Home Sweet Home. Finally feeling more settled and comfortable. We moved from a little under 3 acres to 10 acres. The solitude is bliss. Today’s post is just going to be me sharing our new home with our readers. It’s breathtaking.
We have two ponds on our property (hubby calls them lakes). One pond is entirely ours, and the other we share with a very select few. I love to sit and watch the water when it rains. Watching the lightning behind the line of pine trees is mesmerizing. I’ve never really been drawn to bodies of water and I particularly dislike the ocean. I do find quite a bit of solace wandering the perimeter of our bodies of water though in our backyard.
The lily pads in the ponds are in bloom. They’re still beauty demands attention when you walk past.
Happy caterpillars enjoy their do nothing but eat stage of life.
Our animals are enjoying the extra space as well.
New life was celebrated on the new homestead. We moved the animals on May 5. Lyris gave birth to two healthy polled bucklings the same day. It is her first time being a mama. She didn’t know what to do so I had to stay home an extra day to teach her how to nurse patience since she didn’t want to sit still while the kids greedily ate. She finally accepted that she had to take care of these babies, not run away from them nonstop.
There was not a barn on the land, so we had to add that before the animals moved. It has come such a long way.
The house itself is gorgeous. Very little actually needs to be done do it on the inside. We’re told it’s a French style home. Whatever it is, I am in love with the brick and the trees on the driveway.
The treasures we find in the yard are priceless. The magnolias are intoxicating and the wild mushrooms are mystical.
I cannot get enough of how much the animals love it here. Our family is adjusting nicely to the isolation. It’s really not the bad though. We’re about 20 minutes from town, which is great. It’s so quiet and I’m really learning to appreciate that quiet.
We’re slowly, but surely, creating a paradise at home.
I’ve been neglectful. Since the viewing we attended in Pennsylvania, I’ve caught a bad case of bronchitis and our eldest dog, Taz, developed megaesophagus. So, I have not been writing much. If the cause of the enlarged esophagus is obstruction, sometimes removal of the obstruction can help the condition. If the cause isn’t obstruction, then the cause is of little importance; the prognosis is the same. X-rays indicated no obstruction.
When eating, your esophagus contracts and enlarges. Taz’s was stuck in enlarged mode. So, a lot of food and water was entering his lungs. He would regurgitate food and water immediately upon eating or drinking. He predictably developed pneumonia. The lack of eating created nausea. We fed Taz a diet the vet recommended. We made him eat standing straight up, as that could aid in food actually getting to his stomach and the vet gave him antibiotics to fight the pneumonia.
We were told this is what will kill him. I took the news knowing my job was to keep this old boy as comfortable and full as possible. We were told that if he gets over the pneumonia and can keep some food down, he could live a few more months or longer. Looking at Taz’s pained face and tired eyes, I was wondering how much fight he truly had left in him.
Right after we were married,my husband and I had planned on trying to conceive with the hopes of a summer baby (my first year teaching). The very first pregnancy test I took was positive. We were very excited. The excitement only lasted a moment it seemed. I went to see the doctor because of a possible miscarriage. Seeing my empty uterus on the screen was the most devastating feeling of loss and hopelessness I had ever felt at that time in my life.
I’m the type of person who goes to work or keeps moving no matter what. Today, I’m up at 4 AM to start my day and the earliest I’m normally to bed is almost 11 at night. After confirming the miscarriage, I really didn’t want to do anything except sleep. My husband would often tell me he didn’t care what I felt like doing, but to just do it and not stay on the couch. It was difficult to really want to do anything.
We found ourselves taking a trip to Georgia. My in-laws had property there and it was nice to get away from home as it had become a sad place for me. We went to an animal shelter and played with some weimaraner cross puppies. We left and I decided I really actually wanted a puppy. So we went back and learned that all the puppies were spoken for. We did find a weimaraner breeder later that day though. They had two males left. One was a chubby little thing who had little interest in me. The other was the runt of the entire litter that no one wanted. He was so tiny. All he wanted to do was be held by me. He would get very excited and chase his own tail like a nut. So, I named him Taz and brought him home.
I experienced another miscarriage, but the third pregnancy took. Taz was attached for both miscarriage and pregnancy. Zach was working night shifts at the hospital at the time. I’d often fall asleep on the couch with Taz. Zach would come home and Taz wouldn’t be able to see him. Taz would cause a lot of havoc barking and growling. As soon as Zach would speak, Taz would calm down recognizing his voice. Taz was very protective of me and up my ass to the point of really being annoying at times.
He had the worst separation anxiety. Novi, our husky, joined us a couple of months later and that solved all issues with us leaving for work. After Fiona was born we moved out into the country onto our homestead. Taz took the change of scenery with grace. He brought me home baby softshell turtles two separate seasons. He accompanied me to the water to save them from the high husky prey drive.
Last summer, he brought me a baby mockingbird he stole from a nest. He never hurt the bird though. I love all living things and he did, too.
Taz never got over the pneumonia. Even with the changed eating technique, he still couldn’t get food in his stomach. When the vet came to our farm to put him down, he had quit entirely on his own. He isolated himself from all of the dogs. He hid under the hydroponic deck and would only let Zach or myself handle him. I held him as he died. We were given his pawprint. Zach made him a coffin and we buried him on property.
It’s never easy to lose an animal and I miss him very dearly. He was special to me and very responsive to the feelings of those around him. He never hurt anything in his entire life. And I still cannot believe that he’s gone.
So we dropped off the goats Lulu, Leia, and Pixie-Rey. My heart was broken the entire car ride. Lulu, being used to transporting, took the car ride with stride. Pixie and Leia, who are only ten months old, were compliant, but clearly cautious. Being together, I think, was helpful.
But let’s backtrack this process some. Friday night we took the kids to my husband’s parents for a sleepover. After dropping them off, my husband took me out to dinner at one of my favorite places–ever. We had sushi at Cafe du Japon. If you’re ever in Daytona Beach, Florida and you love sushi, you have to go there. If you want hibachi, don’t go there. They don’t serve it and they have no inclination to help you out other than to recommend you go somewhere else if that’s what you want. I love going there. It was very nice to go out, especially knowing the next day I was going to be dropping off my three favorite goats.
My worries immediately diminished the moment we arrived. There is abundant space and nature to devour. Lulu got off the truck. The puppy we ended up picking walked over to her to greet her. She immediately headbutted him. He backed away calmly and no one charged at the goats. I knew she was going to be fine and she was going to keep watching the girls. There were two puppies to choose from. Both puppies were already working with chickens, goats, and cows. One puppy chose to kind of do his own thing, the other was a little more involved, choosing closer distancing within the herd. I chose the more involved one over the more aloof one.
So, here’s Apollo. We plan on getting his younger sister from the next litter.
LOOK. AT. THAT FACE! We took him home and gave him a bath. He was pretty stinky from being hard at work. When we got home we took him to briefly meet the ducks, geese, chickens, goats, and mini donkeys. Everyone responded with caution, except for the chickens. Apparently they have zero instinct left in them. The donkeys did charge at him, which was expected. Some clever placement and finger snapping kept their focus more on me and what I wanted them to do. They did respond to me if I was displeased. Apollo, wanting no trouble, just stayed away from them. The goats stared at him, but didn’t respond much other than that. The pilgrim geese hissed at him but he ignored them, pretty much like everyone else on the farm. He’s 11 weeks old and obviously can’t be left there alone by himself. He won’t be trustworthy until around 2 years of age. Exposure, training, and consistency are key.
While investigating the back, Apollo found the duck pond. I researched this breed extensively. I never thought to look into water. Apollo jumped right in… We watched to make sure he was safe and could find his own way out. It didn’t take long; Apollo got out and imiddiately regretted his decision. That had to be cold, even for a pyrenees.
So the baby got ANOTHER bath. And we took him out. I know I’m someone out there is going to disagree with our decision. He went to PetCo to get a tag, my husband’s parents’ to surprise the kids and meet their dog, and out to dinner. The majority of his time will be spent at home, but we don’t want him to hate people. We have people visit the farm and I know routine will help him adjust to that. During his time in the field, the only attention he is getting is from training. But it is my belief, for him to be my working partner, he needs exposure to me as well and I don’t mind forming that relationship with him.
Sunday morning rolled around. After breakfast, I took Apollo out to see the animals through the fence and I did a perimeter check with him. Then he sat on the porch with me while I enjoyed my coffee before the human family woke up. Ghost, our husky, tried to get him to play but Apollo just ignored him. I figured once he gets over this mellow stage and wants to actually romp he’ll appreciate Ghost’s enthusiasm. I’m told he also may not. Which is fine because so far Apollo is pretty good at just walking away. Ghost just gets his heart broken everytime Apollo ignores him.
We took Apollo to Tractor Supply because we learned on his first night he can escape the gate to his pen. His pen is set up next to animals without any direct contact. So they can see, smell, and hear each other, but can’t touch. The chickens will fly in there on occasion. Which is stupid on their part because they’re a prey animal, but I still love them. We put Taz, our Weimaraner, in the pen with him. Taz has zero issues with the animals. He doesn’t chase them or anything. He’s also very calm and friendly and figured that would be the best doggy role model for him on the farm sicne he’s our first Great Pyrenees and doesn’t have another one to learn from. So, we got the pen ready for the two new residents. And it rained–all day. It was annoying. We finally got the chance to bring him to the animals and it started to pour. At the downpour everyone–including the puppy and all farm animals–ran for cover. So we found out the donkeys may hate Apollo, ubt not near as much as they hate rain. Every animal we have hates the rain except for the geese and ducks.
Their first night in the pen was a successful one. Apollo was not happy about me going to work after our morning perimeter check on Monday. He’ll have to get used to it. My husband informed me that day he did well.
We’re looking forward to seeing the dog he grows into. In the meantime, we’ll be updating his training on the blog and our Facebook. Does anyone else have experience with these giants?
I want to be a little informal today and honest. I can’t stop thinking about goats. This is our first year using our own bucks to breed our does. And I’m so excited! We don’t show goats and we own mixed breeds. The purpose of our goats is to have a supply of goat’s milk. So we have mixed dairy breeds (Nigerian Dwarf, Nubian, Lamancha, and Toggenburg).
We had our first goats born on the farm in February of 2018. Buttercup had four kids. One buckling (who looked like the sire) and one doeling (who looked like Buttercup) didn’t make it. The other buckling (Snoopy) and doeling (Leia) were very lively and healthy. Lulu had three kids–two bucklings (Darth Vader and another one we sold) and a doeling (Pixie-Rey)–who were full of energy and still very healthy. Out of the five goats born, we sold one.
We do plan on getting a cow in the future. So after much consideration and tugging on the heart-strings, we have decided to sell every goat except for the two Nigerian Dwarf does. I may get one more Nigerian Dwarf doe, but I’m still on the fence for having a buck. If I have a male on my property at all, it’ll only be one–and a small one at that.
Cow aside, we’re also working on the greenhouse. In that greenhouse I’ll focus more on making my oils, tinctures, and soap (it’s going to be an impressive structure). We’ll be growing plants year round, mostly hydroponically.
Saturday, on December 1, I posted the goats for sale. I cried a little, too. I spent a lot of time with them Saturday and Sunday. I loved getting my nuzzles and kisses in. All of our goats have amazing temperaments. My boys, Vader and Snoopy, are the most affectionate on the farm. They always were. Over the weekend we were able to work out a deal with another homesteader. It’s a really beneficial trade and I’m a hot mess right now with sorrow and excitement.
It’s a good deal for the goats, too. All of the does are going to live on one homestead in exchange for two Great Pyrenees puppies. We’ve wanted this working dog on our farm for quite some time now. I’m going to miss my goats, but I kept as many together as possible in exchange for something else we truly needed on the farm. And I can’t really complain about it. I love trading. I love being able to provide something that someone else needs and be able to get something that I need in return. So much middle work is eliminated in the process. We’re getting a male when we drop off the girls on the 8th. I’m working on a couple of other deals for keeping the boys together, if at all possible.
Oh, and the kids don’t know about it. They know we’re rehoming some goats, but they don’t know about the puppies. They’ll have to get used to the idea that the dogs stay with the farm animals as we do have three pet dogs that stay in the house (and no more after these three).
So in the next two years, we’ll get to document our livestock guardian journey on and off with everyone. Maybe I’ll get start actually using videos.
Now I get to do one of my most favorite things to do with new animals: think of names.
What are some good male/female combos? I was looking at names from Beatles songs, but doesn’t Artemis and Apollo sound cool? What do you guys think?
Christian Cavalry Academy in Ormond Beach took a field trip this summer semester to visit our farm. We’ve never been a field trip destination so we were naturally excited.
Upon arrival, students and staff were able to view our animals while we cooked and served breakfast casserole and chicken sausages. The kids seemed to enjoy the food greatly and some even expressed surprise at the meat coming from a chicken.
As food was being eaten, students were brought into the back to view the processing and packaging rooms. My husband led that mini tour while I spoke with students and staff about the farm.
We made sure everyone had enough to eat and we quickly ran out of sausage.
After eating, students were given the opportunity to meet with some of our hens. The students were very gentle and compliant when shown how to hold a hen without scaring them.
After meeting the hen, my husband took groups of students to view our hydroponic garden. I stayed behind to show other groups of students our goats. We talked about how the plants use water to grow and how we take care of our goats. We discussed milking and cheesemaking briefly.
The students got to meet Willow, my classroom bunny. I was helping handle the rabbit so I was unable to get photographs since I was playing photographer that day.
We discussed how donkeys are sentry animals and help protect and alert the other animals of intruders.
We want to extend our thanks top Cavalry Christian Academy to visiting our farm. We greatly enjoyed getting to share how we live with everyone and educate young minds, at least a little bit, about where food comes from.