Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Genes Will Out.... Brickscuit Edition

I grew up in a mixed family. I don't mean racially or even religiously, mind. No, the conflict was about biscuits.

See, Sugar had only one use for canned biscuits (she called 'em whop-biscuits for the sound the can made) and that was monkey bread, because it didn't matter what kind of dough you used. 

She was adamant, biscuits should be homemade. 

The problem was, Farmmom couldn't make biscuits. She was perfectly willing to learn to make biscuits it just never seemed to work. Sugar handed over her awesome biscuit mix (recipe here, seriously try it) over and over again but they just never came out right.

And by not coming out right I mean we used them for batting practice, and to play fetch with the dogs..

"You're kneading them too long, you want to knead them just long enough to get the dough to hold together." Sugar told Farmmom. Farmmom tried again, and again they came out hard. So Sugar, convinced that short of baker error her biscuits were no-fail, made up a batch and counted strokes with the spoon, as well as how many strokes to knead the dough, and wrote the recipe out for Farmmom that way.

And they still came out hard as rocks.

The next time Farmmom tried, Sugar was standing over her shoulder confirming that she was doing everything right, walking her through it step by step. They slid the biscuits into the oven and Sugar was sort of smug and triumphant, because she knew they'd come out this time.

Except they didn't. Brickscuits again.

Sugar finally gave up on teaching mom to make biscuits, and we became a whop-biscuit household. 

By the time I was big enough to make biscuits Sugar had pretty well stopped. Her arthritis made it hurt to knead the dough. Not that she used whop-biscuits, mind, she just didn't have biscuits at home anymore. So I had never tried to make biscuits until the other night.

See, Farmmom and I had been putting together some holiday goody boxes for our renters, and we were including some cactus jelly, so I thought some biscuit mix would be a nice addition, and whipped some up. Had some extra, so I figured I'd give it a shot, and finally find out whether mom's Brickscuit genes won or not.

The verdict is that Sugar's genes beat out Farmmom's, and I'm now on biscuit duty. 

(For the record, the difference in the biscuits pictured is actually two different ways to do em. The big ones are made according to sugar's instructions, buttering half the dough and folding the dough over creating a two layered biscuit. The smaller ones are single layer, which is how most people do biscuits. In the future I'll roll the dough out a little thinner for the two layer version. Nothing wrong with em, they're just big honkin biscuits that way.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Green Chili ala Poppa Dick

It's been cold.... and I mean COLD for the last week.  Yesterday I made a pot of Poppa Dicks green chili. This recipe works well with any meat from pork to venison.  I used some venison that our renters gave us. Farmdad was bragging and someone asked for the recipe so here we go.

Poppa Dicks Green Chili

1-2 lbs of cubed meat
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 large can of green chilies
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cumin
2 diced jalapenos ( according to taste)
salt & pepper

Brown the meat, celery and onion in stock pot.  Don't cook it done just brown it a bit.  Then add the tomatoes, green chilies, jalapenos and spices.  Add water to cover everything.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat sown to just a simmer and let it cook for several hours.  The longer it cooks the better it is.  Add water as needed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hunter Safety

So, I finally got my hunter safety certificate this weekend.

I know what you're thinking, and the reason I've never gotten it before now was mostly that I had other people to do the hunting for me, since my main goal is getting something tasty to bring home and eat, rather than the thrill of the hunt.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the rush of getting a big buck, or successfully stalking an antelope. I get that it trips people's trigger and that's awesome. But that's not me.

I'm not against stalking an antelope even though I may never do it... but my reason would be more along the lines of "but the deer is standing there looking at me like I might have a snack for it while the antelope saw me blink and he's over the horizon."

I'm willing to put the effort in for the good meat, but good deer and good antelope are pretty interchangeable to me flavor wise, but the effort to get them is vastly different. Especially since in my opinion if an antelope isn't pretty calm to start with and dropped in its tracks it's bad antelope, not good.

So, mostly, when I got a craving for game I'd tell FarmDad or Darlin Man "Go shoot some x and I'll cook it" or just "Go shoot some rabbits and we'll throw em in the freezer" because I love rabbit.

But, this weekend there happened to be a class and it happened to be free and also happened to be conducted by the most entertaining and personable game warden we've had in these parts for ages, so I figured it would be less boring than it could be and figured I'd go ahead and get it done.

Did, didn't learn a whole lot I didn't already know via osmosis, but it was entertaining. We had several kids in the class and the game warden (quite correctly) built his teaching around them, not the adults (of which there were also several,) and got really interactive with them which was fun.

Got a hundred on the written test and got handed my card since I have my concealed carry and thus am assumed to have safe firearms handling skills which are part of the whole thing here in Colorado, but I went out to watch the live fire anyway because I enjoy watching the kids get to shoot.

All in all there are worse ways I could have spent that time, and now I can get my own danged small game license and get my own danged rabbits... though I did discover via our game identification/habitat handbook that we are viable habitat for spotted skunks. I don't think I've ever seen one, but I totally want a pelt.

Also, in-state mountain lion and bear licenses have plummeted, cost wise. On the bears that's mostly because the bait-is-bad contingent got baiting for bears outlawed. I can understand the part where drawing them in from miles away isn't sporting, but I also understand first hand the consequences of the resultant population boom (they got rid of the spring bear season at the same time, IIRC.)

Over a hundred bears have been euthanized just so far this year, just in Colorado Springs, according to the game warden. Just in Colorado Springs. The population pressure without the control and higher likelihood of a successful cull that we had with the spring hunt and the bait has resulted in less food to go around and more bears coming into contact with humans.

Which is why I never reported the monster black bear that would walk down our alley when Darlin Man and I lived right by that little dry creek that backed onto undeveloped hilly scrubby area. Because he wasn't getting into the trash, he wasn't going after the dogs (he checked them out a time or two but believe me if he had wanted to eat them the fence we had there wouldn't have caused him any inconvenience at all) and he was literally just passing through. But if I'd called him in, he could have been euthanized for that. There was a certain amount of nothing you can do, keep your trash cans fastened closed and don't interact with the bears kind of attitude where we were but in other areas they have gone to a no-strikes policy. Bear is in town, gets reported, bear gets tranqed or trapped and loaded up, taken out of public view, and put down.

So, being the proper nature lover that I am, I do have a bit of a yen for a black bear hunt. It'd be neat to be able to have a bearskin rug from a bear I got, and that would be one more bear towards a properly balanced system in which we get a good number of healthy bears doing their ecological job instead of a bunch of borderline or unhealthy bears that come into town because there's not enough food in the hills, but there is in all those garbage cans in town.

I don't know that I ever will do a bear hunt, since we don't have enough in this area to make it a problem, and I don't really know the area over west by the foothills where they are a problem well enough to feel comfortable hiking about in them by myself. Here we get the occasional bear on a telephone pole or last year I think a little cinnamon stage juvenile took over someone's doghouse because he thought it was a good place to den up. Over there we were picking up trash all the time and watching Gigantobear (I'm telling you that black bear had to be hip high or more on me at the shoulder, and built like a brick shithouse... he was big for a black bear) take his evening stroll down the alley because it was easier walking than the streambed.

So yeah, if I could get a decent guide that I trusted to hunt with for a bear hunt, I'd definitely consider it. On the other hand it's not at all like it's a driving passion or anything, so I probably won't look too hard.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ah FarmDog...

FarmDog has always had a bit of a licking.. issue. Mostly she'd lick her paws for a while, usually while I was trying to sleep. 

In recent years, as she's gotten older and stiffer, it's gotten worse. As the weather gets cold, she gets achey, which only encourages her licking. So she'll lick sores on herself. 

Not a huge deal, glucosamine helps and when she does manage to do it in spite of everyone telling her to stop licking (which she does... for a bit) I just throw some triple antibiotic on it, wrap it in gauze, and then vet wrap.

Usually she'll lick the vet wrap until told not to but mostly she leaves it alone aside from being pouty and showing you her ouchy for sympathy at every chance. Occasionally she'll take the vet wrap off to get to it but she knows it's only temporary and she'll get wrapped again as soon as I see it.

Yesterday she tried to be sneaky:

She chewed the bottom off the vet wrap, leaving most of it intact, so that she could get to the sore. Of course she got re-wrapped, but I had to get a picture first. She did a pretty good job of making it inconspicuous, honestly.

Edited to Add:  Do you see this sad face? You see how injured she is? She's showing you how injured she is.

Potted Plants

No, I'm not talking about the recent legislative change that made it legal to have five marijuana plants for personal use. Even if I were into the whole pot thing, I'd be leery, since there still isn't any legal method to acquire said plants.

I'm talking about garden variety potted plants. Literally. Look:

That's my plant table. This spring Farmmom decided she wanted to start some of her own seeds, and since the spring here is unpredictable, that meant starting inside. So she bought a little flourescent fixture and a plant bulb, to put over her little plastic seedling greenhouse. 

Then I got Tiny Tim, my tea tree (yes that's him in the far right, with his own lamp, because he wasn't always on the table) and discovered that some of the creepy crawlies around here just love him, so outside for some Colorado Sunshine wasn't an option unless I wanted fuzzy white bugs all over him instead of pretty white flowers. So he got a lamp.

As the summer progressed I made use of the plant light for my fruit tree cuttings (some of which are in the back there, hopefully making roots for themselves... if not, I'll just have to get new cuttings in the spring, cause I want tiny mulberry trees damnit!) and a couple of mom's potted plants that were ailing. Those eventually gave up the ghost, but they were older plants and had survived longer than we had expected them to anyway.

Since it's looking like things will be moving forward on the roof at the farmhouse, and the move to the hermitage is more imminent all the time, I've been plotting on food plants that can be grown in pots. See, the farmhouse has a lovely porch with tons of windows. With a little help in the lighting department over the winter, it'll be a great space for having such food producing plants as can thrive in pots all year round. 

So far, I've managed to get chives and mint established. The pot of mint I found for three dollars turned out to have two plants in it, so of course I split them. 

What's with the empty pot on the left you ask? It's not empty, I answer. See, we had a head of garlic sitting around left over from pickling. When I went to use some for a pot roast I was throwing together yesterday, it was showing signs of imminently sprouting. So what I didn't use, I stuck in a pot. So that will eventually be several heads of garlic. 

When it's a sixty mile round trip to the store, it's worth growing whatever you can yourself. 

Tiny Tim is doing just fine, in case you were wondering. Producing flowers and berries regularly... well, just look here:

A flower and a berry side by side. That berry will turn red for a few days, then start shrinking and and drying up. The little white flowers are pretty as a picture... though not pretty enough to reassure Concerned Worm, as you can see. 

So far, there's far less bonsai to Tiny Tim than you would expect. I do a little clean up on his leaves now and then to make sure he's getting plenty of light, but mostly I just water him and let him do his thing. If I wanted him at the height he is now, that would be a different story, but for now he's got some growing to do, and he'll do it best without a lot of interference.

All in all I've had better luck than I expected to with my potted plants, and I'm really enjoying them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Major hasn't found a permanent home yet. Being the sucker that I am, I can't do nothing. So I've started a fundraiser.

Because she needs rescued, and I'm the rescuer. Most of you know how uncomfortable I am asking for money, or even receiving gifts. But this is for a good cause, it's not for me. She's in a fantastic place now, but as she grows there are going to be issues having four akitas in one house. Mostly because her mother is very dominant with other females. It's a lot easier to handle dominance issues when most of the dogs are under 30lbs than when they're all nearly 100lbs.

So, if you can afford it, whatever small amount you can afford. Whatever comes in through the fundraiser will be used for Major. I'll be opening a savings account where the funds will live until Major needs something.

The donation page is here, and I'll post updates as we go.

Please do not feel compelled to donate if you can't afford it. I understand completely that money is tight all over. But, if you have a little to spare, you can help an adorable puppy. That's a good cause no matter how you slice it.

Here's the page. If nothing else it's worth checking out for cute puppy pictures.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Puppy Home Needed

As you may know, my dear friends The Nerds have Akitas, and they've bred a couple of litters out of their female.

Adorable fuzzy pups, little bears. Well, look:

That's Major. Her litter name was picked because two of the females in the litter had face blazes like that, Major has the big one, and Minor (who has a home and a new name already) has the small one. 

The reason Major doesn't have a home yet is because she's a very special case. See, she's got some heart problems. At the moment she's a perfectly normal little pup, but as she grows they may cause more issues. I'll let LabRat explain the technical bits, because she's better at it than I am. 

Point is, this little love needs a very special home, somewhere that can afford the costs for the care she'll need going on. She's most certainly not a hopeless case, at this stage nothing is particularly certain. Chances are she'll have a shorter life than most Akitas, yes. But having met her mother and brother and spent time with them, I can tell you that whoever ends up with this gorgeous little girl will be richer for the experience. 

I would take her in a heartbeat, problems and all, if I had the money to handle the ongoing vet costs. I've commented before that down the road when we're shy a dog or two I would definitely consider an Akita. Yes, they're stubborn, not nearly as praise-driven as most other breeds, and can be a challenge. The line I've known is also very loving, and there's something heart melting about having a head bigger than your own laid on your lap for some love. I would happily give her a home and all the love she needs, if I had the ability. I haven't even met her yet and my Sucker tattoo has been flaring up ever since they first figured out she had a heart murmur, before the cause was even discovered. 

But, I know my limitations. Barring winning the lottery or discovering a long lost rich uncle that died and left me his entire fortune, I just can't do it. Surgery and ongoing cardiologist checkups which would be a long drive on top of the vet costs is just out of my reach at this point.

So, I ask you, dear readers, help LabRat find a home for this beautiful pup. She deserves a forever family who can give her the special place in their hearts that she needs. I know times are tough all over and many of you may not be able to cover vet costs any more than I can, but spread the word, on your blogs, at your work, talk to your dentist! 

The Nerds have already laid out a decent amount of cash to find out what she had going on, and will again if she doesn't find a home before it's time to go back to the puppy cardiologist. If you don't know anyone that could take this wonderful baby, but still want to help, I'll pass on any donations dropped in my tip jar, since they don't have their own. Just put "For Major" in the note or email me letting me know and I'll make sure it gets to them. 

She's gonna light up somebody's life, people. Let's help her find that somebody!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Still puttering on writing here and there but at the moment it's post-gathering cleanup and recovery.

Much fun, joy, and good food was had, lots of money turned to smoke and noise, new friends made, old friends cherished, sleep schedules properly disrupted.

I'm never this exhausted when we go visit elsewhere but I'm always happy to see people show up.

Thank you to everyone who came, we miss you all already but it is kinda nice to be able to sit around the house in my pj's of a morning again....

Friday, October 4, 2013

An Old Book Finally Finished

Finally finished, and edited, and edited. And I've finally worked up the nerve to let it go to the public.

Jane is available. Since I had the serialized chapters on here via text file, I decided to go with the same delivery method.

Five bucks in the paypal gets you the whole thing, at long, long last... for anyone who hasn't given up on it. 

A New Book In The Works

It'll be titled "Memoirs of a Sucker" and it'll explain, possibly even to myself, why I continue to open myself up to heartbreak and misery.

Honestly at this point it would be pretty fair to have a compulsive disorder named after me.

Neither of the recent rescues made it. I think I'm just... done for a while.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Sucker Tattoo Has Got To Go


This morning FarmDog started barking like a bird had landed on her head and was trying to ride her into battle. When I poked my head out the door to tell her to shut up, she looked at me, wagged all over, barked at the ground near a corner of the yard, and looked back at me and wagged again.

Clearly, Timmy was down the well again. 

So I went over to see what on earth she was going on about. And saw a pair of kittens.

So I go outside the yard to get a better look at them and see how likely it is that their mother will be coming back by to pick them up later (usually very likely,) and realized that they clearly had eye infections.

Being dry and dusty here it's pretty common for feral kittens to come up with minor eye infections, they generally get over them and all is well. The problem with these two was that their eyes were goobered shut.

And they were skinny.

Also my dog was whining and reaching a paw through the fence to paw near one of them as if to say "They're right there. They're babies. Alone. Damnit do something!" 

Anyway. Babies. Needed help. Need I elaborate on what happened?

It took me ten minutes to get one of em's eyes cleaned up enough to open, and it demonstrated the bad side of eye infections in feral kittens. 

See, usually the momma cat cleans their faces so the eyes don't get stuck shut. If they do, though, all that infection has nowhere to go, and builds up behind the eyelids. So when you do start getting things cleaned up a bit, you get... ooze. In a best case scenario. In a worst case scenario there's a good amount of pressure built up and there's squirting. 

We'll see how they do. One of them is a little worrying, but I'm not going to make a bet either way yet. I'll do everything I can and see what happens.

But something really needs to be done about the sucker tattoo on my forehead if the dog is reading it now...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Black and Silver? Salt and pepper? Wha?

People seem to get confused by the terms we use for our pups when I put up pictures. I can't blame them because the coloration terms make no sense at all unless you know how Schnauzer genetics work. Since I don't have any real content lately (I could bitch about the fact that our living room is a useless waste of space the way it's laid out and is entirely too easy to pile crap in all year because it doesn't get used except for my gaming corner and then September rolls around and it's "holy crap we have to clean the living room out" because company is coming but that's just boring) I decided to do a brief show and tell.

Meet the salt and pepper female. (I'm not naming her, I'm more attached to her than I should be already, she had a name but it was sort of dependent on Micro to make sense, and now it's just kind of depressing to use it soooo salt and pepper female)

She's a cutie, isn't she? I think she's going to wind up being a pretty close younger female version of her daddy, Fuzzy Pup. She's stout like he is and while it's still early days yet on coats I'm betting she's going to lean more towards his curly ultra soft coat than her mom's more wiry coat. Anyway, this morning we played for a while and then she obligingly fell asleep on my lap after giving up on dismembering me one digit at a time.

You can see in the above photo that she's clearly tan and black. Maybe the light markings on her face could be construed as "cream" rather than "tan" but she's definitely not anything you'd call salt and pepper, right? So is this just one of those weird-ass nonsense terms that people use for colors, like "blue roan" when clearly the horse is not actually blue? 

Nope. The reason this little brownish puppy color is called salt and pepper is because of a gene that schnauzers have. This gene causes the brown and tan pigments in the coat to "grey out" or some call it "bleaching out" but I don't like that term because it suggests we're throwing the puppies in the washing machine or something equally awful.

This greying out process starts when they're born, pretty much. Some pups grey faster than others. One of the black and silver males is already just barely cream on his markings, while his brother of the same coat coloration is still fairly tan. So let's take a look at the process in action, so to speak.

Here she is, natural lie to the coat. That really dark streak along her back will probably stay pretty black, or at least be a deep dove grey. Or maybe both. The hairs over her shoulders are banded (the bottoms are black, but the tips are tan) which means that'll probably grey out some, but behind her shoulders and down onto her butt there's no banding and she's blue-skinned there. (If you naired a black and white dog you'd see skin that matches their markings... the black areas would have a skin color that actually does kind of look blue.)

(I hope I don't need to say this but just in case: don't actually nair dogs... beyond just being rude imagine the feeling of nairing your fun bits all over your body.)

Anywho. Puppy:

So. How in the world can this puppy turn grey? Well there's a couple of things that do it, functionally. One is that as the hair grows the greying gene works on it, even if the tips don't fade all that much. Lookie here:

Especially on that left side you can see a really distinct shift. Have another one from a different spot, just to be thorough:

So the tips of the hair will fade out, the new hair growing in will grey more quickly than the hair that's already grown, and depending on the pup, sooner or later you'll get a dog with no brown left, just grey, white, and black. If the process is slow enough (as it may be in this little girl but only time will tell) it's possible that the grey won't show at all until she gets her puppy clip. Basically that's just a quick trim with the clippers, usually just before they go to their new homes, in a general approximation of a schnauzer cut. This does a couple things, first off it makes em look good for their new people, which is always a plus, but more importantly it makes their first experience with a set of clippers happen in an environment where they're comfortable, with people they know.

If a pup greys out slowly enough, it's possible that after their puppy clip, you wind up with a really weird looking pup, showing grey everywhere it was clipped and the tan everywhere they will eventually have "furniture." (That's the completely ridiculous and arbitrary term for the beard, eyebrows, and long hair left down the sides and on the legs of a schnauzer.)

That's where the second process I talked about earlier kicks in. Because eventually, the pup grows it's adult coat and loses the puppy coat. And the greying gene works on any new hairs grown from the get-go, instead of coming late to the game like it does when the pups are developing in the womb. So the new hairs will grow in already grey.

Another neat factoid about this gene is that while the new hairs grow in already grey that doesn't necessarily mean the gene shuts off. Fuzzy Pup is a beautiful deep velvety grey on his back when he's clipped. But let him grow out for a few weeks (or months, man I gotta get him clipped he looks more like a sheepdog than a schnauzer) and that deep lovely grey will fade to an equally lovely light grey, and eventually a silvery color on the ends.

Fuzzy Pup's dad has the same trait, where his coat will silver out if you let it grow long enough. The neat part about that is that Fuzzy Pup's dad is black.

There are other animals with color-change genes, too. Certain wild canids grow a different coat color for winter and summer, I've had a horse that I don't know what gene was responsible but she'd shed out a different coat color every spring. And the beautimous white Lipizzaner breed of horse, famous for all of those heart-stopping airs above the ground? They're born brown or black.

It's true though that few genomes are as flexible as the canine. The dog has gone from wolf to shi-tzu in a remarkably short amount of time, evolutionarily speaking. Look at the breeds that have been developed and reached the goal of the human mastermind behind it in a lifetime. Or even over a hundred years.

Dog: the longest running genetics experiment in history, and it's still going on.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Super Special Announcement!

I hinted at this on my personal Facebook earlier and a couple of people have been bugging me since. Of course, I had to wait until it was live.

The Farm Fam has now officially released our first cookbook: Granny Goodcookies

It's available on Amazon now, and contains 21 of our absolute favorite family desert recipes.

I don't think we did too bad for Farmmom and I's first collaborative effort, myself. It's very different writing prose and putting together a cook book so it has been a learning experience. Especially since this is a project we started a while back, then lost time for, and recently picked back up and finished.

Farmmom plans to put together more recipes, entrees and breads and... well, anything we've got, which includes the kinds of recipes that are most useful these days: those that make a meal from minimal ingredients.

That's the future though, and Granny Goodcookies is our test, to see if people actually want our recipes.

Go check it out and let us know what you think!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

This is what I get

For getting optimistic. Yesterday afternoon micro started refusing food and continued to refuse food all day today. 

The only thing I can think is that pneumonia got set up in his lungs, but he's gone. 

So much for my super skills I guess. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Meet Micro

He's pretty much been my life since Saturday. 

He's one of Jez's pups. A very special pup at that. See, Micro was probably a late fertilization. A product of a mash up of timing and fate to leave him with just a little less time to develop than everyone else. 

As a result he's got a cleft palate. Not even terribly cleft. Near as I can tell there's only one spot that is actually open to his sinuses, behind where his front teeth will be. But it means that a lot of things have to go just right before he can suck. He's managed it, but not consistently enough to keep him going. 

So when it became clear he wasn't doing well on Sunday, and I found the cleft, I started supplementing him. 

And frankly I was failing miserably. I'd never had to deal with a cleft puppy before. I knew they could be bottle fed, but most people recommended tube feeding instead. Unfortunately I didn't have the equipment or the skills for tube feeding. So we struggled on with the bottle. 

We found a position that he didn't seem to flood out in as often. We let him work on the bottle until he got tired, gave him a break, and started over again. We managed to get enough in him to keep him going, but that's it. 

By Wednesday morning I was pretty sure he wouldn't be alive for the next feeding. At four am I got up and he was still there and I prepared to spend an hour fighting along side him, because he just refused to give up, and I couldn't do any less. 

I was sitting there, extremely fuzzy headed from lack of sleep since I hadn't gotten more than an hour at a stretch for a couple of days, willing milk replacer into his little tummy. Nearly crying over how skeletal he was, but if I cried I couldn't see the occasional bubble coming out of the nipple, the only real sign of success I had. 

I thought to myself "If it were any other puppy, I'd be able to put him on his back and let instinct take over- swallow or drown. But he's already risking drowning every time he eats. And worse when he's flat on his back."

Pure stubborn refusal to give up had gotten me this far. I'd been asked by the vet if I was sure I didn't want to put him down, but I simply could not give up on him. I believed he'd probably die anyway but at least he wouldn't be the only one fighting for his survival. He could get some suction on my finger, since it blocked off the cleft, but I hadn't been able to find a nipple that worked for him. People baby nipples were just a bit too big and stiff to work any better than the puppy nipple which was too small to let him get sealed off. 

So at four am with a severe lack of sleep and grief waiting for me I dug deep down inside and found a new level of stubborn. And I started changing his angle a little at a time. Flat on his back was no good, he flooded out and we had to take a break to let him point his head down and suck on my finger to clear them out. 

Straight upright with his chin tipped up worked a little better but it was a struggle keeping him there. He didn't like pointing his nose to the sky. And he still wasn't getting enough.

So I split the difference. Halfway between on his back and basically standing him up on his butt. 

And the bubbles started rolling. I'd been scared of any positions even close to on his back because he flooded out so bad the first time I tried it. 

But we found it. The position that let him work the puppy nipple I'd opened up so that the slightest squeeze would give milk. The one that let it roll to where he could swallow and bypassed the cleft. 

And at that feeding he ate as much as he had the entire day before. 

An hour later it worked again. He didn't eat as much, but he wasn't as empty starting out either. 

All day it kept working. Sometimes more milk sometimes less. I figured out that two hours between feedings worked better than one. At an hour he still had milk in his belly enough that he was prone to starting to doze off. Which meant he wasn't swallowing as efficiently and he was more likely to flood out. At two hours he was ready to get his belly full again. 

And throughout the day, I saw him gaining physically. He rehydrated, and his ribs ever so slowly hid back behind a layer of flesh instead of pressing up against his skin. 

He's not out of the woods yet but he's headed in the right direction. Every couple of hours he gets his belly really full, then goes back to his momma for cuddles and cleanup. He's still miles behind the others, size wise. He probably won't catch up to them, but he's leaps and bounds ahead of where he was. 

As I write this Jez is outside for a potty break and the puppies are all napping or jostling for position. Micro is almost due for another meal but he's willing to nap till it shows up, if the big lunks will let him lay on them. 

I think Micro has taken over the motto "Never give up, never surrender!"

He's not in the clear, there are dozens of things that could still go wrong. But there's an inkling that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel now, and I know he won't stop fighting for it. 

How on earth can I do any less?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sugar

Farmmom and I have been playing with old recipes putting together a cook book recently (yes it will be available to purchase and we're looking at doing more in the future) so I've been thinking a lot about the women who have gone before.

Today happens to be the birthday of one of them.

Sugar (yep, pretty much everybody called her that) was one of those old pioneer women that you just couldn't repress, and she was happiest in the kitchen whipping up tons of food for those she loved.

I was probably ten before she could be convinced to let anyone else take care of most of a holiday family meal, and she had grave misgivings about it even then. It wasn't that she didn't think the rest of the family could cook or that she didn't trust them in the kitchen, that was just her thing.

It didn't help that it was decided to have roasted cornish game hens instead of something more traditional.

She saw the little birds and asked "Where in the world did you find such scrawny chickens? I hope they were cheap!"

Farmmom told her they weren't chickens and they'd be tasty, just wait.

"We'll what are they then? They're not quail, I know that much."

Farmdad, being Farmdad, told her "They're pigeons. You told me there were too many of them roosting in the shop at the farm so I went out and shot a few."

Now, Sugar was convinced that pigeons were nothing but flying rats and no more fit to eat than prairie dogs, so she was less than impressed.

She couldn't stay out of the kitchen after that though. She'd sneak in to check on stuff. Personally I think she was checking on what foods might be contaminated via proximity by the "pigeons."

She did try it though, and declared pigeon pretty tasty. Farmdad told her it wasn't actually pigeon eventually, but from then on every so often for a holiday meal shed ask if we could have pigeon again.

She was a lively, intelligent, wonderful woman, who would have turned 106 today. I am immensely grateful for everything she taught me about life, including how to roll with the punches and make it work, with her tales of the dust bowl.

She taught me how to bake, to never be afraid to experiment with new things even if they don't turn out that well (the cupcakes baked in ice cream cones just never did work out the way she wanted them to, no matter how hard she tried) and that the secret ingredient is always love.

She also taught me by example to express my creative side and that it's worth the effort if it makes just one person smile, even if it's just yourself.

She took baked goods to the nursing home and made crafts for her family and friends. Anything from miniature thermal underwear made up of two intact pairs of tube socks to silk flowers with anatomically incorrect centers. (Ass-ters, pee-tunias, pussy-willows, and boob-gonias. She made the centers out of pantyhose and cotton batting.)

She was a rock and a soft place to land all in one and I will carry the lessons and the skills she taught me throughout my life. In fact, I recently found a quilting ring and a pillow top that I had begun many, many years ago, and started working on it again. I'm out of practice and my stitches aren't nearly as invisible as hers were, but ill get it back. Maybe one day I'll have the guts to break out the quilting rack she used for real quilts and start something big. I have a long way to go and plenty of practice material though. We have totes full of pillow top squares that she had picked out, so I shouldn't run short any time soon.

Happy Birthday, Sugar, we love and miss you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reasons I Love Small Town Life Number Umpty-Bajillion

With the lake filling up and the Parks and Wildlife guys ( I still have trouble remembering to call them that instead of Department of Wildlife ) having to water out there's been a lot of uproar.

Luckily our local guys are good sorts and passed concerns upward, which resulted in a meeting about it Monday night. They brought in the gentleman from the Department of Water Resources who had to make the decision in the end whether it was safe to raise the minimum water level a d everyone present got to have their questions answered by him, or the dam engineer for CPW or the local guys as appropriate.

I think everyone walked away with a better understanding, us of what limits they're having to work within, and them of the import of the lake area to the community. The meeting was officially scheduled just before close of business on Friday, set for 5:30 pm on Monday.

They moved it up to 5:00 over the weekend, because of the response, they wanted to be sure to have enough time to answer everything, and according to the sign in sheets there were 102 people that attended. Personally, I think it was more than that. I'm sure some of the folks missed signing in, but that was the official count.

As a result of that meeting, our little lake got moved up the priority list, we got a promise of a quick answer to the question of whether, and how much more water could be held. The answer we got yesterday was yes, hold another twelve feet of depth, but you have to widen the spillway.

And now, our little county is coming together. Our CPW agent asked for help spreading the word, following up on the offers of manpower and equipment that came out of the meeting Monday. And we're getting there. Farmers have volunteered their time and effort to help dig the spillway wider and word is spreading like wildfire through the county.

They closed the gates yesterday, holding just under thirty two feet of water in the lake. The Sheriff's department, some of the town police, and whatever citizens happened to be around all hand a hand in helping to close the floodgates.

Of course, there was another storm over the drainage basin last night, and it ran at least another four feet of water in, so they had to open them again, but it was very symbolic and heartwarming.

I've done my share of rabble rousing and we've volunteered what we have to help with the process, not only of widening the spillway, but of repairing the access road into the Hole. Honestly, I predict that this is going to be the cheapest CPW project of the year for the department, and if not that the only ones cheaper will be repainting the state-maintained bathrooms.

Once again, a rural community has stepped up to give of themselves and their time for something that is beloved.

This, folks, is my United States. This is the lifestyle and mindset that makes me proud to come from a nowhere little area in flyover country.

Ya'll come visit, we'll take you skiing on our lake.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Huzzah For Water! And Oops!

So, we've gotten some rain the last few weeks, and we're really glad of that. Upstream in our little water shed has gotten quite a bit more, and it flooded one of the creeks and filled up the lake. For perspective here's the lake about three months ago:

And if I can't walk across it in that picture it's only because the bottom is silt and I'd get stuck. 

And this is yesterday morning. For perspective, the picture below is 90 degrees rotated from the one above, taken from just out of frame to the right. Make note of those rocks in the background above. If you can't really tell, they're vertical, and yes those are houses on top of them and set a little back.

Because you ain't a gonna see 'em no more. This is looking out along the "background" shore in the previous picture. As you can imagine in our drought-stricken area, everyone is overjoyed. Unfortunately the dam that makes this a lake instead of a creek bed is elderly, kind of decrepit, and needs some love, so we can't hold all that water in there. They had to open the gates (yes those are the controls for it in the foreground) and let some out, till it gets down to the level that the dam is rated for. Twenty vertical feet, if you're wondering, though they're talking about getting some more repairs done so that it can be re-rated for up to 46 feet, which I am entirely in favor of. 

Not least because of this next bit.

A bit of history, bear with me. The dam, lake and all was originally an irrigation set up, so on the side of the dam opposite the lake there's an irrigation canal leading off to... well these days it just sort of peters out. The cool bit is the tunnel they blasted through a cliff wall rather than go around it. 

Over many, many years (more years than I've been around) the canal was neglected and trees grew on it and weeds grew in it because there was never any water running through it so why bother? We never got enough in the lake to worry about and for several years the gates didn't work anyway. They did get those repaired, clearly, but the fruits of other neglect have been realized.

Here's the canal from about midway between the headgates and the tunnel:

Peaceful, no? Muddy, sure, but looks like it's pretty sedate and if you're young and dumb it might be something you'd want to throw an inner tube in on and float down with a beer. 

Which would be a very bad idea, because the neglect and letting trees grow on the berm between the canal and the (lower lying) recreational area bore fruit: 

Can't see it super well there can you? Let me pick my way to a better vantage point.... (and for you worry worts I promise you I was never in the water or on any piece of bank that had been undercut... No seriously I was careful I know what kind of shit got washed through there, what I don't know is how much of it lodged somewhere)

And there you have it. The water level in this pic is about 2.5-3 feet below the soil level of the ditch beyond the cut, so there's no fixing it until they can shut the gates, and they can't do that until the water in the lake is at the right level. 

Oh, and that recreation area I was talking about? It's over there:

On the left is the state-installed campground potties. The light dirt area over there is the road in and a turn off for one of the ponds, and... well pretty much everything the water is covering in the foreground is the road in as well. And there's no one side or the other to it, the whole road has turned into an impromptu miniature whitewater location. 

And today being the first sunny Saturday since the lake filled up, everyone who had a boat was out there. Most of the flood muck has settled, so it's safe enough, though some didn't want to wait and were out there yesterday. Also anyone who had a car was driving out to look at it. Biggest traffic jam in southeastern Colorado history that didn't involve a wreck and it's in the sticks and all because someone stopped on top of the dam to gawk at all the water. 

I gotta admit, it took some self-restraint for me not to just jump in the lake fully clothed screaming yeehaw, but I'm eagerly looking forward to getting one of our modest watercraft up and running to go enjoy it. And if I get too impatient there's always the fiberglass canoe, if I can find the paddle....

Monday, August 5, 2013


Not a lot of super exciting news, other than the fact that the creek ran and the lake filled up, which is only exciting if you live here and have been staring glumly at a dry or nearly dry basin for the last few years.

Oh! FarmFam will be participating in a 2A march next weekend. So if you're near {Redacted} and watching the {Redacted} Parade, keep your eyes peeled for a {Redacted} with a chick named {You're kidding right?} walking alongside!

Hope to {not} see you there!

Honestly it would weird me the hell out to be approached close to home and "recognized" in a non-blogger context, and I'd probably find a hole and pull it in after myself. But it sounds like this deal is supposed to be a nice, friendly, hi we own guns and we enjoy them kind of thing. And it most likely won't involve anyone talking to the press.

If I had a horse up for it I'd probably end up riding it, but I don't, so I won't.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Thirty Days With A Gun Thing

So, Heidi Yewman, an anti gun activist, spent a month carrying a gun. I will give her full credit for trying it, because it's something not many would try.

She set out, near as I can tell, to prove that it's a bad idea for someone with no training and no idea of what they're doing with a pistol to carry a gun. I think everyone agrees on that. The conflict comes in with this simple idea: Gun owners in general do not want to force anyone else to own and carry a gun. Anti-gun activists want to force people not to own and carry a gun. I'm gonna excerpt from her article (you can read the whole thing here if you haven't already)

"I thought the gun would make me feel more powerful, more confident, and less fearful. I was wrong. All I felt was fear. Physically taking the gun out of the safe and putting it in a holster on my hip literally reminded me that I was going out into a big bad scary unsafe world. There were days when I put the gun back in the safe and stayed home because it simply took too much energy to be scared. It was easier to be at home without the worry and responsibility of being “the good guy with the gun.” My awareness of looming tragedy was abundant. If I had to pull the trigger, my life, the person I shot, both of our families, and all who witnessed it would be changed forever."

Ok, I can agree with Heidi that putting a gun on is a pretty physical reminder of the fact that you're going into a society in which someone might decide to hurt you. It is a scary, unsafe world, but it doesn't get any less unsafe if you aren't reminded of it and don't think about it. People call that "condition white" meaning you're completely unaware of your surroundings and reality. It's that kind of blissful ignorance that leads people with their iPod earbuds in to walk into the middle of a gunfight between law enforcement and criminals. You're not any safer, when you don't acknowledge danger, no matter how many Coyote vs Roadrunner cartoons you cite for proof that if you just don't look down, you won't fall.

"I felt a huge sense of relief the day I got rid of the gun. I no longer had to worry that my teenagers or their friends would use my gun when I wasn’t home. I didn’t have to worry that I would be in a situation where I would make a choice about taking another life. I didn’t have to worry that my gun would be stolen out of my car and then used to murder someone. And I didn’t have to worry that one day I would get a diagnosis or have a personal crisis and have a gun on hand to turn on myself."

Now, a few times in the article she mentions being responsible about the gun. I have a bit of a problem with that phraseology. If she were responsible, she would have gotten training. If she were responsible, she would have had a safety discussion with her teenagers, not hidden the gun away and prayed they wouldn't find it, or figure out how to get into the safe. If she were responsible, she would have done more than put the gun in the glove box to protect it when she had to leave it in her vehicle. The point of her experiment was to do the absolute minimum, I get that, but you don't get to set out to do the minimum and then call yourself "responsible" when you do no more than that. 

Sure, a lot of places it's easy to get a concealed carry permit and a gun. It's also easy to get a driver's license and a car. You don't even have to have a driver's license to own a car, just the money to pay for it. There are no background checks, and if you can see over the steering wheel and see the pedals, and aren't obviously somewhere around the age of ten, no one thinks twice about you driving your car down the street. And yet. 

Thousands of pounds of steel and flammable fuel, in the hands of anyone with the money to lay down. It's even a lot easier to kill someone with a car than with a bullet, when it comes down to it. You have to practice being accurate with a gun. We routinely hand sixteen year olds these dangerous, fastmoving devices, with a bare minimum of training. If we're lucky, they have Driver's Ed in one form or another, but they're not required to do so. If we're not, they pass a written exam that they forget the questions and answers to the second they don't need them, and spend fifteen minutes with a tester in the car, and then they get a piece of plastic that says they're "safe" to drive. No background checks, no waiting period, nothing.

Why don't we hear more about people going berserk and running someone down with their car? Why don't stories of teenagers being stupid and wrecking cars and killing people get more attention? Because nobody wants to ban cars. In my county, there have been more people killed in car accidents than with guns.... well I don't have the statistics to hand, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say "ever." 

That's not to say it doesn't happen here. It does, but I can remember two incidents of gun violence off the top of my head, one of which no one died in. I can name seven teenagers off the top of my head who lost their lives to vehicular stupidity. And that's only in my county. 

And as for having that gun there to kill yourself with... if you really want to kill yourself? You're going to find a way. The gun may make a simple tool for it, but it's not the gun that causes it. Out of three suicides (again off the top of my head) only one used a gun, and it wasn't an ease-of-access issue since he took himself, and the gun, to a remote location and made a couple of phone calls before he did it. If it were a matter of "I'm sad, there's a gun in the house, therefore I'm going to kill myself now," he wouldn't have gone elsewhere. If he hadn't had access to a gun he'd have made a different choice. 

For myself, I've thought about the realities of owning and carrying a gun. I consider the gun a tool, like any other. And a tool is useless if it's sitting at home when you need it. I carry a pocket knife and keep a jack, spare tire, tire iron, and even jumper cables in my car. I don't expect to have a flat or a dead battery every day. I don't expect to need to cut something every ten minutes (though being a farm and ranch girl, sometimes it seems like I actually do.) 

I don't expect to injure myself all the time (though, being me, sometimes it seems like I actually do...) but I keep first aid kits handy. What does this have to do with carrying a gun, you may ask?

Simple. Every single one of them is a tool or set of tools that I might need, or just might save my life, that are only used when something happens to require them.

I don't go into every day thinking that someone is going to attack me and force me to shoot them (yes, force me, I do not ever want to have to make the decision to end another life... I have however come to the conclusion for myself and by myself that given the choice between my life and theirs, when attacked, I can and will do so) but I have that tool there in case I need it. 

I don't bash people's heads in with my tire iron or stab them with my pocket knife or electrocute them with my car battery and jumper cables or strangle them with the gauze from a first aid kit. I also don't stab them in the eye with a pencil, run them over with my car, hit them with hammers, poison them with bleach or a dozen other household chemicals that are easily deadly or disfiguring, punch them in the temple or snap their necks.

I don't go into dangerous situations just because I'm armed. If I get into a situation that makes me uncomfortable I still try to get out of it first. I walk away, drive to a different part of town, or find a more populated area. I stick with the people I know in unfamiliar surroundings and I don't go off with strangers. But if the odds beat me, and statistics says they certainly can, and all else fails, I have a recourse to defend my life and my person. 

Heidi, you carried a gun for thirty days, and you were terrified of it. You had no idea what you were doing with it and you made some dumb mistakes because you didn't know any better. And yet, you still managed to go thirty days without shooting anyone, getting shot, having your kids get shot, or really anything dire happening. And you were reminded that the world is not a safe place, and paid more attention to your surroundings, realized that a situation could have been dangerous when you might not have paid any attention to it before. I call that a good thing. Not that you were scared, but that you were paying attention. The next step is to learn to pay attention and assess the situation, and then decide whether or not to be scared. 

Because that man you talked about on the stairs behind you? He didn't know you were carrying a gun. He happened to be just a guy walking down the stairs. But if he hadn't been, if he'd actually intended to attack you, and you hadn't been more alert because of the gun, would you have even noticed him? Would you have had a chance to remove yourself from that situation before it got to the point where he had you on the ground, or would you have ignored him until he grabbed you?

Because there is a happy medium between "condition white" and terror-stricken paranoia. It consists of knowing that the world is not safe, and taking each set of conditions and each encounter as an individual thing, and deciding how safe or unsafe it is. It involves a lot of skull sweat until you get into the habit, and it's really easy to fall out of that habit, so you have to remind yourself a lot, but for myself, I'd rather see the danger coming and have a chance of getting myself out of it than pretend that it's all sunshine and rainbows and get blindsided. 

But, that's my choice, and everyone else is free to make their own. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tiny Tim and Odd Tornado

For anyone who might be wondering how Tiny Tim is doing, well, here he is today:

Photo is of the "back" side relative to Concerned Worm because that's where the most greenery is. I assure you Concerned Worm is still concerned. Anyway, I'm learning a lot taking care of this little tree and encouraging it to grow. I did let it get a little dry and it dropped all the leaves, which made me very sad, but a little TLC and paying more attention to the watering and as you can see the leaves came back. The Tea Tree is happy enough to be flowering and making berries again, so I must be doing something right. 

In the near background there you can see my latest experiments in cuttings from the fruit trees at the farm (just ignore the further background, the living room is a mess.) Took those a couple days ago and stuffed em in some water and rooting hormone, several cuttings from each tree (ok I only took a couple from mystery trees, but I got several mulberry and several from the known pear tree that DOES produce) so hopefully some of them will survive. 

I tried the cut off a chunk and stick it in dirt and hope method a while back, but the only things to survive (out of a bunch of cuttings) were two of the mulberries. Sort of. They're not completely dead yet. But they're not exactly thriving. We'll see how they do from here on out, but that's why we've moved on to a different method this time. I'm pretty sure the wind didn't help on the others, but since these aren't in dirt and are smaller cuttings which would be prone to flying away, they're living on the plant table with Tiny Tim at least till we see what they'll do. 

There are a few reasons I'm wanting so badly to get cuttings from the fruit trees at the farm going. One is that mom and dad would like to plant more of them, and since Mamaw was a plant nut we already had a lot of what we needed, just had to buy soil, which makes it a lot cheaper (even with a lot of failures) to propagate cuttings than to buy trees. Another is, again, the bonsai thing. Come on, tiny fruit trees? That's just neat. And not at all least, since I'm going to wind up away from the homestead, little potted clones of the trees from the farm and ranch will let me take a piece of the homestead with me. 

And, I'll always be able to remember the day I gathered the cuttings, since we stopped by to see the horses while we were in the vicinity to get some cuttings from different mulberries and the pear tree that Farmdad's horse Thunder used to stand on his hind legs to reach the high branches to pull fruit off of. I had my bucket of water for the cuttings in the back of the pickup, and Etta is... well she's a snoop. She's always checking the bed of the truck for goodies, any time we stop by. So of course she checked it out this time and lo and behold a bucket of water! 

Deciding that it must be for her she drank most of it while I was loving on Joan. Then I got a water bottle (she likes the way the plastic bottles crinkle and make noise) to distract her. She didn't want to take it and play with it so I took off the cap and let her sniff it. By the time we were done with that game I nearly had her drinking from the bottle, but I still had to stop by the tank and refill my bucket. Thankfully we visited the horses first or she'd have eaten all my cuttings!

Then on the way back to the homestead, after gathering cuttings in the rain (glorious rain!) we saw something odd in the rear view and thought it was a fire from a lightning strike, so we hustled up to the house to drop off the cuttings since we were nearly there, and were about to head back to help out when we realized it wasn't a fire:

But a tornado. A small one, but very odd. You can't really tell from this picture but it's on the trailing edge of the storm, when tornadoes normally form on the leading edge (in fact one did form on the leading edge of this same storm, south and east of us.) It's also moving south and east instead of north and east, throwing two "this is what tornadoes do" rules out the window. It wasn't big enough to do much damage, though I'm sure any crops it went over didn't appreciate it much.

Farmmom and I stood around and watched it till it dissipated, taking pictures and enjoying the bit of cool down from the rain that came before it. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stupid Body, Anyway

I may have whined here before about how much fun it is for me to maintain my weight. If I haven't, the short version is that I have a very high metabolism and sometimes it's actual work to eat enough to keep from losing weight.

Anyone who wants to scream at me for whining about that (and those of you struggling to lose weight I hear the build up starting from here) can do it on their own dime. I'm not saying that my weight issues are bigger, smaller, harder, easier or anything-ier than anyone else's. That doesn't change the fact that they exist and sometimes they suck, and combined with mental issues created by years of school officials and doctors trying to convince me I actually had an eating disorder and that's why I'm skinny it can make for some rough moments inside my head. (As a brief aside, have you seen the eating disorder scare tactic pictures they use? Spend four or five years with them shoving those anorexic skeletons in your face trying to get you to admit to an eating disorder you don't have, during formative body-image years, and it'll give you baggage to carry for a nice long time too.)

That being said I'm mostly ok with it now. I pretty much only lose my mind about it when I've actually lost weight, and when I remember to manage things correctly that doesn't happen too often.

Part of managing things correctly is listening to my body. If I'm craving something I figure there's a reason, most of the time. Now, I'm not saying that every time I'm craving chocolate is because my body needs it, mind you, but when I've been out in the sun all day and holy crap I want some salty chips it's because I need the salt.

That can happen with other more complicated things too, so I try to listen to my body. Unfortunately sometimes my body is a retard. Or maybe a two year old. It's like every once in a while I have this conversation:

Body: I'm craving something!

Me: Ok, what do you want?

Body: Something!

Me: Specifically, what are you craving?

Body: Something specific!

Me: Seriously just tell me what you want and I'll get it for you.

Body: Stuff!

Me: You've got to be shitting me. Well you're telling me we've got the munchies so we're just going to have some Cheetos and move on. If you figure out what you want let me know.


Me: Jesus, fine, stop throwing the stomach around we won't have Cheetos. Make a suggestion.

Body: Snacks!

Me: Oh for fuck's sake. Chocolate chip muffin.


Me: Ok fuck you we're not eating anything, we had lunch, we'll be fine.

Body: Buuut muuunchhiiieeessss

And so on and so forth, until either I figure out what my body is craving or say to hell with it and gorge on something else until it can't possibly send hunger signals.

Fuck you, whiny body, fuck you very much.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


We've been thinning out some trees at the farm and pruning and trying to help them be healthier. So I thought, especially when Farmmom told me we'd be pruning the fruit trees, why not try a few cuttings?

Because I'm still liking the bonsai (Tiny Tim is doing well, he got a little dry and lost all his leaves but they came back and he's already blooming again) I decided to see if I could get some bonsai fruit trees going.

Especially the mulberry. Because tiny mulberry tree!

Anyway, mom was for it since we might be able to jump-start some more trees that way and save having to buy them. I've got several cuttings in pots outside now and they're looking pretty sad but they're still alive, so fingers crossed that they root out.

I've been reading a bonsai blog or two though and one is definitely my favorite, not just for the author's way of explaining things that makes odd concepts simple but for the massive amounts of pictures and his willingness to answer questions.

He posted some photos today and had one in there that perfectly sums up what Farmmom and Farmdad feel about my bonsai stuff, and I just had to share:

All credit to Adam, click the link to go to his blog if you're interested. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Is a wonderful thing.

Like I said earlier, though I am the most horrible person alive once a day, they forgive me pretty quickly. And Fluffernutter is one of the first, and most generous with his forgiveness, because lap and belly rubs. He's out cold.

You can see some of the bald from the ringworm under his chin... the thin coat on his underside is NOT representative of the rest of him, not any more anyway, it just hasn't caught up to the furball that the rest of him is swiftly becoming. Pot-bellied furball. 

On a Lighter Note

So, kittens are quarantined to the living room away from the dogs, because ringworm. We tried topical cream for a while but it just wasn't kicking it in the butt so we've switched to a medicated wash, which means daily baths, which means I am the most awful person in the world once a day. (On the really bright side today is day two and I'm already seeing a difference, thankfully, because poor Grey is just covered)

But, being kittens, by the time they dry off they've forgiven me. Or maybe it's just because I'm their only interaction outside each other, now. Either way, they want to play.

And they've discovered the joys of the laser pointer.

Now, I haven't been able to get all three of them going on it at once, or even two. They seem to figure that one at a time is enough.

But, they will lay in ambush for the one playing with the pointer.

Just a minute ago I was playing with Fluffernutter and Grey was paying no attention whatsoever, and I ran him by her, because kittens and laser pointers.

She startled, then sat up with both front feet of the ground and whacked him once, then put a foot on his head like she was holding him down.

First thought that came into my head?

"Calm down, Beavis, you're never going to catch it anyway."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Mail Order Jesus

Ok, let me preface this by saying that my belief system is my business, and yours is your own, and I really don't care what you believe as long as you don't try to force me to believe it as well or otherwise intrude your beliefs on my life.

The folks I'm about to talk about have (just barely, to be fair) crossed over that line.

In the mail came an envelope pretty well covered in print, clearly from a religious organization, clearly soliciting new believers. I'm not going to name the church involved, if you recognize it from mailings you've gotten I'd appreciate your keeping it to yourself because what I'm talking about here is mistreatment of a position of respect (church, Church, clergy, etc) and exploitation of beliefs in general. I'm reasonably certain that somewhere in this organization are people who honestly believe in the things that they're doing, who are good people and truly want to help others. Since I expect people to respect the fact that I have my own belief system, I cannot, under my own morals, impugn theirs. Specific acts? Sure. Disagree with their system? Absolutely. But out of respect for those who aren't using the system for their own ends, I'm not going to paint a big sign saying "THIS CHURCH IS ENTIRELY FRAUDULENT."

Got it? Good.

Moving on. In this mailing, it's pretty well a packet, there were several things. One of them is a printed "prayer rug." On the back it tells you how if you kneel on this rug (or have it touching both of your knees) and pray upon your needs, while looking into the closed eyes of the image of Jesus printed upon the paper, you will know that Jesus has heard your prayers, because his eyes will open.

Time out, take a step back, examine this paper "prayer rug" (I'm sorry if it is made out of paper it is not a rug, that's why the quotes) and see what they're talking about.

Well, it's pretty vague around the eyes. they certainly look sort of closed but not definitively closed, and there's quite a bit of shading on the eyelids in the image... and if you unfocus your eyes just a bit, sort of like when you're looking for the 3-d squirrel riding a lawnmower to jump off the page... yep, there it is. Subtle, but there, just an impression of iris on the eyelids that, given time, would make the brain see open eyes. Optical illusion.

From this point on, I gotta tell you, I was looking for the "Send money!" To be fair, there isn't any request for donation or anything like that in this letter. They just want you to pray on the rug, tuck it into a Bible at a specific passage, or if you don't have a Bible, under your side of the bed, if you can, if you can't it's ok, overnight then send the rug and the sheet on which you mark your prayer needs back.

There's some indication that once they receive your prayer sheet and rug (which they'll send out to another family because they need it! This bugs me because it strikes me as an attempt to convince people that you're giving them access to a genuine holy article rather than a mass produced image on paper. If you've prayed over it and your beliefs make it holy, fine, but I'm far from convinced that getting more is any more than a matter of placing an order at the printer and possibly having a priest or a group of laymen say a prayer over a pallet) they'll send you a blessed-by-prayer cross which will bring you good fortune.

So far, slightly distasteful to me but nothing really crossing the line. To me what crosses the line between probably honest religion slinging and scamming on the part of those in charge is the "Prophesy" that is also in the envelope. That you're only supposed to unseal (it's got a sticky-dot on it holding it closed) after you send the prayer rug and the needs-sheet back in.

In other words after you've concentrated on your own personal problems so that they're at the forefront of your mind.

This "Prophesy" goes on for a full page in appropriately vague terms about how God will guide you to proper decisions for the benefit of your future through prayer. "Even now, you are facing a decision that must be made." Well that certainly covers everyone in the world.

At the front is a little blurb about how the prophesy is given through inspiration from the Holy Spirit, but the whole is written in the first person. Not "God says" but "I say." A bit about how the power to speak blessings into your own life is in you, and how you must learn to use this power.

Well, that could go a couple of ways. Either the wish-fulfillment version of prayer, or it could be interpreted as a push to stop looking outside yourself for solutions and do everything you can for your own self to improve your life.

My problem here is that this all seems to be aimed towards planting a seed in the mind, that can be fertilized later (when they send out the cross?) to cause a person to interpret any good thing that happens to them in the interim as stemming from the prayer rug, or the actions surrounding it. Like I said, no request for money in this batch, but my cynical mind sees it on the horizon.

To me, this is all very reminiscent of fortune tellers that perform in front of a group. They grope blindly with vague allusions until someone, wanting to believe, sees something of themselves in what is being said. Then they proceed to work on that person, to the ultimate goal of making them believe that the fortune teller is really what they say they are, and then getting money.

Like I said, for all I know there are people in this process that truly believe they are helping others by sending out these letters. But I would bet my own money that somewhere in the process, someone is living quite nicely off of this process who doesn't believe a word of it.

That's what I mean about misuse. Someone in charge there is using their position to make themselves richer, or more powerful. They're deliberately preying on people who, in these days, may not see a recourse other than prayer to help them out of a bad situation. I'm reasonably certain that if I were to send the prayer rug and the needs page back, and go through the process, I would get to the "give us money" portion of the process, but I'm not going to do that.

Because by my lights, exploiting the process for my own entertainment, if there's even a chance that there are people who honestly believe, is wrong.

If someone believes in Bubbah, god of beer and plenty, the fact that I don't doesn't make me any more right than they are. It doesn't mean that I get to tell them what they should believe. And if someone doesn't have any religious beliefs, but does have a belief in say, string theory, the same goes. The belief itself is not any less valid because another person shares it, or doesn't. Neither can be proven at this point, so to me, they stand on equal footing.

I just detest people who manipulate for their own gain, along with people who intrude upon my life without my consent (I've had a few very nice religious discussions that I was quite willing to participate in) to attempt to change my beliefs.

Those people, I really want to beat.