Wednesday, September 30, 2015

::summer 2015::

We had such a wonderful summer this year.

 We started a pumpkin patch.
 We took out goat back and forth to a vet school in Illinois and she got her cast off with no residual issues.


We ate lots of wild berries.

Max and Josh made a rocket and fired it off.  Then picked it out of a tree.
We got three new kittens that have been hours of entertainment for the kids.  They are names Broccoli, Scrubs, and Jack Sparrow.  A few weeks latter the little grey and white one found its way here and got named Peter Pan.   
 Lily did an art camp and made the best teapot.  Its amazing.

 County fair was amazing!  All the animals did well.
Emma won Grand Champion pygmy wether with Bo.
Lily won reserve Grand Champion do with Marshmallow – a home grown baby girl

Lily won Champion All Other Breeds with her little Babydoll Southdown Ewe, Bernadette.


We learned that Q has three front teeth on top instead of two.  This should lead to some pretty fun dentist bills in the future but just adds to his serious cuteness. 


I took five chickens to the butcher and the three turkeys are going soon. 
The garden didn’t have its best year.  It started VERY strong, but late blight killed off most of my tomatoes.  I have a plan on how to deal with them next year, so I learned from it.


We got to sneak out on a Schaefer family cabin trip to Kentucky.  The whole crew had a good time. 

 Lily had too much fun decorating her locker for sixth grade.  
Disco ball included. 

 Max started second grade and Lily sixth.  

For her birthday this year Lily wanted to take her girl friend to get nails painted and then watch shows at our house.  I was the trusty driver.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

::I tolerate goats::

"I tolerate goats" - a shirt one of the dads at fair was wearing

I love fair so much - SO MUCH.  Seriously, if my husband had one tenth the interest that I do, we would have about four kinds of goats, ducks, sheep, and cattle.  But he doesn't - at all.  As a matter of fact I think it would be fair to say that he is the Grinch of fair.  He hates the time it takes.  He hates the money it takes.  He hates the year round care of the animals.  He hates the last minute rush to finish projects.  I would say we are very blessed to have a marriage that is so compatible in so many ways, but when it comes to fair we have a real divide.  When we have conflict in other parts of our relationship we both give a little to find a compromise.  When it comes to raising animals I think we can safely say that Josh gives a lot.  He allows all these time wasting creatures because...  Well - I don't know exactly why he does it besides to humor me.  Every year when fair roles around he is grumpy and feels neglected.  In all fairness (pun not intended), he is neglected.  But it is FAIR, and fair is magical.  I just can't explain it to someone that didn't grow up doing fair.  There is something fundamentally pure and youthful about 4H.  I have so many great memories about fair as a kid and I want my kids to have the same kind of experiences.  

If I am being totally honest I think we can say that my girls primarily do 4H because they where not really given an option.  Emma was different because she kind of had a two-mom's experience.  Her mother did 4H and did the indoor projects (sewing, foods, etc.), I knew I wanted the girls to do animal projects and encouraged Emma to explore that.  between her mother and myself we always agreed with each other that we wanted Emma to do 4H.  She started with rabbits and did very well, but we knew we wanted something larger.  She moved to goats, where we sucked for several years before we figured it out.  Her mother and I have happily shared the work of Emma's 4H experience and I think it has gone really well.  Emma has one more year and I hope she feels like she doesn't have any regrets.  I have tried to always buy her the best animals that I could afford.  Looking back I made some mistakes with her, I was learning right along with her and I didn't let her have enough control.  I picked her animals for her, I pick their feed and how much, I figure medical care, and I used to do almost all the grooming.  I should have made her learn it all along with me to help her understand her animals better.

When Lily started 4H a few years ago we knew a great deal about Pygmy goats and a little bit about Dairy goats.  I loved watching all the great little sheep and I encouraged her to take on that project as well.  Lily knows more about her animals at her age than Emma did, but in all fairness Lily gets stuck taking care of them more than Emma because Lily lives her all the time.  Lily does like her animals and will go out to do her chores when she is told, but you would never find her training her goats to show with out being reminded.  She just sees them as fun toys, which they are - but she doesn't have a ton of drive to learn animal management or husbandry.  Lily, like her older sister, has a ton of talents and interests, livestock just is not one of them.  

Let me clarify, it's ok with me that the girls don't live and die for this stuff.  All I did from the age of 10-24 was show horses.  Nothing else, and I don't feel like that left me very well rounded.  I want the girls to explore a variety of activities to find out what they love on their own.  I feel like the small herd of goats and 1-2 sheep that I keep gives us the the chance to have some fun together with out things getting to crazy.  Josh's lack of interest really keeps me pretty inline which in turn leads to me not pushing the girls so far that they want to quit.  Its all a symbiotic relationship that somehow equals a really good balance. (I think - Josh may disagree with that.)  If you asked the girls what they like about summer I think both of them would have fair on their list.  They both love to compete and they both understand the joyful magic of fair.      

With all that said, whats on the agenda for next year?
Emma - this will be her last year.  She has discussed doing a new indoor project, which I hope she does.  She will have her two pygmy wethers to show and her Nubian doe.  I wish I could afford to buy her something really special for her last year but the expense would be extreme and may be more than I can ask of her father.
Lily - She will have her babydoll lamb to show as a yearling then I hope to trade it back to its breeder for another lamb for the next season.  Eventually I would like to breed these little guys as a hobby but through much debate Josh has made me promise to put that on the back burner till I graduate and get established in my new job.  Lily will have her pygmy doe that we all love and then her Nubian doe.  

Loose agenda for 2017
Max's first year and the first year we will have bred the Nubian does.  
Max - Emma's old Nubian and any babies that Nubian has, one of Emma's old pygmy wethers, and one babydoll lamb (maybe, I might make him wait a year on sheep)
Lillian - Her Nubian and it's babies, the other one of Emma's old pygmy wethers, Lily's pygmy doe, and one babydoll lamb

ps- I would rather that Josh embrace the magic of Disney than the magic of fair.  Just for the record.   

Sunday, July 12, 2015


THIS PLACE!!  I love it.  I hate it some times too - when it rains for two weeks and all the weeds I pulled come back.  Or the barn floods - again.  BUT - mostly I just love it.  We have a love hate relationship, but this time of year we are making googly eyes at each other and madly in love.  It's green like Ireland right now.

My front garden has had an interesting year.  It looked so good, just trucking along all pretty, with a few issues that I was going to get to.  Them my fat pet sheep Oz decided it was so nice of me to grow it all for him and he was happy to eat the ENTIRE thing.  He got in and ate everything except swiss chard, some zinnias, garlic, and kale.  What a brat.  He was very remorseful when he got locked up for the rest of the season.  It actually ended up being good for the garden.  I replanted one entire strawberry bed that really was over due for a makeover.  The other strawberry bed gets to live this year as a sweet potato bed and become a strawberry bed again next year.  The soybeans bounced right back like nothing has ever happened.  The broccoli and peppers could not be saved.  But I replanted the peppers and they are pretending nothing every happened.  The few cantaloupes got new seeds put in the ground and caught right up.  I think the garden really is going to look all the better for Ozzy's remodel.

No sheep remodeled my other garden areas.  The tomatoes are going INSANE!  I dare say the best they have ever been.  The blueberries look amazing this year, and I am coming up with strategies about how to make them every better next year.  The grapes may start knocking on my back door, I think they might be alive - like Little Shop of Horrors.

BUT - my old orchard garden is OUT OF CONTROL!!!  I planted it with cover crops this year in an attempt to choke out weeds.  The wheat did just that.  It has taken over its area and has few weeds.  The 2/3 that I planted with clover couldn't fight the weeds.  It's a jungle.  I am currently letting the chickens try and take it back but they may have some major issues.  I think I need to just till that bad boy under and come up with a better plan.

The fruit trees are doing great this year.  My Fuji apple tree is so loaded I had to thin her out.  We planted to cherry trees and two more peaches.  The weather was wrong this year for peaches but maybe next year.  The plums still have issues.  I can't figure out why - I have two and I thought for sure they would cross pollinate but so far no luck.  I am adding a bee colony next year for honey and pollinating so I hope that this helps, and I will plant one more plum to see if that does the trick.  
tomatoes with zinnias on the end to attract bees

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

::the drama queen::

Lily is a drama queen.  She lives and breathes Broadway.  She sings CONSTANTLY.  Thank the lord she has a good voice or all that constant singing would be too much.  She dances and sings her way around the farm like she is on a stage all day.  They kid watches Broadway musicals on her Kindle when she gets free time.  There is no keeping her away from her love for Broadway.  As her mother I think she is the most talented creature to ever walk the earth.  I might be a little biased.

She has been doing some kind of stage classes or shows since she was six.  It started when she say the show Toddlers in Tiara's and begged me to put her in pageants.  I tried to be open mined to that, but when I looked in to it the idea of putting my six year old on stage with a spray tan and a bikini was more than I could stomach.  So I signed her up for a YMCA production of Annie.  She played an orphan and fell in love.

Since then she has been in many different productions with that same drama troop.  It branched off from the YMCA and is now a non-for profit.  I even got asked to join the board and have been working on creating a parent volunteer group to help support the group.  My small rural community has such a great group of parents that have come together to make this wonderful opportunity of a sanctuary for kids that want to learn about theater.  The kids don't have to be good.  They can be totally talent free, but most are not.  I have love in my heart for this group that supports and loves drama geeks (from super geek to mild geek to actually really not geeky).  All are treated with respect and get that moment to shine.  I have committed to helping on the board for at least three years, which is the amount of time that Lily can be in that group before she ages out.  

Over the years Lily has done many shows with them but has not had a main role.  Every small role breaks her heart in half.  I tell her all the parenting things - it's about the experience, learn what you can, soak up the learning, you'll get bigger roles soon, etc, etc,  Really, I think they are totally crazy.  This kid has serious talent and she gets passed up for roles she would rock.  Don't tell her I feel this way.  I put serious effort into painting the right picture for her, but in reality - WHY CAN'T THEY SEE MY KID IS A STAR.  But then I remind myself - I don't actually know anything about drama.  At all.  Ok - I know when to clap and when to be quiet.  That is pretty much it.  They asked me to join the board because of my hyper active organizational drive.  I swallow my mother biased opinions and encourage her to go for her dreams, and hold her when she cries.

This fall her drama group decided to do Legally Blonde.  Lily auditioned for a fairly large role and she didn't get it.  She did get a nice little role.  Something I thought was pretty sweet.  But she was heart broken again.  She got the role of Kiki who is one of the hairdressers in the salon.  She was the main vocalist for the song Bend and Snap.  I thought she rocked out the part and the girls that got the main roles where older and well cast.  Even with these smaller roles, she is sad at first, then she is just so happy to be part of drama that the role itself doesn't really matter.

Max tagged along to be part of this play and he was wonderful as a frat boy, a janitor, and Paulette's dog.  He was wonderful, but I think he was just so happy to have an activity that he didn't care what it was.  He showed a stunning gift for memorizing dialogue.  That kid had the entire script memorized with in three weeks and was feeding other people their lines.      

Shortly after she was really getting going with Legally Blonde her school announced that they would be doing a school play.  Lily put her whole heart and soul into her audition.  I went to that audition and watched from the back.  I really try hard to stay away from those things because I get so nervous for her that I am afraid she will smell my fear.  She killed the audition - killed it.  But if she isn't right for the role, than it doesn't matter.  AND SHE GOT THE LEAD!!!!!!!  Finally, all her hard work paid off and she got the lead.  I was so happy for her that I cried.  She worked her tush off, and learned some good lessons about how hard it really is to be the lead.  It took a ton of work, but she pulled it off and was amazing.  I was so proud. (Mr Max skipped this one because he was too young.)

Legally Blonde had six shows over the course of two weekends.  The shows went great but it was a little much.  The school play was two shows, one during school and one for families at night.

Now summer time has rolled around and these kids are having a blast getting to go to a two week drama day camp with a further away drama group.  The are doing Honk (which is an Ugly Duckling story).  They audition for roles the second day of camp and then that night an email is sent with parts.  Max got a great roll as a duckling and Lily got THE LEAD!!!!  AGAIN!!!  WOWOWOWOWOW!  She was over the moon,  This drama group is much bigger and more professional than the one she usually does.  She was blown away.  It meant so much to her.

I'm so glad Lily has found something that she is so passionate about.  It drives her.  I'm not sure I would pick drama for her, it breaks her heart sometimes and makes me mad in the process.  But she loves it so much, that I can't help but love it with her.  Now we need to find Max his real interest - maybe American Ninja Warrior classes?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

::new farm babies::

    What a great year on the farm!  I have had no pregnant animals keeping me up all night with worry, but we bought two Nubian Goat does and one Southdown Babydoll lamb.  They are some of the highest quality stock to ever be on my farm.  All three are for my girls to show in 4H this year, and they are going to have some fancy show babies. 

    The two nubians come from a very high quality breeder in Il with many grand champions in her line up.  The day before I was supposed to pick the up, the one I was really in love with broke her front leg.  The breeder cut me a deal and asked in I wanted her any way.  The prognossis was really good, so we went ahead and brought her home.  The black one is named Margaret - AKA Peggy - AKA Peg Leg.  She is so spoiled and Quinn seems to just adore her.  He sits and hugs her at least a few times a day.  The brown one in Winifred.  She is also a sweet heart and spoiled.  They both are bottle fed and they adore getting fed.  I don't know how we are going to every teach them to stand up to be shown because they want to climb all over you.  Peg caught her cast off and is recovering quickly from the whole thing.  Young animals (and humans) are so resilient. 


Then the lamb!  Oh my heart aches I am so over the moon for this baby.  We named her Bernadette.  The little thing is so sweet.  She loves the goat babies and we let them play together on occasion.  This little princess of a girl makes me so excited to start buying more and more lambs to grow a little flock.  Hopefully next year I will pick up a ram and a few more ewes.  I want these little lawn mowers to cover my side yards.  Poor Josh - he is going to get talked in to lots of fencing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Guest Post - Suburban Gardening

I have a dear and talent friend that I work with in the ER, Laura H.  She is a woman of many talents - including a professional photographer and owner of Shady Tree Photography, a nurse, a mama, and a suburban gardener.  I love the spirit of a gardener and adventurer/explorer that she carries with her through life.  I wanted to do a few guest posts on how people can garden in suburban settings, and she was the first person I thought of.  Here is what she wrote about her lovely garden -

Spring time came this year and Brooke asked me to write a story for her blog about my garden.  I thought, “oh my goodness who wants to read what I have to say, this is only my 2nd year of gardening.”  I have the heart of a homesteader but no land or experience.  Over the last few months I have been thinking, Brooke probably thought I forgot about her request, but really I just didn’t know what gardening knowledge I would have to pass on to you.  

First, let me just tell you about my garden.  I live in a neighborhood on the North side of Indy, we have neighborhood rules and a small back yard that is fenced in with a pond behind us.  At first I didn’t think I would ever have room for a garden. We had a space just off our patio that I couldn’t even get grass to grow. Why on Earth did I pick that spot to grow a garden???? Well, it was the only spot that did not have a tree, a kids playhouse, sandbox, or place the kids play.  So I thought “how can I make this spot work?”  

The solution was a raised garden bed. We had lumber delivered from Lowes and my dad and husband spent the weekend putting together my 12x12 raised garden bed.  I had “garden mix soil” delivered from a local garden center and went off to Lowes to get seeds.  Our first year garden was amazing. Everything grew so well and we had a wonderful variety of plants.  I might add that I have never been the person anyone would describe as having a green thumb.  All the decorative plants around my house were picked solely based on them being no maintenance or low maintenance. We had potatoes, lettuce, spinach, carrots, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and snow peas. I was so proud that we grew this beautiful garden and my kids learned lessons about growing our own food. 

looking for a puma
This second year we added different varieties of lettuce and squash. Carrots were our least productive last year so I did not grow them again this year. We also added okra this year just for fun.  Unfortunately, last year we lost 2 decorative plants on the side of our house so this year I took advantage of the open spots to put in raspberry and blueberry bushes. 
Lady bugs ordered online to aphid control
 Our only trouble this year was bugs.  I am researching ideas for next year about spraying essential oil mixtures and other safe ideas for keeping bugs from eating the lettuce plants or swarming my snow peas.  My goal for next year is to add another 4x4 raised bed in a space we had to remove a tree and make it a strawberry garden.  

So although we don’t have a huge yard I am learning how to make use of our space and intermix gardening and providing homegrown foods for my family within the guidelines our neighborhood permits.  That being said, I will never stop dreaming of a day I have acres of land to have a huge vegetable garden, a fruit tree orchard  and all the other ideas I can dream up.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

::grad school - year one done::

   Wow!  I can honestly say that this last year has been a blur.  School has proven to be the final straw that pushed me over the brink of that I can manage to get done.  I have always had a lot of ego about what I can get done - marriage, kids, garden, animals, work full time.  Why not just throw school in there too?  Right?  Yikes, that was a stretch.  But with one year under my belt I think I am starting to get the hang of it.
    First of all - I got all A's.  One whole year of all A's.  I didn't even get that in nursing school when I was busting my ass trying to show off how smart I was.  I'd love to tell you it's because I have been killing myself studying, but it's really just been mostly good luck.  I happened to have pretty easy professors and great groups to work with.  

    What has really given me the most anxiety about school is having a list of things that is not done.  I get the schedule and I want the entire year done in the first two weeks.  I can't think of anything else till its all at least written.  I've lowered my personal anxiety some but pretty much forcing myself to chill out about not having assignments done four months in advance.  Still, it has been weighing on my mind.
    The program is three years long and the last 1.5 years is really the meat of the deal.  I am excited to dive into clinicals head first.  This summer semester I am tacking Pharm and expect to get mentally beat up pretty good.  


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