Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tournament!

Yesterday was the kid's Special Olympics softball tournament. I actually remembered the camera (!) so have a bunch of pictures to share...

R up to bat...

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Unfortunately, she was tagged out at second and didn't make it home...

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M's turn...



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He made it all the way home!



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I love the next two pictures... They were taken, literally, two minutes apart.

The first is R's "you've got to be kidding, Mom" face when I said I was going to take her picture. The second is the same child (can you believe it?!) just moments later when her friend S came to be in the picture too.

I'll probably use the first picture to blackmail her in some way when she's older...

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All in all it was a great day and a wonderful time was had by all.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

poor Tucker

... was feeling a bit puny today.


The vet came and floated his teeth this morning.

It was a sad and puzzling experience for a little donkey who prides himself on his wildness.

He was locked in a stall, stuck in the neck with a needle and was surprised to find himself, shortly afterwards, feeling very sleepy and unsteady on his feet.  Then a total stranger (a total stranger! Tucker never lets a stranger anywhere within 10' of him!!) put a miserable contraption on his face so his mouth could no longer close, squirted him with water, then made his whole head shake with big nasty metal thing that buzzed and scraped at his teeth.

He would have run away... and he did make a couple of half-hearted attempts to escape...

...but his eyes were a little blurry, his brain a little fuzzy, and his feet weren't moving the way he wanted them to... and somehow it just didn't seem worth the trouble to work hard enough to push his way out through the open stall door.

Finally the stranger took the big tool out of his mouth and removed the  miserable contraption from his face. He stuck Tucker again and Tucker started feeling a little more awake again. (No doubt wondering, as the fuzzies began clearing from his brain, what in the world had just happened to him!)

No.. it was not a good day for Tucker.

I was happy though... not only are his teeth in good shape again, but our vet gave us his first ever "good boy" discount because Tucker ended up being so easy to work with!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thank you rain...

Yes, you make my roof leak... a little... when the wind is just right (or just wrong!)... but you also carpet my pasture with an ever changing riot of wildflowers.

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God must like my pasture decorated primarily in yellow with lavender accents... Did you notice that? I think it's a very nice color scheme...

...it goes beautifully with all the green. ;)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

the back pasture

With all the rain we've had, our back pasture is lush and green...

... for Colorado. Our average yearly precipitation is somewhere around 15"... it can be DRY here. But we've had a lot of rain lately and the pasture looks great. We don't work this land at all (growing hay etc) it's only use is pasture for Murphy and Tucker. And we are careful about how much they graze out there, in dry years it's not very often... in wet years several times a week. I have to limit them to make sure they don't graze the pasture down too far and damage the fragile prairie grasses.

There is a row of evergreens (hazy in the early  morning light) on the east side of the pasture. It's a favorite place for deer to bed down...

Looking above those trees, in the distance, is a line of trees on a hill. I love the way that line of trees looks silhouetted against the sky... they appear to be lined up perfectly on the crest of the hill.  (Although, if I was right up next to them I'd probably find that they aren't... )

Sadly, there are in an area that burned in a prairie fire last summer and they are all dead now.  But the ground that had been burned black all around them and down the hill since last summer is now lush and green again.

On the west side of the pasture our land just rolls into the neighbor's land, and there is a stand of huge ponderosa pines straddling the fence line.

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 A deep gully splits the back pasture in two from east to west... it is a favorite place for deer to graze and play (and coyotes to hunt). Often in the early morning I'll see several young deer running and chasing each other up and down the hills. In the winter the sides of the gully make dandy sledding hills.

This back pasture is my favorite part of our land. It's never been worked, plowed, manicured, landscaped, or anything but just natural prairie. And with all the rain it's especially beautiful right now.

One last picture - wildflowers scattered across the back pasture...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Making Yogurt

I'm so tired of pulling and chopping weeds I could scream, so I decided it was a good day for inside kinds of work.

So first thing this morning I started working on tightening all of R's locs. It's something that has to be done every couple of weeks or so, as her hair grows, and it takes a good hour or two depending on how much work her locs need.

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I love R's hair this way. The locs are mostly all locked now, and her hair looks and feels so soft and natural. Once her hair grows a bit more and we can trim the straightened hair off the ends, it will be easier to see the locs. I've been braiding the locs around her face into a "headband" to keep her hair out of her face... She also pulls them all back into ponytails or a bun, and we curl them sometimes. I'm so glad her hair is locked, I just wish we had done it years ago!


While I worked on her hair, I started a batch of yogurt. I've been eating store bought for awhile (feeling too busy to take the time to make homemade) but decided today was the perfect day to replenish my supply of homemade yogurt.

The recipe I follow is super easy and has turned out well each time I've made it. I start by heating a (scant) gallon or so of milk on the stove. I just use as much milk as will fit in my dutch oven without filling it too full, and I use the milk we regularly have, which is skim, and it seems to work fine... although I've been told that my yogurt would turn out thicker if I used richer milk. I'm fine with the consistency so I'm going to keep using skim.

I heat the milk (stirring frequently) on low heat, to 180 F, then turn off the heat and let it cool to 110 F.

Once it cools down to 110 F, I add my starter. I use store bought yogurt (plain, with active yogurt cultures) for starter... I measure it into 1/2 cup dollops, and then freeze it so I always have some starter when I need it. So far this method has worked fine. I take a 1/2 cup of frozen yogurt from the freezer and let it thaw while I'm heating and cooling the milk.

Since the yogurt needs to be kept at a fairly uniformly warm temperature, I use my hot water canner to "incubate" the yogurt. I fill the canner with enough water to come to the shoulder of my quart canning jars and heat the water to 110 F.

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I put my milk/yogurt culture mix into quart jars and once the water in the canner hits 110, I add my jars. (Yes, I reused some can lids... but since I'm not really "canning" and the yogurt is going to kept in the refrigerator... not on the shelf... I don't see any reason to use new ones each time.)


They need to be kept at about 110 F for 6-8 hours, so I just keep my canner on the stove, turning the stove on low from time to time to keep the water the right temperature. I found that 5 minutes or so of low heat every 45 minutes to an hour keeps the temperature about right... I do use the thermometer though too... just to make sure.)

It's an all day process (remembering to check the water temperature and heat it back up when needed) but the results are wonderful... four quarts of fresh, delicious yogurt (At a cost of less than $2.00!) My favorite breakfast is a bowl of plain yogurt fancied up with a little honey and raisins. Mmmmm...

Friday, July 15, 2011

waging war!

I haven't been on the computer much this week. We've been outside every day (when it isn't pouring rain, that is...), waging war on a sneaky pest that is trying to take over my back pasture.

That pest is the Canadian Thistle.

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It's identified as a "noxious weed" here in Colorado... and noxious is an excellent word to describe it... before you even realize what is happening, it can spread and take over a whole pasture!

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I'm trying to get them all pulled (or chopped off) before the flowers to go seed. With the kid's help we are making good progress... there is only one not-too-big sized patch of them left on the property.  (They had been growing in the low spots... the bottom of the gully, the dry lake bed, etc.)

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This pile in the driveway is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we've pulled and chopped... We've got about twice a much still down in the gully waiting to be hauled up.

Except for these thistles (which are almost gone), the pastures are just beautiful right now... filled with wildflowers. M even found one today that smelled like cherry lifesavers. (He said it tasted like a cherry lifesaver too, and then I reminded him not to eat plants that he doesn't know... for sure... are food!)

Oh... the rain has stopped... time to head back outside and pull a few more of these miserable, stickery, things!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pumpkin Therapy

So.... the pdoc still hasn't called or replied to my last two emails. With the increase in one of his meds M is better in some ways but worse in others.

I'm going to have to track the pdoc down today and try to pry some advice out of him.

I'm irritated and frustrated with the pdoc so I spent some time this morning in therapy...

... in the pumpkin patch.

I was on my way back from the barn when I decided to stop and pull just a few weeds before heading inside... but one thing led to another and next thing I knew I'd spent a good 30 minutes down on my knees in the wet mulch and mud (it rained like crazy last night) pulling weeds.

I only came inside because it was getting late enough in the morning that M might be waking up and I needed to be in the house and showered before he started moving around. My barn pants were so heavy with water and dirt by the time I was done that I had to hold them up like a long skirt to keep from leaving muddy drag marks as I walked through the house.

I do love growing pumpkins... I love the way they vine around, the huge, sunshiny yellow flowers, and the promise of pumpkins in the fall.

Last year we had pumpkins to eat, to freeze, to carve and to give away. We had so many pumpkins that we invited the kids in the neighborhood to come pick a halloween pumpkin and even had a "free pumpkin" stand. It was so fun to watch the kids go through the patch, carefully picking their halloween pumpkins, and we even met a few neighbors we hadn't met before. :)

I've planted extra this year just to be able to have a pick your own pumpkin patch again...

  (the last few pumpkins last year...)

Sigh... enough about pumpkins, I suppose it's time to go and start trying to track down the pdoc again.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I got up this morning... (a short pdoc rant)

... and the first thing I did, after the barn work, was email M's pdoc.

I almost NEVER email M's pdoc...  He's ok, but we've never "clicked" and honestly... unlike M's old pdoc, he seems not to give a d*** in terms of M's day to day ups and downs, so there is seldom any reason to contact him. M's sees him every few months, he writes a bunch of prescriptions, and that's about the extent of it.

M's pdoc is great when it's life and death though... There have been a couple of times since he took over M's care that the situation was literally life and death and he jumped right in and was available, helpful, and kept with it until the crisis had passed.

But if it's not life and death he really doesn't have time for it.

This is the third time I've emailed the pdoc in the past month...  letting him know that M's hallucinations had significantly increased and his insight* had decreased. The pdoc called me after the first email, but didn't offer any suggestions or advice. He never responded to the second email.

M had another serious "disconnect" on Friday and I decided I needed to do something... (lots of hallucinations with poor insight is a poor and risky combination)... so I increased his haldol. I let the pdoc know about the change in this morning's email and asked (again) for direction.

I know I'm very lucky to have a pdoc for M... especially one specially trained in child/adolescent psychiatry and with the knowledge and experience M's pdoc has.

And I know this pdoc (who also works at one of the state hospitals)  probably has, at any given time, MANY patients with schizophrenia who are hallucinating and have poor insight.

But I have only ONE child with schizophrenia who is hallucinating and struggling with insight and I would really appreciate the pdoc taking the situation somewhat seriously!

Ok.... end of rant.



*Insight, from Wikipedia:

In psychology and psychiatry, insight can mean the ability to recognize one's own mental illness.[1] This form of insight has multiple dimensions, such as recognizing the need for treatment, and recognizing consequences of one's behavior as stemming from an illness.[2] A person with very poor recognition or acknowledgment is referred to as having "poor insight" or "lack of insight." The most extreme form is Anosognosia, which is the total absence of insight into one's own mental illness. Many mental illnesses are associated with varying levels of insight. For example, people with obsessive compulsive disorder and various phobias tend to have relatively good insight that they have a problem and that their thoughts and/or actions are unreasonable, yet are compelled to carry out the thoughts and actions regardless.[3] Patients with Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and various psychotic conditions tend to have very poor awareness that anything is wrong with them.[4]