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.

The Coop, Chickens, Cats and Poop! (Not necessarily in that order)

*This post does devolve somewhat into chicken poop management, so if you are squeamish you have been warned!

What a fun experience it has been to see a vision come to life! From a Pinterest photo adapted for our needs, a gifted carpenter worked for almost a month to build a predator-proof, one-of-a-kind, beautiful chapel to house our six girls! Here it is, before the decorations were added…

chicken chapel, chicken coop, Arundelle Green, chickens, chicken run, gravel, sand

I put the final touches on today and am so thrilled with how it turned out. Apparently the chickens are, too, because they are laying eggs faster than we can eat them! I blessed my sweet neighbor with a dozen just this afternoon!

So, without further adieu…I present Fluffingham Chapel!

Now for the poop talk…

I have had a steep learning curve with this little endeavor. First of all, chicken poop mixed with mud stinks, and we have had a TON of rain. I found a solution last week, though, thanks to a friend. I lined the floor of the run with gravel, then topped with a thick layer of sand.

chickens, gravel, sand, chicken run

It solved the stink problem and has also kept their water much cleaner. (They kept splashing mud in it…and Lord only knows what else.) I have also learned I need more pine shavings in the coop than I would have thought (they really only go in there to lay their eggs and roost at night) because they poop when they sleep and it is not easy to scrape off the floor.

And it stinks. Have I mentioned how much chicken poop stinks? Much less, how much they actually poop?

Y’all.

In other news, the cats are curious, and have only slightly traumatized the chickens!

Rosa (who is pregnant and due any day!) has for the most part watched from afar. Ashton? Well, he thinks they are fun.

Sweet, pregnant Rosa. We are excited to welcome kittens to the farm very soon! (Then Rosa will be spayed…we do have our limits!)
cat, country cat, farm cat, cat in chicken coop
Ashton snuck into the empty coop while I was cleaning the nesting boxes. Bad, bad boy!

Ashton hunkers down in the tall grass or on the edge of the Shadow Wood, waiting for the perfect moment to jump out and chase them, which send them into a flapping, feathery tizzy. Poor things. (I have ordered a portable fence system to help alleviate that problem! Plus, it will allow them more freedom to roam unsupervised during the day.)

All this rambling to say, things are moving right along here at Arundelle Green. Our little farm is bustling with activity and I am just so happy. Mini-farming has brought our family closer together and created a beautiful space where stress falls away as we interact with and care for the animals all around us. Dogs, cats, goats, and chickens…it’s a rich life full of antics, snuggles, and surprises that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Speaking of surprises…those who follow me on Instagram and Facebook may know already, but stay tuned for a peek at our newest furry love!

Oh, and be sure to follow Arundelle Green on the socials! I love to share pictures and quick snippets of our days. I am also on TikTok where I post short, fun videos of the antics around here. (TikTok is something I NEVER thought I would do, but I decided to join the host of people who are #redeemingtiktok with goodness, beauty, and good clean fun). I will put links below to make it easier, or you can search arundelle_green and find me that way.

Have a wonderful day!

(Click the links below to find me on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook)

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.

Creating Space

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.

See Ashton in the corner? He is always on the hunt 🙂

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.

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)

Building Fences-because GOATS!

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.

At three feet in diameter and about four feet long, this old stump will be a perfect climbing toy.

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…

but that’s another post. 🙂

Surprise, Surprise!

Last week our pool guy came for his weekly maintenance. He is a cat lover, so he always enjoys checking in on Ashton and Rosa, commenting on how they’ve “got it good” with a chuckle. He is generally full of friendly advice and very helpful.

On this day, the kittens were exploring the yard in the unusually warm December sun. Rosa (the black cat) slowly moved among the rosebushes while Ashton (the grey tabby) was on the hunt, stalking something hiding beyond the gate.

“That one’s a boy, right?” The pool guy watched Ashton closely.

“No, it’s a girl,” I said.

“You sure?”

“Yeah, well…yeah. The lady we got them from said they were both girls. I mean, she looked at them and said they were…girls, I mean.”

You know where this is going, right?

I went into the garage attached to Autumn House, where I had spent most of the day organizing all the junk we had thrown in there back in July. Ashton followed me and I decided to, you know, take a look.

Lo and behold, there was…something, some things there that were NOT there when we brought her…it…him home!

I carried her/him outside and showed “it” to the pool guy and he laughed.

“How could you tell?” I asked.

“I know my cats!” he laughed throwing his head back. “You got yourself a tomcat!”

I’ve got myself a tomcat.

So now we have had to adjust our pronouns! Poor Ashton, he gets called she/he often and we just grin because now that we know it seems so obvious! It’s a boy, and now we have to deal with the, um, issues that presents.

So, it looks like he will be visiting the local vet soon for a little snip-snip.

Ashton in front, Rosa in back. Notice how much bigger he is? It’s all making sense now.

Bless his heart.

My Word for 2021

2020 was a year I’m certain none of us will ever forget. It was a rollercoaster of emotions: fear, dread, hope, joy, darkness, beauty and grief. As I reflect on the year I realize I learned a lot about myself.

For one thing, I discovered my problem wasn’t being too busy, though I always claimed it was.

Continue reading “My Word for 2021”