Life whether its normal life, dysfunctional life, salt life, lake life or farm life, can sure be busy. It’s been to long of a hiatus for nothing more than normal life and farm life combined. We have had company, and full weekends compounded with daily chores and life with kids (the human kind), and boom suddenly it’s nearing the end of 2017 and I sit here thinking where did the year go?
So just to keep everyone on the same page, I had lots of names for the next blog, but we are going to simply call it UPDATES!
Here’s what has been happening on the farm. Friedrich has returned from his, well goat visitation, he came home happy and ready to continue his billy goat ways. Within a few days of being home, he made his presence very known, all of the girls clearly knew he had returned. Along with Friedrich we had a little sweet goat named Heidi come for a visit, and I have never seen goats so hospitable to a “stranger”! They immediately were excited about her visit and everyone seemed to get along perfectly, but since she was really here to visit Friedrich, her visit was short lived and the VonTrapp’s were saying “So LONG FAREWELL” to Ms. Heidi.
We have been getting lots and lots of questions about our pregnant horse “AJ” and Ms. Shawnee our chocolate donkey. Unfortunately we have experienced a lot of loss on the farm, and both pregnancies were somehow aborted at some point. So AJ and Shawnee are no longer pregnant, and we will not be having any foals in the near future. We don’t really know why, and we wish the outcome would have been different as we were so looking forward to the new additions. But both AJ and Shawnee are doing great and are healthy and happy so that’s the silver lining.
And finally I can say it I have been waiting and waiting to say these words, the greatest movie quote said in my best southern accent, “I gotta go, we got cows!” My farm wish has come true. We finally have cattle. For those that know me, and have been here to the farm, know how much I LOVE COWS! I have them everywhere, I collect fun ones, I have pictures of cows, and even a cow head in my kitchen. It was always a surprise for people to hear of all the animals we do have, that we didn’t have a cow. Now I love all cows, Jersey, Belted Galloway, Angus, Dexter, but my favorite looking cow of course is the classic black and white (shocker) Holstein, and as badly as I would still love one of them, we ended up getting three Angus, two girls and a boy.
*side note, if you are in the market for a cow, I do not recommended looking at a fair for one, or allowing one at the fair to try to coerce you into buying it. Found the cutest little Jersey cow at the local agriculture fair in our town, it happened to be from the “Biltmore” line of cattle, when I asked about how much they were I was answered with a short 15. I knew it wasn’t $15 so I said, “OH $1,500” which I received the reply, “NO $15,000!” I can’t even imagine, better be golden milk for $15,000.
For those who have not spent time with cows, they are a blast, especially young ones, they run, they jump (which I guess is where the nursery rhyme came from), they love playing with Chandler, they are friends to the horses and the goats, and they have the cutest noses ever. And although we have not assessed their skills on the tennis court, we had a feeling the two very athletic girls might have some skills. Introducing Venus, Serena and Bull!
They say admittance is the first step toward recovery. In a previous blog, I spoke about how chickens were like potato chips, you can’t have just one. I felt that we were at a point where we had the perfect amount of chickens for us. We were handling them, they were all well taken care of, everyone was getting along, and in the back of my mind I was thinking, we probably have enough. I was kind of proud of myself, and I thought maybe I’m really not the crazy chicken lady. What I failed to notice is what was happening around me.
You know how when you have a baby there are different stages of care, and as the baby grows and becomes a toddler, and then later is out of diapers, things start to seem easier and the thought of having another baby becomes less of a desire? Well that is kind of what was happening to me with the chickens. When we first started with all the chicks, we loved them and held and handled them a ton, and really enjoyed all of their sweet chirping. But as they grew, were able to go outside, and then began laying eggs, they were so much easier than the chicks, and I thought you know we are good, no more chicks for a while. It’s usually about that time when boom, life hands you a surprise.
My phone rang one afternoon, the kids were visiting a friend, and found a chick (a sweet little fluffy chick) “Mom, we think it’s a silkie!” (Exactly what I did not want to hear) “Mom, we need your help, please.” They insisted that I needed to drive across town exactly at that moment, because its chicken mom had attacked it and was rejecting the chick. Now they know how to tug at my heartstrings poor little fluff ball needed help. So in the car I went, to pick up a very tiny little cotton ball chick, we got her home and all set up in the barn, hoping that she would do as well as all of the other chicks we had hand raised. To say within a couple of days she flourished would be an understatement, she knew this was her new home and she was happy.
Okay I know what you all are thinking, one more chicken. One more white fluffy chicken that hardly will make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Agreed! But do you really think it stopped at just little fluffy Agnes?
This is where the tables turn. You see, I am not the crazy chicken lady; I am though married to the CRAZY CHICKEN MAN!
While sitting in the classroom with Dylan, Kayton walks in and announces that the chicks were back at Tractor Supply. I told her I knew I had noticed them the last time I was there the week before getting feed… I paused for a moment, thought about her statement then dismissed it, no they wouldn’t have gotten any chicks. A few seconds passed and I asked Kayton where Daddy was, she replied, “In the barn…. Putting the chicks in the cage with Agnes.” WHAT! Wait, chicks? Chicks as in must buy a minimum of 6 chicks? Here we go again! What did he get? They call them Asian Blue’s…. whatever that is? Into the barn I go to see 6 little black chicks, hopping around with Agnes. I gave him the look (you wives know the look I am talking about), only this was the look of seriously Jody more chickens?! The plan for these 6 I am not exactly sure… so that’s it right?
I was getting ready to leave the farm for a few days for an out of state baby shower. Before leaving a BIG box is delivered (thank you Amazon Prime), I never really saw what was in the box, but we get lots of stuff delivered so I didn’t really think anything of it. We head down to Florida for 3 nights, and then return. It was at the airport that I was informed we were on day 4. Day 4? What does that mean? 17 days left… I thought I must have lost something in translation. They will hatch in 17 more days, my chicken loving man says. They will hatch? How will they hatch? Why will they hatch? HATCH?! “Yes I put some eggs in the incubator I bought off of Amazon.” It was at this point I realized I HAVE CREATED A MONSTER! Let me get this straight, you put them in the incubator the day I left? YEP! And in 17 days we will have another flock of chicks? YEP! There better be an olive egger in this bunch that is all I am going to say. He smiles and said, “oh there will be a few!” Redemption!
So hatching day should be coming up soon, I’m not going to tell him, but I’m pretty excited about it!
As for Agnes and the other 6 they are all doing quite well. They have grown pretty quickly and will be moving into some bigger housing in another week or so, just in time for the little house to get the newly hatched flock.
So all those stories that were shared with us…. The stories about Billy Goats, the stories about the goat cologne and the like, shockingly accurate. Several weeks after the birth of the three babies, Friedrich our resident leash walking Billy decided it was time for the ladies to start noticing him again. I guess he assumed his children were old enough for him to move back in with his ladies. The guys around here started telling me stories about Friedrich peeing in their general direction, about him rearing up, about him becoming more aggressive with them in and around the barn. And I thought to myself, Friedrich my sweet little friendly man?
The week of the eclipse came, and as we were all looking and worrying about the effects on the animals, much of which was completely crazy. Friedrich became more and more atypical billy like. The day of the eclipse we had some friends here enjoying the amazing experience, by the way being in the line of totality was not all hype it was unbelievable.
As the eclipse passed, Friedrich decides to come over to the back pool deck and say hello to all our guests, it was at this point that I started noticing, he wasn’t my sweet little boy anymore he was a hormonal billy that wanted to do billy-goat things.
The very next week Dylan was in the barn mucking stalls and he came running in saying Friedrich won’t leave me alone in the barn, he keeps trying to pee on me, and butt me. My first reaction was to laugh, I thought seriously you are afraid of Friedrich, Jody walked out to the stalls and moved him into the pasture, only Friedrich was making this noise I had never heard from his goat mouth. Dylan said, “That goat is crazy, he was trying to lick me!” Lick you I said. What in the world! The next weekend we had company here visiting, and Friedrich did not disappoint, he chased us girls down in the side pasture, he sang a weird song every time he saw us, and you guessed it attempted to lick us every chance he got! (If you see me in person I can mimic this behavior with pretty amazing accuracy)
The question came to mind, now what!? What are we going to do with this weird hormonal goat? How about a goat stud service? There has to be a need for this around here, he really makes some beautiful babies.
So that is exactly what we did, I’m not sure it is going to be a new business venture or anything, goat pimping, but right now he is at the neighboring farm helping bring some “kids” into this world.
He is a happy goat, temporarily apart of a new “lonely goatherd” singing his little “O ho lay dee odl lee o, o ho lay dee old ay O ho lay dee odl lee o, lay dee odl lee o lay.”
Meanwhile, here our “kids” are really growing, hopping, rearing, and getting more and more mischievous everyday. They daily interact with each other, the chickens, and us. And if you ever think you are having a bad day, watch little goat’s play it is not possible to watch them interact and not at the very least smile.
There is a saying… “Mostly it is loss which teaches us the worth of things.” I would like to think as a human who has lost many important people throughout my lifetime, that I can see the worth of those around that we love before we ever have to lose them, and that’s what makes losing them so difficult.
When the children were small I use to read them a book called, “Alexander, and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” If today were a book it would be called Kayton, and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. We all have those days in life right, where you think will this day ever end? Where you can’t wait until bedtime so you can close your eyes to the day you just endured. Today was one of those days.
The day started with a drive to the orthodontist so Kayton could get her braces on. For anyone that has ever had braces it isn’t a jump up with excitement kind of time. It’s a tedious ordeal, that concludes with having a metal smile, that takes some getting use to, along with a very sore mouth that you never really get use to.
Today was also Donkey Day. A day that we have been waiting for, along with lots here in our town, both friends, acquaintances and even some strangers who read the blog in other areas far and near. We quickly learned through this process that things don’t always happen as one would hope, dream, or even sometimes wish.
Our little grey girl Christina, stole our hearts when she came to the farm one year ago, when we learned not long after her arrival here that she was expecting a little longears we were completely thrilled. She’s a special little mini, one that is loved easily by all who meet her, she is gentle, sweet, and loves attention. After many months and then many more months, we started to see that Christina was growing with each passing month but when 12 months became 15 months we started to get worried. After careful conversation with the previous owner, and our vet, we estimated that this pregnancy had gone on for we believe several months too long. So this morning Christina was given a low dose shot not to start contractions but one that would help her body if it were truly ready to begin the process. When we returned home from the orthodontist, it seemed that the process had begun. Christina was pacing, restless, laying down, getting up, pawing at the ground, all the “signs of labor” I had been watching for since May were finally here. She was being very closely monitored, and it seemed like she was handling it all pretty well. As the evening progressed our vet came back over to check Christina and her progress, and thought and even warned us that the baby appeared to be breach.
When you are an adult you hear what’s being said, but you also hear what isn’t being said, I started to realize that this wasn’t going to go the way I was (everyone) was hoping it would, this was going to be complicated. When you are 11 you don’t even really know what breach means, you are on the wave of excitement. The innocence and love of a child is such a blessing!
The labor continued to progress and I continued to stay stationed in the barn, and look for the continued signs. As the sunset, and the farm grew quiet, Christina became more agitated, more vocal, and now had all the symptoms of full-blown labor. Suddenly the moment we had waited over a year for happened, we saw a bubble, as I watched the bubble protrude and get pushed further and further out with every contraction, our one fear was accurate, the foal was breach. The sac though looked different from every picture I had looked at, totally different than the goats, and not at all what our vet described, it was BRIGHT BLOOD RED! As Christina gave one last push, there completely enclosed in the sac was a tiny little donkey. Dr. Jessica was here just in time, freed the baby that was trapped, and began the heart wrenching task of stimulating this little black foal, to take a breath. As the minutes marched on the harsh reality of what we were really witnessing smacked us right in the face.
Our little baby who we nurtured, talked about, wrote about, thought about, and planned for, over the last 16 months was gone! We lost our little donkey (it was a boy). Christina apparently had something wrong with her placenta, and it was so thick that the baby wasn’t getting the nutrition or the oxygen that it needed, this could have been one of the reasons she was so overdue, and was also the reason for the sac being so thick and red. We are so very sad, Christina is even in mourning, this was a tough one.
Goodbyes hurt the most, when the story was not finished. As someone we hold near and dear said this evening, “Don’t ever let life make you sour to the beautiful things God has created for us to experience and enjoy.”
Thank you Dr. Jessica for your love, support, amazing care, and promptness. There is not another vet we would want to call our friend or have as part of our family.
Certain subjects can produce reactions in different types of people, like women, somehow when a group of women get together childbirth stories, or talks about hormones, at some point seems to come up. Some women have horrific stories of labor and delivery; others talk about hot flashes and menopause. Young or old, it’s a subject that somehow bonds the masses. Men though talk about much different topics, sports, beer, cars, how they got a particular scar, hunting, or grilling. Kids both boys and girls, between the ages of about 4-8 seem to get an absolute kick out of talking about poop, their own, their siblings, an animal, it’s a topic that often embarrasses the mothers and cracks up the fathers. It’s such a fun topic for children that there is even books about it. Imagine a child’s reaction in this age group to the farm, where we have lots of well POOP!
It never fails whenever anyone comes to the farm, within moments we can tell how the visit is going to go. If they immediately start high-stepping through the pasture like they are walking on hot coals, we know that they haven’t spent much time around horses, or the like. I always laugh when we have kids come to the farm, and we hear oh my are those your…. Before they can even say horses, either giggling or eeewww it’s pooping follows it.
This is probably the point you all are like really? Is she really blogging about poop? The short answer I guess is yes.
You see like with everything else here, there was a learning curve. We honestly didn’t know how to handle or what to do with it all. It’s something after the age of 8 stops becoming amusing, and there is no manure for dummies books out there. So we had to learn on the fly (literally). This is where things started to get really really interesting. After several months, of waiting for it to break down, moving it around, and using it as fertilizer we realized this was not working, there was WAY to much of it. So we decided to build an area where we moved it all, we got some composting worms, and allowed them to do their thing. Then came some discussions with people asking us if we were going to sell it? Sell it? Are you kidding me, who would? Wait people actually pay for poop? This made me laugh. So my husband the Craigslist King, decided he was going to check out the market for manure sales. Well I grew impatient and wanted the stuff gone, so we opted to put an ad up for free manure. And I’m sure you all know what happened next.
The phone calls started coming through, and Jody and I both became 7 years old again, every single time the phone would ring and we would hear someone say, “we are calling about the manure you have on Craigslist” (insert obnoxious laughter).
Suddenly the pile started to dwindle, we had people come in trucks, we had people bring trailers, we had a woman in a mini van drive an hour to load her van full for her potato farm. I now know more about manure than I ever dreamed possible, and it started as one of the few things here I gave little to no thought. What I thought the animals did with everything I researched feeding them is completely beyond me. But just like anything else in life, the more you are around something and the more you do something the more you learn, the more it becomes second nature. You can choose to embrace it (let’s hope not literally), or fight it. If only we were as smart as a guy I just recently read about named Brett Reinford, who converted manure from his cattle into electricity, he went from spending $2,500 a month on electricity for his farm to absolutely nothing, that is amazing.
Since we don’t live on a Suessical Farm where everyone’s a pony that eats rainbows and poops butterflies, we will continue to have a plan for poop, because what goes in certainly does come out.
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.
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.
As the saying goes people (animals) are going to stare, make it worth their while.
As we arrive back home after a very long day of crossing several state lines. We are so happy to be home with Chandler and Phoebe’s newest “FRIEND”!
Although we didn’t get to see any crossover episodes of Friends and Seinfeld back in the day, the comedy will continue here at the farm, and everyone will soon hear about our return trip to Kentucky to pick up our sweet boy, and our LONG trek home!
Have you ever met someone and you just knew that person was going to be in your life for the rest of your life. Whether they became a best friend, or you marry them, or you end up having them as part of your life for years and years. The relationship that you are able to sense from the moment you meet them isn’t always apparent, but when it is, you walk away from that meeting feeling like you have known that person forever. Introductions to animals can often times happen the same way. You hear people say they didn’t pick the animal or pet the pet picked them. Unless you have experienced it, it can be difficult to explain.
After we lost our horse Bull, we were all besides ourselves with sadness, he made quite the impact on all of us in a short amount of time. We cried over that horse. Those sad tears became happy tears in a very short period of time. You see the day we lost Bull I was in Georgia visiting with a lady who had decided she needed to give up her horse, she didn’t have the time she felt the horse needed and after talking with friends of friends, she was given Jody and I’s number. Before committing to anything, I wanted to meet the horse and her of course, and see if there was anything there. Well upon introduction to Ms. Scarlett, that feeling I described above how sometimes you just know, was the feeling that came over me. Scarlett would be an amazing addition to the farm, and the feeling was mutual we immediately bonded. Scarlett didn’t come home that particular evening but arrangements were made to bring her home.
Upon my return though that evening as I entered the barn, and was struck with the visual of Bull being gone, a friend that was visiting noticed, AJ had what they call“bagged up” meaning you could see her milk bag, which usually is a sign of pregnancy. Now this was a wild thought to us, because first of all we did not have a stallion anywhere close to her since arriving, which would mean she would have been bred before we even got her. We were in disbelief and were trying to put all the pieces together. So we decided it was time to call Dr. Jessica back to the farm, now remember 24 hours previously she had been her to put down our horse. Now she was being called to confirm a pregnancy. What a difference a day makes, huh? Well let’s just say the milk bag never lies. Miss AJ (Angelina Jolie) was definitely pregnant. How far along she was, who the father is, and when this baby will arrive is all still a mystery here on the farm.
Many months later, we still have a pregnant horse and a pregnant donkey. They love to give us false signs of labor. They have been moody, exhausted, and downright unhappy, but they are still holding on. It’s the joke around here, you still have that pregnant horse, or you still have that pregnant donkey? It feels like we are waiting on them, like the world was waiting on April the giraffe. Every time they make a noise, disappear from view, lay down, or put their ears down we think they are in labor. I just know at this point when it does happen we are going to probably have none of the signs we have been looking for and we will walk in the barn, and their will be an extra 4 legs waiting on us. We have waited on every full moon, new moon, old moon, rain storm, weather change, or any other thing they claim can cause an animal or woman to go into labor. We have had both Christina the Donkey and AJ the horse checked, rechecked, and ultrasounded, all confirm the same thing we have two VERY pregnant animals.
So that feeling I had, it was accurate! Scarlett arrived at the farm, and she has thrived. She went from not knowing her place and her role here with the other girls, to being the boss. Scarlett rules ALL! She is affectionate, sometimes pushy, and always looking for attention. She fits in perfectly, she loves to run and doesn’t like anyone in front of her. She immediately bonded to all of us, she is friends of Bing, occasional stall mates with Deani Martini, and besties with Carousel. Introductions went well, when we brought Scarlett here, we put her with the donkey’s in an adjoining but separate pasture, one where they could see and hear one another but were separate enough to not injure one another, after a few days we allowed them to touch over the fence, but still not be together. Finally in just a few days we put them all together in the same pasture, and what a sight. The three girls all ran around Scarlett, and they lapped the acreage again and again, once they stopped they would talk to one another, and then run around again.
It didn’t take long for her to be accepted. Now they hate being separate, one day when we were painting my parents house, my mother went outside and standing in her driveway were two people with a bag of carrots. As some of you read this that will probably strike you odd, and it would have struck me odd before moving her. But since moving here it is NORMAL, we often will walk outside and people will be standing on the fence line taking pictures, or just watching the animals. So when I heard this I assumed they brought treats for the horses, it wasn’t until I saw the look of panic on their faces that I knew something was up!
The man said to me, uh we were driving up this way and saw two horses standing in the middle of the road, we didn’t know whose they were until we saw that fence over there was open (of course an open fence). As he is talking I’m trying to figure out how to get the horses down a very steep path, through a small gate, but hold on a second, how on earth did they get up that steep bank in the first place, suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by the horses who were still behind the fence screaming to the two that were outside the fence. I decided to run to the barn to get a halter and lead rope. Upon my return, the girls on both sides of the fence had gotten themselves so riled up, that Scarlett was running like she was in the home stretch of the Kentucky Derby. The visuals that were happening inside my mind were terrifying, and all of them ended badly. Two options, open all gates and hope that the girls in the fence stay in the fence and call her in, or hope she wears herself out and allows me to put the halter on her so I can walk her back in. I opted for the first, and opened the gates, one person stood at one gate, one at another, as we tried guiding her into a smaller area which then led to the open gates. After what seemed like eternity. WE DID IT! Scarlett, Carousel, AJ, and Oreo were reunited, and have never used their horsepower on the road again!
As I conclude, AJ and Christina would like everyone to know, “YES THEY ARE STILL PREGNANT!”
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!
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.
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.
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!”
You know that scene from the Lion King where the new King of the Jungle is born and all the animals celebrate. It would appear that scene was over exaggerated for animation, I always thought it was a great beginning seeing the little baby lion held up for all the animals to see and welcome. They all seemed to gather around to see the baby, welcome it and yell with glee. As it turns out it isn’t all that exaggerated.
In January of this year, we added Friedrich to the VonTrapp family of goats, he was a sweet billy goat, yes you heard me a sweet! He was really socialized, man that sure makes a difference, and so friendly. (So friendly in fact he has no problems, riding in the car, or being walked on a leash.) He fit in nicely with the girls, they accepted him into the family and it didn’t take long before they did what goats do, make more goats!
As the next few months past, we noticed Gretl really starting to show; since she has some Pygmy in her line and is a “low rider” she seemed to show quickly. Our vet confirmed what we were already seeing and did an ultrasound, two little goats’ twins were seen. We soon realized that Brigitta too was expecting, although we had no idea if she had one baby, two or three in there. Or who was pregnant first.The days, weeks, and months have passed, and Gretl just continued to grow. In fact she was looking so big and uncomfortable that it almost looks like she is going to explode.
You know those nights you go to bed like before a big trip, and you set your alarm because you have to get up early in the morning, but it doesn’t take you long to think setting the alarm was pretty much pointless, because you never really sleep, you seem to stay up all night waiting for the alarm, because you are nervous it won’t go off, or you will sleep through it. This has been me for weeks now. I think I hear bleating in the middle of the night, I listen for kicking in the barn, or neighing from the horses. I run out in the morning and count goats and donkeys just to make sure one wasn’t added in the hours I was asleep. Well last night was all of that with an extra oomph. Jody and I went to bed, and the natives were restless, the dogs never quite settled down, the cats ran to and fro throughout the house. About 2 am Chandler and Phoebe both started to bark, and ran outside, I was convinced this was it….. Nope all seemed normal, we were awake, dosed back off, 3:45am again awake, and nope nothing. Finally at about 6:30am I gave up and decided to just get out of bed and have some caffeine. As I walked into the kitchen all I could think of was how this totally stinks, why am I up so early after barely sleeping on a Sunday morning? This was going to be a two-cup of coffee day.
As I sat down to drink my coffee, and looked outside, I thought today is going to be a beautiful day, the birds were already singing, the sun was starting to peak out. I drank my coffee, and for a moment enjoyed the quiet room, and morning Mountain View. About 7:30am I look out the front windows toward where the goats are and I couldn’t really see the goat house, because both donkeys were standing there blocking it. On the other side of the fence the horses were all kind of standing there, Roadrunner our rooster was really singing his good morning song, and the lambs were running back and forth, like they are running sprints. Something seemed askew. I put on my boots and walked toward them, and there were no sounds that made me think anyone was in labor, and to be honest, I had just spent a good 30 minutes watching a man on YouTube deliver goats, because Gretl had isolated herself, and I had read somewhere that was a sign. This whole thing is new to me, and I have always been the type that the more I read, watch or research the better. As I got closer, Gretl moved from the corner of the goat house, and I see something bloody. Wait is that what I think it is, yes it is it’s a baby, a tiny little very new baby, and I CRY! Yep I sit there in the goat house and cry.
Once I pull myself together I realize, we have a baby, a healthy beautiful little baby! I stand up look around and see movement at my parents house and start to yell across the pasture, yell who am I kidding I WAS SCREAMING! I then scream for Jody, I screamed so loud, that I was like the monkey that holds the baby up in the opening scene of Lion King. All of the farm family came running to see, all of the horses, stuck their heads over the fence, the donkeys, Friedrich, the lambs, even the chickens had a bunch to say. WE HAVE A BABY!!!
Wait, whose kid is this? I looked at Gretl and she was still big as a house and completely uncomfortable. Then I noticed Brigitta pushing out some of the after birth and realize , it was Brigitta’s baby, we were so worried about Gretl that some how we missed all of Brigitta’s signs and she just did what she needed to do. Brigitta came right over and started nuzzling the baby. The relationship between mother and baby is so incredibly special and beautiful, she cleaned this little baby all up, she was gentle and sweet. The baby stood, the baby cried, the baby nursed. All the horrible videos on YouTube and horror stories I have read for the last few months were put to rest, at least for right now. WE HAVE A BABY a healthy adorable little kid!
Brigitta and Friedrich along with the rest of the Barrows Family, have a sweet little girl, she too is a VonTrapp, introducing Marta, born July 2, 2017.