Thursday, March 20, 2014

Update from Black Sheep Farm

It's been a while since I've said anything about this little place we call home. So I figured I'd do some introductions. Plus, my friend Cate (hello, Cate!) asked me ages ago to put up some more farm pictures. Also, as a disclaimer, please remember that I am merely a farmer-ette-in-training, with barely enough motivation, and nearly no expertise on farming. I do have some aspirations to have a little vegetable stand one day, and eventually enough goats to sell (yes, that means for their not the cute ones!). we go!

This is about my daily level of excitement over farm chores. I'm holding a bag of hay for the goats. The hay bag is a very good invention, if you keep it full. If it gets empty, it gets eaten (the bag, that is). There's a metaphor for life in there somewhere. 

This is Leo's usual attitude about farm chores as well: let's find a stick.  He does like to dig in the dirt (what 3 year-old boy doesn't?) and to drive a tractor (again...3 year-old boy...). I will be far too delighted when he is old enough to feed the goats on his own. 

Can't get enough of that smile.
Daniel is pretty content to pal around with Mom and Leo, so long as he can jump in all the mud puddles.

These are the goaties. 
Bramble (R) and Raspberry (L) were our first official farm animals (if you don't count cats and dogs). They are so named, b/c goats are supposedly about as easy to care for as raspberry brambles.  Supposedly.  Houdini raspberry brambles, we'll say. 

Those two are supposed to become matriarchs, but so far our efforts at raising a buck to older age have been...a learning experience?


This little goat is our Prince Reagent, the Patriarch-Elect of the Goat herd. He is a Boer-Kiko cross (75-25), so he's supposed to get really big and be wonderful. We'll see. He is just called "the little goat" right now, because if we really named him officially, it would jinx everything. Some times I'll say his name is Izzy, or Israel, and his name in his previous life was Klondike (because he is brown-white-brown), which I refused to endorse. I've learned not to get my hopes up too high in farm life. The unexpected is right around the corner...

This is the sheep. Most of the time we just call him "the sheep" or "mean sheep", b/c he's pretty ornery. There was a time when Leo said that his name was "Red"...

Don't let that look fool you...he's a toughie.  And he *will* ram you. Srsly. I used to be more mad about the sheep's existence on our farm, which is understandable, considering he's knocked me off my feet more than once, but I've since decided that since he is a rescue animal, I'm getting points in Heaven from St. Francis and St. Isiadore (patron of farmers) by being nice to him. Nice from a distance, that is.

This is the chicken coop/yard that Steven built. He's handy like that :). The orange bucket things are water-ers that self-fill via gravity tubing from the outer white bucket (in the summer, when water doesn't freeze), and they are lovely lovely. Yes, I just called a chicken water-er lovely. Judge away.

Some of our flock. The chickens are very good layers when we're not in a polar vortex, and we haven't had to buy eggs since they started laying (well, except for 2 doz. during said polar vortex). We also *had* four ducks, which were quite funny-looking, and a delight to watch when swimming in  their little kiddie pool (not pictured, b/c it's yucky looking). Unfortunately, an opossum (possum?) killed them all last week. Remember what I said about the unexpected in farming?  Perhaps there's another post in this thought, but I think that it's rather healthy for us to experience death up close like this. Circle-of-life, ashes-to-ashes, and life isn't always a bed of roses on a silver platter and all that jazz.

And so, we truck along here on the "farm", where time passes slowly and the children grow too quickly. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Keeping Up Appearances: Let's Just Not, Okay?

 Super cool news! My debut as an official Contributor to the new hip site Real Housekeeping is today!

Ethel says go check it out!
Real Housekeeping is "a collaborative, multi-contributor blog dedicated to helping real people find real home solutions"--and I'm really excited to be a part of it!  There is so much out there these days bombarding the average (and the Rockstar) to be, well, let's be honest, to look a certain way, with all of their ducks in a row, pies in the oven, and baseboards sparkling, that it's refreshing to find a community of people who take all those projects you tackle around the house and present them from the "real" perspective. This is the perspective of those who've been in the trenches and know that all the events and projects that you aren't pinning on Pinterest or posting on Facebook are where you live 85-90% of the time. No one is doing everything perfectly all of the time.

The problem is, that there isn't anything wrong with having a clean house, or trying out a fancy new recipe, or making your child a super cute costume for a special holiday. Where we get lost is when we think badly of ourselves or of another person because of it. Oftentimes the people who seem like they've "got it all together" are just a lot better at advertising. Your obstacles and responsibilities at this time in your life are unalike anyone else's. You have no obligation to meet a standard that is set for another person.  All that is required of you is to live well your current circumstances and relationships. 

So, my message today is for all of us out there trying to "keep up with the Jonses": let's just not. But if you have a house-hold project to tackle, a new recipe to try, or want to laugh when it all bites you in the butt, come on over to Real Housekeeping. We have cookies.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spring? I Hope Eternally.

You guys. It was 47 degrees Fahrenheit outside today (I specify so that all my international readers will understand. ha.).

This happened:
Almost two years old. I kid you not.
Just look at that face. Joy, my friends, sheer happy-sunshine-outdoor-playtime-muddied-jacket-joy. The air is damp, the ground is soggy, and one of the ducks has started laying again. I'm going to go right out and say it: Spring is on the way. 

I know that you know this. Spring has a way of arriving pretty much every year, but somewhere along the dark-and-dreary-frozen-bleak of February, we forget. We become a winter people, slogging along with the determined steps of folk who are just trying to get through one more day. 

And then we enter into March. Oh, March, you sly vixen, you. The snow will yet fly on us, the ice will yet cause our spring-longing hearts to fear, but March brings us the promise of gleeful days, unbound by hats-and-gloves-and-boots for every trek. 

I think it is no coincidence that Lent often falls in this in-between time of the seasons. Though we are led out into the desert liturgically, we have the promise of the Resurrection to sustain us.  Though we join ourselves to Christ's sufferings, we know what joy awaits us. Our winter shall not last forever; we are a Spring  people, a Resurrection people, and we shall yet sing again!


"I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

Thursday, March 6, 2014

5 Ways to Avoid Becoming My Patient

I haven't been a nurse for very long when I compare my career to some of the Pros out there, but I have learned a few things. One of the main ones is this: PREVENTION. With all of the sickness, chronic illness and emergency situations we've got out there, there is often a common theme: This Could Have Been Prevented (or, at least lessened to some degree). With this in mind, I sought the assistance and advice my dear friend Meredith, who is basically Wonder Woman: she's in the ER for work, and a Paramedic in her spare time:

This is what Mer looks like on the inside, under the scrubs.
SO, without further ado (too late!) I present to you:

1. Don't be Stupid
Seriously, people. To quote Meredith: "if it seems like a bad idea, it probably is". A lot of injuries occur because people think things like "just for a second" or "that can't happen to me". It can, it will, and you will be in the ER with Wonder Woman piecing you back together again, because you were dumb enough to stick your hand into the snow blower. (Then again, maybe the ER with Wonder Woman isn't such a bad thing...)

2. Just Stop
Smoking, drinking, eating crap all the time, not exercising etc. etc. etc. Just as the people above think "it'll never happen to me" before they go and do something dumb, so also do TONS of people think this about their long-term health choices. Some chronic health conditions have genetic components, or environmental factors, but even in those situations, YOU are the biggest piece of the puzzle. Yes, I am being a meanie here, but coronary artery disease doesn't just land in your lap one day: it takes years and years of poor decision-making regarding your health. Cardiac and pulmonary diseases aren't pretty. You are the one with the power over your choices, and you can decide now to make better ones. We are called to be good stewards of all the gifts God gives us; this includes our health and our bodies. 


3. Educate Yourself
With the above in mind, if you are in a chronic health situation, or have a family history of a particular disease, or are a parent who will probably run into some health crises at some point (so...everyone): do some reading on the subject. Plain old Google searches will get you pretty far, although be careful about drawing too many conclusions without consulting your doctor:

But in truth, even if you are in poor health, you shouldn't throw in the towel. There is a lot of benefit from making healthy choices now, and turning things around. Did your doctor tell you that your cholesterol levels are off? Is your blood pressure running high at every month's parish health check? Do some research and find out what you need to do to turn things around and stay ahead of the game.

4. Give Your Child the Motrin
This is a special PSA from Meredith. She says that 9 out of 10 times in the ER, she just has to give a sick/fevered child Motrin, make sure they can take in a Popsicle, and they are good to go home. This is encouraging, that there aren't more worse situations going on, but the point is that you can do those things at home and avoid the germ-y ER.  Don't wait to intervene for your child. If she is sick, or has a fever, keep her well hydrated and give the appropriate dose of Tylenol or Motrin. You can help to bring down a fever by applying cool cloths to the forehead or body, and by making sure her fluids aren't depleted: dehydration will cause/worsen fever. Of course, you should contact your baby's or toddler's pediatrician if you are concerned or have more serious issues.


5. Think Ahead
This piece is in regards to being elderly, so it's for all of us, so long as we make it to age 65+ by following steps 1-4 (::wink::). You are eventually going to be frail, and unable to do a lot of the tasks that are mundane and easy right now. Plan ahead for some of the bigger questions:
-who is going to help you?
-what modifications need to be made to your home to make it safe for you to live in? (necessities on one floor, walk-in shower, wheel-chair accessibility)
-does someone close to you know your wishes for medical interventions?
Also plan some of the smaller things, like taking extra time to be safe. Don't go running down an icy set of stairs in ridiculous (or even sensible) shoes. Your hips might not lie, but they can break!

You can get pretty far with some common sense and an internet connection, but if you get into trouble, always remember to be nice to your nurse...she's the one with the needles!