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Monday, January 31, 2011

Mud on the tires........

POST # 6

After the excitement at Gracie's table a couple days ago, it's been rather dull and uneventful on the hill. I spent most of the day yesterday and this afternoon preparing for the "BIG STORM" that is approaching.
That included getting water for  ourselves and our  neighbor, Miss Charlotte ( she's a whole BLOG in herself with the  stories she tells), as well as gathering wood for the fires, cleaning the "buckets" and getting the car gassed up.
 Our other neighbors, who we refer to as  "The Steve's" , have been a great help to us this first year. We help each other out getting water, running to town to do shopping and  cutting wood. The chores go quicker when we all pitch in!
So, we were in the truck at "The Steve's", to get water for us and Charlotte. Of course the ground had thawed since the last freeze and had become acres of fine, red Missouri mud.
 Don't you know the truck got stuck in the muck!
It's been a while since I'd been muddin' in the Bootheel, so my driving was a bit on the cautious side. I wasn't wanting to tear up the yard and leave tracks all over the place. After a few times backwards then forwards then back and forth again, we were stuck even worse! Big Steve is a calm man, but I think his patience was running a bit thin with my driving ability. "Ya mind if I give it a try, grandma?" 
I sure don't, that way you can mess up your yard as much as you want too!
Less than five minutes later, we were trucking down the road!
Hillbillies  and their trucks!
Keep your fingers crossed that the forecast is wrong and that we aren't going to have blizzard conditions, because that would really suck!
I'll let you know how it all turns out.....

Friday, January 28, 2011

You sure have purdy ankles..... another horse tail

POST  # 5

I've seen a lot in my day.  SERIOUSLY !
 Today , however, takes the cake. I was cleaning the counter at work today and turned to the drive-up window to see 3 big horse  staring in at me!
I cracked up laughing, and then wondered if I were really cracking up!
OK, I see the riders. WHEW!
   On any warm, sunny day at GRACIE'S MARKET, you never know what or who you will find outside by the picnic table. Today it was the 3 horses, 2 Harley's, and 2 seriously hairy biker dudes!
Who could pass that up, right?????
Rebel,  ( my talking Boston Terrier) and I, headed out the door and over to the table.  Nothing like a few minutes with strangers in the woods  is what I always say........
Rebel however, because of his strange noises, answers to the name "Pig".  He was making those noises today  around the horses because he was so darned excited.
One horse in particular really caught his eye. I think it may have been puppy love, within 5 minutes of meeting this poor innocent horse, Rebel was DRY HUMPING the animal's ankle and not stopping when told to!
After his cigarette and nap, I finally managed to get him into the car.
Usually he considers himself a big dog, like the others on the hill. I've never told him the truth because it would obviously break his heart. Today he must have felt as big as a horse
I suppose if you are going to dream, dream REALLY big!

TO BEEF OR NOT TO BEEF?

POST # 4

It would appear that Beef is for dinner........ for a few days.
After a quick trip in to Lebanon last night my neighbor, Mr. Kelly, asked if I knew how to cut and clean beef. I have cleaned sever HUNDRED pounds of tenderloin before while catering.
"Would you mind helping me clean some cow when we get back to the house?", he asked as innocently as possible.  
Yes, beef and cow are the same thing. This I understand.
He meant cow!
It so happens that a mother cow died while giving birth.
Mr. Kelly had over a quarter of a cow that he needed cleaned, ground, and frozen.
Oh, Lord!
I was quite happy to see that he had removed the hide, and most of the meat from  the bone.  Unfortunately he wasn't sure of meat cuts and basically sliced away the meat in large chunks. Most of the prime was still intact, so he did better than he thought.
Once I showed him the parts I knew to be the best cuts, we went to slicing.  After two hours of work we had two fantastic tenderloins, several steaks, roasts, stew chunks and over fifteen pounds of fresh ground beef.
We decided to call it a night and pick up where we left off this afternoon. 
Mr. Kelly was surprised to see how well I could work my knife, and by how much beef was actually useable in the pile he thought was scrap.
The poor calf will never know it's mother ( tear) , but we are all thankfull for a free freezer full of beef!
Mark was impressed with the cuts and asked if they had the cow's heart.  Sorry, but I will be good and damned before I go there!!
Moo-ving on............

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Woodpeckers and peckerwoods

POST  # 3

One thing is for certain here in Origanna Woods. We do have an abundance of nature, and nuts.
  I love to start my day with a good cup of coffee in the kitchen while watching my bird feeders.
I am amazed by the numbers of birds, and by the different species of birds that flock to my bird buffet.
No, I don't mean the chicken buffet that I had so sweetly set up for the hawks either.

To see the cardinals against the  snow covered ground ,or the dark eyed junco's  scratching  around to beat the band. Look up and see three species of woodpecker chipping away at the trees. It really is worth the few dollars spent on feeding them.

We've had a few snakes in the yard, as well.  Not my favorite by any means but still nature! I was sitting on the front porch this fall and out of the corner of my eye I noticed a small frog hopping faster than I've EVER seen a frog move. I think I heard him let out a little frog yell!
 Seconds later I see what it is that's making this little fellow  boogie, he is being pursued by a rather determined snake. When the snake realized I was there he froze , curled up and lowered his head. I may have screamed like a girl at this point, I'm not sure! I prefer to let any snake I see have the right of way, by about 50 yards. I think I was what allowed the frog to make his great escape.

As I was heading up to our neighbors house one afternoon after a strong rain, I saw a Blue Heron in the middle of the road. I know, what the hell?  I was quiet and able to watch it for a while. It turned out the this enormous bird was feasting on dozens of small frogs that had gathered in the flooded potholes of the road. Poor frogs didn't stand a chance in hell.  It was a beautiful thing to see it take flight. Our road is wooded on both sides so the bird had to fly forward for a while before he could head up and away. I would say that his wing span was at least 6 feet. Again, beautiful!

Now, the best things to see are the deer that cut across our backyard, or the wild turkeys that cross our road down behind GRACIE'S MARKET. One Thanksgiving  Day when Mark and I had come from Illinois, we had  turned onto our street and  quickly stopped the car to watch 5 turkeys cross in front of us and take cover in the woods. We had hoped they were heading to our place to hop in the oven. No luck.
I've seen on several occasions 3-7 deer out our kitchen window while I'm doing the dishes. Not a bad view at all. May have to put out a salt block this spring and get them a bit closer!

Pecker woods indeed! 

Several people have come through and offered services.
 We've offered a fellow who needed money for his kids to come and cut wood.
Feel free to come and cut some wood and sell it. We made the deal that for every three loads taken and sold one load would be left for us. Good idea right? Less work for me and everybody gets something out of it. Now mind you, we had the loggers there, so what they were cutting was the leftover tops of the trees that were already on the ground. Hard part done, right?
Needless to say I am back to chopping wood. After only getting one load of wood I guess he didn't need anymore money for his kids!
 I don't mind cutting, hauling and splitting wood. It's a great work-out and a wonderful way to relieve stress. But damn, again.

One gentleman was to pick up the lumber scraps and waste from the yard. It was piled and ready to be loaded. He never showed.
One fellow was paid to hang drywall upstairs. He needed money to get on his feet. Or so the story went. He worked well for a few days. Then one afternoon  I'd not heard the saw or drill or any hammering sounds in a couple hours, so I  went upstairs to make sure he was alright. If you call smoking meth alright, then he was great. I didn't help get him on his feet, but showed his ass to  the door! I can't believe someone would think that is OK.
Seriously?????!!!??   SIGH..........

It is what it is. That's what my father always said. True story there Dad!
This is a  process. Of building a house for over a decade. Losing friends along the way, but finding yourself.
 Of learning to earn what you spend, and when to spend what you earn. Of owning who we are.
 Of owning up to who we were.
It is what it is.................. thanks for the words Dad.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Running water, HUMANURE and other fun topics.....

Post  #2

Now we get to talk about the business of business.............

One of the pitfalls of  the last year has been the lack of running water in the house. We had timber cut in hopes of securing the 6 grand needed to cover digging a well ( this includes another lesson learned).  We fell about 4 grand short of the goal and used the money earned to instead get the platform for the last part of the house built.
This section of the house includes the bathroom, utility room and the back porch.
I suppose that having this done means no more post holes to be dug!  Imagine a post hole digger and the rocks I spoke of previously.

Let me back up a few years............. Mark, Roger and I started our adventure by purchasing some acreage    ( site unseen) from our friend Neil at      
http://www.ozarkland.com/  .
After making our initial trip to see what we had bought we got busy.  After clearing and cleaning an area near a power pole ( to save on having to have one put in elsewhere on the property) we had a storage shed delivered to store our tools when we came to work. Inside the shed we built a platform to lay a bed, just in case the weather wasn't cooperating when we were here.
From the shed we set poles and built a kitchen/dining room. We kept building as money allowed. Several years later and many trips from Champaign we now have 4 bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen and a library (still under some construction).
 The last rooms we built this summer, being the rooms I spoke of earlier.
Just two years ago we paid off the land. It's ours outright now!!!
Besides some wiring, drywall and general finishing touches we are  basically finished.   DREAM ON!

It's not as bad as one may think, not having running water. It is a bit of a pain but it really makes you appreciate what you do have.  For dishes I've set up a 35 gallon drum with a fountain pump and a faucet. The pump is plugged into a power strip and when you want water you just flip the switch! Pretty clever if I do say so myself! We do have to go to the neighbors with our 5 gallon jugs,  purchased at the local Wal-Mart. I use  these jugs to fill the 35 gallon jug and it lasts about 10 days.  How much water do you use to do the dishes??? Bet I got ya beat!
I heat the water on the stove for  doing the dishes and for general cleaning. It could be worse I'm sure.

As far as showers go, that's a bit different. During the winter I head to the neighbors, during the summer months I use a solar shower and consume less than 5 gallons of water per shower. And you?

I'm know by now that you are dying to know how we go about the business of doing our business. Who wouldn't want to know?
 I knew I didn't want to be unsanitary about this as it isn't the most pleasant part of our daily lives. Thanks to  www.youtube.com , I found a way to tackle this problem too. It's called humanure. It involves a 5 gallon bucket and sawdust ( either purchased at the feed store or gathered while cutting wood). Our motto is........... If  you poop use the scoop!
 The container when full is not as unpleasant as it sounds. No odor. No mess.
What I've done is built a frame several yards from the house. Take the bucket and dump it. Add some compostable material  and let mother nature do her job.   It's important to add grasses, leaves and the such to make it break down better. It does help to take a pitchfork to the pile once every couple of months. Just to speed up the process. I really like this because again it conserves water. In great amounts. The only water I use is to clean and sanitize the container.
 Nobody said this was going to be easy. Good thing, otherwise they would have been kicked in the crotch!
 Has my move been worth it? Yes.
Would I change anything? No.
That is the lesson learned!

Welcome to the blog-o-sphere!

 Day 1

   Welcome to day one of my blogging experience. I've never been much of a writer, so bear with me!
I hope to share recipes, humor and life experiences on here. We shall see together how that turns out.

First, a bit of history....
 I moved to Missouri almost one year ago from Champaign, Illinois. I had decided that after working on a house for 14 years with Mark C., and Roger D., that it was time to give it a go. Knowing full well that there was much to be done before it was completed, I moved in.
The first thing I found upon arriving was that leaving the house empty for two years before coming was not a good idea. Someone had cut the wires ( for scrap I assume) so, hours were spent figuring out what and where the damage was. Then, how to fix it.
Our day to day duties included insulating walls, hanging drywall and cutting fire wood. ( Note to self.......... fireplaces suck ass!)
Once warmer weather arrived I was excited about getting flowers and veggies in the ground. Mind you this is the Ozarks, they grow a lot of rocks here!!!!   I was turning the ground at a snails pace when a friend brought over his big boy tiller and turned 5 times the ground I had in less than 20 minutes.
Finally, after fertilizing and de-rocking I was ready to go! 
I put in tomatoes, carrots, beans, corn and beets to name a few. I wound up only  getting  tomatoes and a few beans.  The other veggies just didn't have the strength to make it!

Raised beds with delivered dirt for this spring!  Lessons learned!
The flowers are another story............ we managed beautiful roses and Dahlias. I plant Dahlia's every year in honor of Roger Dodd. They were beautiful!
Jay did quite well on his flowers here, he had zinnias for days.
My next adventure was to get me some chickens, so ............ I DID!
I went with my friend Jay to CACKLE HATCHERY in Lebanon. I bought some cute little baby chicks which within a few months became hawk food!!!!!!!!   Damn lessons learned. This lesson was, hawks will fly into an uncovered coop!
Mark followed suit and moved here as well. It's been a difficult adjustment for him. He was spoiled by city buses and fast food in Champaign. The only delivery here is the mail!

We wish every day that our dear friend Roger Dodd was still with us, this was a dream the three of us had.
Roger was here several times before he passed away and I have fond memories of his  silly antics.
Ever seen anyone having a drag attack while raking 2 acres of ground?
We have!
He is here in spirit, and may have had something to do with the disappearing chickens now that I think about it!!
This I suppose is enough for one day................  see ya on the flip side!