Around the Homestead

Girl’s First Kayaking Experience

We are in the process of having a pond dug, so we thought even though it isn’t finished, we could take the girls out on the kayaks they got for Christmas.

Because goggles are essential when you kayak…to know Canyon is to love her

The girls had a great time. The frogs were all over the pond, so they got to see them up close. We had a little picnic lunch when we were finished kayaking before heading home.

The pond in progress

We still have a long way to go, but hopefully by next spring it will be complete.

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Baby Goats…A Real Birth Day

We went to my parents on Sunday for my birthday dinner.

The girls frosted my cake.

While we were there three of the goats decided to have babies. While Canyon was less interested and went upstairs to play with magnet blocks and read, Aspen was right in the middle of the whole thing. She was so excited to actually see a baby animal being born. She has seen lambs before, but was so little she doesn’t remember it.

She had her camera out taking pictures, asking a bazillion questions, and was glued to the scene the entire time.

Aspen and Dad checking on the new mamas and babies.

It was a pretty exciting day for her. It is so nice when all of us just take a day to spend together when we aren’t working on a farm related project. Kidding doesn’t count!

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We are officially a “real farm”

According to our girls, we are officially a “real farm” now that we have a cow. The llamas, sheep, chickens, cats, and dogs have not officially qualified us, but the cow has done it.

I truly can’t believe we actually took the plunge for a milk cow, but even through all the struggles of introducing her to our farm I have not regretted it.

She is a registered Jersey named Lexi, due to calve (a girl) in February 2021. She has come leaps and bounds since we brought her home. She still hasn’t adjusted to life in the same pen as the sheep and llamas, so for now she can only visit them over the fence. In all honesty, the sheep are the ones scared of her. They start running and in turn get her excited so she runs after them and causes problems.

We hope to sell her calf (once she is old enough or possible bred) as a family milk cow. That is a long way down the road. So for now we are just enjoying getting her used to us and looking forward to milking season.

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wild turkeys and new chicks

To make a very long story short, while having our pond dug our friend stirred up a turkey sitting on a nest of seven eggs. It was right where he was digging, so we decided to take the eggs home and incubate them.

We did everything by the book, temperature, humidity, stopped rotating them prior to hatching…EVERYTHING. One hatched no problem, one hatched and never stood a chance. The girls named turkey number one, Lilly. Aspen spent hours with this little bird. She was adorable, seemed fairly hardy, and also lonely.

On Randy’s way home from work on day four of Lilly’s life he stopped and picked up the minimum required five chicks, Isa Browns, and TSC. That night Lilly and her five chicks were curled up sweetly sleeping. The next morning I awoke to find Lilly had died in the night. All we can come up with is at one point the previous day Lilly had gotten herself lodged in her water dish and possibly dropped her body temperature enough to where she couldn’t recover? We really have no idea.

All we know is that we had the most heartbroken little girl that morning when she woke up to find that her pet wild turkey had died. We’ve lost dogs, cats, pet sheep, an incredible guard llama and never has she been so upset. She loves animals and for some reason, losing this little bird was her breaking point.

So now we have five little Isa Brown (whatever that is) chickens stinking up Randy’s shop in a cute little brooder Randy whipped up for them in a day.

The are just as cute as they can be and the beginning of our restoration of our homestead. More on that later, but for now, our laying hen flock is growing ever so slowly.

Brooder pen for chicks

Our little farm just keeps growing and getting restored from our 5 year hiatus.

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Summer photos of the girls

Every so often I like to take the girls around the countryside and find fun places to take some pictures. We love doing this when the wheat is golden, the wind isn’t blowing too bad, and have a few clouds in the sky. We have a 1% chance of all of this happening at once in Kansas, but here we go.

Canyon and Aspen
At a lake near our home
Finding feathers

It is so much fun when we take the time to do this. The girls are good sports and it’s fun to have these memories to look back on.

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Early Summer on our homestead

It’s warming up here and the garden and flowers and blooming.

Diego and Roxy
First lettuce of the season
Lamb’s Ear and Milkweed
The girls curled up with a magazine
We spend many a summer day on our front porch reading, snacking, and sharing a cold drink together.
Our front yard “kitchen garden”
Aspen and Canyon

The garden is doing so good and the weather is cooperating with rain to keep everything green and growing. So thankful for the girls help everyday to keep it all going.

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For years we have rescued dogs that have been abandoned along the side of the road and given them a home. It is our love for animals that has given us the motivation to do whatever is necessary to adjust our farm to accommodate these dogs and other animals we have taken in.

One day on my way to work, an hour away, halfway there I came up to three dogs along the side of the road. I called Randy to let him know I was about to get out with three dogs and where I was in case something happened. Two of the dogs immediately ran away, but one of them was laying on the side of the road. He appeared to be hurt, but was easily coaxed into the backseat of my car.

I called work to let them know I would be a bit late, turned my car around and headed for home with a slightly damp, very smelly, super timid, but very well-mannered dog in tow. I gave him food, water, and put him in a dog crate in our garage before heading to work. I stopped at houses along the way home to see if anyone had lost a dog and called the local post office where I was told a mail carrier had seen this dog running for weeks.

So he was our’s! A trip to the vet to get him checked out and fixed and then it was time to introduce him to the two dogs we already had (Ash and Koal). Everyone got along great except for one problem. When the sheep would graze along the woven wire fencing that separated our dog’s backyard and the sheep pasture Thai would bit their ears OFF, yes off.

This is the part of rescuing animals from all different backgrounds and all different temperaments that gets hard, time consuming, and expensive. We ended up having to build a privacy fence along one side our our backyard to separate the sheep lot from the dogs to create a barrier between the sheep and what appeared to be a harmless Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix.

The three dogs got along great despite their very different personalities. The vet estimated his age around one year old when we brought him home to live with us. We loved on him for twelve years until he woke up one morning disoriented and sick. It was all of a sudden and we weren’t prepared to lose him, but we let him go with grace and will never forget this big, harry dog who would literally greet us with a smile.

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Camping in the yard

It is probably the last cool evening for us for awhile so we decided to camp with the girls. They were a bit nervous about leaving the house, so in the yard the tent went.

The girls helped Randy put up the tent while I gathered all the food, bug spray, and necessities.

Our front yard view
Our backyard view

A quick change in the house into pajamas and two sweaty little girls were ready to wind down for the evening.

And one little dog on her first camping trip

Very seldom is it green enough around the 4th to safely do sparklers. We had some leftover from last 4th of July the girls finally got to use.

They had so much fun running around the yard in their pajamas with the sparklers.

One last trip around the yard for Laila’s bathroom break, and we all crawled into the tent for a cool spring night of sleep. We had so much fun and the weather was just perfect for sleeping in a tent. We will definitely do it again in the fall when it cools back down again.

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Sheep Shearing

And why we don’t have cats in our house all the time…

Shearing sheep has changed a bit on our farm. We used to have enough sheep shearers would come to our place and shear them with electric shears and then move on to mom and dad’s to shear their sheep. Then we didn’t have enough sheep for the shearers to come to us, so we had to load our sheep into a stock trailer and haul them an hour away to get sheared. We only did this once, it didn’t go great, so the following year we decided to try using the hand shears Randy shears the llamas with and hand shear all fifteen of our sheep. We borrowed a stanchion and went to work. It went so well last year we went for it again this year.

Our sheep are so tame this really works well for us. I also got in on the action shearing around their neck and face while Randy worked everywhere else which sped things up also.

It took us one weekend to hand shear all fifteen of our sheep and trim their hooves. It takes maybe 45 minutes a sheep. It’s a lot of work, but so worth it to keep them safe at home and not stress them in a trailer or have them walking through pens where other sheep have been.

Randy shears both of our llamas with hand shears in a custom chute we bought at an auction from a llama farm. We have two llamas that take about an hour each to shear and three at mom and dad’s.

We also shear the sheep at mom and dad’s. They have four, but two of them jumped the fence and were left with only two to shear. The two who jumped are hair sheep and will hopefully shed.

That is how our weekends have been spent lately. It’s good exercise and the animals enjoy when it is all over with as much as we do.

Around the Homestead

Spring is here…sort of…

The tulips are blooming, and we’ve broke out the tote of summer clothes.

The cats enjoy this time of year. We are outside more which means more attention for them.

They just get sweeter with age.

And with spring comes unpredictable weather and days when you just need to stay in your pajamas and do fun things inside.

Also with drastic weather changes comes sick animals. Willie Nelson spent a few days inside after a trip to the vet for an viral infection.

There are also days where a walk is in order.
Even when the wind is relentless.

Spring here has meant, trying to get the garden in shape, shearing sheep, shearing llamas, trimming hooves, doctoring sick cats, washing copious amounts of eggs, loving on an aging dog, and having our story time on the front porch snuggled up with a few cats.

Rescuing animals is not for the faint of heart. It is a lot of work and a lot of expense, but in the end they pay us back with loyalty and love. Spring is just a busy time preparing the animals for summer and helping them through their ailments as they adjust to the season change.