Friday, August 22, 2014

Pumpkins and Peppers

Picked our first pumpkins today. We have a bunch, and some are huge. However I am fearful about them making it. This year we had no squash bugs on our zucchini, but it looks like they've found the pumpkins at this late date. I am hoping for the best.

Anyhow, pictured below are 3 pumpkins we picked today. These are the baking kind. We do have a patch of the "jack-o-lantern kind also, but we mostly planted these from last years' seeds. I believe the largest would weigh between 30 and 40 pounds. There are some even larger ones out there-some so large I can hardly believe it.

We like pumpkins, not just for ourselves, but the seeds are a great natural wormer for livestock and the pumpkin itself is highly enjoyed by the pigs.

Also in the picture note the drying cayenne peppers strung on the stove pipe. We had a bumper crop and probably won't even plant them again for a couple years. After dry, we grind the peppers and store them to add to sausage, etc.

On this feast of the Queenship of Mary - Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Canoeing down the Lynches River

Update: We actually took only one picture on this trip as we were too busy working the river. However, here is the picture. It is Nick preparing supper riverside. (Its not that great, taken with my stupid-phone.)

My oldest son, Nick bought a used aluminum canoe this summer. He went 43 miles down the Wateree River with Connor in about 10 hours (overnight trip). He went 45 miles down the Congaree River with Matthew in about the same time. It took Nick and I 8 hours to go 15.5 miles down the Lynches River-and it didn't take so long because I am now an "old man". Basically we encountered 20-25 if not more log jam blockages like the one pictured below (not our picture).
We got on the river at Highway 15 landing at about 6:00 PM on Thursday night. We paddled for about 2 hours and then found a campsite for the night. It is lucky we didn't move on, it was probably the best looking campsite we encountered the entire trip. I hadn't been on a river in almost 30 years, but there are some things you never forget how to do. I manned the back of the canoe and Nick was the lookout. The log jams came immediately. We either had to lift the canoe over, portage, or do gymnastics with the canoe and our bodies to get by these obstacles.
In days gone by, cotton was floated down the Lynches River to Charleston (via the Great Pee ). I have to imagine that they must have had river clearing crews keeping the Lynches clear. Nothing like this today. I wonder how much SCDNR would pay me to go down the Lynches with a chainsaw and cut channels.
So we camped for the night riverside. Nick cooked us a rice, cheese and sausage meal. Very tasty and filling. The student became the teacher. Nick made all the decisions on the trip and made the calls on how to get around the jams. (I did veto one of his ideas once when there was a clearly better option.)
On day two, early out, I saw a head or eyes moving perpendicular to the river. Once we got close, the gator dove to the depths. The river level varied from over 6 feet to less than a foot. Certainly if the river had been 8 inches higher, some of the log jams could have been passed easily. On the other hand, a few would have been more difficult, if not impossible, to navigate under with higher water.
There were times we had to go to the left bank to avoid a tree and then immediately go to the right bank to avoid the next obstacle, in a matter of feet. A few times we went under a log and had to lay flat to get under. Once when we were stuck on a log, Nick was under some branches. He cried "wasp!" and dove into the water. I asked him why he dove out of the boat just because of one wasp. He told me there were many! He had swatted at the wasp right under its nest in the branches and 10 or more attacked him. When I saw the nest (being still in the boat) I told him to drag me out of there!
Earlier we had just gotten around an obstacle where the current was pretty strong and we got slammed into another jam. It knocked me right out of the canoe, with Nick to follow. The canoe filled with water. We managed to get the canoe over to a small sand bar in the middle of the river and empty the water. It was actually refreshing. In fact the most boring part of the trip was toward the end when we actually had some 15 minute stretches with no obstacles.
By the time we hit the boat landing at 401, my back and bad shoulder were on the way out-me being an old man.
The whole time on the river we only saw 1 other person-a man by the river bank-probably on his own property. We saw (and in fact followed down the river) 4 of what appeared to be snowy egrets. Nick saw a bald eagle, but I missed it. No snakes, no wild boar, and just the one gater-and oh yes, wasps!
I am so glad Nick bought this canoe. The trip was fun and very challenging-a great way to end Nick's summer as he goes back to Wyoming Catholic next week.
Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 01, 2014

I mentioned a few post down about the fabulous cantaloupes we've been blessed with this year. Just to give you an idea:

And they are all sweet.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Warren Carroll noted in The Crisis of Christendom that a major peace (essentially 100 years of peace in Europe) ensued after the Napoleonic Wars. However the peace was not all it seemed. While major powers did not engage in war, revolution (and its accompanying violence) was rife throughout Europe.

I am wondering if we are seeing the same thing today. The 20th century was a century of war, including the proxy wars of the Cold War. Now, the major powers are not at war, but we see a multitude of civil wars throughout the Middle East and now in Ukraine.

During the 100 years’ peace mentioned above it seems that realignment of governance and ideology within European countries set the stage and the enemies for the violent 20th century. I sense that the ideological and governance realignment going on in regions of the world today is setting the stage for major wars in our future.

It is tragically sad to note that the periods of so-called peace are no less violent than the periods of major wars.

Oremus pro invicem!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I mentioned below I have been reading Chesterton's America. The editor, Mr. Bennett, has done a very interesting thing. While Cecil Chesterton's text forms the backbone of the book, he brings in commentary on each period of history from other Distributists' writings; for example, we find passages from G.K. Chesterston, Hillare Belloc, Herbert Agar, and other intertwined with the main text.
It is interesting to read an outside view (an English view at that) of American history. I have read several things already which we never heard in school. Just to name three: That New England relied heavily on slave trade for their economy at least until the mid-to-late 1700's. Related, that the view in the South that the African slaves were somehow sub-human was not introduced and not widely held until into the 19th century. And thirdly, the whole "No taxation without
representation" rationale for the American Rebellion was somewhat of a sham. In fact some 80% of British subjects were taxed without representation at the time. The matter was more complicated ....
But MOST surprising to me is that fact that I am reading Cecil and GK side-by-side and finding I like reading Cecil more than GK. Who would have thought?
Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I am still working on Chesterton's America (see post below) however in the mean time I read and finished The Virginian. I am surprised I never read it before. I was inspired to read it by #2 son and #2 daughter who both read it recently. Glad I did. Those who have read it may appreciate my comment to #2 son after I finished reading it: "I almost missed the gunfight, it being so subtle." (Supposedly it is the first gunfight written in a fictional western.)
Garden update: Harvested the first corn from our last plot of sweet corn. I think we will have another picking. Green beans have been coming on. Tomatoes increasing by the day. Zucchini still coming (first year with no squash bug damage-could it be the winter lasting so long?). Okra and peppers doing well too. I think the sweet sorghum has been saved by our last rain. I was worried we were losing it even though it is supposed to be pretty drought resistant. Our acre of peanuts looks good, but we need to keep up with the pigs weeds better. They have been especially prolific this year.
A friend of ours saved some cantaloupe seeds from his dad's garden in Nebraska 30 odd years ago. Last year he planted them and 5 plants came up and fruited with some of the sweetest cantaloupe I have ever tasted. My friend gave us one of these treasured cantaloupes. I saved these seeds and planted them this spring. We harvested the first ones this week. Boy are they good. The best I have ever tasted. Guaranteed we are saving more seeds!
Great to have (almost) everyone home this summer. But summer is short and many are going their own ways in mid-July and August.
Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

My son wrote this song for me for my 50th birthday. I told him he should have played it after I died so that he would be the one crying instead of me.
Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chesterton's America

Got this book in the mail today. I was inspired by this review by my favorite editor.
Can't wait to get started ... and by the way the Chesterton in the title is not GK, but his brother Cecil.
On another note, we picked 9 gallons of blueberries today in Chesterfield. These should last us a little while.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Corn & Rain

The annual precipitation in Bethune, SC is quoted (and has been quoted to me) at 45 inches per year. First, that measurement is actually for Bishopville, SC-which 19 miles south of here, and Bishopville always gets more than us. But you can't tell some people some things.
Typically, we watch rain clouds pass over our fields, cross the road and let go over the Lynches river about 1/2 mile away.
That being said, we finally got some rain today. It has been quite a while. Our cantaloupe was just about burned up. We have already lost our first two plantings of sweet corn. Actually, we picked enough small ears today between showers for one meal! One meal, I am grateful for.
We have one small patch left of sweet corn, with the rain today, may still have a chance to make.


Yesterday, the AC was in trouble at the house. We called our regular AC tech and they sent someone down. The tech checked a few things and then disappeared under the house. 45 minutes later he was still under there. My youngest son checked on him and came back chuckling: "He's asleep!" But Mrs. Curley wasn't so sure. She called me (I was working off homestead yesterday) and I told her if he wouldn't wake up, she needed to call 911 (it has been in the low 100's all week.)
He wouldn't respond so she called 911. 911 told Mrs. Curley to have someone pull him out from under the house. Number 2 son showed up and proceeded to do so .... This woke him up! I guess he was alright after all.

We've been out of pork for a while (Mrs. Curley cooked it all secretly for my 50th birthday party.) So Friday night we put down a 275 pound pig and butchered it (starting at 6:00AM) Saturday morning. Even though it was hot, we got both chores done in record time (slaughter and evisceration in 75-80 minutes; butchering in an hour flat.)

This should last us until cooler weather.


The world seems pretty crazy these days. May the Lord have mercy on us!

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, June 09, 2014

The   Deliberate Agrarian writes a few days ago in an essay commenting on the saying "Freedom isn't free":

If our military, under the direction of whoever directs them (ostensibly, the President), were defending the personal freedoms of Americans, through various military actions all over the world, especially in recent years, then why am I less free that I’ve ever been?
 I find myself asking the same question.

Oremus pro invicem!