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!
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.
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.
I slept in today. Between five kids, a husband, barn chores, pets, and everything else, it's rare that I get to sleep in. And by sleep in I mean sleep until I wake up naturally feeling refreshed and well rested. No alarms, no appointments, no kids jumping into bed with me to ask if I'll make them breakfast. Tony got up with the kids, everyone had breakfast, and when I finally rolled out of bed, I went downstairs to find #4 washing the dishes for me! Great way to start the day!
Barn chores went fast because #4 came out to feed everyone while I broke ice out of and refilled water bowls. I noticed that Servine is looking thin, so I asked her to give him an extra scoop of food. When I walked by his cage when I was done (I always re-check everyone before I leave the barn to make sure nobody got forgotten), he was sitting in the corner of his cage, his food dish upside down. Silly rabbit spilled his food, but as I reached in to turn the food dish right side up, it moved! Here he had dipped his chest fur in his water bowl and then gone back to eating, and had managed to freeze his fur to the metal food bowl. He's slightly less furry now, but I replaced his metal bowl with a stainless steel bowl that won't be as easy to stick to. I gave him a full refill (plus a scoop) to make sure he had enough. I'm sure the chickens will take care of the pellets he spilled under his cage.
We got five eggs today. No blues, and no dark browns. There was one duck egg but it was frozen and cracked, so I tossed it in the compost pile.
This evening we had dinner at my parents' house. We brought Moose along to play with their bloodhound, Daisy. They're both pretty decent sized dogs, and when they get to playing, they're all over the place. It'll be nicer I think in the summer when they can play outside in the sun when it's warm. Right now Daisy can only go outside for a few minutes at a time before she gets too cold. Moose is used to being outside for 35-45 minutes at a time while I'm doing barn chores (as long as it's not too cold, then he stays inside).
All together, a wonderful day. I'm tired and ready for bed, so this is a short blog for today.
Tomorrow kids go back to school and, depending on how he's feeling, perhaps #5 and I can get started with winter sowing. He loves to look through seed catalogs and pick out the photos of things he wants to try planting. He must think it's magical that so often I have the varieties he points out. I know he really wants to grow a lot of fruits and berries. Perhaps we can get some blueberries, goji berries, apple trees, and such started. He wants to do strawberries, but I have never had much luck with them winter sowing. The first year we got Yellow Wonder and White Soul strawberries to germinate, but since then I've had complete failures in all strawberry jugs (and I've sown them every year). Maybe we could set up a seed starter tray indoors and try for some strawberries inside.
Merry Christmas Eve! As promised, I'm including my favorite cookie recipe in the blog today. Here goes!
Piscachio Crescent Cookies
2 cups flour
2 cups pistachio (finely chopped)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Mix flour, 1-1/2 cups pistachio nuts, powdered sugar, and salt. Mix well.
2. Beat 1 cup butter until fluffy.
3. Add flour.
4. Beat in mini chocolate chips.
5. Roll 1-1/2 teaspoon dough into 2-1/2 inch ropes and bend into crescent shapes. Chill 30 minutes on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
6. Bake at 300* for 10 minutes. Let cool.
7. Melt semi-sweet chips and 1/4 cup butter in microwave on low for 1 minute.
8. Dip one end of cookie in chocolate, then remaining pistachio nuts. Let rest until set.
*Recipe Notes: Keep the chocolate melted, as dry/cool chocolate will make the cookies break. Only add chocolate to the top portion on one half of the cookie - too much chocolate (on the bottom) will cause the cookies to break. Display finished cookies in a bed of finely ground pistachio nuts to give the appearance of what my family lovingly refers to as "cat sh*t cookies" - if you bring them to a potluck meal, most people will avoid them, leaving more for you after the party! These are delicious and even doubling and quadrupling the recipe they're the first cookies to disappear at our family gatherings.
Today while out doing barn chores, I came around to the back area and found Little Timmy outside of his (still latched) cage, covered in blood. He somehow managed to knock the bottom clasp off his door and squeeze out, and I don't know if he hurt himself getting out or if the dog snagged him or what, but there was blood near the corner of the cage and inside the cage, and the tip of his left ear was bleeding. I couldn't immediately see what the problem was but he was calm and was more interested in me refilling his food dish than anything else. I will spare posting the photos of him for now.
I also snapped a new photo of Bacon, our lionhead doe. She's not very tame and every day when I reach in to her cage to refill her food and water she runs panic laps around the cage. I have no idea what kind of treatment her former home gave her, but she's the one that came from an auction with 3" long nails. She's a pretty rabbit once you look past her plain chestnut color. She looks like she's bundled up in a parka for winter. She needs another nail trim, but I worry about cutting them too short and making them bleed, since they were so long before. Provided she looks good in January, we will be pairing her with one of the Jersey Wooly bucks for spring bunnies.
The kittens have started to explore their surroundings. Last night Ginger Bear wandered off the blanket and explored a couple feet away. This morning Cloud and Ginger Bear both went off to explore, crying all the while. Tonight I found Cloud and Blue Star wandering around. They don't go too far, but they cry as they go, and if anyone comes in they hurry toward the human.
Little Amos is noticeably smaller at this point and I worry for him. He will be two weeks old tomorrow. I keep reminding myself he's four days behind the other kittens, but part of me is also trying to distance myself already and prepare for the inevitable day when Amos just can't function anymore.
Last Christmas Eve we lost two ducks in the same day to some kind of predator. They remain the only birds we've lost to a predator to date. By comparison, today was a much nicer day.
Kids opened presents, we had a nice family gathering with my parents and my brother, and tomorrow we will go back to spend another day together after Tony's side has their Christmas gathering in the morning.
This year, even Moose was invited for Christmas (at my parents' house). My brother's dog (Mitzu) is older and was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. He used to be Moose's best buddy when Moose was a half-grown pup. Playing with Moose helped Mitzu perk up after the loss of his brother (Bently) after he got hit by a car. Moose hasn't been over there for just over a year now because they got a new dog (Daisy the bloodhound) who is incredibly timid and scared of just about everything, and they had been concerned that bringing Moose over could upset Daisy. Today Daisy and Moose met for the first time. She put him in his place right away (something nobody expected given her demeanor normally), and then they were best friends. They ran around the fenced yard, up and down the deck steps, back around the yard, and over again. Moose is exhausted and actually slept most of the car ride home. It's been a while since he's had someone to run off his energy with. Even Mazikeen wasn't this interactive with him. I just looked at Tony and said, "Moose needs a friend."
I'm still feeling unwell. My sinuses are making me miserable and the sinus meds are making me loopy. Though the kids are having quite a bit of fun with my autocorrect text messages and my mis-spoken words. Today I was explaining how to make Kool-Aid and told them to add two packets of cold water... Might be one of those "should have stayed in bed" days.
Tomorrow Tony is taking the older kids back to the old house for one last time to clean out the garage. Then we will be rid of that forsaken place for good. I will be staying home, as I'm not well and don't think being out in the cold will help.
We still have five adorable kittens, and Floki and Zombie are co-parenting, with kittens nursing off both. Zombie still has not delivered her kittens yet, but I'm told she is producing milk now, so it should be soon.
I was looking something up and ended up browsing Petfinder. I know, not the place to go when you're trying to talk yourself out of bringing home a new pet. But alas, there I was, and I found one I liked. I showed the photo to Tony and he was moderately interested. Not a puppy mind you, but a senior dog. No housebreaking, no chewing phase, and we could provide a good home for a dog that doesn't probably stand much of a chance in a kill shelter. Something I've always wanted to do from way back when I volunteered in a kill shelter. This one is totally up to Tony though. I can't bring home every animal I fall in love with or we'd quickly be overrun. He's hesitant to adopt a senior dog because he knows how hard it is for me to lose a dog. I have assured him, that's the point. To love the dog so much in the shorter time frame as to make up for lost time. If you aren't absolutely heartbroken when your dog dies, did you really love him/her at all? I know what comes with adopting a senior pet, and I am willing to take that on. I understand that sometimes vet care for senior animals can make puppy expenses look laughable, and I know that longevity is a guess at best - tomorrow is not promised with elderly pets.
Many years ago I went to a commercial dog auction (puppy mill if you will). There was a dog there that I fell madly in love with. She was a 13 year old dog who'd lived her whole life in a cage making puppies. When I stepped up to her kennel she was gentle and kind, and looked up at me and wagged her tail. I wanted to take her so badly. But in order to go, I had promised my husband not to bring home a senior dog. It was his one and only stipulation for the trip. I sat on my hands and I literally cried when she sold for $1. A while later I posted in a rescue forum about the dog and how it broke my heart to pass her up. I received a private message from someone else who shared a photo. She'd been taken in by another rescue that was there bidding that day. They took her home, she had her first day out of a cage, and died of old age the very next day.
I am well aware that timelines are not guaranteed. Perhaps by adopting a senior dog we could better space out the inevitable ends. If we have all young dogs, chances are they'll all age together and pass away in quick succession. If we have Moose (who's three), and a senior, and then get a puppy in the spring, that should space our losses enough that it's not absolutely crippling when they happen. My aunt recently lost both of her senior dogs in the same weekend and I can't even imagine how heartbreaking that must be.
I didn't feel well this morning. Not really sick, but just achy all over. No fever, so wild dreams like I have when I'm getting sick, but not just the aches and pains of adulthood either. I got kids off to school and took some ibuprofen, then finished the puzzle we've been working on the last few days before heading back to bed. I'm not entirely sure what else happened today. I remember little snippets of waking up when my phone went off, or when #5 pulled the window shade down to block the sunlight, I remember my mom calling to ask about an appointment tomorrow. Beyond that I was blackout sleeping. Completely dead to the world.
I'm still achy, but not as bad. Or maybe it's because I took more ibuprofen. Either way, I'm really glad that today was Tony's day off so he took care of #5 while I dozed my day away. I feel bad about it because I know he hasn't been feeling well either (his is sinus issues, so it's not whatever I'm working on).
I have to remember to pick up some puzzle glue next time I'm in town so we can coat the puzzle and frame it. #1 liked the design and wants it on her wall. I hated how hard it was to put together and don't feel the need to assemble it again. Now we just need to find a frame of appropriate size.
We are officially on kitten watch with both Floki and Zombie due any day now. I'm guessing Floki will go first and have four, and then Zombie will have two. The kids are all mixed in their votes. We will just have to wait and see.
The other day I asked my husband if he'd bought my Christmas gift yet. He said no. I told him my top three requests are for a good digital camera, a subscription to Curiosity (think Netflix but all documentaries), and a gift certificate to Baker Creek. He said "So you don't want a puppy anymore?"
Quick back story, after Mazikeen passed away, I looked at puppies in ads. My heart was broken. Moose, having been an only-dog thus far, was suddenly thrown into single-dogdom again and wasn't happy. I told Tony that ever since I was a child I'd always wanted that stereotypical movie scene where I'm presented with a surprise puppy on Christmas morning... However, my parents, being the reasonable and respectable people they are, knew well that pets are not gifts and should never be given as a gift... Which is why I never got one. I told him I don't think he'd be able to pull off the surprise aspect of it, since he never leaves the house without a place to go, and I doubt he'd be able to track down a reasonably priced puppy anyway. We're still paying the bills for Mazikeen's last vet visit. Besides that, I know he wants another Saint Bernard and we will start looking for one in the spring when potty training will be easier. Getting me a Christmas puppy would mean we'd have three dogs in the house - when we really had only planned on having two. And winter potty training is awful.
Back to my story though - he asked if I no longer wanted a puppy. I replied with "I know you're not going to get me a puppy anyway, so why let it take up one of my top three spots? Let's be reasonable." I would love to get a puppy for Christmas. I would. But let's be honest here. I'm the one who's always told people not to do that. That if you want to give a pet for Christmas, buy the supplies or wrap a gift certificate for the pet store, and let the person pick their own pet. I've also gotten almost all of my pets as rescues. Usually unexpected, unwanted, and definitely not something we went to a shelter to look for... Ours have been those I took in as rescues to fix up and find homes for, those left on my doorstep, those picked up as strays who's owners never came for them, and those family and friends couldn't keep anymore. Only a few of our pets have ever been from actual breeders. It seems foreign to me to want to purchase a puppy for Christmas. Perhaps it's still the sadness in my heart for having been immersed in the love of two canine companions for a few months, and then losing one. I guess for now I'm trying to tell my heart that it's OK to wait until spring. Potty training will be easier, the kids will be home after school is out to better bond with a new pup, and then we can get the breed that Tony wants. On the flip side, if my some magical stroke of good fortune, my husband is able to find a surprise puppy for me, I would love it with all of my heart. I just don't want to get my hopes up and then feel disappointed on Christmas when there is no puppy for me.
For some reason tonight's blog has sunk me into a bit of an emotional quagmire. Maybe it's thinking of Maize, or thoughts of previous rough Christmas times. My beloved special needs cat, Nermal, passed right before Christmas several years ago, the old schoolmate of mine that committed suicide almost two years ago - his birthday was right before Christmas, and every Christmas has been a bit rough since my mother-in-law passed away). Whatever it is, I need to take a breather, get some more sleep, and hopefully tomorrow I will wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
It is the eve of Thanksgiving 2018, the turkey is soaking in brine, all the supplies are on hand, recipes printed off. It's that time of year to reflect on our journey so far, and be thankful for all of the blessings we've experienced.
I am thankful for the smoker that we got last year for Christmas. We will use it tomorrow to smoke the turkeys for our dinner.
I am thankful to my parents, who just replaced our old stove, so we can use the new one to cook our side dishes.
I am thankful for healthy children. I know many others out there are not as fortunate.
I am thankful for our flock of birds. We went from one goose and two ducks last October, to now having four geese, two guineas, 23 ducks, and about 40-50 chickens. They've stopped laying eggs at the moment, but they still bring me great enjoyment to watch.
I am thankful for the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets we get to see every single day. We truly live in paradise.
I am thankful to have electricity, running water, and gas to run our heater and stove. I am thankful to Dave the delivery driver from the gas company who came and filled our tank this week when our tank was at 0.0.
I am thankful for having an internet connection so I can continue to blog, email, and meet new people though our Facebook page and other ads.
I am thankful to our rabbits, who thus far we've been able to sell or trade all and have none left we need to slaughter.
I am thankful to the processing place that we will be working with later this month to process some birds for us, so I don't have to.
I am thankful for food in my cupboards and in my refrigerator.
I am thankful for my health, even though it's been a challenging few years. I am thankful that I'm starting to get to know what I can and cannot eat so I can avoid the painful repercussions of eating the wrong thing.
I am thankful for a supportive family, especially my husband. He puts up with my Asperger's issues, my weird food requirements, my mood swings and meltdowns, my bad days, and of course my good ones too. He reins in my crazy imagination when I get a little too excited about new projects, and keeps me sane on days the kids are really challenging. He's not home as much as I would like, but I am thankful he has a job that he loves that pays the bills so I can stay home with the kids.
I am thankful for the family who lived here before us. For maintaining the house, for imbuing it with love and positivity, and most of all, for accepting our offer so we could make it our own.
I am thankful for friends. I don't have many, but those I do have I cherish.
I am thankful for craft supplies and my Grandmother teaching me to crochet when I was a child. I have put these skills to real work this year exploring what I can make with no patterns. Scarves, purses, bags, coasters, dish cloths, and now I'm working on a quilt!
I am thankful for garden space, seeds, and the bounty of the land. Our harvest was very small this year, but rather than lament the failings, I am thankful for the lessons learned. Our potato towers didn't produce a single potato, despite growing nice plants throughout the summer. Potatoes will not grow in moist soil, it must be better draining. More soil and less compost next year. Some varieties of food grow well in containers, but some do not. Growing tomatoes in 3-5 gallon buckets will result in stunted, small tomatoes. Melons and squash do not like to grow in buckets. Chickens like to eat any and all garden produce they can reach, and will perch in trees to eat apples right off the branches! The apples that the chickens knock down are quickly devoured by the geese below who aren't as capable of flight. We also learned this year that pulling up the entire sod portion to work with fresh ground underneath seems to work better than trying to fight with the grass and weeds to create new garden space. It's a lot more work, but I suspect in the long run it is less work over all. I am thankful to our excessive collection of seeds, which continues to grow as we buy more and trade. When we do get our garden spaces up and running we will have plenty of options on what to grow.
I am thankful to our little orchard. We planted a lot of trees, and lost almost all of them. I think I may have watered them too much. Clay soil doesn't drain very well, and I was so worried about letting them go dry, I suspect I killed them by doting too much. As of autumn it looked like we still had two apple, two plum, and a peach tree that might still have hope of coming through the winter. That's progress! And next year we will try again, with a little more moderation on watering.
I am thankful for my dog, Moose. He's been awesome this year, not only working with #5 and I with our Asperger's issues, but now laying with #4 as she reads aloud to him, encouraging her to become more proficient in her reading skills. I am thankful for Mazikeen as well. Though we only had her for four months, she was a good puppy. I wish we had had more time with her, but alas, we got through all the tough stuff like potty training, basic obedience, feeding routines, not chasing the birds, and playing nice, and do not get the luxury of spending years enjoying her once she was settled and trained in. Cancer sucks.
I am thankful for our cats, both indoor and outdoor. I love the cuddles and companionship the indoor cats bring us, and I am thankful for the rodent control and affection our two outdoor barn kitties provide.
I am thankful for a bed to sleep in, a roof over my head, clean air to breathe, and nature all around me.
I am thankful for supportive parents who are there for me no matter what I'm going through. They're there to offer advice, direction, or child care if I need it.
I am thankful for my brother. Though I don't get to see him very often, I adore him. He's one of my favorite people. I'd be lost without him. I am thankful for the random conversations we have about anything and everything.
I am thankful for a great therapist. I'm not embarrassed to admit it, my therapist is wonderful. After many not-so-great therapists, finding one that "clicks" and really "gets" me is amazing.
I am thankful for all the people I've gotten to meet both in person and online, thanks to our website, blog, advertisements, and Facebook. I am thankful for the updates I get from people who've bought bunnies from us. I am thankful for hearing other peoples' ideas for projects and sharing experience with homesteading.
Last, but certainly not least, my mind is on another family. In February 2017 a man I'd gone to grade school with ended his own life. I adored him in school, I just knew he was special, that he'd be successful in whatever he chose to do. After high school I never saw him again. I thought about him from time to time, but since I had been too shy to speak to him in school, I figured he probably wouldn't even remember me if I found him on Facebook or something. I don't know what was going on in his life, I don't know the circumstances or the manner, and I don't want to. It's none of my business. But I know he left behind a mom, a dad, and a sister, who now have to celebrate Thanksgiving without him. His birthday was just before Christmas, so I can only imagine that November and December are incredibly hard for his family. I think of them often here at the end of the year. Our African gander, Josh, is named in his honor.
I try to find a positive in every situation, but suicide is hard to feel positive about. I have had a couple of friends who've been battling depression this year and made some posts on social media. Because of Josh's lost battle, I made the effort to reach out to my friends when otherwise I'd have probably stayed silent (mind my own business). This has lead to some great conversations, new connections, and expanded friendships. It has allowed me to shine some light in some dark places and offer a hand to help friends out, even if in a small way. For this, I am thankful.
I tried pairing off the same three does again today, still no luck. The bucks have lost interest and the does won't lift. Whoever said "breeding like rabbits" probably wasn't trying to breed rabbits.
I have the thought to give up on those three for now and pick three others instead. Kaelyn is currently sharing her cage with Cinnabun, and Snowflake has all her babies with her still, so neither of them are viable options. Caduci, Quetzal, and Raisinet are refusing to breed, Pocahontas and Princess Poppy are sharing a cage, Feather, Alice, and Lilith are all supposed to be bred and due in 5-7 days, and MooMoo is still off with the stud breeder, so that leaves me with Gretchen, Fern, Spotty, Calliope, and Quince.
Gretchen was also set to breed back to Ulysses, but she can be paired to another buck instead. Maybe try her with Fella to see if we can get him to be proven with a more experienced doe.
Quince is in a cage I really was hoping to avoid having a litter in, but I suppose if I give her a nice nest box and they don't fall out onto the wire they'd be alright. The bar spacing on that cage is a little wider than I'd like and I've used it in the past for bucks.
Fern, Calliope, and Spotty are all set to be bred on November 13th when the quarantine hold on the new bucks is up.
The next auction is this weekend and #2 and I will be going again. Perhaps we can snag something new and interesting to add to our collection. Another French Lop and a Jersey Wooly doe are top of the list, but who knows what you'll find at the auction, right?
Today I spent nearly an hour working on the broken black Jersey wooly we picked up from the auction on the 13th. He's quite different than his brown companion. His ears are short (like a Netherland dwarf), his eyes are big, and his forehead sticks out. I suspect he's what a Jersey wooly should look like and the brown fella is not. This one is also quite tiny under all the fur. He can't weigh more than a pound or two. I keep forgetting the weight scale. I really need to remember to weigh him. I'm curious for my own records.
Still no names selected, but golly this little guy is a gem. So patient with me as I pull on his snarls. Today I was able to get most of the mats broken down at least a little so they won't pull as much. He now is perfectly brushed out for about 1-2 inches on either side of his spine from his ears to the mat just above his tail (which is now several smaller mats). Progress! At least we are making progress!
This bunny seriously looks like a little plush rabbit. He's so stinking cute and just tiny. He also has an ear tattoo (LG4), so someone liked him enough to label him at some point. We had planned to sell this one when he was all groomed up and looking better, but now #3 wants to keep him too and possibly take him to a county fair to get him judged by a rabbit expert.
Mazikeen is down today. I mean, really down. Yesterday morning I really had to coax her up to go out for morning potty break, and when she went out she walked around like a stiff arthritic old dog. Weird. We were gone all day, got home late, and went to bed - because girls had been home all day to keep track of critters and make sure they were fed and let out regularly.
This morning I got up and Mazikeen wouldn't get up to go outside. No coaxing could get her to even sit up. So I put my arms under her in an attempt to get her feet under her. She cried out in pain, so I stopped. She attempted to get up and ended up in a weird yoga pose with her butt in the air and her face on the floor. After a moment she corrected herself and went out to pee. She was walking slowly and as though she were in pain. I offeredher a drink from the hose (her favorite) and she refused. She wouldn't drink the water from the bucket like she normally does either. I went out and did barn chores and groomed the bunny, but when I went to call her in she was down in the yard.
I'm not one to bother my husband at work, so I made every attempt to get her back on her feet. She'd cry at the slightest pressure, made no attempt to put her feet under her, and when the kids got home from school and I showed #1 how I couldn't get Mazikeen up, she actually bit me. Not a little nip either, she latched on to my canvas coat and wouldn't let go, even after my hands were off of her. It reminded me of lock jaw, except she'd just opened her mouth to chomp me. I know whatever is bothering her is causing her pain.
I texted Tony at work and asked him what I should do. Try to get her inside, see if the vet can see her, but really "you're the animal person, I don't know what to do." In all my years I've never come across this before. I've had a dog hit by a truck once who was tender for a while, but he was able to get up and move. Same dog, years later, went down in the yard and had to be carried back into the house in a make-shift sling made out of a sleeping bag (120 pound dog), and he died that evening at the emergency vet clinic from advanced stomach cancer that he'd only shown symptoms of for a week prior (not eating, lethargy, and vomiting blood the minute we put him on the exam table that evening).
But this, this is a six month old puppy. Her ability to open her jaw rules out lock-jaw (tetanus), her lack or diarrhea rules out parvo, and her ability to close her mouth rules out rabies. I have no idea what I'm working with here.
So I called the vet. Now, usually I would tell you how awesome my vet clinic is. they've been there for me for several pet emergencies, short notice visits, and they've saved my animals' lives in the past, and mourned with me over the losses that couldn't be saved. But today they sucked. I was told they had no appointments until Tuesday. I said it was an emergency, and they told me to call back tomorrow morning to see if I could get one of the three emergency appointment slots they kept open each day, but if I didn't have an appointment, I could go to an emergency clinic... the nearest ones are 1-2 hours away. That's great... I don't drive and my vet clinic is literally minutes away. I said I wasn't sure the dog could make it to tomorrow and the receptionist said "well i don't know what else to tell you." Wow. Just wow.
By this point, poor Mazikeen is shivering so hard it almost looked like convulsions. So I decided to risk it. I grabbed her hard and pulled her upright, forcing her to stand up. She bit me. Hard. Through the canvas to bruise my arm underneath, but she was standing up. So I managed to get her back into the house where she stood for a while, wanted back outside, and eventually flopped back onto the floor where she remained, barely responsive, for several hours.
I did managed to pry her mouth open and give her an aspirin when I realized she was burning up with fever. After that she kept her jaw locked shut. I tried a few times to talk to her, to comfort her, but she would only wag her tail once or twice, look at me without moving her head, and then close her eyes again. I texted my husband again and told him I didn't know what the problem was, but he should probably plan to run her to an emergency vet clinic if he wanted her to survive. She hadn't eaten any of her food yesterday (I thought my husband had fed the dogs before work this morning, but her dish was still full from when the kids fed her yesterday). He said he wanted to come home and see her before he made any decisions.
About 11:30pm Tony finally makes it home. As soon as the door opens in the other room, Mazikeen starts wagging her tail. As soon as he comes around the corner she tries to pick her head up. With some coaxing she did manage to stand up on her own and he brought her outside to go potty and got her to drink water and eat a few kibbles of food. She did go back down again and is currently still down. I will give her another aspirin before I head to bed, and Tony will probably be calling the vet clinic in the morning to try to get her in to an appointment. We have got to figure out what's going on with her and get her feeling better.
Some random thoughts - she did eat part of a Barbie doll a few days ago... could that make her sick like this? I pulled a grey tick off of her this morning - could tick paralysis be the diagnosis? The kids found the remains of a rabbit at the far edge of the yard, half eaten. A quick inventory shows it wasn't one of ours - could it have made her sick? On Monday the dogs brought a deer hoof up to the yard and I threw it away - could that make her sick? But Moose was chewing on it too... and Moose would have had access to the rabbit as well. I really don't know what to make of it, but I was so relieved when she got up for him tonight.
As much of a handful as she is and as mad as I am about her eating my breeding buck rabbit (poor Ulysses), I don't wish ill on the dog. I'm really hoping she's feeling better in the morning.
The down side of this is that tomorrow is the anniversary of the day my mother-in-law passed away. It's always been a rough day for Tony and I think it would crush him if his dog died on that day or all days. He's scheduled himself for a 12 hour shift to keep his mind off of things. So please, cross your fingers, send well wishes and healing vibes our way.
To end this blog on a happier note, today I went downstairs to water all of the plants that we brought in that were planted in buckets. Mostly tomatoes, but there were some melons, okra, herbs, and other random stuff too. Much to my delight I found we had harvest-able fruit!
Harvest from the basement included four Isis Candy tomatoes, one Azoychka tomato (very small), and one melon. I thought it was a watermelon and was afraid it had not had time to ripen before the vine had died away. The kids asked if we could try to save seeds from it anyway, so we cut it open. Lo-and-behold, it's not a watermelon at all, but a tiny cantaloupe! I'm not sure if this one was Hearts of Gold or Minnesota Midget. It doesn't look like either from the photos I found online, but I think that's because the vine died before it could fully ripen. We cut it up and tried it. #4 and #5 loved it and asked if we could grow it again. #1 was allergic, as she is to most fresh fruits and vegetables, and I tried it, but I'm not a fan of cantaloupe, so I wasn't impressed. #3 suggested perhaps it wasn't sweet because it wasn't quite ripe yet. I think I agree. But still, very cool to find in your basement, and what a surprise that it wasn't the watermelon I had been anticipating!
The Isis Candy tomatoes were pretty tasty. Seeds are on the counter to ferment so we can plant again in the future. I plan to save the Azoychka seeds too.
I haven't seen the little buff kitty since the other night. I think perhaps it's moved on. Hopefully it went back to wherever it came from. I hope it's safe and fed and warm.
This week we're expecting a low in the 30's (Friday night). Summer never lasts long enough here. Winter is already trying to put its icy fingers into the nights. I'm still trying to hold off as long as possible before turning the heater on. The thermostat is set to 60, and so far we haven't dropped below 70 in the house, despite temperatures n the 50's and 60's outside. Friday night I'll have to get some apple butter in the crock pot, some apples or herbs in the dehydrator, and the bread machine going over night to try to keep us above that 60-degree threshold. Maybe I'll fire up the space heater too.
Matt the duck continues to sit on her nest. According to when she first went missing, we're guessing eggs should start hatching about the 24th of this month. Less than a week to go! On last check she was up to a dozen eggs in there, and three were noticeably turning dark (rotten). For the past week or so, Quiche, the Indian Runner hen has been laying with Matt in the nest at night. I find the two of them every morning at the gate to the barn, hollering for breakfast. So when I open the barn, while all the other ducks, chickens, geese, and guineas are rushing out, they're running in to get at the food bin.
For some strange reason I have the urge to go through my seed collection. Re-organize, check inventory, and get it all sorted again. That's a heck of an undertaking though, I'm not sure I'm up for quite that big of a project. That may just be the colder temperatures talking.
Mazikeen, our Saint Bernard puppy, is five months old now. She is just a hair taller than Moose now. He's considered a large breed (80 pounds I think last time we weighed him). Mazikeen is going to be a beast of a dog. Her parents were massive too. She still has a year of growing. Wow.
Tomorrow is Tony's one day this week he has off. I think the project we'll be working on is building a door for our bedroom. Yup, that's right - no doors on the bedrooms here. Though the boys' bedroom does have a door, it just doesn't close all the way. So yeah, privacy is pretty much non-existent. I had drawn up a neat wooden door plan I liked from looking at other images online and Tony says he can make it. We'll still need to order hinges and a door knob of some kind, but that'll have to wait until next pay day. We already have the wood on hand because he bought it a while ago.
It was a rough day today. One of those days where you really have to laugh to keep from crying and find the beauty in the small successes.
Tony and I both got to sleep in (aside from getting kids out the door at bus time), which was a good thing.
I went out to work on barn chores and found my favorite rooster had taken ill. He was hunched over and didn't want to walk. He was settled in beside #3's favorite rooster, who likewise was not well. What are the odds that both of the tamest most wonderful birds would get sick simultaneously? Given the way they were acting, I know they'll be dead by tonight or tomorrow. And sure enough, my potato beds have been rummaged through again. Weird coincidence or cause? The test to autopsy is $100, which I cannot afford right now. More on money in a moment.
Once Tony finally rolled out of bed, and we got #5 up and moving (yay for days when the at-home kid sleeps in), we started working on pulling up sod for the new garden space.
It took a lot longer than I thought it would, and it was hard work. This is just the first half of the garden space. This is to clear the area that will have the 3-in-1 blueberry bush, Imperial White currant bush, two silver mound plants, and the shepherd's hook and hummingbird feeders. I also plan to add some crocus and tulips around that big central pipe to try to blend it in a bit. There will also be a trellis under the window to grow peas and beans until the bushes grow in and block out the sun there.
The closer edge (where sod and the wheelbarrow are) will also need to be pulled back to make space for the walkway, and even further beyond that for the herb portion of the garden. We have the shepherd's hook, one of the hummingbird feeders, the two gates, the stakes to hold up the chicken wire, we have chicken wire (not sure if we have enough for the whole project), and we'll be picking up the arbor from my parents' house this weekend. The plants are already purchased and on hand, we have some soil and compost, and leftover bags of mulch. I don't know how many more bags of soil and mulch we will need, but we will also need sand and paver stones for the walkway. These may have to wait until next year.
Yesterday while digging out sod, #3 found a large rock. We set it aside and figured we could work it into the garden somehow. Today Moose and Mazikeen found the rock and were playing with it under the apple tree. They took turns pouncing on it, pushing it with their front paws, and eventually Moose picked it up and brought it to me. He dropped it at my feet as he's done with rocks, balls, sticks, and frisbees in the past. The classic "here, throw this for me" maneuver. So I threw it. My husband and I watched in frantic horror as the dog matched the rock stride for stride as it arched across the yard. It came down just ahead of him, missing konking him in the head by inches. He retrieved the rock, and again dropped it at my feet. Now yes, I should have taken that close call as a warning not to throw it again, but Moose loves to play. So I faked throwing it to the right, and he ran - then I threw it off to the left. He turned and went to intercept the rock, coming in from the opposite direction. The rock bounced once and as it was in mid air, Moose caught up to it. He opened him mouth and went to grab it out of midair. The bone shattering noise was audible from 100 feet away, and Tony and I both flinched. Moose stopped. Moose never stops when there's a toy to chase. I knew immediately something was broken. He shook it off and chased the rock to where it had come to rest at the base of a tree. I called him back, and though he was reluctant to leave his newfound toy behind, he begrudgingly came. I could see blood in his mouth as he came toward me. Once I got him to sit, and Tony held Mazikeen off to the side (she wanted whatever attention Moose was getting), I pulled his mouth open. Sure enough, his bottom canine is broken in half and it was bleeding. I called the vet right away and asked what needed to be done. It sounds like he's going to have to go in for an exam before anything can really be assessed, but chances are we are looking at sedating and surgically removing the rest of the tooth so it won't get infected or cause him pain. No idea on the price until they can look at it to get a better idea of how damaged it is. They didn't have any openings today, so I'm supposed to call tomorrow. Unfortunately, Tony works tomorrow (and the next day) and there's no way for me to get Moose to the vet clinic while dealing with a four year old. Guess I'll be calling on Friday. The lady was helpful though. She said Moose could have a plain aspirin for pain in the meantime.
No sooner had I gotten off the phone with the vet clinic, Tony's phone rang. It was the school. Our 9-year old had gotten stung on the lip, her face was swelling up, and they needed to know if she was allergic to bee stings. Well, she's never been stung before. The school nurse said she'd keep her there in the office a while to keep an eye on her. Poor kid came home and her upper lip is swollen out as far as the tip of her nose, exposing her top teeth. Her face is so swollen that her cheeks are red and puffing up so much that her eyes look like she's squinting. I offered her an allergy pill and some ibuprofen, but she refused both. Poor #4 looks like she lost a fist fight.
We had to make a run to Brainerd today. Cutie bunny Peter Parker (Spider-man) left to his new home, and the rescue bunny was returned to his family as well. We did minimal shopping (a bottle of aspirin for Moose, some new work socks for Tony), stopped for dinner, and headed home.
By this evening, Moose is notably low key. He doesn't want to play with Mazikeen as much, he just wants to lay near me. He finally stopped drooling from the side with the broken tooth. He perked up after I gave him aspirin. He's going to have to be on a regular dose until I can get him to the vet clinic.
A few lessons learned today. Don't throw rocks. Plan for more time than you anticipate for big projects. And don't complain about how rough things are, because at least your face isn't swollen up from a bee sting.
I'm still not sure how I'm going to afford emergency surgery for Moose. We'll have to make it work somehow. I guess that puts the garden project and getting the barn cats fixed onto the back burner for now.
I am so excited tonight to announce that the foster bunny's home has been found and he will be reunited with his family tomorrow! (happy dance) Turns out he's a very spoiled little bunny and has run of the house, and in the summer, run of a big fenced yard too. But Bunny (yes, that's his name) must have decided to go on an adventure and dug out. When he didn't return after a few days they started looking for him. One of their friends found my ad and bridged the contact gap. Tonight I spoke to a very relieved man and set up a meeting to return the bunny tomorrow. Yay for happy endings!!
Today I measured out the first half of the new garden. I had my measuring tape out and I marked out with sticks where the two big plants would be, where the edge of the walkway would be, where the arbor will go.
Moose then scared a chicken out of the apple tree (ytes, they're now flying up into the apple tree to devour the apples before they can even fall to the ground). A ripe apple fell and I ran for the apple tree to snag the ripe apple before the chickens got it. I took two bites of the apple and turned around and walked back to the new garden space. I was away less than 60 seconds and when I got back Mazikeen had eaten every one of my sticks I had used to mark space. Well, there went my plans for today. I gave up and waited for kids to get home from school to help me peel sod. We got less than halfway done when #3 and I were exhausted and hungry and #4 and #5 were getting antsy to do something else. Tony has tomorrow off, maybe I can make more progress with him helping while kids are in school. I can hope anyway.
I think #3 did more work that #4, #5 and I combined. She got the entire first row on the left done and started on the second row, while I just managed to get some done at the front corner. Alas, we have a lot more work to do! But like I told Tony tonight; we don't have to finish the entire project this year. I just need the first half up to the walkway completed this year, as it involves planting four live plants I have sitting in the yard currently.
I spoke to my mom tonight as well. She had a garden arbor years ago when she had planned this big elaborate garden, but she later gave up as the grass was too much work and the deer ate everything... So her arbor got moved off to the side of the yard, where it tipped over, and is now being shrouded and reclaimed by the weeds. I asked her if I could have it, or if she was going to use it again. She didn't even know it was there anymore it was so hidden in weeds. I had to give her directions to describe where I'd last seen it while she was on the phone trying to find it in all the weeds at the edge of the forest. Tony can get a new one for $140 or so, but why buy new and spend extra money when used and free is available? Mom asked what my plans were and I described it to her. She said we could take it. Cool! Tony picked up wooden stakes to help put up the chicken wire fence (to keep the birds from eating our plants), and two willow gates. I'm so excited to see this project through! Hopefully we can get to the point tomorrow where we can get an idea for the side of the walkway and he can get a feel for how much paver stones will cost. The ones I want are $1.69 each, but they're pretty big. If my mental picture is right (which it rarely is - numbers aren't my forte), I figure I'd need about 36 of them to bring my vision into reality.
Bonus plus side to this project - we can use the sod we remove to fill in some holes Mazikeen has dug in the yard.
Today I moved the colony litter babies out to the barn so they can get used to a cage. I put a 12x12 ceramic tile in there by the food and water bowls to give them something solid to stand on, and they seemed to be a little more confident then. Seven of the eight babies from that litter are ready to go now.
The eighth baby has been taken off sale. Keep in mind that I don't chase or catch the colony babies unless I need to check gender or take updated photos. I do sit down and observe them at feeding time every two or three days just to make sure everyone looks good and is accounted for, and nobody is getting bullied away from the food bowl. That said, it's been two or three weeks since we caught all the babies and did gender checks and photos.
Today when the kids rounded up the colony babies, handing them to me one at a time so I can give them a quick once-over check, I noticed something very wrong with this one bunny. One of his back legs was badly swollen. When I looked closer I realized his leg was at an odd angle. This baby has somehow managed to break his leg. It's already started to heal and has set in a nearly 90-degree angle. The wear on the fur tells me it's been like this for a while. How did I not notice this? Well, the fact that he still moves at the same speed and the only notable difference is that he now jumps into the food bowl versus standing beside it to eat. This would tell me the injury is probably about two weeks old.
Because our dog (Moose) came to us as a pup with a broken jaw, I remember the vet saying that the large hard swelling was a sign that the bone was already healing, and that at that point, re-breaking to set the bone was no longer an option. So for now, this bunny is in limbo. The leg has to heal and the bone swelling has to go down before we can truly assess how much it will effect his quality of life. If he can develop a callous where his ankle is (which is now weight bearing), then he should be fine. If he can't develop a callous, he may be at risk for pressure sores and subsequent infections. Unfortunately, splinting it isn't an option anymore (it's already healing up and the bone is hard there), and putting some kind of bandage or padding on it once it's all healed up wouldn't work because he'd just chew it off. For now, he gets along well. He can still run, hop, and kick his feet. When I touched it, he did not pull his leg away or kick or cry out. I'm hesitantly hopeful, but for now this bunny just has to wait and see how he heals.
It's been a busy weekend! I got lots of house chores caught up, got #4 to clean her room (finally), and talked to Tony about the carpet upstairs. Mazikeen keeps having accidents in #4's bedroom... Only in her bedroom and at the bottom of the stairs. This despite being let out every night before bed, and every morning with the first person up, and frequently throughout the day. She was raised in a barn as an outdoor dog, so we're really starting from scratch. I'm struggling with it. Moose was never this hard to potty train. He picked up on it pretty quick. I'm getting frustrated with Maize because I *hate* cleaning up messes, especially knowing what it's doing to my carpet.
The compromise we came to? Pull out all the carpet in #4's bedroom. There's a small swatch at the top of the stairs where the carpet is already coming up. It's a wood floor underneath painted that 60's/70's shade of yellow. I want to tear the carpet out and see if it's a nice floor underneath. We got lucky at the old house and when we tore out the nasty carpet there was a wood floor underneath. In poor condition, but a wood floor no less. I'm hoping if we pull the carpet before the carpet pads have a chance to seep into the floor (yes, I'm cleaning up every mess as soon as I find it), maybe we can salvage the floor. And then #4 can pick out a rug or two for her room instead. A couple $6 or $10 rugs sure beats a $300-$500 carpet install! Tony already picked up whatever kind of tacks or nails that he will need to fix the one loose board (you can feel it when you walk over the carpet in that one spot).
Tomorrow's project - carpet removal. Most of it will have to be thrown away I'm sure, but I wonder if some of the old carpet couldn't be re-used for something else. It would be a great way to kill the grass in the area I want to put in a garden. We could cut a chunk of it out to use as a rug if #4 wanted. I just feel bad having to pull it out. I had really intended to keep it as long as possible. I love the aesthetic of this old house. I think the wall cracks and the uneven floors give it character. It's not what other people might consider perfect, but I love it. Even down to the old green / yellow / orange long strand carpet that I swear I remember from my grandfather's house when I was a child... It seems ubiquitous to the 60's or 70's.
On Tuesday we have a couple interesting things going on. Tony bought a new washer and dryer set since our dryer isn't working properly. They're being delivered some time Tuesday. I finally found someone who wants to adopt Peg-leg Sue. She (or he) will be moving on to their new family on Tuesday. And I found a lady in one of my Facebook groups giving away two bunnies, their cages, and their accessories. She said they're rexes (one regular and one mini), both does. Just exactly what I've been looking for for #4 since her Elizabeth (rex doe) died last winter. She is excited to get two new bunnies that are just hers. Unfortunately, it's an hour away and I'll need to put all the seats down to fit the cages in the back, so no kids can come along. She'll have to wait at home for her new bunnies to arrive. Oh the suspense! She doesn't have a phone but #1 will be babysitting (and she has a phone), so I'll have to send a photo right away so she knows when we're on our way back with them. We'll be picking them up Tuesday as well.
Yesterday I put together a page for the chickens I have available for sale. Originally the deal was that I could buy the surprise box, and we'd take all of the roosters to the butcher in the fall. Well, of 49 birds that made it so far, only 9 are roosters... and of those nine, I plan to keep two and one I'm trying hard to sell so we don't have to butcher... So that leaves six to slaughter, and 42 birds to feed through winter. That's not something we can manage once they're on straight feed and no forage, especially when Tony's hours get cut in the winter. So I have to pick some (a lot) of the hens to go to slaughter, or I need to sell them. As much as I like the idea of raising my own meat, it seems unfair to kill birds I didn't consider to be food. So I'm offering a bunch for sale if anyone is interested. There are probably a lot more, but for the life of me I can't identify some. It's a colorful flock, sure to lay nice eggs. They seem to be mostly brown egg breeds. Anyway, if you're in the market for some chickens, they were hatched 4/2 and are nearly as big as my two adult roosters now. Check out the Chickens For Sale page!
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.