Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Winter and Spring 2020 review

On the Farm and In the Wetzel Home

I like to give an update at the end of each season.  This is usually just random information about what we are doing on the farm that does not really fit into a "regular" blog post.  I never did a Winter 2020 update in March.  This is when the COVID-19 was starting to happen and I think I must have just been busy trying to figure out our new normal and forgot to do a post.  So, here is my attempt to remember what has happened this past winter and spring...

New Strawberry and Raspberry Beds
This project was started last fall when we made the new raised beds.  Then, the strawberry plants came this spring.  Hopefully, we will have strawberries next year!  One bed is an everbearing variety and one is a june bearing strawberry.  I took this pic a couple of weeks ago and the plants have already doubled in size so I feel like they are off to a good start!
We also started some Golden and Black Raspberry areas on the farm.  I didn't bother to take a pic of them because there is literally not much to see there.  I just planted the black raspberries last week so they are super small but they all look good.

Cage to Protect Seed Producing Plants in Chicken Run
Planted some broom corn, amaranth and borage (side note - borage is not really a seed producing plant but I had some extra plants so I just put them in there and the plant is super nutritious for chickens and the flowers are beautiful and edible!) in a "cage" within the chicken/duck run...I also put some sunflower seeds in there.  Why did I do this?  I am hoping the broom corn, amaranth and sunflowers will grow up and then drop seeds into the run for the girls.  Just something fun for them to look forward to.  Also, it will provides a little "green" in the dirt run area.

Indoor Home Improvement Project
A little home improvement project in the basement area...painted the walls and trim and had new curtains made!  This is a before pic...
Here is the after pic...it really helped to lighten it up down there.  
We also lightened up the red brick fireplace by "distressing it" and adding the white to it.  Again, it really helped to lighten it up in there.  Now, I am just trying to decide about what to do with the wood paneling on two walls.  Initially, I was going to have it painted too but now I am having second thoughts...

Outdoor Home Improvement Project
Cooper had to find a new place to sleep...
Put in a little mini pond in front of the house.  We are going to have to re-do this area because the animals like to drink from the pond and the vegetation is all dying.  It's a bit of a challenging area too...mostly shade except for hot afternoon sun.
Once I got the pond "established", we put in some water plants and tried to plant some flowers right around the base of the pond.  Here is a pic of Dumpling getting a drink!

More Cages to Protect Plants!
I know this is a bit hard to see.  The rabbits are a complete nuisance and eat down my trees and blueberry bushes!  So, I had to buy these wire cloches to protect them (these cloches are 20 inches high).  This is an oak tree that I am trying to get started in the future pig pen...I also have a ring of hardware cloth around it to protect it from the voles but this doesn't always work.  I lost 2 of the 5 oak trees to voles already.
Here is a cheaper plant protecting hack.  I bought this "metal" trash can at the DollarTree for $1!  Just place it upside down over plants you want to protect.  It is about 10 inches deep/tall so it is good for smaller plants.  
I guess I am going to try and figure out a way to build a big cage over the blueberry raised bed this fall.  The rabbits don't seem to bother the blueberries during the growing season but really go to town and eat them down to the ground in the winter (when there is not much else to eat).

So, that is it for now.  I did plant 4 more fruit trees this spring - a cherry, apricot, asian pear and honeycrisp apple.  I had planted some nice size walnut trees last fall and they did not make it.  BUT the hazelnut and chestnuts that I had planted last fall are doing good...so far...

Have an eggcellent day!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Joshua Update

In Salt Lake...

Our youngest son, Joshua, is currently at a residential treatment center (Benchmark) in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (If you are not familiar with the situation, you can read all about it in this previous blog post.)  We were planning a trip to visit him the end of March.  However, with the COVID-19 happening, we had to cancel our plans.  The facility where Joshua is staying is still in lockdown.  We are waiting for the facility to allow "passes" again for family visits and then we will go down and see him again in person.  Can't wait!

I had always suspected that Joshua had some depression and anxiety.  He also has pretty severe mood swings.  In January, Joshua was assessed by the psychiatrist at Benchmark.  He was given a bipolar diagnosis.  I had also suspected this.  If  you did not know, Joshua also has an autism diagnosis.  Autism is a developmental disability.  Bipolar is a mental health diagnosis.  So now, Joshua has a dual diagnosis. 

Some good news...

The good news is that Joshua had made some great progress with his treatment.  There are 4 phases to the treatment at Benchmark.  Joshua has been in Phase 1 since he started there in April 2019.  It has been going really slow.  Joshua does not seem to be in any hurry to complete his treatment.  He worries about coming home and hurting us.  Last week, we finally got some good news that he completed Phase 1.  FINALLY!!! 

We have been told that Phase 2 is much quicker to complete.  Then, Phase 3 is a little longer again.  Phase 4 is basically getting everything put in place for Joshua to come back home.  Right now, that is the plan...for him to come back home.  Some kids go to a type of Group home before being assimilated back in to the family but we are fairly certain that he will be coming back home.  As a side note, his release date is October 2020 but I don't believe he is going to have his treatment completed by that time so this will likely be extended.

More good news...

Last week, Joshua began our family therapy session by asking if the Principal had called us.  I was really confused (and started feeling a little dread - usually a call from the Principal is not good news).  However, it appears that Joshua is doing so well in school that they need permission for him to take some extra classes.  This could lead to him graduating early.  My feeling of dread then disappeared and turned to elation.  The Principal needed our permission to allow for this.  Joshua is REALLY excited at the prospect of finishing high school early.

To give some perspective, when Joshua was 14, before he went to Benchmark, he was perseverating and obsessing about the fact that he could drop out of high school when he turned 16.  Joshua just turned 16 on May 14th.  Obviously, school is going well for him at Benchmark.  I am pretty sure that we will try the alternative high school when/if he gets back home before he graduates.  Moscow High was just too much for him.
Overall, he does sound really good when we talk with him on the phone.  It is great to hear him talking positively about school.  This is something I never thought would be possible.  We can't wait to be able to see him again!