Christmas 2018 and New Year 2019

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Merry Belated Christmas and a Happy New Year! I have taken a short hiatus from writing. It was much needed. It was starting to become a chore rather than something enjoyable. But the fact that the last week and a half before winter break is incredibly busy, doesn’t help. I teach high school special needs. Among actual teaching, it is also my job to insure the students on my caseload take any end of course exams for any of their general education courses. It is also my job to ensure that my kiddos are getting the accommodations they’re supposed to get. That stress is probably the main culprit in making writing feel more like a chore. Now Christmas is over and I’m feeling normal again. I don’t holiday well, though I do try. My husband gets into the Christmas spirit easily and my kids make it a lot more enjoyable, obviously.

Reflecting on 2018, I’m amazed at how much we have grown in just 3 years as a farm. It all started with six chicks after all. We got Apollo on our farm and he’s been a wonder. I’ve never had a working dog before. Even though he’s being encouraged to form strong bonds with other animals on the farm (including our house dogs), he and I really do share a special bond. We have our routine perimeter check we do (which also tips me off to any attempted escape routes we need to remedy for our new little explorer). We meet with the animals and he is greatly praised for being the calm natured boy that he is.

My biggest worry was introducing him to the donkeys. Donkeys instinctively hate dogs, and with good reason. The first two days were rough, but both pup and donkeys responded well to my presence as mediator. Now our youngest donkey, Merida, finds Apollo fascinating and she often gives him a good sniff and greets him when he enters their area.

We are forever revisiting plans for the hydroponic greenhouse. This is going to be a huge project. It’ll actually be a hurricane proof building though, big enough to make and store homemade soaps, tinctures, and salves. This greenhouse and my ambitions are what originally prompted the downsizing of our goat herd. I want to do it all, but simlpy don’t have the time. We’re going to add fencing and enlarge the animal roaming area, especially with Apollo and his future sister (coming in the springtime once she’s born) being added to the mix. I always find with pack animals–and I don’t know why–that the male/female partnership works well. Our huskies, Ghost and Novi, are male and female and inseparable. I’m all for gender equality, but there’s a pretty even balance in male/female pairings. I’m juggling between two names for the future sister. I’m thinking Artemis (I know a Diana and cannot pick that).

We also downsized–a lot. Over 50 trash bags full of stuff acquired in thirteen years that no one needs anymore. The decluttering feels phenomenal and I’m personally very happy with it. I’m looking for a clutter free new year, filled with animals and music. I’m determined to play more music than I allowed the past four months.

Merry Christmas, everyone! And a happy new year!

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Meet Apollo

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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?

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