I Missed The Snow!

It came in sneakily last night while we were sleeping.  The fire was burning warmly, I had visited the loo before climbing under 4 big quilts and all the critters were quiet so I really didn’t feel a need to get up out of my bed and look for it. I thought it might announce itself somehow.  But it didn’t.  And I missed it.  There wasn’t a lot to see, apparently.  This morning there are a few sprinkles stubbornly glued to the windshield of my car, and from what I hear, the road is slick in spots.  But sadly, the snow cloud zoomed silently over my farmhouse and went on its merry way, dropping bits of crystallized water on other folks in other places….maybe it they got to see it?

In any case, I am not HOPING for snow.  Makes life much harder around here.  But if it comes my way, dang it, I’d at least like to see it.

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Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve and it has turned cold again.  I was sort of hoping for a 70 degree Christmas day but it doesn’t seem like that is going to happen.  I haven’t wrapped any presents yet, in fact, I only started shopping yesterday.  I know, bad me.  I get so caught up in helping other people with their Christmas gifts that I forget that its even Christmas! 

We are up to our eyeballs in mud here from all the rain we got over about a 48 hour period.  It stopped raining sometime during the day yesterday, but oh my goodness, the mud!  I hope that the horses still have feet when I go to trim them this week…for all I know, they might not have feet anymore.  :(  (Don’t worry, no one is limping except the TB who always limps a little)…still, I’d like a mud-free pasture for everyone for Christmas…or at least new year…that is my Christmas wish for the animals…a mud-free pasture…except the pig…she would not be happy without mud. 

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2013 On The Way Out

This year has been both a really tough year, as well as a really great year for us here at Shantara Acres Farm.  It started out last January with me (the head milkmaid and soap maker) going back to school full time.  I have always and forever wanted to finish my degree, and when the financing came through I decided to go for it.  Sure, I’ll owe money probably forever, but in the face of a dream, what is money?

I’ve learned a few things this year that I’d like to share with everyone today, in hopes of providing a little encouragement to those who might be feeling just a little lost.

The first thing is that if you have a dream, and you must have a dream, you must follow that dream wherever it leads you.  Nobody is going to give you permission to go after your dream, and in fact, even people who love you may stand in your way, worried about you and what will become of the you they knew.  We are here on this Earth for just a short time.  Every second counts and we must spend as many of those seconds as we can in a forward motion towards the highest goals of our hearts…towards what makes our souls sing and shine.

I’ve learned that despite what others may say, the acquisition of money should never be the goal, instead, money is what flows naturally to you, when you are engaged in your dream and connecting with the great spirit.  (however you define that great spirit).  The greatest success in life is doing what you love.  And that may look different from day to day.

I’ve learned that Art and Creativity are NOT options to engage in when all the chores are done.  I’ve learned that Art and Creativity are the REASON for life…we still have to brush our teeth and go to work, but when we live from our hearts, and our souls are flourishing, we are at our highest best, and are a much bigger light in the world than when we are simply chasing around trying to get the bills paid.  The bills will get paid, we might as well enjoy the doing of it.

I’ve discovered, through my farm life, that the business end of the farm does not always need to make sense on paper to be successful.  Sometimes the smallest goat in the herd steps up her milk production in the fall, when everyone else is dropping down, and becomes the most amazing milker ever.  Sometimes the babies who don’t get sold in the fall hang around in the cold and bitter winter to provide hugs, kisses, and sweetness to humans who might not get that from those they love.  Sometimes those hay-burning horses out in the pasture provide enough beauty to last a whole day…and keep their caretakers out of the mental hospitals…who can put a price on that?

While I’ve never enjoyed the killing of things, I’ve discovered that a whole freezer full of my own, humanely raised and loved pork can provide a degree of freedom and relief as I pass by the conventionally raised meats in the grocery store…steaks and chops from animals that lived a life of stress and confinement, with happy moments few and far between.  I’ve learned that there is a certain rhythm that exists between humans, animals, and the planet, and that by living closer to the land, I’m able to connect with that rhythm and exist with it, without exploiting it.

I’ve learned that the people that you love don’t always love you back, at least not in the way that you’d hoped, but that life goes on and we can be happy despite being disappointed.  And in fact, it’s those disappointments and the realization that we might never truly please the one we think we love the most, that can catapult us into becoming our very best self.  And trying new things.  And going out on that limb.  Just when we think all is lost, we realize, finally, that we actually have nothing to lose.  Nothing.  And when we lose that fear, we gain our soul.  Again.

I wish you all a beautiful, peaceful end to 2013, and hope to see you all on the other side of January, fully engaged in living  your dreams.

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My youngest son Brandon a few years ago!

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Black Friday Discount Sale! Stock up on soaps!

We are having a special Black Friday Sale, good until Midnight tonight.  Take 20% off all orders of $20 or more. 

Limited quantities.  When purchasing boxed sets of 4 or 8 soaps, please list several alternative scents.

Use coupon code:  BLACKFRIDAYDISCOUNT

See shop at:

shantarassoaps.com

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Fall Is Here

This is my most beautiful girl (I think).  She has her mothers friendly and outgoing personality.  She is the loudest goat in the herd.  You can set your clock by this girl, who KNOWS when it's time to milk, and is NOT impressed by the time change.

This is my most beautiful girl (I think). She has her mothers friendly and outgoing personality. She is the loudest goat in the herd. You can set your clock by this girl, who KNOWS when it’s time to milk, and is NOT impressed by the time change.

I hope you are all enjoying the cool fall weather as much as I am!  No, I’m not a winter person at all, but with the onset of cooler temperatures, beautiful fall foliage, and the absence of flies and other pesky bugs, it’s always a welcome change from the heat that can sometimes be stifling here in Central Virginia.  The horses are always very happy about the cooler temps and get really frisky.  The goats however, are not similarly impressed.

Everything I read about my breed, the Alpine, says that they are hardy and do excellent in the harsh conditions of the Swiss Alps.  My girls must not be reading the same books as I do because they do not seem to like winter at all.  While the horses are running around kicking up mud clods, the goats are looking at me as if to say, “WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HEAT?”

For dairy goats, who can get thin at the drop of a hat, mine are pretty portly.  The bucks got sold last summer so that there wouldn’t be any craziness this fall with breeding woes.  I chose not to breed this season while I’m working on my degree full time.  With the extra weight they are carrying (due to lower milk production this time of year and only once a day milking) I expected that they would be only too happy to see the cold air.  But, they are not.  They love nothing more than to lay in the summer sun chewing their cud until it gets too hot.  It’s a little harder to do that when the ground is frosty.

Every girl on the farm is in heat right now.  They are noisy and boisterous and complain constantly about the lack of an attractive suitor.  I should have known they would not be happy about no fall romantic escapades.  Hopefully they will forgive me.  Or at least quit cycling.

It’s a rough life out here, but one I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Wishing you all a wonderful fall!

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May Showers Bring….HAY!

I’ve heard that April showers bring May flowers, but since it’s may now and central Virginia is getting hammered with “showers” aka…torrential rain, I’m sure that can only mean one thing…that the hay season will be GREAT this year…if the hay farmers can ever find a dry window of time to cut it, that is. 

Driving country roads I see beautiful hay field after beautiful hay field.  Miles of thick green grass of uniform height and not a weed in sight…wish my pastures look like that.  I have to settle for green and clovery in the goat pasture, and just a smidge of green over rich, dark brown, horse-manure enriched dirt in the horse pasture.  Even with piles of hay they still scarf every blade of grass they can find, and the rye grass I planted for winter cover is all gone now.  But with all this rain I’ll bet we’ll get a bumper crop of…mushrooms…haven’t put anymore seed out this spring for summer grass.  Darn it. 

Happy Spring!

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It’s APRIL!

It's APRIL!

First baby goats born on Easter.

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