Monday, June 01, 2009

Plucker Problems, Part 2

Be warned: this is a long, rambly post. But there are pictures.

See here for part 1.

Every day I seem to pass a new threshold. "Wow, I've never worked this hard." "Wow, I've never worked this long." "Wow, I've never hurt this much."

I didn't mention it in Part 1, but I've definitely been over-doing it. Which means I'm either stupid, or wimpy... Wimpy, because I DO manage to keep going, but then 'pay' for it so much later, or stupid for even trying. Maybe both?

Sunday morning I ran to the farm store for *more* bolts (man, I'm getting to be a bolt expert, lemme tell ya), an electrical plug (to wire up the motor), and something pipe-like into which a 3/8" bolt can fit, as a hinge-mount thing. Hubby managed to figure out a way to make the motor adjustable, so as to keep tension on the belt. I forgot to check for a belt.

I ran home and loaded everyone up for church (*gasp* yes, we were going to make it to church again, finally). Organique fell asleep right about the time we pulled into the parking lot (so not good), and managed to disrupt us and the rest of the congregation several times that morning. *sigh*

She fell asleep when Hubby finally took her out of the building (and into her carseat), leaving me and at least one other daughter to listen to the rest of the sermon in peace. On the way home we went to the farm store again because I had gotten bolts with smaller threads than we needed, plus, Hubby needed to look for the belt.

They don't have belts there.

NOWHERE else is open in our little town on Sunday.

We went home, I made a peanut-butter type of milkshake and ran out the door, so tired, sore, and achy from the goings on of the past days, but *someone* had to find a belt for this thing, and *someone else* had to weld makeshift hinges. The latter would not be me. Pregnant lady with a miter saw, yes. With a mig or tig or wire-feed or stick-welder? Not so much. I don't even know which kind(s) we have, or which he used.

At this point I also fielded a knock at my door from the mother/inlaw of my neighbors wanting to learn about keifer. I tried to be relaxed as I kicked dirty diapers and mismatched shoes out of the direct area of the front door. There wasn't much I could do about the beach umbrella, overturned garbage can full of moldy banana peels, soggy beach towel, or chicken poop she already had to step over just to knock on the door. Did I mention I've been busy with other projects lately? I gave her my email address as it was obvious we were on a time-sensitive mission, and I had no time to spare discussing the how-to's of keifer. Besides, among the cluttered counter she might have seen the jar of keifer that has likely morphed into something very wrong and terrible.

Also we got a phone call from our cousin. He wanted to inform us of the Sunday-night bible study/fellowship they were having at 6:30, which I *always* want to go to and we've only made it once. I explained our current project and problems, and the slight likelihood that we'd make it, though I wanted to. I was already about to run to Town for a belt. Hubby had run back to the farm store to get a metal-cutting saw blade (those hinges, you know), and probably a couple more times for bolts. Lock washers. A 3/4" spade bit. Gas. A few minutes after hanging up the phone, the cousin called back.

"How would you guys feel about our having fellowship out at your place, and helping you out?" (they sometimes do service-style gatherings, helping out this family or that with just everything.)

"Um... you know we plan on killing chickens, right?"

"Yeah, that's a big job. I'll call everyone."

After about 50 more clarifications, and a discussion with Hubby, the plan was set. How did I feel about having "fellowship" out here? Fine. How did I feel about the spilled cherry juice all over the dining room floor (that was also serving as glue to hot-pink post-it notes that wouldn't sweep up), or the 38 loads of laundry that needed washed and/or dried and/or folded and/most/definitely put away? Not so fine. How did I feel about asking other people to deal with the most nastiest of jobs that was my choice, my responsibility, my chore, and for my benefit? Terrible. Hideous. Deep breath; *I* wasn't really asking them. Crazy Cousin was. Deep breath again. Fold some laundry. Find some chidren to put it away. Run around giving to-do lists to everyone, so I could go find that darn belt. Decide that the freshly-spilled peanut-butter milkshake that slid off the table with the fresh tablecloth that didn't make it all the way on wasn't going to make much difference, what with the juice and post-it's. Dry Big Sister's tears and get her some more milkshake. Have I mentioned I haven't done much cooking lately?

I stopped at Cousin's to load up his weird little trimmer-mower that he is letting us 'borrow' and 'store' (we love that kind of arrangement), and then hoof it to the auto parts store. It was somewhat closer than Lowe's. Hubby had warned me, though. We needed a 64" long, 1/2" wide v-belt, but most places weren't geared to find it. "They're going to want the year, make, and model so they can look up a part number... You might have better luck at Lowe's." While I hobbled and waddled around the sorely-understaffed-on-a-Sunday-afternoon auto store, I couldn't find any belts displayed. I asked a guy that was picking through a tiny drawer of tiny brass bits if they kept the v-belts hidden away, and he said yes, and he'd help me shortly. While I waited and ached, I tried to access one of their computers, but when I clicked on belts, nothing happened. I snooped around more, and found a phone book and called Lowe's (after I saved the # in my phone). Right around the time the Lowe's guy answered, another clerk materialized and offered to help me. Of course. The Lowe's guy finally informed me that the biggest belt they had for a mower deck was 52". Not good. The auto guy was helping someone else by now, so I called Hubby. I don't know why, but I did. Finally, the auto guy was within my sights, and I asked about the length of belts they had, and he pulled out a ginormous thing. We kindof measured it with a tape measure, and deduced that it was far bigger than I needed. Eventually he discovered that there was a little number code for each belt, and some of the numbers indicated length, in inches. Ah, yes. Experts abound. The bad news: no 64" belts. The good news: some were longer. The bad news: no 'universal' belts Hubby had described. The good news: 70" might work. The bad news: darn, it's a 5/8" belt. The worse news: there were no half-inch belts that would come close. Another call to Hubby, "would v-belts with little teeth cut into them work ok?" The good news: Yes. The better news: a half-inch one in the neighborhood of 68" was located. I'll take it! And after wondering what this all-important item would set me back (after the hundreds already invested), the best news: $6.99. Thank you, Lord!

I headed home to wash dishes and put away groceries bought on Thursday (have I mentioned I haven't done much housekeeping lately?), and have girls hang out laundry, and when a storm blew in, to bring in laundry. And then put away laundry. Hubby had the hinges finished, and put the belt on, then we wedged the angled part of a sawed-off fence post (because we're particular at times like this) under the motor to create that tension. Temporarily, of course (yeah, right).

He wired on the plug, and gave 'er power... Ta-da!, it whirled! Of course, the work wasn't done, because we wanted a circular plate. I found the lathe woodworking tools, and my first contact with the plastic bent the tool, dug a deep (but not deep enough) cut into the edge, and nearly took my arm off. Hmm.. We tried a file, a belt-sander, and more, and eventually returned to the woodworking tools, with Hubby and his Muscles in charge. It worked much better this way. We got it nearly circular, to discover that the wobble won't go away because the metal fabricator guy (who charges $75/hr!) didn't center the flange on the shaft right, and it's off-balance. Believe me, as soon as I can, you know, walk, and bend over, and move again, I'm going to tear that sucker apart and take it back for a re-do.

Cousin showed up "dressed to kill."
Note the carcass of the trampoline in the background.
The Cousins showed up, with their "piece of crap mower" (i.e. old beater good for mowing weeds) and their kids (at least one of whom is old enough and savvy enough to run said mower), as did a handful of bachelor-types. Later another family. Hubby now had to weld some sort of stop on his drill bit, so we could make a counter-sink for the finger-holes in the plate. And I had to access the geometry section of my brain to figure out the spacing for these holes. It was truly miraculous. Or not. I had help.

Yes, that's a roll of shop towels.
No, those nice fingernails and fancy bracelet make it obvious that that's not *my* hand.
The plucker wasn't going to be operational fast enough anyway, so I got out the axe...

And handed it to Cousin.

Nothing like a service project where you end up covered in blood spatter. That, my friends, is service. Love. Sacrifice... in a very Old-Testament-y way.

Cousin's Boy really got into it. He's a big helper already, and not even 11.

He chopped. Kids gasped. Others cheered.

Organique was not among the cheering.
Rabbit trail: Three days ago Little Artist was nearly crying, because she wanted to keep one of the white chickens. That she loved them. She didn't want them to die. Yesterday she greeted the Cousins in the driveway with a gleeful clasping of her hands, and exclaimed, "we're going to butcher chickens!" She was quite disappointed when the event didn't materialize on Saturday. Later, she emerged from the chicken pen with her own chicken, telling me that she wanted to chop the head off this one, but she'd use the "little axe." How does this happen? Is it that we don't do the normal diversions of ballet classes, or video games? Good heavens.

I set about to scalding and handing out rubber gloves to willing pluckers (Hubby was still drilling holes and countersinks in the garage, the lucky guy). We didn't get to them all, indeed at 10:00 pm, by the (head)lights of an old suburban-type-vehicle pulled up onto the lawn (yep, we classy), I had eviscerated 8 of the 9 dead (having my guests pluck was asking enough, don't you think?), leaving Hubby to clean the last one, as well as his beloved gizzards, while I made my way to the house with Organique, who was ready for her dinner and bedtime (yep, we also great parents). Oh. I. Hurt. Every step. Every movement. Feet, legs, hips, back. Ouuuuchhh...

We talked and fellowshipped (which I loved) while I played the part of crummy hostess (which I didn't love - "oh, can I feed your kids some almost-warm casserole, in which there *might* be glass shards, but I think I got most of them out?").** I drug myself to bed about 12:30 or shortly thereafter, and Hubby made it up around 1:00 after getting some of his tools sorted out and put away. He got up before 5:00 a.m., and I was up about 6:30. This morning I feel like I usually only feel at the end of the day. Maybe worse. This will be the first Monday in months that I haven't washed the sheets, but I just can't do it. Hubby's work clothes will be the most I manage today. And I suppose I should cook.

And let me tell you more about what happened yesterday. Before the sun went down, Cousin and his Boy mowed a huge portion of my garden. I know, that sounds dire, but when I say "garden" I basically mean the fenced-in weeds, where I also have my SFG boxes and tomato plants (soon the squash and pumpkins, I hope?). Their Boy, and the boys of the other family also mowed a huge 'field' area. By "field" I mean the weeds not fenced-in. The neighbors love us, as you can imagine. In the morning's light, it looks SO NICE. I can walk through that part of the garden and maybe even be able to see what I'm tripping on! The cheet grass is there, but it's short and won't tickle my legs. It looks... tended, if a field of weeds can look so. ALSO, Cousin's new career (HVAC stuff) netted him a 1.5 ton window a/c unit which he completely refurbished and redid, and then GAVE to us. Some of the guys installed that sucker in the family room window, building a stand from extra lumber I bought cheap at Lowe's last week (Thank you Lord, again!) and some cinder blocks. Wow!

Can you believe I'm still not to the most incredible part of this story? See, Cousin is the pastor of the church we used to go to. The 'fellowship/bible study' is almost entirely made up of people who attend that church. Do you get that? We do not attend his church. We don't tithe there, or anything else. Service. Love. Sacrifice. Now, we obviously are still quite involved with many of them (we're related to a good portion, obviously), and our not attending there is not some vengeful axe to grind (hmm.. axe..). And I love, LOVE Christians living out Life across those traditional "boundaries." Where "church" isn't limited to Sunday mornings in a certain building, but that as we gather and serve, the "Church" is uplifted. This Sunday evening fellowship (and chicken slaughter/home improvement when appropriate) is the best example of that that I've seen in a long time. Maybe ever.

How do you repay that? Should you even try? A batch of cookies, organic or otherwise, is hardly sufficient. A chicken dinner probably not entirely welcome just yet. Hehe. Since I'm not exactly functional today, my gratitude is expressed in thanks to God. That HE has ordained believers to serve one another and provides people to lean on (not just in an ethereal, emotional sense) when you would NEVER even THINK of ASKING for it. And asking God to enable me to do the same for others.

**Okay, this was one of those "for after baby" meals that just didn't make it till then. One day, while retrieving something from the chest freezer in the basement, Big Sister balanced the frozen dish on the corner while she rummaged, knocking the 9x13 pyrex dish to the floor, and breaking off a good portion of the glass. I rewrapped it as-was in plastic wrap, and just put it back in the freezer. As I defrosted/chiseled the remaining casserole-dish off the frozen meal, I realized some of the *ice* crystals weren't, but decided it wasn't going to waste, either way. This was before I knew we'd have a pile of people over, and once I did know, there was no time to cook. *sigh*


Kevin and Beth said...

I was so hoping your story was going to end with a plucker happy ending. I can so relate to the nonstop problems. It was really funny to visualize you kicking dirty diapers from view. When I have a newly hatched turkey die (it happens sometimes) I just toss it on the freezer while I go about trying to feed and water 40 otherbaby turkeys all crammed together in their not big enough brooders. I usually forget about it and when someone comes to the door I have a dead turkey sitting there(the freezer is right next to the door). My husband gets mad and wants me to put it in a ziploc bag in the garbage can. Tell me, what is the difference between a dead turkey thrown in the garbage or leftovers from dinner thrown in the garbage? Do we ziploc all leftovers?, so why a little turkey. There are only about 3" big. Sorry, I ramble...I loved your story and feel your pain. I so wish we were close enough to help! Please don't give up on your plucker. It really will be worth it. And please call if you need any more help.
ps. I would have served the casserole too.

Kevin and Beth said...

Oh, another thing...have you tried killing cones? Much less gruesome and there is no flopping about. Just use the orange road construction kind. Home Depot or Lowes has them or just find some sitting along the road that no one needs anymore. Trim the end so the chickens head will stick out. Nail the cone on a on a fence post or tree, put the chicken in head first, bungie the chickens legs,find the artery on the side of the neck and make a quick cut with a really sharp knife. They bleed to death in a minute or two, most of the blood is drained into a bucket and the chicken stays really calm and so do most observers. Except me, I don't look.

EllaJac said...

Beth, thank you for your comments. We've tried killing cones, but not something sturdy and big enough like roadside cones. Cousin's HVAC shop does metal work, and I may see if he would make us some like YOUR nifty setup (we have a stainless countertop thing we set over sawhorses, but nothing permanent), but so far haven't done it. I'll check at Lowe's, though; those are much easier, at least to my sensibilities!

The dead turkey story makes me laugh. "Welcome!" it says... I think when they're that small I *do* use a ziploc and put them in the garbage. Just in case any fly eggs or other diseases want to jump out at some point, they'll be somewhat contained?

But wow - what do you do with 40 turkeys?

MamaJ said...

Can you believe that I too have been sent on a wild goose-chase for a 64" long, 1/2" wide v-belt???? I could only find a 52", had to go to another store, finally found it a Tractor Supply for about 2x as much...

Looking forward to reading the rest of this "plucky" story. Hahaha. Ok. I'll stop now.

EllaJac said...

MamaJ, that's too funny about the v-belt thing. I found ours at AutoZone.

As for my long, rambly posts; I'm making up for the days on end that I don't have anything worthwhile to write (haha, that assumes that when I write it's worthwhile???).

Rachel Le said...

You. Are. Crazy.

And I am such a lazy bum.

EllaJac said...


Yes. I. Are. Please don't emulate me. And I highly doubt you're lazy, what with all your gardening projects and earlier house-hunting efforts!