It’s hard to believe a year has passed since our last Christmas update.
Each year the kids stay busy with church activities, sports, 4H, homeschool co-ops, and piano. We are beyond grateful to see God bless and sustain our family as well as provide us with dear friends and our church family to do life with.
The most exciting change we saw as a family this year was Dave being selected as the new Director of Special Services for Hastings Public Schools. This change means more responsibility but also brought daddy closer to home for work. We are so so so proud of him!
Our little five acres of paradise continues to amaze and exasperate us. On the one hand, we are neighbors with bald eagles, deer, and wild turkeys. On the other, we have coyotes who do fun things like wipe out our entire flock of chickens. I never expected my home’s curb appeal to include having our barn cat sitting out front nibbling on a chicken carcass. Charming.
Speaking of cats, our beloved Max went to the great big farm in the sky last spring. Lucky for us Aunt Kay scored us a replacement kitten. Unfortunately said kitten looked like … like … well, like something the cat dragged in with its boogery eyes and GI issues. Knowing this would never fly with Dave, Kay quickly found us a different kitty. She kept the scraggly kitten as per the usual pattern: when the Haveman family adds a pet to our farm via Aunt Kay, she winds up with one, too. Its a BOGO – with her keeping the defective animal. This arrangement suits us just fine but Uncle Steve is threatening to send us a cease and desist letter. At any rate, we love our new kitty, Emmett, who joins Oreo in the life of leisure here as barn mousers who don’t actually catch mice.
This summer Obbe learned how to give a chicken a bath to spiff it up for the fair. I was surprised how well the hen put up with being dunked in a series of water buckets. Obbe even won a few ribbons at the fair for his squeaky clean birds.
This fall the hens decided that they liked the taste of their own eggs and proceeded to eat every last egg they laid. We researched chicken websites and tried everything to get them to stop. I filled eggs with mustard, put up curtains on the nesting boxes, added oyster shells … you name it. As a last ditch effort we tried free ranging the birds to “alleviate boredom.” (Who knew hens get bored…good grief.) Two days into the free range experiment some coyotes took care of the chicken boredom and egg-eating problem in one fell swoop.
Gillian enjoyed her year representing the saddle club as Junior Princess. She scored several ribbons to add to her growing collection and won high honors at the fair for her horse photography and saddle project. Obbe won his first ribbons at a horse show and he won Grand Champion at the fair for his model of a WSCA game arena. Violet learned how to lope but we are still having a hard time convincing her that she has to hold on to the reigns and steer. She prefers to hold on to the saddle horn and let the horse go wherever it wants.
Mulligan is the overgrown standard poodle who joined our family last Christmas. He has alternated between driving us crazy and endearing himself to us ever since. He is Ty’s best buddy and playmate even though he is over twice Ty’s weight.
Obbe participated in the 4H dog project this summer which culminated in the dog show at the fair. Unfortunately we learned during the show that it is a major point deduction for the doggie to pee pee in the show ring. They stop the show and make a big production out of spraying the area while everyone gives you the stink eye. Whoops. The judge gravely informed us it is an even bigger deduction should the dog do do in the ring. Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a straight face when the dog judge schools you on all of this? Obbe still managed red ribbon and Mulligan promised not to be so rude next year.
After incessant badgering from our children we caved and bought two goats. Effie and Sarsaparilla won us over on the promise from the goat farmer that they’d eat the buckthorn invading our woods. Unfortunately no one taught the goats the difference between buckthorn and gladiolas, zinnias, corn, garden veggies, potted plants, hydrangeas, or landscape bushes. After bringing them home, we spent the duration of our summer dragging them from the yard back to the woods to do their job. They never did make a dent in that buckthorn. I decided a better plan was to breed them and try our hand at milking goats.
I called the goat lady to ask how one goes about breeding goats. She instructed me to start by watching for signs of heat, which include wagging their tails, peeing, and bleating. I politely told her they do that all the time. To facilitate my goat heat detection skills, she offered to make me a “buck rag.” Evidently this is a rag that has been rubbed all over a malodorous buck and will send the ladies into a tither if they smell it while in heat. I was told to call her and race over to the farm with the goats once I was sure they were in heat for a five-minute rendezvous with the buck. I expressed surprise at the five minute time table and she enthusiastically informed me, “Oh yeah, he will breed her twice in five minutes.” At this point I just stopped asking questions.
Every day for a month I went down to the barn and cracked open the jar containing the rank buck rag for my goats to sniff, all the while thinking, “I can’t believe this is my life.” I never did notice any signs of heat from my girls. Apparently they are never in the mood. Or maybe they are always in the mood. Who knows. Either way, it doesn’t look like we will have any baby goats come spring.
As I write all this out I am reminded that in a nutshell what we have on our farm are: cats that don’t mouse, chickens that eat their own eggs, and goats that eat everything but buckthorn. This is all off-set by the fact that we get to feed horses hay all winter while we don’t ride them. We are winning here out on the farm. Truly.
Each day is an adventure and we look forward to what the Lord brings our way in 2015. We hope and pray as a family to continue to grow in our faith and serve Him. Hopefully we will see more family, old and new friends, and some Safe Families kiddos out here on the farm this year. We love visitors!
Below is our family Christmas pic. It was only after corralling the kids and most of our animals, bribing everyone (including the animals) with treats, snapping the pic, uploading, and printing the pictures that my husband pointed out … they are all standing in manure. Merry Christmas!