Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Gonna Get Your Goat

While were driving through the county looking for the perfect property, (this was somewhat like searching for the perfect Christmas tree—too much house, too little acreage; great acreage, too little house), we passed a farm with enclosures of goats. I wanted to stop . I felt drawn to those creatures. My husband felt the need to flee. “Stop some other time,” he absently said aloud. Over the next month, I mentioned the goats several times. He always gave me this “smile” and rolled his eyes. He just never knows what I will come up with next! Truthfully, I think he loves this about me, since I keep his life interesting. Never a dull moment around here!

I did finally stop on my way to the city one hot May afternoon. I was all dressed up for a much needed Mother’s day out. I passed though the first line of defense, the guardian dogs (more about our darling Daisy in future posts), and somewhat timidly knocked on the door. An older man in worn denim overalls answered the door. “Yes, well, I would like to ask you about your goats; I want to learn about them.” I spoke somewhat shakily. “I’m kind of busy right now and on the telephone,” he told me. My optimistic voice replied, “That’s okay, I can wait.”

Thinking back on this now, I am sure that as I stood there dressed like an office worker, he didn’t know quite what to make of me. I waited on a chair in his living room. Fomr there, I could just see his back through the office door barely blocking a computer screen. Ten, and then fifteen minutes went by as I petted his little dog in my lap. I could hear the computer keyboard clicking away. He had hung up the phone shortly after I entered and sat down. Twenty-five minutes later, I sat there waiting. I dropped my keys as a gentle reminder. He did not hear me. Should I say something?

Now, at this point, I was afraid to startle him suddenly. He had obviously forgotten me altogether. I crossed to the door of the small office and cleared my throat gently saying, “I can see you really are busy. I’m sorry to have stopped by unannounced.. I could come back another time when it is more convenient, if you wouldn’t mind.” I whispered a small prayer that he would indeed allow me to return.

As he turned from the computer screen, he flushed simultaneously with embarrassment, confusion, and also recognition of what had just taken place. “Oh, I am so sorry, I completely forgot about you. I really am in need of getting this piece, which is broken, for my milking machine right away.” He offered it up for me to view. He continued, “ It broke this morning and I can’t seem to find a replacement part.”

Of course, I didn’t know anything about goats, so how would I know anything about milking them? Just the same, I was so excited that he was willing to talk with me. I properly introduced myself. He inquired about my husband since the last name was familiar. Yes, they actually had met at a local Bible study. He was very friendly and talkative now.

We spent some time outside as he introduced me to the goats and allowed me to make the five statements that I knew about goats. I had been reading up on goats since the first time I drove past his farm. Of course, there were a few details I was lacking which quickly were set right.

It turned out to be, as that line in “Casablanca” goes, “The beginning of a beautiful friendship.”



Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Welcome to Whispering Winds Farm

What did we get when we bought this place? A lot of joy and a whole lot more work! There was 16 years of catch-up waiting for us to jump right in and get started. There is only one of me and my husband is very busy with his famous photography. (You will have to go over there and have a peek at the beautiful work he has done.) We do get to work together from time to time. I work in the office and help him.

The desire to be a farmer is mine though, and when it comes to that end of life, I generally take care of business. The first lesson that I learned on the farm is that everything needs to be done right now. Here’s a little farm poem for you:

The work on the farm is never done,
So save some for tomorrow and have more fun!

This may seem like a nursery rhyme, but let me tell you a little secret. The wisdom couched in this simplistic verse would shock you. You could work around this place until you drop, and folks, it would just never end. The little gem is that you need to stop and make a point of enjoying the process and what you have.

When life gets beyond me I grab my husband’s hand and take him on a blessings walk. We head out to look at the buildings, talk about our plans for the future, enjoy the sunshine, pet the animals, and watch our kids running healthy and happy in the yard while the dogs rough, tumble and chase the kittens. That’s the beauty of it all that makes it worth everything to live on a farm. Life is just plain good out here.

Of course with our combined skills, we make an awesome combo. He’s excellent with home repair and electrical stuff which comes in mighty handy when you need to update a 106 year old house. He can also wrestle a goat with pink-eye so that I can administer eye medication. I need to mention he is just a super guy. See, he really isn’t a farm boy—At All! He would have been much more content to move a little closer to the city and have easier access to all that cool commercial and fashion photography. So, this farm was his gift to all his girls. All in all, we really are a team.

The truly amazing thing is exactly how much we have done in just less than a year. We worked on the house a lot, but now that the weather is changing, I guess we will have some outdoor projects coming up.

Keep coming back and see what we are up to next at the farm.



Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Horse Sense

A word to the wise: there are some people out there who are more interested in the profit of the sale than in getting your child the right horse! Horses and riding have the potential to be dangerous. It is much better to be cautious and, if you have doubts, ask for someone with experience to guide you.

That being said, our daughter promptly spent four years working at a stable to earn nearly the $1,200 that it cost her to buy her horse. It think that this is worthy of note, because parents often give kids too much, and then they lose interest. She had invested herself in this pursuit. The work ethic learned will be lifelong. She knows that horses take a lot of care, and she knows how to do it. I was shocked that they actually paid her to learn all that stuff (this would be like attending college and having them pay you). She did work hard and provided valuable service to the owner of the stable. The farrier of the stable also took her under his wing and taught her about shoeing. Kaseyme, her future horse, belonged to him.

Best of all she had a purpose. It was amazing to watch that little girl be so determined. It didn’t all go smoothly. There were a few times that she lost sight of the goal and took a side trip, but, she soon got back on track.

When twelve rolled around, she could hardly wait. Her older cousin already had purchased her horse a few years before, and that only served to spur our girl on toward the goal.

My husband was, at the time, in the process of changing careers, and that was also going to cause a change of address for us. I couldn’t think of moving somewhere that would not allow us to have a place for a horse. After all, she had worked so hard for so long. What were we going to do? While we couldn’t buy the horse, we could find a house with enough property to allow a horse (and chickens would be nice, too, since we had already embarked on that road).

We looked for five months until we found our little gem—Whispering Winds Farm. It wasn’t what we had been looking for in the sense that it was a smaller house and acreage, but the minute that I walked onto the property, God whispered in my ear, “I have set this aside for you.” Then the wind softly caressed my cheek. I knew that we could make a go of it there. We could both make our small farm profitable and be keeping horses on small acerage.

And so 10 days after we moved to our farm, Kayse was brought to his new home. My daughter wrote out the check herself. Later that evening, her comment to her dad and I was, “It took me three years to earn that money and it was gone in two days!”

“Yes, honey, welcome to the world!” her Dad and I replied.



Sunday, March 19, 2006

How It All Began: Chicken Trouble

Have you ever made a decision and began an adventure that completely changed your life? It sort of began like that for us here at Whispering Winds Farm.

The little project that we started was chickens. It was one of those innocent little things that you do to make your kids happy. I knew I was going to be in a bit of trouble when "Dad" saw them. I even told the kids, "I am going to be in sooo much trouble." But, their happy, little, beaming faces caused me to throw caution (and fear) to the wind. My husband was completely not happy when I came home from our local farm and home store with that little cardboard box.

"Just two chicks," I told him. "We are going to study them for one year as a home school project." I quickly followed with, "we will be learning the life cycle, have fresh eggs, and at the end of the year we will have them butchered." I continued on, pleading my case with fervor, explaining that we could raise them in the rabbit hutch that we already had and enclose a small area in the backyardgarden to help keep down the bugs. (More on that wise decision later!)

He is really a good sport and of course wants only the best for our children's education. So Fluffy and Precious moved right in and joined the family. That was in February. We waited all Summer for those first eggs. Come September we were practically busting. The anticipation was tantalizing and agonizing all the same. Finally, we found that first wet, little sand paper egg. The shells are soft at first because the mineral vent has not opened and dropped calcium down on the first few eggs. It was a wonder we didn't strut around clucking with pride. In October, after visiting family on their farm, nine little Bantychickens joined them. It was wonderful living the country life!

Wait, did I mention that we lived in town?! Yes, we did. Our neighbors tolerated us and did not turn us in. Later on, they even bought some of our "farm fresh" eggs. I also failed to mention that, the same day I bought my two chicks, I phoned the other homeschool mom I know in town. I mean, everybody needs a partner in crime right? The call went something like this, "Hi Cathy, I am here at the farm and home store, and we are getting some chickens for school. Do you want some too?" (Like, I always go to the store and pick up chicks.) Her response was, "What! Your getting chickens?" I casually said, "Yeah, as a homeschooling project. How many do you want?" After we discussed the available breeds she purchased four4 hens and a little rooster. I carted them home consoling myself with the thought that I was not in nearly as much trouble as she was going to be! It was then that I purchased my first book on chickens.

By now, you have almost certainly learned that I did not grow up on a farm. I did not visit my grandparents and spend summers on their lovely country farmstead playing with their chickens. I had not actually ever touched a chicken in person. I simply did not know anything about them. I soon came to love them and the little bit of the farm life that they could offer me and my family.

I no longer living in town. We bought a lovely little farm with a proper chicken house. We now have 58, and briefly last year, we had 120. I know a lot about chickens now, and we even sell our eggs to a chain grocery store. We average about 12 dozen eggs every four days.

I will introduce you to some of our other critters next time.