Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!" - From "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Thrill Is Gone

Grapes growing in the trees between the Kitchen Garden and the dog pen.
I'm sorry it has been so long since my last post. Somehow, our calendar cleared in May, and we had a couple of very light weeks in which to relax (for the most part). I've spent part of the time still trying to organize the house, and John and I have used some of this time together to finally get our garden in.

The new garden, yet unnamed, where the chickens used to live.
My enthusiasm for the garden this year has really been non-existent. It has taken me months to decide that I even want a garden. Of course, wanting a garden isn't an option for John and I. We have to have a garden to supplement our income, and free up our cash for other necessities. So, perhaps it has been more a case of procrastination. I'm not sure.

A month or two ago I bought lots of veggie plants while I was waiting to decide, but left them to John's care while I tried to figure out if I was going to participate in the planting of the garden this year or not. I really thought I'd get more interested before now, but John has been very good to wait patiently for me to make up my mind and join him in the garden. I'm glad I finally did.
A variety of sweet and hot peppers in the new garden.

When my mother passed away two years ago (this August), my life changed significantly. I not only lost my best friend and cooking muse, I lost the best reason I had for getting out of the house for social activity ~ visits to see my parents. It took a lot of time to convince my parents to move to Georgia so we could be closer and take care of each other; but they finally moved here in January, 2006, and I couldn't have been happier! Though I would have loved to have them living next door, the closest property we could find was 20 minutes from 5~Acre Farm. Here at home, or at their place, the four of us would get together at least once a week to share meals, movies, music, laughter, and marvelous, rich, hours-long conversations that were most frequently about scripture, and the deep things of God. These visits were my greatest stimulation and inspiration!

Cucumbers in the new garden.
Tomatoes in the main kitchen garden.

Since Mother passed, I haven't been very stimulated by or inspired about much of anything. I've tried. I've prayed. I've looked deep into myself. I've looked far outside myself. I've explored options. I've pushed myself. Nothing. My interest in everything seems to have dropped off significantly in spite of my desire otherwise. So, nothing has caught my imagination or stimulated me in the slightest! Well, except for two things.
Overflow tomatoes in the spring garden

Master Chef entry: Neck Bones & Jasmine Rice
Last fall I auditioned for Chef Gordon Ramsay's television show, Master Chef. The idea of a cooking competition definitely stimulated my imagination and my competitive nature, and it reignited my love of cooking! The fact that I might even have a chance to meet Ramsay was an added incentive. So I spent a couple of weeks going through my recipes and found a "signature dish" that I spent a month perfecting for my audition at the Culinary Institute in Atlanta. Although I was eliminated in an early round of the competition, I had a great time, met some awesome people, gave a young woman a plate (when she realized she was supposed to bring her own and didn't), and, for a little while, I dreamed!
Yellow Squash and Zucchini

Smoked Pork Neck Bones & Jasmine Rice

Tomatoes, Cucumbers, bolting lettuce, and basil in containers
Our first two baby squash!
Then, there was my decision to renew this blog in the new year. I have to say, I have enjoyed it. This blog has been a good project for me. It is a daily incentive to find something new and worthwhile to write about. It is stimulation to my creative thinking process, and it gives me a reason to get outside, take more pictures, and observe my life more objectively to see what, if anything, might be interesting to others. It has been challenging, at times, to come up with ideas for the blog, even though some weeks there are so many things going on, I can't begin to write about them all! And it has been surprising to see which posts have gotten the most attention (recycling an old mattress set, and handgun classes). It was also truly heartwarming to learn that there are people reading my blog, enjoying it, and even being inspired by it! Wow! I never saw that coming, but it has been a real morale booster, to say the least.
Cabbage & collards left to flower for the bees and go to seed for collection

Many homesteaders today work full or part-time jobs. Besides providing an income that keeps their small farms going, employment, and activities with friends, on or away from the farm, provide morale through much needed social stimulation. Friends, co-workers, and those people briefly criss-crossing our lives as they pass through their own, are a breath of fresh air for the isolated homesteader.

Knowing other people, and meeting new people, is stimulating! Our imaginations are awakened, and our blood stirred by fresh feelings. New thoughts and ideas are often birthed, and we are inspired to dream bigger, reach further, and jump higher than we might have otherwise been inclined to do - because of our relationships with other people.

My own life here at 5~Acre Farm is pretty isolated. John and I visit his family several times a year for birthdays and holiday gatherings, we see members of my family several times a year, and we have a small church family that we gather with each Sunday. Doctor visits and errands, which don't count as social outings (or dates, John), do bring us in contact with others, and are sometimes pleasant and stimulating; but our lives, for no intentional purpose, lack the richness that leisure time with friends offers. What I'm saying is that John and I have each other, but we don't have any close friends. So we manage, and we compensate.

Facebook is a godsend for the isolated and shut-ins. John and I are both pretty active on Facebook. John is at his computer for a while each morning and each afternoon, and I'm at my computer on and off all day.

Tiny tomatoes!

Like everyone else, I have several hundred Facebook friends. Many were added because of the FB games I no longer play, and some were added because of common interests like gardening, canning, or prepping. The majority of all these friends are Christian. Overall, I enjoy following everyone's adventures, "Like"-ing their posts, laughing with them, praying with them, and even crying with them when they suffer sorrow. There is only a handful of these friends who cross my path on a daily basis though, whom I feel I've been getting to know a little more than casually; a few people I really like calling friends, who, even online, help fill that social void in my life.

I have had one very special Facebook friend who met a lot of the criteria I mentioned above. Living on opposite sides of the country, we of course have never met. We haven't spent a lot of time chatting, nor have our conversations been of a personal nature. We simply have been crossing paths once or twice a day for a moment or two, and sharing a few laughs, family stories, gardening experiences, and the Word of God. Most of all, there has been a lot of mutual encouragement through difficult times. 
Our crabapple trees in bloom.

This week our Facebook friendship ended. In parting ways, I realize that I will sincerely miss what this friend brought to my semi-isolated life; a marvelous sense of humor, a gifted story-telling style, a powerful devotion to family, and an unquenchable desire to serve God at a deep and passionate level. Every encounter we had encouraged me to persevere through my own physical and financial hardships, to re-envision my own dream and keep reaching for it, to laugh and smile, and to remember that I am on a path that God is laying out before me on a moment to moment basis. Sadly, I will not soon get over the loss of this good friend.

But change comes - joyfully, sorrowfully, confusingly - it comes. Sometimes it is expected, but often enough, it is not, and how frustrating that can be! So, since we can't stop change, we have to figure out where we fit in with change when it comes.

I think, the thing to do with change is to embrace it. You are still there in the midst of the change, and who you are doesn't have to change - not by your choice and not at the demand of someone else. You simply have to adapt. I simply have to adapt. That's the embrace! Adapting! I've always been good at that. I realize, however, that I haven't been adapting for some time. I think I've been standing stiffly in one place for too long, stubbornly trying not to move until what I'm tired of chasing comes to me. Isn't that ridiculous? How did I ever let myself get stuck there?

So it's time to loosen up, time to walk away from stubbornness and indecision, to run even, forward, toward that dream I still have for a happy, self-sustainable lifestyle shared with my beloved husband, even if it is only ever just the two of us here at 5~Acre Farm. It's time to embrace the change, even the things I might not like, so I can continue on the path that God is placing before me one step at a time. If the thrill is gone, then it's time for me to find my thrill and get it back!

What about you? Is there something you need to let go of so you can move forward? Is there some change that you need to embrace so you can adapt and move on? Just remember, God is still there with you, placing your path before you, one step at a time! Now go get your thrill back!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!

Do you know what awesome things happened in 1927? Well, among other things...

    First trans-Atlantic phone call
    The first transatlantic telephone call was made via radio from NYC to London, England on January 7.

  • FCC created
    The US Federal Radio Commission (later renamed the Federal Communications Commission) began regulating radio frequencies on February 23.

  • First Academy Awards
    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded on May 11.

  • Charles Lindbergh
    Charles Lindbergh made the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight, from NYC to Paris in his single-seat, single-engine monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, May 20-21.

    World Population, 2 Billion
  • At some point in 1927, the World population reached 2,000,000,000. (two billion). 

Wish I had a baby picture of Dad!
  • And most important of all, on May 16, 1927, my dad, Gentry Wright, was born!

It's rare that I find a good gift for my dad. It isn't that he's hard to please. It's just that he doesn't ever want or need anything. It's been this way all my life! He's the only person I've ever had trouble shopping for. I have to watch him really close for months, or remember things he's mentioned in the past. But this year, I think John and I did good for his birthday!

This year we decided to take Dad to Family Billiards & Cafe on Broad Street in Monroe, GA. It's a great, family-oriented billiard parlor, and they serve unbelievably great food! Their menu includes wings,  half-pound burgers, hot dogs, and great sides! If you live anywhere near Monroe, you've just got to try this place out!

Miss Dot
Dot Jernigan is the manager of Family Billiards & Cafe. She's a really great lady who knows how to to make you feel right at home. It's an added treat that Miss Dot also knows how to cook a really great burger!

We started the afternoon with a game of pool, and let me tell you, we sucked! Dad used to be a real hustler, and I was known to make some really amazing shots once in a while, but neither of us has played in 40 years! Honestly, we were pathetic, but we kept going, and you know what? We got worse! It took a full hour to finish that first game.

So we took a break and had a bite to eat. Dad had the half-pound hamburger and crinkle fries. He was just saying the other day that nobody serves crinkle fries anymore, and he likes them because they're gentle on his gums. So that was a big plus!

I had the half-pound Chili Cheeseburger, and it had grilled onions on it! OMG! Major yuuuuum! John started with Teriyaki wings and fries, then had two slaw dogs. I'm telling you, even the Diet Cokes tasted better at this place!

Reporter Rachael Ward interviewing Dad
While we were there, Rachael Ward, a reporter from the Walton Tribune popped in. I called the paper earlier and found out they would be very interested in doing a story about my 85 year old father, a veteran of three major wars, who served directly under General William Westmoreland in Vietnam, and has a number of other extraordinary life experiences to share!

Dinner and billiards at Family Billiards & Cafe
We had a great time today! After we ate, I was surprised to hear Dad say he was up to another game of pool. John and I took alternate shots against Dad. After watching the first game, John said he felt like he could play us on an even field! Believe it or not, Dad and I improved significantly during the second game. We still sucked! We just didn't suck as bad!

I really love my dad! I'm so glad he's still here with us. I don't know how much longer he's going to stick around (he's anxious to go on and be with my mom), but I'm going to enjoy every minute we have together, and I'm going to keep looking for experiences he can enjoy ~ because he's really tired of sleeping through his days!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maggie Update

Maggie is doing great! She had her follow-up with the Veterinarian this afternoon and got a good report. A few more days of antibiotics and she'll be completely out of the woods!

After we got her to the vet last week, Maggie showed marked improvement within 24 hours, and she has continued to improve with leaps and bounds daily. She's more active, and close to being her old self again!

The top layer of Maggie's skin, which had turned red with the infection, has yellowed, and is peeling away. The doctor said it was to be expected. The wounds are healing well, so Maggie will be able to spend more time outside, an hour at a time.

Maggie has even gained a little weight since last Thursday. That's no wonder since her appetite has been good, and she hasn't had to do anything more athletic than lay around the house for the last five days!

So all is well for now, and we actually have several days in the next two weeks where we aren't scheduled to be anywhere but home! I even had time this evening to do a bit of planting in the garden, but I'll catch you up on that later!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Early Morning Hospital Visit and Breakfast Out

My father had cataract surgery this morning. We had to be there at 6:30 a.m.! I couldn't believe it! But Dad was first in, and his surgery was over quickly.

The surgery went really well. It's remarkable how far medicine has come in just the last 50 years. When I was a small child, my grandmother Carroll had cataracts, and she wore those very thick "coke bottle" glasses. She still could see very little. I can remember my mother trying to point out a bird in the garden, and although grandmother was saying, "Yes, yes, I see it," it was obvious she couldn't. Now, they remove the lens and replace it! I don't know what they replace it with, but its fantastic. My mother had both eyes done a few years ago, and this makes both eyes for my father. Now? His vision is nearly perfect!

In recovery after surgery
After the surgery, Dad felt well enough to go out to breakfast, so we went to IHop. I don't get to go to IHop very often at all! Well, I've been three times since February (with a guest, after John's dental, and today), but before that? Years!

So we got home, and it's been quiet all day. All of us took a nap at some point, trying to catch up on the sleep we lost early this morning.

We're out early again tomorrow morning. Gotta take Dad to the doctor's office to get the patch removed. He'll be using drops for a while, but he isn't having any pain, and his vision will be just great within a week!

A hospital volunteer escorted Dad to the curb
Personally, I'm hoping Dad's vision will be improved by Wednesday. That's his birthday, and John and I are going to take him to a family-oriented pool hall for hot dogs and a few games.

Dad used to play pool often, and he was a real shark! It's going to be a surprise, so don't say anything! I'm hoping that once he has been there and played a few games, that he'll want to go back on a regular basis. It will give him something to do every once in a while, and keep him active.

On another topic, Maggie is doing great! She's practically her old self, and can't figure out why she is getting to stay inside all the time. We have to take her back to the vet tomorrow, so I'll give you an update on her condition tomorrow evening.

Have a good evening, and take care of yourselves!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Maggie Goes to the Veterinarian

There's something I have to tell you. I'm ashamed to tell you, but I have to tell you. I'm horrified that I let it happen, but I want to tell you about it so you can prevent it from happening to you. I don't know. Maybe this would never happen to you. Maybe it's just me, and I really am neglectful. I'm still going over that one in my head.

I've mentioned before how busy we stay here at 5~Acre Farm. My last post focused on that. Well, it's really easy, when you're busy, to see something (one more thing) that needs your attention and think to yourself, "I need to take care of that, but I don't have time right now," as you're running to your next responsibility. Then, the something you noticed slips your mind until you see it again. Then, when you see it again, you realize it's worse because you didn't take care of it when you first saw it, and the shame rises in you, but not nearly as profoundly as the sudden fear.

I think it was on Tuesday evening that I noticed our dog, Maggie, had a raw spot on her back, near her tail. It was only the size of a quarter, but it was raw. I was on my way out somewhere, and she was bouncing around quite a bit, so I told myself I'd look at it later. Then I forgot about it, even though I saw Maggie on Wednesday. But she looked fine, and was bouncing around as usual.

March, 2012
Maggie is around 12 years old, and came to us four years ago, along with Lucy, who is 15 years old. A close relative of mine lost her home in the mortgage mess that was going on back then, and we agreed to take her two dogs since she wouldn't be able to keep them anymore. She'd had the two dogs for more than 10 years, and it was terrible to think of them going to a shelter after so long in a family setting. Since John and I already knew Maggie and Lucy, and we loved them, bringing them to the farm was an easy decision to make.

Maggie is a favorite, and our most vocal yard-baby. She is always the first to greet us at the gate and announce our arrival home to all the other dogs. She practically sings, she is so vocal, and you'd swear you can hear her saying "I love you!" when she's going on so. As I'm opening the gates, it's common for Maggie to head-butt me in the rear-end, and then slide between my legs affectionately. It's her most emotional greeting, and I've become strangely accustomed to it. Maggie is a large dog, and very furry, but she isn't clumsy at all. In fact, she's very delicate and feminine in her ways. I could say so much more about this adorable dog, but let me just add this, that Maggie is a blessing, a beautiful blessing, and we thank God for the day she and Lucy came to live with us.

So, Maggie seemed okay on Wednesday. When I saw her, she seemed normal and fine, her usual self. I did spend a minute trying to look for the wound, but she wouldn't hold still, and I couldn't see anything, but I know now, I didn't look close enough. And that is why I feel so ashamed. I should have been more deliberate in checking Maggie out, even if she did seem fine.
At the Vet's office, Thursday evening

Thursday morning I had a doctor's appointment and left. Maggie wasn't there to see me off. When I came home, Maggie was the only dog who didn't show up to greet me. I was aware of her absence, but I kept moving, things to do, you know? Later, in the afternoon, John had to go out. I walked out with him and realized Maggie was nowhere to be seen, and I realized at that point that I had not seen her all day, and that was unusual. John had not seen her either. We both started looking for her. Our house and yard has a six foot chain link fence around it, so if she hadn't gotten out of the fence, she was somewhere in the yard. I soon sent John on his way so he wouldn't miss his appointment. A moment later I found Maggie under the front porch. She was sitting up against the foundation, looking at me, but she wouldn't come when I called her. Big sign to me that something was wrong.

I went inside and got some bologna to coax Maggie out from under the porch. When I came back, I went to the side of the porch where I would be closer to her, and that's when I saw them, the flies, swarming around her back, and I knew, dear God, I knew what was happening.

I got Maggie out from under the porch and she was able to walk with me. I took her inside and put her in the bathtub right away. I still couldn't see the wounds through her heavy fur, but I knew what was happening. I began pouring warm water down her back, and rubbing the area with a wet cloth. She sat there quietly letting me, looking at me with such trust in her eyes, but I knew she was in terrible pain. I didn't think the water was accomplishing much, so I ended up pouring two large bottles of hydrogen peroxide down her back where I thought the wounds were (I still couldn't see them).
Today, back shaved. Red area indicates infection
I called our Veterinarian's office for advice, and waited for the doctor to call me back. In the meantime, I called John too, and told him what was happening. He cancelled his meeting (which was a very important one), and he came right home. The vet's office called back, and I told them we were bringing Maggie in.

We were at the Vet's office at 5 p.m., and by now, Maggie couldn't walk. John and I put her in a blanket and carried her to the car rescue style (the way we'd learned in CERT training), then into the Vet's office and straight to the back where we put her in a tub. The assistant began shaving Maggie immediately (no small feat for the amount of fur she has); and here's the awful, shameful, disgusting part... Maggie's wounds were filled with maggots! That's what I knew when I saw the flies around her under the porch.

The doctor was so upset by what she saw, she wanted to accuse us of neglect, and I was so distraught, I almost let her, but I knew we'd missed it primarily because Maggie is an outside dog, and her fur is so thick. This whole incident had happened in less than 48 hours!
"She isn't out of the woods yet," the doctor told us. They had shaved most of Maggie's back, cleaned out all the maggots, and pumped her full of fluids and antibiotics.  If they didn't tell us that Maggie was too far gone to save, I thought they'd want to keep her overnight, but she was well enough to go home by 8 p.m., and it was an added blessing that her blood tests came back with positive results. The doctor didn't expect that at all!  We'd caught it in the very nick of time!
Resting at home this evening

Maggie is fighting a massive infection! She'll be on antibiotics and pain meds for a while, but she is showing strong signs of recovery. She spent last night and most of today just resting inside. This evening, she is walking around a bit, sitting, scratching, and doing normal dog things. Her appetite is good, and she is drinking sufficient amounts of water. She's able to go out to use the bathroom, and John or I have gone with her to make sure no more flies bother her. My dad even went out today and bought a liquid bandage (for dogs) to use on the wounds when she goes out.

We've got a follow-up visit with the veterinarian on Tuesday afternoon. I'm confident that Maggie will show marked improvement... at least, that is my prayer.

I am so grateful that Maggie has survived this ordeal. John and I have talked, and we realize that we need to stop letting the chaos of other people's lives, and unexpected events, take us away from our primary responsibilities here on the farm. What are our primary responsibilities? Each other and my dad, our animals, and then the house and land.

John and I have always had a tendency to drop what we're doing and run to the rescue of others in need. It's been our ministry in some respects. We have poured out ourselves and our resources for the sake of others. However, when doing so means that serious problems develop at home, because we aren't there to deal with them, then our ministry is tainted, and we aren't truly honoring God. We aren't being good stewards of those lives and the property that He has put in our care. Home is and should be, our primary ministry. Home is every Christian's primary ministry. We should work outwards from there.

Although John and I want to continue doing whatever we can to help those who call upon us, and others who are in need, we realize that it's time for us to pay more attention to our responsibilities at home; each other, my dad, our animals, and the house and land. In other words, we need to get our house in order, or we're not going to be any good to any one!

Things are not as important as life, any life. This is a really important piece of wisdom that busy people need to realize and hold on to when the tornadoes of life are carrying us away. Somehow, lately, I've let "things" distract me, and I haven't given adequate time to "life"; my yard-babies, my dad, my husband, and, frankly, myself.

If I don't take care of my car, and it dies, I can get another car. If I don't take care of my garden and it dies, I can plant more vegetables. But if I don't take care of the lives that have been placed in my care, and they die, they cannot be replaced, and their loss will be felt deeply and profoundly.

If you live a very busy life that tends to push you around a lot, I hope you are (or will be soon) making time to take care of life; your life, your family's lives, and your animals' lives (especially if you have a small farm, and those animals live outside all the time). Life is more important than anything, and it is meant to be appreciated, and enjoyed!

Time to change things up, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Busy Month of May, and Samantha Is Growing Up

Dad waiting to see Samantha at the Vet's office
Well, my computer was in the shop for nearly a week, and although I have a Xoom Pad, I couldn't access my blog account on it for some reason. Grrrr! Very frustrating! I've got my laptop back now, however, and I'm ready to go!

Samantha with the Vet
In this blog, I frequently mention that we stay pretty busy here at 5~Acre Farm, not just with farm chores, but with numerous appointments and errands, and those surprises that pop up in-between.

Going home, post-surgery
Well, May has not been an exception to that rule. In just the first eight days of this month we have had no less than nine engagements; and the remainder of the month is filling up fast!

I just wish I could remember to take photographs more often so I can post them here and talk about them!

Our Schedule So Far This Month

May 1  Morning: Dad: Pre-surgery eye exam
and X-ray at VA clinic
May 2 Morning: Me: blood work at my Dr.'s office
May 3 Morning: John and Me: Job Fair in Lawrenceville
           Afternoon: John: Cardio Clinic at VA Atlanta
May 4 Morning: Samantha to vet for spaying;
           Dad: Pre-surgery eye measurements
           Afternoon: Pick up Samantha from vet
May 5 All day: Chantal and Gentry visit;
we all went out to dinner
May 7 Evening: Beekeepers' MeetingWatkinsville
May 8 Morning: Me: check up with my doctor

We missed church on Sunday due to sheer exhaustion (and I really wasn't feeling well)!
 All I can say is, it's like this every month!

More About Samantha

Tiny Samantha, 8 wks old, Dec 2011
The biggest thing so far this month was Samantha's surgery. Not a big deal, really, getting a dog spayed, but for some reason all of us were over-concerned. John and I took a long time deciding to get it done. We debated about breeding her and letting her have a litter of pups. She'd be a great mom! But in the end, to insure her best health, we opted for the surgery.

Samantha was a scant eight weeks old when I got her in December of 2011, a tiny handful of terrified fur. We all fell instantly in love with her, especially my father, and the infatuation (extravagant passion or attraction) has continued!

With Samantha, I get why people call their pets their "babies." She's a dog, but she is the closest thing I've had to a baby in a very long time. There are a hundred things I could mention that back me up on this, that prove why she is like a baby, but I promise I won't do that to you. It would be like taking out a wallet and pulling out that long, two-sided acordian of pictures that I'd expect you to "ooh" and "ahh" over as I describe each and every photo! I just can't do that to you!
January, 2012

I can only say that this little girl is spoiled rotten by all of us, bullies and bosses all the other dogs, harasses the chickens daily, and gets her way in just about everything. And why not? She continuously entertains us, makes us smile and laugh, and heals our wounded souls just by climbing into our laps and licking our faces. She sleeps with my dad almost every night, and I'm delighted that she is so much good company for him. He has had far fewer sad days since we got her.
March 2012

I have to say though, that I am always secretly delighted on those once-in-a-while late nights when Samantha trots into our bedroom, jumps up on the bed, licks me in the face to say hello, and then settles herself down between John and me. It is a blessed comfort to one (me) who doesn't think she needs comforting that often.

Samantha is smart, and is different with each of us. She plays quietly and naps a lot with my Dad, comes to me for slightly rougher play and comforting, and leaves John alone until he comes to her. Then she rolls over in that "you're the man (alpha)" kind of way that acknowledges John's leadership position, licks him on the nose when he gets close enough, and runs off when he looks away.

Outside, Samantha does harass the other dogs, as I mentioned.  They didn't like her at first, which puzzled me. They've always been open and accepting when new dogs came. Then I realized, they just didn't know what to do with her! She was so tiny, so full of energy, and so zipping around like a bullet! Samantha plays rough, runs hard with the big dogs when they take off, and she never acknowledges that she is low dog on the totem pole. While all the other dogs are sitting around panting, it's Samantha helps herd and re-pen stray chickens. When she goes out each morning, the chicken pen is the first place she heads to, announcing her arrival and her authority!

Well, back to this busy month! Catch you all later!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ready... Aim... Would You?

9mm Smith & Wesson Semi-Automatic
"Concentration or the lack of it is what separates good shooters from mediocre shooters. Even if you know the fundamentals, it takes a lot of concentration to make yourself think about them for every shot. Shooting a handgun well does not take a great deal of strength, but it does take a great deal of concentration - it's simple, but not necessarily easy. You must block out external distractions and think about each and every shot before and, as you fire it, not afterwards." - Fundamentals of Handgun Shooting (Walton Co. publication)

John and I spent Saturday morning at the Walton County Sheriff's Office thoroughly enjoying a "Personal Self Defense and Handgun Safety" class. Captain Bobby Tribble led the class, and was a genuine wealth of information, and completely entertaining! Turns out he has taught in a Police Academy, and he was chosen to train a group of 72 citizens (out of 1000) from Haiti, who had come to the States to be trained as Haiti's first police force! How cool is that?
Captain Bobby Tribble, Walton Co. Sheriff"s Dept.

We spent the majority of the class going over the various situations in which we might need to use a gun to protect ourselves,and/or someone else, and the Georgia laws that address those situations.

We learned that we are "justified in threatening or using force against another when" we have a reasonable belief that "such threat or force is necessary to defend ... against such other's imminent use of unlawful force" and "justified in using force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if [we reasonably believe] that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury ... or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."  (O.C.G.A. 16-31-21)

In other words, we can use a gun to protect ourselves and others who might be with us. We can shoot anyone we think is threatening our lives. We cannot shoot anyone whose intent appears to be burglary or simple theft. We cannot shoot anyone who is causing damage to any part of our property, our pets, or our livestock. Pets and livestock are considered property. If, however, when confronted, a burglar, or those causing damage turn with an intent to do us bodily harm, then we can shoot them.
Class members, 15 yard range

There is a whole lot more, but these are the basic considerations when deciding to pull a gun on someone who is threatening our life or property here in Georgia.

One of the most interesting things we learned in this class is that in Walton County, GA, we can own as many guns as we want as long as we have a permit, and concealed weapons (on person or in vehicle) are encouraged.

We spent the final hour of the class out on the firing range. John and I didn't have our own guns, so we had to wait our turn to use one provided by the Sheriff's Department. Although we have a couple of rifles, we do not own any handguns at this time. I wanted to wait until after the class to choose and buy my own gun. I wanted to be clear about what kind of gun would be best for me. That's a good thing, because out on the firing range there were several elderly ladies who learned that the guns they had brought with them were too powerful for them. They had too much recoil for these ladies to handle.
John practicing with a semi-automatic

During discussions in class, I decided that I prefer a semi-automatic to a revolver. A small revolver, like a Saturday Night Special, has less recoil than a standard revolver; but a semi-automatic has even less recoil than the Special, and it's lighter weight. It doesn't require as much trigger pull strength either. A semi-automatic holds more bullets than a revolver, and being easier to reload, you can have a large number of rounds quickly and easily at hand. I also learned that the majority of law enforcement officers in America carry a 9mm semi-automatic. In Walton County, they use a Smith & Wesson. Captain Tribble offered that he thought the Smith & Wesson is a better made gun. In the three years our Sheriff's deputies have been using it, they haven't experienced the first misfire, jam, or breakage. You can't beat that!

Out on the range, I fired a semi-automatic, and it confirmed that this is the gun I want. I'm not only thinking about self-defense, I'm thinking toward the possibility of civil unrest brought on by an economic collapse or natural catastrophe, in which home defense might become a primary concern. (It could happen.) If our government were to break down, and/or the economy were to collapse, chaos would see the development of smaller pockets of society, and the possibility of roaming gangs with violent intent. (It could happen.) In such a situation, bartering might replace a monetary system. Because a 9mm semi-automatic is a very popular gun, and plentiful at this time, parts and ammo would be easier to find and barter for than most other guns and ammo.
#9: John's target. #10: My target

When I fired the first shot, I hit my target dead center. Not bad for someone who hasn't fired a gun since she was five years old. I've held plenty, I just haven't fired them. Oh, and I was only standing 15 yards from the target!

With that first shot I felt the power of the weapon in my hand, and I instantly, in that split second, thought about that target being a human being, and all the implications that pulling that trigger would mean if it were a human being I was firing at. Isn't that something we all ask ourselves, even if we've never held a gun? Can I do it? Can I kill someone?

My dad taught me how to fire a rifle when I was five years old. That was my one and only lesson, and I've never forgotten it. Dad was career Army. He served in three major wars. My brother served three years in the Army. He and my dad were in Vietnam at the same time. (It nearly drove my mother insane). My husband, John, was in the Navy for 10 years during the Cold War, and "rumor has it" a lot more happened during that war than the government wants us to know.
My target. Not bad shooting!

My point is that I have lived my whole life aware of guns, their power, and their usage. I've even been hunting a few times, although we didn't find any game, I was glad I didn't kill anything. I didn't have the heart to kill an innocent animal for sport; and I didn't need it for food. However, I have also known that if I had to, I would kill an animal to feed my family, and if I ever determine that it is the only choice I have, I will kill any human being I determine is threatening "bodily injury or death" to myself, someone I love, or someone I recognize is in immediate danger of life and health. I sincerely do pray that I never have to make that choice, but I have to make myself ready to make that choice, and if the day ever does come, believe me, I know what choice I will make.