Wednesday, August 15, 2018


I'm more and more like my old one ton dually every year. 

She's a workhorse, but she's getting more and more expensive to maintain. Even if I could afford a new F350, I doubt I'd trade Boss (that's her name) in.  We've crisscrossed this country several times, she's pulled me through some hard times. I am bound to her.
My body on the other hand, I'd take a newer model any day.  Black, white, purple with pink spots, I wouldn't care what was between my legs either, as long as I could keep what's between my ears and in my heart. This sleeve is worn slap out and I'm tired of fighting to keep it from falling to pieces.  
After the knee surgery, hysterectomy and eye surgery, I looked at the pain and cumulative total of 2016 & 2017's medical out of pocket costs of $31,000 as in the past and that smooth sailing was ahead.  
Surgically induced menopause hit me hard the turn of this year and I finally quit trying to self medicate with black cohosh and red clover supplements, opting to seek the advice of a reproductive endocrinologist.  Instead of being prescribed a random cocktail of drugs and monitored every 6 months, I went to someone who took my genetic predisposition to cancer seriously and tailored a regiment to help me get over the intense mental fog that has plagued me for months due to my lack of normal hormone production.
He's put me on testosterone!

...and estrogen.  The doses are so low that I shouldn't be ripping out of my shirts like the Hulk (oh darn), nor be shot with a tranquilizer dart and dragged back off to the gorilla exhibit at the zoo.  
This doctor is affiliated to my Blue Cross insurance, but my plan is the poor peasant Bronze plan and it won't allow me to see him.  My option is to get sub par health care from a general practitioner or fork over what I figure will be $1500 this year to be properly monitored and avoid costlier problems down the road.
To injury, there is always insult.  My eyesight in both eyes has been tanking the past few years.  I see a specialist in Montgomery and I have faith that he has been doing his very best to find solutions, up to the point that I had custom contacts made two months ago... they didn't work either.
My mother asked me so many questions today that I feel like a slide show is in order to explain what's happened.
A normal eye with a clear lens and intact zonules

Normal cornea atop eyeball

I have received a few too many blows to the head in my life and my zonules (muscle tie down straps) were ripped and my lens had a cataract on it from a puncture wound to the eye I'd had years ago.
Cataract and torn zonules
They set a new artificial lens and hoped the zonules would hold it.
New lens
Unfortunately it appears the zonules aren't holding and my lens is wobbling causing damage inside the eye.  Resulting in scar tissue formed over the back half of my new lens and possibly being responsible for the retina damage now there.  That's why sometimes I can see somewhat clearly and other times when the lens has shifted, I see nothing but a black curtain, the scar tissue is that dense.
But, there's more.  I've been diagnosed with progressive keratoconus, the corneas of both my eyes are so thin that they ripple and bulge. 
Am I an artist, or what?

 I had seen ripples of wrinkled white of my eye in the mirror one day and that's exactly what was happening.  No wonder any kind of contact lens or glasses can fix it:  my eyes fluctuate constantly.
I'm currently using +3.50 readers and they're not strong enough some times.  I've been handed the bad news this afternoon that I'm headed towards losing my vision, not in ten years, but much, much sooner.  
The current FDA approved remedy is corneal transplant.  Not an option I can afford or maintain in my current lifestyle afterwards.  They don't select you as a transplant candidate if you ride horses or have a very active lifestyle!!! I'd rather lose an eye than quit my job, but it's both eyes that are failing.
There is a procedure that is used in Canada and Europe called Corneal Cross Linking that could help harden my corneas and give me more years, but it's not approved in the US yet.  Therefore, insurance won't cover it and the cost is inflated due to being an 'off-label' procedure.  
I've just payed off the health care costs of last year and was poised to start investing in my retirement again.   Sometimes life is not a joke, sometimes it's a real bitch.
To add further insult to my day, Dax accidentally bit me today.

I must have really pissed someone important off in my former life, this is RIDICULOUS!
FYI, I've already cried my eyes out today, I'm done.  I'm putting the gloves back on and getting back in the ring.  Round 7 and I'm coming out swinging.  Like my soulmate told me: You're a Fighter.  Damn straight I am.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Restoring Habitat

As Director of Environmental Integrity at the Farm, I try to ensure that all creatures great and small get the respect and habitat they deserve (except rattlesnakes). 
We'd had a large log anchored in one of the ponds for almost two years when the ropes let go during a storm and washed the log ashore. The multitude of turtles that had been using it as a sun perch were left with nothing. Tugged at my heart strings for a couple of weeks until I made time Monday to rectify the situation.
On my lunch break, I rounded up a posse for Operation Turtle Habitat Restoration.

How are your lunch breaks?  Can't complain about ours!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Gearing Up for a Day Off

This individual has been on medical leave for 2-1/2 months:

During this time, a squadron of part timers have rescued me from certain ruin:  

Deli and Heather (no picture, what???) put in a few days a week, Lisa and Todd donate one day a week.  Others have tried to hang with us, but fail. For example, the Sunday helper who was supposed to help us clear felled trees today never showed, leaving Todd and I to slug it out.  No problem, we're Farm Team. When we'd finished that, we knocked out all our other chores and I was able to finish Sunday evening bush hogging.

No better view than over the hood of this tractor.  I despise slopes, I'm constantly fearing tipping the tractor, but with the heavy bat wing cutter behind me, I'm [almost] totally empowered.  I'm cutting around the lake and zipping between trees in B-3 (purdy darn fast tractor work speed)... and loving it. I will have all my chores wrapped up by Monday night, allowing me to turn my phone on mute and drop everything in Flynn's lap for a couple days. Welcome back, Buddy! 

The entire week's work schedule for everyone is planned out. I'm planning to go AWOL, at home, and relish every minute of it.  Flynn has even agreed to stay here until 8 PM, so that I don't need to return to work in the evenings of my days off to do the final tending to the horses.
What do I have planned??? 
Peter suggests this:

Dax has some ideas too:

Fiddlesticks, I say.  We can sleep when we die.  Starting Tuesday morning 5:45 AM and ending Thursday morning 7:30 AM, we have stuff to do!!!

There's a mess of running to be done, gardening and toying with the Scotty camper frame if the RV shop ever finishes installing brakes on it.

It's been over a month since the camper has been stripped down to the frame and brought to a local RV repair shop for work.  With no time to spare in the evenings lately, I hadn't wanted it crowding my carport, but now I'm ready to get her back! 
First full day off in 2-1/2 months in 10 hours and 34 minutes...
photo courtesy of Kim R.

Bring it!!!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Murphy Moves In

Murphy's Law tries to prevail around here, but I firmly enforce the No Trespassing rule and attempt to keep him out.  After the damaging storms of two weeks ago, and subsequent violent lightning storms throughout the week, we've been too busy to notice we had an interloper on the property.

It all started with minor hassles, like flailing your own hand with a rope,

and then culminated with a horse colicking.  Caught early and given a grand total of 1 gallon of mineral oil, Jack was making a slow recovery.  Todd spent the night in the barn to watch over him.  Horses pass manure 8-10 times a day, so no poop in 13 hours had us worried.  But then he did this:

He was allowed out of his grazing muzzle and given a smidge of hay.

Later he made me proud:

I took him off the critical list to refocus on the men here to cut storm damaged trees. They'd brought their own incarnation of Murphy.  First off, this genius mangled our automatic gate.

By a certain age, one should understand the concept of an automatic gate that opens and the shuts after a set time.  They don't stay open forever.  You don't have time to get out of your truck, walk about and then drive in slowly and not expect it to catch between your truck and trailer.  

And when it does catch, you should probably stop, not keep going.  We're submitting it to Auburn University's Art Museum as yard art.  A title evades me.  'Inbreeding Versus Steel' or 'Ignorance Marches On'.
This individual was the gift that just kept on giving.  Specifically instructed to drop loads of debris at least 15 feet from the edge of the smoldering burn pile, guess what he opted to do?  Drop it partially in.  We've been under a burn ban since the beginning of Spring.  With mountains of debris like this, that we've been collecting since Spring...

... we've had to make them disappear during the cover of night and heavy rain.  With rain 5 days out of the week, we've managed to make a forests of limbs and logs go 'poof'. 

So when you drop a tandem load of dry limbs in a smoldering fire you get more fire.  And fires are supposed to stay inside the dug out burn pit, not jump the border and creep around.  That's called the makings of a forest fire.  By the time I'd gotten to the burn pile staging area with my load, I had to play fireman.  And by the time the perpetrator returned, we had managed to push his load into the burn pit and I had an unsanctioned fire to tend to for a couple hours.  Was I happy?  I was raging-- on the inside.  Not being my employee, but one belonging to the company hired to help us, I had to tread delicately.  In my career, I've often encountered men who refuse to take orders from a woman and that's when I show them how unfeminine I can be.  As another gentleman standing at the burn pile stated: "You crawled up his ass!!!".  Unfortunately necessary at times, but deeply satisfying. 
To redeem himself, he slayed a large Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake where the men were working.

Every village has one (I'm not talking about rattlesnakes either).
The rallter had 10 buttons and was +4 ft. long.

The rest of the crew did a monster amount of work in a day and a half.

Dear Santa, please leave a Bobcat with grappler under my Christmas tree!  
Once again we have an enormous amount of wood in the staging area.

All the while, Jack had been under my vigilant eyeball and by Saturday morning, he was dehydrated again, so I made the decision to ship him to the vet school.  Like I had time, but if you take a cup of organization, add 1/4 cup creativity, throw in sprigs of delegating, and sprinkle with patience, you can do anything!!!

Besides, I knew it would be impossible to stay awake to sit up with him that night.  We needed to pass the torch to younger vet students.  All of us were tuckered out.

Fatigue is contagious apparently.  Dax and I stayed while the vets performed a complete battery of tests.

He tried to remain alert, but we both stayed crumpled up in a corner drooling on ourselves.

Or crashing in the admissions foyer.

Jack was entubated and taken to his private suite, Dax and I crawled back to the farm.

Hard to stay awake with Sleeping Beauty as your travel companion.

The only way to keep my chin up is to savor the little things and be thankful for the camaraderie I have every day on the farm.

And the meals shared. 

Because I refuse to run on low grade fuel, gimme jet fuel!!! You can't put in 12 hour days by eating Slim Jims and Chef Boyardee, plus I love the creation that is cooking.
Honor life:

Sunday was Tommy's 11th birthday.  After work, I barely had daylight to celebrate much, but I had the time to give him a bath.

Bonding with the best steer in the whole wide world.

I can't describe how much I love this boy.  Tommy Smith, Happy Birthday, kiddo!