Thursday, May 31, 2007


Kern High School District Continuation Schools 2007 Graduates

It's that time of year. The end of May, the beginning of June; graduations. The end of one of life's installments, the beginning of a new installment.

Yesterday was no exception. Although technically she graduated two weeks ago, yesterday was Carli's graduation ceremony. Originally she hadn't wanted to attend the ceremony but something or someone changed her mind and she signed up.

For the last year and a half she had been attending Vista West High School. It's what's called a "continuation high school". When both the kids were younger and we drove past the school on busy Rosedale Highway we used to joke around that it was a school for "bad kids".

You know, that's the school where the dope addicts, truants, criminals-in-training, and this-close-to-dropping-out kids go. Kind of a last-chance-to-get-a-diploma-rather-than-GED kind of school.

Oops. Never thought one of our kids would be going to a school for "bad kids".

Carli ended up going there because she was a "stage two of four" truant. She was behind on her credits and seemed very angry. She didn't like many of her teachers and didn't seem to like a lot of the other kids either. Vista West was her last chance.

Turns out it was a "good thing." She didn't know any of the kids at her new school so she stuck to herself. Nobody bothered her and so she didn't bother anyone else. A lot of her old "friends" from her previous school began showing their true colors when they started getting into trouble. That made it easy to stay away from them. The credit system is a little different so she was able to earn the credits she needed to graduate at a slightly accelerated rate.

The ceremony was to take place at 3 pm. It was to be held in the borrowed auditorium of a "real" high school downtown. Five continuation schools from around the county would be sharing their graduation ceremony. The smallest had only three graduates.

We sat somewhere near the back and the graduates filed in promptly at 3:00. I hoped the zoom on my new camera would work. As the proceedings carried on I looked around. It seemed my husband and I were the only "normal" people there. Maybe my perceptions of the continuation schools had been correct to begin with. People were carrying on conversations while the speakers were trying to give their speeches. The class representatives (they didn't have valedictorians or anything like that) could barely stumble through their speeches.

My zoom worked pretty well. And the "trim" feature does too!

Maybe I'm just getting old. I don't remember this type of disrespect in my time. People these days just seem to be really rude, crude, and obnoxious. To me it's okay if it's in the privacy of your own home, but not in public.

Finally, the students walked across the stage to get their diplomas. The majority of them were fine, but there were a few that thought they had to put on a show for friends and family. One of the speakers talked about the possibility of this class containing future doctors, lawyers, maybe even a future president. Not from what I saw. They have a lot of serious growing up to do first.

Okay, kids, time to join the real world. I sincerely hope they all become productive, successful, happy citizens. Sooner, rather than later.

So far, I know at least one kid that has.

Congratulations, Carli!

New graduate and her BFF Brooke, aka Bean Dip

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day 2007 Vacation

We're back from our family reunion/vacation. Only four people were missing. A son-in-law who was staying home with their very old, sick, dog; a son-in-law who stayed home with his wife, the daughter, who is "pregnant out to here" with twins; and the son who is a brand new police officer who just finished the academy and is starting his new career.

We had three nights and two full days of laughter, family, fun, fishing, drinking, you name it. The place we stayed at was a former fishing lodge. It was on the Sacramento River about 20 minutes north of Redding, CA. It was the perfect place to relax and do nothing, or go exploring, or whatever you wanted to do.

A few of the guys went fishing and caught lots of fish. Most of them were a pretty good size, about 20 inches. A few were smaller, about eight inches.

In spite of some early problems, like my husband failed to pack most of my cold food items, there was plenty of food. He left my home made bread in the freezer, so instead of french toast one morning we made scrambled eggs. I had planned on having a few lemon drop martinis but the frozen lemon juice from my tree was also left in the freezer at home. I did manage to have a couple when someone went to the store and I ordered some lemons. It wasn't as good as my meyer lemon juice, but it's probably just as well. I really didn't need all that sugar anyway.

We actually started the vacation a day early. Thursday, May 24th, was my husband's 51st birthday. We left Bakersfield around 4:30 pm and arrived in Sacramento about four hours later. Once we got settled in the hotel room the kids and I gave him his gifts. He got one Fox and one O'Neill t-shirt, and four nice Hawaiian style shirts.

The next day we went the rest of the way up to Redding. It was nice to break the trip up a little. Outside of Sacramento we drove past rice fields.

After Redding was Lake Shasta.
Then we got to the house. We played pool...

and conversed.

There were wild Bing cherry trees (a neighbor picked some for us--they were good!),

wild grapes,

and of course berries everywhere.

There was a train track between the house and the river so there were lots of trains.

There was a giant nut tree,

wild sweet peas

and other flowers.

We visited the Castle Crag State Park and got a good shot of the Crags

and Mt. Shasta.

We also visited the Sundial Pedestrian Bridge in Redding.

There was wild life...

and more trains.

Good food, good drinks, good company, good times. I think I would rate this the best vacation I've had all year!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Just for Margaret

This is for my sister in Tuscon. I hope this satisfies your Wilamar Farm blog fix until we get back!

These were pictures taken with my new Nikon D40x camera. So far I love it. I've pretty much just used it on the automatic setting but my goal is to learn a new aspect of it at least one per week. I figure it should come in handy on our vacation this weekend.

Have a great and safe Memorial Day weekend everyone.

Kneadermeier sunning herself

Disturbed by the photographer, she turns her back.

"Oh all, right. You know I'm beautiful!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


The two ram lambs left for sale. This picture doesn't have anything to do with the story. They are just cute!

Obviously time management is not my best suit. If I want to get anything significant done I need to make a list. Heck, if I go to the grocery store and I need more than three items, I'd better have a list. Now, if I go to the store without a list, I may come back with more than three items, but I'll probably have forgotten at least one of the things I originally went for. And there's nothing wrong with having a list of four items and coming back with all four plus eight more.

Since I am not working outside of the home you'd think I have more time than I know what to do with. Lately it seems like I never have enough time. I know, I tend to dilly dally in the morning. It's my own fault, really. I like to read the paper, drink some coffee, and catch up with my favorite blogs. I really hate it when the ones I read on a regular basis (my favorites) don't have anything new for a whole week.

Anyway, by the time I'm done with the computer it's time to feed the animals and water the garden and pick up the dog potties. Before I know it, it's 11:45 and almost lunch time. Heaven help me if I have to go out for a chore. Should I have lunch first or after? That gives me less than three hours to Dr. Phil. In the middle of that I have to pick up my son from school. Then it's either Montel or Oprah, depending on the subject matter.

I'm beginning to understand why my favorite blog authors don't post a new blog every day. There are other things to tend to. This week I had hoped to get started on my milking stand. I had hoped to blog about raising rabbits, and maybe one about the tortoise. Those things will have to wait until later.

Our family reunion/vacation in Shasta is at the end of this week and I've been making lots of lists about that. Food we're making, groceries to buy, things to bring, food to make to bring, find someone to feed the animals, make a list to give the feeder of what and how to feed, etc etc.

So I guess what I'm saying is don't expect much this week. I'm busy making lists.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Construction Day

One of the things I enjoy doing is construction. I feel a certain sense of satisfaction when I've created something from a pile of lumber and nails and it somewhat resembles what I set out to build.

Carli called me last week and said she needed a trellis for her apartment balcony. Her potted vining plants were growing out of the pots and they were in need of a place to start clinging. I had been thinking about making a milking stand for the sheep, and I still needed to make the tomato cages. This was the perfect excuse to go to my one of my favorite stores, Lowe's.

Carli was off on Thursday, so she came over to help. We made a list of materials and went to the store. Don't you just love the smell of fresh lumber? We also got a few more flowers for the front flowerbeds while we were at it.

One of the flowers I got. It's a Susan G. Komen for the Cure "Dahlietta Louise Dahlia".

$250 later we sidetracked to the bank so Carli could run an errand. After she came out of the bank I realized it was 12:30 and I was hungry. There's a nice little Japanese restaurant called "Miyoshi" in that shopping center and we both agreed it sounded really good. Finally, after some delicious sushi and teriyaki chicken we headed for home.

finished trellis

I had drawn out some vague plans for the trellis the night before, so I had an idea of how it would come together. It was surprisingly simple. I placed the redwood lattice between a frame of 1" X 3" boards and screwed them all together. The only change I made to my original plans were of the feet. I think originally I had made the feet too complicated. Maybe if I had a bandsaw I could have made them look nicer, but everything worked out in the end.

For the tomato cages I had purchased a fifty foot roll of "remesh" wire, originally designed for use with cement work to add strength and stability for sidewalks, etc. Last year I had used a three foot tall 2" X 4" thin wire fencing. The problem with that was it was too short, and the holes were too small to reach through to pick the tomatoes. Consequently I had to reach through the top to get the fruit. The remesh was thick wire with 6" X 6" holes. Perfect.

roll of remesh wire

I used bolt cutters to cut the remesh at 4' 6" intervals. Then while wearing gloves and using pliers I joined the two edges together by bending a cut portion around the opposite edge. It was very dirty work because the wire was rather rusty. I was going to include a picture of my shorts and legs showing all the rust transfer, but the pictures were less than flattering. I wouldn't want to be accused of causing any urpiness to anyone.

Carli's new trellis on her balcony.

The trellis ended up fitting perfectly on the balcony (measure twice, cut once!). The tomato cages not only fit well, but they actually look half way decent too. They are very sturdy and I have high expectations. Tomato lady, you're welcome!

Happy tomato plants.

Next week I will work on the milking stand and hopefully I will have just as happy an ending.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Butt Scope

Today my husband went in for his first ever colonoscopy. It wasn't that he was having problems, it was just that he turned fifty. Various medical groups, including the American Cancer Society, recommend colon cancer screening starting at age 50.

He actually turned 50 last year. The insurance company had sent the authorization at his doctor's request. The authorization sat on the counter for two months until it expired. Finally, after much nagging from me and just one month from his 51st birthday, he got another authorization and actually made the appointment.

The entire process wasn't as bad as I had heard from my friends at work. Apparently there are different ways to clean out the internal rectal area, some more drastic than others. My husband was lucky. The method given him was not too bad.

He started two nights before the procedure. As instructed he took four Ducolax tablets before going to bed. The next day he was to take a half bottle of Fleet Phospho-Soda (1 1/2 ounces) at 1 PM. At 5 PM he was to take the second half of the bottle. At 7 PM he was to take four more Ducolax tablets. The second day was to be a liquid diet only day.

From the stories I had heard, the patients literally spent the night on their bathroom floor. This was not our experience. While he did have to go to the bathroom more often than normal he was never in a state of panic about whether he would make it to the facilities or not.

On the day of the procedure he woke up at 5:30 and had to give himself an enema, then thirty minutes later another one. I drove him to the Surgery Center and dropped him off at 7 in the morning. I drove back home to get our son to school. I thought I would have lots of time to be able to make my husband a funny card using the computer. But time flies!

It was just 8:30 when they called me to let me know he was done and would be ready to leave at 9:00. I had just barely finished my second cup of coffee and had not even finished reading the paper yet!

When I asked at the front desk after him, one of the ladies said, "Oh yes, he did really, really well!" They took me back where I sat with him for the last ten minutes. As they were wheeling him out one of the other nurses commented that he didn't even look like he'd had a procedure done.

When I asked my husband about the events he told me they put an i.v. in his arm. He was never totally under but was concious throughout the procedure. He was able to view the maneuvers on a small screen. He said he wasn't sure if it was the doctor or one of the nurses that kissed his bottom when it was all done.

Ah, that's my man!

The good news was his colon is all clear. There were no signs of polyps, no diverticulitis. He won't have to do this again for five years.

According to colon cancer is the third leading cause of death due to cancer. The problem is most people don't go to the doctor until they start having symptoms. This is why I wrote today's story. It's an important health issue for everyone. And it can be totally avoidable or treatable if caught early enough with this simple test.

And, no, they don't really kiss you on the bottom.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Little Bit of Bragging

Mother's Day bouquet
As everyone knows, yesterday was Mother's Day. The most I was expecting was a nice dinner cooked for me by my husband with our son, daughter, and her fiance over to help enjoy it.

I was out milking Jamie in the morning when Carli came over. When I came back in the house there was a ginormous (gigantic-enormous) bouquet of beautiful flowers. I must admit my eyes watered a bit at that. Marcus, the future son-in-law, wasn't there yet. He was shopping at the mall, which was no surprise to me, since I know he enjoys shopping as much as Carli.

My husband was doing yard work. Carli went out to talk to him for a minute, then came back in walking with a giant cane. Of course I realized immediately that it was a shepherd's crook. It was from my husband. When he came in I asked him when and where he had bought it. He said he got it on Thursday from the feed store we usually go to. The kid behind the counter told him "You know, I've been working here for a long while and this is the first time I've ever sold one of these!"

The funny thing was earlier in the week we had been watching tv with all the pre-Mother's Day advertising. He asked me how I thought the gift giving was supposed to go. I explained my thoughts. If the kids were too young to give Mom a card or something, then it was up to Dad to give the gift in their stead. In the case of older kids, it was up to them to give to Mom. He, my husband, should at least call his own mother. He should not feel obligated to give me, his wife, anything since our kids were older and I was obviously not his mom.

Old "crook" on the left (netless kid's butterfly net taped to a long stick); new crook on the right.

I guess this means in spite of his complaining about the noisy sheep and the threats to get rid of them he doesn't really mean it.

Then a little while later Marcus came in and gave me a Fox t-shirt and a Hurley t-shirt. Man, this was almost like Christmas!

My special Mom's Day dinner consisted of rack of lamb (from Australia, not our own), Caesar salad, and rice pilaf. Desert was a lemon sponge cake. No Nutrisystem last night. After dinner I was treated to a pedicure while we watched the final episode of "Survivor: Fiji".

Mother's Day aftermath
Today all was back to normal with Wil off to school, feeding the animals, the magic never-ending laundry basket, and cleaning up the aftermath of last night.

It was so worth it!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

This is a picture my sister from AZ sent. It was taken by a friend of hers, Ken Don, who is one of eight volunteer photographers for the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona. The picture is of a baby desert big horn sheep with his mother. He is just a few days old.

Happy Mother's Day, be you a mother, single father, or someone raising someone else's child, whether it's one kid or more. You are blessed.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sheep Milk

Yes, as surely as you and I breathe, I have lost my mind. Wasn't it just two weeks ago I said I wasn't ready to fork out the $180 + for the Udderly EZ milker? And yet, just one week after I wrote that, you guessed it, I ordered one! It came about after a series of furious back and forth e-mails with my cheesemaker sister.

We started with her in favor of making a "cheesey" business plan and doing lots of research. I countered with start as a hobby. We can give the cheeses away as Christmas and birthday gifts, complete with our own label. If it turns into more than a hobby then it was meant to be! I even had fun designing a few labels using Microsoft Word and clip art.

sample label

We were discussing the differences between sheep's milk, cow milk, and goat's milk. She mentioned something about diary sheep. I asked if diary sheep are good bloggers. She kept mentioning the diary sheep so I finally said, "DAIRY not DIARY."

She decided she would rather make sheep's milk cheese than goat's milk cheese. That was what almost sent me over the edge. All I needed was just a teensy bit more pushing. So I prodded. I sent her an e-mail: "I am so tempted to buy one of those ez squeezy things right now!!!! Should I do it????? Should I? Huh??" Her reply: "Yes!!"

I promptly ordered it before sanity could return. The UPS man brought it yesterday. I opened the box and examined everything. It seemed simple enough. I washed the components and set them by the sink on a paper towel to dry. Remember, I had not told my dear husband that I ordered this expensive piece of equipment.

I was putting up the wire fencing to contain the two lambs when my husband got home. It was a hot day and I was sweating. He came out to greet me and brought a diet soda for me. I jokingly asked if he saw his new "penis pump". He answered with "Why do you think I'm smiling?" Fortunately he knows my sister and I are a bit nutty so the EZ Milker came as no surprise to him. (He still doesn't know how much it costs though. And no, he doesn't read my blogs.)

Last night I separated the two remaining lambs into their own pen. Jamie and Ewenice would be full of milk in the morning.

milking Jamie with the ez milker

After I fed this morning I decided Jamie would be my first victim. She is very calm and easy going, not to mention easy to catch. I got her set up on the sheep stand and started the process. I got about three cups of milk from her. Not too bad! Better than the 1/4 cup when I tried milking by hand! Next was Ewenice. Just by her very Cheviot nature she is a more nervous sheep and not easily caught. I'm sure the chasing after her with the lasso didn't help her relax any to help let down her milk. I got about 3/4 cup of milk from her, which is still better than the tablespoon or two from our first try a couple weeks ago.

Jamie's 3 cups on the right, Ewenice's 3/4 cups on the left

When Prince left I tried milking the cow. Ladysmith let me know without a doubt that it was a very bad idea. I decided I'd rather risk getting stepped on by the sheep than getting kicked by the cow.

I'm not sure exactly how this whole sheep's milk venture will turn out, but I'll be sure to let you know.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Dog Holes

We've recently been getting small holes dug up in the yard. It's obviously the dogs that are doing it. I think maybe they detect gopher activity and are trying to "help" get rid of the pests.

In these situations I fill the holes with the dog's daily doo and fill the rest of the hole with our sandy soil. If it is gophers, I'm hoping the doo will deter them from popping up again in the area. If it's just the dogs digging for fun, well, I'm hoping the doo will deter them from digging more.

I think it just makes them create new holes.

dog hole

Who me?

Oh well, so much for our lawn.

Thinking on the positive side I would have to say the dogs are simply making deposit holes for me. How thoughtful!