House cleaning is like stringing beads with no knot at the end of the thread.

"Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods." -Ezra Taft Benson-

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Have you thought about it?

Ok, so I was thinking today.. which is odd with this pregnancy brain thing... not the thinking part, but me remembering what I was thinking about. So I figured it must be something I need to ask, or start a discussion about.

How ready are you medically if..... power outage, tornado, tsunami (yes we get them here!!), earthquake, eruption (most likely Rainier or St. Helens), hell freezes over (oh wait, Hell, Michigan DID freeze this year!!, not sure about Hell, Belize), car accident, tree falls on a bedroom during the night, windstorm, civil war, severe heat...

What kinds of injuries??? drowning, puncture wounds, broken bones, dislocated joints, severe breathing difficulties, severe cold, severe heat, dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, births, deaths...

Granted I am not sure what the future brings, or in what order things will happen. But I do know there is the possibility that we will be needed to help OR that we may need the help that is offered.

In our family we have had:

a near drowning
broken elbow
broken ankle
broken wrist
broken arms
broken legs (2 at once on same kid!!)
broken nose (severe, had to put it back in place!!)
stitches on the face (he fell in sunday school and face vs. metal chair.. not fun)
stitches on an arm (glass lamp fell and a piece cut her arm)
stitches on face (sibling tossed a toy over couch, hit sister in face, required 5 stitches!)
SEVERE asthmatic attacks (3 of us here)
appendicitis (2 kids in 6 weeks!!)
kidney stones
medication reactions
animal emergencies (animals hit by cars, no we did not take the chicken to vet!)
BURNS (fresh aloe and raw honey are a blessing!!)

Will you fight or flight? Will you freak or be calm? Will you be a help or a hinderance?

Are you able to help yourself and or those around you medically? Do you know how to clean and treat a burn? Do you know how to determine the difference between a sprain and a break? Do you know for sure how to set a break? Do you have what is needed to clean wounds? Set a fracture? Treat allergic reactions? Do you know how to do a compression bandage? Do you know what a concussion looks like? How about dehydration? A stroke? A heart attack? Labored breathing? Internal bleeding?

Do you have:

ace bandages (regular AND latex free)
cotton bandages
cotton gauze
medical tapes
triple antibiotic ointment
fresh aloe
raw honey
cotton wraps
splints for fingers, wrists, arms, legs, ankles
benedryl (liquid and pill form)
ibuprofen (not to be used on people taking coumadin or warfarin)
aspirin (not to be used on people taking coumadin or warfarin)
isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
hydrogen peroxide
bentonite clay (aka Redmond Clay)
thermometer (non-electric or non-battery powered, an oral and rectal)
EXTRA prescription medications and mode of taking them (inhaler, nebulizer, syringe)

In our emergency bug out bags we have an epi-pen, nebulizer with 3 new neb cups and masks, albuterol, tylonal, ibuprofen, benedryl liquid and pills, bacitracin, gauze, paper tape, tegaderm, coban (non-latex), gauze rolls, ace bandages (2 and 3-inch), bandaids (for those who can use them), alcohold swabs, tweezers, scissors, and a couple of other things. Yes we have bugged out during a flood. No we didn't have to use anything in our BOBs. YES, I replace medications whenever I get a refill of a medication so as to always have fresh meds in my kits.

Being prepared is not just your larder, it is so very much more! So here is something to think about, possibly open a discussion about. But it has been on my mind and I had to share it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

True Free Ranging Chickens

Oh my goodness, I was looking out the window and noticed a light colored circle in the back yard. I am not permitted to rake or much of anything right now. I hate confinement. What a pain in the arse. BUT, I know my chickens have been busy turning up the moss..

If you notice the lighter colored area, that is all moss. Just after I noticed the circle a few minutes ago, all of a sudden 8 hens and the rooster came running over to it. So I got a few shots of them working. I love it!
I could watch the chickens working for hours. They are funny. They will get all excited about one area and be there for a while. Then wander off, then like a ADHD person, remember it and come running back to a spot.
This is our white silkie rescue rooster. Yes a bantam, but he seems to be servicing ok, according to DH. That is one of his hens that will snuggle with him at night.

So I should probably tell the reason why my chickens free range. Aluminum. What?! Aluminum in their commercial feed. WHAT?!?!  YUP. I had some blood work done last year and they found my aluminum levels dangerously high. Well after I did some investigating online, I discovered a family in Utah suffering from aluminum poisoning also. Turns out, they linked it to the eggs they were eating. Their chickens were not let out, they were only fed bagged feed. Well, their feed was tested and turns out it has aluminum in it. AND the FDA has approved this practice!
As most know, whatever an animal eats, that is what is in its meat. .or in this case meat and eggs. Well, I didn't have to worry about eggs during winter as they stop laying for 2 months, but during this time, we finished using up our feed in bag and as usual still gave them kitchen scraps. And we kept them cooped during winter due to all the rain. Wet chickens are pathetic and they take shelter where they can find it when it rains hard, including on my front porch! YUCK!  I don't like chicken shiz. It stinks, it sticks, and it is slippery!

So, when the feed was gone, I started giving them some of my grains that seemed to be starting to turn a little rancid. And yes, still giving them chickens scraps daily. They actually liked this better! They started eating better, had more energy, and started scratching more.

Finally the rains let up enough to let them out. They followed me as I shook the grain container, and we went to a mossy patch somewhere on the property where I would sprinkle the grain. And they would find every morsel, and bugs and other fun things to eat. Including WEEDS!!  Hurray!! The best part? The eggs have rich dark orange yolks, and the eggs taste amazing! The flavor is just amazing!

Chickens love to forage. Really they do, and they get all excited when you turn a log over for them. My goodness, they all dive in! The one downside to free ranging is if you have inexperienced hens, they will lay in the yard and cover their egg to keep it safe. Fortunately with this group of 3 year olds, they run to the hen house and lay there. BUT....
The new ones won't have that luxury. Well, they will, BUT they will be in a tractor for their first summer/fall. Why? Because they lay and cover the eggs. These guys will have to learn to use the nest box. Which we will provide in their tractor. This is simply done with a covered cat litter box. Chickens like to lay in a dark quiet spot, so the covered litter box with bedding in it is perfect. AND this way we don't have to carefully rake where they were tractored to in order to collect eggs.

We are excited for our replacement flock. The one above is a california white. They are popular in Canada for their winter laying. So I am excited. Although with most chickens their first year, they still lay in winter. These are white eggers. We haven't done white eggers before. We always have Americaunas which lay green eggs, and then some sort of brown eggers as well. This year we are doing Americaunas, Buff Orpingtons (dual purpose) and California Whites. I am hoping one of the buffs is a rooster so we can hatch out our own chicks for meat. But we'll see. I don't want to order meat only breeds because I want the eggs too. We go through a lot of eggs here.

Trying to be self sustaining is hard, you have to sustain it! Gardens, animals, home.. wow.. but you know, if my ancestors could do it without power.. I can definitely do it with power, and then if I have to, I can do it  without. Either way, it makes me much more comfortable knowing how to do what I am learning.

We have been doing chickens for 12 years now. WOW, 12 years!! I have butchered chickens, I have cooked chicken, and we have collected hundreds and hundreds of eggs. And we love it!

Amber's Garden

It is finally done! It took a year! But we have finally finished Amber's Garden. Here is Amber:
Here is the only picture I can find of Amber's Garden BEFORE renovation:

To the right of the tractor you see a giant rhododendron. That is one of five rhodies! You can't see the one Amber liked to lay under, it is next to the tractor, behind the giant one. This garden is in front of our home.

Amber loved her kids, loved her family, loved to watch the kids outside, play in the snow, snuggle. She was truly a part of our family. And on hot days, she would go down to the creek, get wet, then come up to the front garden, dig under the rhody and cool off. HER SPOT. Amber's Garden.

Amber loved to be outside, watching the kids, watching what was going on. She loved being with her family. In this photo she looks tired. She looks tired because it has been an exhausting day! Playing in the creek with kids, kids running every direction, cars coming and going. Lots going on in the farmette.

Here she is with her treat for a hard long day of watching children and goings on. She loved carrots! If you asked her if she wanted a carrot, her eyes would dilate and she would go sit by the fridge waiting for it. Yes her bed is in a crate, she actually preferred it, as she suffered from anxiety when we weren't home. She felt safe here, we called it her cave. OH, and YES, she used both front paws to make the carrot stand up so it was easier to eat!!!

Ever diligent about being with her kids outside! She was hit by a car one summer, and so enjoyed it when it snowed, she would go outside and rest the injured hip in the snow, and you could here her groan with delight! She would also wade out into the river in summer as the water was extremely cold and soak her hip.
Amber came to us a rescue from an abusive home. She was not even a year old yet. She was one of the biggest best blessings given to us! After a year, you could not tell she had been abused. She didn't trust men she didn't know. And in fact took a bit to warm up to DH. She would walk on his toes, she would step on his feet. It wasn't until the earthquake we had  3 weeks after we got her that she learned to trust DH. I worked her hard with training. I worked her hard with exercise as well. She loved to play, and we both lost weight together (which helped her shoulder injury from her abuse).
She learned that  chickens were not toys, she learned not to go into the road. She learned that kids were fabulous. She had never been around kids when I got her, but she LOVED all the attention! Brushing, petting, playing.. And we loved doing it with her and for her.

Amber passed away in April of 2012. It was painful, it was hard, it was peaceful, it was our last gift to her. No more pain. Her last few months she was diagnosed with diabetes, and no matter what we did she kept losing weight. Her body was failing her, but her mind wasn't ready. I finally made the decision, and we had a family meeting and let everyone know that it wasn't fair to Amber to make her hold on for us. So we said our goodbyes, and our beloved veterinarian came over and helped Amber to cross over.
Oh it was painful, but at the same time it was gentle. It was so hard, but seeing her in pain and suffering was harder.
She was there for everyone. Including our other rescues. If she let you out of the the car and let you talk with me or DH, you could come in the house. But if she stepped between the person and us. There was NO GO. I trusted my Amber and she knew a person's true spirit, and I will always be thankful for her watchful guard. 

This is Amber's final resting place.

She is buried under her favorite rhody.

This will be our cold garden.

Lettuces, spinach, kale, chard, peas & cabbages

Looking through the tunnel to the rhody.

I will be making a sign for Amber's Garden. It will go on the old totem pole support. We all miss Amber so much, but we wanted her place to be nice. When she passed away it was being neglected, lots of weeds and such. We took out all the rhodies except Amber's. We just moved them out of this garden. They are to the left of her garden, in a row.

In honor of Amber, this will be our four season garden. Why? Because no matter what she was there for us. And she is still talked about as if she is still walking beside us.

What have you done in your garden today?