Monday, December 29, 2014

Taking It Easy

I sure hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you all have a Happy New Year.
We sure did, I can tell you I am blessed more than I should be.

I had five days off and I was looking so forward in getting a lot accomplished on the house. In the end I didn't get much done and for most of those days I just took it easy. It seemed I was in slow motion and couldn't get into it, I blame it on the weather. For four of those five days it was cold, rainy and windy. That kinda puts you in a blaa mood.

I managed to get the front steps on the porch built and 3/4 of the house roughed in with electric. I was hoping to have the electric and plumbing done by the first of the year but that's not going to happen. I ran into some problems, caused by me of course, but they are still problems. You see, I don't build houses everyday and hindsight is 20/20. The plumbing and electrical was always in the back of my mind, but I kept putting off thinking about them and saying to myself "it will all work out." I am sure it will all work out in the end, but I have made it a lot harder on myself now because I didn't stop and take the time to think every aspect through at least a dozen times. Shuda Woulda Coulda kinda of deal.

Saturday we took a break from the Camper and decided to cook some chili. We were right on the edge of East Texas in a little town called Lake Tawakoni.
Here's the problem with being 10th and 11th in the world, plus having a daughter that is always in the top 10 when we cook. When we walk in, we hear folks saying they don't even need to cook now that the Fords are here. And I just nod my head and say, "That's right"
Jessie took 7th, I got 5th and Candy won 2nd.
What can you say, the Fords were in the house that day.

We plan to do a New Years Eve night time cook off on the 31st up in Wichita Falls. We have cooked there before and had our butts handed to us. They say if you place there, you are somebody. I won't jinks myself and say you are talking to somebody, yet.
I wasn't too happy with 5th in LT, but I will be very happy with 5th in WF.

Please be safe out there this New Years Eve. You know what they say, this is a holiday for the novice drinkers. I am a professional and plan to stay off the roads.

See ya next year,

Monday, December 22, 2014

Two Men And A Baby

Okay, two old men and a young lady to be correct.
And we got it done.
 All weekend it was misting rain, cold and windy. Candy was using the wood scraps to keep the fire going so we could warm our hands and get feeling back in our feet. Jessie grabbed the nail gun, dad was the board man and I was ground support.  
 A steady supply of Coffee and Hot Chocolate for the women folk.

I would rather have one Jessie helping me then five men. This girl is a beast. I just wish she would get off the phone and come over here to hold this board. I think my look says it all in this picture.

Mud was everywhere. Each time we walked we got taller. Before long we had six inches added to our height and our feet weighed forty pounds. Any normal time I would have just said to heck with it be done for the day but I needed to get this done.

 The stairs are all boxed in now. I still need to put up a support to stabilize them. They are a little too bouncy for me.  And I also still need to put up the railing around the top and down the stairs, but that is at a later time.
This week I will trim out and seal everything on the front and this weekend I plan to start on the Electric. Fun, Fun  

I am very proud of the small work force I had this weekend and amount of work we got accomplished. With extending the bottom porch out another 6 feet, building the whole top deck, the small landing for the stairs and the stairs themselves, I guess in all it took the three of us 11 hours to complete. Not bad for two old men and a young lady.

If I don't see ya again, have a marry Christmas


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In The Dry

For the last two weeks we have been doing what we could on the house. The one problem is, the little house just keeps growing.

 In the beginning it was going to be a simple 500 square foot little, tiny house. Now we are up to about 896 if you include the lofts and the second story.
Two weekends ago me and my dad climbed up on a chilly, windy Saturday morning and shingled the roof. It didn't take us near as long as I thought and I had to call off the help that was coming over later in the day. Pretty impressive for a couple of old men.
Last weekend I was under some pressure. I had to get it in the dry due to the storms coming in on Sunday. High winds would have ripped the roof right off if I could not get the siding up. As you can see, there is nothing out here to stop the wind and a storm with sixty mph winds would have done major damage. So during the week we installed the windows in the front and back, trimmed the shingles and prepped everything for the siding on Saturday. In the end we got it done.
Sunday the rains didn't come in till later so in the morning I started on the second floor porch. This has also grown bigger than planned. Now it will run the full length of the building and overhang to the right three feet. You can see the beginning of it in the picture. A staircase will be down the side of the building and wrap back around to the front.  Go big or go home right? Excessive, maybe but in the end I want to be in a place I can enjoy.

That's all I got for now.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Building Party

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

The weather was great, a little windy but other than that the temps were right on. Thursday was the traditional Thanksgiving we always have. I am not selling it short by no means, it was just the norm.
Friday was spent prepping for the building party Saturday.

About ten family members showed up to help with the build. A few more had to work but got there as soon as they could.
 Kylee (the youngest) took off work to be our "Runner" to run into town as needed. Jessie (the oldest pictured here) drove up from College Station to lend a hand. This was not her first rodeo and she jumped right up there and took charge with the framing crew while me and my dad stayed on the ground being the cut men.
 The nephews showed up after noon and did the decking, the wife was the our "refreshment" and food girl while mom sat on the porch and supervised.
 We ended up with about twenty folks stopping by throughout the day to lend a hand.
Some stayed late and we brought out the music and fire pit to finish the day off.
I can't thank everyone enough who came out and helped or stopped by for moral support. We got a lot of work done in one day.

Sunday was spent cleaning up and securing everything for the storms this week and relaxing a little.

Next weekend I will be putting shingles on the roof and putting in some windows.

 Other than that, not much happening here,

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Little More

We have been working on the Tiny house off and on as the weather cooperates. It has been cold or rainy this past week so work on the house was slow.

The center section is almost done. The bottom floor is all framed up and ready for the siding.
This weekend we are having a building party and should have the rafters and walls up on the second floor. Then the next weekend we should have it in the dry, I hope.

The second floor was an afterthought. I decided to build it for more room. 
Let me try and explain the picture. The part I am standing on is over the bathroom and will be Candy's sewing room. The other smaller part is over the closet and will be her sitting/reading room where she will be able to walk out on the widow's walk and watch the sun come up. The small walkway in the middle connects the two. The hole on the right will have stares/ladder so she can get up there from the hallway. The hole on the left is just that, a hole. When you walk down the hall into the bedroom, these two holes will be open all the way to the roof to give it a bigger look. I will add hand made metal railing just to be safe.   

I still have a long way to go on the house and it doesn't help I do something like this and get the wife her Christmas Ranger a little early. We spent most of Sunday out riding the trails around the lake. It will come in handy, I am sure. 

Have a great Thanksgiving,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Low Budget Operation

Even though we are making progress on the tiny house, this low budget operation is taking too long. For every board we nail up I can see two more needed which means more time and more money.
The floor is done and the walls are going up. After I get all the studs in, then it's time for the ceiling joists, then the top floor decking and then the roof rafters.
I normally have everything drawn out and designed but this is a design build, one board at a time kinda thing.

Just as I feared, the weather has turned and I really need to get this in the dry before winter. I can't let all this raw wood sit through too many rain and snow storms or it will ruin. But with just me and my dad doing the work, the wife as the gopher, and the occasional family hand here and there, plus add in the limited funds, the short days and cooking chili, it's going to be tough.
I can't work on it tonight due to a freeze coming. I need to spend the evening making sure the trailer can get through it okay, but for the rest of the week I plan to do a little every night.

Speaking of cooking chili, last weekend we cooked in Irving TX and being ranked 11th in the world I guess I grew a chip on my shoulder. I went in there thinking I was something and I had this one in the bank. There was no way I could not win this cook off. Ha, I got close to last place, didn't even make it off the first round. Talk about knocking me down a rung or two.
 But look who came all the way up from Texas A&M to cook with mom and dad. Jessie surprised us Friday night and decided to make the four hour drive for us to see her pretty face and to spend the day cooking with us.
So in the end it did not matter to much that my chili sucked last weekend, I had Jessie there.
This Saturday we will be in Denton. Maybe this time I will go in there with a different attitude.

I will let you know what happens,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We Made It Back

I would not call sleeping in a tent for five days in the middle of the South Texas desert a vacation, but it was close enough.

Candy and I traveled the eleven hours to the World Championship CASI Chili Cook Off in Terlingua Texas. It is one of the most hostile places on earth, but is has it's own kind of beautiful as well.
It was an honor to be there. We struggled for the past two years to get good enough to have the privilege to enter through these gates.
 I know of some really great chili cooks that have been cooking for over thirty years that would love to walk across that stage. From what they say, only the worlds best elite chili cooks ever get called up there. I have not paid my dues long enough to earn it and I knew that.

We left on Tuesday and arrived at the ranch noon on Wednesday. Thursday we drove around Big Bend National Park and saw some really great sights. On Friday we cooked Wings, Beans and Salsa and did not place in any one.
Saturday was the big day for chili. This is what we all came here to do. I knew being first time cooks Candy and I did not have a chance. Fifteen ex world champs were here and many, many cooks I have never been able to beat over the past years. They only call the first twenty spots.
 Well how about that, I placed 11th and Candy won 10th in the world championship. I never would have ever imagined we would have walked across that stage.
They say we were tied for 10th and they had to do a taste off. They also said we were the first husband and wife team to ever do this. We won so many things and with her being in the top ten, she gets extra perks for the year.
One of them is, Candy is automatically qualified to cook there again next year. Me, I still have to chase points to be invited back.  

I really didn't plan to return next year being my only goal was to be invited and to cook with such great folks, but now I have to.  The shock of it all did not wear off for several hours. Neither Candy nor I can remember walking across the stage, everything was a blur.

Do you know how long we have wanted chairs, real chili chairs? Now we both have the chairs everyone wants and cooks for all year long.

This weekend we will be cooking in Irving then next weekend we will be in Denton.

Thanks to everyone for sticking with us and supporting Candy and I through the chili year. We raised a lot of money for charity, had a great time and met a lot of great people. If you are wanting to get involved either by cooking or sponsoring our team just let me know.
Thanks again,

I got a lot more to tell, Later

Monday, October 20, 2014

Phase 1, Part 1 - It's A Start

We decided not to cook this weekend and work on the house. I am glad I did because next weekend we will be spending it getting ready to travel to the World Championship Chili Cookoff for a week.

We got the floor between the buildings framed in and along with that I decided to frame in the front porch, that way it's all tied together. At $5.00 a piece, I only had enough in the budget for 1/2 of the deck boards for the porch.
The next part is three weekends away. Then I will put the plywood down for the floor and finish the front porch and maybe start on the walls.  

Like I said, it's a start.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Time To Get Busy

We finally got our buildings moved in and set in place.
 The one on the left (12X24)was my wood shop and the other one (10X16) was my garden shed. Now the one on the left will be my kitchen and living room and the one on the right will be my bedroom. The space in between (10X16) will be the bathroom, pantry and will have a loft for the craft/sewing room.

The first step is to build the middle section. It's hard to do with all the chili cooking but I think this is a little more important at the moment. After I get back for the World Championship at the end of the month I intend to get this done quickly.

This weekend the Chili Trail was up and down. Saturday I got 6th place and Candy got 13th. Sunday Candy got 7th place and I got 11th. I do not like two day cookoffs and will probably wont do them again. It's just to exhausting and it takes up your whole weekend. Other than that the weather was perfect and I could not ask for a better cooking partner.

Today marks another milestone. My oldest daughter Jessie turned 22 years old. She called me this
morning talking about how old she feels and believe me I understand. I think she is taking not being 21 anymore a little hard, for me it 30. I tried hanging on to my twenties as long as I could, but in the end no matter how hard I tried, time marched on.
So here's to you old maid, Happy birthday, we love you and keep living the dream.
Here is some old man advise from me just for you on your birthday Jessie, "You will never achieve greatness if you ask for permission first"
Go get'em sweetheart.Whoop!

 It's been a while since I posted a picture of my little Grand baby. She is four months old now and just as happy and loving as a baby can be.
You know it's funny, how it does not matter how big, bad and mean you think you are, when your granddaughter smiles and laughs at you, you turn into a big ol' softy.

That's it for now,

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's A Chili Thing, You Wouldn't Understand

The weather could not have been any better.
Saturday morning it was 43 degrees, the windows of the camper were open, the fan on high. She was cold, I was in heaven.

This is chili weather, nobody argued that. The first weekend of the new chili year and it was our
cookoff. Candy and I have been preparing, promoting and working this cookoff for a year now. I have traveled to many cookoffs talking this one up in hopes of a huge blowout.
At one point I had commitments from about forty cooks. I would travel out of my way to their cookoffs with the agreement they come cook at mine. As the week progressed the cooks started dropping off. One excuse after another was told to me. After a while they started repeating themselves.
We had just enough cooks to make it official, fifteen. We only raised $240.00 for the charity. To say I am a little bitter and disappointed is an understatement. It would have cost me way less money and time if I would have just handed the charity the money out of my pocket and went on with my business.
The major problem was, there were twenty two cookoffs within a four hour area and from what I read they all just had fifteen or so cooks. At least all the charities got funded a little.
Candy ended up with 2nd place, Jessie came all the way up from college station to take 4th and I came in at 5th. Not a bad way to start off the chili year.

So here is the question?
Why is it that nobody wants to do this? I mean it's hard to find new chili cooks. I have not found any hobby as enjoyable as doing this. Is it just that easy to dump a bucket of ice water on your head and write out a twenty dollar check?  Send it, forget it, look what I did on Face Book everybody kind of thing?
Is it a time thing because if I can find the time I know anyone can. Is it the fear of failure and you don't want to know how your chili really measures up? Or is it a simple money issue where twenty bucks to enter a cookoff is too much to give to charity?
These are the questions I will never get an answer to. I invite all my friends on Face Book to come out and cook with me almost every time. I seldom get a response and very few likes, but I will post a movie about a guy falling down and get 300 likes, several reposts and several comments. It's really funny when the folks that tell me they don't have the money will post later that night how much they spent at the bar.

Maybe it's just a small select group of people trying to do good by cooking chili and it's not anybody else's thing. All because I enjoy the crap out of it doesn't mean anyone else has to right? But then, does anyone even have a "thing" anymore or are we so wrapped up in our own little worlds and our small circle of friends that we really don't care what's outside of the box?  

I got more to tell, Later

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Quick Two Weeks

Wow! It has been two weeks and I haven't posted one thing. It sure went by quick.

Here is a quick recap of what we have been up to.

We made the trip to College Station for my oldest daughter Jessie's Ring Ceremony.
She got the Gold!!!!
When the girls were Senors in High School they all wanted a big High School Ring. We all know the High School Class ring is just for High School so I bought all them a cheap Walmart Class Ring. You really couldn't tell the difference between it and one of those high dollar rings everyone else was wearing. I told each of them when they graduate from college I will buy the real deal because it will stay with them for the rest of their lives. So Jessie was the first to call my bluff on it and I had to dig deep, but she has got the gold now, it's the real deal. I am so happy I was able to do it and I was even more proud when I slid it on her hand. I was going to write a long sappy post about her and that ring, but it would not do justice to the way I feel. My girls are the best thing my wife and I have and will ever do. Graduation is set for August.

It was my honor to perform the wedding ceremony for my Nephew and his now wife last weekend. After three attempts, with the wedding being pushed back for one reason or another, they finally tied the knot.
I think I was more nervous than they were because I did not have the time to prepare. I wrote the ceremony on Monday and did not have the time to go over it until the day of.
Just so happens I had my Chili Hat in the truck and my Nephew said he wanted me to wear it, so I did.
Everything went off without a hitch. I am happy for them and wish them the best of luck. 

Other than that, last week we made several hand crafted decorations for a friend of mines soon to be grand son's baby shower. We made cup cake holders out of real trees and some other little wood crafts. We also made some trophies for an upcoming chili cook off in two weeks out of horse shoes. I don't know why I don't have pictures of any of it.

And this week we are getting ready for the new chili year by holding our own Chili Cook Off this weekend so preparations for that are underway as we speak.
I need all the support I can get on this so if anyone is around Gainesville TX and would like to cook, we would like for you and need for you to be there. Come on, you know you want to.

Really, other than that it's just the same old boring routine looking for something else to do.

See ya at the cook off,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Going Out In Style

Last weekend we did a two day cook off in the little town of St. Jo
This was our last cook off of the Chili year and what a way to finish.

Our year runs from October 1st to September 30th. In that year you can cook at as many cook offs as you want, its all for charity and points. The only way to get invited to the World Championship is to get the points of your required state within that year. In my case Texas is 12 points. You get these points by placing. 1st place is 4 points, 2nd place is 3 points and 3rd place is 2 points. 4th through 10th gets 1 point. Some folks get their points right off the bat and not cook again all year. Me and Candy got ours a few months back but continued to cook because after all, it is for charity. I ended up with 24 points and Candy had 20.

Saturday I thought I had the winning Chili but I didn't even walk, I just made final table. Candy on the other hand walked up and received her 5th place trophy. I actually got a little frustrated for some reason.
Sunday, our last cook off of the year, me and Candy took it home. I won 1st place and she won 2nd.
We also won 2nd in show. Now that's how you finish a chili year right there.

Three weekends from now we start all over again. This time we only have about 18 cook offs scheduled and not the 30 we did this year.

While in St. Jo a fellow Modern Day Redneck reader came by and talked. We shared some good information and made plans to follow up with one another.
It is always good to meet fellow bloggers and people who have the same mentality as you do. You can learn from one another. In this case he is a lot more advanced in the solar configurations than I am so I am looking forward in getting some ideas on how he is did his house. 
To you my new friend, thanks for coming out and it was a pleasure to meet you.

This weekend I will be in College Station for my daughter's ring ceremony. She said it is almost as big as graduating. I can't wait.

Talk to ya later,

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's About Time

Finally, I think summer is over.
Three days ago it was 101 degrees and today it's only going to be a high of 73. Also a little rain came in with the cold front so it's twice as good.

Tonight we are loading up for a weekend of Chili cooking in St Jo Texas. This will be our third year to go and the first time for a two day. We will be staying in the truck tent because it's too much trouble to break down the camper. If we were not living it, then we would take it.
I have never had any luck at this cook off. The wife has made top 10 two times but not me, not even in beans. Then again, this will be the first time I have cooked this recipe up there so we will see.
A big group of folks will be staying for day two and I know this will be too much fun.

Tiny House update.
After much deliberation and redesign, we decided to make it a little bigger, two feet wider to be exact. By doing this it will cut down on the crap pieces of lumber by utilizing the complete board and give us 32 more square feet. I think this will put us out of the "Tiny House" category and into the "Small House" one.
They say (and I don't know who they are) a tiny house is anything under 500 square feet.  We are now up to 560 square feet.
We also had to make our house pad a little bigger for it to set on. That meant bringing in more dirt and building the pad up. We will still need more dirt hauled in later to even out the edges and make it where it's a gentle slop up to the house and not a step up.
There has even been talk about adding a widow's walk to the middle section, but I don't know about that yet.
The buildings should be moved in next week so we can get them in place and get started. I can't wait to get out of the camper.

See ya next week with a picture of my first place trophy,

Monday, September 8, 2014

Chugging Along

Even though things are quiet in my neck of the woods we are still chugging along.

It's been hot, too hot to really get excited about much. I have seen hotter Texas summers, but when it's hovering right at the century mark every day it's still too hot for me.

A couple weekends ago we moved the camper up to the land and are back living in it. It is a lot better than the RV Park by far. Out here it's quiet, away from town and most importantly away from people. Call me a hermit all you want but I sleep better now than I have in years. The Grand Baby is only three miles away now so we get to see her more along with my other two girls.
I guess I can sum it up by  saying "so far so good."
In two weeks we will be moving our buildings over and getting started on the tiny house. I will be using my shop (12 X 24) and my garden shed (10 x 16) to make it. The bathroom and laundry room will go go between the buildings. I think it will work out, it looks good on paper so to speak.

Last weekend was the Oklahoma State Chili Championship up in Durant. We did not take the camper
but still had a great time cooking with our chili family. Out of 93 cooks I took 9th and Candy took 5th. Both of us being in the top 10 in Oklahoma is saying something right there.
We had no intention on cooking chili Sunday. We were just going to hang around and have fun but we were talked into it. Sunday had 46 cooks and we did not even make final table. My excuse is that we had to borrow from other cooks, different spices and different recipes because we did not bring our own award winning supply. It was for a good cause so it really does not matter. We have our points so were are good.

What else........tap.......tap.......tap....., Hmmmmmmmmmm

Oh, last weekend was mine and Candy's 24th anniversary. Yup, 24 years. She wanted to go somewhere so I took her to a chili cook off. I'm such a romantic hu.  

Well I guess that's is for now,
See ya down the road.

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,

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,

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.

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,

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?


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.


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.



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,