A cool and drippy November day is perfect for snuggling up with a friend!
October 18, 2016 marks our eighth year of living on the farm. I can hardly believe it. I can hardly believe that I’ve been writing this blog for seven years now. I often wonder if anyone reads it anymore; of course I don’t do it for fame or fortune, but I do hope it gets a little bit of foot traffic!
So, every year, I try to write about things that we’ve learned over the previous twelve months. Usually, I find that it’s the same thing: Keep good fences. Plant what you eat. Live simply. Learn to laugh at your mistakes. 2016 wasn’t much different, and I’m not sure what I will have to add other than telling you that we are seriously cutting down on debt this year. I know I’ve said it in the past, but we really have gotten much more focused in becoming debt-free. One thing that I have fallen in love with is the so-called “No Spend” months. These are months that I choose (almost always a five week month for us since we are paid weekly) and they consist of no-frill spending and only about $100 on groceries. It takes pre-planning and dedication, but at the end of these months, we have found that we are saving an entire paycheck plus some. This extra goes to our debts. Maybe one day I’ll write more about it, but in the meantime, you can get some ideas here. It truly is quite simple, but again, especially in the food department, it does require pre-planning, and meal planning is a lifesaver here.
So, let’s recap the last twelve months with some pictures! Every year, we try to make it to Arkansas. If you have never been, there is a reason it’s known as the Natural State. It is absolutely gorgeous. Miles and miles of countryside to see. Caves, hot springs, mountains, rivers, lakes…Arkansas has it all. We usually go in spring or fall for the best weather, but be forewarned, these seasons also can be very volatile. Tornadoes and flash flooding are not rare occurrences here, so if you do go, be sure to check the weather forecast!
Once place we went last October was Blanchard Springs. The springs themselves are beautiful, but it is also home to the Blanchard Springs caves. I had never been to a cave before. The beauty of it literally brought tears to our eyes!
The river that runs through it all…absolutely breathtaking:
But meanwhile, back on the farm: We caught a hawk! Okay, not true, he caught HIMSELF in our fence while trying to get a chicken. I found him wedged between the chicken wire and the 4 x 4 fencing. Honestly, I thought he was dead. After some very careful manipulation with gloves and a towel, we extracted the little jerk from the fence (he is responsible for all hawk-related chicken deaths over the past year) and we found that he had injured a wing. So, off to the rehabber he went. Although not much larger than a pigeon, this Sharp-shinned hawk ate up about 15 of our birds. They overwinter here. In fact, we’ve already had a hawk attack by one again this fall, so I’m assuming his mate or offspring made it back.
In November, we had the most adorable baby chicks born. Like, EVER. The especially ‘poofy’ one is “Yin”. And yes, we also had a “Yang”. We still have both, although sadly, their beautiful brother died the following spring.
Every year, we go to the Homestead Heritage Fair in Waco. This is an absolute MUST if you haven’t been. I really can’t say enough good things about it! Due to torrential rain, they opened it for another weekend. Typically, it’s the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving. We brought home these baby Ameraucana chicks to add to our flock. I am happy to say that we have all but one a year later. They lay beautiful blue eggs.
February 2016: Because every chicken needs a bonnet:
And Fran needs a bonnet, too:
March: It was a banner year for frogs and toads. We had so many pollywogs at the pond, it was black along the edges. Unfortunately, we also had an equal number of bullfrogs born here. I have no clue what will happen to the other frogs now that we have about 900 million huge bullfrogs.
March also means baby bunnies. Here comes Peter Cottontail!
The lazy flock of Silkies:
I told you the bullfrogs are huge!
Spring also brings out the snakes. This is a copperhead that we relocated. Yes, they are venomous.
This summer brought the most insane number of Indian Blanket flowers I’ve ever seen. These all came up on their own without being reseeded:
And naturally, flowers bring butterflies. We have SO MANY this year!
Summer also brings mulberries! Delicious!
Summer also brings us…TOMATOES!
Because we had two ‘rainy’ years, the crepe myrtles and all things that flower were absolutely stunning this year! I have never seen them bloom like this before.
The front yard in June:
To catch a snake:
And toads. Toads everywhere!!!
Beautiful summer skies of July. We had some very dry months (including this October…ugh), and then some crazy wet ones! That’s East Texas for ya.
Creating a ‘classics’ shelf in my mini-library, complete with a Brussels Griffon look-a-like a la Hobby Lobby:
Ribbon snakes on the farm!
Life is good for this eleven year old Mastiff:
And this eight year old Brussels Griffon:
Well folks, that about wraps up the last year! I’ll post again about the major yard renovation, but it’s time for me to refresh my (very cold) coffee. I hope you enjoyed the farm visit with us!
Today didn’t start out so hot. I didn’t get a chance to get rid of the hawk that’s been plaguing my chicken yard for the past week, despite getting up when it’s still dark outside. I am NOT a morning person. I have been getting up early for two days now with no success. Then my dog faked me out with an untimely death scare. Francesca Buttons isn’t just any dog. She is like our third furry child who pees on the rugs and loves to eat dirt. So basically, a tiny furry toddler. She has a smooshy monkey face and the happiest personality. Here is a photo: She’s the most awesome dog we’ve ever had, and two days ago she started having a sniffly nose, and I didn’t think much about it since she was otherwise fine. Fast forward to this morning, and when I picked her up, she was sneezing so much, she had doggie snot from her nose to her shoulder. Of course, it’s a Saturday and no veterinary offices are open with exception to the emergency clinic, so with a snotty and sneezing dog in one arm and a phone in the other I frantically call Jason to tell him Fran may have contracted something fatal and horrible and I was at fault.
As I drove through town, I was trying to come up with the correct verbiage on how to break Fran’s imminent death to my children (who, of course, are not at home) and simultaneously come up with a proper dog eulogy and burial procedure. (Would it be odd to invite friends? Are they still cloning dogs? Are people who stuff their dog really all that strange?)
I call my friend Rachel while trying not to choke on my words to see if she can bring some wood shavings to my house since I am on the way with a rapidly declining dog to the town 30 minutes away, and I need those shavings because the stupid hawk won’t leave my stupid chickens alone and now everyone has to stay in their way-too-small chicken houses and my poor chickens will be swimming in their own nasty poo thanks to the dumb hawk and I couldn’t make it to the dumb feed store because my dog is dying in a laundry basket in the back seat of my car.
Rachel says, “Sure.”
As we are leaving town, I notice Fran got quiet. I look in the back seat and she looks back at me as if to say, “What? May I help you?” No sneezing, no lolling tongue, no panicking. As I got to thinking about it, I remembered her only having a runny nose out of one nostril. Hmm.
My rusty brain gears get to squealing and then I thought: Maybe she has something shoved up her nostril? Maybe it isn’t the Parvotemperfluenzatella virus? As we are at the final red light just before turning into the clinic, Fran goes into a violent sneezing fit and I turn around. I see an eighth-inch long piece of green protruding from said nostril. OH. MY. GEEZY.
We pull into the emergency clinic parking lot (a 40 minute trip), and I rip open Fran’s door and extract a good one and a half inch long piece of grass from her nose hole. Sigh. SIGH. And, double sigh.
Maybe my dog is as frugal as I am; either way, she saved me an $80 visit by sneezing out a piece of Bahia in the parking lot. I tell this story to tell you: It ain’t been a great morning for me. It was definitely a “Boo-Yay” kind of day, but I hate the stress rollercoaster. I hate it a lot. And mornings aren’t my thing, and neither is this cold yucky weather.
Enter my friend Rachel.
Rachel is my funny, thoughtful, list-wielding, introverted friend who never forgets anything. She is the person responsible for me wearing skirts and cardigans. Yes, so I totally stole her wardrobe ideas
. She loves Anthropologie, good wine, and delicious food. She loves books, musicals, coffee, chickens, and gardens. She can’t stand inefficiency (Pickle, pickle, bun, bun—-inside joke there), large crowds (especially festivals), or people who steal her hand soap.
Actually, the first time I met Rachel, she DID forget something, and that was to order some chinchilla food for me(she worked at a feed store). I think that was the only thing she has forgotten in the ten years I have known her.
So with all that mess going on today, I was feeling low. Just snake-belly low.
Then she brought me an estate sale find. A vintage Neiman Marcus coffee mug covered in……mushrooms. I love mushrooms and I love owls. I now have mugs with both! It is strikingly similar to my other favorite mug: Bonus points for the inside of the mug being a perfect shade of a mushroom cap or perhaps a nice mushroom bisque.
Now today has become a “Boo-Yay-Yay” kind of day thanks to an extracted piece of grass and a dear friend who knows me all-too-well!
Much love to my friend who thinks about me at yard sales and brought a little bit of sunshine to me on this cold and dreary day!
For another post about a shared adoration of owls, mushrooms, and snails, head on over to Rachel’s blog post she wrote last month.
See you later, friends! I’m off to make some nice hot coffee in my ‘shroom mug….and hopefully tomorrow will be a lot more boring.
I have to admit, I’m nuts about my Fran. I could, seriously, have a zillion of her and just love it. She is the funniest, coolest dog I know. Please don’t tell Hoss, though….he’s a great boy, too, I just kinda wish that he were the size of Fran sometimes, lol.
Do you believe in such a thing?
Well, let me tell you about today. We picked up Ande from school and she asked us if we could stop by the animal shelter on the way home so she could show daddy some puppies that we looked at the other day. Dad agreed; Mistake #1.
We went and looked at the kittens and rabbits and daddy remarked how we needed a kitty cat around the farm. The only bad thing about cats for me is that I am allergic to some of them for whatever reason, but anyway. So, then onto the dog room; Mistake #2. Ande ran to look at the little pups we saw the other day, which look much like a Golden Retriever/Lab/Pyrenees mix and they’re absolutely ADORABLE. We talked to the dogs on that side of the run when we rounded the corner. Jason (daddy) said, “My Lord, what is THAT?”; Mistake #3, ’cause it made me look.
Well, standing no more than 7 inches from the floor was the biggest set of eyes I had ever seen in my life; and I do mean big, bulging eyes. I think I knocked Jason out of the way, squealing, “OH MY GOD!!!” I couldn’t even speak. There sat the cutest/ugliest dog I had ever seen in my entire LIFE; and I just knew that we weren’t leaving that shelter without adopting that dog. Jason kept asking, “What IS that? It looks like an alien!” Well, I was too busy blubbering over it since now, 30 seconds later I was cradling the tiny thing in my arms, and it was covering my chin in puppy kisses.
Turns out, our little ‘alien-dog’ is a Brussels Griffon/Petit Brabecon (sp?) mix if not purebred. If you have never seen one, you are in for a treat. They have a Pug-like face with less wrinkles and a tiny nose that is shoved back into their face with these funny, long legs and adorable floppy sort of ears. Anyway, after playing with her for several minutes, we signed some papers and we’ll go and pick her up after her spay in a couple of days. I am estimating that Francesca (oh yes, i had her named in 30 seconds, no lie) is about 5-6 months old as she has most of her adult teeth. Anyway, I will be sure to post pics of her when we get some.
The thing is; I can’t understand why in the world no one would come looking for this kind of dog. They’re pretty hard to come by! Then again, you never know about people anyway. You’d think that a shelter would be the first place people would look for their pet, and it’s been a week today that she has been there. Well, I’m really looking forward to Thursday. Funny, Jason and I were just talking about dogs this morning; about the holes that my Mastiff has dug around our house (we have 15 acres, yet he is compelled to dig right beside my foundation), and about how sad it is that some people don’t take very good care of their dogs.
You can be assured that Francesca will be attached at my hip from here on out. I was just joking about the “mistakes”; I don’t really believe in mistakes, anyway! I think that there was a reason we went into that shelter today, and saving Francesca was it. True, no one NEEDS another dog, but maybe Francesca needed us.
Looking forward to Thursday!
BTW, there are some of the cutest little dogs at the Klein Animal Shelter, Jacksonville, TX. Including those little pups I was telling you about, a little SUPER CUTE Rottie mix pup, an adult Brindle Great Dane mix that wants to lay on you, and the most gorgeous Doberman. Well, the Dobie needs some good food in his tummy, but he is HUGE and will fill out really well and seems to be quite sociable. Just FYI…