Monday, December 30, 2013

Not So Young Anymore

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, I know we sure did.

It was a busy one, that's for sure. We had another wedding this weekend, some friends of ours married off their son. We jumped in and helped them out as much as we could. I took some tools over to their house last Thursday night and we built the decorations for the reception. Then on Saturday while they were all at the reception we helped set up for the after party and had the fires going, the beer iced and the food cooking. This way when the wedding party came back to their house everything was done.

Somewhere in all that I was able to get down to the old farm and cut up about a cord of wood. I had a lot of help form the family so we were able to get it done quicker than I thought.

Even with all the help, that saw got really heavy. My old back is not as young as it once was and all that bending over just about got me. I had to force myself to get out of bed the next morning.

It's always better when my dad brings the loader down. He was able to get the trees in a good location to cut, plus loading the wood is a lot easier. Check out the homemade log splitter in the pic to the right.
That thing is over thirty years old.

Next weekend we need to go back down and split up what is left. There is about another cord to split. 
This wood will last us the rest of the winter. I was almost out of wood and the house was cold. My heater just don't heat like it should and needs to be replaced. It just runs and runs burning electricity. I think at best it will get the house up to 58 degrees. The fire place keeps the house at a comfortable 68.

I got some more materials for the fire trough yesterday. Just another piece of the outdoor kitchen. This is where the dutch ovens will hang and it is where I will make the coals for the Cajun Microwave. I should have it done by the end of the week, I hope. I will show you what I'm talking about when it's done.

Please be safe out there this week. New Years Eve is for the amateur alcoholics to be out and being they don't drink all the time, they don't know how to handle themselves.
The professionals stay at home.

Saying that, I plan to stay at home and have some family over. The plan is to sit around the fire and have a good time.

Stay safe,


Monday, December 23, 2013

I Made It Through

First off I want to say a huge thank you for all the comments, thoughts and kind words everyone sent this way. I also want to thank the ones who sent me very heartfelt and personal e-mails. I will respond as time allows. You folks mean so much to me and have been a rock when I have had nothing to stand on. I can't thank you enough.

Well, I made it through the wedding. There were a couple of bumps in the road, but in the end it turned out to be a beautiful event. Talk about being out of your comfort zone, friends let me tell you what, I left my comfort zone at home, locked away.

Some say I sighed  really loud when she said, "I Do." I don't remember doing that but they said it was really, really loud. 

Both sides of the family hugged, shook hands and got to know one another. I'm not saying we will be best buds or anything but at least we all smiled and were nice.

After the father daughter dance there was not a dry eye in the room. I don't even know what song was playing. I offered my last little bit of fatherly advise and we talked all the way through it.

Did she make a mistake, well my opinion is just that, my opinion. If she thinks this is what she is suppose do and she thinks this is the path laid out for her life then I have to respect that and support her.

Hannah knows we love her, and she knows we are here for her if and when she needs us. I made her a promise to be the best grand parent I can be. These two things are who we are and they are what we are suppose to do. 

Sunday morning I woke at peace. I thanked the good lord for the opportunity to be apart for her life, and thanked him for the blessing to have this memory with her. I know there will be many more to come.  

 Sometimes life gives us limes, I say, we need to find the folks that life gave tequella and have a party.

Thanks you all again,

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Hard Parts Of Being A Daddy

I can tell you with certainty that I have enjoyed being a daddy. My three girls, Jessie, Hannah and Kylee have been my breath, my drive and my inspiration for so many years now. I have enjoyed every memory we have created together, every moment spent and every lesson we have learned. Some not as much as others but in the end I think my maker every day for the opportunity to have been in their lives and ask for just one more day . 
The hardest parts, I think, are the ones where not only they grow and mature, but I did as well. Having to dig deep to hold back the tears of sadness, anger and joy or stopping myself from not letting them grow into who they will become because it wasn't my plan. Those are the hard parts.

I remember the first hardest thing I ever had to do as a daddy was when I watched all my girls drive off for the first time without me. The first two killed me and it did not get any easier when I watched the last one's tail lights disappear over the hill. I was a nervous wreck that I was not in the car with them, to protect them and to keep them safe.

The second hardest thing I ever had to do was when I dropped my oldest daughter Jessie off at college. It was so hard for me not to beg her to come back home with us, but I knew I could not do that. It was so hard to start the truck, put it in drive and leave her standing there crying, waving goodbye, but this was something that had to be done.

The third hardest thing I have had to do was just last week when the same daughter's boyfriend came by the house and asked to talk to me. I knew it was coming, I thought I was ready, I had already prepared what I was going to say when it did happen. Then, when he asked for her hand in marriage my mind went blank. All I could think about was her at 10 years old and telling me I was the best daddy in the world. It was so hard to say yes, but I did it because that is what she wanted.

Now, the fourth hardest thing I will have to do as a daddy is Tomorrow night. I will have to walk my middle daughter Hannah down the isle and give her away to a guy that does not deserve her. This is her choice to get married so young and so so fast. I have done everything just short of going to prison to keep this from happening, but I can't stop it. We just found out this week she is having a girl sometime in the middle of June. I didn't want it to be like this and tried everything to teach these girls to have a better and easier life than I did. I don't have to do this. I can stay at home, crack open a beer and work in the shop. But she asked me to and it's my job to. So, I will put on my suit, I will put on a smile, I will walk down the isle with her arm in mine and I will do the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a daddy and give her away to this guy.

Maybe there will be growth in all this. Maybe something will click and I will learn from this experience. As it is now I would rather take a beating than see my daughter go down this path of hard times. Even though me and her momma got married at eighteen, we waited two years to start having kids. We were so poor and those times were so hard I don't know how we made it through.  I only wished Hannah could have remembered all those hard times when she was so young, maybe then she would have waited.

I will let you know how it went.
Until then,

Rocket Stove

Here is the rocket stove I have been wanting to build. I finished it last night and fired it up. It works great and it will be used to cook on this weekend.

Before I got too excited, I set it up in my shop to see how it all fit together. It took 21 fire bricks I picked up for $5.00. It helps that I have a brother in law that works at a brick yard. The brick base was free because they came from the wife's flower garden.
In the wood chamber there is a wire mess that divides the fire from the air chamber on the bottom. I had this material left over from another project.

 I built a base for it to sit on from scrap wood I had laying around. There is no worries about the wood getting too hot through those thick base bricks.
The 21st brick is used as a damper for the air flow and heat control by sliding it across the front.
This was a easy build and a great survival tool. It takes very little wood to cook on. A couple handfuls of twigs and small pieces of scrap wood will give you enough heat to cook on for a long time.
Total project cost - $5.00, Time - 1 Hour, Benefits - Priceless   

This weekend I will be cooking about 10 pounds of potatoes on it for Potato Salad. 
The wife calls it cute, I call it a necessary survival tool, Aww, who am I kidding, it's cute. 

See Ya,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Under A Hundred

I have a book that is full of projects. Some are finished in the design stages and ready for construction and others are just a simple idea wrote down waiting to be worked through.
This book is filled with some costly projects, some cheap ones, some that will take months to complete and others that will only take a few hours. I often go to this book when I am bored and want to dream a little.

Saturday morning was just one of those days. I was in my shop tinkering around and got bored. I picked up my project book and flipped through the pages until I found one interesting enough to hold my attention. The outdoor kitchen was what I stopped at. I studied the elaborate plans I drew up many months ago and looked at the cost column and mumbled to myself, "there was no way."
I asked myself why I needed something so costly and over built just to cook on so I started scribbling on the page again. I don't need the sink right now, I don't need the built in fish fryers at the moment either. I also did not need to sink my grill in the counter top and I really didn't need to cover the whole thing with stone and tile. I also didn't need to have it wrap all the way abound the patio at the moment either. So what I ended up with was a project under $100.00 instead of one that cost $1500.00
On top of all that, this is a lot more piratical for what I need at the moment.
A friend gave me the counter top cook stove a year or so ago. All I had to do was buy a Propane regulator for it and adjust the needle valves to change it from natural gas to LP. I already had the granite for the counter tops and most of the wood. I did have to buy the plywood and a couple of boards. Total cost was $40.00.
All the wood is sealed from the weather and sure, it would look better with doors and stone wrapped around it but why? It will serve it's purpose just the way it is.
Instead of doing the whole project at once, I have broke it into sections. This one being the first and the next one being a drop down corner section that my little upright smoker will sit on. Then on to the other sections after that.

I built it yesterday and last night we had some friends over and gave it a test run, everything worked great. We had grilled chicken and pasta with home made aristocrat sauce, unbelievable on how good this food was.  
 I am so happy to have a gas stove again making where I am not so dependent on the electric one in the house or having to start a fire to use coals to cook off of.

I already have my Cajun Microwave so next on the list is the dutch oven cooking area, then the pizza oven and then maybe a rocket stove. Maybe the rocket stove first.

Thanks for reading, talk to ya later,

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Worst Yet

I can remember snow, I can also remember ice. Just two winters ago we had record breaking snow fall.

Every year we usually have a day or two of ice and that shuts most everything down for a couple of days, but we have never seen anything like this.
Five to eight inches of ice on the roads. All of North Texas is shut down and has been for three days now.
I know we are not used to seeing this stuff and we all don't know how to drive in it but it's not all us this time. The picture to the right is going through our little town.

Take a look at the picture below. This is I35 going through Sanger up to Oklahoma. There are hundreds and hundreds of trucks stranded on the road. I agree that it probably only took a couple of us dump Texas drivers to cause all this, but these guys have been there for three days now.
I'm just saying that I  have never seen anything like this before. To top it all off, this morning we had an earthquake.
The end is near my friends, LOL

The store shelves are empty at our local grocery store. They cannot get any shipments in. Thousands of folks are out of power. Just yesterday the report was up to 200,000. Food is running low in the houses that have power and folks are almost in a panic state. The only thing keeping people sane is the fact they cannot go anywhere and we will be thawed out Tuesday.
Now, all this for only three or four days of shut down. Can you imagine what would happen if this was for a month? I almost feel sorry for the folks that think I am the radical one.

Saying all that, I also found holes in my preps as well. Our time in this shutdown has not been a cake walk either. In just three days I have found out if this prolonged, I would not have enough wood to heat the house. I am already out of wood and only have enough in reserve for one day just in case our power goes out. I need more wood stored.  I am relying on our "not so good heater" to keep us warm.
My stored drinking water is not what I thought it to be. Over the past few months we have become slacked in our preps and if our well was to freeze up we would have not had enough water to get us through this week.
I don't have any deicer in the truck so we have to waste gas to thaw it out enough to leave in a hurry just in case we need to and speaking of gas, I only have a day or so stored up for the generator. Over the past few months I have used it and not replaced it.
My bug out bag are not equipped for this kind of weather. I keep hot weather items in them because that is more of what we have. I would need a complete overhaul of our bug out bags to prepare for this.

My wife was telling me some of her friends were hiking to the store just for supplies only to find the shelves almost empty. How can folks not prepare ahead of time and why do those same folks think we are the crazy ones? I didn't have to walk anywhere and I won't.

It's amazing what happens in just a short time of bad weather or a complete shutdown.
What would these same folks do if this or something worse lasted for a couple of months? I am glad I found what I am lacking on now instead of later.

Stay warm and safe,

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cajun Microwave

Here is my latest project, it's a Cajun Microwave.
I guess you could also call it a big outdoor oven, but I like the other name better.
I made this out of cinder blocks and filled the holes with sand to retain the heat, plus it can be moved if need be. Filling them with concrete would have made it stationary and if I ever move, I want to take it with me.

 It took 52 cinder blocks to make the structure. The top is made from diamond plate. The handles are rebar and trampoline springs. It does take two people to remove the top but that is never an issue when your having a party. The coals go on top of this plate heating the inside of the oven. The bigger the pile of coals the hotter the oven. You can use charcoal or wood coals. I plan to have a large fire going beside it and shoveling the coals on it as it cooks.
 The inside meat tray is made from diamond stretch and bed frame angle iron. It sits on cinder blocks and the ground below it is dug out to make a bowl with packed sand to help with the convection.
The meat is seasoned, injected, then wrapped and set on this tray and then lowered down into the oven.

with these homemade hooks. They are just rebar and trampoline springs bent to make hooks.
A digital thermometer will be inserted into the meat and when it reaches the desired temp, the top will be removed with help and set on the ground. Then the tray with the meat on it will be removed and set on the table. The meat will be unwrapped and served just like that, as pulled pork.
I can also cook about nine turkeys in this thing at a time. Keep in mind, it's not a smoker, just a really big off the grid oven.   

It was good to get a project done, it has been so long. I was able to work some deals for most of the materials so the cost was lower than it would have been buying everything at retail. It's always nice to have a brother that works at a metal yard. That is where I got the metal at such a great deal. And it's always good to have a dad that has a metal shop. Anything you could imagine can be built there.A big thanks to both them for helping me out on the build.

My youngest girl will be turning 18 in a couple of months and she is wanting to throw a paint party. That is where you throw paint on each other. I don't get it, but it's the in thing I guess. I plan to use Cajun Microwave to cook one of those wild hogs we caught. I almost want to do it this weekend just to see how it turns out.     

This ice storm has arrived and we are stuck in the house for the next few days. We even canceled our chili cook off as well. I fear cabin fever will set in by Monday.

Until next time, keep it real.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I Hope It Was A Good One

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, we sure did.
It was good to have all the family around. I think as we all get older we get along a lot better. Now the older group, which I am now a part of, watch the next generations of the family as they grow and start families of their own. It is humbling to see how large our family has become and how the branches of the tree are fanning out. Another century and there will be hundreds of us.

Friday evening the wife and I decided to cash in on some of the gift cards and certificates we have won at the chili cook offs. We like to do it all at once so it is a full night of living.
It is hard to believe by just cooking chili we can party like the rich folks do once a year. If I had to pay a dime of it then I wouldn't do it but, being it was all free, why not? There is no way I would spend twenty two dollars on a cigar or ten dollar for a drink. I'm just too cheap for that I guess. 
I can count on one hand and still have four fingers left over on the times I have sat in a cigar lounge, relaxing and listing to live music.
It's not how I would want to live 99.9% of the time, but that 0.1% sure was fun.   
 It was good to get out and do something out of our element. I bought this new hat, shaved and wore a collard shirt just to fit in with the city folks.
We had a great time. Thanks to the chili world for making it happen.

This weekend we will be cooking at West Tawakoni in East Texas benefiting Christmas for Kids.
The weatherman says there is an ice storm coming Friday so we will see if we can make it or not.

Oh, by the way, yesterday I started a new project. I will post some pictures of it later but I will tell you this, it has to do with cooking and is a part of the outdoor kitchen. 

See ya down the road,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

MDR, Open and Exposed

This month marks the fourth year on starting over here at the Mini Farm.

We came from the farm to this nice house in the city. We hung on as long as could.
To a little place out in the country with a lot of potential where we started life all over again, you could say city life was not for us. Life happens so we ended up going back to what we knew best. It was going to take work, but we were up for it. We had a blank canvas to work with and a fist full of ideas to go on.

The end result after four years was this, a fully working, self sustainable homestead.
I cannot count the man hours, money, drops of sweat, tears and blood we have poured into this place to make it what we dreamed it would be. We have came along way in a short amount of time. Just about everyone who has ever came to the Mini Farm has wished they had something like it.

Many projects and experiments litter the back yard. Some worked like planned and others still need a little tweaking to prefect the design that was once in my head. There, on the bench in my shop sits a folder filled with ideas and dreams yet to be built. The dust has already started settling on not only the folder, but the ideas within it.
A couple of months ago we sold all the animals, we are trying to save for a new air conditioner unit for the house. Sure, we still have a few chickens in the yard and now we have one donkey for some reason, but as I sit on the patio we built four years ago I look across an empty and quiet field that once held so much life. I also see the barren gardens we worked so hard to maintain and if I look hard enough I can just see inside the empty barn that once held so many living creatures, now it only holds a stack of empty feed bags. I see all this and wonder to myself, am I done.

Next month marks the Fourth year of Modern Day Redneck. This post is the 850th post I have written. This blog as 294000 visits from all over the world. It gets close to 11000 visits a month. MDR has been featured in many chat rooms, forums, web pages and even mentioned a time or two on pod casts. On top of all that this blog has 252 great family members. If you would have told me this four years ago I would never have believed it.
Saying all that I think it's time to introduce myself. My name is Jerry Ford, I live near the small North Texas town of Pilot Point.
I am a conservative, a husband, a father and most importantly, a daddy. I will also soon be a grandparent, I don't know what I want to be called yet but I am working on it. I have not excepted the situation nor do I like it, but I have to man up and deal with it.
My day job is in construction building highways, I don't like it much, but it's good money and a job.
I spent some time preaching the word, but soon fell from grace and now I am trying my best to start that steep walk all over again one day at a time. I struggle with everyday problems from bills to demons. My main struggles are with hate, racism, grudges and bigotry. These struggles and my non-willingness to bend my so called principles has torn my family apart. To escape some of these problems I do the worst thing I can and find relief in the bottom of a beer can. I have preached on everyone of these issues and know what they do to yourself and the ones you love. Like I said, one day at a time and he will get me through it. I guess having my girls all back together again this weekend triggered something inside. I want that again and I realize now I am the one that is keeping it from happening and it's not worth it.
That is about as exposed and as open as I can get right there.

The words put down on this blog are all true in the way I see it, remember it or take it. Is it all exactly word for word the way it happen, some yes and some no, but it's how I recall it to be. Deception is never the intent. I have lost many friends and pist off many family members with this blog. Probably out of embarrassment for themselves more than anything, but it is what it is. I have been called fake, also called a scammer, to me I am what I write and I write what I am.

In the beginning I wanted to post everyday. Now I am lucky to get one a week. What is there to post about when you are doing nothing productive? Nobody wants to hear about the everyday struggles we all face. I may mention them, but I try to never dwell on it. Same goes for religion and politics, there are many other blogs out there that can do a better job than I can when it comes to those. I have my beliefs and views and I promise you they are different than yours so I keep them to myself.
So I sit, several times a week looking at a blank screen wondering what I can write about. Finally when nothing comes to mind and I give up, I wonder if I am done with this chapter in my life as well.

Until then,
Jerry, MDR


Monday, November 18, 2013

Too Much Chili

This weekend was just plain fun. We cooked chili at the Denton Elks lodge both Saturday and Sunday and we had a blast. It might be the people, it might be the environment and it might be the cooking but in the end I think it's all the above that makes it that way.

Saturday I placed 3rd in beans and 6th in my chili. But all that didn't matter to me one bit because I had something I have not had in a very long time there with me.

All three of my girls came by to spend the day with me. The oldest drove up from college station, the youngest had the day off and the middle one came by to smile for the camera and hug her daddy's neck. It was the best day I have had in a long time.

Sunday I placed 11th and the wife placed 14th in our chili. The oldest girl also cooked with us both days but for some reason she is not placing right now. She will get it, I am sure of that.

We had many friends and family drop by on both days to support us and hang out. I want to say thanks to all that did and you all made it a very special weekend. 

Other than that, back to work.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Know You!!!!

The other day I had a guy come over and buy the last remaining rabbits. Just like every other Craigslist add, it was a 50/50 chance if he even showed at all so I didn't hold my breath. 
The guy was actually running on time and after unloading his cages we walked around back. He stopped, looked around and started commenting on how set up I was and started asking questions about this and that. Of course when anyone shows interest in the Mini Farm, I give a tour.
We walked from project to project and I described in detail what everything was used for. When we got to the Bathhouse his face lit up and he looked straight at me and said, "I know you!!!!" He continued, "I read your stuff on the internet, your the Modern Day Redneck!"
Why yes, yes I am.

Meet Thumper. He is a miniature donkey and I didn't want him, the youngest girl "Wee" did. He was free and she could not turn him down. How could I get mad at her for doing the same stuff I have done so many times before.
I don't know her plans for him, but he is hers to take care of.

With all the goats gone for a while now it's nice to have something back in the pasture.

And yes, he is riding in the back seat of my truck.   

This weekend we will be cooking at a Chili Cook off both Saturday and Sunday at the Elks Lodge in Denton. This place is located just off the square on Hickory St.
If you find yourself up that way then stop by for a visit. Or if you think you got some good chili then bring your fixens and come on. We are always looking for new cooks to haze. 

Other than that, I'm as busy as a one armed paper hanger,


Monday, November 4, 2013

I say, Let It Flood

Over the past two weeks we have had about four and a half inches of rain.
The yard is flooded, at times the back looks like a lake. The ditches ran full for several hours in the heavy parts of the rains. We can't step off of our little pathways without sinking to our ankles and loosing a shoe.
I love it and I am not complaining one bit. The water tanks are back to the full mark and over flowing. I can start taking showers again in the bathhouse as soon as the sun comes back out. Everything is greening up again and not looking so dead anymore.

This new job is keeping me busy. I don't have the time to post as before. Maybe it will slow down this winter some.

 We didn't have a chili cook off this weekend, but I did spend it cooking anyway. I have been itching to get some meat on the smoker and Sunday the rain held off for me to do just that. I smoked some ribs, Pork Butt and a Brisket.
No, there was no party, I just wanted to get this stuff smoked up and into freezer bags so we can eat on them for the next couple of weeks. Plus I am trying to make room in the freezers for some wild hog. My dad has been trapping several hogs a week and I have not had the room for any. Well, now I do so this Sunday I will be at the hog killing.

Plus, the wife got her a job now so that means I go into cooking and cleaning mode.
We both have the "De-Clutter" bug and we have been moving stuff into boxes and out to the barn. Once the house is the way we want, then we will probably have a big garage sale. 

What else...........
Next Saturday we will cooking chili in Greenville Texas for the Wounded Warrior Project. If anyone is interested in sponsoring our cooking team for this cookoff then you can hit the donate button on the right side of this blog.
This is their first cookoff at this location and I am trying to get as many cooks as possible for this great cause.  

Other than that, life is good.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Best So Far

This weekends Chili Cook Off was the best so far.
We cooked in Whitewright TX for the Firefighters Fundraiser and we cleaned up.

First off I want to say how proud of the wife I am for getting 1st place chili. She almost cried when they called her number. I knew she won the moment I tasted her chili right before turn in.
I won 4th place with mine and was happy about that.
After we turned in our chili, this place has a people's choice award where all the public gets to go around and taste everyones chili. They bring little cups and we fill the cups and then they score how good it was on a card. The wife and I decided to combine our two chilies so we would have enough for everyone. Well, we ended up getting 2nd place In peoples choice.

On top of all that we also won a 75.00 dollar voucher for the wife to get a body wrap, a 75.00 dollar Academy gift card, a 25.00 dollar Walmart gift card and the best of all, A night out on the town in a brand new Cadillac and a 100.00 dollar gift card to a fancy restaurant I can't even pronounce.

Last year all together we won about 1300.00 dollars worth of prizes but nothing on the chili. This year we won about 500.00 worth of prizes and three trophies.
The wife now has 4 points and I have 3. We need 12 to be invited to the world championship.

This kind of weekend is what makes me come back for more. We had a great time, with great friends cooking for a great cause with a great outcome.

That's it for now,

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Chili, Chilly Weekend

No, really it is going to be a chilly, chili weekend.

There will be rain most of the day Saturday with a cool North wind while we cook chili at the North Texas Firefighters Fundraiser in Whitewright Texas.
We do not have a sponsor for this cook off but being we had to register a month ago and I gave them my word I would be there, we are going.

No complaints about the weather, I have a tent with walls so it will be a great time no matter what, wish us luck.

Other than that, I think this weekend will be the first time we will need to light the fire place. That would make a great Sunday right there. The Cowboys playing, a fire, and a big pot of cabbage with fresh baked corn bread. Holy crap, that's living right there.

Y'all have a great weekend,

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Biggest Threat To A Prepper

The biggest threat to a prepper is not the zombies charging down the street to pillage your stash. It is not your so called neighbors and friends while you are away. It is not the government making tougher restrictions on how you live. It is not even a natural disaster. Why, it is because we are prepared for all those sorts of things. The biggest threat and most devastating thing to a prepper is simply a little ole mouse.
    This little creature can ruin just about everything you have worked for before you even realize it.
Food storage's are a mouses Walmart. Once they find it, it's over. They tell all their friends and family and before long you are overrun.  Traps, Cats and Poisons are fine where applicable, but it will not keep them all away all the time. You might even think you are rid of them and then the next time you reach in and grab that fresh loaf of homemade bread, you find a hole eaten all the way through it. 
What's that old saying, "If you build it they will come." Well I say, "If you store it they will come." Now with cooler temperatures, the mice are looking for a warmer environment. They are coming out of the fields to your storage room full of all those goodies.   
There is nothing worse then having to throw away good food because it was not stored correctly. If you find bags or boxes that have been chewed open and some of it's contents are gone, I would not chance it unless I was starving and just throw the whole thing away. I am not going to risk getting sick eating from where a mouse was or happen to peed on.

If you are already going through the effort of storing food, then why not protect your investment with a little more effort. The best way I have found is plastic buckets. You can get them free from the grocery store if you ask, I get mine from the bakery department. They are the small buckets that the icing came in. Leaving the food in the packages, I can put almost six months supply of elbow macaroni in one of those.  This goes the same with everything else that comes in a package. It does make rotation a little harder, but it's worth it. Just label the bucket and your set. They also stack easy so you can have more room for other things.

These little buckets are also great for making up a survival cache. By placing the essentials in it for a weeks worth of meals they are great to take on road trips just in case. Plus if "It" did happen and your friends come knocking, you can give them a bucket of food so you are not taking away from your storage and your family. Just a thought.   

The box foods don't fit too well in a bucket so I use totes. It is more of a pain to do this with the box foods because you can only see the tops of the box, but it's better then throwing them away because of a hungry critter. Date the box tops so with a quick glace you can see what's for dinner that night.
This is the same for all the breads. A tote with small holes drilled into it holds all the bread and keeps it fresh and everything else away.

If you never had a problem like this then that's great. It will happen though and unless you want to waste food, money and time then I suggest taking the extra time to protect your investment. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Always Too Short

Her visits are always too short. The oldest girl is back at collage now and we are all back to our normal routines. I won't see her again until Thanksgiving.
 Here she is sporting her birthday gift we got her at this weekends chili cook off. We got back in time to make the Sunday cook off in Dennison Texas. This cook off was sponsored by The House Arta Built
If you want to learn something then you need to read this blog. It is amazing to say the least. We can't thank our sponsors enough. The money raised this time was for the American Red Cross.
BEB and the wife got final table and I got 6th place with our chili. We also won 2nd place in show. 
The weather was perfect for a birthday and chili cooking weekend. I wished I could have stretched is another day or two though.

Until next time,


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fun Birthday Weekend

My oldest daughter is coming in from collage tonight to celebrate her 21st birthday. We have big plans this weekend and I think she will really like the gift me and her momma got for her.
This girl is something else. I could not be more proud of the life she is living and the woman she is turning out to be. Even though I am suppose to be the teacher in life, I often find the roles reversed and she is the one that pulls me through the tough times. When she is home everyone's mood is better, more laughter is echoed through the house and the sun seems to shine a little brighter even on a cloudy day. Her bubbly personality just seems to get to ya and you start feeling the same way, you can't help it.
It seems like just yesterday she was only eight years old and in my mind I still see her that way. It slipped away so fast. 
She asked me a while back if I had any regrets. Even though I have always taught her to live without any, I said I did. My biggest regret was chasing the dollar and not spending more time with her while she was growing up. I didn't see that until she was gone.

I got her for the next couple of days and we are going to have a great time.
I will keep you updated,


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Long Time Coming

It's been a long time coming to get back out and do some shooting. With the shelves being cleared of most all ammo for the past few months and the limits put on how many boxes I could buy once I did find it, made it where I didn't want to waste any on targets. The days of shooting hundreds of rounds down range may be over, but a few every now and then won't hurt.
A friend of mine had a custom 308 build for him and wanted to give it a try. The range finder found the fence to be 150 yards out so we set up a target and got after it. My shot went high left and right through this 2 3/8" metal fence post. This thing is a beast.
Nice firearm and would love to own one.

Now being I can find 22's again, it's time to start tinking some cans.

See ya.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chili Filled Weekend

This weekend was nothing but Chili Cooking.

Both days we cooked in Sanger Texas by the lake. Saturday's cook off was was sponsored by and
dedicated to an old friend, YOF. Rest in peace my friend.
The money raised went to the Elks Charities. I took 2nd place in the Beans, the wife got 14th with her chili. We cooked inside due to the threat of rain all day. We had a blast.

Sunday's cook off was sponsored by lottajoy. Please run by her blog and check her out. The money raised went to the Gold Triangle Charities.
We decided to cook outside just because. It did rain on us a little but it was much better than cooking inside again. We didn't bring our tent so it was pure redneck cooking. We used a table as a wind break and cooked right off the tailgate, loved every minute of it. The wife nor I placed with our chili but it was still fun. We did place 2nd in show, I don't know how but we did. I guess it's my bubbly personality.

It was a great turn out and a lots of fun. I want to say thanks to all that came out in support of us, and a big thanks to the sponsors. Next weekend we will be cooking in Dennison TX at Loose Wheels, so if you are on that side of the world come by say hey.
If you are looking to sponsor our cooking team at a cook off you can hit the donate button on the right side of this blog to do so. A sponsorship spot is $40.00. This money is not for me in anyway, it is for the entry fees and goes straight to charity.   

That's it for now, Y'all have a great day,

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I Hate Change

If everything stayed the same, I would be a happy man.

I hate change. I hate not knowing what I am doing. I hate not knowing where to go. I hate starting a new job all together, but it had to be done.

Over the past four years I got comfortable at my job. I knew everything there was to know about it, all the procedures, all the requirements and all the specifications. Now all that is thrown out the window and I have to start all over again. It may be the same kind of work, but everything is different. I guess when it comes right down to it, I hate not knowing.

Just four years ago I was in the same situation. I remember how bad it was learning all the ins and outs of the job I just left. I almost walked off at least a dozen times, but I didn't. This is the same thing. I am already second guessing my decision to leave, my brain shuts down and all I want to do is go home. I am afraid I will let my new employer down and most of all I am afraid I will let myself down.
The good thing is I know this will pass. I know in a couple of weeks I will "get it." They are paying me good money to do a job I already know how to do, it's all the little things that I have to learn like the documentation, people and responsibilities I am now in charge of. Plus the new job site I have to transverse on a daily bases that I don't have a clue where to go.

Give me a couple of weeks or so and I will get the hang of it.

Thanks for letting bend your ear,

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Beautiful Chili Weekend

Finally, we cooked chili in chili cooking weather again.
The front blew in bringing some rain and dropping temps down in the 40's. Strong North winds and drizzle all day made cooking pretty miserable, but no one complained at all. Just the day before it was in the mid 90's so we were all loving it.

I got to walk! My chili got 9th place and I won this nice little mug as a trophy. The wife and the daughter got 13th and 14th.
Our team also won first place in show getting this really neat metal trophy. We weren't going to do show, but we really liked the trophy.

So now we are looking for sponsors so we can keep cooking. For 40.00 dollars the wife and I can cook next weekend. If you are looking for something to do with forty dollars that will go to charity then hit the donate button on the right and we will put your name on our cooking box as a sponsor for this chili year. The money from all the cooks at these cook offs go to the charity of the ones putting it on. If that's something you feel led to do then we appreciate it and will give you all the credit when we win.

We had a great time this weekend and I hope to continue cooking.   

Talk to ya tomorrow,

Friday, October 4, 2013

Empty Fields

The pasture is empty, the barns are quiet. 

Today, the last truck pulled away with what was left of the animals we had here on the Mini Farm. Sad day yes, but in the end it had to be done.
The money from all the animals and the recurring feed bill every month will be put in the A/C-Heater fund. We can heat the house this winter from wood but next summer I will have to have the A/C unit replaced so we can live here. It is hard to justify all these animals and not have A/C and heat so they had to go.
The new job I start on Monday comes with a raise so that will help a little out as well.
More frugal living is a must now and that's okay, been there done that before. I'm not above eating beans for a few months.

The oldest girl and her wreck is moving along. Her car is being fixed and will take two weeks to be completed, the estimate is $5800. Not too bad for the amount of damage that was done. We got her in a rental car now so she can function while at college. This has been a nightmare to say the least.
The only thing I can really say about it all is that when it rains, it pours.

The good news is this weekend a cold front is moving in dropping the lows to in the high 40's and the highs in the low 70's for a few days. This will help on everything including the mood.
It will make this chili cooking weekend perfect even if it does rain a little. Unless we get some sponsors for our team, this will be the last weekend for chili cooking so we will be giving it our all.

I wanted to say a quick howdy to all the folks over a Feedspot. Welcome to MDR and if you need anything just let me know.

Short but sweet.
Wish us luck,

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Yup, I did it, I fired my employer today so I am now unemployed, I am free.

I gave them a month notice I was firing them and still they waited till the last minute to get a replacement. I spent only one hour with the poor guy this morning before walking out the door. He was like a deer in the head lights.
My work is very technical and a responsible company would have send someone out at least a week in advance before my last day. Now, they are all screwed.
This weekend we will be cooking in Gainesville Tx at the Lavender Ridge Farms Fall Festival.
After that we will be taking a break due to saving money for the new A/C-Heater unit for the house. If I were not the one putting this cook off on I wouldn't be doing it. That would look kinda bad If the guy who set everything up and has all the answers didn't even go.
It's going to be fun. So if you are up that way and are looking for a really nice place to spend the day, come on out.    

By the way if you were wondering. I start a new job on Monday. In my line of work you have to change employers about every three to four years to stay on top of the curve. If not then you get passed by on promotions and pay. New people coming in from other engineering firms are getting top dollar and after a while they start coming in for more than you make so that is when you have to make the move. Loyalty for your company is non existent and they feel the same to the people they hire. If they can find someone to do your job better and cheaper then you are out the door.
I admit I am a money prostitute. I sell my expertise for as much as I can get and who pays that is who benefits from it. 

That's all I got for now, see ya on the flip side.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Basking In The Shade

I have had this Shade project lingering over my head for sometime now and even though summer is almost over and we are tightening the belt to afford to replace the A/C-Heater unit in the house, this one little thing had to get finished.

Over the past few months I have been collecting materials for the patio shade.
At first I wanted to build a nice wooden structure that looked all fancy, but after pricing everything out I quickly realized that was not going to work. A $3200 patio cover was not in the budget.
So I started to think cheap and designed it, but even then with cattle panels and lattice work it was going to cost $400. Yes, it is a far cry from the first design but it was going to look like crap and I was not going to be happy with it.

My cousin called a month ago and asked if I could use a automatic sun shade. Well sure I could!
I had some heavy wall pipe already on my trailer and down in the barn I had some lumber, lattice work and broken bags of concrete I have been collecting from the cull piles at the lumber stores. I make it a habit to go by and look through the cull piles at least once a week. You can save a butt load of money that way.

I set the posts last Thursday and somehow during all the other things that was going on Sunday, I managed to finish the project. It just so happens I had my labor force (the girls) there at one time and I took advantage of it.
  This shade even has a remote control. All I have to do it hit the button and it automatically unrolls itself. Now that's high cotton right there!
Not a bad little project that will come in really handy and all for $18.00. That was the price of the u-bolts to hold the boards on the metal pipe.

See ya,

Monday, September 30, 2013

Can't Get Any Wetter

What we thought was going to be a relaxing birthday weekend for the wife turned out to be just the opposite.

We made it to the resort Friday night and was looking forward to a free and fun filled weekend. Saturday morning after breakfast I hit the golf course, the wife and oldest girl went for their spa day.
Now, if you did not read my last post then I will will quickly recap. This was a free weekend full of free food and fun at a classy resort about thirty minutes from here. The only catch is I had to spend about forty five minutes listening to them trying to sell me a share.

I don't get to golf as much as I want. I wished I could do it every weekend but it gets a little pricy for me.
Plus, I never get the chance to play on a course like this one. Most of the times it's a low budget public course that is not taken care of. So I was really excited to have this opportunity.
I was put with a couple of guys because I was alone. I was really glad they played at my level because I really didn't want to look like more of a fool out there than I usually do.  

As luck would have it, at hole #6 it started a downpour.  It rained and it rained and it rained. I was soaked, my clubs were soaked, I already started getting swamp butt and by hole #9 I was ready to call it done. As my ball dropped in the cup and the rain poured off my hat down my back, I told the guys I had enough. The older of the two looked at me and said, "Why you quitting, you can't get any wetter."
He made a good argument there and I decided to man up, push through and finish the back 9. The rain stopped as we were putting on 18, go figure. I just had to laugh.

I had enough time to head back, shower and change then pick the girls up from the spa. They smelled good and their skin had a glow. Even though I was a new member of the soggy bottom boys, as long as they had a good time was enough for me.

We met the salesman and I was all ready to break his little heart when he did some reverse psychology stuff on me and through me off guard. He started off by saying, "It does not make me a difference if you buy or not. As a matter of fact, I don't care if you do or don't. You probably won't but, I still need to go through this anyway." 
This made me want to do it even more now, just to show him. I started asking questions and the wife started stomping my foot. I left feeling good and with a sore foot, I didn't buy nor did he care. I'm glad the wife was there though.

We could have stayed that night for free as well but we ended up getting bored and going home. Now, who goes to a resort like that and gets bored? Well, I guess we do, it's just not our lifestyle.

The oldest girl left back to college Sunday morning. Forty five minutes later the phone rang and I saw the panic in my wife's eyes. Without knowing what was going on, I automatically grabbed the keys and started heading for the truck, she was right behind me. A lady ran a red light and t-boned her car.
The daughter has some bumps and bruises and the car had to be towed off. We are so thankful she didn't get hurt. It was the best birthday present the wife could ask for. 

That's all I got for now. I did get a little project knocked out yesterday. I will post about it next time.
Until then and sorry for the rushed post,


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Living Like A King

Being cheap is not always bad. There is a way to get away for a weekend vacation to a fancy resort and spend next to nothing.
Take this weekend for instance, being that we are not cooking anywhere and with the serious problems that came up here at the mini farm, we were going to spend all weekend sitting around the house.
On top of that, it's the wife's birthday weekend and we had nothing planned.

This is coming off of last week where we had to make the decision to sell all the animals and start saving as much money as possible just hoping to be able to come up with $4500 by March. All the little things like cooking chili and starting to finally enjoying life a little has caught up to us.
I let my belt loose just a little and my pants fell down. It's alright though, we will make it.

I was really wanting to do something for the wife this weekend, but under the circumstances I could not justify it, then I remembered an email I got earlier in the week.
There is this resort not far from here, about 30 minutes, and they wanted us to come up for the weekend, so I called them and asked for the details. Yea, we will have to sit through a 45 minutes presentation on their vacation package they want us to buy, but what we get in return is worth it.
For me, a free round of golf on their championship course including cart. For the wife, a day at the spa including massages and relaxation room. Plus four meals free, free 2 night stay in the villa, A forty dollar gift card to use at the resort and they are throwing in another room and spa package for the oldest girl because she had already planned on coming up for the weekend. All this for about an hour of my time. I went on their website and priced it all out, I will be getting around $1500 worth of fun for that one hour. Not bad.

Alright, I know what you all are thinking and it's okay. I do these kinda deals often so I know what they are doing and I know the scams behind it. This kinda thing is how I got all the tickets for the five of us to get into Disney Word one year. Saved me big bucks for and hour of my time. Over the years I have stayed in some really nice places and received some really nice gifts by taking vacation tours. It is one way to vacation like a King on a Squires budget. I always tell them up front on the phone that I am not interested and cannot afford it and they don't care. They just want me there so they can try to prove me wrong.

As most of you long time readers know, I can sell a ice to an Eskimo and I am always bartering and looking for deals. Does taking the wife on her birthday weekend to a resort where she will be papered like a Queen for free make me cheap? Well sure it does and I'm okay with that. I get to play golf, the wife and the daughter get to spend a day at the spa, all for one hour of my time. I have done worse for less, life is good. 

See ya down the road,
MDR, the cheapskate      

Monday, September 23, 2013

Prepping Is Not Enough

I just wrote a big long post here about some problems that came up over the weekend. It was a "Woe is Me" post with a lot of kicking, screaming, cussing, spitting, head banging, doom and gloom kinda post. I spent three paragraphs complaining about this and that, about Murphy, Karma and Bad luck. One step forward and three steps back was repeated at least three times. In my eyes the issue that came up was more than I can bare at the moment and I just needed to vent.
I proof read the lengthy post and hovered the little arrow over the publish button. I watched the blinking line at the end of the last word written, waiting for my next command. Then I hit the backspace button and didn't let up until there was noting left except a blank screen.
I was not suppose to write all that. This is what I was suppose to write.

Everyone on here has problems, we all struggle one way or another. What I think is big may be little in someone else's eyes. The issue that came up for me this weekend is just that, very small. I thought it was big, but I was mistaken.
If you don't know her or read her blog mysticmud is going through some tough times. The problems she is going through just break my heart and make mine look so small. You have to go and read about it to get the full effect. Project Finn is a website she has set up just in case you feel led to help. If you can't then please send your thoughts her way and to her family. 
I promise you, after you read her story your problems will feel just as small as mine are.

Thank you,

The Deck Was Stacked

This weekend we cooked in St. Joe Texas.
This sleepy town is only 1.1 square miles with under a thousand folks living there. Nice little quiet place stuck on HW82 heading West resting right on the edge of the Red River Valley.
The DQ is the only place open where you can get a cup of coffee early in the morning. When the door opens banging against the cow bell, a hush falls on the crowd. All the old timers drinking coffee turn and look to see who you are and if they know you. While paused at the door and with every eye on me, I checked my fly to make sure it was up.  

We had a great time this weekend. The weather could not have been better. 2 1/4 inches of rain fell and the green has already started coming back. The smell of fall is in the air and along with all the animals, our step has a little more kick in it. I hid my shivers and goose bumps as I mocked the wife because she was wearing a jacket. Just last week were were still in the upper 90s. This morning, a cool 58.

Something magical was going to happen at the cook off, I could feel it. I couldn't wait to get there, get set
up and start cooking. Once there we started to realize the deck was stacked against us.
In this little town, a long way from nowhere, there was;
The current World Champion, three past World Champions, the Louisiana State Champion, The Intercontinental/Canadian Champion, The Mexico Champion and about seven of the top ten in the USA.  I should have just turned around and went home, but I looked at it this way, If I'm going to get beat, I wanted to be beat by the best.

We even got to meet a fellow blogger. My new friend over at Your Crazy Uncle Bubba drove up to meet us and have a good time. He and his wife got to judge the winning table of chili and see what all that was about. It's always good to meet like minded folks and even though we have never met, it was almost like we already known one another.
As most of you already know, put a couple of beers in me and I start talking. I normally don't say much and most of the time a little stand offish. I just wondered what went through my new friend's mind when after our introductions I said, "I thought you were younger than you are." Yea that's probably not the best way to start off a new friendship and the wife is right, she can't take me anywhere. But he laughed it off and we moved on.
Anyway, super nice folks and being we live close I hope to see them again, maybe have them come out to the Mini Farm for some BBQ. I can cook it better then chili any day. (So I keep telling myself)

The cook off results,
My beans made the top ten again and my chili didn't. Out of 35 cooks and 20 of those being champions of some sort or another, I got beat by the best. I say the best because the wife was right up there with them. She got 8th place among the best in the world and I am really proud of her. 
Girlfriend is holding her own (and she wasn't even going to cook either)

That's all I got for now, I got some bad news to share next post, Doom and Gloom kinda crap.
Don't forget to stop by my buddy's blog on the way out.

See ya,

Friday, September 20, 2013

Best of Both Worlds

Mark my words, I will never again complain about the rain. Last night it set in and it will be gone tonight. Even though it may be short, it will leave about 2" of the precious liquid behind. At this point I would settle for anything.
Another reason it's a good day is because the high temp for the day is only going to be 76 and the low will be 66. It can't get any better than that.

Even with the rain today the weekend plans are all still a go. We will be cooking in St. Joe this weekend and this cook off should be a good one.
We need all the support we can get so if you decide you need something to do Saturday come on out, drink a beer with me and taste my chili.

See ya down the road,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Homemade Forge

I stopped by my Dad's place this week and he wanted to show me a project he just finished.

 Something that will come in really handy,
 he built a homemade forge.
This small forge was built from scraped materials. The only cost was the connection fittings for the propane bottle.

The heat bricks and insulation made it where the outside does not heat up even though the inside is a bright orange. 

Scrap lawn mower blades, files and rake springs get heated up and hammered out into whatever his imagination can muster.
At the moment he is making some really nice looking knives.

He has the metal shop and I have the wood shop. It is a great combination for getting things built.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chili and Beans

We drove along way to cook beans and chili this weekend. As a matter of fact it was the furthest we have
driven to due such a thing. A two and a half hour drive to have your butt kicked is not what I had in mind.
We don't even take much with us anymore. Last year we loaded two trucks with props and attention getters and quickly found out it was just too much to set up and break down. Now we take just the bare minimum to cook with.
  People were cooking outside and inside. We chose to cook out because of the cloud cover and lower temps. I didn't break a sweat until 2:00 and that's great.
Our beans made the top ten and our chili made the top twenty. I was hoping for the top five in both but that's just how it goes. In the end the trophies are great if you make, but the reason why we do it is for the charities and the chili cooking family we have grown to love.

Next weekend we are cooking in St. Joe Texas. I would like to say we have a good chance there but you just never know. Maybe one day I will dial it in and walk a lot more.

I had jury duty today so I am off work. I don't mind it too much, at least it's something different and I get a whole $10.00 for my troubles.

Talk to ya in a day or two,

Friday, September 13, 2013

Here It Comes

It's just right there, I can almost see it. YES, It's a cold front!!!
This weekend the temps will only be in the mid 90's. Get the jacket folks, it's going to be a cold one.
Plus, they are saying we have about a 20% chance of light scattered showers. In the big picture, that means my place will have a 0.001% chance of getting a few drops. Fingers are crossed that we are in that very small percent range.
Why do they even tease us?

Play time again this weekend. We will be cooking in Wichita Fall Texas tomorrow. It will also be the first time we will enter our beans for competition., fingers crossed on that too.
I would say to come on out and visit with us, but I don't know anyone who lives out there. It is a 2 1/2 hour drive from where I live and I wouldn't make that drive just to sit around and drink beer and eat chili unless I was cooking. Well...... I have done worse for less.
So if you are bored tomorrow grab your Coleman camp stove, your best recipe and come on out and lets see what you got. As it is right now we will be the only folks who we know, all the rest will have shifty eyes.

Be safe,

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I have been researching a new way to feed my animals during these summer droughts and winter months when I am usually buying hay or feed, I found Fodder.

Fodder is a hydroponic grown feed that is rich in nutrients and proteins. It is a barley, oat or wheat seed germinated, grown and harvested in 7 to 8 days. It grows in tubs on a shelf and when harvested can be rolled up, cut and given to the chickens, goats and rabbits. 
The system I am designing will have a large tub of feed ready to harvest every day. 
For a this system the initial set up cost is a little high, but the finished product is worth it. Estimated cost to feed my animals is 0.17 cents a day. 
Go figure, I learn something new every day.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Worst Yet

I guess that if this keeps up, we will end up a desert in a couple of years.

It may not be the hottest on record or even the driest but by the looks of it, it's just as bad.
I have lost some chicks in some of these cracks and a goat got stuck in one. We try and not go out at night now due to the fact we might break a leg or worse yet, fall into one of our cracks and not make it back never to be seen again. It's dry to say the least. The other problem with these cracks are when it does start raining, they turn into sink holes. I have one in the pasture from last year that is big enough to drive a truck in.
I am out of water in my storage tanks, the well is running low and pumps air if ran for any period of time. We my friends, are in trouble here.
With over 100 degree weather for a while now and no rain or water, the gardens have all but dried up, the animals are suffering and we are not able to do anything much outside. I have already had some rabbits die due to heat stroke even though they are in the shade and have frozen water bottles in their cage.
Years past I have always welcomed September for it's rain and cooler temps but so far this year it has proved me wrong.

This weekend plans are to keep everything alive. Just as it has been for the last two months. We do have a couple of gatherings to attend but other than that, no projects, no interesting things to write about, just survival.

Keep cool,