Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Suck-a-thon and Hello Cousin!

Thursday July 11, 2013

Shock popped out
Today started out pretty good. I didn't have to be at work until 12:30 in the afternoon so I had all morning to play around at the farm (FINALLY!). I started with my normal routine: watching YouTube vids from my favorite subscriptions while eating scrambled eggs and oatmeal made on the old Munsey two burner stove.

I followed breakfast with the (now traditional) bug SUCK-A-THON. This is the joyous part of my country-living morning where I turn on the old shop vac and suck up all the critters that made it in the house since my last cleaning. I don't know how these flipping beetles get in but they are all over the house. The good news is that they are all dead...or at least on their backs about to die. The bad news is that there are usually a dozen or more and I haven't figured out how they're getting in the house. Ten minutes later and the inside of the house is a critter-free zone.

A quick shower and I'm headed out the door to spray down the outside of the house. Uncle J left me a bottle that hooks onto the garden hose and he claims it works wonders. The bottle touts that it kills one hundred types of bugs. Guess we'll see. Out to the barn and back to fetch the garden hose, I am now armed with a watery dose of bug killer.

The backside of the farm house is where the show really happens. Not only does it start off with half a dozen grasshoppers, a handful of black beetles and a good number of spiders all clinging to the back REALLY picks up when I start hosing the ground where the house foundation meets the earth. Then it's like a critter dash as they all start racing up the back wall of the house.

Spider # 1,284
At one point, I count 10 spiders on the back wall at the same time. I'm telling myself it is going to take a while to combat these things to keep them from getting IN the house. The last thing I want is for one of my little girls to get bit by a brown recluse or something and be in extreme pain. Since this house (and it's critters) have been out here for so long, it won't be something I can solve overnight. Turns out, folks I'll meet later in the day tell me they spray their garden and house every other day. EVERY OTHER DAY?!? I'm not hip on spraying chemicals on the garden but the point I'm making here is that the bug issue is THAT bad that you have to fight them constantly out here.

Anyway, I'll post the video I made as I completed this bug suck-a-thon on my YouTube Channel.  If you know of any better way to fight these all means, let me know. I'll be adding guinea and chickens at some point so that should help.

As I'm about to hop in the Orange Jeep to head to Walmart for a much anticipated grocery run, I notice something that looks like a shock absorber hanging down from the bottom of my Jeep.  I walk around to the drive's side and there it stabilizer shock had lost a locking nut and bolt that attached it to the frame. We are T minus two hours and counting before I have to be at work. " only HALF day off..."

I changed into my lay-on-the-ground shirt and mess with the shock for a bit. It has expanded to the point where I can't snug it back up into it's proper location. I had also not unpacked most of my tools yet either. I would need to find an appropriate bolt to reattach the shock and find the right size socket, socket wrench, ball ping hammer, etc.  After googling to see where the closest auto parts store is, I was delighted that it was only eight miles away. At the parts store in Arizona that I frequented, they let you borrow tools if you need them. This was certainly the case today. I hoped I would be able to limp the Jeep to the store nice and slow.

Mr Parts Store Owner called around and found that I needed a special bolt...tapered on both ends. He didn't have it, of course, but recommended I go visit Mr Alignment Shop two blocks down the street. I think the whole town is only about six blocks...

Off I go, limping the 'ol Jeep down Main Street, nice and easy. I pull in to the alignment shop and hop out to find a young kid handing tools to an older gentlemen half buried under a car.  I popped inside the front of the store to find three town folks relaxing and chatting about local news. I began my good 'ol boy story: Mr Parts Store Owner sent me down here 'cause he doesn't have the right part. Said ya'll might be able to fix me up?" Mrs Alignment Shop announces that we need to find Mr Alignment Shop to answer that question.
Local attire: boots n shorts

Now we're back out front where I started. The following Ma and Pa banter begins.

"This boy's here for a shock bolt. Says Mr Parts Store sent him"
"Alright. Just a minute"

He inches out from under the car and waddles over to me. His overalls are as dirty as you would expect a working man's clothes to be and he inquires about my problem. Now, I'm bearing in mind that my two hours of leisure time is slowing slipping away from me. Back in the big city, it would take HOURS to get a car problem fixed. Usually, when I would need to buy new tires or get a brake job, I would plan AT LEAST half my day around the ordeal. I had established a route of mechanics and tire shops that were near shopping centers that I could window shop at or were across the street from an  iHop Pancake House where I could sit for hours eating some grub and sipping ice cold fountain Dr. Peppers (with free refills, of course).

But I'm in the country now. Would you believe that Mr Alignment Shop not only had the hard to find bolt (because he saves them every time he changes out an old one) but he shimmied up under my Jeep and had her fixed within fifteen minutes! His 45 years of alignment experience, which he informed me of, also led his keen eye to notice that the steering shock on the other side was about to become unbolted too. In fact, he pulled the "locking nut" off with his bare hands and showed it to me. "Whoever put these on didn't know what they were a doin', " he says.

As he tightened the opposite side, I made small talk and watched him work. It is amazing to me how graceful a man can do his work when he knows his trade well. I mentioned who my cousins were in town that were about his age (Cousin big D and Cousin little D, brothers). Sure enough, he knew them. It is one of THOSE kind of small towns. Everybody knows everybody else. That's when he said something that made me smile.

Small town street traffic
"I hate to tell you this" he says, as he's ratcheting up the last nut "...but...we're related." "How's that?" I ask.  "My momma was second cousin to your cousins' daddy," he tells me. I can't explain the feeling that gave me. I had lived 21 years in Arizona and not met a new family member (albeit a distant one but family nonetheless). Here I am in week three of living back home and I've already met a new cousin. I made sure to shake his hand when he was done and asked how much I owed him. He whacked me on the back and said "Bah, that's an old bolt. Stop by and chat some time and I'll tell you all you want to know about your 'ol cousins." With a wink, he waddled back into the garage and climbed up under the same car.

Un-be-lievable. Was that a blessing? Am I just over-analyzing this thing? Or is that just how small towns work? Either way, as I pulled away and waved to Mrs Alignment Shop, I had one big stupid grin on my face.

I made it to Walmart, ran back to the farm to change into my work scrubs and got to work on time. There was a time in my life where it seemed like every time I had a small mechanical problem, a hickup in our finances, or any other of a dozen of life's little set backs and they always turned into some big HUGE fiasco. Lately...not so much.

Life is good.



New Farm Rules

18) when doing your cost analysis of how much cheaper it will be to live in the country...don't forget to add in the GALLONS of bug spray you'll be using each week.


Back Home Report

Today on July 11 (7-11), the corner stores named 7-eleven in Arizona gave away FREE Slurpees. Wifey and the girls enjoyed them tremendously.

My boss confirmed the days I needed off to go back to Arizona and pick everyone up. He is VERY understanding of the situation. Most bosses would choke if you dared ask them for time off during your first month of employment. Not  at my hospital. I even have coworkers offering to donate PTO to me so that I'll get paid for the days I am gone. Amazing!


  1. Welcome to Not-In-The-City living. There will be quirks that drive you nuts but for the most part it beats the city hands down.

    This coming from someone who was born and raised in the city of Chicago. Won't go back. Ever. 10k population is even too big for me but I tolerate it... :-)

  2. So far looks like the move home was the right one.

  3. Don't you just love small towns? I sure do. Live in the country and shop in small towns. That is a great plan.

  4. This is a perfect explanation of country vs city. I had to go into the city just yesterday, city drivers are rude! Out in the pucker brush folks are nice and have manners!

  5. It's like that here, too. Of course, most people in my county are named Dyer, Collins, Gooch, Petitt or Nelson. If you aren't, you are probably married to one. I once sat on a jury and they had to find 12 people who weren't related in the third degree to the defendant. Took two days.

  6. One way to combat spiders in the house: spider traps. They are basically tubes with glue on the inside that you place near the baseboard. You can get instructions for homemade traps online at ehow, or you can buy them at hardware stores or online. Also, like your friendly snakes, find out which spiders prey on the "bad" spiders and leave them to do their job. Hopefully that will cut down on the amount of spraying you'll have to do.

  7. Just to advance your mechanical knowledge a bit. The picture you posted of the "shock" that came loose, is actually your lower control arm. The shock runs vertical next to the coil spring. Very good that you got it fixed when you did. There is a lot of potential for loss of control of your rig with that kind of failure. Glad everything turned out ok.

    It is not uncommon to need to re-torque everything from time to time on lifted rigs. Something you should get in the habit of inspecting every few months.

  8. Understanding bosses are rare these days. Its usually all about them. They forget good employees are the backbone of any company.

  9. don't let any bugs get ya. hope your having fun and safe. the girls are lucky they got slurpees. ;)

  10. If you can find a do it yourself bug killer store, pick up a bottle of demand. Mix as directed, and you will only need to spray 2-3 times a year after you get those initial layers down. Good luck.

  11. You might consider getting chickens ASAP and let them free range. Our bug problem is greatly reduced with chickens. Just make sure your garden is fenced in. They will trash it fast.

    1. I have no protection for the chickens yet.

  12. I do have to say welcome to the small town country life. Yes, having people work their trades like that is normal. The funny thing is that I thought that was the way the world worked until I made the mistake of leaving for the big city when I was younger. I quickly learned that it IS two completely different worlds out there. I am proud to be from a more rural area.

  13. Hello -- just found your website & am enjoying reading about your story. There's both good & bad about small towns -- the good is you will always find someone to help you when you need it; the bad is everyone (and I mean everyone) will know your business. With your pretty daughters moving to town, that's big news! Having cousins in that town means you are not outsiders, just relatives. You are already way ahead of the game. I have to admit, I am afraid of bugs & snakes, so I hope the mobile home you rent or buy is fully enclosed underneath and set on a base so snakes can't get under there. At least that's what I would do if I were in your shoes.


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