It’s not about the money

This is part two of my dealings with an Amish Farmer.

(Make sure you read part one to get the big picture) ūüėČ

I got a call from my Amish farmer friend the first of December letting me know he would stop the next morning to pick up some apple wood.

I went over the details again.

You are going to take 1/3 of the pile of wood.¬† If I’m not home when you stop, just stick the $20 bill in the shop on the mantle.”

“Yes.¬† I will.”

Well, he did stop the next day.  I happened to be in the house doing book work and saw him pull in and leave.  Few hours later I went out to the shop to get the money.

I could not find it, so I called and left a message on his phone.  Thirty minutes later, he called back.  I asked him about the money?

There was a pause on the other end of the phone..”Well, I am a little short of cash right now.¬† Twenty dollars may not seem like a lot of money..but I will get it to you the next time I come to town.”

Me: “When do you think that would be?¬† Within a few weeks?”

Amish farmer : “Oh, yes.¬† Within a couple of weeks....”

Well, 4 weeks went by and I never heard from him.¬† Decided to send him a gentle¬† reminder with some of my apple orchard stationary…Reminded him it had been a month, and it was past due.

By now, I was starting to battle a low-grade bad attitude.  It was not about the money.  It had to do with integrity.   His word. Feeling like I was being played for a fool.

Keep in mind, I do have a market for apple wood…just have not aggressively pursued it this Winter.¬† I was getting $1 a pound for it @ a local bar.¬† Sold over $1000 worth a couple of winters ago.

My desire to be a good neighbor to this new community of Amish was starting to go south.

I was wrestling with thoughts like, “Am I being petty?¬† ¬†Is $20 worth all of the mental vexation I was expending on it?”

Problem was I couldn’t shake it. (The vexation)

There was a program @ our local library last month about the Amish. (Within the past 5 years, over 40 Amish families have moved into our area.)

One of the things I learned was that over every 25 to 30 families there are either deacons or a bishop who takes care of the day today issues of the congregation.¬† I decided last week I was¬† not going to just write off the $20, rather I was going to make an effort to contact the local Bishop (or Deacon) and tell my story.¬† If he blew me off, then I would let it go…but not until.

Last night I sent a Facebook message to a lady I know who drives for the Amish.¬† Since the Amish do not own cars, they hire out local people when they need a ride somewhere further than they can take their horses.¬† When I told her what I was thinking, she absolutely encouraged me to get a hold of the current Deacon, gave me his name and number…

This morning he returned my call.

He asked me what I wanted? I told him I had a 30 second story, and was looking for his input.

When I finished  the first thing he said, was there were two or three  people he knew that have pulled stuff like that before, then asked me his name.

I told him.

He said, “He was at the top of my list.¬† This was probably the 6th time he had gotten a phone call about this man…If it wasn’t wood, it was hay, if it wasn’t hay, it was something else…”

We talked a couple of more minutes.¬† He thanked me more than once, and said,¬†¬†“It isn’t¬†about the money.”

“I want to know about this sort of thing.¬† Thank you for calling.”

My vexation was 100% gone.

He took my name and address and said he would make sure I got my money.

 

View from the orchard floor

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Restoration of a claw foot tub part 1

This fall, the main cast iron pipe in our bathroom started to leak.¬† As it turned out, it was more serious than we realized. All of the cast iron pipe in the basement was literally disintegrating and needed to be replaced.¬† The bathroom as a whole has been in need of¬† attention ever since we moved here in 1995.¬† ¬† The lead paint¬† was chipping off the wall.¬† A purple, yellow and black color scheme that I never could figure out….¬† Soft spots in the¬† floor around the tub, that turned out to be 10 inch diameter holes under the¬†multiple layers of linoleum.¬† It is a wonder someone didn’t take a ride to the basement.

Here is a before picture:

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I have always wished out loud, if we ever did remodel I  wanted suggested a  white claw foot tub with all the bells and whistles.  (Wife and several of her lady friends, have always said, the  purple tub must stay)

Here on the other hand, is what I had in mind:

photo by google

That’s what happens when you read too many of those Country Living Magazines. ūüėČ

Well, once things got rolling¬† this Fall, it turned out the purple tub had to go…¬† (that’s too bad I thought) ūüėČ

So¬† I had permission to start looking for a claw foot tub… came across one in need of some TLC on Craigslist for $60.¬† Sure it¬† looked a little rough, but that’s half the fun of it.

Today  I had a block of time and  was able  to cut loose with a wire brush attachment and start stripping.

 

Claw foot tub feet

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Well, that’s it for now.

Mostly just wanted to start a conversation about refinishing a claw foot tub with this post…

Stay tuned for updates.  DM

 

 

 

 

In case you ever wondered what they look like…

This will have to be short…

Monday I got a call from Don. There is no doubt in my mind Don is a millionaire.¬†¬† Don is a regular client of mine and asked if I could stop by his farm house¬† and take a look at some windows that needed “tweeking.”¬†¬†¬† After I got the key from him, I grabbed number one son¬† and away we went.

The first thing I noticed when we walked into the kitchen was the smell of dogs.  Then I remembered the last time I worked there, there were two or three ankle biters running around outside.

Ankle Biter:¬† Small dogs that don’t stop barking.

I changed the furnace filter, grabbed a busted storm window sash, made some mental notes and headed home.

We were no more than two or three minutes down the road, when number one son said something about a small bug on his coat.¬†¬† He grabbed a piece of duct tape and caught it before it got away. Minute later,¬† he got another one, then a third. Son has this thing about spiders anyway, so I wasn’t paying too¬† much attention….He did something with his phone and announced those small bugs were in fact fleas.

While I had been switching out the furnace filter and a window pane, he had been on his hands and knees checking out the carpets.

When we got back to town, I texted Don and suggested the first thing he needed to do was call the Bug Man and fumigate the house. His house had fleas.

Ten seconds later my phone rang. It was Don. There was a momentary pause on the other end of the phone…then Don said to me..”That explains it.¬† I had several bits on my legs this morning when I woke up.”¬† (Don had spent quite a while at that farm-house earlier in the day assessing the situation.)

I suggested there was a very good chance he had hauled some of those fleas home with him..and they were “probably” in his bed.

More silence on the other end of the  phone..

“Do you think I should tell my wife?”

That’s your call, I said, but would definitely change the bedding.”

Being the ever thoughtful person I am,  I sent him the following picture:

Flea under electron microscope

Image compliments of google.

Never did hear from Don.

Makes me wonder if his wife knows….

Later!

PS In case you were wondering where things are at, my biopsy has been rescheduled for 1 PM December 28th.

Merry Christmas to me. ūüôā

 

Katie and the Amish Farmer

I have been on the receiving end of two attitudes the past couple of weeks with our apple give away.    Both have left  lasting impressions.

Do you mind if I tell you two short stories? ūüėČ

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Her name is Katie.

She called our place a week ago, looking for apples.

Wondered if she could stop by after work.  She wanted to make apple butter.

I told her on the phone about the hail storm in June, how it had severely damaged the crop.¬† She was more than welcome to get as many as she wanted, I didn’t want them to go to waste…and they were free. She insisted on paying something,¬† but it would have to be after she got paid on Wednesday.¬† (She works at a local nursing home.)¬† I was struck by the concerned tone of her voice on the phone.

She stopped  one of the days I was home working in the shop.

I was struck even more by her appreciative, caring attitude when I met her in person. If I could bottle it up and sell it, I would be a rich.¬† What her attitude did (and does) to my heart¬† is almost palatable….like a perfume that makes my heart glad.

Katie came back this week and got a few more apples…and a pumpkin. She insisted on giving my wife $20.

 

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This second attitude came my way via an Amish farmer.  He was here twice picking apples.  I lost track of how many bushel he ended up getting.

The second attitude¬† (if I were to put it into words) goes something like this…… You must be stupid (or uninformed).¬† Sure I will take free apples.¬†¬† Before giving my friend your phone number I want to make sure I get all I want).

I don’t have a prejudiced, biased, judgemental bone in my body toward the Amish.¬† It has nothing to do with that. In the past¬† few years the Amish have been moving into our area in droves.¬† I interact with them every chance I get.

The Amish farmer asked if I had any apple wood he might be able to get for smoking.¬† Just so happened I did have a pile stacked by the barn I was hoping to sell to local restaurants…. When he asked me what I would charge for the wood, (this was after getting all of those free apples) I still sensed he was trying to get as much as he could for the least amount of money….

I just think it is hard-wired into some people to do business this way.

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People¬† are watching.¬† They may not say anything, but don’t think our good (or less than stellar) attitudes don’t go unnoticed.

 

Protecting the brand.

Hail damaged Cortland

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Do you have any recent (encouraging) encounters with a stranger that left a lasting impression?

You know me….I love details. ūüôā DM

Picking green beans in the rain

It had been thundering for the past half an hour, and then it started to rain.

I was out in the garden picking green beans Tuesday night.

I could feel the anger slowly melting  away.

In the Christian tradition, there is a thought that goes like this….Be angry but do not sin…do not let the sun go down on your anger.

The word sin has all but disappeared in the work a day English language.

Too bad.¬†¬† It¬† literally means¬† “to miss the mark”… a word picture of a faulty bow (bow and arrow) that doesn’t¬† shoot straight…shoot an arrow with this bow and it will inevitably veer to the left or right.

So there I was grousing a bad attitude about something I could not shake.¬† I did not want to have a bad attitude but i did…. If I told you what it was that had me vexed, you wouldn’t believe it.¬† Doesn’t matter. problem was, I could not shake it. Tried everything I knew…

And then it started to rain….and the bad attitude just sort of dissolved…. Not sure how that works, but I like it.

Pause.

Stopped by my mom and dad’s yesterday morning for coffee. They are both in their 80’s….still live on the family farm.¬† Dad was outside pushing a riding lawnmower onto a trailer.¬† I got there just in time to help him finish.

I cherish moments like that,¬† all the more of late… There has been a slew of obituaries in the local paper of people I know….most of them my parents age or younger.

My favorite moment yesterday  happened just before I left.  I asked dad about the young farmer who had recently purchased an adjacent farm dad used to farm.

(I’m scratching my head wondering how that math works…farm ground around here is still in the $5000, to $6000 per acre range, and with current corn and bean prices, dad lost money last season farming that same ground).

Dad said...”The younger generation has never experienced what can happen when the bottom drops out.¬† I have.¬† You never forget those things.. I would be very careful just how much debt you take on right now.¬† One of the salesman in the local John Deere¬† store told me this week, they are looking at a long term gradual decline in sales, just like back in the 1980’s…”

Listening to my dad validate my concerns did something for me.

It helped me to feel grounded.

Picking green beans in the rain and having coffee with my parents gave me a sense of being grounded.

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When you hear that term “grounded,”¬†¬† what does that mean to you?¬† What are some ways that happens in your life?¬† I want details.

DM

One ton of fresh compost

The keeping of bees….continued

Honeybee nuc.

I noticed a lot of bee activity the past couple of days on the outside of the new nuc, so I texted my bee mentor Mike last night.  (This nuc is a small box with 5 bee frames in it.  It was split off the main hive a month ago.)  Mike suspected they had probably outgrown their new home and it was time to move the bees into a regular bee hive box.

He wished me luck. ūüôā

Up until now, the only thing I have personally done with the bees is open the hives and peek in….

Bees go to bed relatively early, so once most of the bees were back in the hive, I taped their front entrance shut then carried it down to the new hive.  The thing was a lot heavier than I anticipated.  It had to weigh at least 50 pounds.

Inside of this little box was¬† 20 pounds of honey and thousands and thousands of honeybees…

Opening the lid on the nuc box felt just like opening a Christmas present.

Mike had been correct.

The bees had outgrown their space. The frames were thick with crawling bees, and once I started prying the  frames out of the box, the pitch of the hum changed. It doubled, then tripled in volume.

They were TICKED OFF.

(My first thought was, I sure hope this bee outfit is all it is cracked up to be.)

To give you an idea of how many bees there were, you can buy them by the pound (live)…a 3 pound container holds about 10,000 bees.¬† I’m guessing there were between 20,00 to 30,000 in that box.¬† The new queen has been busy the last month.¬† We learned in class last winter she can lay between 1000 and 2000 eggs per day…

Just wow

Here is a picture some of you may not have seen that I took back in June of a frame full of bees in the main hive:

Frame of honeybees and honey

Doing all of the switching around of the bee frames last night without anyone else present was a rush.  I feel like I hardly know anything, and yet, just like anything else, I have to start somewhere.

Few years ago, I had a woman stumble across my farm blog who makes her living raising vegetables.¬†¬†¬† You could sense the contempt she had for my lack of knowledge in her one and only comment.¬† The only experience I had gardening growing up was one year, dad decided to cover the potatoes with a pile of old hay, rather than bury them in the dirt.¬† I remember pulling back the hay, later in the summer, and seeing all of the new potatoes on the top of the ground. That is it.¬† The rest of my gardening knowledge has been acquired through reading, and a few conversations with more experienced gardeners…and I still feel like a newbie.

 

I am a teacher.  I love to mentor, especially in the construction field.  SO, when I am on the receiving end of someone teaching me, something new (like bee keeping, or gardening)  I can tell a good teacher from a bad teacher in 2 minutes.

It’s 95% attitude.

 

 

Of Grit and Bone 6/10/2017

Read this earlier post if you’re curious about the title (Of Grit and Bone)

Monday evening of this week I had an encounter with a raccoon.

Back story: We have (4) laying hens.¬† I separated one of them from the rest of the flock recently because they had started to¬† peck on her.¬†¬† In case you’ve never been around chickens, they really do have a pecking order and they can be vicious.¬†¬† The chicken they were picking on is my personal favorite. She is a broody hen….(the impulse to sit on her eggs until they hatch.) That trait has all but disappeared from most chickens. As chicken breeds have been genetically manipulated and bred for specific traits (ie. fast growing for meat, or designed to lay lots of eggs, etc) one of the¬† unintended consequences has been they have lost their motherly inclination… Things are not any better when it comes to the roosters… by and large, they¬† have forgotten how to do their courting and mating rituals and¬† become brutish….Historically, farm chickens would do courting and mating rituals (much like a prairie chicken or wild turkey).

It is really rather disturbing.

Anyway, I went out before dark to lock up the broody hen and there in the doorway to the hen-house, was a raccoon. It¬† ran into the small area with my broody hen sitting on the perch, not three feet above.¬† I’ve never heard such a scream, and I’ve been around plenty of raccoons over the years.¬† It sounded almost demonic. Another (5) minutes and the hen would have been history.¬† I ran back into the house to grab my 12 gauge, but by the time I returned, the raccoon had escaped into the bowels of the barn.

 

Thursday morning, I got sucked into the middle of a domestic dispute.¬†¬† Husband and wife were going at each other right in front of me.…and in an unguarded moment, I said something to the wife. She looked so broken and humiliated and said something about him doing this in front of me…

That was a mistake.

I know better….

Yesterday morning I wound up in the ER.   Got nicked by my skill saw on my forearm.  Could have been much worse.  Forty five minutes and three staples later I was back in the saddle.

After my trip to the ER, I crawled¬† into a 4 ft high attic¬† to move loose, dusty¬† insulation.¬† Temperature was forecast to climb into the 90’s¬† so wanted to get that part of the project done while it was still cool.

It took the better part of two hours…..reminded me of my days on the farm mowing bales of hay.¬† You would be covered with dust and chaff…absolutely no air movement.

Good thing I love my job ūüôā

This morning my siblings and I went out for breakfast with my parents.¬† Dad celebrated his 85th birthday today.¬† What a gift to still be able to hang out with both of my parents.¬† I don’t take it for granted we¬† get along.¬† That even came up in passing while we talked. One of the branches of our family is relatively well off financially, but lots of interpersonal conflict. Before the old man died, he owned¬† 7 farms.¬† Take a 160 acres farm @ $8,000 an acre times (7)…you get the idea.

How was your week?

Describe it in 10 words or less.  DM