Friday, December 31, 2010

Waste not, want not....

My apologies folks, I left my camera at my parents house on Christmas!  I will post pics as soon as I get it back~ooops!!!  This just means you have to come back to see my amazing gifts.  J~

I've got to tell you, this is probably one of my favorite expressions in life...And my kids' least favorite!  But I mean it literally pains me to see things go to waste.  Hence, this years Christmas gifts.  What?  Yes, I took things that were going to go to waste, and I turned them into Christmas gifts for my family and friends.  Hold on with the hillbilly jokes for just a second, they turned out okay!

If you remember, pre-back injury, I worked at the food pantry.  Even at a food pantry there is waste.  Yes, it kills me to admit it, but it is true.  There are berries that get put in a fridge in the basement that get forgotten, or herbs that are just not picked up, or whatever; well, not on my watch.  I would take the stuff home and put it in the freezer, with my daughter/helper moaning all the while.

Well, as part of my post-back surgery physical therapy (boy am I smart) and to get some of my gifts made, I got myself moving by getting these things out of the freezer and seeing what I could make with them.  I had enough berries for six jars of triple berry jam and six jars of blueberry jam.  I made the herbs into a Tarragon vinegar.  But the really fun part about this was that I got to use some of my very special bottle collection...

The bottles under the stairs.... They were a mystery when we first moved in; there were hundreds of them.  Many of them beautiful, all of them old, and they at some point in time had been cleaned and very carefully collected.  Medicine bottles, liquor bottles, round bottles, square bottles...you get the idea; they were everywhere!  That is when we found out that old Charlie Royal had lost the original Royal Ranch to tax evasion for moonshining!  He built our home in 1955 after that and apparently never lost his urge to collect bottles for his hobby!

So, even ol' Charlie would be smiling down on this years gifts I think; although it may not be moonshine, it hopefully will be just as useful!  But one of the great things about it was that I received gifts like this too.  One of my sisters and her family made us a calendar with all of our important dates on it; chock full of family photos!  My other sisters family made us the yummiest green chile ever; and my parents brought tears to all of our eyes this year with extra touching gifts from the heart.  

We all got pictures of our grandparents from their high school years and then each of us got a touch of the past.  Mine was my birth card, the little girl card that they put on the bassinet in the hospital the day I was born!  And then I also got some beautiful antique Christmas figurines that I have loved since I was a little girl and used to put them out every year; they are from my Dads parents; very special indeed!

It was a wonderful Christmas, and a great way to start off our 2011, not wasting a thing, and really letting those we love know how much they mean to us.  I'd love to hear about your special gifts this year, or how you plan to not be wasteful next year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dear Santa,

Thank you so much for the Christmas card with the money in it!  Tom and I had decided to not buy each other gifts this year so that we could really make the kids' Christmas special.  So, when we got the stack of cards out of the mailbox on Christmas Day (sorry we were a little late, it had been a busy week, but I know you had been watching...) it was like our gift to each other; we split them up and each enjoyed the gifts they brought.

I noticed the North Pole postmark first, and thought it was kind of funny, and then opened up the card and out fell all of that money!!!!!  I'm very sorry, Sir, but you know how banks are, and they don't believe, so when Tom went to cash it...we found out that you bought it in Centennial, and have a bank in Grand Junction....So my dear Santa, we love you dearly, whoever you are....And please know, that we still believe!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Christmas!!!!

I went to look for inspirational quotes for today's blog and I found a great list; one with authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Charles Dickens and Eric Sevareid.  So it is quite funny that the one that really struck my heart was from Andy Rooney!

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don't clean it up too quickly.  ~Andy Rooney

Hope your day is filled with messes (that someone else can clean tomorrow) Ha!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!

Good Morning and Merry Christmas Eve!  Well, I think I have done it!  I am hopefully done with the shopping, the shipping, the baking, and the making.  Ooops, I have the final touches to put on one little project, but it won't take me but a few seconds.  I am hoping to share some of my Christmas projects with you Rebels, but it will have to wait until all the boxes have been opened....

I got a really great e-mail from my husband the other day, and it has stuck in my mind, so I thought I'd share it with you all as a little Christmas gift.  Reportedly, it is by a 90 year old columnist who wrote this list many years ago and it has been so popular she has republished it again and again.  I liked it so much, I didn't even care if the lady was real or not; the stuff is just too true to life!  So here it is in its entirety:


This is something we should all read at least once a week!!  Make sure you read to the end!
Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more":
1.  Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2.  When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3.  Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4.  Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5.  Pay off your credit cards every month.

6.  You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7.  Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8.  It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9.  Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10.  When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11.  Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12.  It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13.  Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14.  If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15.  Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16.  Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17.  Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18.  Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19.  It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20.  When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21.  Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is
special.

22.  Over prepare; then go with the flow.

23.  Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24.  The most important sex organ is the brain.

25.  No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26.  Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'

27.  Always choose life.

28.  Forgive everyone everything.

29.  What other people think of you is none of your business.

30.  Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31.  However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32.  Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33.  Believe in miracles.

34.  God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35.  Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36.  Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37.  Your children get only one childhood.

38.  All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39.  Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40.  If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41.  Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42.  The best is yet to come...

43.  No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44.  Yield.

45.  Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Number 40 is one of my favorites I think!  Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Juggling...

 Cookie Day 2010

This has been a week of juggling for me.  I had decided that I really want to try to get back to living life as normally as I could, you know try to act as if I didn't just have back surgery.  It has been long enough it feels to me.  But in the process, my beloved blog has fallen a bit behind!

I have been juggling many emotions as well.  See, our community lost one of its teenagers last week; one that I used to teach when he was just a bitty boy at MOPS.  He was a runner and trained by running past our ranch practically daily and he and my dog Gigi had a game; she'd run straight at him barking like the monstrous pit bull she thinks she is, and he'd run straight back at her!  I always worried, and apologized, but he'd just smile as if he too had enjoyed the game.  My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends....

Yesterday was my daughter's Christmas party, and yes, that is what I still call it.  I was the room mother so I was crazy with preparations.  We played Heads Up 7-Up, Christmas Style (filled bags with goodies instead of touching thumbs) and had a great time.  But before the party, my daughter was awarded the SOAR award!  That stands for Scholarly, Organized, Accepting and Respectful because she is an exemplary example of an eagle is what her teacher said at the award ceremony; I almost lost it.  He said that all students should work to be like her because she shows those traits day in and out, no matter who is watching....

I have an old friend who is really going through a rough time right now, don't know if I can help or not.  Could put myself in a pot of you know what if I do, so that's not really an option.  I don't like feeling powerless....

Last weekend was Cookie Day!  Boy, were we productive, but it took me a day or so to recover.  Tom and Isabella delivered all of the beautiful plates to our neighbors on Sunday and lo and behold if we haven't been getting wonderful Christmas surprises left on our porch all week!  It has been so fun!!!!  One morning, I went to the mailbox, pulled out a fistfull of cards, one of which had a $25 gift card and a big package from an old friend.  That very same morning while I was in the shower another neighbor dropped wonderful homemade jams and stuff off for our eating pleasure!  Christmas spirit is alive and well in our neighborhood.....

So, as I said, it has been a week of many ups and downs, and every which ways.  But you all have been in my thoughts, just not on my keyboard.  I would love to hear about your juggling acts this time of season too, believe me, I know I'm not alone out there....'Tis the season!  Here is to hoping your Christmas is a wonderful one and that you spend it with someone you love. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

This one is for you Dad...

We had lunch together yesterday, just my sisters and my parents and I.  Which would have been a very nice thing in itself, but we also had a very touching thing happen as well.  When my Dad was trying to put that into words today he was having a little bit of a hard time, so here you go Dad:


This song goes out to my parents, my sisters, my husband, and to my kids...all of them, born to me and not, they are such special people and they have all chosen their loved ones wisely too!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sometimes all it takes is the clarity of a 17 year old!

Every marriage has their pet peeves.  You know the kind of thing that your partner does that drives you up the freaking wall.  Like leaving the cap off of the tooth paste or leaving the lid up on the toilet; something along those lines.  Well for me, one of those things was Tom driving up to do the barn chores.  I mean he'd go out and start his truck, and let it idle to warm up, and then drive it up to the barn, and if it's cold, it idles while he does the chores and then he drives back down to the house.

Now, I don't know if you've spotted the title of this blog or not, but being "green" is something that is pretty close to my heart; so him driving back and forth to the damn barn was driving me flipping nuts!  Especially since he has been having to do it on a more regular basis with helping me out since my back surgery; which really doesn't make a lick of sense.  You'd think I would just be so happy for the help, it wouldn't bother me.  But NO!

I'm a little embarrassed to say that my 17 year old son caught me mumbling about it the other morning.  I was sitting in front of the fire, working I'm sure, when he came down to visit with me (and to warm up).  But the funniest thing of all, is that he very simply gave me the biggest insight into his Dad's psyche that I have had in a long time.  He told me that Tom is just trying to be like the big ranchers where the guys all go antelope hunting.  Bam, simple as that.  I got to thinking about it, and the boy is right.  
These are guys that Tom has the utmost respect for.  They are very conservative land managers, excellent at animal husbandry and huge on family (hey, lucky for me, all stuff I like too!).  And their ranch is huge...so big that when they have to do their choring, they go out in their trucks, each with their own dog (that jumps through an open window, no less), and do their chores.  Just like my husband...who hopes to have a great big ranch some day.  So who am I to mess with his pretending?

So now when Tom and Rosie head out to start the truck, I smile instead of grit my teeth.  Rosie may not jump through the window, but we're on our way to our own little dreams, in our own little way, and if we have to pretend a little bit on the way there, then who cares?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sweetened Condensed Milk (Homemade!)

Photo courtesy of ifood.tv

You know that ooey, gooey can of milk that you always have on your shelf for those extra rich baked goods...that is until you need it?  Well, I needed mine yesterday, and lo and behold, my son donated it to the canned food drive.  So what is a savvy baker to do?  Google it of course.  And I came up with a great second choice because I always have powdered milk on hand, doesn't everybody?

So here goes, it's easier than pie...

1/2 cup hot water
1 T. butter
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup sugar

Place all ingredients in blender and mix well.  I must admit, that I thought I could get away with saving myself from washing the blender and just mixing this by hand.  Big mistake.  I had lumps and an exhausted arm, so use the blender and then this can be stored in an airtight container in your fridge or freezer.  By the by, my lumps baked out perfectly in the toffee chip bars that I made, so it worked out fine, but it still would have been worth washing the darn blender!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Here's to you Mom...

Wanted to post a Christmas Carol; and found this one and realized why he used to make all the ladies SWOON!



I'll be busy baking today, and listening to my new CD that my sister gave me, it's beautiful Christmas piano music, it will really inspire me I'm sure.  Have a wonderful day...the countdown is on...but remember, home-made, handmade and bartering are all wonderful ways to Christmas shop (and eco-friendly to boot)!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Another Royal Ranch first...

Good Friday Morning!  Well, I have done it!  The first ever Jeute Family Christmas Letter.  Which really goes to show what a rebel I am because this has been my family's tradition for most of my life.  My parents have sent one out for as long as I can remember; with each of us girls (3 of us) having had our own paragraph to detail the events of the last year.

Well, thanks for the idea Mom and Dad!  As you all know the last couple of years has been filled with many ups and downs, and for some reason it seems that the Holidays have always brought about the downside of the money, time or health "case" (or maybe that is just an excuse) and one of the places I have skimped is with Christmas cards and postage.  But I have come to realize that often times, that simple Christmas card is the only time you might hear from that dear friend, and that holiday cards are truly a meaningful way of staying in touch with the ones you love.

So, what is your holiday tradition?  Do you send photo cards or do the letter?  Is it a personalized card to each person?  Up until this year (okay like I said, I skipped a couple years), I wrote out a card to each person and put a pic in each one.  Times are tough, and people know that; I think the letter, that has four family photos on it, will be great.  In holding with family tradition; I will have each family member sign it in a different color ink like we used to do when I was a kid!  Ho, Ho, Ho!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Perfect Christmas Tree

Being an environmentalist really makes the Christmas Tree debate a personal one for me, especially living right in the middle of the forest and being as passionate about saving trees as I am.  But I know what a HUGE carbon footprint those plastic jobbies leave when they are made and placed in your home.  So where does that leave an environmental steward like me?

We looked high:
And we looked low:



And then we found the most perfect compromise ever!  We took a tree that already needed to be cut down!  This spectacular Colorado Blue Spruce was encroaching on the power lines at The Royal Roost, our "Nest in the Woods" getaway cabin for visitors.
 
It also was blocking some much needed sunshine from that very same cabin, so we knew it needed to go sooner or later, so I said why not use it for a Christmas Tree and firewood?
So this year, so far, my dreams are coming true.  What is your opinion on the Christmas Tree debate?  What are you doing this year to be green?  Or maybe to save some "Green"?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

 Photo courtesy of Rocky Mt. Llamas & Bobra Goldsmith

Today I will not even try to stop the flow of tears, I really deserve this cry.  I have lost my friend and mentor Bobra Goldsmith.  Three weeks ago she was diagnosed with Leukemia and Friday morning she passed away.  That's that.

Long time readers will recognize the name, because Bobra gave me Thunderboy.  And I have never been so proud of a gift in my whole life, especially now.  Let me give you a little background on my relationship with this amazing woman.  Many years ago, when I first decided to get into llamas I chose to take one of Bobra's training classes.  Now, keep in mind that all of the people in the class were there to train their llamas, and I went to train myself.  Which I think is what really impressed Bobra; she knew that I was taking this seriously and wanted as much information and knowledge about these majestic animals as I could get before I brought one (or ten...) home.

She was then the person who put me in touch with the organic farm that I rescued Marcel and Jasper from; as a matter of fact, back then I didn't even have a trailer yet, so she delivered those boys herself; in a van I might add.  I'll never forget the compliment she gave me that day.  Marcel (my lead llama and also the llama on the cover of my book) was not used to being handled, and had been very difficult for her to catch.  She told me that she never, ever has left a halter on a llama, but was worried that we might not be able to catch him again if she didn't leave it on him for a few days.  She said to me "Judy, I have the utmost faith in you, and I would never do this with anyone else, but you will have this wild boy in shape in no time flat.  Work with him daily to get him calmed down, and get that halter off as soon as possible."  And that is exactly what I did.

Bobra Goldsmith was one of the first people to bring llamas into the state of Colorado.  She worked tirelessly with the Forest Service and her train of pack llamas to keep the forests around Boulder clean and trails maintained.  She even developed her own line of llama equipment and pack gear that is absolutely unrivaled in its usefulness.  And this is all after she was an accomplished professor at CU!  But one of the main things that I really loved about Bobra was her sense of family.  She had suffered the loss of her husband and mother, and cared for her ill step-father until she herself could no longer do so.

I told Tom last night that she was one of those people that you just assumed would never die.  She was old when I met her, and although she had aged, she just was "Bobra".  Even the boys knew how sad I would be...I had gotten the message via a text, and my sweet little daughter quietly made sure her brothers knew that Mommy was sad.  It seems the whole llama community is probably really sad today, we lost a pioneer, a teacher, a volunteer, but most of all a dear friend.  My hat is off to you, Bobra, you were one of a kind!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Shameless Reminder...

Here I have been completely neglectful of my wonderful Rebels (the butter up), and now I come on and post a reminder of what a wonderful gift my book would make (followed up by the snag)!  But, it really would!!!  The reason that it reminded me to post this is that a guy at Tom's shop bought one of my books for his daughters who live in another state.  I of course autographed it for them, and didn't think another thing about it, until yesterday.

Tom came home with a big grin on his face because those very same girls get to come to our property for a Christmas tree...and when their Dad told them they were coming to The Royal Ranch, the very same place they had been reading about in Llucky Llama, they hit the ceiling with excitement!!!!
So, whether you get to pop by the ranch or not, people all over the country are enjoying learning about llamas through Llucky Llama.  It's a wonderful story about love and tolerance and healing...things that this world really needs right now.  Grab one for any of the kids on your list, and I'll autograph and personalize it for you!  (If you order it through me, that is!  $8 + $3 s&h )

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

America's Foreclosure Epidemic

Yes, we have become a part of the horrific statistics.  Blessedly, we were able to pull our beloved ranch out of the horrific word...foreclosure...in twenty five days!  And it still cost us a bloody fortune.  But that is not what prompted me to write this post.  It is the two ladies that have told me of their impending foreclosures in the last week that have prompted me to write this post.  To be honest, I was just going to keep my mouth shut out of embarrassment, really.

But then I got to thinking how this whole thing went down.  And I delivered a load of hay back to a friends house in a sort of "poor" neighborhood in our area, and saw all of the empty houses.  And then my neighbor stopped by to pick up an antler set that she had once given me; she needed it back to decorate and try and sell because her house was being foreclosed upon.  The same house that she had cared for her dying mother in, and that she has about 15 animals in...All for $5,000.

Then I get a call on the RV that we have for sale, due to the foreclosure, of course...who ends up to be a gal that I used to work with at the food pantry.  Her house has already been done, they're out.  See ya.  Well, gee, she's hoping the judge will be real nice and see that she's got a family and twenty years of stuff and let them stay through the holidays.  Then they can go live in an RV somewhere nice, that'll be a great learning environment for three high school boys, I'm sure.

So, these are the reasons I write today.  If I sound a little pissed off, well I am.  I've got to tell you, we were funneled right into this system from the get go.  Those modifications that they offer, be careful (and believe me, I was)...they are almost designed to fail it seems.  I have heard that from almost every single person (including our attorney and the Colorado Foreclosure hotline, unofficially, of course) in the same boat.  And never, ever make partial payments, or payments once you have been put into any legal situation.  You will never see that money again, it goes into a suspension fund, luckily we learned this through friends and did not make that mistake.

I want to give you a quick example so you don't think that I wasn't paying attention like often happens.  A year or so ago when I knew we were getting behind, I did the stand up thing and got us on a modification.  We did all they said, went through the trial period, great... and then one day (perfectly legal, according to the hotline) before our first regular payment was due they told us it was $400 more.  Well, already times were tight, we started off on a bad foot, they add a ridiculous late fee, my back, blah, blah...the story goes down hill from there.

But again, this isn't about just us, what's really breaking my heart is watching my little community waste away, and feeling like there's not a damn thing we can do about it.  I actually caught myself saying to Tom last night "If we owned all of the houses, than the government couldn't."  And as crazy as it sounds, it was the first thing that has made sense to me in a long time.  What the hell does the government want with all of these piece of junk houses that only hold the love of one family, but the value to whom (or none for that matter)?

Is it all to make our trillion dollar debt look that much smaller on paper?  So that they can say they have those assets with a dollar amount that they determine the value of?  I mean it was all a big scam, the way we had to pay off the attorneys.  One day it was one amount, the next day...$520 more.  And Tom had to pay it through a glass box; I guess that is because so many people have gone nutso on the folks, they've learned they're lesson and put up choke proof barriers!

Now I know that we can't go giving everybody free rides...I'm not that much of a bleeding heart.  But most of these people are hard working honest people that have just come across hard times, mostly due to this economic hell hole we are in.  Which no one can really point their fingers at who's fault it is, and to be honest I really don't give a damn anymore; it's time to quit pointing fingers and getting our asses to work saving our neighborhoods.

And I don't really love the idea of the government owning all the homes in my hood, I don't know about you.  I like real estate to determine the value of real estate, not the government, especially since I own quite a bit of real estate in this hood.  But I do have a few thoughts rattling around in this head of mine to try and put a stop to this vicious cycle.  We can't just stand by and watch the neighborhood go to the wolves, so to speak.  At least I can't, or won't.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The things I am oh so thankful for...

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you all have had a day full of family and friends, turkey and fixins, but most of all I hope that you take just a moment to reflect upon what you are thankful for.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday I think because it is a day for celebrating, but with not expectations attached to it.  Meaning it still has managed to not be commercialized; no gift giving expectations, no plastic eggs and baskets to buy and fill.  Just a wonderful day to appreciate all that you already have.

So, here is my short list, in no particular order:

My family  (immediate and extended)
My friends
My health (although I have had a few struggles lately, in general, I am blessed!)
My ranch and home
My critters...llamas, sheep, chickens, cats, dogs, you name it, I love 'em
My businesses
My humble little town
My country and the soldiers that fight to protect it
My oh so loyal Rebels!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A TENS Warning....with a reminder to take help when it's offered!

I want to start today's post out with the biggest thank you I can possibly give to my parents.  Something really scary could have happened to me the other day, and they jumped right in and pulled me out of my boiling pot of water, without even thinking twice or saying a word.  Which is of course what parents love to do, but I didn't even realize I was in a boiling pot, so they're quick thinking was what I really needed.

Monday was my first physical therapy appointment and I was looking so forward to it!  Finally something proactive I could be doing for this darn back recovery.  I had met my parents and some out of town guests for breakfast; and these weren't just any out of town guests.  They were family from Iowa, and you, my long time readers know how much my family from Iowa mean to me.

We had a wonderful time, they even gave me a more than generous birthday gift, and I headed off happily to my PT appointment.  All was going well until she put the TENS unit on me.  She had asked me if I wanted it, I asked what it was, and she said it was for pain management.  At this point in time, I will do anything to lower the amount of Advil and pain meds I am taking, so I was happy to try it.  When she rolled the machine in, I commented that it looked like an ultrasound machine and she said that it did that too.

I must say, I didn't even think twice when she asked me if I had a pacemaker.  You must remember, this is through my regular medical system, she had my entire medical chart.  So, she turns on the machine and starts turning up the dials and asking me if I can feel anything.  That is when it hit me, this was electric shock therapy, and I was starting to slur my words...I was in big trouble and was going into a seizure.

Thankfully, I was able to tell her that I had a seizure disorder, and I could hear her tripping over the rolling stool as she was yanking the node things off my back and trying to get at the machine to shut it off.  She is a great physical therapist but was not at all prepared for a medical emergency like we were facing and was horribly upset that she had made such a mistake.  I, of course, was terribly embarrassed, which I am assuming is a typical response because I really can't figure out I was embarrassed about and just kept reassuring her I was fine, but to give me a few minutes.

Well, as quickly as I could I got the hell out of there, again a very uncomfortable situation all the way around, and called my Mom and my husband to tell them what had happened.  The unanimous decision was that I definitely should not be driving my truck the hour home, I could kill myself or anyone else for that matter.  As stubborn as I am, I resisted for quite some time.  As you all have gathered by now, I am a bit of a rebel-ha!

Well, my Mom called back and said that Dad didn't want me to drive (we don't argue with Dad-ha!) and they were on their way to meet me.  That was that.  Pull over Judy.  I called Tom so that he could quit worrying, and that is when he asked me about my breakfast with Jeanne and Bill...and I realized that my memory of the day was to say the least...sketchy.  Good thing me and my big truck were no longer doing 65 miles an hour down the road, I guess.

The wonder of it all, was that my Mom had been with me for the time that I lost.  So not only were my parents getting me and my truck safely home, but on the way there Mom was able to fill me in on all of the missing time.  And for some reason I can make it through typing this whole post, but when I get to the words "missing time", the tears start clouding my vision.  As a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a great niece....that is the part that makes me furious...and cry.

But, anywho, this post was also to talk a little about the Tens unit.  And I'm not even going to do any research on it, I'm sure it's quite easy to google on your own, if you so wish.  But, my brain, says NO THANK YOU.  So, folks, I'll make it real simple, in my opinion, if you have any brain dysfunction like epilepsy or have had seizures, do not mess with this machine when you go for physical therapy.  I was wondering if it might not have been so bad if my surgery had been on maybe my knee or my ankle; but Tom has a friend at work who has epilepsy also and goes to the same Crappy Clinic (ad lib, that is not it's official title) I do, and the same thing happened on his knee!  So, there you have it, my very unscientific results-ha!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

In honor of turning forty today, I looked up jokes...And this song came up.  Pretty funny, I hope you enjoy and happy Sunday to you!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Keeping Perspective

I am a stay at home Mom.  First and foremost, and I am damn proud of it.  My oldest is seventeen and my youngest is eleven; so I have been at this job for a little more than seventeen years, and I am very good at it.  I volunteer at all of the kids' schools, I'm on all of the right committees, go to all of my kids' functions, and even quite a few for kids that aren't even "mine", but in my heart they are.

Over the last few years, okay maybe a decade now (my how time flies when you're having fun), I have decided to start various llama related businesses.  All of them for various reasons, but each of them evolving from my passions; they come from my very heart and soul.  My love of animals and the environment; specifically our little piece of paradise here in Colorado that I feel holds some sort of spellbinding beauty and tranquility.  So, my love of writing fit in quite naturally.

Yesterday morning, the kids and I were talking about something that got me worked up, and I lost my words (a pretty typical side effect of seizure meds) and I saw the light bulb go off over the head of my seventeen year old son.  He finally realized why I like blogging so much.  He says "Mom, you don't have to struggle for words when you blog, do you?  You can think it through, and take your time, right?"  Bingo!

So, what does all of this have to do with keeping perspective?  A lot, for me anyway.  Because when you are going through a hard time in your life, and I'm sorry to say, but I don't know many people right now who aren't going through a hard time, keeping perspective is of utmost importance.  Remembering what you are made of, and what you are trying to accomplish is of utmost importance.  And doing what makes you feel good and keeping your thoughts straight is imperative!

This all came about in sort of a weird way.  I have not made a secret out of our struggles, financially; and in a way, in my mind I had put the pressure on myself and my businesses to get us out of this rut that we were in.  Big mistake.  Too much pressure.  Too little time.  Many of my ideas like Naked~Nure and my book are too new to have gauged if they will be successful or not.

So, when Tom steps in, gets his overtime back and things start looking okay again; instead of me being happy, it sends me into a tailspin.  What the hell is wrong with me?  Most people would be ecstatic to know that they didn't have to work if they don't want to, right?  Well, we all already know the answer to that; I do NOT fit the description of "most people".

I felt as if I had been banging my head against the wall for naught.  As silly as that sounds, it's true.  And I've got to tell you, it confused the hell out of my poor husband!  But, give me a couple days of my pity party to think things through, and I realized that we were right back where we were supposed to be.  This was our plan all along.  My businesses are the type that take years to grow, and build on business relationships that may take years to foster.  

We both knew this going in, we have openly discussed it many times, I guess I just conveniently forget those things when I feel like throwing myself a pity party.  The point is people, keeping perspective may be difficult during, well, difficult times, but it is essential.  And if you don't have years to build a business, than don't go into something obscure like llama related businesses or writing and publishing childrens books-ha!  No really, I still believe that you need to follow your passions, and I am so blessed with the fact that Toms job has allowed us to do just that...so again, it's just all in the angle you see things.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Something to say...

My Physical Therapy!


How many times have I said it?  If you don't have anything nice to say...don't say anything at all.  Well, it appears that theory has gotten me in a bit of trouble with my Mother-ha!  That's right, I have been busted for not blogging by my Mom.  I think she knows that something is up when I am not blogging, so I picked up the phone the other day, and immediately heard "Why are there no new blogs?" and when I told her I didn't have much to say, she told me I could even write about the weather.


Well, the weather here has turned cold and windy, fitting for my mood, since I last left you all.  Surprised?  I didn't think so.  Last week I wrote a post about being appreciative, for family and friends; and all of the help I have received during my recovery time.  And it never made it...because...well...I guess I wasn't feeling it.  I didn't want to be a fraud.  When I feel like crap on the inside, it's hard for me to publish happy crap, I guess.

So where does that leave me?  It leaves me in the same place as the rest of America, and frankly, much much better off than many, so I better quit my damn belly aching and get my butt back to work.  Lots of people are having financial and health problems.  And millions (?) of people each year have back surgeries, that to be honest, are an absolute bitch to recover from.  

Oh, and I wonder how many people turn 40 each year?  That little fact could have something to do with this silly depression, I suppose.  All this time I thought I was looking forward to being 40, but in the midst of life chaos, I'm not sure a benchmark birthday is a great idea.  Do you think I can just skip this one?  I promise I will still turn 41 next year.

So, I realized what a pity party I was having for myself, and how very stupid it all was, and put myself to bed at 7 the other night when I skipped one of my favorite classes ever; you know, the old cut off your nose to spite your face thing.  I woke up yesterday morning, and wouldn't allow myself one negative thought.  I also took back over my animal chores.  Not because my back is up to it, but because I need my critters, as badly as they need me.  The clucks of happiness, and the nuzzles of welcome back were all I had needed.  Man I love my little piece of paradise!

Friday, November 5, 2010

How to catch a polar bear...

Hey, do you know how to catch a polar bear?  You cut a hole in the ice and then surround the hole with peas.  Then when the polar bear comes to take a pea, you kick him in the icehole!  (It's a good thing I didn't do this one via vlog, because I couldn't even hardly type it I was cracking myself up so hard!  This is an old family joke.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

In honor of my new nephew...



We are so proud to have you as part of our family!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A bad Country/Western song....

Sometimes it feels like I'm livin' a bad Country/Western song...

Just tryin' to get by
livin just right,
daughter's been home sick,
oh yeah, and my boy too..
feeling quite ick.
Hurt my back,
and oh
tryin not to talk any smack.
Yeah we're tryin' to live just right,
and then one night
Rosie gets a terrible fright,
cause, well ...
The neighbor ran her over!

Yes, you read that right! My beloved Rosie, who has recently saved me from disaster, twice, got run over!  Blessedly, she is fine, feeling quite sore and has a terrible case of road rash to the cheek, but she will be just fine!  One of her friends (a dog that walks the road quite frequently) came to visit and Rosie forgot to look both ways, and our poor Veteran neighbor, who is a dear friend of ours, ran her right over.  Thank god she missed the tires entirely, and pretty much got rolled by the Jeep, or we would have lost her, because he told me he never even had time to hit the brakes.

So, this brings up a couple of points.  First and foremost, if you live near a road like I do, never get lax in your doggy rules.  Rosie is not normally outside without an adult just in case something like a visitor coming by should happen, but with my back recovery and her missing her outdoor play time, she was out with my son watering the other dogs in the pen, and well, obviously accidents happen.

Secondly, I thought I would share a few things about my "vet kit".  It is an old briefcase that I store all of my emergency animal supplies in, and have found myself  on more than one occasion very thankful to find in one handy dandy place; like yesterday.  There have been multiple times that I have simply hollered at the kids to grab my vet kit, and they know exactly what to get and hopefully where to get it from.

My supplies include:
~Betadine (one of my very best friends, I must say)
~vet wrap (like a sticky ace bandage made for animals, I have found it quite handy for kids too!)
~pro-biotic (the best that you can afford, it lasts a long time, and when you need it, you will be oh so thankful you have it!)
~pain meds for your specific breed (cat, dog, llama, horse, whatever...but have some on hand)
~Bufferin for dogs (specifically Buffered aspirin guys, dogs can die from other pain meds, careful, careful!)
~rubber gloves (have to admit...quite a few of these I have gotten from my doctors office over the years, believe me, that's the least they owe me!)
~antibiotics (now this is a tricky one, and I only have them for emergency purposes, do not use them unless your are sure.  I firmly believe the over-use of antibiotics is the root of resistant bacterias/viruses.)
~Acepromezine (doggy valium) I keep this on hand for things like clippings or severe thunderstorms or like last night when I was concerned about Rosie needing it for when I was caring for her wounds.  I ended up not using it, as I was concerned about internal injuries (didn't want her blood pressure to drop too low), but it is great to have on hand.  This is a prescription drug, so talk to your vet about this very safe medication next time you are there if you have a nervous type of dog; believe me, in a pinch you'll be glad you did!
~ syringes for measuring and dispensing medications
~hair clippers
~Last and certainly not least is some sort of wound ointment, I believe the one in my kit is NWZ.

Okay, so there you have it; if you own pets, you need to own an emergency pet kit.  Some folks may not feel comfortable going quite as far with emergency care as I do, but it has so far saved me a ton of money.  All of these supplies (except for prescriptions) can be found at your local feed store or even online and you sure don't need anything fancy to carry them in as you can see.  Make sure your family knows where the kit is located, and have somewhat of a plan in mind, and above all avoid panicking!  Then just have a panic attack that night when you go to bed like I did-ha!  Mostly kidding.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Anesthesia Brain

Aside from Gigi my dog, Hector here has been my constant companion
since my return from the hospital!

There has been a huge mistake!  When they took out the bones and junk in my back, they also removed a large portion of my brain!  I mean I can't hardly think straight for the life of me-ha!  Yesterday, I was trying to help the kids get their lunches together as they all had various fun days including field trips, swimming parties and of course Halloween parties.  I stood in the middle of the kitchen, with this blank stare on my face when they all three gave me their sandwich orders (which I have done millions of times in my life by now, I should be able to do it in my sleep), and just thought "Huh?"


But, it did clear me up on one thing, the reason I am having a hard time getting back to work here on the blog.  It is not because I am in a lot of pain, or need a lot of healing time.  It's actually because I can't think of a darn thing worth saying right now, and dang if that isn't odd for me!  So today as I was typing this I of course figured I'd better do a bit of research on the subject and found a few interesting pieces.  It is interesting to note that people with brain dysfunction may have a harder time recovering from anesthesia than those without.  I'm assuming epilepsy would qualify me for that group.

The point of all of this is not to make excuses or to feel sorry for myself by any means, as a matter of fact, I'm really glad I finally figured it out because now I have something to work with.  And I do believe that this might happen with everyone to a certain extent, so why not do a few brain exercises and have a little fun "waking up" your brain after dealing with anesthesia?

Actually, it's quite interesting that Mom has left me all of her Woman's World magazines and the other night I started the crossword; I think the first one I have ever done in my life!  It was as if my brain knew it needed a bit of challenging; and this is not the first time this has happened.  Before my surgery I had a wild craving for hamburgers...and I mean I could have eaten them at every meal.  I was doing some of my pre-surgical reading and it said to bone up on iron, hmmmm.  I also Have had a mad craving for chocolate milk, not only do I need the calories right now, but I can only imagine how my body is eating up that calcium.  

Yesterday when I was getting gas I started craving a sandwich from the store and almost ended up with Tuna; YUCK!!!!  On the way home that is when I realized I must really need some tuna fish if I had almost purchased one from a gas station!  Okay, body, fish oil coming up.  So, it is the same with the anesthesia brain thing.  I will challenge my daughter to a few games, continue on my reading (book reviews to come, when I can pull them together-ha!) and crosswords, and oh yeah the biggest brain buster of all...THE BALLOT.

Please don't forget to vote this weekend if you have a mail-in like we do.  If not, go ahead and make your cheat sheet so you are all ready for your big day on Tuesday and don't hold up the lines!  This is an important one, people, get out there and vote!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Murphy's Law

You know Murphy's Law is involved when your poor husband has been working his butt off to gather enough firewood for a few months; gets quite a bit split and stacked, and your chimney blows off with the first big snow storm!  I think my loyal readers know what my wood stove means to me.  I mean I even had this thing burnin' in the early morning all summer long!

So the other night when I was about ready to go to bed, and add a bunch of wood to the fire, I heard a huge crash...luckily I looked outside to see pieces of our metal chimney laying all over the darn driveway!  Believe you me, I did not add any wood, I freaked out and sat there and watched the fire that was left until there were hardly any embers left.  Knowing that at any moment our house was going to catch fire.  Sometimes I am such a FREAK!!!!

Needless to say, I was without my beloved fire for a few days...the coldest (and snowiest) few days so far this season...thank you Capt. Murphy.  But thanks to my dear husband and some new chimney tubing, I'm up and running this morning...Thank God!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The nuts and bolts of Thoracic back surgery (at least mine)

Well, as you The Rebels know, I have been having back issues for years now.  But if you are new to the story, let me give you a quick rundown of the story.  Almost three years ago now, I started having hip pain, yes hip pain.  I am a very active rancher, hiker, kid chaser, etc., so I let it go for a while, then the doctors let it go for a while, until finally late last year it was diagnosed as a herniated/ruptured thoracic disc.

I have said it before, and I'll probably say it again, this is very unusual.  Your thoracic (middle) region of your spine is the least mobile part of your body, so it very rarely gets injured.  Leave it to me to come up with a stumper!  So the first doctors assume it will resolve itself like herniated discs normally do, and since it is so near the spinal cord do not want to mess with it; I agree.

I go through the summer cleaning fire pits, and running my ranch thinking I am being a pansy since this stupid back thing is still bothering me.  I finally get bad enough to go back to the damn doctor, taking my husband in hopes that the doctor will finally tell him how very tough his wife actually is, and do you know what happened?  That doctor told me that my back was perfectly fine, he even bet my husband a nickel that the MRI would show that my disc was back to normal size and that this was all just a "little flare-up".

Well, he was very, very wrong.  Actually, my disc herniation was worse, my spinal cord was pushed so far out of the way, that it actually changed the way they were able to do the surgery on me!  So, in that instance it was good, I guess.  Normally, thoracic surgeries are done through the chest to avoid damage to the all important spinal cord, blessedly, as you can see from the pic they went in through the back on me.

The following is an excerpt from WebMD about the type of surgery that they did on me: 

Discectomy (also called open discectomy) is the surgical removal of herniated disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord. Before the disc material is removed, a small piece of bone (the lamina) from the affected vertebra may be removed. This is called a laminotomy or laminectomy and allows the surgeon to better see and access the area of disc herniation.

The only problem was that they were hoping to do only the discecotomy with very little laminectomy, and it turned out to be the other way around.  They had to take quite a bit of bone, and some of the disc had calcified, so they left it, but it sounded like he thought it was a great success, so I am quite thankful for that.  I often wonder if they would really tell you that a surgery like this was not a great success, but that is just me being a total cynic, because I do already feel differently than when there was all that pressure on my spinal cord.

So, now it is just a matter of waiting and resting and letting the swelling go down.  And hoping and praying that my spinal cord goes back into its proper position when all the dust settles, so to speak!  I get my staples (actually, now that a few more days have gone by, I think I might only have stitches!) removed at two weeks, with a doctor follow-up at four weeks; that's about all I know for now! (This must have been on Wed., now it is Sunday and my daughter is one year older, boo hoo!  Her 11th birthday was yesterday.)

Well, as you all have probably guessed, this has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while so I will give you some more to chew on before I publish.  I kept trying to figure out why I was being so slow in hitting the publish button when I realized the scar is ugly.  Well, of course it's ugly, I've been through some nasty stuff...even the skin that just had to be bandaged for two days is crying out for my friend Tiffany's cream.  I can't wait until I get the all clear to use it!

But what has really been bothering me I guess is that the Dr. told me that I have degenerative disc disease and that is what caused this problem, not my car accident when I was a teen.  First and foremost, it is not another disease I have to deal with like my epilepsy.  It just means that I have a really crappy spine I guess and I'm just going to have to be careful.  But can you imagine how sick I am of having to be careful of stuff?

So, with that, and the fact that I almost just cried, I would like to leave you all with some things that I know have gotten a lot better since my surgery.  And you know what is really funny?  These are things that the doctors kept telling me couldn't be related to my spinal injury, I think their story is a little different now that they got in there and saw the damage though.  Anywho, back to my improvements...I no longer have a "fog" around my vision, the heaviness and weird stuff going on in my arms is practically gone, my headaches are finito; okay 95%.  So far so good with the bladder issues, but that was with activity, so I am reserving judgment on that til I get back on my feet a little better; this will be the biggy and the one the doctors will tell if they call it a success or not.

The main point I have to keep reminding myself of, and a call from my Aunt who is a nurse was a great reminder, is that it will take six weeks minimum for all of the swelling to go down and that cord to go back into place.  I will learn more in the meantime about degenerative disc disease (notice I won't even capitalize it!), which I really have got to come up with a better name for, and then I'll be ready to hit it head on like I always do.  I've always taken good care of my spine with my Yoga and stuff, now I will just have to be even more vigilant!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back surgery sucks...

(thanks clipart, beautiful!)

Helloooo!  I'm back!  Well, I can't guarantee that I am back on a daily basis because my computer is too damn heavy, actually everything is too damn heavy, but at least I am here to check in-hooray!  I was really wishing that I had done an update before Sunday, because I was really great.  Sunday and yesterday, not so much, downright crappy I would even venture to say, but that is to be expected because the steroids and meds they give you during surgery wear off anywhere from day 3-5 and that is when it hit me.

As for a weight limit of five pounds, well, that is downright laughable.  I don't think there is anything on this ranch that weighs five pounds.  I do have one cat that is under that weight, but as soon as I sit down with a blanket I am covered with cats anyway, so I'm covered on that point.  Did you know that a gallon of milk weighs 8 lbs?  And yes, even my laptop weighs quite a bit more than 5 lbs., as a matter of fact it will even be heavier than the ten pound limit I will hopefully get to jump up to at my four week mark.  Do I hear a woot woot?!?

So, I have to share a couple of funny stories with you all.  This surgery really had Tom and I in a dither, I mean we were both scared to death about this one.  Tom was worried that I was going to come out paralyzed and I was afraid of dying.  We both know that over the years my vibes are something that we really should listen to, so it was hard for us to figure out if I was having just fear or some kind of vibe about doing this surgery.  So anyway, we both had pretty much gotten past our fears and surgery day was finally here, no more dreading it!

As you know the patient is not allowed to have anything of value, no purse or jewelry, nothing.  So Tom is in charge of everything, which he somewhat has been anyway since I have been so spacey.  Well, anyway, we have to check in at Security with both our ID's, no problem.  Then Tom checks me in at the computer and heads to the restroom...meanwhile they call my name and I head over to Admissions and tell them that my husband has all my cards; which he immediately starts digging for when he gets back from the restroom.  After accusing me, who had no pockets or anything, of having them, a nice lady behind the counter brings them to us!  He had left my drivers license and my Kaiser card at the main computer of the hospital!  I teased him that next time he should just leave them the debit card too!

Off we head to surgery, and there they take my beloved husband away.  And I don't mean for just a couple of minutes.  I mean for the entire pre-op time; oh and the post-op time too.  It really sucked, I must say.  I know it is an older hospital, and very crowded, and they are trying to keep germs down, and blah blah.  But I wanted my damn husband!  He got to come in for just a few minutes to say goodbye and then he had to wait to see me until I got to my room, boo hoo!

So have I mentioned that we are not city folk, let alone hospital folk?  Needless to say, I got zilcho sleep, mostly due to the noise, and thanks to my very low blood pressure (which I explained again and again is perfectly normal for me, but they still insisted on flushing me with those fluids so I could make those painful trips to the RR) they had long since taken me off the good drugs and I was back to plain old oral pain meds.  Which of course I was due for at just the time everyone got all ready for me to go..."sweet mother there must be a God in Heaven to get me into that truck and over those bumpy city streets while that stupid oral pain medication takes affect!!!!!" was all I could think, honestly.

Well, there must have been, because I made it home in one piece.  As for Tom, I'm not so sure.  He told me that as he was carrying all that "shit" (his words, not mine, because it was partially a spectacular bouquet of flowers from my family that is now my center piece), he was in the very middle of the intersection when the checkbook fell out of his back pocket.  It of course was full of all of the cards that all of the therapists had just given him that morning and they all flew everywhere!  So, my totally together, never loses anything biker husband had to set down his beautiful flowers and my briefcase and bag of clothes to retrieve his stuff while traffic piled up, oh I wish I had been there!

It was wonderful having Tom off last week, but the time flew by way too quickly.  I wasn't sure I was going to make it back from the bus stop yesterday morning, and saw my very first Bald Eagle in this area.  It was so cool, it stayed in the valley and just swooped from one tree to another doing a little fishing in between, the whole time I shuffled my way home...it made the trip much easier, I was home before I even realized it!

Speaking of wonderful...the messages and notes and meals we have gotten are fantastic!  We have the most wonderful family, friends and neighbors a family could ask for, that is for sure.  We are eating like Kings and Queens!

So that is about all for now, maybe tomorrow I'll get into the nuts and bolt of what they found in my back...quite interesting for sure.  Oh and I'm going to have the family take a picture of my battle wound so I hope no one is offended by that kind of thing, because I'm pretty proud of it!  Tom calls me Frankenstein when he sees it, how loving of him-ha!

Monday, October 11, 2010

See you soon with a little bit of Metaphysical Monday mixed in...

So I have waited so long to do this post, that now it got awkward, and it certainly shouldn't be.  I have to have back surgery.  Tomorrow.  I have written and re-written this post about a thousand times, honest, you should see my drafts folder right now, it's a mess!  But for some strange reason, this has been the hardest post I have ever written in my life.

The timing with my Kundalini training is uncanny.  Well, if you are like me, you don't believe in coincidences so I'm pretty sure this all came into my life at this time for a reason.  So, it has been a weird week for me, I must say.  I'm not sure that I would typically advise a person to be learning anything new spiritually when you are dealing with something so monumental health wise; but on the other hand, when have I done anything in a typical fashion?  Although it has been quiet here on the blog front, I have been doing some writing, that someday I will have the nerve to share...And as I said, I really don't feel as if I had much choice in this matter, this all has been handed to me (a person can only be hit over the head with so many signs...), my job is just to take it in and deal with it how I see fit.

But for now it is safer to stick to the facts.  Tomorrow at 2:30 I'm scheduled (I keep saying it that way like I'm going to get some sort of Presidential Pardon or something-ha!) for a rather rare back surgery.  The good news is that my body has already done the tricky part, and has moved my spinal cord out of the way!  See, normally with a Thoracic injury they would have to go in through my chest to avoid injuring the spinal cord, but since my disc is so badly herniated and has already moved the cord out of the way for them, they can go in through my back at the opposite angle and repair it that way-hoorah!!!

Tom asked the surgeon how many people he's crippled and he put up a hand signal for zero, but then we later laughed and wondered if he really meant the last three fingers he was holding up, since he didn't really answer us-ha!  It's amazing how paranoid you get when they're working on your spinal cord/column. But I do feel we are in great hands, and I'm expected to be out of the hospital by Wednesday, again, but this time in all caps-HOORAH!!!!!

Anwho, thank you all, neighbors and friends and family, for all your kind wishes; I even got a call from our retired neighbors who were leaving town.  They were on speaker phone, which sounded like quite a feat for them, and they both were wishing me good luck.  Although I could hear the concern in their voice (the gentleman was against the surgery all along, old school German-ha!), they said they can't wait to see me dancing around the neighborhood again.  I had to bust out laughing even though it hurts to laugh!

So, I will teach Tom a thing or two about The Royal Ranch Facebook page and have him or my oldest keep it a little bit updated.  And until next time, know that I love and appreciate you all very much, and this is one of the best jobs ever!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Too Cute...

I absolutely loved this video and had to share it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ode to the Porcupine Gods

Dear Royal Rebels,

Please excuse the absence of Judy Jeute as she has been sitting around pouting.

Thank You,

Judy Jeute


No, I'm mostly kidding, but I have been having quite a pity party.  See, a very difficult part of being an animal "sanctuary" is that animals tend to find us, and that is not always a good thing; because sometimes they are coming here to die.  And it really breaks my heart. 

Take Monday morning for example, I dropped my daughter off at the bus stop and headed off to do my chores.  Rosie made it to the hay stack first, as usual, and I heard a hissing and then saw her jump back, and then lunge forward!  I knew to call her (good thing she's such a well trained dog!), and ran to see what it was that she was so interested in:

(Please excuse the mess, obviously I wasn't prepared to take a picture!)

This is what I saw.  A full grown, full blown, pissed off (well, kinda), porcupine!  Now, if this rings a bell, you're not crazy, this recently happened with a fox too.  Blessedly, we were able to chase the fox off, this guy... no such luck.

After taking the dogs home, grabbing the camera, and making sure that a porcupine is an herbivore and not there for food (like my chickens), and this is important to determine normal behavior or not, I headed back up to try and assess the situation and get this somewhat dangerous critter off of my ranch.

Now when I say dangerous, I mean dangerous in how my animals will react to him, and also if he was sick.  And don't forget that I'm not moving too quick myself, so thank goodness my renter was home to rattle his cage first thing in the morning!

So, being the mountain loving people that we are, we did everything we could to make sure that this was not a typical porcupine.  We talked it through (I know it sounds funny, but in a situation like this it is important not to panic), and then tried to chase him off and then even got a shovel and literally was able to physically move him around with it; problem was all he wanted to do was go into the llama pen.  And they were waiting to attack him with their front legs, and that would have been a huge disaster for me!  

This fella was terribly injured and so the only humane thing to do was to put him down.  Again, the Porcupine Gods were smiling on me, and I did not have to do it myself, although I was prepared to.  I have spoken with my vet since then and he agrees, which makes me feel so much better in my heart, but mostly I feel better about rabies.  It appears that porcupines are not prone to rabies like other rodent species and he agrees that it probably got hit on our new speedway of a road and came up here to die.  How sad.

But I will place some of his beautiful quills on my altar, and who else do you know that would be bummed out over a porcupine for two days?  So, I guess he chose just the right place to come maybe.  I honor the Porcupine God... and did I mention there is never a dull moment here at The Royal Ranch?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

You Rebels might have guessed by now that I'm not a huge Hillary Clinton fan, but the whole "it takes a village" thing really has some merit.  My men are hunting this weekend, and the group that they are with are men that I am happy to say are men that are having impacts on my boys' lives in such a positive and influential manner.  Let alone the quality girl time that Bella and I are having.

So let's back up a minute here.  Some folks would argue that they don't believe in hunting, or that we are somehow being sexist in the acts that we have chosen to do with our kids, and that is fine.  Choose your own things to do with your kids, just do it, and involve other people that you respect.  Break your kids down into smaller groups, or even better yet, one on one, and have them interact with you and another group of adults, like a hunting party, just for example.  The point is for the child to see how all types of adults deal with all types of situations, while still in the protective environment of family.

Back to my men...last year my 14 year old came home talking about how he and Greg had gone out in the field at 4am and he had driven Greg's car at 40mph across the fields!  Now how many parents do you know would let their kid do that?  We wouldn't.  We would all be too wrapped up in insurance, and what not.  And as for my neighbor Dan, well, he is the hardest working man I have ever met besides my husband and father...I can't think of a better example to set for my teenage sons right now.  Another guy that they went with is a Chef (and also camp cook), something that I think Nathan may be interested in doing, that is if the cop thing doesn't pan out.  I could go on and on with the list of life experiences my boys get in just a few short days.

Us girls have been holding our own too, don't worry.  We got to go out to dinner on Friday night...to the Angry Llama, no less!  For those of you that are local, that is a kinda new diner in Conifer, and you really should try it if you haven't.  Good food at great prices, with an even cuter name, can't be beat!  Yesterday I took the girls roller skating, and I realized that I got to play the role of the "village".  

When Isabellas friends Mom dropped her off, she was so grateful because she had a paper to write, a house to clean, a wedding to plan for her oldest daughter, etc.  And with me taking this daughter, I emptied her house!  On top of the fun skating, we had the hour drive down the hill (and back) to contemplate life and it's problems.  Like the bully girl on the bus, and how they will both deal with her this year in a loving and tolerant manner, and how it is better to keep your "enemies" as friends and so on.  We also talked about why people bully, something that is really hitting home with me lately and you will probably be reading more of in coming days, just a heads up.

So today's Royalty is all of the people who put effort into helping raise my fantastic children.  You know who you are.  You are their educators, neighbors, friends and family.  We all have a little piece of these wondrous kids, some of you have given them small jobs to help teach them responsibility, and some of you have actually taught them from a textbook, but know that the gratitude comes from the very depths of my heart!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Some dreams are really worth waiting for

I became an Aunt again yesterday, in a rather unusual fashion.  My German Exchange Sister, Irina, and her husband Matthias have finally realized their dream of becoming parents and arrived home yesterday with their son Viktor Andreas.  Although they are an ocean away, I feel the joy as if they were right next door.

Now, this has been a long road for Irina and Matthias.  A road that I wish I could say has been full of mountains and valleys, but no, this road, has been just plain bumpy and rough...but they stuck to it and have a beautiful son to show for their effort!  So today, on this Royal Rebel Friday...it is all about my new German nephew Viktor Andreas Obert!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Animal advice from an, er, expert

Speaking of Rams!

I always have to laugh a little bit at some of these funny titles these days, many of them not requiring degrees or years of knowledge.  Animal behaviorist, animal psychologist, animal...you name it, there is an expert out there for it.  Now, don't get me wrong,  I am by no means dissing them, the title comes from me doubting myself, just a little.

I have been living with and loving animals most of my life.  Although Mom was raised on a farm in Iowa and was not fond of taking care of critters we did always have outdoor cats and dogs as kids.  Then within about a week of Tom and I cohabitating we realized that life with just two people was very boring after living in a house with all of his buddies; so we got our first orange tabby; Razz.  As you know, the story has grown and multiplied over the last twenty years...dramatically.

Even before I met Tom, I was an active volunteer with various rescue groups.  If I remember correctly, the first being the Inter-mountain Humane Society, or was it the Evergreen Animal Protective League?  I don't know which came first and it doesn't really matter, the point is, is that I have been doing this a long time, and I still doubt myself as an expert in the field of animals; crazy!

That is why you always have a good team to back you up.  Mentors are my first line of defense.  And I have different mentors for each group of animal; sometimes it is the person I got the animals from (like the sheep breeder or a llama breeder).  But most of the time, you need to search out your own mentors, maybe this can be your vet, or even someone you meet online; but make sure you have that person to call (or e-mail) for advice at a moments notice.  It goes without saying, that a person with animals needs a good, trustworthy vet.  Not a vet that you are intimidated by, or don't share beliefs with, but one that you know will come out for any reason what-so-ever!

But the most important thing a pet owner can have is common sense, no really.  Common sense enough to trust your own instinct when it comes to your critters.  Watching them and knowing them is the very best preventative medicine you can do for them.  Almost every training method (100% success rate) that I have come up with has come from simply watching the behavior of my animals and adjusting the routine.

Take for instance our dog Rosie.  She was depressed and getting aggressive.  How do you tell a dog is depressed?  Well, she attacked a cat, she was not hanging out with the family, when she did she had her head down, etc, she just seemed depressed.  She was also very aggressively going after Gigi, my little dog that we had recently inherited from my Grandma; so it didn't take a genius to figure out what was causing her depression.  She had been my Baby and now Gigi was going everywhere with me.  So, I started taking Rosie with me everywhere; she no longer had to be in the fence with the rest of the dogs she got treated exactly like I treated Gigi (the only reason Gigi wasn't in the fence was because she could squeeze out of the wire!)

Now, as for the aggressive behavior towards the cat and Gigi, I was not taking any chances there (not with kids and small animals in the house), and I got aggressive myself.  I attacked her back just like another dog would.  It scared the crap out of my kids, I must tell you, but it got the point across to Rosie as well.  I yelled, and growled and rolled her over in a submissive position and held her there until she knew who was boss.  Between doing these two very easy and minor things Rosie is a very happy and normal companion now.

Let's move on to my problematic Rooster while we are talking about dominance here, because this is a new battle for me.  As I mentioned dominance is something that I believe you should always show in your herd, so to speak.  But, this is just a chicken, a bird for goodness sake!  Really, what harm is he going to cause me, and why do I have to win that battle?  It really took some re-thinking on my part.  I realized that every time the roo would see me get worked up, so would he, and if I would just hold still...he would fluff his feathers and move on.

So I tried this new thinking with my teenage son yesterday when I made him go gather eggs for my friend Janet.  I told him exactly what to do, even though he insisted the rooster would not attack him.  Well, he said that bird followed him around trying to get him into battle.  He did exactly what I told him to do.  "No, chicken", and hold still.  The funniest thing was his response.  He said that it went against his grain.  He said "you know Mom, I'm a teenager, and I really wanted to teach that chicken who was boss, it felt like I was letting him win!"  It's very hard to turn the other cheek sometimes.

Speaking of battles you can't win, remember that it is time for the rut, people.  Elk are bugling, the deer have that wild look in their eye, and my ram Paco, well, he looks like he's gonna knock me flat on my ass.. So as soon as I can catch him, he will be locked up with his girlfriend Esther.  And let me tell you, I won't be catching him with my hands, that sheep has one crazed look about him, I will wait until he is in the right pen, and then I will simply close him into it.  Yeah right, and then watch him ram the hell out of the gate, but that is why they call them rams I guess!

While we are talking about advice, I thought I'd mention a trick I have been using lately on the dogs various leg injuries.  It is total and complete immobilization.  Iowa has hurt her leg twice since we have brought her home, and now Gigi has a hurt leg.  When a dog is limping there can be many causes; check the foot first looking for any burs or cuts on the pad.  If there are none, you may need to try this trick, and it has saved me big bucks, because all of the times I thought I was headed to the vet.  Although it seems a bit drastic, put the dog in her crate for a minimum of two days, only walking her on a leash for potty breaks.  The problem is that dogs don't know not to run on an injured leg, and will still run to the front door to bark or whatever.  This really is the only way to completely immobilize an animal, lock them up.  I always feel terrible doing it, but when the leg is better, I know I have done the right thing.

So how about you, do you have any great pet advice to share?  How about pet stories or pics?  I'd love to see them and share them here and on my Facebook page.