Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mishaps & Raindrops On Roses

Greetings from Captain Von Trapp!

Well part of the promise of this blog was to share not only our adventures on the farm, but our misadventures and mishaps too.  I guess as we get older we realize that often those "that's not how we planned it" moments just happen sometimes.  Even if they are down right unpleasant at times, we often learn the most from our mishaps.  Most of the times those "not so good" events lead to better than expected results. Yet as Dr. Seuss so eloquently told us..."sometimes they don't."  Sometimes these road bumps serve a purpose to remind us to slow down and appreciate what we have, the ones we love, and what we have accomplished.  Life can get busy, we can't plan everything, nor should we try. This week life told Nathan and I to slow down a bit.  Perhaps not in the best way, but it gave me a moment to pause and to appreciate all the good that has happened to Nathan and I this year.  We certainly appreciate all the support & love from you all as well.

Although Tuesday started out as an "it's not my day" kind of day for me,  Nathan ended up getting top billing for the day.  So we will start with his mishap.  Who knew getting the mail could be so dangerous?  Well when you involve slippery roads, naughty neighborhood dogs, and a four-wheeler the odds slip from your favor.  It is safe to say the odds were not in Nathan's favor this past Tuesday.

It was Tuesday evening and we were wrapping up a busy day here on SweetWater.  Nathan had the Dexta up and running the day before and had spent Tuesday readjusting the timing on the tractor so that it would run smoothly.  He wanted to do one more check at our mailbox because he was expecting the new steering wheel to arrive that day.  If you have been to SweetWater you understand why we take the four-wheeler to the mailbox. For those of you who have not visited yet, the house is set back quite a distance from the road.  It is a nice little walk to the mailbox, but if you have a package with tractor parts the distance walking back to the house feels like it has tripled.  I made the mistake once of walking to the mailbox and ended up lugging back what initially started out as a thirty pound package and I am absolutely convinced somehow got 5 times heavier by the time I finally reached the bottom of the hill by the house.  Anyway, Nathan jumped on the four-wheeler to do a quick check before we went to check on the goats.  After 5 or 10 minutes he rode back down with a serious expression on his face.  

I came to find out that while he was checking the mail he noticed some dogs on the property.  Unfortunately, we have a lot of wild dogs in the area.   As much as I love critters, we have to be careful because the wild dogs have been known to come on to people's property and wipe out an entire coop of chickens or herd of goats.  So we have to encourage them to stay away.  Nate was going to run them off when his back tire slipped on wet loose gravel.  Long story shorter...the four-wheeler flipped, Nate fell off and his shoulder took the brunt of his fall.  Thank goodness the four-wheeler did not land on him.  We decided better be safe than sorry, so we spent the evening in the ER. After some X-Rays, we discovered Nathan separated his shoulder from his clavicle.  We were glad to know for sure, but it will be an expensive trip to find out that we were already doing all that we could do to help it, sling, pain medication, and rest.  I am happy to report after two days a lot of the swelling has gone down and he is able to move it a little better.  I will give him credit, although I know he would rather be out working on this and that, he is taking it easy and really resting his arm.  Life told us to slow down...we listened.  I am grateful that Nathan is doing better and the accident was not worse than it was.

Well after Nathan's incident my "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" doesn't seem so bad after all... even if it did involve chicken poo. Regardless, I promised mishaps and life on the farm provides many opportunities for mishaps.  Nathan and I have definitely encountered a few along the way so far.

If you know anything about goats, they are like preschoolers - cute as buttons, but naughty as can be.  Of course our house is now littered with books about homesteading, raising goats, raising chickens, and farm equipment.  I have read many tales of how goats will make you laugh, drive you bonkers, and make you love them again in one fell swoop.  Well our darling little herd reminded me this past Tuesday of one of the cardinal rules of goat keeping. CLOSE the gate completely even if you are just stepping out of the pen for a second.  What started out as a quick refilling of the water buckets ended up as a thirty minute game of follow the leader.  At this point in the day, my spirits were still high.  So I was amused by our three boy goats and their antics.  I was also happy to see that our new billy, Captain Von Trapp, was so gentle and happily followed me around as I finished up my chores and then right back into the pen.  The little boys were a bit more challenging and the girls trying to see if I had more treats did not make it much easier.  After some failed attempts of me picking up goats and putting them back where they belonged...I FINALLY got everyone back in place.  Well until Friedrich decided to show off his new skill of jumping over the wooden gate. He is our official trickster of the bunch.  Joke was on me...just as I was ready for another goat chase...he jumped back in his pen.  Good one Friedrich!

I should have called it a day after my morning with our silly little cherubs, but I decided to not leave well enough alone. You see after finally getting some much needed rain, I decided I needed to give the baby game birds a better rain shelter.  The day before I had found some scrap wood and built a basic box that would last until we moved them in with the chickens.  I placed it in the coop and the birds seemed to like it.  I should have left it at that.  I didn't.

After talking to Nathan, I was worried about them still getting wet.  I decided to try and rotate the box. MISTAKE. See.. since I knew it was temporary, I used particle board or as Nathan and I call it "fall-aparticle board."  Think about any piece of furniture you have bought from Target or Wal-Mart.  It is not fancy, but it does what you want it to until you try to move it.  Same concept here.  I picked it up and tried to turn my bird box...completely fell apart.  Let's just say that if the baby pheasants hadn't heard enough colorful language from Nathan building the tractor, I added to their lexicon.

Yup..chicken poo
Obviously, I should have stopped there, but another rainstorm was brewing and I could not leave the baby birds without some sort of shelter.  I had to get creative and I had no desire to even look at particle board at the present moment.  I grabbed the plastic storage bin top I was using as a floor for the birds and set it up as a make-shift shelter.  It was humid. My hair had slipped in my face and I was getting sweat in my eyes. Lovely, I know...but it got worse.  I wiped the hair out of my eyes and managed to rub chicken poo across my forehead into my hair.  UGH!!!  Okay... I got the message.  I was done for the day.  Well after my mini meltdown, a quick shower, and Nathan patiently listening to me spouting off and then making me laugh.  I finally got the message...
The next day, I found an easier way to give them a shelter using two of the lids, some shavings, and an old bath mat.  As you can tell by the picture, the baby birds love it.  Like I said, often our mishaps lead us to better solutions.  This was a lot less work for me, will be easy to clean (bird poo remember), and provides a great shelter for the birds until we move them to the coop.

Turns out it wasn't just Nathan and me who had a bad Tuesday. Poor Truman, our black lab, learned a painful lesson too!  He made the mistake of chasing one of the baby goats and of course got a lecture from us about acceptable behavior.  Well our billy took it upon himself to reinforce that lesson.  As I was trying to get all the goats back in their pen on Tuesday, Captain Von Trapp decided to have a quick but effective conversation with Truman.  I turned around to see poor "Who me? Trumie" receive a billy goat head butt to the side.

OUCH!  Truman can be a little slow to learn most of the time, but I am fairly sure he got the message.  Seems like all the dogs quickly gained a healthy respect for the goats as soon as the billy arrived.  With horns like these, it is a pretty simple message to learn.  They still love to come out and "help" with the goats, but they do it from a safe distance now.

So mishaps happen here on SweetWater. We definitely have bad days here on the farm, but while we are licking our wounds or healing our egos (in Truman's case) good things are happening just outside the door.  While we were recovering from this week we noticed a lot, discovered some great connections, and had time to just catch up with each other and our family & friends.

We realized the goats led us to a few great things.  We were very lucky to find their previous owner on Craigslist. Besides selling us some great goats and being super helpful, she makes goat milk soaps & scrubs, and sells goat meat.  I bought some of the soaps and they are fantastic.  I highly recommend trying them out.  Nate and I would love to sell some baskets with "SweetWater Treats" one day and these would be a great addition.  Plus maybe eventually perhaps one day, but don't quote me on this...we might want to have our own goat meat.  So we plan on buying some from her and seeing if we like it...but like I said...MAYBE we might try.

Oh and now that we have goats we finally have the start of a pond!  While Nate was clearing up some of the fallen logs for the goat pen, he managed to get the dirt in the right place to hold some water by the garden/goat area.  It still needs some work to ensure that it will not just drain away, but it has held water for the past few days.  Hopefully, we can get it finished up soon, plant some trees around it, and let the grass grow back.  It will be a nice little hidden addition to the property.

I know this post covers how life can throw you curve balls and things don't always work out as planned.  This is all very true, but I cannot end this post without talking about another powerful force that has a way of rearranging your plans.  I eluded to it earlier during my goating misadventure...and feel I need to take a moment to acknowledge it here.  You see, if you have ever owned an animal, you will at some point realize who is actually in charge.  Yup, they are.  This week alone we were reminded twice of who runs the show on SweetWater.
Surprise I'm a boy - call me Aggie.

Example #1 The Goats:  Nathan and I made two nice pens. One for the girls & One for the boys.  We wanted the boys to stay with the Billy so he does not get lonely.  Friedrich, our jumper, decided otherwise and jumped out of his pen and in with the girls.  (Don't worry. He is a wether (fixed)).  He was with the girls when we got him and is buddies with our little tom boy, Briggita.  As Nathan put it, "You might as well just leave him there, he is just going to do it again anyway."  So much for our plans on that matter. Oh and the goats decided when we should introduce them to the dogs too.  We had a plan of bringing one dog in at a time in an organized fashion.  The goats decided it was more fun if they came out of the pen and met the dogs all at once.  Thanks guys!

Example #2 The Chickens:  Nathan and I have been talking about when we should start free ranging the chickens. I was thinking in a few more weeks.  I was planning on letting them out when we were outside working and putting them in when we were not around. Agatha, our dominant rooster, apparently feels differently and has been letting himself in and out for the past few days now.  Welp, I guess that decision is made for us.

 Whether plans change, decisions are made for us, or we have a set back, Nathan and I know that is just part of life here on the farm.  Plus there is plenty to look forward to over the next few weeks.  We are excited for some family visiting (maybe even a few friends too)!  The tractor is almost ready to go and we can test out the hay equipment (maybe even attempt our first hay cutting).  Oh and we are counting down the days until we get our first farm fresh eggs.  Of course, I expect the critters will keep us on our toes and make us laugh a lot.  As you can see, even with a few bumps and bruises, life is still sweet on SweetWater.

Truman is ready to try and play with those goats again...just a little further away this time.

Thanks for stopping by the farm!  See you again soon.

Nathan, Lily & Our Critter Crew

Interested in the Goat Milk Soap & Scrubs, check out

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