Saturday, March 31, 2012

Triplets Again!

This time, I admit, I am even more worried than usual - Ellie is a first time lamber and she had triplets.  She is a nervous gal, and I think, like Minnie, she can't count past one.  If only she could have done this during Spring Break!  At least it's Saturday, and I can keep an eye on them for two days.  Everyone's had a turn at nursing and I got a few sips of store-bought colustrum down everyone's throat so the bottle can be an option, if it needs to be (Oh, please, God, please not needed - I can't really bring even a tiny lamb to my office, as excited as the kids would be). 

It's two ewe lambs and a ram lamb again, which is nice.  That brings me up to 7 ewes, (will be 4) wethers, and two rams.  One ewe lamb and the ram lamb seem to be black with no white spots, and one of the ewes is patchy black and white.  I had a ram lamb born like that last year, but he was one of the dog victims.  It was dark when I went out to check on them hearing Ellie and her loud mouth.  After dipping all their umbilical cords with betadine and shoo-ing them to her udder and checking the udder was working, I decided to leave them alone.  Just fiddling around her had momma antsy and pacing. 

It's funny, because when Ellie was a lamb, she was the most pushy about getting close to me, getting her due share of affection, but as her time for lambing came closer, she has been reclusive and difficult to catch.  I guess nature kicks in. 

I will try to get some picture up later today, I am going to try to get a little more rest....working through that cold made me even more tired than usual. 

Although, I am so very tempted to drag my little one out of bed - a year ago, she would have been excited - now it's more like, "Oh, yeah, more lambs....Can I have the pretty one?  Okay, I am going back inside now...."  So far, she has laid claim to all the multi-colored lambs - those poor black sheep get a bad rap. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Blog, The Essay, The Process

I just read an essay by G.K. Chesterton and it delighted me. It made me think about the genre of essays and how they are like and unlike blogs.    

I know there are readers who wish I had more pictures, but I can’t help thinking that all I have is lambs – they are all cute, but you know, they are all lambs and since my flock is fairly genetically landlocked for the moment – they all pretty much look alike – either black with a white spot on the head, or Barbados-y white with brown and black points. Is it Hawaii that you want more pictures of?  Glenwood is hardly your typical Hawaii.  It rains.  It rains a lot.  The sky is gray, the grass is shaggy and overgrown, and the trees are green and gray and brown.  There’s a sea of mud where the animals walk the most, and there is chicken shit everywhere – which is one reason I am grateful for rain – and, umm, mean dogs who don’t allow chickens on my porch.  (I am less grateful for them when they are not tied up and decide chasing sheep is so much more fun than snapping at wandering hens).  

I have to admit, in the main part, writing a blog is more like taking an essay test than writing a really good essay, at least most of the times.  Sometimes, I will spend the time walking around and thinking and polishing, but mostly, I just sit down and write.  Like any essay test, there is some time spent working on rethinking a word or testing an idea (I love watching kids write essay tests – they stop and squint at the ceiling, move their hands and lips and eyes, bend their heads to their papers or key board and jump back into the world of ideas), but it is a single burst of time. 
I like both kinds of writing – in an essay test, when you have a prompt, and it is like a puzzle, what is it that this person who assessing me is asking for – how can I get them to join in this conversation with me?  I like that sustained burst of energy when you are focused on the word, and the idea, and how to put the two together.  

I also like how it feels to craft a longer piece.  In college and graduate school, that meant getting out and walking or riding a bike and thinking.  My feet were moving, but my mind was moving more.  I plan my curriculum like that, too.  Walking around, feeding sheep and watering plants in the greenhouse and thinking about what’s next, who got it and who didn’t – and how do I help them get it and what if, what if?  I talk to myself while stirring the pasta or taking a shower.  My family thinks I am nuts, I am sure.  Sometimes, I am so deep in thought, I wonder whether I was talking outloud - and if so, did it make the slightest bit of sense?  

It’s the same and not the same as extended writing, though – writing as a student where the writing is the learning.  When I blog, I have an audience and I guess I mean to be entertaining (sometimes succeeding more than others).  When I teach, I have an audience, but I also have a focus, and end goal.  When I wrote an essay in school, I had an audience in the teacher, but I mostly had the audience of myself and my own learning, and the subtle, quiet conversation you have with authors who may be living or dead, but in either case, you will never get to know them and really know – but you have this glimpse of someone else’s world.  

So, I guess it’s not the writing that I miss so much, it’s the way writing slows down your thinking so you can find all the layers you are flying by when you are talking.  It’s the ideas that I miss.  There is nothing like that excitement of a new idea, like a hunt, finding it in a lecture or a poem, essay, or novel, tracking it down, making your own sense of it.  There is nothing like that.  I am in tears that I can only get my struggling readers to glimpse that feeling – if I could unlock that for them, how much more open their lives would be. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Horse Kisses

About 20 years ago, I had a brief spate where I made my "living" (such as it was) riding horses - so I have ridden quite a few different animals over the years, but four horse "hugs and kisses" stand out. 

Ohia, my paint horse, likes to "hug" me by putting is big bulky head over my shoulder and attempting to rub my back.  It's usually a response to me vigorously scratching that one spot on his neck and is like to bowl me over. 

There was a mare named Sage who would wrap her long thoroughbred neck around me as I stood at her side and squeeze - I would have nick named her "Anaconda" except it was actually pleasant. 

When I was a child there was an old horse named Bim Bam.  Once, while I was scrubbing out his water tank, he started nibbling up my back (horse teeth are big) so I turned around to see what was up, and he licked my face.  My whole face with his big, four inch wide horse tongue -very slobbery.  As a 13 year old, I was fairly flattered, but now, in retrospect, I am sure he was just thirsty and wondering when the heck I was going to refill his tank with fresh water. 

There were a few polo horses I cared for in there who liked to rub their faces on my pregnant belly when I was carrying my first - and even liked blowing their nose on me when that disgusting horse flu went through the barn, but that doesn't count.  It was yesterday's spontaneous expression of trust that melts my heart the most.

I have mentioned the Crazy Horse Gib - that ghosty horse who lives in my pasture and who is scared of people.  I just have to point at him for him to move away - useful while feeding two anxious horses in an enclosed space.  He stays just out of reach of your hand at the best of times, and wheels off, running, at the worst.  Well, yesterday, he stood at the gate when I came up.  I don't look him in the eye right off; someone hit him enough on his right to push that eye in and dent his face, so eye contact is scary.  So I stood with my arms over the gate looking past him at the other horse. 

To my very great suprise, he didn't move away and he slowly put his nose out to by face and blew at me.  And he kept his face there (which is not the most comfortable - remember that four inch slobbery tongue and big square teeth) while I blew back.  He stood looking me in the eye and let me slowly put my hand out and rub his neck. 

I felt honored by his trust. 

He repeated the experiment the next day, although a little more hesitantly.  Maybe we are turning a corner, but maybe it was just the vagaries of traumatic brain injury - because I swear this horse has the same memory problems as the two students I have had with TBI.  Either way, I appreciate the moment of trust and closeness with that horse.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blech - Horrible Cold

I guess all that worry and traveling back and forth (I knew that coughing person on the plane was bad news) got me sick.  It's just a cold, but I feel horrible!  Actually, it was a lot worse yesterday (fever); today is just a head cold. 

It probably doesn't help that it has been pouring and pouring.  I really can't remember another 6 month period where we had more rain - at least in the last 16 years.  There is a guy in the maintenance staff at school who's lived here all his life and he said some time in the sixties it was a lot worse.  We have a metal roof, like everyone on catchment, and the rain has been veritably pounding on it for hours.  We also had a small earthquake, but that's not very unusual. 

I feel bad for the sheep and the horses because although they have a roof, the water has been seeping up through the rocks under their flooring (and in the sheep's case, flowing in from outside).  They have increasingly smaller dry areas.  It bothers the sheep less - maybe because they have wool coats - they go out and graze.  The horses have just stayed in all day for the last two days.  I guess it saves them from rain rot. 

It's chilly, too.  Not cold like many of you - just in the upper 50s, low 60s, but we don't have heating, so it's in the 60s in our house, too.  I made broccoli and potato chowder just to warm up.  Even doing that, which isn't hard work, just chopping and stirring, made me tired, so I gave up on the whole wheat rolls I was thinking to make with them.  I will just have to make biscuits at dinner time. 

We went to church at the church we started out at when we first moved here.  We'd switched to the bigger church downtown when our kids were in Confirmation classes and the like, but we decided to try to go back there.  Everyone remarks at how big the kids have gotten - it's kind of funny, because all THEIR kids have gotten big, too.  Like mine would stay small?  And then today - and I don't know how to take this - one lady said, "And, wow, they are so well behaved!  Not like before. And wait, didn't you have four?"  I just smiled and told her our daughter was in college. 

But inside, I was thinking, "My kids were never particularly ill-behaved - certainly no more than your girls! Why wouldn't they be well behaved?  They're all TEENAGERS!"  It just seemed so odd.  One of her daughters is a classmate of my third kid (and I was her husband's classmate back in the day).  I am sure she didn't mean anything, but I just thought it was so odd to remark on the behavior of nearly adult people.  I do promise you, beyond the age of about 2, my kids did know how to behave in church!  Even the difficult one ;).   

Friday, March 23, 2012


When I went back to my office after teaching yesterday afternoon, the message lights were on on my cell and on my office phone - call the Breast Care team.  There were two messages from my husband letting me know that they'd called home, too.  I was pretty nervous, and the fact that it took the nurse five minutes to pull up my record while I sat there shaking didn't help.

But the results were good!  Just will probably have to go in for more frequent and regular mammograms, but I'll take that over a worse outcome!

It made me think about perspectives.  This was a perspective-changing week for me - even knowing that many, many women go through this all the time.  I have a lot of friends - even though most of them are not on my island - who will listen to me and support me.  I really need to be more proactive about my health - I kept thinking if I did have cancer, and if I did die from it, I would pretty ticked that it was three years between mammograms and it was all my fault for ignoring all those helpful reminding emails that it was that time again....  And finally, just because I hate videotaping or recording myself in any way, being afraid of that should not stop me from applying for National Board Certification.  I even spoke up (on a microphone - also on list of least favorite things to do) in front of the whole faculty (scary) about something I considered wrong. 

I told myself that if this diagnosis was good, I would apply.  It means taking a lot of tests (I am okay with tests), videotaping two lessons and writing no more than 13 pages of analysis on both, and collecting samples of student work, commenting on them, and writing oodles of pages reflecting on my practice as a teacher.  Having that certificate would allow me to teach anywhere in the country with a minimum of fuss (teacher licensing is a bear, let me tell you), give me a raise for the duration of the license, and give me a few more letters to add after my name, if I should be so inclined.  I would rather have a doctorate, but that's not even in the realm of affordability - and would not actually lead to a raise, since I have 3 degrees and oodles of post-bac credits (I like school, what can I say?). 

So, I am grateful for this scary week - it feels like that a phone call that took away the fear of a bad diagnosis also took away some of the other fears that I have - like taking blinders off.  I appreciate the comments, prayers, positive thoughts from everyone.

Now, we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming.....

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tired of Me, Yet? I Am!

I have decided I need to stop thinking about everything - it is most likely going to be fine - and if it isn't, I will handle it then. 

Anyway, I went to do the biopsy yesterday, which was interesting, after I got over my sick childhood fear of needles.  The click, click, click of the "biopsy gun" (I was so helpfully informed of what those in the profession call it.) was a bit unnerving, but watching the procedure on the ultrasound monitor was pretty cool, actually.  Somehow that little black and white screen is a bit divorced from "you" so it was okay.  The tech was so carried away with my interest, he showed me the samples they took in their little jar of fluid!  And I am such a geek, I thought it was pretty interesting. 

After the procedure, I was so relieved that it was over (I was really scared of it, in spite of hearing from most people that it was nothing), that I felt pretty euphoric.  Then I went to my dad's place and hopped on the search engine - felt less confident after that, but realized I have to ration the search time and just wait.  So, I did some work on a garden unit I am working on with a math teacher for next year, and revised my scope and sequence for the final quarter, and generally just sat and hung around with my dad, which was really, really nice.  (Thanks, Dad!) 

I know I am not completely over the worry, even though on a surface level, I feel like I am, because when my husband was 10 minutes late to pick me up in the airport, I was practically in tears.  It was ridiculous and irritating, and I am glad that instead of fighting about it, my husband said, "That can't be the real reason you are upset - what's really wrong?" and took me out to eat ice cream.  That was pretty nice. 

On the farm front, Niele (Ellie, for short) looks a lot more due than she should.  I must have miscalculated.  She is standing away from the flock and complaining a lot.  Although she is usually a love bug, she won't let me near her, which makes it harder to check her hind end.  This is her first lambing, so I really want to keep an eye on her.  I hope she is a decent mother.  Her mother, Dodie, was a great mom, so I am crossing my fingers.  The triplets are growing - the little ram lamb is almost caught up in size to the big ewe lamb that was born (remember how one was normal sized, one small, and one teeny?).  The littlest ewe is still little, but she is the most active and playful and is growing well - she just started small.   

One of my favorite things is the evening feeding - watching the sheep come up over this rise in the pasture.  They little lambs popping like popcorn next to their moms.  I think they listen for the gates and the doors of the feed room - even though they are hundreds of feet away, behind trees, they are listening and ready to come running home.  Last week, the older sheep were playing - one of the wethers, Hulu, started pronging around everyone else and then lightly butting the other adult male sheep and running away.  Even Elvis got into the game - even at 250+lbs and with all his dignity as the patriarch of the flock - he started running around in circles and even hopped a few times.  Gave me a laugh.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

More Tests, More Waiting

What I don't get is that my HMO sent me to Oahu last week.  I made it a two day visit because, what the heck, might as well see my kid and work through financial aid stuff with her.  I also kind of thought if they found something on Thursday that would give me Friday to do any follow up. 

Well, of course, that would be too sensible.  Instead, I spent the weekend playing what if movies in my head and called first thing in the morning today.  The woman in the Breast Care Team (kind of think the "team" is just her - but I could be wrong) told me she was planning to call me today and that I needed a biopsy.  I asked about doing it here on this island - I happen to know my sister-in-law who did have breast cancer was biopsied here - but was told that wasn't possible.  She was looking at appointments and told me, "Well, the one tomorrow morning at 8:45 is too early, and my next one isn't until March 30."  (!).  I told her I would take my chances with the travel department and to just book me for that 8:45 - there wasn't any way I was going to sit around for nearly two more weeks worrying!  Actually, with the four day wait for the labs and a weekend in there, the whole wait would be more like three weeks. 

Anyway, I fly out at 6:00 am tomorrow - which means I have to get up at about 3:30 or 4:00 (which means, Railbird, somewhere in the afternoon I am going to pass out on your couch).  I fly in, get picked up by my dad, drive to Waipahu (! - if they can do this is Waipahu - why can't they do this in Hilo????) do this scary (hate, hate, hate needles if they are pointing toward me - somehow I am fine giving injections to horses and sheep) test.  I made my flight home at 7 pm, because it was just easier with my dad's car situation - the choice was rush in and out or come in, spend some time with Dad and go home when he gets a car again....  Since I am already going to be missing my classes tomorrow, might as well spend some time with Dad. 

It's a little frustrating because tomorrow is the first day of a new grading period and I had to get a substitute.  The kids are going to either be asleep or wired after a long break (asleep because they have all probably been sleeping in all week; wired because they are back with their friends).  I really like to put the fear of God into the class on the first day of a new term.  I guess I will have to wait until the second day of a new term to be scary. 

Please keep those positive thoughts and prayers rolling.  I know this is a super-common phenomenon, but I think having my sister-in-law having had breast cancer - it just feels more possible, somehow.  I do spend most of the time thinking this is more humbug than anything else, and probably nothing, but every so often.....well, I get a little scared. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Cleaning

When a spouse wants to clean something major and needs your help - it's best to jump right in and not complain about the list you had for yourself lest you end up having to clean it by yourself at some later date. 

Yesterday, that task was the kitchen - inside and outside (highly efficient, rather small fridge leftover from our off grid days) refrigerator/freezers and outside chest freezer - the whole thing - turning them off, defrosting the off-grid freezer, taking out the shelves and washing them all, wiping down all the surfaces, removing those sauces from the door that you can't remember buying - and the frozen ahi lump in the plastic bag at the very back of the freezer with the date "2005" on it (not sure how that was missed the last 7 times I have cleaned the freezer....). 

I also weeded in the greenhouse, pulled five loads of laundry off the line and folded it and generally kept myself busy and not worrying. 

Today, we drove all the way to Kona to go to Costco - one of those 10 lbs of cheese, four boxes of hot chocolate, 50 lbs of flour kind of Costco runs. Our freezers and cupboards and fridges were cleaned out and ready for new food.  Bread flour (which I can find in bulk in Kona but  not in Hilo) really does make a difference when I make bread.  It was not raining in Kona (as usual) but it was really voggy.  I couldn't even see Kohala mountains, much less Maui (which you can see on a clear day).  I am glad I don't live in Kona - even they have more stores and more dry weather. It is all rocky lava and heat.  It was nice to get home, even though it was apparently raining all day. 

I go back to work tomorrow.  I didn't get everything on my Spring Break list done, but enough so that I don't feel bad about leaving the big household chores until the end of May and enough so that I can get the outside garden stuff done in small batches on weekends.  I also can call the doctor's office and see if there are any next steps to be done. 

Two things helped put everything into perspective this weekend.  One was talking to an very good friend about his wife's cancer (thankfully treated successfully and hitting the magic five year date this summer) and realizing that there are people I can talk to and looking into the eyes of a woman at church I have known for 16 years, and who helped me so much when we first moved here and my kids were so little.  She was on the same airplane home from Honolulu and she was coming home with the diagnosis that I am hoping to avoid - only stomach cancer seems so much worse than breast cancer.  A few days of waiting for what has an 80% chance of being nothing is no big deal. A'ole pilikia.  I can do this.

And get my refrigerator so clean you'd swear it was brand new.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hospitals, Tests, Waiting

I apologize to any Oahu friends who are reading this and wondering why I didn't call.  I flew to Oahu yesterday for some tests because of a "bad mammogram" last month, and although I really want to see every single friend here - I wanted and needed to spend time with my daughter.  We finished her taxes and her financial aid stuff and had dinner and a walk to her favorite coffee shop (I was up all night - they told me it was decaf, too).

My stepmom and dad took me to the hospital here, waited through the diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound and then took me to lunch.  I really appreciated having someone with me.  I am a worrywart, you all do know that, but I didn't feel like the ultrasound went too well.  At first the tech was answering my questions, pointing out cysts (no problem, he said), then he found the lump.

I said, "That's not another cyst, is it?"

"No," he said, "That's solid.  It could be fibroedemous (not sure on the spelling there)."  But then he got quiet as he scanned more - and asked me a few cancer related questions.  Usually, they tell you - you'll either get a letter or a call (letter is good), but he stepped out to call the doctor - handed me a letter and said, "This doesn't say much, but someone will call you in a day or two."

It was a form letter which included check boxes and options like "Negative/No cancer" and "More tests needed."  All that was checked off on mine was, "Follow up with provider."

Yeah, I am not feeling so sanguine about this.  Those of you who are praying people, I am asking for prayers for a happy outcome.  In the meantime, my overly worried mind is thinking how I can cook enough food to freeze or put up to feed the family for the next 6 + months, what else I need to stock up on to make it easier for everyone - cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc.  How will I work if the worst happens and I need chemo?  What should I do with the horses?  Should we sell some of the sheep?  Can I stand to put in a garden if I can't weed it and no one else will do it?  And, probably most stupidly - my hair is so long - it took so long to grow it, what if it all falls out?

I need to stop thinking about this.  Have a few more hours with my mom and daughter and then I need to get to the airport to go home.  I will need to make sure my HMO gives me an answer  - if not today, then I will call on Monday.  

Well, thanks for listening.  Hopefully, I can just post next week and say, "There I was again - worrying for nothing!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Routines, Days, Seasons

Because I am a teacher, my year follows a school year pattern.  Fortunately, the school year now includes a week break in October.  Even though the summer is shorter, that week right at the beginning of October pretty much ensures a balanced schedule of time off from my classroom in which to work on my garden and green house. 

I was thinking about routines.  During the school year, I wake up at about 4:30 am.  I don't get out of bed, but I try to do my prayers and think about my day ahead.  I am usually so tired they kind of get muddled together.  I get out of bed at about 5 am, get ready (in the dark to minimize the waking up of my husband) and try to get the kids out of bed.  The oldest gets up fairly easily, but the 14 year old needs his alarm to beep for about 15 minutes and for me to yell up the stairs, "It's 6:15; get up! We're leaving in FIVE MINUTES!"  He seems to need the whole thing - me turning on the light in his room at 5:45, turning on his alarm, having it go off, the yelling up the stairs, etc. 

We drive to school - fortunately, we're all at the same place now. 

I put on the hot water for the tea and turn on the copier, unless my co-worker gets there first, sort through my email, figure out which day it is (we have a rotating block schedule) and make a list of the things I want to accomplish that day in my classes, in my teacher support work, in my tutorial creation.  I work for about 11 hours if it is a day my kids have a practice or activity.  I go home.  I cook, fold laundry, bake something, check on the sheep, check on the greenhouse plants, go to bed. 

On a school break - I take over the animal feeding that my husband took over when he came home.  This means feeding everyone in the morning; when the horses are done with their hay cubes, I tie up the dogs and let the sheep out into the pasture.  Then I work at whatever task it is that I set myself: school breaks are divided between cleaning house, dealing with the greenhouse plant turnover (pulling, transplanting, starting seeds), and working on the garden.  The October break is the most devoted to gardening, at Christmas, I have to do Christmas stuff, at Spring Break, I have to do taxes and financial aid stuff, in the Summer, I do all the clothes sorting - exchanging uniforms, buying new shoes, clothes, letting down hems, replacing buttons, etc.  I also do a lot of paperwork sorting - emptying files of old records, etc. 

It seems like being a mom/teacher/gardener/animal caretaker all have their seasons and routines.  The trick is to plan out each day and each season correctly...something that I don't always do well because I tend to fret and worry over things before it is time to do them.  I need to listen to the rhythm of the days and the plants and the animals. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Triplets Update

Everyone is doing very well.  I had a little nervous moment when I noticed the two littler ones looked a little stiff in the hind legs.  Since we've had an amazing amount of rain over the last six months or so, I think our soil is depleted of various minerals.  Even though I give free choice sheep minerals, I still gave the two little ones a very small amount of Vitamin E/Selenium supplement.  It's for horses, so I don't give very much at all, just mash it up with formula and pop it in their mouths.  Crisis averted - I do learn, I guess - they seem much less stiff today.  

The ram lamb has been banded without incident and although I worried over Makamae (smallest darn lamb I have ever seen - so I named her "precious") not getting her share of milk - sometimes I give the ram lamb a little bit of a bottle and hold him off his mom so Makamae can nurse longer - they are growing and strong.  I tried to let Audrey out with the whole flock yesterday, but Elvis was chasing her and separated her from the lambs.  So I got all the sheep in, except Audrey and the lambs and let her graze alone.  Today, I kept only the rams in and let every one else out.  The lambs kept up and everything seemed to go well. I guess they needed to explore the pasture with Audrey alone to learn the ropes. 

Minnie's orphans are pretty intrigued with the new lambs - it's fun to watch them explore each other.  I am looking forward to lamb races! 

It's pouring off and on, so any gardening going on today will be in the greenhouse.  We do have some seedlings that need transplanting in there - and there is more laundry than I think I have ever seen needing to be done.  When it is rainy like this, even under cover the laundry takes days to dry...a trade off for a lower electric bill. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Nothing Profound to Say

Every evening when I get home from work, I check on the triplets and try to give them a little bit of a supplemental bottle.  Since there are three of them, we're keeping them in with Audrey and feeding her three meals (please remember, dear husband!).  I pick her a good armful of fresh green grass after she eats her concentrates.  Even the teeny tiny ewe lamb is picking up weight and they are all skittering around the sheep pen. 

The weather is still wet - not as wet as Oahu and Kauai this week, but wet enough.  I am hesitant to let them out after the usual three getting-to-know-you days I usually give a ewe and her newborns.  I'd like to wait until at least 5 days - which is tomorrow.  It will depend on the weather, as well.  The worrywart in me goes into overdrive the first week or two after a lambing. And in this batch of triplets, one lamb was normal sized and two were tiny.  I swear, the small ewe lamb only weighed about 2-3 lbs.  I don't have a good scale, so I can't back up the claim, but she felt about half the weight of a normally sized newborn. 

I'll need to transplant some tomato seedlings in the greenhouse this spring break.  I also want to start some new containers of lettuce.  If we do, by some miracle, get a day or two of sun, I'd like to get into the outside garden and turn that all over.  My birthday is coming up, so I have informed my kids that will be their birthday present to me - helping turn over the soil in a big garden.  My older son declares that he would much rather buy me a present; my reply was, "Too bad.  What I want is nice, clean weed-free planting space." 

Unfortunately, I have to head over to Oahu for some medical tests next week, which breaks up the work time.  The fortunate thing is being able to see my daughter and my parents (can't wait to see my dad's container garden on his lanai), but on the other hand, I have a common teacher flaw of saving the really deep cleaning for breaks - and believe me, my house and tack/feed room need attention in a bad way.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lambs and Painting

We painted a fence today - well part of a fence, because it is actually sunny.  Although I blogged a few days ago about a brief appearance of sun, that was down in Keaau - not up here in Gloomwood.  My husband wanted to grab the opportunity, so we used up what white paint we had to paint the rail fence.  There is a hog wire mesh fence behind it, but just so it looks nice, my husband put up a post and rail type fence.  So far we have 9 out of 15 sections painted, but we ran out of paint. 

Probably because I got so much on my hands, face, and hair.  I am so clumsy sometimes.  I know the youngest got a lot of that from me, because she is always dropping things, too.  I think it just may be genetic. 

The lambs are doing well.  I am trying to give them supplemental bottles because there are three of them and only two teats, but they don't like the formula much.  I just can't get milk out of my sheep with their tiny teats - it's like trying to milk with your index finger and thumb.  The two black lambs are so small, they can actually walk right under Audrey - I have never seen lambs that tiny.  They are running around and chasing chickens, so they are pretty strong, but teeny tiny. I feel like I have to go check on them all the time.  We are keeping Audrey in with them for a few days, because the pasture is big and they need to learn to follow her a bit more before they go out.  They have a small grazing patch and room to run around in the sheep pen - we only lock them in the lambing pen/Ram stall (depending on who needs it) at night. 

I hope it stays sunny for several days - not only does it give us a break on our electricity, but it will dry up the pasture a bit so the lambs have an easier time of it when we do let them out with the flock.  Plus, it's just nice to see bright colors instead of the gray which seems to mute the color of the grass, even. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Newest lambs are here.

I came home from work feeling pretty beat - a subject for another post.  I decided the world could do without me for awhile, so I went up to take a short nap.  My husband came up from feeding and told me that Audrey hadn't come in with the other sheep - and that he found her in the pasture with twins - looked like one white and one black (kind of normal distribution around here).  

Well, that got me up off my lazy bones; I called to the young one to help out and we put on our boots and jackets and headed out into the rain.  Sometimes finding a sheep in the pasture isn't so easy, but thankfully she was right on the edge of a patch of trees, clearly visible.  

Only thing was, as I got closer, I could see two black lambs and I wondered how my husband had gotten it so wrong - until I saw the little brown and white baby tucked into a little hollow at a tree root.  Audrey had triplets!  I guess she felt like she had to make up for only having a single baby last August.  No wonder the poor girl was so uncomfortable these last few days - rocking from foot to foot and sighing.  No wonder I couldn't figure out what was going on - I could feel one lamb, must have been the brown and white one and the other side just felt off. 

The little black lambs are fairly small, one ewe and one ram, while the brown and white ewe lamb is more of a normal size.  I feel so fortunate that it is Audrey who had the triplets - she is the best ewe mother I have seen, in my limited experience.  She is able to count, for one - she knows she has three and she checks them constantly.  She has lots of milk, too. 

It was a fairly back breaking chore to get her in from the way back of the pasture - you know how if you lift a lamb above a ewe's head and she can't see it - even if the lamb is bawling its head off?  Yeah, my husband didn't believe it - he said, "Oh just carry them normally, she'll follow."  Yeah, right.  If I straightened up for even a few steps, Audrey started heading back to where she thought she left them at high speed.  Eventually, though, we got them all tucked in - we kicked Elvis out of his ram stall and threw him in with the others in the general milling area and let Audrey and family take up residence.  Buddy and as yet unnamed sister were mighty curious about the new lambs, but they had to satisfy their curiosity through the wire fence. 

 The little lamb with the barest spot of white is a ewe.  She's tiny, but she's pretty insistent about getting her fair share - she'll grow.  The little brown and white one is curious and brave. 
You can see the little bit of flooding that is happening due to our storm last night.  It was a lot worse before my husband used the tractor and a good deal of shovel work to try to carry the water off - just in time!  I got up a few times last night to make sure it wasn't flooding more.  To keep things drier, we need to keep the flooring pure cinder, which means having to use a rake to clean up every day.  Straw or shavings would just hold the damp and mold.  I wish the lambs could have a softer surface, but they seem pretty happy to be with mom for now. We've tried a lot of different flooring ideas over the years with the horses - shavings, straw, sand, and cinder.  Some people use pea gravel here and swear by it.  Dealing with 230+ inches of rain is no joke when you have livestock.  Even with gutters and overhangs, when it rains as constantly as it has in the last few weeks, and as hard as it did last night, there is only so many places for the water to go.  My husband has really improved the area for the animals in the last year.  We used to have half the horse stall and all of the sheep housing 6 inches deep in water when we had this kind of weather. 

We've had so much rain in the last month and last night it was thunder storms on top of the pounding rain.  It's not an ideal climate for either sheep or horses, but this hybrid hair breed (Katahdin/Barbados) are pretty hardy.  In the past year and a half that we've owned these sheep, through 6 lambings, we haven't had to help with even one.  It was the Dorper ewe that had the trouble.  I really liked the Dopers, but they didn't thrive like these hybrids. 

Time to end the marathon post.  I still have one ewe lamb unnamed from December - so now I need help with these three, too.  Any suggestions? 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Think I May Faint

There is actually blue sky and sun out that window!  The sun feels like an old friend whom I haven't seen for quite a long time.  Of course, it's only Thursday; I am sure the sun will go back behind a blanket of thick gray rain clouds by Saturday. 

That's okay, because my youngest has the 3 hour band practice thing on Saturday and it gets awful hot sitting in the car waiting for her after I am done with my errands.  With Spring Break right around the corner, I don't feel as worried about getting the garden done THIS weekend - I anticipate being able to work on it next week. 

I am walking around with a Holter monitor for the next couple of days because about a month ago my heart was skipping beats.  It's a little embarrassing, because I am not having the problem anymore and it is also a little uncomfortable because one of the leads is rubbing a bit.  I am a bit impatient with the whole thing, I must admit.  It makes me feel feeble. 

Audrey is still quite rotund and nearly rolling rather than walking.  It makes me so glad I am not pregnant.  I just feel for her.  What I don't get is when I go out at about 8 - 8:30 to check on her and everyone is lying down and there she is - standing, rocking from foot to foot to relieve what must be her aching hooves (teaching while pregnant means a lot of standing - I empathize with Audrey).  I wonder why she is not reclining and taking a load off?