Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thank you all.

Thank all of you for your very kind thoughts and much-appreciated hugs.  I was reflecting on how different Juno's passage was than that of Flora - her mother.  This was entirely due to the vet.  Dr. D and I sat in the barn with Juno from start to finish, and a little longer, out of respect for her excellent-ness.  He spoke kindly to both of us.  He told me stories about being a young vet, the vagrancies of human nature (four deer hunters hit a deer with their truck, then brought it to the vet and paid the large bill to have it treated), we talked about President Kennedy's death, Viking ships, our families, breeds of horses, the anatomy of ruminants.  Juno had her head in my lap and her passage to TNGA was peaceful, although it takes a long time for sheep (and ruminants in general) to give up the fight.

It took us both a few minutes to get up off the barn floor (some much-appreciated levity) and then we moved her to my car.

When I first launched myself into this venture, I was pretty much clueless.  While I don't recommend this approach, it is what it is.  I haven't harmed too many innocent creatures in my sharp learning curve, I am happy to say, but there is always a lingering fear that you could have done more or, even worse, that you were the cause of it all.  As Dr. D and I sat with Juno, we discussed her rather rapid deterioration and how none of the treatments that should have worked, did.  It did make me feel better, but it is an enormous responsibility to make the decision of treatment or death of any living creature.  You spend a lot of time wishing that, as Michelle so aptly put it in her comment, (and I paraphrase) you could keep them alive purely by loving them enough.

We tried to make Juno's removal from the barn as non-threatening as possible for Linden, Apria and Norman.  No one was noticeably affected except for Norman, who is a very sensitive sheep (in a sheep's fight-or-flight reaction, Normal is 100% flight).  He was very upset and he bleated, off and on, for a couple of hours after Juno was gone.  However, this morning - after a liberal dose of graham crackers - he seems to have recovered.

Sheep.  I love them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Saying Good-bye to a Most Excellent Sheep.

Juno as a babe front left.

Sheepie love.

Good n' Plenty

Dr. D and I (and Linden, Norman and Apria) were with Juno as she moved on to her Next Big Adventure today.  It's always so difficult to say good-bye.  Especially to such a very excellent sheep.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Just how flexible am I?

My little patient.

Let's just say that, if my joints were as flexible as my schedule, I could be a yoga master.  After going on four weeks of Juno as a semi-mobile, non-walking/standing patient, I made calls to get an expert opinion.  I talked to the vet at the rabies clinic who was not all that helpful (she's mostly into cows).  I called my new large animal vet who could 'get to me sometime in early November'.  Then, in desperation, I called my favorite (and overworked) vet of all things animals.  And he answered the phone!  At first, it looked like he could not get to us until Wednesday but then found a way to squeeze us in on Saturday.   However, he didn't have the schedule made up and wouldn't know what time until Saturday morning.  So, all things Saturday were put in a holding pattern.  The skies also opened up.  After getting the go-ahead for Saturday early afternoon, I ran down Plan A and revised to Plan B.  This entailed jettisoning the feed run.  I was limited also by the fact that I will be gone for two days next weekend and am handing the whole mess over to my dear sister.  AND my neighbor who continually saves my bacon is on vacation.

I did get most of the other chores and errands done - large Goodwill run (I am keeping up with my quota), Tractor Supply run - dog treats and an emergency bag of scratch feed, parents' for lunch and use of their dryer to fluff dry the down garments.  *Note here:  Be sure to thoroughly check your down coats and vests BEFORE washing them in case of cuts and tears.  This is going in my Do As I Say (not as I do) book.*  By the time I left their house (in VT), it was pouring.  I had just enough time to get home and let the dogs out before Dr. D arrived.  Let me just interject here that I love this man.  Not in the romantic sense, but as a person and a vet he is above all others.  Always cheerful.  Extremely empathetic and willing to try anything.  He listens.  He loves animals.  His practice credo is to treat every patient as if it were your own.  That is why I trust his judgment.  We dashed into the barn and he remarked that Juno seemed to have a very strong life force.  That she does.  She got booster shots, vitamin shots and a steroid.  I was told to lay the calories on and roust her about as often as possible.  We would revisit Wednesday.  All day Saturday, I was in and out of the barn (always in the 3+ inches of rain/sleet/snow we got).  I rousted.  I cajoled.  I plied her with second cut hay and sweet feed and molasses drenches.  She got perkier but still did not stand.  I squished when I walked.  To make myself feel as if I was accomplishing something, I baked these:

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies (From Mighty Nest)

(Makes 1 dozen relatively small cookies.  Or so I say...)

1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  In a large bowl, whisk flour, melted oil, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and eggs until the mixture comes together into a thick batter.  It did take a little while for the coconut flour to absorb the liquids.  Fold the chocolate chips into the batter to distribute.   Drop by heaping tablespoon onto the parchment paper.  You have to flatten these slightly, as they will not spread.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the edges are golden.  Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes and then transfer to cool completely on a rack.  Store leftovers (hahahahaha) in the refrigerator.

I felt better, but Juno hadn't changed.  I did a few inside chores (it rained all the day long and all the night long, and added high winds), but not a whole lot was accomplished.  A lot of sock knitting but that doesn't count until you get at least half your list checked off.  So sez me.  I did get the nesting boxes cleaned out and some surfaces scraped off, but nowhere near the 'clean the coop' job I had intended.  Sorry, sis.  On a happy note, both the little hens and the girl ducks put themselves to bed for the night with no help from moi!  Oh, happy day!  All I have to do is go out and close doors.

Sunday, the weather finally cleared up, just in time for us to toddle up the mountain to the cookout.  Imagine my shock at seeing four inches of snow halfway up!  It is three miles from my house to the hosts' house and it was like a totally different climate!  I am glad that I put coats on all the kids, as the wind was whipping around, too.  They were very well-behaved and received.  It was two hours of treats, food, runs, walks, and much patting of heads.  By the time I loaded them into the car for the drive back down the mountain, Pepper was snoring in his soup.  They were out for hours, happy dogs.

Unfortunately, Juno was not so happy.  With all of the added protein to build her strength up, she had developed bloat by evening.  I put in a call to Dr. D and we discussed the fact that, in her weakened state, there was not much hope.  I would do what I could for her and he would come down on his lunch hour to send her on to her next big adventure.  I gave Juno two bicarbonate of soda drenches between 6 and 11:30, and rolled her around and squeezed her a bit.  She seemed to like the attention and burped a couple of times - all of which I took as hopeful signs.  I brought out my knitting and set up my camp stool, and she and I (I did all of the talking...) spent a few companionable hours.  I recounted her birth (in case she forgot it) and my part in in.  I talked about her mother - Flora - and I knitted.  There is something so right about spending time with a very nice sheep and knitting.  At 11:30, I let the boys and Apria into the barn so that she could have company, and sadly took my knitting off to bed.  This morning, I put off going out to check on her because I didn't want to find her gone.

I didn't.  She was back to perky and chewing her cud.  I called the vet to report in and happily rushed around doing morning chores.  I was so happy that I left early so that I could do one of the jobs on my list - take the recycling to the transfer station on my way (sort of) to work.  I had forgotten that they did not open until 9 on Mondays.  Thank goodness I know the crew that works there - they begrudgingly let me do a frantic run-through and get out of their way quickly.

Dr. D and I still have to have the hard talk about Juno, but at least I know she is not suffering.  Now, if I could just get my feet and hands warm again...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Too good to be true?

I will have to have a few more to make an educated guess.  Grain free chocolate chip cookies with natural sugar (maple syrup).  They are, in a word, DELISH!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Today's lunch.

Put on the sunglasses!
Sock pair No. 2 in a rather gaudy shade of yellow, fluorescent green, olive and tan.  What was I thinking?  It must have been a heck of a sale...  At least, when I'm head-first in a snow drift this winter, with clogs in the air, I will be easier to spot.  I et the Macoun apple.

Heading into another jam-packed weekend with a schedule that has changed sixteen times since Tuesday. I have errands I have to run, feed to buy and my favorite vet is squeezing Juno and I into his already crowded Saturday line-up.  It's going to be a blowsy, rainy weekend, but there is work that must be done outside.  On a bright note, the kids and I have all been invited to a cookout on Sunday - where it's not supposed to rain, but be very windy.  If only weather forecasters were as reliable as a hike in our taxes.  Hope you all have some fun planned in your weekend.  (lalalaMamaPealalala)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Isn't it amazing?

It amazes me how something so small can cause so much havoc?  Yes, it is my annual dosey-do with Lyme's Disease.  After dragging my carcass around for weeks, blaming it on everything BUT Lyme's, I made an appointment to see my NP and got the news.   21 days of doxycycline and I should be right as rain.  Until next year.  I wouldn't even have thought about LD if it weren't for the fact that, what I thought was a fly bite behind my ear had a desiccated tick body firmly attached.  Blech.  Our weather has gone from fall to summer, with highs in the low 80s.  Fornatssake.  I'm afraid my tomatoes will start growing again.

Friday, October 14, 2016

And then there were four....

The silence was deafening this morning.  Yesterday at o' dark thirty, I wrestled eleven ducks into two large dog crates, loaded them in my car and headed north.  One of the downsides of living in this state is the dearth of processors, thanks to over-regulation.  There was one processor who would handle ducks and they were a good distance north of me, with an early cut-off time for drop-off, to boot.

Armed with my trusty GPS, off I went.  An hour and a half later, after going 2.2 miles this way, 3.1 miles that way, 5.6 miles the other way, etc., I was thinking how lucky I was to have my trusty GPS to guide me through this maze of back roads, country lanes, hills and dales.  It guided me all right - right into the back yard of someone who was NOT the processor.   I believe I was within spitting distance of Canada.

Frantic now (having all that quacking in the back did not help sooth my nerves), I drove aimlessly, trying to find a signal so I could call them and report my lost-ness.  I went right into their voicemail.  I left a fairly unintelligible message and begged for mercy and an time extension.  I squinted at my phone (having conveniently forgotten to bring my glasses) and typed in the address again.  Bingo!  I was off - in the wrong direction.  By now my blood pressure was rising and the inside of the car was littered with feathery down and wood shavings - having 11 equally frantic and stinky ducks in near proximity means windows down.  I found a sheriff's way station and rang the bell.  No answer, even though there were about six cars in the parking lot.  I briefly contemplated hitting the big, red EMERGENCY HELP button, but then figured they wouldn't agree that being lost with a car full of ducks constituted a legitimate reason for breaking up their coffee klatch/card game and would arrest me for false emergency.  Back in the car, I tried once again to reach the processor - and did!

Turns out they were very close to where I had been about 45 minutes ago - about 20 miles away.  By the time I pulled into the drive, I was a mess.  But they were very nice about it and did not refuse to take the ducks (that was the awful thought that kept running in loops through my mind).  We briefly discussed the giant turkeys a farmer had dropped off (we had a bet as to what the processed weight would be - I won.  I was closer to the final 42#) and I took myself off. 

Since it was a lovely day and I was close to Vermont, I stopped to pick up my yearly apple supply and headed to my parents' house.  Five cups of tea later, I was finally calm.  I drove back to the processor, loaded the now-quiet ducks into the cooler and headed home.  I also gleaned a happy nugget of news - this guy was merely renting the facilities until he put a processing unit into his own farm - a mere half hour from me!  Woot!

I straggled inside, squeezed the ducks into the freezer, let the dogs out and poured a glass of wine (not necessarily in that order).  The four girls left were very quiet - I imagine they decided to keep a low profile, just in case...  After a little carrying-on this morning, they settled down and seemed to enjoy the fact that they could forage and splash without being assaulted every five minutes.  I am enjoying the quiet until they re-find their voices.

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Little Something From Every Category

It was a productive and interesting weekend.  There was a beautiful backdrop to the fall garden.  The kale continues to thrive.
My favorite tree. 
There was some quality time spent with my sister with an added benefit of hope, love, serenity and inspiration.  We went to help celebrate the 23rd Anniversary of the local Peace Pagoda - always an amazing sight, when coming into the clearing from the woods.

Not your ordinary sight in the NE woods.
It was festooned with colorful paper flowers, flags, banners, food, and flowers.

An altar with food and other offerings had been set up before the Stupa, along with a prayer platform and speaker dais.   Regional, national and local Buddhist monks and the Buddhist nun that lives and works at our local pagoda led the progression with chanting and drum beats.
Local and regional Buddhist monks and nuns.
Buddhist prayers celebrating and giving thanks for the pagoda were given first, followed by an amazing and uplifting array of Jewish, Hindu, Catholic and Protestant prayers that included singing, musical instruments and, lastly, a very powerful poem recited by a very powerful poet.  The entire ceremony was to promote peace. 

Buddhist prayers
Because I had to pick up my frozen raw dog food (what I don't do for them...) which was thawing by the minute, we had to leave early.  We did, however, get to listen to a very moving talk by Oren Lyons, Haudenosaunee Faithkeeper, from the Onondaga Nation.  We were both very sorry to miss the rest of the program, but there was all that expensive, thawing dog food...  Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo. 

Magnificent beastie.
On our way to my friend's cattle farm to pick up the aforementioned food, we stopped at a farm stand and admired their Scottish Highland cattle.  Especially this guy.  Wow.

Then it was back to the homestead for a hasty lunch of black rice and cumin quinoa and a very short visit.  Sunday, I got to check a few things off the list - plant garlic and shallots, re-stack hay, quality time with Juno, rake sheep yard, pawdicures, garden clean-up, bake bread.  I find I have gotten a lot more energy back with the dropping leaves and temperatures.  The only thing I did not get accomplished was potting the geraniums for over-wintering inside.  Since we have a frost/freeze warning tonight, I will wrap them up and hope for the best - as there will be no more time until next weekend!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Call the Packaging Police!

What were they thinking?
I mean, really?  They could not, say, find a box the size of a shoe box?  They couldn't put it in a padded envelope?  This is so crazy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

This view.

Coming up to the crest of the plateau.

On the way down to home.
This is the only part of my daily commute that makes it all worthwhile.  I never get tired of this view - it almost doesn't look real.  This time of year, the mountains start to look like bright patchwork quilts, with their reds, oranges and yellows.  Even with the very dry year, there is still a lot of color.  Unfortunately, the leaves drop almost immediately, so it will be a very short and colorful season for the leaf-peepers.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Last of the Harvest

Eeeny, meeny, miney, mo.

Can you pick out the watermelon?  Can we say "dry Summer"?  The cucumber is for seeds, the last of the red peppers and my so-pathetic watermelon.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Zen of Socks

A sure sign of Autumn is when the knitting needles are in action once again.  I discovered - to my horror - that I only had three pair of wool socks!  Lucky for me (snort) I also discovered that I have an entire bin of sock yarn!  What a surprise!  Not.  Being my usual impatient self, I didn't bother to do a crash refresher course on knitting socks on two circular needles.  Oh, no.  I just pulled out those four tiny little filaments and charged ahead.  I truly do think that knitting socks is a form of Zen.  You just have to make it past the beginning - the unnatural posture your hands and fingers have to maintain in order to get those tiny little sticks all going in the same direction.  Bad words were spoken.   Often and loudly.
I am back into my comfortable routine of early morning knitting.  I am even doing some before-bedtime knitting, although it is most likely the time where stitches are dropped.  This makes for more bad words in the morning.  My crew is becoming used to the routine, bad words and all.

This is what happens when I put down
my knitting for a second.
I am guaranteed a lapful whenever I sit down.  And, if I put my knitting down for a nanosecond, Kramer moves in with lightning speed.  I have learned to knit over him and he doesn't seem to mind the occasional poke.  That is The Pepperoni snugged up next to me, under his blanket.
Slimbo feels the Zen...
Slimbo tries to horn in and, if he can't get the primo spot (smooshed next to me), he smooshes next to The Pepperoni, who carries on something awful - from under the blanket.  After a few minutes of this, everyone settles into the Zen.

Slimbo is IN the Zen.
The only added accoutrement to our Zen-ness in the mornings is the high level of dog farts.  I am almost used to The Pepperoni's green aura - he had bodacious farts for such a tiny guy.  However, everyone is getting accustomed to their new diet to various levels of smell-ociousness.  I was forced to turn the exhaust fan on last night and this morning so that I could concentrate on my knitting.  I sure hope their various systems settle down before I have to close up for winter - or it will be a particularly cold one, as I will be forced to keep a window open out of self-defense.