Alcoholism, Animals, Healing, Herbs, Homesteading, Nature, Writing

Odds and Ends…and Apologies

First, the apology. For being “absent” for the last two days and sporadically posting this past week in general. A recent resignation by our Titles’ Clerk at the dealership, just days before our supervisor’s week-long vacation, has provided some much-needed extra hours (and pay!) to keep things running, well, maybe not “smoothly” but certainly running…period. And I am happy to pitch in and help. But it’s certainly thrown a curve ball into my daily routine. I’ve even fallen off of the wagon, so to speak, with my 3:30 a.m. rising time; the longer days requiring some extra ZZZ’s to stay on top of things. However, this morning I awakened at exactly 3:44 a.m., which isn’t bad considering I forgot to set my alarm last night, so maybe this is a sign we’re getting back in the groove again–a good groove. My apologies for allowing myself to fall out of that groove in the first place. While this is a free blog, there is an old saying that “paying customers deserve prompt and regular service”; my regular readers deserve regular posts to keep reading.

Anywho, now that I’m back–albeit, my work schedule is still fuller than usual for the rest of this week–some updates on the homestead.

I hate making these reports. I lost one of my Plymouth Barred-Rock chickens Saturday evening. My Patience started looking “off” a few days’ before, back roached, stomach distended. One of my other chickens started pecking at her–not brutally, more like a nudge to say, “Hey, are you okay?” but I decided to bring her indoors, lest, some of the more aggressive birds decide to have a real go at her. After checking to be certain she wasn’t egg bound, I heated some olive oil in a sauce pan, added a tablespoon of minced garlic, and let it simmer for a while. After it cooled, I filled an eyedropper and gave it to her. Garlic is a fine antibiotic as well as being good for expelling worms, and chickens fairly love it. I added a bit more of the dried, minced garlic to her feed, along with some fennel (good for digestion) and dried parsley, which is also good for worms. Parsley has the added benefit of being good for constipation and obstructions of the intestinal tract (De Bairacli Levy 118-119). She balked at these treatments at first but, over time, I would say she at least resigned herself to them. I even gave her an olive oil enema because she was not passing her waste but it was to no avail. I found her when I came home from work Saturday night. Patience was one of my older hens but, losing beloved pets, is something you never quite get “used to”. Albeit, I have noticed a certain thicker skin happening where my chickens are concerned. Despite a healthy, varied diet, plenty of room to stretch their legs, dust baths, and good, clean housing, they tend to go down rather quickly and, sometimes, unexpectedly. They can be quite stoic, not displaying any symptoms of illness or even injury until those final moments. They are also pretty high on the food chain and predation can also be a problem. However, I never considered, when I first took up homesteading, how many times I would also adopt the role of “gravedigger”. I know that nobody–human or humane–lives forever but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier–and I hope it never does become “easy”; that’s when I quit.

Today would have been my paternal grandfather’s birthday. He would have been 111 years old so not likely I would still have him in my life even if alcoholism hadn’t ended his time here on earth at only 68 years’ old, but I always mark this day as special, remembering him and the legacy he left behind. Calef Burbank (and that’s pronounced with a long A: KAY-lef) wrote for the Providence Journal for 40 years as an investigative reporter. He was even nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his writing. Some of my earliest memories of him are watching him bang away at the old manual typewriter and emulating him. I loved that old typewriter and, though I prefer the speed at which my fingers can fly over this modern PC keyboard–a speed that can keep pace better with my thoughts–there will always be a nostalgic love for the manuals. In addition to his writing, he was a gifted pianist, guitarist, taught me to play chess at the tender age of 3, enjoyed learning, bird watching, and ginger snap cookies. I can say “ditto for me” with the exception of piano playing. He tried teaching me as a little girl but I was too impatient, preferring to bang away with wild abandon and a lot of discord; he finally gave up on me. Today, I wish I’d absorbed those teachings as readily as I did the chessboard.

Lastly, I spent an hour yesterday morning building four more raised beds for the herb garden. I am hoping this wonderful Indian summer lasts long enough to build a few more before the cold creeps back in. With a little luck–and a lot of hard work–next summer may be the first of many physical “weed” walks. Keep your fingers crossed!

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

De Bairacli Levy, Juliette. The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Farm and Stable, Fourth Edition. Faber and Faber, New York: 1991.

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