Friday, 30 April 2010

Butterfly School

Last week Lil'Bug found a butterfly just emerging from a cocoon. She just thought it was stuck on a log so she watched it crawl out and then scooped it up. I explained to her why it wouldn't fly just yet and she sat for 20 minutes with it gently in her hands until its wings dried out. Then she watched it flit away. Bye bye flutter by.......

Monday, 26 April 2010

Lucky Day, and some other stuff.

For someone anyway. As I was finishing up chores outside the dogs started barking in the 'I'm seriously barking at something for real this time' way. I let them run for it and followed them down to the pond. We were almost there when I heard someone crying (we sped up). The dogs waited for me to tell them to go into the street, and they ranged out in front of me about 20 feet barking and growling. There was a guy with two young girls walking out of the washed out grade B road.

I talked to him for a moment and assessed that this was not what I had at first feared thankfully, and called the dogs off. They're normally not that responsive, but apparently they know when they need to listen, vs. when I want them to listen. Too smart for their own good.

So after asking the girls if everything was ok and seeing that they were fine with this guy (their dad it turns out) I got the story from the dad - the girls had asked him to take the truck out on some mud, so he'd found the grade B road and headed down. At night. In the rain. He's lucky he walked away at all instead of ending up headlong into a tree along the way - as muddy as it is that road is dangerous in the daytime. I don't expect he'll be able to get his truck out for a few days yet - I've seen 4WD tractors and trucks stuck in better weather than this, and the fields will be draining onto the road for another few days at least.

I took them home - that poor guy is going to have to tell a really, really embarrassing story to a lot of people, but he earned it - what the heck was he thinking? Lucky for him the dogs heard him or he'd have been walking a lot longer.

Earlier today I picked up a new storage bin to set out by the pigs so MamaP doesn't have to move the buckets around as much anymore for the morning pig chores, along with a bunch of new fence posts and fencing to put up around the garden to keep the dogs out.

Also earlier this week I finally killed Chicken Nugget the rooster who had been attacking MamaP and the kids. I realize it had to be done, but I felt bad about it - from his perspective he was just protecting his flock and his only real crime was doing his job too well. So it goes. Chicken Nugget Jr. will be top of the flock until the broilers come in June, then I'll be replacing him with two barred rocks which are supposed to be calmer than the Americaunas.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

I need a different view....

Everytime I open up the blog and see my horrible Monday replayed, I get stressed out again. Since I am trying to place a Spring header that has been repeated way too much.

So farm update:

  • I started beekeeping apprenticeship a few weeks back with a neighbor farm. I've been preparing for beekeeping for the past couple years. It was actually the first time I mindfully reflected on how I learn best- reading fiction. So I read every fiction book I cold find that centered around beekeeping. I started reading a non fiction guide as well, but found that all the other fiction books had addressed most of the content and it would best be used as a reference guide later. Then I had to choose, take a class or search out a mentor or just buy the stuff and the bees and learn as I go. There are lots of things that I do best with the last. I am a hands on learner but also a feet in learner. It is not enough to just have my hands on, I also have to be there and I have to be able to ask questions. Confidence is important as well. So I chose the middle option which hopeful would allow all the criteria to be met. It has. Very much so. I thought I would be afraid, that it would take more of my effort to not be fearful. Bees are so fascinating and beautiful that I have gotten completely distracted in their details. Last week I helped install 14 hives, completing the process almost solo on 6 of them. I never would have pictured myself setting a queen and then shaking her box of stressed out bees so they would angrily fall into their new hive home. I was in full bees suit but I did get a small sting on my leg because I sat on one. At one point in a previous session I also had one fly up my shirt, but I didn't freak out or get stung. It is a real exercise in being present and mindful. Daydreaming is a task hazard.
  • The pigs are growing and eating and growing and eating. I was pretty happy that Food Inc aired on the local public radio station, as it prompted some of our customers to get all warm and fuzzy about our bacon. Their new pasture is being fenced right now, today. They will love it back there and the walk will be good for me.
  • The girls are loving the warm weather.
  • The mean rooster is about to become gumbo. He attacked Dearest. 
  • 4 weeks until strawberries!!!!! The bed is weeded but still needs to be thinned. 
And that's about all I can think of right now!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

My Horrible Monday

I am going to share with with you a little nightmare that we experienced Monday ALL DAY LONG. It involves the current level of government involvement/ineptitude in health care, a freaked out pregnant woman, a supportive husband, and a somewhat confused Dr. Office's staff. I will also state for a necessary spoiler, I was the victim of lab results being read incorrectly. A screening test that was mishandled. The end of the story is happy-ish.

My Monday started off on Friday, little did I know. Friday around 5:15 PM I missed a call. Left on my voicemail was a chipper message for me to please call the Polk County Health Department. Curious, I did, but it was after hours so I left a message.

Monday the chipper woman calls me again, stating she is returning my call. Well, I was returning hers actually. She started questioning me about a blood draw I had done April 8th at Mercy. I didn't. I had it done that day at my Dr.'s office. I was totally confused. I asked her why she was asking me all these questions since I live in a different county. She ignored me and went over where I had tests done, asked me where, asked me if I intended to continue treatment in Polk County. I responded that pregnancy is not a disease and treatment is not what I call prenatal visits. There was silence. Then she said, "You have Syphilis." Um. NO I DON"T. I said it must be a false test result and then I questioned her as to why she had my confidential and private medical results and why my doctor or midwife wasn't the one informing me. She told me I was a public health risk and I needed to go through them for any further tests. I said that I would go to my midwife since this was an obvious mistake or lab error. She told me to deal with reality. I told her the reality was that I had been in a 15 year long monogamous relationship and only sexually active the last 11 years (how long we've been married) and there was no way for me to have any sort of STD. She berated my husband and questioned mine or his fidelity. I was floored. She then instructed me to listen to her and deal with the facts. I hung up.

Sobbing I called my husband. Sobbing is an understatement. I was crying so hard he could barely understand me and I was shaking and seeing little sparklies whenever I opened my eyes. I tried to focus, center myself, stop crying. He left work and drove the hour home right away.

I prayed. What my little talk with God assured me of was that I did not, do not have Syphilis. I don't. I never have.

I got myself calm and I called my midwife who was not available but her nurse said they had the results, they were still deciding how to tell me since it was so out of place. I asked questions she said she'd call me back after she talked with the doctor and found some answers for me. 3 hours later I called her back. I demanded a new round of labs. I informed her of my research that morning that false positives were common in women and even more common in pregnant women and based on that a positive result should be confirmed before scaring the daylights out of a pregnant woman. She then told me, when I insisted again that it was a false positive or a lab mix up, that all of that was in my head and I needed to deal with the data and the reality of this lab result. She said the County CASEWORKER hadn't called her back to instruct her how to handle further testing. !!!! A caseworker, a government employee, had my private medical files and wouldn't give them to my doctor, just yet.

Blood pressure spikes, crying resumes, pretty little sparklies. Sobbing. Calming myself with prayer once again, God reassured me that I DO NOT HAVE SYPHILIS, that I trust my husband with all that I am, and neither one of us has ever put us at risk for anything even remotely related. I've been tested with both other pregnancies, by the Navy, by Planned Parenthood and he's been tested with every blood donation. Calm for the storm. My foundation is secure. Prayer lifted me out of the blood pressure spike.

Chad called the doctor 5 minutes later. The doctor said lots of things about state law, government policy, and the disease and dormancy and contraction and that the office did not actually have the results, had not seen them at all, since they went to the County or State instead of back to them based on the result. !!!!

20 minutes later the midwife called me and apologized. She finally had the lab results in hand and looking at them could confirmed that I DO NOT HAVE SYPHILIS. Just as I was telling everyone all freaking day long. Based on the lab results that were done, the original results that the same medically untrained government caseworker had looked at, my doctor and midwife determined that I DO NOT HAVE SYPHILIS.

"I know that. That's what I've been telling everyone all day long." I said.

So that's the good news.

BUT...the midwife said the biological marker that confused the untrained caseworker and/or the lab tech was indicative of an autoimmune disease and in fact a serious thing and that I needed to come in for more blood work to rule out or identify the cause. Could be any number of serious things including Type 1 Diabetes, thyroid disfuction, Lupus, or NOTHING at all.

She stayed late at the office (with a different nurse) so I could drive in and give the blood for the next round of testing right away. That at least allowed me to sleep Monday night. She hugged me. She said she gave the Department of Public Health a good talking to. She explained to me again what these additional tests were looking for, how the markers were read, and what would happen next in my care plan if any of them, or depending on which one, come back positive. I would be transferred to the care of specialists. No need to speculate about the health of the baby until we know exactly what is going on.

So I am left waiting for the next round of results.

And trying to figure out how to get the county to remove my name in their register of STD's since it was a test result interpreted by an someone who didn't know what they were looking at.

So my blood pressure is not good but better now that I am not freaked out crying. Chad has been wonderful.

And I am left with the question...why exactly is a medically untrained government employee being handed my confidential medical records? And then why was she then given the power to withhold them from my own chosen medical provider, for any length of time?

Why was I put through this nightmare? For a moment, remember that this same system, possibly the same medically untrained caseworker is also notifying people who are really infected, possibly rape victims, as well as others with false results. Her tact and people skills were zero. She caused real physical harm to me and possibly my unborn baby. Stress like that is not good. Blood pressure spikes like that can be deadly.

So, I am healthy and the baby is fine, but I am still a little scared and angry. You know?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Snake Days

I just figured out how to get my Dearest to willingly pose for pictures. Ha! 

And this little guy I almost shredded. We have not identified him or her yet, but the picture does no justice to the red markings on the side.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Piglet Arrival Part Two

This was mid-afternoon. The pigs found a nice shady place and were resting.

Black Berkshire pigs are definitely different to the bright pink Yorks we had last year. They have a different personality too. Lively, yet calm and curious. Last year's piglets were frantic in comparison. It should take a little bit for them to settle in and get used to the diet we offer them. They were weaned and then fed just a corn/soy mix. We supplement with goat cheese whey right now. They were curious but cautious.

This is the temporary pen they will occupy until the fence is completed in a couple weeks. Then they will live here:

We will have a total of twenty pigs out on a 1 acre plot of pasture, then rotate the next year to another plot and so on.

Mostly, I want the pigs for the orchard, to help clean up windfall and keep down insect pests. The chickens will help with that too. Oh, and bacon. :)

Berkshire Piglets 1-10 Arrive!

Family Farm School

When people ask my almost 6 year old daughter where she goes to school, she replies, "I'm farm schooled." We have always homeschooled her and she has always been pleased with this, but moving to the farm was really influenced by her development.

When she was three a neighbor gave her a wire pig lawn ornament. From that point on, rain or shine, she checked on, fed, and played with her Wilbur every single day. She was the first one of us to really start verbalizing the longer our practical, "if we ever get a farm" but, "WHEN we get our farm!"

Now that we are here and a mere eighteen months into this dream, she works and learns right along with us. She wants a horse so we have explained to her the steps she needs to take to acquire and care for a horse. Now, along with taking care of the wire Wilbur, she collects scrap bits of metal and nails from around the farm, washes and loads empty buckets for whey collection from the neighboring goat milk microdairy (for our pigs), mixes pig porridge (grain and water), feeds chickens, collects and washes eggs, and cares for the cats. She does this all to prepare for the eventuality of horse ownership. In the next year she'll join Clover Sprouts, take horse care lessons, and possibly help with a bottle calf or lamb.

She also works in the garden using real tools, pulling weeds, planting seeds, harvesting, and canning. She's only five, but she's a good helper and we work well together. I treat her with respect, her ideas are as valid and informed as mine in some cases. We are learning this life together. Not to say that she doesn't (or I don't) have bad days where all she wants to do is scream at her sister, but in general the chores calm her and give her something to do with her hands. I totally relate.

Then of course our almost two year old daughter (the aforementioned sister) wants to help too. She also helps wash eggs and buckets.

We have been criticized for having the girls, at such a young age, be so hands on and present at the work we do. There are dangerous moments, for those I make the girls wait in the truck or in the tractor cart. Those are the moments that I wonder about my own capability to handle the situation (like a great pig escape....the one time that the pigs escaped out the gate with me in charge, it was Lily's idea to just fill their food buckets and pour the whey out into the basin. They did quickly come back!) My point is, I'm not irresponsible, but I do want to let them help when they offer it to the best of their ability. Sometimes even beyond what they thought their own ability was. Sometimes I do things I never thought I was capable of; for a child those moments are HUGE and with the right guidance and support....often. This is our family farm we are starting up from scratch and each family member has a place in it.

One of the things my husband and I discussed when we began our family was who we wanted to be like. Not just as parents, but as people. It always seemed to come back to people who were raised on a farm. Those people knew things we wanted to learn, had a way with people, and in general knew a lot about a lot of different things. Skills. Building, fixing, gardening, livestock, engines, religion, hunting, harvesting, cooking, beekeeping, glasswork, carpentry, animal husbandry....the list goes on. We wanted that for ourselves and then for our children. My happiest moments, the only moments in my childhood that were peaceful, were at my aunt's farm in rural Eastern Colorado. Until now, that kind of peaceful mindfulness had eluded me. Now I feel it every night as I tuck my daughters in to bed. It's hard work, but farm school is really the place for us to be right now.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

New additions to the farm fun!

Adding to the farm fun......we love babies. We love being parents. We were not planning on adding to the family so soon, but we welcome surprises as they come! Yes, that's right. Baby # 3 will be joining us for the last part of harvest season. :)

So that said, here are some gratuitous cute kid pictures from Easter! (And yes, that is the mysterious and hardly ever seen....Uncle J!)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Farm Auction Fun

Saturday we went to our first farm auction. Besides coming home with two totally burned out kidlets, a bad facial windburn, and a new very used horse trailer to haul piglets in....we also learned a LOT.

One of the things that is more and more apparent, as we progress building the farm and orchard to what we want it to be, is how little we know about general knowledge that most rural folks just grow up with. For example, what things are called and what they do. There are so many different types of feeders, tractors, attachments, do dads, and equipment. We don't have a relative on a neighboring farm to borrow pasture or a tractor or know how. We really are starting from scratch. Thank goodness for the Internet!

All in all it was a good day. We arrived early because the trailer was supposed to be in the first few groups, but as they finished one group and moved to the next and the next we began to realize that there wasn't much logic to the progression and eventually they got the one item we came for.....of course it was the VERY LAST item of the whole auction. Totally worth it though. Next time we need to remember to bring more cash for the food available or pack a lunch.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

My Kitchen Will Be Yellow....Eventually.

This is the wall I got done. Eventually I will finish the other walls. It is bright and cheery and I have been inspired.