Well, I’m not off to an amazing start on blogging this year, I’ll be honest, but I’m hoping to make up for my CRAZY January by blogging extra in February. You’re welcome.
January marks the beginning part of winter, and I have to say, I’m already over it. I LOVE winter. Winter is my jam! Technically fall is my favorite season, if I had to pick, but winter would probably be a close second. I love scarves and sweatshirts and boots. I love the rain. I love the gray skies if you can believe that. I studied in England for a stent after college and I LOVED that their summer was basically still foggy and wet and chilly a good part of the time. It didn’t bother me at all!
But there is something about this winter… I actually said it out loud to Thomas yesterday, “I’m ready for Spring!” I couldn’t believe my own ears! But it’s somehow true. And I haven’t even been in Tennessee much to actually experience the winter this year, but maybe it’s just a mix of the kids being sick constantly, and house bound constantly, and the dogs bringing in mud constantly… I’m just ready for a little change.
Can you relate?
This year started out the same way last year ended- illness. The flu is absolutely rampant around here this year. The first two days back to school in January were actually cancelled due to high instances of the flu. Every county from Nashville, south, were encouraged to stay home and stay well.
It didn’t work. All three of my kids had the flu in December. And although Gage was the only one confirmed to have the flu in January so far, Cadence has a fever for the 3947th time as I write this blog. It just seems to be never ending; A long stretch of cold days, strung together by kleenex and Ibuprofen. And don’t even get me started on the stress that this brings to my heart on the whole ‘truant’ issue (Read here to get the backstory). In December, Cadence missed an entire WEEK of school due to the flu, so every time she complains of ANYTHING, I not only have the stress of having a sick kid, but I have the stress of having a sick kid who may be sick on a weekday! #thestruggleisreal
Needless to say, I’ve decided to homeschool come the fall- more on that later.
So yes, there has been illness. And yes, that has been tiring. But don’t worry, Readers, there is a silver (or white rather) lining to this crazy winter so far… snow. Yes, we finally got snow. I was in Maui- yes, the irony is not lost on me- but the kids and dad got to experience this farm as a winter wonderland! Cay missed an entire week of school due to snow days, and although it didn’t stick around and it wasn’t much to begin with, it brought me so much joy even though I didn’t get to see it firsthand. The kids got bundled up and had snowball fights. They celebrated the days of canceled school by having a ‘sleep over’ in the living room on an air mattress in front of the heaters. They soaked it all up, and I’m not just talking about the mud.
Thomas is my hero.
I was in Maui, then Nevada, then California, traveling for work, and I was gone a total of 17 days. 17 days!!! That’s a long time, and it was more than I would have liked, but I know that I have been blessed with an amazing partner and he handled it like a champ. Between the extra days with extra kids at home, and the adventures on the farm, he more than kept up his end of this parenting deal.
And it got me thinking…
Two years ago this past July, Thomas retired from his job as a firefighter. But the story starts long before that. After we had our first baby (Cadence, who is 6 now!!), Thomas realized that if he never took one shift of overtime- which is not realistic for a fire fighter, especially in his department- by the time our daughter was 18 years old, he would have missed 6 complete YEARS of her life. 6 years! Now, that might not sound like anything you can avoid, even if it makes you sad to think about, but we knew differently. They say you only get 18 summers with your kids, and we just were not willing to give up any more TIME. We KNEW that if you want something different, you have to DO something different. So shortly after making this mathematical discovery, we decided as a family that we were going to change that story. We committed to working diligently on our business to build it to a place where we could at least have the CHOICE to make a different decision about how and where we spent our time.
Fast forward to 2015. Cadence was 4, Merit- our second child- was 2, and I was pregnant with our third son, Gage. We realized we were there. We had made it! We had built our business to a place where we had long surpassed both my AND Thomas’ income, and not only that, but we had sustained that for over a year. It was time. We made a choice.
I got to give my kids the very best gift I will ever give them… their dad. He’s always been a WAY better mom than I am. And although it was always such a blessing to be a work-from-home-mom, I knew that my kids deserved even more than that.
So yes, as we transition to this new life in Tennessee, there have been a few instances where I’ve chosen to travel back west to work in the field for a few weeks at a time, I know that it’s a SMALL price to pay. Thomas is a blessing to his kids. His presence offers such an amazing counter experience to my presence in the home. He knows things I don’t know, and he teaches and engages with them in ways I don’t. So although I’m sad to have missed the snow with the kids this first go round, I know that God had an amazing plan in mind when he gave that beautiful week to my husband.
I’m SO grateful that HE got to be there with them for that.
But having Thomas home, and now on the farm and in his element, doesn’t come without it’s challenges. He is flying so high with the joy of living out his dream here, that he doesn’t always think things through.
We already learned about how dear old Scout (our adopted Golden retriever- and 4th dog) came to live here on the farm. Thomas just has such a soft spot for these animals on Facebook, and I fear that we’ve wandered onto a very slippery slope. While I was away, Thomas found an add on Facebook requesting a temporary home for a pregnant cat. Yes, a pregnant cat. First off, let me start by saying, I don’t like cats. Actually, I hate cats and I already have two! One came with the farm and one was an impulse buy at Petco in an attempt to gain another farm cat (the ‘farm cat’ thing didn’t work out- she sleeps in the reading nook upstairs). Well, Thomas thought that it would be really special for the kids to see baby kittens be born. And although I don’t disagree, the whole thing just sounded so strange to me. Someone wanted their cat to have a temporary home while she had her babies? That just seemed so random! And although I asked Thomas to make sure that he worked out the details about who was getting the kittens and paying for any vet bills, we ended up with a cat who I’m fairly certain does not have anyone coming back to get her.
And she’s not even pregnant.
He fell for it again, and we now have 4 dogs and 3 cats. New cat has been named ‘Stormy’ by our official animal namer- Cadence.
And they ALL live in the house (except the one barn cat who is an actual barn cat). Lord, help me!
In farm specific news, the female turkey, who we thought was either missing or dead, showed back up. She’s fine! So we still have 3 male and 4 female turkeys! We are cranking out baby chickens as fast as we can and our barn brooder is working splendidly. We haven’t yet hatched a turkey, but we have some hopeful eggs in the incubator. Apparently male turkeys might not be firing ‘loaded’ guns for the first year, so we’ll just have to see if that’s true. But meanwhile, there are several ages of chickens and roosters out in the barn now. The youngest of which are only a few days old as of late. As they grow, they are slowly introduced into the general chicken population, and everything has been going smoothly there. Come spring, we plan to do a ‘rooster roundup’ and rent the ‘plucker’ again if you know what I mean (if you don’t know what I mean, catch up here).
Thomas has been working on a new pig pasture across the street from our house. The 84 acres is fenced for 5 pastures (and room for additional down the road), and we’ve only used two as of yet. One is a chicken yard that the pigs quickly figured their way into, and the other is meant to be for the pigs, but the chickens are in there equally as much. So across the street has been pretty dead. The pasture Thomas has been working on is down in a haller, with a load of tree cover. That means shade and shelter, and a TON of free food! We’re hoping to cut our feed budget (which is nill as it is, because the pigs are about 90% pasture raised) in half at least.
Well, as we’ve discovered through our experience with the great pig escapes, these fences have got to be secure! So Thomas has been working tirelessly to ensure that BEFORE the animals are in the pasture, they can’t get out. Here’s to hoping!
Yesterday, Thomas invited our friend, Jordan, over to help move the pigs from the pasture they’re in, to the one across the street. Of course I assumed that Thomas had a good plan for doing this, as he only felt he needed one friend, but as our biggest pig streaked across the front yard with Thomas chasing, hectically, behind, I quickly remembered that in all things, I should never assume.
After a few hours, Thomas invited me out to help. I came out to discover that they had two of the three pigs they intended to move, cornered in the barn, but loose. One of the three had made it across the street, but into the wrong pasture, and these last two were in need of our escort. He had a very wimpy fence set up, with a bucket of food attached to a dolly and the plan was to get the pigs out of the barn and into the fence trap. Then we’d encircle the pigs and they wouldn’t even notice because they’d be too entranced with the bucket of food.
This was a terrible plan.
As soon as I saw it, I asked why we didn’t just rent a $25 livestock trailer from town and load them into that and take them across the street? Thomas looked dumbstruck. I’m telling you, I’m not just some California girl here, I’ve got some real brains!
Thomas called the rental place only to discover it was closing right then. Well, you can’t say it wasn’t the best idea of the day. With no other options, we gave the wimpy fence trap a try, and as expected, the pigs plowed right through the fence and didn’t even notice the food.
After that, we gave one more hale mary attempt at just letting them free in hopes we could just chase them in the right direction, but we had spooked them so much that we couldn’t even get them to come out of the gate at all!
It’s not all bad news, the pig we lost in the wrong pasture, DID find his way into the right pasture. I’m not sure if that means there is a way in, and thus a way out of this pasture, or if a gate was open, but for the time being, the pigs are still winning at Shalom Farm.
And one final note on the pigs: Fern, our young mule foot hog, would appear to be pregnant! Now we don’t exactly have a hog pregnancy test to confirm a due date, but we are on the watch. Her nipples are huge and she is getting a pretty rotund belly. Oh, and she’s starving! She’s eating way more than normal, and hey, I can relate! I’ve been pregnant 3 times, and I’m going to venture to guess she has more than just one in there.
So stay tuned for that adventure.
In the meantime, we are weathering the continued cold and flu season, and making the most of our first winter on the farm. Everything is dead and gray, but again, there is still new life. It’s all about how you look at it, right?