That’s not a good morning smell.

That’s what my son said to me as I tried to pry him out of bed this morning for school. “I just can’t Mom, that is not a good morning smell.”

There are pros and cons to living across the road from a large commercial poultry producing operation. However, the chickens were here first. I knew full well what I was getting into and I therefore gave up the right to hate them.

When the bank of chicken houses closest to our home is in the throes of broiler/biddy turnover, and the wind is just right, it’s just not a “pro” sort of day. It doesn’t happen often. Today, I’m just thankful that it got down to 33 degrees last night and it’s just the smell we’re dealing with and not the inevitable warm weather invasion of approximately 6 billion flies who have suddenly been rendered without a home or food source.12508823_1229792417047620_4351505374505933852_n.jpg

Today is one of those rare days, a few times a year, where we have an odd wind, and the odors of the manure from 100,000 chickens amasses in one giant olfactory assault weapon and its built in homing system guides it all directly through every crack, crevice, open door and errant draft into our home. My ex in laws had both layer and broiler houses, and yet somehow I managed to blissfully escape ever having to set foot into either. So I wonder on these days how in the blazes the tenant staff over there can work in those houses all day and not have their respiratory systems just revolt and stop working.

On this particular farm, there are four or five banks of houses, which are cleaned out and turned over roughly every 6 weeks or so, but it’s really only this set of five directly across the road that has this potential for noxious fume warfare.

Pros:

1.   It’s an agriculturally zoned area. There are no neighbors or snotty HOA’s to complain about your pigs er….making more pigs in full view of the street.

2.  Your  goats aren’t likely to consume 2, 406 dollars worth of professional landscaping and exotic flora when they escape. Which they will, and frequently.

3. In fact, when the goats do escape and go visit the neighbor’s children, there are no panicked phone calls to animal control or 911…the neighbors have enough sense to bait the goats with animal crackers into a pickup bed and simply bring them home with a grin.

4. When your horses liberate themselves, they go no further than the field of grass fronting the chicken houses, which for some reason, tastes infinitely better than the blades in their own pastures. The same applies to the 600 pound beef steer that your significant other treats as a pet and who walks through double charged electric fences like a marathon runner through tape at the finish line. 12079322_1170785049615024_996478384113661996_n.jpg

5. There is always someone at home over there, as poultry farms can never, ever, be left unattended. As an added bonus, they are usually staffed by some of the nosiest, I mean most attentive folks in the world. This means when you are away from your own place, you will be apprised immediately of any visitors, escapees, or strange sights, sounds or smells emitting from your own property. They’re literally better than a battalion of security cameras with a live feed.

6. There are no eyelashes batted at any redneck engineered contraption constructed in your front yard housing gigantic rabbits, poultry or ducks for sale. In fact, the neighbors will even advertise for you. 10441301_869547193072146_1320980317044204451_n.jpg

Cons:

1. See title. The smell…and the winged rats of the insect world it brings with it. In summer, our bug zapper quite simply, never, ever, stops. It’s a relentless symphony of insect electrocution. Fly strips become a part of your decorating scheme. Not just in the barn, either. Oh, no, my friends, in every. room. in. the. house. These strips also double as  a “Haircut facilitation device” every time you inadvertently back into one and an exercise plan as you hone your ninja skills trying to avoid them.

2. Unlike Houdini goats or horseflesh, errant poultry can and will be dispatched without a second though and with extreme prejudice. With the looming possibility that 100,000 chickens can and will be destroyed upon infiltration of one solitary microbe, biosecurity is serious business. Why did the chicken NOT cross the road? Because it wanted to LIVE.

3. The alarms. “Whoowhooowhoowhooowhooowhooowhooo” Every time a temperature drops or rises, a feed or water delivery system is empty or obstructed, or a chicken says “Watch this, boys! It’s time for train a human.” and hits some hidden toggle switch. “Whooowhooowhooo.” 3 am seems to be a favorite time for these games.

4. While we’re at 3 am on the clock, the slot between midnight and three seems to be the default schedule for all incoming or outgoing chickens, and the eighteen wheeled taxis that transport them . It seems most ingress and egress of large vehicles occurs at these hours. In the event that no tenant is there to meet them, there will be blowing of airhorns until a response is observed.

5. Add two slightly unbalanced “I will bark politely at the wind, my reflection, large leaves, the trash guys, my own family’s vehicles and the air I breathe, but am firmly convinced that semi trucks are the dragons on which the dog apocalypse arrives, so I will bark, snarl and hurl myself against the windows like a rabid badger at the sound of air brakes regardless of the hour” chihuahua shaped excuses for dogs to number 4. Good times.

For me, and my family, I prefer our heritage breed chickens, who are fed a non top secret diet of bugs and grain and kitchen scraps, but to each their own. This being Delmarva, poultry houses are a fact of life, and a permanent part of the landscape. They are the wheels, cogs, and the primary fuel for the economy of the entire Delmarva Peninsula.  In fact, my kids learned at an early age when we went elsewhere that there is a “smell” to home. Marsh, tidal waters, and chicken manure. When we reached this side of the Bay Bridge someone would infallibly say, “There’s that smell. What’s that smell, kids?” The refrain?  “That’s the smell of money.”  All kidding aside, I love our area poultry producers (even though it’s not the life for me, or the food for me) because they feed the entire rest of the country and are often a much maligned species.

There’s a disturbing trend that is occurring all over our area, and the country, in that city folks in unprecedented numbers now want to move to the country. That’s all well and good, we are a welcoming sort mostly. The problem arises when Jane and Joe Urbanite purchase their dream home in the country which just so happens to be located next to a poultry farm, or a pig farm, or any kind of farm, really.

Oftentimes, this purchase is followed by the charm of the dream home location being dulled by the smells and sights that are usually part of any small or large scale farming operation. There’s poop. Lots of poop. Poop smells.  It stinks, and that’s that. There’s noise, and large machinery, and odd hours being kept. There’s the potential for stray livestock blocking the road, and munching on your pansies.

Then the voluntarily displaced suburbanites tend to get these notions. They adopt an adversarial position and begin making phone calls to towns and counties wanting to know what their rights are as far as controlling the smells and sounds of the very environment they’ve volunteered to be part of. Thankfully, we’re in an area where the answers they receive are frequently pro-farm and anti complainer. In fact, the best one I have heard to date was a council meeting where similar concerns were addressed and a shiny new homeowner in an agricultural area raised that particular question. “So what exactly, are MY rights as far as the enjoyment of the property I just paid a substantial amount of money for?”  The answer?  “Well, Sir…you have the right to purchase a property elsewhere that doesn’t have a farm next door that has been in operation since before 1908, by four generations of the same family and was located right there when you purchased yours.”

That, my friends, sums up why I love this area. And what makes it home.

 

 

 

 

 

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Beauty is in the eye of the determined.

10485366_1187124057981123_2848459601193225218_nA photo I took over our pasture this fall.

Sometimes it’s easy for me to find beauty. Sometimes it seems overwhelmingly, ridiculously impossible. We’re surrounded daily by so much ugliness and evil and hatred and contention on a daily basis that it becomes the norm. Immersed in it. Drowning in a media borne sea of 50 foot waves of awfulness and despair, clinging to nothing but a photo or memory of a baby or a sunset for hope of survival.    Don’t believe me? Watch the newscast. Scroll through your local news station’s Facebook feed. Just for the sake of this exercise, grab a piece of scratch paper and a pen. Make two columns. One for positive, hopeful or uplifting, and one for “stuff that angers, horrifies, scares, nauseates, saddens, or in generally makes me feel like crap.” Go ahead, I’ll wait. Here’s mine. For the first 46 items on my local news station’s feed. (Discounting sports articles)20160227_191635 (1).jpg

 

43 to 3.  Really? See my conveniently labeled columns entitled “Crap” and “Yay!” (I’m a simple gal.) Forty flipping three craptastic articles featuring (in no particular order at all) murder, mayhem, car crashes, rape, ridiculousness,  bomb threats, fires, abuse, arson, assault, suicide, burglary, drug use, overdoses, death, destruction, natural disasters, embezzlement, and dissent. One puff piece about a local teacher of the year, one about the future of Punkin Chunkin that really could go either way (but my right column was lonely), and one about the upcoming local fishing season. I skipped over sports articles.

It even surprised me, actually. I’ve literally stopped watching the news for this very reason.  I’ve made jokes for years to my family that if I ever hit the lottery, I was going to buy a mountain, encircle it with an electrified razor wire topped ten foot fence and cloister my entire family there, and any other sane friends who would like to come along. A place to secede from the world’s ever growing insanity. It’s only half a joke. Like this right here.

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Or maybe a “tiny house” village. Like this one, only located on said imaginary mountain.

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But until then, I just have to boycott the network news media, (because it’s all bad, all the time) and continue my daily search for what’s good and lovely and uplifting in the world. I don’t think of it as willful ignorance, I think of it as sanity preservation.

I still have to send my remaining minor child off to school every day without lurking fear based imagining of an elementary school bathroom heroin overdose or a psycho school shooter.  And without using any sort of “happy pills” because I’m in recovery and my program and my sponsor both tell me that’s to be avoided.

So for now…these are my ” happy pills.” Here are some photos over the years that we’ve taken. These are some of our happiest moments. The most beautiful ones. Where the world is not a cesspool of crazy, and we’re consciously looking for and finding the beauty. Because beauty is in the eye of the determined, not the beholder. Some things are just ugly, and you can’t make them feel any different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child Labor, Tom Sawyer style

 

It’s a beautiful day. It’s still early and cold enough to freeze eggs in the un-henned nest box, but it’s a beautiful day. And I am assembling an arsenal of  boycritter bait. An opportunist Mama, I am. See this right here?20160227_082701.jpgThis, my friends, is boycritter bait, a la Mark Twain.  Ryan also has a friend over for the weekend. Add in some healthy competition, mini mob mentality, and the fact that I am smart enough to fuel the work force with junk food and the promise of homemade brownies and I should have scored myself a whirling dervish workforce times TWO. And Ryan’s poultry pleasure palace should have a pristine coat of Barn Red.

It took approximately 14.6 seconds after I began assembling the tools for Mom’s outdoor sweatshop for THIS to happen:

“Ooooooh…is that paint? Are you painting today”

“Erm…maybe. Why do you ask, boys?”

“Can we help? Pleeeassse?”

It’s at this point the prudent person looking for cheap labor should resist. Just the tiniest bit. This makes the potential drudgery seem an even more attractive way to spend a Saturday.

“Well, I don’t know. It’s kind of a big job over there. And you guys would get paint on yourselves, it’s pretty cold too. Do you think you can do it and follow directions, so it gets done the right way? It’s pretty important for me to get this done today and I just don’t know if ya’ll can do it.”

“Oh, we can, we promise…C’mon Ma, puh-leeeeeze? Pretty please? We’ll be really good and we’ll listen and do a great job. Honest!”

Reverse psychology is now your friend.

“Well, I guess it would give me some spare time to do other stuff. Like maybe make brownies.”

They’re jumping and whooping now. And hunting for paint clothes. Well played, Mom. Well played.

 

 

The Chicken Brothel

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Yep, so my kid’s chicken coop name officially sounds a bit like an Old West brothel. A poultry house of ill repute. I tried valiantly to talk him out of it and into something a bit less…well…Brothel-y. I’ve lost. Guess I’m gonna have to name one of hens Miss Kitty now. No, kid. No red lights. I’ll have the swat team and the vice squad here. Good thing you can’t see it from the road.

This Means War

402390_367866313240239_347625043_n.jpgSophie as a baby

I have turned the sweetest fainting goat in the free world into something spawned of Hell or at least one of Satan’s minions. Overnight and quite unintentionally. It’s not very often that Sophie and I disagree. When we do, I’ve come to the realization and acceptance that it’s not very EVER that I’m going to come out on top. Even the horses have gotten to a point that they will allow her to snitch grain from the field pan because she’s conditioned them to know they will lose more than they gain trying to foil her efforts.

Even so, it is painful to admit you have gotten your ass kicked by a creature who doesn’t even reach your knees. Wounds the pride.

This morning the new lamb (christened Radar Ears by the manchild) was doing well enough we felt comfortable moving him to the barn. So I let him out of the Great Dane sized crate in the mudroom and opened the door to glorious freedom (and fresh air, thankyouJesus because a crated lamb and two caged ferrets in an enclosed space overnight can create smells near blindingly unpleasant) so he could meet Sophie the goat, and we could see how she was going to react. Wrong answer. Sophie affected a goat snarl I have never seen on her formerly precious face and makes it clear from very the start that the fuzzy interloper was unwelcome at best.

What followed was nothing short of pure slapstick comedy, as she chased that poor lamb in circles around me and my knees were used as a trench in the the business of caprine warfare. There was much baaing and grunting and bleating, This was still a little amusing but the walk to the barn right behind the house now quickly took on comparison to a half-marathon. If Sophie could talk, I doubt most of whatever she was saying would have been fit for public sharing.

T and I had anticipated a little resistance, so we had set up a fresh crate in the barn where we could allow some interspecies meet and greet without danger of injury. I installed the lamb in the new digs and closed the door, without a bottle, much to his disappointment. So now he’s crying. I turned my back for approximately 14 seconds to gather an armful of fresh hay for the baby, and Sophie used the time to back up, lower her head and butt the living bejesus out of the metal crate so hard it rocked up off the ground a good six inches.

I outweigh Soph by a good hundred pounds, so I yelled “HEY” in my scariest goatmama voice, put the sole of my tennis shoe on her hindquarters and gave her a spirited shove to let her know this behavior was unacceptable and wouldn’t be tolerated.  ***Disclaimer: I DID NOT KICK THE GOAT, please limit the hate mail to one per visitor, my circular file is small and requires frequent emptying ***

Then, for the first time in her little goaty life, she lowered that same head and her little weeble body on hooves and came at me with the force of a furry freight train. Almost knocked me flat on my rump.

I yelled. Screamed, really.  I cussed her out in grand and colorful fashion, and apparently scarily enough that it triggered her fainting reflex so now her back leg muscles are locked up, and she falls over her own feet and is now rolling helplessly on the barn floor. Now I’m laughing at her, and I’ve pierced her dignity. And I’ve lost all the steam in my mad.

You win again, Sophie.

 

 

The Best Laid Plans

Murphy’s Law is alive and well in this family, and on this farm.

Which brings me to why I could be found in a Tractor Supply store an hour from home at 6:30 last night. And if you know me, you know that TS is just not my favorite place. Or maybe it is, maybe I like it too much, and it’s me that I’m mad at about that. It is, at times, though, a necessary evil. So, occasionally, I find myself paying their light bill instead of my Visa. Yesterday, for example.

So we did a thing this week…we picked up the first of the season’s bottle lambs. A local fellow that we buy awesome round bales from to feed our spoiled equine piggies raises a gorgeous flock of Katahdins that I coo over like a big sissy when we go out there to wrestle a bale. I didn’t know until yesterday that’s what they were, and TBH, I still couldn’t tell you how to pronounce it. (Google lady and her computer voice pronunciation have steered me wrong on so many occasions that I am now the queen of the synonym just to save myself any more embarrassment.) Mostly because the knowledge came to me AFTER we’d picked him up and took place via a text exchange. I knew they were sheep. kata3

Hey, don’t judge me! We aren’t sheep people. I can identify a cattle, goat or poultry breed with reasonable accuracy at twenty paces, but I’m a sheep racist of the most ignorant sort. All the white ones look alike. All I know is they’re cute and fuzzy and the little monotone Baaaaa-aaa that emits from the little faces (and means everything from Hi mom to I’m hungry to you suck!) is more than I can bear. They mean spring. The kids love feeding them.  On the practical side, they are highly salable, the profit margin rocks as does the success rate. By that I mean that unlike bottle calves, they want to live. (Bottle calves do not wish to live, especially Jerseys. It’s an argument you will lose more often than you like. And that is always a blow.) But, I digress…

So, as he only had the one, a plan was hatched to attend our semi-local weekly livestock auction. We set out to try and buy our new charge a friend since we’re not sure Sophie the Goat will appreciate his company. (Could go either way, she has multiple personalities) At least it’s always BEEN weekly. We have taken the winter off from auction and pared back on what we intended to feed through the winter. See, if we don’t go, we can’t buy! (Meaning me. I can’t buy. Because I infallibly and often ill-advisably will, like the time I bought myself a 45 pound half dead suicide bent Holstein bull calf on my birthday. In December. For two dollars, since I was the only idiot willing to bid.) Ryan wants peeps, and there were none last week. So we unloaded the truck of tools and work supplies, unearthed crates and cages that have sat idle all winter, and off we went. 74641_181456678547871_4571525_n.jpg

Bear in mind now, as we did this, there was a band of uncharacteristically severe, hairy storms rolling up and through the Eastern Shores of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. My daughter was calling me from her VA bathtub with her four children as tornado alarms were going off and news anchors were hollering “I repeat, take cover NOW!”. I lost my hat twice and had to chase it across the muddy pasture. I could HEAR my blood pressure. T has snappy tendencies when he’s rushed and I’m a smartass. This was not a pleasant prep session.

We arrived, more than an hour later, peace and harmony restored, with extensive “divide and conquer battle plans” having been made during the ride (as peeps, lambs and goat kids are auctioned simultaneously in different places.) The safety of my grown child’s family has been verified. I feel infinitely better. Pulled around the bend in the road, and …. What?!? No cars, no trucks, no trailers. No Amish buggies and their four legged motors tied up at the fence rail. No hay lined up for sale like this…1800317_1148244105202166_5009651877243424918_n

Sweet. Baby. Jesus. We have just spent an hour prepping in 40 mph winds, an hour’s drive, and arrived hyped for battle at a CLOSED auction. Mom fail. Honey Fail. Farm Fail. You see, neither of us had thought to call first, and not having been all winter, we did not know they had affected some dandy newfangled “winter schedule” and are now operating only every OTHER week.

There is groaning and “Oh HELL No-ing”, and kicking of selves in the rump happening at this point. You can very nearly TASTE the disappointment of the 8yo in the backseat. (Not that any 8yo is shy to let you know when you have just epically upset his apple cart.)

Ok, Mom… apologize for your oversight. Curse profusely. Apologize for that. Lecture the kid on “don’t repeat that. like ever. or until you’re 30.” …fall back and regroup. T starts frantically searching local Craigslist livestock ads. WE WILL NOT go home empty handed. I start searching for the local Tractor Supply, because I know that ‘chick days’ have begun and maybe a boxful of biddies will appease my child. A phone call is made, I’m assured they do indeed have chicks and we’re off once again. I made the mistake of asking the ‘person in charge of chicks’ what breeds they got in.

TS Chicken Expert: “Uh…I…I think, hold on…Pole-lets. And some Long Island Red Somethings. Some kind of White chicken”

ME: “You mean pullets? Mixed ones? As in, Girls?

TSCE: “Yeah, that’s what I said. Pole Lets.”

Me:  “And are they RHODE Island Reds? ”

TSCE: “Uh, sure, we’ve got em.”

Obviously, this kid is to chickens what I am to sheep. I feel for him a little.

So we get there. What awaits us is 2 galvanized water tubs full of what appear to be RI Red chicks. With a smartly printed sign that says “Assorted Pullets, $2.99.” Next to it is another, full of more little reddish gold chicks and coal black ones and a few that look like possible Speckled Sussex chicks. Its sign proclaims “Heritage Rhode Island Reds, unsexed. Special $1.99”. On the other side is a matching set of tubs with one of Cornish Rocks (they can keep ’em) , one with assorted bantam chicks (again, no interest) , and one with mixed ducks in a rainbow of colors. Don’t want those either. Too early. Ducklings indoors, no bueno. They are messy and stinky.

So we wait, and eventually are greeted by the young man I suspect I spoke to. Now being a firm believer in karma, (my T calls these my “right way Sally” moments) I don’t feel it’s fair to buy the obviously mismarked chicks for a dollar less. So I speak up.

Me: “Hon, you have these here marked as the $1.99 Rhode Islands. I’m pretty sure your RI and pullet signs are switched. I want some pullets, but I don’t feel right paying the wrong price for them.”

TS Chicken Expert: “These ARE the Rhode Islands. They came in marked by the hatchery. I read the box.”

Me: “At no time in history has a Rhode Island Red chick ever been black. Just trying to do the right thing here.”

TSCE: “Ma’am, I CAN read. These are the Rhode Islands. Did you want them or not?”

This is the point where my right way Sally switch flips and I determine that if you’re going to be a self-proclaimed chicken expert even though you look like Doogie Howser with acne AND  a craptastic attitude as I try to prevent you from making a mistake that costs your company money, well then, who am I to not give you your way?

Me: “Sure. Rhode Islands it is. What’s your minimum, 6? I’ll have 12. 6 of the RED Rhode Islands and 6 of the BLACK Rhode Islands. $1.99, right? Super.”

Meet our new Rhode Island Reds. 20160225_073808.jpg

In calculating that I had probably just gotten a 12 dollar windfall from Tractor Supply and Chick Boy’s ineptitude, I elected to buy four new gallon sized waterers  (also mis marked) for 4 dollars and change each for the new runs. However, I suspect the black chicks may be Black Stars, in which case two of them are roos. Either way, I win. Ryan has his babies, we got new waterers that are kid-friendly size…Thanks, Doogie! I’m probably going to hell now.

Some names have been changed or omitted to protect the innocent. And the foolish. Apologies to Doogie Howser’s character.

 

Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer.

12745434_1253932904633571_6178377214742722833_nThis is my 8 year old’s normal.

It’s probably not your normal. That’s ok. It’s certainly NOT a perfect photograph, but it is a perfectly accurate snapshot of our life and the stuff in it that brings me joy. Here’s what I love about this photo.

1. There is not a single electronic device present. This isn’t to say that Ry doesn’t enjoy access to computers and tablets and gaming systems. He does. (Which some days result in EPIC battles of wills.) You’ll notice there are none here.

2. That impish little grin is a completely genuine one. No faking it for the camera…just pure uncontainable, “I’m not too cool for this” joy. I hope he never outgrows not being too cool, but the realist in me is painfully aware of the possibility that these days may be numbered. I’ll take them while I can get them.

Here are the things you may not see.

That after working all day, at 7:30 p.m., my honey drove nearly an hour away (Still finishing up work calls on his earpiece the entire time) to pick up a bottle lamb and back and didn’t complain.  Literally, pulled in the drive, sucked down a only marginally decent cup of coffee and loaded right back up to leave again. We were both so over the day that we elected to not clear the tools out of the truck to make room for a crate (they will just have to be put back tomorrow anyway) so that lamb rode 48 miles on my lap. That my kid had gas station convenience store deli fried chicken for dinner without a vegetable in sight and didn’t get to bed until well after 10. On a school night.

You also don’t see that he did three days worth of homework without complaint or battle pre-embarking on our mission because Monday’s never gets done on Monday (Cub Scouts) and Wednesday’s doesn’t get done on Wednesday if it’s an auction week, and it is. So it’s a Tuesday triple, which happens more often than I should probably admit to.

That pink topped Playtex bottle you see there has been so well used, it’s  nearly lost it’s pre-printed design and seen countless orphan goat kids and lambs AND three dishwashers come and go. (And the occasional human grandchild, don’t judge me, the aforementioned dishwashers have a sterilize setting) The man-child holding it may pretend to be incapable of independently constructing his own chocolate milk, but he can rattle off a recipe from memory for homemade milk replacer like nobody’s business.

You don’t see the 10 miles of giggles after I was presented with figuring out if that was lamb “happy tail” or pelletized poo striking the leg of my jeans…(poo, of course). Or the 20 miles of uncontrollable laughter from everyone after our wooly charge expertly unleashed a stream of something warm and wet that ran directly down the leg of my jeans and into my shoe. (Because nothing is EVER funnier than Mom getting peed on. Except Crap, and that was a done deal already)

You don’t see him staying up to make sure the new baby is comfortably settled in the mud room, pulling and hauling on stuff way too heavy for his tiny body, all the while extracting promises that only he gets to do the morning feeding.

You don’t see him counting the contents of his piggy bank before bed in preparation for Wednesday’s auction because he knows that sheep and goats are herd animals and he fears his new charge might be lonely, and it’s no more work but more profit to raise multiples. And you have never seen him raise a bidder number at that auction (and get taken seriously, the auctioneers all know him by name and that he means business) then plunk down his very own money for something he needs or wants, with no wires, bells, whistles or graphics but instead, something with yet another chore attached.

Or that he knows it’s ok to name this one, because as an intact male, he won’t be gracing our dinner table, but not to get attached because when he reaches an age that bowling for children becomes a sheep sport, he’ll be off to auction.

And most importantly, what you really don’t see is my terror that life like this is vanishing. Someday, (in some places even now) this is not ok…that someone has decided it’s not normal, or even legal. Sobering thought, isn’t it?

Well, until that day comes…and if it ever does in my lifetime it will be met with kicking and screaming of epic proportions, this IS our normal. There’s a loose baby lamb in my truck. My kid didn’t eat a balanced meal, is out way past bedtime on a school night, and there’s animal crap in my pant cuffs and urine in my shoe. Child labor is alive and well here, but it’s not forced, it’s called work ethic and I’m grateful my kid is learning some.  Our family vehicle smells like lamb ass, and there’s livestock living in the entry to our home. And we’re all smiling.

Normal is just a setting on the dryer around here. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

*** For reference purposes, I’m attaching a link to another blog where I originally found a recipe for homemade milk replacer for lambs. We have been using it ever since, I have not bought a bag of commercial type since finding this recipe, and have not lost a single lamb. So it’s worked famously for us. 

Thank you, Collie Farm!