A Woefull Winter Update

January 13th, 2019 has dawned icy, sleety, cold, and dark. It’s darker than normal at this time of morning because I think the sun just can’t beam in through all that ice. It’s wonderfully warm in this old farmhouse, but not due to any modern-day heating methods. We’ve got the wood stove going in the front room of the house, which is blocked off with a curtain because if the heat escapes the room, it disappears through the tiny cracks around the windows and in the bead-board walls. In the middle room/office, we’ve got a kerosene heater that puts out the most wonderful heat imaginable. All the cats are sprawled out on a blanket right next to it. In the bathroom and bedroom are new space heaters that do great at knocking the chill off in those small spaces. They run the electric bill sky high, but who can work in the freezing cold?

I expect the electricity to go out any minute. It’s already been flickering. The ice hangs heavy on the trees, but it seems to have a lot of rain mixed in with it too, so I’m hopeful a great deal of it is melting. Of course I forgot to get the generator out of the garage…but it doesn’t matter, I would probably not even remember how to use the big, noisy, smelly beast anyway. We can do with a loss of electricity. We will remain warm, and there is always fruit to eat.

The critters outside are all inside shelters and hopefully staying somewhat warm. The horses have their waterproof, high-neck blankets on and a big round bale under cover…all except one horse, Caritas, he is outside the main pasture with only trees for cover, and plenty of hay and two blankets of course. This is a frustration of mine. The ground around the two large shelters has deep mud from the record-breaking rainfall we’ve got the past month or two, which is now solidly frozen mud holes that he cannot walk on due to him developing an abscess in his right front hoof a few days ago. He could not even get to the water trough and I was having to carry water to him in the middle of the pasture. I moved him…very slowly, to an area outside the normal fence. It’s covered with hay, and very soft, and I put his water bucket within easy reach. He will survive…but GRAVEL for the paddocks is an absolute MUST have for this year. Caritas will get sand over the gravel in his personal paddock and shelter which should drain well and not be affected by freezing weather and rain.

The goats are locked inside their barn and have been every night since the bear attacks in the fall. I didn’t write about it here, but we had a very hungry bear get into the pasture and kill two of my favorite goats about 2 months ago. The first occasion he got in and grabbed a small goat and got back out before I could see what happened. The dogs alerted me to a problem but by the time I got outside, and not having a spot light to see into the woods, I had no idea a bear had just taken off with a goat. I didn’t even know I was missing a goat until the next morning, and really I thought it was a dog or something. I started locking the goats in a small paddock near the house under a yard lamp after that, until one night a couple weeks later I opened the gate so they could get into the barn because the wind had picked up and the shelter in the paddock wasn’t the best. The dogs were barking when I went outside to open the gate, and the neighbors dog was there. I thought she was barking at the goats so chased her across the road and down her driveway…and that is when a bear jumped out of the shadows and ran across the road right in front of me. He had been sitting at the fence line watching the goats and I didn’t see him when I opened the gate.  At that point I had already opened the paddock gate and the goats, the pony, and the dogs were all going berzerk. I didn’t have a gun and had no idea what to do. I went back in the house to start calling neighbors or friends who might have guns, and by the time I walked back outside, the bear had come back and was standing on the patio looking at me. At that point I lost it, and called 911 because no one would answer their phone at 3am. I got the police on the line and while I was talking and screaming at the bear, he went around the garage and went over the fence and got my biggest and best doe, Celina. I was helpless, the guardian dogs were helpless, the pony couldn’t do anything. He drug Celina down to the bottom of the pasture, and tried to get her over the fence, but ended up pushing the wire down over top of her and getting her stuck. Some friends arrived, and when we got their truck into the pasture, and shined the lights down the hill, the bear was sitting on top of Celina trying to drag her through the fence. They shot off some rounds, but he took off. We got Celina on the truck. She was still alive at that point and had been answering me when I called her.  I was hopeful she could survive, but then I noticed her intestines spilling out of her side, and she died a few minutes later.  The police finally showed up and we showed him my beautiful doe, which he really didn’t want to see. My friends left after that, taking Celina with them. The bear came back about 5:30am. At that time I did not have a door on the barn, the goats were free to come and go, so we locked them back in the small paddock with the dog. The bear came back looking for his kill, and I was afraid when he didn’t find it, he would go after another goat, so I sat out there beside the goat paddock in my car, alternating between banging pots and pans, and blowing on the horn, and he stayed in the bottom field. Once it was light, the dogs went off alert and I could tell he had gone on. Later that day my friends came back and put a door on the goat barn for me and made a run attaching it to the paddock. The bear did not come back that night, possibly because another friend came over about 11pm, and we searched the wood line with a spot light. We saw eyes, but were unsure if it was a deer or the bear, so he fired off quite a few rounds and there was no issue that night.

Later the next day I got in touch with a local bear hunter, and he came and scouted the property, and found out which direction the bear was coming from, and that sort of thing. I was issued a kill permit, and two night later, the bear was shot when he showed up and tried to get into the goat barn. The whole thing has been a terrifying nightmare for me and the animals. The pony, Smokey, who lived with the goats, and the Great Pyrenees, were especially traumatized. Smokey was moved back into the horse herd, and seems to have gotten over it for the most part. He has heaves, and did better with the goats, as they have more grass and he could have his own soaked hay, which helped with his breathing. Sampson was a changed dog afterwards. Much more wary, and hyper-alert…barking at every tiny noise all night long. He is doing much better with his new companion, and the addition of a radio playing at night, and locking them in the paddock, his stress levels are a bit lower now.

It seems like it is very unusual for a bear to come into a residence with human activity and 6 dogs outside barking, and kill livestock like that. My goats live very close to the house, and we have a big yard light in their paddock area. This particular bear had also killed several other goats within a one mile radius, so had apparently developed a taste for them. Normally, with our livestock guardian dogs, all predators are kept away. I hope and pray this was just a very unusual bear and situation that will never happen again. We did get one more guardian dog to help out Sampson who was guarding the herd pretty much by himself since our older Great Pyrenees has been retired. Sampson is only a year old…not a mature dog, and even though my other dogs joined in the chorus of barking, none of them tried to engage the bear in a fight…which is good, because they would have been killed. The bear was estimated to weigh about 500 pounds. No dog is a match for that. The best we can hope for with a large predator like a bear, is that the dogs alert me, and I bring out a gun.

Such is farm life.

On a happier note, my daughter has joined me in our business full time and we are gearing up for a fantabulous year! I will still be making most of the soap, while Shannon is taking over just about everything else. We now have candles…lots and lots of candles. We also have natural deodorant, Smelly Jelly room fresheners, lotions, and lots and lots of laundry soaps…both liquid and powdered. If you’d like to shop with us, you can click on the link at the top of the page, which will take you to another page with a link to our Etsy shop.

Shannon and I would like to wish you all a very Happy and prosperous 2019! We hope you’ll come back here often to check out our posts. Now that Shannon is helping, I will have more time to blog about our farm and business. So, see you around!

 

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The Worth Of A Woman?

5AcresAndShe

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Just the other day I started reading a book by Marianne Williamson called “A Woman’s Worth”. Honestly, my whole life, I never really thought about what a woman was worth. What I was I worth. Mostly, I have figured I really wasn’t worth very much. As a money-earner, the bank account never seems to stay filled. As a mother, well, lets just say I love my kids, but was never the perfect soccer mom type. And in relationships with men? Well, I must say that my lack of self-worth has always been extra-apparent in this area. I strive to be the supporter, rarely the supported. I am the understanding one, never expecting understanding myself. I accept rules that don’t suit me. I accept being the last in line…the fall-back plan in case all of his other plans fall through…men can count on me. I put myself in their shoes, trying…

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Whoowwiee I Love This Fog!

It’s been cold as Alaska the past few days and nights. (Yes, I am exaggerating). I’m grateful to have a nice wood stove in this old drafty farmhouse. 20 degrees is much to cold for this chicken, that’s for sure. If I close off the unused parts of the house I can get a good cedarwood and oak fire to spike the air temperature all the way up to 80…sometimes more. When it’s 20 degrees outside, 80 degrees inside this old farmhouse feels wonderful.

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Last night the cold weather broke with the incoming rain, and so this morning we’ve got fog so dense that driving is treacherous…..sure am glad I don’t have to go anywhere until this evening…I hope. Well, I do have to go out later to ship soap orders, but I will wait until the fog lifts. No hurry on that.

Today is soap felting day, once the weekends orders are packed up. The animals may need more hay but so far they are still munching on last nights hay piles.

Don’t know what felted soaps are? Well, below are a few pictures of soaps that I have felted over the past few weeks. Felting the soaps creates a soap and washcloth in one, makes the soap easier to grip, and soaps will last longer in their felt covering. As the soap is used, the wool covering shrinks along with it and when it’s all used up you will be left with a small wool pouch that can be filled with soap scraps and used to scrub the sink, bathtub, yourself, etc.

You can find our soaps in our Etsy shop, or PM me for if you are local to Lynchburg Va and I can help you find our soaps in the area.

I wish you all a blessed day!

A few bars of our regular soaps after felting.
A soap cake ready for cutting and curing.

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A Sea Salt and Agave felted soap cake. Mmmm, this one smells lovely.

Some random bars of various felted soap cakes.

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A few felted soap hearts.
A felted soap cake in the delicious Christmas Cookie scent.

What In The Tarnation?

 

19749335_10213460159880119_4196846_oIt’s summer now, and I just had my Pomeranian, Skippy, shaved down so he could enjoy going on hikes with us without succumbing to heat exhaustion…and it’s turned cold. Actually, it’s perfect weather for doing just about anything outside…but little ole Skippy is spending these cool mornings curled up in a fuzzy blanket on my bed. Soon enough, I’m sure, we’ll be back to humid, 90 degree southern comfort days and nights.

Until then, Skippy has taken to chasing the new kitten to warm himself up…and get himself in trouble. He has also taken a keep delight in pilfering the litter box contents and scattering them all over the living room floor. Mind you, this is not my kitten. It is my daughters kitten. Who does not yet have a name that I am aware of…and stalks me day and night with her pitiful mews and sad, tortoiseshell little face and eyes. When I finally sit down and allow her on my lap, she claws my legs from hip to toenail through my pajama pants and gets a couple good scratches on my shoulders too when she claims that spot as her final resting place…well away from the mischievous, nearly hairless Pomeranian. Our pit bull, Tonya, who considers herself a brave warrior most of the time, is embarrassingly afraid of the tiny monstrous kitten and her relentless hissing noises. I figure Tonya thinks she might actually be a poisonous snake and is taking no chances on getting anywhere close to striking distance.

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It’s all pretty funny, and a bit messy too, as well as painful, so deciding to fix at least one problem, I took out the toenail clippers and nipped those tiny kitten death-claws back just as far as I could without drawing blood or causing pain. AHA! No more scratching me! Ahhh, now I can enjoy a cup of coffee without risking puncture holes all over my lower body…but the kitten has decided my lap is no longer a good place to hang out, probably since she can no longer thoroughly engage her claws in me. Good riddance I say. Oh but now she’s learned to sit on my computer…while I’m typing on it. Hmmm, got a water bottle handy for that…but now my computer screen and keyboard are wet…not sure if that’s a good thing or not…..Shoot.

Well, on a brighter note, I’m almost finished with the yard work. It’s only taken me a week or two…after carelessly filling my push mower with weedeater gas that somehow a had gotten water in it…probably because it didn’t have a proper lid and sat in a leaky shed all winter long. My lawn mower didn’t like that stuff at all and promptly stopped working. Luckily I have a really smart friend who took pity on me and took the whole thing apart and drained all the water out of the carburetor and hoses for me and the mower works beautifully now. He even sharpened the blade and so now instead of just knocking the grass over and kinda beating it up, it actually cuts it down. I even found my hand trimmers and can now trim grass around sheds, trees, fencelines, etc. I still have a few places left to clean up, and then a downed tree in my front yard to take care of, but first things first is what I always say. Trouble is it’s sometimes hard to figure out what things should be first. But, I digress.

I even dug out my garden. Actually, I was just trying to clean all the sticks and rocks out of it so I could mow it back into the yard, when I found out, underneath of 3 foot tall weeds, I actually had garden stuff growing. I have a dozen or more tomato plants, some cleome, peppermint, lemon balm, thyme, and some strawberries. So I pulled up all the weeds, spread old moldy hay over the whole thing, even where nothing is growing, and turned the space back into a garden again…without having planted a single thing this year. Maybe I’ll go get some more tomatoes or squash or something and plant those in the empty spaces. We have a ridiculously long growing season here in the south and can grow something just about year round, even if it’s just greens and cabbage.

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Well, I guess I better get to it today. Got an insulation cleanup project planned for this morning, and then some horse feet to trim this afternoon. Might even go machete shopping later on so once I’m done with the yard I can get started on that jungle out back threatening to creep up to the house and swallow it if I don’t get it under control

Adios!

Hey Remember Me?

Good Morning! I realize it’s been nearly two years since I posted on this blog. I have started another blog called 5acresandshe , and planned to blog from that site only, but I have so many people still visiting this site that I decided to blog from both sites, since that’s what I do. I blog. Not full time. But enough that I can call myself a blogger. And I aint in it for the money folks, cause I’ve never seen a dime.

This blog was started when my former partner and I were together and just bought this old fixer-upper farmhouse on five acres and were going to work together to make it beautiful. Once we moved in together, however, things quickly fell apart and it became a divided island, and then he left altogether. My new blog reflects my expanded awareness of how our thoughts and emotions always lead to the manifestations and things in our lives.  I have been educating myself by studying such people as Ekhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Neale Donald Walsh, and lately, and most importantly, Esther Hicks. My writings on 5acresandshe reflect a higher sense of awareness of how what we think and feel manifests into what our outer lives look like. It’s not a guide or self-help blog, just simply one woman’s experience.

So, now that we’ve got that little bit of housekeeping out of the way, lets get down to what’s happening around here! For starters, we’ve got KIDS on the ground. Well, one kid anyway. So far. More are due this week and next. Just two more goats to kid. We’re down to just 4 milkers right now. We lost 3 milkers and one wether last winter. It was a rough time around here, but things are much better now.

I’m still in the soap business. Of course. It’s growing, even though I took some time away from it for awhile when my partner and I split up and my grandson was diagnosed with leukemia. It’s those dark times that really force us to grow. The partnership dissolving was a true blessing. Ryland’s leukemia was rough on the family for awhile, but he’s in the maintenance phase now and doing super-great, with just monthly visits to the doctor for treatments. He doesn’t focus on his illness, and we don’t either. We focus on how good he is feeling, and he has just blossomed! His imagination is amazing. He has taught us all so much.

If you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, I hope you will continue to follow me here, and possibly over at 5acresandshe too. I promise my posts will be uplifting and hopefully add a smile or a laugh to your day.

Until we meet on this page again, Namaste’

 

 

 

 

 

Our New Junior Herdsire

Here he is! Drinking a gallon of milk a day and eating grain and alfalfa hay like it’s going out style, tearing up paper, jumping on furniture, unplugging appliances by wrapping himself in the cords, and generally being a goat-nut. His name is Sunrising Danziger Elijah and we LOVE him! He was a little wild and crazy the first couple of days, but now he leads with a collar and leash pretty well, loves to be scratched on his hinney and follows me everywhere!

He’s moved to an outdoor pen beside the girls for exercise, but still comes inside at night. Since our livestock guardian dog is on the other side of the fence, he might not be able protect him from wild coyotes or wolverines…(luckily we have few of either of those around here). Plus, the girls usually go inside the barn at night, and we don’t want him getting lonely….and being inside with us has helped him tame down tremendously.

We look forward to him having kids on the ground early next spring, and us having more milk to use in soap making too!

Click here for info on his awesome sire!

 

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So Much Rain! And Sleet! And other Yukkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkky Stuff.

This is supposed to be our last winter storm. They said it will knock our socks off. Personally, I need my socks ON to even TRY and stay warm… Trudging through 4 inches of mud in the pig pasture to bring more bedding hay inside the shed for my sweet 700 pound Priscilla meant that my socks got wet and my feet are stinky. But Miss Prissy is warm and dry….well, dry anyway, and covered in hay…I’m not sure anybody is warm today.

I’m okay with this rain today. By this evening the temps will drop 20 degrees and the rain will turn to sleet and then snow. We might not be able to get out of our driveway tomorrow. Next week’s forecast is calling for sun and higher temperatures, so this rain and cold winter weather is but a bump in the road. I’ve decided to like it.

Hank and Frank...two dumb roosters who wouldn't come out of the freezing rain. They are now inside until they are dry.
Hank and Frank…two dumb roosters who wouldn’t come out of the freezing rain. They are now inside until they are dry. Hank is quite tame, as this is his second foray into the world of climate control after a bout of extreme dumbness and possible brain damage from refusing to come into the coop out of the brutal wind and sub-zero temperatures we had a couple of weeks ago. Hank and Frank both have frostbitten combs. Hank is mostly Rhode Island Red, and Frank is Rhode Island Red with a smidgen of silky somewhere his background. He has really pretty silky red feathers. Both need new homes as my dominate roo does not like either one…although they are his children.
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Our yard. This is the shallow end.
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Jetaime (one of our milkers), and Wedgy (the brown wether with the white face behind her). Eating hay and watching the rain come down. When I walked inside they were all laying down but refused to allow me to take a picture of them like that.
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Most of the herd inside munching hay. Malachai, their guardian is afraid of the camera. Silly dog. He thinks it will steal his soul.
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A pile of wood waiting to go into the woodstove. The only remedy for a cold and miserable day.
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Ahhhh, a nice warm fire.
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Foxy Brown. She reminds me of a wolf dog. She’s the sweetest dog in the world though.
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Happy Dog. Doing his favorite activity besides eating…sleeping.

Cold Winter Dry Skin Care

Many parts of the country are experiencing record-breaking cold temperatures right now and here in Virginia, we’re experiencing that cold, dry air too. Winter weather used to mean that my hands, which spend a lot of time in water, washing milk buckets, water troughs, and general cleaning both indoors and out, would become raw, red, cracked and bleeding and they HURT! Well, those severely dry hands are a thing of the past since I got rid of commercial, detergent-based soaps and started using hand made goats milk soaps. The vitamins, minerals, fats, and oils in hand-made, cold-processed soaps don’t suck moisture out of my skin, and in fact, actually add moisture back in every time I wash my hands. And when I add a nice goats milk lotion or salve over freshly washed hands, VIOLA! Comfort at last!

Our Soap Shop On Etsy

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Love Spells Goat Milk Soap
Neem Salve
Neem Salve

Merry Christmas Eve!

Christmas Eve has donned cold and rainy. Now, why didn’t I know they were calling for rain? I fed the goats outside last night and so of course, their hay is ruined. Dang it. Luckily, they had leftover hay in their “barn” which is really part of my garage, which I will be stealing back from them just as soon as their new barn is delivered early this spring. I can’t wait.

This has been a nice Christmas season. School is over for me for the time being and I’m slowly letting the sand out of my head and can think again. Maybe not like a sane person, but at least now when I am trying to learn something new I don’t get the vision of my brain as a giant canvas bag of sand floating around inside my head. Someone mentioned to me that by exercising my brain it might actually be expanding, or at least getting less senile and feeble. I might even try some of that calculus soon. But not today. And not tomorrow either.

None of the goats have been bred this year…or last year either. I am still milking three of the seven does from their kiddings two years ago and I am getting all the milk I need for soap and household use. I have heard of goats milking up to three years without having been bred again, but I’ve not heard of any going any longer. I have a line that is very milky and nearly impossible to dry up, so maybe they will milk forever.

Of course, none of the girls are very happy about not being bred this fall. In fact, they are all very vocal about their lack of “dates” and stand at the gates wagging their tails in hopes of alerting me to the fact that they’d really like a visit from a stinky and ugly old Santa Buck. Nope. Aint happening sweeties.

Well, that is about all the news I can think of for today. I wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year.

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