Monday, July 25, 2011

New Idea

Okay, so I have a new money-making scheme.

My husband used to watch a YouTube channel of this crazy guy that rednecked cars into trikes, and other wild antics. He also had some useful 'how to clean the carburetor' videos. Of course, when it was discovered he had been a voyeur/pedophile, they cancelled him, but not before he'd shown off his $15,000/mo checks from YouTube.

I think I could do that. Not so much the how-to carb thing, and not so much useful to anyone, but for antics? Oh yeah. I even have a good name for it. "How Not to Farm." Or maybe "Idiots with Animals."

If I only had a videographer for that last episode...

Since Sir Loin was a wee calf 2 months ago, I've been trying to get Hubby to use the dehorning paste on him. It hasn't gone well, so finally, at or just past the age at which the paste is an option, I decided I'd better do my best on my own. Ahem. I reviewed the video I'd bookmarked on YouTube, on how to use Dr. Naylor's Super Easy Dehorning Paste:

Okay, so they don't call it "Super Easy" but it sure came across that way to me. "Allow the calf to rest away from other animals."

What was that about optional anesthetic, or tranquilizer? Hm.

The other day I did the first step; shaving around their horn buds. I found an old rechargeable electric razor that had a little flip-up part for sideburns. Sideburns = calf horns, yes? Apparently no. Maybe the battery just didn't have enough juice, but the first attempt on Ground Chuck (he's handicapped, I'll have to write about that next) stopped the razor cold. And the fur was jammed in the trimmer, having bogged down like a jeep on safari (you need a land rover. Trust me.). I took it back into the house, along with several strands of Chuck's fur, and got out the big gun. Er, trimmer. It's an old Oster hair trimmer that my grandma used on my uncle and all the neighbor boys in the '50s. I don't even know where or how to oil the blades, but it cuts smoother than anything else, according to those on whom I've used it. Of course, it's not rechargeable, so I had to drag out the extension cord (you thought I'd bring the livestock indoors, didn't you?), and then turn it on. It starts up slightly reminiscent of a jet engine; it takes about a minute to get up to speed, and the whirring sound slowly rises in pitch.

I did manage to shave both Chuck and T-Bone, if barely. For some reason they don't like to hold still when there is a motorized blade buzzing in their ear. They retained their eyesight, too (also barely). :]

So a day or two later, I found my blue rubber gloves, my recently-purchased-just-for-this-purpose vaseline, and Dr. Naylor's Magic Goop. Oh, and a clothespin that had sprung, in place of a popsicle stick.

First I tried to rub a ring of vaseline around Chuck's horn buttons, as shown in the video. Hm. It was less a 'ring' and more a series of blobs, some in the right spots, some not. Good thing he has long, protective eyelashes. I did the same to T-Bone, having tied him to the plum tree.

Now for the goop... Because of their twitchiness (or mine?), I tied Chuck to the clothesline pole, with a very, very short lead. Like none. Then I got a little pan of molassified grain to occupy him (he NEVER gets that kind of thing) while I carefully, gloves on, opened the Goop and scooped a bit out on my clothespin. I gently applied the paste, mostly in just the right spot, with the girls looking on (having been warned to stay far back and not touch this stuff or Chuck all day unless they want holes eaten through their bodies).

A bit of perspective: My neighbor told me to be careful of rain when I did this. His friend had a hole in his barn roof, that leaked on a calf with dehorning paste. The water fell on its head, the paste ran down the side of its face, and truly dissolved that which it touched. Its jaw bone, everything. I'm sure it had to be put down, if it wasn't dead from that.

Back to How Not to Farm: Chuck wasn't quite as nonchalant as the calves in the video. He paused from his grain chewing to shake his head and look startled. I did get both horn buds coated, however, and stepped away to put the lid on, prepare the hazardous material for T-Bone, etc. Chuck snorted, and pulled at his rope and I turned back to look at him. He was rubbing his head on the pole. I hope my clothesline pole doesn't dissolve, I thought.

The next thing I know, Chuck had gotten enough room in his rope to reach the ground, where he was rubbing his head and face in the grass. It was at this point I knew this was not going to work out like I'd hoped.

Thankfully I'd briefed myself in the "in case of..." section of the instructions, and determined, quickly, to "rinse thoroughly in a lot of water." I hollered to Organique to "Turn on the hose, a lot!" Which she did. I picked up the business end of the hose, and apologetically began to "rinse" Chuck. Cattle don't naturally take to rinsing, apparently, because there was a lot of rope-tugging, sputtering, snorting. I would give him a second to catch his breath, and "rinse" again. I also hollered at Big Sister to bring me a gallon of white vinegar, which took her several tries to locate, but she finally brought it to me. I eased off the hose for a moment, and with another apology, doused Chuck fully with vinegar. Repeat tugging/sputtering/snorting. Poor critter! But it was better than letting his face dissolve, yes? I repeated the water and vinegar for some time before finally letting him to his destiny in the sunshine, away from the (probably dissolving) grass.

T-Bone was spared the treatment. I came indoors and updated my facebook status to "Well, I won't be trying THAT again..." (really, I could probably just copy/paste that status a few times a week, at least.)

The calves have recovered from all but the bad haircut and just a wee bit of greasy petroleum jelly in their hair. I'm not sure if *I* have recovered, but I think I would feel better about it if I were a YouTube sensation, pulling in $15K/mo, don't you?

Saturday, July 16, 2011


[emphases all mine]

When you read this:

“Official projections say the world’s population will peak at 9.3 billion [up from 6.6 billion today] but with charitable initiatives, such as better reproductive healthcare, we think we can cap that at 8.3 billion,” ~Bill Gates

"The world today has 6.8 billion people. That's heading up to about nine billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent!" ~Bill Gates

And this, from Malawi Voice:

"About 131 children [from Malawi] who fled into neighboring Mozambique during the anti measles vaccine a few months ago were vaccinated this week at gunpoint."

And this, from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:

‘So the country [Malawi], one of the commitments that they’ve made is to build out this cadre of front line workers they call them in their country health surveillance assistants. So every month these 11,000 health surveillance assistants spend 3 weeks out in the villages, talking with the villagers providing basic vaccinations … They make sure the vaccinations happen, not only at the village level but all the way back through the system.’ ~ Melinda Gates on Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health in Malawi

You really have to wonder if it's all "for the good of the poor" or just some diabolical effort to promote their population ideals. (Bill Gates does explain his concerns with overpopulation are served by his global vax efforts. That better health + vaccines = fewer children born, since you don't "need" to have 10 children to get 2 to adulthood. I find this somewhat faulty, because if the diseases are so bad that many don't live to adulthood, why bother attempting to change that via vaccination or anything else?)

Just a thought: WHO the heck do they think they are? Do they really think they should try to control the population of the ENTIRE world?!? Just because they're billionaires, suddenly the rest of us should listen to them (and be subject to their preferences, at gunpoint?) in regards to subjects like this...? If they'd like to lecture about business-building, or some other relevant issue (in regards to their success) I'm all ears. But about medicine? Reproduction? I daresay it's none of their business.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Roots 2

I wrote before about the farm from which some of my great-great-greats hailed. That was the beginning of some way too much research into the subject. :) I called Gigi after that, to tell her how I could see it on the satellite map and everything. I wanted to confirm whether my great-grandma was born there or not (she and her parents came to America when she was about 10, in 1903 or so, and met with some other family and acquaintances who had already immigrated). Gigi said, no, not there, but they used to name the houses, and that Grandma Great used to talk about Plunton House as their home.

On a lark I typed in "Plunton House, Kirkcudbright, Scotland" into Google maps (pronounced "kur-KOO-bree"). Un. Be. Lievable. Yep; it's still there - or some house is, in the right area with the right name.

Think about that for a minute. How old is an OLD house in your area? My area was settled about 100 years ago or so, and there are still some houses standing from that time, because they're made from the rock pulled from the fields. :) How long has your family lived in the area where you are? Do they still live in the same house? Are your grandparents within a few miles from you?

In looking up  Grandma Great's parents' names, I found that her father was born in that same house. Do you know anyone who is raising their family in the very house in which they were born? HIS father was born at a house (of which google maps can nearly put me on the porch!) about 5 miles away from that (it also has a name. still.). These are all within 5-8 miles of the farm.

Something inside me is just amazed by all of that. How would it be to wake every morning to the walls that watched your mom or dad grow up? To walk the land walked by your grandparents when they were your age. I imagine a childhood instilled with belonging; with place, and purpose. Surely it might seem stifling at times, or constricting, but compared with today's typical lifestyle, it's incredible. Today we do what we want, we go here, go there, wrack up debt, change direction as often as the wind - that is not all bad, and certainly a cross-country separation still offers a lot more connection via technology than those ancestors even shared (possibly) from the next county over - but what an amazing difference. What would you do, how would you live, if you knew it was an important link in the generations of your family? I tend to take things one day at a time, working out what to have for dinner and sometimes what to aim for a few years down the road. But when I look back on these families that went before me, I see such a vista. Generations lined up like stair-steps, passing the baton until... me. What will my great-great-grandchildren see when they look back at me? Am I building a foundation they can build on? Will my decisions set them back? Am I taking this baton with the intent to pass it on, or will I drop it, trade it off, or use it up somehow? Talk about a perspective in Purpose.

It's popular these days to slap a sticker on your RV that says, "We're spending our children's inheritance," while you spend your golden years making up for the sacrifices your children cost you in earlier times. I submit that that's pretty near wicked. What a terminal view of things. Look back. Look at those who came before you, and realize you are where you are partly due to them. What do you hope for the generations after you? How can you add to that possibility?

It's also assumed in our culture that once you're 18, you're 'on your own.' Even if you can't afford to totally move out of your parents' home, it's generally accepted that you will have your own job, make your own schedule, run with your own friends, and do your own thing. You're solo - whatever you are and whatever you do is up to you, fall or fly. Sometimes there's no choice but that, but should that be our accepted ideal? Maybe we should link arms and see how far we can go together...

Now it's easy to think this is all about money and assets. But it's so much more than that. What if you knew your place and purpose and role in the Kingdom of God? What if your environment was a reminder of that place, of those who came before and those who will come after, and you knew you were an important link in it? What would your decisions look like then? What would you build? How would you live? It really makes ME realize that it's almost completely not about me. Even if dinner is still a question mark. :) I need to think about where to carry that baton, and how best to help the next generation prepare for their turn.

A part of me longs for that time and that kind of secure sense of belonging (or what I assume it to be; what it looks like from here), but I need to redirect that and realize I DO belong, I DO have an important purpose and role here and now. Whether I know it or not, I WILL be an influential part of the line (both spiritually and materially). It is a blessing to be aware of that. Now I pray to be equal to the task at hand...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


The other day, and I don't remember why, I googled the name of the farm in Scotland that my great-great-great grandparents had before they emigrated to America in the late 1800s. I didn't know where it would be, but I hoped I'd recognize a name or something, if I came close. I did. And then I entered the name of the farm (no address) into google maps.


Would you believe it puts it right on the site?

I'm pretty sure the confinement barns are new. :) I'm fascinated that a farm in production 200 years ago is STILL in production today, in the same industry (dairy). Obviously things have changed A LOT since then, but do you see the homesite to the left of the big barns? The little lane looks as though it runs through the old-style L-shaped barns that surround the barnyard (like in James Herriot's Treasury for Children). I can't be sure, but that's what it seems like to me.

It gets better though. Or worse, depending on your perspective. :] I'm glad it's not my farm, in this case:

This street view just blows my mind AND scares the crud out of me, all at the same time. You can turn 360˙ and take in the whole view, and 'walk' along the road. When my forebears left this area, they really never expected to see the place, or the people, ever again. And here I can sit in my rocking chair with my computer on my lap and 'see' everything. Wow.

Have you traced your family line at all? I've absorbed many stories and a lot of information from Gigi, but I need to take the time to sit down and 'interview' her. And my husband's grandparents. I certainly don't have the time to sit down and really get into the genealogy thing, but you know what? By the time I have the time, the information could be long lost. Take the time today to write down what you know, or call your grandparents and at least get some names, dates, places. Then later, when you have the time, you can do the census research and all that. It can be a fascinating and meaningful exercise. You never know what you'll discover. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Confirmed Freakhood

We were at Costco the other day, after a full day of errands that I did NOT feel ready for (that holiday week just messed me up), and keeping the kids from climbing into or on the huge displays of everything was wearing on me. I was not thinking of the special joys my children bring, or of their uniqueness and purpose. The hassle was all I could see.

We accepted a few samples along the way (fewer for Little Artist and her dietary limitations), and came upon the dinosaur-shaped chicken nugget stand. The lady smiled at the girls and said, "I have your favorite thing right here! Chicken nuggets!"

Organique grinned at her the same way she had before the grandiose announcement, and I asked her, "have you ever had a chicken nugget, honey?"

"No," shaking her head, still grinning. The lady looked from her to me, with some astonishment. Big Sister spoke up, "oh yeah, I think I had these once." Shock registered on the sample-giver's face. I smiled and mentioned that we DO eat chicken, it's just usually shaped more like a chicken, and less like a dinosaur, since we raise them ourselves.... and the work involved to get it to nugget-stage just wouldn't be worth it. :) Her eyebrows rose a bit and she said she wouldn't know how to do that (raise and process chickens) at all. I smiled again and pointed to Big Sister and Little Artist. "It's not too hard. They can do the whole thing, on their own." The shock returned to the lady's expression, but it included a bit less of "horrified" than the earlier nugget-less revelation. I think she was amazed.

And I got a little reminder, in the midst of a hard day, that my girls are not wholly trouble and trial. They are pretty amazing, too. :) 

And the fact that I look with joy at my girls because they each can eviscerate an entire chicken on their own (several, actually), and identify all the pertinent parts... Well, that confirms that I'm a freak, I'm pretty sure. I look forward with both anticipation and trepidation to the day when our children look back on their childhood and realize just how bizarre we truly are... :)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

School! Again!

For the past couple weeks I have been planning next year's schedule for school. It's a job, but it helps me to feel organized and capable, if only on paper. :P

Last year we used Ambleside Online. How did it go? Like all things, it was rough in spots, wonderful in others. :) Li'l Artist still drags her feet when it comes to learning to read, and Big Sister still doesn't like narration, but overall, we LOVE Ambleside. We dropped the ball on the artist and composer studies after the first term or two, and never did implement a foreign language, but we're striving to do better this year.

If you've ever considered a Charlotte Mason - style education, if you love the idea of living books, lots of outdoor playtime and imagination, of putting your kids in touch with Great Ideas, Ambleside really, really helps you implement it.

There's the website, Ambleside Online, which is full of articles, booklists for each year, weekly schedules which divide up the reading for each term, even Miss Mason's writings transcribed for you to read (or a modern translation if you prefer). The composers, hymns, folksongs, and artists are all laid out for you by school year and term in case you have no idea where to start on your own. But beyond the site itself, there is now a facebook group where you can have questions answered and see ideas from other AO users. Before (and beyond) facebook though, there was and is AO yahoo groups. These are run by some fabulous moderators, and have been an endless source of resources and inspiration. This is NOT all the groups, just some I'm familiar with.
AmblesideOnline - for specific implementation of AO's curriculum, the 'main group' I think.
AmbleRamble - for less specific topics, chitchat, etc.
AO Member Schedules - a quiet group, but full of files! Schedules for specific years in table form, in both Word and Excel format. Checklist form is available, and members can upload the schedule format that they use for others to use as well.
AO Cheat Sheets - I'm not super familiar with this one, but I think it has outlines to help parents with the narrations, names/places, information with specific reading selections.
AO Copywork - copywork selections from each year/term's reading.
AO Art Prints and AO/HEO Picture Study - One of these might be 'older' than another, but if you have a color printer, you can print pdf files of the term's art prints.

There are also groups specific to each year, and even each year's printable/freebie books (probably less necessary since the advent of e-readers). There might be more... some groups have files with links for the other AO groups, in case you're looking for a specific year, or special needs, or, ???.

Just recently I've found Charlotte Mason Help. WHAT a beautiful resource. I've printed off information about memory work, the way she schedules (6 weeks standard, then one "grace week" for projects and catch up), the way they implement copywork, nature journaling, dictation. And there's much more there too. She offers a curriculum of her own, but I found the selections to be *very* similar to AO's, so her how-to's and tips are still very relevant for us.

If you homeschool, have you been able to find a method or curriculum that you just *love* and that fits your family? What are some of your favorite resources?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Neem Oil

Something has been wiping out my beautiful sweet meat squash (as seedlings) and my beans (also seedlings). Other things are getting munched too, but the bigger plants tolerate it much better than the tiny ones.

This year I got neem oil so I could plant squash. This is my last-ditch organic effort before I throw up my hands and invite Monsanto (Satan of the agriculture industry) to build a chemical plant and/or genetic modification lab on my property.

Baby grasshoppers became apparent last week, which disappointed me greatly, as last year I used Nolo Bait to deal with a terrible infestation. It is supposed to have some residual effect but by the time I'd gotten mine from the lady who finally ordered it, it was a bit late in the year. I used neem oil on the ones in my garden area last week, and I believe it had an effect! There are still baby grasshoppers, but fewer.

But my bean sprouts kept getting eaten. My mad scientist friend advised it could be nocturnal bugs, like earwigs (and also told me how to use magnets to grow super-plants, and how to precipitate some toxic acid from crocus bulbs to [naturally] genetically-modify (?) things into super-duper-plants o.O ). I haven't had time to find a compass to determine + and - on my kitchen magnets, but I did don Hubby's LED headlamp and head out into the garden after dark the other night.


Earwigs. Perched on (what is left of) my squash seedlings, hanging around the beans. Also roly-polies (sow bugs). The info I looked up on Neem oil didn't say anything about earwigs, but many sites recommended using soapy water on them. The Neem oil says NOT to add soap or other surfactants, but my sprayer was already half full of neem, which I wasn't going to waste, so I DID add some dawn dishsoap to the mix. I hunted through the garden, hunched over (I think the battery is getting low), hosing down the thieving earwig vandals. I am happy to say it worked! The sow bugs don't seem as affected (darn it), and I don't aim for spiders, but they do run away from it.

Oh, and I have a friend that's fairly new to the area, and she had never seen an earwig. They are pretty hideous, if you're not used to them, and in case you don't know what I'm talking about, here you go:

They're not that big; one inch is probably as big as they get (and right now many are much smaller), and solo they're probably not much problem. They're rarely solo however, and can really wipe out small, tender plants. You'll find them en masse in a compost heap, so they're not *all* bad, and chickens do a good job of keeping their populations down (I just don't have chickens in my garden! Such quandary!). However, they are nocturnal for the most part (and chickens are not), so you might not know how many you really have until you see their damage. Or, until you're standing under the light over the garage late at night, and you notice the gravel seems to be moving... *shudder*

So, in any case, neem oil works on earwigs. Or maybe Dawn dishsoap does. :)

*I've also set 'traps' of crumpled or rolled newspaper. They like to crawl into it. Some recommend dampening the paper, but in the morning you can gather up the papers in a bucket and set them afire, or dump them in the middle of some hot asphalt, and be done with them.