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Posts Tagged ‘Homestead’

You hear was the wind being suck out of our sails this week.  Gabe was scheduled to start maintenance Friday, yesterday.

No, he didn’t start maintenance yet.

Wednesday we spoke with Connie, the nurse practitioner who we deal with a lot at Children’s Hospital Oakland, and his counts had barely come up since Thursday last week. Gabe’s ANC has to be at least 750 in order for him to start maintenance.  As of Tuesday, he was a little over 300.  He was just very slowing coming up, and that meant there was no way we’d make it to maintenance as scheduled.

I was crushed.  I am so ready to make it to maintenance. It’s like this line in the sand that once we make it to there, we can begin to have a normal life. We will no longer be hostages.  Gabe will ultimately be able to go back to school.  We can go to stores as a family.  We can go to movies, eat out at restaurants – have a normal life.

Chet and I had started making plans for this weekend.  We were planning a nice weekend as a family, camping, going out for at least one or two celebratory meals. We were going to be like a NORMAL family.  Chet and I got our hopes up, even though we knew were shouldn’t.  We couldn’t help ourselves.

So, when Connie’s call came in, it sucked. My heart just felt so let down.  Not by anyone in particular, not by anything.  I was just so incredibly disappointed.

What’s silly is that it’s not like we are put off that long. We’re probably going to make it next week, but we’ll have to see.  What’s a week?  What’s two weeks?  Really, in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing.  But, when you’re so tired of life being a constant unknown.  When every day presents a new uncertainty, the concept of maintenance is so alluring.  You just yearn to be there.

Admittedly, a lot of the “romance” of maintenance at this point is unrealistic for us.  We know that the first several months will be filled with a lot of tweaking to get the daily and weekly medications right so that Gabe’s counts stay stable.  We know that there’s going to be a lot of adjustment.  But, we’ll be in the coveted phase “MAINTENANCE.” That in itself will be huge.

So, tonight, we were supposed to be camping, Gabe, Rebeka, Chet and I.  We were supposed to have had fresh seafood.  We were supposed to have gone hiking.  We were supposed to have been celebrating.

Instead, we’re chilling as a family enjoying the bounty of our garden.  We’re harvesting, canning, and preserving. We’re following our advice “keep on keeping on.”

We’ll know next week where Gabe’s at and whether we’ll be able to start maintenance next week.

Most importantly, we know that God wants us right where we are at.  We’re content with that.  When it is time for Gabriel to make it to maintenance he will.  All along this journey, Gabe’s cancer treatment has been in His hands.  And so far, He’s been doing a pretty amazing job, so who are we to question where we are at.

On a side note – I mentioned today we’ve been harvesting.  This was one of our purple cauliflower’s that we grew.

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I started this blog post a few months ago and never got it completed, until tonight.  There’s a Gabriel update at the bottom, but when there’s not a lot of really juicy things to report on Gabriel, I figure I might as well keep up with some of the other aspects of our life.

So, one thing Chet always wanted and I readily agreed to, was a wood fired cook stove.  The idea is so incredibly practical – the power can go out, you can loose natural gas, and you still have a source of heat and a stove to cook your meals.

After much searching, Chet found an Amish made cook stove with a glass door on the fire box.  And, we ordered it.  About three months later our custom Margin stove arrived and with the help of a couple friends a lot of grunting, it was moved into place.

So, we’ve had it and while it took a little getting used to, we have started to learn to use it and it is wonderful!

Is it not beautiful?  I think so.

Our house did not have a wood stove in the living room when we purchased it .  So, the process of preparing a space began.  Chet started by tearing out the wall that went between the living room and kitchen.  Unfortunately, I was out of town that whole weekend, so there are no photos to document his progress.

We decided that we’re aiming for a late 1800’s mining camp feel for the new house, so with that in mind, Chet conceptualized rusted metal panels for the back of the wall and we eventually decided of slate for the hearth.  I think it turned out nicely.

The process was a bit of work.  Chet cut out the wood floor where the hearth was to go (after taking out the wall).  We then installed the cement board and then did the tile work using 12×12 slate tiles.

The stove heats the house beautifully, and when we’ve got it cranking it will easily get the house up to 80 degrees.  Oooh, how I love to be able to walk around the house in a t-shirt and no socks in the middle of winter entirely warm and comfortable.

We’re still learning to cook on it and in it.  Once things settle down again that is one of my priorities – I can’t wait to bake bread in the oven.  But, until then we’ve cooked pies and various other things in it with good success.  And, well, there just isn’t anything like a pot of beans cooked on the stove top.

As for Gabriel, he has his next chemo treatment tomorrow here in Reno.  This will be his last chemo treatment in the induction phase.  This also means we are on the count down of prednisone and to his last bone marrow aspiration before moving into the consolidation phase of his treatment.  It will be interesting meeting a new team of doctors tomorrow, and it’s absolutely awesome to be able to do the treatment locally.

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Back in July, we ordered 45 chickens.  20 of them were a variety of laying hens, which I’ll discussing at another point in time.  25 of them were “BBQ Specials” – chickens specifically bred to gain weight for the purpose of feeding you.  And, with our order, the hatchery threw in one “exotic free chick.”

When the chicks arrived, Chet received a panicked phone call from the Post Office.  He had missed the first one or two calls and our voicemail hasn’t been working correctly.  As Chet entered the Post Office he could hear the “peep peep peeps” of the box of chicks.

As you can see, the chicks were all the same size.  But, that quickly changed.  Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph the progression.  All in all, we only lost two baby chicks, one Rhode Island Red laying hen and one meat chicken.

Chet got the coop built and the hen house arranged.  Unfortunately, even though there is a good amount of room for the laying hens, it was and is cramped quarters for all the chickens.  The laying hens are little buggers and began cannibalizing on the meat chickens by pecking at their feathers.

So, we lost a few to cannibalization.  Most of the time, Chet was there to “take care of business.”  However, he was out of town for a week, and let’s just say, the cannibalization would have made a great scene for a slasher movies.  Unfortunately, this poor chicken was still alive, and suffering.  Our neighbors had been over (I asked them to give my car a jump) when this was discovered.  I was asked what I was going to do.  What choice did I have?  I had to put the poor bird out of its misery, so I said to them “well, I have to kill it.”  With that response, they couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Bless the heart of of our son, Gabe, as he wanted to be there with me.  I needed him to not be there, for me, and I needed him to watch after his sister in the house while I to took care of things.  I am proud to say that I am not longer afraid of breaking a chicken’s neck with my bare hands.  Now, is it something that I want to do, gosh no.  But, I can do it – particularly when it’s followed by a shot of tequila, a very large shot of tequila.

So, we “harvested” most of the meat birds a few weeks back.  They were only 6 weeks old, but they averaged 3lbs. a bird.  Not to shabby.  But, the laying hens are horrible little buggers, and the just kept cannibalizing the remaining meat birds.

As of now, we’re done with meat chickens.  Of the 25 we ordered, about 18 of them ended up in the freezer.  Only one died as a chick, so you can do the math on the cannibalization rate.  The fear now is that the laying hens are going to turn on one another or the eggs when they finally start laying.

It’s been an interesting experience this time around.  Our first time around, we started with 9 chicks, 2 turned out to be roosters and were culled from the flock.  One hen met an untimely demise at the well intentioned hands of Gabe.  Only time will tell how many of our laying hens will make it to maturity.  Chet and I are dreading the thought of having to cull out the entire flock and start over, but if that’s what happens, then that’s what happens I suppose.

It’s life and learning on the modern homestead.

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