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Couch potato June 30, 2006

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Here’s a picture of the multi-level table we made from an old futon. It’s dual use. During the summer and fall, we’ll use it to store our baking potatoes. In late winter and early spring, we’ll attach some lights and use it to get an early start on our tomatoes, melons, etc. I just need to attach some castor wheels on the bottom so we’ll be able to easily roll it outside on warm spring days.

Benjamin and Rachel were disappointed when I told them that this was not a new set of bunk beds for them.

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It’s a dog’s life June 29, 2006

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Last week, our dogs evidentially went out on an adventure during the night. I say evidentially because the night before, they smelled like ordinary country dogs; which is not saying much mind you, but at least they were within a certain tolerable bounds and didn’t drastically upset the olfactory senses.

But when I awoke early the next morning to go to my weekly men’s Bible Study breakfast, Daisy met me at the door. She reeked of skunk! A terribly offensive odor at any hour of the day, but particularly so at 5:00am, after you’ve had a nice shower and you’ve already set your mind to Godly thoughts.

Anyway, we decided that the best way for her to learn to not chase the black and white striped cats would be for her to suffer the consequences of her actions for a few days. She stank. And she didn’t seem to like it either! We thought it’d be a good teachable moment for them.

But alas, it seems that one dog cannot learn from another’s mistake. A few days later, Lucy was apparently the faster of the two dogs on their adventure-du-jour and she came home smelling of skunk. Again, following the ol’ reap-what-you-sow philosophy we decided not to bath her either and let her suffer the consequences of her actions.

You’d think that’d be the end of the story, but not for our two dogs. No. A few days later, they decided to settle the score with the treaspassing nocturne and we awoke to find this in the driveway. What our dogs lack in brains and sense, they apparently make up for with speed and persistence.
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Tooth #2 June 28, 2006

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Look who lost his second tooth!!

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Potatoes and peppers and beans, oh my! June 27, 2006

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You work all spring to plant, to weed, to weed some more, and to protect your crops from entomological infestation – and for what? The hope of a bountiful harvest.

Well, this past weekend, our hard work began paying off. We all spent most of the weekend hard at work in the garden, picking beans and digging potatoes.

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Laura has been canning the fruits – rather the vegetables – of our labor. She’s put away 22 quarts of beans so far and we’ve barely scratched the surface (no pun intended) on canning the potatoes.

Benjamin, Rachel, and I spent some our time building a multi-level table on which we can spread out and keep the potatoes we’re not going to can. We’re looking forward to having fresh baking potatoes long into the fall and winter.

Next we’ll turn our attention to the peppers. We have around 30 or so Jalapeño plants in the ground and they’re producing more peppers than we (well really it’s just me) can eat. Last year the Jalapeño peppers we planted had a great taste, not too hot. This year, the plants are producing peppers that should come with a HazMat warning! They are hot! We’re going to pickle them using a recipe we got from the Cloars in Dyersburg. Good stuff!

And of course, the squash, zucchini, and cucumbers are coming in faster than we can digest them. There’s a saying around this part of the country. “You better lock your car doors, otherwise you’ll come back and find a bag of zucchini sitting in the front seat.”

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Now that’s a large mouth! June 26, 2006

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Fishing in our ponds is a great way to get little ones “hooked on fishing”. Most every time we decide to go fishing, we simply make the short trek downhill to the ponds, roll over a couple of logs to find our bait, cast out, and reel in a nice-sized bluegill. If you’re lucky, every once in a while a large mouth bass will bully his way past bluegills and give you a real treat on your rod and reel.

This past weekend we had some friends over to share in our little fishing adventure. Carol, Jason, and their little girl Hannah, came over to  enjoy catching some fish. But wouldn’t you know it, the typical fishing experience was not to be had this time. First, we couldn’t find any bait under the logs. It seems the ever-present worms that live under the logs have gone deeper due the hot, dry weather we’ve had recently. Strike one.

Not to be deterred, Jason went to the local store to get some night crawlers. Upon his return, we baited our lines, cast out, and waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing! Only once before has this ever happened! Our pond-o-plenty was not producing fish! Strike two.

Desperate times calls for desperate measures. So Jason tied on an artificial crank bait and started casting out. His second cast yielded a strike from a big largemouth bass that could not be persuaded to come to the bank for a short visit.  Jason kept trying and ended up catching bass after largemouth bass. This 3 and 1/2 to 4 pounder was one that he eventually did get to the bank on his little ultra light rod.

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Hannah soon joined in on the crank bait fun and caught this one.
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Benjamin now wants crank baits and spinner baits for his tackle box.

 Come fishing with us when you can.

Oh, Deer! Oh Dear! June 26, 2006

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Deer seem to be rather prolific around Blessed Acres Farm. We routinely see them in the pasture near dusk. And we recently spotted two young deer nibbling from one of the apples trees in our yard in the middle of the afternoon, not 100 feet from our house!

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Despite putting up an electric fence around the garden, yesterday we found some deer tracks among our beans and corn, too. The cup-half-full in me says we’re just farming deer, too. But I know that come hunting season, these deer will suddenly gain enough sense to disappear for a few months.

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Orange Beach 2006 June 24, 2006

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Here are a few pictures from our Orange Beach vacation this year. As you can see, we had a great time again this year!!! The weather was absolutely wonderful and it seems that the kids spent as much time in the water as they did out of it.

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Every year that we go to Orange Beach, we also make a trip over to Pensacola, to the Naval Air Museum. We did that again this year. The kids love sitting in the cockpits and pretending to fly the planes. Rachel got in one cockpit this year and yelled out “Let’s fire this baby up!”.

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Something old, something new, and something to do June 5, 2006

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When you have a small farm and an old farmhouse, there is always something to do around the place. Some of it is to improve the place, to get ready for something new. Some of it is to repair something that has broken. And of course, a lot of it is the normal activities that come along with the life we’ve chosen. For us, the past few weeks have been busy with all three of those categories.

As you know, we used to have a horse named Gus. He was a good animal and was very content in our care. He never really tried to get out of the pasture (except for the time he threw me and cracked one of my ribs, but that’s another story). It’s a good thing that he was content too. For you see, although about one-half of or land is fenced, it’s not in terribly good shape. It’s only three strands of barbed wire which is not enough to keep much of anything in, save a contented old horse. So Laura and I have been working to improve the fence. We’d like to get a few hogs in the near future so we’re enclosing a small portion in woven wire to keep the hogs in. That’s taken a fair amount of time, but we’re getting there. We’d also like to get cows and maybe some goats, too. But that’ll be a little later on. We’ll need to do more fencing.

The past few weeks have also had plenty of home repairs, too. The most noteworthy of which was the air conditioner. Our 9 year old unit went out; the compressor was bad. The price of a new compressor is about 50% of a new unit so we opted for the latter. We’re now the proud owners of a new 5 ton Rheem A/C and Heat unit. We didn’t do it ourselves; this time we had it installed by someone who knew what they were doing.

And there are the normal activities that come with owning a place in the country. Over the past couple of weeks, our riding lawn mower, tractor, and tiller have needed servicing.

We’re working hard in the garden and it’s paying off. It’s a bit larger than last year and is really starting to look good. We’re already getting peas, lettuce, and radishes from the garden. And the corn, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, etc, are really starting to look good.

We’re trying to find someone who will cut our hay for us, but that’s been surprisingly difficult.

And we’ve been cutting firewood in preparation for the new, old pot-belly stove we bought to use for heat in the family room this winter. It’s not installed yet, but it will be by the time it’s needed this fall.

I’m sure there is more to report, but those are the things that come to mind at the moment. Here are a couple of pictures of the kids riding their bicycles. The other day, I put training wheels on Benjamin’s old blue bike and he handed it down to Rachel. She jumped on and hasn’t stopped since. She’s very proud of herself for being able to go fast. Benjamin’s riding an obstacle course that he created with a new track and field toy set that he got from Aunt Brenda and Uncle Grady for his birthday.

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