Thursday, March 29, 2007

I've put our household on a budge - every dollar has a budget department. So, I took the kids grocery shopping with me the other day. I told them about the budget and informed them that we only had $100 to spend for a week's supply of groceries. They were also told that we were not going to buy anything processed or prepared, all of it had to be ingredients for meals. My optimism at the success of this experiment was low, I am sad to say. We are accustomed to eating lots of frozen or boxed foods - but that is changing. I am so proud to admit that the kids did great - the ticket came in at $66 and we've enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal each evening so far this week!! The first night was roast pork and Tuesday night Gabrielle cooked garlic chicken and tortalini (that doesn't looked spelled right, i know). Not sure what we're having tonight though, might be just egg sandwiches if i get home too late from work. When the garden starts producing, we'll have even more good food for the table.
it was 30*F again this morning here. i'm starting all of my seeds over again. the peaches and pears won't make this year i'm sure and the tomatoes i had set out are mush. it's going to be a late garden, that's for sure. oh, and the strawberries probably won't make either- frost got the flowers last week and again this morning :(

i went to get my little horse to bring him home yesterday. comanche is the shyest horse in the bunch. almost took a rodeo to catch him yesterday, had to make gary and kids all leave because they were making matters worse and it was making me irritated, too. after they left i got the halter on him halfway, but it was enough to catch him. it was hard because the other two fillies and the pregnant mare wouldn't leave us alone and i couldn't get him separated. once caught he was VERY well behaved, leads wonderfully. had to slow him down a few times because i like him to walk either right beside or right behind but not in front. i can't wait to work more with him, he learns quickly and without much effort :) i was really impressed with how trusting he is, like how he went through the water and past the big scarey things, even though he was afraid, he did it for me without a lot of prompting. gosh, i love that horse already. but he looks TERRIBLE - very wooly and skinny. lots of work to do there ;)

we put the biddies outside last night for the first time. it was a little chilly, but they were in a doghouse stuffed with hay inside the root cellar with the other chickens. for now, our chickens are roosting in the old root cellar. haha, one day i will put a new roof on it (right now there is only a few sheets of tin to keep the rain off the roosting chickens) and install a real gravel floor and ferrocement roof with air drainage. then i will use it like a root cellar is SUPPOSED to be used, to store fruit and veggies from the garden - NOT as a chicken house!
I wonder when Spring will return? Or will we just go straight into summer when all this nasty cold weather is done? My tomatoes and bell peppers are going to be soooo late this year. The only thing doing well in my garden are the new strawberries I put in last month and the turnips, lettuce, radishes, and spinach. The arugula seems to be doing okay, too. It was sleeting this afternoon, though, so no telling how it will all look in the morning!

I need to put my biddies outside, they're getting too big for their box and think they need to roost on the edge of it now, like big grownup chickens. The problem is, they put the tail end out over the outside of the box!
The first time I tried to Publish that last post, it didn't - but the error message was different, so I tried again and voila'! It worked! It's been so frustrating to type in a nice long post and then not be able to publish it, so I'd lost some of the enthusiasm. I'll try to be better at it now :)
The weather has really set back my garden. Saturday night it was 17 when I checked at one point. I think the strawberries are okay, but I'm not sure yet about the peaches. It will take a few days of normal temps to see what's what.

I haven't posted much here lately because every time I try, something is wrong with blogger and it won't let me. It just got to be too frustrating. I hope this time it goes smoothly, since I cleared all my records before beginning. We'll see. If it works, I'll try to post more regularly in the future.
This morning I heard the sure sound of spring: whipoorwill calls! When we first moved here I hated those birds because they would keep me up all night long with that incessant noise they make. But after the absence of their calls for the past several months, I find that I am happy to hear them return. I'm not sure if they actually went anywhere, but they quit making noise for a while at least.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We're running a little slow right now at work (which is unusual) so I am taking the opportunity to work on some personal projects. My co-worker and I have brought in our garden soil and our drinking water. I have two springs that we use for our water source, so I brought in samples of both of those. It's interesting to see the results from our own soils and waters, after analyzing so many other people and business's samples. It's something we like to do at least once a year. This year, both my water and my soil are looking better.

The cabinet maker is here installing formica right now for my new ICP room, and the fumes are about to render me senseless - I don't know how the guy can stay in that room with the door closed! If the fumes are so strong out here, imagine how strong they must be in that small 500 sq.ft. room!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I've been trying to post and keep trying, but I kept getting an error and my post wouldn't get posted! Finally today I found out why - you have to clear your computer's cache and cookies every so often. That did the trick apparently and now I'm back to being able to post.

Spring is really in full swing here now. The redbuds are open, the forsythia is still strong, and the dogwoods are just beginning to unfurl their flowers. I planted out some strawberries over the weekend and I am so looking forward to tasting some of the goodness from that garden this year. I should get some black raspberries and hopefully my peaches and pears will also make fruit this year. Tomatoes and bell peppers are a staple in my garden, but it's a little early yet for that. I have started seeds anyway, though, and put out two tomatoe plants that I got from Wal-Mart the other day. I would have bought the plants from our local nursery, Richlands, but she didn't have any. So from her I bought cauliflower and broccoli, lettuce and spinach, and a few herbs. Oh, and I started some melon seeds: Prescott Fond Blanc and Charentais - both new varieties to my garden and I can't wait to taste them! As you can tell, I really love fruit. But I also love things like glazed turnips and white gravy with biscuits with eggs, so I'm also pulling for the turnips to make good :)

Comanche is losing his winter fur and now his black is really looking nice. I hate it when they have the old winter hair and black isn't really black anymore, but a copper-black. He was gelded last weekend, so I'm keeping him at Frank's corral down at the mule farm until he's healed enough to bring home. I hope he and snippy become good buddies and that neither one tries to hurt the other. I think snippy might be getting lonely enough to be grateful for a buddy now. Since Spanky first died, he hasn't acted too lonely. I have been surprised.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

whew! i've been sick lately with whatever it was that the kids both caught a couple weeks ago. it's a pretty bad upper respiratory/sinus infection sort of thing. i've been taking a fresh goldenseal tincture and that seems to be doing a good job on it, though. the kids both have been taking antibiotics, but by the time i could actually get in to SEE a doctor, i was feeling much better already. so i'm glad i didn't waste my time or my money.

it is really looking like springtime around here now. the forsythia is in full bloom everywhere (everywhere but my house, since i don't have any). the redbuds are just beginning to bud out, the spicebush is blooming, the hyacinths are blooming - don't know when they started, i just noticed them today, but they look like they've been in for at least a few days now. the tulips are not blooming yet, but they're growing.

something spooked snippy bad today. he came running at full gallop to the house from across the creek and kept on running all the way down to the gate, which is close to 1/2 mile from where he started, ran through the gate (which was open because we had just come through and i was getting ready to go back down to visit with comanche) and kept running til he got to the Felkin's creek bridge. he stopped there because all the mares in the pasture came running toward him to see what the heck was going on. i have never seen a horse spooked that bad, so i am thinking that maybe the mountain lion or a bear came out of the woods over there by where he was grazing, intending to see about digging on spanky's grave maybe. something keeps trying to dig him up and gary keeps having to go cover him up more every day. why we didn't think of it earlier, i don't know, but zack thought of it today - he put the game camera over there tonight so we can see what is trying to dig him up. i hope it's not my own dogs :(

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Today I rode Snippy! I haven't saddled up a horse and ridden in a long time, even though we've been having horses for years now. All of my life I wanted a horse and while I was a kid, my parents would never get one. When my own daughter started wanting one, I decided to get one, but by that time I was so busy with work that I never had time to ride. I still love horses though, and decided I would start riding again now, especially since I'm getting a new yearling next week. Snippy needs a companion since we lost Spanky. He's very lonely and it is not good to try and keep only one horse. Comanche is a black and white paint, half Missouri Foxtrotter and half Spotted Saddle Horse. I've known him since he was born and hoped he could be mine. I enjoyed riding so much today. It makes me sad that I'm so much older now and not nearly as fit as I used to be, but maybe if I ride a little each day or a little at least each week, soon I will be in shape enough to ride better and longer. I'm posting a picture of Comanche so you can see the new baby.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

For some reason, blogger is filing this post out of order. It should be listed AFTER the post about Comanche, which is above this one in my browswer.

I got a lot of gardening done over the weekend. Planted peas, carrots, mustard greens, turnips and radishes. In the cold frame I started tomatoes, bell peppers, echinacea, and some other things, but I forgot what all. Monday, the kids were both sick so I kept them out of school and brought them to the doctor, but before that we worked in the garden some more. Gabrielle transplanted 3 raspberry canes that had rooted, over to the trellis I had waiting on them. I love it when the kids help me in the garden, it makes me feel like everything will always be alright. It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't know what I mean, so if you've experienced this feeling and have a better explanation for it, let me know, haha.

well. not good news. spanky died. i'm too sad over it to post more right now, and i'm also at work and have a lot to do. needless to say, the kids got on the bus crying and i went to work crying, too.

OMG, it is so hard to lose a horse, it feels like a family member has died!
For the last several days I've been dealing with a horse crisis. My 3 yr old gelding came very near death, and may still not be far away from that end. It all started a week or two ago when we took in a friend's horse to board while they were away on a trip. She was a mare and very very bossy toward my geldings. She took an outright disliking to the younger one and a strong liking for the older one, keeping the younger one away and forcing him away from his hay and feed. I didn't know she was also not letting him near them in the pasture or allowing him to eat in peace some distance away. It wasn't until Saturday that I got a good look at him, because I work every day during the week and don't get home during daylight at this time of year. He looked awful! So, that evening I fed him by himself and penned the other two up so they'd leave him alone. Another thing that was also going on during this time period, was that my husband was trimming the huge old oak tree in the front yard and the limbs were on the ground. The younger gelding was eating the buds off of the limbs like they were candy and I didn't think much about it at the time, other than noting how much he liked them. Well, apparently oak buds are toxic to horses if eaten in large quantities. A horse with normal access to feed and pasture will not eat huge amounts, but Spanky wasn't being given normal access because the mare was bullying him so much. By Sunday Spanky wasn't moving much and was very depressed, head hanging and not wanting to eat. At that time I still hadn't thought about the oak buds and just figured it was depression because of the other horse bullying him and not letting him near his best buddy. Monday we brought the mare back to her own pasture at her own house, since the owners were back. Spanky perked up a little at seeing her leave, but he still wasn't eating or moving or acting normally. The idea that he might have eaten the oak buds entered my mind by then and I watched him more closely, or as closely as I could when I'm not home most of the day. He would drink water if you held it in a bucket for him and he'd nibble at the hay but not really eat enough. On tuesday he started bleeding from the nostrils a little, not gushing nor even as much as a nosebleed in a person, but it was bright red blood and it was alarming, especially in light of how far down his condition had gotten. So I rushed home from work and stopped by the health food store to buy some ingredients to make him a nutritious and immune stimulating mash. I bought slippery elm powder, astragalus powder, nettle leaf, licorice root powder, and weight builder from the TSC. He would not eat this mixture willingly, so i put it in his mouth and on his tongue and he swallowed. He seemed a little better and wanted to eat his hay, so I left him and went up to the house. He was located in a thicket full of briars and small trees. I came back down to check on him and he was down, nose bleeding and breathing hard. I panicked and told him I'd be right back, so I went up to the house to get a halter and lead rope. Panicked because I didn't want him to die, and if he was going to die, I didn't want him to die there where he couldn't be buried. Odd combination of thoughts, but I was feeling both saddened and practical with equal passion. But when I got back to him, he was up! I think he actually stumbled and fell, and when I saw him he was still breathing hard because of that. I fed him a bowlfull a couple times that afternoon, and by the nightfall he was much stronger and eagerly eating hay.

When I left out for work this morning, I watered him from the creek with a bucket again, by headlights because it was still dark, and gave him some hay. But the good thing is that he wasn't in the thicket and was watching for me to come down the driveway, with his head up and his ears forward!! He hasn't looked that alert and alive for days, so I am hoping he has rounded the corner and cheated death. I'll try to post again tomorrow and give you an update on his condition then. Some things I've found out about oak bud poisioning is that it causes red blood cells to burst or deform, making them unable to transport iron. So the horse will have the symptoms of anemia, which is exactly how Spanky was acting. I thought he was "shocky" the other night and we'd been keeping a blanket on him because he was cold. I'm so happy he seems to be surviving and I hope to have good news tomorrow. One other thing, I didn't bring him to the vet because he was too weak to trailer and they don't make house calls out here. I feel really bad that I didn't notice how poor he'd gotten before it was so bad, and I wish I had known that he didn't need to eat all those oak buds. It's a terrible way to learn a lesson like that!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Someone asked if there was "community", a sense of community, in rural areas where large acreage separates neighbors. They wondered how it works. Here there is a strong sense of community. we're separated by mostly 100's of acres, but all the neighbor's know and help each other out. my closest neighbor called at 5 a.m. one morning last spring needing help with a horse in delivery. we threw on clothes and raced down there, but by the time we got there he'd pulled it himself. we're always watching for their cows to calve and let them know if there's trouble, because they don't actually live there, but come in the evenings to feed. the other neighbors who do live at their land visit when passing on the gravel road. it's common to be stopped in the middle of the road, engines turned off, talking for 30 minutes or until someone needs to pass. the grapevine is alive and well out here, too, lol. once my husband was on the phone with our most distant neighbor and i was outside getting clothes from the washer and i saw my goat eat my fresh picked tomato that was waiting on the top step for me to bring in. i started hollering at her and the neighbor on the phone with my hubbie heard me and got a huge laugh out of that. before 10 minutes passed, the closer neighbor was on the phone laughing over the goat eating my tomato too. this joke carried on for days, with the most distant neighbor stopping me on the road as i was coming in from work a few evenings later, handing me a tomato, cause he just knew i wouldn't have any because of the goat, haha. the most distant neighbor rides his 4-wheeler everywhere, including the 3 1/2 miles to our place to visit. he's an older man, disabled from a skidder accident years ago, and has diabetes. once he busted his toe, and rode his 4-wheeler all the way to our house to ask if i would put a bandage on his toe for him because he couldn't reach it himself.

see? there is lots of community here, even though we are sometimes miles apart. you'll likely find that so anywhere you go in the more rural areas.

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