Crofting: Gains and Challenges

Uncle Buck

Poor Buck – he got stung by a bee or bit by a deerfly, and developed a large swelling on his shoulder. It didn’t bother him much, so I salved it with my home-made goat salve (olive oil, tea tree oil, a wee bit of vitamin e, lavender oil, and beeswax) and left it alone for about a week. It reduced by half but it was kind of ugly. Rather than lancing it and risking who knows what in infection, I thought it would either be re-absorbed or would drain on its own. Yuck. It drained; horrible congealed pus. I cleaned it up with an infusion of rosemary and daisy flowers (dried herb in boiling water). He was very patient with the whole process, even though I had to tie him to the stall door. I sopped at it with surgical sponges, then bound on a sponge or two with sticky cloth to catch the rest. In the evening I removed that, washed it again, salved it, and bandaged him. He has been good so far about the bandage; I’ll find out for sure in a few minutes when I go to shut the barn. I diluted the rest of the clean rosemary infusion, and all three goats had a long, tasty drink of it. Rosemary is an excellent tonic and antiseptic. I drink it myself when ill, especially with colds. I do use a teacup and not a steel bucket, though. It is good tepid for a sick animal, with honey stirred in. I find that just about any animal, when ill, will relish rosemary tea with honey. It should be natural, unpasteurized honey, added while the tea is tepid and not hot. Heat destroys the medicinal properties of honey.

I have been using mixed pine and cedar shavings in the goat stalls, and this is working well. It keeps down the flies and the stall doesn’t become as mucky. I am also experimenting with raking up our lawn clippings (note: as long as hay) as green hay for the goats. I put some loose in the barn to dry, and this got them through a couple of rainy days. The rest was turned today by rake (hot, sweaty work) and I hope to get it in tomorrow. The shortest grass clippings just mouldered and bred flies, so that will go to compost. It was the good long grass and “weeds” – wildflowers – that dried well without mold.

Nikki just called from Moncton; she and her husband are visiting his family near here over the long weekend (Canada Day is July 1). They are bringing us replacement tomato and pepper plants. What few of my starts that survived the storm have been depleted by crows, who love to pull up the little cocoa-fibre pots I used. That was an entirely unsuccessful experiment, and this year I am saving all my soup cans and other containers, and will not use the “plant-it-whole” starting pots. The crows love them. I have found the old bottomless buckets used here previously for tomatoes and peppers, and even pumpkins, to foil crows. Once the cucurbit plant is well-established, the bucket can be removed.

My beans, radishes, lettuce and cucumbers as well as pumpkin and squash are up and doing well. Peas and beets are in. I am contemplating how to make hot caps or row covers if I need them into the fall. I will get some fall type crops in soon, like kale and rutabagas, that love the cold weather and do better after a frost or two.

Beans are important to us. These are drying beans, which will be our winter staple. I have one potato plant from my experiment with planting in tubs. Potatoes are grown locally. I can get plenty from farmers I know, but I was hoping for some early baby potatoes.

I closed my Facebook account. It was getting to be a lot of work; I was engaged in a lot of ministry through it and I got kind of burned out. We call it compassion fatigue, when caregivers (ministers, nurses, social workers, doctors) can’t put the work down, and it starts to prey on one’s mind. Facebook is also a place where people quickly jump to offense, and balancing how and what to say while being effective in my Christian witness was getting to be wearing. I was quite upset that a good friend thought I had insulted her, but her memory of that event doesn’t match mine. Explanations sometimes seem to be fruitless, too.

We are also in a conundrum of what to do about the internet connection. It is expensive for us. I am not making any money through it, as I had hoped. Friends have referred me to a couple more opportunities, and if they can pay enough, I will keep this connection. I am still praying, although in the face of probable disapointment, for ministry and parish opportunities. I have asked for an interview with the bishop, and friends are writing letters in my behalf, following up on letters written last year, and my own recent letter. We’ll see.


3 thoughts on “Crofting: Gains and Challenges

  1. I have been struggling with facebook as well sister. Not sure which way I will end up going but for now much fewer friends.
    Poor Buck! I bet that smarted. I am glad you will have replacement plants soon. huggles.

  2. Thinking and praying for you, dear MJ. I’m glad you still have your blog up, as long as you have internet service, that is. I was glad to see it! You have my email addy in the comment section if you choose to write.

    I hear ya about the crows snatching your plants out of the soil and finishing them off. In Pennsylvania, after painstakingly planting some plants in shale soil only to wake up the next morning and see that the abundant rabbit population nipped my plants down to less than an inch. All that work for nothing.

    The Arizona forest fires snuffed my tomato plants. The smoky air at night that drifted over was too much for them. High winds whipped them about, also.

    Received a letter from a friend in Minnesota last night who for the first time seriously wants to leave the country. But for him it would be France. His mother was French, father was a US serviceman in the 1950’s and she was a war bride. He was born on French soil so, technically I said to him, you could obtain French citizenship.

    Be well…

  3. I hope you find a way to keep your internet, I’ll miss our ‘talks’. We’re changing internet provider. We’re going to satellite, It’s flat rate so no more ‘surprise’ bills from Bell.

    Thanks for the info on the cocoa pots. Colin tried planting peat pots too, but it didn’t work either. The roots seem to have a hard time getting through the pot.

    Hope Buck is better soon.


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