Me and Scout

Me and Scout

30 September 2010

30 September 2010, 2331, Thursday, Home Patch

I’m trying out “Home Patch” for the name of our home site.  We settled behind the barn in the pasture traditionally known as the “Horse Patch” because that’s where our saddle horses would stay.  I’m not sure if I like “House Patch” or “Home Patch” better.
Spent the day at the Reserve Center doing Army stuff, but also some other business.  Got back to Clear Lake around 1630 and finished cleaning up the grout, packed the truck, had a brief supper with Anna, then headed off for Batson.  Dad was at Grandmother’s so we had a nice little visit and talked some business.  What kind of cows to get, how many, etc.  We pretty much decided that we should get them palpated before selling them off.  We need to know what the problem is so we can make sure that we don’t fall into any pitfalls.  For instance, if it is BVD, we might should sell off the whole herd.  If it is not, it would be good to keep several to maintain the herd consciousness.  It sounds silly, but cows will teach other cows where the fences are, the water, what to do in the pens.  Having some experienced cows would minimize the number of cows we will have to chase down in other people’s pastures, or worse yet, the road.
I turned down three substitute jobs today because I was either working for the Army or another school.  It looks like the substitute thing is picking up!
It took me longer than I thought to unload the truck, so it is kind of late and I have a sub job tomorrow.  I’m turnin’ in.

29 September 2010, 0540, Wednesday, USAR Center #3

I have been very remiss in my journaling, but allow me the time to go over some of the major events of the last three weeks.  We were supposed to get our AC and AC hookup done on Monday the 13th, but as we were on our way out there with preparations to spend our first night in the mobile home (including the cat), we got a call from our hookup guy saying that he was unable to be there and that he had not gotten in touch with the AC guy to be out there.  I had had enough of the delays, impunctuality, and unpreparedness, so I let him know my displeasure.  He agreed to come out that afternoon to finish what he had said and that we would not have to deal with him again.  I agreed to that.  It was not a pleasant afternoon with him and I felt bad, but apparently, after a call to the seller, I learned that this guy has a reputation for this kind of customer service.  Hopefully, he can learn from this and improve his business.
On the 14th, in the afternoon, the AC people came out and did an excellent job of getting the AC hooked up and we finally spent our first night in our new home.  It was great.  We had trouble sleeping because it was so cold!  That night I looked out the window and the almost full moon had illuminated a mist on the ground to the Southeast of our home.  It was beautiful.  A great way to start our living in the home God blessed us with.
We have made another trip out there since then and Anna’s parents came to visit on Sunday, the 19th.  We had a nice visit, showed them around and went to JAX that afternoon for lunch.  We went to church with Grandmother that morning at Batson Prairie, but the pastor was on vacation.  We will probably go back there this Sunday.
I subbed for the first time at Liberty High School on Wednesday, the 22nd.  Easy day, I hope they are all that easy.  I subbed for a coach who taught Economics to seniors, had a basketball class, and a cross country class.  For the athletics, I just basically observed, and for the economics, there was a worksheet that took about 10 minutes to do, so I when the class was finished, we went over it.  Fortunately, I could talk intelligently about economics so I felt that I did contribute.  We also talked about plans for when they got out of High School.
On the 23rd, I met my first sergeant at the reserve center at about 2200 and we drove in his rental to San Antonio for the Commander’s Conference of the 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (a Brigadier General Command).  It was a good conference, but I had a hard time staying interested since I will be out soon.  I did make several notes about what needed to be done for the house and the ranch and drew up some sketches of the porch and shed that I need to build.  That Saturday night, there was a dining out, which was fun.
Monday, we were exhausted and spent much of the day sleeping.  Yesterday, Anna packed a lot of dishes and I caught up on clothes and ironing.  I reorganized my drawers to make room in the armoire which will be used as a coat closet and I got rid of some clothes that I don’t wear anymore.
Today and tomorrow I am at the reserve center, but I hope to get home early enough to work on more packing stuff.  Friday, I have a sub gig for an ag class in Daisetta and this weekend, Nathan’s crowd and Shannon and Dalton will be at the ranch.  I will work on fixing up and protecting the AC crossover which the dogs got into and tore some insulation up.  I’ll probably put some fencing around it, but leave the rest of the mobile home free until we get the septic hookup done.

We decided to go ahead and use some available funds for the septic tank.  With that, we will go ahead and move!  We still need to find Anna a job in Liberty or somewhere, but it will be a lot easier to not have to protect the house in Clear Lake from the dogs.
I will be better about journaling in the future.  You may hear from me tonight.

10 September 2010, 1907, Friday

Too much time has passed to give a blow by blow, but I did go out to the Camp Wednesday afternoon.  I unpacked some boxes and moved some stuff to the appropriate room.  I also got a mifi card for internet.  That works pretty good, so I think we will stick with it.  They got the power on today, but it turns out we need some more wire and a hook up which is not covered.  I will have it out with the mobile seller about that.  So, Monday we will go out there with our checkbook and get the AC up.  Now, the only thing left is the septic, which we are still waiting on until we sell the house.  Housing market is very bad, but we are hoping that it will sell soon.

02 September 2010, 2104, Wednesday

It has been a little frustrating not knowing what we are going to do.  We have the money to put in the septic system, but we are sitting on it to be sure that we can make mortgage payments indefinitely.  We are not making the income we need to support the payments.  So, the question is, get a job in Clear Lake, or spend the money for the septic and get a job in Batson area.  I would rather go and start the ranching and networking for the future, but it is hard to justify doing that at the cost of $3000.
Today, I fixed the toilet, did my travel voucher and other admin stuff.  I started to go the Batson with a load of boxes and to meet with the superintendent at LISD.  Apparently, I need to do this before starting work.  The problem is that I need to make an appointment.  No one told me this until I was all dressed up and on the way.  Fortunately, I called so I didn’t even get off of Bay Area Blvd.  I turned around, unloaded the truck and started running errands.
I don’t know if we will go out tomorrow.  It is hard to justify the $40 it costs to get out there when all we are going to do is unload some boxes and do some painting.  We’ll see.

01 September 2010, 1426, Wednesday

Okay, it’s less than a week since my last entry.  That still counts.  All I have really done up until Monday was work for the Army at the Reserve Center and at a conference in Little Rock.  Did not do anything useful except for making the extra money needed to hold things down while we are waiting for the house to sell.  So, I will skip to Monday.
We left for the camp early and arrived just after 0900 because we got some food and some cubes and horse feed.  Dad had come in the night before because Grandmother had not seen the horses in a while.  They were fine, just running with the wild bunch.  We will have to go back to segregating the horses from the rest of the herd.  That will also keep the cows away from the highway.  Dad had driven by the place a couple of times, but made a point not to look at it as he knew we would want to give him the tour.  I appreciate that.  He helped us unload some of the boxes that we had brought up and we gave him the tour.  It was fun.  He was very impressed with the size of the home and the views we had selected.
We saddled up and Anna rode the 4-wheeler with some cubes.  We did not do very good cowboying.  We were going to use the 4-wheeler to toll them up, but we did not get out there soon enough with the vehicle.  Once the cows saw mounted riders, they were skittish.  Once that happened we should have worked them like cowboys.  Instead, we faded back into Bobcat Woods and hoped they would follow.  They kind of did, but we never bunched them up.  Rebel and I had a great ride chasing down a pair.  They got south of me and started to head through Bobcat Woods back out to the Savannah, away from the pens.  It was thick enough that we couldn’t get ahead of them, but we stayed with them until they hit open ground, then Rebel poured on some speed and we got around them.  I wore Rebel out and that is not easy to do.  There were a lot of down trees so we got to practice our jumping a little bit.  I lost my hat, but found it later.  It reminded me of why I love this stuff so much.
It has been a long time since we went out to pen cows, but did not get anything.  Fortunately, there had been some up close to the pens the night before when Dad was looking for the horses so he got them in.  There were about 8 calves in there.  If they weren’t there, we probably would have gone back and penned what we lost, but we had plenty to work so we got to it.
What we failed at in rounding them up, we made up in cutting.  We cut the cows out in about 5 minutes.  They just all wanted to go.  The calves were a little harder to work, but we got them all in.  Anna was “Johnny on the spot” with the gate for the trailer.  The more we do the more of a hand she becomes.  I’m very proud of her.
We hauled them off to Raywood and ate lunch there.  We also watched the sale a little bit.  I will start going to the sale more often to try to find some good replacement cows.  The calves we brought to the sale were absolutely beautiful.  They were all the same size, color, etc.  If we had forty of them we could have sold them as a bunch.  However, we only have about 20.  Once again, I will start tagging them as soon as I can to see if I can figure out where the problem is.
Anna did some more painting in the afternoon.
Yesterday, was my day off.  Today, I did the yard.  I even got up and ran.  Now it’s just admin stuff.

26 August 2010, 0626, Thursday

Not much happened yesterday.  I was at the reserve center conducting command inventories so I can process out.  Made a lot of progress on property book items, but still have to do the OCIE, which is basically the helmets, web gear, canteens and other personal items issued to Soldiers.  Shouldn’t be too hard, just tedious.  I talked to Dad and we will be meeting out there on Monday to take some calves to the sale.  Unfortunately, my ranching hasn’t started yet, so I don’t know which calves belong to what cows.  Oh well, since we are only going to Raywood we might have time to match them up and record which cows are worth keeping.
The best news is that electricity will be scheduled sometime next week.  This means we could move soon.  It won’t be the weekend of the 4th because that will be too soon, and it won’t be the weekend after that because I have drill.  Maybe the next weekend.  I might move in before that in order to be available for subbing.  We’ll see.  Very exciting!

24 August 2010, 2022, Tuesday

We took most of the furniture out of storage on Saturday.  The ol’ truck could barely do it and we only had half of the trailer filled.  We had to run the heater some and never could run the AC.  That’s a little discouraging.  On top of everything, we need a new truck.  It’s okay.  I have to believe that God will provide.  I also have to be faithful to do my end.  My cousin Blake and his wife Brandi were there and they helped us unload, which was nice.  Anna painted and I checked on the cows.  They were making a lot of racket, but I think they just got on both sides of the fence and couldn’t figure out how to get back together.  It was nice to see the cows.  Reminds me what I am doing.  And that is to manage the ranch such that we can get better than a 10% calf crop.  Tagging the cows and calves is the only way.  We will have to use the old tags, but we will make it work.  If we keep eyes on them, then we can replace the tags accurately when they lose one.
When I got back to the trailer I finally decided to cut that tallow tree down that had a branch hanging over the road.  I was already soaking wet, so I didn’t want to change out of my uniform for the day which was shorts and a t-shirt.  Nevertheless, I cut the thing down.  While working on it, I realized that I had been sawing through a poison ivy vine.  Yep, I am covered on both arms and a little on my legs and some on my nose.  However, with prayer, a lot of vitamin C and a good tecnu srubbing shortly after exposure, I have been able to keep the seriousness of it down.
Sunday, was a lazy day and Monday was too somewhat.  We mowed and managed to get all of our stuff from storage to the garage.  Today, I went to the Reserve Center.  I got up early, but didn’t leave early as I had wasted too much time there.  Not tomorrow.

20 August 2010, 0808, Friday

My daily blog is occurring weekly and with no good excuse.  We got the water hooked up and it holds nicely.  I need to do the support for the pipe that goes from the home to the ground.  We also covered up the ditch.  The pipe is a little shallow in places, but I think it will be fine.  It never gets too terribly cold and we will run water through the pipes if it does.  After careful consideration we finally decided to use the chainsaw on the big dead tree.  It took some doing, but it came down.  That’s one more hard task out of the way.
This week was spent in Clear Lake.  I had some catch up to do here, but didn’t do a good job with it.  I was also waiting on Entergy to come up with the easement which we will use to get going on the power.  It is now ready.  I will pick it up today and take a load from storage.  When I come back, I’ll bring the stock trailer and we will see if my ol’ truck can haul a full load back to Batson tomorrow.

13 August 2010, 0921, Friday

Once again, a long time.  Frankly, whenever Anna is not working I don’t do writing or administration stuff.  I will have to get around that somehow.  Discipline is the key, but I also don’t want to neglect the most important thing.
We did shoot personal pistols on Saturday.  I did not shoot mine as they are all packed or at Grandmother’s.  Sunday, I stayed at the unit and did admin stuff and went to the IPR for the FTX.  The Battalion Commander was displeased with how that was going.
The most important thing that I did was to quit the bookstore job.  They had me going in 5 days this week.  I started crunching numbers and I realized that I was spending 2 hours of pay just to get there and back.  It was not worth it.  Plus, I feel like the sub jobs are going to work out well.  It was really a relief.
I don’t even remember what we did on Monday.  I know we slept in and went to storage and got some stuff.  Tuesday morning, we got up early and I dropped Anna and the dogs off and I went to substitute training at Liberty ISD.  Melissa met Anna there and when I got back we took a long lunch, then worked on finishing the ditches.  It was very hot so we knocked off kind of early.  Melissa went on home after supper.  While I was in Liberty, I think I solved the internet problem.  It looks like a hot spot is the way to go.  We can get a good one and a cheap one so we can both have internet and the price is about $60 a month.  Not bad and cheaper than Hughesnet.  We will probably get it today on the way out there.
Wednesday I left Anna with the ditches and went off to substitute training at Hardin ISD.  It was a lot shorter so I stopped at Hull-Daisetta and finished paperwork there.  That afternoon, it was a little shadier so we started gluing pipes together.  Anna is amazing.  She dug and worked all morning.  What a trooper!  It took some cutting and fitting, but we got the pipes put together and hooked to the city water.  We went back to the house and played a couple of rounds of cards and ate to let the stuff dry.  We went back, but when we turned on the pipes, we realized that the two halves of the mobile home were not hooked together.  It will be easy enough to do, but we didn’t have the right pieces.  In any event, our pipes are not leaking.  A major milestone was hit.  By the time we got home it was pretty late.  We spent some time discussing what name we should give the place.  We didn’t come up with anything that we both liked, but we will.  I just don’t want to call it “the trailer”.
Thursday, we goofed around again, but also went to Lowe’s for the couplings for the plumbing.  We also looked at porch stuff, rain gutters, and Anna got some paint samples that she is excited about.  We played more cards that night.
This morning, we mowed and trimmed.  I have got to catch up on admin stuff and then we will strike out for “the …..”  I still don’t know what to call it.

07 August 2010, 0949, Saturday

Belle was jumping around Thursday morning as happy as can be, but her leg was swollen up like a donkey leg.  That night we discovered a wound on her foot.  On the right side, of course.  She always gets wounded on the right side.  On her left, Belle could pose for the Black Mouth Cur Calendar, but her right side looks like it belonged to Michael Vick.  The swelling has gone down, but we are keeping an eye on the sore to make sure it is not a bite of some kind.
Thursday morning I did the sub training for West Hardin ISD.  Looks like a good gig.  I was the only guy attending the training.  Work was okay, but as soon as I can, I will pull chalks.  I think the worst part is that the books are not organized up to my OCD standard.  When I get more comfortable, I’ll work on that.
Thursday night we went to East Star.
Late for drill on Friday, but no one cared.  CPT Fregia and I went to the range in his POV and we stood around and BS’ed.  At drill now and we are about to go back out.  More of the same until the Soldiers leave, then we will shoot personal pistols.

04 August 2010, 2148, Wednesday

Fed the horses this morning around 0645.  It was nice just walking in the morning.  I got a picture of what the road might look like.  If we took the fence down from the West side of the camp road up to our drive, it would really make a nice vanity drive.  Of course, moving equipment, mowing, and cutting up all the dead trees would also be necessary.
Work was good.  I am torn on what to do, though.  Anna wants me to quit, but I hate to give up any job, even if it is too far away and doesn’t pay.  More prayer on that one.  Michael (Manager) couldn’t get the Computer Based Training to work so I started off by restacking bins of books on a pallet.  After that, I was told to wander around the store looking around.  No problem there at all.  The rest of the day I did the CBTs.  Selling the Books A Million membership card may be a problem.
That afternoon, I ate soup out of the can and visited with Andy and Grandmother.  They had arranged a tree guy to come by at 1800.  Also, the water people were there but left because they were going to have to encase the water that was going through Grandmother’s septic system.  So, I stopped at the tree that has caused us so much consternation and decided that Uncle David was right and that I should at least look at using the pole saw and the bucket.  So, I got the tractor and Grandmother’s saw and started cutting.  I did a lower limb first and it worked pretty well.  Then, the big one.  Well, that’s the afternoon.  Cutting and cutting and cutting.  It was just high enough that I had to reach up slightly most of the time so to rest, I put the end of the pole on my head and let my arms hang.  It was slow going, but I could see that it was cutting.  I asked Grandmother to cancel the tree guy and kept cutting.  Then I asked her to get the cable with the weight on it.  After about half a dozen attempts, I got the weight thrown over the limb.  We tied a rope on it and then around the bucket.  No luck.  Kept cutting.  Around 1900.  Grandmother said she would go get dinner ready.  I gave up shortly after that, but figured I would tighten the rope and pull on it again.  The bucket came down as much as it could so I started to back up.  The front wheels came off the ground, but the rope held.  I tried again and she cracked and came all the way down.  Done!  I let out a holler and a prayer of thanks, then collected tools and went to dinner.
After visiting with Grandmother some, I went outside to check on the dogs.  Belle is limping so bad she won’t even put her foot down.  Lord, that dog needs help.  It looks swollen, so I am about to go check on it again.

03 August 2010, 2111, Tuesday

Okay, another big couple of days.  I did the paperwork on Thursday at Books a Million and then stopped at the Water Place to make the down payment.  Wow, everything is blurring together.  I’ll have to better on my dailies.  Friday and Saturday we were both here and we rented the ditch digger and that went pretty quickly.  We thought and pondered and messed around with the trees that need to be trimmed for the power lines.  That is one I haven’t figure out yet.  Some of the branches are pretty high.  Sunday we went to the early service and Rita and Phillip prayed with us.  Rita got an answer to her prayer later that day.  We are still waiting for some of ours.  The open house only had a couple of people come by.  It doesn’t matter.  It only takes one.  I got frustrated at the lawn mower.  Anna’s right.  I get discouraged very easily when things don’t go well.  I need to work on that.
Monday was supposed to be an admin day, but it turned out to be a sit on our butts and watch NCIS day.  I mean we were spent.  I ended up staying up until about one in the morning doing the things I should have done during the day, but I got all my emails answered and budget updated, etc.
This morning I got up early, cleaned up and left around 0630 for the Camp.  I dropped off the dogs and then went to Books a Million for my first day.  Only I wasn’t on the schedule until tomorrow.  Can’t explain that.  I am convinced that my boss said Tuesday from 9-1 and Thursday from 12-5.  Oh well.  At least the error wasn’t the other way-that is me not showing up on a day I was scheduled.  So, I spent the morning hitting the school districts.  I am encouraged about that gig.  I went to Kountze, then West Hardin, then Hull-Daisetta, then Hardin, and then to Liberty.  On the way I stopped at the Sam Houston Research library.  That would be a great place to work.  I’ll have to keep checking their openings.  I got a lead on the genealogical society for Hardin County.  I’ll have to store that one away for later.  After filling out all the applications, which by the way were almost identical, I got some gas (again), then stopped at M&M Rent-All to check on their man-basket for trimming the trees.  It was $400/day.  Out of the question.  The doctor bills from falling out of the tree will be cheaper.  However, Grandmother was talking to Andy and he suggested I call a guy in Liberty he knows that does tree-trimming.  It was always busy, so I’ll ask her to verify the number tomorrow and try again.
I got changed and put on a long sleeve work shirt, BDU top, sunglasses, and barb-wire gloves and poisoned and hacked the Poison Ivy on the infamous power line tree.  The branch is about 25 feet up and the whole thing is covered in the wicked plant.  Some of the leaves are the size of my hand.  I already am infected from the other day, but have a nice pill pack.  I need to get the doctor to let me just keep one in reserve.  Anyway, I climbed up pretty high, but came down because I knew that Anna would not approve.  Then, I went back to the house and applied the Tecnu.  So far, I think I’m clear.  I visited with Grandmother a bit, ate can of soup in there somewhere, and then started laying down the pipe and dressing up the ditch.  A lot of work there, but very satisfying.  Aunt Josey and Grandmother came to get me around five and I had a great pork chop supper.  Then, back out to the ditch.  Quit around 1930 and back around 2000.
Anna suggested that we don’t do the Septic until after the house sells.  She may have a point, but it’s disappointing.  For that matter we could wait on the power too.  Those are the two big expenses and we are running really short of funds, especially if we have to pay some more mortgage payments.  We’ll pray about it, but I think she may be right.

24 July 2010, 1307, Saturday

We reached a major milestone yesterday.  We now have a mobile home on the property.  It is fastened up and awaiting the crew to come out and trim it out.  Of course, it is also awaiting power, water, septic, and internet.  My existence for the next week is pressing on all that stuff so we can start moving our stuff in.  The house in Clear Lake is on the market, but only one couple has come through.  We will host another open house a week from tomorrow and hopefully that will get a bite.  The house is beautiful.  Anna did a fantastic job getting it up to snuff.  The real problem is the economy is keeping people shy about buying homes right now.  So, we continue to trust God.  This morning Anna commented that it will be interesting to see how God’s timing will be evident in the timing of the sale.  I wonder if it will be perfect timing for the buyer.
We will definitely need some more income other than my job at Books a Million.  There are a couple of options.  We could both work part-time.  Anna could work full time and support me ranching and writing for a year.  I could work full time somewhere.  We could also not pay back the money to the IRA, pay the tax penalty, and live off the rest until we can make something happen.  Of course, the idea of not having to work at all, that is, not to work for someone else, has its appeal, but I like neither the depletion of our savings or the idea of being supported by my wife.  Once again, God has engineered a situation by which we must rely on His answer.  The other day, I was driving down the camp road on the tractor and Grandmother’s dog Tye was trotting alongside.  From my vantage point, I saw a rabbit up ahead that he would just love to chase.  Tye couldn’t see him, but I could.  I knew that if he stayed with me he would see it eventually and he did.  It occurred to me that we are like that with God.  If we stay close to God, even though we get off the path now and then, we will progress down the road and get to what He wants us to get to.  Because Tye wanted to stick with me on the tractor, he got to chase a rabbit.  If Anna and I follow God and desire to be with Him for the sheer pleasure of being with Him, then we will see what He wants us to see.
The mobile home is very exciting.  We spent some time just looking through the windows at our views and walking around planning where the sheds, barns, porches, fences, and car ports will go.  I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.  So much to do, and I believe God will provide the time and resources to do it.  I love bringing order to chaos.

28 July 2010, 1845, Wednesday

Came out to Batson on Monday and met with our trim out guy.  He was very late and forgot his compressor, but we arranged that he would come back today.  This morning he called me and let me know that weather looked bad so he would be out tomorrow.  Fine.  I’ll be here.  I’m staying here tonight.  Gas is eating us up.  I met with the water engineers and the Entergy engineer and everyone knows what to do.  I expect both of these will be on next week.  Well, power may take a little longer.  What I have to do is dig a ditch from the meter by our driveway to the house.  It’s about 300 feet.  I attempted to use a plow, but it didn’t fit on the tractor and I used a maintainer blade, but it didn’t cut deep.  Of course, I could do it by hand, but time is of the essence.  Plus, I pulled or strained my stomach a little bit while manhandling the equipment today.
While I was talking to Anna she got a call from the show people.  There will be people coming to see the house tomorrow morning.  Excellent timing.  I trimmed yesterday and I have the dogs, so it certainly is a good time.  Another note.  I have to call Jim Gibson.  He is working with maladjusted kids in Liberty.  I wonder if the ranch experience could be helpful.  Finally, Grandmother said that a new book on Hardin County is in the offing.  I would love to be a part of that project.

07 July 2010, 1141, Wednesday

Met with Realtor last night and we are putting the house on the market tomorrow.  So, we ended staying up late last night.  I would have gone to bed, but Anna was motivated and I can’t sleep when she’s working.  I think it’s the officer in me.  We made a trip to Lowe’s, got replacement towel racks, switch plates, pots, etc.  I got caught up on some paperwork.
We just finished the front yard, but it started raining before we could do the back.  I am about to go to Kountze to do paperwork.  Anna will follow me to the notary so we can do a Power of Attorney.  Okay, got to run.

06 July 2010, 0924, Tuesday

Okay, I missed a couple of days.  We had been talking about making a run to the Camp (the old school word for the ranch) and after calling our dirt guy and finding out that he could do it that day, we threw a bunch of stuff in the truck and headed out.  We met him there around noon and they started with the road.  We staked out the place with a rope, and a couple of loads were brought in, but the rain kept us from finishing.  It has still been wet, so I will give him a call today to see how he is coming.
Friday, we were bushed and we didn’t end up doing much.  Saturday was the Fourth of July Reunion and we had a good time with a lot of trips out to “the house” which is basically a rope on the ground.  “Don’t despise small beginnings”, rigtht?  Our friends Scott and Chaundra were there and so was my friend Tim.
Sunday was another day of rest, so Monday we hit it hard.  We put a bunch of stuff in storage.  I think we are done there, it is pretty full.  We also cleaned up the Library, painted the trim on the house where the old basketball goal was, I called Entergy, things like that.  I decided to go with our dirt guy for the septic system.  It is a traditional system as opposed to aerobic, but it is also about 3 grand instead of 7.  No-brainer, there.  I was also skeptical about the practicality of the sprinkler system in the middle of a horse pasture.
Annual Training looms overhead like a big cloud.  I would love to have all of this done before I leave, but it doesn’t look like that can happen.  I am toying with the idea of having the home moved and then all the hookups done after I get back.

01 July 2010, 0730, Thursday

Another frustrating day yesterday.  This time, Anna and I were upset at each other.  We were both worried about getting tasks accomplished and to make it worse, it was a different set of tasks.  By the afternoon, we were better and we had a nice evening watching NCIS again.  We also managed to get a lot done.  We got almost all of the big stuff to storage; the desk, the file cabinet.  We also put in the hot water valve, the sink, finished the sliding glass door, and got the garage door openers down.  The only big things left are hanging the side-entry garage door and cutting up the log.  I have lots of phone calls to make today.  We also had the electrician come out and fix our outlets that weren’t working.  That didn’t take long at all.
It rained some off and on and was cloudy thanks to tropical storm Alex.

30 June 2010 0737

Frustrating day yesterday.  I went into Lowe’s and ended up buying the wrong rollers for the sliding glass door.  I had already taken the storm door off and the faulty door as well, so I was pleased with my progress thus far.  When I got home, that’s when it started to go south.  We got the rollers in, but they were the wrong ones, so it was a lot of work to get them in and out.  We ended up applying lots of WD-40 to the old ones and adjusted them to work.  The door still makes some noise, but rolls well.  I guess the frustrating thing was that it took all day for that one thing.  It would be really enjoyable to come across a job on the list that does not take all day.  To make matters more frustrating, I also took some time out to order insurance thru Tri-Care.  Of course, I hadn’t entered Anna in the DOD records, so I was only able to get it for me.  It works out to be about $30 a month difference.  We will get her on the list next month.  $30 could prove to be a lot of money.
We had agreed to watch Trace and Connor (these are Anna’s friend’s Teri’s kids) in the evening for an hour or so.  When it came time to get them, I was still screwing the storm door back on, but jumped in the car with her at the last minute.  Neither of us wanted to go, but God was faithful.  I’ll explain that, because it’s one of those trite religious sayings I dislike.
I was upset at God.  Upset that every little job we had undertaken had been a major ordeal and upset about the possibility of possibly losing the ranch in the long run.  I confessed this, but it didn’t change my feelings.  Anna and I talked on the way over and sat in the parking lot of the day care and that helped a bit.  We decided that we didn’t want the kids running around the house with all of the tools still out, etc.  So we went to McDonald’s.  Neither of us wanted to mess with the kids that night, but watching them play and eating some French fries made a world of difference.  God gave us a break even though we (especially me) had bad attitudes.  That’s what I mean when I say “God is faithful”.  I guess I could say, He’s loyal as well.
It was cool from cloud cover most of the day, which was nice.  No rain, though.  Grandmother called in the evening with a number for Travis Crisman for the dirt needed for the mobile home pad.  I used to teach Sunday School to his daughter so that will be a good contact.

28 June 2010, 2218

It has been almost three weeks since my last entry.  This is indicative of how busy we have been.  What is interesting is that as steady as our progress is, we have not reached a whole lot of the huge milestones that we were hoping to.  We have installed the oven, dishwasher, and vent hood.  The fluorescent lights in the bathrooms are replaced and the holes where they were have been dry-walled and painted.  I have purchased a door for the garage and we will now take down the garage door openers, put in the walk-through side door, and cut up the log left in the backyard from Hurricane Ike.  Like I said, we have a lot to do yet, but I have finished my last day of work so we are doing it like a job.  That’s exciting.  In my head, I am ranching.  I have control of my hours, work, and the way I do things.  Not going to work for someone else today was a milestone.  It’s not putting the house on the market, or getting the mobile home moved out to the ranch, but it is the change in lifestyle that we were hoping for.  I guess that’s why I insisted on writing tonight.  I still need to record the weather, etc. like a good rancher and I haven’t figured out whether or not to make that a separate document or not, but I’ll figure out the best way soon.
We did pay for the mobile home.  We own two houses now, and that is interesting.  We also have a pittance in an IRA, but we’ll get some back.  Let’s see, I also talked to Dad about me working at Books-a-Million, which I did get.  It doesn’t pay well at all, but it’ll help make ends meet until other things work out.
I will miss working with the kids.  I have a sense that there will be more of that in the future.  I would like to combine all of the different elements of my past into one amazing job/ministry.  A mounted LDC, or a youth reenacting group with an educational aspect.  Who knows.  The possibilities are limitless.  Especially when you consider who is behind all of it.
Hot today, but heavy cloud cover made it a lot more bearable.  There was a good rain at Lowe’s, but not at the house.  We arose a little later than normal, then loaded up the truck and car with boxes, saddles, a bookcase, and the dishwasher and went to storage.  After lunch, I went to Lowe’s and got more stuff for the cursed vent hood, a blank door, an electric drill, rollers for drawers, vertical blinds, and a baseboard.  When I got back, it was 1630, so I experimented with the vent hood and my brilliant wife reminded me that there is a non-ducted/filtered option for the darn thing.  Ahh, that was the answer I had been looking for.  The way it was I was going to have to cut holes in the ceiling and/or the cabinet and it was going to be a major project.  That was a no-brainer.  I duct-taped the hose coming from the attic, the hole, the vent hood, and the cabinet bottom and called it a day.  If anyone asks, I’ll tell them that it comes with an option to duct.
I made a point of cleaning the house up (at least the part we are living in) before cleaning up.  It made for a more enjoyable evening.  We also dropped by Scott and Chaundra’s to give back his tools.  Anna has known Chaundra since junior high and I knew Scott and Chaundra from my old singles group.  (It is through them that Anna and I met.  Scott was finishing Seminary when we got married so we got to have Scott perform the ceremony.)  We visited for a little bit.  They will be coming to the 4th of July (on the 3rd) so that will be fun.  Every year, the Saturday closest to July 4th, the Crows have a family reunion.  It is a pretty big deal.

09 June 2010, 1408

Another exciting day yesterday.  The financing for the mobile home was going to be dependent on income.  All I needed was the contract and a verification of employment letter.  Well, it is true that I am currently employed, but as of Tuesday, I will be temporary.  I went in to talk to our school secretary about the verification of employment letter, but got an icky feeling in my stomach.  I couldn’t do it.  The basis for loaning us the money for the home was to be equity in our current home, and cash from a 401K, not income.  I felt deceptive and I knew that I couldn’t do it.  I decided that I would not press the verification of employment letter.  Great!  I knew I had made the right decision about what not to do.  What I did not know was what I SHOULD do.  I could feel myself start to freak out, but chose to pray and trust instead.  The only way left was to go ahead and draw the money out of the 401K, take the tax penalty and then pay back as much as possible and hope it worked out at the end of the year.  I called Vanguard and learned that when I roll the money into an IRA a lot of different rules apply.  I don’t need to pay a tax penalty up front and whatever I pay back in 60 days is not subject to taxation at all!  Praise God, He has come through again.  I’m always a little embarrassed that I am surprised by that.  Now, we are going to pay cash for the home.  Easy and simple.
I also applied at Books-a-Million.  TSC didn’t have anything, but the bookstore was one of the things that I was wanting anyway.
Anna and Melissa painted baseboards and I think they finished this morning.

08 June 2010, 0011

It’s been almost a month and a lot has happened and so much more has yet to happen.  We have made a deposit on a double-wide mobile home that was a repossessed.  It has been refurbished and is in good shape.  There are some minor cosmetic issues, but overall it’s a great deal.  It looks like we’ll be able to pay the thing off with some money from the 401K and equity from our house.
Things that have been done:
·         Picked a general spot for the home.
·         Got permission from Grandmother to use that spot.
·         Contacted a realtor.
·         Repainted colorful and interesting red wall in the kitchen with nice light brown.
·         Painted baseboards.
·         Had carpet guy come to house for estimate.
·         Informed my students and most of my family that I quit.
I was going to list the things that still need to be done, but that may be too monumental a task.  The average reader could lose interest and I could lose my mind.  One of the more stressful things is the lack of income.  Am I actually quitting a job without one on the other end?  That’s crazy, especially in this economy.  My Dad in particular will be worried.
By yesterday morning I was pretty morose.  Having to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go to drill didn’t help much.  It wasn’t a very busy day for us so I managed to make it into chapel.  After singing a couple of songs (it’s always interesting in the army to see how quietly a Soldier can sing) the Chaplain said that he wasn’t going to preach, but just take prayer requests.  The thing was on my mind so I asked for prayer for me and my wife because I have quit and was moving and needed a job and although I know it’s a faith-step, it is still scary.  That turned the service into encourage LT Crow day.  Of the 8 or so people there, 5 of them were currently or had at one time lived completely on faith.  For a whole year, some of them would get a check from somewhere every month without having a steady job.  Each one of them reminded me that I was stepping out in faith and being obedient.  As long as I could bring my thoughts captive to Christ, then He would take care of me.  Wow!  Just the fact that those words came to me at that time was proof enough.  It has been a much better time since then.  On the way home from the Reserve Center, I remembered that I had made a point to thank God and praise him for what He was doing despite the way I felt.  It was not heartfelt.  It was not what I wanted to do, but God honored even that.  We are very lucky to have a God who is so faithful.
Today, Anna and Melissa (her sister) painted baseboards and we all took turns pressure-washing the drive and sidewalk.  I took some time to straighten the house and do some housework just for my peace of mind.  At 10:30 or so, we took a trip to Wal-Mart to get some boxes.  Trips to Wal-Mart are kind of an event for us.  I guess we’re getting ready to be good country folk.

14 May 2010

I quit my job yesterday.  That is, I started quitting my job yesterday and am still quitting today.  It can be confusing in a world where there are multiple bosses.  I work (for the next month or so) as an instructor for military science at an intermediate school in League City, TX.  It’s kind of like a junior Junior ROTC.  I won’t go into a lot of detail because it won’t matter much this summer, but a little background might help.
Our family has been in the ranching business in some capacity for 130 years.  It’s never been our sole income, but it’s been a big part of life.  Typically, the patriarch and ranch manager had moved out to the ranch upon retirement, his son and other descendants making regular weekend visits to do the cow work, fence repair, and anything else that is needed.  Things rocked along like this for several generations, but I loved it so much that I decided that I wanted to make a career out of it.  I was also interested in the military, so Texas A&M seemed like the right place to go.  In 1994, I graduated with a degree in Agricultural Economics, Farm and Ranch Management option.  I did not take a military commission at that time.
1994 was not a good year for ranching.  Texas was in the middle of a drought and cattle prices were way down.  Instead, I took a job as a loan officer for Production Credit Association of Farm Credit.  I learned a lot watching and loaning money to other ranchers.  What worked and what did not work.  That job eventually led me to Winnie, TX, which was in striking distance of the ranch.  I lived in the mobile home my Dad and his wife put on the ranch for the weekends, hoping to use my spare time to work the ranch.  I did some, but it still didn’t take off and I was still young.  Eventually, I got bored with my job and moved to College Station to work with an agricultural research and analysis firm.  That was interesting work, but not profitable and I got laid off along with most of the rest of the company.  That led me to another career change.
Dad had been working in Houston for the space program since the 1970’s and he knew that they were hiring people so I got on at entry level working in the Crew Office supporting the shuttle avionics upgrade.  At that time I was a little lost.  I was a wannabe rancher working in the space program thinking about going back to school for an engineering degree so I could be a flight controller.  One calculus class cured that idea.
Management!  Leadership!  That’s the opportunity that I was missing.  I couldn’t get it at NASA without a technical degree so I got a commission in the Army Reserves after 9/11 based largely on the fact that I had had two years of Naval ROTC and four years of the Cadet Corps at A&M.  Naturally, it didn’t take long after my Officer Basic Course for me to get deployed.
Now the wannabe rancher was leading and driving in supply convoys almost every day.  Fine.  I can use my leadership experience here to get a good management job back at NASA.  Still didn’t happen.  So, I decided to leave the space program.
I heard about an opportunity of teaching Leadership Development Corps at the intermediate school.  I would be the boss.  I would lead and train young kids.  I would get to play ball with them and show them how to march.  That is where I am today.
I have a campus with around 90 kids.  I have 5 classes including a class of leaders who plan events for everyone else.  I also have a conference period and I cover the In School Suspension during lunch.  On top of this, there are team practices after school every day.  The program has been so successful in the district that they decided to split me to do two campuses next year.  Twice the booster club meetings, twice the number of practices, half again as many cadets, and at least an extra two hours a day with a pittance for an increase in pay.  That was it.  That is what it finally took to remind me what my goal had been 20 years ago.
My wife is great.  We met shortly after I started teaching (that whole story is a blog in and of itself).  It took her some time to get used to the idea of living in the country.  She had thought about living in the country some as a child, but got away from it like me.  Since then, we have both been brought back to it.  I say brought to it very literally.  Being committed believers we know that God has a purpose for us.  We know that God puts in us the desires of our hearts.  We know that God directs our lives.  Finally, He has directed us back to our vision.  We have felt Him speaking to our hearts and He has also confirmed it through little signs here and there.  Two Bible stories that apply kept popping up.  One was the story of Joshua and Caleb scouting out the land and not being afraid of the giants that inhabited it.  The other was God calling Abram to leave Ur and all of its comforts for an unknown future.  So, after much prayerful consideration, I quit my job.