A Busy Spring

Is spring always this busy?  I think it’s usually fairly busy, but this year has been the one to take the cake.

One reason is the new chicks and ducklings we brought home.  They are growing fast and beginning to feather out already!

Another reason is I’ve been happily helping out over at Juniper Moon.

But the big reason I am all tired and stressed out?


In one way, I am really in love with home-schooling and how much flexibility we have.  I love that we had none of the illnesses that swept through the rest of the community this year.  That meant we were far more productive with other things.

I love that my older girls have learned how to knit and are learning cooking and baking.  I love that all of them have been participating in the many aspects of farming and animal husbandry.

I love that I have better control over what they eat, what they learn about, and who they learn it from.

What I don’t love?

My own insecurities and doubts. Those days that I don’t accomplish what I’d like.  That we’ve fallen behind my planned- out schedule in some subjects.  This was partly the plan; I didn’t want to plow through the lessons if they hadn’t fully learned them first. But it does make for very slow going at times.  And as we approach summer, it makes me panic.  I want a summer vacation!

And I constantly worry about how well I am doing with them.  I worry about how much they will or will not retain.  I want them to be smarter and more advanced than the public school kids, not less so.

On the flip side, I am at least sticking to a curriculum I really believe in.  I admire parents that are able to successfully manage an Unschooling Program, but honestly I think something like that with no set structure or goalposts would make me a basket case.  I like knowing that even if we’ve had a really lazy day we’ve accomplished something.

Even if that something is just a visit with Jerry for llama kisses, or a quick snorgle with a newborn lamb.

My kids can certainly tell you all about the circle of life!

Speaking of!

I have night duty at Juniper Moon tonight.  Susie has not slept a decent night all week and she has to pick up and drop off some fiber to designers out of town.  Her lovely new farm manager Caroline and I will hold down the fort (and maybe meet some new babies??) tonight.

If you’d like to tune in, you can check out the lambcams.  Camera one is in the barn with the babies who have already come.  You can find it here.

You can also check out the second cam here, which looks into the pasture.  Cam three looks into stall 2 in the barn.  Last night I watched a laboring nanny goat on cam 3 and then saw the new babies being brought into the barn at 2:30 am.  Check us out tonight, you may catch something fun!

What’s Up, Buttercup?

I know I’ve been negligent of late.  I haven’t been darkening the door of this particular blog nearly as often as I should.  It’s not for lack of exciting stuff happening, I can tell you that!

Lately, this guy:

has been working on upgrading Susie’s Lambcam.  The lambcam consisted of one average workaday camera that had to be moved around depending on where the action was, and a not so fantastic picture quality.  Honestly, I thought it was fantastic and wonderful because it allowed the world to click on Susie’s webpage and see a live picture of lambs and kids!  But as this is the sort of thing Paul does for a living, he just kept looking at it and muttering that one day he’d make sure she got a “real” system.

And his threat promise has come to fruition.  For the past few weeks he’s been working hard at it.  This has made it even easier for me to worm my way into daily farm life at Juniper Moon Farm.  I’ve taken it upon myself to be a kind of unasked – for volunteer.  Plus I need to visit these guys:

They’re lays happy to seeme.  Especially if I bring food.

And trust me, I LOVE feeding time.

It’s when I get to pet the sheep.  Normally they’re rather aloof.  But when there’s grain involved, oh boy!

All this volunteering to help out has been fun for me, and hopefully, helpful to Susie.  Yesterday started out seeming like a perfect mix of that.

She decided that since our local feed stores are perpetually out of sheep feed (and nearly anything else we ever need – ask me how I know) she would make a trip up to Northern Virginia where there was a confirmed presence of feed plus the other supplies she’d be needing once the sheep and goats started having their babies.

Of course I volunteered to check on everyone in the morning (she left super duper early – or, as Paul calls it, “Oh – dark hundred) when Paul stopped over to do lambcam work. Even mom was game to come along and see how large the pregnant ewes had gotten.

Imagine my surprise when we discovered a little lamb in the pasture, surrounded by the guard dogs.   Lambing wasn’t supposed to start yet!  We rushed that baby into the barn and under the heat lamp and set out to look for the new mama.  We herded (mom said “accused”) two possible mamas into the barn before spotting another ewe far down by the fence line standing over a small white blob.  A second baby!

Poor Susie got the shocking news over the phone, over 2 hours away. And then had to race home at superhuman speed.

Both lambs are doing wonderfully and mom and I got to feel like actual shepherds for the day.  I’m glad for the experience because I will have my own sheep as soon as humanly possible.

Just look at that little face.



Where Oh Where Has My Little Blog Gone…

Spring was supposed to have sprung, and we have indeed gotten blooms all over, but we are also expecting up to two inches of snow by the end of the weekend.  So today was cold and overcast and that made conditions ripe for two things: napping and cooking.

Maddie and Gulliver are frequently snuggled up together.

Have you met Gulliver?

He’s not reeeaally our dog, but….

He actually belongs to Susie.  Susie left him with us awhile back when she was away for a long week of meetings with yarn company designers and whatnot.  Then there were various people staying at the farm for a few days here and there and Gulliver is not actually the kind of dog that does well with lots of different people.  SO…..since he seems to like us so much, he has stayed.  And since there are a lot of farm stay guests still in and out and April promises to be very busy (lambing starts!!)…..you get the idea.

Plus Paul is in very much taken with the little guy.

The point is, Gulliver likes napping.  That makes him very popular with us.  Especially on a lazy, cold late – winter / not-quite-spring day.

But it wasn’t ALL napping.

Maddie made Chocolate Irish Cream Cookies and I made some Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites.

Both were a smashing success.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to figure out how to work off the bajillion calories I stuffed myself with today.

A Week of Being Irish

St. Patrick’s Day is a bit of a big deal around here.  Paul and I were married on March 17 waaaaay back in 1996.

I got a bunch of books from the library for the girls to learn about Ireland and about the holiday itself.   They’ve been telling lame leprechaun – related jokes  (What kind of music do leprechauns like??  Sham-Rock!) and listening to Irish bands (Enya, U2, Black 47).

Last night we made Shamrock cookies.

Afterwards we stuffed our faces and watched Darby O’Gill and the Little People.

Tomorrow we’re going to make some Irish Soda Bread and Beef & Guinness stew.  Then we’ll settle in for a 4 hour Destination Truth live from Ireland, where they’re going to investigate the legend of the Banshee.  Should be fun (especially with that bottle of Bailey’s I bought)!


Jerry & The Goats Go on Holiday

Remember I mentioned not too long ago that I was getting the animals ready for new pasture?  Today we loaded them up and brought them to it.

Jerry steadfastly refused to get into the trailer until I brought in a pan of his favorite forbidden treat – chicken food.

It took longer to get them loaded than it did to move them to their new stomping ground.  Which, by the way, you might recognize.

Running to their new pasture.

Some new friends joining in.

Do you know where they are now?  That picture was a dead giveaway.

Any ideas?

Here’s one more hint.  One of their new friends:

They will be in this new paradise while us humans figure out our living arrangements.  The chickens are all still in our backyard.  Jerry and the goats get to romp in a huge pasture with all the fresh grass and hay they can eat until we find our own huge pasture for them.

So……where are they?

(I would totally do a giveaway for this but it is just WAY too easy!)

And Then There Were Even More….

Because we really really needed more poultry.

The thing is, no one tells you how addictive poultry is.  Or that poultry is the “gateway” livestock.  You get a hen or two, thinking  fresh eggs, how quaint.

Then you realize how funny and cool chickens are and you think how neat it might be to have one of those rare breeds that looks pretty out in your yard.

Before you know it, you’re poring over poultry catalogs, checking out the amazing varieties of plumage and egg colors, checking to see what breeds will hatch their own eggs and who the best layers are.

Then you think maybe you can sneak a guinea fowl or two in there because why not?  You already have chickens, it’s not so much of a stretch!  Besides, they eat ticks and chase away strangers!


Have you SEEN those adorable ducklings at Tractor Supply?

Heck, if I am going this far, why not go all out and get some goats!  And a llama!  And……well, you get the picture.

We brought home two new ducklings – they’re Pekin/Runner crosses, and they are being called “Fanny” and “LeQuack”.  We have no idea what genders they are.

Also we have two small chicks of unknown breed/gender.  It’s a risk, but they were too cute!

One is a tiny yellow puffball with black spots, and the other is a dark brown with some orange. We were told it’s an Ameraucana but I just noticed it has feathers on it’s legs, so I am not so sure!

Finally there’s two of these Mottled Houdan girls. I am in love with the feather hat!  One is for Susie.  Our friend Jenny named her “Liberace”.  The one we are keeping has been named “Delia”.

Soon Paul’s going to have to talk me out of geese and turkeys!