November 2013


Following in her brother’s footsteps, M has been working hard to save money to buy a pet hamster.  After some extra work she did on Saturday, she finally reached her financial goal.  I took her to the pet store, and she picked out a hamster to bring home and call her very own.

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When M witnessed JR get his cockatiels, she got excited.  She decided she wanted a hamster.  At age 7, she was trying to save, but was occasionally tempted to make a spur-of-the-moment purchase.  I periodically reminded her what she was saving for and explained how unplanned purchases would delay her goal.  Other times, I let her blow it and set herself back.  Something clicked for her about a month ago, though.  I think she finally saw that she had ALMOST enough saved, so she hit the chores hard.  The girl has been a workaholic around here lately, doing all kinds of things to earn those last few dollars.  When she had almost enough, I sat down with her and introduced her to price-comparing and researching quality.  We found a hamster cage she liked, some food, and some other odds and ends, and bought it off the internet (it saved her about $15 over the local store prices).  I also bought her a book about hamsters to read while she finished saving the remainder for the hamster itself.

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It was almost surreal standing in that store with my little girl Sunday evening.  I showed her the hamsters she had to choose from, and she started spouting off all sorts of facts. “These prices are pretty good, because my book says hamsters sell for $x much.”  “I don’t think I want this type of hamster, because they are nocturnal, but these types over here aren’t, so I think I would like them more.”  Thankfully, she didn’t repeat publicly what she had told her dad previously, “I decided I want a female, because male hamsters have testicles the size of their heads, and I just don’t think I want to hold a male as much as a female!”  Such innocence on her part, but I think she totally made her dad blush!  The girl knows far more about hamsters, and JR knows a lot more about cockatiels than I ever dreamed they would learn from those books.  I cannot express to you how much I love seeing this.

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Now that they have both taken the steps of pet purchase and ownership, S and I are here to guide them, help when asked, and support as needed.  The birds and hamster are solely their responsibility though.  We have discussed at length that we will not take care of these animals.  If a cage door is left open and the animals escape, or a water dish is not refilled or feed is forgotten and the animals die, as much as I would hate to see that, we believe it will be a critical life lesson.  So far, though, things are looking good.  M has stayed pretty busy taming her new hamster, bringing it treats, and trying to make it friendly.  It seems to be working, which results in one very proud little girl!

I almost lost a goat Sunday morning.  I had worked REALLY hard on some outdoor projects Saturday, leaving me so sore by Sunday I could barely crawl out of bed.  I decided we were skipping church, as I couldn’t bear the thought of the hard pew and the squirmy 2 year old in my lap.  I even asked JR and M to milk for me, as I didn’t think my arms could handle it.  When they got to the barn and called in the goats, all came running except Faith.  That just doesn’t happen.  They went looking for her, and found her up the hill, tangled in a pile of poly-wire and plastic fence netting.  I had it around my chicken coop, but turned off the electricity after moving the hens into the barn.  In any case, she had gotten herself hopelessly tangled, and was clearly in distress.

JR, at 56 lbs, did his dead-level best to free the 120 lb goat, but just couldn’t.  He sent M to the house to fetch me.  So much for my morning of rest.  I really wish I could have moved faster.  I suspect that, rather than the heroic savior I would like to picture myself as, I looked more like an old granny, dressed in my PJ’s, robe, and muck boots and hobbling my sore and aching body as fast (probably just over a snail’s pace with my sore back) as I could across the pasture.  I could see long before I reached them that it was not good.  The goat was alive and standing, but I didn’t know a goat’s head and neck could swell that big!  The cord was caught and wrapped so tightly around the base of her neck, just in front of her shoulders, that I couldn’t even see it laying under the hair.  I had to dig for it.  It was so tight, she couldn’t swallow, and was making these horrific gurgling noises each time she tried.  Every part of her body above the cord, including her neck, jaws, forehead, cheeks, and chin was swollen to twice it’s normal size.  She looked so strange.  I managed to untangle the cord enough to let her swallow, but I couldn’t get it off.  I sent JR to the barn for my sharpest scissors, and cut the cord, finally freeing the poor girl.

Here's Faith's profile from a few months ago.  Nice, tapering head and very slender, feminine neck.

Here’s Faith’s profile from a few months ago. Nice, tapering head and very slender, feminine neck.

Here's Faith yesterday, with everything swollen.

Here’s Faith yesterday, with everything swollen.

If the situation hadn't been so frightening, I would have laughed.  She looked so goofy with her puffy face!

If the situation hadn’t been so frightening, I would have laughed. She looked so goofy with her puffy face!  It’s hard to see, but if you look below her jawline, you can get an idea that her neck is almost as thick as her shoulders.

She was a bit more nervous and crazy-eyed than usual, but otherwise seemed fine.  I dosed her with a good bit of Vitamin B complex–an excellent remedy for stress or if there is any issue that may affect appetite.  It just keeps things functioning like they should.   I offered her some hay, which she happily ate with seemingly no issue.  I am not yet convinced she’s out of the water.  She still has some swelling to her jaw, and weird lumps randomly located around her neck and face.  She also appears to have a mild case of scours, and her breath seems funny–almost like necrosis had begun, which I can’t explain.  If I hadn’t been in so much pain myself, I also would have given her Vit C and probiotics, but I figured I would give it later if her condition changed.  The vets I used to work with always told me that the first 24 hours after a traumatic injury are the  most critical.  If the animal survives through that period, then there is a really good chance they will be fine.  It’s basically the rule I use now.  I am, however, going to assume she will have a very sore throat for a few days, so I will be watching her feed consumption closely, and go from there.

As usual, there is never a dull moment around this place.  Sometimes, I really wish there would be!

I apologize for my absence of late.  I am just plain worn out.  God said in the Bible that “It is not good for man to be alone.”  I now believe that probably applies to women too–especially when the alone woman has 5 young children to care for, a home to set up, a homeschool to manage, and a whole farm to run.

It’s been almost 5 months, and I think I’ve done pretty well, if I may say so.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and my capabilities, which has been good for me in terms of confidence.  As a diabetic who has never really lived alone, working hard and dealing with fluctuating blood sugar levels is an ever-present concern.  Certainly, I have my children with me, the oldest of which are well-trained in how to use the 911 system, but still.  The time has forced me to really learn how my body handles activity and stress.  Granted, my mom has come up for a few weeks to help out, S has visited every few weeks, and I have hired or requested help on occasion when a task is just a little too much for me to handle.  Nonetheless, it has been a good summer and now here we are into fall.

And I almost managed to get through unscathed.  I did lose Mocha, my doeling earlier this summer, I’ve lost a barn cat (but replaced him with 3 more) plus a whole litter of kittens, as well as almost a dozen chickens (but I did save one from the claws of death).  I managed to kill off all the worms in the vermicomposters, and I’m not confident the bees are doing that great.  I almost lost a calf, but managed to save that one with vet intervention.  Nonetheless, I still have 3 goats in milk, a doeling, a buck lined up to breed them to this fall, 16 hens, 2 hopefully pregnant beef cows and their calves, a donkey, a jersey heifer (possibly pregnant), and the cats and dogs.  Plus the new additions of house pets to include 2 cockatiels and a brand new hamster.  More on her later.  I have allowed us to eat out too much after a rough day, and I can only “do” the boys’ therapy exercises more than I “don’t do” them.

I admit, though, I am tired.  As in totally and completely, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, you name it exhausted.  It’s amazing how our body can pull us through to do what we have to do.  And every now and then, I’m really good at pushing mine to the brink!  I have decided, however, that I work much better as a team player.  I am ready for my hubby to come home.  I’ve reached the point where I am way too cranky, way to impatient with the children, and always too tired to have any fun with them.  I’m rather isolated out here, with few visitors and no family involvement (except when mom comes to help), and with all the kiddos, I try to limit my excursions.  I am in survival mode almost all the time, which is not good.  My recent quarterly lab work proved it.  I need a break.  Mercifully, my time alone is coming to an end.  I feel, in a way, like I have run a marathon.  I knew it would be a tough period of time without S, and I can honestly say I’ve done my best (which isn’t always as good as I would’ve liked, I confess).  Now, I feel like I am in the final mile, and I’m gonna make it, and life is about to become everything we’ve dreamed of–together.  Hopefully all I’ve managed to accomplish in the last few months will mean we’re much further ahead next season, than if we had found a way for me to stay in CO.

Maybe, after he arrives, I will actually get around to posting more regularly.  It certainly isn’t from lack of happenings around here!  There’s never a dull moment, it seems!