Sunday, December 24, 2006

Look what Santa brought us

Zayden Grey
Born December 23, 2006 @ 2:14 pm
Weighing in at 7 lbs 8 oz and 20 1/2 inches in length

I've never been more proud of my daughter as I was yesterday .

Grandma, Mom and Darling Little Man are all doing fine.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Money and the way we look at it

Unfortunately, money is something we all need. Even those of us who are attempting to live a back to the land lifestyle. No longer can any of us raise every thing we need to get by in the modern world.

Our jobs are taking us farther and farther away from home. Plus you have the expense of clothing, lunches and other necessities just to spend eight hours of a day away from home to earn money.

And it seems, the more you make, the more you need. I guess we're lucky in that we always seem to have enough. Even in the lean times.

And then there are the credit cards. You just can't get by in today's world without at least one. And the banks know this. Which is why, almost daily we get offers in the mail for another one. I mean, try to rent a motel room with one, or take a flight or rent a car. All of these things are impossible without that little bit of plastic.

And for emergencies, like car repairs or medical bills they can be a lifesaver.

So how do you know, which is the best credit card for you out of all of the offers you receive. Good question. Speaking of credit, how many folks actually know what's in their credit report? Does the amount of offers we get mean our credit is outstanding? I don't know, but if we took every one of them, I'd need an extra purse just to carry them all.

While we all know we need credit cards to get by, choosing the credit cards that match our own needs is never an easy task.

I suppose the reason that the economy and the way things are going lately stems from the fact Kev and I have both went back to work. Earning a living from the homestead will happen, but just not as fast as we both hoped it would. We haven't given up, just supplementing the best we can. Until the day that the sawmill and the furniture can supply everything we need, it's just the way it is in this wonderful, modern world.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More thoughts on the economy

After my post the other day, I got to thinking more about the state our economy is in. Supposedly it is getting better, at least that's what the government and financial pundits are telling us.

But, then I watch commercials and see how the car companies are practically begging consumers to buy a new car. Or the furniture companies that are offering NO down Payment/No Finance Charges/No Payment until 2009 or whatever means they can come up with to convince me that I have to have a new bed or whatever.

So my question is, how can the economy be better when day after day, I see more of these types of commercials. I mean, they wouldn't be doing this type of begging if people were really buying their products, right?

The other side of this is the prices, companies are charging for their merchandise. We were at Home Depot the other day and couldn't believe the price tags on some of the items. I know all manufacturers have to meet a bottom line that's in the black, but really, do things have to be so expensive that it is prohibitive for the average income worker to buy it?

Maybe it's really not that prices have gone up so much as it is the value of the dollar that has gone down. I can still remember back when you could get paper money that was backed by silver. Currency, called 'silver certificates', was backed dollar for dollar by silver. Take a silver backed dollar bill to the bank and you could receive a dollars worth of silver. You can't do that today; a dollar doesn't buy much of anything of value anymore. But silver will buy as much as it always has.

Okay, I guess I'm rambling. But, I really can't see that anything dealing with our economy is getting any better. With high gas prices, and all other goods rising in price because of those prices, I don't get how some people are going to be able to maintain the standard of living they are used to. And goddess help them, if their job is outsourced to another country. I read somewhere that a good portion of American families are two paychecks away from homelessness. Not a pretty picture of the economy to me.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Well, times are a changing again…

Starting Sunday, Kevin’s going back to work at the poultry plant. Which mean, it’s back to night shift for both of us. No, we’re not giving up on the mill or the lumber business, it’s only that’s going to become a part time thing – at least for now. It's going to be strange - him shifting from being gone all day to being gone all night. But at least this will be closer and he won't be gone as many hours and we'll still have the mornings to get things done around here before we sleep the afternoon away.

Been thinking a lot about the economy lately. From where I’m sitting, doesn’t seem to be getting any better at all. Gas prices are only rising and along with that comes higher everything.

Every time I think about stuff like this, can’t help but think about the price of gold. Read a web release earlier today that talked about gold and how it is really the only stable currency left in the world. Funny people have been talking gold for years, but it seems to be getting more attention this time around. A dollar may still be worth a dollar if it's a dollars worth of gold. Might want to check out the link yourself if you have ever thought about wanting to

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ya Load 50 ton and...

What will ya get? More cedar boards than I can count in my head right now. No, we haven’t even started milling it yet; first, we have to cut it down.

Kevin’s been working his little self to death modifying the truck to become a logging truck. Since we couldn’t find anyone willing to cut logs for us – we’ve decided we’ve got to do it ourselves.

This whole experience has been eye opening. We’ve run ads, offering good money for good logs. Nothing. Not that we haven’t had calls – we have – many of them. But what most people seem to want is for us to come and cut down their unwanted trees and to pay them for the privilege. Not quite what we had in mind.

So, we made a deal last week. We can cut all the cedar we want, for a very reasonable price, at a pace we can handle. No, we’re not loggers by any means. We’ll harvest these trees the same way we harvest off of our own place. Low impact and sustainability – which means simply we won’t take all the trees or even a heavy fraction of them and when we’re done – a person would be hard pressed to find traces of our being there.

Is it going to be hard work? You bet, but in the end, we’ll have enough cedar to both sell and to build with. Suddenly I’m thinking of a cedar kitchen…now wouldn’t that be something special?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Enlightening...if nothing else

Now that we’ve started to build furniture, Kevin and I took a day over the weekend to see what kind of furniture was out there, what prices were and just generally seeing what type of quality was selling.

Man, were we surprised. Much of what we saw had been imported from either Mexico or Asia. Even at the upper end furniture stores, we found thin plywood and even cardboard being used for backings that aren’t normally seen. The worst part, at least for me was that craftsmanship was nowhere to be seen. Ninety percent of what we saw had been put together with brad nails or staples. Sad, really.

The prices for these thrown together pieces truly blew me away. Obviously, I hadn’t been furniture shopping in years. For six hundred and some odd dollars, I could get a ‘name’ brand chest of drawers. Thin plywood drawer sides and bottoms, cardboard back and no real style whatsoever. I was astounded, with luck, these pieces might last a year or two with normal use. Sorry folks, I’m not that big of a sucker.

All in all, our little shopping trip made us realize that what we’re designing and crafting is worth every penny we’re asking. And the cool part is…what we’re asking is less than most of the stuff we saw on our travels.

Do I want a new chest of drawers? Yes, I do. But I’ll design them and get Kevin to build them. That way I’ll know, just as with the furniture we’re selling, the chest will be made of solid wood. And you won’t find a single nail, screw or staple anywhere.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Little Things...

Sometimes living near a small town can be a unique experience. The other day I called our bank to check on a deposit I had mailed in. The conversation went something like this…

Me: I need to see if a check I mailed has been deposited to our account.

Teller: The one for $**.** - from your in-laws for your anniversary?

Me: Yes, that’s the one.

Teller: I know it came in, I remember recording it. Wait a sec and I’ll tell you the date.

Now, come on, how many people are that lucky with their banks? In this world of being only a number, the whole conversation actually made me feel like I was pretty important to them. Kinda cool!

Now about the weather. We haven’t had any real significant rain here in the Ozarks for about three weeks. But, now we know exactly how to bring on the rain.

No, not a raindance. Yet, by the same token, almost as unusual. Our method – set eggs in the incubator to hatch. Guaranteed to rain and storm the day the chicks are due to start hatching. This has happened the last three times.

And yes, it appears to be true that chicks will not hatch during a thunderstorm. At least for the most part. When I candled the eggs three days ago, we had 40 (of 48) viable eggs. They were due to begin hatching today – so far – 1 chick. We’ll see what the rest of the day brings, but based on the last two hatches, I’m not holding my breath for 40 chicks by the end of the day. We’ll see…

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

It’s Official – Lo Gap Woodworks, Inc. Is Open!

Today was the day, all the legal paperwork is done and the Press Release has been issued. Lo Gap Woodworks, Inc. is officially open for business.

The last couple of weeks have been hectic. With modifications Kevin has made to the sawmill, along with doubling the size of our woodworking shed, we are now able to do both custom saw milling orders and work on building our own woodworking designs.

It’s exciting. Will we be able to make a living at this? I sure hope so. But until we are sure, we’re not giving up our day jobs just yet. J But that is indeed our final goal. To make a good living without ever having to leave home.

Now, I’ll have the job of not only updating Backwoods Living, but also the Lo Gap Woodworks site too. Plus, we’ve got most of the garden out, the first batch of chickens are in the chicken house now and the next batch is due to hatch the 25th.

With everything going on, it doesn’t leave much time for blogging or anything else online, but I’ll attempt to update these pages even more often. For those few of you that read this regularly, at least you’ll know if I haven’t posted – that means I’m sawing logs (and not the sleep kind).

Okay, for now it’s back to work. If you’ve got a moment, check out the Lo Gap Woodworks site and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

An Egg's a Pipping

My first egg is pipping. It’s a day early, but it looks like my first chick will hatch sometime this afternoon or early this evening. Hopefully that means lots of others will follow over the course of the next day or two.

Once these eggs have hatched, I’ve got another batch ready to go in the incubator. These will all be Bantam (banty) eggs and are for my neighbor. It will be interesting to see how many of those hatch out too.

I’ve got the brooder all ready to go. Tomorrow, I’ll put the light in it and begin heating it up for the new chicks. Just finished washing the feeder and waterer, so those will be ready also.

Sometime in the next week or two, Kevin and I are planning to get the garden ready for planting. With any luck, we’ll have an early spring and can get things in the ground a bit sooner than normal. (Usually it’s around mid May.)

This weekend tho, we’ll be busy at the sawmill. We cut eight pines this past weekend, so we’ll have about two and a half ton to cut into boards. First, we’ll have to haul them to the loading ramp. We were going to try to do that last Sunday, but it rained off and on and we finally told ourselves it would have to wait. But if we start early on Saturday, perhaps we can have it all milled out by the time we quit on Sunday afternoon. We’ll see how it goes.

For now, time to go check on my pipping egg one more time.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday, Once Again

Well, here it is Friday again and it seems like ages since I’ve written last. Not that I haven’t been writing, just that its all been content for other people. Oh, well, the moneys good.

What little spare time I’ve had in the last week or so, I’ve used either being domestic (unusual for me) or researching my family’s roots. Daunting task that is.

I wish I had paid more attention to the stories I was told as a kid. This whole adventure came up because for some reason I was trying to remember my great grandmother’s name. The more I tried to remember, the blanker my mind became. (Maybe that’s a definite sign I’m getting older).

But after a search on, I did find her – with three or four variations of her name. She went from a Mertie, to a Murtie, to a Myrtle to a Myrle. Guess that really isn’t so strange, I’m not called by the name I was known as a kid either.

Last weekend, we cut wood. Hardwood. A completely new learning experience for both of us. I guarantee that before we do that again, we will both of dust masks. And maybe plan it for a day when there is no North wind blowing. I do have to admit, the Post Oak and the Red Oak we cut did turn out beautiful boards. I can’t wait to build something with the wood. I just don’t know what, yet.

My chickens should begin hatching next Wednesday. I’m hoping by Monday I should be able to hear the tiny ‘cheep, cheeping’ inside the eggs. If I can get past my excitement, I’ll post my success rate by Thursday. This is going to be so much fun.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Spring Rituals in Winter (and other stuff)

Yesterday I began one of my homestead spring rituals. I plugged in the incubator and set chicken eggs for an early March hatch. Normally, I try to shoot for a St. Patrick’s Day hatching, but this year they’ll be about a week earlier. Sometimes you just have to get the eggs when you can and since I’m down to two roosters in the flock, I had to beg eggs off one of the neighbors.

Listening to this weekend’s weather prediction, it’s hard to believe that spring will be here soon. They are calling for a ‘possibly’ major ice storm and more snow. Today will be spent filling water jugs and buckets, just in case we lose electricity. Cooking is never a problem as we can use either the woodstove or the firepit. It’s forecasts like this that make me glad we heat with wood. J

I now have tomatoes and luffas started in tiny peat pots. Maybe at some point this afternoon, I’ll do hot peppers for containers later. I am so ready for a big garden and fresh veggies again.

We are again a family of four as two of our adult children have moved back home. This should get interesting, as the rules that applied when they were teens no longer suit the situation. Not that there won’t still be some rules, i.e., helping with household chores, etc., but curfews will no longer apply and I promise I won’t be up waiting for them to get home. I think that’s going to be the biggie…can they come and go without waking us up at night? After all, we’re the early to bed (8-9pm), early to rise (4:30am) type. Daughter Dumpling is already good at this, now we’ll see how Son Child is. (See, MichaelM…they might go off to college, the military, etc, but they always come back)

For now tho, it’s time to go fill water jugs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Taxes, Snow and Other Realities of Arkansas Living

Last week, I could put it off no longer. It was time to do the taxes. First things first, download the final versions of TaxAct. This program is the best thing since sliced bread for doing both personal and corporate taxes. I’ve used them for about five years now and truly prefer them over any other tax software on the market.

Now back to where I was. Taxes. Spent two days, checking and rechecking the numbers. It was time to hit e-file. Then comes the waiting to see if the submission was accepted. Twenty four hours later, I get the confirmations from both the IRS and the state. I’m a happy camper. Done. Now just wait for the money.

The big surprise was that the state has already paid. Less than a week. How cool is that????

The other big news of the week was snow last Friday. We only got an inch or so, but that was enough (and cold enough to turn to ice quickly) that Kevin took a long weekend. Now they are promising more ice and snow this weekend too. So much for working at the sawmill.

I remind myself…this is the Ozarks and it is wintertime still. Yet, that’s not stopping me from starting tomatoes in tiny little peat pots this afternoon and placing them in a sunny window. Spring is, really, just around the corner.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Last Couple of Weeks

It feels good to be back. The last couple of weeks have really been a blur, with things happening that I hope I don't have to experience again any type soon.

Last week, we had to make an emergency trip to Houston. Kevin's brother-in-law (married to his older sister) died of a heart attack. He was a day away from being 59.

Trust me, this was no way to have a family reunion. While it was good to see everyone again, tears are not the way to do it. I felt so bad, just truly a terrible ache in my heart, to see his sister so devastated. They had only been married for a little over eight years having tied the knot the summer after Kevin and I.

We got back late Thursday afternoon and basically just did nothing over the weekend.

Monday, I was ready to go back to work. Did my morning net runaround and be darned if I didn't pick up a half dozen viruses before 10 am. And yes, I DO have virus protection, I DO have adaware, and I DO have spybot. How those pesky little devils got thru is beyond me, but I think it had something to do with a few pop-ups that got past both yahoo and google pop-up blockers.

They're gone now and I've gone back to Firefox as my browser. At least on the laptop, my work computer. Darn hard to send email writing assignments until you know you're clean.

But, I'm caught up now. Updated The Sawmill Project today also with a new article and more pictures. The weekend is almost here, so we'll be off building a shed or something.

With any luck, I'll be back to daily posting next week.

Monday, January 16, 2006

And More Blessed Rain

This time it looks like we're in for a real 'soaking' rain too. Hopefully it will finally get the county burn ban lifted. This past weekend we spent getting firewood up. Kevin had a lot already cut in the woods behind the house, but getting it out of the woods was another story.

He took the truck down and low and behold, found himself stuck. Using the chains from the old Suburban, he finally got the truck back to level ground. (Reminder to self - pickup truck does not like damp ground in the middle of the woods.)

Daughter Dumpling moved back home yesterday. Don't know for how long, but both of us can sure use the extra pair of hands while she's here. There is the hope that she'll be returning to school come summer, but we'll see how that goes.

For today, I've got ham and beans cooking in the Crockpot and with the rain, it sounds like it will make a wonderful dinner with some fresh sourdough rolls. But I reckon, that before I really think about dinner, I should get that sinfull of dishes done first.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Rain, Blessed Rain

Finally. After over a month with no moisture whatsoever, it finally rained this week. We got over an inch and I’ve got to admit with all the wild fires, I was really happy for it. Then again, last night a storm rolled through and it looks like we got close to another inch. More rain is promised for Monday. I hope this becomes a pattern for the rest of the season.

Living where we do, fire is always a threat and when everything is dry, just the thought of someone throwing a cigarette out the car window is enough to terrify a thinking person.

Last weekend, we had the kids here and put them to work on the sawmill. While Erin didn’t seem too enthused with bucking boards, Justin took to sawing fairly well. Like me, he has a hard time reading the log ruler and some of his boards came up a bit thin, but perfectly acceptable.

Spent some time this week updating The Sawmill Project on the website. It was fun to write and I’m sure glad we took a lot of pictures as it helped me remember what we did in what order. (Trouble with growing older sometimes is remembering little things like that!)

Not sure what’s on the agenda for this weekend. I think we’ll probably work on adding an addition to the shed so that we can do some ‘real’ woodworking. Both of us are getting excited about what we can make with the wood we are cutting. One thing at a time though. The last thing I want to do is take the fun out of all this with a bunch of ‘have to get done’ stuff.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Few Thoughts on The Sawmill Project

Okay, I’ve got to admit, it’s been humorous to see some of the responses to The Sawmill Project on my website. Seems most, (read that men) have a real hard time believing that a woman is out working with her husband making logs into lumber.

Now, I admit, before we began this project, the most complicated machine I had ever operated was my Oster Kitchen Center. Honestly, though, the sawmill is much more straightforward. Move blade down, move forward and cut. Sure beats trying to find all the right attachments when you need them.

I am having fun. Watching logs turn into lumber is a very rewarding experience. Seeing that lumber pile up and knowing that it will help us achieve our goals is beyond fantastic to me. Knowing that in the future, our little sawmill may help us reach the point where neither of us has to leave the house to earn a buck is what motivates me to learn all I can.

So, to you naysayers, carry on. I’ll just bet you wish your other half would support your dreams as well.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy 2006

For us, 2006 brought us each a bad cold. Yet, that didn't stop us from enjoying our almost four day weekend. (Thanks to a vehicle breakdown on Thursday.) The skies continue to tease us with what looks like rain clouds, but so far we've had none. The weatherman said this morning that Arkansas was down 14 inches from the normal for last year.

I keep hoping that soon the cycle will change and we'll have rain for several days in a row. I don't mind the warmer temperatures though, in fact, today I let the woodstove burn out. I'll relight it after the sun goes down.

In spite of the cloudy skies, Kevin and I worked all weekend cleaning up what is now going to be our personal lumber yard. It's amazing how much stuff can be collected over the years - all in the name of - We might need it someday.

We also came up with a plan to extend the shed into a woodworking area until we get the shop built. And, we found the location for the kiln we want to build. But, we still have a lot of research on that before we do anything permanent.

After moving the bulk of the stuff on Friday, Saturday we took it a bit easier. Moved the rest of the stuff and just talked and made plans for our future. Now, if we could only figure a way to make the sawmill start paying off immediately, I would be one happy camper, but alas...
Saturday night, we shared a bottle of wine, but no way could we stay up to ring in the New Year. In fact, I think we were in bed by 9pm. If that makes us old foggies, well then so be it. We both knew the New Year would get here without us and if it didn't, well, wouldn't it be better to be sound asleep?

Our neighbor brought us down some logs to cut for him on Sunday. I reckon that's what we'll be doing this weekend, even though he said there was no hurry.

I hope everyone had a great New Year's eve and day, no matter how you celebrated it. Us, we had the traditional black eyed peas, brown rice and cornbread. Of the three, only brown rice is one of the things I cook regularly. The rest is saved for luck it is supposed to bring on New Years.