Love to laugh…

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

Mary Poppins Laugh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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The Rat Pack

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

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

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The day we brought Sinatra home

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

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

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

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Sammy the Opossum Cat

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

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Sinatra and Sammy Davis

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