To Bee or Not To Bee

Apiculture: Raising bees for the purpose of gathering honey and/or pollinating plants; put simply: beekeeping. I did not know what the big fancy five buck word for beekeeping was until I started to write this, but I knew that such a word would exist. It is the way we are. We need a big word, preferably in a dead language, before we feel like something we are doing is important.

Two weeks ago, we went over south of Chillicothe, Missouri, to Crooked Hill Beekeeping to talk to Bill about starting our bees in mid April to early May. I know that is two months away and yes, I already feel rushed.

First, what I actually know about beekeeping could be written on the back of a match book, with a dull carpenter’s pencil. I know essentially three things, none of which are very helpful at this time.

1. Grandpa raised bees in his apple trees. The honey was marvelous and the man, well if he raised bees the whole world should.
2. As a boy I was entranced and amazed by the bees, their rituals, patterns and practices, as well as the art of caring for them and harvesting honey. I recall spending time behind the bee hives, quietly, with my ear up against the back of the hives, listening to the constant hum as the bees worked and kept the hive cool.
3. Bees are not a luxury in our environment; they are a necessity. Probably much more of a necessity than you and I.

Let’s get down to some of the practical parts of what Connie and I have done in order to become bee-keepers. The first and best thing we did was make connections. We found out, quite by accident, that a new Beekeeping Club was forming in Braymer and we have attended two meetings so far.

It is an eclectic group, consisting of everything from professionals through homesteaders to Mennonites. By the way, those guys have the coolest hats. The first meeting we attended was in October, and was largely organizational. Because of the holidays, we did not do another meeting until the end of January, where we got a presentation on preparing the hives for spring.

The information is important of course, but the connections with other people who are doing what we propose to do, is equally important. Both give you a chance to pick people’s brains, learn what worked for them and what didn’t, and to hear the jargon of beekeeping.

The difference between a Super and a Deep are simple things, but are the beginning of a confusion that just grows as words with which you are perfectly familiar, come out of people’s mouths in orders and contexts that make absolutely no sense. The February presentation of our yet un-named beekeeping club is going to be about the jargon of beekeeping. I am looking forward it with great interest.

The next part, in my opinion, would be the same whether your interest is beekeeping or Alligator wrestling. If you are going to learn from somebody, learn from somebody who really knows; and if you are going to do business with somebody, do business with somebody you can trust.

The Good Lord, being certain I need all the help I can get, led me to Bill and his wife Tammy at Crooked Hill Beekeeping. Here, I will admit a bias. Both Bill and I are retired military, and Bill is also a Law Enforcement Officer, which I was for a number of years. So we start out with a lot of shared interest and attitudes. As we have mentioned, Connie is also a military veteran so, again, that established a level of trust going in. Also both Bill and his wife are sensitive to the fact we are starting a little downhill from the bottom so, while we are not idiots, it is best not to take any chances.

After talking to Bill for a couple hours, one hour on bees and one hour of old soldier war stories, Connie and I made arrangements to buy two hives of bees complete. This included:

Two Nucs of Russian Bees. You can buy bees in packages, which are just the bees, or Nucs which are an already established hive with five frames (what the bees make honey and put their eggs in). We decided to go with the Nucs to start with, so that we have a greater chance of an initial success.

Two full hives unassembled. I bought them unassembled not just because they were a tad cheaper, though they were. I bought them that way so I can see how they go together so that in the future I can possibly build my own if that seems more economical. A full hive consists of:

1. A bottom board with a reducer
2. Two deeps (the place where the bees live, breed and make their honey to be stored for winter)
3. 20 Deep frames and foundation (What the bees make comb and brood on)
4. A super (the smaller box you put on top where, hopefully, the bees will make your honey)
5. 10 Medium frames and foundation (For your supers where you will someday find your honey if all goes well).
6. An inner cover, which controls air flow
7. An outer telescoping cover, which is the top of your hive.

If you are like me you need a picture:

langstrothHiveIllus

A diagram of a bee hive found in the Old Farmer’s Almanac

Beyond all this we bought some other items necessary to assemble these products into bee hives and a copy of a book (books are good, I like them in paper with pages, I can write on and bend over) called First Lessons in Beekeeping by Keith S. Delaplane. I picked the book up in his shop and Bill told me that this was the book he started with. That was a good enough endorsement for me.

After I have assembled my two hives and before the Nucs arrive, I will make another visit to buy a bee suit, smoker and other equipment along those lines. I am waiting, so I will be sure of what I need.

Now I have to assemble, paint, and set up two hives, before I have two already established bee colonies arriving for me to tend to. The cats have a hard enough time with dogs in the house; I doubt that they or Connie are going to be pleased if I try to raise bees in my den. No pressure.

As I do the work in my own bumbling way, I will get Connie to make pictures and we will post them for your edification and amusement.

God Bless,

Ed

Advertisements

She’s Comin’ Alive

The title to this post is a quote from a book called Education of Little Tree written by Forest Carter. It is a book about a little boy who was raised by his Grandfather and Grandmother in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee. Grandma was a Cherokee and Grandpa was a moonshiner.

I am from the Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains and, was partially raised by Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa was the one who was half Cherokee and was also a moonshiner, though retired by the time I came along. Can you see why this wonderful little book is a favorite of mine?

In the book, Grandpa takes Little Tree up the mountain to watch the dawn and, as the sun peaks across the distant mountains to the east leaving paintbrush streaks of pinks and yellows, Grandpa whispers, “She’s comin’ alive.”

What a wonderful description of a dawn. I have always been a fan of dawns, the end of rainstorms and the winter solstice. Those times when you can see, taste and smell rebirth. You ask why I add the winter solstice. From that day on until summer solstice days are getting longer, light is conquering and rebirth has begun. From the time I realized that in the middle of December’s snow the day that the world turns back to the light dawns I have always been amazed by it.

But I have digressed far enough; I wanted to write about what I do in the morning. I learned a long time ago that how you start is how you finish. So I have tried to design a way where I start my morning well. I suggest to you that people need a set time at which they rise and a routine which they follow in the morning. As Mr. Emerson tells us, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” However, an inconsistent morning routine generally leads me back to bed.

Done right my morning goes something like this:

At a time between six and seven in the morning (my goal is seven hours sleep) I rise. Normally I beat the alarm clock awake by five to ten minutes. On the morning I do not beat the alarm clock awake, I beat it against the end table. I never said it was all sweetness and light.

After a certain amount of absolutions, the first goal is coffee. Oh, you are against the ingestion of caffeine? How interesting; go away. Many years ago grandma would give me coffee; actually it was brown tinted sugary milk. Grandpa saw me drinking it and grumbled, “Man who drinks cream in his coffee has got lace on his pants.” That was that. I like my coffee blacker than my sins and stronger than my convictions.

Once I have some coffee I go to my desk if, of course, I can find it under the pile of papers. Once I have located my calendar and journal I check what I did for devotions yesterday, and plan my devotions for today. I start each morning with a chapter in the Bible, a round with my memory verses and a prayer.

Let me rephrase that, I TRY to start each morning that way. Sometimes Life gets in the way. The priority in those cases is prayer first, Bible chapter second and memorization third. Some days it gets down to GOD IN HEAVEN HELP ME!!! But that is still a prayer isn’t it?

After prayers I do my exercises. I am at that awkward age where I am old enough that polite young people offer to lift and carry for me, but I am still young enough to want to tell them to stick it. Actually thinking about it, all my ages have been awkward ages.

Be that as it may, I can really say that I do the same daily dozen I did when I was in Basic Training. The Daily Dozen is twelve different exercises with twelve four count repetitions. When I say that, it is the truth. What I do not mention is I do them a LOT slower, and the getting down and standing up is sometimes problematic.

I do the Daily Dozen every other day and on the off day I do basic stretches. This includes static stretches and some active stretches, along with some work from my martial arts and defensive tactics days.

On either day I tend to creak and pop a lot. Sometimes this does not work quite right, or that seems to have a kink in it, but I drive on completely convinced that pain really is the feeling of weakness leaving the body. It’s not flashy and it is not really cool, but I attribute some of my greatest accomplishments to my exercise program. For instance, walking up right and being able to scratch my head.

After two cups of coffee, two glasses of water, my devotions, and my exercises, I start on my chores, the first of which is waking up my chore partners. Connie’s day normally starts with me coming to her bedside with a cup of steaming coffee, at which time she smiles up at me. I sometimes suspect she is smiling at the coffee but why bicker?

After some passing affection, (you don’t think that coffee is free, do you?) I go wake up Chicken Girl. That is what I call her in the morning because her main morning chore is seeing to the chickens. She really is quite good at it, but I wonder how long that will last when two pet roosters turn into twenty assorted chickens, and Sonny and Moony turn into “that one and that other one over there”. We will see.

Back in the house, Connie and I prepare for the dog feeding. This includes dry food we get from a local producer, sometimes wet food, when medicine is involved, scraps (right now I have two chicken livers left that I made for dinner which are going to make a couple very happy dogs) and water.

When the weather is good, and the spirit is right, next comes a walk with Connie and the dogs around the place. This is always fun, and I was thinking this morning we are overdue one. The last couple morning I really felt like a romp with them and, had it not been for snow and a wind that would cut diamonds, I just might have done it.

Back inside we get our own breakfast together and then proceed with the rest of the day.

The point to all this is not that it is best to start your day my way; it is that a realistic routine that gets you up on your feet in the morning is good for everybody. After you have your day started, then you have to face the rest of the day. The best advice I ever found for that comes from the great Mark Twain. It is as follows: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

By the way, Connie and I have looked at this bundle of books, Back to Basics Living Bundle. I have looked through some of it and plan to give a lot of it, the Bee Keeping for instance, a thorough going over.

Take Care and God Bless

Ed

2550x748Bundles-Are-Like

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope your first day of 2016 got off to a glorious start! It is a cool 35 degrees here on the homestead, but the sun is shining!

It’s the day that so many of us start those famous (or infamous) New Year’s Resolutions to get healthy, lose weight, pray more, exercise more, spend more time with the family, and the list goes on.

No, this is not going to be a post about resolutions. Several of my blogger friends have written some good ones though like this one from Marie.

Ed and I are planning a “homestead meeting” for tomorrow morning before he and James go to work. We want to look at what we accomplished this year: the successes, the failures, and the reasons for both. We’ll share some of that with you next week. One thing that both us already know that we need to do is catch up on reading posts of our fellow bloggers!

As Ed told you Tuesday, the roosters don’t like the cold weather, and as of this morning, they still have not left the coop. Meeko and Libby are back to sharing the big straw-filled dog house. One day, the conditions will be right, and I will get video of Libby rearranging new straw. She’s like a kid at Christmas!

I went back to visit the kidney doctor yesterday, and testing revealed that I need to drink more water. He didn’t say one thing about cutting down on the coffee! Drink more water: I can live with that.

Last night, I was sitting here at my desk, and Loki brought me one of his favorite toys; an old squeaky ball. I took it from him to throw it and realized he had only given me half of it! The other half was in pieces all over the floor, and the Lord only knows where the squeaker is. I just hope he didn’t swallow it! It’s probably a good thing that he got a Kong dog toy for Christmas.

IMG_1484

Ummm….

Ed worked last night, but got home about 10:30. We stayed up to bring in the new year with Kat and drink our traditional glass of sparkling grape juice, but went to bed about 12:10. Yeah, we’re night owl party animals for sure!

I don’t remember if I ever told you, but I did get the onions planted before it got cold. The frame part of the cold frame is finished, but I don’t know if it is actually insulated enough to grown anything. I need to do a little more research. Does anyone know about testing soil temperatures?

I dug out a couple of rag rug projects and told myself that I will finish at least one of them this weekend. I already put all the Christmas decorations away, but I still need to get the house into some semblance of order.

Kat and I start back to school on Tuesday. I would have started Monday, but Ed is off that day, and we have errands to run. For school purposes,we will treat Monday like Saturday and have school on Saturday instead. I’ll let you know how that works.

Connie

P.S.
I have some exciting news coming, so be sure to check back with us next week, and I’ll fill you in!

Just Plain Chicken Sense

fishychicken

I picked this up from Facebook. It might be a slight exaggeration but it has been kinda wet this year.

On this day last week, I was driving in fence post and wiring up a fence while wearing a tee shirt, blue jeans, boots and the ever present hat. Actually I was kind of warm. A week later, if I want to walk from the house to the garage I have to dress like Nanook of the North. Such is life in Missouri  Winter, having arrived a tad late, is perfectly willing to catch up.

Cold weather does not, however, relieve us of our responsibility to provide for and care for the animals. So it was Katherine to our bachelor chicken pad. (For those not up on the news we have two roosters and no hens; a situation I plan to rectify shortly) while her mother and I prepared to feed and water the dogs.

The cats, as always, set their own course. Captain decided to go out on one of her walkabouts, but she did not get past the door mat before she was back in. Book Worm got off Connie’s desk long enough to look out the window in awe and wonder. Bookie is at, or approaching, five years old. Every winter she sees snow and then looks at us as if to say, “See what you did?” Adora, AKA Arrhythmia, continued walking post up and down the basement steps and pleading in a loud voice to get in or out as the moment required.

 

IMG_1452

This is a picture of Book Worm taken before our messing up everything by making it snow again. She thought we had learned from last year.

The dogs, including the stumpy grand-dog, were absolutely delighted with the whole thing. Dogs are among the Good Lord’s most amusing and most easily amused creatures. They wake up in the morning, find freezing white stuff on the ground, and begin to run around frantically kicking up clouds of snow.

IMG_1477

This is Meeko and Libby. If you notice, Meeko is favoring that left leg, but he shows no pain when you manipulate it, so I think it is habit. They want us to come play in the snow. I want to go get a cup of coffee.

I am an Appalachian boy raised in a wood heated cabin with no running water and an outdoor toilet. Forgive me if I never quite got the romance of snow. You go walking in a Winter Wonderland. I will sit in my comfortable chair and read To Build a Fire by Jack London.

Our Chickens are Icelandic Chickens. They are supposed to be good layers; something I will not be able to prove until I get some girl chickens. However, I do believe that a chicken bred to survive in Iceland could survive Missouri with a little bit of help. Since there were only two of them, I built the initial coop very small, and wired a light in it to add heat. I was curious to see what survival instincts the chickens brought to the winter by themselves.

Katherine went out, spread cracked corn on the ground, opened the coop door and put the ramp in so that they could come out. No chickens. Oh they were in there, you could hear them clucking contentedly and crowing occasionally but they were NOT coming out. Our dogs and two neighbor dogs on walkabout were dancing in the snow, all about my feathered Icelandic stalwarts.

IMG_1480

This is all you get to see of Icelandic chickens during a snow storm. Note the small water dish at the bottom of the picture.

IMG_1482

If you look carefully you can see the silhouettes of warm cozy chickens and the heat light there to the left.

Birds were chirping and merrily eating the chicken feed in great numbers. Cats were observing from windows and considering trips outside themselves. Last but not least, idiot people were coming out to look and see if the chickens were going to grace us with a visit, but the two Icelandic roosters were snow no-shows thank you very much.

IMG_1479

Most times we look out and the chicken lot is full of birds because the big ole roosters are inside napping today. However Connie ran them off approaching to take pictures except this one young stalwart.

That was yesterday morning and today. Led by Moony, the youngest, they did venture out for a nice scratch snack. Then Moony flew out of the chicken lot just because he could. A little truth about Icelandic Chickens: besides being smart enough to stay in out of the cold, they can fly really well. At this writing however, they are back in there little coop huddled up to their warming light.

There is the answer to what special gift our Gracious Lord has given Icelandic Chickens to survive in harsh climates. He has given them enough sense to stay out of the cold. A blessing he has not bestowed on all humans, it appears.

In closing, an update on Meeko, our gimpy black Lab. The sling is off of him, and though he is still favoring that left leg, he is out with Libby and doing well. This is not the first dog I have ever seen who, after having a leg bandaged, limps more out of habit than anything else. He has started to put the foot down some. If he does not get it, soon I will wrap his other foot. That is a trick my Grandpa taught me while dealing with his hunting pack.

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and we wish you a Happy New Year.

Ed

Now We Know

It’s Missouri: if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. It will change.

Take today, for example. This morning when I got up, the temperature was in the upper 50’s and there was some evidence that it had rained during the night. By 11:00, it was in the 60’s. We were all outside in jeans and t shirts. Ed worked on the fence, and thinks he has it ready for Meeko’s return next week. It was a truly beautiful morning, and a rare treat for December.

By the time Ed and James left for work about 1:30, the wind had picked up and the temperature was starting to drop. By 5:00 it was 38 degrees with a “feels like” temperature of 28. The wind has died down somewhat now, so it doesn’t feel quite so cold, but 37 is still quite a shock after 60.

Meeko is definitely feeling better. He has a lot more energy than he did a week ago. You wouldn’t believe how quick he is on three legs. He and Loki are playing a little, but Meeko still loses patience with him.

Now for an update on the chicken front. Since we got our five baby chicks last summer, and three of them met an untimely demise, we have wondered whether the two remaining chicks were male or female. Of course, we were hoping for one of each.

Since he is older, Sunrise let us know quite a while ago that he is a rooster. If his magnificent comb wasn’t a dead give away, the crowing that started about a month ago clinched it. You know, roosters don’t start out with a full blown crow. It was pitiful really, but now he has found his voice even if he doesn’t have any sense of time. Who said that roosters only crow in the morning anyway?

So, we were hoping that Moonrise was a hen, but as she got older I began to have my doubts. We looked at pictures of Icelandic hens to compare them with Moonrise, and while the hens do have a top knot of sorts, I didn’t see any with what was beginning to look like a comb, even if it is a funky looking one.

In the meanwhile, Sunrise had begun to chase Moonrise around the pen. Ed thought he was feeling amorous, and Moonrise just wasn’t having any of it.

The other morning, Ed and I went out to get Libby. Ed went to the garage to get some dog food and had just stepped back into the doorway when we both heard it. Two crows! Our eyes met and we both said “They’re both roosters!”

IMG_1436

Moonrise the rooster

So, no, I don’t think Sunrise was feeling amorous at all; I think he was telling the younger rooster who’s boss. I don’t think Moonrise is having any of that either. Since we told Kat early on that these first chickens were hers, Ed told her that we could either trade one of them for some hens, or separate them and get hens for both of them. Of course, she chose the latter option. I don’t know how well that is going to work. It will however, mean more fence building for Ed.

Christmas really sneaked up on me this year, but it’s all good. We got the house decorated. I talked Ed into letting me get a fake tree. Since the dogs are in the house, the cats have been camping out in Kat’s room; so the tree has fared pretty well.

IMG_1428

Isn’t it pretty?

Bookworm has decided that she is Queen Cat of the Christmas village though.

IMG_1452

Queen Bookworm

Kat and I made candy and cookies and she and I went to Independence for a gathering of my great grandmother’s family Saturday night. On Sunday evening, we all attended the Christmas program at our church. I love watching the little kids. You never know what they are going to do! It was kind of nice to just be able to sit back and enjoy it.

Christmas Eve is always low key. Since Ed and James are both off, we will have family game night, and end the evening with the reading the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. It’s a tradition I started when my kids were small, because I wanted them to always remember what Christmas is really all about. It’s about Jesus.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2: 1-19

Ed and I want to wish every one of you a blessed Christmas.

Connie

My Side of the Fence

Well, of the fence story anyway.

On a group Facebook page, I began a lengthy post by saying,
“Nothing like those incidents and accidents that show you where your gaps are “.

It’s true. Although I have slowly and surely learned about different herbs and their healing properties, I found myself seriously lacking in knowledge and skill when dealing with animal emergencies.

The weekend before Meeko went over the fence, I came home from dropping Kat off at church for a youth meeting, to find Loki bleeding. When I brought him into the house, I saw that the tip of his ear had been ripped in half. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I knew I had to get that bleeding stopped.

My first thought was yarrow. Its the absolute best for stopping bleeding…when the bleeder is relatively still. It doesn’t work nearly as well on a 30 lb ball of fire that is slinging his head away from me every time I try to touch it. I finally got enough plastered on to at least slow down the flow.

Because I didn’t want to leave him in the house alone, I took Loki with me when I went to get Katherine, praying the whole time that he didn’t start bleeding again in the car.

When Katherine got in, I explained the situation and warned her that the kitchen looked like a crime scene because there was blood everywhere! Once we got back in the house, the bleeding started again, and thus began the two hour ordeal of trying several different methods to stop the bleeding and bandage the ear. Finally, Kat got in the tub, wrapped herself around Loki, and held his head while I wrapped gauze covered antibiotic ointment around his ear, folded his ear over the top of his head, and wrapped his whole head in a self sticking bandage.

IMG_1392

Bandage number one

That worked until the next day. Round three involved James holding him in the tub, Kat holding his head, and me applying various things to his ear, until in utter frustration, I covered the tear once more in antibiotic covered gauze and wrapped his ear in duct tape! That held for three days. His ear isn’t pretty, but it seems to be healing.

IMG_1466

Unless you look closely, you really can’t even tell those marks aren’t just dirt or something.

IMG_1467

This side is a different story, but it still looks much better than it did two weeks ago.

It was during those three days that Ed and James worked on the fence and we began to play, “Where did they get out?” with the big dogs. On Thursday, it was already nearly dark when they got out. Ed and James were both working, and I couldn’t tell where they breached the fence. I couldn’t just put them back out there, so I had no choice but to bring them into the house for the night.

So, I had a 72 lb lab mix, a 62 lb lab mix, and 30 lb dachshund/husky mix and three cats in my house. Let the circus begin! Libby decided rather quickly that she did not like Loki jumping at her and trying to lick her face. Her lessons are short and to the point. He still doesn’t bother her much.

Anyway, the next morning, we thought we had found where they got out and made a temporary fix. Katherine and I headed for Independence for a day of girl time and Christmas shopping. As Ed told you, he picked up more fencing posts before he went to work.

When we got home, it was dark. I told Katherine to put the chickens up, and then we would unload the car. I wanted to go check on the big dogs. Since my car lights didn’t catch two pairs of eyes at the corner of the fence, I wanted to make sure they were still inside. In the dark, I could make out Libby’s form, but I didn’t see Meeko. I called for him, but he didn’t come. I shouted to Katherine that he was out and we would need to go look for him.

She was still with the chickens but called back to me that she thought she could see him along the back fence. She got to him first, and told me he was hurt. He was just outside the fence, near the big log.

IMG_1429

A daytime shot of the big log from inside the fence. This is where we think he went over.

He was whining, and carrying his left foot off the ground. Using the lights from our cell phones, we tried to see what was wrong. I couldn’t find any blood, but he was obviously hurt. I thought it was probably too far to try and get him to the house, but I thought I might be able to get him back in with Libby. I took hold of his collar and we very slowly went around to the gate. I pulled a dog house and the food and water bowl where he could reach it, and went back to the house to get my head lamp. More light really didn’t tell me much, but I was afraid he had broken something and was seriously hurt.

Over the next few hours, I talked to Ed a few times and went back out to check on Meeko a few times too. In between, I was combing the internet, looking for something I had that I could give to him for pain. I didn’t have much luck. Maybe I just wasn’t asking the right question.

Ed told you the rest of the story. We have now finished the first week with him in the house, and to be honest, he has done pretty well. He is a sweet natured dog, and he just wants to be with us. Like Ed said, getting hit with that cone is an experience, especially from behind! I think he and Loki have come to somewhat of an understanding. Loki can lick Meeko’s face until Meeko growls and then the game is over.

IMG_1472

I just need to lick this one spot…

After I shared the experience on Facebook, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information, advice, sympathy and empathy I received from the homesteading community. That is one thing I love about homesteaders and similarly minded people. Everyone is willing to help and share information.

So what did I learn in all that? I learned that I don’t know nearly enough about animal care. I learned that you can give dogs Benadryl for sedation (1 mg per lb of dog weight). I seriously wish I had known that when I was working on Loki’s ear. I have learned some wormers and other vaccinations are available at feed stores. When I was a kid, my mom raised collies and we always gave all our own shots. I thought that was no longer available, but I’m going to look into it.

I learned that raw honey on a wound has healing properties, and that flour will stop bleeding too. I learned that I need to get a copy of the Merck Veterinary Manual. It’s pricey, so it will have to go on my wish list.

Remember in Old Yeller when Mama sewed Yeller up after the hogs got him? I’m thinking I need to learn how to do that too.

For most of my life I dealt with veterinarians that took payment arrangements because the important thing was taking care of the animal. I’ve learned that is no longer the case, so I need to be able to drop several hundred dollars at a moment’s notice or learn to do some things my self. I learned that I am not the only one feeling that frustration. I just don’t know what we can do about it.

Connie

Don’t Fence Me In

No matter your good intentions, with no regard to the detailed nature of your planning, in spite of the skill and care with which you execute said plan and in the face of all of your hopes and dreams, you did not consider one possibility. That one possibility will occur and leave you dumbfounded.

Ed’s version of the Law of Unintended Consequences

IMG_1445

This is the point of Meeko’s attack. I estimate this fence is probably, oh, about my age. That corner post is rotted and it all needs to be replaced.

So here was the problem. When I fenced in Libby and Tweedle Dumber (AKA Meeko), I used three sides of the already standing fence. The north side is the oldest fence on the place, but at the time, seemed adequate with the addition of two electric fence wires.

The first unintended consequence was when Meeko, who sometimes seems to channel Houdini, figured out that electricity wasn’t so bad after all, especially when you manage to short out the box by shoving the electric wire into the metal fencing. Did I say Houdini? Let’s make that Einstein.

IMG_1444

A little wider view, to accomplish what I need to I am going to have take out all of the fence from the Corner post to another corner post about 105 feet west of this.

That was still manageable until Meeko pushed on the old fence to where he could simply climb over what once was a four foot fence and a strand of barbed wire. Yes, I suppose it did hurt. At least once he left about an inch and half long cut on a very sensitive part of his lower anatomy. (All males please murmur OUCH!)

So the problem was that the old fence along the north side needed to be replaced, which is going to take some time. I am going to have to cut several small and one very large tree out of the fence line for starters. Answer? I, along with James, put up a four foot fence about twenty feet back from the old one. So that is a hundred feet of four foot field fencing, ten poles and a bag of wire links to attach fence to poles, at a total cost of about a hundred and fifty bucks.

Oddly enough, a hundred feet came up short. Why was that? A hundred worked the first time and it was within a foot or so the same length. Had I been cheated? No. I had not considered the fifteen foot gate installed in the south fence. That problem was solved, I thought, by cutting the standing East fence in the part I planned to replace anyway and stretching it back to attach to the new fence.

IMG_1440

This was my answer, I cut off about a third of their run and put up a four foot high fence. From this angle you cannot appreciate three days worth of adjustments to the original.

The next morning Connie stepped outside to be met by both dogs. Libby is the under-dog: she goes under. Meeko prefers the high flying route, though he will follow Libby under in a pinch. This time they both excelled. Libby dug out at a low point and Meeko just mashed the old fence down and climbed over. This I rectified with an old piece of fencing that we had brought from the old house.

Yes Connie, you were right, we did need it and we really should have brought it with us.

IMG_1431

This is the completion of step one. With poles stapled in and all egress under the wire stopped. At least there.

That started the same routine as always. They got out and I fixed the problem. Then they moved on and found a new one. At first it was all pushing and scraping under the fence. The first time I found only Meeko out I knew I had fixed the underside. Somehow he had gone over. I looked the fence line and found what I considered to be the problem.

IMG_1442

If you look up past my fixes you will see a dark log, I suspect this is where he tried to go over the fence and got hurt.

The next day, I had business in Cameron and made a stop at the farm store to buy four more fence posts. It was a simple enough problem to solve. I would just put in more fence posts. I tossed the post off the truck and went to work. I would do it on Saturday before I was, again, off to work.

That night I got a text message from Kat that said, “Meeko is hurt bad.” I called home, it appeared the old boy had hurt his back left leg. It was not my best night at work. Connie had coaxed and helped him into the lot with Libby and set up a temporary dog house for him. The next time Connie checked Meeko was half way across the lot, the time after that he was at “their” dog house with Libby.

When I got home it was after eleven PM, I got Connie and we went out to the dog house. He was lying there and his whining on seeing me was absolutely pitiful. When I sat down on the ground beside him Meeko placed his front paw in my hand and looked at me like to break your heart. It was as if he was certain I could fix it. Thankfully, that trusting soul did not know how many times in my life I have not been able to fix several different “its”.

We think that Meeko climbed the fence and got his foot stuck in one of the  4 x 2 inch blocks then fell forward over the fence. The result was, we found out the next day, a dislocated left hip.

IMG_1423

At that point all we could really do was console him. In the morning we tried our new Vet’s home and cell and he was not available. As I understand it now he probably was out of state and it was Saturday. Connie called our old vet in Independence and we took Meeko on a seventy mile road trip so he could be seen.

The vet examined him, and thought the problem was likely a dislocated hip, but they would have to sedate and x-ray him to be certain. That meant two nights at the vet’s office. They reset his hip and placed it in a sling. As an alumni of several different orthopedic torture devises myself, this one looks particularly uncomfortable.

I was concerned with how, exactly, we would keep him from chewing off his sling before the necessary two weeks wearing the contraption. When I saw him I realized that the problem was easily solved. Someone appeared to have shoved a lampshade on his poor head, backwards. It works, and it makes a nifty device with which to knee cap Master and Mistress, not to mention sticking it in the girl’s face as she is riding home with you in the back seat of the car.

That was last Saturday. Five days have passed with daily visitations with Libby, trips outside to do his business. Business that is hindered by the fact Meeko habitually lifts his right leg to pee, and he has no operable left leg to hold himself. As an old man who has a bum left shoulder which hurts when he puts his jacket on left arm first, but still puts his jacket on left arm first because “that’s the way I do it”, I sympathize with his plight, but cannot help much.

IMG_1424

True love cannot be thwarted. I suspect Libby really only came for the warm house and the goodies.

 

All told though, Meeko is not having too hard a time. It is mildly interesting that they gave him the same pain medication which the doctor prescribes for my intermittent pains. I am still pondering what, if anything, that says about me. Looking on the bright side I will have at least another week and half to get that COTTON PICKING fence fixed.

When you visit with the Lord, if you remember, lift Meeko up to Him. The vet has said that if this doesn’t work, he will need major surgery to put pins in his hip. That would be bad for him and, frankly, we have no idea how we could pay for that at present, although God always finds a way to provide what we need. I just hate to see the Knot Head hurt anymore.

Ed

IMG_1448

This is a picture taken when Connie came back in from seeing to Meeko’s need for some out door time. I add this picture because it is just slamin’ cute. Also, it is amazing how, with just the right moment, you can see how someone you love very much looked like when they were three.

 

Happy Veteran’s Day

First of all, Ed and I want to wish all our brothers and sisters a happy Veteran’s Day. For those who have served in the past and for those who are serving now: Thank you. Ed and I have often discussed the fact that when a soldier takes his oath, it is to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. Additionally, neither of us has ever met a veteran who felt that the oath was no longer binding, simply because he or she was no longer on active duty.

Connie Basic

Connie’s Basic Training photo 1981

E5 Ed

Ed in the 1970s

On Monday, Ed and I, along with three other veterans were presented with beautiful quilts hand made by the local quilting club. From what I understand, they present about 20 quilts a year. That is a lot of quilting. Thank you ladies for your support of all our veterans.

IMG_1365

Connie’s quilt

Ed's quilt

Ed’s quilt

Sorry I haven’t been around much lately. My oldest son needed to move back in with us, and the house has been in a state of upheaval while we make room for another person…and another dog. Once again, I am clearing out the room that started out of Kyle’s room, and then became my office and craft room. I’ve written about Loki before. He is a husky/dachshund mix…who though that was a good idea? He’s a little neurotic. He loves Ed as long as Ed is sitting down. He likes him lying down even better. Standing up is another thing altogether! Then he growls, barks, and runs after him. If Ed turns toward him, he runs and hides behind, Katherine, James or I. Hopefully, he will eventually realize that the upright Ed wont hurt him any more than the reclining Ed will. Needless to say, the cats are less than impressed with having a dog in the house.

It has been a blustery day today with hints of severe weather. We were under a tornado watch for awhile this afternoon. Very unusual weather for Missouri in the fall. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are common place in the spring, but not this time of year.  We did manage to  get the fall onions planted, but haven’t mulched them yet. Ed didn’t think raking leaves today would be very productive. The cold frame is essentially finished, but I haven’t got anything in it yet. I found some “barn paint” in the paint left by the previous owner. It wasn’t in the best shape, but it was enough to cover the cold frame.

Hopefully, I’ll be back with more news in a few days.

Connie

Run, Run, Run!

Seems like all we did this week was run.

We made two 100 mile round trips to Liberty. and one 140 mile round trip to Independence this week, for doctor’s appointments and other personal business. Needless to say, we didn’t get much done on the homestead.

However, we did find a supplier for free wood pallets and other cool stuff from a store in Liberty. Look what we brought home yesterday!

wood frame with pallets in the background.

wood frame with pallets in the background.

Since we still don’t have the cold frame finished, Ed is thinking about using part of one of the pallets to frame the windows. Lord willing, his next two days off (Monday and Tuesday), will be “stay at home and catch up on projects” days.

Even with all the running, we did manage to get some school done. Most of what we did this week was literature. Since she was having to do a lot of sitting and waiting, I made her take books with her. She was not happy, but she did it. Today we started some Shakespeare, as well as reading “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” . Next week will have some “catch up on school” days as well.

The days that Ed worked, I got a few projects finished. I got some goldenrod picked and then I hung all my herbs out in the garage to dry.

goldenrod

goldenrod

drying herbs

drying herbs

I started drying them this way a few years ago, when we lived in Independence. I had a bumper crop of herbs and needed to get them all harvested before a forecasted frost. I crammed everything I could get into paper grocery sacks and stuck them on a shelf in the back of the house. Time got away from me and I didn’t get anything done with them. A few months later, I opened the bags, expecting to find rotted plant matter. What I found was perfectly dried herbs. I’ve been drying them that way ever since. The challenge this year was finding a place to hang the bags. I thought about the basement, but its too damp. I finally settled on the garage. I would have suspended them from the rafters, but I didn’t have any way to reach that high.

I also finished my first fall decorating project.

maple syrup bottle candle holders

maple syrup bottle candle holders

It’s the same concept as the blue ones I did awhile back. These are maple syrup bottles. I coated the inside with a shade of acryllic paint called “nutmeg”. Since the little handles are solid glass, I covered them with hemp rope. The leaves on the front are real maple leaves from the trees in our front yard. I coated them in about a ton of Mod Podge, to make them stay on. Then I tied on the raffia bows. I think they turned out well. The candles were too big for the bottles, so I had to whittle them down a little to make them fit. I guess that is as good a reason as any for learning to make my own candles!

Of course, on the days that Ed worked, we still had school, and Katherine still had to read. Here she is reading Les Miserables. Bookworm is reading along.

Kat and Bookworm reading Le Mis

Kat and Bookworm reading Le Mis

Ed is working on a series of posts about our critters, but I have to say something about Bookworm here. She is Captain’s daughter, from her first and only litter. At our last house, she practically lived outside. Now, she won’t go out unless we make her, and then she climbs the front door screen, yelling at us to let her back in. She divides her time between Katherine’s room and the tables in front of the picture window in the front room. I’m not sure what she was  thinking here. Maybe she thought she looked better in the pot than the avocado tree did.  That tree is tougher than it looks. It stood right back up when I made Bookworm move.

Bookworm in the avocado pot

Bookworm in the avocado pot

Our weather has been typical for Missouri fall. Two temperate days, one hot day, and then a “but I don’t want to turn on the furnace yet” day, and then back to a temperate day. We are getting very close to our average first frost dates, so I would really like to get some things finished outside soon. I also need to bring in some potted plants and herbs from the front yard. Then I’ll have to work on some interior lighting.

Hope everyone has a great evening!

Connie

Captain My Captain

When Connie and I got together, Katherine had just got a new cat which was named, for no particular reason I ever learned, Captain. Captain was about 9 months old when we came into contact. Let me assure you, neither of us was overly impressed.

I am not a cat person. Now cat people take the fact that I can get along with cats as a sign that this is not true. I can get along with Democrats too, that does not mean I believe that Roosevelt saved us all.

So Captain and I have been kind of tolerating each other for oh, about seven years now. In fact, we have tolerated each other so long now that we have formed our own kind of weird bond. Kind of like that long standing crick in your neck. It’s a continuing pain, but you would miss it were it to leave.

Captain is probably the sanest of our cats, but you best not forget that she is the mother and grandmother of crazy (Bookworm) and “oh dear heaven look at that!!!” (Adora, AKA Arrhythmia). So Captain, in a pinch, can show you her mind blowing spells of the crazy that she so liberally passed on to her progeny.

For instance, on two occasions Captain has deserted our lovely home complete with heat, air-conditioning and cat food to live in the woods by herself for months at a time. We would get an occasional glimpse of her from time to time; distant and unresponsive to our calls. She was somewhat like a land version of the Loch Ness Monster. Living on mice and surfacing occasionally for the amusement of the gawking masses. (Katherine, Connie or me).

Both times she came home thinner and quite proud of herself. Once, after one of her walk abouts, I saw her catch a mouse in our old house. Most cats play with Mr. Mouse for awhile and generally just scare the pour thing to death. Captain pounced on it, ate it whole from tail to neck, turned to me and spit the head out. “Take care of that won’t you.” She seemed to say and then walked away disdainfully.

When she has decided to stick around the house, she has just this summer decided to sleep most nights in the barn. Having met her child and grandchild I often wonder if she is not smarter than all of us on this matter.

She will leave the house about dusk, go out to the barn where her only trouble might be raccoons, foxes, the occasional coyote or snake, and sleep under an unused feed stall. Of course, being a cat, she cannot come when called in the morning. That would be so beneath her dignity. So Connie and I, after calling a number of times, feeding the other cats, calling again, feeding the dogs, calling, and checking the garden, walk out to the barn where we find Captain in the same spot each time. After some coaxing by Connie and/or Katherine (I can forget about it) she will come out look at all of us like, “Well what are you waiting for?” And go to the house to be fed.

Captain is really a quite pretty cat. Now you cat people are thinking “See he really likes cats.” Rattlesnakes are really very beautiful, but that does not mean I pet them. So my ability to see Captain’s beauty does not make me a “cat person”. She is white mostly with colors around here and there. A picture would do best I think.

Captain showing her love and affection for Connie. One interest we both share.

Captain showing her love and affection for Connie. One interest we both share.

009

Captain, showing her ultimate distrust and disdain for me. And I am so nice to her. Reminds me of several of my ex-girlfriends.

Captain likes to sleep on my pillow. I have no idea why. I often come to the dining room table all set for a meal to find her sitting in my chair. Again, I have no idea why she would want to do that. Maybe she likes to hear me growl, “Get down you silly cat.” When not trying to sit in my chair or lie in my bed, the cat seems to spend a lot of time on my dresser lying atop my “Stuff Box” Connie made me for Christmas a couple years ago.

You would think that sometimes I petted her, rubbed her, and treated her like she was welcomed or like I missed her when she wasn’t here. ‘Course we all know better than that don’t we?

Take Care,

Ed