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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. For the most part a good majority of people hate or detest change; in fact many people will admit change results in anxiety. Compound that with BIG change, and it can result in big issues.
I have always been the type person that isn’t afraid to try new things, my husband says he doesn’t like change, but I wouldn’t say it causes him terrible anxiety, just takes him a little bit to get use to whatever has changed. In fact, our whole marriage has been full of change, redoing and trying new things.
When we met and got married we each had our own homes, we both sold our homes and bought a new one together. It was only a few miles from both of our other houses, so on the scale it was a small change. We started our marriage with the remodeling of this home we purchased together. We completely redid the house and brought Dylan home from the hospital to this home.
A year later, we had another change we opted sell this newly remodeled home, for a home that was about 30 minutes from all of our families in an area and county that neither him or I knew anything about. I know as I type this 30 minutes doesn’t seem like anything, but to someone who lived in three different homes within a 5 mile radius of my parents home, this house was a HUGE change for us. We thrived after sometime, and made Lutz, FL our home for 9 years. We remodeled that house…. This was the start of a pattern, buying and redoing. Kayton was brought home from the hospital to this home, and we enjoyed getting to know a whole new area.
After sometime, and some family health problems with my grandmother, we decided it was time to move back “home.” Home for me was Tarpon Springs, FL, I was raised my entire life in that area, graduated from school there, and knew the town and roads like the back of my hand. We fell in love with a home that was in a waterfront community, in a serene gorgeous location. Being able to see the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and smell the salt air everyday was just amazing really. This home we redid from top to bottom, and really were thrilled with the results. It felt really good to finally be home, and although we never had any regrets about our move to Lutz this move back felt very right. We settled in and were living closer to our families again, the kids adjusted very well to their new schools they made some new friends, we weren’t too far from their “home” so we felt like we were in a good place.
After three years of finally being home, the bug for change bit my parents. You see we had been caring for my grandmother who was in the final fight with her battle with Melanoma, and after we lost her, they did a little reflecting and thought it was time for them to experience a change.
They had been in the same house for 34 years, my childhood home. They were convinced that a little town they had visited on that years anniversary was the town we were all going to move to. I on the other hand thought they were well CRAZY really. To say they were direct with their hints is quite the understatement, they first convinced the children, my husband needed very little convincing and he was on board, I on the other hand, I will say it again, I thought they were CRAZY! Why on earth would I move to a little town in Georgia I had never heard of, that was 1 hour away from even a Lowes or Home Depot. I WAS NOT MOVING! January 2016, we lost my beloved grandmother, and decided as a family to take a little trip to the mountains of Franklin, NC. A small town I had been coming to since I was a little girl. A town we had visited as a family before. My husband had designed a home that the client agreed we could come to, in order to just breath and decompress after a very emotional few months. When we arrived to this home, it was for sale, which caught us all off guard. At the end of this visit, I felt I had the best idea EVER! We would buy this home with my parents, and they could get their fix, they could become snowbirds, come to North Carolina during the hot Florida summers, and spend the winters in Florida, when my father retired. They really seemed to also be in agreement with this FANTASTIC idea, and we ended up making that plan a reality. We bought that mountain home, and redid it, made it a place that we would love to come and visit and share with others.
Now here is when things took a drastic turn. With every trip we took to North Carolina, to buy furniture, to remodel, to paint, to do whatever needed to be done to make this place our 2nd home, we left a piece of ourselves in those mountains. We would plan on staying a week, and we would stay 2, from January-May we were in North Carolina almost as much as we were in Florida and we started having really serious conversations about how much we LOVE the mountain life. My parents, then decided that really they didn’t want to go back and forth when my father retired. They really loved it in North Carolina too, and why not just sell everything in Florida and move to North Carolina. Now the reality of that suggestion didn’t sit well with me, I was torn. All I had ever know was in that sunshine state, yes we had traveled all over the place, but Florida was always the place we went home to, how can we just leave that behind. Jody was all for this move, he said he could work anywhere, that he always wanted to live in North Carolina, and that maybe it should be something we really think and talk about as a family. When the kids became privy to this idea, they were all for it, they had fallen in LOVE with North Carolina, but were also not wanting to leave their friends.
So what do you think I did, I mean I couldn’t fight 5 people who were all for moving personally, I had to show them this idea was just unrealistic and not a good idea at all. How was I going to be able to do that? Easy! I was going to start looking at real estate, I needed to show everyone that what we were looking for did not exist. You see if I was going to change, it had to be DRAMATIC. Nothing could resemble home, I had the ocean, the space, the town, shopping, convenience, and familiarity. So if this big move was going to happen, it better be worth it. So I found a couple of houses and got in touch with this savvy real estate agent Evan Harrell who unfortunately knew his stuff, and knew his town. After looking at some houses and finding nothing I had succeeded, this was a BAD BAD BAD IDEA! Then the words no one who is proving people wrong want to hear…. Give me a list of what you are looking for and if it’s out there I will find it. As I roll my eyes, and try to think of things I need like an elephant shower house and a llama petting zoo (for Jody of course). I also was curious and thought, if I give him a list could he really find what we are looking for? Okay, just for the fun of it here is our list:
1. I want an old farmhouse
2. We want at least 10 acres
4. Creek or River on the property
5. A place to build my parents home
6. Needs to have a huge kitchen
7. Minimum of 4 bedrooms
8. A view
9. Flat area to ride our horses we didn’t have yet
10. Good cell service and internet because of work
I mean it wasn’t that hard right? As we departed from the car, he said he would look up some stuff and asked if we could meet the next day. Well the next day we were suppose to head back, but what is one more day. I had a case to build here and needed to see that this place didn’t exist. When we met the next day, we headed out to two houses, which were both big belly flops. The pressure was off, what we were looking for, didn’t exist and I could stay in my coastal town.
As we continued driving, along a beautiful river, and rounded bend after bend, with one gorgeous backdrop after the next, we pulled into a gravel driveway with an old white farmhouse, big black barn, and one of the prettiest pastures I had ever seen. Most people would say they could hear a pin drop, I heard the kids squeal, and a few choice words going off in my brain. WAIT …. WHAT? Where are we? How did he find this place, I had looked at every house on Zillow and realtor.com this place never ever came up. To say the place was the checklist match, would be an understatement. Now inside the bones, the vision I could see it. Many others must not have been able to but I saw it, I saw how amazing this house could be, it needed to be restored, reloved, and redid. And you know what, I was just the person to do it. Within 24 hours, and one more visit to that farm, we submitted an offer. After some countering, discussions, pleading via a letter to the then owner, that 140 year old Farmhouse became ours. It was the beginning of our Farm, the continuation of our Family, and the perfect place to view fireflies nightly.
We restored this old house, reloved old things that had been covered up, and redid every aspect of our home. Moving was not a walk in the park, it was difficult, it was emotional, but it has been a welcomed change. I know what Evan, heck I know what everyone was thinking when we said we wanted to move up and have a farm. It’s probably a cross between the movie City Slickers and the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies.
But we are sure learning a lot, we have made this place our home, we have brought a lot of life back to this farm, have survived and flourished our first year here and quickly realized, “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”