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?


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