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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Something To Read

Here's something to keep you occupied while I'm away doing the grandma thing... (like you have nothing better to do...grin!)

http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSN2526865120080526?sp=true

It's an interesting article about people living off grid.

Wretha

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Baby Pix

Hello everyone, I had to sneak in a few pix of my new grandbaby, her name is May Lynn, she is the cutest baby ever! Of course I have to say that, being the grandma and all... :)








Proud Daddy





Here is proud Great-Grandpa






Here I am, Grandma




Here is happy Mama



Wretha

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Big Town Update

Hello everyone,

I'm writing from my sister's house in the DFW area, it's been quite different being in in the big town, it's noisy, it's dirty, too many cars going way too fast... I will have lots to write here when I get back, I got a notepad so I can keep notes on what is going on so I don't leave anything out.

So far everything is going pretty well, I can stand the noise and commotion long enough to get things done here, my DIL is doing great, the baby is due on the 24th.

I'll try to work out a way to post a few more messages here while I am gone, can't promise anything though.




Wretha

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Time To Go, BRB

Hello dear readers, (wow, that sounds pretty formal...)

I'm going to be gone for a month, gotta go become a grandmother! My DIL is due on the 22nd, she is having a girl, so far everything is going good, the baby is active and mom-to-be is ready to be un-pregnant. :) I'll be leaving tomorrow morning, it's about an 8-9 hour trip (500 miles), fortunately the views are pretty nice, until I get into the DFW area... I have to be honest and say that I do not want to leave here, I do want to be with my son and DIL for the baby, and there are some things I need to get out there, but I am not looking forward to being gone from here for a month, but we do what we have to do, I'm hoping the time will go be quickly and I'll be back here in no time. I will be able to catch up with a few of my friends, that will be a good thing, I'll also be able to get some stuff I can't get easily here.

I'll pretty much be out of touch (computer wise) while I'm gone, it's possible that I might be able to log on to someone's computer once or twice while I'm gone, but I can't guarantee anything, I'll try my best.

What really hurts is I will be leaving the 3 things I really love, Bob, Pekoe and my mountain. Bob will keep busy working on the cabin, Pekoe will turn into a puddle of "I miss my mama!", the mountain will be here when I get back.

Anyone who wants to comment, please feel free to do so, I'll try to get them approved as soon as possible, but it may be a while before you see it here.

I hope to be back sometime soon after October 15th.

Wretha

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Living With Less...

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                                               ...privacy that is.

There's nothing like using the toilet while sitting 3-5 feet away from your sweetie, especially when doing something particulary smelly. In one respect, we have lots of privacy, heck we don't have blinds or shades or any sort on our windows, for the most part, no one can "sneak" up on us, we have trained all of our friends to honk and/or holler well before they get to our place, they all understand and comply. Besides, with the cabin being so high off the ground, anyone walking up wouldn't be able to see in, short of someone sitting across the mountain with binoculars or telescope, we don't have to worry much about anyone seeing us inside the cabin no matter what state of dress (or undress) we may be in. If someone were to go to the trouble to try to spy on us, Lord help them for what they will see, they deserve what they get! In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "There is good naked and there is bad naked..." nuff said. :) 

Living as we have for the last 9 months, Bob and I have gotten particulary close, living in one room for most of the time, you either have to adapt or kill, so we chose to adapt. LOL 
Along with making sure you have all the equiment and food to survive, one other thing to consider before moving to and living in a place like this is how well do you get along with your partner? Many couples live nearly separate lives, generally both of them have to work, you spend most of your day separate from your partner, upon getting home, there are so many things to do before bed time, make dinner, clean up, get ready for the next day... if you have a family that takes even more time. Living as we do, we are together nearly 24/7, with the excepetions of the days I'm at the store (usually 2 days a week) and the rare occasions when one of us leaves to go to something, we are generally together most of the time. Fortunately Bob and I do not have a problem with this, we are so much alike in our thoughts, likes and dislikes, we do just fine being together as much as we are. We also understand that each of us needs our "private time", and we are pretty good at giving it to one another. I have been reading several blogs about people moving to or living in remote places like Alaska, living in small, one room cabins, I think it takes a special breed of people to be able to do it, and not go nutty, or maybe one has to be a bit nutty to survive, I don't know... At any rate, it's something to consider.

Ladies, I know you will understand this, when Bob and I first got together, I was very shy about using the toilet in front of him, what if I made a noise? What if it smelled? How embarrasing! Once Bob figured out I had "performance anxiety", he would purposely come into the bathroom when I was in there, he thought the whole thing was pretty funny, I fussed about it, but fussing while sitting on the porcelain throne isn't particulary effective... eventually, gradually I got over the whole thing, now I can pop myself right down on our sawdust toilet, only a few feet away from Bob and do what needs to be done (get 'er done!) with not as much as a blush or giggle, we discuss important things with him or myself on the sawdust throne. If things get too, uh, odorus, one of us just opens the window, it's easy, there are no blinds to get in the way! :)

Wretha

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

DIY Water Filter - Update (Edited-More Info Added)

WooHoo I scored!!! I found the original author/creator's PDF that shows in detail, including pix, how to make the water filter using terracotta clay. Here is the link to the download:, rightclick the link and download it:

http://wretha.googlepages.com/ClayPotFilter_final_web.pdf


I should get paid for researching on the internet... I don't know how I do it, but I almost always seem to find what I am looking for, sometimes it happens like this time, while looking for something else, I run across something that I have been previously trying to find. Today, while looking up another person who writes on off grid subjects, one of her articles turned out to be exactly what I have been looking for, a way to make your own terracotta pot for a water filter, this has an actual recipe for the clay, you don't need a kiln (a MAJOR plus!) and I believe most people would be able to do this. Here is the article, it can be found here http://www.off-grid.net/2008/06/19/cheap-water-filter-for-everyone/
check it out!



Cheap Water Filter for Everyone

Section: 
 — by Kelly Mead @ 19 Jun 2008



The Australian National University (ANU) scientist Tony Flynn has developed a process to create water filters from commonly available materials. The materials need to also be fired, which can be done without a kiln or other western technology, by using common manure.
An estimated 80% of all sickness in this world can be attributed to unsafe water and sanitation according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That can be seen in the annual 1.5 billion episodes of diarrhea in children under the age of 5, with about four million of those being fatal.
Since historically water filters have had to be imported to developing nations, which means increased cost and reduced availability for the populace. With the new filter design made from common place materials available in even the most remote places.
“These filters are a hollow ceramic vessel filled with charcoal. They are intended to filter out suspended silt and bacteria. However, at around $US5 each, they’re too expensive for individuals in many developing communities to consider purchasing,” stated Mr Flynn. “They are very simple to explain and demonstrate and can be made by anyone, anywhere. They don’t require any Western technology. All you need is terracotta clay, some used coffee grounds or tea leaves, a compliant cow and a match,” Mr Flynn continued “Everyone has a right to clean water, these filters have the potential to enable anyone in the world to drink water safely.”
Filter production is simple:
  • A handful of crushed dry clay
  • A handful of common organic material, such as coffee grounds, rice hulls, or used tea leaves
  • Add water, just enough to make a stiff biscuit dough like mixture
  • Shape into a cylinder shaped pot closed on one end
  • Dry it in sun
  • Place dried filter on a layer of dry manure, a little straw, dead leaves or shredded bark
  • Add two more layers of manure mixture on top
  • Light the straw, dead leaves, or shredder bark
  • Keep fire going until pot is completely cured (less than an hour in most cases, as different materials will mean different times)
Since using a potters kiln can take up to eight to nine hours to achieve the temperatures needed, which can be achieved using this method in a hour or less. Also with the expensive of such a kiln being prohibitive to most people, this is an excellent method anyone can make use of. Especially since no additional technology, or added insulation is needed being able to drink safe, filtered water water in almost any location on the planet. As long as water, manure, red/yellow clay and human organic debris you can make a filter that traps pathogens.
This design is purposely not being patented in a hope that it can be freely used around the world. Their belief that even third world countries should have the ability to have clean safe drinking water.
When the organic material is burned away inside the clay during the firing process it will leave cavities that can trap pathogens in the water. It is based on the basic principal that these cavities are big enough for water to pass through while being too narrow for the dangerous pathogens and the fine materials that make water muddy and unpleasant. Testing was done with E-coli bacterium and saw the filter remove 96.4% to 99.8% of the pathogen, which is well within the recommended safe levels.
This invention came from the a World Vision project that involved the community of Manatuto, in East Timor. This project was to rehabilitate a small community of potters that was devastated in the East Timor’s civil war for Independence. It was hoped that by helping the potters to produce filters would help in two ways; one give the community clean drinking water and two provide a means of revenue for the community by producing and selling them.
Using one filter it was found to produce a liter of clean water in two hours.



It seems that the terra cotta pots available in the US are not porous enough to allow enough water to drip through, the terra cotta pots need to have some sort of fine/small additive that burns out while being fired to make super small passages for the water to get though but still trap the nasty stuff we don't want to drink.

I hope this is something that can be easily done, I plan on taking this "recipe" to my potter friend, hopefully we will be able to start working on a water filter soon. :)
Thanks Kelly Mead for your great article, and thanks to http://www.off-grid.net
for doing such great work!

Be sure to read these other 2 messages if you haven't already:

http://wretha.blogspot.com/2008/05/diy-water-filter-purifier.html


http://wretha.blogspot.com/2008/07/updates-on-rabbit-water-filter.html
Here is another article, with a few more details and pictures
here is the direct link http://info.anu.edu.au/mac/Newsletters_and_Journals/ANU_Reporter/098PP_2005/_004PP_Autumn/_water.asp



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Here is the direct link for the following article: http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1381331.htm



More links with different pix and more info:
http://www.physorg.com/news2737.html

http://www.rdic.org/waterfiltrationsystems.htm

http://www.rdic.org/waterceramicfiltration.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/buzz/stories/s831994.htm


Wretha
Thanks for visiting, I love comments (but not spam), you may leave anonymous comments (you do not need to sign up or sign in). I do moderate/approve each comment, if your comment doesn't show up within a day or so, try to leave it again, if you still have trouble, email me.
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Garden Update

Garden spray update: 
The concoction I made up to spray on the garden worked, at least as far as the bugs are concerned. It's been raining the last 2 days so I couldn't get out and check it until today, I went into the garden cage, walked straight to the okra, these had been infested with aphids and were being farmed by little black ants. I looked at the okra leaves that had been encrusted with aphids, all I could see was dead aphids, hundreds, maybe even thousands of them... The ants were still walking around on the ground, I didn't see any on the plants, I need to get back out there and dust with diatomaceous earth, especially around the ground where the ants are coming in. I didn't look around much, but I didn't notice any grasshoppers either, I'll look in more detail next time I go out there. The plants look great too, I always worry that I might be making my mixtures too strong and might burn my plants, but apparently I got it right, strong enough to kill the bugs, not too strong for the plants. :)

To recap, here is what I mixed up and how I applied it:

In a one gallon container I mixed

1 cap full of mouthwash (generic Listerine type, plain-not flavored)
4-5 tablespoons blackstrap moleasses
1 palmfull of Epsom Salt
1 palmfull of powdered milk
1-2 hard squirts of Ivory dish soap

I filled the container half way with water, then I mixed everything with my hand until I couldn't feel anything granular, once mixed, I filled the gallon container the rest of the way with water. I put this into a small hand held pump sprayer, I was able to fill it 3-4 times with the mixture, I sprayed the plants with the mix making sure to get the underside of the leaves (where many bugs hide).  The spray is along the lines of Jerry Baker's recipes and Howard Garrett (the Dirt Doctor) recipes, more leaning toward Jerry's stuff, if you don't know about them, look them up by name. I love being able to use things I have around the house, non-toxic, inexpensive and it works. :)

Wretha

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Political Action Figures - Hilarious!

One of the funniest things I have seen in a long time, political action figures! Here are some of the ones they have:






















If you are interested in any of these political action figures and want to help support this blog,  click on them and purchase one through the link, I earn a little money from the sale, click on a picture, look at the bottom of the screen and click on "return to herobuilders", you can also check out the other site listed next to herobuilders.

Wretha

Thanks for visiting, I love comments (but not spam), you may leave anonymous comments (you do not need to sign up or sign in). I do moderate/approve each comment, if your comment doesn't show up within a day or so, try to leave it again, if you still have trouble, email me.
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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Garden Work, Seeds, Farmer Ants

Garden

Today I worked in the garden, I have been getting the sweetest tasting cherry tomatoes from my garden, they almost don't have a chance to get into the cabin, I eat them almost as fast as I pick them. I believe I took care of the problem I was having with bloggom end rot (EDIT that should be blossom end rot, not bloggom end rot, a Freudian slip?), the tomatoes that already had the start of blossom end rot of course couldn't be saved (I tried to cut the rot off, but the rot seemed to go quite a way through). The tomatoes that were still green, are now turning red with no sign of blossom end rot.

I went out and gathered seeds from the plants that I have let go to seed. I got a quart baggie full of raddish seed pods, one full of sweet peas and another half full of spinach seeds. I left the peas and the raddishes inside the pods, they are completely dry, later on this winter, when the weather prohibits me from going outside, I'll liberate the seeds from their pods. For now, they will be just fine. As I picked these seeds, I removed the spent plants, for now I just tossed them into the corner, procrastination gets me, I know... I'll work on them later... While I was seeding the spinach, I noticed one leaf that looked different from the other leaves, then it moved, it had legs, it was a praying mantis, about 3 inches long. I took it and tossed it along with the spent plant into the corner. I was saving it's life, I was going to do some spraying later, and the spray was going to contain soap, I wanted to kill out the grasshoppers, not the mantis. While I was seeding the plants, I noticed a multitude of black ants drawling on my okra plants, not on anything else, upon closer inspection, it seems that the ants were doing a bit of farming themselves, they were "keeping" aphids. On several of the larger okra leaves, the ones with the most ants crawling on them were incrusted with aphids on the bottom. The ants actually bring the aphids to the plants, protect them, they harvest the liquid that the aphids exude, it's a waste product from sucking the juices from the plants, the exuded liquid is sweet and the ants love it. My okra hadn't started to really suffer, yet, if I hadn't caught it, they might have gotten weak, diseased and would have given me fewer okra pods. Eventually the ants would have moved the aphids to other plants. 

I made up a mixture for a spray, I didn't really measure anything, I poured about a capfull of mouthwash (generic Listerine type, plain-not flavored), a handful of Epsoms salt (magneseum), about 2 handfulls of powdered milk (calcium), and I poured maybe, 4-5 tablespoons of moleasses (too many good things to list) and a hard squirt of Ivory liquid dish soap into a 1 gallon pitcher, I added about half a gallon of water and mixed everything with my hand until I couldn't feel anything else in the liquid, then I filled it up the rest of the way. I have a pump sprayer, it's small, I was able to fill it 4 times with the gallon of liquid. I took this and sprayed all of my plants in the garden, as I sprayed different insects began to squirm and try to get away. Grasshoppers, various catepillars, ants and aphids were all under attack! The soap is lethal to the bugs, it also lowers the surface tension of the water and allows the liquid to stick to the plants and bugs. I had planned on applying diatomaceous earth after that, but I couldn't locate my duster pump, it's not in the last 2 places I had seen it, so I will have to figure out where it is located and dust the garden later. Procrastination? Maybe... :)


Wretha

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fellow Bloggers

I would like to point those of you toward an interesting blog, that is if you aren't already a reader of this blog, it's http://journeyinthewoods.blogspot.com/, it's written by a man named Tys and it's about he and his wife Melissa. I first "met" Tys on a Yahoo group all about composting toilets, I hadn't yet made the move to my high desert mountain home, I had many questions about composting or sawdust toilets, Tys was one of the first people to reply to my queries and had a lot of advice and experience to pass on. He was a big help, and I appreciated it very much.

Since that time, I have found his blog, it's all about his life living "in the woods", he and his wife have carved out quite a place for themselves and have a great time living their lives. They are both very hard workers, you can see pix of them working hard on their projects and having fun. Check them out, you will enjoy it very much, I know I do! :)

Wretha

Thanks for visiting, I love comments (but not spam), you may leave anonymous comments (you do not need to sign up or sign in). I do moderate/approve each comment, if your comment doesn't show up within a day or so, try to leave it again, if you still have trouble, email me.
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Friday, September 5, 2008

Yuck, Political Stuff...

OK, I really hoped that I would be able to stay away from political stuff, at least I don't want it to become the main focus of my blog, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. I read this today and it scares the hell out of me, if this is true, or even partially true.. well I'll leave it up to you to come up with your own opinion. I got the link from http://www.internet-grocer.net
actually from their newsletter, I strongly suggest that if you aren't already signed up, that you get that way. Here is the link and the message (sorry for the format, that is the only way I could legally post the message here, if it's too much to deal with, just click on the link to read the whole thing):

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http://www.investors.com/editorial/editorialcontent.asp?secid=1501&status=article&id=305420655186700





Michelle's Boot Camps For Radicals from Investor's Business Daily



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Wretha

Thanks for visiting, I love comments (but not spam), you may leave anonymous comments (you do not need to sign up or sign in). I do moderate/approve each comment, if your comment doesn't show up within a day or so, try to leave it again, if you still have trouble, email me.
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How Old Is Your Bleach?

Wow, my eyes have been opened, about bleach that is! One of the things I stocked up on before my move was Clorox bleach, mainly for use in disinfecting and cleaning, but also as a water purifier if need be, well I just found out that bleach has a very definate shelf life, it's 6 months, yes, I said 6 months! It is recommended that you replace or rotate your liquid bleach every 3 months. That's so scary because I have 3 or 4 large jugs of bleach that I haven't even opened yet, these were purchased before December, now it's September, so it seems that my supply of bleach may not be as strong as I thought it would be.

Fortunately, there is an alternative, you can get powdered bleach used in pools, it's calcium hypochlorite, also known as pool shock. If you do this, be sure to get the kind that has no extra additives, you don't want any added algicides or antifungals in it.

I haven't tried this, I can only assume it's safe to use like this, at least as safe as using liquid bleach. I did a search for calcium hypochlorite and potable water, I have learned that some big city water treatment processing plants are switching from sodium hypochlorite (liquid bleach like Chlorox) to calcium hypochlorite, so it seems to be safe to use in this manner. You will need to get the granular form, not the tablets.

Using calcium hypochlorite is cheaper too, a one pound bag can treat up to 10,000 gallons of water, and in the dried form, it should last quite a long time. I will be looking for calcium hypochlorite when I go back to my previous stomping grounds in a few weeks, I'll be stocking up on some things that I didn't know I would need at the time when I moved out here.

Here are the sources where I got this info, check them out:


http://www.survivaltopics.com/survival/better-than-bleach-use-calcium-hypochlorite-to-disinfect-water/

Wretha

Thanks for visiting, I love comments (but not spam), you may leave anonymous comments (you do not need to sign up or sign in). I do moderate/approve each comment, if your comment doesn't show up within a day or so, try to leave it again, if you still have trouble, email me.
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Small House Plans

OK, so you have a property, but no home on it, or maybe you have been looking for land, a place away from the city, away from the crowds, but if it already has a home on it, the price skyrockets, you could afford to get land with no home, now what? Assuming your land (or potential land) is located in a place with no or few building codes, you can build your own home, that's what we did, and we were able to use recycled materials, making the costs minimal. Bob didn't have a "plan", though he had a rough idea of what he wanted to end up with. For those with no idea how to start, I have found a couple of small home plans to get you started, these are designed to be low cost and easy to build, you can use new materials, used materials or a combination of each. Here are the links:

This one was printed in '95 so the prices they list are out of date, but it should still be pretty cost effective to build.


This one is really good, it will cost you only $5.00 for the plans to build this cabin, it's not too much to ask, and it helps to support the author, LaMar. LaMar lives in this cabin, he lives off grid full time, he will answer any questions you may have, check it out, there are lots of pictures.


I'll search out more small house plans and post them here, look for the updates.









Wretha

Thanks for visiting, I love comments (but not spam), you may leave anonymous comments (you do not need to sign up or sign in). I do moderate/approve each comment, if your comment doesn't show up within a day or so, try to leave it again, if you still have trouble, email me.
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Cousin Cindy! :)

Cousin Cindy, email me with your phone number so I can call you.

wretha@gmail.com


Wretha

Thanks for visiting, I love comments (but not spam), you may leave anonymous comments (you do not need to sign up or sign in). I do moderate/approve each comment, if your comment doesn't show up within a day or so, try to leave it again, if you still have trouble, email me.
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Sarah Palin

I just finished watching Sarah Palin on TV, (yes, I had to go to my neighbor's house to do it...what do you think we have excess power for things like TV???) Anyhoo, I think she is cute, a powerhouse, and will make one heck of a VP, and the other thing I noticed about her, she reminds me of Peggy Hill! :) Sarah Palin looks like Peggy Hill, and she sounds like Peggy Hill, or should that be Peggy Hill looks and sounds like Sarah Palin? Can't wait to see her in office.

Peggy Hill for Vice President!

Wretha

Thanks for visiting, I love comments (but not spam), you may leave anonymous comments (you do not need to sign up or sign in). I do moderate/approve each comment, if your comment doesn't show up within a day or so, try to leave it again, if you still have trouble, email me.
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Monday, September 1, 2008

Donkeys, Deer, Tomatoes and a Marine

All is well here on the mountain, my Dad is enjoying the peace and solitude, and the various animals running around. A couple of days ago a herd of donkeys strolled through behind the cabin, we counted 9 of them, it was quite exciting to see them up close and personal, it's amazing how large they really are, they aren't the small burro variety, these are nearly as big as a horse.

The mule deer are starting to come down to the lower elevations, we have seen many of them walking around too, I even saw "Notch" a couple of days ago (Notch is a female mule deer, she has a distinctive notch in her ear and is easy to pick out from the other deer), I haven't seen her in over a month, I was very happy to see that she is alive and well.

My garden is doing pretty good, through some of the plants are looking rather ratty, I have let the spinach and some of the lettuce go to seed, they are looking particularly tattered, but I'll get some good seed from them. I noticed that I am getting blossom end rot on my tomatoes, I looked it up today to see what I can do about it, it seems that it's caused by a lack of calcium and/or low moisture, since we have been getting plenty of rain, that leaves the calcium issue. So I took a hand full of Tums (the green ones that Bob doesn't like), I crushed them up, next I added a cup (or so) of powdered milk and about half a cup of Epsom salt, I mixed it all together and put a handful at the base of each tomato plant, it began to rain as I was walking back to the cabin so it should get watered in good, hopefully this will do the trick, the Tums are rich in calcium, the milk has calcium too, the Epsom salt has magnesium in it, that is needed for the plant to be able to take up and use the calcium. This fall and winter, when the garden is done, I really need to get some good stuff into the earth, I know a lady on the next mountain who has a horse, she said I could have all the manure I want, I'm sure I'll take advantage of her offer... :)

Bob's son came by yesterday and spent the night, he had to leave today, but it was a good visit. His son is in the Marines, he is stationed in California, he got a few days off, flew to Dallas, visited his mom and other family, got his truck and a few of his things that he had left behind, he drove to our place, got here yesterday evening, made it in good time. I was very impressed with him, he found our place by himself! That's not easy to do, now he did take the hard way, our street comes out on the main road out here, but it's a difficult road to take unless you have a big truck or a 4 wheel drive vehicle, Bob had driven to the store to meet him there, but apparently that information didn't get relayed well, Bob's son drove in but didn't go all the way to the store, he saw the street we live on and turned on it, as I said, that way is very rough, there is a hairpin turn on a rocky, dirt road, and in the middle of that hairpin turn is a big hump of dirt and rock, it's difficult for most 4 wheel drive vehicles, but he made it over, though he did scrape bottom.

I saw him pull up to our place, but Bob wasn't with him, so I jumped in with him and went out to find Bob, we finally found him and all was well. I do wish he could have stayed more than a day, but he only had a few days off and he had to get back to California. But he got to see the neighborhood, our mountain and met a few people out here, he really likes it and expressed an interest in maybe buying a property and living out here after he gets out of the Marines, that would just be great! One family member down, and many more to go, we hope to get most of our families to move out here, at least the ones that would enjoy living here.

Wretha

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