Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cat Scratch Feva!

Cat Scratch Feva.  Yup I had it.  And no it wasn't nearly as fun as the song suggests.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Back in my younger days I was a cat fiend.  I never went far without a kitten in my hand.  They were small and fluffy and cute as all get out and I was an impressionable 5th grader.  That summer we had a cat surplus at the farm and I was kitty caretaker.  These cats were all barn cats.  Born mice killers, and claws as sharp as razor blades.  So who knows how many time I was scratched that summer.

Fast forward to October.  I'd been playing basketball with the super scary 7th and 8th graders and going to school.  We had mini lockers and I thought that was the bomb.  Then, one day I noticed a lump on the inside of my upper leg. 

I brought the odd bump to my parents attention and they became concerned at once.  How long had I had it? Did I run into anything? Did it hurt?.  To which I answered, I don't know, no and no.  So they did what all great parents do, made a quick doctor appointment.

Here are where things get fuzzy.  I'm pretty sure they ran some cat scans and did some other tests but could not, for the life of them, figure out why I had a lump or where it came from.  The doctors called it a swollen lymph node in my leg-groin area and they were going to have to do a biopsy.  At this point I'm sure the word cancerous mass had been tossed around a few times, but no one said the "c" word around me.  Honestly what person wants to tell a 6th grader they may or may not have a tumor.

So I went into my first major surgery ever not quite knowing what to expect.  All I remember was opting for laughing gas to put me out instead of a needle.  This was a huge, huge mistake.  They put the mask on me and I paniced.  I felt like I was being suffocated.  I tired to lift my arms up to tear off the mask but either I was too far out of it, or the nurses were restraining me.  Everything was cloudy and then next thing I know I'm waking up in a hospital bed.  Surgery's complete.

By the way, if you ever are given the option between gas and a needle, take the needle!  Years later at a dentist visit, the doctor tried to use some laughing gas on me to induce some numbness.  I started shaking and crying and couldn't stop.  I think it was from the bad memories of being gassed to sleep.

But back to my story...

The doctors quickly took a sample of my biopsy and did their thang which I'm pretty sure just meant looked at it closely under a microscope.

Then Mr. Dr. comes up and is all "do you own a cat?".  To which my parents laugh because we don't own "a cat", we own a heard of them.  The doctor then sighs and says well this girl has Cat Scratch Fever.  All she needs are antibiotics and she'll be fine.

It's true, I went through all the pain of surgery, didn't walk for a few days, recovery, bandages, and now have a lovely scar that shows when I go swimming all because some cat had dirt under his nails when he scratched me.

To be a bit more scientific.  The cat had bacteria under his nails and when it scratched me, the bacteria wound up infecting me.  The infection did what it does best, and made a nice little home in my lymph node.  Thus the lumpy.  Once I began taking antibiotics, the infection went away and the swelling went down and now I just have my scar as a fond memory.

Crazy right?  So I may be the only person you know to actually have Cat Scratch Fever.  I prefer to call it Cat Scratch Disease because people look at me like I'm half crazy when I tell them I had Cat Scratch Feva.  But it is real people, spread the word!

And with that I leave you with my favorite kitty cat video ever.  I've probably seen this 100 times and every time, I'm still rolling.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dad's New Project

I've mentioned it a few times before, but I'm officially announcing the start of my dad's new project.  I say "dad's project" because so far I've been zero help.  Also please excuse the poor quality of the picture below.  It was terribly cloudy and darkish and taken with my iphone and hey... I'm no picture pro.

My dad has power washed 3 sides of the barn so far with one more side to knockout, hopefully this weekend.  With our improving drought conditions, there still is barely enough water to fill the cattle tanks at night, so my dad's been trucking loads of water in and hooking the washer up to it.  It works pretty well and one load of water goes a long way.

One of my dad's friends let him borrow this lift so he could reach the high sides.  He has some major Petty Coat Junction connections. 

A side note: My dad is terribly afraid of hieghts but will tough it out on a lift.  He's reluctantly been using the ladder to get up to new heights, but when I'm around I try to help out by lowering and raising him.  The other day I snuck up on him without him knowing I was home.  He was rocking out (no doubt to Conway Twittie) on his headphones and couldn't hear me yelling.  So I decided I'd give the lift a little bumb down to get his attention.  I think I almost gave him a heart attack.  The look on his face was priceless. :)

Back to the job at hand.  Power washing is a dirty job.  I know first hand from last summer when we had to spray down the picket fence to paint it.  But my dad has taken command of this job and pretty much has mastered the power washer.  Which is a good thing because that is one filthy barn!

I vaguely remember a crew coming in and painting this barn was I was a wee little one.  They happened to stop by one day when just my dad was home.  The conversation went something like this... "Hello sir, mighty fine barns there, need any painting?" To which my dad replied "Yeah!".  By the time my mom got home, it was too late to stop them in their painting frenzy.  Let's just say mom wasn't too happy.

This is the lone side remaining to power wash.  I think it's been beckoning to my dad now for the past 2 weeks, but with baling hay, he hasn't managed to get around to it.  As for the "small" gaps in the wall, they will have to wait to be replaced.  Tongue and groove boards are ridiculously expensive right now.  So the suckers will be painted red and stay there for now.  No worries though, along the bottom of the back side of the barn there is an inside wall.  So those bottom holes don't actually allow rain or snow to sneak in.

The goal is to get the whole thing washed down and painted before it starts getting too cold. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Calling In The Backups

Gone are the days of the mouse infested barns.

Growing up on Green Acres, we always had barn cats.  And me, being a huge animal lover, took care of each one.  I was the cat queen.  In fact, so much so that I caught Cat Scratch Fever.  Yes it's real, but I think I'll save that story for another day, another post.

I'm pretty sure at one time we had well over 20 cats and kittens.  That's an obscene amount of barn cats to have at one time and is almost cat hoarders level.  As I grew older, I became less of a cat guru and more of a dog and cow lover.  Our cat numbers dropped off and hit an all time low this past year.  We had no barn cats.  None, zilch, zero.  

In the absence of a stealth mouse killing squad, the rodent population skyrocketed.  They started burrowing into our corn and making homes in the cracks in the concrete barn floor.  You couldn't pick up a bucket with out a mouse running out from under it.  It was an icky-yucky-eek situation all rolled into one.

My dad tried catching wild town cats and bringing them out to our barns.  But who really wants to be the lone cat living in a big barn?  Most would disappear by the next day or two.

Finally, two good friends of my dads brought out 2 cats apiece.  That makes a total of 4 new cats taking residence in Green Acre's barns.  In a totally unrelated coincidence,  all 4 of them are pure white.  I also should mention we also have 2 other cats that occasionally drift into our barns... a calico and a cat with no ears.  I have yet to see this cat with no ears, but my dad insists he exists.  

So here are the newest addition to our barns and hopefully, with time, they will become seasoned mice killers.  I've already noticed quite a drop in the mouse population.  Also, I really have no clue if these kitties are boys or girls, I think most are girls, but I call all of them hims and hes.  Please disregard my lack of general respect for kitty gender.

This is my buddy.  In fact, I've started calling him Budrow.  He's the tamest of the 4.  I saved him out of a tree the other day and I think he feels some sort of kitty gratitude towards me.  Also notice he has two different colored eyes!  I'd never seen that before, and now we have two cats with different color eyes.  Actually kind of spooky.

This is Budrow's buddy, we'll call him BB for short.  He's a little more skittish, but will still let you get close enough for a good head scratchin'.

Here is one of the other pair and he also has two different colored eyes.  I wish I could have gotten close enough to take a good picture because his eyes are so starkly different.  One is ice, ice baby blue and the other is a dark green.  This pair is much less apt to let you get within touching distance, but will look at your with big questioning eyes from a safe ten feet away.

Last but not least is the fluff monster.  He's mean to Budrow and BB and just seems to be spiteful about life in general, so I've given him the name fluff monster.

No this isn't a kitty.  But I liked the picture so I thought I'd share!  Until next time, keeping it real and hanging loose with the kitties.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hay, Hay, Save Your Hay

Remember when I said that this would be my one and only post for the week?

Well I lied!

I found some extra time to write a little tid-bit about baling hay.

I'm the official tractor driver.  And this is my view.

Pretty and green.  This is our small field by the cemetery.  The hay is pretty much the goldest of cow treasure.  Green and smelling awesome!  In fact, later that night when we pulled up next to the pasture I was sure that the cows were going to mob us... gangsta cow style.

Here is another view for ya.

The baler doing its thang.  Spitting out cow gold so my dad can stack it on the rack wagon.  Then my dad notices me taking pictures while driving the tractor (I'm a multi-tasker!) and this happens.

We ended up with the rack not quite full.  So, we toted it on over to our hay field behind my parent's house.  We got in three more rounds and the rack was stuffed with hay, plus it was getting dark, so we called it quits.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Don't Stop Be-loggin'

Sorry I've been lacking in the post department lately.  I've been way busy with work, my class, wedding planning and farm things.

Sadly, this will more than likely be my only post for this week as well.  I'm taking a little blog sabbatical for a week or so.  But I promise as soon as I get a free second I'll type up a new post.

So to sum up the past week... (Holly cow it's been a week since I last posted, don't fire me!)

Elsie is doing much better.  She's still not able to get up on her back legs, but she's sitting up and letting her front legs spin her around in frenzied circles.

My dad has started power washing down the south barn.  It might be painted by the end of the weekend.  But then again we also have hay mowed.  Hay on the ground takes precedence over an unpainted barn.

Wedding plans are starting to take shape.  In a week in a half from now bridesmaid dresses will be picked out and ordered and the ever elusive color of navy will finally be pinpointed.  Also, Arren and I have our engagement picture session coming up in 3 weeks.  So I've undertaken the relentless routines of exercising / tanning / picking clothing / getting props in order / whitening teeth / you name it I've probably done it.

I finally got to work with Mia and Aunt Maria again.  Mia is a sweetie and by far the tamest of the two.  Unfortunately, Aunt Maria will more than likely be the only one with enough show quality to take a trip to the Beef Expo.  But it never hurts to have a calm friend when your working with the daughter of a cow nicknamed Crazy 8.

With that I leave you a very busy and humbled blogger.  In the words of Journey, Don't Stop Be-loggin'.  And also don't lie you totally just sang little ditty that in your head.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Physical Therapy Pups

Elsie finally came home from the Vet yesterday.  The poor little pup has had a very rough (or should I say ruff) few days.  It all started with this post.

After the first few days, the Vet prepared us for the worst.  She thought Elsie may have serve nerve damage or even paralysis because she was making no attempt to move her back legs or get up.  Of course they had her very heavily medicated for the pain and inflammation. 

My parents, I, and even Arren went to check on her several times over the weekend.  It's a really a harrowing sight to see your puppy laying in the kennel not able to jump up and greet you like she always did before.  Of course the pain meds were really knocking her out, but she always seemed so happy to see a familiar face. 

Then Sunday she finally started kicking and moving her back legs.  Which was a huge relief to us.  She's still in way too much pain and too weak to get up, but movement is a huge gain.

The whole staff in at our local vet clinic was awesome.  They always let us see Elsie whenever we would stop by and they kept her as comfortable and calm as possible.  The day we brought her home, one of the staff members showed us some physical therapy that she suggested we try to bring Elsie's hips and legs back to normal.

So that's my new project.  A little canine physical therapy.  Just like a person, the longer Elsie is off of her back legs, the weaker and more stiff they grow.  So every evening after work, our awesome pooch will be getting a massage to increase blood flow followed by some stretching and bending.  The worst part, right now, is the fact that Elsie has to wear a muzzle while all of this therapy, or any moving, is done.  She's still very sore, and unsure of it all.

Tonight my dad and I worked some therapy magic up.  She really seems to enjoy it.  The vet's office also gave us a sling to put under her belly and to get her up on her paws.  It also puts pressure on her bladder and makes her pee which in turn freaks her out.  I suppose I'd freak out though too if someone was pressing on my bladder and making me pee.

We later moved her from her makeshift kennel my dad made in the back yard to the concrete patio.  She really seemed to appreciate being moved to the patio.  The concrete had been in the shade and was cool to the touch.  The patio has always been the evening nap spot for Elsie and Bandit and it helped her relax.  When I left, she finally seemed to find some peace and was sawing logs.

I'm sure Elsie is very scared and it breaks my heart to see her little puppy face bugged out on pain meds and her ears cocked back, never relaxing.  But we are hoping now that she is home, with her buddy Bandit, she will continue to make strides to be the bouncing pup she once was.

Monday, September 10, 2012


The inside of the porch is finished!... Well at least for the time being.

I helped my dad finish up painting the walls and we put the first coat on the floor.  Then he finished the next two nights by adding two more coats to the floor.

The ceiling, cabinet, and walls only took 1 coat.  We kept the same color scheme with white walls and a gray floor.  But, instead of a drab evergreen ceiling, the porch now is much brighter with some sparkling white.

Eventually those new bare walls will get some horizontal tongue and groove board action, with some insulation underneath as well.  But until then we will happily admire our hard work!

By the way, if I was my parents, I'd totally repaint the doors a happy bright color as well!

p.s. Elsie finally came home from the vet today.  Her recovery has been way slower than what was originally thought.  Stay tuned for an update.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Can't Keep A Good Dog Down

Something terrible happened today.

Elsie was hit by a truck.  :(

It happened in our driveway this afternoon.  My mom saw it all happen and rushed outside.  Elsie's back end had taken the brunt of the force and she couldn't put any weight on her back legs.  My mom could tell she was in pain.

My dad came home from work immediately.  Elsie had made it to the middle of the yard under the shade tree.  She wouldn't let my dad pick her up, so he decided to let her rest until after lunch, then he would head to the vet office if she wasn't doing any better.

After a trip to the vets office, one of the awesome vet techs came out with a doggie stretcher.  My parents said the tech was great and calm and the stretcher served it purpose of not having to jostle Elsie around too much.

My mom stayed with Elsie at the vet's office while they gave her some pain meds and then took some x-rays.  It turns out she was really lucky and only suffered a small crack in her pelvis.  They gave her a morphine patch to control more of the pain and decided to keep her over night to make sure she was going to be okay.

I'm glad we have such an excellent vet office and staff in town and I'm very very glad Elsie is going to be fine.  The vet said she would probably be up running and jumping in a few days.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mia and Aunt Maria

Meet Mia and Aunt Maria.

** Sorry for the lack of pics.  It was too hot today to get any... but no fear, there will be plenty of photo opportunities in my near future! **

They are heifers we raised this year.  And I am now in full halter breaking mode.  They probably resent me for this, but they love it when I scratch their backs.  So it's a love-hate kind of relationship we have developed.

I suppose I should start at the beginning.  I use to show cattle.  And I miss showing and working with cattle very much.  So much in fact, that I decided to jump head first into prepping a heifer or two for the Illinois Beef Expo shorthorn sale.  It's in February.  That gives me 5 months to get these sweet babies tame, hairy, and looking like well fed show heifers.

The halter breaking started with a bang.  Literally, the bang as Aunt Maria leaped into the cattle chute as she tried to make a break for it through the opening.  They weren't exactly willing to have their heads subjected to their new entrapment.  But we got the halters on, with the aid of said chute, and had them tied up in no time.

Then I left the heifers to their pouting and no doubt startled little selves for a couple of hours to come to terms with the halters.  They were jumpy and hateful, and I didn't want to do too much too soon.

After those few hours had passed, I made my way out to the barn to see if they had settled down at all.  They hadn't much.  But my dad and I charged full steam ahead and approached them with yummy hay in their feeders and a brush in our hand.  It went something like this...

"Whoa girl, easy", brush, jump, "Whoa girl", pull back, jump, wriggle around, "I'm not going to hurt you", brush, jump, brush, jump, "whoaaaa", brush, brush, brush, brush...

Once the brushing started, it was like the feel good button was pushed.  And they stood there, still in shock, but with glazed over eyes in a brushing trance.

The second day went better.  I caught each heifer with out using the chute and was even able to approach Mia and scratch her back for a bit.  She's a sweetie and soon would proceed to lick the side of my jeans.  Over the past few years of not showing, I've really come to really appreciate the lack of calf slobber on the side of my jeans.  They hate the halters, and probably me, but they love the brush.  Thank goodness for the brush.

Now you're wondering why the heck are their names Mia and Aunt Maria.  Well they are related.  Mia's mother happens to be Aunt Maria's half maternal sister.  So this makes Aunt Maria... well it makes her Mia's half maternal aunt.  I'll leave you with that piece of info to sort out in your heads.

And as mentioned above, I promise to be back with pictures soon!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Porch Prime Time

My dad's been super busy this weekend getting his paint on!  I've helped a bit in the afternoons, but he's done the brunt of the work.

To remind you, this is what the inside of the porch look liked when we first started.

Then we did "a bit" of work and the porch looked like this.

To prep for painting my dad had to move every thing off the porch.  Then he scraped (by hand) the walls, cabinet, and door ways.  I know what you're thinking, this man is crazy for scraping the whole thing by hand.  He didn't want to use the power washer because the windows are old and looked a little too breakable for the power of the washer.

Once every last area was scraped, it was onto priming.  When I first got there I snapped some quick pics of everything my dad had accomplished.

Everything is being painted.  This includes the walls, ceiling, and floor.  So while my dad took a much needed water beer break, I went to work on the ceiling.  While I finished it up, my dad taped up the windows and worked on priming around them and the doors.

Then it started raining outside and Elsie looked like a pitiful little wet pup, so I took a quick pic.  Right after she did this weird growl-bark thing which I think was a doggie cuss word directed at dry ole me.

Between my dad and I we got the ceiling, walls and about half of the floor primed.  Here is what it was looking like when I left that evening.  My dad's plan was to finish priming the floor and the corner cabinet the next morning but he ran out of prime after doing the floor.  So no prime for the cabinet.


Stay tuned to see the whole porch painted and looking spiffy as all get out!