Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Winter Fun

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Green Things I Don't Do

I had an insightful conversation the other day with a friend. The topic was shame really, about not being or doing things "green". This got me thinking that if we wrap ourselves up in the shame of not doing, or do certain things because of what others may think of us, then that is not maintainable. The action will not stick. Nor should we be ashamed of our progress, if we are not quite green homemaker of the year. You know? I make a lot of food from scratch and do a lot of intentionally good for the earth kind of things, so I think sometimes that might intimidate others? But I am not perfect, not a special green mama. So here is my confessional....not perfect indeed!

I don't hang out my laundry. I don't even have a clothes line. If I did, it would be a pain to walk heavy baskets of wet clothes form my second floor laundry room all the way outside. Then there is road dust, bird poop, and all sorts of other factors that just don't appeal to me. For this reason I have opted not to push the issue with my dearest.

I don't enjoy doing dishes by hand. I wish that I did, but I don't. I love <3 love my dishwasher.

I buy the good light bulbs that produce decent light. I hate florescent lights. Not to mention the toxicity of those florescent bulbs once they are done and off to the landfill and our watershed. I won't even pretend that people bother to take them to their stores to be recycled. It just does not happen.

I want to be a responsible person, but the reality of being "green" does not always fit every one's life. Maybe those things will come to me (likely not the light bulbs though) and years from now I will be happily hanging up wet undies with my dishpan hands, just like years ago when I thought I had to microwave food to make it safe to eat and now I don't and will never own one. I'm just not there yet.

It is because of this constantly changing mindset that I have come to understand more and judge less. I am not a lesser person or care less for the earth just because I have decided to opt for an HE dryer so conveniently placed in the room next to where all the clothes get shed and next to the other rooms they get put away. I do a lot more than most people because I can and have opportunity to. I have animals I am raising to eat in open air, I have a body of water in my care, I have children I am raising to care about these things too, and I have access to a life that those children can continue, inherit the earth in real terms.

What does matter is the actual, thoughtful living. I know that I should recycle soda cans even though there is no easy way to do so out here on the farm. I know that hanging laundry is a helpful task, and that doing dishes by hand can save water and money, I choose not to but I know the pros and cons in making that decision. That is different than just ignoring it, being ignorant of it, or just doing what is normal and easy. The choice needs to be mine and mine intrinsically.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Christmas Week in Review part 3...Christmas Day

Going to church for the Christmas Eve services. All dressed up.

My Blueberry Girl's hair, all princessed up. It was what she picked out. Totally tangle free, that was OUR holiday blessing. :)

She was quite proud of how lovely she looked. Quite loud about it too.

Santa brought them each a formal princess gown. Happiest. Girls. Ever.

Sweet, sweet childhood.

Baby Zap was just happy to be cuddled.

I love best how they share and help each other. I tell them being a princess is more about how kind and generous and grace giving one is than it is about the taffeta and lace.....

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Christmas Week in Review part 2...Our First Pasture Predation

We lost a ewe last week. We think it was to a coyote, but then a couple days later 4-5 sheep were injured all at once. The first 4 we found right away and brought them to the house, the 5th  the next day and we are not sure if it was one we missed or if the predator came back.

We learned a lot in that 24 hours.

1) Our first aid kit was insufficient.
2) It is better to keep all vetrenary supplies in one place not in various places.
3) Sheep are amazingly resilient if you can get them out of the initial shock.

and 4): Lil'Bug. Is. Amazing.

The night was a normal mundane night, I sent the girls to bed, tucked them in, and was nursing Baby Zap. Chad went out for chores.

Suddenly he is kicking open the back door and yelling for towels. In his arms, Paddington a brown wether, who was bleeding profusely from his neck.

Lil'Bug jumped out of bed, put on her jeans and boots and appeared in the kitchen, "What can I do mom?"

She held a dishtowl to Paddington's neck wound while I searched for more towels and thought about what to do.

I emailed Lorraine at Hedgeapple Farms. I couldn't find her number anywhere. I thought and thought (quickly).....then I called Lois at Reicharts Dairy Air. She has goats, but in my mind goats and sheep are similar so I called. At 8pm. Lucky for me she was home. She walked me through what supplies I had on hand, dispensed advice, and as I repeated it out loud, Lil'Bug paid rapt attention.

Chad brought the other lambs in one by one, driving each one up from the pasture in the front seat of his car. He was really upset. These lambs were in the pasture with our llama and a full grown wether and should have been protected from coyotes and coyotes don't usually prey in the late afternoon.

As I explained to him that Lois had first aid supplies we needed, he decided to wait for the vet. Confused, I asked him why he thought waiting was a good idea? He didn't think driving 5 hours was a good use of time. Ah, I reminded him I was talking to Lois, not Lorraine. Lois lives 25 miles to the north of us (in farm terms, just up the road). So he decided to go after all.

I was exhausted, the baby strapped to my chest in his Moby wrap, which was getting sopped with pasture mud and blood.

Lil'Bug on the other hand, very much awake, hopped up and started mixing up some honey water. She had heard discussion about trying to get the sheep to drink and decided it would be her job to get them to drink the sweet water. The sheep would not lap it, so she asked for a bottle. Despite having a newborn, we do not have bottles. So I suggested the syringe that we use to squirt water in her ears. She gathered it up and started squirting the fluid into the lambs mouths, gently lifting their heads to her lap one by one.

Each lamb was bleeding and Lil'Bug was covered in blood. Not that she noticed or cared as she tended to them. Winston (lamb wether) and Mary (lamb ewe) were examined. Mary's foot was torn up, possibly broken. Winston had puncture wounds, possibly a neck sprain too. Marshmallow also had neck wounds.

I set the kitchen up so the sheep could not get to the other rooms and moved this and that to make them more comfortable. Chad came home and bandaged and cleaned and gave medicine and Lil and I went to bed.

In the morning, we woke up to Marshmallow (ewe) throwing open the box of hats and gloves by the back door and unloading the contents. We knew she was getting better is she was bored. Ha!

Lil resumed feeding them sweet water and I spent the day cleaning up sheep poo in my kitchen only to have it quickly replaced.

Chad spent the day at home, assessing the pasture, taking Paddington to the vet, and doing first aid on the wounded.

I felt pretty helpless,  Baby Zap limiting the amount of help I could be. Lil'Bug really shined though. She's only newly six and had more patience, calm, and clear thinking (more than most adults I know) in a crisis than I think anyone would expect of a child. Yet, here she was, self motivated and directed in a time of need. Not present in her was the girl with a short temper or the child who gets jealous of her sister's toys or of the baby's attention. Here was a responsible, caring, level headed girl doing what needed to be done.

Chad was deflated. Our confidence in sheparding was shaken and these little lambs were the victims of the horrible proof of our inexperience. In our minds it was not the ferral dog that was to blame, nor his teeth, but our own mistakes.

The result: we bought 2 additional llamas. We moved all the sheep together. We buffed up the fences. We bought a bigger...item that takes care of coyotes. We built up our first aid supplies. We learned. None of that makes our pasture predator proof, but maybe just a little less like a giant coyote dinner buffet?

As of the writing of this post, Marshmallow is back in the pasture and the other lambs are on the mend, soon to join the others. Paddington's neck wound is healing and he is finally eating and drinking on his own. Mary (ewe) and Winston are almost ready to go back out too.

And my kitchen floor is clean. CLEAN. It took quite a bit of effort, mind you. I am definitely designing a vet stall into the new kitchen design AND we really need to push up getting a barn. In the meantime, we have some ideas.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Christmas Week in Review part 1...Christmas Eve Day

Our tree, the girls and Chad picked it out, brought it home, and decorated it.  Lily thought it was funny that when they went to pick out the live tree, because someone forgot their coat, they just bought a pre-cut one?).

Early that day, Nala (Lily's kitten) made her way into the walls.

This is how she got in.

Just big enough for a hand to reach in and grab a cat head. She was pretty sick when we got her out, but she's on the mend.

This is what it looked like AFTER the cat was extracted. Wow. All the years of house construnction and deconstruction and demolition all culminated in THIS. And all of this was in the middle of cleaning for Christmas company. Seriously.