It finally happened! After years of dreaming, months of scheming, and lots of patience from my husband as we prepared our land to become a mini-farm, we brought home three of the cutest goats you’ve ever seen!
We picked them up on Good Friday, April 2. It was such an exciting day! As we got them settled in their pen, it felt surreal. My daughter said, “Mom, does this mean we live on a farm?”
“Yes,” I said. “It sure does!”
It has been a true gift to watch my kids and their friends enjoy all that we are building here. Children who have never seen a farm animal reach out in wonder as a doeling or buckling eat out of their hand or nibble on their shoelaces. Adults have called me out of the blue because they want to come play, and neighbors’ kids show up with big smiles because they were just out back with the animals.
“If you build it, they will come,” right?
God has big plans for this little farm. Plans that stretch beyond milk, vegetables, eggs and soap. Creation declares the glory of God, and I am seeing it happen here, in this place surrounded by trees, water, and blue sky. Here, where the roosters crow in the distance as cattle noisily greet the dawn from across the road. Here, where animals teach us how to get along, cats and dogs playing together as the goats learn to trust their new protector and the barnswallows fly about just overhead. It seems metaphors are leaping out all around me these days, and I believe God will give me much to share with you. So, without further adieu, I would love to introduce you to the goats of Arundelle Green…
As if our goats weren’t enough to be excited about, work is well underway on our most incredible chicken coop! It is going to be a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that will surely be the backdrop of many portraits and picnics. It is nearing completion and our hens will come home shortly after. I will be back to share photos when it is finished.
Have a wonderful day! If you need me, I’ll be out back with the goats.
As I stepped outside this morning to gauge the temperature my senses were assaulted by the sounds of hundreds of birds singing joy from the Shadow Wood. One perched nearby seemed to be proclaiming, “hello, hellooooo!” as the geese glided gracefully across the pond. A chilly early spring breeze blew strong, threatening to topple the potted plants I had just placed on the side porch to reintroduce them to the outdoors once again after spending winter inside.
Sometimes I pinch myself. I can’t believe I live here.
It’s been eight months since we moved to Arundelle Green, so this is our first experience with Spring on these eight acres. I was working in the goat pens just yesterday, preparing shelters for our doelings and buckling who will come home soon, and noticed the tree that was lucky enough to be enclosed within the fencing is loaded with buds.
From what I can see, it looks like the flowers will be white.
I have been consumed with preparations for the mini-farm we are building. It has been a true source of joy to wield power tools as I built a simple three-sided shelter and converted a dog kennel into a safe nighttime haven to protect our kids from coyotes. We are also on the hunt for a Great Pyrenees mix to grow up alongside the goats as their friend and protector, and plans for the chicken coop are coming along.
With the completion of the Library my attention has turned to organizing my office. It is kind of a mess right now! There are so many random things in baskets that I don’t even know half of what is in there. I’ll probably be tossing a lot of unused and unneeded items, which will leave some shelves empty. And that’s ok. White space is healthy.
Speaking of white space…
Life at home has been incredibly busy and my days are full, which made me realize I need to simplify. Pull back. Focus on what is at my fingertips and do that well. So I did and I am. I had spent the past few months overcommitted and stretched thin. I struggled to sleep and struggled even more to focus and enjoy something as routine as a movie night with my family because the lists running through my mind were relentless. So I tore up some lists, quit a few things that were good but not best for me in this season, and intentionally created margin where I had none, space for quiet because I need to hear the whisper of God and snuggle my teenagers.
Just in time, too, for all around us Creation is putting on a spectacular show. The daffodils are in full bloom and I have been picking up potted flowers here and there to fill my side porch with color.
A mama goose is heavy with eggs and her mate stays faithfully with her, awaiting their tiny arrivals even when the rest of the flock is soaring high above. Sunsets have been spectacular, creating a golden hour that is magical.
The Shadow Wood, bare from winter, is beginning to come alive with green.
Soon, the roses will be blooming and vegetables will fill my gardens. In all these things, God speaks to me. He reminds me of the patterns of life that have been in place long before I was even born. The repetition of the seasons, the predictability of a dogwood blooming, seedlings emerging from prepared soil, echo His faithfulness and care.
I don’t want to miss any of this, and in my busyness I was becoming fearful that I would. I needed to take time to slow down and see what is right in front of me, the beauty of Creation coming alive to declare the glory of the Creator. Busyness makes me blind. Lack of margin leaves me exhausted. He says to be still, and if we are wise we will heed those words.
For in the stillness there is a breeze blowing, cattle lowing in the distance and the sound of water bubbling along the creek as the farmer down the road drops a fresh bale of hay among his flock of hungry goats. The cardinals are visiting the feeders once again and the blue heron just landed silently along the waters edge.
Beauty abounds if only we will stop and allow our senses to take it in. Spring is arriving in all it’s glory here, at Arundelle Green.
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.
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.
It’s a big day here at Arundelle Green. After months of dreaming and planning (and scheming…convincing my husband that goats = joy!) the truck arrived with wood and wire and four strong guys to make another permanent mark on the land:
fencing for the goats.
Over the weekend I hired a local handyman with a chainsaw to cut down a huge cedar stump that would have acted as a launchpad for the goats to escape over the fence. I had kicked around the idea of renting a chainsaw and doing it myself, but thought better of it after my kids’ eyes widened in horror at the thought! Good thing, too, because that stump was THICK and the cedar was so old it had hardened, making it difficult to cut.
At last the stump fell away, exposing hidden treasure. The wood was a beautiful red and the smell…heavenly. We are going to roll it into the middle of the pasture for the goats to climb on.
I put down a deposit yesterday for two beautiful doelings. One is a twin, just three weeks old. The other is a triplet who is just over a week old and almost didn’t make it because her mama’s milk was slow to come in.
But she did, and I asked my husband if it isn’t perfect that we would get the little bitty one who almost didn’t survive? Isn’t that what our place was destined for?
So, we are in major preparation mode. Besides the fence going up, I purchased the materials to build a simple run-in shelter and plan to build it next week. After that I will start gathering supplies…feed, emergency meds, etc. to ensure our doelings survive and thrive. I’m excited to have another excuse to play with wood and power tools and can’t wait to see our sweet goats grazing in their new pasture!
Right now the plan is to bring them to Arundelle Green on April 2. We will be freshly home from a trip to Dollywood (yay!) and ready to dive into life with our beautiful new girls! We even have names picked out…
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.
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.
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’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This house felt familiar from the day we moved in. It is a red brick, Colonial style, grand beauty with traditional details and just a touch of farmhouse charm to soften things a bit.
First, I set up the kitchen. (Of course.) Isn’t eating the first thing we all do in a new house? With lots of cabinets and even some stashed under the island, I have plenty of room to organize my dishes. There are also clear glass-front cabinets where I display my Mikasa English Countryside dinnerware (which was a wedding gift twenty-five years ago!) Pioneer Woman Heritage Floral dishes.
Sidenote: You will soon learn that I am a huge Pioneer Woman fan. HUGE. I love everything she produces and it takes amazing self control to not own it ALL.
It’s so pretty. And, just to keep it real, it is never ever this clean.
The dining room is adjacent to the kitchen. It is definitely the most formal room of our house, but I livened it up by placing our bright blue piano along the wall! At first I was afraid the piano was too much for this space, but over time it has grown on me and I have decided I love it in here.
Upstairs we have an extra bedroom that we designated as a guest room. I repurposed old twin beds, built by my father-in-law, that once belonged to my boys. I found the quilts and sheer curtain panels on Amazon. I just love the “granny” feel of this room. Old-fashioned and sweet.
One of our favorite features of this place is the pool house, which we quickly named “Autumn House.” In the past, we were privileged to have a garage apartment where we housed missionaries on furlough or students who needed a temporary place to stay. We are thrilled to be able to have a space for this type of ministry again.
We will also use it to host parties and events, such as outdoor concerts. It is perfect for a crowd. There have also been a few epic sleepovers!
Back to the main house…
I apparently never took a photo of our living room after the sectional arrived, so here it is dressed up for Christmas (because I can assure you, as I write this my living room is NOT photo-worthy!)
The master bedroom (below) is a peaceful retreat for us. We decided not to have a TV in there this time around, and I’m glad we did. It just keeps the room more quiet. More calm.
There are so many more pictures I could share, but I think I’ll stop here. Over time, I will come back and show you changes we make to the rooms in our home and around the land, especially as seasons change and call for freshening up of spaces.
In fact, I will need another whole post just to walk you around the land! There is a lot of work still to be done, decisions to make, and spaces to carve out and make useful for the animals we hope to bring in after Winter is over. But we aren’t in a hurry. We are home at last and grateful to wake up every morning to the beauty that surrounds us here at Arundelle Green.
Well, let me clarify that. We had a Christmas tree and all kinds of tinsel. We also received Christmas gifts and sang about Santa Claus.
But we never celebrated Jesus.
It was a purely secular holiday for us. The church tradition in which I grew up believed celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday was a sin so, we didn’t. As a child, it was all I knew but there was something deep within me that struggled with leaving baby Jesus out. I could not have articulated that at the time, but looking back I can still feel the longing, the burning in my chest when I heard “O Holy Night” or “Away in a Manger.” I would watch the Vatican’s Christmas Eve Service on the tiny TV in my bedroom, staying up late into the night as the pageantry and grand life-sized Nativity captured my imagination and I wondered what could be so wrong about it?
What could be so wrong about celebrating the birth of the Son of God?
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.