Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sheep have their pen!

Yesterday they ran out, gladly.  Today, Minnie and her Ma went out, then came back in, and the ram (still needs a steady name - he has three right now out on trial basis) just wanted to lean on me and get his daily dose of petting.  I finally just propped the gate open and "left" to give them water and take care of the chicks.  I am going to try them out for an hour to an hour and half and see how everyone does.

It sure makes it easier to clean the pen with them out of it.

I am feeling a little ambivalent.  I let my youngest daughter go to trick-or-treat and spend the night with a classmate.  My teenagers have their own plans, and that leaves my 12 year old in a bind.  He is too old to trick or treat alone with his parents, and he hasn't made plans/invited anyone.  We live rural enough that we need to drive to a neighborhood in town, or up by the Volcano Golf Course.  He is saying he doesn't want to go, but I have a hard time believing it.  I feel sad; perhaps I should have told my daughter to spend the time with us.

I am feeling a bit draggy today.  I know I have to start the baking and the laundry, but really having a hard time motivating myself!  I think I might be catching a little bit of a cold.  Hope it passes quickly.  This is the time of year that all the students come in and sneeze on the teachers. You'd think they'd know better by high school!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The gaggle of teens has gone skating....and a discussion about taro.

They cooked an enormous pile of bacon and portuguese sausage and rice, cleaned up after themselves and left. The one girl who came along had never seen a horse (except on tv).  I took her out (with boots, because all she had was these cute, but impractical bright orange skate shoes), and had her visit Ohia and Scarlett, the sheep, and the chicks.  Her comment was, "This house is awesome; all I have is two miniature dogs."  I think at least a couple of my kids would trade her house and two mini-dogs in town for our farm...funny how that works out.

It is raining pretty steadily, but I was able to go out and pull the last beans.  Out of the four daikon I planted, only one is really growing - a little pounded by the recent rain and it looks like dogs.  I am definitely going to have kennel these dogs.  My thought was to kennel them (after I buy a big kennel, which may take a few months of saving) during the day so I can let the chickens and sheep out in the pasture, and then let them out at night. I think that might save my garden a bit, too.

There is more gardening to be done, but I do have to do some teaching type work today. Maybe I  will don poncho and boots and dig up the heirloom taro so I can soak the huli for replanting when I am done with that bit.

Taro is a cool plant.  You can eat all of it, but usually you save the ha (stem part) as a huli to replant.  You cut off the corm (bulbous root), leaving about a half inch of the top, and then cut the ha right above the new leaf bud and eat the leaves.  You have to cook all of it very well because of the high oxalic acid content.  You can cook the lau (leaf) almost like spinach and the corm can be cut into chips and fried, or pressure cooked and eaten as poi or with coconut milk.  Lau lau is the leaf and pork/chicken and fish wrapped in a ti leaf and steamed - one of my favorite things to eat in the world.  Sometimes I get lazy and make a crockpot version - lau on the bottom, chicken thighs and some Okinawan sweet potato on top.  Not quite the same, but still good.  Taro is good for you, too.  It does take a long time to grow - 9 months for many varieties, so it is very expensive in the stores.  The 1992 Hurricane Iniki wiped out a lot of taro patches (lo'i for wetland, mala for dryland) so for a long time you couldn't even really find poi in the stores.

There are lots of varieties of taro.  I read that there used to be several hundred varieties, but we are down to about 60 or 70 now.  I have three varieties growing in my yard now, all dryland - one big one that gets to 10 lb corms which I was told was aweoaweo, but I am not sure, a few bun long (Chinese taro) plants, and a yellow heirloom one that I never got the name for.  I would love some red taro, too from down South Point on the Big Island.  I am fond of my taro - I can see why Hawaiian mythology claims that taro is an ancestor - they grow for so long, they feel like company.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Took an hour to feed tonight...

fortunately, got home early enough that it wasn't dark.  Came home to half a fence for the pen for the sheep, the tractor out, the horses locked out and no discernible way to get in to collect eggs and change out the water for the mature chickens.  My husband's tools were out in the rain.  I would have concluded that he was abducted by aliens, but I know he was really abducted by the neighbor down the road.  Don't want to talk about it....

Basically, I had to go through the horse pasture and over a fence to get to the chickens.  I had to climb into the sheep pen (remember - "temporary" and going on three weeks stall for the sheep has no gate) to move pull their water pail and fill and carry it back and somehow lower it over without spilling any.  Gave me the impetus to put in the coccidosis (not sure if I am spelling that correctly) vaccination, though.

To let the horses in, I had to undo the cable my husband was using as a come-along for the fence he was putting  - which must have looked like snakes because they panicked and it took me ten minutes to coax them back to come eat.  I got thoroughly muddy and slimed with sheep snot and mud.

Later tonight, I am going to pick up a gaggle of teens from the football team.  My kids tend to have co-ed sleep-overs, which is fine because we have three stories and squeaky stairs.  I put the girls upstairs and the boys in the basement - or on nice nights, in a tent outside.  Tonight we have two girls and I think four boys, but the connection wasn't that great, but probably the usual suspects.  They are all very nice kids.

The internet at work was down, which was seriously no fun, because the document for the Student Led Conferences next week is on my google docs, and neither I nor the lovely student who is helping me with it were able to get into it - that means a lot of work this weekend.  On the other hand, I did finish ALL OF MY GRADING!  This is a miracle - the stack was 5 inches thick!

I hope to bake bagels, English muffins, a few treats, and a couple loaves of bread this weekend.  I noticed the lemon tree has one large ripe lemon, so I might make lemon muffins - those are yummy.  I also had some guavas that looked almost ripe out there...have to think of what to do with those.  The taro very much needs to come out and replanted.  I really doubt I will get there though.

Various kids have various activities, so a lot of time will be spent driving, sadly, and there is a ton of laundry, but when isn't there?

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Or Jello-like.  It has been raining so much (as usual this time of year) that the land is like jello with grass. The de rigueur Hilo wear of rubber boots is necessary when the weather is like this.  I really need to either cover my last bean plant or harvest them soon, because they will rot in this weather.  

I am really considering how I will keep the dogs from chasing the sheep.  My dogs are chicken and cat eaters.  They do leave our house cat alone, but have killed every barn cat, and several strays. They will eat chickens who are out - and have been known to get into the pen and murder a whole flock.  (My coop is Fort Knox - five layers of wire fence and a stand out electric line now).  The won't murder the sheep, but they might bark and chase them.  The real answer is finding homes for the two older dogs and brining in another herding type dog, but that isn't emotionally easy.  Another answer would be building kennels for them, but that wouldn't be very nice either - they have always been free to roam our land.  

I have had a dog who was a chicken/wild pig/goat killer, and I retrained him successfully.  He still hunted pigs in the forest on his own, but the domestic animals were left unmolested - even free range chickens.  Once, a little goat kid who was rejected chose him to sleep with....and that was telling.  In the past, I caught him trying to pull my goat under the house by the ear.  (I shoved my fist down his throat 'til he gagged - I am not afraid of dogs, but can barely stand to talk in front of adults).  

I just don't think I can retrain two dogs at the same time.  They just reinforce bad habits.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


are so refreshing.  They adapt so quickly.  The new pullets were a little weirded out that they were out of wire cages, thrown into a new flock, and in a dog crate for one day - now they are all adapted, understand that me coming in means food.

Even though I technically bought 5 and 5 of two different breeds, I think I ended up a little heavy on the Buff Orpingtons - which is fine with me.  The guy who had them had a few of the Buffs running in the Americauna coop and I think he scooped some of them.  That works for me - I was wishing I had bought all Buffs after I got them home.

I have been dreaming of fences.  I would like to fence our 7.5 acres into four sections - the house and barn section, a front pasture, and two back pastures.  Actually one of those back pastures would need a separate pasture to separate the large flat place Joe tilled for new food plants.  Can't have horse trampling through there or sheep browsing through the whatever-it-is we decide to plant there.

This morning was a rough one.  I woke up tired, and apparently, so did 2 out of four kids.  I needed to be out of the house and moving by 6:10 so I could buy gas.  (I should have bought gas yesterday, but I forgot until I was 6 miles away from the nearest gas station and heading in the wrong direction).  We left at 6:25 with me slightly panicked.  Just bought enough gas to last the day or so, and I must remember tonight after work.  It didn't help that the sheep had knocked over their water.  I need a stock tank for them instead of a 5 gallon bucket.

I spent the few minutes before bed thinking about how hard it would be to provide all your food from 7.5 acres and hold down a job (or two).  I don't think my son could do without cereal, but I made a list of things I could grow that the family would actually eat.  It would be a lot of work.  I started estimating how much of each thing we would need for a year - eye opening.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Morning Chores

Less than fun going out in the semi-dark.  Forgot that the light in my tack room is either unplugged in my husband's workshop or burnt out....and forgot my flashlight.  Although I was up at 4 am, my husband and I were talking (he's leaving for the week again) and I didn't get out of bed until 5:20 - too many things need to be compressed in too short of conversation time: sheep fencing, next projects, can we build (afford) a green house, oops, you forgot to check the oil on the Chevy....(for some reason, I am deemed incapable of doing this task - and that is fine, because the last thing I need is one more thing to do).

Anyway, all this conversation left me groping in the dark to feed animals.  I did everything just fine - except I just know that rattling noise was the sickle falling behind the feed cupboard.  I tried to feel around, but I think I am going to have to pull it out and get behind it.  Stupid of me to leave it on top, instead of putting it back where it belongs (it was dark when I fed last night, too - and I still had to go in and cook dinner and help with homework).  My kids go to Kamehameha and there is a lot of homework - particularly as they approach the end of a grading paper - lots of projects which are frustrating without at least someone to help you glue.

Wish I had more time with the animals and the garden.  These 13 hour work days (well work and then running around for kids' activities) just make everything feel rushed and half done.  I just have to keep in mind that the long term goal is to get out from under and to be able to spend more time on producing our own food and less time working to buy from someone else.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Peeping of Chicks...and horses with sore feet...

The little pullets I bought yesterday are just at a nice age - they still sound like chicks, but they are feathered out and cute still.  The man I bought them from said if any of them do turn out to be cockerels I can take them back.  I really don't want two roosters.

I am worried about my gelding, Ohia.  When I cleaned out his hooves yesterday, I could see part of his sole right in front of the frog is peeling.  I can' tell if this is just the result of another abscess, or if the bone has rotated and is going to pierce to sole.  I don't live in an area where there is enough vet support that I could keep a horse like that alive.  It's very sad.  It could be that the sole is just peeling and the new sole is thin and sore - that has happened before, the one time he was as bad as he is this time around.

I am hoping my husband will finish the fence for the sheep pen today, although it is raining fairly steadily.  He moved a lot of dirt yesterday with the tractor - good thing he got that done because it would be too rainy to do today.

I made 40 whole wheat cinnamon rolls on Saturday - the family whacked them all but 2 by this morning.  Nice compliment, but I might need to bake some more breakfast breads in the next couple of days.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bought more chicks....

A guy near here was selling Buff Orpingtons - 5 weeks old so they don't need a light.  I bought five Buff Orpingtons, a breed I am fond of, and 5 Americaunas, because he had some light colored ones.  I had a really pretty white and black one awhile back, and I miss her.  I am now thinking I should have bought more Buff Orpingtons.  They lay lots more eggs than the Americaunas, and they are huge if you should ever want to eat them.  It is just that they are not sex linked, and I really didn't want to have a pen full of roosters.  Americaunas are sex linked and theoretically you can tell if they are hens or roosters from birth -but that doesn't always hold true.  My last 10 pullets had one rooster, for example.

Any way, the 10 I bought are in the large dog kennel in my tack room, until I can figure out a way to separate them in the chicken yard.  They can't eat regular layer food yet, too much calcium, so I need a way to keep them separate so they can eat broiler starter instead and til they get to a size where they won't be bullied.

I wouldn't mind some Wyandotte chickens.  I also like the guinea fowl he had - and the turkeys were pretty darn cool.  I am really tempted to buy some turkey chicks (or whatever they are called) one of these days.  They are really big - he had two running around and they really do make a gobble gobble sound.

In four months I will have more eggs than I know what to do with - except I will be able to sell them.  That will at least cover the feed for them, and I hope the sheep.  Rabbits might be a good addition- their manure doesn't need to be composted; it can go straight on the garden.  I don't think I could ever eat a rabbit, but I could sell it to people who do without much compunction.  All the books say that after you eat a rabbit you will never eat one of your own chickens again, but I really doubt it.  It is just that chickens are a pain in the okole to pluck.  I only helped once, years ago, and I don't see being able to do it very quickly on my own.


Because I drove to the back of the barn, the dogs were intrigued enough to come to see what was up.  I decided to introduce them to the sheep.  Balto and the ram (should his name be Harvey, George, or Elvis?) actually licked each other's noses.  Melly, the supposed sheep dog, didn't want to meet the sheep.  Cinnamon is the one I am going to have to worry about.  She and Dodi, the ram, and Minnie all sniffed noses, but Cinnamon was waaaay too excited.

I bought fencing yesterday, so hopefully I can convince my husband to put it up.  I don't think I can take another week of worrying about "lamb blender" situation.  Also, with it up, I can lock the ram out and clean the stall better.  He tolerates me being in there waving a rake around for about 10 minutes, but then he starts looking like he will come butt me.  He likes to come over and lean up against us to get a full body massage, but I am still not used to body language - are you coming over to get pets or do you want to ram me?  My daughter brushed him with the horse brush yesterday, he looked like he was in heaven.

Now all the sheep will let me pet them, even shy Dodi.  This is a good thing, because if we end up having to help her with her lambing, she needs to be able to tolerate us touching her.

I made 40 cinnamon rolls yesterday.  I love having my new huge stainless mixing bowl.  It was a cheapie thing at Wal Mart, but what a help.  I can mix 8-9 cups of flour into dough without any trouble.  My 12 year old who is sometimes just like a sour little old man, told me that my cooking stinks and he wouldn't be eating anything I made any time soon - but when those cinnamon rolls came out of the oven, he was first in line and he took the biggest one.  I told him he was a funny, funny kid - he agreed.

Time to get moving - need to feed and make breakfast.  We are going to an afternoon Mass for the Religious Ed kids so we got to sleep in and have time to have a big breakfast together.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Things to do...

After my husband cuts the grass (months long, thank goodness we don't live in the suburbs), I am going to gather up huge piles of it to dry as bedding and to add to the compost pile. I am also going to put up a temporary fence to break the dogs' habit of digging in the garden.  I need to pull out the beans and plant greens.

I think I will make chicken luau today and taro patties.  I still need to pull that one variety and soak the huli for replanting. I bought a ginger root at the Farmer's market last weekend.  I want to plant some of that, too.  Tomorrow's religious education schedule has been moved from 10:15-11:15 to 1-3 (Mass and practice), so I should bake today.  I have a loaf of sandwich bread left in the freezer, so I think I will double up on English muffins and bagels, and make a lot of banana muffins.  I have bananas in the freezer, and I notice that the next stalk of bananas is almost ready for harvesting - it's a lot of bananas, so I need to use up what I froze from last month.

I have gotten the sheep to come to me and let me touch them.  I noticed that the white one who got bloat before I bought her (the owner went to a funeral on the mainland, and the caretaker let the sheep into the grain) is super thin under her fluffy hair.  I think her digestion is off from the bloat.  I need to look into how to increase her good bacteria and get her rumen better again. Maybe I can figure out how to get her some grain without giving to the others who are a bit chubby from being in the pen.  She eats more than everyone else, and I wormed everyone two weeks ago - so I think it is the bloat.

My son didn't make the cut for the state championship.  He said, "I died out there." It was voggy and hot, and he doesn't like to admit it, but he does have a history of asthma.  He did well, but it wasn't enough to get him an independent spot - next year!  Several of the XC kids and recent XC graduates came to spend the night and now they are relieving their disappointment at the skatepark up in Volcano.

My younger son is at a festival in Hamakua, in BDU, directing traffic.  A very small cadet airman.  I had to drop him off at 6:15, which is damn early on a Saturday morning.  I am glad he gets to go, though.  We never do any of these festivals, weekend work time is too precious, and he has been dissatisfied with the whole work-til-you-drop aspect of our lives these days.

My oldest is at her one 11 hour shift a week at her job.  That leaves one kid at home - good thing it is the one who likes to help out.

My husband reopened a whole can of worms at his old work.  He tried to correct some very serious misuses of per diem at this state office, and was pretty much harassed until he left and took a job on another island.  This has caused us harm and an amazing amount of expense.  While we were driving up to the race yesterday, he told me that one of the bosses at the old job was overheard saying, "I thought we were rid of those two guys."  I had been feeling a bit sorry for the two guys who might be in an insane amount of trouble, until I heard that.  I swear, if he is at church tomorrow, I will go up to him and say something. I am so not a confrontational person, but he needs to know what he did to me (the wife) and my kids.

The one boss who we don't think was involved, but was instead a victim of harassment himself (the inspectors involved in the corruption would yell at him and get in his face and he would shake visibly - then they would laugh at him) must have either known about the other state offices being investigated, and took the worst per diem offender off of projects which would earn this per diem - they guy actually stayed home for two weeks (called in sick) in protest.  Not very bright....but I guess that nasty look from his dad at the 12 and under volleyball game was not my imagination.

Opening all of this up again is scary and frustrating and also, paradoxically, hopeful.  Maybe justice happens sometimes.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Too many egg orders...

It's been so rainy that it's been pretty dark.  The hens are really sensitive to light: more sun, more eggs.  My middle school kids' Cross Country coach paid for two orders of eggs and when I came in to work today, my coworker put her empty box on my desk with a note saying, "Please refill".  I have enough to fill 1 1/2 orders - yeah, by Monday, I should have enough to fill both orders, and still have some for Sunday breakfast.  I need to get more hens.

The issue is that day old chicks need light for about 4 weeks - and they need to stay in the laundry room for 3 of those weeks. It is cute to watch chicks in a tub in the laundry room for about a week - then they get stinky.  And once the feathers start to replace the down, they aren't all that attractive, either.  Still amusing, but not very good looking.  I think chickens are endlessly amusing.  They are so incredibly stupid; just watching them brightens my day.  I hear turkeys are even stupider.  I would raise a few just to see that, except they have to strictly be kept away from chickens to avoid illness, and with turkeys at $6 at Safeway near Thanksgiving, it doesn't make sense economically.

Speaking of the economics of meat.  I always have my British Lit I students read Jonathon Swift's "A Modest Proposal" (1729).  It never fails to absolutely gross them out.  It works very well at Halloween.  One kid claims to have had nightmares based on this satire which proposes that the poor Irish should sell their children for slaughter in order to improve their economy.  No matter how often I explain satire, there are some kids who just focus on the absolute mercenary quality of enumerating cuts of meat and glove leather that could be taken from a 12 month old child rather than on the inequities which caused Dr. Swift to write this piece.

On the other hand, every time I look at Minnie the lamb, I think of lamb chops.  I wouldn't want to eat this particular lamb, but I do get visions of lamb curry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My favorite sound...

well, one of them, is the sound of a barn full of animals eating.  I don't think anything makes animals happier than eating - and I like to think of them as happy.  At this point in time, it takes about 45 minutes, twice a day to feed and water everyone.  I am cutting big sheaves of grass for the goats as well as giving them alfalfa pellets.  The horses get alfalfa cubes, this stuff that looks like dog food, but it really mostly rice bran, and a yeast/salt additive with probiotics (everything except the cubes is for Ohia, the sick horse - but since they eat together, I have to put everything in both buckets so he at least gets some.  The extras won't hurt the mare).  The chickens get grass cuttings and kitchen scraps and a little bit of commercial feed.  The sheep need water twice a day, and the chickens need daily - and the horses we have set up on their own catchment system which is nice.  A horse can drink 20-30 gallons a day - I would not want to haul 60 gallons of water for horses every day - or even stand there with a hose all day.  Four goats don't even finish 5 gallons a day.  Seven chickens only drink a few cups.

Tomorrow is my son's race at HPA.  If he qualifies, he gets to fly to O'ahu next week to run in the state meet.  He still has hopes their team will make it - but I kind of doubt it.  They only let the top two teams in our conference go - and I think they'll be third.  Hope I get to eat my words, but hmmm - both Parker and Hilo High are gunning for that spot. Honoka'a's got the first place wrapped, for sure.  If my son can go to O'ahu, that means my parents can go watch him and cheer him on.  That will be very cool for both them (I am guessing) and him.  Oh, wow, his dad will be on O'ahu, too - I thought the race was Saturday, but it is really Wednesday!  Awesome - a whole crew for our first state runner.  I do hope he makes it.  He wants to run the course (3 miles) under 20 minutes, but it is a rough course - hilly and slippery in spots.

Sounds like we dodged a bullet today - 6.9 earthquake in Mexico.  If it were a little bigger, we might have gotten a tsunami.  We had a teeny tsunami a few months ago.  It was fascinating, but thankfully, undestructive.  Living in Hilo, you are aware of the history and the possibility of tsunami.  The lower division of the school at which I work is in a zone where it will get hit if there were to be any major tsunami. The building has been around for a bit, and during either the 1946 or 1960 tsunami, there were apparently fish in the elevator shaft.  Since the elevator is at the back of the rather large building, that is fairly astonishing.

We are way up the mountain, so no tsunami will reach us, and now that our youngest was accepted to Kamehameha, we don't have to worry about any of the kids being washed away - they are all safely above sea level....we don't even have to really worry about hurricanes, here.  Although the Civil Defense says it is theoretically possible for a large hurricane to go over the island, in reality, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are too massive and large - a hurricane usually skirts around the island.

We do get rain.  Lots and lots and lots of rain.  One memorable November, we got 33 inches of rain in slightly over 24 hours.  There was a lot of damage in Hilo and Ka'u, but at our house, all we noticed was that we couldn't hear each other or the phone over the rain on the metal roof.  Our land is used to isn't so good for horse hooves, but now that I have a really nice barn, thanks to my husband stopping all other projects to build it...I don't even have to worry about that so much.  I will have to wait and see how sheep hooves handle the incredible mud here.

Still Waiting...

no lambs, yet.  This is a good thing. 

I really need to dig up the garden, fence it, and then plant the cabbages and other greens for winter. Collards do so well here; they are almost perennial, and I have learned to really like them. 

My husband got the belts needed for the mower deck for the John Deere in Honolulu ($100 each, yikes), so we will be able to have some cut grass.  It is so long it will make great bedding for the chickens and sheep. 

I love our John Deere tractor (small farm tractor), but the shop which supplies their parts in Hilo is very, very sad.  It took over a month to get these belts, and we finally had to physically go to Honolulu to get them. 

Tomorrow is my son's big BIIF finals for Cross Country.  I am so excited to go to see it.  He has a shot at making it as a state finalist, in fact he is feeling pretty confident.  I, on the other hand, still feel anticipation.  Kids run their best at the BIIFs and he can't get complacent.

Off to the doctor's office today.  My daughter has an appointment.  I am going to have them look at my knee today.  I fell on it and it looks a bit deformed.  It wasn't even farm related - I slipped on a wet floor at work.  Good thing no one saw me....way too embarrassing.  It was bad enough that the attendance clipboard clattered to the floor. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Horses got out...

which isn't dangerous, because the whole land is fenced, and they usually get out into the house yard - no way to get to the road.  But they leave big hoof pukas in the grass, and that darned mare ALWAYS has to walk directly across my garden.  The rain is pounding down what is left of my bean plants - but I can tell even before that, she walked right over at least some of them.  I seriously need to get a fence up around that area.

The hens seem to be slowing down with eggs, probably because it has been so dark and rainy, which is a bummer, because I suddenly have more customers than eggs.  I should get some more chicks, but they need the whole light and heat thing - better to do it when I can be home for several weeks, like a longer vacation.  

No lambs, and I had a seriously rough day, except for a nice chat with my best friend from high school (HI, Daph :) ), so not much more to say.  My younger son can't handle when his dad is gone for this many nights in a row, and we both lost it over the math homework. Maybe I have less patience than some parents, because I have been listening to homework excuses all day....

No lambs....

Thank goodness, no lambs. My husband comes back in 4 days, but it will be 5 days before we can make the outside pen to make it safer for Dodie to have her baby(ies).  The race is still on.

The feed store finally got the container, so I was able to put in some bedding - but since we got home after 7 pm last night, it was a sort of rushed affair.  I just dumped two bags over the fence and spread them out roughly in the dark.  I wouldn't have done that much if I hadn't dropped the sickle in the pen when I was giving them grass.  I did try to find it by feel, but ended up having to give up and hope that no one stepped on/laid on it in the dark.  (no one did)

It isn't that fun feeding in the dark.

I have decided that after I pick up the first round of kids before 4, I am driving all the way home.  I will have to go back out for the kids who have practice which is extra wear and tear on the car and extra gas, but considering the wear and tear on me of having to cart around a complaining 13 year old (who doesn't have practice tonight - sadly),  even 45 minutes at home is worth it.  At the very least, I can spread out the rest of the bedding and spray it with water so it fluffs.  It is pellets of wood shavings which expand and fluff with liquid.  Very absorbent - better than straw and better than regular shavings and it composts better.   I also woke up late this morning (5:20!!) so I didn't have time to cut the sheaf of grass I usually feed twice a day.

The chickens didn't lay yesterday, either that or they (or rats or mongoose) got the eggs.  Usually around Monday or Tuesday, they do have a blip in laying, so probably all 6 will lay an egg today.  My kids' PE teacher bought eggs yesterday, but she paid me for 3 dozen, so I owe her 18 eggs.  I hate owing people.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lamb Blender, and other worries...

I was reading about all the things that can go wrong with lambing, lambs, and post-partum ewes.  I do know that books can give a very scary view of birth (ever read What to Expect When You're Expecting?), but when Raising Sheep the Modern Way mentioned that a lambing pen can turn into a "lamb blender" should the ewe become frightened...well, the picture will not leave my head.

The fact that I read the James Herriot books over and over again which have many chapters about having to help farm animals deliver young doesn't help, either.  Horses generally deliver without incident, although if they do need help, it is liable to be a huge emergency.  I have conflicting information on sheep....some sources say the reports of problems are exaggerated.

On a good note, I sold more eggs this morning, and I was able to salvage some of my black beans.  The recent downpours have rotted some of them on the bush, and I had to pick some of them slightly immature, but I am getting some for all that waiting.  I am just shelling them and putting them in a bag until I have enough to cook.  I pulled some carrots and I have several tomatoes setting fruit.  I can see that I need to plant more - I am still in learning phase for plants.

When the rains slow down a bit on a day we're home early, I am going to get the kids to bag up the remaining compost piles so I can advertise again.  I am not getting as much recoverable manure from the stall, because the horses are now depositing in the walk way and then trampling it all, making it difficult to shovel up.  As soon as the sheep have their own pen, it should revert to the normal 100 lbs. a day.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I think we may be in a race between my husband getting home to help finish the fence and the ewe giving birth.  When I went out to feed this morning, I could see that the lambs had shifted in her uterus and she's bagging up a bit.

It could be a couple of weeks (if she were a horse, I'd say two weeks), but sheep?  How do I know?

I just hope she holds on until we can build a separate place for her.  I am worried that the ram will hurt the lamb(s) in the fairly small pen.  I was feeling bad about the pen, but it looks like, even taking the high end of penned requirements, the sheep have more than twice as many square feet they need.  I am just not sure if that holds true with newborns.

Fortunately, our ewes have had a number of lambs, and haven't had problems.  I would hate to deal with a bottle lamb right now.  I have no way of providing the six feedings a day required, unless I were to take it to school with me - somehow doubt that would go over well with administration (or the carpets).  The kids would love it, for sure.  Even the baby mouse one child brought to school in his pocket (? Yeah, confused me, too).  I set it up in an old aquarium for the day and it was endlessly distracting and interesting.

I am so hoping for two ewe lambs, twins.  I am hoping we are not looking at ram lambs, because I will have to have a crash course on castration and then will have to figure out what to do with wethers.  I know that in an earlier post I talked bravely of taking lamb to processing plant - but the other day, a bird flew into the grill of my car, and I sort of quietly freaked out as I thought about it - particularly when the wing flew off separate from the rest of the bird.  Obviously, I am not ready to think about eating sheep born in my pasture.  I will have to get over this....but not sure my husband or kids will.

Brussels sprouts memories...

I shouldn't complain.  The sun is shining for the moment, at least, and it is Saturday.  I even got to "sleep in" until 6 am, which is a little less thrilling when you consider I stayed up until 1 am reading a book (irresponsible of me with so much to do).  I had to take my 18 year old to work on the way to taking the 16 year old to school to take the PSAT.  I am crossing my fingers that this kid, of all of my four, will have the chance to make National Merit Scholar.  I made it back in my day - they all certainly have the ability.  It's just that the culture on this island is not to take school seriously.  This is one thing that makes me question our decision to move here and do this.  Only one of my four really likes the animal care and the opportunities of living rural, the other three wish we lived in town, and look forward to getting out as soon as they can.

I need to get up and moving: I have approximately 12 loads of laundry to fold, animal housing to clean, bathrooms to clean, and the week's baking to do (bagels, English muffins, banana muffins, and sandwich bread), papers to grade (almost the end of the grading period). And here I am, blogging.  It's been a long week, but since I have the equivalent of three jobs (mom, farmer, teacher), I don't have time to sit around on my okole.

Okay, the least painful thing to do right now is to go outside and check my beans.  Shamefully, I haven't looked at the garden all week, because dealing with penned sheep is pretty time consuming.  At some point soon, I need to pull up all my taro, cook and freeze it all, and replant the huli.  Especially that yellow heirloom variety that I never got the name of.  My aweoweo taro can stay where it is, but I think I am going to lose the old variety if I don't pull and replant it.  The poi made out of it is a strange color (sadly, sort of baby poop color), but it does taste good - so does taro patties made out of it.

I need to get some collards and cabbages in, too.  One unique thing about living here is that collards will grow for years, are almost perennial here.  I didn't eat collards growing up, but after planting them one year, I love them.  Cabbage-y type things grow very well here in the winter months.  I haven't had much luck with broccoli, but everything else is wonderful.  I planted brussels sprouts one year - they grew to 6 feet high!

Through a complicated series of events, we made friends with a local actor turned farmer.  I introduced his wife to brussels sprouts, which she loved.  She decided to plant some of her own, but when I went to visit, she was showing off kale and calling it brussels sprouts.  I quietly mentioned it to her - and she laughed so hard.  That is one of my favorite brussels sprouts memories - and I have to admit it is a weird thing to have - brussels sprouts memories....

Friday, October 15, 2010

A weekend approaches...

and I know I have so much to do.  My husband commutes to another island to work, and he is staying there through next week, to some extent to save money, and more to the extent to watch a UH football game with friends.  I am glad he gets to go to the football game and see our childhood friends, but at the same time, I am feeling sorry for my sheep.  They are still confined in a 12x12 stall.

The one good thing about this is that they are becoming very affectionate with me (except when I am in the stall with them - because I won't let the ram come near at that point.  200lbs of ram butting you, no matter how playful or affectionate, is still 200lbs of ram).

Today, as I was climbing over the fence (yeah, we were in such a hurry to secure them we didn't consider gates that open or any other convenience), my monster elephant mare (5 years and halter broke, sigh) decided she was going to sidle up to the fence.  It was as if she wanted me to climb on her back.  I was tempted, but I am not as young as I once was, nor am I nuts - she didn't even have a halter on, and we were in a stall.  I did, however, lean over her and put weight on her back.  She just slid in closer to the gate.  I think she will be easy for the trainer to train.  I wish I had the time and round pen to do it myself!  I can't wait to ride her.

My poor little paint's hooves are so fragile, that even when he is not feeling ouchy he can only really manage a walk-trot, so I haven't really ridden since my old gelding passed on 5 years ago...feels like forever.

When money gets tight, the first thing my husband starts eyeing is feed bills.  He looks outside and sees monster-mare, lawn ornament extraordinaire....finally, I gave in and put her on craigslist.  The only reply I got was from a woman who has been looking for a 17hh or taller horse for months.  I think having a horse that big is a headache, especially on this island.  I had a horse that tall, and he ate tons and tons, and the extra 2-3 inches didn't do anything for me.  A 16.1 horse is plenty big in my opinion.

I did explain to my husband that selling my horses is like asking him to give up music - both playing and listening.  It is such a part of me, he asking me to give up part of myself.  Sheep, as fond as I am getting of them, doesn't replace that part of me.  I also see the necessity of finding a home for the mare where she will be loved and useful.  I am gone so long every day; I will never show again.  I explained all this to the feed store owner (also my friend), and her brother, the horse trainer was sitting in on the conversation.  I told my friend, just give my number to the girl looking for a horse to buy and train.  I don't have the time to do it myself, and your brother is booked up tight for the next year in time I went in, she told me that her brother and dad talked and they are squeezing my mare in before Christmas!  I have been waiting two years for a spot in their program as I did a half-ass job doing the work myself... thinking somewhere in my life there will be a magical period of time when kids don't need me to play taxi driver or project helper.....and I can train this horse.  Never going to happen, or at least not until the mare and me are old.

And now my husband is saying, "Maybe if your mare is trained, it would be worth it to keep her instead of trading or selling her...."  Miracles do happen....all I know is, even if I do sell her, I am riding her at least a few times.  I raised her from a baby, and I deserve at least this....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In Overwhelm Mode....

I leave my house at 6:20 and I get home about 12 hours later.  In our climate at this time of year, it is just getting light when I leave and it is just getting dark when I get home.  The kids have just finished their practices and are battling over the shower, and my youngest and I head out to feed, water, and muck out the various animals. 

I have just informed my second youngest that he will also be coming out to help with these chores, too.  The oldest two have the attitude that these are "mom's animals" and therefore no concern of theirs, and since they are pretty good about some of the household chores, I let them get away with it.  I actually do like taking care of animals, so I don't kick up a fuss about their preferences - but I do make them do some of the cooking so I have more time to be outside. 

I emailed my husband to ask if he could put in a light, though. We have a more stable day length than most of the US, being so close to the equator, but it will be dark when I get home in just a month.

I went to the feed store to get some bedding for the sheep, since they are going to be confined more than I want them to be - but they were out.  This is one of those idiosyncratic things about living in Hawaii - people run out of stuff.  They were out of ABM and straw until Friday.  Sigh.  I hate it when they run out of feed.  I wish I could grow more of my own, but no one can grow alfalfa here, as far as I have been able to find out.

As the sheep produce babies, I am going to have to find a place to process the wethers, because it will be wasting feed to feed a male I can't use for breeding.  I can sell some on craigslist, but I think we are going to have to send some to Kulana Foods.  I wonder how it works - do they buy the sheep directly, and then if you want meat, you have to buy it back?  My uncle swears when he sends cattle to them, the meat that comes back is not what he sent in.....I guess I will have to find out. 

I feel a bit odd about eating the sheep I raise - and my oldest kid is a vegetarian - but it is also a bit hypocritical to eat meat from the store and refuse to eat what you produce yourself. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Animals are easier than Kids.

Slight off topic blog today.  I am a teacher as well as a would be (wannabe?) homesteader.  I teach in a charter school, which attracts the less traditional student.  This is not to say they are not bright (we had one of the two National Merit Scholars for our Island last year), but they are iconoclastic.  It is also true that most of the Big Island does not have door to door mail delivery, but I am absolutely astounded at the number of students in this school don't know their mailing address.  I live rural, and I can guarantee you my kids know their mailing address and PHONE NUMBERS!  One kid had to pull out his cell phone to see his OWN CELL PHONE number.  I am sorry.  This is appalling. 

It made me upset that my principal said, first, that the kids shouldn't be expected to know their mailing address because they were PO Boxes - and then when I replied that my kids did, certainly by grade three, he asked,"Do you want your kids to be like these kids?"  Again, appalling.  

It is bad enough that I need to make up all my own curriculum without benefit of text books.  That I have to buy binder paper with my own money because about 40% of my student regularly show up to school without any supplies and my school is so underfunded that they will not buy us binder paper supplies. 

Feeding and mucking out and trimming hooves, giving shots - even digging up new garden spaces is easier than dealing with teenagers some days.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sheep aren't that dumb after all....what a relief.

In just a day in a half, the flock has learned to stay away from me when I am cleaning, to come when I call them to the fence, and that I will feed them scythed grass when they are done with their pellets.  I think that is pretty smart for animals that have such a poor reputation.  They, like the horses and dogs, have also learned very quickly that the squeaky garage door means that someone is coming out, and my voice means food.

It has really started raining again.  We do get a couple hundred inches of rain a year here, which can make pastures muddy.  I am a little worried that my black beans won't dry out - I was hoping to harvest them as dry beans.  They are too mature to pick as green beans.  I am going to be very irked if they don't make it after all this waiting.

Part of the trouble is that it is Cross Country season for both of my middle schoolers and my high schooler. That means we leave the house at 6:20 am and don't get home until 6:30 pm, after various practices.  It is getting dark by then, especially on rainy evenings, and doing the animal chores is a bit difficult.

Today, I needed to clean the sheep pen, and the drawbacks of our temporary Sheep Fort Knox were most apparent.  It was an easy matter to lift the empty wheelbarrow over the gates into the pen, but getting a full wheelbarrow out wasn't going to happen. I looked for a way to move plywood, pallets, gates tied with every lead rope I own - this is one funky country cobbled together pen - but we really needed to keep the dogs out until they get it that the sheep are not theirs....After quite a lot of effort, my eleven year old and I moved three pieces of plywood and (much harder) put them back after I got out the   equipment.

I really can't wait until we make a bigger pen with a gate.

The horses are doing fine with their new barn mates.  My paint is walking better and still putting on weight, which is so good to see.  My warmblood mare is huge, pushy, and it sounds like I may have a possible buyer OR a spot with the trainer.  Either of these alternatives is a good thing.  I just don't have time to do this myself, and she is five already.  I work a lot slower than a professional trainer and I don't have a round pen or even a fenced arena - just  a flat, slightly larger than dressage sized arena to keep out of the mud - but it isn't any thing to help with training.  All I have done so far is teach her to lead, give her head and flex, and started with lunging.  Even if the trainers put 30 days on her, she'll have a long way to go.  She is too much horse for this farm.   She should be showing on Maui or Oahu, not stuck in the mud in Puna.  This is a horse I would have been over the moon to have in my 20's - and is wasted on the mom-taxi driver-teacher-farmer I am now.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Snot Nosed and Sneezing....

I am having a hard time finding information on sheep - how long does it take for wormer medicine to kill off the nasal bots and leave my poor sheep feeling better?

The don't have fevers; they are not coughing.  Their eyes are bright, and they have plenty of I am not inclined to start sticking them with penicillin, but I don't want them to be sick and I let them just get worse.

I actually feel as nervous about these sheep as I did when my first child was born.  I worried about every sound, look, change.  By child number four, I was pretty blase about stuff. I am sure I will get there with the sheep, too.

I can't imagine what it would be like to be a newbie sheep owner without the horse experience.  Working around horses gave me the experience to give shots, work with hooves, give oral doses....but at the same time, every movement the sheep make is foreign and I get jumpy because I haven't yet learned to anticipate what sheep will do.  They don't have the same instincts, quite, that horses do.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Snot-nosed sheep

The sheep are currently disgusting.  Their noses are dripping, I mean strings of snot.  It is not discolored and they are peppy and have great appetites, so after looking at books and internet sites, I decided it might be nasal bots  (little flies that lay their eggs in your nostrils and whose larvae climb up your nose - ewwh).

Having been forewarned by the previous owner - who showed me scars for emphasis - that you need adrenaline to get the worming job done, and after having been charged at by the ram yesterday, I was fairly apprehensive.

As a matter of fact, the ram was super easy.  While I was hand feeding him tiny alfalfa pellets, I quietly slipped a rope around his neck, pulled him against the fence, and squirted in the wormer.  It was a breeze, and I did it from outside the pen, over the fence.

The ewes, however, were less fun.  First of all, they are more wary of coming to eat out of your hand, and slipping the rope around their necks wasn't happening.  I called my son out, thinking he could hold the ram while I caught the ewes...but the ram (I really need a name for him) was more upset about me worming the ewes than my worming him.  Finally, my husband, who is not the animal person in the family, brought out a big piece of plywood, and we trapped all four sheep in a corner.  It was very easy to go in the corner with them and squirt the wormer drench to the back of their tongues.

They give up so easily.  It is very different than the goats or horses I am more used to.  I worry about stressing them and watching them keel over from heart attacks or something of that nature.  I am wary about them and worried about them - I can read a dog's body language, or a horse's, but the sheep are totally foreign.  It is a little disconcerting.

I sure hope the snot noses go away quickly.  I hope that when I leave to go to work tomorrow, that they will be okay.  Most of all, I hope the snot dries up as the little parasites in their nose die.

To Do List

1. Take half the family to church - the other half went at 7 am so they could be helpful with the pen and so they could watch football later in the afternoon.

2. Take my older son to Confirmation classes. Wait for him. Plan my meals for the week. Work on number 8 and 9 while sitting in the car.

3. Worm the sheep....hope it isn't too different than worming a horse. As the previous owner of the sheep said he had to pump up his adrenaline to do the worming and showed a scar on his skin from his last attempt....well, I suppose what I should be hoping is that my experience with animals much larger than I am will help me be less likely to need adrenaline or stitches after worming the sheep.

4. Help with the pen for the sheep so they can get out of the stall.  Yay! Digging post holes, my favorite thing to, not really.

5. Pay the bills.

6. Do the adult laundry and clean the bathrooms.

7. Bake the bread, bagels, and English muffins for the week.

8. Get my head ready for the classroom tomorrow.  (Woke up at 3 am, panicked because there were all sorts of things I was supposed to do this last week of break time that I put off until TODAY).

9. Post the composted manure on Craigslist - this is my Sunday routine.  Ironically, poop and eggs are the only thing I am making money on from our land.  ("The principal product of my farm is poop." an example of alliteration for my English classroom).

10. Get my heart and mind ready for being a single parent of four teens and pre-teens for two weeks.  Usually my husband will come home on the weekends, but he is staying on Oahu next weekend.....

Saturday, October 9, 2010

On Buying animals one is not ready for...

We drove 2 hours to buy the sheep.  We drive back two hours with the sheep in dog crates in the back of our Trailblazer.  But when we get there, there is no safe place to put them.  This is because the owner of the sheep called too late for us to do anything but head down to Miranda's Feed and Fence to buy a roll of horse mesh fence, a 12 foot tube panel, a gate and some alfalfa pellets.

We knew we were going to put them in a horse stall, but it meant a bit of work - the "stall" was never finished - the barn is done but the horses had access to a 24x 16 area which we always meant to divide into two stalls and a walkway.  We set up the panel to divide the area into 2 stalls, and put the gate on the access to the outside, (had nothing to do with sheep and a lot to do with the fact that my husband would dearly love to lock my mare out sometimes, and even a temporarily nailed on 2x4 doesn't work with her).

Then we took an old 10 foot gate out of my tack room (it was holding up my saddles, so now my saddles are on the floor, temporarily, grumble) to close up the front of the new enclosed stall.  Pipe panels and gates are made for horses - sheep can wiggle through, and it is like they aren't even there for dogs.  We needed to block the line of sight and any wiggle room off so the dogs and horses could get used to the sheep (I sprayed water in the face of any dog who even remotely looked like "Ooh, chase" when they looked at the sheep).   We ended up blocking all the areas with pallets and scrap wood. So the sheep are confined, but it isn't pretty.  It is temporary.

My husband is leaving in two days for two weeks, and we need these sheep to have some run around room in a safe place the dogs can see them and get used to them, but can't get into. Horse fencing is NOT sheep fencing, although it is better than hog wire, but dogs can still get under it.  So we're building a permanent pen of wood posts and either plastic lumber or conduit pipe - real wood gets chewed on by horses and will rot in the 200 inches of rain we get a year.  The posts are up, now we need to figure out what goes into them, and to place another gate.  Eventually, we'll extend the roof off the barn and make a 12x12 shed for the sheep to sleep in, which can double as a lambing shed.

This small pen will be a good place for the sheep to get used to grass again.  They haven't had fresh grass for well over a year, because Kona is very, very dry - extreme drought.  If you turn out a sheep out onto lush grass after having none, they will gorge and they will bloat.

Buying animals when we aren't ready for them (or taking animals people give you - I was a geriatric home for horses for a long time until I finally started saying NO.  Burying horses is no fun, no fun at all) is not new for us.  I got my first Big Island horse when I was still living in the tent.  The horse had a house before I did.  It was waiawi poles and a fiberglass roof, but it was a house....

I am anxious about these sheep.  I read our sheep books and Backyard Livestock by Steven Thomas and George Looby DVM and see that of the common diseases of goats there are three listed and the common diseases for sheep takes up three PAGES.  I read that I will have to squeeze a gland in their foot if it gets plugged up by mud, make sure that they are not getting infested by maggots in their hair (hair sheep, not wool sheep), make sure they don't have bot larvae up their nose...the list goes on and on.....YIKES!

Tomorrow is worming day.  I will let you know how it goes.  The previous owner said he has to get his adrenaline pumping before he does it because it is bad, bad, bad - but I have wormed unwilling horses, so....well, hopefully, the 200lb ram won't give me trouble.  He did try to butt me today, but I put my hand out and yelled, "No!" like I do to the dog; I am actually shocked that it worked.  I have no experience with sheep and he reminds me of my dog, this ram, was an instinct thing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I am not entirely sure this is a good idea, but we are purchasing our first sheep tomorrow morning.  We're buying a tiny flock - a ram, a lamb, and two ewes. They are advertised as barbados sheep, but I am not sure about the ram, having looked at the breed specifications.  That wouldn't be that big of a problem, because I want to out cross with a dairy ram at some point anyway.  My goal, since we are going to do this, is to produce sheep that can do well in the sub-tropics, but can also produce a bit more milk than your average sheep.  Sheep milk is awesome - and there isn't an overabundance, and you can freeze it for months until you have enough to make a decent batch of cheese.  I don't really have the time to deal with the gallons of milk a cow would produce, and my husband just doesn't like goats.

I am not so worried about taking care of them - I have horses and worming an animal I can straddle can't be so bad, and I can file hooves, etc.  I am worried about the dogs who are not so good with small animals.  I am worried about bloat - they are currently living in drought-striken Waikoloa, and to bring them back to our very wet, very green pasture is an invitation to gorge and bloat.  I have lost kid goats to bloat and it is awful, awful, awful.

On the plus side, my 12 year old has been begging for a calf for years - and what he wants is a calf that will stay a calf (obviously impossible).  We took the two younger kids to visit the sheep a couple of weeks ago, and he really fell in love with the ram.  It seemed mutual, actually - that ram followed him everywhere.  The owner wasn't there, which gave us a few weeks to think about it, and when we drove by again, they were still there.  So we called - and I gave small sigh of relief to hear that they were already sold.

But today, he called back, and the sale fell through.  I guess the sheep are ours....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Struggling with horses...

This post won't be about the past.  I am struggling what to do with my horse.

Okay, I lied - the struggle with this horse started in the past...

In 2003, my boss asked me to watch his mare for a month.  He "helped" me fence and area for her becaues we hadn't yet done our perimeter (it was a mess), found someone to haul her up the mountain and dropped her off.  As soon as she exited the trailer, I could see that not only was she pregnant, she was due in a week or two.

You might wonder how someone might not know their mare is pregnant since most horse pregnancies involve stud fees and some complication, but he'd bought this mare wild out of Waipio Valley - the only place in Hawaii you can find wild horses.  Waipio ponies are small, have ugly heads, a nice pop over jumps if you do bother to train them, and absolutely no respect for fences.

Sure enough, two weeks letter there were 8 legs on the ground instead of two; Koa had entered the world.

Two weeks later, the mare took her baby, and my baby straight through a fence and on a long ramble.  Ironically, that was the day I had had enough of this mare breaking fences and told my boss, "Get her out of there."

When I got home from work, ready to get the mare and foal ready for the trailer - they were all gone.  I started off on what was becoming an all too common search through the land behind mine - towing a halter and a bucket of feed and calling my horse (who would have the grace to answer).  I gave up after about an hour and headed home - hoping the horses had somehow gotten there before me.

Instead, as I walked up to the house, one of my kids brought me a phone.

"Missing something?" It was the police.  Not even an hello....

"Oh, Lord, where are they?"

"On the highway.  An officer has them contained.  Please come get them."

I swear that was the bright spot of the nice officer's day. He detailed every movement all three horses had done in the last hour ("And then - that one laid down, and the fat one ate grass, and the baby took a nap..."), but it was the beginning of years of struggle with my poor little paint.

I watched the mare and foal load up and truck away with gratitude, but within a day, Ohia had foundered.  It's been 6 years of varying degrees of pain.  Most of the time, he is somewhat comfortable, even ridable on a walk-trot basis.  There have been three times in these years that I have considered putting him down.

These last two weeks have been one of those times.  Bute isn't helping.  Draining the abscesses isn't helping.  I am now trying a digestive supplement and rice bran to get some of the weight he's lost due to stress and pain back on.  As always, his attitude is good - like my son who was so sick so often as a young child and who is now the most kind and patient of teens - the struggle has trained this horse in kindness.  I have decided to give him this month to recover from this last round of abscesses - feed him with lovely low-carb, high fat treats, keep him comfortable, see if we can get to a level of comfort that we can both live with.

Friday, October 1, 2010

And then there were the OTHER neighbors...

On the other side of us, two spaghetti lots away (on the Big Island, I suppose because the lack of roads, larger properties are often cut into narrow strips for sale: our lot is 278 ft wide and 1189 ft long), is an ohana property.  Relatively cool grandma and grandpa live in the back, crazy dude with nice kids and scared wife live in the front....

Crazy dude took exception to us moving onto our property.  Probably because he was growing marijuana on OUR land the whole time we were living on another island.  We found all his little black grow bags and dug them up and destroyed anything we found.  Once I even took pictures of the trails leading straight back to his property....

I am sure he didn't like it when I gave the police his name and number when they came inquiring after the gunshots they heard driving by (he had an illegal target range in the back of the land).  He probably, based on the foul language and screaming I heard that day, thought I called the police - but they just drove down our driveway because our gate was open....they heard the shots on their own.  In the 14 years we've lived here, I have never once had a conversation with the guy.

For several years, our daughters were best friends, but his daughter wasn't allowed to come to our house (come on, dude, you are the one with the gun and the DRUGS), and my daughter was only allowed to go when he wasn't home, and only to visit Grandma and Grandpa in the back house.  I actually have to say, Grandma and Grandpa treated my daughter like another grandkid - every thing they bought their grand daughters, they also bought my daughter.  She has a beautiful collection of porcelain dolls from that era, as a matter of fact.

I do have to say, I am not the best neighbor, either - or at least not at first.  I had a wandering mare who LOVED their grass.  She would get over, under, and around my fences and make a beeline.  I bought several make peace rose bushes and other plants to make up for round horse hoof puka (holes).....I still have a dog which visits regularly (mostly because when she was a puppy, Grandpa used to feed her and play with her) - even after crazy dude shot her.  Bullet went straight through her body; I gave her antibiotics and moved on from there.

One New Year's Eve, our neighbor decided to butcher a cow to imu (cook in an underground oven).  Instead of restraining the cow and shooting it between the eyes (instant death), he apparently let it run around and shot at it in the pasture.  It took awhile, which is awful in itself...but somewhat equally awful, my dog would sneak over there over the next few weeks and bring home bits.  A horn, a morning, I nearly had a heart attack when going out to feed the horse. I saw what looked like an arm. I really thought that Dino had gone out and found a murdered guy. After looking at it a bit, I realized that the bones where huge and thick and it was a bit of cow....phew.