Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Sky is Falling!

Not really.  It's just snow ...that fluffy white stuff that happens when the temperatures drop enough to transform the moisture laden rain clouds into snow clouds.  The rain started about 7:30 this morning.  I had been at work for 30 minutes already, so the roads were dry and clear for my forty minute commute.  By 10:30, the rain had turned to sleet and by the time my workday was over, there was definitely snow mixed with the rain and sleet.  It was gusty too, so the big fluffy snowflakes were twisting and turning every which way on their way down.  It made for an interesting drive home. 

The roads really weren't bad.  I have to work late this Friday, so I got to leave at 1:00pm today.  That put me on the highway before most of the rest of the homeward bound commuters.  It's not that I mind sharing the highway and I don't even mind driving home in snow and ice as much as some people.  I spent a good many years in Virginia and Colorado so I am not unacquainted with driving on slick icy roads.  But this is central Texas and there are a lot of natives here that have seen snow maybe four times in their lives ...driven in snow maybe half that many times.  They are flatlanders, bless their hearts, and I prefer NOT to share the highway with them while they figure things out.  But all was well and I made it home in the normal 45 minutes. 

The snow was still falling and there was about an inch accumulation in our yard when I pulled in the driveway.  I changed into some warmer duds, donned Yeoldfurt's coat (way warmer than mine ...ha!) and borrowed his 'extra' straw hat to go out and play in the snow.  I told Yeoldfurt, "I'm taking the camera and going walk-about in the snow!"  He laughed. 

I walked around and took pictures for about an hour.   Some of the pictures came out kind of fuzzy, but seeing any accumulation of snow in these parts is too rare not to share the photographs!

I was standing up by the road looking down our driveway for this picture.  

I walked about halfway down the driveway to take this picture.  The snow was falling pretty heavy.  Those are live oaks around the house.  The white line you see running along the fenceline is electric fence tape that we had to put around all the fences to keep the horses from scratching their butts on the wire!  Silly horses.  

And this one was taken at the corner of the front yard.  Those big green spots in the yard are because the live oaks are dense enough to keep the snow out from under them. 

The ground slopes downhill away from the house toward a catch pond in the middle of the pasture.  I was halfway to the pond when I took this picture.  You can see how big the live oaks are about the house.  We have aerial photographs of this place taken when the house was built in 1985 and those oak trees were mere saplings.  Twenty-five years is not long for a tree, but I'm amazed at how big they've grown in that length of time.  

Walking back up the driveway from the pasture toward the house, I took this picture of the raised bed garden we built last year.  It's 16 x 16, with 8 sections separated by 2x12 'walk' boards.  As eager as I am to see green stuff growing in those beds, I'm glad I didn't jump the gun two weeks ago.  Old Man Winter is obviously still with us!

These last two photos were taken in the front yard.  The yellow flowers are daffodils and I'm not sure what the white ones are ...other than pretty!  They look like daffodils, only smaller.  I had daffodils and crocus and all manner of bulb flowers in Colorado so I know these are snow and cold hardy.
The snow stopped falling about 6:00pm and it won't be cold enough tomorrow to keep the snow from melting, so I'm glad I was home early enough to today to take these pictures.  

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring Cleanup

For some parts of the country, it might be jumping the gun, but spring comes early in central Texas.  The last weekend in February is coming up and I have daffodils blooming in the backyard and roses putting on new growth.  That's a sure sign that spring is around the corner.

Yeoldfurt and I had a pretty leisurely time this weekend ...a day at the gun show on Saturday and just a few essential chores like laundry the rest of the weekend.  Next weekend, however, we are going to tackle the garage.  It's a three car garage, so it's big enough that we can drag everything off to one side, then sweep it out and organize and purge as we put things back and get ready to tackle the other side.  Rain or shine, there will be no excuses.  Besides the garage, we plan to do the same for the patio too.  It's not a huge patio, but since it's under cover, stuff seems to accumulate there during the winter months.  Time to see what's what and give it a good sweep.

We decided to bite the bullet and buy our fruit trees this next week too.  We'll get two peach trees and two plum trees.  That means four holes to be dug.  We have a gray water outlet from the washing machine that Yeoldfurt thinks he will be able to redirect to water the newly planted fruit trees eventually too.  That's the way it is living in the country.  You get an idea for doing something and it invariably leads to more work.  That's okay, though.  We wouldn't trade our simple country lifestyle for the fanciest mansion in suburbia.

If we accomplish the garage cleanup and get the fruit trees planted next weekend, we'll be all set to start the real gardening in March.  Our raised beds have been fluffed and composted and are ready to be planted.  If we get a late frost or two, we have plenty of milk jugs stored to cover tender plants.  This is my favorite time of year and I can't wait to get started.


A Day at the Gun Show

We drove over to the gun show in Austin yesterday and both of us had a really good time.  Yeoldfurt always enjoys a gun show, but I'm usually just tagging along for the day.  I like to shoot and I'm as passionate about gun rights as anyone, but my technical knowledge about firearms would fit into a small thimble ...so I just try to keep my shut at these events.  Yesterday was different though.

This was the first Austin Gun Show at the new location and the turnout was pretty good.  We arrived about an hour before the doors were supposed to open and there were already at least fifteen or twenty people milling around outside.  When 9:00am finally rolled around and we got inside, we decided to start at one end and work our way across one table at a time.  That worked well for Yeoldfurt, but I got sidetracked at the third table in the first aisle.  It was a Medina for Governor table.  I've seen politico booths at gun shows before but I guess I was just happy to see my choice for Texas governor officially represented. 

The guy at the booth was very nice.  Before I left his table, I was carrying two Medina for Governor buttons (one for Yeoldfurt, of course!), a big yard sign and a free t-shirt.  That big yard sign turned out to be a great conversation starter as I moved through the rest of the aisles.  People would come up to me and ask where I got it, ask if I really thought she had a chance, ask me more about her.  I'm usually kind of quiet among strangers but I really believe in Debra Medina and took every opportunity to talk her up.  My favorite conversation was with a 15 year old kid who wanted to know what the difference was between Democrats and Republicans.  His first question was typical kidspeak ...'Why are Republicans elephants and Democrats donkeys?"  I resisted the urge to suggest the donkey=ass connotation for the Democrat side and just answered him with, "Not sure but I know it's been that way since I was a whole lot younger than you."  He laughed and went on to ask me why I liked Republicans.  He said, "Democrats are for the poor people, right?"  That got me started.  When I was growing up, my two sets of grandparents were like-minded on just about everything ....except politics.  My grandmother on my mother's side had said that very thing to me many times when I was a kid ...'Democrats are for the poor people."  

I  think the familiarity of his words is what struck a chord with me.  My own youth at the time and my love and respect for my grandparents had always kept me from trying to argue about politics with them.  But here was a young kid, just three years from being able to cast his own vote.  What an opportunity to influence a future voter! 

I have always found that analogies work well with the teenage mentality so I gave him a couple of them to chew on.  I suggested that he'll probably want to move out of his parent's home when he's 18 or 19 years old.  He's a good kid, he's a smart kid, he's done his homework and knows he can afford the rent and utilities along with the car payment and car insurance he's probably already paying. 

He was with me so far ...I could see the twinkle in his eye as he imagined himself, emancipated at last!  But I went on to explain that as exciting as that time will be for him, it will also be a struggle because he will soon realize how much STUFF he doesn't have yet ...like furniture and housewares and small appliances.  He'll miss the comforts of home and be tempted to run out and buy all those things right away so he can be as comfortable as he was in his parent's home.  Chances are he won't be making enough money yet to cover all the bills plus buy all those comforts of home right away.  If he's not very careful, he could get in a bind and not have rent money the second or third month.  He might then be tempted to call his parents and say, "Dad, I can't pay the rent ...I had to buy too much stuff this month ...can you help me with rent?"  The truth is he didn't have to buy all that stuff all at once, he chose to.  The truth is he could afford to pay the rent if he had stuck to the budget and been willing to accumulate all the niceties of life a little at a time.  But he had fallen into the trap of instant gratification and spent the rent money.  Expecting dad to take up the slack for him on the rent would be a Democratic state of mind... feeling entitled to Dad's help even if the pickle he was in was of his own making.  I let that analogy sink in for a minute. 

Then I embellished the scenario by suggesting that during this same time period that he was asking for help from his dad, he still had two younger siblings at home.  The younger siblings were about his age now, mid-teen years.  Still kids, still dependent on their parents for everything from the roof over their heads to food on the table.  Let's just say dad does pay the oldest kid's rent that month.  But that puts a dent in dad's pocket so the family meals that month are rice and beans and beans and rice ...because grocery money that normally fed the family had now gone to pay the oldest kid's rent.  If dad made the decision, he may not gripe about eating beans and rice all month.  But the wife and younger siblings would be just as impacted as the dad and they might resent sacrificing their lifestyle for what amounts to the oldest kid's poor planning and mismanagement of funds.  THAT would be a Republican perspective on the situation.

The conversation with the kid lasted a good 20 minutes and, at the end, I encouraged him to do his own research about candidates and issues and not to rely on the news media for his information.  Even if he (gasp!) grows up to be a liberal eventually, at least he will have made the decision with his eyes open.  I think he'll be all right though.  His dad owns a gun shop, after all ...can't really picture his parents having a liberal leanings.

There were a total of three 'Medina for Governor' booths at the gun show.  Walking around with the Medina yard sign instigated several more conversations for me.  Some of the people that asked me about her might never have made it to the booths so I was glad to have the opportunity to put my two cents in about her.  Texas is already one of the better places to live in these trying times.  If we can put Debra Medina in the Governor's office, we'll be in even better shape!

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Birthday Boy

Quite a few moons ago today, my dear husband made his debut into this world.  No need to discuss how many moons ...just know that most homes in America at that time had television sets, but they were black & white and had only three channels plus PBS.  Microwave ovens had not even been invented yet!  And as you can see from this photo, school pictures were in black and white too!

I am not far behind Yeoldfurt myself, so that's all I'm gonna say about that! 

It's been a lean year for us, but I think we've managed really well considering the obstacles we've had to face.  Thanks in large part to our prepping lifestyle, we're still standing and we're still strong.  We have a roof over our heads, we are not behind on any bills and we are even able to add to our preps from time to time.  We are very blessed! 

All I could do for his birthday this year was a card, but I think I found a good one, it expresses my feelings pretty well ...

We laugh, we flirt, we love.
We drive each other crazy, keep each other sane.
We hold each other tight and hold each other together
We are each better because of the other.

Happy Birthday, 'Furt!  

Love you!!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Liquid Laundry Soap ...the Adventure Begins

Don't you just love the Internet?  It's literally like having a whole library at your fingertips!  I found this recipe at www.homemadelaundrysoap.net and it is purported to cost approximately 3 cents per load.  Yeoldfurt and I made up a batch a little while ago and it was so easy, it was ridiculous!  The hardest part was grating the Zote soap and Yeoldfurt did that for me, so I didn't find it hard at all! Here is the recipe we used:

1/3 bar Zote Soap ( Ivory and Fels Naptha will also work)
½ cup washing soda (found in the laundry section at most stores)
½ cup borax powder (the 20 Mule Team brand is a good choice)
2 gallons water

The 2 gallons of water is incorporated a little at a time, 6 cups here, 4 cups there and finally 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water at the end.  The total amount of water is 2 gallons.  Since the 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water at the end did not need to be heated, I placed that amount of water in a large plastic jug before we started.  This jug actually held cat litter at one time and I saved it, knowing it would come in handy one of these days.  It is large enough to accommodate the 2+ gallons of soap for the recipe with plenty of headspace left over, and sturdy enough to withstand a good shaking to mix the soap gel.

After the 1 gallon plus 6 cups water was measured into the jug, I cut off 1/3 of the bar of Zote soap and Yeoldfurt grated it into a deep pot.  We added 6 cups of water and heated it slowly, Yeoldfurt stirring constantly until all of the soap was melted.  He kept stirring while I slowly added the 1/2 cups of washing soda and borax powder.  The mixture began to gel fairly quickly after the powders were added.  We turned the heat off and he kept stirring while I heated 4 cups of water in the microwave.  We put the hot water in a 2-gallon bucket and poured the soap gel in with it.  Yeoldfurt held the soap pot over the bucket while I scraped the sides with a rubber spatula.  When it was all in the bucket and well mixed, we used a wide-mouth canning jar funnel to pour the soap gel into the mixing jug with the water.

Yeoldfurt screwed the cap on the jug and shook it until it was well mixed.  We then used a regular funnel to transfer it to one of my old 175 oz laundry soap jugs and a smaller
78 oz jug.  The recipe made enough to fill the big jug and about 1/3 of the smaller jug.  We used the homemade soap to wash a rug and some towels and it did a great job! 

I was really skeptical about how much labor and mess would be involved in making my own soap.  But I am pleasantly surprised on both counts.  The ingredients cost me less than $4 including tax and I have enough of the two powders to replicate this recipe at least 60 more times before I run out.  The bar of Zote soap will only last for two more recipes, but at 78 cents per bar, it's still a great cost savings over store-bought laundry soap.  So...what's in your laundry soap jug?


More to the Story

As Yeoldfurt posted on his blog (http://yeoldfurt.blogspot.com/) a couple of hours ago, I've been doing some digging about the stand-off between John Joe Gray and law enforcement in Henderson County, Texas.  The first I heard of the situation was yesterday when I watched two Youtube videos on another blogsite.  It was my first impression after watching the videos that this was a current event.  It is current in that it is still ongoing, but the videos are of an interview that was conducted with John Joe Gray back in 2000. 

I have to say that after watching the videos and even before I did my own research, my sympathies were with Keith Tarkington.  He is the ex-son-in-law of John Joe Gray and the father of two little boys  that he hasn't seen since their mother, Lisa Tarkington, took them with her to the compound just before the divorce was final.  The kids were only toddlers when the Tarkingtons divorced in 1999 and custody was awarded to Keith Tarkington.  In my opinion, it is just plain wrong to come between a parent and their children and my heart goes out to Mr. Tarkington who has endured over ten years without knowledge of or access to his young sons. 

Since this morning, I have read dozens of articles written about the situation and have yet to find any accusations of abuse or mistreatment of the children or their mother by Keith Tarkington, either while they were married or since she absconded with the children.  Keith Tarkington's 'crime' in the eyes of the Gray family appears to be that he was raised as a Catholic and does not embrace the Gray family's separatist religious views which advocate no participation in or interaction with government at all ...including not using social security cards or drivers licenses, not registering or inspecting their vehicles and not paying property taxes.

I'm all for religious freedom and I, too, think our government has gotten out of hand in many areas including legislation and taxes.  But I'm not an anarchist and I don't advocate blatant disregard of all existing laws and tax codes.  As a bible-believing Christian, I feel that anyone who undermines the relationship of a man and his wife, and certainly, a parent and their children, is just wrong ...morally and scripturally.  If Lisa Tarkington chooses to divorce her husband and live with her parents in a quasi-militant compound, she is free to do so.  But to withhold those children from any contact with their father is just wrong. 

No one is saying where Lisa Tarkington or the boys are now.  Vague allusions are made that they are living somewhere out of state with Gray family sympathizers.  How sad and unjust for Keith Tarkington who must be wondering what his boys are being told about their father. 

I hope you will do your own research before you form an opinion about this story.  The following link has a dozen or more articles dating from late 1998 to 2003.  The second link is to an article written in 2009.  Other than these articles, I could not find any new or different information other than the missing persons ads for the two Tarkington children. 



On January 3rd, I put a post on my blog entitled "Hazards of Going Off Half-Cocked"  (http://womanrunswithhorses.blogspot.com/2010/01/hazards-of-going-off-half-cocked.HTML)  I think this story is  perfect example of the collateral damage that can be done when the whole story isn't told.  Preppers are already marginalized and touted as tin-hat extremists by the left-wing press in this country.  If I thought this was a current story when I first read it, how many others came to the same conclusion?  The timeline of the story was clarified in a comment after the post, but not everyone reads comments.  Please understand, I'm not criticizing anyone for posting the story or anyone who commented on the story.  I am just saying we need to careful to do our homework and to tell the whole story.

After all my research and writing this post myself, all I can say is God help those two little boys. 

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bullying Tactics from the Elitists on the Hill

I received this from a friend in email.  If you haven't already heard, the White House is now openly accusing Fox News of not being a legitimate source of news.  Recent attempts by the White House to block Fox reporters from news conferences was only thwarted when the other networks objected ...loudly.  
NPR posted a survey online for we, the people, to voice our opinions.   It takes less than a minute to click the link and vote ... maybe two minutes if you are using dial-up.  But if you don't vote, don't whine, people.  The poll currently stands at 88 percent in favor of Fox, but let's not let a wide margin in our favor diminish our resolve.  You can bet if there is an upset and Fox loses this poll, the White House will capitalize on the statistic as support for their attack one of the very few bastions of conservative views in the news community.
To vote log onto:


Monday, February 8, 2010

February Doldrums

This has been a strange winter.  We saw the sun yesterday for the first time in over a week and today was another gray blanketed sky and damp  chilly temperatures.  No sunshine in the forecast until the end of the week.  I may wither on the vine by then.  Though shorter by several days than most months, February always seems to drag.

When the weather is like this, I just can't seem to get motivated.  All week while I'm at work and especially on the long drive to and from work, I think about all the things I want/need to accomplish in the coming weekend.  The list is usually longer than I can handle in the two-day weekend, but I do my best.  Prepping is a labor-intensive lifestyle and working full time away from home limits how much time there is to devote to it. 

I intended to make soap this weekend.  I have all of the ingredients.  I just need to do it.  It would probably only take me about two hours including grating the bar of Zote if I would just get motivated and do it.  Not this weekend, it didn't happen. 

I intended to do some clean-up outside this weekend.  Lots of leaves to be raked, beds to be cleaned out and a few weeds to be pulled.  Now is a good time to rake leaves because they're damp from all the rain we've had earlier in the week and will clump together.  But I made one excuse after another to myself and never got outside on Saturday.  The big clean-up just didn't happen. 

I intended to sweep out the garage this weekend.  It's a three bay garage, separate from the house and in desperate need of a good sweeping and some organizing.  One of the bays holds my radial arm saw, a long workbench and the feed barrels for the horses.  We are in that bay every day, usually twice a day, so it's not too bad.  But the middle bay is where we store small square bales of hay.  We usually buy 75 at a time and they are stacked six feet high.  Yeoldfurt wrestles one out to the horses when we are in between round bales and it's too wet to move a round bale.  It's been too wet for over a week now and next week doesn't look good either.  Bales of hay are messy when you move them ...bits and pieces of hay everywhere.  The hay gets dusty once it's on the floor and getting walked on, but it's dry and not moldy ...I had intended to gather a bunch of it up and carry it down to the chicken's nesting boxes.  They have some hay in their boxes, but I'm sure they wouldn't mind some extra, especially with the cool wet weather we've been having.  The third bay of the garage is in the worst shape.  It's where we store the saddles on various stands and racks but it's also where everything else that needs shelter but doesn't belong in the house tends to land.  There are carts and boxes and hand tools and weedeaters and various cords and ropes ...all strewn about in no real organized fashion.  Sunshine was predicted for both Saturday and Sunday this weekend.  I wanted to drag everything out of that third bay and clean it up and put it back in some kind of order.  Sigh ...it didn't happen.  Saturday was sunny and I blew off my plans for the garage because I thought I would have nice weather Sunday too.  When Sunday dawned gray and cold and miserable, any ambition I had left for the garage vanished. 

Now I'm having trouble sleeping ...can't quit thinking about all the things I didn't get accomplished this weekend.  I'll probably have trouble staying awake tomorrow. 


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Class Act

If you are not familiar with Patrice Lewis' writing on Rural Revolution at blogspot dot com, you're missing out.   Recently she posted the following about George and Laura Bush on the subject of class (or the lack thereof).  Her post was great but one of the comments left was my inspiration for this post.  Please read her post and the comments by clicking on the link below, and then come back here and I'll explain. 


Bet you never guessed it was thedancingmachine's comment that got me worked up, huh?  To all the diehard liberal Obama-supporters (defenders is a more appropriate description these days) out there, I would like to hear some specifics ...at least one ...please?  What policies exactly did Bush set in place that made this inevitable?  Our military and security policies were much more stringent under Bush than they are under the current administration.  Worse than that, our current President has made us a laughing stock to the Muslim extremists of the world.  Do you think apologizing for past American policies buys us the respect of admiration of anyone ...let alone the Muslim countries of the world?  Do you think by suggesting we mirandize and try in civil court the Muslim terrorists from 911 that he is endearing us to the Muslim extremists? 

Fort Hood was a TRAGEDY.  It was a terrorist attack on our soil by a misguided, sick individual.  If Bush didn't sincerely care about the victims of that terrorist, he would not have made the trip.  He did so without regard to his personal security and without ambition for personal gain.  It was spontaneous and sincere.  Obama, on the other hand, was slow in coming and missed the mark.  Security is a given when you are the current president, but did he have to turn it into a photo op press release?  He turned a tragedy into a grandstanding affair for himself.  As an American, I respect the office he holds, but I am finding it more and more difficult to respect the man.  I see from Lloyd's comment that was left after mine that I am not alone in my opinion. 

Kudos to Patrice Lewis for bringing this article to us to begin with and for not censoring the comments for what this administration would deem political correctness.  She titled her post Classy vs Classless and I say it takes one to know one.  Rural Revolution is a class act ...as I'm sure Ms Lewis' other writings are as well.

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Beans with a Twist

Yeoldfurt doesn't like beans.  He grew up on beans.  Beans every day, sometimes three times a day and always cooked the same way ...a little salt, a little pepper and pressure cooked until they practically unrecognizable.  No wonder he doesn't like beans!  But beans are so economical and so nutritious and he trusts me so much after 10 years of marriage (ha!) that he courageously agreed to let me try a few bean recipes on him.

We started with Red Beans & Rice about a year ago.  He liked that enough to go back for seconds and even requested it for dinner himself sometimes, so we were off to a good start.  A few weeks ago, I found a recipe online for Italian Beans that called for diced canned tomatoes and shredded mozzarella cheese over the beans.  I tweaked it (of course) giving a bit of a Southwest flair and came up the following:

Soak 1 cup dried beans overnight in 3 cups water
(I used small red beans, but Anasazi, pintos or navy beans work)

The next day, drain the beans, then add enough water to cover beans plus two inches. Add 1/2 tsp salt and bring them to a hard boil. Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer until the beans are soft.

When the beans are nearly done, cook four strips of bacon until very crisp, reserving drippings.  Saute one medium diced onion and one clove minced garlic in the bacon drippings until soft and translucent.

Chop enough link sausage to make two cups and add them to the sauteed onion and garlic. I like to used the Hillshire Farms Beef Lit'l Smokies because I had them in the freezer and cut them each link in thirds.  But bulk link sausage would be more economical.  Simmer on low until the sausage is well heated.

Add the sauteed vegetables (including the bacon drippings) and sausage to the beans and mix well.

Stir in one small can Rotel Tomatoes and Chilies, well drained.  Let simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.

Pour the beans into a large casserole dish. Combine 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top of the casserole dish.

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Serve with a green salad and hot bread or rolls.

This recipe makes about four servings. It is easily doubled or cut in half if you have a larger or smaller family.

Yeoldfurt liked it enough to go back for seconds, so I'm on a roll.  : ) 

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