Thursday, October 25, 2012

Getting older...

My baby is nine years old. Yesterday was Cora's birthday and I couldn't be more proud of the beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, sweet, and wonderful young lady that she is. I am so thankful for my amazing family. Cora had two of her best friends overnight on Saturday (so we had a night full of giggles) and then we celebrated with lots of sugary goodness (pumpkin pie, pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, Halloween candy, and candy corn/pumpkins) on Sunday. It's so nice having a home that we can be proud of - having family come over and celebrate is wonderful. It's so fun to have everyone come and play with the animals. Some are still a bit nervous - but my Aunt Linda got a kiss from an alpaca (Blossom, of course) and that was a huge accomplishment. :-)
In other farm news, Chip, our "man-whore" visiting goat, has been very busy in the barn yard. I've had the unfortunate opportunity to witness him "going to town" with two of our ladies. I have yet to see him show much interest in Mabel...I don't know if perhaps it already happened, when I wasn't looking? I'm not sure. But some day, Chip will need to go back to his farm...and we'll just have to see what happened and who got pregnant.
The weather has been absolutely amazing the past couple of days - sunny and in the 70's...although not very representative of fall, it is definitely nice not having to worry about turning on the heat. In fact, last night we slept with the windows open, listening to a pack of coyotes yipping and howling...such an eerie and beautiful sound.
Oh! We also figured out that one of the trees across the street is a Sugar Maple! Which means, we are going to try our hand at tapping for maple sap this Spring. We've never tapped before and I look forward to learning about the process. Mmmmm homegrown maple syrup...yes please!
Our Japanese Maple is looking gorgeous - I love the view sitting on the front porch.

Cupcakes I brought in for Cora's class.
Some of the attendees from Cora's birthday party - look out Nana! There are bats behind you!

Happy birthday dear Cora...happy birthday to you...

The birthday girl getting a birthday hug and kiss from Mabel.

Cora's friends learning about being a farmer :-)

Cora's friend, Hannah, getting her first alpaca kiss.

The two Hannahs - with Steve :-)

Saturday night we did homemade jack o'lantern pizzas....Delicious!

Making pizza!

All the kids get along so nice - my kids have great friends.

Our front porch!

Ready for Fall - with 100 bats flying around our house. (Yes, we cut out 100 bats!)

The corn stalks are leftover from our garden.

A view coming up our driveway.

Me and my honey.

Me and the birthday girl.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I'd share an experience that we had out here on the farm last night. The Southern Ohio Supernatural Team came out to our house for an investigation. Everyone has their own beliefs on the supernatural and we believe that ghosts are real. We've had some strange experiences here at the homestead...smells of perfume, the feeling of being watched. Particularly while we are working on the barn, we feel like someone is watching, making sure that we are doing a good job. So we invited the Southern Ohio Supernatural Team out to do a private investigation on our home.
We are waiting for the complete results, but I do know that they took photos that contain several orbs and the EVP detector picked up someone saying the name "George" several times. It was very interesting indeed.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mornings on the farm...

Weekday mornings are filled with the usual hustle and bustle of getting kids up and ready, clothes changed and teeth brushed, lunches made. Mark has been subbing a lot, so he's been so helpful with the kids, and I so appreciate it. I'm not really a morning person, you know. Mark has the boys off to school before I'm coherent - they come in to get sleepy hugs and kisses and wishes for a good day. I crawl out of my cozy bed, where I'm typically surrounded by at least one cat and a dog (even though the dog knows she shouldn't be on the bed, but sneaks up while daddy is getting ready). The house is still cold, because we're trying to hold out on turning on the heat until it is absolutely necessary. There's lots of hoodie wearing and snuggling under blankets going on around here.
Mark and I steal some hurried moments to figure out our plan for the day and what still needs to be done. Again, with some hugs and kisses, and he's off to work. Which just leaves me and Cora to talk about her day ahead and how things are going in her world. We get her bundled up and she grabs her lunch and backpack and we head down to the end of our driveway, where the bus will soon pick her up. Our walk down the driveway consists of us listening to the sounds around us, stopping to give Ollie, our outside dog, a pat on the head...we're usually followed down the drive by Captain's two remaining outside kitties (Runt and Lockhart). Sometimes we get a glimpse of deer in the field behind us, or across the street. We're always greeted by beautiful sunrises over the farmer's field. The bus screeches to a halt and picks up my girl and we sign "I love you" to each other as the bus drives off.
Then, before I begin my work day, I have a moment to myself. I walk back down the driveway to the barn. Mark has already done the morning feeding, so I just need to let them out of their pens. There is a pattern to this even...the alpacas are first, the are coaxed from their pen, first one, then the other and they gallop out to the pasture. Then the angoras...when they run out of their pen it reminds me of some wacky circus act, their ears flopping to the side and a quickness in their step...each time it makes me laugh. Next are the dairy goats, who sometimes need a push to go out, they want to make sure that they aren't going to miss something happening in their pen. Finally, the sheep. Jester is always ready to go. By this time he's usually baaaaing, so the I don't forget to let him out. I let Steve decide if he wants to go out...some days, he stands toward the back of the pen and refuses to leave and other days, he's lined up right behind Jester and goes out to pasture.
On this cold, crisp morning, I follow my animals out to the pasture. I check in with them. Walking up to each one, give them a look over and a pat on the head. Jester makes his way to me and waits for his pat. He rubs his wooly body against my pant legs - I'm so honored the my animals love me as much as I love them. I love the silence of this moment. Broken only by the occasional vehicle driving by or the baa or maaa from a member of my flock. In these moments, life is good.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

McLovin', Shearing Day and Milk

It is definitely fall on the farm. The leaves are turning such beautiful reds, golds, oranges and yellows. It seems that we just woke up one morning and fall was here. It's raining leaves as we drive through our country roads...the animals have spent more than one day this week in their pens because its been drizzly outside and they don't like the rain. I know this because as soon as the first drip falls from the sky, the animals would rather crowd in the 4ft. by 6ft. hallway of the barn, shoulder to shoulder, than to be outside cooling off. As soon as they know I'm heading to the barn, the bahs and mahs and hums get louder and louder. Just like my children, I recognize who is "talking" from their tone. It makes me feel loved and needed when I go out there. All the animals seem genuinely excited to see me when I come out...I'm sure it's because they associate me with food...but it still feels good.

Chip, the brown oberhasli goat (known by many of you as the man-whore), has been doing his job. I've witnessed the deed once, with Flora and I believe that he's gotten more lovin' from the other ladies in the barnyard. We'll keep him for another few weeks - to make sure that the pregnancy (pregnancies?) "takes". I'm really hoping that we'll have baby goats come spring. For the time being, we've stopped milking Mabel. One, because I've heard that having a male in with the dairy goats can make the milk taste "goaty" and I don't want to turn our kids away from the milk and two, I just think it'd be easier to get her pregnant if she wasn't being milked every morning and night. I have to say...this is a nice vacation...the commitment to a dairy goat is strong. Every morning and every evening we are required to make our way out to the barn and milk that's wonderful having fresh, raw, healthy milk to provide for us and our family, right from our backyard - but it's also wonderful to just worry about food, hay and water when we go out to the barn, it makes our time out there much shorter when it is cold or dark. I need to figure out the best way to store milk for times like this. I hated buying a gallon of milk from the store the other day.

In other farm news - the shearer came out and sheared the two angoras. Their beautiful fiber is waiting to be cleaned, carded and spun. I still haven't had the opportunity to have our friend come over and help me learn to spin (better) - I want to be better at spinning before we use "the good stuff" and ruin it. This is definitely a winter project.

Speaking of winter...we aren't much further along with our hay storage or finishing the barn. I'm worried that we won't be able to get things done in time. Mark has been starting to sub more often though and so we'll have extra money coming in - which will help. I will feel so much better when we have a finished barn and a hay loft filled with hay (and a tank, filled with oil, for our winter heat). It'll happen, I just have to believe that everything will work out for us.
Drake, he's getting so big and handsome. He's holding Runt and Lockhart, Captain's kittens from this Spring.
I love how the kittens follow Mark through the yard...too cute.
Runt just loves hay!
A lock of Frankie's hair.
Frankie's fiber all bagged up, ready to be cleaned.
Itty's fiber all bagged up.
Itty, wondering what just happened.
Frankie, just wishing she could go play in the pasture.
Frankie letting us know what she thinks of her new haircut.
Frankie, in midshear
Shearing day!
Frankie - getting sheared
Itty - getting sheared
Itty - getting sheared