Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Hello friends!

I am once again calling on your expertise! It’s Christmas time officially and I need some no cost holiday fun ideas for little kids. We’ve been a house of busy working adults for so long that we sorta have our Christmas spirit in batches, and the kids are losing their minds about it.

I also need some very inexpensive but very fun Christmas gifts ideas for these kiddos. Santa is really broke this year because they’ve literally tripled my food and utilities costs and I wasn’t exactly pleased with the budget beforehand. Gotta love when a single tank of gas is your entire commute budget for the month. But I digress. 

The boys have been loving napping under the tree

I plan on making some reindeer snacks for Christmas eve (and the reindeer will enjoy them sometime after the kiddos go to bed). My parents always made it look like the reindeer were super messy eaters, and I think this year that sloppy reindeer might just make a comeback. Carrots and apples for sure, and cookies for Santa.

I was planning on involving them in the cookie making process if they wanted. We always make almond butter cookies instead of sugar cookies, they have a little bit of a deeper flavor and are just a little less sweet. I’ve never heard any complaints so I think the kiddos will like them, and they make up very similarly to a sugar cookie and can be decorated just the same. We usually make a batch of chocolate almond butter cookies too, as well as a couple specialty cookies. Although I learned my lesson a couple years ago with red velvet cookies. It’ll be a while before I try those again. Messy and gross to boot. I think I messed something up, but frankly you have to use so much dye there’s not really a second chance. 

I’ve added a new sweet treat to the mix since I’ve taken over the cookies portion of the holiday. We now also have no baking peanut butter chocolate bars, a recipe given to me by a friend of my grandma’s. They take about ten minutes to make and about an hour to chill (you melt and reset some chocolate) and then you have super cute little snack sized bars to eat. They are super rich but super addictive, so I always have to put them somewhere out of the way to help prevent calamity. I love little treats like that though, because for the most part, I almost always have the ingredients on hand and, other than the small scale crisis caused by attempting to measure peanut butter, they are really easy to make. Same principle as keeping premade cookie dough in the fridge, you literally never know when you might need a sweet treat.

Pretty sure we are going to have something akin to a white Christmas. I don’t know if it’ll snow or have a lot of accumulation specifically over those days but I definitely think that the conditions will be there and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Last year it was -2 degrees Christmas morning, we had around a foot of snow, and it started snowing more that afternoon. Made it difficult to feed the animals but it was really quite beautiful. 

It was really funny though too, because, and I think I showed you guys in pictures, the little walkway that I throw food into the barn from was completely covered in snow. There was a large pile from the roof to be climbed every time we wanted to feed in the barn. I definitely fell off that pile several times and the horses definitely laughed at me several times, which…fair.

This year so far the snow has been… mushy? Not structures building snow so it doesn’t build into drifts or create those wind balls. Kinda just gets everything wet and muddy. I think the kiddos would like it a lot better if it was the fun fluffy stuff. 

I’m somewhere in the realm of 80% done with my Christmas shopping. I’m one of those weirdos that starts planning in October and as soon as we get Halloween squared away I start slowly enacting my plans. Doesn’t always work, I definitely still have to do the December 23rd quick trip. But I’m getting more organized each year. I have to, my holiday season is packed, have you seen the size of my family? I have events every weekend of November and December and lots of weekday craziness too! This year there’s a color-coded spreadsheet. You know I’ve hit full first born, obsessive planner mode when I bust out the excel formulas. Putting on our serious Santa hats.

(It’s really quite pleasant to see all those pretty little cells though, you gotta admit).

Until we chat again my friends!

Calling All Recipe Sharers!

Hello friends!

The weather is really starting to get to me. Anyone have any good tips for cabin fever? Bemoaning old man winter is becoming a hobby in its own right and I don’t think I like the person I am when I’m stuck inside haha. Grumpy is an understatement. People are crossing the street when they see me. My RBF is strong this time of year.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty, but I think it’s a textural thing for me, I despise being wet for no good reason. Swimming? Fine. Bathing the animals? Fine. Watching the rain from a  window or porch? lovely! But I despise being soaked because of the rain or snow. And I cannot deal with being cold. I’d flourish in the tropics…maybe.

The girls haven’t been loving it either. The blankets are heavy. While it’s better than shivering and being cold soaked, it’s still not ideal. They have a place to go and stay dry, but sometimes I think hell will freeze over before we get to that point. They would rather stand out in a blizzard than go into the warm barn, and I’m pretty sure if I forced it there would be a small scale mutiny. Nice, warm, cozy barn with multiple heat lamps? Nah, we have a random stretch of fence to guard tonight. Nellie sometimes decides she’s simply not having it and spends the evening, or overnight if she prefers, without a blanket because she is bigger than me and some battles are just too dangerous still. She’s got a pretty nice winter coat so I figure she’s old enough to know if she’s not interested. Doesn’t mean I don’t spend the whole night worrying about her. 

Joe is also a big blanket fan

Honey officially has all her initial shots and blood work and is properly spayed. She was such a good girl for the whole ordeal. She was pretty upset in the car and during the initial checkup understandably. I was really worried after being locked up for fasting, left at the vet, and then being on bedrest for a couple days (starting in the Joe sized travel kennel and then in the woodshop) that as soon as she got her freedom she’d take permanent leave of us. But she’s such a sweetie, she marched right up to Christopher and demanded some cuddles. She’s definitely his cat, or more accurately, he’s her person.

She might have a small meltdown when she realizes that she needs a booster shot very soon. But it’ll still be a lot less traumatic than the whole surgery thing. She’s a trooper.

In other news, I’m in need of cost friendly, large scale dinners if anyone wants to share. The kiddos that moved in with their dad are all growing like weeds and eating me out of house and home. I’m over here trying to not go broke and still make sure they are getting all they need, I’m trying to teach myself to coupon, and I’m upping my bulk buy game. 

I’ve been making some pretty wild leftover “casseroles”, which just sounds better than “threw things in a pot and hoped it worked”. I hit on a pretty good one yesterday, leftover taco chicken, garlic rice, frozen spinach, and some cream of mushroom soup, plus a little seasoning. Topped it with some fried onions and let me tell you, it sounds weird but was quite warm and tasty. It was a big hit in our house, and wasn’t hard at all. I’m pretty brain dead after work, so easy is the name of the game.

Haha so ya know, not a big ask, just super cheap, super tasty, super easy meals to feed 9 people. Simple! Easy! No biggie!

(If this suddenly turns into a cheap eats blog, you know I’ve officially lost my mind. Also, if you have a favorite cheap eats blog, send me links! This girls gone full on frugal).

We do have some very cute elementary school art projects on the fridge now, the littlest one came flying in from school yesterday to tell us all about it, so it’s all worth it. I’m a sucker for a happy little kiddo. And these are some ridiculously cute kids.

All in all, I think it’s going to be an interesting holiday season. I had planned my holidays this year around the idea of relaxing calm, since last year’s holiday season was crazy busy and stressful. I definitely don’t think it’ll be calm anymore, I don’t think my house will be calm for a while, but I think it’ll be fun!

Until we chat again my friends

It’s a Dog’s Life

Hello friends!

Well, it’s cold, it’s gray, and it’s been intermittently smoky for weeks. Seems to me it’s definitely fall. Although, I must admit, the Grey thing is not something I am used to here. In Seattle sure, but generally we still see the sun around here. But there’s been lots of overcast days. I wouldn’t mind if they produced rain, which would help with fires and smoke, but these menacing clouds are mostly just for show it seems, or potential disaster. 

We had one angry stretch of dry lightning a week or so ago that nearly burned down the high school, because it burnt the hills up behind it. To my knowledge nobody lost any structures, but I know a few people got close. Chicken Hill burned too, and I guess during the microsburst people thought some of the windows, especially the big ones in businesses, were going to shatter, either from wind or the severe crashing of the thunder. They had to call in the three surrounding jurisdictions to help because there was just so much on fire at once.

We were very lucky to be on the outskirts. We got a side hit of the wind, but nothing was damaged and only one tarp attempted to take leg bail. The thunder crashing upset the doggos, but cuddles and good crates calmed them down. The dog equivalent of hiding under the covers is a properly cozy den space, tailored to the dog, available all the time. Mine are, of course, spoiled rotten but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Joe has a plush mat, open walls, a blanket and a toy, Scooby has a gel cooled, memory foam mat, closed, rounded sides, and a very light blanket, and Watson has a little closed den with enough blankets and bedding that sometimes I truly wonder how he fits in there. All doggos get extra blankets/comforters when it starts getting cool but other than Watts, I generally have hot dogs. Especially Scoobs, sometimes I think he’d be happiest in the arctic. 

Although, that’s not entirely true anymore because I have now seen, since moving here, how much he truly detests snow. Does not like being wet, does not like that it sticks to him, that it’s hard to walk in, and honestly, I can’t blame him all that much.

Scoobs has been learning lots of new things lately. Since he’s lost his sight, he’s learned to navigate the house by feel. Unfortunately he’s also learned to wail at all hours to get attention. The vet says he’s fine, he just has a hard time differentiating between day and night and when he decides it’s morning there is no convincing him otherwise. Even if it’s one a.m. The vet suggested trying to have a really solid bedtime routine and lots of busy work during the day. So he gets lots of wander and explore time outside until the weather turns cold, and I’ve been taking him down on a leash with me to feed in the evenings (don’t worry, there’s always a fence between him and the other critters, I wouldn’t put him in danger even if he could see. I also usually bring a buddy, so he has a dedicated seeing eye person too). He seems to really enjoy it but it’s a lot of walking on little legs so we are worn out by the time we make the porch again. It’s hard work being small.

I think he also likes it because it’s something special that just he gets to do. We haven’t been bringing his brothers down because generally I don’t want the dogs to get used to that area being a space they can go to on their own. They occasionally come down when I am working on a project down there, I bring the doggie play pen down and they hang out, but in general, Scooby has been the only one to get to walk down there every night. It also allows us to go at his pace, and he can stop and explore or take a breather if needed. It’s a pretty thinky experience too because he isn’t used to the gravel down there, or the hay on the ground, or all the new smells. Now that he’s not as reliant on sight, he’s got lots of exploring to do. So it’s good exercise too.

I don’t know how the horses feel about it though, because it definitely slows down the feeding process. Generally, they see me start the evening trek to the barn and they come hauling tail in from the pasture, but now they have to stand patiently waiting at their spots instead of being met with food. I am not as quick to get down there. But they still get snuggles and sweets and goodnight kisses so the result is the same. Scooby chills out by the door so he can take a breather while I move the hay around.

Speaking of hay, it’s time for me to pull down a new bale, and I should probably do that before it starts raining today or all the bales will get wet, so I better sign off for now.

Until we chat again, my friends!

Why I Have Grey Hairs

Hello friends!

So, my neighbors think I’m nuts. This is not necessarily a new development but I am reminded of it fairly often and just recently it happened again. So, my sweet Ro, a relatively steady, bombproof little mare has opinions on birds that range from “these wee things annoy me” to “this is clearly a horse eating monster”. Most of our resident birds, like the magpies and robins, fall into the annoying category. Quail are suspicious, as is our little chicken friend. But ducks? Ducks are horse eating monsters. Ducks are pure evil put on this earth solely to torment and abuse Ro. That’s their entire purpose. Ro loathes ducks.

So, I’m sure you can imagine how well our schooling session was going after our first trip to the far side of the arena was interrupted by an angry flapping duck. To her credit, Ro stayed very calm in the face of great mortal danger, she just skittered away and refused to walk by the bush. Problem was, suddenly every noise, anything that moved weird, every critter around looked a lot like that duck just waiting for us to let our guard down. Ro has to be alert and on top of it because clearly her mom was simply not understanding the true gravity of the situation. Didn’t understand that surviving the ride meant keeping our heads on a constant swivel, even if it meant not paying attention to moms riding cues.  A sacrifice Ro was willing to make. 

We kept at it and continued on with our work, but it was getting progressively less productive with each passing minute. Finally as we passed the chicken coop again she decided it was too much and let me know we may have to make a run for it. I wasn’t really annoyed at her, I understood that she was just worried, but it was making it difficult to get the focused work I had been hoping for and something had to change. 

So, I did the only thing I could think of, I loudly marched over to the bush, hoping to scare away the duck beforehand, grabbed my lunge whip, and proceeded to make a big showing of dramatically whacking at the bush, just to ensure any and all horse eating monsters were thoroughly chased away. Ro watched with concern, then growing interest, and finally walked over to investigate. I must have convinced her that I was scarier than the duck because I was able to hop back on and we managed some pretty good work by the end of our ride. She’s a very good girl.

This 100% is not the only reason my neighbors think I’m nuts, but probably one of the more recent offerings. I also lost my mind at the dogs the other day, but it was justified. Here’s how this went down.

I was running the farm mostly solo for a couple days, no big deal, Dad took Mom on a little getaway like they used to and Christopher was trying to help but he’s been buried in work. Like I said though, no big deal, I got the irrigation all going, let the chicken out to wander for a while, let the girls out in the pasture (they got a couple days off during this since it had been a while since they’d had a vacation anyway and when I’m the only one on the farm, a couple of my family members get really squigged out by the idea of my riding without a spotter in the same county, we haven’t worked out a compromise to that yet).

Then I let the dogs out to play for a bit and set up my desk temporarily on the porch. I do this often in the mornings so the dogs aren’t locked inside while I work, although when it starts to cool for fall we will inevitably have to quit because I’m chicken. Anyways, I realized I needed to go move the hose in the garden from the last of the tomatoes to the very last of the potatoes and I thought, my senior guy Scoobs is asleep on the porch, Watson and Joe have been underfoot all morning, I’ll have them walk down to the garden with me so they don’t pester Scoobs. Joe gets to go on adventures like this occasionally. He loves to help on the farm (he can’t just be out all the time as he hasn’t met a plant he doesn’t want to eat, a critter he doesn’t want to befriend, or a car/tractor/implement that hasn’t magically stopped for him and therefore lives blissfully unawares of the potential vet visits just lurking about). Watson almost never goes on adventures because he is very tiny and gets nervous in the big wide world. 

So, off to the garden we go, Joe did great, his heel and general recall is really coming along, Watson hung pretty close all the way down too. BUT then, Watson saw his opportunity and pulled a sneaky hide away from his mom. In the half second it took to move the hose from one line to another he disappeared from my view, so I called for him. No recall, no noise, no sign of him. I call a few more times then start to panic, Joe seems wholly unbothered but Joe regularly underestimates the level of concern necessary in the room. Finally, after I’m at near screech hollering for Watson he emerges from under a weed pile, then, realizing mom’s having a panic, takes leg bail for the arena and finally out into the neighbors field. At this point I’ve gone from screeching to the tone I reserve for scaring some sense into those around me, and he finally tucked his tail and slowly walked back toward me. I scooped him up, we made a beeline to the house, Joe being a good boy and naturally following in heel, and Watson spent a little time thinking about his life choices from inside the house. My neighbor texted me a little bit later asking if I needed help, she had seen my struggle but had her grandbabies around so she couldn’t engage. I told her we were all good, but Watson for sure took 10 years off my life. Crazy little bean.

He’s stayed pretty close since then, he’s usually not a runner, that was always Sherlocks trick, so I dunno what got into him. I always get a little suspicious of a change in behavior after little Sherlocks sudden departure but I think this was more just “cool things” overload followed by not wanting to be in trouble. Which to be fair, he wouldn’t have been if he hadn’t run, and even then, 10 minutes inside without his brothers and a stern talking to was all he got. 

Scooby slept through the entire upheaval. Had no idea. 

Until we chat again my friends

Squishing Ponies

Hello friends!

In a happy turn, it looks like some of the garden that we thought was a goner is still with us! Some of our kohlrabi has come back, our potatoes are on their way, and maybe, just maybe the squash is holding its own. Pretty exciting considering the hard battle it had to fight. 

We’ve had a lot of little things to fix and figure out on the farm lately. We have a sticky valve problem in the sprinklers system which means no matter what your intentions are, you are watering the backyard. It’s also a little hectic because the particular zone that wants to always be stuck open waters the garden path and the driveway, which basically means if you are trying to get down to the rest of the farm, ya know, maybe you want to go to the barn, you are going to get wet. Really really wet.

Super fun things happened this week as well! My little cousin is coming out to ride again, and that always brings so much joy to the farm. 

We goofed a little in that we had planned on her riding after I got off work, and the universe planned on that being the first day to climb above 95 degrees. It was unfortunately very very warm, so rider, horse, and yours truly all melted a little. It was not supposed to do that according to the forecast. I broke a couple of my working horses rules to pull that one off, but since it’s not actually terribly difficult work for Ro at this stage we were able to fudge it a little. 

But we had so much fun anyway. Lots of smiles and giggles and high fives. She’s a little taller now, so her cues are starting to be recognized. Ro still ignores them in favor of listening to me, but at least when I say “squish your pony and cluck” we are squishing actual pony, and not just saddle leather. When I help her make the cue with her leg, we can actually feel Ro react, moving gently away, and that was an aha moment for sure. Soon she’ll be able to do it all on her own.

(Squish the pony is a very silly alternative to telling someone to kick, because as my riders get older it’s easier to teach them to escalate their asking methods to meet the pony’s needs, than to deescalate. Squishing the pony requires a constant, firm but not sharp pressure, and when the pony responds, is a very fair, clean cue with a simple end.)

She’s also got a lot more confidence in herself and her actions, which made for a much more interactive ride. She was able to let go of the horn more and use her reins, and she was able to raise her little voice and ask Ro to whoa. She even asked me if I could mark her reins so she could remember where her hands go (little hands have to put down the reins a lot in order to do other things). I was super proud of her for advocating for herself.

I promised her that soon she would be getting her own official, certified riding helmet and a set of safe boots. She’s so so so excited. As she’s working with a new found confidence, I really want her to be safe while riding. Injuries are absolutely inevitable, if she’s lucky she’ll never have more than a bruised ego and some squished toes maybe, but more than likely she will have a fall or two, pull or strain a muscle, scrape a knee, hopefully nothing worse. But a correct helmet and boots will just be one step in the right direction for ensuring she walks away from a dust up with nothing but a good story. So, one Saturday soon, when I can get some time, we will be heading to the tack store, which is just incredibly dangerous for my wallet.

I am also spending some horse focused money on finally getting the trailer up to snuff. It’s been the project that just keeps getting pushed back but the problem now exists that if I want to keep my current farrier, I need to travel to his place for the foreseeable future. He no-showed our last appointment and has been having a generally hard time the last little while, so I don’t mind making his life easier, but it’s also another project I really didn’t need on my plate. It’ll be fine though, realistically it’s the kick in the tail I need, what if I have to trailer to the vet? Or pick up an unexpected animal? Or wanna go trail riding in my childhood happy place? It’s time to get the trailer functional and the girls retrained.

This was simply too cute to not share even though it has nothing to do with the post

There’s always something that needs doing on a farm anyway, might as well be a trailer restore.

Until we chat again my friends.

Mail Call

Hello friends!
Joe got some fun mail today, and he’s incredibly excited about it. See, ever since he was a puppy Joe has loved toys, especially Kong safestix, but he’s hard on toys because he’s an aggressive chewer. I try really hard to make sure about the time the latest toy needs to be replaced, we have new Stix in the wings.
But I sometimes miss the mark and we have to remove the old toy before the new ones arrive. This exact phenomena is why Joe has gotten really used to the Chewy signature blue box (not sponsored, just the only place I can easily get a hold of his favorite Stix).
This crazy dog recognizes the box from the moment the driver pulls it out and waits not quite so patiently at the counter as I cut all the non-dog friendly packaging away. Then one by one (I usually order three or four, in some combination of medium and large sizes for my giant teddy bear of a dog) I hand them to him, and he goes about showing anyone nearby his new treasures. The only downside to this is, thanks to the size of the Stix, if you are standing nearby, you should wear kneepads because he has no concept that he is suddenly a wide load. 


After he’s taken his new Stix, one by one from the box, around the house to show everybody, and finally over to the living room (the most wide open space and thus the best for playing), I get a happy dog tackle hug. Without fail, he hugs and cuddled until I relent, and we are sitting on the floor while he chews, shows off, and inspect the new toys. Sometimes he will hand his Stix off to me or anyone else who’s joined us on the floor so we can play too. But pretty soon he’ll need it back for chewing purposes.
The rest of the work day I get more than my share of the steps in because anytime I sit down to work at my desk for more than 20 minutes, Joe comes in and begs for more play time, and who am I to say no. He loves his toys so much.
Scooby liked toys a little when he was younger, but he has always been more of a zoomies kinda dog, enjoying playing tag with us and other dogs over playing with toys, I think because his big brother, my childhood pupper Winchester, was the king of human vs dog tag matches.
Watson (and Sherlock, sweet little guy) were never as into toys, I think in large part because toys generally aren’t made for their size and if they are we would have to monitor so Joe didn’t eat them. Sherlock did enjoy the occasional rope toy, but his favorite thing was crawling up into the toy box and falling asleep. I have some cute video on my old SD of him quietly puzzling through how to crawl up into the bucket and promptly laying down (before looking up, seeing his mom filming, and diving for my lap). I’ll have to see if I can easily get to that SD.

Editing Amanda here: could not get into the box with the SD, it’s in the rafters of the shed and needs more hands than I have)


Weve had some crazy repairs to make on the flatbed, and we realized that, at some point in the future, were gonna have to tear apart that engine in the name of actual preventative maintenance.
Looks like whoever owned it before us had a penchant for breaking the heads off bolts and then completely ignoring the problem so that weather and leaks and such could get in there and make triply sure those bolts would never move again. It’s an effective technique that means that teardown for cleaning is a pretty lofty goal at the moment.

I really hope this video upload things works….. please, please, please, please, please!


We finally were able to find a small, reasonably priced generator for the farm. It’s not a whole home backup, which is still on my “wants” list for the property eventually, but it’s a lovely little portable generator that will pull double duties on farm chores as well as whenever we do have a power outage and need a little emergency power to run the pump or fridge temporarily.
Dad was quite excited because it means he now how power anywhere on the farm he needs it, which has been an ongoing issue for a while. The way our farm is laid out, all the outbuildings are congregated on one side, which is perfect about 90% of the time, but not great when you realize two thirds of the farm doesn’t have outlets so things like electric chainsaws and weedwhackers and things become a problem. Since we have lots of fence lines that collect scrub trees and tumbleweeds like they are Pokémon, a generator to run those things and keep the fire risk down is a must. Clean fence lines can function as a small-scale fire break.
That’s about it for now, lots of new “toys” on the farm this week.
Until we chat again my friends 

The Event of the Season

Trigger warnings: vet stuff, needles, vaccinations, minor injuries, general farm medical dramas

Hello friends!

 It was farm call day last week, where all the critters on the farm that can get vaccinated, do. 

This one was definitely a little rougher than the others, not going to lie. But it all worked out in the end. Allow me to explain.

So, Ro, Watson, Joe, and Scoobs are pretty much seasoned pros about the vet. Scooby admittedly gets pretty nervous when we go into the actual vet office, and he does try to hide, but when it’s all said and done he stands quietly for his checkup and shots, he just needs a little more reassurance. Totally understandable. And, since I started scheduling farm calls, it’s been much more pleasant for him, since he has no idea it’s checkup time until it’s already in progress. No time to get worried.

Nellie, on the other hand, has a sixth sense about vet call days. We can do everything like normal, heck, there have been times I’ve forgotten the vet is coming out, but she knows. She knows. She will decide the level of crazy she wants to bring when they arrive, but make no mistake, she’s stewing on it beforehand.

The last few times she’s been fine, this time unfortunately she surprised us with how quickly she hit meltdown mode. She was trying really hard, ate some cookies from the vet’s hand and the lovely vet tech’s as well. But she was getting more and more nervous. After that fact I learned that the stray dog that had caused quite the ruckus earlier in the day had come back and my dad was attempting to prevent him from coming back into the corral, I’m assuming that was a large part of why she melted down so quickly, because while she likes dogs, she doesn’t like scary yappy jumpy dogs. And Ro doesn’t like dogs at all so the vibes were off.

(For what it’s worth, we tried to catch this dog forever, and when I called my neighbor she was pretty sure he lived down the road, so we are fairly certain he made it home and was just out on a walkabout)

Anyways, after she ran me over and kicked the vet, we opted to just let her live her life, which I believe was the right choice safety wise, but then after she calmed down she was so in my pocket, like she knew that wasn’t the best behavior and was trying to be especially cute. So, she definitely did not have a great time. It’s so hard because once Nellie has decided there’s an issue, that’s that, she can and will hold on to being suspicious about it for days. Unfortunately the vet and I will need a little recovery time as she grazed him in the shin and strained my shoulder (we’re fine now though, mostly just bruised egos).

While we vaccinated the dogs, we were discussing what to do with Nellie, as I love her too much to let her go unvaccinated, and we ended up with a two part plan that eventually leads to our happy ending. First, we discussed how to get her comfy with the vet, and we decided it probably made the most sense to either get her more comfortable with the needle or more relaxed around the vet so she isn’t thinking about the needle.

So, we decided that first I would try giving her the shot myself a day or two later, and if that went poorly we could give very light sedation so she was just a little bit safer and we could react just a little faster than she could. 

As you can imagine there was one idea I liked significantly more than the other, although neither sounded like the makings of a fun time. 

I won’t keep you in suspense, Nellie was such a good girl that two days after the vet call I was able to give her her vaccinations myself. At first the plan was to hide the needle and sneak attack, but she was on to me immediately. Honestly I should know better by now. So, I showed her the needle and spent about an hour holding it up to her neck, pinching, and feeding a cookie as reward. I kept waiting for the meltdown, but she was all here for the game. After she had thoroughly convinced me this wouldn’t be a big deal,  I spent an additional 20 minutes psyching myself up because while needles don’t bother me, poking those I love does. 

But we did it! She stood so still and nicely that I honestly didn’t know what to do, she was such a good pony. My technique wasn’t great, so unfortunately there was a little swelling and the equivalent to a little equine bruise from a shaky needle, but a couple video calls with the vet and he wasn’t concerned. She was even friends with me after the fact, which was totally new because usually she needs a little alone time to reevaluate what happened. 

As of today, now a few days later, both girls had the teeniest of injection reactions in the form of sore muscles and lethargy, combine that with a string of poor weather, and they have had many days off. Nellie was super touchy about her neck (understandable) but she’s coming around now. Like I said, she just needs a little extra time to process things occasionally. 

So all in all we came out fine. A little more eventful than last year, but the girls are healthy and vaccinated, the vets brushed shin was remedied with some donuts delivered to the clinic, and I can lift my arm above my shoulder again. Plus Nellie Belly and I have a whole new level of confidence since we handled vaccinations all by ourselves. Nellie requests I work on my shot-giving form though, so suggestions on how to do that are appreciated.

This has been a bit of a longer tale of farm shenanigans, so I better wrap this up here.

Until we chat again, my friends!

Everyone Loves a Good Back Porch

Hello friends!
Its officially work outside season, which is, of course, the best thing ever.
Not only is there actual outside work to be done (like redoing the gardens) there’s also just “work that can be done outside”. Luckily, I can usually swing a couple hours outside with my work laptop before the battery starts screaming. It’s a pretty solid little battery, I just usually put it through the ringer trying to develop for, and test against, large scale usage. Obviously, I can’t easily mimic hundreds of users on my local machine, but I can do enough and that’s hard on the battery, among other things.
I absolutely love being able to work outside, although admittedly the farther from the router I get the sketchier my slack notifications become. But I think my coworkers are fairly used to me at this point.
Our Wi-Fi very suddenly cut out this week and would not come back for anything. I was pretty annoyed because a few months ago the radio equipment our ISP provided failed unexpectedly and it took about a month and a half to get it all fixed. A very stressful month and a half when you work from home and are trying to use your phone as a hotspot. My phone has literally never been the same, and I am thinking I may need to upgrade soon because the battery now gets hot enough to fry eggs on.
I used to have a backup connection in town (I used to work entirely in town because we couldn’t get reliable internet access at the farm at all) but I had to cancel that recently as they tripled the price of the service and it was rivaling the cost of my entire electricity bill for the farm. Too much for something I hadn’t used in months.

Buds!! As seen from porch!!


Of course, about a week after I cancel, queue the farm internet suddenly going down. Like i said, I was beginning to get really frustrated and annoyed because I didn’t not want another six months of them being “sure it wasn’t their equipment”. But they got someone on the problem right away, because apparently it wasn’t just my farm that lost service, and the cause? A maintenance person accidentally slicing through a very important cord somewhere in the ecosystem. So only three days down for service, not six weeks. Thank goodness.
An update on Scooby now that he’s had some time to adjust to being a visually impaired pupper. He’s mastered most of his usual routes, and the four steps on the porch. He’s gotten weirdly comfortable with just walking over the top of, or through the legs of, Joe instead of going around. For Joe’s part, he’s gotten very good at standing or laying very, very still while Scooby goes about his travels. He’s pretty patient. He also goes out after Scoobs if he gets too far out in the yard or too close to the retaining wall.
Scooby does still struggle when things are out of place, sometimes he sees them, sometimes he doesn’t. He noticed the Easter eggs on the floor this morning and avoided them but didn’t see the work boots and stumbled over them. I tend to think it’s a depth perception and color thing. Both the carpet and boots are tan, the Easter eggs are decidedly not tan.
We are very lucky to have some very caring folks are part of our “pet raising village” too. Scooby has regular visits with our groomer (they all do) who I truly believe loves these critters like a crazy aunt loves her niblings. She takes special attention to Scoobs now that he has a hard time navigating new or rarely visited places. And our vet has been coming out to the farm for the yearly checkups/vaccinations but is now more accommodating than ever, letting Scoobs stay up on the porch, so he feels comfortable. They also have bumpers they put up in the rooms when he has to go into the clinic so he can’t get stuck under the furniture. We have some amazing people in our lives.
We have blocked up a few places for Scoobs too, although he still gets stuck under the dining table once in a while, he’s a lot better at working out where he is. He’s such a brave little trooper.


And a happy little guy too now that I can pop open the back door while I work, and they can hang out on the porch. They absolutely love being able to hang out outside and in the afternoon when the sun peeks in. Its covered and gated so the littles are protected from predators and Joe is theoretically protected from cars, tractors, the horses, or whatever else he’s decided to make friend with. Although he creates danger for himself because he likes to force his head in between the railing slats.
I occasionally joke about being a “boy mom” because when I describe the everyday chaos to my cousins with human children, our stories sound suspicious similar. It sounds like I just have three young toddlers waddling about. It also helps that anytime someone addresses one of my critters is sounds a lot like “hey Scoobs, where’s your mama?”
(Real talk though, as much as I love being a fur parent, I absolutely realize it is 4000x harder being a parent parent. I only make those jokes around those who unequivocally know I’m joking)
Welp, I’ve prattled on for a while, so I’ll leave this one here. Otherwise, I’ll write a whole book and the editing will be a nightmare haha.
Until we chat again my friends! 

Hippity Hop

Hello friends!
Easter was fantastic at our house; I hope you had a lovely Easter too! (Or a lovely Passover or Ramadan).
We got incredibly lucky with the weather. It poured all day the day before, and it actually snowed and blew and rained and hailed, etc. etc., basically the entire week before. We got approximately two hours of clear skies on Friday to try to clean up the yard and we did our best.
But amazingly, it was beautiful and sunny on Easter! Cold, definitely large-jacket-weather, but so sunny and pretty. I got lots of family photos so hopefully with the lighting some of them turn out well.
We hid 350+ eggs and I am still convinced we haven’t found all of them. I think we got close though, the kids absolutely loved it. Each kiddo got a bucket and a little toy, either a stuffed bunny or a little set of pocket cars they could choose from (among the youngsters in my family stuffed animals and pocket cars are valuable riches, you see). After that it was off to the races.
This year there was enough youngsters that I had to send some grandparents and a grand uncle to the basement to supervise a Veggie Tales screening, because there’s too many bright sunny open windows upstairs to peek through, and the Easter Bunny is shy, you know.

(Most of my Easter pictures include family who would like their privacy respected so please enjoy these photos of some of the decor)

We had a lovely potluck dinner, I made ham and some chip dip, and lots of desserts. My extended family brought, in turn, turkey, some potato and pasta salads, some warm casseroles, and a couple more desserts. My mom tried her hand at deviled eggs and a little pasta salad kit, with supervision, and she did pretty well. A lot of the steps she remembers, it’s mostly just timing and remembering the safety rules, as well as reading the recipes. This is a huge improvement from even last year when she could hardly stand in the kitchen by herself without becoming overwhelmed. It’s easy to forget all the progress she’s made post strokes, and it served as a good Easter gift.
I also had set up an ice cream bar with lots of toppings, so the kiddos were very pleased. And very sugared up by the time they left. That’s my job as the fun cousin, although I think the parents were on similar sugar highs, we really did go dessert heavy this year. But we are a family of sweet tooths… sweet teeth?
Before we ate we had a nice reading of the bible story. This worked out well because, while I had made an Easter Bible Trivia set, everyone was so keen to be out in the sun we ended up forgetting about it entirely. I’m super glad we were able to get at least a little of the true reason for the holiday into our celebration. I think sometimes it’s really easy, I know I’m super guilty of this, to think about the Easter bunny for the kiddos and the food and the games and the yard and forgetting the whole Jesus thing. I’m guilty of that at Christmas too.
The kiddos also got to feed the horses some multicolored carrots, courtesy of our neighbors. The local research station rents land from my neighbors, and I’ve gotten to know some of the field workers. Since they are allowed to take home any harvests afterward (the research station is currently interested only in the seeds) I often get gifted some of the excess, this time, easily 15 pounds of various carrot varieties. I’m so grateful, not only that they think of me but also because its gorgeous, meticulously grown produce. I’ve been cooking with them lots, sharing with family, and feeding them to the girls, and even then, I don’t know if I will be able to use them all in time. Can you freeze carrots? Anyways….
The horses and kiddos had lots of fun, especially because purple carrots stain little fingers and horsey tongues, and little June was telling her little cousins about how she rides Ro and how “Manna” can give everyone lessons. I might be on the hook for a couple more tiny novice cowpokes this summer.
We got to try the new ladder golf setup, and everyone really seemed to enjoy it. I was a little worried about the tethered balls flying with the little ones around but for the most part they are pretty good about staying out of the game zone. My family tends to get a little competitive so the wee ones have learned pretty quickly to not get involved unless they really want to play.
I also bought a game called Throw Throw Burrito, but with the wind a little blowier than usual we didn’t think an outdoor card game would work exceedingly well. No worries, next get together we will throw three-foot inflatable burritos at each other, we have the whole summer after all.

I hope you guys had as magical a weekend as we had. I need to spend today cleaning up, my house looks like an Easter bunny exploded, so I’ll leave this here.
Until we chat again my friends! 

It’s Blowin’

Hello friends!
Winds blowing like crazy again. It does that this time of year, but it seems like it’s a little crazier this year. A little harder, a little colder, a little meaner.
The other day it was blowing hard from the west, just a mean, terribly biting wind. This was especially odd since we almost never get winds from the west. Northern winds sometimes, southern winds most often, but never western winds. Or at least, we don’t notice them because out hill often disrupts that pattern before it bothers us. (Eastern winds are a metric we can’t really gather because of the hill as well).
But today its blowing terribly hard, absolutely rattles the house when it hits, its brought some nasty storm clouds and driving rain too, although no thunder yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if that came along soon enough though.
I’ve tried to be a little less of a helicopter mom with the animals during rough weather days now. When my mares first came home, I would keep them in the corral area with food and stand near them supporting them if it even rained. Then I was reminded that all I was doing was teaching them that I found unpleasant weather scary, and they should too. Well, that’s not what I wanted because short of the severe winds like today, or hail, tornado warnings, etc., weather isn’t a big concerning thing. So, i started trying to just do the occasional check in but mostly let them ride it out. I still bring them into the corral when the wind gets really bad or the thunder starts really rolling, because they have to walk under a tree to get to the corral for water and shelter from the pasture and that gets exponentially more dangerous the deeper into the storm we go.

Here’s Joe, because I really don’t know how to capture “wind” effectively and don’t really want to soak my camera or phone in an attempt


But, it also means I get my steps by walking back and forth from the kitchen window to my desk about a million times, and out to the living room picture windows to monitor the weather. I’m still a nervous pet parent.
Weve been so unsettled this year that I think the girls are really getting used to the insane weather, yesterday it graupeled (I have no idea how to verb that noun) multiple times, and then would be sunny three minutes later. They didn’t so much as flinch. When it got pretty loud in the house, I stepped out just long enough to see if they needed to be under cover, and they ignored all attempts at attention getting in hopes of eating a little more grass before they were called in. Usually if they’re ready to go in the corral, whether for the evening meal and tuck in, or to come hangout while I clean the barn, or to escape the weather, they’ll come get me at the corner of the gate. They can go in by themselves, and they do regularly travel in and out, but if it’s a little spooky that day for some reason, they’ll wait for me to walk down to the barn, so they have someone friendly on the other side of the scary space.
The weather though, has been so exceptionally spastic this year, the girls have started to be much more brave about their daily activities, and pretty much only start to get worried if the wind picks up or I come put to usher them in.
It’s been a couple days since I wrote those earlier paragraphs, and we’ve had two major wind advisories since then. One, later in the evening, I was home alone and had luckily just taken the boys out to use the restroom and gotten the girls bedded down and fed for the night. No sooner had I grabbed my dinner and snuggled in with Project Runway (it’s taken me a while to catch up with the most recent season, don’t judge me), suddenly I was on the phone with family members letting them know that they needed to either stay where they were and settle in, or come home NOW because the winds were getting out of control and the dust was getting so thick I could hardly see across the pasture.

Here’s my dinner, because I really don’t know how to capture “wind” effectively and don’t really want to soak my camera or phone in an attempt

Luckily Christopher made it home (he’s been taking care of a friend’s house for a bit while they are off having a couple babies, so he had to secure their animals) and shortly after so did mom and dad, but not without crazy stories. By the time they got home the winds were sustained about 35-40 mph with gusts closer to 60 mph. It came up so fast.
Christopher’s car was hit by a bunch of debris and dad and mom watched with horror as the camper trailer in front of them on the highway lost its awning to the wind. Shattered and scattered debris across the highway. I’m so grateful they made it home safe and feel just awful for the camper trailer owner.
Even as I type, the wind is gusting 60+ mph and the freezing rain has me panicking about the animals getting too cold. I just spent the last hour with them and am soaked through. Ro has a blanket on, Nellie only recently decided blankets might not be scary so this storm has convinced me she’s getting one this week. Hopefully my local tack store carries Nellie sized blankets.
All in all though, I will forever be grateful that my “crazy” weather stories are so mild, and send all my love to those where the weather has cost them their homes, and in worst cases, their lives and the lives of their loved ones. It’s a terrifying weather year, that’s for sure.
Until we chat again my friends!