Vacation is Over

I was surfing on the internet recently and an advertisement caught my eye. It informed me that the top television show internet searches were for the following: Family Guy, Lost, Sponge Bob, Inuyasha, South Park, American Idol.

What struck me as amazing and wonderful about that list is that I have never seen any of those programs. I’ve never even heard of a couple of them.

While our family does have a television, it is rarely used to watch any regularly scheduled programming. We use it mostly to watch DVDs and movies.

I've come to realize that popular amusements are shallow, unfulfilling, and completely unnecessary when one is pursuing a full agrarian lifestyle.

Now that you know what I didn’t do during my last month of vacation from blogging, let me fill you in on a few of the things that have been going on around here...


Unlike last summer, when I neglected my garden and it became a jungle of weeds, this year I’ve managed to keep it properly maintained and it is a jungle of lush vegetable vegetation. We have not been affected by the drought that has hit many others in this country. If anything, it has been too wet but the garden has done well. Here’s a picture of my son, James, with some early potatoes from a small bed. Squash vines are in the background. We three 70-foot rows of potatoes to dig later in the season.

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The mangle beet seed from Heirloom Acres Seeds that was sent to me by David Taylor is doing very nicely. Half way through July I thinned the row and got a huge handful of beet greens (shown in the photo below). After taking the picture, I washed the greens and steamed them. Then we all gathered around to sample the fresh-from-the-garden delicacy.

I can tell you that mangle beet greens taste just like regular beet greens. But they’re bigger and easier to pick and wash. I will grow mangle beets for the greens next year! But I’m also anxiously looking forward to harvesting those giant 15 to 20 pound, two-foot-long mangels later this season.

By the way, one day I asked James what his favorite vegetable was and he told me, “Steamed beet greens with vinegar.”

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Last week I dug up my garlic crop (around 1,300 bulbs) and it is now curing. It was an exceptional year for garlic. Some of the bulbs will be saved for seed and the cloves replanted in October. I will process the rest into garlic powder. I’ve been making and selling Herrick’s Homegrown stiffneck garlic powder for several years now. It is a unique, value-added, homemade product that I take great pleasure in producing and I actually make a little money from it.


My son, Robert, was busy through July helping different farmers around here get their hay and straw in. He has had a chance to drive a tractor some. That’s a thrill for a 15-year-old.

I was surprised when one farmer gave him and the other boys that were helping a $20 Liberty Dollar, along with a paper explaining the difference between fiat paper currency and money that has intrinsic value. Now there's a well-informed and intelligent farmer for you!


When not helping with the hay, Robert continues to spend a lot of time hunting woodchucks. But with recent news reports about rabid foxes in our area attacking people, Robert is not taking any chances. He told me he is now hunting with the 30-round clip in his .22.


James went off to Bible camp for a week last month. It was his second year going to the camp. He absolutely loved it. He came home saying he wants to be a counselor there for the summer when he turns 16 (five years from now).

In addition to riding go-carts and learning about things like photography, pioneer skills, drama, and such, he brought home a trophy. It says, Cortland Bible Club Camp Bible Drill Winner 2006.

Part of the daily camp activities are Bible “sword drills”. For those who do not know, a “sword drill” is a little contest to see who can look up a given Bible verse the quickest. Whoever gets it first jumps up and reads it. James managed to be the overall winner for the week. And he doesn’t even have those little “cheater” tabs in his Bible.


My oldest son, Chaz, is still working as a “yard man” at the local lumber yard. He gets in 45 hours a week. The job is a real blessing. Unfortunately, business is slow at the lumber yard this year. Real estate sales have slowed down considerably around here too. And a fellow I know who works for a housing manufacturer says business there has slowed down. Such things are not a good sign.


I'm doing my part to help the economy. Last month I bought a new car! Well it’s not exactly new, but it’s almost new (1994) and it still has low mileage (160,000). It’s in great shape (except that 5th gear does not work and the brakes are bad). The tires are excellent, the muffler is fine, the outside is not bad, the inside is really clean, and the engine was very well cared for. It’s a Nissan Sentra. I paid $600 for it. Don't laugh... it's paid for.

I’ve never owned a little Japanese car before and never thought I would, but I've reconsidered. After working all last summer at the lumberyard, Chaz bought himself an older Toyota. It gets great mileage and is dependable. So I was looking for something comparable to drive to work. Our Ford Explorer is not exactly fuel efficient.

I took the Sentra to a mechanic before I bought it. His name is Heinrich and he specializes in little Japanese cars. He told me I didn’t need to get the 5th gear fixed if I didn’t want to. It wouldn’t hurt the engine but it might not be as fuel efficient. I was surprised that he said that, especially since I drove the car to his place in 4th, not daring to go over 45 miles an hour.

Heinrich assured me that the engine would be fine at higher speeds. To prove it he told me to get in and he would show me. Heinrich lives on a back country road. He pulled out of the driveway, revved the engine up and shifted through the gears like he was on a race track. In no time at all we were barreling down the road at 75 miles an hour. Frankly, Heinrich made me nervous, especially when I saw the stop sign ahead and his foot was still on the gas.

“This is a fun car to drive!” he exclaimed with big smile on his face. I braced myself as he finally applied heavy pressure to the brakes.

“But it needs brakes. Can you smell that?” Indeed, there was an alarming smell.

He repeated the sequence of speeding up and hitting the brakes at the last moment until we had made it all around the block (in record time) and back into his driveway.

Heinrich says the car has a “hot” engine and it loves to be revved up. When I got it home, I gave Marlene a ride and told her what Heinrich said. She asked me why I was driving so faste and told me to slow down.

So that’s the story of my new car.


Last weekend was the big Annual Route 90 garage sale. We go every year. Last year I found a beautiful antique chicken feeder. This year we headed out early with great anticipation. Each of us had something we were looking for. James was looking for a bicycle. Robert was looking for a jack knife. Marlene was hoping to find some sewing thread (because it is so expensive in the store now). As for me, I was looking for the same thing I always look for... a good hoe— and I can always use another roll of chicken fencing.

Marlene didn’t find any thread but she found some other good junk stuff. James bought two knifes and an adz. Last year he thought he bought an adz but it turned out to be an old hoe. This year he got himself a real adz with a curved handle.

“How much you want for this adz?” he says to the old guy (who was probably amazed, first that an 11 year old kid knew what an adz was and, second, that he wanted to buy one). “Five dollars.” James paid him with his hard-earned farm market money. “Do you have any log dogs?” he asked the man.

The same fellow had a selection of hoes which I checked over real well. The one that caught my eye was the biggest, heaviest hoe I’ve ever seen. The blade is 6-1/2” wide and 8” long and, like I said, it’s heavy. It is actually more like a hoe/mattock. Really nice! “How much do you want for this hoe?” I asked the old fellow. “Five dollars.” I bought it. Here’s a picture of the mother of all hoes.

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