Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Winning the Fight

Winning the fight for one of the sheep, anyway.  Two of the bite victims didn't make it, but I am winning the fight for Sammy.  He was getting anemic, so I wormed him and replenished the minerals, restarted him on a big dose of antibiotics - must have stopped too soon last time, and we hand carried water, grass, and feed mixed with electrolytes for the two worst days. 

Last night when I went out to feed, Sammy was up and fighting for his share.  He was quite interested in the new mineral block - trying to get it before I even unwrapped it.  It was a good thing to see. 

Sweetpea (little ewe lamb born on Friday now has a name) has been doing her best to learn to run and jump in the sheep pen - my husband reports that she is chasing any chickens who hop into the sheep pen.  The kumu who wanted me to name her "dog" pointed out that "peas" are still food - but, I replied, not for dogs! 

We have been tying up the dogs a lot more - not trusting that they won't dig under the horse fence that surrounds the sheep pen or wiggle under the bamboo and hot wire fence to the pasture.  We definitely have to think of a more permanent solution. 

It's almost time to pull some of the taro, and we can certainly harvest some of the lau (leaves) already.  Maybe I will makes some chicken luau this weekend - although the lau take a long time to cook and we have a busy weekend - my favorite (and the kids' hardest) Cross Country race and the church picnic are both coming up.  Maybe I will just load it all up into a crock pot one day. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

And now the Silver Lining...

My little one just called me to tell me that Audrey had her lamb today while we were all out. 

I am getting so much better at telling when the big day is imminent. I told my husband, "Within a few days," day or two ago - he scoffed, but this time, anyway, I was right.  She looked right sunken around the hip bones this morning, but I was so busy with big gaping holes in sheep that I didn't pay a bit of attention.  Audrey is an awesome mom, and I knew there was only one, because she was not so rotund this time around, so I wasn't anticipating problems.  

And, Praise the Lord, it's a ewe lamb!  I need a name.  I can't even rush home and see her because it is Open House tonight and I have to stand up in front of adults.  I am so tired from my maggoty-dreams last night that I hope I don't say something really dumb.  My daughter says the lamb looks like the little ewe lamb that got overlain a few months ago.  Her name was Uila, which means lightning, but it is a very clear beautiful day today.  There was a soft rain earlier; maybe her name should be Ualani: heavenly rain - hopefully she is our luck turning. Good luck is actually "Pomaika'i", but I know too many kids who actually carry that name to use it on a sheep. 

I can say that even though some adults thought I was nuts to teach predicates and subjects, every single kid in all my classes got an A on the quiz.  That's good, because I am ready to move on to direct objects and if you can't find the verb, you can't find the direct object, that's for sure. 

I am feeling so bummed that it will be so late tonight when I get off work.  We really need more than a flashlight for barn lights! 

Time to Make New Arrangements

It seems that the dogs have learned that it is fun to chase and bite sheep.  We are up to 3 serious bite wounds.  Sally (Franken-ewe) is doing her usual I-hurt-so-I-hide routine.  I am seriously spending the few daylight hours trying to find her.  My husband found her one day, but my stupidity let her back out, and then he left me to get her back in by myself. 

After struggling to lift her into a wheel barrow and thinking I was going to pull her leg right off (it's that bad), I just built her another one of my make-do shelters, shot her up with penicillin, fed her high energy food and try to hydrate her with electrolytes.  Last night, I went out to do a repeat performance, but she'd moved herself, and I just couldn't find her.  We have too many little hidey-holes in the subtropical forest. 

I am battling with maggots on the two ram lambs.  I clean it out each night, but there is no way to bandage where these wounds are and it being the end of summer, the flies are fierce.  Even fly spray isn't working. 

It's been discouraging and really, really disgusting. 

We don't have the heart to put down the dog, who is 11 but healthy, but he is being tied up for the first time in his life.  It's probably too sentimental.  I am not a person who thinks the dog is a person, but he's an oldish dog. 

With my husband not working, money is a problem - and part of me is thinking I should just sell the sheep.  He doesn't want to sell any of them or eat any of them and I could use the money I am spending caring for them on other bills.  I like how short they keep the pasture grass, and of course, for the first three weeks, lambs are wonderful, but sometimes, they are just discouraging.  That would mean I would also have to sell the horse, and put the other one down or out to pasture in the south of this island (another expense) because he is just not doing as well as I would like. 

It's been a long discouraging season on the animal front. 

Oops, there goes the bell for the end of lunch - time to get to class!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Remnants of a Tropical Storm

are rolling by down south and bringing slightly sticky, slightly warmer weather with an increase of showers.  Well, it's an increase most places, looks kind of normal out here in the gloomy hinterlands.

I got to baking today - so that my visiting nephew and my husband have something to eat while the rest of us are at school.  I made 24 hamburger rolls, 36 cinnamon rolls, a few dozen chocolate chip cookies, a loaf of sandwich bread and am now making an enchilada casserole, since I am too lazy to roll enchiladas for real.

I pulled the peppers out and harvested all of them and planted tomatoes and cukes and watermelon in the vacant pots.  My husband planted the hibiscus we had rooting in a five gallon bucket of water into 7 gallon pots - just till we can figure out where the heck we want them.  They grow like crazy up here - can get up to 20-30 feet in the wet here - so it isn't an idle question.  I noticed that the kahili ginger I had rooting with them doesn't look so good - may have to take a hike up the road and find another one to pull out and bring home.  I have yellow ginger and this red variety, but I really like that kahili ginger.  I would like to get some edible pink shell ginger, too.  Someday...

At church today, our musical contributions went so much better.  Last week was a disaster - it is us, a 17 year old piano player and none of us our leaders.  We end up trying to follow each other, and last week it was so comical, I actually laughed... and then got in trouble from my poor offended husband.  I was more laughing at me than anyone else, but oh well.  I just can't get up over the C anymore - and so many church songs ask for D or even E. 

Well, time to go check on the rice and bean concoction I have simmering down there to go in the casserole....Have a good week, everyone!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Moving Slow

It's a bit chilly and rainy this morning, and I chaperoned my first dance at the new school.  Very organized and quite well attended.  I was at the check in desk and the music was so loud I had trouble distinguishing between "Ka" and "Pa" and "Ta".  I sort of defaulted to the Ks,though, because of it being probably the most common initial to start a Hawaiian last name. 

I am fairly tired, though. 

I need to get cleaning, because one of my nephews is coming to stay for a bit, and the guest room could use a good freshening up.  I am a little concerned he accepted my facebook friend request but blocked me from his wall - haven't really said more than a few words to the young man in years, as he lives in another state and family gatherings tend to be LARGE, so you don't get to say more than a few words to members of the other generation - my kids have 26 cousins on that side of the family, ranging from still in elementary school up to in their thirties with a kid or two.  It would be nice to see who is going to visit.  I missed the most recent gathering because I started my new job (and I am still a bit cranky about it, too), but the one before that, I counted 52 family members in four generations in ONE ROOM.  Facebook spoils you; I guess I have to find out the old-fashioned way....

My goal for today, besides cleaning for the nephew, is to start some seeds to replace the peppers and tomatoes that are starting to run to the end of their lives, weed a little around the taro and the sweet potatoes, and start getting ready for the Cross Country season.  I semi-agreed to be team mom again, but even half-hearted means yes to a busy coach, so here I go.  There are a few tasks I could organize better than last year - the weekly snack and water thing, the potluck for the big Invitational race our school hosts, plus the course marshall recruiting.  I don't think there is a girls' mom this year, so that might things a bit harder this year. 

I am sure there are a few animal related chores that need doing - weekends are so short, I need to prioritize, which feels a little like putting out fires rather than actually accomplishing anything.

The good news is, although I still miss my oldest very much, our electric bill was $80 less this month.  I am sure it wasn't all her - we all went back to school and half the family was gone that one week, but still.  Teenaged girls take loooong showers and do lots of laundry, and in her case, use the computer and internet as a source of music and entertainment nearly 24-7.  It was bound to put a dent in the bill - and this was a rainy month, so not much in the way of solar. It might be even more during sunny months. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waiting for Peppers to Turn Red

I have quite a few green bell peppers growing in containers.  They got so tall, they are actually falling over, which makes me want to pick them.  I see that a few are turning red, which I would dearly love (red bell peppers are approaching $7/lb in the Hilo Safeway), but with the plants falling over like small felled trees, I am wondering if that will ever happen.  Anyone have any experience with that? 

This weekend is the last non-cross-country weekend for a few months - so I am determined to do something with the rest of the jalapeno peppers.  Something, given the increased production of tomatoes (more, but still not enough for sauce), will probably be more salsa. 

The 8 month old ram lamb who was bit on the okole is doing great after three days of penicillin.  He wasn't as badly injured as Spot, fortunately.  He ran, albeit a little gimpily, to eat along with everyone else yesterday.  I will give him one more shot, just to be sure, and then let him be. 

The paint horse has been really ouchy these last few weeks.  I found some aspirin paste for equines that is helping immensely and the feed store got some beet pulp in, which for some reason works wonders on this horse.  It just seems counter-intuitive, because I have to keep him away from other high carb foods such as waiawi and grain, but hey, it works.  I need to grow a lot of beets.  Haven't had much luck with root development with the beets - I get a lot of beautiful leaves, but these sort of anemic-looking roots. 

I definitely need to start new seedlings to replace the peppers and the tomatoes which seem to be reaching their peak and will presumably start to die back.  I am still getting the timing down.  Unfortunately, I have some hibiscus branches in a 5 gallon bucket so they will start roots - and a huge batch of mosquitos have hatched and are using my visit to the greenhouse each day as the source of food.  I notice even the cat, who has loved the greenhouse since we built it, is avoiding the mosquito haven.  I am getting itchy just thinking about it. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bad Season for my Sheep

I found a 3 month old lamb dead this morning.  I can't really figure out what killed him - unless the dogs scared him to death.  He wasn't ill yesterday, and he didn't have scours like the ewe that died last week.  So now we're down to 9 sheep.  It's fairly depressing. 

It's raining, which considering where I live is not surprising, but there is this wether to bury and the farrier is coming and there a few hard feelings simmering under the surface about that talk the family still hasn't had about job allocations now that the oldest has moved out and one of the adults is in-between careers and the other is starting a new stressful job. 

On a brighter note, I had a very long phone conversation with one of my former co-workers but still one of my best friends.  I am still interested in what is going on at my old school, especially since I talked them into a venture and then ditched, in a way, and Hilo being such a small town, she knows many of the teachers I am teaching with now.  She is a wise woman, so it was good to talk to her and bounce ideas of her. 

It was slightly depressing to go out after that and find Kehili dead, though.  I have so many black sheep, I had to look at his head to figure out which sheep it was.  I am glad it wasn't Niele - if I lost another ewe, I would be pretty upset.  When I came back from the barn, the dogs were doing the cringe and grin thing, so I guess it was them.  There wasn't a mark on him, so he must have died of fright.  He is the one who was still sneaking under the fence to come out into the yard - it separated him from the flock and they must have chased him. 

I hate having to bury animals in the rain.  Since it rains probably 90% of the time here, I suppose I should be used to it, but it is still less than pleasant.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I just started digging around the potato bed, just to see if there was anything edible.  I found the most beautiful little purple and red potatoes.  I had already planned to make cabbage, potatoes, and kielbasa, so I threw them in the pot.  They were SO good - so much better than anything that I have eaten from a store.  I even found one of the yellow variety growing eyes, so any of those I pick up will be replanted. 

I also picked quite a few long purple eggplants and green peppers and few tomatoes. I will need to make some sort of grilled veggie sandwich tomorrow night - or a stir fry or even a thai curry, actually.  I think I have some coconut milk in the cupboard. 

 The spiders, big huge ones, are taking over the greenhouse, so it makes my skin crawl to go in there - need to bring a broom and clean them out.  I know they are getting the bugs, though, so it is hard to get to mad - I am just afraid of spider bites in a big way, having had one once. 

I gave a few jars of my super hot salsa away.  The reaction has been, "Wow, it's good - but dang, it's hot.  I am eating one chip with salsa a day."  I actually don't think it is that hot - I have been eating it on beans every day for lunch, but I do also add cheese which tends to cool down the heat. 

It's been pouring off and on for days - I think the outer edge of the remnants of a hurricane/tropical storm are sweeping over us.  The windows at my new work are so big, it is actually entrancing to watch the rain pounding down.  My last job, the windows were both small and opaque, so I only knew if it was raining if the carpet got wet from the leaky walls, if the kids came in soaked, or if it was pounding so hard I could hear it. 

I am just glad the potatoes didn't rot under all that wet mulch!  This weekend, I am going to get some more! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Work and Work

Since it is the beginning of the school year, my work out of the home is definitely tiring me out for all the work at home.  I really need to go out and weed the taro and attempt to pull up the potatoes.  The potatoes were an experiment, and I do think they may have gotten too much rain and are rotting under all that straw mulch.  If so, next time, I am going to have to put rain covers over the potato patch. 

To tell the truth, I am pretty exhausted today, too, so I guess I am going to sign off.  Very short today, which is about how much time I have to spend on my plants and animals.  Hope everyone is doing well today, because I don't have leftovers to feed the two legged animals!  If someone is sick or injured out in the barn or in the house, it takes time away from cooking and the little bit of straightening up I can get done after work. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Making Salsa

Decided to make the 8 oz jars instead of the pint jars this time.  I also decided to leave more seeds to give a little heat -then I used the Kitchen Aide to cut up the jalapenos in order to avoid the three days of burning hands I had last time - which meant I used ALL of the seeds.  The salsa is pretty spicy. 

I will get it just right sometime or other, I suppose. 

I have about 10 lbs of bananas that are getting over-ripe so the next project today is banana bread and lots of it, too.  It freezes well, though, so no problems there.  I secretly want to just get into bed and read a book as the first week or two of the new job has been exhausting.  So many things to learn: just systems stuff, like how to do your time card online and sign up for benefits and get supplies and furniture and things like that.  I still can't figure out who to ask and the purchasing system is new; at least that is the one area where I do know who to ask.  I haven't met her, yet, but I know how to get her by email!  Progress! 

Also, my office looks good, thanks to my daughter.  She helped shelve books and arrange things to look nice.  I still have three or four plastic bins of books that don't fit on shelves, but we kind of tucked them into corners.  I am going to finish up a tiny cross stitch today that I did this summer and find a few old school pictures of my kids and put a favorite old painting one of my boys' did in 2nd or 3rd grade in a frame, and then I will have a few little things to put up for visual interest.  I also want a plant stand to have a place to house that crawling plant - the other plants can stay on the desk. 

I'd better go check the progress on the canning hot water bath.  Just wanted to check in a bit today. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I overplanted the peppers.  Any one have any good canning recipes for peppers? I have a lot of jalapeno-so I will probably go ahead and make salsa and pickled peppers, but what about green bell peppers? Or, does anyone know if they freeze well? 

I bought new cucumber seedlings, but they seem to have the same fungus or virus as the ones I pulled out last month.  I am wondering what's up with the cucumbers this year, very discouraging, because I wanted to put up some pickles.  Whatever is happening with the cucumbers, it didn't stop them from producing, but it curtailed how long they produced and the quantity of produce, too. 

Please Tell Me...

That you know what predicate means.  Or that you once knew, back in school.  That you can find a verb in a sentence.  I am mostly talking to adults here, but if a kid wants to chime in, I am good with that, too. 

Yes, I do know that I just wrote a series of sentence fragments.  They were for emphasis, and sometimes that is okay.

I am not going to explicate on why my sudden obsession with predicates; I am just adjusting to my new job, and yesterday was not the most pleasant day.  However, today, my daughter and I went into school and put away books and tidied up and my room feels better. 

I swear the philodendron I bought last week grew two inches and turned itself around 90 degrees to head across the desk toward the window.  I believe I must buy it a plant stand before it decides to take over the desk and to start using the computer.  My daughter, who is 12, is nothing like her siblings (or, eh-hmm, me) in some ways: today, she cleaned the freezer for fun.  The freezer would have to be handing me a plea for help or a citation from the Department of Health for me to clean it out....I am only exaggerating slightly.  I have a schedule for cleaning the freezer based on the school calendar, but I certainly wouldn't do it for fun

I found the weirdest thing volunteering in my potato crop - wheat!  I do occasionally give my chickens scratch grains which include wheat berries, and I must have accidentally included some not completely composted chicken litter in my potato bed.  I had no idea wheat would grow here in Hawaii. It is definitely worth experimenting with - I read that some farmers tried at the beginning of the last century without much success, but they tried on Maui, and we're colder than most of Maui. 

I would so love to be able to grow some grain to make flour.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Boy

It's my son's birthday today.  I had to work all day, although it really was a good day.  I had a few clarifying conversations with some teacher and had a "working lunch" with some of the science teachers who asked me to come "talk story" about reading and vocabulary strategies they could use in their classes.  I didn't get through my boxes of books, but I did get my syllabus done.  There are a few things I need to find out before I am really set, but so far so good. 

When I got home from work, I found that my ewe had indeed died, but there were also a large number of yound adults driving up the driveway.  I had to feed them, do the laundry for myself, and sort of do some straightening up because my family comes home tomorrow and school starts the next day.

I looked around the room at these very nice kids who have been my older two kids' friends for the past few years with some mixed emotions.  I was so pleased when they decided to over-ride my son's seeming desire to make his birthday low-key - they dug out the candles (little football candles from someone's 10th birthday years ago) and sang to him.  They tried to sing bad, but they have all had some training in singing, and it came out so nice.  In spite of a slight blush and abashed look, I think he secretly loved it.  On the other hand, there was a missing face with my older daughter living on another island.  I called her and put her on the speaker phone.  I could tell she was a little sad - she asked them to "pick her up".  It was meant to be a little bit of a joke, but I could hear that she was feeling like I was - I wished she could have been here. I had to go wash dishes to hide the fact that my eyes were tearing up.  You'd think I would be over it already. 

On the garden front, I seriously overplanted peppers of various kinds.  I did see a recipe on http://cookingwithveggies.com/, my sister-in-law's blog, for stuffed peppers that looked good, but this weekend I am seriously going to have to do something with a powerful lot of jalapenos.  I have enough tomatoes to make some jalapeno salsa, but there are more peppers to deal with.  Maybe I will just pickle them.  I love those, so they will get eaten up. 

The boys who came over today looked at out taro patch and said, "Wow, that really needs some upkeep."  I feel so guilty.  My husband planted so much and we're so behind in weeding. I need to mulch those potatoes yet again, too - forget Jack and the Beanstalk - it should have been Jill and the potato plant - hope they are making tubers as well as all these leaves! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Awwh, My Ewe is Sick.

I thought she might be just hiding out in preparation to lambing and that I'd just got the timing wrong, but she is genuinely sick.  I gave her some antibiotic, some electrolytes, and covered her up to keep her warm (it's August, but it's cold up here on the mountain - even if we are in Hawaii).  I feel quite sad, and wish we had a better vet here.  I had to kind of build a shelter for her out in the pasture under thick trees with some feed bags, because I think I should keep her isolated from the others and we just don't have a way to do that as things are now. 

The half of my family that is gone (and who still live here) comes back in two days.  I am adjusting to my new job; I really am blessed to have this job.  I just don't like feeling this stupid.  There are so many new names and new ways to do things and I just don't know who to ask about things like getting bookshelves, etc.  On the other hand, people keep handing me things with the name of my predecessor on the package - I somehow got more index cards than I absolutely know what do with, and a load of pens (which is good) and a bunch of file folders (also hunky dory). 

I decided that after asking the principal where to get bookshelves, looking where he told me to look (nope, none there) and mentioning it to a few teachers to see if they had any that I wouldn't worry about it.  I have about 10-11 big plastic tubs of books.  My students and educational assistant packed them up, so they aren't in any particular order, but I can fix that.  They look messy stacked up in my office, but I figure if it bothers someone, they might be more motivated to help me find bookshelves.  I am not sure if that is passive aggressive or practical, but once I get them in the right tubs such as professional resources, novels, non-fiction, student references, poetry, I will be fine with them staying in the tubs, because I can just pick them up and take them to whichever classroom I am in. 

So between worrying about the ewe and having to trudge to the back of our land to find her make do place and trying to figure out the systems of the new place, I have my hands full.  I am very much looking forward to my husband coming home, if not to having to wake up my 13 year old to get him out the door for school the day after they get home, and to the students coming in later this week.  I got their names today.  Pretty exciting.  I will have to get the scoops when my kids come home - they probably know them from middle school: a benefit to teaching where your kids go to school.