Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

Remember why we have this holiday. Not the gifts, the parties or the time off work
It is the birthday of Jesus Christ and a time of great goodness and hope.

Merry Christmas from our farm

God Bless you all

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Modern medicine and Harsh Reality

I have to write this post.
In 1989 my Father died in a city hospital [a very good one] far from his home. He did not want to go there, preferring the care from our own small town Hospital. He was 85 and had lived a marvelous full life. The Dr's wanted him to go to the big Hospital for tests. He had had a dime sized spot on one lung since had not changed in size but they wanted to do tests.
He did not want to go. We talked long about it and I told him it was his life and his choice, he said to me 'If I go up there I will not come home'....he had these hunches that had been 100% right at that point. We faced the Dr's and told them he preferred to stay in the local hospital. They were angry with me but Dad was as sharp as could be and knew what he wanted.
I was calving out our cow herd at the time and went home to look after them. That afternoon I went back to town to spend time with Dad. He was not there, the Dr's had pressured my brother into pressuring Dad. They had sent him to The city. I was so angry. Now he was alone, in a huge hospital he did not want to be in, surrounded by people who didn't know him.
He died there after complications from ulcer surgery, the Dr's had totally missed the ulcer in their pursuit of a benign mass the size of a dime.
I learned one thing from this....we are so obsessed with saving lives we have completely forgotten quality of death and the reality that we all die.
What brings on this post....Ralph's mother died on Wednesday the 14th. She would have been 86 on Christmas Eve. She had married the love of her life, raised 7 wonderful children, had her own business and truly had a grand life. She had moved in to a nursing home. We were amazed at the drugs she was on. The side effects and interactions of these drugs were insidious. Ralph would call her and she would be sick from this or that, he would ask her what they were doing for her and it was always another pill.
On Sunday the11th Ralph got a call she was not well, pneumonia and sepsis. We really had a feeling then that this was her time. The Dr's flew her to a big city hospital where Ralph met the rest of his family. There was no hope. The sepsis was everywhere. She died there in the ICU, under heavy pain medication, with her family.

Now I will sound hard, but the costs of this will be high. She was nearly 86, had lived a good life, where was the honest reality? The Dr's at the nursing home [which is in the local hospital] must have know, are they poor Dr's? Making her comfortable in a facility she had called home for 3 years would not have been uncaring. We have to deal with death. It comes to us all. Dying is natural, not a medical brawl to keep an old and sick heart beating, to squeeze the last penny out of a Medicare patient.
We truly need to start looking at quality of death, the way we leave this world is as important as how we come into it.
The drugs that Ralph's mother was on......have side effects.....Sepsis, respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea, all of which she had more and more frequently as she stayed at the nursing home.
Interactions between these drugs increase the severity of the reactions. It is disturbing to see the answer to everything medical is so predominantly drug based.

Think on it. Ralph and I have talked of what we want. If it is possible we plan to be at home when we die. I know we do not want to live a medicated and semi sedated life in a nursing or rest home.

God Bless you all and keep you safe

Friday, December 9, 2016

Year End and The Start of Winter

It is hard to believe it is the 9th of December. The weather is colder but the sun still feels good and as I type this the poultry is sunning by the tobacco barn.

I do apologize for the erratic posting this fall. We just seemed to be going in circles there for a while. Now it seems things are sorted out a bit better. Our last broody hen should hatch this coming Wednesday. The Australorp hens ended up being quite broody, 6 of the 12 hatched chicks. The Buff hens did very well also 7  of 11. Sadly we had only one Buckeye hen go broody but she did raise "Henry" one of our young replacement roosters.

The year has taught us a lot about our chickens.

1: We probably do not raise them the most efficient way.

2: They run totally everywhere and it has shown us just how much space free chickens use. 

3: They do well with non traditional rations and lots of bits and pieces. They do not bother the gardens with the space and natural lifestyle they live.

4: The Australorps go to bed earlier by about an hour than the Buckeye or Buff's do.

5: Hen raised chicks are  incredibly healthy, we lost some chicks to aerial predators but none to disease.

6: A hen can raise a lot of chicks and will co-mother quite happily. Three Australorp hens teamed up to raise 22  chicks and a Buff and an Australorp are working on 19.

7: A hand raised chick does  not necessarily become a pet. The little chick we found in the driveway is now a sweet and happy hen, an independent and feisty hen at that. She does come in to lay her eggs...clucking at the door to let us know she wants in. Then marching to the door to be let out. 

8: If a chick is injured by a hawk, do not try to save them even if they are bright and determined to live. This was and still is something I have trouble with. We have "Oscar", he was lifted in the air by a hawk, the Momma hen [ A Buff] flew in the air and attacked the hawk, she saved the chick but he was hurt. He had puncture wounds on his back and couldn't stand up. He was bright though and tried to. The hen was frantic and had made such an effort I had to do my part. I took the chick, washed the wounds and treated them. I worked his legs as much as I could and had a box with soft blankets for him. When he was first hurt he could not stand up at all, he got his name from acting like an ostrich and stretching his neck as far as he could to see around him. Oscar it became. He was finally able to use his legs and is quite a "rooster". He does not know he has a handicap. He has a tremendous crow and despite a galloping way of getting around is doing very well out in the yard. Hens are learning to watch out for him. He is our boy though and the minute we call him he comes over to be picked up and carried around. However what do you do with a gimpy pet rooster?

9: Planting cover crop near the barn is a great thing for all concerned. Good for the land and fabulous for the poultry. The entire flock of chickens, turkey's and ducks are taking advantage of greens in winter. Daikon Radish are awesome, the tops withstand heavy grazing by the birds and the roots bore into the ground.

10: A lot of blogs and Chicken sites frown on buying Hatchery chicks. We found the hatcheries offered us the breeds and arrival dates we needed for our farm. The hatchery chicks were not perfect but have grown into a wonderful flock. The chicks they have raised are bigger and more structurally correct than their parents. They are laying younger. Overall for us the initial purchase through a Hatchery was just right.

11: We had no idea how much entertainment and delight having the poultry would bring us. They say laughter is the best medicine and they prove it. Yes there is sadness but the antics and companionship they provide far outweigh the tears.

Watching how our flock develops  in 2017 is going to further their entertainment value. The wonderful home raised and drug free chicken we have eaten and have stored for future meals makes us look forward to our meals with a sense of satisfaction. So as winter weather looms in our forecast and the  new year lurks just around the corner Ralph and I are laughing at our chickens and enjoying the afternoon sun. I mean really who else can get an egg just laid, for breakfast with out going out of the house!

God Bless you all and take delights in all around you.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The trouble with Turkey's

It's official.....Spike is a father. Auntie Turkey, the Royal Palm hen who had helped
 the Buckeye hen raise her chicks earlier this summer, has hatched 2 poults so far. This crazy determined turkey hen went broody at the start of November.

We tried a new approach,  we let her set and get broody in one of the beautiful turkey nest boxes Ralph made. Then when she was well set we moved the entire box into the utility building at night. That way her nest had 'not' been disturbed. (Sort of) It worked. To deal with the obsessive nature of the turkeys...not eating or drinking I boiled and mashed eggs with a bit of milk, then took that to her in a small bowl. It seemed to keep her eating and yes coming out of her nest to poop and drink.
Today was 29 days. I have to admit I was not hopefull.  Tonight we checked,  she hissed at Ralph and she has not done that before.

Our Christmas presents are here. A Chocolate colored poult peeked out from a very concerned mother, then a second poult peeked out, a black one with the cream colored, head mark that the chocolates have.

It might seem rather ordinary news to some but it is a blessed miracle to us, we are still concerned, there are still eggs under her.
It's pretty wonderful though and yes the Trouble with Turkey's is looking hopefull.

God Bless you all and with luck Photos very soon.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Linux Update...A Ralph Post

Fiona has asked me to do an update on my use of Linux. I have taken a triple dose of blood pressure medicine so I can start with an anti-Microsoft rant. I hate Windows! It so so buggy. Everyone and his brother hacks the vulnerabilities of the windows operating system. Microsoft does updates when you don’t want it. Their updates break the system! The system costs you now and later. You have to buy new software when you already have that software – it just won’t work with the upgrade. And now, they lie in their advertising (I suspect). Their ad for the Surface Pro shows Golf course help for Gil or someone. They don’t mention buying the software to do that work. It sounds like Windows will do the work out of the box. The couple that met at a young age and married and are now doing animated movies. It sounds like you or I could use Windows to make animated movies just like they are doing – without buying anything. Or Beowolf doing Stage designs. Windows will do none of these things (my guess). But you can BUY software to do these things on Windows. I seriously doubt Windows can do any of these things. It didn’t years ago when I had Windows. You had to buy additional software to do just about anything. Email and web browsing and watching videos or listening to music is about it. Nothing major. And the prices are high for Windows and the software.

I bought a laptop. End of story. End of expenses. My operating system was free. My software was free. I can use Blender, Gimp, Inkscape, etc. free of charge.

inkscape - A vector-based drawing program using SVG​                             
Notice: This is an official update which is supported by ROSA.

Inkscape is a generic SVG-based vector-drawing program.

Inkscape uses the W3C SVG (= "Scalable Vector Graphics") standard as its native file format. Therefore, it is a very useful tool for web designers and can be used as an interchange format for desktop publishing.

blender - A fully functional 3D modeling/rendering/animation package.                                                                                                                       
Notice: This is an official update which is supported by ROSA.

Blender is the in-house software of a high quality animation studio. It has proven to be an extremely fast and versatile design instrument. The software has a personal touch, offering a unique approach to the world of three dimensions. Blender can be used to create TV commercials, to make technical visualizations or business graphics, to do some morphing, or to design user interfaces. Developers can easily build and manage complex environments. The renderer is versatile and extremely fast. All basic animation principles (curves and keys) are implemented.

gimp - The GNU Image Manipulation Program​
The GIMP is an image manipulation program suitable for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.  Many people find it extremely useful in creating logos and other graphics for web pages.  The GIMP has many of the tools and filters you would expect to find in similar commercial offerings, and some interesting extras as well.

The GIMP provides a large image manipulation toolbox, including channel operations and layers, effects, sub-pixel imaging and anti-aliasing, and conversions, all with multi-level undo.

This version of The GIMP includes a scripting facility, but many of the included scripts rely on fonts that we cannot distribute.  The GIMP ftp site has a package of fonts that you can install by yourself, which includes all the fonts needed to run the included scripts.  Some of the fonts have unusual licensing requirements; all the licenses are documented in the package.  Get them in if you are so inclined.  Alternatively, choose fonts which exist on your system before running the scripts.

(I went into the software management program to get the above information on blender, inkscape, and gimp. While there, I looked at the bottom of the home screen. There was an “update available” icon there. I have updates available. It did not update without my permission! I looked at the 6 updates available. I can see what the updates are. There is a box in front. If I check it and hit apply, it will update only the updates I have checked. I have no problem with any of the updates. I am going to update all 6 updates. I just saved this document. I am going to hit apply now. I am back. It took 2 minutes and 42 seconds for me to go to the software manager, click the 6 boxes, hit apply, it tells me I have to download 23 MB and it will use 37 KB additional disk space, it asks if it is ok to continue, I click yes, it downloads and installs all 6 program updates, checks for additional updates, there are none, I click ok and it closes the info box, I click on “all software”, it brings up all software categories, and I come back to OpenOffice to continue typing. 2 minutes and 42 seconds for all that. There was not any problems. Even with Linux, I save before updating. I could have continued working here while it was updating. I chose not to. By the way, that “Notice: This is an official update which is supported by ROSA” above , just says that my operating system (ROSA Linux) supports that software. They have thousands of programs they support, and thousands more they do not support, but offer. There are many thousands of programs I can download and install (if I want to). There are at least hundreds of variants of Linux. ROSA is just my current favorite. If I move from ROSA to Mint, Ubuntu, SUSE, PCLinuxOS, Debian, or whatever, I will have to download and reinstall any software I want. Most distro’s come with a standard load of programs. You can delete and add as you choose.)

Wow, it is hard to believe how much better I feel, now that I am off my high horse and Windows. Linux (for me) is just so much better. Let me do a check. I have:

5 – word processor/office type programs

29+ - audio programs (some also do video, some record, some manage gain, some convert formats, some do all, some will edit audio tracks, some do other things, and some are in the “I don’t know” category because I have never used them)

24+ - video and photo programs (some do panoramas, editing, recording, converting, transcode DVDs, Blu-Rays, etc.)

5+ - Web browsers

2 - astronomy programs

4+ - e-book readers

3 – You Tube downloaders

3 - disk backup programs

4 or 5 file managers

10+ - games (hundreds plus or more downloadable, I just don’t have time for them. But the Majhongg and palapali are my favorites. Palapali is a jigsaw puzzle game. You can select a photo from the internet or a photo file from your computer or one of the 8 or 10 that comes with the program. It will cut it up and make a jigsaw. You put it back together.

Plus another 1 or 2 hundred programs of one kind or another(terminals, editors of one kind or another, DVD recorders, downloaders, webcam programs, Tor or bittorrent programs, messengers, screenshot programs, etc).

Check out a couple of linux videos made using blender.  Big Buck Bunny   Elephants Dream 3D CGI ANIMATION SHORT FILM HD

Fiona uses gimp to resize, to crop, etc. photos for the blog. Gimp is comparable to Photoshop, just free.

As you can see, lots of programs are available. And they work. I have core programs I use “all the time”. The others were downloaded with ROSA or I downloaded them to see if they were better than my main standby. I just never deleted it. Or, I use it once in a while for a special feature.

I have several programs that are my go-to programs. I use Bibletime or Xiphos for Bible study. I usually use K3B or brasero to burn cd’s/DVD’s. I use shotwell or digikam to download photos/videos from the cameras. I use gmusicbrowser or rhythmbox or amarok or miro or guayadeque for music. I use VLC or smplayer for video. I use clipgrab to download you tube videos. I use calibre or FBReader for e-books. I use openoffice writer or textmaker for multiple page writing. I use abiword or calligra for short compositions. I use liferea for news feeds and podcasts and blog reading (it collects and displays all of my blogs/news feeds/podcasts on one screen, downloads/updates them all, and I select which one to view – all on one screen). I use firefox most of the time for my web browsing. Thunderbird for e-mail/calendar. I have skype – never used it. I use openoffice for spreadsheet and presentations. I use all of these at least once a week. Most, I will use daily, if not several times a day. I am sure Windows has similar programs, but I like my price tag better – free. And legal!

Bibletime/Xiphos has about 55 Bible versions in English, 24 commentaries, 3 devotionals, 22 lexicons and dictionaries, and 15 books. I did not knowingly find any muslim, hindi, etc. I can view four plus books/Bibles/commentaries/etc. at a time. It is easy to use.

ClipGrab is for You Tube/Vimeo/etc. I enter a name or an address. Hit enter. It searches the internet/You Tube for what I have entered. It displays 8 to 10 thumbnails. I select and it goes to the download screen. It locates the video. It then asks: “Grab this clip”. I click that tab and it asks me where to save it to. I set that. It downloads the video to that location, on my computer. I watch it when I want to. I think there could be some improvement to the program. It isn’t perfect on searching and will only display one page of thumbnails. I would like more on some searchesand more info while downloading. It is a hit 97% to 99% of the time. Windows may have something that works better, but it won’t beat the price! I have a little more at the end of a recent post.

Calibre. I like to read e-books. Calibre will download e-books, newspapers, magazines, PDF's, etc. from all over the world. For English, there are 443 entries. Plus, there are 2 Argentina English, 9 Australia English, 1 Bulgaria English, 30 Canada English, 5 China English, 23 India English, 42 UK English, etc. There are about 29 other countries with English downloads. Not all are free. The Wall Street Journal has two entries. One is paid, the other is free (excerpts - headlines with the first paragraph or two). If you want Croatian reading, they have 9 entries. Arabic has 4 entries. Basque has 1 entry. German has 99 entries. Hebrew has 6. Japanese has 20. Irish has 1 (not English - Irish). Marathi has 1. Polish has 182. Spanish has 69. But, there are Argentina, Bolivia,and 11 other Spanish (including Cuba - 2). Tagalog has 1. Turkish has 39. Unknown has 9 (including Klipme, Korben, wallabag, Zerocalcare, etc.). Don't ask me! And many other major and minor countries. You can set up automatic downloads (if your computer will be on). It will convert e-book formats for you. EPUB, Modi, AZW3. It can download books, periodicals, etc. from numerous sources.

miro - Miro Player                                                                                                                      
Internet TV player with integrated RSS and BitTorrent functionality. This is not tested or supported by ROSA. I don’t have this installed right now. It has a native link to view TED Talks. Too busy to view TED lately.

Guayadeque is a music management program designed for all music enthusiasts. It is Full Featured Linux media player that can easily manage large collections and uses the Gstreamer media framework. It will play mp3, ogg, flac, wma, wav, mpc, mp4, ape, … I particularly like this for Venice Classic Radio out of Venice, Italy. It is the best Classical station I have found.
OpenOffice and TextMaker are like Microsoft Office Word. They are quite indepth and powerful. I do my writing in one of these. I then save it to my computer. I then copy it and paste it into thunderbird and e-mail it to Fiona. She proof reads, edits, rewrite, adds photos, etc. before posting it. She makes me look a lot better than me. You don’t get to see the real me – warts and all. And my many thanks to her for her help. (Maybe she is just trying to hide the real me?)

Computers are computers. They are nothing but hardware. The operating system tells it how to work. The computer will not work without an operating system. It is just a high priced paperweight without an OS. It is like a gun with no ammo. Windows is an OS. So is Linux, Apple’s iOS and/or Mac OS, BSD, UNIX, etc. This site has a more complete list of OS’s:  Old timers can go back to Unisys, Wang, Univac, Tandy, Texas Instruments, Nintendo, NCR, IBM, Intel Honeywell, Google, General Electric, Fujitsu, Amiga, and a whole bunch of other OS’s. Linux is my ammo of choice!

Linux and Windows are like cars. Windows is like an automatic. It is what most people have and are comfortable with. Linux is a five speed manual. Most people don’t have it and don’t want it and don’t know how to use it. Their choice. Automatics cost more. Windows costs more. Linux (and manual’s) are more versatile and powerful. You have more control. But they are harder to learn. And most people avoid them. But, like a manual transmission, you will never learn until you take your time and learn to use it. And then, you look back and say: “that wasn’t so bad”. It can be real frustrating, like a manual transmission, when you are learning. And, like a manual transmission, it is not for everyone. Some will stick with their higher priced automatics. (I am old and out of touch – I assume automatics are still more expensive!)

Anyway, most of you are locked into Windows and its system and expenses. You won’t or can’t switch. I just wanted to let you know what is out there and that some people are switching. This is what I moved to years ago. And I am extremely happy with what I have. And so are most of you. By the way, android phones, set top boxes, appliances, gadgets, etc. are linux “appliances”. They are run on a variant of linux. Linux permits this, Windows doesn’t.

Whether you are in a Windows world, Apple world, a linux world, or somewhere else, we hope God is still smiling on you and at what you are doing.

Ralph and Fiona

PS: I guess I need to apologize to you for the test question at the end of the “input needed” post. Did you get it right? Did you not see the question? Do you need to go back and review? It was in the mosquito note. Oh, alright. I’ll go ahead and give you the correct answer. This really is an old one. Moses never took anything aboard the Ark. Noah did. Gotcha!!! You weren’t paying attention! We love you anyway.

The Frost is on The....

It is a beautiful morning. God has provided. The sun has just come up. It is the beginning of a new day - it is the first day of the rest of our lives. If you need to change your life, today is the day. You won’t get a better day. No excuses will be accepted. The temperature is 27 degrees F. The fog is sitting on the river and the park to our south. We are up above the fog. There are no clouds - just a clear, beautiful sky. God does provide. We just need to accept, believe, or just open our eyes.

I just finished giving the poultry feed and water. They are healthy and alive with energy. They are friendly, even more so this morning. Or am I just seeing, observing, more so? Oscar, the hop along rooster, came hopping up to me for me to pick up and talk with. We enjoy our morning conversations! He seems to not realize he is handicapped. He accepts his lot in life and makes the most of it. And just goes on with his life the best he can. No complaining. He just seems to always be happy (if that is possible for a rooster).

Spike came up. I reached over to give that turkey his morning rub. He is a chocolate tom. His back was white. He roosts on the back deck railing. Outside. And the frost had settled onto his back. His back was frost covered. He is just over a year old. Other than me, he is top turkey around here. Maybe he thought I had some more potato wedges for him.

We went out the other day. I picked up some potato wedges for the poultry. They expect a treat when we get back home. I sit in the car seat, facing out, and fed them little pieces of potato wedges. Spike came up to make sure he got his share. They eat from our fingers. The two momma hens brought the swarm up for treats. Even they are being trained to come up for goodies. And the barn cats thought they deserved some, too. Everyone has their place and, for the most part, observes their position and lot in life, and get along.

On spike and his white back, when God designed birds, He sure did a good job. When frost settles on a bird with a 101 degree F. temperature and it doesn’t melt, that is good insulation. Back in the spring, we had a freezing rain. The turkeys were covered in icicles. They tinkled when they walked. Lilac was so bad, we had to take her inside to melt the icicles. Everyone was fine. Even freezing rain wasn’t as much of a problem as it had first appeared.

I am getting old and senile. I need retraining. I forgot to check the nightly low. At 27 degrees F., it is going to be below freezing for a while. That means the waterers will freeze up. Duh! Guess what, the waterers are froze up. I should have brought them in so they didn’t freeze. I didn’t. But, it isn’t that big of a deal this morning. I sit them in the sun. The sun is strong this morning, In a half hour, they will be ready to use. I could have used running water, but no need. The sun will do the job.

Sometimes, I think I am a flower, a blooming idiot! It was going down to 22 last week. So, I emptied the waterers and washed them and laid them over on the ground to drain and dry. The next morning (at 22 degrees F.), they were frozen to the ground. I had to peel them off the ground. And, of course, they had a big bunch of grass and dirt frozen solid to the side of the waterers! Not good. I had to work in water at 22 degrees F. to clean the waterers, fill them and put them where they were suppose to be. An hour later, it was above freezing and everything was back to normal. But, if I had filled them and sit them inside, I would have not had all that trouble. What is that about those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it? I think I did the same thing last year. Being senile can be a joy. When you continually make a mistake, it is like the first time. Every time is the first time. History does repeat itself!

Don’t take life so seriously! You are just like me. We just aren’t that important in the overall scheme of things. We can only live our own lives. Make the most of it! Enjoy it. Life goes on. Oscar is a good example. And, “Take time to smell the roses”! Otherwise, all you will smell is flatulence.

Our prayer for today: That God will help you enjoy the little things in life that He provides, as well as the bigger things. He really is everywhere!

Ralph and Fiona

PS: It just got to 40 degrees F., I am going out to finish my chores. The temperature rose fast this morning. It is suppose to go to 58 today and down to 44 tonight (rain coming in). The waterers won't freeze up tonight!