Thursday, February 23, 2017

Senior Citizens Appreciation

Job 12:12
Wisdom is with aged men,
With long life is understanding.

This past Sunday evening after the Evening Worship Services, we held a Senior Citizens Appreciation meal for the senior citizens at our church.  Our youth wanted to honor them and show them appreciation for all that they have done for them over the years.  Twenty four seniors of our church family were in attendance for the festivities.  Our fellowship hall was decorated in Cajun theme complete with cypress knees, alligator skins, stuffed nutria, snapping turtle shells, and tanned animal furs. The tablecloths were made of quilts and the table on the right in the picture below was filled with antiques and 'relics' of simpler times.

There was a nice time of visiting before serving and, let me tell you, our church specializes in fellowship!  The youth stood in front of the seniors and read Bible verses about respecting elders.  Then each of our young people sincerely thanked the seniors for the model of Christian behavior that they provide.  They thanked them for teaching Sunday School and Bible School and being so giving.

Meanwhile, things were very busy in the church kitchen.  In fact, things had been busy all day.  Earlier in the day we had Sunday School followed by Morning Worship.  Then, it was the third Sunday of the month, so we met at 3:30 at one of the Nursing Homes in town to hold services for those who are unable to get out and go to church.  The meal was supposed to begin right after Evening Worship Services ended.  Evening Worship normally runs from 5 pm until 6 pm, but services ended about 25 minutes early, putting a strain on the chefs in the kitchen, but we quickened the pace and got things done.  Our kitchen staff is the best.

Our Young People served the senior citizens.  I mean they REALLY served them. Decked out in white shirts, black pants and bow ties or white dress, they provided top-notch waitstaff service with a smile, pampering those in our church who were above the age of 60.  They did a great job and I'm proud of them.

First the drink orders were taken and either sweet tea, lemonade or water was brought out to the tables. Then the salad dressing orders were taken and salads were served by enthusiastic smiling waiters. Then the diners were given a choice of spaghetti/meat sauce or chicken fettuccine and garlic bread, followed by a brownie dessert.  The meal wasn't rushed and everyone visited while eating, enjoying one another's company.

Then came what I think was the best part of all.  The Youth asked the seniors to give them advice!  And the youth (and all of us in attendance) listened intently.

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7

You could have heard a pin drop.  Numerous seniors gave the young people VALUABLE life advice regarding their spiritual development, choosing a mate, following the LORD, along with stories from their childhood and upbringing.  Many told stories of rough times that they lived through, but through faith in God and perseverance, they made it through the trials.  The seniors gave wisdom and instruction to the youth - advice they won't soon forget.

Everyone listened intently as they shared.  It was one of those times that you'll always remember as instruction was passed down from one generation to the next. On a night where we intended to be givers and serve the seniors, they ended up giving more than we did.  Funny how that works out!

At the end of the night, we had our seniors pose for a photo.

Then our youth posed with them.  It was truly a memorable evening!

Much thanks go out to our youth, Angel (shown below) who thought of this great idea, her mom, Patty, and Tricia for helping make it happen.  It was a lot of hard work, but the hard work paid off.

At the end of the night, everyone was tired.  Not too tired, though!

Deuteronomy 32:7

Remember the days of old,

Consider the years of all generations.
Ask your father, and he will inform you,
Your elders, and they will tell you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2017 Meat Birds - 1 Week Old

The Cornish Cross Meat birds in our garage are a week old.  Actually they are probably a week and three days old, but I'm not splitting hairs.  They are in a brooder and are being warmed under two heat lamps.  The have two - 1 gallon water containers along with 5 feed troughs.  They eat an enormous amount of feed and already the garage smells real bad.  The birds have atrocious table manners as they sit in the feed trough and poop in it while they are eating.

The birds haven't been stressed, but we have had some fatalities.  3 Cornish Cross chicks have died. I'm not really sure about the cause of death.  None of the Rhode Island Reds (RIRs) have died, although they have had an ailment that I am currently treating.  Perhaps I'll talk about that in tomorrow's post.

In this weekly installment we'll track the weight gain of the chicks over the 8 to 10 week period and discuss their lives, challenges and other interesting tidbits about them.  If you look closely, you can notice that there is beginning to be some feather development on the wings.  A week ago they were little fuzz balls.  Now they are putting on feathers.

I put a newspaper over the kitchen scale for obvious reasons, zero out the scale, and put the ol' boy up on the scale for weigh-in time.

Last week he weighed 1 1/2 ounces
This week he weighs 7 1/2 ounces
Last years' birds at one week old weighed 8 ounces.

It looks like we are right on track

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Greatest Invention of All Time

Yesterday's post was all about putting some hard work in to move a pile of dirt from where it was delivered to the garden which is located about 30 feet to the south and west.  It was hard work, but I kept at it until the pile disappeared.  I worked up a sweat.  Even though it was only around 80 degrees, my shirt was soaked and so were my pants.  I had the good sense to wear gloves, so I avoided blisters from shoveling.  I was exhausted when I was done.  I slept like a baby and woke up sore in my shoulders and back.

I had another ailment, though.  Walking back and forth with sweat soaked pants that rubbed continuously all day, left me chafed.  We always called it chapped growing up.  Whatever you call it, it is uncomfortable.  Where the wet clothes rub your legs, it irritates the skin, making it red and inflamed. It is painful to walk and probably looks quite funny from a bystander's perspective because the chafing makes you walk bowlegged.  To the victim of chafing or chapping, however, it is not funny at all.

I have memories of this affliction from my childhood and I posted about it in the Red Rice post from back in 2013.  I describe the chafing problem in that post briefly.  What I didn't get into was what we did to try and treat it.  My great-grandmother's remedy was to fill your pockets with the leaves of a China Berry tree to the inflamed area.  That didn't seem to do much good.  Nothing seemed to do much good.  It seemed as if you would just have to suffer through the discomfort every time you worked hard as there was no cure.  Or was there?

Back in elementary school, we learned about Eli Whitney inventing the cotton gin and interchangeable parts.  We also learned about how Samuel Colt invented the Colt Revolver, Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone and Thomas Edison and the light bulb.  All notable inventions to be sure.  But I'd like to nominate this product as the greatest invention of all time:

Gold Bond Medicated Powder - I only wish I had known about this back in my red rice pulling days
Gold Bond Medicated Powder.  Oh my goodness.  The cooling - the relief.   This product dates back to 1882 when some doctors from Rhode Island formulated it. Amazingly, in 1912 the formula was sold to Mr. John M. Chapman, who achieved great brand recognition and distribution, according to Wikipedia.  Hmmm.  Get it? Chap man?  Chapped man?  From this gentleman's name, it appears he may have had a genetic predisposition to being chapped, so no doubt this product was near and dear to his heart (or his chapped parts).

Okay, so this post may be sort of tongue-in-cheek, but it is a good product that gives great relief to hard-working dirt movers or red rice pullers everywhere.  For full-disclosure, Gold Bond Medicated Powder did not pay me a penny for this favorable review, unfortunately.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Another Load of Topsoil

About a year and a half ago, we posted in THIS POST about higher ground about ordering a load of topsoil to raise the level in the garden.  The torrential rains we experienced in August 2016 reinforced the fact that we needed some more soil.  The rains soaked the garden and it seemed to never dry out. That resulted in sickly plants and even worse, a delayed fall garden.

I was determined to not fall prey to a low-lying garden area again, so I ordered a dump truck load of topsoil.  I thought it was a steep price at $220 for 14 yards of soil, but I talked to someone in Lafayette today that paid $275, so I guess it is all relative.  I moved the trampoline to the south and west and asked the dirt service guy to drop the load of soil on top of the craters that Big Boy dug underneath the trampoline.  He obliged and now I had my work cut out for me!

You move 16 tons and whaddaya get?  Another day older and deeper in debt...
Armed with a shovel and a gorilla cart and a hankering to do some good, honest physical labor, I began my task.  I wanted to get the job done before a rain came so that I could spread the soil easily throughout the garden.

My plan is to continue the job I started back in 2015 in the post I referenced in the first paragraph and that is to fill in the furrows between the rows.  I have an infestation of nutsedge or cocograss that keeps me busy in an endless weeding process.  I laid down some cardboard between the rows and began dumping the top soil on top of the cardboard, filling the furrows and then using my shovel to spread the dirt out evenly.  Perhaps the cardboard will frustrate the weeds to keep them from coming up, but I'll keep my expectations real low.  Nutsedge (cocograss) is a pernicious weed.

It took me a while, but I keep at it diligently and before you knew it, I was almost finished.  You can see the progress below.  In the garden where you can see Bull's Blood Beets and Chioggia Beets in the foreground and Swiss Chard on the next row, there aren't really rows anymore.  The ground level is all flat now.

Here is another shot looking straight down the row.  Now I ordered top soil and I must say that I was a little disappointed in this load.  If you look closely you can see dirt 'clods' and in chopping them up with a shovel, there was a bit of clay in my 'top soil.'  I wasn't real excited about putting any clay in the garden but most of the top soil was okay.

It will be beneficial to have the soil level raised by several inches.  Although drainage is certainly key, having a higher soil level will help to dry out the garden quicker.  I will say this - I was happy when the dirt pile was completely moved. Stay tuned as tomorrow, in a topic related to this post , I will give my nomination for the greatest invention ever made.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

For Your Eyes Only

Last week we talked about purchasing and prepping seed potatoes for this year's crop.  We cut them up and set them aside to let them 'scab' over.  By Saturday morning, they were ready to be put in the ground.  First, however, I had to get the soil ready.  I want to show you a little something new I'm trying this year with the rows.

I staked out a 30 inch row with an 18 inch walkway between rows.  I dug out the 18 inch walkway.  18 inches is the width of two shovels side-by-side, so one shovel-ful goes to the row on the right and the other goes to the row on the left.  When you get to the end of the row, you have enough dirt on the row to hoe up and plant.  The photo below shows the staked out rows and walkways, along with a bucket of seed potatoes.

A long row to hoe
I told my uncle that I was planting potatoes and he reminded me of some advice that my old Science Teacher, Stuart Buck, would give us about planting potatoes. He'd say, "Be sure to plant your seed potatoes with newspaper and green onions." When we'd ask why, he'd say, "So they can read the newspaper when they get bored and onions for drought as the onions would make their eyes water." Mr. Stuart passed away in March 2016.  Mr. Stuart, I took your advice.  This photo is for you!:

Planting potatoes is easy.  Simply dig a four inch hole, drop a potato in with the eye facing up and cover.  Potatoes should be planted 12 inches apart.

While potato planting is indeed easy, it is back-breaking labor.  I am finding that, even though I don't consider myself old, I just don't have the stamina or energy level that I had previously.  But you've got to keep going.  Those potatoes aren't going to plant themselves.  No sir.  On the last row, the sun was quickly sinking in the sky... and I was tired.

I called out to my bride and she came to the garden and helped me get the rest of the crop in the ground. As we finished the job, the sun ducked under the horizon. The potato crop is in.  Hallelujah!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Prepping Seed Potatoes for the 2017 Crop

Tricia normally goes to the feed store every Friday morning to purchase Dairy Ration for the cows and goat, alfalfa, hen scratch, and the occasional bucket, rope or other item for the animals.  This past Friday, I sent her on a mission to come back with seed potatoes so that I could cut them and allow them to scab over so I could plant.  The mission was NOT accomplished.  The feed store was out of seed potatoes.  We had been beat to the punch.

Not to worry.  They proprietor had more seed potatoes on order and they would be in this week.  Tricia went back yesterday and picked up 15 pounds of seed potatoes. Looking at last year's crop that you can read about by clicking here, we will be hard-pressed to out-do the production of that crop.  The statistics in that post's second to last paragraph were very interesting to me.  Based on last year's figures, every pound of seed potatoes will produce 10 pounds of potatoes.

Here are 15 pounds of seed potatoes.  These should produce 150 pounds of potatoes if all goes according to plan.  Can you see the 'eyes' beginning to show themselves?

Last year we planted Lasoda Red Potatoes and Yukon Gold Potatoes.  I was really pleased with the Lasoda varieties' yield.  While the Yukon Gold variety didn't produce as well as the Lasoda, they stored really well.  I was looking forward to planting the La Soda variety again this year.  Well, wouldn't you know it, the Feed Store was unable to get their hands on any and instead, the variety they got was the Pontiac variety.  As the name suggests, they were developed in Michigan, while the La Soda variety was developed in Louisiana in 1948.  I guess we'll see how this northern cultivar grows down here.

The Pontiac had some nice eyes bulging.  I inspected each and they appeared to be in good shape with plenty of eyes.

Now you could plant each seed potato whole, but it wouldn't be very efficient.  I like to cut them up into chunks, ensuring that each chunk has at least one eye.  Each eye will grow a plant and each plant will produce some nice potatoes. So I grabbed a knife and started cutting.

Before too long I had two trays full of cut up seed potatoes.  But they are not quite ready for planting yet.

I like to leave them outside and let them scab over.  This allows the cut portion to heal and develop a hard protective layer.  I was taught by my grandpa to do this or you run the risk of the potatoes rotting in the ground.  I'll check them each day to see if the cut end has hardened and perhaps they'll be ready to plant this weekend.

As a little bonus, I do have some La Soda potatoes in the potato bin left over from last year's harvest in early May.  I'll plant them.  Even though they are small, they have long sprouts.  I think it will be interesting to plant the Pontiacs and some La Sodas and compare the yield.  It was great weather today. Hopefully the weather will hold as is through the weekend so that we can get them in the ground

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 Meat Birds - 3 Days Old

It is that time of year again!  I placed an order online from Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, MO for some day old baby chicks.  I ordered:

  • 15 Female Rhode Island Reds priced at $3 each, and
  • 75 Not-sexed Jumbo Cornish Cross @ $2.10 each

They shipped out on February 13th and this morning, February 15th, we received a call from the Post Office that we had a shipment of live baby chicks.  Tricia drove down to the post office and picked them up.

They come in a box with holes in it and straw at the bottom.  It always amazes me that the day old chicks can be sent through the mail from Missouri down to Jennings, Louisiana and you can open up the top and they are all alive!  They give you a few extra, so when Tricia counted, there was actually 17 Rhode Island Reds and 84 Cornish Crosses.  The extra are in case in die in shipping and I'm told to generate heat in order to keep them warm during transport.

Tricia set up the brooder in the garage. I was supposed to have this done, but I was counting on them coming in tomorrow.  Tricia did a good job.  The brooder is actually a roll of aluminum siding that is unrolled and taped together.  Heat lamps are clipped to a fiberglass pole running across the top.  A blue tarp covered by newspaper lines the bottom.  On top of that wood shavings are poured as bedding.

Tricia mixed up water for the chicks to drink, adding 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 cloves of minced garlic to a gallon of water.  As Tricia unboxed the chirping birds, she dunked their little heads in the water to re-hydrate them after their migratory trip down south.  And you thought it was only ducks and geese that migrated south for the winter?!  Chickens do too.  She also fed them some 28% Game Bird Starter Ration.  They immediately started scratching and eating.  The heat lamps are keeping them nice and warm.  They appear to be healthy and comfortable.

So as we normally do each year, each week I bring one in and weigh it so that we can keep track of their weight.  The reason being is that in approximately 8 to 10 weeks, this cute little fluffball will be ready to butcher and put in the freezer. Sounds cruel, right?  We don't look at it like that.  Chicken is Food and as the commercial says, "Eat Mor Chikn!"  We track the weights because we plan to butcher as soon as the birds are 6 pounds as a 6 pound bird yields a 4 1/2 pound carcass - our goal. We've found that this is the perfect size for us.

I would assume these birds were hatched on the 12th, shipped on the 13th and arrived this morning, the 15th.  That makes this Cornish Cross the ripe old age of 3 days old.

The bird weighs in at 1 1/2 ounces at 3 days old.  We'll see this little guy at next week's weigh-in and at that time, we will give a report of the birds' health and activities of the previous week.
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