My general intent with this blog is NOT to discuss the daily trivialities of life or personal drama. Nor is it to brag about my wonderful kidlet and husband. That’s why I deliberately gloss over such comments in broad sweeping terms.
However, I should talk about the migraines in greater detail. Mainly to highlight, for anyone considering any level of homesteading, that you have to consider your personal limits in this endeavor. Migraines and a bad knee are my primary ones.
This is a predominately solo affair. I hope my daughter will grow into the habits of raising animals, but for now, the rest of the household has only the most passing of interests in what I’m doing. I can occasionally request a second (or even third) pair of hands to help me with a task that’s beyond the actual reach of my short self. Running the errands of purchasing feed and other items tends to be a group trip, while other things are accomplished. But, otherwise, it’s like 98% me.
It’s the day after the bedamned “Daylight Savings Time”, which screws with everyone’s schedules in the first place. I actually woke up to my alarm and started getting ready for work, despite the attendant grogginess. Then the migraine started sneaking up behind me.
Thankfully, I realized what it was while still at home, not driving and half way to work.
But, here I am. It’s not the most painful migraine I’ve ever had. It’s a solid 5, MAYBE 6 while trying to spike. I’m wincing and tense, but I’m not currently leaking tears against my will. What most people don’t understand, however, is that it’s not only the pain that causes problems.
My ear drums hurt. The light feels like a thousand little needles stabbing into my eyeballs, and that’s after I have switched my monitor’s color profile to the less painful settings and am hiding in my darkened office cubby. Every time I get up for any reason, the world tries to go spinning, and the pain shoots up. Yet I’m also at the point where lying down is just as painful, perhaps more so.
So I’m trapped at my desk. It’s bad enough to be home from work unexpectedly, without a way to put in SOME hours at work, but, no. I can’t even manage unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, or any other menial task. I also can’t finish that rabbit cage that’s 2/3rds done, sitting in the garage, which I need sooner rather than later.
Even still, there are things I could be doing — lots of little things — so that the day wouldn’t be a complete waste of time. I have several outstanding projects I could attend to … if only my brain would properly engage. (I will try again here shortly, in the hopes that writing this out makes a difference.)
It is normally the migraines that leave me sobbing and crying that have such a hangover effect. However, a look at the day’s historical barometric pressure graph shows that the pressure increase has been steady all day. Medicating (with advil and salt) earlier is likely the only reason I’m this functional. So the money is pretty even as to whether I will be capable of attending my own animals tonight. After the sun goes down, perhaps, and it’s only the solar lights I have hanging up for a minimal amount of light, plus my flashlight, it will be feasible. A lot will depend on if the vertigo backs off or not. I may still need assistance to carry a mere 20-25 pounds of rabbit feed, in a bucket, up the hill.
I keep looking at dual purpose cattle, for whenever we manage to get a place large enough to handle that. A milking cow would be a solid, nifty addition to the overall homesteading plan, although goat milk isn’t bad either. I personally prefer beef to cabrito (young goat), so a milk cow would be better.
But how, or when, would I ever get the milking done? If I have an office day job, my nocturnal nature would prevent my waking up early enough to do the milking before work. If I have a work from home job by then, I still have to contend with these migraines preventing early morning anything. Heck, the migraines make tending the fodder sitting in the bathroom by my desk difficult at times. And that’s maybe 10 minutes at a time, if I’m not “thinking” about things.
I already do what I can about the migraines. Familial allergy to some of the abortives, and personal allergy or “contra indicated reactions” to the rest. The daily medication options — already tested for other things — actually make the migraines worse. I’m allergic to ANYTHING remotely related to ragweed — which includes the source plant for CBD oil, by the by. Nor is it a mild allergy. I am, for all intents and purposes, immune to narcotics of all variants tested so far, including ones that make a friend “taste the color nine”, as he put it. I find them minorly useful in that they assist the ibuprofen in taking effect five minutes faster … but I’m also allergic to them. I get two doses in 24 hours before the puking starts. So my use is best described as “sparingly.”
My treatment options are: ibuprofen, salt, magnesium, coffee, hot tea, dark rooms, and naps. Occasionally I bring out the “heavy hitter” — Nyquil, although that’s been less and less effective as they continue to weaken the formulas to “prevent abuse.” The occasional Excedrin Migraine (or off brand version) combined with ibuprofen may also work (but Tylenol & aspirin do not).
So I have to look at the homesteading from the perspective of “what allows me the most outside time, and most benefit, versus the very real possibility I will be sick for 2-3 days and unable to do ANYTHING.” A lot of my decisions are also wrapped up in “what can I actually carry, up a hill, without my twice-injured, twice-operated-on knee being re-injured or simply collapsing and planting my face into mud.” This prevents me from storing the feed up with the animals, or building a larger chicken feeder that takes a 50 pound bag at a time.
I do enjoy feeding the fodder — it pushes me to go outside, even very late, at least once a day. This is good for my mental and physical health, although it is sometimes frustrating and annoying. But it also means that regardless of everything, the pellet feed will remain available for the rabbits. I have so far been able to force through migraine, knee pain, or general illness (and weather) to take the fodder up, but that is not guaranteed. If I have to ask someone else to step in and check on the food/water, I can’t expect them to manage the fodder as well. The automatic watering system isn’t a “luxury,” it’s a necessity. The 55 gallon drum chicken waterer is also a requirement. I can’t lug water up the hill for anything. A couple gallon jugs is my limit.
I do use the tractor and wagon at times, for larger items. However, the moles make sure the ground is squishy up the hill, and if we’ve had a lot of rain, the slope is too dangerous for the tractor. It’s only really safe when things are fairly dried out. The steepness of the slope means that the hand-pulled wagon is also less than optimal and often less than functional, too. So the primary method of hauling is limited to “my two feet.”
So I keep looking at things I’d like to do, and having to remind myself that I do not have the capabilities to do so. I have the rabbits and the chickens. The mini aquaponics set up is finally in place, on top of the larger aquarium downstairs (~29 gal tank) — after planning it out for more than four years now. The garden needs a lot more work, the greenhouse still hasn’t been built, and the IBC tanks are still unused. There’s still two mounds of wood chips to be dragged up the hill to the coop and garden. (That’s slow work, tractor-dragged load by tractor-dragged load, and I frequently overload the dump wagon. :\ The tractor whines at the loads, even, because of that hill, so it’s not like I just need a better wagon.) There’s still a mound of “garden” dirt (which disappointed me last year).
But the last thing I want to do is to … resent this. To resent the rabbits and the chickens, for existing, and being beholden to them. To resent the work. I want them to continue to be my quiet solace, to find peace in building with my hands.
That means that I have to continue to take my limitations into account, lest my irrational enthusiasm leaves me in the dust. Also means I have to not be quite so hard on myself, on the days like today, where I feel like everything is wasted time.