September 2010


M and A modeling the latest fashion statement.

I have never understood why some parents spend massive amounts of money buying the latest and greatest plastic toys for their kids!  My kids spend minimal amounts of time playing with that sort of toy.  Most of their time is spent being creative and playing with the oddest things around the house.   They have been known to sled down our grassy hill on a cardboard box, build intricate tents out of a blanket and some furniture, and most recently, dress up in paper bags and play in different roles.

S pretending he is wearing a protective motorcycle vest and riding his cycle.

I have found it doesn’t take much to entertain them once their creative juices get flowing!  Some basic household essentials, and you have a game that will entertain for over an hour.

A motor-skill activity involves a bowl full of water and a sponge, and have the kids race to sop the water out of one bowl, run across to an empty bowl, and squeeze the water out. They have a blast! Just make sure you have them dressed in something that can get good and wet!

Of course, it could be as simple as just providing something for them to climb on and hide inside. 

This former dog-agility A-frame -turned sand box -turned toy box is the perfect hiding spot! It gets emptied of toys regularly, and serves as a bed, a bunny play pen, a house, a hiding spot. As long as the toys get cleaned up afterward, I really don't care!

So, I think I will continue putting our finances toward more useful things than plastic toys.  The kids seem to be just fine on their own!!

Amidst the busy-ness of our weekend, we are proud to announce that we have added some furry additions to the family!  If you recall a post I did some time ago (here), I discussed our desire to start our farm’s foundation stock on heritage breeds.  I had gotten my heart set on a breed of rabbit called the American Chinchilla, a beautiful, large, meat-type with soft, silky fur that looks like a chinchilla.  It is a very rare breed of rabbit, and, in fact, is listed on the “critically endangered” list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy records.  Because they are so rare, I couldn’t find any within a day’s drive.  So, we settled for what we could find–mini-lop rabbits.

"Smokey" and "Stew," the mini-lop rabbits

It wasn’t easy to find any rabbits around here, but I thought I had finally found a reputable breeder/rabbit showman.  We originally had taken 3 rabbits, as one seemed sickly, and we figured if all 3 survived, we would harvest one to try rabbit meat.  Sure enough, one wound up having a previously dislocated and then fused knee joint.  We harvested her about 6 weeks ago.  We were convinced we had a doe and a buck remaining.  The buck had a defective eye that the breeder had sworn was a mild infection.  It had cleared up nicely, but wasn’t exactly a sign of hardiness.  The remaining rabbit seemed healthy in every way, and even I was convinced it was a doe.  Something seemed off though, so I re-evaluated again last week, to discover that our “doe” was actually a defective buck.  He was a cryptorchid, with very mishapen parts.  He had also become quite difficult to handle, resulting in scratches to the kids everytime they tried.  Our farm will not have a place for difficult animals! 

As S and I were debating whether to let the kids keep the bunnies as pets or harvest them, I got an e-mail on Friday from an American Chinchilla breeder I had been in contact with some time ago.  He just happened to be coming to a rabbit show about an hour from us on Saturday and offered to bring some.  I talked to the kids, and we all agreed to harvest the rabbits we had and start fresh with the breed we wanted anyway.  So, early Saturday morning, JR and I left to head to the rabbit show.  This guy certainly knew his stuff, and was a much more responsible breeder than the previous lady!  The only problem was, I had NO idea how massive a 4-month old American Chinchilla rabbit was!  My little carrier I had taken to bring them home in was only big enough for one!  JR wound up having to hold the other on his lap the whole trip home!

M holding "Peter" rabbit.

We had to get creative with caging arrangements for the 24 hours in which we had 4 bunnies.  The next day, we let the kids tell their smaller bunnies good-bye.  It wouldn’t have been wise to sell them anyway, as they were less than the quality desired for passing on genes.  Harvesting (isn’t it such a nice word for a tragic end?) them was really the best option.

JR and Smokey

M and Stew (aka Foster and Jay)

Sunday afternoon, S did the deed, and we had a delicious pot of Brunswick Stew with rabbit meat for dinner.  Talk about fresh! 

So now, S has successfully dressed 3 rabbits this summer, and we have purchased our first heritage foundation stock for the farm!  I am so thrilled to have gotten these rabbits.  I will do another post on them later, as it is a breed worth sharing!

As usual, life has been so crazy busy, and I am loving every minute of it!  Our big news so far this week does not involve sutures for once, but it will soon enough. 

For little A’s future sake, I will not reveal details, but for a while now, we suspected a little, personal issue with A.  We finally got to see a specialist who confirmed the issue.  As a result, A is now scheduled for surgery on Oct. 12.  The good news is that it is a minor, very common surgery that should completely correct his issue.  The bad news is that it will involve half-starving the kid before surgery, driving an hour and half to the surgery center, watching them anesthetize my little boy and wheel him into surgery, waiting for him to come out of surgery and recover for several hours, then dealing with his pain for several days as he heals.  Then, we will spend the next 4-6 weeks hoping and praying the wound heals correctly to fix the issue (improper healing will cause a re-ocurrence). 

On one hand, I am greatly looking forward to solving his current problem.  On the other hand, I am dreading seeing my little boy go through all that.  I witnessed put little N under anesthesia for his MRI back when they confirmed he had CP, and seeing him lay there, so helplessly asleep certainly tugged at the heart strings.  I once read somewhere that no surgery is minor when it is on your child, and I have developed a new understanding of that. 

So that is our big news for now.

My kids are growing up, and it’s happening so fast.  Most of the time, they seem so little, but then some opportunity will come along that allows them to show just how “big” they are.  And it hits me that they aren’t babies anymore. 

Making PB and J's for lunch

Recently, we returned from a lengthy and exhausting bike ride.  I was so tired, and my sugar was running low after the exertion.  It was lunch time, and I wanted nothing more than to collapse on the couch.  JR offered, “Mom, why don’t you let me and M make lunch today?!”  The thought was enticing.  I asked what he would like to make, and he volunteered their favorite, but rare, lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I agreed, sliced the bread for them, and then set JR up with half the bread slices, the peanut butter, and a knife, and gave M the other half the bread slices, jelly, and a knife.  They eagerly set to work, creating their first lunch by themselves.  Of course, the mess on my counters afterward testified to the fun they had creating everyone’s lunches, but it was a moment they enjoyed immensely.  They were so proud of themselves that day!  I will never forget those smiles! 

As if that wasn’t enough to convince me, JR got a new pair of hand-me-down shoes recently.  These were his first big boy shoes WITH LACES!  He was so excited!  I gave him a brief lesson in tying the shoes, expecting to give him many more over the next few months.  Then, a couple mornings later, he walked upstairs, with both shoes on and perfectly tied!  I was so stunned.  It was as though he had grown up overnight! 

It seems like it wasn’t that long ago when I was a college student, wondering if I would ever get married or have kids.  Now, just 8.5 years later, I am happily married to the most amazing guy on earth, have an amazing life, I have 2 toddlers, a 4 year old, and a 6 year old (at the end of the week).  Guess you could say I have done some serious growing up too!  Oh, where does the time go?

I am finding that having a big family means we get to celebrate a birthday quite often!  This month, we have two!

My wonderful, amazing, Irishman and farmer wanna-be’s birthday was this week.  He got his gift a little early, as I needed his help to get the right one. 

Wood-mizer LT15

He got a sawmill for the farm!  I think I am as excited as he is, as it offers so much potential!

We realized some time ago how much expense we were putting into lumber at the hardware store.  We still had sooooo many projects yet to go.  Wood for fence posts, fence top rails, animal shelters, chicken coop, garden bed frames, barn renovations, and before too long, we even have to replace our roof and wood siding on the house.  We knew that was going to be mega-bucks.  At the same, every winter we were losing good, hardwood trees on the farm to the ice storms.  Since we had no other options, it was all being chopped into firewood.  What a waste!  We decided it was a much better deal to invest in a small, portable lumber mill, and use all that hardwood for the upcoming projects.  It even has an attachment that will allow S to make siding and shingles for the house in the future.   Furthermore, we can use the wood free of those pressure-treating chemicals.  It may not last quite as long, but with proper home-treatment and drying, it will still last plenty of years for our purposes! 

Unfortunately, although the mill has been delivered, and, thanks to his brother, fully assembled, S will not get to see or use it until our next trip to the farm over the holidays.  In the mean time, it may get some use from his brother and friends, family, and neighbors already requesting to rent it from us.  Hey, we may have a side income we hadn’t even considered!  Imagine….it might pay for itself before we even get to the farm!  OK, back to reality….

Happy Birthday, Honey!  I hope it was a great one!!  And although you are getting old, I look forward to many, many more years with you!

So, I guess when your day starts off with a visit to the ER, things can only get better from there, right?

This morning started as usual, with the kids waking up, eating breakfast, and going off to play for a few minutes as they finished.  JR and A decided to go out on the porch to play while waiting to start school.  I went out to call A in to get him dressed.  He was up on a toy box, and as he climbed down, he slipped and fell backwards.  The fall itself was not bad, as the toy box is not that high.  But when he fell, his head hit the end of Daddy’s free weights beside the toy box.  He cried, and I didn’t think much of it–A falls ALL the time.  He is the clumsiest kid I know!  I went to scoop him up and saw blood dripping onto the porch from the back of his head.  That’s when I knew there was a problem.  I rushed him inside, grabbed the closest cloth to me to stop the bleeding, then had M hold the rag on his head while I went and got the ice bag.  After icing it for well over 10 minutes, I realized A’s curls were so thick I couldn’t see anything to do with the injury.  The hair was just continuing to mat up with blood.  Fortunately, my first-aid training has taught me that even minor head injuries bleed profusely, so that didn’t bother me.  I just needed to locate that wound!  That’s when my past experience as a veterinary techinician kicked in, and I grabbed the clippers.  Once I was able to slow the bleeding with the ice, I shaved a spot on his head around the wound.  Although I know peroxide is not ideal for a wound, it was all I had.  I then wiped all around the shaved spot to clean the blood up so I could locate the actual injury.  In doing so, I finally found the wound, a relatively decent-sized gash.  Memories of M’s lip a few short weeks ago flooded into my head, as I realized another E.R visit was likely in our future. 

I re-applied the ice to the pin-pointed area of the wound to control swelling and bleeding.  I then decided to get a second opinion as to whether to use home treatment or take him in for sutures.  JR ran over and got a friend to come help me out.  She, too, wasn’t sure which approach was best, so we decided to error on the side of caution and call the base’s acute care referral line for a referral to the E.R.  You have to love military medicine!  45 minutes later, we had been on hold 3 times, on 2 different phones, disconnected twice, and still not gotten permission to take him to the E.R.  During this time, S had been notified, and had borrowed a car to drive home and help.  While he was on hold yet again, we mutually decided to at least do what we could to control the bleeding, prevent infection, and close it as best we could.  He gave me his close-shave clippers, which I used to give A an extra close shave.  I again cleaned up the blood with peroxide, swabbed around the wound (not in the wound) with an alcohol pad, applied a bit of neosporin antibiotic, and placed a couple of steri-strips to pull the wound shut.  About the time I finished, S finally got through to a live referral person, who gave us permission to take him to the E.R.  S stayed with the other 3 kids, while I drove A to the E.R.  During our wait, several nurses exclaimed over the professional job I did with the steri-strips.  After waiting about an hour, we finally got to see the doctor.  He walked in, asked what happened, felt around A’s head, and told me that sutures, or the equivalent were needed.  However, he thought I done such a great job cleaning and closing the wound with the steri-strips, he was going to leave it just like that and let it heal.  He walked out, told the nurses I had done his work for him, and to let us go home.

I had to laugh.  After all that, and my work was sufficient.  Although the morning was a complete waste, and my little boy had a big head injury, it sure made me feel good!  I guess all those hours learning from my dad (a former medic), working as a vet tech,  first responder training (back when I was a storm chaser with the NWT), and the countless hours watching doctors patch ME up, have finally paid off! 

Now I just have to figure out how to make the most hyper-active child on earth stay calm enough not to continually rip that thing open.  (Notice the fresh blood in the pic? We had only been home about 30 minutes!)

I picked up this week’s food shares and thought it blog worthy:

Technically, my weekly share consists of the 2 dozen eggs, the 2 bags full of peaches, pears, nectarines, and apples, the squash, cucumbers, zucchini, spring onions, lettuce, collards, potatoes, lemon cucumbers, kohlrabi, eggplant, carrots, hot peppers, dill, parsley, cabbage, baby spinach, and more lettuce.  In addition, I also received my canning share for the week–2 full boxes, which equals about 45 pounds, of green beans, as well as a 20 lb. box of broccoli to make up for the aphid-infested bunch last week.

S and I were both up until almost 11 last night chopping and slicing what we could for the dehydrator, I froze all the cooking greens, and blanched, chopped, and froze as much broccoli as I could stand.  After working for over an hour, I finally called a fellow-CSA member/friend and offered her the remaining 10 lbs or so of broccoli.  I have officially lost count of the number of gallon-sized bags of broccoli I have processed between last week and this week! 

Now, I have to start canning.  I hope to complete one canning project each day to be done by the weekend.  I have the green beans, which will be mixed with some wax beans from last week’s share, and some cucumbers to turn into pickles.  I also have some cabbage, zucchini, and squash to chop and freeze yet.  Whew, I am finally understanding why harvest season is such a busy time for farmers!!   But it will be so nice to have such delicious and nutritious food put away for this winter!

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