Sunday, May 20, 2012

Farm Dog

My husband and I, before we had our son, once owned a dog named Lucy. She was perfect, or at least looking back on it now, she was the kind of dog that I wish I still had. Lucy was a blue heeler-border collie mix, smart as a whip and listened well. She was our baby before our baby. But when we moved to Japan, we gave her up, not wanting to put her through the move.

Fast forward. We bought a farm with plenty of property. Our son is almost 4 years old. And my husband works long hours and spends nights away from home on a regular basis. I felt it necessary to have a dog. I have always felt safer with a canine companion around to hear noises and bark into the night. So we searched for a dog like Lucy.

We ended up with Roan. Roan is a pure bred blue heeler. Named after her color, she looks just like a blue roan horse. A cattle dog, that lives to heard. She follows us around nosing at our heels. We got her as a young puppy. She had never seen grass before and nearly had a seizure when we set her on the lawn upon bringing her home. Roan is hyper and irritating and stubborn. She doesn't learn her lessons, she makes the same mistakes over and over. She pulls my flower bulbs out of the garden. She digs through the trash. She nearly trips you while trying to get into the house when you bring home groceries. She jumps into the air trying to get your attention, and when you finally pet her, she piddles all over from excitement. Our son cried on a regular basis from being knocked down by an over excited Roan. She is in fact everything that I hate about having a dog. Many times upon finding a favorite something destroyed, I told my husband to take her to the humane society. I spent weeks trying to figure out a way to break it to my son that Roan just wasn't working out.

We had a mole problem. Mole hills were popping up in my nice green lawn, I was not thrilled. I bought a trap, but before I could even get it in place we caught Roan with a mole in her mouth. She had sniffed it out and dug it up from the ground. A few days later we found her with another mole. Huh. I've never seen a mole hunting dog. One afternoon our pigs escaped their pen and made their way down to my neighbors pasture to graze. After trying for an hour to get them back home by myself, exasperated I looked at Roan and told her to take them home. She went to work, herding them the whole way back to their pen. With no training, just on pure instinct alone, she did what generations of cattle dogs did before her. I hated that I was impressed. A few nights ago there was a pack of coyotes in our driveway, no doubt they came for the chickens. Roan sleeps on the front porch, protecting. As I lay in bed, I could hear her communicating with the coyotes in high pitched yips. They ran away. This week we put in a garden and had 8 yards of topsoil delivered. We shovelled for hours in the hot sun spreading the dirt out. Roan was right there with us, at the top of the pile digging away, helping us.

 I hadn't noticed any misbehaving from her in awhile. She was starting to grow on me. It was like she woke up one morning in her chair on the front porch and realized that she needed to act like a member of the family. And as I sat this morning drinking my coffee in the warm sunshine, I watched as my son and Roan rolled around on the grass together and played hide and seek. I realized then that she had worked her way into our family even though we were so hesitant. Roan seems to have earned her keep. I think just maybe, if we applied a little more effort the way that she has, we just might, have us a good Farm Dog.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Good Life

Many people seemed almost shocked when we bought a piece of land in the country. They couldn't understand why we would want to build our lives around working and farm animals. It's so far from their norm and this generations way of life, that it may be hard to understand. So it got me thinking. What are our personal goals for our little farm and our way of life? There's more to it than just having animals and land. So here it is... The reason the good life appeals to us.

My Nanny often told me about life in the depression. And from the sounds of it, it sounds a lot like how most people have to live right now in order to survive and where the rest of our country is headed. My generation is a wasteful consuming monster. Buying what we can't afford, filling landfills with our waste, loading our bodies with toxic poisons and in turn poisoning our earth. Technology junkies, we are hooked at the hip with our cell phones that get fancier and fancier everyday. Obsessed with our bodies, instant gratification, greed and selfishness, and desensitized to everything our Grandmother's and the Bible warned us about. It didn't take me long when I came home from Japan to look at American culture, or what's left of it today, and be utterly grossed out. I am guilty of all of the above. I'm not at all saying I'm perfection here. But it really made me think that there has to be a better way. A way to stay healthier from the inside out. Live a simpler life, not full of SO much technology (a little is great). And do my best to provide for myself and my family without having to consume so much energy and provide so much waste. Also when you think about it, when our economy gets so bad, and eventually it will, we will have already been in the practice of almost fully providing for ourselves.

I'm sure you see where I'm going with this. It has nothing to do with politics or religion. I'm not an environmentalist. What an awful stereotype huh? In my ideal world we would lose the labels and all just be people. Non judgmental people. Living and working for the greater good. But that's for a whole other blog post. I believe everything and everybody brings something to the table of life. We all play a different role. God gave us things on this earth to use. I don't believe in waste. And he made every human being different, so that we could all provide something to humanity. I can't change the world on my own, I'm only responsible for my actions, I can certainly try to do my part.

On our farm we use what God gave us, everything we have, we use. After only living on our farm for a few months, I would say we are well on our way. Here are a few ideas of our plan to make a very small difference.

Food: Our Chickens, will give eggs to eat and sell. And our Turkeys will provide us with meat. We hope someday to raise a few head of cattle and pigs for meat. Goats will provide milk, cheese, and meat. We plan on canning everything that we grow in order to provide homegrown organic produce in the cold winter months.

Gardening: Bunnies provide organic fertilizer for our vegetable garden. And most of our household waste goes into compost bins to make fertile soil. Flowers planted on our property and around our garden attract ladybugs, that in turn feed on aphids and vegetable eating insects. Which eliminates the need for harmful pesticides. Non stinging Mason bees pollinate our fruit trees, berry bushes, and vegetable garden to assure many years of life to our plants and trees.

Extra income: To keep our farm funds going we have a few extra projects. We hope to someday clear a few acres of land and sell our timber. Mostly to folks needing firewood to heat their homes in winter. We also use our logs to build things around the farm like fences and raised garden beds. Our Pot Belly pigs produce babies to sell to 4-h kids. I plan to sell seed starts, fruits and veggies, and eggs at farmers market. And perhaps a few of my crafty projects as well.

There are so many practical reason for life on a farm. Besides the fact that it's peaceful and quiet and surrounded by all things beautiful. There's so much room for our young son to run and get dirty and be a boy. Teaching him about life and hard work will give him a hands on experience he would never get anywhere else. It's the perfect place to have big family reunion camp outs. Host large company summer picnics. Or just sit out by the fire with a cup of hot tea and a blanket, holding my husbands steady hand, looking up at the stars. Yup, it sure is, the good life.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Farm and Ranch Dream

I mentioned in a previous post my dream of life in the country. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted the life I am living right now. As a very young girl in my Nanny's sitting room, I would perch myself on her apricot colored sofa and thumb through countless articles in Farm and Ranch magazine. I could hear my Poppie's westerns playing in the tv room. My Nanny was often sitting at her sewing machine singing hymns. We would chat about what that kind of life would be like. Riding horses and feeding chickens and growing everything you ate. Even before I could read, gazing at the pictures of a simpler peaceful life became one of my most memorable childhood treasures. Nanny would quote scripture to me, saying God will give you the desires of your heart. And I believed her.

As an adult, when I came home from far away places, to visit with my Nanny, I would sit with her still and we'd read articles together. I would bake her a treat and she would always have a basket of them sitting by the sofa waiting. I kept that dream tucked inside my heart, always hoping for the opportunity to live the life I longed for. But I always ended up landing somewhere else along the way.

When Nanny died, I was sitting next to her, holding her hand. I was devastated. My world was certainly not the same. A huge part of my life was missing, and I was a different person because of her absence. It was like part of my dream had died with her and I was crushed. I couldn't pick up a Farm and Ranch magazine without crying, and so I didn't, for two years. It hurt too much to dream that dream, so I tucked it inside my heart again, only this time I walled it up tight with stone. I became angry and I often felt like "someday" would never come.

But then it happened. We bought our farm. I kept thinking it was too good to be true. So thankful was I that God blessed me with my dream. I walked my property countless times with tears in my eyes, wishing my sweet Nanny could share this with me. I sing one of her favorite hymns as I work outside, the sun shining through trees, I almost feel like she can see me. Her quilt was the first thing I hung in my new home. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her and wish she were here to see the life I live and watch her great grand-baby grow.

Recently it was my Birthday. My Poppie sent me a card in the mail to wish me a happy day. He wrote the sweetest sentiments. So special was that card, that I will keep it forever. At the bottom of the card he had written "Your Nanny would be so proud of you" and as a gift he had subscribed in my name to Farm and Ranch magazine. He may never know just how special and heartwarming his gift was. And as I read it for the first time in years, I felt like a blanket of peace was covering me. Finally some healing.

Monday, March 5, 2012


We recently added to our little farm....two piggies! Pepper and Luna (left to right) are a mini potbelly pig duo. A friend of mine was looking to find them a good home because she was moving, so we said yes, and adopted them into our little farm family. We already had a perfect sized pen close to the barn on our property, so the transition was easy. They are super friendly and sweet and love all the attention they get. We love having them around. I'm sure you will read updates about them down the road...
This is Pepper, our little boy Piggy. He is the most friendly and loves to do tricks and get loves from everyone.
And this is Miss Luna! She is pregnant with our first batch of little piglets, due in June. She sure is a sweet little girl.
Jackson loves to get in the pen and pet his Piggies. They love him!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Begining

"Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyways"~ John Wayne

For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of a nice plot of land out in the country of my very own. I wished for the kind of life that could be found thumbing through the pages of Farm and Ranch Magazine. Up until now, I have gone in every other direction.

I went to school to become a hairstylist. I married a Navy man almost 8 years ago. We moved to Japan for three years. We had a son. I raised him mostly alone. My husband was out to sea 300 days a year. It was a hard life, and it took it's toll on us and on our marriage. Although I tried to stay positive, there was a time I thought we wouldn't make it. Eventually we moved back to the US, barely in one piece. We needed some peace and a place to put down some roots and establish a bond as a couple and as a family. It's almost like starting all over when you've been apart that long. There are many more details. But you get the gist. It certainly wasn't a farm life. So this year, when my husband was given a nice long stretch of shore duty, I saw my chance and I took it.

I looked and looked until I found the right spot to settle down. A small house. On 5 acres. With a barn. You have to start somewhere. This place had so much potential and room to grow. So we bought it. And ran at it full force. In a matter of weeks we fenced the horse pasture and built a horse stall in the barn. We've been painting, installing cabinets, clearing land and cutting down trees. My son's playground and sandbox are being built and my green house is up. It's like we couldn't wait to start our lives. With each project we grew closer and tighter together. We still have a long way to go. This is what we had been waiting for. I'm not saying life will be easy from here on out, in fact it will be harder. But it will be far more worth it than it ever has been, and we're so thankful for the opportunity we have to grow together.

My writing will become more detail oriented, with plenty of pictures and recipes. Tonight as I write, I realize how afraid I was of starting over. I needed to start fresh and begin again. This is a very small step in that direction. I invite you in the following weeks or years to peak in and see just how we're doing. One project and milestone at a time. ~Happy Trails to You

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Life. Seems to me that life is often a big mess. A big mess of good and bad and beautiful. A beautiful complicated adventure. An adventure so grand that it inspires my insides. Inspires my insides to write.

I love to write. I hope someday to write a book. But until then I blog. I blog about nothing and I blog about everything. I remember, before I became a Mom I had so much more time to write. Time to write of my crazy random happenings during a somewhat ordinary day. I was creative in my writing about Life. And I liked it. Now days I'm lucky if I write one blog a month. The substance of my writing has also changed. Now I write about Life. Not the Life I had before I became a Mom. But the Life that I have now.

It's funny to me how your entire Life can change the moment that those tiny fingers wrap around yours and that tiny little pink face is looking up at you from a mass of soft blankets. The moment I knew he existed was the day my Life changed forever.

So now my Life is full of sticky fingers and dirty diapers. Temper tantrums and slobbery kisses. Sleepy hugs goodnight and happy hellos every morning. I wouldn't trade this Life for anything. And it's such a beautiful complicated adventure, that still inspires my insides...and every so often, it inspires me to write about Life.

Friday, August 13, 2010

6 Years and a Date

Yesterday was our 6 year Wedding Anniversary. We celebrated by going on a much needed date night. The city of Sasebo is surrounded by mountain peaks. Almost every peak has it's own outlook that you can drive to and view the city. One peak in particular, Mt. Yumihari, has a resort at the top, complete with a restaurant. We decided it would be the perfect place to dine and take in the glorious view and city lights. The restaurant served French cuisine and we were both very excited to sample what they had. This is a journey through our splendid evening, and since I'm in love with food, we'll start there...with Dessert!

For Dessert: Vanilla bean ice cream sitting on top of two slivers of sweet honeydew melon. A cheesecake mousse. It had the texture of super fluffy jello and was molded into a cone shape. Raspberry coulis and blueberries. The sparkle of the raspberry and the creamy texture of the ice cream exploded with flavor in my mouth. I enjoyed all of this while drinking a tiny cup of coffee. Or cohee as the Japanese pronounce it. It was the perfect end to a wonderful meal.

The Main Course: I ordered the beef entree. My husband chose the lobster. The base of my main course was grilled summer veggies. A slice each of eggplant and zucchini, broccoli, tomato, pepper and onion. Also there was a tiny square of what tasted like thin slices of potato stacked on top of each other and baked. Like a miniature potato au gratin. All of this was crowned with 5 ounces of the tenderest beef I've ever had. Grilled perfectly to lock in the flavorful juice. Then a slice of fried potato crisp topped it all off. It was a work of art. Almost to beautiful to eat...almost.
Soup: We were both served a steaming cup of tomato beef broth. Very rich and full in body of flavor. But light and almost refreshing. Two herb rolls were also served with this course. Light and fluffy, the perfect side to this soup.
Salad: Mixed greens, topped with slices of shrimp, and sweet cherry tomatoes. It had a vinaigrette dressing that I found to be quite lovely. It enhanced the greens perfectly. The salad had a dollop of caviar on the top, that made me feel like I was dining with the King. But to be honest I could hardly detect any flavor from it.
First Course: A tomato slice. With a very light vinegar glaze and tiny bits of scallops pressed into it's center. The tomato and it's acidity are meant to cleanse the palette before starting a meal.
The view from the restaurant of Sasebo city. The sun was just starting to go down and was shining brightly over one area of the city. It was quite the breathtaking view.
A view of 99 Islands. Beautiful.
Me. Before dinner Brandon and I stood on the balcony and took pictures. Pictures really don't do this view justice.
In the entrance of the restaurant was this large glass vase filled with wine bottles. I found it to be a very cool piece and had to take a picture.
An end to a fantastic evening spent with the love of my life. I'm one blessed woman to have him!