So. I started this post weeks ago. . .and am just now publishing it. I think this will be a common thing for me in the world of blogging. Even since writing this post our family has had more adventures, more stories to tell. Maybe someday in the future I can keep up with our current events but for now if you feel inclined to raise an eyebrow at timeline issues in my posts. . .That eyebrow would be rightly placed. 😉
We have only lived on our new property five months and have already done many things. We had planned on getting chickens as our first ‘farm animal’ and waiting until spring. However, my aunt’s dog had three puppies and she asked me if I would like to “put my name on one”. Mike and I talked at great length and weighed all the pros and cons. We finally decided that this was a really amazing gift and that we would scramble to get ready for our new fur baby to come. Over the next few weeks I planned and researched and asked my Aunt a million questions. We finally decided not only was this an outside dog (which I’ve never had before) but also being that he is a livestock guardian dog, he needed a friend to guard. I pictured him so lonely out there all by himself and knew I’d be tempted to bring him inside. Have you ever made a decision in the moment that created a new problem to solve and then another and then another and then another? Because you just don’t know enough? That’s pretty much where this dog decision landed us. So my Aunt drove 5 hours to our home and brought an alpaca with our new puppy. In her minivan.
Meet Hadwin, half Anatolian Shepherd – half Great Pyrenees. We named him Hadwin because when I was going through a really rough time in my 20s my husband (boyfriend at the time) bought me a teddybear and named him Hadwin meaning “your friend in battle”. I think it’s perfect for our homestead guardian dog. His job will be protecting the livestock and chickens and our family. Pretty much anything we feed. (Isn’t he just the sweetest little guy??!! Well little for now. He will grow to be around 120-150 pounds depending which “half” he favors.)
We spent about a month getting ready for them. We have a small pasture with high solid fencing that was FULL of weeds. We had done no weed management this year because we figured it would all die in the winter and we would start fresh in the spring. Now that we had animals coming to stay this overgrown weed situation quickly became a regret. Our pasture also has a small building that we knew would be perfect for them for the time being. They need to be locked up at night until Hadwin is big enough to fend for himself. The building formerly housed a calf and the floor was covered in manure. So I learned how to use our new gas powered weed eater. That thing is intense. It makes me feel very small.
I also learned out to muck out a ‘stall’. The hubby and the kids helped out.
Then Mike built a dog house from scratch. He has never done anything like that before and I’m so proud of him for figuring it out. It’s amazing! He double insulated it and a put a partition inside so Hadwin can get completely out of the wind if need be. He shingled the roof and put it on hinges so we could lift it to clean out the doghouse. The kids and I had a great time painting it to match our home. Then we ran into a little challenge. ITS SO HEAVY. Our neighbor came over with his skid loader and moved it to the pasture for us. We are so grateful!
We also needed straw for bedding and had waited until last minute to find some. Fortunately a neighbor of our had added us to a mailing list for a local farmer who sells produce. I emailed him and asked him for some vegetables and jam and if he happened to have any straw for sale. Not only did he have some but when he found out I was going to try to put it in my minivan with the kids he offered to drop them at my house and from my description knew which house was ours. It turns out a teacher of his used to live here. I can’t say enough how refreshing it is to be surrounded by people who are caring and generous and look out for each other.
So here we are! Proud new owners of a dog and an alpaca. My kiddos are in heaven. Well, sorta. It just so happens that puppies and little kids don’t really mix. The combination of all the puppy teeth and high energy filled children has been kind of a nightmare. I have been homeschooling, learning out to manage our property, and now training a dog. Oh my heavens.
Remember that thing I said about making a decision that created a problem to solve. . .and then another? Well Truman ate all the grass. So now he grazes in the next pasture over which happens to be alpaca proof but not puppy proof. We are in theory supposed to keep them together constantly so they will bond to each other. We also plan to turn the little pasture building into a chicken coup in the spring. So we are now working on our barn and puppy proofing the pasture behind the barn so we can move the boys over. I’m concerned about Truman being the only alpaca since he is a herd animals. Since getting him I have heard of alpacas getting stressed from loneliness and dying. We were hoping Hadwin would fill this void for him until we get another alpaca next year but since I’m not sure, I am driving down to MO to pick up a second from my Aunt. That will be an adventure! After moving him to a different pasture during the day I learned that hemp is poisonous for alpacas and we have it growing as tall as trees EVERYWHERE. I have spent what seems like hundreds of hours chopping it down and hauling it to the burn pit. Weed. Another reason for moving the boys to the barn is Hadwin is growing and getting more restless at night. (31 pounds at 14 weeks) He, by nature, is nocturnal and will want to keep watch at night. We would love for him to have a little more space at night and maybe he won’t torment the alpaca so much when he gets bored. We also think that it will be a little more enjoyable to spend time with the animals in the comfort of the barn when it’s cold outside. We want the kids to be involved with taking care of them.
So more projects! My Dad came out to build some fence with Mike. My Aunt and Uncle helped us clear SO MANY YEARS WORTH of manure and bird waste. Mike ripped out a bunch of plywood from the stalls to open up the barn. He has been putting up gates and I’ve been power-washing the spiderwebbed NIGHTMARE. There are doors to build and hang, and a loft to clean to manage the hay and straw, (There’s a difference between hay and straw. Did you know that?) and more weeds to clear. We need to build a hay feeder and repair part of the barn roof. Mike also felled a huge black walnut tree that was growing over the barn. We are running out of daylight and since we still have a baby in the house (18mo old) it’s hard for both of us to work on projects together. Usually I’m home all day with the kids, we do a quick dinner and he runs outside to do projects requiring daylight. This has been exhausting for both of us. Winter is coming! The days are turning colder and I’m so thankful that Mike is almost done with our major outdoor projects. He has been working so hard and still helps out with dishes and kids and taking care of our fur babies. I am the most blessed girl. 🙂 This is the part where I end my post by wrapping it up in a way that sounds good and flows well. Instead I’m just going to hit publish and go to bed. This mama is T-I-R-E-D. Tired.