Welcome to our family blog to keep you updated on all the happenings around the Walker cottage and "farm". Even though we live in a rural section of the Tennessee Mountains life is far from boring as you will see.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

SEPTEMBER WALKER NEWSLETTER


Hello!

The dry humid hot weather has continued with having to water stuff outside to keep things from drying up and dying. Due to the hurricane hitting the East coast we are finally getting some much needed showers up here in the Tennessee Mountains. When it is hot outside it's hard to imagine needing a fire, but we know that by next month the temperature will start dropping as autumn arrives. Dwight's friends from the body shop came and took the wood-stove to the shop where Dwight welded a new heavier piece of steel to the top of the fire box to get it ready for winter.  We've also been getting wood in as well to try and fill up the wood shed before winter.

The battle with the rats continues in the hen-house despite consistent putting out rat poison. When Dawn and Randy was here they with Dwight discussed the situation at length and decided as the hen-house isn't worth repairing, the wire-covered chicken yard is larger than we need and its sagging makes it difficult to maintain, along with the fact that I am getting older (surely not) they are worried about all the steps I have to go up and down since I have fallen a couple of times, that we need to move the chickens and tear down the hen-house. There is a small barn shed close to the house that I've wanted to convert into a garden shed, but ends up being filled up with all sorts of stuff that would be perfect for the chickens. So I've cleaned out the shed- it was quite the job- and moved my gardening stuff to the workshop, which I can then focus on getting more organized and has plenty of room. So another unexpected big project is underway. The next step is cutting down two large trees to make room for the smaller chicken yard when Dawn and Randy come back in a couple of weeks. I declare we shall get so organized around here until I won't know what to do with myself.

I pulled the  bush green bean stalks as yellow bugs had gotten most of the plants and the beans were nearly gone- gardening is not for the faint hearted for sure between too much rain, being too dry, or battling insects that love to feast on your veggies, but then that goes for life in general. I'm harvesting pole bean seeds for next year and thoroughly enjoying picking ripened tomatoes each week. Talk about pure bliss to sink one's teeth into a warm fresh tomato from the garden! No store tomato can compare with the taste of your own home grown tomato.

When I took Dana to the local doctor, he was concerned about Dana’s continuing weakness on his left side so scheduled an MRI and ultrasound to be done. Early one morning after getting Dana out to the vehicle- he is so weak he had to sit down before he even got out the door- we headed to the local hospital. For the MRI we were put into a small room (think large closet) where there was barely enough room for me to help get Dana undressed.  Since the MRI would take about an hour, I planned to pay a couple of bills and pick up milk & bread. Unfortunately, his roll-aider was too big to sit around as they were using a wheelchair so I rolled it out to our vehicle and load it again. I came back unloaded the roll-aider and pushed it back into the hospital only to discover that the MRI machine had broke down and we would have to reschedule for the next week. I got Dana back to the vehicle loaded up the roll-aider once again and drove home where for the final fourth time I unloaded the roll-aider. I had planned to do some chores once I got back home- after all we were only going for a short hospital visit- but by then I was so exhausted loading and unloaded Dana’s roll-aider (Dana weighs around 336 pounds so his roll-aider is extra large, not only bulky, but heavy as well) I ended up in the recliner for the rest of the day feeling like I had loaded sacks of feed all morning. Who needs a weigh set with barbells when you can heft a roll-aider about as big as you around? The next week I had Dana take his fold up walker he used in the house instead of the roll-aider to save my back. Lo and behold this time although the MRI machine worked, they couldn’t get Dana’s head and shoulders into it to take an MRI! If nothing else we got our exercise for the week.

One hot afternoon I got the hose and gave Tex a bath- at least that was the original idea. It turned out to be a romping rodeo with me using one hand on Tex’s collar while the other one aimed the hose at Tex to get his fur wet, dropped the hose and scrubbed his body with soap, and then danced around until I could get a hold of the hose again to rinse the dear fellow off. By the time I got done we both were soaking wet.

This past week I did up and froze 10 dozen ears of corn, which made 12 quarts. It was quite the job, but I love frozen corn. My grandson, Case, does too. He declares my corn is the best tasting ever. I love seeing my pantry and freezer fill up with food for the year. I realized one day one does the deep knee bends when having to squat down and pull out the blender from under the sink when cooking or canning. I used to be able to pop right back up with blender in hand, but now I have to sit the blender down and use both hands on edge of the sink to slowly get my body upright. According to the health magazines, I should be the healthiest person around.

While there are days I battle not becoming overwhelmed with all the tasks facing me, overall I am very thankful for everything I am able to do- even if I am slowing down way faster than I would like to and things take longer to get done.

I shall quit for now. It always amazes me how quickly the days, weeks, and months fly by and how much is crammed into each week. Meanwhile y’all take care until next month.

Dorcas

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

AUGUST NEWSLETTER


Hello!

Despite some showers it continues to be hot and dry, but then this is August. The blackberries are over and most of the green beans. I harvested lavender and chives.  I've been busy drying peaches and apples, canned tomatoes, did up tomato juice, and salsa. I also made two batches of 3 day lime pickles as well.  One week I tackled the attic and sorted through years of stuff that seemed to multiply the more I worked through piled up stacks- something I've been planning on doing for who knows how long and figured I'd better do it before I hit my 80's or 90's. Outside I trimmed the formal garden and the long & side hedge in the front yard that looked like a wilderness. Now I need to get the back enclosed garden trellis hanging with wisteria that resembles a jungle gone wild under control too.
I'm so thankful for the daily strength the Lord gives. One hot muggy morning as I was picking green beans and sweating profusely I straightened my aching back in time to see a couple hummingbirds darting around my 2-toned white and lavender rose of sharon bush blooms and then glanced at my cutting garden near the stream, which in reality is any plant I need to find a space for, to see butterflies dancing all over the red bee balm and the last of the flowering phlox and realized how blessed I truly am. Even though my house and gardens will never grace any magazine cover, I am quite content to be right where I am.

One thing I am not thrilled over is the squirrel population. I admit one or two or even three squirrels can be cute and they do all kinds of antics that can make a person smile, but those critters multiply like rabbits and unfortunately love the bird feeders as well. I realized I definitely had a problem when one day glancing through the living room window at the back porch I saw something that made me look twice. My gourd bird feeder had grown a bushy tail. An instant later a head popped out and the crazy squirrel looked like it was enjoying a personalized hammock squirrel-size swing. I took off running for the back door to chase it away. I had read lately that one needs to exercise in bursts of speed for maximum benefit. Well now-a-days I get plenty of bursts of speed between my front and back porch bird feeders trying to keep the squirrels off. I've even not filled the bird feeders for a couple of days to discourage the squirrels, but so far no luck. Tex also helps chase the squirrels every time he sees one but can’t figure out yet how to climb a tree to catch them. He will sit at the bottom of a tree, cock his head, and you can see his doggy brain cells buzzing trying to figure out a way to outmaneuver those furry critters.

Dana fell halfway through July and despite all the tests that came back negative I’m positive he had another minor stroke. Physical therapy had already been coming and Dana was gaining ground, but after he fell he regressed backwards and still hasn’t caught back up. His left side (the one the first stroke affected) is weaker and some days Dana is more confused and has trouble with his speech. He also has trouble keeping his left eye open. The other night after taking his nightly insulin and pills, Dana headed into the dining room instead of towards his bedroom muttering that it was dark and he couldn’t see.  When I asked Dana where he was going he said he was trying to find his bedroom. I had to turn him around and head him in the right direction. The lung specialist said she noticed Dana’s breathing was more restricted this time and ordered more tests. Then the eye doctor is concerned with Dana’s eyes and has me putting on ointment twice a day besides the drops. Today we went back after a month and he wants it continued for another month.

This past weekend Dawn and her family came for a quick visit starting Friday night. Saturday was a whirlwind of activity all day until they left that evening. It was grand being together again- just too short. They helped with a lot of things Dwight and I am unable to do.  After Dwight’s yearly comprehensive visit to the hemophilia clinic, they have scheduled more physical therapy for him too.  Dwight spent the other weekend putting new brakes on my vehicle. I am so thankful that he is still able to keep my vehicle’s maintenance up checking the oil etc as I’m lost if I turn the key and something doesn’t work.

Take care on your end and stay cool!
dorcas

Thursday, July 19, 2018

JULY NEWSLETTER


Hello!  Hello!

As usual things have been buzzing here on the Walker Farm despite the humid heat and dry weather. We really need rain. I've had to water my tomatoes and other stuff nearly every week along with my regular chores lately. So I try and get everything done outside early in the morning.  Despite the sweltering weather the roses, old fashion tall fragrant phlox (colors of deep pink to pale, white, and lavender), and dark red bee balm are blooming madly. My rose of Sharon in pink, white, and lavender has started blooming as well. My flower gardens are full of bees buzzing, butterflies fluttering, and dragon flies hovering from dawn to dusk. The hummingbirds are keeping me busy filling their feeders too.
 
A couple days after I mailed the June newsletter, I was out in the garden and fell spraining my left ankle this time so was back to hobbling around with a cane and having to keep my foot up. I was back up on my feet a week later when on Father's Day afternoon it rained hard and when I came back inside after going to the hen house my feet slipped out from under me- thankfully I had just set down the basket of eggs- and I re-sprained my left ankle!!! I couldn't believe it. (Note: I have since gotten better outdoor shoes that are not slick and black rubber mats at each doorway for when I come inside to help keep me up instead of down.)

That Monday Dwight helped me- as I had to use a cane to walk- take Dana down to the Livingston hospital where he was admitted. We didn't get back home until 10 pm. Dana spent a week in the hospital and was put on two more medications, which has helped him sleep better at night so he isn't falling out of bed.  Dana is weaker and more unsteady so physical therapy is coming twice a week. Dwight also helped me redo the bathroom seat and shower chair making it higher and sturdier for Dana. Dawn and her kids ran up one morning for a quick visit while she was down at Monterey doing a VBS. I've been picking green beans and blackberries- thankfully haven't had any more bear problems. Our neighbor gave me squash since mine hasn't come in yet. I love fried squash with my homemade apple butter. I also have been putting straw/manure from the chicken house out on my garden to help my plants in the heat and clean out the hen house as well. I redid all the nests with fresh straw much to the hens delight. Princess is growing, but I am still putting her up at night as I continue to battle the rat problem, which I am slowly winning.

Case is turning ten next week so this past weekend while he was here we celebrated his birthday. Can you believe it? He is almost as tall as me already and not even a teenager yet. These kids grow so fast. It was also hard to believe how big Dawn's kids were when they were here as we hadn't seen them for six months.
Well I'd better hush up so I can get this out in the mail.

Take care and keep cool!
Dorcas

Thursday, June 7, 2018

JUNE NEWSLETTER


Hello!

The hot and humid days of summer have arrived with thankfully some showers to cool things down still. The roses are blooming and soon I shall be harvesting peas and cherries. The green beans have started budding out and some of the corn is up. I've planted squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and sunflowers. The tomatoes are rapidly growing and my mouth is watering in anticipation. Meanwhile the lilies and early summer flowers are adding color to the delightful green everywhere.

I've been battling rats under the hen house setting traps and putting out poison. The ratty things have dug tunnels everywhere. I was letting the four chicks out during the day, but wasn't able to get them put up one night back in the brooder and lost three more. So I'm calling the lone survivor Princess and keeping a careful eye on her. It was in fact late one afternoon as I was in the chicken yard rounding up the chicks- its amazing how fast those little things are- that I fell losing my balance as I lunged for the last chick. Thankfully I didn't break any bones, although it felt like I had broken my big toe. I limped back to the house and when I checked my toe I had ripped the toenail back and it was sticking straight up. Shudder. I taped it back down and after putting a thawed out rooster in my mother's old pressure cooker for supper, I sat in the recliner keeping my hurting foot elevated. I had just relaxed when a loud boom was heard in the kitchen scaring me silly. Evidently the old seal had given way and the pressure cooker had exploded! Talk about a mess.  Thinking I had had more than enough "excitement" in one day I took it easy that night. I was just getting ready to head for bed around 10:30 pm when I heard Dana in the bedroom sounding like he was having a nightmare. Before I could get there I heard a crash. Dana had thrashed around cutting his head on the wooden stand beside the bed before falling to the floor. He was dazed and confused complaining that he had a bad headache as blood ran down the side of his face. I was having trouble stopping the bleeding as Dana is on blood thinners so I called the home health office on-call nurse thinking he probably needed checking out

The nurse told me I needed to take Dana to the ER to rule out a concussion. Normally, I would drive, but with my bad toe (my right foot) I knew I couldn’t. So I called Dwight, who happened of all nights to have his cell phone off. Not knowing what else to do- it now was 11 pm- I called my Pastor, who came and helped me get Dana to the ER. They ran tests, his long cut finally clotted, and ruled out a concussion. We got home at 2:30 am quite worn out.

A couple days later, I lost my toenail, but thankfully it is healing. We had some stormy weather, which upped my bone pain so I was down for a couple of days. Thankfully I am back up on my feet again.

I took Dana to a new neurologist as the one we had that really helped Dana was no longer available. We spent 4½ hrs in the office! First we waited two hrs to finally get to see the guy. The doctor was older and wouldn’t believe us when we told him that Dana had a previous stroke, lung problems, dementia, etc. It was so frustrating. The doctor wanted to do all kinds of tests that had already been done and changed some of Dana’s meds that had nothing to do with neurology. This guy declared that Dana was dizzy because he was low in iron and short of breath due to being overweight despite us telling him that Dana had these problems for seven years now since he had a stroke. We ended up going back to the local doctor, who was quite alarmed when I told him that Dana was starting to have problems due to med changes, told me to go back the way we were giving Dana his meds, and he said he would get us another neurologist. Just when you think everything is set up right someone comes along to upset everything again.

Then last week Tex and the neighbor’s dog was barking at night and really having fits. In the morning there was bear tracks in my driveway. The next day around suppertime someone started running a 4-wheeler up and down our road so all the dogs were barking. Then I realized that Tex was still barking even though the 4-wheeler had stopped and it sounded like he was down at the woods. So I went to the back window looked out and lo and behold if there wasn’t a almost full grown black bear up on the top of the chicken pen!!! I watched as it got down and tried to get in the door with Tex nipping at its heels so it turned and headed around the henhouse. I quickly called my neighbor and called Dwight, who was heading home, grabbed a broom and ran outside. By the time Scotty and his dad came over with guns the bear had climbed over the fence and was down in the woods behind us. Dwight arrived and the fellows caught up on the news about the bear while I made Dwight supper. Not an hour later after my neighbors went back home, Tex was making a racket at the front fence so I went out on the porch to see what was going on and over the fence in the woods across from us was a large full grown bear walking around. The phone rang and my neighbor was calling to say watch out for another bear as it had just crossed his property. Dwight and the guys took off after the bear, which disappeared in the woods in the other direction. The blackberries aren’t ripe yet so the bears are wandering around hunting for food. So if Tex gets barking in the night I get up to make sure nothing is getting my chickens. Such a crazy time!  Maybe I just ought to write a book, huh?

Well I shall hush up for now. Take care on your end while I keep an eye out for the bears.
dorcas