moving on and just plain moving.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

In life, we have to take the good with the bad. Today, I'm going to catch you up with what's been going on - both good and bad.

Let's just go ahead and get the awful, horrible, never good for nobody stuff over.
(I'm taking a big ol' deep breath now while I try to gather my thoughts and see through the tears...)

My husband's momma and my (sweet, smart, wonderfully witty, amazingly talented...) mother-in-law passed away. One day she was here with us and the next, she wasn't. And what a hole in our lives there is now. Whew, if only I could explain the shift that took place when she left this earth. I'd like to say now that I don't want to linger with this awfulness. I'll keep it short because I have good things to tell you about and that's what she'd want to read about. Doesn't mean the the sadness isn't crushing or that our hearts aren't broken, but we have to move on. So I'll keep all of those precious memories in my back pocket, and carry them with me daily. That way she never really feels completely gone.

Onward and upward. Thank goodness the sad stuff's over.

On to the good stuff...

One fun thing on the farm is we had our first event! Even though it wasn't anything more than having some friends (both old and new) over and watching a movie outside (via projector and on a huge screen!), it was perfect. The kiddos played with the chickens and climbed around on hay bales. It was simple and sweet - just what we were hoping for.

Another thing - the chickens! The chickens are growing and even starting to lay eggs.

Ah, who am I kidding?!

Let me rephrase that - the chickens are growing and even starting to lay egg.

Here is our first egg from our one and only layer. Hot diggity!

Yep, those lazy, good for nuthin' feathery chumps are able to live like queens and they still don't care enough to lay us an egg every now and then.

 (I know one day I'll be flooded with farm fresh eggs and I'll look back at this time as the calm before the storm, but today I'm tired and grumpy and want some durn eggs.)

Meet Veronica, the queen of the coop.

As we become more and more familiar with our goals and dreams for Greenbriar Farm, my list of things I'm so looking forward to beginning has been growing and growing. From the outdoor movie to a garden to selling eggs (haha!) to getting a couple pigs, it's a little outta control. Which, I should say, is what I seem to always gravitate toward.

I like the thrill.

I've never been the jump out of a plane kind of thrill-seeker. Or even the smash a soda can with my bare hands girl...I'm more in line with the a how many chickens can I get before I'm officially known as a chicken lady or the can I possibly sneak into this beehive without getting all suited up kinda thrill-seeker.

You know - living on the edge. And it is a thrill. But more on granny-speed side of things.

So, as I catch myself gearing up for far too many things that I simply know nothing about, but are too eager to wait for, the excitement is growing. And I just keep reminding myself of how I always seem to get myself in much too deep with big plans and more research than I have time for...

And speaking of being in far over our heads already...we are about to embark on the second craziest journey of our lives. No, I'm not talking about another baby. Law knows that's a recipe for sinking this barely-floating ship.

What I'm trying to say is that we are finally going to build a house! It's something we've talked about for years, but the time's now. As in, we have until the end-ish of June to be moved in. Yep, moved in. The home we're renting is needed when our lease is up.

"Oh, you have eight months. You'll be fine!" you say.

And I say to you, "To have plans drawn? Pick a contractor? Choose everything down to the colors and sizes of the hinges? Then to move in?"

"Yes. I'm sure it'll all work out," you say again.

And to the waiter (because, as it turns out, we're obviously sitting at a bar and you've obviously been drinking a little...) I say, "I'd like to have what they're drinking!"

*Fast forward a couple of minutes and I've chugged that Koolaid you've been drinking.*

Now I need to tell you how mush I app-rish-iate your posisive words...

(I should admit here that I'm only kidding, as I don't drink. But you seem to have been and I need that kind of optimism in my life right now. ;))

I also need to say that I kinda have this feeling way deep down in my gut that we won't be able to finish the house on time and we'll have to move in a hotel for a few weeks. Or even worse - in my parent's house.

And that don't sound too purty.

But until I know if that's for sure in the cards for us, I'll listen to you and your Koolaid drinkin' self and have hope that we can pull this all off.

Lookout, farm! Here weeee coooooommmee!!

our first blueberry season.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The season has come to an end. And no, I'm not talking about summer - I'm talking about our first season as blueberry farm owners and operators!

It was a hot, fun, sweaty and exciting one. 

Up until about a month before the season was to start and the farm was to open, we didn't know we'd be running the farm this year. 

But, lo and behold, it was time. Time for us to take the torch and carry on. Time for us to put up a tent and a table. Time for us to discover what it felt like to be farmers (I use farmers loosely...). And it went without a hitch. 

The berries started out plump and plentiful.

They stayed that way for about six hours.

Yep, you read that right! Those puppies were picked at the speed of lightning.

So many folks came out and we were overwhelmed by all of the faithful berry pickers that have loved and cherished the farm for many, many years. Some even knew my grandma. It was amazing!

And those funny little chickens were a hit!

Everyone wanted to meet the chickens. And pet the chickens. And hold the chickens. And cuddle the chickens...

*Side note here: this is my cuddliest chicken. She was so sweet and would come up and nuzzle me to love on her. I'd always oblige and we were buddies. But then..."she" turned out to be a "he" and stopped being cuddly and started being a pain. So now, let's just remember the good ol' days when Ellie was a girl and not an obnoxious, in-your-way-ALWAYS rooster.

And until you've cuddled with a chicken - don't judge. They're just as huggable as any other feathery, scaly-legged, sharp-beaked pet... 

Seriously though, we had so much fun with those sweet, fuzzy, dirty ol' chickens! 

Then we'd pick and eat those delicious blueberries and we were happy.

And isn't that was it's all about? I do think so.

So, until next summer,, drink, and love on some chickens!

See ya'll next year!

she's THREE.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I cannot believe it. 

My little lady is three. THREE.

What?! Where did the time go??

Seems like a few weeks ago, we were bringing home this squishy little squish.

I remember trying to learn her. Hearing every sound and trying to figure out what she wanted - what she needed.

And now I'm trying to keep her.

Keep her snuggly. Keep her sweet. Keep her little.

It's a battle that I'm struggling with the fact that I'll lose. I had no idea that with each feat, each triumph, I'd feel so much accomplishment...And yet, feel a lump in my throat when I see "old" pictures of her.

It's amazing how you can go from not knowing them holding the biggest part of your heart.

This girl can make me belly laugh. She can make me smile from ear to ear...

Or she can make me so frustrated that I'll wake up in the middle of the night worried that I hadn't been the best I could have been in some situation. I'll wonder how I could have done something better or if she'll still want to give us another shot in the morning. (I know - it's not like she has a choice; she's kinda stuck with me...but it's in the middle of the night. And middle-of-the-night-thoughts don't always make lots of sense...)

But as amazing as she is to me, how could I not overly think most every move I make?

I tell her all the time that she's my best girl. And she tells me, "And you're mine best momma."

Don't know how I got to be the lucky momma to this sweet soul, but I sure am thankful for her.

And now she's a rootin' tootin' little lady.

I mean, she's not a baby anymore. Not even a toddler.

She's a lady.

I may even go as far to saying she's my favorite lady.

She is the reason for me being a chicken-loving/barefoot-wearing/lard-cooking/blueberry-farming/beekeeping momma. 

She has shaken my world, rocked my socks, and made my heart so very happy. 

I don't think I could ever be thankful enough for her and her sweet soul. 

Happy birthday, my sweets!

the swarm and a rumpelstiltskin jig.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

You know when something happens and you immediately think "I'm gonna blog about this!"? Well that something happened today. So here's the blog all about it...

Today was going to be a quiet day - a day to clean, hang out, and be generally pretty lazy. After the last few weeks of madness, we needed a boring day.

But we all know what happens when we plan for a day of rest...

So, just after noon, we headed to the farm to feed the chickens our juice-making scraps. We didn't expect to see anyone there, but, as all "my day started out so lazy..." stories go, we were wrong. We did see someone. In fact, three someones - Abby Baxter, her son (the cutest little thing you ever did see), and a friend of theirs.

And the timing couldn't have been more perfect! See, Abby and I had been meaning to get together for weeks, but it just hadn't happened yet. (Sometimes life is busy and you just gotta roll with it, man.)

I probably need to insert here that Abby and her family are beekeepers. And not just any beekeepers - rad ones. Beekeepers that have lived on a bee sanctuary and keep the bee's best interests in mind at all times. In a nutshell - the kind of beekeepers we could use a little more of around these parts. 

Why was the timing perfect, you ask? Because of this...

What the heck is that?!

Yep, that's what I thought too. Turns out this mass of bees hanging on the bottom of my largest hive was a swarm. As in new, free bees in need of a home. These puppies had come from who-knows-where and placed themselves so sweetly and conveniently at the "feet" of another hive.

Abby comes up to the hives and we start talking about this swarm. She graciously says she'll go pick up her husband, Greg, to capture the swarm and put in a new hive box for us.

(For us! Did I mention that Abby and Greg are the best?!)

Before I knew it, they were back with a spare box and frames in tow. Here's where the hard work began...

Greg, as calm as the calmest of all calm cucumbers, dipped his hand in that mass of bees (we're talking around 20,000 bees), scooped them up like ice cream, then (again, calmly) dropped them into their new home.

This process took over two hours! Poor Greg was dripping sweat from his face, but diligently and oh-so-patiently sticking to the task at hand. He was determined to re-home those bees before they flew off elsewhere.

Another note here: Somewhere, hidden deep in that swarm of bees, is a queen. That's right, one queen for a zillion worker bees. And to move the swarm, you must find the queen. Otherwise, the bees captured cannot form a colony of their own. They have to have their queen. (I mean, they can be artificially queened, but that's a different story for a different day...) So, instead of saying "it's like finding a needle in a haystack", maybe the saying should be "it's like finding a queen in a swarm". Or maybe the cool kids have been saying that the entire time. ;)

Two hours of gently moving the bees and looking for the queen goes by and the weather is starting to get rough. There were storms rolling in and, as we learned, bees don't care to be messed with when bad weather's on the horizon...

Just before the heavens opened up and pure craziness ensued, Greg and Abby decided it was a good idea for everyone to back up and allow the bees some space. The reason? To see if the queen had been moved into the new box. If she had, the remaining bees from the swarm would slowly migrate to the box. If she was still under the hive, the bees would head back out of the box to be with the royalty.

So we waited.

The rain came and we all gathered under the canopy to watch what would happen - would the swarm get all comfy in their new home or insist on being under the old hive?

While we were waiting, the swarm of bees became like a cloud in the air. It was amazing! And what was even more fascinating was what Greg did...

He went to his truck and brought back a wooden box drum with a handle. He sat beside the hives and beat on the drum for a few minutes. The cloud of bees started moving. With each beat of the drum, the bees seemed to settle.

Darn! They were going right back under the old hive. Even though they hadn't yet become cozy in their new home, at least they weren't taking off elsewhere (which was the fear).

Slowly but surely, the bees returned under the old hive.

No worries, though. Greg had a plan. He and my husband, J, would simply lift the old hive, exposing the mesh bottom board that the swarm was attached to, then shake that mesh bottom board off into the new hive.

That sounded fantastic to us. But here's where things went a little awry.

When Greg asked J for help, what I should have said was something like this, "How about I help you do that?" Those seven words would have changed this story drastically. But then it wouldn't have been so good. So confusing. So painful.

I'm going to set the rest of the story up like this: J is a pretty cool, calm and collected kinda guy. He has shoulder-length blonde hair and (nearly every day) wears khaki shorts, flip-flops and a white t-shirt.

So when Greg asked J to help pick up an entire hive, he was down with it, man.

Should we have mentioned that J didn't have gloves? Or that is legs were just so exposed? Or that his surfer dude hair was fabulously whispy? Or maybe that he had never even touched a beehive?

YES. But, alas...we did not.

Instead, J (a little apprehensively, I might say) grabbed one side of the hive and Greg had the other. Both bare handed. And bare faced.

As they lifted the hive, I hear a tiny mumble come from J. It sounded like, "I don't have it..."

And just like that, WHAP! The hive crashed to the ground. And those bees went nutty. They were furious!

Somehow, Greg stayed true to his calm cucumber-y self. It's like the man didn't even move a muscle. J, on the other hand, starts dancing a jig; jumping from one leg to the other. The man looked just like Rumpelstiltskin. (I hope so much that you know what I'm talking about...)

At that moment, I was trying to process what the heck had just happened. It had all been so calm and quiet until now. But my brain wasn't fast enough. I saw and heard it all...but I was so confused. And what do I do when I'm confused? I laugh.

You read that right. I laughed. I promise I'm not an evil wife. And I wouldn't have laughed had I known what was going on...

Then J screams, "WHAT DO I DO?!"

And I realize what's going on...he's getting LIT UP by those bees!

"RUN!!" I yelled back.

Boy does he! He first ran to one side of the field; yelping and jumping with each sting. Then he stopped running for a second, only to realize just how many bees were still on his body. A second later, after taking a sting to the lip, he starts violently head-banging; trying desperately to get a bee from his aforementioned whispy hair.

Then came the run to the other side of the field. On the way, J dropped any (and all) dignity that may have remained. With his last sprint across the field, he was a hopping and a bopping while yelling and stripping every stitch of clothing off (minus his underroos, of course) until he got to the water spigot. There, J doused himself as I picked out the stingers left behind.

After a couple of minutes, we realized how thankful we were that he wasn't allergic!

Soon everything calmed down and we look over to see that Greg had somehow turned the hive back upright and had transferred the swarm to their new home. He was like Houdini. I still don't know how he did it. One minute: panic. The next: tah dah! Done.

With both guys having been stung a several times, the minute or so of craziness probably felt like an eternity... But hey, you live and you learn.

So here was the take-away: honey bees are calm creatures unless you pick up their home and throw it to the ground...then you better RUN like the dickens!

a sad day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Today's a day I have never looked forward to. In fact, I've downright dreaded it...

I woke up yesterday to find a sickly chick in the coop. When I'd locked them up the night before, she'd been fine.

But yesterday, she definitely wasn't.

She was barely picking at the grass, somewhat wobbly on her feet, and not able to keep up with the rest of the chickens.

I was worried, so I did what any good Chicken Momma would do, of course - researched what her ailment could be and how we'd go about getting her to feeling better.

(And, as a side note, we are raising chickens as pets and pest eaters around the farm. One day, we'll eat the eggs and possibly sell some as well. But right now, they are sweet, lovey pets.)

After a little research, I'd found my first line of defense. I followed the directions and she seemed to perk up a bit.

Thank goodness, I thought. A couple more doses and she might be flying high.

I had thought about bringing her home with me last night, but since she seemed somewhat improved (and I couldn't stand the idea of stressing the poor thing out more!), so I left her there.

When I woke up this morning and went to let the chickens out of the coop, there she was; listless and pitiful.

My heart sank. I scooped her up and brought her home.

I'd read that it's a good thing to get them nice and warm, so I did what any good Chicken Momma also would do - I turned on the fireplace and we got warm together.

(Another note: Need I remind you that it's summertime? And the fireplace hasn't been on in forever? But on with the story...)

I gave her some good food and water and her own little place to rest.

I immediately felt a little relief, as she gently dipped her beak in the food-slurry-mixture and took a drink. She did that a few times, so I thought this may be the ticket to a healthy chicken.

I said a little prayer for her, then on with my day I went; checking on her every so often. I hated to leave her at all, but the blueberry field is opening this week and lots of prep work needs to be done...

Throughout the day, she seemed alright.

Then, tonight...I checked on her and she was sleeping. But not an I'm feeling so much better sleep. She was sleeping like it was almost time. Her time. To go.

I scooped her up in a towel and took her outside. I tried one more time to get her to drink. With a syringe of water in one hand and tears streaming down my face, she looked up at me one last time and passed away right in my arms.

I've never had anything like that happen before. It was so easy for her to just drift away, and so hard for me to process it all. And as I think about death being such a reality on a farm, I'm not sure it's something my heart is ready for. Just thinking about it gets those tears flowing all over again.

If only you could see my blubbering self right now...

So what? She's just a chicken. You might think. But she wasn't just a chicken. She was our chicken. And that makes her part of our family. Nobody want to lose a piece of their family.

So tonight I say:
Goodbye, Westerday! You were one cool chick. <3

feathered friends.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

So, I did it. I caved.

I had told myself that we could not get chickens until we live on the farm.

Then, one day, I decided I could have chickens. You know, if I wanted to.
Like I could have cookies for dinner... if I wanted to. (Don't worry Mom, I don't... most days.)

And then, as if I was afraid I'd take back the permission I'd given myself to move forward with my chick-y shenanigans, I called a breeder almost instantly.
(And yes, there are chicken breeders. Who knew?)

Within minutes, we were on our way to pick up our new feathered friends just one county over.

Was this a hasty decision, you ask? Yes'm.

Had I thought it through? Not really...

Where was I going to put these little chirping balls of fluff? I dunno. (And I say that with a four year old's full-shoulder/upper body shrug.)

What was I going to feed them? See! Now here, I do have an answer... You see, I had felt this bird fever coming on, so I had ordered some mighty fine chicken feed. You know, just incase. 

And what the heck were my long-term chicken goals? To have them, and hold them, and keep them forever. ;) Truthfully, I'll have to give you another "I dunno," complete with shoulder shrug. 

And, let me just tell you, I don't know who was actually more excited about our new family members - me or my little lady.

She has loved on those chicks daily! She's introduced them to the back of her dump truck, picked zillions of flowers to give to them, and even helped with the chicken chores. She is in hog (err, chicken) heaven!

And speaking of my little lady - we named each of the chicks after words she said as a baby/toddler that may or may not have had a real meaning, but she said often.

Ready for their names? Putico, Shluey, Chowpangy, Blowey, and Westerday.

The only problem is they've all turned out to be perfectly and unchangingly white. 

So, who's who? Your guess is as good as mine...

But we don't care. And they don't care. So it's all good. :)

life update.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

"We've got a busy day," says J as he hastily put on his shoes.

I just smile and nod.

This seems to be a daily phrase in my home, and that's not how this household usually rolls.

Up until now, this adventure has been a lot like how I'd imagine sailing - the water being smooth and gentle and predictable.

Like I've said before, we just go with the flow. And it's been superb.

But now...

The winds are changing. And not in a bad way, as change is part of the journey, but in an overwhelming way. It's exciting, scary, and heart pounding, but oh so fun. (But don't think I haven't had my "Holy crap, I have no idea what I'm doing!" moments.)

So, with the spring, old projects are getting a second look and new ones seem to pop up constantly.

Like this craziness - we (kinda) have started our first garden!

Or this one - we have chickens!

Or maybe this one - we are officially the owners/operators of the blueberry farm

And, last but certainly not least, we're hesitantly (and only kinda) moving forward with our dream house.

(And don't you worry your pretty little head - I have many things to say about each of the topics above. I just needed to clear my over-cluttered mind.)

To say that my tiny family has a full plate is an understatement. In fact, I have felt a little overwhelmed lately. But then I remind myself that this is just where we're meant to be. Where we WANT to be. And slowly, things will settle down and come together. Then I can breathe a little again.

Thanks for reading all of my gibberish. I only hope that you stick around to read about our precious blueberry farm...or about how gross (but so darn cute) baby chicks are...


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hello and happy spring! It's been a cold and dreary winter, so I'm happy to give it a kick in the rear while I look forward to beautiful, crisp mornings and as many cookouts as I can manage. But before I look forward too much, I have a story for you.

This story is one about our bees. do I say this gently?

They are no more. (Insert SUPER sad face here. One that's almost in tears.)

Here's the scoop:

When we had picked them up at the end of May 2014, we decided not to feed them. No sugar. No honey. Nada. The hives thrived for months. And then, low and behold, all three hives died within 48 hours of one another. Turns out we got them right at the end of what's called the "nectar flow". You know - the time of year when they are busy doing their work, making honey and all that jazz. Long story short - they starved. By the time it had cooled off outside, they had depleted their entire honey supply. It was devastating. I don't know if there's a worse feeling than knowing you are the reason for a life lost (let alone thousands).

But, on the up-side (can there be an up-side?), the president of the local beekeepers association came out to look at the life-less hives and said they looked great. No sign of disease, no infestations, but, unfortunately, also no honey.

So, after falling to my knees and shaking my fist to the heavens with a loud and mournful "WHYYY?!", I stood up, knocked the dirt from my pants and looked forward to spending another few hundred dollars on some new bees. (Ohh, the sarcasm.)

Bees that I pledge to look after.

And feed. Religiously. (Can I get an amen?)

The word on the street is we'll be picking up hungry new friends sometime in May. I look forward to it. And pray that I can give them everything they need. Because, as I've learned, a hungry bee is a dead bee. And ain't nobody got time for that.