Moving Along

It’s a story for another day, how we came to be back here, but we are living in Mississippi again in our old house. 

  
I haven’t been able to post on my blog until now because we have almost no internet here and so I’m just going to pick up as of today and go from there. 

We were out of state for two years, six months and one day. My uncle has been taking care of our place here but all the outbuildings are pretty much like we left them. The garden is mostly planted and looking good other than being grassy, but was planted mainly out of habit, not to get the maximum amount of food produced like I always did. I’m still very thankful that someone was here to keep the place up though. 

  
Emily is in the hospital here. Today makes one week she’s been there. She has two blood infections, one of which has settled in her heart and has caused abscesses in her brain. She is forgetting things more every day. Today she forgot our son’s name. Yesterday she couldn’t remember the name of the town she was in. It’s got her depressed and sad. She has also been very moody. The doctors think as they get the fever and infections under control her neurological problems will improve. Right now though it’s just a waiting game. It hurts seeing her suffer but all I can do is be here for her and pray things get better. Today they told me they are expecting to keep her in the hospital in isolation at least a couple of more weeks. 
Tonight she asked me to write our story. She said she is scared she will forget “us”.  I keep telling her things will get better but finally I promised that as I get time I will write our love story. I also promised that if she did ever forget that I would read it to her every single day. Let’s hope she just gets better like the doctors have assured me will happen. The alternative is more than I can bear.

  
The kids are happy here. I’ve never seen them so happy. Laughing, playing, running all over the farm. Yesterday I got the girls registered for school and I earned a whole new respect for all the things Em has always taken care of for me. I have taken too many things for granted. Now that I’m doing all the school stuff, the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, the running errands and paying all the bills… It’s a real eye opener. I think I want to go back to just being the guy that works like a dog then comes home and collapses on the sofa lol. But I will be mommy and daddy too as long as I need to. That’s who I am. 

  
We have been struggling financially since we returned but every day gets a little better on that front. I have some of the most wonderful friends and family. I’ve had family help me with Em, help with the kids, groceries, even offering to help me get the farm cleaned up and going again. I’ve had friends help us financially to pay bills and have gas to run back and forth to see Em. Friends that have given us clothes, furniture, dishes and such and even some critters to help us get the farm going again. We have a wonderful friend and partner taking care of the little pet store we had to leave behind.  I had about forgotten what it felt like to have a support system. Just having a place where we can have friends over just to talk to is wonderful. 

In the past few weeks I’ve went from being a nervous wreck and stressed out of my mind back to being me. The guy that knows he will make it. I have my confidence back, my mojo if you will.  I haven’t really relaxed yet, but I’m getting there. Just being able to go out in the garden and run my fingers through the soil, to walk out to the barn and muck out stalls, to sit on a feed bucket and watch the chickens chase bugs does me much more good than any amount of therapy. 

  
Today I actually got started working on the farm again. I’m having to do what little I can between being at the hospital, taking care of the kids and trying to work at a money making job. Today I tilled up a small area of the garden to get started on a fall planting. I’ll be tilling more and more as the crops we have now are finished. I also cleaned the hallway of the barn and started on the larger stable. I spread several wheelbarrow loads of composted manure on the tilled area of the garden. I hope to have that area planted by this weekend. I also did a bit of sitting in the shade in a broken lawn chair just thinking. 

  
I don’t have a full plan yet but I’m working on it. I do know I will never lose sight again of what really matters. Family. 

Life is tough. But so am I. 

We are going to be ok. 

  

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Back In Mississippi 

Two years, six months and one day in Florida. Now we are back in our old house in Glen Mississippi. 

   
 I’m not going into the reasons for the move, but it was something we had no choice in and something we should have done sooner. We are leaving some wonderful friends but we have to do what we need to for our family. 

I had forgotten how different it is here. People are friendly here. The pace of life is slower. The groceries are half the price they are there. It’s coming home. No other way to say it. 

   
 The second night we were here I needed bread. I drove to the store and came home without bread. I forgot the local grocery store closes at 8pm. But when they are open, they load your groceries in the car for you. They greet you and will even point out sale items or tell you to be sure and stop at the competitions store down the road when you leave because “they got a sure enough good sale on pork this week”. 

Anyway, it’s been hectic since we got back. We left Florida on a Saturday evening and made it home early Sunday morning. Fourteen hours straight driving. 

   
 
Everything is growing here. The peach trees should have been sprayed this spring and they are in need of pruning but are loaded with old-time clingstone peaches. The crabapples, the pears and assorted apples are in danger of breaking the limbs they are so full of fruit. I missed the plums and strawberries but was just in time for the first tomatoes. 

   
 
There are many tomato plants well over six feet high and still growing. Butternut squash, okra, purple hull peas, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, onions, cucumbers, just so much bounty on the old place. 

  
I can’t wait to get started planting the fall garden! 

It does look strange with no critters here. My uncle has three butchering hogs in my old pig pen but there are no chickens, ducks, guineas, peafowl, game birds, geese, doves, pigeons, goats, horses, cows… It just looks bare. We gotta work on that. 

 

But all that is for later. Em is back in the hospital so my time to write is very limited. Once things get straightened out I will be able to post to my blog much more often. 

So today I’m just checking in, I’ll post something a bit more substantial as soon as I can.  

Draggin’

Here it is the beginning of July and I’m dragging instead of running. I’ve had a flare-up with my Crohns the past few days and just can’t get much accomplished when I’m sick and hurting. Over the past few years I’ve learned to live with it, but I’ll never quit hating this disease. As long as I don’t eat I can take it. I’m weak and the pain is pretty bad, but I’m tough. I can take it and pretty much bluff my way through it. After so long with no food I get too weak though and will have to eat, and if I eat it gets bad. So bad it doubles me over in pain, it feels like rats inside me eating their way out. It takes my breath and I can’t help tearing up and sometimes i want to scream. It’s bad. I try to eat and before I can finish a plate of food I have to excuse myself and run for the restroom. Sometimes I even make it. It is so embarrassing and it truly keeps me from having any quality of life when it happens. It makes me ashamed to go anywhere or be around anyone. I’m always scared I will have an accident. Luckily, with proper diet and luck, I can control it to a point and the flare-ups seem to come less often than in the past. I’m not complaining. Lots of folks have bigger problems. But it sure isn’t pleasant.

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I started working on a special rabbit hutch this week for my friend Pat since I couldn’t leave the house. She needs a very large one because she has Flemish Giants and she spoils all her critters. They are already in a cage that most would consider adequate. This one I’m building out of lumber off the sawmill, all custom cuts. It will be eight feet long and three feet wide when I’m done. Between the storms and the Crohns I haven’t been able to finish it, but I’ve got the base ready and most of the frame cut and am working on getting it sanded down and dry fit. I think it will turn out pretty nice. I also have a lamp table I’m working on for her that I need to get finished this week if I can find the money to buy the varnish. It’s made out of a rustic round of white cedar with a bottlebrush post that is covered in burls. The top will be a second piece of white cedar. I’ll try and remember to post pictures of them both when I get them done.

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I’ve been trying to get some of my paperwork done for the farm. Figuring crop plant dates, materials lists, seed orders, trying to figure out a contract for the CSA shares, worrying over harvest dates and variety numbers and other fun stuff. Emily is stressing over money again, so I know I’ve got to get things rolling so she will see and understand I’ve got this. I know what I can do, I’ve just got to get it going.

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My biggest expenses starting out will be just staying afloat and paying my bills until the crops come in. The tree service is always dead during the hot part of the summer. Next will be getting the beds built and the soil brought in and amended. Other stuff like the clearing, cleaning, seeds, a few tools and such will be fairly minor expenses. Some of it will be a heck of a lot of hard, backbreaking work, but won’t cost all that much money.  I know I want to start delivering the first week in October but I need to decide on how long the season will last. I’d like to do a 40 week season, from October through June, but It might be better to break that into two seasons, Fall and spring. So many choices. I’m still thinking I want to stay with $25.00 shares, but I might be better off to go a bit higher and do either bigger shares or more variety in a share. From my research, the biggest reason people are unhappy with a CSA is they get too much stuff. Doesn’t make any kind of sense to me, but that’s the number one complaint I’ve read. I’d prefer to give too much though as to not give enough.

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I really don’t want to get rich. I only want to make a living. To be able to pay my bills and buy what groceries we can’t raise. To keep some kind of roof over our heads. I’m a farmer. I’m no stranger to 12 hour days and being poor. Like everyone else though, I have to provide for my family. I know once I get going I’ll have sales at the farmer’s markets, a few animal sales, sales of incidentals like eggs, milk, butter, cheese, fiber and I even have a market for any vegetable trimmings for animal food. I plan on as soon as I can adding cut flowers, herbs and spices. I’ll have my woodwork, my cages and animal enclosures and any side work I do. My main goal is my garden though. That’s where it all starts. I’m thinking if I could get around 25 customers I could make a go of it. I already have 5 steady customers, so I would need at least 20 more. Can I get them? And can I get at least a few to pay the fee up front like most CSA’s instead of by the week? I really want to keep it accessible to everyone. I know a lot of folks just can’t afford to pay up front, and I’m ok with that. I do however need enough to get going and I refuse to go around begging for a loan. I’m damn well not going to do it. I’ll either make it or not on my own merits. If I can’t figure out a way to do it without begging like a dog for a bone I’ll just raise enough for my family and my new friends who are renting me the place and forget the rest. I’m going to figure it out though. I’m stubborn that way. I remember many years ago when I first opened my auction my brother came to see me. He sat and watched me for a while then told me he finally figured out why I always made a go of whatever I tried to do. He said “you are just too stupid to know when you are beat. You never quit, so you always make it work”. I guess he was right. I know I’ve never been a quitter.

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I’m hoping I’ll get this illness under control soon and get back to work. I’m so excited to get started, to see things start coming together. It will be a happy day when I can post pictures of current crops instead of these pictures of my last garden. I know in my heart I’ll wake up one morning and be able to just breathe again. I’ll know my family is taken care of and that I’ve got my crops and my critters so I never have to worry about being without again. There are so many things I still need to do, but it’s getting there. I’ll just do this like you eat an elephant… One bite at a time.

I’m happy. Life is good.