Thursday, January 31, 2008

Corporate Meetings - Lame Lame Lame!!

What is the deal with people in meetings? You get more than 10 or so people and there is like a 90% chance that 2-3 people in that meeting are going to think that they need to fight each other to monopolize the entire thing with pointless anecdotes about a bunch of drivel. Seems like cub scout meetings are probably the worst I have ever seen, but last night's industry meeting about environmental sustainability was too close for comfort.

Am I bitter? Yes. I know I am supposed to try to keep to the bright side for my mental health and what not. So, here's the good news...(thinking)...I am starting to come around on my sales. Let me explain - I have to try to increase the company's business here in TX in order to justify a raise for myself. Some folks know how I feel about salespeople and for the interests of keeping things positive here, I won't go into it. Nevertheless, as time has passed, I have actually become more comfortable with "the cold call." Today on the way home from a business trip (in Dallas, but again, I can't elaborate without violating the principles of thinking positive) I stopped at an 11-story office building and was greeted by none other than the property manager and, get this, she was actually glad to see me and seemed to have a need for our services. Those ones dfinitely make the ones who cut you off without listening seem a lot better.

Hang on there folks, looks like brighter weather is on the way!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Reminiscing


I just found this pic from back when all the family was in town for Christmas. Dad took turns hauling various family members out to turn "cookies" on the "back 40." (Note the mud on the hood)

Monday, January 28, 2008

American Gladiators In Training

So....Sterling and Winter want to be American Gladiators.

I'm not really sure where to go with this, but we are training on a daily basis. We lift weights, climb hay bales, do sit ups, pushups, etc. For FHE, American Gladiators was the activity and we made popcorn. The kids still think TV is a movie, so the popcorn added a special touch...and of course, we did situps during the commercials for our training.

video

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Say Hello to my Steenky Leetle Friend

You have to listen to the dialogue on the video, it is a priceless sample of our marital problem-solving:
video

Jessica - Horsetrader

Good bye Cookie. Good bye mini-mule. It was a short lived affair. Today, Jessica sold Cookie (the leopard palomino, broken-legged, ancient mare) to a horse rescue operation. I guess they needed her to act as a companion horse to some of the other horses they rescued. She definitely knows how to be a companion. In fact, our main problem with Jessica's thoroughbred (Faith) has been her intense dependence on Cookie. Faith just hates to be apart from Cookie and was actually going crazy working herself into a heavy sweat just because we loaded Cookie into this ladies trailer. It all makes sense though because when I picked Cookie up in the first place, all the horses she was with freaked out too. We think she is just a corrupting influence and makes other horses become overly attached to her. That bad habit should suit her well at the horse rescue though. All the other horses can grow to depend on her and feel part of a herd with her. Maybe it will help their mental condition...I don't know.

While the lady was here picking up Cookie, Jessica (out of spite?) told her she could have the little mule too if she could catch her. Then Jessica proceeded to help her to do just that. They caught the mule and off he went too. So, we have really been trading into and out of livestock alot lately. Jessica is actually working to sell Faith too, and with any luck, we'll be horse-free and ready to start fresh from scratch now that we a bit wiser and know what to look for. Live and learn I guess.

We haven't done this in a while, so, for the purposes of Mark's stats project, here's the breakdown for today:

Total cats = 2
Total sheep = 4
Total cattle =1
Total horses = 1
Total goats = 4
Total foul = 0
Beehives = 3
Wasp stings = 3
Trucks = 1

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Houston, we have a problem

After coming home from a "sleepover" at the grandparents house and various errands in town, I spent most of the afternoon monkeying with the front end loader - trying to get it attached to and working with the tractor. It is a substantial piece of equipment and so it took a lot of time with the come-a-long, hi-lift jack, tow-strap, pry bars, hammers, chains, etc. to get it attached to the tractor. After all that, I got the hydraulic lines hooked up in what we think is the correct fashion (after a brief consultation with dad) and fired up the tractor for a test verification of the line routing. What a bummer. Nothing.....and I mean nothing. You can hold those levers in the up positition till the cows come home and they just don't move that front end loader. The only thing that did happen was a hemoraging of contaminated oil from around the seals on the hydraulic cylinders. Blegh!

I am consulting the folks on the tractor forums for professional opinions, but it is looking like those cylinders are going to need some attention.....and possibly a full rebuild. The good news is though that this is the first time I have had to examine the front end loader, and it appears to be in pretty good shape (aside from the cylinders.) I was half afraid it would have been all rusted out, but it appears solid. The other good news is that while runnaging through an old tool chest that the previous owners left in the shop, I found all the pins for mounting the loader. That means that we can take the $50.00-worth of pins that we bought at the Tractor Supply store back since we won't need them. That is always nice. Here's a pic of the assembled (and impotent) result of a half-day's work.

Friday, January 25, 2008

It's a Buckling

We "sexed" the little kid this evening. While it sounds dirty, it actually just involved peaking under the tail of the little bugger. It's...a boy! Here's video of Jessica petting him.



video

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Miracle of Life

About an hour ago, I suggested to Sterling that he go out to the shop to see if the mama goat I have in there had any kids yet. He came back shortly to report that, yes, there was a single brown baby! We grabbed Ginger and ran out to check - sure enough, we have witnessed the miracle of life on the farm! The Angora mama that we bought on Tuesday now has a little brown kid. From the rolling sides of the mama, we figure there is another one coming in shortly. Good times. The Angoras have proven to be a bit shy (a real dissappointment to our kids) so having some little babies that we can handle and grow up tame will be a lot of fun for them. Good times!


video

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Got the Goats (w/ a Bonus)


After some serious mileage yesterday on the ol' blue dodge (and after wading deep into hot water with the wife,) the goats are here. Dad and I drove out to Kemp to get them and it was quite an experience. We drove through some of the craziest dump/homes/farms/redneckvilles to get there. I tihnk it is safe to say that "the Country" south of Dallas is definitely different than "the country" north of dallas. All the houses were: A) tiny B) dumpy C) surrounded by trash/vehicles/junk. To top it off, the family we bought the goats from had THE craziest herd of exotic animals ever. From miniture zebus and miniture cows to camels, half-yaks and mini-mules.
Speaking of mini-mules, they had advertised one earlier for $25. They thought it had sold, but nobody came to pick it up, so they sold it to us. That's right, we brought home 3 Angora goats PLUS one mini-mule. Now right about now, you may be asking yourself just what exactly is a mini-mule? Well, here's my best guess - I figure it is a cross between a mini-pony stallion and a donkey or burro mare. Hopefully we'll snap some pics later today once the kids get home from school.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Unloadin' the Clip

We have been super busy lately with the installation of these hardwood floors. Granted, we aren't working on them full-time, but they are taking forever and we are nowhere near half done yet. It's going to be a long haul. Tonight, after a good session of floor installation, I took a break to get the big cage re-installed in the bed of the truck in anticipation of picking up 3 pregnant Angora goats tomorrow down in Kemp (SE of Dallas.)



I don't think the one in the middle in the above picture is an angora, but the white one to the right with the long hair certainly is, as is the white one in the back left. They look to have pretty good hair. Their owner also mentioned something interesting - that an Angora goat crossed with a Pygmy goat (plentiful and inexpensive) makes a goat that has an extremely fine/soft hair and that is plenty long (she said 6-8") so that sounds like something fun to try for. Apparently of the three nannies I'm getting, one is about to kid very soon and the other three are a little farther behind (spring kids?) That is kind of exciting - I was thinking it was going to be till spring when the Shetland sheep give birth that we would have our first birthings around here.

Here's the fathers. They are for sale too, but they are far too expensive since their owner seems to think that hunters will pay big bucks for them since they have such long horns. I'm hoping that maybe I'll be able to trade one of the babies (if there are any billies) to another Angora breeder to get some new genes once they get a little older. Nice racks huh?




Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I wanted to mention how difficult it is to shoot a rabbit with a pistol. I have a 9-shot revolver and I unloaded the clip on a couple rabbits this evening with nary a hit. It is just tough to get those iron sites to line up on such a small target. The rabbits seem to appreciate that though. One more thing - there is currently a little owl living in my shop. We left the big doors open one night and then closed them during the day - apparently that is all that is needed to keep ones shop rodent free. I figure I'll let him out tomorrow night.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

First Call For Loose Livestock

Well, it was inevitable, but it finally happened. We got our first call from the neighbors today. Ol' Bessie had wandered out our front gate and over to the neighbors (apparently she was grazing on their front lawn.) It was no big deal and their son actually drove her all the way back to our gate before I could get out to them.
Yesterday, Jessica's Faith (the horse) jumped the rear fence too. Are they trying to tell us something about our pasture or accomodations?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fun Pics

It's been a good couple of days here lately. Check it out:

Happy kids
Preparing the trim for the new wood floors ("Dad, can we help?")
Family Home Evening with a fire 3x taller than the kidsTricking for mom's camera ("C" is for "Cool"...cuz that's the way I roll!)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

To Get Rid of Training Wheels

In an effort to boost my Google search-ability (why? I don't know) I have decided to post on my theory on how to teach a child how to deal with the (sometimes traumatic) moment when you remove their training wheels when learning how to ride a bike. I was amazed at how fast kids learn to ride without training wheels once they are taught this technique. It all started when we were trying to get Winter and Sterling to give up their spare wheels...they weren't too excited about that. You see, with training wheels, they could ride - without them, they knew they couldn't. So, without knowing how great bike riding is once you get them off, they simply wanted to continue to ride with them on. This made it very important that the trials without training wheels went smoothly.
Unfortunately, riding with training wheels creates bad habits in the kids. For example, they get the bad habit of just using the handlebars to steer (as opposed to using them to keep the bike balanced as they should) so they would just hold the handlebars straight as they would start to fall over instead of turning into the fall and riding out of it. Over and over again, they would simply fall over and ride the bike all the way to the ground holding the handlebars straight. They were losing patience with the new riding (without training wheels) and kept wanting me to put the training wheels back on.
Things weren't going well until I finally just told them to just start sawing away with the handlebars as they rode turning the bars left, then right, then left, then right in a rapid sawing motion. It was amazing! Instantly, they could ride the bike without falling over (albeit in a bit of a wavy line.) Here's how I later decided it works:
Even theough they were sawing the handlebars back and forth, they did have some element of balance in their little heads. Because the sawing motion broke them of their training-wheel-learned-habit of hold the bars still, and because the average or net result of the sawing motion was influenced by their innate sense of balance, the counterintuitive motion of jerking the handlebars back and forth randomly actually allowed them to ride the bike unassisted. Once they got to where they could stay up on the bike, it didn't take long at all for them each to be starting, stopping, turning, and riding in straight lines. It really was amazing how that little trick helped them to learn to ride without the training wheels in what was basically a period of just a few moments.
This method worked for both Winter and Sterling, and I have even taught it to a few other kids who also learned almost immediately. So if you have kids who are stuck on training wheels, this may be your (and their) ticket to freedom.
By the way, this is somewhat obvious, but this method will not work for kids who have not been riding with training wheels. This is not a method for learning how to ride a bike; it is a method for learning how to break out of the training wheel cycle once the kid is already very good at riding with training wheels.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Stank B Gone

Somebody's gunna hafta splain this ta me, but I just dropped off
1.25 tons of stank at the dump in my 3/4 ton truck? Anyway, that's
the end of all that nasty carpet and other misc flooring from our
house. They charged me 39.00 bucks, but good riddance.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Stumbling and Timewasting

A month or so ago, we introduced readers to the magical wonders of Pandora internet radio (see link in sidebar if you haven't tried it yet) and the time has now come to introduce a new wonderous website that is actually quite similar in its mechanics. My brother Mark (always the 'early adopter') introduced me to this site with a warning that it would become the source of unlimited wasted time and he is surely right. StumbleUpon.com is one of those websites where you can sit down and waste any given amount of time. Over and over, it serves up the magic of boundless internet and never ceases to please. Like Pandora, the concept is to deliver you to "random" websites that you "thumb up" or "thumb down" to progressively teach the computer what sorts of sites you like to see. Sounds great huh? Well, it gets better - StumbleUpon also has "channels" that allow you to target your stumbling (and this is where it gets really addicitive.) Set the thing to stumble through internet video and you will go from amazing 4 year old karate masters to stomach-tingling accidents and on to mind-blowing rubegoldbergesque contraptions.
You now have my permission to navigate away from this blog to the netherregions of the internet courtesy of StumbleUpon.

Ginger - At Home on the Farm

What can I say:


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hornets in the House



Sterling has been the traditional reciever of the wasp stings (in dramatic fashion no less) but tonight, in the comfort of our own home, Winter got in on the action. After dinner, Winter started screaming like a banshee - it took a few to figure out what happened, but we finally got it out of her....she had no idea. Turns out she had the bad luck of stepping on a wasp as she traversed the wilds of our living room.
We actually killed about 3-4 of them in the kitchen earlier. Every time it gets a bit warm around here, the house spontaneously generates them - we still haven't figured out where they are coming from. I'm hoping once the flooring goes in, it will seal up their entrance....or is this just a TX thing we should get used to?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Horses - what to do

We are really kinda new to horses, and maybe we don't know what we are doing, but Jessica's horse (Faith) has been acting really clingy towards Cookie (the spotted horse) and Cookie has been acting kinda bossy. Faith is so finicky when she is not around Cookie that Jessica is actually considering swapping her in for a different model - a bit slower, steadier, and calmer. It's kinda like Faith is an italian sports car and Jessica feels like she might be more comfortable driving an old dependable Jeep. Cookie for her part could possibly be a corrupting influence...who makes the horses around her act crazy?
What do we do? Get rid of one....or both? I actually started responding to a "companion horse wanted" ad from someone who just wanted an old horse to keep their old horse company and as I was attaching images of cookie, I started to repent. At least 50% of those images have our kids sitting on her back having some really good times. Can we give that up so easily? Maybe we'll "detune" Jessica's steed and see if the new ride can get along with Cookie without being corrupted. Any and all comments (from those who know horses or not) welcome.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Grader stuck

The area where our land is the lowest is right at the road in front of the house. Right there, there are a couple big culverts that let water go into the neighbors land. I noticed the other day that it was pretty washed out down there and apparently I should have called the county about it. They showed up this morning with 6 dumptruck loads of fill and a big grader to fix it. When Jessica drove by them she stopped to chat (country-style) and they asked why she had never called them. Umm....well....we didn't really ever figure that they would come fix it for free I guess. I'm pretty stoked though because some of my fence posts were starting to slough off into the abyss so this should fix that.
The real fun though was that the big ol grader got stuck in the freshly dumped fill (which was a bit muddy.) After getting stuck, I considered taking the Dodge out to offer him a pull, but soon after, one of the dump trucks came back (they must have radio, eh?) and after a lot of head scratching, they finally hooked up a chain and proceeded to pull him forwards THROUGH the muck. They really got him stuck even worse and really into the nasty. The dumptruck was backing up to get slack in the chain and then gunning it till the whole rear end of the truck was hopping up and down. I thought for sure they would break the chain and the dumptruck would go flying off into the muddy hole on the other side of the road, but alas, no such luck. The best though was when the grade was backing up for a good run at the same time as the dumptruck was shooting forward for a good yank. I bet somebodies kidneys got a good racking right there.
Anyway, after 10 minutes or so, they eventually got it out and the grader driver was very careful to avoid a repeat. I have to say, it is a lot less stressful and much more enjoyable watching other folks extricate their rigs than trying to extricate one's own.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Lazy

Ginger, Max, & Cookie - Good times!

Where to start to describe the craziness that has transpired since Christmas Eve? I don't know, but I can say that we have been having some great times with all the family in town. Here's a few highlights:


  • Christmas day rabbit massacre with Mark, Neil and a new 6 million candlepower spotlight (thanks parents)

  • B-day party for Lille and Winter in which the farm was changed into a mini-petting zoo. There were tons of good friends and family

  • New Years fireworks over our lake with Nancy, Richard, Mark & Kelly

  • Tractor repairs, field mowing, sheep-hoof trimming and general farm-fun with Mark

It's been good times. Unfortunatly, something nasty struck the house as evidenced by Sterling's vomit shortly after we were winding down from the New Year's celebration in the middle of the night (what a way to start the new year eh?) We all were feeling it by the next morning, so things haven't been so great for a bit here.