Thursday, March 26, 2015

Not Garden???

With the proposed move we had not planned on a garden here. However with the delays from red tape we were fretting and really feeling discouraged with it all. 
We went to our local IGA last Friday for our bi-weekly grocery run and they had cabbage and broccoli seedlings out as well as onion sets. We looked at each other and Ralph got that gardening gleam in his eye! We talked about 2 seconds and then decided to go for it. We are planting a spring garden for greens and the like...that led to Irish potatoes as well!

I mean really....the birds are singing, the trees are budding and the daffodils are blooming. Spring is here and our fingers were just itching to get into the dirt.

Ralph went to Southern States to get some seed potatoes....well he cannot pass a seed stand for the life of him and he came home with a wide variety of seeds. These are common seeds that are well known to consumers, hybrids and heirloom, none are organic. They were on sale though and for this temporary garden will do just fine.

Detroit Dark Red
Hybrid Red Ace

White Icicle
White Tipped Scarlett

Purple Topped White Globe
Seven Top [Turnip Greens]
Amber Globe
American Purple Top Yellow [Rutabaga]

Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch Kale [53 days]
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce [43 days]
Danvers Half Long Carrots [70 days]
Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach [45 days]
Rhubarb Swiss Chard [60 days]

He did actually get seed potatoes as well! While he was selecting seed potatoes I found a potato site I really like. The Potato Association of America, there is a lot of information here and write ups on a wide selection of  varieties 

Mid Season
Irish Cobbler
Early to Mid season
Yukon Gold
Early to Mid Season

Red Pontiac
Mid Season
 The plan is to be able to have fresh greens as needed or wanted, then use the potatoes as new or baby potatoes.

We  just feel better having made this decision. Knowing we have something to do in the earth is good for our souls! Never mind the palate. It sounds funny but we just feel revitalized after having got the tubers in the ground and the seeds planted. The garden plot looks hopeful again, not abandoned and unloved!

So now we have 83 potential hills of potatoes, two areas of onions, planted closely for scallions, 12 cabbage and 16 broccoli. Then four rows of mixed greens that should just be fun to watch grow. I can hardly wait for the first radishes of the season mixed with greens into a fine spring salad! Oh and new potatoes Oh MY!


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Planning or Dreaming... Part 2- Fiona's version.

Ralph wanted me to do a secondary post to his Planning or Dreaming post of March 9th.

I grew up on a small farm in a economically poor area of Alberta, Canada. We were officially poor although I did not realize that until I was a young adult. We grew our own food and My mother made us our clothes and we were simply happy little ragamuffins with hopes no different than any other farm children of that era [the 50's and 60's.]

Retirement seemed centuries away. In fact it was simply never discussed or thought of at all. We farmed, that was what we did and what I grew up to do. I was blessed as I have done almost everything I have ever wanted to do. I grew up thinking of things I wanted to DO not stuff I wanted to buy or have . I was a range rider on a 100,000 acre ranch in the interior of British Columbia, I saved money and went to France and England. I bred and raised Appaloosa Horses with success in the show ring and exports to Italy and Great Britain. I raised Purebred Shorthorn beef cattle and saw all sorts of places in North America showing them; from The Houston Fat Stock Show, Denver's National Western Stock Show and the Royal Canadian Winter fair as well as the Calgary Stampede.

I drove Highway tractor with my ex-husband and that allowed me to see even more of this continent from the Alaska Highway to isolated farms in northern Saskatchewan. I saw steel plants in Ontario and hauled maple syrup from Quebec. I saw the back side of cities and industrial areas...we delivered loads at night when we wouldn't disturb the city folk. We saw homeless lined up at soup kitchens in big cities and ate at family owned diners in tiny towns on lonely highways. It was an eye opening experience on this vast continent surrounded by the wealth of North America. I remember thinking the poor here have it pretty good compared to the poor in other parts of the world. I remember thinking how lucky I was!

Well I am still lucky, blessed is more like it. I have still got dreams and things I want to do. Yes I still think of doing things, not getting stuff to compete with the Jones. Meeting Ralph in the Fall of 2005 and finding such a good man made dreams I had put away come out of the closet. Dreams of a home with someone to share it with and work with. We made the decision to start a life together and began to make plans to get that done. We looked long and hard at the 159 acres I owned. The farm had been in my family since 1917. There was a great year round spring of pure, cold water, good pasture and rich black loam soil. A wonderful set of neighbors and friends for support and help if needed. A small orchard of crabapples hardy enough to survive the long, cold winter's . Could we make it work?

This was when dreams and plans collided. My farm house was in dire need of major repairs. It was small and built in 1929. The foundations were slipping away on one side and the roof needed work. Was it feasible to fix it and what would the cost be? The growing season was supposed to be 90 days frost free but in 2008 I had exactly 72 days that let my garden live before a killing frost totaled it.

Ralph and I talked long hours about what to do and decided to subdivide off 80 acres, sell it to re-invest into the 80 remaining acres. That would give us enough land to have small livestock and grow the feed to get them through hard winters. There is an old saying I think of often. “Man plans- God acts”.

The Municipal district denied my subdivision request, the land is zoned agricultural and cannot be divided smalled than a quarter section. [160 acres] I could cut off the home stead which is a 10 acre allotment but that was not feasible as to have access to the road and the spring both, I needed 15 acres. That plan crumbled into dust.

Then something happened, Ralph got stuck, he was making a delivery of orange juice concentrate to a plant in Calgary, Alberta. He would schedule his trip so he would deliver the juice and then on the way to pick up apple juice in Washington state he would spend his down time at the farm and we would work like crazy, getting wood, fixing things and working the garden. On his winter stop overs he would plow the driveway and chop and split wood. When he parked the Tanker for this visit a wicked winter storm blew in. We dragged the rig out of the yard with the tractor after battling to get the tractor started in the severe cold. I wasn't really that cold as it was a normal winter storm to me but Ralph is a “Southern” boy!

This adventure did get me to thinking though. I wondered about this climate I lived in...could we really do what we wanted here? Was there enough time in summer to grow the garden we would need to feed us all year? Could we deal with the house and fix it as we could? Dreams are well and good but sometimes reality knocks on the door and says..take a hard look! I knew then making this place work was just a matter how much we planned it was not going to work. The farm had worked for me and my family for many years, but the new age of agriculture had changed that with the destruction of small farms. The climate was also a huge issue. It was a big step, but I decided to list the farm for sale. I think Ralph was worried that I would regret selling this place I had grown up with, but I have not. As to the sale, it took a lot longer than we expected to sell the place but it was the right thing to do.

Now we could get to planning our next step. We decided to go south to a better, more temperate climate. We made plans to buy land in West Virginia where Ralph was born and his family is still located. Now dreams and plans could come together. We had learned so much from our research. As we waited for the land to sell, a lot of our plans had changed or been modified (such as we are now looking at Kentucky. West Virginia had too many problems with mineral rights.). New ideas and realizations had surfaced. The basic dream is still there. Part of that dream is a good sized piece of land with a mix of cropland and woods, some good flat areas to garden, an area for an orchard with fruit and nut trees, perhaps a pond for waterfowl, scrubby brush for the goats and pigs, a good house (it doesn't have to be fancy, but it does have to be in good repair), and buildings that can be used as a shop and/or barn.

We plan for all the contingencies we can think of and our plans are flexible within our basic framework. We want to work at growing our own food. This will be good for us on so many levels: the food needs to be healthy and drug and chemical free, the physical exercise of doing the gardening, the handling of the animals. The mental satisfaction of having something of our own that we are working on together (of us just being together and talking), getting back to the rhythm of waking early in the mornings with the birds and going to bed at night tired and ready for sleep after a long day of doing things we need and want to do, and this is much more productive than buying a gym membership and walking on a treadmill.

I think the disconnect of growing food for your family and all that that entails is part of the decay of the world around us. Planning a garden is a satisfying adventure that combines dreams of the taste of summer tomatoes, and the actuality of eating those tomatoes. It becomes an adventure that starts with the arrival of the first seed catalog, to the sun warmed earth of spring, to the juice running down your chin. Then the final stage, using some of those home grown tomatoes you preserved in a sauce for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. A cycle that starts again with the arrival of the next years seed catalogs!

Making plans with your husband or wife gives you both a sense or purpose and direction, something to strive toward, together. If you have children or grandchildren those shared times together become even more valuable. The other part of life, dreams allow you to look to the future and that keeps you more positive, positive thinking has benefits of its own.

We all need dreams, and we can all plan on working toward those dreams, regardless of our ages. However, we have to be honest with ourselves and be able to recognize attainable and realistic dreams and not confuse them with pipe dreams. I have learned so much as we have planned for our future and I know there are still many things to do yet. I just know we have to dream big but plan realistically and sometimes the two come together. Ralph and I are so lucky to be able to walk this adventure together and to be so blessed by God as we travel. He put Adam and Eve in the garden and I often believe its why there is so much joy and peace in our hearts as we work the land and pursue our life together.

God Bless you all.

The old home May!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Unrealistic Expectations

We received a comment that got us to talking. This post has nothing to do with this nice lady. She was only the trigger that got us to talking. This post has nothing to do with her!

BUT!!! People can be idiots. We got to talking about some of the things we have come across.

Fiona's old homestead was built in the early nineteen hundreds. When there were no cars, no plumbing, no electricity. She was questioned as to why the house was built where it was, close to a coulée. This man was very upset. His words. He couldn't understand how someone could be so stupid to build so close to a ravine with no room for a shop.  The answer: The source of water was a spring down in the coulée. In the winter, the temperature was quite often twenty to forty below zero. Not just cold, but very cold! And with a stiff breeze on top of that. When you went to get water (no pumps – no electricity!), you didn't want to carry the water hundreds of yards back to the house – their log cabin. And, no, it didn't have a dirt floor. Way back in the eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds, people built close to their water. And water dictated where you built your house. It was a huge matter of safety from the elements and convenience. There was no electricity and no pumps. Cattle drink a lot of water. It all had to be hand carried, in the cold. That is why the barn was close to the house and the spring. People have myopic vision. They see things through their own eyes, in the here and now. They can't see things the way they used to be or the why of how things get done. Country life is different and things have to be done differently.

We thought we might try to give you some other examples of stories of what we have come across.

We were looking at a nice farm that didn't meet what we wanted. The people were very nice. They told us of an older couple from Connecticut that had driven down to see the farm. They wanted to buy it for retirement. They wanted to raise five or six chickens for fresh eggs. This was sixty acres for six eggs. The man seemed fine and was into the tour. But the woman kept hanging back and was quiet. At the end of the tour, they asked the couple what they thought. The woman said the place smelled. We were there. Yes, the place smelled. But it didn't smell bad. It smelled like a farm. And even that was light compared to what it could have smelled like. They (she) were city folks with no country experience, just “Green Acres” dreams. They got a rude education.

A young woman in her early thirties was getting a divorce. She wanted a lifestyle change. She was going to move to the country and raise animals on a farm. She would be single and had never done any of this type of work. She had lots of questions of: “how do you ...” It was clear that she was going to be doing a lot of learning. Or starving. Her ex- was going to be doing the financing of her project, according to her!

Another woman wanted to know where the street lights and neighbors were.

Another place had a couple from upstate New York visit. He wanted to be a “Gentleman Farmer”. Neither of them had any country life experience. Her first question was: “Where is the nearest Starbuck's?” This family told us that when they said: “It is a little over a hundred miles that away”, that the visit was over. The Upstaters got in their car and left.

Some friends of ours in south-central Kentucky had their place up for sale. An out-of-state couple were coming by to look at it. They called for directions. Bobby gave them the local directions. They knew the couple was less than fifteen minutes away. After an hour and still no visitors, Bobby called them. They were on their way back home. They had driven by and saw the place. It was too isolated. They weren't interested. The map, the listing, and Google maps all showed where it was – isolated, on a dirt road.

Most listings in our search area say “only minutes from Wal-Mart”. None say anything about Target or Starbuck's or Macy's. A lot of these towns have an IGA supermarket and that is it for groceries. No fancy amenities need apply.

Another place had a young couple look at their place. The couple were serious about moving to the farm life. From the questions, it was apparent they had never farmed. He finally asked them the big question. They said that no, they had never farmed or even lived in the country. He talked with them about their expectations and desires. He laid the life out to them. Their bubble was burst. They left. They had an unrealistic dream that wasn't based on fact or research.

Another place, the owner laid out the daily chores: fence repair, haying, calving, lambing, crops, canning, etc. They said they didn't realize there was so much work. They left.

To live in the country requires you to give up a lot of the city conveniences and niceties, and crime. But, you gain the country and its benefits. You have animals and your gardens. You have fresh food. You have your family. You have fresh air. You have a quieter lifestyle. You may even have to talk to your spouse for a change.

Sit down with your “significant other” and make a list of what you want in your future (not just you, but your spouse, also. Your definition of “country” and theirs may be way different. One of you may be thinking “suburbs”.) and a timeframe/schedule for accomplishing those goals. Don't dream or guess. Go to the country for a drive: day and evening. You'll be surprised how dark it can be out there. And the weird and horrifying sounds. Find a farm “bed and breakfast” and spend a few days. You may even be allowed to help in the fields and kitchen. Jump in and get your hands dirty. Don't just dream, learn. Actually do what you can to become part of your dream before you actually buy the farm. Do you have an aunt or uncle that has a farm? Or a cousin? Or...

Evaluate your skills against the skills needed. You don't know what skills are needed? Learn! Before you go hunting. What can you do? What do you WANT to do - with the land and with yourselves? Educate yourselves. And that appendage you have... That thing called a spouse? You are 100% gun-ho. They are doing this just to please you! What are you going to do when their 10% gun-ho goes to zero? Do you know what DEEP do-do is? You will. Big time! You are a team. Act like it! Don't force a bad situation into something you don't want anything to do with.

If the PAIR of you – that means 100% of both of you - can enjoy this, then by all means, go for it. But get 100% times two! No half way stuff or “they will come around”. That trap door will dump a ton of bricks on your head.

This is a big step, an expensive step. Be sure of what you are stepping into. And good luck with whatever direction you go. And take God with you.

May God grace your steps and guard your future!


[A note from Fiona]
This is a follow up to the Plans and Dreaming post that caused havoc! 

I overhauled the blog and removed the calender feature. It seems to have fixed the problem according to tewshooz who noticed problems a while ago. Thank you all for putting up with the confusion.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Planning or Dreaming?

In the military, it is said "There is a fine line between a fool and a hero". Well, the same can be said for dreaming and planning. We can only make plans on what information we have, the rest is really just dreaming, and hoping or wishing. Fiona and I have talked about this many times. We are hoping and praying we aren't just dreaming, but really working off of what information and knowledge we have. I guess time will tell.

We have had numerous people “question” why we are wanting to do what we are wanting to do and why are we doing it the way we are planning on doing it. Please, don't anyone take offense. By making us question what and why we are doing things just helps us to do better. It makes us and our plans stronger. And it isn't just the internet, it is neighbors, family, friends, co-workers. Sometimes, it seems no one understands. That is fine with us, we aren't doing this for them. Fiona and I have always done things “our way”. This post is not for any of you (or about any of you). This is for us. It is to reaffirm to us what we are doing and why. It is to help us rethink what is happening. It is to help us recommit to our directions and plans. It is to reposition our thoughts and plans to the here and now. It is to shine a light on our future and its path.

I am sixty-five and do not draw social security. I still work. We both still have reasonably good health. Nothing that farm work wouldn't help. Too much sitting around and thinking/worrying. I never have been good at the “laying our worries at His feet” thing. The longer I delay social security, the larger the check. But, “if you should die, you will have gained nothing!” is always put forward to me. So? What concern is that. Dead is dead. I won't be worrying about the “what if”. If I am disabled, I'll still be getting my larger check. What about enjoying your retirement? Daa? That is what life is for! Enjoy it! A preacher once said: The breath you are taking, the heartbeat you are experiencing, are the last ones you are guaranteed. That next one may never arrive. I have seen too many people make retirement plans. Then, one or both have a heart attack, stroke, cancer, or something, and they die or are crippled/disabled for the rest of their lives. Their savings are wiped out. Their retirement dreams are lost. What did they accomplish? I wanted to travel and see the country. That was one of my retirement dreams. I have seen all fifty states, much of Canada, and some of Mexico, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong, etc. My retirement dream has been satisfied! Now what? I have had to make new retirement dreams. (If she isn't hiding some dark secret from me, Fiona is in the same position in her life.) We both want to be as self-sufficient as possible for as long as possible. A big part of that is growing our own plants and animals. For food and enjoyment. Yes, we intend to eat them. (Or, as I tease her, “Mine are pets, yours are for eating!” And that gets a “Why do mine always have to make the ultimate sacrifice?”)

In case I have led you astray, farming is not our retirement dream. Farming is just a means to an end. I grew up in the hills of West Virginia. My Mother had a small fabric shop. One day a woman came in for some thread or something. Her husband was with her. My Father just happened to be in the shop at the time. That man and my Father got to looking at each other. You know how you see someone and you recognize them, but can't place them. Well, that is how they were. They got to talking and figured out that thirty some years before, they had worked together. My Father asked him what he was doing now. He said: “Nothing. I just retired and all I do is sit and watch TV. I have a yard about the size of this building and I pay a boy to mow it for me. All I do is sit and watch TV.” My Father told him that if that is all he did, he would be dead in six months. Two months later, his obituary was in the paper. He sat down and died.

My earliest memories of my Dad's Father was of him in his early seventies. He had a farm, two to five cows he milked (by hand) twice a day, a bunch of chickens, several pigs/hogs, two or three horses, and a large garden. He used the horses to work the garden. He grew almost all of the food for him and my Grandmother, for our family, and for the animals. (We went over and helped them a good bit.) She died at eighty-eight and him at ninety-three.

My Mother's side of the family has trouble with ninety-five. Her Grandmother died at ninety-five. Her Father died at ninety-five. And her Mother died at ninety-five. Her Grandmother fell down the steps off the back porch when she was ninety-one and broke her hip in seventeen places. She was going out to her garden and to feed her chickens. At ninety-four, she got off the walker and on a cane. My Mother's Father had to give up his spring ritual when he was eighty-eight. Every spring, he would hunt down a she-coon and steal one of her cubs. He would raise it all summer. It was free and had the roam of the place. Every fall, whatever coon he had would run off back to the wild. He would be coonless until the next spring. At eighty-eight, he said he just couldn't get around in the woods like he used to. His first and middle name was: David Crockett. Go figure! And her Mother had three gardens and an orchard. At ninety-one, they talked her into giving up one of her three gardens. She refused to give up the other two or the orchard. She had a cellar in the basement. It was so full, every summer she had to dump older food over the hill so she could use the jars for canning new food. And she used the food in the cellar. She had a good ten years worth of food in there. And I never saw any of it spoiled. And it always tasted great.

In Deadwood, S. D., I went through Boot Hill. I got several surprises. I thought Boot Hill was for the poor and outlaws. The graves were well marked. There were bankers and merchants and lawmen, etc. buried there. There were women buried there. There were children buried there. There were Chinese buried there. There were mass graves from mining accidents. It appears that is where everyone was buried. But what really got me was the ages. There were numerous accident victims from farm, forest and mining. But, if it wasn't an accident, they fell into two classes: the elderly and the young. Children as babies (infant mortality) and childhood diseases. And then the elderly: in their eighties and nineties. I hadn't thought of people from the 1800's living into their eighties and nineties. Average life expectancy of forties? Fiona and I were talking about this. The high childhood death rate lowered the adult life expectancy to such a low level. If you made it to adulthood, you had a long life ahead of you. But the death of children pulled the overall life expectancy down into the forties. Even the presidents had the same troubles. President Garfield had seven children. Three of them died in childhood: at one, two, and four. The others made it to seventy or eighty plus. Average Garfield life expectancy of forties. And then medicine started kicking in and helping the children. The increased life expectancy was from children living longer, not adults. Adults were still dieing at the same ages.

My point to this rambling is this: The man in my Mother's shop sat down and died. The people in Deadwood that didn't die in an accident, lived a frontier type life and lived into their eighties and nineties. My Mother and Father's families lived active lives and lived into their eighties and nineties. It is: “Use it or lose it”. Be active or die. Oh, yes. A lot of it is the luck of the draw: genetics. Good genetics is a great help. But genetics is only part of the game. It needs help. The more help you give it, the better off you'll be. We're not guaranteed that next breath, that next heartbeat. When God says come, you're gone. But, be active. Do something to help yourself. Don't sit down and wait for the grim reaper to come and harvest another soul.

The farm is our “life's gym”. It is our way of being active: mentally and physically. We know that time is running out. But we don't want to exist, we want to live our lives, to be active. We both like plants and animals. Being with them and working with and for them will be nice. Being able to eat plants and animals that don't have all of the pharma and chemicals will be really beneficial for our health. The fresh air to breathe, even when you're in the barn shoveling manure, is something to look forward to. Visions of “Green Acres”, I am not having. We feel that growing as much as possible of our own plant and animal food is a must, not just a desire or dream. So, our retirement dreams come down to living a strong, healthy lifestyle that nourishes our mind and body. Being able to share our bounty with family and friends is just a nice bonus.

Why Kentucky??? It is such a poor state. I grew up in a poor state: West Virginia. We used to say: thank goodness for Kentucky. They were poorer than us.

Communism and unions are both great ideas. Until you get people involved. They use it for their own benefit, not the people's benefit. How did Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton become millionaires while the rest of their people are so poor? I know, an over simplification. Well, maybe wealth is the same way. There is nothing wrong with being rich, until you get people involved. I know, it's not the money, it is the love of that money that is the problem. A view from life's highway: it is the poor man that will stop and help you while the rich man drives by laughing at you and your luck. Oh, the poor man wants to be rich, for sure. But, usually, he never will be. A poor man may not have much, but if you are willing, he will usually share it with you in your time of need. A rich man doesn't have enough to share. Oh, to be rich! But, oh, more so, to have a soul.

We have numerous trips to Kentucky. We have no problems with poor people. They have been wonderful to us. They would make great neighbors. If you decide to join us in Kentucky, leave your home and join us there, don't bring your home with you. If your home is so great, stay there. The biggest complaints in Texas about Californians is their desire to make Texas into California. If California is so great, stay in California. Don't come to Texas. Come to Texas to be a Texan, not a Californian. Be willing and be prepared to change and join the locals. Don't come in and try to change them. And don't lament what you left. If you miss it, keep it to yourself. Or, go back home and leave us alone.

Why Kentucky? We will be on a fixed retirement income. Lower cost of living equals our money going further. Poor state? Less demand for the rich amenities that add very little to life's worth. Rich people are often hollow people. They have a hole in their life. They need more. They just can't be happy. Possessions can't fill the hole. Only God can. Rich or poor, we all have that hole. Years ago, I read of a reporter having an interview with John D. Rockefeller. The way I remember the story is that John D. was the richest man in the world. At the end of the interview, the reporter told John D. that he didn't really seem to be happy. He asked John D. what it would take to make him happy. John D. is supposed to have said”Just a little bit more”. The richest man in the world needed a little bit more to be happy. And that little bit more still wouldn't make him happy. Only God could. What is that about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven?

Teasing aside, Kentucky is not that poor. It has poor areas, but it has richer areas, also. Just like anywhere else. 

Kentucky has a lower cost of living, so our money goes further. And it has a climate suitable to us for raising crops and animals without burning up (further south) or freezing to death (further north). Oh, we know, it gets hot, and cold, there. But, it is some of the best we could find for a balanced mix. And the cost of land is a half to a third of what we would find around here in Virginia for the same size property. And, the land would lie better there compared to land here in Virginia. Why Kentucky? Price of the land, cost of living, and the climate. 

For us, I guess our working band was I-40 to I-70. Further south, too hot. Further north, too cold. Rain fall for Kentucky is about 45 inches. Good for the gardening and pasture. Further west, it starts getting too dry.

Mineral rights? In West Virginia, they are almost non-existent. A drilling rig can go up right outside your bedroom window. They can strip mine right up to your front door. That means they bulldoze your orchard and forest and driveway and whatever else you hold dear or have been working and living for. You lose control of your life and destiny. In Kentucky, most of the places we have looked at, you get the mineral rights. We aren't interested in exercising those rights, we just don't want you coming in and exercising them over our desires.

The same thing for the trees. We want trees. We want them for their beauty and the wildlife in them. We aren't interested in logging the trees.

And that brings us full circle to: Why in the world do we want such a large piece of land? Kentucky enables us to get the larger piece of land because of the cheaper prices. But the price is cheaper because we aren't looking in the city or in recreational areas or tourist areas. We are looking in the country for farm land, out away from the towns and cities. Out where the land is cheaper. Out where people usually know their neighbors and talk to them and help each other. With a larger tract of land, you don't have people crowding you and being nosey. Poking into your business. You have less zoning. You don't have people telling you that you can't have chickens or goats or pigs or a garden in the front of the house. But, the driving force was cheaper land so we could have more land. With more land, we have more options. We can have the trees. Move forward twenty years. We need money. Sell off the trees to get money. We need more money, sell off a chunk of land. We need more money, sell another lot. The trees and land are a bank account for future use, if needed. Cut and dried. Pure mercenary!

We don't think much about the selling of the trees or the lots. That is “what if” stuff. That is backup strategy stuff. But we all should be looking at the future and asking ourselves what we would be able to do. We want to grow our own food: plants and animals. We want to keep nosey neighbors at a distance. We want long term strategy help. The “what if” stuff. The long term bank account stuff.

Kentucky seemed to let us have our cake and eat it, too.


PS: I'm into “hit and run”. I write. Pass to Fiona. She corrects my hillbilly ways. She posts. And then she takes replies, questions, and flack. I get home and she passes the sanitized version on to me. So, please, PLEASE! Any questions or comments, please pass them along. It is a way of us getting other views and observations. It helps us. It is a way for us to learn. We don't have all the answers. We need your help. In the end, we benefit from you. And that saves us money! Thank you for taking the time to read this and our other posts and for helping us in our adventure along life's way. May God bless and reward you and be with you and yours.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

First Aid...Can you Sew up a wound?

Ralph and I are busy planning and waiting for some issues to be resolved. I have been sorting through things to keep and things to move. I have saved a lot of rags and old T shirts. I was looking at them and it made me think about first aid on the farm or in a crisis situation.

Living and Farming an hour from a Veterinary has made me learn a lot of basic animal care. having horses means I can deal with wire cuts and cuts in general..horses seem to be able to find anything sharp and hit it somehow. I can clean and disinfect a wound and I can stitch one up.

Now could I do it if Ralph got a severe cut and we were far from help or help was not available? It made me think.  I looked at the T shirts and realized they would make great bandages, soft, with enough stretch to be gentle but enough stiffness to hold an injury. I then got out our First aid kit. It is stocked with a wide range of band aids and wraps. Safety pins and disinfectant and iodine. The usual stuff. It is a well set up kit but it obviously lacks some of the more serious equipment. I can get the things I need, a good set of forceps, clamps and the like. Sterile thread or clips as well. But here is the rub...can I stick a needle through the skin of someone I love and deal with the injury and his pain?

I know I can be cool under stress, I had a horrific experience with a neighbors wife and her insane horse. We were moving cattle and he bolted with her and ran off...I was riding a young horse and it took time for me to get him up to speed to try to catch up. When I did, she had been thrown off into a barbed wire fence and then kicked. I dealt with it. She had a massive scalp wound and was in shock. No cell phones at the time and no towers anyway. I did what I had to do and got her to the emergency room almost an hour away. I was pretty shaky after that but I knew then I can do things if I have to.

Then again a friend is not the same as your partner. So I am thinking about it and now I know I need to learn more about human physiology and structure.
I have talked to Ralph about it and he agrees. He has not had to deal with major livestock trauma but he is a Marine!

Just something to think about, do you think you can stitch up a wound?

Take care and be safe...some things you should know but never have to use!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Sally and The Snowbank...a tale of Modern Traveling Preparedness

Sally was a modern girl, she had been to a top University, earned a degree and now had a plum of a job an hour away from her classy condominium. She enjoyed her job at one of the states top law firms. It was challenging and had an element of soap opera about it, most of all it was allowing her to live a very stylish lifestyle. She had a walk in closet in her master bedroom that attested to her expensive taste.

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 She opened her eyes with a start as her alarm clock chirruped and her day began. There was a lot to do to prepare for her commute and the day at work. She rolled over and sat up, already thnking of what she would wear. Her condo was awesome. It had a heated two car garage and that made winter so easy. She never had to brush snow off her brand new SUV and she never had to put on those hideous snow boots ordinary people in the suburbs had to wear! The underground parking at work made snow gear a thing of the past. She went from dry warm garage to dry warm garage. Ahh it was the life.

As she padded to the bathroom she turned on the sound system for some background noise. The announcer was going on about a cold front moving mundane, she used the remote and changed the station to some upbeat music to start her day.
It took her about an hour to get ready and have healthy Granola bar with a drizzle of chocolate for breakfast. She whipped up a Coffee Latte for the drive in and poured it in to her chrome thermal go-cup. With one final glance at herself in the full length mirror she was ready. She had to admit she looked professional and elegant. A short black skirt accentuated her legs, the 4 inch Louboutin spike heels added to the effect...legs that wouldn't stop! Her dark cream blouse was housed in a sleek gray jacket with a band of sleeve showing at each cuff. She took one last look at her hair, a short sharp business cut with a hint of tousle made her rich auburn hair look European and wealthy chic!

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She was prepared for anything the day could throw at her.

The SUV was nice and warm when she stepped into it. She loved the remote start and the way it allowed her to wear nothing more than the light jacket to work. She checked her I-phone for calls and texts and pushed the remote garage door opener. With her thumb she scrolled down a long list of text's and she noted one from her mother asking if she had heard about the storm headed her way...her mother always worried about the weather. Sally wondered if that was all old people had to talk about. Sighing she took a sip of the Latte and then put the cup in the cup holder and set to back out of the garage.

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She was a little surprised at the weather...the door had opened to show a bit of a snow squall. She always kept the heavy drapes closed in her condo closed to show off their velvety texture and to keep any stray morning light from bothering her while she slept. Nothing to worry about, she had this great SUV with four wheel drive, she could handle it. She did turn the heat up a bit though as she turned onto the highway.

She had driven this route enough to have it almost totally memorized, she had time to answer some phone calls. She was a safe driver and used the Bluetooth capability of the vehicle. Staying safe was something she tried to do and anyway it was pretty cool. She glanced at the gauges and noted to herself she had better fuel up on the way home tonight after work, maybe before she went to supper with Derek from International Legal. Her commute usually took about an hour, time she spent on the phone or glancing at paperwork. Today, she sighed, it was going to take a bit longer, people were going way slower than they needed to. She thought everyone should have a four wheel drive!

As she continued down the road she noticed there was a lot less traffic than normal and the road surface was getting to be a bit more snow covered all the time. Occasionally a gust of wind would blow snow across the road in front of her. It made the visibility drop. She turned the heat up another notch. It seemed the storm was coming toward her and getting worse by the minute. What was it the weather guy had said? Sally thought maybe she could get more information so she changed the station from pop to the weather station. Sure enough they were going on about the storm again. It was coming in from Canada and was starting to dump inches of snow in places. She glanced at the clock on the screen on the dash, she was just a half hour from work. It wouldn't get much worse before she got there. They were going on like it was the end of the world not just a bit of winter driving.

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Sally was beginning to deal with one more phone call, one from her best friend, they had planned to go shopping at that trendy little shoe store a block away from the office at lunch. The shoes there were just fabulous. Perhaps Sally was thinking about the shoes just a bit too much because as she rounded a turn the SUV hit a patch of drifted snow covering some ice and lost traction! The SUV was heavy and the momentum Sally had was enough to send the big vehicle into a skid! It was almost slow motion as it went across the oncoming lane and over the edge of the shoulder. It continued down slope for about thirty feet before stopping in a snow bank along some trees. Sally gave a small delayed cry and couldn't quite believe what had just happened. She was a bit shaken up and lucky for her the vehicle was just fine. The slope she had come down was not as steep as many and there had been no danger of rolling. She shifted to park and assessed her situation.

She looked back up the bank to see her tracks, they were slowly filling with snow. Ahhhh, she had better call for a tow truck and then work. She reached for her I-phone to find she had lost reception and now seemed to be parked in a dead zone. She would have to get up to the road to get help and call. She undid her seatbelt and opened the door. The cold hit her like a blast of pure ice! She didn't want to walk in that, hey she had a four wheel drive, the slope wasn't bad she should be able to drive back up it. She pushed the 4x4 button and engaged drive, she gave the vehicle some gas and the engine came to life, the SUV tried to grip the slope but there was just enough moisture and snow to stop it from making any headway. There it sat, spinning and roaring but going nowhere.

Sally gritted her teeth, she was going to have to get to the road, she wondered why no one had looked over the edge of the road to see who had slipped off but as she looked back up the slope she could see why, the tracks were already filled and the snow was coming down way harder. She sighed as she swung out of the vehicle, these were her favorite shoes. Now she learned something about heels. They stick into soft ground and then they don't want to come out. As she took her first step her shoe stayed where it was, stuck, and her barefoot was suddenly buried in bitter cold snow, right up to her dainty ankle! She shrieked and jumped back to the vehicle! Suddenly that slope looked like Mt. Everest or the Arctic, unattainable.

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It was precisely at this moment the engine shuddered and coughed to a stop. Out of gas! The angle it was sitting at had caused anther unforeseen circumstance....the low fuel level had been made worse, the fuel had all drained to the opposite side of the intake. It was not getting fuel although it would have been just fine in the highway! Sally just sat there stunned, how could this happen she asked herself, why me? I am always ready for anything, always prepared. I am a modern and independent woman. She was looking up the slope to the highway and dreading the walk in bare feet and her suit jacket. She was going to get frozen and ruin her suit. It was a disaster! She cupped her face in her hands and began to cry. She thought of those clunky old snow boots from childhood and how warm they kept her feet. She remembered her Father telling her to always keep her vehicle full of fuel in winter. She was getting ready for a good cry when a sudden tap on the window made her look up.

  A state trooper was standing there holding up her shoe with a wry grin. She opened the window. “Are you alright Mame,” he asked?

A few hours later Sally was soaking up heat from her fireplace, the SUV wasn't safely in the garage yet, it still had to be towed. She had called work to find the office had closed due to the storm. The rescue by the young trooper had been so lucky. The State police had received a call from a home across the valley from where Sally went into the ditch, they had seen the vehicle and called for help. He gave her a stern lecture about preparedness and made arrangements to have her picked up and the SUV towed.

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Sally contemplated just what had happened and how she had been totally at a loss as to what to do, worse yet she was completely unprepared for cold weather and any kind of problem. She was making plans....the unprepared Sally was gone. As soon as the storm cleared she was going shopping, this time she would get her Mother and they would head to Eddie Bauer...yes you could still be stylish and prepared and warm. She smiled at the thought, comparing her beautiful and now ruined heels to a pair of clunky snow boots. Then she stood up, walked to the windows and pulled back the drapes to watch the snow fall...she was a lucky, lucky woman!

Are you prepared?

 Thank you Washington State Department of Highways for this simple but excellent list of things to have with you when traveling in winter.