I have other posts I want to write, stuff I want to share, but all of that kind of fades to the background when there are baby goats on the farm... and there are baby goats on our farm again!
I get so tired of mending fences, I'm terrible at milking, and when we do milk, we tend to give as much of it to the dogs as we actually process because I get too busy. And lately, the goats have been particularly goaty, which makes me sorely tempted to sell them all and live in peace.
But then the next kidding season rolls around, and the babies make everything worth it all over again.
It's been a crazy few days (weeks) at work. When it gets to be too much, I go outside to soak up the sunshine and watch the babies hop around for a few minutes, and the irritation just sort of melts away.
So for now, I'll keep my goats and the headaches they bring, if for no other reason than the sheer joy of having babies around the farm twice a year.
Because baby goats make everything better.
It's been way too long since I've checked in. I feel like my books and my readers are long lost friends I haven't seen in a while because this entire year has gone by in such a blur.
You might recall that at the beginning of the year, I accepted the role of Managing Director for Booktrope's Christian imprint, Vox Dei. I love it so much, helping others bring their books into the world. In fact, this past summer I accepted the role of Managing Director for two more of Booktrope's imprints, UPrush and UPdrift. The simplest way to explain those is this: Books parents want to read and the books they want their children to read. They are our parenting and children's/middle grade imprints. That's brought with it a whole new set of challenges, but I love it. I know it's a blessing to have a job that you enjoy as much as I do mine - although sometimes I have to remind myself of that when I start to feel overwhelmed!
Life on the farm has had its usual ebb and flow - things get crazy, then they settle down, only to get crazy again in the blink of an eye. We've added a puppy to our canine numbers. Ralph was dumped on our dirt road, and he's quickly become a part of the family we can't imagine life without. Big sister Holly loves him a lot. Except when she has to share toys - even his - she thinks they all belong to her.
My boys are growing like weeds. Even in all of the chaos, I'm trying really hard to take time each day to simply drink in being their mom. As Dylan gets serious about deciding what to do in life after high school, I'm realizing how quickly they'll all be gone.
A part of me feels guilty for not wrapping up poor Vance's stories yet. But I think my brain needed the break. The stories won't let me not tell them; they just needed to simmer a bit longer.
Oh, and I'm working on a charity event that will be in St. Louis in November. Stay tuned for updates on that, and the organization it's for. They're amazing, and I'm super excited to be some small part of their story.
I hope this summer has been a good one for all of you. Here's to a lovely fall, as well!
I think every little girl goes through a horse phase. Some of us just don't outgrow it.
As a child, I memorized every horse book I could get my hands on. I learned colors, conformation and communication from the pages of a book. The instant I was old enough, I sought out chances to be around the real deal. I took care of other people's horses, volunteered for vets, and gentled my first horse at 13 - before it even occurred to me that climbing barebacked on an untrained horse could be dangerous.
It never quite worked out for me to have my own horse. My grandpa had just begun to horse shop when he was diagnosed with cancer. The summer was supposed to be one where my dream came true. Instead it was the summer I tended to my hero as cancer ate him away, piece by piece. I wound up treasuring those days for a very different reason than the one I'd planned.
But the dream to own and train my own horses never died. I still had this vision of taking the unlovable horses of the world, training them, and helping them find their place. I wanted to save mustangs. I wanted to barrel race. I wanted to learn to jump. There were so many things in that world I yearned to see, touch, experience.
My little girl dreams of horses had to take a back seat to life when I had kiddos of my own. My attention turned to their dreams. When my oldest son decided to take horseback riding lessons, I soaked up all I could as I watched him experience the things I'd dreamed of so long ago.
For a while, I could almost touch that dream. We'd found a barn home and we owned two of the most amazing horses I'd ever laid eyes on. I had the privilege of exercising and riding animals that were truly the cream of the crop. The time I spent at that barn was one of the happiest of my life.
And then our middle son, Blake, had his accident and the horses had to be sold to pay medical bills and the dream once again faded, giving way to the reality of helping our son through a major life trauma. The accident never made Blake scared of horses - he'd been in a coma through the worst of it and didn't remember the accident itself. But changed things for the rest of us. We were shaken to our core, and I wondered if we'd ever ride again.
That's when Dixie came into our lives, the little red appaloosa with enough spunk to make her fun but a gentle enough nature to soothe my rumpled spirit. An accident had left her blind in the right eye, and when she came to us, she didn't want anyone on the right side of her body. I worked with her and she worked with me - we patched up the broken pieces in each other. Her herd mate was a little appy gelding, who sadly passed away last spring. He left a great-big hole in our hearts and on our little homestead.
As we talked about what kind of horse we wanted to add to our homestead so Dixie would have a friend (besides her alpaca buddies), I came to realize that I'd fallen in love with the appaloosa breed. There's something in their nature that draws me to them - though that could be a post of its own.
Now it seems that some of those little girl dreams are on the verge yet again of becoming a reality. Some of it doesn't even feel real yet, so I might save it for a later post, but I will make one big announcement: My Dixie girl is going to be a mama! She is bred for a May 2016 foal. I got to see the baby on an ultrasound. I actually cried when I saw the little black dot on the screen that I was assured is a baby.
Dixie and I have always been buddies, but now that she's bred, she's decided to stick to me like glue. Her favorite spot is the backyard, and she's even followed me onto the porch a couple of times (which is not intended for horses). She threw the only temper-tantrum I've ever seen from her when I locked her in the *gasp* horse pasture the other day.
I will keep you guys posted as the pregnancy progresses. God willing, next May will bring us a healthy foal. (A bay with a blanket and spots on his rump would be an added bonus...)
About the time I get my feet under me with all of the different things competing for my attention, the season changes and my to-do list explodes all over again. We live in a busy world - sadly, exploding to-do lists are probably the norm. Still, I'm trying to shuffle things around and realign priorities so I don't find myself too buried to enjoy any of the things I love - writing being at the top of that list. I think I'm getting close to finding that balance. Close-ish, anyway.
Another thing on that list is horseback riding. After Blake's accident, it took me a while to love riding again. He was ready to hop back in the saddle long before the rest of us were - I'm guessing it's because he slept through the scary parts while we got a front row seat. I'm thankful for my patient and sweet mare, Dixie. She was coming back from an injury of her own when our paths crossed. It's taken us three years, but we seem to have finally "fixed" each other. My boys and I have decided this is the summer to wade back into the world of horses. No more hanging out at the shoreline for us!
So, in addition to our full springtime schedule of getting the garden in and fencing off new pastures, we've added building a new horse shed to the to-do list. (I think the alpacas will be sad to lose their horse buddy, though. They think she's their leader.)
Christopher, the youngest, has caught the bug big-time. He spends every waking moment on all things horse and several hours a day working with Dixie, trying to teach her new things and letting her teach him. This summer, his birthday present will be a foal from the appaloosa breeder where we bought Dixie. He's already decided to name him Apollo Butterworth so he can call him Appy Butt. We get to meet him in June and pick him up at weaning - around August or September. I'm trying not to wish away my summer, but I'm as excited as he is!
We're still deciding who else to add to our herd. The decision making process makes me think I need more land. (And I'm gonna need a bigger barn...)
I realize that getting serious about horses again will do absolutely nothing good for my exploding to-do list, but it's done wonders for my soul. And the goats aren't too jealous.
I took 220 pictures yesterday. Unfortunately, I was 200 pictures into my photo-snapping spree when I noticed a setting had been changed, so most of them were fairly well ruined. Happily, I still wound up with a couple of shots that make me smile even thinking about them. So I decided to share the cute. Happy Monday, all!
I love ducks. They are such happy little gossips; they bring such joy to the farm. Last fall, I sold the last of our ducks because I didn't think I had a good enough house to winter them properly. It's been almost six months since we had ducks on our farm, and I couldn't stand it any longer. I decided this week that we needed baby ducks. (Yes, needed them.)
When I get it in my head that I need a particular farm animal, I get a little obsessive about it. The hunt for the one particular breed of whatever can get a tad absurd as I search high and low for "the one." Over the years, some of the chicken breeds I've gotten a bee in my bonnet over have included: Speckled Sussex, Silver-laced Wyandottes, Marans, Welsummers, Easter Eggers, Polish, and Salmon Faverolles. (I'm a bit of a collector - I like having variety in my flock.)
So when I got it in my head I wanted ducks this week, I went to the local farm store for the launch of "Chick Days." (Which, in case you were wondering, is the real beginning of spring.) When I got there, they had Speckled Sussex, Silver-laced Wyandottes, Marans, Welsummers, Easter Eggers, Polish, and Salmon Faverolles. But no ducks. And so the hunt began.
It ended today when I struck gold. I arrived at the hatchery just before closing on hatching day. It took a lot of restraint to only leave with six ducklings (three breeds.) A lot of restraint.
But we're now the proud owners of a pair of Rouens, a pekin hen, and three Anconas of unknown gender. We've always had Anconas and Pekins in the mix of our duck flock. The Rouens are new for us - they'll grow up to look like really big mallards. I'm already head over heels in love with them. I have no idea how I survived six whole months with no ducks.
It's been a horrible year around here for eggs. Chickens in our neck of the woods seem to have forgotten that they have a purpose besides lawn ornament. The going theory around here is they're all off-kilter from last winter. Whatever the cause, mine have finally remembered their calling in life - they're finally giving me big, beautiful eggs again.
I love my girls, I love having an abundance of eggs, and I love the rainbow in my egg carton. So pretty... It's easy to pick out the eggs that were laid by my young hens. They're the ones that don't quite fill their spot!
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.