Meet Hank!

Kenny, Dolly, and Reba have been adjusting well. They have come to accept Curry as their boisterous, playful guardian and weathered thunderstorms (lots of them!) with courage. I did realize, after the zillionth storm, that I needed to move their shelter. It was not drying out between rains and I worried they would get sick, so my hubby and sons helped me relocate it to the other side of their pen. It was a good decision and there new south-facing location, plus a plywood platform on top of cinder blocks, has resulted in a nice, dry shelter even after the heaviest of rains.

Anywho, a couple of weeks ago, I got a text from the woman who sold our first three goats to us. She had a whethered male she needed to sell, and thought I might be interested since he and Kenny used to hang out together.

Me, texting my hubby: Honey, can I buy another goat?

Hubby: Do we have room?

Me: Yep, not a problem.

Hubby: That’s fine.

With which I jumped up and down, squealing to my kids, “We’re getting another goat!”

The next day, we brought home a sweet, blonde boy.

Meet Hank!

Yes, he is named after Hank Williams, Jr. 🙂
Look that that lovable face!

Hank is so sweet. He is a big eater and has learned to climb on top of the hay in the feeder to get his fair share! He was shy at first, but now realizes I come with treats so he warmed up quickly. I love to scratch his chin and give him a good belly rub. He has a very distinct, throaty bleat that makes him sound a little annoyed. Ha!

Adding him to the mix was interesting. He is bigger than the other three and Dolly, who was the original alpha and loved being in charge, promptly head-butted him in the side when he entered the pen. Apparently she wanted to make it clear that he wasn’t to try to usurp her authority. Even Kenny, our little guy, has given Hank a few solid head-butts when it’s meal time!

So, I felt a little bad because the other three basically formed a clique and made Hank work hard to join it. For the first 2 or 3 nights, they slept snuggled together while he slept alone. Poor guy.

And then there was Curry. He had finally stopped chasing the goats, but Hank’s arrival was more than he could resist and he regressed a bit. I caught him driving the goats behind their shelter and pulling on their tails with his wagging away, so back on the other side of the fence he went until he remembered his manners. He wasn’t trying to hurt them and obviously wanted to play, but they protested loudly! I can’t say I blame them. Thankfully, it only took a few days and now they are all buddies.

Everyone is getting along great, now. The goats sleep together in a warm, furry heap and Curry has learned to be gentle. Our little herd is complete and we are dreaming of what is next. I bought harnesses and plan to work with the goats so I can take them into the woods and let them clear out some of that underbrush. Maybe we will build a nice barn back there at some point and fence more acres in, but right now I’ll take any excuse to be outdoors in this glorious and unseasonable cool weather. If it means putting goats on leashes, I’m in!

Goats on leashes…now that should be interesting.

Meet the Chickens!

For several weeks, our dream chicken coop has been under construction on the edge of the Shadow Wood.

As I watched from my vantage point at the kitchen window, I imagined the happiness of looking out and seeing our fluffy girls pecking around against the green backdrop of a Tennessee Spring.

As their cozy coop and run took shape, a friend called to tell me her neighbor needed to give away six one-year-old hens who were great layers. It was an easy yes.

So, once the coop was almost complete and ready for occupancy, we picked up our hens!

Ashton, our gray tomcat, is fascinated and little bothered. He just lays there in the straw, watching and waiting. But their coop is predator proof. He doesn’t have a chance.

In keeping with our tradition, the hens were given names. My daughter can tell them apart. Me? Not so much. But the names are fabulous and worthy of their surroundings!

Have you ever seen a chicken chapel? Is it not the cutest thing? We are waiting for the steeple (YES it has a steeple!) to be installed after which I will reveal the name and more details of how it was designed.

So without further adieu, I give you the names of the chickens of Arundelle Green:

Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy (any Hamilton fans out there?)

Marianne, Margaret, and Elinor (of Sense and Sensibility fame!)

Two Plymouth Rocks, two Rhode Island Reds, and two Buff Orpingtons.

And they are lovely.

Lovely chickens with tiny little brains whose sounds and habits make us chuckle.

Plus eggs.

The golf ball is a trick I learned from my sister-in-law. It tells them where to lay the eggs.

From the very first day, they have laid eggs for us, 4-5 per day. Delicious, farm fresh eggs gracing our breakfast, and sometimes dinner!

Happy hens. Happy family. Happy farmlife.

And there is more to come. I really can’t believe I get to do this.

Y’all come visit and I dare you not to want to start your own little farm!

It’s a beautiful life here, at Arundelle Green.

Miracle on the Farm

After two days of freezing rain, we awakened to a beautiful snowfall. Hoping to break out the sled (for the first time in many years) I trekked out to explore and take some photos of ice-covered branches and the animals excitedly traipsing about, oblivious to the cold.

I walked near the pond, hoping to capture the beauty of Arundelle Green blanketed by six inches of snow. 

I looked off to the right, raising my phone to take a picture, when I heard a crumbling sound.

In slow-motion I turned to see my dog, Clara, in the water. She had stepped out onto the ice, having no idea that it couldn’t hold her weight. Clara’s eyes were huge with fear as she frantically paddled and tried unsuccessfully to get a grip on the ice and pull herself out.  I was alone and knew there was not time to run for help.  She would not survive.  I called her name, wishing she had fingers to grab a branch, and tentatively stepped into the water as I thanked God for Muck Boots. One, two, three steps and I could almost reach her. With my arm outstretched as I prepared to grab her, I focused on her face, willing it to stay above the surface. The frigid water was getting deeper and starting to pour into my boots. One more step and the pond-bottom dropped off, throwing me sideways and up to my waist in water.  I managed to get hold of one of her front legs as I fought for footing, and hoisted her with all my strength to solid ground. Somehow, I managed to climb out of the pond as my legs went numb and my daughter came running, having no idea what had just happened. I screamed for her to get her dad as I fell again.  My legs felt foreign and I realized I was dangerously cold.  My husband came out of the house, confused, and I told him what happened.  He had just donned winter clothes to come join in the fun. He grabbed my shoulders to help me walk as we turned to locate the cats who had come out to join us, expecting they were following closely behind.

Then, our beautiful black cat, Rosa, dove into the pond.

In what felt like a slow-motion nightmare, she dove in, pawed at the surface for a moment, and disappeared.

My mind went numb as my daughter screamed.  I cried out to Jesus, begging for mercy. I told her to go inside because I did not want her to see her cat die and watched my husband tread into that frozen water, desperately scooping at it as all hope vanished.  Minutes passed. I begged him to come out, afraid he would get frostbite or worse, knowing there was no way she was still alive.

I couldn’t even cry. I just kept whispering, Jesus, please.

Yet my husband persisted. He turned in circles, splashing everywhere, trying to find her. My son came out of the house and ran down to help. I went to try and comfort my devastated daughter, when my son came running up and said they had found her.

She was alive.

As my husband searched the pond she came traipsing across the bridge from the other side with a bird in her mouth. She was wet, but fine.

She was fine.

There was not a second set of paw prints to tell us where she got out.

We all saw her jump in, but no one saw her climb out.

And I am just going to say, right here, that I believe God heard our cries and miraculously transported that stupid cat to safety with a bird in her mouth, no less, because He knew the limits of trauma my daughter could bear and He knew we needed this.

He knew and I am so thankful for His mercy.

This photo was taken before all the drama. I can assure you I was not trying to take pictures with frozen fingers!

The cat is fine.  The dog is fine.  My husband and I spent the rest of the day shell-shocked and exhausted, but we are fine. 

God…He cares about the little things.

He was right there with us.

Everything was in place to allow the events to play out so God could remind us that there is a very real supernatural plane that we have yet to comprehend. He defies space and time and, today, we witnessed it.

I am in awe of the ramifications of this reality. Today, the veil was very thin. 

I am so grateful.

So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (HCSB)

Dreaming of Spring

We are well into January and blazing toward February as I write this. Here in Tennessee, Winter has really just begun. We’ve had a couple of pretty dustings of snow, just enough to make us wish for a “big one” so we can get some use out of our long-neglected sled, but my affections are quickly turning toward Spring.

I ordered a seed catalog that should arrive any day now, and found myself saving egg cartons and dreaming of seed packets this past week. It’s still a bit early to start seedlings but the itch has begun.

Ducks moved into our ponds the other day, gliding gracefully across the ripples water and bringing life to the dormant winter-scape. Flocks of birds have danced overhead, noisily visiting the Shadow Wood and congregating on the front field as they peck away among the brown grasses that stopped growing months ago. I realized I need to refill my bird feeders. I’ll do that tomorrow.

The kittens have become cats and claimed our back porch furniture as their napping spot. When it gets below freezing they retire to the pool house garage via the doggie door where a brooding lamp beams down on their bed for warmth. I’ve spent some time in the shop, learning a few things about power tools and what not to do when building simple furniture…

but that will be a discussion for another day.

I’m ready for Spring.

I’m ready for the dormant to burst open green and flowers to hang heavy on their stems. I long for crepe myrtles and hydrangeas in full bloom along with daffodils and hyacinths scenting the air with their magic. I yearn for a basket full of tomatoes and peppers, green beans creeping up their trellis and okra sliced ready for roasting.

We are in that long, dull stretch of Winter that can feel depressing, the season in which we find ourselves seeking sunlight and dreaming of a beach vacation because our bodies are craving Vitamin D. But it won’t be long. Just a few weeks from now we will see the beginnings of the change and find ourselves emerging from the hearth to greet the sunny mornings barefoot amidst the birdsong that will soon fill the air.

It won’t be long, now.

Awaiting Arrival

I recently talked to a girl about some goats…

when I got off the phone I squealed in excitement. She has several females due in January and we are on the list for at least two!

It’s happening! At last!

Then I looked out the window toward the Shadow Wood and my heart raced fearfully just a little. After all, I have no idea what I am actually doing. What if I fail? I’ve only had dogs (and now cats) and, of course, have raised several children but ,lets be honest, nothing is as easy at it seems on YouTube or in those how-to books. (Again…I have children. I can assure you, after almost twenty-one years of motherhood, the parenting books LIE.)

So I did what any nervous wanna-be mini farmer would do. I made a cup of coffee and looked up cute videos of baby goats.

Because, y’all, baby goats.

My daughter with one of my brother’s babies back in July.

Before long I felt better. I remembered watching my nieces handle the animals on their farm. I reminded myself of how much laughter those sweet creatures induced. My youngest niece, at only six years old, is in her element among these gentle animals. I began to imagine goats grazing the land between Autumn House and the Shadow Wood and recalled another important fact–that five teenagers have survived my parenting. Five.

I’ve got this.

Then I thought, “Hmmm, maybe we should also get a miniature donkey.”

I might be crazy.

Decisions, Decisions

We made the drive out to Shelbyville, Tennessee on a crisp November morning to pick out stain, doors and knobs for our soon-to-be-built bookshelves.

My fourteen-year-old son sat in the back of my Ford Explorer, long legs stretched out in front of him from his chosen spot in the third row with the second rows seats folded. I complained that I felt like a chauffeur with him sitting all the way back there, but he didn’t bend. “I like it back here so I can do this,” and he somehow stretched those growing legs even longer.

Continue reading “Decisions, Decisions”

About Jeanine

A full-time mom and home educator, Jeanine has spent much of her precious free time immersed in books and the occasional art project. She loves sunsets more than just about anything and Autumn is her favorite season of the year. She now resides at Arundelle Green in the heart of beautiful Tennessee with her husband, children, two dogs, and two cats…so far. She is also author of the novel, Paper Dolls: Trust Your Instincts as well as an editor for Foundling House. She has contributed chapters in various compilations and has had pieces published at The Rabbit Room and Foundling House.