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Connie Zoeller

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since Apr 12, 2016
rural P.E.I., Canada
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Recent posts by Connie Zoeller

Although I'm not bothering with the BB bit I'm gratified to learn how to do this. I actually have one of those mushroomy things (minus the stem) inherited from my mother though I was never taught how to use it. I do have a question though and I hope it isn't stupid. I see that no knots are done at the beginning or end of the strands and they are just snipped and left. How does it work that they don't unravel or slip out what with washing and wearing? Am I missing something? How closely do you snip the thread and doesn't it end up catching on something if not short enough?
8 months ago
I'm not a vet money is on parasitic infestation. Look for lice or mites...and they can be SMALL. Most diseases chickens can get usually involve symptoms like discharge or diarrhea or cough or something along those lines. The fact that only the skin was affected, and especially around the neck is a prime place for parasites, I would suspect this first. A symptom of severe infestation is also loss of appetite and resulting weight loss, anemia and eventually death. Parasites will suck the blood and if they really imbed themselves under the skin and sit there feeding, it's conceivable that a blot clot would form underneath the skin. The feather loss can be the result of scratching and from the parasite. There might be a spot in the coop where they are constantly rubbing their neck vigorously to alleviate the discomfort and this in itself could cause the hematoma to form under the skin as well as to thicken the skin there . Feather mites actually eat the feathers and you'll see feathers that have just the shaft but the vane is missing. Red mites will house themselves in the wood...if you have these guys you need to scrub and dust the coop well to get rid of them. Check your other chickens because lice and mites will affect the rest as well as they travel from one live host to another. Night time is when they are most susceptible to parasites. I used to scrub down the wood perches and then coat them with Neem oil. This helped a lot in keeping things off the chickens at night when they are resting. There is a laundry list of lice, mites and ticks that can infest a chicken, and some are very hard to see with the naked eye. A spray with lavender can help with the itch and irritation but eliminating is the most important thing. If you use straw in your coop, some parasites hide inside the straw which is like a hollow tube. Wood can harbour them and numerous parasites can be introduced via rodents and wild birds around the coop or where they free range. I would thoroughly examine your other chickens for parasites...the back of the neck, the vent, under the wings. Use a magnifying glass. I once had an itch and couldn't see anything until I used a magnifying glass and there was a chicken lice (not like human lice) crawling on my arm the same colour as my skin so it blended right in. I had just been holding a chicken I brought home from another farm. Like you, I live in an area where drugs are no longer available at the local feed store and can only be purchased through vet, many of which won't deal with birds at all much less chickens. If you are in Canada, there are 'provincial vets' that can be consulted that can often help in determining what's going on. And there are places where a 'necropsy' can be done if you suspect a viral/bacterial disease. Sometimes that is worth a few dollars to do to find out what's what to prevent losing any more of the flock.
1 year ago

Bernie Farmer wrote:

Building a community that cares for the elderly is a great dream. But then reality hits the fan. For me it came long before my mom presented me with a handful of her own poop and wanted to know what it was. I'm in multiple groups for caretakers and the one consistent thread among every one of those groups is that as soon as the work shows up, everyone leaves. Families are the first to abandon ship and the worst of the lot because not only do they not help in any capacity, they complain and condemn the one person who is doing all the work. They stand back and say "this is how it should be done" without having a clue what needs to be done. There is a LOT of talk, a lot of ideas, a lot of planning, a lot of research and information and promoting the cause. And meanwhile, the caretakers just have to get on with it.

Yes! Bless you, Bernie for what you do for your mom. And you are right, no village for the elderly is going to cut it, because the needs of those being cared for can be widely different.

Roberta, bravo! You are also commended on all the efforts you make to keep your health. I'm 60 and I'm probably not doing as much as I should in that regard as you are. But then, I'm trying to bit by bit renovate an old house, maintain 8 acres of property, and work as much as I can to supplement the family income. Fitting in a fitness routine is hard and there are some niggling health issues that for various reasons make it difficult too sometimes. My husband and I are trying to scramble to finish all the things that we need to do to make this property something that can sustain us. And we have to do it without any help from children. We will have to build some sort of retirement savings so that when we can no longer put in our own wood, we'll have to pay someone to do it for us.

A village for the elderly is a lovely idea and brings forth images from Currier and Ives, and if all of us were like Roberta, it would be lovely. However, there are things that can come along that don't happen due to a lack of health maintaining efforts. Family genetics, injury, circumstances and pure bad luck can grip any one of us at any age and leave us with a condition that will put us in a situation where caring for ourselves is difficult, no matter how much we did to 'stay healthy'. My parents were hearty people and despite the issues they DID have, the hospitals were always shocked that they weren't on a long list of medications. What took away their ability to care for themselves could not have been prevented by any lifestyle means. This is the scary part.

We have in the past suggested to other couples we know, when discussions of this sort come up, for them to build on our property and we would all share the work and the bounty. A small and limited village, if you will. Where each one does the duties that they are able enough for, share the property expenses and the bounty of the gardens, to help each other as we can. But no one seems to want to do that. So we just keep renovating and restoring and trying to turn this place into something that we can manage later when we are not as able. A steel roof so we never have to worry about roofing again. Augmenting the utility room downstairs so that in the future it can be our main bathroom; so that if we turn the dining room into a bedroom we can live on just the ground floor. Trying to figure out what we can do to change the cleared part of the property so that it doesn't take 4 hours of riding a mower. Letting it just go isn't an option because the taller grass brings ticks and mosquitoes like a biblical plague. Building a green house to winter garden in. The raised beds that are kinder to my back. And all of this takes a lot of funds to do so we have to take on as much paid work as we can to do it. But when you are busy working, you have the funds to purchase the supplies but where is the time to do the actual work? We recently purchased a large barn next door to use as a place where hubby can earn an income with vehicle storage and some auto repair work, as well as trying his hand at doing some electric conversions (older cars to electric). But the barn needs a bit of work...doors replaced, walls reinforced etc. He's out there every day by himself after a long day of working. There is no family here, and friends all seem to be 'too busy' to help. To hire help will cost us thousands. It's almost the same as the caregiver situation. Trying to get our vision in place before it's too late, while still working, is a challenge. And we constantly feel like we are racing against a clock.  Some days when I'm not feeling my best, visions of my folks come back to me and I find myself gripped with a level of anxiety that nearly paralyzes me into hopelessness. Watching my parents suffer as much as they did in the end (I still sometimes get triggered into hearing mom's screams of 'please let me die') I consider at what point and under what condition would I take my own life, to avoid a miserable existence somewhere where I would be trapped an unable to control  how I'm cared for.  I want to live for as long as I can, close to nature where my soul is nourished, and I'm doing everything I can to put into place ways for me to do that. We are only just learning about permaculture....slowly...when we have time to research. If I could afford it I would take a course. I would love to create a food forest. I would love to have something that has a sort of ecosystem that maintains itself with a lot less effort. Six years ago when we moved to this land we had no experience with wells and septics and all the differences in lifestyle that come with country living. We were both born and raised urban/city. I'm trying to learn about canning and preserving, seed saving and all the various facets of sustainable living and I'm trying to do it while working for hours on a computer for pay, cleaning cottages, renovating a very old house, caring for animals and trying to contribute to my community helping others so that we aren't shunned as outsiders. And we do this not just because we want a healthier lifestyle (fresh organic food, living with nature) along with free water and sewage, but also a lifestyle that we can maintain and control for as long as we can. But permaculture is by its very nature, a lifestyle that requires ability both mental and physical. What to do when those abilities slip away? Sorry if I sound a bit like a Debbie Downer, but that's MY reality.

Gina Capri wrote:rovide that little bit of after school supervision for school age kids. And they're an excellent resource when you forget a favorite recipe and for imparting wisdom.

Downsizing is hard. Letting go of many of your possessions and house is hard. I think that might be one reason older people tend to not want to "be a burden".

It's not just about downsizing. I think we are a widespread group here on permies, and we have to remember different places can mean different challenges too, when it comes to doing what's right by looking after family. Let me elaborate on my example. To look after my parents was what I felt was right, hubby was the first to suggest it. My parents were both deathly afraid of dying in an institution. I took them in and promised them I would do everything I could to allow them to be home. I did that, although dad was hospitalized at the end for several days. When they told me there was no hope I scrambled to get him home to die ,on a friday of a long weekend, with very minor home nursing care available on short notice. He spent his last 3 days at home.

I would do it all again without regret, but let me tell you what it cost us beyond 'downsizing'. I quit the workforce to stay home and 7 years later when I tried to go back I couldn't get a job. No one wanted an over 50's woman who had been out of the workforce for 7 yrs. Three strikes right there. Although I was previously in a highly skilled job, my skills were now sorely outdated without a year or more of schooling. I now do odd jobs and work from home. Everything from cleaning cottages to bookkeeping just to bring in a few dollars. So during that 7 years with no income...there was no deductions from salary that are normally done into the social pension program. Hence now, as I am 60 the monthly amount I'm going to get when I start to collect pension is miniscule. And at the time I found there really wasn't any sort of social program to give me a living. Parents get child bonuses for every child but children don't get a dime for looking after their parents beyond a deductible on income tax. When we bought our house we had a sizeable downpayment and our mortgage was manageable. But the cost of building a suite for them and all the other physical property changes we had to make (elevator outside to bypass stairs, special electrical hookup for a generator in case of power outages, etc.) doubled our mortgage. Hence when they were gone, we made the decision to move where we might be able to conceivably be mortgage free at some point when we are most financially at risk. During the time I looked after mom and dad, they paid what they could from their pensions, often covered the cost of small unexpected bills and did what they could. But in no way was it the equivalent of the huge salary I made at my job I left, less then half in fact. So husband was really the sole provider of the two of us and a son he had to pay a huge child support payment for (not that we begrudged that).  I thank God that we at least have universal healthcare here or we'd have been on the street a long time ago. The number of times we went to hospital with them, one health crisis after another would have crushed us. So I'm grateful for that.

And if you think it's just as simple as taking care of another person like a child, that's not always the case either. With all the health crises we had, and the emotional friction that sometimes came from their own difficulties dealing with infirmities and the realities of aging and being ill it was a 24hr/7day job that took a lot out of me. The toll it took on MY health was enormous. I ploughed through and did what had to be done and after they were gone had a complete collapse with a diagnosis of PTSD. It took me a couple of years to recover from that. The stress of their care left lasting health issues I now deal with. But my point being, if elders are more or less independent and somewhat healthy great. But if your elders are ill this changes the whole discussion by a LOT.

It's not as simple as saying 'it's a family's duty to care for elders'. And yes, my parents felt they were a burden no matter how many times I held their hand, looked them in the eye and said 'you are absolutely not' a burden. I loved them and don't regret a minute but they weren't blind and they could see the toll it was taking. So when I see people putting their elders in homes/institutions, I can't fault them. The problem lies, as I see it, in the creation of places where people can be cared for that are nurturing, and humane. But anytime you have something run by a company or a corporation, profit will always be the #1 goal and that will always result in shortcomings that affect the level of care. Add to that the fact that where I live, there is a severe shortage of nursing home workers so even in places where they do their best, the care is sometimes below par. Hence the reason I kept mine at home. Yes, a hundred years ago families took care of elders and the community supported them in that effort but it's not as easy as that anymore as times have changed. You grew your own food, you chopped wood for heat and maybe you didn't have much and life was hard, but you had the basics. You were mostly home with elders to care for them. But life has evolved and now we have technology and bylaws and rules and governments and greedy corporations all pulling at us, and what was possible to do a hundred years ago isn't as easy to do now. Yes, you have to make some sacrifices to care for them at home and I did. But those sacrifices have now put me in a position where MY old age years are at risk. So now I have to figure out how I will manage...I never had children and my husband's son will likely not be around to do much for us. We have to take care of ourselves, with a lot less resources to do that with now. Care of elders is a very complex subject. Many variables. I'm not sure there is one solution to solve it. And considering that younger generations are having less children, often moving great distances away for careers, and we are already a bit top heavy with the size of the aging population, it's not hard to see that there's a growing problem.

The whole elder care discussion has to include the needs of elders. When I lived in Ontario we lived in a small town, hospital nearby, which was handy. I quit a very good paying job to stay home and look after parents. Initially because my mom needed total care (washing, dressing, toiletting, etc) and dad was still independent but no longer able to do the hard stuff. We turned our attached garage into a granny flat and moved them in. Within 6 months dad suffered a blod clot from an aneurysm resulting in not only amputation below the knee, but the start of dialysis. Now there were two who needed a lot of care. Fortunately our property had a lot of green space, we had a lovely pond with fountain and fish we built for them to sit by but still in town. But because it was a town you have to live within regulations and so permaculture/homesteading ways can only go so far. They both died at home 6 yrs later. Following this my husband and I moved to Prince Edward Island to a proper 'homesteading' type of property where we can if we choose go off-grid, have livestock, chickens whatever. Lots of room to grow food. All with the hopes of being able to provide for ourselves more so that small social pension will go far enough for us to live on. Which brings me full circle to the point I made at the start. We can have a lovely permaculture lifestyle here for as long as we can stay healthy. The nearest hospital is 30 min away, often closed due to staffing shortages, and it's not open nights or weekends. For emergency care outside of that it's a 45 min. drive to the capital city hospital. Willing or not, there is no way I could have cared for my parents here because of that. And with nursing homes full up and people waiting for beds, I don't know what we are going to do if the day comes that we can't manage where we live. We love living rural and being close to the land, but the nagging realization that this lifestyle depends 100% on our health being there, leaves a knot in my stomach.
A couple we know won a silent auction which entitles them to all the free potatoes they want, direct from the farmer for a year. As a result they have been giving bags of free potatoes to friends (like me) who are struggling, and also to the food bank. This same couple, knowing we wanted to get a few chickens to supply our own eggs, are 'giving' us 5 of their chickens to help us get started. Very generous since it means we'd no longer need to buy our eggs from them.

Where we live, here in Prince Edward Island, Canada, there are kindnesses everywhere. In a province where wages are low, and unemployment is high, everyone helps everyone. If someone in the community is ill, everyone chips in to help them out. If they are gravely ill, they hold a 'benefit' where local musicians come out to play, ladies donate baked goods, and a small admission is charged for an evening of fun, with all proceeds going to the family in need. Our first year here, the neighbor across the road who was a complete stranger to us, came over with his tractor and tilled up a large garden plot that had gone to sod due to neglect, after watching us struggle with an ancient tilling machine that broke down after the first 20 min. He asked nothing in return, and wouldn't accept any money offered. Only a small few of the many kindnesses I have witnessed living here.
4 years ago