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, 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

JUNE NEWSLETTER



Hello!

Summer has arrived with continuing rainy and hot jungle weather.  I've had to work between the rains to get my garden planted this year.  I still need to put out the tomatoes I started indoors- hopefully this week.  The rain had caused all the seeds to sprout in record time and flourish.

On the farm end the biggest news this past month was chasing a black bear through my woods with a mop when I caught it heading for the shed after it had broken in and ate some corn a couple of days before. It was an adult bear and way bigger than me, but I got so mad when I saw it on my property- when Tex alerted me by barking and growling fiercely. I grabbed the first thing handy- I had been getting cobwebs down with an old mop inside- and took after it. My electric fence had gone down due to some severe storms so after chasing the bear over the fence and back into the woods where it belonged, I spent the rest of the afternoon getting my electric fence going.  The next day I found and killed a five foot chicken snake that had gotten into one of the nests. To top it off two of my laying hens drowned on me after a couple of hard rains.  Talk about bird brains!   I also got some more bees so I need to run electric along the back fence of my property at my house. I love hearing the buzzing bees and working alongside of them in the flowers. So there has been plenty of excitement lately out my way.

Dana continues to be weak and unsteady. The physical therapist is coming twice a week to work with him.  We took Dana to his primary physician locally today. His sugar stays quite high most of the time so I won't be surprised if the doctor doesn't up his insulin again.  Dana is more forgetful as well so I have to keep a close eye on him.
Dawn is doing so much better with the shots and more like herself. She has a busy summer again with VBS’s.  She will have one up in Indiana, one out in Iowa, and two here in Tennessee. Annette helps her with the songs just like Dawn used to do for me years ago.  Annette is the fourth generation in my family to do children’s work. She just turned fifteen and is ready to get her driver’s permit.  How that brings back memories of when Dawn was that age. Years ago, before Annette was in school, she took some violin lessons, but then quit. Lately she started playing the violin again by ear.  William, who turned eleven, is quite musical.  He loves playing the piano by ear picking out songs; he picked up playing the guitar, and now the banjo. They all play in church and sing. Katie Dawn, who turned five and was quite shy like her mother at that age, now sings with the family too. William is also the farm hand feeding the chickens, turkeys, and gathering the eggs.

Eight year old Case- Dwight’s son- stayed with us for an extended weekend.  The house was filled with his boundless energy that kept us going. He helped me keep an eye on Grandpa as I tried to steer some of his enthusiasm in helping me in the kitchen and washing dishes. He already has a hollow leg that kept me busy keeping him filled up.  All our grandchildren are unique and special in their own way. We love having them come to visit, but tend to stagger to the recliner to put our feet up once they leave in order to catch our breath.

God has been good to us!
Dorcas & family

         

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Christmas 2015


Our four grand-kids: William, Case, Annette, and Katie
 


Opening gifts is the best part!
 


Special pillow with Annette's name on it.
 


Camouflage pillow with William's name.
 


What big eyes you have!
 


Two very cool fellows!
 


Katie loves the big glasses too.
 


Even daddy has fun with the big glasses.
 


Finger painting- what fun!
 

Annette's first afghan to crochet.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Autumn

Summertime whizzed by as Dana was in the hospital twice keeping me busy running back and forth along with trying to keep up with the garden and animals. Despite adding new meds and tweaking old ones, Dana's dementia is still getting worse. He was falling more so for a month the physical therapist came to our house.  They helped to strengthen him, although Dana's balance is still off.

Now autumn has arrived.  
Below is a picture of my autumn clematis that bloomed wildly this year around my  mailbox.


Here is Romeo- my white rooster- strutting around the top of the fence in my enclosed back garden. 
He loves to jump up on the fence and crow loudly for all to hear between scratching around for bugs.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Hatching Chicks

Springtime brings the miracle of hatching chicks from our eggs.  There is something awe inspiring in going through the process of seeing a dormant egg come to life.  So this spring I thought I'd share the process with you through pictures that I took while becoming the "mother hen" this past week.  

Of course during the twenty-one days  previously- where you turn and mist the eggs in the incubator two to three times a day- you being to wonder if there is any life inside the eggs. About halfway through you notice that the eggs are getting heavier to help boost your faith. Another thing is careful watch that the temperature in the incubator stays consistently at the right temperature.  Wouldn't you know it right in the middle we got a bad storm and our electric went off.  After an hour when the temperature started to drop in incubator, even though it wasn't that cold outside, I began to build a fire in our wood-stove to warm up the atmosphere. Right before I lit the match the electric thankfully came back on.  What fun, huh? 

The last week you don't do anything to the eggs.
  At last the hatching process begins. The first sign is a crack and small hole in the egg, you can see a tiny beak poke out, and the sound of peeping lets you know that there is life.



  The egg will begin to move and then have spells of rest as the chick begins the arduous task of breaking out, which can take up to 24 hours. Larger cracks appear in the eggshell and the peeping becomes louder. Sometimes a leg will stick out and spin the egg around as the chick tries to free itself from the shell.



You watch the heartbeat of the chick vibrating the shell and cheer the enclosed chick on.  At last the egg is separated and you can see the newborn chick more fully.




The chick takes another rest before one last huge effort to finally separate itself from the shell- some landing on their stomach while others land on their backs.


Totally exhausted and panting the chick rests for awhile before it tries to move again.  This is where I move the newborn chick from the incubator to what I call the nursery- a box lined with newspaper with a heat lamp located right beside the incubator.

Soon the tiny chick lifts up its head and opens its eyes to view the new world it has entered.


The chick begins to flop around using its tiny wings to move sometimes landing on its back or trying desperately to roll over to its stomach.  


Any move or effort drains it strength and the chick will often lie in different positions to rest as the down slowly dries on its body. When awake the tiny chick peeps loudly in protest or to announce its accomplishment to the world. Hatching takes lots of work.  I too am worn out with having to stay up late keeping an eye on the hatching chicks.



Here I hold a brand new baby chick just born in my hand. Nothing like touching a miracle firsthand.


After fifteen minutes have passed, I give the chick its first drink in a red lid that is water with probiotic and electrolyte mixed in.

Thirty minutes later the chick will stagger as it tries to take its first step using the wings for balance as the legs are still too weak.  The head wobbles with the effort of holding up its body and uh oh, the head drops and the chick falls headfirst down.

A sibling that has been born earlier comes around to check on the new baby.


An hour later the chick's body feels lighter as some of the down is dry. Now the chick staggers around checking out the new world it has entered.  I keep giving the baby chick a drink every thirty minutes or so to help build up its strength.


Twelve hours later after the chick has been born, its fur is all dry and they are activity running around on spindly legs, stretching tiny wings out, and preening.  The chicks also cheep loudly letting me know that they are hungry. So I gather these tiny mites that are only a couple inches high and carefully carry them down to the brooder in an enclosed box to the hen house where they will grow into mature hens.

Talk about adorable fuzz balls!  I feel quite proud of myself as the mother hen of ten baby chicks.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Walker Christmas 2014

The Walker Clan
Front row:  William, Dorcas, Dana, and Case
Back row:  Randy holding Katie Dawn, Dawn, Annette, Kara, and Dwight




Christmas is:
the excitement of finding a pocket knife ..,



 learning how to open gifts all by yourself.,,




getting more gifts and all kinds of discoveries..,




clowning around..,




anticipation (grownups are so slow)..,




making new memories..,




and happiness.




Opening large gifts..,




small gifts..,




dressing up..,




and trying out new things.




But best of all it's cuddling and story time..,




playing games under the tent,




and being together!