I didn't mention it before, as it has been a crazy week, but we rehomed our little flock of ducks. I had been thinking about it for a while and with all that has been going on, it has been hard to maintain the farm. It is quiet without them. I miss hearing their little noises and the occasional loud quack. So now there are no more birds on the farm. We are down to just rabbits and the garden.
I have quite a few ripening tomatoes I need to look at and I have got to pick green beans and check for zucchini and cucumbers. I have only gotten one cucumber so far, but I haven't checked for zucchini in a few days, so there are probably a dozen out there, hopefully not too large. I already have one that is larger than my forearm to deal with. I also need to water tonight.
I think there will be enough green beans that I can can them tomorrow. I will try to get it done early in the morning before it gets too hot.
I am thinking about buying a flatbread maker. It's a device that you put the dough on, close it and it flattens it, and then it cooks it. You have to turn it over partway through. But you can make all the flat breads on it and it sets it at the correct temperature, taking the guess work out of it. I can make pita bread on it, but also tortillas, chappati, and roti. It would make it a lot easier since I wouldn't have to roll out the dough.
So many of the flat breads contain soybean oil. I can find tortillas without it, but it is harder on the other flat breads, especially pita. They run the gamut from $32 to $99. Right now I am reading reviews.
I would probably only use it to make tortillas for fajitas and carnitas. I think I'd still buy the large packages for making my huge run of breakfast burritos. It's one thing to make 8 for dinner and another to make 48 in a row for burritos. But I would definitely make pita bread at least once a week. Does anyone have a flat bread maker? I'd be interested in your thoughts.
Viewing the 'Ee ii ee ii oo' Category
I didn't mention it before, as it has been a crazy week, but we rehomed our little flock of ducks. I had been thinking about it for a while and with all that has been going on, it has been hard to maintain the farm. It is quiet without them. I miss hearing their little noises and the occasional loud quack. So now there are no more birds on the farm. We are down to just rabbits and the garden.
Well, this is the second week in a row where I have gone through the grocery ads in preparation for my Friday shopping and only found one thing that was worth buying. Last week was a milk sale and this week is a beef roast sale. Since I am not sure when we will get down to the farm to buy more beef, I will probably stop into Safeway for the meat deal and for the organic milk, lettuce (mine has bolted), and radishes, but the rest of my shopping will be at Winco. The other stores are just so high priced when there is not a good sale going on.
Things went well at the endocrine doctor. He has ordered more specific blood tests, checking individual hormone levels. The took 5 of the large vials of blood. DD was a little woozy afterwards, as she hadn't eaten in case they needed fasting bloodwork, so I got her some onion rings from the last of my blow money. I get more on Friday, though, so that is okay.
We stopped at Wal*Mart as well and I got two packages of white wash cloths. They had product shrinkage though. Used to be those were 12 packs. Now they are 9 packs. It has gotten so hot here that we all need to wipe down during the day at least twice. It's too expensive to keep hopping in the shower every couple of hours! So having a big stack of wash cloths will be very helpful for quick, icy cold sweat relief. I had 12 white ones that were just for me, but I use those on my face morning and evening and the others kept stealing them even though they have their own color codes ones. Now maybe I can keep up.
I also bought a couple of cheap notebooks for budgeting and meal planning since the back to school sales have started. I'll probably get a few more in the coming weeks, but two was sufficient for now. It took me forever to find college ruled, but I did. I also got an accordian file for my daughter to keep her medical records in and a dry eraser for the white board. I also got DD some gum. I spent $20.83 out of the household envelope.
I really should have picked up tissues while we were there, but I totally forgot we needed them by the time we got there. So they will be on Friday's shopping list. I'll probably just stop into Kmart, though, because it is closer. Wal*Mart is a ways out, but it is near the endocrine doctor. I don't like making special trips just to go there.
I don't want to make dinner. It is so hot. But I really don't want sandwiches two nights in a row, either. Maybe I will make fajitas in the Instant Pot. Then at least I won't be heating up the house further. Man, I wish we had A/C.
I had to go change the ducks' water around four today as it had gotten so hot they couldn't drink it. I moved it further into the shade and they were so happy to get cold water. They all splashed around in it and then I filled them again and they drank it. Then they all waddled off in their little line to hide out under the raspberries where it is cooler.
I feel bad for the rabbits with their fur coats, but they all have an individual fan attached to the front of their cages and they are hanging out directly in front of them and seem to be doing fine. I'll have to watch them closely if we crack the next temperature decade. Or whatever you call groupings of ten when it is temperature.
DH and I drove down to the farm this afternoon. Their was a nasty accident in the I-5 north bound lanes. We could see the traffic backed up for miles. There were several ambulances, 2 or 3 police cars, and at least one fire truck. I said a quick prayer for the victims as we passed and I was very glad we were going south.
It was a beautiful day for a drive, bright and sunny, but cold. There was still snow on the foothills about 20 feet above ground level. Yet at the same time the forsythia and cherry trees are blooming. It was gorgeous.
At the farm I picked up 5 roasts for canning. I am out of canned beef. It is my preferred way of making beef stew, to used canned beef, and stew season will be over soon. I also got 8 packages of bacon (they have the best I have ever tasted), and 2 packages of beef stir-fry meat. They cut it really thin. I have a hard time getting it that thin myself, so on occasion I will get some.
We only had to pay for 4 of the roasts. The fifth one she gave us for free. They come vacuum sealed and sometimes the vacuum part will undo, but the package itself will still be sealed. They can't sell them that way, so they just give them away. I just use them or can them quickly.
I also sold them a rabbit for $82.20. That will pay for feed for about 3 to 4 months for the rabbits and ducks. I love it that they support themselves. I am going to try to sell a breeding trio soon. I have a really nice set of 2 broken blacks (male and female) and a broken red (female) that are just gorgeous and wonderfully proportioned.
Anyway, we took Chuckanut Drive on the way home to avoid the backup on the freeway. It is a beautiful drive, but unnerving. There are places where the cliffs jut out over the road, or right next to it with no shoulder. Although driving north on it is far more unsettling than driving south, because it always feels like you could tumble right off the edge of the road and down into the bay. It is such a narrow road. Still we survived it and we saw a lot of waterfalls from the snow melt.
Then DH and I went out to eat. I got a quesadilla with a side of rice and he had a burrito and a relleno. Just a small, cheap little lunch without the kids. It was nice. Probably unnecessary since we went out to eat last Saturday, too, but that was our 23rd anniversary and we used the money his mother gave us for a present to do it. I'll be tightening in again on the spending after this.
Last night DH and I sat down and took another look at the health plan offered by the job recruiter company. They offer 4 different plans.
The gold plan has a $500 per person and a $1000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $10 for generic and $50 for brand names. Co-pay is $35 whether it is a regular doctor or a specialist. Out of pocket max per person is $4500 and per family is $9000.
The silver plan has a $2000 per person and $4000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $20 for generic and $80 for brand names. Co-pay is $45. Out of pocket max per person is $6850 and family is $13,700. It has an out of pocket max of $10,000 after the deductible has been met.
It offered 2 bronze plans. Plan 1 has a $5250 per person and a $10,500 family deductible. Prescriptions are $20/$80 and then they have a third tier and a fourth tier of 30% and 50% respectively for the really high priced drugs. Co-pay is $50. Out of pocket max is $7150 per person and $14,300 per family.
The second bronze plan is an HSA plan. It has a $7150 deductible per person and $14,300 per family. Prescriptions are $35/$100 with the other tiers again being 30% and 50%. Co-pay is $50. The out of pocket max is $6550 per person and $13,100 per family.
Based on our prescription costs and the fact that my daughter is going to need 2 surgeries in the next couple of months, we knew both bronze plans were out, so it really came down to which would save us more money this year, the gold or the silver.
DH ran the numbers and on the gold plan weekly take home pay will be approximately $1177. On the silver plan it will be $1232. This is without any overtime, his guaranteed 40 hours a week. If he gets ten hours of overtime a week the amounts would be $1523 and $1577.
They are currently on an overtime moratorium for this week and the next two weeks, though DH has been getting 50 hours up until now. But they put the freeze on because they have pushed the end date of the job out to mid-April instead of mid-March, so the rush to get the work done on time has slowed. It means DH will be employed for another month at least, though.
So not feeling we could count on the overtime at all, my numbers to budget with had to be $1177 and $1232. I sat down and figured out the budget with the lower amount to see if we could swing it and still be able to start the 401K contributions in March when he qualifies.
We can swing the more expensive plan and we are going to because in the long run it will be cheaper. I have 7 prescriptions, my daughter has 6, and my husband has 2. I know we might only be on this medical plan a few months and if DH gets hired on through the actual company it will be all different medical than this and a different 401K plan, too, but since I know what is coming up and how much we would be spending, the gold plan will be cheaper, especially since more of it will be in pretax dollars, which will also lower our taxable income.
I have determined we can at least contribute 2% of his income to a 401K which is $36 a week. If after the first month of that he is still working there we will try to bump it up to 4% or $78 a week and see if we can handle that. We will proceed forward with 1% bumps until we get to 6% to get all the matching funds.
I can make some cuts in the grocery budget and we can cut out eating out again. Not that we eat out much, but we do. I think the amount I have allotted for medical expenses will drop, too. I am not sure we will be able to contribute to the Emergency Fund or pay back my mother anything, though. I will try for at least $100 a month into the EF, though.
Our insurance will go up once the will finishes up whatever it is doing and the title of the truck gets transferred into our names and MIL is no longer paying the insurance on it. I reckon it will double, but it might not, since we ought to get a multiple vehicle discount. I am considering at that time dropping everything but what we need for if we are at fault since we will have two vehicles. When you only have one vehicle that is a chancier prospect. We'll see. DS is about to start learning to drive, which doesn't change anything yet, but will once he gets a license.
I hate the idea of having such a cramped budget, but we've lived on less before and I know we can do this with enough self-discipline. Once I can start growing food again that will help, too. The fruit and veggie portion of the food budget from May through October really goes way down.
At least with the turkeys and chickens gone I don't have any animals that are hemorrhaging money. The rabbits pay for their own feed as well as the ducks' feed. We don't get enough eggs for the ducks to be self-sufficient, but the rabbits make up for it. We are down to just 4 ducks and 1 drake now and they forage a lot. They also eat a lot of garden produce in the spring, summer, and fall.
This month has been a rough one with the animals. We lost Annabeth the duck shortly after the new year started and last night Luna Blue died. Luna Blue was the rabbit I had to feed with a dropper full of raw goat milk because her mother died when she was 3 weeks old. Only 3 out of 7 of that litter survived without their mother. But she was the runt and she needed the most help. I adored that rabbit. She was the sweetest thing.
We had a vicious wind storm yesterday and all I can think is that the loud noises scared her and she flipped and broke her back. We've had that happen before with really loud noises and her back was definitely broken. I've lost rabbits when the Med-Evac helicopter has flown illegally low over our house on the way to the hospital on three occasions and twice now to wind storms. It is frustrating. We have more wind on the horizon as well and I hope I don't lose anyone else. I'm not particularly attached to the others like I was to Luna, but I do love them and it is always hard to lose animals.
I am doing really well on the eat from the pantry challenge. So far we have not bought anything from the grocery store since I started the challenge. I really didn't feel like cooking tonight at all, so I pulled one of my pans of enchiladas and made it tonight instead of one of my planned meals. That's what they are in there for. I am down to 1 pan of enchiladas, 2 pans of chicken and broccoli bake, and 2 fajita kits. I try to keep them for the days when I feel like a house dropped on me.
I am in the middle of an RA flare. Part of it was because I ran out of medication and was off it for 3 doses. Part of it is because I've had to do all of my daughter's chores. Part of it is because I had to drive to Burlington and back. I don't do well with driving that long anymore and I've had to do it twice in two weeks. We had to go and pick up oats for our rabbits. I should not have had to go, but the order we got the two weeks before was contaminated. It had all kinds of other things in it besides oats, including lime dust, which can kill rabbits. They put lime dust in the goat feed, I guess. Anyway, we caught it before giving it to the rabbits.
Fortunately, that feed can also be fed to the ducks, so we are mixing it with corn and peas for them. We did not have to pay for the new round of 300 pounds of oats, either. We just had to send them photos of the contaminated feed. I guess if I look on the bright side of things, we got a bunch of free feed. But it wasn't much fun having to go to Winco to buy oats over the holidays because the mill was shut down. At least they have 25 pound bags of whole oats, though. I might have been able to get some at the farmer's co-op, but we've had trouble with contaminated oats there, too, with both brands they sell.
We've scheduled an appointment for DD with the surgeon for the 8th. She can't have surgery before February because we won't have insurance until then. The initial consult may cost $240. They gave a range, with $240 being the top of the range if we paid in cash. That is a 20% discount.
DD is doing okay with the low fat diet, though she had some major carb cravings yesterday and wanted bread really bad. She ended up having mashed potatoes with just salt and pepper on them to calm the craving down. It seemed to do the trick. We just have to think outside the box a little more now.
The Nuwave oven has been wonderful for cooking chicken and fish without fat for her. Well, other than the amount I spray on the rack to make it non-stick, but that is minimal. But I can steam vegetables in a foil packet as well with no oil at all, just a sprinkle of water and some herbs. I am getting the hang of this. Today I made boneless skinless chicken thighs in it. I just rubbed them with a combination of ground cloves, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, a little paprika, salt, and pepper. It was very mild and she loved the flavors.
So we are adapting. I think she is losing weight, too. I just hope her weight is not going to be a problem when it comes to surgery. We've run into that problem before. If it is, she will probably have to go to Seattle to see a surgeon and if she does, it means I will have to be the one to drive there since DH works a normal job now. Which will mean at least a week of recovery time for me each time. If not more.
The days keep flipping between really warm and nice and very cold with rain and wind. Every time the barometric pressure rises or falls dramatically and it does a number on me. For some reason I have always been sensitive to pressure changes. I know a few other people that are, but it seems a relatively rare thing. Today was particularly bad and had me skirting the edges of a migraine for several hours.
Every time I think it is time for me to just pull the garden out and be done with it, it warms up again. I am still getting zucchini, though it has slowed way down. The acorn squash is slowly ripening. There are a few cucumbers, but I'm not sure how much longer those will last. There are tomatoes. And the herbs, even the basil, are still going strong. The Brussels sprouts are ready.
I'm pretty tired of the garden by this time of year, but I don't want to give up on free food. I did replant some lettuce and blood veined sorrel, but it isn't big enough yet to harvest. I'm not sure it will become so, either, but it might.
My mother is pushing for us to get rid of the ducks, but I don't want to. At least not at this time. Saying good-bye to the turkey and chickens was enough for right now. I may be ready in another month or two. It'll be harder than the others, though. The ducks have such personalities and are just so much fun to watch.
Still, I am not looking forward to another cold winter of trying to keep their water thawed. I do have a heated waterer for drinking, but that doesn't give them anything to swim in and so they tend to get pretty dirty when their little pools keep freezing over.
I think I'm holding on out of emotional reasons. It feels like I'm giving up on a dream. Which in many ways, I am. But I've been slowly coming to the realization that the full on urban farm has just been too much since my fall last year and the double sprained ankles.
It's not a lot of fun recognizing your limitations. But recognizing them, I am, slowly but surely.
DH arrived home on Friday morning last week and he'll be leaving again on Sunday. It feels like I've barely seen him as he's been doing so much running for his parents and appointments. DH spent all day Wednesday in Seattle with his parents. The day before that he got his permanent crown put on.
My son had a dental cleaning, my daughter and I had eye exams and I had a tiny cavity filled on the front of one of my teeth. It was an old filling that had fallen out being replaced by a new one. I had physical therapy and my daughter had an MRI.
We also went to the mall so I could find a new purse as my old one was falling apart. DS had a job interview at the same time, so we saved a trip. Now DH is over doing will and living will stuff with his parents. Tomorrow we have to butcher and then go to BelleWood Acres to U-pick apples and then run over to another farm and see if they have green beans.
DH and I did manage to eke out enough time to watch the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie together Thursday night. I need to do a couple of payday reports, and figure out how much we've spent on medical/dental this week, but the majority of money went to the Citi card.
Thing 1: Daughter's brain MRI came back and there is nothing physically wrong with her brain. Meanwhile the new migraine medication is working well.
Thing 2: The cancer doctor in Seattle is starting FIL on some auto-immune drugs that may help prolong his life. We're talking about a few months though. So we are still looking at 6 months to a year, though that seems better than just the 6 months he was told by a local doctor 6 weeks ago. He seemed in much better spirits when we saw him yesterday.
Thing 3: I've made the decision to give up the chickens. I think I've made the decision to give up the ducks, too. I don't want to give up the ducks, but I really do think it is for the best.
Mom and I and DS went out to a U-pick farm this morning to pick green beans. We'd called and were told they had lots of green beans. We made the mistake of assuming they were pole beans, but they were actually bush beans which required either getting down on the ground to pick them or standing up and bending all the way down to pick them. I got on the ground because I figured screwed up legs were better than a screwed up back.
I was actually surprised that I didn't do too badly sitting on the ground. Maybe all that physical therapy is finally paying off. Or my body will hate me tomorrow morning when I wake up!
They didn't, as it turns out, have lots of green beans, though. They had two rows. We managed to pick ten pounds, which is not enough for a canner load, but should give me 5 quarts. It takes 14 to 15 pounds to do 7 quarts, but I will still can what we got. We were hoping for around 40 pounds. There was another family picking them, too, but it didn't look like they got more than 10 pounds either. But they were also digging potatoes and carrots and picking strawberries.
I guess we will try another farm tomorrow. What I did buy, besides the $20 worth of beans was $7 worth of strawberries that we picked as well. It was a fun experience, though.
My favorite type of apple should be ready next weekend, so we will go apple picking for Tsugarus if they are. They are not a good storage apple, they maybe last two to three months in the fridge, so we usually only pick about 20 pounds worth. If they are late, I guess it will be me and DS instead of DH, but I am hoping since their schedule says it, they will be ripe when DH is home. We had so much fun last year.
We might get some honeycrisps, too, since they opened this weekend. Not too many, maybe a small bag that has about a dozen apples. With all those apples in the fridge, they should last us until orange season in December.
I've got to get out and pick more plums. The trees are not nearly as loaded as last year, but there is still a large amount. I'll need to have DS go up the ladder for some of it. I also need to pick some tomatoes which I have finally been getting. I don't know if I will get enough tomatoes to can, but the ones I have on the table will go into a taco potato casserole tonight. A new recipe. I hope it is good. I might throw some zucchini in as well.
Today was a long, semi-stressful day. Mostly because we spent about 2 hours with the neurologist my daughter got bumped up to see. The good news is that she doesn't think DD has MS. She is thinking just very severe migraines with something else in the brain being possible. DD has an MRI scheduled on the 18th. She does think DD needs to do physical therapy for muscle weakness, control, and balance. They can teach her how to exercise so she isn't pulling the muscle in her back all the time.
PT has a pool. We cancelled our gym membership, but we're paid up through October 12th, so if we can actually make it to the pool she could do more pool stuff than just on the days she has PT. But I don't know if that will be possible. Now that homeschool has started I don't have as much time to be running people around. Plus her headaches have been so bad, I doubt she'd want to go somewhere as loud as the gym pool.
I made it over to the school system's main office today and filled out the intent to homeschool form and got my copy of it for my files. I also found out that if DS has a job, he doesn't need permission from the school district on what he can work, so that is good, too.
I went to the pediatrician's office so DD could fill out the paperwork to get her medical file sent to her grown up doctor. It was supposed to have been sent 3 years ago and I only found out last week that her current doc had never gotten it.
I am thinking about giving up the ducks. I am so tired these days and without DD being able to pull her weight around here it is getting too difficult. We may give up the chickens, too, and just keep the rabbits. Plus if DS does get hired somewhere, he may not be available at sundown every day anyway to help put the birds in.
I'm just not sure I can handle it mentally or physically anymore. The rabbits are my joy, as is my garden. I do love my ducks, but they attract a lot of predators and they make a huge mess. The chickens I don't get attached to anymore because we have lost a lot to predation. While I enjoy them, they don't have semi-pet status.
I just don't feel capable of it with the rheumatoid arthritis and whatever else is running down all my energy these days. Even the kids are okay with it. They see the toll it is taking on me. This decision has been a long time coming. While I'm not 100% there, I feel like I am 80% there.
DH gets home by the end of the week and I hope to have made the decision by then. I am pretty sure I'll be rehoming them, though.
My mental state is better now. I do appreciate all the words of support you gave me when I was totally overwhelmed. I am doing okay now. It looks like DH's company did not get the approval for what they wanted to do, so DH's job will run out in October. There is still no word on the other job yet. Or any other job. I don't know what we'll do at this point.
The rabbits are still paying for themselves. I sell just enough each month to cover the costs of their food and the ducks' food. So the meat and eggs we get from them are basically no cost.
I happened upon a great deal today at the grocery store. They had a bunch of chuck steaks and top and bottom round steaks that were marked down for quick sale. I know we have beef in the freezer, but this worked out to 19.6 pounds of beef for $1.40 a pound. I came home and cut every steak in half and we ended up with 14 steaks in the freezer. I know the stuff we butchered will keep for a year the way it is wrapped, so this can be used more quickly.
What I really need to find is chicken, though. Sometimes they have good markdowns on those, too, but not nearly as often as they have beef and pork in there. I want to get as much inexpensive chicken in the freezer as possible before we go into a possible time of no income. It really helped last time to have so much food available and we had to buy very little, just fresh fruit and greens and dairy through the winter.
I bought 20 pounds of potatoes to can from the local garden I get produce I don't grow myself from. That'll likely give me two canner loads. I will probably end up canning a total of 60 pounds of potatoes this month. Maybe 80 if I don't run out of steam and my arthritis doesn't act up too badly. The new medication has been working wonders though so hopefully it will continue to do so and I'll be able to peel and chop a boatload of them.
I am going to can carrots, too, but I am going to use those 5 pound bags of organic baby carrots from Costco that are already peeled and nicely sized for canning. They are very cheap and I can save myself a couple steps, so why not? I only need to do 10 pounds or so.
I don't think I am going to do green beans. I didn't grow them this year and I still have about 50 quarts so I don't think it is necessary. I will do pears, though if I can get a good deal on them. I'd like to get some more meat canned, too, but that'll come with our next butchering.
Having enough food to get through the bad times makes me feel I can be a lot more in control of at least one part of the situation.
Oh, you guys don't know what an amazing lift it is to see the sky again. It is so beautiful and open and freeing to see it. It's like an oppressive force that was pushing down on us is gone. It's so wonderful to see. I finally had hope late last night when we could faintly see Polaris, Jupiter, and the space station (the brightest things in the night sky) peaking though the haze and the moon wasn't orange, it was white.
DH mentioned that maybe part of my problem was that I have seasonal depression in the winter and maybe it was the lack of direct sunlight that was affecting me. I think that may be part of it.
I don't use my Happy Light in the late spring, summer, or early fall because I am outside enough not to need it. But since I couldn't be outside much due to the smoke affecting my lungs, even with the inhaler, I wasn't getting that light and I certainly wasn't getting the benefit of being in the outdoors with fresh air at all.
So that really makes me feel so much better, although it was still a sad day as we said good-bye to our tom turkey George. The lady who is taking him is very nice and she promises to send photos of him with the turkey hens. It was still hard to see him go, but I know it is for the best. It seems so quiet without him, though. I will miss him. He is such a love.
On the practical side, it is one less chore on the farm. The turkey coop will be cleaned out one last time and I think we will tear it down. It'll be too much of a reminder and it blocks the view of the yard from the back windows. I think we will leave the covered courtyard up, though. The chickens go in there when it is raining or snowing so they can be out of the elements while still being outside.
I hope not having a guard animal will be noticed by the local hawks or the nesting pair of eagles that live near the hospital. George won't be there to chase them off. He won't be there to gobble any time someone pulls into the driveway. He won't react to the Medevac helicopter flying over or the firefighting helicopter and airplane when they fly over. Or the coast guard who sometimes fly over as well. Yes, it will be very quiet on the farm, save for the quiet babble of the ducks and the cackling of the chickens. Very quiet, indeed.
Today was supposed to be clear, but it still isn't. You can at least see the foothills now, though. It is supposed to rain on Sunday and I really hope it does. It is hard to not be able to go outside much if I want to breathe well. It's too hot to leave the windows closed with it being in the 80's and no A/C.
Today was my daughter's 21st birthday. How did that happen? When did I get old enough to have a twenty-one-year-old child? We went to Outback for dinner. I had lobster and everyone else had steak. It was pretty good, but I can make a better steak at home, which is why I got lobster. Or maybe it is just the difference between grass fed beef(what I have) and corn fed beef.
I did have a couple bites of the steak, because my daughter couldn't quite finish hers, but that only confirmed my call to get the lobster. It was an expensive night, but it's the only time in a year we've gone out to something like this. Tomorrow it'll be back to home-cooking.
Tomorrow MIL and FIL and DH meet with the doctor about FIL going down to the UW hospital and whether or not he is strong enough. They've already said he'd have to do a medical transport if he goes, that he is not strong enough to go in a regular car, not even our van which is very comfortable. They still don't know what is wrong with him, but I have a feeling it is the cancer working on a systemic level. Continued prayers for him would be appreciated.
We are rehoming our tom turkey George. He hasn't been the same since Gina died, and he will be going to a nice lady with 2 Royal Palm hens. I hate to see him go, but my mother has been getting aggressive with him again and of course he reacts to that. Honestly, I'm afraid she's going to hurt him.
She's been acting kind of crazy this week freaking out on everyone for very minor things. I wish we could move. I am so done right now. After everything I did taking care of her, for her to turn on us is just demoralizing. I am never mean to her, not even when her vindictive streak comes out. I am patient and seldom react because I know that's what she wants.
Half the time I feel like I'm the parent and she's an adolescent going through puberty. She sure acts like a 7nth grade girl in full on brat mode. She can never admit when she's wrong. Ever. She doesn't apologize except to say things like I'm sorry you feel that way and even that hardly ever happens. I'm ready to move across the country at this point just to have everything fall on my sisters since that is the only way they will ever do anything.
I want to go somewhere and scream at the sky, but I'm not entirely convinced it is still there. Man, that's really getting to me. I need to see some blue before I go off the deep end myself.
It's been 12 days since I've been able to see the sky. The smoke haze from B.C. is so bad it is like a ceiling of dirty white overhead. Not like when it is overcast, then you can still see clouds in various shades of grey and white. This is like a lid has been shut over us. Washington state has the worst air quality in the nation right now. Unfortunately, I am having to use my inhaler. It is messing with my lungs.
You take it for granted, seeing the sky. Not seeing it for so long is making it seem claustrophobic, like we are closed in. I can feel it at the back of my neck, making me want to raise my shoulders up and inward against it. I know it is psychological, but the longer it continues, the worse it seems. It makes me feel like I'm in some kind of sci-fi movie where the sky disappears.
The sun and moon through it have been amazing, though. Just brilliant shades of orange shining through to let us know that even if the sky is gone, space is still up there somewhere.
There's not much been going on. I finished up the kidney infection medication and spent a lot of time in bed sleeping during that time. We didn't go out to eat at all for three weeks, but we did get something this weekend and we will go out on the tenth for my daughter's 21st birthday. Then back to not eating out for a good while.
We are up to our ears in gold rush zucchini and patty pan squash. The green zucchini is not doing as well. I lost a lot of them to blossom end rot, so now I am pulling the blossoms off them once they have got to finger size and that seems to be helping. I have green tomatoes now so maybe in a couple more weeks I'll have some red ones.
We lost 2 chickens this week. Henrietta was our oldest chicken. She was six. And then one of the leghorns died as well, but they don't live as long since they are production birds. She was 3. So now we are down to 9 chickens, 6 ducks, and one turkey. We aren't replacing anyone. We thought we might have to get a new turkey hen after Gina died, but George seems to be doing okay now. He's a little sad at bedtime when he's alone, but during the day he seems fine and hangs out with the 3 Barnevelder hens he was raised with.
I didn't do a payday report this week, but all of the money went to pay the AMEX bill in full. That takes care of the last of the medical expenses from the two ER visits and the emergency eye surgery. We still had to pull $3500 out of the Emergency Fund, but at least we didn't have to pay interest on anything.
Maybe in September we can pull ahead again. At least for a little while. Who knows with the job situation still being up in the air like it is.
Sometimes life just sucks. My poor turkey hen broke her leg and died of shock. Now George doesn't have a mate and he is so despondent. He knows she died. He was whimpering. I hope he will be okay on his own. They were bonded pretty closely. Sometimes I hate being a farmer. Days like today I just want to throw in the towel and give it all up.
I spent $35.41 on gas today at the Safeway gas station. The van was running on fumes and that bought 16.712 gallons. I paid $2.12 a gallon. I got 10 cents per gallon off for paying in cash and then I had 4 points, so got an additional 40 cents a gallon off.
I end up getting a lot of points from my mother. She doesn't have her own club card, so she just gives them DH's phone number and what she buys counts towards our points. It really builds up fast that way.
I also picked up two prescriptions at Walgreens for $21.08, then swung by the fruit stand and bought nectarines, corn, and watermelon, all from Eastern WA. He has someone who drives over the pass and brings back produce four times a week and he also sells local stuff, but our corn won't be ready until the end of August here, and nectarines and watermelon are not a crop in Western WA.
I also had a two hour session at P.T. today, so that was $120. She did some massage on my foot, because super klutz that I am, I dropped a glass Pyrex storage bowl on it yesterday. I still occasionally drop things randomly due to the nerve damage in my hand.
The medication the rheumatologist gave me seems to be working really well, so I hope it doesn't screw with my eyes. It's the first time I haven't has severe joint pain in ages. I still have it on the left side ankle, hip, and knee, but I don't feel it much on the right side anymore except just in my hand and wrist sometimes as opposed to all the time. I still get the random swelling, but it doesn't stick around for days, just usually 24 to 48 hours now. So a major improvement.
My FIL was in the hospital for four days and has now been moved to a nursing home. I don't think it is for good, just that he needs more care than MIL is capable of giving him. He ended up getting a blood transfusion and IV fluids, but they still couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. It wasn't his heart (he's had a previous myocardial infarction), it wasn't his kidneys (one only has 4% function as a result of the heart thing), and it wasn't the cancer. His blood pressure was really low, he had a high fever, and chills that wouldn't stop. Prayers for him would be appreciated.
My daughter's new psychiatrist wants her to see a nutritional counselor, but the woman has a two month wait time for new patients. She has a partner that does the same stuff, but that woman doesn't take insurance, so she's out. We can't absorb the cost of anymore out of pocket stuff. The shrink won't see her if she isn't seeing a therapist. I thought the shrink was supposed to take the place of the therapist.
I mean, if she's just there to prescribe pills and not to help fix the underlying problems, she's not that much good to us. Although the new pill is making a major difference and I am glad to have her off the certraline. I've seen huge progress with her anxiety issues and she isn't acting depressed anymore, either. I just wish the medicine didn't make her so sleepy.
DS and I are doing low carb and heading towards the keto diet. It is nice to have someone to do things with. He is carrying an extra 20 pounds he wants to get rid of. He's been going out on 2 hour walks for the last week or so, but he's too self-conscious to go use the gym by himself. If I can stop hurting myself long enough with my clumsiness, we'll start going to the pool together again.
There's not that much else going on. We don't have any pregnant livestock so the youngest babies are coming up on ten weeks old. I don't breed for July or August delivery as it is too hard on the animals with the heat in those months. The garden continues to thrive and produce. So really nothing to speak of on the farm front, either.
I'll try to do a payday report for last Friday tomorrow. Or maybe I'll just wait until Friday and bundle them in one post.
Today was another very long day. I woke up at 6 a.m. after only getting 4 hours of sleep. I tossed and turned for a bit, hoping to get back to sleep, but I couldn't, so at 7 I got up and let the chickens, ducks, and turkeys out, got them fed and watered and then went and took care of the rabbits.
After that I tried to go back to bed and despite taking a pill, I still couldn't fall back asleep. I listened to a few CreepyPastas on youtube as they usually put me to sleep. The one guy has such a soothing voice, even if they are supposed to be scary stories, that usually knocks me right out. They are more suspense/edge of horror than super freaky.
I did some work for my channel and spent a lot of time downloading all of my photos off photobucket. One of the albums would not download so I had to do all 255 photos in that one individually. Ugh. I spent some time looking for a new hosting service as well.
I wrote 1000 words on my novel, but minor characters keep trying to sneak in and take over the plot. I may have to give them their own novel if they keep this up.
I got some work done in the garden. I've been harvesting a lot of herbs and flower petals for teas, tinctures, syrups, and other medicinal items (I'll be making salve when I get enough calendula). And maybe one with a more creamy consistency as well. I'll have to tweak the ratio of oil to beeswax so it doesn't harden so much. I may try my hand at making lip balm as well.
I went grocery shopping and spent $181. I got some seafood (salmon, cod, shrimp) and stocked up on quite a few items that got really low. I got several cans of peanut butter as they were well below my price point of $2.50 a pound at $2 a pound. I got 4 bottles of ketchup, 20 cans of tuna, some mustard, and some cocktail sauce. I haven't quite gotten the hang of making homemade cocktail sauce yet. I've not used horseradish enough as an ingredient to know where the sweet spot is between not enough and way too much. Usually that comes rather intuitively, but not this time.
They had another 15 pound organic turkey and I was very tempted to get it. We don't currently have space for one in the freezer, though. I have too much ice in it for the chill tank. We butchered on Saturday, so it will be a few more days before they will come out of the chill tank and I cut them up and either package them or chunk them and can them. I'll have to check my canning shelves and see what is needed.
I am debating whether or not to plant string beans. It's late, but we generally have a long, lingering warm fall. Since the peas are done and I've pulled them, and most of the broccoli is done and I've pulled it, I have space to do it. I've got Kentucky Wonder, Blue Lake, and Blue Coco Pole Beans as well as Provider Bush Beans, so I've got the seed. Pole beans are generally 65 days from sprouting and bush beans are a little faster, as soon as 55 days sometimes.
So if I get them in now I could have them from early to mid-September through October. And if we get anymore heatwaves it could take less time. The only thing that makes me hesitant is the weird summer we've had so far. I see indicators on several perennial plants that we are going to have an early winter. We generally don't get a hard frost until Halloween.
I also see it in the fact that the rabbits are blowing their coats right now. They usually blow them in early spring and in September, not July. The turkeys are also having an early molt.
I hope to get down to trade or sell some meat with my pastured pork lady this month. The ducks have not been producing enough eggs for egg sales, they are just managing to keep up with the family's needs. The rabbits still manage to pay for their own feed. I've got a gorgeous buck I'm going to put up for sale as a breeder buck soon. He is the sweetest love I have ever raised.
Since he is a broken black New Zealand, I can get $25 for him unproven, and $30 once he's been proven. More if he had a pedigree. Which he does, but I lost it and I've been trying for six months to get the rabbitry I bought the father from to send me the info in an email. He keeps sending it as a text picture to my phone which is incapable of downloading images because it is a dumb phone from 2008 or 2009. The guy is frustrating me.
I may just keep breeding the line long enough that I don't have to worry about it anymore. I just need 3 generations and I have two. This bunny will make 3, so his children can be pedigreed if he's bred with a pedigreed doe, which almost all of my does are. So if I keep a male or a female from those breedings they will have pedigrees.
I do have some rabbits coming up that might be good for 4-H kids for the fair. I've got identical whites for meat pens, of which you have three and they must match as closely as possible. I also have at least one show quality broken red buck, but I am keeping the best of the two to breed with Sadie when she grows up. I also have a show quality solid red buck that would be great for them as well.
Speaking of Sadie, she is doing really well. She's a well-proportioned junior doe, with super soft broken red fur. Any kits I get from her will be stunning, I'm sure. But first she has to grow up. She's only 14 weeks old and needs to be 6 months old for breeding. And the boy I want to breed her with is only 7 weeks old right now. So it'll be closer to her being 8 months old before he is ready to breed, so I may start her with one of the broken black bucks that are old enough. They both carry the possibility of broken reds, not just broken blacks.
Anyway, there has not been more than a month when the rabbits have not paid for themselves in the last 2 years, but then they made up for the missing month later on. Even if I sell to 4-HR's or FFA's at a discount, I'll still make money. Maybe enough that I will break even on the birds, too.
I got a refund check from one of the many medical places my DD has been lately. This was for $126.03. I know a lot of stuff crosses until whatever finishes off the deductible is finally cleared through. I hope we get some more and bigger ones, too. It'll all get shoved back into medical either way.
All right well, I'm about to ramble off to bed now, but wanted to mention I start a new 4 week dietbet tomorrow. If anyone wants to join me on that the link for it is here: http://dbet.me/oEpxBZ I have no idea if that is a referral link or not or if I get anything other than kudos if I get others to join. I just think it might be fun for some of us to do it together.
It has been hot here the last few days. In the 80's, which is hot for here. Fortunately not humid, though. It's made the garden go nuts with some of the plants, mostly the squashes, having bigger leaves than I've ever seen in all my years of gardening. Another week and I should have zucchini, patty pan, and gold rush squash big enough to eat.
As it is, I harvested 7 kohlrabi, enough lettuce for a week, a huge bunch of kale, a dozen carrots, 4 heads of broccoli, blood-veined sorrel, calendula, yarrow, strawberries, and raspberries. And the blueberries have started. Just a few here and there, but I wasn't expecting any until the end of July, really. So I have to incorporate all of that into the meal plan this week. Well, not the calendula and yarrow, those will be dried for tea.
I've still got a lot to do out there. I need to pick peas and harvest a Chinese cabbage and two types of parsley and pick those ripe blueberries.
We'll be butchering tomorrow and then washing cages afterwards and then washing more cages on Saturday. I also need to dust out the windows in their enclosure and go through and clean fur out of all their fans. Everyone is blowing their coats right now, so the fur is flying. I've got 8 week olds that need to be weaned as soon as we have the empty cages to do so. I have not bred anyone again as their are 5 (but we are keeping the one broken red girl) grow outs and 14 younger kits right behind them, so 18 out of 19 destined for freezer camp.
Medically we spent $90 for my physical therapy and a $30 co-pay for my daughter's first session with a psychiatrist. She's been seeing a therapist for a while now to deal with her PTSD, anxiety, depression, and eating disorder. Psychiatrist is weaning her off her current meds and starting her on a new one once she is. She also has recommended she see a nutritional psychotherapist.
She had a bad side effect to one of the medications she was recently put on and no one could figure out what was going on, then I looked up the side effects of the drug and listed under uncommon side effects were all the symptoms of what had happened laid out all in a row, so she had to stop that one and we aren't putting her back on one like it. She's just going to go without for a while.
My shoulder is burning all the time right now. It is from all the physical therapy exercises I have to help Mom with. DH has taken over the morning session, but I still do them with her twice a day and he's leaving on Sunday anyway. Her recovery is going well, though she does try to push things as far as she can, and I try to get her to do only what she is supposed to do. She's hard-headed. I really see where my son gets it from. Less than 2 weeks to go now and hopefully she will get out of the sling. They say 6 to 8 weeks and of course she is fixated on 6 weeks.
I will be glad when all this is done and she doesn't need my help anymore, but that could be another 6 weeks or so. It's really run my health into the ground and it wasn't like it was that far from the ground to begin with. The new med the rheumatologist gave me for my auto-immune disease is helping in most of my joints, but not my shoulder and not my hip. At least not yet. I haven't noticed any side-effects on my eyes with it, but it is cumulative and these are early days.
We still don't know about DH's work beyond December. The other project and company is way behind schedule. I'd like things to be settled. Living with uncertainty again is really difficult. The stress is making me a little nuts on top of everything else that is going on. I really just want to go back to the days when I didn't have to worry about anything other than paying the bills and getting out of debt. At least I don't have to worry about debt on top of everything else right now, though. I hold on to that.
It's been a long two weeks since Mom came home from her shoulder surgery and the stories I could recount up to this point could fill a book. Did you know that oxycodone and elderly people often equals hallucinations? I sure didn't. After the first week we had to switch to hydrocodone because that particular side effect was getting bad.
I haven't had any help from my sisters. The eldest has come to visit twice, once staying for 20 minutes a few days after Mom came home and the other time staying for an hour and a half to do some work on the computer. She spent very little time interacting with Mom. She only lives five minutes or so away. When I asked her if she could stay with Mom while I ran to the store, her answer was that she had to go. *sighs*
My middle sister seldom stirs herself to come see Mom and when she does it is more of a pit stop for her than anything else. She's always been this way unless there is something in it for her, like presents. She quit coming at Christmas time when Mom stopped giving presents. She's never come for Thanksgiving or invited anyone to her home for Thanksgiving.
It's only a 40 minute drive from her house to here, but she comes up usually only once a year. When we lived in the mountains it was a 45 minute drive and we were in here at least twice a week. I just don't get the mentality. Yet I've seen it before, when Mom was taking care of Grandma and her sister did very little to help.
I've heard that is often the way, that one child does it all in caring for a parent. I've seen it play out in other people's lives, too. One of my friends is the only one who helps her mom out with her step-father, who had a stroke a year and a half ago. He has five sons, all biological, and they don't really do anything, certainly nothing without being prompted, and their wives don't either. Even though they all live nearby while my friend lives 2 hours plus a ferry ride away.
It frustrates me that family members behave this way when they all ought to be pitching in to help. Especially my sisters. But they weren't here when Mom was dealing with Grandma. They were married and out of the house. So they didn't see first hand the strain it put on her. I did what I could to help at the time, but I was still a young teenager.
My kids are helping some. My son is doing all the morning farm chores that were my mother's, like letting the birds out in the morning, cleaning out the chicken coop (he already does the duck coop and the turkey coop), mowing the lawn (she likes to do that or it would have been his chore a long time ago), weed-eating, etc. Mom never had evening farm chores, those we do.
My daughter has helped with some of the day to day care, and the first few days, the night time care since she is usually up until two or three in the morning. They have both helped with hourly checks as well. Fortunately Mom is now getting to the point where she can be left alone for two or three hours and she is sleeping through the night. The first week was hard, though.
DH will be home on Friday and I will get a bit of a break. I'll still have to do a lot, but he can take some of the burden. I am sick from the lack of sleep and close to a full body break down. I have to ice my knees and ankles frequently due to the many trips up and down the stairs. It is only two steps, but when you do them 20 times a day when you are used to only doing them once or twice, it is hard on damaged joints.
I haven't had as much time in the garden as I would like, but it is going like gangbusters. Hopefully today I can get out there and harvest, because there is a lot to do and I still want to plant green beans. It's not too late for this part of the country.
My daughter managed to dislocate her middle finger on her dominant hand 3 days ago. She got it back in, but the swelling and pain has been pretty bad. The doctor said just treat it like a sprain once he made sure it was in place. So it is in a splint and taped to the finger next door. This has taken her out of the running for a lot of things, like doing the dishes, taking out the recycling, cleaning the bathroom, and folding the laundry, all chores she either does or helps with normally.
Her brother picks up a lot of that slack. I went in halfsies on Nintendo Switch for him due to all his hard work.
In the midst of all this, I managed to spill water on my laptop and it will be 4 to 6 weeks until I get it back. I remember when turnaround was only 10 days. I'm sure I just fried the motherboard. This is not my first time spilling water on a computer, but hopefully it is my last.
I am using a new desk top computer hooked up to my TV. It will be my daughter's computer after I get my laptop back. Her laptop has lasted 8 years, but it is showing its age, so this was on the agenda anyway. It was 12 months same as cash, so I went ahead and did that. I usually do.
The medical bills from my ER visit and emergency laser eye surgery came in. It's $1800 total since it all went on the deductible. And I had $450 of labs, also all on the deductible. My x-rays bill hasn't come yet, but that will also be on the deductible. The new medical insurance can't start soon enough. We will have to meet a $1000 family deductible for it, but then we are done with that nonsense for the rest of the year. Plus not having to pay $1337 a month for insurance will be great. It'll just be $300 pre-tax a month, which frees up a lot of money.
DH got a job offer, but it wasn't one that would be sustainable. It would have been a drop in pay of 40%. Which would work if it was a local job, but not for one he has to pay airfare and travel expenses for. This is an offer from the company he was laid off from. It is also a backwards step in his career to a lower position. While it would have been steady work, we would have had to take money from savings each month to meet all the bills, so he declined it.
The other job he interviewed for is taking forever to start up and he probably won't hear anything about that until August. He will continue to look for something else, but my hope is that things will straighten out with the company he is currently working for since their benefits are unbeatable. Right now they have been given an additional project and have work through December, not just through October. Maybe things will continue to pick up.
I have set a goal for myself to try to write at least 1000 words a day on my novel. I can normally do 1500 to 2000 a day, but not while caring for my mother. Still, I'd like to do as much as I can. I just need to make it a priority again.
Well, that should catch things up. Hopefully I will be able to post again soon.
Mom's shoulder surgery went well. They kept pushing it back so I didn't hear anything until 4:30, but the doctor said it went beautifully. I was able to pop up and see her at 8:30. We didn't get to visit much since the nurse was in there with her until 8:50 and then visiting hours ended at 9. She said I didn't need to come today, but she seemed glad to see me.
Her doctor asked if she is being forgetful lately, because he was worried about it being a side-effect of the surgery or the pain medicine, but I told him she is getting forgetful about some things. It's not bad yet, just kind of irritating, but not so much that she needs help for it. Just aging. Though I do keep a watch on her about it.
I told the nurse I thought she should stay in the hospital for another day based on how she was last time. Medicaid and Bridge will pay for it so she might as well stay another day with people who can care for her full time, unlike me, who has a full day tomorrow. I based my schedule on what I was told, which was 2 days. And since I'm the only one who will be caring for her, since my siblings don't do that sort of thing, I'd like them to stick to the original plan.
DS is applying for his first job tomorrow. He got the application today and took the food handler's permit test and got that. It is a weird feeling. I really didn't want him to work this summer as he still has school work to catch up on, but he has promised he will continue with it through the summer and if he doesn't I'll make him quit.
He's applying at McDonalds. They are hiring and they've got the college tuition help so he could build that up if he works there. It was something I found so helpful when I was working there and going to college. It wasn't a ton, but it paid for my books. I hope he doesn't have any trouble getting hired there. He's never had a job before outside the farm. He can ride his bike or walk there (35 minute walk, 10 minute bike ride) unless it is raining, then I'd take him.
He wants to buy an iPhone, which I said okay on, but after he has the money for that, he has to put half of every paycheck into savings for college and open an IRA and put in $50 a week and contribute at least $10 a month to charity, either the local mission or the teenage runaway mission Covenant House.
If he does okay with his school work during the summer, than I may let him work part time during the school year. I just can't let his studies suffer. He's already 1/2 a year behind due to all the stuff leading up to and recovering from his sinus surgery. I want to keep him on track. His grades are good, he's just missed time.
So many things are changing right now and it is hard for me to deal with it all. I don't like change. I like steady, dependable, reliable routine. But I know he has to grow up, so I try not to be too crazy about it.
I am still worried about the job situation, but what else is new? Either it works out or it doesn't. Hopefully it does. Oh, and they ended up deciding to let him stay through Thursday of the third week since it was a screw up on their part. His boss will be retiring soon, too, so that should be helpful. It would still be nice, though, if he could get that other job.
The rabbit kits are growing up so well. The one eight week old broken red is a female. I was hoping for a male, but I'm keeping her. She has perfect markings and coloration. I do need a boy, though. There are two broken reds in Ella's 3.5 week old litter. One has good coloration, the other has good markings. I just don't know though. I'll need to wait and see how their coloring changes as they get bigger. If it isn't right, we can try again.
There is a gorgeous solid black 3.5 week old as well, that looks like he will stay that color. He is even darker than Ella. If he is a boy, I would be very tempted to keep him, but we really don't have the room right now.
The garden is doing really well. I have more lettuce than I know what to do with, but other things are coming along. I got my first kohlrabi and there are teeny tiny peas on the snow pea plants. Maybe in a week they will be ready. I saw some color on one of the strawberries yesterday so hopefully they will all be ripening up soon. If I can keep the squirrels off them we will have a bumper crop.
The weather the last few days has been really nice, though my latest garden transplants were not too happy with it. A little extra water, though, and they perked right up. Everything else has grown tremendously during these nicer days. I need to start hardening off my basil plants that I cloned off basil I was growing in the Aerogarden.
I've spent a couple of hours a day in the garden for the last two days and it has really helped to improve my mood. I'm still down a bit, but not feeling so hopeless. I've got almost everything in now. I just need to plant 3 pepper plants, bell, jalapeno, and cayenne, and some sunflowers and I am good until I've harvested enough to succession plant.
We haven't had to buy lettuce for 4 weeks now and we haven't had to buy spinach for 2 weeks. Kale and chard we have had all winter and spring. I pulled my first carrots from the batch that overwintered.
I wish I had a garden twice the size of what I do have. I don't like having to pick and choose what I can plant. I want to plant everything that I want to grow. As it is, I think I have to give up winter squash other than acorn and green beans this year. I can get both of those things at the no spray garden, along with good potatoes for canning, and they are cheap, so it is better to do that than to try to grow what takes up so much space in a limited area.
I put in more broccoli, some cauliflower, more kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, red shiso, 60 garlic starts, acorn squash, gold rush zucchini, patty pan summer squash, regular zucchini, English cucumbers, and pickling cucumbers. I don't need to make pickles, I just like the way those cukes taste.
I also put in red and yellow snap dragons, orange pansies, allysum (white), and heliotrope (deep purple). Flowers attract pollinators, plus they are beautiful and provide bright spots in what is mostly a sea of green right now. Most of my other flowers are herbs for tea and medicinal purposes, but not every flower has to pull double duty, just most of them.
I don't think I mentioned that we have new rabbit babies on the farm. They were born on Mother's Day. Ella had nine, 2 broken blacks, 2 blacks, 2 broken reds, and the rest are either white or a very light fawn (blond). It is hard to tell yet, as colors tend to darken with age. Persephone had five, all white. We gave Persephone two of Ella's kits to raise (one of the broken blacks and one of the blacks so we can tell whose are whose), so each mother is raising seven. This gives the kits a better shot at being evenly fed and is easier on the mother's and milk production.
Ruby and Serena missed again. I think Serena is just too old now. Ruby is still young so I don't know what is going on with her. We'll try again next month.
I am hoping that one of Ella's broken reds is a buck. We got a broken red doe kit from Bonfire that is the sweetest thing ever. She's six weeks old. If we could actually grow up a breeding pair I would be thrilled. I am also looking for a good broken black female. Zander keeps throwing male broken blacks, so far only one female, and she was poorly patterned with lots of white hairs in the black fur. And of course all of the males are beautifully patterned because that is the way it goes when you are trying for something.
Gina's laying eggs. So far we've gotten 3 eggs in two weeks. I wasn't sure she would ever lay again after last year's injury. I hope she clicks into gear a little bit faster now. Her first year she laid 3 to 4 eggs a week. Last year she didn't lay at all because it took 8 months to grow new feathers after the owl attack and turkeys can't lay eggs and grow new feathers at the same time. They use all their protein for one or the other and you can't just increase it because it can do damage to change from the proper ratio.
The ducks are all doing very well, though we lost one of the shelter chickens. She managed to wedge herself between the garage and the chicken coop and couldn't get out and gave herself a heart attack trying, poor thing. If it had to be someone, I was glad it wasn't one of the nice ones. Only two of the shelter birds are nice, the others are all bullies. I wish Mom had never got them because they've been really bad for flock dynamics.
We need to order feed in the morning, so that will be another expense. I need to find a bigger box for Gina. She's broody and the little box she's sitting in doesn't really fit her comfortably. I can probably find something for around $20. It needs to be plastic so it is easy to clean. I may just get a duplicate of what I use for the ducks. It is big enough for her, since two ducks can fit in one, and she used to sit in one the first year when she was broody.
We also need to buy a new cooler to be used as a chill tank on butcher days and a canopy to put up as a sunshade in front of the rabbit shed windows. It helps to keep it cooler inside. We've been using a tarp the last couple years, but I'd like something a bit more sturdy and that is easy to take down in wind storms.
Unfortunately I haven't sold any rabbits in a while, so I'll have to take the money out of the budget. That's okay, though. We've done it before and we can do it again.
I was able to get myself down to the feed mill and back, but I can tell you that I was really glad that I wasn't doing it a couple days ago when this cold first hit. I had a bit more energy today, but still have had to take really long rest breaks.
I started making dinner at two. It was a stir-fry and I knew in order to get everything prepped I'd have to take it in stages with breaks in between. It wasn't too bad doing it like that and by the time 5:30 rolled around I had rested enough to do the actual cooking. It was good to have a whole meal that was healthy tonight instead of adding a salad to pizza or pasta.
DH figured out how to deposit his first paycheck over the internet. Since we don't have smartphones we've never been able to do the take a photo to deposit a check thing, but now our credit union has an app that allows a tablet to use it so he was able to deposit it that way. It won't show up until Tuesday, but that is better than waiting for it to show up in the mail.
His per diem will be on it as well as his training pay, but not his airfare reimbursement, so we will still have some money coming for that. It will be so nice not to have money being lost from savings anymore. These first couple months will still be tight because of medical, but once the new insurance kicks in July 1, I feel like we will be on the home stretch. I am not sure if we will be able to save any money until then, but at least we shouldn't have to take any more out.
DH seems to be enjoying his new job and liking the people he is working with, though there is a lot to straighten out to get things running smoothly. People seem to be real happy to have him there, which is always a good thing.
Today was finally a no spend day, by dint of the fact that I didn't go anywhere or do anything. I spent the majority of the day resting. This head cold has really knocked me for a loop. I did manage to make lunch and dinner and do the evening rabbit check with my son. I also put one load of laundry that I washed last night into the dryer, where it remains. Considering how I am feeling, I call that a victory.
Tomorrow afternoon DD has a follow-up with the allergist, so that will be $50. And DH has to call in a feed order for turkey food for us to pick up on Friday, which will likely be around $100. Now that the mill has moved counties I have to buy in larger amounts so we are not making the trip all the time. It was a lot more convenient when it was just a couple miles from my house. I just hope I have the energy to drive down there Friday. I guess I'll have to. If I wait until Monday, the turkeys will be completely out of food.
I also have to pick up some black oil sunflower seeds for the rabbits as we are almost out. They get a tbsp of that each daily. It makes their coats glossy. It takes a long time to get through a bag, but we are almost there.
Speaking of the rabbits, the premature kit had his eyes open tonight, so now they all have their eyes open. He is also catching up in size to the smallest of the rest of the litter. They are moving into the too stinking cute stage now. Between two weeks and five weeks is when they are the most adorable.
The kids had to clean Gina's nose out tonight. I would have gone out if they had needed me, but fortunately they did not. Gina was so grateful. She'd managed to get mud lodged in her nostrils and was only breathing through her mouth. If you've never seen a turkey panting before, it is quite a sight. At first she was less than thrilled about being restrained, but once she realized what they were doing, she went completely limp and let them do it. She did her happy whistling trill afterwards.
George wasn't happy, but they'd had the foresight to lock him in the pen before they went after Gina. The last thing anyone needed was a protective tom going nuts on them. He's usually a mild-mannered fellow, but not if he perceives there is a threat to his mate.
I am well ahead of target for reading 50 books for the year. I am currently reading the latest Icicle Falls novel. My hold finally came in at the library. Of course once you go pick up one, that same night you get a notification that there are 4 more waiting for you that were not ready when you were actually there. Oh, well, free books are worth the trip and it is not that far.
Last night I started getting a scratchy throat and this morning I woke up with a full-fledged cold. Sometimes I think spring and summer colds are worse than winter ones, because in the winter all you want to do is hole up and rest and in the spring and summer you want to be out there doing things.
I went to the doctor this morning, so $30 co-pay. I really liked the new doctor. I was her first patient on her first day. She really listened to me. She decided to order blood work and they'll be testing for rheumatoid arthritis, nightshade allergies, thyroid, and a regular blood workup that checks cholesterol and all that. Maybe some other stuff. They drew five vials. I have a follow up with my own doctor on the 4th.
I was a little light-headed afterwards, but I don't know if that is from the head cold or the blood draw. I ate and laid down for 3 hours. I'm not sure if napped or not. If I did it was a surface sleep. I hope I sleep better tonight because I still feel exhausted.
Bonfire's litter is doing really well. Her four bio-kits all have their eyes open, and her foster kit is catching up in size, but may not open its eyes for another week, if I adjust its age for being premature. It could be 4 day to 7 days from now due to that. It's a lovely litter and the broken red is just gorgeous.
We need to replace 12 cages. That will be quite an expense, but I've put it off long enough and it needs to be done. I will probably replace 3 at a time, just so I don't have the cartons taking up a bunch of room while we build them out. It'll go slower with just me and DS putting them together, but I don't want to wait until DH gets back to get started. Hopefully, by the time the cages arrive I will be over my cold and able to put them together.
Tomorrow is a doctor's appointment for my daughter and I will have to pick up some prescriptions that I was too tired to pick up tonight. So more medical expenses. Yippee.
Good health and wellness forever eludes us. It's not so much to ask for is it? I'm tired of being tired and I'm sick of being sick. I am blessed in many aspects of my life. I sure wish this was one of them.
I spent about 2 hours in the garden today and I will probably be paying for it for the next two days. I got all the strawberry plants that I had dug up and separated while DH was still home transplanted back into the garden. What had been in one 8 x 2 foot bed is now in three 8 x 2 foot beds and I have two 18 count flats worth of strawberry crowns still in 4 inch pots. I will probably sell them. The stores sell them for $1.50 a pot now so I can probably easily get 50 cents a plant.
After that I got about half of my copra keeping onions in. I need my son to add a bag of soil to the one end of the garden bed because it is much lower than the other before I plant the rest. I planted some blue lobelia, a blue harmony anemone, a purple and white cinnararia, and a blue and white cinnararia. I pulled some weeds, though there weren't very many in the raised beds, just a few.
I have some celery, curly-leafed parsley, and flat leafed parsley that I need to plant still, but I ran out of steam. I am really glad that dinner is in the crockpot. I made rack of lamb. All I did was cover it heavily with herbs de provence. I've made it several times before and it is always so falling off the bone tender and wonderful. I don't usually splurge for lamb, especially rack of lamb, but it was worth it for today. Sides are strawberries, broccoli, and baked sweet potatoes.
I am thinking of going...well, not exactly kosher, but eliminating all of the meats that were considered unclean in Leviticus. Which means bottom feeder fish, shellfish, and pork will be eliminated from my diet. Not sure about rabbit. Hare is excluded, but rabbit is a different species and not specifically mentioned. I think it probably is, though. We've been selling most of our rabbit anyway.
To be honest, sometimes having the rabbits really gets to me, like when we lose litters. Or during butchering time. Sometimes I think it would be nice to narrow down the numbers, keep a few for pets, a few for sales, and not have so much. But they pay for themselves and the family really enjoys the meat. So do I, but I do want to try this kinda kosher thing and see if it makes any difference to my health. I'd still make it for the others.
I can get on very well with the right kind of fish, chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, duck, goose, quail, etc. I eat mostly chicken and turkey anyway. I'd miss lobster, crab, and shrimp, but I don't eat much of that anyway because of the expense.
I see the doctor tomorrow morning. She's new in the practice. I am hoping she is not a ditz like one of the other female doctors and one of the other male doctors. I wanted to see my own doctor, but the receptionist thought I should get in for pain meds on Monday and we could figure out everything else from there. My doctor didn't have an opening this week, as usual. Who knows? If I like this woman, I may switch to her. I have no attachment to my own doctor. I'm lucky if I see him once a year and have no loyalty to him at all, though I like him.
I think I'll go to bed early tonight. I wish this exhaustion would stop. Two hours of fairly slow, but steady working, should not wipe me out this way.
I dropped DH off at the airport tonight and things will return to some semblance of our old normal now. It is going to be really weird to have him gone for so long after having him home for nearly nine months. He will be gone more than 3 weeks this time, because he starts training this week. Not that he needs it. He could teach the training, but each new company requires it. Last time he did the training he basically told the trainer what was what, because the trainer didn't know anything really and wanted to know the types of things he needed to know. Hopefully it is not quite like that again this time.
DH's first real paycheck will be on the 28th, but he will get something for training on the 21st. He won't get hazard pay for the training, he'll get 70% of harzard pay plus a per diem for food and the hotel. I believe DH said the per diem was $189 per day, but it might have been $169. His hotel that he's staying at is $77 and then he will have taxi fare and food costs. He will likely come in under that so there might be extra unless they are the type of company that will reimburse you up to that amount, instead of that full amount. Some only give you what you actually have receipts for. Also he will get reimbursed for his first ticket up there so that will be nice.
Company B waited so long to get back to him on what training days he needed to be there for that the only tickets left were first class. The difference between the coach tickets and first class was only $112 so DH figured he could pay the difference if necessary. I say if they couldn't bother to return his messages, they deserve to have to pay first class prices. They will also pay the change fee since his original ticket that he bought to go up on Thursday, the day he was first told, had to be changed.
His ticket went from $250 bought a few weeks in advance to $650. So if the Company B had been on the ball they could have saved themselves a lot of money. Oh, well. I really hope they are more on the ball about other things, though it doesn't sound much like it.
Oh, well, the 401K is a dream and so is the medical insurance. I will do different posts on those.
I've been pretty quiet the last several days as we have been doing everything that needed to be done that I need to have DH do. We bought duck feed, rabbit feed, and oats. The mill we get our oats and turkey feed from moved to the next county instead of ours. It used to be in my city. But at least it is at the near end of the next county and it is also on the way to the mill that does the rabbit feed. And there is a feed store in between the two that sells the organic duck feed we use.
We butchered and we mucked out the rabbit shed. We moved the chickens into the big coop as it was getting too hard to use the smaller one since 2 chickens won't get off the roost (one is injured and the other is old) and it is too small a coop to get inside. The big one you can walk inside.
We had 3 litters of kits born and lost 2. It was bad. We lost a total of 14 kits and one mother who we pulled 9 premature kits from that were a couple days short of term. 2 days is a lot in a 31 day pregnancy. I do not want to go through that again any time soon. There are five healthy kits now, though one is a couple days premature he is eating and his fur is coming in. He has become pretty vigorous, but he shakes a little so I don't know if he'll be normal or not.
We took stuff to storage, went through boxes and cleaned the house except for the kitchen and hallway. We donated more clothes. We got manure spread in garden beds and compost put on top. I did some planting. We got a lot accomplished but blogging wasn't one of those things.
Then tonight I stepped on a needle. It went in sideways somehow into the ball of my foot. It was a two inch needle and only 1/2 inch was sticking out. It hurts a lot. It was worse pulling it out than it was stepping on it. My son cleaned up the blood off the carpet and my daughter doctored the wound then washed the blood out of my sock and then out of her sock since she's stepped in one of the blood spots. It all came out.
It hurts to walk on it, but I can avoid that spot if I don't put any weight on the half of the ball that got pierced. I was going to start going to the pool again tomorrow morning, but I don't think I can do water Zumba on this. Maybe Monday.
I hope everyone else had a less busy week than I did.
Company B came through. DH has a job. He starts April 14th. He'll be making more than he was when he was laid off from Company A, but not as much as he was before Company A's 9% pay cut. They said they'd mail out a benefits package and it should be here on Monday, so we will know how much medical costs through them and whether or not there is 401K matching and how long it is before he can contribute.
He'll be working 3 weeks on/3 weeks off, which is not the most favorable of schedules, the 2 and 2 is much easier on the family and is easier to budget, but a job is a job and we can't afford to be picky right now. The way I did the budget in the past on a 3 and 3 is that I'd take 2 weeks, which was for one month and the third week I'd put in savings until the next month's budget. Each month's budget only dealt with two paychecks, whether it was a month that had 2, 3, or 1 paycheck.
That's another thing I'll need to find out, whether the pay is weekly, every two weeks, or once a month. The norm up there has always been weekly, but who knows with this company?
DH ran the numbers for me so I could figure out the new budget. At least what the numbers will be before they start taking out health insurance and retirement. I should be able to start rebuilding the Emergency Fund, though not at the speed I'd like. My goal for it is going to be $30,000, because $20,000 was not enough. If it wasn't for the Farm Down Payment Fund, we'd be living on credit right now. So $30,000 with perhaps $60,000 as a longer term goal.
$60K would cover a year's expenses with health insurance for the four of us. Although I'm hoping that if there is a next time, my kids will be on their own and it would only be the two of us, which would be much cheaper to cover. Or at least working jobs where they can pay for their own health insurance.
My earnings from youtube and AdSense and Pinecone will go into the EF. And if I do publish my novel (which is coming along) after I finish it, any earnings from that will go to rebuild the EF as well, I think, though I would like to start an IRA for myself also. Plus the old coin jar and $1 bills trick, which always serves me well.
Once the Emergency Fund is rebuilt, we can start adding to the Farm Down Payment Fund again, although somewhere along the line, I'd like to purchase half a beef.
We have learned to live on so much less, but with income again we'll be paying my mother $1000 a month again for 3 years and that's a big chunk. Maybe buying a farm is a pipe dream. Maybe it'll be something I have to give up. Or scale down. I know we can be pretty self-sufficient on two acres, but I have always wanted five with at least two acres in trees so we'd have our own renewable wood supply and not be dependent on propane.
I don't know. We'll have to see. The important thing is that DH has a job and we can at last get things turned around and going in the right direction again. Thank you all for your prayers. They have meant the world to me.
Google AdSense is frustrating the crap out of me right now. Every time I think I've dotted every i and crossed every t so that I will actually get my payment from them, turns out there is yet one more box to check hidden somewhere in the remotest recesses of their website. While creating ad blocks is easy, everything else is soooooooo user unfriendly. They are straight-forward about nothing, important info is hidden, and I have to watch numerous videos to try to figure everything out.
And are those videos on the AdSense page? Oh, no, nothing so easy as that. They are on youtube and they are done by other users that have figured stuff out. Of course you have to make sure the video is from not too far in the past because they change stuff all the time. Ugh.
Youtube itself is a little easier to figure out, but not by much. They don't hide the info, but it is not particularly easy to interpret. I am trying not to bang my head against the wall, but it would feel better than dealing with all this rigamarole.
We haven't heard anything further from Company B. They only called on Saturday. They said they'd call back in a couple days. I am assuming business days. It is possible the guy meant a few days when he said a couple of days. I wish people would be more precise with their speech. A couple is two. Which means all day Monday, all day Tuesday, they should have called today.
I have very little faith that this isn't some cosmic joke they are playing just to screw DH over again, but I am particularly pessimistic at the moment. He probably meant a few. I am rational enough to realize that.
It would be nice to be able to buy a plane ticket if necessary before the prices go way up for last minute purchases. But no one operates on my time table or my budget, so whatever.
We lost Leo on the night of the 13th. He died of old age. He was the last of the original rabbits we brought home. We bred him with Ella on the 6th so maybe there will be one last litter from him. His kits always had the sweetest personalities. This puts us down to 2 bucks, our New Zealand white Starbuck and our broken black New Zealand Zander. Starbuck is three and Zander will be one April 9th. I am hoping either Zander's breeding with Ruby or with Bonfire will produce a NZ broken red buck. We won't know until around the end of the first week of April.
This week has been a little topsy turvy. I have gotten stuff done, though. We built an open cabinet and are working on sanding more wood for the second canning cabinet. We got a bunch of boxes taken to storage. I dehydrated more garlic. I cleaned up the garden a bit. The kitchen needs a major spring cleaning, we need to butcher, and I need to transplant and divide my aloe plants.
Today was a no spend day. At least there is that.
It is supposed to start snowing around 5:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. I am less than pleased and I know the chickens will be ready to mutiny. Quite frankly, I'm ready to mutiny if I see anymore of the white, flaky stuff. At this rate my son may have snow on his birthday this year. That has only ever happened twice in almost 17 years. I am so ready for spring. I want to be planting in the garden, not seeing another foot of snow filling the garden boxes.
I am sending DH to get a few things before we have to snuggle in for a few days. My prescriptions for one. That'll be $20 for the 4. I don't want to run out of my sleeping medicine, especially. As an insomniac, it is never fun to run out of the drug that at least ensures you get 4 hour of sleep every night.
I can make bread as long as we have power and I have an entire loaf of French bread in the fridge and 6 rolls on the table, so I'm not worried about that. We have had very little milk in the last few months, but I do happen to have a half gallon of whole and a pint of cream for some upcoming meals. There is really nothing else we need. One of the nice things about having all of my home canned items, my stash of bottled water, and my freezer full of meat, is that if we can't go anywhere for days at a time, we will be okay.
We have plenty of animal feed on hand. We also have plenty of hay and straw. The heat lamps are set up and so are the heated water founts. The heater is in the rabbit shed. We run it just low enough to keep the water bottles from freezing unless we have kits and then we keep it at at least 50 degrees in there.
On tomorrow's agenda is making cinnamon twists. I think they'll be easier than making cinnamon rolls, which is a pain in the neck. These twist just like Kaiser rolls, which I make all the time, so they should be easy enough, just have a different dough recipe. Being trapped in the house for the better part of the week I can handle. Being trapped without sweets, on the other hand, is a totally different story.
Well, it took some doing, but we got the first bookcase emptied and out of the pantry and then brought the new cabinet we built into the house. I thought it was only going to hold jars 5 deep, but it actually holds them 6 deep, so even more than I thought.
You can see from the picture how much space was wasted in the bookcases because of how far apart the shelves are in comparison to the canning shelves. I will be happy to get the second cabinet built. I think we can put everything that is on the two bookcases into one more cabinet.
We plan to build 3, or possibly even 4 total, if the pallet supply holds out. I think on the next one I will have one shelf that is big enough for 1/2 gallon and gallon size jars as well as #10 cans. Then we can put our dehydrated stuff on that shelf.
We are almost out of onions. I think I have 6 left on my onion braid. These are the Cobra Keeping Onions. I did not lose a single yellow onion to rot or sprouting. I will be planting these again this spring. I saved seed so I just need to get them started and under the grow light. The purple onions, on the other hand, did not make it more than a couple of months, but I don't think they were a storage onion. I did find a purple storage onion and I am hoping to get sets for it and see how that does this year.
I will pay more attention to watering this year. These were great onions, but they were small and strong, because I didn't water them as much as I should have and it didn't rain more than 2 or 3 times all summer. I want some bigger ones that will last longer. Meanwhile, I ordered some freeze dried onions from Thrive to get me through once these ones run out. I'll still have to buy purple ones for my salads, but the yellow ones will be covered.
One day I'd like to own a freeze dryer. They do make them for homes now, but they cost a lot, so right now with no income it is a pipe dream. Plus there is no place to put one while we live here. The cheapest model is $2595, so that is way down the road. There are a lot of women I know who would be interested in renting it, if I had one. I wouldn't let it leave my home, though. They'd have to bring their stuff over all prepped and I could dry it for them and they could pick it up afterwards. For now, I'll just have to be happy with my dehydrator.
Honestly, it was a pretty boring day. I spent most of it reading my library book Nourishing Traditions. Which is kind of a cookbook and kind of an old take on good nutrition and where government mandated nutrition went really, really wrong and basically caused the obesity problem in this country with its guidelines. I think it is related to the Weston A. Price Foundation. Anyway, it is a good read so far. She's really done her research.
I don't think I mentioned it, but we sold Jasper on Sunday. I got $25 for him. This puts our rabbit herd down to 12 adults and 11 grow outs. I hated to see Jasper go, he is such a love, but we didn't need 4 bucks, especially when 3 of them are whites. I have been debating on whether or not I want to keep a broken doe, but if I do it won't be from the current two litters.
I'd like a broken red. So we'll see if a Zander/Bonfire cross or a Zander/Ruby cross will produce one. As much as I'd love an offsrping from Cinnabun, she has cataracts and I can't risk her passing that on. I don't want to be treating the eyes of more than one rabbit daily. She's still good for producing meaties, though.
Zoe died. I can't remember if I mentioned that or not. Also on Sunday. She was one of our ducks and she had a staph infection in her foot. We tried pretty hard to save her, but I knew in her last couple of days that she probably wasn't going to make it. You get a sense of it with livestock after a few years. It's sad, but we were prepared. That brings our duck population down to 6. At least all the other ducks are healthy.
I think one of Mom's chickens is sick. It's one of the ones she got from the pound and she's never been the healthiest bird, but she's limping real bad. I checked her feet and she's got bumblefoot. That is not fun to treat, but it needs to be done, and then she'll have to go in a hospital cage to keep her from running around on it for at least a week. Not looking forward to that.
DH did run up to Winco and picked up some more soup. The kids have been eating it like crazy. They add eggs to give it more protein. He bought $26 worth. At least it is cheap soup.
Oh, and there was a $50 co-pay for my daughter at the dermatologist. I had DH make an appointment for me while he was there. I have an extreme rash on my hand that won't go away. I was thinking it was eczema, but now I'm starting to wonder if it isn't something else. I'll find out next week.
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