Posted in Raised by a village

Back to our regularly scheduled program

“Tell me about your exercise routine” my doctor said a few months ago.

I said, “I do farm-fit. It’s like cross fit, but it involves wrangling goats, hauling 5 gallon buckets of water, and 50 pound bags of chicken feed.  It’s a great mix of cardio and strength training.” 

She laughed and asked, “So are you walking regularly too?” 

“Sure, I walk to the barn, to the mailbox, and I do tai-chi and goat yoga.” 

This is where she paused.   I don’t think that there’s a spot on the healthcare intake form in the system for “livestock lifting” or “murdering chickens”. 

Just ask my niece and nephew who visited from California last week, and they’ll tell you that a nap is required after mucking stalls, planting corn and catching goats for hoof trimming. A cousin asked me if they were here on vacation or in need of a place to do community service.  

I loved having them here. They are funny, bright and growing into wonderful young adults. They ate whatever we put in front of them, including the tofu mushroom spaghetti with Jim’s homemade pasta. 

We went ziplining, hiking, visited family they’d never met, sang along to the radio and laughed at jokes that only we thought were funny. 

When I dropped them at the airport departures this morning at 6 a.m., I saw a soldier hugging his little girl goodbye as he headed prepared to travel back to a base or his next duty station. Cars jostled for a spot next to the curb to quickly let their passengers out to run for the security line. Amid the noise, I tightly hugged my niece and nephew one last time, fighting back the tears, and I caught a security guard watching me hug these two precious 6-foot tall people that looked like me. I waved goodbye, wished them safe travels, with the words “I love you” lost among the whistles from the guards, the roar of the bus engines, and the smell of exhaust fumes.  I realized that this is just another day at the office for the security guard. Like an announcement “we now return to our regularly scheduled program.” With that, I merged into traffic to join the other drivers, knowing that more often than not, our greatest blessings are people we call family. 

 I drove to the office to find myself the first one in my department and a day’s work ahead. By 9 a.m. I was punchy, and my 4 a.m. coffee was gone. One Dr. Pepper and a honey bun kept me going until lunch. 

Late in the afternoon, I arrived home to take a quick break before heading to the barn to give Bert, Ernie and Steve their CDT shots, and to check the latest challenge of #vittlesvault verses racoon; the raccoons managed to get the lid off again and only ate a handful of cat chow. 

Jim and I took some grain to Bert and Ernie since they are now living in the bachelor pasture with Steve and Sam, separated by two electric fences from the nanny goats. At four months old, Ernie is quite amorous, and we don’t need another round of babies this fall.  

In the pasture, I knelt to pet Bert and he climbed on my back. So, this is normal for me: something new and silly with my goats.  Jim laughed as I demonstrated balancing a goat in two yoga poses. Earlier, when I said that I do goat yoga, I meant that I stand in the pasture and do yoga while the goats and donkeys stare at me. This is a whole new expirament with a little goat who back in February was floppy, unwanted by his mother, had to be tube-fed 4 times per day, and slept in a laundry basket.

Tips:

1. Remember,  before starting any new exercise program, consult your doctor…she may not have a box to check “goat yoga with a real goat”. 

2. Stretch and be sure that you are comfortable balancing your 20 pound goat.

3. Wear comfortable attire, preferably barn boots and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. I have one pair of leggings that I wear to give shots.  So of you would like to see me do goat-yoga wearing your products, let me know!

Note, goats do not take cash for chiropractic, reiki or massage therapies. But the farmer does!

Pretty good for only 4 hours of sleep.

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Posted in Raised by a village

I Know a Guy

When you live in a small rural town, you tend to know a lot of people. Growing up, my cousin’s late husband, “Big Bill”, used to tell me, “yeah, I know a guy…” and I thought that he only had one friend.  Since he grew up in New York,  I thought that he just didn’t have an opportunity to get to know a lot of people because it’s such a big place. He would laugh when I told him that I knew people too.  When I say that I know a guy (or gal), it’s someone I will recommend for farm services….not like Big Bill inferred.  I know a guy who hauls logs, one who will deliver mulch,  one who will trim donkey hooves, and one owns a wrecker service. 

My brother had to call the wrecker service when he discovered that his brake line was bad, thus he needed the rollback to pick up his truck to be serviced.  I arrived home, sat on the front porch and watched as a rollback from the local wrecker service got stuck (up to the axle) in mud.  After 5 inches of rain in three days, there’s no question that the ground would be saturated.  Unfortunately, the rollback driver backed through softer-than-expected ground and was mired.  The driver called the owner (who happens to be named Billy) o bring the wrecker. While we waited,  I introduced the rollback driver to Bert the goat and set about feeding chickens.  I laughed at Sam the goat demonstrating his dislike of the soggy ground by staying on a wooden walkway and refusing to step into the wet grass for a treat. 

 When Billy Hampton arrived with the wrecker, I thought, “there’s the wrecker guy” as I walked over to say hello. I asked, “How’s your mama?” As he instructed his rollback driver to turn the wheel left or right, he responded and I said, “Please tell her I said hey.”  Apparently, it’s not uncommon to have to pull a rollback out of a soft ditch after the rain, but it’s a bit odd for me.  

A few hours later, the ferrier called to discuss trimming the donkeys’ hooves. We talked about goats, livestock, and the trouble with trimming hooves on mini donkeys. Like many people, we keep mini donkeys as guard animals for the goats. Donkeys, including miniature donkeys will kick a coyote or other predator in the head to kill it and protect livestock. Kicking is their natural, instinctual defense, so if they don’t like pedicures, they will kick the ferrier in response. Sure, donkeys are cute,  but they are accurately dangerous. I’ll trim goat hooves all day, but if given the choice, I’d rather a professional trim the donkeys. 

We’ll help the ferrier by sedating the donkeys. It’s a good thing that I know a vet (who is not a guy)! Next, I’ll need to call a guy about gravel for the driveway….any recommendations?

Posted in Raised by a village

The Adventures of WWMLP

A few weeks ago, I stayed overnight with a friend for logistical purposes. Her daughter Ali, gave me her favorite toy, a Wonder Woman action figure and a My Little Pony toy with a purple mane. To me, these two little figurines are like the widow’s coins; they may seem like trinkets, but they represent a great treasure. It’s one thing to receive a gift,  it’s something special to be given a favorite toy by a 5 year old.  

Ali wanted me to have a toy in case I got bored. The past few weeks have been far from boring.  Between hospital visits, healthcare navigation, work, farm life, new baby goats, a car accident, my own trip to the emergency room, and a few UMW presentations and meetings, life has been topsy-turvy.  In the midst of it all, Wonder Woman (#WWMLP) and My Little Pony have adventured into the world.  They’ve been to my office, walked on the nature trail, saved a cat-toy from peril, helped install new packages of honeybees, helped me with a sermon, and they were in my backpack when I was in a multiple-car accident on my way to work.  

No, I’m not placing my faith in an action figure that was conceived by a man in the 1940s. During this stressful time, these little toys remind me to take a break from my spreadsheets, to be connected with my coworkers, friends and family, to do something silly, to be brave, and to be faithful.  I believe that Ali’s gift of her favorite toy was a visible example of how God gave the world His son Jesus.  


I am in the early stages of photojournalling the adventures of Wonder Woman and My Little Pony through Instagram #WWMLP. Just in case you grew weary of my goat and chicken stories, now, you can look forward to the adventures of a Wonder Woman action figure and a purple-maned pony.  There will still be plenty of farm stories….now with an action-figure side-kick. 


Posted in Raised by a village

Ribbons and Sand

I see multiple prayer requests on social media. I pray for healing of loved ones I’ll never meet, and sometimes I wonder if my responses matter. I mostly blog about goats, chickens and farm life because that’s normal. It’s controllable and goats make me happy.

Recently, I sat in a hospital chapel, surrounded by a comforting silence and at a complete loss of words to pray. I cried, I sobbed,  and yet words for a prayer did not form into cohesive sentences.

At the front of the chapel, glass vases sat on a table surrounded by candy dishes filled with colored sand. Each dish contained a small plastic communion cup.  A placard instructed visitors to think of someone, and pour a bit of sand into the vase. It was a community of prayers layered in colored sands of blue, yellow, brown, white and green. On another table, colored ribbons adorned grapevine wreaths with instructions of “say a prayer and tie a ribbon on the wreath.”

It reminded me of the thousands of ribbons tied to the Freedom Bridge fence at the DMZ in South Korea at Imjingak. I could not read the prayers in Korean, I knew they represented a person. The ribbons in the chapel also reminded me of the memorabilia tied to the security fence at the Oklahoma City memorial site.

I took comfort in knowing that my support network is strong. It struck me that those sands were like the ribbons at the Freedom Bridge: ways that people reached out in a time of uncertainty to find comfort. To some, the sands were just colored rocks, but to others, they represented a way to reach out and have a tangible link to others who needed to know that they were not alone. In the moment, the sand was a visible reminder of the interconnectedness we have with each other, even when we are guarding our hearts.

Posted in Raised by a village

Date Night

Jim and I went on a date. He called it an educational field trip. Kelly chaperoned our evening drive and we dined on chicken wings and fried fish. We went to the Livestock Auction where we saw a throng of people packing the auction block, a line to the restroom, big screen televisions, and the auctioneer was on his game. 

I learned at the young age of 4 to sit on my hands, don’t point, and to pay attention. Those three rules still apply in a different way. The Cleveland County Livestock Auction was known to us as children as “Dedmon’s” or “The Sale Barn” where we took cows no longer producing milk. Now, the auction company sells cattle on Tuesdays and other livestock biweekly on Friday Nights. I do not remember ever seeing that many people packed into the auction room. 

We arrived shortly before 7 pm, much too late to get a seat, but plenty of time to get a plate of food, walk the catwalk over the animal stalls, watch animals being run in and out of the auction, and to people-watch. 

In case you’re wondering, intake of animals for sale begins around 3 pm, so arriving at 6:45 pm with a rooster in the trunk of your car will get you a nasty look, a sigh and the explanation that they have registered 400 birds and yours will be last in line to the auction….probably around midnight. That’s why Max sat in a cage in the trunk all evening…and that probably why his story to the other chickens sounds a bit like an alien abduction. 

We didn’t buy or sell anything, but Jim learned all about the Livestock Auction.

Posted in Raised by a village

Steve’s Chasing Cars

Friday morning, while wrapping up a requirements meeting with my boss and a developer,  my phone vibrated and displayed the name of Daddy’s neighbor.  I excused myself and took the call. A million things instantly ran through my head. He said, “I hate to call you at work, but one of your dad’s goats is standing in the road, he won’t move and I think he’s chasing cars. I just don’t want him to get hit.”  This man whom I’ve known my whole life and whose wife was one of my teachers, has a calm demeanor and nothing ever seems to upset him. His genuine concern for daddy’s goat and our family immeasurable.  I asked, “is it the gray one?” When the reply was yes, I thanked him, assured him that I would take care of it and would let him know of we needed anything. 

My boss and the developer, a young graduate who just moved to the area from the Midwest, looked at me quizzically. I said, “Daddy’s goat Steve jumped the fence and is playing in traffic.” They cracked up. “How often does this happed?” I replied, “it’s not the first time. We used to get calls all the time from someone saying that the cows were out. Now, it’s goats.” 

I texted daddy, “Walt just called. Steve is in the road.”   

I texted a cousin. On her way home from a meeting in town, she checked the side-ditches looking for signs of an injured goat. I went to my next meeting and received the text from Daddy, “will take care of it.”

After that meeting, I called Walt to thank him and told him about Steve the Stud and his amorous activities. Walt said, “it sounds like he’s trying to avoid the responsibility.” I laughed and said, “he just realized how many baby-mamas he has!” 

Daddy texted with, “tied Steve to a cement block at the tool shed with hay and water. Will have to do until we get new fence. Got out one too many times.” 

My co-worker, Steve,  just shook his head at the goat’s antics. 

Now, before you say, “poor Steve” let me say that I do not like tie-outs. However, in Steve’s case, he prefers it. How can we tell? He is calm and he smiled.  He lived the first 9 months of his life with his prior owner on a leash and living in a doghouse. Steve is on the other side of the fence from his ladies and seems to love the single life of a “ball and chain”. He has shelter, food, water and is loved. 
Now, we’re prepping for a new solar-powered electric fence that will house both he and Sam in temporary-movable areas for cleanup of privet and vines. 

I’m just thankful for an employer who understands that you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. In my line of work as a business analyst,  some say that it’s difficult to find the right mix of IT/business process design. You don’t always get this eclectic mix. When you ger me, it’s that mix plus volunteerism and farming. At a volunteer event over the weekend,  someone commented, “you’re real.” I may not be Santa Claus,  but yes, gentle readers, Janet is real. 

Posted in Raised by a village

He’s No Dud, Steve’s a Stud

He’s no dud….Steve’s a stud. Remember back in October when Jim and I picked up Steve the Goat for Daddy? Well, we wondered whether or not Steve was going to be good sire material. Last month, Daddy admitted that he wondered if Steve was a dud. We feared that Steve had been pushed to the friend-zone of the goat-mating world. Well, the wait is over. Just over 5 months have passed, and the first new pygmy goat was born today. A sweet little nanny, mostly white with buff highlights walked alongside her long-haired mother in the pasture at Daddy’s. 

At first, we thought that maybe a few of Daddy’s nannies were pregnant. With goat gestation around 150 days, many times they do not show signs of pregnancy until around 4 months. Today, I confirmed that all of the remaining 9 goats are pregnant and due within a few weeks. 

No, Daddy doesn’t name his goats after celebrity-figures like I do.  He names them “Spot”, “Buck” or “Number 3”. His are mostly white and black angora mixed la mancha  pygmy goats. They’re smaller goats and of course I held the first of many more to arrive. 

Yes, in our pasture, Betty White is still pregnant.