Farmer Gregg

. . .

Yackity yack yack McYackiton. People say there is really great stuff when you fail. When I’m the one in the midst of failure, I want to punch these people in the throat. Supposedly Abraham Lincoln failed a ton, you know, before he saved the country. “You learn more when you fail than when you succeed.” I don’t want hear that. I’ve down and kicked around.

"Come take a picture with me before we go in to see the musical Chicago for Valentine's Day. You are the most rad husband ever, you know, going to musical and all."

“Come take a picture with me before we go in to see the musical Chicago for Valentine’s Day. You are the most rad husband ever, you know, going to musical and all.”

I want to move back to Knoxville. Bad. Tail between my legs, licking my wounds, whatever. I don’t care. Knoxville is the kind of town that will take you after you run of thinking of bigger and better things. Come all ye weak and weary, come and take a nap on her bosom.

A success story. Kind of.

My son, upset.

My son, upset.

I still get anxious when it is just he and I at home. And I look forward to his nap times. I had a friend who said that when he sees beauty, he just wants put his face in it. Sometimes I just want to ram my face into his abdomen and live inside his gut for an hour or so.

Pryor and I met with a handful of people, one of which was at the emergency room and I told her I was Jesus and also that I needed to die for my son to be born.  I digress. We met with a group of people who are in charge of my treatment and they kindly agreed to release me. So now we’re waiting on a letter to give to the judge that says the people treating me agree that I can be done. The judge has been pretty nice and supportive so we’re hoping he will take that. If he does, I’ll be done with my conditional release (people that are Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity get conditional release, but it is pretty much probation) and will receive an unconditional release. Then we are free to leave the Commonwealth of Virginia without getting permission from the judge. Free to move. Free. I was detained while my son was born, so I missed it.

Man, I don’t know if this is the best idea to write all this and put it on the internet, but it feels good to get it out. Go with your gut, Gregg.

Brussel Sprouts cooking with Bacon

Brussel Sprouts cooking with Bacon

Adios Amigos.

What to write. Why to write it. I’m kind of clueless. I’ll just wonder aimlessly. I know I don’t have much of an audience here, but it is public, and there is something inside me that wants to just tell something. I don’t know why I have that, or what it is that I want to tell.

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For anyone who knows me personally knows at least a little bit of what me and my family went through in 2013. I need to make and believe in the distinction that last year is last year and this is a new, different year. For anyone who doesn’t know, I had a psychotic break, committed a crime and was detained by the Commonwealth of Virginia for 7 months. All in 2013, thank goodness.

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Before that, things were going OK on the farm. I wasn’t really getting a garden in, but I was intending to. When I was in detention, we gave my sheep and chickens away, so now all I have is bees. I think we can officially strip me of my self given farmer title. That’s actually a relief. Its a relief because it was something I was trying to will into existence, and not growing up on a farm and generally having a shitty work ethic when I don’t know what I’m doing is extremely stressful.

I’m writing because I like it and I don’t do it.

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So now all I have is bees, and that’s cool with me. With my limited experience with livestock, I can tell you this much; death is hard. I got partially callused with the chickens, but throwing a dead lamb out in the woods is gut wrenching. I just need to start with a manageable garden, maybe some bees again, we’ll see.

Pryor, Graham and myself are basically waiting until we get the green light from my case worker and the judge to release me from my conditional release, which is similar to a probation. And then . . . oh, carry us back to Tennessee.

Thanks for reading.

 

A letter to my Facebook friends

Well, I feel like I owe this to a couple people, so here it goes.

Just because I express my opinion on Facebook does not mean I think any less of your opinion. This great country of ours is big enough for you, me, and a couple more folks to coexist. And the internet is even bigger than that. When I do say something on Facebook that you might find disagreeable, I am not intentionally throwing a grenade in your foxhole. I have values. When something happens in the world, I try to gather the facts as objectively as I can, think about my values and what I stand for, and then I try to take some time to think about what I think about the matter. Then, in this great free independent country where individual liberties are, or are supposed to be, granted to every citizen, if the wind blows a certain direction and I am moved to access Facebook to express my opinion, I might type into the Status Bar what’s on my mind. Then I read it over again, think about the possible ramifications, and decide if I want to hit “publish”. The fact that I can do this is one the many things that makes America great. Granted, I occasionally shoot from the hip. So sue me. Please understand that Facebook is customizable. If you don’t like what I have to say, I imagine it will take you about 5 seconds to go to my Profile, click on settings or where ever the little button is to block me, and then click on it. Problem solved, right? I honestly won’t be offended, or you don’t have to tell me. If I block you, no offense, I’m just not interested in what you bring to the personal network internet forum known as Facebook. No biggie. I still think you are a good person. Honestly, I think I am using Facebook the way it is meant to be used. I have had trouble in the past knowing how I want to participate on Facebook, and for now this is what I’m comfortable with.

That last presidential election cycle was a pretty nasty and vicious one. It was very divisive. If your guy didn’t come out on top, bummer. Get ’em next time. But I, for one, would prefer that you and I not hate on each other over it. If we are friends on Facebook, at the very least, we are cordial with each other. Hopefully we have at least a little mutual interest and mutual respect.

After all this, if you still can’t get past it, I am truly sorry. However, respectfully, I’m not going to let that interfere with me being me.

Now . . . can we all just go get a cold beer or something? Gah.

P.S. This is my blog. I choose to share things that are going on in my life by writing about it here. If that makes you uncomfortable, thank you for reading this far. If you want to read what I write, I am flattered. Go Big Orange.

Well, spring’s almost here. Seems like I have a whole lot to do. It always seems like I have a lot to do. But I get it done, most of the time. Pryor is 30 weeks pregnant. Graham had the hiccups tonight, and I just can’t quite get a grasp on where he is in her belly. I think he will be positioned one way, and then after feeling around a little more, I end up talking myself out of my certainty from before. Anyways, he’s three pounds now. He’s got some growing to do in these last 10 weeks, so I’m going to make sure Pryor eats good and plenty.

Christmas is over

That finally brings me around to the farm part of things, even though I think a farmer getting a healthy son, you can’t put a price tag on that. I just want everybody to be as healthy as possible. I hope he’s tall like me.

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Alright, I’m eventually going to really talk about farm stuff. Right now. One of my sheep had a little black lamb. She’s a girl, so we’re going to keep her. Her mother and the other two I bought with her are very skiddish. I want to bottle feed Bella (we named her “Bella”) maybe about once a week. I want her to be comfortable with me handling her. If and when we leave here, I might sell or give away the ewes I bought and start a flock with Bella and a similarly aged ram.

Momma and Bella

Aspen, our Great Pyrenees, is sick. We thought she had heart disease, but turns out it’s just a rotten gut. We were pretty heartbroken when we thought she might only have a year or two left. Apparently she is leaking fluid from her gut, so she is just full of fluid. It’s bizarre. She has the most sensitive gut I’ve ever seen. And on top of that, she is extremely sensitive and very prone to stress. I don’t know if this is typical of the breed or not, but I’ll find out.

Aspen

Pryor and I walked to the neighbors house today. Our neighbors, who live about two hundred yards south across soy fields, live in Washington, D.C., and keep this house the husband inherited as a little get away. Their son fucking loves it. Their property is like the secret garden. The house is huge, with high walls like a castle. It’s closed in by tall pine trees and a think bank of garage-sized cypress plants. Max and Roo love to go there, sometimes without me, actually a lot of times without me, to tag team chasing rabbits. They sprint along the edges of hedges with their noses to the ground. When one gets on a scent, it’ll yip to call the other. Today, we were walking on the back of the property when Roo yipped a couple times, and Max came tearing ass around the corner, then plunged though some shrubs towards where Roo had called from. I wander if Graham will want to hunt the rabbits with them. Max’s leg is really bad though. He still can run and is happy, but he is real lame on it. Any decent farmer hates to see a good dog down, and I’ve got two down right now, and it sucks.Max and Roo

 

On the bright side, though, spring is awfully close. I planted some red tulip bulbs in the fall, so I’m anxious to see those come up. Red is my favorite color, especially in nature. Red tulips in the spring, Cardinals, Scarlet Tanagers, a Maple tree in the fall, you just can’t beat red. We also got almost all our seeds we need for the garden this year. I’m still in wait and see mode, because I really want Pryor to get out there and help me, but instead of getting grounded as a kid, her punishment was always to pull weeds. So she hates pulling weeds. Let me just lay this one out plain. If you don’t like pulling weeds, you’re not going to have much of a garden. No offense. Anyways, I think she’ll get into it. I have forsaken the practice of watching television for Lent, so hopefully I can get my ass in gear this spring and get a decent little garden in. “I think I can” – Thomas the Train

The Mockingbird and her suitor

The Mockingbird, who has lived here since before we moved in, has a suitor. Or maybe she has multiple suitors. I’m not terribly familiar with the biology of avian reproduction, but I am excited to see where she puts her nest this year and how many little ones she can hatch and rear.

Because Austin believes in “accountability”

This is going to sound silly, but it drives me crazy when things don’t go perfectly. But that’s just life, isn’t it? There’s always something going wrong, and I let it aggravate me about 90 percent of the time. Why can’t things just go right? “Well, Junior, have you read the story of Adam and Eve and the fall of man?” SHUT UP!

Here’s a long list of the things that have really been pissing me off lately. Fair warning, this is going to be a rant and complaining. If you don’t like it, too bad. It’s my blog. And you don’ve have to read it.

1. Mice. Holy infestation. They were everywhere, but I’ve been getting some vengeance lately. I mean, I’m a little embarrassed to put this on the internet, but I was sweeping up comical amounts of mouse shit. It drive me batty. They get everywhere. One managed to get itself up into the innards of the refrigerator(NOT where our food is, the mechanical parts that run it) and touch an exposed wired which promptly electrocuted it. For a couple weeks, yes, weeks, whenever the fridge would kick on and the exhaust fan would run, this terrible, nauseating putrid smell of rotting mouse would fill the kitchen.

Stop judging me. We didn’t know what it was or where it was coming from. Pryor burned this nasty smelling candle(I’m sure it was a fine smelling candle, but I associated it with that other smell) to try and hide the smell, so the kitchen smelled like a cocktail of dead animal and burnt cake icing. Blah. I can smell it just talking about it. We did a master cleanse of the house today and finally located it. I did the surgery on the fridge and took out the mouse and scrubbed where it had rotted, but it still stank, so I emptied a spray can of Febreze up in that mother AND put one of those old school slow release gel air fresheners in there. It still kind of stinks, or it does in my mind, at least. It haunts me.

I’ve been setting traps and relishing the thought of those tiny little spines getting cracked in half. It puts a smile on my face. AND! . . . Chief, my goofy, uber-lovey-dovey tom goes into complete wild animal mode when he gets a mouse. He’s a hunter! I love it. He played with one until it died of exhaustion the other night, and you better believe I let him.

Another trick I learned while I was on the AT is to put a couple inches of water in a bucket  and then rub a little bit of peanut butter just above the water line and then build a nice little mouse ramp up to the edge of your bucket. They just can’t help themselves. They  plop right down into that water and swim and try to climb all frantic and eventually drown. I love it. Although, karma had her way with me . . .

2. If you look back through this blog, you can logically deduce that I haven’t had the greatest history with chickens. Well, I got a couple more so we could have eggs, and they are just kind of nice to have around. I put them in the pasture with my sheep.

The way I water my sheep is I have an old iron tub I set under a well pump. All I have to do is go out there and lift up the handle and everybody can hydrate themselves silly. Wwwweeeellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll . . . apparently this isn’t the best way to water chickens. I went out there one morning and it genuinely looked like a crime scene. One of my chickens fell in the tub, and not being able to reach the bottom to push itself up and not having hands to pull itself out, it drowned. Bummer. I tipped the tub over and all the water came rushing out and the chicken ended up with it’s feet straight up in the air. It was poetic, all wet and dead  and on it’s back. I took a picture and put it on Instagram and Facebook, and you know what, I didn’t get one “like”. Lighten up people. Its just a chicken. And it was a good photo, technically speaking. I was working outside today and saw my rooster up on the edge, getting a drink, even though I had given him and his gals a chicken specific watering can, and sure enough, that son of a bitch fell in. I jumped over the fence flung him out. I should have let him drown. He’s worthless. Doesn’t crow, doesn’t protect his hens worth a damn. He’s scared of our kittens for goodness sake. All he does is eat feed, which cost money. Damn rooster.

Back to the drowned hen. I carried her by one of her legs out into a field by our house so some vultures could come do the noble but dirty work. It took them a while. When I was driving up to the farm one day, there was a bald eagle on the ground about 10 feet away from it, asking itself “Am I really THAT hungry?” Once I pulled up, it promptly decided it wasn’t worth it, and lifted it’s ENORMOUS frame up and across the field.

So, yeah, the bald eagles are back. I hadn’t seen any since last winter. I love seeing the bald eagles. They’re as big as Roo . . . and they fly. Amazing.

See there, I’ve gone and whined enough to start looking on the bright side and put myself in a good mood. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for complaining, because sometimes, things just suck. And while I’m at it, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for getting mad when something isn’t going right. Sometimes, things just need to get cussed at hard enough in order to turn out how you want.

God Bless America. I’m glad the bald eagle is our bird, even though Republicans have claimed and completely misrepresented them. A bald eagle would never put a boot in Bin Laden’s ass. Never. Thanks for reading.

Just some things I need to get out of my head

The sheep are laying down and chewing their cuds. That’s how you tell if they are relaxed. They’ve been here 4 days or so, and they haven’t done much laying down. It’s good to see. They are really skiddish. I walked around their pasture with a bowl of oats talking sweet to them, and they won’t let me get much closer than 20 feet. Today I learned it’s smarter to approach them from the front so you can give everybody a chance to see you. The ones that can’t see you are the ones that get nervous and bolt. Eventually, they relaxed with me standing about 15 feet in front of them, so I laid the oats down and left. Max and Roo were watching and running around the outside of the fence, so that didn’t help. Surprisingly, Max showed more interest. I don’t know, I guess I just assumed I would work mostly with Roo, especially since Max re-injured his knee. Oh yeah, Max tore his ACL back in the winter. We had it fixed and it healed up pretty good, but he tweaked it. Honestly, I’m not sure how bad it is. He’s pretty slow to get up and limps if he’s been running around a lot, but it isn’t nearly as bad as when he originally tore it. The vet doubled up on the rubber bands he put in his knee. He must of known that he wouldn’t fully recover. It sucks to watch your dog limp. He warms it up and is good to go eventually, but I’m always worried about how much running around he’s doing. And the icing on the cake; we’re heading straight into winter, which is when it is hardest for him. It’s just a bummer any way you slice it.

Then there’s the whole Tennessee football situation. I can’t get into that, but that also sucks.

I’m not all complaints, though.

Gonna have a kid. That’s pretty cool. Pryor and I will both be thrilled if it is a boy or a girl, but it’s hard not to have a hunch, and we both have a hunch it’s a girl.  The thought of being a father to a girl pretty well melts my heart, but the thought of having a boy makes me proud. My mom told me the Good Lord will give us exactly what we need. That helps me not to worry about it.Image

This is at twelve weeks, so very small, but I thought it was amazing how human he/she already looked. He/she repositioned right when he/she showed up on the screen. Have I mentioned that we are DEFINITELY finding out the gender? Yeah, that he/she shit is pretty damn annoying. You see that middle picture though? With the huge head and little nubby limbs? That’s my kid. My little alien. Nuts.

Pryor and I are doing better and better, and we like it here more and more. Awhile back, I had a conversation with Mark Inman, who just had his first daughter (Congratulations), and he told me how he really liked watching his wife, Elizabeth, become maternal. I’m really enjoying watching Pryor become a mother, too. Sorry, not trying to be too sappy. It’s one of those things, though, like being married or jumping out of a plane, people can tell you what it’s like for hours and hours, but you’ll never really understand until you experience it. I like the experience.

I want to write a book or a blog about the mockingbirds on the farm. “A year in the life of . . . ” style. When we moved in, there was one mother (Who I thought was a male. Shows how good my hunches are.) tending to a nest right out our back door in a dogwood tree. I’ve been watching her and her fledglings for about 5 months now, and their story is so interesting to me. Back in the summer, I watched all the chicks jump out of the nest and forage along the ground while the mother would perch up in the tree and tell them to be quiet if myself or Max started to get close. The way it started was I found one on the ground and picked it up with a hand towel and put it back in the nest, but then I sat down and watched from inside the garage where the mother couldn’t see me, and sure enough, without being able to fly, those chicks would jump down from about 10 feet. I guess it was time. I counted 5 chicks at the time. But now, I know we have at least 4 full grown mockingbirds living on the farm. Hurricane Sandy wasn’t that bad for us, but right in the middle of it, when the worst of the rain and wind was, a small flock of starlings came and ate all the berries of that same dogwood tree. The mockingbirds defended it well for a while, but there were just too many starlings. Alright, anyways, you see what I mean? I could go on and on about these birds. I’m curious if all six are still living here, or if it is four of the siblings, the mother has flown south and one ended up . . . well, Max might have, but that would be speculation. We’ll see though. I get worried about not having an audience, but I think I might just do it for me. And my kid. Maybe he/she would like it. Gah, that ultrasound can’t come soon enough.

Sheep

Well, I finally got around to getting some sheep yesterday. It was pretty funny. I bought them from a guy that owns a nursery up the road a little bit. I wanted some ewes that had already had their first lamb. They’re more likely to have multiple births after that first one, and the risk of complications is significantly less. He didn’t have any records though. He didn’t have any information, really. I guess that’s why the price was right.

Robert knew somebody who had a livestock trailer, so we went in his truck, and I’m pretty glad he was there. All the sheep, about 30 of them total, were in their shed. I was pretty shy about picking them out, not really knowing the best way to do it. Phil, the guy I bought the ewes from, mentioned something about it too. Robert said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. We’ll get ’em.”

We got in there and he asked me which one looked good to me. I picked one out and he started walking towards it. He let the others dart by him, snug up against the wall, and when my sheep tried to get by, he pounced on it, grabbing it by the wool. The ewe bucked and fought and tried to get away, but I realized how much fun this was and jumped in there and grabbed it around the neck and together we lifted it and put it in a sitting position. Sheep go docile and don’t fight when they’re on their butts.

I needed to check their teeth, because that’s how you tell how old they are. Plus, you don’t want sheep without teeth. They have to eat. We wrestled about 10 sheep before we found 3 with good teeth. We fought them out of their shed, through two gates and shoved them into the livestock trailer. By the end of it, we were both huffing and puffing.

I found Phil, paid him and shook his hand. We took the sheep back to Robert’s place because he has a ram that’s going to do his thing with my ewes. When we were getting them out of the trailer, they fought us just as hard as they did when going in. I’d get in there and slip a lasso around their neck and then tell Robert to start pulling. I’d grab a handful of wool right behind their neck and right on top of their rump. When I got the last one, who was by far the most freaked out and wide eyed, to the door, she jumped about 6 feet into the air and took me for a ride. We wrangled her into the pasture and stood their catching our breaths and watching Aristotle, Robert’s ram, sniff the backsides of his new lady friends. After we caught our breath we went and drank beer on the porch.

I went back today and Aristotle took to them really well. They’re still freaked out by me, and Aristotle keeps himself between me and the ewes. And he’s still sniffing, which I take as a good sign.