Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Manifesto

Ok, so I'm a little late. What else is new? I saw this idea yesterday and I've been pondering it since. Writing my intentions for summer fun is really difficult for me, mostly because my children are grown - not that they don't thoroughly enjoy doing things together now, but because as a homeschool mom, one of the joys of my life was planning fun things to do with (little) kids. Now I'm beginning to realize... I'm tired. Planning events for the pure joy of watching the glee on my kids' faces has lost some of its appeal now that they're in their late teens and older. The beach doesn't hold the excitement it once did. Unearthing long lost broken seashells searching together for the perfect sandollar or walking miles to find an exquisite Scotch bonnet is no longer appealing. I'm afraid the years of blowing bubbles in the wind, flying kites, bicycle parades, lemonade stands, and slip n slides have passed (at least until GRANDKIDS!)  I'm afraid I'm beginning to confuse summer fun with work accomplished around the farm. I'm exchanging a day on the beach for the building of a turkey coop - a day on the river for a round pen to train horses. I'm afraid I'm getting old. HMMM... FORGET THAT NONSENSE!
So even though I'm a little late (actually, SUMMER only officially began 10 days ago - though in Florida it feels more like summer is waning - these past unusually cool mornings have a hint of fall in them! Ha! Wishful thinking!)  Wait, wasn't I talking of a SUMMER manifesto?! Let's get back on track!
Here it is. My plan for enjoying this summer. My intent not to let the summer of 2012 pass without fanfare and glory. Here's what I purpose do this summer....  (Some things I already have)


* Pick strawberries
 * Go to the beach more than once!
* Take the kids out for ice cream
* Make smoothies
* Try 3 new recipes
* Pick blueberries

* Make salsa

* Have a glass of wine by the fire
* Reclaim the scraproom
* Snorkel
* Enter the watermelon eating contest on July 4th
* Plan a neighborhood BBQ in the park
* Make jam(s)

* Ride more
* Go to the Fourth of July parade and watch the fireworks
* Read my camera manual again
* Start fall seeds on time
* Lay in the yard and look at the stars
* Eat corn on the cob
* Make frozen yogurt / ice cream
* Make soap
* Start walking again
* Go to Morrison Springs
* Enjoy the swimming pool
* Live with purpose

What will you do this summer?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Whew, what a week!
Last Wednesday my 19 year old son, Levi, called me complaining of a heaviness in his chest and difficulty breathing. I assumed it was a "stitch" and that it would soon pass, but I called my husband nonetheless and asked him to leave work to go check on him. He seemed to be alright - his color was good and pulse was normal, he was just not breathing well.  My daughter, who is an RN, had been away for 2 weeks and was just finishing her first day back at work, and she, also, went to see Levi. When she listened to his breathing, everything sounded normal on his left side, but on the right side she noticed that the lung sounds were absent.  While in nursing school she remembered two cases of lung problems with young, tall, slim men, and she made the decision to take her brother to the ER.
Initially, his condition wasn't taken very seriously at the hospital. He was assessed on a score of 1 to 5, 1 being dead, and 5 indicative of,  "There's nothing wrong with you - go home," Levi was gauged a 4. As he was waiting to bee seen by a doctor, the woman ahead of him was called in and she said to the nurse, " I'm only here for my foot - this boy can't breathe. Shouldn't he go in before me?" The attending flippantly replied, "He's been assessed and we're taking care of our patients in order of necessity. It's your turn to be seen now."
I'm sure the trauma nurses had no idea how serious my son's condition was. It became apparent that they began to take him seriously once the X-ray was read.  Immediately the demeanor of the staff changed entirely, and Levi was rushed into an available bed - STAT - and prepared for the insertion of a chest tube. His right lung had completely collapsed! Suddenly his assessment level rose from a 4 to a 2!

 We've since learned that my son's condition is called Collapsed Lung or Spontaneous Pneumothorax. Though this occurs more often due to car accidents, gunshot and stabbing wounds and lung diseases such as emphysema or severe asthma, what triggered the collapse of Levi's lung without any history of smoking or lung disease, were things called blebs - air filled sacs that look like blisters or bubbles, which develop on the lungs. It is typically found in tall, thin males between the ages of 20 and 40. When these blisters rupture it causes the lung to collapse.

A chest tube was inserted into his lung for reinflation.

I stayed with him Wed night until he was settled in his room and ready to sleep.

On Thursday I went riding and chose a route that was way too long!

 It was a hot day - not too humid with a nice breeze, but Lucy began stopping randomly along the road and seemed to be breathing hard so we gave her time to rest. She has never done that before so it was a little unnerving. Many years ago I watched a horse die of heat exhaustion and it's something I've never forgotten.  The ride ended up being 4 hours long and I still had work to do! I needed to clean and prepare for company. Long time friends were stopping by on their way to south Florida to spend a day with us. They arrived that evening.

Friday morning I was up at 4 to milk and get the chores done so we could have some fun. After breakfast we started the day picking blueberries and then loaded two canoes for a trip down river to the springs

                                                and rope swings.

After a few hours we went back to the farm to change and drive into town for a bite to eat and to watch the sunset on the beach,

unaware that Tropical Storm Debby was brewing in the gulf.

From the beach we went to the house in town to shower and change before stopping in to visit Levi in the hospital.  While at the house I happened to go into the garage and saw that the hot water heater was leaking all over the floor - something that would have to wait until tomorrow.  Levi was doing well and our guests were able to visit a little while before we drove back to the farm and called it a day!  We said our goodbyes to our friends before bed - we had to be in town early the next morning and they would be on their way to Tampa shortly thereafter. Such a nice visit, though way too short!

Saturday morning we were up and out of the house by 6:00. Joel was packed and ready for Ranger Camp. We met the rest of campers at the Scout hut. They'll be gone to Georgia camping, hiking, rock climbing and rappelling for a week.

After sending the scouts on their way I had Bob drop me at the hospital while he replaced the hot water tank. Sometimes minor inconveniences happen for a reason. Our original plan for the day, after dropping Joel off in town, was to make two hay runs: one for the goats and another for the horses.  Had the hot water tank not sprung a leak I would not have been at the hospital when the decision was made to take Levi in for surgery, do a Bronchoscopy (send a scope into his lungs), staple blebs and repair the hole in his lung that they had hoped would close on its own, which is what they did.

Bob did the home repairs, came and listened to the surgeon explain the procedure and then left to make a hay run so I could stay with our son. Tropical Storm Debby was building so Bob was dodging rain storms along the way (which is typical whenever we go for hay anyway). By the time he returned it was late, surgery was long over and Levi was just beginning to come out of the anesthesia. Poor kid - he really hates the drugged feeling! AND the oxygen tubes under his nose!

Tropical Storm Debby hit Sunday morning. Bob had to work and I raced the storm to get a roll of hay for the horses.  I love rain and enjoyed two days of dark, dreary weather. We got 4 inches on the farm which was much needed.

Tuesday (yesterday) I drove to town, Levi's chest tube was removed, an x ray was taken and he was discharged by noon. Oh happy day! He's home resting comfortably now and I'm back at the farm playing catch up.

This has been quite a week! Never a dull moment!
I'm just thankful that God is in control of ALL of them!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What To Do BEFORE the Power Goes Out

I'm writing this as the Gulf Coast is getting hit by Tropical Storm Debby. I'm about 40 miles inland and we're getting plenty of rain and some gusty winds, but nothing serious. I have noticed Facebook posts about flickering lights and the concern of power loss, and I've seen predictions that this storm may linger over us for the next two or three days, so it occurred to me that once the power goes out there's no accessing information on the web, so here are some things you can do now to be prepared in case your power goes out.

*  Have drinking water available
*  Fill your bathtub with water. This can be used for drinking, washing and flushing the toilets. Be careful if you have small children - lock the bathroom door for safety.
*  Freeze gallons of water before losing power to place in the refrigerator when the power goes out. This will keep the temperature colder and also give you additional drinking water as the ice melts.
*  Turn your fridge and freezer to the lowest setting to help your food last longer. If the power goes out, keep freezer doors closed as much as possible.
*  Charge your cell phones now! Have a car charger handy to recharge your phone any time you drive.
*  Have a supply of canned and dried instant food that doesn't necessarily need to be heated.  Some ideas are:
        canned tuna, chicken, beef
        canned fruits and vegetables
        dried fruits
        whole grain crackers
        peanut butter
        granola bars
        canned soup and chili
        juice - single serving juice boxes don't need to be refrigerated and can be stored easily

*  Make sure you have a manual can opener handy.
* Have coolers available. Use ice and frozen water jugs to keep food cold. When power goes out eat the perishable food first.
*  Gather and place supplies in an area easy to find if the lights go out and you're in the dark.
*  Include disposable utensils, paper plates, bowls and cups in your supplies.
*  Know how to override your electric garage door.

* Some other handy items to have are:
    FLASHLIGHTS / battery powered lanterns 
    *You can make an luminescent lamp by placing a headlamp around a opaque gallon jug of water
    Battery operated radio and BATTERIES!
    Matches or a lighter
    camping stove or grill (not to be used indoors)
    non electronic games - board games and cards

If you lose power, unplug elecrical equipment and disconnect appliances (stove) and anything you were using when the power went out. When power is restored an electrical surge could damage your equipment if it is still plugged in.
Leave one light on so you'll know when the power comes back on.
Remember your neighbors - check on the elderly, chlderen who may be home alone when the power went out, those with disabilities etc


PS - As I was writing this post guess what? I lost power. When the lights came back on a few minutes later I postponed the blog to turn on NOAA weather radio and to place flashlights on the kitchen table where I can find them if I need to. Once I post this, I'll finish gathering supplies and placing them in a convenient spot.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flying Blueberry Riding Soap

There is nothing like company coming to put me in a panic and make me re-evaluate my entire life and the way I do things, and I've recently realized that I can't continue to live in this state of CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome!)  In my panic the other day I had a bit of a meltdown and then a pity party while I was milking the goats and considered the possibility of selling all of them. I was feeling sorry for myself and frustrated at the fact that by the time I finish all the milking chores: feeding, milking 13 goats, staving off a menagerie of chickens  with my squirt bottle who continuously harass me, attempting to get to the grain I feed the goats while milking, straining and chilling the milk... it is usually about 11 am and already too hot to want to do much outside. I was bemoaning the fact that I was stuck in the milking stall during the coolest, lovliest part of the day and I was resenting it. Then it occurred to me - why not get the milking done earlier, so I can enjoy the mornings?
Typically I wake Bob at 5:30 and he leaves for work by 6:30.  It's usually another hour before I begin farm chores. For the past two days, however, I've started milking at 4 am,  back in the house by 5:30 and straining milk and making cheese while my husband has his morning coffee. By the time he leaves for work, only a few farm chores remain and it's still cool enough outside do get some other things done comfortably - raking, shoveling, moving, mowing..  The best part is, it's still early and there's time to work with the horses before the heat rises! AND, the chickens are still in their roosts the entire time I'm milking. No more harassment!

Yesterday I was tacked up and riding out the gate by 8:30! WOO HOO!

The other thing I've begun doing recently to get back on track is FLYING! No, not in a plane or hanglider, but I've begun trying to get my house in order following Fly Lady's advice. You can learn more about her approach HERE.  I've done this before and I pretty much pick and choose from her ideas, but one of the tactics she uses that I love is the 15 minure approach.  Set your timer for 15 minutes and attack an area of the house - ie piles of clothes, dirty dishes, stacks of magazines, clutter in general. When the timer goes off, you're done.  Another rule of cleaning/organization is to never pull out more than you can put away in an hour.  Wise advice for those of us who attack zealously and then become overwhelmed or run out of steam (motivation). I do better in short bursts.

After riding and flying yesterday I went to make goat's milk soap with a friend. I'll be teaching the procedure step by step in a future blog.

Darby's soap is absolutely beautiful, and it smells heavenly!  I can hardly wait to begin making soap myself. (I'm waiting on a supply order right now)

Finally, to end this wonderful day just right I went blueberry picking with my friend, neighbor and riding partner, Kira.

We had picked probably 40 bushes before I took this picture. It was the last bush in the orchard, and loaded with fruit!
Stay tuned for a wonderful blueberry jam recipe! (and yes, Sarah, blueberry cobbler too!)

 I daresay I'm a little tired, but once my body adjusts to this new time schedule I think it's gonna be a winner!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Beyond Balut

A while back my husband ran into a man who was looking for an incubator capable of holding 200-500 eggs.  He was wanting to make Balut eggs. Bob told him that we had an incubator and that we would be willing to incubate eggs for him until he bought his own.

  Balut eggs are a delicacy in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines and are typically duck eggs. We don't have ducks but we were told that chicken eggs are also acceptable. Balut are fertilized eggs that are incubated for 17-21 days, depending on the culture. In the Orient the eggs are warmed in the sun and kept in baskets or sand to retain the heat during the night for incubation. This nearly developed duck embryo is then boiled and eaten like a hard boiled egg, with salt. At 17 days the bones have not hardened and the beak is not developed. At 21 days the embryo tends to be a bit crunchier but will soften when boiled. Duck eggs hatch at 28 - 30 days while chicken eggs hatch at day 21. There's where part of our problem began.

  Our first batch was a total of about 40 eggs - just for a trial run.  Half we spread out, like we would if we were incubating chickens, and the other half we stacked. We have a forced-air incubator and were told that stacking the eggs would not be a problem, and that it was unnecessary to turn them. If we were incubating eggs to hatch chicks I would either use a rocker or I would roll the eggs daily by hand. This allows the embryo to receive enough oxygen.  We had a 70 percent success rate, which is rather good because we did not candle the eggs to ensure they were all fertile to begin with. We found that it didn't matter whether the eggs were laid out in a single layer or stacked.

For the second batch we just loaded one of the bins of the incubator with eggs and marked the time for 15 days.

Three days before the eggs were due to Balut, I heard a sound as I passed by the incubator that was oh, too familiar. I ignored it. I mentioned it to Bob that night. He went out and had to dig down into the egg pile to rescue these:

While he was at it he spread the eggs out in the tray.

Now there are two theories: The first, which I was quite convinced was the truth, was that we have friends with young children who come to visit the farm periodically. Their favorite thing to do is to gather eggs, so I let the eggs collect for a day before they arrive.  Upon consideration I realize that I take it for granted that I know where the few hens are that are sitting clutches of eggs and are at different stages of hatching. I also know where the "neglected" eggs are - the ones I sometimes ignore because they've been there awhile and I just don't feel like reaching in to get them - the old "If I pretend it's not there maybe it will go away" theory.  I don't consider that a setting hen may be off her nest when the children gather the eggs or that they may happen upon a foul group of eggs carefully buried in the compost pile and collect them with gleeful exuberance, assuming they have uncovered a well hidden nest. This has happened in the past!
My thought is that these partially cooked eggs made their way into our Balut basket and miraculously hatched! Remember - I hadn't turned these eggs at all! (and, if the truth were to be known, I wasn't as diligent as I could have been to be sure the humidity was correct - I may have let all the water evaporate from the pan once or twice)  The fact is, I'm not so gung ho about the idea of Balut eggs anyway. To me it's pretty repulsive, like raw oysters and brussel sprouts, but I understand that it is a cultural thing, and another way to sell our eggs.

The second theory that occurred to me today was that perhaps I had my days wrong.  I remember specifically that the eggs would be finished on the 15th of the month. I even wrote the date on a piece of paper and put it in the incubator with the eggs. But now, I can't help but wonder if I confused the 15th of the month with the fact that the eggs should stay in the heat for 15 days?
Today the incubator looked like THIS...

We transfered all 30 chicks into the brooder...

Sheepishly, I just now went to check the date on the paper and I accept all the blame. The date? June 9th. Oops.  But on another note, I learned that turning eggs is not as critical as I once thought - nor is humidity.

I also learned that an overripe egg will spontaneously detonate when removed from a 100 degree incubator into cooler air. And baby, you don't want to be there when it does!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

National Weed Your Garden Day

Can you believe it? It's true. Today is National Weed Your Garden Day, and it couldn't have come at a better time! In the north I know that your gardens are just starting to kick in and it's probably not so bad, but here, down south, we're getting to the end of many plants' ability to withstand heat, and the weeds are starting to take over - I'm afraid I'm the worst about weeding. I love to start seedlings, till, plant, and water,  but when it comes time to harvest and weed, I fall short. Thankfully, I love a challenge, and today is the day! 

This is what some of my boxes look like right now:

Actually, it's not all that bad.  Yesterday I started clearing one of the beds - a premonition perhaps? and I planted 4 pitiful hot pepper plants.

and the rest of the gardenhouse looks like this right now

So now, thanks to National Weed Your Garden Day, I'm off to do just that.  I may even get a few plants in the ground too!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lately At The Homestead We've Been...

Blueberry Picking

Recently we've become friends with our neighbor who invited us to pick blueberries. He has a wealth of knowledge about beekeeping, gardening and holistic medicine, and currently he is helping Joel learn to grow herbs using aquaponics.

Making blueberry jam

Visiting Buttercup

We're having to buy a roll of hay for the horses every 8 days, so we stop and say hi to Buttercup while we're there. Still no definitive on whether or not she's bred.

Finishing the Gardenhouse

There are 8 square foot boxes inside as well as potted tomatoes. I'll use this gardenhouse primarily for taller, climbing plants; pole beans, cucumbers, snow peas, tomatoes, spaghetti squash... the shorter gardenhouse will be for lettuces, cabbages, onions, garlic, spinach, peppers, squash, bush beans, radishes... and I think I'll use large pots for carrots and potatoes.  We've been saving coffee grounds for a worm bed too.

Soaking Feet

Dixie's abscess has flared up again despite having her hooves trimmed every 5 weeks.  We've started soaking in epsom salts twice a day for 30 minutes and right now I'm waiting on a call back from the vet to see about antibiotics.


And finally, for the first time in probably two months (shameful!) I went riding. In the rain. And had a blast! My butt still hurts! (Which means I must ride MORE!)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Zucchini Tots

I'm STILL working through the buckets of zucchini and I imagine you are too if you garden.  Tonight I tried a new recipe  - Zucchini Tots. I didn't make enough.

This recipe makes one mini muffin tin so be sure to double-triple-or more it.

1 cup grated zucchini
1 egg
1/4 onion minced
1/4 cup cheese - (I used cheddar but next time I'll try pepper jack for a little zing)
1/4 cup bread crumbs - I used Italian

* Preheat oven to 400 degrees
* Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick spray
* Grate zucchini and blot dry with paper towels
* Combine egg, onion, cheese, bread crumbs and zucchini
* Spoon into muffin tins
* Bake 15-18 minutes until brown and set

A few more loaves of zucchini bread and I will have finished these,

but yesterday we went to get a roll of hay and visited with Buttercup and the Beauchamps for a bit and came home with this blessing...

I foresee more squash recipes in the near future.
What's your favorite way to cook squash?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Guineas, Chicks and Lock-Ins

I feel like I'm caught up in a whirlwind!  A few nights ago our Boy Scout troop had their quarterly Court of Honor.  That's when each scout is recognized for their accomplishments for the past several months; they're awarded merit badges for the work they've completed and rank advancement as they climb the proficiency ladder towards earning the highest honor of Eagle Scout (of which only 3 percent of all boys involved in scouting ever achieve). The ceremony is always a fun family night as the young men are honored - we've become a close knit group of families with our troop, some of us having been involved for as many as seven years. After the awards ceremony we enjoy food and fellowship, so before driving into town I had to make Friendship Bread - it was long overdue - thankfully the starter is quite forgiving. You're supposed to make the bread on Day 10 and I think I was pushing 14! While I was at it I made two loaves of Zucchini Bread as well.

There are 12 precepts in the Scout Law:
A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.  We understand that there is an unwritten 13th rule: A Scout is Hungry!

                                             And sometimes pretty silly!

This was also the last day of school for the year so a Lock-In was planned at the Scout hut following the Court of Honor to celebrate. Bob volunteered to chaperone overnight so after the ceremony I was on my own.
Earlier that day, besides making bread, on my way out to milk I was greeted by a multitude of chickens and a brand new Mama Chickie with 16 baby chicks!  I had Joel catch 13 peeps and bring them inside for safe keeping.  Too many chicks and the mama can't protect them. In our area there are many hawks, foxes, feral cats, possums and other predators that would eat baby chicks in a heartbeat.  My hope is to raise these hens and hopefully re-ignight the setting instinct in my chickens.

And then there are these - 13 brand new guinea keets.

Both of which are in the house right now and stink to high Heaven and their bedding has to be changed every day!  But they are darlin' aren't they?!

I'm finding myself so exhausted these days and I'm caught in a Catch 22: We're working hard getting many needed projects done, but we're so tired that we're not enjoying the farm. We'll never be as young and strong as we are today, so I feel a push to get the work done while we're able and get the farm set up and working the way we'd like.  These are some of the plans we'd like to see accomplished:

* Hydroponics system in the greenhouse using our tilapia tank
* Grey water system to water the "downstairs orchard"
* Finish the horse paddock and round pen
* Clean out and organize the three barns and semi to use the space more efficiently
* Year round gardening
* Hydroelectric system - power production to help become more self sufficient using the creek.
* Sheltered workspace and other maintenance and building projects: Honey House, Reloading Room, Outside Kitchen
...and on and on and on.

And then of course there's the daily maintenance
* watering
* keeping fences tight
* mowing orchards
* honey bee upkeep
* feeding, watering and milking of livestock
....and on and on and on.

There has to be balance. There's no sense working every spare minute and not taking time to enjoy what we have, so here's what we've decided - it's time to get Back To the Basics.
 “On the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made”  (Genesis 2:2-3)
So from Friday night until Saturday night - (...and there was evening, and there was morning - the seventh day,") we will rest. We will relax, we will do our necessary chores ie feeding, milking, watering ..., but we will take some time to enjoy THE HOMESTEAD LIFE.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God”  (Exodus 20:8-10)

Maybe now I'll get to enjoy Lucy and Dixie!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent - The Results Are In!

Back in March my friend Mary taught me how to make homemade laundry soap. I documented the process in THIS  blog post. She sent me home with a 5 gallon bucket of the liquid detergent, and yesterday I did my last load of wash with it. Here are my findings.

Using twice the amount I would typically use with store bought detergent I washed 45 large loads of laundry with one batch / bucket of homemade soap.

Cost analysis:


$3.38 at Walmart for a 76 oz box.

Each box will make 25 batches / buckets

Cost per batch - $ 0.13 per 5 gallon bucket (45 loads)


$3.24 at Walmart for a 55 oz box

Each box makes 12 batches / buckets

Cost per batch - $0.27 per 5 gallon bucket (45 loads)


$4.30 at Walmart for 10 bars

$0.22 per 1/2 bar



But WAIT, there's more.
Here's an easier way to make the same detergent:

Double the Recipe - MIX TOGETHER:
* 1 cup Borax
* 1 cup Washing Soda

* Place 1 bar bath soap (Ivory) on a plate and microwave for two minutes (very cool!)

* Let cool completely
* Crumble and add to Borax and Washing Soda
* Mix well

VOILA! Powdered laundry soap!

Use 1 TBSP per load of laundry.

* Can be used with High Efficiency front load washers.
* Non toxic
* Low suds
* No phosphates
* No fillers
* Safe for septic tanks

If washing with cold water, dilute laundry powder in hot water first then add to wash.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Raccoons and Eagles

Yesterday morning, just as the dawn began to break, Bob closed up ten of our hives and loaded them onto the trailer for transport.  For the next month or two they will be in town where there is an abundance of Chinese Tallow trees aka Popcorn trees that make a fantastic honey. We upgraded from baling twine to cinch down straps to keep the lids secure en route. Honeybees collect resins, called propolis, from tree sap and flowers,  and use it for a sealant for their hives. It is a very sticky substance which in colder climates becomes hard and brittle. They seal alternative entrances, and glue the lids to the hive body with this resin, allowing for more stability and less vibration of the hive, but because we have been opening our hives quite regularly we could not count on the propolis alone to keep the lids secure during transportation.

When we moved to Florida from Virginia we brought several beehives with us in the bed of the pickup. I remember pulling into a rest stop for a bite to eat and noticing that a particular lid had become ajar allowing bees to escape. I'm afraid that as we pulled away to resume our trip a cloud of bees remained in the Burger King parking lot in South Carolina wondering "Where the heck are we?"

When Bob returned to the farm we hurried to finish chores before driving back to town for a Boy Scout Eagle Ceremony.
As we were getting ready to head out the door, Joel spotted a raccoon on the grill on our porch eating the cat's food. It was drooling. If you read THIS ARTICLE about Rabies, you'll remember that I had spotted a raccoon very near the house several weeks ago and was concerned that the animal was most likely infected. An animal that has the rabies virus eventually loses the ability to swallow and will begin to drool. This has typically been described as "foaming at the mouth". The other telltale sign of rabies was that this nocturnal raccoon was wandering outside during the day.

Bob went outside with his rifle and though the raccoon did begin to run off, it only went a few yards before it turned and faced my husband. This is another sign of infection. A healthy raccoon would not have stopped but would have kept running. This raccoon showed no fear and appeared to be about to return either to the food or in aggression, so Bob quickly and accurately shot the raccoon and buried it.  I asked him later if he would have shot it, had it not stopped and turned and he said, "Probably not."  I think he made a wise decision. This animal exhibited all the signs of a rabid raccoon, and with our cats, dogs and livestock we could not afford to take a chance. Our concern now though, is - Did she have babies this spring, and are they infected?

We were able to get to the Eagle Court of Honor in time for practice before the ceremony. Joel introduced the Color Guard and led the Scout Salute, Pledge of Allegiance and the Scout Law,

and we were very honored to be a part of  the recognition of Austin's achievements and advancement to the highest level of Scouting.      

                                                         EAGLE SCOUT

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.     Isaiah 40:31

                        CONGRATULATIONS AUSTIN!