The elephant in the room…

It has been far too long since I posted regarding the Mountain Farmlet.

So here is why…

 

  • Due to our health issues we are no longer able to do the work that needs to be done to make it livable for us there.
  • Also due to our health issues we have no money to pay someone else to complete the work for us
  • We are planing to sell the property.

Bob and I are realizing that our little acre here is about all we can manage.  We are making plans with the folks who own the property behind us to lease it so I can have my pygmy goats, but that is at least a year down the line.

Bob has greatly improved since his diagnosis of COPD and resulting treatments, but working wears him out entirely.   He still enjoys it, but needs more breaks.

Me?  Since my knee surgery my arthritis has taken over my life!  Thankfully, my knee has healed enough that I was able to get some of my raised beds planted this spring.  Going out there each day puts a smile on my face to be sure!  However, some mornings find me hitching and lurching just to get out to take care of Polly, Fredric and the chickens.

Due to an old *injury to my thumb when we moved here eight years ago, I am now having to go in for surgery on the  22nd. to remove bone and build a replacement out of restructured tendon at the base of my left thumb and just above the wrist.  The swelling and pain find me dropping things unexpectedly throughout the day, and also limit what I can do in the studio, ergo fewer posts about my quilting and sewing.

I find it hard to believe that at the time we decided to buy the property in Tuscumbia we were both in seemingly great health and now we realize that we just have to let it go.

Anyone want to buy 25 acres with an antique home that needs lots of TLC?  It has a new tin roof!  🙂

So I am certain that most of you know this old joke, but I’ll post it anyway:

know how to make god laugh?

just tell him your plans.

Today will be spent unpacking the boxes I packed three years ago when I thought we were moving, and the rest of the week will find me busy with setting the guest bedroom back to rights.

are we sad?

yes, who wouldn’t be,

but we are also realistic about what we can handle.

Last week Bob was off work all week and we put another 13 Stay-Puffts into the freezer.  I got smart this time and cooked down all the bits and bones to make soup starter for this winter.  So now that too is all packed and waiting for us when the weather gets cold.  We now have plenty of chicken for the next year (meaning the next 12 months).  We also purchased bulk lamb (for Armenian sausage) and pork butt to make sweet Italian sausages for this next year .  It was a joy to be able to season them with mint and herbs from my garden!

Our freezer is full and we have a roof over our heads.

Life is good!

OK, lots to do before the 22nd.  I am going to get to work now.

These were taken this morning.  As always, please click for better viewing!

*When unpacking the moving van a 45 pound box of books fell onto my hand and pinned my thumb down onto to my arm.  It took several attempts before my brother-in-law and I could manage to dislodge it.  😯

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Notes on the Flu and a Chicken Soup Recipe

Monday Before Last I got the flu. 

Sometimes the vaccine doesn’t match the current strain and, Voila!,  you go out to eat on Friday afternoon and

by Monday afternoon you think you have a head cold.

By Tuesday:   You have a fever of 102.5 with debilitating joint pain.

On Wednesday morning:  Your fever breaks and you feel, and look like, over cooked pasta.  Limp.  Washed out.

Thursday:   You begin to feel better only to get the punies and you can’t eat.

Friday:   Your head begins to clear and it all goes to your lungs.  They hurt.  It is hard to breathe.  It is late and you are worried about pneumonia… you consider paying the $300.oo copay for the ER.

HOWEVER,

If you know about it, you make bone soup from broth you created last month, and stored for such an occasion as this.  Chicken with 8 cloves of garlic and lovely gluten free egg noodles.  You eat lots of it for lunch and dinner.  You feel better.

Then, that night you have a nightmare in which you wake screaming, jump out of bed and yell, “You stupid [expletive]!”  at the bad guy in your dream and your husband says, in a sleepy voice,  “Are you OK?”  and goes back to sleep.  While you wait for your ears to stop thumping you go make a cup of chamomile tea and read about Hobbits and Tom Bombadil.  You become sleepy again and go back to bed.

Saturday: Is a bit better.

Sunday:   You can breathe out of both sides of your nose at the same time.  Your lungs don’t hurt, and you can eat.  You’ll live. 

Life is good.

~*~

How was your week?  😀

~*~

Trust me, when you make the recipe below it will not look like this.
Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food ...

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food that might be found across cultures. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bone Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • bones from chicken carcass (fresh, or saved from roasted chicken)
  • 2 ribs celery, with leaves, sliced
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1 clove garlic minced  (or more if you are sick and need the boost)
  • 1 small onion chopped medium
  • t tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter (if you don’t eat butter then add another tbsp. of olive oil)
  • 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c uncooked brown rice  OR egg noodles (amount to preference)

Optional ingredients ~  minced flat leaf parsley,  sliced mushrooms sautéed in butter, green peas.  Want more meat?  Cube a cooked chicken breast and add to the pot the last 30 min of cooking.

 

METHOD

  • Simmer bones in a stock pot with enough filtered water to cover plus 2 inches.  Watch pot and add water as needed.  Cook until bones fall loose and keel and joints are gelatinous.  (About 8 hours minimum, or overnight for best health benefits. See notes below!)
  • Place a sieve into a bowl large enough to catch all the liquid and then pour the contents of the stock pot through the sieve.  Lift bones and meat out of the broth and let cool in the sieve.  Save the broth!
  • Carefully sort out bones from meat and toss the bones.
  • Return broth and meat to the stock pot.  Add celery, carrots, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper to the stock pot.
  • In a skillet, add olive oil and butter and heat to medium.  Add onion and saute till translucent and softened, add garlic and saute about 3 minutes more.  Do not let the garlic brown.  Add this to the stock pot.
  • If using rice add at this time.
  • Let simmer till all vegetables and the rice are tender.  Test for salt and add if necessary.
  • If using egg noodles add and cook per package directions

 

NOTES:

  • If you choose to use the noodles, and would prefer to let the soup sit overnight for flavor development (recommended!) then wait to add noodles to cook when you plan to serve it.
  • You may think that there will not be enough meat.  Surprisingly, if you didn’t pick at the carcass, there is more than enough meat to make a fine chicken soup!
  • I often hold chicken carcases in the freezer and cook down several in a large canning/stew pot and then save the excess in containers for soup starting at a later date.  In this case I was fortunate to have done the broth in advance!
  • Often broth, or bone soup instructions say to add chicken feet (gaack!) or vinegar to make the store-bought bones produce plenty of gelatin in the broth.  I have never had a problem with producing the gelatin from store-bought chicken bones.  It is quite apparent when I refrigerate my broth and it solidifies, that I have accomplished my goal without the use of the vinegar and the nasty feet.  The gelatin is released if the broth is cooked for a long enough time.  I recommend a minimum of 8 hours, and if cooking 24 hours (best) then use a crock pot.

Enjoy!

~*~

An aside: I know someone will tell me it was the vaccine that did this, however, I got my flu shot in October.  I feel it is safe to assume it wasn’t the shot that gave me the flu… it just didn’t keep me from getting sick this year. 

So here it is.

The following has been hard to deal with, much less talk about…

This is what has been going on:

First the good news ~ We managed to afford get into a medical plan that did not have a $10,000 dollar deductible (this would have been for each of us, BTW!).  Our deductible for this plan is $2,400. each. Payments to the primary care are up by $10 per visit.  Payments to specialists are supposed to be $55 but we are being charged $65 because the specialists want a physical piece of paper as a referral from our primary care physician.  Our primary care physician was under the idea that her request via computer system to the specialist WAS a written referral.  After all, the specialist agreed to see me when she asked them to, didn’t they?  She doesn’t even HAVE a paper referral, never needed one before!  It is a mess.  Now $10 a visit doesn’t seem like much until you add up all the visits we have been going to lately!  😦  Oh yes, and once we have met our deductible we have $300.00 copay each for the ER, the hospital, and any procedures we have done.

Bob got sick and collapsed at the end of June.  We managed to get him inside and checked his blood sugar and his blood pressure.  Blood sugar was OK, but blood pressure was 60 over 30!  We called the paramedics because Bob kept blacking out.  When they arrived they recommended that he go to the hospital.  That is a 20 mile ride.  It cost $700.00.  The insurance wouldn’t pay any of it!

While he was at the hospital they checked him from his big toe to the last hair on his head and all points in-between.  Anyone who entered the room and said “HAY!”  has sent us a bill for their services.  Once they stabilized his blood pressure they wanted to send him home, only every time he got up his BP fell through the floor again.  They admitted him.  He spent the night and all of the next day and evening in the hospital.  Anyone who entered the room and said “HAY!”  has sent us a bill for their services.

Eventually, they sent him home with instructions to not go to work for two days and to see his primary care physician.  She referred him out for blood work and other testing, and to a heart specialist to make sure his heart isn’t the problem.   The heart specialist took more blood, x-rays, an ultrasound and a stress test.  When the Doctor got done with him he said his heart is very strong, and that Bob has a very minor heart murmur.  He never knew that!

The primary also sent him to the Dermatologist to get a mole on his neck checked out.   The verdict?  Basal Cell Carcinoma.  You can read about it HERE.  It is one of the most common skin cancers and apparently likes to grow under the surface with roots leading out into the surrounding tissue.  In order to get all the cancer, and to take out the least good tissue, the Dermatologist has him scheduled to go to his Decatur office to have it removed.  The process will be performed using a technique called Mohs Surgery  You can read about that HERE.   

The bills for all of this are still rolling in.  I believe that Bob has now met, or is close to meeting his $2,400.00 copay.

We still don’t know what caused his blood pressure to bottom out.

At this point, as we have met our deductibles for the year, I am now going to schedule my vein surgery on my legs.  I was putting it off because it was so expensive but there really is no reason for me to wait.   Besides, if I wait till next year I will have to start over on that nasty deductible!

 

Favorite Bobism from his hospital stay…

After being served a dinner of spaghetti, mashed potatoes, over-cooked cauliflower, and a nasty banana pudding, he quipped:

“I think they’re trying to starch me from the inside out.”

Seriously?  Spaghetti and mashed potatoes?  😛

~*~*~*~

Oh yes, and my colony of bees has collapsed.

Zip

Zilch

Nada one left.

I went out to check on them and they were all laying in a pile in front of the hive.  It was in the late spring.  So my guess is that they got dosed by a crop sprayer.  I will try again next year.

 

Playing Catch-up: notes on life here and on the mountain

Spring came to the Mountain Farmlet and left.

Summer brought tall grass,

Insects,

Assorted vining summer flowers,

*It may be a Crossvine (aka:  Cross-Vine, Trumpet Flower (Bignonia capreolata))  LOOK HERE

mushrooms,

and too much heat.

While I mowed the day away, Bob kept busy with string trimming, and push mowering the areas I can’t get into with the riding mower.  When he was done, he took a rest, ate lunch, and then continued work on our new compost station!

New-compost-bin

NOTE TO SELF:  build a wire cover for the beginning bin if we intend to continue to using if for kitchen scraps!  The skunks paid it a visit after the last dump.   Or, maybe we should start a wormery?

~*~*~*~

Our collective health has taken a blow, and consequently so has our bank account.  Not to whine, well OK, I am going to whine:  $800.00 for Bob to take an ambulance ride?    And of course our new insurance did not cover it!  RIDICULOUS(I want to tell you more about this, but not now.)

All this has us just keeping up with weed abatement and clearing the trail into the woods.  Mowing, and by that I mean just around the house, pond and outbuildings, and the paths through to the tall grass to the trail, etc. takes me *6 to 7 hours.

It is hard work and the pastures would be better tended by a flock of goats and my geese, but we are in a holding pattern while we catch up from medical bills.

Fall and Winter will find us back at work on the inside of the little farmhouse.  In the meantime we continue to peel away the layers of wallpaper and paneling to prepare for new joists, plumbing , electrical, closing up the walls,  and painting.

All things in good time, eh?

*RE:  Hours of lawn mowing – Follow this link to a humorous but serious treatise shared on Ruth’s Chickens which contemplates the state of lawns and nature: HERE!