Saturday, August 26, 2006

Joel Salatin

Here it is! The narration for which so many people have such wonderful expectations; and who, having read this, will say, “That was it?!” I have now written my narration of Joel Salatin’s talks at Vision Forum’s Entrepreneurial Bootcamp, which dealt with general business principles as well as sustainable agriculture. I have chosen to limit myself to the farming part, because that is Mr. Salatin’s area of expertise and is certainly enough information for one post.

Joel Salatin (Sall’-uh-tin) is a Christian libertarian capitalist environmentalist who farms 100 open acres in Swoope, Virginia, which is located in the Shenandoah Valley. He has developed several farming models which have proved highly successful, profitable, and sustainable including Salad Bar Beef, Pastured Poultry, Pigaerator Pork, Eggmobile Eggs, and forage-based rabbits. He is now developing a Ewego to raise lambs, which then will finish their growth in a Lamborghini. His farm supports four full-time white collar salaries.

Sustainable Agriculture is a method of agriculture which builds the fertility in the soil and increases the production as time passes, both through the addition of organic material and careful husbandry. Most conventional agricultural practices today destroy the complex webs of organisms in the soil and require large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides because the soil has been killed. Thus the scientists are only one step ahead of disease and pests with their deadly chemicals (remember, the suffix -cide means death), and the plants must rely on artificial fertilizer for nutrients because there aren’t any in the soil.

The meat-raising industry today is a horror. The meat isn’t nutritious; it’s unhealthy and, in some cases, dangerous. The conditions animals are raised under won’t allow anything nutritious. Most grocery stores now have drugstores- notice a connection? Not to mention the fact that it is extremely unprofitable to build a $250,000 chicken house that returns about $10,000 a year and has to be rebuilt in 25 years- and that isn’t an imaginary situation. A short description directly from Mr. Salatin describes the conditions in a laying hen confinement house:

“I once walked into an egg layer house. Here were three tiers of cages as far as the eye could see. The cages were 14 inches by 22 inches. Inside were 8 chickens. They didn’t even have enough room to sit down. They just milled around the cages all the time. No nest. They just squatted and dropped the egg on the slanted wire mesh cage bottom and the egg rolled down onto a conveyor belt. The birds were debeaked so they wouldn’t cannibalize and most cages had at least one dead bird in some stage of decay. Finally, after the other birds walked over the carcass long enough, the decomposed carcass fell through the wire floor and went out with the manure.”

It doesn’t take much to see that something is wrong with such a model. Mr. Salatin’s models try to recreate in farming the habits of an animal, or similar animal, in the wild. It works off of the assumption that no one can do better than God, which is certainly true. With these models, a chicken can be a chicken, a cow a cow, etc.

Also, he calves in the spring, when deer are fawning, instead of trying to get an earlier start in winter when the weather is colder. The weight gain is the same in the end. He never builds silos (bankruptcy tubes) to fatten cows in winter because he fattens his calves on pasture in spring and summer, and then sells them in the fall, only keeping the breeding cows. Winter is the natural off-season for herbivores, and they don’t eat as much. Since they aren’t designed to eat much in winter they don’t gain weight very well at that time, tending to just want to maintain status quo.

By adding plenty of carbon to the manure in winter or in composting, and by moving the animals across the ground in the warmer months ammonia is prevented from vaporizing, which simply means that it doesn’t smell bad. The result is an aromatically pleasing farm. Have you ever smelled the sweet aroma of compost? If something smells bad, something is being done wrong.

Most of the profitability from a farm like this is from direct marketing. By selling retail you can control your own prices. Wholesale prices for farm produce vary widely at different times, but retail prices are comparatively steady. By selling retail at honest prices, you can avoid price swings (except for inflation, but that isn’t really a problem here, and it’s a long story anyway.)

Pasturing chickens allows them to move daily off of the soiled patch of the day before onto a clean, fresh “salad bar”. This keeps parasites and disease away. Portable pens allow a confined area on which they can graze, get water, and feed (chickens can only get 35% of their diet on grass). The result is a chicken high in Omega fatty acids and vitamins, and low in saturated fat, that tastes better than anything bought at the local supermarket.

The rabbit, pig, and lamb are all raised in a healthy way as well. Rabbits are fed plenty of forage, pigs are rotated every 20 or 30 days to a new area, and lambs are pastured. All of this operates on grass and, in the case of pigs, other natural vegetation. That’s why there is a magazine called The Stockman Grass Farmer- it’s simply a profitable, healthy way to do things.

This method of farming is also family friendly. Children can be integrated into all of the operations. There aren’t any dangerous chemicals or equipment (when used reasonably). A child could eat the compost, in reasonable amounts, and it wouldn’t hurt him. When a farm is developed, along with its direct-market clientele, later generations can continue with it and build it up to higher productivity than their parents and grandparents ever achieved.

A farm following these models is profitable, family-friendly, aesthetically and aromatically pleasing, a beautiful example of working in symbiosis with Creation, and it’s fun. That about sums it all up.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Alamo

Below is a narration on the battle of the Alamo by Smokestack. We hope you enjoy it!

Texans were rebelling against Santa Anna, the president of Mexico. Houston sent Colonel Travis to hold Santa Anna back long enough for him to gather an army. Travis had 100 hundred men, many different states, with him. Many were from different countries in Europe.

The Alamo is in San Antonio Texas, and is the place that Travis stationed his men. They worked and made the old Spanish mission into a fort. They constructed walls and placed batteries of cannon. They also gathered weapons, filled the powder rooms, stored food......and waited.

One day it was reported that Santa Anna's army was seen marching towards the Alamo. Travis sent men to their posts, but Santa Anna did not attack. The next few days were spent at their posts, until , at last, the Mexicans attacked. The courage of the Texans, however, was too strong for the Mexicans, and they forced them to retreat.

Jim Bowie was shot, and could not walk, so he lay in his bed for the remainder of the battle. Davy Crockett was guarding a long wall that his men had built. They were the best men fighting at the Alamo. Travis sent out messengers asking aid, but none could arrive in time.

Then, Santa Anna ordered "Charge and capture, no matter how many be the losses." [Ed. Note: Those aren't his exact words. He spoke Spanish.] The whole Mexican army attacked the Alamo. Travis was brave, and was one of the first to die. Though they knew it must come, death had no hold on them. Davy Crockett, the famous King of the Frontier, lay dead with 11 dead Mexicans around him. Bowie was found dead in his infirmary bed, and had resisted to the last, having killed the men who first tried to kill him in his bed. The bodies of the men who died at the Alamo were burned.

Later, Houston crushed "Santy Anny", as he was called, going into battle with the cry "Remember the Alamo!". Thus, the massacre at the Alamo was revenged.



I'm flattered that my posts are so well appreciated. Before I begin this one, however, please let me remind you that I don't have a spirit of "I am (nearly) sixteen! I am the fount of all wisdom- hear me speak!" My father could tell these things infinitely better, but he must work and go to meetings and such while I, after I have finished school, have some spare time to sit around and blog.

My previous posts have talked about wealth some and how it can build inside a family that lives so as to benefit the next generation. Now I intend to go a little deeper lest you think that I'm a heartless diehard capitalist that wants to squeeze every penny he can get out of the business deals he makes. I hope there aren't many such misers.

At the Bootcamp, Mr. Phillips discussed how many modern Christians believe that to be poor is to be holy. This is an illusion that is easily countered by reading scripture. Deuteronomy 6 and 7 are good chapters in dealing with this. Those that serve God with their lives will be blessed. They'll have problems and failures, sure, but God blesses those that seek his glory.

There are only a certain amount of resources in the world. Other than mining gold and silver, wealth cannot really be created. Money can be earned, but you can't print a billion dollar bills and be rich- it must be backed by gold or it will simply cause inflation. Therefore, wealth must be earned that already exists (unless, again, you mine gold, but most people don't do that).

If the Christian community shuns wealth and chooses to live in poverty in order to be holy, who else will get the resources? The world will! If the secular communtiy controls the resources, they'll simply use it to do what they are doing with it now- they'll make Godless movies, back Godless politicians and use it for worldly things in general. If the Christians control those resources (particularly Christians with a vision), then they will be used to glorify God and impact the culture in a Godly way.

Therefore, since it is God who gives resources to control, it is not wrong for us to seek wealth. It isn't money that is the root of all evil. Money is morally neutral; it is the love of that money that is evil. The purpose of seeking the wealth is to live debt-free and to allow later generations to live debt-free. Being out from under the bondage of debt creates more freedom. The borrower is the servant of the lender.

Scripture says that it is hard for a rich man to get to heaven, but the Bible does not say that it is hard for a man going to heaven to get rich. Of course greed is a sin and wealth can be a temptation that produces greed. I refer to resources gained which will be used to glorify God, not to please selfish love of lucre. Samuel's sons fell into this sin, and it's a sad story in 1 Samuel 8.

If the Lord should see fit to bless me with wealth, I wouldn't consider myself a sinner-that's absolutely ridiculous! Isn't it neat how just about any subject can be traced back to the issue of God's sovereignty? However, if I sought that wealth for love of gain, I'm sinning- just like Samuel's sons. It's a matter of why I seek it- for God's glory or my gain- and then if God blesses me with that wealth, how I use it.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Application of a Vision

Since my last post told the importance of having a vision and the blessings which it brings, this time I will get a little more personal and talk a little about my vision up until the time that I marry. I hope that this will serve three purposes:

1) It will allow me to collect my own thoughts further,
2) It may help others understand more about the subject, and
3) When I tell some of these things to my extended family, I can print this and give it to them as explanation after we've helped them off the floor and unhooked the defibrillator.

So, here it goes. The path I have chosen to take is very unfrequented among young men. VERY unfrequented- I could probably walk the whole way without meeting anyone on the same route. This is because I, first, don't plan on going to college and second, I plan to farm (more on that later.)

College is certainly thought of extremely highly nowdays. I've discussed with my parents how people will either think that I'm dumb or that I'm wasting my intelligence (wouldn't that be a flattering opinion?). However, I think the wisest way to think about college is how we think of most things. If it looks like it will be beneficial, then invest in it; but it is a waste of alot of time and money to go to college simply to "go with the flow" if it doesn't seem to be beneficial. Therefore, I have decided to invest the time and money in building a business and beginning a family instead of going to college.

The way my credits fall out, I will finish everything except for history and literature in 11th grade. That pretty much means that I'll finish everything in 11th grade because I'll be doing history and literature my entire life. You've heard the story about Mr. Phillips' father sending him hundreds of pages of material to read every day? It'll be nearly the same with me. Leaders must be readers!

Anyway, that last year will be spent in studying things that will benefit my business endeavors for my entire life- from soil science to business math, or whatever else seems profitable. That should give my business a great boost so that I'm earning a good income to allow me to marry a few years before the median age. This is part of my vision. I'll be able to raise many children to glorify God and impact the culture.

If you didn't already know, you now know that I intend to farm. However, I don't intend to be a farmer. I will be an entrepreneur. If it's God's will for me to become a billionaire through my business endeavors outside farming, that's fine with me; but, Deus volentem, I will still farm.

It's more than wanting to make money. Using Joel Salatin's methods I think that you really could become rich farming; however, I want to farm to produce clean, healthy food in a family friendly, environmentally friendly way. The truth is that I love animals, I love the countryside, and I believe that an office of lush grass and tall oaks, rolling hills and streams is better than any other I know of. Let me know if you've found a better.

Another reason I choose to farm is that it is very family friendly. What better place to be raised than a farm like I envision? I know it will take alot of hard work and sacrifice, but I believe it's worth it to be home with my wife and children 24/7, and to breath clean air and eat clean food. As I age the farm can be passed over to one of my sons- or more than one, who knows what the Lord has in store?

In all this I am not referring to the traditional modern farm of fecal-particulate factory confinement houses or dangerous manure lagoons. Read Joel Salatin's books if you really want to see what I see. I hope to be a part of breaking the D-student, tobacco spittin', trip over the transmission in the front yard farmer stereotype. I enjoy art and classical music very much. In short, I think the farmer stereotype alienates city people and country folks. I'd love to play piano while a cow is contentedly chewing her cud not far outside the window. Most people would think the phrase "cultured farmer" is an oxymoron.

Well, there it is. I've spilled it out, and it's really helped me see how my plan looks on paper (well, a computer screen, anyway). I hope that seeing how I have, with much help from my parents, taken the principles of multi-generational vision and applied them to my immediate future will help you to see more of the big picture.

Of course, all of this planning must be subject to the fact that it may not be God's will. Man proposes, God disposes; if the things in my plan are not his will, I don't want them. There is certainly much to learn still. I know an infinitesimal amount compared to all I need to know, but I'm learning more every day.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Eternal Blessings from a Vision

After reading my father's essay on the purpose of a vision, I thought that I should add my comments- after all, I'm part of the second generation. I am extremely grateful to the Lord for blessing me with parents who see the value of a vision and have passed their insight to me. I believe that a vision is an extremely important part of a Christian family.

At the Bootcamp, Mr. Botkin talked further of his 200-year plan. He made several points of how the plan is beneficial- which I think the following summarizes: The 200-year plan guides the patriarch in making decisions in raising his children, allows later generations to see their place in the plan and to work further towards its goals, and allows several generations of Christians to impact the culture by cooperating in effort over centuries.

A vision also allows a family to better equip their children to impact the culture, and allows them to better equip their children, ad infinitum ( that is, until Christ returns.) Thus, the resources in that family grow, and are used in God-honoring ways. Please don't think I'm endorsing wealth for wealth's sake alone- the goal is to glorify God, and to impact the culture for Christ, with the resources God has given for your family to control.

My Dad made an important point recently. We were talking about Matthew 6:33. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." He said that you don't seek the kingdom of God so that all these things shall be added to you- then you're merely seeking the things. You must seek God's glory first, and God will bless you.

When one generation lives below their means to equip the next generation, and then that generation does the same, I think God will bless that family- if they are doing this for his glory. My own father has a vision for which he is willing to sacrifice, and I am willing to do the same for my children. When my father makes that sacrifice, I certainly think that he should deserve that I care for him in his old age, instead of sending him to a nursing home- and I will. I hope my children do so for me.

I'm certainly still learning alot about the importance of having a vision, and the rewards of it. In this post I have simply quoted the wisdom of men whom I greatly respect. I hope someday to have a better understanding of these things, and learning important things such as this is definitely a part of my vision!


Guess Who?

Here is a picture of Sherlock getting his book signed by someone he greatly admires. Can you guess who? Hint- He is supposed to be working on a narration of this man's talk, right Sherlock? ~Stonewall's Esposa

A Multi-Generational Vision

I am not a good narrator and have so many thoughts in my mind to try to flesh out to words that it gets frustrating at times, not to mention my grammar and spelling shortcomings, so I appologize to all english teachers and the ones that tried so hard to "learn" me english. I am working on this but it's not easy after my public school education and an inherited southern country sentence structure. So you homeschoolers take this as evidence, your studies in english and grammar are important.
I do want to share an insight that I gained from the men at the EB (entrepreneurial bootcamp). I have been focused on a multi-generational vision for several years, or so I thought, but these men by God's grace really brought a lot of the puzzle pieces together for me. I've shared this with my family and we will be working toward accomplishing this vision that is God centered and is the pattern found in scripture. The most direct and wonderful passage of scripture that deals with this is Deuteronomy chapter 6 and 7. These chapters show many things about how God expects His people to act, how he is set to bless them beyond measure, and how those that oppose him will be destroyed. It is abundantly clear that a multi-generational vision is the vision God desires for His chosen people. We are to diligently teach our children and grandchildren who God is, what God has done, and what God requires. (This is RC Sproul Jr's 3G's.) Notice the clear contrast between the chosen and the pagan nations. (Also notice WHY God chose them in Chapter 6.) Notice the abundance of blessing for His chosen, "blessed above all peoples", this is a God given dominion and the success is only the result of obedience to God. Our Savior taught us this same concept, "Seek ye first the kingom of God..." We're not destined to be the poor and destitute, just to be seen as having to rely on God for a crumb here and there. He is the provider of all things for those who love him and obey his commands, he will richly bless with abundance... WAIT a minute let's not get into a health and wealth preachy sermon here, remember, God's blessing is only to those who truly love him with all their heart, soul and strength. Do you? Is His glory your goal? Another quote from RC "if your goals aren't the Bible's goals you won't succeed".
Ok, but what about the vision? For one, I must sacrifice my comforts for the next generation, so they can be free from the bondage of debt, free from the wage slave mentality, free to do God's will and work in their generation. So then what about the young men and little lady God has entrusted to me? They must be ready to take this vision to their kids and sacrifice for their generation also, to continue being God's instruments, to love Him, obey Him, and if there is a child down the line that decides he doesn't believe this vision, who rejects God and His commands, then I think it's clear, he get's no help from the family financially to go off on his own. If the family legacy is one founded upon God's glory and exalting the name of Jesus Christ and you reject this, then you are choosing your own path apart from the family. This needs to be taught to all children, obedience is required, not an option. You are either for God 100% or against God. A family that is focused on the glory of God will strive to use the resources God has provided to further glorify God, not fund unrighteous activity. So young men and women, how does this affect your future? At an early age you must think about how you are going to provide for your wife or support your husband, support your children, how to be free of debt, how to continue the vision of dominion for the glory of God. Study the Bible, pray and as Mr. Pent would say "work, work, work". It's much better to start now than when your older and having to rearrange things and catchup.
I must act upon these ideals if the multi-generational vision is to be cast in my family. I need goals, milestones, and plans to make my family situation one that glorifies God. Always with great anticipation of the plans that God has for us. Striving always to be an example of His grace, mercy, and blessing while living a life that points to His glory and when asked about why I live the way I do, always ready to share with those who need to know of the savior and about how He has redeemed me and brought me into the eternal family.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Missing Comments: Found!

Stonewall and Sherlock created this blog late one night, two days before we left for Texas. Their goal was to get the blog up and running before we left -- just the basics, so that we could journal our trip. They didn't have all the "kinks" worked out (and still haven't), but Sherlock did just figure out how to get to the comments that were sent during our trip. He has now posted them to the blog. Yeah!! We so much enjoyed reading them and wish we could have read and answered them while we were gone. However, we are glad to get to read them now and plan on answering the ones requesting narrations --Sherlock's narration on Joel Salatin is in the works, so stay tuned. Blogging on a trip was an interesting experience. Not only was it neat to think that our friends and family could keep up with us (if they so desired), but it was a great family journal for me to print and put in our scrapbook. You know, technology has its benefits! (Speaking of technology, Isaac Botkin had a great discussion on technologythat Smokestack enjoyed) Of course, it was hard to keep up with blogging since it was such a BUSY vacation. So, as a type of "field trip" report, we will be blogging over the next week, or so, our narrations, ideas, thoughts, etc. of what we learned from the places we saw and especially the conference. I think this will continue our great educational experience and fit right in with our "official" school starting Monday, Lord willing. ~Stonewall's Esposa

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Five Sardines in a Can: Day Eleven

After heading out Monday morning from "The Hitchin’ Post", we continued our trip back home until we came to Vicksburg, Mississippi. You probably know that this was an important place during the War of Northern Aggression, as it controlled a long stretch of the Mississippi river.

Led by General Grant, the Federals besieged the town known as the “American Gibraltar” because of its highly defensible position. A long fight ensued between Grant and General Pembrandt, the Confederate General at Vicksburg. The Confederates were reduced to eating mule meat and pea-bread- a delicacy composed of pea mash and corn meal, as hard as a rock on the outside and mushy on the inside. Vicksburg finally had to surrender on July 3rd, 1863, as it had received no help.

The Illinois Monument
We toured the entire battlefield, which is a national park, listening to a CD tour. There was a monument to every state which had soldiers fight in the battle, which includes Alabama. Illinois had the most impressive monument in the Park, a large building modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. If you stomped in this building it sounded like a cannon. (More Pictures will be posted later.)

We left Vicksburg later than expected and arrived safely at home without incident around 11:00. We thank all of you who were praying for us during our trip, and we can’t wait to talk!

Five Sardines in a Can: Day Ten --"On the road again"

Now we will play Catch-Up... After the church service, which was a great time of worship through hymns and preaching of the word, we said good bye to the conference and San Antonio. We decided to take a different route home. We went north through Austin--the capitol of Texas. Then on through Waco, Dallas and made it to an RV park about 30 miles from the Louisian border about 11:00 that night. Not much excitement, but we enjoyed seeing more landscape and cities of Texas. Here are a few more pictures of our day:

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday in San Antonio

We are shortly headed to the Sunday service at the convention center, meeting with the Boerne Christian Assembly (Doug Phillips fellowship) here and with several of the speakers. Scott Brown is preaching this morning, so we are looking forward to hearing the sermon. We've had a great time listening and learning from Mr. Pent, Joel Salatin, Doug, Scott, Mr. Botkin, and several other speakers. We've got a lot to take home and think about and implement as the Lord leads. It's exciting to hear from all the people that have a Christ centered world view and love to take dominion for His glory.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bootcamp: Day 2

Yesterday was our first full day of entrepreneurial bootcamp. It lasted from 8:30 in the morning and was over around 9:15 last night. Although it was a long day, there really is not enough time in a day to learn all these new principles. We are all saying we could spend months and even years with some of these men and just soak up their wisdom.

We have enjoyed all the speakers we have heard so far. These men know business, but most importantly, they know scripture and how to apply it to entrepreneurialship. We have to hurry off now for another full day. Sherlock is excited about getting to hear Joel Salatin today!!

~Stonewall's Esposa

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bootcamp: Day 1

Well, the conference /bootcamp went really well tonight. If tonight is any indication, it should be a very educational, uplifting, God glorifying, convicting and challenging (to our thinking) few days. Doug Phillips did an extrordinary job giving the "big picture" talk of entrepreneurship and its relation to scripture and the Christian family. As in other areas, Christians have either given over their thinking to the world's ways or to the other extreme, having adapted beliefs of trying to be so seperate from the world's ways that they have just given their dominion mandate away, which is just as unscriptural. Our job is "Sola Scriptura" (turning to scripture, not the world) in discerning these truths. As we turn to God in all our thinking and realize we are just stewards of what he chooses to give us, only then will we be able to fulfill the callings he has for us. Oh, so much to learn...... We are constantly having to reprogram our minds with truth---God's truth! There was so much more than this tonight, but we will just have to loan you the cds because it was too much to describe. We'll have a full set from the conference to share. It lasted a couple of hours, but only brushed the surface on issues that could take weeks!

This is the Tower of the Americas. It is located in Hemisphere Park right next to the Gonzales Convention Center. It can be seen from all over the city and is beautiful at night.

Below, is the convention center.

Oh, and Mr Botkin is doing the 21 characteristics of the 21st century leader again. Maybe he will be able to get to the points more in depth this time.?.

Bootcamp begins tonight!!

Well, we are on our way to the Vision Forum's Entrepreneurial Bootcamp this afternoon. We will register and browse through the vendor hall, hopefully catching up with some friends and making new! There will be one talk tonight by Doug Phillips, which I am sure will be very inspiring and make us anticipate all the speakers to come! We will be having late nights and early mornings, but we will try to blog as we can.

~Stonewall's Esposa

Five Sardines in a Can: Day Six

We're a little behind on our blogging. Yesterday was day six of our trip. First we went to Central Market, a supermarket, to buy a few things. Instead of being a quick, uninteresting shopping trip, it was more like a sightseeing Tour De Food. This Market had more food in it than I could eat in ten years. There were hundreds of types of cheese in all shapes and sizes, even a chunk of Parmesan that I would have trouble lifting myself. The bakery was filled with breads, bagels, cookies, danishes, and cakes. There were organic fruits and vegetables, organic bread, organic flour- just about organic everything. They had a section full of hot prepared foods, and you could smell it anywhere in the store. Their meat section had more types of cuts and meat than I knew existed. It was an amazing experience.

After shopping, we went to a nearby park and ate lunch. We saw some pretty doves and ducks here. One duck was sitting on a nest of eggs, and we managed to get her picture.

After lunch we went to Mission San Jose, an old Spanish mission from the early 1700's. The Spanish used these to expand their empire in New Spain, and to help hold the territory that they gained. The Franciscans who lived in the missions converted the native Indians to Catholicism. The Indians also helped construct the missions, which are beautiful examples of architecture. The Alamo was a mission along with a chain of four others, the best preserved of which is San Jose.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Five Sardines in a Can: Day Five

Yesterday was day five of our trip- it's already halfway over! We called yesterday our Mexican culture day, because we spent most of it in the Mexican Market Square. This is an indoor/outdoor market with vendors selling sombreros, cowboy hats, T-shirts, and an enormous variety of other products. The atmosphere is very bright and colorful, and the mariachi music completed the Mexican feel. Stonewall said that the shops were just like those in Mexico.

We ate lunch at Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery. They have absolutely wonderful enchiladas. It had the Mexican brightness and color just as the market did. After eating, we made our purchases and went to the San Fernando cathedral.

The San Fernando Cathedral is a working cathedral with an enormous, elaborate sanctuary, bookstore, and cafe. Just inside the far left door in the picture is Davy Crockett's grave. This isn't actually the grave of Crockett in particular. After the battle of the Alamo, all of the dead were burned. Someone took remains from this funeral pyre and buried them under the altar of the Cathedral. Therefore, we don't know exactly whose tomb it is, but it's dedicated to all of the heroes of the Alamo.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

God's Glorious Canvas.

There are several observations that I have made since the start of our trip.
1. God has created a beautiful world and within that world has created such variety that we could never tire of looking at it. Pictures can never do it justice but here's a view to try anyway.

This is the sunset over the rolling hills near Uvalde (east of San Antone)

2. Families that travel together and get along (most of the time) make an impression on people. Before leaving many asked if we were taking our kids all the way out there in the same car, together?, "boy your brave" they would joke. You know this is what God has rewarded us with. Children. The actors in the gunfight was very friendly and eager to talk with us. One of the older guys seemed always ready to talk with us and shake hands and get a five or two from little H. When we told him we were a homeschool family he was so approving and commended us for taking on the task. Many comments from the folks about our beautiful family. Here's a shot with us taking a stroll down mainstreet.

3. People out here in open country like talking with people and taking time to get to know you. For one, Smokestack was wearing a t-shirt from the horse ministries show we saw in Cullman. A guy from Louisiana and his son was among about 6 or 7 families at Alamo village and he lived nextdoor to the guy that was the horse whisperer in the show. Amazing. We met a WWII veteran. Mrs. W got in a conversation with a lady about how the government is too controlling over children and taking the responsibilities away from families (she was on the receiving end of this for a change too!) The actors in the show was talking with us and giving us suggestions for getting to see the Rio Grande. It was just fun to talk with people who liked talking with you.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Five Sardines in a Can: Day 4

We left the campsite this morning and headed West to Alamo Village, the Alamo replica and Old West town that John Wayne constructed for his film "The Alamo". It was a long ride, but definitely worth it. When we began to get out of civilization, the countryside took on a real Texas look, like you'd imagine it- complete with cacti, deer, vultures, and jackrabbits. We drove by ranch after ranch for miles without seeing any sign of civilization but fences.

Alamo Village was a really neat place. It had everything that an Old West town should- a jail, marshall's office, bank, hotel and more. Every couple of hours three talented actors would put on a hilarious gunfight skit. We spent most of the day walking around looking at all the buildings here, as well as the beautiful view. We saw several jackrabbits. Smokestack tried chasing one (which he at first mistaked for a kangaroo), but it was slightly too fast for him. He named it Jumpin' Jack.
The Rio Grande and Mexico

After leaving the Village, we drove a little farther and saw the Rio Grande and looked across it to Mexico. Then we headed back to the camper through 120 more miles of ranch land. A beautiful sunset and an enormous rainbow provided a perfect closing for the day.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Five Sardines in a Can: Day Three.

Today we took a trip to downtown San Antonio to see the Alamo and the Riverwalk area. Here are a few pics for you.

Home away from home and a view of the Alamo.

Riverwalk view.

We took time to walk around the downtown area. The Alamo was good, it had a few more buildings on the grounds that were neat to learn about. While looking at a model of the battle of the Alamo with H, with the huge numbers of the "bad guys" as H would say and only a few inside the Alamo, she stated out of the blue"you know what I learned, God willed that some would die." Interesting to hear what they're learning that we don't realize. We saw an open air preacher too. That was neat. Thanks to all for your prayers so far, We're having a great time and hope your sabbath day went well.

Five Sardines in a Can: Day Two

We arrived safe in San Antonio last night at 11:30. Due to some technical difficulties with our wireless connection, we couldn't blog anything until now. We had a little adventure on the way, right as we were passing out of Houston. The hydraulic jack on the front of the Airstream dropped down and hit the road every time we went over a bump, and before we could stop on the narrow shoulder ( sandwiched between a concrete wall and the 70-mile per hour traffic) the jack had bent backwards about 20 degrees. Stonewall got out and tried hammering it straight so he could roll it back up into its housing, but only succeeded in flattening the pipe. So he turned it around and said that any more bumps would hopefully straighten it.

The problem with that is that once you leave Houston there are no dips on the Interstate. It's as flat as a pancake and straight as an arrow. If you tied the steering wheel in place and pressed coast, you probably wouldn't have a problem for miles. Anyway, we ended up searching around for a bump. When we found it, I exited the vehicle and guided Stonewall as he rammed the ground with our crooked pipe. No results- it's still crooked. We thank all of you who were praying for us during our predicament.

Everything is big in Texas. Even grasshoppers. This little guy was three inches long. We found him right across the Lousiana border, in Orange, Texas. The star of Texas (and our little star) both shined in Texas yesterday.
I have to stop writing now or the rest of the family will leave for the Alamo without me.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Five Sardines in a Can: Day One

A journey of epic proprtions, spanning 1800 miles and four states. Over mountains and rivers, through lush valleys, across dangerous marshes and dry desert plains. A family of five leaves their possessions (most of them) behind and heads west to Texas in... a 1974 Airstream? Stonewall and Sherlock present "Five Sardines in a Can".
Our trip has gone well so far. We arrived in Hattiesburg, Mississippi at 11 o'clock last night. We learned two things about Hattiesburg :
1) It is a happening place. It's normal for all of the motels to be booked.
2) Dandy Dan owns most of the gas stations.
We're about to leave for San Antonio, and will post another blog this evening with pictures. Right now the camera accessories are packed in the camper.
~ Sherlock

Friday, August 04, 2006

If it ain't Broke...

D-day minus one.
The huge "baked potato", as called by some of the neighborhood kids who were drawn to it like a bug to a bug zapper last night, that is parked in our driveway was the focus of my efforts in preparation for our trip to San Antonio. A vintage 1974 Airstream International travel trailer! The real deal, original electrical, plumbing and all! After replacing a FEW lights, addressing a FEW water leaks and a FEW issues with the electrical system I decided that this was going to be a very interesting trip to blog. The 30 year old valves in the water system aren't what they used to be, and the fuse block and central control panel looks like the reject parts from Apollo 8. I started the evening in good spirits and ended it at 2:30am kinda delerious. Wal-mart at 12:30am is no place for a person to be. I went through the checkout line with various plumbing and electrical tapes, putties, seal, gaskets, wires, screws, washers, got strange looks from the register clerk and I was thinking I bet I have a friend that's got all of these things in his garage. In any case, what was this for?? Let me tell you. After fixing all the leaks (and being the engineer I am) I was told the bathtub didn't work, BUT they did not tell me WHY, OK. So of course I just go over and turn the knob slightly.. very slightly.. and there was water coming out of the spout, sorta, not a good flow, something was wrong but I can probably fix...whooosh...then the valve that the knob was attached to come shooting out of the pipe and water was spraying everywhere, just so happened that my son "smokestack" (as he's decided to be called) was there and rushed to turn the water off as I was being drowned in my attempt to push the valve back into the pipe against the water pressure with one hand while trying to open the sink faucet (which was the the one leak free plumbing device) beside me with my other elbow to relieve pressure. We did manage to get the water off and I very quickly engineered a fix by tying wire over the valve so it can't fly out. So far it looks to be not working just fine.. So, it is indeed broke and I'm not going to fix it even though it goes against all engineering thought processes. Oh and the electrical.. I have to remove the battery and charge it from my truck if were going to use it, it doesn't want to charge in the trailer as it's supposed to, luckily the 120v electrical system works fine which controls air and plug ins. The fridge - it will not work and I don't have a clue why. Looks like we'll be taking the coolers. I did manage to light the 30 year old gas stove (brave huh). It works fine. Oh the toilet, it works, just make sure you know where that little hand held wash hose is before stepping on that pedal under the seat, because if you don't you might get sprayed right in the face.. What fun! Lord PLEASE watch over us on this trip!
Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to be able to use the "Airscream" (air is the key) and I eagerly look forward to the trip. I'm ready to spend some time together with my loving wife and the children God has blessed me with. I'll work on pics for you the next chance I get. I've been a little tied up so far.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Welcome to the blogspot of 5 pilgrims in a tin can headed for Texas.