Monday, June 30, 2008

Bye Bye Black Sheep

We bid adieu to our little black shetland ewe (born on the farm a few months ago) today. She headed out to her new home at Kangaroo Kate's Pony Rides and Petting Zoo in the back of a horse trailer. It was kind of sad to see her go since she was probably the friendliest of the sheep (which is why Kangaroo Kate wanted her) but it was a calculated step to try to start reducing the shetland flock so we can focus more on the angora goats. Farewell black sheep and we hope you have fun with all the little kids around the metroplex.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Magnet for Disaster

The kids were jumping on the trampoline over at my friend Tyson's house this afternoon while I installed a new lower radiator hose on the trusty(?) Metro which we had parked there on Friday after I found a pinhole leak that has been causing us some major overheating woes. Suddenly Sterling started wailing like a stuck pig. Of course, he does this more frequently than we would prefer and has created his own little "sky is falling" situation so we merely yelled up to him that he needed to stop it forthwith. Usually, the wailing is a result of a group of children excluding him from their play or hurting his feelings or something. This time, had we only known, we would have gotten up there sooner.

I buttoned up the metro (the whole repair was accomplished in less than 30 minutes and he started screaming towards the very end) and walked up to the house to find that Sterling was under ice and when the ice was pulled back, his eye was almost completely swollen shut. Apparently he and Winter collided on the trampoline and he came off with the short end of the stick. Here's the result after an hour or so of ice. Notice how happy Sterling is. He was tough (after the initial wailing) but he certainly didn't want anyone thinking that he was pleased with the situation.

We have way too many pictures of Sterling with an overly swollen eye (usually from wasps.) If we keep up this rate, we are going to be able to compile a complete photo album of images of Sterling at all different ages with a swollen eye.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


As you may have already noticed, I added a soundtrack to the blog. It's ironic since I usually hate a website that "sneak-attacks" you with music when you visit, but as I listen to my country station (on Pandora) I found that there are a few songs that really hit home with me and seem to kinda match what we are doing here. So, I figured I would subject you, the reader, to them. Enjoy! ...and I guess if y'all complain too much, I can just pull em down.

PS - spanks to Wendy for the link to the little snippet that allows me to customize a playlist and get it on the blog ;)

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Human Bean

They say the reason you can't buy happiness is that we, as a race, are remarkably adaptable to our surroundings. Let me explain. When things are going miserably, we adapt and make do with what we have. The folks in prison camps develop their own rules and societies and make do. At the same time, follks who have found themselves to be recipients of windfall sums of money are initially elated, but soon also adjust to the newfound riches and find that they are no happier than they were before. Studies show that happiness remains more or less constant over the long term regardless of the day to day positives or negatives that happen to us.
The other day, we drove our Suburban for the first time in a month or two. Wow - that is a nice vehicle. I guess I had forgotten about it after driving around in the metro for so long. The contrast between the two vehicles is huge, but here are a few of the most glaring differences:

  • Road noise
  • Handling
  • Height above the road
  • Cleanliness
  • Radio
  • Seat comfort
  • Did I mention road noise?

Anyway, this post is a salute to the things that bring us back down to earth and remind us of how great we have things. Heck, just having a single vehicle with money to pay for gas is a great thing. Oh yeah, and if you are waiting for "tomorrow" for things to be better, you better reconglomerate because this is it baby - it doesn't get any better than this....and even if it did, your human bean mind would just moderate your happiness right back down to where you were. Carpe diem baby!

PS - to keep the farming flavor:

- Today I wrestled a 200 lb goat to the ground and gave myself a blister by trimming his hooves with wire cutters while I sat on him to keep him down

- We found a turtle that tried to go under a low electric fence. Apparently turtles don't do well with 4,000 volts running from the top of their shells to the ground because he had a serious case of total death.

- We took Jessica's parents (here visiting from Holland) to a genuine cattle auction in Bonham. They thought it was a unique TX experience and couldn't beleive how many cattle were sold.

- I took the day as a vacation day from work, but ended up putting in a good solid 2+ hours of work anyway

- I was welding the pool fence (making repairs to rusted out areas) and while cutting out some old rusted sections, my angle grinder self-destructed - thank you Harbor Freight!

- I put in a couple of laps on the tractor around one of the last sections of pasture that is not yet mowed

- Ginger (our youngest at about 2.5 years old) can swim about 6' under water. As soon as we can teach her to put her head up to grab a gulp of air, she will be swimming all the way across the pool.

- One of the chickens climbed into Jessica's mother's lap to steal her pizza (while she was eating it) This did not go over to well as she is not a big fan of chickens and that is a little to close for comfort even for a moderate chicken-fan

- BIG NEWS around here, apparently the bachelorette got rid of the guy that Jessica says was a "playa." I'm not really sure what any of that means to us, but it is BIG NEWS around here

- I found Jessica's keys (missing for 2 months) in an old vato jacket that she had left them in out by the sheep pen. I am the big hero!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Can someone send me an email?

I'm sitting in a meeting all day and could use some entertainment...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Necked Red

Yesterday I took out a rabbit from astride the trusty John Deere lawntractor with a shotgun. It was a rolling shot which was kinda cool (I didn't stop to aim.)

Unfortunately, I am now questioning how I feel about the fact that I may have taken red-necked-ness to a whole new level. I guess we can take consolation in the fact the rabbit was dogfood rather than our entree for the day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hijacked Blog

OK, so I guess I have a new look. It's a bit off though. My tractor is actually a Ford (got some more mowing in today by the way.) Jessica's lawn tractor is a Deere though, so I guess we are OK. I have to admit though, the new format is MUCH easier on the eyes.

A quick update on Justin (the LGD) - he hasn't been out of his pen since his new haircut and tonight when I brought him his food, he stayed probably 20 feet away from the fence....I'm thinking the new haircut is doing wonders for his manners :)

New Look

I felt like this blog seriously needed a make-over. Of course I didn't have permission, so we'll see if Joe likes it enough to keep it. I like the John Deere touch


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Therapeutic Mowing

I pulled a couple laps on the tractor tonight. There's still plenty to be done, but it was kinda nice feeling the hot air coming off the engine in the cool night breeze. Every now and then there was a pile of grass flung up on me and just when the straight line gets boring, and it seems like you are barely moving, you get to the end of your pass and have to slam on the brake on one side muscle the non-powered steering wheel to the side and swing the front end around to get realigned for the next pass. It is pretty difficult to think about work while doing that --> real nice.
The sun went down on me while mowing and when I climbed off the tractor, I could barely see the fence to climb through it. That's a good finish to a day.

PS - Jessica wants me to write about how we all went swimming today and had a good time. Winter is getting really good at swimming and Sterling is starting to take baby steps towards overcoming his phobia of water on his face. Ginger is, as always, incredibly cute and brave - she will do anything the other kids will do.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Shaving the LDG

No, it's not a new-wave dance's what you do when your livestock guard dog (LGD) can't seem to remember his place on the farm. Tonight, Justin (our part Anatolian Shepard, part Great Pyrennees guard dog) got treated to the sheep-shears and a spray of flea/tick/mite killer. His long hair used to be thick enough that he could run under the electric fence around the goat-pen without getting shocked - it kind of held the wire away from his skin. This has caused him to start showing up around the house just about every day lately. An LGD who doesn't know his place is an LGD that has no place on the farm. It sounds cruel to shave him just so he can get shocked, but look on the bright side. With his new haircut, he stays cooler in the heat and he can avoid getting the boot off the farm (which is what will happen if he can't stay up there and guard the goats.)

Also, by way of closure, the ants pictured below that we found in the attic are, indeed, just that - ants. I had feared they were termites, but it turns out they are actually acrobat ants. They actually eat termites and are attracted to moist wood. That last bit is not good. We have attic vent fans that leak a bit of water if it rains real hard, so I am sure that is what they are up to. We'll have to get rid of them, but at least it is not a termite infestation.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Please Let Them Be Ants

I guess TX is a pretty insect-friendly state, but it doesn't do much to make me feel much better about finding a big ol' colony of these bad boys in my attic today while changing the AC filters :(

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Glenn Beck Rulz

He is now saying what I have been saying:

In this interview, he discusses the Geo Metro and mocks modern car makers for touting their lame gas mileage when a car that came out in 1989 gets better mileage than their modern marvels. Then, to top it off, he gets a car dealer buddy on the line and that guys starts bragging about a car that gets 36 mpg. What!? How can you be proud of 36 mpg in 2008 when we had 55mpg in 1989?

Modern cars are pathetic and that's why I own a Geo Metro (with pride).

One thing of note though, you definitely aren't picking up any chicks in one of these babies.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


We used the front end loader to lift up one side of the bushhog and prop it up on a 55 gallon drum (the safest configuration I could come up with - that thing has to weigh 400 lbs) so we could get up under there. I then used an angle grinder to sharpen the blades which were about as sharp as marble. I am not really sure just how sharp they are supposed to be (since we routinely hit rocks, tires, etc.) so I only filed them down to about sharp as a pencil eraser. Then, I hooked it up and set out to mowing the driveway edges. It worked like a charm - much better than pre-sharpening.

The only problem, of course, is that the wheel that keeps the thing at a consistent height above the ground is still broken, so I had to use the lift on the rear of the tractor to constantly adjust the height of the mower as I went over the uneven terrain. What a pain!

I should also note that shorts and crocs are not ideal bush-hogging atire, although having a bed of grass clippings between foot and croc is not altogether that bad of a sensation.

The most noteworthy thing of the whole affair was when all the sudden the tractor stopped, wheels still spinning, then stalled out. It took me a few moments to realize that the bucket on the front end loader had dug into the ground in the hillside I was approaching. Oops. Fired her back up, reversed out of it, and lifted the bucket a bit to continue. Good times.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I saw an ad for free roosters up near Tulsa today ( I drove up there at 4:00am this morning) so I stopped by and grabbed a couple on my way home. They are really beautiful animals and we are excited to see if we can get chicks growing on their own here - that would be kinda fun. It was dark when I got home so no pics, but we did cut the wingfeathers on all the chickens since one flew over the fence and got eaten by our dog (that dog's days at this farm are seriously numbered - he is taking the first train outta here and lucky he isn't getting treatment .22)

On an unrelated note, it looks like H. Clinton is getting ready to take the ol' heave ho. I am very excited about that. Now, if the 'O' gets elected, I won't be able to complain because I have just been asking for anyone but the 'H'. We have simply just had too much of Clinton/Bush lately and the one thing that I can agree with Obama on is his slogan on "Change." Clinton/Bush are like the dirty skidded underwear that certain unnamed kids are constantly leaving strewn about the place.

On a second unrelated note, is there any sort of prize for the ugliest blog format on the web? Cause, I have to be winning right?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Farm Mechanics

Roscoe is looking to get his farm work merit badge for scouting when he visits us this summer. We figure there is going to be PLENTY of mechanic work around here. This weekend, we knocked out a big one, but there is still lots to be done.

Sat. morning the kids and I picked up the rebuilt lift cylinders for the front-end loader. We got them installed, and after a few gallons of new hydraulic fluid (I think it still needs another gallon or so) it was working great. Here's the evidence as we used the FEL to lift our brush hog into the back of the truck (to haul it into town to consult with the hicks about how to fix it):

FYI, a brush hog, (AKA bush hog) is a field mower that runs off the PTO on the rear of the tractor. This particular version cuts a 5' swath which sounds great until you run it across a field a few times. It takes FOREVER to cut a field with 5' swaths at a time. It is supposed to have a big wheel on the rear of it (the part that is jutting out towards the cab of the truck) that runs along the ground behind it as you mow to keep it from scalping the pasture. Well, the shaft that the wheel is mounted to is SEVERELY worn and after consulting with a few old farmers, we determined that the shaft is just too far worn to allow it to function properly. It binds up and the wheel doesn't track in a straight line and is always trying to turn while the tractor goes straight which causes it to break off. In fact, the last time we mowed, it was grandma that knocked the wheel off the brush hog. It has been sitting around for months waiting for its turn on the never-ending list of things to do around here.

We also did a bit of fishing and pulled in these bass (in addition to some other smaller bass and some bluegill):

The one on the top is actually a pretty sizeable fish (fat!) We ended up turning them loose instead of eating them though.