Mishaps, Rescues, and a new calf

     On Thanksgiving day I noticed Abby wasn’t with her mother and brother. I really didn’t think much of it. It wouldn’t have been the first time a baby was left sleeping next to a tree while everyone else moved off only to wake up bleating for it’s mom once it realized it was alone. Still, as I fed the other animals I called to the goats and I never heard her cry out. I decided to make a quick look around even though I didn’t have time because everyone was loading up to celebrate Thanksgiving with relatives. I continued to call out while I walked the area. I noticed something dark hanging in a fallen dead cedar. At first I thought it was just a bag or something the dogs had brought home. As I got closer I could tell it was Abby. She wasn’t making a sound nor was she moving. I thought she was dead until I got close enough to see she was holding her head up. She had been playing on the down tree and slipped catching her leg between the limbs and there she hung, front feet barely touching the ground. I got her out and checked her over. Nothing appeared to be broken but she wasn’t using the leg at first.

     Over the next few days she began to put some weight on it. I still caught her a few times and checked for any sign of a break but everything felt fine. Then this last weekend I noticed I noticed she wasn’t using it at all and it appeared to be swinging unusually. I checked and it was obviously broke above the ankle. Last night with Lisa’s help we put a splint on it. Either the swelling was keeping me from noticing the break or it may have been cracked and something caused it to break after she started using it again. Either way she will be fine in a week or so.

     For a few weeks now we have been feeding some dropped off cats and kittens at the local dump. We decided to take in the remaining kittens this weekend. No we didn’t need anymore cats but one of the kittens was sick and we couldn’t leave it like that. I started putting some antibiotics in their water but the sick one continued to get worse rather than better. So it went to the vet for some stronger medicine. One day and the rattle in it purr is gone. We will keep them in a dog kennel in the barn for a week or two and then open the door and let them be barn cats. Hopefully they will stay. The last two we had at the barn left after about a year and decided they liked living around the house better.

     Last week our oldest grandson Jacob found a baby squirrel. He named it Brandi. It was kind of beat up so it was placed in a cage outside until I had a chance to look at it. It was obvious to me that it was much younger than anyone else thought so I put it in a bird cage in the house with some old rags to burrow in. We have been feeding it with a syringe and a special nipple. Yesterday was the first time we have seen her out climbing around the cage. I have no idea what we are going to do with her if she can’t be released. One of her front feet/wrist may be broken. Hope it heals well. Time will tell.

     Olive had her calf yesterday in a rainstorm. I think it is a little heifer but I haven’t gotten close enough to be 100% sure. The pictures are not that good because the rain was reflecting some of the flash making them look darker. Plus you can see the rain streaking the pictures. I’ll get better pictures later. I’ll go back to milking in a couple days. NO MORE STORE BOUGHT MILK and CHEESE!!!

Lastly here is a picture of Jacob cleaning up around our little barn and refilling the compost bins. He likes driving the tractor.

New kids on the farm

No, not that kind. Timmy and Annie finally got it right and Annie gave us a little buck and doe about two weeks ago. Sorry Anut Dru never got to see them. She always enjoyed seeing the new babies when we had them. Andy has standard ears like Annie and Abby has the little elf ears like Timmy.

A terrible loss to the family and community.

It is with great sadness that I write this. We lost our sweet Aunt Dru a 8 days ago. She was 93 years old and will be missed by all who knew her. She is no longer in pain as that was her normal condition over the last few months. There is no doubt that she is in heaven with her friends and family that preceded her. If Aunt Dru didn’t have a place in heaven waiting for her, the rest of us don’t even have a chance.

I love and miss you Aunt Dru.

I fully expect to never again see most of the family who were at the funeral as well as those that were unable to attend. Aunt Dru was the last person who connected the three branches of the family and the only reason that most ever got together. Family would gather at her house from all parts of the country on her birthday and some at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and on Independence Day. Over the next few months as the family goes through the painful process of sorting through her things, deciding what to keep and what to part with may be the last time we have together. It’s just the sad reality of families being spread across the country and none interested in the country life. There is a very small chance that the property will remain in the family. Most likely it will be sold off like all the rest. I just pray it goes to someone who wants it for the farm/homestead potential and not a developer who just wants to turn it into trailer lots or a subdivision of tiny lots.

Growing Family

When we were stationed in GA back in the late 80’s we went through the adoption process. All the classes, home visits, etc,… We were looking at a set of twins at the time. By the time we were approved as an adoptive family the twins were no longer available. Shortly after that I got orders to Alaska. That put an end to any possibility of adopting in GA. The process was completely different in AK so we didn’t start over. In GA they had a book, yes a book as this was before the Internet, anyway this book had pictures of the available children and a brief biography along with a statement from the child. There was this one young lady in there that pulled at our heart. To this day I can’t tell you what race she was or anything about her other than she was about 17 years old and getting close to leaving the Foster Care system. The one thing that I remember because it was burned into my heart and mind is what she said. “All I want is some place to go home to for Christmas” That one statement has almost haunted me over the years. From time to time I have checked the state adoption sights. Lisa and I have discussed adoption again several times but one or the other wasn’t sure we wanted to jump back in and start over.

That changed a little over a month ago. The misfortune of a little girl out of state and the possibility of a private adoption rekindled our desire to adopt. The little girl that gave life back to our desire for more children ended up in foster care before we could act. So, we have started going through the process of in state adoptions. Our first of 10 classes was last night. It went very well. We are looking for hard to place kids, older with multiple siblings. There is one set of siblings that we have really connected with even though all we have is website pictures and short videos. Lord willing everything will work out and we will be able to bring them into our home but we have several months to go before approval as adoptive parents. Anything can happen. They could very easily get adopted by someone else or there could be something that we don’t know about yet that would make us a poor match. Time will tell. The one thing I know is there are a lot of kids on the website that need a home and we will be able to help someone once we get through the process.

In the mean time we turned our open loft into a third bedroom and two small offices. Here are the pictures.

Original loft space.

Here is some of the construction.

And here is the finished space.

This is the first computer area at the top of the stairs between the bedrooms.

This is looking into the new bedroom.

The other side of the new room.

Looking down the walk to Lisa’s home office. More like a cubbyhole but she just wanted a desk, phone, internet connection and the window.

The remodel turned out pretty good I think. It may take a while for my sinuses to get over all the sheet rock dust but that’s a small price to pay. I can’t thank a good friend Toby enough for his help and guidance. We now have two extra bedrooms waiting for someone to fill them. Our oldest son and grandsons will use the space for a while while they get resettled as they move from Alaska.

If all goes as planned we will have some permanent additions to the family by summer if not sooner. If this all blows up and for any reason things don’t work out we have a nice spare guest room. Can you tell I’m trying not to get my hopes up?

On a less than positive note. I think I managed to kill all the tilapia in the aquaponics tank. When the remnants of hurricane Nate came through the GFI tripped killing the power to the pump. No water circulation equals no oxygen. I found 12 floaters this morning and I suspect there are more that didn’t make it. I know I saw one come to the surface and then swim back down. Didn’t look real healthy but it might make it. The worst part is I knew the power was off. When I did my morning rounds feeding all the critters I noticed the problem and corrected it with the intent of resetting the GFI when I made my way back to the house. Well….something obviously distracted me and the GFI didn’t cross my mind until I walked outside this morning. First thing I thought of was the aquaponics tank and I knew what I would find. I hate that sick feeling of knowing I could have prevented this loss. Then again that is why I keep two fishtanks running in the basement. Insurance. When I move the system I am planning to put in a battery backup and an air pump so that when I loose power the fish will still have that much to keep them going.

RIP Ladybug

We had to say goodbye to our Ladybug today. Old age finally caught up to her. Her hips were going and she was having trouble getting up. Even with that she still had time left but she stopped eating yesterday. Even turned her nose up at dog treats this morning. I knew it was time.


Another sad day on the farm

It has taken me two days to write about this but Tuesday we lost our Sadie. She and her sister Roxie, who we lost to heat stroke several years ago, were our first Great Pyrenees. They all have been good dogs but Sadie was on a different level. She was so protective that if she found an egg she would guard it and literally fight our two boar hogs to keep them away. She will be missed. She had a good life and 11 years is about average for the breed.

She developed a raspy growl at times almost a year ago but it didn’t slow her down. Over the last couple of weeks it got much worse even making a whistling at times. She got to the point that she couldn’t cool herself by panting so we retired her to the house. The episodes were becoming more frequent but it wasn’t a constant condition. Most of the time she would lay under the ceiling fan enjoying the A/C. We’d let her out and she would do her business and roll around with the other dogs as if nothing were wrong. Then she would get winded and come back inside. I was convinced it was her heart and expected she would go to a heart attack within the year but we ended up taking her to two vets. First last Saturday when she was having some trouble. It got worse in the vest office because she got stressed and agitated. After x-ray’s and tests the vet had no idea what was going on. We took her home and within an hour she was back to her normal self. Monday night she woke me up 3 times so Tuesday morning we took her to our other vet and he new what was happening as soon as he saw her. He said she was suffering from a paralysis of or collapsed esophagus. He said her vocal chords were closing up and that is why she was having trouble getting air and making the whistle at times. She was the worst I’ve seen her in his office. After discussing everything with him and Lisa we decided it was time to let her go. We might have gotten another year with her or she might have had an attack and suffocated while we were at work. The idea of her suffocating was more than we were willing to risk.  We said our good bye’s. Her body is now resting in our Pet Cemetery but I believe she is still on guard duty.

Unfortunately the hound in the above picture won’t be with us for much longer either. Ladybugs hips are failing. She is getting medicine twice a day and is holding her own for now. One of these days she won’t be able to get up and we will have to do something. Until then she is an inside outside dog and I will be building a ramp this weekend to make it easier for her to get in and out of the house.

Here are a couple more pictures of Sadie. One is her recovering after surgery on her ear. The other is her doing what she did best. Protecting and comforting a baby goat. Timmy was new to the farm and the other goats hadn’t accepted him yet so Sadie laid down next to him so he would stop crying. What a good dog she was.


Crack in the fishtank!

I thought I had a small leak in the aquaponics fish tank. I was topping off the tank twice a day for almost a week until I had time to repair it.

After draining most of the water out I found I had about a four inch crack.  I have no idea how it could have happened but it was there.

One good thing about draining the tank is it gave me a chance to look at the fish. I have a couple that are ready to fillet and put on the grill.

I also found that several made their way into the sump tank.

Tank patched and refilling.

I have found that Tilapia love sweet potato and morning glory vines. Here are some morning glory vines in the tank. By the next morning all the leaves will be gone and only the vines will be left.

July in Alabama

Typical late July with temperatures near 100 and high humidity. Almost too hot and muggy to get anything done. The afternoon showers cool things off but after they pass the sun returns and you almost need gills to get a breath of air.

The calves are growing and two of them need new homes. We have guests coming this weekend to look at pigs. Hope they buy a bunch. One or two at least.

The garden is almost done for the first round. Purple hull peas are done. Green beans are almost finished. The butter beans came on late so I should get more from those vines. As soon as I can get the sweet potatoes out I will replant some white and red potatoes, onions and garlic. I should get a second crop of potatoes if we don’t have early cold weather. I dug up about 30 lbs of potatoes earlier this week.

I picked up the meat from the steer and hog I had butchered. The hog weighed 190 lbs and the steer was 500 lbs +/-. The meat filled up our large upright freezer and two shelves of our small 10 cu ft upright. We shouldn’t be buying beef or pork for a while. If I time it right we shouldn’t be buying it ever again. I just need to make sure I send something to the butcher before running out.

Bee Struggles

Well the bees have gone again. All started out well but the last couple of weeks I have been struggling to control small hive beetles. The bees finally had enough and both hives left for better surroundings. I had moved the hives closer to the house so I could keep a better eye on them. The problem might have been that the location had more shade than I realized. I’ll just move the hives again and see if I can catch a late swarm or two. If not I’ll buy more next year and start over again.

On a better note, when I checked on Bobby Jo after work Friday she had a brand new heifer calf. The last four calves have been heifers. Lets hope that continues.

Even with all the rain and the weeds trying to take over the garden it is producing well. At least the green beans are producing. Squash, not so much and the peas are just starting to come in. I dug a few potatoes. Most are small but they will be good in soups and stews. It’s still too early for the sweet potatoes.


And then there are the egg eaters. I usually catch two to four of these a year. Caught this one last week and it was the first for this year. Lisa called me today to let me know there was another one on the porch that needed to be rehomed If it was still there when I got home. It will probably be gone because she said the cats were keeping a close eye on it.