As you can tell from our long hiatus from blog posting, the growing season has officially begun! Everything that has happened to us in the past month is worthy of about 20 blog posts, but I recognize that we will never get around to writing them all so I have decided to sum things up as best I can.
Last time we posted, the yurt had been raised (with lots of help from friends and family- Thank you all!) and we were getting ready to move onto phase three of our living quarters this year. We waited to transfer our stuff into the yurt until after a rainstorm so we could make sure that it was watertight. Rain came. The yurt stayed dry! Amazing! This is unfortunately not the end of the story. As the rain continued (and continued and continued) a few drips appeared here and there. Nothing a few strategically placed buckets couldn't handle. Then, one day the drips increased to the point that we decided to at least move our bed out of there and back to the cabin. When I went back to check the yurt later that day the entire floor was flooded.
Rising to the challenge, we decided that our best option for waterproofing would be to cover the whole thing with plastic, which we did with lots of help from the Mazzeis. Here is a picture of our new,improved yurt. In some ways the ropes actually make it look a little bit more authentic. Go figure.
The story ends happily with us back in the yurt and no more floods (keep your fingers crossed for us please). Phew.
You know how in my first post about chickens I mentioned that none of our chicks had died yet? Well, they continued that way until they were nice and big and just about ready to eat. Then, one morning Jean-Paul was greeted at morning chores by one chicken that was lying down, unable to get up but still alive. We brought the sick chicken inside to get warm, tried to get some food and water down its throat and kept an eye on it. A few days later the chicken was no worse, but had not shown any improvement so we put it down, thinking that if it was sick it would be better to kill it before it spread anything.
We then kept watching our other chickens carefully and started adding some apple cider vinegar to their water. Some people say that this helps to prevent coccidiosis, a parasite that chickens sometimes get and may have been the reason for our sick chick. Everybody seemed ok until a couple of weeks later when Jean-Paul again had an unpleasant surprise in the form of a dead chicken. At this point, I called our local Extension Agent and she suggested that we could take the dead chicken to the necropsy lab at UMaine to find out what was wrong. As Lincoln said, it's kind of like CSI, but for chickens.
To our relief, the lab results showed no horrible contagious diseases or parasite, but rather that our chicken had pnuemonia caused by a "crop problem". The crop is located at the base of the esophagus and is essentially a little food storage tank. When food is available, the chickens can eat a bunch all at once, but then store it in the crop to be digested over a longer period of time. Apparently our bird had a blockage of grain in the crop which then somehow caused it to get pnuemonia. Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot that can be done to prevent this problem. Just cross our fingers and hope the other birds have better digestive systems.
Onto the sheep. They are wonderful and cute and I love them (and yes, despite all of that I am still going to eat them). I mean, they are definitely not the perfect children or anything: they sometimes try to push through the fence, get tangled up, and then escape and go leaping off across the field; and thus far they don't have a shelter because they have pretty much destroyed the two shelters that we have tried to put in there by jumping on top of them (it's tricky to make a shelter that is light enough to move twice a day, but sturdy enough to withstand sheep playtime). Despite their foibles they are fun to have around because they are helping to mow and fertilize the hay field, and they are just adorable.
The one with the most outstanding personality looks a little bit like an Ewok so we named him Wicket. Sticking with this Star Wars convention, the others are Jaba, Chewbacca, and Storm Troopers number 1 and 2 (we can't tell those two apart yet). Can you guess who's who?
For a while there we thought that all of our hard work was either going to be devoured by slugs, drowned in 6 inches of rain, stifled by sod, or just remain stunted for lack of nutrients in our soil. However, just in the last week or so things started looking up. While Morgan, Cole, Parker and I were weeding the brassicas yesterday I even found some tiny heads of broccoli forming!!!
All in all, it's been a pretty exhausting month. I'm not gonna lie: I've cried a lot and sometimes it is hard not to want to just give up. This is when it is really good to have a partner in crime: when I am ready to throw in the towel, JP is there with hugs and reassurance, and when he is overcome by pessimism I bring on the optimism and am ready to figure out how to get through our most recent crisis. But it is definitely hard sometimes. I think this is the appropriate time to say: c'est la vie, right?
HEY! We have made it through half of the year though! Amazing to think about really. That means there is time to double the adventures that we have had so far this year. Hmmmm....Should I be happy about that? I think so. We've learned so much already and though I am sure there will be more challenges to come, perhaps the second half of the year's adventures will be a little less traumatic and a little more fun.
Happy Summer Everyone!