Shantara Acres blog is Featured Over at Bewitchin Kitchen.

Check it out!  And check out the cute blog at Bewitchin Kitchen too while you are there.  Stop in, say hello, and say “Hi” for me while you’re there!

The Bewitchin’ Kitchen: Feature Friday: Shantara Acres Farm


On Being Cold and Alone and Happy

(It’s good for the soul).

It’s still winter.  Winter is a hard time for living things that require warmth to survive.  The horses need extra hay to fuel their metabolic furnaces.  Some horses aren’t so lucky and don’t get enough to eat and suffer more from winter’s effects.  I see lots of cows on farms here that look hungry and I feel sad for them in their mud and snow covered pastures.  Then I drive by a few fields where farmers have put out round bales, enough for the herds for days and days and I feel reassured that the human race does remain a compassionate one.

The man that I love, the one I share my life with, lost his father yesterday and although I did not  know his father other than meeting him a few times, I still feel saddened at the loss of a life, even though it brings relief from suffering.  I’ve often heard the saying, we come into this world alone, and we leave alone.  It’s who and what we love in the interim that really matters.

About eight years ago I had a life-altering event that changed my outlook on life greatly.  It was an ego-shattering event that made me a more compassionate less self-absorbed person.  I was humbled enough to be able to view my own mortality and examine the impact, good or bad, I had on other people. God has a way of bringing us down, one way or another, of shaking us up, to make us see what he wants us to see and to start living the way he wants us to.

That time in my life is what brought me back to the horses and farm life of my childhood.  I have met so many wonderful people since I’ve been on this path, that are now dear friends to me.  I can’t imagine waking up and not hearing a rooster crow, or a horse whinny, or not having to go out and milk goats in the freezing cold.  (Our milking area is warm though).

The aloneness that plagued me in my  20’s and early 30’s disappeared when I bought my first horse as an adult six years ago.  I guess they say it takes that long, and maybe some people never find that spot, but I’m glad I did.  I went through 2 marriages and an endless stream of relationships, looking for happiness,  until my life was turned upside down by a  man God sent into my life about eight years ago.

I knew this man (CG) was my gift from God and I needed to get it right, but I was too stubborn, too proud, always had to be right, to have the last word, I was not above lying, etc. etc.  Slowly, this man that I adored, who I KNEW God had sent into my life, slipped through my fingers and then  was gone.

I couldn’t breath.

I joined several churches, got baptized and confirmed and people spoke in tongues over me and prayed for me and tried to help me.  I discovered that you really do have to get out there and do whatever it takes to help yourself.  There is no line where free help is handed out.  Sometimes a meal maybe, but never the kind of help you need to pull yourself up and get yourself together.  You have to want that.  Sometimes you might  have help along the way…and if you’re really trying, help will spring up all over the place, but basically, you do it alone.

Dreams need to be followed, not ignored or suppressed.  Compassion needs to be the word of the day, everyday.  And understanding should follow close behind.

Last July I lost my job of almost 12 years.  I was devastated, but God knows what he is doing.  I was able to follow my dream of doing natural hoof care.  I LOVE working with horses.  I understand them and adore them.  While following this dream, finally, I got a call one day from CG, asking me if I needed any help with anything.

Well, I was able to talk him into coming out and helping me with yard work.  My yard is HUGE and it had gotten terribly out of control.  The weeds in the garden were taller than either of us.  I knew he wouldn’t judge me by my messy yard.   And he didn’t.  But once he was here,  I knew I loved him as much as I ever had years ago.  Nothing had changed about that.

My son had just moved out of the house and I was feeling very alone….miles from any town.  But God knew what I needed and sent CG at just the right moment.  Enough years had passed that I could forgive and I’d grown up enough that I had some sense.  (Now, I won’t say that I’m perfectly mature and forgiving and sensible every day…but I’m certainly working on it.)

I always wanted to be one of those people that could get up and tell their story in church or at an event about how they’d been dragged through the mud and came out on the other side all sunshine and roses.  I used to write down a lot of my prayers in journals, and the common theme was praying for changes in myself and a way for things to work out between CG and me.  Everything in life is just so much better with him.  He helps me figures things out when I’m confused (which is alot), he helps me see things from other points of view, and we have a lot of fun together just doing simple things.  Just living.  I thank God for bringing me to this place in my life, for all the trials and pain and tears…it was all worth it for what I have now.  Even though it’s cold outside, I’m feeling very blessed.

In the winter it’s easy to feel isolated, cold and lonely, and when people we love pass away, the sadness is made even heavier by the relentless cold we feel inside and out.

Maybe God feels we’ve all had it a little too easy these last few years and decided to make us more appreciative of good friends, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, animals,  the earth, and life, by giving us a winter we will not soon forget.  One that will help us cherish what we have and rejoice in the sun when it finally decides to warm our faces.

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Where Is Spring?

I know it’s not quite time for it yet, but as I was outside last night hauling yet more hay to the horses and breaking ice in the tubs without a heat source, I realized that I am really, really, and I mean REALLY going to appreciate the warmer weather that comes along this spring.

We have been seriously moving the farm the past few days.  CG has taken some time off work so we can get it done, but it’s so very hard to spend any time at all outside when the temps are in the 24’s with the wind chill, and it’s just impossible to stay warm.

I was thinking about how much we complain in the summer about the heat.  Well, other people complain, it doesn’t bother me most of the time… long as I can get back in my air conditioning! I LOVE our hot humid Virginian summers.

This has been a relentless winter.  A client yesterday told me the Farmers Almanc, which predicted our weather fairly accurately so far this year, has predicted a major, horrible, winter storm in the month of March.

Will it ever end?  With heat bills over $400 dollars a month, and chapped hands, face, and constantly frozen fingers, I’m done.

I think I’m going to do what lots of smart animals do, and hibernate!  I wish I would have thought of that sooner, and avoided all this cold all together, instead of just missing the tail end of things.

Yep, I’m going to appreciate spring this year for sure.  I’ve already seen lots of really pretty birds that I don’t normally see in the winter.  I guess they got a big surprise when they flew in from where ever it is they came from and found all this brutally cold winter weather stuck here in Central Virginia.

My son bought me a really cute bird feeder for my birthday.  Every time I look at it I want to take it outside and hang it up, but I know the wind will probably just knock it down, seeds and all.  So I wait.  For spring.

It’s got to be out there somewhere.

bird waits for spring

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Alicia Kidded!

This is Alicia right before kidding.

alpine doe right before kidding
Alicia right before kidding. She has very long legs...they just look short in the picture.

She had triplets!!!  But, unfortunately for me, they are ALL BUCKS!  Darn, darn, darn.  One is already spoken for, but if anyone needs an excellent buck I can make them a great deal on one if they are picked up by two weeks of age!

Three little bucklings
The brown and white buck has wattles, the other two do not. He is also the biggest and so far has the biggest appetite!

Fluff Ball

Meet the newest member of the family.  This is our new Great Pyreneese puppy.  He doesn’t have a name yet, so we’re looking for suggestions.

He wasn’t too excited about staying in the dog crate last night, but he did it.  He only woke me up once at 4am.  He was hungry, thirsty and had to use the bathroom, which he DID NOT do in the crate.  He’s a little small to go out with the goats yet, so he gets to be my  companion for a couple of weeks.   Well, except at night.  He has to sleep in the crate at night.

Hopefully, he’ll learn to tolerate it.

Kids…they sure are cute

Three little girls get their first bucket of grain. I think they like it!
alpine kid
I Dream of Jeanie....with green tatoo dye in her ears and hay hanging off of her face.....but look, she does have a pretty pink collar!

I’m mad at my computer, so I’m not talking to it.

I took a bunch of nice pictures with my BRAN NEW CAMERA that CG got me for my birthday….only thing is, I can’t get the pictures to upload to a file where I can put them on my blog.

Except by accident, like with these two pictures.

So, this is all you get.  All the cute pictures are stuck inside my computer somewhere, and won’t come out.

And the little goat girls posed so cute for me.  They stood on top of their milk bucket, and smiled and did somersaults and handstands and stuck out their tongues.  They were irresistible.

Later I guess.  I hope.  I pray.

I can’t take this incompatibility issue I’m having with my technical gadgets.  Why can’t they all just work like I want them to?

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Pee Freezes in this Weather

Before it even hits the ground.   It’s true.  Even polar bears would be asking for a blanket in this weather.

I didn’t sign up for this.

I want my money back.

The chickens are blowing across the pasture.  The horses won’t come out of the barn and when they do, they have a hard time standing up.  Tara just came out to get a drink of water and had to rear to keep from falling over when a gust of wind got her.

Forget it, I’m not going outside.  Well, not until the evening feeding anyway.

I nearly froze this morning.  It took an hour for my face to thaw out.

CG built a fire in the kerosene heater so I could warm up faster and not look so blue.

My ears still ache.

The wind is gusting up to 60 miles per hour.  According to the latest weather report, the  wind chill makes it feel like well below zero.  We had a dry snow last night and it’s blowing that snow around so much it’s hard to see anything at all.

I think the only intelligent thing to do, is to do what Dante’ is doing.

Cat Sleeps in the sun

Or, if you were this little dog, who belongs to my friends, I’ll bet you could find a nice person only too willing to tuck you inside a warm pocket and carry you around all day.

miniature king calvalier spanielI

I washed some clothes this morning, but when CG went outside he found that the dryer vent was frozen shut.  He worked it loose, but I’m sure it’s frozen up again and I can’t bear the thought of stepping outside for even a minute to check it.

And I need dry socks to wear outside tonight.

This is the worst winter I’ve seen here since I’ve lived in Virginia for the last 20 or so years.

I came here on a wagon train in 1989, fresh from the ocean breezes of Oregon and Washington.

I forgot my kite.

I didn’t know I’d have to wear insulated coverall’s…..inside the house.

I guess when your horses grow winter coats that rival that of a grizzly bear, you should stand up and take notice and prepare for the worst.

Well, I’ll try and be more observant next time, and not plan to move the farm during the coldest month of the year with the worst weather we’ve had in at least 20 years.


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Snowpocalypse Strikes!

I’m sorry I have not posted for a few days.  We got hit by a major snow and ice storm (affectionately termed “Snowpocalypse)  and have been incredibly busy making sure the animals are cared for.

We have to put out extra hay and lug hot water to the goats, clear paths, etc.  Everything is 10 times more difficult with this snow to deal with.  The winds picked up too and were blowing ice and snow.  It was terribly cold.  We didn’t lose power until yesterday though and it only stayed off for about 5 hours.

CG took a couple days off work since the roads were impassable anyway, and after he helped me with the animals and shoveling snow, he was on the computer looking for low-waste hay feeders and how to hook up trailers and whatnot.  A person can learn absolutely anything from the internet.  He likes do-it-yourself youtube videos.  Some of those are so funny.  Anyway, I forgot all about my blog.

CG heard on the radio this morning that there are more than 5000 homes without power in the Southside district.  I’m feeling pretty lucky right now.  The power lines, trees, fences, etc. are all covered with a thick coating of ice.  Add the wind to that, and trees are falling down all over the place.

Luckily, none of my pregnant goats kidded in this mess.  We closed up the barn doors on the side of  the prevailing winds and that helped a lot.  We have to put Caritas in with the goats when I close the doors because he still gets pushed around a little, and that could be disastrous in a closed place.  The goats have three stalls available, and don’t use one of them, so were only too happy to let Caritas have it.  I fed all the horses in he barn, they didn’t even go out between hay feedings it was so cold.  They all had blankets on too so I know the miserableness of it was not my imagination.

Today the sun is out with a vengeance.  It’s still only 20 degrees, but it’s a beautiful sight.

We’re supposed to get more wintery weather on Tuesday.

I think we’re going to need a snowmobile to move.

"snow storm hits central virginia
From the front porch. Taken around 6:30 pm on Saterday.
"snowstorm hits central viriginia
Snow and ice and more of the same.
field of grass in the snow
This is the cow pasture across the road.
Jetaime is the only goat you can see here. She always likes to come out and get her picture taken.
mail box
We had just a little sun yesterday afternoon. It lasted about 5 minutes and then was gone.
morning snow
This morning it's all sunshine.
two dogs asleep on the couch
This is Onyx, the labrador, and Reba, the border collie mix. Yesterday they just didn't want to go outside at all. We've been boxing up stuff, and have put boxes all over "their" couch, and there just wasnt' enough room for them to stretch out. Normally, we never see them lying so close together like this. Onyx wasn't liking it at all. Both of them are currently "in the doghouse". I let them come out with me to do chores yesterday morning. Onyx is usually not allowed outside the yard because he tends to run off and get lost. I didn't think they'd run anywhere with all the snow coming down. I was WRONG! I had to walk a mile to find them, following their tracks. Luckily they were not too far away. Onyx would freeze to death in the snow. He's old and rather feeble and apparently has no sense of direction. After that morning mishap, we lost power and so went into town to get dinner. When we got back, Onyx had tore open two bags of trash and scattered them all over the house. GRRRRR.
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Farm Fog

It’s basically the same as city fog, or ocean fog, but it doesn’t have criminals lurking in it, and there is no driving wind to make my ears ache.  All in all, I like it a lot, except for the fact that CG had to drive to work in it.  I don’t like that at all.

Especially after he ran off the road last week on a normal trip home.

On back country roads.

In the dark.

He lost his glasses for a while, but since he was wearing them the other day I realize he found them, although I doubt they will do him a bit of good in all this fog.

I’m trying to remember if his fog lights work.

I don’t think so.

His headlights barely work.

He prefers driving my car at night.  My headlights are really bright and I have working fog lights.  Although I didn’t even know I HAD fog lights until he pointed them out to me.

About a month ago.

And I’ve had the car for five years.

But, my car has a mouse in it, so CG can’t drive it.  I put a trap in it, smeared with butter, since I didn’t have any peanut butter.  It sat there for about a week with no action.

I figure there is about a months worth of crumbs and french fries under the seats and between the cushions.  He’s been in there so far for a couple of weeks. Shouldn’t be much longer before he starves to death.

CG bought me some glue traps and asked me really nicely to please put them in my car.  I can’t do glue traps.  I can, however, do poison.  So he bought me some of that too, but I keep forgetting to put it in the car.

It seems really weird that you’d have to put mouse poison in a car.

Well, how I happened to get a mouse in my car is really very simple.  We’ve been moving, a little at a time.  One day I got a tote of stuff together from out of the shed.  I saw that there was a mouse in the tote,  so decided to take that tote another day, which happened to be the next day, and I forgot about the mouse…until I was driving down the road and heard some scratching around inside the tote and then went around a corner and the thing tipped over.  Well, you can see that it could happen to anyone.  And since I KNOW there is a mouse in the car, it won’t scare me by popping out while I’m driving down the highway.

I hope.

CG KNOWS there is a mouse in the car and is SURE it will jump out and run up his pants leg while he is driving.  I may actually have to pull out the glue traps.  It’s better than one of us crashing when the thing runs up our pants leg while driving down the highway, at night, in the fog, after hitting a deer, and getting a flat tire from running off the road, after which the car rolls backwards and falls off the jack and lands on CG’s glove, which luckily, he was wearing and it was too big, or it would have landed on his finger.

Anyway, here are some pictures I took this morning.

One of our many roosters. This one is the prettiest one in my opionion. He's a cross between a silky, a buff orpington, black australorp, and americana.

"tree in the snow""fog in virginia"

"barn in the fog"
This is Jetaime, and the rest of the herd is standing behind her in the barn and you can't really see them.
"foggy morning"
Some more fog
"chickens in the fog"
These are some of the chickens, out on the road. Don't know why they are out there, so I guess I could ask "why did the chicken cross the road?", but I wouldn't have a single answer.
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