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A Change of Face

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I tried to write in February, I really did. I sat down multiple times trying to express my thoughts but I just could not get any words out. It isn’t because there was nothing to say, on the contrary there were so many things happening, that honestly, it overwhelmed me.

It was the first time I sincerely felt like giving up, putting down the pitchfork and packing it all up.

This farm life isn’t always joyful, there are times it can be pretty tough. The reality can be sickness, death and lonliness. February was all those rolled together and a bit more. We lost a duck, (one of my favorites) to a bald eagle attack and two more got sick and died.  We also got, for us, a lot of snow. We are used to lots of rain and an occasional inch or two of snow, but this was 8 inches that made everything harder including the  loneliness. When you begin your life on a farm you plan for many things, but the isolation you may encounter can be an unfriendly surprise.

I mean, it’s hard enough to leave when everything is going well but, it is just about impossible when you are managing your animals in the snow and the eagles are looming about like a huge dark cloud hanging over your dream wanting to devour it. I don’t like to admit I am feeling down or in any way negative about life in general, so it’s extremely hard for me to share this in such a public way. My heart wants to look for the best and encourage others to find their joy in the simple things we all can be grateful for. Even though it is difficult, I know it’s important to be authentic and honest as I communicate my experiences. Painting a picture of a perfect and easy life is not only deceptive, it can be discouraging to those who are comparing their own situation and struggling to attain such an impossible likeness.

So, I am determined to take off this February face and shed the gloomy melancholy that has permeated my attitude and emotions for the past few weeks. I realize there is so much to look forward to: spring and sunshine, baby goats, fresh garden vegetables, the list goes on and on. I am going to focus on the good things and not the bad (like having to wrangle two naughty and stinky male goats that just broke out of their pen and are attempting to join the lady goats). If you are wondering… yes, that just happened.

It’s may be a challenge but here’s hoping to a much improved March face.

The Best of 2018

This past year on the farm was filled with so many highs. Of course there were a few lows as well but I don’t really think you can fully appreciate all the best things in life without the contrast of those low points. I suppose it’s the storm before the rainbow that allows us to fully appreciate it’s wonder.  2018 was truly wonderful and full of wonder!IMG_1231

We started the year deep in mud as is usual for us in the Pacific Northwest, it may not always be fun dealing with the muck but it does provide some great photos.

February gave us a little break with some snow!

I am pretty sure Farmdog napped most of the month of March!

but we did enjoy a few sunny days…. its not all rain and snow here.

April was all about the ducklings… and watching them grow!

and Farmdog was still finding lots of time for those naps.

In May we planted a garden, collected eggs, raised meat chickens and milked goats.

We actually milk goats year round …. but the days are getting longer now, so I have more day time and that allows me more time to take pictures.

In June we hatched a tiny Call Duck and some Serama Chicks

and our garden was doing great, we even added a pumpkin patch.

but most exciting for me was finishing my first book!img_1216

In July Buttercup delivered triplets…

We started having our farm to table dinners…

and Farmdog was still getting those naps in.

and Orange Cat has this napping habit as well…

In August Gilly delivered twin doelings

It was our most difficult birth we have had on the farm. Our first doeling was breach but was a strong girl. Her sister had a cleft palette and was unable to survive. It was a hard experience but we learned a lot. We decided to keep Gilly’s surviving doeling “Millie” in our herd..img_4411

We also added two new barn kittens “Jake and Abby” to the farm.

In September the pumpkins were really growing

and so were the kittens and their relationship with Farmdog

and I had my very first book signing.booksigning

In October we welcomed our very first grandchild “Harper Mae”

I turned the big 5-0…and it’s ok… really Fifty is just a number.

We harvested A LOT… and made CHEESE and gathered so many eggs I still don’t know what to do with them all!

November was filled with family visiting from out of state. Meanwhile the kittens and Millie were getting bigger, and our little Harper Mae as well.

With the cooler weather comes the bread baking… which causes the waistline to grow bigger as well. But, I have to say it’s definitely worth it.

November was a time to slow down a bit , enjoy family and be Thankful. For the first time I think in forever I decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving… and then it was DECEMBER:

It’s been a great year and we are incredibly grateful and looking forward to the amazing opportunities we will encounter in 2019. I’m pretty sure Farmdog will still be taking those naps… img_1546

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!

Dream Big

HarlequinSwanIf you have read some of my posts or followed me on Instagram you will already know that I have quite a few ducks on our farm. I believe the count is currently at twenty-two.  With this sizable flock, my summer was largely spent keeping plastic baby pools filled, dumped and filled again with clean water. If you don’t know, ducks are messy, really messy. Our resident chef, aka my loving husband calls them “cement makers”. They make mud, lots of mud and then stamp it down with their little webbed feet. Despite this fact, I love them…. I love the sounds they make, I love seeing the bonds they make with other ducks, but I mostly love watching them play in the water.

It only took a couple summer months of constant water refills before I knew we needed something big, something much larger than what we working with. So, we hopped in our small pick-up and headed to the feed store. (On a side note, for those of my friends who live in the city and don’t know where to get themselves a pitchfork or a cool pair of overalls, the feed store is the farmer’s Target or Walmart .) Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves with a three hundred gallon stock tank strapped in the back of our truck. The volume of the stock tank is greater than that of our truck bed so, I will let you imagine what we looked like driving home.

Our stock tank is awesome, it allows for more than one or two ducks to swim at the same time, which is a great plus if you enjoy watching ducks as much as I do. If for some strange reason we decide not to have ducks, (but why would we?) we can make ourselves one of those cool cowboy hot tubs you see all over Pinterest. That of course, would be after a major cleaning, because as I have stated before, ducks are messy! I was reminded of this fact the other day while I was performing my monthly draining of the duck tank. The faucet valve didn’t work and I had to use the shop vac to suck out the murky green water. After too many fill and dumps to count, I reached the bottom, a thick layer of muck and bloated eggs. What most people don’t know is that ducks, especially young ducks will often lay their eggs while walking about or even swimming. Filling and dumping the shop vac is unpleasant enough, but I seriously began to reconsider my decision to have ducks while sucking up their stinky sludge.

It is easy to forget in the difficult times why we do the work, why we push through the muck and mire, wear the bumps, bruises and blisters, just to go to bed at night exhausted, wake up in the morning and do it all over again. When I fill the tank with fresh clean, although somewhat sulphur smelling well water and the ducks begin to dive in and splash around with excitement, I remember why. It is in these moments I am filled with joy and inspiration. I watch my flock raising their wings as if they are majestic swans and recognize the wondrous beauty of this simple moment. With one captured second of complete bliss, I can creatively share my dream with others. When I do this, it grows and becomes even more than I could have ever imagined.

Dream big my friends, work hard and push through the difficulties to achieve it but, when you do, don’t forget to enjoy it. For in doing so, you will surely inspire others to do the same.

Balancing Act

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I’ve always tried to do my very best at what I set out to do, the problem is, I often struggle finding the correct balance. My tendency is to go a 100 mph, deplete myself and then come to a complete screeching halt. I am able to get quite a bit done in a short period of time but then lose momentum trying to recover from exhaustion. It’s all about balance, I need to live with a 100% all in attitude without trying to give everything and everyone 100% of me a 100% of the time. Learning to choose who and what to invest our time and effort in is an important part of life. It all comes down to balancing priorities if I truly want to be at my best, doing my best work and living a joyful and fruitful life.

This past summer I worked really hard to complete my first children’s book, my last post We Wrote a Book has more about that. While completing the book, there were still farm chores to do: feeding, cleaning, birthing, milking, etc. I also spent quite a bit of energy finding new ways to develop our farm and trying to discover how to be self -sufficient in the future: farm to table dinners, growing a pumpkin patch, and creating new products to sell. In addition to these responsibilities, I have a part-time graphic design job and a multitude of family and friend relationships to care for as well. It is physically and mentally exhausting, honestly there are times I am completely overwhelmed. Sometimes, I feel like one of those circus performers who spins plates on sticks with a tremendous pressure to keep them all from crashing to the floor.

Staying focused is especially challenging when I allow myself to compare my life, priorities or achievements with someone else’s. Social media can inspire but it can also derail us by offering an edited snippet of another’s life or accomplishment. We don’t see the whole picture, all the hard work, struggles, frustrations or loss behind a pretty photo or a well-worded comment, just say’n. I know that I am not alone in this struggle, I hear and see so many others burdened by an abundance of “things to do”. Constant busyness seems to be a rampant social disease that is robbing so many from living a fulfilling life.

For me, farm life helps to bring my important priorities back into focus. It requires me to slow down and be more thoughtful, which allows me time to appreciate what is truly important. Knowing what is of real value and eliminating the extraneous labor that sneaks into my daily life is the key. I do realize that as I continue to seek the right working balance I will be cleaning up some broken plates that fall to the ground. Going forward I think I am ok with that. Who knows, I might even piece together the broken shards to create a mosaic of sorts.

 

 

 

We Wrote A Book

IMG_1220Our book is now available to purchase on Amazon! Farm Dog is trying to take all the credit but it has been a true group effort from all the sweet and silly farm animals that live here on the farm. There was even a little help from me, the Artsy Farmsy Girl and of course the Chef who keeps us all fed!

We are so happy to share a little bit of the fullness we experience from living on our farm, with you and the special children in your life. We hope you will enjoy getting to know and love all The Smith Farmhouse Characters . We will be keeping you posted on what they are all up to and also the new characters that have joined us.

If you click on on the Farmhouse Characters tab at the top menu of his webpage you will find more information and pictures about all of us that live here. We will also be adding new stories in the days to come. We look forward to hearing from you, we love answering questions about what we do and why. We also love to encourage others to know where there food comes from, to find a local farm to visit and to support those that work hard growing and raising quality food for our tables.

We appreciate all your encouragement, your comments and book purchases. It allows us to keep plowing forward, doing what we love: gathering the fullness from our farm and sharing it with others!

If you are interested in purchasing The Smith Farmhouse Characters you can click here

 

High Hopes

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First of all…. How has it been two months since I have written a blog post? I literally gasped when I saw that my last post was June 25th. I remember that day clearly, I was so excited that I had finally figured out how to upload my children’s book and with sincere expectation believed that it would be a couple short weeks before I would get my proof in the mail and approve it for print. Oh, I have always been the optimist but my estimate of two weeks would actually be more like two months.

I didn’t take in to consideration that I would make mistakes, I learned that we are often blind to our own errors. I ended up going through the process four more times before getting it right. It has been a good thing for me in so many ways, I am learning to take things in stride and embrace the realization that taking the time to do things well is important. As much as I wanted to get my book finished by a certain date, I wanted it to be done excellent, even more. So, I learned to swallow my pride and embrace my mistakes as an opportunity to grow and move forward.

I also didn’t factor in just how exciting, emotional and exhausting July and August would be. Farm life has been so full of new births, building projects, blackberry bush removal and visitors. We started farm to table dinners and finished the second phase of our goat barn. Amid all the gains we have had loss too, we lost our first baby goat in August. The little doeling had a cleft pallette. It was heartbreaking. Even though we have her sister Millie, I often think of her tiny twin that slept in my lap and died in my arms. Even in sadness there is so much to be gained. Love and loss often come hand in hand, I am learning not to allow grief to keep me from moving forward and embracing the love and joy in front of me. Somedays that means bringing home free kittens when you have tears streaming down your face and you need to smile so your heart doesn’t break. It’s ok, it really is.

I have high hopes for the future, not because I expect that everything is always going to be rosy. I am optimistic because I know that I can find value in every circumstance. I can climb higher than life’s problems and find new perspective gained from all my past experiences. I have gained so much from pushing through and finishing my book, it was so much harder than I expected and even more rewarding when I finally approved it for print.

When life is hard, or you keep making mistakes, don’t let it break you. Use these opportunities to make you stronger, better equipped and just grow with it.

P.S. My book will be available on Amazon in about 3-5 working days from today…                  I am so excited to share it with you all, let me know what you think of it,if you choose to purchase it!!!

 

Farmhouse Character

In October of this year I will be turning 50, I will also be a grandmother for the first time. These two significant events have been the motivation I needed to push forward and accomplish a goal that I have had for quite a long time. I have long wanted to write and publish a book of my own. Last week, I finally uploaded my first book to be published and I am waiting to receive the final proof in the mail. It is quite a rewarding feeling, to finally bring to fruition, something that was in my heart and mind for years.

When my now grown and married children were young, we made to choice to homeschool. It was not a new concept when we first started but it wasn’t as prevalent as it is now. There were many reasons we had for making the decision to begin the journey, but one of the main reasons we continued was the ability to focus on developing strong and meaningful character in their lives. Knowledge is important but it is character that transforms what is learned into wisdom. I think we have a culture of many individuals that possess a large amount of knowledge but lack wisdom. I suppose I could continue on with an opinion on that topic but I would rather focus on what I can do about it.

The desire to see my children grow in character and become kind, grateful, thoughtful and wise individuals directed me to find and choose literature that would demonstrate these type of qualities in a style they could identify with. We made weekly trips to the public library in search of books that were age appropriate and interest based with the purpose of re-enforcing positive character traits in their daily lives. The afternoons curled up on the couch reading Huckleberry Finn and so many other great stories with my children are some of my most cherished memories.

As I quickly approach the day that I will be holding the next generation of our family in my arms I feel even more compelled to continue fostering a desire for positive character development in our children. Living on our farm has been the fulfillment of my childhood dream, and it has afforded me an opportunity to use my passions to finally write the book I would have loved as a child and one I will enjoy reading to my grandchildren. I have taken my love for the farm lifestyle and a heart to impart wisdom and placed it within the personalities of our lovable and relatable farm animals. As much as I am excited and nervous about sharing my book to the public, I hope it will encourage others to step out and pursue their own dreams.

One thing I have learned is: becoming a success should never be the goal, but imparting your passion to strengthen and inspire the next generation should be.