February 22, 2018

A Message From Dan

Hello from Dan.

I feel it is necessary to address you all personally. First of all THANK YOU for your financial help and secondly for your prayers. Both are unselfish acts of kindness and caring, not to mention a sacrifice. I am more than grateful for you.

This injury has devastated me more than any other I have experienced. I spent 15 years in the military out of which five I was in special ops: parachuting, rappelling, and generally getting beat up on a regular basis. In 1992 I under went back surgery and had L4-L5 fused. In our nine years of homesteading I've damaged both thumbs setting over 150 t-posts, and almost cut off my left big toe with the chainsaw. I've been bitten twice by spiders. All of that doesn't compare to having a finger almost cut off.

Your words of encouragement and advice have not fallen on deaf ears, and a lot of it is confirmation of what I'm already doing. Just knowing there are folks out there who genuinely care and understand is a comfort. Maybe someday we can meet face to face and I can give you a big hug.

This lifestyle, which I know you can relate to, doesn't foster local friends. A church family we don't have due to the jobs I've had in trucking. Thank you for being family.

May God truly bless you tenfold for all of your support.

February 21, 2018

What the Hospital Said

The response to our GoFundMe for Dan's medical expenses has been both incredibly humbling and extremely encouraging. So far we've raised nearly $3500 to cover medical and other expenses. I wish you all could see the difference it's making in Dan. To have so many people we've never met respond so willingly and generously has given him hope. And to have so many people praying for him has given him peace of mind.

Yesterday Dan talked to the billing office at our local hospital. This is the first one we went to and have been billed $3554.42 for the initial emergency care of his fingers (my original blog post here.) He hoped to get the bill down to a manageable size, but the most they would discount it was $1066.30 which brings it down to $2488.02. If he paid in full on the spot, they'd give him an addition 10% off and accept $2239.21. We still don't know what the second ER will charge, so Dan set up a minimal payment schedule for that first bill. Once we have an idea of the combined totals, we'll have a better idea of how far we have to spread our funds.

What we have paid, is the GP and the hand surgeon, both in full so that's behind us. Also Dan made a decision about the options the surgeon gave him. In my update last Sunday, I shared that he was given two possibilities. He was told he could let the one finger heal as is, with no knuckle and compromised functionality, or have it amputated at the knuckle. The finger is very much alive; he has feeling, blood flow, and movement (albeit limited at this time), so he decided against the amputation. It didn't make much sense to pay for an appointment just to tell them he wasn't going to have the surgery, so he canceled it.

Several of you mentioned about applying for financial assistance, and have been able to utilize such programs yourselves. When Dan spoke with the hospital billing office he was given an application for that, and I'm curious as to what you all think about the information they want.

The first page discusses eligibility. Uninsured patients between 100 and 200% of the federal poverty level apply. For two persons that's between $16,460 and $32,920. Our combined incomes fall easily within that range, so we're eligible. What could they need, I thought, except proof of income and perhaps some information on things like mortgage payments and other bills. I was wrong. Here's what's required to apply.

For all members of the household (not just the responsible party) they want photocopies of:
  • drivers license or photo ID
  • social security cards
  • 4 weeks of pay stubs
  • social security income verification
  • food stamp verification
  • self-employment or business verification
  • utility bill
  • car insurance statement
  • voter registration
  • 3 months worth of bank statements for checking, savings, IRA/401k, and PayPal accounts
  • any other information on request

I confess this was something of a jaw-dropper for me. When Dan was discharged from the second ER a financial aid application was included in his paperwork. They wanted occupation of patient and spouse, income, bank balances, value of home, and unpaid mortgage balance. All of that seems logical. This one, on the other hand, does not. Unless there's the possibility that my great-grandmother lives with us and receives a small SS check each month, then they would use that as part of our eligibility formula? Or if someone has teenagers working to save for college, their personal savings is considered fair game for their parent's hospital bill? Or are they trying to deter people in need from applying? Keep people in poverty? Sorry, but the information they want seems a tad overreaching. What do you think?

Next time I'll give you an update on Dan's progress and what we're doing at home to encourage healing.

What the Hospital Said © Feb 2018 by Leigh

February 18, 2018

Dan Update

It's been a tough couple of weeks since Dan's accident. Nearly sawing off a finger is pretty traumatic, but even so, we thought healing was progressing fairly well. At the ER we'd been told there was a dislocation, a little bone loss, and extensive tissue damage. Dan had hoped they could fix it then and there, but the ER doctor said they were too busy for the time it would take. So he talked to a hand specialist and set up an appointment at another hospital. When the specialist didn't keep the appointment, nor call to let us know he wouldn't be there, we figured maybe it wasn't as bad as we thought. The ER report described it just as I did above and indicated that a follow-up should take place within a week of the injury.

We'd been flushing it with betadine, applying an herbal salve, and changing dressings twice a day. The worst wound is still weeping and both fingers are very sensitive and painful to touch. Improvement is slow, and Dan had an inner concern that something wasn't right. We made an appointment with my daughter's GP, because she really liked him plus he doesn't accept insurance. That means his fees are much lower than most physicians. (Nor did they become instantly unfriendly when they learned we have no insurance. We've been getting quite a bit of that lately.)

Dr. K took another x-ray and showed it to us. Dan had had x-rays taken at both ERs, but no one had shown them to us or even talked about them with us to explain what they indicated. Based on what we'd been told, we had assumed the bone loss was at the tip of the finger. Dr. K's x-ray showed that the loss was actually in the knuckle itself. That's where the saw hit, which explained the dislocation, but also where the most bone had been lost - below the first knuckle.


The ends of the bones that form that joint have been destroyed. They should be flat on the ends, but the lower bone had been chiseled almost to a point. In other words, there is no knuckle. Dr. K sent us to his own hand surgeon to discuss options.

Surgery? That would entail a fusion, but with the end of the bones gone, there is nothing to fuse to. Letting it heal as is, is an option. The end of the finger is still very much alive and Dan has feeling and blood flow to the tip. Without a functioning joint, however, there would be limitations. The last option is amputating the end of the finger where the joint used to be. Since losing the finger was Dan's primary concern in the first place, this option is something of a blow. Fortunately no decision had to be made on the spot, so we opted take some time to consider what to do. Dan has a follow-up appointment in three weeks.

The first of the ER bills has arrived - $3554.42. This is from our local hospital and I have to say it is significantly more than the "average" emergency room costs I've researched. The hospital will discount $1000 because we are self-pay. The second bill is yet to arrive.

At the encouragement of several of you, I have set up a "GoFundMe" account for Dan to help with these costs.


I know most of you are probably in the same financial boat as we are, but two things would be a great help.
  1. Your continued prayers. It is your prayers that are keeping us from being overwhelmed with discouragement. 
  2. To share Dan's link (https://www.gofundme.com/DanielTate) or a link to this post on social media. The GoFundMe folks say this is the best way to meet goals. Since I'm not a social media person, this would be a tremendous help. I will say that we've contributed to similar campaigns in the past, because we always think, "what if it was us." Well, now it is us and it's hard to ask for help!
 
The goal is estimated and I'm hoping it works out that we will need a less. I pray it isn't more! I'll update it after we hear from the other hospital and find out how much both hospitals are willing to lower their bills.

Dan Update © Feb 2018 by Leigh at

February 15, 2018

Almost a Spring Day Kid Play

We've had a lot of cold rain lately, but yesterday was finally mild, only overcast, and almost spring-like. Even though our winter pasture was pretty much frozen out this year, the does were still happy to get out to see what they could find. All their kids went out with them.












It's hard to believe how quickly they grow.

I'll have another update on Dan soon, to tell you what we've learned and what the doctors say.

February 12, 2018

Dan Update

Here is the update on Dan I promised. If you didn't catch my earlier post about his accident, you can read about that here.

How's he doing? Considering that he nearly sawed off his finger, I can say he's doing fairly well. Comparing that to full healing and function (or even semi-function), however, I can say that he has a long way to go. The finger that was only nicked by the saw is healing nicely. The swelling is down, the tip is scabbed over, and the fingernail is gone, but it is very, very sensitive. The sawed finger is better, but the wounds are still open and it is quite mangled looking. We see improvement, but it is much, much slower than he would like.

Pain comes and goes, but he finds that naproxin controls it. The hydrocodone they prescribed makes him nauseated, and he says that offsets any pain relief, so he sticks with the over-the-counter pain killer as needed.

When will he be able to go back to work? My guess is not for several months. Most of you know he is a truck driver, which entails more than simply holding a steering wheel. That he could do, but it's things like securing loads, raising and lowering the trailer bed, carrying heavy objects, opening and closing container doors, i. e. anything that requires two hands he can't do.

Having only one hand to use also limits what he can do at home. That means all projects (like the barn) are indefinitely on hold. That's frustrating for him, because he is an active, self-motivated, outdoor person. But now he can't do much and his normal routine is gone.

The bills from the two ERs haven't come in yet, so I have nothing to report on that front. Several people have suggested that we either set up a GoFundMe account or a tip jar, for anyone willing and able to help financially. Once I have an idea of what it's going to cost I may do that. It feels strange to ask for help, but somehow communities helping one another seems more natural than relying on some government agency. Some of you have already helped us out and words can't express how grateful we are for that. Also I had someone inquire about Dan's Etsy shop, to buy one of his woodburnings to help out. He closed the Etsy but still sells from his pyrography blog, here.

Dan's company said he'd be welcome back when he's able to work again, but few trucking companies offer sick pay so there won't be an income until he can go back to work. To continue paying our bills he looked into getting temporary disability. Since he is 62, they told him it would be faster and less complicated to apply for his social security retirement benefits, which he did. Hopefully that will begin in March or April. That will be about 2/3 of what he currently makes at his part-time driving job, but it will at least pay the mortgage, utilities, car insurance, phone and internet, etc. We have simplified our needs over the years so between what we produce ourselves and the little bit of writing income I get every month, we should be able to eat nutritiously and buy toothpaste and toilet paper!

The livestock pretty much pay for themselves. Every year I sell enough registered Kinder kids to cover whatever feed, hay, and other supplies we need to purchase. We grow as much as we can and then buy whatever we need to make up for what we can't grow. So in a sense, our animals are self-supporting and our eggs, dairy, and meat are "free."

So that's where we stand at the moment. Your prayers have made a tangible difference and we continue to welcome them.

Dan Update © Feb 2018 by Leigh at

February 9, 2018

And More Goat Babies!

Daisy was my last doe due this month and yesterday afternoon she delivered ...

QUADS!

One buckling and three doelings.


Photos aren't very good I'm afraid. At first Daisy absolutely did not like me pointing the camera at them. Every time I tried to aim she would stand between me and her babies and look at me as if to say, "oh no you don't."

Little buck

The buckling was born first and he needed help. He tried to come out tail and hocks (hind "knees") first. That position is called a frank breech. Hind feet first are not uncommon for goats, but not tail first, which can be a serious problem if the baby gets stuck. I had to push his bottom back in and find his hind legs.

The next two came easily after that. 

2nd was a little doeling.

This little girl came third.

We thought she was done so I went to the house to get Daisy a bucket of warm molasses water while Dan went in to tend the fire. When I got back, there was baby goat number four!

Firstborn on left, last born on right.

These are Daisy's first and when I showed her the first one she pulled back like, "what is that!" Then she started licking him and her mothering instincts quickly kicked in.


She has a huge udder and it has been very full for several days, so I think she'll be able to feed them just fine.


That's it for February kidding giving us a total of nine new kids: three bucklings and six doelings.

Between kidding and Dan, I'm way behind on answering comments and emails, but have to say we appreciate every one. Next time I'll have an update on how he's doing and the rest of our situation.


And More Baby Goats! © Feb 2018 by Leigh

February 7, 2018

More Baby Goats!


Monday was Violet's turn. She was off by herself most of the day, so I reckoned her time was close. Between 4:30 and 5 p.m. she delivered twins.

Buckling (right) was firstborn, doeling (left) came shortly after.

They're huge! Violet and Jessie had the same size baby bellies, but Jessie was carrying three small babies and Violet two big ones.


Violet's little girl has had a slow start. Kids are normally born feet first. Either front feet in a "nosedive" position, or back feet in a breech position. This little girl tried to come out nose first. In that case it helps to gently reach in to find feet to pull out first. I found one, but not the other. Even so she delivered easily. However she had contracted tendons in her front feet. Our very first kid had this and at the time I thought the kid was deformed. I tried to splint it and took him to the vet. The vet explained that it was caused the way the kid was lying in the womb. He recommended leaving it alone and that exercise would work it out. Sure enough, he was right.

Little doeling looked black at first, but has dried to
a salt and pepper mix of black with few brown patches.


But besides being reluctant to get up and move around, this little girl was lethargic as well. Newborns do sleep a lot, but after about a day or so they are usually getting more energetic. I find that giving kids NutriDrench really helps in that case, so she got a dose. She's doing a whole lot better today.



Violet's twins got sweaters to wear too, except that unlike Jessie's triplets, theirs almost fit them.



And these were some of my smaller sweaters!

Now I have five days before Daisy's due date! Then that will be it until April.

More Baby Goats! © Feb 2018 by Leigh

February 5, 2018

Baby Goats!


So after the tragic news of Dan's hand last time, here is some happy news. We had our first kidding last Friday - triplets!

One buckling

and two doelings. This is the firstborn.

The 2nd little girl was born last.

They are Jessie's, officially due Feb. 4 and so just a couple of days early which isn't unusual for triplets.

We've been having an usually cold winter, so they all got a kid sweater to wear.



I used the pattern from Fias Co Farm website and even shortened them some because Kinder kids are smaller than standard breeds. Even with that the sweaters are still too long so I fold them over so Jessie can smell them and clean their bottoms.



This is how mama goats identify their young'uns.

Also we let the heat lamp in the kidding stall, after using the door from the old chicken coop to make it snugger.

The other thing I do is put the water bucket up high. Some
folks have had kids fall into water buckets and drown.

All of our kids have tended to migrate to certain corners of the stall so by temporarily decreasing the size I was able to keep them closer to the heat lamp so as to not become hypothermic. 


Jessie is a wonderful mother and loves having babies.




Also, a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has offered prayers and encouragements since Dan's accident. The first blessing from your prayers has been a profound peace for both of us and a sense of hope for Dan. The road to recovery will be longer than we'd like, but we're already seeing healing and improvement. More details soon.

Expecting Violet to kid any time now! Then I'll have more baby goat pictures to share.

Baby Goats! © Feb 2018 by Leigh at

February 2, 2018

Dan

The other day Dan had an unfortunate accident with his table saw. He nearly sawed off a finger but fortunately didn't lose it. He's one of those people who are always so careful, but accidents still happen sometimes no matter how careful we are.

Of course it meant an emergency room visit where he was treated for shock, had an x-ray taken, and given an IV antibiotic and a tetanus shot. The flesh is badly torn but the ER doctor told him he'd only lost a little bone on the tip of two fingers and that the worst one was dislocated. He numbed those fingers and realigned the dislocated one. He also told Dan that the injury was more severe than they usually handle there, and to save the fingers he would need to see a hand specialist at the ER of a larger hospital the next county over. He made arrangements for that for us. We were told to turn in Dan's paperwork at the front desk when we got there, and tell them Dr. So-n-so was expecting him. They wanted to send him by ambulance, but I got permission to drive him.

There was a three hour wait at the second emergency room. No one bothered to let him know what was going on or look at his hand. Eventually they took another x-ray (rather than look at the one our hospital had taken.) Finally a resident came in to stitch up his fingers. Apparently the specialist was on call but not answering his calls. They re-bandaged it and sent him home.

We could really use your prayers: most importantly for healing, but also for the funds to pay for two emergency room visits plus meet our financial needs because Dan won't be able to work.

Ordinarily I have no complaints about our financially meager lifestyle. It's not that we particularly choose to be poor; Dan would love to have a higher paying job and I'd love to make a lot of money on my books. But rather than complain, we've accepted our lot in life, tried to live within our means, and be thankful for what we do have. Our lifestyle is how we strive to do that, but things like this are an extreme test of faith. All we can do is hang on to Philippians 4:19, "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus," and ask for prayer from good friends like you.

I'll be back when I have baby goat news.

Dan © February 2018 by Leigh at