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.

The deed is done

We sent our first steer to the butcher this morning along with a boar hog.

It took me longer than expected to find someone to do this so Porterhouse was becoming too pet like. If he would have been around much longer I don’t know if we would have been able to butcher him. Well one of we. If everything goes well with this butcher it will be a regular occurrence. I have too many pigs right now and two more steers that are either going to be sold or sent to the freezer. I know one is next years freezer steer but the other may be sold.

 

Over two weekends I worked to straighten the comb in the hives. It was a mess. Instead of following the guides down each bar the bees built at a 45 degree angle across the bars. I caused so much disruption that I haven’t been back into the hives. I wanted to give them a chance to get all the comb reattached. I use hair clips and string to hang the comb in line with the bars and that means they have about an inch or more to fill in.

I was pleasantly surprised to find both queens had stayed with the hive and both were full of larva and hatching baby bees. I was watching the bees come and go this morning and about half looked like they were carrying white saddlebags.

 

The garden is doing very well this year with all the rain. So are the weeds.These pictures were taken right before the last series of rains. Now the beans have grown up and over the fence. It is a green wall.

Back in Bees

The bees I had ordered a few months ago finally arrived.

Jars of sugar water ready to go into the feeders.

In the homemade feeders.

Sitting in the hive waiting for the thirsty bees.

Cover off and ready to lift out the syrup can and queen cage.

The queen and her maids. I’ll release her in a few days.

Queen cage hanging in the hive with all the new bees.

All closed up for the night.

I was able to go back and shake a few more bees out of the box after I got the other hive taken care of.

I sure am glad to have my bees back.

May 1st 2017 and spring is in full swing on the farm.

A couple of weeks ago, April 18th to be exact, Rosie gave us another healthy little heifer.

Here she is at two days old enjoying the morning.

We have five turkey hens sharing a nest. They each have a few eggs under them so I guess they are just sharing the nest site. This brush pile is relatively close to the house so they should be safe from predators. They usually nest out on the fringe of the property and we loose a couple each spring. The dogs just can’t be everywhere.

I got the garden planted and set a box trap with chicken feed to catch a few chickens that are determined to fly over the fence. Not only did I catch several chickens and clip their wings I also caught several members of our squirrel population. Here are two. 

Friday the corn started to break through to the sun. Buy Sunday evening the crows had eaten every single one. Each of those little pock marks was once the home to a new corn plant.

Notice the bare patch in the back. Crows…

I replanted about 2/3 of that spot in corn and the rest in sweet potatoes. If something gets the corn again I’ll just plant something else. Maybe okra. I didn’t have room for it this time.

The little garden is only about 40 x 40. I am adding 12 to 16 feet along the back but it won’t be usable until next year and it won’t be good then. I have some work to do building up the soil back there.

I received notice that my bees have been shipped so I will be re-hiving them in the next day or so. I have two of the top-bar hives cleaned up and ready for them. I’m debating on if I need to buy another package or two to fill the remaining hives or just hope to catch a swarm. Decisions, decisions.