Showing posts with label the grovestead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the grovestead. Show all posts

our first week with the goats

We are so attached to these goats already. And I know they are farm animals and not pets, but honestly, how do you tell your head and your heart not to get attached? It just happens. And we are all attached.

Our first week went smoothly except for the ten minutes that did not go smoothly at all. And those ten minutes are what I want to write about now.

We got our goats to help us with our grove maintenance. We want them to feast in our grove. We want to be able to walk through our woods again. We want to have an Oak Savannah again, and our goats are our plan. Which means we might have been a little eager to get them out and into the grove first thing. Thankfully Rory had spent the morning building a fence from the barn to the cabin. And thankfully the previous owners had goats back in the day so that there is a fence surrounding the grove, though we have cut openings in it for various projects and parts are down due to branches or trees that have fallen down. 

Rory wanted to get the goats to the smaller pen he had created out of electric fence, and had made leashes for the goats to walk them there. Well. Goats aren't super big into being walked. Or dragged. Or pulled. And at some point the knots came undone and Rory calmly stood with two concerned goats, not sure what this strange man wanted them to do next. The big kids and I were sitting in lawn chairs on the other side of the electric fence waiting to watch the show. Hattie was thankfully napping. (Hattie is awesome like that.) 
So Rory picked up the baby goat, knowing the mama would follow. He got the baby in the electric fenced area, but the mama circled on his wrong side, panicked because she was separated from her baby and charged the electric fence. 

And that was right about when we knew we were in deep, deep trouble. 

The Mama was zapped by that fence, by two lines, and bucked up and went bananas. At this point in the story I need you to add in your own audio track of two goats bleating their hearts out, a human-like noisy cry, incessant, and worried, "maaaaaaaaaaa! maaaaaaaaaaa!" I grabbed the kids and got them safely in the barn while Ivar sobbed, "Oh no! We lost our goats already! We'll never have goats again!" Rory spoke fast, "get me another rope." And all the while the two goats were running pell mell around our grove. 

At the same time our neighbor's dogs started barking, adding to the chaos. I kept waiting for the goats to head to the neighbors or for the dogs to come to us, but they never did. Rory got the goats to head towards the cabin and they came right up to the fence he had just erected that morning, where I stood on the other side. And then they turned towards the back side of the barn and my heart sunk. They were heading for the opening that was blocked only by electric fence...something they clearly had no regard for. One good run and they'd be in our field where they'd really be free. 

So they ran around the barn on the back side and I took off to catch them before they made it to the open field. And as I ran I thought, "Sweet Jesus! Make me bold so I can jump on that goat!" 

That was for real my plan. I was going to jump on the mama and go for a ride. I knew she had to be caught or we'd be chasing goats for the rest of our lives. Also noteworthy is that I only call Jesus 'Sweet' in moments of serious peril. I have a short list when my mouth has said Sweet Jesus! And every time it has been completely reverent, with all sincerity asking Sweet Jesus for some Sweet Supernatural help. Like right away. I said it when I watched Rory drop from the roof in front of the kitchen window when he was cleaning out the gutters and came upon a wasp nest. And I said it when our old barn came down. And now I said it again while gearing up to jump on a goat.

I came around the corner of the barn and watched in horror as they ran right towards me. I got myself ready but at the very last second, they turned right into their pen. Praise Sweet Jesus! Rory was on the other corner and I climbed through the electric fence (which must have been grounded and not on...we think the mama goat broke the circuit, lucky me, because I was just going to "run through it real quick" so I could get the door closed behind them. Ha!) 

We closed the door and stood in the pen with our two goats. I got the kids and went back in the house and then I got the giggles and laughed about it all night long. I told Rory the Good Shepherd could not have taught us more lessons in a shorter amount of time. It was actually quite the productive educational experience and there are about 14 mistakes that we will never make again. 
So we've spent the last few days building up trust with our goats again, and thankfully they seem to be rather forgiving.  The electric fence is now right next to the physical wire fence, their first open space is right outside the door to their pen so they can walk in and out as they please, they have been given actual dog collars and next up we will be mending the fence around the entire grove.

Truthfully, if you omit those ten minutes of intense goat school, it has been going great and we are glad to have mammals in our barn. The past few days they have been fed each morning and evening, but other than that, they're pretty low-key. And good thing because Rory's honey bees come tomorrow morning. Wouldn't want to sit still around here...

the first snowfall


We got about two inches, which clearly necessitated the use of the new tractor with snow plow implement. Rory announced our purchase of this kubota tractor over on his blog and we're pretty excited about it. It's the same tractor we've been able to use over the past two years, when we've needed it. Our good friends had it and used it mostly for snow removal in town. But he was looking for a covered cab, leaving this baby for sale. Rory has named it Kubota Tractor Groves.

On Sunday afternoon we realized we needed a home for Kubota so Rory went to Menards and bought the grey thing pictured below. It was supposed to go on the side of the house, but the land was too sloped there. So now we have this little beauty right on the side of our driveway, keeping sweet Kubota Tractor snug and dry. It also has become a favorite hang out for Ivar and Elsie, and the cat family. I have named this structure Functional Eyesore Groves. I am quite tempted to paint it red and trim it out in white.


But look at this happy, handsome man. He stayed up on Sunday night until 2 in the morning building this cozy shelter for his new baby. Welcome to the family Kubota Tractor and Functional Eyesore.

Glorious Fall at the Grovestead












It is gorgeous around here! I have a feeling this Minnesota fall is going to be stunning. Because it already is. The sumac is turning bright red and the maples are already firing to a bright orange. It makes for dangerous driving because I want to take pictures instead of watch the road. (don't worry! I don't!)

Speaking of watching the road...there are so many wooly bear caterpillars trying to cross the road lately. I feel like I'm in some terrible video game, trying to dodge the caterpillars with the tires of my car. There are dozens every time I go to town. Rory apparently hasn't seen one. He said to me, "why are you looking for caterpillars when you're driving?" Now we know who ran over the flat ones.

Another animal related thought. I have grown weary of the idiom "look what the cat dragged in." Because our cats are dragging stuff in every single day. You best not go out in the garage without shoes on. I used to be a good sport about this, because we do live on a farm. But you can only take in so many little dead animals before a girl starts to tell her husband to go dispose of the half-eaten frog/bat/mouse/chipmunk in the garage.

And more animal news! A week ago we brought our 30 broiler chickens to the meat locker. Rory and I loaded them up in the pouring rain. Well, Rory did the loading, but I was out there taking pictures and video the whole time. I was a little sad to say good-bye. I tried not to get attached, but in the last weeks I made up new names: Kiev-en, Gordon Bleu, Tettra-Zina, Kung-Paul, Floren-Tina, Caccia-Tori...and I thought the names were so clever that I was sorry to see them go.

Two nights later we were eating (one of our very own) fried chicken. While eating that first bird it was important to keep the conversation rolling. Didn't want to think about anything for too long. It was pretty good, but it was also our first attempt at fried chicken, and the bird probably should have been brined. However, tonight we had a roast chicken (that had been soaked in a brine) and vegetables and all I could think of when I was eating that bird was how good it was. Rory roasted his own carrots, potatoes, onions and scallions and it was a great meal. One of the record books. (You can read Rory's blog all about the chickens by clicking here.)

All in all, we're doing well here at the Grovestead. Rory is working around the clock with business stuff, we got cable so I'm watching a whole lot of HGTV, and we have a wood burning stove that will be put in our living room one of these days. We're savoring this weather, Elsie and Ivar laugh hard and lock horns all in the same minute and we're taking in as much fall beauty as possible. The world we live in is quite stunning, and I am trying to soak it all in.


two years at the grovestead






At the end of July we hit our two year mark at The Grovestead. We were between vacations and I didn't have time to write about it, but I have reflected on this milestone quite a bit. My sister has always said that two years is the magic number for a new place to feel like home. And I would fully agree. It took both years to get here.

And just like one year ago, I am having trouble processing what was the greatest change: was it going from one kid to two kids? the actual lifestyle change from the city to the country? surviving two of the longest, coldest winters ever?

I'm not sure.

There are still moments when I rub my eye balls and shake my head that this is my life. Like the week I was looking all over for the bathroom scale, only to find it out in the garage being used to weigh potatoes. Strangely, I hadn't thought to look in the garage. Or the night Rory was away in Wisconsin and I found myself awake at 3:30, worrying that the chicks didn't have enough water. So I went outside on a very dark night, by myself, with a flashlight between my legs, pouring water into their water feeder. It was a moment I'll never forget because I was proud of myself for taking on the responsibility. And because it was dark and spooky outside. Becoming the keeper of the honeybees is another "who have I become?" adventure. But a good one. I feel stretched and surprised and so empowered by learning something so completely new.

This move was a really good one for us. It's full of adjustments and challenges too, but overall we are living a dreamy life. One night in particular comes to mind, that sort of sums up our new lifestyle. The night before we left for Family Bible Camp, we were at a friend's birthday party for their kids. We were eating homemade doughnuts and pasta salad and Rory and I started telling each other what all needed to get done before we could leave in the morning: we needed to buy chicken feed, I needed to check on the bees, we desperately needed to mow the lawn, the beets needed to be pulled and maybe the potatoes and the apple trees had to be watered. Not to mention packing up the family for the week. We looked at each other and then checked the time on our phones and realized we had to bust a move. We had actual farm chores that had to get done before the sun went down.

But five hours later we had the car all packed up. We had worked like a machine, taking turns with the kids while one parent did something outdoors, the other cleaned and packed inside. Eventually the kids were in bed and on that starry night, Rory brought our tallest ladder so we could climb up on our roof to watch a lightening storm moving our direction. There was no moon that night and it was so dark except for the lightening illuminating the clouds in front of us and the milky way stretched out above us.

There were fireflies blinking in the woods and I remember really having it sink in that we are living a rich and full life. Even though hours before while tending to our animals and land, laundry and children, I was wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.

That evening seems to sum it up our transition to the country the very best. Our life here on this hobby farm is a mixed bag. There are moments that feel demanding and exhausting followed by moments that feel absolutely perfect and incredibly blessed.

And what I'm finding is that the blessed moments outweigh the frustrating ones. I'm excited to be here for a good, long time.

our organic garden


I'm all for keeping it real on this blog, and I'm about to do just that. Our garden is abundant this year in cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet peas. And depending on how I take the pictures, you might just think our garden is well tended. And it sort of is. It gets watered. It was planted. You know, the basics.

But it turns out there is a lot going on at this little hobby farm. And weeding just never seems to be at the top of the list. Which means that our garden is also abundant in weeds. As in, they are out of control.

Tonight we will have 40 relatives here to visit our little farm. The farming relatives. The ones who all have huge gardens and green thumbs and years and years of expertise. And we're going to have to show them our weeds. I have this feeling some of these relatives might just grab a pair of gloves and start pulling. Which would be awesome and embarrassing at the same time.

So as long as the farming relatives get to see the true state of our garden, I thought I'd share it with you too.





So there it is. Our dirty laundry. Or in this case, our weedy garden.

july at the grovestead














And I'm back! We just returned from family bible camp and had an awesome time. I had planned on blogging while up at camp, but as it turns out camp has its own wonderful pace and I only got my laptop out one time. Which might just be reason number 6,793 why I love family bible camp so much.

But it also meant I went a whole week without blogging! Which is a very rare occurrence for me.

This month flew by and I have a whole lot of posts still left in my head so I thought I'd close this month with a bit of a photo dump. We're in full on summertime here at the grovestead. Lots of animals, flowers, produce, sunshine and weeds. Our chickens are growing, our children are growing, and our garden is growing.

It's a happy season and we're happily soaking it all in.

a tree tapping party



A week ago, Rory sent out an evite to family and friends who had shown interest in our maple syrup making last year. We were hopeful a dozen or so could make it. On Saturday we had forty people, 23 kids and 17 adults, to our house to help place the taps, feed the chickens, name the kittens and eat lots of pancakes.


Rory explained how to identify maple trees in the middle of winter and showed how we insert the taps and collect the sap. And he built an evaporator and had a fire going all morning to show how we boil down the sap. My dad was in charge of fire safety and thought that we had to wait for those pans to boil down before we could eat pancakes. Hilarious. It was just water...we don't have enough sap yet.


It was cold, with a high of 23. But it was sunny. So we told everyone to dress for success and then I set up lots of tables inside so we could fill up on pancakes, sausage, hot chocolate and coffee. My sister-in-law ran the kitchen and flipped many a pancake. Thank you Lisa!




Since my birthday was last week, my mom brought my traditional bunny cake, the birthday cake I have had every year of my life. And then she had the most brilliant idea to cut the cake and eat it outside (no chocolate crumbs in my carpet!) Genius, mom.





The chickens were fed all morning. Some kids got the cracked corn through the fence and to the chickens. Others just dumped dixie cups of chicken food at their own feet.


The chickens seemed to like all the attention. They even cooperated in the spirit of the day by laying eggs for everyone to see.






The morning was awesome. Rory took groups out to the grove to tap trees, the chickens were fed plenty by every kid that walked by, we had a kitten naming contest (results to come), maple syrup cross words and word finds and fed a lot of people in our sunny room with the sunshine pouring in. Rory and I have lots of ideas like Tree Tapping Day, different times of the year when we can have people out to be a part of what we're up to. This first event set a great precedent.