Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dreams Do Come True

We all have our ideas and dreams for our children. Some work out and others, not so much.
After a certain time in the child's life we can no longer control the dreams and goals we had for them. I think it's around the time they start to have future ideas of their own is when the path between yours and theirs starts to split off and go in different directions. Even with that we still try and persuade them to see it our way and to go the direction we had planned for them from the beginning. After all, we know whats best right?

I struggled with this the most. I had a plan for each one of my girls and they were going to do it come hell or high water. I almost lost one of my girls last year because of my stubbornness on this. She had her dreams and I had mine for her. The main problem was, they were no where near each other.
I dealt with it, moved on and saw it was not worth driving away a loved one just because it's not how I planned it. It never really was about who she was marring or anything of the sorts, it was all about the timing of it, he was just an excuse I guess. She needed to get her education first before starting a family, that was all. Why make yourself climb over a mountain when there is a tunnel already built for you to go through? (I know the many answers to this, I'm just making a point)
Even some of my own family has held it against me for my actions in this matter and I'm sure for other reasons as well. They don't have a dog in this fight.
     
Even though the paths of my girls my not go in the exact direction I had planned, I guess the fact of all those years with me pounding it in their heads might have done some good. In the back of their minds they all know I'm right and they also know all I want is the best for each of them, even if it's on their own terms.
Next to having all my girls with a college degree, one of my biggest dreams was to have all three of my girls going to college. That in it's self is monumental. College is not for everybody and that was an idea I would not except until here recently. As it is, dreams do come true sometimes.
   
Jessie, my oldest, left for her senior year at Texas A&M Saturday. It was a bitter-sweet moment I guess. I hated to see her go or course, but knowing this is her last year and then she will be back up here to start her career and life makes it better. This time next year I will have a College Graduate. We will be going down September 19th for her ring ceremony and from what I hear it will be one of the best days of her life. I am wondering if I should wear a suit and tie.

Hannah starts back to college this month. She had to take a semester off due to my grand baby needing to be born. I know it will hard for her because I did it. I had three young girls, two jobs and took night courses. Her mountain is a little harder to climb now, but knowing her, that's how she likes it. The harder the challenge the better the reward. I am very proud of her for continuing this journey. The scenery is prettier at the top of the mountain anyway.  

This semester will be Kylee's first in college. I know she is in for a shock about how much time and work this is going to take. I feel she thinks this is going to be as easy as high school, but she will learn, we all did. I hope she stays excited and continues to the end. I am waiting until I hear the words, "Holy crap dad, we have to write so many papers!" I know it's coming, they all say it.

I may be done with their raising, but I'm not done being their daddy. I am really liking the fact I can be more of a friend and adviser now than a strict parent. They all still need their shoulders turned in the right direction from time to time, but I guess I even need it every once and a while myself.

Thanks for your ear,
Jerry
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tiny House Progress

Next weekend we will be moving our trailer to the place where we are building our Tiny House.

First we had to get electricity, got that. Then we had to run the water, got that done Friday night. Then
we had to install a septic system, done Saturday and Sunday.

It looked like a war zone for most of the week, but all the ditches are now back filled, cleaned up and smoothed out.  Close to 300 feet of waterline, and 200 feet of sewer line with septic tanks were installed. We also put in a load a base for a little driveway and a pad for the camper to sit on. Plus I wired in the 30AMP plug for the camper to finish it off.
Next Saturday we will be moving the camper up here and hooking it up for the duration and get out of that RV Park.



 All that extra dirt we had from the ditches, we started making the pad for the Tiny House to sit on. Hopefully in September we will be able to move the buildings over here and get started on the build.
This is already running way over budget. I am 3,000 into a 10,000 dollar budget and we don't even have a house yet.





Much thanks to my dad for helping me out on this with his time and equipment. If it wasn't for him we would still be three weeks out.
  

That's all I got for now,
Jerry  

Monday, August 4, 2014

It Was A Long Way

We drove 5.5 hours to cook chili, now that is dedication.

Out of the 36 cooks, 20 or so were form the Great State of Texas, and Texas took home the first place trophy again this year. Among the 36 were 5 world champions and almost all of the top ten ranked cooks in the world. So saying that, me and Candy did not place, but had a great time. We did make final table and that was good enough for me, this time. All monies were donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.
We will defiantly put this one on the books for next year.     

We met some really great folks and cooked side by side with chili legends. We also had the privilege to meet a wonderful young couple from England who were traveling across the US from Chicago to LA on Old RT66. They were stopping at any place that looked interesting. They took pictures of the big Texan (me) and we talk about issues from American culture to Politics.
When we were through talking all the guy said was "Wow, who would have guessed we would have had such a deep conversation with a couple from Texas, in Missouri at a Chili Cookoff ."
I wish them the best of luck in their travels and hopefully we will meet again down the road.

I even had a news guy come by and stick a microphone in my face and ask me my opinion about the issues in the Middle East. Really? At a Chili Cookoff?
So I gave him just that. About thirty seconds of my views and he simply turned the mic off and walked away. I guess my Conservative views were not worth reporting to the liberal media.

This coming weekend we will be in East Texas cooking for another great cause. It's getting too hot for me but someone has to do it.

See ya down the road.
Jerry  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lets Get Out Of Here

"What are the plans for the weekend?" Candy (the wife) asked me a couple of days ago.
"Lets just go!" I said back.
"Go where?"
"Lets just get out of here for the weekend"

Final preparations are being made to head to Joplin this weekend for the Missouri State Chili Championship. 
Hogs & Hot Rods on the historic Rt 66 will be hosting the State Cookoff. If you are around that area, look up the address, come by and see us. This cookoff will be a lot of fun.

We have never cooked in Missouri and I guess it's time we Show Them what Texas Red Chili is all about.
(Get it? That was funny right there.)
(show them........., show me state.........)
(cricket, cricket, cricket)
(Okay, maybe it's too early for stupid jokes)


As far as the Tiny House, we have an Electric Meter now and all the materials to run the water line. Once that is done and the septic in installed we will move the trailer there while we build the house.

That's all I got for now. See, that wasn't too bad.
Jerry (Missouri bound)

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's The Simple Things

The average house in America is 2300 square feet. Just forty years ago it was 1000. The average house in Europe is still at 1000 square feet while in Spain it is only 924. The smallest apartment in Manhattan is 78 square feet and is rented out for $800 a month. The house I just left was
2500 square feet and the travel trailer I am living in now is a mere 330.

This is our third week living in the trailer at the RV park and it's finally starting to set in. Sure it's great at first, but after the fun and games are over and the newness wears off, reality starts to set in. It's the simple things, once taken for granted, that's starting to come to light.
For instance, ice. We have had an ice maker forever. Now, with only six ice trays in the small freezer, it has become a high commodity in the camper. It's really funny when I crack the tray and pop the cubes up, one always jumps out and lands on the floor. That saddens me because of how precious each cube is now. When we had a ice maker it was no big deal, but now it's like someone just kicked my dog when I see them fall to the floor.

Another is the simple task of getting dressed. I have had to learn a new way to dress because my arms hit the roof when I put on my shirt. The little bedroom is too small to get dressed in so I have to lay my clothes out the night before in the living room and get dressed out there the next morning.

The main thing I took for granted is my own personal space. I can't just go in the other room or go out in the shop to work out my frustrations. 
No matter how much you love someone, when they are around you all the time, frustrations tend to build up. That is not saying anyone is doing anything wrong, it's just there is no where to go without having someone right there.
If I want to just get out for a second and walk the dog, there is always someone there walking their dog that wants to stop and talk, "Walking your dog?" they always ask. "No, I'm just trying to sniff her butt, but she wont stop." I don't want to talk. I am walking the dog by myself for a reason, leave me alone.
Last night I went out to grill pork chops, sure as the world, RV neighbors stopped by, asked what I was cooking then sat and started talking. Last weekend was the same thing.
Saturday night I was relaxing in the pool at 10:00 PM. Well how about that, folks had to walk by and ask how the water was. "Well, if it wasn't good I wouldn't be in it dumb ass."
Last night I walked up to shave and shower because mine in the camper is small hard to do when you are my size, I am carrying my towel and shower stuff and a guy asked if I was headed to the shower, "No, I carry this stuff around the park waiting for it to rain." Why would you ask someone that?
I know everyone is just trying to be nice, I get that and I probably just need to relax and be thankful there are folks out there who are nice. 

Only after three weeks I want my freedom back. Sure it is nice to be 30 minutes closer to work. It's nice not to have to mow and it's nice there are not any hell raisers around disturbing my sleep like at the other house. It is also nice all the dogs have to be on a leash and none are destroying my trash.  Even with all those nice things, I guess I am just not a RV Park kinda guy.

(Sigh) I feel better now, and I didn't even have to say a word.
See Ya,
Jerry 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Home Is Where She Is At



Here is my home,

Just for a little while hopefully.
It's like camping every day!





Alright, it's not really that fun but it's a change of pace and completely different than what I am accustom to. I have neighbors all around me and I can watch them eat dinner and I can hear them talking, arguing or whatever. While I am sitting outside I watch folks walk their dogs and meander around like something I have never seen before. Mine and Candy's conversations are like, "You know, the owner of the beagle." I really don't understand this way of living, but it is kinda nice not to have anything to do during the week. I do miss my girls and just being able to do something. Here in RV land all there is to do is just breath, eat and sleep.

Candy is really trying to make this a pleasant experience for both of us and in turn I am trying to do my best to not pick out the little things like the cramped living and all her clothes, makeup and her barking dog. I have her and my outdoor kitchen so I am happy.
Honestly, it don't matter if it was in a tent by the lake or living out of our truck, as long as I have her there it would be home. I tell you what, me and this girl have been through it all. Home is only with her.

I have tried to fit in here by wearing shorts and sandals when I am out walking the wife and dog. I think the folks can see through my city folk disguise though. It may be the way I talk, I need to learn their lingo.
Here is an example:

RV park folk in their Massachusetts accent , "So guys, where you from?"
Me, "10 miles up the road."
RV park folk, "Oh!"
Me in my Texas drawl, "Yup, our van down by the river burnt so here we are, so where you staying"
RV park folk, "............" as they grab their dog and walk away.
What, am I going to eat their dog or something?  

The progress on the Tiny House is just that, Tiny. We are having to do this paycheck by paycheck so it will take a while. Last weekend we finished the fencing around the place. We also finished moving out of our house and Hannah (the middle girl) moved in the next day. Kylee (the youngest girl) is living there fixing to start college while Jessie (the oldest) is getting ready to start her senior year at Texas A&M. She is staying at a little place in town until then. They come by now and then to see old dad. It's only been a week and it feels like a month. I really miss them. 

Our camper is 340 square feet. Once finished with the tiny house we will be living in 550sf. My dad thinks we are not going to like living in such a small area, but I think living in this camper for four to five months will make that 550 look like a mansion.
What I am needing now is septic tanks. I don't want the regular 500 gallon tanks because it is just me and her. So I am looking for two 150 to 200 gallon tanks I can bury. I thought about 55 gallon plastic drums, but I am afraid we will have to pump them more than we will want to.
My power will be on in a week or two and I have everything for the water. Once all that is installed I will move the trailer over to the land and start the building.

That's all I got for now, I think I want go out and harass me some RV folks. It's entertainment so what the hell?

Later,
Jerry   

Monday, July 7, 2014

It's a start

Over the past week we have been moving more stuff out of the house and yard and storing it in the barn or over at my dad's.

We also started on the tiny home we are about to build by installed the corners posts for the yard and
staking out where the house will sit. We need to put up a new fence so we can keep the goats out and get to work installing the water, sewer and power.

We only have about a week left in our house now because we upped the move out date from the first of the month to next week. Hannah is very excited to get moved in quicker than expected.

Now, our house is vacant and we are living off of paper plates and cups. I actually like it that way.


I hope everyone had a great 4th. Of course ours was non stop from Thursday evening all the way to last night. Going back to work today gave me some much needed rest. 

In the end I think I cooked about 50 hamburgers and 100 hotdogs. My Cowboy cooker worked great and now everyone wants one.








The oldest girl had a great idea so we did it Friday night. She got a projector and we put up a screen and had an outdoor picture show on the farm. It brought back a lot memories from the forgotten age of the drive ins and everyone really enjoyed it. 

Sunday we just said to hell with it all and went to the lake for a day of relaxing, swimming, football, volley ball and a picnic lunch. We needed this and it was a real good time forgetting about the world and just enjoying each others company.




Well, that's about it. I hope everyone has a great week and I look forward in sharing our new adventure with you all.

Jerry.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Some Say I'm Crazy

It's all about that little sound in the back of my head, you know the one, the internal time clock that is telling you, "You need to start doing something about retirement and fast"
That sound has always been with me, but as I get older it keeps getting louder.

I have been trying to figure out for over a week now on how to write this post. I still don't know how to really say it so I am just typing and letting the words flow.

I think unbeknownst to myself, I have been preparing for this moment for years. As a prepper I have acquired many things and gained much knowledge to live as simple as I can. I have been doing the best I can with what I've had for so long to live "under the radar", so to speak, but with a mortgage and a house that ran on 100% electricity, I did what I could. Well, that's all about to change.

I know here lately I have turned from the hard core homesteading lifestyle and decided to just live a little by doing some traveling and cooking chili all over the place. When you live your whole life as a Homesteader/Prepper, every once and a while you need a break and that is what I have been doing this past year. To be honest I never really understood the prepper movement anyway but to each their own. I have never really knew any different.

Saying all that, we are about to make a major life change.
August 1st we will no longer be living here at the Mini Farm. We have already cleaned the house out of just about everything we own. Everything was given to friends, family, Good Will and what is left will stay with the house.
The plan is to move into our camper at an RV park about 15 minutes to the South. My middle daughter Hannah (the one who just had the baby) will move into our house along with my youngest girl Kylee (the one who just graduated) and take over the mortgage. It is cheap enough that they can afford it and have a place to call their own. So much for the parents kicking the kids out, in this case it's the parents are kicking themselves out.
Here's the deal, we just don't need a big house anymore. Candy and I decided to downsize a few years ago when the last daughter moved out anyway. This way Kylee gets to stay home and attend college and not have to pay much in rent while Hannah can start her life with her new husband and baby in a place of their own.

What's my plan you ask, well remember those buildings I bought a couple of years ago? They will be moved over to my dad's farm and in the back of the property we will set them up and make them into a "Tiny House". The design will be about 90% off grid with a real outdoor kitchen and a bathroom just like the bathhouse I have now. We will staying in the camper until this is completed.

If I don't do it now I never will. It took a lot to improve the Mini Farm and build it from nothing. Just to walk away from everything is hard because this is the second time in my life I have left a fully functioning homestead. His place is already set up and with some of my additions like the water tanks and stuff like that we will improve it to be more self sustainable. His gardens will become the community gardens and momma and Candy will put up the harvests.

This is the direction I am suppose to go. I plan to continue to work for another 18 years and by then I should be in a position to retire by doing this.

So, do you say I am crazy, don't worry, most do.

Later,
Jerry

       

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Last One Across


Two beautiful women have walked in this gown before her, and now my wonderful daughter Kylee had the honor of being the last. I've watched her grow and mold herself into the woman I look to everyday, one of my best friends, a woman of love and character. I envy her passion and quirky love of all things imperfect. It's a bittersweet moment as I watched her walk across that stage, as I miss the young girl she was, and celebrate the young woman she has become. I love you Kylee, you've made us so very proud.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Those words above were written by my Wife and oldest daughter. I cannot add or take anything away. They said it all, right from my own heart.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Great Weekend For The Ford Girls

I wondered what it would be like to be those people.
You know those folks that show up and people say, "Oh crap, now we don't stand a chance."

All through my Competition Chili Cooking career I have met, and cooked against the best in the world. Most people call them the "Big Dogs" the "Heavy Hitters" the "Point Hogs" and the "Ones to Beat." In the end, they are all just like me, a chili cook, cooking for fun and charity. 

When standing in my booth with several folks at any cookoff and one of those people pull in I always hear, "Oh crap, now we don't stand a chance." I know because I have been guilty of saying that several times myself. I have always wondered at what point if ever, would they start saying that same thing about my team, "Oh crap, the Ford team is here."

We cooked in a small Texas town named Loan Oak and it was for a really good charity. It was the only cookoff within four hours so I knew the "Heavy Hitters" would be there and looking to increase their points to become a member in the elite "Point Hog" group. The one thing they did not take in consideration was my girls showing up to cook some chili.

 First off, I came sporting my new wind break. My brother gave me this old Ford Tailgate and I incorporated it in with my Chili box. I left it rusty for the look and painted the Ford in white and added our names in black. I think it fits us great.

The oldest daughter Jessie came to cook sporting her new fanny pack and all decked out in Red White and Blue for D-Day Weekend. Even the sun glasses have flags on them.
 








After the burners were turned off, the truck was loaded and the chili was judged we sat waiting for the final word. Candy only needed two more points to qualify for the world championship and she was doubtful because she said hers tasted too much like Cumin for some reason. Jessie was just wanting to walk and get a point, she did not have high expectation on her chili as well because she could not get much heat in it. Me, I didn't care because I am already qualified and was there for support and to have fun.
They called 10th through 5th place, not a one of us walked, this did not look good. I was getting nervous and the girls already gave up. Most of the "Big Dogs" were not called yet and we knew they would be, they always are.
4th place, hell yea, they called me up. I was not expecting that, but I will take it. Third was called and the girls were ready to leave, they knew it was over.  I saw the disappointment in their eyes but I still encouraged them on.
Second place, Candy's number was called. She jumped up like a little girl and ran to the stage. She yelled out, "Qualified!" This 2nd place gave her three more points and she will now be cooking with me for the world championship this year.
I looked at Jessie and smiled, she smiled back at me and said, "Oh well." I told her there was still hope and she just shook her head.
They read the numbers for First place and I heard a loud screech and Jessie jumped up and ran to the
stage. There was a standing ovation when she excepted her 1st place trophy.
Best day ever. I am so proud of her and Candy for taking first and second. If I could only have gotten third then we could have swept it, but I will take all three of us in the top four any day.

Now it's on to Denton for the North Texas Summer Showdown this coming weekend. Many cooks will be there including most of the "Heavy Hitters" and oh yea, my girls will be there to cooking right beside them.      





One more picture before I go and it's the best one yet.
Here is baby Rebecca with GPop (me). How can life be any better. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

I got a couple of post I need to do this week. We have had some major life changing events happen this past few days and I want to keep y'all up to date so stay tuned.

Thank y'all,
Jerry

Thursday, May 29, 2014

She Is Here

 Baby Rebecca has arrived. 7lbs 9 oz, 20" Long

The C-Section did not go as planned so they ended up inducing Hannah. After 28 hours of labor little Miss Rebecca is born.

I am truly at a loss of words about the whole thing.
I never could have imagined this....... 


Proud Grandparents

Monday, May 26, 2014

Finally, It's On The Way

It's all about Cooking Chili and Family. It has been that way for a while now.

Candy, Jessie and myself just got back from a great two day chili cookoff in Durant OK. On top of that it was the new camper's maiden voyage. We had a really great time and the camper is just what we were looking for. It's like having a mobile apartment. 
Saturday's cookoff was for the title of Southwest United States Champion. 153 cooks turned in, I walked with 23rd place. I was ecstatic, this was the fourth time we have cook this one and finally I walked.  


Sunday's cook off was for the North Of The Brazos Championship. 83 cooks turned in their chili, Candy walked with 8th place and I walked with 1st. Can someone give me a "Hell Yea"?
I am so proud of the wife for walking and getting some more points. This is the best we have ever done at a huge cookoff. She works really hard at making the perfect pot of Texas Red and prides herself on the taste. Candy now needs only 2 more points to be qualified for the World Championship in November.You go girl!
Our next cookoff is in Lone Oak Texas in two weeks.

Now for the important thing. Tomorrow at 8:30 AM we will be Grandparents for the first time. Hannah is scheduled for little Rebecca's delivery by knife because even though she is due, she has not turned and has no plans to do so.
We will be at the hospital at 6:00 AM in support. She is so scared and our nerves are shot. I can figure no sleep tonight for any of us. After a long nine months little Rebecca will finally be here.
I will post pictures tomorrow afternoon if you would like me to.

Thanks for hanging in there,
Jerry