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!  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Beautiful morning, happy animals...

Decided to take the camera around on my rounds today.  The sun is mostly shining - hopefully, it will dry up the puddles from two nights of pounding rain.

Temporary inside housing for adolescent hens.  This and the recycled feed scoops go a long way to explain the "Hapless", but hey, we're all happy.
 Well, you can barely see it, but we put up a five strand electric fence to enclose about 2000 square feet for the sheep to mow down.
Muddy small sheep yard next to barn.  Elvis is sticking his nose over the gate checking out what I am doing.
 Another make-do-with-what-we-have animal shelter option: we turned an old satellite dish over to keep Puueo and I'o away from the chickens, and used an old tarp to block the wind.
 Fruit trees: citrus of various kinds and an avocado.
 Catchment tanks.  We collect the rain off our roof and run it through filters to supply the animals and the house.
 Clouds rolling in over the back pasture.  You can see how muddy it is right at the entrance to the run in for the horses.
We used to live in this cabin, and added the barn extension later.  The plywood is blocking off the old car port, which did a turn as a horse run in shelter, also.  The cedar portion is where the original cabin was. This became the kitchen and bathroom when we added to the cabin.  When we took down the addition, we used the roofing and the walls to extend out to the barn.  
I need to weed, obviously, but here is an anthurium that is growing in my bed near the house.  

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pouring Rain outside...

Everything is soup with grass outside; well beyond our usual jello with grass consistency.

Discovered I need new rubber boots....the hard way.

The ram is feeling "rammy" today - showing off his male-ness.  I think Aubrey the ewe is possibly in heat. He doesn't like getting locked in at night, even though he doesn't necessarily want to go out in the rain, either.  Life must be somewhat confusing.

Dodie still hasn't lambed, even though when we bought her we were told it would be just a few weeks. I was trying to look at her udder today - looks a little bit bagged up, but couldn't get a good long long.  My sheep are Blackbelly Barbados, and, well, their bellies are black - hard to distinguish.  I need to trap her in a corner and get a good look.  She's had several births with no problems; I am praying for the same here.  I am not relishing trying to help her with one hand and the other trying to hold the flashlight and the book that tells me how!

This is a good day for soup-making, baking, and watching Poppy play games with the kids - what a patient man!  I want to be Poppy when I grow up (only, you know, Grammy, instead).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

(Beloved) Townies visiting the Country....

My parents arrived last night, after catching an evening flight, stopping at the store (madness), and driving the long, dark way out.  Poor mom was riding shotgun and therefore had gate duty when they at long last reached our driveway.  It was, of course, raining.

My stepdad was looking watching through the rear view mirror to make sure mom would be okay out there, when he noticed that something was wrong with the mirror - it appeared that the gate was in front of Mom!  That's when he realized that my mother had shut herself outside the gate....

The next precious picture I am anticipating is my mom donning my daughter's rubber boots (at least they are as stylish as rubber boots can be - pink with running horses) and slogging out to visit my sheep.  It really is precious, because the mud and barn muck is not my mom's natural element, but she is gung ho. One visit she and the kids had the horse stall so clean it gleamed.

I think I am winging it a bit today -usually, I have this tight schedule of all the dishes starting at 5 am, but the turkey is a bit smaller than usual and everyone wants to eat later, so I guess I will figure it out as I go along - especially since I am not sure how many people are showing up (love that about having teens: friends showing up unexpectedly).  Since last year, I have become accustomed to making 48 bagels, two loaves of bread, 36 English muffins and some kind of treat on a single day on the weekend these days, so the multi-dish martial exercise that is Thanksgiving in an American household is not so daunting.

I love Thanksgiving, am more thankful than I can say that my parents are here, but I found myself a little wistful thinking of the outside things I could be doing on this vacation day..... all involving manure in some state of decomposition.  Perhaps this farmer thing is embedding itself deeper than I suspected.  

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving snuck up on me...

I have been extra-specially scatterbrained these days.

I am lucky that I have food in the fridge for tomorrow, and that I loaded up on animal feed.  I am very happy that I remembered on Monday that I had forgotten to take out the turkey, and lucky that my husband hadn't left for work yet so he could pull it out of the freezer to defrost in the fridge.

I am absolutely grateful that somehow I remembered my kids had early release and I needed to find someone to cover my classroom after lunch so I could pick them up!  (Believe me, there have been times they've called, "Ummm, Mom?  Where are you?" and times they have been the absolute last kids on the school curb, waiting for a ride).

What's not so great is that I keep thinking I have one more day to get ready.  Well, today is the day - my parents arrive in three hours.  There are so many chores still need to be done; I haven't fed the animals....

Somehow, blogging is even MORE fun, when you have too much to do...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Early!

I cam home from school and found my husband putting up gates!  Now I don't have to go through the horse stall to get to the sheep or the chickens.  What a treat....I feel loved :).  Forget diamonds.  Give me fences and gates!  

Teacher sent a nice email, thanking me for kind and gentle instruction (I included some nice lesson plans guaranteed to work on kids like my kid - she was gracious enough to listen.  

I hear my horse freaking out over my husband.  Better go for now, but what a nice day. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Back on Track...at least outside the house.

Cleaned the chicken coop with bleach again and added straw.  Cleaned the stall where the sheep are currently housed, cleaned the chick's coop (not so little, but still cheeping instead of making hen noises), and built them a little run - still inside the tack room, but at least they have more room - put tons of old feed bags down and a thick layer of straw to catch droppings.  Cleaned the horse stall - but that's a normal every day sort of thing.

Did laundry, but still procrastinating on cleaning the house...only three days until my parents are here, so I really need to get to it.  My husband rearranged the living room, and I think it looks like the house is a listing boat - all the furniture ended up on one side of a rather skinny room, but he also dusted and cleaned it thoroughly, so that was nice.

Of course, all the things he didn't think belonged there ended up on the kitchen table....

It is fairly late in the afternoon, but I am going to start my baking.  I have chicken luau (taro leaves and chicken and coconut milk) cooking in the crock pot, and a couple of loads in the laundry.  I will have to figure out the cleaning part later.

Unfortunately, my 18 year old is at work, and the other three have piles of homework.  They got their chores done (well, all but one kid), but they can't help with the extra stuff - 150 pages of AP World History reading is no joke.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Volleyball killed Saturday Projects...

but it was good.  My youngest has never had her dad at her games because they are always mid-week.  She made a point or two, and the team came in 4th in their tournament.  I thought that was a good trade-off for delayed projects.

I was able to shift gears much more gracefully than usual because of my John Deere magazine.  Once you buy a John Deere, you are apparently put on the mailing list for life for their magazine, The Furrow; I got mine a few days ago.  Even though the magazine is mostly to promote their products, I like to read what farmers are doing elsewhere, and I enjoy the quotes at the back.  One that stood out to me was a quote by St. Francis de Sales:  "When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time." 

This quote really spoke to me as that internal "To Do" list clamored at the back of my mind at the Volleyball game (and during the Pre-Algebra-Hawaiian Language book- Social Studies 8- pages- of -notes-and Paper- about -Queen -Liliuokalani -and -King- Kamehameha -III -due -on -the -same -day- storm).  Remembering it helped me focus on my kids and pay attention to what was going on with them.  

I would add to St. Francis de Sales' words that you need not only gentleness and time, but also love and patience - and a willingness to put yourself aside for a day or two (or four) to get over a mountain of difficulties and contradictions.  What a perfect lesson for me poised before the joyful mountain of preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Funny how I have to keep learning that lesson over and over.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Voggy with a Chance of Lightning....

This morning was so beautiful: the skies were blue and gold and it looked to be a bright and sunny day.  Have I mentioned that I work in a metaphorical cave?  By the time I came up from air after doing paper work through lunch, the wind had picked up, the clouds rolled in, and my coworker told me to go home soon, a storm was expected.

When I drove up this afternoon, I noticed that the vog from Kilauea was rolling in around our area.  That means the winds are from the south or south east.  It makes the air a foggy yellow and smells like sulfur.  The animals were a bit riled when I got home, but it could be because I was carrying feed and home earlier than usual!

The air does have that unsettled feeling before a big blow, but there is absolutely no wind and, for the moment, no rain.  The coqui frogs are quiet, which is a miracle, if a little oddly unsettling - I hadn't realized I'd gotten so used to them.  They do go quiet in the winter, so maybe they are just going to sleep.

I wonder what the tomorrow will bring - lots of rain, or will it rain tonight, washing the air clean, and leave it beautiful for me to work on my garden?

Don't Even Know Where to Start Today...

They say that the best laid plans often go awry.  This is the motto for this past week.  I find myself being terribly unproductive at work today because I am sort of mulling over what went wrong, and what went right, and how to restore the balancing act that I call my life.

There is a constant background list in my head of all the things I want to do, all things I have to do, all the things that would be a "Good Idea" to make progress both at school, at home, and around the farm.  There is absolutely no way that any of these lists will ever be done, except for certain finite tasks like grading a certain stack of papers or folding a certain pile of laundry or trimming sheep hooves.  There is always the knowledge that sooner or later, those finite tasks will be repeated with a different pile, stack, or set of hooves.  I feel pretty happy when I get maybe 7 or 8 things on this background list - get kids to school, get kids picked up (on-time!), feed animals, feed kids, run necessary errands, cook dinner - basic, need to do every day things.

When things get out of balance, when one area becomes consuming to the point of only being able to do the bare minimum in the other areas, I get frustrated!  This week, the unexpected imbalance came in parenting.  My third child needed more support in his homework and more emotional support this week.  It was highly time consuming - 4-5 hours a night.  I am ashamed to say that I had to remind myself that being there for this kid, right then, was the most important thing I had to do on any list.  I had the older two cook dinner twice this week.  I did the bare minimum with the animals.  My poor husband had to come home to a rather disorganized family room (I usually straighten up before he comes), just so I could help this kid with his math and his feelings of failure.

This son is the intense one - a B is as good as an F for him.  The school has a grade check tool, and he had two F's on it last night because he had two missing assignments.  One of them was homework we worked on for an hour and a half and he couldn't finish, and one of them was a paper he did, had in hand, but didn't turn in until the end of the period because he was having trouble printing the Works Cited page.  On top of that, he overheard the teacher saying, "These kids don't deserve this school."  He is the kid who will take a generalized statement like that and apply it directly to his own heart.

The happy news is, after a huge meltdown, calm down, back rub, motivational speech, and an explanation that I really was the best person to explain the math to him (because it was hard for me, I can explain it at the very basic level of a beginner - yeah, I was surprised that worked, too), we got all 40 problems of two days of math done - graphing linear equations takes forever, I will have you know, when there are 40 problems..... When I asked him this morning if he could handle the quiz, the reflexive, "I hate math; I am a bad person" statement reared it's ugly head.  I rephrased and asked, "Linear equations - do you think you can do that today?".

He said with utter confidence, "Yes. I got that."

Okay, now I feel better that the horse stall has only been cursorily cleaned and we've been living off macaroni and cheese and even that the house was far messier than I would normally like to welcome my husband home to.  I am still facing a mountain of what I didn't do, but I will take the advice I gave my son: sometimes the only way over the mountain is to just start.  One step.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Non-farm musings on Romeo and Juliet, Pidgin English, and Thanksgiving

I am taking a break from farm talk today, because my Shakespeare class was so fun today.  They were diligently converting Romeo and Juliet Act II ii (Balcony Scene) into modern English when I reminded them it was okay to "own" it and use some the unique language we have in Hawaii.  The girls were laughing to the point of tears as they tried out Juliet's lines in a Filipino accent (one of the girls said she was imitating her grandfather), Pidgin English, and teenage slang.  ("Hey, brah, who dat stay in da bushes? Cuz, you bettah leave or you stay make. [mah- kay]"). Another group is making puppets.  Monday is going to be a lot of fun when we do some performances.  One year, I cut the whole play down to 30 minutes, in original language, and we put on a performance for the younger kids. You should have heard them gasp when Romeo kisses dead Juliet (and you should have seen the scowl on "Romeo's" girl friend's face as she sat watching in the audience).

When I was in 8th grade, I went to see a pidgin version of "Twelfth Night" and I was completely enchanted.  It remains to this day one of my favorite theater performances.

As far as Thanksgiving goes, my mom and step-dad are coming for the feast.  I can't wait, but there is a lot to do between now and next Wednesday when they arrive.  I really do need to make sure the cat is banned from the guest room and the room thoroughly clean to minimize allergies, and my youngest just informed me that her volleyball team was invited to the big tournament this weekend.  Sigh, once again, the weekend I envisioned spent entrenched in chores is going to be eaten up by taxi duties, and of course, the usual weekend big animal chores (deep cleaning pens and stalls) aren't going to go away, either.  I am going to have to be strictly following a time schedule to get it all done!  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I just got an email from a dear friend (and awesome equine transport person) passing along a request from a vet up in Waimea.  Apparently, someone has trapped and caught a lot of the Kona Nightingales which are wild donkeys. He dumped them on the vet, and now there are 39 donkeys needing homes.

I need another animal like a hole in the head, but there is some weird feature in my life that wants to say "yes" to animals that need homes.  (The real reason I can't EVER go to the Humane Society....)

I would love any feedback on donkeys that anyone has to share...

I think I need a day off....(don't everyone laugh at once)

Doesn't that make everyone laugh?  What's a day off when you have animals?  There is always, always something to do around the farm. Add four kids and a teaching job (one where there are no textbooks and you create all your own curricula op top of that), and the idea of time off is somewhat laughable.

My idea of a day off is a break from one of the four aspects of my life.  Sometimes I fantasize about taking a day off work to clean the house!

My absolutely perfect day would start with my kids having someone else to drive them to and pick them up from school, and my favorite sub would be in my classroom.  My house would be sparkling, my garden weeded and growing well, and all animals fed, watered, and healthy. I would ride Scarlett, write for two hours, and then read something that isn't written by a 15 year old.  I would bake something nice for the kids (when someone else brings the home).  The sun would be shining.

Since it would take a huge confluence of factors to make this day possible, I will never have the day - but to just even mentally imagine this day makes me smile.  It keeps me from opening my mouth with some really inappropriately sarcastic remark when a child tries to tell me why they don't have their homework.

Okay, recess over!  Have a lovely day everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It starts Monday night and roars in Tuesday morning...

You'd think after over 2.5 years we'd be used to it, but alas (teaching Shakespeare this term), this is not the case.  My husband works on Oahu, and he leaves Tuesday.  Monday nights, the mood in the house, even if I try to perk it up, is a bit off.  We generally don't sleep well that night, and then we wake up to say good-bye for the rest of the week.  Everyone is a bit cranky, and our 12 year old emotional weathervane gets edgy (or, like last night, falls dead asleep and ends up not doing his homework - which causes all sorts of drama in the morning).

It isn't actually that different; I assume the bulk of the responsibility for animal and kid care even on weekends, so it isn't like my work load is any more.  It is just the worry of everything.  What if this is the week the car breaks down?  What if the water pump stops working?  Those what ifs will get you every time.  Things have happened in the last two years that would normally be "his job", and I always, with his help over the phone, been able to figure them out - but I still worry.  Have to stop that.

On a good note: he got these bananas off the tree yesterday.  (They are sitting in our "burn pile", so excuse the cardboard packaging - not very attractive) This bunch weighs about 50 lbs and these are not dwarf trees.  He had to cut the top off the tree entirely, which is fine, because once a banana tree produces a stalk, that's it for it's productive life.  These are Cuban Red - they start their lives deep red, turn green, and they will get sort of yellow-pink.  They are very sweet, and golden colored.

I am glad that the other varieties we planted are dwarf varieties.  We have some Williams and some Lacatan.  It will be awhile until they have bananas.

Now, I have to decide which project is more urgent - figuring out pasture situations for the sheep so we can feed less shipped food, making separate housing for the chicks, since I don't want to put them in with the older hens, or the perennial problem of the washing away garden....I am considering ordering electric netting to make temporary grazing areas for the sheep.  Anyone have any experience with it?

Monday, November 15, 2010

They say Hilo has the biggest raindrops in the world.

It's true.  I have actually heard a UHH professor say that there was a study (involving a pan of flour) that "proved" it.  My immediate reaction was that surely no one has gone to every environment with a pan of flour to measure impact craters from individual rain drops, but sometimes you can believe it when you step outside and are immediately drenched.  We all have metal roofs to catch rain, and the rain pounding on it can be very comforting, or quite loud, depending on the mood - and how many days it has been raining.

I had a treat at work today - one of my former students who is serving in the Air Force stopped by school.  He is just back from Afghanistan.  I taught him in middle school, and he was one of the class of our first graduating seniors. He laughed a little because I teared up... that first class of kids were like my own children.  I taught some of them for 7 years.

Nothing much new on the farm front.  Didn't get as much done as I would have liked at home - for example,  I still have to worm the sheep - and that takes at least me and two people to hold the board we use to pen them in the corner.

I am so lucky, in spite of the lack of sheep vets, that I know the owner of a local goat dairy.  His son is my student.  I got good advice from him at the farmer's market about wormers and dosages.  It's really helpful to know there is someone who knows goats - somewhat close to sheep.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Making Bagels...it's a Sunday thing.

I usually bake on the weekend, and if the baking day falls on Sunday, I always feel like making bagels.  It's a rainy day (so what else is new, it is a rain forest, after all), so I might make soup, too.  I have to make some other baked goods, just to make it through the week.  A loaf of bread in $5.00 in Hilo (and that's the cheap stuff or "air bread"), so I make my own.  I usually try to make a treat.  Since it is cool today, I might make Pop Tarts.  The dough does best when it is cool.  I really like this recipe: Home Made Pop Tarts . I have used Nutella and different kinds of jam for the filling.  They don't last long.

I do have a lot of bananas in the freezer that I should use up, because there is a huge stalk out on the tree that is ready to come in.  A stalk of bananas doesn't look that big on the tree, but when you bring it in and lay it on your table - it is unbelievable.  I saw someone on craigslist selling a stalk for $55 - it was ice cream bananas which are kind of hard to find, and it was 50 lbs of bananas, but wow!

After church today, we went to Home Depot to buy some trim for the doorways.  Even though we technically finished the house in 2004, there are all sorts of little projects to finish up.  My husband was working on the mantle piece for the fireplace yesterday, and is now working on pine trim for around the inside doorways.  This is going to make my mom happy when she comes for Thanksgiving!  There are always so many things to do around here, that sometimes just the making things look finished and nice is the last thing you think of.

While we were at Home Depot, I bought some seeds. I usually try to do get non-hybrid seeds, but I just felt like it would be nice to have some peas, spinach, and jalapenos...at our elevation, we are sort of between zone 10 and 11 (I think they made 11 just for Hawaii), so I usually go with the 10 recommendations and it is close to time to plant all of those things.  I thought I would start them in pots since we are supposedly in for a wet winter.  Spinach always does better in pots here - if I direct start it, it never gets much over 4" tall.

I notice I have some volunteers growing where I throw my kitchen scraps.  It started out as a pile of lava rock where we located our pump house and the solar water heaters.  I started throwing out scraps there to build up soil gradually.  We've thought about herbs or lettuces there, but haven't done anything too much with that area.  I have had some interesting volunteers though: several avocado trees, papaya, pineapple, acorn squash, tomatoes, and now what I think may be an apple tree.  Some people a little higher than us can grow apples, not like you folks on the mainland, but a fruit here or there, but I doubt it will make it here. We always have to move the trees that start there - we've moved lots of avocado and the papaya - because it is too close to the house and the solar water heating panels.

On the animal front, I need to ask at the feed store if the trainer has room for my mare.  His sister, who runs the store bit, told me he would have room before Christmas, but he told me August in 2009....not reliable forecast.   For an area with a fair amount of ranching and large animals there is a dearth of horse trainers and large animal vets.  If anyone knows of a large animal vet or horse trainers who are looking for a warmer climate....point them our way.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Trip to Hilo Farmer's Market

This is taken from the parking lot of Hilo High School.  I was waiting for my son to finish his Math League meet.  The big tree in the background is a mango.  The smaller tree in the middle of the picture is a kukui. 

 This is the Pacific Tsunami Museum in downtown Hilo.  I have never been in it because it costs a lot!  However, the man who was the inspiration for it, Uncle Bob "Steamy" Chow has come to the school to talk about his memories of the two 20th century Tsunami several times.
This is purple sweet potato and kabocha pumpkin from the Market.  Yum! 

 This is lilikoi and papaya.  I want to take some of the seeds from the likikoi and plant them.  Lilikoi is also called Passion Fruit.

Orchids - no oncidium, so I didn't buy any.  Oncidium are my favorite orchids.  

 Hilo Bay and Coconut Palms.  There is a parking lot under the coconuts, so the county guys have to keep taking down the coconuts.  A coconut falling on your car is no joke. Right beyond the coconuts is the Bayfront Highway.  Every once in awhile, the highway gets closed for high surf.  It looks very flat and placid today, but the waves have gotten up to 25ft - and that wasn't a tsunami!  When the tsunami hit in 1946 and 1960, they went about a block further than I was standing when I took this.  In fact, there used to be stores past the coconuts, but they were all washed away.

In spite of whining about having to go down to town when I have so much work to do here, I thoroughly enjoyed myself in downtown Hilo while waiting for my 16 year old.  I went to the Farmer's Market and bought kabocha, Okinawan sweet potato, lettuce, papaya, lilikoi, persimmons, and green onions.  I visited a new book store and splurged on a new book for the eleven year old.  I actually spent $4 on a frappacino - which was 1/4 of what I spent on a week's worth of fruits and veggies.  I haven't had a store bought coffee in almost a year.  I visited Garden Exchange and bought diatomaceous earth.  I think I might get a better deal at a different store....have to look into it.  

Time to get gardening and baking - well, after I clean animal pens.  No farrier, so just as well I didn't lock in the horses anyway.  

Gauging the level of impatience through the fireplace vent....

When we put in the fireplace we put in extra venting to divert some heat up to the upstairs(it really only gets cold enough to use it a few weeks a year - still Hawaii, even if at altitude).  It is a great sound conductor.  I use it on Sunday mornings to judge when I have to stop reading blogs or books and get up and be productive.

Today, I got up at 6:56, woke up our 18 year old who had four minutes to get to work.  She really ought to stop relying on me as the alarm clock....

That kind of tipped my hand, that I am really up and not sleeping the sleep of the exhausted teacher.  It's been an hour and 15 minutes and I have been visiting  Homestead ...... From Scratch,  Lemonade Adventure, and   From Beyond My Kitchen Window .  All my other blogs have been private, mostly classroom blogs, and I am enjoying reading other people's blogs and hearing about other small farmer's experiences.  It is a little daunting to put out my first public blog...so it is nice to see "company".  

I am hoping the farrier will come today.  Ohia's feet are awful, awful, awful.  This mud isn't helping.  I have been feeding him a supplement with probiotics and biotin, but he is still so sore.  If putting shoes on doesn't help (he's been barefoot), I really will have to think about putting him down.  So very sad. 

I am really going to have to break down and realize that I do not have the time or the facilities to train my warm blood mare.  She is really willing, but slightly kolohe (naughty) - meaning she will try something once, but when you tell her, "No!" firmly enough she desists.  I need a round pen, though.  I can't train her in the pasture like I did Ohia.  He is a paint and very calm, kind, and willing.  She is huge, pushy, although basically a good girl.  Now I have to find the money and the trainer to put 30 days on her.  

Well, I do need to get up and start cleaning the stall, washing the mud from the horses' legs, just in case the farrier comes (well, I would have to do those things anyway - daily jobs - but I have to keep them in for him and make sure their fed before he gets here).  

Other than that, today will be weeding the garden, mulching the citrus trees, and baking day.  I am planning on making whole wheat bagels, English muffins, and probably blueberry muffins....possibly hamburger buns.  Oh, darn, I just remembered 16 year old has a Math League meet at Hilo High.  Shucks. Another 100 mile driving day.  I long for days I can just stay home and do the things I need to do around here.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Family Meeting, Ice Cream Sundaes, a Pile of Books from the Hilo Library!

Sounds like heaven - the only thing better would be if my hens would lay just one more egg a day (production down drastically) and if Dodie would have her lambs already (without complications, of course).

The family meeting was about redistribution of chores now that everyone is in "double digits" and now that  Mom is occupied with sheep and chicks.  As usual, my baby girl (11) was volunteering for everything, while the 18 year old was trying to distract us from the fact she wasn't volunteering for anything by her wit and charm (yeah, it didn't work).

We celebrated (or maybe sweetened the bitter pill) by having ice cream sundaes with real whipped cream.  Someday I hope to have my own dairy source, but for now it was organic whipping cream from the store.  Baby girl got out the fancy sundae cups from the top shelf and we pulled out the nuts and the maraschino cherries.

I also got a great big pile of books from the Hilo Public Library - nothing intellectually challenging, but enjoyable stuff.  I still have to read the four chapters of Ivanhoe I assigned my students (almost pau -finished).  Because of my profession, I have to read a lot of young adult novels.  One of the most interesting series is by Susan Beth Pfeffer: Life as We Knew It,  The Dead and the Gone, and The World We Live In.  I found the latter book at the library, and it was perfect timing.  My son and I were talking in the car about how The Dead and the Gone left a lot hanging, and how odd the ending was.  Now I know why, since I found the third book at the library!  My son dived right into the book in the car.  I love talking books with kids - I guess that is why I became a teacher.

I do have to say something about those books - the first one is so convincing, I have never known anyone who read it who didn't want to immediately go out and start growing their own food and stocking up!

The Middle School kids had Pa'ina Day.  Basically, they celebrated the end of their trimester.  There are makahiki games, a huge water slide, special treats.  Makahiki Games were celebrated by the Hawaiians in a season of no work (I always wondered how that worked when you live off the land and sea) between November and February.  There were feats of skill, like ulu maika, huki huki, spear throwing (sorry, don't know the Hawaiian name and there are none of my Hawaiian kids around to ask).  ulu maika is a little like bowling with a disk made out of lava rock, and huki huki is sort of like tug of war, but you stand on one foot on a coconut stump - tricky and more skill and trickery than brute strength.  Spear throwing means throwing sharpened wooden sticks at banana stumps (yeah, they actually let middle school boys do this at school - very brave people).  The kids had regular school and then Pa'ina day.

The good mood that lasted from the good books and the Pa'ina day meant the family meeting went without more than good-natured grumbling.  The ice cream sundaes stopped those soon enough.  Now I am going to go read!

Weekend Plans

I guess I confused my brain with a mid-week day off.  I found myself wondering why I had so many bags of alfalfa cubes on a Monday - before I realized it is actually Friday.

Friday morning at work means meetings.  I generally loathe meetings, particularly meetings which are purely information dissemination and meetings which involve veiled threats and harangues.  Basically, this means I bring my computer and listen with half a brain devoted to the topic of the meeting and half a brain devoted to either farm/house stuff, or with curriculum stuff.  I wouldn't be as blatant as some teachers I have seen who grade papers while sitting in a meeting, but I have been known to alternate between a word document with meeting notes and one called "To Do".

Today's "To Do" is quite lengthy.  ("Hugangous" as the kids say.), and on the bottom are the rudimentary notes for a chicken tractor for my new chicks.  They are all feathered out and I would like to get them out of their enclosed coop, but with the hen dying of some illness and the other hens being six months older, I should have other housing for them.  I love chicken tractors, because you can put them over unused portions of garden, or even grass, and have them clear and manure a section for you.

We used to have a hoop structure which was great, but only portable if it was dragged by the tractor or the SUV.  I am looking for something I can drag with a little human help.  It as to be mongoose and dog proof, and I need to be able to get in there and add food and water fairly easily.  At least one part of it needs to be off the ground - maybe just hardware cloth raised up an inch in case we get buckets of rain.

After I finish work type work, I will spend some time working on finding a good plan.  I have an idea of my own - just have to run it by my husband who will most likely get fed up with my inept fumblings and "help" (ie "do it himself") me.  That would be fine with me, my feelings would not be hurt - it would give me time to work my way through the rest of the "To Do" list which includes: sheep hoof maintenance, mulching citrus trees, cutting guaiwi poles for beans and tomatoes, cleaning the house top to bottom (will take two weekends because my stepfather is so allergic to dust, mold, trees, grass - and I have to make one "safe room" for their Thanksgiving visit) .

If I don't stop talking right now, the To Do will also include my report cards.  Time to get those report cards done!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Got a lot done today...

I cleaned the sheep stall, the horse stall, the tack room/feed room.  I gathered grass from where my husband cut the grass and piled it in the chicken run.  I had washed the horses' legs in anticipation of the farrier coming up in the morning and kept them in the barn.  By three, I was done waiting.  I called him and asked him to reschedule, and let them out.  It was a perfectly beautiful sunny day, so bummer they horses missed out on grazing.

Somehow my husband got our oldest daughter to fold laundry, but when he asked her to pick up a broom, I noticed she headed out to sit in the grass with a book (behind some trees which screen her from the house, but not the barn).  For some reason, most of my kids think that picking up a broom is unreasonable torture. They will do almost anything else to get out of sweeping: fold laundry, clean showers, anything.  I just do not understand it.

I weeded the garden a bit.  Can see where some of the neat rows I made got shifted in the heavy rain of last weekend, but I should still get some greens.  I planted amaranth, just to see - that is coming up gangbusters.  

One thing I didn't get done was my report cards.  The kids of the school have the day off tomorrow, so I will dedicate my day (after the meetings are done) to finishing them.  I have been trying to get everyone to move to an online gradebook, so the registrar can just print out the report cards....she says she is at the point that she will pay for it herself!  The program she uses now (picked by the last registrar) is very difficult to use and requires us to make separate spreadsheets with names, ten digit id numbers, 5 different standards etc. etc. etc.  Takes long tedious hours.  I'm really not looking forward to it, which is probably evident because I keep procrastinating.

My husband tilled the land we are preparing for some kind of crop out in the back pasture.  We are thinking maybe sweet potato or taro.  It is pretty far, and like everything else on this land, you have to go through the darn horse barn to get there.  The barn is Grand Central Station.  You have to go through it to get to the chickens, the sheep, the horses, and the back field.  I am still a bit baffled by it all - but I am the one who has to feed, so maybe he doesn't know how complicated it gets when you are carrying different containers of feed or trying to give water to chickens over a fence.

We're going out to dinner - it's our anniversary! I am off to get sheep smell washed off....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guavas, bananas, and lemons and a Giant Tree Fern (Hapu'u)

These aren't the greatest pictures, but I thought I would show some of the things I am growing.... This is a banana keiki (child).  It's a dwarf variety, so it won't get that big.  I can't wait until this variety produces - very sweet small bananas.

I made my "model" stand under the hapu'u so you could see how big they get.  Wild pigs LOVE these; apparently, so do horses, because when we moved the electric fence, the horse destroyed one in short order.  Doesn't it look like something a dinosaur would eat? She wanted me to take a picture with the banana keiki, so she could look "giant".  

Guava.  I need to pick these to either feed the chickens or make chutney.  They are falling on the ground, and I don't want to waste them.  

 The bananas aren't that clear. I will try to take a better picture earlier in the day.  This bunch is ready to pick.
Unripe lemons.  The same lemon tree will have flowers, unripe fruit, and ripe fruit all at the same time.  I am going to pick the ripe ones this weekend to make lemon bread.  

Last, but not least, here is my taro, at least one variety.  This one is an heirloom variety which is light yellow and it keeps it's color when cooked.  Yellow poi, anyone?

Trade winds back again...

which means more rain, but in more normal amounts.  It also meant, today, a wonderful rainbow.  I snapped a picture on my not-so-good camera phone.  This is on the highway in Panaewa on the way to Hilo.   It actually was a full rainbow, but I couldn't get it all!  Just after I took this, a little flock of cattle egret flew by - they shine white in the sun against the gray clouds and are one of my favorite sights.  Where I grew up on O'ahu, you could see them against the gray clouds and the dark green Ko'olau mountains: very beautiful.

I hope today goes as well at school as yesterday did!  I had such a marvelous day with the students I was most dismayed to see in my classes (in the particular combinations they were in - great kids one on one, rather unruly when in a small room together).  Apparently, some of my misplaced younger kids in British Lit were suffering under the lash of Ivanhoe last night (FB is wonderful for assessing the mood of students - I never add them, but will let them add me with the warning that I WILL remind them about homework - publicly).  This really should be a senior class, but our school is so small with so few teachers, kids are sometimes placed where there is an open space, and that means they have to suffer a bit.  I will have mercy and show them sparknotes.com today.

I am watching my flock very carefully, since the one hen died.  Everyone seems healthy, except for a drastic drop in egg production.  This might be because it has been very dark and rainy, and at least one of them is moulting - I hope that is it.

I taught my border collie (and? - mystery dog) to jump in the back of the car.  The shepherd mix thought she would try it, too.  It isn't nearly so cute when a 70 lb dog does it as it is when a 30 lb dog does.  She agreed, and jumped right out.  Maybe she remembers the last time she had to go in the car, when our neighbor shot her.

Have a lovely day, everyone!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Absolutely stunningly beautiful day....

 My classroom has two skinny opaque windows, so I didn't get the full impact until I went out to pick up one of my kids from school.  The first thing that made the day beautiful was receiving a call from my oldest daughter that she was at her alma mater, and I could pick her up when I picked up the other two kids after sports.  I can work on my report cards instead of driving hither and yon!

Of course, I stopped here to talk about it, instead of getting right down to work.  I love reading student work (most of the time), but am not wild about report cards.  So final, and for some of the kids, not such a happy day.

The light has that hard-edged bright quality that means the first day of Kona winds.  If they continue, we'll get terrible vog (volcanic smoke and ash) which will cause our plants to turn brown and dead, but the first day or two of these winds means dry weather and bright blue skies.  I just know, even up by my house it has been dry, which is good news for the animals.  At this time of the year, it isn't likely for the Kona winds to stay - that will come later in the year, or early in January.  Then we have to worry about catchment tanks running low.

Even if I am not much of a gardener with everything either washing away in the rain (except collards and taro) or burning up in the vog, I do know that when it rains I store water, and when it is sunny, my photovoltaics are contributing mightily and the water will be super hot. We compost or recycle everything we can, and we really need to go to the rubbish station once every few months, so I know I am not contributing to limited landfill space on this island.  We can proud of at least that, even if producing food for our family is going a little slower than I wished.

I once told my father-in-law, who grew up on the sugar plantation (when we still had them), that I wanted to produce 60% of our food.  He just looked at me with that twinkle he used to get when someone younger amused him mightily and said, "Good luck!"  He was a good man.  When he was 70 years old, he was out there pounding nails to build our cabin, somedays all alone, when my husband and his brother were working.  I would sit there keeping infants and toddlers out of his way, fixing him sandwiches, and marveling at him.  I miss him.

Nothing like experience...

I didn't want to complain to my husband about his sheep pen design - he was working with limited materials, limited time, and he did a good job under those conditions.  However, he did receive a first hand lesson in why having no gates to the chickens except by going through the horse stall which opens up the sheep stall is not such an easy idea.

Apparently, before I got home, he and the two younger kids were trying to layer the chicken pen with dried grass.  As I have found out, even the smallest crack into the horse stall is an invitation to a sheep: they can squeeze into the surprisingly smallest places!  One ewe and her 6 month lamb were out in a flash, and running around in the yard.  This attracted the dogs' attention, which is not a good thing.  I imagine it was quite a sight.

I really do need to think about what to do about Balto.  He has killed so many stray cats and chickens.  He has killed a couple of the barn cats.  The instinct is in him to hunt.  He is an older dog, though, already 10, and he is a good guard dog.  Since I live in what amounts to the wild west, a guard dog is an important deterrent.  Dead sheep aren't a fun proposition.

I have had a dog in the past that learned not to eat the livestock and cats, although he would often go out into the woods himself and fight the wild boar.  I could hope that Balto can learn the sheep are off-limits, like he learned with the indoor-outdoor cat (barn cats he kills, Nani he won't touch).

Another big decision I have to make is about the gelding.  His laminitis is not resolving to a point where he can at least be comfortable.  My farrier says it is time to put him down, but it is such a hard decision.  This horse is my baby, but I hate to see him hurting.  Bute isn't helping; the weight is back on him, but he is so very sore.  We're going to put him in shoes on Thursday - if he can at least stand and walk comfortably I will try to keep him going.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The sun came out....and other sunny propositions.

First, as usual, my gloom and doom about classes was not completely accurate (although if I don't get a IDEA aide in Period 4, life will be hard one hour a day), and second, the sun came out!  Of course, this is down at sea level and what happens down at sea level doesn't always happen up mauka.  I did ask a student to run outside and look around the other side of the building to see what the clouds looked like toward my house.  I don't usually make slaves of my students, but I could tell she needed to run outside for a second (and I really wanted to know).

I have hopes that the chicken coop has dried up a bit.  The sick hen was dead in her isolation cage this morning, which made me sad.  It has been four weeks since I wormed the goats to get rid of nasal bots.  They seemed to be recovering, except for Minma, who I just figured was weaker because she got into grain and bloated before I bought her.  Now, though, everyone is starting to snot up again.

We usually get a lot of rain in November, but it is usually later in the month.  One memorable November 30, we got 33 inches of rain in approximately 24 hours, for example.  I thought I was safe planting the seeds at the end of October, because it would normally be about 2-3 weeks out of the heavy rain, and maybe the seeds could start and hold onto their ground.  The slope is very gradual.

I think I need to go ahead and think about container gardening in the winter months, or at least make clear plastic covered frames to put over the garden, like portable green houses.  Someday, we would like to build a green house off the lanai of the house.  In our climate, without a green house, greens do best: bok choy, mustard cabbage, collards, mesclun, brussels sprouts.  I love them, but what more variety in what I eat, so I guess (after Driver's Ed!), the next thing to save for is the green house materials.

Planning on making lasagne tonight, after I do all my running around.  My son reminded me that I haven't made it in a long time.  I did a lot of baking this weekend: curry chicken rolls, meat and potato rolls, muffins.  I have extra meat and chicken filling, so I need to think about a casserole dish to use them with.  I am also craving thai curry - I can either wait to see if any eggplant pops up, or I can go to the farmer's market.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yay! The first fire of the year (yeah, I DO live in Hawaii)

but we're up the mountain (mauka) and it gets cold...for us.  Honestly, it is probably only in the 50's tonight, but my husband is making the fire.  That's cold enough to want one here.

I think I am going to have to put the sick hen out of her misery tomorrow.  I can't seem to find a website with a good description of what is going on with her.  She isn't eating or drinking.  I isolated her yesterday, and I gave the coop a good scrub down with bleach and water, and added some sulfa to the water of all the chickens, just in case.  I can't do a lot about the muddy mess the pen is in if she left infected droppings, but with so much rain coming down, maybe all infection will get washed away?! Or, at least, diluted.

We start a new term tomorrow at work.  I just got my rosters for the new classes.  I am in for quite a rough ride (so are the students, sigh).  It would be lovely to stay home and worry about mud and washed away gardens...teaching used to be such a joy, but I am getting very discouraged this year.  Maybe it is because I am sick....

Spent more than I should have at the feed store today while my son was in his religious ed classes.  I had my younger daughter with me.  She needed boots, and there were these adorable pink ones with horses....and then she promised if I bought her the 4-h book on dog training she would "totally" train our border collie cross.  She is such a little helper with everything, I couldn't resist.  The teens are growing up and out, and totally uninterested in animals or farming.  They help when asked, but don't go out of their way to look for opportunities. Little girl is at my side baking, feeding, gardening...I told her I would look into 4-h for raising a lamb (as if I need one more place to drive a kid every week)  I can drive 120 miles in a day if there are multiple kids in multiple sports. My 16 year old keeps reminding me "Driver's Ed, Mom.  It will solve all your problems!"

I need to redo my lesson plans based on the rosters of a couple of my classes.  I have to redo all my curriculum maps, actually, for three of my five classes.  Wish I got my rosters Friday, or the Friday before that - it is actually a lot of work.   I would never, ever do the registrar's job; I appreciate how hard she worked, but darn it, I am really up a creek tonight facing 7 am tomorrow.  Even sick chickens and acres of gooshy mud are attractive compared to that...

Mud, mud, everywhere....or the hazards of livestock in a rainforest.

I know I live in a rainforest.  I know we get upwards of 200 inches of rain a year.  I know how really frustrating our occasional drought (usually around January, when the rest of Hawaii is pouring) can be since we are on water catchment (I go out every day and try to gauge the water levels in our tanks, which are closed and speculate how long it will last - should I try to get on a water hauler's list???)

However, we must have gotten about 4 inches since Thursday night.  It is pouring so hard, I am dreaming about fountains and even cleaning bathrooms.  My chicken pen is an inch deep in mud, the sheep pen had a river running through it at one point.  The volcanic cinder which is under the bedding is very porous, so the water doesn't stay, but still the sheep are not happy.  They came from, lived their whole lives, on the other side of the island which has been in a drought so severe that it looks like the entire acreages burnt up in a fire.  I am not sure they have seen more than 1/2 inch of rain in the last year, poor sheep.

When I went out to feed last night, I swear they were asking me, "What's going on? I am all wet, and it is dark in the middle of the day!"  Even Dodie came up to me and nuzzled in my hand, and she has always been wary, even as the other sheep have gotten used to me scratching them under their ears.  I think she may lamb soon.  I wish I had a drier place for her.  I am going to get some straw, because the pelletized wood bedding can absorb a lot of water, but this rain is too much for it.  Straw, laid thick enough will at least provide some height over the water flow.

As far as the chicken coop goes, I need to make a channel for the water to flow out and into the ditch in the horse pasture that collects run off.  Every time we build something new (like the sheep pen), it redistributes the rain, which means you have to rethink how water flows.  The sheep stall used to be a horse stall which almost never flooded, not until a few days of rain got to about 10 inches.

I was hoping for some relief today, but I doubt it.  Even if the leeward side of the house is somewhat brighter, the windward side shows thick black clouds.

My husband told me to rest today; he says I have been going at it like I am not sick.  There are always so many things to do.  And to be really honest, making the baked goods for next week is way more fun than making report cards.  If I rest, it will have to mean sitting down with the laptop and doing the report cards and bills.  I need to do those things, I really do, but the wet and yucky animal housing is a priority, too.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Duct tape is good for everything...

I already knew this, because there have been plenty of times that I have patched up/poulticed a horse hoof with plastic wrap and duct tape.  Today, I used it to hem pants.

Sad, I know.  Part of the reason that this blog is called "Hapless" and not "Happening" is because of my sad lack of skills.  I can read, I can bake, and I can ride and to some extent doctor a horse, but I can't sew and gardening is a hit and miss proposition.

While my son was getting ready for the Veteran's Day Parade (he is in Civil Air Patrol), he pointed out that I still hadn't hemmed the uniform pants.  We checked a few other blue pants around (school pants, some random blue dress pants handed down from a cousin) - none of them were the right color.  We actually have a sewing machine, despite my lack of skills, but since my oldest daughter (who knows how to thread the darn thing) is at work today...I was stuck hand sewing.  I actually can hand stitch; I have made a few baby quilts and am working my way through a Hawaiian Quilt pillow during school breaks. It is just the machine that I just can't seem to get the hang of - and cutting out patterns.  Again, sad - I know.

My husband, who probably could have threaded the machine since his mother sews incredibly well and made sure all 8 of the kids had rudimentary skills, told me to just iron the hem and duct tape it.  So, I did, since we only had 5 minutes to spare to get out of the door.

It is pouring down rain up here, and I am sure it is at least drizzling down in town - I doubt the tape is going to hold.

On the animal front, Dodie still hasn't gone into labor, and one of my hens is sick.  She was in the coop, and I thought she might be getting broody, but she is making strange noises and her eyes are goopy.  I pulled her out and put her in a dog kennel by herself.  She must be the one who lays pink eggs, because I haven't gotten any pink eggs for several days.  I am going to see if I can find out what is wrong with her and see if the feed store has medicine.  It just doesn't seem worth it to go to a vet for a chicken who isn't a pet, and butchering her when she is sick doesn't sound too bright either.

It poured rain all night, and I dreamed about the fountain at the meeting of Kalanianaole Hwy and the Pali Hwy.  What a weird thing to dream about!  It made me miss home though - I woke up missing home, my kids being small (we used to go to the park there when my oldest two were toddlers), and my friends and family.  I am only a short flight away, and I couldn't even think about living like we do with Oahu land prices.

I was pretty pleased with my 18 year old.  Usually, she still uses me as her alarm clock, expecting me to wake her up on time for school, work, etc.  Today, though, I was out for the count.  She woke me up at 6:45 and asked how she was getting to work.  I thought, "Well, work is less than half a mile away, and you ran four years of cross country....why don't you run there?" but I said, "I am coming."  Mostly because it is pouring down rain and although we live rural, it isn't like a lot of rural places.  It is mostly like the Wild West out here...there are people back in the forest that are pretty dysfunctional and scary.  A few years ago, the whole community was sharing a stolen car back there.  They only place they would drive it was in the forest and out to the little general store out here (where my daughter works), but the fact that everyone thought it was okay just tells you something.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The kids have a day off, and I am still sick....took a picture of them playing tetherball from my window.  I mean to get them on the sly, but they seem to smell the camera coming out (can you say "ham").  I think I need to get 12 year old some clothes - it is just weird to wear your school uniform on a day off....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Just in case Mom was worried...

Nope.  Balto did not get the sheep.  They were all fine.

I had a little moment when I drove up at almost 8 pm and didn't hear Minnie screaming for food - but my 11 year old starting making "baaaaa" noises, and we could identify all four even before we got over there with flashlights. I think it cheered up 11 year old, whose team lost both sets of their volleyball game 25-16 and 25-17.

I have my antibiotics, and I am going to rest at home tomorrow and work on my report cards on my computer.

The dogs didn't get into my weird fence arrangement (used silt fence) around the garden but they did get the small patch where I buried the guts of a kabocha pumpkin in the other garden.  Darn it.  I am pretty sure it is Cinnamon, because she is the one I am catching with muddy paws....Everyone else in the family votes Melly, because I am the only one that likes that "rat dog" as she is affectionately known.  She is at least half Border Collie, but we got her from the pound and she is a bit too small to be full bred.  Two dogs is company, but we've found three is a bit of a pack, and they look to each other more than to us.

I need to figure out what to do with the 10 chicks I bought.  They are in the huge dog carrier, but they are coming up on 7 weeks.  I need to introduce them to the other hens/rooster when they get just a bit bigger.  Anyone have any suggestions on how to introduce slightly younger hens to an established group?  I have 6 hens and a rooster who are about 6-7 months old and ten 7 week old pullets.  I was thinking of putting them in the enclosure, but putting poultry netting in between them and the flock for a few days.  How long is long enough?

Sheep fencing...

Yeah. My husband wanted sheep because goats are so difficult to contain.  Yeah.

I went out this morning and found two sheep in their little pen, and two sheep in their stall.  All of them were supposed to be in their stall.  As far as I could tell, the two ewes jumped over a wood barrier and through the gate poles.  The lamb was too short and the ram was too big so they were stuck inside.

I had to go through the horse stall and that leaves both the horse stall gate cracked open and the sheep gate open.  A ewe got into the horse stall, which freaked the mare out less than the ram visiting, but did attract the attention of the dog.  Not a good thing.

I sort of blocked off the egress better, but I am so hoping that I go home to four alive sheep.  A determined dog can get into this set up and scare the sheep to death (or worse).

All of this drama caused me to be extremely late, stuck in traffic and gulping coffee and a leftover turkey sandwich...and about 40 minutes into the hour drive I noticed my shirt and jeans had dried mud and goodness knows what from sheep wrangling.  Nice.

I am as sick as a dog, and the doctor can't fit me in until 3:45.  This means I not only sit and shed illness throughout the school, it also means I have to get my sister-in-law and/or brother-in-law to pick up my kids.   It is such an incredible headache.  I wish my husband were here.

We thought he was making progress on getting assigned to work in Hilo, but today he got a Lana'i project and a Moloka'i project, so it just doesn't look as promising.  Not what I needed to hear on such a wild day.

At least the temporary fence I am using to block the garden from the digging dogs is working....I just planted a bundle of stuff...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just not feeling well...

but chores (and Student Led Conference week) don't stop for sick.  Tomorrow is the last day for conferences and one teacher is already out with step (which is what I think I have, too).  Yes, I understand that I am not being a good citizen going to work sick, and I will take off on Friday and go to the doctor, but short handed as we are...I can't take off.  I am the "point person" for this school event, and a sub just can't sit on a kids' panel the same way a teacher can.  (Well, one of our subs could- she is awesome and knows the kids very well, but...still).

Today at feeding time was fairly hairy.  I had to improvise this morning, and I am sure everyone was hungry.  I didn't go to town yesterday because of election day, and I didn't think ahead so I had to stretch one meal's worth of food over two meals.  The sheep were fairly frantic by the time I got home.

The sheep are in a horse stall with a small pen attached.  There is a little grass, but they like their alfalfa.  I gave them a taste of wet cubes (so they'd be soft) yesterday, so the ram knew what they were.  He saw the horses eating their dinner, and since their stall (next to his) was cracked open the least bit, he pushed in and ran under the mare and started chowing down.  The mare was fairly upset, particularly when he was up under her.  She "tried" to kick him - but it was more like she was making the point, because nothing landed on him.

I don't want to irritate my husband, but I really do need gates to get to all the animals.  It doesn't work if I have to cut through other pens/stalls to get to various critters.  I know he worked very hard to get the sheep pen up and functional with the soft ground (lots and lots of rain means lots and lots of mud), but to not put in a gate ...well, (he wasn't around) I just laughed and laughed when I first saw it. The chickens were locked in the middle of the sheep pen, and I couldn't see anyway beyond climbing over stall panels to get to them.  My husband did make it so two of the stall panels could open like gates, but there isn't any outside access to the chickens or the sheep.  Makes life interesting, and keeps me on my toes about closing gates behind me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I voted!

The three kids in K-12 all had school today, although my school is off and so is the university.  We woke up our college kid to make her vote on the way back from dropping the other three off.  She promptly went back to bed as soon as we got home - I guess the Halloween weekend she spent with her friend in town was a little much.

I am out of alfalfa pellets, mostly, so just turned the sheep out and cut them a huge sheaf of grass as well.  My husband tilled the garden and we put up a temporary fence to see if we can train the dogs to stop digging in that area.  I took advantage of the sunny weather and the tilled garden area to plant black beans, beets, mustard cabbage, turnips, daikon, carrots, and cucumbers.  The seeds are getting fairly old, so we'll see what comes up.  Nice that we have a fairly steady climate all year, so we can grow things year round.

I have to drive down twice to get the kids - two directly after school, and one at 5:30 after practice.  In between the driving, I hope to put a lot of the cut grass in the chicken coop as cheap straw replacement, and clean the sheep pen and horse stalls.

I have a slightly sore throat and feel pretty tired - people are dropping left and right at school with a virus.  I hope this is the extent of it, though.