Thursday, February 28, 2013


This is my 100th blog post and I didn’t want it to be about dead mice (that will be next time). So I think I’ll talk about something else instead.

I can hardly believe I’ve had that much to say over the past eight months. I’ve been surprised and humbled by the amount of interest in our family’s little adventure here in East Texas.

In England, when you turn 100 years old, you get a card from the Queen. At one Chick-Fil-A restaurant we visit, every 100th customer gets a free meal.

So to celebrate my 100th post, I thought I’d offer my first giveaway to my faithful readers out there. I’m new to this, so be patient, I probably won’t get it right. And don’t get too excited, I’m not giving away an i-Pad.

In order to enter, I’ll need to know you do, in fact, read my blog. So, you’ll have to leave me a comment (see bottom of every page). Hopefully I’ve got it set up so that anyone can leave a comment. If you want a better chance to win, you could start following me (see at right).

To be fair, I’ll give everyone one week to make a clever comment. Then I’ll choose a winner from the best comments.

The prize will be a one pound bag of East Texas pecans. (sorry to those non-pecan-lovers)

Here's the prize: one pound of East Texas pecans

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Traps: 1

I guess it was only a matter of time before we had a mouse problem. At least we think it’s a mouse problem. We first noticed something around Christmas time when several bags of rubbish in the garage got disturbed. Lately, though, we’ve been hearing noises in the ceiling and crawl space between downstairs and upstairs.

So I bought some old-fashioned traps the last time I was at Home Depot. Luckily they were cheap enough to be one-time use traps if we need them to be. This was the first time I had used mouse traps. Previously, when we had a problem, we phoned the pest control guys and they came and dealt with them using sticky boards.

The directions were very simple and I felt a bit silly that it took me so long to work out how to set them. The fear of snapping my finger off made me cautious. I decided to use peanut butter to stick a small cube of cheese on the trap.

I put two traps in the garage between boxes where I'd seen evidence of their presence. Then I put six of them in the attic space. Thankfully we have easy access to the space since the hot water cylinders and the air handlers are up there.

I'll let you know in a few days how successful we are.

These traps came in packs of four.

I bought a couple of larger, Texas-sized traps, just in case we find we have a bigger problem.

The only cheese I had was the good stuff from Jason Wiebe Dairy.

I had trouble getting the cheese to stay, so I used a little peanut butter as glue.

Setting the trap was a bit fiddly, but I eventually got the hang of it.

I set eight traps like these.

I put this one in the garage between a box and a tub.

I put six in the attic where I'd seen evidence.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Picnic Areas

Roadside picnic areas (not to be confused with Rest Areas) are very common in rural east Texas. On a trip into town we might pass 2 or 3 on the way. Quite often there will be cars or trucks stopped at them. The ones in our area seem to be older ones based on the style but also seem to be fairly well maintained. All of them will have a few tables and trash cans under some nice shade trees.

The picnic areas remind me of my childhood. We traveled many times across the state to visit my grandmother in east Texas and would stop at these places to eat or get out and play. This was before drive-thru fast food places and huge gas stations and interstate freeways. I have one vivid memory of me standing on one of the picnic tables as my mother laid out the food.

It surprises me a bit now that the picnic areas are still used, considering there are many more modern alternatives to these simple pullovers by the side of the highway.

Picnic area between the two sides of a divided highway.

Picnic areas have plenty of nice trees for shade.

Most of the tables are solid older ones made of brick and concrete.

This area looks out over a retention pond.

This little picnic area is just a little pullover on the side of the highway.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Second Planting

Since the weather is warming up some, I decided I should plant some more seedlings for the spring. Before I could plant the new ones, though, I had to tidy up the dead plants. About half the fall plants are finished, but I’m still waiting for the Brussels sprouts to be ready and for the cabbage and broccoli to finish. I found a few seedlings at Walmart the other day so I thought I’d use them to begin with. I’ve also started more lettuces from seeds.

Dead plants need to be taken out before planting new seedlings.

I bought two trays of lettuces: romaine and red.

They immediately made my pots look pretty. I am trying not to crowd them this time.

I'm trying a few strawberry plants but I already know they won't be enough.

My first cabbage head was so pretty and made some yummy cole slaw.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fence Line

As you may have guessed, all the fences on our property have been very neglected. So in preparation for future animals, we’ve been working on our perimeter fence line. The trees on the fence line along the road were also very overgrown despite the fact that the county comes along regularly and trims back the branches that hang over the road.

The first step was to remove all fencing and thin out the trees. Our friend (I’ll call him) Tevia has been working for several weeks using a chainsaw to cut down dozens of trees. He’s piled the trees into three large burn piles for future bonfires. Putting up the new fencing will be the next step.

These pictures were taken over the past several weeks.

The trees had grown into the fences.

Although the thick trees were great for privacy, they made it almost impossible to repair the fences.

The trees were thinned out to about 5-6 feet between each one.

We have three nice piles for future bonfires.

The lower branches were also trimmed.

The new tree line along the road.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Family Tree

One of the interesting things for me about living in East Texas is that I'm so close to where my ancestors used to live. I am planning to do more research into my family tree now that we live within driving distance of some of the places where my grandparents and great-grandparents lived.

I set out the other day to go shopping in Waxahachie (they have both a Target and a Chick-Fil-A) but got a little sidetracked because I wanted to find the graves of some of the family. I had searched online and found at least three graves with the family surname. I used my GPS to find the Waxahachie Cemetery and phoned a city employee to direct me to the general area within the cemetery. I was very excited to find a couple gravestones with the family name. I have since discovered that most likely they were distant relatives rather than direct ancestors.

I also went to the county courthouse and tried to find an address where they used to live. I thought it would be neat to drive by an old house where my great-grandparents lived. I managed to find records of deeds within the time frame, but the ladies at the desk didn't seem to know how to read the books. I plan to do more homework before I go again.

Waxahachie Cemetery entrance

Waxahachie Cemetery historial marker

The oldest section of the cemetery is at the back.

Family surname but not a direct ancestor

Deed index at the County Courthouse

One of the pages in the deed index

Friday, February 1, 2013

Car Park

The front of the house looked like a car park (parking lot) this morning, with Son's arrival in the night. He made the trip safely all the way from Florida on his own in his 14 year old Buick. We are so thankful. Our house is full. My heart is full.

You may notice that there is an addition of a pickup truck in our fleet of cars. Yes, Guv'nor bought a truck! The time was finally right and he got a good deal at a local dealer. 

Five cars will now park in our driveway.

The signs of Son's arrival: shoes set neatly by the door.

The secret to Son's epic trip: large bag of Reese's peanut butter cups.

Guv'nor and his truck.

The best thing about Guv'nor's truck: the Texas edition is Texas built.