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.

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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

MAY NEWSLETTER

Hello!
Summer has arrived with a blast of hot air. It's hard to believe that only a couple weeks ago I was building fires in my wood-stove due to freezing temperatures. My iris and roses are blooming while the peonies are beginning to open up their fragrant blooms.  My wisteria vine has come alive and soon the large purple grape-like flowers will send their aroma out as well causing the bumble bees to go crazy.  At the end of April (right after the cold snap) I hung out my hummingbird feeders and hardly fifteen minutes later I had humming birds buzzing around. This year I have three Eastern Bluebirds building nests in my bird boxes. I also saw a couple pairs of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks at my bird feeders. Along with the bright yellow of the Goldfinches all kinds of color is darting through the air.
Speaking of birds, I lost two baby chicks so am now down to five. I am having a problem of rats under my hen house so I'm putting wire over the chicks and mother hen at night so as not to lose any more lively little fur balls. They look rather bedraggled as darker feathers are coming in at different places. The chicks are starting to jump up to the top of the brooder to perch and soon will be able to fly out and explore the rest of their world in the henhouse during the day.
My guinea hens turned into quite a shocking experience. Pastor Sam and another fellow from our church came out one day and screwed all the boards that I had cut in two the day before around my enclosed garden It was quite the project- you should have seen me wrestling with 8 ft boards to saw them in half (80 all total)-, but the fence looks so nice and is sturdy. After the fellows left and I put away all the long extension cords etc, I got my fishing net and chased down six guinea hens in the chicken pen.  By the time I captured the birds that all of a sudden got quite lively dust and feathers were flying everywhere and I was out of breath. I had shut Tex up in the workshop thankfully. I put the guinea hens into a large animal carrier and wheeled it into my enclosed garden. As soon as I opened up the carrier on the ground the four males flew out and didn't stop until they were over the high fence and in the back yard. The two females behaved themselves and scuttled out and on the ground not flying anywhere like sensible hens.
I tried to shoo the fellows back into the enclosed garden, but they would have none of it. So I let Tex out thinking he could help me herd them to where they belonged, but the crazy guinea hens flew over the wire fence and into the woods behind us. I even took a can of feed and shook it around in the enclosed garden where they could see me, but do you think the fellows would fly back over the fence? Oh no! They squawked and pranced up and down outside the fence from the far end of our property and back making quite the racket. As it was getting late and I was plum wore out, I decided to forget the crazy fellows hoping when it got dark they would fly back.
 I woke up early the next morning hearing a loud racket. All I saw was one lone bird outside the fence. So wasting no time and in my PJ’s I ran outside and grabbed a ladder to rescue the one lone fellow figuring wild animals had gotten the other three. I thought the dear fellow would be grateful to be rescued, but the bird-brained guy suddenly got full of life running up and down the fence just out of my reach as I dodged trees and patches of briars. As I stopped to catch my breath, lo and behold if the other three fellows didn’t appear. I decided to use my brain instead of my waning strength, go eat breakfast, grab the net again, and capture all of them. I went to climb back up the backside of the ladder that I had positioned over the fence but one of the narrow rungs was broke so I put one foot in the wire fence and holding the top of the ladder for balance I swung my other leg over to try and reach a step on the ladder on the other side of the fence and got hung up. I had tested the electric wire before I had put the ladder over and there was nothing so I figured it was down again. But guess what? The electric fence came on full force and I got zapped big time as the metal ladder sagged against the fence. There I was struggling to get my foot free of the fence as the electric current zinged through the wire fence, the ladder, and my entire body. Realizing I was in a serious pickle, I prayed, “Lord if you’ve ever helped me before, I sure do need help now!” It was quite the shocking experience I can assure you. I was quite desperate as I struggled until I finally managed to get my foot free and my body over onto the ladder. I limped my way back into the house and sat down to gather my wits and flagging strength as unfortunately I’m not as young as I used to be. Anybody else would have given up, but I inherited a stubborn streak from my Pennsylvania Dutch father that once in awhile flares up. I wasn’t about to let those crazy birds get the best of me. So after eating, changing clothes, and resting a bit, I got my stepstool, put on heavy gloves and boots, and grabbed the fish net. As I figured all the males was still prancing outside the fence squawking away. I shuddered to think what my neighbors were making of all the racket coming from our place. This time I put the stepladder on one side and the stepstool on the other side of the fence. Then I captured one bird and with the hen rolled up in the net I climbed back over, took the fellow in the house where I had scissors and a trash can, proceeded to clip his wings, and put the hen in the enclosed garden where he belonged. It took me all morning to capture all the fellows and clip them. I spent the rest of the day sacked out in my recliner while they shook their clipped wings out and stalked indigently around.
Tex was quite enthralled with all the goings on. He kept circling the fence to try and get in to chase the guinea hens and when that wouldn’t work, he’d sit down, stick a paw in the 3 inch crack, and rattled the broken lattice that was still up in an effort to get the guinea hens racing around and squawking. Didn’t all the crazy males go flying over the fence again with their clipped wings, around the yard with Tex in pursuit, and back over the wire fence into the woods! It was then that I washed my hands of worrying about their welfare and scrawny necks. At this point in the enclosed garden there are two females and one fellow- that is missing over half his feathers that finally flew back in. So much for guinea hens eating ticks in my yard and woods.
Meanwhile in my garden the peas, lettuce, and red beets are up. I planted my beans and put out some tomatoes. I also with my grandson, Case’s, help one weekend pounded in a couple of fence posts at my cherry bush row so I could tie up and support the large cherry bushes that were falling over and breaking on me and made another archway (with two fence posts and leftover flexible and straight pipes) at my garden where I had a large grapevine on a fence that was long enough at one point to go up to eventually meet where another grapevine had sprung up opposite the path-  which gave me the brainstorm. Case would hold the fence post with one hand and the ladder I was perched on with the other while I pounded in the fence posts. He kept telling me, “Now you be careful, Grandma.” I do believe in putting my grand-kids to work. At one point Case told me that my place was the only place he would have to work and sweat at.
I stayed home with Dana on Mother’s Day. Dwight made it for lunch and brought me a lovely hanging basket of flowers. Dawn beat me to it that morning and called me on her way to church and then in the afternoon, Annette, William, Katie and even my son-in-law, Randy called to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. I must be doing something right to have my son-in- law call and wish me well too- ha!
Dwight is slowly getting stronger and continues to go to physical therapy. Dana has up and down days.  Sometimes his oxygen level is in the 80’s and he has to be on oxygen and other times it is high enough that he doesn’t need oxygen. I just have to keep a check on it. I made it to the local dentist to get my broken off tooth pulled out that I had problems with all winter. I ended up with stitches and a swollen mouth for a couple of weeks. Thankfully my mouth is back to normal again.
Well I shall close my lengthy epistle. Looking back I can’t believe all that was accomplished. What a blessing! Of course there still is lots of work to be done. Hopefully the coming month will be a lot calmer here at the Walker farm. I shall try my best to behave myself and not get into anymore shocking situations.
Take care on your end and stay cool!
Dorcas

Saturday, April 14, 2018

APRIL NEWSLETTER



Hello!

I hope everyone had a blessed Easter on your end. Dana was able to get to church for Easter Sunday. Dwight didn't make it to church as he was still struggling with his shoulder/back bleed and is quite weak. He came for lunch and soon left to go back to his apartment.

Meanwhile outside the purple redbuds are blooming and my Crabtree brightens up the entire back yard with its a glorious flame of dark pink flowers surrounded by white pear flowers while underneath a thick carpet of tiny dark purple violets bloom. The tulips, phlox, and money plant are blooming as the daffodils fade out. It is time to start the garden and since the weather is a lovely 70 degrees I will plant my peas, lettuce, and beets today before the rainy weekend arrives. It has been bliss the last couple of days to open my windows and hang out wash again. Ah, the temperamental personality of spring that teases one with warmth between cold snaps as the earth slowly warms up.

We killed the three roosters and as soon as we can get our enclosed garden fence re-boarded we will put the Guinea hens out as well. The hens won't know how to act with all the peace and quiet. This week seven tiny chicks hatched from the eggs that my broody hen has been faithfully sitting on.  There are still four more eggs to go. The hen started out with four eggs and I put two others under her to make six, but like the loaves and fishes that multiplied in the Bible, somehow seven chicks have hatched with four more eggs to go. When I transferred the chicks over to the brooder (as well as the hen and eggs) I couldn't believe how many tiny fur balls were under the hen. I kept pulling out one chick after another.

I love working outside. One day after transplanting stuff, as I was finishing up, I slipped and fell down the back steps.  Thankfully I didn't break anything- just sprained my ankle bad. So once again I was slowed down hobbling around with one of Dwight's canes with my wrapped ankle and having to keep it elevated as my entire foot was swollen. So ratty!!! After a couple of weeks my ankle is back to its normal size again and I can walk on it. What a blessing!

On another positive note, Dwight’s shoulder/back is doing better. He is able to go to physical therapy and is slowly getting stronger. It’s amazing how fast our bodies can go downhill and how long it takes to get them back up to power again.

Dana managed to somehow pull a muscle in his back and is having quite a time with it. He can hardly get around and it has slowed him way down even though physical therapy is still coming twice a week. I took Dana this past week to the lung specialist and it was quite the workout for me as well as I had to load and unload his roll aider. Since his roll aider is extra large (bigger than me) it was like lifting a heavy wheelchair and took me back to my teenage years when I would have to load my father’s wheelchair in and out of the car for him. Both of us were quite worn out by the time we got back home.

I’m so thankful for the strength and energy given me each day to keep things up around the Walker farm and take care of Dana. I have to take each day as it comes and try not to get frustrated when I am unable to accomplish as much as I would like to. There is always something to do. So amidst my tasks, I try to find a spot of joy (watching a bird starting to build a nest near the house, discovering a new flower just opening its petals, finding froggie eggs in my pond, or the wonder of holding a tiny chick in my hands), having a bit of fun playing with Tex each day, and adding a touch of creativity outdoors or inside. I am truly blessed!


Saturday, February 17, 2018

February Walker Newsletter



Hello!

Today the weather warmed up enough (close to 60 degrees) that I am hanging clothes out on the line. I love to see clean wash flapping in the breeze and sunshine. The wind still has the arctic chill to it reminding one that winter is not over yet.

We've had a couple skiffs of snow to whiten the landscape and one bad ice storm in January with temperatures below freezing that had me housebound for over a week. Dwight with his 4-wheel drive truck brought in Dana's meds, milk and bread for me as I couldn't get out.  The snowplow doesn't come down our dead end road and the hill out to the main road faces north so it is slow to melt off here in the forest of the Big South Fork.

My daffodils are already poking their heads out of the ground. It's so exciting to see tiny green shoots appear on the barren ground because it lets me know that spring is coming. Meanwhile I'll keep my wood-stoves going on rainy cold days.

We didn't get in as much wood as we would have liked for the winter and with January being colder our wood supply was running low. So a couple of weekends, Dwight cut up some dead trees in our woods to help tide us over. Case and I helped carry wood and stack it in the wood shed as well as replace wood on the porch and inside for me, which is such a blessing as I wear out quicker than I used to do. Meanwhile toting wood, cleaning out the ashes in the stoves, and carting water to the animals each day keeps me in shape. Cold days finds me cooking up mash as well to pamper the dear hens.

          I also love to bake, do up a batch of homemade bread, and make a huge pot of soup when wintry winds are blowing outside. I hate to leave the warmth inside and double up on my clothing to brave the frigid temperatures outside when it’s time to go feed my animals. But what joy to come back inside and toast my body beside a crackling fire with a cup of hot tea as a fat lazy cat curls up on the rug at my feet.

          During cold days I’ve been doing some much needed cleaning inside. One week I cleaned out my closet in the master bedroom. I couldn’t believe all the stuff I had stuck in there that needed sorting out. Doing a room each month helps me to keep more on top of things- at least that is my goal.  It’s amazing how dirt and everything piles up.

          This winter I decided not to start tomatoes etc on my dining room table. It takes a lot of work to set it up and then keep up with the growing plants. So I chose to take a year off of my indoor greenhouse. In the meantime I am enjoying the bright blossoms of my geranium and impatiens that I brought inside and are sitting on a sunny windowsill beside my computer along with the other blooming plants that I have indoors while freezing winds howl outside. 

          Stay warm on your end and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
          Dorcas