Monday, December 19, 2011

These Days...

I'm knitting.. I said I wouldn't, and then I did. Mostly little stuff for little people. I got two knitting books - on my kindle! - on a cyber-monday deal. Last Minute Knitted Gifts and More Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Both of which might as well be titled "The Only Knitting EllaJac Will Try."[That's not entirely true. Three years ago I bought the yarn and began a poncho/capelet thing. I've had my needles pulled out, my needles scratched, bent, straightened, broken, and lost, and I'm still only on the edge trim]

I'm making Christmas gifts of the caloric version. Nothing too extravagant, but I'm laughing because I'm using organic popcorn... along with butter, marshmallows, and M&Ms... :P

I'm planning a brief trip out of town, and appropriate foodstuffs to feed us at various holiday events (pizza party? Not if you're gluten or dairy-free!).

I'm trying to send off my Christmas cards/newsletters. I posted jpgs of them on facebook, but the real-live ones which need to reach the mailbox... well, they're still somewhere in my van.

Considering how/where to give more. There are a few families I know who I'm looking forward to blessing, but also thinking about how to give more where it makes a bigger difference. Compassion has a gifting option, as does World Vision and Heifer Project. There are probably more, too.

I'm reading books. About compost, about farming, history and just for fun. One of my best friends (who I obviously don't spend enough time with) was recently a little surprised to hear me mention my weakness for Vince Flynn spy/assassin thrillers. :) Brad Thor is good too...

On the subject of reading, might I recommend Being George Washington? It's a history book, written like a novel, with commentary highlighting some of the qualities Washington had and who he was. And how we can aspire to be the same kind of good, have the same kind of integrity. BE what this nation needs. Each of us.

We replaced our dead tv (with another hand-me-down), and while not *huge*, it's still big enough (and not flat like the new ones) that we didn't want to try to get it upstairs into the tv room. So it's in our living room, and has been just the right kind of blessing, without being a curse (and I hope it stays that way)... We got a Roku thingy (I think that's the official term), which gives us a handful of internet channels (and complete control over *what* channels we have). Netflix works through it, and there are other premium/paid channels, plus some free ones (like pandora radio). And because we had to get the high-end Roku to work with our ethernet, we also got the Angry Birds game, which has offered some surprisingly fun family time... :)

Mostly I'm enjoying the season. Yes, it's getting busy, and I have moments where I'm overwhelmed with the balancing act of trying to keep everyone eating as they should, without offending guests or hosts, but most of the time I'm basking in Christmas music, loving my girls, and thanking God for this time.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Now that you've finished off the turkey, dressing, pie and potatoes...

I've gotten through most of Wheat Belly. Have you read that yet? There are several interviews with the author online (here, here, here, and here, are some I read. Google "wheat belly interview" for more), if you don't know what I'm talking about.

I won't recap the book; you can find that in the interviews and reviews, I'm sure. But I am going to tell you to read it. :)

I'll tell you what surprised me.. I expected to read some non-politically-correct information about America's favorite grain (favorite food?). I expected to be fascinated by his (and he's an MD; a preventive cardiologist, I think) take on the effect of wheat on weight, health, etc. I love reading that kind of thing, and do so often. :)

I did not expect to be mad.

And I'm not mad because I dislike hearing negative things about wheat (despite the fact that my mom used to say I had a "love affair with flour" when I was a teen). I'm mad because if - if - the claims this doctor makes are even half true, then there are people I love whose lives could be so much better, but no one has told them. I'm mad because while I might be able to shift our household further away from wheat, the thought of all the cultural influences just turns my stomach. You can get away with bringing your own food to a potluck if you have a bona fide diagnosis, but if not.... oi. It's hard. And I don't necessarily mean that people are offended and despise you (although that does happen), it's just... cultural. You've stumbled upon what may be, for you, life-changing information, but the rest of the world doesn't even question the status quo. It makes me mad that what should be unifying, nourishing, and beneficial to individuals, family, and community, instead is often harmful, sterile, and (if you try to step out of that), divisive. Ugh.

I'm mad that agriculture has used science to develop food that is not more healthy  or nourishing, but that produces more, faster, cheaper. Easier to harvest, store, process... and nary a question as to whether their tinkering might be responsible for the many-fold increase of celiac disease and gluten intolerance in modern times (quick; when you were growing up, did you know ANYONE with a wheat allergy? Did you EVER see a 'gluten-free' product advertised on store shelves?). And no, it's not just more-diagnosed now (read the book).

I haven't double-checked every journal article or study or research result that the author has cited (and there are a LOT), but he has implicated wheat  in far more than just celiac and obesity. How about heart disease and arterial sclerosis? Diabetes (and Pre-diabetes)? Acne? IBS? Hair loss? ADHD? Arthritis? Dementia? Seizures? High blood pressure? Poor cholesterol/triglyceride profile... It just doesn't end. I don't know about you, but I have close friends and family members who suffer with some of these things. What if  they could be helped by eliminating this one thing from their diet? Do their doctors know this? Would they recommend it? Would they just decide that a(nother) prescription is in order?

I don't think wheat should be outlawed, by the way. :) I don't even think everyone would be wise to eschew it in all its forms, forever. I DO think that this information should be available to each person, to weigh and decide, to double-check and pray and think through... There is no such thing as choice, or consent, if you lack the appropriate information. I encourage you, if you or your loved ones have any minor (or major) health issues, or can't lose that 'belly fat', or feel like you're lacking mental clarity at times (ahem)... Give this a read. It's an easy read, with some fun, unexpected pop-culture references, but includes enough science to satisfy my appetite for "But HOW does it do that..?" I paid about $10 for it on my Kindle, but I wish I'd gotten the hard copy, so I could loan it out. :) [this title currently doesn't have the loan feature enabled, by the way, so you can't even borrow it from me if you have a Kindle.]

So now that I've told YOU about it, I'll try to stop being mad. And start being thankful ('tis the season, always!) that this information IS out there now, and it might be just what someone has been needing. There is hope. :)


Here are a few more interviews/overviews which I hadn't seen before:
Wheat Belly Blog (what?? I might've saved $10? :) )
YouTube results for this book/author

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It's a non-traditional meal for us this year, but still so much to be thankful for.

So much.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Around Here These Days

Fall is certainly here. The nights are often in the 20s, my garden is full-on dead (but, for once, I've actually yanked a few plants and tossed them over the fence), and we use the pellet stove in the daytime (when we can get it started).

The girls are all healthy. I spent a week in October terribly sick - fever and aches were the only symptoms, but it kept me off my feet for a full week. THAT was not good for the housekeeping, let me tell you. And we ran out of bananas and eggs more than once (this whole-foods living doesn't leave much for kids to fend for themselves!). I did deign to take ibuprofen when my fever rose above 104˙, messing up lo, these many years. :)

We continue to homeschool with Ambleside Online, however, the week I was ill certainly revealed that apparently *I* am the only person who does anything around here and/or *I* am the only person who makes anyone do anything around here. These are not good dynamics. :( I do not know the answer yet, but I am praying about it, and debating on whether academics need to take a hiatus temporarily to give Real Life Skills some focus. For me, too.

The 20 pullets we raised this summer turned out to be 17 pullets and 3 roosters (I'm still wondering if I can get a refund on the pullet price I paid...), and one pullet succumbed to a Great Horned Owl. I'm sure it's no coincidence that the Devil has horns too... Anyway, the old hens are molting and taking their annual sabbatical from laying, and the new pullets have given us 2 or 3 eggs total, but production certainly isn't keeping up with our needs, so i've been having to buy eggs. Usually from an unmanned roadside cooler, sometimes from the grocer, and WOW am I reminded how blessed we are to have free-ranging hens. The product isn't even comparable to the store's.

We now officially have 3 jersey steers. We waited a long time to take care of Chuck (about a week and a half ago; nearly 6 months old) because of his Special Needs. I feed them every day now, and scratch my head and wonder if I'm feeding them enough/too much, too frequently/too rarely and the rest of it. I am fairly secure in my belief that Mae is pregnant; we boarded about a dozen ugly Angus-type cattle in September/October, and among them were 2 young bulls. There was no sign that Mae came into heat, so she probably settled after spending 6 weeks with a Highland bull before we got her. :) She is now quite tame, inasmuch as she comes near for her feed and will tolerate being touched through the fence or gate. The other day she was mooing at me near the garden, so I agreed to give her some hay (which is 100 yards or more from where I was. I walked along the fence and sang, "c'mon Mae!" and began running.. She tossed her big horns and galavanted alongside me up to the area where the hay is. I eased up before we got there, because I realized that she could toss herself right through the fence and never notice, were she inclined... :]

I 'wormed' the cattle using Shaklee's Basic H, of which I had to buy 5 gallons for over $200, because of course they've updated to Basic H2 and there hasn't been 50 years of experience to vouch for its safety or effectiveness at this application (of which Shaklee doesn't endorse). I expect I'll never have to buy from them again, considering the rates of application. :)

Hubby's work has eased up - still full time, but no on-call weekends and few after-hours projects (um, unless you count the projects *I* request...). We have been avoiding wheat for the most part, and are trying to limit the grains we eat as well. We eat potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash more often instead.

Lately I've been reading:
Rodale's Complete Book of Composting
You Can Farm
Salad Bar Beef
Wheat Belly
Folks, This Ain't Normal

Planning to Borrow (from the Library):
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
Fast Food Nation
Omnivore's Dilemma

And wishing for:
Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live off the Land
An Agricultural Testament
Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Veganism is Ecological?

I've run across (in surprising places, sometimes) the argument that a vegetarian or vegan diet is more 'environmentally friendly' than an omnivorous diet that includes animals and animal proteins. I felt, more than knew, that this thinking was faulty (the documentary "Forks Over Knives" notwithstanding). I did know that there has been no successful or healthy people group (the world over, historically) who did not include animal protein in their diets. There were no indigenous vegetarians. :) Whether the Maasai who harvest blood and milk from their cattle (as well as eating some meat) to shellfish-eating islanders, caribou-eating northerners, fish-eating Gaelics, etc, no one ever subsisted (as a people group or civilization) without animal protein in their diets.

I have been listening to an audiobook, "Folks, This Ain't Normal" by Joel Salatin, my favorite farmer, who first introduced me to the difference between factory foods and natural, and who has inspired me for years (even if I haven't implemented much) towards producing food on our land. While this book covers a wide swath of subjects, there is one fascinating element that I'd never heard before (and I love nothing if not learning some new, interesting thing).

In a word, it is this: We need animals, specifically herbivores (that would be cattle, deer, moose, goats, sheep, etc),  to heal the earth - whether you mean air, water, or soil, doing without them would be terribly damaging to our environment. I'll try to give a brief reason as to why that is...

Herbivores graze green plants, which are solar-powered protein - protein you and I cannot access - turning it into meat and milk (proteins we CAN access). Properly managed, herbivores on pasture add to the soil. Their grazing naturally suits the strengthening of perennial grasses and legumes (plants that return every year) and weakens the annuals and weeds (things that put out seed, but whose roots do not tend to deepen and widen yearly). Their hoof-pressure also helps aerate and loosen soil, breaks down decaying matter, and allows water to soak down and microbial activity to increase. Their manure is truly an essential element for returning fertility to the soil. This is part of why a rotationally grazed pasture will strengthen over time, reducing weeds and increasing fertility, while a continuously grazed pasture will help the annual weeds and weaken forage. Grass also sequesters carbon dioxide as well or better than trees, for those who worry about carbon overload in our air.

So, to draw the line between these subjects, well-managed herbivores add greatly to soil health and atmospheric balance. Were we to all eschew beef, venison, milk, etc, what would these pastures be instead?

Well, barring the idea of just abandoning them to weeds (we have to eat SOMETHING, after all), let's assume we're vegans and plant something appropriate to our new diet. This is going to require tillage, which exposes (what was) soil rich in microbial activity to the elements. This immediately reduces that biological activity. [we could use a no-till method, but that requires copious herbicide, which also has it's downsides, obviously]. Next we will seed it with our crop of choice - usually soybeans (which have a host of reasons to NOT use as people food), perhaps a small grain like wheat or rye or barley or oats, or maybe even corn, amaranth, or teff? Kidney beans? Garbanzos? Pintos? The options are myriad, but one thing they all have in common... They are annuals. While a stand of grass puts a good portion of it's solar energy into root development (which adds to the soil, when these roots die), an annual lives to produce its seed. The bean, the grain head, whatever. So all the energy it could spare, all the minerals we expect to find in that food, are pulled from its resources and put into that seed. Plant energy (from solar), nutrients and minerals (from soil). The next step is harvesting that (each of these maneuvers probably requires petroleum-powered tractors and equipment, keep in mind), processing, storing, and finally, eating. But then what? What do we do with the field? There may be some plant detritus (straw, if it were wheat or barley, etc) but we need to eat next year too, so what will we do? One might assume that we would plant again... But remember, a huge amount of that soil fertility was taken up into our crop.. That crop was harvested off the field, so with what do we replace it? We could add (using big trucks and tractors, again) expensive, transported loads of compost, but... compost is hard to come by, since we're not raising animals for food anymore (and we can only support so many pets, right?). Barring that, we have to get some chemical (petroleum!) fertilizer to artificially prop up the plants. Keep in mind this field, were we to continue in this manner, would require more and more inputs (fertilizer, pesticides, etc) as the years go on, and our crop would be a little more deficient in trace minerals and nutrients, if it ever manages to produce as much as the first year.

Tell me which of these scenarios is better for the earth? Which adds to carbon sequestration, natural (not petroleum-based) management and fertility?

Joel goes into the historical practices, why pastures required five years of herbivores + grass to = one year of grain, why pork and chicken (omnivores, who often eat grains/seeds) are really less 'environmentally friendly' than grass fed beef (no one thinks grain-stuffed feedlot beef is good for any people or soil or air, right?), and how much we could restore to our earth (and ultimately our health), were we to shift away from grains and annuals (70% of grain produced is used for livestock food - much of it to herbivores which do not require it) and towards pasture-based animal production.

So the next time I run into the argument that veganism = environmentalism, I will want to find out if the person has considered this facet of it. I know I hadn't.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Farm Truck

Boy, I'm moving up in the world, lemme tell you...

I'll wait while you pick yourself up off the floor.



Ok, that's better.

We went and picked up a few items from my Granny's estate, and one of them was this beauty:

It's a 1963 International Scout - customized. My grandparents bought it from Granny's brother in the 1970's. Around the time I was born (1978), my mom nicknamed it "The Great Pumpkin" (she was forever naming vehicles). Grandpa chopped it somehow - turning it into a pickup, more or less. You can't tell from the outside, but inside the cab, just behind the front (and only) seat where the roof meets the rear window, there are welding marks. Maybe it used to have a backseat? I remember bouncing off the interior of this while Grandpa drove through the woods to cut firewood with my dad.

The above photo shows its extrication from the shed where it has been parked perhaps 20 years or so. You can barely see a boat suspended from the ceiling above the site where the Scout was parked; Hubby first had to disengage that boat from the upper portions of the scout; a rope had finally given way, and it's rear half had come crashing down. It has a hole, but it seems the scout isn't any worse for wear.

Hubby tried and tried to get it started, and had the engine actually running (!), but the clutch has had problems for years, and without it the PTO winch on the front wasn't going to operate anyway. We had to get it back to our area (12 hour drive minimum), so we had to trailer it, which took some doing (and 3 other pickups)...

I'm sure those old ramps will be fine...
One pickup to hold and stabilize the trailer, one to run a winch through a pulley attached to the front end of the trailer bed, and a third to eventually drive up and hold the back end of those ramp planks securely to the ground. It actually went smoothly and according to plan, about which I continue to be astonished.

Around the Scout we strapped the (somewhat rotted) side boards to the trailer (it's a hay trailer my grandpa made) and packed various boxes, bags, a bed frame, four dining room chairs... and to top it off, standing at attention in the back of the Scout was a push lawnmower - you know, the kind with whirling blades and no motor? I've always wanted one of those!

We may or may not have looked like the Clampetts on the road home...

Here's a view of the svelte interior of my new rig: 

All original interior
We've made some upgrades. We've removed the dog food bag (and scrap of what looked like a sheep skin) from the seat (of course, now the hole with springs is exposed, but anyway..). We've washed the algae and moss from the windows.

And that's about it. 

I need to reattach the nylon strap that keeps the driver's door from slamming into the front fender when it opens.

We're hoping to return it to its former glory, which included both first gear and reverse, and I will have a handy mobile toolbox (and kid hauler) to use to:
     a) fix fences 
     b) transport cheap livestock from nearby neighbors 
     c) show off in local car shows.

Not really on that last one.

I bet I could brood chicks in the bed of it, though...

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Relative Abnormality

Now that things are slowing down (outdoors) and I have time to read and think more (oh, you thought I should have time to do laundry and mop more? Hm, maybe you have a point...), I get that double-dose of entertainment from my choices.

The first dose, I assume, is common to us all. We make a choice to read or research something because we are interested in it. And then, "yay, what a fun thing to read/learn/do!"

The second dose, for me, may be unique. I analyze just what it is that I am so thrilled to read, and I laugh out loud and shake my head at the subject matter.

Take this, for instance:
by J. I. Rodale

I borrowed this gem from a friend and market-gardener. But seriously??? Over a thousand (fairly antiquated) pages about compost? This is what thrills me???

And because yes, it does, I am entertained all over again.

But even I didn't expect there to be paragraphs to take my breath away. Man, they could write back in the day. Listen to this:

"One man will say, "From whence will come the raw materials with which to make compost?" and go straightaway to the chemist for a bag of something. He thus identifies himself as part of a system of soil banditry - taking, but hot giving.
Another man does not question. He knows that God gave an adequacy of everything and that if he seeks he shall find. He goes forth upon the highways and ventures into the byways. He comes home laden with the necessary stuffs, the wherewithal to mix a dish fit for the most savory carrots or the most exotic zinnias. He is weighted down with humus materials, both animal and vegetable, which the unknowing bystander considers trash or worse, but which, like the touch of Midas, will turn into gold under his competent hand."
Be still my heart.

I am finding compost poetic. We are talking here about scrounging manure (or maybe even roadkill??) and... it's beautiful.

Trust me, if this were anyone else, I'd be laughing at them. How can I do less to my own self?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Say What??

I have a friend on facebook who calls himself conservative. He posts articles and comments about big government spending, hates the cronyism, is against bailouts and that kind of thing.


His daughter's boyfriend explains that the people who are supporting them (?) apparently 'take' their foodstamps... and then my friend responds...

  • they take our foodstamps for them and expect a months worth of foodstamps to last 4 ppl and a [redacted expletive] black hole a month
    23 hours ago · 

  •  they're taking all the foodstamps and money? I am glad you'll be out of there soon! You don't deserve to be treated like a cash machine...

I wish I had that record-scratching sound effect to use here.

It's wrong to charge rent and groceries to a young (19-20ish) couple, in good health and stamina (who live in your home), but it's ok for that same couple to 'charge' taxpayers for foodstamps??? I expect this from OWS idiots; they're clueless. But this guy and I are often (supposedly) on the same page when it comes to government stupidity. Funny how the same problems we see in "the government" can be practiced by ourselves on a smaller scale.

We ALL have areas like this, I think. Yes, we're against handouts and bailouts... but are we really? When your state is offered 'grant money' for beginning some new educational program, do they take it? Do your conservative friends and neighbors think about how that will be a great opportunity for their kids, or do they think that taking it would be inconsistent with their conservative values? Usually it's the former.

I think about this sometimes when I see an article on some farm that got a nice little grant from the NRCS, or the USDA, or your other four-letter, government-funded acronym. Imagine what I could do with just a fraction of that... The back fence... A hay-feeding shed... A thermostatically-controlled chicken scalder... and a decent motor for the plucker... Oh the ideas!

But am I going to be part of the problem, or part of the solution?

If I don't stand up, how can I expect anyone else to?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


It's been crazy here. Out of town for a week, then furniture to re-arrange and re-assemble; an old vehicle to off-load, and hay to transport and stack. Before we got done I started feeling poorly... and have been in bed for ... well, this is day 4. I THINK I'm improving (but I've said that before). Two babies without so much as a tylenol, but I broke out the ibuprofen when my temp hit 104.2 the other day. Such a wimp, I know. :) No flu, no cold, just fever (heat, chills, sweat, fine, repeat) and bad pain in my back/hips. Which is probably why I awake at 2am and remain that way.

But in any case: This is something you don't want to miss. I remember watching the trailer to this a while back. This is the 'whole thing' and it's worth a watch. Random people on the street, coming to a sudden shift of opinion when reasonable, simple examples are given. Watch...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Hello, Mae!

I'm doing what I always do when I'm a) not pregnant, b) not nursing, c) both.

But before I disclose what that is, what do other women do in these situations? Enroll their kids in soccer, or something?

Anyways, what I'm doing is feeling like a farmer. Or at least, aspiring towards such.

No, I don't go to the livestock auction (yet), but I lurk in the "farm and garden" section of craigslist.

And that's where I found this beauty:

Ok, so the condition of this "pasture" does NOT make me feel like a farmer. More like a failure.
She is a Scottish Highland Cow, about 5 years old, and her name is Mae. She, in fact, was the reason (which I had forgotten), I started researching some of my genealogy a while back. The cow is Scottish, as were a lot of my forebears, and her name is Mae, as was (is) a farm my great-great-greats owned.

"Um, what do you want?"
 These pictures were taken a few days after we'd gotten her; she was still pretty unsure of me and the new place, so I could only get so close to her.

Pay no attention to those ugly black things in the background. They're not mine, and I'm glad for that.

Mae is (I'm told) about 800-1000lbs? She is hopefully bred; before we had her brought here, she spent about 6 weeks with another Highland bull. There are 2 bulls in that group of black cattle that are in our pasture too, and we have seen no 'activity' so are hoping she is expecting. Mae should calve in May, and if it's a heifer, perhaps we'll call her June. Or April. :)

Mae is much more tame, now. I have brought her a little bit of grain in a can (as she was accustomed to in her previous home), and now she will moo and gallop (do cows gallop? She hurries, anyway) towards me at the fence (I do not go in the pasture near those Ugly Black Things, nor Mae's horns, until we know each other better) to munch out of the bucket I hold. I love her. She is SO pretty, and such a striking contrast to those aforementioned Black Things. The black ones are far less tame, so they will not come as near me (though they will push Mae away if I leave hay on the ground) as Mae. They are always carrying a swarm of flies, and Mae has hardly any. I do not know if it's her long shaggy hair, or the fact that I'm out there at sunset and their black hides are warmer than Mae, but it's astonishing. Also, one or two of the bigger ones will suddenly throw their head around and spew a bunch of drool on their own backs. I haven't figured this one out; I don't see them do it at other times, and it almost seems threatening, but I don't really know. They stand there and glare at me, snot hanging in long strands from their noses, and some of them with dirty backsides. Mae looks like an angel compared to them. :) There are about a dozen of them, and they were continuously grazing the pasture to the east of us, before coming into our pasture. They're eating down a lot of the dead grass and weeds, but I won't mind seeing them go this month sometime.

Love those horns.. I think.

So our "herd" consists of one cow, Mae, and our three Jersey calves, Sir Loin, T-Bone, and Chuck (who is still a bull). I'm lovin' it. :)

Monday, October 03, 2011

September to Remember

What a lovely, lovely,  month. This was my kind of September, let me tell you.

Processing Corn

Every year I can remember, in our house (8 years, now), I have fought (and sometimes lost) the battle of "I refuse to fire up the pellet stove before October!" Instead (or in addition), I would break out the flannel sheets, the longjohn underwear, the sweaters.

Big Sister's Birthday Party

But not this year. It has been incredible. Only a handful of days that didn't hit 80 or even 90, beautiful sunshine, the garden continuing in bliss. Cool evenings perfect for outdoor birthday parties, kids playing with the calves through sunset, and eating at the picnic table.

The high today is supposed to be in the high 70s.


Ready for the freezer

We have left the homestead for a week or so, and I think we have forfeited that last breath of summertime. *sniff sniff* We have gone to an area that never gets that much sunshine anyways, and it is damp and dreary (in comparison). I am missing my summertime, and lamenting that the day we return is only supposed to hit 58 degrees. Alas, why did we not plan this trip for next week? :)

Organique turns four!

If you are enjoying an Indian Summer where you are, do me a favor and really soak it up. Enjoy it and spend some time with it, and tell it how much I miss it.

"Baby" (?) turned 2 in August. And needed her face washed.

Whatever you do, don't waste it. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

'Tis the Season

...For Birthdays.

Today Organique turns four! She has moments of downright civility and joyful helpfulness. I LOVE those times. Last night, after a brief meltdown wherein she would not wash her hands, she helped to set the dinner table and felt so proud of herself. :) Also, I caught her seconds before she took the scissors (again) to Baby's hair (again) the other day. A few months back she snipped off the top of her little upwards-pointing pigtail! :( I have a locking file cabinet for the scissors, tape, glue, dry erase markers, etc. and now the sewing room has a hook-and-eye lock too. We'll raise her up right, yet! :)

Rub-a-dub-dub, um....?

Big Sister turned TEN two weeks ago. It still amazes me! When did that happen? Wasn't I a newlywed, expecting that first baby, just the other day? Am I approaching "old mom" status? I distinctly remember my aunt (age 26ish) exclaiming to my mother on her 34th birthday, "GEEZ, Lor, you're only SIX years away from FORTY!!!!" and they both freaked out at that thought. I was eight then, and I remember thinking, "um, YEAH, of course you are." :) Big Sister has as many moments of drama as Organique has of helpfulness, so it balances out. Overall she is a TREMENDOUS help with Baby, and *most* times will do as she's asked. She desperately wants a horse (though that's not an option just yet), and enjoyed a few days of "horse camp" that a homeschooled teen put on for kids. We celebrated her birthday outdoors with a lot of friends, her favored oatmeal cake, and the night's fun consisted mostly of petting the calves and chasing the chickens to no end. I usually don't allow that, but so many of the little kids aspired to actually *catching* and *petting* a chicken that I couldn't help it. The chickens survived, and the children went home happy, and covered in yuck. You know it's been a good party when that's the case. :)

Big Sister after horse camp, where the teacher let her 'canter' after the other kids left. She was thrilled. :)

Baby turned 2 five weeks ago. Such a big girl! She talks, though not nearly as well as her cousin Paisley (who is a day older), but certainly outweighs her petite counterpart! She "runs with the big girls" at every opportunity, and keeps up, too! She didn't figure out how to crawl out of her crib (and a vanity dresser sits right up against it!) until right around her birthday, and that has been a blessing. Oddly, she will lay down for a nap without complaint, and settle to sleep immediately, but many bedtimes are fraught with tears and crying and endless escapes and recaptures. Such a paradox. :) Also, she will clamp her mouth shut and fight like the dickens against a tiny taste of licorice fermented cod liver oil (and truthfully, so do I!), BUT when I fill a capsule full of the same thing, she will happily pop it in her mouth and chew it up. Silly girl. [I have to fill and swallow several capsules of that flavor. I much more recommend peppermint, but it's still not enjoyable. :) ]

Baby swinging all by herself, Independence Day weekend.

So tonight will end our 5 weeks of birthday parties. I also have a niece whose birthday was last Saturday, and a nephew whose day is next Saturday (though he's not local). My brother and his wife (also not local) welcomed a little boy a few weeks back also, so this is definitely our birthday season!! Perhaps soon I will be able to get back to blogging a little better. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I've been awarded the "One Lovely Blog" award!

NOT ONLY THAT... But let me just be all excited for a moment to tell you BY WHOM this was awarded me... Sheri Salatin!  Does that name ring a bell for you?

Okay, in case you don't know her, let me offer up the little that I know... The reason her *name* stands out to me is because she is the daughter-in-law of my favorite farmer, Joel Salatin. I've mentioned him more than once on this blog. Half my kids ago I bought all of his 'how to' books on farming. Sheri's husband is featured in a lot of the photos... as not much more than a kid. :) More important than all that familial notoriety is Sheri herself (and I do wonder if she's sick with being "Joel's daughter-in-law!"I hope not, since I mentioned it!). I've corresponded with her a couple times on a couple issues, and she has been so sweet to take time from their busy farm season to point me in the right direction. She loves the Lord, loves her family, works on their farm, writes, and does this all while dealing with imperfect health (would you take a moment to pray for her in that? That God would continue to use her situation to His glory, and enable her to do all He has for her? Thank you!). 

There are a couple rules, apparently.
1 - Reveal 7 random facts about myself
2 - Pass the award on to 5 other Lovelies

I'm really no good at random facts, but I'll do my best. :]

1 - My hair is to my waist or beyond, if it's not pinned up. I've had people assume this is due to a spiritual conviction, but it's not. I just *never* go to the salon. Partly because I have four children that wouldn't perform well in a room full of scissors and poisons, and partly because I'm afraid they'll kick me out for being so *not* in style. 

2 - When I was little, I always wanted a haystack. And a sister (not necessarily in that order). God has given me four daughters (who are sisters!), and now I have a haystack. 139 bales so far. :D

3 - I step out the sliding glass door, and lean over the porch rail to shake out the tablecloth (and the highchair). That's chicken food.

4 - I need a new sliding glass door.

5 - I desperately don't *want* to be a redneck. You see how well that's working out. *sigh*

6 - Before I was born, my parents were poor, and my dad saw how tame the ducks at the local lake were. He walked home to his trailer, popped some popcorn in a paper grocery sack, and returned to the lake where he endeavored to simultaneously empty the paper bag, and stuff in two ducks whilst wringing their necks (without bringing undue attention from other families feeding the ducks). Apparently it was affordable protein, but really nasty when cooked and eaten.

7 - My redneck tendencies are honestly come by, and really, seems like in comparison with my forbears, I'm not doing all that bad...

Ok, now for the five bloggers to whom I must bestow this award. I'm even worse at this. Won't everyone I don't pick feel bad? What if they're my friends? What if I have more than 5 bloggy friends? What if I give it to strangers. Are they interested? Would this be a hassle? Will I feel rejected if they never 'accept' it? (speaking of which, I think I got this award or a similar one from Benny right around the time Baby was born. I intended to 'claim' it, and I never have. Now I can worry that SHE feels rejected...).

SO. I love you all, really I do. But I'm going to give this to five people whom I do NOT know outside of reading their blogs. And THEN I'm not even going to tell them about it. YOU can, if you like, but I'm chicken, ok?

How about A Baker's Dozen? She's a photographer, and mom to 14 kids. Nine or so biologically, a couple special needs infant adoptions, and she brought home 3 teenagers from Liberia a few years ago. Amazing. 

Fur Lined Toilet Seats - Man, SHE does some serious birthday parties (I think i might've sent home squash as party favors at our last birthday). She also homeschools, has parents who are farmers (that's always a bonus, right?) to some degree, and has actual flowerbeds. *sigh*

Romantic History - She sews - OH she sews - and does history reenactments with her husband and young sons. She makes everything (mostly) historically accurate, and might be a homeschool graduate, if I recall. 

Health, Home, Happiness - Healthy food, GAPS dietary protocols for Autism (and a million other ailments), pregnancy/nursing info, she has it all - and she uses it in 'real life' with her own family too. 

Last but not least, Fisher Academy International. This family are missionaries in Peru (I think?), and they homeschool using Ambleside Online (me too, me too!). She has a lot of Charlotte-Mason-ey resources and information, and though I haven't read there long, I love it. 

Ok, that does it! If you're brave, you can go tell these people (but I'm leaving. now.), or just go and find something enjoyable. No two are alike, but they are all Lovely Blogs. :) 

Thank you, Sheri! 

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

School Photos

I've taken a few 'school pictures' for friends and family, but my own are much less formal...

For example, this brother and sister:

Isn't he cute??!?

And then, we have ours:

How does she manage to look so angelic and innocent?!? I'm glad she has curly hair; I've never had her hair cut, but SHE has cut it a dozen times or so. You mostly can't tell...

Nothing like starting school with a giant bandage on your hand. At least a) she doesn't write yet and b) she's not left-handed anyway.

"Oh, this is a good book!"


By the way, that Baby turned 2 a couple weeks ago (the day Hubby was in the hospital). I forgot it was her birthday for most of the day! She also started summer with DARK BROWN hair. *sigh* She's getting so big... :)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

2011 Schoolroom

Here are some pictures I took when I finally got our "Homeschool Room" ready this year.

First, some perspective (because my photos don't include every part!). The room is in the western portion of our house, and there are no windows on that side. It used to be a 'family room' with an entertainment center and all that. Not anymore. :)

The brown rectangles are 'built in' shelves. The long shelf along the eastern wall of the room isn't pictured. It's our "barnwood" shelf, truly made from parts of an old barn and fence posts. I don't mind that, but it's also fairly cluttered; books, jam, boxes, gallon jars, etc. The strip of floor from garage door to back door, along and under the shelf is vinyl; the rest of the room is carpet.

Above you can see (most of) the west wall of our homeschool room. We got this huge (heavy!) chalkboard when our church moved out of its former building last month. It was the grassy green of chalkboards, but I painted primer on it, then followed that with homemade 'chalkboard paint' to match what I did on both doors, and the side of my computer cabinet (you can see part of it at the far left of the photo). The short bookshelf on the left holds a stereo thing (on the right, high up is a speaker. I can plug this in to my computer and we have some nice sound in the room for listening to mozart, etc!). The picture on the chalk tray is "A Young Girl Reading" by Fragonard. I bought it for $2 at a garage sale in July, then found out Fragonard is Ambleside's term 1 artist this year (I didn't even know who painted it), and this painting was on the list. The white board holds vocabulary words out of one of Big Sister's reading selections this term. These are the words I thought she might not be familiar with. Along the ceiling is our timeline. I moved it, hence the broken parts. :)

This is a view towards the right of the chalkboard, and is the 'kid area'. Rocking horse (and rocking elephant, but Big Sister is sitting on it) The shelves hold games, lincoln logs, story and picture books, board books, dolls, stuffed animals, boxes of miscellaneous toys, play food, wooden puzzles/stackers. Lamb Chop (butchered when I was tiny) serves as the hearth rug. We do refer to him by name, and always have).

This is the view of the South wall, and a piece of the garage door on the left. We have a couch, the other speaker, and two bookshelves. The first was found in the basement of our first home (I only got around to painting it 2 years ago), and the short green one I got last year at a garage sale. It was hideously primary colors, and poorly done, but is well built. The color is what I used on my kitchen cupboards 8 years ago. I finally re-glued the southern hemisphere back onto the globe after Organique tore it off in pieces last year. The maps are National Geographic, EXCELLENT price (less than $20 for the pair) from Christian Book Distributors. They are laminated - and REALLY ARE laminated - and we love them. The white shelf holds, from top to bottom, Mama's political/parenting/homeschooling books, then Little House on the Prairie mixed with How to [farm, raise chickens, butcher turkeys, milk a cow, make cheese, build a root cellar, weave a basket], and Natural Remedy type books. Third shelf is classics like Austen, Anne of Green Gables, Story like the Wind, an old set of James Whitcomb Riley, and some spiritual books. Fourth shelf is mostly theology and bible study resources. Fifth is supplements to The Great Books, and an old Childcraft set, and the bottom holds tall things - Encyclopedia of Country Living, binders, baby and wedding books, and a basket of magazines. The green shelf is still a mess, but the top houses my paper trimmers, linking cubes, big wooden beads, then we have some MathUSee manipulatives , and current reads and resources (Handbook of Nature Study, Usborne Geography, field guides for bugs and birds. Next is some James Herriot (not sure where he needs to live, but for now he's there) and "non-twaddle" free reading books for Big Sister. Below that is some of Baby's toys, and other tall things. Lastly is Really Tall Things, some of which can't even stand upright. Castles of Scotland, Bible Atlas, Saxon teacher guides, etc. You can see the beginning of our timeline at the upper right of the photo.

Here's a corner perspective in which you can see my little corner spot. This was once a set of wide, big shelves, but two years ago in the Great Room Redo, I enclosed them, took out the 2 bottom shelves and installed a shelf at 'desk height.' I also put folding closet doors on it, but I don't usually close them very often. :\  The shelves hold various things; my printer copier, extra supplies (paint, pencils, pens, erasers, crayons), flash cards, Brain Quest things, the rest of the Math U See stuff (and we don't use their curric), page protectors, rubber bands, sandpaper (?)... Behind the upper part of the cabinet is a narrow 'half shelf' which holds some old treasures, the stamp collection my Granny helped me with, etc. The File cabinet LOCKS, and therefore holds scissors, glue, dry erase markers, and much more. :) Little Artist has her desk here, and her chair, and... a bar of soap? I guess that could be handy.. The rug here is an outdoor patio-style rug, which doesn't protect the carpet so much as it hides it. 

Here's a little more of the kids' corner. You can see it's 'hemmed in' with a coffee table (basket of baby toys, basket of schoolbooks) and Big Sister's desk. On the right you can see the window fronted by a sturdy 6-drawer dresser (holds mostly old pictures, tissue paper/gift wrap, and other things that are no-nos) topped with a dollhouse. You can't see the round dining-style table in this corner (or the myriad bits of cut up paper that usually serve as floor beneath it) or the back door, but they're there. :) 

So there we are! I do wish DOING school was as easy as the planning and preparation! :)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Rest of the Story

The first part here.

So there we were in the ER, Hubby hooked to every kind of intervention you can imagine. Sedated. Steroids. Antibiotics. It was as though one thing required the next.. and the next.. and the next.

When I arrived at the ER, I mentioned that all my inlaws were there. MIL and FIL and I went back to the room where they had him, and the aunts/uncles offered to watch the girls. We were for a while in the ER, where we were asked all about his medical history, the circumstances of the day, etc. The good news was that the preliminary bloodwork looked fine. Nothing amiss there. The CT scan they did while we waited also came out clear. No brain bleed, stroke, or tumors. The excellent nurse (Garth) explained what was planned and how it would work; Hubby would be moved to the Intensive Care Unit overnight, where they would keep him sedated (they didn't want to remove the ventilator until they knew he was not swelling in his throat at all, and didn't want him awake with a vent in). While they moved him, it would be 45 minutes and NO ONE is allowed in the ICU at that time. [I'm not sure why. Maybe medical experimentation, or probing.  hehe.]

We followed a nurse or someone up to the ICU waiting area where we chose the "Family" waiting room, which was very family-friendly; a large L-shaped room, kitchenette, tv, lots of seating, and doors which close to keep the little ones safe. My MIL went back to the ER waiting room to bring everyone else to where we were. She returned with an uncle, 2 cousins, another cousin and his family (from out of town, but they were passing through when they got word of the situation), both sisters, a brotherinlaw... I got a phone call from another cousin who had left on vacation that morning, but heard about it and wanted to let me know they were praying, and prayed with me on the phone. It was like a family reunion, I tell ya.

Someone was missing though. A few someones. Hubby's brotherinlaw, the father of the little birthday girl, had offered to take the kids... all the kids. I will just describe him here, so you can see why I love this. Brutha Josh is kindof short, strong build, former policeman, current mine-worker (?), future diesel mechanic, LOTS of tattoos, no hair, and (recently) trending towards cowboy. He took his 2 year old, our special-needs niece (almost 7), and my four (almost 10, 7, almost 4, and one-day-away-from-2) in my other sisterinlaw's van, and took care of business. He drove them to Burger King and bought them a late dinner - making sure my Li'l Artist had food that was safe for her - then took them to Grandma's and tucked them all in with blankies and pillows in the living room, and put a movie on. He even diapered Baby. :)

Once they had Hubby all hooked up in ICU, 2 at a time could visit him. Mom and I went in and could tell they'd washed his face. He looked much more comfortable in the bed, and - again - was hooked up to myriad machinery. Now he also had an automated blood-pressure cuff. A giant touchscreen recorded and displayed his breathing and respirations, blood pressure, heartrate, and probably more. Some of that information was displayed in the hallways on even bigger monitors. From the nurses' station, they could see every patient's heartrate at a glance. If and when something odd happened (anything outside preset parameters), things would beep, and the appropriate patient's information would flash. Did I mention that this hospital just opened in May? I think I've figured out how they plan to pay for it, but I digress.

There was no change in Hubby. Still sedated, still medicated for everything, still operating on an anaphylaxis diagnosis. I left to go check on the girls (this is midnight or so) and take their pajamas and Baby's blankie to them. And maybe check on Uncle Josh...

First I stopped in the Family Waiting Room, gave what I could for an update and sent Hubby's dad to see him. At my inlaws', the kids were watching a movie and Josh explained that he'd fed them, but was careful for Li'l Artist's limitations, etc, and was doing well with such a job. I brought in pajamas, tucked everyone in and took my sisterinlaw's van back to the hospital (I wanted to leave my van and carseats with the kids, just in case). I got back to the hospital around 1 am or shortly thereafter, and my inlaws left. Mom did tell me, however, that the IV pump had beeped (they'd not plugged it in after the transfer to ICU, and its battery was complaining). Hubby had sat up and tried to get up, momentarily. She had gone over to say "Honey, you're in the hospital." I asked her if she'd been tempted to say, "Honey, you've been abducted by aliens!" or something, but apparently I am the only one with such a twisted sense of humor... I lied down about 1:30, but the incredible amount of grit that was on my pillowcase, no matter how often I brushed it or turned it over, prevented much rest.

I got up when they came to... swab... his mouth. It was like a dentist vacuum/spray and a spongey swab, which they inserted in the last little bit of open space left in his mouth. He opened his eyes at this point too, but slept again soon.

At 4:00 a.m. they came to turn off his sedation medicine, and then they said, "Can you open your eyes?" and he did. The nurse explained that they would bring a respiratory therapist so they would be able to remove the tube as soon as possible. He nodded. At one point she left, and with his wrist strapped to the bed, managed to lift his hand a little, and make a gesture. He pointed at his face, and then made a fist and forcefully jerked his fist away from himself. I knew he was saying, "this thing: OUT. NOW." I smiled and reassured him they were going to do so right away. I also told the nurse that he had made a very clear, somewhat insistent gesture on the subject. The respiratory therapist showed up, explained some things, did some things -- like taking a sample of respiratory fluid by effectively cutting off his air and prompting him to cough, a lot. He also did something to check Hubby's diaphragm control, and Hubby was sailing through the tests, such as they were. At some point in this, they changed the ventilator (via touchscreen!) from full respiration to cpap, which is an influx of air, but the work of breathing is effectively the patient's. Hubby did well at this, but before they could remove the equipment he had to take arterial blood from his wrist and have the lab test CO2 levels, or something. The therapist very wisely explained that he would be unfastening Hubby's wrist, but the effects of Hubby prematurely removing the ventilator on his own would result in some pretty serious vocal chord damage, among other things. Hubby refrained from any efforts on this front. :) We spent several minutes playing handicapped charades. He, with hands tied down and no way to speak, trying to tell me to turn off the lights... Or that the corner of his eye needed scratched... That one took a while...

About 5:30 they were able to remove the ventilator and OG tube. What a process! He did great though. And I don't think I will ever forget the way he turned to me, and in the raspiest of whispers said, "stroke?" That was about the hardest thing up to that point, believe it or not. HE, asking ME, and thinking that's what it might have been... I don't even know if that makes sense, or if I can describe it, but I still feel my stomach twist when I think of it.

"No honey, no. All the major tests have been fine. They suspect an allergic reaction. I think the heat had a lot to do with it too, and you didn't have any water up there..." I fed him ice, then water, they removed the catheter and maybe one of the IVs. Then he dozed. I tried to do the same, and peered at a blue-clad woman as she did an EKG on him. I don't think there's a single test they didn't do.

Later I got back to my inlaws and took the girls home to catch up on some things while they moved Hubby to a 'regular' hospital room. I showered - finally! - and we fed chickens, and calves, and brought the laundry that had been on the clothesline overnight (and put out another load, and put a load in the wash!).

Hubby continued in the hospital, got an EEG (to check for seizures), and I took the girls to see him for the first time. Hubby was tired, but 'mostly fine,' and we awaited a doctor to read the EEG. Which didn't come that day, of course! :) I took the kids home and we slept in our own beds that night (more laundry switching!), and tried to get to town early Tuesday morning. One of the 'first responders' stopped by (a dairyman from south of town) to see how things were and get any updates that might help hone their expertise.

Late afternoon a doctor finally read the EEG, and it was fine. This was a big relief. He'd been itching to come home, but the doctor who does that is as busy as the doctor who reads EEGs, I think. Finally he called (I was at my inlaws') and they were NOT going to discharge him because his white blood cell count was high. *sigh* While relating most of this information to the family, the overtired doctor (he was) realized they'd given him steroids, which would do that, so they WOULD let him go after all. And there was much rejoicing.

My sweet friend who teaches a mom's bible study made us dinner that night (we had also seen her in the day, and there were cookies involved), which she delivered to us at Hubby's folks' right after we finally 'got out.' We ate it then and there, as Mom certainly expected we would've been home by then and didn't plan on us for dinner. What a blessing.

Hubby had to continue several days on a couple antibiotics to deal with the aspiration pneumonia, and had to wear a little monitor/recorder for his heart for 48 hours. His discharge paperwork noted "Heat exhaustion/dehydration" as his problem, with some concern for a cardiac problem (varied bp readings during his stay, though after he shifted position in the ICU after being un-hooked, his auto-bp registered very differently).

Last week we confirmed that there was "nothing remarkable" about his heart monitor stuff, and he never even pushed The Button (which would flag the area) for shortness of breath, or anything else. [then again, he was home watching Star Trek from dawn to dusk, because resting is a big part of pneumonia recovery!]

I had the hospital forward all of his records to Hubby's naturopath, who looked them all over. I had never followed up with the EKG, and the cardiologist nurses/technicians/assistants weren't very consistent with their answers about the meaning of "Abn EKG" written somewhere, nor very efficient at trying to track down specific information on the subject. In any case, we were very happy to hear the naturopath say that everything was within normal range - including the EKG. This was a big blessing, to be sure!

He continues to do well, working long days (but staying hydrated!) without much problem. There don't seem to be any noticeable after-effects, for which we're grateful. Well, except we all have a little more gratitude for Life, and health!

Soon to come: Cost efficiency analysis of water, vs life-flight-plus-night-in-ICU. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


It has been a wild week. There's really not a way to make this into a funny, or moving story, but I want to write it down to remember anyways. So here goes...

Last Sunday (the 14th) the kids and I went to our niece's 2nd birthday. She was the one born a day before Baby. They are two now! Hubby stayed at home, still trying to get everything together to water our very dead, very dry pasture. We left the party around 4 pm, went shopping for a few groceries, then headed home. This must've been 5:00-5:30 or so. Hubby wasn't around the house, but I was busy getting napping kids out of carseats and groceries into the fridge, hanging out some laundry, etc, so I didn't have time to look for him at first. The kids asked about him, and I said I didn't know. Finally I stepped out onto the porch to have a look-see, and his truck was indeed gone from tits parking space.  However, it was parked just across the fence in the pasture, and he was walking across the lawn.
There you are," I said.

Hubby, working on The Hole in Spring. This is near the site he was working.

"What?" he replied. He looked quite hot and tired and was kindof short with his answers, so I went back into the house. I expected him to come in for a drink or a rest, but the next thing I saw, he was zipping back up the pasture in his truck.

Some time later I wondered how things were going, so I decided to call him. This was perhaps just after 7:00. I couldn't find my cell phone, so calld him with the house phone, but he didn't answer. This is not terribly unusual; the phone could be in his stuck and he might bhave stepped away for a time, or have his hands busy. I located my ocell phone, and called him again, and yet again, without answer. The last call was at 7:16. I decided I might walk up andcheck on things, and wondered if he had any waterwith him. I stepped out and looked in his work truck, and saw his big insulated thing there, so knew THAT wasn't with him. Nor was the water jug from the fridge, so I took it in hand, and told the girls I was going up to take water to Daddy. They said they would stay t the house. I walked up there, scanning for his shape, but didn't see any movement. I could see the truck, even earlier from the porch, but no movement. I got close, and saw him.

Face down, in the dirt and weeds.

I ran to him, and crouched down in front of him. It was a hot, sunny day, and his (recently shaved) head and arms were sweaty. "Are you okay?!?" I asked, and he made some sound. He had thrown up on himself, and in several places between him and the truck, which was maybe 10 feet away from him. I kept asking if he was hurt, or if he had been drinking, or what he ate. I instructed him that I would pour some water past his mouth so he could sip some or swish out his mouth, which he kindof tried to do.  I looked in the truck bed and saw a reciprocating saw, but it didn't seem to have been used yet. The door to the cab was open and there was an empty bag of Fritos on the seat, and some other things, but no water, no vodka bottles. :) I turned the key off to stop the loud Christian music that was blaring, and went back to him. By now the neighbor working just along the other side of our driveway could see there was a problem, so he appeared. By this time Hubby wasn't responding much, though we turned him to his side. He was not injured, and I had threatened to call 911 if he didn't tell me what was going on, or what had happened. He told me not to call. The neighbor told me to call. His wife brought a bowl of water and a cloth, and I washed the bits and dirt from his face and I called the 911 operator. Who I think was some dude just hanging out at home, and not at all like the "Rescue 911" show I remember watching.

Does Hubby look like a splat? I hope not; there were only so many shapes to choose from...

The First Responders (volunteers) showed up, with directing from the neighbor they found the gate, and drove into the pasture. After a time more people came, real live paramedics, the local firehouse's ambulance, I'm not sure what all. Among all the walking feet, I asked the neighbor if he could pick up Hubby's glasses which I'd seen on the ground between us and the pickup, but hadn't had a chance to get. Hubby wasn't responding to anyone, and they started an IV and took his blood pressure, which for him was quite low at 90/58. There was an oxygen mask on him at this point, and we'd strapped him to a stretcher. He started to heave again, and as I was sitting at his head, I moved the oxygen thing off his mouth and nose and grabbed the stretcher (as did everyone else) to turn him to his side so he wouldn't aspirate. After a few minutes of this, he was laid back flat and the mask replaced. Perhaps after this I moved out of the way, because I was more towards his legs/feet when they gave him epinephrin. Several people asked me if he was allergic to bees, and I was pretty certain he wasn't, but he seemed (to them) swollen about the face so they administered it through the IV. They cut his shirt off at some point too. I sent a text message to his mom (which she didn't see), and called the house to check on the girls (the calves were out, they couldn't get them back in, but a neighbor lady was around. I suggested getting a bit of grain to lure them, which she did, as well as drug them with the halter-rope).

A woman First Responder talked to me and answered my questions as things happened. I do not remember all of it, nor in the right order, but there was discussion among the people there, and the people on the radio about the dryness (fire hazard) of the field, and the bumpiness, and the inconvenient gate placement. When they decided they'd have to go through the fence at the nearest point, I asked if we couldn't just toss his carcass over or something..? We just *finally* finished that fence, after all! :] Someone on the radio asked if they "should send fire." The lady replied "yes." "Oh no, DON'T send fire," I joked (I suppose it could be weird to talk like that at such a time. I do the same thing in labor). She smiled and said, "oh, we have the local fire department prepare all our landing sites." I nodded, though I wasn't sure what this meant. They kept traffic away from the ambulance? 'Landing site' = 'staging area' perhaps?

Um, no.

'Landing site = landing site.' For the life flight helicopter. Discussion about the site, the field, the buildings, the small trees in the field... Mouth agape I asked, 'they're sending Life Flight???" Yes. "Because we have a fence??" Oh no. NOT because you have a fence...

Before or after this, a man addressed me and said "because he can't protect his own airway, we have to intubate him." Wow. I always thought that was for pretty severe cases, but I was in no position to argue it. I suppose they didn't want him puking into his lungs on the trip. :]

Life Flight landed alongside the driveway in the neighbor's clearing. The fire department had shown up and sprinkled a bit of water on the dry dustiness. It would not be enough. :)

They finally had him to the point they were ready to move him, and weren't sure how to get him to the helicopter. One of the first responders (the one who'd driven into the field - and left the gate open for the calves to escape. :) ) offered to load him into the back of his pickup, and they all agreed. He backed his pickup nearby and many of them climbed into the pickup with the stretcher. Thankfully they didn't *cut* our fence, but only un-clipped it from the t-posts and laid it on the ground. The truck drove over and they loaded him into the helicopter. At first I didn't want to walk by all the people standing where the ambulance and vehicles were, so I walked in the field for a short distance, watching to see when they would take off. Then I decided I had better go that way after all, for the fence would need put back up. The pilots gestured for me and another person or two to move back more, so I joined the people alongside the ambulance. But first I took a picture with my cell phone, because I knew he would never believe it...

The helicopter engine whined as it sped up. The dust from the area they were parked, and the driveway, was unbelievable. The setting sun was completely obscured. Before it was THAT bad though, I crouched down and put the hem of my dress over my nose and closed my eyes. I wish I had stayed that way, but there must have been a change in the dust, or the sound, or something, because I eased up on my improvised ventilator....

Oh. My. Gosh.

Next time I'm in the vicinity of a helicopter taking off from a gravel/dirt/dust pad, I'm running a whole lot farther a whole lot faster. After the dust came the rocks. It was like a sandstorm, a macro-dermabrasion, a sandblasting of amazing proportion. I dared not take a breath, but I was out of air. I shook my head and turned as much as I could away from the pelting, but was barely able to hold it long enough. Finally it stopped, and I pried my eyes open and carefully gasped for air. The neighbor next to me said, "I'd have offered you my straw hat, but I see you already have one." My hair was FULL of straw - dried bits of dead grass and weeds and seeds and DIRT and ROCKS. Wow. Truly this was almost more incredible than the whole experience with Hubby had been! A paramedic told me to go to the ER in Town to find my husband, but to do what I needed to beforehand, that there was no hurry. I (very ladylike) paused to spit out a mouthful of grit before responding. : \  This was about 8:00 or shortly after, I think.

By this time all four girls were under our nearest neighbor's willow trees, sitting as though it were all a grand show. A neighbor lady from further west was sitting with them (I believe she was the one to help with the calves), and the sweet lady who lives there was standing in her driveway wringing her hands and shaking her head (she is a wonderful neighbor, and loves us to pieces. She is not a believer though, and has a hard time with some things). I paused to talk to each neighbor in turn (as well as a girl with a baby on her hip.. I think she might be the daughter of the first neighbor who came to help me in the field), and gather up my girls. I told them Daddy was sick, but was being taken care of and we had to go to the hospital to see him and see how things were going.

We walked up the dusty drive, me spitting occasionally and trying to brush debris from my hair. Reaching down the back of my dress, I could pinch dirt and grit right off my skin. My underwear were gravelly. (!) At home I gave instructions and tried to think straight (get pajamas, change of clothes, Baby's quilt, Hubby's vitamins?). I brushed at my hair (which was pinned up kindof into a bun, mind you, but I carry a halo of fuzziness after working for any amount of time. Ugh), and changed my clothes - and the gritty panties.

We climbed into the van and I made a couple phone calls - I think I had called my folks from the house, asking them to pray, which they did immediately. I found Hubby's work phone in his work truck, and was able to access his contacts and call his boss and let him know Hubby would not be working in the morning. I called my mother in law, who answered without much excitement, and I knew she had not seen my text message. I told her I was headed to the ER, that they'd taken Hubby there because I found him face down in the field semi-responsive. It was slightly comedic, as she asked "his heart?!?" and I heard the echo from others in the room with her  "heart? heart attack?" I told her they didn't know yet, but hoped to find out soon. I told her we might be imposing on her, or would need perhaps somewhere to keep the kids, and she assured me that they "would be there." This was 8:45.

She was at the ER by the time I arrived - also my fatherinlaw, both sistersinlaw, at least one of their husbands, plus the little birthday girl, and a 7yo niece. The other's husband might have been there too; I know he was there later, but I didn't see him at first, or I don't remember it. Hubby's folks and I went in while the aunts/uncles/cousins and my girls stayed outdoors. The sun had set by now (9pm or shortly after).
Sunset from my home, June 2010

Hubby was tied to a bed, had the endo-tracheal tube hooked to a ventilator, an OG tube pumping his stomach, a catheter, and IVs in both arms. They had him sedated, were doing more bloodwork, and took him for a while for a CT scan. They said he seemed to be less swollen than even he was at arrival, so was responding to the epinephrin. LOTS more questions and information, and a bag full of sliced-and-diced underwear and shorts. :] Plus his wallet and cell phone. They left his shirt in the back of his pickup.

I will end here for now, because I've been working on this nearly a week, and won't have it done EVER at this rate. I will add that Hubby is doing well, and though there are things we still have to follow up with, he's home and functioning fine at this point.