Busier Than…..

“Busier than a long tailed cat in a room fulla rockin’ chairs.” Now there is one that paints you a picture. Much like “Busier than a one armed wall paper hanger.” or “Busy as a one legged man at a butt kickin’ contest.” All good old fashioned ways to describe my last few months.

So the next question would be: “Busy doin’ what bud?”

Funny you should ask:

I believe the last time we talked, I was discussing getting some bees. On 30 April 2016 we became the proud owners of two hives of Russian Honey Bees, and no, they do not do that funny little dance.

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What you see here is me moving the two Nucs into their new homes.

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This is moving the bees with stuff into their new homes. It is a very interesting process. Bees have a remarkable sense of direction and place so I opened the little holes in the Nucs the night before and set them directly where the hive was going to be. That way I could work while the foragers were out and they would be able to come home to their new house. It worked fine.

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This pic was taken before I had any bees in them, but it is what, two months later, the hives look like now, with two deeps and one super.

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This was taken two days ago. Because of back trouble, I had not been in the hives for about two weeks. At least in this one, the bees have already about filled up the super with honey. What I am doing is breaking loose the glue (propolis).  Interestingly, it is the substance used to make the varnish used on Stradivarius violins. Oh, honey is heavy. I estimate this super to be about forty pounds and it is not full yet.

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It’s HONEY!!!

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This comb broke off one of the supers. I have one hive that is kind of a free spirit. The plus was that Connie and I got a taste of our own honey. It was great. Kat did not want any because it is neither chicken tenders nor pepperoni pizza.

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This is a smoker. Bees are a lot like Willie Nelson, give them a little smoke and they settle right down. The tool in my other hand is essentially a pry bar to break loose the propolis which is really good glue. The tool lying to the far left of the picture is used to pick frames out of the supers or the deeps. I will show you next pic.

 

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We got a lot going on here, first, all those bees flying around me are a mite displeased. Second, that is the tool I was talking about. I thought I could do without it, but it is very hard to pull frames out with your gloved hands. Finally the frame has honey around the edges (the white parts are capped honey) and brood in the center. Most of the center has already hatched so the queen will be back this way shortly. Down around the bottom and the edges you see some capped brood. Can you tell this stuff just amazes me?

 

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For the three of you I have not bored to tears here is another look at a deep frame, with both brood and honey. I met the Queen herself on one of these, she is about half again bigger than the other bees and looks, well, regal. I think she ordered me beheaded.

In my last post, I also discussed more chickens. We got those too, with limited success. We bought a total of ten Rhode Island Red pullets (at least that was how they were advertised) of which five made it to adulthood. Two were apparently cleverly disguised as pullets because they had grown up to be roosters. OOPS. If, at this point, you are thinking of an inappropriate joke well…. me too, but we digress.

For some reason, after reaching adulthood one rooster and one hen decided to go over the fence and visit the dogs. This was a fatally unwise decision on their part. No, I did not shoot the dogs, though I did make my disapproval known. I did not shoot them because first, the chickens had come to them, and second, I already had Miss Katherine in a complete funk over the dead rooster and hen, so having to say goodbye to the dogs would have made that matter worse.

But, as Claremary said in one of her comments, farm life can be harsh. We already have a little graveyard on the place. So now Aero and Sleepy are buried with Marshmellow, Loki and Ice Cold, the Beta.

So we move on with what we have, which includes our two original roosters who are grown, full of vinegar and kicking each others butts daily.

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Katherine named him Moony because he has dark tail feathers. I just call him Brewster the Rooster.

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This one is Sunny (white tail feathers) I call him Rooster Cogburn. Since they have reached adulthood we pretty much have to keep them apart.  If not, they will fight each other constantly.

Connie misplaced her camera; it showed up in a box of seeds. Things have a habit of doing that in our home. I misplaced my Barlow for a couple months and found it in my pencil/pen cup on my desk. So we do not have a lot of picture of the Rhode Island Reds. Also, we did lose six months of pictures when Connie’s computer went haywire. We will have more shortly.

On March 30,  Jim Williams (Connie’s ex-husband and the children’s father) passed away. Jim, like me, was retired military. Jim, like me also, was a drunk. By the grace of God, I have been sober for seven years.  Jim was not so blessed. Anyway, he had no one to take care of his arrangements, except a young son who, though grown, was not prepared for those issues. Neither were we, for that matter.

First, there was the funeral expense. Although he had left enough to handle it, the money was not going to be available. After some consideration I talked to Connie and we handled it temporarily. The man had been her husband for many years and, besides that, he was a veteran and we are too.

Next came the family: one son from Germany and several family members from Kentucky. We had the son from Jim’s first marriage, Jim’s brother from Kentucky, and two of his nieces. It was a bit crowded but everyone was wonderful guests, and we gave Jim a fair send off.

In May, we planted some trees Connie got from the Missouri Department of Conservation for a very reasonable price. We had thirty trees (that’s a lotta holes by the way) of which we  got about twenty in the ground. We now have a possibility of about fifteen making it. A little hint: bunnies LOVE witch hazel.

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Me digging another tree hole. Note to self: You need to lose some weight Hoss.

Then there was the job, which was not working out. So I have taken another one, which has a higher earning potential. It will be four ten hour days instead of five eights. So let’s add some job stress, and then a job change to the mix.

Then we had the rains. Missouri had been under drought conditions from around 2009 until last year. Well, that’s over. The Good Lord made a promise to Noah that He would not flood the whole earth again. He said nothing about flooding Missouri. That was left open for consideration.

During one of the worst of several bad rainstorms, I noticed that a drain in the basement was backing up. Thus began the reign of broken things. This drain was hooked to what turned out to be a gray water line, so every time we used the washer, sinks or showers, we had water back up. Actually it was better than I suspected. I was afraid that the septic was backing up.

Next came the truck. I got off from work one evening, and it appeared to me that the safety switch, that kept me from starting the truck without the clutch in, had shorted.

Then came the oven, followed by the air conditioner. Not to be outdone, Connie’s computer went belly up, and then mine committed hot computer suicide.

Wow! Do I need to tell you that I, a bumbling repair man at best, was a little overwhelmed? Finally I realized that it would likely be best if we did something about this mess. So we prayed a lot, and then:

I had already replaced Connie’s computer before mine went out so we restored her old one to factory settings and I took it. We also managed to get a lot of the saved stuff off of my computer and we had quite a bit of Connie’s already on an external hard drive. Computer situation solved.

We called a plumber from Chilicothe, Mo who did drains and septic tanks. If you are in the area and looking for a plumber, message me I will give you his number. I was ready to spend a grand on this without blinking. After ten minutes he had determined that it was a plugged gray water drain, that went into the ditch by the road. Apparently this is done a lot in Braymer. Within forty minutes, he and his partner had cleared the clog.  No mess, no trouble, and two hundred bucks well spent.

As for the truck; I have road service as part of my insurance. It was not the clutch safety switch, it was a loose battery cable which was shorting out. Total cost: one hundred and ten bucks. After I get my refund for the tow, ten bucks. I can live with that.

The AC looked scary. Connie and I cleaned up a 5000 BTU window unit we had from the old house, and put it in the kitchen. I called around, and what I heard scared me badly. At church, I shared all this in Sunday school class, and the Minister gave me the name of the man who worked on the church’s AC. I called on Monday, he came on Tuesday.  Total cost: ninety bucks.

So what I would have estimated as a total of about two thousand dollars, came out to more like five hundred dollars. I can live with that, although five hundred ain’t chump change either.

And that is the way the last five months have gone. “Busy as Cranberry Merchant.” Connie’s great-grandma used to say that one. Neither one of us know what it refers to.

Oh, and then we have the medical things. I have been scoped from every conceivable angle. Connie is going to get endoscopy next week, and next month she is going to have her foot and ankle operated on. Oh yes,and my gimp back blew out on me, but that is fine now.

Beside all that, everything had been fine.

Ed

 

 

 

 

 

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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:

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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

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

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It’s Bundle Time!

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I’ve been talking about this for a couple of weeks now, but it’s finally here! The Back to Basics Living Bundle sale starts today, and runs through this Saturday (Jan 24).

Another category in the bundle is Natural Remedies. It contains 14 eBooks, as well as a year’s subscription to The Mother Magazine.  If you’ve read much of our blog, you know I really like the idea of natural medicine and using herbs to treat illness, as well as making use of all those “weeds” growing in our yards and gardens.

One of those eBooks is “How to Make Healing Herbal Salve and Lip Balm” by Kami McBride from Living Awareness.com. The first thing I noticed about this 88 page eBook is that Kami tells you how to print it out like a real book, if you are so inclined. After introducing herself and her adventure into salve creating, she gives detailed instructions, with pictures, for making the salves. Another thing I like about this book is that she gives the hows and why’s about the ingredients and processes. This is a real keeper! I’ll be playing with this book for awhile, and I’ll share my results with you!

Buy this bundle this week, and you probably have your reading for the year!  Yes, there really is that much in there!

Connie

It’s Coming!

700x470Are-you-ReadyLast week, my friend Marie, from Just Plain Marie, shared some exciting news with her Facebook group. She said that she had written an eBook that was to be included in huge bundle of eBooks and other material called the “Back to Basics Living Bundle”.

Then she mentioned the affiliate opportunity for anyone who might want to promote the bundle. Well, I love Marie’s writing, and am familiar with several of the other authors represented so I jumped at the chance to help her out.

That being said, there was also no way that I would promote anything that I hadn’t read for myself. Fortunately, I was able to do just that, and all I can say is “WOW!”. There is a ton of stuff, and it’s going to take me some time to get through it all. Here in few days, I’ll start posting some reviews of the individual eBooks and other material. I’m going to see if Ed will help me. There is a book about bees, and I know he will want to look at that.

The sale will start on January 18th. You can read all the details about the bundle; like what’s in it and how the sale works,  here.

Let me know what you think.

Connie

Affiliate Disclaimer : This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, we receive a commission which varies from product to product.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

 

The Horses Can’t Eat It

I haven’t written in awhile, probably because I have been busier than a one armed brick layer, and that leads to the first thing I am thankful for. I am thankful that, even after all these years of use, misuse and plain old abuse, this rather stumpy body still manages to work in an acceptable fashion.

Oh some days it’s hard to get cranked, the choke seems to stick, there is a whine in the power steering unit and the ball joints pop and groan, but I still manage to get it out on the road and keep up with average traffic.

So I am thankful that the Good Lord has seen fit to give me a body that can stand up to hard travelin’. I believe He knew I would need it.

I am also very thankful for the people God has put into my life. I believe the polite phrase for most of us is colorful. And we are as colorful as a Carney caravan painted by Picasso.

Old drunks, young artist, sweet souls, hard travelers, long riders and several failed experiments in modern chemistry, who have added more love, laughter and wisdom to this old man’s life than ever he deserved. I love you all, even the ones who I have threatened to behead with a dull shovel, and you know I was only a little peeved.

However, I am especially grateful for a handful of you. There are my two daughters, Katherine and Shannon who are full grown people in their own right, and who I can think of and smile. There are my other three who came as a package deal with my Connie. Two of them are grown men and the third is a teenager, and they have brought joy into my life.

Also there is Connie. I ask her often, “Do you know how much I love you?” And she answers with a smile and a shake of her head to say “no.” Then I say, “I don’t either.”

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Connie and my wedding. Most people start a family after they are married, we kinda did it differently. Like most things.

And I don’t. One of the things I learned while being taught to jump off of high places with a rope is that the human mind cannot really comprehend distances straight down more than about 66 feet. When I try to look at my love for Connie, it is just all that I have and I have no idea how much that is.

Maybe I should consider how thankful I am for all the material blessing I have been given. In less than seven years I have gone from a homeless drunk with half a suitcase of worn clothes, a beat up old Bible and a dinged up guitar, to having just a whole buncha neat stuff and critters and all that.

It’s nice and I am grateful for it all; but it’s just things.

Some years ago in Texas an old cowboy was buying his third round for the house. A man at this table cautioned him to slow down, that it was getting expensive.

The old man laughed and said, “Its only money, the horses can’t eat it.” I was there that night, drinking his whiskey and, insult added to injury, I stole his saying.

Those who I love and who love me are what I judge my wealth by and, on that scale, I am very rich.

I hope each of you feels the same and I pray God’s own blessing on you all.

Writing 101 Day 12: Playing With Word Count

Minimum word count requirements are the most annoying part of any assignment. If I can get my point across and convey relevant information in fifty words, why must I add fluff to meet a word count requirement of one hundred words?

The chicken coop is finished. We are still wondering if we might have two roosters. Moonrise is starting to show a little tuft on the top of his/her head. This morning, I held boards while Ed cut them for my cold frame. If all goes well, we’ll finish it tomorrow.

What do you think of my hundred word post?