Saturday, October 25, 2014


To date I am still in a wheelchair and still unable to go outside, take pictures or basically go anywhere else in the house except where I am parked, because this old house is not handicap friendly. The doors are too narrow for the wheelchair to go through and the chair we have rented cannot make it over the thresholds well or across the grass or even the driveway here, so being outside is not an option. In addition to my leg problem, RA has been attacking my wrists, my right one in particular so even trying to type is very painful. I can't do the most basic of self care so there isn't much to write or share.

We are seeing another surgeon as the last one could not work me into his schedule until next MARCH. I'm hoping for surgery as soon as possible, but they tell me it could still take 6 to 8 weeks. That did little for my sense of peace. It's a long time to be imprisoned in this spot.

So, I will try to make the best of it, and I promise to come back and start writing as soon as I can walk again and there is good news and good stuff to share. Until then, thank you all for your support, your friendship and your prayers.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Best Medicine

I’m a ‘do-something’ kind of person. I don’t like sitting around and I don’t like being non-constructive. I don’t see this as a fault, but it must be, because once again God has stirred up my life and has me stretching my faith and focus back on Him.

I’ve been knocked flat again by this painful disease. I was doing so well, with a renewed hope in life, energy and enough function to do a few things that made my days bright and worth living. Then suddenly, for no reason, my leg blew up overnight. Painfully swollen and abnormally large, I called the rheumy and they set me up for an MRI.

After the tests, it basically came back as 7 PARAGRAPHS of what was wrong with all the soft tissue in my knee, such as missing cartilage, torn cartilage, torn cruciate ligament, and subsequent x rays showed the bone situation not much better. A knee cap that is almost non existent and a joint that is worn, bone on bone. It all has to be replaced. I’ve been living with it for awhile, but with chronic pain and auto immune disease you tend to push away whatever pain isn’t stopping you. It's stopping me now.

I had two end-of-the-year visits that were important to me coming up and wanted to be as mobile as possible. I submitted to an injection in my joint in spite of my phobia and fear, just because it was that important. Unfortunately, I am the one in a million that reacts to that particular injection. Two days later I was in the emergency  hospital, screaming in pain, panicked because there was no relief, while suffering undergoing a live guided effusion, where a large needle was put into my joint to extract what was causing the reaction. I can’t even begin to describe how awful that was.

I had minimal relief, but maximum hope as they had me on morphine and Percocet to try and get the pain under control, pain exacerbated by the additional trauma of the effusion...I actually had several hours of rest and relief before I was informed that due to ACA’s ‘new guidelines’ I was not eligible for hospitalization and was forcibly discharged. Things have not improved much, other than I don’t panic right now. I’m tied to a recliner with my leg up, constant ice packs on it, unable to perform the most menial task in self care. I’ve been told the effects usually only last a couple of days but we are going on 2 weeks now, without noticeable improvement. I cannot visit the sheep, SushiMoo, the chickens, or even go watch the ducks in the yard because I have to have the leg elevated at all times or the pain is excruciating. My only view is a blank TV screen and a small window that looks out on a rock wall. Not too stimulating.

TheMan, as usual, has been amazing. He comes home every 4-6 hours to push me into the bathroom via my new rollie-walker, or bring me pain pills or lemonade. He’s taking care of the animals and lets the Maremma’s in for awhile each night because he knows I need their attention and I can usually relieve a lot of the agonizing loneliness and frustration by returning the shamelessly affectionate Potamus hugs.

He’s had to fix our broken washing machine and do laundry, feed us both and try to keep things picked up because we have very special visitors coming and I am usually darting around planning menus and what fun things there might be with the kids. It’s hard to just let go and trust, and it must be really hard for him to try and do all he does, while working his regular 24/7 job here, while I pine away in the chair unable to assist with anything, anything at all. He sets his alarm at night to wake up and make sure I’ve taken my pain medication, trying to stay ahead of it, hoping we’ll win. I know both from past experience and from knowing the limitlessness of God’s power, that this could all turn around in the blink of an eye. I am holding out hope that is what will happen and I can watch my granddaughters when they first see our ducks, waggling their tails and squawking as they line up for their turn in the ‘pool’. I draw on memories of past visits.

I want to see their faces when the Maremma’s come to greet them as they never seem to forget them from year to year. 

I long to see them giggle and pet on Captain Marbles when his curiosity gets to be too much and to see if SushiMoo can replace our dear Emma in their hearts.

 I feel laughter bubbling up in my chest as I visualize them trying to negotiate the meatie chick’s area while the fat, happy birds mug them, hoping for a handout.

 All this and so much more, but I also am trying to prepare myself to accept not getting better, and not being able to get up. My counterpart, the girls’ other grandma, will be coming too and that will surely ease things, as she is a precious, jolly woman who will help me, if necessary, being my hands and feet. She already plays this role as she lives closeby to them and we are so far away we only get to see them once or twice a year. She has loved them for me, and made my son’s family complete, even though we are absent. I know it is going to be a great time despite my current disability, because she loves to laugh. I am looking forward to my time just being around here as we try to navigate this week together. I want to see my kids and grandkids. I want them to have fun. I want this trip to be memorable because they had such a good time. Even if my role is nothing but observer.

 I am forever grateful for what she brings into their lives, especially because I can’t. Maybe that is what this lesson is about. Can’t. I hate the word and hate the idea of what it represents. But clearly, there are things I can’t do. Many. Hundreds. Thousands even. Nothing is really in my power, so I have to lean on the One who can and ask Him to see to it that the love I have for them will be expressed to them someway, even without my presence. Through life, through opportunity, through others, through Himself.

Pretty much as He has been doing for me, loving me through TheMan, our family, our ranch family and even my online family. During this same period, a Celebration of Life for my Sister in law will be going on down south. She was the only family member with this same disease (well almost the same. I guess being so type "A" I had to add complications to mine) We lost her over Easter. She was pretty much a role model of living this nightmare with courage and grace, with a heart for others that always grew bigger than her own suffering. I regret that I cannot be there for her memorial, but if anyone understands, it would be her. The time withour living family here is not to be taken lightly and every minute we are given to share with them is priceless.

Though right now it feels that everything has been taken, much is given. Let me not forget that, once I am restored…which I hope is very, very soon. 

I will see part of my family in just a couple more days, and that, is going to be the best medicine.

PS  Please pray for a wheelchair for me during this visit. The chances are I will still not be able to stand, but a real wheelchair would at least allow me into the kitchen to help out and to the back deck where I can at least see them all from afar...

Friday, September 5, 2014

Taking the Good with the Bad-Or a Spoonful of Brandy helps the Medicine Go Down...

It's been a tough year and this month was no exception.

Most of the month has been spent with my leg up as my knee has been painfully swollen from an auto-immune attack. Never the less, good things have come.

There has been some bounty from the garden. Lots of blackberries are in the freezer and corn, patty pan, yellow crookneck and zucchini squash has been a staple of my diet lately.

Sushi doesn't make much milk, but she's a good mama and I don't have to worry about putting another calf on her because she neither makes more than her calf can handle, nor does she need copious amounts of feed to sustain herself. What little milk I have gotten from her has been wonderful and much appreciated.

Due to health issues, EmmaLouMoo will be leaving the ranch. I have shed many tears over this, but there is nothing to be done for her. She has been a good friend and served us well, providing us with both diary products and beef for the freezer. I will miss her greatly.

Some sunflowers have come up. I put in a couple of different kinds this year and I like the variety. One has just a fringe of petals and the other looks like a big pom pom. Unfortunately, the wind knocked it over the same night it broke the two largest branches off of my peach tree.

I still am going to get a bumper crop of peaches, however. In spite of thinning fruit all summer, there are more peaches on the tree than I will probably know what to do with, but I plan to put up pie filling, jams, syrup and sliced peaches for the winter. I'm very happy to have them.

The ducklings have grown a LOT and are having a great time running around the back yard. They spend every evening debugging the lawn and it never ceases to amuse me the way they do everything in a little line, talking all the while. It looks as though 3 of the 4 Khaki Campbells which I got for eggs, are hens and the fourth is a drake. He is also blind, so goes by the name of "Magoo". The other four ducks I'm not sure of yet.

Standing in line for the bath tub…

 The meaties have grown enough to come out of the brooder and are also enjoying running around the backyard, playing in the tall bushes and catching bugs. They are energetic and healthy, unlike so many of the CornishX that folks raise in pens or small areas. Ours only get a bit of grow ration for breakfast and dinner and have to fend for themselves the rest of the day. We always process at 8 weeks and most of our broilers are 6 lb in the freezer.

The Breakfast Buffet

It's been great to have the Maremmas back at work. They have been busy trying to re-establish boundaries that the predators dare not cross. For now that covers about 40 acres instead of the couple of miles they used to patrol and control. After the BAD trapper (we also have a good trapper but this guy was NOT) injured Potamus by trapping where he was told absolutely  not to, I've pretty much lost faith in people, period. Between that and the wolves moving this way which put them in peril, I've decided we need to have complete control over where the dogs can go, so for now, the radio fence is allowing them to move from pasture to pasture where they need to be to protect the sheep, calves and our poultry. Once the wolves get to the ranch, greater changes will have to be made, because I won't risk their lives over  a handful of sheep when there is little chance they would survive an encounter.

And more bad news this morning….

It is with a heavy heart we regret to inform you that Sourdough Sam passed away due to neglect during my long bout with knee trouble this past month. 

He has willed his humble abode to his youngest heir, Sammy, who has come out of dry freezer storage and is currently being rehydrated. 

Small giggling bubbles from Sammy this morning, hoping for full blown belly laughs by Mon. RIP Sam. Your memory and all the joy you gave and pounds you donated to my hips via my lips, will live on.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, a purchase from Sam's favorite store, Ranch Rustics would be appreciated.

Have a great weekend, keep smiling, and God bless you!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

As it goes...

At last the radio fencing is complete and the Polarbears are back on duty. The sheep were ecstatic to see them and it wasn’t a day too soon, as I went out to visit, just in time to see them go after an ENORMOUS coyote that was headed for the sheep. 

Sushi had her calf the next day. It’s a little heifer and she did a great job. She delivered her with no problems and mothered up like an old pro. She was protective of the baby without being aggressive towards me. I separated her and the baby into the alleyway that runs between the 3 pastures. There is plenty of feed there, but she can’t hide the baby away from me or make it impossible to move her to the milk room...which is my biggest challenge. She DOES. NOT. WANT. TO. GO.  I have no idea why she is so reluctant to go there, with or without the heifer. She has had only good experiences there and knows she gets goodies, but it’s a rodeo every morning. The odd thing is, once she is there and locked into the stanchion, she is perfectly behaved. In fact, she is the best and easiest cow I have ever milked. She never moves her feet, swishes her tail or anything. I don’t get much for my efforts though. A half gallon is the most she lets me have, although she has not yet ‘let down’. This is both good and bad. Good, because it means when I have a flare and cannot get to the milk room, it is safe to just skip that day. Bad because...well...we don’t get much milk for ourselves. That might improve though, once the baby is old enough to lock in for the night.

Meanwhile, the coyotes were attracted to the small amount of blood in the pasture from Sushi’s calving. The Maremmas were especially active that night and the subsequent couple of nights, but being back on duty has effectively repelled the coyotes and the calf and sheep are safe.

The ducks are quite large now and I hope will start laying eggs in the next couple of months. The 40 meatie chicks will be residing in the shed with them in another week or so. 

I’ve been dying to ride all summer. Mister has finally put the weight back on that he lost being in with the cavvy, and the swelling and bruises on his body from their attacks on him have all but disappeared.  

Because of SushiMoo's reluctance to go into the milk room every morning I used him to force her in a couple of times. It seems that she, like myself, is just NOT a morning person. We fight and push and cajole to get her in the stanchion, but in the evenings, she is waiting at the gate and once it is opened, she races to the milk room and into the stanchion of her own volition.

For now, I am healing up from an autoimmune attack on my leg. I spent the better part of a week with a very painful knee, the size of a watermelon. The swelling is down now and I am simply trying to recover the strength to get back at it. Luckily, sales were slow last week and there is plenty of inventory in both Soaps and Whipped Tallow for sale in the Etsy shop

EmmaLou was out cruising around….ever the ham…

The garden is finally giving me veggies….

And Potamus is surrounded by his sheeple, a very happy guy.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Short N Sweet

Not a lot has been going on. SushiMoo should calve sometime in August and I am hoping I will be up to milking her twice a day and put her calf on a bottle for the most part as I need the milk. EmmaLouMoo will likely go up for sale at that time as I just cannot afford to feed two cows through the winter and I can't budget feeding the copious amounts of supplements Em needs to maintain her weight. We just don't need 7 gallons of milk a day… I'm gonna miss her sweet face though.

There are several fires going again this summer, not terribly unusual as there are often lightening strikes in the summer that start the sagebrush aflame. Most of the ranch is gone fighting fire, with the heavy equipment from here. One night a drunk driver took the boss' semi truck head on. I heard the driver was going close to 100 mph while trying to pass another car. It destroyed the boss' truck but fortunately, the boss was not injured. That's not the case for the driver who hit him however. Please let this be a reminder to all of you, there is no excuse for drinking and driving and nothing is important enough to make risky passings on the road. Life is fragile and can be gone in a second. We are grateful the boss is ok, and that no other innocent person was injured in the wreck. We are very sorry for the driver and his family, for what they must be going through.

TheMan is home, running the pivots and fixing equipment. I'm hoping against hope that he will be able to help me finish the mile of dog fencing as I really need to get the Maremmas back out with the sheep where they belong.

He bought the rest of the cavvy in from across the road...

The ducks are nearly fully feathered now and having a good time playing outside in the grass and water and are slowly getting used to us and the dogs. Bruno has opted to stay outside and keep an eye on them, as something got one of the guineas the other night when the dogs were inside.

Potamus, on the other hand, is an aspiring couch potato and slyly stretches his feet out towards me to let me know he is here and no one is petting him…he thinks that little issue should be amended.

My time has been spent pulling weeds, putting down mulch in the garden, feeding critters when I can, and filling orders. I also made a 'by request' soap. It is a beer soap scrub with Lemongrass&Poppyseed and ground luffa. It should be really nice and will be for sale in the shop in another week or so. Look for it there. Ranch Rustics Handcrafted Soaps

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wild Wild Weekend

We had esteemed visitors last weekend. My brother, who has never been here before came up to see us. He is the only one of my childhood family that will ever be here, so it was pretty exciting. We’ve had many losses over the past couple of years and I don’t see either of my citybred sisters wanting to experience ranch life. He brought his nifty little Ranger ATV that carries 4 people easily so it was pretty fun because I got to go everywhere with him. My niece and nephew came up the day after his arrival so it was exponentially more fun. Usually I pretty much stay at the house while everyone does there thing and get to enjoy their company at meal times. Feeding them good, at least, is something I can do most of the time. We still managed to eat pretty well, even though I was gone most of the day.  The night he got here we had some lambchops, brown rice and Arkansas green beans, along with a salad and homemade bleu cheese dressing. It was a good start.

The first morning I got up early for me, as I knew he is a very early riser, waking about 4:30 each day. The cowboys were sorting and shipping cattle on the other side of our rock wall in the big corral and I thought he might like to watch. I ran over to the cabin he stayed in and knocked, but no answer. I tried the door and was surprised to find it locked...not so much that I found it odd he would lock a front door, as living in the city, it would be a natural habit, but surprised that one of the buildings on the ranch HAD a locking door! I took some pics of the cowboys working for him. 

Eventually he staggered out of bed 5 hours later than usual surprised he could sleep so long. I think the lack of sounds had something to do with it. Just another one of the perks living so far from he was situated in probably the ONLY place on the ranch one doesn’t hear my rooster.

We ran up the mountain to the weir, which is always an amazing view. After bouncing off of the rocks on the way up and the way back we went to see the pivots going in across the ranch. It took most of the day with TheMan driving and answering all the technical Y-chromosome questions while I sat in the back seat enjoying the scenery. We drove out to the processing corrals and passed a pair of pheasants, which are always beautiful to see.

We brought the sheeple in, locked up the calves so I could milk EmmaLouMoo in the morning, gathered eggs, picked some strawberries and raspberries and BBq’d steak for dinner. My niece and nephew arrived that evening.

The next day, the kids wanted to ride their dirt bikes so we went North of the ranch headquarters back into the canyon. Just after we passed a natural hotspring we looked back to see a cloud of dust moving along the edge of the mountain. We stopped and as the breeze changed and the dust reorganized we saw a herd of wild mustangs that passed us up. They stopped after awhile and we pulled ahead of them so we wouldn’t be pushing them as it is a drought year and we were afraid they might be searching for water and it was a very warm day. They began running again, catching up to us once more. We stopped again and they continued on, crossing the dirt road right behind us, then pulling up ahead to charge into the valley for which we’d been heading. We could hear their hoofbeats and almost feel the thundering in the ground, even though it was a small herd of only 13 horses. We decided to turn around so as not to excite them, but not before we got a few pictures. I think it was probably the highlight of the trip as it’s not something you see everyday.

The last day we went out on the dry lakebed. There is no way to describe how vast it is in size, except to say they set the women's land speed record there in the 60's in excess of 500 mph. The views are astonishing and camera shots cannot do them justice. All in all, I think it was a pretty good first trip.

We made Boule Bread and 4 loaves of Sourdough so the kids know how that is done. I had the bathrooms stocked with Ranch Rustics Soaps and Whipped Tallow which came in handy after being out in the dust and dirt all day.  They all purchased a dozen or so soaps to take with them. 

I fattened them up with Sourdough/Buttermilk Waffles made with homemilled wheat flour and some BIG dinners, and the "Coup de Grace" was  Beef Kebabs followed by Bananas FlambĂ© on homemade crepes with homemade vanilla ice cream on top. Ahhhhh….Sorry, we were in too big of a hurry to eat them to take any pictures for you.

 I suspect they will all be back. I'll be looking forward to it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Duck Whisperer

It seems as though we are going to town every month right now, which is WAY too often to suit me. But, the upside is, we get to listen to a book tape, eat in a fancy restaurant and...bring home DUCKS! My online friends keep telling me how duck eggs are superior to chicken eggs, as far as being larger, richer and making amazingly fluffy baked goods, so I broke down and decided to try some, Our egg laying flock is getting geriatric and this might be their last year so we had to replace them with SOMEthing. The good news is, ducks don’t crow, they don’t eat much commercial feed as they love to forage on grasses and bugs and can be very friendly. The downside is, they are pretty dirty. I picked up 4 Khaki Campbells as they are supposed to be good egg layers, 2 Indian Runner ducks just for fun, because it cracks me up to look at them with their upright stance and long necks, and 2 Roeuns which are supposed to be superior meat birds and great mosquitoe eaters. We shall see. 

The first night home, a moth got in while we were dragging a water trough in to use as a brooder. It was flitting around their heat light and 2 of them JUMPED UP IN THE AIR. One successfully snatched it and the 8 of them went to feasting. It was nearly as big as they were. I found it impressive.

One of the ranch mechanics who works with TheMan came by last night. He likes EmmaLouMoo’s milk so we have worked out a deal whereby he will milk her a couple of times a week for me and we will split the milk. I guess he drinks a gallon a day all by himself. I throw a loaf of fresh bread at him now and then also, and in return he occasionally prods TheMan to help with some chores around here, by pitching in himself. I really do appreciate it.

 Last night he came in to see the ducklings. He picked up every single one and held it until they were mesmerized. Who knew there was such a thing as a “Duck Whisperer”? 

Today, they were all much calmer. Now I will admit I have been handling them every day to help them get used to us, but I haven’t had half the response he had. I guess some folks just have a gift. My Grampa was like that. People would lose pets and they would all wind up at our house, in his room out back. Parakeets and pigeons would fly in his open glass door and perch on his chair or shoulder. It was just weird, but I, of course, loved it. He was quite a guy.

I had a couple of red letter days last week and went riding. Mister is losing weight out with the cavvy, so he gets to come in for supplements. He’s the only horse I know that can lose weight on 200 acres of grass. During one of our treks we saw no less than 6 coyotes cross our path, one of which was enormous. I think it is the biggest coyote I’ve ever seen.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I got  3 heads of iceburg and 6 heads of romaine lettuce torn up and jarred for salads for the next couple of months. I have mentioned in past blogs that using an attachment for the vacuum sealer will keep the lettuce fresh for 6-8 weeks this way, as long as you reseal the jar if you don’t use it all up. We eat pretty good when we first get back from town as we get to feast on all the stuff that won’t last so long. Today was fresh avocado and bacon sandwiches on homemade sourdough bread with salad on the side. It was delish.

The next order of business will be to get the rest of the radio fence up so the Maremmas can be back out with their sheep. It won't be soon enough for me. Meanwhile, they've taken over the house.

Never a dull moment.