All God’s Critters

Hello friends!
This week on the farm we’ve basically been perpetually cleaning up after our wilderness friends and their poor life choices.
First, we had a coyote appear to get lost and end up in the corral. Why do I think he got lost? Well, the tracks tell a pretty good story because the snow has been freezing in the early morning hours and preserving the evidence of the nights shenanigans.
Looks like this little coyote crossed the empty canal and found a tiny hole in the chicken wire we have up on that fencing. He pushed his little body through, my guess is because he smelled Cordelia’s earlier travels, and suddenly realized he was face to face with two very angry mares. The evidence suggests a very panicked zigzag pattern that ultimately leads to a new, bigger hole in my chicken wire that I am pretty sure he punched out with sheer force of will.
It definitely stresses me out that a coyote crossed the canal into my corral on a whim and my sweet girls had to handle it, but I am sure, to a point, there’s tons of midnight adventuring that I am generally blissfully unaware of. The fact that the girls seemed entirely unbothered in the morning and the only reason I know about it is the broken fence and snow marks is definitely proof toward that assumption.

We’ve also had some incredibly brave deer come down the driveway and into the pasture in broad daylight. I’ve known for a while that they didn’t fear us here on the farm, but they’ve taken it to the extreme and hang out on the nearby hill most of the day. Then in the evenings they come down to munch on my hay bale (for what it’s worth, we do not feed or actively engage, they steal it from my storage space since I can’t secure it yet). I’m glad they feel the farm is a safe place to come hangout, wouldn’t want it any other way, but I’m always worried they are going to forget that other humans are scary and should be avoided.
This week I watched as two deer calmly maneuvered around my hotwire and through the fencing on the hill and around the pasture, with a surprising amount of dexterity and problem solving. Then I continued to watch as their third friend just busted through as though the fencing didn’t exist at all. Long story short? He’s fine as far as we could see from a distance, and I gotta rebuild my fencing again. He literally just sorta did a Kool-Aid Man impression and totaled out the hotwire and everything secured around it. He also made a show of yelling at the fence in his little deer noises. Definitely don’t think it was his intention to make such an entrance.
We’ve also had a lot of birds move into the barn, which Nellie enjoys immensely as she is a Disney princess who loves all of God’s creatures. She’s been known to let birds ride around on her back as she goes about her day. I’ve even had to scrub bird poop off her back, which is a downside to being a woodland princess that no one mentions. Nellie doesn’t mind though, she’s never met a critter she didn’t at least try to make friends with.
Ro, on the other hand, is not even remotely a fan of birds. She ranges from begrudgingly putting up with the little ones that run out in front of us on rides, to a deep, angry fear of ducks and cranes. I’ve often had to come rescue her because there’s a duck on the path from the pasture to the corral. When the crane is around, she won’t use that little pathway at all. I end up either chasing the crane away or feeding a little extra in the barn itself. She will angrily yell at the pheasants when they pass through, but if you’ve ever heard a pheasant…well they make quite the ruckus themselves. We have one we call Freddy the Four O’clock Pheasant, who, unsurprisingly, cries out for his family about four o’clock every day during the summer, and Ro has some choice words for him. She’s fairly annoyed at the magpies as well but she doesn’t completely lose her mind at them.

Anyways, the birds are making the kinda mess you’d expect birds to make in the barn, and it’s not really appreciated. I obviously wont kick them out, its winter time and all God’s creatures need refuge, but I’m not excited about consistently cleaning up the messes of a little nesting community. I hope they find more suitable nests in the spring, because last year I spent a lot of the spring being chased out of the arena by angry mama birds for accidentally invading their nests. Oh well, such is farm life.
I think I’ll wrap this up here, gotta go feed the girls and do a little deer spotting on the way.
Until we chat again, my friends!

She Cleans

Hello friends!

Well, I’ve been trying to clean a little bit around the house, but decluttering is so hard when you’re basically a borderline hoarder. I wish I was joking.

But since we’ve had to be inside more, and more importantly, since I’m working from my actual home now, it’s becoming increasingly necessary that the house actually work for us, so I’m slowly going through bits and bobs. I figure if I try to pick a single project every weekend (that isn’t already jampacked) eventually the house will come together. 

This weekend I tackled the upstairs linen closet. I wanted to get it cleaned out because I’ve been trying to utilize it as a first aid center as well as a bit of a long term project storage and laundry basket space. Frankly, I’ve been trying to annex it because my room is a bedroom, office, project space, part time tack room, and this year, I fit Santa’s entire dang toy shop in here. Understandably I need a little more space. 

And to be entirely honest, having baby clothes and fancy antique linens in a well traversed area of the house seemed a bit like a disaster waiting to happen anyway. So theoretically, they are going to be much safer in the downstairs closet. 

But at the moment they are all living on the guest room bed because I need to order space bags. At least I think I’m getting space bags, although I think technically the generic name is vacuum bag because yours truly isn’t really into spending a bunch more on a name if they generic works just as well, so were gonna test a cheaper, but still exceedingly well rated option. Fingers crossed.

The other main clutter I’m trying to figure out is my coffee mugs. You see, I have quite a little collection of mugs, some from different experiences, some that were gifts, and all that my family won’t use because most are handwash only. I totally understand that, it’s hard to not just be able to throw a dish in the dishwasher. 

So, to be respectful, I’ve been trying to move my mug collection out of the kitchen space, so that my family can have easier access to the mugs they want to use daily. Unfortunately, at the moment my mugs are carefully stored away in a drawer my brother wasn’t using in his dresser, but he really kinda needs that back now. The boys very sweetly offered to build me a custom display shelf, which I absolutely love the idea of, however with wood prices being what they are, most of their carpentry projects need to be on the back burner.

I have been looking at those mug storage containers, that people seem to use for moving and long term storage, but I worry because so many of my mugs are oddly shaped. I have one shaped like a Boo from Super Mario and a giant Snorlax mug I was gifted this Christmas that is literally 51 ounces. Its giant, I adore it, but I’m not sure how to store it. Eventually I was thinking about getting a little fake plant and making it look like a pot (without needing to drill any actual water holes, also, due to where my room is in the house, it’s not really light or airy enough for real plants, those tend to stay in the communal spaces) but that’s a little ways down the road since I don’t actually have shelf space at the moment.

Speaking of cute mugs, I found an adorable little mug that says “it’s fine, I’m fine, everything’s fine” at our local department store that I’m sending to a friend (although admittedly, if they still have it next time I’m in there, I might pick up one for me, since that’s one of my go-to phrases). She is going through a rough spot life wise, and I thought she might need a bit of a care package. I picked up the mug, a nice blanket, a couple of my favorite little kitchen things since she’s moving and somewhat starting over (a spoon rest and some magnetic scissors, both have been invaluable in my kitchen), and finally a good dose of the artisan chocolates my little town is known for. Got everything wrapped up with little inside jokes, a little card, and some protective tissue paper, and it’s now on its way to the coast. I hope she likes it.

Please Ignore that I propped it up on a lightbar for photos… also no stress, she doesn’t know about the blog, so there’s no spoilers here
Joe was reaaally trying to help but got reaaaallu bored too.

But other than that, it’s been pretty low key around here. I started trying to build out a digital to do list as a paper and time saving method. I like physical planners, but for the minutiae of a daily to do it feels like such a waste of paper. It’s also the only way I get things done, so just dropping the to-do list habit wasn’t going to work (I tried). I liked using my whiteboard for a while, but its big drawback was lack of portability. So, I’m trying Notion, which is basically fancy online excel, and that way I can have a weekly to-do list and add to it from my pc or phone. So far, I’ve been more pleased with the computer over the phone, but their roadmap shows planned improvements so I’m hopeful the mobile experience gets better.

That’s all for me, I wish you lots of luck in your new-years-new-organization endeavors. Lemme know if you have many good mug storage ideas, I need advice.

Until we chat again my friends!

Cabin Fever

Hello friends!
Let’s talk cold. Like -2 degrees cold. Because over the holiday weekends that’s where we ended up. I know we talk about the weather a lot here, but like, I lived in a place where it rained about 70% of the time and was always grey and overcast! You know why the bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle?! Because you get so used to the grey you can’t fathom another color! I’m sure it shocks no one that at one point my little heart considered studying meteorology, but really it is fascinating.

Believe it or not, these were warm estimates, although it has slowly started warming up a little. I am sitting under a comforter next to a space heater though, so not fast enough.

Or, in the case of -2 degrees where its normally not that cold: its terrifying. Sobering. Punched a big ole hole in my “we’re prepared” mindset.
For one main issue: it turns out my heating system stops working at about 20°. This is normally fine because while we regularly get down into the teens, it’s usually only for a few hours overnight. It’s a big problem when 11° is the high for the day. Its been ridiculously cold in the house. I’ve had two comforters on my bed and basically don’t go anywhere without some form of blanket. My little space heater has been working hard because most tech devices don’t appreciate the uncharacteristically cold temperatures either.
It also caused the heaters to my outdoor water supply to quit. Which means literally everything froze up and I had split hoses turning my property into a lovely ice rink the minute we got a little thaw going. Not ideal.
I finally snuck out to get some hay, i was kinda worried about it because we haven’t really had the flatbed out in the snow yet, and due to the temperatures and such neither county had bothered with plowing the roads. In their defense, its been scary cold and dumping lots of snow, plus this time last year they accidentally parked a plow in my neighbors field, which I’d imagine is quite the deterrent. It was very odd to walk into my room look out on a pretty white snow patch (I wasn’t completely over it last year like I am already this year) and just seeing one poor gentleman and my neighbors standing out staring at a plow sitting askew down an embankment into my neighbors field. I’d imagine that was a very scary ride.

Poor dad took a fall in the snow this year, which has not helped his love of the snow, but he’s doing okay now. Jammed his back for a while, the poor thing. He’s already fighting a bad back so I’m trying to help keep him off the slick stuff as much as possible.
The upside to cold temperatures is it’s made staying inside a little easier. I’m less tempted to spend a whole day puttering around outside, which works out since we’ve been crazy swamped at work the last few weeks. My boss made sure we all got lovely holiday weekends, which I am so grateful for, but we are in a highly time sensitive space so there’s always a million things to be done and we are now playing a little more catchup than I think we had realized. I’m simultaneously glad and a little bit regretful I didn’t take any extra PTO for the holidays, because I was able to keep most of my plates spinning, but also, I’m kinda missing the usual new year refreshed feeling.
But it’s also cool because for the first time ever in my actual career I might be able to take a few days off this summer. I always got magically called in on days off in previous roles (except for the last one, to be fair, I just wasn’t there long enough to try a vacation). My first “grown up” role I worked 365 days a year because my boss always forgot they needed something on the weekend or on the rare holiday and I didn’t meet the priority standards for using any time off. We were not in any sort of hurry either, so I never understood. Oh well, each chapter of life is a learning experience. Some lessons blow but whatever.
In any case the crazy hours at work have meant less time to properly focus on the blog, or the farm, or laundry (its getting a little dire, not gonna lie) so I’m hoping to figure out a way of better juggling it all. Especially come springtime because I have plans! I have so many farm related plans. Some may be cost and time prohibitive, most involve me not breaking myself midsummer and needing to drastically scale back everything, and all of them require a good work life balance.
Also, in a completely unrelated realm of topic: I totally selfishly want credit for recording two 45 second snippets showing off some of the snow and my plans were dashed! Dashed I tell you! By the fact that they simply will. Not. Transfer. Off my phone. Help!

Imagine this, but in video form.

(This may be a sign this blog needs a companion YouTube channel so I could upload off my phone… but that sounds really, really scary). Anyways, if I figure this out, I’ll tack them on to the next post, or maybe just put them in their own little mid-week thing? But that’s putting a lot of confidence in my abilities to make my phone talk to my computer, and they simply won’t! Hatfield’s and McCoys dressed up as windows and android.
Welp, this went entirely off the rails, didn’t it? This is what happens when I can’t be outside. I need spring!
Until we chat again my friends 

Auld Lang Syne

Hello friends!
Happy 2022!
We made it. 2021 was an objectively very weird year, to be honest, it almost made 2020 look mundane, and I was scarily unemployed and surviving on my savings for a portion of 2020.
2021 had some extreme highs and lows.
Obviously some of the lows included losing family members both of the two and four legged variety. And the unfortunate issue of really screwing up my elbow with a pretty crazy wipeout off the back of Ro. I’ll eventually have full range of motion again, right? Hopefully?
But the highs were crazy too!
Obviously a big one: I started this blog! I can’t believe I sat down in March to get started, that feels like so long ago. Which is entirely weird since I feel like I still have no idea what I’m doing. I have so many ideas for this little corner of the web and am slowly figuring out how I want to implement them. But to think, I’d talked about starting a farm blog for a while, and it took leaving a job and my then coworkers wanting farm updates still for me to actually start. Its turned into quite a fun journal entry for me of sorts, a way to keep accountable and really think about what’s been happening. It’s also exercised a muscle I haven’t in a long time, like many kids I loved to write, mostly fiction, but our school system did it’s best to kill that love. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.

I was not a fan of the first few hours of the new year, meteorologically speaking

Another huge high was how close Ro, Nel, and I got. Everything from pasture picnics to figuring out mounting without both arms, we kept bumping into moments of growth and trust building between the three of us, and while they weren’t always easy (looking at you, frustrated tears over mounting block woes) we came out with an easy sort of calm about hanging out, something I’ve longed after for many years. Something that can only be achieved when you get to work with and love critters that are solely yours and beyond a weekly lesson or show-lease relationship. I’m so grateful for those horses and trainers that came before but am happier than I’ve ever been with Ro and Nel. Truly, while I’ll never be Olympic levels of good at this sport, I firmly believe I was destined to be a horse mom.
Other great highs include starting at a job I really love! After job hopping a little, entirely unintentionally, I think I have finally found a place to settle. My boss and coworkers are pretty understanding, I don’t regularly get put down, harassed, or threatened with termination over silly, inconsequential things or unavoidable circumstances, and help is generally a git comment or slack message away. Plus, I work with one of my best friends (different teams, same department) and just the comfort of an always friendly face is invaluable. One day I’ll share some of the lessons I’ve learned during my short time in the software development world and the difference between a terrible job, a good job that’s a bad fit, and the right job. Also, the concept of the right role for now. Might make a good post.

Quite proud of our new years dinner too, but ignore my yorkshire pudding. It tasted yummy but didnt poof

So, the standard question this time of year: any resolutions? Not really, in that I’m a firm believer in starting whenever you can, so I generally don’t wait for the new year. But I would like to continue with some current goals. First, I’d like to shake off the work burnout I’ve carried with me from earlier roles and figure out the best way to put lack of confidence and imposter syndrome in its place. I just told you how much I love my job, but the painful truth is no matter how great a position is, if you’ve hit exhaustion and senseless anxieties, you gotta find solutions. I’ve been trying out solutions for much of the latter half of 2021. Secondly, I want to get my health generally more stable (no more constant colds) and lose some extra pounds that seemed to follow me home from college and set up permanent residence. Even if the numbers on the scale don’t move, I want to feel better and more in control of my health. And not huff and puff up my driveway. Finally, I’ve been working more on “acting on ideas”. Not in an “impulse shop” or “start 80 new hobbies” kinda way, but more in a “I really would like to rearrange this space” or “I really want to finally add that section to the blog” kinda way. I tend to get locked in the planning stage, and sometimes something as silly as hanging an art piece on my wall is procrastinated in the name of “thinking it through”. This blog almost didn’t happen for that same reason. This actually affects every part of my life, so I’ve been really keen to start practicing that new habit. Stay tuned for progress.
So what are your goals or resolutions for 2022? What were your highs and lows? Got ideas for the blog? Funny new year’s stories? I wanna hear it all!
Happy 2022 y’all! Let’s make it ours!
Until we chat again my friends! 

The Ho-Ho-Holidays

Hello friends!

(Happy New Years! I am admittedly writing this on the 29th, because I won’t be around the internet much this weekend, but I hope your New Years Weekend is everything you wished, and that 2022 is amazing!)

We did it! Another lovely Christmas in the books! It’s kinda funny though, this year, because I was so careful about spreading the joy out in small doses throughout the month, I think this is the first year where the relief is fairly small, since there simply was not a lot of stress to start. A wonderful Christmas miracle.

We had such fun at the family secret Santa on Christmas eve, got to see some family members who are usually working odd hours or generally don’t make it to as many events, obviously spent a lot of time holding the newest family members, and I think my person liked their gift.

I was randomly assigned my cousin’s fiancé as my secret Santa giftee this year, and since I know family is very important to him and he has a brand new little daughter, I opted to give him a family photoshoot opportunity with all the bells and whistles, prints, a big old frame, the works. A couple people have asked if that was a cheat since I take photos as a hobby and have done shoots for the family before, but to me, saying yes to a photoshoot, whether as a gift (which I’ve done before) or not, guarantees a minimum of about 25-40 hours dedicated work to a project (my cousins wedding was actually closer to 60), and it’s usually kinda expensive for me too, so it’s definitely not a “well I’ll just do this because I have nothing better” gift. At least, I certainly don’t see it that way.

My cousin hosted Christmas since she has such a lovely little home, she’s so proud of. She should be, its adorable and she and her husband have put such time and effort into making it a cozy place to be. They’ve really made it a lovely place to raise kiddos and take on the world together. It’s got lots of little old home quirks but is also updated to show off their personalities.

She made a wonderful dinner, and we all potlucked the side dishes, which worked out amazingly as usual. There was so much good food that I need to run about 40 miles to work off that meal, I ate so much. 

I made green bean casserole with bacon and sauteed mushrooms, as well as no bake peanut butter bars. I know the casserole was delicious, I got to try some, and it was gone before seconds could be had, and I’m hoping the peanut butter bars were good, they were gone before i could try them myself. I assume that’s a good sign. I think it’s also a sign to make some more for new years. I’m also going to make some for my neighbors as a thank you for always scraping my driveway with their snow blade, I’ve never asked but he’s so big hearted that my driveway is almost always cleared day of. I want to make sure he knows he’s appreciated.

I remember as a child someone told me, I wish I remembered who, that calories don’t count over the holidays. Obviously, that’s not true, but I think the sentiment behind it is “don’t make yourself miserable over the holidays, just be prepared to put in the work before and after” and I think that’s fair. For what it’s worth, I also joke that they don’t count because you do so much running around on the holidays you’ve pre burnt them off. Also, I just love watching my brother short out when I say that. I always call it girl math.

Christmas day was lovely and calm, we got up late, and I started the day by baking some cinnamon rolls (that were preassembled, so they were very easy to get in the oven). While they baked, we did our stockings and enjoyed watching the valley slowly wake up. 

I definitely always push the idea that the holiday is not about gifts, as a Christian I think it’s important to consider beyond the platitudes the “reason for the season” and give some thanks and consideration for the overarching importance of the Christmas holiday, but there is something to be said for realizing how much love and effort went into the gifts you received. From my shy little cousin picking out some lovely spice blends for my secret Santa gift, to my dad’s choice of a wonderful light bar for the front of my car (something I’ve been talking about for eons) it was clear to me that a lot of consideration went into my gift choices, and I felt so loved and seen. If similar sentiments are to be believed, Christmas morning had similar vibes for my immediate family members too. My dad got a lovely desk upgrade (which has been riding around in my car under a blanket for over a month because it outweighed me by a decent amount and was both taller and wider than I so I simply could not move it by myself) and I finally (finally!) after many tries in recent years, surprised my brother with a video game he wasn’t expecting but totally loved. My mom’s surprise gift was a hair straightener that is built to work a little better with her disabilities, so now she can do almost anything shed like with her hair independently, and independence is in vogue in our house lately.

I, uh, clearly don’t have a gift for arranging gifts in a decorative way. Also, I couldn’t get the stocking to hang on the stove after I fill them, so they sat in each person’s preferred sitting spot instead

All in all, three days of relaxing, feeling very loved (and very full of food) were much needed, we watched the snow fall, caught a MythBusters marathon, and generally slowed down. Going back to work was a little more of a chore than expected, sure wish I had taken the week off haha.

Until we chat again my friends.

A Quiet Week as Santa’s Elf

Hello friends!
Things are actually fairly chill on the farm, which is a little weird, considering how close to Christmas we are. I’m definitely writing a little early this week, just like with Thanksgiving, mostly so I don’t forget to post. Also going to make use of the schedule feature, although I get a little nervous trusting schedule features. I’ve written enough of them to know it’s really easy to foul them up.
Gifts are all wrapped, and honestly? Can I shamelessly brag for a few? I was on top of it this year, I had all my shopping done by December 1st and 80% of my wrapping done by the fifth. And the entirety of my wrapping was done last weekend. I’m never ever that on top of things. It was such a pleasant feeling.
It helped a ton that my little brother is usually my partner in crime, but he works in shipping and handling, so the closer to Christmas we get, the less time we have, and if I want help I have to get it before, what we refer to as peak season. Since my biggest stress is shopping during this time of year, he helped me get the lions share done before December, so we weren’t majorly behind waiting on his crazy shifts to end.
It did take us forever to put up exterior lights. Our schedules barely meshed and when they did, the weather wouldn’t cooperate at all. It was heavy winds and rains the entire weekend we had set aside to set them up. I finally snuck out and got some of them up after work one day, my dad came out to help, because poor Christopher was so sick, and the weather was just barely cooperating. After helping me reach some of the higher points, my sweet dad offered this summer to put up a permanent set of hooks so, should I have a reason to set up the outdoor lighting alone, I won’t have to wrestle the staple gun up and shoot staples over my head while holding lights. I am very excited about that prospect.
It’s honestly not that I don’t want help, I swear I can totally be a team player, but when you are trying to work around your own work schedule, everyone else schedule, and the unpredictability of care-giving, tasks that can just be picked up when you have a free moment and solved quickly, those are gold. So, having a better Christmas light solution sounds silly, but it means next year I’ll be able to cross it off my list, even if I have to get put at 4 am to do so, without bugging others. Or, like right now, when I have to go fix a dead strand of lights, it’s much easier.
It’s been so windy and gross lately, with rain and snow squalls, freezing temps followed by warm wet weather, basically everything is majorly soupy and borderline unsafe. We’ve been out breaking up ice rinks in the arena and corral for the horses, since it pours and turns into a lake, and then freezes into a slippery situation. I’ve made plans to fix the drainage in those areas, hopefully in the spring, but even if it was fixed, the sheer amount of moisture we’ve gotten this year is completely crazy and I don’t know if my simple gutter and French drain solution would suffice. Definitely makes it hard to work outside, that’s for sure. The wind is so biting, even on the warmer days where we break freezing it’s too cold to be outside. Ears get to hurting, jaw gets to hurting, fingers stop working, too cold. The weird intermittent fog doesn’t help either. It also means I haven’t been outside with my camera in a while, and I miss it!
We had quite the funny situation in my house earlier in the week. I’m not hosting Christmas this year, my cousin wanted a swing at it, so all I have to do is bring a side and a dessert, which I am so excited about. I plan on making a jazzed up green bean casserole and a batch of no bake chocolate peanut butter bars. But earlier in the week, I went to double check the ingredients for my dishes, and I found my mom and dad had gotten very excited about the canned green beans and had eaten the base for my side dish. I cracked up, made a run into town, and all is well, but it was a silly situation to find. I also know I need to keep canned green beans in the house more often, they were a total hit apparently. Also, by the time you’re reading this, unless you’ve read it the same moment it’s gone up, the casserole and bars are done and being enjoyed, hopefully, by my sweet family in Christmas eve. We plan to hide out in our jammies with cinnamon rolls on Christmas day.
I hope your holidays are merry and bright, whichever ones you celebrate, and safe and cozy and restful and wonderful. I’ll catch up with you next week.
Until we chat again my friends! 

Y’all Ever Just Shake Your Head At A Situation?

Hello friends!
Okay, were going to start off with some…  weird? and kinda sad news. I’ve been putting off writing about it, but I am documenting the farm, and this has been a big, frustrating deal on the farm.
Juliet has moved in with the neighbors, and no longer lives on the farm. The good news is, when she was disappearing for days at a time, she wasn’t pinned down by coyotes, or antagonizing an old farm dog, she was camped at the neighbors.  The other good news is that, realistically, she’s probably happier over there as she is the absolute center of attention. The bad news is, the way it went down semi-soured my relationship with the neighbors, and honestly? I did my best for that to not happen.
I’ll give you a brief rundown, and then I’ll let it be, because I’m still just a little heated about it and it’s not good for the soul to harp on angry things.
Basically, one day, after Juliet had taken off again, my neighbor called to let me know a little black and white cat was over at their house and asked if she was mine, since “she’s so well taken care of”. She talked for over an hour (which I did not mind at all, if an elder is willing to story tell, you usually learn a thing) about how Juliet looked just like their old cat Hemingway and how they’ve had so many strays dropped on the farm. Side note, this is a topic I think I’ve touched on before, and may eventually dedicate a post too, because abandoned animals are a huge rural problem. Anyways, she casually mentions if I don’t come get Juliet, they were thinking about taking her to the humane society. I told her to please not, and I’d troubleshoot how to entice Juliet home.
I’ll spare you the long, drawn out, two week period where nightly I’d get a call from my neighbor telling me I needed to better take care of my cat because she was over at her house again. I went and physically picked up Juliet several times but shed bolt from the car back to the neighbors as soon as I parked. We started feeding her more and fancier food, lots of scratches, even separated her and her sister, as we thought there was maybe a territory dispute going on.
Friends, I could not for the life of me work out how to keep this outdoor barn cat at home. She could not come in the house, as not only is she pretty dang destructive, my mom and brother are both dangerously allergic to cats. I tried locking her in one of the outbuildings with food and water and you’d think I’d threatened her with death. I was at a total loss.
Meanwhile, my neighbor is calling every night, and getting more and more pointed. Suddenly my “well cared for” cat was being abused because I didn’t feed her whole cream and fresh fish every night, I should be letting her in the house despite the fact that it would almost certainly end in an ER run. I was trying my best to keep up a calm, accommodating tone, but I admittedly was getting frustrated with the whole situation.
And then one night she says this: “well Amanda, I simply find it so inhumane to not feed an animal, so we’ve been feeding her canned fish and cream. You should try to buy the treats we give her, and she loves watching the nightly news with me. If you just tried a little harder, it’s easy to keep this cat around”
That’s right friends, all this time I was competing with canned fish and whole cream served inside and wondering why suddenly her warm barn accommodations with an always full food bowl weren’t enough, after three years. I was set up to lose. I didn’t even say anything in retort, I was shockingly calm for someone who got this information very late on a work night, and then still had to go out, in the driving rain, to pick up Juliet and fruitlessly bring her home, knowing it would change nothing.
I’m now fairly convinced my neighbor fell in love with Juliet and was essentially hoping I’d release her to them. I just wish she’d mentioned this before I spent a ton of time, effort, and funds driving over there every night to pick her up.
The final tally? I miss Juliet terribly, and I worry because it feels weird still to not have her check in every night, but if she’s truly happier over there I won’t stand in the way. I hope they’ve given up on the humane society idea, or that they would at least let me know so I can go re-adopt my own cat. I tried to let my neighbor know of the cat becomes too much to send her back my way, but somehow, she got it in her head i don’t feed my animals and isn’t really speaking to me. Which is doubly annoying because we used to have a little inkling of a neighborhood watch.
The only upside, Cordelia is an absolutely spoiled princess of a barn cat now, two warm beds, no sharing food, prime mouse hunting grounds to herself. Living the dream.
Well, that’s story took many more words to write than I thought it would, and as it turns out, it’s a pretty fresh wound because I’m a little sour about it all over again. But that’s the story of how my neighbor waged minor psychological warfare and ultimately stole my cat. Told you it was weird news.
Anyways, happier topics next time. I feel a lot better now that y’all know. It’s a weird thing, because I could’ve just ignored this event and never written about it and y’all would never have known, but I felt like I had some big news I had to break, like when you have to tell a small child their playdate was cancelled.
In case you were wondering if I take this blog too seriously? Yes, clearly.
Alright you lovely souls, hug your felines close today for me, keep a little dirt under your nails, and say hi to your neighbors if you see them.
Until we chat again my friends! 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Aaaand in my office….whyyyyyy????

Hello friends!
Last weekend was a whole lot, but very very fun! We packed a lot into one weekend, and unfortunately, continuing the trend of 2021, I am not feeling very well after the fact. Spent a good portion of this week just trying to survive my workday so I could go back to bed. Which is less than ideal when I also had a million things that needed to get done.
The parade was incredibly fun! Even though it was absolutely frigid, the turnout was the best I have ever seen it, I think due to it simply not happening last year. They tried, bless their hearts, and we had a Christmas light car cruise, but it simply wasn’t the same as a full-on float filled parade. This year the crowd was in the mood to party and it really lifted the spirits of all involved.
We went with a similar theme from 2019, because we still had most of the setup so it was easy (which is important when half your crew just had kids, or is working long hours, or is sick) and in 2019 our float had a serious technical malfunction and we went dark halfway through the parade. We made judging, which was nice, but we were majorly bummed that our float died, it was super avoidable too, someone’s child wasn’t being supervised and climbed onto the float during judging, refused to get down, smashed up a bunch of our lights, then the movement of the float shorted out what was left. An unfortunate situation, honestly, I’m just glad the kiddo wasn’t hurt. And I guess it worked out because we ran the float again this year to much acclaim. We also threw out 100 pounds of saltwater taffy to the crowds, our float has a reputation for that, and of course, that helps win the crowd over, I’m sure.
My little cousin walked with me the whole time carrying the banner, as has become our tradition. We started when she was three and barely toddling along. She was very brave until the crowds got close and continued to be very brave from behind me after the fact. Totally get it, she has a little broken arm and wrist (fell off the monkey bars at school), so I’d imagine lots of people around as you’re walking seems especially scary. But she was a little trooper.
(I am scrounging for photos of the float but my phone overheated and died and I didn’t get any personally, as soon as someone sends me some of theirs, I’ll share them with you guys!)

In the meantime here’s a sneaky picture of some of the decorations my mom has been working super hard on. She takes it very seriously

My cousins baby shower was a lot of fun too! I held little Kamila for the better part of it, she was napping, and it allowed her mama to eat and socialize. It also gave me an excuse to sit, and people watch (I feel I should point out that at this moment in the weekend I wasn’t feeling sick at all, I wouldn’t have held Kamila or any of the kiddos, and I would have not even gone to the event, if I had been feeling ill. Also, worth pointing out that this is more of a “I need to be kind to my body” sick and less of a “serious flu” kind of thing). We had a lovely dinner and played several games. Some of them I knew, gift bingo and such, but a couple were new, like the game where you had to guess the baby item just by feel. My dad, who is pretty close to the new mama and was enjoying her baby shower and holding his grandniece very much, jokingly guessed all car parts.
In other news, it snowed this week, for quite a bit of the week. Luckily there wasn’t an insane amount of accumulation, but definitely enough to be an inconvenience. I learned recently that meteorological winter and astrological winter are two different things, for tracking purposes, meteorological winter starts December first, and with our early snow, I can see why they do that.
It’s been such a weird year in terms of heavy precipitation, I’m not sure why the snow surprised me, but it did. Caught me very much off guard because last winter we didn’t get snow until February. I mean, it would occasionally flurry, but nothing would stick at all. This year, our first snow was the day before Thanksgiving, which worried me greatly because I didn’t want people to have to drive on dangerous roads for Turkey and fellowship. Luckily that melted off pretty quickly. This week its sticking around a little longer, although it’s still getting warm during the midafternoon, so we end up with a muddy slush that freezes overnight. Not terribly ideal. It especially drives the horses nuts because its slippery either way when walking on your toenails. It’s also significantly less fun to snack out in the pasture, so I’ve been leaving little piles of alfalfa in the run in, so if they give up there’s a little snack inside. Some days they eat it, some days I add to it for dinner when we close the big pasture for the evening.

Joe loves it though, big fan of playing in the snow. But a Joe is just a big fan of life, so this should surprise no one.
Until we chat again my friends.

Giving Thanks

Hello friends!
Happy late Thanksgiving! Oh, my goodness what a day it was. Our extended family growing and growing, and I’ve started to joke that we are going to need to have holidays in shifts if we get much bigger. We’ve debated asking to utilize the church’s event space, but it’s not very cozy so I’m never very keen on that idea. And honestly, its heaps of fun to get everyone together for some food and fun, no matter how squished we all are.
We got to meet our newest little family member this Thanksgiving. Kamila joined us a couple days before Thanksgiving, rather unexpectedly, since she was expected to arrive middle of December. We were all a little on edge, but mama and baby are happy and healthy, Kamila just wanted to join in on the Thanksgiving festivities.
She spent a fair amount of Thanksgiving sleeping happily in various family members arms, happily kicking her little feet while dreaming about who knows what. I think everyone had a different idea about what sport she was dreaming of. I personally think she was riding a barrel horse to a new pattern record, but others thought maybe track, soccer, or gymnastics. All fair guesses, but not as cool as mine (can you feel the bias?).
This was the first year I was not terribly stressed about Thanksgiving, and it was actually a very pleasant, chill holiday. This is my third year hosting so I’d like to think I’m getting better at it, or at least as a family we are finding out collective stride. Got everything done fairly early, took a “whatever happens, happens” approach to the food, and even slept in a little (the joys of everyone only needing to bring a dish or two, no one is up at the crack of dawn heating an oven).

This year we had a turkey, a ham, about 7 pounds of carnitas. It was amazingly delicious, but as a family we devoured that fairly quickly. I think next year we are going to need to add a second Turkey back into the equation (we did so last year and had a few more leftovers). We did however have so many pies that I’m freezing a few and my grandma is freezing a few for our Christmas brunch (don’t worry, that happens usually the first full week of December, the pies will hold over). My mom and I attempted homemade pumpkin pie because we couldn’t make it up to Costco this year. I will usually stand fiercely by my Costco pies and say nothing tops them, but as of this holiday that’s a whole lie. These pies were delicious! Our only concern was the recipe we were working from called for two pies, and we ended up with three, so I had to pull in a prebaked pie crust i had planned for something else. No biggie though, my little pudding pie would not have been nearly as good as the pumpkin ones. I was really concerned about sticking a prebaked crust in the oven, but it worked out pretty well. We got lucky.

The night before Thanksgiving, during all the baking and prep work, our houseguest arrived. He’s a childhood friend of my uncles, basically my grandmas fourth son, and a great help around the farm, so I definitely didn’t mind putting him up for the weekend. He’s also just a lovely human in general so he’s always welcome. I do always feel bad though, when a guest comes around a holiday, because they get a couple days of slightly crazy, anxious Amanda, followed by a couple days of comatose, post craziness Amanda. Neither are my finest look. I always tell people to come back in the dog days of summer, when I’m too busy basking in sunshine and summer activities to be crazy or comatose.
After Thanksgiving I cleaned up my house, made an ill-advised attempt at riding in our soggy arena (which is now frozen, joy of joys), and tried to catch up on some sleep. While I love having Joe around (yep, my houseguest shared a name with my dog, yep, it was as confusing as it sounds) weekend visits are hard because they are long enough you need chill out time, but short enough you feel like you’re wasting time if you sleep in. It’s a little bit of a catch-22, and needless to say I’m running on empty this week. Got a pretty busy weekend though, the light parade (and building the float for that), as well as Kamila’s baby shower, which is now a post baby shower, or something.
Anyways, I have so much to chat with you all about, but starting a new topic here might make this post a mammoth, so I’ve started a list of things and can’t wait to start writing the next post (don’t worry, intermixed with the catch up will be stories from float building, baby showers, and of course, the farm updates, got to keep yall up to date).
Until we chat again my friends! 

Mid Week Roundup

Hello friends!

I’m writing you a little early because I have simply so much news and I knew if I waited Thanksgiving would probably warrant some space in a post and honestly? These can get a little all over the place as it is haha. Also, let’s be real here, I’ll be in a food coma and totally forget to post if I wait. You know me, I know me, there no need to pretend.

So, to start, I’m sitting here, looking out a window that looks out over my neighbors field. It’s my office/bedroom window, it gets a lot of use, I see a decent number of deer, snow, and tractors out this window. A couple mornings ago, out this window, I saw a bobcat. 

And I lost my mind briefly. 

It was just sauntering along, in the bright of the morning, acting as though he isn’t a pretty major threat to several of the beings on my farm. Funnily enough, I didn’t actually believe my eyes at first, as they are generally pretty stealthy, but the more I looked at it, the more I couldn’t reconcile it with a barn cat. Then it clicked.

I went running (well, quick waddling, I was wearing fuzzy socks on hardwoods, I was not going anywhere fast unless I wanted to eat floor) to my parents room shouting at my dad to come verify, but he just missed him. He believed me though, and we are being extra cautious for a while, since we have visual confirmation of them in the area.

To be honest, I’m very aware they are around, I’m under no delusions they just moved in, but I sure like when I can be ignorant about it. Just like I’m aware wolves, moose, and occasional mountain lion stray down here, but if I don’t see them, I don’t have to consider it ya know? Although admittedly the moose usually make the newspaper. 

We had one shortly before I moved home permanently that took up residence in the school yard and the neighbors felt so bad for it, they started feeding it. I’m sure you can imagine why it decided to stay. So, they had to carefully relocate it for everyone’s safety. 

Speaking of the dogs and keeping them safe, (yes, it’s a loose transition but let me have it) we made pumpkin dog treats and the dogs have lost their minds over it.

It took forever to gather ingredients because little Watson has a yet-to-be-pinned-down-but-were-pretty-sure-its-eggs allergy, and a weird amount of dog treat recipes are adamant you can’t swap eggs. You can, for what it’s worth, most of the time swap eggs with applesauce. For the dogs I created dog treats from applesauce, oat flour, pumpkin, and peanut butter. I really wanted pumpkin in the treats because this time of year, when the dogs spend more time lounging inside than running around in the sun, they could use a little gut health help, if you catch my drift. They live in the freezer for preservation, but I pull a couple out for each dog, warm them a little in the convection oven and they get just soft enough to be nice for my toothless wonder, Scooby Doo. I tried them, for science, they were basically an unsweetened oat cookie, relatively meh. But the dogs loved them. Funnily enough, the horses? Not so much.

In absolute amazing news of the week, Nellie wore a horse blanket for the first time ever! For a little context, I got the girls coolers for Christmas, basically for warm up and cool out so they can still have their fluffy winter coats and i can control body temp a little easier. I got one for Nellie because she can work up quite the sweat being terrified of whatever were learning about, but I didn’t expect her to actually wear it right away. My sweet girl has some sensory issues, touching things can be quite the meltdown, but she loves the cooler. I couldn’t believe it. I kept pushing it just a little more and more, planning to back off as soon as a couple cookies stopped fixing the scary, but she was happily wearing it, all cozy and warm, snacking on cookies, in no time. She’s definitely her mama’s baby, there’s nothing like a warm blanket and some cookies on a cold afternoon. I prefer chocolate chip though personally.

Welp, I think that’s about it for us here, I have about a million little things to accomplish before Turkey Day, so I’ll leave it here. Happy early Thanksgiving! I hope your holiday is magical!

Until we chat again my friends!