Friday, December 31, 2010


They are here!  I just missed it.  Dodie was expelling the placenta and they were all wet and tumbling around.  Everyone seems healthy, dry, and both have nursed some.

Anyone want to take a stab at  names?  

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More on Pasture Compromise

The ram and the mare are working on their compromise.  Every morning, she gets a little antsy and runs around searching for the ram in the long grass.  He comes running out in front of her and she circles off.  I think he is getting the idea that it is a bit of a game, because yesterday, he came out looking for her.  I have seen them touch noses and then go running off in opposite directions.  Tag, you're it??

Yesterday, I saw what a fabulous dressage horse this mare would make.  She was doing a fair imitation of a passage as she chased the ram back to his pen when he came out to play tag.  I wonder if that is how the first person asking for Grand Prix movements from a horse was inspired?  Watching sheep tag?

The smaller compromise in the chicken run is also resolving nicely.  At first the older hens and the rooster were chasing the adolescent hens unmercifully.  They were screaming in panic, but no one was administering pecks, it was just adolescent hysteria.  Now they still scream if anyone even looks at them, but everyone has enough to eat and is moving more or less freely around the run. The young ones tend to bunch up behind the coop, but I see some of the bigger buff orpington's moving around.

I like it when everyone gets along, don't you?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pasture Compromise

It seems that until we can get some cross-fencing, some compromising will have to go on.  The mare just thinks chasing sheep is the best game ever....the sheep don't think it's a game.  So it looks like the horses will need to stay in during the day for a few hours and use the pasture at night.

The really good news is my chicken stealing rotten dogs are not the slightest bit interested in sheep-stealing.  The first day we tried letting the sheep out of their smaller pen into the big pasture, I tied up the dogs. However, this didn't stop the sheep from walking right up to the dogs.  No one blinked or barked or growled, and the sheep wandered away.  Today, we let everyone out, no dogs tied, and everyone is very peaceful - except for the darn mare...who is reduced to looking out of the gate of her stall at everyone else.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And this is why we need a sheepdog....

Yeah, we thought we'd get clever and let the sheep into the horse my husband decided that he should put a lower wire for the sheep under the horse wire, and I took the opportunity of the ram being out to clean the pen...the sheep found the area he hadn't wired yet and got into the front yard.  Then it was a matter of trying to get them back in the pasture.

This is when a REAL sheep dog would have been a wonderful addition.

We took our sheep dog breed out on a leash, but the ewe just butted her under the ram and she was running back to the house tail between her legs.  I caught the ram and put a rope halter on him and dragged/coaxed him back to the pasture in an attempt to lure the ewes in.  I rattled the "magic can" with pellets, and the family fanned out and attempted to herd the sheep through the hole we made by taking down the wire.

Minnie (7 months) thought it was a blast and went pronging every which way, but the more matronly pregnant ewes just trotted here and there finally finding the hole, the path to the ram and the magic feed can.

All of us were tired and so happy to sit down to a turkey dinner...and after all that running and coaxing, and shoveling, mashing a few potatoes and making stuffing was nice light work.  The turkey was done right when I came in, and it just worked out perfectly.

Hope everyone had a nice day after Christmas!  Besides running after sheep, I spent the morning reading the fascinating book my mom gave me as a present....The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball is about the first year on a 500 acre farm for first generation farmers.  It sure makes my 7.5 acres look like a piece of cake!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

May all of you be blessed with abundant hope, joy, and love today and in the year ahead!  

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Several Days at Home...Pondering.

I haven't left the small radius of house and barn for 5 days now. This has brought a couple of unexpected blessings my way.  The blessing about barn and kitchen chores is that your hands are busy, but your mind is free to ponder, plan, and dream.  And the nice thing about a small Christmas (whether it is by choice or not) is that a lot of the frantic-ness of Christmas is taken out of the mix.  Since I committed to consolidating trips this week, to save our ancient vehicle, I had to wait until today to head to town (oldest child's dentist appointment).  We have been running out of the easy food, which means I have to cook from scratch - no canned beans, so using dried, no milk, so ditto.  Stretching chicken feed with guavas and kitchen scraps.  Making cookies nearly every day with what's left of the butter and sugar so the kids still feel a sense of celebration.

If I succeed in making this small plot of land more self-sufficient, there will be times when the cupboard will look like this - no tomato sauce because I got a total of 5 tomatoes this year because of rain, or some such situation.  I imagine there will be other times when I have a bumper crop of eggplant or cucumbers and have to think of what to do with them.  This week was a small glimpse into thinking differently and not relying on a grocery store down the street.

It's been a rough year all around, in lots of ways.  There have been many blessings, too, of course.  Sometimes, they are small ones, like becoming creative with what's in an increasingly bare cupboard and feeling good that you drove that much less in a week. Sometimes they are big ones - like rediscovering old friends and making new ones.

I hope, in the coming year, that some of the less tenable aspects of our lives can be resolved - that my husband doesn't have to commute so much to Oahu, that I can increase the sheep grazing area so I don't have to feed them so much alfalfa, that I can build a greenhouse so my tomatoes don't rot, that I can find that way into my most struggling students' minds and spirits so they can learn their best, that we can find abundance in the work of our hands and in the love in our hearts.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I guess I don't have to worry about the water tanks anymore.  Now I get to worry about the sheep.  We have had an extraordinary amount of rain today (even for a rainforest)  and both my horse stall and sheep shelter are flooded.  Actually, the horses have a 6X20 cement with rubber mats area they can stand on, or they can go find high ground under thick trees, but the sheep stall was 2 or 3 inches under water.

I was in the middle of making cinnamon raisin bread, chocolate peanut butter stuffed cookies, and roasted garbanzo beans, when I decided I should go out and feed.  It was quite dark at 5 pm because of the thick rain clouds.  The rain has been pounding down all afternoon.  As soon as the sheep heard the garage door, they started baa-ing for help.  It was definitely a different sound than the "I am hungry, feed me now!" sound.

In the gloom of this thick rainy weather, I could make out that the sheep were standing in enough water for their feed buckets to be floating.  I ran back inside for help, but my husband's suggestion of letting them into the small pen wouldn't work - that was flooded, too. With my 11 year old's help, I quickly put all my feed, tack, shovels and other implements outside, behind barriers, up high - out of reach.  I spread feed bags on the floor and lured the sheep in with a rattling bucket of feed.  Everyone ate, but promptly went outside.

I hope they have the sense to go back into the tack room.  My husband did shovel most of the water, all that he could and made a channel from the shelter into the runoff pond near the barn, but the rain is not abating, and it is just damp and icky in there.

I hope Dodie doesn't lamb tonight!

Monday, December 20, 2010

"Small Kine Rain" (as we say here in Hawaii)...

We got a small amount of rain (unlike Oahu, which had quite a flood of rain).  The empty tank filled up a bit, and the horse tank, which is partially catchment and partially feed with an automatic waterer valve if the catchment should fail is fill and clean.  Everything feels fresh this morning, although the vog is rolling back in.  The winds are unstable, blowing back and forth.

I got up fairly early for a vacation time, added some electric strands over the old hog wire fence.  Now that the sheep are eating down the thick grass growing through that fence line, I can see where we need to patch some bits (or replace the whole shebang).  Audrey has decided she love staghorn fern which is really great, because it is quite poky and difficult to clear.  If she can do it for me, I am all for it.  However, in her zeal to reach the large growth of staghorn on the other side of the fence, she has widened a hole in the hogwire.  I blocked that up with a couple of strains of electric fencing.

Today, I hope to move the young chickens out to the chicken run.  I am going to block them off with some fencing until the older hens get used to them, and keep an eye on them.  They aren't old enough to eat layer feed, so I have to keep them separate for a while longer, at least for feeding.

The teens are having a movie marathon night tonight.  I am not sure how many young adults and teens will be showing up or spending the night, but we'll be home, and my kids do tend to pick really great friends.  I am trying to think of how to feed a horde with what I have on hand.  I was horrified to find that I have no tomato sauce left: that knocks out chili, spaghetti, and pizza!  Fried rice and fried saimin are my next bets.

I told my youngest we could make more Christmas cookies - I figure some of the guests might enjoy decorating cookies (and eating them) if she and I mix, roll and cut out for them.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pump House Blues

When my 18 year old got home from caroling, she left every single light on in the house.  At some point, my mom sense (or maybe it was the penny-pinching sense) received the message, and I woke up to run around the house turning off lights. This is when I noticed no water was coming out of the taps.

Unlike those of you in colder climates, there was no way that my pipes were frozen, so something had to be wrong with either the pump or the catchment tank.  I briefly struggled with my impulse to wake up my husband and let him handle it, but a kinder impulse reminded me that he hadn't slept well the night I trudged (there is that word again, I seem to do a lot of it) out with my flashlight and my cold bare feet to the pump house.

Sure enough, the pump was running hard, but I didn't smell any burning.  There were several inches of water on the floor and a sound of gushing.  My flashlight is a little weak, and I am not entirely familiar with the system out there, but I located the plug for the pump and pulled it (yes, stupid me, standing in a puddle of water in my bare feet, pulling a plug), then found the valve and turned it off.  That stopped the sound of gushing water, which had to be a good thing.

I walked out to the water tanks and, yep, the left tank was nearly empty.  Nothing I could do about it at midnight, so I went back to bed.

Fortunately, the pump is not broken, but it seems nearly 5000 gallons of water flowed out in just a short space of time.  A joint in the pvc piping around the pump had given way and it was easy enough for my husband to replace in the morning.  It is a great blessing that the pump is not broken, because replacing it would have been difficult right now.

Whether the lost 5000 gallons is a minor or a great misfortune depends on the weather.  This is the time of year that things tend to dry up around here.  Last year, we had a fairly lengthy drought which meant doing laundry at the landromat and short showers.  We still have 5000 gallons, but it is much nicer to head into the dry Christmas/early January period with full tanks.  Hopefully, this will be one of those short dry periods (I can not believe I am saying that) and we'll have rain.

It definitely won't rain today - the wind is from the south, which means vog and dry weather.  It also means that the air smells like sulfur and it is just that bit more difficult to breathe, and you can feel your plants dying....but it is cheerful to see the sun, and to have the chicken run nice and dry.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lots of pics....Pregnant Sheep, Beach Day, and a Honu (Green Sea Turtle)

The ram and the two ewes.  I was trying to get a good picture of Dodie (the one grazing).
 Elvis is so nosy.  Wherever I am, he's right there in my face.
 Dodie - anyone with experience want to chime in?

 See, right there, in my face.  How can I resist those sheep eyes?  How come he looks so sweet behind the fence?
Playing the noble soul.  
 Dodie from the side - about a week ago.
 Tried to get a picture of her udder.  She is a little skittish these days.
Maybe this is a little clearer view of her udder.  I would say it has been this size, maybe a little lower, for about a week or 8 days.  
 My Melly - Border Collie and ?  She is a bit small to be all Border Collie.  She does try to herd some, but mostly she does this annoying barking thing.  My kids say she sounds like Dino on the Flintstones.  However, one of the Mare's annoying jaunts into the front yard during feeding time, Melly rounded her up and chased her right back into the stall.
 This is a Banyan tree which has it's roots, or some of them, above ground.  This is a large tree, but some of them grow to look like several trees, but are all the same plant.
 I am going to say this is a is certainly shaped like one.  Notice, if you look closely, the ferns growing on the trunk.  If I am wrong, anyone from Hawaii can let me know (or Grandpa in Malaysia?)
 A view across to the North arm of Hilo Bay.  I just thought it was pretty - very flat surf today.
 Make that extremely flat surf.
 Carl Smith (aka Four Miles) Beach.  It is a beautiful day.
 I just like palm trees against blue sky.
 Small tide pool.
The kids like to swim out to the little island at Four Miles.
 Hilo Beaches are often pretty rocky.

 You are supposed to keep your distance from Honu, but they don't always obey the rules, themselves.  Notice the feet on the rocks?  It gives you an idea of how big this turtle is.
 Closer view....
I like Honu faces.  They look so peaceful.

So there is a picture record of two days: a day on the farm, and a day at the beach.

If anyone has experience with lambing - I would love advice on Dodie - how close do you think she is to lambing?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Feeling a little discombobulated today...

Even though it was a nice day at work, or theoretically, it should have been a nice day at work....we had our annual Variety Show and an all school afternoon at the beach, I feel a

It is just that the day started off so clumsily. I kept messing up with my feeding routine.  I have it down in the dark mornings, usually, so I don't get my work clothes too dirty, and everyone is adequately cared for - except today. I kept forgetting things, or dropping things, spilling feed and the flashlight kept going on the blink, so I tripped on things in the dark.

Then, on the way down, my 16 year old told me that he had early release today, could I come get him at 11:00.  Okay, so that took some planning.  Then, when I got to the alternate location for school today, I discovered I forgotten the permission forms in my classroom.  The long and the short of it was that today was a day of forgetting, and then having to drive places to rectify the mistake.  I drove to my campus 5 separate times today.  It is on the way to and from where I was supposed to be, but still.  Every time I drive my car, I think of how it has 95,000 miles on it, and what I will do if it breaks....

On the plus side, it was a Beautiful, with the capital B fully justified, day.  I got to spend at least some of it at the beach - and I got pictures, which I promise to post when I feel less "blech".  My feeding routine at the end of the day was much less clumsy (no eggs dropped, no feed spilled, no water all over my shoes).  Now it is time to straighten up the house a bit and get settled in.  Tomorrow is my last day of work before Christmas break....My grades are due, and I have a number of other administrative chores to do, but it is the last day....which ought to count for something.

Awwh, shucks, I just remembered that three of my kids have early release tomorrow.  More shuttling and figuring things out.....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Planning Ahead

During recess, I spouted off  a whole lot of stuff via email to my poor, long-suffering husband.  You can see I have been thinking about this for awhile - it was surely more than a 20 minute product, my prodigious list. Please feel free to add to my list!  We are feeding four pre-teen and teen aged kids, two horses (on kind of junk grass for horses), four sheep (soon to be more), three dogs, a cat, and a budgie.  

For, off the top of my head, six months: 

Shelves, Pantry, Freezer (taking into account what we already have): 

50 lbs flour ($25.00)
2 lb yeast ($10.00)
40lb sugar ($80.00) 
100 cans of tomato (maybe more) ($150.00)
50 cans of corn ($100.00) 
10 cans of jalapeno chilis ($10.00) 
6 jars of pb ($30?)
8 jars of jelly ($10)
50 lbs of rice ($50) 
10 boxes of crystal light/generic ($25) 
3 large bags chocolate chips ($45) 
3 large bottles of olive oil ($35) 
6 cans of coffee ($66) 
20 boxes of tea - both caffeinated and herbal ($50) 
6 large cans of hot chocolate ($60) 
6 cans of Nesquick ($60)
3 boxes of cocoa (not sure - maybe $20?) 
3 large boxes powderd milk (not sure) 
75 lbs of dried beans ($75)
2 bone in hams ($ 20) 
10 lbs ground meat ($30)
2 bags raisins ($25) 
2 bags cranberries ($25) 

Will still need to buy on fairly regularly basis:

butter (3.70 a lb) - will use two a week
milk ($4.50 a gal) - will use 2-3 a week
cheese (4.00 a pound) - use 2lbs a week
tofu (about $7.00 a week, unless we can schedule going to buy a couple pounds of ends at a $1.00/lb - she has limited hours.)  
fruit (2.00 a lb.  - or 50 cents a fruit about)  - should have one a person per day, if can. 
fresh veggies (can spend about $25 at farmer's market once a week for the last two until garden is producing) 
Alfalfa cubes, chicken feed, alfalfa pellets, dog food, cat food, bird food (only alfalfa pellets/cubes are weekly) 

Things to build:  

Green houses - one off the deck, one in garden - can use one off deck to hang clothes in. (wood, pvc, 6 ml plastic) 
Broiler housing - hutch off ground - 4x8 feet (can build one or two). (wood, hardware cloth, fencing) 
Hen housing: preferably moveable - will need about 30 square feet with roosting and nesting... (pvc, wood, hardware cloth, fencing, tarp? roof?) 
Sheep shed with concrete floor so less trimming (wood, roofing, cement) 
terraced beds in small garden (?) 
whiz bang plucker (plans on internet) (nails, plastic barrel, some rubber stuff, wood, a motor) 
fencing ?
Charcoal pit (unsure) 

Would be good to have on hand: 

Gallon of iodine/povidine (or maybe two) 
200lbs Diatomataceous Earth (about $200, but replaces wormer, and good for garden and storing food) 
sheep minerals, salt lick 
buckets for water
Sheep feet trimmer and large file for sheep and horses (teeth and feet) 
another bottle of vaccine for coccidae for sheep and chickens
XTN supplement for horses 
Rice Bran oil - gallon or two. 
Possible a few straw bales? (for hilling potatoes, animal bedding if needed, to add to compost for aerating)  

Other things to think about:

Plastic wrap/bags for freezing prepared food and butchered chicken. 
plastic containers or cannisters for food storage
canning jars and lids 
2 gallons of vinegar (for canning, cleaning) 
another large package of baking soda ( for cleaning and to unbloat sheep)
a castrator and bands to have on hand. 
a book on canning safely. 
If we do get dairy sheep, milk, we need a diffuser, a dairy thermometer, some cheese rennet, minimum. 

Possibly a dairy breed ram and a couple of ewes (would cost a packet) to improve our sheep and have marketable ewe dairy lambs. Would have to get these from WA.  I have a contact.  Would need to air ship them to Kona to minimize stress.   

I was being a little telegraphic, and so far he has not responded to my email.  Poor guy, I sent him about four homestead-related emails today during the 20 minute recess and he has replied to the two shortest ones.  I bet he printed this one out and plans to digest it tonight....yeah, that must be it....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Almost lost small fight with the ram....

I was reduced to wrestling it out with my ram - my fault for not closing the gate when I went to inspect Dodie, the expecting sheep.  She high-tailed it out of the small pen, and he came roaring in like a big black thundercloud.  My usual offer of a good petting sure didn't stop him, so I grabbed his ruff or mane or whatever you call it on a hair sheep, turned him around and started to physically push him toward the gate, calling for help.  I am amazed that someone actually heard me - the kids are usually deep in the basement and I was on the far side of the barn.  My lovely 16 year old boy came out and rattled food and I shoved the distracted ram out the gate and shut it.  I now stink, but having my blogging priorities in mind, I am typing smelling like a ripe ram.

Positive news- my five mature hens laid 3 eggs today.  Molting has been rough - having to pour food down their greedy beaks for no eggs.  They are back to regular appetites and beginning to pick up production.  I have lost track of how old my young hens are, but I am assuming I have at least two months until they start laying, too.

Mustard cabbage is only thing in the garden that is surviving alternate vog and cold buckets of rain.  But, ever hopeful, I am meeting a guy at the local little market to pick up some of his excess seed potatoes.  It's worth a try, anyway.

I sure wish someone had videotaped me and Elvis - it would be sure to give someone a laugh.  I am just so glad I didn't fall, splat, in the mud out there.  It was a close call.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow, FIlled Udders, and Gingerbread....

I borrowed this picture from my friend, but it shows the snow on the mountain - it was cloudy up at my house, but apparently in Ke'eau it was much sunnier this morning.  This is actually a picture taken at Kamehameha Schools. They have a clear and beautiful view of both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea (pictured).  Sometimes, if there is a much bigger storm, the snow will come half way down the mountain. I think this is one of my favorite pictures of the mountain ever!  This school is an amazing legacy from one of the last Princesses in Hawaii.  You can read about her here: Bernice Pauahi Bishop .

As of this morning, Dodie is still pregnant.  She spent the day yesterday standing on the pile of finished compost.  I am not sure why every time I went to check on her she was standing in the same place, in the same attitude, as if she were a statue of a noble sheep.  Certainly, she was quick enough to come running in when the food can rattled in the evening.  Audrey had her stuck through a hole in the old fence which I didn't realize was there, until the sheep ate down the brush in the area.  Now, I know I need to run a few more strands of electric wire for now and replace that length of fence soon - now that the sheep are cleaning up the fence line, it will be much easier.  She also came running when the feed can rattled, so she was only pretending to be stuck.

My youngest child and I made a big batch of gingerbread dough and had a girls' day shopping for her siblings.  We only rolled out and baked 1/3 of the recipe, and she proclaimed loudly that (except for Dad) any member of the family who wanted a cookie had better bestir themselves to help decorate.  Everyone filed by and sprinkled sugar and cinnamon candies and then went back to studying for finals.  We made maybe 2 1/2 dozen cookies, and there are 2/3 of the recipe still in the fridge.

I made a huge pot of Portuguese Bean Soup.  I'll be eating it all week, I can tell.  Good thing I like it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It Snowed on Mauna Kea!

Here's a link to all the observatory cams up on the mountain....which is as close as I am going to get, probably: Snow on Mauna Kea

I don't like the elevation.  It makes me feel dizzy and headachy, so I prefer not to head up there.  I like to look at it from down here, though.  It is very beautiful on a sunny, relatively warm day on the Big Island and look up at a snow capped mountain.  They say Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on earth if you measure it from the bottom of the sea, but I think that's cheating!

Even though it is 7:20, I haven't gone out to feed.  Bad farmer.  I did take my oldest to work, and the usual crowd of suspects wasn't lined up at the door, so everyone must be a little sleepy.  Generally, when I drop her off, there are a number of customers impatiently waiting for 7 am, but today, no one.

I am trying to decide between baking Christmas cookies and cleaning animal pens and the house.  I am sure my 11 year old will vote for cookies.  She's had those cookie cutters waiting for a couple of weeks now!  When I was little, I learned to do the work first and play later, but for her sake, my little girl who works pretty hard, I may just do those cookies and save the cleaning for later.

Ohia the laminitic paint horse is having a better day, and if the rain stays away for a bit, I may walk him and the mare  out to the "arena" (flat, unfenced, cinder area I laughingly call arena), and work with her.  She is more comfortable if he is there, and there is some good grass out there.  The trainer fell through for the third time, and since using a trainer was more of a convenience/lazy me thing, I guess I am going to have to do it myself.  I am feeling a little old and stiff to deal with a feisty TB/WB cross, but she already had her ground work with me and she trusts me.  It shouldn't be that bad.  If worse comes to worst, I can rig up some kind of electric fence round pen out there - the lack of fencing and barriers on the arena was worrying me, but I should be able to think of something.

Last night, I decided to check in on the ewe by flashlight.  She didn't look like labor was starting, but all of them were quite diverted by the flashlight.  I stood watching them for a long time, even singing them some Christmas carols.  "Away in the Manger" felt appropriate.  I don't sing that well, but the barn was seemed quite pleased- or maybe they were just startled.  My mare came to exchange muzzle rubs with the ram, and the adolescent lamb and the non-pregnant ewe came and stood looking up at me at the fence.  I confused the rooster, because when I stopped singing, he started crowing.  I guess I am just lucky the dog didn't start howling.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Grandpa's award, Big Storm, and Gratitude for a whole host of things...

I have been awarded this from Grandpa.  I am honored!  He already gave it to Faith and Chai Chai, so I can't give it to them again (can I?)  You should go check out all their sites, if you haven't :).  

Today I got a lot done, but that was because I forgot my cell phone and the internet was down all day at work. I was forced to grade papers.  Actually, I was going to do that anyway, but now I was assured of the time and lack of distractions.  I also got lots of curriculum planning done, which was good.  Actually, considering I was in faculty meetings from 7:30 to 10:30, and I left work in advance of the storm at 3:00 - I am amazed at what I did today!  Yay, me! 

Yes, we are expecting thunder, lightning, possibly lambs...and six inches of snow on Mauna Kea.  It looks so beautiful once the clouds have cleared away and you can see the snow up there.  I don't like to go up because of the elevation, but maybe my husband will take whichever kids would like to go.  We don't have many opportunities, because it doesn't snow up there every year, and sometimes it isn't very deep, but when we get a lot, the kids like to go up with boogie boards and "sled".  Hawaiian sledding. 

(Actually, the Hawaiians did have a type of sled - holua.  They would slide down hills with these wooden sleds which would go very fast. It was fairly dangerous, but a lot of fun, apparently.  I would really like to try sometime - maybe the bunny hill of holua slides...)

I am sorry this is a little disjointed, I guess I am a little giddy from the five inch stack of student writing I waded through.  On the farm front, my ewe's udder is still growing (I will take pictures tomorrow morning, Chai Chai - it is so cloudy and dark tonight.)  but she doesn't seem to be showing any signs of labor - no restlessness or lack of appetite.  It would be quite dramatic if the thunderstorms and buckets of rain were crashing down as the lambs were born - but on second thought, yeah, I could give that a miss.  

I am also slightly giddy because I just found out that one of my best friends from childhood who just 18 months ago was literally weeks away from dying is running in the Honolulu Marathon this weekend.  It is her 32nd marathon, and I am grateful beyond words for her life, strength, and for God's wonderful miracle.  

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On Treed Cats, Pregnant Ewes, and Vog...and 6th grade band concerts.

As you can see, it has been an eventful day.  It took some finesse and precision for timing, but it all got accomplished....

First, it was a very voggy day.  The wind is blowing all that Volcanic gas from Kilauea over our side of the island, which means the air smells like sulfer and my nose runs.  It also means a red moon and the most gorgeous sunrises....I guess you take the good with the bad.

After work, I had to criss cross town to pick up kids and get them various places.  I was already crunched for time when I got home to discover a stray cat stuck up in a clump of guaiwi.  My very naughty dogs had it stuck up there for almost 24 hours apparently.  I heard them barking all night last night, and when I went out to feed at 5 am, they were circling the clump of trees.  I couldn't see anything up there, though, and when I checked our cat, she was in the house and fine, so I left for work.

Even though I had to get my 12 year old to his activity and hele on myself to the 6th grade band concert (my ears wincing in anticipation), I did try to problem solve briefly with my teenagers.  In the end, they had a ladder, a crate, a jacket to throw over the cat, and a bowl of food, so I left the 16 year old 20 feet up the tree with his sister holding the bottom of the ladder.

The twelve  year old was very late for his activity, but I made it on time for the band concert.

At the same time, my pregnant ewe's udder has gotten very large, and since the previous owner had told me she was a few weeks away from lambing about 2 months ago, I am all on tenterhooks.  I feel almost as anxious as when I was 9 days late with my own pregnancy - let's get it over with, already!

The band concert was better than I had thought it would be, but mercifully short, and I didn't need to figure out how to pick up kids from two locations 10 miles apart at the same time.  The concert ended as if it were perfectly timed for me to get across town to retrieve the 12 year old.

I came home to no lambs, but also no cat in the tree - but the cat food bowl is up 20 feet in the tree, so apparently it had a snack before leaving.  I am relieved, although it would have been nice to have another barn cat.  

Now if only the tradewinds would come back and get rid of the nasty vog.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's cold!

It is pretty cold this morning - it was 50 degrees outside.  That's cold for us, although as I see the mainland snow on the news, I know that sounds like Spring weather to many of you.  

I had a busy weekend, but I had time to take some pictures.  

Tahitian Gardenia.  It smells heavenly, and it grows well up here.  
 The horses of the family - looking at me, wondering when I am going to feed them.  Sorry, guys, it isn't time for a meal! I am just saying, "Aloha!"  

 Sometimes, when the sun comes out after the rain, all the leaves sparkle.  The picture didn't come out the way I wanted it to, but it still makes me smile.  I planted these pines when we first moved here.
My sister painted this quite awhile ago - The Annunciation.  I hope she doesn't mind me posting it!  I was surprised with a Skype call from her as we decorated the tree - perfect timing!  

I baked whole wheat cinnamon buns (they were already flying out of the pan, before I could grab the camera.  I also baked 50 sandwich buns.  I usually make bagels with some of the dough, but the buns are easier when you are crunched for time.  

My oldest daughter decided her job was to direct the decorating efforts....

Hawaiian fabric Christmas tree skirt.  It is very cheerful to pull this out for the holidays.  

 My son really takes the decorating seriously!  My older daughter bought this tree for us with her work money.  It is a locally grown pine and the branches are very flexible.  It's the first time we have one of this variety, so we're learning how to decorate it as we go.
The tree is only half done, but it got late.  We'll finish tonight.  
Here is a close up of this tropical pine.  You can see that the branches are different than a more temperate zone pine.  It has only a faint scent inside.  I notice that our Mexican Cypress outside only have a noticeable scent when it is cold outside.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Project

I am determined to make a small frame with clear plastic to fit over the table where I start my seeds, like a little greenhouse. If I can't get the big greenhouse, yet, at least I can have a place for seeds to start out of the rain.  I generally plant directly in the ground because the seedlings just drown in the seed trays, but I know some things, like spinach, do better here if you start them in trays.

I spent a very long time in Home Depot this morning trying to figure out how to fit it together with available pvc plumbing bits.  I had some ideas, but I had to see what parts there were.  A nice corner piece would be nice, but I was trying to recreate this with elbows and tees.

When I got things home, I realized I had bought two threaded tees, which I didn't want, and that what I had figured out in the store the first time might have been better than what I actually ended up with.  Well, I will just have to figure it out with what I got, and with whatever odds and ends we have left from building our house.  I will let you know how it goes!

Friday, December 3, 2010


I know I am getting a bit repetitive about rain, but the sheep stall has small river running through it. That part of the barn only gets that way once every two years, so it is worth noting that this is the second time in a month. It might have to do with us moving dirt around to make fences for the sheep, but I did check my impromptu rain gauge (bucket on ground near chicken run) and we got about four inches of rain between 5 pm and 5 am.

I remember Chai Chai suggested cinder blocks for the sheep stall awhile back, but I didn't have any spares. It looks like I am heading over to buy some after school.

It is notable that the horses elected to stay out in the pasture last night even though it was bucketing (a step up from pouring - I am going to have to develop 80 different words for rain....).  Usually, they are in by 5 am, because they expect me to feed them, I think the rain had their internal clocks all off, because they stayed out, even though I rattled the buckets.  They must have been deep in the back clump of trees.  It was amusing, because the dogs ran out and started barking, because they enjoy barking at the horses as they come in to eat - but there were no horses to bark at.  They seemed mildly confused, and it reminded me how much animals are creatures of habit, too.

I got some beautiful pictures of my flowers which are completely enjoying this intense rain, followed by some sun - I will have to post them later, because I forgot to bring the camera to work.  Recess if over, so back to work (can you hear the crack of the whip - or possibly the roar of children coming in from recess?)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Feeding by Flashlight....

I woke up at 4:00 am, as usual, but had a hard time boosting myself out of bed.  At 4:30, it started bucketing rain and kept it up for about half an hour.  I lay there thinking that I really didn't want to go out there and feed in the dark and the kind of rain that has you drenched in a second or two....pretty lazy of me.

I did eventually get my lazy bones up and got the kids up and headed out with the flashlight.  I was briefly tempted to borrow my husband's boots and old Air Force jacket, but put on my new (uncomfortable) rubber boots and the pvc rain cape to trudge out to the barn.  I am not a morning person, so trudging seemed appropriate.

As I fed the chickens, I spied a bucket that had been left out in the rain.  I saw that we had received an inch and a half in about 45 minutes! This explained the fractious behavior of my young mare; rain always gets her excited!

If we were in any danger of being low in the catchment tanks after a slightly increased household over the long weekend, this rain surely fixed that. 

As we drove down toward town, the skies got lighter and lighter, until by the time I reached work, the sun was shining.  Sometimes I think that it is raining right over my road, and nowhere else.  It is actually somewhat true: a few miles up or down the highway that crosses our road, and the weather is completely different: some sort of weird effect of the topography.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back to Work

After the lovely four day weekend, I am back to work.  Actually, I went back yesterday, but today actually felt like work.  It was the usual 12 hours away from home, but as the uncertainty about Dodie's due date, and my absolute lack of experience with sheep makes it worrisome.  I wish the previous owner had been more certain about when she was bred!

Today, I wrote down my goals for the farm: more cross fencing with water troughs and small shelters (partially for water catchment purposes so I don't have to haul as much water out to the back of the property), a small green house, a huge garden (with me somehow figuring out how to grow things that are not just cabbage or cabbage-like) - able to produce some dairy, vegetables, and some fruit.  They are nice dreams.

Right now, I would be happy if I can get at least one more bigger pasture for the sheep, and if my garden would grow SOMETHING this year.  Actually, that is not fair to the garden; I did get some beans and a mustard cabbage and a few tomatoes this year.  Getting the sheep, and the learning curve of it all, has taken what time I did have for the garden away, but I actually have enjoyed having them very much, so it was a good trade.  Now, though, I feel a renewed sense of determination and urgency about growing a garden!

I do have to say, I would much rather care for animals than fight against the kikuyu runner grass.  Pulling that out is like pulling out steel wire. It is actually amazing stuff, brought from Africa to feed cattle in the 19th century.  It isn't so good for the horses, but the sheep love it, and so do old Henry's cows across the street.  My horses can't live off it, but I know the only grain those cows get is when he is trying to catch them, and they look quite fat and happy over there.  Maybe the steel wire characteristic needs ruminant stomach to handle it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday Drive

Sunday started off productively. I stripped the sheep stall down to the bare floor, sprinkled some diatomaceous earth and rebedded the whole thing.  However, when I headed inside to accomplish the other things on my To Do List, my husband decided he wanted to take a Sunday drive down to Punalu'u Beach.  It is quite a distance, so I pulled out the camera.  I thought we were going to the public beach park where there are usually honu (giant sea turtles) but we went over by the heiau, an ancient Hawaiian worship place.  I still took pictures....

I found this bit of coral and thought it would make a good picture. 

 Beautiful sky.
 A friend and his little girl.  The kids are running over the beach bare foot...tough feet!
 My husband is fishing - we didn't catch anything.
 The kids are swimming - there is a little protected part right in front of this rock - otherwise, these seas are too rough.  Actually, the tide was coming up, and the kids had a scary moment when they were dragged through the surf. We got them, of course. This was a good lesson - don't turn your back on the ocean.
 Even in the rocks, the naupaka grows.
This is why the Big Island, at least the east side is not highly popular with beach going tourists - they stick to Maui or Oahu.

A better picture of the kids.

A close up of Naupaka.  There is a Romeo and Juliet type legend surrounding this flower - two unhappy lovers were separated.  One is banished to the seaside and one to the mountains.  The flowers are in half to show they are missing the other lover.
I couldn't find any Honu, but here's a sign about them!  They love the black sand beaches and will come to sun themselves.  Black sand beaches are very hot in the summer. 

This a picture of one of the heiau at Punalu'u.  The Hawaiian people would worship at these sites.  Punalu'u is on the path of a series of heiau and sacred sites.

A dried up old coconut.
A hiker must have brought the coconut from the grove in the middle distance behind this smaller Heiau.
The waves were fairly large.  You can see how rocky the coast line is.  Our island is still young, and there aren't many sand beaches.
A clearer view of the coconut grove and the ranch behind.
I just thought the sweep of the mountains behind the beach was beautiful!
That wave in the middle of the picture is much larger than it looks: the cliffs there are about 20 feet high.  The lava in the fore ground is a'a lava, rough lava which when it was flowing was full of gases, which left it rough and sharp.

A view of the beach from the heiau.

Part of this beach is rocks.  I love the smooth textures.  Once while camping here, I found a poi pounder.

I hope you enjoyed our Sunday drive!  The whole drive there, all I could think of was how much I wasn't doing at home - but once I got there, the beach worked its magic!