I feel like my summer days are flying by! We have made lots of fun memories this summer and I am enjoying watching my kiddos run wild catching toads and making mud soup. I think we are rounding a little corner with our sweet little family of 6. For 6 years I have been pregnant or nursing, managing littles who need constant supervision and a hyper alert Mama. Most of our fun filled family activities look more like Mike and the “big girls” having a grand time and Mom hanging back with “the baby”. Our youngest is finally able to run around outside with the big girls. We attempted a family outing to the lake to fish and it was a huge success! I almost couldn’t believe it. Even the ability to go outside with Mike to do yard work or a project has been a breakthrough for us here.
We are still learning new things every day. . .
We are learning how to be dog parents. Bjorn has been such a great addition to our family. He and Hadwin get along great and are very protective of one another. Bjorn is calm and great with the kiddos. Hadwin has learned a lot from him. ( For those of you just joining us you can read about our challenges with Hadwin here) Mike and my Dad finished off some fencing so the dogs could be back in the same pasture as the alpacas and have a ton more room to run and patrol. This gives us the option of getting them out of the chicken pasture so we can start getting ready for chickens. We moved the dogs in with the alpacas after a few weeks of slow introductions and careful monitoring and everything worked out beautifully. The alpacas are very relaxed around the dogs and seem to stick close by them when they aren’t grazing. We finally had peace here on our little homestead! And then Hadwin started showing small signs of aggression towards strangers and visitors. He has decided he is very protective of his homestead. So we have begun talking about getting him into basic obedience classes and having a trainer come out to help with some things. A few weeks ago Mike headed out the front door to work and found Hadwin greeting him on the front porch looking very proud of himself. We weren’t sure how he got out. Mike reinforced some low loose fencing and we hoped that would take care of the problem. A few evenings later Mike went out to feed the animals and the dogs were gone. They were nowhere to be found. It was a scary night and we didn’t get them back until around 11pm. They are now banished to the chicken pasture again until we can figure out how they got out. So now it’s another project and another behavioral issue to tackle!
We are learning how to be good alpaca owners. Did you know Alpacas can easily choke on grain pellets? They have a very tiny esophagus and once they choke it swells up and makes choking almost guaranteed the next time they eat so they have to wait 24 hours to get their feed again. There is nothing to be done for it either. If they choke I basically stand there and pray they don’t die. It’s very stressful! I went to visit my Aunt in MO and she helped me get a new brand of alpaca food they don’t sell here that is specifically designed for alpacas not to choke on. They love it and I have peace of mind. Mike and I are getting better at clipping their toenails and giving them vaccines. They don’t pout and avoid us for the next week after anymore either. I think they have figured out we aren’t going to kill them.
We are learning acreage maintenance. I’m trying to be patient and realize we have only been here a year and we will eventually have our systems of acreage care down to a science and it will only be a matter of keeping up with the work.
In the meantime we are overrun by weeds, a dirty pond, mud, dog and alpaca poo everywhere, a driveway with barely any gravel left, and a rabbit eaten flower garden. I can’t even explain in words the intensity of the weeds out here. Our alpaca and dog pastures are completely overrun by dock-weed, thistles, hemp, and 2 other things I haven’t identified yet. Once they get big enough you can’t mow them down or pull them out. We have run out of funds for weed spray and our big pull behind sprayer is broken and requires Mike to learn a whole new thing. So for this year it’s using our gas powered weed wacker and a tree limber one weed at a time.
To help us with some of our acreage maintenance we adopted a new family member. In the kids minds all we need to classify as a “farm” to them is a barn, a tractor, and some chickens. We are getting close! We go the ‘ol family John Deere a few months ago and are pretty excited. Mike has been learning how to do maintenance it and get it up and running. I am so proud of him for all he has learned and done.
Isn’t it so beautiful? This will be SUCH a blessing in the coming months and years. We now have a way to clear snow ourselves.
We are learning to live with our limitations. I’m tired! We have had a major heat wave here all month. Heat indexes have reached over 110 degrees. Turns out that when I walk outside and that kind of heat and humidity smack me in the face I tend to retreat right back into my air conditioned home. We hadn’t taken this kind of weather into consideration when forming a mentality of “outside projects april-november, inside projects dec-march”. So not only am I fighting the uphill battle of self motivation but now also project ending weather conditions. Sometimes we have plans on the calendar and end up with beautiful weather. It’s really hard not to cancel everything and get to work on the property. We want to keep the balance of maintaining and developing relationships and getting work done here too. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for fall in my life. Or looking this much forward to hard work either. I have a barn floor to dig out and a chicken coop to get to work on. Hopefully weather, energy, and funds all line up and we get these projects done before winter.
I’m grateful every day for our little slice of heaven. Thankful to be learning new things and for the long summer days filled with watermelon and giggling little girls. I’m trying to soak up each moment as I know they are fleeting.
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” Proverbs 16:3″