Meet the Goats!

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.

Blessings, from Arundelle Green.

Meet Curry!

Even though I built a sturdy shelter for our soon-to-arrive goats, I have been a little nervous because we have an abundance of predators out here. Most are nocturnal, but not all. There have also been spottings of coyotes during daylight hours, as well as reports of big predators like mountain lions (though we are not in the mountains, but close enough) and an occasional stray dog that could take down a small animal.

My husband and I pondered the possibility of a livestock guardian. We had a German Shepherd who passed away two years ago, and we missed our big boy. After a little research we decided a Great Pyrenees mix would be a good fit for our burgeoning mini-farm. I searched Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and the local animal shelter for possibilities. Great Pyrenees puppies are expensive, so I was hoping to “catch a bargain,” so to speak.

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a photo of a beautiful Pyrenees that had been taken to the animal shelter. A stray. I thought, “Oh, what a pretty dog,” and went on with my day. After all, he would surely be claimed by his owner.

Surely.

The next day my oldest daughter went on a day-date with her boyfriend to the animal shelter. She texted a short video of a dog, declaring it to be the sweetest dog who was the only one not barking (a definite plus!) and I recognized him immediately as the dog I had seen online the day before! He was still there.

The following day was a Saturday, so I hauled my three youngest to the shelter to see if he was available and how he interacted with them. My son, who is 14, was excited because it was his turn to name one of our pets and he already had a name in mind. Davis is a huge basketball fan, and Steph Curry is his favorite. It was an easy choice! We walked up and down the rows of cages until we found him.

Love at first sight.

As we loved on this sweet boy, a volunteer saw us and approached with a smile. We told him we were looking for a livestock guardian, that the dog would live outdoors with goats. He nodded and said this dog would be perfect for that job. He told us they get Pyrenees through there all the time because people don’t realize how much this breed needs to work, so they get bored and run away. After a while, owners get tired of chasing after them and give up.

We had to wait a few more days, in case someone claimed him, but no one ever came. They asked us to bring our little dogs to the shelter to meet him on neutral ground, and it’s a good thing because Clara and Hollie were not exactly welcoming. After much growling and snarling (from the little dogs…the Pyrenees just wanted to play!), we welcomed home the newest addition to Arundelle Green!

Meet Curry!

The volunteer offered to take a photo…and Curry was so excited he gave me a big hug!

Curry spent his first week home in a cone because he had been neutered and wouldn’t leave the incision alone. He handled it like a champ, though, and is now cone-free. He had his first vet visit and it turns out he is still a puppy! She estimates he is 10-12 months old and still has some growing to do. At 79 pounds already, he is going to be a big boy!

We love him.

He is, indeed, a perfect fit.

And now to bring home the goats…

It’s a flurry of fur and happiness 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)

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.