Don’t Ever Say

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You know when you are watching a movie and one of the exacerbated characters says “What else could possibly go wrong?” and you roll your eyes because you know that one should never tempt the fates and state such things out loud.  Hello, my name is the exacerbated character.

It all started with Rosie passing away.  She was out grazing and hopping along in the morning like always.  When I checked on her in the afternoon, she was gone-laying peacefully in the grass in the warm sunshine.  I didn’t see any signs of trauma, which I was so thankful for.  Little did I know this was an omen for progressively worse events to come.

Neil had complained of a sore throat and chills last week.  I told him to lay down, get some rest and take some extra vitamins.  As a traveler, I don’t get sick days, so I have to be at work no matter what.  I am not much of a caller outer anyway and have worked in much worse condition than patients I was taking care of!

I quarantined Neil to our room to contain the germs and slept on the couch.  The next night at work Neil stated he felt worse and wasn’t able to eat or drink anything.  I told him to take a warm bath to settle his belly and I would be home soon.  I came home to find Neil pale and sweaty on the bathroom floor.  I fixed him up with a few perks of being with an ER nurse and went outside to check the critters.

As I went into the Chicken Palace, Raffi was being very quiet.  He had been upset about Rosie passing away, so I picked him up to give him a little extra love.  When I did, I caught that unmistakable scent of infection.  I moved his cloud of fur and saw a wound on his back.  I laid him on my lap and as I assessed the wound, a large insect like face stuck its head out of the wound and looked straight at me.

I have seen a lot of crazy things in my day, but that caught me off guard.  I immediately called the vet and stated we were on the way.  I ran inside to tell Neil I would be back soon, who incoherently mumbled a response.  As I walked out of the house with a rotten Raffi in my arms, I looked around and loudly stated “what else could go wrong?!”  And thus apparently sealed my fate.

The vet got Raffi and I back immediately and informed me Raffi had a warble-a bot fly larvae living inside his skin.  These parasitic flies lay their eggs inside skin and as the eggs develop eat the surrounding flesh.  They can infect different animals and humans.  Have a strong stomach? Check out this YouTube video HERE.

Raffi and I returned home, warble larvae free, and I tended to Neil over the next two days.  He had been sick now for several days and kept getting worse, he hadn’t eaten in days and couldn’t get out of bed.  I got him to urgent care, and they sent us to the emergency room.

Neil was admitted to the hospital and continued to be super sick for days.  Staying by his side non stop, worried sick and trying to manage everything at home was exhausting.  I was literally so fatigued my vision was blurry-I was completely emotionally and physically drained.

On one of my runs home to tend to the animals, I pulled up to the house in tears.  I had been gone almost 14 hours and knew the animals were long overdue for some attention.  Oliver was sleeping on his porch and when he saw it was me pulling up, he jumped out of bed and spun in circles, kicking up his heels in absolute joy.  It was so funny and unexpected I laughed out loud through my tears.

Finally after several days in the hospital, Neil began to turn around.

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He is now at home resting and getting stronger every day.  I can’t thank everyone enough for all the calls, visits, texts and Facebook support-it was much needed.  A special thank you to my parents who came up to the hospital and made sure Neil was ok and I was too.

So, what might you ask did this redhead learn from all this? Don’t ever, ever, ever say “What else could go wrong?!”

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Nesting Box Surprise

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Good morning my lovely readers!

Guess what I found all tucked away neatly in the nesting box yesterday?

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Our very first egg from our colorful flock of ladies.  I am not sure who was the first to start the egg laying, but we are definitely glad they did.  Six months seems like such a long time when awaiting your first egg!

The busyness of the warm weather homestead duties seems to be winding down.  Before we know it, we will be buckling down and preparing for cold weather.

We are working on remodeling our bathroom and putting up a back-splash in the kitchen.  Once those two projects are done, our whole home renovation will be complete.

We are in the process of upgrading all our pots, pans, plates and other fun kitchen accessories, and we have had a great time shopping and replacing the old things together.  We bought some lovely cast iron pieces.  Anyone have any cast iron recipes to share? I don’t have a lot of experience with cast iron, but know they are super versatile.

We replaced our chemically coated non-stick pots and pans with natural, ceramic to avoid cooking chemicals into our food.  I have removed quite a bit of household and hygiene products and replaced them with organic/natural products.  Even though this can be an inconvenience and sometimes more costly, the health benefits are well worth it.

I have one week left at my current travel assignment and will be heading to Raleigh to start my next one in September.  It is crazy how fast 13 weeks goes by!

Neil and I have a little adventure planned this weekend.  We are headed to Stoneville, NC, to enjoy a few lazy hours floating down the Dan River and enjoying the scenery.  I am so looking forward to a break from working so much.

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Rabbit Shenanigans

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Things are really seeming to come together here on the homestead.  It has been a long week this week as I am working six shifts again at two different hospitals.  Neil has his hands full with his police duties and the upcoming promotion process.

With us working so hard, we both have been able to pay off some important debts and couldn’t be happier about it.  It is such an incredible feeling to see a zero balance on a credit card that has had quite a few numbers in that place for quite awhile!

Each week of travel nursing allows me to continue to knock down some of our debt and save for upcoming projects and trips.

Our garden has been quite neglected in recent weeks. Despite the multitude of ripe, hot peppers on the plants, they have remained outside.  Neil made his own batch of hot sauce this week and everything in the house suffered the consequences.  The spice was in the air, on the counters and on his hands, and after a few hours everything seemed to be on fire.  Don’t make hot sauce in the house again, lesson learned.

Since Oliver is the king of mischief and perseverance, the heavy duty horse mat floor we installed when we moved in, barely held up a year.  He became obsessed with eating holes into it and ate down until he go to the floor, then he ate some more.  Our mats were ruined and so was the floor.  Such a naughty, naughty pig.

We took out the rubber mats and replaced it with thick plywood.  Although it isn’t the nicest looking floor, it serves a purpose and was a reasonably inexpensive fix option.  We will eventually have to replace the floor and will be installing a beautiful barn door to close off Oliver’s room when we have company, so it will work for now.

Rosie developed a huge abscess on her face this week, which had to be lanced by yours truly. Despite my tough ER stomach, the amount and consistency of what came pouring out of that abscess, made me a bit queasy.  It is healing nicely and doesn’t seem to bother her one bit.

Raffi disappeared for a night this week and I was so worried he had been nabbed by some carnivorous creature.  When he didn’t come home to the Chicken Palace at dusk, or come when he was called-he is the only rabbit I know who responds to his name-I feared the worst.

After a night of worrying, his fluffy tail came bounding back onto the homestead from who knows where and I was so glad to see him!

The hot summer trudges on and we are looking forward to the fall weather coming in.

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Predictable Pleasures

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Happy Friday!

I am SO looking forward to this weekend for some much needed scrubs free days.  Although I enjoy my career as an emergency room nurse, there are times it is utterly exhausting.  After working at two different hospitals over the last few weeks, this redhead needs a break.

Neil and I are having a fabulous date night at a local restaurant tonight, and we are both looking forward to their delicious looking menu and an intimate night out together.

Saturday, we are planning a flea market adventure in Raleigh and will then be headed to my parents farm to check out the progress of their construction.

It is so refreshing to have a few days in a row at home.  Coming back to the homestead every morning after a long night shift, is one of the most looked forward to parts of my day.

I am greeted by the soft, yet always persistent, bleats of the ever hungry Sawyer and Daisy.

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Oliver is sure to pop his head out of the piggy door as if to say, “Welcome home Mom!”  As I head down to the Chicken Palace, the girls push themselves up against the wire, clambering over each other, to determine if my visit is bringing them food or freedom.

Coming into the quiet house, I am greeted by the ferocious tail wags of Peanut and a slight acknowledgement of my presence from Princess Lily in her warm bed.

Neil greets me with a sweet, sleepy kiss from our bed and I feel more complete than I could ever imagine.

These simple, predictable pleasures have become my morning mantra and I fall asleep knowing I am entirely surrounded by breathtaking blessings..

Until next time…

 FINALSIGNOFF

Healthier Food Choices on the Homestead

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I worked six, twelve hour shifts at two different hospitals this week and it whooped me.  I have fallen completely out of the habit of working this much.  With only two nights off, I start another stent of shifts tonight.

With a few naps thrown in over the last few days, Neil and I managed to get some chores knocked out too.  Neil redid the entire deck with DeckOver and it made a huge difference.  What do you think?

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This product was relatively inexpensive ($35 a can) and did a great job.  The DeckOver was very thick and dried quickly, so you had to roll it on smoothly and rapidly, but we are thrilled with results.

The chickens and rabbits-who knew rabbits would free range and then go back to the Chicken Palace when it is time for bed-have been doing great.  Raffi sure enjoys the extra freedom.

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It has been a HOT summer.  The weather here in central North Carolina has been in the mid 90s for the majority of the past few months.  Despite the intense heat, our little garden has done pretty well.  Our cherry tomatoes have completely taken over the garden.  Some days we are harvesting a basket full of tomatoes a day.

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Our fig tree has also been growing like crazy.  I don’t know much about fig trees, so if anyone has any care tips, I would love to hear them.

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Over the last few months I have been on a journey of eating healthier.  I have been watching documentaries (Forks Over Knives on Netflix is super interesting!) and reading articles and websites.  I find it interesting that we live in a world where eating “real food” is no longer the norm.  A huge reason Neil and I live on a homestead and are slowly building a self sufficient environment is to have affordable, real food choices.

This week Neil and I joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  If you are local, check out Coon Rock Farm.  We will be getting a variety of fresh, natural raised chicken, pork, beef and veggies.  Prices of CSA tend to be a slight deterrent for folks, but if you look at it closely, it is absolutely worth it.  We spend roughly $60 a week on meat and produce when we go to the grocery store.  To enroll in the meat CSA, it is an up front cost of $500 for 6 months.  This breaks down to $83 a month or $20 a week.

To enroll in the produce CSA it is $500 for 20 weeks. This breaks down to $100 a month and $25 a week.  Utilizing the meat and produce CSA, we will be spending $45 a week on meat and produce, which is a $15 a week savings-that’s around $300 savings over the course of the CSA.  Not only are we supporting a local farm and getting chemical free food delivered to our door, we are saving a nice chunk of change.  Check out this site for more CSA options, EatWild.

Make sure you like Homestead Redhead on facebook so you can stay up to date with the yummy goodness we get each week from the CSA and all our other homestead happenings.

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Relentless Schedules

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These last few weeks have been relentlessly busy.  I spent several years living that way, working days upon days in a row, cramming as many to do’s and outings with family and friends I could possible fit into a week.

Since Neil and I have settled in to our house together 7 months ago now, we both have worked hard at aligning our schedules and not jam packing our days full of obligations and chores.  I hadn’t realized until now just how used to that quieter lifestyle I had become.

The way our schedules fell the last few weeks has been tough.  In addition to this, I start a part time job this week at a new hospital so I’m working six shifts instead of my usual three.  We will both be super glad to get things settled back down in another few weeks.

My current assignment is only a few weeks away from coming to a close (3 months flew by!) and I will be starting my next assignment at a hospital in Raleigh, NC in September.

I was able to catch up on some homesteading chores this week, for which all the critters were grateful!

I cleaned out all the nest boxes and got them ready for our soon to be big girls to start earning their keep in the coming weeks.  I’m so curious as to who will lay first!

I was able to fertilize our plants and crops as well as catch up on harvesting tomatoes this week.  Our cherry tomato bush is out of control. Check it out…

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Neil and I will start our master bathroom overhaul in the next few weeks.  It is the last room in the house we have left to renovate and I can’t wait to show ya’ll the end result.  For my birthday my parents bought us the gorgeous vessel sinks we wanted and we had a custom vanity built for them to go on.

Hope all is well with you and yours!

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Cherry Tomatoes Galore

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Neil and I spent the day yesterday browsing the big Raleigh flea market.  It was so fun looking through the eclectic collection of things.  If you are anywhere near Raleigh, I definitely recommend checking it out, there is something for everyone!

Our work schedules have been a bit hectic lately, but we are both working hard to get out of debt.  Since traveling is a great opportunity to catch up on debt, I have been budgeting carefully.  Six weeks into my current assignment, I have been able to pay off the chicken coop, half of one credit card and my not so friendly IRS bill from taxes last year.  Every time I get to remove something from my bill calendar it is so rewarding.

Since our cherry tomato plant has gone completely crazy, it now towers over me and has eaten the cucumber plant and invaded the rest of the tomatoes, we are getting tons of cherry tomatoes every day. Luckily I have found plenty of people to share them with, so none have gone to waste so far!

We harvested the potatoes this week, which were much smaller than we anticipated.  Overall the one ton potato box was a bust, so next year we are going to use it for something else and do a different potato growing plan.  We have gotten a few meals out of the potato harvest though so it wasn’t all bad.

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In the evenings, we have been free ranging the girls and the rabbits.  We weren’t sure Raffi and Rosie would stay around, but so far they run around the yard and go back to the coop when it is time to go to bed.  The girls adore this free ranging time-despite the magnificent home they have!-and run and fly around like they have been locked up for weeks.

The frizzles are definitely an interesting breed.  One frizzle has turned out beautifully.

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However, her two sisters are a bit special needs.  They have very odd behaviors which leads me to assume genetically they are not good stock.  We definitely won’t be breeding these two, but do enjoy the uniqueness they bring.  The smooth frizzle actually comes when you call her and will perch on your shoulder.  She is one of my favorites.

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A typical day in the Chicken Palace,

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Oliver’s porch got a makeover this weekend, he now has a new bed and a hopefully Oliver proof litter box.  He enjoys dumping all the dirty shavings out all over his porch, which is super fun to clean up.

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My grandmother is giving us a freezer next week which we are so grateful for.  This gives us the opportunity to look into a cow/pig share and prepare for next Spring when we plan to raise quail, turkey and rabbits for meat.

I hope everyone has had a great weekend, anyone working on any fun homestead projects?

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF