Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's That Time Of The Year

It's sunny all week, the ground just gets dry enough where you can work and then it rains. I love the rain, but does it have to do it just on the weekends?

Saturday we are having a Easter BBQ over at my dad's where we are also celebrating a couple of family birthdays, one being my youngest girl Wee, she turned 17 yesterday. That makes me an old man.
Today she is at the county youth fair showing her shop project, I wish her all the luck because she has really put a lot of work into it.

 I was hoping for good weather so I could do some more roofing on the giant bird house. This project has lingered on for way too long now and needs to be completed. I am done with the nesting boxes so there isn't anything I can do in the shop to help speed it along. I don't see how I will have the time anyhow being I need to be cooking for the party. I am known for bringing the "out of the box" dishes and this time will be no different. I will be making Onion Crusted Plantains, Potato-less Potato Salad and Bacon & Cheese Pull-A-Parts. I know there is nothing wrong with the tried and true, but I am always looking to explore new tastes.  

The tomatoes have been taken out of the greenhouse everyday on the notion they were going to get planted, but I worked late every night and was not able to devote any time to getting them in the ground. Maybe if the rain stops by Sunday I will be able to do just that. They are already making small tomatoes. 

The corn got bit from the last freeze even though I tried to protect them some what. I will need to replant as soon as possible if I ever hope to harvest any. 
Other than that, the greenhouse is packed full and ready, I just have to find the time.

The rabbit tractor is in it's final design stage and ready for production as soon as I get the Aviary finished. Then a new solar dehydrator needs to be build and after that I will start on the Hydroponics system I have been wanting to do for a while now. 

That's all I got for now, Have a great weekend,

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Little Work

Being that the weather was bad, I did not expect to get much done anyway.

Friday's preppers/homesteaders meeting turned out to be a full house. We had a couple of great speakers talking about Agenda 21 and the Texas Naturalist Organization. I always take something away from our little get togethers.

It rained all day Saturday so I had the opportunity to spend some time in the shop cleaning and building the nesting boxes for the giant bird house I am building the wife.   
I don't know if it was the weather or not but I was tired Saturday and decided to take a nap. I never sleep and I hardly ever get tired so I was kinda worried about being wore out. I almost didn't even make it to the crawfish boil because of it.

Sunday I had to make a run into town for some paint because I do not keep pink paint on hand. I found some on the clearance rack for $2.00
I spent some time making the nesting boxes look good. I really like the way it turned out. I even took the time to paint the insides of each box.

I found out the hard way last night that when your body says to slow down you should do it. I spent the night in the ER because my heart was doing some really weird stuff. I normally would not have worried about it but the pain and the way it was beating had me thinking something was wrong, turns out there was. Nothing serious at the moment, I am just low on some stuff that helps it stay in rhythm.
Turns out the meds I take and the weight I have lost do not mix anymore. So the good news is I get to cut back on the high blood pressure medication. The bad news is I need to slow down a little and get more rest. Another 20 pounds and I should be off them completely.

Who has time for rest? You should see what next weekend has to offer.

That's all I got for now.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I Fit Right In

There are not many places I go where I can blend in with the crowd. Usually I stand out and most of the time I'm even the topic of discussion with the occasional point and whisper. The crawfish boil was that spot where I was just another person in the crowd. I really liked it.

They just boiled everything together and poured it all out in a home made wooden trough. Then you used a dust pan to scoop it out and onto your tray. They provided free beer and whatever else you wanted to drink.
The whole family was there along with a few hundred other folks all having a great time.

This was my kind of living right here. I ate for two hours and never got full. Each tail took a little bit to get the meat out, but that one little bite was worth it. 
It was a little cold but the Cajan spice kept you burning up inside.

There are a couple more weekend updates I will post about later so that's all I got for now.
Have a great week,

Friday, March 22, 2013

It All Depends

The weekend plans all depend on the weather. A cold front lingers just to the North and a freeze is said to be upon us Sunday morning. Cold rain and wind is the forecast for most of the day tomorrow.

Tonight we will be at the monthly group meeting listening to two great speakers. Several new people will be attending for their first time so I will have to be on my best behavior. The once handful of concerned folks is getting bigger and bigger every month.
Not too long ago I can remember being the odd ball by living the way I do, now I am a commodity. 

Tomorrow I really wanted to get more done on the giant bird house, but it looks like the weather will keep that from happening. If I can, I will work on the roof but if I am made to stay in the shop then I will start on the nest boxes. Either way at least I am getting something done on this lingering project.

Tomorrow night we will be living it up. We were invited to a big crawdad boil a couple towns over. I know it's a lot of work for little food, but it's worth it. This is my kind of eating right here.

Sunday the plan was to set out the tomato plants. The greenhouse has done it's job and the plants need to be in the ground. The predicted freeze is making it where I don't want to risk it. I have enough gallon jugs to put over them for protection if I do set them out.
I might just go ahead and do it and take the risk. This time last year my tomatoes were already planted for two weeks.
This should be the last freeze of the year.
The peppers won't go out for another month or so.   

That's all I got for now. Have a great weekend,

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's Too Warm For Chili

I thought chili is supposed to be cooked when it's cold, not in Texas it ain't. Competition chili cook offs are all year long here.
Last weekend we had a cook off that was close enough to the house to go to, so at the last minute we thought what the heck.
Normally we would spend several days planning and getting ready, but it has been three months since our last competition so we just jumped in the truck.
We didn't take the full set up, only a table and the cooker. It was much easier that way. One half of our team had other obligations so it was just me, the wife and the girls. We even had some friends come by and showed their support. I can't think of many things I would have rather been doing. Well except fishing of course.

The oldest was up from college and took this lovely picture of me, the wife and Captain Morgan. I don't know which one I love the most.
Good times right there. 

150 cooks showed up to the cook off. They gave trophies to the first 22 places and I did not receive one. I don't feel too bad about it though. The five past and the current world champions did not place either.
I am changing up a few things with my recipe after this one. I am trying out three new chili powders and a few new tricks I learnt. The new MDR chili will be revealed May 10th at the next cook off in Collinsville Texas.      

End the end we had a blast. I really enjoy doing these cook offs, but I can't see myself cooking chili in the summer. In May we have four cook offs back to back to attend and then I think I am shutting it down till November. 

That's all I got for now, Y'all have a good one and just to set the record straight, Captain Morgan may be great but, I love the wife more.    

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Cute Little Helper

I can say this about the wife, everyday she is out helping in one form or the other. More often then not I need a hand and it really makes a difference.
It's kinda funny, I will be looking at something trying to figure out how I am going to set up jigs or what not to hold a board when she pokes her head in and asks if I need anything. "Well as a matter of fact I do, hold this."

I only had a few hours on Sunday this past weekend to work on her giant bird house (Aviary). I was able to get the copula finished and got it in place along with the rafters of the structure. It looks kinda funny right now but imagine the roof all the way done and I think it will look pretty sharp. It almost reminds me of one of those carousels or something.

I will never build one again that is for sure. It is a pain in the butt. 

A little work will be done when I get home each night. I can only give it a few minutes each day, but at least it's something. I really need two more people so I don't have to climb up and down the ladder as much. Each roof board takes at least four trips.

Anyway, the wife came out to help me hold the rafters and I had to stop and take this picture to show just how cute my little helper was.

I was hoping the pink fingernails stood out more than they do in the picture, but you get the idea.

You see that eye ball looking me? That's the look. The look of "What the hell are you doing?"    

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Not My Lights!!!!

Last weekend I was head down and right in the middle of the wife's giant bird house project when she walks in and says that I needed to build her some miniature goat feeders.
Of course I fired off my default answer that you should know by now if you have been reading MDR, "It's not on the list!"
She went on to tell me how fast I could get this done and how I should go ahead and stop what I was doing to complete the newest task she had for me. I requested a detailed diagram thinking that would buy me a day or two. Five seconds later I was a handed a scribbled something or another on a piece of paper.
Looking at the paper that did not resemble anything like a goat feeder I struggled to find another excuse as to why I could not stop and build this thing.

"I don't have any materials for this." I said knowing this statement would end our discussion, but I was wrong.    

"I am sure you have something down in all those piles at the barn." Okay, she was right, I am sure there was something down there in my "organized" junk piles I could use, but I did not have the time to fool with it. So I told her to go take a look and see what she can find. 

Back to work again I kept one eye on the barn to see what she would be dragging back to the shop.  I figured this would either change her mind or at least put this off a few more days.

"NOT MY LIGHTS!" She found my lights that I scavenged off the job. These lights are used to illuminate the large signs you see on the highways. They run about $800.00 dollars new and these were being thrown away so I grabbed them. Just the bulbs are $40.00, I had already hung and wired up two of the eight, but I have not found a place for the rest.

"They would be perfect" she said batting her little eyes. "All you have to do is gut them."

"Gut them? Absolutely not, they are hard to find and cost way too much. Plus I have plans for them."

 So there you have it. A gutted and very expensive former light turned into a goat feeder. Not one, but two were made.

She was right, they are perfect little goat feeders and what the hell, I still have five lights left and now I have a bunch of replacement parts if I need them.   

Monday, March 18, 2013

There's Nothing Better Than

There's nothing better than eating outside.
At straight up six o'clock yesterday evening I shut it down, I was tired. It takes a lot to get me that way and I can tell you I was dragging. The wife, who is always intuitive to my movements, saw me slowly close the shop door. She knew my weekend was done without me even uttering a word, I guess she saw the tired look in my eyes.
Earlier in the day we talked about grilling, I had almost hoped she forgot about that, and when I made my way to the patio I was met with the sight and smell of a dish full of beautiful marinated t-bone steaks ready for the grill. These delicious cuts of meat would be on my menu if I knew it was my last meal. I dug deep, found some renewed energy and before long had a perfect diamond shape pattern seared on both sides. 
Loaded baked potatoes and fresh cut greenhouse salad soon shared what little space was left on the plate.
"Why waste such a beautiful evening eating indoors?" We both said to each other almost at the same time.  I suppose after twenty-three years together there is little need to talk being we can read each others mind.  

You know you live in the country when you share your salad with a baby goat or when a piece of potato falls on the head of a hen sitting right under you as you eat, waiting for any scrap to fall. Every dog we own was sitting in a circle around us while we ate, ears perked up, looking directly at our chewing mouths, just waiting for one of us to call their name and share one little bite. It was almost as if we were in a storybook, all living in harmony for the greater good. 
The end of our outdoor dinning experience was just as good as the beginning. The wife baked some wonderful cupcakes and without speaking we sat and enjoyed one of God's greatest gifts, dessert. I am blessed.  

Alright, that was a little too mushy. Before I get my man card pulled let me reign this back in. What a weekend it was. Packed full of everything from chili cook offs to construction. I will be posting about it during the week.
Wait till you see what the wife had me do even though it was not on the list.  Yes, I have learned to just do it.
I can tell you this, I needed to go back to work after this week so I could get some rest and holy crap, wait till you see what is planned for this weekend. Hang around, this is going to be fun.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and I will catch ya on the flip side, 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Some Quick Updates

I thought that being I have been too busy to post this week, just like every week, I would give a few quick updates on what's happening in life that I usually don't blog about.

Lately I have tried to not fill my posts with trivial things about my everyday life and stay on track with projects, gardens and what ever else I think you might find interesting. Who wants to read about the little things anyway, right? Being I will not be able to post again till next week and I have nothing to post about right now, I will fill this post with the trivial things. I don't blame you if you exit now because this might be boring.

I just finished my fist college class in about 18 years. I got an "A" and happy about it. The next class starts Monday and from reading the syllabus it will be a lot tougher than the last. Even though the degree is in Theology, this is turning out to be more demanding that I thought. I can't see how I can continue in this adventure with all that is going on, but I will try.

I am now Bonafied. I have been ordained for the past five years, but I never received my credentials. I am now in possession of the certification papers and can legally perform weddings, baptisms and funerals. My first wedding to officiate is in July. I might be as nervous as the bride and groom when it come down to it. The last thing I want to do is freeze up at their moment. I can see it now, "I now pronounce you.....umm......"

The more cruise ships that keep having problems, the more stressed I am getting. Everything is set up and we set sail at the end of April. I will have a case of water and a suitcase full of MREs with me just in case. I cannot bring aboard a heating source for the water, but if you put a water bottle in direct sun for 2 hours, it will be hot enough to to give you a nice warm meal. Plus I will have small bags with me just in case the toilets quit working. They won't let me bring on my complete bug out bag, but you can bet I will be prepared for anything other than sinking. (Ah, just typing that work made me sick, sinking)

We are cooking in one of the largest chili cook offs in North Texas tomorrow. Over 150 cooks and the winner will receive two all expense paid vacation package to some island somewhere. I cant remember where because I know I don't have a chance. There are five cook offs scheduled in the next two months in North Texas and Southern Oklahoma we plan to attend. I hope to at least make the final table in the Southwest open in the first of May in Durant.

I am trying to get me and the wife into the Texas Master Gardening classes so we can get certified as master gardeners. They want you to attend 50 classroom hours and 50 volunteer hours within a year. I don't know where I will be able to find the time, but I really want to do this. Also I found out they have a Texas Naturalist certification you can get as well. I might look into that for next year or, they may take the volunteer hours for both. If they do I might do both at the same time.

The past three weeks I have met some new folks that want to start attending the group meetings we hold once a month. Out of respect of the homeowner I have to meet with the folks and feel them out to make sure they are not radicals, so far so good. The people I have talked to are just like everyone else in the group. They are living or want to start living a more self sustainable lifestyle. This is turning out to be bigger and better than I first thought. A tremendous amount of knowledge is shared and I always walk away with something new. So the old wise tell about teaching an old dog new tricks don't apply this time.

The wife's Aviary is coming along. It is getting more complex everyday. What started out as a quick build has manifested into a monster. At every turn I get more and more detailed on this thing. Before long I might just close in the screens and live in it myself.

That's about all I got for now. I've got more, but this is getting a little long so I will cut it off here. Thank you if you stayed and read through it all. I know it was boring, but it is a post. Oh, if you know of some way I can generate about ten grand let me know. I need that so I can get back on track here at the Mini Farm. I am falling behind on the "Great Plan" because it takes money and time. Time I can always make by working through the night, but the money I cannot grow as fast.  Maybe one day.

See ya on the flip side,


Monday, March 11, 2013

Staying Busy

I don't think I spent much time in the house this weekend. I even missed the race yesterday because I just wanted to hang around in the shop. There has been a lot on my mind this week causing a lot of stress and worry so I just wanted to escape it all get my mind on something else. 

 All day Saturday the rain spoiled my plan to complete the wife's aviary this weekend. I did get the eight walls completed and installed during a brief weather window. I built every piece in the shop during the week and assembled it outside. I was impressed it actually worked and all fit together.
Trim work still needs to be done at every panel joint and that will be done through the week. Now that the time has changed I will be able to work on it two or three hours each night, when it dries out, if I want to.

This view is the door. You can see in the back where the solid piece is, that is where the nesting boxes will be. 

Sunday was cold, windy and soggy so I spent it in the shop making a mock up of the roof. Being this is the first time I have built an octagon I did not know what angles were needed to make the roof point. I studied it and even calculated what the cuts needed to be, but soon found it was easier to just Hillbilly it and cut each piece until it fit.

With that much effort given to practice and the octagon point actually turning out so good I decided to alter the design where I could use it. Now there will be a "Pop Up" roof on top of the main roof so the mock up will not go to waste. This point will sit two feet above the actual roof of the aviary and a bird perch, of sorts, will be up in the little round area. I don't know what it's called so I call it a "pop up"
The new design caused me to hang around in the shop and build the frame work for the "pop up"    

 I think this is turning out better than I figured. I wanted to do the best I could with this and take my time. I am sure I could have thrown something together in a day but this will be a focal point in the yard so I wanted it to look like I cared.

What good is this you ask, it's not. It has no prepper or homesteader function I can think of. Sure it could be used for rabbits, quail or whatever, but you know, everything I have built has been for that reason. I wanted to build something for the wife that did not have anything to do with anything except her happiness, that's it.

Have a great week,

Thursday, March 7, 2013

At Least It's Started

Even though I am not getting home until late every night I still go out to the shop and try to put in an hour or so on the wife's project.

I picked up a stack of lumber earlier this week to build the wife's aviary. I decided to go new because all the scrap and junk I have stacked behind the barn would not look good enough for this build. This structure will be right in the middle of the back yard and will be a focal point so it has to look good.

This is my first octagon build so it took a little time to lay out and get right, the first time. The only thing I hate worse then buying lumber is wasting it. I did do some smaller practice cuts on scrap wood just to make sure the angle was right.
Holding the boards at a 22.5 degree angle and trying to screw them together needed more hands than I had.
I quickly found out my shop is not big enough. I could only assemble half at a time and then finish putting it together outside. Even at that, I am not set up in the shop for big builds.

 There you have it, the top and bottom plates to the aviary. It's 8' feet across and will be 10' feet tall.
This only took an hour or so to build and the rest of the days this week I have been building the eight sides, one at a time. I only have three done at the moment. I don't have a picture of those yet because it's always dark when I am done for the night.
I should have all the sides built and installed this weekend, I hope.

I am already planning the next build, I plan to make a Rabbit Tractor. Almost like a chicken tractor but for rabbits. I have been wanting to get back into the meat rabbits again and I didn't want a bunch of cages to take care of every night. Plus I really don't have the time to weekly clean their room so a Rabbit Tractor, I feel, is the way to go.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bad Luck (VS) Murphy's Law (VS) Karma

When I was younger I used to let Murphy, Karma and Dad Luck get the best of me. One or the other would ruin my week with just the slightest little poke. Many times I felt like Bad Luck hovered over me like a rain cloud, Murphy camped out on my back and Karma would stalk me making it where I had to look around every corner before I proceeded. 
As a matter of fact it wasn't too long ago all three would party with me regularly and it seemed they were always trying to outdo each other.

Yes I am a firm believer in bad and good Karma. I avoid anything that I think may wake that monster up. I try and find kind things to do so I can bank up the good kind.
Yes I also believe that Bad Luck can find you and hover over you until he gets bored and moves on. Unlike Karma, I feel Bad Luck can find you for no reason at all.
And Yes I believe in Murphy's Law. I think Murphy has a sick since of humor and looks for any opportunity to make your life miserable. He primarily stays on you back.

I really don't want to give these guys any credit, but when you tie them all together it is what you call life. It is what it is and it all depends on how you handle it. 
This weekend we celebrated my 41st birthday pretty much all weekend. My oldest girl came up from A&M and the other two took off work to spend time with me. We spent time shopping, going places, doing this and that and even spent some time out in East Texas picking up a new Billy goat for the herd. For some reason or another the three guys I mentioned above decided to join the party and all at once.
At one point over the last two days I pictured them sitting back and comparing notes. Murphy would say, "That was funny right there Karma, but watch this."  Then Bad Luck would just giggle and say, "Ha, you think that was funny, watch what he does about this."

But here's the difference, At 30 I probably would have thrown a fit, cussed the world and swore vengeance. At 39 I probably would just stayed in a bad mood and ruined the weekend for everyone around me. Now at 41, I laughed right along with my three amigos and even turned around to pat Murphy on the head telling him. "that was a good one."
Sure I lost more money this weekend than I have in years in several different ways and yes that would be enough piss off a nun, but it's okay, it's nobody's fault. Did I learn something, yes.

In spite of it all, I loved the time we all spent together this weekend. If I have to party with Karma, Murphy and Bad Luck every weekend to be with all my girls then I will do it.
A big thanks to the Wife, BEB, Boop and WeWe for a great birthday weekend, it was one for the memory books. I love y'all so much.