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Sunday, December 30, 2012

good by 2012


Thank goodness 2012 is almost gone!  This year has been hard on us physically, mentally, and financially.  I have never been this excited for a new year to begin. 

Since May, I haven’t been able to walk very well and it seems to be getting worse.  I think a lot of that has to do with all the weight I have gained since I am so sedentary.  I am going to a new doctor.  He is a holistic healer.  That is something I can believe in.  He is treating me with supplements and homeopathic medications, plus he will use chiropractic and acupuncture as needed.  I need something to believe in, and modern medicine has not done it for me.  Phil seems to have gone downhill this year as well.  He has been wonderful taking care of the critters and filling in for me when I can’t do something.  I see his aches and pains ….. and as much as I want to do more, I just can’t. 

Mentally, a lot of things have gone on that make us sad.  There is nothing we can do about it, but both of us are sad.  Hopefully in 2013 the things we can’t control will take care of themselves.

Financially, the commission plan at work changed and I have not been able to meet my goals many times this year.  I make a good base salary, but our mortgage payment is so high, that I have to dip into savings most months to make the payment.  I try to figure out how to make more money.  I sell the soap I make.  We sell eggs to offset the cost of the chickens and honey to recover the cost of the hives.  I have even sold a few butchered rabbits.  In 2013 I will explore more things to make and sell such as lip balm, body lotions.

2012 has not been a complete bust.  We have started to raise rabbits for meat.  That has been a good and horrible experience.  It is good because those bunnies are so darn cute.  I love the babies.  I love cuddling them and watching them grow.  The horrible part is butchering them.  The first time our friend Doug came to help me.  I have a really hard time with the actual killing.  It is so hard to take the life of cute little animal, one you have seen every day of its life.  The chickens are difficult, the rabbits are down right HARD!  I am hoping I will find an easier way to do it …. I don’t want them to be in pain.

In October we got the news that Shelby is officially in remission.  She has been a poster child since her radiation therapy.  We are so blessed by her.  I hope I will live long enough to see what profession she decides to go into.  She is such a sweet a loving little girl.

My ramblings are over for today.  Tomorrow is the last day of the year.  I pray for a much better 2013. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012


Merry Christmas.  I didn’t realize how lonely Mom and Dad must have felt after we all grew up and had our own families.  We always went there for Christmas Eve but Christmas day was for our own families. 

Christmas Eve at Mom and Dads was always exciting.  Dad always insisted on lots and lots of candy.  They would go into Omaha to buy candy.  When I was a kid I remember going to P street market for Christmas supplies.  We would always get apples and oranges.  Then we would fill up bags of nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, peanuts.  You get the picture.  There were bins full of candy.  Dad would scoop out chocolate stars, peanut clusters, caramels, on and on into brown bags. 

Christmas Eve would start with a candle light dinner of fish and lentils.  Mom would always tell the story of Jesus birth and growing up a poor son of a carpenter.  Our dinner was to symbolize a poor mans dinner.  As kids we all hated lentils but we ate them because we were told the more lentils you ate on Christmas Eve directly correlated to the wealth you would have the following year.  (When I was a kid Grandma would be with us for Christmas Eve.)  After dinner dad would always say something like …. Did you hear that?   Did you hear those bells?  The kids would throw on coats and run outside to look for Santa.  We would always run all the way back to the apple orchard (I can’t remember why we went that far back) then walk around looking into the sky.  After a bit (it always seemed like an hour but was likely 5 or 10 minutes) we would hear jingle bells and Dad would yell “Did you see him?”  or something like that.  We would run back to the house but Santa was always gone before we got there.  We would go into the house and the dining room table was COVERED with the nuts and chocolates we got in Omaha.  The Christmas tree was piled with presents of every shape and size.  As the family grew and I added two girls then Barb added two kids (Betty and Marg never got home for Christmas) the piles of gifts got larger.  (After Dad died Mom went even crazier with gifts.  As a single parent I always felt inadequate because I was not able to provide for the kids as much as Mom and Dad did.)   The floor was covered with paper.  We were encouraged to rip into gifts with gusto. 

I can only imagine the let down Mom and Dad felt on Christmas day when they were all alone.  I never thought about what they were feeling. 

Phil and I have had a trying year … it has been physically, financially and mentally challenging.  It was no surprise that Christmas seemed to loose its normal excitement.  Marci, Matt and Mike are all far away so there was no way they would be here.  Delana lives 15 minutes away but her schedule is full.  They came out Christmas Eve morning for 3 hours.  The kids had to go so they could spend the rest of their day with their dad.  Phil and I had agreed not to stress about buying each other gifts. We didn’t even get a tree this year.  There was NO Christmas spirit at Pooh Acres this year.

We decided to do nothing today.  We had planned to go to a movie, but that seemed to be too much trouble so we decided to stay home.  Phil did the morning chores, and I did the afternoon chores so almost all day was spend doing nothing.  I don’t think I could do that every day, but it was fun for one day. 

2012 has only a few days left.  For that I am grateful.  I am hopeful that 2013 will be much kinder to the O’Leary’s and Pooh Acres.  

 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My feelings .....


This has been a difficult year.  I sprained my ankle in May, and never really seemed to recover.  I had trouble balancing on the rough gardens.  It seemed I could no longer do the work I knew I needed to do.  The gardens suffered through the summer.  They were full of weeds .. plus I could not keep up with harvesting. 

Through all of this I felt like such a failure.  What was happening to me?  Why could I not keep up?  Why was there such a huge change in me? 

I did a bunch of research and realized I have plantar fasciations and I felt a bit vindicated.  I also knew I needed to get it taken care of.  I decided to go to a podiatrists and get it taken care of.  He agreed that I had diagnosed it correctly and told me I needed a shot of cortisone to make it feel better.   I said NO, I don’t need that … and I really meant it.  He was a sweet talker, and made me think I DID need it.  I felt GREAT the next day and told everyone what a wonder it was!

The following day my foot felt bad again.  It hurt SO bad it was again difficult to walk.  I had an appointment for a massage. She took one look at my foot and refused to touch me.     She said it looked like cellulites and she didn’t want to make it worse. 

I went back to the podiatrists the next day and he confirmed it was cellulites and put me on antibiotics.  It got much worse from there.  I got a “bump” on my ankle that got redder and bigger and hurt so much I could not walk.  I was put on another antibiotic and sent home.  The “bump” on my ankle grew huge … it was about 2 -  3” around and 2” tall.  After a week in bed it festered enough that it was a giant pus pocket.  I went back to the doctor and was told I needed to go to the emergency room.  In the time it took us to go from the doctor to the emergency room the “abscess” had broken and was leaking into my shoe.  I spend 4 or 5 hours in the emergency room … just getting it cleaned up.  I got some good drugs … but it hurt so bad the drugs didn’t begin to touch it.

I was put on another antibiotic and sent home to “rest”.  I followed up with my family doctor 3 days later; she did nothing for me, bandaged it back up and sent me to a surgeon.  He cleaned it up and sent me to a wound clinic a few days later.  By this time I was taking 3 antibiotics and feeling awful from the effect of all of them, but I had to go back to work … I had never been gone from work for this long.  I have been back to the wound clinic at first every week, then every other week, and now finally I am at 3 weeks.  I have been under a doctor’s care for 3 months and the bills are piling up like crazy.  I am feeling much better …. But at times it still hurts to walk, mostly on bumpy ground.  

Phil has been wonderful taking care of me.  He is the kind of person who can’t stand blood or oozing wounds …. (He had to leave the emergency room).  He has really stood beside me.  In the beginning he had to bandage the wound twice a day.  Now it is only once a day.  He makes sure I don’t to “to much” and makes me sit down when he thinks I am getting tired.  He did all of the end of season gardening because I have been banned from the gardens for the rest of the year (apparently that makes staff infections worse). 

I know I am getting better, but the depression from this experience is awful.  I feel bad that I am not able to do my normal “jobs”.  I feel bad that Phil has had to take over so much of what I normally do and it is so difficult for him.  I feel inadequate … as if I am no longer capable of taking care of myself and my family. 

I am hopeful that in time everything will be back to normal. 

 

 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Butchering


Today was very tramatic for me.  We decided to raise rabbits for food.  Up until now it has been all fun and games.  We feed the bunnies, breed them and play with the babies.   Today was the first butchering day.  I am so thankful for our friend Doug.  He walked us through getting up and running with the rabbits.  He even gave me a doe (she died last Sunday along with 8 of her babies) that we totally fell in love with.  Her first litter was ready to be harvested today so Doug came to walk me through it.  I have been dreading this since the day they were born.  As hard as I tried, I fell in love with the big brown eyes and the soft fur. 

I know these animals were raised for food.  I know that this is the way of life we have chosen and there is a circle of life.  That doesn’t make a lot of difference when you are wacking this cute little animal over the head and taking it’s life.  I held each of the 6 bunnies we harvested today.  I gave each of them a hug and said thank you for the life you have given.  Doug and I said a prayer giving thanks. 

I am sure it will get easier (as it did with the chickens) but today was difficult.  Phil normally takes a nap in the afternoon, so I decided to do the same.  I didn’t take a nap as he did, I slept the entire afternoon away.  I didn’t wake until 7 PM.  I guess I needed the healing time …..

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Stress


This growing season is so strange for me.  I can’t seem to get myself motivated.  I know that I have taken on more this year than ever before, but I just don’t seem to have the ‘spirit” to do what I normally do.  My gardens are full of weeds.  The main garden has been overtaken with weeds ….. I have very little mulch down. The “fruit” garden is unbelievably overgrown.  The garlic and wheat should have been harvested weeks ago.  The peas strawberries and raspberries didn’t get harvested.  Even my house is overwhelming.  The floors are sticky, dust is deep, the dining room table is stacked high.  I am not sure how to get myself organized enough to get my work done.  The only garden that is under control is by the chickens.  Even that is not mulched!

I still have a lot of summer to get through.  Saturday will tramatic, as I butcher the first of our rabbits.  I am thankful our friend Doug is going to hold my hand and walk me through it all.  I really love these little bunnies so this is going to be hard for me.  Butchering the chickens is hard for me, but the rabbits are so cute and cuddly this is going to be HARD!  

I have at least two more big butchering days coming up soon.  We have 25 broilers that are within a few weeks of butchering … and we are getting 25 more on Thursday.  I will need to take out most of our old hens in the fall after the new chickens start laying.  Phil doesn’t want to go into winter with this many chickens.  The cycle of life is not easy on the farm!

Friday, April 20, 2012

New babies at Pooh Acres

Cinnamon started acting really strange about a week ago. She was agitated in fact throwing her dishes around the cage and really looked distressed. Phil and I built a nesting box for her that night, because non experienced me decided she HAD to be in labor. I filled the box up with straw and put her to bed for the evening. The next morning Phil went to check on her, the stinker took all of the straw out of her box and shoved every piece of it out of the cage. OK, we needed to try hay. She has left the hay in her box and displayed absolutely NO signs of wanting to be a mom. Until yesterday!




Yesterday she pulled lots of her fur out and made a nest in her box. No babies last night. No babies at 6 AM when I went out to check her. Finally late morning I asked Phil to look (I am at work ), he said there was some blood on the box but could not see anything. Then he saw a baby. I don’t know how many she has had, I am very excited to go home and look for myself. This is such an exciting time at Pooh Acres. I love babies, and spring time. I am super excited to get a pig. I hope it actually happens!



How could anyone ask for anything better than living on a little piece of heaven? We have been given the responsibility of caring for these animals. They in turn will feed and care for us.

Roasted Vegetables

I have found a great way to cook vegetables and they are so delicious you might not want to eat the entrée. I am probably the only person in the world who has not had roasted vegetables before. I made them for a first time a few months ago, and we honestly ate nothing else, because the vegetables were so good.



I love bristle sprouts cut in half, asparagus, rutabaga, carrots, onion, cabbage, sweet potatoes, green beans. The list could go on and on. After you have a cookie sheet filled with assorted (or just one if you want) vegetables drizzle olive oil over the veggies (don’t go crazy with it) then add seasonings. Every time I make it I put different seasonings on, switch it up. Pop it into the over at 425 or so for about 20 minutes then turn the veggies over and pop it back in for another 10 minutes or so. You can stop here, but I like them crispier so I turn the oven on broil. You have to keep a close eye on them because it will burn easily. I remove it from the oven when it is brown/blackish. I always make more than we can (hopefully) eat because I like to take it to work with me. I don’t even warm it before I eat it at lunch time. The taste of it cold is different, and quite good!


I think I could live on roasted vegetables.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thoughts about my husband


When I  was a child I spoke as a child, I thought as a child.  It took me a long time to grow up, in fact I am probably not totally grown up.  One thing I have done is mature in my feelings.  When Phil and I got married, I loved him.  But now as we have lived together, and worked toward building our dream my feelings have changed.  I am no longer looking at him with little girl eyes (not that I was a little girl when we got married!!) but with eyes that hold the appreciation of someone who always has my back. 
We have worked together to build gardens to feed us, and rejoiced the bounty of the harvest.  He has carried and hauled tons of straw and hay for mulch in the garden.  He has pounded countless posts into the ground to build fences to keep the deer our.  He has carried an amazing amount of jars up the basement steps and then after I have filled them, back down the steps.  He has carried my canners for miles up and down those steps.  He has helped me lug our harvest from the garden into the kitchen to prepare it for storage.  Along the way he has enjoyed some amazing food as well!
He was not excited about following my hearts desire to raise animals.  That didn’t matter he brought in a shed to make into a chicken coop.  He built a fortress for the chickens to sleep in and a huge yard for them to run in.  We raised 150 birds for meat last year (we sold 75% of them), this year we will do that many but not all at the same time.  He has complained about them, but also loves them.  He knows each of the laying hens by name, and sometimes can tell me what chicken laid which egg.  He didn’t complain to much about getting rabbits, and now that we are about to have our first litter, he is as excited as a child.  Pigs, well we will talk about that next year.
My point to all of this, I have the great fortune to be married to my best friend.  He has rescued me when I got a flat tire on a very cold and snowy day.  He rescued me when the tire fell off my car on the interstate.  He has bandaged my cuts and blisters.  He has dried my tears and let me cry when I was sad. He has encouraged me to do what I needed to,  cheered me when I failed.  Loved me when I felt unlovable, walked beside when I am strong, and behind to push me when I am weak.
The road will never be smooth, but without the bumps how can we appreciate the downhill side?  

Monday, February 13, 2012

bread making day

I have been learning more about nutrition, and realizing how much I don't know.  One of the things I am trying to understand more about is sprouting grains.  As I understand, grain doesn't digest properly in humans, it is intended for cattle and they have 4 stomachs to digest it.  Grain has been shown to cause humans to gain weight, and their bodies are not as strong and healthy and they should be. My friend Jen told me how to sprout wheat, which will apparently change the entire structure of the grain and make it easier for the body to digest. 
Olivia gets her turn at kneeding
Last weekend I sprouted a batch of wheat and they dried it in my dehydrated.  I froze it so it didn't spoil.   The kids came out Friday night to spend the night. On Saturday The girls and I made bread.  We ground the wheat into flour.  Olivia was amazed that the wheat could change into such a soft great smelling powder.   We talked about yeast, and how it was a living organism.  They were amazed at how yeast will make the bread "poof" up.  I explained how we needed to proof the yeast with sweetener and make it grow.  Ruby listened with so much attention and brightened up suddenly and said "We have to proof it  to prove that it works".  She got it! 

Ruby is the first to kneed the bread

We used the Kitchen Aid to mix the ingredients but the girl worked hard to kneed the dough.  



We are ready to let the dough rise.




The dough has risen twice and now they are shaping ad putting it into the stone bread pan for the final rise of the dough.





Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the baked bread.  They were to excited to try it!  What a great day.






My new projects

My sister Marg sent us some dish scrubbers several years ago.  She told me someone at the senior center makes and sells them.  They are made from bridal veil lace (what I call tulle) and crouched.  We both love using these to not only wash pots, but for all of our dishes.  I hate to ask her to send me more of them, so I decided to try making them myself. 
I bought a bolt of tulle at a yard sale for $2 years ago.  Marci wanted it for some project so I took it to Maryland went I went to visit (before Shelby and Josef).  I got it back when I wanted to use it for a project in the garden several years ago.  The project never happened so Delana ended up with it to make princess beds for the girls. That also never happened so I got it back last week so I could try making the scrubbies. 
I simply cut 2 - 3 inch strips of the tulle and connected them together

and after chain stitching to make a base circle, then double crochet the rest until I got a circle the size I wanted.  The larger cut makes the pad fuller and a little more difficult to hold. 
But they are great at scrubbing!!!!  I think I will have to make a few more.  It didn't take long and they work SO well. 

My other project is a rag rug made from old jeans.  I ask my family to save all of their old (to worn to pass down)  jeans and will often find them for free at yard sales.  I cut them into 2" strips and connect the strips them roll a big ball  as if it were yarn. 


This is my finished rug.  I am amazed at how bad the ones I made last year are when compared to this one.  We live in the middle of nowhere.  We are outside a LOT and carry a lot of dirt into the house with us.  These rugs take a beating and hold so much dirt.  When I pull them up to sweep the amount of dirt they picked up is amazing.  Last years rugs really need to be treated to the power washer when the weather warms up.  I think it will take a full week to dry them out even if the weather is nice.  I love these rugs because they are so easy on the feet (mine seldom have shoes) and just look good.  Besides, what a nice way to recycle old blue jeans that would normally go to the landfill. 





Sunday, January 29, 2012

January thoughts


January is almost history. I can't believe how fast time flies, and I don't get nearly enough done on a daily basis. I must be slowing down as I get older, but it doesn't feel like it. It feels like I am always busy. I think I started this journey way to late in my life. This is something I should have started in my 20's or 30's.

Phil and I both love Mother Earth News and Grit and usually fight over who gets to read it first. We got a new issue yesterday, and I was sitting at the kitchen table reading about homesteaders (a new catch phrase for people who choose to live like we do) The question was "What is the biggest misconception people have about homesteading". The answer, "That homesteading can be tidy and that every homestead is picture perfect. The truth is it's a messy, exhausting way to live. There are always things to do, and you must learn to live with the feeling of not having accomplished all you wanted to do on a given day". Wow, did that guy look inside my head? I am forever kicking myself because I don't get enough done. I continue to pile more tasks on my plate but have not figured out how to make more time.

Winter has been my time to somewhat sit back and relax after the long hard growing and preserving season. Last winter I crouched rag rugs from old blue jeans. It was a fun way to spend my evenings. This year I took up cheese making. It is fun, and will be very rewarding, but I find it has taken up all of my weekends for the last few months. I keep thinking if I could find a way to not work outside the home I would have time for all of these projects, but I don't know. Phil has not worked for 2 years and he doesn't seem to keep up with his projects. I think I need to find a way to come to terms with being OK that things aren't done the way I wish they were. I don't stress out as much about the house being a disaster. I am irritated that the carpets are not vacuumed enough, but the dishes are done on a regular basis.  I am irritated that the toilet (and the floor around it) looks horrible, but the sheets are washed on a weekly basis.  I am irritated that the furniture is so dusty it is embarrassing, but the dogs are fed and well cared for.  I guess I have picked my battles, and try to get past the rest. 

Sometimes I need to sit back and reflect on what we have accomplished over the last few years.  Yesterday coming home we sat on the road and looked at Pooh Acres.  What a difference from 4 ½ years ago.