Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Just when I start worrying, it rains.  Nice how that happens - looks like only a couple of days before we have those "light and variable" which really means - from the south, voggy and dry for us. 

Hopefully, this little bit of rain will fill up our tanks, flush the livestock water clean, and just generally help things grow (and toilets flush).

I generally like being on catchment.  Usually, there is enough (and sometimes too much) rain for our tanks, and the sunny days just help our photovoltaic and solar water heating systems help - it's a win-win - when it's raining, you think, "Yay! Water in our tanks!" and when it is sunny, you think, "Yay! My electric bill is going down!"  It would be perfect if it rained at night and was sunny in the day.

The worst times are those "Kona Wind" days (which doesn't come from Kona for us, actually): South winds, vog piling up and imitating rain-less clouds: no sun for solar and no rain for tanks.  Plus all that nasty volcanic gas. 

I guess everywhere has its ups and downs. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sheep Popping Up All Over - And Stress, Stess is Popping Up All Over, Too.

I definitely need to sell some sheep.  I have a lot of ewes looking round and bagged up and it's just time.  I hope that this time the craigslist listing will work.  I want to sell 10 sheep - all the boys and half the girls.

We're in the middle of our yearly January drought, and I am starting to get a little worried at the state of our tanks.  We're down as far as the pipe goes on the one tank and 3/4 full on the second tank.  I asked the kids to shower at school, since they don't really get the idea of "short" - they are taking shorter showers, but not stop and go showers, which is what you need to do.  Get wet, turn off the water to soap up, turn on the water for a quick rinse and done.  Not fun in the cold(er) winter weather, that's for sure. I don't think it is going to be as bad as the 1998 drought, which lasted 4 long months, a

It's all during my not-so-favorite-time-of-the-year:  taxes and scholarship time.  I hate paperwork, I dislike doing taxes - and scholarships are even worse.  Two FAFSA, two College Board CSS applications, all the documentation, and the high school financial aid application.  I appreciate all the help that the generous Ke Alii Pauahi fund gives to my kids, but the paperwork is stressful.  Plus, I do our taxes and my two college kids' taxes, too.  For an English major it is all very difficult.  At least this English major.

I had this strange dream which was long and convoluted - but the upshot of it was that I couldn't get on a plane because I was buried in receipts and couldn't find anything I actually needed to get on the plane with - and I knew I had left a kitten on the plane which would die if I didn't give it food and water.  I had neglected to do so at the last lay-over, so I was feeling incredibly down because I had left an obligation undone which would hurt a kitten (I know, right, so heartbreaking!)  Everyone who was traveling with me left me behind because they had their documentation in order.  I woke up feeling very incompetent, very stressed, and slightly relieved that I am not that bad - I mean, I am not killing kittens due to my negligence, and I can certainly find my driver's license in my purse and could, in fact, get on a plane, if necessary. 

It still doesn't make me feel better, though.  I just have to guts through this stuff - and I have to guts through my National Board.  I am starting to get a little panicky, because I am having the darnedest time getting the video taping done - nothing has been usable until today - and the video tapes need to be from different time periods and different units, and time is running short.  By unusable I mean you can't hear clearly - I had the camera too far back for the small group work and it was picking up EVERYONE, which means you can't hear anyone.

Oh well, like all the other stressful times in my life - I am sure I will get through this.  I am probably cutting years off my life, but I WILL get through it.

Thanks for listening.  Anyone want to buy some sheep? 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What is it About January?

Is it the arrival of the seed catalogs?  It is the end of Christmas and the turn of a new year?  I always start dreaming big in January.

I found my last year's January notebook with lists of seeds and prices and garden plot sketches and big plans.  None of them really came true.  I guess it's my version of resolutions (although I did lose weight!).  I guess I am no more successful than many at keeping those resolutions.  The fact is, when school is in session (which is going to include the bulk of the summer this year),  I am gone 12-13 hours a day and keeping up with things at home is difficult.  Track is fast approaching, and that means a couple of months of Saturdays gone.  My son said repeatedly he didn't mind if we didn't come watch - so I took him up on it, just coming back for his last race - but he was obviously upset later when he admitted it.  So my husband bought up stadium chairs and a huge umbrella for the 8 hour+ track meets so we can sit there without killing our ʻōkole and getting sunburned/wet.  Track is a bunch of waiting for a few seconds of exciting.

Speaking of hurrying up and waiting for runners - my son ran as part of a three member relay team on Saturday.  They collectively ran 31+ miles from sea level to nearly 4000 feet in elevation.  Each member ran 5 two and a bit mile sections.  Someone has to drive and park every two miles to drop off the next runner and pick up the one who is just finishing.  The race went near our house, so I ran out to the road to watch for my kid.  I went out an hour early, because I misread the clock, but I cheered on the front runners for the ultramarathon (some crazy people ran the whole 31+ miles alone).  It was exciting, and I almost wished I could be part of a team.  I found myself telling my daughter, "You and your sister and I should be a team next year?  Wouldn't that be fun?"  As clear as a thought bubble, I saw, "Umm, no..." in her eyes. 

We are getting closer to having a bigger, newly stocked chicken area.  I am thinking Barred Rocks this time...not real happy with the Aracauna hens.  Does anyone have Barred Rocks?  I am looking for a fairly prolific layer that can also double as a meat bird.  We have a few Buff Orpingtons, which I have always liked, but I want to try something different this time.

The two dogs are adjusting to the loss of our alpha dog, and it's been interesting to watch.  They jockeyed some for alpha position, had to be scolded for misbehavior that had been stopped (chasing sheep, snapping at hens), and the little one who was always focused on the other dogs is now focusing more on the humans - a good thing.  Both of them learned new tricks this week (simple ones, like sit up and lay down) because of the new human focus.  I miss Balto, but the other dogs have been a focus which helps. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Lambs

Apparently, there are two new lambs on the farm.  I haven't been home to see them.

Just this morning, I was speculating whether the ewe could have dropped her lambs in the pasture without us knowing - she was still quite large, but she was bulging with milk - like it comes when they've already lambed.  The dogs were running around out there (and were called in and corrected immediately! Dogs are NOT allowed in pasture areas!) a couple of nights ago.  When I got to work, however, my husband called and said, "Allie had two little lambs; they are black and white."

That's all the information I get until I get home and turn them over to look for gender and to iodine up their umbilical cords.  I'll let you know.

One less thing on my mind, no more going out at night with flashlights.  I know you in the Polar Vortex will laugh at me, but it's darned cold for Hawaii up at my house!

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year

Yes, I know New Year's Day was last week...but today is my first day back to work in 2014.  There aren't any kids, but I am slogging along getting ready for them.  

Challenges to today included a power outage right in the middle of coffee brewing and a broken fridge.  The fridge broke a few days ago, necessitating the disposal of far too much food, jamming what we could save into ice packed coolers and the "farm/overflow fridge."  This complicated the getting ready in the pitch black early morning with no power thing.  I gave up and bought coffee at 7-11 and picked up a manapua for brunch.  I still missed my morning workout - I have decided I want to get back into breaking my workout into two parts on the days I don't drive my niece to school.  I am waiting to restart the 4:30 am workout at home until there is at least a possibility of light happening before we leave for work. In other words, 5:00 am is early enough on these darker winter mornings. 

The fridge breaking also meant delaying my long-procrastinated task of marking admissions papers.  I am now done with that and ready to finish getting ready for tomorrow and Wednesday's classes.  I have a good idea of the flow I want for the quarter, so it's just a matter of laying out the lessons and the days now that we have the special practice schedule up and running.  3rd quarter is devoted to the whole school Hoʻike - which means days and days of shortened classes for practice.  In the end, it is worth it, but I tell you, it feels like a major scramble for class time. 

I think I am on my last bag of layer pellet - no eggs for weeks means when this bag is done, the hens are due for freezer camp.  I wish I had timed this better.  I need to buy new chicks - I needed to buy new chicks 5 months ago - except the new, improved and expanded chicken coop is not yet built. 

I just have to get through National Boards this semester and then I can concentrate more on the homefront. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Saying Goodbye, Saying No

We had to let our Balto go on Monday.  He'd been slowing down and having difficulty moving, but we just worked with it - taking him out to the grass, carrying him back on the deck, cleaning him up when needed - but Sunday night he went downhill fast.  We had tremendous thunderstorms and lightning all night, and I couldn't even move him to the garage.  My husband stayed with him from midnight to 3 am, and then I went down until morning.  We called the vet as soon as they opened and tried to keep him comfortable until his 2 pm appointment. 

I texted our older son as we were driving down, in case he wanted to come to say good-bye - he lives not far from the vet's office.  He did come; it was very sad.  Our poor dog was never sick a day in his life, so he wasn't used to the vet; he was scared.  We stayed with him - I stayed while they put the catheter in and my husband and stepdad stayed until the end.

And this is where I get to express my immense appreciation for my husband.  He isn't sentimental about animals, but he sat for hours with Balto in the night - offering food (eventually he refused the food - and this dog never refused anything resembling food) and water - he helped me clean him up and make him comfortable in the morning.  This dog had dense fur which needed to be cleaned often once he became basically incontinent.  He stayed with the dog in his final moments and brought him home and buried him.  He put a cross (frankly, left over from a grave marker my kids made when this very dog killed one of a stream of steay cats - let us not speak ill of the dead, but this dog was deadly to stray cats, the occasional sheep, and two whole flocks of chickens - although I finally broke him off that habit) on the grave, picked a rose from our garden and placed it on the grave.  He did all of this in the rain.  I am so used to having to handle all these types of things, and this time I just couldn't, and my husband did.  I was so entirely grateful. 

At the same time, my family was here visiting for a couple of days.  Kind of a sad thing that this took up most of one of the two days my family was visiting.  I dropped them off at the airport yesterday, and then we rushed to our friend's for a BBQ.  While we were there, I heard a kid goat yelling in the pasture above their place.  It turned up on their lanai early this morning (more thunderstorms), and my friend called this morning asking if we'd take it.  I guess I have finally learned to ask my husband before saying "Yes" to animals.  After all, he's the one who would have to bottle it and take care of it for the next two months as I am gone 12-13 hours a day.  We said no - but it's so cute, and I want goats!!!  But it's very unfair of me to say that when I don't have to bottle it several times a day and deal with it if it jumps our sheep-not-goat-proof fences if it got bigger - we've never had a lot of luck with bottle kids.  It would be sad to lose another animal so soon.  I know people do it successfully, but we've never been able to.