Monday, April 21, 2014

The weekend

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Thank you all for your encouraging and loving comments and support. One of the reasons I shared the last post was because I thought it was important to because it was honest, although I hesitated and Kevin asked me why I wouldn't post it.. but it wasn't just for me, and to thank you all... It was also because I know a lot of you who read my blog, probably all of you, have some kind of challenge you are facing yourself. Being in chronic pain and dealing with this illness and often looking fine on the outside (when I'm not swollen up and have make up on! :) I have realized how many people I encounter in life and just take for granted that they are fine. That they are well. I've learned that things are not always what they seem. And of course a lot of people are not just battling illness, be it invisible or not, but a lot of people are battling serious things in their personal lives that cause great stress, or grief. We all have our burdens and I think I just wanted everyone to know I am not the type of person to always see things in the positive - but I am learning that we need to focus on the beauty of life as much as possible no matter what horrible thing we are dealing with - because the beauty keeps us moving forward and not standing still or crumbled up in a heap in the corner, if you get my drift. I'm working very hard to stay strong everyday, sometimes I'm great at it. Sometimes I'm not... but I'm always trying. And my message is that I want all of you to keep trying as well.

The weekend was pretty good, and I had some pretty good days overall. It was really nice to be outside and physically be able to do a little bit and also I have no doubt, the nice weather helps improve every one's spirits. Today I'm resting, and thought I'd take advantage of it to share some pictures.

On Saturday I managed a hike with the dogs - off trail. I have been walking lots but on trail. It wasn't too hard on me, but on the way home I came out to the trail to walk home just in case I couldn't make it, but I did. And when I got home I rested. I was exhausted and thought I'd never be able to stand up again but after a couple of hours of rest, I managed another short hike with Kevin! It was a great day. I felt like my old self being able to be in the forest, to walk. I was tired and I had some pain, but less than usual, and I could feel that although my body is struggling and has been through a lot, that strength is still in there. I was OK even when I went to bed that night and didn't take anything which was a mistake because neither of us slept all night. My body felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest after physical exercise it's not used to. It hurt! But once I got up and moving again I was able to get through the day.

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The goats are shedding like crazy and trying to rub off that extra fur. Puffin is the same size as Hickory - who was born in Feb of this year. I cannot believe she is a year old and the size of this years babies still!

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Everyone enjoyed some extra treats

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and Barnaby wished he could have a baby bottle too...

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The boys were so excited to get out on a hike...

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and Norman was the first across the creek!

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Douglas was the last one but finally figured out he could jump right over it...

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running free... Rollie is like a Beagle in the bush, nothing but nose and speed...

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The bad part is the ticks are out already...

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Thankfully all the dogs let me check them over for ticks, including Rollie. They go for their annual vaccinations and check ups at the beginning of May, and I'm going to vaccinate both the Chihuahua's for Lyme. Douglas got vaccinated this winter while we were dealing with his Lyme disease. It's a terrible disease for dogs, and people (for whom it's even harder to diagnose.) so we try to be as cautious as possible but while still living our lives, otherwise we'd have to stay inside the house and not ever step outside again.

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Kevin and I went out for a short hike with a specific mission but stopped to say hello to some friends at one of our ponds...

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There were two beavers swimming around but one of them came right over to get a good look at me...

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He wasn't the slightest bit worried about us, just curious...

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We went to one of the spots we know where there is quartz so I could bring some home for jewelry making.

You could not have asked for a more beautiful spring evening, there were Wild turkeys out, Partridge drumming, frogs singing, and no bugs! It was heavenly.

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This morning one of our does and her fawn were in the pond having a drink right outside our front porch...

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It feels so good to have them back. A lot of them have quite large scars on their sides and neck, one of the does has one from her neck almost all the way to her tail. They must have had a very rough winter.

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One of our girls has been working overtime producing an extra large egg for us. Kevin thinks she's eating all the feed and I think she's probably just showing off for the other girls.

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also, the Pussy Willows are out!

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This was our final maple syrup haul for this year (that's not bourbon and whiskey anymore) 4 gallons of the best syrup we've made, nice and dark. The sap this year had a higher sugar content than usual because of this very cold winter - it took a lot less time for it to turn to syrup than usual because of it and it's much richer. At least we have something good to show for surviving an unusually cold winter!

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I made a lemon meringue pie yesterday and a Prime rib roast with all the fixings for dinner. I was exhausted by 5 PM and in bed, but it was worth it and we have leftovers now, except for the pie... that's long gone.

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Beatrice (My Saanen doelings) buckling Wally has completely captured my heart, which I think he set out to do. Although I am not supposed to be keeping any more boys (over half my herd now is males and wethers!) he's too cute for words. I told him today to shoo after I held him and kissed him because I said I wasn't supposed to be falling in love with him... he came back and started rubbing his head on my boot... So I picked him up again and he licked me on the face and then started to fall asleep (almost instantly) with his head falling backwards in the air. Jim was laughing. Wally reminds me a lot of Sammy my heart goat that passed away in January. And not because of looks, but because of personality. Wally is not being bottle raised, and usually my kids are all friendly but he loves being held more than a bottle baby and today, he wanted to see Lavender's bottle so I jokingly let him see it and he started drinking instantly! It was the funniest thing. Even at almost 2 months Lavender needs help getting the nipple in her mouth, and Wally who has never had a bottle just started drinking away. He's a fluffy and fat little guy too. He looks like his mom, Beatrice, even the smile.

It is supposed to cool off again and we have rain coming. Jim is away for the night so I"m handling the chores tonight and in the morning myself. I can handle the animals fine since everyone puts themselves into their pens at night - I should video it some night to share... but I cannot carry water without causing trouble for myself, so we are going to fill everything up full tonight... it's nice we can do that now that everything isn't freezing. We are getting lots of frost in the morning but the water is fine. When we woke up extra early on Sunday morning the ground was so white it looks like it had snowed again!

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I have a Doctors appointment on Thursday which will tell me a lot about my options - hopefully. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thank you

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I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who reads the blog, takes the time to comment, or send me an email, and for all of your support over the past year in particular. It has meant the world to me. I have gotten behind in blogging in the past few months mostly because it's been cold and there hasn't been much to write about, but I also spend a great deal of time feeling miserable so inspiration hasn't come as easily. I miss blogging, and I've fallen behind in keeping up with a lot of your blogs although I do try to catch up. I'm trying to get back in the swing of things slowly. I apologize to anyone who has sent me a message that I have not replied to in a timely manner, I'm behind even in real life with things with my friends and family, its not personal, it's just a product of me being sick and having limited energy... with the limited energy I do have it goes to trying to keep the house from falling apart, trying to keep us fed properly, and trying to take care of all of my animals of which there are a lot. I've found even people closer in my life do not seem to realize that it takes a great deal of time and effort to care for so many animals - even when well, let alone when sick. My health still sucks. Since January I have spent 90% of all my time in bed and it's gotten worse instead of better. I had a good day where I had a lot less pain two days ago - I have been keeping a log for my Doctor and the last time I had a good day was 32 days ago. We know what is wrong mostly and I do need surgery again, and also a few other things - but Doctors appointments take a lot of time to get - I've been waiting for my next one for over a month, surgical appointments take months to get, so nothing happens quickly. It's a constant struggle. I have a lot of fatigue which hits quickly and when it does I can't function, my brain shuts off as well as my body, it's like someone turning a switch, I'm good, and then it's like turning a light switch off. I know some of you will understand what I mean by that. However, I am coping and some days I have a few good hours, and every month I have usually 3-4 days where I'm a little better, but it's completely unpredictable... so making plans is impossible. I have set dates for friends AND family to come over and cancelled about 20 times since the fall. 

My point is to say, my health is still not good and I'm trying to keep afloat. However, I don't want to talk about it in every blog post because it's not the only thing going on in my life. I also find when I post on FB pictures of my animals or cooking, people tend to think I must be better - because I don't constantly write about the awful stuff. That's just not me, on both the blog and other social media, sometimes I will mention things but not everyday, I am not going to go through every awful thing that happens during a day or a week, I'm going to try and focus on the good. When I have updates on things, I'll give them, but I can't only write about or post about the pain, the frustration, and the sadness I fight constantly. Life is more than that - and for anyone who is dealing with chronic illness of ANY kind, if we only dwell on negativity we will never heal and we will have no quality of life and nothing to look forward too. I know this because I've done it. I've felt that hopelessness that you will never find pain relief and that you will loose everything you love. It's not a place you want to be in your mind or heart, and it does no good. 

This has been a huge struggle for me in a lot of ways, physically it's difficult, but mentally and emotionally it's a constant battle to keep moving forward. Thankfully I have a lot of reasons I want to get better, and I have constant motivation every time I look in the eyes of any of my animals. 

Part of the reason I think I have felt less motivation to blog or to write is that mentally I've had too much fog caused by pain, fear, and also fatigue. But then I hear the frogs peeping at night, or am able to take a short walk in the forest, or cuddle with my goats, and I am reminded of what's truly important, and suddenly that fog lifts a little bit and I am much more inspired to focus on the good, and I am also much more inspired to share with all of you. I appreciate very much the friends I have made through blogging, and each of you who read. I love so much being able to share my life with you, my animals, the good things, and I also appreciate being able to open up to you about some of the bad. I don't like writing about only the happy things because it's not real, everything is not always rainbows and puppies, sometimes it's really painful, and really hard. And I think in order to share I need to be honest, because it's important. Life gives us many challenges and it's absolutely about how you handle them that defines you - not the challenge itself. 

I appreciate the spiritual and emotional growth I have gained from what I have been going through. I imagine if I had less pain and was more physically capable I'd appreciate it even more though! But I am hopeful in time that will come. Before my last surgery I was fighting a big battle but I was still capable of doing things, since surgery in July, I am still not doing all my animal chores, and some days (a lot of days) not able to do anything at all except feel miserable. That's been hard. Never in a million years did I think that would happen. I know the surgery helped but certainly not on the level we had hoped, and we know a couple of those reasons and hopefully if they get taken care of, I'll see real relief. It's a gamble because I may not see real relief, but I will not think about that because it's pointless. I am focusing on getting better - I may not ever be pain free but functional and in a lot less pain I will accept and I still have great faith I'll get there. It's just all about patience right now. 

All of this is to say, I wanted to be open and honest, and I appreciate all of your ongoing support, and kindness. But this isn't my focus, my focus is on healthy baby goats, the forest slowly but surely waking up from her long winters sleep, and bread that needs kneading. Life is full of beauty and blessings and while it's perfectly fine to let yourself acknowledge the negative things (like disease, illness, loss) we must be remember not to let ourselves live in that place. We have to be able to live in a space of hope, and beauty. It's what keeps us living, but also what gives us a reason to push through all of the difficult things. 

I'm wishing each of you a very beautiful weekend and Happy Easter full of beauty, blessings and love.

I'm off to bake some pies. Because pie is one of those things that reminds us to get through the difficult things  in life and focus on the good :)          

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oh it's spring?

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As usual, spring has decided to give us a little taste of all the seasons at once. It's been fun... mostly.

Today it's snowing, and the goats wanted nothing to do with heavy rain that turned into heavy wet snow, so they stayed inside where it was dry, and warm.

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Flavious however took full advantage of the mud... he loves it. At least this time it's not manure... he also loves that.

Things have been fairly busy here. Breakup brings lots of mud and makes it hard to get around the farm - it's not a good time for visitors, or a good time for us to have to leave the farm for any reason since most of our road is usually waist deep in mud or washed out. We were not sure if it was going to be much of a year for maple syrup, but although late compared to the past several years, the sap did run we started boiling right after my last post.

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This was the road to the sugar shack, and a perfect example of what I mean by "breakup" and not "driving the roads." Just a wee bit of a mess.

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We got a surprising amount of sap, and it ran really good for a while.

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The guys boiled for 5 or 6 days straight. It's a big and looong job. Although usually we stay in the sugar house boiling until midnight or later, Kevin quit by about 7:30 each night so he could get some rest. I wasn't as involved as usual this year because of my health, but it was Jim's first time ever making syrup and he was quite excited to be able to help and be a part of it.

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Bottling is a huge job... half of it got done in the sugar shack and then we moved the operation to the house, to our sun porch, where Kevin and I finished it the other day. We got 4 gallons of syrup which for us, is plenty. We could have got a lot more, but we do this for fun, so when the exhaustion kicks in or other projects need to be done, it's time to stop. The syrup this year is the best we've ever made - we've made lots of good syrup before but this is the darkest richest syrup we have made, and the maple flavor is nice and deep.

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Once the syrup was finished it was time to get out and seed our hay fields before all the snow went - it's best to seed them when it's still wet in the spring. We bought a little seeder for the ATV and we seeded about 15 acres... our fields are small pioneer fields that were cut out of the forest, all spread out over our acreage... a few of the best ones we cannot reach since with our machinery - they were build for horses and still only accessible by them, or by foot. They haven't been used since 1952 for hay until we cut them last year. A couple of them already have a lot of timothy in them but they need to be thickened up, which takes time... we are hoping at least some of the seed will take though and give us a little more bulk this summer.

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The absolute best news that I have is that the deer have come back! Never in the past decade have we spent a winter without our deer friends until this one. The heavy snow, ice, and cold temperatures caused the deer to all yard up together after Christmas, mostly for protection against the predators... we haven't even seen a deer or deer track since then. Not on our property, but also not in this area at all. A few days ago Kevin spotted some tracks nearby and within a day the deer started to show up, Deer Norman, our buck, included. It was a huge relief to see them, and know they are OK. They won't stay long now since they always move on in the spring, but we are enjoying having them around daily now again. We missed them terribly. It's been such a long and strange winter here with my health, Kevin's health, the deer being gone, and such long lasting bitter cold... We, like a lot of you, sure are glad to be on the backside of it.

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My bottle baby Lavender is doing great, and growing like a weed!

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It's hard to believe she's only just over a month old, she's double the size of the other kids!

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And cute little smiling Wally is doing great...

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All of this years kids are doing really well. I cannot believe I ended up with FIVE boys this year and only one girl, but I expected as much since most of my does give me opposites every year, but still - that's a lot of boys! Hopefully later in the spring or early summer I'll be able to find all of them really good homes. This guy, little Hickory is so precious, he loves to snuggle.

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The dogs are missing the snow but adjusting. Horace, my Black Welsh wether thinks he has special control over them, seeing they drop at his feet whenever he walks by... ;)

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The turkeys have been very busy strutting their stuff... showing off for the girls... and everyone else too...

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And we had all been enjoying the warmer weather, until today. On the weekend I even got to sit outside and work on some jewelry for a while... the boys were so happy to be out on the porch again.

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I've managed some short hikes...

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Which I have enjoyed immensely... I look forward to being strong enough to take four or five hour hikes again like we used to but it feels so good to be able to get out and about a little bit.

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Kevin made an amazing find the other day! Just behind our sugar shack, in one of our hay fields he found a Timberdoodle, AKA Woodcock, sitting on her nest! She jumped up and flew in front of him and he saw there was one freshly laid egg in there. It's incredible. They are my favorite birds, along with the Whip-poor-Wills... it's amazing how much their feathers look like leaf litter and the ground, they blend so well..which they have to, it's hard to believe they just lay their nests out in an open field on the ground. I have been waiting patiently for the male who lives at the creek outside our bedroom to come back, in the spring evenings he calls (meeps) for the ladies and I love listening to him. These guys are really difficult to spot, so I was so excited we were able to find this girl actually sitting on her nest. In about 20 days she might have new babies too.

It's cold this evening and we are all tucked in by the fire just waiting for this to pass. I took advantage of the cold and made a huge pot of soup and the wood stove is roaring away.

I'm glad April is here... even if she is pretty moody :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Welcome Wally!

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Yesterday, April fools day, also my Papa's (Grandfathers) Birthday, Beatrice, my last pregnant doe delivered this adorable little boy into the world!

I had a rough night, I was up crying most of it, and then in the morning, the cutest, happiest, healthiest, little guy was there, and it just made everything better. Look at that face - I mean, seriously!!

He's so sweet, so gentle, so round. He's quite small too - although you can't tell from that picture. Beatrice is a Saanen but all my girls were bred to my Pygmy buck. This little guy, whom I named Wally, after my Papa, is short and squat, like a Pygmy. His black nose is adorable too. I'm in love. I know, I'm in love with all of them, but he's a real cutie.

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AND he's a snuggler! Which makes him even cuter. He loves a cuddle, and lets you smother him with kisses in between his naps.

Beatrice is such a great mom too.

We've had a weird few days here. The sap did start to run. On Tuesday we had a pretty good day around here, the sap started to run, the sun came out, and I felt fairly good even. I had a productive day, but still did not over do.

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The dogs and I even got to sit out in the sun for a bit and just soak it up... it was heavenly. It felt so good. Don't let this picture deceive you - we are 14 feet up on the deck and it's been shoveled, all our snow is still here! But it felt so good, and it felt like... spring for the first time yet. The dog were so happy to be out on the deck. 

Since then, I've had a rough couple of days unexpectedly but I'm getting through. Thank you all so much for your comments on my last post and just your support, it means a lot to me. Someone asked me whether I had considered or believed in holistic means and also Essential oils - I couldn't write back to you because your email wasn't listed but I wanted to mention here that yes I do believe and use both. :)

Lately since my whole routine is still off, I have mostly been taking pictures with my phone which I carry with me in case I get in trouble and need someone to come get me, if I am alone at the barn or wherever. I post a lot on Instagram but I realize not all of you see those pictures, so I thought I'd share some here from the last few days. I miss my camera though, and I have been starting to carry it more often, at least when I am more in routine, which I hope becomes more often than not sometime soon!

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Here's me and Braveheart, my blind ram last week. He's still my baby, even though he is 250 pounds now. 

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There are few things in this world that can compare to that kind of love... maybe nothing can compare actually... 

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Little Lavender my bottle baby is growing like a weed!

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She's a real character too! She's a real cutie. That's Puffin beside her, almost a year old! And the Pygmy babies from this year are the same size as her! She has grown out, but not up at all. She's so adorable.

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A couple of days ago, Jim helped me clean the chicken coop out, which made me feel very good. It was warm out, although grey, and the girls had fun outside while they got a full house cleaning. 

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I got in a short walk with the boys too, which they loved - minus the wet feet.

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As you can see, we still have a lot of snow. We have had snow into April before but this is certainly some of the most we've had in recent times. If you go anywhere we have never shoveled or plowed, like in a field or the bush, you'll still sink up to your waist.

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We are all anxiously awaiting it's departure. Except for Max. He loves it.

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This years Pygmy boys are growing up, and more adorable all the time. Look at the red mustache :)

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I started just briefly on spring nail trims and Noel, one of my Mini Rex was up first this morning and she was not pleased about it either... 

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Yukon, one of bottle babies, was all for it though. A while ago when I was up to the barn after a time away because of my health, he felt the need to completely spray me with pee to mark me. He has never done that in 5 years and I've had a lot of rabbits too and only had that done once before. Now that he sees me everyday, he's much happier and marking me by rubbing me with his head instead of spraying pee all over me, which is nicer for me, I'll admit.

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I managed to get some Hot Cross buns made the other day too, something I've been craving for a while. I love them toasted and smothered in butter - and hot out of the oven works too!

Yesterday I drug myself to the barn to milk and then spent the entire day in bed. Today was a little better. I managed to get my milking done and also some chores with Jim's help, and I also managed to get a big tray of cabbage rolls made and into the oven before taking some time out to rest.

On days of the year that I remember my loved ones, well I remember them everyday, but certain days in particular, I honor them, I do so by making something they just loved to eat. My Papa loved pierogi, but he also loved cabbage rolls. In a few more days, on the 9th, I'll make one of my mothers favorite things, funnel cakes. I do this every year as a happy way of remembering them through smells, and tastes, and also it's something that made them happy, and thus, me. 

Kevin and Jim have managed to collect about 100 gallons of sap so tomorrow they will likely start a boil. It's going to be a super short run, and we are hoping for a gallon or two. More would be great but it seems unlikely - we'll be happy with anything at this point. The birds have all returned, the Goose has claimed our still frozen pond, I saw 6 Great Blue Heron's fly over yesterday and the Red Winged blackbirds are in the yard. So spring is here, even if it doesn't really look like it yet. :)
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