Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Stroke Survival: Adaptive Gardening

Severe Weather Pressure Treated Pine 5.5 in Picket Privacy Fence Panel (Common: 8ft x 6ft: Actual: 8ft X 6ft)It's been a while but I've been busy as you will read.

(Started this in May.) LOL
Well, it's Spring again. So begins a new garden of delicious vegetables waiting to grow. We have three standard 3x6 raised beds made from a fence panel. We still have to purchase another one to make into 8" deep raised beds for a total of six beds for taller and/or climbing plants (corn, beans, peas, cucumbers). I won't have to bend down to harvest.

We've also build some elevated beds for herbs.

I cut the handle of a mop and attached a two and a half foot and to a hoe and claw to make weeding easier. My old bones and hip replacement just doesn't take the bending as easily.

(Started this week and I'll try to do better)
I just passed my 4 year anniversary on the 27th of May. My time does fly when you are not having fun and running around like a chicken with its head cut off literally. No I haven't gotten more function in my arm and hand back, my leg still inverts both due to my post stroke spasticity. Since I've been here, I've found a new neurologist, cardiologist, and dry needling PT. I'm still waiting on a PCP. I've got an initial appointment in July. My new therapist is not as experienced or confident as my old one, so I'm not making the strides I was with my new one, but at least I'm out of pain. I've finally been able to back down to once a week, but since I'm not making positive strides it's more pain control.

I'm also scheduled for Botox with my new neurologist the second week in July. I've been lucky so far with the new doctors. They've all been on the same page as me or a page or two ahead. I haven't had to fire one because of the god complex yet. So yeah, considering all that I've heard from other stroke survivors about useless doctors, I've been lucky.

I've had to really fight with gardening this year. Between it being a new garden and the chickens, it's literally been a battle. I'm doing a combination of square foot and back to Eden gardening. I planted my seeds perfectly so that everything got enough light and water. It was going to be perfect just like my garden beds back in my other place. The planned harvest would be enough it carry Mel and I through this season with plenty of fresh goodies. Or that was the idea.

Enter the chickens...
They have been a bane to all my gardening efforts this year. They figured out they could fly over the fence this year. They ate and scattered seeds all over the place in each bed. They also have dug out large areas for dust bathing. So far I've replanted corn five times, green beans and cucumbers four times. I have no idea what's coming up or where. I harvested four pods of beans yesterday to find out which plant it was. It turned out to be red beans. I picked a huge zucchini that grew and was buried underneath a tomato plant. This sucker was twelve inches long by six inches around! I've got pumpkins growing where my yellow squash was planted. No yellow squash made it.  Sixty English pea plants are history. There's no telling what this year will bring.

Speaking of the chickens. We plan to hatch out a new laying stock next Spring. The current layers will go on to their next stage of life. These new ones and the rooster, Whitie, will go into a regulation hen house and yard. I'm tired of fighting them and next years garden will be fresh eating and six months worth of eating.

We had to fence off the compost area so there would be compost. After the chickens had a go through it, there was only carbon left in it for a lopsided compost. This is the only homestead I know of that free ranges the chickens and fences off areas to keep them out of it. Mel ended up putting a 5' fence around the garden and compost pile.

I killed one extra rooster and made another zombie rooster out of the other one. His days are numbered because I found the hatched and am sharpening it as I write. No more will future roosters age more than four months old. They are tough and muscular. I broke the neck of the second rooster but it didn't kill him. Yeah, his muscles are that tough. He just wanders around the homestead with his head tilted at a cockeyed angle. Is it any wonder we call this the Cockeyed Homestead?!

We fenced off a dog training area for Mel. She wrote a book on how to train your dog in ten weeks. Of course she had a brilliant idea of not only adding pictures but also a DVD to it. So we had to get another dog. We went to the shelter and found a German Shepherd mix. This wasn't a puppy but a three-year old, 80 lb DOG. She called him "Bennie" and I called him "Dufus" because he is dumb as a pile of rocks and is as heavy as them too. He now answers to both names.

Herbie, the 20 lb wonder dog
In choosing this video dog we went down the line of dogs at the shelter. The dog she needed had to be untrained. At each cage we commanded the dog to sit. When it complied it got petted and we went on to the next cage. When a dog didn't respond to the command, it got praised and petted. We found after comparing note, there were two options. One was a puppy and the other was Bennie Dufus. This dog had never been in a truck because we had to bodily lift him into the truck to bring him home. He'd never been inside a home before. He'd always been on a tether. We found this out when he bodily picked up Herbie and one of the cats, and shook them within an inch of their lives. He also killed one of our laying hens after climbing over the fenced training area. All within the first twenty-four hours with us. So he's back on a tether in the training area during the day and inside at night. He hasn't messed with any more of our household critters since the first day. He is put through his paces of simple commands like "come" and "sit" and he's done pretty well with those for the past two weeks. I'm just looking at the "Dufus" part of him and thinking he's not going to be a well behaved dog in ten weeks, but I could be surprised. Right now I'm doing my best not to get tripped up by him. But then again, if he throws me off balance he's big enough to steady myself with him.

It doesn't sound like a lot when I list it like this, but it's been one thing after another.

Nothing is impossible.

Come find me on youtube where I'm doing cooking and other videos.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sunday Stroke Survival: Well, I Forgot

You may have noticed that I missed Sunday Stroke Survival this past Sunday. Well, I forgot. Well, not exactly, I was in the Golden Isles packing up more stuff that I didn't earlier. I had canceled the movers. I just packed items I had to have like clothes, animals, feed, and assorted stuff into my van. It took two trips. Last weekend, Mel, two friends, and I drove to the house to clean up and get the bigger stuff like my lift chair and assorted things.

Murphy's Law strikes again. One of the guys we hired, cousin to our friend, who was supposed to go and bring his 14' trailer along ended up not coming due to an emergency in his family. That left us short on muscle power and his trailer. On the drive to the coast, our friend's Jeep front end started wobbling. I'm thinking a tie rod was loose as I watched through the Chevy truck's back window. He said it was his wheels were out of alignment. The wobble increased as he picked up speed. So we toddled along on the interstate going 52 mph. There were no neighbors to be found less than 50 to help lift. I had arranged for a motel room for the two nights we were in town. The tractor/mower we were suppose to bring back with us had a dead battery and couldn't be loaded. I had text messaged mt girls of our intention to empty the house that weekend. Their husbands were at work and they weren't available. GRRR! I gave them a month's notice and weekly reminders. So we brought back what would fit in the back of Mel's truck and the Jeep. At this rate it will take a couple of trips more.

By the time I remembered this blog, we were on back roads making our way back home. I'm giving notice in advance now that my Sunday blog may not appear on schedule for the next month and a half. Just in case Murphy's Law strikes again.

On the home front, I've been grooming 11 rabbits, caring for 2 dogs, 5 cats, and 7 chickens since I've been on this mountain. We've been building garden beds both 8" and 3' tall for our crops. I've planted the crops for transplanting while the beds are being made. This year's goal is fresh eating. So I've planted tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, onions, garlic, an assortment of herbs, lettuces, corn, spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tumeric, ginger, horseradish, about 15 varieties  of beans, English peas, and both sweet and hot peppers. Oh we also started apples, peach, pecan, lemon, fig, and mandarin orange trees. We planted strawberries in both gutters and hanging baskets. So we've been pretty busy.

We also have our new YouTube channel up, a new website, created a new logo, a new blog, pinterest account, and FaceBook. See below-
Our cockeyed email- cockeyedhomestead@gmail.com
Our cockeyed website- https://www.cockeyedhomestead.com
Our cockeyed pinterest- https://www.pinterest.com/cockeyedhomeste/
Our cockeyed blog- https://www.cockeyedhomestead.blogspot.com
Our cockeyed facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/CockeyedHomestead
Our cockeyed youtube channel - We've got a glitch in our link. www.youtube,com search "cockeyedhomestead."
So check us out-like, pin, comment and subscribe. Thanks.

Remember-
Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Stroke Survival Sunday:What Do You About Inaccessibility?

(Shockingly, this blog is going on without picture for the next couple of weeks due to a computer crash and having to borrow one to write this blog)

Accessibility is a big issue with me. What do you do when faced with an accessibility issue? Most times I make do. Sometimes, I complain to management. But more often than not, I'll just refuse to do business with that company and go to a competitor.

For the first one, you know me, I'll trudge on and get what I need. I may not pick up everything in one trip...just the essentials. Here comes the problem with this since my move. Overachiever me, will cause an ugly blister on my braced foot. You know the bane of my AFO and the precursor to yet another decubitous ulcer on the bottom and side of my foot. This has happened quite often since my move to my mountain side homestead especially with big stores like Lowes and Walmart. Yes, this tiny blink-and-you've-missed-it township has those too. Yes, you say, but they have to daredevil wheelie carts for handicapped and morbidly overweight  people. I'll agree with you there, but with any big box store it's finding one unoccupied that's the problem...even here.

In the larger stores, I'll complain to management. I'll hear the usual apology for the lack of carts, but the issue still stands. I can either sit and wait until one  comes available or make due. Even handicapable people have things to do besides waiting on a cart. I usually have a huge list of ten to twenty things on the homestead to-do list every day. Most days, the list has an alternate "rainy day" to-do things on it too. There is wool to spin, rabbits to groom, seeds to start in the greenhouse, and a menagerie of animals to care for. You get the idea. Instead, I'm sitting on a bench waiting for a wheelie thingy. Meanwhile, baggers are scurrying around trying to find me a cart. I'll only wait for  so long before I'll grab a few essentials or walk out of the store.

In the smaller stores, they just don't have carts. So I'm squeezing my way through boxed lined smaller aisles. When you have an arm that really doesn't move, it catches on everything and pulls items off the shelves. I feel obligated to stop and replace them back onto their proper places. Unless they roll under the shelving unit. All courtesy is gone out the window when that happens. Who loses when this happens? We both do. I can't get all I needed to buy and they don't get my money.

When I walk out of a store that's a very bad thing. It's my absolute last thing I do because in a small town like this, there are no competitors. When a customer would rather shop in a neighboring county because of noncompliance or limited compliance, this business is in trouble. While I haven't had issues yet with this, I know it's only a matter of time. The business licensing agency is my first stop. Then my voice and reach go farther.

 I'll blog and use social media. The old marketing adage about one person telling ten people and each of those telling ten more people each no longer applies. The number of people is greatly increased by the internet. For example, on any given Sunday, this blog will average over 300 hits. That's an  impact point because we all share what we read. Just use the same equation as the old adage. Three hundred readers retelling the story to three hundred of those they share with each. Carry that equation farther two times and that's a MAJOR hit on  a business. What business could afford that much bad press for a bad experience or experiences?

Gone are the days when a business can ignore the clout/impacts of a dissatisfied customer. It is now a time of caveat venditor...let the seller beware.



Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Stroke Survival: Changes and Challenges

Well, I officially started being a homesteader this month. Not really,  just an semi urban homesteader because we only have a couple of acres versus dozens. The shift wasn't without drama. I'll spare you most of it. Don't we all have enough of that in our lives? But doing it all post stroke was a major headache!

We, Mel and I, have come up with a name for our little homestead. It's called the Cockeyed Homestead. Mainly because that was Mel's favorite term for what she did...cockeyed. In part, because I'm always thinking outside the box. It's been called original thinking by the kind, and down right insane by the not so kind. In other words...cockeyed. So it fits.
cock·eyed
ˈkäkˌīd/
adjective informal

 1. crooked or askew; not level.
    "cockeyed camera angles"
    synonyms: crooked, awry, askew, lopsided, tilted, off-center, skewed, skew,  misaligned
    "that picture is cockeyed"
  2. absurd; impractical.
        "do you expect us to believe a cockeyed story like that?"
3.  drunk.
        "I got cockeyed"
#1 Pretty much describes us.
#2 Possibly, we are both over half a century old, but we are still gonna do it.
#3 Nah, alcohol rarely passes these lips anymore. But there are plans to make honey mead and fruit based wine in our future. Why? Because we can and will, and there are medicinal uses for the stuff. Always in moderation. Never truly drunk as the meaning implies.

What we started with
Right now, we are getting organized. That's a huge job. Mel's thinking for the last two years was scatter brained, to put it kindly. She wanted it, she got it. It didn't matter whether so was equipped for it yet. It's not really her fault. She has ADD, which I've had plenty of practice with by way of my youngest daughter. She got chickens (6), Angora rabbits (6), a goat kid, started a garden, AND tried to renovate her trailer all within the first year of starting the homestead without any background or experience to back it up. Not to mention YouTube, a website with a blog, selling homestead products, and working away from the homestead. (Sound familiar my blog followers? Is she a Jo 2 or what?) She knew what she wanted and did it with very little forethought. And while she tried, everything fell apart.  She did everything cockeyed and quickly became overwhelmed. As a result, disillusionment and depression set in. While endearing to her following, as is her infectious giggle, it had no possible way to succeed but stranger things have been known to happen.

I had been counseling her for all that time. She needed to S L O W down. One job at a time. Gain experience and a comfort level before adding something new. Enter Jo permanently two years later. So you can imagine the mess. My contribution to this partnership is experience. Thirty years of organic gardening, three years of rabbit care, umpteen dozen years of building, renovating and remodeling, and off the grid skills. Although disabled, I have the same drive and dream as she does. I bring some planning and organizational skills into the mix. I also bring some really helpful tools like a weed whacker and lawn mower. :) Learn and plan before you do it as much as possible. There will always be surprised, but minimize their impact with knowledge and resources to be better able to deal with it. That's my way. So I'll be balancing her out and keeping her on the road to fulfilling our mutual vision.

The first order of business was to cut down the overgrowth to see what we have. That's where we are now after a full week. I have a clear vision of what we want to achieve and how to get there. Mel's property is laid out on the side of a mountain. So slopes and drops are a difficult problem for me. It is also heavily wooded with thick underbrush.The next or at the same time is to layout the gardens. Expanding or better planning on what has been established. We gotta eat. For the first year together, the focus is on finding what will grow well enough to offset half of our grocery bill. We'll improve on it yearly.  I need relatively flat areas for access. I do have a semi-paralyzed leg and walk with a cane most times. So this is an imperative if I've got to access and tend to these areas. So that's job one.

On the behind the scenes action, plans and goals are being set on paper to be put into the works. The nonvisual aspects, as for right now, is also being done.The website and YouTube channel are being revamped. I'm looking at marketing angles for wool, yarn, crochet and knitted goods, and other products produced by us. The homestead has got to generate income to be self-sufficient. Yes this a mid term goal. Little details on things like what we are calling ourselves. what and when we'll do items, how we divide labor and goals verses cost, etc.There are tons of details to be figured out. What I'm basically doing is setting up the homestead as a business. I  spent too many years in college and real business world doing this to succeed. This I know how to do even with brain damage.

Dream vision for bunny outside area
So it's busy, busy, busy. Mel provides the able, although getting older body, and I provide the working orders and help out where I can. The next big purchase is for The Warren. We decided to purchase an out-building for the rabbits. Yes, as income/people food making members of our household, they deserve a house and a proper play area outside. Just because they are working stiffs doesn't mean they will live a dole drum life. Besides, this will also be our temporary living quarters too while our new homestead house is being constructed.

I've been working on a logo. You have got to have an identifier to be branded, right? What do you think?
 
It's just one of the ideas I'm working on. Hopefully by next month the homestead portion will be up on it's new site if not sooner. God's still working on patience with me.

Until next time remember...
Nothing is impossible.



Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday Stroke Survival: Give Yourself Permission

I had a revelation, of sorts, while I was in the process of moving from my old home to my new one that I wanted to share with y'all.

Packing up to move is nobody's idea of fun. In fact, it's one of the top ten stress causing items on the list of major stress factors that heavily impact your well being. It's near the top like death of a spouse or loved one. Lord knows, I was already up to my eyeballs with that stress factor.

Moving after a stroke is no picnic.What to take. What to sell. What to donate. What to trash. All these decisions were up to little, old me. ALONE. Before, it was a couples or family thing. To top it off, I was seriously down sizing. I am going from an over 2,000 sq ft house to one less than 200. One-tenth and I had stuff galore to fill my 2,000+ sq ft when you count the attic, and out buildings. For weeks before the move, I never felt so ill prepared for a move in my entire life!
My favorite stress pic

 I was hit full force with what I could do and what I could not do. There was a whole lot I just physically could not do. It wasn't that I wasn't trying. The spirit was willing, but my body couldn't. That's a bitter pill for my never-say-die attitude. To fill one box took about forty trips from where whatever it was was to the box and back again. The fact that my left side was weaker, yes even after almost four years, than my right before my stroke was a major tell. I could only carry a few things at a time to be placed in the box. That's if I didn't want to leave a trail of items between one place and another. That meant small loads, one or two items at best.

Compound this issue with my fatigue and my Botox wearing off, it took a good amount of effort to fill one box. Then, there was the question of what to do with the box when full. I found that if the box wasn't to heavy or too big, I could pick it up in a football carry and take it to the staging area. I had rooms set aside for "take," "donate," "storage," and trash." I had to rest between boxes and still it was a maddening cycle. If the boxes were to heavy or big, they had to stay where they were. Talk about an obstacle course!

I was fit to pull my hair out several times over the month. Yes, it took a month at the snail's pace I was doing it at. I wasn't having fun. You know me, I always try to make everything enjoyable to keep going. I was totally opposite of how I am usually. I was irritated, short tempered, and didn't see the redeeming quality in anything. In fact, I seriously considered lighting a torch and setting the whole house aflame several times. I couldn't stand to be around myself and there's no way escaping yourself. I could see myself. Hating myself. But unable to stop myself from doing it. That's horrible for me.

One morning it dawned on me. Quite literally because the spastic muscles in my arm don't let me sleep long. The pain isn't as great with the dry needling, but it will still wake me up to reposition my arm.  What am I doing and why am I hurting myself? I needed to accept what is and give myself permission to fail and not do. So everything is not packed right, or folded right. It wasn't as if I was moving across country or another country for that matter. If it got broken, I'd glue it back together or get a new one. If it got wrinkled, I'd straighten it after I got there. If I couldn't lift or carry something, I'd put a colored code sticky note on it for others to deal with. I did hire some movers after all. For the stuff that was going to storage, there were some beefy, college students and family. I didn't NEED TO DO IT ALL.

Credit
That's the major malfunction with a person like me. It's a control, stubbornness, and pride thing. The can-do attitude just doesn't know when to quit. I've never accepted failure as an option. I had to give myself permission to fail and not do. We, as human beings, are our own worse critics. It's alright to not do some things that are physically impossible (within limits). This revelation goes against my "nothing is impossible" sign off. Some things are. Like trying to lift a 24" square box, weighing thirty pounds, balancing it, carrying it from one room to the next, and setting it down without dropping it with one working arm. It's a whole lot ungainly than a fifty-pound bag of rabbit pellets or a bale of hay. Yes, I can do that and do it quite regularly. The contents won't break if I drop it. It's also easier to hold onto.

After this revelation, I started feeling better about myself. It's crazy that I have to gibe myself permission, but it worked. I was calmer, more pleasant to be around, and at peace once again. I found my equilibrium once again. Moving away and setting up a new household is stressful by nature. The move wasn't without problems, but I could take it in stride once I'd given myself permission to fail. Lesson learned.

On a sad note, I have to say good-bye to the Stroke Survivor Tattler. After almost three years of a republishing agreement, they are closing their website. They were based out of Canada and was my first international republishing contact I had. It had grown by leaps and bounds since I found them. From the dozen or so bloggers and three expert articles on various aspects of stroke/brain injury survivors to over forty bloggers and ten experts. Hits wise it jumped over 2K a month. John Anderson and the rest of them will be missed. I'm proud to be part of such endeavor and they will forever be friends who were there when I needed them most.