The Rat Pack

We have all heard the statement I’m a dog person, or no I’m more of a cat person. There is no denying that each have their own personalities, their own way of expressing themselves. Even within the cat or dog world each breed, or pet definitely has their own way of doing things.   I always say I’m an equal opportunist when it comes to being a dog or cat person, according to recent studies I make up a small segment of the “pet loving” population.

Two years ago, we decided as a family, as I describe this cat, you will quickly realize this was not a North Carolina farm purchase, to get a certain breed of cat that was known for not being as aloof, one that was supposed to be affectionate and one that was going to be tolerant of being smothered by daily love from children, myself and dogs. We settled on a Doll face Persian or Teacup Persian. Yes I realize that isn’t the official breed and I’m okay with that. When we found old blue eyes, we quickly realized this little white kitten was not your normal cat. Sinatra was a dog-cat, would follow us around the house, would come when you called him, wherever we were he was, when company would come over he would come out and say hello and be at the door right next to the dogs to greet us. We also realized he was always watching us, almost supervising whatever we were doing. Old blue eyes quickly became the boss of the house, Sinatra the Supervisor. I will be honest until Sinatra all 6.5 lbs of him 4 lbs of which is all white fluffy hair came into our family I was a dog person, and even though he softened me, I didn’t really want more than one cat in the house, or in the car (yes Sinatra loved to go for rides in the car).

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The day we brought Sinatra home

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Yes Sinatra is on a leash just like the dogs!
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Sinatra going for a ride in the car!

Fast forward to June 2016, our very first full week living in North Carolina. Our house was in full demo stage of renovation and we had just moved from Florida. Sleep was overrated at this point in our journey and the nerves were completely raw. For all of those that have moved you know what I am talking about, for all those who have moved out-of-state, it’s a different level, and those who have moved out of state with children and animals, yep different level of crazy. My children were trying to settle in and figure out their new place in their new state. My son Dylan was visiting at a new friends house, when an old VW Beetle was brought to his friend’s house to be restored, as the car pulled up and the hood was popped, out from underneath the hood ran one very small animal, laying inside was another small animal, beside two small dead animals. Now what was said, or not said I don’t think my husband and I will ever know, but what we do know is my son was “gifted” as a big ole welcome to the country this half dead small animal that they claimed was a cat. Now I was not for this, in fact knowing what we were dealing with moving, renovating, not sleeping, adjusting, why would I be for caring for a dying animal. But I’m an animal lover, plus the peer pressure, and the false promises of the children stating you guessed it, “Please Mom we will take care of it,” had me caved in pretty quickly.

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I was told on the phone that this animal they were bringing home was a cat. This animal they brought home was no cat, this animal was an opossum cat. In fact I was so convinced that it was a baby opossum that I kept googling opossum babies and comparing the images I found to this thing Dylan brought home. People say baby anything’s are cute, the people who say that never saw this thing. But it was malnourished and very young and I couldn’t think of letting it go and die somewhere. So we goggled, (If you haven’t been able to tell Google has really given us valuable advise) “How to make formula for abandoned cats?”, and we immediately bought everything we needed to make her formula. We made an appointment with the vet who informed us this little calico kitten was a girl, that almost all calico cats are girls (this was new information to me that I have used and shared several times since) and that we saved her life, that she was probably only 24 hours away from death.

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Sammy the Opossum Cat

You know how you hear of people whose lives have been saved having a profound appreciation for those who saved it; well this little kitten had that. For an ugly, malnourished, wild kitten, she was expressive, happy, curious and so loving. It wasn’t long before Sammy Davis stole our hearts. Sinatra and her became fast friends, and we had the second member to The Rat Pack.

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Sinatra and Sammy Davis

It wasn’t going to be long before the third member was going to find it’s way to the farm.

Fences

We are going to call this simply fences. I read a quote from Will Rogers that said, “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.”  Somehow everything about this quote is relatable to us here on the farm.

One day before closing on our farm we were walking through the pasture looking at the property, I started to lose my balance a little, and grabbed the closest thing to me to prevent me from falling. As I felt a zap zap zap in the palm of my hands instead of screaming or even letting go, I proceeded to laugh. Yep, I had just grabbed an electric fence! I quickly learned how to spot a “hot fence” or listen for a sound that it makes.  Important and valuable information to learn!

Fences continued to be a big lesson we have learned about on the farm. A neighbor told us after getting the first two goats that if you ever want to know what condition your fence is in put a goat in the fence in question. We found this to be very very wise advice after adding another “kid” to the group, little Louisa, whose nickname could have been Houdini. Louisa’s first day here went surprisingly well, introduction to the other VonTrapp sisters seemed to be going good. She seemed to be a happy little goat bounding around, but that night while we headed out for the evening apparently Louisa planned her great escape. As we were across town, Jody’s phone rings and its our neighbor, he informed us on his way back from a Volunteer Fire Department call, he saw our new little tan goat Louisa running along the road. In attempt to remain calm we quickly escorted the children to the car, buckled up and then drove like Mario Andretti back to the farm. The children were convinced she was hit, she was gone, or other horrible things we will not mention here. As we pulled back into the driveway, we could hear her cute little goat song coming from the big pasture. Now let me paint the picture for you. We were coming back in dress clothes, it was pitch black out, and we live on several acres. Instead of running inside to change we decide to set up a goat blockade, with my husband in a suit, tie, Florsheim shoes and a headlamp, in an attempt to confuse Louisa and ultimately allow us to catch her.  Well we succeeded we were able to get her and return her back to the VonTrapps. To our surprise it wasn’t the fence that was the issue at all, it was the fact that goat could jump, in fact she jumped onto her goat house and straight out of her goat fence security.

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Meet Louisa

Fences and farms go hand in hand, in fact, I often wonder as many gates as I open and close a day are we fencing them in or are they fencing us out? It’s one of the first reminders we give to all who stop by and say hello. Did you close the gate, watch the fence, make sure the stall door is closed? Some do forget, we have had donkey’s in the driveway, a horse who practiced their 100 yard dash down our road, and most recently we had to recruit my parents French Bulldog aka my brother Harley to herd, you guessed it Louisa back in with the other VonTrapp’s after someone left the gate open.

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Louisa, Friedrich and Brigitta
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Harley the “unlikely” Goat Herder!

As the fence reads at our farm, “Please Keep Gate Closed. Don’t let the goats out no matter what they tell you!”

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I goat this!

As with any story there is a beginning although this isn’t the beginning of our “new life” in North Carolina, this is the beginning of bringing new life to the farm.  We figured with all the construction and the lack of real experience with farm animals, we would start with what we thought was easy.  We spoke to some neighbors got in touch with a guy who was looking to sell two lonely goats, that he no longer had a need for.  The day they arrived was an exciting day for us, because well they were our first new residents.  Now I’ll be honest the only real interaction any of us have ever had with goats before was at our zoo back in Florida, and at a petting zoo or two that we would take the children too.

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This was at a local petting zoo!  This is what we were expecting!

I didn’t think in my mind that it would be much different, I assumed they would be like any other cute, friendly, hungry goat we had ever visited with in the past.  Let’s just say that wasn’t at all the case, in fact, I don’t think these goats had ever been really handled, and most certainly not handled by the likes of us.  Let’s give you a mental picture, we are that family whose voice changes when we speak to living things, we are the family who attempts to speak dog, cat, or in this case goat.  We didn’t think it was too much to ask for the goats to immediately love us, I mean hello ladies don’t you realize how amazing we think you are!  As we showed the goats their new home, they ran as fast as the could away from us, we went to the left they went to the right.  The kids had treats, food, and even looks of come on goats we just want to hug you!

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As the kids looked at us with complete disappointment, my husband and I looked at each other and thought, why oh why hadn’t we just bought the tiny little bouncing goats we saw for sale online?  This was better we told the kids, since this is new for all of us, it’s better they are full-grown and hardier, they would be safer from potential predators, as I attempted to reassure myself, I mean them, I was also googling, “How to make a goat love me”  and made it my mission to break the goat code with these two lonely goats on a hill.  Wait wait, that sounds familiar high on hill was a lonely goat, that’s it we will name them after Vontrapp children because who doesn’t love the VonTrapp’s.  Welcome to the family Gretl and Brigitta, you’re going to love us, we goat this!

 

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Goodbye Salt Life…. Hello Farm Life!

This is the post excerpt.

A year later and wow the place is barely recognizable. We left our urban salt life behind in Florida one year ago and started our adventure with the purchase of a 140 year old farmhouse.   As we arrived in our small Western North Carolina town, two kids, two dogs, and well let’s pretend just two Haul’s  later, we never would have dreamed in just one year we would have been able to redo, reconnect and recreate a new reality for ourselves.  IMG_6409

We have been able to expand our barn, the farm, and our hearts.  We have added more life to the rolling pastures, more braying, neighing, clucking, and singing.  Why now would I share a look into our life here?  Well because we figure there are more people out there just like us.  People who think they want a change, a big change.  People who leave behind everything they have ever known for something different, something really different.  We left the salt life for the farm life.  It hasn’t been easy, but I can guarantee it has been amusing to many, including ourselves, as we have struggled at times with this new life of ours.  So if you are looking for some encouragement to try something new, some advice on what to do or not to do, or you just want a good laugh.  Stay tuned…..

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