Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dear John Letter

Dear Aunt Rose, 

     I can no longer continue our relationship, I'm leaving you forever.  During our 45 year relationship, I have accommodated you in all your tempestuousness. Mostly you ruined one week out of three, yet sometimes you never bothered to even call after a four month absence. 
  Duty made me endure you because we were family, but when you started demanding premium space and crushing our other relatives, I had to draw the line.  What you have done to our little family is inexcusable.  It will require much time, money and patience to right what you have wronged.  
  This breakup will be painful and permanent.  I should've kicked you to the curb years ago.
  Did you really think you'd get away with suffocating Uncle Kidney Ken's blood supply and letting  him wither away to nothing?  Did you?
  You have been the most useless uterus ever, I wish I'd never met you.

  Most sincerely,

         The most tolerant woman who hopes it hurts when you incinerate on Monday.

Ode to my Ford

To the 2001 F-350 who has been so gracious as to ferry me and a host of critters all across the country, who's taken me back and forth to Canada, 
        THANK YOU!

You've never let me down and we always get our cargo home safely. To another 185,000 miles together.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Imp Was Home

Thursday, the imp returned home with a clean bill of health.

Pete had a wardrobe malfunction he got so excited.
The day I went to collect Dax, Tommy was admitted to the large animal clinic.

My glorious day off, painting my ox barn, enjoying the peace and quiet, it screeched to a halt when I realized Tommy was hobbling around worse than his usual arthritic shuffle.

His whole joint was inflamed and I could smell the infection. Houston we have a problem.

I soaked his foot and wrapped it in a custom protective boot (Gucci eat your heart out).
Alas, his vet wasn't impressed from the photos-- she claimed my efforts were in vain, he needed quick veterinary intervention.  FINE!  I lost one 10 year old boy this year, I'm not losing my 10 year old Tommy.  Ox ambulance coming through, get outta my way.
Is it wise to work 16 hour days the week before my own surgery?  Of course not, the plan was to gear down and ease into this week.  An antifreeze poisoning and rotting foot were nowhere on my agenda.  Murphy, you SOB, bring it on, Sunshine.  I'll probably be coming out of anesthesia on Monday throwing punches. 
My lawn still had its mowing, by flashlight, eat that Murphy.

Dax, on his first day back home from the hospital, squeezed through a gap in a gate and went on a solo walkabout Friday morning.  I searched for him frantically and discovered him 20 minutes later down on a trail.  Murphy, I will find you and kill you.

Silver lining:  it made my decision to send him to boarding school for a week that much easier to accept.  Yup, he's going to reform school.  Head Master Stewart Harvard will train him for the next week.

Muha, muhaha.
Tommy was released on the third day after his procedure.  I have loved that boy since he was 2 days old.  Anyone caught saying dumb ox around me is in for a knuckle sandwich.  He has a heart of gold.

Saturday morning, Dakota endeavored to build him a new home for recuperation.  He can't get his bad foot wet, or it will surely become reinfected.

A big stall and a small loafing area. 
Showing his gratitude by settling right in.

Don't know about the company you work for, but I bet your perk package doesn't include emergency ox housing.  No?  Keep your complimentary gym membership, season football tickets and premium parking.  These are the benefits I seek.
Tommy is irreplaceable.  

Murphy and his Law are off seeking easier prey.  And don't you come back, you scoundrel.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

64 Hour Party

While Dax is at Auburn University for three days, I will say a little prayer for the staff.  As there's a national shortage of the drug used to bond with the ethylene glycol before it can cause kidney damage, the vets are going old school: grain alcohol.  Yes, my puppy will be drunk for the next two days.  Knowing him, he's ringing up quite the bar tab.  The attending vet came back stating he was 'willful', I told her sugar coating wasn't necessary, he's a heathen, end of story.
Garrett and I will enjoy the tranquility of being Dax-less.

No longer under siege!

Party on Garth!

Look, I left a book on my coffee table and it was still there 10 minutes later.

I added a snack and drink to the table and neither vanished. What a concept.
I even got to sit on the johnny this morning without my pyjama bottoms being wrestled away from me.  

Pete is back in mourning, he misses the little turd, so I suppose when they call for me to pick him up on Thursday, I'll have to go.  I might actually be missing him by then. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday, Monday

9 PM Monday night finds Dax and I at the Auburn University Emergency Clinic. 
Before jumping to the finale, let me tell of how a promising day unraveled.
The day began with Allen clearing limbs, fallen during the storm, from the Farmhouse shrub beds...a day's worth, easy.
Flynn had both welders going building and repairing equipment.

And I was heading out to paint pasture fences.

My morning was punctuated with frustration aimed at the usually dependable small generator that was powering the equipment.
After an hour of trying to coax it to run 5 minutes without stalling, I gave up and we went to get mine.  My Honda is amazing, but weighs a couple hundred pounds.  

At least we were back in business!

And taking no prisoners.  33 gallons of black oil based paint in 7 hours. 

In order not to fight getting my hazmat suit off, I avoiding hydrating responsibly. Thinking as soon as I finished,I could go home and drink a gallon of water. Maybe eat something. Or not. Dax can foil any plans.
He was keeping me company as I was cleaning the paint machine and loading it up with Graco Armor, the recommended storage fluid. Dax's leash caught the bottle, some spilled and he lapped it up before I could stop him. I read the label, curious as to why he'd want to drink it to begin with. Ethylene alcohol. Antifreeze.  Oh dear God.
Quick call to our Dr Brown and she hastened me the vet school tout de suite.

You've never seen anyone wash her face and arms with mineral spirits so fast.
So here I sit at the vet school, pondering if I can play switcheroo with the money I'm supposed to be giving the hospital on Monday for my surgery.

Done. I'll figure it out tomorrow. He is insured because he's obviously inherited Cole's suicidal streak.
They want to keep him 36 hours for treatment. If it were Cole, I'd be sleeping in my car in the parking lot.  Not. I'm going back home tonight, eventually. 
Life, what a ride.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

My Kind of Sunday

Blessings on this Sunday:

Dax lost two teeth.  Now he and Peter are fighting with the same handicaps!
I can't wait for the new front teefs to grow in.

Then he'll look like a proper Alabama hound dog.
More good fortune on a mere little Sunday:

Our resident mechanic came in to run all the equipment through the shop for the weekly tuneups and blade changing that had been omitted this week due to Irma.  Now, we're ready for Monday.  
Sundays are my day to put the pedal to the metal and wrap up jobs. Like building an escape ramp out of our spare horse grave.  (Yes, I like to be prepared for the worst and no, after digging two graves for two large draft horses by hand, I ain't doing that again either).

Now, we don't have to worry about a creature being marooned in a ten foot hole.
We'd gotten more than half a large tree cleared from a driveway.

 And I found a second life for all the log slices.

I hauled to the woods where an old minnow hatchery and well have been found.

I had plans to resurrect the old tin roof over the well, but it will have to wait until winter when the resident cottonmouth has vamoosed.

To reach the spot, the trail I cut crosses a fragile wetland area.  Problem solved:

Up and down a hill umpteen times carrying 50 lb logs, I call that a good day at the gym.

Now, these are my kind of trails!!!  And this was my kind of day.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Irma Loses Her Punch

Sunday night-- we're hunkered down in the barn and awaited Irma.

By Monday morning the power was out and stayed out. Chickens roosted by flashlight for next 24 hours.

The horses stayed up in their stalls almost 36 hours.  They weren't thrilled and kept room service busy around the clock.  I have new facial wrinkles to prove it.

The forecast worsened every 12 hours until Irma's path passed directly over us. Joy.

 45-55 mph sustained winds and 75 mph gusts.

Are we in Kansas?
By Monday, cabin fever had set in.  Unwise at is was, I was zipping on my ATV from house to house checking for damages.

The driving rain and winds soaked and froze me to the core--reminiscent of Winter snowmobiling in Canada.  Makes one homesick.

Damages remained minimal. No structural or fence damages.  Call it luck with a dash of preparedness.  A family across the street had huge trees crush both their vehicles.  I do remember hearing them partying and shooting guns on Sunday when Allen and I were in overdrive with storm prep.  Despite having preparations of his own to make, Allen came through and helped me immensely.  Mark, from Birmingham, even after a severe asthma attack,was determined to make a 6 hour round trip to help too, but I managed to deter him, fearing he'd have difficulties making it home.  Friends are always there when you need them, life is good like that.  Made better too when we all get through unscathed. A little tired though...

So what if it took us 2 days to put everything back as it was-- we were ready!  So what if we spend the next month clearing lawns, shrub beds and trails-- it could've been so much worse.

Now that we have two chainsaws, we can buzz through the biggest trees.
I called to cancel my surgery a few hours before the hospital cancelled them all.  
I thought of using the extra time to try to decompress, take two days off and recuperate from the insane work.  Life can be a cantankerous cow sometimes.  My first day off was spent working in on my doggie Alcatraz project.  The second day was to see its completion.  Work hijacked my plans and I spent 11 hours there instead of here.  I clocked out at 7 PM last night, so frustrated I was ready to start walking back home to Canada.  Didn't help either that this marked two months since Cole passed.  I went and sat at his grave.  He reminded me I was a Smith and we fight, not give up.  So, I fought with my fencing past midnight last night.  It is done.

So what if my days off are on third shift now.  
The little heathen the fence is designed to contain and protect did at least contribute to the effort.

Even if all he did was hang out!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Irma Preparations

A week ago, Irma alighted in the news.  All predicted paths had her going far to the East of us.  Regardless, my primal self preservation kicked in and decided to start serious preps last week.

By Wednesday, we had all the equipment and all the tanks filled, just as the local gas station was running out of gas.
We have three generators on the farm, one behemoth being propane powered.  Even though chances were still slim we would be impacted by Irma and the tank was half full, I had it topped off.

Folks had been rolling there eyes watching me in my whirlwind of preparations.  Had. As of Sunday morning, Irma is predicted to hit us directly with sustained winds between 45-73 mph.

Stoicism isn't only about enduring life's hardships without complaining, an important component often overlooked is the art of imagining possible outcomes and being ready for them.

I may be on the verge of stroking out from the preparations, but I won't be on TV lamenting to the reporter how Fluffy got sucked up in the 'tornader' when the roof of the mobile home was ripped off, or how the children have nothing to drink, or how there's a tree parked on my pickup. During my Saturday night fit of insomnia, I wrote down all the solutions to possible worst case scenarios.  It's my job to take case of my boss's assets and I intend to do it to the max. My pea brain nags at me "How do you know you've done enough, unless you do it all?"
Firstly, we won't be in our mobile home.  I've moving all my food to a safer location.

And turned the power and water off. 

My mobile home is completely shut down.  A tree can cleave it, but it won't catch fire or flood from it.
 I've pulled my artwork off the walls and stashed it too.

Guns, documents... anything I don't want tossed around the neighborhood is outta there.  
Allen and I ran a marathon trying to secure anything loose outside of all the houses and barns to make sure they don't become dangerous projectiles.
I never realized how blessed we were with outdoor furniture.
Not a stick of furniture left to be thrown through a window.

I bought extra food for my oxen and the horses.

Dropped 1000 gallons of water in the Boonies in case we need that pasture.

Then added 1000 more to the tank and left it and the tractor in the middle of the field. She may get pounded with rain, but not trees or the shed roof. (Don't think I didn't agonize about leaving her in the open, but she's the only one with a front end loader capable of lifting roofs off other trapped equipment--- now you see why I don't sleep).

We're at a point where we can be walled off from the world for a month without a hiccup. Maybe a little overkill!
Or is it?  You never know. I bought the farm a new chainsaw on Friday as our old one needs a proper burial.  

Allen and I finished up some tree cutting projects before we get inundated with more!  I think I'm in love, slow and steady she was getting through a very dense oak.  Really well balanced machine.  I 💖 Stihl.

I have plans from A-Z on what to do with the horses during each phase of the storm.  I'm going to try to keep them in  the barn as long as I can, until the potential for flying roofing metal is too great, then I'll push them to a back pasture.  No telling how many fences will be down, but I'm prepared for that too.
"For a good time call_____" As you can imagine, my Monday surgery is cancelled.  Not like everything and anything that could go wrong this last week leading up to it hasn't been a factor either!  I know Cole is watching over me and I've been asking him, day after day, to make his signs better understood.  From narrowly getting approved for surgery by the cardiologist; to the AC in my home failing and coming very close to not being repairable (previous administration must've faced this issue and replaced the blower with a used one from a chicken house, so much of the crap we've cleaned up after him is so retarded I couldn't make it up--chicken feathers were all inside the blower motor); Irma, of course; being short staffed for four days; and the last great sign from Cole:  on Friday when registering with the hospital, they refused me because my driver's license had expired a few days earlier, I quickly corrected the matter and registered but I'd received The Sign. 
Heard you loud and clear, little buddy. 10-4.

Besides it would take a SWAT team to pry me off the farm when a big storm is menacing to hurt my kids.

These are my charge and we'll ride this thing out together.
Horses are up,

Chickens are roosting in the shop,

We've had supper and are tucked in bed, nothing left to do but see what Aunt Irma brings with her from Florida.

My 4 wheeler and chainsaw are ready to go when the winds become civilized.

I'm hoping she passes us by and four days of preparations can be chalked up to practice.  I'll redo four intense days of that versus four weeks of chainsaw work.