Love to laugh…

One of my favorite movies as a child, and still even now is Mary Poppins, I can still sing the words to almost every song, and I always appreciated how Mary had a real way of making even the menial sometimes miserable chores seem fun and enjoyable. I also loved how she was stern when she needed to be yet she was respected and admired for it. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when they laughed so hard when visiting  a friend that they ended up having tea on the ceiling. Who can watch that scene and not relate to all of the different laughs people can use, and it really shows how infectious laughter is.

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Some people refer to laughter as medicine. Others say it’s contagious, however you refer to this outburst of joy, no one can deny how it is often necessary, sometimes spontaneous and really is chicken soup for the soul. I have found in life that when times are dark, when things get hard, the first thing that is usually missing is some type of joy, some kind of laughter. Laughing at stupidity, laughing at a joke, laughing at yourself, laughing alone, with family, or friends, is a blessing.

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My family is laughers, we sometimes laugh loud, hardy, boisterous laughs that scare or catch others off guard, we have been known to get a case of the giggles at times when we shouldn’t and later when we think about it start all over again with tears running down our face.

Here on the farm we are surrounded by comedians, which perform stand up comedy routines, daily. Some are funny looking, some are funny acting, and some purposely do things to get a reaction from you. We are living many of the viral videos I see posted on social media, the videos of funny goats, crazy chickens, floppy clumsy puppies, or people who attempt something only to suffer great fails. Goats really do run and bounce off any and everything around them, puppies really do fall over their own feet, and people really do get drug in flip-flops attempting to hold still pregnant donkeys (okay maybe that video hasn’t gone viral yet). The term funny farm isn’t really a stretch.

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I find myself in the barn, the pasture, the goat pasture, the coop smiling, not because the task is always enjoyable but because the creatures here at Firefly Acres are always ready to perform, ready to take something menial, or miserable and make it fun. The animals are Mary; they know with every job that must be done there is an element of fun. This is life isn’t for sissies, or for the faint of heart… it isn’t something where everyone can take the day off, or one person can handle it all. But when we don’t sweat the small stuff, when we work together as a team, when we find the humor, the chores become less of a chore, and the time we spend doing these chores go by faster. This is something that young or old can surely benefit from, laughter is an instant vacation, it can transport you to a place that on the outside appears normal, dismal, or nothing special, into a moment that is enjoyable, memorable, and treasured.

When my grandmother was in her final fight for her life, we were sitting around my parent’s house just existing together really. This particular evening she was up sitting in the living room with us, from an outsider looking in, this would be what many would define in the moment as an uneventful, maybe even a bad night. The details of what transpired I do not recall, other than my French Bull Dog comedian brother Harley got very excited about something and with that excitement came drool, and some how that drool found it’s way into my son Dylan’s mouth. What transpired after that was a sprint to the restroom with the dull sound of dry heaving in the background, we though couldn’t hear those sounds because we were laughing so hard, so loud, and with such gut wrenching force that Gigi almost fell off of the couch. We all needed that moment (Dylan will say he definitely did not need that moment) but that memory, her laugh, the look on her face, the uncontrollable tears that resulted are etched into my brain, and the brain of all those that were there on that night. I truly believe what is written there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.

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When our friends and family come to the farm, we laugh, we enjoy one another’s company, we watch the comedians perform, we laugh at some who visits phobias, and we laugh till it hurts or until we can’t hold our bladders anymore. We create memories from time spent together. We take a break even if it’s just for a moment to laugh through our noses, because we love to laugh, loud and long and clear.

What are they all looking at?

I’m sure everyone has seen those dinner bells on the front porches of homes, most of the time they are depicted on older television shows, or in a farm setting like we have here. The wife prepares dinner and calls everyone in using this dinner bell. Living here on the farm I have realized that the bell would be a waste and definitely not needed. In fact we have become almost secret service agents in an attempt to not alert anyone around to our whereabouts yet somehow they always seem to know.

A typical day here on the farm is coffee (because life without it would be scary) and then the morning check in. We make sure everyone is present and accounted for, and then the job of feeding the masses begins. Dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, donkeys and horses, are you out of breath? As the day progresses we personally check on everyone make sure they all have water, we listen for odd noises (like baby Kurt whose new budding horns got stuck in the fence so he screams until someone frees him). This week has been an interesting week for odd things. You see normally when the masses even here a peep they all start making themselves know, the squeaky wheel gets the oil they say how about the loudest screamer gets fed first. It seems that no matter where I turn there is a set of eyes staring at me.

It is a very common thing to walk towards my car, walk out on the porch, drive thru the front gate or even when I’m on the phone, someone will hear me and demand something from me. Since I think I have learned how to speak the foreign languages of Christina the donkey, Gretl the goat, Feather Locklear the chicken, Ellie Mae the duck, and whatever language Zuri and Zahara the sheep speak, I have been able to discern for the most part what exactly everyone is needing or wanting. For instance, if I go into the barn to put feed into the feed bins you will hear the sheep begin to baaaaa at a volume that is almost shocking for their size, which will get Christina and Shawnee braying so loudly that if you are inside not aware of what is happening you would assume they are in labor (one can dream at least), which will get Friedrich the goat bleating for food, attention or because he just wants to be louder than the ladies, which will get Beep Beep crowing so loud from the chicken coop that he could wake the neighbors down the road. I know this sounds like a bad soundtrack to a farm based horror movie, but you get so accustomed to the noises that if you don’t hear them you begin to get nervous. It’s exactly like when your children decide to play quietly, you immediately run to check on them because something has to be really wrong.

The other night I walked outside and looked over towards the pasture, at the chicken coop, and I see all of the chickens and ducks jammed up in the smaller section of the oversized enclosure.  Now this was a very odd sight because there has never been a time when the chickens see me that they all don’t run towards me and towards the area they know I am going to enter, this time though they all just stood huddle together and not making a peep. This was concerning, so I decided it was time to investigate, which made everyone come alive, wanting attention, food or to just be heard, so much so that for a moment I was distracted and almost lost sight of what I was really doing out there. As I entered the enclosure a couple of the ladies came towards me, but the majority stayed huddled all together, and I got a sinking feeling like maybe something is in the coop trying to attack them, as I threw down some treats for them, I noticed Heidi Plume (one of my Columbian Wyandotte’s) hanging out in the nesting box, but where was Cruella DeHen her Wyandotte sister? And then I saw her, almost completely flat like a little pancake stuck between the big main enclosure and the small coop where we put the smaller chickens that we raise. She was bleeding, and it didn’t appear she was even blinking. I yelled for Jody, because getting her out was going to be no easy task, we had to pick up the small coop, and move it so we could free her.

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At this exact moment our vet Dr. Jessica was driving in to check the still very pregnant Christina, so Cruella immediately got checked out, she was going to be okay but she did have a broken tail, her neck was missing most of her gorgeous feathers, and her skin was severely bruised. We still have no idea how she got in there, or how long she was in there, but she lived to tell about it, and is now separate from her girlfriends because chickens will bully or peck at the one they feel is injured or weak, so at night she sleeps in her own secure area and during the day we allow her to hang out with the goats and Heidi, until two days later, when she apparently convinced Heidi to squeeze into the very same spot we rescued her from before…..apparently chickens do not have memories like elephants.

What I have learned from being a mother to human and non-humans is noise signifies life, the louder sometimes the more alive. Although we can often bask in the quiet and feel that silence is golden, if it lasts too long, and it’s an animal or a child investigate. Cruella is improving although her tail is crooked, and her feathers don’t look like they will come back around her neck, she is alive and we are hoping she doesn’t continue to try to make herself into a chicken patty. And tonight just like the night before, all of the farm sang their song as soon as they heard me coming in their direction, and as usual all eyes were on me, all of them rudely staring so unapologetically.

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As the saying goes people (animals) are going to stare, make it worth their while.

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Chandler Meets Kramer

Déjà vu…. How do you define it? It’s a French term that basically means something you have already seen or something you’ve already lived through. Or how about the feeling where you meet someone brand new, but you feel like you have known him or her for years. This past week we experienced a little bit of both, as we returned to Winchester, Kentucky.

The day had finally arrived and with the tough week I had experienced I was reluctant to make the trip especially in pain, but I figured that sitting in a car in a reclining position wouldn’t set me back too far in my recovery. This time I wouldn’t be driving; Jody was coming along, as well as Dylan, Kayton and Chandler. (Phoebe’s condition isn’t  conducive to long traveling anymore) As you can imagine, the car is full of excitement for some and what in the world is happening for one.

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Then begins the déjà vu as we crossed the state line into TN, the rain began. Three hours later as we crossed the KY state line the rain continued and continued and continued. As we pulled into Flanagan Springs, there was no sign of the rain diminishing. We pulled through the gate and up the drive and the rain kept falling. Now after such a long ride in the car even with a couple stops, if you are 1-year-old Setter, you have had just about enough of well setting. So out Chandler came, to be greeted by Chandler Doppelganger’s. One’s that weren’t quite as large as he is but were just as friendly, and suddenly this semi confident boy became a big ole baby. We were reunited with Susan who took us around the corner to find our sweet little man, and we all felt it again love at first sight.

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We decided the weather was not going to rain on our parade, so we walked up to see Flag Kramer’s dad, along with the other puppies, the wild rumpus began. In the rain down the drive to the lower field Chandler the puppy pied piper led the crew.

 

One puppy in particular became completely enthralled with Chandler, that puppy knew exactly who his big brother was. It made me have flash backs to the day Dylan first laid eyes on Kayton and he asked us, “Is that mine?”

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At this point we were all soaked, the puppies were wet and muddy, Chandler was wet and muddy, but we didn’t let it stop us, in fact nobody seemed to really care. Not long after going down to the lower field the sun came out from behind a BIG BLACK CLOUD. And then the real fun began for Chandler and all the puppies. They ran, they chased, they handed out dozens of puppy kisses, they did everything puppies want to do, and need to do, and Chandler all 85 lbs of him did it too. Chandler was reunited with his dad Brandon, who 1 year ago looked like a giant compared to Chandler only now stood shorter and leaner next to his son.

Any apprehension about these two boys I had, born exactly one year apart (Memorial Day 2016 and Memorial Day 2017) had vanished. They immediately bonded. Before we made the long trek home, these dirty dogs needed baths, and to say some goodbyes to Susan, the puppies, and the new friends we had met (the new owners of another litter mate Copper). As we loaded Chandler and Kramer in the car, it hit me again the déjà vu only this time as I was looking at the paper work. It wasn’t just the Flanagan Springs name across the top or the fact we were pulling down the very same drive with another precious family member, it was the date July 28, 2017, and thanks to good ole Facebook and the “on this day” feature I was quickly reminded that one year ago on the exact same day, I was pulling down this very same drive with Chandler, life can be ironic sometimes.

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The drive home was LONG, and by LONG I mean LONG. The rain started again, and came down, sideways and at times almost appeared to even fall upward. The traffic was awful, Google Maps kept redirecting us around numerous accidents and road hazards, a 4.5 hour drive started to look more like 6 hours, and just as we had spoken to Susan and Copper’s new parents about the questions started.  When we stopped for gas, stopped for potty and stopped for food, people come out of the woodwork with questions and comments. What kind of dog is that? Where did you get them? They are so soft. They are so cute. Is it a mix? Is it a long-haired Dalmatian (always my personal favorite)? So we become walking talking spokespeople for a breed that we think is AMAZINGLY special. The two new “friends” Chandler and Kramer did perfect on the ride home, even with all the delays, the children they were just like any siblings on road trips, only it wasn’t the normal “Dylan is touching me, Kayton is being annoying” no this time it was “Dylan is hogging Kramer” or “Kayton keeps messing with the puppy trying to take him from me!” Awww how cute they are fighting over the puppy… Jody and I smiled, and thought wouldn’t it just be wonderful if we heard them fighting over feeding and taking the puppy outside (yes I know but parents can dream).

The two great 90’s comedy sitcoms aren’t just running as an old rerun on Nick at Night. New episodes are being created here on the farm, in fact in just two days lots has already been filmed along with plenty of blooper footage, first episode, “The one where Kramer discovers Sinatra” or “The one where Kramer’s noises scare Chandler” or “The one where Kramer meets the French Man”….

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So for all those wondering what a Friends-Seinfeld cross-over looks like, well it’s black and white, set in the country and kind of barks at you!

Welcome to the Farm Kramer!

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Are You My Mother?

Have you ever read the book, Are You My Mother? It’s about a mother bird who leaves her little egg in the nest, and when she returns the baby had hatched and went out looking for his mother. He asked all kinds of different creatures, Are You My Mother?” What amazes me about that story is how it really isn’t too far from reality.

Here on the farm, we had two births within one day of each other; the first one was Brigitta, who delivered a bouncing little girl named Marta. One day later, Gretl was finally inspired and she gave birth to twins, a little boy Kurt and a little girl Liesl. The only goat birth I had ever experienced was Brigitta and she was an excellent little mommy, everything you would hope for, Marta was healthy, clean, and happy. But she was like this little bird from the book, she had no idea who her mother was at first, she would attempt to lick and nurse on our noses when we held her, she would follow Gretl and Louisa around, until she heard the call of her mother, than she would immediately perk up and run to the direction of the call. So when it came time for Gretl, I thought well it would be similar to our previous experience. Now why I would think this is completely beyond me, because when have you ever seen or heard of two people’s pregnancy, delivery, and parenting style even be similar.

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Well Gretl was no Briggita, when her kids were born, she was ornery, she didn’t act like she was bonding with them at all, she wouldn’t nurse them, and when little Marta came bouncing over to check things out, she butted her clear out of the goat house. The twins snuggled up to me, they began following me around and I started to get really nervous, they had the sweetest looks on their little goat faces, almost asking are you my mother? They walked over to Brigitta with the same look, and I immediately developed a sinking feeling that she might just reject them, because maybe she isn’t the “mothering type”. So there I stood watching goats, and playing referee, Gretl didn’t want the kids next to her, but she didn’t want anyone next to her, the goat house they had all shared for months , she now claimed as her residence and if anyone tried coming in, they quickly were reminded whose house that was. So what do I do I thought? I went with instinct, I thought, maybe she doesn’t know any better, maybe she is completely exhausted she did just have twins after all. So I decided to clean up the house put in new hay for her and the babies, and give her a little food, and reprimand her every time she was aggressive to the other goats, or to the babies. Now because I did all of that all at the same time I’m not sure which one worked, but it didn’t matter because she started changing.

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I started noticing Gretl acting more motherly, after she ate a little, knew she wasn’t going to get away with being mean and had a fresh clean place to relax, she started loving on them, nursing them, and they knew suddenly she was their mother. Now the house hogging well that took a little longer to correct, the solution, put on an addition. That very afternoon, Jody, my father, and my uncle got to work and added onto the goat house, and all seemed right in Gretl’s world.

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Here we are now three weeks later, with three little kids, who are fast as lightning, brave, spunky, and quite full of themselves. They are bouncing around, jumping over one another, standing on their mothers, and getting quite steady on their feet. They play, they butt one another, and they scream if their mothers get to far from them. Louisa is serving as the “nanny” goat, she keeps everyone in line when her besties are sleeping, but really because she is still young I often think she is getting them more riled up and showing them how to get into trouble.

Here is what I have learned watching my goats. Goats are comedians, if you are having a bad day, just for a moment watch goats play. They jump sideways, they bounce, they flip about, and occasionally (when they have some fainting goat in their bloodline) they will just fall over. And if you look at them real close, it looks like they’re smiling. Sometimes when I’m having one of those days we all have, and am particularly annoyed by someone, I think to myself GOATS MAKE ME HAPPY…. You not so much!

Cats, Lambs,and Goats OH MY!

Do you ever have those moments in your life where you think back on something you did, only you are kind of in disbelief you did it? Like trying something different, doing something heroic, making a difference in just one person’s life, or doing something completely out of character. Since moving here I think instead of us being in disbelief  other people are in disbelief.

If you have ever cleaned out a chicken coop, you know it isn’t the most glamorous of jobs, who am I really trying to kid here, cleaning out the chicken coop is hands down an awful horrid task (my least favorite), they should do a “dirtiest job” episode on it. If there were ever a time I have wanted to wear a gas mask it is every time I have to clean out the chicken coop. It isn’t for the weak stomached that is for sure. If you would have told me 2 years ago that I was going to be living on a farm, and doing these things like cleaning out an awful coop, I would have told you, you were nuts. Now some how this life is enjoyable, satisfying, and we all know I really love my chickens!

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The questions we get all the time are….. who takes care of all the animals? Who cleans up after all the animals? How many animals do you have? Why do you have that many? Have you always been in and around a farm? What do you do if you all go away? There are always questions, inquiring minds want to know.

So here is the long and short of it all. Who takes care of all the animals and cleans up after all the animals? We do, we do not have any hired farm hands, we do not have any one that comes and cares for the animals at all except for us. We do have an amazing mobile vet that when things have gone askew we call and she comes and takes care of whatever we need. But otherwise, we are it. We physically see, talk to, feed, clean up after, and love every animal on this farm every single day.

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How many animals do we have? Well isn’t that a loaded question….. we currently have two dogs and two cats inside, we have a barn cat (the final member to the Rat Pack) Dean Martin….. who is actually Deena Martin (or Deani Martini… and her two kittens, Harry and Cali) I guess I should continue that story, we have 40 or so chickens, 4 ducks, 2 sheep, 2 donkeys, 4 horses, and now thanks to the birth of our new kids we have 7 goats.

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This question always makes me laugh…. Why do we have so many animals? Because we love them… is there really any other reason? And no we probably are not done, in fact I know for a fact we are not done. And yes we are aware we basically have a petting zoo, we are okay with that too!

Have we always been in and around a farm? NO! My father was born and raised on a farm in upstate New York, my love for animals could very well be in the blood. But neither Jody nor myself have ever owned a farm, or large animals or had acreage until we moved to North Carolina.

What do we do when we go away? Well it depends on the circumstances, since my parents built a house on the property, they will watch and care for things here on the farm if we go away on vacation and they don’t go with us.  If they go somewhere with us we have to ask someone to stay and keep everyone in line.

I will say this, if given a choice, now that we have been doing this for a year, I would choose this life. I/we know it isn’t for everyone. We know some people don’t understand it, and others are completely perplexed by it or maybe even grossed out, but we get it and we are really loving it. IT’S A LOT OF WORK! But the work is satisfying!

Our story is interesting, and often times humorous, it’s not everyday people drive with a lamb in the front seat of their BMW, through the Walgreens drive thru…. “Yes ma’am it is a lamb.” Or hold a billy-goat in the backseat of a car because it was the best way to get him home. Or transport two sheep in a dog crate in the third row of an SUV for 2 hours. I also don’t think most people would be nervous about the fence in the larger pasture not being secure, and think the solution to keeping Friedrich the goat safe and sound is to walk him around the pasture on a leash. But at the end of the day we have taken this new venture and we have adjusted, and we have made it HOME!

Now back to the cat with three names and 9 lives. A few months after moving here we had another cat dropped off here. Since Sammy was a barn cat fail, everyone kept telling me we needed a ‘mouser’ to leave in the barn and chase away or catch any and all mice. So when someone mentioned dropping one to me for my barn, I agreed. Before the cat arrived, I was really hoping that it was aloof and ugly. That would help ensure us not to have another fail!  When the cat arrived I was told it was a boy cat. Perfect I thought, ‘I don’t have to worry about kittens, I will get him neutered and we will be good to go!’ Well upon arrival I thought we might be in trouble, because this stray cat, was really cute, and really friendly. But I just can’t have another barn cat fail. Kids look at me, husband looks at me, cat looks at me. NOPE! BARN CAT! Dean Martin became the third member of the Rat Pack, and was living a good and happy life in the barn, he became fast friends with our horse Scarlett and all seemed okay. We called our vet and said we need to get him neutered….. fast forward a couple of months,  Jody and I went to California for our 15th wedding anniversary. Upon returning, the kids mentioned they had seen Dean while we were gone, but that he hadn’t been hanging out in the barn as much, immediately we thought he might have found himself a lady friend. That evening while I was in the barn, I realized two male parts (you all know what I am talking about) seemed to have vanished. We were almost positive that they were there before we left. So in a panic I called Jody to inform him about the lack of parts, and he recommended I call Dr. Jessica to see if she had come over and neutered him. After some conversation and being told she hadn’t yet, I look a little closer and realize that Dean Martin has as Dylan calls them nursers. Wait just a minute I thought, first this cat has missing parts, now it has a bunch of extra parts. Something is not right.

That evening Jody decides to do a little kitty spying, and after feeding Dean he follows him under the cloak of darkness wearing his trusty headlamp, to see where Dean had been going. (This seemed like a better idea, than Dylan’s idea of putting the GOPro on the cat). He followed him from the barn, up the side pasture, through the fence, over to the house, and then underneath the house. Jody then proceeded to squeeze himself into the crawl space under the house, where he found three kittens. So Dean was Deena, a girl cat, and when she went out one night got herself into some trouble and became Deani Martini….. These were very cute, pudgy, fluffy and well cared for kittens. She was an excellent little mom, and it all seemed to make complete sense. One of the kittens was homed, and the other two are kind of aloof, and really good little barn cats, so they have stayed here on the farm with Dean. All have now been spayed and neutered, and we hope we won’t be surprised with any more cats.

For the record, I have since learned how to tell the difference between male and female cats, and no it isn’t as obvious as you would like to think it is. I read a quote that pretty much sums it all up. “Here in the South we don’t hide crazy. We parade it on the front porch and give it a Sweet Tea!”

Friends of Bing

Whoever said diamonds are a girls best friend never owned a dog. A man’s best friend, a boy and his dog, or a true friend that leaves paw prints on your heart. For people who love there dogs there are a million descriptions. My children refer to our dogs as their siblings; my parents refer to their French Bull Dog as my brother (I really hope their isn’t any family resemblance between us), sorry Harley.

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My dog brother Harley

When we made the big move from Florida to North Carolina, we had two amazing dogs, a sweet, big eyed Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (who wasn’t doing all that well) Lexi, and a spunky black and white Springer Spaniel named Phoebe. We had both girls since they were only 7 weeks and when we moved to the farm they were both 8 years old. Before all the farm animals, before the Rat Pack, and as long as the kids could really remember Phoebe and Lexi were a big part of our family. The 9 road trips we made in between January and June between Florida and North Carolina, Phoebe and Lexi were with us. They were a family fixture and inseparable since we brought them home. We moved three times with our girls, we did dog fostering with Springer Spaniel Rescue, and for the most part where we went they went. Because of their sweet dispositions and demeanor, I never had to worry about them with children, and when Phoebe got a little iffy, with my parents puppy Harley we brought our awesome dog trainer Robin back over to help with introducing them, and in time they too became friends. They really were good dogs.

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Once we decided to move to North Carolina, we felt  it was time to get another puppy, one that was going to be bigger than the girls, playful and would do well with our new lifestyle. After some extensive research, and tossing around the idea of another Springer, we opted for a different breed, one that isn’t as common or easily found as some others. I made some phone calls, and ended up getting in touch with a woman I really just clicked with, a breeder in Kentucky of amazing English Setters, and after speaking to her, and seeing her dogs at Flanagan Springs I knew this was not only the dog for us but the breeder.

On Memorial Day 2016, 12 little puppies were born, I mentioned they were a hard breed to come by, and when I contacted Susan to put a deposit on a puppy she informed me that we were number 12 on the list. So the fact there were 12 puppies, had us very excited. From the moment we saw these puppies we were in love. We had our eyes on one little boy, but with being the last to pick we tried not to get our hopes up. As the weeks went by we received weekly updates and pictures of the puppies, and even though we all attempted to not get our hopes up, we couldn’t stop looking at that same sweet little boy, the black ribbon (that’s how we could tell them apart they all had a different colored ribbon on). The day came, that we would find out which little boy would be ours, and to be honest I was afraid to find out, I was afraid to tell the kids, but they are kids, and they seem to somehow always know the date when you would like them to forget. When I opened the message and was informed that black ribbon was ours, we all squealed…. So much for not getting our hopes up. The black-eyed, black eared little boy was our Chandler (yes we are huge fans of FRIENDS, in fact this is why we also have a chick and a duck….all fellow Friends fans will understand)

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The day had finally arrived for us to go and pick up our puppy from Kentucky. To say I was nervous was an understatement. You see right around this point Lexi really started to make a turn down hill. She was symptomatic of kidney failure, and was undergoing tests to either confirm  or to let us know what was happening. We also didn’t know what the girls would think of Chandler, or would we feel the same way about him as we did Phoebe and Lexi? We had some construction going on in the house that day, so Jody was unable to make the 5 hour drive with me. Kayton though wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to meet Chandler and the 11 other puppies. Wouldn’t you know it, my car never had car problems before until this day, I had never drove in hail until this day, nor had I ever been to Kentucky, so this was a day of firsts. All things were resolved, and we still made it to get our boy.

Upon arrival, we walked through the gate and all 11 puppies were there, now how would we know which one our Chandler Bing was? We didn’t need to know, apparently he knew we were there for him, and came running. As we made the long trek back to North Carolina with our new little guy, I wasn’t worried anymore, I just knew he was going to fit in perfectly. Introduction to the girls went great, Jody and Dylan loved him, everyone that met him immediately became his FRIEND! Living up to his name, this dog is a comedian, he knows when he is being funny and will look to you for reassurance. Watch dog, he isn’t in fact he leaves that up to his big sister Phoebe. He also is not aware of his grand size he thinks he’s an 80lb lap dog and sometimes thinks he is a parrot (he loves curling up behind us and putting his head on our shoulder). Chandler has been the most wonderful addition to our family, and has helped us deal with what was on the horizon.

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The symptoms we saw Lexi having, continued to progress. Her blood work came back that she was in renal failure. We decided that we were not ready and that we were going to continue treatment for as long as we could. We changed her diet, I started making low phosphorus dog food for her, she went in for a solid week for daily IV fluids, she was on medication along with pain meds. At first it seemed that maybe she was bouncing back. To us that would make sense, because Lexi, hadn’t been well for sometime, she had numerous issues in the years we had her, and we were told several times it was going to be it for her, and every time she bounced back. I think though she exhausted all her bounce, because after several months, she had no more zest left and we lost our sweet girl on May 15th, of this year. She too is buried here at the farm, and it just hasn’t been the same without her. Both Chandler and Phoebe were really bonded to their big sister, and for the first couple of weeks after losing her we would find Chandler lying near her gravesite. Losing a pet is heart wrenching, it is like losing a very special family member, to all those who have lost a pet, the pain is heavy.

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What we have discovered since moving here is having a farm is not for sissies. We have lost our horse, a few chicks, a baby lamb, and our beloved Lexi, in just the first year, yet we know the grief we have felt is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith, but it is the price of love. Despite the loss, the love we have for each other and all these awesome creatures we have here on the farm, is a blessing.

Can’t Have Just One!

Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s in the blood,” or “I opened my mouth today and my mother came out. “ Sometimes you go to do something and it just comes naturally. I feel like this is me with chickens. Now, I see the faces when I say the words, “I LOVE MY CHICKENS!” I also am asked often about how many chickens I have, let’s just be clear chickens are like potato chips you can’t have just one.

When I was a little girl I can remember my grandmother having chicken and rooster décor, as I grew older and had houses of my own I used roosters and chickens in several places throughout my house. I admired pictures that had chickens in them. I was always very intrigued by them. In fact for many years I would affectionately call my mother a chicken. But I never had my very own, until we moved to the farm. It was the purchase that I was the most excited about. I knew nothing about owning chickens. I did a bunch of research and read many articles, I couldn’t wait to walk outside to my very own coop and retrieve the eggs.

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I soon found out people have very strong opinions about chickens. Many people thought chickens were gross, mean and I hate to even say it but stupid. I was determined to find out as much as I could about how to make my hens happy, because happy hens lay more eggs or so I thought. Our first ladies we brought to the farm were already laying or about to start. Kayton who was also very excited about having chickens, used her own money and bought two Cream Legbar hens, that were only a couple of months old, she named them Pandora and Goldie. I chose a couple of “Easter Egger” hens, two Lavender Orphington’s and a gorgeous Easter Egger Rooster.

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Kayton  and Pandora
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Dylan & Kayton with Prince and Madonna the Lavender Orphington’s

Now this I think is where our chicken tale takes a sudden turn. You see Kayton’s two tiny hens became pocket chicks. Kayton would put them under her jacket and attempt to smuggle them into her bedroom. When we bought the “purple” or lavender orphington’s it was raining, what else should a purple rooster bought in the rain be named but “Prince” of course? We were kind of drawing a blank with the other rooster, until the night we brought him home he flew right out of the coop, and we couldn’t help but think of “One Flew Over the Coo Coo’s Nest”, so he became Jacko short for Jack Nicholson. One day on a break from school, Kayton decided to go check on Pandora, Goldie, and the others, when Jacko decided to venture out again. This time he really flew, as I was sitting in my home office on the phone with a client, I see my husband walking in slow motion calmly past my window calling Jacko, he attempted to toss his jacket over Jacko, and away he flew, right over the creek and straight into the woods, and was never seen again!

In a moment of weakness on a trip to my local feed store from the back of the store I heard the sweetest tweets and chirps. For a regular person baby chicks are very difficult to resist,  which made it near to impossible for someone like me, but who knew that there was a 6-chick minimum when buying them? After my husband rolled his eyes, and made comments about the 6 additions, on his next trip to the same feed store less than two weeks later, 6 more chicks came home. A few weeks later my daughter and husband were told that the last remaining duckling was about to go to wherever unpurchased ducks go, and because you guessed it a 6 chick or duckling minimum was required, a little Peking duckling and 5 chicks came home again. My husband became quite proud of himself, he had learned how to pick up “chicks.” In the meantime, I also discovered this amazing website that I could order any breed anyone could possibly want and they would ship it to your house, when I had placed my first order from this company, we were only one feed store purchase in, now we were multiplying at a much faster rate, because apparently we had OCD (Obsessive Chicken Disorder). People started labeling me “crazy chicken lady.”

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We were raising all of these amazing chicks, and I would tell people, you don’t understand these chickens all have names, they come when you call them, they run to us, they love to be held, and I could tell them apart. I already know you are thinking yeah right, unless of course you have chickens like this. But our ladies LOVE us, they run to me and flock around my feet, they love to be pet, many love to be held, and little Pandora who now lays beautiful blue eggs, will not leave us alone until we hold and cuddle her. Duck (yes that is his name) will hug us, he will talk when we talk to him, dances and thinks he is a chicken. I know what you are wondering so how many chickens did they end up with? I’ll plead the fifth, and Feather Locklear, Sophia Lahen, and Ginger aren’t talking either.

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Pandora
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Feather Lockler

Chickens for me were everything I had ever hoped they would be, and more! Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy chickens and that’s sort of the same thing.