Sunday, August 10, 2014

Future Hoop Garden, Jerky and the Ebola Virus

Store bought coop, inside a dog kennel, fenced  in with T-posts.
We started with a wooden store-bought chicken coop left on the property by the owners. Knowing that it wouldn't be big enough for five birds, I placed it inside of a large (4' x 10' x 5')  Lucky Dog Kennel.  After our pup Lucky almost killed four of them, I added an additional perimeter using T-posts and donated fencing.

"The Girls" are doing such a terrific job eating all the weeds and fertilizing the ground that I decided it was time to expand their living quarters. I spent a few hours today setting up a large area for a future set of His and Hers hoop gardens. Once the girls are done clearing the land and fertilizing, I'll start building the hoops.

Old coop is in far view, grassy area is all the new area.
Using free fencing from a friend and 15 t-posts, I walked out a 10 x 15 foot area and went to work. I used left over electric fence wire, cut into six inch sections, to tie the fence to the posts. I had enough fencing to cover the whole area with a little left over.

I recently acquired five more chicks and they have lived out the first three months in our laundry room. I kept them in a portable dog kennel (actually, a cardboard box WITHIN a dog kennel) and changed the cardboard frequently. Once they were a few months old, I carried the kennel outside and placed it into the chicken coop. I figured this gave the older gals a chance to meet the new gals without any chance of harm. After a week or so outside, I let them out of the cage and watched the show. Lots of bumping and shoving with minimal pecking. Then I removed the small dog kennel from the chicken coop and brought it back inside.

Found these in the backyard today. Anybody know what they are?
This worked so well to transition new chicks into the group that I think I'll start using this method to bring in more chicks. Since we've been using the eggs for homemade noodle soup AND scrambled eggs for breakfast, we still don't quite get enough for daily use. Of the original five, only four are layers and SOMEBODY doesn't lay every day. Out of four chickens, we usually get three eggs a day. Rarely do we get four but it does happen. I'm told this is fairly normal. Remember, this is the farthest we've gotten with chickens. Before our move North, our German Shepard killed all five of our chickens before they could lay.

Dehydrator: gutted, cleaned and working like new.
Anyway, I got a lot more done today: took apart our jerky dehydrator and cleaned it out to make a fresh batch of jerky. I took pictures for a future post on how to clean it out; I made my usual noodles that go in my homemade noodle soup but cut them larger and am experimenting with making lasagna noodles. Wifey will be baking my first ever completely homemade lasagna tomorrow. I took "how to" pictures of that too.

Lastly, a good friend of mine visited us tonight who works closely with the CDC. He is some type of scientist/pathologist/microbiologist guy who was a good contact for discussing the ebola virus. I pumped him for any news of the development or spread of the ebola virus and he confirmed that his big-wig boss had been in contact with the CDC regarding the ebola outbreak AND they had several departmental meetings about it. I can tell you more about that in another post but can tell you he's is NOT at a high level of alert...yet. We will be discussing the potential need for setting a community meeting with like-minded individuals to discuss the "what if's" and how to prepare for an ebola outbreak.

Take Care,


Monday, July 21, 2014

Gone Fishing...

Comfy camp chairs and Sarsparilla. Good times!
Our church had an activity day right up my alley: Father/Daughter Fishing Day! It was a nice Friday afternoon and as soon as I got off work, I sped home and picked up Boo for some fun and relaxation at our local fishing pond.

I had just picked up a couple of closed-face reels (and rods) right before Boo got sick. I found several packages of fishing lures on Amazon at a great price:

Plano Tackle Box Rack System $32

Stren Hi-Vis Gold Line (easy to see over the water) $6.99

Pack of 30 Spinner Baits and Spoon Lures $11.09

Pack of 16 Crankbait Fishing Lures $25

Zebco Spincast Fishing Combo with TacklePak  $17.96

Gotta love a girl that's not afraid of worms!
Add in some assorted weights, hooks and swivels and we were ready to go! We picked up our favorite bottles of Sarsparilla Rootbeer and headed to the pond. There were several other folks there fishing so our chances of catches anything dwindled.

Boo got to play with some worms and learned quickly how to pull moss off of her hooks. We had practiced for several days in the front yard on how to cast effectively. She practiced three nights in a row. I have much better luck with closed-face reels than open-face reels. The backlash is reduced to near nothing with a closed reel.

Love that smile~!
We took a break and cooked hamburgers and hotdogs with some friends. Add in some Doritos and a cold drink and all was right in the universe. At the end of the day, we didn't catch any fish...but neither did anyone else at the pond.

We still had a terrific time and I most certainly enjoyed my time with Boo. Watching her suffer the last three weeks in and out of the hospital makes me appreciate the good times all the more. We can't wait to go again and maybe...just maybe...catch some fish next time!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Whittling Birdies with Boo Like Mere Mortals

Starting with a simple block of wood
After a ruptured appendix and two return trips to the Emergency Room with Boo, I think we finally have her on the right track to wellness. The last visit netted us stronger pain medication to help her through the rough spots of this HSP (Henoch-Schonlein Purpura.)

So today we decided to whittle a couple of little birds and add them to a bird house that she had already build at a Home Depot workshop for kids. She has never whittled before and I took great pleasure in teaching her the basics.

After whittling it down, she sanded the bird smooth.
Boo got to learn some basics on my Corner Cat Finish Sander by Ryobi. So we can mark whittling AND sanding off our learning list. Hooray! To start her on her "knife classes" as she calls them, I found a YouTube video that explained all the parts of the knife and went over them with her until she could name every part. We covered knife care and safety. Next we'll cover "proper sharpening", as WranglerStar would call it.

All sanded down and ready for color.
First, we started by finding a basic starter whittling project on YouTube. One of my favorite woodworkers on YT is Steve Ramsey and he has a large array of DIY woodworking projects on his channel Woodworking for Mere Mortals. The project we settled on was titled "Whittling a Bird out of a Creative Block."

We found a couple of blocks of random 2x4s in the front yard and drew out a template of a bird. We whittled down the wood as close to the drawing as possible. She was excited to use her new pocket knife I bought her from Amazon. It is hunter orange with pink inlay and has a recessed image of an elk head in the handle. It stays on my night stand and comes out to play for special occasions.

Daddy and Daughter pocket knives
After whittling down to size and sanding it smooth, she took to painting the bird with a pretty blue color. I drilled small holes in the belly and used two small nails for legs. I gently pounded them into the body and clipped off the heads of the nails so that the opposite end will fit into holes on the bird house.

We made two birds and the whole project took us about three hours. It was a terrific way to spend a Saturday afternoon and Boo is enjoying showing them to everyone. This was a fun little craft project for anyone looking for something to do on a lazy summer day.

Adding the paint


Now, let's hope we can get back to having fun on a routine basis and get passed all this horse-hockey nonsense we've been going through for the last 14 months!


Friday, July 18, 2014

ER Repeat Visit... Again for HSP and Pain

Another round of severe abdominal pain has sent Boo back to the ER.  Luckily (finally),  we were sent home with something stronger than Tylenol.  This time we got Tylenol with Codeine.

She's been home 24 hours and everything is fine so far. The prescription is only good for 4 days so we'll see if we need a refill or not next week.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Readmitted to Hospital with HSP

After ten days in the hospital,  we were finally discharged.  All the signs and symptoms of the ruptured appendix are gone except for the three little incisions on her belly.  But family time at home would only last for two days.

Boo woke up this morning with severe abdominal pain and her right eyelid extremely swollen.  Her abdominal pain seemed worse than ever before.  Unbelievably the pediatrician's office was open for business.  After a quick phone call,  we hurried Boo to the office.

The majority of clinicians are now in agreement that Boo now suffers from HSP (Henoch-Schonlein Purpura.) WebMD has a spot-on definition for what Boo has but I can't link to it for you as I am attempting to post this from my cell phone.  This is a reaction in her body that leads to skin rash,  joint pain and severe abdominal cramping.  In very rare cases,  it can include unilateral eyelid swelling.  Medicine can't say exactly what triggers the onset but they agree there is no cure.  It plays out over 4-6 weeks and will eventually resolve on it's own.

Until then,  it's all about pain management.  For now,  she's readmitted to the exact same room we had for ten days on the pediatric unit and rotating Morphine and Toradol.  She received Morphine in the ER (Pediatrician wanted to direct admit to hospital,  I negotiated stopping through ER for quicker pain relief. )

But in an attempt to stay off the harder drugs,  we're trying Toradol every 6 hours first.  The Morphine worked fast (through IV)  but only worked for about 75 minutes before she was shaking in pain.  The Toradol (intravenous) worked just as fast and seems to be lasting much longer.  She's started to whimper now (in her sleep)  and we're at the five hour mark. Time for her next dose of Toradol. I'm also told that the Toradol has an anti-inflammatory effect which will help too.

We're told we should only be here for 24 hours as long as she stays compliant with eating,  drinking and walking. She becomes non-compliant with extreme pain (and I don't blame her.)

Her feet still hurt when she walks to the bathroom but we'll see what tomorrow brings. It's almost 11pm and she dozing off again.