Heartwarming Scene

Going about daily activities, I was walking through the living room and this caught my eye: our 5 year old son “reading” a book to our 2 year old daughter. It is moments like this that give such joy and encouragement to a mom!

Kitchen Hut

I mentioned yesterday that we will be starting a catering business. When the opportunity presented itself, John suggested that I see if I could find a building. Craigslist does it again!

I found a great deal on a building that just had to be moved. The building is an older Morgan brand, 20 ft x 20 ft and comes apart into two pieces. After calling around for prices to have it moved, we decided to do it ourselves!

The first step of this process was to take it apart. John and the children spent all day Friday working on it. In late afternoon, the building was in two pieces and John started jacking it up. Everything went fine on the first side but the second side was another story. The ground was soft from a recent rain and not too stable. So as the house was jacked up, the supports tipped and down it went. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the building was also fine. John figured that the mover cost less than an emergency room bill so we decided pay the mover. We already had the permits, he was available and the time was set for Saturday (Nov. 13) at 10:00 am.

Straps were placed under the half of building to be moved and a crane lifted it up, over the backyard fence. There was an alley behind the fence where the trailer was parked.

The mover had a “dump bed” trailer – the bed could be lifted up and whatever is on the bed can be slid or dumped off. The first side was loaded onto the mover’s dump bed trailer.

Since our move was set up on such short notice and the mover’s second large trailer was at another job, the second side was loaded onto our trailer (actually borrowed from a friend) and pulled by our 15 passenger van.

John had already prepared a place for the building about 50 feet from our house. So, once we traveled the ~50 miles, the back side of the building was simply pulled into place.

The side on the mover’s trailer was pulled up next to the first side as evenly as possible.

He then began to raise the bed of his trailer tipping the building.

As he slowly tipped the trailer, his partner drove forward sliding the building off.

The next process was to get the two halves as even as possible.  On his trailer was a wench which he attached a chain to. The chain was wrapped around the base of the front side and used to pull it until the sides were even.

John then used a tractor to push the buildings together.

After the two sides are bolted back together, the building will be leveled and painted.

Time

“Time is so everything doesn’t happen all at once.”

Frank, Late for Dinner

Do you ever feel like everything is happening all at once? I sure do. Life is a whirlwind!

John and I went to a grape grower’s/wine maker’s meeting last week and toured several wineries. While the speaker’s topics over the two day period were interesting, our main purpose was to network – meeting other growers, winery owners and wine makers. Since we have another 15 acres of grapes coming into third leaf next year, it is important to meet those interested in our varieties. And, even if they are not necessarily interested now, things can always change!

Work on our house had been put on hold while the vineyard was put to sleep for the winter. (That means, compost spread and rye planted between the rows of grapes.) But now the windows for the house will be delivered today (Mon., Nov. 14).  After they are installed the house will really be dried in and ONLY the septic system, plumbing, electrical, sheet rock and painting need to be done! I am not so sure we will be in by Christmas but I am remaining optimistic :)

Our oldest daughter is getting married on January 15 and it is coming quickly. Those plans are also moving right along – thankfully! After checking with several caterers, we decided to do the reception dinner ourselves. As we were coming to that decision, I spoke at length with a friend and former caterer here in the area. And stemming from his encouragement…

We decided to go into the catering business too! So, in my spare time ;) that is what I will be doing. We purchased a 20′ x 20′ building to used as our commercial kitchen and moved it this past weekend to our land. The friend made us an offer for his catering equipment and we will pick it up when we finish setting up the building. It will be interesting to see what doors the Lord opens.

Frank said in the movie Late for Dinner, “Time is so everything doesn’t happen all at once.” What do you do when time flies and so much is happening that it becomes a blur?

Stay focused on what is most important!

No More Paper Route!

Newspaper
In “Creative Income“, I described how our family’s frugal adventure included two paper routes to help meet living expenses. It has been 11 months now, 7 days a week, of rising at 4:30am to faithfully deliver the newspapers to our little town. My husband and oldest daughter were the primary carriers but the younger children were included on Sundays to insert the additional advertisements.

Having been a chemist in his former life, John made the routes a science. He experimented with different routes to maximize efficiency and cut time. Once it was made as efficient as possible, they began sleeping an extra hour. Waking at 4:30am instead of 3:30am helped tremendously.

Since the Lord has provided our living expenses for next year through the grape harvest, there will be no more paper route. Yesterday, Oct. 31 was the last day – yeah!

While the younger children, who love to go on Sunday are a bit sad, the rest of the family is rejoicing! I realize, I will no longer be getting the coupon inserts from the Sunday’s paper, but I will have a rested husband.

So, what did we do to celebrate? We made homemade doughnuts. And, we ate doughnuts! We also drank fresh milk to make them even more nutritious.

One big lesson our whole family has learned from the paper route is to appreciate people. It is so easy to take people for granted, especially when they provide services that keep them behind the scenes. Don’t forget to show your appreciation to your paper carrier, mailman, UPS man, trash man …. anyone who serves you. Sure, they get a paycheck. But, it may be less than you think. Either way, a demonstration of appreciation – a tip –  goes a long way to encourage and uplift others. It also gives you the opportunity to show gratefulness.

 

Photo Credit: © Depositphotos.com/robertbyron



These Boots!

Have you heard the song, “These Boots are Made for Walking” sung by Nancy Sinatra, 1966?

That is what our now, two year old thinks about the birthday present her oldest brother and his family gave her – A pair of bright pink croc boots.

She absolutely adores them. For starters, she can put them on herself. She may have them on the wrong feet, but it doesn’t stop her! What could be better?[Continue Reading]

Mouse Trap = Victory!

For those of you who have not had personal experience with the item pictured above, specifically, the mouse trap, more power to you!

We, on the other hand, know the joy of hearing the quiet but telling “click” which signals victory! I love a movie line from Galaxy Quest spoken by Fred after he blows up the rock monster, “It’s the little things in life!”

While living in the country has distinct advantages, one problem is the mice. Being surrounded by cultivated fields, in an older rental house, which does not seal well, we periodically have mice problems. They especially seek shelter after the farmers plow and harvest. (I’m sorry girls – I told the world our secret problem!)

If you have never had the pleasure of setting a mouse trap, the first step is to smear peanut butter on the plastic cheese piece. I don’t know who thought of making a plastic swiss cheese piece – they obviously have never tried to catch a mouse! Mice are not stupid. They know real food and real food smells. So, after experimenting, the mice here in west Texas prefer peanut butter and the plastic swiss cheese piece is where you put it.

After the trap is baited, you very carefully pull the wire thing, that looks like a squared off u, back and latch it with the staight piece of wire. It can be a painful operation if it “clicks” on your finger. Even if it doesn’t “click” on your finger, it scares you half to death! It always amazes me how my fear of the “click” is so disproportional to the pain it actually inflicts!

Once the trap is set, you VERY gently place it in a high traffic area. High traffic, that is, for mice, not people. How do you know where the high traffic area is? You will know by the droppings they leave behind – which is probably how you knew you had mice in the first place. Otherwise, VERY gently place it where you think they are, and … wait. We normally set ours at night because that is when they seem to visit.

To date, our record is 6 mice caught in our kitchen in one evening!

It’s the little things!

Rain, Rain and More Rain!

Finally back to the land of the living! Our internet was knocked out by the thunderstorms which included rain, thunder, lightening and hail. This year we have had 36 inches of rain! That is three times the normal yearly rainfall! Four and a half inches fell in one night. Now, this would not be a big deal in lower Alabama, but here in west Texas, it is a major problem. Streets were flooded and just plain messy. Many crops have been hurt or destroyed.

Most of the chickens were huddled together in the cow palace. But, one, it seemed, needed some time out with its beak to the fence! I think a better time could have been picked. She must have decided so also, because not long after this picture was taken, she too ran for the safety of the cow palace.

The hail was the worst. Had it happened a couple of weeks earlier, we probably would have lost our grapes. By the time the storm was over, the ground was almost covered with pieces of hail ranging in size from 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in diameter.

The saddest thing, though, was the next day driving around while on an errand. The farmers around us had dug peanuts the week before and they were laying on top of the ground drying. Now, being so wet, the peanuts must dry quick enough so as not to rot and be a total loss.

The cotton was much the same story. If it had already been sprayed with a defoliant, much of the cotton bolls were lost in the hail. If it had not been sprayed, some of the cotton had weeped out of the boll, had mud splashed up on it, or had the possibility of being stained by the plant itself from all the water. Any of these sceneries bring a considerably lower prices to the farmer.

While we only lost about 1/3 of the foliage from the vines, others lost so much more. It is a stark reminder of how truly temporal this world and the things in it are if we set our hopes upon it.

The Beauty of the Rainbow

13 “I set my bow in the cloud and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.

14 And it shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud,

15 and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.”     Genesis 9:13

Engagement Announced!

Our oldest daughter is engaged! We knew it was coming and were not surprised but are certainly pleased. I feel like the Lord has answered our prayers in sending her a godly young man. The official proposal (with ring) was October 4th.

Since our son-in-law-to-be had never seen Father of the Bride with Steve Martin, we watched it together (muting a couple of scenes for the younger children) the following weekend. If you have ever seen the movie, you will remember it is told from the father’s perspective. George (Steve Martin) and Nina’s (Diane Keaton) daughter Annie had returned from studying in Rome for the summer. At dinner that evening, she announces she met a man in Rome and they were to be married. George’s expressions as he remembers Annie as a pig-tailed little girl are priceless.

Our pig-tailed little girl certainly has grown up into a godly, beautiful lady. OK, I realize that I am bragging but she is my daughter and, after all, aren’t mothers allowed to that every now and then?

Planning is well underway as the tentative date is January 15, 2011. She has already found a dress. I am not at liberty to disclose details as they might fall into the wrong hands! But, I will say, it is white and I had to choke back tears several times as she tried on different dresses. She is definitely not that pig-tailed little girl in my memories any longer.

The day spent dress hunting really impressed upon me the privilege of motherhood. As a mother, you pray, seek the Lord as you go through the daily routine of life, teach, comfort and the list goes on. Sometimes in the throes of daily life, it is easy to lose focus. I mean to lose sight of what is most important – our children themselves – and not just the “list” that must get done.

In the blink of an eye, you turn around, they are grown and leaving home. Whatever the path the Lord has for them, be it marriage or career, our time with them is so short. Make the most of it!

Aglianico Harvest

The Aglianico grapes are off  the vines and at the winery. Everyone is breathing a big sigh of relief!

Friday we did our final machine harvest of the year, the Aglianico – our latest ripening variety. The day began with the bins being delivered at 2 am. John and the boys met the trucker at the vineyard to unload them. The actual harvest began between 5:30  and 6 am. It is amazing how different the vineyard looks and feels in the light of the stars. It would have been romantic if there were not so much work to be done!

I won’t bore you with the technicalities again – you can read “Our First Machine Harvest” for a few more details. I would like to show some pictures though, so you can see the difference between harvesting in the dark and in the daylight.

Our oldest son drove the harvester again and this is the beautiful view from the top.

Hopefully you can see the grapes dropping from the arm into the chase trailer.

I would love to share with you the sweet flavor of the Aglianico grapes. The brix on these reached 25 meaning they are at 25% sugar – that means, they are wonderfully sweet!

Once the harvest was complete, the bins were loaded into the truck which has returned from another vineyard’s harvest.

There were some precarious moments with the loading, a couple of “almost” mishaps, but thankfully, no bins were lost and no serious injuries sustained.

As you can see, John is very serious minded while moving and loading the bins. Each bin can hold up to 1400lbs so there is a lot of danger.

There was also much speculation as to the total ton-age we were shipping off. We ended up with 14.5 tons which is very good for third leaf vines.

As I watched the truck pull away, I was reminded of a children’s book I have read so many times, “Follow That Truck”. The book follows different trucks, from log to milk trucks, on their journey from picking up the raw product to delivering the sell-able goods. I wanted to follow that truck! Instead, we celebrated by making (and eating) doughnuts!