Category Archives: farm

desparation then devastation

there is a time in my life where I need to realize some truths and accept them.  I am working on this – every day.  there is a long list and I don’t feel like this is the time to divulge that list in it’s entirety, but rather just glance at that list.

with the infertility journey and the adoption journey one of the truths that I have learned is that in the grand scheme of things I have no control.  I have no “real” say in my life.  yes I make decisions about what I am going to wear, what I am going to eat, what I am going to do, but this journey has opened my eyes that I can’t control everything, despite my best effort I just can’t.  I can make lists to control the happenings in my life (and the organization of my home), but in reality I don’t have control – just an illusion of control that I cling to with every breath.  if I had control I would have said “listen ovaries – you have one job – it is time to do it” and it would have worked.  if I had control I would have looked at my doctor and said “you have no option but to make this procedure succeed.”  but I don’t have control and I am learning – still – that there is nothing that I could have done differently or additionally to change the course of our journey.

this is where I feel like I should say “in reality we don’t have any control because God should be in control of our lives.”  whereas, yes I agree God should be the center of our lives and our decision making, this isn’t that type of post.

as stated in my last post we have been officially waiting for a year.  we have been passed over numerous times – for an entire year.  with that type of response or in this case lack there of,  I can’t help but think.  that thinking often leads me down a dark and narrow road full of doubt and sadness and longing.

a road that causes my imagination to run wild with “what ifs” and “what is.”

what if we are never placed?  what if I never get to be a mom and andy a dad?  what if I have robbed family of having the experience of us as parents?  what if andy will really one day regret not taking the “out” when he could?  what if he starts to resent me?  what if my life never feels complete?  what if that longing and desire never goes away?  what if I never get to experience all the things that fuel my fears?  what if I sink into misery and allow me not being a mother to destroy my soul?  what is so wrong with us that we haven’t been placed?  what is it that caused people to skip over our profiles?  what is the big picture and can I survive not having the control to understand right now?  what is the reason God gave me this desire to be a mother and paired that with bad ovaries?  what is the point – is there a point?  is this some sort of punishment from above?

that dark road is sometimes dotted with street lamps – glimpses of hope, answers, or things that get me back to the sunshine.  talking with other people that are waiting to be placed and hearing that they have the same fears – that I am truly not alone in some of those thoughts.  when andy tells me that he loves me and doesn’t resent me despite all the reasons that I have given him to feel the other way.  when I know someone looks at our profile and passes us by because they want a family that already has a child.  a beautiful sunset or sunrise over the mountains.  street lamps that brighten up my mind.

but sometimes the things on my road aren’t street lamps, but rather lanterns.  a little light that shines bright enough to tide me over.  not nearly as bright as the lamps, but still light enough to get me through.

these things usually show up right before I have a breakdown full of complete and total doubt and tears.  when I feel like I have come to the end of my road.  when i start to question why we are doing what we are doing.  when I am grasping at straws.  desperation for that normalcy and control.

desperation: a state of despair, typically one that results in rash or extreme behavior

synonyms: hopelessness, anguish, agony, distress

usually my desperation manifests in lists.  lots and lots of lists.  I clean things and organize things.  I constantly am trying to reorganize and make better.  trying to drown my thoughts with lists so that I can’t do anything but focus on what is in front of my face.  I write, take pictures, and create new projects around the house to occupy my mind.  it helps.  in the process of focusing on anything else, those doubts and sadness ebb away.  that longing is still there, but without the doubt it just turns back into “just waiting.”

once I realized that we had been waiting a year and that we had to update a bunch of our paperwork I started to feel overwhelmed and to be honest – sad and a little (ok a lot) mad.

**side “semi relevant” note**

there are times where I start to wonder if God is “doing” this to us because he thinks I would be a terrible mother.  or that other people think I would be a terrible mother so God is like “i agree.”  there was this time that I was with a group of people (and a young baby just a few months old) and everyone, except me, was being called away for just a moment.  the parents were trying to decide who would miss out and stay to give the baby the bottle.  I offered since I was not leaving and both of the parents looked at me like I was crazy.  like if God didn’t trust me with a baby, they weren’t going to either.  the parents exchanged looks and did let me feed their baby the bottle, but their looks and doubts just fueled that thought process.  it is possible that I was over sensitive to the situation and that I misread the looks and the hesitation, but in the moment those looks emphasized that God thought I would be a terrible mother and everyone agreed.

**end semi relevant side note**

so in my sad and a lot mad state I found myself thinking back to those events, of possibly not being trusted to give a baby a bottle, and to the thought process that God thinks  I would be a terrible mother.  my thoughts are fueled by fear of the unknown and once it takes root desperation sets in.  hopelessness overcomes rational thought and where my behavior isn’t always rash or extreme my thoughts tend to become that way.  I found myself on my dark narrow road, running.  running into the darkness looking for a street lamp to ease off the desperation.  I found a lantern.

at dinner saturday night dad told me that he was going back to the farm.  there was a calf down and he was going to have to bottle feed it.  I had been a hermit in my house working on various projects and told him I would be glad to go with him.  andy ended up getting home before we left to go to the farm and he joined in with us.  we loaded up our gear and headed into the muddy abyss.  the calf had gotten stuck in the mud and was weak but drank the bottle (and a little more).  dad made sure that it was in a nice bed of hay and warm and we left.

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sunday after church, dad, mom, and I gathered our gear and went back to check on the little calf.  as we drove up he was stretched out and his head was semi back  I leaned forward and said – “doesn’t look like good news,”  dad agreed.  as we got a tad closer he blinked.  I was ecstatic – he was alive.  we gave him another bottle and repositioned him to be more comfortable and in more warm hay.  dad decided that the little guy needed to be moved to the barn.  later sunday gene (live in farm hand/manager) was able to take the tractor and get the little calf to the barn; however, his mother was no longer interested in following her baby or the tractor to the barn.  it was left to us humans to nurse him back to health.  after youth on sunday andy and I headed to the farm to check on the little guy.  he was in the stall with his legs tucked under him and he was dry and warm in his bed of hay.  I sat on a bucket and fed him his bottle and he was my little “mud pie.”  cows normally moo but a little cow with pneumonia purrs like a little kitten.  he was given several shots to make him feel better.  I rubbed his fluffy little head and ears and told him that I loved him.  I put my hand under his chin and lifted his head up and made eye contact with him and told him to have a good night and that I would see him Monday.  dad sent me a message Monday morning that he drank his bottle and that he wanted to stand up but was still too weak.  he was still purring a little bit too.

I told andy that mud pie had to live.  he became my desperation.  I didn’t have a list this time, I had mud pie.  he had to live.  he was my way of proving to God and to the rest of the world that I can take care of a living thing.  that I could give a bottle and love.  that I could be passionate and that I could be the role of a mother.

Monday night after work I went to the farm and got there before my dad got back.  I went into the stall and mud pie was in a weird sling that dad and gene strung up to help insure that his legs were getting blood flow.  I grabbed my bucket and sat down in front of him and rubbed his head and said hello.  when I was rubbing his neck he leaned into my hand like a dog would do.  I told him about my day and he listened – he is after all a cow that couldn’t go anywhere even if he wanted to.  I noticed he wasn’t purring as much and was tap dancing with his front legs.  I informed him that he had to get better.  he had to at least try.  he mooed at me.  it was a moo filled with passion and anger and rebellion.  a moo that told me that he was a fighter.  after that I talked to him about my desperation and I rubbed his ears and he semi mooed in understanding.  dad showed up and we gave him his bottle and he drank most of it, but it was too early to let him out of the sling.  so we came back a few hours later and freed him and propped him up in his bed of hay.  I told him good night and we turned the light off bathing the stall in darkness.  my Tuesday morning update was about the same as the morning before.  Tuesday after work we went to check on him and dad said that he had been in his sling but was out for the night.  I walked into the stall and found little mud pie snuggled in his hay.  he tried to stand.  I tucked his feet under him and held his head up and talked to him while he drank his bottle.  we made eye contact and I told him how much I loved him and what a good and handsome boy he was.  we had to go to a meeting and I knew we wouldn’t be back Tuesday night so right before we left I went in and rubbed his head, told him good night and sweet dreams and walked away from my little mud pie.

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Wednesday morning I got my morning update.  the subject of the e mail was mud pie.  I opened my e mail and read “I am sorry!  We tried.”

devastation: severe and overwhelming shock or grief

I sat facing my computer and silent tears escaped the rims of my eyes rolled down my face.  I reminded myself to breathe and stared at the words.  mud pie was gone.  my lantern burned out.  my desperation morphed into devastation.  I was devastated that he was gone and that my attempts failed.  I couldn’t even do right by a cow.  I couldn’t save him.  my thoughts quickly went down the road that maybe God is right, maybe I am not fit to be a mother.

Wednesday night, with those thoughts circling in my head, I curled up in bed and cried.  my eyes filled with tears that rolled down my face and puddled on my pillow, followed by choking sobs.  a soul drenching cry.

I woke up Thursday morning with a throbbing headache – remnant of my tears from the night before.  as we drove to work I watched the clouds play on the tops of the mountains and with no other rational thought – other than it made me smile, I had found my street lamp and was finding my way back to the main road.

it was during this time of desperation that I realized a few things.  one is that I have no control.  I can cling to the illusion as much as I want, but it will always just be an illusion I create for my peace of mind.  another is that this process, from start until present, is just a constant ride of ups and downs: the waiting, the emotions of being rejected, the unknown, the way a person will walk by with a stroller and my heart almost leaps out of my chest, the looks of pity from other people, the hope that we will be the family that we always envisioned.  something that is difficult to explain and difficult for people to understand is that sometimes there are no words to make me feel better about this stressful time of just waiting and of the unknown.  that sometimes even the most rational comments and insight will not sound rational to me.  this time, my little mud pie, taught me that in my times of desperation, stick to the lists.

going once going twice sold…

on april fifth we got to do something we have never done before.  we went to a bull auction.

it was impressive.

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we had our brochure and dad did his research to see which one to go for.

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the bidding started and it went fast and high.  the bulls were fun to watch.  some of them kicked the railing and some of them stood there looking at us all like we were fools.  once they said sold the door was open and they went back into the field until it was time for the bulls to leave their home and move to another one.

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they even served lunch (don’t worry regardless of what dad says this isn’t one of the bulls that was “bad”)

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while dad was finishing up I went outside and took a look around the farm.

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my parents said that if we got a bull at auction since andy went we would call him andy.  andy didn’t love that idea so he has named him dozer (for bulldozer).  when dozer gets to the farm I will post some pictures of him at his new home!

spring round up

sorry for the delay in posts (no excuses – well there are but I will spare you the details)

back in march (the 27th to be exact) we worked cattle.  I didn’t get out there until right after work but I rushed out as soon as I could.  it was amazing.  I had a new outlook on working cattle from last year.  from my perspective I am in constant awe.

all of the cows are rounded up (with the exception of a handful that eluded the round-up process).

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when I get out of the car I walk cautiously through the gates towards the yelling and the moos.  I approach the barn and wait until I hear the shoot open and a cow comes flying by like lightning pausing when it sees me I can only imagine that it is worried that the humans are playing a joke and that it has to go through more “torture” but that hesitation doesn’t last long as it runs for the green grass and bales of hay waiting as their rewards for new ear tags, fly tags, shots, and medicine.  I stand still and wait until I hear the shoot catch again.  I know it is safe to cross in front of the barn.  I walk up to see everyone in their place doing their assigned tasks and watch for a minute the well oiled machine that has become known as “working cattle.”  because of dad’s foot we had some new people stepping in and I quickly took my place to help betsy load ear tags (and it is harder than it looks – we are going to have a few practice meetings before our next cattle working day).

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 betsy and I tried to have tags and shots loaded (betsy did most of it because it took me forever to get the ear tags loaded).  jack was in charge of manning the gates and keeping the direction of the cow in the right way.  andy writes down the important information.  William and Mitchell give the shots and do the tags.  randy and ryan and another Mitchell help move them through the shoot and load them.

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each person has their own way of dealing with the cows.  I am sure that the cows believe they are being tortured but it really is to help them, but it is hard to reason with a cow.  my cousin William, that has always been a quiet one, leads the charge and give orders.  Mitchell my other cousin (who just graduated from ETSU by the way) is extremely tall.  if you were walking down a dark alley in the middle of the worst neighborhood and saw him in the shadows it would freak you out because he looms over everything – it would freak you out until you heard him talking to those cows.  he talks to them and tells them that they are ok.  he calls the adult ones mama and the little ones tiny’s.

this year there were two crazy cows  that jumped the fence a few times and were very agitated (it is instances like this that has everyone talking about how crazy dads cows are).  William kept telling me and betsy that if she came in our area to run.  I had my escape plan worked out but betsy looked at me and was like what does he mean get out.  where do we go?  I showed her the gate I was going over or through and she picked her gate too.  in the end they went through and everything was ok.

not everything went as perfectly as it could but at the end of the day we made it.  gene had to go to the hospital before I got there.  everyone was pulling away and William led us in making sure the cows were watered and fed.  andy tossed hay out of the barn, we moved water troughs, counted cows, I opened gates for the tractor.

  as the sun was going down you could hear the pleasant moos from the back field of cows that were reunited with their babies and the images of the last cow that was pushed through the process.  it was a “tiny” and randy carried it over to where we could tag it.  he held it and everyone gathered around it and watched as it got his new earrings and my giant cousin talked to it and when tiny stood up everyone looked at him and several people patted his head and he was on his way.  that cute face looking at us like we were aliens.

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until the next round-up.

hey hey hey a farm photo post

this past weekend me and mom were farmers.  we went to the farm to feed the animals and ended up herding cows.  we didn’t get them where we wanted them…but we tried and will try again.

we have been trying to get to the farm a lot but with the cold weather and it getting dark so early it has been rough getting out there.  i will say when we do go it makes me so happy to be with the furry animals.

now for some pictures (most of these are from feb with some from last weekend).

new resident

new resident

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amazing sky.

amazing sky.

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debating on nibbling the camera.

debating on nibbling the camera.

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a man and his horse.  (we got him so far before he got spooked and ran back to his mom)

a man and his horse. (we got him so far before he got spooked and ran back to his mom)

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my buddy coming to see me.

my buddy coming to see me.

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moving the horses to a different field.

moving the horses to a different field.

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me and andy on "our" hill.

me and andy on “our” hill.

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sometimes it frustrates me that the camera doesn't capture as good as real life.

sometimes it frustrates me that the camera doesn’t capture as good as real life.

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breath taking views

breath taking views

always looking for a treat

always looking for a treat

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jack is fun to take pictures of because he reminds me of eeyore.

jack is fun to take pictures of because he reminds me of eeyore.

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hold me

hold me

silly boys (notice pancake sticking out his tongue)

silly boys (notice pancake sticking out his tongue)

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jack and pancake (notice how jack is listening for pancake to attack)

jack and pancake (notice how jack is listening for pancake to attack)

argyle growing up

argyle growing up

andy and the furries

andy and the furries

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poor jack looks fluffy

poor jack looks fluffy

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it is time to work the cattle which means shots, vaccines, and new tags.  that is why they are in the barn, but fear not they will be turned out again soon and will be back to eating grass and mooing.

alban hills

(that is the name of the farm incase you didn’t know – or if you actually cared).

i mentioned will getting attached by the horses while he was in town.  well the proof is in this post.  it was really muddy when we went out there so we stayed in the kabota and fed them treats from there.  abbey distracted will and penny grabbed the treat bucket and tipped it over.  it was a feast for everyone!  jack was sad so he blocked our path so that he could get some special loving!  he always looks so sad.

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with it getting dark so early it is a little hard to get good pictures of the animals.  but i still love taking my camera trying to get a great shot.

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i know the animals love the treats but it makes me happy that they come running when we get there.  a while ago we went to feed and saw a blue cow.  he was so slate gray he was blue.  by the time we could get a picture of him (his mama was really protective) he has already turned more gray/cream and less blue.  all of the baby cows are getting so big.

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i can’t wait for days to be longer so we can spend more time wandering around and playing with the animals.

furry happiness

we go to the farm to feed animals i have stated before that it is more for my benefit then it is for theirs.  they can eat grass and be happy with that, but who doesn’t want a little treat every now and then.  it doesn’t matter how bad of a day that i have had going to see the animals and ride around makes me happy.  some people go to happy hour and have liquid happiness i go to the farm for furry happiness.

i have enjoyed being able to go see the mountains and have enjoyed being “responsible” for animals.  pancake has come such a long way.  do i trust him yet – not at all, but i feel a lot more comfortable around him and he does me too.  i can now put my forehead on his and he crosses his eyes and looks at me but doesn’t jerk away like he has been shot.  he has gotten to the point where he always wants to run to us.  which is awesome but a little scary when he is flying down a hill and you are at the bottom. pancake also does this thing where he will just stick out his tongue after eating!

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pancake has always had personality (which was evident when he tried to take dad out and escape the horse trailer) but it is really starting to show in a fun way.  he loves treats.  sometimes he gets really excited and tries to eat your hand with them but he responds to ouch and stop and a firm hand on the forehead.  he tries to steal other animals treats also.  he also loves the camera.  i will get the camera out and he comes to see it.  he wants to smell it and lick it and see if it is a treat.  he loves having his picture taken even if it mean photobombing another picture!

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he still gets antsy around the horses but has gotten more bold and will come around them.  i recently learned that he slurps his water.  he will put his lips in a bucket of water and uses his lips like they are his personal straw.  it is really funny but could be a little annoying if he did it all the time around me.  (the horses also drink this way too).

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now that the weather is getting cooler all the animals are feeling a little frisky.  pancake is running circles around us and jack.  jack has gotten a lot more mobile since pancake has come to live at the farm.  jack runs and kicks and makes a weird heehaw noise.  it is a little more like a screech noise but still gets the point across.  jack also gets excited about treats.  he doesn’t bite as much as he lips.  he will take the treat from me but my hand ends up in his lips.  he really loves the caramel treats that we recently got.

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argyle is growing up so much.  we put the halter on his….and he lost it.  we are still looking in brush and on limbs to see where he got it caught..  he is almost taller than me.  he is fuzzy (with his baby/winter coat).  he loves for his butt to be rubbed.  he will let me rub his head and neck and then he turns so that we can get to his back and butt.  he also will still rub/lean up against me like a big dog.  he loves attention and treats and is getting a lot more bold with the big horses.

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the other horses are still crazy.  they love treats and being bullies to the other animals.  flag is getting a lot nicer and actually will listen to me (well sort of).  abbey and penny are still a little jumpy and bossy but they are sweet and get treats too.

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dinozzo…he is getting big!

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we love to take my camera (in part for the animals but also for the mountains).  you never know what you will capture.  (all of the pictures are from the last several weeks).

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my dose of furry happiness.

the country: a beautiful thing

growing up we took a lot of family vacations.  i say a lot but i have no idea how many we really took because when you are younger things seem more often.  i know that we travelled all over and i am amazed at some of the places my parents have told me i have been but i don’t really remember.  some of the memories i have of those vacations are of me and will running through museums trying to get through them as quickly as we could so we could move on.  i remember waiting on my parents (who according to my younger self) were the slowest people in the world.  it was a race to get back to the hotel/camp ground to go swimming in the pool.  ah the joys of family vacations as a child.  when we loaded up for vacations as teenagers it was more of the same, but instead of running to the end, it was more avoid and hide from my parents (who according to my teenager self) were the most embarrassing humans alive.  it was a slow form of torture.  looking back i realize that it was actually (dare i say) fun.  now looking back it makes me a little sad.  not only because of the carefree vacations but because i missed out on a lot of things because i was too hurried to really look at the things in the museum or appreciate the sites.  i was too busy making fun of things that we had to do to really absorb it and the history.  as a teenager i was so annoyed that i wasn’t with my friends that i missed out on a lot of great experiences.  i might have been physically there and going through motions but i didn’t really “get” it – whatever “it” was.  this is true for our trip to washington dc, the nasa space center in fl, countless museums across the south, the cherokee reenactments etc. 

that rambling leads me to this:

i grew up in the city, yes i spent time in the country visiting family on some weekends and in the summer but let’s face it…i’m a city girl.  there are times i pretend that i am a country girl…like when we go feed the animals and i move a branch out of the tractor path and act like the world stood still until those tasks were accomplished.  i pretend that i know what i am doing when i grab the horse’s halter to put fly medicine on her face – but in reality i am thinking “please don’t pull me through the fence.”   i pretend that i trust pancake when i think he is really plotting against me (especially when he flattens his ears).  i pretend that pancake has come a great ways and it is all because i am a self-proclaimed donkey whisperer.  i pretend that if it wasn’t for me and andy, argyle would be so skittish around humans that he would be considered for the rodeo.  i pretend that when argyle goes to his new home (whenever that might be) that i won’t miss him because he is just a horse when i actually think that i love him and there is a great possibility that i will cry when i drive up and he isn’t standing in the field with his lanky legs running to the fence to greet us.  

i pretend that i have always enjoyed doing these things…but i haven’t.  i can remember when i was growing up and was “forced” to come to tn with my family.  it was a time when i was starting to really have a social life outside of neighbors and family friends but wasn’t old enough to stay at home so my parents did the responsible thing and took me with them.  i drug my feet the entire time.  i longed to be with my friends in the city and hated that i was missing all of the latest things.  i was worried that my best friends would replace me in the 72 hours that i was out of their sight.  i missed the beauty in feeding animals with my grandmother.  i missed the knowledge in riding around town with my grandfather making deliveries and picking up boxes.  i missed the freedom in running through a tobacco field looking for tobacco worms.  i missed the experience of riding on the tractor around the farm.  i missed the familiarity of walking through the barn yard with the cows.  i missed the understanding of why we picked and shelled beans and cut up apples.  i will take a moment to make it clear that i did all of those things and for the most part i plastered a smile on my face but it isn’t until now – years later – that i fully grasp what i was missing out on by not truly living in the moment.  i didn’t take advantage of the situations and now that we are living here there are things i wish i could do again and wish that andy could experience because they really were life changing things – if i had only let them be.  no one in my family grows tobacco anymore and when we pass a field i am reminded of running through the rows and looking for worms.  it makes me sad that andy may never see one and get to step on it.  we won’t be able to walk into a barn and smell the dried tobacco.  i missed out – i took for granted those experiences because i wanted to be somewhere else.

i have been thinking a lot about all of this in the past year and have come to the conclusion that if i would have moved to tn earlier in my life (or if i was born and raised here) i would not be as appreciative as i am today to be doing the things i am doing.  if i lived here when i was in high school i would have applied to college and moved far away because i wouldn’t have appreciated the experiences that this little town has to offer.  i would have been the first of my class to skip town and get on with my life.  i would fled and never looked back and honestly would have never realized what i was walking away from. 

it took moving to the country to realize how much i took for granted and still take for granted.  i feel like i am more aware now (as compared to when i was younger).  i see the outline of the mountains in the morning sun and notice the way the sun highlights the ridges.  i see the clouds casting shadows in the valleys.  i laugh when argyle leans into me to be rubbed like a big dog.  i practice tough love when i take the feed buckets away from jack and pancake.  i practice tolerance when the horses try to steal each others sweet feed.  i sit in awe listening to the creek at night in the cool mountain breeze.  i enjoy riding around the farm looking for baby cows and wild turkeys.  i do all of these things now with a true appreciation and it isn’t because i am a farmer or a country girl, but because i don’t want these experiences to pass me by again. 

living here in the country with a second chance: it’s a beautiful thing.

funny animals…

so a while ago we went to the farm to feed and took the camera and got some great pictures!

oh no I lost my ear!

oh no I lost my ear!

just kidding here it is!

just kidding here it is!

he is so funny and likes having his picture taken (as long as he gets treats in the process).

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I also found some pictures of when Bryson, kelli, and betsy came to see the baby horse (from back in june).

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this past weekend we went to Bristol to see friends and andy went to the race (with dad).  I am so tired (even after a nap) and am not ready to go back to work tomorrow….but next week is a short week and we have some wonderful plans (i think) for labor day so I am excited about that).

pancake is a jerk and other farm animals…

many weeks of events narrowed into one post:

pancake:  is a jerk.  he was let out into the barn yard (while i was at the beach) and he rolled in the dirt and acted like he was going to be good.  sometime that night he busted through the electric fence and got jack, the other donkey, and the horses and cows to inter mingle and go to places they shouldn’t have been.  so he is a bad influence.  so i was upset about that when i was informed that he was chasing the little calves.  it was feared that if he kept chasing them he would run them to death (it can really happen).  and my fear was that if it killed a calf pancake would be no longer…when i got back from the beach i found him (in the field with the cows and jack and the horses) and we had a talk about how bad he was.  he wasn’t to chase the calves any longer and he wasn’t to be mean.  he was to be a sweet donkey and stop running through the electric fence.  i am happy to report that he hasn’t been through anymore fences.  he has been good (as far as i know) and has been hanging out with jack.  he seems to like his friend and seems really happy in the field.  now when we go feed he will run to me (i am not delusional to think he is running to me….it is the sweet feed and treats that he loves).  when we are done feeding he will follow us back to the gate wanting more treats.  we can rub him and pat him now (he still gets a little skittish depending on if the horses are around) but for the most part he is getting used to us.  he had a cut on his neck (jack bites him and tackles him) so i had to get some purple spray to put on it.  i got the wrong kind because it makes noise coming out of the can…but we were both troopers and he didn’t kick me so it was all good.  even though he is kind of a jerk he really is cute and i love him.

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jack:  is old.  he has been around for a long time.  i think his official name is black jack but he has since faded and isn’t pure black anymore so i just call him jack.  he is so funny.  unlike pancake’s ears (that are always pointed straight up) jack will let his ears flop over and he looks sad all the time.  the first few times i would feed him he would just get a mouth full of food and would look at me.  now he sticks his head in the bucket and won’t move.  (it is funny seeing two donkeys trying to put their head in the same bucket – they don’t like it and act like they are going to fight it out).  we have witnessed jack nipping at pancakes legs and we have seen him tackle pancake.  we have seen him run and cut off a horse to get his sweet feed.  he will come to us and he will follow us when we go back to the gate.  unlike pancake who puts his head through the gate jack will but his head against the gate almost like he is bowing in prayer for one more.  and looks up like well…  jack is very relaxed (unless abbey is around) and you can rub him and pat him and put him in a head lock.  he is a sweet boy.

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abbey and flag: are horses.  we have started feeding the horses in the field because they make pancake and jack skittish.  they are demanding and want food yesterday.  we take an extra bucket so that they can have some sweet feed.  (i admit we try to sneak up to the field so we don’t have to worry about them being around while we feed).  they are both beautiful but they are a handful (especially when i am still not too trusting that pancake won’t kick me at some point).  abbey rules the field and all the other animals (cows included) will get out of her way.  flag isn’t as mean but is big and so i think he intimidates but is actually not as needy/demanding/bossy.  they really are sweet and if i wasn’t worried about getting kicked by them or the donkeys i wouldn’t mind them a bit.

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penny: is a horse full or surprises.  a while ago when i went to feed pancake i heard luigi making a fuss and pancake was making noise and i heard another noise that i didn’t know.  i walked around the corner and there stood penny with her baby (we call him argyle).  her owner didn’t know she was pregnant until a few days before she had the foal.  she refused to let me touch her and cornered me in the barn twice when i was feeding luigi.  she wouldn’t let the colt get close to me (she would snort and he would back up).  finally she ate some sweet feed and she is my new best friend.  as long as her head was in a bucket she would let us pet and brush her.  i was finally able to touch argyle by brushing her and moved on to him and he was ok (mostly).  we have made great progress.  penny body checked me and made me drop a bucket and almost fall on my face (never get in the way of a horse and her bucket).  argyle bit me (he is chewing a lot).  he will let us pet him and thinks he is 1. a dog (he leans into me when i rub him) and 2. a rodeo star (he will randomly run around bucking).  he is so funny to watch get bigger.  he is letting us pet him and pat him and will approach us when we call him.  i still am cautious about him kicking so i keep my hand on his back and make sure he never turns on me.  (andy laughed at me when argyle bit me…i got to laugh at him because argyle bit his leg hairs and pulled).  penny is a beautiful horse and her colt is so handsome.  we have great plans for him to win the kentucky derby….ok maybe not.

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luigi: is the proud papa.  he is still funny.  he tries to eat my camera when i take pictures of him.  we are able to brush him a little bit…but he really is only interested in flapping his lips and eating treats!

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blackie: is not my favorite.  dad went to check on pancake and blackie was in the hay loft.  blackie is a 18 foot black snake (ok maybe not 18 feet but when you are talking about snakes 2 feet might as well be 18 feet).  i seriously think he might be 5 foot but the next time i went to the barn i talked to the snake…i said please don’t ever show yourself while i am here.  i know that black snakes are good and i don’t want to kill him…but if he sneaks up on me or freaks me out i am not promising i wouldn’t throw my bucket at him.  we made a pack (at least on my end we did) that i wouldn’t hurt him as long as he stayed out of my way.  now when i go i make sure i turn on lights and that i look before entering.  blackie creeps me out.

we have had so much fun checking on and feeding the animals.  it has been an adventure trying to gain the trust of an animal that doesn’t really understand what is going on.  pancake was taken from the only family that he has known.  jack was thrown together with a crazy young ass.  penny had to trust that these strangers wouldn’t hurt her or the baby.  argyle had to learn that we wouldn’t hurt him or his mama (now if he would learn to not bite).  and blackie understands his hiding places is the difference in life and death.

with andy’s summer schedule i had to feed alone a lot of the time and it was hard work and sometimes scary.  “farming” is hard work but it is so rewarding when the animals walk up to you and put their muzzle in your hand after thinking that there would be no way they would ever warm up to you.

night farming: pancake summaries

thursday night

this past thursday night i went to feed pancake (andy had a meeting) so i went alone.  i went home and decided that since it was going to storm that otis might as well ride with me (because i didn’t want to give him a bath) so we went a little later at night (i waited around to see if andy would get out of his meeting so we could go together (but he didn’t so i went on).  when i got there, gene said he had opened the door to the barn and gated everything so that pancake could get out of the barn and have some green grass but that he wouldn’t come out of the barn.  i drove into the barn lot and parked with the windows down a little so that otis could smell the farm air and see me so if he heard thunder he wouldn’t flip out.  i got my bucket of sweet feed and his little bucket of treats and went to the stall door.  pancake was leaned as far out as he could with all four feet still in the stall.  i stood close enough to get his attention with the treats and sweet feed but he wouldn’t budge.  i finally let him get a taste of it and pulled the bucket away and he stepped up and out of the barn with his front legs.  i will admit that i smiled to myself a little smug smile and thought “this is easy i can get him out of the barn.”  i was wrong.  i called and coaxed and begged him and bribed him with fresh carrots and started to count to him like he was in trouble.  that is when i realized i needed to go home.  it was funny when i started to count his ears perked up and he tilted his head a little like “so what.”  i was about to pack it up when andy called and i told him to come out there if he wanted to.  i watched pancake and realized he wanted out of the barn he just couldn’t get past the water dish so i got in the stall and tried to move it…it was heavy so when andy got there he slid it out-of-the-way.  pancake tried to step up but kept getting his feet tangled up and would chicken out.  i decided that he is really clumsy.  he started getting frustrated and would go in his stall and walk to the end of it and come running back to the open door only to slam on brakes and blow snot at me.  he hasn’t brayed in a while but he flares his nostrils and blows snot when he is frustrated.  i let him smell his halter and was going to try to get it on him to bring him out of the barn and that is when he got really annoyed and started kicking.  he backed up to the wall and kicked.  he went to the other end of the stall and kicked and kicked one more time (i think the last time a bird tried to land on him – i would have kicked too).  andy got there and had similar luck like me.  we petted him and gave him his treats and took some photos of the sky and him and luigi (who is a HUGE mooch).  we left and i was sad because i couldn’t get my ass out of the barn….(sorry i had to).

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friday night (5/24/13)

after graduation we went to the farm to see pancake one more time before we left.  we stopped at the gate and said hey to gene and he told us pancake still wouldn’t come out and we would have to hang some pictures and he would be at home and that he was going to run him out of the stall saturday if he hadn’t come out.  we already saw the moon when we were leaving graduation and it was so pretty so we took the camera to get some pictures with the barn and moon.  i took a few and andy took a few.  i turned towards the barn and lo and behold pancake was out of his stall and standing in the barn’s breeze way.  he was looking at me and was thinking either “look at me” or “you are late where have you been and where is my treat.”  i was so excited that he was out of the barn even though he didn’t go too far from his stall door.  he would turn and run into his stall and come back out and eat more.  he kept tripping over the barn threshold.  clumsy donkey!  since it was so late we loved on him and luigi for a few minutes and took a few photos and went on home.  part of the reason i didn’t get to bed early like i wanted to.

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tuesday night (5/28/13)

we didn’t get by to see pancake monday night because by the time we got settled in it was just too late.  so we went tuesday night (and sad to say we didn’t get any photos).  when we pulled up pancake was in the barn lot munching on some green grass.  he was smelling something and i guess the wind blew it because he jumped straight off the ground and kicked his feet in the air.  he looked at us and walked to the middle of the driveway (that cuts through the lot) to greet us.  he stuck his muzzle out towards us and smelled for treats.  i was able to rub his nose and head a little bit and andy was too before we went to the barn to get his feed and treats.  we passed pancake and he ran up behind us and followed us all the way to the barn.  he kept speeding up and it made me a little nervous that he was behind us and our backs were to him.  we got his feed and treats and he was in heaven.  he let me rub his head and his neck and i was able to rub down to his shoulder.  andy was able to rub his head and his neck a little bit (but pancake has sort of gotten used to me so after andy’s summer trips he will be able to work with him more).  he tripped over a rock, a clump of dirt, his own feet.  he was so excited to get his treats.  when we got done loving on him i poured the rest of the feed into his trough and put his treats up and when we started going back to the car pancake followed us most of the way back (and then i guess he realized he wasn’t getting anything else from us so he went back to his food).  so we went to the farm and my ass followed me everywhere i went!  (sorry couldn’t help that either).  i realized when i got in the car that he doesn’t make me nervous walking behind me because i think he is going to stomp me or anything…but because he is so clumsy and i am scared that he is going to trip and take me out!

wednesday night (5/29/13)

andy had another meeting (starting to see a pattern yet?) so i had to venture and feed pancake alone.  i passed gene on the way to the farm (he was on the tractor) so i knew that he wouldn’t be there when i got there.  i went straight from work so that i didn’t have to get back out and didn’t take a change of clothes so i got out of the car in my dress clothes and a pair of fake crocs i bought on my lunch break.  i went through the gate and towards the barn looking for pancake.  he was no where.  i got all the way to the barn and didn’t see him.  i looked at the gate to the back lot and saw that it was WIDE open!  i got his sweet feed and treats and figured gene locking him in the stall.  i went around the corner to open the stall door and it was wide open too!  my heart sank!  i just knew that gene let him go into the field with the other animals and i would never get to pet him again!  i started for the back fields to try to get him to come to me when i heard a snort behind me.  i turned and looked and standing in the weeds was pancake!  he was in the hay-field on the other side of the fence.  i fed him and loved on him.  i called dad to see if he was ok in the hay-field but he didn’t answer – he looked happy so i left him in there.  i wanted to test my limits with him so i put his treat bucket down and walked a little ways away with his bucket of sweet feed and turned to see if he would come to me.  he looked at the treat bucket and looked at me and took one timid step for me and made a 90 degree turn straight for the treat bucket.  we got there in the same amount of time so no harm done.  i learned from my mistake and picked up both buckets and went back to where i was and he followed me!  it was wonderful.  i am able to pet his head, neck and down his shoulders on both sides and his back (between his shoulder blades).  when i was done i went back to the gate and he came with me.  when he realized i wasn’t going to give him anything else he took off through the field towards the cows and horses and black jack and brayed and brayed.  (in the middle of his full-out run he stopped to eat some grass).  when i go tonight (thursday) i wonder where he will be?!

i feel like progress is being made and i couldn’t be happier.  it has been an experience and i know that there is more to come!  i think that giving him space and letting him get comfortable and making the first move is the way to go (at least in this situation).  i can tell he has gotten more comfortable with me being around and isn’t as jumpy and that lets me know that our approach of being patient and not rushing him is working wonders.