The Perfect Homestead

As the new year approaches I have been thinking a lot (as if I don’t think about it the rest of the year too!) about the quintessential homestead.  I fear I have fallen into the trap of When I get my real homestead I will then be complete…happy…truly living life…

homestead

So, a better look at things is in order.  I did pray for a homestead.  I suppose I should have been more specific.  But, here I am living in a nearly hundred year old farmhouse (one of my requests), on two-thirds of an acre (I asked for land), with a myriad of farm animals and a quarter acre to farm.  I forgot to mention that I wanted more land, a well, a wood stove, a barn, and a great view.  Looking at Doug’s not bad though.  I am living on a homestead.  I am also walking distance to the library, bank, café, saloon, and a great little museum.  I back to the fairgrounds and have front row seats to rodeos and festivities.  I am close to Maryjane and Emily.  We are close to what is important to Shyanne.

k5511046

Next year Shyanne goes to college, Emily turns eighteen and Bret graduates.  They may want to take a different path.  I love the community here.  I have never belonged in a community before and it feels great out here.

cabin

Perhaps I will stay out here for a long time.  Find a homestead with the above criteria and remain in my community.  Perhaps I will move closer to the mountains where my children are gravitating.  I would love a mountain cabin, a green house, a place in the quiet of the woods.  I would love a stone house by a creek.  I would love a farm near the mountains.  I would love an Earthship in New Mexico.  An adobe in Taos or southern Colorado.  I would love….

SAM_0328

Well, you get the picture.  I may possibly have just too many things I want to do and see.  I can start a garden anywhere.  The longer I stay the better the soil.  Make sure I am somewhere I can have my animals.  See that I am close to Maryjane.  We could stop looking for the perfect homestead and a way to buy and opt to rent.  (A house is often an expensive anchor.  We lost our house years ago and are not able to buy anyway.)  If we rent we can experience lots of different homesteads or get a long term lease.

pikes

Or…some nice person will leave me a lovely farm complete with a barn, a view, a wood stove, a hundred year old farm house, a well, a place to grow food, in a perfect mix of trees and prairie with the perfect community where I can stay forever and ever.  Ahh…I may never learn.

SAM_0298

The important things are that I am near friends.  Grandchildren and children.  That we are happy and healthy.  That we have the freedom to do what we would like.  The homestead of my dreams may or may not exist but I must have faith that we will be lead to exactly where we are supposed to be.

SAM_0798

Grow where planted.  May this be a blessed year for all of us.

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Farm Animal?

We knew how much it cost to buy the farm animals.  Approximately two or three dollars per chick.  $200 per alpaca (that was a smoking deal).  $200 for the pair of adorable goats to be bartered for herbal medicine.  (Another great deal.  We should be able to sell Katrina’s babies for $200-$300 each!)

SAM_0692

What we didn’t know and couldn’t seem to get answers to was how much is it to raise these guys?  How much to feed them?  Twenty dollars a month?  Two hundred dollars a month?  I needed to know if I would have to return the farm animals after three weeks if we couldn’t afford it.  I keep a good budget (it could certainly be better) and I save up money for months in advance because our main income is earned during the summer.  So, if some farm kid is going to eat us out of house and farm, Lord, I need to know about it!

Look who wanted in this morning!

I have gathered the numbers for all of you out there wanting to get a few cute farm animals yourself.

Introducing Ferdinand!

Alpacas are surprisingly affordable.  The upfront cost can make you choke (count on $300 for a fiber boy up to $20,000 for a prized breeding girl) but once you get the little guys they don’t cost much.  We’re talking one bale of hay between the both of them.  Around $13 a month.  With pine shavings and the pellets that have their minerals in it takes us to twenty.  So, each fiber boy costs $10 a month.  It’s a good thing they don’t cost much to feed because any animal that is that fluffy and cute should allow me to go snuggle with it.  No can do.  They don’t come near me.  Sad.

Loretta

Goats eat a tad more, but not much. They love to eat.  We got a pregnant mama here.  They don’t need the grain. (I was told at church yesterday by Jill.  We spoil them a tad too much perhaps.)  So with pine shavings, this makes the girls about the same.  $10 a piece per month.  We’ll give some sweet feed in a few months when we are milking Katrina, so that will raise it up slightly.  Jill gave us a good start on minerals.  So, when we do have to purchase minerals and the sweet feed, we may be looking at $15 a piece per month.  I have Nigerian Dwarves, so a larger breed would probably eat more.

SAM_0209

The chickens….wouldn’t you expect them to be the cheapest?  They are giving us eggs to pay for their room and board.  We feed organic feed.  It’s not that much more than the GMO stuff.  They have been going through much more lately because of the cold and lack of forage (and lack of things to do, in my opinion).  $36 dollar a month plus pine shavings which will take us to roughly $40 a month.  At the two to three eggs a day from fifteen hens and their useless (but good looking) husband, that makes each dozen of eggs cost $6 a piece.  No profit.  But, we do have to consider that we don’t buy eggs either.  So, I am okay with that cost.

baby and kitties

The greyhound costs $20 a month and eight cats cost $60 a month.  So, in the end, the cats are the ones eating us out of house and farm.  They better get back to mousing!

Of course these costs don’t take into consideration veterinarian costs.  But, we rarely to never use a vet.  We are herbalists and teach people how to treat their own animals.  Not much we can’t help take care of.  So, that saves us a tremendous amount of money having that knowledge.  We did pay $75 for the people we got Natale from to geld him.  Looks like the bratty Ferdinand may have to go that route too, we’ll see.  But, just having a cat can place you at risk for having a huge vet bill in an emergency, so I don’t count vet costs because that would come out of an emergency fund.

It is nice though, to see a general cost of feed and housing.  A house is much more of a home with a rooster and a goat, don’t you think?  Now, how much does it cost to have a sheep….

petting goats

Shyanne Mae

Eighteen years ago on this morn

A baby girl was soon to be born

With soft brown curls and big blue eyes

She viewed the world as a big surprise…

IMG_1476

From the beginning, Shyanne would only be with me.  As a baby she would not let others hold her, would only stay tucked on my hip.  She would hold my hand as she grew and would not want to leave my side (except to play with her brother, who was her hero from the get go).  She was my little angel.

IMG_1473

She was giggly and fun, talkative and smart.  She had an almost exotic look about her with her dark, curly hair and big blue/green eyes.  She began to say “I know” when folks would say how beautiful she was every day.  I had to teach her to say thank you.  Still, wherever we go, someone mentions how pretty she is.

She was never in trouble, not once as a child.  She never went into time out.  She was so particular and concerned about her behavior and how everyone would feel that she kept herself out of trouble.  She even moved her desk next to her teacher’s to keep from chatting to her friends.

She was unusual in the sense that she wanted to have lunch with her teachers, hang out with adults.  She was easy to talk to.  Gracious.  Polite.

I always called her Pumpkin but her dad calls her Cupcake.  We were sitting in the hallway outside her first grade class waiting for a teacher/parent conference.  The walls were lined with portrayals of the “Cat in the Hat”.  Funny hand drawn cats in finger paint.  Doug said about one, “It’s a cupcake!”  Shyanne started laughing and said it wasn’t.  Then a cloud of unreasonable silliness covered us all.  “It’s a cupcake!” he repeated.  “No, it’s not!” she squealed and tried to cover his mouth with her little hands.  “…cupcake!”  Another roar of laughter and her little fingers laced to keep him from saying the word again.  Uncontrollable laughter filled the hall from our family.  I am sure the conference before us wondered what on earth was happening.  But, from that day, Shyanne became Cupcake.

Even as a small child, she had a gift for baking.  As a pre-teen she spent hours in the kitchen baking up masterpieces sounding a bit like Gordon Ramsey from Hell’s Kitchen.  The child can swear like a sailor.  We didn’t dare venture into the kitchen.  We were rewarded with confections of sugar and creativity.

IMG_0123

Shyanne could sing from early on.  She could bring down the house with her bluesy, soulful voice.  It was hard to imagine that it came out of her tiny frame.  We took the kids to bars that allowed children to sing karaoke.  When we were homeschooling we said they were studying music and social problems.  I miss those days!  The kids will not sing for me now.

IMG_1477

She was in the Miss pre-teen Colorado pageant.  Our good friends, Steve and Beth, sponsored her along with the owner of one of the bars we took her to.  She did not win but when she graced the stage, her arm linked with her dad’s, that big winning smile greeting the crowd, I could not help but beam with pride.

DSCF3820

She and her brother were inseparable as children.  Many photographs show them standing so close, their sides touched.  Along with Emily, the children went on adventures in the open space behind our neighborhood, held Pirate School regularly, and enjoyed vacations that we took to the Caribbean, to Florida, and their favorites, Oakley, Kansas and Laramie, Wyoming.

IMG_1475

After Andrew moved out, she began to date and all fears of not being in trouble were quickly dismissed.  She started, and still does as she pleases.

She now works at the local tea shop and does a lot of the baking there.  She is so charming and genuinely likes people and service that she is brilliant there.  Decorating, setting tables, chatting, baking, this is indeed her cup of tea.

She graduated early, December 15th, from high school and is preparing to leave for college in the fall.  I can scarcely believe our children are this big, but I cannot help but smile over the reminiscences.

shyanne

Happy Birthday, Shyanne!  I am thankful to be your mother.

The Unlikely Guard Animal

Pop quiz!  Who is the best guard animal here at Pumpkin Hollow Farm?

a. Bumble the greyhound

IMG_0311

b. Henry Higgins the rooster

SAM_0806

c. Aretha the slightly off chicken?

This is Aretha's identical twin. I don't have many pictures of Aretha cause she crazy.

This is Aretha’s identical twin. I don’t have many pictures of Aretha cause she crazy.

Our new neighbors were a little worried when the alpacas came to live in the back yard.  They were concerned that their dogs would never stop barking.  They have an Akita mix and a Pomeranian.  Sooo, probably a good guess.  They aren’t out all that much, so it doesn’t seem to bother anyone when they are out barking.  Their parents always stand out there with them to make sure they don’t find their way out of the yard.

Doug went out to talk to them yesterday and show their daughter, who was visiting, the farm animals.  The dogs weren’t making a peep.  Our neighbor explained that last week the Pomeranian was barking her little head off at the fence when along came Aretha.  She came running full speed to the fence barking herself!  Her full eight inches of stature topped with the crazy mop of white feathers flying everywhere must have been terrifying for the pup.  A barking chicken.  The Pomeranian ran behind her dad’s legs and hasn’t said a word since.  You tell ’em, Aretha.

To read more about our confused and slightly crazy, but pretty darn cute chicken click here or here.

Merry Christmas

As a lot of you know, I wanted to be a nun when I was a teenager.  I love the portrayal of nuns in the movie, Trouble With Angels, and I have always liked the nuns I knew growing up.  But, God intended for me to be a wife, mom, and grandma.  Which is great, I am happy with that!  I started school to be a pastor some eight years ago, but again, it was not meant to be.  I was meant to be a farmer and a healer.  Not bad gigs.  I’ll take them.  I have studied a fair amount of religion though, and many different religions.

miracle painting

After death the Catholics believe that we head to Purgatory to work through things we have done and move towards heaven.  In Judaism they believe they must work for however long it takes to get through everything they did on earth that was wrong as well.  In many Native American religions it is believed that when we pass we become keenly aware of the effects of what we did on Earth.  How it affected people.  What we really did here.  I am sure it is an eye opener!  We learn to forgive ourselves and work through the healing process.  This is why we pray for our loved ones.  So that they can heal, forgive, work through what they need to, and move towards total peace and sanctity in heaven.

You see, most religions have the same underlying basis, the same ideals, the same God.  We are all the same.

SAM_0552

When Mary was appearing in Medjugorje (a scientifically proven phenomenon) she said that the most people enter the gates of heaven on Christmas.  That always delights me when I think of it.  I will light a candle for our loved ones that we lost.  I can see them dancing through the pearly gates now.

Doug and I have collectively experienced six miraculous healings.  We have seen miracles on our travels.  We are in awe that we cannot explain everything.  Christmas is a time of awe.

This is a time of great joy.

Holiday card 2013

From our farm to yours, from our family to yours, we wish you miracles, healings, and the sense of peace and awe that comes with Christmas.  Merry, merry Christmas to you all.

Santa’s Got a Brand New Cookie

Remember in grade school when we were supposed to bring in a recipe?  All the recipes were put together in a hand bound book and given to our parents for holidays.  I believe I gave it to my mother for Mother’s Day.  I have not seen that recipe book in years but in it held a recipe I know by heart that has been used for decades now.  I do not even know the name of it but my kids know it as the peanut butter chocolate thingies.  This year we called them Grammie’s Graham Cracker Bliss.  You can call them whatever you wish.

IMG_1421

It was my first go-to recipe as a pre-teen.  I took these addictive no bake bars to youth group dances.  Then as I got older they made a quick dessert that the kids loved (if I could keep from eating it all before it set).

Santa may leave Mama a few extra gifts if she leaves this dessert for him!

IMG_1419

Take 1 package of graham crackers. (note: the packages of graham crackers do seem smaller than when I was a kid.  Use your judgment if you need to add a few more crackers to the mix.)  Here’s the fun part.  Crush the package with a rolling pin until crumbs.  Add to bowl.

Melt 1 stick of butter.  Add.

Add 1 cup of peanut butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar.

IMG_1418

Blend well and using your fingers or a spatula spread into a baking dish or cookie sheet.

IMG_1420

Melt 1/2 bag of chocolate chips.  Smear on top.  Refrigerate.

(Optionally, you can test every five minutes to see if it is set enough until you get caught by the kids.)

Cut into pieces and enjoy with coffee.  Santa is going to be up all night working and could probably use something a bit stronger than milk.  An espresso or two is in order.

The Entertaining Farmgirl-Christmas Time

I used to be known for my Christmas party.  I had one every year.  Hundreds of dollars spent on food.  Friends from all facets of our life were invited.  Each year I spent so much time in the kitchen, serving, cleaning up, trying to talk to everyone, that I actually didn’t get to spend any time with my friends.  I was more of the roaming, stressed hostess.  The last time we had a party, I hired someone to come do the dishes and help serve.  I had more time to talk to a few friends  before I noticed that all the food was gone and some of the guests were so drunk and obnoxious that they started offending and scaring off the other guests.  We needed to change something.  (Not the friends, I love those goofy guys.)

The only good thing about those parties was my ice breaker.  People talked about it and looked forward to it all year.  I split the guests into groups of unaffiliated couples.  They were given a sheet of paper with all of our animals’ names on it and told to tell what movie each name came from.  Back then we only had eight cats and one or two dogs.  It would be a hoot to do it now with sixteen chickens, two goats, two alpacas, along with eight cats, and two dogs!

We decided to have individual dinners with each group of friends.  I could be more present and really enjoy my friends.  We often go to a restaurant with Monte and Erik to exchange presents and celebrate our friendship and the year.  Toast the year ahead.  We’ll meet Margie and her family tonight at the wine bar.  Rodney, Pat, Kat, Rod, and Mark will come over Christmas night.  Last night we hosted Nancy and her crew.  Farmgirls reunited.  We made it through a treacherous summer of farmer’s markets.  Didn’t kill each other and came out stronger.  I was delighted to have her and her husband, daughter and boyfriend, and Nancy’s nephew who was home on leave from the Marines over for dinner.  My girls were here, the twinkly lights, candle lights, and oil lamp seems to shine brighter and sweeter with friends over.

IMG_1425

Here are some tips for putting together a seamless holiday dinner.  Everything is done in advance.  Don’t choose a day you work or will be running around to host ten people for dinner.

1. Clean the house during the day or the day before.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Candlelight and friends are forgiving.

IMG_1423

2. Set the table hours in advance.  Shoo cats off the table for the rest of the day.

IMG_1427

3. Prepare coffee pot and place after dinner cups on a tray.

4. Choose the menu a good week before and make sure you have the ingredients for it.  Let friends bring things.  They truly don’t mind (after all, their house is staying clean!).  Drinks, or an appetizer, or dessert could be taken care of if you only ask.

IMG_1426

IMG_1424

5. Get creative with table settings.  I used an old lace curtain, topped with a round lace tablecloth, topped with a large, vintage doily.  Candles along the table.  Mix matched Christmas china…..let’s stop there.  I know that it is tempting to use Christmas paper plates but it is so much prettier and makes people feel special if you go all out with presentation.  I had everyone wash just their plate and I have considerably less dishes to do this morning.  Or Doug does anyway.  A canning jar acted as a water cup with a wine glass next to it.  Instead of cloth napkins, I threw in a bit of humor with cocktail napkins with funny sayings.  People started laughing immediately upon arrival as soon as they saw them.

IMG_1428

6. Back to the meal.  I always choose something like soup or pasta that can be made and sit in a pot on warm in the oven until ready to serve.  No more cooking while folks are over.  I made goulash last night in a cast iron pot and placed it in the oven.  A jar of sauerkraut, a jar of apple and pear sauces, and Nancy’s crisp salad rounded out the meal.  (It sure is nice having a full root cellar of canned food.  It is like having a grocery store in the basement.)

IMG_1431

7. Open up the wine and have a glass.  ‘Tis the time of year to celebrate!

Let’s see how you fare on the ice breaker.  Reply with your answers.  They are characters from a movie, play, or commercial.

Bumble-

Windsor Wizzer-

Snuggles Sheer Khan-

Ichabod Crane-

Zuzu’s Petals

Frankie and Louie (from a commercial)-

Clara Belle-

Mr. Boogedy Boo (Boo boo)-

Eliza Doolittle-

Ten Things You Should Know When Moving to a Small Town

kiowa library

We  live in a small town in Colorado.  Actually three small towns act as one community out here.  Elizabeth is the first town where our shop was and where the most stores are.  More and more hoity toity houses are being built on the outskirts but the town is still holding its own charm and friendliness.  Head seven miles east and you will find our quaint town of Kiowa which has more friendly people than Santa’s Workshop.  Population 750.  A lot of that population lives in the mobile home park lovingly referred to as the Trailer Park.  No one cares where you live out here.  No one looks down on you, whether you live in a trailer, forty acres, or a cute rental on 2/3 of an acre.  Nine miles south of us is Elbert.  Another tiny town full of nice folks.  I could not imagine moving back to Denver where I grew up.  Small towns are the way to go.  Everyone knows your business, but they also know where your kids are at all times, if you need help, and are often your best cheerleaders.  Now if you are ready to move to a small town (or if you already live here, you can just read and nod your head) here are some things you should know.

baby deer

1. If an oncoming car flashes their lights at you it doesn’t necessarily mean that a speed trap is ahead, it usually means there are deer about to or crossing the road.  Slow the truck down.

2. Chickens outnumber squirrels here.

SAM_0806

3. A rooster crowing is lovely ambience.  Do not move here and complain about people having livestock.  We all moved to the country so we can have farm animals.

4. Do plan an extra hour per errand.  It is fun going into the bank, the library, or the grocery store and stopping in each aisle to chat with folks you know.

gun

5. When I first moved here, my only viewing of a gun was the one that I saw on my dad’s hip before heading to work (he is a sheriff).  Here, you might trip over one in the kitchen at the neighbor’s house, or have to move one out of the way to put your drink down, or find a few rifles lined up in their kid’s room.  (I’ll never forget when I saw my future son-in-law, Bret, carrying a ginormous black shotgun (or some kind of big gun).  “Is that real??” I exclaimed.  The look he gave me was of concern as he nodded yes and wondered if I lived under a rock or something.  I don’t think Maryjane is going to have many boyfriends.)

6. As a long, long time vegetarian (who may have recently slipped) be prepared for your friend’s cute little animals to possibly make an appearance on the table.  It takes a bit of getting used to.

7. Be prepared to know everyone at church.  Lots of people are religious here, but no one will try to convert you. You can do what you want.

8. Some of my friends really do drive around with a beer in the console.  This is probably not recommended though.

9. Be prepared to meet the best people you could imagine and have better relationships and connections once you get out of the city.  Be prepared to listen to old timer’s fascinating stories in the local saloon about what the town used to be like.

plains

10. Because it is Christmas time, I’d like to add a footnote.  If you intend to move to a small town in Colorado, don’t expect snow everywhere (unless you are in the mountains).  There are a lot of misconceptions out there like Denver is in the mountains (not true) and that we wade through snow all year.  We have roughly a handful of snows and they melt the next day.  We rarely have a white Christmas but rejoice when we do!

xmas

Saying Merry Christmas in a small town is not only acceptable but encouraged.  So Merry Christmas Y’all.  Thanks for reading!

The Twelve Days of Christmas (new traditions)

We always had the advent calendar that was made of cardboard and had little cutouts with chocolates of undetermined age within.  Growing up my sister and brother and I would take turns opening a day until the most anticipated day of the year arrived, Christmas!

IMG_0323

Our children did the same for many years.  A few years ago, leery of the chocolate contents, I decided to make a different advent calendar.  I went to the dollar store and picked up twenty four tiny stockings and some contents.  Calculating which teenager would open the stocking each day I put a small gift in each.  Most of the items were from the dollar store or a piece of candy.  Ear phones, eye lash curler, nail polish, batteries…a little goodie to look forward to.

Last year there wasn’t much sign of any of the kids so Doug and I started a new tradition.  I am not sure how it started, but we began the twelve days of Christmas.  Taking turns, we gave each other a small gift each day until Christmas.  A back massage, a small kitchen gadget, some warm socks, a special meal….just little actions or trinkets that made the season more fun.

This year we are doing something a little different, putting the gifts into song.  So, on Christmas eve we will have a completed version of the 12 Days of Christmas.

So far we have:

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a watch that belonged to me. (I put a new battery in his watch)  On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to meeeee a handheld mandolin slicer, and a watch that belonged to me. (I could never figure out the large contraption he gave me one year.  I needed a hand held one.)

Let’s skip ahead, shall we?  Today I shall sing him the fifth gift.  Our little coffee shop sold and the new owners no longer wanted to sell booze or host karaoke.  We enjoy singing at Rodney’s every third week.  He has a fantastic set up.  And Maryjane can come and she does love to sing and dance along.  It really is the cutest thing you will ever see.  But Doug mentioned missing a bar type atmosphere of singing.  I, friends, can do without waiting until 9:30 at night to sing my first song when I should be in bed with a cup of tea and a magazine.  Staying up until normally unseen hours is also not on my radar.  But, tonight, unbeknownst to him yet, I will trade tea for beer and go wail a few songs at a bar forty five minutes away on a weeknight because this will make my hubby very happy.

So, On the fifth day of Christmas my true love (better believe it!) gave to meeee…..Fiiivvvee karaoke soooongs…..

a pair of internet moccasins, a nice western shirt, a handheld mandolin slicer, and a watch that belonged toooo meeee.

I am also reposting the 12 Days of Christmas song I wrote last year as it begs to be sung again this year.  So, folks, sing it loud….

IMG_0262

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me….a cat in a tree.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…2 murdered ornaments and a cat in a tree.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…fiiivvvee (sing it now) Christmas Chickens (not to eat)….4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…6 friends a comin’, fiiivvvee Christmas chickens (not to eat), 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments (may they rest in peace), and a cat in a tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’, 5 Christmas chickens, 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments…and a caaaatt in the tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…8 sugar cookes, 7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’, fiiivvvee Christmas chickens (not to eat), 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

IMG_0295

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…9 Victorian houses, 8 sugar cookies, 7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’, 5 Christmas chickens, 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

(Stay with me now!) On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me….Ten violin songs, 9 Victorian houses, 8 sugar cookies, 7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’, 5 Christmas chickens, 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas (we’re almost there) my true love gave to me…11 sets of light, 10 violin songs, 9 Victorian houses, 8 sugar cookies, 7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’, 5 Christmas chickens, 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

IMG_0296

(Now draw this out and pause for dramatic purposes, Santa is coming soon!) On the twelfth day of Christmas….my true love gave to me…(now kind of fast here) 12 wrapped presents, 11 sets of lights, 10 violin songs, 9 Victorian houses, 8 sugar cookies, 7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’ (are they coming already?!), ffffiiiiivvvveeee Christmas chiiickeeens….badambompbomp..4 cups of coffee (more please), 3 hopeful children (hope they don’t get coal), 2 murdered ornaments, and aaaaaaa cat in a tree (jazz hands).

Merry Christmas!  May your days be filled with fun and laughter and cats in trees.

The Old, Old Farmdog

IMG_0314

I wanted a ferret.  “You do not want a ferret, ” Grandpa exclaimed.  He gave me reasons, but I had tuned him out.  I wanted one.

I had just turned twenty-two and still knew everything.  Andrew had just turned three and we had recently lost our wolf hybrid that he identified with and loved.  Andrew loved animals and so did I allowing a menagerie of creatures coming in and out of the house.  Four cats were joined by an American Eskimo puppy named Snow White.  We needed to keep our minds off of our lost dog.  Shyanne was only six months old and was busy crawling all over the house.  I had just found out I was pregnant with Emily.  Life was full and busy.  I liked it that way.  A ferret would add character to our already crazy household.

At the pet store, I chose the littlest, cutest white ferret and took him home.  I didn’t think to get a cage.  He was to be litter box trained and allowed to roam the house like any other pet.  Upon getting him home, I realized that perhaps Grandpa was right.  The baby ferret was either attached to my foot or Shyanne’s diapered backside at all times by his teeth.  This was not going to work.

Shortly afterwards, in the pet store, Andrew was being chased by a giant lizard around the shop (shop lizard, I guess?), I was done with the ferret, I just wanted my money back and to get out of there.  They would only offer me an exchange.  Now, I am a big dog person.  Wolf hybrids, St. Bernards, big fluffy dogs are my style.  I was credited a hundred dollars but there was nothing in the shop for less than that.

DSCF0068

Except for a new bunch of sickly little shih tzu/poodle mixes that had just arrived.  Mangy little things.  I chose the one with one blue eye.  He was the closest to a husky.  We named him Windsor.

I was afraid he would be a fear biter because he was so nervous at home.  He had been cooped up for his first six months and knew nothing about playing, jumping on furniture, or receiving kisses.  He learned quickly.

He was pretty naughty.  He jumped the fence to get into the front yard all the time.  His partner in crime, Snow White, who was the same age, could not jump over and play with him.  One day, Windsor jumped over the fence and was playing in the front yard. Snow White started convulsing and died.  Someone had been dropping poisoned hamburger into the yards all around my neighborhood.  Windsor saved himself by jumping the fence.  Snow White was eight months old.

Each dog that I brought home….another wolf hybrid, a lhasa apso were among the lost…he would get out of the yard with and come back alone.  We joked that he was getting rid of the dogs.  So, he was an only dog for a long time.

He has been great with the kids.  Three children under the age of four playing with him, dressing him up, dragging him everywhere, he never once nipped.  He has been tie dyed, had hair cuts, mohawks, and was walked sixteen miles when Emily decided to walk to Grandma’s house when she was younger.  He has loved every minute of it.

DSCF3018

He wags his tail around Maryjane.  He loves children.  He loves cats.  We think he may have thought he was a cat.  At some point we thought he was lonely and adopted another dog, Bumble the greyhound.  Bumble was only two and a half at the time, Windsor was twelve.  Windsor was too old to lose Bumble, less than thrilled to have a roommate, but he has dealt with the bumbling new dog tripping over him (who is now nine).  He has lived in the inner city, a townhome, an old neighborhood, off to the suburbs, to the country with no fenced yard, and now on a huge plot that doesn’t do him any good because he spends the majority of his day on a pillow.  He is deaf and blind. In no pain, just tired.  He wags his tail when he hears the kids walking across the floor.

IMG0011A

He turns eighteen on Sunday.  I never expected to have this little dog for nearly my entire adult life.  He has been a very, very good farm dog (city dog, suburb dog, family dog).  Happy Birthday Windsor!  Sometimes the most unexpected of happenings become a major part of one’s life, an unexpected blessing.