Tuesday, September 2, 2008

August in Review

August has gone and September has come. It's hard to believe--where has all that time gone?!? It wasn't too long ago that I couldn't' hardly wait for the snow to melt and spring to arrive. And just a few days ago (or so it seems) wasn't it June? And, why, it seems like just yesterday or the day before it was July. But now the calender tells me it's September already. It doesn't seem possible.

Today is the first day of mandatory lockup (I mean school!) for the children in our area; the prison buses are running again, and the neighborhood is strangely quiet. Gone are the golden days of freedom....

At PotterVilla Academy the school year is also due to begin shortly--we traditionally start the Monday of Dad's birthday week, which this year is September 8th. (Dad's birthday is the 7th) So Jonathan will soon be back to calculus, advanced physics, and band practices. I'm really glad that I've officially graduated so I don't have to go back to books. As it says in Ecclesiastics: "Much study wearies the body, and of the making of many books there is no end." I would add a hearty 'Amen' to that! I'm becoming more restless as the years go by, I think. (Is it possible to grow into ADD?)

As I sit here and type, I wonder how I ever was able to sit still for an hour or two of Saxon math a few years ago. Back a few years ago (say six or eight) I was an avid
reader (is 'avid' a strong enough word I wonder?). I would sit (or lay) for hours on end reading. Historical fiction by G.A. Henty was probably my favorite. I also like books by Kjelgaard --he wrote about men, hunters and trappers by trade, living out in the wilds with their dogs. Irish Red, Big Red, Sean, Smokey (?) were some of my favorites too. I don't remember if Kjelgaard wrote Two Against the North too, or if that was by somebody else. I also kinda liked Where the Red Fern Grows although it is kinda sad too as I remember. Another historical fiction I really liked was Mara Daughter of the Nile--that kept you on the edge of your seat the whole book. Even earlier reading I liked was The Happy Hollisters, The Boxcar Children and of course the Little House books. Later I had to do some reading for a Lit. class--The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Cyrano De Bergerac (or cry nose de bugerback, as I liked to call him). I didn't much care for those two. I didn't like Frankenstein either. Why would anyone think that a book that was created because of a contest to see who (of three authors) could write the most hideous horror story would be a classic?!??!!?? (by the way, Frankenstein won hands down) I didn't care for Kipling either. At least his novels...the short stories were pretty good--like The Capture of Red Chief. I also tried the Sugar Creek Gang, but I think that I tried them too late, and they didn't seem very exciting compared to conquering armies and war heroes. Of course I also liked My Side of the Mountain, Robinson Crusoe, and The Swiss Family Robinson, and Mark Twain stories. (now what was the purpose of writing all this?.....) (oh yeah....I remember now) These days I don't read much. Mainly because I know that if a pick up a book one of two things will happen: either I'll soon lose interest and/or need to move on to my next project and then not come back to it till I can't remember what is happening, or I'll suddenly become so engrossed that all I'll do is read the book until I finish it (to the neglect of pretty much all else). Usually what happens is the former, but every so often, say once or twice a year, I'll just drop everything and read for a couple of days. And then I feel guilty for not getting anything done! Such is life. :-)


On the radio just now
(actually internet radio--Rejoice Radio), Tom Palmer was talking about families and using examples from the early days of the Bible--Noah, Abraham etc. He said that Abraham built an alter to establish worship, Noah built an Ark to protect--and that how as parents "we need to prepare an alter so we can worship, we need to prepare an ark so we can protect." Mr. Palmer also reminded parents "your kids will love what you love." If you love TV, if you would rather stay home and watch the football game than go to Church, don't wonder why kids and teens do the same things. Another observation that hit me was that "the family has a greater effect on the Church [in America today] than the Church has on families." Personally I believe that family ministry is sorely lacking and obviously missing from Church "programs." Yes, it's all good and fine to reach kids, but for the most part they will ultimately follow their parent's example.


Well, back to August.

The other day I pulled all the onions and carrots from the garden. The onions are drying on the patio table till I figure out what to do with them (and till they're dry). The few carrots I need to clean up and put in the fridge. I also picked the remaining few ears of corn--boy did they do poorly this year. The ears were only about 4 inches long and a good portion were no good because they were full of bugs and half eaten. The chickens dined well for a few days--over half of what was left went to them. I'm averaging about three to four eggs a day now. The eggs are still small but getting a little bigger.

The broilers are getting bigger too. I still can't hardly believe how much those little buggers eat. Just 50 of them are going through about 5 gal of water a day too.

It is quite hot today, supposed to be up close to 90. However overall we've had a cool summer pockmarked by hot spells. It started out looking like it would be another dry summer, but then June and July were really wet. But now we're in the midst of a parching drought. I don't think we've had an inch of rain all month. The good news is that there is a chance of rain five times in the ten day forecast. Apparently there is a cold front coming through--Thursday's predicted high is 65. Then we're back up into the mid-70's.

The Farmer's Almanac (which claims an accuracy rating of 85%) says that this winter is going to come early with lots of snow and cold. Sounds good to me. We've seen some geese heading south already, and other people have remarked on other signs of the animals preparing for a hard winter ahead. One of our white pines is loaded with pine cones this year, which is unusual. We're wondering if that is a sign of a long winter.

If winter is indeed coming early this year, I'd better put the plastic up on the green house hoops earlier than I'd planned. I hope to keep the tomatoes producing at least till Thanksgiving. I don't know if I can do it without an artificial heat source out there or not. It's worth a try at any rate. Eventually, what I'd love to do is put up a block wall at the North end and put a stove there. Then we could cover the entire garden and have a space 12' x 50' to grow stuff year round.

I'm hoping to rent some land (about 5 or 6 acres) across the road this fall. I'll reserve about an acre +/- for a garden and put the rest to pasture for the chickens. I also really want to raise a couple of pigs. And of course have a Jersey milk cow, but better to start slow. (unless you can jump in all at once, right?) The neighbors have a barn, but I don't know as it's in good enough shape to where I'd want to risk having a cow in it.

I was looking at the Johnny's seed catalog and came up with a "wish list"--only about $300 worth. Who knew garlic was so expensive? (80 bucks for 5 lb!) and potatoes, for 'organic' seed it's over $80 for 50 lb, or for non-organic it's $24 for 50 lb. I guess I don't need 'organic' for that much. And then for 5 lb of seed it's like $13. So it's not quite twice as expensive for ten times as much seed. Figure that one out. (needless to say I would like to get the 50 lb!)

Tonight I planted a fall garden. I'm trying the peas again, and I planted more lettuce, radishes and carrots. Hopefully they will all do well. My theory is that the cooler weather is what they need, not necessarily Spring.


This afternoon Dad had a phone interview with Dart Container. They will let him know within a week or two whether or not they want to continue with further interviews etc. Or as Dad said whether or not they'll let him get a job at Spartan Motors (a local Charlotte company that produces chaises for fire trucks and motor homes. (trying to take the Edison approach, "well now we know that doesn't work--lets move on to the next plan.")


As I briefly mentioned before, I am now officially graduated. Mom says I had better say more. Here it goes:

We had a lovely ceremony (short and sweet) at the dinning room table on Sunday August 17 (a day that will forever live in infamy). That evening we had a celebration/Sunday night church at a member's pond. It was a nice event and I was amazed at the number of people who cared enough to come out to it. And then there were a select few whom I could thank for coming not to my graduation celebration but to the church event! (I didn't want any fuss. None. Nada. Zip. Mother overruled ;-) ) That was the second of two events that weekend. The first was as archery practice--a similar event to the Sunday night shebang, but less structured. (and a little more to my liking.)

There I hope that suffices. The things a person has to do to please his mother..... ;-)


Well it's time for this missive to end. (you never thought you'd get to the end of it did you? ;-) ) All good things come to an end eventually (or at least that's what I've heard) so like August this post is fading into just a memory.

At least the coming of September does bring some benefits. Like squirrel season, fall colors and cooler temps. And actually this year there is an early doe season in our neck of the woods. From September 18th through the 22nd, we have a chance to help the insurance companies and lower the deer population. Plus with only does in season there's a greater chance that they'll be shot (at?), rather than hunters holding out for that buck that might be just around the corner. And after that there's the youth hunt, and then starting on October 1st we have bow season. (not sure how much I'll get out for that--esp. if a get a deer (or two) during the early doe season) Following bow season, on November 15 - 30 there's the regular firearm (shotgun (or muzzleloader, which is what I'll use--especially since I just got a new one (my first) last year) around here). After that I think there is late bow season followed by muzzleloading and late doe season. So if I can't get a deer or three it won't be from lack of opportunity. (which is nice) Unfortunately, the cost of ammo is going up and up and up. I'm torn to whether I should stock up on some of that stuff, like guns and ammo, or save my money to sink into property, fences and livestock etc. It's quite frustrating really, its really getting harder for a guy to get a good start in agriculture. (not that it will stop me from trying, it's just that stuff is getting so darned expensive--kinda upsets me.)

September also marks the beginning of Fall. Which is my favorite season (I think--Winter is nice too--all that snow and cold, cutting wood and more hunting; but then there's Spring...hard to beat Spring with the melting snow and that ever present feeling of hope and joy; and Summer too, idyllic days and lovely warmth and all that yummy garden produce pouring in....hmm) Well one of my favorite seasons anyway, with the start of hunting, and the crisp air, the spectacular color shows that the trees put on, and the way the fields look just before and after harvest. I must also admit I love watching the giant
machinery lumber across the landscape devouring the rows of corn or beans, the golden stream of grain pouring out of the combines into the grain wagons....


I almost forgot--we've been doing some canning too. I've done a few dozen quarts of pickles (the cukes are doing the best of anything I planted this year) We have also canned some green beans, but no tomatoes yet, they just won't ripen this year. It seems to be a common problem, for some reason. Maybe next year. We've frozen about a dozen bags of sweet corn too, but as I mentioned, we've had problems getting it to grow well. On my tenitive Johnny's order I have enough open pollinated sweet corn for a little over five 100' rows--hopefully that would be enough to eat and freeze all we wanted and still have plenty to save for seed. Hard to tell untill we try it.


Well I really do have to sign off now,

Untill next time,