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.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

OCTOBER NEWSLETTER



Hello everyone!

We had a short cold snap where I brought my hanging plants inside, but no frost yet. It warmed back up so my plants are back outside. I've had my windows opened too.  I love airing my house out and letting the breeze blow in the windows along with hanging out the wash on sunny days. I also swing on the porch swing or out on my back swing whenever I can grab a break during the day. The leaves have begun to fall so I stay busy sweeping off the porches and sidewalk each week. Usually by now the birch tree leaves along the driveway  have turned yellow, but they are still mostly green. It seems that autumn is slower coming this year.

My second batch of beans that I planted this summer are ready to harvest.  So happy to have fresh beans to eat again. Otherwise I am mostly gathering seed for next year. I also picked rose petals & pips and lemon mint leaves to dry for tea. I dry them quick using my microwave them store them in one of my many tins that I collect in the pantry.

I planted mums and spring bulbs outside my picket fence to add color to the blooming small white & purple daises, yellow golden rod & black susans, along with my stately row of multicolored marigolds.  Only a few roses bloom here and there.

Something got into my chicken house- I think a snake- and only two of the five baby chicks are left. It made me so mad. I went around plugging up holes. So far the two baby chicks are doing great running all over the chicken yard, scratching in the dirt, and growing.  Right now on my dining room table I have twelve guinea hen eggs that are ready to hatch out. Such fun! The two guinea hens that survived are full grown and are quite at home with the chickens. Hopefully by next year I can let them out to run so they can    eat ticks and other bugs. I cleaned out the duck's little pool and refilled it with clean water that didn't stay clean very long. The two white ducks love diving and splashing in the water. They get quite excited and quack around whenever I fill their pool or water bucket during summer dry spells.

                My biggest project though by far was white washing the hen house/shed.  Dana built it with wafer board several years ago and it is not weather proof and had begun to peel so I knew I had to do something before it all fell apart. So like the old timers I mixed up a brew of white wash with a little white paint began to roll. It was slow going especially when I had to get up on a ladder as I’m not as steady as I used to be. I’d paint one day and be down the next then get back at it again. Inside the chicken pen the crazy birds huddled around my feet so I could barely move.  Both they and I ended up with a fine spray of white wash all over us, but it didn’t deter the chickens for trying to figure out what I was up to. The hen house looks so nice and white. Now I want to get the inside painted before cold weather hits.

            Between all this I took Dana down to Cookeville two times to see different specialists. Physical therapy is coming twice a week along with the home health nurse. One morning we had the physical therapist, a lady from Buckeye to measure Dana for his diabetic shoes, and the home health nurse all the same day. By the time they left Dana was quite worn out.  He scared me the other Sunday morning when I heard something falling in the kitchen when I was back in a bedroom. I ran out to see what was going on and there was Dana flat on the floor passed out. I was beginning to think I’d have to call the ambulance when he finally came too and then after a bit was able to get up and with his walker over to a chair. Dana's oxygen level is staying down in the 80’s or low 90’s even with air.  He has put on 31 lbs, which I'm sure also affects it. So he stays out of breath, dizzy, and not too steady even with is walker.  Dana was able to make it to the homecoming at church this past Sunday, but went to bed as soon as we got back home. I never know from day to day how Dana is going to be.  When I’m working outside I keep running back inside to check on him every little bit along with keeping his insulin shots going and his medication.

 Dawn and I worried.  Last week they went down inside her throat and up her colon. Three days later she was still weak and not picking back up like she should have. Dawn took her to a local clinic and here if Annette didn't have strep throat too. So she is on antibiotics. Dawn is keeping a food diary of the foods Annette is having problems with for when they go back to the specialists in three weeks. He wants to do another test on her gall bladder.  He did find that Annette's esophagus was real irritated and scarred like she was having bad heartburn down lower so he put her on a high dosage of antacids. So we do appreciate prayer for this girl as she is only fifteen.

            Well I need to close my lengthy epistle about life out here on the Walker farm. Time continues to fly by so quickly. I hope this finds you having a good day wherever you are.

            Dorcas

SEPTEMBER NEWSLETTER



Hello!  I hope this finds everything going OK on your end.

Between the eclipse- during which I was canning tomatoes that day, although I did take a break and sat out on my front porch during the main action- and the hurricanes that have battered our southern states, it broke the humid cycle normal at this time of the year with lovely cooler weather. In fact it has gotten down right chilly at night and the cool breezes say that autumn is nearly here.

The garden stuff is just about over and my pantry and freezer are full. I canned 12 qts of beans, 73 qts  of tomatoes, another 7 qts of the 3 day pickles, and have a total of 13 baggies of dried apples. Then I bought corn and did up 26 qts to put in the freezer.  Have I been busy or what?  All the work is worth it when I see my full pantry and freezer. There is nothing like cooking with your own homemade stuff. Case, my grandson, loves to help me in the kitchen. He tells me that my food is the best ever. I'm always glad to get wholesome food in him as his mother only buys fast food or stuff already made.

The exciting news at the Walker farm is that five baby chicks hatched from the six eggs over three days. I couldn't believe my eyes at first when on Friday morning I went out to the hen house to see a yellow tiny head peaking out from brown feathers as I wasn't expecting any eggs to hatch until that Monday. Talk about at tiny adorable ball of fluff! I put the mother hen and her babies in the brooder for a week before letting them out in the hen house. The mother hen fiercely protects her babies. I love watching her chuck to them as she searches for food and see them burrowing under her feathers to take a nap or jump on top of her and rest a bit. They are so full of energy. At first the other hens didn't know what to make of all these miniature creatures running around under their feet. Something has gotten into the hen house though and two of the babies are gone so I am stopping up any holes and keeping a close eye on them.

I somehow picked up the flu that is going around and was down for three miserable days. I am so thankful to be back up on my feet again and able to eat. What a blessing as I am behind on my outside work from all the canning. I need to get some more of my hedges trimmed again and get my gardens ready for the coming winter- not to mention cleaning out the hen house and shed. Of course my house also needs a loving touch as I haven't gotten to all of the rooms with my yearly cleaning- forget the spring and fall cleaning like my grandmother used to do. I am good to get each room thoroughly cleaned once a year, although I do shudder at all the dirt and dust wondering where on earth it has come from. It’s a good thing I do basic cleaning once a week or my poor house would totally collapse.

I am having more trouble keeping Dana on his oxygen. He gets tired of wearing it and will take it off. One Sunday even though his level was low with oxygen, Dana refused to agree to take it along so I stayed home not wanting to risk him passing out on me from lack of oxygen. I am no longer able to reason with him. Dana also goes to the senior center every Friday whether he is up to it or not. One week he barely was able to get back inside the house when the van brought him back. I had to go out and help him in where he collapsed in bed for the rest of the day.  Then another week I got a call. He started having seizures and passing out so they called the ambulance, which took him to the ER.  His sugar had bottomed out- a rare thing as it is always way too high. 

Dwight got some wood the other week so we were busy stacking it while Dwight split some. Soon it will be time to get my wood stoves going again. Needless to say I get plenty of exercise to stay fit without going to a gym or running up and down the road like I see some people do. What a waste of energy. How our grandparents would shake their heads. All they need is a garden and some animals.

I shall hush up for this month. Take care on your end!
Dorcas

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August Newsletter



Hello!

Out here on the Walker farm we are having jungle weather with lots of humidity.  All a person has to do is walk outside to sweat. I don’t usually sweat so when I do it is hot. After a first good start the heat burnt up most of the bean plants. Thankfully we’ve had a couple of good rains since so some have survived enough to eat on. As usual the weeds are just fine and flourishing no matter what the weather. I planted a couple more rows of beans for this fall before the rain came. The ground was so dry and hard. Thankfully with the rain the beans have sprouted.

I had to move my two lone guinea hen chicks back to the hen house as something got two of my four in the shed. I declare they take more work to raise than baby ducks or chicks combined. So far the two- I call Prissy and Missy until I hopefully discover that one is a male (horrors if both of them are male as I will have to figure out some different gender appropriate names) - are growing and flourishing. I’m calling my pair of white ducks Romeo and Juliet hoping that one day I shall see some baby ducks and not like Shakespeare they lie down and die. 

In the hen house for the first time I have a hen sitting on six eggs. I am so excited. Of course there was a bit of drama before the dust settled as usual. I discovered my broody hen sitting on a huge egg that a hen had started laying in the corner where my feed barrel is up against a row of nest buckets about waist high. I confiscated the egg knowing from prior experience that the large ones invariably turn into roosters. I found four still warm eggs that had been laid that day and made a hollow spot under the brooder in some straw on the floor and tried to convince my broody hen that this was a much better place to sit on some eggs. Do you think her bird brain would agree? I spent around thirty minutes lying flat on the floor with my arm stretched out under the brooder chasing her in and out- even boxing her in- to sit on the eggs to no avail. In disgust I gave up and gathered up the eggs. The next day didn’t I find my broody hen again in the corner of the feed barrel sitting on a huge egg. So I took the large egg and found four more warm eggs, which she accepted and with her beak pushed under her furry body. Since she was practically sitting on top of the feed barrel lid I took straw and made more of a nest around her scooting her over a bit. The next day since she was still on the eggs I added two more. We have worked out a system where every other day when I throw scraps down on the floor, my broody hen jumps down to eat and I carefully lift the lid and get feed out to fill the feeders. I’ve marked the date on the calendar when any action should begin. Now I just have to figure out how to keep chicks that hatch from falling down to the floor. Any suggestions?

 

Tex will officially be one years old on the 18th. I have bought a special bone for the occasion to celebrate his birthday. It has been quite a year with Texie boy. Just as the blackberries faded out the grapes started ripening and guess who had his nose stuck in the grape vines chomping on purple grapes with his greedy little teeth? I keep checking for teeth marks in my tomatoes. If I find any I shall know who the culprit is. Between everything going on I did manage to paint my porch rockers and swing one day. Of course Tex had to “help” so there are a few white paw prints decorating my porch now.

I do have another bear story. This time Tex was making a racket just after I got up one morning last week so I raced outside in my PJ’s and boots to see what was going on. Lo and behold this time is was a half grown bear in my woods. Every day I check the electric fence to make sure it is on. Sometime in the night the wind had knocked down some branches and it had gone down. I grabbed a stick to help the dogs chase the bear off when it turned and charged at my dogs. I whirred around to go inside to call my neighbor fellow to get his gun only to see his car go down the road towards town. So I grabbed my cordless phone, woke up Dwight in town, and told him I needed help with a bear keeping an eye on things from a distance.  Twice more the bear turned around and charged my dogs before it lumbered to the gate by Dwight’s workshop and climbed over heading in the woods in the opposite direction of the first bear. My shed was in a big mess. The bear had knocked over my feed barrel with a lid on it and had eaten almost 50 lbs of the corn for the ducks.  So Saturday Dwight built me a solid heavy wooden door to the shed.  The guys are advising me to get some bear spray to carry and defend myself with if necessary. Personally, I’d rather try my luck with a taser gun and zap the living daylights out of it.

The hot and humid weather is hard on Dana’s breathing even with oxygen. I’m only able to get to church twice a month when Dwight is here to stay with Dana as he is more confused and can’t remember more than one thing at a time. Every morning I have to give Dana eye drops, make sure he takes his meds, checks his sugar, takes the proper amount of insulin, does a breathing treatment, and gets on oxygen just to begin the day with. Dana is making it out to church less than once a month now.

Whew!  I shall close this lengthy (what my brother-in-law called my letters to my sister in the days before email and texting) epistle. Stay cool on your end and I’ll try and keep everything going and in one piece on mine.

Until next time~
Dorcas
PS At the end of July Case had a birthday and turned nine-years-old. Dwight got and fixed up a dirt bike for Case, who was thrilled to death- grandma less so.  These grand-kids grow up too fast.  Fifteen-year-old Annette now has a driver’s permit. It seems only like yesterday when I was in the front seat of the car with her mother as she learned to drive at that age.
                        



Monday, July 17, 2017

JULY NEWSLETTER



Hello!

I hope this finds you doing OK.

I had my first ripened tomato from the garden, fresh peas, and green beans.  Now that's what I think is good food.  I love sitting on my porch after harvesting the veggies early in the morning relaxing while shelling peas and snapping green beans. I've been making homemade ice cream and strawberry shortcake too along with salads when it is too hot to cook. 

On the farm end of things, I've been out trimming bushes and hedges so our place looks civilized.  Dwight helped me wire the back fence to keep the bears away from my bee hive. So far no black critters have gotten back in my woods, although one neighbor said a bear was walking up our road the other week.  I was given seven newly hatched Guinea hen chicks so got my brooder operating again.  I lost three as they are hard to raise when so little. At a week old the tiny things were finally as big as a newborn chick.  Today they are almost a month old so I moved the four lively chicks that have feathered out over to the shed where they will stay.  Hopefully they will eat a lot of ticks around here.  I also lost one of my white ducks so now only have two.  Meanwhile my hens stay busy laying lovely brown eggs. I have one rooster from the chicks I raised this year- a buff colored one- so I am calling him, Mr. Buffy.  Texie boy, is almost a year old. Lo and behold if he doesn't like berries. I had to race to get the ripened strawberries t his spring and raspberries before he sank his doggy teeth in them. Here when I was out in the garden picking green beans the other day, didn't I see him over at my blackberries eating them too!  Next the crazy dog will be eating my green beans and tomatoes off the vine.  The heat and humidity doesn't seem to bother Tex.  When I go outside and head down to the woods or hen house, he not only runs, but leaps and bounds ahead of me.  Would I ever love to harness some of that energy!  Tex is turning into quite the guard dog keeping the wild critters off our property as he races from one end to the other. He also loves to try and race any vehicles that come down our road as well along the fence.  I nearly got bowled over when I was out trimming the bushes along the front of the fence one day when a car came by.  So while I trimmed, I also kept an ear tuned for any cars coming up the road as well.
Another exciting thing that happened was four teenagers and two fellows from the GAP project came and painted our front and back porches & rails and cleaned out the gutters one week.  Some of the kids got as much paint on themselves as what they were painting. It was quite the busy week, but such a blessing.

Then Dawn and her kids came up for a quick visit while she was down at Monterey doing a VBS. It was so good to see them again.  The next week she headed out to Iowa for another VBS.  I was so relieved when she got back home safely after eleven hours on the road going and twelve hours coming back. This week she and her family are up in IN at a camp.

Dwight is to go to the annual comprehensive hemophilia clinic at the end of the month out at Nashville. He is limping more and going slower. I wish Dwight would go ahead and get the ankle surgeries over with.  I hate seeing him in pain. I know Dwight is reluctant to do it until absolutely necessary as past knee surgeries ended messing him up more and he was down for six months.  So I worry and pray.

Take care and stay cool!  I’m so thankful to have air condition during this hot and humid summer weather. Despite the heat my flowers continue to bloom as my bees stay busy buzzing around, colorful butterflies flutter among the flowers, and dragonflies dart across the pond.

Until next month~
Dorcas