Thursday, August 30, 2012

Faeries in the Garden

We found these hidden under the perimeter weeds in the garden.
Do you suspect that the faeries use them for furniture while we're not watching?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Red Sky at Night

Katie snapped this beautiful picture of our dramatic sunset.
The weather is still hot and muggy, but oh-so-much more comfortable than the heat wave of mid-summer.
Now although the days are hot, evening brings cooler temperatures and the chirping of crickets, locusts, and frogs of all varieties.
We haven't had an actual crispness to the air yet. I think everyone, human and animal, is waiting with bated breath for that night to arrive!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Extreme Silliness

We learned on the way home from buying knock-off brand gummy worms from Kroger, that Laura has a unique talent for crossing one eye while making a bizarre giggling sound with a worm hanging from her teeth. Quite frightening to see in my rear view mirror. Katie, being the quick study that she is, learned the technique: except for the one crossed eye. We can't all share Laura's gift. I entitled this "Extreme Silliness" because since Devin's been living in town, nothing has been extreme here. When Devin is playing with us, the mundane becomes extreme. We play "extreme bike riding," "extreme kick-the-can," "extreme ninja goalie." I miss having a boy around!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Laminitis Saga

Tonight I sit at the computer, the savory smell of au gratin potatoes and ham wafting toward me. I can see from my vantage point Becky, riding the mare bareback in the luxuriant green field. All is right with the world. But it wasn't always this way. In April I noticed that Libby was lame in her back leg. I waited a few days but then called the vet. The next day I was extremely worried because she was now limping on all four feet! The vet came the day after that and immediately suspected founder, or laminitis. Libby went into the shed and onto a bland and skimpy diet of hay with a handful of minerals each day. I found on Dr. Google that grass founder happens when the hind gut doesn't digest carbs well, hence the inflammation in the hoof- think of gout in a human- so I added a probiotic and enzyme supplement. Things looked up. Soon after she was penned up, Libby felt better again with no more heat or heartbeat in her hooves. The farrier came. He trimmed her very short to help relieve pressure in her hooves, even though at that point she was feeling perfectly fine. After the trim she wasn't fine anymore. She was in excrutiating pain for exactly eight days. I had her on pain medicine and was massaging her to help with the stress. During that time we got the results of the radiographs (the first ones didn't develop correctly and we assumed they would show little to no damage anyway, as Libby had healed so quickly.) But the x-rays showed terrible damage to one front hoof and moderate damage to the other. So bad, in fact, that between the pain and the knowledge of what had happened in the bone of her hoof, I was close to putting her down. Then on the eighth day after her trim, she felt perfectly fine again. We decided to try one round of corrective shoeing and see what happened. It was a hard decision because there was a good chance the shoes would hurt at first, there was no guarantee that she would be sound ever again, even with the shoes, and they were expensive. She loved the shoes and pads from the moment she got them. No more lameness whatsoever. Lots of galloping and jumping though. (Not with us on her, but still a good sign to see her want to use those hooves.) And instead of being banned from the pleasure of grazing for ever and ever, which is what we expected her fate to be, she grazes all day and goes into the pen with her porky pony friends overnight. I haven't been able to afford to have the vet come back. Libby threw a shoe a few weeks into wearing them, didn't seem to mind, and proceeded to throw two more. In the meantime, we rode the poor creature. She loved it. She wanted to go faster, but we held her back. The icing on the cake for Libby's recovery was when our young friend came to trim all the equines today. She's an apprentice farrier so she was affordable, and the horses loved her. She liked the look of Libby's bare feet and agreed that since she isn't lame, we should feel free to ride and enjoy her. Looking back I wish that I had not had the x-rays taken, and had had my own farrier trim her instead of the founder specialist farrier. But what's done is done, and my plan for our future is to keep an eye on Libby's weight and ride her as much as we can without causing lameness. I pretend that the x-rays are somehow wrong, since it's hard to believe that such a sound and fit mare has a fatal flaw inside her front hooves.

Portrait of Mr. B

Here's Mr. B in the field this evening. I snapped it quickly as I scanned the field for Becky on Libby. I was shocked at how much I liked it. So you have to look at it.

Broody Hen

I had a surprise out at the overgrown fence line this evening. As I made my way toward the secret spot in the scary weeds where the ladies have all been laying their eggs, I saw this mean old hen, very well hidden. "Friend" is her name. We call her an Amish hen because we bought her as a pullet years ago from the Amish family down the road. The family who would entitle my brother's blog, "Big and Strong Suburbanite Dad." Friend and the other Auracana bantam mixes have gone broody consistently through the years, and it looks like more chicks will arrive on Providence Farm in September.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reading is Fundamental

Katie didn't used to like reading, but this year has been the turning point for her. Our latest read-aloud was Nancy Drew, The Secret of Shadow Ranch. It was so much fun to feel her little kid head, smelling that summer smell of sweat, resting on my shoulder as I read, having her beg for one more chapter, since as you probably know, Nancy always ends a chapter in a cliff-hanger. The western ranch theme of the book inspired tonight's dinner: cowboy casserole. Beef, beans, onions, peppers, and salsa covered with cornbread. What a joy it is to be able to share books from my childhood with my daughters!

High Bridge Hiking

Since I can't cross a mile long, very high bridge, I left it up to Dan to take the girls on a three mile hike in Farmville. Here are photos by Laura. They've been asking to take their bikes next time. That will probably have to be when Dan is in town again, because these pictures aren't tempting me to try the hike with them.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Neighborhood House Fire

Bruno, my favorite Pit Bull, is living with us after having been displaced by a house fire. Tuesday night our neighbor was home alone when her house caught on fire and burnt to the ground. Laura happened to be feeding the dogs, heard her screams for help, and called 911. Every engine from three communities responded. I had been deciding whether to post about it, and decided to do it for a few reasons. Maybe you'll be more fire safety-conscious after seeing this, you may check on your insurance information to be sure you're covered properly, and hopefully you'll appreciate the every day blessings of life without a big fire to interrupt it. We had been playing happily with Devin on Monday, not a care in the world, admiring his new Nikes. Now, we're all in shock at what Tuesday night's fire has done to our tranquil lives. All the humans were fine. One beloved dog was killed. Every material possession was lost. Insurance will replace the house. People have already clothed the family. It was unspeakably terrifying.

Back to School

Monday was an exciting day as UPS pulled up to the door. 14 boxes of school have arrived! Becky's a Junior, Laura's a Freshman, and Baby Katie's going into 6th grade. So far the subjects are better than ever. Soccer starts this week. Life is back in full swing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

To Trap or Not To Trap

I have mice in my kitchen. I know I must kill them so they don't make more mice, and more mice, and more mice, until we're overrun by them. But I cannot. I've bought traps. Heck, I've even opened the package of traps and read directions for securing the lethal rodent guillotine. But then I think of this happy little fellow, going about his business, which apparently consists simply of pooping in my oven and having a large family, and I think how sad it would be if his multitude of children lost their provider. Then I put the traps away. Laura took this guy way out into the woods after we used him to entertain us by scaring the cat. (No mice were harmed in the cat torturing session.) Maybe Danny will set traps and empty them when he gets home.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Teenagers, Trees, and Jello

Here are the turkey vegetable meatloaf cups and sides that my daughters made for dinner last night. They also made chocolate chip cookies, which may have been a more persuasive photo to go with this story: I saw a post on facebook the other day that said, "Raising teenagers is like nailing jello to a tree." Immediately, I defended teens by saying that these are the good years when everything parents had been teaching finally started to stick. As usual, this was followed by other moms posting fatalistic remarks about the teen years. My teens share my facebook page, and they brought up that post in conversation later. Both daughters said that when they saw what our friend posted, they quickly searched to see what I had said. (I felt proud that they suspected me of speaking up on behalf of their age group.) Then Becky said that if she'd had an account, she'd have told them that their low expectations and statements like this were one of the reasons they weren't getting the results they wanted. It was rewarding to hear from the horse's mouth that our high expectations and trust in our teens do help them thrive. But the most rewarding aspect of our parenting is the turkey vegetable meatloaf cups and delicious homemade cookies!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Road Kill Tuesday

Tonight I learned exactly what is meant by the saying, "I jumped out of my skin!" I hadn't understood the full unpleasantness of this phrase until I experienced it first hand. Apparently the girls and neighbor boy found a dead racer snake on their jog today and laid it on my kitchen counter, all the better to google it. Since I'm not the type of homeschool mom who can truthfully participate in "Menu Mondays" and "Submissive to my Husband Wednesdays," I figured I'd start a new trend in Christian homeschool circles with my classy photo.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

Forget Chicken Tractors. Chicken Bikes!

I went outside and saw these girls biking up the driveway, coming home from having taken their chickens for a ride to the mailbox. The chickens like it! Becky went out and got on her bike, and the hens gathered around obviously begging for a bike ride. My camera battery couldn't make it to get that image for you, but trust me, it's hilarious to see chickens who want to ride bikes.