18 months since I jumped: An update on healing

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I am able to recognize my blessings each day and be grateful for all I have and have hope for continued blessings in my future!

Greetings from a highly improved me!   It has been eighteen months since I jumped (abruptly discontinued) from taking Ativan 1mg daily after tapering from taking Ativan 3mg daily. I tapered over the duration of two years. My severe detox and withdrawals period was exacerbated by the fact that I had jumped off Oxycodone 10mg only two months prior to stopping the Ativan.  I had tapered off a daily dose of 45mg-90mg over a 2 year period.   What had started in 2010 as a prescription for Percocet 5/325 one every 6 hours as needed for pain, grew until it became a monster in my life that ate all the goodness up. It was just one of the numerous medications that I was prescribed over two and a half decades.

From my records dating 2010 until the fall of 2017 I had 19 pharmaceuticals prescribed to take on a daily basis. Many of them for longer than the recommendations written in those little tiny informational packets you get sometimes with a bottle of pills. Many of them were also prescribed for things other than what they were originally created to treat. Off label uses.  My PCP (Primary Care Providor) also had recommended numerous over the counter medications and supplements as well.

 

                                                                I can smile so much easier these days 
I had been quite aware of the perils of addiction as I have personally witnessed and experienced it in my life in many forms and throughout many experiences.  My own addiction (maladaptive coping mechanism for suffering) was gambling. I knew what it felt like to not only crave something, but would go to great lengths to have that need fulfilled.

That is NOT how the medications were for me. I was dependent upon them. I took them as prescribed. I was trying to check IN to life. I was trying to find a way around the pain (both physical and emotional) so that I could participate in life. Yet the conditions continued to mount until the amount of medications my PCP prescribed became toxic! They didn’t work anymore.  In fact, some of them created a paradoxical effect, causing the exact symptom they were meant to treat.

When I recognized that the use of all these chemicals was harming me more than they were helping, I knew it was time to make radical changes in how I was managing (or letting my PCP manage) my health. I took back the reigns and sought a different path
It wasn’t really a conscious choice, embarking on the journey through the hell I have been through.  It was simply the act of starting a forward movement towards change by doing just one thing differently. Then it grew to more things differently. Things like spending a lot more time outdoors. Activities such as interacting with animals and being creative with a camera. Making very conscious choices in what I put into my body. Eliminating as much negativity as I could. Yet, there were still struggles as I didn’t know all that I would face along this journey.

No one had warned me that there was a possibility that I could have psychotic episodes coming off these medications. No one had warned me that I could reach tolerance and have paradoxical effects like a severe case of insomnia that lasted for 20 years. Only now, after being off every single medication for 40 days, am I beginning to have occasional bouts of normal sleep. No one told me about excruciating bone pain that left me curled up and rocking and crying on my mattress. No one told me of the incessant need to move, the rocking and bouncing legs and full body restlessness that was exhausting and robbed me of any rest for my ravaged body and brain. No one prepared me for how shunned I would feel and how that would further the crippling agoraphobia and paranoia so that I could not tell who I could or could not trust. This further complicated the entire process.
No one else knew how bad this would be either. I know now that there was NO one in my life anywhere close to prepared for the wild and horrifying symptoms and behaviors this would create.  It was terrifying to go through and I can imagine it was scary as hell to watch! In fact, knowing many others who have endured the hell I have, some even worse, I know that very few people in the world have been prepared to be of any assistance for someone going through this type of severe and lengthy mental and physical anguish.
That first year was a doozy! Fraught with the loss of health and home and any stability I believed I had, pretty much everything was gone in my life! Friends, family, belongings, any sense of dignity was gone.  I was robbed of all hope by the Benzodiazepine demons that lived in my head. All I did was bounce where the winds took me, trying to protect myself from me, and from others who were ill-equipped to be of any help.

Unfortunately, sometimes due to their lack of understanding or skill, those I most hoped would help were only able to add to the pain and suffering by their responses and reactions to me.   Those that truly care would have done different if they had known how.  I believe this is true for all of us suffering from this.  Yet they are the ones who just mostly stood by and watched and felt helpless. They had nothing to offer except recognizing the pain was there.  Today I can feel bad for their experience in watching all of this hell.

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This last 6 months I have turned a corner. I can feel it internally and others have commented on it externally. I have been more focused on myself and finding healing and seeking the path to wellness than ever before in my entire life.  The tools and skills and interactions and experiences I have participated in have helped me have a sense of acceptance and peace.  I truly feel more equipped to deal with whatever life may bring to me from here on forward.   More than ever before in my life I have a sense of direction and purpose.
I still have much work to do. Both of my current therapists are recommending intensive treatment for Complex PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) including modalities such as ACT (Acceptance and Commitment therapy), CBT (cognitive behavior therapy), and EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). Both of them say it is imperative for me to do this work for complete healing and the ability to get past the things that haunt me regardless how much I try to not let them.
I personally have taken it upon myself to learn life skills that I have found are helping me tremendously. I have adopted the practice of meditation. I meditate at least once daily, but usually twice a day. MY meditation is very much connected to my spiritual practice and prayer time. I also do Conscious breathing, utilizing a timer to just stop and breath once an hour. These skills have reduced my anxiety tremendously and are excellent for staying in the moment which is so necessary for those with PTSD.  I eat at least an 80/20 whole foods diet, primarily organic in nature and from sources as local as possible.

Since the New Year I also have been working on having the habits of movement (exercise) and drinking more water daily. I have also begun light jogging. This I am doing still with living under the fact of pain is in my life. I have nerve pain in my feet that is non-stop 24/7. I also have pretty severe back and neck pain. Yet after a 10 week-long session at a pain clinic, I have learned some wonderful new ways of looking at pain and living with it. This is why I now am more encouraged and hopeful than I have been in an extremely long time. I feel very empowered.

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Yet I still need help. I am still homeless. I still have no vehicle.  I am still awaiting a determination on my most recent filing for Social Security Disability. I still have a couple of years ahead of me doing some really difficult personal therapies. I still have limited energy and endurance.
After careful consideration, counseling with others, and making efforts to find stability and a place to live and work both where I am and where I last came from, I have decided to go back to S. Oregon.  I have more work I can do there than I have been able to find here.  I ran an ad and I have already booked 3 house-sitting gigs. I also have a couple of clients that want me to do periodic light work around their properties (gardening and housekeeping type chores). I have a friend who has offered me the use of her trailer for 11 months, and I have a couple of possibility of places to put it in exchange for helping on a person’s property either with care taking or with farm type chores.  I am willing and able to do this. It won’t be enough to get ahead, but I will have a roof over my head and some security for at least that time period.

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I have been offered a trailer like this to use for about 11 months if I can get a secure place to park it! High living for a modest gal like me!

What I need more than anything right now is a vehicle and maybe the first 6 months of insurance paid.  Or even the first 3 months. Then I can get to the house sitting jobs and the clients who have other chores to do. Then I can earn a few pesos each month. My goal is $600, which is 30 hours a month. I will most likely have to do that many hours again where ever I end up parking the trailer in exchange for rent.  That works out to about fifteen hours weekly of being up and moving and doing some sort of physical activity.  15 hours a week is about all I can do without being where I can lie down and rest intermittently.
I know I will keep improving as I continue to do the habits I’ve created and use the tools I have obtained. I know my energy will increase as I continue to lower the stress of dealing with PTSD through the time invested in treatment and as my body continues to heal from the damages done by the medications I took for too long!


I also am involved with Vocational Rehabilitation.   They are going to help me pursue the reinstatement of my nursing license. It is my short-term goal to utilize my nursing license in creating a health and wellness mentor and coaching business. I believe I have a vast amount of knowledge and experience that can be used to help many others who live with physical and emotional pain. I believe my new-found enthusiasm and gratitude for a new opportunity can encourage and inspire others to pursue their truest selves! I have been a helper and have had a healing nature throughout my life. Now that my true self (not drugged by pharmaceuticals) is re-emerging stronger than ever, I trust that God and the Universe will allow my best self to help others possibly find their way out of suffering too!

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Participating in an online Health and Wellness coaching program. It is self directed and self paced. Perfect for me right now. As well as it is FREE!!!

I am so grateful I am still here on earth and alive. I am so grateful the benzodiazepine (and other pharmaceutical) demons did not completely destroy me. It felt like I was destroyed at times, yet here I am smiling and grateful and caring for myself….and others!

After such a dark and seemingly endless foray into the depths of psychological pain so deep I felt life wasn’t worth living, I now have hope!!!  I also am able to develop goals.  It is the first time in many years I have felt capable of even thinking of having a goal, let alone taking the necessary steps to get there.  One of my goals is to  jog/run in a 5K event the weekend of my 56th birthday.   My new walking habit inspired that goal.  I have never enjoyed running or jogging, even as a child.  Yet now, when pushing through the chronic pain, I find that I reach a point of some real clean current pain and it is a desirable experience.  Pushing past the pain to get going is worth it.  The daily steps I am taking are to keep me focused and to build my skill and strength level to reach that place of being able to complete the race.  After the race,  if I still feel it is something that is adding value to my health and life and wellness, I may try for a 10K.  It is a measurable success.  There are other goals as well so each day I purposefully do actions to bring me closer to the prize…..WELLNESS and HEALING!

I also have a great aspiration to help others like me!!! I have a big dream of someday creating a healing place (long term inpatient facility) for those like me who have suffered in their lives with DIS-ease of any kind.   People wanting to come off pharmaceuticals that have become toxic to them, especially opiates and benzodiazepines; those who suffer the consequences of addiction; those who have emotional pain that requires that they be loved on and guided and encouraged to health! I envision a place of many woods and streams and much beauty where people can rest their tired minds and bodies and take a few deep breaths for a period of time. I see gardens and animals, some of them providing companionship, others there for their food source to provide healthy nutritious meals. It will be a place where there is patience and tolerance and gentle trauma-informed guidance. People will have a time and place to explore their suffering and learn skills for finding peace and acceptance of what is.  I dream of it being a place they will also find a sense of purpose and the ability to create goals and plans for achieving them. It is a big dream. It will require a big tribe to create it. That will be a huge focus on the next portion of my journey. Creating a healing caring loving tribe that can share this vision! 🙂
oh….btw….it feels great to be able to write a bit! That is one skill that has suffered during this time and it is another sign of my healing!

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Self love is selfish

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The river runs fast and with power, 

carrying with it all the debris of the things gone wrong with it – away!

Though dark and gray the afternoon sky

There is a fresh new hope building,

as I know that after the darkness light follows!

Today was a long, enlightening, fulfilling day.  The entire day was filled with doing things to take care of myself.  The entire day.  I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned, I prepared and enjoyed healthy foods, I went to Pain Clinic (which is 3 hours of intense therapy) and then had my first visit with the psychologist and my first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) session.  I also came home and did an online  SMART Recovery meeting.  All for me.

For the last year or so pretty much everything I have done has been an concentrated effort to love myself and take care of myself.  Many view selfishness as a negative thing.  I know I used to.  Today,  I know that to love myself is the only way I am going to heal, and that is the only way I am going to have the life I deserve and desire.

It feels good.  I don’t do it perfectly.  I have probably said and done many things in ways that were less than ideal during this time.  Yet, I am evaluating it all and making every attempt to learn from it.

So what things are included in my selfish life?  What are the activities of self love?

  1.  Caring for my body by being mindful of what I put it in.  Plenty of hydration, the best food I can get with the resources I have available, resting, being mindful of anything that isn’t food or water and is it going to cause any damage.  It takes time and energy to create healthy foods to eat.
  2. Meditating has been a lifesaver.  I spend at least 10 minutes in the morning and fall asleep each night while meditating.  I purposefully choose to meditate to sleeping meditations due to a long history of insomnia.
  3. Getting fresh air has helped in so many ways.  Getting out, even if only for a 5 or 10 minute sojourn to the front porch connects me with nature.  Nature is a natural anti-depressant.
  4. Exercise.  See above.  Getting in touch with building my body back to health and connecting with the knowledge that I have a part in my health gets my mind straight.  I have begun walking 4 out of 5 days for at least one mile distance.  However long that takes is how long it takes.  I also have been doing an exercise program for 10 days now.  It also is 4 out of 5 days taking approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Mental health therapy is allowing me to process some extremely difficult situations, thought patterns and coping mechanisms as well as teaching me new tools to manage physical and emotional pain.  I currently have 2 therapists and am getting filled up with new understanding.
  6. Community.  Finding folks to hang out with and then spending time with them takes courage and time and energy.  I need to connect with others who can show me that I am not alone, that can help me with things that I can’t manage on my own and bring me a sense of belonging.
  7. Reading and learning.  I spend 30 minutes a day at the minimum to learn about something I am interested in and that will improve my lot in life or the life of another.
  8. Being of service.  Ha ha.  How is that selfish?  It is selfish in that it gives me so much joy and satisfaction that the more I do, the more I want to do.  Sharing encouraging words, finding the answer to a health question, giving support to someone struggling make me feel a part of.
  9. GRATITUDE:  Spending time each day being grateful for what is in my life at the moment is so selfish.  It is realizing what has been provided for ME!

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7 tips for managing symptoms while coming off mind altering pharmaceuticals

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This is a list of a few positive helps I’ve noticed that seem to be helping myself and others. Observing those in the groups that are coming off various medications, including Benzodiazepines, Opiates, anti-depressants and anti-psychotic has helped me learn. These observations are not scientific in nature and I have nothing to back them up except from what I’ve observed and experienced myself.
This list is not comprehensive in nature. Each individual observed may have been doing one or many of the listed actions in helping themselves manage their symptoms through detox and withdrawal.
These are the actions that folks are taking that seem to help them MANAGE their symptoms better. WE are unable to control them and time is a big factor. This list is things you can do NOW to help yourselves.

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1. Get outdoors!!! Even if it’s only to sit on your front porch and feel the sunbeams on your face or smell the fresh rain that just dropped or to shiver in the snow. Increase the duration over time. Maybe after successfully sitting on the porch for a week, you can walk to the mailbox the next week and then complete the activity by still sitting on the porch for 5 minutes. My personal experience with this was that, over time, I went further and further and felt so much better each time I got out to walk! Fresh air is crucial and this activity will also give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

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2. Exercise. As noted above, it starts small. Walking back and forth to the mailbox. Then walk to the end of the block and back. Then around the block. You get the idea. Mild exercise is excellent for boosting mood and for helping break the trail of lies our mind tells us that we are too sick. Yes, we are sick, but nearly every person is capable of doing something to stretch and strengthen their body! I personally have been trying Yoga and Qi-Gong and find them very helpful for me.

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3. Eat clean and stay away from sugars, gluten (I eliminated all grains), processed foods and many are sensitive to dairy. I personally eat a diet consisting of local and organicially grown meats and eggs and vegetables. When folks say they can’t afford to eat organic I remind them, I don’t do Starbucks, sodas, fast food, and I have no vices. Food is fuel for my body and it ranks high on the budget. Eat nutrient dense foods and you will feel better. Check out the book “It starts with Food”.

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4. Find a support group or a supportive group of folks you can talk with and be authentic with. This is probably the hardest, as our minds tell us we aren’t worth anything and we feel so brain damaged. Yet, those who are most functional have peeps! I go to a variety of support groups and have found a family that way. I highly recommend Refuge Recovery. It is a Buddhist based recovery program for ANYONE who is suffering. While many of us do not in any way fit the description of addict, we were dependent on our medication and not having it anymore creates huge anxiety within us. These supportive groups can be a place to learn coping mechanisms and learn tools at managing emotions.

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5. Don’t take supplements or OTC remedies. Each pharmaceutical that is touted to help one symptom has at least 2 if not more toxic potentials. I personally am not completely against all pharmaceuticals, but reaching for one every time something doesn’t feel good is not a healthy solution.

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6. Learn coping mechanisms. Regardless the reason you were started on one of the medications I listed above, it has left you with a state of anxiety and various other symptoms. Those who are practicing meditation, working with a therapist, reading books on emotional regulation or some sort of personal responsibility for managing their emotions seem to fair better over time. While it may not eliminate the symptoms, it will alleviate them.

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7. Find acceptance for the situation and have patience. The days and weeks will pass (for some months and years) but we can’t change that. Accepting it lessens the fight. There is much to be said for time. It does heal so much.

I truly hope for each that these tips are encouraging. They are things you can DO to make yourself feel better. They are things that YOU can do for YOU! We must be kind to ourselves through this process. We didn’t ask for it, but we still have to learn to maneuver it. We can’t control it either, but we can manage some of the symptoms. That is what this list is for, some management tools that I have seen helping those who are healing and moving forward.
Peace and Namaste

 

The greenhouse film gets put on the frame!

The film was placed and now it's time to start GROWING.

The film was placed and now it’s time to start GROWING.

I am finally back amongst the living after 10 days of fighting a horrible bug.  I suffered nearly every symptom you can imagine with a viral sickness.  Aches and pains for a few days.  Sore throat and post nasal drip took  over for a day or two.  Headache and some nausea and vomiting visited for a day and a half.  An unproductive tight cough for a few days was bothersome.  Throughout all of it I was weighed down with an overwhelming exhaustion.  I spent almost all of my time in bed.

There are blossoms on all the fruit trees.  Many were pruned over the weekend and so I will soon have lovely bouquets of blossoms in my home!

There are blossoms on all the fruit trees. Many were pruned over the weekend and so I will soon have lovely bouquets of blossoms in my home!

 

Today has been the first day that I really felt good on all counts.  I woke up hurting so I took my medication as my NP suggested.  If I take it, I don’t hurt so bad.  I know that.  I still am working on the resentments about needing to take it, as well as it costs money and I don’t like some of the side effects.  But I did take it and dozed back off for about an hour and when I woke up I felt pretty good.  I got out of bed, dressed, and started moving!  A quick tidy up and out the door I went.

Garlic is coming up nicely!

Garlic is coming up nicely!

I had made the decision that I am going to try eating 100% gluten and dairy free for at least 2 weeks and take all my supplements every day (pills…I just have a hard time taking them every day) as well as use my medication as it has been suggested (I never take nearly enough) and see if I notice any improvements in my various health issues.  I have enlisted my friends to hold me accountable.   It’s not that I don’t want to do it, it’s just that I know from previous life experiences with making lifestyle changes, having accountability is a good reinforcement for me.

That meant heading to the Farmer’s Market to load up on fresh fruits and veggies.  I am well stocked in all my other things.  I even have things in the pantry to attempt baking some gluten-free bread!  But I was pretty low of leafy greens and perishable veggies.

Lulu came to grocery shop during the girls snack time.  She was going one way and Honey the other like they didn't even know one another.  They see each other every day!

Lulu came to grocery shop during the girls snack time. She was going one way and Honey the other like they didn’t even know one another. They see each other every day!

Once I got home E informed me that two friends would be arriving shortly to put up the greenhouse film!  YAY!  It was delivered while I was on my trip to The Dalles and E has been working on the frame to have it all prepared.  Today was the day.  I was grateful I was feeling so good and said I would do a few chores and be down to help when the others arrived.

Donna is checking things out and Patch is watching his flock.

Donna is checking things out and Patch is watching his flock.

Everyone started showing up and wanted to see the chicks.  I decided I wanted to let my little girls (I think one of them is a roo actually) have some sunshine time.  I have created a playpen for them to get outdoors for a little bit during the warmer afternoons.   That gets me outside, even on days I am struggling. E asked if I would take a couple of theirs out too.  I was happy to comply with his request.  Everyone helped with the transport of 7 chicks out to the play area and then we headed up the hill.  But not before quite a few pictures were taken.

This is one of my Speckled Sussex.  I think this may be a roo.  They are 5 weeks old now.  So adorable.

This is one of my Speckled Sussex. I think this may be a roo. They are 5 weeks old now. So adorable.

Pumpkin is very inquisitive and Patch is so calm.  I love watching the dogs with the chicks.

Pumpkin is very inquisitive and Patch is so calm. I love watching the dogs with the chicks.

We used ropes and had them tied at intervals and then threw them over the frame and gently and as a team pulled it over the top and to the other side.  It went quite well.  No one got lift off with the few wind gusts we had occasionally blowing through.

This place will be like Fort Knox.  Very tight.  It has been reinforced at every connection and is extremely sturdy.  Good job E!

This place will be like Fort Knox. Very tight. It has been reinforced at every connection and is extremely sturdy. Good job E!

The metal frame is being bolted into the wood frame supports.

The metal frame is being bolted into the wood frame supports.

I loved these bolts.  The drilled right throught the metal and wood!

I loved these bolts. The drilled right through the metal and wood!

The film unrolled and laid out ready for installation!

The film unrolled and laid out ready for installation!

The film is in place and secured on the sides.  The ends will be finished up later by E.

The film is in place and secured on the sides. The ends will be finished up later by E.

 

The method used to secure it to the frame was wonderful.  E had attached 2×4’s all along the outer wall at about 2 1/2 feet off the ground on both sides.  To this he attached a metal frame using these nifty bolts that drill right through the frame and wood.  I can’t remember what they were called.  I will have to ask again.

This contracption is so neat.  Can you see the way it is formed and then you just tuck it and wiggle it back and forth into place.  Slick!

This contraption is so neat. Can you see the way it is formed and then you just tuck it and wiggle it back and forth into place. Slick!

This shows it better.  E had to cut off some pieces.  The lengths were longer than the 2x4's.

This shows it better. E had to cut off some pieces. The lengths were longer than the 2×4’s.

 

 

The neatest tool/materials we used was wiggle wire.  Yep, that is what it is called.  And the person who invented it is wiggling themselves all the way to the bank.  The wire has been formed into this shape that fits into the frame and then you “wiggle” it into place and it holds wonderfully!  And you can remove it easily if you want to roll up your sides for ventilation.  Both of us girls working today loved doing the wiggle wire.  It was fun.

The bottom edges were rolled around landscape poles and nailed into the ground with 10 and 12 inch nails.  It looked so pretty when it was all nailed down.  E has plans on putting a window/fan on the North end of it and making a doorway on the South end.  I am happy to let him work out those details.  I want to get in there and get things back in order and start PLANTING!!!!!  I am so excited.  I have never had such an arena as this to garden at my leisure and enjoyment.  I just know this summer is going to be awesome.

After we were all done I still was feeling energetic and so I tidied up the coop some, hosed off the patio and then moved the last 1/2 cord of my firewood to a new site right outside the back door.  I am hoping to clean up some of the things that have been discarded around the barn so I can create a nice outdoor environment where I can hang out on a sunny summer day.  I don’t care that the girls free ranging all the time means there is poo everywhere.  I can still make things look nice.

My 2+ cords has dwindled to less than 1/2 a cord.  Time to tidy up.

My 2+ cords has dwindled to less than 1/2 a cord. Time to tidy up.

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I finished up around 5:30pm.  I had been going since 9:30am.   I haven’t had a day like this in months as far as I can remember.  Mind you, I had lots of breaks where I would check on the chickens or go take a few more photos of the chicks or just watching others work.  But I was up and out of bed and active for a full day and it felt wonderful.

I have no idea what they were up to but first Grandma got up there, then Winnie.  Teasing the ones on the ground?  Who knows!  They do what they choose....all day.

I have no idea what they were up to but first Grandma got up there, then Winnie. Teasing the ones on the ground? Who knows! They do what they choose….all day.

I had a dinner of leftovers.  I had cooked a Pork Loin and some taters and steamed apples on Saturday when my guy came for dinner.  It was heated up in no time and tasted delicious.  I also had the other 8 ounces of freshly juiced fruits and veggies that I had made for my breakfast this morning.  I have had no gluten, dairy, or sugar all day!

M bought 6 gallon buckets of heather to plant.  She wants to fill one of the hillsides with all kinds of heather.  Summer and winter blooming.  SO pretty.

M bought 6 gallon buckets of heather to plant. She wants to fill one of the hillsides with all kinds of heather. Summer and winter blooming. SO pretty.

I had made a fire because it was a bit chilly and then took a long soak in the tub.  I was in bed by 8pm.  Tired.  From moving.  From working.  It felt so good.  Just for today I felt really good.  I’ll take that.

Thank you God for a lovely day.  A day of work.   A day of productivity.  You know my heart’s desire to work, and I thank you for the gift of work today.

It is a Chickie kind of day!

I am writing this much after the fact. A week after the fact to be precise. I was so excited last Friday because it was the scheduled day for baby chicks!!! M&E had approached me about a month before saying they were getting 35 baby chicks and if I wanted babies it would be best for us all to get them at the same time. That is, if we were going to house them all together for their start. Then their plans changed as they had a funeral to attend to and so they had to put off getting theirs for a few days.  I didn’t want to wait! So, I decided I could manage my few on my own.

I found a plastic tote, lined it with foam contact paper (so they wouldn’t slip) and stuck in the lids from jars for water and food. I safely secured a red heat lamp above it. I was ready to head to town to pick up my charges.

My chicks first home!

My chicks first home!

But first, I have a couple more chores to do at home. I converted a 5 gallon bucket into a nipple waterer for the coop. I had been wanting to do this. The old waterer broke when we had all the freezing weather. Then the setup I was using was so messy and nasty I couldn’t stand it. This is going to be so much nicer for keeping the coop dry and the waterer clean.

Drilled 3 holes, added 3 nipples and ready to hang!

Drilled 3 holes, added 3 nipples and ready to hang!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I also gave Grammy’s boots a new pair of shoelaces. These boots are over 40 years old…and they still are comfortable and keep my feet dry and sturdy when hiking around the property. I’ll save the old shoelaces and add them to my tote in the truck for emergencies! I also took my walk before heading to town and went almost 2 miles~!

Grammy's boots with new laces...good as new even after 40 years!

Grammy’s boots with new laces…good as new even after 40 years!

Of course if I go to town it means I have to do my grocery shopping and visit a few folks. With gas prices what they are I try to make my miles work for me. It is 25 miles just to get to town. First stop is to get some juices and easy foods for my friend who has been sick with the bug going around. He has not felt well for a couple days now and so I will get juice, sierra mist, crackers and some chicken soup for him.

After a little visit with my friend I went to Cartwright’s meat market. Every friday they have these great little bacon wrapped sirloin steaks for $3.79 each. Limit of 6. I had them wrap me up 3 separate packages with 2 steaks each in them. Not much else is really grabbing my eye so then I’m off to the Farmer’s Market. I needed some oranges and onions and a couple lemons. I’m almost out of my lemon/ginger/honey elixir that I keep in the fridge. Fresh greens, some mushrooms and a loaf of seeded whole wheat sourdough from Ashland Bakery. Now off to the grange.

I was grinning ear to ear upon arriving in the parking lot. I was so excited to be getting my first chicks. I checked in with the counter and told them I was going to gather a few supplies before I picked out my girls. I got some chick food, electrolytes and probiotics to add to the water, a small feeder and waterer and an extra light set-up, just in case. And of course, a thermometer. Now the fun part, choosing my girls. I was set up to get 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes and 2 Speckled Sussex. Of course, I had got the week wrong and the Sussex aren’t going to be here until next week (which is today). I got the 2 SLW and decided I needed one more to help them stay warm (right….one more is going to make a difference…it’s my rationale and I’m sticking to it). I picked out a pretty little Welsummer. They have pretty big brown eggs and I only have one Welsummer, so now I’ll have a pair! I like pairs. 🙂  I paid for all my supplies and chicks with egg money.

Egg money pays for the chicks and supplies.  My girls are paying their way and then some!!!

Egg money pays for the chicks and supplies. My girls are paying their way and then some!!!

Off we go to home.

I got everything unloaded and the chicks settled into their little plastic home. Such cute little fluffy butts! They make the cutest little chirpy noises and they peck and stretch their legs and wings and lie down and look dead! Yes…they will lie on their sides all stretched out and if I wouldn’t have seen her breathing, I would have thought she was dead. But not dead…just sleeping. Which is what I needed to do! It has been a busy day and I have enjoyed all of it!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Saturday morning was a bright sunny day. My girls had survived the night. The temperature has stayed right around 93 degrees. They are eating and drinking and chirping and doing chicken stuff! They are so adorable. As are my full grown girls. I decided to go out for a walk and visit with the other animals on this gorgeous sunny Saturday. Spring is coming! The cows are a bit amourous…pretty frisky actually. In fact…this could be x-rated. Part of farm living. The smells, sounds and sights. If ya can’t handle it, you best not move to the country. Animals copulate. Yup! Sex. Right out in the open. They don’t care who is around and what is going on. Just leave them alone and they will do their thing. Even tho these cows are only little Dexter’s and weight much less than a full size cow…I am not going to get in the way of their efforts to poplulate the pasture! No one else is either. The sheep don’t pay any attention nor do the chickens. Over the course of an hour Mr. Cow was very loving to Mrs. Cow! Cow courtship is cute.

Cow courtship...awwwww...he is in LUST!!!

Cow courtship…awwwww…he is in LUST!!!

I have soups to make. I had bought mushrooms with the intention of making the mushroom soup I had before, but I also wanted to make a chicken soup. I used this recipe http://theshiksa.com/2010/11/03/mushroom-barley-soup/ for my base. This soup is really yummy. I didn’t have shitake mushrooms, so I used baby portebellas. To conserve my energy and fuel for cooking I started both soups with the same base. This is how it went down.

Sliced, diced, chopped and ready to be seared in the pan!!!

Sliced, diced, chopped and ready to be seared in the pan!!!

The mushroom soup got started in my dutch oven on the stove. I put 1 quart of chicken broth, 1 quart of water and 2 teaspoons chicken broth granules in the pot with 2 bay leaves and 1 cup of barley and let boil on low with the lid off.

In my slow cooker I placed 1 cup of wild rice, 1 quart of chicken stock and 1 quart of water and 2 teaspoons chicken stock granules and turned on low and simmered for 2 hours.

I cut the portebella’s into slices and placed them in 3 cups of water and boiled for minute and then let them soak as described in the recipe.

The base for both soups:

1 cup celery diced
4 cups carrot diced
6 cloves garlic chopped
1 1/2 cups onion chopped

I cooked all the veggies how “The Shiksa” describes in the mushroom soup recipe in my cast iron skillet. I drained the portebella’s and chopped them fine and added them just like described for the shitakes. Then all the mushroom water got added. I poured 2/3 of the veggie mixture and almost all of the liquid into the dutch oven. The other 1/3 of the mixture went into the slow cooker.

This smells great.  Carmelized veggies for soup pots!!!  Yummy.

This smells great. Carmelized veggies for soup pots!!! Yummy.

I then cooked the crimini mushrooms as described and added them to the mushroom soup mixture with a little salt and pepper to taste. I had to add a total of 2 1/2 cups of water to this as it cooked over a period of 2 hours.

2/3 and all the juice into the mushroom pot, the rest into the Chicken soup pot.

2/3 and all the juice into the mushroom pot, the rest into the Chicken soup pot.

Into the crock pot went 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1 tablespoon tomatoe paste, 1 can diced tomatoes and a package of spinach. A large pinch (teaspoon) of basil and 1/2 teas salt and pepper. I let this cook on low overnight.

The chicken soup is ready to cook!  Slow cooker yumminess!

The chicken soup is ready to cook! Slow cooker yumminess!

Both soups turned out wonderful. While they were cooking I make some more of my honey/lemon/ginger elixir for the cold season. I decided to try some of the suggestions I”ve seen, and one jar got a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon added to it. The other jar received 3 cloves of garlic sliced into the mix. I will try both. I somehow managed to also get a pan of brownies baked while all this was going on. By the time I was all done with the dishes and the stove and oven were all turned off I could tell I was getting sick! A big spoonful of honey elixir, some airbornne, and a big jug of water and off to bed I went.

Honey/lemon/ginger elixir.  One with cinnamon, one with garlic.  I am ready for whatever comes!

Honey/lemon/ginger elixir. One with cinnamon, one with garlic. I am ready for whatever comes!

I was grateful I had got all these things cooked up. As it turns out, I spent the next 4 days in bed and the soup and elixir were perfect! My appetite was not at all affected by my virus. I was so grateful to have healthy foods ready to eat, because I did not have the energy to prepare them. It was a heat and eat week, all the while watching and listening to and enjoying my new baby chicks.

The first of my chicks.  I have a feeling there will be many more chicks in my future!

The first of my chicks. I have a feeling there will be many more chicks in my future!

The speckled Sussex are in! Time for a trip to town. This time I don’t want to come home and get sick! Just a nice trip to town to get my chicks and stock up on a few items that got used up over the week. Hoping you enjoyed the soups!