Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm Back. Tough Times Indeed.

This will be a short and sweet post.  But, I'm back and I'm ready to start posting again.  It's been a tumultuous several months.  Long story short, Amy's back was hurting a lot when in Mexico and her July PET scan showed spinal tumors.  The VA moved terribly slow getting consults finished to do surgery but said they were confident they could remove the tumors.  They weren't certain they were melanoma, but were pretty positive considering her history.  Well, she went back to Arkansas to visit friends (she was born there) and I was to fly in a week after.  My parents drove her in their RV because she was not really up to flying.  Well, while out there, she had a pleural effusion and was hospitalized for about a week at the Little Rock VA Hospital.  Her family then turned against me when Amy was very ill (long story... just say judgmental VERY rigid Christian outlook... not the type of Christianity we try and practice) and tried to keep her there.  Somehow, I got her on a plane and wheel-chaired her between flight changes and she took enough pain medication (which she hates) to make it back to San Diego.  Then, we find out because of the procedure Little Rock performed from the pleural effusion that she was not able to have the surgery.  So, they said the tumors are now inoperable - that was about a month and a half ago and they gave her 4 to 6 months to live.  Then the pain started - really bad pain and she was on more morphine but still agonizing but not wanting to take more medication cause she hates how it makes her feel in the head.  She is on a medication now and also went to a holistic treatment facility in Mexico (the Biomedical Hoxsey clinic) she has been wanting to go to for about 5 years.  She has tons of supplements to take daily, and the diet is somewhat restrictive, but she is diligent.  I am doing a lot of caretaking.  Some days are good, some are quite bad.  She has lost a lot of weight and is pretty frail but we are still positive.

On another awful note, a friend who I thought was one of my very good friends ended up being a thief and a con artist.  She was a high school friend of mine and we had been getting to know one another very well for over 2 years (or so I thought).  She owned a farm in Illinois and was somewhat well off (or so I thought).  Her daughter attended college at USD and went overseas and my "friend" called me asking me for help because her husband's briefcase was stolen and all their credit cards had been cancelled by their fraud protection company (so she said).  I offered to help via my credit card (which has had a zero balance for 6 years because I DO NOT use credit cards) and I naively gave her my number thinking she was a very good friend.  Long story short, she maxed my credit card out at over $17K and the credit card company said I was liable since I gave the number out.  Didn't matter that I only authorized one purchase (hotel for daughter in Greece).  So, now I am having to make pretty hefty payments for things I did not buy.  I can't do anything legally, cause I've been told it's a "civil suit".  Turns out she and her husband both have felonies against them and this is not the first time they have done this.  They are very good at what they do.

As far as our living situation, things aren't so good.  We had to leave our Joshua Tree home and go to San Diego because that is where her medical care is (no care nearby Joshua Tree).  Since we can't sell our home and have a mortgage payment and an unexpected credit card payment, and having to live on my income alone, we are having to stay with friends.  Not so great for someone who has stage 4 cancer, but I have a wonderful friend who was a co-worker and she lives 3 blocks from the ocean in San Diego.  So, we are staying there for now.  We can't stay at my parents cause there home is in escrow and they are in between homes.  We have opted "not to do Christmas" this year and this is hard for me as I love the holidays this year and was planning this year to have a lot of homemade and canned gifts to give people.

Our animals are all safe and in wonderful homes but our "family" is spread out all over.  The chickens and Jack the rooster have a great foster home on 5 acres in San Diego where they can free range during the day with more than just desert sand!  Bugs and greens.  My horse is at a good friend's house and she has 3 other horses on 9 acres and she is spoiled.  My boxer Sherman and Pug CJ are at a good friend's home and she has 2 other dogs.  We have Troy the Chiahuahua cause he is calm and the only dog that Amy can really handle right now.  Sherman the Boxer is good but our crazy young Pug CJ and he are a team and need to be kept together.

So, prayers are asked for!!  Our home is for sale in Joshua Tree and if we can sell it then I can get a rental in San Diego.  Amy has applied for social security for her cancer but we don't know when that will come.  All we want is a home of our own and to be able to have all our animals on the same property.  All we want is Amy's good health.

Well, that's the gist of our situation.  I wish I had better news.  I have been reluctant to post anything for so long because things have been rather bleak, but for some reason I feel I'm ready now.  I'm always hopeful and always positive.  I hope for all of you that you're doing well and getting ready for Christmas with family and friends.  Hope the canning jars are full and gifts you made are ready to be given!  I'll be at it this next year.  Hope I haven't lost all my followers.  I know it's been a while.  Well, it feels good just to write.  As a caregiver, I've been pretty isolated and I felt myself starting to sink a bit.  No more - gonna watch myself.  Bye for now and it will not be nearly as long until the next post!  Regularly, I hope.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Still Making the Transition (with an RV Trip to Mexico in Between!)

Hi all - hope you haven't forgotten about me!  I haven't forgotten about the blog it's just that life has really become busy and a bit complicated!  But, things are going to work out.  We actually took a vacation.  We drove the RV 850 miles south of the border to Loreto, Mexico.  Amy loves fishing so we fished, clammed and snorkeled.  Took the dogs down with us as well and it was great.  We stayed at one place on the way back out in the middle of nowhere.  A family owns the property and it used to be a stop for travelers before the main gas stations were put in place.  They would get gas and sell by the gallon and have people stay overnight if they wanted and make meals, too.  We were the only ones there and it was $7 to stay.  The place was a ranch and there were horses and a few cows all around us free ranging with palm trees and boulders.  It was beautiful!  Not a sound.  Some folks would say the family was so poor, but they are sooo rich in so many ways.
Amy with her Dorado

Our spot at the ranch

One night on the Sea of Cortez

 We are still making the transition to move to San Diego for a couple years where Amy can get clean pet scans.  The house is on the market and I have filled one day a week in my San Diego office and am opening up my second day of the week tomorrow.  I also have a new website being done for my work in San Diego and that will help.  It should be completed in about a week.  Yay!

Amy was supposed to get her pet scan yesterday but ended up in the ER instead!  She was in a tremendous amount of pain and they think she has a pinched nerve.  They have rescheduled her scan for next Tuesday and I will be relieved when that is over and we get good news regarding the results.

Mamma hen decided she wanted to go broody again and 3 chicks hatched Monday!  The sad part is that 3 hens disappeared while I was away and we found a hawk in waiting in the big tree above where they like to go.  So, they now have to stay in their run.  I'm bummed about that as they loved having the whole property and the trees to go under.  But, the hawk is watching and waiting.  My beautiful Barred Plymouth Rock (Miss Osie) and 2 Rhode Island Reds (including Gertie) were taken. 

Well, that's my update!  Lots going on.  The commute is getting hard as it's 2 hours and 40 minutes each way and I'm having to go down every week now.  But, we know it has to get harder before it gets better! 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer is Here!

Well, it's getting warm out here in the desert.  Yesterday, it reached 105 degrees!  Ugh.  The chickens are managing.  I let them out to free range during the day since the coyotes are long gone during the heat of the day.  They love to go under the trees and take cool dust baths.  They are out pretty much from 10 till 5 or so.  Lucky girls!

Our move is still happening but it will just be slow.  First off, we have a trip to Mexico to take!  Amy is driving the RV down with two other RV's with friends and family on board.  They will go about 15 or so hours driving south to Loreto.  They leave the 28th of this month and I fly down the 8th of July for a week and then we all drive back together.  Looking forward to the getaway!!  The dogs are even going!  Ha ha.  Amy, being from a farm, loves the fishing and snorkeling down there.  I don't eat fish, but just love being away.  But, we'll have wifi and I'll be sure and have a couple posts while away!

I'm also working on getting my private practice back in San Diego.  I was surprised that after I contacted a couple former clients they wanted to return so I've filled one day in San Diego and if this holds will soon be opening day two so the transition has started.  A new website is in process, facebook and twitter pages for work, the whole deal.  Definitely have to jump into the "techno game" there due to the competition.  But, that's okay. 

I went to the San Diego County Fair last week with a friend and her daughter.  It was great fun.  They had the poultry exhibition and I saw some beautiful breeds in person I had only heard and saw pictures of before.  The Frizzles and true heritage Rhode Island Red were my favorites.  When I make my move, I hope to have a REAL Rhode Island Red instead of the Production Reds that the hatcheries pass on.

The garden is producing a lot of chard and a couple pickling cucumbers.  The soil is still just not right.  But, I am done trying.  Four years I gave it my best shot.  It will be a snap down in rural San Diego.  Great soil.

Hope everyone is well and thank you so much for continuing to follow me!!  I am not going to stop this blog and will get it up to full swing again after all this change has passed.  Soooo much going on!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Big Change

Wow, too much time has gone by since my last post!  I have been very busy and pretty stressed.  Because of Amy's medical situation and since her medical care is in San Diego, we have decided we need to go back to San Diego for now.  At least for a couple of years - we're hoping to get all clean Pet Scans for that time and then we'll be more comfortable leaving the area.  Well, we can't sell the house because of the market so we are getting it ready to rent.  I hate to rent it, and hope we don't get someone that wrecks it up.  We have done sooo much to it!  But, we have to take the chance.  We won't live in San Diego central but will have to be 30 minutes to an hour away from downtown in the rural areas.  We will have to rent a home there and it will be very challenging since we're going down with Noah's Ark.  Yep, I'm taking all the chickens, the horse and three dogs.  I'm having to re-advertise in San Diego and am trying to bring my business back up there.  It will be a gradual transition as I drop a day of work in my private practice here in Joshua Tree and take on an additional day in San Diego.  For those of you who don't know, I'm a mental health therapist in private practice.  So, you all can imagine the stress with trying to rent the house, build up a business, rent out our house and transition all the animals.  We are getting things into motion now.  Don't know the timeline but will keep everyone updated!  So, I hope you excuse absence the past week or so now that you know what has been going on!

Friday, May 20, 2011

How do you make a bunch of 40-something year old gals happy??

More time went by between posts than I realized!  Well, there are lots of changes going on but I'll get to that next post.  This one has nothing to do with chickens, horses, gardening, canning or anything of the sort.  This is just telling you all something that's going to happen this summer... with twelve 40-something year women who used to go to high school together in San Diego.  I have a friend who I used to go to high school with who now owns a farm in Illinois.  Her husband writes songs for Sony and has some Los Angeles "connections".  Since I was in 14, I have had a favorite band.  I went and saw them 13 times in concert throughout my life.  Even got back stage at 16 and got all their autographs.  They are often thought of as only pop, but their beginnings were quite raw in the Los Angeles punk scene when I started following them.  They put on and incredible show.  They are a lot of things, but mostly they are FUN.  I still feel like I'm 16 when I hear their music and haven't seen them in concert for several years.  So, what is gonna happen on August 17th??  Well, my friend and her husband got 12 tickets to a concert... and we invited 10 more friends.  Oh, but this is just the beginning! 

It's the Go-Go's!!  Not only 12 tickets, but 8 FRONT ROW CENTER tickets and 4 second row tickets at the incredible outdoor Greek Theater in Los Angeles.  Oh, there's more!!  Since most people live in San Diego and some along the coast before Los Angeles, they also got a Sony stretch limousine that "comfortably seats 15" which will pick each of us up individually along the way and drop us off at our friend's home which is about 10 minutes from the Greek Theater.  Drink and appetizer orders will be taken from everyone 48 hours before the limo ride.  We will have a great BBQ and dinner at my friend's in LA, go to the concert and have a sleepover.  The following morning, the limousine will take us all back to San Diego.

So, a bunch of us girls who have loosely kept in touch, still really like each other, but haven't been around one another in many years are going to all get together and get crazy like we're kids again.  As one friend said, "let your freak flags fly!!". We've all gone through different things over the years and we all need this night for very different reasons.  Some just need to have a good time cause they have the blues, some have gone through health scares, one is currently going through chemotherapy, some are stressed and tired, but we all are still linked and need to have a great time.  Oh, what a night it's gonna be.  August 17th can't come quickly enough!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Still Here!!

Wow, too much time has gone by since my last post!  I try to put one out once a week.  Thank you everyone for your comments and encouragment.  I soo enjoy the comments. 

We have been so busy lately.  Busy with work, work around the house and just keeping up with things.  The chickens are doing well and one of the two roosters is going to a new home this Friday where he will be "king of a new coop".  A couple in town have a new flock of hens which are only about a week older than my little ones.  I hope to be able to get a home for my one other rooster also.  I had a hen (the same one!!) that went broody about a week and  a half ago, she sat for about 3 days and then broke her brood and was ill.  I thought I was going to lose her but she bounced back and is as good as new now!  I gave her Citricidal in her water and raw, organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar.  I have done a lot of reading on Citricidal and it has been shown to be very effective as a natural type of antibiotic.  It is made from grapefruit seed and is the extract.  Even the USDA stated that it is effective for bird flu and other ailments and for them to say a natural remedy is effective, you know it must be!  I was disappointed she broke her brood as I was looking forward to more chicks, but am just glad she is well now!

Spring has been cold here and the winds have been strong.  Today was a high of 67 and that is so strange for the middle of May!  Normally, it's already hot.  But, I'm not complaining as I am not a fan of summer here.  But, I am complaining about the winds.  It seems like for two weeks now it's been nothing but windy - strong winds!

The garden is disappointing but there is some chard that is growing well.  Most everything else just seems to be stunted.  I have no idea what is wrong.  Since I sent my soil to a lab to be tested and added exactly what they suggested, I'm out of ideas at this point.  Not being able to have a garden is one of the difficult things about being in the desert.  I'm hoping things turn around for the other things planted, but I'm not getting my hopes up!

Well, that is my update!  I hope all is well for everyone and that you all are enjoying a nice spring.  I hope that those of you who are being effected by the heavy rains and storms are safe and well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Progress at Last!

I can't believe the shop is essentially finished!  All that needs to be completed is paining the faschia.  I finished the electrical, put the trim up and we have it roofed.  We did hire a young guy to do the sheetrock while we left for the weekend.  It was great to come home and not see exposed studs and insulation any more!  So, I'm slowly starting to move my tools in.  Yay!  On Easter, I drove down to San Diego to suprise my family with a visit and my dad gave me two more tools - a nice router table with a high quality router.  I have a router, but no router table and now I can keep one handy for hand use and keep the table one set up for use without having to change the router in and out.  He also gave me a nice quality board planer!  This is cool.  Now, I can take boards and set them to whatever thickness I want and run them through the planer.  The other thing he is giving me I couldn't get in the car and I'll have to get it later.  A really nice quality Grizzly drill press.  Wow, my lucky weekend!

 I have a lot of stuff sitting on the floor right now because I need storage mounted on the walls.  I'm trying to find some kitchen cupboards from someone doing a remodel and who are getting rid of their cabinets.  I think they make much better shop storage than shelves.  So, I'm on the hunt for that!  The next thing we will start is the attached carport.  That's phase 2.  One thing at a time.

The not so baby chickens are doing great!  I can't believe they are 9 weeks old today!  Looks like I have found a home for one of the roosters and I'm working on the finding a home for the other one.  I'm waiting just a bit longer to make sure they really are roosters, but I'm pretty certain. All four are very healthy and doing great.  It's exciting to know that I'll have raised the hens from birth (well, momma hen did) and that I will have seen them all the way from being IN an egg to laying eggs!

I've started insulating the coop for the hot summer approaching.  I know - spoiled chickens!  I think they need all the help they can get.  Last summer it got up to 112 and it's hard on them.  So, I'm insulating all the walls and ceiling and hoping that will help them some.  You will really think I'm off my rocker when I tell you I saw a portable evaporative cooler (swamp cooler that uses virtually no energy and cools great in places like the desert with very low humidity) good for rooms 100sf or less for under $100.  I'm thinking of putting it in their coop, pointing the draft away from them and towards the wall and cooling their coop.  Jury is still out on that one.  
I also think I may have solved my squirrel problem.  I buy organic layer feed at $23.75 and the squirrels were feasting on it!  I bought what is basically a treadle feeder from ebay at a great price and it looks like it's working.  The squirrels are too light to open the feeder, but the chickens can.  I haven't seen a squirrel in there for a few days but here's one from about a week ago panicking and trying to find a way out of the run!

I was getting very frustrated with the garden's lack of progress with soil testing, building the structure, etc, but the last couple of days seem to be showing promise!  It has been unusually cold here this Spring and I think it just hasn't been warm enough.  We've had a week or so of warm and what did manage to sprout seem to be taking off now.  I'm gonna monitor and hopefully I'll have something worth taking pictures of very soon!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Palm Springs Tram to San Jacinto Mountains for the Weekend!!!

view towards desert floor

Sunday was Amy's birthday and instead of a gift, I decided to give a "day".  About 45 minutes down the mountain is Palm Springs, CA.  It was in the 90's on Sunday down there and in the 80's up where we live.  At the base of the San Jacinto Mountain range in Palm Springs, there is a tram that takes you up to 8500 feet in a rotating tram car.  I thought it would be fun, but we had a blast!!  The tram car had some open windows and the ride, views and experience were fantastic!  We went from mid hot desert in the mid 90's to snow and forest in less than 15 minutes.  It's just what we needed.  Surprisingly, even though a lot of people take the tram, visit the restaurant, bar and lodge on the mountain and go on the "nature walk", very few took real hikes and we saw virtually nobody while hiking.  There are miles and miles of trails and some campgrounds to hike into (no cars) and if you go far enough there are some U.S. Forestry lands with primitive back country camping available.  We hiked for almost 3 hours, lost the trail due to the snow, but went off trail heading back to the origination since we were taking a loop and did find the orignal trail.  Even though there was snow, we were able to hike in warm weather clothes cause it was almost 70 degrees.  Nice!  After spending most of the day there, we took the tram back to the desert floor and stopped by a casino in Palm Springs, spent about 15 minutes there and won about $10.  We then went to our favorite Palm Springs restaurant called "Native Foods" which is all vegan and mostly organic.  Delicious!  Came back up to our home and watched a big, beautiful almost full orange moon rise over the mountains just before sunset.  The sunset was spectacular also as there were a lot of high, thin clouds.  So, my plan to give Amy a great day was a huge success!!  For anyone who comes to visit Palm Springs, the tram is a MUST!

Approaching the Lodge

Amy during the Ride Up.

The bluest Bird I've EVER Seen!

Just Me Being Goofy.

Me Throwing a Snowball - Notice the White Blog Top Center - I Hit Her, too!

Amy Posing With the Most Pathetic Snowman Ever!! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


We got the pathology results for Amy yesterday.  Melanoma.  Crap.  Stage 4 melanoma they say now and the lovely prognosis that always goes along with that.  So, that's the story.  It's a weird place to be in - being given this news about something that is supposedly lurking around a corner but knowing you have to go along as if most everything is the same and FEELING the same.  So, some talks have to be had, and some decisions made but life will just go on as usual for now.  The weather is beautiful, the chickens are growing up, the hens love the weather and are laying lots of eggs and the shop is getting the final touches.  So, I'm grateful for all that.  I'm not gonna dwell on this part of my life but will just give some updates if any changes take place.  For now, it's back to life and all that Spring in the desert entails.  I hope everyone is well!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I feel really close to being back in the swing of things!!  We are just trying to be patient regarding the pathology results and we should hear by the end of tomorrow, I hope, but one never knows.  We'll get the call when we get the call.

Spring is here!  And, in the desert that means it might be crazy windy!  Today the winds are strong and it's close to 70 degrees.  We essentially finished the shop...  all I have to do is put trim around the windows, doors and the corners where the walls meet.  The sheetrock is finished and we roofed it before Amy went into surgery.  So far, so good, as yesterday we had rain and today is windy and no leaks and no missing shingles!

I'll have inside pictures soon - I just don't have any on the computer right now.  I've started moving things in there and it's soooo nice!  I know longer have to climb over tools and things are organized.  Yay.  In a month or two, we'll put the carport up that will be attached to the side opposite of the window you see in the photo. 

The garden is doing so-so.  The weather has been so erratic.  When I planted the seeds, it was in the 70's and right after planting, dropped down to highs in the low 60s with cold nights.  Some of the seeds didn't germinate as I think it was too cold.  The kale, chard and pickling cucumbers came up along with a few beets.  So, I have started some seeds indoors.  Again, weird weather.  The highs are supposed to be in the low 50's this weekend!  Unheard of for the high desert. 

Sherman the Boxer caught his first squirrel ever after years of trying.  He was lazily walking towards the chicken coop/run after I went in the chicken run and a squirrel was in there stealing my organic chicken feed and ran out.  Well, he practically ran into Sherman's mouth and I honestly think Sherman was was pretty shocked he had caught it!  I turned my head and it was quick and there were no squirrely noises emitted.  My feed is only lasting half as long as I have a TERRIBLE squirrel problem.  But, I found an automatic feeder on ebay that is opened by weight.  It's basically a treadle feeder and the feeder is supposed to open when a chicken stands on it but not open with a squirrel's weight as they weigh much less.  I should have it in a few days.  I really hope it will do the trick and think it will!  The chickens are great but I'm worried because I have found a few "stick tight" fleas on my dogs' ears the last couple of days.  Stick tight fleas can be a real problem for chickens as they attach themselves all around the chickens' eyes and they can become swollen shut and even blinded.  I'm organic and don't want to dust my chickens with seven dust or anything toxic.  I am going to give the coop and run a good dusting with DE as I've heard that's a good preventative, but not a guarantee.  I am really hoping the chickens don't get the stick tights.  They are bad up here in the summer and looks like the season has started. 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week and thank you so much for hanging in there with me while I'm going through what I'm going through!  I have loved all the comments and well wishes. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Surgery is Complete and Hope is High

First of all, thank you everyone for all the kind words, prayers and well wishes.  I'm sorry I am behind reading your blogs but do know I will be back to them soon.  Things, as you can imagine, have just been a bit crazy.  If this last week didn't give me an ulcer, I don't think anything will, ha ha.

Yesterday was Amy's surgery and her gallbladder was removed.  In light of the circumstances, I think it went very well!  They were able to do it laproscopically and she refused to stay in the hospital overnight so we are in our San Diego studio that she has to rent for her work.  The doctor said he didn't see anything else inside that looked like cancer and can't even be certain what they found in the gallbladder is cancer.  There was a "sludgy mass" about an inch or so in diameter in the gallbladder and they are sending it out to pathology and results should be in in about a week.  So, I am hoping it's not even cancer.  Wouldn't that be amazing?  My optimism is working overtime. 

So, we are heading back up to Joshua Tree today and are just going to relax this weekend. 

The shop is almost completed and I'll have a post soon of the progress.  It's being sheet rocked inside today and I get to move stuff inside this weekend!  Looking forward to a worry free, relaxing weekend.  I hope the weekend is also good for you all.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One Procedure Down, One to Go

Just a little update... The upper GI went great yesterday and they saw no cancer in the duodenum!  Whew.  So, now we're just doing the count down for next Thursday, the 31st when surgery is scheduled.  But, we did get some bad news last Friday.  It turns out my partner misunderstood the doctor and he is saying he is pretty much certain there is cancer and it's highly unlikely there isn't cancer in the gallbladder.  We are choosing to go with hope.  Praying that when they remove the gallbladder next Thursday, they were wrong and there is no cancer present.  Man, what a roller coaster this has been.

Still waiting for the garden to sprout - it will be a week tomorrow since planted so it ought to be any day!  The shop is really coming along.  Windows are in, roof edging is one.  Only the roofing felt, roof and felt to do and then it's finished besides the sheet rock and we're hiring a young, local guy to do that.

Hope everyone is having a good week!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shop, Garden & Health Update

First off, my partner had her appointment yesterday at the hospital and there is hope in the news!  The surgeon said basically he doesn't know what is going on with her. Although the earlier pet scan glowed big, the ct scan with contrast they just had her do showed NOTHING.  But, they said what sometimes happen is the cancer in the gallbladder does not show up on a ct scan because it "hides" behind the duodenum. He said although he thinks it's cancer because of the intensity of the pet scan "glow" from a couple weeks ago, he can't be positive at this point. Usually, infections or other things that aren't glow at a much lower intensity on the pet scan and cancer has a glow that matches what came up on hers a couple weeks ago. So... they are going to "scope" her duodenum on Monday and look around and if anything looks suspicious, will biopsy it. If all turns out well with the scope , they still want to remove her gallbladder because they said something is definitely going on there and it is very well cancer "hiding" so the ct scan couldn't pick it up. So, if the scope goes well, they have her scheduled for gallbladder removal on the 31st BUT it is not the big invasive one they said they were going to do but the laproscopic!! That right there is huge. She will most likely get to go home that night. When they do the laprascopic and if they see signs of cancer they will have to open her up and do the big surgery to find out what's going on and how extensive, but that is unlikely since they are not seeing signs of it on the ct scan. so, we are hoping that all of this can somehow not even be cancer. So, good news today and we are just taking a day at a time!! Whoo Hoo!! praying and hoping.  Each time they narrow something down and don't find cancer, the odds get better for us.  This was certainly better than the news she had a week ago when they told her she definitely had cancer after the first pet scan.

The shop is slowly but surely coming along!  We have lost a couple of weekends due to rain and it's supposed to rain this weekend, but it'll get done.  We sheeted the roof and now we just have to roof it, put the windows in and all the trim around windows, doors, sides, etc.  Easy!  Can't wait.  We're having a young guy do the sheet rock that is really good and inexpensive.  Hopefully in a month, everything will be inside it and it'll be getting used!

I finished constructing the garden and planted all my seeds yesterday!  It took a long time to build, but I hope it'll be worth it.  Gardening in the desert is soooo difficult!  Critters burrow underneath and Kangaroo Rats can burrow and also get through poultry netting as can small birds.  So, I dug down 2 feet and buried hardware cloth and the whole garden is enclosed by hardware cloth.  There are some clear panels on the South side to protect it from the desert winds but give it sun, and some opaque panels on the North side and a short section of panels on the West side.  When it gets really hot, I will put shade cloth on the top so the plants don't get burned up.  I also sent my soil to a lab to be tested and boy and I glad I did!  They gave me organic recommendations to make the soil optimum for growing vegetables.   If this doesn't work, I'm just gonna scream and kick a while and tear down the center divider and tell the chickens they just got twice as much room in their home!  The garden is 16' x 12'.  Not huge, but plenty big to grow two people some good stuff.  Wish us luck!
Everything planted and watered
Garden with Chicken Coop behind it & Compost Bin in Front

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bad News

Sorry I haven't posted in several days.  We had a lot thrown at us the last few days.  For those of you who have read my blog for a while, my partner was dealing with stage 3 melanoma about 4 months back and went through a surgery where her lymph nodes were removed from her neck.  All has been well.  She runs and mountain bikes all the time, has lots of energy and feels good.  She goes back every 3 months for pet scans to make sure nothing more has shown up.  3 months ago, something came back on the pet scan around her gallbladder and after an ultrasound, they said it appeared to be polyps and they would monitor them and compare them to the next scan three months later because it's rare for melanoma to go to the gallbladder.  A bit more than a week ago, she had another pet scan and we got a call saying there is a 3 cm lesion on the gallbladder (much bigger than before) and there appears to be lymph node involvement with a nearby lymph node.  No, no, no.  The doctors say they are 90% certain it is melanoma that has metastasized.  We are waiting to get scheduled for a surgery consultation.  My partner does most of her care holistically (she won't do chemo or radiation and there is no research anywhere showing that it extends life for melanoma patients anyway), but is most likely going to undergo the surgery to remove her gallbladder because it definitely increases chances of survival.  So, this is the bad news.  I'm hopeful, and if anyone can do it, it's my partner.  We would really appreciate it if you keep her in your prayers.  I will do my best to keep on blogging and I don't want to make them all about this, but will definitely give updates as things change or happen.  In the meantime, we're trying to keep life as normal and routine as possible.  The 4 chicks are still good and healthy, the shop continues to come along and the garden should be finished and planted this weekend.  Yay!  It's the little things in life I never want to take for granted. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mamma & Babies Mix with the Gang

A couple of days ago, I decided to get brave and let mamma hen and the babies out with the whole gang.  I was really nervous because when I brought home the Easter Egger (TuTu Evans) and the Barred Plymouth Rock (Miss Osie), they had to be segregated for a long time and the established flock was ruthless with them.  So, I made a little opening in their private area and mamma hen and babies came marching out.  The lead hen, Theodocia, came up and gave one of the babies a peck and mamma hen unleashed a FURY on her.  That was the end of that... it was as if the signal had been given and the whole flock, including Jack, know not to bother the babies.  Even when I throw a little scratch down for the big girls and the babies come running, the hens don't bully the babies.  Mamma hen is a great mother and is always keeping an eye out!  I don't keep them together all the time, cause the rest of the flock have taken a liking to the chick starter food.  I came out yesterday and found almost all the hens in the babies separate area trying to eat the chick starter!  ha ha.  The babies can't get to the layer ration as it's up high so I'm not worried about them getting into something they shouldn't.  So, good news around here!  It's a relief to know they are already mixing and when mamma hen decides they are old enough to make it on their own, I think the transition into the flock is going to be quite easy.  I'm quickly learning it's MUCH easier to do it this way than trying to bring in birds without a natural mom.  I'm having a great time!  Hope you like the pictures and short video below.  

The weather here has turned very nice.  I even had coffee out on the porch this morning at 6:30 and they are forecasting 70 degrees for Saturday.  The garden is almost fully constructed (pictures will be coming later) and the shop will get worked on again this weekend.  We lost two weeks of working on the shop due to rain.

Hope everyone has a good Thursday!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Short Little Chick Video!

I forgot I had a video option on my old digital camera.  I don't know if it'll be the best quality, but thought I'd put a short clip up.  I made an outdoor section for mamma hen and the babies to be during the day.  I put together an A-frame shelter out of scrap I had around the place and now they get to be out in the sun and have more room during the day.  Before sunset, I put them back in their smaller section inside the main coop.  All the chicks seem to be really healthy and I can't believe how fast they are growing!  The wings are feathered and tiny tail feathers are starting to come in.

The weather is nice here again - sun with no wind.  I'll be working more trying to finish up my garden area before going to work today and half of my seeds have arrived.  Yay! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chicks are 3 days Old and Doing Great!

getting a little drink - look at the tiny feather already growing on the wing!

The 4 baby chicks are doing well and mamma hen seems to be a great mother.  I am having some trouble in their area that has been sectioned off for them in the back of the main coop as mom seems to get restless and the feeder keeps getting knocked over.  I don't have a picture of it right yet, but today I made a little "A-Frame" shelter about the size of a small dog house and sectioned off an area in the main run where, on nice days, she and the chicks can have more room.  I think that will appease mamma hen!  I put them out in it today, mamma hen did a quick down and dirty dust bath and then went inside the new shelter with the babies and they ate and drank.  (it was windy as a storm is approaching here so I don't think she wanted to go outside the a-frame to get the food and water).  Everyone seemed very content!  After this storm passes, I'll let them out there during the days and I think this will be a great arrangement.  I'm learning a lot and am learning quickly what I didn't do right and need to have for the next time!  But, that's expected and I'm loving the process.  Most importantly, they are all healthy and active!  So, we're bracing for wind, rain and low temps (well, low for Southern California - mid 20's and chance of snow even!).  The main coop is good and protected and I know underneath mamma hen it's in the 90's!!  Lucky chicks.

The little legs you see is baby using the "wing tunnel" to get warm under mamma

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Four Healthy Babies!

The final tally is four chicks!  I am completely okay with this.  (and if I wasn't?).  Mamma hen moved off her nest yesterday morning and moved the 4 babies close to the food and water.  After she had been off the eggs over two hours I knew she had abandoned them because for whatever reason they were not going to hatch.  I removed the eggs and cracked them open because I wanted to see what was going on inside.  The first one I cracked was just runny yoke - that must have been the egg I candled and I was very unsure about but left it in there just in case!  The other two were developed chicks (no they were not alive) but for some reason didn't hatch.   That's a bummer but I'm sure there was a reason for them not hatching.  So, out of the original 8 eggs I put under her, I got four babies!  Two were not fertile and two didn't hatch.  I'm happy with the little flock!

Mamma hen is a great mother.  I watched her for the longest time yesterday as she fluffed up big and held her wings slightly out so the babies would have a little tunnel to run under for warmth.  They would come out, walk around a little, drink or eat and then dart back under her when they wanted to get warm or rest.  When I got home from work, she had taken them all back to the nest where she was laying.  They are a beautiful orange-red and it's going to be so exciting to watch them grow!  I hope they are all hens, ha ha!

I am feeding them organic chick starter that is non medicated.  I don't believe in medicating my animals unless absolutely necessary.  I think natural exposure and building up resistance to coccidiosis for the chicks is a better way to go and I've read when they grow up with mom they should build up a good resistance.  I also put a small amount of organic unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in their water for a little immune system boost.  I hope they all grow up healthy!

That's all for now - just a little chicken update!  Hope everyone is having a good week.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Baby Chicks!!

The babies are here!  So, exciting.  Monday morning, I saw two eggs were being pipped.  When I got home from work, I pushed mamma's chest back and saw there were two chicks and one more egg was pipped.  Unfortunately, I had to drive to San Diego yesterday(Tuesday) and didn't get back until right after dark.  But, I checked under mamma again and there were 4 baby chicks!  As of last night, that makes 4 hatched and 3 unhatched.  I'm not sure if the other 3 are going to hatch but I will know soon.  If not, 4 is great!  I was very worried last night cause it didn't appear that anyone ate or drank anything. (I'm a worry wart)  I went online to my chicken forum at and was told that newly hatched babies can go 60 hours without food or drink and not to worry and that mamma will take them out when ready!  Whew, relief.  So, away we go!  They are sooooo adorable!  Little orangey-red fluffy things.  They are Rhode Island Reds since Jack is a RIR and I only put the larger brown eggs under her that are from the RIR hens.  More to come later but wanted to get this out!  I'll be going out soon when it warms up a bit this morning.