If a hurricane doesn’t leave you dead, it will make you strong…
This first part is from 7/31. I did start to try and blog, just my heart wasn’t into it. I am now putting on my big girl panties and will get back to documenting our homestead adventure, good and bad.
If you follow us on facebook you know that we are down in the dumps right now. Or at least I am. The biggest problem is that there is no time to grieve. Bad things happen when you farm, sad things happen, joyous things happen. In fact I can only compare farming to parenting in the emotional roller coaster department. It makes me wonder a little about what people would be like today if more people farmed. Would there be less fighting? Would people care so much if others did this or that? Or would we all be so busy that what other people did wouldn’t matter so much? Would we be all so emotionally invested with our own crap that we wouldn’t feel the need to cause emotional disturbances?
I really feel that a good bit of what is wrong with the world is that we are all bored.
I am very rarely bored these past few years. Sometimes I feel like being bored. I feel like I want to pretend that I don’t have anything to do. I wonder sometimes if the reason why my girls don’t fight as much as I would expect them to is because they work. They do. This is not to say that they don’t fight, hit and scream at each other, just this doesn’t happen very often. They work together well, they love each other and they love to play together. Even after all these years I look at them and their relationship to each other in amazement. And then it makes me wonder, what if more people had this in their life? I am not saying that everyone needs to farm. I do think that. Not on our scale, but at least provide some of their own food. I am saying though, people don’t work with each other very much anymore. Not day to day. Not on things that are mundane and regular and not on things that disrupt your emotional stability so much that you ball your eyes out.
Because that is what happened this weekend. It started with losing the sweet ram lamb. We had checked everyone, tried to herbally worm as many as we could. Yet, we lost Ysandre, our ramboillet corridale and Iot, our North Country Cheviot. Thursday night the girls ran up to the house to tell us that Fiona, my favorite goat was down. She was up and moving just that afternoon. I almost panicked right then. We went down there and saw that she was down, with her neck thrown back. Immediately I thought of goat polio. It really isn’t polio, it is a thiamine deficiency. So the girls ran and got all the vitamins and other things that we could dose her with. We did what we could that night and then the next day most of the day was spent taking care of Fiona. It was heartbreaking. Her left side was paralyzed and she couldn’t shut her eye. It was clouding over. Any attempt to move her resulted is spasms. I called around to vets to see if anyone took in goats. I knew I was doing the right things, but I wanted someone to tell me that. Or tell me, nope, do this. I wanted her better more than anything. I wanted to know what to do if this happened again. So after calling around I found a vet who said they knew about goats.
We brought her in. They weighed her. They got her in a room. I should have left as soon as the vet walked in and told me that they could put her down and send her to the university. She wasn’t there to help me. In fact she knew nothing of goats at all. She asked what was wrong with her ears. Fiona was a lamancha, they have elf ears. Nothing was wrong with her, it was her breed. When I saw her temp I asked the vet if she thought it could be milk fever. The vet told me that only if she was on the other side of milk fever, her temp was too low for it to be milk fever. Low temperature is a symptom of milk fever in goats. There is no fever. I was really upset with how little this vet knew. And the fact that she wouldn’t admit that she didn’t know anything. It was frustrating.
Anyway, for as much as this all has been a huge part in my emotions the past few days, farmers don’t get to grieve. Oh I balled my eyes out for about an hour and then I realized, I can’t. I have to move, we have to do something. We got Fiona in the bed of the truck, told the girls to do their chores and called the university. Then we drove for two and a half hours to get her down there. They still haven’t gotten back to us on the results of all the tests, but I am hopeful we will hear soon. Also hopeful that it isn’t something that will affect the whole herd. I am not sure if I could handle that right now.
In other animal news, the cows are still going into heat. Blackie has yet to take care of this. We were supposed to order semen to AI them, but it just hasn’t happened yet. The three sometimes four bastard ram lambs keep getting out. We knew that they formed this gang very shortly after they were born. They are getting out of control now though. They are rarely in the fence. Last night we got a call from our neighbor saying that they were going to a party at Dancing Rabbit. Or at least that is what we are assuming as they all of a sudden started down the road. We have seen them sneaking in our driveway too, that is no where near our pasture. This is a problem and they will be eaten asap. Really.
The barn is going. I wish I could write more about this but really I don’t understand much of what goes on here. The drain is in the floor. It seems like the gravel is mostly level and that we should be ready to have concrete poured sometime soon. The mudroom addition to the house is going similarly. The cistern is also getting there. It is kind of crazy how many projects are being juggled right now. Sometimes I feel very crazy. But then I think about how great everything will feel once we get it all done. I need to have some faith. It will be nice going into winter with a barn, a cistern, a wood shed and a mudroom. Things will happen.
We have also been harvesting medicinal herbs and doing tinctures and such.
And that is where I stopped. Really, I couldn’t figure out how to be cheerful anymore. It has been a few years, okay a little more than a few years, but awhile ago I decided that it could always be worse. When you go through tough times in your life you come out of it knowing that that saying is all too true. So I tried to get into the habit of focusing on the good things. Bad things eventually go away. Life gets better and it could always be worse. My problem a couple of weeks ago was I didn’t want to think about the good things. I wanted to feel bad. I didn’t want to get on with my life, I wanted to grieve and miss Fiona. I won’t say I dropped everything. I will say I was not putting in my all. And we all suffered for that. I won’t say I feel better. However, I feel like I have had the time to feel sad, now it is time to put it aside and get back to work.
So we got the test results back from Fiona. It was actually what I feared, listeria. From doing some reading on goat forums, listeria has been making its way around the midwest. So at anytime we could just lose animals. That is really hard for me to deal with. Really hard. We are keeping a real close eye on everyone. The nights are getting colder and that is what listeria loves. It is really scary to be going into fall right now. But we have to move on. We have to take the knowledge that we gained from this and apply it. And hope, and pray. And live. There is nothing else to do, because we don’t give up.
There has been a lot of harvesting of local herbs. I was so worried that we wouldn’t have any blue vervain this year. It seemed like a miracle when we found it blooming all over. I may have gone a little overboard. I tinctured a gallon and dried a gallon. Vervain helps my emotional stability so much though. And insomnia. Very much so helps insomnia. So having that much doesn’t seem too crazy. I left a lot of it all around hoping it goes to seed and we have good harvests next year too. I actually harvested magically this year. Conditions seemed right. So on a moonless sunless night I went out there and very presently harvested. I guess that is the only way to really say it. Presently. I was there, with the earth, air, water(boy was it humid!!), and fire(also really hot!). Sweat poured off me, bugs were all over me. I ended up in the pond afterward and it felt good. I wish I had gotten pictures of my harvest. I think partly because of how I feel about vervain, there is no plant that I find more beautiful.
The girls also went out and harvested a good bit of wild bergamot. Also know as bee balm, monarda, wild oregeno… We made a tincture, oil and honey out of this. I feel that them harvesting this in their joyful lighthearted way is that way it should be harvested. I love the colors and smell of bergamot. It is spicy yet looks so cool with the lavender flowers and light green leaves. I am super happy to be expanding our herbal medicines this year.
Next we hope to go and harvest some hops. They are almost ready. We keep checking and checking and waiting… The problem is that most of our hops are down in our wild bottoms. The grass and weeds down there go over my head in places. Want to talk about picking ticks and scrubbing chiggers off of you? Yeah. So great. But I do want to harvest hops this year, so it will be done. Jack wants to try and brew with them and I am hoping to make a few hop pillows. I was talking with a neighbor awhile ago. I told her that it seems weird sometimes how many herbs I have growing wild about me that are good for my specific crazy. Or is it just that those are the only ones I care about and focus on them? It doesn’t really matter but I do so love that I can go pick my medicine.
While it isn’t medicine or wild, I also got our flax harvested. That was also some hot sticky work. Layla started to help me but she had to start cores, so Jack came down and helped me get the last in. I have to say that I was very glad for his help. We had about 70 some pounds of flax to walk back up to the house. It was heavy and awkward. I have no idea how much flax this will make, but I am hopeful to get some piece of clothing out of it. We also will be saving seed to plant next year. It is very exciting for me. I am hopeful that one day we will have lots of homegrown and processed wool and linen clothes. Though it also sounds slightly crazy to me to say that 🙂
The concrete was poured for the barn and the mudroom. The barn is currently on hold, there still needs to be concrete footers poured so we can level it. But soon that will happen and then we will be able to take down the tent!!! If only we could sell the tent!!! Soon, I hope. The mudroom is getting framed currently. There is now a step, a real step, going to our house. This is a longstanding joke around here. If you have ever been to the cabin in the past almost year it has been up, you would know that the “step” to get in will make you sore after awhile. It is joked that that is how I got an ass. Well, that and all the hills around here. At times we had pallets or other odds and ends in front of the door to make it easier to get in, but nothing like a real step. A few times now it has been mentioned that we have a real step by others visiting.
You might be thinking, how have they gotten all this done??? Jack actually took three days off last week. Really, he needs to take like a month off, but that won’t be happening. Or what would be nice would be if he didn’t have to work. I will keep dreaming though. It was so nice having him home. It was nice being able to work with each other without the worry of having so little time.
There has been ferments going on, lots of ferments!! The canning of tomatoes is also starting. I am starting to see our supply of canning jars go down. It is always my crazy to think that if we can fill each jar we will have wonderful food all winter long. I can keep hoping. Truly though I think I need more canning jars. It is amazing how much food we go through.
And while I am sure a whole lot more happened, this is all I can think of for right now. So until next week, breathe in, breathe out, move on…