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Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The main reason I am writing this post without all of the rest of the information yet is because my subscription service for receiving notices of new posts has changed, and we were in a hurry to let you know about that. I was using Bloglet, but I just got an email this morning saying that it would be disabled in the next couple of weeks, as the person who was providing this service did this as a hobby and simply no longer has the time. However, he did leave a way for me to import all of the existing subscriptions to a new service called FeedBlitz, which I have done so that you will all get your subscriptions as usual, though you may have to confirm that you want them through email (seems we saw something about that - another reason for writing this post and getting it up quickly). Laura skimmed over the instructions just enough to get this going for me, just as she handles most of this kind of thing, and we just did the minimum to get it up and running. Hopefully, as this new service is not just a hobby for these folks, but also a way of making income (though I am using the free version, as I do on just about every downloadable program I have - so far there is only one I have thought worth paying for to get the additional stuff I was missing out on), it will also be a bit more reliable than Bloglet has been. At least I am hoping that these statements are the truth. I can't really know until we have tried it and seen whether or not it works properly. (We signed up for a subscription just like we did at Bloglet to make sure that it came through each time we post, so we will get our notice the same way and at the same time that you will - once a day, no matter how much I write, and I am just hoping that I haven't waited to late to publish this one that I missed the time they send out the notices. Guess we will soon see, huh?)
I know that I have received some emails from some of you stating that you were not receiving your subscription updates, and we have had to go to Bloglet to re-enable the subscription updates several times. Bloglet will automatically disable your subscription of posts sent out if it encounters any problems, like Blogger going down or something. Hopefully this service will work differently and fix that, as it didn't mention it being a possibility. We will see. Let me know if you have any problems. The only problem with this changeover was that there were two subscriptions that were anonymously signed up under Bloglet that would not import over to the new service for that reason. I have your email addresses and will send you an email so that you may subscribe to this new service for updates if you like, or you can just go ahead and do so in the box at the right of the screen if you are reading this today, even though you would not have received an update from Bloglet to tell you that I have updated my blog today since we had to disable that service and change the code in the template to start the new one (which we have moved up higher on the sidebar so that it is easier to find for new readers and for the few old ones who never knew that I had a way for them to subscribe - now they can do so).
Anyway, Laura and I will get together later (probably tomorrow, as we are pretty tired) and get you updated more on what has been happening with the old foster dogs, our computer, the arrival of a new dumped dog (we call him George, and the poor guy is just a puppy and was pretty skinny when he showed up, but he is gaining weight fast - now if we can just get him potty-trained...We will also see about getting a picture of him up soon as well - looks part pitt and is a kind of a brindle color. Hopefully we can get a shot of him up today along with the pictures of the house today, though I still use a borrowed still camera and don't control when I get pictures sent to me. Anyway, we will get to the rest of the story later. It ought to bring you up-to-date a bit. It could even be long enough to take several posts.
I will give you a few summary highlights, though.
We did buy ourselves a new digital video camera finally! However, the guy at the store misunderstood what we wanted, so the thing doesn't just plug into the computer like we had hoped, and we cannot edit footage, which is a REAL bummer! - but it does have much better quality optics than the models that did plug in, so that will make up for it somewhat. We would have probably gone somewhere else and done more looking if we had realized that he had sold us the one he did, as we really did want a better one than the one we got, but without giving up the quality of the video, and we would have had to do that if we had bought the others that did plug into the computer. They just didn't have much of a selection, and we were pretty disappointed. But the one recommended to us by a friend to do what we wanted it to do costs thousands of dollars, and we just couldn't afford that. At least not now. The only real problem we have had with this one so far (we have barely used it - only 3 times so far) is that it is one of those models put out by Sony that makes those tiny little DVD disks, and though we have now upgraded our computer with a DVD burner to make copies of them since we have such a slow dial-up connection and could never send a video out to anyone, the computer will only recognize the RW+ disks for me to use, won't copy a file from the camera to the computer and then burn it back to a DVD that anyone can watch on their player at home because of the format, and we haven't been able to find anything but RW- and, of course, the regular R disks. If anyone knows of a common place to get these RW+ ones, please let me know. (We had to drive all the way up to Fort Smith to the Best Buy - about 1-1/2 hours away - to even buy the camera to get this kind of quality, as Wal-Mart (about the only place around to buy anything at all) just didn't have anything that we wanted or that did what we wanted it to do, but we are hoping not to have to drive all the way up there again just to get a couple of disks for the thing!)
As for the other problem of sharing, we have a workaround since the camera won't play nice as far as making copies of disks we make so that we can share them with others and use them to post pictures from (though we are still considering buying a still camera for doing this if necessary, as we understand that they have better quality and come with programs so that you can edit pictures and all - at least the Kodak one that we borrow does - then we can only use this one mostly for video, but we will make that decision after we have used it to take pictures we can actually view on the computer once we get the proper disks). As for the workaround, I can create and burn DVD's to send to people via a new Nero program that came with my DVD burner, so I can get around not being able to hook up the camcorder to the computer or the disks having the format that the computer reads on the RW+ disks burned to another disk so that it can be recognized and played by a regular DVD player (MPEG-2), or so the computer guy tells us. We haven't had time to try that, either. But we have taken some video with it and a few stills that we would like to share (it at least makes .jpg files for the pictures). Whoever knew that this was all so complicated?! We knew what we wanted to do, but just couldn't find what we wanted without spending some serious money - like thousands of dollars to have one custom-made or special-ordered or something.
Our house is our biggest priority, though we did buy us a car that is not only newer and much more dependable (the truck is STILL broken down!), but also gets WAAAAY better gas mileage, which will make a major difference when we make our tour of the country and all and certainly makes a big difference just going to town and on the environment as well as our small wallet. We never would have taken that truck to do that long road trip anyway. Terrible gas mileage and not comfortable enough, not to mention 10 years older than the car, so probably not as dependable. The new car (well, new to us anyway) is perfect for this, though - a nice mid-sized car with plenty of room for passengers and for carrying things in the trunk. Though it hasn't been very helpful in hauling building materials like ol' Hoss (the truck - Laura always names her vehicles, and this one has a name, too - Lady Blue) was. >:(
We still want our truck back, especially since the only reason we bought the thing was to haul supplies to build this house! It has really been a pain in the butt to work with this car, Laura's mother's minivan (with luggage rack), and her sister's vehicle's luggage rack. Can't carry much in or on any of them like we could in ol' Hoss and usually have to drive slowly. For the big stuff, we just had to pay for delivery fees. We sure miss ol' Hoss and check on him frequently. He actually carried a whole pallet of cinder blocks from a town 45 minutes away, surprising even the people who worked there. We worked him hard, but he always came through. A rat chewing wires is the problem now, and the repair guy thinks there is a good possibility that the computer brain is shorted out (if you have one for a '91 Ford F150 4wd or know someone who does, please let me know - I have the exact numbers needed to make sure it is the right part). But, at least we got part of the house done with it and got Laura's mother's house built with it, and even used it to earn a little cash for a couple of years until we could get a steady income coming in, even if it is only a small check. At least we and the animals eat, the bills get paid, and everything like that. Though now that we have the new house, our utilities will be higher, I still don't have medical coverage and am having to pay for all of that in cash, and we don't think the check will be enough to pay for all of that, we are figuring out innovative ways to cut monthly costs and continue to build as green as we started out, even if it costs a little more up front for some of the things we are buying, like the tankless water heater, and will require more work for others, like the compost toilet.
Speaking of money, I really want to thank the people who have been sending donations throughout this time, even with me not writing a word or keeping in touch, to help with all those foster dogs and the chickens, not to mention all of those puppies - two of which had to be bottle-fed to survive. Laura really worked hard during that time taking care of both me, with my head injury and seizures and having to be awakened every 4 hours, and still caring for those puppies and all of the rest of the animals. She didn't sleep much and lost a bit of weight then, too. You can't possibly know how much that money really did help, as we were really eating through that house money to care for the puppies (that formula is quite expensive!) since we obviously couldn't afford to spend 40% of our monthly income to do that and still eat ourselves, much less pay the bills and get my medical needs taken care of and all, and one we got the other money for the car, house, and all, we would not have been able to finish that house and still pay for everything else if it were not for you generous people helping us to make sure that all of the animals had food and medical care. We are really cutting it very, VERY close now with the little bit of money we have left, as we have spent quite a bit of it on the animals that we never budgeted for (just like we hadn't budgeted for me getting hurt so badly, being not only unable to work and make a little money doing odd jobs, but costing so much for all my medical care), but what were we to do? The animals had to be taken care of. No matter what.
There were animals needing us. Just like George. No, we can't really afford him, but here he is. And no, we don't have the time to devote to potty-training him at the moment, but he is here, and no animal that shows up here ever gets turned away, especially when they are so obviously starving and you can see all of their bones like we could with him. He was SO glad to see caring people. He licked Laura right in the face when she found him in the new house that morning as she climbed down the stairs from the loft to make coffee and called him to her, thinking he was one of the other dogs (he is about the same color as Spaz) even before she then immediately went and got him a bowl of food and another of fresh water and brought both to him when she discovered he wasn't Spaz, but just another unwanted baby dumped out in the woods on his own and had entered our house while we slept, looking for help. He wanted love just about as much as he wanted to eat and drink. Well, he sure came to the right place for that!
Funny how they seem to just know where to go, isn't it? Poor baby. How can people do that, especially to babies? I will never understand that one. (Oh, that reminds me - we just bought everyone's rabies shots recently and need to give them to them, though we will now have to buy one extra for George since it is really beginning to look as if we will end up keeping him. We didn't want to and intended to try to find him a home just like we have all of the others that have shown up, but he really did bond with Laura's daughter and is quite happy here - not to mention that he appears to be part pittbull, and we are worried about the kind of home he would go to because of that. But those rabies shots need to be administered ASAP. Very important, especially out here in the woods! Glad I made this post today, as I had forgotten about those shots at the back of the refrigerator. They aren't doing much good in there now, are they?) Maybe we will go ahead and give George the one that was supposed to be given to Sly, "our" cat (even though he moved in with Laura's mother rather than stay down here - who could blame him?), and just get Sly another one. Then we can do all of the dogs at the same time, and besides, George is more likely to come across a rabid animal in the woods than Sly is since George is running in the woods with our dogs, and Sly pretty much just hangs around the house.
I know that I have been a bit lax in thanking you each and every one personally for donations lately, and I really do apologize for that. I have always made sure to acknowledge and thank every single person for every single donation, no matter the size (just like I always answer every email I get). I feel bad about that lapse, so take this as a group public thank you and know that your contributions truly did help take care of all of those animals and are still needed for us to keep going, as obviously we are still getting animals and will soon be building the chickens their new home and, best of all, the big yard so that they can roam freely and engage in more natural behaviors than they now do. We work hard to make sure they get fresh natural greenery from around here and have clean places to nest and all, but their house is pretty well shot, and we hate keeping them locked up in that small yard all of the time to keep them from being torn to pieces. Before we got the money to build the house, we were really hurting badly and not eating well, not to mention just not filling a prescription here and there, all in order to care for the animals we had responsibility for, especially when both shelters cut off all the promised help. We put the animals first, though, just as we would our children. I am sure that most of you understand that feeling. Unfortunately, because of the way things went, both places lost a very good foster home, as we were really having trouble properly caring for them, especially as far as tick control went. We won't take that chance again. And besides, Laura's mother got fed up with some of the things that happened with them and has said that we could no longer take in any foster dogs. Dumped dogs are a completely different matter - she wouldn't turn away a starving baby any more than we would. Same for the chickens. And they don't cost nearly as much as dogs do. And they LOVE ticks! Laura actually goes out to their yard when she gets covered and feeds them to them right off her hands and clothes. We were feeding them the ones we picked off the dogs, but we used that spot treatment stuff you put on their backs, so we can't do that anymore lest we take the chance of poisoning them, even if we do find one or two on a dog.
And, as for what we will do next with the donations you send, besides continuing to feed and care for the existing animals here, the chicken yard expansion is next! Yes, I know that I have been talking about doing it for some time now, but if you have been reading this blog long enough, then you know why it didn't happen when I thought it would. There has just been one obstacle after another, but mostly now it's because I physically can't do it after having that tree fall on my head. I am still suffering quite a bit of dizziness and have fallen off of ladders several times in the building of this house and coming down from the loft, which isn't good. It especially wasn't good a couple of days ago when I fell from a ladder about 8 ft. and landed on a cast iron wood stove, hitting my head on the thing. It is still swollen and sore over that. Needless to say, I was out of commission for the rest of that day - just laid down after Laura helped me inside when it gave me another seizure (the first one I have had in a while - we thought they were gone, but apparently not). I have also fallen and landed flat on my back a couple of times - once right on my tool belt with the hammer standing straight up in its holster and stabbing me right in the lower back and another time breaking an old boombox we had out in the house to listen to while we worked (at least it was old and already half-broken anyway). But, since we still don't have the stairs built to get into the loft to sleep, we have to climb a ladder to get up there and come back down every day. That will be one of the first places we put some of the hardwood flooring so that we can build that ladder, especially as it barely reaches, and you have to climb up on the top step to get into the loft because the top of it is still several inches below the floor of it and is resting on a 2x6 that holds it up.
But, back to the chicken expansion. I still have a donation someone sent me for that (well, most of it - a small part of it was used to try and save Feisty's little life when we took him to the vet - but we still have the rest tucked away in our other account for that project. So, if the person who sent that donation is reading this (and I won't mention you by name since I don't know if you want anyone to know or not and haven't received your permission to say anything), I want you to know that we do still have it, and we will still use it for its intended purpose - to build the expansion for the chickens. And I will get on that just as soon as I am able to do so. It will require a LOT of work, and I will still have to have help. Hopefully I can get some help with it without much trouble and, even more hopefully, at no expense, as there is very little Laura can do as far as setting all those posts for the fence goes. She can help a bit with the house and putting up the fencing, though. We are still open to volunteers from the animal community to come and stay for however long you want to, and not just to slave away, but to enjoy the place as well. Now that we have dried in the house, we can even put people up in it, as we have even bought a blowup double-bed-sized camping mattress and two cots with blowup mattresses in them. And, of course, we still have the tent option if you like privacy and camping out. In fact, we just bought a brand new one since last year ours got torn in the side by a tree branch when we had a storm come up that was unexpected, and the person using the tent at the time had not staked it down enough (maybe not even at all, as it usually isn't necessary). It was just a small rip and can probably be fixed, but we went ahead and got a new one anyway, just in case we could not fix it to the point that rain would not come in. We don't like to take chances like that when we go on overnight canoe trips and are stranded out there on the riverbank until we get to the end of the float.
But, since I have talked about spending all of this money on the house, car, and other things, I did feel that it was necessary to stress our policy once again, especially for new readers. We NEVER use any donated money for personal expenses unless the person sending it expressly tells us to use the money sent in a certain donation for one of them, and right now there is only one person who does this occasionally to help with medications. And, we have NOT spent a single dime of donated money to build our house, buy our car, or on any other personal expenses, just like we promised we wouldn't after we pretty much got on our feet quite a while back. That policy still is the same, and it will remain that way unless something unforeseen and major happens, at which time we will let you know. But, we don't foresee that happening.
Every penny sent to us for the animals goes to the animals.
(In fact, we spend more than we take in 99% of the time), and we do keep the receipts to prove that fact if any of you ever question that or desire to see proof (and we would completely understand and not be in any way offended, especially if you were like the person who sent the somewhat large donation towards the chicken expansion and wanted to be absolutely sure that your money would be well-spent and that you were not being conned or anything). Laura is especially careful about trying to keep up with receipts in her files, especially since we are not a non-profit, and the donations are legally treated as "gifts" by the IRS and are not subject to the same scrutiny from the government that the non-profits have to deal with (and, also just in case they ever come sniffing around to make sure that this isn't untaxed income, too - Laura is now saving ALL receipts for that reason, even grocery store ones, and she has always saved ones for utilities and major purchases for things with warranties and such - she is very organized about this and has done it for years, and you would be surprised at how often it has made a difference - I can look up a phone number I called from 2002, for instance, and that kind of thing is nice when you lose those little slips of paper someone gives you with their phone number on them.
Anyway, for now we have decided to keep things as they are as far as that nonprofit stuff goes. It may cost us some of the larger donations that some rich people like to use to take money owed to the IRS off their taxes, but most of those kinds of big checks go to the large groups anyway, not small ones like ours, and if someone really and truly wants to directly help an animal or to help get me to a speaking engagement or something like that, they will do so without worrying about something like tax deductions. A few people have. People do that because they care about our work and the animals we help, not to mention the many thousands of people all over the globe that I have helped educate as to exactly how the poultry industry operates in detail. Details that even the big activist organizations don't always know and ask me about frequently. Only someone who has worked in such an environment for a number of years would know the things I do, and as far as I know, and as far as anyone at the large organizations knows, I am the only person to come forward and talk about this stuff, and am especially being the only person willing to actually use my name and have my private life torn open for the world to see, in addition to making myself a target for those who are not too happy with me talking. And there are quite a few of those, though most of them are just annoying, and some are even funny, but they are almost all pretty harmless. Almost. Some are not. You have read about some of the stuff we have had to endure because of my big mouth, but not everything. There are a few things that only a few people know about.
I mean, I have actually been sniped at. Repeatedly. Really. And I can prove it. A few people know about it, but this is the first time I have disclosed this publicly. Hope it doesn't backfire on me, but several people told me that I should go public with this fact, so now I am finally doing so. And, yes, it has been reported to the authorities - more than one level at that, but no one is doing much of anything about it. Well, I say that because there isn't a cop car parked outside my place trying to catch (or at the very least stop) who is doing it, but I don't mean that there isn't anyone at all in law enforcement that isn't trying to help. And I pretty well know who this person is. And, yes, that information has been turned over, too, along with pictures and other things, but I am not going to tell all on this at this point because the person doing this will definitely read this, and I don't want to completely tip my hand on exactly what evidence I have gathered, exactly who I have talked to, and exactly what is being done about it.
I will say this, though. The person responsible needs to stop it if they want to have any chance of having anything left of a life. You may think you have been smart and careful, but not quite as smart and careful as you thought. And you have severely underestimated who you are up against just as you have severely overestimated your ability to shut me up by killing me. I mean, I am still here and going strong, aren't I? There is a post being written right now, isn't there? If you agree to stop and leave me alone, I will agree to stop what I am doing to ruin you. And believe me when I say "ruin." I don't use that word lightly. And you know me and know that I mean it. I don't give up. I don't quit. And I don't scare off. And there are others who are following this all who have copies of all of the evidence I have gathered, and it is scattered all over. I know much more than you realize I do, and I have been busy going after you since you started this little campaign to kill me right in my own yard, laying in my hammock reading a book. Quit right now. I mean it. I am not threatening you, but let me give you a piece of advice - you have to get away with it EVERY time. You only have to be caught ONCE. It's not a matter of IF, but WHEN. Isn't that what cops tell those who break the law? It's what I tell those few people I still know who do. And you are breaking the law. But, here on this blog, I will make you a deal publicly. You quit trying to kill me, and I will quit putting together the pieces that will ruin you and those you care about. Call it a truce while you still can. If you even still can. Things have been progressing more than some people know because I am not using the usual means of communication that can be listened in on to disseminate this information. Not anymore. I did at first, and I had a reason for it, even though I knew that you would know about it. In fact, your reaction when I started gave me a clue as to your identity. But now, there is more, and you don't know what it is, and you won't until it is too late. At this point, even if you actually got lucky enough to pop me and actually kill me, your eventual ruin wouldn't stop, as it has taken on a life of its own now with this many people involved who want to see you go down.
And that's all I will say about that - now or in the future.
Leave me alone because it really isn't worth it. Not really. Is it? If so, then...
Anyway, as far as the nonprofit idea goes, this is what we have been advised to do, especially given the political climate of industry and the corporate-friendly government going after animal and environmental nonprofits (think PETA and Greenpeace, for starters) added to the fact that we really don't receive that much in donations anyway. So, it would basically be a major red-tape headache for us with no real gain, and it would cost money to do it that could be better spent on the animals. I mean, we aren't like PETA or the Humane Society or anything like that, and we don't take in millions of dollars (we aren't even like one of the larger sanctuaries who not only get donations but also help by volunteers and/or interns to care for the animals) - quite a few months go by with us never getting anything at all, and 99% of the time we receive less than $100 in any month that we actually get anything at all. Most donations are between $5 and $20 anyway. That will feed animals, but those amounts are just not worth even the $150 filing fee we were told we would need to send in with the mounds of paperwork to the IRS, and they certainly aren't worth the time that would be taken away from our work to deal with those bureaucrats that are auditing everyone right now, looking for anything at all to get them on so that they can take away their tax-free status. Some sanctuaries have even folded, like OohMahNee. That's always a terrible shame, as we need all the places we can get for these relatively few animals saved from slaughter or abusive homes. There is a real shortage of space for farmed animals because of their size, their need for lots of space, and their big appetites, just to start - it's even worse for farmed animals, due to lack of space and the number of sanctuaries, than for the millions of unwanted cats and dogs that either go to shelters, are dumped in the woods like George, or are just killed outright. Many are put down in one way or another, just as the millions of dogs and cats are every year just so that many shelters can make room for more unwanted animals and only keep the most adoptable ones. Others just stay full and turn away many animals needing help. We don't do that just as we don't kill so-called "unadoptable" ones - we either find suitable homes for them with people we personally know or just keep them ourselves.
So, we decided that we would rather have every single penny going directly to help the animals, as I am sure you would too if you sent money in. I know that if I donated money to feed and care for an animal, I wouldn't want it spent on administrative expenses, someone's salary (not to put down anyone who does this work for a living or any organization that pays people to do this work, but we just don't have that kind of budget, even if we wanted to do that, and we don't. We do this simply because we love and care about animals, and Laura had already been doing it for practically her whole life before I even met her - it's just more animals and a bit bigger operation than it ever was for her before - and nothing is sent to the IRS, or anything of the sort. And we truly do need every penny we can get to properly care for these animals. I mean, we could probably make sure no one starved without help if we went without a few more things ourselves, but we could never afford medical care for me, for instance. And, at this point, I really have no choice in that matter. Too many things wrong with me.
Much of the healing we do ourselves anyway, as Laura is quite experienced at caring for rescued animals (even those who are hurt, up to a point), having taken in all kinds of species of them in and nursed them back to health, since she was a child and has a good knowledge of herbs. That doesn't stop us from taking in a sick or injured animal that truly needs a vet, though. I believe our past posts will show that we have done that quite often. Just like we make sure every one of the cats and dogs here are fixed.
We were horrified when Sophia (remember the female foster dog brought to us by one of the shelters who was supposedly "spayed," but wasn't and gave birth on the very day I had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital over my head injury?) The puppies who were born in February and had to stay in this little travel trailer with us for 3 weeks until they were old enough and it was warm enough for them to move outside to the pen with the nice insulated doghouse? Well, we intend to make sure that nothing of the sort ever happens here again! We also couldn't afford flea and tick control for everyone any other way than getting some help. There are quite a few things we could not afford to do without your help. It's just basically the two of us, if you only count what happens here on the ground with these animals, and don't count the contributions made by other group members in the groups I started to help to share information on factory farming.
So, you really are making a huge difference in the life of an animal when you make a donation, even if it is only a few dollars. I have mentioned before how there were several times that we were totally broke and out of dog food, wondering what to do, only to check the mail and find just enough in there to buy yet another 50 lb. bag to keep the dogs fed. Those few times that R.V. sent just $10 came at the exact moment help was desperately needed. I mention his initials because he knows this and does what he can when he can and deserves a very special thank you all his own. Just like several others do who donate regularly, even if it is just a small amount, but I talk to them quite often just as friends, and they already know how much they are appreciated. Sometimes that is just what we need, and it really does make the difference of whether or not we can buy food that week or not. Not as often now as it was before, but it still happens, especially when we have some extra expense not budgeted for, like our car breaks down or something. I mean, we just had to put new brakes on the car. Unexpected, but necessary. Just like when the rat chewed the wiring to the fuel injectors in it recently, and we had an appt. in Hot Springs the very next day. Had to be fixed, and had to be fixed that day, regardless. I don't think I actually have to invoke the saying of "Sh*t happens." Every one of you knows that.
Anyway, I will close this post out now so that we can get started on finishing cleaning up after the work done today so that we are ready to begin again tomorrow and so that we can eat something, as we are starving! But, I will be back very soon to finish updating you. We have just been so pressed for time and running around like crazy for the past couple of months to get this thing dried in and to the point where we can at least camp out in it (which we are doing now - we only still have the trailer because we don't have the house wired yet and need the power, though the extension cord thing is getting old, and we are tired of flipping breakers!)
Keeping ours and your fingers crossed, we will be in there full-time and this trailer dragged out of here within the next couple of weeks now that we finally have this delivery here and will know exactly where the appliances will go so that we can install the plugs and plumbing in the right places. It won't be finished by then - not by any means, but it will be far enough along for us to camp out in and finish at our leisure. Just the bedroom loft space is more than we have in this cramped little trailer. So, we will work on finishing that out next after we get the flooring down for the appliances to sit on and get the place wired, plumbed, insulated, and all. Laura is being very careful to do this right, as we will probably never get another chance to redo anything because of finances. Not unless we have another miracle like this one. She is paying a little more here and there to make sure of that, especially since we are both now unable to work enough to earn any kind of a living and will only degenerate worse as time goes on.
Hell getting old, isn't it? But, I guess that's what happens when you treat your body the way I have during the past years and do the hard physical labor I did for so long. And, of course, poor Laura with the damage from the car wrecks, especially when she was hit by the 18-wheeler, is pretty much done for. Her last MRI showed continued irritation and degeneration of the disks in her back, though we were glad to find out that she didn't need back surgery, as the Dr. had feared. (Needless to say, neither of us are supposed to be doing any of this kind of work, and the doctor isn't really happy about it and is advising against it (though he understands reality, and is mainly making sure that we take it as easy as possible and pace ourselves - he was pretty upset with our physical condition the last time he saw us, as we looked rough, had lost weight, and were just generally run down, though we assured him that the biggest rush of work was over and temporary now that it was dried in and that we would slow down very soon), but how else could we get the house built? We sure couldn't afford to pay to have the whole thing built, even though we have paid some people for certain help, especially enlisting the expertise of a contractor for the tricky stuff - you will see pics of him, too. He was great, and we couldn't have done this thing right without him. He was worth every penny.
Anyway, let me close this out and get out there and get to work again. I've been coming in and out to do this, as it has taken longer than I had first planned, so really Laura is the one who has been stuck in here most of the day typing away (though she also had to come out and work, too, especially when the delivery people came and needed signatures, and she also supervises to make sure everything is done the way she wants it done), with me popping in every few minutes to tell her what I want to say. And I am about ready to take a break for supper, when I will read the whole post to make sure it says what I want it to and just to have one extra set of eyes looking for typos. She likes me to do that before she hits "publish."
But, at least the hardest and most important part is over - it is dried in and not still rotting away on us. (There was a LOT more rotten that had to be redone than we first thought there was - not just the subfloor, but in some places all the way through the floor joists and down to the support beam, and in one place, the sill, as well as some of the bottom plates of the walls sitting on the floor, and at that time, we were really glad we had hired the contractor so that it could be fixed right before resuming building on top of that mess.) But it is finally dried in now and the rot stopped, so we can slow down a bit now. After another week or two, we won't be paying anyone else to help and will finish the inside and the rest of the outside ourselves at a MUCH slower pace than we have done this other stuff, as we have literally worked until we dropped some days and lost quite a bit of weight and sleep doing so.
So, anyway, until I get back to you, at least you have an inkling of what has been going on, that I am still alive and kicking and, even though busy as hell working on building our house, still involved in my activism, and you now know about the new subscription service. If there is any more info we need to let you know about it once we have had more time to check it out, we will let you know. And, like I said, be sure and let me know of ANY troubles at all you might have with the new service.
Keep being the wonderful and caring people that you are. And if you have emailed me and I have not gotten back to you, you now know why. I will do so just as soon as possible. Thank you all for your caring, patience, and understanding. This house has been a dream for all of Laura's life since she was a child, and she has really sacrificed a lot and worked really hard to get it. I am so glad that she finally is getting it and that we can finally get out of this falling-apart travel trailer. As for me, well, I just never thought I would ever live in a place like this. Never have and never thought that I would. I can't wait until it is finished. We will throw a big open house party at that time with all vegan food and no alcohol - just good clean fun and lots of grinning, hugging, and jumping up and down. (Okay, Laura and her mother have already done that part of it just thinking about it when we first started, but they and we all will do it again big time when it's all done.)
And, yes, we have already put in a doggie door, so that the dogs will be able to come and go freely, as opposed to staying outside. (In fact, that is how George showed up. We were camping out in there when Laura found hinm inside the house when she woke up the next morning, all scared, lonely, and HUNGRY! He is so sweet, and he and Laura's daughter really formed quite a bond when she was here camping out in the house with us recently - her week-long visit was the biggest part of the reason for the big hurry to dry it in. George slept not only in her room every night, but in her bed with her. Yes, he is already spoiled rotten, but then which animal on this place isn't? Ha ha! Just got to potty-train him, as he really leaves big piles! Yuck!
I promise. :)