Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Another Baby Picture

Gloria 5 days old
I had a request for more pics of the baby. I don't want to overwhelm everyone with pictures, but she's so cute I had to share at least one more. I just took this one this morning.

We're doing well. Trying to rest during the day, but it's hard. We both sleep well at night though which I thank God for each morning!


Monday, May 29, 2006

excrementicio lunes

Over the weekend, as a part of helping Melissa recuperate, I took the kids to Granbury to hang out with Melissa’s mom and step-dad. While we were there, Mitchell and I got started on building a fence for them as they are getting a pool and we will not get to use it until it is surrounded by a fence and full of water.

Last night their neighbor notified them that the fence was on his property and that sprinkler damage had occurred. Thankfully, we had planned to go in to Granbury today anyway to get the fence job close to finished. The plumbing issue was not too big of a concern for me. You know, when your first mistake of the day comes the night before, you are in for one big ball of fecal mess once the sun gets up. Before we got to Granbury we had forgotten the library books that were to be returned on the way, forgotten the movie that was to be returned in Granbury and found out that the ice machine was not working. While we were in Granbury Melissa found out that Manitowoc (ice machine maker) has a great warranty, but only for commercial locations. That we are a ranch that uses the machine for our money losing chicken business may be helpful, otherwise we are in trouble. I also killed a chicken in a tractor moving accident this morning. She was a nice, mature, and ready to be processed chicken.

While we were in Granbury we found that we had indeed placed the poles on the wrong side of the property line – just barely – and that putting them on my in-law’s property would have us pushing right through more of the neighbor’s sprinkler lines. That’s right, my in-law’s fence was on the neighbor’s property and the neighbor’s sprinkler system was on my in-law’s property. So, some sprinkler lines stayed where they were, a couple of poles stayed where they were and the rest of the poles got re-dug. We also moved a sprinkler head for the neighbor that was on the in-law’s property.

At the end of our workday there were fewer poles set in concrete than when we got to Granbury. There were three line patches, eight new holes for poles, a broken pole – not a fit of rage, just strong cement – and two more days of work, at a minimum.

Last item and I swear I will quit complaining, between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. the price of gas went up 3 cents a gallon at the lowest priced place between here and the Hood County line.

Looking forward to TOMORROW. By the way, lunes is spanish for Monday. Figure the rest out for yourself.


Friday, May 26, 2006

And now, more about the baby

Melissa woke me up around 2 and told me that the baby was coming. Having done this before the next few steps were well established - call the midwife, make Melissa as comfortable as possible and stay out of the way.

The midwife is an hour and a half away, so we had some time and discussed live blogging the birth. Be glad we did not. It would have been a long and monotonous listing of contractions and times and how much each of us wanted to go back to sleep. Betsy, our midwife, arrived around 3:20 and set up shop with an oxygen bottle, an assortment of gloves, pads, and, yes, duct tape. We did not need the duct tape as we wanted the baby to come out.

Around 4 Betsy checked on her heartbeat and we discovered that she was breech. Much prayer between those of us here and the people that were called at 4 a.m. resulted in a head down baby at 5 a.m.

Melissa labored in the tub, on a big exercise ball, on a birthing stool, standing up, laying down and walking. The breech moments at 4 spooked her and me and undoubtedly delayed her laboring abilities. About 8:30 it all got going in earnest and at 9:06 Gloria came out. The problem then was not the breech position, but she had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, twice, and was blue. Betsy spun little Gloria around and her color went from blue to purple to pink. Gloria is resting, Melissa is resting and all is well. We are figuring that with as much trouble as getting her out was, we are in for a long and wild ride with our new angel.


She has arrived!

Gloria Beth is here. She was born at 9:06 this morning. Pictures and more to follow later.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Head down, thumbs up

No baby, but the head is down and it has the hiccups.


While there is no new baby, we do have new farm animals. The sheep are here! This is a picture of the two ewes and two lambs. The sheep actually belong to the kids. This past year my Dad decided to give each kid $50 instead of a gift. It was easier for him and the kids would get to pick for themselves. Well, they all got their heads together and decided to get sheep as they knew they could get a couple for $400 and then sell the offspring each year or grow their flock. Smart kids are a joy to raise.


Melissa and I plan to get a ram and four more ewes and we will begin to be in the sheep business. The sheep are recorded Katahdin sheep. They are a hair sheep – no full wool coat, raised for meat. They might also make nice gloves or wallets. Anyway, they are fast to reach maturity and typically throw off twins, if not triplets, regularly. More lambs, more sales, more money for the kids’ return on investment.

The picture was taken this evening. After that, I went and played kickball with some of the kids. You know, when you have eight kids you can play a pretty good game of kickball even if all the kids aren’t playing. By the way, kickball is a dumb game to play for a 42 year old prone to groin pulls. The best part was the dog. Scout kept chasing the ball and would bring it back to the pitcher after it went foul or was missed by the kicker. The problem with her came when she would chase the ball as it rolled from the pitcher to the kicker. She got kicked in the side once and the ball hit her in the head another time. Not to worry, though, as labs tend to have the thickest of all skulls in the animal kingdom.

Still no baby.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Faith's Answered Prayer

Still no baby.

As we ate breakfast this morning Faith’s prayers for a horse were answered. We were all going about our morning and Scout (the dog) just kept barking her fool head off. Finally, we looked out the window and there stood three horses. They were quite beautiful and very happy to be munching on the grass in front of the house. Now, Faith has been praying that we will get a horse since we moved here. And so, miraculously, three horses appeared. This is a picture of one of the horses. His name is Oscar and he has blue eyes.

We got them all corralled in the barn area and I called the neighbor that they belong to. When they came, Faith talked to them about getting to help out and they said she could – so now she will get to grow n her knowledge of horses. She will also be modifying her prayer to ask for a horse that she can keep longer than a couple of hours.

It was another reason to love living out here. I was 30 minutes late to work today because I had to take care of corralling three horses. This did not happen back in the city.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Watch your step out here

Still no baby.

Every night, when we are saying our prayers before the kids go to bed, we ask God to protect us from spiders, snakes and scorpions. In the last month I have: looked up just in time to see a scorpion crawl across the bed to a hiding place (I killed it), and, after moving some boxes, got smart enough to look before I put my hand underneath again, only to find several brown recluses on that box and one right where my hand would have gone (killed them all). Two months ago Faith stepped on a rabbit out in a field. The other end was in a rattle snake’s mouth. Faith and the snake both got away. Tonight, while Faith and I were gathering eggs, I stepped on a rattler. It did not like this at all. I yelled to Faith to stay back and she then saw the snake and got out of the way. The snake was between her and me and I was between the snake and the creek. I sent Faith to get the rake and Stephen was in the field so I sent him to get the shovel out of the stanchion. Faith brought the rake – I had already realized this was a worthless implement – and Stephen brought the hoe from the garden - again, the wrong implement. As I was telling him where the shovel was he recommended the shotgun. Duh!

So I stood there and watched the snake, at one point I used the rake and threw rocks at it to keep it from getting away down the creek. Stephen showed up with the gun and shot the snake. A 12 gauge from six feet into a coiled up rattler does not leave much. We got a flashlight, but the rattle was obliterated. And to think, he had wanted to play volleyball after church this evening.

Once again, God saved us from pain or worse. We don’t ask for “no snakes”, we ask for protection. Seeing them and killing them is fine with us. Mitchell has mentioned that St. Patrick drove the snakes completely out of Ireland and we could pray for the same, but I am satisfied with having my needs met. We stay safe and get an adrenaline rush at the same time.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

When I Became a Mom

Roger's out working on fences right now so the kids can get sheep. This is something they've been planning since Christmas and it just takes time to get around to everything out here. I guess that's true everywhere.

Meanwhile, I've been sitting in my bedroom sewing and restoring as much as I can on my computer. I just swap back and forth between activities whenever I have to change positions to be comfortable. (Still no baby and it feels like it's getting bigger!)

Last night the ladies at church had a baby shower for me. We received lots of adorable little baby things. And then there's the diapers. I love the smell of the diapers. My bedroom is filled with the smell right now and all I can think of is falling truly in love with my first baby. I do this every pregnancy. You know how smells can bring back such strong memories. There's something about being pregnant and smelling those newborn size unused diapers that brings back the memory of meeting Stephen face to face for the first time.

Of course, I knew I was having a baby, but what a shock it was to actually have a baby! He was so beautiful! I saw pictures later and realized he needed to be cleaned up, but I didn't see any of that when I first looked at him. I just instantly fell in love like I'd never loved anyone before. I cried with happiness then, just as I'm getting teary now remembering the moment. It was like my whole life finally had a purpose. I mattered now because I had this huge responsibility of bringing up this baby. I took it very seriously and still do. I can't believe it's been sixteen years already and I'm about to give birth for the ninth time. I don't expect to be as shocked to see a baby as I was then, but I expect to fall every bit in love with this new one as I did with Stephen. And I will still take the responsibility every bit as seriously. God has truly blessed me with a wonderful purpose in this life. I get the privilege of being a mom. I get to watch these babies grow up to be wonderful people. I get to enjoy the ups and downs of raising them. I get to share in special moments and help them through hard times. It's at times the hardest thing I've ever done and at times the greatest joy I could ever experience.

Now if I can just remember all this when labor gets hard. Assuming labor ever begins. . .


Friday, May 19, 2006

Ups and Downs of the week

First of all, yes, I'm still pregnant. No, the baby hasn't arrived. Sorry we haven't updated in a week, but my week has been awful. Not as bad as some, but not good either.

The kids have all been sick. Every one of them. And it turns out that Samuel is the biggest wimp about being sick that I've ever met. He can't tolerate the slightest bit of pain and needed to be constantly held--day and night. And of course, it had to be Mom. Daddy is great when he's happy and wants to play. But in the middle of the night when his throat hurts and he wants comfort, it has to be Mom no matter how tired she is or what other child might also need her. You know how it is. One night I was leaning against some pillows dozing off while he slept in my arms. Suddenly he starts pounding on my belly in his sleep saying, "Move balloon!" I just had to laugh. That "balloon" doesn't seem to want to move yet.

So then just as the kids were getting better (although Sam is still sick, but almost better. He just still cries about any little discomfort.) my computer crashed. I was just sick. Stupid stupid me. I hadn't backed up anything on cd's. Just my hard drive. So I've lost a lot of stuff. All pictures taken since Dec 11th are gone. (On the bright side, I no longer feel guilty for not getting the camera out on Christmas. The pictures would be gone anyway.) That includes several great birthday shots and some beautiful sunsets, blooming cactus, cute kid pics, etc. And yes, Roger's finger pictures are gone. Then there is all the data I've collected on my children's schoolwork. I use a program called Edu-Track where I put in all the schoolwork they do and grades, etc everyday. I back it up every 3 days--on my hard drive. My last back up to CD was Dec 8th. That's a half a school year gone. And I let the boys throw away their algebra books because I already had all the data recorded! Yikes! Then there's a book I'd started writing. It's gone. I'm not sure if I'll gather the motivation to start that over or not. We'll see. And the absolute worst thing is the Writing books I'd done for my kids. I had almost completed a complete K-12 writing curriculum for my kids. I needed to complete just a couple more books and I'd have the whole thing done. All I'd have to do each year is print out the books the kids needed that year. But it's gone. All of it. Thankfully, I've printed their books for this school year (we start May 1st each year) and so I can just re-type those. You know, I have so much time on my hands, that's just no big deal. Hah! But all the in-between years have to be started all over.

And I've lost all my email addresses and such AGAIN. If you want me to email you when I have the baby and think I have your email address, you'd better send me an email! Or if you are waiting to hear something from me from Sew Many Children, please email me. I've lost it all. Everything. I'm telling you, don't wait. Back up everything that matters to you on a removable disk of some sort. I had no warning that this was going to happen. Just boom. It was all gone. Do it right now.

Now, my happy topic. I had to go to the post office this week. This may seem like no big deal, but I used to dread going to the post office. There were always long lines and no one would talk to each other. We would all be crowded together in this line for at least 20 minutes and it seemed everyone wanted to pretend no one was there. Occasionally there'd be someone friendly in line, but it seemed to be a rare thing. But you know, I have not run across one unfriendly person at the post office here. There was one day that someone from the local grocery store was running out, obviously in a hurry. Yet, she saw me, stopped and smiled and waved, then rushed on again. I thought that was pretty cool. There's never a wait of any significant length of time which probably helps, but people here are just so friendly! People that don't know me will joke with me or just say hi at least. And the guy that works in the post office is always extra helpful. He goes beyond just doing what I need and offers help or advice for my mailing needs.

I really like living here. I wonder sometimes if the people that have always lived here know how good they have it. But whether they know it or not, I'm glad to have found this place and get to live here now. Kind of like those bumper stickers I see around Texas that say something or other about not being born here, but I got here as quick as I could.

Have a happy day and I promise we'll let you know when we have the baby. My due date is still 3 days away though, and out of 8 babies only one ever arrived before her due date. Other than that, I've had 3 ON their due date. The others were 1 day late, 2 days late, 3 days late, and 12 days late. So anyone want to guess on the birthday of this baby? Due date is May 22. My niece, Maya, says June 3rd but I'm praying she's wrong!!

Oh, one more thing! Clark, our 6 year old, just came to me worried because he accidentally bit his spoon and now his tooth is loose. Yes, it's certainly loose. I explained to him it wasn't the spoon though. Just thought that was cute.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Making Yogurt

Okay, this may seem a silly thing to be excited about, but I found an easy way to make a whole gallon of yogurt at one time without a bunch of jars and dishes to wash.

Yesterday, like every day, I was getting the milk can ready for the morning milk to be brought in. We have an abundance of milk right now and I had a gallon without any jars to put it in. So I poured it in a pot figuring I'd do something with it. I ended up heating it up, adding yogurt culture, then incubating it in the pot in the oven for about 6 hours. I just covered the pot with towels and occasionally let the oven heat to 110, then turned it off.

It came out great and we ate a whole gallon of yogurt for breakfast this morning. It was almost like a free breakfast and everyone got to choose their own flavor.

The kids thought it was great, but pointed out I shouldn't do it everyday or they'd get sick of it like they have oatmeal. Oatmeal used to be a treat to them, but now they are always happy to have something different.

I wonder if toasted oats on top of yogurt would be any good? I think it would make the kids groan to see it though!


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A preview of my next trip to the ER

Saw this clip tonight, showed it to the boys and they agree it looks like a bunch of fun. We won't do the first one, but the skeet shooting looks like a go if there is no burn ban.


Lamonte, where are you?

On Monday we got our book on cordwood construction and another one on cob, cordwood, strawbale, earthroof and adobe – all in one. Yesterday we were visited by a guy that I am working with on a workforce development project at the EDC and he had three test cylinders for rammed earth construction as well as a book he was going to let me borrow and another magazine on adobe. He and I got into a discussion about this stuff a week or so ago and he wanted me to have one of the test cylinders he had done from soil that he collected about a mile from my house. Rammed earth is essentially the making of sedimentary rock in a form that will be the walls of your house. I am very interested in this option.

Then came a blessing from God. As Melissa and I were sitting on the front porch I noticed that the power pole across the way was down and a guy was unscrewing the cross piece. These poles have been dead as long as we have lived here. I went across the field, found the foreman and asked if I could have the poles. He was very happy to tell me yes and in the coming days we will be getting a bunch of 8” to 9” round poles anywhere from 15’ to 25’ long. They will have plenty of creosote in them and we’ll have to figure out if we can seal that smell off if we use them for cordwood construction, but trusses, timber framing, pole barns and the like would be no real problem. None have been delivered yet and we do not know how many we’ll get (anywhere from a dozen to 400), but just a few of them will represent significant savings for the project as 8”x8”x8’ posts are about $40 a post and none of these are only 8’ long. We also get the 3”x5” cross posts and their insulators.

Excitedly Yours,
Fred Sanford

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Thank You, God

The previous post was written before the big storm rolled through last night. Melissa was at a baby shower for another lady and they broke it off when word came that the cloud rolling in from the west had some rotation in it. I was out putting the chickens up and saw the cloud. I did not see rotation, but it was easy to see the sheets of rain falling from the cloud. Sorry for the Prince reference, but from where I was standing the best description of the rain coming in was a purple rain.

Anyway, we all went into the house, most of the kids were ready for bed anyway, so no big deal. We stood out on the back porch and watched it roll in. First there was rain and great winds, then small hail, then bigger hail, then golf ball size and above. Then the wind stopped. I have been told that when the wind stops in the middle of a storm, and stops suddenly, you’d better take cover. So we all went to the hall and crouched. The hail slowed down while we were in the hall. Instead of 500 golf balls a minute hitting the house there were 200 with a couple of big whops. The big whops turned out to be baseball size hail and they sped up their delivery.

We have a very stout metal roof on the house, so I was not too worried about it. When we were getting the golf ball size we were all saying our little prayers for protection. As the hail got bigger and more violent we began to pray more. There we were, all 10 of us, sitting in the hall while I am praying out loud for God to protect our house, vehicles, animals, animal shelters from harm while baseball size hail is beating the crap out of our roof.

So what happened? God protected everything we have. Nothing was lost to the hail and rain. The three vehicles are all still intact and their windshields are perfect. The cow is fine and gave us over two gallons of milk this morning. The bees are fine. The chickens are all alive and the two chicken tractors show no signs of damage. The dog, cat and guinea all rode out the storm just fine. The internet radar dish on the roof is fine and we had access last night. At some point in the night the tower must have gone out as we did not have access when I wrote this at about 8:00 a.m. I am thinking that the Chamber’s fishing tournament for this morning was probably hurt by the weather, but I will still go out and take a look. First, we have to kill and dress a couple of chickens.


Friday, May 05, 2006

In case you are wondering, still no baby. Contractions are about between 45 minutes and six hours apart and irregular.

This past week has been one of storms. I think we have gotten rain every night since Monday. Some of the winds have been strong and some of the rain totals quite large. I have two rain gauges. One is in the Suburban and one is in the truck. Neither one has recorded much rain this past week.

The rain and mud has taken its toll on my get-up-and-go here on the farm. In the past the weather was never a factor as I worked in an office all of the time and rain or shine there was work to do. I have a daytime job and working at it has been no problem, but working on the farm has been a non-starter. I was talking to guy while I got a tire fixed yesterday and he was saying that it is par for the course. Its rainy and tractors get stuck in the fields and who really wants to get all muddy anyway. Its also late in the season to plant and so there just isn't much of anything going on. So, I don't feel bad about the nap I took this afternoon. Just a rhythm of life deal I was not aware of.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Day 2 of a New House Project - More Thinkin'

The new house is coming along just fine, it is half built and we are arguing about the color of the tile in the bathroom. Or, maybe, we are just trying to figure out what to build. There are regular old stick built houses, steel houses, steel houses converted to a house, cob, adobe, underground, cord, rock, tire, aluminum can, straw bale (Karen M’s favorite), etc., houses that could all fit our needs. The main need is as cheap as possible and we are trying to figure it all out.

Melissa has been saying all along that the land has plenty of mesquite trees and we need to figure out to use them. Mesquite grows in a twisty, useless sort of way for the most part and the ability to get a good beam from it is very limited. Then we came upon the cord wood option. You cut down a mesquite tree and cut the logs into about one foot sections, tear off the bark and use them like bricks, sort of. Here is a picture of a cord wood wall to give you some idea. So, we may have found a big part of the answer, something to do with the mesquite that is useful and a cheap construction material alternative. The big problem that just jumps out at us is that mesquite is prone to termite infestation and we will have to take precautions, so we will.

There is also a good chance we will end up benching the house into the side of one of the berms around the stock tank. Building into the side of the hill will give us a fairly set temperature as a structure about five to six feet deep will have a constant temperature around 60 degrees. We’ll dig deeper into the hillside for a pantry. At least that is what we are considering right now.

Gotta go milk.