Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bad, Bad Idea

More than a year ago, the fence repainting project began.  Now I know why the previous administration painted them once 20 years ago and hid the paint gun in the furthest recesses of the shop.

There are miles of fencing.  I mean, I knew that, but I didn't KNOW.

The paint gun is temperamental and vengeful.  

First degree burns from cleaning up with mineral spirits are a small price to pay for the ability to apply 40 gallons per day versus 8 by hand rolling.  

Dad helped out last year and this year I keep thinking I'm closer to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel-- or is that just the paint fumes talking?

I finally counted how many more fence sections to go after another day bonding with the paint gun.

350 sections remaining, or 175 rods, or 0.5 miles?!! It all sounds too far.  But, what else can you do when you've bitten off more than you can chew, but keep chewing. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Historic Uchee Alabama

I've heard the remarks over the past three years about the region surrounding this farm: desolate, bleak, isolated, godforsaken... Quite frankly, that's how I like it.  
But, 190 years ago, this area was a mini mecca of farming and religion.  White settlers in this part of Russell county, were sanctimoniously grabbing up lands from the indigenous Creeks, evicting the heathens to make room for God's people.

Call me a hypocrite, for as much as I loath religion, I am drawn to religious architecture.  Travelling with me across Europe is akin to a class trip with the annoying nerdy professor who wants to see every abbey ruin, church and cathedral... and won't shut up about the construction and history of it for hours.  

The complete history of the 1837 Uchee Baptist Church evaded me for years.  Why was it never finished?

Eureka!  I found a transcript from the 1850's that might explain why it never grew:

It tells of how two missed Sundays would get you ousted from the congregation.  

Explains why the remaining flock is a single lone bat.

My mother seemed too preoccupied with said bat and bird poop to listen to me gush about the construction or the prospects of someone living in this tiny church.

Terrible shame that a place built with such love be left to die alone.

I've already thought of how beautiful it would be to have a vegetable garden inside the foundation of the unfinished church.
To wax poetic: a window and door to the past.

Two miles away, the Methodists built their own church in 1859.

The hymnal books are recent enough to show the last sermons were in the 1980's.

Mom is still looking for bats.


In a day and age where so many people couldn't fight their way out of a wet cardboard box, it's my heathenish hope that these two places remain for years to come, as testaments to the fortitude of a handful of settlers on the frontier armed with only hand tools and hope.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Consummate Gardener

While my mother was here, she had the unenviable job of babysitting the Daxster. 

The safest place to let the tempest loose is in the fenced garden.

Initially, my mom marveled at her fellow gardener's zeal.

Later, she concluded he was the most destructive force any garden had ever witnessed.

Typhoon Dax.

So what if we won't have a Fall vegetable garden this year--- like I have time.

I'll not curb his excavating, hunting and pillaging until next Spring.  He's so passionate about his work, I can't take that from him. If you don't have passion in life, you have nothing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Howl'oween

TRICK....

OR TREAT?

If chocolate dirt pie doesn't look appealing enough, how about a pound of ground beef?

Let me start by telling you that working weekends is great because it allows you to take a day off during the week. And this, my friends, is when you can make discoveries. Such as two recently deceased Angus steers on the side of the road, not far from the farm. Yes, yes, I confirmed with the sheriff's department the time of the accident. Action plan hatched and accomplice grabbed:

Grand plan is to harvest as much as we can, but pesky highway department shows up to steal our groceries.

We work fast.

Just going for tenderloins and legs now.
Dax looks on in disbelief: "You've got to be sh#@*ing me!  This is where my food comes from?"

Flynn distracts the crane operator, winning me more butchering time.

Back home, the cuts are cleaned, membranes removed and iced before grinding and vacuum sealing.

Beef Wellington in the making.

I could tell from the fat that these steer hadn't been grain fed yet.  Grass fed, local beef... isn't this what foodies look for?

Road kill never tasted this good.

Playing the Game

My health insurance provider will soon rue the day I figured out how to play the game!  I've been a slow learner.
Now that I've paid my $8000 deductible for 2017, I'm ramming through every possible test and procedure before December 31.  A reevaluation with my cardiologist that I initially didn't think I could afford, BAM!
Ditto for the ultrasound mammogram, BOOM!
More cancer screening and blood work, why certainly... KABOOM!

The absolute cherry on the icing is the upcoming cataract surgery. Who knew direct trauma or even the concussion could cause cataracts!  Problem is I can't pinpoint the exact event that caused my cataract many years ago-- too numerous.
 But, just like a ripe peach prime for the picking, ye old cataract is now insurance worthy. BADABING BADABOOM!
Revenge is a dish best served with a tiny scalpel.
This is the toric lens that will replace my defunct carbon based one:

It's more expensive than regular replacement lenses, but with the insurance bearing the brunt of the cost, I'll smile when I fork over an extra $1300 for better vision.  And this procedure won't be of average cost either... did I ever luck out.
The vision in my right eye has been wildly fluctuating for a couple years.  I blamed it on fatigue or blood pressure.  Come to find out that I have a partially dislocated lens.  My zonular fibers, responsible for contracting the lens, on the bottom half have torn, leaving my lens to wobble. 

My new surgeon, originally from China, looked down at me in disgust and said he would try his best to work with my Fwankenstein eye.  After two RK surgeries and a corneal ablation, nothing about the shape of my eye is consistent.  So sue me.
The look on his face was priceless when he asked me to recount any head trauma for the past three years. 
Drum roll please.
Starting with the most recent:
1) Being head butted my a 3000 lb ox (purely an accident, don't be a hater).
2) Falling off horses (plural)
3) Falling off the barn roof (Super Grover maneuver)
4) Knocking myself out with a metal rod causing a fractured temporal bone (no better place to spend Christmas Eve than in the emergency room).
Pick one.
Another blow to the head, the lens would've floated back into the eye causing damage to the retina and everything else.  Providence looks out for the clumsy!  Major problem averted.  Plus, I researched this particular surgeon, he's highly qualified at hemming torn zonules (awesome Scrabble word).  
Somehow, my bad luck turns into good luck.
Life is the only game in town, play to win.



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Jack Frost

Our coldest night of the season is upon us.  Ahead of it, we had a brisk day.

My kind of weather.  Cold -- my favorite time of year.  By noon, it only felt 36'F.  Bliss.

I guess we're starting to feed hay almost a month earlier than last year, tonight's frost will kill back the warm season grasses.
This sudden cold snap had the three most senior horses asking for their blankies by 6 PM.  Axel and Chance are tied at 24, but Henry takes the prize at 30 years of age.

They don't make jackets big enough for Tommy.  I suppose I could piece together two King size comforters!

Doesn't he look fluffier?  They do enjoy their hot mash in the cold months.
Dax has inherited one of Cole's old puppy jackets.

He hasn't been out of it all day.
A Boonies run at dusk.

Lead on Kilroy!
Picking basil and flowers by head lantern.

And the Energizer Bunny calls it a day.
Small blessings.

Indentured Servitude

October 10, Private Smith reporting for duty.

Quickly asserting herself as head puppy babysitter.

Mom flew down from Canada to lend a hand two weeks after my surgery when two important catering gigs were scheduled back to back.

Bringing in the wedding groceries can be full workout with Dax's assistance.
Knowing me well, she even packed clothes for me to wear to the event.

How can a woman who lives and breathes fashion have a kid like me? I appease her, yet insist on wearing my running shoes.

I'm no show horse, I'm a bona fide work horse, with canine sidekicks...

And a tireless mom.  The wedding venue's kitchen isn't available to us, at the last minute, we relocate to two vacation rentals 15 minutes away.  Adapt and overcome, speed like a maniac and sweat a lot too.  We snatch victory from Murphy's jaws.  Sweet, sweet success.  Totally worth the 2 AM to 10 PM work day.
Doesn't Mother get one night off?  Hell no!  Our one night before prepping for the next event, we are stranded by the side of the road with the puppy, no less.  A neighbor comes to pick us up. Back at the farm, I throw her up on the tractor with me.  She's trying to communicate, but I'm focused on getting my F-350 off the road by dusk. 
No pictures, sorry.
I back up to chain my truck to the tractor when she points out that she's never "been towing" before.  Minor detail. Long story, my truck does NOT get vandalized on the side of the road because I never leave a man behind (or truck).  Might give mom a coronary in the process, but that's OK.
Welcome to farm life.

Whatever you need done, she's on it.

The list of recipes for the next multi-day catering gig.  Mom, don't faint, it'll be fun.  Only half the recipes are complicated, perhaps maybe three quarters. 

She knows she's in trouble when I pull out the duck fat to make pie crusts.

A simple homegrown blackberry pie--I can find ways to make it complicated!!!  

The Mexican taco night can be made more interesting if we go out to harvest cactus from the property to make a roasted cactus and corn salsa.

Fiesta!  Three types of homemade salsas, corn tortillas fresh from the taqueria, Mexican bean salad and pastel con tres leches (three milks cake, my absolute favorite dessert).

By the fourth day of frenzy in the kitchen, Mom espouses the belief that two chefs in the kitchen can ruin the roux.  Her initial relief that a simple cookie recipe was on the docket was quickly quashed when I explained two hours are needed for one batch.  "First you take the pecans locally harvested two weeks ago and roast them in the oven--  Mom, where you going???" 

They are very much worth the effort.  As are the bacon tassies made with cream cheese crusts.

Still she plugs on, not beating me with a rolling pin or frying pan.

That's a mother's love.  
On the last day, we power through the last mounds of dirty dishes and rest.  

No.  She is adamantly going to finish her projects.  She's only here for two weeks, yet she's assigned herself two doozies on top of the catering.

The guest bedroom gets a redo.  My 250 year old bed frame isn't a standard size, the double mattress I had on it kicked out on one side, forcing guests to sleep clinging to one edge not to roll off the slope.  She buys her own foam and cuts and glues herself a bed.

The remodeling project goes on simultaneously to her garden overhaul project.  My half acre orchard finally gets the TLC it deserves.  For days she tends to the trees, weeds and enlarges their bases with mulch.  Offering to help, I'm curtly turned down with: "you won't do it to my satisfaction".  She cracks me up.

Here she is scolding me for allowing my fruit trees to become shade trees!  Our Private is really a three star General in disguise.  

With her own presidential motorcade.
How do I reward such hard work:  Road Trip!

Seale Drive Thru Museum of Wonder.  Doesn't she look impressed?

OK, so no one is impressed.
For my next trick:  Roosevelt State Park hiking!

Here we go from unimpressed to slightly homicidal.

Nice try, but Uber can't save you out here. Ever seen anyone hiking with a purse?  Me neither, as I said, she cracks me up.  That is until she turns the tables on me and takes me for her kind of day trip: shopping.  

Shoot me now, I'm at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Now, she's a happy camper.
And the two weeks were gone too quickly.  I love you, mom.