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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

The crisp fall weather has arrived here in the Charlotte, NC region, and our honey bees are tucked into their hive; with a few guards wandering out to the ledge of the hive entrance.

The following photos are not breathtaking by any means. I am saving up for a Digital SLR Camera (My SLR is a late 1980’s Pentax Film Camera). These are taken with just an iPhone. And, my menace of a big, young dog (Barry) was pulling on his leash while I was trying to get a good shot.

But here is what I was able to manage within those parameters.

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Maybe next week Barry will be sleeping and I can get an even closer close-up pic of a honey bee or two. I should probably pull out my old reliable Pentax, use that “through the lens” viewpoint and have some old school film developing done. I think I have some good Fuji 35mm spools around here somewhere…

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About a third of our flock is now sneezing and/or coughing a bit. That makes it the 4th pet/livestock issue in a week. All four separate problems. And, there is another tropical storm coming (from the South West not the South East this time).

That tub has Poultry Cell Rooster Booster in it. It has vitamins, minerals and more. The current issue was starting up yesterday (or the day before – it’s all a blur), so they all had access to a big bowl of plain Greek yogurt. You shouldn’t give them this too often, so yesterday they got a bowl of coconut oil to help boost their immune response. It also adds calories to birds that may be losing weight from illness. Now that I am writing this I realize that it must have been Monday that this problem began.

See those hanging soda bottle drinkers? One has poultry cell solution and one has organic apple cider vinegar in it. I’ll probably put out a bowl of coconut oil again today, since it is not too soon to give them that again.

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In the meantime, our beloved old dog Deirdre can now stay on her feet for 10-15 minutes at a time post-surgery. She is drinking and eating and trying to spit out pain pills. But she likes the peanut butter I smear on her lips before popping the pills into the back of her mouth.

I keep chants ready in the back of my mind for challenging situations. Sometimes it is “It’s not about me”, sometimes it is ” I don’t give a f@@k”, sometimes it is “Relax your body starting with your toes, then your ankles and all the way up to your head”, sometimes it is “Keep practicing kindness not matter how horrible someone is acting towards you”…

The one in my brain now, as I am making my morning rounds filling water & food containers and checking in on everybody is: “Thank you for not being dead”.

 

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There is a full feature film of this from 1982. The title is a Hopi Native American word meaning “life out of balance”. I have not thought of it in a while, but it possibly describes what our life is really like. I write these blogs about our lifestyle here on the farmette, but they are merely glimpses into our lives. There are so many days when I feel the world is coming after us full force.

This time last fall, the medical issues of my husband started picking up speed. Early the next year, January 2018 (I think – it’s all a blur), it was confirmed that he had Lynch Syndrome. The tests and procedures continued until a major surgery this summer 2018.

It was brutal. The range of reactions, emotions, house prepping, financial insecurity, disability planning and so on, wore us down beyond belief. And that was before the big day. Jamie could have died on the operating table. He could have come out of this with chronic medical problems. With all that, we would also lose the farmette, in addition to living the nightmare of my lovely husband/devoted father’s suffering.

A few weeks ago, we were clearing the whole property of objects that could become weapons in a hurricane. Tropical Storm Florence did make it all the way from the coast, straight through our farmette, which falls within the Greater Charlotte, NC Area. Even though the winds and rain were not as bad as expected, it was a deadly storm in our county, Gaston. In Dallas, NC, a few towns over, a tree fell on a mobile home and killed an infant.

 

This Week.

On Sunday, our young dog, Mr. Barry White, ate a mystery something on his walk. He lunged for it, so I know it was something smelly and likely meat-based. On Monday, he got really sick. He had severe diarrhea and threw up a lot. I’m pretty positive that some of our chickens then ate the throw-up, because that mess miraculously disappeared. Wednesday or Thursday morning (It’s a blur), our dying rooster, Agador (The most spectacular rooster that we have ever had) was hunched over a dead hen. He did not last long after that, maybe an hour or two.

Barry stayed sick for a few days. I gave him a bit of plain Greek yogurt and then eventually some chicken and rice. He’s a healthy boy, so we managed his illness ourselves. He’s fine now.

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That ran into the next disaster.

On Wednesday evening, Deirdre, our eighty-five pound, twelve and a half year old Collie/Golden Retriever hybrid (Gollie), was laying on the floor, refusing to get up. Within a few hours, she was prone on the floor and would not lift her head or even a foot. If you whispered in her ear enough, she would wag her tail a little.

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The family gathered around her, crying and saying goodbye. In the wee hours, we eventually went to sleep, and woke up to Deirdre sitting up a bit.

On Friday, she made it up onto her feet. By mid-day she did not look good again, so I called the vet. I got off the phone and pondered the situation a bit. Then I called back and scheduled a fit-in appointment for 5pm.

X-rays were taken, and surgery was discussed. At that time I did not want to put an old dog through that. I called my husband at work. He did not want to put her through that. I took her home, after making plans to meet the vet at 7:30 am, Saturday morning, to put her to sleep.

Deirdre and I got home. Within a minute or two, she was bleeding from her back side – a lot. I walked out of that room and into the main living area. It was at that point that I saw Vincent.

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Vincent – the 19 month old, gorgeous, extremely smart, black cat.

I had taken him to the vet three weeks ago. He seemed to have lost weight. It was confirmed that he had. He had gone from 9.8 pounds down to 8.6.

Vincent had previously tested negative for feline leukemia at Tri-County Animal Rescue. The vet did not think he had a major illness like diabetes or a thyroid imbalance. We decided to monitor him and hold off on any testing.

Approximately 7 pm Friday night (It’s a blur).

The look of Vincent was bad. He was unbalanced. His eyes were somewhat glassy. However, when I picked him up, limp in my hands, he was purring. His symptoms worsened. By then, it was late at night and we had early plans with our dog. So, I caught a quick three hours of sleep.

At 4am, he was still alive – and purring. At 5am he was still alive, and quiet. At 6am, he started a painful cry.

I took Deirdre outside to the grass in the front yard. She wet. I did not have her on a leash. She took off trotting down the sidewalk and up the front stoop steps. Apparently that blood loss had also relieved pressure. She was acting like herself, full on.

At 6:45 am, Vincent was loaded into the van. Then my husband and I loaded his big, uncooperative dog into the back. At that time, the plan was to have the vet look at Deirdre second, and then, ATT, figure out what to do next with her, but try to save Vincent first.

At 7 am, Vincent was deceased, before we even left the driveway. That was when we really began to unravel, me more than my husband. My husband describes my behavior upon arrival at the vet’s office as unhinged. I wholeheartedly agree.

According to our description of what happened to Vincent, and especially his sudden distended abdomen, the vet is almost positive he had something that has a nearly 100 percent mortality rate. There is no effective vaccination or treatment for this virus. Albeit a contagious, yet uncommon, disease, it mysteriously affects indoor cats with no outdoor cat contact. Other cats in the household don’t normally fall ill after the fact. It hits kittens and young cats 0-2 years old.

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We were at the vet with Deirdre. She was her happy self, but still bleeding a bit. Since xrays had been taken the night before, only a blood test was necessary at this point. Between all of those results and her heart rate, etc. she was good to go for surgery.

Deirdre was really tired and not upset by being there, so we left her with them for a projected afternoon surgery. We drove home.

My husband dug a hole out back. I wrapped Vincent up in a blanket and bag. And, we buried him.

Deirdre went into surgery as Jamie was driving into work for a partial shift.

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I drove back to Richard L. Hovis, DVM at Dickson Animal Clinic in Gastonia, NC. It’s worth the 25+ minute drive – they are reasonably priced and are as caring, professional and knowledgeable as a veterinary office could be. They let me sit with her while she came out of anesthesia.

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Our Deirdre is now home resting and recovering as well as can be expected for an old dog.

Vincent. Beautiful Vincent.

I had, a little, time, to take things in, and cry, a little, this morning. My husband did not. He’s on his way back out to work right now.

KOYAANISQATSI

 

 

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Our honey bees were having a great Saturday out and about. And, they let me stand at the front entrance to take photos without trying to sting me.

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These were taken after one of my favorite Saturday outings – The Farmer’s Market. Whenever I go, I usually spend every last penny in my pocket. Everything is fresh and a lot of it is homegrown. You can get meat right from the livestock farmers.

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There are plenty of fruits and vegetables,

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flowers,

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and seasonal items; like this weird pumpkin that is now gracing our front stoop with it’s awesome presence.

It was a nice cloudy day with threatening dark clouds that never produced rain. I got out walking in the humid, yet fresh, air. It was a busy work week and the markets allow me to stretch out some of the aches and pains that I get from hunching over my computer all day.

There is a farmer’s market in our town down the road that I like a lot, but it’s slim pickings after Labor Day when it becomes a tailgate market. I also like the Dallas, NC Flea Market that is not too far from here. There are a few Hispanic run produce hubs at that one that I just adore.

But today it was The Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market. Their website fails to show just how great it is. They have four, huge, covered, open-ended buildings with a few cooked food vendors outside too. If you live in the area, it is a must visit for the Greater Charlotte Area.

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Farmette 1769’s honey bees are no worse for the wear after Tropical Storm Florence last weekend. I guess I can take the tent stakes out of the ground now. Or maybe my shadow can take care of that task.

 

Our honey bees were out enjoying this hot, sunny Saturday. They had been doing this all day while I was at Carolina Chickenstock. It’s like Woodstock, but with chickens.

It is actually a large poultry buy and sell gathering that happens twice a year in Taylorsville, NC. It is almost an hour away from me, which is doable. Breaking an hour and a half total driving in a day is difficult for me. I have degenerative discs in my cervical spine of the neck. I have had surgery, but you fix one spot and the one below crumbles more. I broke my self-inflicted limit and will pay for it for a day or two, but it was so much fun!

I purchased a pair of white homing pigeons, which were being sold in pairs only. We only had one pigeon here since Petunia’s boyfriend was killed by a snake.

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This is the new pair. They’re gorgeous!

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The quad travel cage was still in the back of my truck, so Petunia came all the way into the garage to investigate the familiar sounds of friends. The new pair will stay caged for 2-3 weeks until they know that this is their new home.

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I was lucky enough to happen upon a Dark Cuckoo Maran Hen for sale. They lay dark brown eggs. Even though the nutritional content is the same, we love having the variety of colors in our egg basket.

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I stole this pic off the net. This is what her eggs should look like. We have brown, tan, white and blue egg layers right now. It will be great to have this color too!

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It really was my lucky day. I found a juvenile pied guinea fowl. We have two juvenile pearl, which are this color without the chrome aka white splashes. The contrast is beautiful, albeit hard to see in this photo at this angle.

I got up really early to pack up for selling, did a lot of buying and chatting, came home and got the newbies settled in, took care of Barry the giant, crazy puppy and a gabillion other things.

So that’s all for now – I’m tired.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

 

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This is the first stretch of the storm gully up next to the roadside. Our property goes downhill from here. This pipe accommodates water from several properties up and down Old NC 27 Hwy (it is more of a small, winding road than an actual highway).

The arrow points to our main poultry coop in the distance. I put a big blue tarp over it before I wandered up to check out the water situation.

This is the same spot as the following photo from this morning.

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Pic from the previous blog post this am today.

The water line has come up quite a bit. The rain is a fine, dense downpour, and steady.

Later down the gully is the third spot where a pipe goes underground and out again. This one is much larger than the first two.

Before it gets dark,out again, I’ll go out to see what is happening. If there is a major change, and I still have access to the internet or LTE mobile network, you’ll get to see what is happening.

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NCmapFlorenceFlorence started off as a hurricane with far-reaching effects, especially on North and South Carolina. It metamorphosized into a tropical storm. We got the tropical storm part of it first, and are now experiencing the tropical depression phase.

There have been 35-ish MPH winds, and some gusts that seemed to be in the high 40s. And then there is all this rain.

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This is a small section of the run-off gully for our back-slanted property. It can fill in up the sides when there are heavy downpours. The cement pipe can barely be seen within the overgrowth. But it is not covered with water, which is a good thing.

The loss of power so far has been a less than 24 hour period. That’s pretty good for us. Being out on the country roads with a smaller population, our power restoration just does not have the priority of the cities full of teaming masses.

I left the suburbs of NJ, just across the Betsy Ross bridge from Philadelphia, when I was 18 years old. Then it was big cities for 25 years (Atlanta/GA, Frankfurt/Germany, Burbank/CA, Wilmington,/DE, etc.

Our first home purchase was one side of a duplex row house with .10 acre(s). When my husband got a job transfer offer of the greater Charlotte, NC area, we jumped on the opportunity to get acreage. It was less than 1/2 the price of the NE/USA area.

So, now we are out here. Big storms never bothered me much in the suburban or city locations. I actually love rain and storms, especially thunderstorms. But with them, out here on the country roads, preparation is a necessity. Not knowing just how strong the winds would be, we cleared the grounds on Wednesday; roofing material, wood, cages, poultry feeder/drinkers, etc.

When power is out, our water is out – due to the well system. Last night, when I should have been writing this article, I was filling up buckets and washing dishes; after the power came back on.

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We had planned to move the honey bee hive, first into the crawl space underneath the house, and then the nook right to the side of the front stoop. After further consideration, it was left in place.

I put the screen block on the hive entrance. The bees were overflowing when I was putting it on, at 5 am, so I left it at an angle. They can still get out, but it did slow them down.

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While adding the screened frame, I also strapped down the top, which is the most common recommendation for honey bee hives during hurricanes.

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This pic was taken early this morning. There are puddles gathering behind our hive.

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It seems to be time to take the screen off and let the honey bees out to weather the wet, stormy weather themselves.

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The arrow shows a big, dead beetle that dared to enter the hive. 

The bees seem to be happy to be out and about, although they are not storming out into the blustery rain.

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Florence should make its way past us today. Will more trees come down via over-saturated soil? Will we lose electricity again? I’m not sure at this point. But, albeit this weather event really wasn’t very bad for us, I’m really glad that we prepared well. Now that the yard is tidy and the household well-stocked, I may just get the chance to get back to that book reading I’ve been neglecting.

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