Today I got the back wall up. Need to move quicker as the snow is coming ! Herbie helped a bit today, taught me about torque on the drill. Now I can screw the screws into the hardwood all by myself, and he showed me that sawing the other side down it made a better fit on the back wall.
Herbie went to the Drs today for an ultrasound on his leg. The swelling, redness and hardness in his leg hasn’t gone away :(. Diagnosis - he has deep vein thrombosis in his left thigh above the back of his knee. They gave him 4 Eliquis tablets, but he spat them out. He bleeds often as it is. He jokes that when his blood levels are too high, it’s got to find a way out. They want him on the medication for 3 to 6 months, which he definitely won’t do. The caution to not suddenly stopping taking it, is also concerning. I don’t want him to die.
I’ve been putting lavender oil on the yucky part behind his knee where the blisters popped and got infected, and applied an oil mix to the rest of his leg. He’s wearing a compression hose, and sleeps with 2 compression bandages, 1 above, and 1 below the knee. He was put on antibiotics for the infection, and I apply an antibiotic cream to the back of his knee, but don’t like the quarter-size pus accumulation under the skin. Thought they’d pierce it at the Drs to clear it out, but no, they pick the scabs off !!
I went with him to his appointment on Tuesday, but they wouldn’t let me stay with him, saying it wasn’t allowed in Occupational Health :(.
To say I’m concerned, would be an understatement.
I started it yesterday, and today it rained ALL day. I’m a procrastinator of note, so I know that when I start something, I need to finish it quickly, otherwise I tend to abandon it. Todays’ weather hasn’t helped. But, on the other hand, I somehow pulled my left groin yesterday, and my right knee is so tender it made me cry when I tried to walk to the loo this morning. I’m hobbling around with the brace on my knee, so pottered around doing boring stuff like laundry, dishes, lunch, vacuuming after milking this morning and doing the other farm chores instead.
I measured out what I thought was a decent sized hoop house, and spray painted the ground with luminous yellow spray paint. Couldn’t find the rolls of plastic I bought a long time ago, but went and measured the old wood I bought from a policeman a couple of years back, wood from an old bridge and an old barn. The ends are knotched or have a hole the size of a dollar bill, so they somehow fitted together but I didn’t seemingly get any pieces that actually fit each other. In the shed I found an opened roll of plastic, so thought 14 ft wide x 16 ft long should work. Did the calculations on how much re-bar and PVC piping it’d need, and fittings, bolts, clips etc. Once Herbie was sleeping, I trundled off to Menards in the truck, as 10 ft long pieces of pipe and re-bar would definitely not fit in Noddy.
Then I found the new roll of plastic, 25 ft x 20 ft. So re-did the drawings and calculations, instead of 7 hoops, I’d need 11. Plus I needed thin wall, not thick wall so took the piping back to exchange it. Actually wanted conduit, but the slots for the 1” and 3/4” were empty, so bought 26 x 10 ft long pipes with the fittings to join them.
Yesterday morning, I looked up YouTube to see how to work the plasma cutter. I’d previously only used it under Herbies’ supervision with him doing all the attaching. Easy enough - unplug the geyser in the feed room I use to wash the milking equipment, as it’s the 220 v plug, and plug in the plasma cutter. Attach the air hose, then clamp the piece I’m cutting to ground it, pull the trigger and cut. I marked the 4 pieces of re-bar into 3 ft sections, lifted them off the concrete with wooden blocks, and started cutting. The dogs and cats skedaddled ! I’d moved Sheila with me to the shed, and attached her to a fence post, and she ran and hid in the shed scattering stuff everywhere with the lead. Anni and Lisa took off down the driveway, and the cats ran back to the garage. Have no idea where Rosco went :). Cutting is fun. All the sparks but you don’t need to wear a welding helmet. I struggle to see through the welding helmet, and wearing glasses under it distorts my vision even more. Alas, I’d neglected to update the quantity of re-bar when I’d done the calculations for the larger size. Oh well, will have to wait for the truck so I can go back to Menards. So I had 12 x 3 ft pieces. I went a foot longer as our ground is so clay-ey, I wanted to make sure it was long enough to smack about 2 ft deep. Dragged about 5 pieces of beam to the garden and then couldn’t budge a longer piece I wanted to use as a wall. Went and fetched the buggy and the truckers chain, hooked it up and dragged it into the garden. Unhook and repeat a few times.
Hit 2 pieces of re-bar into the ground at 14 ft, and discovered the 20 ft length of pipe was stretched too far, I wouldn’t be able to walk upright in it. Pulled the one side out the ground and knocked it back in about 3 ft closer to the other one, based on the beam length I was using for the back wall. Better shape and taller than my head. Then spent some time positioning the beams to form the base. Was originally thinking of using my chainsaw to cut them, but decided that was probably not such a great idea, so went a-hunting for the reciprocating saw. Eventually found it, with a buckled metal cutting blade still in it. Herbie had cut part of the tractor to fit the new starter he bought and I’d had to go buy a couple of blades as they were buckling, from the thick metal, or his swearing, I couldn’t say :). Had to figure out how to take the blade out, then found the wood cutting blades, and inserted one. Discovered that it’s impossible to cut old, wet, wood. Also didn’t help that the battery was running low. Maybe the chainsaw would have worked better. Had to pull nails from some of the beams, ancient, square ones ! They were gorgeous and not as hard to pull as some of the huge round ones. Wouldn’t want to hit a nail with a chainsaw though, or even with the reciprocating saw.
Time to bring the cows up, and make something for lunch, or rather dinner. I’d been so busy I hadn’t eaten all day. Made knock-off PFChangs lettuce wraps with the FrankenChicken Brad had smoked for me. Not bad. Herbie had eaten crap all day, so wasn’t really hungry, and even gave me one off his plate.
Had been messaging with Nanette because they’d induced her the previous evening to have her 3rd child. Rory eventually made her way into the world around 4:30 pm.
I never feel ready for the Winters here. It’s as if I’m constantly playing catch-up.
Processed most of the FrankenChickens last week. Hopefully doing the balance on Sunday. Linda is coming to help. Manda was going to come too, but has 4 sick kiddos at home, and she doesn’t want to pass it on to me. So grateful that she doesn’t want me ill too.
We have another herdshare family, Todd and Emily. He’s been over a few times, with their kiddos, a 5-year old girl, June, and the cutest 3-year old twin boys. I haven’t met Emily yet, but did meet Becca when she came to collect their milk on Wednesday. So have 10.5 gallons of milk leaving the farm at present. Had some other enquiries too.
2nd lot of venison biltong is ready, not as salty as the last lot, so think I’m getting the hang of it. If Brad gets a few more deer, maybe I can supply some ex-South African family. Would also like to try some beef again, and make boerewors and dröewors too. As our beef is sooo lean, maybe I could add some sheep fat. That’ll have to wait until January, when our next beef is booked in for processing.
Got some more canning done - pickled beetroot and the venison. Made a pot of stew yesterday with 2 jars, baby Yukon Gold potatoes, lots of carrots, onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes and just a bit of celery I had previously frozen, and then some Bisto. Went great with my creamy, mashed potatoes and a baked Buttercup squash. Also roasted 1/2 a bushel of gorgeous Roma tomatoes to dry them out a little, and they’re currently in the crockpot. Plan on making Tomato Sauce (ketchup). Still want to can some potatoes and the squash.
Was hoping to put my greenhouse up this week, but the cold weather moved in before I found the plastic. Found it today :). Got some treated 2x4s, rebar and additional plumbing piping from Menards for it, drew out my plan, so think I’ll get it done early next week, before I need to process the chickens on Wednesday.
Put tick and flea collars on all 4 of the dogs, but pulled ticks off Sheila and Anni yesterday again. Lisa seemed clear, and I haven’t checked Rosco. Poor Rosco, I didn’t cut his fur this year and he’s matted and felted. Found one on Cooper the other day too. Tux is such a funny girl. After all the scraps of raw chicken and venison they’ve been getting, she wouldn’t eat her canned, wet cat food the other day. Kept running back to me, meowing for raw meat. Spoilt girl. She’s killed and semi eaten at least 2 of my new chickies, but I put chicken wire around the kiddie pool so she can’t get in with them anymore - I hope. I’ve moved their feed bowls to the garage. Once all the layers have been processed, I’ll clean out the chicken house, disinfect it, add some more roosts and block off the rafters, then move them in there. Only issue, we don’t have electricity there anymore. Seemingly, the underground cable had been damaged, probably by my cows walking to and from the pasture to the lower barn everyday. So no lights, nor power for the heated stand for their water.
After last nights’ freeze, there was just over an inch thick ice on the water troughs this morning, all 5 of them. Need to run the extension cords and put out the water de-icers again. Then going to have the tripping of the electricity box :(. Damn, our whole house needs to be rewired. Herbie said the drywall has to be taken down first. Say it isn’t so !!! Our furnace works like a dream, thanks Dad, although the thermostat seems to have a mind of its own. Just had to go downstairs to turn it down again. 76 is far too hot for while we’re sleeping. This morning I had to turn it down as well. Need to find the instructions and re-program it.
I irritated Herbie last week by spending too much at WalMart, buying 5 replacement fire alarms for the house (methinks they expired in Nov 2012 and he just took the last one down as it was pipping), 2 stretchy hosepipes, some thermals for me as well as flannel sleep pants for him so his leg doesn’t goo the bedding, and a bright orange sweatshirt for me and a luminous yellow one for him, so we can walk in the woods and not be shot, as well as the normal shop. The 2 x 100 ft hosepipes have worked great so far, although I can’t just pop them into the water troughs, they shrink. Added a short 5ft normal hosepipe to the end so I can wrap it around a post and don’t have to physically hold it to fill the troughs. When I’m finished, turn off the tap, disattach the small piece and the hose contracts, spewing water as it shrivels. The dogs find it fascinating and I’ve been drenched, twice !! I shouldn’t have to drag 200 ft of hosepipe down the driveway to drain it. Isn’t that a marvelous invention ?? The ends seem rather thin brass though, so think they may not last too long.
Herbies’ leg is on the mend, at last. I mixed an oil for the bruising, swelling and hardness of the whole leg, and sprayed the infected blisters with peroxide, then spread lavender essential oil on it. 2 days of this, and the pus has cleared, it no longer stinks, the scabbing is looking healthy. Massaged his leg with the oil, put gauze over the yucky part behind his knee and wrapped the compression bandage from the knee down. He takes it off when he dresses for work as it hurts when he moves too much. Even his foot is black and blue now. The medical bills are arriving - $5,000 for the Emergency visit, the CAT scan was $2,750 and $62 for the tetanus shot !!! Then another $300 for radiology. Medical is such a rip-off. He’s been back to the other medical Drs 2 or 3 times already, and we haven’t received their bills yet. His cheque this week was about $600 less than usual for the 2 days he didn’t work. It’s not fair. He’s scheduled for a 12-hour work day, but only gets paid for 8 if he takes a personal or sick day. But I’m happy that it’s healing, and he’s not as grumpy. Poor man.
It’s a gray day here in Michigan. When I went to check on the chickies this morning, found this little one just standing still in the middle of the baby pool. Picked it up and discovered a majorly hard poopy bum, and poopy feet ! In the 9 years I’ve had chickens, this is a first. Brought it into the house and put it in warm water to soften the gunk and get it cleaned up. Took it back to the shed, and it’s half the size of the others and they run it upside down so brought it back with me, tucked into my shirt for warmth. Mixed some food with olive oil, ACV and water, but couldn’t get it’s beak open, so did the molasses thing with a bulb syringe. Once it was dry and warmed,took it back out to the shed again. It seemed to be holding its’ own, but I’ll check on it periodically until I go to bed. If it has something wrong with it’s digestive system, it’ll probably die. Including this little one, think I counted 29 from the original 35 or so.
Also found a decapitated chick outside the pool, probably Tuxs’ doing as I had to take her out the pool yesterday again after I couldn’t find her anywhere. She must have snuck in while we were getting the diesel containers :(. Think it’s the 2nd one she’s taken. She is a fierce little thing. All lovey to people, but when it comes to food, and potential food, she’s wild. When we processed chickens, she’d steal a gizzard from the offal bucket, trailing the intestines, and eat it all, then come back for more ! Even Marmalade didn’t do that.
Paid $1,850 to get the big tractor running again, but I don’t see much difference. Got stuck in the veggie garden taking a bale to the bulls, but managed to get myself out by putting feed bags under the wheels after kicking away the built up ridges. Had to go back to the house to get the big torch as there aren’t any lights on this tractor. I struggled to get the 2 bales off the truck, so it was dark by the time I could trundle down the side channel to take the cows a fresh bale. Took the long way around rather than risk getting stuck in the main pasture. It’s been very wet again and the ground is like a heavy, wet sponge. Last night, the truck and tractor wheels made craters across the back lawn.
Herbies leg is still doing poorly. It is black and blue from mid thigh down to his foot. He says the swelling hasn’t gone down, and said yesterday he’s probably going to have to have an operation with a month off work. What ??? He couldn’t take a few days off when it happened to let it heal, started using it the same day, took the compression bandages off because they were hurting him, against the Drs instructions, but seems genuinely surprised that it’s not getting better. Oy !!! What is it with men that they think they have to “tough” it out ? He’s still on the antibiotics to stop any infection from the blisters prescribed by the 2nd place that took the staples out of his head. I have to spend hours getting his bedding clean from all the leaking plasma and blood. His sheets, blanket, duvet cover, pillows and pillow cases, and his long sleep pants I got for him to try prevent it getting on the bedding. He hobbles around, but decided I’d drive the tractor home as working the clutch, together with climbing up and down was too much for his leg. Suppose at least I’m not hurt at present. If we take it in turns, one of us is still able to get things done on the farm. 3pm he got home and went straight to bed, I can hear the TV in his room but keeping his leg elevated is a good thing. Hope he feels better in the morning.
Driving the tractor home yesterday, I got a head start on Herbie as I had stuff to do at home before dark, but ran out of fuel still in view of Craigs’ place. When I returned to Herbie and the tractor after going to fetch Craig, there was another old farmer there, who frowned at me and said I shouldn’t have run out of diesel, it was very bad. Grrrr. I didn’t drive the tractor to be fixed, the gauge doesn’t work, and I don’t usually refuel the 2 tractors as I need a step ladder to get up there, and then the containers are too heavy for me to pour. But, I learnt another thing. Always check the fuel. When I asked Herbie why he didn’t get fuel for it while we were withdrawing the balance of the money from the Speedway, he said he never thought of it !!
Moved Thor into the bulls pasture as I didn’t want him impregnating his 6-month old 1/2 sister. So we have 4 in there, Oliver, a pure Jersey boy, Dollys’ calf from 2 years ago, then the 2 x half Scottish Highlands from last year, Taxes and IRS, from Dolly and Eleanor, this years’ and next years’ beef.
Gus and Tony have settled into the routine of having Daisy May and Eleanor being separated from them at night. But they hover close to them in the pasture and don’t go eat hay in the lower barn enclosure so are all gaunt and hungry in the morning. I wouldn’t get any milk if I didn’t do that. JuneBug, Seasaidh and Ginger keep them company, although Seasaidh has been very vocal recently. She had been in with Gabriel since her first calf was born last Spring, Saffron, but she hasn’t popped a calf this year. Ginger also has a loud shouting mouth, but having just been separated from her mum Immanuelle, I give her a bit of leeway.
Although we we no longer have Buttercup, the loudest sheep, Ruthie seems to have filled those hooves quickly. Also one of the others is very loud and plaintive. Hershey doesn’t baa often, but when he does it’s nearly a guttural sound. One of his sons also has a similar call, not Stan, the nameless one.
I’m down in the dumps :(. Think is must be the repetitive dreariness :(. My get-up-and-go is taking a break.
Have a new hereshare family, another Brad and his wife Becca, whom I haven’t met yet. The raw dairy in Greenville closed after the owners retired, so I’ve had some enquiries.
Brad Courter smoked 2 chickens for me, after I made some dry rubs. One sort of BBQsy with a bit of heat, the other a lemon pepper. I shared them with him. They took longer than he expected, about 4 1/2 hours. I’ve been considering building a smoker here on the farm. Just where to put it, as it’s not something that can be moved once it’s up. Also want to build a domed pizza oven, a farmers’ hot tub and a greenhouse. And Herbie wants to get an outside woodburner, and move the add-on one in our basement to the milk parlour. So many plans swirling around in my noggin. Need to have Herbie show me, again, how to use the plasma cutter, so I can cut rebar to make a covered bed over my herbs before the snow falls. Think my arm is OK to handle my chainsaw to cut the old barn / bridge beams I bought a few years ago.