I haven’t done an update on the garden lately, so here’s a few photos I took today:
Welcome to your new home, little goats. May 11, 2012
What in the world am I thinking!? I am NOT an animal person, and I just spent the better part of the morning wrestling with two baby goats that we brought home last night. Goats are strong, by the way. And stinky.
Why do I have two goats in a cage? That’s a good question. Let me begin by sharing how we acquired our other animals.
The day we got our dog, we were not even considering a puppy. I took the kids to the pet store just to look at the animals. Then I saw her. She was sitting in that pitiful little pen. Just sitting there looking at me with those big sad eyes. Begging to be rescued. Then I noticed the sign on her pen – CLEARANCE. I knew I had to have her. So I paid the slashed price and asked the shopkeeper to hold her while I ran to Wal-Mart to buy the things normal people purchase in preparation for a puppy. And to call my husband to inform him of the new addition to our family.
I was guilted into our next pet acquisition. Kendra really played me on this one. How could I not buy her the little kitty when her brother had a puppy. After all, she had always dreamed of having a kitten for her whole entire life. So, we bought the kitten and then went back to Wal-Mart for kitten stuff.
The dog and cat were enough for a long while. Until one day, the kids really decided they absolutely couldn’t live without pet rabbits. So, we bought them. They had to live in a dog kennel in the garage for a few days while Ronnie built them a hutch. Why? Because, once again, we were unprepared.
Well, after that, we tried fish, but that didn’t work so well as you remember if you read my post To Flush or Not to Flush. Moving on.
Time went on. We went through several rabbits, and my sister added a dog to the mix, but we pretty much stayed the same for a few months. Then, my son started really taking interest in frogs. Since I’ve always been very determined not to pass my irrational fear on to my kids, I helped him build a habitat in the unused fish aquarium, and we put four frogs he captured in it. I have to concentrate on not letting it bother me that there are frogs in his bedroom. I don’t go in there much.
Then, Ronnie decided to get chickens. Fresh eggs, teaching responsibility, all that good stuff. I went along with it because the baby chicks were so cute. However, since we were – you guessed it – unprepared! – the chickens lived in a container in my kitchen too long for me to end up liking them. And, honestly, now that they’re older, they scare me to death. They’re like frogs with feathers. And beaks and long claws. Terrifying.
So, that brings me to the goats. We knew we were going to buy them, so we bought all the supplies to build a fence for them. We even started on it. Good, huh? Unfortunately, that’s all we did, so when we went to get the goats last night, we brought them home and had nowhere to put them. Typical of us, really.
I was supposed to put collars on them this morning, and tie them to something so they could be out for the day until we finish the fence tomorrow. Good plan, huh? Well, it was a failure. Goats don’t like collars. Goats don’t like being led on a leash. Goats make a lot of racket, poop all the time, and jump around like bucking broncos. Who knew they’d be kind of like little donkeys? Not me, that’s for sure.
So, Max and I managed to get them to the backyard, but the collars I bought were too big, and everything that could go wrong went wrong, and they probably hate me already, and they’re only 106 days old and now they’re probably traumatized, and I’m afraid they’re going to bite me, and the dogs are barking at them like crazy, and the goats are bleeting at the top of their little lungs, and I have goat pee and poop and hair all over me, and I’m not really sure how I feel about goats now.
We’ll build the fence tomorrow.
In the meantime, I’ve heard a rumor that someone we know has a pot-bellied pig they don’t want any more…
Our Family Project May 1, 2012
Our project may not be Southern Living or HGTV worthy, but it’s coming along. Here’s what we started with:
This was the beginning of what we have dubbed our “garden project” which led into the “tree house project” – only to be later combined into one grand plan of making both projects one big entertainment area for our family. It has taken a lot of hard work, and we’re not finished, but we got so much done over the weekend that I’m just itching to share it. Here is a look at what we have accomplished so far.
This was the start of the garden – we fenced it in and Ronnie built the planter boxes. The kids painted the fence (well, they helped me paint it). Next, we decided to put an arbor over the entrance. We made the garden rabbit-proof with the wire (which was a terrible, hot, tedious job) and we moved the rabbit house in to house our pet rabbits.
Ronnie built the exact swing set I imagined, and we planted our first vegetables and flowers.
With the garden finished, we started on the tree house. Since it’s so high off the ground and Max is such a little, adventurous guy, we decided that a ramp would be the safest way to access the tree house.
The tree house was plain old hard work. Ronnie and I did the whole thing together. I told him what I wanted, and he not only made it happen, but also taught me how to use all the tools and think like a carpenter. Here’s what we have right now:
Now we have a garden and tree house. What we are working on right now is the area surrounding both. Here’s our progress from the past couple of weekends. We are tired!
We still have so far to go! The next step, of course, will be grass everywhere that is currently dirt. We’ll build a fire pit in right between the garden and tree house. I have an idea for an outdoor chalkboard for the kids to draw on. The tree house will have a mail box. Oh, and the tree house will look like a true house in a tree when it’s finished. We’ll have strands of lights suspended from the trees. Oh! And the obstacle course! How could I forget? The kids will have an obstacle course through the woods. And a zip line coming off the back of the tree house.
We still have so much to do, but look at how far we’ve come! Nothing makes me happier that walking out to the garden with Ronnie, watching our bunnies hop in and out of their hutch while the kids laugh and swing and run up and down the tree house ramp, and just being a family. There’s absolutely nothing like sitting back and enjoying the fruits of good, hard, honest labor.
I can’t wait to go back out and work my butt off to finish. It will most likely take years. And I’m okay with that. I have so many ideas, and my husband has the know-how. And the willingness to teach me. And the patience to let the kids help. And the willingness to come home after a long week at work to put in an even harder weekend. That’s just who we are. And I couldn’t be happier.
Thursday Reflections March 29, 2012
My middle sister who lives next door to me and owns a dog named Zeke – I’ll call her Vickie to maintain her anonymity – told me this was going to be a hard week *sigh* *mean face* *sigh* (she was kind of mad at me). She was mad because we decided to move the dogs’ invisible fence Monday night, which she thought meant she would spend the whole week training Zeke on the new boundary.
Well, it’s Thursday, and it’s been a pretty darn good week. The dogs are trained. That allowed me to move the rabbits out to their new home in the garden without fear of the dogs eating them. That in turn allowed me to get our new six baby chickens out of my kitchen and into the garage. And I did all of this without our cat killing anyone involved!
I discovered a nest full of eggs in the bird house in the garden. The blueberry bushes and grape vines have new growth. The hostas have popped up and filled out. The honeysuckle is blooming. And I don’t have chickens in my kitchen.
It’s spring, and I can’t wait to get out there and get my hands dirty. To grow vegetables and prune the flowers. This week has me so looking forward to the next few months. Months that will be spent outside with my family and our little farm we seem to have started.
I’m sure there’ll be stories about these chickens. They pretty much freak me out. But, until then, I’ll enjoy watching them like I enjoy watching our two little bunnies hop around. Yep, it’s been a pretty good week.
I’ve been pretty sick, and today is a beautiful day. I thought it would be so nice to take my rabbits out to the garden and let them hop around. How relaxing.
Here’s a few things you should know before you read what actually happened:
- The rabbits belonged to my cousins. We have owned them for about a month, and they have been living inside our house for that time.
- I have been sick.
- Ronnie found a truck he wanted to buy. The seller was bringing the truck to our house this morning to make sure it would pull our camper okay.
- I have been sick.
- Nickie, my sister and next-door neighbor, had a long week and planned on sleeping in and loafing on this beautiful Saturday morning.
- Our garden is fenced in to keep wild rabbits out and to keep our pet rabbits in. The rabbit hutch is in the garden.
- I have been sick.
Okay. Here it goes.
I put the rabbits in a box to carry them out to the garden. Ronnie walked out with me. Once out there, I put them in the fence thinking they would hop around and explore and wiggle their little noses and fluffy tails and just be cute. As soon as I let them loose, the man in the truck pulled into the driveway, so Ronnie went to hook up the camper.
Everything was fine until Roxy and Zeke (our dogs) realized I had rabbits out there. They immediately started running circles around the garden scaring those little creatures half to death. The gray one found a hiding place and stayed put, but the black one started running and jumping and acting like it was being chased by two giant, salivating canines who wanted nothing more than to gobble it up for a snack. Oh, wait a minute…
Anyways, the poor rabbit jumped at full speed directly into the wall of one of my planter boxes and knocked itself backwards. It just never was the same after that. It tried to keep running, but there was a serious and notable lack of direction in his fleeing – towards the dogs, away from the dogs – you get the idea. Meanwhile, I can see that Zeke is finally realizing that all he has to do is jump over the fence to catch the rabbit.
I changed my strategy which was failing miserably. Instead of trying to catch the rabbit, I left the garden to try to catch my dogs. I got Roxy first. She was so intent on her visions of Roasted Rabbit that she wrestled right out of the collar I was holding her by. I had to tackle her (in the mud) and hold her in a headlock while somehow trying to catch Zeke who was seconds away from jumping the fence. I grabbed a fistful of Zeke and dragged him over to me. So, there I sat, covered in mud trying to hold two dogs that were still intently tracking the rabbit who had not yet slowed down.
I yelled for Ronnie to call Nickie (he did have company over, after all). Nickie came out of her house and called Zeke. That dumb dog almost bit me trying to get out of my death grip to pretend to go to Nickie so it could really kill my rabbit. I think I started crying then. (Remember, I’ve been sick. Really sick).
To make a long story short, Nickie carried the dogs one by one up to her house to lock them on her front porch. I went in the garden to get the black rabbit who had completely given up. It was just lying there without moving. It didn’t even move when I picked it up and put it away. I would have thought it died of a heart attack if I didn’t feel his little heart still racing.
Well, here are a few more things you should know:
- The guy with the truck asked Ronnie if I was okay. Ronnie said, “yeah, I’m sure she’s fine,” and kept hooking up the camper. The guy, obviously a little bothered, pushed back a little and said, “are you sure? I think she’s crying.” Ronnie answered, “she just freaks out sometimes. She’s okay. She’s just really attached to her bunnies.”
- Nickie was not dressed when she was summoned to help me. She threw on clothes and flip-flops and ended up running out the gravel drive-way barefooted to help me. Roxy weighs over 60 pounds. She carried her all the way home. When she carried Zeke, he put one front paw on her shoulder and the other on her head. He enjoyed being carried. She got rather muddy.
- Nickie was a little bothered that she looked like an idiot in front of some guy she didn’t know.
- Our next-door neighbor, unbeknownst to me, was outside watching the whole episode unfold.
Nickie and I, once we had all the animals situated, sat and talked about how redneck and stupid we must have looked – her running around lugging huge dogs back and forth (while barefooted) and me yelling and crying and chasing rabbits and mud-wrestling dogs. At least we didn’t know the guy with the truck!
When Ronnie and the guy got back from the test drive, Nickie and I went to check out the truck.
The guy looked at Nickie and said, “Hey! I remember you from high school!”