Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dilaudid Dreams-Part One

Okay, I know everyone is waiting with baited breath for the whole rundown on the surgery and my recovery so far but while in the hospital I was on a Dilaudid drip which actually caused hallucinations.  I saw scampering little kitties everywhere, big jovial, multi-colored rats and happy polar bears made of bed linens.  That hospital had a regular infestation of capering, playful animals!  So while the hallucinations weren’t actually threatening in any way I was a little worried about taking Dilaudid in pill form when I came home and wanted to relate to my children in some semblance of normality.  The pain finally got to me and no hallucinations but I have the most delightful (and some not so delightful) dreams to relate.  Just some cute stuff to help brighten my otherwise rather dim days wrapped in what is often unbearable pain.

So, dream number One:  The Chicken Ghost Whisperer.

Mrs. Alvin’s only son, Dean, has just died in a horrific tractor accident.  There’s some question as to whether it was truly an accident or if the newly found deposits of GOLD under the Alvin family farm may have had something to do with this tragedy.  Surely a case for Scooby Doo? 

A day or so later I’m feeding and watering my chickens.  As always, I talk to them and they murmur their various woes and worries of the day (chickens are very burdened by the pressures of everyday life).  The queen of my flock is a brightly plumed Easter Egg chicken named Lillianne and she is particularly upset this day.  She seems reluctant to impart any information about the cause for her distress and it finally comes to light that she thinks I’m going to think she’s crazy if she tells me the truth.  Reminding her that we are communicating at all is enough to be considered crazy opens the spout and she relates the whole story.  It seems that young Dean Alvin has paid her a visit.  He is melancholy about his precipitous demise and wants to talk to his mother just one more time.  

Why surely this can only be a mission of mercy for this poor family?  We must depart forthwith to bring this grieving mother some closure and send this sad, young man onto his heavenly reward.  We jump into the old farm truck.  I assume Dean is in the back seat as Lillianne is going on about her bout of egg bound and I’ve already heard this story.

When we arrive at Mrs. Dean’s house we quickly find that the woman does not share the rapture with which most people greet the idea of having a chicken in the house so we reserve our conversation to the patio table.  Mrs. Dean is less than accepting of our tale at first as we begin to see little clues like a meat cleaver and stew pot but finally Dean relays through Lillianne, who relays through me that Dean was once caught by his mother in a compromising position involving a magazine called Cupcake Lovers and an actual cupcake.  The mother is stricken that she’s given us such a hard time and hands back the feathers she’s already plucked from Lillianne.  Dean goes on to say through his relay system that if they search the accident scene they will find buried under the detritus that same magazine and the remains of another cupcake.  Yet again, a young life wasted by an inappropriate desire for dessert.

Dean’s now unburdened soul begins to ascend and his mother, who suddenly realizes that life without Dean will be somewhat simpler sheds a final tear.  I look over to find that Lillianne is also moved by the help she has given these humans and that in turn, makes me shed a tear.  Chickens are after all, very burdened creatures.  It’s nice to appreciate their talents once in awhile.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I had a dream last night

I dreamed last night that I found myself at the edge of an open field of gently blowing grasses. I don’t know how I got there. Was I handed down from an elegant coach and four by a footman or maybe deposited unceremoniously by a dark ferryman who rowed my across a still, black stream? I don’t know. I sense sorrow behind me but I’m eager to step into the meadow and I know that those who call my name will join me soon.

The field is circled by a thick forest of trees and the smell of the heavy fruit is sensual. I can discern the light touch of pears on the breeze from the cloyingly sweet peaches and figs and the scent of apples overwhelm me.

I do not look behind me but bound into the grass with a lightness of foot that I’ve not known for sometimes. I can feel the blood singing in my veins and my muscles flexing with vigor and I move forward quickly.

Now I see a small cabin and is that a lake ahead? Yes, the smell of fish and water greet me and now the scene is suddenly familiar but before I can go any further I hear a snort off to one side. The big bay mare with the dish face and quiet eyes stands next to the round little gray spotted pony. The come to me eagerly knowing I have treats and hugs for them. They’re my old friends from my youth and sure enough, there are apples in my pockets just for them. Suddenly an excited bark and there’s Ollie dog jumping above the grass. I hear other dogs as well but cannot see them yet. I run to Ollie and she jumps into my arms. Is anything as welcome as a kiss from a favorite dog? There’s a biscuit in my pocket just for my beloved girl and she performs trick after trick for that little treat.

I know now where I am and who waits for me at the cabin so we all run toward the little lake. There are steps leading up to the side of the small, old log cabin and a roughly hewn porch is perfect for propping up tired feet at the end of a day. I see a couple of rockers on that cozy porch with a table that bears a dewy pitcher of lemonade made with sliced lemons and ice. Two glasses are ready for the beverage and I know it will taste just as I remembered from long ago. I look into a window and see a warm, inviting kitchen. The inside of the house looks very small but somehow I know that the cabin is big enough for everyone I’ve ever loved. I sit down in one of the rockers and cast my line with the conveniently placed fishing pole. I’ll sit here a little bit and wait for her before I pour the lemonade.

Getting Ready

Just for you Dani-this one’s in Comic Sans.

So the preparations have begun for me to be gone for my surgery.  I’ve cooked a couple of turkeys and some extra stuffing to put in the freezer for meals.  Today I went to the store and stocked up on JUNK food to feed my children while I’m indisposed.  I was actually embarrassed to check out with a whole cart full of TV dinners, cardboard pizzas, and Hamburger Helper.  I felt compelled to tell the checker that it was all for my husband to feed the kids while I was in the hospital.  Of course I got immediate sympathy for my plight and promises to pray for the poor Mommy of eight who will be in the hospital for Christmas. 

I think next week I’ll bake up a few cookies and candies for Christmas.  I’ve got to be cooking to put stuff in the freezer anyway so I may as well bake too.  Baking always makes me feel creative in ways that a big stockpot of spaghetti sauce just can’t.  We’re prepping for me to be out of commission for three weeks and hoping that it’ll only be two but I’ll actually have enough put away that should last everyone for four weeks with liberal use of eggs and sandwiches for supper.

I’m going to do a special little ritual this week to give me strength and help with my healing.  I need to send out a little ripple of energy to calm my nerves as I find myself getting very jumpy and snappy.  Greg as always, is my rock and makes me smile even when I want to wallow in this ……whatever it is.

Scarlett made me smile this morning.  I watched her pick on both the mares trying to get them to play.  She was jumping on them and running around in circles nipping at them.  Finally Fiona took off at an easy canter.  Scarlett, overjoyed at this response slipped into a simply elegant lope punctuated by delirious jumps and bucks.  Even with Fiona’s longer stride Scarlett could run circles around her and then Dixie got into the act with a full out gallop and twisting bucks that would have made a rodeo horse proud.  Such beauty I live with everyday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The first surgery blog

Let's just start at the beginning shall we? Back in 1993 I had the old stomach stapling procedure for weight loss. As we know now, many years later that surgery had some big problems and as time goes by my stomach and entire digestive system has really gone to hell so I consulted a couple of doctors who said the only real solution was to revise the original surgery with the newer one.
So, here we are scheduled for surgery on December 21st. Since it's a revision and I have some pretty dramatic issues to resolve inside the surgery is going to be a little tricky and my recovery may be lengthy. They're not sure if I'll be home by Christmas or not so we're having our little Yule celebration on the 20th.
I find myself a little depressed over the whole thing. I'm worried about the many complications as it's unlikely that I won't experience at least one. I'm worried about the pain afterwards as I hate taking pain medication. I worry about the aftermath when I lose weight and start carrying around little flaps of skin and my wrinkles become more evident. I worry about paragraphs where every sentence begins with "I".
So, as this thing progresses I will try to update my progress through the surgery, the weight loss and how it applies to my little farm world.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The "It Needs A Rest" Theory

I am a long time subscriber to the theory that everything and everyone needs a rest at some time or another. This is logical to me. We all tucker out and take a nap or sleep at night. Animals take cat naps regardless of their particular species. Even the Earth rests during the winter or drought. So I know that mechanical objects, being made by man who sometimes tires from materials of the Earth which sometimes hibernates, must also need to take a wee break on occasion.
This theory has seen me through countless mechanical failures. Long ago my car was having some trouble shifting. Ever mindful of the theory I added some transmission fluid, in case she needed a drink of something pink and let her rest over the weekend-forgoing my usual date. Sure enough, on Monday morning there was no trouble at all and the car worked perfectly. Later, the entire rear end of the car actually fell off the car on the busiest street in Cedar Rapids but I'm sure the two incidents are not related.
Any time I'm using a mixer to mix up an octuple batch of cookie dough, if the mixer starts to falter (and it always does) I adhere to the theory and give it a rest. I mix the dough with my hands until they too need a rest and then I decide that the mixer has rested long enough. I do tend to go through a mixer every year but again, I'm sure that has nothing whatsoever to do with me, it's the mixer manufacturers making everything shoddily so that we have to buy again and again, right?
Even relationships sometimes just need a little rest but since my husband is an avid reader of this blog we'll just leave that statement to stand on it's own.
Last week, my beloved floor cleaner decided that it's starter needed a rest. I love my floor cleaner because now each and every swipe across the floor is made with clean, fresh water which is promptly sucked away with the dirt left by my messy spawn. So last week I had to clean the floor while holding the started and the water release at the same time. I'm sure I came down with carpal tunnel syndrome and my hands needed a rest but with the holidays upon us the floor had to get done. So I gave the floor cleaner a much deserved and much needed break. I haven't cleaned my floor in almost two weeks while the machine snored away in the closet. This morning my feet stuck to the floor and pulled my sock off so I decided break time was over even if I had to hold the switch the whole time. But NO, the rest was all my wonderful floor cleaner needed and the switch works perfectly again.
And so you see, the "It Needs A Rest" theory is not just a way to get an extra nap in once a week or so, it's a lifestyle. Whenever you see something not working, give it a break and come back to it later. This is Lor, with the life lesson of the day, signing off.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

End of the year wrap-up

Okay, it's not the end of the year but as I'm still riding the high of thanking the Earth Goddess for the wonderful harvest this year and I'm starting to plan next year's garden I thought I'd do a little recap of the year's garden winners.
First, I should say that we've finally got the soil conditions almost correct for the tomatoes we grow. Before planting we tilled the soil and seeded each hole with bone meal and epsom salts. The additional calcium from the bone meal and sulfur and magnesium from the epsom salts made a HUGE difference in the amount of blossom end rot we experienced and may have contributed to the amazing size and volume of tomatoes we harvested.
Without a doubt, this was the year of the Roma tomato. I purchased real heirloom Roma tomato seeds from Tomatofest and we harvested them into October. While they are a small tomato and not generally known as being particularly tasty these were very rich with an old-fashioned tomato taste. These meaty tomatoes probably made the best tomato sauce it's ever been my privilege to make and the plants just kept setting fruit and setting fruit until you almost couldn't see the foliage through all the little oblong red tomatoes.
An unexpected huge hit was the Thessaloniki Oxheart. Another seed buy from Tomatofest, I loved these tomatoes because of their big size and thick walls of meat. The taste is milder and they weren't the production factories that the Roma plants were but pound for pound they probably out produced the Romas.
Once again, my beloved Mom's Paste did not let me down. Each plant set hundreds of giant, udder-shaped, excellent tasting pastes that gave each batch of tomato sauce a slightly sweet, fresh tomato taste. If I could only choose one paste tomato this one would the one.
Now for the regular slicing tomatoes my requirements are a little different though they still generally end up going into my sauces. I want taste that makes me moan with pleasure with no mealy or mushy texture. Seeds and skin can't be bitter or tough and if they're pretty it's a huge bonus.
My Kellogg's Breakfast tomatoes are always a favorite. I love those two pound orange tomatoes with their sweet, distinctly tomato flavor. We didn't get a huge amount of them this year but Kellogg's seems to prefer a warmer growing season and we had a cool year this year.
Caspian Pinks and Serbians are wonders of the world to me. These European tomatoes still remember the salty sea and robust soil that originally bred them and the taste reflects that. There's a salty tang to the rich, almost heavy taste of tomato in each bite that makes them the perfect compliment to any sandwich.
The Stupice tomatoes, small and perfectly round were fantastic. We enjoyed very heavy production from these milder but tasty tomatoes that were made for salads.
Another surprise hit for me was the Costuluto Genovese. Another VERY flavorful, rich tomato, these were big tomatoes that begged to be roasted, grilled or stir fried because they had enough flavor to go it alone.
An honorable mention should go to my Mr Stripey and Paul Robeson tomatoes. As much as I adore the smokey, meaty flavor of those tomatoes they simply didn't produce as many tomatoes this year as I'd like. It may have been the weather that didn't agree with them so they'll be in the garden next year anyway and I'll be trying a few more blacks just in case.
I continue in my never-ending quest to grow melons. Every year I say "next year will be better." Next year will be better.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Samhain and more

October 30th was national candy corn day and I missed it!!?? How can that be? My favorite Halloween candy and I didn't pay homage to it in an appropriate manner (which of course would have meant glutting myself on a two pound bag). Oh well, there's always next year.....or the after Halloween sales....hmmmmm.....
My Bourbon turkey hen Jefferson came to find me today. Yes, she loves me. I saw a little face looking in the window and thought it was the cat but there was something strange about this face.....almost looked like a BEAK on that little face. There was my baby Jefferson checking to see if I could come out and play. I ignored her in favor of my nacho lunch and diet pepsi only to see her fly up to the porch railing so she could stare at me mournfully through the big picture window. Then she started hen calling and I just had to smile and go help her out. I got some turkey and chicken treats together and went out to feed everyone. Jefferson jumped into my arms and I put her back in her house after a little cuddle. Who says turkeys are stupid?
We had a pretty good Halloween. Greg took the kids into Castle Rock while I stayed home with a headache, a bowl of popcorn and a bunch of "b" horror movies. I did a little ritual thanking the goddess and asking grandma a few questions and then the kids were home with about 20 pounds of candy. They had a blast. Several people tried to scare them and that was almost as much fun as seeing the wondrous variety and sheer quantity of candy.
And now we move to one of my favorite holidays-Thanksgiving. I so love the planning and cooking and feeding family that traditionally goes with this day. I wish we could ship in a few more family members but I'll make do with whatever people I can get here. My cooking will start the weekend before Thanksgiving. I plan to put some cookies and sausage biscuits in the freezer for Adam to take home with him. I'll make some caramel corn in a couple of batches so Adam can have his without peanuts. The turkey will have to start thawing so that I can brine it for a day or two before we cook it. I'm so glad I'm feeling better so I can truly enjoy all the culinary joy.
Good and bad news: The girls pulled up the tomato cages for us but then they left the greenhouse door open. A few days later "Mommy's deer" got into the greenhouse and the boys saw them and decided they go see them so the deer tore down my plastic greenhouse walls in several places. That plastic is expensive and visions of trying to grow my wondrous tomatoes without the greenhouse flashed through my head. Now Greg thinks we may finish putting the remaining hoops up and enlarge the greenhouse since we'll have to buy new plastic anyway. Woot! Even MORE tomatoes! Can I stand this much joy? Better try to keep my excitement down because with our luck we still might not be able to afford it. We'll see but I'll be hoping.
I think we're over the worst of the flu finally. Greg is off oxygen, my headaches are getting less bothersome and the endless coughing seems to be diminishing. I actually got a little work done today around the house and went for a walk outside. Life is good.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Fall (appropriate on many levels)

First of all, I've had some questions about the "GREAT VANILLA EXPERIMENT" from my first blog...or second, I don't remember. The vanilla has been a resounding success. The first batch was started with Grey Goose Vodka and some very fine Madagascar vanilla beans, so the very best ingredients. The second batch was brewed with Smirnoff and some Mexican beans. I admit that the first is better BUT I know that the ingredients are better AND the first batch has brewed a good six weeks longer than the first. So today, with the first batch getting close to the halfway point, I added some vanilla from the second batch to fill up the bottle and and added new vodka to the second bottle. I think I'll continue to do it this way, using the second bottle as the brewing batch and the first bottle as the bottle to use. I think the Madagascar beans will finish the brew off nicely while it waits in the dark cabinet to be used in some secret concoction.
We've been fighting off some evil flu monster here. H1N1? No clue, don't care. The kids go for flu shots this Friday since Annie's diabetes and DJ's asthma put them at much higher risk. Greg's battling bronchitis and a painful back. I hate to see him out working on farm stuff in that condition but he's so hopeful that he can get the whole project done by the time snow flies....again.
I'm so busy nesting and getting ready for my surgery that I'm not actually getting anything done. I sit and worry about how to take care of everyone while I recuperate and what things I need to get to make life easier on Greg while I'm gone.
The tomato canning season is officially over. The plants have all been pulled up and the jars are all put away and my thoughts turn to next year's garden. I've already got the seeds I need and the plans whirl through my head for better, easier ways to harvest melons and zucchini while still maintaining my wondrous tomato yields.
I sold the extra turkeys. It was a tough decision but Byron just didn't fit my dreams for the perfect breeding Tom for my Midget White flock and Drummer turned out to be a Tom so my dreams of keeping Byron to breed to Drummer for meat turkeys evaporated. The lady who bought them plans to breed them though so at least they'll still be pets. She was amazed at how friendly and tame they both were. She actually walked Byron to the car. So the plan now is that we'll put the geese and Rosie and Jefferson and the Buff Orps in one house. The White turks and the Rhode Island Red chickens will go in the second house and my Easter Egger flock will be in the big house where we'll also put overflow baby turks and chicks next spring. Did I mention that I absolutely love those stupid geese? I so hope that I have a breeding trio of some kind. I'd love to sell some baby goslings next spring. Geese are strange because you get them and they're SOOOO cute for about a minute and they start to grow and they're gorky looking, messy and very noisy. When they finally mature, if you haven't gotten tired of them and given them away, they're magnificently protective, still noisy and messy but with such a cool personality that you just can't help but like them. They like to suddenly take off flapping eight foot of wing span and honking to the heavens like they're being chased by a wolverine and then they gather in the corner and giggle together like a bunch of school girls and wander back to the rest of the panicked flock.
The horses are doing very well. The lady who bought the turkeys asked me to please breed Fiona again and she would foot the bill as deposit on the foal. Hmmmm, something to consider I guess. We'll see how the winter goes.
So, I'm off to try a new recipe for red beans and rice. Gotta have it with cornbread of course and I made rice krispie bars so life is good here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Life's Hard

Has there ever been anyone you would die for? I guess that's an easy question if you have children but long before children, the man I love and the many mishaps with the law that finally convinced me otherwise, I would have laid down my life for my brother. When he was young and it was looking like he would never fulfill the promise of our family six foot average height I used to defend him from bullies by fighting kids twice my size and winning. Obviously, long before the "zero tolerance" days of today. My brother was my other half. When I had the words, he had the illustrations. So it really shouldn't have been a surprise that I took the conventional road and he found some lost path to nowhere to follow. The years passed and I lost track of how many jails and prisons he inhabited. For a brief time we lived together as young adults and I realized that we no longer even spoke the same language most of the time. There were little glimmers of the boy I'd once known and we'd launch into our old comedy routines and laugh and love each other again but now he was hard and mean and dark sometimes and while I used to be able to pull him out of those depths with ease it was now an impossible task. So we parted again, he went to jail and I found love and a new life. It's been over 20 years now and then a call in the night from him and I'm torn again. How can you help someone that only looks and sounds like someone you would have once died for? The call today is even worse. He's homeless and the social worker will give him a bus ticket here or he goes to jail but the only thing in the world he has left is his dog and he cries on the phone that either way he will lose his precious dog. I want to beat up the mean social worker who made my little brother cry. I want to fix this and rescue him and his puppy. Mostly, I want to turn back the clock and find that little boy and hug him one more time because I can't fix this, I can't help and it's far too late for rescue.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No news is...boring

Ah, it's been a crazy ride here at Alberti farm. The girls had their birthday. They chose to celebrate it on a single day as they have since they were babies. I love it that we only have to get one cake though this year they chose a Baskin Robins cake so it cost about as much as two cakes anyway. The only thing Rissa wanted for her birthday was a snake. Is this my child or what? So I sent Greg after a 4 and a half foot long Ball Python. He's just as tame as he could be and Riss walks around with him on her neck or sits with him in her lap. Unfortunately, she also leaves him snuggling in the couch cushions or on the bed or on the floor. The cats, always secure in their superior "top floor pet" position, are now on constant alert for the predator in their formerly safe haven. The little gray cat is afraid of the couch and the big black cat is leery of jumping on my lap if I have a blanket on as he is certain there is a killer under my cover. Poor kitties. Of course we've had our first incident with Satan as the snake was appropriately named. We warned Riss that the snake would bite if he was stressed, cold or hungry and told her not to have him out for too long but sure enough she was playing with him and he bit her when he'd had just about enough. I knew she was afraid to approach him after that so I very matter-of-factly went after him and picked him up speaking endearments and snuggling with him. Riss took him from me and has not been adversely affected by the experience.
I know my dedicated readers love to hear about the happenings on the farm but I've had a wee problem that prevents me from reporting too much about the outside world. I went to the dentist to have a tooth pulled. The x-ray showed the root of the tooth touched but did not enter the sinus cavity and he warned that if he cracked the thin sinus bone I might get a sinus infection. After the tooth had been removed he proclaimed the sinus bone intact and told me I would not need antibiotic as I was in no danger. Yet, a few days later while cooking breakfast, I felt a curtain go down on my hearing. No sudden explosion, no pain, it was just like a theatre curtain going down after last act slowly but surely ending the hearing in my ear. I was surprised but not worried, it had to be that sinus infection the dentist had warned me about and I had an appointment with him the next day so all would be rectified soon enough. Monday morning, dizzy now and completely deaf in one ear, the dentist again confirmed that my sinus was probably not the problem but I may have developed an ear infection on my own so he prescribed some antibiotic "just in case". Five days I faithfully took the antibiotics with no relief from the frightening vertigo or the buzzing silence in my left ear so I determined that I would go see a doctor to see what was wrong. It's funny, you can go several days telling people that you can hear absolutely nothing out of your ear but when the doctor tests your hearing and he tells you that you have 100% hearing loss the reaction is stunned disbelief. Really, no hearing at all? The doctor told me it was not an ear infection but I should go see an ENT immediately as it was an emergency. The very next day I went to see the ENT who also did a hearing test. Call me naive but I'd gathered some hope during the night. You see, the doctor had a little hearing tester gadget that looked like something Billy Mays would hawk on the home shopping channel. "And if you call RIGHT now we'll send TWO of these amazing little hearing tester thingies for the incredibly low, LOW price of $19.99!!!" I just knew that with the audiologist's fancy technological toys they'd find that I had some vestige of hearing left, something that would say my ear wasn't entirely dead. Again my hopes were dashed when the assistant came in astonished as it had been a very long time since she'd tested anyone who was stone deaf. Gee, so glad I could ruin those stats. My doctor is running the playbook and has prescribed steroids (SOP for ENTs with pts who have SSHL) and an MRI but she isn't giving me a lot of hope that I'll hear again just that the vertigo will clear up and maybe that low, buzzing, ocean tide sound will go away. So, I'm not getting outside much. I can walk around inside so long as I move slowly and don't move my head around a lot but when I go outside the world gets so big that my spatial perception goes a little awry and the dizziness is intensified.
But the girls have been harvesting some peppers and zucchini and they tell me that the tomatoes are going to be overwhelming. The little chickens (not so little anymore) are now laying eggs faithfully so we have little green and brown eggs to add to the big white and huge brown eggs from the older chickens. I can see the geese and turkeys and they are amazing. My Rosie tom turkey is magnificent when he puffs up and struts and the geese must surely be a daunting target to any passing predator.
The baby horses are so very big and so very funny when they play. Juno is so awkward looking with her too big head and too long legs but little Scarlett looks perfectly proportioned. Juno is still the tamest one and she longs for human affection and touch. Scarlett has gotten less afraid but she is the wild child of the bunch. I can't help but think these girls have amazing things ahead of them but I guess every proud Mom thinks the same thing.
Well, I've bored you long enough dear reader and it bothers me to have my eyes flying back and forth across the page so I must close now and go find something that I can accomplish.

Friday, July 17, 2009

For Dani


I'm told that my blogs could be more exciting if I included pictures of my many topics of conversation. I dedicate this blog and it's accompanying pictures to Danielle.

I've often spoke of my beautiful Bourbon tu
rkeys. Jefferson was named after the best Bourbon I ever drank and was spoiled rotten when she (yes, SHE) got sick and had to be nursed back to health. She's still my favorite turkey and here is her picture:


Rosie, also named after another fine

Bourbon, is our Tom. He's seen in the next
picture with his little buddy Tattoo, a
White Midget turkey and an anonymous
Buff goose:

All of these birds are about four months old.
Speaking of birds....I have chicken pics too! Woot! The next pics are of my favorite Easter Egger chickens and they're roo.
Keep a careful eye out though as there are some Buff Orps and Rhode Island Reds scattered about these pics.














That brings us to the always popular pictures of baby horses. The pics of Scarlett just refuse to come out with any clarity so I can't show the wonderful roaning (is that a word?) that is happening to her coat. She was born a beautiful sorrel blanket appy but when I saw the gray hairs I assumed that she was going to go for a strawberry roan. Now I see the undercoat getting suspiciously dark and I'm beginning to wonder about blue roan with blanket.....Hmmmmm....the genetics behind this horse and her color are mind boggling. Of course the light of my heart is Juno (or Ava if her would-be new owners change her name) so I have a couple of pics of her. You'll note her size in the pic with Rissa. Rissa is not known for being terribly tall but still, this is one big filly at less than three months of age. Her nose is extended in orgasmic ecstasy at having her butt scratched.



















Other news: Those of you who know me, have noticed that I'm usually studying some darn thing or another. There's a cool book about the theory of another civilization that gave rise to the Egyptian culture. The beginning of the book was a little boring. Geological evidence is beyond boring and I was familiar with the suppositions behind the architectural similarities. The climactic changes were interesting but not terribly exciting or conclusive in my mind but now the book reveals more anthropological clues and religious questions that actually make me wonder. We KNOW that neolithic peoples did not have the technology to build the Sphinx but we also once KNEW that the world was flat. Fun stuff. I love this kind of mind stretching exercise.
And so darling daughter, I hope you are happy or at least happier with this post. The pics were a pain in the ass, so I probably won't be doing that again unless it's just one picture to draw the eye or clarify an observation.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Random stuff

Annie tells me that trees are so "cutiful" and then goes on to explain to me that trees are alive and that they can talk to each other about people and if you listen really close they can talk to you too. She told me that when she told the trees how "cutiful" they were they smiled at her. Yep, my six-year old daughter is an ancient druid at heart. I love it that she's so keenly aware of nature everywhere she goes. She reminds me of the connections we all have to the Earth and that helps to keep me grounded.
Today I checked on the tomatoes. It seems that we have a bumper crop of tomatoes in the making. I'm worried that I'll be called into surgery just about the time that I need to be here processing all these beautiful fruits but we'll just have to play it by ear. There's no law that says I can't dictate the date of the surgery just a little bit.
The rest of the garden? (sigh) It's a jungle out there. The daily rainstorms have kept everything so wet that weeding is almost impossible but so necessary. I'll still get some crops out of the garden but it could have been much better....and yet, I guess it could have been much worse. I'll be happy with whatever we get.
A woman wrote to me asking about Scarlett. I'd gotten to the point where I almost forgot she was for sale. When we got the offer for Juno I accepted that she was no longer my horse and started to distance myself even though it's difficult to distance yourself from a horse that wants to be petted all the time. Scarlett, with no offer and no interest, became my focus. Her movements, her change of color, her personality are all very special now so this possible interest in purchasing her saddens me. I'm sure it's for the best but I'd even entertained thoughts of keeping her for a year or so and working with her but I know she's destined for things far beyond what I have to offer.
No new problems with the kids. DJ is on a higher dose of ADHD meds and it seems to make him a little morose. I'm hoping this is a temporary side effect and that it will diminish over time. Seems like he did this when we first switched to this drug and the reverted to his normal happy-go-lucky self eventually.
Annie had her mysterious seizure and subsequent hyper-sensitivity to insulin and is now back to "normal". I believe she'll be fine but I get nervous whenever she's out of sight. My fear that she'll have a seizure while she's riding a bike or doing some activity that will hurt her seems to always be in the back of my mind.
I had a nice little getaway on Saturday. Just picked up DJ's meds and did a little shopping at the much hated Wal-Mart for some cereal and kids' underwear. It was pleasant to get out of the house and have my thoughts to myself for a while and everyone was happy to see my purchases when I returned. I was nearly killed on the way home though. I was following behind a man who was pulling a trailer filled with loose dirt. Suddenly, the trailer was at a 90 degree angle to the truck it was supposed to be following and nearly wiped out an oncoming car. Then it was 90 degrees on the other side and perilously close to the ditch. The trailer kept swiping back and forth like an angry snake or something and the dirt was flying everywhere so I pulled off the road and waited to see what happened next. I guess the guy finally figured out that if he was going to regain control he needed to slow down a little so he got the trailer straightened and resumed his journey with half of his load scattered the four winds....and all over the front of my car of course.
Well, I've played with tomatoes, played with the baby horses and played on the computer. It's time to do some of those Mommy chores I guess.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lazy, crazy days of summer

Here we are-July. We've had a few rather warm days but for the most part it's been nice out here on the farm so far this season. Gotta love the evening showers that cool everything off so nicely for sleeping too.
We've had a couple of strange weeks here. First, Annie had a seizure that was probably one of the most frightening things I've been through in my 51 years. The boys said she was choking and had fallen so that got the ol' adrenaline running. I'm terrified of choking even though I know that I'm proficient at the Heimlich maneuver. When I saw her I knew it was a seizure so for me at least the fear factor went down several notches but I still thought I was dealing with a fall induced seizure. And why, when we studied about seizures in nursing school, did no one tell us that it takes hours to return to normal after a seizure? THAT was the scariest part for me. Watching her tic and drool in my arms and wondering if she'd fallen hard enough to cause permanent damage was one of the Mom moments I don't want to relive.
Then DJ coming into our room crying and declaring that he didn't want to die because he couldn't breathe. Another trip to the hospital which I thought was going to be one of those deals where the doctors pat you on the back and think you're one of "those" mothers who over-react to every little thing turned out to be a two day stay of worrying about why he wasn't responding to treatment. Some well-meaning doctor explained to me that this is how people die from asthma. The bronchi get so inflamed and swollen that not only will they not allow oxygen to come in but the medicine that will relieve the swelling can't get in either. Gee, thanks doc.
Now Grandma always said these things (meaning everything) comes in threes so I'm sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Perhaps the "third thing" will be my own surgery but in the meantime I'm being vigilant mom. Maybe the "third thing" was Target dog's surgery? Hmmmmmm, have to ask Gram about that......
As for the farm, the daily rainfall has been a blessing to my dry pasture and the horses are all fat and happy on the grass they graze daily. I've never seen so much green for so long in all the years I've lived in Colorado and I love it. I could like Colorado if we got this much rain all the time. On the other hand the mud has made it nearly impossible to get out into the garden and weed and those weeds are loving this rain too. Greg did a wonderful job of cleaning out the weeds in my tomato house but the garden itself is an almost impenetrable jungle. But my beloved tomatoes are flowering and setting fruit and are as happy as they can be.
The baby horses are growing and have become playful and entertaining. Little Scarlett is displaying her small amount of Friesian heritage with some fancy footwork even while she's racing around like the cow horse she resembles so strongly. Juno/Ava has a double personality in that she's so big and strong yet moves delicately like some lithe ballerina. She is by far the most beautiful filly I've ever seen and her slow canter is breathtaking.
I have been hatching turkeys this weekend. At this moment it looks like we've gotten four out of the 22 eggs that we set. One little blue Slate was hatched under a broody hen, two are undetermined as yet-they're dark with yellow masks so I don't know if that means they're Bronzes or Spanish blacks and we have one white Holland. Anyway, we have quite the motley crew of turks now with a breeding pair of Bourbons, one Midget, one Bronze/Slate mix, and these new four. I'll have to find at least a couple more Midgets and hopefully a Holland or two before I can really settle down to do some breeding.
And that's my life for the time being. I'm off to start some watering in the tomato house and may get captured by wildlife living in my garden so I wanted to put down my thoughts one last time before I disappear into the wilderness.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stolen from another blog

Just in case you are having a rough day, here is a stress management technique recommended in all the latest psychological journals.
The funny thing is that it really does work and will make you smile.

1. Picture yourself lying on your belly on a warm rock that hangs out over a crystal clear stream.

2. Picture yourself with both your hands dangling in the cool running water.

3. Birds are sweetly singing in the cool mountain air.

4. No one knows your secret place.

5. You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called the world.

6. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.

7. The water is so crystal clear that you can easily make out the face of the person you are holding underwater.

Friday, June 12, 2009

SUMMER!

That's right folks, even though I still sleep with a blanket and a comforter at night the days are finally warming up enough for swimming pools, sweat-in-your-eyes labor in the garden, and tomato blooms. I know, I know, that is the paradox that is Colorado.
Greg is making a little extra money this week because a small storm blew through with some big hail that damaged a lot of cars. He's working 12 hour days for the whole week and into the weekend. We don't see him much and when we do he's tired but it's not for long and we can always use a few extra bucks.
The baby horses are growing nicely and providing much comedy relief with their many discoveries and playtimes. Juno has found a home with a wonderful couple who plan to train her for dressage and eventing which is just what this baby was born to do. I dream about her dancing under lights in front of a judge's station some day. Still no bites on Scarlett, the little speed-racer or little red corvette but there's plenty of time and I'm not worried because with each day she develops more personality and athleticism that will take her wonderful places.
I'm mourning the loss of my big boy. We found a great home for Bram and Casey up in Wyoming where they can not only be together but they can have jobs! I know this was the very best solution for them but my Big Boy hugs and kisses are no longer a part of my life and I miss that more than even I could have imagined. I still have my wondrous girl Fiona and she submits to my spontaneous and impulsive displays of affection with patience and a little exasperation so I'll be okay. Dixie is also very willing to hug and I like her sweet personality more each day.
Today I got up eager (really? eager?) to go out and till up the garden to get rid of some of the weed problems. In a little less than an hour I'd managed to clear the area where all the melons and cukes and zukes are planted. I'd also managed to develop two very nice sized blisters and hurt my back. Yea! Once again the empty raised bed at the end of the row stared back at me accusingly. The transplanted asparagus and rhubarb didn't make it through the move so I decided we needed to go spend some of Greg's storm pay. We bought 18 strawberry plants to replace those that died in the other beds, 3 different melons, 4 rhubarb plants and a pumpkin. Rissa, the extreme wrestler, dug my holes for me and Winnie and Annie and I planted.....hmmmmm, it just occurred to me that my younger sons must have some belief that gardening is womens' work. I'll have to introduce them to some new ideas soon. My back is already aching from tilling, bending, weeding and planting so tomorrow I should be in the most wondrous shape.
To pay the kids back for their ....help I bought some crap at the store so they could have a picnic. Kids are so easy. Buy them some ham, chips, a pop and call it a picnic and they plant garden for you.
In other news my mother, at the age of 71 has begun a small business. She is hand-embroidering kitchen towels for women who order them from her. I just encouraged her to raise her prices as she was just charging for material (well, I never said it was a successful business) and not for her time. Now she's making a nice profit though she doesn't sleep anymore because she's trying to get orders done for birthdays, before vacations and when the social security check comes.
Greg's mother on the other hand appears to be doing poorly. She no longer goes out because she "gets short of breath" though apparently no one knows exactly why she isn't able to breathe. I worry about her a lot. She used to have such a big world with so many friends and interests and no her whole life has shrunk to a little room where she slowly suffocates literally and figuratively.
And that's all the news that's fit to print!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just keep farmin', just keep farmin, farmin', farmin'....

Can you dig it? We have almost more than half of the garden in!!! Woot! Who woulda thunk it? Yesterday Greg came home early and just jumped right into digging holes for tomatoes. I hoed up some holes for my melons, cukes and zukes and got those seeds in the ground. We put up cutesy poo little pink flags with the name of the breed of plant we hoped to see arrive from the little mounds and then I went to help with the tomato planting. I called over my shoulder to have Annie bring me the rest of the flags. She in turn called to Mikey to take them to me as she was watering some stuff we'd planted earlier in the week. I happened to glance out to see Mikey pulling the very last flag out of my newly planted mounds as the unused flags lay ignored and invisible in the middle of the garden. I actually screamed. LOL! Yeah, well, it's funny now and it will be funny later in the fall as we get watermelons from the hill marked zukes but at the time it was devastating. Poor Mikey was banned from yesterday's gardening activities.
The day got better though. We threw a little bone meal and epsom salts in the holes for tomatoes and I organized the planting by finding the varieties that needed to be placed together and showing the girls how to cover them gently with the soil. I made more flags with names like Kelloggs, Costuluto Genovese, Polish Linguisa and good ol' MOM's and placed them lovingly into each planting bed. I believe we got 76 tomatoes planted last night.
The lettuces, spinach, strawberries, carrots and asparagus went to ground last week. All that's left to plant for this year's harvest is the rest of the melons that I started earlier in the year, the pumpkins, corn, beans, beets and broccoli. I feel like we're actually on our way to gardening finally!
Today was the first day the baby horsies were allowed outside to play. The moms were very grateful for the opportunity to graze and the babies were happy to run around in big circles, bucking and kicking while the dog barked at them. Is there anything more beautiful than a week old foal running in the green, green grass? I don't think so. They tired out quickly and collapsed into tangles of legs on the ground where their patient mothers stood guard and grazed. If I were an artist I'd paint a picture of this scene and call it Perfect Contentment.
And speaking of Perfect Contentment, I'm off to do laundry!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Whew!

Well, for all the worrry and wonder and some other "W" words, we had our babies. I checked both the mares Sunday night and Fiona was still FULL of milk but no waxing on the teats and while she was looser in the ligaments she still wasn't exactly lax yet. Dixie had no progress, still small but hard in the udders and not much change in the ligaments at all. My prediction was a few more days for Fiona and as much as another week or two for Dix. And I went to bed content that there was no need for worry that night.
Riss slammed into the room Monday morning trumpeting the announcement that Dixie had a baby! The look on her face made me wonder if she was trying to tell me that something was wrong but I jumped into some clothes and went out to the stable as quickly as I can. I was correct in my genetic prophecy that this baby would not be a black and white splashy, chrome covered, marvel. She's a tiny little red horse with some cute white splotches on her butt that will someday be a beautiful blanket. I see some white hairs around the ears, eyes, and nose that lead me to believe she'll gray out to a strawberry roan. Her name is Miz Scarlett and she's very curious and pretty in a delicate way. I'm very proud of Dixie and her mothering abilities as well. For a first-time Momma she did very well. The vet visited and said she may not have been quite ready to give birth (well duh) because she's very, very bruised and torn and for such a tiny baby that can only mean she was very afraid or not quite ready. Oh well, it's not like I was planning to breed ever, ever again anyway.
In the meantime Fiona started acting like she was in labor. Laying down, getting up, laying down some more, pacing, ...... but I really attributed much of this to being upset about someone else having a baby. She wasn't due for another 10 days afterall and still no waxing so what could happen? By evening she had settled down considerably and I figured we were okay.
Greg blasted into the room on Tuesday to tell me my horse had a baby. This time I didn't even bother with underwear. Threw on some pants and ran. My girl's baby is exactly what I expected. This little filly is HUGE, with a typical Frieisian head, feathers, black as night and just the suggestion of her mother's beautiful star. She's at least twice the size of Scarlett and you can tell she's destined for unimaginable greatness. Her name will be Fiona's Ebony Juno. Barn name will be Juno as I know she will be stately and majestic when she's grown. The vet came AGAIN and declared my baby to be healthy, amazingly large and astoundingly beautiful. Fiona has absolutely no bruising or tearing which is unbelievable considering the size of this baby.
So, it's been a crazy couple of days. I've not accomplished much of anything with all this excitement. There are ducks and turkeys and chickens hatching everywhere but I've been a wee bit occupied. Three of my new chickens are from my own birds. The little mutts are cuter than anything you can buy from a purebred dealer. The little call duck is a clone of a rubber duck and I have to admit I've never seen a cuter baby duck in my life.
I'm off to see if I can get something done today.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

National Nude Gardening Day

So what are you doing for National Nude Gardening Day? I wonder if that title should be in caps? It's about 38 degrees out and thinking about rain. I kept my nudeness in the shower. Yes, I know nudeness isn't a word. There must be some hearty souls out there braving the bugs, kneeling in the dirt and communing with nature and I applaud them even while I'm glad that they are far from here so I don't have to witness their appreciation of the Earth.
We're taking all the kids out to see a movie today. Sometimes I worry about my sanity. Perhaps Mom drank while she was pregnant with me thus rendering me incapable of using good judgment when I make plans like this. Greg and Deeday are going to see Fast and Furious. Deej is such a nut for cars, car chases, car crashes and spending time alone with daddy that I know he'll have the most fun of all of us today. Mikey and Anni and I are going to see Monsters vs Aliens. I like Pixar so life could be worse. Rissa and Winnie are going to be trusted to see a movie all alone, by themselves. They'll be seeing 17 again because they like the Efron kid. I think we'll be using some of my 300 dollars in plant money for this little outing which is fine. I'll probably take a valium before embarking on this little adventure.
We also have a lady coming out to see if she would like to buy Casey horse. She thinks ol' Case would make a wonderful addition to a horse program that she volunteers for with horses who work with disabled kids. I think so too and at least I don't have to worry about her having a forever home.
Speaking of horses, I checked both the girls last night. Fiona has udders that would make a Jersey cow jealous. I cannot conceive of any scenario that will allow her to remain pregnant for another 15 days with udders like that so expect word on a new baby sometime next week late I think. On the other hand that crazy Dixie chick scared me silly last night by flirting with Bram and showing obvious signs of being in heat!! I wondered about false pregnancies and possible abortions until I did a search and found that it's not entirely uncommon for mares to go into a false heat in the latter weeks of pregnancy. Okay, who knew? 'Course I think back on my own pregnancies and remember that same sort of ......oh well, we won't go there will we? Dixie hasn't really progressed with her udders getting any fuller or ligaments looser so now it would appear that Fiona will go first-don't count Dix out yet though. Remember that quite often first time mothers don't even get milk until after baby comes so we'll see. I can assure you the first thing I do every morning is check horses.
I made caramel rolls last night to make first thing this morning. For some reason the caramel rolls don't like it when I make them the night before and then bake them in the morning. They seem heavier, denser than they are when I just make them to eat for dessert. Think I'll get some bread flour and try that before I give up on making them ahead though. The bread flour always makes them nice and light.
We had our favorite chicken mushroom and rice soup last night. It was wonderful though I had to pick all the chicken out of mine. Needs cheese.
Some very nice woman offered to sell me her foal halters last night for the coming baby horses. Just like I hate to buy the kids new clothes when I know they're going to outgrow them in a minute or two, I just couldn't make myself pay 30 dollars for a foal halter that will fit the horse all of four minutes. So I'm very happy and look, a whole blog with no bitching for a change!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The latest haps on the farm

Yeah, we're snowed in again. Living in the desert as I do any moisture at all is usually a cause for at least a smile but I really need to get going on this whole garden thing and snow is not conducive to good gardening. Rain, I can work with rain because it doesn't keep the ground temperature from warming so while I can't actually plant something I know it's not going to set me back but snow means another week at least before anything can go in the ground.
Does it seem like I'm always bitching about something? I assure you I was once regarded as the eternal optimist so perhaps it's the blogging experience and I only feel compelled to write about my adventures when I'm having difficulty.
In other news, the horses are not happy about their advancing pregnancies. Fiona who actually knows what's going on inside her is still kicking her belly to teach that little foal a lesson for kicking her mama. She moves very slowly and deliberately. You can see her weigh her options these days. "Should I walk up and see if Mom has a treat for me or should I stay here awhile and see if she'll come to me?" Dixie is very worried about her own belly as she glances back frequently to see what it was that just moved inside her and then asks me what the heck that was. She too is moving slowly though she's a third of Fiona's age so she still seems a little lighter on her feet. I still worry about them both and can't wait for this to be over.
The kids took some tests for school today and really did quite well. I was rather surprised. Sometimes I wonder if I'm really doing them any good at all by keeping them home to teach them and then I get results like this and realize that somehow, some way they are learning something so I'm not the worst teacher in the world. Annie actually asks to read so that's gotta be a good thing, right?
I've moved all waterfowl to my hatcher incubator. My mentor seems to think my humidity is too high for turkeys which may have spoiled my last hatch so I put the ducks who are close to hatching in one incubator with much higher humidity and I'll leave the turk eggs in the incubator with lower humidity and see what happens. I've gotta get at least a few out of this batch or there will be no breeding stock.
The ducks and geese and turkeys that came from the last hatch are all doing very well. You can't help but like a little duckie although it seems like my heart belongs to turkeys. My pet turk Jefferson (who appears each day to be more female than male) likes to pretend that he (she?) is a parrot and flies up to the top of the gate so that he can sit on my hand and be cuddled. The new little Midget turkey (Tattoo) is coming along quite nicely. I think from now on I will offer food that has been wettened for new turkey hatches. They seem to eat it easier and make it through those first few dangerous days easier.
We had a great weekend this weekend! I sold 180 dollars worth of plants!!! Can you dig it? Any naysayers out there who think I can't make money with my growing prowess now? No, I didn't think so. We also sold some not-so-baby chicks but I doubt that we are making much of a profit on them at this point. Still, came out of the weekend with over 200 bucks I didn't have going into the weekend so I'm not going to complain. Tomorrow I'll be selling more tomatoes and chickens....sounds like a good day to go shopping!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring.....?

Just an update on the farm happenings. My last hatch was yet another failure more or less. Apparently the humidity either was too high or spiked after a fill and drowned my little turkeys because everyone that went into the hatcher was nicely developed and alive but only one hatched. I could just cry. I spent good money on those little Midget turkeys babies and hated to lose them. On the other hand, I did get three duck babies to hatch. They LIKE the high humidity hatch. So I have one lonely little white midget turkey baby and two blue Swedes and one black Swede. They are awfully cute. Then Greg came home with three baby buff geese. I really, really need geese....I do! They're adorable, who could not need geese? One good thing about the whole thing is that the ducks and the geese keep reminding the turkey about where the food and water are so he's doing very well at eating.
On to the next hatch. Seems like I'm always pinning all my hopes on a new incubator full of eggs. The next hatch is lavender turks, Beltsville turks, runner ducks, call ducks, some chickens from my chicken house and some Pilgrim geese. The plan is that I will use the hatcher for a high humidity hatch for the waterfowl and keep the turks and chickens in the incubator with the turner turned off and lower humidity. THIS time it's gonna work. I've ordered some more Midget eggs too because I'm just that confident that I can do this. Damn it.
We've moved the baby chickens out to the new coops and my baby turkeys are now in the grow room so the new ducks and newest turkey could have the little bathroom brooder. Where will I put the new hatch? In Greg's sock drawer of course! I hate cornish chickens. Just want to get that out there. If I EVER grow meat birds again it will not be these aggressive, ugly, smelly things I can assure everyone of that. I'll butcher my Reds before I do cornish again.
My plants are thriving of course. Ever see a plant that I couldn't make grow? People have purchased quite a few but everytime I get some extra space I plant some more stuff. Last week I planted my pumpkins and some more herbs and the last watermelons and broccoli. In theory, I'm done but all bets are off if I sell some more of my babies.
So we have snow now. I mean really, a LOT of snow. We're so snowed in that if I didn't know we were going to have 70 degree weather on Monday I'd think this would be something we were going to have to deal with for awhile. Ah, but my pasture and trees are so happy. By mid-week next week we're going to have so much green out there that it will burn your retinas. You just gotta love spring in the Rockies.
Kids had a review at the school last week. All went as expected. They all had vision and hearing tests. DJ flunked his hearing test but it's allergy season for him so my guess is that his ears are swollen or fluid filled. The three little ones had reading tests. DJ went into sensory overload and failed miserably even though he's been steadily improving since he got the Hooked on Phonics program. He' s actually relaxed quite a bit about reading since he's started to gain some proficiency. Oh well. Mikey did as well as expected considering he still lacks some of the fundamentals regarding phonics. He knew a few sight words and then wanted to do something else, anything else. Annie showed off and did a good job so at least someone was able to confirm that I am teaching the kids something. We did DJ's IEP which was the usual stuff, nothing new. Rissa has been playing lately so we discussed some ways to motivate her. We'll see. And that was a day at the school. It was nice to have Greg be a part of the process too.
And that's about it for me. I'm canning chili today and have a couple of whole chickens in the oven for supper. I've discovered that I really like black beans so I put them in the chili. I had a bowl of black beans with some butter and a little salt. They were very good. Need to do that more often.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Migraines and megrims

Yesterday we decided we were going to the store. I was like the dog or something-GO?, GO NOW? WE GO IN CAR??? NOW? Hey, I don't get out much, okay? Anyway, I was excited about a road trip. I actually like getting out of the house with the kids. My kids are usually more or less well behaved in public so it's nice to go places with them.
As we left the house the sun shone brightly reflecting off the newly fallen snow. Little sparkles glittered everywhere as we happily set off on our journey. The closer we got to town the more I noticed the colors in the shimmering snow. How strange that the very sky seemed to dim next to their brightly flashing ......wait a minute, I turned away from the scenery but the circles and bars of light went with me. Blinking and shaking my head a little didn't change the patterns or disturb their flight across my husband's face or the seat of the car. Like a circlet of diamonds, I couldn't really see anything but the light refracting through the rainbow of vibrant and pastel colors. Little floating UFOs of gorgeous flashing and Fourth of July explosions. It's a shame I only get to see them when they're warning me of danger because they mesmerize me everytime.
Yes, I have classic migraines. I get to see these beautiful auras as a sign that the most horrendous pain possible is coming like a freight train. If I'm smart enough to recognize the signal and get to some medication quickly enough I can stave off the worst of the headache but if not.....
So I didn't have the medication with me yesterday and my husband was quick enough to understand my problem. He turned around and raced home. When we got here he closed the windows, covered all light sources and put me to bed but it was really too late. I got to experience the whole thing. But I didn't get to experience the road trip.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Days of Summer?

It's been spring here since the middle of February. Don't get me wrong, we love the warm weather as much as anyone. You can't beat the money savings from not having the furnace running and all those little chores you have to wait to do can now be done....oh yeah, YEA! But watching the kids run around in shorts in the middle of February sets up expectations for your subconscious brain. You start thinking about planting and building fences and chicken coops and mucking stables and why the heck haven't those horses dropped their foals yet....oh yeah, it's FEBRUARY!!! Then to top it all off we're supposed to be getting snow this time of the year but day after day after day dawns bright and clear and sunny with no hint of moisture for my thirsty pasture or trees. (sigh)
So I have given into temptation and started my spring planting. The grow room is full of pots filled with dirt and tomato seeds. Some are sprouting but I've sort of stretched out the process so many are still newly planted. So far, 375 possible tomato plants live in my special grow room. I'll be planting pepper seeds next week and probably the melons and herbs another week later. I may run out of room which almost seems impossible but I hope to sell some plants this year so I've planted many different things that I wouldn't actually grow in my own garden. I tend to be a bit of a tomato snob and only heirloom varieties get to grace my garden.
The big chickens have been TURNED LOOSE!!!! They are definitely free range girlies now and there ain't nothin' scarier than chickens gone wild. They are scratching up the evil weed-infested straw bales and hopefully eating all the weed seed. Throwing the pieces of straw in the air until the wind takes it and then chasing it down only to find it's a piece of straw, chickens are more entertaining than.....than kids!
We've also got baby chickens now. The MacMurray order came to us with one DOA and the rest all terribly healthy and active. Those were all Easter Egg chicks. The Ideal order was Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orps and some extra RIR males but the boys are all marked. It's very colorful out there in the baby chicken room because of course Easter Egg chicks come in lots of colors and we then we have the pretty little butterscotch colored Buffs and the cinnamon colored Reds. The two lonely little chicks I hatched are out there too. The little Easter Egger has disappeared into the throng of chickens who look just like her but the black boy I hatched out is still quite noticeable.
And that's it for today. I see snow in forecast for this weekend. We'll hope for a little reminder that it's only March and not May.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A chicken in every pot

Chicken eggs incubate for 21 days. I was pretty sure by day 14 that we weren't going to get much if anything out of my first hatch. The Frizzle and Silkie eggs had been badly scrambled by the Post Office and my wildly varying temps in my old incubator couldn't have helped the other eggs much. Problem was I couldn't really candle the other eggs very well since they were all dark egg colors so I didn't know what was going on in there.
So day 21 came and went without so much as a peep from any of the eggs. In the meantime I'd gotten my new incubator and had filled it with eggs and had pinned all my hopes on the future hatch so I'd determined that I would throw the old eggs out on day 22. Yesterday the cat seemed quite interested in my incubator and a check revealed a newly hatched baby chick. Looks like an Easter Egg pullet and she's really strong and pretty. I decided well, maybe, the average temp was a little cool and slowed down hatch and I'd better give all those eggs another day. I checked almost every hour and nothing except a very noisy little baby chicken. Later in the day I thought I saw one of the brown eggs move but by bedtime there was nothing going on so I convinced myself that I'd been mistaken.
This morning I wanted to throw out the old eggs because I wanted to give the sole survivor of my hatch some more room to run around in the incubator. I gave all the eggs to Riss and told her to throw them out. She came back a few minutes later to show me an egg with a break in it's shell. Oh no, I almost threw out a baby! But surely all the moving around had killed it or perhaps it was the egg I saw yesterday and it had broken the shell yesterday and was dead now. So I broke EVERY rule of hatching and cracked the egg a little. And we hear "peep, peep." Everyone has been glued to the incubator all day waiting to see if the little one would live or not. I was pessimistic but late this afternoon I heard the loudest chirping ever and sure enough the little chick was working his way out of the egg. New chick is probably some kind of red chicken mixed with Wyandotte, probably a roo.
So the new question is.....can I throw out the old eggs NOW????

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Farm life

You know you live in a small, rural town when a herd of deer cross the street in front of you. There I was driving through my little four block long town and the whole herd of 35-40 Cervidae jump, bound, leap and amble across the road from the gas station driveway, past the liquor store and down the street to the police station. I smiled at the impatient driver coming from the other way, obviously on his way to work or some important place. Apparently, he's from a city.
Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe you're going a little overboard on the whole farm livestock thing? Everytime I see another variety of chicken or turkey I want to add it to the flock. I've ordered my Beltsvilles and Lavenders and plan to order some Midgets soon but I do so want some Palms and Bronze turks too. (sigh) Must practice patience grasshopper.
Tonight was tuna casserole. I think I have the only family in the world that actually asks for/begs for tuna casserole. Weird, weird people I live with. The secret is not cooking the noodles, using creamed corn and lots of cheese and a little sour cream never hurt nobody.
I made cookies today. Just plain ol' chocolate chip cookies to keep Adam happy. While I was making the dough Annie came over and put her little arm around me and said "I love you Mommy, you know why?" "Not a clue." "It's because you make such good cookies." Awwwwww. I told her "I love you because you think I make such good cookies." She didn't get it but that's okay.
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Income tax should be here this Friday! Woot! Gonna spend me some money. Not really. We're paying off some bills, I'm buying my new incubator and we'll get some more supplies for the new poultry coop. That'll about do it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sick kids and hatching eggs

We had a little visitor come over to play with the youngest three kids last week. Noticed she was coughing when she came but she was upset because her horse was being put down so I didn't think about her being sick. But the day progressed as days do and the child was soon hacking pretty consistenly, not eating and laying around listlessly watching TV (she's always pretty hyper). So it's not like I didn't expect that we'd be ill this week. I pretty much saw the writing on the wall. Mikey was last up this morning and he's usually first. As soon as he got up he laid back down on the couch next to his two older hollow-eyed siblings. They all glanced at me without interest (no really, they usually are interested in me) when I checked to see if they were okay. With Annie's diabetes we are very vigilant about sickness because it really messes with her numbers. Luckily, in anticipation of this event I'd gotten some cold medicine for them and started dosing them accordingly. They're feeling better but now I feel like crap. Oh well, I'll be a good mother and say that I don't care if I'm sick so long as my children are okay.....Blah. Maybe I should be like Greg and just not kiss the kid all winter long for fear of coming away with something other than sucker slobber.
It's day seven for my hatching eggs so I got to candle them. For you city slickers, candling means you hold a bright, bright light up behind the egg and look through them to see the little embryo inside. Looks like at least 14 of the little Silkie and Frizzle eggs are growing little red spiders inside so in spite of my fluctuating temps and unstable, obsolete incubator I am growing babies as of right now. Who knows if I can bring them all the way though? The mutt eggs are mostly really dark colored so I can't see into them. There are five that are light colored and two of them have little red spiders in them so I guess I just wait to see if the rest are okay.
Wrote to my Mom about my candling and possible hatch. Sent her pics of the chickens and then complained about my ancient incubator. The woman is sending me money to buy a new incubator!!! She's all excited about my chickens and wants me to keep hatching. Just goes to show you that your family is always the worst at enabling your addictions.
Okay, blog updated. Everyone happy?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Chickens!

Oooooh, the excitement of new baby chickens!!! Today I left bright and early for the post office to pick up hatching eggs. The kids were wide-eyed with wonder at the idea that there are baby chickens in those eggs. Yeah, these are farm kids who actually KNOW that chickens come from eggs but they've never actually watched the process so it was eggciting! All the beautiful colored eggs with the promise of exotic and colorful, never-before-seen chickens were unwrapped from their bubble wrap shipping clothes and placed butt-end up in the egg cartons. It's important to let the eggs settle and warm to room temp before putting them in the incubator. The green eggs quite obviously belong to an Ameracauna or Easter Egg hen but who's the father? What incredible combination will be emerging in 21 days? The smaller tan eggs contain Silkies, Frizzles, Cochins or possibly some other banty. That really dark chocolate colored egg-could it be a Maran? Will there be Sultans, Polish, Game or Favorelles coming? Oh, the anticipation!
When I got done with that I started thinking about the baby chicks we still have to order for our breeding and selling project. We should have them all come at the same time so we can keep them brooding together while they're still the same age and size. So I went ahead and ordered my babies. Not as exciting since I know what they will be and what they will look like. I ordered 50 Ameracauna girlies and one Ameracauna male, 50 Rhode Island Red pullets and one male, 3 Buff Orp girls and 1 boy. The order of RIRs will probably include some extra chickens humorously referred to as "packing peanuts" so that will be kind of fun. If the hatch goes okay and the mail order goes okay I'm looking at 147 chickens about February 23rd. How cool is that?
Tonight? Quiche.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mindless drivel

About mid-day I started getting the familiar pains that I know herald the beginning of an ovarian cyst getting ready to go south. I tried to tough it out, sometimes they go away without incident but this one is determined to go through the whole cycle so I took a pain pill and snuggled up to keep warm.
So, in the meantime, nicely stoned and toasty, I'm going to ramble a little....you don't mind do you?
I should be getting chicken eggs today or tomorrow that I will try to incubate into little chickens. How much fun will that be? Great opportunity for the kids too. We're getting some silkies, frizzles, sizzles and some mutts. Can't wait!
My own girlie chickens wanted out this morning though they usually abhor the cold weather. I see they're back in now. Must have decided that 10 degrees was not chicken weather. All 17 of them are laying and that hasn't happened in the winter any other year so I have to attribute it to the added warmth of the heat lamp in the coop. I know some people say heat is not necessary but apparently is for my girlies.
Recently connected with one of my cousins and it's been great fun catching up with her and finding out how similar we are after all this time apart. She's into gardening too so I'm going to send her some of my favorite seeds. It will be fun to compare the results she gets up there in fertile soil compared to my meagerly amended dirt and sand.
One of the kitties got hurt somehow. She limps badly and I'm worried that one of the many predators will make off with her. Naturally it's one of my favorite feral cats, if there is such a thing as a favorite wild animal. I should bring her in and try to tame her down and make her a house cat. Wonder how that will go over with Greg?
Well, I think I'll try to do Tarot homework! Nothing like reading the cards when you're under the influence.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A zen moment

Pardon me while I indulge in a little karmic philosophy for a few minutes.
It's our nature to judge, we do it without even thinking about it most of the time but my religion warns against judgment of others so I try very hard to never make assumptions about people.
Let me tell you a little story, get a drink and cozy up to me:
Once upon a time a little boy was born in a far away country. This infant was born desperately ill and was removed from the home of his incompetent parents for his safety. I was called since I was his only other relative and was asked to take him and of course I told them I would. We were investigated and checked and poked and prodded to make sure we could provide a home for this sick baby and by the time we were cleared and licensed they said the baby was too ill to ever be moved. Now what? About that time there was a widely publicized case of child abuse that involved a parent who killed his baby by swinging the infant by it's feet and bashing it's head against the walls of the room. I remember that several of the responding medical and police officials had to go to counseling after that call. It was that case that convinced me that as imperfect as I was at parenting I might be able to help some children see what "normal" families looked like and so we embarked on a fostering gig that changed all our lives.
So here's two small children who died very young and I never met either of them, yet they changed my life forever. In changing my life they also changed the lives of over 60 foster children and whoever those children later came in contact with. Here's a couple of sets of parents judged by one and all to be a waste of oxygen and while they ruined the lives of their children and their own lives in the process, they were the impetus behind positive ripples that will continue to expand across the world forever.
The next time you see someone or hear about someone who's doing or done something you don't understand try to remember that that person has or had a purpose. They may be the catalyst for change that makes us all better people.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just Farmin'

You know, I'll bet if I had a thousand acres of land I'd be sitting here wishing I had just another hundred acres so I could do more stuff. Maybe not, but if I had a dime for everytime I wished I had a few more acres .....I'd have a lot of dimes!
I need to be more grateful for what I do have. I'm living the dream here, I need to stop dreaming about more and more.
Okay, done with that little personal admonition. So, here's the plan. We're going to put up the other hoop house and put my chicken girlies in there. This accomplishes three things. Gives me more room to raise and breed chickens which has fast gone from a fun little hobby to a passion. It also gives Greg his shed back so he can store his....stuff. And it effectively limits how far my garden can continue to sprawl thus limiting the amount of work Greg has to do to dig it up every year. Ah, life is good. Now if I just had a few more acres I could get a cow and raise me some more fruit trees.....
Wow, that slap upside the head HURT! I'm thinking I'll keep my egg laying girlies and sell some eggs. They're laying like crazy and people like my eggs cause they're so PURTY. Then I'm thinking I'll start breeding some Ameracaunas and Rhode Island Reds. Those are the chickens I get the most requests for. So turkeys in one pen, egg layers in another and purebred chicks to sell and show in the last two pens. Sounds good!
With that in mind I got a beautiful, insanely handsome new roo yesterday. He's an Ameracauna and has most of the colors of the rainbow represented on his big, stout body. He's already taking to the position of head honcho what's in charge and he made sure all the girls were inside before he went in this evening. Of course then the girls rounded on him and started pecking on him but really, what man's life is complete without a little hen pecking? Seriously? I'm going to leave him in there with the girlies and hatch some of their fertile eggs just to see what kind of pretty colored mutt chickens I get and whether they lay colored eggs or not.
I love my life.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Parental Pondering

Tomorrow is Mikey's sixth birthday. I tend to be a little overly sentimental so whenever one of my adopted kids has a birthday I spend a little time worrying about thier biological mothers. I wish they'd chosen to remain in contact in some way but I understand that there's a lot of guilt that comes with having a judge say you're unfit to parent.
I remember how horrified I was when I heard that Mikey's mother had said she was giving him up because she couldn't bear to look at him. Of course I was thinking of the physical presentation of his disorder. Having walked in her shoes (sort of) for the last five plus years I realize now that she was completely overwhelmed by the constant illness, the infinite number of surgeries, the hours that turn to days in the hospital, and never-ending doctor visits. As a single mother with other children she must have been so torn with guilt and terror as the mountain of responsibilities crushed her and pulled her in so many different directions. I'm sure that everytime she looked at his sweet face she was only reminded of the many things she hadn't done, the thousands of things she still had to do and how impossible it was for her to do them.
So when we blow out the candles tomorrow I'll be thinking of her and hoping that she knows he's healthy and happy now.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dreaming of Spring

Must be the three inches of glistening, new snow and the chilly 13 degree weather that has me in the mood for spring. I'm usually quite content with the winter season. It's a special time of quiet planning and reflection-like the Earth I gather my resources and get ready for then next period of growth and activity. But there's no rest for me this time. I'm restless and impatient for the new life of spring.
I've gathered my seeds and cataloged them to a spread sheet listing what kind of seed, where it came from and how long I've had it. Forty different breeds of tomatoes-mostly heirlooms, 11 kinds of peppers-from sweet bells to the hottest in the land, cucumbers for eating and cucumbers for pickles, 8 different melons, beans, peas, carrots, corn, my special Pinetree lettuce mix, herbs, onions, potatoes..... Have I forgotten anything? I gaze longingly at the seed catalogs stacked up beside my chair. Maybe some more strawberry plants....
Another two months until I can press those precious seeds into the starter mix and begin planting my tomatoes and peppers in their special room in the basement. Two months? Can I wait that long? Oh my goodness, I'm a fifty year old woman with eight kids! The one thing I should have mastered by now is the virtue of patience. And yet, I have to wonder if it wouldn't be worth the gamble to go ahead and start my seeds early. I could always heat the greenhouse, right?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Through the bathroom door....

I heard them come into the bedroom and stealthily approach the bathroom door. No, I don't have super-hearing, it's two 5 year olds and an 8 year old-how quiet can they be? From the other side of the door I hear:
"Do you think she's taking a big dump?"
"NO! Mommy never takes a dump, just Daddy."
"Yeah, (snicker) Daddy takes BIG dumps all day."
Trio of delighted giggles.
"Maybe the monster took her."
"No, monsters can't get in the house."
"Yeah, they live in the trees and only come out at night."
"See, it's daytime."
"Mommy's strong, she will kick monster's ass."
"OH, I'm telling! You said a BAD word."
"That's what Mommy says so it's okay."
"I'm still tellin'."
"Maybe she's hiding!"
"Mommy's don't hide, they love their kids and like to be with them."
So feeling more than a little guilty I emerged from my sanctuary, gave them all a hug and went back to the Mommy dance.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's in the cards....

I like to read Tarot cards. I'm not one of those nut jobs who can't take a step without looking to the cards to see if there's a mud puddle on the path but I enjoy seeing what they have to say.
Reading my cards today I asked about money. We've had one credit card company raise our interest rate though we've never been late on a payment and have always made bigger than minimum payments and I'm worried that the "BIG" credit card will be next. So I ask the cards about it. When you ask a financial question of the cards you expect disk or pentacle cards to turn and yet all my cards are cups. Though each card has it's own meaning pertaining to it's position the immediate answer I got was that I'm already rich beyond belief in love and that regardless of our financial future we'll be safe with that love to tide us over. Awwwww, that's wonderful and so true.
Still, kinda wish I'd had a card that said it was time to buy that lottery ticket.....