Thursday, March 30, 2006

We're Getting Better

Thought you might like to see what a sick banjo player looks like:

I guess banjo players don't stop for anything! (This is our son Jonathan, 15).

Monday, March 27, 2006

Porcupine 101

Yesterday was a rather eventful day in our household. First of all, it was our oldest son's 15th birthday. It was a bit tough to muster up a lot of festive feelings, as most of our family is still down with flu symptoms. Thankfully Jonathan has escaped, and we are asking the Lord to continue to keep him healthy.

During Jonathan's call from Grandpa and Grammy Bartlett we discovered our 8 month old German Shepherd had come running to the house with his mouth area covered with porcupine quills! Amazing, our other dog (hyper Selah) didn't have a single quill on her -- she tends to be the one who gets Samson all excited and he does the deeds. Samson must have tried to grab the thing, as the quills were on his lips and just inside the roof of the mouth, with only one on his tongue and nose. Poor thing! I had thought of taking a photo for posterity's sake, but decided he was in too much pain to even consider such a thing. Jim, Jonathan and Peter got busy right away and started the pulling process, cutting the top of the quill first, then pulling them out. (We had heard that was the way to do it, but while this was going on I checked a veterinarian website and they didn't mention doing it that way.)

Poor Samson; we knew it hurt terribly, but never once did he growl or try to bite anyone, although it took quite a bit to wrestle him down and get him to hold still. He sure was glad to be free of the quills, and very thankful for lots of cool water to drink. He certainly was back to his normal self last night, as he kept many of us up with barking and howling at the coyotes. They were very close last night.

The Turtle Mountains have lots of wildlife, and that means lots of porcupines and skunks. (I am NOT excited at Samson's first encounter with a skunk. Selah found one last fall that must have been near the house; when it sprayed I could almost taste it in the house!) A little over a year ago the boys encountered a porcupine while exploring the territory, and came running back with Selah on a rope to tie her up and keep her from getting quilled. They went back to shoot and bury the thing, taking a handful of quills as booty (farmers around here want you to kill porcupines, as they cause problems with their animals). I reminded the boys that my niece Sarah was into quilling, and she would probably appreciate the quills from them as a wedding present. They decided not to dig up the now deceased one but look for another. So, the hunt was on.

The next porcupine they found was up in an aspen tree. I think Peter shot that one, but the carcass fell into the fork of the tree and wouldn't come down! They tried all kinds of things to get it down, but no success. We even checked after a major windstorm -- it still didn't come down! Needless to say, what is left of the porcupine after a year is still in the tree, and not even the turkey buzzards are interested in it! We have yet to find some nice quills for Sarah.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Plenty of Challenges

Life's a bit of a challenge for me lately .... I thought we were all over this sickness, but it came once again like a wave. Thankfully our youngest is starting to feel better, but this week that little ball of energy has done a lot of sleeping without my prompting. He has a touch of some fluid in one of his lungs, so we will have to stay on top of that. Now my 9-year-old is coming down with the flu, and I'm not happy! My husband and oldest son left early yesterday for 2 days of working with Worldview Weekend, and will be back late tonight. I have quite a few symptoms myself, so the boys and I have done lots of resting.

Making the change from antibiotics and over the counter medications to natural remedies sure has been a challenge. I'm so thankful to have our friend Paulette around to direct me in their use. I'm hoping to be able to confidently tell someone else that natural remedies work -- just give them enough time to allow them to do so. It's been interesting to read that prescription medicines have been derived from the medicinal properties in plants and herbs; so why shouldn't we be taking them instead of synthetic drugs?

Back to cleaning up.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Changing Directions

I happened to read today's post by KS Milkmaid this afternoon, and could totally relate to her entry. Today has been "one of those days." I thought we had pretty much gotten over all the sickness in our house last week, but the onslaught was renewed yesterday when our youngest developed another bout with the flu. Needless to say, there are many days when planning goes out the window.

After an almost sleepless night (David and I watched the movement of the moon through the windows in our living room area) I spent the morning utilizing the cream we skimmed from raw milk on Sunday to make butter and buttermilk. I figured I'd better do something with it, as I had left it on the table yesterday to warm it up before attempting the process (and never got it done), and was afraid it would spoil if I waited much longer. So, in between trying to keep David comfortable, doing laundry, making lunch and various other items I worked on the butter.

I don't know how my Grandma ever did it; my Mom has related stories of how she had to keep house for my Grandpa and their 6 children, wash milk bottles (they had a dairy and delivered milk), tend her garden and chickens (she sold them on the milk route, and that was what she had for her household income), do sewing and mending, and keep her sanity -- with no running water or sewer in the house. And sometimes I feel sorry for myself! I wish I would have known Grandma better, but we were offspring of the youngest child in the family and I had 26 first cousins that were all eager for her attention. She was just too busy surviving to be able to spend much time with each one of us. I guess I remember her more in the later years after Grandpa and Grandma moved off the farm and into a tiny little house. I wish I could go back to those days and ask her how she did it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Happenings Around Home

We had a peaceful night last night, first time since we arrived home from the homeschool convention. What a blessing! However, because of sleeping so soundly I missed the warning sound of hot water running into a metal pail behind our wood stove, and awoke in the morning to a good portion of our entryway/area by the wood stove covered in water. I'm not well versed in the workings of my husband's apparatus for heating all of our water in/on the wood stove, but apparently the water became too hot and escaped through the safety valve. I guess it's better than exploding, but it certainly made a mess. Once again, I'm thankful for a cement floor!

Yesterday I took 3 of our boys over to our friend Paulette's, and helped Paulette and Steve (alias Mountain Fire Keeper) plant seeds and also transplant other seedlings. It was a fun afternoon for us. We planted a lot of herbs: Lemon Balm, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Chamomile, Bergamot, Rue, Oregano, Spearmint, Fennel, Pyrethrum, Sage, Catnip and Cumin. We also helped to plant celery(what tiny seeds!), cucumbers, and about 4 varieties of tomatoes. The boys helped plant my cloves of garlic that had started growing as well. Hopefully they will all germinate and grow. Paulette has a wonderful southern exposure in the health center, with a low cement wall used for gathering the sun's heat; it is perfect for starting seeds. She is already enjoying lettuce and spinach that was planted earlier, and what a treat to have a taste myself. We also transplanted some tiny seedlings, but the only one I can remember is Foxglove. Steve took a digital recording of Paulette pruning and starting geraniums, which will probably be incorporated along with the seed starting into the next Country Living Skills video.

We have a friend that has completed 4 years of study to become an herbalist (I'm not sure that is what he would be called), and makes his own extracts. He told my son that the extracts we purchased and have been using from our food coop are rather weak, and so he makes his own. I hope he will teach me how to make my own extracts, as purchasing them can become quite expensive. There is so much I can learn from him. I am once again amazed at how God has placed us in such a place, where we can learn not only to become more self sufficient, but how to care for physical needs we may encounter along the way. Our life here in the Turtle Mountains is becoming more interesting all the time!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Blessings in Disguise

Last night our son Peter was up being sick. I felt so badly for him, but there wasn't much I could do to help. Instead, I walked into the lightless living room area to wait until he was able to head back to bed. What I found was a real winter wonderland! There was almost a full moon out, and the little ice crystals in the snow were sparkling all over the ground. It was beautiful! I surely wouldn't have needed a flashlight to find my way around outside. It was so nice to be able to enjoy the night sky.

I'm not that anxious to repeat the performance tonight, but there is a full moon out so it will most likely be just as beautiful. Our son Andrew is wanting to avoid being sick at all costs, so he asked if he could sleep on the couch. He will be the one tonight enjoying the wonders of the full moon. It may be a long night anyway, since our son David came down with flu symptoms this afternoon. If I am up, at least I can enjoy the night sky with Andrew.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Recovering from the Homeschool Convention

Our family returned home after 4 jam packed days at the North Dakota Home School Assoc.'s convention. Living out of travel totes and sleeping in a hotel room was really no different for us than living here -- we live out of Rubbermaid containers and share the same sleeping area! It was nice, though, to have a solid door on the bathroom at the hotel instead of hanging quilts at home!

The convention was small, but must have been what many people needed, as the evaluations from attendees were for the most part filled with good comments. The convention coordinator only had 6 months to put it together, and she did a wonderful job. Mark Hamby was the keynote speaker, and people were thrilled with his sessions. I only made it to 2 of the 5 sessions, as there was just too much to do to get in there and listen. I didn't meet Mr. Hamby until the convention was over, and he told me he was planning on coming up and going hunting some time. There must have been some discussion going on between Mr. Hamby and my husband! Maybe he will just forget about it! My dream for the future is to have an area in the house set up specifically for guests, but it certainly will be a long time before anyone staying with us gets anything but the pull out couch!

Unfortunately -- in spite of all of our precautions -- this morning our son Peter came down with the flu. At least he was able to hold off on throwing up until we got home, but was pretty miserable. This is so frustrating for me, as the record now stands at 4 years in a row that one of our family members has contracted the flu at the end of/on the way home/as soon as we get home from the convention. March is such a bad month for colds and flu in our area. I guess it doesn't help that we stay up later and visit with lots of people while at convention, and are probably allowing ourselves to become run down. Hopefully Peter will be on the mend soon, and no one else will become sick. We have lots to do this week, as our seeds came in the mail while we were gone and Sunday is the next Country Living Skills workshop.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Animals in the House

It has been a very busy week, as I expected it would be. Now if we can just make it through next week, we will be doing great! March 9-11 is the ND Home School Assn. Convention, and I have been helping with the multitude of details that need to be worked through before next Thurs.

On top of all that craziness, our dog Selah decided to go into heat. I am not from a farming background, and although we had a dog when I was growing up, I had been oblivious to all of these events. We also have a male German Shepherd; Samson is 7 months old, and terribly interested in her. This all came at a very busy time, since we are so immersed in convention details. We didn't have a chance to think through what should be done. Needless to say, Selah has for the time being become a house dog.

Before we moved up here I stated very emphatically that I would not have a cat in the house unless there were signs of mice; there has been nothing of the sort, but now we have a cat in the house. It's my own doing, as this particular cat was born late in the season and when we got him I felt he was too little to be out in the cold with the rest of our cats. We don't have a barn or shed yet, but the boys have constructed what we call the cat house, and it seems to be more than adequate for the cats to curl up in together when it gets really cold outside. I must admit it has been fun to have Funny Face (named by our 6-year-old) inside, but I still have an aversion to litter boxes.

And now comes Selah inside the house. Not a good place for a high energy Border Collie cross! When she needs to go outside, we bring in Samson. This has been quite an experience for us! My poor husband is allergic to dogs, so he has been doing lots of sneezing. I guess this is one of those times when I'm thankful to live in a basement and have bare concrete floors -- they are much easier to clean up than carpeting!