Sunday, March 27, 2016

Up With The Chickens

Hi there, Farmer Bob back at you again.  I'm gaining an even larger respect for farmers.  Oh, wait, don't get the wrong impression.  I've always respected our farmers and the work they do, but now that I'm doing more farming, in a sense of the word, than most, I'm gaining more respect for the unsung heroes of the fields.

We (the average person) are a casual people. We scratch the surface ground, cast a few marigold or zinnia seeds on the dirt, water them and a few plants grow. We toss maybe 50-60 seeds and get 10 or 20 plants.

Now, consider the farmer. He plants acres upon acres of soybeans, corn, or wheat. He's out there plowing, disking and sowing.  Up at dawn, back home at sunset - if he is lucky.  He has purchased bags and bags of seeds.  If only half of them come up, he is losing money.

Okay, I'm not quite that involved in farming.  BUT, I do have my garden and chickens.

I started my flowers and vegetable seeds.  Last year my greenhouse ripped and I had to toss it.  This year I am attempting to grow plants without it.  Not the best thought-out idea, I'll admit.  My seeds are coming up real lanky - falling over.  I planted 10 expensive petunia seeds.  My return, at this time, is like 4 plants - maybe, if they continue to survive.  My tomatoes are like about 2 inches tall.  Uh, this is before the first true leaves even show.  Not good, but I think when I transplant them, maybe I'll be able to plant them deeper and that will help.  One can hope, yes?

Chickens.  My boys have started the chicken coop but haven't been able to finish it because of other "fires" to be addressed.  I originally bought 8 Red Rock pullets (aka egg-laying hens when they grow up) and a week later, found five ISA chicks (meat chicken) for $.50 each.  They are now about 1 month old. They no longer can make it one day when I fill their water or feed station.  I have to refill it multiple times each day.  I'm a busy farmer.

If that wasn't enough work for Farmer Bob, I went to the store today to get a larger water bucket and feed dispenser for the extremely maturing chickens.  Notice I didn't call them chicks.  They've lost the cute fluffiness and are getting their true feathers.  They're really looking nice.

Well, guess what?  They had some left-over chicks on sale.  So I bought another ten chicks.  Of course, they can't be placed with the older chickens at the current time, so they are now living in a huge 50-gallon long aquarium.  They should be able to live there until next weekend.  Hopefully, by that time, the new coop will be done and the original chickens can be moved to the coop and these new chicks moved to the 4x8 pen in the basement for a couple of weeks until they are large enough to move outdoors.

LOL.  By that time, I'll probably buy another ten or so chicks and hopefully have all my chicken stock purchasing finished.

As I write this, I randomly stare out my window at the backyard and well, dream.  I see a pumpkin and squash bed developing for this summer.  It is the old garden and I just can't grow things in it since it is too close to the woods and wildlife seems to enjoy the harvest before I get to it.  But, pumpkins and squash, they should do well out there since raccoons and possum hate to pussyfoot through vines.

I'm wondering exactly how Farmer Bob will interact with Traveling Bob?  I can take the pet dog along on a trip in the RV - but chickens?  Sure, I could get them harnesses, but I can only imagine how I'd look walking my chickens at an RV park.  Think I'm kidding? Check out the harnesses at this site.  Then again, I might make a dashing look with my brown chickens and white chickens in different colored harnesses.  Imagine, fresh eggs when traveling.

Of course, one can only wonder how Author Bob is going to handle the shenanigans of Farmer Bob and Traveling Bob?  Parent Bob is just shaking his head.

See? Farmers do have a sense of humor.

Until next I ramble on...

Sunday, March 20, 2016

SO, Who Are You?

This past week I was asked an interesting question.

Who are you?  What makes you so special and sets you aside from others?

My first mental response was - I'm a writer.  I blurted it.  Yes, I said it aloud. There was no take-backs, no side-stepping my answer.

The response from my verbal attacker caught me ill prepared.  Well, whoop-de-doo! There are other writers, you're not the only one. They could have stopped at that point, but they continued. "And some of them write better than you! So, again, what makes you so special?"

Okay, I had to do some fast mental straining of the few working cells I had left. This person wasn't going to be put off so easily and/or so quickly.

I'm a husband to a wonderful wife.  You're not the only guy to wear a wedding ring, dude.

I'm a father of four sons.  There are other fathers out there, that's no big whoop!

I'm a grandfather to ten wonderful children. Again, there are other grandfathers with great children.

I'm a great-grandfather to two children plus a set of twins on the way. Yeah, big whoop! Try again.

I'm a Christian.  I'm retired.  I served my country in the Navy.  I garden.. I travel... I... I... I...

What DOES make me special? What designates me as special and not to be confused with my neighbor or friend?

Somebody said how I appear makes me unique. Unfortunately, that doesn't hold water, either.  I've met my doppelganger and it was a really weird experience.  I was in the Navy and was being waved at and spoken to by total strangers who acted like they knew me. It was a person from my barracks who started me on the path to discovery of my look-alike. He'd seen me at a bar in Fresno, CA and I ignored him. I was able to prove I wasn't at the bar - 1) I wasn't quite old enough at the time and 2) I had 3 buddies who I'd went to the theater with that night and played cards with until 1 AM.  Then this mystery person strolled into the mess hall while I was there. He was almost a year older than me and, for all practical purposes, the spitting image of me. But, I digress.  So much for looks.

After an immense amount of thought on the question, I could only come up with one answer.

It is the combination of all these things that make me the unique person I am. It is my likes and dislikes which I have the right to change as often as I desire. It is my looks, which I can change, and, of course, my heritage which I can't. It is my ancestors and my descendants. It is my accomplishments, my failures, and my dreams.

There is no one individual item that makes me unique. I can only think of one man to have lived and have one attribute to set him from others and that would be Jesus who died on the cross for our sins.

For many Christians, this week is considered a Holy Week to commemorate the final trials, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Take the time this coming Easter Sunday to attend church and celebrate his defeat of Death.  For those who aren't of the Christian persuasion - may I ask you attend the worship center of your choice and recommit yourself to your faith.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, March 7, 2016

Go Fly A Kite

March. The month when the wind comes in with a fury. Perfect for kite flying. But, if truth be told, a kite just strings you along. Then, in one last leap of desperation, it plummets to the earth in a crash… uh, usually into trees, telephone/electrical lines or some other obscure location.

Rather than being strung along, may I suggest a book instead? Right now my novel “Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold” is on sale at for only $2.99 – that is in honor of the Leprechauns. After all, in addition to flying kites, we celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the wearing of the green. My book takes place in Ireland (also Washington, DC and Sherwood, OH) with the leprechauns prepping for battle against the dwarves. Strange thing, tho, dwarves can be leprechauns, leprechauns can be giants or, wait a minute, even elves? Well, read the book to find out all these mysteries since nothing appears as it would seem to be. Blink your eyes and they’re gone. Save some green ($2.00) and simply take Three Steps… to a tale of wonder.

Continuing on the kite theme - my health.  I'm about to fly a kite and let it crash but I'm going to stick it out.  I've been having all kinds of problems getting my sugar controlled this month.  One day it is 85 first thing in the morning, the next day it is 199. The doctor wants me to go on insulin, and I'm fighting the option... it seems so final. I have until 3/18 to get this under control.
I visited with the nephrologist. Very interesting. Of course, it also plays back on my diabetes with my kidney issues. Basically, the meds. Get my blood sugar under control and maybe the other issues will correct themselves - sort of.
Something tells me I need to watch my diet very closely. What I think is "safe" to eat, may not be. I found a "diabetic" recipe which included rice. Okay, it used brown rice and I didn't have any, so I used white rice. Needless to say, my blood-sugar sky-rocketed. I will try it again, but with the brown rice. Also, I think quantity is playing a major role here, too. I need to learn to cut back my portion sizes on some things. I can have as much celery, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, and some beans. Carrots (I love carrots!) are limited. The good thing, I like broccoli and cauliflower, so I don't mind eating them. In fact, I've learned to switch out cauliflower "rice" for white rice in many recipes... and it is good.
The one thing the nephrologist told me that plunged a knife into my heart - no soy sauce. I have to watch my intake of sodium and soy sauce is OUT. She did say I could "maybe" cheat once or twice a month with a sprinkle of soy sauce on my Oriental meals when I go out to eat. Guess I should mention I enjoy stir fry immensely. I mean, I cook - did you catch that? - I cook at least one, if not two stir fry meals every week. I've learned to cut out or back the sugar on many of the sauces but now, soy sauce, too? {staggers back in mock heart attack} 
On the farmer front - imagine my surprise when I walked out into the utility room the other day to see one of the baby chicks sitting on the aquarium tank's edge. Fortunately, it was still pondering the idea of flying (tumbling?) from that height to the floor where our pet dog, a Shih Tzu, waited anxiously to play with it. I grabbed it, put it back into the aquarium and found a makeshift wire cover for the top. I don't believe my boys will get the new coop built in time since it is snowing outside right now. So, I will go to the store for 4x8 sheets of plywood to create a roomy space for them to grow. Each chick needs approximately 3-4 square feet of space when fully grown. I have 8 chicks. So that means 32 square feet. Wow!  4x8=32. Great! 4 sheets of plywood should give me a mini-coop 4 ft wide by 8 ft long by 4 ft high. Plenty of space for them. Oh, and it will have a wire roof.  When I put the wire on top of the aquarium, you could see the little chicks looking up at the new "sky" - they were already plotting their next escape... I'm sure.
Until next I ramble on...