Earning My Mid-Wife Badge

The Girl Scouts was as close as this suburban girl ever got to learning any kind of traditional skills growing up.  I quit it early on, considering ‘badge earning’ to be well beneath my expanding “cool kid” facade.

But if there’s a badge worth earning, midwifery would be up there with the loftiest of them.  I’m humbled and proud to say I got to experience it last night for the first time.

I bit of critical background:  I’m squeamish.  Considering we didn’t have children of our own and I didn’t have my own dog to take care of, let alone any pet previously to our dear Papi, at about age 42, it seems to me squeamishness pretty much comes with that territory. 

It’s because I was well aware of this personal limitation that I NEVER imagined we’d have so many animals.

Chickens, for us and many other clueless homesteaders, are the Gateway Livestock.  Then came ducks, turkeys, sheep, pigs, and more dogs.  But we both swear we’ll never get cows or horses.  (Ahem)

Considering my penchant for ‘Too Much Information’ I’ve now been acclimated to loads of poop, vomit, blood and morbid sounds of all sorts.  It also got me scared, very scared, about all that can go wrong with pets and livestock.  And how painful that is, and knowing this truth in advance is useless.  It does not help the pain by expecting it.  It does help though to be prepared.  So far I give us a C+ on that when it comes to the critters.

My TMI penchant leads also to so much online and in books about serious diseases and awful complications and the myriad very dirty deeds endemic in the farm life.  Talking to others more experienced will also always bring sad stories and sometimes tragic ones.

 Maybe I don’t quite deserve my badge just yet, but I’m fairly certain I saved our ewe and her young lamb last night by being at the right place at the right time and doing my usual C-level work.  🙂

When our ewes have lambed in the past I was not there to witness the actual event, only woke up to find the lambs delivered, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  On one occasion I found one mutilated by our young puppy and I had to kill it.  I cannot speak about this moment still today a year later without tears.  It was the most confusing, stressful, tragic, sorrowful day of my life.  Like most in the so-called advanced economies, we grew up very sheltered from death and from the act of killing.  Hubby would’ve handled it far better had he been home.  I was alone and a basket case.

I was alone again this time when Buttercup gave an unusual and very loud bark audible from inside the house that clued me in that something was going down.  I went to the stalls and saw mama was in labor.  I was determined to watch it all and learn. 

I was hoping and intending to remain a bystander to nature’s miracle.

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Take a bow, Buttercup!

As it happened I could tell something was wrong right away.  Then I doubted myself.  Then I went back and forth a dozen times, yes, no, yes, no.

Then I concluded, no, something’s really wrong here, get help.  Help?  Like from who?  I called two friends with more experience and they didn’t answer.  I looked through our book on sheep, panicky by that time.  I call Hubby.  He calls his folks and searches online while I pace waiting for the bread in the oven to finish so I can go back to the stalls. 

I muse, even in this stressed state: “Oh, we’re both waiting on buns in the oven.”  Yes, that’s how I cope with stress, and most things really, goofy humor.

It doesn’t occur to me again that the fetus that the ewe cannot seem to push out is in fact dead until hours later.  Yet, I felt it, even considered it immediately, instinctually at the very first moment I saw it.  I just tried to over-ride that feeling with too much doubt and reasoning and wishful thinking.  

On the phone with Hubby we decide there’s really nothing I can do alone in the dark with no experience and no equipment and no nearby vet.  Then he calls back and has changed his mind.  He urges me to go back out, put on some rubber gloves, and see if I can help her.

And he was right!  As soon as I touched the fetus it was obviously dead and my foolishness at waiting hours to “realize” this washed over me.  I strained, along with mama to get it out, knowing if not she would surely die as well. 

At last it came free, followed by another smaller, but wonderfully alive little treasure!

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We did it!

I’m happy to report as of this writing about 16 hours later, mama and babe are doing well, eating and drinking and getting to know each other.

Yes, I was alone, but really, it was very much a team effort.  Thanks y’all!

 

Wins & Losses 2018

A short break from the heavy subject of addiction to share some homestead updates lately as well as highlights and misfortunes from the last year.

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Naughty, naughty!

Starting with the good news, we have two new happy thriving lambs!

They are the first of the year with two more mamas looking full and ready to follow with some of their own any day now.  Or more likely, since today it is beautiful and sunny, it will be the next time it’s pouring rain and freezing cold.

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Their first day roaming the land with the herd.
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Last winter’s model looking great

 

 

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Almost there, so close, but not close enough

That was the weather once again for this rough start.  Unfortunately, our permanent corral space is not yet finished.

I had to cancel a holiday trip at the very last minute and I spent a lot of time stressed and worrying.  I couldn’t handle a repeat of last year, which is such a tragic story for me I haven’t yet been able to tell it publicly.

It was nearly a repeat. Hubby was at work again, and to keep it short and simple, I found one of our not-so-well-trained LGD (Livestock Guard Dog) had jumped the fence, grabbed one just after birth, jumped the fence back and was ‘guarding’ it until I found it barely breathing and injured.

Luckily there was a completely unplanned, last minute visit that cheered me up after my canceled trip.

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Pappa Chop getting friendly!
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It’s hard to think of anything sweeter than kids and animals!

And it’s hard to think of anything worse in the garden than poison ivy and wasps!

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Poison ivy in the same spot 3 times, many weeks of torture.
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And wasp stings 3 different times, miserable.

And my bee colonies didn’t even last the summer.  This is an enormous disappointment.  But I don’t give up easily and have next spring’s bees on order, locally sourced this time.

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Last spring’s packages brought home from Arkansas

Additional misfortunes include the duck that was mysteriously fried by our electric pole in the front yard.  And another incident that shot an electric impulse through my hand, up my arm, and landed in now nearly 2 months of stabbing shoulder pain.  Then there’s the ram that’s butted me 3 times and therefore will meet his demise prematurely ASAP.

I don’t think Hubby shares this sentiment, but in my case, I’ve definitely had better years.

Here’s to better fortune in the coming year, for me, and for all y’all!

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I still love making cheese 🙂

 

 

 

What’s Growin’ On?

We just wanted to share a few updates from the wee homestead, on the winter garden and other news.

Dreary weather whiplash here, hard to say if our holidays will be white, green, gray or brown, but thankfully we still eat fresh, easily, every day.

 

Growin’ on now are: broccoli, lots of lettuces, carrots, cabbage, brussel sprouts, beets, kohlrabi, garlic, onions, kale,  our favorite herbs–dill, chervil, cilantro–loads of collards for us and the critters, planted thick as green manure and spring bee food, too, like hairy vetch.

It’s high maintenance, we cover and uncover the boxes as weather requires, and it’s slow growing with shorter days and an abundance of overcast days.

But, the limited harvest results are DELICIOUS!

Triumph for the season:

I was interviewed about natural living on Crow777, a site I’ve mentioned here many times as a cutting edge, paradigm shifting, life affirming podcast I highly recommend.

https://www.crrow777radio.com/137-leaving-hurricanes-and-citified-chaos-for-self-sufficient-natural-life-free/

They follow my nervous-nelly ramblings patiently and pleasantly and thankfully follow me up this week with a professional, a doctor saying exactly what I’m wanting and needing to hear!

https://www.crrow777radio.com/138-healing-medical-doctors-still-exist-dr-franco-lenna-talks-natural-medicine/

Blessings for the season:

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Thought for the season:

Manufactured outrage?!  They go berserk over a cute old song and meanwhile, Paradise is lost?!

 

https://www.breitbart.com/entertainment/2018/12/11/radio-station-ends-puritanical-ban-of-baby-its-cold-outside/

 

 

 

 

A Spoonful of Sugar

Some not-so-random quotes and links, interspersed with happy homestead snaps for better digestion.

 

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Cleaning up the acorns on the deck, so helpful!

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”
Frederick Douglass, former slave (1818-1895)

Six deceptions needed for Agenda 21/2030/Sustainable Development
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGCkSRXo-jk

Despite a vast body of scientific knowledge, the issue of deliberate climatic manipulations for military use has never been explicitly part of the UN agenda on climate change. Neither the official delegations nor the environmental action groups participating in the Hague Conference on Climate Change (CO6) (November 2000) have raised the broad issue of “weather warfare” or “environmental modification techniques (ENMOD)” as relevant to an understanding of climate change.

The clash between official negotiators, environmentalists and American business lobbies has centered on Washington’s outright refusal to abide by commitments on carbon dioxide reduction targets under the 1997 Kyoto protocol.(1) The impacts of military technologies on the World’s climate are not an object of discussion or concern. Narrowly confined to greenhouse gases, the ongoing debate on climate change serves Washington’s strategic and defense objectives.https://archives.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO201A.html

 

“an attempt to eradicate human violence” William Sweet  Minds of Men film 2:02

 

Solutions?  #1 self-directed learning
https://www.crrow777radio.com/131-the-higher-education-political-money-machine-free/

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Life eats life. Deal in reality.

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It’s not always pretty and sweet, that’s why we have sugar. And salt.

And why roses have thorns.

 

 

Grievance Studies and Virtue Signaling

While so many are focused on the doom and gloom of politics and environmental degradation and censorship and climate change and fake news and on and on, I am seeing glimmers of hope striking up everywhere.

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Our honeybees love the morning glory in late summer, which is considered an invasive and highly undesirable weed among most farmers who kill it with herbicides and then complain there are no bees to pollinate their fruit trees in the spring.  Things that make you say, hmmm . .

And this poor sod just doesn’t get it either!

“Taking joy in that suffering is more human than most would like to admit. Somewhere on the wide spectrum between adolescent teasing and the smiling white men in the lynching photographs are the Trump supporters whose community is built by rejoicing in the anguish of those they see as unlike them, who have found in their shared cruelty an answer to the loneliness and atomization of modern life.”  https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/the-cruelty-is-the-point/572104/

You don’t have to be waving a flag on the Trump train to appreciate a politician making a public sport of the ‘Deep State’ –which is now a Front & Center label in the global lexicon–thanks to his administration.

Will he manage to drain the swamp? Was that ever his intention at all?

 

It doesn’t matter now! He’s put language on it, he’s given the corruption a popular catch phrase, which will survive long after any degree of embarrassment or hate speech or lack of diplomacy under which the American left currently feels they are unduly suffering.

And still another delicious dose of Hopium:

This little team of prankster scholars not only provided us with some great laughs, but got some great work done in the process. This is creativity at its finest and an inspiring look at how sometimes the gatekeepers can be beaten at their own game. Some of these fake papers were then published in peer-reviewed academic journals, including a hilarious one about the rape culture inherent in dog parks.

“This process is the one, single thread that ties all twenty of our papers together, even though we used a variety of methods to come up with the various ideas fed into their system to see how the editors and peer reviewers would respond. Sometimes we just thought a nutty or inhumane idea up and ran with it. What if we write a paper saying we should train men like we do dogs—to prevent rape culture? Hence came the “Dog Park” paper. What if we write a paper claiming that when a guy privately masturbates while thinking about a woman (without her consent—in fact, without her ever finding out about it) that he’s committing sexual violence against her? That gave us the “Masturbation” paper. What if we argue that the reason superintelligent AI is potentially dangerous is because it is being programmed to be masculinist and imperialist using Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Lacanian psychoanalysis? That’s our “Feminist AI” paper. What if we argued that “a fat body is a legitimately built body” as a foundation for introducing a category for fat bodybuilding into the sport of professional bodybuilding? You can read how that went in Fat Studies.” https://areomagazine.com/2018/10/02/academic-grievance-studies-and-the-corruption-of-scholarship/

Of course we continue to have the usual misinformation and disinformation being shoveled out by the usual culprits:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/10/huge-reduction-in-meat-eating-essential-to-avoid-climate-breakdown

But then we have at our fingertips the rational-minded push back of real journalists, scientists, experts, researchers, whistleblowers, etc.:

https://www.corbettreport.com/interview-1117-jim-steele-on-how-bad-global-warming-science-hurts-the-environmental-movement/

“(Always) 10 years left to save the planet”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPGK6pNO0Qw

These are miraculous times!
On the wee homestead there’s always proof of that close on hand.

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Mama Chop with 9 piglets just born

But in the attempted Globalist takeover of our cultures and our individuality it can be very tough sometimes to see past the fear-porn. And once that’s accomplished, it can be even tougher to get a personal clue as to what to do about it in whatever way one can.

But that’s happening!

Derrick Broze on 5G in Houston on DTube, not Youtube:

https://d.tube/#!/v/dbroze/q8uqc45w

Folks are rapidly moving away from the corporate-sponsored programming.

They are organizing, creating new platforms, sharing ideas and truth and camaraderie. It’s now already passé to be only ‘woke’ —  the new fashion is to break the chains altogether.

https://sustainabledish.com/am-i-less-woke-because-i-eat-meat/

Folks are no longer satisfied with waking up and they are now standing up and those old neocons are dying off, but that doesn’t really matter, because it was never just about a group of white men. Just as it was never just about any one group, it’s not just the Jews, not just the Russians or Chinese, or the Communists, or the Nazis. The problem is, was and always will be the mindless, honorless order followers. That problem is being overturned on our watch and I am a thrilled witness and ardent participant in that sabotage.

What’s been revealed now en mass and which the masses have lapped up like starving kittens is the strategy. We have witnessed the Revelation of the Method and there’s no way to unsee it. Some don’t yet realize that’s what they are witnessing, they see only the chaos, they react in fear or trepidation. That’s ok.

Are you afraid of the future the technocratic Globalists have planned for us?

Good, that means we’re getting somewhere.

Now go do something about it!  Please. 🙂

#Authentic Virtue Signaling

 

Celebrating Small Steps

Late summer here is my personal version of hell and I bitch about it every year.

What better time to take a break from my current reality where I feel like an indoor prisoner and wake up daily wanting to lash out at all the idiotic Geoengineering causing drought here and weather chaos all around the globe.

I even want to take a break from my last post pondering passivity and violence and just notice for a day, or so, all the little things and little ways we have improved upon since I last felt this level of droughtrage.

I know I am just a bit more blessed this year than last, mostly by my own sheer will and resilience, and that of Hubby as well, no doubt, and that of some inspiring neighbors and cyber-friends, and perhaps if I dwell on that fact just a bit, next year will be just a bit more blessed in turn.

Last year’s late summer garden vs this year’s, not great, but still better!

A new young friend who loves plants as much as I do helps me identify the hardy, native heat-lovers of our area, and diligently and graciously watched our wee homestead so I could join my extended family at a reunion in July.  I look forward to returning the favor when her family vacations in October.  This is the sort of small steps a resilient community is made of, not the top-down control of Rockefeller’s ‘Resilient Cities’, because it’s the neighborly reliance that brings real hope and treasures and peace of mind.

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Collective Border Control, naturally 😉

I still don’t like okra, but I’m harvesting it anyway for the pigs and neighbors!  Every once in a while I throw a few into a meal, along with other traditional Southern favorites we didn’t grow up with, but are learning to appreciate, like collards and Southern peas, eggplant and jalapenos, all which have survived the heat, but would not be here now without regular irrigation.

It’s very hard to keep up with the constant weeding and mulching requirements in such circumstances, but these plants, along with the sweet potatoes, are actually successfully competing with the grasses in some cases.  Amazing!

I won’t mention the melons, because I’m hell-bent on keeping this post positive. So let’s mention instead the ‘mouse melons’, aka sanditas, or, Mexican Sour Gherkins.  🙂

Instead, let’s mention the fact that the young sweet potato vines and okra leaves are edible and quite tasty!

And the fantastic find this summer which I’m most excited to expand next year considerably, the Mexican Sour Gherkin.

Crop of the year, in my humble opinion!

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Even in the dead of summer, of brutal heat and no rain, we enjoy meals raised primarily on this land.  As an added bonus now my raw milk source is 5 minutes away, whereas last year at this time it was 5 hours round-trip!

The aging fridge is full of cheeses we will enjoy all winter: Cheddars, Goudas, a Parmesan and an Alpine, several Brie almost ripe, a Muenster even!  YUM!  Last week I taught a couple of neighbor ladies to make 30-minute mozzarella and we had such a nice time.

Next they will teach me skills they’ve acquired—spinning, dying, soap-making–a few more small steps in our agorism adventures.  Skill-sharing has been such a crucial aspect of our most successful ancestors and I would be challenged to express how rewarding it is for me still, at 50 next month, to be learning so much that is new for me.  It is indeed a sort of middle-age renaissance!

I also foraged for elderberries, mustang grapes and peppervine berries, dried some and made some syrups and preserves.

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And, Another 400 pounds of pears, or so!

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I do believe still that’s thanks to our bees.  For several years we thought it was a weather issue, late frosts, whatever, but I am beginning to suspect it was a pollinator issue all along.

We will see, that’s just a hypothesis so far.  And in any case we continue for another year to benefit from the cider, the preserves, the cobblers, and the pigs are getting their fill, too!

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The Datura remains an absolute favorite of mine, blooming in crazy heat and exhaling the most exquisite fragrance into the evening air.  The thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano are gracefully resilient as well, I appreciate all y’all!

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And our dear Tori, who just as I was typing this post chased an enormous coyote off our chickens!

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Tori, 2 weeks old
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Tori today!  Rewarded Homestead Guard of the Year 2018

The blessings are very close at hand, the frustrations a million miles away.  I vow to maintain that truthful balance deep in my heart as I brave the coming days.

Peace and love to y’all, dear friends.

 

Renegade, Stupid, or Stubborn?

“I’m selling you bees on Friday so you can kill them in your top bar hives.” so smirks JC of Frost Apiary in the Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas.  I drive 2 hours across the small mountain range from my dad’s place in Mena, which is a 6-hour drive from our East Texas homestead, mostly because gentle, treatment-free bees are not too easy to come by here.

We’ve got some bad genetics in these parts, as my nearby beekeeping friend and I can both attest to, only she got proof of her Africanized bees on video.  Had someone been filming me as I tried to work with mine, it would’ve been cartoonish and probably hysterical as I ran circles around trees trying, in vain, to get the vicious little buggers off me.

I’ve yet to meet a commercial beekeeper who doesn’t scoff at the Kenyan-style hives known as ‘top bar’ or sometimes called ‘horizontal’ hives that are now trendy with hobbyists.  I chose them as a completely novice beekeeper for 3 reasons only: weight, esthetics, and the personal preference of the teacher of the beekeeping workshops I took.

Clearly none of those reasons would impress JC even remotely, so I kept them to myself.

In all his decades of beekeeping JC has yet to meet a beekeeper successful with top bar hives.  It’s good for business, he says, because they come back every spring for more bees, until they switch to Langstroth hives.  He recites a string of reasons why this is, which begins with “they starve in the winter” and ends with “they starve in the spring.”

For those of you who might be curious about this less-traveled region of the fly-over states, but without the time or inclination to actually visit, here’s some of what I saw, and smelled in that 2 hours.

There were approximately 20 Jesus billboards, 10 churches, 2 banks and 1 gas station, thanks be to Jesus perhaps, because I was running on fumes by that time.

As for the smell, unless you’ve had the misfortune to experience the poorer areas of Bangkok in rainy season, you will not have approached this particular olfactory ballpark.  It is directly related as to why you see houses on the left directly juxtaposed to houses on the right.

You might have guessed, get-rich-quick by factory farming.  If the entire region then smells like you live in a baboon cage at the zoo, well, at least you have the means for air conditioning and Febreeze spray.

JC and his wife busy themselves moving around the shop and yard, bees buzzing all around, as he offers me advice.  After 5 minutes of this he says, “I want you to go now,” which he repeats again after 10 minutes, and then again after 20.

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“My health’s no good,” he also repeats several times, taking his ball cap off to reveal a fresh scar the length of the top of his scalp where a tumor was recently removed.  He says he has a similar scar down his chest, a barrel of a chest still I notice, at nearing 80 years old.

“You might take it a bit easier,” I suggest, because I know how heavy those Langstroths get and I’ve just watched him effortlessly move several around the yard.

“He doesn’t believe in that!” his wife answers for him.  Despite his stooped posture and some less than urban-refined social graces, his eyes are still bright and his mind and tongue sharp, which greatly softens any coarseness, in my opinion anyway.

They then carefully load up my impressively-packaged bee packages in the back seat of the car and I set the feeders on them overnight until my 6-hour drive home the following morning.

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Calm, happy, well-fed, well-contained bees ready for a wee road trip.
Or, so I thought!

I’m not sure at what point I fully took to heart that the bees were not at all well-contained.  At first, I just thought I had a few roaming co-pilots, not a problem.

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Welcome, fellow traveler!

Then about high noon, still 2 hours from home, I made a pit-stop for gas and a sandwich and return to the car buzzing with hundreds of loose bees, inside and out.  I have a moment of panic before realizing I at least need to move the car away from the main traffic area of the convenience store while I devise a plan.

Once at the corner of the parking lot I realize there is no plan to be made. There was no quick fix to this problem; I had no equipment to get the boxes apart and even if I could I could not figure out where the leak was coming from.  I had a single choice and no other, leave 4 packages of bees in the parking lot right now, be out the time and the money and the bees, or get back in the car and finish the trip with them.  It was all, or nothing.

It was worth the bees crawling over my arms, my face, my sunglasses to see the passersby at traffic lights gawk in stupor!  Handy Hubby, being the wise guy he is prone to being, suggested with a chuckle that I visit the McDonald’s drive-thru.  🙂

Because as an American I can’t resist a happy ending, I waited a week to write this post until I had one:  We now have four queen-right colonies happily nesting and growing in top bar hives.

The first of my determined objectives, as I stated plainly to JC before I finally left his apiary, “I will be your first successful top bar customer, I betcha.”