Monthly Archives: May 2012

Very quick post

about how my kids are turning into my grandparents. Remember? “I used to walk to school uphill both ways in three feet of snow?” Last night we were out late, very late. We got home and rushed to do our chores, it was after 10. Layla and Gwendy fell asleep in the car. It took a little to get Layla moving but once she got to the tent, she was the first one there, she got the head lamp. First thing Natalie did was turn off the solar system, we forgot when we left. Then they both turn to me and tell me to fill the milk bottles. Seriously. Not, oh I am so tired, will you feed the goats? It was c’mon mom! Get your butt moving, we have work to do. They went out into the dark to feed the goats. I think if I would have told them to do some other chore they would have. There was no complaining, well not of doing work, but Natalie did almost have her fingers bitten off and Layla got jumped on. The goats were hungry. It was pretty amazing. So as we were all laying in bed after doing our part the girls were like, that is nothing. So Jack made the comment about, oh? Do you haul water uphill both ways? Is it in 100 degree weather or in three feet of snow? To which Natalie replied that it was just hot weather right now and it is uphill both ways. I love her.

Or maybe just surviving

Not really.

Really, if I were to think about it we are getting a lot done, we have come so far. We still have so many thing to be thankful for, it is insane really how lucky we are. We are doing fine.

Other times, like today, it seems like we are making no progress. We are behind. And life sucks. How the hell are we going to do this?

I hurt myself last week. Landed hard on one knee. It is really hard to not go check on things and trust the girls to get it done. They did though. We also had Layla’s birthday party. We really had a very busy weekend again. Do these stop? I remember in Washington that things were the same way. There was always something to be done. Same way here now. It is funny, it drove me crazy the past two years, interning and residency, knowing that all this stuff was out there waiting for me. We had this life before and we put it on hold. But just waiting for it to start up again was mind blowingly boring and frustrating. Now, we have it again. You have absolutely no idea all the things I COULD be doing right now. However, knowing when to sit down and take a break, that is an important thing. Just knowing though that there will never be a dull moment in my life again… Okay, maybe that doesn’t sound as neat as it should 🙂

Of course there are things I wish had not happened. That is why my day today is not fun. Last Thursday after potluck Gwendy let out all the baby goats. Actually turned off the fence and led them all over it. Then continued to play with them. By the time we had got them all back in they wanted no part of that. They all wanted out to play with Gwendy. So much so that they all started jumping the fence, even with it on. We have electric fence for many reasons, one is so that we can always move the goats easily to new pasture. Two is predator issues. I would hope that it would either make the predator think twice about going after them or at least make some sort of noise that would alert me that there was an issue. So the fact that they were all galloping around out of the fence was really hard for me to see. Gwendy was no help. She wanted to play with the goats. The goats love her. They wanted to play with her. We had to secretly, so the goats couldn’t see, send her inside the house. Even now so many days later, they see Gwendy they start jumping the fence. Yep. We had the lowest charger on their fence, but we are going to change it for the higher charger of the big goats.

We were going to do that also, until we notice that the babies in the adult goats were getting tangled in the fence and not caring. What had happened? The charger went out. Their fence is not working. It happened on Friday, but none of them noticed except for the babies. The adults were still giving the fence a wide berth. We figured we had a few days. Okay, I didn’t really, but there were things going on. I couldn’t walk well. Jack wanted to till and he got use of a tiller. I wanted him to mow a little. Layla’s party. Things were going to have to wait a bit. Yesterday would have been great, but then Jack got use of a bobcat to move some things about. He was only going to have it for one night. The goats were still doing alright. It was okay.

Until this morning. Yep. Natalie went to go put the goats back in and all hell broke loose. They went in and then came right back out. After dealing with this for a couple of hours I called Jack. He said to just leave them out. No use in trying to keep them in and reinforcing the idea that the fence wasn’t working. Not only that but Megan, her name was Houdina but we changed it because we were hoping that without the name she would stop escaping, also kept getting out. This was turning into a very bad morning. The kind of days I used to call closet days. You know, where you want to take a strong drink to a closet and hide away until you forget about all that you have to do. I don’t have closets anymore. As I was inside the tent in a small break in the chaos where I was trying to get school started for the day I saw our beds. I saw our beds on top of platforms and thought to myself I could fit down there. I could have an under the bed day. No one would notice I was gone for awhile. Of course, even though I have these thoughts, I never act on them. Closet days and under the bed days are days where I don’t get to stop. Sometimes it is nice to think I could, but I never do. I have already stopped writing this a few times now so go herd goats back to more appropriate grazing. They are all out. Ella Kate kept trying to get into the tent. She is actually tied out by the tent now. She is big and it is hard for us to convince her she would be happier outside the tent. Out is the great wide homestead a baby goat has already gotten lost twice. I have gone done there and put her back with the mama. The funny thing is, 27, who is my favorite because she is so mild mannered has decided to have a closet day. She is up all by her lonesome, her baby is off with the mama goat. I feel like taking her a drink and telling her to enjoy her few hours off. Okay, really I am tempted to join her with a drink and we can sob over how hard it is to be a mama. This is when I start laughing or I will go insane 🙂

Jack also ended up with a very special rash. We think it is a combination of a few things, cow parsnip and heat rash. He is healing but he was in pain, yes pain for quite a few days. I am hoping that he gets home early today. We have a list of things to do, move adult goats, carry the 80 pound battery to the tent to charge and then back again to their place. Scythe the area around where their fence is going to be, for both goat fences. Oh and it is potluck tonight. Move baby goats. Switch chargers. It is going to be fun!

It is actually the next day and I have to say we got everything done with decent time. Another reason why it will be good when Jack doesn’t have to work. The girls and I can get a lot done, really we can. We have moved the goats a few times now. When it comes to carrying the batteries that far though, well, I just can’t do it. Jack is talking about getting a solar charger just for the fences. It would be nice. It is still money though. Something we have to think about.

Sometimes it is good to overreact and feel like the world is ending. Really, it is. The next day you can look back and go, wow, I thought that was hard and it wasn’t. Maybe next time I will be able to do more/better/save the fricken world!!!! Maybe this is why Jack has the idea that he can do anything. Maybe I just need to have more days like yesterday. You don’t really grow without challenges.

And now I am becoming too philosophical. We have lived to see another day. A day where things have gone the way they are supposed to. Where the girls and I have been able to handle all that has been given to us. It is good.

Thriving

We just got in from moving the big goats. Really happy animals make me so happy. There is nothing better than to see goats eating and eating and loving every bite. They have actually been moved to a place where the green matter is as tall as they are. It is going to be weird to see that place cleared out. I recently read a blog post by Gene Logsdon, I recommend reading him, really. Not only is he really funny, he has lots of great information that is really easy to read. Anyway, his post was about how different animals are. It really is true. Myself, I have serious issues with some things. I am terrified I am going to hurt one of them. This is the reason why Jack does hoof care. I remember though when we had to put a needle through a baby goats belly, she had bloat, and while she screamed a little(I think it was more because we were holding her down)she stopped pretty quick as she felt the pressure go away in her belly. I like to make sure my animals are as happy as I can make them. I just have to remember that what equals my happiness isn’t what is always going to equal their happiness. What makes a goat happy isn’t always what will make a chicken happy. Who is to say that they are happy either? Though when they are frolicking and they come to see you when you walk by I sure feel like I can say they are at least content. Though really the best example of contentment is three adult goats laying in the shade of a tree on a hillside with wonderful green matter all around. I say green matter because really there isn’t much in the way of grass up there and I hate to say weeds. Weeds has such a negative feeling around it. We have cow parsnip as big around as my wrist and as tall as I am. The goats think this is candy. It is wonderful. Right now I can look out my tent window and see them all happily munching. It fills my heart. I realize I have been saying this a lot but really these things have been filling my heart. It is really this wonderful feeling that overwhelms me working with them. Sadly, I am finding less joy in household chores. Oh well. I am finding myself not being very enthused and not feeling fulfilled when all the dishes are done. We did finally get all the trees planted. That was a great feeling. Like an amazing feeling not looking out the back of the tent and seeing a couple hundred trees out there. It is great knowing that out there on our land somewhere trees are growing. We just majorly altered the way our land is. Of course it is going to be many years before we really see it, but it is out there.

I did have an amazing couple of days last weekend. I woke up Saturday morning and checked my email and saw someone giving away free pigs. We wrote back and forth for a few hours. I told her about our experience and what we had planned for the pigs. She was really worried that someone would take the pigs and then go sell them at the sale barn. I assured her that that was not our plan, neither was eating them right away. So we drove out and picked them up. Jack is not totally happy about them, the boar’s balls are not as big as they should be. Really, this has been the topic of talk pretty much since Saturday, boar balls. Jack has been monitoring them every day and he assures me that us feeding him has made his balls bigger. I guess the size really does matter here when you are talking about fertility. Why would you want an infertile boar, right? We are hoping the sow gets pregnant really soon. The poor lady who had them I don’t think was feeding them right and they were just too much for her. I am glad that we are giving them a good home. They are out on grass under a wonderful tree. Shade is really important here. The funny thing here is that I had teased Jack that I would get him pigs for fathers day. The opportunity came up though on the day before mother’s day. Oh well. All’s well that ends well.

On mother’s day though we did something even more exciting. At least for me. We went to pick up WOOL!!! A guy had rambouillet crosses. I was really excited. While we were out there, and getting a huge bag of wool, like over 200 pounds, we talked a lot. We talked about getting some sheep, but he wasn’t ready to sell any yet. The problem with dealing with sale barn people. They really don’t want to sell until they are full sized adults, they get more money for them that way. He had bottle babies though. We ended up taking three off his hands. It was funny, I think he would have liked us to take more, he definitely gave us a deal on them. He is a busy guy and yeah, it was probably too much for him. So not only did I get a year’s supply of wool, I now am the proud mommy of three lambs. Life is good.

Though Monday was hard for me. We were out and about so much during the weekend. I woke up to an overfilling sink full of dishes and a complete mess. Not fun. Really I am still working on those dishes because I can only bring myself to do so many a day. It isn’t like the dishes stop getting dirty. Not fun. Natalie and I also transplanted out almost thirty tomato plants. I have started like thirty more also. Jack is really hoping that we will be canning a lot. Tomatoes are something we really like over here and use a lot of. We also planted out a lot of potatoes. A little late, but hopefully we will still get something out of them. It is coming together. We still don’t have anything else planted out. I can really see who is getting stuff done. Animal care has always been mostly me and Jack is much more the gardener. I feel bad though and really do want a garden. I have been trying to help but it isn’t getting there as much as it could. One day though Jack won’t have to work and it will be a lot better. Right now I am really enjoying having all the windows pulled up on the tent. It is cool and at night downright chilly but nothing beats this view. It is so great to see the stars at night. It is wonderful to sit on the bed and look out over the hills, watch the chickens and goats. It makes me happy, even if I do still have a sick full of dishes. I am happy. I will miss our tent. I am sure our cabin won’t have windows quite like this. Of course we also won’t probably have the bug problem that we do in here.

Oh other animal news, Esme has been catching baby rabbits. She has been torturing them, but she is slowly becoming the jungle kitty that is inside of her. Plant the animal in their right environment and they thrive. True with people too.

Stop and smell the roses, and swimming with dead fishies

Our rose bushes are blooming. You might say, oh that sounds so nice. If you didn’t know that multi-flora rose was an invasive species here and going all over the place. Most people look at it none too kindly. We are actually happy that the goats love it so much. They really really love it. Still, they are blooming and they do smell nice. However, like I said, they are all over the place like rainbows in Hawaii. I see the girls ignoring them just like rainbows in Hawaii too. “Oh look!! Another rainbow!” “Huh? Oh yeah, nice.” I told them a few days ago that the roses smelled nice and they should stop and smell the roses. Being the age they are they didn’t get that this is a saying to remind you to stop and enjoy life. The looked at me like I was crazy and went on. Oh well. Oddly, they are much more excited to swim with dead fishies. Yep. We got fish to stock our pond. We didn’t bring enough pond water. So the guy told us we had ten minutes to get the fish into our pond. It was a fifteen minute drive home. We went as fast as we safely could. We got home and some of the fish were floating. So Jack asked the girls to wade in and move the water around the fish to maybe revive them a little. They won’t stop and smell the roses, however the all quickly shucked off their clothing to jump in and swim with ailing fish. They did save some.

It sometimes surprises me what the girls don’t think of as work. The things that they are more than happy to do. I think that to a point, as a parent, it is really hard to let go and LET them do these things. Things like letting them do the dishes when they are three. How many dishes are they going to break? Are you going to have to wash them all again? Yep. It is something though. At that age they don’t think of it as work. It is a part of joyfully living. Yet we do think of it as work. Too much work to watch them while they do it and then have to do it all over again ourselves. Oh, I am as guilty of this as well I hope there is at least one other person out there.

Today though I tried to let that go. We were out planting trees, yes we are still planting those fifteen hundred trees. It was nice out, cloudy, slightly windy and it had just rained last night. Good tree planting weather. So first I went out with Natalie while Layla cleaned up the tent a bit. We planted 25 trees. I did have to do back and look at Natalie’s trees, some weren’t pushed in quite well enough. She was so happy to be doing it. A few days ago when we were all out planting trees as a family she said that she wished we could do this every day. Jack and I looked at each other and I am pretty sure that the thought going through our heads was something along the lines of if I never have to plant another tree after this, I will be glad. However, Natalie doesn’t see it as work. To her, it was her family working as a team. I admit, it was nice. We got a great rhythm going and we got a lot done. Layla come out with me later this morning and we planted forty five trees together. At first I only gave her ten. I wanted her to feel like she got something done. We were in the bottomlands and she could really work that dibble bar. She got those done and I gave her I think about five more. In all, she planted about 15-20 trees. I was really impressed. Again, it wasn’t work to her. She was proud of herself and couldn’t wait for Jack to get home and tell him how many trees she planted.

We went out again this morning and planted even more. We are slowly whittling away at the trees, haha. The girls have also started to help with the animals more. Really they can do just about any farm chore there is. You have no idea how proud this makes me. Or how wonderful it is to be doing something and say, hey can one of you go out and check on everyone’s water and food? and for it to be done correctly. This fills my heart. It isn’t easy doing all of this with Jack working, but with their help, it is going. It really makes me happy to see my family working as a team and getting things done. This is the way it should be. I could go on and on about this but it would mostly be me rambling and saying how proud I am of my children and how wonderful they are. So we will leave it at that.

Work and how it helps you sleep at night

Not that it makes you less tired when you wake up though.

So we all have been plopping into bed somewhere between 8:30 and 9:00 at night. Usually we have just came in from putting baby goats up, taking care of baby chickens, maybe moving the chicken tractor and making sure everyone is ready to face the night. Then we brush our teeth climb into bed and really within 15 minutes everyone is snoring. As someone who has dealt with insomnia throughout most of my life, this is pretty amazing.

BUT I am still waking up at six in the morning. I’m still tired. I wake up, get ready and then wake Natalie up. Sometimes Gwendy and Layla wake up too. Most of the time it is Natalie and I going out to milk. This has been working pretty well. Waking Natalie up this early has actually helped her school work. Yesterday was pretty miserable. It was raining and while not cold, it was not warm either. It was however very wet. Miserable. We still got out there and milked. As Natalie was bringing another goat to me I heard the school bus go by. We had had a conversation a little while ago about how if she went to school she would be on that bus. She would have to wake up, eat breakfast and be ready to go for the day by seven. She looked at me in horror. I have to say I agree. The thought of getting them all ready by then, well, it doesn’t sound fun to me. Anyway, she brought me the goat and sat down on the milking stand. I told her that the kids on that bus were probably looking at her and feeling really sorry for her and thinking what a horrible life she must have. She looked at me strangely. So I asked her, it is pretty miserable right now, isn’t it? Yeah, she agreed with me, but it isn’t always like this. Obviously, she hasn’t milked through a winter yet 🙂 But still it isn’t always winter. Right?

It is nice though that she has that attitude. That is the attitude of a farm girl. I’m glad that we are living the life we are right now. I’m glad that my kids are growing up the way they are.

But damn we are TIRED!!! We started working on our bath house/milk station/laundry house. It is going well. I realized after looking at the weather that we needed a covered milking area quick. It is going along. Right now we are mostly covered. Between taking care of animals, building buildings, Jack working and home school, life is full now. It is much different than how it was last year. It is nice though. This is how we are happy. Though really I would so love to take the whole Jack working out. I don’t want to be part time farmers. I really really don’t. We don’t see any way around it right now though. We need money. We couldn’t be doing the things we are doing without it, sadly we can’t be doing all the things we want to do with it. I wish we had gotten some money trees along with the 1500 trees we got from the conservation area.

Really though life is good. I say that as rain is pouring down yet again, it is cold and we still need a fire. It is so dark in the tent currently that I can’t do much at all. That actually makes homeschooling interesting. Yet, somehow, even with all these things, it is good. We work all day, sleep well at night. Jack and I are both sore. Really sore and neither of us have the strength or energy to give the other a massage. Oh how my milking hand hurts. I do use both hands, but my right is the one I fall back on. I am milking three goats right now. I joke that I will be able to beat anyone at thumb wrestling in the near future. Of course, I am thinking that no matter how strong my thumb is, it won’t make up for how short it is. but maybe I will give better massages 🙂

I did go around and try to take some pictures yesterday. It is funny. I think about taking pictures. I see something like our baby goats climbing on my caldron and think damn that is great. I file it in my brain to pull up at some later date. I know everyone would love to see it though also. Just one good reason to visit, seeing baby goat antics. So yesterday, Jack didn’t need me for awhile so I ran and got the camera. I started taking some pictures. It only lasted a little while before Jack called me back down to help. But hopefully I will take a few more and post them on here. A little phrase keeps going through my head and I am tempted to rename this blog this blog is worthless without pictures. I know that is what you all really want.

Oh, I am going to close this out now. Just a few more little mentions. One we finally got enough milk from our adult goats to feed our baby goats!!! This is a big deal to us. I love goats, they are the cats of farm animals. I have to admit to loving our baby goats more than our adult goats, but oh well, right? They will come around I am sure. I have been looking hard for my sheep. I really want some great fiber animals, rambouillets, merinos, I have some shetlands that we will be getting in June. I really want some sheep!!!! Jack is also looking for sheep, but for meat breeds. We had a great trip to the farmers market and we may have found some. I am starting to get frantic as I only have two more fleeces. There is a fiber festival in June. I want to go, and I want to take some classes. I am unsure however if we will be able to afford it. Sadness. We got a few more chickens from a guy Jack works with. He was moving and we gave his chickens a home. However, one at least is an egg eater. We might be doing a little bit of culling. The electric fencing is doing great. We have moved the baby goats twice and the adult ones once. The spot after moving them looks like a freshly mown lawn. Okay, there is poop there also. Live with it. It is great though to look out and see goats happily munching. This is the life I want to be living. I will be happier when I look out at all of our animals and seeing them living happy healthy lives. Hmmmm. I think that is all for now.