Flexible Snow

>> Sunday, February 22, 2015

On Monday, February 16, we received over nine inches of snow.  I stepped outside and snapped a few pictures.  I took one showing the whole nine inches on the roof of our new woodshed.

Pix #1

Over the next few days the temperatures remained below freezing, part of the time even below zero.  Consequently there was no melting of the snow, just a bit of settling.  Friday night and most of the day Saturday we received rain.  This caused a bit of melting and more settling.  And, this all led to some unusual happenings.  With the snow becoming saturated with water that on the roof of the woodshed began to slowly slide.  I captured a photo of this on Sunday morning. 
Pix #2

With the whole roof full of snow sliding the expectation would be that the amount being pushed down would just fall from the lower edge of the roof.  Yeah, that was what I expected to happen anyway.  But, that wasn’t what occurred.  Here are a couple of photos, also taken on Sunday morning, of what did take place.

Pix #3

Pix #4

As the title indicates, the snow was very flexible, not breaking off and falling as expected. 


What Happened to 2014?

>> Wednesday, February 4, 2015






I know that there are some of you that check back from time to time, thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’ll put up a new post.  It has been a long wait.  All of 2014 got by without a new post.  So, what happened to 2014, or maybe the question should be, what happened in 2014.  Well, here in a “Reader’s Digest” or condensed version is the answer to that question.

In January we slaughtered and processed a cow for meat.  She was one that Darryl had for a milk cow for several years but due to some problems she was unable to conceive again and after over 2 years she had just quit producing milk.  She was a very healthy cow and Darryl did not want to ship her off to market knowing the way animals are often treated.  He made the decision that as she had been supplying milk for the family she would now supply meat. 

In February we had some work done on the car we had purchased in December of 2013.  We knew that the right turn signal was not working but figured that was just a flasher unit.  Wrong!  As it turned out it was in the switch, which one would think wouldn’t be too bad.  BUT, it was in the combination switch in the steering column that has all kinds of things in it, such as cruise control, windshield wipers and washer, turn signals, ignition, and on and on.  The dealer diagnosed the problem, for a price, and quoted switch and labor at about $725.00!  I told them I’d just have to roll the window down and use hand signals.  However, my regular mechanic was able to get an aftermarket switch and installed it for less than half that amount.

The last of March and the first part of April Connie and I made another trip to Texas.  As I have discussed here previously we are doing prison ministry, primarily within the state of Texas.  We spent three weekends, as one can only visit inmates on the weekends.  We had the opportunity to visit 9 individuals in 5 different units.  We were also privileged to be approved as special volunteers and able to go into 4 different units with the approved volunteers for services with the inmates in each of those units.  We were blessed to meet and address and visit briefly with about 70 men in those 4 units.  We were also able to visit 2 individuals that are now out of prison plus I visited once again with the 93 year old father of one of the fellows I write to and that we were able to visit.

Garry, Frank, Connie Apr 2014

                                   Garry, Frank and Connie

Late in April we made a trip to Indiana to visit our daughter and son-in-law.  We also were able to include a short visit to Connie’s sister, who lives about 70 miles from our daughter, in Greenville, Ohio.  We discovered that another of Connie’s sisters was also visiting from southern Indiana and it was a chance for the 3 girls to spend a little time together.

A memorable event occurred late in May.  I had been out for a walk and when I returned Connie informed me that there was a snake in the house.  She had discovered it in the window sill in the little alcove I wrote about in the post about the wall coming down.  However, when she left the room the snake left the window sill and she had no idea where it was.  We moved furniture and couldn’t find it.  We figured it would show up but knowing that and not knowing where or when made us both a little apprehensive.  Later in the afternoon one of the grandsons, Ramiah, came and helped Connie look.  He suggested that it might be under the china cabinet.  They pulled the cabinet out a ways and sure enough, there was the snake.  They called me in to catch it and carry it out of the house.  How did it get into the house?  There is a bit of a space under the screen door to the porch which he had to have come through and the door from the porch to the main part of the house was open. 

Since January we, Darryl, Ramiah and I, had been preparing for a 40 mile long backpacking trip in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  We were to be joined by Darryl’s brother-in-law, Steve, and his son, Joshua.  On June 22nd we drove to Cosby, Tennessee where we met Steve and Josh (they live in North Carolina). 

We began our trip the following morning on the Baxter Creek Trail, a 6.2 mile hike with a climb of 4200 feet up to a campground at the top of Mt. Sterling.  The next day was an 11 mile hike, which turned out to be our hardest day.  Climbing had been hard but nothing like much of that 11 miles that was downhill.  We were all suffering in one way or another.  The 3rd day was about 8 miles, approximately half uphill and half downhill.  I was experiencing joint pain in my right knee.  Steve was having some issues with energy levels, etc.  We decided to cut our hike short and come on out on the 4th day, only a 5 mile gentle downhill trek.  So, we ended up with a shorter hike, only 30 miles instead of 40.  But, all in all, we were pretty happy with our accomplishment.  Some of the others had done some backpacking but this was a first for me.  I’m ready to go again.

                                  Darryl, Ramiah, Joshua, Steve and me

                                               on the trail

After returning home on Friday, the 27th, Connie and I drove to Sullivan, Illinois on Sunday the 29th for the Pifer Cousin Reunion.  We returned home the next day


July 19th was our 50th anniversary.  Our daughter and son-in-law from Indiana, our son and his daughter from Illinois, and our granddaughter and her son from Wisconsin were all able to be here for that weekend.  We received quite a few nice cards and we are into the next 50 years now.


In mid-August we went to the fair.  Not just any fair, but according to Connie, the best fair.  That fair was the Darke County Fair in Greenville, Ohio.  Connie has often commented when we attended other fairs, including the state fairs of Illinois and Kentucky, they were not as good as the Darke County Fair she attended a number of times in her teenage years. Connie’s sister and her husband, who live at Greenville, attend each year and we began planning after our visit to their home in 2013 to go up for the 2014 fair. 

We drove up to their home on the 17th and went to the fair on the 18th.  We selected that day partly because it was “Senior Citizen’s Day” and admission was free.  And, the fair did seem to live up to Connie’s expectations.

On our return home we stopped by and spent a night and most of a day with friends we have known for over 50 years.  They live at Lancaster, Kentucky, about 100 miles from us.  We had a very good visit.

Early in September I built a new woodshed.  The current woodshed will hold only enough wood for one season and I really wanted one a bit larger.  But, the biggest reason for building one was to have my wood storage closer to the house and in a location that would ease putting wood into it.  The current shed is down a bit of an incline in the backyard.  I am unable to drive down to it so all of the wood has to be unloaded from the truck and carried down to the woodshed to be stacked.  Even with a hand truck or wheelbarrow this creates added work.  And, then when we begin using the wood in the heating season it all has to be carried up the incline to the house.

Connie wasn’t totally pleased with my choice of location for the new woodshed but it answers all of the problems with the old one.  It was placed at the front of our parking area in front of the house.  It is close to the house, I can back right up to it to unload and stack wood and it is large enough to hold 3 years or more worth of wood if it is ever filled.


Later in the month of September we receive word of two deaths in the families.  Connie’s uncle, who lived at Arcanum, Ohio, and one of my cousins living in Sullivan, Illinois, died the same day.  Her uncle’s funeral was held on September 22nd, so we drove up on the 21st and spent a couple of nights at her sister’s home.  On the 23rd we drove over to Anderson, Indiana and spent that night with our daughter and son-in-law.  We drove on over to Sullivan on the 24th, went to my cousin’s visitation that evening and the funeral the next morning, the 25th.  Following the service we drove on back home.

In mid-October some friends from Arizona were spending some time near the Kentucky Dam on Kentucky Lake.  We drove over and spent a couple of days with them and had a good visit.

On October 18th we discovered that our 20 year old freezer had quit working.  The food was beginning to thaw some, especially near the top and around the sides.  I drove over to Glasgow, Kentucky to the Lowe’s store that evening and purchase a new freezer.  Thankfully no food was lost.

Thanksgiving weekend we drove up to our daughter’s home once again.  Her two grown children from Wisconsin were there, along with our granddaughter’s little son and her boy friend.  Our oldest son and his daughter came from Illinois.  We took the two oldest grandchildren from here on the farm with us.  A very good time was had by all.

And, that, as I said, is the condensed version of what happened with us in 2014.


And, the wall came down!

>> Wednesday, November 6, 2013






Connie and I moved here to Kentucky in the Spring of 2004.  Our first priority was to complete the house that had been started by the previous owner before Darryl bought the farm.  Darryl had told us that the house was for us, all we had to do was finish it.

The intent of the one who started the house was for the kitchen, dining area and living room to all be one long open room.  Because at the time it appeared that our oldest son and his young daughter would be living with us we put a wall across one end of this long room to provide a small bedroom for the granddaughter.  As it turned out our son and his daughter did not stay here with us, but moved back to Illinois.  The small room was turned into a computer room for several years. 

 img024The picture above shows the wall being put in back in 2004.  The original window in the end of the room is shown.

Feb           27th 005

This photo was taken a few years ago, showing the wall in place and with a partial view of the little room being used as our computer room.

Upon remodeling the spare room last year we moved our computers into that room and the little room had some bookcases and a futon in it, but was used very little.



Prior to a visit last Spring by some friends from Texas Connie told me that I needed to remove the wall that we had put in back in 2004.  I wasn’t open to that idea at all.  I knew that would create several difficulties.  The walls were paneled with different paneling, the ceilings were different and the floors had the hardwood put down differently.  Plus, there would be the repairs needed to walls, ceiling and floor where the wall had been. 

But, over several weeks or months I began to visualize how this could be done. 

By leaving a short “stub” wall on either end and letting the wall extend down form the ceiling to the height of the doorway the area could be opened up.  There would still be two rooms but with a large  “cased opening” it would seem almost like one large room. 

So, the wall came down!  The floor was joined by filling in the void with some leftover scraps of flooring and a threshold put over that.  The walls and ceiling area were finished out and trimmed.  While at the project the old window, which was becoming difficult to open and close, was removed and replaced with a new one, which was not as tall. 

All of this was a little late for the visit of our friends from Texas but for the times when we have quite a number here to fellowship it really seems to extend our space.  Plus, we are ready for the next visit from our Texas friends.

This picture and the ones to follow show what the little room now looks like with the wall taken out.




The last photo, above, was taken from in front of the kitchen sink showing the entire room, approximately 30 feet long.


It Is Chigger Season Again!

>> Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I love Summer, for the most part.  I deal with the heat better than with cold BUT with Summer comes the pesky bugs, especially the chiggers.  They seem to like the taste of me for some reason.  I’ve been using powdered sulfur as a natural repellant, and I know it helps BUT I’m still getting more chigger bites than I care to count.



I found a poem that tells it like it is. I was given permission by the author, Jerry Schieicher, to share it. You can find this and other poems written by Jerry on his page of the cowboy poetry web site.

The Chigger Blues

I ain't a'feered of snakes ner spiders, and ticks don't make me twitch.
I kin roll around nekked in a poison ivy patch and never even itch.
I ain't skeered much of lions ner tigers, or other carnivores much bigger.
The only critter that gives me the chills ... is the cold-hearted chigger.
They ain't no bigger than a dot. Most folks have never seen one.
You don't even know they bit ya', till they've already et' and gone.
And drilled yer skin with a bitin' end that's part needle and part digger.
Pound fer pound, the baddest bug around ... has got to be the chigger.
They crawl inside yer pants and socks, and creep into yer underdrawers.
And commence to have a feast, while yer doin' yer gardenin' chores.
It seems their spit dissolves yer hide, which they then consume with vigor.
Fer an arachnid version of the vampire ... I nominate the chigger.
I still got scars up 'n down my carcass that I reckon I'll bear fer years.
From clawin' at the welts they've left, from my toes up past my rear.
The itch they leave behind lasts much longer than you'd figger.
If you want to drive a man insane ... jist feed him to a chigger.
I've tried that nail polish myth, and doused myself with lotion.
But nuthin' seem to keep 'em off. There ain't no magic potion.
And steppin' out into my own back yard only seems to trigger
A fresh attack by my worst nightmare ... the man-eatin' chigger.
Most folks love the summer season, and fer most it's all good news.
Of flower gardens, fresh-mowed lawns, and backyard bar-be-cues.
But if you invite me to yer outdoor games, I'll respectfully refuse.
Cause you don't want to hear me wailin', as I sing the chigger blues.
© 2005, Jerry Schleicher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Trees in Bloom

>> Friday, May 10, 2013

I’ve been impressed by all of the trees that bloom in the Spring here on the ridge and in the area.  Cousin Mike from Canada suggested I post some pictures, so here goes.

IMG_1297The redbud trees are the first trees to bloom out.  This particular tree is located near Darryl’s pond. 

IMG_0002Before the redbud trees finish blooming the dogwood trees burst into full bloom.  This tree is near our mailbox.

Here is a close-up view of a redbud tree.

And, here is a close-up of a dogwood in bloom.

IMG_0019-2Before the dogwood trees are finished blooming one can begin to see blooms way up high in the tulip poplar trees.  This photo is zoomed in quite a bit and you have to look close to see the yellow blooms.

In this photo I have zoomed in a bit more.

And here is an even closer look at the bloom of a tulip poplar tree.

Another tree that blooms at about the same time is the royal empress tree, also known as the royal princess and royal Paulownia.  This tree is on a neighboring property.

IMG_0033The numerous locust trees are also in bloom at the same time.  As you can see the trees are loaded with blooms.

IMG_0031In this final close-up photo you can see the beautiful locust blooms.


Do You Use PayPal?

>> Monday, February 25, 2013


A number of years ago when I first started buying a few item off of Ebay I opened a PayPal account.  I’ve never had any problems, that is until recently.  Maybe you are a lot like me, I have assumed that a seller or vendor is on the up and up if they have established an account with PayPal that allows me to pay for my purchase that way rather than giving out my credit card number.  But, that is not always the case.  Let me tell you my little story.

I discovered that the chainsaw bar on my chainsaw was needing to be replaced.  As I often do, I shopped around online to find the best price.  The company had a nice website and offered to let me pay for the bar with my PayPal account.  I immediately received a receipt from PayPal that the money had been sent to the vendor.  I thought it a bit unusual but I did not receive a confirmation from the vendor.  I kept expecting my new bar to arrive.

After two weeks had gone by and I still hadn’t heard anything I sent an email to the vendor, which was not answered.  I attempted to call but got a recorded message that the number was disconnected or no longer in service.   I logged onto my PayPal account and went to the “resolution center” and gave them this information.  They encourage the buyer and seller to work things out.  They were to send a message to the seller.  Several days went by.

I did further checking online to see if I could find out anything else.  What I found was very interesting.  I located a second phone number, which when called resulted in the same message,  number disconnected or no longer in service.  I came across a website that told me that this company was closed.  I went to the BBB’s website and found that they had rated this particular company, on a rating of A+ to F, an F.  This they said was primarily due to unresolved complaints.

I updated the message board at the PayPal resolution center and then filed a claim.  The automated email indicated that they would investigate, possibly ask more questions and would make a determination within 10 days.

The amazing thing to me was that in only about an hour I received an email from PayPal stating they had investigated my claim and that they had issued a full refund to my credit card.

I’m impressed with their quick resolution and with the refund.  But, the need is there to check out who you are buying from.  Don’t assume that just because they accept PayPal they are someone you want to attempt to do business with.


A Story of a Coffee Grinder

>> Thursday, January 10, 2013

Some of you reading this may remember when nearly every grocery store had a commercial coffee grinder, usually located within the coffee aisle.  A lot of the coffee sold was whole bean and you were able to open the package, pour the coffee beans into the grinder, select the grind you wanted, and grind the beans right there in the store.  There are some few stores that may still have such units but not many.

coffee grindmaster
In the late 1960’s a family friend living in the Champaign, Illinois area located quite a number of these coffee grinders sitting in a warehouse, having been removed from grocery stores.  He made a deal with the owner and bought all they had for almost nothing, I believe about $5.00 each.  He cleaned them up and serviced them and resold them to friends to use to grind wheat for cereal and corn for corn meal for $10.00 each.  My parents bought one and when I saw it on one of our trips to Illinois from California where we were then living I asked them to purchase one for us, which they did.  In the summer of 1970 we packed the machine into our station wagon and hauled it back to California.  It has gone with us on every move we have made since.

We have used it to grind wheat for cereal, corn for corn meal and for baby chick feed.  However, I got into trouble some time ago when I was grinding roasted chick peas, also known as garbanzo beans.  I was roasting them and using them as a coffee substitute.    ( http://gdpifer1.blogspot.com/2008/12/brew.html )

Well, to make a long story short, the beans were quite hard and something broke.  I suspected that there was some kind of shear pin since the motor was continuing to run without a problem but the grinder wasn’t grinding.  I attempted a “hurry up” repair but couldn’t get to the area I needed without tearing things down a bit more.  Consequently the old grinder sat in the corner for the next several months.

Last month, one of the grandsons was helping me do some clean up and we moved the grinder into the workshop.  A day or two later we decided to take the time to tear the machine down enough to get to the grinder.  Once we got the end plate off we could see the shaft that the motor turned and it was moving freely.  And, we could see that there had been some type of “shear pin” in the end of the shaft.  All we could see was that it was a rusty, coppery color.  The grandson made the remark that when we got the old piece out we could probably replace it with a penny.  We had a good laugh.

However, when we did get it out what did we discover?  It actually was a penny!  And, not only did we find the two pieces of the penny, there was a small piece of another penny that had apparently sheared earlier and had never been removed.  I’m thinking the family friend replaced the first sheared penny when he was cleaning and repairing the units back in the late 1960’s as the penny we removed was a 1964 penny.


We have laughingly remarked that there wasn’t a shear pin but a shear penny!  The grandson donated a penny he had in his pocket and the old coffee grinder is working great.  We had to grind some wheat and had wheat cereal for breakfast the next day.


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