Friday, February 26, 2010


As you know, I try to stay positive, but I have found some upsetting news that I feel I need to share.  I warn you now this is disturbing to watch.  For those of you that blog, please pass along, for those of you that don't, please pick up the phone and make a quick call.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Coaches, bus drivers and construction workers, our heroes!

As you all know, this story hits way too close to home for this household and community.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those who are involved.  This is a great link regarding the Deer Creek Middle School drama, they can tell the details much better than I can.  This is dedicated to all of our everyday, unsung heroes.  And I pray that they happen to be around when my children (or for that matter anyone's children) may need them!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Technical Tuesday-Sort of!

One of the gals that helped me get started in blogging, Katydid and Kid, does a great weekly feature called Tech Tuesday, and as I always say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  But, I am not near as tech savvy as Kathleen, so actually I am wanting you all, my dedicated readers to help me out on this one.  I am a little concerned about my handy dandy laptop that I do all of my business on and am wondering if this is a common problem or a sign of serious computer problems.
Keep in mind that all of my issues are always resolved when the computer is shut down and restarted, but sometimes it gets so locked up that I do have to shut it down incorrectly, which as we all know is not a good thing.  I have gotten a couple of "Fatal" messages, which makes my heart go into my stomach, but again, it seems to recover just fine.  I am thinking that maybe if I do some sort of clean up that it should take care of the problem.  So, my questions to you, my favorite readers are:

1)  Do you all do any type of regular maintenance on your computers?
2)  Do any of you use those back up sites?  If so, what do you think of them?
3)  Where do you take your computer to have it worked on, or rather what is your favorite place?
4)  What about pictures?  Do you feel comfortable with things like Snapfish?

Now, I know that I am not the only person who breaks out in a sweat when their computer freezes up, so this is a great time for us to share ideas on how to save our sanity.  As far as business records go, I am pretty good about keeping a paper trail.  I do think I am going to spend some time getting all of my pics onto cd's just in case, and most of my other work like this blog and e-mail of course is kept on the internet.  As far as viruses go, I do have protection, but it is rather basic.  Again, I think this is a great opportunity for us to compare notes and brainstorm ideas to keep our "central nervous systems" healthy!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

I almost laughed myself out of my seat when I had to write Royal Ranch Royalty and Elway in the same sentence, but I suppose that's what he is.  Elway, born the day that John Elway retired, was one of the first llamas that arrived here at The Royal Ranch, which in itself deserves the title of Royalty, but that is pretty much where his "dynasty" ends.
When I was doing research into llamas and preparing to buy my first packing llamas (remember back then there was not a need for rescuing llamas, at least that I was aware of) and as usual I was considering doing things a little differently and packing with a string of females because I had fallen in love with a female llama at another farm.  But, as I have mentioned you can't house males and females together, so once I made that decision, I knew I had to stick with it.  The ranch that Elway lived at was the last that I was going to visit before I made my decision, and they won me over with Elway, partially because they threw a pack into the deal, but because Elway was so easy to handle.  The decision was made, and Elway and Hunter (who came from a different ranch) were delivered the following weekend.  We didn't even have a trailer back then, my how times have changed.
Anyway, although we purchased him as a packing llama, and the picture shows him packing (he is the brown llama with the white neck) Elway is far from a useful pack llama.  He is the last one we pick to take with us on any adventure as he is the laziest llama we own.  He is also very bad at stream crossings and I am the only person (knock on wood) that he has not knocked down, so far.  He has a terrible habit of just laying down when he gets tired, which is quite often, and will not get back up; he just lays there and looks at us like we are trying to kill him or something.
One time when I was feeding them, I had a green coat on and had the flake of hay tucked underneath my arm and that darn llama bit my arm so hard it left a huge bruise; and remember, llamas don't have any upper teeth so that was just from the force!  I got to talking with my mentor Lynley and we think he might have a vision problem, but we did have him tested and he checked out fine.  He just seems to not see well at dusk, which of course is when he bit me, and below his legs, which could be the problem with stream crossings.  I could just be making excuses for a dumb animal, but I think he may deserve them, the excuses I mean.
Although it sounds like I am picking on Elway, and actually I guess I am, we do enjoy watching him in the pasture.  He is one of the funniest llamas we have ever owned.  When people take things up to the fence, like grass or a Christmas tree Elway comes running down as fast as he can, rolling his neck and kicking up his back feet; I can always see our guests back up a couple of feet until they are certain he is going to stop at the fence!  He is also good at letting us pick up his feet which most llamas do not like, so he can be a good teaching tool to show people about the padded foot of the llama that is so easy on the environment!
Our llama herd has changed dramatically since then, and I have found that our rescue llamas tend to be harder workers and have been fantastic workers for our businesses.  I don't know if that is because they are more appreciative or if it is because they seem to trust me absolutely, which is kind of funny, really, considering what many of them have been through.  I just know that I will never look back on the decision I made to house males which I ultimately have Elway to thank for, because almost all rescue llamas are males, so in that sense I have a lot to thank him for, don't I?  I guess we better quit calling him The Nutcase, darn.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't Forget Dental Students

Okay, so you know I am a huge supporter of students of all ages.  I think that we should support our kids at all levels, whether it is to pick up recycling at the middle and high schools, be parent at the door, help out the teachers in the classrooms at the elementary schools, what have you.  But, when I was having all of those dental problems I remembered a story I had seen on the news about a local dental school and I decided to check it out.  I may have mentioned this before, but I have delved into this a bit further now and would like to tell you a little more about what a great opportunity this has worked out to be for me.  So, read on.
As you know, I injured my back, which in turn caused me to crack a couple of my teeth.  Simple enough, right? Wrong!  Not when it comes to dental care.  I had no idea how varied, and really how corrupt the dental field is.  I will start from the beginning and give you a quick run down of my dental care.  We have never had dental insurance, but I am blessed with fantastic teeth and my parents did a great job of my dental care when I was growing up.  When Tom and I got together, he was behind in his care, so we signed up for just a cheap dental plan and went to whatever dentist was available on it.  Mostly we took care of him and the kids and very minimal on me.  The last time I went to that place I remember having some sort of deep cleaning and it being very painful and never going back.
Well, of course, time goes by, the kids become the priority and their dental health comes first and this damn back thing takes two years, blah blah.  As things go for me, it turns into a big ordeal and gets bad overnight and the story probably rings a bell from here.  On a Thursday I see the first dentist and for $200 I leave crying with a $5,000 estimate and no help.  Monday night I see a much nicer dentist who says my mouth is terribly infected for waiting so long, still no help, but the estimate is of course going up because he has better x-rays than the first guy and can see I need a root canal instead of just this or that, etc.  So, I head back up the mountain, frustrated, sick (literally), and in pain, and that is when I remembered the show about the dental college.  
I did a bunch of research that night when I got home, got the kids off to school the next day and headed off to college.  UCD Dental School is a long ways away from Bailey, CO but it has been a wonderful experience for me.  The morning that I arrived was a bit chaotic as they only take 8 patients per session, first come first served, so you have to get there early.  I was seen in the morning session by a very professional student and was given multiple care options for the emergency portions of my dental care.  That afternoon I was seen in the oral surgery department to have the worst of the teeth extracted.  The first visit cost me $44 and the extraction cost me $70.  I was going to pay $279 for just the extraction at the first dentist I had seen.
While I was there, I headed upstairs and got signed up for a screening to be accepted into the student's program for the rest of my dental care.  Part of the problem is that I had other dental issues going on as well.  Due to the seizure meds I take, I have pretty bad gum problems and I still have one more tooth that is cracked, and the reason it cracked, of course is because it has a cavity in it.  As you can imagine, getting into this program could be very beneficial for us, and I was hoping, for the students as well. This last Thursday was my appointment to see if I was accepted.
Well, I was exactly right.  They were more than happy to see me!  I chuckle as I say that, it's a little embarrassing that a bunch of dental students think how crappy my mouth is, and were happy about it, but whatever it takes to get my oral health back I figure!  Anyway, for the low, low price of $20 I had a quick screening done to see if I fit the profile, and they loved me.  I have some unusual things that they can teach with because of the meds and the tooth that they pulled in the back will be fun to teach with because either we will be doing a three part bridge or a little bit of a tricky implant (soft bone).  The really exciting thing is that there was a young gentleman standing around looking for a patient to help him take his board exams, which lucky me, I fit the bill for that too.  So, now I get a portion of my dental care for free and will get paid a couple hundred bucks to help him pass his boards!
Now, there are a few down sides to this.  The biggest being time.  These appointments take ALL (they tell you a couple hours, but with drive time etc.) day.  And that is not at all an exaggeration.  They even tell you that at the screening, but to me it is absolutely worth it.  I am getting state of the art dental care, by students who are almost too gentle (maybe that's what takes so long) and then everything is double and triple checked.  The other down side for me is the location, again it takes about 1.5 hours to get there, but again, I just write the entire day off, take a book and thank my lucky stars that I'm not paying 10 times that amount for much less care.
Very quickly I would like to touch on that.  I do not like to "bash" on anyone or any industry in particular, but I have really learned a lot about dental care in the last few months.  First and foremost, dentists pretty much can do whatever they want.  It's not like doctors and hospitals that still have to treat a sick person even if they have no money or insurance, they can charge whatever they want and treat at a "standard of care" that they choose.  Secondly, there are a lot of quack dentists out there.  Turns out, that deep cleaning I had that I never went back after, I was supposed to have been numbed up for, and wasn't.  The first dentist I went to with the $5,000 bid, well, a bunch of that was crap too.
My point being, is that there are a lot of options out there.  If you don't like your dentist, check out another; if something is hurting you, it shouldn't.  I am so excited about getting my oral health care back while helping out these new and excited dentists.  Even if you have dental insurance think about helping out some students, I know that they are very appreciative, and you never know who you might meet.  The guy who I'm helping with his boards, he and his wife are moving to Oregon right after he takes his exam with me.  We got to talking and I was proud to hear he had taken a job for Oregon Public Health, but thought it was even more ironic that they were thinking of buying a llama ranch!  Small world!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Follow Your Instinct

I have a friend who is going through one of the most difficult times in a pet owner's lives.  She is making the decision of when is the right time to end the life of her best friend.  She has written me a note and asked for my opinion because she is having a hard time getting a straight answer, and she knows that I have been there many times.  I say what I say about everything else; you need to follow your instinct.  I told her that if she is asking me the question, chances are it is time.
Many of us, myself included, have learned to second guess our "sixth sense", you know, that feeling you have that tells you when something is right or wrong.  Kids have it, mothers have it when it comes to their kids, and even animals have it.  So, why as humans do we over-ride it?  Because of fear.  Fear that we are not going to make the right decision, fear that we are not going to make everyone happy, fear that someone is going to judge us for the decision that we did make.
You know that old saying that hindsight is 20/20?  Really if you look back (at least when I do, for sure) don't you always wish you had followed your instincts?  They are almost never wrong!  So when it comes to questions of utmost importance, you need to trust yourself and not listen to your fears or worries.  Sort things out in your mind; what is your heart telling you and what is just worrying you?  Go with the heart every time and you'll never lose!

In loving memory of Spike the cat and Lucy Rabbit.  Believe it or not, Lucy enjoyed this attention from Spike!

PS I do have a recipe for sick dogs that I used that I passed along to my friend.  I have to laugh though because the kids call it The Dying Dog Mixture.  It actually is good to get any ill dog through a rough time, but it can buy you time with your dying friend as well.  Make rice with broth (chicken or beef) without all of the junk like preservatives and add cooked ground meat.  If your friend is very ill, start with rice only in very small meals (1/4 cup max per feeding) and gradually add meat.  Serve to the animal slightly warmed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Get Your Groove On

Good Morning!  This song came out in the early seventies, so I know I'm a tad young for it, but I heard it the other day on the radio and it really made sense to me.  So crank up the computer, push back your chair and make a little room to groove!  Here is Three Dog Night and I've Never Been to Spain.  Really listen to the words, it makes a lot more sense now that I am an adult, you know it doesn't really matter!!!

And this is my Mom's beloved Elvis singing the same song in 1972, one year afterr Three Dog Night came out with it, I think:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Causin' Trouble and Makin' Plans

You know, if there are a couple of things that I'm really good at, it's getting myself into trouble and making plans for this ranch.  I'm in the throes of doing both, and they make me feel much better I might add!  Although my back is feeling a bit tired, my spirits are much better.
I guess I'll start the story with the making trouble, that sounds a little more fun (that is 'til you hear what I'm making plans for, but that can wait); anyway, back to the trees.  On Friday on this blog I posted about how very upset I was about the loss of the trees along the roadside.  As you probably know by now, I write these posts before the sun comes up in the morning, so I had not had time to get the reactions of my neighbors yet.  I am happy to say that the entire neighborhood was absolutely up in arms about what had happened to our "hood" and felt they had been a little heavy handed in front of our house!  Another thing that struck us all as a little bit odd was that the road crew got a little past my house on Thursday and never came back, what were they even doing cutting the trees in February for a road repaving project that was likely going to never happen due to budget cuts?  And why was the cutting so erratic?
So, over the weekend I talked with many of the neighbors.  One family had been so horrified by what had happened that their kids made signs with crayons and posted them on the trees in front of their home that said "Do Not Cut!!!".  Needless to say this all only fueled my fire.  After doing some research and looking at plat maps, etc. we could not find anything illegal (darn) about their actions, but I did cause as much trouble as I possibly could at the commissioners office yesterday.  I had to laugh, because when I got home from running about a half hours worth of errands there were three messages; one from the commissioner (for the second time and the second from my neighbor saying she had called him right after he hung up with me.  We were hitting them hard!  The point of the matter is that I was feeling frustrated that I hadn't done anything to stop them, and this won't bring my trees back, but I do think it will make them think twice before cutting anymore!!!
Okay, so on to the making plans.  In the midst of all of this trouble, I notice the backside of my little lady sheep, Esther looking a little swollen.  So for the thousandth time I research gestation of a sheep, and oh my, the first of March is just around the corner!!!  Yee-haw  The Royal Ranch has never had a baby before!  I can't tell you how excited I am for this, or is it these, babies!?!  Paco, the ram, is a triplet, which brings my chances of having triplets up quite a bit.  Twins are a rather common thing with sheep so that would be fantastic, but triplets would just about put Isabella and I through the roof because we would for sure get a bottle baby which is of course what we are selfishly hoping for.  Sheep are very good mothers, and Esther has been a mom before and taken care of her baby very well, but if there are too many, then one needs to be bottle fed and for a new sheep owner and a ten year old girl, that sure sounds like a lot of fun.
I am excitedly getting her lambing barn all ready.  I have gotten it all cleaned out and have attached two out of three of the panels that will close Esther and Paco in.  This way they will have a little time to come and go out of it and get used to the panels before they are locked into it.  It means I will have to clean it multiple times to keep the dirty llama "cooties" out once they finally are in there as a family, but my patience will pay off to keep Esther calm.  I of course have increased her food intake and am anxiously watching for any signs of premature labor like any proud rancher would and hope that I get everything done in time and don't have to rush her.  I am so thankful for my lead llama Marcel at times like these.  I know that even if she has the lambs at night, in the llama pen, that he will keep an eye on them for me!

I chose to breed sheep on purpose (well, I would hope so!), because I wanted the kids to have the experience of the whole life cycle thing; with rescue, sadly you do get to see plenty of illness and death and this way hopefully they will see the wonders of life as well.  We chose sheep for a couple of reasons, I have always been very careful to spay and neuter all of my cats and dogs, because of overpopulation.  Llamas are always "open", meaning that they can breed anytime so you can't house males and females together, so we have never had any female llamas.  Also, since ours are all rescue llamas, they are generally males since a female llama still has a little value as a breeding llama to most people.  Because there are so many llamas out there in need of homes I do not really condone breeding llamas unless it is the highest quality lines, and that is not what I have.  Sheep, on the other hand are still very sellable.  Ours are very good wool animals and we should not have a problem selling the ones we want to cull, which in our case will probably be the adults and any rams and then we will start with a fresh ram in the fall with a new breeding program for next Spring!

Although, the one doesn't have to do much with the other, you know cousing trouble and making plans, they do sort of go hand in hand, I'm moving on from one thing and looking forward to the next, that's just how you're supposed to do things right?  Put one foot in front of the other...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tickled Pink, or is it orange?

The emotional actress gracefully makes her way towards the stage with her Ferragamo shoes and shawl, tears streaming down her face.  Her huge smile showing her perfect white teeth accented by her flowing purple and sequined gown.  The crowd tries to hide their giggles as she trips up the steps to the stage, but she doesn't care,  "I;d like to thank the academy for this award..."
No, I'm just kidding, but you'd think that's what happened by the emotions I felt when I got this award from my friend, Daisy over at Compost Happens.  See, I've always been a middle of the road kind of gal.  Average grades, second soprano in the choir,  I just don't really like to stand out in the crowd too much.  But as you all know, I've been in a little bit of a rut lately, so when I got the note from Daisy that I won the Sunshine Award, all I could do was cry.  Yes, cry.  How damn nice.  Exactly what I needed, a ray of sunshine in a cloudy time.
But, then I got a little scared.  I mean this is a big honor.  I'm not used to getting awards.  What do I do?  What if I don't hold up to the criteria?  God, Judy, calm down, you're going to give yourself a coronary!  Sometimes I'm such a spaz (do you think spellcheck will catch that one?).  So anyway, this is the criteria that I cut and pasted from Compost Happens:

Put the logo on your blog or within your post (right click and save),

Pass the award on to 12 bloggers,

Link the nominees within your post,

Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

I mean really, it's not all that difficult and I'm freaking out about it.  The problem is, is that again, I'm new to the blogosphere and don't even read twelve blogs.  I absolutely love most of the blogs that I do read. but feel that this is a very special award and do not just want to give it out to everyone I know, just because I know them, you know?  So, anyway, this really took a lot of thinking on my part, and I have decided that since I do everything just a little bit differently why should I break my track record now.  I really hope it is okay with Daisy and I don't get kicked out of the Sunshine committee or something, but I have decided that I will still just pick my favorite blogs to give the awards to, there will just be fewer of them.  So, without further ado, here are my absolute favorite blogs, the reasons why they deserve this award in my opinion and links to them (in no particular order):
Mom-Not Otherwise Specified is a great blog by a mom with a child with Autism.  I actually stumbled upon this blog because of a story she had written about Dierks Bentley and her son.  It's funny, I sort of felt like I was intruding at first because I have three healthy children and I thought it was geared more towards people with autistic kids, but it has been a very enjoyable blog on many levels.
Picnic Basket Crafts is my friend Tiffany's blog.  If you read my blog regularly, you will recognize her name because she has some really great handmade products that I absolutely love, helps me with the recycling program at our middle school where she is a great science teacher and has been an A number 1 supporter of my business ventures.  Her blog has some really funny things like "From the mouths of babes", you know quotes from her seventh graders or her own kids, etc.  Check it out, it's great,
On the Road with Jim and Pat, yes, this is nepotism at it's very best, or is it?  This is my parent's blog that my Dad writes to keep everyone up to date on their travels.  They travel the country in an Eagle bus that my Dad has converted into a home for them while they travel to various bus conversion conventions and Mom does Stampin' Up! seminars and Dad sells his fire suppression systems that he invented for these homes on wheels.  I hate to admit this, because obviously he's going to read this, but I didn't stay current with their blog until I subscribed by e-mail.  To be honest, I figured that the blog would be too technical for me since my Dad is such a "Genius" (we all used to roll our eyes when my Grandma always called him that again and again and again...) but it really is a great blog to read about their journeys and things that are happening around the country and the different kinds of people that they meet.  It even has a map on it that shows all of the states that they have traveled to in the bus, not too many left to cover!
Speaking of homes on wheels, I got to thinking of a friend of my Dad's who helped me out on a previous post about saving energy and I really like his blog, so I wanted to mention it as well.  Our Odyssey is another blog about living in the tight quarters of a conversion bus.  What I really like about Sean's blog is that they try very hard to live green and they do it in grandiose style.  They have some really neat videos on the blog that give you a tour of the bus and it is really beautiful.  I absolutely love the one about the pets, the idea to have the cats litter box underneath the bus so that the cats go through a cupboard door, go downstairs to do their business, Sean cleans the box from the outside of the bus and off they go.  Ingenious!!!  Although I am somewhat new to the blog, from what I gather they live on the bus full time, and also travel to volunteer for the Red Cross.  Very impressive people.
Homestead Apprentice is my neighbor Mishaun's blog.  I know that she has a partner in it as well, and I enjoy all of the pieces that are written in the blog, but that is how I came upon it.  You know, these gals really get it.  They know what life and family and happiness is all about.  They sometimes make me look like a schmuck for eating regular food off the shelf (LOL) because they make everything from scratch, but they really inspire you to go that extra step to be one step closer to self sustainable.  It really is possible.
And, I really wish that I could include in this list my friend Daisy over at Compost Happens because I really do enjoy her blog, but she already received the award which doesn't surprise me one bit.  She always makes sure to pass the sunshine along, I don't think there has been a day that has gone by that she hasn't left me some kind of nice comment and I'm not even positive how she came upon my blog, but I'm sure glad she did!
So, I'll say it again, the list may be short, but it is also sweet.  these are some great blogs and people that write them.  So, thanks friends and family!!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Metaphysical Monday? Not even close...

I say it time and again.  This blog is meant to be a positive influence on people's lives, period.  But, I have really gotten to thinking a lot lately about how I tend to heal and recover from injuries, illnesses or hard times in life.  I just hurry and get through the hard parts, and then just try to forget they even happened, never really processing the whole thing; which in the case of an injury means I re-injure myself again and again and in the game of life I just don't seem to process the issue, just cover it up.  Come on, I know I'm not alone here.
So, the thought of having material for a Metaphysical Monday is downright entertaining.  I'm not even close to spiritual right now.  As a matter of fact I bet my Spirit Guides are having a lovely vacation laughing at me wondering when I'm going to quit having a pity party and get back to work!  No, I know that life piles things on all of us.  Like back injuries that lead to dental injuries.  And then the county comes and cuts down all of your trees and the whole neighborhood thinks that because you are in such a public place on the road and such a community supporter that you should lead the battle.  Maybe your having a hard time with money or your teenagers, even if you know the rest of the world shares these same problems, it is sometimes hard not to feel a little sorry for yourself. 
So, that is what you do.  I finally figured out that a person can feel bad for themselves without feeling sorry for themselves, there is a difference.  And that is when it is time to take a mental health day, which is exactly what I did yesterday.  That is what all of these pictures are from, and as you can see, Mother Nature gave me plenty of reasons to remember my love of this planet and my respect and passion for the earth and the very close connection I have with it.  Wow, kind of sounds almost like my Metaphysical Monday posts after all!

For those of you that are familiar with Colorado, Tom and I took a drive up Guanella Pass to see how far we could get.  Yes, that is what mountain hillbilly's do for Valentine's Day, and yes, it was a spectacular Day!!!  The Mountain Goats were down in Grant, I had just said "since we have the camera I sure wish we'd see the goats" and right then Tom pulled over because there they were.  This is my first picture ever of these guys, not near as white as I had expected but I certainly wasn't complaining.  The other pic is of the old Geneva ski area, and the drift you see is only a mile or so past the ski area and a dirt bike was stuck in it just on the other side so we knew we weren't going any further.  That was a big surprise for me, how many bikes were up there; there was even a big group that had side cars on them, way cool to see.  We did also see two Bald Eagles on our trip, but they were on private property too far away, so I didn't get a picture, darn!!!  My friend Viv works at Zoka's on the weekend, so we popped in there too!  I can't tell you the last time Tom and I did something for ourselves like that, we really had a nice time, thanks Babe, I love you!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Good Morning!  I hope you all have wonderful plans with your loved ones today.  I had to do a little research for today's post because I really had no idea exactly why we celebrate Valentine's Day.  Don't get me wrong, a day that celebrates love is a day that is a-okay in my mind, but I just never really knew the thinking or reasoning behind it.  Well, it appears that I am not the only one.  This is one of the things I read on the History channel:
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
And then Wikipedia has a whole page full of mumbo jumbo, (excuse the expression, but it was just too much historical religion for me to wade through) that takes you through a whole myriad of " Saint Valentines" and their poems and how they have affected this lovers holiday.  But one thing is for sure, Valentine's Day is part of a very long history and one that has turned giving cards into an art form.
Today is second only to Christmas when it comes to the giving of holiday cards and men are found to spend about twice as much money on this holiday as women.  Let's not make this holiday all about cards and gifts this year.  Let's remember to celebrate the saints in our lives, the loved ones we hold dear and keep the money in our pockets!!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Recycling Hair?

Yes, Recycling hair!  I couldn't believe my eyes.  What a fantastic natural resource that every single person, yes even including my very bald father, has to recycle.  I signed up for the newsletter a few months ago and it has been an absolute treasure trove of information for this blog!  I recently came upon an article entitled "I Didn't Know That Was Recyclable" and on the list was hair.  I was pretty sure I was going to come across the same old line of hair donation, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was actually hair recycling!
In 2000 an ingenious hair stylist named Phil McCrory was watching film coverage of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and notice the oil that stubbornly saturated the fur of the otters he thought of the huge amounts of human hair that is collected in salons and started testing the amount of oil he could soak up with the hair from his salon.  According to the article at "McCrory invented the hairmat to help soak up oil from an estimated 706 million gallons of oil that enter our oceans each year. There are more than 370,000 hair salons in the U.S., and each collects about 1 pound of hair per day. That represents a tremendous amount of landfill matter from something we probably never even thought about!".
With this great invention, was the birth of a great public charity called Matter of Trust that accepts hair clippings and turns them into the hair mats that are used to clean up the oil spills.  The group is doing all sorts of research with hair and fiber and it's uses and what a wonderful natural resource it is.  If you have a minute check out the website, it was very interesting and gave me some really great ideas for my llama wool as well.  Keep the link handy, and next time you get your hair done, pass it along to your hair dresser and they can sign up and send the hair in a shampoo box that they would probably like to get rid of anyway!
Now, I do not mean to minimize donating hair, it is just up until now, I thought that was the only way to "use" your natural resource that grew on top of your head, or unless like my Dad only on the sides of your head.  Boy, he's really taking abuse on this one isn't he?  Anywho, back to the subject of hair donation.  This actually is something I very firmly believe in.  The first time I donated was when my aunt in Iowa got breast cancer.  I could not be there, so I felt the best way to support her was to cut my hair when she lost hers.  I donated it in her name.  I must say I was a tad disappointed in the impersonal postcard that she received from Locks of Love.
The next experience we had was when my Grandma was first diagnosed with cancer, my decision to cut my hair was still fresh in the mind of my very young daughter at the time, but she decided that she wanted to cut her hair for "GG".  The timing still amazes me to this day.  We had been waiting for Isabella's hair to reach the proper length and for me to be okay with losing her beautiful blond locks when one morning I awoke and knew that the day had come.  My friend Della had just finished cutting her hair when my cell phone rang, I answered to my Grandma sobbing.  See, she had been a hairdresser for her entire life, so to have woken up that morning to clumps of hair on her pillow was more than she could bear.  The day that Bella donated her hair in GG's name was the day that I had to shave GG's head.
I have donated my hair one more time since then, but again, have been a bit disappointed in the simple, impersonal postcards we have gotten in response to the very personal gifts we have given.  I know that sounds kind of funny, but when I sent in Isabella's ponytail, I put on the form her age and the reason she had donated her hair, and again, just the regular postcard.  I did save it for her baby book and of course will make a big deal out of it on the page if I ever get around to updating the book, but it was just a matter of principle. 
The great news is that when I googled hair donation in doing my homework for this post, there have been many new companies that have gotten into the business of hair donation in the years since we have done it.  So whether your hair is long or short, whether you want to donate or recycle, don't forget, you have a wonderful natural resource growing right on top of your head (yes, even you Dad-love you!!!)!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

This used to be the view from my kitchen window.
We live in beautiful Park County Colorado.  Up until today this blog has never said one negative thing about what a spectacular area this is.  But, today I wake up with a very heavy heart, and to some that may seem very melodramatic when you hear this is about some trees, but it is about our trees, and quite a few of them at that!  Trees that we live with and trees that we love.  Trees that we have watched grow with our children, and have even compared their growth against pictures we have gotten from the family of the original owner of this ranch, Charlie Royal.
If you look in the left corner you will see the road, many of these trees are gone now.

See, many months ago I wrote our local newspaper editor a letter after our entire neighborhood had been unsuccessfully attempting to reach the road and bridge department for many months.  We have huge potholes in our road that have become hazards to residents and visitors alike.  As you know, Tom and I take care of the campgrounds and have our B&B up this road and I mentioned in my letter to the editor that if the road is inaccessible to visitors so is the revenue to our local businesses.  Well, it must have gotten the attention of one of our esteemed commissioners, because the very same weekend that my letter appeared in the paper I got a call from him and at first I was quite honored.  I got the usual, well, we have to fix the roads in the order of priority, and we're doing the best we can, etc.  It was all going just fine until we were hanging up and he said, feel free to call me... this is just not the kind of thing we work out in the paper.
Obviously, that was the end of the conversations between him and I; because last I heard I have some pretty well protected freedoms.  The potholes were fixed pretty quickly and some pavement had been marked further up by the campground so we knew at least some planning was being made, so I was content.  That was until yesterday.  I was downstairs working on my computer when I heard the crew working in front of the house.  I went to see what was going on and to my horror they were cutting huge trees down and just chipping them away!  I went running out there to ask what they were doing and was told they were taking everything ten feet on either side of the road for the big equipment coming in for the repaving project.  I was just sick.  I felt as if the whole thing was my fault for writing that damn letter in the first place.
I also felt that the removal of the trees was particularly harsh on my property lines and views, compared to that of my neighbors, but hopefully that is just emotion talking.  We lost over twenty trees, ranging from 3 inches in diameter to 12 inches in diameter.  Most of them were big beautiful healthy pines, but a few of them were aspens that of course will come right back, thankfully.  One of the things that I am struggling with most is that I did nothing to stop them, and believe me I thought of everything.  I even thought of running out there naked thinking who on earth is going to mess with a crazy naked lady?
I knew that the road crew was only doing what they had orders to do.  I had orders to be at the middle school to be selling dance tickets for tonight's big event.  But when I got home and Thomas, my sixteen year old and I went out to take some pictures of the horrific damage I couldn't help but shed some tears and feel ashamed that I had done nothing to stop them from raping my neighborhood.
This is the view out my kitchen window now.

"Mom, you should have held a peaceful protest!" said Thomas.  "I know honey, but I probably would have ended up getting arrested."  "Well, Mom, Rosa Parks was arrested, sometimes that's what's needs to happen, this is real bull."  "Dad and I don't have the money to get into a battle, and we would lose anyway, our trees are gone, and there is nothing we can do about it."  Do I still feel the same way today, NO!!!  I feel like I want to go back out there and chain myself to some of those trees further up the road that are still on the hit list!
You know, I pride myself on trying to be a logical person, I understand about progress.  In my letter my complaint had nothing to do with the width of the road; as a matter of fact I mentioned that the accidents that were almost happening were being caused by people who were passing the slow moving campers that were avoiding the huge potholes.  Plenty wide to pass should mean plenty wide to repave, without the removal of half of the forest in my opinion, especially with the century old equipment that our county has.  Even if they had contracted out the work, as they sometimes do, I know that the locals would much rather deal with road closures than deal with the massive loss of trees that we are seeing.
The other half logical thought I had was that if those trees absolutely had to go, it sure would have been a nice jump on next years' firewood.  For a family of five who struggles each year to heat their large, very old home with wood, it made me absolutely, physically ill to see those huge healthy trees to be put through a chipper.  Yes, I understand that for liability sake the county could not let us cut them down, but what a waste of perfectly good wood.  And, what took them all day, Tom could have done in a couple of hours, our llamas and sheep could have eaten all of the pine needles and loved every minute of it (along with getting some great nutrition) and we would have had kindling for years to come.  We would have used every single piece of those trees!!!
I guess the earth loving, tree hugging part of me is just screaming out that something is definitely wrong with this picture.  And I just can't get past the feeling that I am being punished and that I should have done more...
What's that old saying...No use crying over spilled milk?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

To moderate or not to moderate, that is the question...

Since the conception of this blog, I have tried to make sure I let my readers know how much you all mean to me.  I don't say this just because it is what I am supposed to say to my very dedicated readers.  I mean it for many reasons.  Many of you are family.  Many of you are my dear friends, and have been that way for what seems like a lifetime.  But one of the greatest things about this blog has been that it feels like I have made friends that I would never have known existed that may or may not be around for a lifetime, but in some small way we have touched one another's lives. 
So each and every comment I receive is very important to me and I don't want any of them to fall through the cracks, so to speak.  As you have gotten to know me, you've probably learned that I don't usually do things in the typical fashion.  So, when I started this blog that was my introduction into the blogging world.  I had never commented on another blog, and had only read one or two posts on my friend Tiffany's blog.  So, when the comments moderation page came up my worst fear was that someone was going to come on and just start trashing my lame attempts at a blog and that of course I would want to stop that; so I set up to moderate comments.
It didn't take long until I was a little more comfortable in my "Author Hat" to take the moderate comment settings off of my blog.  What I quickly realized is that I was no longer notified of the comments though, and that I was missing quite a few of them.  Which left me in a real quandary because as I said, I really and truly enjoy your comments.  I have never not posted a comment and have been blessed to have never gotten one of those comments that I so feared.  I also have never received any of the robocomments that they warn you about when you are setting up your blogging account.
So, anyway, the plot thickens.  Yesterday, I was thinking about all of the posts I had in mind since I was behind and which I was going to do today, I had decided on this one about moderating comments.  I booted up my computer to get a head start on it, and of course started with my e-mail.  I had one regarding a post from yesterday.  See, yesterday on this blog I was bragging about how smart we Americans are with our space ships and automobiles, etc.  Well, it appears I'm wrong, I think for the first time ever.  I am going to do a bit of copying and pasting here because my German exchange sister was trying to protect her ignorant American sister (me) by not commenting directly onto this blog. This is the comment that you will find posted for yesterday, note how she did not want to rat me out publicly-ha!
Hi Judy,
I sent you a message on facebook, about the invention of the automobile ;-)
Take care!

This is her note from Facebook in it's entirety:
Dear Judy, I am so glad you seem to be feeling better, and I was amazed by your blog about cleaning up the house and bills... Have you started any therapy yet? I think there could be many soft ways of curing, you just need to find the right thing, which, of course can be very difficult.

Today's blog talks about the automobile, and for the 2nd time I thought "sorry, Judy, but the auto was invented in Germany!"

Actually it was even invented by a guy who was born in Karlsruhe, where we live, see link.

I think the US can claim to have invented its industrial production, but, sorry again, the automobile is ours ;-)

Love you!

Irina, also known as smart alec

Karl Benz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
So, this must be the second time in this blog I have been bragging incorrectly about that!  See, that is why it is so important to me to listen to you all.  Really I don't keep comments from you, I just don't want to miss out on anything.  I have learned a lot from all of you and I can't tell you all how much your positive comments have meant to me!!!  And oh by the way, Damn Germans (grin)!!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Space Program Blues

From our brave men and women who have served our country to a legal immigrant who has fought and won his right to live in this great country there are all shades of American Pride.  But, I am not sure that there are any Americans that are not moved by the site of one of our space shuttles preparing for take off.  With the smoke billowing and the engines roaring and the ground visibly shaking and the shuttle covered in American flags, now that is patriotism at it's very best!
On July 20, 1969 an American flag was placed on the moon.  I was not even born yet, but I have seen the images so many times I feel like I was there.  I will never forget the excitement of the old TV cart being rolled into the room in elementary school so we could watch one of the take offs live.  Or in middle school when one of our beloved shuttles crashed upon lift off (will any of us ever forget that one?) and we all had a moment of silence for the loss of the teacher and her fellow astronauts and then rushed home to watch the news coverage.
This is American history.  It is a part of who we are, and who we represent as Americans.  It is part of our pride and our heritage, and it shows the world what we can do; we started it and have built it from the ground up.  It is one of the few parts of the government that many Americans are proud of these days and it has now been cut, bummerIt really reminds me of another story that I have heard recently, very similar to the automobile industry.  As Americans, we invented the auto, built an entire industry, even built entire cities around that industry and then needed a bajillion dollar bailout for that very same industry, I say it again, bummer!
This is not only concerning to me because it directly affects Tom's machine shop, which is almost entirely aerospace, because I also feel as if the chipping away is in all the wrong places.  Instead of taking away tiny little pieces of things that are huge sources of pride for Americans, let's take a look at some big ticket items that we are not quite so proud of.  I bet if we put our heads together we could come up with a list real quick!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Speaking of Reviews...

Field of Crocuses

Have any of you seen the show Shark Tank (ABC Fridays I think)?  It really is a great show; there are five big investors and people come on with their inventions and try to get the "Sharks" to invest in their products and or companies.  We've watched it a few times as a family, and with being a young entrepreneurial family ourselves it is really very interesting.  It is also hysterical to see some of the crazy characters and products that come on.  But not all of them are crazy, many of them look very promising and have the "Sharks" fighting over them.
So, anyway, I hear that there was a couple on the show that was doing something with llama manure and had a patent on it.  I of course got a chill down my spine and made a mental note to search for the show and make sure to watch it.  Well, that was as far as it went until yesterday when Tom went to work and the big deal was that over the weekend a couple of guys had seen a product like ours on the show and there was a patent etc.  The guys at the shop know what an even keeled fella my husband really is, so when they can get a rise out of him they will.  Tom called me in a panic of course and it took me all of 30 seconds on my computer to find out what fantastic news this was for our Naked~Nure!
This is what Dane Carlson's Business Opportunity's Blog had to say about it:
The biggest stumbling point for Phil and Adia is a large cost of educating the public that llama fertilizer is superior to other forms of fertilizer. Their evaluation of their business was crazy, a single llama costs about $1000, the sharks could buy 125 llamas and open up their own fertilizer business for that investment. All sharks were out.
I have found that educating the public about the wonders of our fantastic llama manure has been a tad bit of a stumbling block as well.  But them being on national TV sure went a long way in advertising the benefits of llama manure.  As far as their provisional patent, that is on their specific product only, which is Llama Brew, the tea that is brewed once you mix the llama beans with water.  Why you want to pay for the water, I'm not quite sure, but that's just me the owner of the other company.  I also was a little bit uncomfortable with a product that is being sold as environmentally friendly in a plastic bottle, whether it is a recycled plastic bottle or not, again I'm just sayin'.  The other curious thing was the $1000/llama; I have not paid for a llama in many years.  There are many llamas out there that are in need of homes, just like other rescue animals.  All of this only makes things better for Naked~Nure and what is ahead. 
We have made a lot of changes to our packaging to make our product a lot cheaper!  If there is one thing that I have learned in my years of business, and that is to take a cue from your customers and your own personal experiences.  Although my hand sewn bags were quite cute and sturdy, they took a lot of time and materials, like the zippers for the burlap bags, so the costs of the bag alone was quite high.  Well, I have come across some great muslin bags, of course made right here in the good old USA that will serve the purpose just as well, will cost us all much less, will still be just as environmentally friendly and will keep more Americans than myself working!  I will still offer "batches" of the smaller size in my handmade bags as a gift set or if you buy a certain amount, but I am really wanting to keep my product inexpensive and cheap enough for anyone and everyone to buy.  I am also saving all of my feed sacks so that I will be able to sell my manures in bulk as well.
It's funny, when we originally came up with Naked~Nure we looked into a patent and we were told that it was a hard thing to patent, llama poop.  There are just so many ways to spin the product, and we are already seeing that.  As a matter of fact we are only going into our second year of business and are making pretty drastic changes to our product, I'm rather glad we didn't waste the huge amount of money!
It's already almost the middle of February the Spring winds will be here soon.  The crocuses will be poking their furry little heads up soon!  Don't forget to spread the word....ha!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Judy's Rave Reviews

The Twilight Series:  Santa got Isabella Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse, but was too cheap to buy Breaking Dawn since it was only in Hardcover still; but since Iowa, the puppy, chewed up Eclipse when I was halfway through it, I can buy Braking Dawn when I buy the new copy of Eclipse for Bell.  Thank goodness for my local library, because I was enjoying this series so much that when I was halfway through Eclipse (the third book) I requested Breaking Dawn.  This really is a great group of books with some very "cool" (once you read the books you'll get why this is funny!) characters.  I started them with the thinking that I wanted to check them out before my preteen read them.  I was a little nervous not because of the vampire and werewolf thing, because with two older brothers and a dad that all love sci-fi, she is exposed to plenty of that.  But, to be honest, I was a little more worried about the whole relationship thing, and these books handled it beautifully.  The books are always filled with such action (none of which is too scary, but on the edge of your seat thrilling) that there is no time for the wrong kind of action, if you know what I mean.  I would recommend these books to all levels of readers, but am a little glad that my ten year old has decided that they are a little hard for her and she will wait to read them for next year's reading goal!

James Patterson:  I started with The Quickie, when my sister Kelly suggested it we both giggled over the name of it and she warned me that the cover was just as bad.  When I picked it up I had to chuckle to myself, she was right; this was one that I read at home and didn't take with me to the dentist's office, didn't want anyone to think I was some kind of weirdo!!!  But, a very good book,  I believe I read that one overnight.  It is a story about a woman cop who has an affair and thinks that her affair has had trickle down affects that are beyond belief, but really what is beyond belief is what brought about the affair in the first place! 
I then moved onto Beach House, again a real page turner.  A story of the poor vs. the rich and the poor being taken out in the process!  I am not into gruesome murder stories and James Patterson does not get into gruesome but does paint the picture for the reader and then just moves right on.  The characters are ones that I really connect with and the places he takes you in this book and the others are fun places to escape to.  I don't want to give too much away, but it's always fun to see the good guy win!
Last night, while watching the Super Bowl I couldn't put down Double Cross until I was done, and it sounds like it is a series so I will be back at the library today.  I have to say, I think this was my favorite out of all of the Patterson novels, but this could just be because it is freshest in my mind.  The main character Alex cross is a detective turned therapist turned detective again because one of the bad guys that he put away broke out of a jail right here in Colorado and came back after him.  Maybe it's the Colorado connection, or the fact that my brother in law works at the prison next door to the one they mention so frequently in the book, or maybe it's just a darn good book..., but I loved it!  Alex happens to be daring the Lead Investigator on another developing case and I of course love a strong leading lady too so this book was a shoe in for me.  Can't wait to read more, I'll let you know more as I read them.  Obviously I am a new Patterson fan and I know he has been around a long time, anyone else have something to say on this subject?

Cloud Nine by Luanne Rice:  This really is a great book, very emotional.  Which is why I have to say that out of all of the books on this list it was my least favorite.  But in all fairness, that is entirely because of the frame of mind of the reader.  This is a very powerful novel.  I will say that again.  This is a very powerful novel and should be read; it talks about all kinds of relationships and how they are between children and parents at different stages in their lives and how different decisions affect different people.  Relationships with lovers and friends and even people you hardly know, and how you may affect their lives.  It is sometimes a hard book to read and sometimes a hard book to put down, but always a book that no matter what, you know you must read to the very end.  I do highly suggest you read it, but do so when you are in your happy place.  I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

Hello?  Knock, Knock.  Is anybody still out there?  I figured Royalty day was as good as any to get back into the swing of things; and although you may all be sick of hearing about my damn recovery I feel like I have some 'splainin' to do.   So, amazingly enough I have decided that I am going to be today's Royalty. Yup, you heard that right, the woman that does not even like to celebrate her own birthday or like to be thanked for a job well done is calling herself royalty today, she says with a gulp.
Okay, take away all the labels and stuff, Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Rancher, Volunteer, Blogger, Author,etc.  What do you have left, just plain, boring Judy.  I got really freaked out there for a second, my mind went totally blank.  I thought oh my god, I'm going to be one of those ladies that got married too young and goes crazy and leaves their families and ends up singing in some honky tonk in Texas (LOL)!!!  I mean I had tears rolling down my cheeks I was laughing so hard at the mental pictures I had conjured up!
You see, that's the whole point, that is all part of who I am, my labels.  But, it also leaves me with what I would consider the bad or the negative stuff.  My tendency to have health issues, which leads me to have anger issues, which is what I have been dealing with this last week.  It's really sort of funny;  I've had all of these blogs that I've wanted to post, but I just can't seem to get them written because I'm just too po'd right now!  I've sort of been healing in layers, I picture myself coming back to life like an onion, slowly peeling the thin layers back.  It started a couple of days after my ER visit, my fingertips were tingling and it worked it's way in from there.  Well, about a week ago or so, the healing hit my brain, and I have been pretty irritable since then, to say the least.
The family and I have been trying to keep the mood as light as possible by joking that "Mom has come out of her coma", but the husband is just trying to steer clear!  The huge stack of unopened bills, and the filthy house, and the envelopes from the schools, and the...  were just so overwhelming that I spent a day or so crying trying to figure out where to start I am ashamed to say,  And that is when the anger at the husband set in and boy did he have a rough couple of days, really you've got to feel for him.  But, then I realized that I had not even known how serious I had been and how much time we had lost (until I opened a statement from Nov!) and that I had a right to be mad!  It is a huge drag that my back got hurt so bad that I messed up my mouth to the point that it got infected.  I damn well should be mad, that is how we as humans process things; I needed to get mad, get over it and get on with it!
So, we as a family cleaned the entire house, which the boys needed to learn how to do anyway.  Tom and I tackled those bills with Grandma Ellen's lucky letter opener and I didn't cry (or yell!) once while we were doing it!  But most importantly with this post, I have acknowledged that I am a strong inedpendent woman who has been through one hell of an ordeal, but am ready to put it behind her and am looking forward to what's next!
Make a miracle today!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

This is for all of you hard working moms...

If you have not seen this yet, grab a box of tissues and prepare to enjoy!!!

Thank you Mom NOS for the link, I love it!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Guilt Free Birthday

Good Morning!  I have to chuckle to myself this morning as I write this, I had been concerned over Tom's birthday since money is tight and I'm a little laid up so it's not like I could really make him something nice or even get too excited about doing something or eating a really nice meal or anything.  All winter long Tom's been on this firewood kick; that's how he deals with stress, he gets one thing to worry about and concentrates on that.  I mean firewood has been his absolute obsession this year!  We have even started joking about it, the worse things get as far as the stress level goes, the more firewood Tom gathers, which of course we need to heat our house, so it works out just fine, it's just a funny man trait.
But, when Tom said he had to cut firewood on his birthday I figured I had to draw the line somewhere.  You know, the old, every one's gotta be together and having a great time on Dad's birthday thing? I knew the kids wanted to do their normal weekend routine with their friends, but wouldn't want to hurt Dad's feelings, and I wasn't really up to keeping him busy.  So, I figured we might try something new, a guilt free day, let everyone do whatever they wanted and no one feel at all guilty about it, really.  It seemed to work out great for everyone.  Once the kids learned I wasn't cooking anything, that pretty much scattered them.  As for the birthday boy, well..
Now Tom is the kind of guy who loves a good story.  He loves to hear them, but even better he loves to tell them.  And he has a lot of them.  They're very good stories too, and they're mostly true.  Really.  That's the funny part, is that he doesn't even really have to exaggerate most of his stories.  Like today he will go back to work to all of his city friends and will absolutely amaze them with his birthday weekend.  They all think we live some kind of magical life up here in the mountains and I'm not sure, but I think it may be true.
But, anyway, here is my version.  These young men from the city have never been up to the mountains, so you can only imagine what my loud, very mountain man/biker husband seemed like to them, probably a little nuts.  Dan and his friends had stayed at The Royal Roost the night before and Tom joined them on the morning of his birthday.  The birthday morning started out with coffee and some kind of liquor and hunting to no avail.  Sounds like the city kids slamming the truck doors might not have helped much.  So, the rest of his day is happily filled with him cutting up this huge tree all the while showing his fabulous skills with the chainsaw and then giving the kids the privilege of loading the wood while he amazed them with the stories of the area.  And let me tell you, those kids were having just as much fun and beer as the old men were.  It was the funniest thing!
His weekend of fun rounded out when the hunting party (Tom of course) ended up getting two deer about fifteen minutes before the end of the hunting season!  Talk about cutting it close!  The men had been hunting up at the cabin on our private property up there and were on their way home, done for the season, when they came upon the deer down here!  All in all, he had a fantastic birthday weekend, he's got a mountain of firewood, that he didn't have to break his back over, we will have a freezer full of meat and he's got one heck of a story.  The man simply runs into his stories, it's uncanny, I wish I was a fly on the wall at his shop this morning!!!