Thursday, December 30, 2010

Farm Sign Redo

Our farm got its name when we were staking out for the house, garage and barn. We were working on a scraped off corn field! My mom pointed out that we had three massive oaks on the back edge of our "new" yard. Our new farmstead was christened "Fletcher Three Oaks" For many years, the purchased sign had a hand painted massive Boer Goat buck as its feature. Last December the goats were sold and Shetlands took their place. We tried to free hand paint a Shetland ewe- its harder than you think. Not satisfied with the results, I searched through our pictures and the internet. I found a beautiful ewe that looks like ours..disclaimer...the ewe pictured is not our ewe but a good representative of the breed. We made an 8 x 10 and had it laminated. The sign will once again be put in its bracket on the post. Proclaiming we have Shetlands! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beautiful Days!

We have 6 inches of snow- several storms missed us and these last two days have been beautiful days to remodel the barn. I made the chicken pen wider. I put Plexiglas over the mesh on the door, so when the sheep door is open the chickens don't get a cold draft. With air intakes the coop stays fresh. Happy hens - More eggs!
 The hens and roo are roosting in their expanded coop. Blue Laced Red Wyandottes and some Ameraucanas Just Wyandottes by Spring!

I added two hutches 4 foot off the floor. Each is 2 ft x 2ft x 4 ft long, For a broody hen to hatch and rear chicks or house younger pullets. The hutches currently housing my Old English bantams
 Under the hutches I tucked away the nests. The hens like to think they are hiding when they lay.

Yesterday I gave away some hens and a roo. I took down their chicken pen. Now the sheep have more room. I plan on keeping a few really nice 2011 ewe lambs to add to my flock. Counting the days.....88 days to lambs and goat kids!  I took an after dark picture tonight of the area given to the sheep...a window to the south, a window and  a skylight panel on the east wall (the white square on the left is the hen pen) Lots of sunshine coming in.

Today I paced myself and slowly cleaned the barn. I like it all is fresh and clean. 
Of course Miss Poppy (oatmeal musket fleeced coming 2 yr old ewe) was there --or in the way-- every step of the way. Her new name is "Go on! Poppy"  By Spring she may not come to just "Poppy".
Poppy last summer........
Till later

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Less is More?

I am giving some hens and a rooster to a dear friend. I have too many. I don't know how that happened.....ah I do but let's not get into numbers and purchases.  Reducing number AND taking down a chicken pen A small step in the right direction. By Spring all the Ameraucanas, Old English and Silkies will be sold. I am keeping my Blue Laced Red Wyandottes. They are quiet, beautiful and full of color.Their abundant plumage and tight rose combs help them conserve heat, making them  impervious to the cold. Mind you my chickens are in an insulated walk in pen in the barn where the sheep and goats keep it warm. They are producing large brown eggs in good quantity.
Here is Beach Boy my California Blue BLRW  At 7 months old he is maturing nicely.   Look at his deep broad body, abundant tail and great blue red laced color!
 My 5 adult Splash hens Plump, deep bodies, nice shorter leg and broad builds


 The real excitement is the Twenty 10 and 12 week old BLRW chicks. Mate Blue laced and Splash laced together and you get Blues and Splashes. There is 9 Splash and 11 Blues. The youngsters being 2 weeks apart in age and having rose combs, I am still not positive who is a roo and who is a pullet! But I am watching them and guessing.

Here is a blue laced chick  The blue will  lighten and become more evident as it matures. One of the bigger ones, it has a smaller comb..a pullet?
Hoping a few are Blue pullets  Here is my inspiration and ideal..."Beauty"..not my hen, isn't she gorgeous

Till later

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hi my name is Jerry, and I am a chickenholic

I have Splash Silkies 1 roo and 6 hens, Ameraucanas 1 roo, 6 hens, 3 three month old pullets and 11 month old chicks, Blue Laced Red Wyandottes 1 roo, 5 hens and 20 6-8 week old chicks, 2 black production hens and four 8 week old pullets.....So let's see I have 60 .....and I bought some more?

Yup, I bought some Old English Bantams. OE are small about the size of a crow with out the long legs. They are very tame they will eat grain or corn bread out of my hand. I bought two color varieties-  Brassy Backs 2 roos and 3 hens and Brown Reds 1 roo and 3 hens..and let's not forget I have my incubator It will hold 20 large eggs or 35-40 small bantam eggs.  Hmmm..where can I add more growing pens..........If I stack more of the sheep and goat hay in the garage........ I can add another 6' x 12' pen and still have about 150 bales in the barn.......

Introducing the newest additions
Brassy Backs
Brassy back "Pretty Boy"

Brassy back "Babette"
 Brown Red " Rhett"
Brown Red " Scarlett"

Oh,  proof they eat out of my hand.....piece of corn bread half gone...
They arrive Wednesday by USPS Express mail from Georgia....hence some got "Gone with the Wind" names. I am very pleased with them. They are great representative of the breed, they have excellent Old English Bantam type, small in statute, short backs, full fan large tails, brilliant shiny feathers (I didn't enhance the pics - posted them just as they were taken) All that and ready and willing to be hand pets.....ah just like the rest, ewes that almost crawl into my lap, does that are gentle and easy to milk.
A slice of heaven right here


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

C card

In July Paula started a part-time job at a women's clothing store, BonJos. She really enjoys her job. Some days are very busy, others are slower. This past summer, Paula traveled to Southern Idaho. Idaho is beautiful with a great climate. She reunited with her cousins after 38 years!
 In September, I was unsatisfied with my health. I tired easy and wasn't enjoying myself-- stayed home most days. I decided to change my doctor and my diet. I have added fresh goat milk, pureed green vegetables and herbal supplements. I stopped most of my medications. A new me emerged. I no longer require a mid day nap. My voice is stronger and louder. My muscle mass is returning and I am more active.  I have sheep, dairy milk goats, Old English bantams and chickens-- I try to keep busy- in moderation.
We continue to have our granddaughter Nessie quite often. She just had her 7th birthday. Nessie is a sweetheart. Wakes with a smile and is pleasant all day. She is very caring, good natured and quick. She can read very well and some of her insights are quite remarkable. Of course we are thrilled to be part of her life.
Daughter Jess and her husband Dave. Jess is a rural mail carrier and Dave is home for Afghanistan. They will be moving to New Mexico where Dave will be starting Security school to be a Border Patrol Agent. We are very close and we will miss them but Dave has to take advantage of this rare opportunity. After 12 months old training, Dave and Jess will be stationed on the Southern border for 6 months on the job training. They are hoping his permanent post will be the Montana border. Jess is ready to go where there is no snow and cold. While Dave is at school, Jess and her Big dog "Tonka" -  a Mastiff- will keep each other company.
Son Darren is working at a local auto repair putting his mechanic skills to good use. He is the "good son", always ready to help us. He can handle this old German with soft spoken diplomacy. A visit from Darren is always interesting. He researches on the net and we have the best conversations.

Son Derek and Bek came home and were married in May 2009. November 2009, they returned to Australia enjoying the warmth and being close to her family as Bek is the oldest of six. Bek works in a Music shop and Derek is awaiting his work permit approval--- a process that takes 12-15 months to complete. We miss them. Derek and Bek call often.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Its Cold!

I know here is no wind, but its cold out. We have about an inch of snow, you can see the grass yet. A few drifts by the barn,,that's it. I know that friends further south got a lot more snow so I shouldn't complain. You other sheep keepers will probably shake your heads but when it gets this cold my 8 ewes are locked in the barn. They help keep the barn above freezing....valuable for that feature alone- the rest is a bonus--how much is a therapist these days? Everyone stays warmer--does stay milking, chicken water pans remain unfrozen...and the barn is dry..I must have the ventilation right.  I got 11 eggs today out of 15 hens-- of which 3 hens-- an older one is molting and 2 pullets never really started laying, ready for someone's stew pot. The sheep and goats have a heated water tub...I dip out water so the chickens get warm water in the a light comes on at 2 AM to lengthen their day.....when I pick eggs at 8:30...they are pretty much done laying for the day and I get the eggs before they have a chance to freeze...
Two days ago, the 14 baby chicks in the tub. I came to feed and water them--what 6 chicks in the tub?....I looked 8 had flown out! They are only 2 weeks old today!  I decided well in with the older/bigger chicks you go...counted as I put them in ...12.........found two dead and frozen  they must have jumped out during the 14 is now 12. They are getting along fine with the others.  I have 21 Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, 12 Ameraucanas and 4 black pullet chicks----what's that... 37 about 16-20 pullets  that's plenty! And in Spring I will hatch out a few more batches--
Stay warm, dry and safe

Monday, November 29, 2010

We are doing a bit of house updating

We watch HGTV, "Curb Appeal", "Holmes on Homes", "House Hunters". So we have been gathering ideas for years, Telling ourselves No we can't afford it right now.....recently I thought what are we waiting for? So I said now we are going to do this. Today our carpenter installed a new storm door. He is meticulous--like he working on his own home-- how refreshing! The old door was flimsy, would fly open during a strong wind. At last it hung crooked with day light showing all around. I said a lot of people come to our door and that's all the further they go, and to see that trashy door! The new door is heavy thick double insulated. [If I knew had known that's all it would have cost to replace a storm door~ I would have done it a few years back---gheez.] Its cottage panels match the side windows of the picture window next to it, its quarter panels match the entry way door.  Now that's curb appeal.  Yes the deck settled a bit on the left next Spring my son and I will level it.
The next project is pine car siding on one side of  the center wall that runs the length of house in the four main rooms. So when you walk in you will see it. (see pics) It will be installed on a diagonal in varying lengths. 

The kitchen's linoleum is worn...a few rocks popping through, afew too many knives have been dropped. This last year the kitchen floor speaks to us-- in squeaks and squawks.....the carpenter will add more screws to the sub floor. The computer room, family room and front living room carpets are worn and the many seams show (too many seams in my estimation) All will get hardwood floors. Samples coming....We were surprised to learn that laminate and real wood is priced about the same! We will choose a real hardwood - narrow old fashioned oak with a heavy duty prefinished  sheen, nailed down piece by piece. We both love our farmstead and its location...we're just settling in for the next 20-30 years.
More later

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ode to Poppy

Hi I am Poppy:  I am not the ewe in command around here but I do have the first spot at the bunk.....right by the gate. Most of the time the tall man closed the gate with a black tarp strap. So I wait for my chance. I tested it, dang! is strapped shut....I will keep trying as you never know......Here he comes with an arm load of hay, he just came through the gate.....he did stop to strap it?, he's busy putting the hay in the's my chance, I will give the gate a little push....(happy dance) its opening......freedom- freedom....well I am still in the barn...but let's see,,,,,hey the grain pail....sniff...nose inside...drat its empty....I have watched the tall man before, the rest of the grain is in a tall garage can with a snap on lid....nah the hay stacked to the ceiling looks just like the hay he just carried in.......say what's in this bag....smells kinda funny,, I will taste it, icky icky now its on my tongue  spit spit.....Last time I tasted it, the tall man yelled "Poppy! out of the cat food!" I don't know how the cats can eat that stuff...ish! Ghee its not so interesting out here  I guess I will go back in..oh no the gate swung I am struck and the tall man will know I am out......and he calls, "Poppy you should know better."  He opens the gate and I walk through with  a privileged gait,,,,,as I was out..if only for a few minutes........I will keep trying the gate, one of these times he has to leave a bit of grain in the pail, don't ya think?
Tall man

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Something to consider

I wrote this the other day to share with family...please excuse some words, they were needed to be on point

A man leaned against the store wall, glaring at others going in the store. He was 200 pounds of pure hate. A stony glint of his eyes revealed his hard life. His wife came out of the store and he gave her a cold stare. (bitch he thought) She glared back at him.....(ass hole) They walked several feet apart as they trudged to their car. As he drove away, he started yelling at his wife, he nearly hit a couple coming out of the store.........
.......The other couple didn't notice the near miss....they were laughing at something the other had said. 
This man's step was light for a 200# man. The sparkle in his eyes revealed his caring attitude. He smiled at his wife as he clasped her hand (still the gal he married) She smiled back at him (prince) They casually walked to their car. Before they drove away they just sat there awhile, talking
Your life is a choice.....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Introducing my 3rd Doe "Bubbles"

Bubbles is an American Alpine from the same breeder as my Shilo and Anna. Bubbles being a bit younger is bottom of the pecking order. She is dry but I give her a bit of grain on the milk stand before I milk Anna and Shilo. Bubbles has not had it easy the last year. Sold as a two year old to inexperienced goat herdsmen, she didn't get enough groceries. She kidded last Spring milked heavy but due to lack of good feed and management, by County Fair time she was dry. So I bought her from the 2nd owners as a bit of a rescue. The breeder told me Bubbles has a great background, good udder and is a heavy milker.
Bubbles will be 3 come Spring. She is very tame, friendly and when called she comes running (I think she likes it here!) 


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chick pictures!!

My son Darren stopped by. He has a phone that he can take pictures and email to me. So here is the 14 Ameraucana chicks at 3 days old. They are from extra large eggs, so they are big robust hale and hearty. Some are crazy marked, a few brick red, several with a blue hue to them---they should have some blue on them when they mature. Fluffy cheeks and chins-- show their beards already. The left side of Pic#2, chick facing the camera....throat is all fluffy with its beard. Chick in foreground facing side view shows off its fluffy cheek beard. The first time we had chicks in the laundry room, neat to hear them pip. I peek in often, baby chicks like other babies sure sleep a  lot..
Sire of the chicks, I am hoping that some of the chicks get all his colors!
Cold here today. Sold a few sheep this afternoon. When the cold wind blows I can easily lock everyone in at night....yes babying them I know, but the barn is warmer for me! Eight bred ewes, 3 bred dairy does, 24 adult chickens and 39 chicks. I will have a chicken sale in Spring.......Ameraucanas, Splash Silkies and Blue Laced Red Wyandottes. Add a few next generation to the breeder flocks, and sell started, young adult and year old stock. Michelle I will be contacting you first, as you expressed a need for some BLRWs. We know someone who can get them to you!
Stay warm.......131 days till lambs.....and the April First!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hatch Day!

My first hatch in many years. I set my new Brinsea oce 20 incubator (24 egg capacity) with 20 extra large sky blue eggs-I followed the "hold you by the hand" instructions to the 't'-turned the incubator manually every 8 hours-to turn the eggs, add warm water to the evaporate trough every third day,  and waited,,,,,,,, First chick 3AM Wednesday......they hatch thoughout the day and night  3 chix, 5 chix, 8 chix.......this morning the count was 14.......excellent hatch of robust good sized chicks,,,,,,,,14 chicks from 20 eggs at 70% hatch  that's great!!..... Paula is in Idaho visitng her cousin with our camera, so sorry no baby pictures.......yellow with black stripes, one solid blue, brick red, brown, blue/brown.......cute cute cute.......they are my 3rd generation Ameraucanas    Breed to standard,,,but in unusual colors so they don;t qualify for show,,,,,but I am doing it for me....improving each generation "to see what I can get"
Till later


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Our First snow

that fell and is still here. I know friends in Southern MN got a lot more. My mom in Fergus Falls..40 miles due snow. I woke at 5 AM, checked my email, my cousin Mike was up waiting for daylight to start the hunt. We were emailing back and forth and I wrote to him..
[Some people get up in the morning and say ah Sh_t! and are ready to do battle with the day. I prefer to wake up feeling blessed and embrace the day- Jerry]
I went back to bed. Slept in till 8AM! Walked out to the window (pic above) and said aloud "Ah Sh_t! snow!" then I laughed really hard.......shook my head and embraced the day.
I hope your hunters are happy, your hobbies in progress, wish all your critters well, that they and you are warm and dry


Friday, November 12, 2010

First hatch next Wednesday

Twenty eggs from my Ameraucanas are set to hatch of Nov 17th   Sunday is day 18-that day  is 'lock down" - stop turning the incubator..position it on level...and don't open it till the hatch is complete
The bator has octagonal shaped ends........there's level, one turn left  then 8 hours later one turn right....amazing  No opening of the incubator to manually turn the eggs, which cools down the whole batch.
We'll see how it hatches, talking to others on a chicken forum say The Brinsea oce20 its a great little incubator. My silkie hen Muffin hatches out 3 of my Ameraucana eggs...NOw the chicks are 10 weeks old- all three are pullets and two are blue! A gold/blue and a brick red/blue. The third is the color of Flash2's mother. Impatiently waiting to see how many eggs hatch and how many blue chicks I get from my blue roo Flash2.
Did you know-- that as an egg hatched the membrane shrinks, air sac gets larger, a chick develops from the egg white, turning the egg keeps the developing chick from sticking to the shell membrane, on day 19-20 the chick's beak is positioned in the air sac ( that's how you can hear them pip before they break out) Day before the chick hatches it draws the yolk inside itself, that's how chicks survive the first three days. That's how hatcheries can ship newborn chicks.
Love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching and live like there's no tomorrow..

Its been a while Off Topic

Sixteen years ago, Paula and I married. We blended families my daughter Jess 16, her sons Darren 10 and Derek 8. Jess calls Paula "Mom" and hasn't seen her birth mom in 16 years, the boys call me dad........there were no step-dad. step-kids....we don't believe in "step--"
My mother, aunt and uncle  lost their mother to stomach cancer in 1958 their dad to a heart attack in 1960. So they were all married and starting to have kids.  We all lived within a few miles of each other growing up, The three of them and us kids gathered for holidays,special occasions starting in 1958 after Grandma died. We still gather with spouses, kids, grand kids.....for Thanksgiving, Easter and the last Sunday in July summer picnic at the lake. 52 year tradition and most of us have never missed.
When their parents were both gone, my aunt was 18, my mom 23 (I was 5) and my uncle was 26.
Today my youngest 2nd cousin is 18, our son Derek is 23 and Darren will be 26!  My parents, aunt and uncle were mere kids!
This morning we had a 5 way email going back and forth, my mom, my aunt, two of my closest cousins and myself.....talking about how old they were when their parents died,  how kids today don't know much.......worry for trivia stuff..text Here is a part

My mom: Yes! We were young, but we knew how to dress a chicken and kill it first....cut the head off!, carry the water in and out, wash clothes with a wringer washer, iron the clothes...that we sewed first...put wood in the stove, carry out the ashes, empty the 'pot', bake bread (sorta), wash dishes in a dish pan, dry them with a towel
Now my writing (I will be 56, grew up on a small farm )
We grew up before Aids, terrorists, Dirty bombs, cell phone auto accidents, McJunk food, Remember if you were getting an important call you stayed home to get it, now its in your pocket. Or "hey be quick about it - its long distance." We use to have a 'party line" phone...different rings for us and 2 neighbors...back then others would "rubber" on the phone, quietly listen in,,  We thought we knew more at 18-21..then our kids do---maybe so ah but maybe not. Our 3 kids "get it" to varying degrees.....Darren at almost 26 is the most mature acting and thinking.....I have to say the teen that gave us the most grief.....turned out to be the most interesting caring adult. He helps me alot......put up motion outside light, cut a hole in my barn wall with a tin snips then said It must be hard to put a window in by yourself,,,so let's put it in together. Can discuss religion, politics, $$ management, can fix any computer problem.....self taught --can build a computer from scratch, fix any car, instinctively knows what that "ping" is.  He even understands me
One time Paula was gone to a funeral with her mom...Southern Minnesota.....I had birds that sold on Eggbid that late morning and the buyer wanted them shipped....I boxed them up and ...I was going to gently/carefully drive the pickup to Garfield. A big no-no I know (less than 20% vision and gave up my Driver's License 7 yrs ago (see the Last 7 years  blog) .  Darren happened to stop in. Gently asked where I was going/ I explained.  He spoke with quiet confidence and looked me in the eye "We both know you can drive the pickup to Garfield. But I have time to drive you there. Let's do that.   I of the few persons who can soft shoe me without me resisting..........and he is my son. 
A few months ago, we were sitting in the living room taking. Darren said I want you to know something. I have two biological dad that I go to watch football and discuss car mechanic and you. You are way different "you get it" With you I can discuss feelings and emotions, laugh, relax and you have taught me a lot... [(sniffle) gheez, ah hucks]  So when I say I'm going to my dad's...remember you are my dad too... 
We needed new tires on the car..he said I buy them online.....Tire Rack.....He looked up the site,  found what we needed.......I filled out the info and bank shipping........we saved $100 over the in town price....then they sent us a $25 rebate. He took the car to the mechanic in Carlos... Darren did the work of switching the tires and balancing  cost us $40  Darren lives in Carlos
Darren's mowing maintenance job at the City Cemetery had ended 2 weeks before. Darren needed a job...worried about it more than he let on...When he brought the car back he said I got charged $40 to switch the tires (I paid him)  But next time it will be free he says with a grin........I ask why? Because the mechanic gave me a job.....the other guy isn't showing up.......I start tomorrow.  Darren has never applied for a job, they just fall in his lap.......other people see what we see,,,,,,, The other day I thanked him for something he had done as he was leaving,  and I said you're our guardian you know........he grinned "ya that works".
Paula works on Saturday Darren is coming to drive the pickup for me to get the smelly buck back home.
And yes he knows how I feel  I have told him several times
We hear of people out there that they lose their jobs, housing ect, get real sick and have no one to turn to..  rather a foreign concept to us
I feel blessed to have an outstanding family of origin and extended family- an aunt and uncle who are like 2nd parents and cousins that are more like siblings. They gave and give me the tools to be a better man.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It was all quiet,,,,,

For the past two nights, when everyone is fed and I sit down to milk the goats, its quiet.  I hear a kitten! I search here and there, I have a 4 ft high "wall" of plywood against the hay/straw bales, There is a health gap,,,,,,,,I reach in I touch a kitten in its way up!  Go to the house for a flashlight and the camera.
 Here is a kitten from "Surprise" till Nessie renames it.
looks like its  a couple months old....I think its by itself.  I can't get it out, I will drop down treats to it so it tames down
Is the kitten in the murky bottom?
Here is a cropped close up, such a sweet face

This morning I walked in to the Kitchen!

And I was greeted by the smallest hibiscus tree in full bloom. All the trees have been blooming well but this one is exception.!  Blossoms are 9 inches across and a deeper red/pink than the other red tree, Combine with Sun and 53* outside.......give me a its Spring! feeling.........

Till later


Saturday, October 30, 2010

I have been asked about my physical condition. Its no secret and I don't want to burden anyone. But others wonder how/why I retired in 2003 at 48. Seven years ago on June 4 , 2003 I had a surgery to remove a benign tumor from my neck. It didn't not go as planned. I receive a Bank pension and Social Security. On June 4  2010 I wrote the Last Seven years and sent it to close family and friends.

The Last Seven Years
 This is a chronicle of the last seven years. Please, this is not to invoke sympathy or pity.
As you know I am not the pity party type, and one of my pet peeve are whiners, complainers
 and "woe is me" persons.
It all began seven years ago. I thought my saliva glands were swollen. In early April 2003 I made an appt at the small clinic in St Charles. At the appt I told the practitioner that I was given an antibiotic and the swelling seemed to subside. I told him I had been told I was cardiac aware because at times I can hear my heart beat in my ear. He felt my throat and said, No Jerry we are dealing with something else. You shouldn't hear your heart beat in your ear. He scheduled a x ray at Mayo the following week.
Paula accompanied me to the Mayo appt. Appt with a throat specialist and an x-ray, We were given the x rays and had another appointment at the St Charles clinic. Even we could see large masses that shouldn't be there. The x rays revealed large masses on each side of my throat, each located in the "Y" of the carotid arteries. One on the right was smaller but on the outside of the "Y" and was visual on the outside and the reason I went to the clinic. The left side one was large, not visual on my neck. It was the size of a pop can--yes that big. It was causing voice and breathing problems. It was the cause of a misdiagnosis of Sleep Apnea.......I used an air machine for 5 years.
So a battery of tests were taken at Mayo. MRIs, full body Cat Scans searching for other tumors, a third very small tumor was found mid brain. Take a line in through my left eye and a line going in through my left ear,,that's where it is located. Several exams followed to determine that I was healthy enough for surgery took up much of April and May.
The practitioner was great. After the diagnosis of Carotid Body Tumors, he gave me medical books to learn about the tumors. A great guy, I wish I could remember his name.
My surgery to remove the left tumor was scheduled for June 4, 2003. After a 6 week recovery, the right one would be removed. I was admitted on June 3rd to have the tumor drained and cauterized, so it would be "empty" for surgery. My last meal was a hospital vending machine sandwich. It proved to be bad and I vomited. Little did I know that would be my last meal.
Early June 4th I was prepared for surgery. Paula, Mom and Dad were there. I had requested no others nor our kids be present. Saving them the fear/worry of the hospital setting. I knew the three there could support each other. Surgery was to take 4 hours. I remember part of the elevator ride to surgery, then the drugs took over and I was out. During surgery, I vaguely remember hearing troubled voices from the surgery staff.  After 6 hours, Dr Cherry came out to talk to my family. He told him that it was not going well, several hours to go and he didn't know what the outcome would be. 
The tumor over night created its own blood supply and was full of blood by surgery time. I bleed out twice. I was given 39 units of blood, plasma and fluids. The bleeding was profuse, the doctors had to get the tumor out. They have first thought they could remove the tumor and keep the nerves enact. That proved not to be the case, as they had to cut several nerves to remove the tumor. Later Dr Cherry commented that if I had been 10 years older, they would have stopped, sewed me up and left the tumor in place. But as I aged the tumor would have constricted my throat and airway.  Nine hours later the surgery in over. Due to all the fluids, I am very bloated, waxy to the touch.  I was placed in a drug induced coma until the fluids were gone. Dr Cherry told my family, its a 'wait and see" if he comes to, brain damage, how much he will recover. Pretty grim stuff, and I was in a coma and couldn't help. I was on life support, around the clock nurse at my bedside. Paula told them I had told her to tell them I was a puller, and to restrain my hands,
Arm restraints are against policy, so I pulled out tubes, my trach tube,,,,,,,,,,Before surgery I told Paula questions to answer for me when I came to, how did it go? How am I?  I never thought it would be what day is it?
Unbeknown to me each morning Mom would tell me what day it was,,,,,,,,every day for 17 days, On the 17th day I came out of the coma.Paula had just stepped out, mom said what day it was. With tubes down my nose--to feed me, a catheter, air tube down my throat and monitors everywhere. I couldn't speak so I was handed a grease board and pen, I was so weak, I scrawled --what the hell happ,,,,,,the rest what a crooked line as I couldn't hold up the pen. I was told all the good and bad of the last 17 days. 
A few days later Paula said Jerry look up, I said the lights are too bright. I was whisked for an eye exam.
We got a grouchy older Dr. after the exam, my eye sight proved to be mostly gone. Paula said what can we do/  he barked "you don't understand,  he's almost completely blind. Paula went out of the exam room, I told Mom go help her. Paula has collapsed to the floor.  Later I said I am a Lions member so I can easily get an eye transplant. I was told the eyes themselves are not the problem, the nerves- cabling if you will that transmits behind the eyes is ruined. Can't fix that. So I have no vision in my left eye, and I see out of the bottom inside square of my right eye. If I look you in the eye, I can't see your hair nor lower that your neck.. No peripheral vision.
I came home on July 23, vision was blurry, blood pressure out of control 200/150, a trachea tube that needed cleaning--Paula stepped up to the plate, a small vacuum machine to suck out my saliva. My swallow nerves had been severed- later after several swallow tests it was determined I could never swallow as my throat no longer pulsed the food down and my airway didn't close off. They had placed a feeding tube in my stomach. Liquid food "Promote" was given by a gravity through an IV bag. I was prescribed liquid Tylenol for the pain...will too much Tylenol can cause phantom pain, one morning I vomited and nearing passed out. OK- no more Tylenol.The roller coaster of BP meds. June 25th I had a severe convulsion--- called a chicken seizure-- as I flopped about and was unaware it was happening. Blood pressure had soared. Paula rushed me back to Mayo. Calling Mom on the way. Mom and Dad began the 5 hour trip to Mayo. I was hospitalized to get my BP under control. My trach was irritating my throat and I coughed violently all afternoon and evening. At 8PM I was told if I could sleep for 4 hours without my air machine they would remove my trach,,,,,,,,O>>> now I am coughing every couple of minutes,,,,,,,,a miracle I slept and they removed my trach. June 28th I was discharged.
Several Dr visits. I had a stroke, so my left side of my face drooped. I showered, closed my eyes and got soap in my left eye, I laughed oh ya its doesn't close all the way. My left vocal cord doesn't work, nor the left side of my tongue. I had to learn to walk and talk again.  I would practice "p' words every day. I couldn't say Paula.  so Paula, please, practice. play ect.
Dr Cherry said if I needed to be mad at him to help my recovering that would be all right. I said I wasn't mad at him. My recovery was mine, how far was up to me.  The day we were told I wouldn't be returning to work--ever, was a hard day. We sat on the news for 2 days before we told my parents, It had to sink in and be real, I guess. My banking career was over, eight months at my new position as branch manager,, new house in town, thought I had the world by the tail. Not so.
When I was told I couldn't work, I turned to Paula and said OK we are moving home and I am going to have a hobby farm. I had visited dear friend Carolyn before my surgery. She showed me a nice 5 acre piece of land, that some day she would sell to us for our retirement,,,,we were both thinking way down the road, Well the day came sooner.
Everyone rallied. My aunt "Auntie" came down with Mom for a visit. Dau Jess and husband Dave came from Florida, and son Darren drove down from Alexandria. Best friend Carolyn paced her deck while on the phone with Paula for updates while I was in surgery
In September we purchased 5 acres from Carolyn---now our closest neighbor through the woods. Four acres of native grass hills and oaks, an approach off the county road and a one fairly flat acre of corn stubble. My father-in-law with his skid loader scraped the corn stubble to the property line.
My parents, Paula and I began measuring and staking out the house, the garage and yes the all important barn. I had in my mind where the buildings were to go. The house placed so the big window and front door were in between the two trees we had left in the garden, A side note. We had our sheep at Carloyn's. We went to Land and Resource management for our building permits.  A permit for a barn. Ah in August our area was rezoned rural residential. Paula said but our sheep have been there since June (true)  The director consulted his regulations and granted us a barn permit. So we got grandfathered in by the skin of our teeth. Not being able to have farm animals would have been a disaster. A few years ago, we were inspected and we are permitted to have 67 goats/or we are more than good as we have 10-25 at a given time.  By this time I have gone from 283 to 160 pounds, Frail, a local doctor said get yourself a blender and start experimenting. You are going to die on the "Promote"
Mid October we stayed in my in-laws RV. So we were 'on site" I was given instruction while holding up my IV bag. Save that the SW corner of the house is here so the door and window are unobstructed. The yard is laid out so it 'opens up' as you drive in, the spirea along the barnyard fence are placed so from the deck you can see each one.  The pasture fence is close to the back of the house so I can see my sheep graze.
The house is ready to move in Nov 2nd. As we get the house arranged, our first (and still only) grand child is due in a month. They got the hewn block 'foundation' set. We plan for a baby shower on Dec 5th before Vanessa is due. Vanessa is born Dec 2nd. Her mother allows us in the the delivery room and we witness the birth. We have the shower with the baby. We have had Nessie with us off-and-on for 6 1/2 years She is a sweet gentle and very smart little girl. 
If my surgery hadn't happened, we would be in St Charles 5 hours away from Vanessa and hardly see her.  So some things have been taken and much more has be received.
The next Spring on a day "that's looks like rain" my mom come with her little fertilizer spreader. Along with mine we seed the acre lawn. The homestead took shape.
My uncle Ralph, cousin James planted pine trees for a west grove. The bigger pines were volunteer growth out of my cousin John's grove,  Family and friends gave us perennials to start the garden. That first year, I bought hay from Ralph, and he and John stacked in the barn for me. 8 sheep, some bantams and some pigeons........I was like a kid in 4-H (again)
Our sidewalk is 18 inch square concrete landscape squares 3 inches thick. I dug down and leveled each one........between dizzy stills, bleeding feeding tube site, vomiting and fainting. Its one square wide and 32 long. It took me days, exhausted I would stop and do a few more the next day. Now my kids say let's pour you a proper sidewalk, I say the sidewalk is fine its a testament to my pure determination.
So I end this story.  I am in overtime, each day a new chance/adventure. I have bought and sold 300+ pigeons and bantams in my quest for what I want. Had sheep sold them, Had Boer goats for 4 years.  Last December I bought a mix group of sheep. In that group a tame spunky Shetland ewe "Maybeline". Much to the chagrin of some I sold the rest. Only 2 Shetland ewes remain. More Shetland ewes are coming in July. A flock of layers as I use a lot of raw eggs in my slurries, that's all. Yes I can turn on a dime, or head of in a new direction, unanchored--or unhinged --no---- just trying to get in all in before the overtime buzzer sounds the end. So till then I will over work myself and get dizzy, get mad at myself--not others, I will 'lose" things, perhaps forget your name, if interrupted forget what I was doing,  hit my head on low overhangs, walk into low tree branches, be bleeding from a cut and not know what happened,be  rushed to the ER if my feeding tube should fall out (and has) , state "I have to take a nap" and sleep for two hours.
But rest assured inside beats the heart of a warrior. I am up to the challenge
An update October 2010 I have a new primary care doctor. We have made some changed, Reduced my meds by 75%. In September I started using goat milk and flax oil. I started a yoga/stretching exercises..I am more flexible and no more lower back pain. I  am more alert, have more energy, my mind is clear and the Kid is back! I feel 40 again! my muscle is returning and now naps are on occasion not an everyday need. We went to town for supplies....shopped for three hours (usually I would come home shot and take a nap immediately). I didn't have a nap that day. Just had to share the miraculous changes



Thursday, October 28, 2010

More chicks!

Today they arrived by priority mail at my Post Office. I purchased 15 B;ue Laced Red Wyandotte chicks. The seller sent 17!  I had their area all set up and the heat lamp on the day before, so it was toasty this morning. I took out each one and dripped its beak in warm sugar water in the fount. They are on paper towels (so they don't eat any beeding) and for the few days i pour the chick feed on the paper towels so they find and eat the feed. A chick developes from the egg white, when it is about to hatch, the chick draws the yolk into its body. The yolk feeds the chick for the first three dys. That's how its possible to ship new born chicks and they are in the mail for 2-3 days. The chicks>>>

 Today I fired up my new incubator and set 20 sky blue eggs from my Ameraucana flock.
The capacity is 24 eggs. But my hens lay large eggs and the bator was full at 20 eggs.

The incubator has octagonal ends, so the eggs are turned by rolling the bator an 1/8 of a turn. Its best to turn the eggs 3 times a day, so every 8 hours I will move the bator. Forward a turn, then back to level and in turn it back an 1/8 this gently rocks the eggs. The reason for turning the eggs is so the developing chick doesn't lay in one position for the entire incubation period- 21 days. If the eggs is not turned the chick would stick to the inside of the shell and perish. On day 18 to hatching the eggs are not turned as the chick is positioning itself to be able to peck its way out of the shell
As my Ameraucanas and Blue Laced Red Wyandottes become breeder flocks to provide me with hatching eggs, I need some hens to be my table egg producers. So I have 12 Production black pullet chicks coming next Tuesday. I have two Production black hens right now, only dark brown egg layers I have and they each pay an egg every day without fail.

If you know how many chickens you have its a sign you have too much free time. Remember if you don't have an exact count, when asked how many chickens you have you can shrug and say Oh a couple dozen!!  To chicken whispers everywhere.....good night and good hatching

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rainy day nickel farm tour

I have all my chickens, sheep, goats, water hydrant, feed and hay all in the barn. So bad weather/winter chores are easier to do Hay and straw takes up the west half of the barn. North and east walls have the 4ft wide chicken coops, so the sheep lamb with only the south wall near them and the wall acts like a passive solar collector.
Barn in July
OK the nickel tour, get comfortable, hey call the kids over
let's step inside....we are greeted by the flock ready for their grain

And now they are happily munching on a bit of grain........
Keeping watch on everything is Miracle.....she got her name because she is the only kitten her mother managed to raise out of 3 batches! Miracle cries till we pet her!
The goats having a morning snack before milking.......the big one is a visiting buck.......we're lucky my camera doesn't capture his scent----shoot  Odor!

Goats back inside eating hay,,,,,,,,,,

The hay stuffed to the rafters!

What's this tucked in the straw bales?

Let's look inside.........the hen hut......Muffin and her 3 Ameraucana chicks
Splash Silkies waiting for their morning bread treats

And in the next pen........we see the BLRW hens

And in the last chicken pen we see my Ameraucana flock enjoying...veggies and bread

Well that concludes our barn tour, Any questions?