Our population here at Shalom Farm has SORED to outrageous heights in only about six short weeks. We’ve hit the big 5-0 if you can believe that!

5 humans

3 dogs

2 cats

16 chickens

9 turkeys

12 guinea fowl

2 hogs

and 1 Turdy- although I haven’t seen him in a while…

50- animals, all!

Again, at one point, we were a touch higher on the population count, but those dang turkeys are just hard to keep alive!!! We got our second- replacement- shipment with 10 fully alive turkeys this time, so that was an upgrade from the first shipment. But we still managed to lose one by the end of the first day. No apparent reason for the death other than exhaustion and/or too much excitement. We lost another one the second day, which again, was a surprise this time as we had the medicated feed and water ready to roll. Everything was all lined up and ready to revive the heavily traveled turkeys! And then a day later, we lost the final little guy. He was the fastest dive of them all. Perfectly fine one minute, and taking his final breaths the next minute. SO STRANGE! Sadly, that final turkey died in Cadence’s hands. She picked him up to give him some love, because sometimes that really is all you need, but this time… it was just his time to go. And Cadence, for the first time, really experienced what it is to pass over. Although she didn’t cry, I could tell that it had really upset her. God knows it was not the first turkey we had lost, but there is just something very intimate about watching another living creature take it’s last breath on earth. It lingered in conversation for a few days after, always nearly bringing her to tears to discuss. Another one of those priceless lessons that only a farm can really teach you. She has lost loved ones before. She is still very sad to have lost my father- whom she didn’t know well- over a year ago, but it didn’t seem to carry the same sense of understanding as the loss of this poor little bird did.

“At least I got to say goodbye,” she keeps telling us. Yes, at least that, sweet girl.

Otherwise, everyone seems to be thriving here. As I’ve mentioned, the kids and Thomas are just on cloud nine all day, everyday. Right now, Cadence is building an obstacle course out of the fallen tree limbs from the tropical storm out of the gulf we caught the tail end of over the past few days. Other than the downed limbs, that were already dead anyway, our first tornado watch came and went without much excitement. Honestly, it wasn’t even much of a storm at all. There were a few bouts of the hellish rain, that we see frequently here, and yes, the wind did pick up from time to time, but it wasn’t even close to the worst storm we’ve had in the past six weeks. But yes, apparently the conditions existed for a tornado to develop.

Just to be clear, I am aware that a tornado watch and warning are two very different things- I hope you’re aware of that too, Readers. A watch is really nothing to get bent out of shape about. But it did get us talking about what the heck we should have down in our storm cellar just in case! Thomas was sure to tell me that the kids were first priority should we have to go down there, and THEN the dogs.

  1. Yes. Obviously.
  2. Dogs are kids.

Last we talked, Thomas was going to call his friend in solar and get some panels and some batteries working over on the shop, just in case we lose the electricity during a storm- which I think is probably pretty likely, given that we’re down there for fear of our house blowing away…

I’d LOVE some suggestions of what provisions to take and what to put down there, or have ready, in the event of an actual tornado. I know how to get in a door frame if there is an earthquake, but these tornado things are quite foreign to me. Any direction, Readers, is appreciated!

Lucy is officially fixed! No more skunk smell- or at least no NEW skunk smell. Despite MANY baths of ALL three dogs, there still is a lingering smell that we can’t quite get fully gone. The bottle of skunk shampoo says that the smell could linger for up to 2 YEARS!!! Damn you, Lucy! But now that she’s fixed, and settling in, she’s getting a little bit more comfortable and confident around here. She is Thomas’ shadow, following him around everywhere he goes, and careful to NOT chase the animals. That’s more than we can say for Harper, one of our Golden Retrievers…

In a scurry of activity one morning, Thomas approached the barn just in time to see two front paws and a black nose SLAM under the barn door. The guinea fowl were making all kinds of noise, and not a second later, they came pouring around the other side of the barn with a very eager Harper in tow. Thomas did finally call him off, but not before the new guineas had disappeared and completely shut up- which is remarkable, because they are known for their annoyingly constant calling.

After several house, the guineas were still missing, and I was still the only thing standing between Harper and his demise. Thomas and Harper have a love hate relationship to put it mildly. We have a joke that Harper thinks I’m his girlfriend, and Thomas is the competition. In front of me, Harper is always an angel to Thomas, but when they’re on their own, Harper hardly listens to a single command. I find it hilarious. And the older Harper gets, the more Thomas seems to love AND hate him. So this guinea situation… it was a thin ice gotten thinner kind of situation.

For hours, we didn’t hear a peep from the hiding guineas. They were either gone, or the best hiders ever. Thomas trampled through two of our wooded areas, knowing full well that he wouldn’t likely even see them in the underbrush even if he were standing right next to them. This was confirmed when we discovered them hiding in the garden, right in the yard, that we had walked past and looked in about a dozen times each.

Unfortunately, the guineas were attacked again this morning. Not by Harper, thankfully, but by a fox! And RIGHT in front of Thomas and the kids. Thomas could hear them getting quite upset in the woods, just behind the barn, and by the time he got a gun and headed out that direction, he saw three hens being chased by the fox into the chicken yard. The fox saw Thomas and ran away- were not sure how far- but we’ve only been able to recover 8 of the 12 guineas since the attack. We’ve found feathers, no bodies, but definitely not the missing birds. Stay tuned as we continue to investigate this deliberate attack, literally, in our backyard.

And speaking of Harper, he was in the vet yesterday as well. I can’t say that I saw my vet in Carson Valley as frequently, and I lived there for seven years. Harper was bitten by something on his eyebrow. We thought it could have even been a snake, because he had two small, bloody marks near his eye. Shortly there after, he was a touch swollen. Nothing crazy, and definitely nothing we were going to take him in for, but a few days later he started to lose his hair in patches on his head. And then, he started getting sick and acting very lethargic. At first, I didn’t connect the two events. I suspected he had contracted Mange- you know, like a mangey dog- which is caused by mites. And due to the outrageous amount of bugs of any and all sizes and shapes, I figured that wouldn’t be too unlikely.

The vet disagreed. He said that whatever bit him, more likely a fire ant than a snake, probably caused some kind of allergic reaction. Sometimes animal’s bodies go into different types of allergic and/or shock responses that may or may not seem related. In either case, Harper got some antibiotics, a shot to settle his stomach and was prescribed Benadryl to ease the itching and hair loss.

If it’s not one thing around here, it’s another.

Gage, the baby, is turning 19 months this week and is spouting off new words by the day. He’s so stimulated that he seems to have sped up his ability to take in and use the information he’s getting. He had his first visit with the pediatrician for his 18 month check up, and we love her. He is growing and healthy, praise God.

Berries are coming out of the garden by the bucket full. We can’t possibly eat them fast enough. Most of them are going into the freezer for shakes and storage, but a lot of them are being eaten right off the vines and bushes- most frequently by Gage. When you can’t find him, he’s likely wandered over with a container to collect berries off the plants. None of the berries actually make it into his container, but at least he can say he was being helpful if he has one.

Otherwise, we’re still just taking this whole thing one day at a time. There remains a steep learning curve here, one that seems to create a list of to do’s that’s much longer than the hours in the days or days in the weeks. We’ve got a leaking refrigerator, a broken dryer, a leaking roof, a breaker in the office that won’t turn back on. We’ve discovered live wires that were left uncapped- and nearly killed one of us- as well as three snakes- all harmless- whom we killed. We’ve learned that the local Deli, is more of a diner and gives me food poisoning. We’ve learned that Merit hates swim lessons, Gage loves the water, and Cadence is cautious but eager to please.

We’re still in search of ‘home’ and that includes primarily friends and church and activities- or rather time to get into activities. I’m getting eager to explore beyond the fences and start to see the rest of the state, but there is still so much to do here. We aren’t even FULLY unpacked and into every room, if you can believe that. In one moment, I’m feeling overwhelmed, and in another- usually in the evening with wine and a sunset- I’m feeling perfectly content and grateful.

It remains a rollercoaster. It remains a gift. It remains an adventure.

We’re just holding on, learning as fast as we can, and remembering in all things and in each moment, to thank the Lord for answering our prayers in the most amazing and least boring ways possible.

Until next time…

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