Sunday, June 30, 2013

It Looks SO Much Better

Freshly mowed and looking oh so sweet!
A quick update before I head off to bed. I'll be working for the next two days at my new job so I'm not sure how much time I'll get to blog. Tomorrow will be an 8a-5p shift but Tuesday is my first solo 16-hour shift.

Uncle J and Auntie P came out for a visit today. Bringing along with them their riding lawn mower, a push mower, and a good sized weed eater. We spent the day mowing and trimming the entire area around the farmhouse. It looks SO much better. A path was mowed to the barn which will make it easier to spot any potential snakes. Bonus!

This also cut down on all the bazillion grasshoppers that were everywhere. Trimming around the house exposed the remaining critters that hadn't succumbed to my kamikaze pesticide spraying spree. I bet I sprayed over ten spiders on the back of the house alone. That giant bottle of pesticide was the best $5 I've spent at Walmart in a LONG time.

"Come on in Pilgrim...if you have the GUTS!"
Thanks to Auntie D and her youngins, we enjoyed hamburgers and hotdogs as we discussed the evils of this world in our own little paradise. Then we discussed bringing back chickens and horses, cattle and crops to the old family farm. It is most certainly doable and it electrifies me to think about it.

For those of you following the Ford 8N saga, we spent some time on her today. Uncle got her fired up a few times but only after injecting her with starter fluid up the air intake side of the carburetor. She never would run for more than about five seconds. I'm planning on attempting my first carburetor rebuild (kit) this Wednesday, as long as finances can afford it. I'll video my endeavor so hopefully, somebody can learn from my inevitable mistakes.

I'm hoping that is all it will take. The brush hog hooked to the back needs a crucial welding repair before I'll be able to use it. Uncle said he'll take it back to the city with him sometime and have one of his welders fix it. Then we'll be all set. There's a 35-acre field directly in front of the farmhouse that I'm dying to play with. Right now it is full of weeds.

I brought in some more of the moving boxes that were still out in my trailer. Along with the boxes, I brought in my roommate and made him at home in the kitchen.  He used to stand behind the CT Scanner at my old hospital and scare the crap out of unsuspecting patients. I always got a kick out of that.

About half a load in the Wonderwash
I quickly did some more laundry with my Wonderwash as well. I've gotta say, I'm pretty impressed with this little gizmo. It really gets the job done and doesn't take up much space or effort. I can clearly see the dirty water that I pour out AFTER a load is washed. I recommend you pick one or two up like I a part of your redundancy plan.

I opened two cabinet doors and perched the extendable tree pruner across the tops creating an impromptu clothesline. A nice box fan provided enough wind to dry the clothes in about four hours. The yellow trash bag is one week's worth of trash. I think that's quite a bit considering it is just me out here. I think I'll start burning my trash from now on. There's a burn barrel next to the barn for just such an occasion.


New Rules for the Farm

#11) When you're weed eating for the first time, pay extra close attention to what you are doing. Phone cords and ground wires can EASILY get caught up in an overpowering weed eater and jam it up. So can random ropes that are left lying around in tall grass.

#12) Just because a tractor battery is brand new doesn't mean you can crank on it all day. More like 20 minutes...which I think stinks. Either be prepared to crank less or have your charger with you.

Back Home Report

Wifey and the girls spent the day with her Dad for his birthday. Happy birthday Other Dad. Glad you could provide a swimming pool on a ridiculously hot day for the family.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Working on the Ford 8N Tractor

Showing the old spark plugs
Finally, a Saturday off and nothing to do but work around the farm! Top of the list is the old Ford 8N tractor. I had been trying to charge the old battery in the farmhouse for the last two days to save some money. The charger said it was registering a charge but it wasn't enough to fire up the old Ford.

I headed into town to get the battery tested and buy some tractor parts: spark plugs x 4, Marvel Mystery Oil, Berryman B12 Chemtool carb cleaner, ethanol free gasoline, a gas can, and a funnel. After finding that my two local parts stores closed at noon in my nearby small town, I headed into the next bigger town to O'Reilly Auto Parts. They were more than helpful and super friendly. That's part of why I moved out here. I ended up buying a new 6v battery too.

I didn't know what size spark plugs the old Ford would take but the fellas at O'Reilly had a parts book which they used to look it up. I linked to it up above in case you need some someday. As my transactions concluded, they politely reminded me that they would be open until if they knew I'd be back.

I stopped back by the small town nearest the farm on the way home for gas. There's always young teenage girls working the register and I knew the time would come that I'd have to look like an idiot. Not knowing a thing about tractors, I first used the restroom while I tried to figure out how NOT to sound stupid. I approached the register and said "I need some tractor gas. That's pump 3, right?" I had noticed a farmer filling up his tractor at that pump a few days prior.  "Yes," the two country girls said with a smile. "I'll also need some regular gas for my jeep. That's pump 2, right?" Again they agreed. I left my credit card on the counter and scooted out the door.

Yeah, but at least I didn't ask for "tractor gas"...
"Whew, I made it out of there with my pride intact," I thought, as I walked out to fill up. First, I put the nozzle from pump 2 into the jeep and started filling her up. I took the newly bought gas can out of the passenger seat and walked over to pump 3. I noticed it said "Diesel" on the side of the pump. "Crap. I'm not supposed to be buying Diesel, am I?  Oh Lord, I'm gonna have to walk back in there and be stupid now..." was my internal dialogue. "But wait! They confirmed that the tractor gas was pump 3. This IS pump 3." So I just decided to take my chances. I filled up the five gallon can and went back inside to pay.

I casually walked back in feeling confident that my Justin boots and dirty Carhartt pants and shirt would make me blend in. I paid the bill and then it happened. I couldn't help myself. The last thing I wanted to do was put the wrong gas in the old Ford and mess it up just because I refused to ask a dumb question and look like an idiot. So I said "Pump 3 says Diesel on it. Is that the same as Ethanol Free gasoline...for tractors...?" Their smiles were even bigger this time. I could feel my face heating up like a little boy staring at a pretty lady. "It's tractor diesel," they said in what seemed like a restrained giggle.

I nodded as if I knew what THAT meant and headed for the door. Before I could put my hand on the door handle, one country girl said quickly "Hey..." and I turned to look at her. "Don't put that in your truck..." she said sheepishly. With my last speck of couth, I winked at her and said: "I have a lot to learn." I made it to the Jeep without tripping over anything and off I went.

Carb cleaner in a fuel additive form.
Back at the farm, I enjoyed every bit of working on the old Ford tractor. I slid in the new battery and hooked it up. I replaced all four spark plugs and added drops of Marvel oil into each cylinder. The oil filter had semi-clean oil and a decent level on the dipstick. The air filter was emptied out and replaced back into place with the thin jerry-rigged wire that had been used by her prior owner to secure it into place.

I put her in neutral and held my breath as I gave the starter a push. Rerrrr rerrrr rerrrr...nothing. Cranked over but no start. I figured out how to fill the glass gas bowl with gasoline and did that. Followed the gas line over to the other side of the engine into the carburetor. I removed the drain plug to find that no gas was coming out. I opened all idle screws and tried cranking her again. Nothing. So I removed the gas line on the carb side and nothing was coming out.

Knowing how awful gasoline tastes (don't ask), I knew I had to siphon it over. I did...and it came flowing. Blech! "Yep, still tastes like arse," I thought.  However, it was a small victory in my mind. I screwed it back to the carb and checked the drain plug. NOW I had gasoline draining. I tried cranking it over several times with several different combinations of choke, no choke, low accelerator, high accelerator but she just wouldn't start. By the time I was done, the brand new battery wouldn't crank. Dang. Defeated for today. Tomorrow, check the points in the distributor.

The good news is the cavalry is coming tomorrow. Both Uncle R and Uncle J are coming to the rescue. They both have 8N's at their houses and know a lot more than I do about these tractors. I'm sure they'll have the old Ford up and running in no time. I'll make sure to video it for you guys. Aunt D just text and said she was bringing hamburgers to grill outside. Sweet! I sure wish Wifey and the girls were here. They would be having a blast for sure. 

So that's it for today. I did learn some new rules though...

New Rules of the Farm

- swallow your pride and ask what you need to ask. The biggest mistake you can make is not doing the right thing because you were afraid to ask the right question. (Pretty girl, or no pretty girl...just ask already!)

- small town parts stores will close before you get there. The worse you need the part, the earlier they will close. Call ahead and check their store hours. Then, find out where the parts store is in the next bigger town and call them.

-it's a six-volt battery if it has three distilled water chambers in the middle of the battery. I don't know why that's just what they said. And the part that says CCA is Cold Crank Amps, which is relevant, for some reason...

-gasoline tastes like crap. Figure out how to siphon without your mouth...or expect to be tasting it for the next two days.

Back Home Report

It was Dollar Flip Flop day at Old Navy. The girls all went shopping for shoes and left happy, according to Wifey. They also picked up some free movie tickets from some church friends who were giving them away due to a scheduling conflict. They enjoyed the new Monster's Inc movie last week. I wonder what they'll see this time?

Happy feet!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tractor Battery, Old Wood Cook Stove and Rattlesnakes

The old Ford tractor in the barn.
Update: My Guest Post is on Survival Blog right now. It is titled "How to  Decide on a Homestead Location AND Get There" and you can read it here.

I was able to arrange my work schedule yesterday to get the morning off. I worked from 3pm to 11pm and was able to start working on the Ford tractor. I've had mixed responses on what type of tractor everyone thinks this old Ford is: 9n, 850, or ? I'll post more pictures as I progress with the restoration.

I've pulled the battery and have it in the farm house charging right now. It took a charge pretty quick and still has plenty of distilled water in the three chambers. The expiration says 2005 so we'll see what happens with it. I'll post a picture of the battery charger display and you guys can tell me what you think. At the time of the picture, the batter had been on the charger for about 90 minutes.

Rating a 5 after about 90 minutes of charging.
I'll follow the advice of Solarman and check the fluids, drain the gas and refill with ethanol free gas, clean the carburetor, pull each spark plug and put Marvel Mystery oil in each cylinder, and replace the plugs. With the freshly recharged battery, maybe she'll cough to life. Oh, and the tires need air. Good thing I brought my trusty pancake air compressor.

Since I was in the barn, I poked around a little more. Found some more neat stuff. As a kid, I remember this big GIANT wood stove of a beast in the farmhouse. Grandma would keep feeding kindling in it while heating the house. You could cook with pots and pans on the top side or put pans inside little oven compartments. It was the neatest thing. I found it in the barn today in pieces. It looks to be all still there. It has a baby blue paint job mixed with the metal framing.

OOOOhhh, she's pretty! Old wood stove.
I also found the old clothes washer and wringer. I remember it sitting out in front of the house. I bet it still works too. I'll need to try it pretty soon. My dirty laundry is piling up since I've been here almost a week now. Otherwise, I'll be trying out my portable Wonderwash. I caught it on sale on Amazon a few years ago and snatched up two of them. I figured it would be a great back up if the washer quit working at home until I could get a new one. Either that, or it would make a great punishment for an unappreciative teenager.

I work one more shift today and then I should have the weekend off. I might have a couple of uncles coming up to help with the Ford. If we can get it going, I'd like to brush hog around the barn and farmhouse this weekend. Then I won't have to worry quite so much about the rattlesnakes. However, I will heed the warning of fellow bloggers to start poking around with a stick in the tall grass just in case. Thanks for all the wonderfully helpful comments folks!


New Rules for the Farm

-don't blindly walk into tall grass without first stirring it up with a long stick. You don't want Mr. Rattlesnake to catch you by surprise!

-a hot catalytic converter on the bottom of your car can start a grass fire under the right conditions. Keep it moving or park it in the dirt (or keep the darn grass mowed.)

Back Home Report

Wifey was able to take the girls to see the new Monsters Inc movie and had a great time. We love going to the movies and getting the bucket-o-popcorn loaded with butter and shaker cheddar cheese. It exceeds our daily allowance of sodium by 5000x but we like it anyway.

Sis has her last day of summer school today. She overloaded herself a little this summer by enrolling in both online school AND regular summer school at her high school. I allowed it because she begged for it but we both realize now in hindsight that it made for a very dull summer break for her. Worth it,, not a bit.

Everyone else is continuing to play with neighbor children and I wonder how they'll get along when their nearest neighbor is a mile away out here in the sticks? Will they go nuts and constantly complain or will they find fun, constructive things to do around the house.  Personally, I used to be a master at making mud pies and swimming in the horse trough but hey...that's just me.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Video #2: Exploring the Farm and Treasure Found!

Morning ritual: breakfast and videos
I got home from work last night around 6pm (Oklahoma time) and enjoyed a nice nap. There's a two hour time difference between Arizona and Oklahoma so every morning that I've been getting up for work at 6am, my body still thinks it is 4am and not liking it too much. A nice, long nap refreshed the old body and I was up by 9pm working on my second video.

This second video is a little longer than the first. It only took me until about 4am to get this one done. The learning curve on video editing is definitely reducing. I've figured out that a majority of my editing time is dependent on my SLOW laptop processor. Google searches tell me that Windows Movie Maker is a resource HOG on the computer and that Mac computers are better at video editing. Wifey will love to hear that. She's a die hard Mac fan. I'm a PC. Remember those commercials? LoL.

Anyway, the video is up on YouTube titled Treasure Hunting on the Farm.  Towards the end I show some old farming equipment and hope some of you can help me figure out what it is. I hope to get it into the barn and clean it up some day. I have the 25g Bench Top Sandblast Sandblaster Cabinet on my Amazon Wish List so that I can clean up relics like these and restore them. Much like Wranglerstar did on his old apple cider press that he got from a neighbor.

There is SO much rich heritage to be learned from farms like these. I look forward to many hours of adventure and building a sustainable farm that can support numerous people. Today I'll start working on getting a battery charged on either the old Ford tractor or one of the two riding lawn mowers in the barn. I depends on how bad they look once I go inspect them.

Wish me luck! I'm NO mechanic...but it is time to learn!


Did you see my note in the paragraphs? I miss you sweetie. Tell the girls I love them.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Quest for the Golden Chalice

Oil pump at sunset on our farm.
Today was my first day at my new job. This rollercoaster-of-a-ride that I am on has been STRESSFUL at times but keeps proving out to be the right thing to do. One of the biggest worries I've had was how I would be accepted at my new job.

It's always odd being the new person on the block. Whether it's school, work or a  new neighborhood, I'm always careful of my presentation and try not to appear in a negative light. I try to keep a low profile and blend with the natives in hopes of becoming one myself.

As this day approached, I worried increasingly more that something would not work out. Would my new boss be a HUGE jerk? Would my coworkers all be lazy turds expecting the NEW GUY to do all the work?  I've had both of those situations in the past and it did not end well. This job is SO crucial to my plan of homesteading that I had to start deflecting my attention when I would become worrisome. After all, this job was the only acceptable employment I had been offered since being laid off over one month ago.

I showered  and set two alarms the night before like a good little soldier. I enjoyed my new morning ritual of cooking breakfast on an old hotplate and had scrambled eggs with a side of brown sugar oatmeal. YUM! Serving the eggs in an old tin pie pan made me feel like I was going to step outside into an old mining camp. Yeah, so I'm a dork. So what?

Work's over, time to explore the farm.
I enjoyed driving down the old farm roads leading me to my new destination. I arrived on time and began to meet the crew. Then the miracle went TERRIFIC! The employees were awesome, my boss was amicable (he even hung out with the staff most of the day), and I was given a FREE lunch card for the day! Woo hoo! I couldn't ask for anything more.

The day went by fairly quickly (I'm an old night shifter so days go a little slower for me) and soon I was headed back to the farm. I couldn't wait to call Wifey and tell her how well it went. She had good news for me too but you'll have to check the Back Home Report for it. I spent the rest of the evening daylight driving around the farm and collected film footage for my next video (have you seen the first one?). I hadn't had time yet to even explore the farm since I arrived three days ago. I used my trusty Corona Dual Compound Action Tree Pruner to drop overhead tree limbs that threatened to block my path.  Then I stopped and enjoyed watching an oil pump at sunset.

So that successfully concludes obtaining the second Golden Chalice out of the four that make up our final goal...becoming happy homesteaders! The first chalice was deciding on a homestead location: rural Oklahoma...check! The second chalice was obtaining a good source of income near the homestead...check! Half way there!

Sun vs Clouds.
The third chalice will be figuring out how to get my clan to Oklahoma. This includes moving Wifey, six daughters, a mother-in-law, and ALL our stuff (and her stuff) to Oklahoma, selling her house, renting our house AND coming up with the roughly $2000 it will take to Uhaul it all to OK. This is a tough challenge because the longer it takes me to figure out HOW to do it, the longer my family and I are apart. I miss my girlies and Wifey tremendously.

The fourth chalice will be what to move our family into once they get here: a double-wide trailer on the farm, rent near the farm and wait for a house to be built, shove everyone in the farmhouse until...??? This challenge feels the farthest removed from my grasp. I simply have not had an inkling of a revelation on how this will play out.

One step at a time I guess. I got the job, let's celebrate that for a bit. Put that second chalice up on the mantle and admire it. It was no easy feat to get THIS far.


New Rules for the Farm

#4) don't just drive blindly through thick grass exploring the land. You might run over an old piece of farm equipment. (Almost ran over what I think is an old tractor plow/disc?)

#5) it doesn't do any good to continuously spray the spider for five minutes with pesticide until it falls off the wall in a paralytic state. It would have died after the first five seconds and you would have saved a lot of bug spray. (Yeah, so...I like to be sure...)

Back Home Report

Wifey and I were so excited to talk with each other this evening that we initially began talking over each other. Once we stopped the traffic jam, she preceded to share with me that one of our favorite neighbors (whom we also go to church with) approached her tonight about renting our house when we move out! Blessing! I had mentioned the idea to Neighbor Daddy about a week ago knowing it would be cheaper for him than the house he currently about $400 a month. He has also had problems with his landlord and I couldn't think more highly of him. Outstanding father and great husband, I'd be thrilled to rent to him for the exact price I pay. WIN-WIN!

And that is a part of the third Golden Chalice too! Win-Win-WIN!

I mentioned the other day that while Sis was taking her final exam online, she was having computer difficulties. At her prompting (read: panicking), I checked the school website at that time and it appeared to be crashed from too much traffic. The last hour, of the last day of online school, when all tests are due apparently brings some heavy traffic ;-)

Wifey had sent the teacher an email requesting a response to the issue. She was just informed that the site was INDEED down and that Sis had another 24 hours to retake her final.  This gives her a bonus opportunity to raise her grade even higher!

The dogs are doing fine but Jade (German Shepherd) keeps getting out of her choker chain collar. Of course, if I had to wear one...I probably would too. I'll have to get her to take some pictures of those two dogs. They are simply gorgeous.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

My First Homesteading Video

Good grief, that took me, like, ALL DAY to do. Windows has changed the Movie Maker program since I last used it so I have a bit of a learning curve to overcome. My cheapy little hp laptop was pretty darn slow too. I had to reboot it a few times to get it to speed up.  It's only a year old for crying out loud. Of course, the Droid Incredible I bought eight months ago is already two versions old so...

Anyway, just like homesteading, you have to start somewhere. So here's my first video that lasts less than three minutes and took me nine hours to make :-(  Hope it is entertaining to some degree. Feel free to tell me how bad it least I'll know somebody watched it.

Back Home Report

Wifey text me earlier today to let me know that one of the songs they sang in church today was: "I'll go wherever you want me to go". Hmm, another sign?

A friend of mine (from my old job) and his wife went by and visited with Wifey and the girls last  night. She was happy to have some "adult" conversation. They also brought a 20lb turkey over to share. When Wifey told Bella-boo that a friend was bringing over a 20lb turkey, she said "Why, we can't even keep a chicken?" I think I forgot to post that our new German Shephard ate our last three chickens a few weeks ago. Anyway, her comment was funny.

New Rules on the Farm

None. I didn't leave the farm house all day cause I was making this darn video.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sleeping with the Critters

Electric pole and pump house
If I had a dime for every spider I swept up, vacuumed up or stepped on last night...I'd be rich man! Biggest chore of the evening (after lugging the window A/C unit from the barn to the house) was sweeping and vacuuming the farm house. Cobwebs in every corner, tons of critters (both living and dead), and so much dust that I don't think I'll be able to USE my nose for about a week. I even found a dead lizard in the house.

I went to bed around 1am and woke up about an hour later. It's always difficult to sleep comfortably in a new place. I decided to warm up some leftover KFC chicken that Aunt D brought by last night (you gotta love family!). Found out the microwave does NOT work. I was only slightly disappointed though because truth be told, I'm kinda diggin' the old school stuff out here.

I went outside to check the breaker box and see if a breaker had been left off from the previous day's plumbing adventure. I'll post that separately. First line of business upon arrival here was to help the ONE plumber in town assess the plumbing problems here at the farm house. But I digress...

So, I go outside to check the breaker box. It is "country dark" as I'll call it but there is a soft glow from one overhead telephone pole light which is used to bring electricity wires from the street to the farm house. The sky greeted me with a million diamonds and for a moment, I just stood there in awe.

Shoveling sand to find valve
As I headed around the corner to visit the breaker box, I glanced over at the pump house. I had spent a good half hour digging out sand there yesterday to help Mr. Plumber find the water valve to feed the house.  Apparently, it is the sole duty of some critter...or group of FILL this in-ground pump house with sand.  And I mean FILL it to the top. I had to shovel down a good four feet to find the red Folgers coffee can that marked where the turn valve was to be found.  I'll be working on a solution for that FOR SURE.

It was just about when I got to the breaker box that I caught something in my periphery. Still attempting to night-focus my pupils, I was able to make out a small figure. Once into focus, I realized that I had a new friend checking out my pump house. Mr. Raccoon was quite pudgy, I'd say. Of course, he probably was thinking the same thing about me. He scurried up the light pole and perched himself at the very top. With his headed tilted to one side  he seemed to be saying "Yup, I'm staying up here until you leave." Until I figure out whether he's friend or foe, I'll leave him be. Something tells me there's a dark side to Mr. Raccoon that I am blissfully unaware of.

All fuses were in their correct places. I guess the old microwave just isn't working anymore. No big. I ate some cold chicken and went back to sleeping with the critters. I awoke to do a spider check a few more times throughout the night. Found one by my head and took care of  him. In a last ditch effort to afford myself some peace of mind, I concocted a ring-o-Raid around my bed as if the moat of pesticide would be the inpenetrable barrier wall around my bed.  Stop least I got some sleep.

Munsey 2 burner + Ramen!
This morning I put some water to boil on an old Munsey two burner stove and made two Maruchan instant noodles. I know, zero nutritional value but oh so easy to make! I can dream about fetching fresh eggs from the coop outside and cooking up some delicious scrambled eggs with melted cheddar cheese and sea salt all I want. Until I get some chickens, it ain't happening folks. Maruchan to the rescue!

I'm already having to readjust my thinking parameters out here. For example, yesterday I had to complete a pre-employment drug screen for my new job. I put $30 in the Orange Jeep (which held up like a CHAMP on the drive out here, I might add) and headed down the country roads following my droid cell phone GPS. I successfully find, complete and head back to the farm from the drug screening. Astonished, before I even REACHED the old farm road, my gas light came on!

Running ONE simple errand burned $30 in gas. Oh no, this isn't going to fly. Starting right now, there is NO running to town for ONE thing. Everything will be grouped together and I'll be posting a "to-do" list on the refrigerator. Groceries, gas ups, knick knacks will all be bought on ONE trip from now on.  Sure, I'll forget stuff. I'm new at this. But I have to start somewhere right? So I'm starting a Rules of the Farm List.

Rules added to the Rules of the Farm List:

--If you find the gate CLOSED, make sure it is CLOSED when you leave. If animals get out onto the road because you left it open, you will be one VERY unpopular person.

--Keep a list of errands. Try NOT to make a single run for one item. It wastes gas. You're not in the city anymore and Circle K is not right next door.

--Don't ask anyone that has lived in the country to pick you up some bug spray on their way to visit you. They'll just laugh and say "You've got big feet. Just use your shoes!"

Back Home Report

Wifey text me this morning to inform me of what she woke up to an "almost dead bird in the dogs' water bucket"

Not enough room to spread wings and fly out?

I told her she was already experiencing homesteading skills! She was NOT amused. Everyone is still holding together in Arizona. Definitely can't wait until we are all back together again. 15 years with her by my side, I'm half a man without her. Well...maybe 3/4 ;-)

Sis finished both sessions of summer school. Her final exam in English timed-out on her in the middle of taking it last night. Either that, or the high volume of traffic at the last hour crashed the site. We're waiting to hear from the teacher about what happens next. Wifey and Sis emailed the teacher about the issue. I'm sure she'll be fine. She's doing Primavera Online High School. It is free to use and the teachers stay in constant contact with Sis. She knocked out English and Chemistry this summer.

Time to go find me a second window A/C unit in the barn.


Next: Mr Plumber (who had open heart surgery one month ago) and I install a water a billion degrees with 1000% humidity. Welcome to Oklahoma.

Two New Features Added

Along with blogging about my country adventures, I'm adding to other featurettes:

Rules of the Farm will be the hard and fast rules of living in the country. To keep it in a tidy list form, I'll cross-post it to it's own page.  I will include a snippet of how I learned each rule as well.

The Back Home Report will share what is happening back home in Arizona until I can afford to move the clan out to Oklahoma with me. So far, I'm still working on a place big enough to hold all eight of us. It will be posted at the bottom of my regular posts.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Upside down trash bags with hole in bottom cover clothes
I leave today in a few hours. For my littlest two (Monster and Flower), the only thing they've figured out is that my "being gone" means they'll get to sleep in my spot next to mommy at night. The rest of the clan are okay with everything and I'll be promising to call them daily.

I am now the pointman in our new adventure. It is my job to scout out the area and construct a viable plan. Our plan includes becoming more self sufficient through the use of livestock and gardening, bartering and DIY endeavors, and spending MUCH more time with family...both immediate and extended. Gone soon are the days of slaving away at a job that could care less how much family time you fore-go in order to help the company make a buck.

Reader's Digest Back to Basics is a MUST have!
There are "manuals" out there regarding establishing a homestead. The one I fully intend to use is my favorite: Reader's Digest Back to Basics. If you have the slightest itch to homestead, you HAVE to get this book. Personally, I like the old volumes for the feel and illustrations but it is up to you which edition you get. I've been told there isn't much difference. Considering the older versions sell on Amazon for a mere $4.66 (vintage 1981), how can you pass it up?

For one last affirmation, Wifey and I attended a church session to pray about our new adventure last night. Upon exiting, a bright shooting star illuminated over our heads. Her eyes teared up as she looked at me with a loss for words. "Really?" I said softly to her. "Are you still asking for ANOTHER sign?" Five seconds later a car alarm went off ten feet in front of us. We both shook with laughter. "Okay, okay...we get it!" we joked.

As hard as it is to believe that things keep happening which point us in an eastern direction, there are actually countless other signs that I haven't blogged about. Monster's tooth broke a few nights ago but was quickly fixed the next day by our favorite dentist for free (Dr Wold rocks!). The concern about how dirty the farmhouse would be was soothed when an aunt sent me pictures via cell phone showing how she had driven out to the farm, collected all the linens,  taken them home to launder and returned them fresh and clean without being asked. Time and time again, issues that initially seem like a hurdle get smoothed out quickly.

Now the hard part...time to leave.

I'll Tweet from the road because it is too hard to write more than a sentence on the road. I don't advocate texting while driving but I can use voice recognition to speak one sentence updates on Twitter. Follow me on Twitter if you want.  I'll post an update on this blog once I get to the farm and get settled in.  It's not very often in life that we get to do something both SCARY and FUN at the same time. Well, here goes...


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Last Full Day with Family

Wifey and me on a date night in 2011
No matter how I try to write this post, it keeps coming out depressing. You see, I've only left my children once. When Wifey and I went on a weekend vacation and had her mother watch our three little ones (back when we one HAD three little ones.) We did one of those weekend Carnival cruises and it was tough to leave them. So tough, in fact, that we never did it again. We have been married 15 years.

I don't believe in letting our government, public schools, daycare or anyone else raise our children. While it is true we lack, for the moment, the fortitude to homeschool our children, we still refuse to sign the permission slips for countless immunization shots, liberal sexual education indoctrinations and otherwise anti-family, anti-religious agendas. Our children are OUR responsibility.

The only time I have left Wifey has been in the last year to attend school. I have been driving up to Weber State University in Ogden, Utah to complete their RPA program. It requires two trips per semester, each for only two days of classes. So, I would leave on Wednesday morning and arrive twelve hours later to check into a nice ski resort. I established a terrific relationship with the management and scored a nice two or three bedroom condo for $40 per night. I've even taken my family up there twice but that is another story. My point is, only in 2012 did I leave Wifey's side and it was for a mere four day stretch on four occasions. One of those I took Sis with me. The drive is beautiful.

Fast forward to today and I am struggling with leaving my entire family for a minimum of one month...perhaps two. I'll miss July 4th with them which we have always celebrated together. I'll be 1,000 miles away. Of course, I'll be calling daily and probably Skyping for face time too. But it still doesn't change the fact that I'll miss them dearly.

If I had to sum up my feelings for Wifey, it would be with a picture I saw hanging on the wall in a local bookstore. It read:

"If you live to be 100 years old, I hope to live to be 100 minus one I never have to live a day without you."

Before I could buy it for her, the bookstore stopped carrying it. I'll have to make my own for of these days.

I've asked neighbors and church friends to check on them regularly. We'll go through some self-defense (read: gun practice) and emergency protocols later today. Smith & Wesson will keep her company by the bedside. The rest of the armory is going with me. Our nearly two-year-old German Shepherd is showing fierce loyalty already. I was told Alpha female Shepherds are naturally protective of their human family and she stays IN the house at night. The house was fortified years ago. We'll make a grocery run today so that I know they'll have fresh food for the next two weeks. I even offered to have groceries delivered from Amazon so she didn't have to run the errand. All that would be left to fetch is milk since our clan guzzles about a gallon each day. She just chuckled and grinned at my meek Amazon offer as if to say "Silly boy, do you think I'm helpless?"

While assessing the new job, my primary concern will be finding a temporary home. The sooner I do, the sooner we can be back together. Aside from that, I'll be scoping out the local church and schools as well as assessing the local living expenses. I'm being told the food costs are more expensive in Oklahoma in comparison to Arizona. I find that odd since Oklahoma is such a large farming state...or at least it used to be when I lived there 20 years ago.

Floated this idea by a friend's wife who does signage...
The only good thing about not having a job these past four weeks is that I've been able to spend so much time with my family. It has been a blessing in it's own way, I suppose. Now if only I could figure out a way to make all the income we need to enjoy life while living at home...

Any ideas?


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Totally MY Fault, I Can't Believe It!

Picking up Walmart supplies.
I'm running out of time to get ready for the trip to Oklahoma. My personal belongings are mostly packed as far as clothing and things INSIDE the house. Next on the list should be things in the garage like my tools and camping gear. Aside from the necessities, I am trying to take additional bulk items to lessen the load for our final move in a month or two.

As I pulled up in front of the house yesterday, Sis came running out to meet me with the words "Macky passed out in the hall!"  My puzzled looked provoked another quick statement from her: "She's laying on the floor in front of the bathroom..." Crap! The ER code bell rang out in my head.

I bolted into the house dropping Gatorade bottles along the way to narrow my focus on whatever I was about to walk into.  I darted around the hallway corner to find Macky laying fetal on the floor but her eyes were open. Five female voices began to explain to me what had happened all at the same time.

"One at a time, please!" I directed.  The abridged version is that she had just got out of bed and was headed for the bathroom. She thinks she called out "Mom, mom!" before she passed out. Wifey, who was only a few feet away in the living room heard no such words. She landed on the floor with a thump and luckily for her, there was a folded blanket to cushion her noggin as it landed. Primary and secondary survey showed no major injuries. She complained of a severe stomach ache with nausea.

After using the restroom, I sat her on the couch and went in to hospital mode. I retrieved my blood pressure cuff and instructed Wifey to go get her glucometer. Wifey had gestational diabetes during her sixth pregnancy and became intimate with the monitor. Macky's blood pressure was normal, as was her pulse (albeit a little slow) and respiration  but her FASTING blood sugar was 161. "Oh No, not NOW," I thought.

Mack was pale & clammy. Poor girl.
I was set to leave for Oklahoma in the next 48 hours. I can't leave if there is a health problem in the house.  Wifey will already have her hands full tending to six girls on her own while I'm gone. Figures that I've had insurance for the last umpteen years and we have a daughter in possible need of medical attention during the 30 days that I DON'T have insurance. A quick assessment proved that we didn't need to seek medical attention immediately.

Although I am set up for starting intravenous fluids at home, I opted to super hydrate her by asking her to drink lots of water. As her sugar level descended, I got her a high protein meal (chicken breast) and gave her a talk about nutrition. Note for you preppers out there: it is because I stocked up on medical supplies that I was able to assess her immediately. If I had needed to wait for an ambulance to arrive, it may have turned out worse. Take the time to establish a good first aid kit and routinely used medical supplies, along with a BLS (Basic Life Support) or ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) certification. Should you EVER need it, you WON'T regret having the knowledge.

If you have any questions about setting up a medical kit, email me I'll be happy to help.

Macky has a very close friend with juvenile diabetes and is very aware of the lifestyle. I could see the worrisome look on her face and provided verbal comfort. IF she did have diabetes, it COULD be resolved with proper diet and exercise. Both of which she practices NEVER. This will be her wake up call. At 14 years of age, it's time for her to start exercising and eating more healthy. Our move to the country may turn out to be another blessing in disguise for Macky. No fast food joints within easy access, limited convenience stores, and we'll begin growing our own food very soon.

It was sometime during all of this commotion that I realized "Shame on me." For over a year I had somewhat chastised Macky for being lazy. She sleeps all the time and hates to exercise with a passion. Two things that a lot of teenagers express, I rationalized. In hindsight now, I think she was expressing the signs of early diabetes and I, the healthcare employee didn't recognize it. Shame on me. I vow to pay more attention to the children.

I made the mistake of sharing that thought with Wifey in front of Macky. Now, as probably ANY teenager would do, Macky is armed with the guilt ammo with which to nail us with any time she wants something. I'm sure she'll start firing it at us soon...she has been wanting a new cell phone case. I can hear it already: "Remember all those times you called me LAZY and it was really my diabetes???" Ugh, LoL.

Anyway, she was miserable for a few more hours but her blood sugar dropped to 107. I would like to see it lower but I'll take that for now. While I'm gone, Wifey has been instructed to check Macky's fasting blood sugar every day for the next week and log it. If necessary, she'll visit a clinic and get an hbA1C bloog sugar test done. She's a smart cookie. She has already curbed her soda consumption and I know she will be much more responsible with her diet. She has accepted my request to go for walks in the morning with Jade, our female German Sheppard. (Sweet! That's why I got Jade in the first place! Personal protection dog.)


Next: Final packing during last 24 hours with my family.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Trailer Testing and Sis is Giggling

The Orange Jeep with my trailer
I hooked up the trailer today to go for a road test. Sis started her second term of summer school this morning so I used that as an opportunity to check on the trailer...and her. The trailer makes the already bouncy Jeep a little more bouncy.  I guess it harkens us back to some silly childhood ride at the fair because within a few miles we're giggling our butts off.

I have always enjoyed shuttling the kids to and from school. I think it is a terrific time to bond and chat. Sis and I stopped for a treat on the way to school and I caught her in the act of BEING HAPPY! She stayed the night with a BFF last night and according to her texts (I checked on  her around 10pm) they were crying and saying their goodbyes.

Love my happy Sister!
It must have been therapeutic in some girlie way because she is ALL smiles this morning. Or perhaps it is just because she is hanging out with Dad! Yeah, that's it! Right. I had to capture the picture of her in one of my favorite skirts that she wears. She spent a good half hour Sunday mending holes in it so she could wear it to church. Gotta love a gal that can mend her own clothes!

I swung by to pick up my temporary trailer plate from Mr Trailer Fixer this morning. Mr. Trailer Fixer's Boss pointed out that the nose of my trailer was sitting WAY to high thanks to my manly lift kit on the Jeep. (insert manly grunt HERE for having a lift kit)  He suggested a hitch with a two inch drop for two reasons:

1) it will make the trailer drive straighter down the highway and cause less wobble


2) a smoother drive means better (more even) wear on the new tires.

As the blessings continue to fall, Mr. Trailer Fixer's Boss just HAPPENED to have the exact hitch I needed and he swapped mine with his for $15. I wish I had met these fellas years ago. They are terrific fabricators. I was eye-balling a custom made overhead Jeep rack laying on a nearby table. Sweet!

He reassured me that my six cylinder would be up to the task of towing a trailer. He recommended timing my departure so that I would be driving up and down the most mountainous terrain in the early morning hours. Straining up and down mountains in the 110 degree heat out here might spell trouble. Duly noted!

I swept the trailer out and have it nice and clean. Time to start loading it up. Mr Trailer Fixer's Boss recommended that I should have 65% of my load IN FRONT of the axle. I'm going to take mostly bulky items so when it is time to rent the U-haul truck, I have more room for boxes and don't waste precious space on eight bicycles, table saw, etc.

Gotta run. Time to go pick Sis up from summer school and then start packing up my stuff. I'm learning so much about planning for a homestead and how to get there that I plan on writing up what I've learned and sharing it on a Guest Post on SurvivalBlog in the next week or so. Let me know if you read it. I think I'll title it "How to Decide on a Homestead Location AND Get There!"


Next: Macky passes out in the hallway.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Some Darn Good Reasons

First and foremost:

Happy Father's Day!

I'll be spending my whole day with Wifey and my girls. Here are some previous posts I've done on past Father's Days: famous quotes, top ten gift list for Dad, and gifts from my girlies. 

You can kill some time playing with this year's interactive Google banner logo or see banners from Father's Days past here.

I spent a good portion of my day yesterday preparing for my upcoming solo journey to Oklahoma. Turns out, the trailer I intend to tow behind The Orange Jeep needed some serious repair. Luckily, the fellas I took her to (on a 110 degree Saturday) eagerly fixed her up in no time and offered me a great price to boot!

I originally took her in for repair on the turn signal lights. For some reason, no matter what turn signal location I chose, all the lights would blink as if in hazard mode. A quick wire test and a ground wire drilled to the trailer frame and she was working properly. Mr Trailer Fixer even replaced bad bulbs, covers and rewired for a mere $60. Not bad!

Then, as several fellas stood back in awe of the work, one asked how far I was driving it. When I told them 1,000 miles they all looked at each other and said "better check the bearings." In a flash, they had it up on a jack and the wheels pulled off. "Yup, your bearings are bad. How long was this trailer sitting?" I replied: "Several years, according to the neighbor I bought it from."

"Okay, let's get to work" they replied. Each side was pulled and bearings were repacked in fresh grease. I shared my story of where I was headed and why. Once they heard me say "six daughters" they roared with laughter. "Clothes, shoes and tampons will break a man" they told me as they wished me luck in my parenthood. Towards the end of their work, they added reflector tape to the back of the trailer for extra visibility and offered to loan me a trailer dealer plate should I not be able to get a temporary for some reason (I hadn't plated it yet). What a blessing and great bunch of guys.

I slipped off to the ATM to fetch some cash while they finished up and returned with cash and a cold 30 pack of Budweiser. Seeing the ice cold beverage on a hot summer day made them cheer with a roar. Seizing the moment, I asked for one more quick fix and showed them a sagging door panel that I had broken while trying to fix a half dropped window. Monster decided to roll a (electric) window down a few weeks ago that hadn't worked in years and it got stuck half way down. As I took the door panel off with intentions to wire up the window, I broke several door clips that hold the door panel on. My local GMC dealership informed me that 2001 Suburban door clips are no longer made. I was at the mercy of finding some in a junk yard. Mr. Trailer Fixer quickly drilled a few holes and tightened it right up for me.

Discount Tire free boxes
On the way out the gate, the fellas pointed out that I should get some new tires for the trip. Years of sitting in the Arizona sun had led to some bad dry rot and my tires weren't safe for my long journey ahead. "Thanks again fellas!" as I waived goodbye.

Next stop: Discount Tire for some new tires. With literally minutes to spare, I darted in the door just in time to be the last one in line for tires.  A few hundred dollars later and I had me a practically brand new trailer (lights, wires, wheel bearings, tires). I also scored nearly a dozen large, heavy duty empty boxes for moving. Most of them had handles too. Score! Who knew that wheel rims came in such nice boxes?


Update: upon review, I realized I forgot to mention why I titled this post "Some Darn Good Reasons." LoL! Anyway, from time to time I plan on posting reasons why our family is moving to the country. Today I found a perfect example to post when I read Patrice Lewis' "Why I'm becoming paranoid." Go check it out!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Returning to the Flagstaff Story

Driving to Flagstaff in The Orange Jeep
So as I mentioned, there was a curveball thrown at me late the other night. Not wanting to miss a possible home run that He might be throwing me, I took a mighty swing. IF the job panned out, it would be a promotion into management and a raise in salary. It would also be in a town where we knew NOBODY and had NO family. Needless to say, I got the tilted-head skunk eye from the family as if to say "We just got excited about Oklahoma...why are you doing an interview in Flagstaff?!?" Because I leave no stone unturned, that's why.

The interview went very well...for almost two hours. The Director and I talked about the hospital, town, staff and everything related to the job. I couldn't get a feel for his take on me personally and I soon found out why.

First, he disclosed that he was raised by two deaf parents. Why does that matter? Well, that tells me that I should have been paying MUCH more attention to my mannerisms and facial expressions and less on what I was saying. He grew up interpreting conversations via facial countenances and body signs. Was I saying one thing and physically expressing another? I was pretty tired from the three hour drive up there and felt rather stiff exiting the Jeep and walking straight into the interview.

However, since I was completely honest in everything I said, I reassured myself that my body language should have (for the most part) agreed with my words. I was very impressed with the command he had on his management style and knew I could learn a lot from this man. I've seen bad management and he was one of the BEST I've seen. Heavy into psychology and had frequent team building sessions with his staff. To sum it up, I was impressed.

Second, and most surprisingly (more like jaw dropping), in the last five minutes of our time together he dropped a bombshell. "Usually I have candidates meet with a few Team Leaders and some other key staff after I interview them. They weren't all available today to meet with you so I'll give you a call in a FEW WEEKS and set up another interview. This way everyone will get to meet you and ask any questions they might have."...

Stopped to enjoy some sights...nice ride!

He did not know I'm leaving in four days for Oklahoma,  I didn't tell him. I was in shock. I thanked him for the interview and said "We'll talk again in a few weeks."  As I begin the three hour drive back to the Valley, I simply accepted the fact that Flagstaff was simply not a part of The Plan. This was proof.

So, as I'm driving the windy mountain roads, listening to my old iPod (and feeling grateful that my kids didn't want it because it's so "first generation Dad, gaw") I said to myself "It just couldn't be any more clear that I'm supposed to move to Oklahoma. First my future boss informs me by email that he's suddenly losing three Techs this month so he's glad I'm on my way and now this Flagstaff gaff." I chuckled to myself that God was telling my future boss how badly he needed me in Oklahoma.

Perfect timing for an OK plate.
Suddenly, I'm cutoff by a white Chrysler as it slides DIRECTLY in front of me. Apparently, I said "It can't be any more obvious" a little too loud because I looked down at the license plate on the Chrysler and what did I see?

An Oklahoma license plate.

I got chills on my arms and looked up to say "Are you kidding me?" Being from Oklahoma, I always notice OK license plates out here in Arizona. Most of our visitors are from back east: Michigan, Jersey, etc. A fair amount of Canadians too. Not many from Oklahoma and I CERTAINLY hadn't seen any on the way to or from Flagstaff...except for right at that exact moment.

"Okay," I said. "I get it already. Geesh!"


Next: More blessings arise while getting my enclosed trailer inspected.