This week looks like it might be a good one. Moose, #4, and myself are already on to the itchy phase of healing (bee stings), which means they'll be better in no time! I've got two meetings lined up tomorrow to meet people to send Bacon and Wanda off to new homes. I had hoped to get something lined up for Donna and possibly Fabio too, but that person never got back to me. This Saturday Ginger Bear finally gets to go to his new home.
We had a bit of a rough day today. While #4 and I were in the side garden picking blueberries, Moose was sitting beside a mound of sod left over from last year when we prepared the garden space. He had his frisbee with him and was waiting for us to be done so I could throw it for him. The garden is fenced, so he was on the other side of the short fence. Suddenly he did some kind of spectacular side kick flip (quite a feat for a heavy bully-built dog like Moose). He then yelped, tucked his tail and ran like death was chasing him off and around the house. He's done this before and I recognized it immediately as a bee sting. I didn't think much of it. He probably tried to snap at it while it was flying by. But then at the same time I heard the buzzing and looked over to see his white frisbee go completely dark with swarming bees. This was only about three feet away from us, so I stood up and yelled for #4 to get up and run in the house as fast as she could.
I was too late. She looked up, hesitated a moment, and was covered in bees. I was already opening the garden gate on the opposite side, and as she ran through screaming and flailing. At this point I was alternatively telling her to stop yelling and flailing, while calling dogs and the other two kids who were out in the yard to come in. We converged at the doorway, three dogs, two kids, and me - barreling through and slamming the door behind us, #4 still wailing, and #5 not knowing why we were so frantic. We got in the house, and I found the other child who'd been outside, safely indoors. I tried to check what the damage was. Poor #4, I could see her nose swelling up under her glasses, tears streaming down her face, obviously trying not to scream as she indicated her forehead scalp area. There was a bee, caught in her hair, still stinging her. I grabbed a paper towel and removed it from her hair, while getting stung twice in the back by a bee that followed us in. As I was un-ensnaring #4's hair bee, #3 started shrieking in the other room. Another bee that had followed us in was caught in her shirt and she'd manage to pull her shirt away from her body with the bee tangled in the shirt, avoiding a sting. As I grabbed another paper towel and took care of that bee, I felt another sting to the back of my neck. I asked #1 to put some baking soda and water in a bowl to make a paste and pulled my own shirt off, revealing a sting to the arm, two in my armpit, two on my back, and fortunately the sting to my neck did not deliver any venom.
We patched up all of the stings with the paste and let it dry. This helps get out any stuck stingers or extra venom. I don't know if #4 will be able to wear her glasses to school tomorrow. She got stung right on the bridge of her nose and just beside her tear duct on her nose., she has a sting on one leg and the spot in her hair where the stuck bee was repeatedly stinging.
Once I got her calmed down, I turned my attention to the dog. Moose's right eye started to swell up, he was obsessively licking his side, and kept randomly running through the house like a maniac. He's got welts all over his back and sides, but after a few minutes he settled down for the most part. We peeked out the girls' bedroom window, where Moose's frisbee still sat, just a few feet away. It was close to 45 minutes after the initial stings when the bees stopped swarming over the frisbee.
We caught one of the bees that followed us in, and I put it in an old cinnamon container with the sprinkle lid so it would have air. #3 looked it up and identified the culprits as yellow jackets.
I'm so glad that nobody is allergic to bee stings!
Of course this puts me in a tough spot. I love nature, and firmly believe in the "they were here first" thought process. I would prefer to leave them alone and just let them be. Unfortunately they are right up in the yard, where our kids and pets play, literally feet from the house and the garden space. This hive is a (proven) danger to our homestead. With some sadness (yes, even after they stung us), I had Tony pick up hornet killer after work today and he will be spraying them down, hopefully in the morning. He was going to do it tonight but he couldn't figure out where their entrance is in the dark and he's hoping first morning light will help him pinpoint where to spray. I don't like using pesticides, and I don't like destroying wildlife. This one was a harder choice than it should be. But alas, safety is paramount.
My goal for this week is perhaps a bit lofty, but I hope to go through the seed collection and get it reorganized and put back together. It's gotten a little spread out and messy and even when it's neat and tidy it can be daunting to find what I want. The collection has become a bit of a hoard. On the plus side, I have instructed my family to donate the collection (less whatever they want for their own personal use) to Seed Savers when I die. I've got some fairly rare varieties in there that may be of better use in the hands of professional growers. And who knows? Maybe by the time I die some of the common ones won't be so common anymore. Or better yet - maybe the rare ones won't be so rare anymore. But either way, the entire collection will be donated upon my death to help preserve biodiversity. I only hope at least some of it ends up being useful to someone.
I also have a laundry basket full of clothes the kids have decided either they don't want, or they don't fit in anymore. I have to go through it all and figure out what is too stained, torn, cut, or damaged to be of any use (crafting materials), and what looks good enough to sell or donate. I see a couple of coats in there. I should call the local charity that does the coats for kids thing around Christmas and see how I can donate them.
Toby went largely untrained for the several months I was so sick. I'm making up for it now. Toby usually sleeps in a crate. He tends to chew on things and often can't "hold it" for long periods. Some mornings he would start to pee at the door in his excitement to get outside, and leave a trail as he ran out the door (even if the door was open when he got to it). I'm so happy to say that the last two nights, Toby has been allowed free roam of the house. He hasn't been crated at all in several days now outside of bedtimes last week. He's only had one accident in the house, and I'm not sure why he did because he'd been going out regularly. Either way... progress! He's also very much enjoying sleeping in the bedroom with Tony and I and Arya.
Which reminds me. Ditto is now fantastic with dogs! She slowly came around and she now plays with the dogs. She'll bat at their snouts (no claws) to instigate play, and then they will mouth her (open mouth, not biting down). It's adorable. I have a video of Toby and Ditto playing on my TikTok (thatpetlady) if anyone wants to go look it up.
I'm still discussing with Tony on what we should do with Luna's kittens. They're nearing the eight week mark where they can start finding homes, but none have homes lined up yet. It's getting cold out, and a big part of me wants to bring them indoors... but our house is full now and packing in six more kittens doesn't seem like a great idea. I mean, when Ditto came in the house she didn't have any siblings - it was just one kitty and she was already well past eight weeks old. At least the kittens have been using the litter box in the screen porch so we know they're capable of using one if they come inside. Ideally I'd just like to find them all homes. That would solve the problem!
I got a really nice photo of Aziraphale yesterday. He's our Silver Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben (pretty sure he's a rooster). We also have two young Golden Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben roosters. We call them Crowley and David Tennant. If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to sell them to someone who's not going to eat them. I want to keep them, but I love most of my roosters and would end up with way too many boys if I kept them all. They're all getting along well so far, but none are mature enough to be courting the ladies yet. David Tennant is gorgeous but part of the back of his crest goes backwards. Crowley would be a better option if you want to breed to standard. I'd keep Crowley and Aziraphale if I had hens to pair them to.
I also snapped a couple updated photos of Wanda and Waldo since their ears have largely gone back up again. Someone seems interested in taking Waldo next week if we can line up schedules. That would save me from having to set up another individual cage.
A couple of things happened today that made me realize that I really need to focus on alternate ways to earn income on a regular basis. The couple of dollars from RedBubble isn't paying the bills, and we are really heavily relying on my husband's job. What happens if he gets hurt and can't work? What happens if his hours get cut? What happens if something happens to our vehicle and he can't get to work (or home from work) for a while? Since the car died last month we've been on a tight budget. A big thanks to my mom who paid for the RenFest adventure for #2's birthday - otherwise we wouldn't have been able to go. I need to focus on diversifying our additional income.
I could write a book full of income diversity ideas... sell firewood, rabbit manure, rabbit pelts, rabbit feet keychains, baked or canned goods, flowers, vegetables from your garden, extra fruit from your orchard... rent out a portion of your property to photographers for wedding or graduation photos, lease a portion of your land to a hay grower, sell chicken and duck eggs or hatchlings... Sell your services - whatever you might be talented at. Knit, crochet, metalworking, blacksmithing, painting, website building, seamstress work, car repairs, cage and coop building, or writing guides. Sell stuff from the end of your driveway, or at a local farmer's market. Get into bees and honey production, or get goats and rent them out to people to help clear land. Breed rare breeds of animals, or breed angora animals and sell their wool. Offer on-farm classes, or farm-to-table dinners. Check local restaurants to see if you can sell your eggs/veggies/greens to them. And yet despite this vast well of ideas, I can't seem to make any work for us and our homestead.
With Facebook stopping animal sales, rabbit sales have become a trickle. I sold Ebony yesterday, but it's been a while since the last rabbit sale, and at $15 and $20, each rabbit sale buys one bag of feed, which lasts 3 days or so... So unless I'm selling at least two to three rabbits a week, I'm bleeding money and it's not even the cold season yet! With my ongoing health issues and my current inability to lift much, I'm going to have to make drastic cuts to our herd. I've got ads posted on Craigslist, Hoobly, and here on the rabbits page, but alas, not much luck moving them.
I had decent luck selling hatching eggs and chicks this spring, but that's seasonal and again, with Facebook cracking down, it's harder to find animal buyers. Our flock is mixed, so we don't have any purebred eggs/chicks. We tried separating the trio of French Black Copper Marans out, but as soon as we did, one of them became an egg eater. All three are going to the processing place this fall with the meat birds.
I can't rent out part of our property or have on-farm classes because of our dogs. They don't exactly enjoy company. I'm also paranoid about biosecurity, so it would be a nightmare with a free-range flock to have people coming on the property.
I need to focus on what I CAN do. I'm good at crochet. I've finished four blankets this year. I'm good at making cat toys. I'm learning how to re-purpose old clothes into purses and bags. I have an eye for photography, but I don't know how to sell my photos outside of Redbubble. I'm an expert at all things cat and dog, but again, I'm not sure how to turn that into a business model. I wrote a guide to cat behavioral issues, but I have no idea how to publish it or promote it. I could always fall back on my old stand-by of selling leftover garage sale junk online, but with the increases to postage in recent years, it's getting harder and harder to sell less valuable items (which is the bulk of my sales). On the plus side, I have a lot of inventory to move, and kids are constantly outgrowing their clothes, so it's a never-ending supply.
I think once I get in the swing of things with all the kids in school this year, perhaps I can focus on getting stuff in the Bonanza shop again. That might be a good first step anyway. It would also help me de-clutter again.
I made goulash for dinner tonight and all of the kids had seconds! Success! Here's the recipe:
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 onion (chopped)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp garlic salt
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1-1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes (drained)
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) whole sweet corn (drained)
2 tsp Better Than Bouillon (organic beef) mixed into 16 oz boiling water
2 boxes of mac & cheese (take out the cheese packets - you don't need them)
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Mix the garlic, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
Step 2: Mix the Better Than Bouillon and hot water in a large (glass) mixing bowl. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and corn. Stir and set aside.
Step 3: In a large pot (I used a family sized wok), cook your beef and chopped onions. Cook until hamburger is brown (3-5 minutes on medium). Drain extra grease if there is any.
Step 4: Add in the seasoning and garlic mix. Stir and cook for another minute.
Step 5: Stir in the vegetable and broth mix. Bring to a simmer.
Step 6: Add macaroni noodles (do not use the cheese sauce packet). Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes. Stir frequently to assure all noodles get cooked evenly and nothing sticks to the bottom.
Step 7: Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. Refrigerate any leftovers and use within 3-4 days.
I did modify this recipe from the original one I found (which you can find HERE). I think it turned out great. The kids asked for seconds and cleaned their plates. There was just enough left over that tomorrow I can heat it up, put it between two slices of bread, and call it a sandwich. Tonight we have one teenager and my husband not at the table - so this recipe fed one adult, two teenagers, and two grade-school children.
Welcome to September already! Temperatures are cooling down, the leaves will soon start changing colors, and before we know it, we'll be in the bitter grip of winter again. School starts this week. I'm both excited and anxious. All of the school open houses, teacher meetings, and kindergarten screenings are done. Backpacks are packed, some are already in lockers dropped off on open house days. The bus driver has called with the new pick up time. All of the new school clothes are folded and put away, awaiting the school year. Schedules are printed, locker combinations have been tested, and the kids have connected with friends once again and compared schedules and lunch times. The kids are excited to head back to school.
Yesterday Tony and I took the two oldest kids (#1 and #2) to the Renaissance Festival. It was so much more enjoyable without the little kids. I've never gone without little ones, so this was a real treat. I love seeing the vendors, the entertainers, and the costumes. I always ogle the beautiful dresses in the shops. I have neither the body, nor the pocket book, for such beautiful things. This weekend the theme was Bellies and Beer I think, but they were having a costume contest: Steampunk. I admit, I love the aesthetic of gears and old fashioned things, so we scheduled our trip accordingly.
While there we watched the costume contest, Danger Committee, and Puke & Snot. We tried to watch the jousting but it was so crowded we couldn't see anything and the announcer's microphone was cutting out badly, so we couldn't even hear what was going on. Not a big loss though, we've watched the jousting before. I love seeing the dogs that people bring. We saw German shepherds, great Danes, Irish wolfhounds, huskies, malamutes, great Pyrenees, and more. At one point #1 just rolled her eyes and said "Mom, quit pointing out every dog you see and saying what breed it is..." We walked past the little exotic zoo, and the pen right out in front had white geese just a hair smaller than our embdens. As we got closer I realized what they were and got excited. I pointed to the gorgeous curled feathers and exclaimed "Sebastapol geese!" to which my daughter replied "Of course you'd see geese and know what breed they are..." We all have talents and passions, mine just happens to be knowledge about animals. We had a good laugh about that.
Not to feel left out, Grandma took the three younger kids (#3, #4, and #5) to the zoo. I'm told it was crowded but fun. The zoo was having some kind of promotion where they invited people to enjoy the zoo with various "local heroes" - police men, EMTs, firemen, etc. Apparently it brought in quite a crowd.
On Friday I dug up the King Edward potatoes. I failed miserably at gardening this year, and despite not doing anything to my potato towers (like, not raising it and adding dirt like I needed to, never watering it, and letting the grass grow long around the towers), this variety managed to produce some good sized fingerling potatoes.
I still have two more potato towers with other varieties that haven't died back yet. I'll have to wait a bit longer to see if those ones produced anything. It's worth noting that I did end up throwing out about four potatoes because they were turning green from sun exposure. The shallow soil had allowed the potatoes to push up above the soil, and green potatoes are not edible. I will try to do better next year.
I have started a GoFundMe campaign to try to help pay for getting Luna and Gypsy and all the kittens spayed and neutered. I calculated it out and it's going to cost more than $2000 for just basic vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries for nine cats. That doesn't include the $64 per microchip, the $3 for worming medicine, the $5 collar, or the cost of food and litter. My thought is that if we can get them all spayed and neutered, even if we can't find them homes, we won't have to worry about having a ton more next spring. Don't get me wrong, kittens are fun, but we have more than enough as it is.
Let me start out by saying, Amos is doing great! He's not fond of his eye medicine, but he's gotten a lot better at letting me put it in and even snuggles with me after getting medicated. He's such a trooper. Now I need to save up for the cost of the surgery he's going to need to pull his two retained kitten teeth and to (permanently) fix his eyes to prevent future infections. I did not ask the vet what the cost would be, but given the cost of other anesthesia procedures I've had to pay for in the past, my guess will be something in the $200-$300 range. If anyone wants to donate toward Amos's surgery, please let me know. I would be thrilled to get this done soon to get it out of the way, but my bank account can't support it right now.
I attempted to update the kitten page, only to realize I didn't have any really good clear photos of the kittens on my phone. Time for an impromptu photo session in the screen porch! You can see their beautiful faces on the Kittens page, but to save you the click, here are their best photos.
Luna's litter is five and a half weeks old now. I'm a little torn at this point. I want them to stay with Luna as long as possible for proper mental, emotional, and physical health. They live in the screen porch, which is not heated. The low temperatures are going to be in the 40's and the highs are quickly dropping from the 70's to the 60's, and possibly into the 50's in the near future. I had planned to bring Hanzo and Tracer in the house as soon as they were weaned. Tracer because she's slower than the other kittens (developmentally it would seem), and needs to be in a safer environment than outdoors. Hanzo because he hates dogs and needs to have some more time spent with them to get him over it. Ditto is doing a lot better with the dogs now than she did when she first came in the house, which gives me hope for Hanzo. But now I'm wondering if I should bring all of them indoors. This would defeat the entire purpose of having Mei as a barn cat so I didn't want to bring her in if I could help it... but I also don't want her to freeze to death.
I think part of the issue is that when we first got Gypsy and Luna, it was something like September and the vet told me that spring kittens make good barn cats, but fall kittens don't usually survive their first winter. We spent the whole first winter trying to find a balance between keeping the kittens outside and acclimated to the cold, but also bringing them into the porch where it was at least a bit warmer (which they hated). I lament that Mei was not born in the spring. As much as I adore her, it may just be that she will also need to find a home where she can live indoors and be pampered. My husband is not a fan of the idea of bringing six more kittens into the house (I have to agree with him). Our house is plenty full as it is, and with school right around the corner, kids will have less time to do chores, leaving more of it to me to keep up on. Do I want to scoop enough litter boxes every day to keep an additional six kittens in the house? No, I really don't. Will I? Yes, if it means they are safe. Someone please adopt some kitties!
I'm still trying to figure out a price for these kittens. With Floki's kittens we just waited until they were six months old and took care of all of their vet work up front. Every kitten was vaccinated, dewormed, microchipped, and spayed/neutered before they left. I liked knowing that they were set for at least their first year when handing them off to their new families, but it's a lot of work (and expense) to care for kittens for six months. We lost our hats on expenses selling each kitten for $250 (and Ginger Bear is still looking for his forever home). I'd like to find Gypsy and Luna's kittens homes sooner than that, but not step back from the responsibility of having brought these extra animals into the world. So what is a fair price? An exam fee is around $20-$30, plus the cost of their PRC vaccine (need at least two). I don't have that cost off the top of my head, but I think it's around $20. That means if you start vaccinating at 8 weeks old, you've already sunk $80-$100 into two vaccination visits by 10 weeks old. At 12 weeks old, they're old enough for the $15 rabies vaccine (our vet does not charge an exam fee for a rabies vaccine). That brings us up to $95-$115 invested in medical care by 12 weeks old (per kitten). This doesn't include food, cat litter, the collar, cleaning supplies, or the time and energy put into socializing them. Add in the $64 our vet charges for microchipping, and we're at $159-$179 (each). If they don't find a home by six months old, add up another two months of food, litter, toys, and cleaning supplies, and tack on the $70 neuter or $130 spay cost. Now we're up to $229-$249 for a male, and $289-$309 for a female in vet bills alone. Once you add in the costs for food, litter, cleaning supplies, collars, toys, and incidentals... You can see how it's difficult to keep a reasonable price when costs are so high. I wish we had a low-cost spay/neuter program here where we could get kittens done before 5-6 months old. I'd make good use of it! Unfortunately, they're all over an hour drive away.
Last night I noticed that Amos was more lethargic than normal. When I picked him up he was dehydrated. His eyes were crusty, and when I went to clean him up he shied away from me. Now, he's never much cared for me messing with his eyes (he was born without eyes, so he can't see my hands, and I think it weirds him out), but he lets me clean him up usually. He wouldn't let me pull the crusty bits off his eyes. I pinned him down and tried to clean up one eye, but as I pulled some of the brown crusty stuff back, I noticed his eye socket was full of yucky stuff.
This morning he seemed a lot better. He'd cleaned himself up a bit, he had drank some and wasn't dehydrated anymore, but he wouldn't let me anywhere near his head. He didn't even want me to pet his cheeks or chin and would wince and shy away as though he was in pain. I called the vet and made an emergency appointment for later in the morning.
#4 and I walked to the vet with Amos in a carrier. I'm not sure what he thought of the trip. He was pretty quiet the whole time. When we got there he started purring. The vet took a good look at him, listened to his heart and lungs, checked his eyes, and his retained kitten teeth. She was going to prescribe the eye drops he had last time, but I told her we'd already tried them and they weren't helping. She gave us an ointment instead. Hopefully this will help him feel better soon. The vet did suggest possibly having the surgery I had wanted him to have originally. The one that would remove part of his inner eye and then sew the sockets shut to prevent future infections. That surgery does require general anesthesia though, so we plan to put him under one time and have both his eyes fixed and both of his retained baby teeth removed all in one go. It;ll be a rough time for him, but it will be better for him in the long run.
Amos' mom (Zombie) had a dental disease that caused her gums to literally eat away her teeth. We were looking at needing to pull all of her teeth before she passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I worry that Amos may have inherited this (as I believe that it can be genetic). This may just be the beginning of his dental adventures, but hopefully it will be the end of his eye troubles. I will have to call for a surgery appointment once his eye infection is under control. The good news is that he doesn't have a fever, so it's not a systemic infection yet! We caught it early! He should make a full recovery.
Unfortunately, I had to dip into my emergency money to pay for this vet bill. I hate using my emergency money, but Amos needed to see the vet. If anyone is interested in buying a rabbit to help cut my costs and put a little money back in the emergency fund, I'd really appreciate it. The visit today was $45, and the surgery will no doubt be a lot more expensive. I'm looking for more stuff I can potentially sell to try to make some money back, but I'm kind of lost on what I can sell... I'm not so great with advertising so I end up not selling as much as I probably could if I was more skilled in getting my stuff out there. Anyone have tips on good places to advertise or better ways to get more relevant audience views?
I am so excited to announce the arrival of four new birds to the homestead. Today we picked up three absolutely gorgeous barred rock roosters, and one stunning Silver Seabright bantam rooster. Here's the video I took when we got them home (still in the carrier). That little crow is so precious, I just adore him already! These guys don't have names, but I'm really hoping the little guy gets along with Sherlock so he can stay here.
I set aside the pink blanket project pending finding more variegated purple yarn to finish it. I started the much anticipated blanket for my own bed. Given the initial snuggles here, I say the color is Ditto approved.
I bought eight skeins of this yarn because the other big blanket averaged just shy of a full skein for each 6-7" color stripe. I may have counted wrong though. I'm 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through this first skein and I've only got about 3 inches. These skeins are a lot smaller than the ones I've been working with and I'm not sure why. I wish yarn came in just standard - small, medium, large, and jumbo sized skeins. Each brand and each variety and sometimes even each different color seems to have their own different size. And of course I didn't bother to look at weight or length. Lesson for me to learn I guess. This project may become more expensive than initially considered. I'll have to eat the cost though because this one is for me and not something to sell. It looks pretty nice so far!
I went ahead and bumped Ditto's fee up to $100 and I will make the appointment to get her rabies vaccination when I can. Then we will use the deposit money once we find a suitable home, to get her microchipped before she leaves. The vet charges just a little less for microchipping when the cat is already under anesthesia for spay, so by putting it off, we could potentially save a couple dollars by doing the microchip when she's asleep for her spay surgery if she doesn't find a home before the end of November.
Luna's kittens are doing well for the most part. They walk around and explore the screen porch, and most of them are now sampling the hard food. Tracer remains the runt and is slow on all levels. She's a little slower moving, slower to wake up, slower to come to the food or water dish. She's still more interested in nursing and I've only seen her nibble hard food once or twice. I'm a little worried that she's slower in general (slower to grow), so I'm keeping a close eye on her. Needless to say, if she needs a little extra help along the way, we can step in.
My health issues continue, but not as severely. I am eating alright for the most part. I'm still limited on my food, but I'm not getting as sick from eating now. I've weaned myself off of pain medicine except when I have a flare up. I am able to get out of bed and at least be a little active - for longer periods of time than I have been for the past few months anyway. I'm still not to where I want to be. I still cannot do certain physical tasks. I can't lift or carry, I tend to hurt after raising my voice (like calling for the dogs to come in, or hollering for kids in another room). Turns out I also can set off a pain flare by struggling to open the salsa jar. Yeah, that happened yesterday. I feel so completely useless some days. If I need to refill the big food bins in the barn, I either have to ask someone else to bring the bags in and dump them in the bins, or I know I'm going to be in hours of pain for having just done it myself to save time. I want to muck the barn before it gets cold again, but I can't use the shovel for more than a couple minutes before I'm in extreme pain that lasts for hours. If I can't get my health issues in check I may have to re-home more of my animals. I don't want to, but if I can't properly care for them, I may have to put their needs before my own. I wish the doctors would figure out what's wrong with me and how to help me. I just want to be able to do the things I could before... Lift, bend, shout, twist, sleep on my back, open a jar of salsa...
I wish I had more photos to share today. I'll try to get a photo of how close to completed I am with the pink blanket, and maybe an update photo on my progress on the new blanket. I just started it yesterday, so it won't be much, but any progress is still progress, no matter how little, right?
Tonight it's supposed to dip down into the 40's. I've closed the windows for the night. I wouldn't mind so much one or two nights that got a little chilly - we do have blankets and can put on an extra layer of clothing until the house warms up (or have an excuse to bake cookies or something). Unfortunately we also have hairless cats who don't do so well with cold temperatures. This will be our first winter without Henry, but he'd get sick every time the temperature touched 65=degrees. We had to keep the house heated above that all winter to keep him from getting sick. I suspect his daughter (Sage) has taken on this trait. The windows were open a couple days ago when it got colder than expected (or I'd have shut the windows then too), and she's starting to have a flare up again. Her eyes are goopy and she's sneezing more. I'm going to have to bring her back to the vet for yet another round of antibiotics. Poor thing. This was the longest she's gone between needing antibiotics. It's been several months. All summer really. She definitely needs a home that will pamper her and maybe even put her in little sweaters or something.
I'm still trying to find homes for Ginger Bear, Netherquartz, Sage, and Ditto. I think they're all awesome kitties, but I'm also sure that someone else could provide better for them, and we need to downsize. We have too many cats. Especially with my own ongoing health battles, I want to make sure they're getting the care they deserve. If you are looking to adopt a kitty, or know someone who is, please send them our way! We have boys and girls, a variety of colors and temperaments, and prices vary from $30 (less than 12 weeks, no shots provided), up to $1200 (for our dear high-maintenance Sage). See the Kittens page for photos of all of them!
And let's not forget the bunnies! We have all kinds of bunnies from 6 weeks up to a year old ready to go right now! We have Peanut, our lover boy who needs an indoor home. We have Wanda and Waldo, the Holland Lop / Jersey Wooly crosses. We have Ebony and Blanche, the New Zealand / Californian crosses. We have Princess Poppy's litter of four (Californian / New Zealand cross), and Donna - the last doe from last year's colony litters. If she doesn't go soon I'm going to breed her. We have Lorna still left from Snowflake's last litter, and Bacon, who is retiring from our program because she may be spayed. We also have several older bunnies I'd like to retire. We have Snowflake, Fern, Fabio, and Pocahontas (who technically never even bred, she was just a back up we don't need anymore). We have meat breeds, we have pet crosses, we have super tame sweethearts, and we have meat rabbits who've had less handling. We don't have any biters, but some are squirmier than others. The kids have been having fun holding all the babies and making sure they're friendly when they leave to new homes. Check out the Rabbits For Sale page to see them all! I will be working on getting the retiring breeders up on the for sale page as I am more serious about selling them now.
I forgot to call the vet last week to make an appointment for Ditto to get her rabies vaccination. I'll have to call on Monday. I've only had a couple of responses to her ad so far, and none of them have replied again once I get back to them. What am I doing to chase people away?
I got a message today from someone we sold a bunny to last year (I'm happy to announce that Ironman Tony Stark is doing well in his home one year in). We will be meeting them on Tuesday to pick up some new roosters. We don't really need any more roosters at the moment. We have Sherlock, Doodle, and Rock-a-Doodle, plus all of the birds we hatched out or got in hatchery boxes that turned out to be male. These four incoming roosters include three Barred Rock, and one bantam. I have to admit, that bantam in the photo is absolutely adorable. I'm kind of hoping he fits in with the flock... I did try to get a bunch of bantams this year but almost all of the chicks in that box died right away.
I finished the pink portion of the baby blanket project and went to use the purple yarn again for the top part, but I ran out. We went back to Walmart today (because that's where that skein of yarn came from originally), and lo-and-behold - they didn't have that kind in stock. Well, I suppose that means the project gets set on a back-burner for a while until I can find a way to acquire another skein of the variegated purple yarn I need to finish it. Ah the problems of doing projects with leftover yarn! If anyone is feeling super generous, I did find it on Amazon (though they only sell this color in three packs for some reason?) and added it to my wish list. You can find it HERE. I even marked it as "high" priority and wrote up a little description. Otherwise, I'll keep checking back at Walmart when we're in that area and see if I can catch it when it's in stock. I just looked it up on their website and sure enough it's listed as out of stock in both Brainerd and Wadena. It says they have one in stock in Little Falls, but we almost never drive that way.
We are planning to take the oldest kids to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival before school starts next month. If I haven't been able to track down a skein by then we will see about stopping on our way down.
Yesterday I tried my luck on half meds. I only took pain medicine every 6 hours, and I did alright. Unfortunately, about 3am this morning I was in pain again and had to take more meds. I've had escalating pain all day today, particularly after doing barn chores - where I hauled a 40-pound bag of rabbit food across the yard, moved both the rabbit tractors to new grass, re-did the metal and wood roofing on the meat chicken tractor, and attempted to move the tractor (unsuccessfully). Lifting seems to be my nemesis. Back on every 3-hours pain meds I go.
I'm down to 13 meat chickens and they're all small and sickly looking. Despite following all of the guides and suggestions, giving free feed all day and no feed at night, fresh water all the time, glass and weeds to browse, protection from the rain and predators... they just keep dying! Not only that but we are now WAY past the nine weeks it was supposed to take to get them full grown and they're still only "game hen" size. I'm feeding them the meat maker high protein food they're supposed to have. What am I doing wrong? Why are they dying at such a steady rate and why aren't they growing properly? At this rate it's going to be a total loss if I wait for them to reach a good roasting size. Any tried and true advice from folks who've raised meat birds?
I got a little more crochet time in on the pink blanket I've been working on lately. I should be able to finish it this weekend (I hope). I'll be excited to share a finished photo soon anyway!
Today we did a little experiment with Luna's kittens. They'll be four weeks old tomorrow. Today I brought Toby (our youngest puppy) into the screen porch and let him meet the kittens. Then we let Arya (Saint Bernard pup) in. Then eventually Moose too (our adult dog). We discovered that three of the kittens don't care about dogs at all. Genji, Mercy, and Lucio don't seem to mind when the dogs come up and lick them or sniff at them. Tracer moves a little slowly yet and got stepped on by Arya a couple times, but didn't seem any worse for it. Mei isn't a fan of dogs, but will only hiss when they get in her face. If they walk by her she won't seek them out. Hanzo on the other hand... Hanzo actively hates the dogs and will follow them to hiss and swat at them even if they are not paying attention to him. We are already working on this. By the time we let the dogs out, #3 had Hanzo and Toby together in her lap without an issue. Yay for small victories!
Rascal escaped his cage again. He learned how to pull his food bin into the cage and escape through the hole by watching Peanut in the cage beside him. I latched Peanut's food bin differently this time, with one side hooked one bar higher, keeping is ever-so-slightly off-balance, and he hasn't managed to pull it in yet. I really think Peanut needs a home where he can have a whole room (or better yet, an entire house or apartment) to run and play in. He doesn't seem happy locked in his cage, but he never really goes very far. He checks out the other bunnies, and jumps right back into his cage to see what we're doing when we put his food bin back in place. No chasing required. Rascal on the other hand doesn't go back as willingly and does need two people to catch him - one to distract and guide and the other to sneak up and pick him up.
I noticed recently that Amos has retained both of his top canine kitten teeth, which are starting to look a little discolored and his breath smells a little off. I'm going to have to call the vet to see about having them removed. I'm considering bringing him to a different vet to get a second opinion on his eyes as long as he'll be sedated for the dental extraction. I love my regular vet, but they didn't even put their hands on him when they looked at his eyes. They pulled out a book, looked through the photos in the book and said "look like this one..." and called it good. Unfortunately, he continues to have yellow to brown discharge constantly, so I suspect he may need to have his sockets flushed out and his eyelids sewn shut to prevent future infection risk. The regular vet pretty much poo-poo'd me off for suggesting it.
Today my husband told me that his boss offered him a new position. He would still be a manager, just in a different part of the store. He's not sure if he wants to accept or not. It sounds like he's going to sit down next week with his boss to discuss what the new position would mean as far as changes in scheduling, pay, bonuses, and responsibilities. I'm always leery of change, but we could certainly use the combination of a raise and fewer hours so he could be home more and still be able to pay the bills. It's nearly unheard of for a family as large as ours to be able to live on one income, much less a non-trade-professional type income (my husband is not a lawyer or a doctor). We've been extremely fortunate for the combination of my husband's constant promotion through the ranks from morning stock boy, and our frugal living (for the most part). I always say - rather than "how to earn extra income on the homestead" people should be learning "how to budget better" or "how to cut costs on the homestead." Finances go so much further when you don't have to pay for alcohol, tobacco products, make up, eating out, cable television, internet services, salon/spa/tanning trips, name-brand clothing, etc.
I took this first photo on the 12th. I was so proud of how far I'd come with it. But then I couldn't sleep, so I sat on the couch and kept working on it.
I finished it about 3am on the 13th! That's a fully completed baby blanket in under two weeks! Wow! I'm so impressed with myself!!
Now, I do have the really pretty yarn for my bedspread crochet blanket project, but I just wanted to do one more matching small (baby sized) blanket first. So I immediately - well, after I slept anyway - started a project to use some variegated pink yarn I had to make another baby blanket. I am cruising through it and having so much fun. If my fingers would stop going numb, I'd get through it a lot faster.
I had been toying with the idea of making videos of me crocheting stuff, but my kids are loud and my animals can be needy too. Today Tony took the kids out for dinner with his dad, so I had some time to play with. I did my first practice run of a live video on YouTube. Check it out HERE! I wasn't sure if I should chat while I worked or just stay quiet, so for this first one I was just quiet and let the natural noise around me be the soundtrack. Dogs barking, chickens, geese, turkeys, even the loon out on the lake decided to sing for a bit.
Later I tried a second time and this time I chattered away to myself. Check the second one out HERE. Which do you prefer?
My plan is to try to do a short live stream on YouTube every day once the kids head back to school. This will give me something to do, some relaxation time, and maybe get my mind off of being alone for the first time... All my babies off to school at the same time and nobody but the animals home with me all day. It's going to be a big change!
Yesterday we moved Luna's kittens from the barn to the screen porch. They stayed in the box with the pink pet bed all night but this morning they all crawled out and decided to take over the blanket beside the box.
There are six kittens in there. Three boys - Genji (orange), Hanzo (white with grey spot), and Lucio (dark tabby), and three girls - Mercy (solid white), Mei (calico), and Tracer (tabby and white). The kids named them after Overwatch characters. Yeah, we're gaming nerds.
And lastly, a bit of a (two-part) rant.
#1. If you reply to one of my ads and tell me you "need" an animal immediately, demand to meet in the next 24 hours, want my home address so you can come "right now" to get an animal, and don't have a single question about the animals, their temperament, their history (medical or genetic), or anything else - that's a huge red flag and I'm sorry, but we may not be the place for you to get a new animal. Anyone who's put an ounce of thought into the lifetime commitment of having a pet will want to know at least basic information, and won't want to rush into bringing home the first animal they can get their hands on. Second off, if you can't wait a couple of days to arrange something with our schedule, I can't help you. We have lives outside of the internet. We have work and family gatherings, appointments, and plans. Meeting people to sell animals is something we fit into those other schedules. We want good homes for our animals. We take the time to raise them, train them, tame them, love them. If you are not interested in the temperament of an animal that could spend the next decade in your household, and you want it right this instant, chances are you haven't really put a lot of thought into adding the animal to your household and you should slow down a bit and reconsider your motivations for getting the animal in the first place. As always, we reserve the right to turn anyone down, for any reason, with no explanation. Quite simply put, if we don't feel like a potential home has the animals' best interests in mind, or isn't a good match for that animal's needs or personality, we can (and will) refuse a sale. I'd rather take longer and keep trying to find a more suitable home than place an animal in a home that will potentially neglect, abuse, or abandon it.
#2. Please keep in mind that we have one weekday off per week, and that day is usually the day we run errands, do our weekly shopping, make our appointments, work on our homestead projects, and spend time together as a family. For this reason, we have a select area we are willing to meet people (Staples, Pillager, and Brainerd/Baxter). These are areas on our route. We cannot drive to Minneapolis, Duluth, Fargo, International Falls, Sioux Falls, or some other far flung place. It costs us time and money to travel and with five kids, that means not only gas money, but food and snack stops, potty breaks, and the inconvenience of taking that one day to travel rather than get our needs met. We can arrange such a travel to deliver an animal, but there will be a delivery fee involved to help offset costs, and chances are it will be a lot more than the animal is worth (especially for a $15 rabbit). Unless you want to pay an additional $75 to meet in St. Cloud, or an additional $250 to meet in Minneapolis, paid up front in advance, and scheduled a couple weeks in advance - please don't ask. Remember, our location is clearly listed in all of our ads, and you chose to respond to our ad. I'm clear on where we are available to meet.
I don't mean to be rude, but I've gotten three such requests this week. Most of the people we interact with are amazing people. I love meeting people and handing off animals for their next adventure. We're pretty open with the kinds of people we work with. We've sold rabbits to be homestead breeders, we've sold rabbits to be indoor pets, we've sold rabbits to be emotional support animals, and we've sold our losses to folks who use them as snake or dog food. We really do love the variety of people this homesteading life has allowed us to meet. Unfortunately, sometimes we get some bad apples in the mix, and it can be really frustrating.
Super short blog tonight... Two days ago we re-bred all the same does again and Feather and Peanut had a falloff, but nobody else seemed interested. I need to update the dates for potential litters.
Today Umeko and Hoshi went to their new home.
My tummy hurts and I'm having trouble concentrating so I'm going to try to get some sleep. Hopefully I'll have a better blog tomorrow.
Yesterday I got the first handful of packages from the penny auctions I won on eBay. These are the pendants I bought for the crafting challenge.
I bought a bunch of cheap pendants on eBay. They'll be placed into a bag and when we have the time and money, those who want to participate will be given a set amount of money ($5 or $10), and when we get to the craft store, each person will pull a pendant at random from the bag. They will then select beads and accessories to make a necklace for the pendant. Once complete they will have to sell the finished necklace. Whoever makes the best profit wins. Even little #5 is excited to try his hand at jewelry design, though he will need help selling whatever he makes. He says he just wants to make enough to buy a big bucket of cheese puffs. At least he has a goal in mind.
Yesterday I got a box from Amazon. I thought it might have been the sweater we bought for #1, so I gave her the box. She was disappointed to find it full of yarn. My back-ordered yarn - all eight skeins - arrived! I'm so excited, but I'm still not done with the blue baby blanket yet, so it'll have to wait for now.
Today I emailed back and forth with someone interested in buying Hoshi and Umeko. We're scheduled to meet them on Saturday. Yay! They're so cute, I'm a little surprised they stayed here this long. I'm glad they're heading off together. They do seem to be good friends.
One of the kids' friends gave us several garbage bags full of second hand clothing recently. Today the kids went through and picked out what they wanted. There's a small pile of "leftover" clothing that either doesn't fit anyone, nobody wanted, or was badly damaged. Some of it (largely the stuff too stained or holey to be usable) will be used for craft projects. The rest we will pass along to someone else - and if I can't find any friends or family that can put it to good use, we can always bring it to the Salvation Army thrift store. Pass it along to someone who needs it, right?
Today Morgana the indoor gosling kept escaping the brooder box she's been living in with roommate Ping (the duckling). Ping panics and cries when Morgana is out of sight, and I can't have a goose wandering around my house pooping as she goes... So today was the sad day when Ping and Morgana moved to the barn brooder. The weather has been nice outside and there's a heat lamp out there in case it gets chilly. They have plenty of space. I just hope big Morgana doesn't trample the last of the baby chicks in the brooder out there.
I don't have much else to report tonight. I did not make it outside today (#3 did barn chores), but I did manage to make dinner (chili) and take a shower. Yay for self care!
Today was a good day as far as my activity level and health. I went outside and managed to get half the barn chores done. Everyone got watered, I fed the chickens, and I talked #3 into feeding all the rabbits.
I pointed and she hauled bunnies around. We paired Kaelyn to Servine, Fern to Mister Cellophane, Spotty to Fabio, Lilith to Rascal, and Feather to Peanut. Unfortunately, by the time I got out to the barn it was 90-degrees out and none of the does was having any part of lifting. I doubt any of them actually got bred. Perhaps if I have time and energy tomorrow I can pair them up again.
I went into the colony building and fetched out the two babies. They're over three weeks old now and looking much better than they were before. We've named the brown and white girl Eeyore, and the tan and white boy (Winnie the) Pooh. She has crimped whiskers and wavy fur but doesn't have soft or dense fur. I am considering keeping her back since the last brown one we kept back didn't make it and we did lose one of our breeders to mastitis this year. I'm still thinking about it. I do plan to pull them out on Saturday and put them in the grow out cage since that worked well with the last litter.
Our vehicle needs repairs. Yesterday while parking the car as he pulled in to work, it made a loud sound. He and another employee who was nearby both stopped to investigate because "it sounded like I hit something, but I hadn't." Then on his way home from work today his reverse went out. I didn't even know that could be a thing, but apparently it can, and ours did. Our poor vehicle can no longer move backwards. Fortunately tomorrow is Tony's day off so he's going to try to get it in for repairs tomorrow. Crossing our fingers it can be repaired quickly and affordably.
I started a smaller blanket project a couple days ago to tide me over until the back-ordered yarn for my next full blanket project arrives. I had planned to use up the last of a couple skeins of gender-neutral colors, but after about 6 inches of striped colors I realized I wasn't going to have enough to do a full baby blanket, since #1 talked me into making the blanket twice as long as I had planned. Today I figured out a way to get around the conundrum. I'm not crocheting in light blue. I have a large skein of it just sitting around and can use it to fill space. When I get about 6 inches from the size I want the blanket to be, I will use the last of the original skeins to mirror the stripes I started with. This should prevent me from running out and having to buy new skeins of the same color (which would negate the entire point of the project to use them up), and keeps the blanket from looking too busy with constant color changes. Also, the yarn I'm using up on the stripes is considerably softer than the light blue yarn, which means if used by a baby, the softer end portions would be in contact with baby's face, while the slightly rougher portion would be over baby's clothing. I'm sure after a wash or two it would be soft too. I got a shipping notice that the first skein of the new yarn shipped yesterday (they had one in stock and the others were back-ordered). I think I will wait until all of the skeins are on hand just so I don't end up with a started project that gets set aside in case the back order gets bumped even further back (as it looks to have been already). This will give me a little more time to work on this impromptu baby blanket.
Ditto continues to do well as an indoor kitty. She is using the litter box exclusively and is becoming more tolerant of Moose. She remains scared of the two puppies (Arya and Toby), but they're big and bouncy and don't respect boundaries, so I understand how she feels about them. Perhaps a couple of good claw swats to their noses will give them the attitude adjustment they need. For now though I just try to keep them away from her so she feels more at home. Moose laments that he can no longer nap on the couch, as Ditto has claimed the couch as her official nap spot.
We never did find any sign of Carbon or Tigerlily. After some consideration and weighing how much I trusted my marriage. I made the executive decision to make Ditto an indoor kitty until we can find her a new permanent home. As of yesterday afternoon, Ditto has been living in the house with us. I did not discuss this with Tony. He was only a little surprised when he came home yesterday and found her asleep on the couch. He's not thrilled, but he's tolerant of the idea.
Ditto has been spending most of her time napping on the couch, playing with a little crochet toy I made for her, and getting pampered by the kids (who fight over who gets to pet her). We've had to make it a universal rule that they can't pick her up - but if she comes to them they can pet her... just so she can make her own choices.
Much to my delight she has taken to the litter box right off the bat and hasn't had any accidents yet. She hasn't clawed the furniture, despite having ample opportunity to do so. We are keeping her separate from the other cats, just to make her life easier. Our dominant girl doesn't do well with newcomers, so for her own safety, Ditto won't be joining the rest of the house cats. We gave her a collar today. The kids found it in the cupboard. I'm pretty sure it was Henry's old collar. I'm glad it can find use again.
To anyone interested, little Ditto is available to an approved indoor home right now for $30. That price includes one round of de-wormer, one round of flea/tick prevention, her collar, her toy (unless she loses it before then), and a baggy of food to get her transitioned. As if mid-August she will be old enough for her rabies vaccination. At that point her fee will go up to $100. If she's still here when she's six months old we will get her spayed and microchipped. Then her fee will go up to $250 to cover expenses.
But seriously, someone please adopt her. She's the biggest cuddle bug with the wildest play drive I've seen in a long time. She plays until she's exhausted, then she naps hard until she's good and rested to do it all again. The one downside is that she is not bashful about using her claws. She does get startled sometimes, she's not fond of the dogs (especially the two pups who are huge to her and boisterous), and sometimes she mistakes fingers for toys and will pounce - with claws. I have not attempted to clip her claws yet, but plan to make that a project in the coming days. I did make a couple TikTok videos with her, so if you have the app, look us up (thatpetlady).
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.