Thursday, October 30, 2008

University of Mobile Visitors

Two Visitors From UM

On Thursday October 16th, we had a visit by two of our favorite red heads, our baby granddaughter, Ashley and another of our "Other Younguns, Hanna (really from Montana!).

Both of these girls know that they're welcome to the farm at any time they desire to come. Again, Grandmother knew just what to cook that is each one's favorite food. Hanna has been up several times with Ashley, so Grandmother had already stored in her "Favorite Foods for All Younguns, Grand Younguns and Other Younguns library in her head's food file!

I think that they knew that our visitors from Auburn were coming in the next day and they decided to come on in and get their share while there was a good supply of groceries on hand!!!

Both of these young ladies are musicians. Hanna plays viola in the UM Orchestra and some other groups and teaches violin to several young students. She is a Music Major. Ashley is our Vocalist grandchild and sings with the UM Choirs. She is a Music Minor student. Both make beautiful music in their own realm.

We were really honored to have them with us for the day and hope they will come back more often.

On previous visits by these two, they have made similar ventures to the dirt pit, cemetery, etc. that the Auburn group did on their visit. As soon as they got to the pit, both tossed their shoes aside and played in the sandy soil.

So, we wound up with nine grand younguns and other younguns within 3 days and did we have a ball!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Auburn Younguns' Vistit

What a Great Weekend!

What a fun weekend we had at Lonesome Pine Farm when seven Auburn University kids came for a visit over the weekend of October 17 - 19th.

Bradley had asked if he could bring some of his friends from school to the farm on this weekend. Of course, we readily agreed as we love to have any of our grandchildren to feel a part of the farm and to bring friends in to show them how the Old Folks live. This makes us proud that they feel comfortable doing so.

On Friday night two groups headed from the Loveliest Village on he Plains at different times. One group of two young ladies and Bradley that were able to get away about 3 pm. The other group of three guys and one young lady couldn't get away until around 6. Each group had some pretty bad driving conditions caused by light rains and quite a bit of fog for the second group. But, they all made it safe and sound. Sound!?!?!?!

The young ladies were Jordan Dailey of Trussville, AL, Kenda Early of Moundville, AL and Chelsea Ferguson of LaGrange, GA.

The guys were Charles Gentry of Houston, TX, Hunt Prothro of Miami and Connecticutt, Forest White of Mobile, and Bradley Hughes our Grandson.

When each group arrived we told them, "I'm Grand Paw and this is Grandmother." This was to put them at ease and to let them know that we'd done our usual "adoption" of them as "our other younguns." So, that was the way it went all weekend.

Grandmother had thought up all things that Bradley likes to eat and did a good job of guessing what the others would like. This is some special talent that Grandmothers have that us old Grand Paws don't have a clue to! So everyone was well fed before heading off to bed.

We had planned to let the girls sleep in the middle and front bedrooms and the guys sleep on the front porch and on pallets in the dining room. But, the girls decided to sleep 3 to the bed in the middle bedroom. That gave plenty of bed room for the guys not to sleep on the floor.

The adventures began on Saturday morning after a big breakfast so well planned out by Grandmother. As noted, she had everything from cereal, to eggs, grits, sausage and biscuits with all the fixings.

A little later they all decided to go down to the pond to check it out. Sylvia had come by for a few minutes and we decided to ride down so she could meet them all. When we got there, there were two of the guys up in the two pines on Jose's island who had a "damsel in distress" kidnapped over there. (They were making a movie on a little digital camera!) Captain Sport was aboard the Duncan ship and was leading the good guys over to rescue the DD (distressed damsel) !!! (Wild imaginations!)

Well, somehow, the Villains managed to escape across the flat and down to the swampland along Dunbar Creek. The chase continued all along the beaver dams and unknown numbers of water moccasins in that wilderness. They finally were spotted along the edge of the hayfield but they disappeared under the bridge. By the time the search party made it back to LPF headquarters, several were pretty scratched up and one had a number of fire ant bites. (A little Campho Phenique stopped the burning from the bites.)

After a great dinner (lunch for yankees) where Grandmother had good eats piled high on the dining table and everyone "et hardy!" Word got around that the Scalawags had been spotted at Sylvia's Quarry, so the pursuit continued.

Grand Paw transported them up the hill in Aunt Sylvia's old green pickup so they could still have enough energy to chase the Culprits up and down cliffs and earthen mountains. After about an hour of chasing, climbing, hopping, and jumping it was determined that the Meanies had been seen headed down past Providence Church and up to the community burial grounds on both sides above Duncan Hill.

Grand Paw transported them up to the cemetery where they scouted all over both sides to visit the internment sites of our ancestors and all the wonderful workers that worked on the farm over our lifetimes such as Lucy, Dennis and family, Tommy, Florence and Willie. The Baddies were finally captured as they emerged from an old gopher hole in the side of the cemetery where they'd crawled into and the old gopher turtle ran them out!!

After a session of Q & A and confession and apologies from the Criminals, they were judged to be ok guys. Then all of them "took in the town" of Millry. That took about 3 minutes!!! They made an appearance into Sookie's Convience Store and were "well looked over" by the customers there. They came home and ate supper, then decided to go back for another few minutes to finish up their exploration. They made pictures by the Halloween "Spider" made of a big roll of hay and black flexible drain pipes near City Hall. Then they ended the visit very appropriately by photographing themselves around the Caboose.

On Sunday morning, Grandmother led a procession of seven scrubbed up Other Younguns through the sanctuary and back to the College and Career Sunday School Classroom. Two of the guys had to leave between SS and Worship as one had to be back in Auburn to set up for services there that night. The others stayed for Worship, then back to Lonesome for dinner and preparing to head back the the Lovely Village.

We really did hate to see them leave. We thoroughly enjoyed their visit and are looking forward to another time when our newly adopted Other Younguns can return to the Old Folks Place.

E A G L E ! ! !

Note: I tried to insert some pictures of our Other Younguns into this blog but they worldn't work right.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Big Dance at Our House

We Had a Big Dance at Our House last Friday

We had been to Mobile all day last Friday, July 11th, to buy kitchen supplies and food stuff for VBS and other meals at the church. We loaded the church bus pretty heavily with the stuff for the kitchen. We got back to the church about 3 and got all the stuff unloaded and placed in the kitchen. Then, JoAnne and I came on home and rested a couple of hours before going back to the church to take choir members and spouses to Jordan's Fish Camp for an outing.

About 5 p.m., I noticed some heavy clouds beginning to appear to the west. Soon I began to hear some thunder. So, I shut my computer down and told JoAnne she should do the same. She wasn't moving very fast and I happened to be near her computer a few minutes later, so I turned her computer off.

Soon after that, about 5:30, we heard an instant boom along with the flash of lightening. I knew it had hit very close and looked around to see if anything was amiss. It was getting time to go to the church to get the bus out and go to Jordan's, so we headed on out in a very hard downpour of rain.

When we got home, I turned my computer on and found that it wouldn't get on line. I didn't think too much about that as it was a pretty common thing. JoAnne checked hers and she said that it wouldn't even come on. About that time, I realized that the phone lines were messed up and the coffee maker in the kitchen was off. The next day, I discovered that the well pump wasn't running.

To make a long story short, we took her computer to Best Buy in Mobile and they found that the motherboard was fried. Then we had them retrieve all the data from it. The phone company made 3 trips out here to get the problems fixed. Finally, they replaced the DSL line and we're replacing all the phones. We have replaced the coffee maker and had the pump serviced. And, we have ordered JoAnne a new Dell computer. There was no problem with her monitor, printer or speakers so we didn't order new ones.

Now, we have to settle up with our insurance agent to agree on the amount they'll cover of the $1,689.51 cost to get everything back up and running. There may be one or two other problems. One in particular is the possibility that the router that connects our comuters could be fried!

We're thankful that there wasn't any fire or anything more serious from the strike, and are thankful for insurance to cover most of the replacement costs.

I know that it is not true, but I'm in hopes that lightening will not strike in the same place twice!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Mystery of The Lost Keys

"Where Are My Keys?"

Upon returning to Millry after our wonderful trip to Lubbock, TX for our granddaughter Cassie's wedding and getting to do our share of spoiling our Great Granddaughter, Button (Laura Kate Wiley), we stopped by the Post Office to retrieve a week's pile of mail.

JoAnne started to get her keys to open the PO Box. "Have you seen my keys?" "No." "I can't find them." Maybe they're in your other purse, we'll check on them when we get home."

Well, after we got home, we looked in both purses, through all the dirty clothes, in all the pockets in my briefcase and the suitcases, under the car seats, called the Motel where we stayed in Pearl, MS, called Andy and Robin. No keys!

I talked with Andy Thursday on our way back from Mobile for a doctor's appointment, and he said that they'd looked for them some around their house and in their car...No keys! He said that he'd do some more looking after he got home. On our way back home, I talked with the Ford place about replacement costs for the car key.... $29 for the key and $39 to program it to the car's computer. The PO key replacement is $70. The safe deposit key at the bank $90+. Plus, we will have to replace 2 church keys, 2 house keys, key to DTAB's house and a few more. Expensive loss!

About 6 Thursday evening, Andy called and said, "Found them!" They were in his office and something had been laid over them. JoAnne had apparently had them in her hands while in Andy's office Sunday and for some unknown reason had laid them down. Why? We have no clue.

But, we were feeling better than the Alka Seltzer commercial... "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, Oh, what a relief it is" when Andy called.

It is amazing how some habits allow us to automatically do various things, then when we break the cycle of those habits, wild things happen!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Big John & John Boy

New Kid on the Farm !!!

Well, the old Craftsman riding mower has lost it's last wheel! I recently got tired of all the little problems that I've had with that mower and did something about it. There was constantly the problem that when I'd bump anything with one of the mower deck wheels, the wheel axle bolt would break off. I have replaced over 30 bolts and about 8 wheels. At other times, the wide roller on the front of the mower deck would lose it's retainer pin and break off. Twice the right front wheel bracket on the mower broke off and I had to weld it back on. Sears replaced the lift arm that raises and lowers the mower deck under warranty. I had to replace the fuel lines once. Other than that, it did fairly well!
Then one day, the drive belt came off and hung up. That was the magic broken straw!

I did some research on line and called the John Deere dealer in Lucedale, MS where I bought the big tractor. They gave me a price that they require from any place that sells mowers of $1,999.00 on a similar tractor/mower with a 48" cut width. So we took the trailer with one day when we had doctors appointments in Mobile and headed to Lucedale on our way home. It has a 48" mower deck, shuttle transmission and a 22 hp, two cylinder engine. And, of course, it is John Deere Yellow and Green!

I took the Craftsman to State Line, MS to a repair shop and they replaced the battery and drive belt at a cost of $118. Then I decided to make one more roadside cut with the Craftsman. When I got back to the shop, I discovered that the blades were completely worn out and one was bent down at each end. So, I had to order blades at a cost of $82. I knew I'd have to have good blades on it in order to be able to sell it.

A couple of weeks later, I cleaned it up really good and put a sign on the front listing it for sale for $650. After about a week, a guy that works for the City called and said that he wanted it and asked if I'd take $625 for it. So, being a kindhearted fellow, I "LET ER GO!"

As usual, I name things, animals and people, so I named it "John Boy" as the big tractor has the name of "Big John."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Ribs

We hadn't had any folks in for a meal in quite a while so, while at Sam's Club in Mobile on Thursday, we saw some good looking racks of ribs. We bought two packs of two racks each.

Friday morning, JoAnne cut each rack in two and put some type "rub" on them to season them.
I put three chips of mesquite about the size of my little finger that I'd been soaking in water, near the heating element before starting to cook. I put the ribs on the smoker about 10:00. I checked on them a couple of times to make sure that they were cooking okay, and checked the temperature to be sure they were nearing the magic temperature of 170 to 175 degrees.

About 5:45, the temp was just right, so I took them up and brought them inside. Then we cut each riblet apart and stacked them on a large platter. Sib and Morris and Harold and Margaret Hartley came in around 6:00. The ribs were still warm and we were ready to eat. I think everyone, especially me, had "ample suffiency" of ribs, sauteed squash and onions, asparagus, creamed red potatoes, rolls and some really good rib sauce to slather on the ribs. I didn't put sauce on them while cooking as some folk like them without it.

I think I had the largest pile of bones left on my plate at the end of the meal! I don't think anyone left without going through a pretty large pile of good, gnawed bones!

All this wonderful meal was capped off with a plate of cheesecake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.


Sib and Morris left after supper, and the Hartleys and us played one game of Continental Rummy and one of Ups.

What a pleasant evening!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Rotten Dog

A new addition to our home occurred on Thanksgiving weekend, 2006 when Andy and Robin brought a very loving, year old dachshund named Winston. He is a “yard dog,” meaning three feet from the tip of his tail to the end of his nose. But, he is really a “house dog.”

One of the first things we did was to give him a new name. We brainstormed a large number of names, but none fit like JoAnne’s name for him as Sport. He is a sport alright with personality to boot.

He was mostly house broken and trained in several other things. One thing is that if we pick up a leash, he really gets excited because he knows that he’s going somewhere! He loves to ride and wants to go with me any time I head for my pickup truck.

JoAnne said that she really didn’t ever want another “house dog” but looking in those sad eyes, Sport won her heart as he did mine. He has truly become a member of our family. He loves to go to Mobile and visit his “cousin” Rusty, a long hair miniature dachshund. Both of them really play well with each other. Also, he and Lady, our long hair yellow dog that showed up at our house almost 7 years ago. They play and tussle around many times a day. Even though she is 6 times larger than he is, he never backs off to her and takes his tumbles in stride.

He loves to hop up in my recliner and jump against the back until he gets the back leaned back so he can climb atop the chair to get near me while I’m at my computer. He loves attention and loves to give attention. He can almost talk with you with those big brown eyes.

He’s a good Auburn fan and gets excited when the football team scores a touchdown. I’ll say, “Touchdown Auburn!” and he’ll start jumping around and yipping, indicating that he’s happy too! He still can’t come out with the words, “Mama” yet although he does get excited and yips when I try to get him to say it!

He loves to cuddle up with either of us in our lap and napping. Lots of the time, he will get one of his toys and bring it up in our lap to lay his head on when he naps.

He minds really well except when he has a hot trail of a rabbit or something and goes running off trailing whatever it is. If I call him back, he just keeps on going, but if I say, “Bye Sport!” he immediately comes back just as happy as can be. I guess he thinks he’s going to get to ride somewhere. When we leave home for any period of time, a few minutes, a couple of hours or all day, we put him in our bath room. He doesn’t seem to mind going in there to his bed. We always keep food and water bowls filled, but when he is in there alone he never eats, drinks or messes. I think he does play with his toys some.

If JoAnne and I embrace for a kiss, he will try to get between us and bark to let us know that he wants “sugar” too! He loves to give us “sugar” but when I say, “OK,” he hops down.

He has really become a huge part of our lives and JoAnne doesn’t mind the fact that he is a “house dog.” Of course, he enjoys being outside playing with Lady or digging holes trying to dig up moles which he did one time and brought it to the back door!

He is SOME Sport!!!!! Sport and Cousin Rusty!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Look at Vehicle Gasoline Usage and Pricing

April 24, 2008

I have kept records on all the gasoline used in my last 5 pickup trucks, so I decided I’d work up the amounts of gasoline used in each vehicle, how much I’ve spent on gasoline and the average prices per gallon on each truck. It is quite interesting considering the enormous amount we are now paying for gasoline.

I had a 1977 Ford F-100 pickup that I bought used on 2/28/80 and traded it off on 3/1/85. I put 39,846 miles on that truck; used 2,847 gallons of gas for a cost of $3,465.95. I averaged 14.0 miles per gallon and spent from $1.039 to $1.329 per gallon for the gas.

On 3/1/85, I bought a used 1982 Ford F-100 pickup and traded it off on 1/21/89. I put 33,050 miles on that truck; used 2,458.7 gallons of gas for a cost of $2,564.47. I averaged 13.4 miles per gallons and spent from $0.889 to $1.099 per gallon for the gas.

On 1/21/89, bought a new 1989 Ford Ranger 4X4 and traded it off on 2/7/96. I put 139,242 miles on that truck; used 7,229.2 gallons of gas for a cost of $10,339.00. I averaged 19.2 miles per gallon and spent from $0.719 to $1.179 per gallon for the gas.

On 2/7/96, I bought a new 1996 Ford F-150 Super Cab and traded it off on 7/16/07. I put 226,380 miles on that truck; used 15,223.9 gallons of gas for a cost of $26,316.43. I averaged 15.76 miles per gallon and spent from $0.719 to $3.199 per gallon for the gas.

On 7/16/07, I bought a 2007 Program Ford F-150 Super crew. I still have that truck. I have put 15,087 miles on this truck; used 957.1 gallons of gas for a cost of $2,306.32, I have currently averaged 15.76 miles per gallon and have spent from $2.549 to $3.399 per gallon for the gas.

During the –years from 2/28/80 to today, the cost of gasoline has increased from a low of $0.719 to today’s cost of $3.599 per gallon, an increase of $2.78 per gallon with no end in sight as the prices soar daily for as much as $0.22 per gallon per day. The real kick in the head (and wallet) to all this is that the big oil conglomerates are making unheard of profits into the Billions per quarter year.

With the five trucks, I have driven 453,605 miles for a cost of $71,380.50!

These exorbitant prices are sending ALL things we have to purchase from gas to food, clothing, vehicles, building materials, tires, etc. through the roof. It especially hurts us retirees that are on fixed incomes. I don’t have a clue as to how high these prices will continue to skyrocket, especially if we elect a Democrat President and Congress that are promising huge tax increases that will further escalate all prices and cause this country to go into a real depression.

I don’t have a clue as to how we can turn this do nothing, spend, and spend government around. If anyone has a clue, please cue me in!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Killer Frost

Yesterday morning, we had a huge, white, killer frost with temperatures of around 30 degrees. All the vegetation around the yards was beginning to bloom out and some sprouting leaves. The Wisteria vines across the west side of the new shop had bloom buds beginning to open up, but in the afternoon, they only hung wilted on the vines with no apparent life. The J-berry (an improved mulberry) tree was loaded with small berries and budding leaves. In the afternoon, it looked like someone poured hot water on them as they were all brown and lifeless. The bridal wreath bushes all around the yard were beginning to bloom out, but were turning brown by afternoon. This was true at most all other shrubbery around the yards. Even though the pear trees are usually susceptible, our tree had pretty well "bloomed" and leafed out, I don't think it was bothered very much by this frost. Also, I don't think it hurt the azaleas as they had only began to bloom around the bottoms of the plants. All 4 dogwood trees were abloom, but it doesn't look like they suffered much damage.

As we were growing up, it seemed like every year, there came what was called "an Easter snap" that would kill back trees, flowers and shrubs. While we lived in East Tennessee, the saying there was called "Easter Winter!" I'd never heard the many other names for cool snaps in South Alabama, but it seems that Tennessee had several names. There would be "Dogwood Winter," "Blackberry Winter," and several other "Winters" each time we would have a cool spell.

We can come up with many names for cool spells in the Springtime, but only God knows when, why and how these things occur and we have absolutely nothing to do with them.

We just know that we should enjoy all the beauty that God gives us while all his plants paint a new and wonderful picture of the start of another Springtime.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Wedding

On Saturday, March 15, 2008 the first of three additions to our family was completed. Joel Andrew Wood and Ashley Elizabeth Hawthorne were married at Woodland Place Baptist Church in Magnolia, TX (a Houston suburb). The wedding was beautiful and Andy did a great job or conducting the ceremony.

After a long period of photo taking, they came in for the reception in a fellowship hall that was immaculately decorated. When they got ready to leave, they walked through a lineup of rose petals tossed by the waiting crowd to send them off. They were to stay in Houston that night, then fly out to Cancun, Mex. Sunday.

As I noted above, this was the first of three big events scheduled in our family, particularly Andy's family, to add three people to our family.

Carrie and Kyle Wiley, our oldest granddaughter and husband are expecting the birth of a new daughter, Laura Kate Wiley around May 9th. Of course, we're all excited about the upcoming birth of our first great grandchild that I'm already calling "Button."

The third event will be the marriage of Cassie Wood, our second granddaughter is scheduled to marry Curtis Thomas in Lubbock on June 21st.

This will make 3/5 of our grands to be "hitched" We're not pushing the other two to do so for a while yet as both of them are in college.

The Lord has blessed us with by giving us a fine daughter-in-law and a good son-in-law and they have joined our son and daughter to give us five super grandchildren. Now they are branching out forming families of their own and are following His leadership in their careers.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Scuppernong Arbor

The Old and the New

There have been two scuppernong vines in our back yard since long before I can remember. They were located out past the chicken house in my younger days, right near the lonesome apple tree. Oh the days when we would see a little apple on that tree and we'd watch them grow. But, we seldom had the patience to wait until they were ripe before we picked them and ate them in their sourest state! But, that's another story.

Daddy did some fence relocating and finally the vines needed to be relocated. So, he and Mother decided to put them in the old chicken yard; one about 200 feet from the house and one about 150 feet from the house. Well, they just sat there! Very little growth and seldom any fruit was produced for several years. Then, Mother convinced Joe and Fred to get some chicken manure, spread it all around the base of the vines, then "dig it in" all around. Wow! Did they ever decide to grow!

Again, for many years before I came along, there was a "cattle gap" in the driveway made from four inch diameter boiler pipe. A new livestock law had been passed in the area prohibiting the free roaming of cattle, horses, hogs or any other livestock, so Daddy took down the old yard fences which made the old cattle gap unneeded any longer. So he took nine of those pipes, had them welded into a "U" shape and made supports for scuppernong vines. After setting them in the large holes in the ground, about three feet deep, he poured concrete around them to keep them erect. Then he stretched net wire across them providing an arbor for the vines to grow. The arbor was about six feet wide and about 40 feet long.

That worked pretty well, but the vines kept growing so much that more arbor space was needed. So, Daddy added another six feet to the width of the arbor with wooden posts. The major drawback to this arbor was that by the time the vines had intertwined into the net wire it was almost impossible to get your hands up through the wire and vines to pick the fruit. Also, the metal pipes had rested out and some of the wooden posts beginning to rot. So, it was time to rework the old arbor.

I had gotten an old greenhouse frame made of two inch diameter arches and the necessary straight piping to hold a greenhouse together. When my brother-in-law and I started to take the greenhouse down, there were tow "shelves" built out of 1 1/4 inch pipe that was 20 feet long and four feet wide consisting of five long pipes and five short pipes to make it into a "frame." The shelves were used to support "flats" of new plants. I got to thinking about how to replace the old arbor and it dawned on me that I already had the perfect arbor already assembled.

I got busy, cutting the old vines back, and the cutting the old rusty net wire off the frames; being careful not to cut the main large vines off too short to weave into the new frames. I called my cousin who owns a florist shop in town and asked if she could use a big bunch of grape vines to make wreaths with. Of course she could. She wound up with two huge pickup truck loads of vines. That was good as I didn't have to haul them off and they were useful to her. Then i tore out all the framing and was able to retain four good posts to use on the new arbor.

I decided not to build a new vertical frame type arbor to make it easier to pick the fruit. I had gotten an old power pole that was just the correct length to make three posts long enough to put them deep enough to be sturdy and still leave the tops of them eight feet tall. I spaced the posts 20 feet apart and hanged the frames on the posts. Then I took the four good wooden posts from the old arbor and spaced two of them between the large posts and anchored them to the frames for support. This made a great, vertical arbor.

I fertilized the vines and we had about a month or so of fairly frequent rains in the spring to disolve the fertilizer and got the vines off to a great growth start. Then dry weather came during most of the 2007 summer season. I was concerned that there would be no fruit due to the dry weather. I guessed wrong! We wound up with a bumper crop of scuppernongs as well as a great crop of pecans. It amazed me that the whole areas of South Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi had super fruit crops as a result of the dry weather. This did not occur with the cultivated grain crops in these areas.

Okay! I have a new arbor; easy access to the fruit; lots of sweet, golden scuppernongs. Did I harvest the grapes for the making of the best jelly you can put on a good hot biscuit? No! Each day for about 3 weeks, I would walk very slowly around the arbor at least twice a day picking a couple of double hands full of scuppernongs and EAT EVERY ONE!!!!!!!!!!! YUM! YUM! YUM!

I don't remember when I have ever enjoyed scuppernongs so much as I did in the 2007 season.

I have just pruned the vines back and hoping that I can have another good crop this year. Maybe we will have enough that I can get JoAnne to make us some of great scuppernong jelly to put on some good, hot buttered home made, cat head biscuits with a good glass of cold sweetmilk!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Semi-retired Man

What a day! Yesterday was “one of them!” I am mostly retired but do some Safety Consulting work from time to time. I had done a Safety Walk through Audit on some contractors doing construction work at a chemical plant on Wednesday.

Wednesday afternoons and evenings are a normal busy time, especially at my church. I keep the church’s Prayer List updated and we review this list each Wednesday during our Prayer Meeting, then we have a time of prayer for these people and their needs. I need it to be at the church by noon on Wednesday so copies can be made for distribution that evening. Well, I had done my updated list and dropped it off with the church secretary on my way to do the safety audit. When I got back home, I discovered that I had to add some and take some off the list. So, I just jumped into the computer while viewing a printed list that I thought was the one I’d done that morning. I rushed it down to the church and made the copies myself and distributed them to the tables in the Fellowship Hall. The list I hurriedly updated was a week old and I didn’t make the changes that should have been made last week. We finally made it through scratching out the ones who should have come off the list last week, scratched some more this week and added quite a few to the list. There are a lot of sicknesses and deaths in our area at the current time.

Well, I delayed assembling my notes of the audit until Yesterday morning. I needed to send them in to my company’s office for the person who was with me on the audit so her notes could be blended in with mine. No problem! I decided to check my emails before getting to the report. Several required immediate answers, so I was about to answer the first one when Jo told me that there was a calf outside the pasture by the highway. I went down, got behind it and walked it up through the yard to where Jo had the pasture gate open and the calf went back in the pasture.

Back to the emails. I almost got the ones that needed attention and was to start on the report. “Jim, there’s a cow outside the pasture by the road. Walk back, drive the cow back to the yard, opened the gate and let her back in the pasture. I finally finished the emails and had 3 different phone calls regarding 3 different deaths in our community. During the time that I was assembling my notes and researching the applicable OSHA Regulation numbers each item pertained to, I had two more cows out, three more phone calls that demanded some time and two visits and what little hair I had left ready to pull out! I thought the cow problem was over, but I got another phone call at dusk dark telling me that a bunch of cows were out. I had called the guy that is leasing our pastures and told him that there was some problems with the fences and I knew that about half of his 45 cow herd was out somewhere in the woods. This was that bunch. I had gotten around them and headed them for the yard and pasture when the guy came up and we got the cows back in the pasture. He had brought a load of hay and one of his tractors to unload it with. We decided that he would put the hay out in one pasture and get the cows over there and shut off the area that the fence was bad. Well, when we opened a gate that had been closed for a couple of months between the pastures, the cows would not go up to that gate as a temporary electric fence wire had been stretched in front of that gate where we were keeping extra rolls of hay away from the cows. Finally, I managed the get them into the barn lot from the pasture they were in, then drove them on through the lot until they smelled the hay that he’d set outside the lot to get their attention. All this unloading and cow transferring took a couple of hours.

The final straw came when we decided to load my tractor for him to haul to Lucedale, MS to have new fuel lines installed. It would not start due to air getting into the fuel lines. I had a heavy box blade attached to the back of my tractor. We removed it and moved it away from the tractor shed. Then we were talking about a way to get the front loader raised up enough to pull the tractor up on his trailer.

Finally, I asked him what the tractor repairman said they would charge to come here to do the repairs. He said about $120. I told him that it would cost more for fuel in his truck to haul it down there, come back and go back and bring the tractor back. So, I told him to just tell the man to come here and do it.

Here’s the latest thing. After lunch today, I got a call from the lady that is blending the audit. She said that I’d sent her a copy of an audit report that we did in November. So, I called the correct one up and emailed it to her.

When it rains, it pours!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Willie C. Taylor

All of my life, I have known Willie Taylor. He has been involved in many, many fields of work: Farming, Logging, Paper wooding, cutting railroad cross ties, loading ties into boxcars manually toting them up a ramp and stacking them into the cars. He was a fair “shade tree mechanic,” and he was an all around great worker.

After Daddy got to where couldn’t get out and get wood for the fireplace and heater and up until Mother died, Willie made sure that there was plenty of firewood cut and split, ready for the good warm fires for the house. Also, after Daddy died, he would do all sorts of handyman chores that Mother needed done. He and Joe decided once that the trees around the yards needed to be trimmed. So, they “skinned” them by cutting the limbs up about 20 to 30 feet high! Before we moved back to the farm, I knew I had someone to keep the fences up, repaired and rebuilt to keep the cows in the pastures. If I needed someone to do some bush hogging or other tasks that required use of the tractor, Willie was there. If any of us needed some pulp wood or logs cut, all we had to do was show him what to cut and leave the rest to Willie.

In recent years, Willie’s health began to fail. He had several bouts with heart problems and other health problems. He would go down to Millry almost every week day and sit around the BP station to keep watch on the owner’s “stuff.” When the owner would be outside working on tires or servicing vehicles, the rogues, as he called them, would sneak inside the station and steal cigarettes, candy, etc. That didn’t happen when Willie was on duty! Also, he enjoyed seeing people come in and chat a while with him. I used to accuse him of running on air with his vehicles when the tires on his vehicle would be so slick that “you could almost see the air” in them! He would say that the only way you could beat a Ford was with another Ford! No matter how bad he felt, anytime we would go out of town, he would gladly come by and feed our dog, Foxy Lady. I would always bring him something from the places we would go, anywhere around the world. The last time he looked after Lady, I brought him a suede cap from New York in December.

Willie was quite the lady’s man in his younger days. Joe asked him once how many chillun he had. He said that he had “paid out” 36! He said that he had “marked” all his chilluns. Each one of them had either a double little toe or a double little finger! He said that he’d probably “paid out” one or two of somebody else’s chillum, but probably, somebody had “paid out” a few of his. One thing about all those children: He never denied them being his, and if they worked and tried to make something out of themselves, he would give them anything he had to help them. But, if they were sorry and wouldn’t work and try to better themselves, he let them “root for themselves.” He had several, especially two daughters, who really took care of him in the last 10, or so, years. They insisted on him staying with them in cold or very hot days as they had heat and air conditioning and he didn’t have that in his house.

Yesterday, February 15, 2008, Willie drove down to the BP station. But, he never got out of his truck. Everyone around thought he had just gone to sleep. Later, one of his sons walked over to talk to him and he found him dead in his truck. It took some time for the coroner to get there to pronounce him dead so there was a huge crowd of people there mourning while waiting. This just proved Willie to be faithful to his job, by his going in to do his duty yesterday even though he probably didn’t feel like going.

Willie Taylor will be sorely missed by our family and the whole community surrounding Millry.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Second Step of Power

I guess anyone could truthfully say that I am a "procrastinator." I dream up things, then "digest" them in my mind, and shape them to the form that I think will serve either myself or my family best.

This past Saturday was as glorious a day as anyone could dream up. After spending quite a bit of time inside over this winter, I saw this as a wonderful time to get out and enjoy God's present of great, clear, sunshiny weather.

About a year and a half ago, I had the Power Company to come in and reroute the electrical power service to our place. They set one new pole north of the house with one line feeding the house and another to another new pole in the back yard with a night light on it. Also, they installed a "house power" box with another meter for the purpose of running "more power" to my new tractor shed, my new shop and to the barn.

Soon after that time, I dug a 40 foot long ditch from the pole to the new shop and installed the two inch diameter conduit. This conduit was left over material that I purchased from a job site. I have had that material for about ten years. I had the use of this material rolled over and over in my mind, but had not taken any action to utilize it.

I built my new little shop about the time the power company did it's work and did the electrical wiring in the process and got it to a point that it was almost ready to run the service wiring from the pole to the shop. There are one or two little connections to that wiring the lights that have not been completed. "Procrastination!" I still use the only outlet in that shop that feeds from the house until I can get power to the rest of the shop.

I really don't like to use a shovel very much and a hoe is another subject! So, I decided to use the front loader on my tractor to "gouge" out the trench in the open areas and hand dig under the edge of the barn on into the tractor shed. Then use the loader bucket to backfill the trench.

Just as I had finished opening the trenches, one 70 feet long and the other 80 feet long, JoAnne called me in for lunch. Soon after lunch, David, the guy that is leasing our barn and pastures came up with a load of hay. He had to go in the pasture behind the barn, therefore had to cross the trench. He has been a "co-procrastinator" in this power project. I told him that I'd fill the trench enough for him to cross over. He told me not to do that. We would just go ahead and put the conduit in that trench, then when we filled the trench it would be complete.

I helped him unload his hay in the pasture for his cows. Then he told me that he would take the hay truck and trailer back home and come back in his little truck that had all his tools for doing electrical work in. Soon, he came back and we finished the installation of the conduit to the tractor shed. We didn't finish with that until dark, so I didn't get the trench backfilled until Monday.

Now! David is in the process of finding enough heavy duty wire to feed 55 feet into the shop, 85 feet into the tractor shed and storage room beside it and the 75 feet to the barn. We will do some rewiring of the old lights and outlets in the barn, wire the tractor shed and storeroom and the new shop and I will figure out the proper and safe way to connect the lights in the shop.

It is a tight race between David and me as to who is the worse procrastinator. I am now fired up and want to get that project completed, so I will stay on it and get it finished soon.

As it relates to the "Steps for Power," God provides the first step by giving us His Word to digest, learn and convict us that it is His power that enables us to lead our lives in accordance with His Word. We do the "preliminary" Steps to accept His Word and to accept His guidance. I associate this with the "thinking" and taking the first step of completing the work in progress.

The "Second Step for Power" is to put all His plans for us into action in accordance with His gift of knowledge and strength.

The next "Step for Power" will be to make the connection with the "wiring" that he provides through prayer and Bible study and fully accepting His Grace to "Light up our World" through and for Him. When I get the wiring installed and turn the circuit breakers, I will have the earthly, electric power to run saws, drills and other power tools to create "things" in the shop and lights to the barn and tractor shed.

If we listen to God's plan for us, put Him first in our minds and hearts, He will provide the power that we need to deal with the complex situations of this world.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

"Safety Man"

I started out in Safety on construction projects as a part of my duties on a U S Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) Mississippi Test site project (now named Stennis Space Center ) near Bay St. Louis, MS. The safety procedures on this project were in force at all Corps projects long before the U S Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970.

Each week, I was responsible to hold a safety meeting with all the workers on the particular site on the project. Also, I was to keep a critical eye on all work procedures throughout the week to assure that the work was being performed in a safe manner. This created my first "extra hat" to my job responsibilities.

The Corps safety manual taught me the basics of construction site safety management. Then, when the OSHA Act came into being, I was told by my company's management, "You're it!" This responsibility as "Safety Man" was added to the other "hats" such as Field Engineer to layout new project work sites, Equipment Superintendent responsible for the maintenance of all construction equipment and Purchasing Agent, purchasing all materials and tools for all the ongoing projects in the Mobile, AL area. Also, I was responsible for "selling" OSHA Safety Regulations and duties to company management personnel, encouraging them on the adavantages of a safe work site and decrease the costs of Insurance.

Later, I moved to Oak Ridge, TN with another company as Equipment Superintendent. This job required me to be responsible for assuring that 277 vehicles, over 100 items of large construction equipment and numerous items of small-engine equipment were maintained and ready to operate. Also, I was responsible to assure that each item was in a safe condition to operate and for developing and managing an equipment operator certification program for cranes and for truck drivers hauling hazardous materials. So, I went back to wearing my "Safety Man" hat along with the other management "hats."

Later, I was transferred to Maine as Materials Manager, responsible for all materials ordered, expedited, received, stored and issued for installation on a large paper mill project. Also, I had responsibility to have needed construction equipment on site and ready to operate and that all operators were safety trained on the type equipment that they were to operate. I still wore the "Safety Man" hat to some degree.

After Maine, I attended a class called "OSHA-500" at the OSHA Institute in Des Plaines, IL. This class was a "Train the Trainer" course that trained attendees to teach OSHA 30-hour and 10-hour safety classes that are now required by most all industrial plants in the country.

After the 500 class, I was assigned to a project in northwest Alabama as night shift supervisor and "Safety Man" on a large aluminum plant addition. When that project was completed, I returned to the Mobile area as "Safety Man" on a textile plant project that had experienced 3 lost-time injuries. The project was complete a year later with no more lost-time cases.

Later, I worked for two years in supervisory positions at projects in the Mobile and Sulphur, LA areas as "Safety Man" and Structural Project Supervisor. Upon completion of those projects, a major expansion was added to the textile plant. I returned to that site as "Safety Man" and compiled a Safety Program for that site and scripted and directed the filming of training videos for the project, and I managed the Safety Program for over two years.

After that project was completed, I went went into business as Safety Consulting - Jim Wood. I wrote a Safety Program and did the scripting and shooting of safety training videos for a pharmaceutical plant in Athens, GA. I was the "Safety Man"on that project for over two years.

After that project was completed, I retired, or at least "semi-retired." I have been doing safety consulting work and expert witness work for the past eight years. I have recently completed an update on the OSHA 500 class and plan to do safety training for workers in the Mobile area as required by most every plant in the area. Also, I have been doing relief for an on-site "Safety Man" on a plant project.

I have always used the "Horse Sense" approach to Safety. That is really what a safe work procedure is. If workers will pause just a few seconds before beginning a task to do it the safe way, it adds up to be Horse Sense. I often tell workers that there are enough "donkeys" around that go merrily along not "Thinking Safety." There is always a safe way to do a task by using the Horse Sense way.

Often, I see former workers from some of the projects I've been on and they'll say, "Hello Safety Man." Sometimes it is hard to recognize them without hard hat, safety glasses and work boots!

I guess that, over the years, I can still be called the "Safety Man!" This is a name I cherish as it lets me know that I've had a part in helping construction workers from Alabama to Texas to Tennessee to Maine to work safely so that they may return home to their families at the end of each work day in as good condition as when they left home that morning. I just like the feeling that I have actually helped someone keeping someone from being maimed or killed on the job site.

Be safe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Belching Cows Create Global Warming!!!

This article appeared in the Tuesday, January 22, 2008 issue of the Mobile Press Register:

Stockholm, Sweden

Study of belching cows funded

" A Swedish university has received $590,000 in research funds to measure the greenhouse gases released when cows belch.

About 20 cows will participate in the project run by the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, about 40 miles north of Stockholm, officials said Monday.

Cattle release methane, a greenhouse gas believed to contribute to global warming, when they digest their food. Researchers believe the level of methane released depends on the type of food they eat."

I didn't know that Al Gore had so much influence in other countries to have them believe and spend so much money on such a ridiculous thing.

God made cows. He made them to eat green grass and produce white milk. He gave them two stomachs; one to fill with the green grass (and other things) and the other is to be filled with what has been BELCHED up, chewed thoroughly and passed on to this second stomach for final processed into producing white milk, strength for their body and natural waste.
God Made No Mistakes.

I guess the next headline we'll see will be someone in Tennessee, around Al's non-green mansion, be given a couple of million dollars to study the dangers of flatuence produce by donkeys!!!

And so it goes.......................

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snowstorm in South Alabama

Snow in South Alabama is a rarity. But on this day, I woke up to see snow falling all around Lonesome Pine Farm in Millry, AL.

At first, it was kinda light along with some sleet. But soon it began coming down like times I've seen in East Tennessee and Maine. It was coming down so hard and fast that it looked like chicken feathers floating down, coating everything it touched.

Most of the cows had been out early eating hay along the edge of the woods north of the house. They stayed with it until it started coming down very hard. All but one made it their business to head for the barn to get out of this strange stuff falling on them. The one that stayed at the hay roll was a 2-year-old light brown cow with about 10" horns. She took advantage of the lack of competition around the hay roll. Most of the time, the cows will eat the hay from the center out. This cow had her head almost buried up in the middle of the roll.

Of course, I took many pictures of this event. This was the first snow we've had here since an 8 inch snow in about 1991 or 1992. So, this is a significant event for this place located about 80 miles north of Mobile. Thus, earning a blogspot for history!