Sunday, June 28, 2015

June is almost gone?

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This afternoon I am resting after cleaning the 5th wheel this morning in preparation for a short trip this week to Michigan for Kevin's family reunion. And since I'm resting, I thought I'd take advantage of this time to update the blog.

We are looking forward to this trip, and decided to take the 5th wheel instead of the truck camper so we'll be more comfortable once we are there, especially if and when I'm not on my feet, and we also are going to bring the boys with us since it's hard to leave them and they haven't been camping in a long time. This will actually be Rollie's first time camping and he's 2 1/2! Both Norman and Douglas went all the way to Alaska before their 1st Birthday, so poor Rollie has a lot of catching up to do. 

So many things have happened in the past weeks, that I'm not quite sure where to start, but I'm going to try my best since it's been so long. 

I guess I'll start with my health update, since that has been the consuming thing in the past three months - well the past three years, but the past three months especially and why I haven't got back to blogging properly yet. Since being diagnosed with Inflammatory bowel disease in April in the hospital I've been through so many medications I've lost count. I've had terrible reactions to all of them, except for the steroids which I've been on to keep me out of the hospital, and alive, basically. But all attempts to get me onto another medication to help heal my gut have proved to cause terrible pain, side effects, and even eye pain and I haven't been able to see most of the time. Between the prednisone affecting my eyes regarding light and the other medications causing pain and blurryness in my eyes, it's been a battle. But those things are a lot easier to deal with than the actual physical pain, and other symptoms. Also my joints are causing me terrible pain and at times, it's been hard to walk. I've even had some fainting spells - thanks to general fatigue and I'm sure, medications. This is a new world, and I know things will get under control in the future, we (the Doctors and us) just need to get things under control and find balance again. 

I have found a great GI specialist in NY and so far I really like her, and she's been very good to me, so that is very positive and we've been trying to move forward, its just hard, and one of those things you have to work through. I'm not used to being this sick - with endometriosis I had plenty of pain, debilitating pain, but I was never sick as well, and certainly never had joint pain so bad I couldn't move sometimes. 

Currently we are waiting for approvals from Insurance for new medication. I will be starting an immune suppressant and a biologic drug, one oral, and one I will inject myself with, as our next attempt at getting things under control so I can hopefully start getting some relief and get into remission. But we are being held up by Insurance. I started the process of getting all my vaccinations up to date before I start these medications since I'll be wide open for infection and various diseases, and we are hoping Insurance will come through for us. But there are a lot of hoops to jump through as these are some of the most expensive medications there are as I've learned. My Doctor would like me to start Simponi, a newer medication with less injections and side effects generally. She also wants me to start this one because it works well with the other medication she has prescribed. But Insurance wants me to try Humira first. So we are waiting to find out what the end result will be.

But we are moving forward, even if slowly. And I'm confident we are on the right track, it's just a matter of time, and healing. And patience of course.

I'm anxious to start the medications since they take time to work, but I also don't mind waiting until we are back from our trip if I have to because we are not sure if I'll have any reactions or side effects to them yet, so at least if I do it will be easier to manage at home. 

But this has slowed me down greatly as I've had some really great days and really horrifying days all mixed in together because of constantly starting/stopping medications, and the reactions I've had to them... it's been a bit of a roller coaster which reminds me to take every thing one day at a time and It sure has reminded me to be extra grateful for the good days, and the wonderful things in my life.

Kevin also has not been well, and he's sure had (has) his hands full with me. We've spent most of our days off the farm running to various Doctors appointments and tests for both of us, and the animals too. 

On the farm, it's been busy of course, it is spring after all! 

We had the last of our kids in late May - two adorable Pygmy kids!!! Will-O-Wisp and Thorin. Will-O-Wisp be joining my herd, I wanted a Pygmy doeling so badly this year and also a brown one and I got my wish thanks to Dahlia! Thorin is the nicest colored Pygmy buck ever, he is SO handsome. I'd love to let him join the herd as a buck, but he's related to everyone, so when he is weaned later in the summer he will be looking for a special new home.

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He has such a stunning face! and he's super sweet to boot.


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There is no better therapy than snuggle therapy!

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This kid is such a lover. Will-O-Wisp is very sweet but she is more stubborn and independent (like her mom) where Thorin is very laid back.

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Flavious, exhausted from keeping track of all the babies... 

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They have been growing like weeds! Even this picture is almost two weeks old! My goats finally just now stopped shedding - it's been so cool this June, and even today (almost July!) we darn near need the wood stove on to chase the chill away.

Spriggan, my other purebred Pygmy buckling from this spring (who I wrote about leash training in an older post) got neutered last week as he'll be staying. He's a sweetheart and he won me over. I really don't need another wether in the herd (since most of my herd is wethers now) but he's a doll and actually, Kevin didn't even fight me on this one :)

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He was pretty sleepy after his neuter! 
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Personally I like the surgical option best because I find it causes the least pain - and even healing is easier. Since I have a small herd I don't have to worry about infection/dirt and in a pinch if the bugs were bad, he could stay in the house. But we don't even have any flies yet because it's been so cool. He was dopey for the rest of the day from his sedation and pain meds but it didn't take long for him to get back on his feet and start eating. 

Moon Pie, our other buckling from this year had some health issues in the past month which we had to over come but I am feeling pretty confident at this point we have done that, he's doing very well right now and he's sweet as pie still. It's pretty likely he'll end up getting neutered as well.

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Buckwheat, my Saanen billy goat passed away which was difficult, but it was expected as he's been declining due to age for some time... I've watched him steadily slow down. It was actually quite peaceful and quick but it's still just as hard. I raised him from a baby, and he was the sweetest goat ever, even as a buck, he never once pushed me or even didn't listen, he was always a good boy. 

The sheep got sheared for the summer of course...

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Emerald continues to be the apple of my eye, she is as sweet as they come and she loves her walks with me and the dogs, and she still comes to the house regularly to visit. She wants to stay, even though she is getting REALLY big now! :) 

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Rollie had an allergic reaction a few weeks ago to shampoo - a hypoallergenic one too! He's had them in the past, but never this bad. His hives were terrible and his face swelled badly, and benadryl wasn't cutting it so we made an emergency trip to the Vet to get more meds, (different antihistamine and steroids) which thankfully, did the trick. We were beyond worried. His throat was open and he was breathing fine but for sure it was the worst reaction we've dealt with, and we've been here before, finding out the hard way years ago that both Douglas and Norman are allergic to bees, while in Alaska, 200 miles away from the nearest Vet.

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I also managed with Jim's help moving stuff, to get our sun room cleaned up a bit so we could use it. Since Kevin can no longer work with wood without having a serious allergic reaction himself, we haven't been able to finish the room because we can't find anyone who knows how to work with wood and finishing work to help us... so it's kind of just been a storage room/waiting to get finished. But now we'll at least be able to sit out there this summer/fall and enjoy it :)

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The boys love it.

Aside from that, every chance I get physically, I've been walking with the boys (and usually Emerald) which makes us all very happy and relaxed.

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I did manage to get some planting done on my deck garden, smaller scale than last year. Although I have all my usual dozens of herbs, I didn't manage 100 pepper plants, we have a couple dozen instead and some tomatoes, and a few veggies.

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Even Douglas enjoys the smell of the roses!

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My herbs are the most important thing for me to plant anyway, and I'm glad I was at least able to do some planting this spring.

When we return from our trip, hopefully I'll be able to start my new medications. We'll also be cutting hay if all goes well, and it will be time to start preparing for what is coming... fall and then winter! So our focus will turn to making sure we are as prepared as possible, and enjoying the last of the warmer good days... if it ever warms up again! :) We are grateful for the rain right now however, even if it is cool outside... our hay is up but not nearly where we'd expect it to be so we are hoping this extra rain really perks it up.

Tomorrow I just have to pack the 5th wheel and if all goes well we'll make the 12 hour drive to the Soo on Tuesday. We look forward to a little break away, and visiting family.

I apologize again for not writing often and I am hoping soon some kind of normalcy will return to me. I am really positive about these new medications - scary as they are, and so hopeful I will find some relief and start moving in the right direction towards healing. I can't wait! 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Coming back to life...

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It has been very warm (in the 70s F) here the past few days so we've been taking advantage of it the best we can. My days are pretty up and down but I have been completely making the best of what I've got and enjoying my critters, and the sunshine when I can.

Emerald loves coming to the house for a daily visit, she climbs right up the porch, comes inside and then heads out on the deck with me and the dogs. She also joins me and the dogs on our walks. I started teaching Spriggan my Pygmy buckling how to walk on a leash too - now is the best time for him to learn and he's a real sweetheart. He had a blast at the house. It's going to take work, but he'll get more and more used to it as we go (the leash part, he loves being at the house!)

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On Monday, during the full moon, Beatrice finally gave birth to a beautiful little buckling! He is so precious and so tiny. He's a Saanen/Pygmy mix.

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He has the sweetest face - Beatrice's kids always do.

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And his ears are still floppy. He's a heartbreaker.

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I brought him to the house the other night because Kevin had not seen him - and since then he's been making regular short visits just to snuggle. He's super sweet and LOVES being held. You can kind of see how small he is - he's very small, Chihuahua sized but it's so hard to see in all the pictures I have of him so far.

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I was having a rough morning today but after an hour snuggling this sweet baby it sure seemed a lot better! He's not a bottle baby, his mama is happily caring for him, but you wouldn't know he wasn't, he even loves the dogs already.

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We've been trying to walk every day, even if it's a short one. It's good for all of us. It's hard on me sometimes but I need it too and spending as much time with the animals as I can is healing in itself, and good for my spirit.

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Little (well not so little anymore!) Emerald is just a doll, she's such a sweetheart. I couldn't have asked for a sweeter baby.

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She sure loves her little dogs too! And her big ones... as soon as she goes back to the barnyard, she goes straight to the big dogs.

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The forest is just alive with all kinds of wildflowers. We need rain pretty badly though, now is the time for it, and it's quite dry... too dry.

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Spriggan actually walked a whole lot better on the leash once the little dogs joined us... I thought Emerald would be enough but he wasn't sure about it, but once the little dogs were there he walked much better on his lead. Sadly I only have pink collars right now and he's too small for a halter (any of mine) so he's stuck with pink at least for right now! He only wears it to learn to walk on lead of course, and actually he did quite wonderful for a first time.

I should be training Emerald on a lead now but she does so wonderful, she follows right along behind or beside me that I haven't bothered. Even when she is in the house at this size, or on our deck, she is so calm and well behaved it's quite surprising.

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Spriggan the adorable.

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Since it was warm enough to dry off outside the boys all had baths too, which they didn't really enjoy but needed pretty badly. It's almost time for their annual check ups and vaccines, we bring them all at once so it's quite an afternoon!

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They have been loving being able to sun themselves on the deck again, it's one of their favorite things.

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I also got to go for a ride on our trails with Kevin and Rollie, it's been ages since I've been out in the forest here, and we even got to the big creek which is quite far. I haven't seen the creek since fall. It felt amazing to be out, to see the forest waking up and coming back to life, and feel a little normalcy despite everything.

I've been trying to enjoy every minute I can that's good - and the moments that aren't, I focus on the good. I am blessed with such a great family, and it sure helps having the kinder weather returning, although the bugs are quickly waking up too! I keep hoping to get my seeds started but I haven't had the energy yet. The energy I do have I have been putting directly into just being with the animals and it's been 100% worth it even if I can't get anything else done! :)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend friends! 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Major spring catch up

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Well I started writing this post weeks ago. Actually, a month ago. These pictures are all from March and early April but I still wanted to share them before I move on to hopefully more recent events!

The whole month of April has really been a blur to me, at least the past 3 weeks. I became terribly ill again with this ongoing illness I've been battling since my surgeries - it's not endometriosis or related to the surgeries but it's an underlying condition we've not been able to pin down even though we have been trying. I go through flare ups, periods when things are just beyond terrible, and then times when everything feels like it's going to be just fine, so it's been confusing and obviously, frustrating.

But finally this time I became so ill, I ended up in the hospital for 6 days. It was not fun, and it was not a good experience. No one ever wants to stay in the hospital but I was not offered treatment quickly, I did not eat for 7 days, and it just wasn't a good experience. I had tests run and I was let out with a probable diagnosis and given no treatment, so I continued to be just as violently ill and in terrible pain. I was told it would take 1-2 weeks to get the biopsy results back and that we'd just have to wait. But because I was given nothing, the inflammation I had was just getting worse. We were thankfully finally able to find something and know it's likely Ulcerative colitis, but I'm still waiting to see the specialists and discuss this further in the coming weeks.

Thankfully a week after getting out of the hospital, I was able to see my nurse in New York State whom I've been seeing since November and while they were speaking with a GI Doctor to get me a referral, the Doctor told them to start me on prednisone to give me some relief as I wait for test results and appointments. So thankfully I started that almost a week ago, and have had some relief from it - not total, but for sure it's helping. Plus it just feels good to be moving forward instead of just being sick and waiting for someone to do something while I get worse. Since I have been out of the hospital, I have almost ended up back there 3 times so far.

It's still very touchy and I've got a way to go, but I'm much stronger and able to eat some things (sometimes) so that has helped a lot. I lost almost 10 pounds in the hospital just from not eating.

I'm very used to pain, but personally I've never been this sick on top of the pain, so it was a new experience for me. I thought I had faced a lot with my 7 surgeries and they were a handful but certainly this was much more trying and scary.

Also it was very difficult being in a mixed ward of people, some recovering from surgery, some dying. No privacy. I realized how spoiled I had been after my past two surgeries, I had nurses who came as soon as I called, I had my own room, it was quiet. People here were constantly screaming in agony or fear, crying, yelling. My senses were overloaded in the worst possible ways. And almost every night I had less than 1 hour of sleep, so I was a little crazy from the exhaustion. I felt terrible for everyone there, especially the people who would not be getting a chance to leave. It was heartbreaking.

So of course just being home has helped, in my own bed, with my animals, it's quiet, and I can manage my symptoms better than they were even being managed in the hospital. They were unable to control my migraine so I suffered for days with it, it was blinding and part of why I got so ill. It was caused by the initial pain meds they gave me but also from not eating anything, and being dehydrated, so at least at home I'm eating some but I'm also able to stop the migraine before it gets out of control, which didn't happen there.

So back to this post, I haven't been able to share all my pictures of my now healthy happy fat lambie, Emerald who was born unable to properly walk and with a smushed (slack) face... she almost died on me, but after I got her through that she has done nothing but flourish and she is happy and healthy! As are the other kids born in March.

In early April the sap ran and we were able to get a good store of maple syrup put up too, Kevin boiled for 5 days straight and we got a few really good batches of syrup.

The weather was slow changing but we've enjoyed the past few days some really warm temperatures with some periods of sunshine, lots of afternoon wind which is typical. But things are greening now, and the forest is waking up quickly. 

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It was very difficult when this little girl was ready to move to the barn after a month... 

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She was nothing but sweetness and snuggles...

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And every evening we cuddled in the recliner for hours. 

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And she'd pass out...

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It was a tough transition on both of us, but she did fine and once she started spending the days with the goat kids, she started to learn about eating hay and grain... and that maybe she wasn't a person after all... at least not totally :)

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My heart could not have been happier that we were able to get through the first couple of weeks of her life. This was a tough one and I'm still not totally sure how I managed it sometimes.

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But it was worth it. I have a beautiful healthy little girl.

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Who is sweet as pie. And of course once she moved up to the barn, Max took over and watched her for me when I wasn't there, as he does with all the bottle babies.

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He loves all the kids, but the bottle babies bond closely with him right away, they are used to dogs and someone just know he'll take care of them. The other kids when they first meet him are kind of surprised this wolf is supposed to be their protector! This years Pygmy buckling wasn't so sure about it when he first saw Max.

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There was a lot of excitement when the sap finally begun to run after so many weeks of nothing. We were getting kind of worried the run would either be super short, or the sap would be no good by the time it did run. Without the right conditions the sap will not be clear and the taste won't be good either, and that makes for bad tasting syrup.

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But we got good sap, and the guys worked hard. We also had some decent weather so it was extra nice working at the sugar shack.

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Syrup, almost ready!

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Our new sap tank worked really great in the mule for collecting the sap this year, much easier to transport with a lot less waste than the barrels we used to use.

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I wasn't able to help with the work, but I visited a few times and brought homemade cookies and food for the guys, and also did my part sitting by the fire, keeping "watch."

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The goats sure were glad when the sun finally came back. This year we've had so little sun it's been tough on everyone.

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The big dogs however LOVE the snow, so they were sad to see it go and would sleep on it even when there were only small spots of it left. They are happiest in the winter as they are made for it.

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Horace turned EIGHT years old!

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The little dogs were excited as the snow started to go away because finally they could smell stuff again, and Rollie could start chasing chipmunks, which is his favorite pass time.

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I enjoy the early spring nights, cool, but with that hint of warmness, that promise that things will start changing.

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We had our usual early April snows too. We finally got rid of the snow and then this would happen.

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But we knew it wouldn't stay and it was pretty wet snow that stuck to everything.

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In early April a few of our deer friends came back after being gone for weeks again. Not many returned but a few did, and they stayed for a week or so and then went off for the spring.

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When I went into the hospital it still looked like this.

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Douglas wasn't thrilled about it either, especially since it had finally just went away.

While I was in the hospital it rained a lot and when I got home the grass was turning green and the first wild flowers were just starting to blossom.

I was able to get out in the forest for a bit with Kevin a few days ago for the first time in months and it felt so good to be in the forest, to see her waking up, coming back to life. And today I went up to the barn for a bit, I had not been to the barn in three weeks at all, so you can imagine how good it felt just to see the animals and spend some time with them.

Now I'm back to resting, but I have plenty of new pictures and hopefully will be able to work on a new post now that I've caught up a bit.

This is an ongoing journey, but I'm just counting my blessings and hoping this leads to me finally being able to find a way to manage this, and get better, or live a much more functional life. If I get to the right Doctors and right treatments I feel confident I can finally have some relief and not just go around in circles, at least that's my hope, so I'm hopeful about this spring, and hopeful for the months ahead. 
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