The title of this post isn’t entirely accurate. Halfway through my vacation, summer ended and autumn began. Plus, I wasn’t on vacation. If anything, I was putting more hours than usual. I just wasn’t blogging.
I wrote the first draft of Fat Head during a two-week gig as standup comedian on a cruise through Alaska. My shows were on Saturday and Wednesday nights, which means I was getting paid for a three-hour workweek. (Well, okay, more like 12 hours if you count rehearsing in my room.) I left the ship a few times to see Alaska, but I still had a ton of free time. So I got out my huge pile of source material, including transcripts of all the interviews I’d conducted, and spent 12 to 14 hours per day outlining and writing.
Ahhh, those were the days. Now I’m back to working as a contract programmer, and I commute from Franklin to Nashville three days per week. Toss in some farm work, blogging, quality time (including homework assistance) with the girls, maybe a TV show with Chareva before she goes to bed, and there’s not enough day in my day to write a book.
So I asked The Older Brother to take over the blog for awhile – a month, as it turned out, the longest stretch of my five-year blogging career. I of course read his posts and the comments. It’s fun for me to sit back and be a spectator. Anyway, by letting the blog go for awhile, I was able to squeeze some book-writing time into my schedule.
Our target audience for the book is kids, which means Chareva will end up producing a ton of cartoon characters and other artwork. We’d like to have both the book and companion DVD ready in time for the low-carb cruise in May, although that may be overly ambitious. It wouldn’t be fair to her to pound out the whole thing and then expect her to draw all the art in a month or two, so I told her I’d have a draft of the book ready by October 1st.
I’m such a wild optimist. The book is nowhere near finished, but I’ve written about a third of it, at least according to my outline. The challenge, as I told The Older Brother when I asked him to sit in the Fat Head chair awhile longer, is that I want to say everything there is to say, but keep in short and simple for kids – oh, and I want it to be fun and entertaining throughout.
So I have plenty of writing left to do, but Chareva has enough of the book in front of her to start drawing. Now I just have to stay ahead of her.
I set the blog aside for a month, but not the farm work. Yeah, I could’ve let that go for awhile and made more progress on the book, but decided that wouldn’t be a good idea. I’ve heard at least two authors say their health went downhill while writing a book telling other people how to be healthy. Too much time hunched over the computer, too many late nights, not enough physical activity, not taking time to cook properly. I prefer to remain healthy while writing about health.
So in addition to putting in a gym workout on Wednesday mornings on my way to the office, I spent at least one day each weekend outside, working myself into the state of being I call Dog-Tired Satisfied. Chareva and the girls kept busy too. Here’s some of what we’ve been doing around the farm:
A couple of people sent me a link to an article about a cop who apparently believes anyone who plays disc golf is a pot-head. Well, I play disc golf and I’m into grass, but not that kind. We’d like our side pasture to provide good grass for sheep and perhaps a dairy cow someday, so after I bush-whacked the chest-high weeds, we spent a Saturday afternoon tossing grass seed all over the place. Chareva found a variety specifically recommended for pastured animals. Let’s hope it takes.
Seems as if every few months, we end up with a pile of broken branches, dried-up briar that I cut down, various and sundry wood scraps, etc. So we had another bonfire a few weeks ago. This one didn’t burn quite as impressively as our previous piles, but it was hot enough to do the job.
Our chickens produce way more eggs than we can eat. I have a few egg customers at the office, but we still end up over-egged. So Chareva got out her tools and built an egg stand. The guy who looks like he should be playing bass for ZZ Top is our neighbor Brian. He brought over his riding mower to pull the egg stand up to the side of the highway.
The egg stand is self-serve. Chareva puts cartons of eggs inside, and the instruction sheet asks people to put four dollars in the cash box. And by gosh, they do. She’s already sold 20 dozen or so, and nobody has walked off with free eggs. One kindly customer even left a stack of empty egg cartons on the stand with a note saying Thought you could use these. Love your eggs!
Brian towed the egg stand for us because we didn’t have a trailer hitch on either of our vehicles at the time. We do now. For some reason, Chareva no longer wants to fill the back of her van with hay, wood chips, chicken feed, logs, goats, and whatever else around here needs hauling. So she informed me that we need a trailer, then found a used one for sale about an hour south of here. We figured Brian probably didn’t want to drive his lawn mower down there to tow it home for us, so we finally had the van outfitted with a trailer hitch. Here’s the trailer:
My big project for the previous month was processing the rest of that big ol’ wood pile I started tackling last year. As you may recall if you’re a long-time reader, it started out as quite a load:
I cut up more than half of the logs last year, but a heavy rain interrupted our log-splitting weekend. We still had dozens of cut-up sections ready to be split, plus plenty of logs hadn’t yet met my chainsaw. I didn’t want the remaining wood to sit outside through another winter, so I spent long days out there attacking the pile.
I eventually got through everything my chainsaw could handle, except for three large trunks sitting on the ground. Those might just become stadium seating for any weed-smokers who drop by to watch a disc-golf match. When I was done, this is what we had to split:
So last weekend, we rented a splitter and turned big ones into little ones.
I tried to assign the girls the relatively easy job of stacking the split wood in the barn. I was overruled. Turns out Chareva is particular about how the wood is stacked, so she did most of that. The girls weren’t really into the whole stacking thing anyway. They thought it would be more fun to pull sections of logs from the pile and bring them to me to split. Well, it’s certainly good exercise. Those things aren’t exactly feather-weight.
As the pile shrank, the girls found convenient seats for work breaks.
When we’ve been outside working in the past, Chareva has mentioned that it would be nice to have a few places around the property to sit down. So I obliged with six stump chairs, a his-and-hers combo in three different locations.
Some of the stumps I cut last year had started to rot, but I was pleased to find that most of the wood was still good. We ended up running the splitter until nearly dark both days. We certainly have enough firewood to feed the fireplace and the wood-burning stove this winter.
When we’d split everything worth splitting, the girls stood on one of the remaining stumps to survey the area once covered with tree trunks and thick branches.
Then they did a little victory dance.
I wasn’t inspired to dance, but I did achieve a state of Dog-Tired Satisfied. That’s good enough for me.
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