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.