We Are Deep In the Heart of Texas

Nomadic seasons of farming adventures with nature thrown in to include; a pinch of family, snippets of friends, counting our blessings, paying IT forward, home school, and the spicy things I decide to rant about.







Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Casualty of Drought

Ladies and Gentlemen this was around 10 a.m. this morning. 

I heard Banjo barking his alarm.  So for the next 20 minutes I kept watch in the yard; same familiar place near the a/c unit.  Then Banjo would not stop barking and was now near a large mesquite.  I noticed all the scrub jays and other wild birds having a right old-fashioned conniption.  I went to get my binoculars and kept watching because Banjo was just incensed; I now know his snake bark.

And through my binoculars on the second story; I found the familiar spade shaped head poking up from a divet in our ground and it was making its way to the middle of our front yard.  Mind you, it was only 3 feet long but, fat and healthy with 7 rattles; bent on hunting right off our front porch.  So I kept watched until it curled up under another tree right next to tomato garden. 

During this time; all the birds would take turns landing just outside of the snakes' range and making as much noise as possible.  I called my hubby and told him in no way shape or form was I going outside.  I could have tried to shoot from the upstairs window but, I would not been accurate.  After hanging up with hubby and telling him about the 7 rattle monster in the yard; I lost it in the grass. 

Hubby came home as usual, ate dinner, took a nap. and just on whim picked up his weapon of choice to see what he could find. 

While I am a not a big fan of killing snakes.  This bugger did not even rattle when my husband walked up on it.  So I am guessing it was healthy with a fresh kill or extremely thirsty because it had been in our yard for 10 hours which just blows my mind.  Its head is resting in a safe place so no other animals can get to it and I hung its body on the fence for another critter's free meal away from our yard. 

I really think this year with the extreme drought we are having this will not be the last venomous snake we see.  As this is the fourth one in less than a month we have found in the same area. 

I am also going to do a suggestion another friend made about making a small pond just away from our yard. Then snakes will be happy to hunt and our yard will return to being a safer haven; maybe I can rest in peace somewhat.  What is your thoughts; kill or not to kill?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Congressional Jackazzez Do It Again

My Gracious! Is anyone watching the store while the thieves are allowed to plunder our nation's monetary coffers?

I am in firm belief that we need to just remove all our congressional leaders from office. Those people are just so out of touch with reality it is ri-damn-diculous. 

"According to the Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group that pores over congressional expense data, top salaries go to chiefs of staff, who earn around $120,000 a year. But farther down the pay scale, the group says the average salary for a communications director is about $58,000; schedulers average about $41,000 and staff assistants bring in about $30,000 a year."

http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/06/27/congressional.bonuses/index.html

Now my rant as follows:

These folks are on salary; meaning they are there to work either 10 or 100 hrs kinda like our military men or women.  If these folks are not making enough money shouldn't they either look for another job just like the rest of Americans or their bosses raise their annual salaries to match or near match competitors?  HELL last time I worked 12 hours on and 12 hours off for months on end; I did not get a nice bonus tucked into my paycheck.  As a matter of freaking fact; paychecks would have been delayed for military men and women because our politicians can not pass an annual budget on time. 

Another cause for concern.  Military retirement benefits are on the chopping board again as well as health care premiums for retirees.  I guess it is easy to cut from the life blood of our military working man/woman instead of cutting the fat from legislative arses first.  I am sure without some Senators or Representatives  running around pandering to big business; our American way of life would be in jepardy right?

Think of this ya'll; those Navy Seals who went and hunted down Bin Laden in a foreign country make approximately 60K annually if they are E6s with about 8-15 years of active duty.  Our leaders earn three times as much in annual pay not including benefits; and here is the kicker.  Those Seals will be denied access to care if they retire in 10 or 15 years (only to get 40% of their base pay as a retirement plan at age 57) if Congress gets their way.  Because our Congressional leaders are so busy scratching their own behinds; they fail to realize our men and women give their bodies and souls to serve. 

Then again, I wager to think our legislative branch feels they're in harm's way since they have to deal with occassional paper cut or overtime.  GEESH Give me a break!  Hell, I am willing to do any of their job for half of their salary.  Seriously, doesn't 80K a year sound really good to you.  I would not even ask for any of those perks either.

Grrrrrrrrr, so sick of the bull crap!
Steps off milk crate hands back the microphone.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Do You Sometimes Question The Need

For posting a blog?  Really, I have been thinking about it and questioning need and/or desire to write.  At the time I started this blog; I was full of piss and vinegar ready to rant about things in my wayward mind.   Now, I am looking back and wondering just what is the use of this blog.  Things here are pretty durn quiet for us as a family.

We have a routine.  Dad leaves at 4 am and doesn't return until near 5 pm/later. He may work overtime plus, there are workdays on the weekend. The boys sleep in til, I get them up for school.  I use the mornings for focus, prayer, or meditation before trudging along in my daily chores -- sneak a soak in the tub.  Really; we are not exciting people at all. 

So why the need for a blog when the most exciting thing in our week or lately months is a rain fall equating to nearly 1/2 inch over two days of blessed grace.

Personally, I can not come up with a reason other than the occassional fellowship found by visiting others.  Week in and week out; we are pretty much contained within our little five acres.  Our animals with the exception of Banjo are not pets but, future food items.  Our garden is pretty much ready to be plowed under for a second planting.  I am not an exciting world chef, canning expert, sewing diva so why post about what others do better?  I am just a plain ole middle-aged woman devoted to our family life.

Most days when I check in here; I can see no one visiting from the stats page.

So what do ya'll think; what's the purpose of this blog?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Free Audiobooks, Yes I Said Free

As ya'll know, we have a son with dysexlia and Irlens.  Basically this means not only does he flip letters and symbols but, print moves on the page which makes reading a gut wrenching task. So I have a slow reader. Not only does Saenz has issues with reading but, the menfolk in my family do not like to pick up books. 

Well if the Mohammed does not want to read the proverbial mountain of educational tomes -- then this is a way to bring the mountain to Mohammed. 

My search began and sent me browsing eBay in search of books on audio tapes or cds in MP3 player format.  Normal audio books are pricey even if purchased used or from a person who got them for free from a library. 

I found a seller offering 233 classics for sale in MP3 zipped format on cd.  Yeppers, I made an offer and 'dude/dudette;' ignored my inquiry since Friday.  Now I hate to be ignored thus, I went searching.  What I did notice after reading the seller's description he/she told 'potential' customers the books were offered for free in the public domain.

Here is what I found gentle readers and I will pass this on to you. 

http://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks
http://www.librivox.net/

Some examples are:

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child's History of England, A House to Let or A Christmas Carolby Charles Dickens; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, A Double Barreled Detective Story or A Dog's Tale by Mark Twain; A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare; A Story of the Stone Age by H. G. Wells; A Tangled Tale by Lewis Carroll; A Utopia of Usurers by Gilbert K Chesterton; Aeropagitica by John Milton; Aesop’s Fables Volumes 1-12 by Aesop


These books are offered in a zipped format and have to be loaded onto your computer. However once you download your choices; unzip and burn to cd, mp3 player, or whatever compatible device you own.  Yes, some file formats can be converted as well.  So on this lovely Father's Day weekend; I am downloading books but, am not tied to my computer.  In the next few weeks Saenz and the rest of us will be listening to literary classics while going about our daily life. 

(Oh, there are also free books for the NOOK and Kindle.  All you have to do is a search and WAAA LAAA; a world of classic literature is yours for the download.)

Now onto more exciting farm news. 

Thanks Sid for coming down this weekend.  We enjoyed your visit as always.  Dad just loves to put you to work around the place because well; you have the potential to be a work-a-holic like him. Haa Haa!  We appreciate you helping to install the attic ladder in the 110+ temp and with back room cleanup.  Many many thanks! Please come on by any time because we love your stories and funny immitations; you should be in the theatre.

This Wednesday, hubby and I were working together in the yard.  Normally Cubby Bear would be outside with us but, he had some kind of stomach bug and stayed inside. Dad was watering the critters and I was gathering mesquite beans.  So Hubby came over to help me and Banjo when, we heard a familiar and frightening sound.  Little Banjo had disovered a 4' diamondback in our yard.  Right next to the a/c unit; what a scary event and, the slithering mouth of venom crawled under a gap beneath the front porch.  I can not remembered shaking so hard since, finding other critters face to face.  There is just something about a mouth of angry venom staring you down to make you say a prayer for deliverance.

We were very lucky because normally Cubby Bear has Banjo chase him around the yard holding a hot dog as a form of entertainment while, we do our work.  All I can say is a resounding "THANK YOU," to the universe and God for sparing us any snake bite.  This reminds me; we still need to zip tie more deer netting to all our inner fence to keep those buggers from coming into our yard.  With the extreme drought, we are so fortunate with critters looking for a drink of water not to have just migratory flocks of snakes running the yard. 

May all who pass have a wonderful weekend.  Spend time thanking your fathers, remembering them, and offering a little prayer to Him above.

Peace and send rain our way,
Mal

Sunday, June 12, 2011

18 Inches Equals Yummy Goodness for Winter

Hubby and I have been jobbing today besides mowing, errands and other chores. He brought me 4 new squash just as I had shredded 20 cups for squash bread to lay in the freezer for winter. I don't know about ya'll but, our old farm house just makes summer baking marathon sessions darn near impossible. Aren't these beauties?
I have been saving some seeds from these lovelies for next year and am thinking maybe I should run another giveaway for my followers.  The squash are heirloom and will grow next summer quite nicely.  This week; I am going to try sauteeing a few squash stalks and simmering some leaves; yes these can be eaten if cleaned properly. 
You can also eat the leaves of your broccoli plants as well.  Quite tasty and much milder than the actual heads of broccoli. 
And don't forget to roast extra seeds for snacks.  Get this; I love the taste of fresh shredded squash for a lite salad just add your favorite dressing or in my case; extra virgin olive oil and roasted seeds.  YUM YUM
Here is our first batch of okra these will be dried for seed; the larger pods. The smallish pods, I will be slicing this up for some gumbo and other cajun dishes this fall. Did you know okra leaves can also be consumed as greens?  Also the seeds can be roasted, ground and used as a coffee substitute which, after seeing the cost of a 36 ounce can of regular roast of Folgers is running near $11.  This will be the next thing I will be trying plus growing chicory.
Cubby Bear just wanted to show off a little; I thought ya'll wouldn't mind.  My next experiment will be shredding some green tomatoes for breads and of course Fried Green Tomatoes. 

Oh yeah on another note; we will be harvesting some mesquite bean pods for flour; I still owe Mrs. Barbara over at
3 Acreshomestead a lb from my 500th blog post giveaway last year.  Seems our trees took a year off from fruiting; I was quite surprised to see them loaded with pods due to our extreme drought. 

So what have ya'll been doing in your gardens?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where Is God?

The reasons why I talk to our sons about my beliefs is to allow them a peek into what my character is, where I come from; and hopefully where I want to be in the future. Most of the time when it comes to ideals or beliefs; I let my sons work things out for themselves.  However, I do believe I must teach or guide them in their paths to become honorable men and in this I am a servant.  The other day we had an interesting conversation that kinda went like this:

Why do you stop to make sure others are okay on the side of the road?

Answer: 'Because I was taught you never know where Jesus or God is.  Perhaps he is testing my learning as a child by waiting to see if I will do as I was taught to help others in need.'

What happens if they want to rob or kill you?

'The way I see that scenario is perhaps; it is God's way of calling me home to be with Him while, I am following my gut to help.  Just maybe; he wants to see if I am afraid to follow or deny my beliefs.  Yes, it is possible I may die but, there is also a chance I may not get to another opportunity meet my maker.  If I ignore the 'call' or 'opportunity to serve,' will I hear his vioce again?

Now this line of reasoning and blind belief may be crazy to some.  Heck even my husband doesn't subscribe to my point of veiw.  Yet, I am a servant and will always be so.  I am here to help others or to teach; that is my calling and I accept this.  I not crazy enough though to allow strangers into my vehicle if I am alone or with our sons but, I always have a cell phone to offer.  Most of the time, these strangers just wave me on so; I just get peace of mind they will not be left stranded.  What I do want my sons to understand; you may be afraid of the wolf but, never stop being a person of faith and living. 

I leave ya'll with this quote:

"He who is not a good servant shall not be a good master."
Plato

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Have You Ever Watched A Star Be Born?

The other night, while flipping channels I stopped on the new auditions of America's Got Talent.  Let me tell you; I was blown away by this unassuming man named Ryan Andreas. 

It was magical; he had no experience and you could tell his nerves were with him at the interview.  When he paused to calm his nerves before he sang; I got a little worried so, I said a little prayer of hope.  Then magic happened; here he's singing 'Angel,' by Sarah Mclachlan.  His version and voice were so beautiful; I was moved to tears and chill bumps.  He made this lovely iconic song his own; one day I hope to sing this song as a duet by both artists.

Ryan Andreas


Do yourself a favor; to get the full effect.  Let it stream completely! before starting this video. Amazing

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bigger In Texas; Happy Birthday

Can you believe this zucchini? Weighs a little over 2 lbs. 
 I used the $20 so, you can have a point of reference.  Hubby found this one tucked under leaves.  Just amazing.  So far we have eaten; raddishes, turnips, greens, onions, Greek oregano, zucchini, serranos, jalapenos, and yellow squash.
 Our corn is now over our heads, quite surprising with all the high winds we have this year.  We have to water nearly everyday to keep our garden up.  Our normal temp is around 100 sometimes; much higher counting the humidity.
 Our first apple fruit.  If you look you can see the wind burn on one curled leaf.  We are hoping as our fruit trees grow; they will toughen.  We were told that we could not grow apples nor, grapes here.  Well we have both so far.  Hubby and I don't mess much with our trees, plants, vines; other than feed and water.  We figure if it grows in the wild then it is meant to be here with us.
Do you see my Greek Oregano (Eleni) has a wide spread?  Hubby trimmed back 1/3rd of her branches and I dried the leaves for cooking later in the year.  It is crazy to know, a 0.5 ounce at a grocery store will cost a consumer $4 a bottle.  So my little investment in Eleni has paid off.  --- I got Eleni at WalMart for $1.77 and now look at her; soon she should flower for seed. :O) 
Our jalapenos are hotter than the serranos.  Crazy heat in these little fire bombs.  
We spoil our little country pooch, Banjo.  He gets bits and pieces of our meals.  This little six pound wonder is a macho small dog; who regularly chases wild critters off our yard in the night.  Here is he eating a slice of French toast; spoiled little monster he is!

This week has been a bit slower with the Memorial Day holiday.  To honor a vet; our family laid a wreath on Mr. Dennis's grave; Mrs. Lily we are so sorry for your loss.  We love you both.

Our son Sid's birthday is today.  Happy 25th, May you have a 100 more years in which is grow and explore the world.

For those who are following our homeschool progress.  We are using Sonlight for both boys this year.  And both love it; especially Saenz.  The stories included in this literature based program take him on adventures all over the world.  On the weekend; I just type up a daily checklist of assignments or milestones he needs to accomplish.  You will notice; I have not included physical or art education; we do those off line throughout the day.   For current events, Time magazine just happened to have an article about the political unrest in Sanaa; so we will learn more about Yemen and the African continent.


I type up this checklist because Saenz; has trouble keeping his binder orgainzed as well as, other materials needed.  This just works better for him over all because he can track his progress without the mess of multiple sheets of paper. 

Okay a short; 'Movies You Need to See:' 
 King's Speech,
Rabbit Hole,
127 Hours,
The Fighter. 

Don't forget this week on History Channel; there are special documentaries on the Civil War.  150 years since, we as a country have made lots of progress; the beauty of America is her flexibility to change as her people change. 

Think about this; when elections are in question; no soliders, para-military or mass mobs go on killing sprees.  America's strength is in her people's belief in our system; we know we things will eventually return to our norm; even after a disaster. The History Channel is running a donation campaign now; to save historical sites throughout the US.  You donate $1.50 and they will match it.


Continue to grow and learn; we surely will be doing just that; in our slice of heaven.