Everybody Does IT!

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!

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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.

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This is probably the point you all are like really? Is she really blogging about poop? The short answer I guess is yes.

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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).

'I'm collecting manure for my strawberries.' 'I always put cream and sugar on mine.'

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.

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How long is a horse pregnant for? FOREVER!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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!”

Donkey Doula

Who wouldn’t love a miniature donkey? Have you seen them, they get very fluffy in the wintertime, they have mohawks and follow you around because they love companionship. To me adding a Mini Donkey to the farm was a no brainer. What are they good for other than loving and watching, to our surprise a lot? Kayton and I took a little road trip to a farm in Waynesville, NC that breeds donkeys. We heard a lot of opinions about donkey’s every time we mentioned getting one, we heard they were mean, stubborn, and pretty much worthless. We were a little reluctant to go to a farm full of them, would they bite us, would they even care that we were there? What a pleasant surprise upon arrival.

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Donkey Mohawk

First of all I can’t say enough nice things about Gail, with Rocky Branch Longears. From the moment Kayton and I got out of the car we knew we were going to have a hard time not leaving with all of them. When we entered the property these donkey’s came running to us, as we visited with Gail they leaned on us, they pushed one another out-of-the-way so they could be the ones to get the attention. How could we resist? Now the decision came, do we wait for a baby to be born, or do we buy one that is a little older, or do we buy a pregnant one so we can experience both?

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After some conversation we opted for the pregnant one, a little sweet tiny girl named Shawnee. Gail recommended that we get two because they need a companion but thought with the horses, goats, and us, she might be okay. So we settled on just little pregnant Shawnee. The day Shawnee came to the farm, my husband was still skeptical, because he couldn’t go with us and see for himself what we saw. He still wasn’t sure what the purpose of having this donkey (or you know that other name for them) was. I though knew he would feel very different in a matter of no time….. wait for it!! Yep quickly, and I mean quickly he saw what Kayton and I saw, and decided that Gail was right Shawnee needed a companion (less than 48 hours later). So back we went to Longears and purchased a little grey girl who resembled Eeyore, her name was Christina.

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I will tell you what a donkey is good for, mini or not. If something is threatening their family that something is going to get it. They have chased off a coyote, killed a red fox, and not left the side of an injured horse on stall rest. As of late they have also stayed in the goat pen, keeping pregnant Gretl company. In addition to all that they make awesome pets, they follow us all over the place and they love to be loved.

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As the story goes, time went on and we were so closely watching Shawnee, for signs of pregnancy progression, we were so focused on her that we somehow failed to notice what was happening to Christina and her expanding waistline. After several months, we figured out that Christina was really the pregnant one, or at least the one further along. And she started growing and growing and growing. It has been 12 months, and that donkey is still growing. She has been closely examined, inspected, and even had a little donkey ultrasound. And we continue to wait.

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Now ladies, imagine being vertically challenged like I am, and like Christina is and being pregnant for a year, only to know it could be up to 14 months before we see little longears born. Oh the pity I feel for this donkey. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am not normal, I know this, and I am okay with it, normal people wouldn’t refer to themselves as the donkey doula. They wouldn’t try and make a little donkey as comfortable as possible or have visuals of themselves sitting on the front porch rocking the new baby donkey, or do impressions of what donkey Lamaze sounds like. But that is what makes me who I am. So we wait, wait for the debut of the most fantastic little creature to join the rest of us here on the farm. We wait to see if it is a Jack or Jenny. Wait to see what color the baby will be. And wait for the oppurtunity to hold and rock this new mini long ears.

We hope you enjoy waiting with us anxiously, to hear the story of this donkey doula in action, and to see the sweet babies debut. Stay tuned the Barrows Baby Farm is coming soon!

Baby Donkey

 

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.

No More Bull

Contingency. Something that is dependent on the fulfillment of a condition. For example, I’m really excited about moving to North Carolina because I will finally get my very own horse. Kayton’s excitement for moving was contingent on having her very own horse. For all those women out there who were once little girls, I think most if not all of us have dreamed of having our own horse, we imagine ourselves riding with the wind in our hair. Kayton’s dream wasn’t much different from many others out there.

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We “thought” we were a horse family. Dylan had been going to the stables since he was 5 and taking riding lessons, many if not most of our trips and vacations as a family involved horse back riding. Both Dylan and Kayton spent 2 weeks out of every summer for 4 or 5 years at a local horse camp back in Florida, Horse Power for Kids. We all knew about tack, grooming, mucking stalls, and how most horses seemed to have a mind of their own. What all of that equates to in terms of owning your own horse is NOTHING!

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There were steps that had to happen before we just ran out and bought a horse or horses. We had a very old barn that was a shell. My husband drew up some plans to not only put stalls in this 100-year-old barn but, also expand it. We got some great help building these stalls and bringing our thoughts and design to life, all the while continuing to do research on the must haves, and several months of daily pictures of the horse that each of the kids wanted. Now just like anything else, there are many choices in the horse world about the type of horse, where you will choose to get the horse from, what you are willing to pay etc etc etc. Enough to really make you crazy in the process. Because we felt we had something to offer, stalls, land, “knowledge”, and love we felt like there had to be horses out there that would make all of us happy. Kayton wanted a black and white horse, Dylan wanted a fast horse, Jody wanted a big horse, I wanted a sweet obedient horse, the list of desires was ever increasing and our list of choices seemed to shrink with every desire we voiced. We contacted a horse rescue, and seemed to find two that would fit perfectly with our family, after jumping through a few hoops, it appeared those horses were already homed. After a few more weeks, we found a woman in Loudon, TN who was taking in horses that the owners just didn’t want or couldn’t raise them anymore. We found what we thought was the perfect horse for us. She was a gorgeous Bay and White Paint horse who was named Carousel. After speaking to the woman, and letting her know we were looking for 3 more horses she informed me that she felt she had at least two more she had just taken in that had been abandoned but were gentle and already broke (meaning they had been ridden before). There are many details to this story that for the sake of not boring you to tears I will omit.

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After the kids and I went to visit Loudon, TN, we found exactly every horse we had wanted. The 4th horse happened to be my horse, he was a gorgeous paint named Bull Hancock. Bull chose me, when walking the pasture in Loudon, he sought me out, and escorted me through the acres the children and I walked that day. I was sold; he was the horse for me. We made arrangements with her to come back and pick up all 4 horses, all paints, two black and whites, and two Bay and Whites. Jody made arrangements to borrow a horse trailer and we returned two weeks later.

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Now for those who have never pulled a horse trailer, like well us, this was a task. One that involved fingernails in the dash, a lot of watch out, you’re going too fast around this turn, we have no service and the GPS is out, and I don’t think we are in North Carolina anymore Toto. Jody on the other hand was confident he had it handled. I was not! This 3-hour drive there with an empty trailer was stressful, what were we thinking! Now we have to load 4 horses into this borrowed trailer and drive all the way back. Upon arrival, we were told that two of the horses who were going to be rubbing all the way back to North Carolina, had never been introduced, ARE YOU KIDDING ME! We were also informed that the trailer we had borrowed which was a slant load trailer, was not ideal for 4 horses let alone 4 horses of this size. I wanted to cry, in fact reflecting on this is makes me anxious, I don’t know how I did it without crying. The kids on the other hand were over the moon excited; we were FINALLY getting their horses.

My Bull was the last to come out of the stalls, as I went to load him in the trailer Jody and I noticed he was limping, something you never want to see with a horse, let alone a horse you were about to take home. When we mentioned it, we were simply told he looked a little stiff. We were apprehensive but also knew we had a wonderful vet and we would have her come and check him out right away. The ride home was to date one of the worst drive homes EVER, think of everything that you would not want to happen while coming home with four, 1000 lb. living things in a trailer. First the sun had set and it was dark, then the realization that the trailer had no lights, then 4 horses nipping and kicking at each other causing us to fishtail on mountain roads, then being paced by a police officer at 20mph because of a road closure due to an accident. That three-hour trip took 6 and by the time we arrived back at the farm, it was almost midnight. We were all DONE! We put the horses in their new stalls, gave them lots of water, and were thankful that we made it home in one piece.

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Like everything else on the farm, there was a learning curve with the horses. We had to earn their trust, they had to figure out the new routine here, get use to one another, get use to their new home, and figure out the pecking order. I quickly discovered that horses are kind of like really big dogs, and they all have their own personalities. As the first day or two passed, we really saw Bull favoring that leg, and felt he really needed to be evaluated by our vet. Well it wasn’t good news, basically he had to go on anti inflammatories and he was lame in the leg, I was told not to ride him, but we really didn’t know what was wrong with him. We continued treatment, our vet continued keeping close tabs and giving us advice about what to do next. As the weeks turned into a couple of months, Bull continued to get worse instead of better, despite the best care, and every effort he just kept behaving in a way that was not the horse I saw in the pasture that day. He was charging us in the pasture, while I was grooming him one evening along his spine he reacted and kicked me down in the stall. Pain killers, stall rest, anti inflammatory, shots, the list went on and on, an honest conversation happened where we were informed something bigger than what we saw was happening, our vet felt something was gravely wrong with Bull’s spine. Now this is not what you want to hear, Bull was my boy, he was part of our family, and was loved and adored in the few months he was here. We had to make a decision that was in the best interest of Bull so he wouldn’t suffer and for us along with the other horses. After the decision was made, our vet was correct it appeared once she was really able to examine Bull, he had a broken back, that bone must have been pinching a nerve and causing a slew of other problems. Bull is now buried here at the farm, he was the first animal we have ever lost as a family, and will never be forgotten.

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There was NO MORE BULL, but within 24 hours, we went from crying sad tears to crying happy tears.

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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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