Saturday, August 9, 2014

Here I go again...

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With taking forever to update! Honestly time has gone so quickly, I can hardly keep up.

It's been super busy here between getting ready to leave, working around the farm, pickling, and just day to day stuff.

We are in full packing mode right now and our truck camper is going on the truck as we prepare to leave Monday morning for surgical trip number two (surgery number 7). I like traveling a whole lot better when it doesn't always involved surgery for me, let me tell you!

I have been very stressed out about leaving the little dogs. I have never left them for more than two weeks and that was at my last surgery. I am not used to not having them with me when we travel. Douglas has a lot of separation anxiety (it's kind of mutual but he becomes a worse emotional wreck than me) so I was most worried about leaving him. We will have the camper but we are also staying in a hotel for at least a week right before and after my surgery. The hotel is really nice and set us up comfortably for my initial recovery, but they also do not accept pets. So we had assumed taking even one dog was out of the question. But they were kind enough to make an exception for me because of surgery! So I could bring one dog. Norman is the best traveled and trained, but Douglas will be going because he's so attached to me he panics if he cannot get in the bathroom with me. The Chihuahua's are also bonded so they will be OK together, but still, I don't like leaving them. I know I also have to worry about myself though, and I won't be feeling so great, and also Kevin will have a lot on his hands while I am in the hospital.

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I did manage to get a whole bunch of pickling done! I got through a bushel of cukes and stocked us up on Dills, bread and butters, mustard pickles, and also 8 day fermented icicle pickles. It felt so good to be canning. I wish I could have done more but I'm glad I accomplished what I did, even though it took me a while to recover.

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My peppers are just starting to get ripe and actually producing better than I expected with all the rain and actually cool temps for July & early August. I hate to leave them! I'm hoping I'll still have a bunch to harvest when I return. I'm freezing everything I can so I can process them when I get home. The bananas and jalapenos I will pickle.

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It's also peach time and I wish I could be preserving some... but since I'm getting ready to hit the road, I've just been eating up as much as I can, either fresh or in muffin form! Peach crumb muffins are one of my favorites.

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I'm also harvesting herbs to dry while I am away. I suspect I should be able to gather a lot more when I return. Chamomile is my favorite, just smelling it is so relaxing. I love it in tea but I think I need it in pill form to take as needed, it's amazing as natures relaxant :)

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The kids are all doing well! The boys are separate from the girls now (since this picture) and I'm hoping I won't have any boys jumping fences while I am away!

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They have been enjoy the extra abundance of grass and also green leaves and flowers this year.

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So has Jackson! It's been a great year for pastures, hay... It's hard to believe when we come back it will be fall!

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The creek looks gorgeous in purple - but as you can see our humidity has been high the past week, you can't hardly see outside it gets so thick at times and actually, we haven't had any recent rain. Such a strange summer we've had here.

But now we are heading into the major heat. Pretty much everywhere we are going it is hot, hot, hot!

I am very excited though because hopefully we'll fit a couple of fun things into the trip despite me not feeling great and the main event being surgery. On Tuesday we are hoping to visit Luray caverns in Virginia which we drive by all the time and have never been able to stop at, so I'm really looking forward to that!

I hope to update from the road when I can.

Thank you all for all of your support, for reading, for your comments, it all means a lot to me. And I apologize for not keeping up with blogs recently, I do check in and hopefully will be more active and on track soon.

Oh, and P.S. we got about 350 square bales of hay off our fields, the barn is full, and we've got another huge pile under tarps so we have a nice big security net of hay this year, that's been helping me sleep better at night a lot!

Here's hoping this surgery, once I recover, really helps. I'm not afraid of surgery at this point even a little, but I am worried about recovery - I'm tired of doing it, and this one may be different than the others. But I remind myself that by "different" it might be hard, but it also might be very easy, you don't know until you are living it, so I'm trying to think positive and hope for the best :) 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What's been happening here...

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Gosh time has got away from me! It's hard to believe how fast it's moving and sometimes I can barely catch up. Where to start? :) I tried to update the blog a few days ago but I've been having major computer issues... thankfully Kevin has been working on it because it just drives me crazy. It's not fully fixed yet but since it's working right now I thought I better take advantage and update the blog while I can! 

So to start... my month on the chemo drug to shut off my hormones was rough. The side effects were hard to manage but my pain did get better - I actually had a few days of NO pain, except I had a constant migraine I could not keep at bay, despite taking medication constantly. However I did see some changes without a doubt and amazingly after 8 months of painful digestive issues, they improved to the point of almost not being there. So that confirmed to me that all of my symptoms have been connected to the same thing and not several different things as some of my Doctors had lead me to believe here. So I feel better having a clearer idea of what has been happening to me. I couldn't take a second injection because of the side effects so I'm feeling pretty miserable right now... But there is hope.

I have surgery scheduled with an awesome surgeon the end of August and while I am not in any way excited about surgery number 7 OR recovery - I am excited that this will likely give me some relief once my body adjusts to the changes and heals. Because of the results I saw on the medication we feel pretty confident we have a good handle on how to move forward. I feel so terrible right now anything is worth a chance but I feel so positive about it and so hopeful. I just wish it wasn't the end of August and it was tomorrow!

Because of issues with Insurance we cannot afford to go back to my amazing surgeon in Georgia, so we've been working on that for months trying to figure out what we could do and what our options were. So we'll be making the journey this time to Texas, near Dallas and we will not be flying. After my really painful and difficult flight last year after surgery, we are going to drive. We considered taking our 40 foot 5th wheel which would be great for comfort and recovery, but it also makes it harder for us to find places to camp and causes us to travel slower, so we've settled on taking our slide in truck camper. It's 11 feet and it's great for camping, we've taken it on many trips to Alaska, but the only trouble is, you have to climb up into the bed, which I won't be doing after surgery. The table turns into a bed thankfully, although we've never used it, but we'll set it up nicely so I"ll be able to sleep there while I heal from surgery. This surgery should not be as painful after as my last one, I had several procedures done at one time and should only be having two done this time, unless the Doctor finds something else.

In the meantime, I'm plodding along, doing a little here and there as I can. The men have started haying and have been working hard to get our fields cut when the weather allows as we've had so much rain it's been crazy. My plants have suffered because of it, but so far everything is making it through OK, but the tomatoes were very unhappy for a while. We still have a lot of work left to get our haying done, but we are getting some pretty great bales this year, and lots of bales off of two of the fields we did not cut last year when we woke these old fields up for the first time in 65 years! The fields we cut last year and seeded in the spring are all nice and green, and thick.

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Hay drying in the sun...

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Rollie rushing to check out the fields

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Farmer Kevin making square bales!

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When I took this picture I was thinking, Dreams really do come true. This picture is like an image taken from my mind, one I'd seen many times in my dreams. It's important to stop and realize when we see things right in front of us we always dreamed about... sometimes we don't notice, like a pain that is no longer there, we forget... it's important not to.

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this is security!

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The animals are all doing well, except tired of the bugs bothering them... 

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In case you didn't already know... flowers are delicious.

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Here is a picture of Henrietta with her head through the fence, eating greens on the other side...

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Henrietta: um, you didn't just see that... 

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Out there in all that tall green stuff is one darned cute little horse...

I talked to an interesting woman a week ago who drives her Mini's...I got to meet her horses and heard all kinds of fun things about driving. I had not thought much about a Mini horse driving a cart, I know they can pull one, but she showed me pictures and told me that a lot of older fellas that used to drive heavy horses and can longer handle them, drive minis for fun. She had a great Pony whom was just a star. I am used to ponies to being quite naughty but this guy was just a real charmer.

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Also a week ago, I wasn't feeling well but wanted to do something so I decided on drying some herbs... I figured that should be a safe thing to do and it's light work. I harvested some of my herbs but also decided I should take advantage and go collect some nettles some to dry as well (they are amazing for herbal teas, so many health benefits.) We have nettles everywhere but there is a big patch in the goat yard which is close to the house, plus I could say hi to the kids.

So off I went and I had a great snuggle with the goats and safely collected some stinging nettles without getting stung (because that sucks if you do) But on the way out, Aurora (one of the Pygmy girls) pushed open the gate and sneaked out.

It's not really a big deal because she doesn't run away, but she's kind of naughty. I did the right thing and asked for help, something I rarely do, normally I'd just catch her myself. Jim came to help but somehow I couldn't resist and I ended up tripping and falling...

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And that roll of fence wire beside her had a piece of it lying under the grass, that's what tripped me... and also stabbed me right in the butt.. at the top of my thigh. Thankfully it was right where it was getting meaty - a reason it's important to have padding, but I still hurt myself pretty good. We took care of it so there was no infection but I sported a nice multi-colored bruise for several days, and a deep wound.

You win some, you loose some. 

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Olive, our last Prairie dog is doing well and enjoying the abundance of clover this year...

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And I am trying to enjoy the abundance of raspberries. Our bushes are super full. We have acres and acres of wild raspberries. Because I cannot be in the sun right now without getting sick it makes it hard for me to pick them in large amounts, but I've been out when I can to at least pick some. This patch is right behind the house.

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They are so delicious. I wasn't able to pick any last year because of leaving for my surgery before they were ripe so I am enjoying them this year.

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and so is someone else...

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Douglas loves wild raspberries.

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And Rollie just loves adventure!

(and also raspberries.)

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The gooseberries are looking really good too - as are the blackberries and wild grapes. I think it will be a good year for everything - however it needs to dry up for the grapes, they don't like it being so wet.

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I also did manage 1 batch of strawberry jam! I'm so hoping to be able to get more canning done this year. Usually I spend 2 months canning. Many nights I've stayed up until 2 AM working on apple butter or canning some kind of pickle or relish. It's been a long time since I've been able to really catch up on my canning and refill our pantry properly because of my health. I have a list of things I really want to make this year no matter what, so hopefully I'll be able to. I need fresh pickles badly, and I really need to make some Chow Chow relish because I dream about it constantly.

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This is how my stash of goods usually looks in the fall (and this is just part of it) and I cannot wait to be able to refill it again.

It amazes me it's the middle of July already. I hate to rush it and won't wish that because I want all of our gardens to grow well and everyone to enjoy the nicer weather, but I really look forward to the end of August, and hopefully moving in the right direction to get me back. I know it won't be a simple process but this entire year has been very rough, and I'm so ready to move forward.

We had to stop haying because of rain again for a couple of days but hopefully tomorrow it will resume!

I know I promised last time not to wait so long before updating the blog,and it's hard to promise that I'll get back into the normal swing of things right now when things still are not normal, but I promise not to go so long without an update. June was a tough month for me... but I learned a lot and I have my heart focused on the future, and on feeling better :)

Thank you so much to everyone who reads the blog for all of your patience and support! It means the world to me.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Taking it as it comes...

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It's hard to write when I'm not feeling well. The past few weeks have been really rough. I've had a lot of pain and been very sick. I started a new medication which is an injection and it's used for prostate cancer... it eventually after a flare period shuts your hormones off, which can at times offer pain relief. It has a whole lot of side effects and I have avoided taking it for a long time because of that, but hopefully I will only be on it for a couple of months instead of 3-6 which is the usual treatment and when most of the worst and sometimes irreversible side effects show up. It has been really unpleasant to say the least, and I've been in bed pretty much 98% of the time. I get up and have coffee in the morning and that's it. Today was the first time in a WEEK I've been able to do anything at all, and I was able to get outside for an hour before heading back to bed to rest. 

I have some tests coming up at the hospital in the next week to help rule out a few other things before we move forward with our next steps in trying to get me well... or at least, better than I am. It's a process, but as long as we are moving forward and not standing still, I have great faith we will find the way through this. 

We've had a whole lot of rain this week, heavy downpours for days and our fields are flooded still. I'm hoping it lets up a bit so things can dry because it's been a bad year for planting and if keeps up, it will be difficult for haying too... However so much rain has made the forest here look like a jungle everything is growing like crazy out there!

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The dogs and I went on a very short walk (our first in weeks) to check our garlic patch. The dogs were so happy to be out with me. They spend a great deal of time happily sleeping in bed with me and get plenty of time running around the yard but they love nothing more than a walk with mom. It's always a fun adventure.

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This is our first year planting garlic and we didn't get as much as we wanted planted, but still a decent amount and it's coming up well despite the weather and getting it in late. It felt so good to be out for a walk, even though it was a short one.

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Last night after more rain we had a really beautiful evening. Today we had hoped for sun but it's decided to stay away again today.

I have had pictures to share for a while now but like I said, had a hard time motivating myself to write when I feel badly. But here are some pictures from the end of May/early June...

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Everyone got out on one of their pastures, which made them all very happy...

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Our geese families that live in our pond at the house (usually 2 but 3 this year) have been bringing their growing babies into the yard everyday, they are out there for most of the day either by our bedroom window eating or by the pond lying in the shade of the trees in the afternoon, sleeping. We always look forward to seeing them every year.

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I managed to get almost all my plants planted on the deck and things are growing OK. My peppers I am growing inside our sunroom are doing better than the ones outside though, we haven't had enough sun and we've had more rain than they like (a lot like last year at this time) so the ones indoor are warmer, and flowering.

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But still, everything is growing nicely, just a little slower.

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Everything is a lot higher now than in these pictures too :)

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The dogs love being out there more than anywhere, I think they think it's their own private garden... which it kinda is.

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Rollie inside where it's cooler, but looking out...

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I shared one of these pictures of my Facebook, we were so lucky to find a Giant Silk moth...

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So beautiful...

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And also a Luna moth! They are only alive for 7 days, so while they are common, people don't see them as often. They are so beautiful, and quite friendly. They are born without a mouth even since they never eat, they only breed and then die. Fascinating little creatures.

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Little Hickory and Big Bulrush...

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The goats really enjoyed getting onto some fresh grass...

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I get up to the barn not as often as I'd like - not daily lately. But when I do I just sit and snuggle as much as I can with everyone... they all like that but especially Max... I know he's not sure what's wrong - or then again, maybe he knows exactly what's wrong. Animals know so much more than we think.

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Looking at these pictures again now, I miss the sun! We haven't seen it in so long!

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Henrietta, the hermaphrodite is bigger than her father now. She's (he's) huge. She looks like the biggest baddest billy goat you've ever seen. Of course she just love kisses but she acts way more like a billy goat, than the actual males! She is the resident clown for sure.

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That's my little Lavender in front, this years bottle baby...

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Speaking of things growing well from the rain, so is she! She's not a purebred Pygmy so she'll be bigger but I'm surprised at how tall she is. She's nice and healthy which makes me very happy and was just recently weaned. She's a sweetheart, she lives for snuggles.

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Then there is Bulrush, our resident giraffe... why eat from the ground when you are tall enough to reach all the trees?

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In this particular pasture, everyone spends most of their time under the shade of the trees...

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This was little Wally, one of my bucklings from this year. Out of my 5 bucklings, 4 have gone to new homes... ALL TOGETHER! I was so pleased. I don't have a problem with people raising or selling animals for meat but since I raise just a few kids each year and become very close to them, I look for only the best homes I can find for them. And boys are difficult. I know that male goats when neutered (and actually sometimes even when not) make the best pets, but a lot of people don't know that. So every year I worry myself sick - and I mean literally, over this. Ask Kevin, he can hardly stand me I get myself so worked up. I almost refused the home at first because I thought anyone wanting multiple bucklings was up to no good but it turns out it was a wonderful pet home and I couldn't be happier. It was a huge relief to me. Hickory, one of the Pygmy males is still here and he's the only one... we haven't decided if he'll be neutered and stay or also find a good pet home.

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Barnaby, my Pygmy buck, is getting his summer clothes on, and he always looks quite handsome in them...

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The Heron in our pond. The fireflies just returned a few nights ago and all this rain has really stirred the bullfrogs up so evenings are amazing now. Minus the mosquitoes. We have a lot of frogs in our pond, and that is why Heron likes to spend so much time here.

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We did have a sad event happen... our second to last Prairie dog, Nervous Nelly, finally passed away. It was expected as both girls are 15 now and Nelly has been declining for a couple of months. She enjoyed the fruits of spring before she passed, fresh grass, fresh strawberries, and her favorite, fresh parsley. But she is sadly missed and leaves us with only poor Olive as our last Prairie dog. Olive is doing well, much to my surprise, better than I expected. I hope she is able to enjoy this summer. At her age she could leave us anytime but at the moment she is still very healthy.

Right now we are taking each day as it comes. I'm really hoping I will see even a little relief with this medicine, despite the side effects, but only time will tell.

I hope all of your gardens are growing well!
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