March 20, 2013
The way I see it, there are two kinds of nightmares…the kind that are so intense you wake up screaming and terrified to the point you can’t sleep again, and then the kind that are just bad enough to give you a restless night, put you in a bad mood the next day, but not really intense enough to wake you. Our week has been akin to the latter. I had trouble posting this week, as I hate posting negative things, but I might as well summarize…..
It all started 2 Sundays ago, when a neighbor called to report a doe in labor and having trouble. At some point during her labor, the kid’s foot had punctured her uterus. I theorized this when, exploring for another kid in there, I felt my hand go through a hole and I could feel her intestine. Her contractions had stopped with the kid still in the canal. I barely managed to pull and save the kid, but the doe quickly went downhill over the next 24 hours. The owner asked my hubby to shoot her, and we cut her open afterward to confirm our suspicions. Sure enough, not only was the uterus torn wide open, but mucus, tons of amniotic-type fluid, and afterbirth material was all floating around in her abdominal cavity. The kid seems to be doing OK, though it has definitely had a rough start. Although it wasn’t my doe, and while I am thankful the kid survived (so far), it wasn’t exactly a welcome start to kidding season this year for us.
Two days later, we had the final buyer-inspection of our property–the leech field. The test resulted in finding what they thought was a clogged line, possibly frozen (our ground freezes about 5 feet down around here). The next morning, the job that was supposed to be a fairly quick and simple, $400 repair turned into the discovery a failing leech field (still drained, but apparently very impressive that it was supporting our family of 7). Without replacement, it would cost us our home contract, as the buyers couldn’t get a loan (and we certainly wouldn’t want to sell them a lemon anyway). It suddenly turned into a permit-requiring, almost $4000 repair. Due to what was involved in the whole day’s diagnostics, we were forced into MAJOR water restrictions here at the house. It has been tempting to go live in a hotel, but we do kind of have the issue of about 30 animals that need milking or otherwise caring for. In the mean time, I have been letting the kiddos hang out at the neighbors a lot, so they can flush their toilets instead of ours.
The next day, we received the Inspection Objection letter from the buyers–the letter that makes all their requests for repairs and such to the house in order to proceed with the contract. Nothing major, other than the septic (which we already knew), but it gave us a headache anyway. The next morning (Friday), the county inspector came out to give the pre-inspection so we could get the permit. During his questioning of our home followed by his inspection, it turns out that when the previous owners finished our basement, they didn’t bring everything up to code. We had to not only replace the leach field, but also to upgrade the septic tank itself. He gave us permission to add a 250-gallon tank to the already existing one. Once the contractor did the research though (and we trust him), they didn’t make the type of tank we needed in 250 gals. Thus, we suddenly found ourselves paying for a 1,000-gallon tank upgrade. The job that started out as under $500 was quickly approaching $10,000, AND it HAD to be done by mid-April.
AND our trailer is due in any day now, and we have to pay for that. So, we went through our finances. I do have to say, God has blessed us financially over the years. Considering we are a single-income family, with a military working man (meaning he makes about half of what his civilian co-workers do for the same job), we have lived quite frugally for a number of years. We have tithed as the Bible commands, and given above and beyond that whenever possible. I firmly believe God blesses such efforts, and it is times like this when a nest-egg is very comforting. It may not be the way we want to spend our hard-earned and often sacrificially-saved money, but at least we have it and don’t have to go into massive debts at times like this. For that, I am very thankful.
I won’t go into much detail, but over the course of the next couple days, we began working with the realtor on the contract objection issues. One of the major issues was the fact that in the original contract, the house was being sold as-is so we didn’t have to sink a bunch of time and money into it. In addition, the buyers wanted to close early, and we were going to lease it back for a month until we moved. We were OK with that, and the terms we agreed to. We just had no idea that the septic issue would come up. There was a possibility, we could no longer pay their requested rental amount. We also realized for the first time that we had nothing official assuring us of a rent contract after closing, so technically speaking, they could dump us out on the street (not that we thought they would–just a worst-case scenario since we don’t know them). We began talking to the buyers’ agent, asking if we could meet with them personally to discuss and come to an agreement we could all live with. We tried to push the date of closing back. Finally, the agent requested we send him a proposed rental contract. The whole thing was very frustrating, and just another big headache. Again, though, that part at least seems to be working itself out at this point.
In the mean time, my pasture is torn up, we have had to take out a couple trees to allow the big septic equipment to get in, S had to tear down a portion of the pasture fence to give them access, then he has to replace it when they are finished…..blah, blah, blah, but essentially all that time and energy we were kind of hoping to not have to put into this house, such that we could spend our final month together focusing on time together as a family, and preparing for this big move.
Just as I was accepting circumstances as they were, yesterday arrived. I fed the goats in the morning, and everything was fine. I went out for an early-afternoon check of everybody, and Joy was clearly in labor. She wasn’t due for another week. She had every sign of labor, but her ligaments were still in tact. My gut told me this was not a good thing. Long story, short, I believe she was head-butted by Latte (herd-queen), which caused part of the placenta to tear away from the uterus (it was wrapped around the kid), popped the amniotic sac (kid had no lubrication and was only a bit damp when born), and caused her to miscarry. Not only that, but it was the most gorgeous doeling I have ever had–already dead. I had felt it moving in Joy’s belly just the evening before, so I know it was alive and well then. So, my kidding season has started off with a bang too. Now, I am trying to salvage what I can, and at least help Joy get her milk in. She was supposed to be my milker for a couple months so I can start drying up Latte, who is due to deliver in 6 weeks. She only gave me about 1/2 cup this morning, though, so I have no idea what to expect at this point. At least she is eating, but I don’t think she delivered the entire placenta, so now I have to give her a 10-day regimen of vitamin C to help prevent infection.
Starting this afternoon, we are on minimal-to-no water usage restrictions for the septic work. My kids are being sent to the neighbors for 24 hours of it, and S and I will get to live very primitively for a couple days until we get through it. Once again, though, I continually remind myself how blessed we are to have friends and neighbors that have been willing to come forward and really help us out. Because of the kidding/pasture situation, a neighbor is letting us put the donkeys in their large field. Friends are caring for our children as their own, and truly we are blessed even in this time of difficulties. I admit, though, I am praying for no more surprises. After all, in 2 days, I an scheduled to fly back to Red Gate for my trip.
Of course, through all this, we are still trying to maintain our homeschool schedule with minimal breaks (though I have taken the luxury of a couple days off for the kids).
Sometimes, life just stinks, and you wish you could wake up from the endless, restless, migraine-causing type of nightmare.
“2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” —James 1:2-8 NKJV
March 15, 2013
Today is exactly 9 weeks to move day. Still a ways, but lots to do. I have really been packing things that aren’t needed for a while. I have started putting our furniture on Craigslist, as we are selling several large items before we move. As a result, my bookshelf (which is for sale) is looking bare, the canning shelves are beginning to look sparse since we are starting to use up foods, one freezer has been turned off after we combined everything that remained into the other freezer, most of the surplus bee hives and supplies has been sold, and boxes are starting to pile up in our designated box room (formerly our family closet).
School is starting to wind down as well. The kids are on lesson 143 out of 170, so just a few weeks left. The remaining meat is being rationed, so we are eating lots of smoothies, veggies when available, and eggs since the hens are laying well. Five of the hens will be going to a new home sometime next week, and then the following week, the remaining 15 will all be tested for pyllurom typhoid, as required for inter-state travel. Yesterday, my final goat supply order from Hoegger’s arrived, which contained 2 hay-bags for the trailer. Speaking of which, the trailer should be arriving sometime in the next 2 weeks, so that is very exciting.
Hay bags for the trailer, and a few other things for the trip.
We did have a hold up on the sale of the house. The final inspection, our leach field, wound up failing. Guess we now know why it backed up on S while I was gone last year! Now we are on very tight water restrictions to avoid filling the septic tank until they get the leach field replaced. I also have to limit the animals’ exercise while their pasture is torn up with exposed pipes.
Our pasture with part of the leach field dug.
I leave next week for my trip to Red Gate for last minute projects. I will be getting the stalls and barn ready for the animals to be unloaded the night we arrive (probably around midnight), the garden area readied, the carpets and all air vents and duct work professionally cleaned, and if I have time, I will also do some painting in the master bedroom. While I am gone, Joy, my first freshener doe is due to deliver. Now, we all know how things here on the homefront went during my trip last year, so you can imagine my anxiety on this one. If you weren’t reading back then, you can catch up here with Part 1 and Part 2.
Upon my return, we have the final appraisal on the house, and hope to know for sure within a week of that whether the sale will go through. On April 5th, we have a big therapy appointment for A and N, essentially our last hope for help in dealing with their multiple issues (A more so than N). That will be followed by getting some issues with the van repaired, multiple doctor and dentist appointments, prescription refills, getting the animals comfortable with the trailer, some batch cooking for frozen dinners for the move week, a yard sale, and final packing. Due to several “kinks” that have presented in our plans, we are still finalizing our actual move plans…I think we are on “Plan F” about now….but the current plan is looking more solid all the time.
March 14, 2013
My husband has this crazy idea that garages are designed for parking your vehicles in. Imagine that. I guess the idea is to protect the expensive automobile investment from things like weather and other outdoor dangers. Of course, in order to do so, you have to limit the clutter stored in the garage, and I suppose that’s always a good thing.
In any case, we bought our new (to us) truck just over a month ago, and S had to find a way to fit it in the garage. We generally don’t store items we don’t use, so clutter isn’t a big problem. Our 2-car garage is, however, already home to 2 chest freezers, our minivan, all animal and bee supplies except hay (since we don’t have a barn), all our bulk groceries, S’s tools and mini-workshop, and the family bicycles. This didn’t leave a whole lot of room for a full-size pick-up truck. S was determined, though, and this was the end result:
Yup, it’s a little tight.
So tight, in fact, the driver cannot enter through the driver’s door. The driver must climb in through the passenger door (which has only slightly more room), and scoot.
In order to make room for the push bar that was installed on the front of the truck, he raised all the bikes to ceiling level (notice them hanging over the hood), slid the chest freezer over about 3 inches, and VIOLA!
Where there’s a will, there is always a way!! Getting into and out of the truck just helps encourage me to stay on the thin side myself! Mind you, the minivan is our primary vehicle, and we don’t drive the truck a whole lot at this point. That makes things a little easier for the time being. I’m hoping our next garage will be a bit more spacious though!
March 11, 2013
We have serious issues with clothing, socks in particular. It’s not for lack of purchasing new socks, or insufficient supply of hand-me down socks. It’s more an issue of having 5 children who couldn’t care less how they look, who live on a farm and play hard, who would prefer to be barefoot, or at least shoeless most of the time, and who are notorious for losing their good socks and somehow managing to keep up with only the ones that have seen better days (perhaps they are throwing the good ones in the trash?). In any case, as we sat down for some family time last night, I couldn’t help but notice my children’s feet:
Need a better look to see what I’m talking about?
4-yr-old A, wearing socks that appear a little too big for him, but otherwise OK. Notice the shirt collar he has stretched out though. Also, notice S’s work-around-the-farm pants, which consist of patches and duct tape.
6-yr-old M, wearing one normal sock and one sock that clearly should’ve been trashed weeks ago. Then again, at least, she has a sock on each foot…..and one to spare, apparently, hanging under one foot. I have no idea where that came from. Maybe it’s N’s?
4-yr-old N, wearing one sock. He had two on the last time I saw him. Amazingly, it totally disappeared somewhere between when I saw him upstairs, and when he arrived at the couch downstairs.
2-yr-old R, clearly discovered some spare socks laying around somewhere.
In addition to socks, I have had some realizations lately. When a parent has one or two children, and their clothes begin to look like rags, the cause is clearly understood to be “kids will be kids!” It seems to be widely accepted that children can be hard on clothes, wear them out quickly, mismatch, and lose them on a regular basis. I noticed, however, that somewhere between child 3 and 5, this accepted norm turned into pity for the “large family with too many kids and can’t afford to dress them.”
In fact, a great example is a few months ago when we were scheduled to have family portraits done. We chose the white-shirt and jeans attire, and I went out and bought brand new white shirts for everyone. I kept them in the store bag, knotted tightly and high up on a shelf where no little hands could touch them, until the morning of the photos. After the kids ate breakfast, I carefully washed their hands and faces, dressed them, and immediately put light coats on and zipped them up snuggly, in hopes of preventing anything from getting on those shirts. We arrived at the outdoor photo shoot (red rocks equal red rock dust, ftr!) and forbid the children to touch any of the rocks, lest they transfer rock dust to their white shirts. Finally, I positioned the kiddos, removed their coats, and we took the photos. Then, within an hour, N had a nose bleed–you guessed it, all over his brand new shirt!!
Just recently, I once again had an offer for some hand-me downs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hand-me downs, thrift stores, department store clearances, and yard sale clothing. Kids (shoot, even me for that matter!) go through clothes so fast, it’s ridiculous to buy new clothes all the time. However, I do happen to take some pride in the appearance of myself and my children. I prefer clothes that have no holes or stains or tears, especially when going out somewhere publicly. On occasion, one of the children slips past my inspection though, and manages to get into a public place wearing their “play” clothes. I’m sure that doesn’t help any with public perceptions. But, that’s life, and I do have bigger issues to worry about. I just find it interesting how, when I had one or two kiddos, people passed on clothes just to share and recycle. Nowadays, when someone offers hand-me-downs, they are often worn out already, full of stains, and being given to us because the previous owner (often strangers we don’t know at all) seems to pity our “situation”–whether they know anything about our situation or not. When I receive a new bag of used clothing, I often spend a significant amount of time sorting through (often smelly) clothing, trying to find pieces that look half decent and wearable. Sometimes, I get a good batch; other times, it is frustrating that someone would think we are so desperate as to need their junk cast-offs. Nonetheless, for now, I try to be appreciative in the hopes I can always save a few $$ and find some diamond-in-the-rough clothes in that bag, in order to replace some worn-out jeans, lost socks, or other apparel that would suggest my children might be orphans.
March 10, 2013
Yesterday, another blizzard moved in–our third in two weeks. It actually didn’t snow all that much, maybe 5 inches for us, but out where there are no trees (most of eastern CO), the winds got up to 50 mph, with total white out conditions. There were several major accidents, including a 10-car pile-up on the freeway last night. For us, nicely sheltered in the trees, we just got some breezes, frigid air, and frozen roads, just bitter enough we couldn’t play outside. It was perfect weather for baking cookies though!
You can see the wind-blown snow from the roof toward the top left corner of the photo. This was our weather all day yesterday.
Nothing like a good fire in the wood burning stove on a frigid, blizzard night. Actually, I posted this photo just because it is the last of our wood, which means it was our LAST fire in this house!!
Of course, the day after a blizzard is what really matters. Today was Sunday, and it was going to take S long enough to shovel that we were unable to make church. So, we had a little family worship time and then watched our former pastor in Las Vegas online–we always enjoy his convicting, dynamic, and very Biblical sermons! After church, it was play time! I baked some bread, S and M went to a friend’s house, and S took the boys out to teach them how to build snowmen.
S, A, and N playing in the snow.
Daddy showing A how to roll the snowballs.
N rolling the snowman’s head.
The boys in front of their snowman. Yes, the snowman has a pine-bough wig. I’m not sure whose idea that was!
N playing in our snow drift by the driveway. They love it when dad throws all the driveway snow onto the drift to create a big pile of snow to play in!
March 5, 2013
Posted by redgatefarm under Farm Life
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Milk….it’s been around since the beginning of time. The Israelites were promised a land of milk and honey. Third world country citizens can have a lucrative and sustainable business through milk sales from milk provided by their animal. In America, when we think of “farm,” I think most of us would agree we picture the famous black-and-white Holstein dairy cow grazing out in the pasture. Milk is a nourishing liquid in its own right, created by God for sustenance of babies. Every mammal makes it, and you really can’t find another food source more pure and nutritious.
Fresh, raw, whole, pure goat’s milk….Ahhhh! It does a body good!
First, farmers got the idea to bring the cows in from the fields and confine them in dairy dry lots (which, in reality, turned into pens knee-deep in muck and manure). This introduced greater risk of contamination of the milk, so pasteurization became the key. By pasteurizing the milk, it really didn’t matter how the cows were housed or fed or cared for, how healthy they were, or whether they had a decent diet. Pasteurization allowed EVERYTHING in the milk to be killed. Sadly, this included not only the potentially bad organisms, but the good as well.
Pasteurization became the norm, followed by homogenization. Then hormones and preventative antibiotics were added. Ultimately, the actual structure of milk began to change, and, as a result, people began suffering problems ultimately linked to milk. Lactose intolerance, ear infections, Crohn’s disease, allergies, asthma, diabetes, and many other conditions have frequently been linked, at least in part, to the consumption of this new, treated, milk.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, though, now companies are seeking FDA approval to add aspartame to your child’s milk. Yup, you read that right. Aspartame, the horrible chemical-based, artificial sweetener that has so often been linked to migraines in adults, and ADHD, autism, and many other brain issues in developing children. The theory is that adding it to milk will sweeten the milk, and encourage children to drink more. As a Type 1 diabetic, I grew up on the stuff. Then, I began having horrible headaches which I linked to my diet sodas. Not long after, I learned just how horrible this sugar substitute was. As if it wasn’t bad enough in its own right, it actually affects the way the brain functions in such a way that the brain signals the body to CRAVE more sweets. Ever heard of the American obesity epidemic, and then wonder why so many in our population are puzzled by their obesity when they drink only diet soda? Remember how the big companies slipped the pink slime secretly into your meat? Now they are trying to ruin your milk. This is serious stuff, and the only folks who benefit in any way from the use of aspartame are the companies who make it.
Not only do they want to add it to milk, they are also petitioning the FDA for the right to NOT label the carton. That’s right. So if this passes, the next time you go to the store to buy some milk, you won’t have a clue if the aspartame is in it or not. Normally, the FDA requires some type of front label such as “low sugar,” “fewer calories,” or something to that effect to make the consumer aware that something about that product is different from the “standard” product. Not this time though. The label won’t look any different than any other milk…..if there is any “other” milk. They will stock the store shelves with it, they will feed it to your children in the school cafeteria, and if/when your child is hospitalized from some unknown health issue that develops, they will require it to be served to your child in the hospital as part of a “balanced, pediatric diet.” Think I’m joking? Research it for yourself. Just think about the implications.
Now, you may know that I am a huge raw milk advocate. It is because of the health issues our family experienced in the past. This includes some forms of lactose allergies and intolerance (but the kiddos are fine on healthy, grass-fed, hormone-free, raw milk). So, perhaps you are now thinking, “Oh, maybe I’ll just switch to raw milk.” Not so fast! Within hours of learning of this new FDA petition, I also learned that at least one state is trying to pass new legislation that essentially outlaws ANY AND ALL raw milk sales. Others are trying to outlaw herd share arrangements, and still others are busy physically shutting down and arresting raw milk producers. Raw milk is becoming harder and harder to find.
What can you do about it? One thing’s for sure….don’t just sit there!! Contact your representatives through snail mail, e-mail, and phone calls. See if there are any protests going on in your area. Check into your state laws and any legislation currently trying to be passed. As far as this FDA thing goes, they are in the midst of a 45-day window where they are considering the publics’ comments. So comment. Let your voice be heard. Be heard locally and nationally, and say “Enough is enough already!!” Whether you prefer raw or pasteurized milk, milk from a farmer or from a grocery store, it really doesn’t matter. This legislation WILL take away any right you have to make that choice. If you want your child to drink milk, he/she will only be able to drink what is legal–and that certainly doesn’t mean safe!
PLEASE, I implore you, act now. The FTCLDF is good place to start, as well as any info by the Weston A. Price group. You can look into the actual petition asking the FDA NOT to approve this aspartame in milk issue here.
March 1, 2013
I can’t recall if I mentioned it previously, but for several months now, we have been considering and looking into getting a second livestock guardian dog (LGD). Athena, our current girl is 19 months old. We absolutely adore her, and she has certainly earned her keep by protecting our goats and chickens from predators. In fact, we haven’t lost a single animal since she began patrolling. While neighbors have had bear and fox on a regular basis, I don’t think they even cross our property, based on the lack of footprints in the snow. We are convinced she even prevented the theft and possible murder of our goats one night by trouble-making people.
Athena, our faithful LGD
In any case, she is still a pup and really needed a playmate to keep her from getting too rowdy with the goats. She has a bark she occasionally starts, which seems to be a “lonely” bark. I also kept wishing we had a second for when we move to Red Gate. No one has lived at Red Gate Farm for a couple years now, so the wildlife have really moved in. There are frequent sightings and sounds of bobcats, coyote, fox, raccoon, opossum, a resident eagle, hawks, owls, rats, you name it…In the last couple months, there have even been 2 sightings of cougar within 1/2 mile of the farm. While one dog will usually deter a cougar, one dog can be killed if the cougar is determined, but two stand a much better chance of surviving the fight. Then, 3 nights ago, a friend here in CO had her entire small herd of goats wiped out in one night be a single mountain lion (ie cougar). They found the cougar hiding under a bush near the house the next morning–a massive beast at roughly 140 lbs., and her daughters had just been out doing chores. That was the final convincing factor. We decided we wanted another dog to team up with Athena.
After researching, it was clear that the ideal way to introduce an outsider, new LGD to a current LGD is to buy a young puppy. The current LGD doesn’t perceive a threat that way, and in fact, adopts and trains the new puppy. Unfortunately there were no puppies around. I found one litter due before we moved, but the pups were $500 each, and that was a bit out of our budget at the moment. I told S that my ideal would be another Athena, which convinced me to try getting in touch with her breeder. I couldn’t seem to reach him, though. I was almost out of options. I prayed about it, and on a whim the other night, decided to post an ad on Craigslist in her breeder’s town, explaining that I was trying to find this particular goat farmer’s breeding dogs to see if we could get another pup out of them. Almost immediately, I received a response to my ad. A woman in his town was a good friend of his, had gotten a pup from his last litter (he only had 2), after which the farmer had split up his breeding pair and moved out of state. Her female pup was now 12 months old, and had been raised in a very similiar manner as Athena. Due to some changes in her life and goals, the woman had been looking for a new home, and offered to GIVE her to us if we promised to take care of her. She liked the sound of her running free on our larger acreage back east. For us, it sounded like a perfect fit, except for the age.
Iris, our new LGD pup
We drove down south this morning, a bit over an hour away, to take a look at her. I liked her, and she passed my personality tests with flying colors. We brought her home, having to stop once on the way to buy her a collar. She is quite a bit smaller than Athena, a lot more wooly and fluffy (more like a Great Pyrenees), and I suspect, a bit overweight. The goat pen she grew up in didn’t allow for much exercise. I suspect the weight will drop off pretty quickly here, and I am hoping her coat is partly just puppy coat that hasn’t fully shed, and that her summer coat will be more like Athena’s.
Faith and Iris getting acquainted.
I spent yesterday afternoon trying to introduce the two dogs. Let’s just say that Athena is REALLY good at protecting “her” herd, and had no intention of letting this outsider join them. Fortunately, the younger pup is quite submissive so far, so I’m hoping she will continue to be so, in which case, it could help Athena feel less threatened. I was also very happy to see that Athena still considers me Alpha, and would quiet down when I told her “Enough.” In any case, it’s going to take a little work on my part. I kept a fence between them at all times yesterday. Iris was pretty lost and insecure in her new pen next to Athena, so I put Faith and Joy in to keep her company. That seemed to help bring a bit of spark back to her. Latte, my more aggressive doe, is with Athena so they each have company. By my last inspection last night, the goats seem to have taken right to Iris. At feeding time, Iris gently, but firmly protected her food (which I like to see). She seems to be great with the goats, so I am very happy about her temperament. I also have to admit, now that Athena is relaxing, I have NEVER heard her so quiet! She had quit barking at Iris by nightfall last night, and I haven’t heard her bark since, which I find very interesting!! It may confirm that part of her barking has just been out of lonliness.
Today, they seem fine with each other on each side of the fence, even considering some playful tail-wagging at each other on occasion. Today, I am going to take the next step and introduce them without a fence (on leashes). We’ll see how it goes.
Athena keeping an eye on Iris as Iris got acquainted with the goats yesterday.