Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A bit more of Josh from last week

Sterling has an account with Sterling Savings Bank in Idaho.  The kids usually get the mail when the bus drops them off at the end of our driveway and bring it to the house.  All kids love getting mail, and Sterling always knows when a letter comes for him because his name is ALL over it. Can you tell he is happy to have received a letter?

Ginger is the epitomy of cool:
"Unkyjiahsh" (as Ginger calls him) really loves driving the tractor - here is an action shot of the man, myth and legend on his way to mow a few.
Unkyjiahsh also really developed a quick bond with this longhorn.  


We hit the lake for a few moments tonight and brought in a crappy and a 2.6 lb, 16.5" bass.  I only mention this because this is the first fish we have weighed and measured here in the lake.  He's a pretty big one, but I think we have caught a few that were just a bit bigger than this one - but not a whole lot more.  If there is a real lunker out there, we have yet to hook into him.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What I did this weekend

  1. A marathon wrenching session to get the metro engine all hooked up and ready to fire (Josh was here Fri night helping to lift it into the car and prep it).  After spending basically the whole day squirreled away in the shop working on it, it rewarded me by firing right up (good news.)  Unfortunately, the oil light won't go off (bad news) so I am temporarily delayed from claiming victory until I do some more research to find out what to do to ensure that I don't ruin this engine by running it anymore without oil in it.
  2. Rammed the front end loader on the tractor into the front of my truck while grading out some gravel we had brought in.  OOOOOOOooooooooops :(  The good news is that the impact (while substantial) was precisely placed for minimal damage (hooray) and all I need now is a new headlight and turn signal.  I hit the truck hard enough that I was afraid the airbags would go off or something and it really is a miracle the hood and fender and (brand new) tire aren't damaged too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Pecking Order

They say the best "offense" is a good "defense" or is it a best defense is a good offense? Well, either way, we proved the latter on the farm this morning. You see, we have this one rooster who has decided two things. Number one: he is the cock of the yard and number two: Sterling is below a chicken.
Last Saturday, Josh and I were shearing a goat in the shop when we heard these blood curdling screams from Sterling. I thought for sure he had been stung by a wasp again. Turns out, he was being chased by the rooster. I tried to tell him that he simply needed to kick the rooster in the head and stop running from him, but Sterling is petrified of this thing. Since then, Sterling is not safe out in the yard - that rooster recognizes him and is always on the prowl for a chance to run him off.
I was pretty nervous about having an aggressive rooster out and about and I always swore that I would not have one on the farm, so this rooster is living on borrowed time. If he were ever to try to attack Ginger, (newly turned 3 years old) I fear he might damage her face since she is so short. I haven't had any time to really butcher the chicken and I was still half-hoping we could cure him by convincing Sterling to chase the rooster a few times with me. Unfortunately, he is so terrified of the rooster, he won't even chase it with me there for backup.
That is why I was so pleased this morning to find my sweet little three-year old (just turned 3 the day before yesterday) chasing that same rooster around the backyard in a little 15X10 area that she had trapped him in. Around and around they went. She had that rooster on the run. It was actually quite comical in terms of the fear Sterling harbors for that same rooster. So it looks like Ginger is safe (for now,) but that rooster has a date with the gallows (Sterling is lobbying very intently for that date to be advanced) because we certainly don't want him to get any more aggressive...

Monday, October 20, 2008


A guy dropped off a dumptruck load of gravel in the driveway this morning. That may sound like a lot, but it sure didn't go very far. In fact, the dumptruck didn't really look all that full, so I don't think I'll be using that guy again. ANyway, I spent like an hour moving it around with the front end loader which worked great for transporting it around, but which was not so great for getting it really even and smooth. I finally buckled and borrowed the neighbor's box blade attachment for the tractor which worked great. Another couple hours tonight and I had the entire driveway graded and the gravel all smoothed out. We prolly need another load though which stinks because that is some expensive dirt/rock.
For Ginger's Bp-day, she rode over to the neighbors house to get the grader blade with me on the tractor - she seems to enjoy that.
I also ordered CV shafts for the metro today (which should be here tomorrow) so I got started on pulling the old ones off. They are about halfway off now, but I don't have a socket big enough for the axle nut, so tomorrow when I get the new shafts, I'll be getting a new nut too. That should be the last thing that has to be done before Josh comes out here to help get the engine back into the car to start the reassembly process. This thing is going to be like a new car (mechanically) by the time we are done. Too bad it is still going to look like a beat-up old metro...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vogeltjes and Avejas

In our mangled spang-lis-utch family tongue, that can be interpreted as "birds and bees."  

We had a little lesson today courtesy of some (rotten) kid on the school bus who explained (sparing no detail) some of the events that may occur within the private confines of a married couple's doors.  Sterling didn't believe it (and was asking for verification) and Winter was in tears because Sterling was telling me this (she had told him after she heard it from some girl on the bus and thought she would get in trouble.)  Anyhoo, the proverbial gato is out of the bag around here and a few years earlier than I might have predicted too.  Sterling seemed satisfied when I told him that one could do that if one wanted to (when married) but that they were certainly not obliged to do so.  They also were very attentive to the rule which was reiterated (because it seemed appropriate to do so) that nobody is ever allowed to touch their parts and they are not allowed to touch the parts of others.

Did I sign up for this?  Really?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is it Friday Yet?

The decision was finally made today to keep our Chicago operation going.  Phew!  Close one.  You may not have realized it was in peril, but with cutbacks from our major customer there, we had to look at it very seriously and we have been doing some serious negotiation.  Anyway, it's on, which is great because after all the work we have done to get a decent manager out there, it would be pathetic to shut it down now.  The good news is that with all the cutbacks, I plan to suspend travel there as an emergency cost-saving measure until January when we expect business to pick back up.  Who hoo!  No more Chicago and, it just happens to be most of the winter time too.  I certainly won't miss leaving mild TX in mid winter to go visit dreary Chicago.  That place it COLD in the winter time...

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Here's some of the pics from the weekend with my bro Josh.

One of Josh's many catches of the day.  He was stoked to bring in some fish.  You should have seen the on that got away!
We used the truck as a "dock."
You can just make out our tent in the distance.  This is the view from the house.
Roasting the "smallsmallows" early Saturday morning.

Josh feeds a marshmallow to one of the longhorns.
Josh shows off the sheared billy goat "Robin" (not sure what he is doing to his keister.)  The goat in the truck is waiting for its turn at the shears.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Camping on the Back 40

Friday was a long day for me, but we ended it well.  Within a short time of arriving at home, Josh, the kids and I were piling blankets and sleeping bags into the truck.  We grabbed the tent, a few flashlights and headed out into the back of the field, behind the lake.  The kids were going crazy and it was really intense.  I'm not really sure how to descibe it, but there were three kids, and the two of us adults and the kids were up past their bedtime and we were all crammed into a single tent that was so packed with soft stuff that you couldn't hardly fall on anything hard.  The kids had a blast and we finally got them quieted down and to sleep.  Neither Josh nor I slept very well.  it may have had something to do with the fact that the kids were sleeping all over us.  I took several elbows to the face in the middle of the night - I also had to wake up several times to cover Ginger up who is still in that baby phase were she doesn't cover herself.

Morning came very early and we did a bit of quick fishing (fruitless for some reason) then kindled a small fire within about 100 ft of the back door of the house.  We had a whole bag of marshmallows, and while we did feed a few to the cows, I was nevertheless surprised when the entire bag was used!  Wow.  That's a lot of sugar.
Josh and I decided to get serious with the goats and set up a full on operation.  We sheared, dewormed, deloused, clipped hooves, and even tattooed in one case.  The goats had gotten into some NASTY Texas cockleburrs and they were all over in their fleeces.  It really sucked handpicking them out.  We got a lot of them out, but we'll still have to do some more with them if we want to keep their value up.  It turned into a long day of goat wrestling and Josh and I were hot, sweaty, stinky, itchy and tired, but we did get 4 of the 6 goats done.  
Josh seemed to have had a good time although I think the kids may have worn him down a bit on Friday while I was gone.  He was a soldier though - even though he had an injured wrist from a minibike accident.  By the way, the minibike is now out of comission - I broke the chain on it today while I was riding it with Ginger.  :(

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Uncle Josh Visits the Farm

We have the great priviledge of having uncle Josh (just out of 5 years in the Navy and back from Guam.)  We are treating him to a good ol' TX welcome in what has become a bit of a tradition here at the farm.  A tour of the farm followed by an evening of fishing and hopefully some shooting a little later.  Right now, I am at home (just put the kids in bed) and Jessica and Josh are out on a trip to buy more chickens (this time, laying hens.)  That ought to give Josh a pretty good feel of the way things are out here.

It's great to have him back.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wubber Chickens

With vegetables, fresher is better.  Same with fruit....and underwear.  The thing is, it appears that ain't the case with "shickens."  Jessica has a few too many roosters and I had a hunger for flesh tonight, so we put two and two together and had us a killin'.  We wrung his neck and had him on the barby within a few minutes.  I figured that would be just tops for some finger lickin' drumsticks.  Wrong.  The kids could barely gnaw the meat off the bones.  Tough isn't really the word to describe it - it was more like some sort of rubberized suede.  

Winter happens to be missing two front teeth right now (from the size of the gap, you'd think she was missing four) couldn't really even make it happen at all.  Ginger kept stuffing gigantic peices in her mouth, chewing them (with no effect) until she grew weary and then gagging as she tried to swallow the entire hunk.  Sterling gnawed on a leg bone and really gave it the ol' college try but eventually gave up and wandered off.  To top it off, Jessica blessed the meal with the following comment, "my steak knife would barely even cut it."
I guess this is what moms feel like after laboring all day to create a casserole for ungrateful kids.  Next time, pehaps we'll "age" the meat...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Cattle

It's been a while since I posted any pics of the cattle.  Since they seem to be the theme this week, here's a quick shot or two I grabbed this morning while they were up in the pasture bordering the house.  Of course, this is only 2 of the 3.  The other longhorn is over at the neighbors still...she has decided she likes their herd better and we are having a hard time convincing her to come back home.

The other longhorn's horns are more "flat" meaning they grow more out straight from her head and she has more brown on her face.

Note how "Ol' Bessie" the brown swiss is becoming a "blond swiss?"  Apparently the sun in Switzerland is not as punishing on a girls "doo" as it is here in TX.  For reference, click here for the last pictures we had taken of her from back in November '07.  She is packing on the pounds and you can really see in the picture above that she has a VERY full figure.

Monday, October 6, 2008

False Blame

OK, I was wrong.  In yestiddy's post, I blamed the many steaming piles of fecal evidence strewn thoughout the yard on a weeklong spree of freedom by our own cows.  I thought it strange they had escaped, pooed all over the place, then just went back into their own pen for our arrival.  It turns out the crap-flinging bandits were roving cattle from a way back behind our place.  I spent about 10 mintues "herding" 6 of them with the Dodge back onto their own pasture this evening.  It did seem strange that so few cattle could have distributed so much dung in so little time.  Now the mystery is solved.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Back on the Ranch

We arrived home tonight from Disney World after a day in transit to watch General Conference at the parents house - it was nice decompression time, but since all of our schedules are so out of whack I'm afraid we may have been quite disruptive there.  We got back on the farm around 7:00pm or so and immediately discovered that, though the cattle were innocently grazing in their pasture, they had been out roaming around the yard while we were gone.  They had left "sign" all over the place.  By the way, "sign" is like code for gigantic piles of cow dukie.

I quickly discovered several spots where they had walked through the electric fence and fixed them, but it was obvious that there was some other problem area that had allowed them to escape in the first place so after fixing the obvious stuff, I hopped on the motorcycle and cruised the fenceline looking for problems.  I have started to turn this activity into a science - I disconnect the fence into sections and sequentially unhook/hook-up the sections to isolate the problem area so I don't have to search the entire fenceline with a fine-toothed comb.  Anyway, it didn't take long to find that the problem was the area I hit with the front-end loader before we left while mowing with the tractor.  I had broken a ground line which was draped over the "hot"line and was shorting it out.  The fence was still on and I figured that 1) the ground line would be safe to touch anyway and 2) that even if I got shocked, it would be a diluted shock.  Well, that figuring wasn't so good and so for the second time in my life, I got shocked by a very healthy 5,000 volts and let out an involuntary howl that I am sure would have been quite entertaining had you been blessed with an opportunity to witness it.  I had grabbed the two ends of the broken ground line (one in each hand) and one of them was still touching the hot line when the shock came through from one hand, through my body, and over out the other hand.  It was an shocking experience.
So the fence is now fixed up and tomorrow, when the cows decide to try to wander again, they'll reap the benefits of their curiosity with a good howdy-doody.  
It is nice to be back home.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Just a quick update - the kids are absolutely loving this place.  We probably couldn't have timed it any better - there was certainly a time when seeing ghosts in the "Tower of Terror" would have set Sterling off on a major incident, but as is, he rode it twice before he decided he "never wants to do that again."  Even then, he is not saying that in a scared freak-out tone, but matter-of-factly as a result of his reasoning that twice is enough to tempt the fates that he might be in the elevator that gets hit by lightning next time and be killed.

Ginger had her moment today after haning out with the character "Belle" from Beauty & the Beast.   Ginger was in her big poofy dress from Tanta Wendy's wedding and was obviously the star of the moment.  They sat together on the floor in mounds of fabric, twirled, and talked.  It was really something else.
Winter is a big fan of all the rides and asks "can we do that again" after each one.  Alas, we have so much to see that we have to go from one to the next.  It really has been a great vacation and the only thing we would change so far is that next time we would stay in a Disney resort hotel instead of off-property like we did.