Saturday, 22 May 2010

Some big news, and some little news

Yesterday while burning a pile of wood I found a snake - I was able to grab it and MamaP and the girls pulled in to the driveway while I was looking for a place to keep it until they arrived.

The big news (for me anyway) is that it was a new species for me - a Brown Snake. I had assumed the snake was a baby but it was probably at least close to being an adult. It was extremely docile, so I let Lily bring it back to field to set it free. Even Holly got to hold it, but we didn't get a pic of that since I was helping her.

In other, much smaller news, I managed to fix the hot water heater. The board that had to be replaced is below. The heater is a tankless heater from a brand called Paloma, that was bought out by a company called Rheem. Overall the customer service on the phone was really good - inefficient (I was transfered about 4 times) but very helpful. I told them my error code, and about 20 seconds later he was getting my address to ship the part to me. When I ran into a problem with the installation related to some poor documentation, they were open on Saturday and explained the procedure to program the board very clearly - they were obviously familiar with the product and not reading from a script.

The offending board is here - the round things on the left side are capacitors, and the ones that look like they have a rounded top do, and aren't supposed to. They failed for some reason which is why we were receiving the error. The capacitors on the new board were a little different - I suspect they were replaced for that reason.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Deserting the dessert menu....

List of to do's today that are mostly done:
Dump run, hive check, and gas tank fill.

Now we still have:
Back at home.....plant a few more rows and work on flower beds. I am starting to wish we had our own chipper so I can make non firewood worthy storm fall branches into landscaping mulch. As it is I think I will just rake up grass clippings. I have zinnia's to plant! WOO!

I think an all day outside is just what we need.

So that's what is on the menu. I got to thinking about something this week. Lots of people have been posting pictures of desserts or listing out meals with desserts. Now, I love me some sugar, but the problem with desserts is that I eat them. I eat all of them. No, I eat all of all of them. No one else here really cares for sweets except Blueberry and she will forgo dinner if she knows there will be dessert.  I eat less of the good stuff too. Gobble gobble like cookie monster. Ice cream would last longer melting on the counter than in my presence. I love me some sugar.

Solution: I don't plan for desserts. I don't make them. We might have a before bed snack but it is cheese or meat or fruit. Hardly dessert menu worthy. So when we have a special occasion, the dessert really is special. Cake is not a common occurrence here. I've only ever made brownies once in my entire life and have not made them again because I would EAT them all nom nom nom nom.

I wonder when dessert became such a huge part of American daily life. You know?

Just my thoughts for the day.....

Monday, 17 May 2010

Doctor and Birth Center

Resigned to a C-Section and really stressed out and tired of the treatment that I have received from my current provider (I love the midwife at the practice, but not some of the staff nor the labs they contract), I decided to search out other options. I mean, a 5th blood test scheduled, each test negating the worrisome result of the preceding but finding something possibly new and then I find out that non standard and inappropriate tests were run without my knowledge or consent. That kinda pissed me off. I only found out about it because they billed the wrong insurance company who denied the claim and sent me the denial form, with each test detailed out. Wrong. Neither insurance company, the labs, nor the doctor would tell me what the labs were for. There were 17. I finally pushed enough for someone to tell me and that was still just a guess. Grrrrrrr.

So I sat down and made a list of things I wanted this time around with my limited options.
1) I actually would like a vaginal birth. It is called a VBAC2. It is possible. The risk of uterine rupture is 1.36%, with a VBAC1 it is 1%. If the doctors tell me it is not possible, I am coming to terms with that. I feel healthier and stronger now than ever before in my entire life. If ever, the time would be now.
2) I would at the very least like a C/S at 40 weeks, not 38. Or better yet, a labour indicated C/S. That would mean I know for sure that the baby's lungs are ready, even if I can't deliver baby through the proper channels.
3) I want my Doula in the OR with me. Chad for the baby, CB with me. I get terrified and I need someone to hold my hand. I would never in a million years take Chad away from the baby, but I still need someone with me. CB was with me through the other two C/S.
4) For prenatal care, I need someone who understands my reluctance to be touched too much. I need a doctor I can trust not to treat me like cattle or another folder that they have maybe read.

So, I could go back to the group that delivered both my girls. I was ok with them, but something in my heart was reluctant. It is why I searched out the midwife I was with at the start of this pregnancy. They are excellent surgeons. They were even supportive of my VBAC attempt with Blueberry, but the support staff assigned to me in labour sucked. I didn't like her at all, but when I get admitted I get submissive. This time I needed more assurance.

It started with a phone call to the local health center. There are billboards all over town with advertisements for the new birth center wing. I asked few questions of the nurse, she asked questions to me as well and she scheduled a tour.

Wow. The place is nice. There is a courtyard for labouring women to walk around in. The labour suits each have a door to it. The nurse couldn't quite answer my questions, saying the doctor would have to answer them. The place is very family friendly, but also very small. It was not at all like the giant factory 30+ babies that the big hospitals have. They had one woman in labour. They were getting the nursery ready for her new baby. The nurses all smiled at us. One even started a conversation with Lil'Bug. Lovely! One nurse said her first baby was born while she was strapped to a bed with Pit plugged in and it was horrific, 30 years ago. She said no woman would ever suffer like that under her care.

Then we got to interview the doctor! He spent about 20 minutes with us, answering my questions and concerns, asking some of his own. He is very VBAC supportive. He asked what led to the C/S's before, and stated he would review my file if a VBAC2 is what I wanted. He said he'd done a successful VBAC3! He explained risk, which I knew. He said the only barrier is really the small facility, could only accommodate a VBAC during the week, day hours.

He said he never does planned C/S before 39 weeks. It's not good for the baby. He said I could have as many support people as I liked in the OR as long as there was not a need for them to leave.

He said pregnancy is not a disease! YAY! He also said that confidentiality is very important to them and what happened with my 1st blood test in Des Moines would not have happened under his care and lab. Yes. That. It is not the law, as I was told by the labs in DM and the doc there.

You know, the attitude of the facility is what really sold me. Respect for the women and their babies is really important. I have not made the decision to VBAC2, but it feels empowering to have options again. I canceled the 2nd ultrasound and 5th blood draw that the other doc scheduled. I'll get them done if this doctor says they are necessary.  Until then, I am feeling so much better. I actually feel like he will read my files and history before making decisions. It was a pretty easy decision for me once I got home and reviewed everything with Dearest.

Oh, and while we were there I got Dearest to get treatment and Tetanus shot for the nail hole in his foot. Yay!

So a frustrating start has a new beginning. The farther away from the big city I get, the happier I am. I just never thought that would apply to health care.


I watched this chicken eat no less than 7, possibly 8, mice while cleaning out the chicken house ( I mean while I was cleaning out the chicken house, she's not THAT awesome). This is also the chicken that lays the giant double yoked eggs some of you may have seen in the eggs you bought from MamaP. I've identified the breed (I think) as Dark Cornish.

My current plan is to transition our flock of layers into a mix of those and barred rocks. I need our chickens to be predictable, hardy, and nice with kids and these seem to fit the bill.

I'm raising 30 barred rocks as meat birds this year to see how it goes. I had decided to standardize on these two breeds before I realized that they are the breeds the mega-chickens are created from, which is some kind of interesting coincidence. I don't have anything specific against the crosses, though a lot of people seem to - but based on my reading they are just too fragile for me. Our chickens get a scoop or two of food a day between the 19 we have currently and are allowed to free range for the rest of the day. I like this laid back approach - I have a friend who let her crosses go a few weeks longer than expected and her chickens could hardly walk. No doubt proper feed management could be playing a role there, but I'd rather not worry so much about it. I'm willing to give up some efficiency to get a little extra hardiness out of the chickens we do raise.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Farm Working Weekend

Dearest stepped on a nail. Luckily the bone stopped it. Right. He kept working outside until the pain was unbearable and THEN came in, ate dinner, and went back out. Sigh. Now he is upstairs after I cleaned the wound and he has ice on it.

Tomorrow we are going to the local birth center to interview and tour the facility. Hopefully, since we will already be there, I can convince him to at least get a Tetanus shot. It is one of the few shots we vax the girls with, because of this exact risk out here. There are nails, old tin, rusty barbed wire. I am quite certain that even I have had the T shot updated since we moved here. Poor Dearest. Not much to do for him tonight but bring him Coke on ice and ice in bags and pillows and hugs.

This weekend we also got the chicken house cleaned out and more of the garden fence up and the pond picnic area and house yard mowed. By we, I mean Dearest. I stayed inside and worked on my class set up and cleaned and did laundry. It also seemed like I gave the girls at least 6 baths each in the last 24 hours and they NEEDED each and every one. It is mud season in southern Iowa!

Monday we will tour the birth center and then come home, eat lunch, and sort toys. We are keeping only sentimental, well constructed, and age appropriate toys and only 2 bins worth at that. We have 8 bins of mostly happy meal type toys that have been in storage and not even missed for a year. We will do it together though. I don't intend on tossing/donating my daughters' things without their consent and cooperation. It will be tougher than if I just did it behind their backs, but that's like stealing in my book. These are their belongings and it will be a good exercise in charity. I hope. It is a good rainy day project and we'll haul the stuff to DM on Thursday to donate to a charity garage/yard sale. I have more clothes to bring too.

Summer classes start Monday. I hope the class load is not too much. We'll see.

That's the update. I'm trying hard to get back into blogging and not on facebook. So I am doing my facebook updates by twitter and blogger and not getting sucked in to the reality there. Social media is good for the farm, but not good for my family relationships. I have changed a lot of settings there too. I'm still hooked in, just not as present. We'll see how long it lasts or if it helps ease the drama. At least I am trying. :) My effort will be on being present for my family and friends and working on our farm. And yes, that should have always been my focus, sadly I became too distracted.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Raincloud on a Sunshine Day!

 I realized yesterday when confronted with a variation of an old cliche that my attitude is what my problem is lately.

It is all about point of view, perspective.... For example, my family and I can be described as such:

Pig farmers in podunk Iowa.....
Natural food pioneers who are raising heritage breed pork, apples, and heirloom vegetables. know the kind that that morning tv show really slammed.
Interest led learners who pursue education in a nontraditional, yet legal, method.

Adjunct Professor at a local community college

Stay at home mom/housewife
Mother, household and farm manager, nutritionist (who happens to like bon bons.....perhaps to a fault)

A sassy, ill tempered child who gets really bossy with other kids.
A spirited child with lots ideas to communicate, her own opinion, a HUGE imagination, and who is a natural leader.

I could keep going but retyping some of the negative things that have been said about us lately is kind of draining.

We lead the lives we choose to live, make happiness where we are or choose to throw it off. It doesn't matter that I don't teach in the field of my Master's degree (historic preservation), nor that I didn't end up a field rep in Chicago, nor that I left my career behind to raise my beautiful children. I chose every one of those options.

I chose to battle infertility, examine the food we eat and pursue better options. I chose to look for a farm. I chose this life. Nothing about this makes me unhappy. Yet, I find myself really being negative with my sister and others lately. I could chuck it up to my frustration with the blood tests for the pregnancy... we are on #5 now, each one negating the results of the previous and finding something different. But seriously, it is all me. My attitude. My spin on things. I was in fact this cranky at 11 weeks during my last pregnancy least according to the blog archives. :)

So once again, I am trying to take these lemons and put a different spin on them, be grateful for what life has handed me and stop being so sour, so to say. I will be fighting the harsh words and spins on our reality as long as we continue to choose such an unconventional life...... I might as well make lemonade, kick back in the rocking chair, and breathe in the fresh country air. Keep living this amazing life and keep inviting people to share in our adventure.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Happy Happy ME!

That is what Blueberry gleefully exclaimed all day yesterday! It was great. We actually had a pretty good, though cold day. I got all the dishes done, made lunch, dinner, and 8 meat pies for Dearest to take to work, cost $8 to make, saved $56 in eating out for Dearest. Sweet.

Up today, wash beddings and clean fridge our really well. I need to purge the freezer and pantry of expired things as well. Clean bird cages and do chores in the cold rain. Next week= sunshine, right?

Lil'Bug hauled firewood, stating that it was an important farm chore. Which prompted a family discussion about what is important to the farm as far as chores go, and laundry and picking up after yourself, toys and clothes, are just as important chores as firewood or mowing. We all do our part. To which she ROLLED HER EYES. Oh no.

Today I am thinking about raspberries. We have some planted, but I really want a PATCH not a row. I think I will need an acre or so for my cultivated berries. Gooseberries, currant, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. I have lots of wild, but those fruits are small and hard to get to. We also have elderberries, lots of them. I am thinking I might bring those to "market" if anyone is interested. Thoughts?

The birds and bees and sweet smiling girls.....but no pictures.

Farm life is so incredibly busy in the Spring! Mother's Day we transplanted my excellent red raspberries from our Des Moines house (which is still for sale.....). I think we should transplant a few more, but we'll see. I started with 12 plants exactly six years ago and planted them at the Des Moines house while I was 4 months pregnant with Lil'Bug. This time Dearest planted them for me, but I was really feeling sick and not really "digging" being outside at all. Lil'Bug planted her 4-H sunflower and some petunias. She's got quite the flower garden going at one end of the garden. It is really quite lovely.

The girls played with their Christmas wagon outside for the first time. It had been the train to Hogwarts in the living room since Santa dropped it off for Aunt Deedle.

Blueberry and I planted herbs too, until she got stung by something. Her whole leg swelled up for a bit, but after a bit of ice and benedryl, I think it was actually an ant bite or something along those lines and not a sting. Poor kid did not take it well, the bite or the medicine. She fussed the rest of the day and cried herself to sleep in my arms around dinner time.

Dearest and I checked the weak hive together. They have not eaten any of the sugar water since Friday nor built out any more frames. Very lethargic ladies who were barely bothered at all when I opened them up and examined the frames. I am worried that something may have happened to their queen, but as long as there is activity of some sort my job is just to watch. I will call the head beekeeper at Blue Gate later this week and report on the findings.

The pigs are loving the pasture. LOVING. Feeding them there instead of the holding pen is quite a bit more work in some regards, but they are even more gentle and happy and so it is not quite the same close muddy quarters as it was before, even when it is pouring buckets like today.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day. * warning, not a happy post.

Mother's Day means cards and flowers and gifts with pretty bows for most people. But there are others who do not share the joy of this day. Children who's mothers beat and abused them through their precious and formative years, for who the whole idea of mother is wrapped up in grief and anger and fear.

There are women for who infertility is just becoming apparent, and with every monthly check of the pregnancy test they suffer, Mother's Day is just another marker on the yearning. (I was there 8 years ago....)

There are families who have lost all their children, for who mother's day reminds them of their loss.

There are mother's who's children have walked out and are somewhere out there, suffering in drugs or mental illness.

And there are others.

I fall into the first category, and for me Mother's Day, no matter how many smiles and hugs my kids lavish on me, is still filled with anger and memories of fear. It is easy to say move on, not as easy to do. The materialism and vanity of the holiday was the cornerstone of the abuse for me as a child, as it was the basis of it everyday, but Mother's Day, Christmas, and birthdays were an amplified terror. Even as an adult, I have trouble with family members believing me. No one would have thought (insert super villain or abusive schmuck of your choice here) was a bad guy until he/she confessed, most abusers have a similar cover story and identity. Some go as far as appearing on Oprah to advocate for gentle parenting (and upon returning home beat their daughter with a vanity mirror until it shatters on her skin and embeds glass shards deep in scar tissue). Crazy is as crazy does.

This Mother's Day is no different for me. I want it to be. I look at my hands and see that they are not hers, nor is my heart. I don't have to try to not turn into her, because I am not her.

I have reclaimed Christmas for my girls, learned to replace the hurt and fear of that holiday with the JOY of Christ's birth. Mother's Day is not about Jesus though, it is about cards and presents. My idea of reclaiming this holiday is to just harvest hugs, be loving, and cherish my children EVERY day. Today I celebrate all the women who stepped in to role model what a caring adult should act like, how a human being should care for others, and told me I was loved. Aunts, cousins, teachers, neighbors, professors, friends.....have all replaced and filled in the blank that was once filled with regret, longing, terror, and anger.

I am not my mother. This is not my Mother's Day.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Grampa Visits and We Move the Pigs!

This is the new fenced in pasture for the Berkshires. It has afternoon shade we didn't count on and lots of clover for them to play in. Soon the warm weather grasses will take off and they'll have even more to explore. This move means a lot farther for me to travel in the morning to do pig chores, but the pigs are, as Blueberry exclaimed, "HAPPY PIGGIES!"