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.

Friday, April 19, 2019

APRIL Walker Newsletter

Hello!

This time of the year, surrounded by a riot of colorful blooms each day, puts a spring in one's heels making one want to do a happy dance- that is if one had the time or energy to do it. It's so exciting day by day see another plant peek out of the ground with tiny green leaves or watch new bulb unfurl its silky bud into a gorgeous flower that is enough to take one's breath away at the beauty of God's creation. Another interesting aspect is discovering some bulbs moving about from year to year in spots where I hadn't planted them thanks to the crazy squirrels.  Spring is definitely full of surprises on my end.

Dwight replaced the roofs on a couple of my bluebird houses, which I then spiffed up with new paint and then built a new roof for my large bird feeder out in the yard and lowered it down to my level making it easier for me to refill. Pastor Sam and Ricky Mamoran from our church came out the other month and put in a couple of windows in the chicken barn for ventilation that was much needed.
I've been busy outside each sunny day happily digging in the dirt planting seeds, thining, and transplanting flowers. I got my red beets, peas, spinach, and lettuce sowed in the garden and hope to get my beans in this week.

But the most thrilling thing yet is the seven baby ducks I bought a month ago. I have missed seeing ducks waddling around the yard eating bugs so much. And since my disastrous experience with the guinea hens didn't work out as bug catchers I have turned back to ducks. I was able to resist the first batch of baby ducks that arrived where I buy my feed convincing myself that I needed to wait until Tex was a bit older and calmer, but the second batch that came in was my waterloo. I must have spent fifteen minutes- thankfully the store was practically empty- talking to the sweet little things and arguing with myself before finally giving in. I made sure to get some big and little ones in order to have males and females as baby ducks are a lot of work to raise and I'd prefer for them to keep up the population themselves. It's amazing how fast little duckies grow. They are now out of the brooder and down in the old henhouse- Dwight helped me plug up all the holes- where there hasn’t been any signs of rats since we kept poison out for a couple of months now thank goodness. I put in a small pool for them and what fun they have splashing and playing around. Tiny wisps of feathers have appeared on their little bodies. I love going out each day, despite having to lug water and feed, to the ducks hearing them chatter as soon as they hear my voice and watching their tiny tails waggle back and forth in joy as I fill up the feeder with food and pour out the water. I have to tear myself away after indulging in watching them play in the water or run around exploring their new space. Always before I had just white ducks, which are difficult to tell apart- this time I got ducks that are multicolored in order to be able to name them. I am open to any suggestions for names. What fun!

The plan is to put in a two smaller gates in the duck pen (the old chicken yard)- one going to the yard around the house and the other to the woods- and make the large gate in the fence more secure that divides our yard and woods in half. That way we can keep Tex down in the woods while the ducks are safe to wander around the house or Tex at the house and let the ducks roam the woods. Then once the ducks are put up for the night Tex can have the run of the place. My daughter also suggested that I can let the hens (Butterscotch, Peaches, Henny, Penny, Matilda, Chicken Little, Nicole, Big Mama, and the four that look so much alike you can’t tell apart: Enne, Meene, Minne, and Moe) roam around as well when the ducks are in the yard. This will really help keep the tick population down that is to be worse this year.

Right now I’m halfway through a huge project from sheer desperation. The hedge along the fence in front of the woods has gotten completely out of control due to Dana being hospitalized  a couple of times each year and me being down on antibiotics from ticks. When I went to tackle it last year I realized that the large trunks were too thick to cut with my clippers as I want to cut it way back in order to keep it no higher than the fence.  So I got a brainstorm and decided that I could learn to handle the saw all that is smaller than a heavy chainsaw. I figured the hedge couldn’t be much higher than 6 to 8 feet and I could load the cut branches in the back of Dwight’s pickup. Well lo and behold, after Dwight carefully explained how to use the saws all and I geared up with heavy gloves to attack the hedge, once I got in the hedge it was a lot bigger than I had thought towering way over me. Not to be deterred I braced myself and began cutting the first branch. I managed to get the saws all jammed a couple of times until Dwight explained that I needed to cut at the back of the lean instead of into it. Then the blade fell off on me, which Dwight put back in and tightened up.  Slowly but surely huge branches began to topple over like small trees. When the enormous branches fell over the fence, despite tugging with all my might and main I couldn’t budge them, so dear Dwight would come and help me drag them over the fence and up into the back of the truck. We loaded up the pickup twice with huge loads- it turns out they are more like 12 to 15 feet long. I made it halfway down the hedgerow before having to quit yesterday looking like a crazy woman with tangled hair streaming down my face as I wrestled with the massive branches. Needless to say I am going a lot slower today, but the hedgerow is looking so much better already.  As usual I need to hush up as I’ve run out of room.

May you have a blessed Easter season!
Dorcas

Friday, March 15, 2019

MARCH Walker Newletter

Hello!

Here we are halfway through March already. How time flies.
The earth is coming alive as spring arrives here in the Tennessee Mountains. The crocus, mini iris, and daffodils are blooming brightening up my plot of ground with a range of colors while the row of forsythia bushes are slowing opening their yellow buds.  Some of my cherry blooms froze in the last cold spell, but thankfully all weren't open so hopefully I'll still get some cherries. Last year they all froze out.

This time the big news is that Dwight moved back home. When Dana turned 62 this year in November the "powers that be" decided that not only was Dwight eligible for SSI (state insurance) that he has been on all his life, but also Medicare (federal) since he was born disabled, although they insist that it is impossible to have duel insurance. Instead of having better insurance coverage suddenly Dwight was knocked off the insurance he had been on having to scramble around to get his clotting factor paid for as some of the other insurance wouldn't insure it or said he'd have to go to the dr's office for every shot, which was impossible as Dwight gets internal bleeds at night or on weekends- you can't time them. And of course it all was supposed to get worked out before the first of the year. Despite being on the phone constantly in all kinds of conference calls, Dwight ended up having to get some emergency factor to tide him over. Then his monthly check was split in two and we hoped that by getting two checks he might get a bit of an increase. Lo and behold didn't they end up giving Dwight $120 less! Only the government can do such crazy stuff. So Dwight suddenly wasn't able to even afford his apartment that was pro-rated. The month of Feb was a rush of cleaning Dwight's room from top to bottom and moving most of Dwight's things back home before
Dawn and her kids came the last weekend to finish moving all his furniture. What a job. On the bright side having Dwight here at home really helps me out.  Dwight’s back is still not back to normal so he can’t do much, but here he can walk outside on slower days instead of being confined to a small apartment or putter around in one of the workshops. And as you know there is always something happening here on the Walker farm, which can help keep Dwight’s mind off of what he can’t do as it’s difficult being so young and having a body where you can’t do stuff like normal. And when I have to run into town, Dwight will be here with Dana.

On Dawn’s side they finally got a big break through with Annette. It was very frustrating for Dawn knowing something was wrong and yet not being able to figure out why Annette kept getting so sick after eating. Ever since Annette was little she was a picky eater and often would get sick. First Dawn had to convince the doctor that Annette wasn’t depressed and didn’t need counseling, then they had her tested for all kinds of allergies, and nothing showed up out of range. The next step was Annette having all kinds of tests done where they discovered her esophagus was badly scarred- quite unusual for someone only 16 yrs old- and quite inflamed as well has her gallbladder. So last year Annette had gallbladder surgery. After recovering from that, she still got sick so Dawn tried eliminating different foods and spices, but no pattern showed up. When Dawn took Annette back to the surgeon and explained that Annette was still getting sick he told her that they couldn’t keep taking Annette’s organs out. Can you imagine? Dawn said she didn’t want Annette to keep having surgery she only wanted to find out the root of the problem. Frustrated Dawn took Annette back to the allergist specialist to try and get some answers. The crazy guy said (instead of him trying to figure out what was going on) that he’d run whatever tests Dawn wanted. So with all her research and testing of foods etc, Dawn made up a list of a bunch of things to test for. Lo and behold whey showed up. And when Dawn started looking at ingredients in stuff it all made sense. Did you know that cake mixes, gravy mixes, and a host of other things you wouldn’t think of have whey in it beside the obvious milk products and cheeses? Dawn was getting quite desperate and I was concerned as Annette’ skin had a white unhealthy pallor and sometimes she would binge eat as no matter what she ate, she’d get sick and often throw up- even Annette’s tongue would swell, yet she was always hungry. Even eating a small amount at a time didn’t help. It became normal for Annette to always leave the table after eating while the rest of us sat around talking. In one month’s time after making sure there was no whey in what Annette ate, there is color in Annette’s cheeks, and she is so happy she can eat and not get sick. It’s horrible it took so long to find out what was wrong, but thankfully Dawn wouldn’t give up. Finally Annette can start living a normal life and not have to worry about getting sick whenever she eats. Isn’t it amazing how intricate and finely tuned our bodies are?

Well I do need to hush up as I’m about to run out of space. 

Sending lots of spring hugs your way~
Dorcas

Saturday, February 16, 2019

FEBRUARY Walker Newsletter

Hello!

Winter arrived with a vengeance with highs in the low teens as frigid gusts swept the landscape bringing the wind chill factor even lower (so glad I'm not living up North and in the Midwest where the weather was a lot worse) then once again draws back a bit and it felt like spring this week with the temperature rising up in the 60's. What bliss! I have some daffodils almost ready to bloom and even my iris has poked their heads out of the ground as buds are swelling on the cherry bushes. According to the groundhog we are to have an early spring. What a wonderful thought.
I have been busy playing in the dirt. Instead of using my dining room table for my greenhouse that took a lot of time and effort to set up and keep going, I instead bought a couple of 3-tier wire baskets to hang at my sunny windows and started some flower seeds in bigger pots so I won't have to keep re-potting them. Most of the seeds have sprouted so I am keeping a close eye on them. I also planted some yellow clover that I didn't get around to doing in the fall.  Yesterday I went plum crazy outside and planted some tomato, pepper, cantaloupe, and squash seeds in my garden for winter planting instead of indoors- something I've never done before, but have read about and wanted to try. If it works it will save oodles of work as I can transplant them right there in the garden. Am I getting lazy or what?  

Dwight got out the 4-wheeler and big wagon and helped me haul a couple big loads of manure that I cleaned out of the hen house that we put on the garden. I was quite worn out when that job was accomplished, but the hens are enjoying fresh straw in the barn. At the beginning of winter when the temperature got quite cold the egg production went down quite a bit like usual. Someone told me to give them red pepper seeds to keep them laying so I've been sprinkling some in their water every time I fill it up. It really works. I get six to eight eggs a day despite the temperature. I guess the hot pepper warms up their insides- ha! It's amazing what a person can learn no matter their age. I figure since I have to feed the dear girls I might as well get eggs in return. Some of the eggs are the size of duck eggs and too big to fit into an egg carton. I do love my fresh brown eggs that range in color from dark brown to light; some speckled some plain.

Tex loves to race around the chicken pen barking thinking he is herding the chickens. Most of the time the hens simply ignore Tex and go about their business scratching in the dirt. Tex has become a good watchdog. He is definitely the top dog of the Walker farm and keeps me busy trying to instill some manners into his doggy head.

Inside on freezing days my long-haired calico cat, Sarah Annabelle, stretches lifeless against the roaring wood-stove in catty bliss. Even when I don’t have a fire in the wood-stove, she will lie with her paws up against the cold stove trying to find some warmth. Talk about faith.

Dana remains much the same with bad and good days. This week I met with the pharmacist about insurance problems that continue to plague us. Even though Dana has been on many meds for years now that the company has paid for, they still try to get out of paying saying the dosage is too high etc. so the pharmacist has to go through all kinds of extra measures and paperwork to keep Dana’s meds coming. On my end I’m constantly bombarded with paperwork too. I wish the environmentalists that want to save the planet and spend millions of dollars for needless projects would focus instead on the government and insurance paper waste of endless forms. For Dana alone we could save a forest of trees.

I decided this year to make my motto:  to have an attitude of gratitude. Life has a way of constantly throwing curves and unexpected upheavals, but I am determined to make it a priority to focus on the positive- even with insurance trials etc. That doesn’t mean that I will never stress out again- wouldn’t that be lovely- but I can count my blessings despite circumstances. For when life gets out of my control, I can rest assured that God still has control.

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
Dorcas

Monday, January 21, 2019

JANUARY 2019 Walker Monthly Newsletter


Hello and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


The winter so far this year in the Tennessee Mountains is mild.  You'd think it was Spring. It swings from one day to the next with freezing temperatures to nice sunny weather up in the 50's so the flu and colds are everywhere. We need a good solid freeze- hopefully not at the end of March when everything is starting to bloom- to kill germs and bugs. Meanwhile it's good to  know that the Lord is in control.


Most of December was a whirlwind trying to get the house decorated for Christmas, finish all my Christmas projects (this year I took on more than what was sensible, but what is new, huh? finishing a big painting for Annette, crocheting an afghan for Dawn, painted a large flat stone with Dwight's name on it, making matching holiday scarfs, and sewing buttons to make flowers on shirts for my granddaughters). Then getting all the presents wrapped, make up clues, and hide presents for the grand-kids. We've never spent large amounts of money on Christmas, but instead focus on having fun and making memories while opening gifts after our candle-lit supper. 


 Since Katie is learning to read and knows her colors I used colored dots for each room her present was hid in where she had to find the matching dot in that room. For my grandsons I made up a code they had to decipher to find out where their presents were. Annette turned sixteen so I put her with the adults. The last couple of years I've been wrapping up their presents with the names inside where they have to try and guess what present is theirs, but decided to shake things up a bit more. With Annette there was two guys and two girls so I put them in teams guys against the girls. Not only did I mix up the wrapping paper, but if they got a present from the opposing team they would lose a point instead of gaining one. I allowed them to feel and hold a present with the stipulation if they made a hole in the paper they had to take it. Things got real exciting when the girls started losing points. Gifts were pawed through, shook, and squeezed until the ribbons and bows were coming loose and falling off. Even the kids got involved giving advice as points were gained and lost. The guys finally won. As usual our family time together was too short, but oodles of memories were made.

I mucked out the henhouse (5 wheelbarrows full that I put on my flower beds), put down fresh straw and refilled the nests, and then another day filled up a large garbage can 5 times with leaves that I spread around in the chicken yard.  The hens were quite excited- you should have heard all the clucking and scratching going on. It was quite the hen party. I'm keeping water in the heated bowls as well. It's well worth pampering the girls as they produce such lovely fat brown eggs each day.

Another day I was out enjoying the warmer weather as I planted some bulbs for spring. Then I did something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now. I spray painted some snowbush blooms I had dried a light blue, dabbed some silver metallic paint on some of my money plant dried blooms and with some of the regular whitish blooms made up a winter bouquet. I thought it turned out quite lovely. Who says you can’t have flowers in the winter?

To start out the New Year I had to take Dana back to the hospital again where he was kept for a week in the psych ward as he needed some of his meds adjusted again. Dawn and Annette came and met me at the hospital parking lot the next day and took me back home with them. I hadn’t been able to visit them for over two years. It was thrilling to see what all they had done to their house that is almost finished getting completely remolded, get acquainted with their goats, chickens, ducks, new cat, and dogs.  I called the hospital twice a day to keep informed and in touch with Dana and for the first couple of days felt a bit lost not having to keep up with all of his meds, insulin shots, oxygen, etc. It was so wonderful to be able to spend more time with the grand-kids and see Dawn’s Christmas decorations. Dawn and her family totally spoiled me. What fun cuddling on the couch crocheting with Katie (she is now doing a double crochet stitch) and working with Annette on her afghan! I was able to go with Dawn to church Sunday morning to worship and see some folk I hadn’t seen in quite awhile. It also was neat getting to visit with Judy (the other Mamma) that lives down the road and is like an older sister. By the time I left to come back and pick up Dana, I was quite rested up and feeling more like myself.


Just what I needed as since then life has been quite fast paced getting back into Dana’s schedule again, spending a morning with the home health nurse going over all his meds and hospital notes, updating his meds, putting cream on Dana neck a couple times a day that got stiff in the hospital, taking his blood pressure a couple times a day trying to run down why it was raised more than normal the first three days in the hospital, and keeping an eye on Dana’s increased fluid. I took Dana to the primary doctor for a visit, got him rescheduled to see the cardiologist, and then visited the lung specialist where now he not only needs to have three breathing treatments a day, but also use a spirometer and inhaler to try and see if this won’t help increase his oxygen level. Some days I feel like I am running a hospital with myself the only staff member. Dana’s dementia is also worsening.  He will get confused and forget what he was trying to say.  At Christmas he had to keep asking what his grandchildren’s names were. One day when Dana was trying to read a verse in the Bible- one he had quoted by memory for years- it was like hearing someone just starting to learn to read. Seeing his brilliant mind deteriorate is heartbreaking.


I’m thankful for all the prayer support you have given us. It means so much. How wonderful to know that when things around us change, God never changes and He is our sure foundation.


Until next month-

Dorcas