Friday, December 26, 2008

Spring Valley Farms

Spring Valley Farm is the name given this property by my Grandfather, Lester, when he bought the property in 1948 (the year my mother was born). The oldest deed we have on file is 1829. The property is roughly 300 acres and is comprised of three different farms that my Grandpa pulled together over the years - Lynne Farm, McLaughlin Place, and Price Place.

My Grandpa and Grandma moved to Spring Valley Farm on January 1, 1970 in the middle of a snowstorm. They raised my mother and her older sister as well as many troubled foster children, adopting 3 (two boys and a girl) over the years. My uncle Jimmy, who is closest to me in age, became a best friend.

Today, my Grandmother manages the gardens, orchard, animals and the main home on the land. My uncle Jimmy lives with his family on the property in a home he's built with his own hands and takes care of the property (equipment, land etc.) while working a full time job .

Currently the animal count is down from it's height, but so is the labor. :-) Today we have 5 horses, ~40 cattle (10 calves in the last week), ~20 sheep, 2 peacocks, 1 chicken (Raccoons have wreaked havoc on our chickens), 1 goose, 1 duck, 1 pig (just butchered, man that's good bacon!) 7 dogs, ~10 barn cats, 3 house cats, and a flock of wild birds that visit to feed (Blue Jays, Cardinals, Humming birds, Chickadees, Gold Finches, Meadow Larks, Crows, Red Tail Hawks, Cooper Hawks, Kestrels, Woodpeckers, Blue birds, Great blue heron, little blue heron, red wing black birds, starlings, grackles, Baltimore Orioles, kildeer, Canadian geese, mallard ducks, wild turkeys - and many more)
Working the farm is such a joy. There are daily chores and an endless list of "todo's" that keep my ADD to a minimum. We are currently in calving season (10 born in the last 10 days - sadly, one just froze to death) and February is lambing season. The timing is based on weather and the fair dates as we take both steer and lambs to the fair for show as well as to the market for sale.

Next week we shear the sheep in preparation for the birth of their lambs...stay tuned!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Taking Care of Grandma

So, its been a while. I promise to fill in the gaps and post photos as soon as some of the dust settles.

The dust storm:
I have moved to my family farm in Barnesville Ohio to care for my grandmother. Just about five years ago she had her left knee totally replaced, followed by her right knee two years ago. However, her first surgery had always been a bit off, her knee always hurt her but she's too tough to complain about it.

Well, she finally had enough and checked in with the doctor and they agreed that something was wrong and it needed attention. We scheduled the surgery on December 3rd so that I could be here with her (I am the only child/grandchild without a wife, kids, or mortgage). Turns out that she had a major infection in the bone of her leg due to the original surgery...that she would require three months of antibiotic treatment followed by another total knee replacement.

Now the fun starts...medicare! My grandmother qualifies for home health care by a trained nurse because she is not allowed to put any weight on her knee for the next three months...she has NO knee right now...only staples (see pic).

However, our friends at medicare do not cover the required antibiotics if they are administered by the Home Health nurse. But, get this, if she is an outpatient then the drugs are covered by medicare. Which means that for 6 weeks I am loading my grandmother into a vehicle, transporting her to the local hospital 15 miles away for a 4 hour IV drip of antibiotics, then loading her back in the car and home. Odd, that the very thing that the doctors who did the surgery asked us NOT to do is the only option we were given by medicare.

Moving my grandmother greatly upsets her body, she gets nauseous and needs nausea medicine to make the car ride bearable. She is not allowed (by doc's orders) to put any weight on the leg, but to get up out of her bed, into a wheel chair, then out of the wheel chair into the car...and on and on till we are back in her bed at home again breaks that rule! Medicare sucks...much worse than you could imagine.

But you should know that she is healing, her spirits are as high as they could be, she is surrounded and cared for by family and when this is all over she will be managing the farm again just as she has for the last 4o years.

I would like to offer thanks to the creator and cosmos for putting me in a position to help. I am personally feeling powerful and bright while with my grandmother. Learning things about my family and my grandfather that I might not have otherwise learned. I am also getting a chance to relearn my animal husbandry and farming skills, not to mention all the baking and cooking that I am now doing.

It's quite a good feeling to be helping with want of nothing in return. One of my favorite bands of the time, Midlake has a song called "Home" and in it is a line that rings quite true for me right now:

"Give me a day full of honest work and a roof that never leaks and I'll be satisfied"

I am satisfied.