Wednesday, December 28, 2016

End of the year...

This year really has flown by. We moved TWICE... not a lot of fun, I can tell you. I got to have quite a few of the grandkids visit over the summer. That WAS fun! We have been getting settled into our OWN home, for the first time in more than a decade. We got a new grand daughter- Katie Sterling Jones was born to Becky and Stephen on Dec. 17th. Our son Stephen (TOMMY!) graduated from Christ for the Nations with a certificate in World Missions. Daughter-in-law Paula is graduating any day now, as a Master Herbologist. Sam is midway through his second year as an apprentice electrician.
There is ALWAYS something to do here on the homestead. We have been planning a nice sized garden, and are currently in the "but first" stage. The stage where you want or need to get something accomplished, but first you have to do something else that is time consuming and/or expensive. This home sits in a heavily wooded area. There is little sunlight available for a garden. While we really want to get the garden areas tilled up, we first need to clear out some trees. Clearing out trees will also mean removing some stumps. And in other areas, we will need to build some raised beds, as the main soil here is more stone than soil!
This past weekend, Tom and Sam and I were busy tearing out some eyesore dog runs. These were chain link enclosures with corrugated metal roofs. (Rooves?) One came away intact. Another came to pieces. The third is still standing, as we ran out of daylight and gitty-up. We MAY be able to re-purpose the frames as greenhouses. Some of the metal can go to the recycler, and we may be able to re-purpose part of it. (I am hoping to use a portion to make a compost "bin"... BUT FIRST we have to decide where we want the compost bin!)
Maybe I can use part of the corrugated metal to construct a poultry house. There are so many predators, I doubt we can manage totally free range poultry. I need guineas to reduce our tick population, and I want some chickens for eggs and possibly dinner. But First, we have to make a place for them.
The boys want to build an outdoor, wood fired pizza oven. I envision it also having a grill side- as the current grill is one of the little city park style, maybe 12"x15" . NOT big enough for company!
We (mostly the Individuals and I) have been discussing the merits of a farm stand garden. The nearest "bigger" town to us, Siloam Springs, has a lovely Farmer's Market downtown two or three times a week. I can grow a few items that not only will WE enjoy, but which could also make profit enough to BE my job.
Sam plans to have his honey bees started this spring, so by fall, we would be able to offer local honey. If we can get the chickens going soon, we could offer organic, cage free eggs. I can put out a selection of Paula's PBJ Herbal products. Perhaps offer aprons. I can do jellies, and my mom suggested some baked goods. I am hoping to have a large variety of peppers in the garden, and create my own chile powder and spice blends. I am also hoping that our woods does produce a good crop of morel mushrooms!
This summer, Camp CowGranny just might have to be a concentrated week or so of as many of the grands as we can get, at a time when Becky may be able to come and assist me, if I DO have a regular job by then.
That's what's up with us! We are supposed to have internet (reliable internet!) before summer. I will be so grateful! This "hotspot" is temperamental, unreliable, slow, ... and EXPENSIVE.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I AM "McGyver"!!!

Today was QUITE the day. I got up and got my regular Tuesday routine ordered. I set out bacon and sausage from the freezer, planning to make the guys some breakfasts. I made several phone calls, getting information as far flung as cat spaying, homestead tax exemptions, and Texas prison commissary regulations. I wrote letters, hung curtains, decided supper, and had laundry going. I did debate myself on whether or not I was actually going to go to the library or not- our home internet really stinks. I was going to get a few gifts ordered, and check on some job web sites, plus grab a few new books to read. I had my second load of clothes in the washing machine when I decided yes, I WOULD go to the Post office and library.
I gathered my books. I put my package and letters to be mailed into my book bag.  I made sure all the windows were locked, the sliding patio door secured. Made sure my keys were on purse; and set out the door, locking it carefully behind me. I got into the car and reached for my keys, attached to my purse.
No purse? Only my book bag?
This cannot be right. A second and third look confirm: I do NOT have my purse. My purse has ALL my keys- both car and house. Tom carries our shared cell phone on a regular basis, unless I am traveling. No cell phone.
I am locked out of the house. My car keys are inside the house. It is 39*- the high for the day already passed.
Assess the situation.  The well house is not locked, and has a heater inside. I walked to the well house and turned the heat up a bit. Then, back out to check all the windows and doors. Sure enough... all are securely locked. I carried the ladder around the house, checking every window. No one has left one unlatched. I tried the doors... All are locked. I tried the "credit card"  latch release. Doesn't work here. After much searching, I found some wire... I discovered I cannot "pick" a lock, as some of my children are adept at.
Back to the warmth of the well house. There is a small bench in there... not comfortable, but a seat at least. And in the fridge in the well house- a bottled margarita! (So the day isn't a total loss!)
I have more than six hours before I can count on anyone being home. What do I do? Fend off neighborhood dogs and walk a couple of miles to see if anyone is home? Stay near the house where I know there is heat and water? (And, as I discovered, paper towels in the unlocked car, so "necessities" could be taken care of... and HAND SANITIZER!)
I stayed home. Do I sit in the well house for the six plus hour wait?
 I decide that this is as good a time as I can be forced into accepting to transplant the rose bushes that are in the way of the carport. The tool shed is not locked. I retrieve the shovel and post hole digger, and set to work. Just over an hour later, I have three adequate holes excised into the rocky soil near the fence line. The rosebushes are moved. I return to the well house and warm up again. I decide to carry the letter to the street mailbox- not a long task, but chilled in the cool air.
The sky remains heavily overcast. I trudged back to the house, and warmed again in the well house. There is no comfortable place to sit. I have nothing to read. Perhaps I can nap? I settle into the back seat of the Lincoln. I have small travel pillows I keep in it, and Tom had left a jacket inside. Whoo hoo! WARMTH! I laid down in the back seat and TRIED to nap. Giving up at about a half an hour, I made use again of the roll of paper towels, and hand sanitizer. Cold weather really makes ones bladder active! I returned to the car, hoping to try again for a nap. Only three and a half hours until someone gets home!
I had a sudden thought... if only the brown shed were not locked... there is a corded phone in it. I might be able to plug the corded phone into the phone jack outside the house, and call for help! But, Tom never leaves the sheds unlocked. It was a miracle that the well house was not locked! I looked... and it appeared the brown shed was NOT padlocked. Could this BE? I hied myself to the shed.
Indeed, it was open. There was the corded phone, right where I had thought it to be! AND... a most necessary item- a telephone line cable. I took the phone and cable up to the house.
*Sigh*... the most hoped for plans of cold persons can be soon thwarted. The outside telephone connection port was screwed closed. I had already searched for tools. No screwdrivers.
 But, it occurred to me- a dime can sometimes work as a screwdriver. I searched the cars, and found a lone dime amidst the toll road quarters stash. At first, the dime refused to turn the screw- but at last it broke free. With arthritis and COLD fingers, maybe it took longer for me... but the phone box was at last opened. Only to discover there was no phone jack. I sighed my disappointment. I followed every wire in the box. Then I saw a small panel that flipped open- with a phone jack behind it! I plugged in the telephone, and was relieved and gratified to get a dial tone! I called the cell phone- and when Tom answered, i told him, "I am FREAKING McGyver!"
He called Sam and Dan to see if anyone could come to my rescue. They were farther away than he was. So Tom headed to the house to let me in. I was locked out a little more than four and a half hours. We decided that instead of just thinking about, and discussing a set of extra keys, it is time we put one out in the woods.
In my "distress", I was never in danger. Despite the cold, I had a warm place to go to. I had water, juice, even beer if I wanted. (YUCK!) I had just eaten, but there was food to be had- as well as a means to cook it if I had really been hungry. I learned that to get into this house, one would have to BREAK something. I was reminded that winter is upon us, and I NEED to keep an extra jacket and a blanket in every vehicle. I had many internal debates with myself: What is a real crisis? I had everything I actually NEEDED. Do I waste the afternoon waiting to be "rescued"? Or do I accomplish things that need done?
I am so grateful that God reminded me of the things I could use in my time of need.