the keys to the house they closed on some time this morning. It was a painful process doing the purchase long distance. Some of the things being demanded of them and the realtor by the sellers seemed over the top. As it turned out, the sellers were attorneys, so their demands were a little out of the ordinary and very lopsided in their favor. It left Brittany and Andrew with a negative experience which I pray does not carry over into resentment towards the things they will have to do to the house they bought through the process. God will deal with the seller as He sees fit so there is no sense in spending any emotion energy there. I hope it is an exciting moment for them as they get to look over the house they will be calling home for the next five or so years.

It will be Maggie and Aaron and the kids turn to go through the moving process next month. Maggie is absolutely thrilled about it. Kind of.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Teaching, grooming, time off

I found out yesterday that I will be teaching tomorrow and Thursday. I was hoping not to have to do back to back eight-hour training sessions but that is not the way it worked out. My coworker, who was slated to give the training tomorrow, does not feel that she has had adequate time to prepare so she handed the class back over to me. I am not worried about teaching the material for that class. I feel well prepared for it. It is the Thursday class that I am more concerned about because it was scheduled rather suddenly and I have not had a lot of time to prepare for it. It will be the first time I have taught that class so it would have been a bit stressful under normal circumstances. Ordinarily, the classes would not fall consecutively since the Thursday class is given quarterly but I got lucky this week. It should not be a problem if my voice holds out. Last time I talked for the six plus hours of training I did not have the strength of voice to lead the singing at church that night.

This morning Mama is going to attempt to take Sam and Sasha to the vet for shots and grooming. She gets Sam sheered every year but we do not normally try anything like that with Sasha. She does not have to report to the school until 1 pm so her hope is that the dogs will be ready by noon and she can have them back home before she has to leave to meet the school kids as they head out for a track meet this evening. I think it is an overly ambitious goal, but Victoria is there to help her get the dogs loaded. (I do not like using the vehicles for hauling dogs but it is not a fight worth the emotional toil involved.) My real concern is Sasha. She is very timid and resistant to anything out of the ordinary. I hope Mama can keep her from running off once they get to the vet’s office. I am curious to see how things turns out. I hope it is less stressful for Mama than it will be for Sasha.

Both Mama and I will be off Friday. It is a scheduled holiday at my work but it is not typically one that the school takes. Since there are extra days build into the schedule they have elected to take the day off. It will be a much-needed break for me and Mama. I had originally thought about going down to Chappell Hill to collect the few items Martha is holding for me but have since decided against making the trip. Mama, Victoria and I have our first test for this semester of FBI on Monday and I have not studied well enough for it. I will not be able to really study until Thursday evening so making the trip would take that time away as well. It may be a small thing but I do not like to do poorly on tests. Anyway, there is a lot we can get done at the farm if we stay and work. It has been a while since I had a full day to devote to the effort and I am looking forward to it.

We are carefully watching the cows and our nanny. Babies should be arriving within the next couple weeks. We are praying for safe deliveries all the way around.

Monday, April 10, 2017

New fence, replanting, travel plans

While Mama, Victoria, Mr. Plumley and the Echeveria kids went to Trade Days in Bowie, I went bus calling but before I got the to the church I went to Tractor Supply and got the cattle and hog panels I needed for the garden. I decided that rather than reinforce the fence on the side the cattle have access to I would rebuild it with cattle panels. At least those are strong enough to withstand Big Mama’s attempts to crumple them. What remained of the garden is slowly recovering. The cooler weather and careful watering have revived the strawberry plants that were not completely uprooted. The plum trees will not fully recover this year so, hopefully, the leaves they have remaining will be enough to carry them through until next year. The pear trees are so old that they have plenty of reserves to make a comeback. We still have most of the potatoes and the plants that were eaten down are sending up new shoots. Fortunately, all my miniature and dwarf fruit trees were left alone.

The primary reason Mama went to Trade Days was to buy the plants to refill the raised bed. She was not aware of my plans to redo parts of the garden until she got home a saw it. I used a couple cattle panels for trellises for the green beans and sweet potatoes. I used a hog panel for the peas to attach to as the plants grow. It made the garden look very nice when I got the panels in place. I was working on planting the peas and green beans when Mama got back home with her crew. She loved the look. Mr. Plumley just moaned about the possibility of frost killing everything we were planting. He can be pretty negative but I suppose in his eighty plus years, he has seen a lot of negative things happen. I went ahead and planted the beans, peas and okra seeds. We will hope for the best. I hilled up the potatoes for the last time and cleaned the leaves and fronds out of the strawberry bed. Then we all took a nap.

Saturday evening, we planted the tomato, pepper, watermelon and squash plants. I spent a good deal of time watering the new plants. If it does not rain today I will water them again. I have found it best to water generously during the first week or so with new plants. Again, the cool evenings have really helped the plants to adapt to their new surroundings – as well as their full exposure to the sun. Fortunately, the way the garden faces, it only gets the later afternoon and evening sun. That is often enough to burn things up, but not yet. We still have two full rows and about half of the raised bed to populate but Mama is out of ideas for new residents. I have confidence she will come up with something soon but for the moment, the garden is fuller and looks better than in any of the previous years. Now if we can stay home long enough to tend to it we might have some good results from all our work.

Brittany and Andrew should be in Kansas this weekend and Maggie and Aaron and the kids will be getting packed to move next month. They should be in Wilmington late in May. Victoria is planning a trip to connect with Cori, Nate and the kids in early June, which she hopes will include me and Mama – at least for the trip over. I am not sure if I will be able to make that trip but for the moment she and Mama are planning as though I am able. Work has things scheduled for me into June and July which will require a work around of schedules. Fortunately, Mama will be off for those months.

So, our summer is filling up quickly.