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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We are in love

With our new baby.
She is soft and sweet and warm.
She has long ears and soft fur and warm little hooves and likes to rub her little nose on you when she's happy.
Isn't she sweet?
It has been so wet and rainy for so long, combined with the old computer dying and therefore us not having a way to make room on the camera for photos that the only pictures I have were taken on overcast days. So they don't show her lovely, caramel-apricot color.
But she is beautiful for much more then just her color.
She has exquisite conformation. I just like to look at her. Admittedly, I don't know much about goat conformation and I have never shown one. But I am trained to appraise horses and years of working with horses and dogs have given me an "eye" for a well-built animal. The very first picture I saw of her my eyes went right to her. All of Ages Ago Acres kids are lovely, but - "we've all heard the term "caught my eye" - it was coined for times like that.

A HUGE Thank you to Susie of Ages Ago Acres for letting me bring home Honeysuckle.


 We have had nearly endless thunderstorms here! Poor Punkin, several times the tornado watch sirens have gone off, scaring her to bits.

But happily we've been spared the worst and in a couple of days this should be done with. I hope no more lives are lost. So far our only casualties have been 2 young quail. Even in roofed, blanket covered cages up off the ground, the constant damp was just too much for them.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My puppy was sick

My not-a-Border-Collie, Deacon, gave us a heck of a fright a few days ago. At evening chore time he came leaping out the bedroom window to join Handsome and I. (I really need to fix that screen) He was his normally bouncy, exuberant self, displaying an energy level matched only by actual Border Collies and a few other born-on-speed breeds.
  When he wanted to chase down the escaped Peter Rabbit and give that poor old gent a heart attack I finally put him back outside so we could get finished battening down the hatches for the torrential storm that was supposed to hit. Right before we went inside there was an almighty CRACK of thunder and we rushed into the house as we could hear poor Punkin scream. She has a fear of storms.

A few minutes later, she asked why Deacon was shivering. I assumed he was feeding off her anxiety and the sudden barometric pressure drop. But a few minutes later he threw up a terrible vileness and started shaking like a leaf in high wind. He was still responsive enough that it couldn't properly be called a seizure, but he could barely walk.
  I asked if he wanted to go outside and he staggered to the door, then once outside he just lay down against my leg and shook and drooled. He threw up again

Handsome and I went nuts trying to get a vet on the phone. But this is a very, very rural area and most vets around here don't even treat dogs. Here, in the land of the puppy mill, dogs are considered replaceable. If your dog dies, the vet has 2 more in the back and he'll give you one. They figure it's already a better home then most as you bring your animal to a vet.

So there was nothing to do but wait and see. We thought he was dieing.

On the advice of a friend, we syringed some raw egg and honey down his throat. It is supposed to help in case of a copperhead bite and can't hurt. He threw most of it up, but did seem a little better after.
  After an hour and a half, the terrible shaking subsided a little and he was able to sleep. We were so afraid to let him sleep. But every time Handsome called his name he would wag his tail. When Handsome crouched next to him to see if he was breathing and Deacon tried to roll for a belly rub (poor sweetheart was shaking so hard but managed it) we decided to bring him in, get him settled and let him sleep.

After an hour, wobbly, but no longer shaking, he staggered into the living room to get to "his" spot under the desk. After watching him sleep normally for a half hour, we thought it might be safe to go to bed. Handsome went to take our dinner dishes to the sink and Deacon came popping out to lick the plates!
  In amazement, we let him. He was a little unsteady, but showed all his regular enthusiasm.
  I asked "Do you want dinner?" and unsteadiness disappeared as he wagged so hard the white tip of his tail lashed back and forth over his back.
  He ate some boiled rice with a raw egg over it and begged for more.
Handsome gave him a small handful of dogfood and would have fed him more for the sheer joy of watching him eat if I hadn't stopped him.

And just like that it was over. As quickly and mysteriously as it began. And almost a week later we still have no idea why.
I am so glad he's ok. I just hope it never happens again.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

It isn't midnight yet so I can still say it.
And this is the first post from our new computer, which I very reluctantly like, even if the freecell game on it is far too glowy.

I finally get a chance at it as Handsome has played and fussed and downloaded all weekend, except for a little while while we had a tornado watch today. And tomorrow it will likely still be rainy and gross, so I can either do housework ~OR~ I can sit here and fill everyone in about goslings and chicks and baby goats and good dogs and figure out how to get pictures up onto the new computer.

Guess which will win?

Friday, April 22, 2011


Computer ... dying.

A windows transplant did not save it - just gave it another couple of weeks

A hard drive transplant did not revive it.

It is dying.

And there is nothing to be done, but dig into our minuscule bank balance and replace it.

Handsome (heartless scum) is actually excited about cannibalizing this one's internal bits to upgrade another.
He is looking forward to replacing my Acer with an ... an eMachine.

How could he?

He keeps saying things like "Really Honey, that computer is, what, five years old? It really needs to be replaced."
And to think, he was so excited about it when we bought it.
Our relationship was new, and I wanted him to feel needed, so I batted my eyelashes at him and sweetly said "Handsome, I need a desktop, but I only have so much $$. Would you help me find the best one?"
And, delighted with his new-found title of King of All Technology Purchases, he picked out the very one I had looked at.

He wanted to replace it with a Dell, but I have gone through the trials and tribulations of their tech support and will not have one, so he decided on a cheap-yet-adequate eMachine and has refrained from looking at the calendar everytime I get sad over the impending death of my Acer. He thinks I'm being overly emotional. And this from the man who names them.
I can't be the only person to get attached. Am I?

As it stands, I had better hit post before I get Blue Screened again. I will try to fill in my Faithful Readers soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The end of the Great Brake Saga

I got the part.
I installed it.
I bled the brakes. (This was hard because the screws did not want to turn and I had to call a friend and vent)
Handsome bravely took it for a spin, heavily testing the brakes on the dirt road.
As it worked (yay! it worked!) he then took it out and drove into our tiny town and back.

Then feeling brave, confident and in need of some essentials, we decided to take it all the way to the next town over to The Store.
  About 12 miles down the road there was a CLUNK! followed by some grinding and clattering. Happily there was a stop sign just ahead and we threw on the hazard lights as we coasted to a stop. As we came to a halt, there was the unmistakable sound of metal hitting blacktop.

Handsome (he's such a gem) did NOT say I told you so. Not even after I got out of the car to get the twisted, mangled brake pad from the road. Slowly, with hazard lights on, we crept home.

I was feeling pretty defeated. The next morning I was looking for info online to try and tell me what I had done wrong and I stumbled across a forum devoted to the Ford Explorer. So I poured out my tale of woe to the helpful folk on there and they told me to get my butt out to the car and take some pics for them as it should be impossible to spit out a brake pad like that unless I had Majorly Screwed Up.
  With trembling hands and heavy heart, I took off the tire.

And the brake pad was there.
Right where I put it.
It looked fine.

So I took pictures and posted them and the helpful, mechanically-minded Explorer enthusiasts said it looked fine.
Here, look;
Do you remember how when I had fixed it there were pieces missing?
Well, I never thought to look and see if they were jammed up there somewhere. And one was, and that was it. So I actually did it RIGHT!

And now the brakes work fine. Well, almost fine. I didn't get a couple of the brake lines tight enough and they are dripping a little fluid but this weekend Handsome will use his ManGrip and make them tighter then I can get them and we'll be set.

And hopefully I will never blog about brakes again.

Computer crash!

And now I am behind.And so much has been going on!

  But Handsome is thrilled because he got a chance to upgrade the computer and now we have Windows7. He is thrilled and speaking in Geek. I speak Dog and Horse and Excited 4 Year Old and several other languages- but not Geek. So all I know is that the computer is fixed, Handsome is happy and I have to re-bookmark my bookmarks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Front brakes, the easy ones ... riiight

  So the front brakes were supposed to be the easy ones. And when my good friend dropped off the brake shoes and pads, I was delighted to see that in each box there were the ones for both sides.
  Yay, my car will stop, I thought.

  Overbrimming with triumph and confidence, I decided to tackle the drivers side one first, since that was to be the "easy" one that I was just doing because I had the pads and caliper pins.

  I quickly discovered that on the '94 Explorer, the front brake assembly is actually meant to come apart by banging heck out of it with a hammer. Fine. This is not past my skill level.
  And then, I actually managed to get it back together. I have decided that I hate caliper pins. You also install them by banging heck out of it with a hammer.

  On to the other side! I am a little nervous because now my car is completely held up by cinderblocks and jacks and whatnot because I can't put tires back on until I've bled the brake lines. If there is a way to do this with the tires on - I don't know it. The other side comes apart much easier because now I know where and how to apply my trusty hammer, which I am developing a fond affection for and thinking of naming.

  There were pieces missing.

After the obligatory curse words and a quick prayer of gratitude that I had done the other side first and therefore knew there were pieces missing, I took it apart.
 We had been told one of the caliper pins had locked up. Maybe it had - I couldn't tell.What I could tell is that it would have had every excuse to do so. You see a brake pad had fallen out and then the piston thingy had pressed against the round plate until the piston thingy was gone.
  I said another little prayer of gratitude that Handsome had not been killed while gimping the car home.
 - A quick aside. I often pray. I feel the Powers That Be hear a lot of whinging so I try to thank them as often as possible. Doing the drum brakes had given me a chance to say thanks for an opportunity to cultivate patience. Sometimes it's all you can do.

 I am planning on posting pics of the finished job. I will NOT be posting pics of what this thing looks like now, because I don't want to be arrested for public endangerment.
  Anyhoo, hopefully my brake saga is nearly done. Today is the day that the auto parts store is supposed to get my shiny new caliper, which should be easy to install, as just to change the pads I had to undo the whole works anyway and so have done this once already. Sadly we missed yesterday's 4H meeting because of this, but later this week we'll be able to pick up our new baby goat and the 4H chicks when they come.

  Assuming, of course, that there are no more surprises. Happily, at this point if there are surprises I am now feeling capable of fixing them, having done so much already. Which feels pretty good.
 I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 11, 2011


It's been a little too hectic to write much and just when you think things may relax...

  So, Punkin is cleaning out this huge cage that her BF's mom found for the girls - who have a little quail project going on. Handsome and I carried the huge, heavy thing home and put it by the bunny cages.
  And apparently right on top of a small snake. In blissful ignorance, we wandered off.

  Today, one of her chores was to scrub the cage out. She was doing a pretty good job, tipped it over to get another side ... and ran screaming into the house "SNAKE!!!!"
  Now, Handsome just kills snakes. I object because they are pretty useful critters, so I went out to see it. And there it lay, small; barely a foot long, fat and mottled in autumn shades. Awww, I thought, Poor little hognose, it's dead. Then I thought, That's an awfully orange hognose, you don't usually see them so bright.
Then I thought, Gee, it's head is kind of pointy.

By this time Handsome came out and I asked him "Do you think that's a copperhead?"
When he said "Yup" before looking at it I remembered that I was asking the wrong person. So I crouched by it and said "Are you sure it's not a hognose?" I moved it with a stick.
Finally looking at it he said "I dunno. Gee, it's head is kind of pointy."

I was 99% sure it was dead, but that isn't sure enough to grab it by the head for a closer look, 'cause I was getting a bad vibe. I flipped it onto it's back and said if it was still like that in a little bit I'd know it was 100% dead and we'd check then.

Displaying vast courage (if small sense) Handsome said, "I don't want to take the chance" grabbed it up by the back of the head and with his thumb pulled back the lower jaw - displaying a nice set of fangs.

Juvie copperhead.


Since he already had it, Handsome took it to the garden, where all small bodies are disposed of, and Punkin went with him for a snake burial while I brought little Spud inside. I was idly wondering where the camera was so I could take some pictures of it for reference before they buried it when Punkin came dashing back inside followed shortly by Handsome, breathing hard.

It seems he put the snake down to dig a hole, whereupon it slowly turned itself onto it's belly, having begun to recover from being stuck under a cage and near drowned in cold, soapy water.
At that point Handsome went a little overboard with a pick ax and the shovel, so I have no pictures for you.

It is these little things that keep my day so busy.
I wonder if I'll get more quail eggs now?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I actually DID IT!!

Fixed the brake!!!

Might I mention I have no earthly clue what I'm doing?

  I found the Chilton manual online and went at it. We had found out it wasn't the brake line, it was the rear wheel seal thingy. I got a ride to the autoparts store and got one and also a caliper repair kit for the front (today's task) and, in my merry ignorance, proceeded to take the car apart.
  While I have no idea what I'm doing, I do have a working theory about fixing anything, which is;
  It's already broken.
  Unless I lose my temper and start pounding on it with a hammer (which I don't, though Handsome is prone to) I am not going to break it more.
  Worst case scenario is that I have to hire someone to repair it - which I already have to anyway, as it is broken - and they are paid by the hour, so it can only be good if it is already taken apart for them.

  Armed with only this theory, an online Chilton guide and a pitiful array of tools, I took it apart to discover drum brakes. I stared in horror at what can only be described to other un-mechanically minded folks like myself as Satan's jigsaw puzzle.
  To top it off, the brake pads - wait, shoes (I learned the right word for drum breaks) were practically non-existent. Like OMG I cannot believe I was driving my kids around in this gone. I called up a friend who was going to town and asked her to pick me up some while she was there.

And ...and ... I actually DID IT!!!!
I had a little help. And I would like to shout out to my cousin who gave me a phone consultation that while the screws were not reverse threaded, it might have been nice to point out I'd be working backward from them so they might as well be.
  But mostly it was me and I'm insanely proud and not even bleeding and I got both sides and today I'm doing the front ones.
  Let's hope my streak holds.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blog Contest!

 It all started with a nice little game of Monkey in the Middle.
Plus dogs
And chickens.
Aren't they cute?? Oh, right, the contest! (Scroll past the first picture for it)
A prize goes to whoever is the first to tell me who this quote is from;
"A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down."
(and apparently, also the proper way to play fetch)

Copy and pasting it to Google is cheating!!! 
One rule; Whoever wins has to put up a picture of what they got online. Facebook or a forum or their own blog - just somewhere.


You know how there are some little things that you feel just fill in a little more of the complete picture of how you want things to be?

We planted comfrey.

Not only an amazing herb and good livestock feed, it a perennial. Like the 2 apple trees we planted last year, it sends that little message of this is home. We're going to stay here and see this grow and bloom year after year.

We got big, thick sturdy roots from a Missouri homesteader  and we're thrilled. Handsome planted them in the garden right away. And then we walked through our work-in-progress and worked out a little more of the plan. It's going to be really lovely when it's done.

  Every year gardening is like a new adventure. This year, my seed starting efforts, while normally a vast success that take over every flat surface in the house, were an epic failure.
And that's ok. Or at least I'm ok with it.
  I kind of have to re-learn to garden in this climate anyway, so I will experiment with direct seeding things I usually start ahead, like tomatoes and peppers. And we will hedge our bets with some bought seedlings.
  Last year we had a huge garden area plowed and we planted perhaps a third of it. That was good though because there was some very lush, weedy growth that was plowed under and has spent a year rotting into the soil. We are only ever planning on having the garden plowed once. One huge soil disturbance and now we'll tend by hand. This year we will be working all the ground and planting all of it. Even if we don't get it all into raised beds and planted with vegetables, we will grow animal fodder, like alfalfa and millet. As we expand into those area, we'll just cut and dry the growth and turn the rest under for green manure.

I am really looking forward to this year's garden.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The pain, the panic

Of parenthood.

My dear sweet little Spud, my baby boy, came into this world seemingly determined to leave it - and perhaps to take me with him.

His latest exploit involved his climbing. I spend half my day dashing across the room to pluck him off something. He climbs with the speed and agility of a monkey. Not a big, clumsy chimp, either. Like a spider monkey.

We were all Right There. Handsome was at the computer, I turned to him to tell him something, Punkin was right next to me and Spud was next to her, playing on the floor. When I turned back, he was standing on the arm of the chair. He looked at me and smiled and reached for the playpen...
I screamed his name and leaped as he fell ...
Punkin screamed too, and ran towards him and out of my way..

He fell like a tree falling, right onto his back. He looked at me as he lay there, as I went to scoop him up. His tiny face worked and he let out a scream into my hair ... and the breath just kept coming out of him...
...and he didn't take another one...
...and I held him away from me to see him and yelled for him to breath ...
...and his eyes rolled back in his head and he went limp...
and took a deep breath.
His eyes opened and instead of screaming again he sobbed and whimpered and clung to me.

The EMT said he's fine. No concussion, not even a bump. He seems to have just knocked the wind out of himself. His pupils reacted fine right away and 20 minutes later he was eating peanut butter off a spoon (his favorite way to have it). He was laughing and playing with things and displaying fine motor function.

We were up every 20 minutes all night checking his pupils and looking for signs of anything wrong.

He was up bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning and ate a massive breakfast of cereal, corned beef hash and V8 juice. He's been playing with his toys and laughing and laughing at how I jump if he goes anywhere near a chair. He'll get close to one and turn and look and see me watching him and sit on the floor and laugh, and laugh. He's doing great.

I am destroyed.
We are keeping him under a very careful watch for the next 2 days just to be safe and when it is done I am going to have a nice bout of hysterics and then sleep.

I hope one day when he's a big strong grown-up man he has a kid just like him.
I just wish that when Handsome's mother laid that curse on him she could have done it without punishing me as well.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Adventures in driving

My goal for the week is to fix the brakes on the car.

They went out in a rather spectacular way on us. No casualties, but 3 T-posts were injured and a pine tree lost a limb.

The car has been parked in the driveway for the last week, waiting for us to have money for repairs, which we now do. Hurrah for payday!!

Here's the thing- I am not very mechanically inclined. But Handsome is worse. Much worse. But he thinks it is his Manly Duty to be if not Mr.FixIt, than at the very least more mechanically inclined then me.  Therefore, it is on his To Do List.
But that doesn't get our brakes done.

So, as I understand it, replacing a brake line is not that hard, and I've done brake pads on other cars, so I am going to attempt this myself. While Handsome is at work.
If I screw up - the way I see it is it's already broken to where we can't use it and we'll just be back to Worst Case Scenario - hire a mechanic.
If I can manage it, I will tell Handsome the good fairies did it, he will pretend to believe me and will be secretly relieved he doesn't have to think about it anymore. And we will both be happy to have the car back.

Wish me luck!

So Excited!!

We are getting a new goat!
She is a lovely little thing with a soft, warm, caramel buckskin color and long soft ears.

I was admiring Ages Ago Acres baby goat pictures. In fact, I've admired their herd and breeding philosophy for a while. I adore goats, but have resisted getting a milk goat, because, well, I'm far more familiar with cows and my first, and main, goat milking experience was helping a friend's auction rescue with the worst case of mastitis ever.
  Oh, it was bad. Take however bad you're thinking and triple it. Half of the poor creature's udder actually turned black and fell off. We saved hr life, and the other half of her udder and she went on to produce for my friend for several years.

  Two things stayed in my mind. One - she hated me. I can't blame her. I tied her down and gave her injections and worked her poor, painful udder while my friend held her still (no small task) and soothed her.
Two - it was all someone's fault. And some point in this poor creatures life, someone had mismanaged her so badly that her teats had "blown" - which is as unpleasant as it sounds. And then, later on, that same or a different someone had decided that milking a high-producing Sannaan was too much like work, and put her out in a field to kid and raise them unmilked. 
  Well, no newborn could nurse from those ginourmous, blown teats, so her kids starved and her udder inflamed and when finally someone noticed they dumped her at the auction.

On reflecting - the experience gave me a fear of putting a goat in the position of running into that someone. Which is silly, really. For one, if I had a milk goat, naturally I would be the someone in charge of her and I'm a pretty good someone for that position.
  But then there's the kids. The sweet little goaty kids with their tiny warm hooves and soft ears and nuzzly kisses. They'd have to be sold. Heaven forbid they get a someone.
   For nearly everything I raise, this doesn't bother me. Well, only a little, because I do the very best for them that I possibly can to be certain they have a good start and good people and then surrender to the fact that life is uncertain (though if I have a teeny inkling you may be a someone - you can go pound sand) And the fact that 95% of the males are meat normally doesn't bother me. But I'm weird about goats, what can I say?

But ... I can't afford a cow. Not to buy and not to feed. Milk is $4 a gallon (AND butter, AND cheese, AND yogurt). And all of my subconscious reluctance to not milk a goat (as I already own goats) are really silly sounding when I write them out this way. Especially since goat milk is delicious. So good. If you haven't had it - you are so missing out.
And here is this beautiful little doe that this fantastic herd is giving me (yes, giving - I nearly fainted) because she has a third teat. Not a huge one like Dryna's, just a little flaw that keeps her from being breeding quality for their herd, but gives me a lovely little family milker-to-be.

Did I mention she's beautiful? All I have to do is think of a name and go pick her up. I'm planning on this weekend at the latest.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy April Fools day!

So, fess, up, what was your best prank, ever?
I've pulled off some doozies - but nothing so far today. I'll have to cook up something good for when Handsome gets home.

My best ever?
I called up my (dear, sweet, long-suffering) mother and said "Mom, I've got a really big problem and I don't know what to do. I need your help."
Worried, she asked "What is it honey?"
"Mom," long pause for effect, "I'm pregnant." I held the phone away from my ear as wild shrieks of joy erupted from it. "Wait! You don't understand! It's not Handsome's."
  Silence dropped like someone had flipped a switch. After a long minute where I wondered if she had dropped the phone I heard a low "What?"
"It's not Handsome's" I repeated. "You know how we've had that friend staying here for a while...."
  My mom stuttered a few times before I continued. Anyone who knows me knows just what a bomb I dropped there. I would never, ever, ever betray someone.
"They don't even look similar. Doogie's real short, Handsome's going to know. I don't know what to do."
  I could sense my mother's shock and outrage swell like a balloon. Before it could burst I let her off the hook. "Happy April Fool's day Mom! I'm a little offended you didn't realize..."
  For the second time I held the phone from my ear as wild shrieks erupted from it - not of joy this time - with a few curses. Finally she calmed down. After breathing hard a few times she said - surprisingly calmly, "That was a good one. I didn't see that coming." A little wistfully she added, "Are you pregnant?"
"No. Still trying. Is Sis there?"
I could hear the wicked glee in my mother's voice "I'll get her. I think she heard me shouting."
"Ok, you gotta stop smiling though. She'll know."
"No, I'll look really mad."
"That would be great! Stand there and fume."
"Ok" I could hear my mother call for my sister. In my mind's eye I could picture her shoving the phone at Sis. "Here. It's your sister." Mom sounded grim and disapproving.
"Hey, what's up?" Sis asked. Trusting fool.
I took a couple of short, hitching breaths into the phone and then said, "Sis, I've got a problem. Mom's really mad at me ... I'm pregnant."
I held the phone away from my ear as wild shrieks of joy erupted from it - then stopped suddenly. "Wait a minute. Why is Mom mad?"
"Well," long pause for effect...