Homeland Farm

Homeland Farm

Monday, October 20, 2014

Where's Carmen? (been...)

       I was totally shocked last week. I flipped on the computer, went to my blog page and found that I haven't blogged since March. Seriously. March.
       I really can not believe it has been that long. I kept clicking the refresh button waiting for a newer post to pop up but no. The 2nd of March was indeed my last post. The fact that 7 months has gone by in seemingly the blink of an eye just makes me really believe that the old saying is true. Time does seem to go by faster the older you get, and this summer I have really felt all of my 51 years. So, let's recap the last 6 plus months of life here at Homeland Farm.
        We had a long, long winter last year so when spring rolled around, I was very ready. I was glad to see the last of the frozen horse buckets and hoses leave my laundry room. Spring housecleaning was done (sort of) and then it was on to summer.
        Ahh, summer in Maine. I wish I could say I swam everyday, or hiked and biked. Unfortunately though, my summer was more like a medical marathon with some darn appointment every day it seemed. 
        I have always had "bad knees", which according to my grandmother who also had the affliction, is a family problem passed down from our McKeen ancestors. She would hobble around in her kitchen and exclaim "Oh, these McKeen knees!" When her pain was really bad, I would watch her put a squirt of 'cheese in a can' onto a spoon, insert a Tylenol , and put the whole glob in her mouth. She then had to to try and swallow that whole sticky concoction. I really don't know how she managed to choke it down. I also don't know how she managed to walk at all with only an occasional Tylenol to help with what had to be significant pain.
        Now I have had my share of pain in my life and am not known as a "wimpy" person, but the pain of bone on bone in my knee joints is the worst thing ever. I have no "cushion" left in my knees, and every step is carefully thought over before I make it. It is amazing how many steps you take in a day just doing the usual jobs around the house. I am nigh on to being an athelete, in my humble opinion.
        My fridge is not in my kitchen. It is in the laundry room which is next to the kitchen. It is exactly 12 steps from my kitchen table to the front of the fridge. Then it is 12 steps back to the table in the kitchen. 24 steps to go get the water jug. Or the mustard. Or a baby carrot. A lot of painful steps for a condiment. Certainly a lot for a baby carrot. Yet it doesn't seem like quite as many for an ice cream. Funny how that works.
        I've found you quickly learn some handy coping mechanisms. For example, I need mustard for my sandwich. Since I am making the journey to the fridge, I don't go out empty handed. I grab the water jug and take it with me. I put the water in the fridge, grab the mustard and set it on the shelf. Pause at dryer, where I take out the dry clothes, and put in a wet load. Forget to turn dryer on (this happens every time, I swear..) Load dirty clothes into washer and turn that on. Go to shelf where mustard is waiting, but grab cat food to feed flock of cats howling at my feet like they haven't eaten in days. Hobble over to barn door with the wrinkled baby carrots I found in fridge when searching for mustard. Open door and chuck carrots out to Robin Williams, the pot bellied pig that lurks grunting outside, listening for someone to open fridge. Start to go back in kitchen, and now hear cats howling to go outside. Go back across room to door, let cats out. Hobble 12 steps back to kitchen and plop into the chair with a louder grunt then the pig. Realize the mustard is still out on the shelf, and the bread is now dry. Say screw the mustard and bread, roll meat and cheese into log and eat it. This has just taken 40 minutes.
          It is a freaking miracle I get anything done at all. I do have help though..all my children and Cliffy. When they are home I order them around like a mafia boss. Go get this, grab that, lug that laundry etc. PLEASE. I am nothing if not polite in my bossiness. They have all run the vac, helped cook, and done dish duty on days when my knees are real bad, which isn't ALL the time. However, it has been working to my advantage, so I tell them it hurts bad every day. Why ruin a good thing, says I.
          I recently called my doctor and told her my knees were becoming more painful, especially my right one since my right ankle has been a constant source of misery for well over a year now. Too many health problems to fix it surgically they say. Remember that little ditty..."The ankle bone's connected to the...knee bone, the knee bone's connected to the...thigh bone, etc"? Yep it is true. My right ankle and foot with it's collapsed bones, and torn ligaments has put lots of stress on my right knee, which was always my "good" knee. Now with both joints hurting, I called the doctor for better pain management. As much as I like a good squirt of cheese, I decided tylenol was not doing it for me.
          Doc prescribed some pills, and they helped a little, but I picked up a rather nasty tremor that was so bad, I looked like I was the only person in the room feeling the earthquake. I couldn't even hold the newspaper still to read it. Time to call the doc again.
          More pills prescribed. Worked better then the last ones, but by supper I sounded like I had spent a leisurely afternoon in a bar. "PASSSHHH THE MUSHTARD, WILL YA CWIFFYY...". Nope, that was no good either.
          Yet another call to the doctor. Another new med, no side effects, but very little benefit. Call to doctor, which used to answer the phone with "Blah blah Doctors office". Now they just answer it, "Hello Carmen". Doctor says she will order the same prescription, but a stronger dose. Insurance company now says "no, sorry no more meds for you. " Great. Several more calls to Pharmacy, to doctor, to pharmacy. Finally, insurance company says "FINE! GET OFF OUR BACKS! HERE IS YOUR APPROVAL." Yay me! I am going to make a batch of cookies tomorrow for the gals at the doctors office. They worked hard for me on that problem. So, now I am trying this new medicine, and so far, no slurring or shaking. Looks like we might be headed in the right direction at last.
          The doctor also ordered a lovely purple ankle brace for me, which I can wear once I get my new special shoes that will accommodate the oh so attractive contraption. I am due to get the shoes this week, so I hope with the brace and new meds, I will be tap dancing by the weekend. Film at 11.
          On a good note, dialysis is going well. I am traveling 40 minutes to get it done at the center, but it is a lot easier then when we tried to do it at home. The equipment almost drove Brogan and I to drink. We had a lot of mechanical issues and I finally said enough is enough. It is so much easier to walk in the door, plunk my butt in the chair and let the nurses do all the setting up, labs, clean up and all the paperwork with it. 3 days a week to keep me alive and kicking. Well, I won't try and do any kicking until I get my dandy purple butterfly covered brace. Then watch out..I will be kicking like a mule.
          Speaking of mules, we have had a cute little baby mini mule here all summer and he has been so much fun to watch play. He is adorable in a very naughty way, and alas, will soon be leaving us to go to a good home.
          Brogan has been busy with her animal rescue. Many horses, alpacas, goats, pot bellied pigs, and even dogs and cats, have filtered through the farm this summer, on their way to finding new homes. This is a tough economy to try and do what she does, and it isn't always easy. However, it is her life's work and mission.
           Cameron has been a help this summer. He does a lot of cooking on dialysis days for me, when I often don't feel like doing anything but taking a nap. He made a "pizza cake" that he saw on the internet the other day for us, and it was mighty tasty.
           Liam is doing well too. He has shot up over 4 inches over the last 6 months and sprouted a whole chin full of hair. My "little fella" is now taller then me by inches. He may have me on height, but I have him on chiny whiskers!
            Cliffy is my right hand man (right leg man??) He helps me out so much, running errands for me, or dropping me off at the door of the store to save me the hike in from the parking lot. He will wash dishes, feed the herd of dogs, and runs to the pharmacy for me over and over. And over. A good man, that Cliffy.
           With all that has been going on, it is no wonder it seems we have blinked and it is October. Can it really be almost time for frozen water pails and hoses in the laundry room again? And the holidays too? Yikes! Just the thought of that makes me want to make a batch of fudge. And eat it. But then, the walnuts are in the laundry room, a full 12 steps from where I sit.
           Hark! Is that the sound of cats howling for vittles? And the pig squealing outside the door? Crap. I forgot to turn on the dryer. Sigh. Back to the laundry room. I'm off like a herd of turtles! No, really.
Coming soon to a laundry room near you

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Winter of my discontent (ment)

   Ok..It is official. I am
truly, fully, exceptionally sick of winter. Now, I am not one to whine, (or wine, really) BUT! This seems to have been the longest.winter.ever. Can I get an AMEN?
    Now, I am the first to say I hope we have a white Christmas, and actually I don't mind a "nip" in the air. After all, this is MAINE..LAND OF FOUR SEASONS. But this winter has pushed the limits of my patience. Let me count the 12 peeves of Winter..

1. Spent all of Brogan's inheritance on pellets.
2. Spent all of Cameron's inheritance on firewood.
3. Spent all of Liam's inheritance on oil.
4. Lost all feeling in my fingers while in the barn digging in freezer, looking for something to eat.
5. Wonder why freezer is in barn anyway.
6. Sick of tripping over pails full of "beet pulp" and winter boots while trying to reach pantry shelves.
7. Tired of paying big bucks for veggies when I can grow my own in the sweet old summer time.
8. Tired of seeing a winter coat on every chair in the house.
9. Shoveling, shoveling, and more shoveling.
Just ask Liam..

10. Sick of washing bedding over and over, as dogs are laying on bed all day, every day..and there are a lot of dogs.
11. Is there any Roseanne/The Waltons/or Little House show I HAVEN'T seen??
12. The fine coating of ash/dirt/dust that seems to coat everything, every where. Even the cobwebs are coated. And there are plenty of those.

Roaming goats
   I know I am not alone, as there seems to be plenty of other people lamenting the length of this winter season. I am pretty sure Brogan and her barn helpers are more then ready for a change in the seasons too. And so are the animals...the horses are crabby..the goats have the urge to roam, and the cats are longing for fresh grass to throw up. So I will end with a poem called..what else...SPRING

           Spring ...(ahem)

Come on Spring,
we need you bad!
all this winter
is making me mad.

We long for flowers,
grass and lawn
too much winter only
makes me yawn.

So Come on Spring,
and make it soon
or I am afraid,
I'm gonna be crazy as a loon.

Time for bigger dog beds?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

500 Channels and not a thing to watch..

My view from the dialysis chair, If I don't watch TV
As many of you know, I have to do dialysis three times a week, which I am luck enough to be able to do at home. Three times a week, Brogan hooks me up to my home dialysis machine, and I sit for four plus hours while the machine cleans my blood and puts it back.
      Now, I am not much of a television watcher, but that is what I do during those four hours. I commandeer the remote control, and settle in to watch television. Or should I say, I TRY to watch television. My gosh...we have a ton of channels, and my gosh..there is nothing on any of them. In case you aren't privy to "Direct TV", let me enlighten you as to my choices today.
       I start out at channel 6, and work my way up to the upper 400's every time. It is a habit I can't seem to break. So, off we go!
       I start out with a couple shows that sound breath taking..
"MOP SMARTER, NOT HARDER", or perhaps "UNDER $10 FRENZY". Not sure about you, but they don't catch my attention at all. I'm actually afraid to go to the "frenzy" channel..not sure what I would be seeing.
       Then, there is "SHARK VS DYSON"..Now, I'm not sure who this Dyson fella is, but my money is on the shark. Too gory for me, so I decided not to watch that show either.
       Then I came to a show with a mess of dead guys.."JOHN DENVER, LOUIS ARMSTRONG, NAT KING COLE"..Figured I wouldn't find much on that show to catch my eye.
        A few numbers higher, and it was everything Hawaiian or Alaskan. There was "Buying...Building...and Frontier-ing" Alaska. Oh, and "Alaska Troopers"..them too. For Hawaii, you can "Buy Hawaii", or pretend to sample "Hawaiian Life".
Or watch "Dog the Bounty Hunter" and his gang round up bad guys in Hawaii. I saw all that bling around his neck and said..nahh.
         Then there were the shows about the men. Too many if you ask me. There was "Gator Boys", "Swamp Men", "Ax Men", and "Laz-y Boys". Boring, as well as lazy.
          Soon, I was in California show land. "Kardashians," "Rich Housewives of Beverly Hills", and a new show "Beverly Hill Rich Kids'. Seriously. I just want to slap them. Oh, and make them shovel manure. With a spoon. That is all I have to say about that.
           Then, I was off to infomercials. I saw 4 shows on the best..LADDER, BRA, BLENDER, AND HAIR REMOVER.
Not interested. Unless of course, you can remove the hair..with a blender, while on a ladder, wearing a bra..THAT I would watch. Heck, that I would DO!
           Finally..we were in the sad section of television land..the poor afflicted people. You know the ones..the ones that star in "Hoarders", "Rehab Addict", "Intervention" and the like. No thanks. Not my idea of fun television viewing.
          I thought I was doomed, but I managed to find one station that had something worth watching. My night was saved.
          "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
            the tale of a fateful trip,
            that started from this tropic port..
            aboard this tiny ship......."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


No insomnia to be seen here
Welcome to another episode of insomnia! We are so glad you are back. Our guest today is the lovely blog mistress Carmen C. Horton. She will now attempt to write a poem that rhymes despite the fact that it is the middle of the night! BUT FIRST! A word from our sponsor!

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       old french fries.) Now, back to our show!

        Welcome back to INSOMNIA, America! Now competing
         for our middle of the night poem medal is Carmen Poe
         Horton. Can we have quiet from the audience please!
         GOOD LUCK!

        Ahem...Insomnia, Insomnia
                     you are such a hag to me,
                     Insomnia, Insomnia,
                     you drive me up a tree

                     I'm churning and
                     I'm turning,
                     and desperate to sleep,
                     I guess I better get up,
                     I think I might just weep.

                     Insomnia, Insomnia
                     I guess you're here to stay,
                     Insomnia, Insomnia
                     you wouldn't have it any other way

                      Poor Cliffy is affected,
                      he is bothered half the night
                      He wishes he could kick me out
                      I think he really might

                      Insomnia, Insomnia
                      Time for you to go
                      Insomnia, Insomnia
                      why don't you make like the wind and blow

                       The End.    (Says the chick in the granny nightgown with bags under her eyes.)

                      OH SO CLOSE! The judges say that it does rhyme, but it is a lousy poem so you lose. (Awwww..says the audience of three dogs.)
                        We do have a lovely parting gift for you, Ms Horton. Show her what her gift is!
                         Your gift today is a ONE YEAR SUPPLY OF BLOAT-O PIZZA!  Cases and cases of Extra Crispy, Extra greasy, and the perpetual favorite..Extra Indigestion! Enjoy!
(limp applause from audience of dogs on couch.) (Light from computer is bothering them..they say go back to bed!)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Late Night Visitor

Homeland Farm

  As many of my blog readers know, we have had 5 generations of our family live here in this old farmhouse. Starting with my great grandmother Allie, it has been in our family for over 100 years. Many of my ancestors were born here, lived here and some even died here. Many as well, are buried in the back cemetery-Homeland Cemetery.
Homeland Cemetery
      Due to the long family history of this farm, my family believes that there have been many visitors from the beyond, and many of us have seen, heard or felt things that can not be "explained away". One of these experiences happened to me a couple nights ago.
       I was sound asleep when I woke up with a pain in my hand. As I lay in bed trying to go back to sleep, I suddenly heard a man's voice coming from the room upstairs over my bed. My 13 year old son Liam sleeps in that room, and I thought "he is supposed to be asleep!" I wondered why he was still up and who he was talking to. Then as I heard a deep voice again, I thought perhaps it was my older son Cameron in there talking to Liam, and perhaps telling him he better get to bed before mom catches him.
        I decided that I would get up, sneak up upstairs and surprise him, catching him in the act of staying up way past his bedtime. So, I got up, put on my robe, and headed up the stairs, which are just outside my bedroom door. I climbed up until I was about 4 steps from the top, and stopped, knealing on the step to listen.
        I was looking around the hallway, which has 5 doors, all closed except one. As I knelt on the step, I heard nothing..no talking, no sound at all. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of brilliant white light on the ceiling half way down the hall. I looked up where it had been, and there was nothing there at all. With all the doors on the front of the house closed, there was no way car lights could have done it, but as I stood there, I thought it didn't seem like car lights anyway.
     I continued to kneel on that step for a few more moments, while I looked all around, trying to determine if there was anything in that dark hall that could have made that flash of light. As I looked over at a large box in the hallway, there was another flash of light, in the same area as the first one.
This time I was almost looking at it, and a couple things occurred to me. First, it was a very quick flash of brilliant, white light, and also, as bright as it was, it didn't illuminate the hallway, like a car light, camera or light bulb would. It was only about the size of my fist..but SO very bright, and well-I would describe it as pure white.
       I had goosebumps on neck, and for some reason, I thought of my Uncle Billy. He and I were pals, and he used to take me with him to visit farms, and see cows and auctions and fun stuff like that. He taught me how to take good care of my animals, and was quick to call and say that we left a gate open, or that a horse (or two) were out, or that he saw a fox, better lock up the hens. He died at the young age of 64, and is buried over at Homeland Cemetery.
Me and one of my uncle's young calves

      I wasn't sure why I thought of him at that moment, but I dismissed it, and thought I would go check Liam, even though I hadn't heard a peep from him since I was standing on the stairs. So, I climbed up the rest of the stairs, and walked down the hall, casting an eye over head to the spot on the ceiling where I had seen the light. There was nothing to be seen, so I opened Liam's door, and he was sound asleep in bed, not moving or mumbling and certainly not saying anything.
       I walked back out in the hall and down to Cameron's room, knocked on his door and asked him if he had been talking to anyone. He said he hadn't been, nor had he heard or seen anything. I told him to keep an eye and ear out, and went back downstairs. Crawling back into bed, I glanced at the clock, and realized it was just after midnight.
       Cliff was awake, and I told him about the light I saw upstairs, and how I couldn't really explain the deep voice we had heard, other then to say I wondered if it was my Uncle Billy giving me some sort of message. I have smelled his "Brut" cologne before at the bottom of the stairs, and have often thought of him watching over the place.
      Cliff asked me if I knew what temperature the furnace was set on, and I told him I really had no idea. He lay there a moment, and said I think I will go check it. He got up and walked around the bed and into the bathroom to go out and check on the thermostat.
       All of a sudden, he exclaimed "Carmen! What is that? Come quick!"
        I could tell by the tone of his voice I had better go and look quickly. So I jumped up, and hurried to the bathroom where he was looking out the window.
       " Oh my god!" I hollered, as I looked out the window.
Across the backyard, over in front of the horse barn, we saw FIRE.
        I turned and ran into the hallway, and hollered up to Cameron. "Cameron! FIRE in the corral!" I heard his door opening, as I rushed out into the kitchen, looking for my shoes.
Cliff was throwing on his clothes as Cameron and I ran out into the big barn which is attached to our house. Cliff came running out behind us, and he and Cameron ran out back to the fence, while I yelled to Brogan in her apartment to wake up.
       It turns out that one of the water tub heaters Brogan uses to make sure the horses have fresh water in the winter, had ended up resting on the bottom of the tub.The newer heaters now all have a cage to keep it from resting on the bottom, but this was an older model, and when the tub emptied, it evaporated the last of the water, and melted down the tub until it caught fire. The smoldering tub then started to singe the back of the corral fence.
       I knew as I smelled all that melting plastic, and watched as they kicked snow over the burning tub, that that was the message my uncle wanted to send me. He is indeed still watching over this farm and all of us, and the bright light and perhaps the man's voice were all part of the chain of events that were needed to get us up and out to that corral during the middle of the night.
The farmhouse from the cemetery
       Some people might think that these were mere coincidences..I prefer to think it was ole Willie keeping a close eye on all of us, and that is a very comforting thought indeed.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Up close and (too) personal

We were in desperate need of a good fire starter, and I am nothing if not a women's liberation gal!
   Just was looking for a specific photo in my albums, and I didn't find it. What I did find, however, were many photos that should never have seen the light of day. SO..why not bust them out. It's hump day..a day in need of a laugh to make it through the rest of the week. Have fun!
Exhibit A..
I swear, a neck like that should only be seen on a football player..oh, and what is with that blonde 'fro?
Exhibit B..
Who looks the most pathetic? A toss up..

Exhibit C..
Never mind the moustache...there are more whiskers on that chin then on the goats in the barn! MAAAAA!!!

Exhibit D..

Even the horses run when they see me coming(esp while wearing a granny)..AND

Exhibit E...
Carrot Top? Is that you?

So..another day ends at Homeland Farm, where self esteem goes to die.Tune in next week to see what sad looking creature will appear on my blog!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

When a mud room is truly, a mud room

   Happy New Year to one and all. I hope everyone had a great holiday night, and I hope we all have a healthy 2014. We are off to a wonderful start, and by wonderful, I mean we are having a snow storm. Oh, and bitter cold. Oh, and I mean wonderful in a very sarcastic way.
     I spent the first two days of 2014 by doing what I do best...cooking and cleaning. Okay, I cook pretty well, but cleaning..not so much. It had to be done however, so I vacuumed, cleaned a few windows, ( Why do I have so many windows..just curious), and even dusted a bit. When I say 'dusted a bit', that means I pulled the sleeve of my sweater down over my hand, and did the worst spots. Then had to change, as one arm was really pretty dirty.
    I always start in the end of the house and work my way out to the kitchen, and finish in the laundry room, or as some people call it..the mud room. I have seen many so called mud rooms in all the house wife magazines I get and they are always so tidy. I mean, they have rattan baskets for each child to store their shoes and belongings, peg boards on the wall for organized coat hanging, and nice racks and boot driers for any boots that might get "damp".
     Let me show you a photo of a REAL MUD ROOM.
  Exhibit A....As you can see, this is a laundry room
Exhibit B...
Or is it a feed room?
Exhibit C..
okay, it is a feed room (warm mashes for a cold night)
Exhibit D..
Let's see..2 coats per person x 6 people..plus coveralls..and hats
Boots galore...Hats/gloves/mittens-stacked up and handy
Finally...Exhibit E..A mud room floor, complete with mud. So, now you know what a REAL FARMHOUSE mudroom looks like. It ain't pretty. I told you I am not an immaculate housekeeper. BUT! Did I show you the   picture of the pie I made??? Now THAT is pretty!