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Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Horizons!

click photo for origin
Last year was tough. 
We lost some friends.
Too young.
Far too young.

As Christians, we know this life is just a temporary stop in the big picture,
but we still want to savor the 'blink of an eye' we are here.

In my last post, I told you there were changes coming. 
Our lives have taken a turn in another direction. 
We have left the role of caretaker behind.
We look forward to a new adventure away from the farm.

As often happens when people stare death in the face, it spurs them to make changes--which for us was buying an RV. There's nothing like losing friends at a young age (from our perspective) to make you realize how really short this life is. Suddenly, priorities shift and those unfulfilled dreams become urgent.

As much as we love our life in the country, we have always wanted to see 49 states. I've seen a few--Ray has seen more--but now we want to check them off the proverbial bucket list.

Both of us have camped and boated a lot in our separate pasts.
Now it's time to make those memories together. 

We did a little bit of traveling last fall. 

We hope to do a lot more this year. 

We plan to do it almost full time next year.

 Eventually, I'll make our own map, 
and slowly fill in the blocks.

We plan to take an extended trip out west next year, hitting many landmarks, but also scoping out our next address. Could it be in Colorado? Utah? We've talked about being snow birds, but we would miss the four seasons. A place with milder winters would be nice. Our friends out west have told us to come. "There's land waiting..."

My future posts will be mostly about our travel adventures (and misadventures!) along with memories we've made here on the farm.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Time to Move On...

Remember this?

This crazy photo served as my title cover for all these years--a little tweaking now and then. You'll never know how much thought I put into designing it.

This blog was to be about a middle-aged couple that decided to buy some land and learn to raise critters and food.

I wonder if anyone noticed the type of garments on the clothesline. The pink dress was symbolic of my life off  the farm. Get it? Yeah, I'm that obsessed. And that little spot for the pink dress--fairly proportionate of the time I spend off the farm. I am a homebody. I love it here. Why would I want to be anywhere else? Each little branch and twig is part of an actual photo from our farm. The cherry blossoms bloom near the garage. That pine branch tipped with a perfect cone stands in the yard between the house and barn. There's our barn and garden in the background. Nekoda, Sadie, Derby and Nanny, Chubbers and Paint Girl, Mr J and Buddy all got special placement on my cover.

Why would I want to be anywhere else?

 Oh, yeah. Winter.

I used to call it my favorite season.

Maybe many of you know what I'm talking ablout.

These last two winters have been killers--record lows every other day, record amounts of snow fall, record number of days below zero, record number of days with wind chills below zero degrees kelvin...
Okay, that last statement might have been an exaggeration, but the others weren't far from the truth! I was ready to pack up the RV and head to Florida--but I would have never gotten it out of the driveway! That's reason #1, but let's just try to forget about winter for now.

Situations change. Goals change. Dreams change.

When we moved here, we were both employed making pretty good money. I planned on this place being paid off before retirement. Things changed.

The place we worked at was closing and we didn't want to transfer. Seeing the writing on the wall, Ray and I retired. We adjusted our belts and stayed. But slowly, we are being taxed out of our dream.

We could probably stay here for the rest of our lives, but it would mean doing little else. Between taking a chunk of our income and all the upkeep, we are pretty much tied to this farm. Not a bad situation to be in, mind you, but nonetheless, tied.

We have been here for over eleven years without a vacation together. It's not easy finding critter sitters. We didn't mind. It's like vacation where we live. But we still wanted to see the country some day (reason #2--We made a big step in that direction this past fall. That will be the subject of my next post.) so we're planning on down-sizing in the next year.

It was hard to change my cover photo...hard to say goodbye to a time that was so wonderful. But new wonderful things are on the horizon, and I wanted my blog to reflect that. The old 'blahwg' name is also gone. I was reluctant to change the name, but most of my regular followers are no longer blogging. So I guess it truly is time to move on. I can't wait to tell you about my plans for this blog, and for the future! But this post is getting rather long, so you'll have to wait.

Monday, June 16, 2014

I'm bored...NOT!

My daughter shared this post on Facebook about the advantages of letting kids get bored. I think we will all agree (and have many times by 'liking' all those posts with the same theme) that kids today are spoiled. I'm not talking about the hasn't-this-bratty-child-ever-been-disciplined kind of spoiled, but the over-indulged, have-everything, be-chauffeured-everywhere, sit-and-be-entertained kind of spoiled.Their lives are so structured that they have no idea what to do when the square on the calendar is blank. Or maybe it's because the parent has no idea what to do when the kids ask, "What is there to do?"

I used to boat and spent almost every weekend in the summer on the water. The kids learned really fast not to say those forbidden words--I'm bored. There were things to do! Scrub the hull. Gather firewood. Suddenly, lazying on an air mattress sounded like a good deal. And it always ended in everyone trying to flip the air mattress and lots of screams and laughter.

As a kid, I never played soccer or softball, or took dance lessons, etc. (Okay--once a week piano lessons for a few years, but I rode my bike across town to get there!) Never once did any of my brothers or I say, "I'm bored. What can I do?"

The un-mowed grass of an abandoned field provided us with rivers to swim, out-maneuvering the wild river creatures that stalked us, or jungles to discover while scouting for carnivores. We galloped around on our broomstick horses while shooting each other with our fingers. We died and fell over. We really did climb trees! With our friends, we created clubs that had secret passwords. We also created some crazy games to play with rocks and jump ropes. We learned to whistle loudly (a skill I still possess) with a wide blade of grass. We made our own musical instruments out of trash and trash cans. We built palaces from cardboard. We lay down on our backs in the grass and stared at the sun--wondering if it really would make us blind! We watched the animals form and disappear in the clouds. We ate wild berries and apples that weren't ripe. We once paid a boy twenty-five cents to eat a bug. We camped out under the stars and awoke cold and damp with dew. We never thought about asking Mom what to do...

When my grandgirls visit, they quickly get super bored. The boredom manifests itself in arguments over Legos and who gets to cuddle the dog. And when they get bored enough...

They take a walk in the woods with the goats. They go catch things like tree frogs and fireflies. They pick wild flowers to bring to Nana. They stomp in the muddy creek, forgetting they have on their Sunday pants. They make memories that at least I will treasure long after I've forgotten what they did on the soccer field.

Like this one:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Dog Ate My Homework, and other unlikely excuses.

I was supposed to go with some others from my church to the NMI (Nazarene Missions International) District Assembly opening service tonight to sing in the mass choir. Looking at the clock, I decided it was time to start getting ready. Before getting in the shower, I decided to let SeeBoo 'go out', as there was rumbling in the distance, so he might not 'go out' later.

I had just let him out the side door when I spied the rooster in the yard. My eyes are no better than the dog's--he spied it, too. And, just like the last time this happened, SeeBoo took off like a rocket after the twice-his-size bird. The rooster raced toward his pen, but unlike last time, he couldn't fly high enough to get back over the fence. So off he went running down the driveway toward the creek, with a little white streak hot on his heels. (Do roosters have heels?)

Ever see a three-year-old on a sugar high in one of those net pits full of colorful plastic balls? Do you think they can hear you when you call? Well, neither can my Wee-Chon. If you ever saw the look in his eyes when he's chasing something, you would realize that he has to run. It's the only way he can keep his eyeballs from popping out of his face!

The rooster dove into the woods at the creek. To the one side of the driveway, where the goats live, the woods are thin and walkable like a city park. But on the other side, where the running duo was last seen, the woods are impassible, as they are a thick mass of underbrush containing wild roses, honeysuckle, grapevine, saplings and weeds.

Have I ever mentioned that I don't run? I don't run. I especially don't run as fast as a happy little doggy trying to bag his first rooster. They were gone.

Every few seconds, I would hear a ruckus from the rooster, a bark from the dog or the rumble of thunder--each time sounding farther away, except for the thunder. It was starting to rain. The last sound I heard was SeeBoo barking. He sounded like he was more than 1000 feet away upstream. I called the neighbor that lives just past there, and told them to be on the lookout for a little white dog chasing a huge rooster, and then I got in the car and drove down there. Parking back by their barn, I headed for the tree-lined creek. I called and called my puppy's name to no avail. Standing at the edge of the woods in an approaching thunderstorm, I decided to give up my search.

The storm was moving in. I told the neighbors that if they saw him, to let him in, but not to bend over to pet him or he'd pee on their floor. (A story for another time and place.) Then I headed home. Coming up the lane, I blew the car horn several times...a sound SeeBoo is quite familiar with, as he tends to run in front of my car if I arrive home while he's outside. It was raining harder. Poor guy is scared of storms.

SeeBoo, with half a haircut cuddling up to my soft slippers.
I opened the garage overhead door and blasted the rain with an air horn, followed by my voice trying to drown-out the sound of the approaching storm. I traded my hard shoes for my slippers, fetched my cell phone, and pulled up a chair, ready to start calling the shelters, police, etc to give them the heads-up on the missing dog. Time was of the essence. In the evening, the coyotes come out to search for food. SeeBoo would never survive a night in the woods.

Did I mention that this whole time I'm praying? I've prayed a lot for my critters. I pray for their safety in the storms, and for their health when they're sick. I prayed for my little dog...

I sat down in the chair in the garage, facing the open door and the pouring rain. Just as I started to look up the first number, it started letting up, and I spied something white in the next field that butts up to the chicken run. The grass there has not been cut this year, and is up to the top of my thighs. I squinted. Sure enough, I recognized that adorable little face sticking through the fence! SeeBoo had made it back! Almost...

The rooster had escape him the first time by going through the tall grass. SeeBoo would go in a few inches, and then back out. He didn't like the tall grass. As he stood there, looking so scared, he had no idea how to get through the fence to get home. He was only about thirty feet from the north corner of the fence, but he couldn't see it for the tall grass. I took off running on my sore feet, in my soft slippers, over the rocky gravel lane. Okay, you're right...I didn't run. I don't run. But I did walk fast!

Even though I stood at the end of the chicken's area where the grass is shorter and called to him, he wouldn't budge. I finally gave up, and soft-slippered my way into the tall wet grass until I got close enough that he could see me. He exploded towards me! Yesterday's bath was just a memory. His white coat was streaked with mud, but no blood. No sign of the rooster either. (I think if he had poked his little head out, I might have shot him!)

SeeBoo was so happy to be home, he didn't even protest when I sat him in the kitchen sink and turned on the faucet.

After washing the mud from SeeBoo's coat, I rolled him up in a towel, and then grabbed my phone to let people know I wouldn't make it tonight. My text read, "Not gonna make it. Toe is on fire from chasing the dog and the rooster through the woods in a T-storm..."

Yeah. And the dog ate my homework. Go ahead and rain...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Revisiting 9/11

Thought I'd put up this link to last year's post on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
May we never forget.

Friday, July 20, 2012

You Can Never Have Too Many Goats!

Well, I suppose one could have too many goats, but we certainly didn't. After losing half our herd over a few short years, we didn't have enough goats to keep up with the work load.  The woods were becoming overgrown, beginning to look like... well... woods.  

In July of last year, a friend called Mr J about a pygmy goat needing a new home.  Her mother had the goat as a pet along with a sheep, but her mother's health wasn't good, and the sheep had died. The goat seemed very lonely. Knowing goats don't do well alone, we were happy to give the little pygmy a home.  Little did we know we were getting another horse! (And that pygmies aren't that little.)

 Introducing Stitch! We quickly discovered that Stitch's coat was so dense, he could not feel the electric fence.  YIKES!  That means we have no way to contain him.  We tried introducing him to the other goats, but he was as scared of them as they were of him!  Every time we took him into their pasture, he would just run out through the fence!  But guess where he ran?

Maggie Mae is beautiful, I agree. It seems other critters think so, too.  Stitch immediately took up with her, and would follow her wherever she went.  Separate them and Stitch would cry and go running back to her. 

Since the fence won't contain him, he pretty much goes wherever he wants. So that means every time I go for a ride on Maggie, Stitch goes with us.  At first, he clung so closely that my feet would kick his horns!  Now he will let us get several yards away at times. The neighbors get a kick out of seeing me coming on the horse, accompanied by the goat and the dog.

Since Stitch isn't cooperating about joined the clearing crew, I told Mr J we should buy some more goats.  We started looking and fell in love with many, but decided on two young wethers about a mile from our house.  Webrought them home in August of last year and named them D.J. for Derby Jr and Brownie for Mr J's NFL team. (No mean comments, please. ;)

Newly weened, they were much to small to put in with the big boys, so we made them a home in Nekoda's stall. (Nekoda did not think much of the idea.)

It didn't take them long to learn to walk on a leash.  Mr J would take them to the small pasture surrounding the chicken house every morning.

Once the babies were big enough, we gently introduced them to the herd. It took a little time before we could finally leave them there all day, and then eventually all night. Now they are one big happy family.
Left to right: Nanny, DJ, Brownie, Derby, Elvis

Look for future posts about other changes to our fur family!