Sunday, September 28

First week of school

Hooray! School is done for the week. It was a bit of a stretch to do five days worth of school because we had to all go to the dentist, the eye doctor, and Wally-World on the same day and so we couldn't get any school done that day... And the day after that we were all recovering from our town day, so we didn't get much done that day either. But overall it went very well. We all did well and got a lot done.

If anyone is worried about socialization and life skills, please let me put your mind at ease. As for life skills, we stacked firewood, harvested and jellied our homegrown grapes, and harvested our garden.
As for socializing, I went over to Mrs. J's house to give her some homemade soup and bread since she hasn't been feeling well lately. We had a wonderful time, and we talked for about 2 1/2 hours.

Well, we have more school tomorrow, so that's all for now.

Friday, September 26

What I've been thinking about

  • soap - I've made some that I don't like, and I need to make more soon
  • asbestos - wondering where all it is in my house and to what extent it will affect my life
  • American government - what was, and is, and is to come
  • grape jelly - how fun it was to make and what colors different grapes make
  • eyeglasses - thankful we can afford them for three kids
  • orthodontics - hoping we can afford that for the one who needs it
  • tomatoes - wondering if I've got enough ripe to make canning worthwhile
  • winter - excited and nervous about that, but planning to enjoy the heck out of autumn in the meantime
  • sleep - when I'll get some (uninterrupted)
  • pain - the weird pain, the unidentified pain, the emotional pain, the dog's pain, and how to end or at least ignore it
  • telephones - hating them but trying to be grateful for their usefulness anyway
  • marriage - loving it, hoping my kids will too

Monday, September 22

I won the Essay contest!

There was an essay contest on a trapping forum I'm on, and there were about 40 or 50 entries. Of them I won first place! Here's a list of the prizes I won
First Place
One Pair New Red Wing Boots-Obviously in your size(TommyBoy)
One Dozen New Victor 1.5 Softcatch(Anonymous)
$25 MTP Gift Certificate(Tim and Nancy Caven)
Mink, Muskrat, and Raccoon Trapping DVD(Paul Dobbins)
3-Lil Griz Getters
3-MB 550 RC
3-MB 450 FH
4oz Forgets ProCoon
4oz Dobbins Purrfect
4oz Lenons Super Range Fox All Call
2-110 conis(Anonymous)
1 Doz Snares-Made Legal for your area(Dead Coyote)
2oz Homemade Coon Lure(Cody17)
One Bottle Undertaker Lure(barewire)
2 Jars-Smoked Salmon/Shellfish Bait(B.Roberts)
One Bottle Big Bear Coon LDC(B.Roberts)
Chain Gambrel(Anonymous)
Critter Carrier(Anonymous)
Flagging Tape(Anonymous)
2 Awesome Weasel Boxes/Including Traps(Ace Trapper)

Here's my entry:

My name is Toby Armstrong and I’m 15 years old. This will be my second year trapping. Nobody in my immediate family besides me hunts or traps, and I just got my dad hooked on fishing. I live in northern Pine County Minnesota with my 2 brothers, 2 sisters, and 2 parents. (The perfect family?)

When the seasons ended earlier this year, I was discouraged because I hadn’t caught anything of value except weasels. I had been targeting bobcat, mink, raccoon, and otter, but hadn’t caught any. I decided to spend the next several months learning about the animals, and the trapping laws in Minnesota. I purchased books, borrowed books, and went to several demos on trapping, and watched animals in the wild, and wrote down everything I learned. I subscribed to Trapper & Predator Caller, Trapper’s World, and Fur-Fish-Game. I wanted to learn everything I could about the animals.

I tuned up all my supplies, and bought what I needed. I now have several lures and baits where I had none last year; I don’t doubt that was a large contributing factor to my lack of success last year. I dyed all my traps and made sure they work smoothly. I made several weasel boxes. I did several hours worth of scouting, and all with the limited transportation of a bike. I found several locations I plan to set this fall.

I made many snares this summer, complete with swivels. I also made wooden stretchers for rabbits. I did some ADC trapping for my family who had some skunks eating the eggs in the chicken coop.

Because of all my expenses this year, many of which were startup costs, I would like really like to catch a bobcat. I have found several ideal spots to trap them. I will also be targeting mink raccoon, otter, weasels, rabbits, and fisher.

My goal this fall is to catch 20 rabbits (that’s the limit), 5 mink, 2 otter, 5 raccoons, a bobcat, a fisher, and 10 weasels.

I plan to skin and stretch all my pelts myself, and ship them to a Canadian auction house. Any money I make will go toward a trapping truck. I think I want a Ranger, a Colorado, or a Silverado, but I’m not sure yet. Anything will beat riding a bike all winter long.

This coming January at the Minnesota Trapper’s Association winter meeting, I plan to take an instructor course so that I can help people learn about trapping.

Somewhere in the middle of all my planning for this season, I was given the Minnesota Junior Trapper of the Year Award. Boy was I surprised!

Due to my fairly tight budget, I am only a member of Fur Takers of America, National Trappers Association, Minnesota Trappers Association, National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited, and Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. I have also written a letter to the USFWS concerning the "Core Lynx Zone" which is now an hour north of me. I told them the facts and asked that they remove lynx from the endangered species list and drop the "Core Lynx Zone" idea, since it doesn't work and costs the government money anyway. I also sold 120 raffle tickets for the MN Trappers Association, which went toward youth education.

I would like to thank Andy, Tracy, James, BuckNE, Hupurest, LT GREY, baseline, Paul, kirk, anonymous, Cody, barewire, Wayne Derrick, Troy McDaniel, Tommyboy, Tim and Nancy Caven, B. Roberts, Ace Trapper, M. Howard, and Dead Coyote, for their help and contributions. I would also like to thank all the people who have helped me to become the person I am, the wildlife that is kind enough to step in my ill concealed trap, and God who gave us the animals and dominion over them, and who made them smart enough to bug us but dumb enough to catch. And of course I would also like to thank all the organizations out there who defend my rights and fight for trapping, even if I’m not a member yet. I’m working on it!

Toby Armstrong Esq.
Member of MN Trapper's Association, Fur Takers of America, National Trapper's Association, NRA, Ducks Unlimited, and MN Deer Hunter's Association.

I'm so excited!

First day of school

As the experts would say, "Today things went better than expected..." Yeah, it really did. It really wasn't too hard. I had to read, and take a test, and do a small experiment. But that wasn't really that bad. To help us learn from the Bible verse we're memorizing, Mom did something I didn't really expect. I really want to blog about it, but she said no. Sounds ominous, huh?

Friday, September 19

Friday Five

From Donna at Quiet Life

1.Of television programs that aired before you were born, what’s your favorite?

The Prisoner
2.What person of historical significance was from your neighborhood or city?
Ralph Plaisted, the first person to reach the North Pole by snowmobile
3.What’s a story that’s often been told about someone in your family in the years before you came along?
All the stories that come to mind are far too unpleasant to be shared here
4.Which of previous generations’ dumb mistakes (in deed or thought) baffles you the most?
Outrage against returning Vietnam vets
5.What aspect of life in the good old days would you love to see a return to?
The expectation of personal responsibility

Thursday, September 18

More exhausted ramblings

Butchered the chickens today. Totally worn out, but glad to have them in the freezer.

The freezer, by the way, has a new outlet in the basement. The electricians came by yesterday and fixed us all up. I'll be calling them again sometime, I think. Just a hunch.

Torina has been writing about FASD. It looks like that's what we're up against... definitely with Jon, probably with Mike as well. Looks like what I need to do is figure out how to accept that what I've seen as "won't" is probably "can't". That just seems so... hopeless. I don't know what to do with that. What do you do with a child who can't learn math, can't show remorse, can't keep his pants dry, can't learn cause and effect, can't follow a simple routine after weeks or months or years of repetition? How do you prepare such a child for independence as an adult? Or how do you come to terms with the fact that there will be no independent adulthood, only the continued destruction and forgetting and apathy?

Enough about that for now.

Soon we will be cooking applesauce and apple butter nearly every night. That will smell wonderful.

Sometime between recovering from butchering and starting the apple marathon, I still have two batches of soap to make. That will be a fun diversion.

We officially start school on Monday. I've got lesson plans for all five kiddos for the next two weeks. I'm looking forward to some new stuff we have lined up for this year. Maybe I'll remember to share about that sometime soon.

Monday, September 15

Fun, fun, fun!

I just ordered our anniversary gift -- tickets to see Terry Fator in December. That man is so talented! I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 9

Ramblings of an exhausted woman

I need to find a competent plumber. Right away. When we tried to fix a leak in the bathroom, I think we made it worse. Or it could be that my heightened awareness of it made it seem more urgent. Either way, we did all we could and were unable to fix it. The plumber we've had out here in the past will not be invited to return. Hopefully I can find someone else.

The good news is that the tub will probably NOT fall through the floor into the basement.

The bad news is that if we ever have to reach the pipes under the bathroom, well, it will be very difficult. And it had better not happen on a day when I'm particularly emotional, like today.

Dear readers, I am so thankful for my husband. When I came to him on the verge of sobbing uncontrollably and asked if he would take me away, he dropped everything and took me to dinner. And "everything" in this case was taking Gracie down to the basement to hook up the stovepipe so we could be warm and cozy. I am also thankful for my children, who can stay home and handle things when we go out, even on short notice.

Speaking of warm and cozy, between the time I post this and the time you read it, we will probably have a frost. I guess it's right on time, though I wouldn't have minded a few extra days to mentally prepare.

Then again, I think my mental faculties are booked this week. I have a whole list of phone calls to make, appointments to remember, door prizes to assemble, and company coming (gasp). Most days this week, there's stuff happening at specific times. Man, that's tough. And I bet it sounds ridiculous, too. What does it say about my life that I can wake up prepared for someone to take two hours to sweep the floor or drop everything to go rescue a chicken, but I get stressed out trying to remember that I have to have my roaster at the church by noon on Saturday? And that's WITH it written down.

Must. Sleep. Now.

Saturday, September 6

A busy week under the pines

The weather cooled down a few days ago, so we headed outside to get some work done. The firewood is being stacked, grass is being cut (including areas we let grow through the summer), and the chicken coop is being insulated. Some of the kids are being a huge help, and others are finding themselves with special jobs created just for them and their 'tudes. Grace has worked so hard helping me stack wood, she wore her gloves right out. And she's as pleased about that as I am.

We also charted all our apple trees and tested the apples from each, taking photos as we went. Eventually, I'd like to know what kinds of apples we have growing here. We counted 30 live trees. I don't think the ones we planted made it. And I know we had a few more last year, so I'm wondering if we missed a few that aren't producing this year. We do have 25 fruit-bearing trees right now. Looks like we'll be busy for quite a while!

We got some rain this afternoon, so we headed inside to work. We cleared a lot of scary stuff out of the basement. It looks SO much better! There's still more work to be done down there, but it's not scary anymore. I really wish I'd taken a before picture so I could share with you the huge difference we made today.

In the morning, part of the fam will be heading to church for a ministry opportunity. I will be among those staying home and sleeping in.

I might go clothes shopping for the kids in the afternoon, since one of the other things we've accomplished this week is the seasonal changing out of clothing. (sigh) We're still at the point where most of Toby's outgrown clothes end up in Jon's bin, but Jon is growing slowly and tears or eats his clothes anyway, so he's got lots of nice clothes but nothing that fits him, and Michael's bin is empty because he tears or eats his clothes, too, and gets so very little handed down to him anyway. You'd think I didn't feed these boys, for all the sleeves, collars, and buttons they've chewed apart. Jeans always end up with shredded knees, of course. And jammies just get torn up for the heck of it. It no longer surprises me to see one of the boys come down the stairs in the morning with a gaping hole in his jammies.

Enough about that. It's depressing to still be dealing with it. Oh, but in case you're wondering, I make them mend their clothes. I do, however, throw out the nasty stuff at the end of the season. This is why Michael only has 3 pairs of pants right now -- two pairs of church pants and one pair of town pants. But really, I don't want to talk about it anymore. I also don't want to talk about the fact that Saturday is his 8th birthday. I'm not ready to have a good attitude about it.

Anyway, we pulled the a/c unit out of the bedroom window today. I think we had it in for about 6 weeks. That's just right, in my opinion.

I've been enjoying picking ripe tomatoes from the garden lately! Last year, I don't know if even one full-sized tomato ripened before the frost. Most of them ripened on the windowsill. The little cherry tomatoes hardly count. They're like the cockroaches of the garden -- they're taking over and there's no stopping them. They're taking their tomato cages with them, too. It's really quite a sight. I may need to tie them down before they scale the fence. But not until I've had a good night's sleep.

Monday, September 1

Great start to the week

Yesterday I was playing my guitar at the park. Trying to see if Mom could still hear me screaming "I'm Not Alright" from the house where she was taking a nap. I had taken the boys over to the park, but they weren't playing. They were waiting for the kids with the ATV to come freewheeling by so they could chase the ATV. Well, like I was saying, I was playing my guitar, and a man with a van came and asked me if there was a water fountain nearby. I told him that there was a pump, and so he filled up his water carrier. I quietly began playing "I've Always Loved You" by Third Day, but I wasn't singing it because I had forgotten the lyrics. He asked me who the song was by, and said it sounded like Third Day. Then he got out his guitar and we jammed together for a minute or two, and exchanged chords, and then he left.

Today I went haying again. This time I left early in the morning, and came back around noon with my paycheck. Now I can get some chest waders.

This evening I went to the city fire hall for a meeting. I was there to hear about next year's picnic. Next thing I knew, I was volunteering to help with the fire department's construction job.

Note to Bloglines readers

I put together a new blog header. Go TO the blog so you can see it!