Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Author: marathon (page 2 of 10)

The Heroic Entrepreneurship of Mary Emma and Company

"Happy are they who have the courage to defend what they love."  -Ovid

We are in our second family reading of the biographical Little Britches series by Ralph Moody, and we have come now to the place where, at long last, the widow Mary Emma has led her little flock (six chidren, aged from 2-15) to a place of financial stability. The family narrowly escaped from Colorado after Christmas, enduring a harsh winter in Boston, and, with the coming of spring, their in-home laundry service is finally beginning to flourish.

If you were unfamiliar with this family and this era of history, you might be surprised that it would ever be possible for such a family to support itself. Upon getting to know them, you might just as well conclude that it would be just the opposite. How could such a strong family, with such work ethic, in such a golden age of prosperity, ever fail?

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Carman in Transition

Many of our family expressions come from the books we read to the children when they were lap size. Reading was a favorite pastime, and since toddlers love to hear the same stories over and over again, we ended up nearly memorizing many of the ones we had. Let me pull out (of my head) a few common sayings of ours and see if I can remember where they came from:

  • When things are really busy, we just say "busytown" -- I think that comes from a rather unimaginative book by that name.
  • When someone has a rough time at something, we might refer to it as "knocks and socks from very large blocks" -- from Bruce's Loose Tooth, a family favorite.
  • When a situation could break for bad or good, hinging on whether we can accomplish something small, we might say, "He was groping for the lever..." -- from a Curious George book (about a rocket).

Well, the phrase for this week comes from our book about the Three Little Pigs. Carman has officially "gone off to seek his fortune."

Carman recently turned 18, which is the green-light age for working in Chile without the need for special permission. He immediately began pounding the pavement in search of a job: bike shops, restaurants, construction, etc.

He pushed hard for several weeks, enduring a lot of Chilean No's (where you just get silence). Fortunately, he landed a coding job before he was accepted anywhere else. It's a good fit for where he is and where he is going. And it's only a mile away.

So here's a shot of him riding out for Day #2. Off to seek his fortune.

ike leaving for 2nd day


Product Development Bunker Zone

Several of us are in "deep bunker mode" right now, pushing to complete the development of a new product.  This picture just about sums it up:

wp dabs product dev

To Educate a Teen

Carman and Sudoku are in the thick of the teenage years. This morning we were all reminded of why we manage their education in our special quirky way.

It happens that Doodle (10) was struggling a bit with "Converting multi-digit repeating decimals to fractions", and I thought it would be a good exercise for all of us (including Milkmaid, but not Rosebud) to jump in and work a problem with him.
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Unusual Flights over Santiago

For the past three days there have been military planes flying over the city of Santiago during the middle of the day: right around our lunch time.

It reminds me of the weeks after the World Trade Center attacks: military jets flying back and forth over Chattanooga to try to demonstrate ... something.

It actually became quite annoying -- especially the frequent sonic booms at close range -- and then finally went away altogether after there was a massive sonic boom over the city during "church hour" (between 11AM and noon on a Sunday).

The recent Chilean activity is nothing like that level of aggressiveness (no sonic booms or "maneuvers", just a one-time fly-over of a group of planes), but is still odd.  Flying any plane over a crowded city seems questionable.  Is the Chilean government and/or military trying to demonstrate something?



A little ditty for today

The Ho Shan man

for whom we yearn

will soon return

with miles of smiles.

Carman Benchmarks, Old and New

Carman (16 now) is not much of a runner.  He much prefers cycling and he, like me, has a body much more appropriate for pushing pedals.

But after several failed attempts, it appears that we have finally succeeded in getting into one of the free footraces around town and the older kids have been noticeably motivated to run lately.  This particular race will be a road mile, with separate heats for each age group.

So today, as the time approached for our every-other-day 4-5 mile run, Carman announced to me that he had found a good mile course in our neighborhood.  Later I realized that he intended to run it hard, with the caveat that we would be toe-striking and nose-breathing.  I thought he had a shot at beating me because he had seemed pretty strong lately over middle distances when we would get frisky during our otherwise relaxed runs.

It was just in the last year that he officially out-sprinted me for the first time.  Starting about five years ago, he would challenge me to a sprint every so often and always manage to come up short.  We raced on the beach at Valpo about 15 months ago and I won "on a technicality".  (He misunderstood where the finish line was -- gotta love that 🙂 )  Finally, he beat me outright in a local park about six month ago and it was official.

Beating me in running was a long time coming for him compared to cycling, in which he blew me away on a time trial in September of 2012.  I know it was fair because we rode the same bike.  (No, not at the same time, silly.)

Similar story with armwrestling, with the baton passing to him (for left and right arms) about a month ago.  We haven't been swimming at all lately, but I already know that I'd be lucky to be keeping up by drafting off of either Carman or Sudoku at this point.  Carman could certainly out-do me in push-ups and pull-ups by the time he was 12.

But in running, no.  Certainly not distance running. After all, I spent huge chunks of my life doing this!  Surely I'm not going to be struggling to keep up in this, too?

We started our mile time trial and, within 100 yards, I knew that I couldn't hang with him. He pulled away. I thought maybe he was going out too fast and would come back to me. He kept pulling away ...  very evenly like he was an old pro at this.

He finished in 5:40 and I in 6 flat.

Looking at the bright side, now I have a real training partner!


Penelope Skit

This is a sweet, funny skit that I performed in High School for a speech competition.  Skit starts around the 2 min mark.

Groundhog Day

My favorite-est scene EVER! Enjoy.

Now we have proof: Affection causes farm animals to thrive

It's really quite obvious: farm animals benefit from the attention and companionship of humans.

A recent study in the UK demonstrated that milk cows who have been given names produce 3-4% more milk than those who do not have names.

Why would naming be significant?

As I've discussed here, naming implies respect and companionship, and naming is not incompatible with our need, as humans, to consume animal products.

It makes sense that milk cows, having been separated from their babies (their calves), would greatly benefit from all the affection we could manage to give them. After all, they are grieving. Continue reading

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