Monday, January 20, 2020

The Perfect Storm


Stress + Feeling Overwhelmed + That One More Thing = The Perfect Storm



Definitions:     

Stress – “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or
               very demanding circumstance.”
                         
Overwhelmed – “bury or drown beneath a huge mass, defeat completely, give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate.”
                        
 That One More Thing aka Fuel – “A material from which atomic energy can be liberated especially in a reactor.”
                         
 A Perfect Storm –“ An unusual combination of events or things that produce an unusually bad or powerful result.”

It wasn’t perfect, because Lord knows, I am not perfect, but it was the definition of my Perfect Storm.
I am not proud of it. I am ashamed, disappointed, saddened and very remorseful for my actions. It was not how I act normally. Not a loving response, not a patient response, not a Godly response, but total, atomic explosion with potential, catastrophic, devastating results.

I am sharing this to hopefully help others who are experiencing stress, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed or who also have had their share of Perfect Storms in hopes that somehow something good comes out of my experience. I believe there are a lot of us out there feeling this way and maybe if just one other person is helped by my sharing it is why I felt compelled to write this morning.

Stress, we all have it if we are still breathing and still on this earth. It is part of this crazy, wonderful life.  How we deal with it will make a difference how we live our lives.  I haven’t been doing really well in the area lately.

We have a farm. Just a small farm in the scale of mega farming these days, but still a farm. We still have the same concerns and stresses as a larger farm. We have animals to care for, land to take care of, finances to support the farm, expenses to run the farm and hopes that, somehow, we can maybe make this little farm something that will make some income or at least pay for itself. At this point, are a hobby farm. Is it why we started a farm? No, we started the farm because we both love animals, both love being outside, both love designing and working together.

We work off the farm. My farmer man works over 40 hours a week as Systems Engineer/IT Manager/Logistics Manager for a local company and he is the Fire Chief for our local volunteer fire department. Both of his jobs are high stress, putting out fires, figuratively as well as literally, and dealing with people daily, jobs. I have the Etsy store and am the Secretary/Treasurer for our local fire department. Both of my jobs are flexible and that makes it possible for me to work off the farm as well as take care of the farm.

We work on the farm. My farmer man aka “Manuel” is the manual labor….his joke not mine. He does all the really heavy stuff. The building designing and building, the fencing, you know, the infrastructure stuff of the farm. He helps with the monthly herd checks with the animals and any other time I need assistance. For the most part, I am the Farm Operations Manager. Big title, huh? It just means I take care of the day to day care of the farm and the farm animals. I have no employees to manage… maybe one day!  I just try to manage my time so I can take care of the animals, land/pasture, our garden and farm house. I make and sell items from our farm to help defray expenses.

Sounds perfect, huh?  Two people who love each other, working together toward a common goal, spending time together building a beautiful farm and beautiful life together. What could ever go wrong?

First, we are not perfect people. We are two imperfect people. Two selfish human beings who sometimes forget to put the other person first. We forget that we both have stress outside the farm. We both have ideas of how things should be done. We both have our own timelines of when and where we should do things. We both have our baggage from our past….past hurts and hang ups. We both have expectations.

This week, I let the stress of our crazy, wonderful life overwhelm me. The “One More Thing” was a comment made by my farmer man. It was not rude, it was not blaming, it was not anything, except a statement about something we needed to change about the daily farm routine. Let me explain….

My farmer man was helping me put the poultry up into their secure pens so we could leave to attend a fire department function. Something that is usually fairly easy for me to do by myself, but with all the rain lately and the flock not getting free range time daily, they are reluctant to go up before dark. I can’t blame them! They just want to roam around, eat bugs and lounge in the sun, but this day I needed them to go up so they would be safe and secure since we would not be back until after dark.

I was stressed. Stressed about the prepping for the function, stressed about getting it all done on time, stressed about getting all the farm chores done before we went so we wouldn’t have to come home at dark thirty and do chores, stressed about getting myself ready and presentable, stressed about many other things too….too stressed.

Then he made the comment, ok, I agree. Not a problem. In the meantime, five guineas decide they are not going up. Stupid birds. They can be so smart, so great at letting you know if there is an intruder or threat and then be so stupid that they fly into the backyard and spend two hours running up and down the fence, frantic because they cannot get back to their flock. Anyhow, five guineas, two of us and a time crunch….not a good thing. We continued working together, trying to get these frustrating birds herded into their pen….and he mentions the issue again….and I say, very rudely and sarcastically, "Yes, Dear". Not a proud moment. No excuse to speak to the man I love that way. He responded as I would have had he spoken to me that way.

It was the spark that ignited My Perfect Storm. I lost my temper. I lost my composure. I lost my grace and loving way I speak to the man I love. I lost me.

The hateful, hurtful words that came out of my mouth, directed to the most important man on this earth to me, I cannot repeat. Those types of words are not me. Not my heart, not my beliefs, not who I am. It hurts me so much that I said such hateful, hurtful words and I cannot take them back.

He did nothing wrong. He was just stating a fact. I allowed that to be an excuse to unload, explode, all the stress, hurt, anger and frustration I was feeling. It wasn’t his fault. It was mine. My fault for allowing the stress to build up, my fault for not asking for help, my fault for not accepting help when he offered it, my fault for not carefully and lovingly communicating my needs to him.

It was all my fault and I felt terrible. Terrible for the nasty, cutting, hurtful words I hurled at my husband as he stood there completely shocked, terrible that those kind of words would ever come out of my mouth, terrible that he would ever witness that kind of hate, meanness, and frustration from me, and terrible that, as a child of The One True King, I had allowed my issues become bigger than my God.

At that moment and every moment since then I have been sorry. Sorry I let, the stress of this crazy, wonderful life turn me away from my faith, my God and my core of who I am in Christ. The very things I usually turn to when I am stressed and feeling overwhelmed. I am sorry I ever spoke those words to the man who loves me more than anything in this world. I am so sorry.

I have asked for forgiveness from my heavenly Father. I have been a brat of a kid. I threw a temper tantrum because I thought my way was better. I thought I was in control. I thought I could handle it all.   I thought I had to do it all. Guess what? I do not know what is best, I do not have it all under control and I cannot handle it all…..none of us can….and we aren’t supposed to.

And you know what else, Our Heavenly Father forgives if we ask…and I know this in my heart, but my heart still hurts that I acted that way.  I am so ashamed. I was not acting like the child of The One True King. I do not deserve His forgiveness, but still He forgives.

It hurts, because when I asked my farmer man to forgive me, he said, “It is ok” and hugged me. He said we will get through this. WE.

It is not ok. It is not ok how I acted, it is not ok that I said such hateful words, it is not ok that you are willing to hug this terrible person who was so hateful to you just a short time before. It is not ok. I don’t deserve his forgiveness, but he freely gives it anyway.

I don’t EVER want the stress of this life to be an excuse for me to EVER act that way again….EVER.

I don’t know what stress you are under or what your circumstances are, but I felt lead to share this today.  We are not supposed to do this life alone. God wants us to come to Him with our stress and concerns BEFORE it becomes a huge issue. He wants us to talk with him daily about everything. The good, the bad and especially the ugly. He wants us to trust that He is in control and He has our best interest at heart.

I have not been talking (praying) with My Father on a regular basis. I have not been refueling my soul with worship (attending church or reading His word). I have not been reminding my heart of all I have to be grateful for (listing my blessings). I have not been speaking in love (sharing His love). I have not been doing what I know is right, what I know I need and it shows. That all stops today.

I know what, who, I need. The Father who knows our needs before we do. The Father who loves us more than anyone on this earth. I need to talk with Him daily. I need to refill my soul. I need to be thankful daily for the, oh so, many blessings I have been given. I need to share that love.

Today is a new day and the Lord gives us new mercies every day…even when we are the most unloving, hateful, ungrateful kid. Our Father still loves us and still wants us to come to Him. How awesome is that?

I am so blessed with a loving, patient husband. Sometimes we take those who love us most for granted…I think I have been. Not anymore. I realized just how blessed I am this week. I have a husband who still loves me…. hateful, sinful, hurtful, impatient, premenopausal, and emotional messy me. A husband who is willing to forgive, without hesitation, and is willing to “Do whatever we need to……We are in this together.” Besides God, my husband is the most important man in my life…..and I intend to make sure he knows that every day.

I pray that if you are struggling with any part of your own “Perfect Storm” that somehow my sharing this messy, ugly part of my life will encourage you. You are NOT alone. We all struggle with stress, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed. We have a Heavenly Father who wants to help us. Who wants us to know that we aren’t supposed to do this life alone. Reach out to Him. Reach out to a friend you can talk with. Reach out to a counselor, therapist or pastor and talk with them. There is help for each of us, but we have to be willing to take that, sometimes scary, step to get the help we need.

P.S. I asked my farmer man to read this before I posted. It is personal, honest and ugly, but it is me.  This is his beautiful response I found waiting on the computer when I returned from church.....

"Nicely written….I love you sexy, no matter what  <3" 

And THIS is why I feel so bad for my terrible attitude and actions. This is him, his heart, and how he loves and supports me. He's definitely a keeper. <3

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Praise, Poop and Prayer....Say What???

I was recently doing the routine, morning barn chores when this title hit me and I literally stopped shoveling alpaca poo and laughed.  God often has a really funny sense of humor!


I have been feeling lead to start writing to the blog more regularly lately and crazy titles have been popping into my head at the weirdest times.  So following the promptings, I am hoping to start a weekly post. Lord, you know my heart, you know my crazy schedule, but I want to follow Your leading so HELP! lol

Anyhow, let me explain how this title came about.

Most mornings, after having spent some time with my farmer man with coffee and conversation as he prepares for his daily trek to the office for his "real" job, I get busy taking care of the menagerie of animals we now have on the farm.

First, I take care of the guinea pig, "Scooter" because he is inside and quite demanding about being served first. Then it is on to any animals we may have inside at that time.  This time of the year, we are hatching so it could mean checking the incubators or hatcher, turning eggs or making sure the newly hatched guinea keets or chicks have clean water, plenty of food and clean bedding.

Then it is time to head outside!

A stop by the call duck pen to chat with "Sam", "Bogey" and "Bacall" change out their pool if needed and make sure they have plenty of food.

The Jubilee chickens are next of the list.  We currently have three new chicks!  Again they are checked to make sure they have clean water and plenty of food too.

Time to head "down the hill" to the coops, barn and the pond.

First things first, I turn the lights on in the barn and stalls and turn on the radio.  I love listening to praise music while I work so our radio is set to 88.3 WAFJ, a local Christian radio station. I also believe that music is beneficial to the animals as well, so why not make it praise music!

Right now, we are still bottle feeding our rescued llama cria, "Lleia", so she is fed first, then I greet the sheep boys, "Paddy", "Olaf", "Luigi" and "Tater".  They are very vocal about expressing how hungry they are!  When "Lleia" is finished with her bottle, I get all the sheep and the alpaca's food together.  The "alpaca posse" meet me at the gate and I great each of the boys by name. There is "Patrick", "Primo", "Krusher" and "Socks".  They are fed and the noisy sheepy boys are next.  "Paddy" is fed in the alpaca stall because he is slow to eat and the other three boys are fed in the sheep stall.  Meantime, our wonderful livestock guardians, "Hoss" and "Mishka" are patiently waiting for a special treat of a dog bone and "Lleia" is offered her own pellets outside the stalls where she can nibble on the new food as she wishes.

While everyone is happily munching away, I wash out buckets, refill with water, refill hay holders, etc.  Once everyone is finished with the morning munchies, they are allow supervised time together.  You see, "Lleia" is a llama, a girl llama and my alpaca are boys....and two are intact so since "Lleia" is still young we can allow her time with the boys so she learns to behave like a camelid, BUT only supervised time together.  We don't want the boys hurting her or trying to breed with her.



So, now everyone is out and about, milling around, grazing.  This gives me time to feed the ducks and geese who are at the pond that morning and sip on some coffee before starting the morning clean up.

With alpaca, they use a community bathroom so you can easily scoop up their poo. You ask why would you want to scoop up their poo? Well, the more poo you remove from the stalls, walk ways and pastures the more parasites you remove that could cause your animals to become sick, so we scoop poo!

The funny this is, it is during this time, poop scooping time, that I often find myself singing along with the radio or praying as someone or something pops in my head. It is a quiet time for me.  It is a peaceful time for me. It is praise, poop and prayer time for me!

The Bible says "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17.

I fully believe that no matter what job you are doing...whether it be raising your children, climbing the corporate ladder, taking care of aging and elderly parents, flipping burgers or even scooping poo, we are to do it to the very best of our ability and we are to do it with thanksgiving.


Wait...thanksgiving for scooping poo?? Why yes!

You see, a little over three years ago, I had a major back surgery. I had a titanium disc and three screws placed in my spine due to an injury...a fall in the barn.  Three years ago I could not scoop poo.  Three years ago I could not take care of the animals or even myself. I could not even shower by myself! It took over a year before I was considered healed. Then I had to rebuild all the muscle I had lost from four months of not being about to do much more than lie on the couch in pain and then three months of no lifting, no bending and no twisting after the surgery. It was a long, hard, very humbling process that took over 18 months.

So now, I am SO grateful that I am healed. So grateful that I am able to tend to the animals, take care of myself, take care of the farm and take care of my farmer man....who took such good care of me and the animals and farm when I could not.  I have SO very much to be thankful for.

Since the surgery and my complete healing, we have added quite a few animals to the farm. In fact, in almost exactly one year, we went from no pasture animals, no pasture and no guardians to four sheep, one llama cria, two livestock guardians and four alpaca, barn stalls....and a lot of pasture fence....with more fence to go!

When I spend my mornings down at the barn, whether it be working on taking care of the animals or just spending time with them, I am reminded how important each of our jobs are and how blessed I am to be physically able to work with them and enjoy them.

I pray that you take a moment to really count your blessings. I mean it...count them! Make a list of the things you are grateful for.  We are all so very blessed, but often with all the "poo" of life, we lose our focus. We focus on the "poo" that happens to us and we focus on the "poo" that we cannot control. We focus on the "poo" and lose sight of the bigger picture.

You know the saying, "Into each life a little rain must fall" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?  Well, in the farm life it goes more like "Into each life a little poo must fall"! The difference is what you do with that poo.  You can wallow in it...ewww, you can step in it.....ewwww,  you can ignore it....if you want flies or you can remove it. 

And you know what, poo is a good thing!  Wait what? 

You see, if you take that poo and you compost it with some other stuff, it makes the most wonderful thing you can add to your garden!

So, as life hands you poo, and it will......don't wallow in it, don't step in it, don't ignore it, use it! Use it to make something wonderful and new. Learn from it and grow!


"When Life Hands You Poo, Make Compost!" I think I just found the saying for our next farm shirts!

I hope this encourages someone today. I pray that no matter what "poo" you are dealing with, you look beyond the poo and see the compost. <3

P.S. After all the pasture animals are tended to, then comes the chickens, guineas, turkey and finally the rabbits. Didn't want anyone thinking I forgot them!

Now off to tend to the animals!  Have a blessed day!


Monday, November 5, 2018

My Visit to the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, A New Addition and A Little Grace...

I am so thrilled to have add the opportunity to attend the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF) in Fletcher, NC.  It was so fun and educational!

I had the opportunity to take some classes in spinning, needle felting and traditional wool preparation.  The spinning class was SO helpful!  I cannot wait to have time to sit at my wheel and work on improving my technique. The needle felting is so easy and you can complete a small project in just a few hours. I am looking forward to trying my hand at making some more artsy items with needle felting. The traditional wool preparation class exposed me to many different types of fleeces, hand carding, fiber washing, and more.  It will help this next Spring when we shear our own sheep!

I brought home an unexpected purchase!  Introducing Glory to God's Idaho Pine.



This little guy is a beautiful addition to our all boy's gang.  He is only 4 months old and already a beautiful, friendly little man.  We will be keeping him intact, as long as he remains a gentle boy!, so our friends at Dragonwool Acres can use him for breeding this next Spring. I can't wait to see how all the boys fleeces are in the Springtime!

Even with all the fun learning, the excitement of a new addition and a absolutely wonderful weekend away with two friends, I have to admit the highlight of the whole weekend was the awesome gift of Grace I was blessed to witness.

When I was walking around talking with other Jacob sheep owners, a little boy, probably eight or nine walked up with the cutest, little Jacob ewe lamb on a lead rope.  "You can pet my sheep" he says to me, so of course I had to bend down and pet this beautiful little lamb.  The little guy was just beaming from ear to ear.  He soon trotted off and was offering for the next person he saw to pet his sheep.

I began speaking with another Jacob Owner and we were talking about ram lambs I noticed a little girl taking selfies with the sheep.  It was adorable!  As she went around to the other side of the pens I noticed the little guy with the ewe lamb was talking with her.  I watched as he went into the pen and brought his little lamb out once again and says, "You can take a picture of my sheep!"  I grinned from ear to ear. This little guy was so very proud of this little lamb and so eager to share her with anyone and everyone who would listen.  I watched as they put the little lamb between them and started taking pictures.

I mentioned to the person I was speaking with how adorable that was and they said, "Yeah, he has been through a lot" and went on to explain.

You see this little round, freckled faced boy, think Opie Taylor, had just gotten out of foster care.  He was currently staying with his Aunt.  His father had been caught with heroin a year before....actually on that very day one year before.  The little guy had been home when this all went down and he had been taken into foster care.

He is being cared for and loved at his Aunt house who also happens to be a sheep owner.  He had stated to his Aunt he really wanted a sheep of his own and she had shared that with some of the others there.  The only problem was, there really weren't many ewe lambs available for sale and they just could not take a ram lamb home because of the full grown rams they already had on their farm.

That did not deter this little guy from having the best time at the fair.  He ran around offering to help with animals, help with their food, help with hay or straw or just help in any way he could.  He was having a great time.

One of the other sheep owners saw how he was so excited about the whole weekend and they had spoken with the Aunt and knew his story so they knew they had to do something for this smart, bright, helpful little fellow.

They told him he could show one of their ewe lambs!  He was SO excited.  He marched that little lamb right into the ring and did an awesome job.  They did so well he came out with a fourth place ribbon!  He walked up to the lamb's owner and said, "Here this is your ribbon!"  The owner said, "No honey, you showed that lamb, that is YOUR ribbon".  He was so excited!

Then, he got the biggest surprise ....the lamb owner said, "and that is your lamb."  His eyes lit up and he said "Really?" "Yes" was the reply from the lambs owners and his Aunt was standing there as he got the news...( the owner had asked before she just gave it to him)... so he turns to his Aunt and asks, "Can I keep her?" His Aunt nods her head.

This little guy had just been given a gift of a ewe lamb that the owner had just bought for herself.  Now he was walking around showing off HIS lamb to anyone who would listen.

Folks, this was such a beautiful example of grace.

I stood there and the lambs, now previous owner, and I are in tears as she tells me the story.  These amazing people saw a little boy who had been through so very much in this past year and did the one thing that they saw that would bring him joy.  They gave away a little ewe lamb to a little boy who just needed something to call his own and something for him to take care of and love.

My heart just overflowed with love and total appreciation for these awesome people who were so generous to a little boy that needed a little hope and love....they showed him grace.

It really made me think.  How many times could I have done something to show someone else a little grace? How many opportunities have I missed to show another person grace? How can I share the love of God and show grace to my fellow man?

We all have things in our past, we all go through things, and we all need a little grace.  We are all in this thing called life together and if we can do anything to lift up one another why wouldn't we?

I want to thank these awesome people for being such great, loving grace-filled people. We could all use a little more grace so let's share some grace with those around us today.

I know every time I think of that little boys face just beaming with pride when he asked, "Do you want to pet my sheep?" it will remind me that just a little grace may make all the difference for someone.....Will you share a little grace today?


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Perspective...

A very dear, sweet, young lady I know is one of the most brilliant artists I have the privilege of calling a neighbor and a friend.  She is wise beyond her years.

Here is a quote and photo from a recent Facebook post:

"Yesterday evening in the garden...the garden that is thigh high in grass and weeds. It sways in the breeze and hums loudly with insects. When you walk through, you hear field rats scurrying to get away 😂 The tomato plants have grown so tall they've leaned over and created a canopy. Seedy grasses, fragrant herbs and bright pops of color draw in all sorts of birds and pollinators. It's a glorious little patch of wildness. I'm just going withn it." Rebecca Joye @ Joy Haven Farm



https://scontent.fphl2-3.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-0/p206x206/39398630_10217764786533928_3995390969166954496_n.jpg?_nc_cat=111&oh=5414eb29000e2af099596e5f0e82c0db&oe=5C607FB0  
Photo Credit - Rebecca Joye @ Joy Haven Farms 

Her post is all about perspective and it got me thinking.

Lately, things have been kinda crazy here around the farm....well, more crazy than normal even for us!  It seems like every time we turn around there is another unexpected expense that has to to be taken care of immediately.

You see, we used our Lowe's care and our Tractor Supply credit cards to purchase all the items we needed to install the much needed pasture fence, stalls, etc. that our sheep boys and our Great Pyrenees pups needed to move them out of the backyard.  We used them wisely and were able to obtain zero percent interest for long period of time so we won't have to pay anything extra in interest...BUT, my farmer man and I hate to be in debt...even with zero percent interest. 

We have been very diligent about paying both of these debts down just as quickly as possible, but it seems like since we have occurred this debt everything else now needs to be repaired, replaced or medical attention!  All three vehicles need some kind of repair, the refrigerator decided to quit working and Paddy needed some veterinary care for corneal ulcers...just to name a few of the things that need or needed immediate attention.

It could be very easy to focus of all the things that are going wrong and lose sight of all the good things that happen every single day. It is all about Perspective.

I was washing dishes yesterday morning, before taking our sweet neighbor for a surgical procedure, when I noticed a pair of our Eastern Phoebes, also known as Fly Catchers, out in the garden.  It made me stop and think.  These two, a mated pair, usually have two to three nests each year and raise about 5 per clutch. That is sometimes 15 babies in one season! These two do not worry about where they will live, what they will eat and how they will raise their young. They just do what God made them to do. It reminded me of the verse in Matthew 6:25-34...

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these..."

As I was putting the half and half creamer back into the cooler on the porch and not back in the warm refrigerator I literally stopped.  How can I be so frustrated about an inconvenience like a refrigerator not working with I have so very much else to be so grateful for.  I was ashamed.

You see, last week, much of the panhandle of Florida and Southern Georgia was devastated by Hurricane Michael. Many families have lost everything. Their homes, their jobs, and some even lost family members. They have nothing,. No where to call home, no job to help them rebuild and many are living in their cars.  If they are "lucky" they have family or friends that they can stay with. I cannot begin imagine the multitude of destruction those areas are enduring and will continue to deal with for many months to come.

Many of those affected the hurricane would thankful have a home, electricity, running water, a job to go to and yes, even a non working refrigerator.

It just humbled me to think about all we are so very blessed with that we too often take for granted...until it is gone.

Our refrigerator is now humming away this morning and all the coolers are empty on the porch. It was a minor inconvenience for a very short period of time, but it was also a lesson for me.  A lesson in perspective.

Do we still have the debts to pay? Yes
Do we still have three different vehicles that need work? Yes
Do we still have animals that need medical attention? Yes

BUT...

We are blessed to have good jobs and income to pay those debts in a timely manner,
We are blessed to have three vehicles that are paid for and will be repaired soon,
We are blessed to have some pretty awesome animals who give us such joy and an awesome veterinarian who is helping our Paddy boy's eyes heal....

We have so much more than just this to be thankful for!

I hope that you will join me in making a conscious choice every day to change our perspective.  Let's look for the good each day, the blessings, the positive and not focus on the negative. Let's change our perspective.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Ramblings from the Homestead and We Need Each Other Ladies!

It has been WAY too long since I have posted to this blog! Too often we let life and all the happenings get in the way of things we enjoy or are therapeutic....I am going to try and fix that, at least for myself!  Writing is very therapeutic for me so I am going to try to make it priority once again.  I hope there will be some posts that you find helpful, funny, or just make you nod your head in agreement.

Lately, I have been totally overwhelmed. Yep, I am going to keep this real folks!  Too many times we all post all the puppies and rainbows on our blogs or Facebook pages and goodness knows, we are all dealing with something, so why not be real. Share our triumphs, our good times, our happy occasions, but also share the troubles, trials and failures too. It is too easy to look at social media and compare our upside down, chaotic lives with all the fluffy, unicorn sprinkle posts and feel even worse about our lives. So that being said, I will be posting what is really going on here at the farm...the good, the bad and the ugly.

I recently have been so busy trying to do it all.  Keep the house, take care of all the animals, tend to the garden, help my farmer man with putting up pasture fence, run the errands, etc. and I found myself feeling very alone.  That has gotten me thinking....I know, uh oh.

We have chosen this homestead life and I am grateful that we have the freedom to make that choice. Most days I love working on the farm!  I love spending time with each of our animals and learning about them. I love working in the garden and seeing our work grow into fresh fruits and veggies. I love mowing grass and making our place look nice and neat. I love working side by side with my farmer man.

But....

Some days I miss seeing other people. I need people.  The sheep are awesome listeners, but they lack valuable input.

It got me thinking about when the settlers were spreading out across this great land.  How lonely those women must have been!  There often wasn't another homestead for miles and miles.  Travel was difficult and so much hard, back breaking work had to be completed daily just to survive.  If they were lucky, there was town within a few hours buggy ride and they got to go "into town" once a month or so.

So how is it with modern conveniences like cars, phones, internet, social media, etc. can we be feeling isolated and disconnected?  I think some of these "conveniences" are the problem..  We used to talk to each other.  Phone calls were a regular thing. We used to go visit more. Weekends were for visiting family and friends.  Friends would come by and "sit a spell" in the evenings of summer. Neighbors actually knew each other, chatted often and visited frequently.

Instead, we are "satisfied" with a quick message on messenger or text. We check Facebook to see what our friends and family are doing and learn more from social media than we do from the real people behind the keyboard. It has become to easy to disconnect...and I think relationships and the art of conversation are suffering. I watched a piece about how employers are disappointed in this generation because when they do interviews the applicant does not look them in the eye.  We are loosing the art of conversation without an electronic device between us.

I try to get away from the farm at least once a week.  Usually it is to run errands and get feed and groceries, but I also try to meet up with my best friend for some girl time.  I.NEED.GIRL.TIME!  I realize that I need to sit and spend sometime with a female friend.  I need that interaction.  When I do not take that time I, and everyone I love suffers for it.

Ladies, we NEED each other!  We need to spend time with each other....actual time, face to face.  We need that security with that special friend that you can be open and honest with and be free of judgment.  We need that interaction with a female friend that can understand how we think and just listen.  We NEED each other.

I have found those weeks when I am just "too busy" to take time to meet up with a friend and just catch up, I struggle.  I struggle with all the things I "think" I have to get done that week, I struggle with my relationship with my farmer man, I struggle with my own thoughts and I struggle feeling overwhelmed in general.

I can also admit that when we homeschooled it was jut as difficult if not more so.  Trying to do everything you can to ensure your child(ren) have the best education, learn what they need to learn, etc. on top of all the homesteading stresses can be very overwhelming.

So, what is the answer?

For me, when we homeschooled, it was co-op classes.  Yes, it was more work, and time away from the homestead, BUT it was a much needed break in the daily routine for my son and I both.  We have very fond memories and forged lasting friendships because of those co-op classes.  So I encourage anyone who is homeschooling their children, find a support group.  Find a local group of fellow homeschoolers and jump in!  The relationships you could make will change how you homeschool, how you feel on a daily basis and give you a network of like minded people that will be so valuable.

Now that I am retired from homeschooling it is actually a little more difficult for me to make plans to be away from the farm.  When homeschooling, you do what is best for your child(ren).  I need to remember that I am in the phase of my life that it is my turn. I CAN make choices to do what is best for me and not feel like I have to justify why I am not working at the farm. Putting my mental health as one of my priorities is ok!

I am pledging today, to make it a point, at least once a week, get off the farm and go visit with a female friend or invite a female friend over for a visit.  It doesn't have to be a half a day or all day thing.  Just an hour or so, but at least once a week.

Don't worry about inviting a friend over and your home being spotless.  Be real!  Your home being spotless is not what matters.....  I am preaching to myself big time with this one.  What matters is continuing to cherish friendships, grow new friendships and just be supportive of each other.

If you are working in the garden and have a friend who doesn't mind helping harvest or pull weeds, invite her over!  If you are preserving your harvest and have a friend who wants to learn or would just be good company while you work, invite her over!  If you have a new recipe you want to try, ask her if she minds being a guinea pig and invite her over!  If you have to run errands and just want a ride along, invite her along!  If you know of a new mother, offer to watch her child so she can take a peaceful shower while you get to snuggle that new baby and visit afterwards!  If you have a friend who works off the farm, offer to meet her for lunch!

She might just be feeling the same way you are and be wishing someone would invite her for a visit and be in need of a break as well. Remember....to have a friend you have to be a friend.

I challenge each one of you ladies, let me rephrase that, I give you each permission and encouragement, to make your friendships a priority.  Make your mental health a priority. Make YOU a priority.  You matter.  You make a difference everyday in the lives of those you love so why not be the best you you can be. It is not selfish to take time for yourself.  You are important and you are loved! <3

Monday, November 28, 2016

We are Growing The Old Five Notch Farm!

We are so excited to start working on the next step of our five year plan to expand and diversify our little farm.

First on the plan is to build a new chicken/guinea/turkey coop! 

We recently purchased 10 beautiful new Golden Laced Wyandotte pullets/hens to add to our flock and we need to add some coop space to accommodate them as well as give the new guineas we bought this Spring a little more room to roost too. 
A couple of the new ladies enjoying a treat of scratch grains, black oil sunflower seeds, fresh oregano, rosemary, lemon balm, and mind herbs, some pumpkin seeds, mealworms and marigold blossoms.

Meet Ms. Itty Bitty!  She is a little spitfire.  She is almost round in shape and smaller than the other hens, but don't let that fool you!
The new ladies have been in quarantine for the past four weeks and have not shown any issues or illnesses.  They can now be moved to the new coop and run....well, once we finish it!

First we had to deconstruct the turkey pavilion we had built.  When we built it, it was perfect for the turkeys! Open and airy in the hot summer with the addition of nice box fan and a misting system and during the colder months we would enclose it on three sides to block the wind and provide a warm, straw filled shelter for the turkeys.

We decided to raise the top of the pen back in April and in doing so the turkey pavilion was going to be hard to enclose for the winter months.  We added 10 new guinea keets and now 11 new hens, 10 from some sweet folks we met and one hen we hatched here on the farm, so we needed more coop space. So....time to build a new coop with accommodations for the big birds too!

We had to make a trip Lowe's for the lumber so we could start the rebuilding! So thankful for the 5% discount when you use your Lowe's card. The trick is paying it off when the bill comes due so you don't pay any interest. If you pay interest over several months you have just lost your 5% discount and possible even more.



Just part of the materials needed for the new coop!
Deconstruction....


I didn't get a photo before my farmer man had the roof off, the rafters are to the right of the photo, and floor had been removed.  He works fast!

 Bless his heart....he continued working even though he started with a bad sinus infection and upper respiratory mess on Friday evening. He took the week of Thanksgiving off so we worked half days because it was just so hard for him to even function.

My Sweet Farmer Man squaring up the floor under the supervision of "Rei"...one of rescued kittens.

We have the framework for the foundation!

Floor joists going in!

Front wall and first wall going up!

We were taking a break to go eat some lunch and our rescue turkey "Timmy", who is very shy, wasn't shy about checking out the new turkey house!
So what do you think "Timmy"?
Back wall with nest box holes going up!

Front wall, back wall and floor are in!

Our little supervisor, "Rei" telling us he is watching from above.
"Baby Girl" aka Inspector 12....checking out our work!

We had to take break and run to town and pick up some more lumber and another new addition to the farm....

Two hundred and twenty four little Murray Cypress Trees!


We picked up our order of Murray Cypress trees from the South Carolina Forestry Commision Taylors Nursery while we were out.  These little trees are another step in our five year plan.  We will be planting them in two, staggered rows across the front of our property, where we had cleared, to serve as a natural wind break, natural fence line and natural privacy fence. We encourage everyone to check out the South Carolina Forestry Taylors Nursery to see what trees are available.  They ship trees as well as allow pick up at the nursery.  If you do not live in South Carolina is encourage you to do a search for a nursery run by your state's forestry commission.  You can purchase beautiful, healthy trees for a great price!

These Murray Cypress are similar to the Leyland Cypress, but are more disease resistant, and grow even faster than the Leylands.  Given the right amount of fertilizer and adequate water, these little trees can grow four feet a year!

Once these little trees are about 8-12 feet tall we will be moving on to the next step in our five year plan....removing the old Virginia pines and cedars from the front of the property in preparation of the next step!  We want to wait until the trees provide a break before we take out anymore trees so we want them to grow as quickly as possible.  We will be installing an irrigation system to help us provide the needed water for these trees.

We continued to work on the coop this past week, taking a break on Saturday to enjoy a nice day with family celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday and the many blessings we have.  We love sharing our little farm with our family and friends!





 I will post another update as we continue to work the coop and pen.  We are hoping to finish it up by this weekend so we can move the new girls into the new coop and pen for a soft introduction to the rest of the flock.

Stay tuned as we check off our list on our five year plan!