Sunday, November 23, 2008

If I could have potty trained him

I have been living the life . Spending a lot of time up at the "hill Farm" hunting the elusive white tail buck! So far I have filled three of my tags, all processed and stored away in the freezer or made into jerky.

Over the summer a lot of work has gone into the cabin to make it weather tight and easy to heat. Also to keep out the riff raff , such as mice! All except for one. This guy managed to get in and live the good life. He ran the purloins around the walls and was spotted several times. As I watched he climbed on top of the door and went outside through the smallest of holes. Aha! So as a temporary fix I stuffed the hole with cardboard with a more permanent fix to come when I got time.

Went to bed confidant that my "Mouse Problem" was behind me. Next morning I got up and found my cardboard on the floor and as I cooked breakfast he showed his little head from behind the stove.

Game on! Get out the traps, put down the poison packs gonna get him! Well he was a real sly mouse, would not eat the poison and cleaned the traps off without setting them off. This has gone on since the start of bow season! I was using peanut butter.

One night just after I had gone to bed I hear SNAP! Excitedly I get up only to find a bit of tail in my trap. Now he has a name, we called him stubby. Stubby managed to elude capture for almost a month.

The trouble with mice is that they leave a turd trail wherever they go. On the table, the stove, and on the rails around the building. If he would have used a litter box maybe he could have stayed.

We are not slobs, the place is clean. All extra bedding, clothes and such are kept in covered plastic storage units. My firewood is kept in a rack and off the floor. We sweep and vacuum daily, leave no dirty dishes, use a secure bread box, and the cupboards never were breached!

Friday night we got him! After baiting the traps with venison jerky and using pliers to secure the tab around it he finally met his maker. It was strangely quiet around the cabin last night, no shouts of "there he is!" No turd trails, no pitter patter of little mouse feet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Last Wednesday my youngest son and myself went to the farmers auction. He is 32 and remembers when his grandpa used to take him, his brother, and a pack of cousins and friends in his big old van. One time they all came back home with 5 sheep, two goats, six kids, and grandpa! None of the animals were potty trained. The kids had a ball and still bring it up twenty years later.

It is the same auction house, it has been there for 75 years! Starts at 9:00am, on the "hill" . People bring their trash and treasures and unload in rows outside. We picked a good day to go, the weather was iffy and we were bidder #82. We found some real bargains. I bought professional wallpaper table for $3. It is complete with the cutter, brass 8' straight edge, square and hold downs. Nice unit folds into its self neatly. Also bought 4 house jacks for $4 apiece, that is like giving them away! Also bought a painters pick for $3, it is a 13 footer and hardly used, thing costs 200 bucks new! Bid on an old grape squeezer, but someone wanted it more then I did. Jon bought 10 balls for $8, including 2 footballs, soccer balls basketballs, all new.

Along with the auction there is a flea market running. Lots of veggie stands. We bought cabbage for $1 a head, some weighed over 10 pounds! Brown eggs, cauliflower,Brussels sprouts, egg plant, and cheese curds. We did not stick around for the animals.

It was a great day overall and I got to enjoy my son's company.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Retirement update!

It has been a little over 6 months since I retired. Funny but I don't feel retired. Since that time I have decided that the first year will be mine to do some of the things that never seemed to get done while I was working. When I was employed I also ran my small business, farmed, and never seemed to have an extra moment to myself.

Now I am busier then ever and liking it. Just busy in different ways. I have this vision for my hill farm and I am striving toward making it happen. It is an evolutionary plan that gets modified daily as I learn more about my goals and my desire to be off the grid, of the map, and slowly lapse into a lifestyle of non consumer. In the last 6 months I have not made any major purchases and have worked hard at a simplified existence. It is working. I am happier and do not feel as much pressure.

Does anyone know where this country is going? Can we land on our feet as a nation or are we in for a long journey into the darkness? Greed is what I see as the cause and I think it has to get worse before it gets better. The Dow is going to continue to drop and in some ways I think that is a good thing. People will have to learn to live with less, focus on family, and get back to the things we do just to survive.

Since retirement my income has dropped approximately $1500 a month. Some of that drop is due to the fact that I am not running my business. My expenditures have dropped even more then my income. I have money left at the end of the month and I have not gone into any of my savings.

Let me update my activities:
The flat farm is clean! When I got the place it was covered with all sorts of stuff, from straight garbage to scrap cars. I have made 75 runs to the scrap yard. My dump truck pulling my equipment trailer, loaded each time, with as much as I could cram on without leaving a trail. The money was good, my timing was right, as scrap was at its highest level in years. This money I have not spent except for expenses, fuel etc.

The lumber for the hill farm housing project is cut and sticker stacked in in my newly completed barn at the flat farm. I will leave most of it to cure until spring. Drainage plan on the hill is coming along. I followed most of the old ditches, some were put in a century ago and silted in causing swampy spot. This has taken a lot more work then I thought it would, but the end result will be worth it!

Here at home I have finished trimming several windows that I replaced. The drywall is in, the taping and seaming needs done. Also need to do the fine finish work. i.e.set, nails, fill the holes, fine sand, and put the finish on. The plumbing rough is almost complete for the new master bath that I have planned. All the fixtures are recycle including a wonderful old Whores tub that my nephew has refinished. The kid does it for a living. The bathroom is going to be a black and white checkered pattern and the tub will free stand in the corner. Room to walk around it. All the plumbing that show will be brass, including a sunflower shower head that is about 12 inches across, and the rod to hold the curtain. We have a hard time even talking about selling this house. It is a love affair, we raised our boys here, lived life here, and have so many memories.

My wife is close to her family and her parents are getting old. Mom is 86, dad is 87. We are 20 minutes away living here and would be 2 hours away on the hill. So for now we live here. The hill will have a guest cottage that has an eye towards easy access. This is a necessary thing as we have a very large extended family on both sides and many of them have come to love the hill. The one thing I do not want to deal with is house guests. They are like fish, after three days you should throw them out!

I have been looking for a small boat, a very small boat. I have found a few, but everyone wants more then I will spend. The boat is for my beaver pond, I want to fish and not donate fishing tackle to the bushes and roots in the pond. So I am building one. It will be 12 feet long, with two seats, oar locks, and no will be muscle powered.

It is deer season and all bets on me doing any work until it is over are off! I have seen 16 deer so far but no shots. I am bow hunting and will not take a shot unless I am sure of a kill. My mouth is watering just thinking about fresh venison. Tonight I leave for the hill and I have to get my grocery list together.

Do you see her?

Friday, October 03, 2008

It's been a while!

What a shitty blogger I have become! Since I retired my farms and living has sure taken up my time. The hill farm is coming along I have 40 acres ready to plant. It involved removing the brush that has taken over in the last several years and getting the golden rod under control. Some drainage problems that I have rectified with my back-hoe. Plus I have been sawing lumber and a break neck pace! I want to have it all sawed at my flat farm so I can move the saw to the hill.40 or so logs to go! Also made progress on my solar out house. I have the concrete box done. But for now we use the old one. I still do not have indoor plumbing so we live very Amish when we are on the hill.
This is not the time to be selling houses unless you have a piece of property that is unique. That I have and I am entertaining an offer for my home stead. It seems the downturn is not hurting the market around here too much yet, as property is undervalued in this area. Western New York is a bargain for the upscale shopper.
I am here to tell you retirement is highly underrated. I am enjoying myself. Now it is the cusp of winter and I am thinking deer hunting. I had a dream about venison steaks! Now that is sad. If the bed was wet it was from drool.
We are picking apples today. My youngest want to make a big batch of cider to try out his invention,an apple smasher.Going to fill my dump truck.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Festival!

What a busy little camper I have been. Yesterday we held out 7th Music festival at my flat farm. Jerry Garcia was smiling down from the heavens and sent perfect weather!

The last three weeks were spent getting the place ready for the fun. The new pole barn got all of its skin finished up and windows installed. The stage was repaired and the video screen was hung. With a small army of helpers, pushing and riding mowers, swinging weed whackers, and myself on the John Deere pulling the brush hog the grounds looked beautiful. The place is a natural for music. Pole barn is the back drop and the land gently drops away towards the property. When a band is playing you can not hear it at the street.

My youngest son Jon started this festival in 2000 and called it "Pig Jam." Back then we roasted a pig as part of the party. We have evolved and no longer do that, but serve a more sophisticated menu. This year included Corn, hot dogs, hamburgers, clams, corn bread, baked beans, salt potatoes, stuffed hot peppers, sausage, squash steaks, many desserts, snack trays including cheeses, crackers, grapes, mango slices, apples, and bean dip, plus desserts, and stuff I have forgotten. Dick and Manny did a chicken bar-b-b-q.All beverages are B.Y.O.B to reduce liability even though this has not been a problem as of yet. Also put on breakfast Saturday and Sunday morning, no one went hungry!

We encourage those attending to car pool, allow no street parking at all. and invite everyone to spend the week-end at the farm. This year we had motor homes, pop-ups, and tent villages sprawled in all corners of the 27 acres we use. Only rules are no fires and no dogs! Campers started setting up their homes away from home on Wednesday and some are still there as I type. Some set-ups looked quite comfy, some even had solar walkway lights, we do allow torch lanterns and grilles. Common sense being the guiding light. I visited every site several times and met some very nice people!

So you do not think I am some dirty filthy Hippie let me assure you this event is family friendly. We had folks from 9 months to 84 years old. The kids are the best thing and all had a great time. I do not judge anyones lifestyle nor care how they handle stress, but I do demand respect for all my guests so all those doing their thing did it discretely.

Friday was the kick off party and we served kettle cooked walleye and got the stage dressed up for the big show on Saturday. Music was everywhere from drum circles , to the full blown production on Saturday. 11 bands played until 6:30 am Sunday morning. No mishaps, fights, or complaints from neighbors. This is truly about the music!

The only thing I feel bad about is the cost. We have not totaled everything this year, but close to even is good. The first two we did not charge to get in and it got too costly. We decided not to have anymore. Our guests changed our minds and even set up presale tickets. So since year three we have charged $25.00 prepaid and $30.00 the day of the show. We also do a very long V.I.P list for those that dig in and help. Those that join the clean-up crew on Sunday get a free ride the following year!

Friday, August 08, 2008

More photos to go with the post below

Here are some more shots of some of my building.

Going Straight

I hardly believe it has been over a month since I have posted.

What a glorious summer it has been so far! Very, very, busy working on the building I started on my flat farm over 3 years ago. The original intent for the building was for storage. Tractors and fresh lumber downstairs, hay upstairs. When I first started it went great guns for most of the first summer, but life can sure be distracting. When designed I planned on siding it with hemlock board and bats.

Met this guy who needed stumps ground around his home. He is a fellow barterer and had several piles of steel siding that he brought home. His plan was to build a shed with it, wife nixed it. So we made the deal. His stumps are gone, yard graded, grass replanted, his wife happy as a clam. I loaded and took over to the flat farm over 20,000 square feet of 39 inch steel sheeting in lengths of 24, 16, 12, and 10 feet. I also got several hundreds of trim pieces, drip cap, J channel, F channel, corner bead, building corners, etc.......oh and about 50 pounds of self drilling , self sealing, screws!

After summer number 1 I had the poles in the ground, all the pearling on, the red metal roof with 8 translucent light panels installed. It looked like a 39 foot tall picnic shelter. I had a great reason for building this thing 39 feet tall, that was the tallest measurement I could get from the massive telephone poles I used to frame with.

The poles are buried over 6 feet and sit in pockets dug into the slate bedrock. Makes for a stable build. The dasher boards are done in 2x10 larch lumber, all full length cut from trees I paid to bring home! In fact every board on this monster is from trees I was paid to bring home! The pearling is full length black pine or mast pine all nailed with ringed barn spikes.

My children are musical! WTF does that have to do with anything? They took over my building and it became an open air jam shack. By summer #2 I had three sides sided and it started to look like a very tall silver barn with a red roof. Under the eaves I left a 2 foot opening where I planned on putting more light panels. It stayed like that for quite some time.

As luck would have it that plan changed too. Mark called. He says, " You got any use for thermo paned, argon gas filled windows, that are photo gray on the inside, and silver reflective on the outside?" I says, "Hell yes!" Mother have I got windows, 4 different sizes, the largest 5x5 feet, and the ones closet to my 2 foot opening 26"x59." Somewhere around 200 total windows and I have already used 25 or so. After ripping my opening another couple of inches I framed the opening in continuous glass, over 25 feet! It looks sharp as hell and now the building looks like a studio instead of a barn. Also I hung the fourth side.

Did I mention it is raining? That in why I am not up on my scaffold doing the trim on my overhangs that I did on the break yesterday. The soffets, facia, and gable overhang metal and no more wood showing. I am getting close.

Doors, I have four. Drive through north to south or east to west. North and south openings are 13 feet tall, east and west are 10 feet. Many years ago I picked up some massive wrought iron hinges, 6 pairs of them. To get them out of the way I used the block and tackle to lift them up into my workshop loft here at the homestead, they have been there ever since. Not anymore they are going to swing stylized wooden doors on the east and west side. The tall doors on the north and south are going to slide on antique hardware I got from a tear down, again quite some years ago. Those will match the barn and each end will have a man door built in.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Old Dog, New trick

Peal a banana from the bottom and you do not get the stringy things on it. I did not know that. Strange how easily I am amused anymore.

How do they know?
Lately it seems like hundreds of folks are sending me information on how to enlarge my penis.

Sometimes they guess wrong!
Along with a bigger dick I can also get out of debt a hundred different ways. Guess what I am not in debt.

Cheap gas, better mileage!!!
If only it was true. But it must be they send me enough info on it.

Gift Cards!
I can go shopping at any number of big box stores with the thousands of dollars in free gift cards I get .

Do I look like I need a date?
I did not know there were so many women and some men just waiting for me to call!

Real Estate cheap!
I can buy homes for under $1,000 and resell them for fuck I don't know millions I guess.

Mud built up in my intestines.
Sounds bad but now I can clean it out and be 20 pounds lighter.

I can now get rid of it. Did not know I had it but for fucks sakes I can cure it now.

A freaking fortune to be made.
If I chose not to get rich with cheap property I can elect several other ways of doing without leaving home I might add.

Unwanted hair, want hair
This can go either way, I can point you in the right direction.

Better memory
I don't recall right now if I am forgetting shit or not.

Run it
solar, water, french fry grease, wind, animal ass gas, you name it, Oil Smoil, who needs it!

Let's recap:
I can now zip up my pants over my HUGE penis, hop in my French fry smelling car, getting great mileage, pick up my date, take them to my new house, after we shop at ,Lowes, Home Depot, Kohls,, J.C. Penneys, or somewhere else even if I overspend the gift cards not to worry . I just use my get out of debt free card.
You better believe I am hot too, new hair on my head, hair gone from my back, toenails look so fucking good I am wearing sandals, my abs are ripped, I am making money hand over fist. When the date is over I remember your name, where we went, and what we did.

The best part my banana has no strings attached!!

I Came, I Saw, I Sawed Some More

It must be the saw dust they smell. The past ten days have been spent running my saw mill, and I will run it about ten more to get caught up. This is an all out attack on the piles of logs that I have at the flat farm. I want to move the saw to the hill farm.

It all started when a friend referred someone to me that needed a 32 foot long 8x8 beam. After talking to the guy about what he needed I ended up consulting on his renovation project and cut him four large beams for his project and delivered same to the work site. So I ended up making some cash, he got what he needed for a good price, and we both made a contact that will serve us well. There are several mill operators around my "Hill Farm," but none can cut a 35 footer so I corner the market.

My log piles are quite a mixed bag, hard wood, pine, long and short logs, some big fat mojos, and some not so fat but of veneer quality. I cut the beams from white ash and it takes one hell of a tree to get an 8x8 that is 32 feet long, and I needed four beams the shortest 19 feet. This process produced approximately 1500 board feet of very, very, nice one inch thick white ash boards besides the four beams!

Sawing is not the most work when you run a mill. Sticker stacking the raw lumber to dry is! I set the saw up, make a pass with the blade, remove the outside pieces to get one squared up side, turn the log 90 degrees, reclamp it to the table and square the second side to the first. After that it gets easier because the log when turned now lands on a flat side for the last two sides. I use a tractor with forks to load, turn, and position the logs on the saw. After the log is squared up I start to get flat boards that need resawed to get straight edges so those go off to the side to be put back on the table after the log come off. There is a saw made for this purpose but I don't own one, YET!

As the passes are made through the log it gets shaped into a rectangle and boards that do not need resawed get pulled off for stacking. To stack them you need to make stickers to place between the boards so the air can flow. Placing the stickers even is the most important step to get straight boards, they should all line up. So let me do some math here. If you want to stack 20 boards 20 feet long you need to place the stickers every two feet so you need 200 stickers! I get stickers when I put the boards with the rounded edges back on the table. I cut mine two inches longer then the width of the boards I am stacking.

That is a bit about what it takes to get lumber from trees! How I get trees to become logs to saw into boards is another story. Everything I have been cutting the last ten days were less then free. Less then free? How can that be? Two ways, number one I get paid to remove trees, stumps, and do lot preps, I bring them home. Number two, we have several out of town tree services that are doing FEMA work around here after one horrific storm here in October 2006. I take the logs, chips, and chunks, and charge them by the size of the load. So like I said, "Less Then Free!"

Back to the boarding story: So after the boards come off the saw all squared up they have to be stacked. By this time they have been man handles twice already, by me if I am working alone. The bitches are heavy as they have not dried yet. I will sticker the shorter boards (14 feet or less) right on the forks as they come off the saw, as these fit my doorway into my drying barn. The longer ones Have to be handled again, stickered where I am stacking them. By fall if the hot weather holds most of the ash lumber will be ready for the planer.

Today I start sawing a stack of large black pine logs. Most of this will be cut into 2 inch material for framing lumber. This can be used right away and left to dry in whatever you build with it. If it is to stand around it needs to be stickered. I can leave them outside the rain won't hurt them and I will band them up to make them easier to load on the truck and take to the hill farm.

The ash boards are going to be pegged plank flooring and some will become the beaded ceiling over the loft at the "Hill Farm!" The planks will get sized, planed, and run through the shaper to add a bevel to the edges and a half lap. Then they get step drilled. I fasten them with screws and cover the screws with a dowel that gets sanded after installation. Beautiful light colored, very durable hardwood floors are the result. Once it is in you forget the hard work it took to get there!

Have I told you about the spalted maple counter tops I have in mind for the kitchen? I think they will be a hit with hickory cupboards. This home building from the trees down is the bomb!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Let me Explain.

I hit a wrong button and blogger posted my last entry. Short and to the point.
This year is going to be the first in a long time that I get to do my vegetable gardens the way I want to. The way I farm planting is the most labor intensive part of the whole operation.

I try to get the tallest most overgrown starts I can. For each plant a dig a hole 12x16x10 inches deep. All the soil goes into my wheelbarrow and gets mixed with a third again of well rotted manure, one half cup of Lang-Gro organic 10-10-10, one quarter cup of horticultural grade lime,and one quarter cup of Epsom salt.
This all goes back into the hole creating a mound. I pinch off all but the upper leaves and lay the plant sideways in my soil,exposing only the leaves I left. I plant in double rows with a large row of composted organics in between and a fence at least six feet tall to tie to. In the compost I bury a drip water hose.
When the plants take off and they sure will I train them to the fence and do a lot of early trimming to create more of a vine then a bush. They get loosely tied with baler twine and as they grow I mulch with more manure as early weed control is key to any great garden.
In the past doing them this way I have had vines over 12 feet tall, but now I allow the vines to droop over the top of the fence. The fence has to be stout because you get tomatoes in massive amounts and it all gets heavy.
I have 240 tomatoes of several heirloom types planted and they already have their feet in the ground and are starting to take off! The hard work is done and the rest is fun!

I grow Yukon Golds and Red ones, I forgot the fancy name for them. We grow so many that I can not use cages like I would like to, instead I do rows. The trick is keep mounding them as they grow. The mounding material should stay loose and be very organic o get nice big tatars!

Hot Peppers:
This is my favorite thing to grow. I am always looking for different ones to try and I seed save when I find one I really like. The biggest trick to hot peppers is that they love warm soil. In the north east if the soil is not 60 degrees or higher wait to plant. The plants will stunt if you don't.

Bell Peppers:
Only one trick I use here. In the bottom of the planting hole I place a book of matches with the cover tore off for each plant. It gives me meatier peppers, must be the sulfur.

Cabbage crops:

I grow early, savoy, and late for saurkraut. Also grow broccholi, cauliflower, and collards, all part of the family. Never plant them in the same place twice in a row.

Lots and lots of beans. All kinds, we freeze can, dry and eat them fresh. I plant more every two weeks until well after the 4th of July.

Salad fixings:
I also plant them every two weeks for enjoyment all summer long. I plant iceberg even if no one at our house eats much of it, because it does so well here and it sells.

Squash and pumpkins:

I bury tires flush filled with soil. makes for easier weed control. Then I cover the ground where the vines will travel with my empty feed bags. No Weeds! Acorn, butter nut, hubbard, summer, zukes, pie pumpkins, and a few Atlantic Giants for fun!

Cukes: We do pickles and cukes all from mounds. Mulch with paper bags before the vines travel.


Egg plant, mustard greens, strawberries, blue berries, red and black raspberries, goose berries, fruit trees. There is more but I am old I forget!

Being retired is going to allow me to micro manage this year like never before. I am trying to out do my 2005 offering, that was my best ever!

Farming my ass off!

Monday, June 02, 2008

From "Rocks & Squeaks to Greasers& Hippies"

Being born in 1950 I got to experience a lot of living history. Most anyone alive and of the age of remembering can tell you where they were when they got the news that President Kennedy was killed in Dallas. I was in Mr. Hewett's science class and we all got sent home from school early. We all sat in front of the TV and watched the events unfolded. The surrealistic as Jack Rubie came out of the crowd and shot Lee Harvey Oswald. The almost instant reenactments of Oswald's position in the Texas Book Depository and the magic bullet theory. The true horror as we watched Jackie holding her mortally wounded husband in the back of the open car as it raced to the hospital. The strong impact that the funeral train and the casket being pulled by white horses to JFK's final resting place, and Jack the riderless horse with the boots mounted backwards in the stirrups! Will we ever know what really happened that day in Dallas?

This was the start of change in America. It occurred at the back end of the WWII baby boom. It stole our a piece of our soul, jaded a lot of people, and destroyed my faith at the age of 13, and I was not alone.

In my school prior to this event we had Rocks, guys with a duck's ass hairdo, white tee shirt with a pack Luckies rolled up in the sleeve, and the girls that idolized these James Dean wanna bes. Then there were the squeaks, Madras plaid shirts, the start of the long hair thing, they loved the "Beatles." Also through it all we had Jocks, and squares. Me I rode the wave and could mix depending on what girl I was chasing at the time.

The change from all that seemed to happen overnight! The "Rocks became"Greasers" an damn near everyone else became "Hippies!" The youth of the world was on the move, no regard for authority, the music was our guru, and drugs! We all wanted to drive VW's, grow hair past our ass, wear sandals, smoke pot, make love and not war. Summers were spent running naked in the woods or traveling to some Utopia in the next town , next state, or the other coast. North, south, east, or west we were all looking for something. We followed the "Dead", listened to the wisdom of "The Doors", and a thousand other bands! The way we dressed was off the hook!

I get a kick out of my "Dirty Hippie" friends. Instead of looking for an O. Z., they are looking for better returns on their 401K's as we rapidly approach the great big, friggin huge, 60! And I think of the friends that did not get through it all, some died very young. Viet Nam ,overdoses, suicides, accidents, even murders.

1969 became known as the summer of love because we all met at a farm in upstate New York by the hundreds of thousands for three days of peace, love and understanding. It was really the beginning of the end to the great experiment. The war tore holes in the fabric, there are wounds that have never fully healed and may never heal completely. We had Patty Hurst and her army. Charles Manson, Kent State, Black Panthers. We burned our cities, our bras, and our draft cards.

What makes me sad is the fire in the bellies of those that truly believed in protest and also were sure they could make a difference has gone out. Once Again we need some of that blind faith in our abilities to make things better or else they win again!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

1960 and 90 feet kept me home!

When I was 10 years old sometimes my friends and I would go missing for days at a time. My parents would worry about me as I am sure I caused them a ton of stress. Near our farm is a great creek that runs at the bottom of tall cliffs. It is a magnet for boys even to this day. The escarpments are known to collectors as world class fossil grounds and we learned early that the better more complete ones were worth cash to us.

My friend Robert, Rich and myself went camping at the bass of the cliffs Memorial day week end 1960. We left after school on Friday from my house with our gear tied to bicycles planning to spend the night and the next day there. Rich is eleven days younger then I am and Robert was a year younger. So I was the elder on this little adventure. Lady Bug our beagle tagged along as she always did.

We got camp set-up and then acted on our grand plan to hunt fossils 100 feet above the floor of the creek bottom. I took along a heavy rope my father had in the barn. On our way to the camp site I tied the rope to a guard rail post and dropped the other end over the side.

Rich and I had no problem climbing up and down on the rope, but Robert was a fat little bastard and he felt left out as he could climb maybe twenty feet before he tired. At the time our solution seemed perfectly logical. Robert would take his bike back up the dug way, ride back to the rope and climb down to us.

This almost worked! The fat little bastard got scare and wanted to go all the way to the bottom in a hurry. I was on a ledge 90 feet up, exploring the rock face. On his way down he knocked me off the ledge.

I did a free fall to the bottom. I broke a leg, an arm, and fractured my skull. The volunteer fire dept. showed up, threw me on a stretcher, and carted me to the waiting ambulance on the top of the cliff near the dug way. Did a four day hospital stay mostly because they were afraid I scrambled my brain.

The whole thing was a big deal in the newspaper. Robert's mom forbid him from hanging with us, Riches parent did not give a rat's ass. Lady Bug made it home on her own!

What a crappy way to start the summer, wearing two casts and on crutches! About 4 weeks after the fall it was freakishly hot out for so early in the summer. Everybody was swimming in the pond I could only watch. My brother came up with the answer, "Plastic"! We wrapped my casts in plastic and taped it own. No way would two plaster casts melt with that set-up. Well they did and rather quickly too!

Tried out my arm and leg, for some reason I thought they would be flapping. Shit they worked just fine. End of story.

Flash forward! 1969 The Tet offensive, the draft, a 19 year old with a lottery number of 27. You are fucked now sunshine! I figured ,"Don't ask me I don't give a damn my next stop is Viet Nam!"

Remember the cliff and all the stuff about falling 90 feet and breaking my shit? Hell in 1969 I barely remembered it, but Uncle Sam knew all about it. That bastard made me 4-F and at the time I was ready for war. It was not very long after when I joined the movement.

Friday, May 30, 2008

I was a wild Child!

From my very different start things only got stranger. I can not remember when I learned to drive but it was very young. I worked for my father loading trucks with a crawler loader as an 8 year old. We had a shale pit on the property and sold a lot of the stuff. How many boys growing up get to play with dynamite? I did. We would drill a hole in the floor of the pit , set a charge in the hole, wire up the caps, and I would park my crawler with a track on the hole. Then my job would be to touch the blast off on the battery of the machine. When it blew the machine would lift up and we had a nice batch of fresh stone to use. My mother thought that just maybe this may be wrong, but I enjoyed it and my dad got a kick out of it.

I was fearless and to this day I seek the edge. Dad felt that children should be stimulated and he kept us in dangerous toys. We always had field cars, motor cross bikes, guns, and tools to play with. Like driving I do not remember when I learned to weld it seems like I always could. We built cars for our dirt track that were meant to be rolled over, and cars that we could emulate Joey Chitwood in. By riding two wheel off of our home made ramps. Why none of my friends or I did not die or lose body parts I have no idea. We played chicken with the cars, old 4000 pound monsters built in the 50's. At one time we had 12 cars all running at the same time, racing colliding, rolling, even catching fire. It was great fun!

Besides mechanical contrivances we had animals. All the standard farm fare cows, chickens, geese, pigs. Like driving and welding I do not remember when I learned to slaughter, gut, skin, pluck, and butcher said farm animals for the dinner table. Those are just a natural set of country boy skills that come with the territory. And we would hunt our supper, I have eaten wild animals of every ilk! We always had dogs, beagles to hunt rabbits, and pheasant, coon hounds to tree the coons, most we live caught and bagged as they were worth more live then skins were bringing. Survival at its rawest best and using what the land gave you. I still hunt, fish, forage, and grow my own, it is just better.

We also had horses. My father loved horses and so do I. Still have horses. As a ten year old I started rodeo. Went from barrel racing to bull dogging and calf roping. Then I found my thrill, bareback bronc riding and bull riding. This was the 50's no flack vests or helmets just a pair of jeans, cowboy boots and hat, a shirt with snaps, and a big buckle on your belt! The young ladies loved it and I loved them for loving it! Bruises, black and blue , a dislocation or two was all part of the game!

If it was summer we were camping out. Sometimes as many as twenty of us would set up camp. Find someone to buy us beer and find a way to pry the young ladies away from the watchful eyes of their parents. Underage beer drinkers are a strange breed, some learn the hard way. Lots of drama created by alcohol. Why are the drunkest teenage boys always the ones that must climb the tree or play with the fire? Like they need the broken or burned body part. There are a million stories I could tel but I am just giving background right now.

1966: July, not much money making opportunity at my usual venues, always a slow time in the stone and top soil business. I had brand new drivers license, a car that needed fed, and women everywhere that were catching the "Free love" fever that was one of the best ideas I ever heard of. Hippies needed cash to be on top of the game. I did what any red blooded teen age boy with a constant raging hard-on would do, I joined the carnavel for the summer. First stop I got a job setting up the tilt-a- whirl and then sold tickets for the freak show. At the end of the run I got to tear down the same ride. When I went to get paid for my weeks work selling tickets the bastard skipped. I followed the train to the next stop. When I got there I hunted the dirt bag down and took a thumping from some career carnies for my troubles.

No tail between my legs I found a job guarding Zoma the snake lady! And I clocked the dirt bag that screwed me. He was an easy mark. Very routine scum bag. After the show shut down every night he drank a pint of booze and a six pack of beer then passed out in the semi trailer that carried the freak show from town to town. I clocked what he did with the cash. He put it in a lock box under his cot that was bolted down to the floor of the trailer. This being a ten day State Fair I also discovered he was skimming from the receipts, lots of them!

On the second day of the show Zoma a really nice 60 year old lady had an epileptic seizure. She was out for the count. They were frantic and needed a new Zoma. I inquired about the fiscal arrangements and saw this as an opportunity. The trick was get people to throw cash in your tip jar by entertaining them with the snakes and other reptiles in the pit. I was good, very good at it.For the run I made over $3000.00 and met a lot of young ladies who were not fooled by my gender bending. I did look good in my fake leopard skin suit and fright wig.

All the time I continued to stalk Wesley the dirt bag. The show ended on a Sunday. On Saturday the original Zoma was well enough to get back at it. So I squared up with my boss and left the new kid who took over security stay on the job and I hatched my plan! Free to move about and no thoughts of staying for the tear down. My car was at home 250 miles away waiting for me. I stashed all my money from the week in a gym bag and took a taxi down town to the bus station. Stowed my clothes and money bag in a locker and went back to the fair with a fifth of 100 proof rot gut. This I placed on dirtbag's chair out behind his freak show venue. I wanted him drunk!

While down town I stopped and bought a sturdy two handled bag with a hard bottom and some tools. A small socket set and a cheap bolt cutter. Wesley did not disappoint me he went after his whiskey wind fall and at approximately 1:30 in the morning he staggered into his semi. With in minutes he passed out, snoring like a buzz saw.

The rest was too easy. I unbolted his lock box. How stupid was that he used carriage bolts and left the heads outside! I went in and could barely lift the damn thing. But crime always gave me super strength. Wesley was gone, blotto, dead drunk. He was sleeping on an old army cot with the hole on the side where the frame folds. Remember Chinese fingers? Where you stick a finger from each hand in and you could not pull them out, made from woven reeds. His one hand was in the hole in the cot the other hanging down, I put him in a Chinese finger locked to the cot. The whole trailer smelled like piss.

The lock box bolted to the floor by a moron. I decided to cut the lock right there instead of trying to lug the box. When I went to cut it I discovered it was not locked. I cleaned out all entire contents of the box including a watch and over $6000.00. Walked off, caught a taxi back to town, had the cab drive drop me off at a hotel 8 blocks from the bus station. I pretended to go in and when he pulled away I make my way back to the station, cleaned my locker, and got a ticket home! Wesley should have paid me the $100.00 he owed me .

There is more........

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another year older

May 12th, my birthday! Whoopie Freakin' do! Holt shit I've had a lot of them. My wife just got up, gave me a kiss, slipped me some tongue, and wished me a happy birthday so all is right with my world.

Let me tell you about my birth. I don't remember it but I am sure I was there. My family lived in the sticks and I was my Mother's third and last child. When the labor started Mom had to phone around to find Dad, he was out with his brother, my uncle Ken. Finally thy showed up at the house somewhat into their cups. What the hell they were celebrating Mother's Day since they had caused a few women to become Mothers.

My uncle Ken had a brand new 1950 Ford convertible that he was very proud of. This would be Mom's ride to the hospital and the two of them helped her into the back seat with her little bag she packed. It was a 18 mile ride over the back roads through the Seneca Indian Reservation. They did not make it.

Mom related the story many times over the years and I think she was still mad at my father for getting half lit on Mother's day with her so close to delivering a baby. They got more then half way there and had to stopped, Mom was crowning. As luck would have it they pulled into the driveway to the Thomas Indian School and stopped the car. Both brave men got out of the car to help Mom. Uncle Ken promptly passed out when he saw what was happening to the interior of his prized car, Dad had to pee first.

When Uncle Ken fainted he whacked his skull on the edge of the car door, busting his forehead wide open. My somewhat foggy Dad has to choose, help his fallen brother or his almost not pregnant wife. He got uncle Ken off the ground and into the passenger side seat wearing a pair of mom's freshly packed cotton underwear on his head. He got back to mom just in time to catch his new son.

Then Dad got behind the wheel of the new Ford and continued the journey, Uncle Ken bleeding all over the front seat like a stuck drunken pig, wearing cotton bloomers on his head. Mom in the back seat making that special mess only childbirth can make. Me wrapped in Mom's new robe.

Mom swears Dad sobered up instantly when I came out. She also claims I has born with a smile on my face, never cried. I was born hungry, before they drove the 5 miles or so move to the hospital I had already found the mother lode!

Still connected to Mom, nursing like it was my last meal, a busted uncle wearing panties on his head, a suddenly sober father covered in blood, in a new convertible we pulled into the hospital. Someone should have got a picture.

When they went to get Mom out of the car there was one last assault on Uncle Ken's convertible, Mom delivered the after birth. The doctor had to tie and cut the cord in the car. Since I was not born in the hospital I was not put in the new born nursery. Hell I can't blame them.

Mom was starving after this adventure so after the doctors checked the both of us over she had a Chicken dinner, they were serving it as a Mother day thing. Mom swears it was the best she ever had.

Poor Uncle Ken, they kept him. Being a Sunday there was no one to take an E-ray of his melon and being loaded he was not making much sense. I do not think he ever forgave me for ruining his car, we were never close.

The total bill for my birth was $13.00 for the exams, cord cutting, and Mom's dinner. Times sure were different way back when.

Friday, May 09, 2008

One month later

Today marks one month since I pulled the pin. This is the day of my party and I am looking forward to seeing the guys and gals that worked with and for me for so long.

What a busy month it has been, everybody jokes about how they never found the time while they were working to get things done. It's true! Between catching up on house repairs and updates, turning ground to get some crops growing, running the sawmill, working on the equipment, turkey hunting, and the list goes on I have not done much work for other people.

Now that fuel is so damn expensive and going higher all the time I have to rethink my charges for the work I do. As of right now my thinking is to use my time and money to get my farms into the condition where they will consistently produce what we need to survive in this rocky economic times. I have one long list of projects. On the hill farm Fences, chicken coop, work shop, barn for cattle and horses, water system to all the buildings and gardens. I also want to build a shelter to run my mill in the winter. On top of all that I have to complete my gray water recovery set-up, install the solar toilet, and finish two more sections of the house.

At the flat farm we are having a roof raising on the original section of the old farm house. The upstairs is old school where the children used to sleep, only 4 feet at the walls, with two dormers. The idea is to add 5 more feet to the walls and replace the roof with a modern metal roof and do away with the dormers. It will add a lot of living space plus we will raise the ceiling downstairs to a full 8 feet. Over the years additions were added to the house and not much thought was put into the the roof line. Over two of these the new roof will be a gable that ties into the new raised wall, doing away with three valleys, a chopped up roof line, and creating a covered porch at the same time. It will make a pretty house when it is finished. I will stay with it until the house is closed back in then my youngest son will be on his own for interior work.

Here at the homestead I have to stain the house, the stable, and the barn. We are going at our home with the idea of putting it on the market sometime soon and will work towards developing the all important "Curb Appeal". As it stands now we will be have for some time as long as my in-laws are still able to live on their own as we are close to them. 20 minutes away or 2 hours away when we move to the hill. This house will sell itself, only 20 minute commute to the city, 11 acres, a very nice two story shop that can be converted to a "Mother-in-Law," the shop has all utilities on its own meters, a three stall stable with an upstairs for hay. The house is two bath three bedrooms, new kitchen, radiant floor hot water heat.

My homestead is very historical, one of the few structures to survive the "War of 1812" in this area. It is a true post and beam building that started life as a grain mill and general store with living quarters upstairs. In 1938 it was moved from the corner to its present location using horses and log rollers to pull it up the street. Placed on a full basement and a hip roofed one story addition was added to the front, also over basement. Over the years it got abused a bit, was used as a rental after the people that moved it passed away. It was make into two flats, but at least they only added walls to do do it so the fix was easy. It was covered in cement board siding when I bought it, but underneath was site cut red cedar clapboard in great shape. I sawed about 2000 feet of clap to match and covered the front the same way and stripped the rest of its old paint. All the windows are replaced, electric, water, heat, city sewer all new. The basement has a natural drain, NO Sump Pump to fail! If I have to sell I will miss this house, maybe a grand child of mine will need a house before I do.

The rentals, in a word "GONE." Sold them both for one money, pay the tax, bank the money, end of story.

Now I have to figure out what to wear to the party!

An update:May 12, 2008

The party was one for the ages. We got to the West End Hotel at 4:10 P.M. Several of my mates were at the bar, so we socialized for a while when John the owner informed us our banquet room was ready. Then the crowd started showing up. And what a crowd it was, over 400 of my friends took the time to send me off to pasture. What a great bunch I worked with, something about prison that makes us close. It was a good thing I brought me little pick-up and not the car, the bed filled up with gifts and I needed a wishing well like a bride for the cards.

The party was to run from 4-9 we left at 3:30 am and we were not the last to leave. The jail called and said I better be there after the 3-11 shift lets out, some of the guys want to stop and see me. (29 miles away) So more guys and gals started pouring in at 10 o'clock or so, the sergeant on duty got some out early. I saw guys from 10 different facilities that I had worked with over the years, guys who had retired ahead of me, and folks that did not work for the system but wanted to be there. I still feel honored and proud to be part of "The toughest beat in America", people that put their well being on the line every time they go through the gates!

The guys gave me over $5,000 and a ton of gift cards, plus too many gifts to list here. I am still overwhelmed. They all tell me they already miss me and I have no choice but to believe them.

I wore a surfer shirt, tan dress pants, and my wife put my sneakers in the washer so they were clean. What a fashion plate!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Send Off

At no time in my life have I ever felt so close to so many people as I did at 5:45 a.m. this morning. This is when I left work for the final time. When I reached the door I was greeted by an Honor guard, consisting of officers, civilian staff, many of my supervisors, and even folks who took the time to show up to send me off on their off day. The entire sidewalk was flanked with my coworkers as they saluted me on my way to my car. Once there I was escorted by patrol vehicles running lights and sirens for one last tour of the perimeter. I feel so honored and humbled by these people who are my friends.

Over my last four working days there has been a party in my honor everyday and folks who have retired or moved on have either stopped by the prison or called me on the phone to wish me well. This show of love and appreciation has left me in awe of the folks that walk the toughest beat in America! I am still more then a bit shell shocked by all of this but I had to post something or I would burst the rest of the buttons off my shirt.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Crunching the numbers

With retirement only two days away I decided it was time to see if I could afford not to go to work. The last three years I have been living on half my net pay and saving the rest, good practice I thought for retiring at half pay. In the mail yesterday I got a sample work-up of the money I will be receiving after retirement. Now my numbers are off the mark. The work-up explained that these numbers would be 15-20% then I will actually get once the final average salary is figured out. This process takes them 6-8 months, why? I have no idea. But I will get a check for the owed amount at that. Ok I can live with that. Here's where my simple minded figures went awry, my way of thinking is 50% is half of the pay you were getting. Well duh it's not it is more like 72-75%. The cause: no state taxes, no health insurance premiums, no union dues, federal taxes at a lower rate, and no F.I.C.A. Very pleasantly amused by this turn. Plus the intangibles, the cost of going to work like gas prices are ever going to go down, the raffle ticket, football pools, lunches ordered out, uniform upkeep, plus what it does to my vehicles.

We have a deferred compensation plan at that I enrolled in 12 years ago. I was going to be wealthy when I retired. That projection has been slightly down-graded to we will most likely not need food stamps. Silly me, I thought that the deferred money was there to make up for the time between retirement and when I am old enough to collect social security. Four years, but who's counting? So who sold my name to some God forsaken clearing house for get rich quick mailings? They all want to manage my finances for me, how nice. Never realized how many helpful folks are out there.

Since these very kind folks see fit to fill my mailbox with fine offers, I feel it would not be fair of me to just throw the crap in the garbage. So I pack every scrap of their mailings into the postage paid envelope they send and mail it back to them with large hand written scrawling declaring my desire not to participate in these fine programs. It is only fair and my mail carrier needs the work, with E-mail, text messages, and the worldwide web eating up so much of the post office business these days. For some reason I am receiving less and less of these types of mailings.

I informed my children that the cash cow has been butchered and eaten and now in their thirties it is time to totally fend for themselves. I also explained the retirement plan to the bride. We have what is called a Pop-up feature, for a monthly premium, based on our ages she will continue to get the same check every month if I go first. If she goes first they stop taking the premium and my check pops up. This costs around $300.00 a month and it is a good deal in the long run. I looked and comparable life insurance and it is much costlier. She wanted to know why I get $300.00 more a month if she croaks and I explained this way. Hair transplants and a new convertible, I will need to replace her.

So why am I not wealthy beyond my wildest dreams? The stock market is the game I played for a while, but being a simple man I could not stand it. I used Y2K as my excuse to get out. Herein lies the rub, I buy 10 shares of xyz stock at $25.00 a share, three days later my $25.00 stock is worth $10.00. Who the hell got my $15.00. I know I know, the stock market should be treated like a kid riding a pogo stick up a hill. The kid will have his ups and downs but he keeps climbing the hill. Well guess what I managed to average around 5-6% with fixed investments while the average market player makes 7-8% and has to watch his money go up and down. Just not for me. I see guys come to work and hear horror stories about loses and it eats at them.

Right now if I continued working it would be for $3.41 an hour. I think not. Shit I could hand out carts at Walmart two days a week if I really needed to make that up. Besides I don't want to have much left when I go, I don't want my sons fighting over it. If fact when I go this is what I want people to say about me.

"Gee that bastard owed me a lot of money!"

Friday, April 04, 2008

Get out alive.

My very, very, short term goal is just that, to get out alive. April 1,2008 we lost another officer at the prison.

"Tim Healy," husband, father, correction officer.

Tim called in sick for the midnight shift, said he must have the flu. He also said he had a doctors appointment for 9:00 am. He never made it, Tim died of a stroke at 4:00am. He was 51 years young.

So yesterday my friend Ken and I made a long drive to Shinglehouse Pa. to go to yet another wake for one of our own. Tim made that same long drive to get to work everyday, because he loved his country home and Shinglehouse is a good place to raise his children. He would come to work, do a double shift, stay over in a room close to the jail, do a second double shift , then make the 65 mile drive home to his family for four days. He talked about retiring in 5 years, and he would show pictures of his kids and family at a drop of a hat.

Tim had a very troubled first marriage that took a toll on his sanity and health. He lived through a very dark period and got out of it. He would dwell on his lose of identity as a devote Catholic as he worried about his fate and excommunication. For a fee the church was going to make it all better for Tim. That was ten years ago.........

After major depression and more drugs then any ten men should have to take, Tim functioned, but not as well as the very sharp college grad I knew in 1988. Well as luck would have it he got a second shot at true happiness. He met a lady, fell in love and he and his young son were once again in a happy family.

Tim never got over the church, nor the drugs he had to take. Between the two, in my opinion it killed him.

The three people that have died at my jail in the last three months were all 51 years old.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Up on the Hill!

Many years ago my best friend was dating a girl from the city and he needed someone to take out her younger sister or she could not go. Well I got recruited and that night 40 some years ago I met my wife to be. Ended up we both married these girls, they lasted 19 years and divorced, my wife and I are still at it after 38 years. My sister-in-law gave me an ultimatum at the time of their divorce, if I stayed friends with her ex-husband we were no longer welcome at her house. I have not been to her house since. Her X is still my best friend. SIL comes to my house but I will never set foot in hers.

Today we went to the hill farm, me and my former brother-in-law. He gave me some help setting up for some concrete work I am preparing for. He has just retired from the same prison I work at and I have not spent much time with him since hunting season. We talked about family, hunting, married life, and our housing choices. The prep work went well and we took a long walk in the woods enjoying the way things were coming to life after the winter. After maybe 5 miles of walking we got back to the homestead and I prepared lunch, New York Strip, mushrooms, green beans, and fried Yukon Gold taters, sliced peaches for dessert. All the fresh spring air made this meal go down great!

He told me how lucky I was to have a place as beautiful as the "Hill Farm" and how much he loved spending time there. His home is on 3 acres just outside of a small town on a major highway, very nice older home set off the road a bit. His second wife is not happy, complains of too much togetherness since his retirement and the fact that she is out in Hicksville. Her idea of a great time is Vegas, barrooms, or trendy shopping. Shit he has only been retired since December and she goes on like he has been in her hair for years. My bride has ants in her pants and can hardly wait for me to retire. She is genuinely excited about the "Hill Farm" and loves the plans for the place. I feel fortunate in deed!

On the way back to my friends home we stopped and priced out metal to replace his roof as the need will be soon at hand. As we weighed the variables of shingles, grade, longevity of different materials VS a steel roof I asked him if he planned on staying in this house forever. He said until they take him across the road, there is a graveyard across the road. I then asked him if there is anyplace that he has not lived where he would like to. His answer stuck me. He said, "I would move to a place like we just left, but it will never happen as long as I am married to my wife, she would like to move to the city."

How is it that two people with such different views on how and where to live end up together? If that were me I do not know what I would do. It hurts to see a friend so unhappy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

John Deere Frog

There is my damn Garden . Thanks Merely you are a doll! Frog has been with us for 30 years or so, got fresh John Deere colored paint job last spring.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I don't get it!

So I have a blog but just barely. When it comes to running the dashboard to add features I am at a loss. Oh sure I can add picture and do some layout changes but that is about as far as I get. Tried to add a slide show but can not get it to load, tried to link to some of my online friends and that is not going well either. I will keep at it because that is how I am.

Now that all being said I am angry or sad or neither, maybe just perplexed. And not about blogger.

Why are so many people such hard core haters? They hate your color, they hate your sex, they hate your politics, they detest others just because they do not think the same as you.

Money! Has it always been this way? Those that have it do not think any rules apply to them. High profile men with cash screw around on their wives and the wives excuse the behavior. If I did that my bride would hang my testicles on her rear view mirror just so she could whack them once in a while. How is it that a CEO can run a company into the ground and escape with a golden parachute worth millions and it is OK, just business as usual. How about the ruined lives from failed lending companies, artificially low payments, then the rent comes due. Put you on the streets and the head honcho walks away with 24 million a month. Nice work if you can get it.

Presidential elections. Too bitchy, too black, too old, too left wing, too right wing, flip flopped, said this or that, it this the best we can do? WTF we have a whole bunch of people and it seems we could do better. Ten more months of this hog wash and it feels like it never stops.

Iraq! It is not about the oil. I have to admit Bush has been right all along, it is not about the oil. It is about the money his cronies can make from jacking the price of oil. Five years 4000 dead Americans, untold numbers wounded, and the number of people who snap from PTSD later on will be staggering. WAR ON TERROR my ass. The biggest threat to this country comes from within. This little war is a bargain, 12 billion a month. Hey! I have an idea lets stop fighting for one month and use the cash to fix the health care for the folks that have none!

Free Trade! What's so free about it? When your job goes over seas you are free to work at Mickie Dees slinging burgers for chump change, but they do give you a nice hat!

Food! Stock up I think we are going to need it. Monsanto gives big bucks to all the right folks and then they grow seeds that will not grow if you try saving them. Even if you try they will come for you, after all they hold the patten. Now don't forget to get all your beasts Micro chipped or NAIS will be all over your ass. But it is all good!

At least the government won't lie to you! Holy fuck I can't believe I just typed that.
Pick your topic.
Oil, taxes, terror, food, vaccinations, pollution, global warming, health care, and so many others!

Gosh I really feel better now. I think I will not waste anymore of this fine day posting on the net.I am going to get into my full size 4 wheel drive pick-up truck, drive over to my flat farm , hit the beef cows with a blast of growth hormones, maybe burn a pile of garbage I have stacked up, saw down a few tree, after I take this stuff I just saw some advertised on TV. How bad can it be? What's a little oily anal discharge among friends?

I hope that half black half Mexican homosexual neighbor minds his own business. He always complains when I burn plastic and a little smoke blows through his or is it her kitchen!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It is Official

April 29, 2008 is my first official day of retirement. I went down town yesterday and signed the paperwork for my pension. The way I got it figured, 14 more double shift work days and I am finished.

Since Tony's death life around the prison has gotten back to normal. After all we are big tough prison guards who have no feelings. We don't internalize our losses to add to the stress level. The state has started a program called, "Critical Incident Stress Management." ( CISM) Off site, groups of affected people are brought together to talk about what happened and how they feel. Being a dinosaur I was a skeptic, after 28 years of spoon fed bullshit you get that way. The sessions really do help, just knowing that others feel the same way you do. The folks that run it are from the outside and are very good at what they do. Unfortunately this is the fourth one I have been to in the last three years.

For a time in my career I felt like the Grim Reaper. We had in a two year period three suicides by officers. All three called the prison to say they were not coming to work, I took all three calls. Only one let on that anything was bothering him and I questioned him. Wanted to know if I could help. He told me he was gonna take a few days off to get it together after his ex-wife took his son and left town. That night he took his one day old new car and drove it thru a brick wall. That did not kill him so he walked home, put a rope around his neck, tied it to a ceiling light, that broke so he tried a rod in the closet, that broke, he finally hung himself from a railing. I was not alright with this for a long time. My spider senses were on full alert, his new girlfriend, who was pregnant with his child worked at the prison. I sent her home to spend time with him after he called and then would not answer his cell phone. I beat myself up over this for quite some time, even though everyone said I went beyond the norm to help. Never did I expect him to kill himself that night. CISM helped.

Damn I went back and read what I just wrote. Sounds like a bad Cagney movie. Believe it or not I loved my job, just not all that much lately. When you work with people for decades it becomes like a huge family with all the same problems and joys. For some reason people find it easy to tell me their problems and seek my council. This gets to be a big load to carry. Some things have to be held or unemployment will add to whatever else is is troubling them. Our department eats their young. Thousands of dollars are spent recruiting, training, and clothing the officers, then the next twenty-five years are spent trying to fire them.

I am moving forward and this is my final rant. It did not start out to be a rant. After reading this do not think that there was always a black cloud hanging overhead. I have had a lot of fun and joyful times at this job. Made too many good friends to count and do my best to only own what is truly mine and let the rest go.

Next post.........
My plans for my first summer retired!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tony Dashner

27 years working in a para-military environment takes its toll. At the start of every shift we hold a formal line-up, a roll is called, all the officers are inspected, they are informed of anything going on in the facility. The state has 69 prisons and when you sign on you go where you are needed, then use your seniority to work your way back home. So timing is everything, some get home right away and some it may take years. A lot depends on the where you are trying to get to.

I am the guy that chairs the line-up, calls everyone to attention, deploys the troops, and reads the statewide information from a clipboard. It is this clipboard that has pushed me to take my retirement. More and more there are death notices of people that I have worked with. The prison industry has a very poor mortality rate, we die young. In the best run, safest, trouble free prison, the stress level is still off the hook! There are coping skills that help and there are people working there that should just quit because the job is killing them. Families and marriages suffer when the job is brought home or the staff member drinks or uses drugs to try and manage his or her own work related demons.

Yesterday I went to a wake. Tony was 51 years old, a body builder, one of the funniest guys I knew. He did not die because of the prison or did he? He was on workers comp after an incident with an inmate and was off recovering from knee surgery. His mom and dad went to Florida and Tony was tending their dogs and house for them.

No one knows for sure just what happened. Tony was missing for three days, his parents were waiting at the airport for him to pick them up. They took a cab home and found Tony's keys, cell phone and winter coat in their kitchen. Also his two dogs were in the house and had not been out for a while as they had messed on the floor.

A massive search party was formed. Police and Correction Officers responded in groves because one of their own had gone missing. The area around the house was searched, there is a river that runs behind it. Tony and the dog had both drowned after going through the ice. The underwater recovery team brought them both out of the water.

The Corrections Officers carried their fallen comrade on a litter the mile or so to the road. I am so proud to work with and know such a close knit group of people that truly care for one another. Reading the clipboard at line-up was one of the hardest things I have done in quite some time.

Tony we all miss you and hope against hope you are in a better place.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I realize that I work like buckshot. I start out fast, spread out, and if I am aimed properly I hit my target. There are times I would like to stay focused and be able to complete a project before starting something else, but life gets in the way.

The Hill Farm is not nearly as far along as I hoped it would be right now for many reasons. Going to work is still getting in the way, but not for much longer. Around here the last three weeks everything I touched broke, the boiler decided on the coldest freakin' day of the winter to take a shit, my car on the same day decided to overheat, and the heater hose connection I was working to repair on my dump truck snapped off in the manifold.

It took me 8 days and two experts to fix the boiler, plus new parts. On day one I diagnosed the problem and bought the offending part, put it on and still had the problem. Changed several items on the S.O.B and no go! Had two kerosene heaters and two electric ones going to keep the house semi-warm. Then on day eight I was sitting in the basement looking at the bugger when it came to me. I was right all along! The very first part I bought was just as bad as the one it replaced. Went back to the plumbing house and exchanged it for another, five minutes later the boiler was back to normal.

The car, a Honda Civic, developed a habit of overheating. Very random problem, seemed it only happened at the worst times possible. This thing fooled even my youngest son the Honda expert.Cut to the chase it was a small hose that had a slit in it that only opened up when it felt like it. Ten minutes to fix, hours spent hunting for the problem.

The dump truck is a bit more straight forward, exact opposite of the last two problems. Ten seconds to diagnose, hours to fix. The thing is in the worst place it could be to get out now that it broke. I finally removed it this morning and should have the truck up and running my next day off.

Meanwhile back at the ranch. I have only got out to the property three times in the last month. It seemed that the weather turned ugly whenever I had the chance to get anything done. My bride tells me to calm down.She is always the voice of reason out of the darkness. Some good has come of this. The high wind 65-70 MPH that we had supplied me with some very nice logs to saw on the mill, some cash I had not planned on, and grew my firewood pile.

Here at the homestead I got the wall at the top of the stairs framed up and ready for drywall and installation of a pocket door. Once this is done I will be able to completely isolate the upstairs during heat season.

Did I mention the slow leak in one of my tractor tires that I am having trouble locating?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I like it hot or nasty

When the weather gets extreme I am in my glory. If it is sunny and 70 that is nice but it does not get my motor running. 90 and blistering sun and I will spend the day drenched in sweat working hard and loving it. There is nothing better to me in the summer then throwing hay bales in high heat. Diving in the swimming hole on a day like that makes life worth living. The pond on my flat farm is spring fed and ice cold. As kids we had a ritual swim every Easter. Some times we would have to break up ice to get in, but get in we did.

What prompted this post is today's weather. Cold and lots of fresh snow on the ground! I spent the night in the house and never realized how much had fallen until I went out to feed the stock. We got well over a foot of heavy powder. I got to do my favorite winter activity, fire up the snow removal equipment and make some piles! Once I got back in the phone was ringing off the hook, I have folks that needed plowed out and I gladly make the rounds and take their money! I clean driveways for 12 people close to home that I use the tractor on, and several more further away that I use my truck to push the stuff.

I am back in the house, I have $200.00 I did not have this morning and I have not even had breakfast yet! America is a great country where a guy like me can find a way to make a buck just by being available.

There is a report out that claims the northeast is 2.5 degrees warmer in the winter then it was in the fifties. Is this a sure sign of "Global Warming" or just a trend in the weather? From my experiences it seems winter around here is not as severe as I remember but maybe I'm jaded and with the equipment I have the snow is easier to handle.

42 miles away at my hill farm I am told it snowed over two feet. Tomorrow I will know for sure. The spindles for my staircase are ready to be installed and I am going to spend a day or two getting some work done inside. Besides I found my snow shoes during my recent clean-up and I have not used them in a couple of years and I got an itch!

This spring will be the first year of crops off the hill farm. I have a joint venture planned with one of my new neighbors Jim Wilson. The 35 acres I cleared over the last two years are getting planted in corn and we are planting approximately 30 acres at his while we are at it. The crop can be sold before it is harvested for ethanol , but we will see.As far as the vegetables go the flat farm still seems like it will work out better for the next growing season.

This retirement thing should make a huge difference in how much time I have to spend on my own projects. My wife accuses me of having ants in my pants.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Often Wonder

It amazes me that I have made it this far. My entire life has been a high wire act working for the most part without a net. From the time I was a wee sprout something inside of me always found activities that involved a rush, if it was not dangerous it probably was not for me. At least now I know where it came from, my father.

Growing up Dad had a shale pit at the farm and summers were spent harvesting the stuff. As a mere lad of 7 my job was loading trucks with a John Deere crawler loader. Child labor laws would have a hay day with that today. To loosen the shale from the ground dad and the crew would drill holes in the floor of the pit and set dynamite charges in the holes. Then the loader track was positioned over the charge and my job was to touch it off with the battery on the loader. Set right the charge would just slightly lift the machine in the air a bit, but what a rush. Mom always thought that Dad was wrong to use me for this , I would have been pissed if I lost that job!

Now not to make it sound like Dad only bread with Mom to have child labor, he believed that everyone no matter how young or small could carry their weight. He also believed that growing up should be an adventure and true to that as a Kid I never knew what Dad would find for excitement. All my friends liked to spend time at my house because it was fun!

Anybody else grow up with field cars? It seems we always had several old cars to drive in the fields and there was a track that we ran on. Gas was always a problem, but we always found a way to keep them going. 50's and 60's cars were really build out of stout stuff, injuries were rare. We did things like ramps, made roll over cars, VW's were great for that! We would race, play chicken, and spend days on these junkers just to keep them running. There were also motorcycles, Dad set up an old Harley with boogie wheels so we could keep the beast upright and we had motocross machines, beat up old street bikes, you name it.

Horses! We always had them. I showed them, rode them everywhere, and what a great way to impress the girls. I rode rodeo as a teenager, everything from saddle broncs to bull riding. I have horses to this day and still get a thrill from them. Been thumped around by these beasts a few times.

Guns have always been tools that we had to fill the larder. I can remember a different time when during Deer season I would take a shotgun with ammo to school so I could hunt my way home through the woods. Try that today. We did not grow up to be killers or criminals due to this exposure, if anything I think it developed a respect for things that can kill.

Dogs! We had all kinds, but always beagles to hunt bunnies with. Coon hounds, we used to field trial them on Sundays. Bird dogs, wiener hounds, labs, and mutts. I still find life to be incomplete without a dog or two around.

Near our farm is a creek with a very high cliffs and we could spend our days climbing all over them. It was a great place to camp out and we did a lot of that. Plus the fishing was and still is superb. When I was 10 I fell off a cliff and broke my leg, fractured my skull, and got cuts and bruises. Not too bad for free falling 90 feet. My grandchildren have discovered the wonder of this gorge and so far so good.

My flare for excitement followed me into the work place. If the job had elements of danger it always paid better. Iron worker, rigger, equipment operator, logging, jailer, I've done all of that. Some day I will tell you more, hell I could do a post on just car accidents!

Friday, January 04, 2008

We was green when green wasn't cool

I enjoy the growing trend of people being aware of what they consume, where it comes from, the impact their actions have on the earth. This eat local thing is not new to me it is how I was raised and something I never gave much thought to. My wife a city girl, comes from a family of frugal folks and it shows.

Her family always shopped at a place in Buffalo called "The Broadway Market" an original buy local since 1888. My family is old school grow your own. Always had a large garden and livestock growing up and we continued that trend after we got married. When I say my wife is a city girl it only means she was raised in the city and had a country girl waiting to get out.

Wild game was a winter staple at our house growing up and wild rabbit is still my favorite meat. I have eaten the following things, deer, possum, raccoon, muskrat, bear,squirrel, pheasant, quail, pigeon, woodcock, turkey, woodchuck, elk, moose, morning dove,and that is just the wild stuff, oh yeah fish too. When you are raised like that it seems normal. My wife had country family and them folks all knew how to eat too!

To this day we stock a larder that will last all winter if it has to. Canning, freezing, dehydrating, root cellar, smoked meat, sausages of several sorts, homemade kraut, wild mushrooms, all part of our routine. The wife even does most of the butchering when I deer hunt. She is fussy and I have never taken anything to a processor including hogs, beef, goats, lambs, chickens, geese, or turkeys. Let me tell ya my bride can cook and I think it comes from loving good food.

The same principles are in place for most aspects of my life. I repair all my own equipment, build my own buildings, plumb, do electrical, and have not called anybody of fix anything for me, in fact I am the guy all my friends call. My Dad was the same way. My youngest son is like this also, so maybe genetics come into play.

So if I had to put a label on myself what would it be?

Redneck? nope I don't drink and do not have a gun rack in any of my trucks.

Country Bumpkin? nope I can read blueprints and I low high tech as much as the old ways

Homesteader? maybe, but I am never going to do any of those trendy things, like live on 12 watts or not buy for a year, I will use horses to pull my farm equipment around, hell sometimes hundreds at a time depending on what piece of equipment I fire up.

The way I see it this whole way of life just kind of grew on me. I am happiest when I am getting dirty. If I am not building something all the time I get in a funk and I need to be outdoors every day just because.

This retirement thing coming up has me pumped. It will be so nice to be able to work on projects and not have to get back to them because earning a living got in the way! My list of things to do on my hill farm grows by the minute and I look forward to a very productive summer.