Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My Favorite Organizing Tool...

I’m behind on everything…the yard, the lawn, the house. The goat pen, the harvest preparations, the writing and implementation of Good Agricultural Practices. The Farm Bureau and Museum writing duties. Even the fun things…bridal shower plans, visits from friends plans…


It doesn’t help that a cold I caught turned into a 3 week ordeal, that ended with antibiotics, and a small relapse at the end of their course. Pretty much every day I was ready for a nap right after I got up.

Thankfully, I am seeing improvement now and am able to begin efforts to remedy the situation.

Note that “able to begin” is not the same as beginning…

I can see that I’m going to have to employ my best organizing strategy on a much greater scale.

Let me introduce you to my favorite organizing tool…

…the Door.


When we had the opportunity to create our house plan, I was determined to solve the back door problem that most farms have. All the members of a farm family have boots, and work shoes, and work coats, gloves, hats and other clothing items that don’t get stored with all the nice clothes, that is, Town Clothes, and they end up in a big jumble by the back door. We designed our utility room to be a large room with a big locker for each person. The usual back door jumble could be kept behind a door.

And it would look ALL organized in the utility room…Even though, in fact, it was pseudo organization. Kind of like that biggest file in your cabinet that says Miscellaneous. It looks like you’re organized until you open it and find a jumble within.

This is the same principle on a larger scale. I recommend the use of this strategy in all spaces in your home! 






And as for the outside of your home? If it looks good from the road, it's beautiful.

If I meet you on the porch and close the door, you’ll know how far gone things are…

And if you see I have put a gate on the driveway, all hope is lost.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Farming Friday...

Since the weather has skipped Spring and moved straight to Summer, things are crazy on the farm right now. The bees are here and busy working. There are too many berries on the bushes already. The ground needs to be watered before we can plant the new plants. My flowerbeds, and our lawn all need water as well! It’s DRY out there.

And if this keeps up, last summer might not be a singular anomaly.

Or it’s going to rain all July.

Only in Western Washington does good weather only serve to make us suspicious…Payback cometh.

This week, Randy and his right hand man, Jake, were able to get all the biodegradable film laid out for the new planting. The dirt has been worked over the last couple of weeks; lime added and tilled in as well. The rows were marked. The irrigation connectors were dug up from where they had been buried so they could be reconnected once the drip tape was in. There are a lot of steps of preparation.

It looks like this once it's done.

And it goes in like this.

Once again, Randy created his own system to install it because no one makes a tool specific for this application. Randy became interested in the biodegradable film as it could save us from many costly hours of weeding…Or more realistically, save us from getting far behind on weeding! The film degrades through the winter, and then the rows are open for growth, and the drip tape, laid under the film, will be lifted to water from a suspended position.

It also makes planting so easy, and fun! I’ll have to tell you more about that next week. Right now, the drip tape has been all connected so that we can water under the film to create a very welcoming environment for the little tissue culture plant plugs that will reside there.

The forecast for the weekend includes rain, and that would be very welcome – but lately, the precipitation amounts have been underwhelming. Under the current conditions, we would not be disappointed if we had to put off planting for a day or two because it rained!

I have been working on farming operations as well, but at the computer. We are in the midst of creating our Good Agricultural Practices Manual (referred to as GAP – but certainly not The Gap, which I might rather write about) – and it is a comprehensive and exhaustive document…

And exhausting…You have to prove by your plan and your actions and your documentation of said actions that you are growing food safely. There are about a zillion ways that you can mess up, so GAP is your chance to prove that you have thought of 99% of them, and mitigated the risk…

…which makes me think that we may one day have to grow everything in a climate-controlled, access-controlled environment – like a greenhouse because nature has so many pesky naturally dirty things in it.

However, we do want to do everything we can to make sure our food is as safe as it can be. I just wish it didn’t take so long to write it all down.

Thankfully, I have the baby goats to visit when I need a break, and they are always good for kicks and giggles. And when I say kicks, I mean it literally. They are climbing everything they can, and tonight for the first time, one of them was trying to jump up the wall to a ledge. He is WAY too little to make it, but that doesn’t keep him from trying. Like most animal babies, they play crazily, and then collapse into comas. They are always finding little cramped spaces in which to take a nap, all in a pile. Oh, they are just so adorable!

Barnaby is having a hard time adjusting to NOT being the cutest one around here. If you are in his vicinity, this will be your view...He's making sure that he will not be forgotten.

Though I have some concern about our early summer here, isn’t it just gorgeous everywhere you look? Flowers, sunrises, sunsets, puffy clouds…vibrant color. I’m just going to enjoy it. Harvest is going to be as early as last year, which means we lose a couple of weeks of prep time – but we’ll get ‘er done – somehow!
The neighbor's corn is up.

The peonies are huge and loaded with blooms.

My weeping golden chain tree is the most beautiful I've ever seen it!

My Dutch Girl Greenhouse actually worked out pretty well. Time to get these plants in their pots!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Happy Mothers' Day, Imogene!!

We celebrated Mother’s Day in unusual fashion yesterday…and for a while, we thought we might be mourning instead!

When I fed the goats in the morning and did my regular check of Imogene, it was finally apparent that she had “lost her ligaments”. This is goat language meaning her body was ready to give birth. According to my sources, birth usually occurs within 24 hours.

So Imogene was under close scrutiny as the day wore on. Soon I saw signs of labor: pawing, getting up and down, lots of talking…But mostly it was a “watched pot” situation. It was taking a long time to boil.

When Randy decided it was time to go visit our moms and go get dinner, I went out to check on Imogene one more time. I was starting to think that she was not going to kid when she knew someone was watching. Some mommas just want to be alone.

However, a big string of mucus was evident, and that meant things would be happening in minutes!

Randy, Jess & I went out to observe, and be ready if assistance was needed. From all reports, that was unlikely, and I was counting on that. I had my birthing kit ready nonetheless. By the time Caitlin joined us, Imogene was working hard at pushing, and we were not seeing feet like we were supposed to…We saw a nose and no feet. I went in to see if the feet were caught, but they were not in evidence. This meant that baby was diving in a “Look, Ma, no hands!” position. If both legs were down and back, baby could still come out without intervention, and that’s what happened. But it took a lot of pushing.

Oh my! What a tiny little guy! I picked him up and set him by Imogene’s head and she went to work on him like the good momma she is. She was talking to him with very guttural grunts and nickers. I’ve never heard her make that kind of noise…baby talk!

It’s amazing how quickly these tiny little creatures start trying to get up! So wobbly, but determined, and looking all over momma for that golden spot where the food is. God has created such marvelous things!!

I knew from my research that we should be seeing another baby in 15-20 minutes, and that if we hadn’t by 40 minutes, we needed to intervene. Imogene had a break from contractions, but when they picked up again, she seemed to quickly be distracted by her now squeaking baby, and would give up pushing for tending him. Time was passing. Cait was conferring with Katrina (Imogene’s former owner, and my resident goat expert) and she was concerned as well. Finally, Imogene’s pushing yielded the water bag we expected, and a foot! This looked better!!

But as she strained and worked, and oh! it was the misery!, we didn’t see the nose we needed to see. I began to acknowledge that this was not going to be the easy birth we thought.  Maybe my first go at kidding was going to be a tough situation…Both Cait and I took turns going in and trying to figure out how the baby was positioned. We could find no nose, no other leg. For a little while I thought the baby was breech, but then we realized we had a front leg protruding. The head must be folded back, and the baby turned.

Cait said it first: “Mom, call the vet”, which I did immediately. Ten minutes later, I was telling him what was happening, and he asked us to bring her into the clinic, in case a caesarian was needed.

Oh, boy…

We loaded Imogene and her baby into the crate and headed in, arriving at the same time as Dr. Sauter. Katrina and Sammi, her daughter, joined us in minutes as well. They took care of baby, making sure he kept warm, while Randy and I held Imogene in place while the doc gave her some pain medication, and went in to right the situation.

It was a pretty horrible 20 minutes for Imogene, and I repented many times for wanting goat babies at this cost to her! I was afraid she would drop dead on the spot! Dr. Sauter found that we had rightly recognized the situation. Baby #2 was head back, body turned and would never have come out without assistance. When he was delivered, Dr. Sauter handed him to Katrina who swung him to clear the mucus, and exclaimed, “Hey! He’s alive!” I couldn’t believe it! I figured that after such a long delivery, we would lose that baby.

Dr. Sauter said that the next baby was positioned in the same way, and also needed to be repositioned and pulled out. More misery for Imogene, and she was also upset because she wants to take care of her babies! Baby #3 is extracted, and is also alive! A girl!
At this point, Dr. Sauter, who is sitting on the floor, looks up at Randy and I, who are standing to wrangle Imogene into a somewhat stable position, and says, “There’s another one in there…” I shrieked, “WHAT?” (Poor doc!) I honestly didn’t know that they could have more than 3 babies. Dr. Sauter said that he had not dealt with a quad birth before. Four at once is uncommon!

Baby #4 was in the head back position, and also had to be extracted. But once again, he was fine. Each of us were holding a slimy little baby, drying them off and then getting them to momma, who was feeling much better, and anxious to do her job.

They were all doing so well after the ordeal! In short order, they were adorably stumbling around their mom, trying to eat.  Three bucklings, and one doeling…all with great markings. Dr. Sauter gave Imogene some antibiotics, and some pain meds so she could rest comfortably through the night.

Forty-five minutes after we arrived at the clinic, we headed home with Imogene and baby in the crate, and the other three on our laps. (I thought I might have to frisk Sammi and make sure she didn’t sneak one home. ;) )

Everyone settled in nicely last night, and when I checked on them at 3 am, they were snuggled under the heat lamp. Imogene was chewing her cud, and all was right with the world.

I’m thankful we all survived a difficult birth (yes - even me! It was high stress!). Cait was right about making the call…I should have listened to her a little earlier. As we were driving to the clinic, I was thinking NEVER AGAIN, but once all was righted, and everyone was fine, I actually felt my confidence grow. We handled a difficult situation with the best result you could hope for. I’ve learned much about how to recognize a problem, and how quickly to act. I am so grateful for Dr. Sauter’s help and expertise. He came to our rescue on a Sunday evening and in timely fashion for our emergency.

AND now we have FOUR little babies to enjoy. Randy christened them Eenie, Meenie, Minie and Mo for now, but I think we'll put a little more effort into their names. They are hilariously cute, and already are showing the goat mannerism and habits of adult goats – but in such miniature size! And it’s also sweet to see Imogene mother them. She just knows how…

Such a wonder, how it all works together…God is an AMAZING designer!!

This is a Mothers’ Day that I will remember for a long time!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

As promised, Therapy Thursday...

I don’t know why I began to name the Days of the Week, and live by those names…It just happened, but I have ended up liking it as it gives me some guidance on how to put my time to good use. Although, being the random thinker that I am, there are a lot of exceptions to the schedule. Still, it’s an improvement as my former schedule seemed to be all exceptions.

…Except for Therapy Thursday. Insofar as it is within my power, I don’t make an exception for Therapy Thursday.

Originally when I was coming up with Weekday names, I struggled with Thursday. There’s not a lot of applicable adjectives for appropriate alliteration. Thoughtful Thursday – nope, there is more to Thursday than that. Thankful Thursday – nope, I needed something more active. And after that, there’s just not much for TH words out there! Thursday used to be my cleaning day so I would have the house ready for the weekend, and Friday free for fun. I finally settled on Thespian Thursday, because it was the day I had to act like I liked cleaning.

Lame, I know.

And then I started volunteering at the Lynden Pioneer Museum. I love history, and I think it is important. I want to support the preservation of the facts and memories that made our town what it is today. The wonder of history is that many individuals, going about their ordinary lives end up creating extraordinary foundations that the rest of us live on, where we can add our own layer. We can gain so much wisdom from knowing what has come before.


So anyway, I became a docent for the museum, and filled in occasionally…until I enjoyed it so much that I was there every other week. I love the museum, and met so many interesting people amongst the docents, and the guests. Tami, the volunteer coordinator made me feel so welcome, and since I had known her from school days, it was fun to catch up and get to know each other.

Then one fateful day, another schoolmate stopped in to shop. We encouraged Marjean to spend some of her free time with us at the museum. Tami scheduled her to join me on a Thursday morning, and within a couple of months, we were the regular Thursday morning docent team.

I think you could accurately categorize my relationships with Tami and Marjean as acquaintances when this all began, but over the course of seeing each other every Thursday morning, we have had ample opportunity to share our lives. And it has been a great blessing! We laugh a lot; we commiserate; we brainstorm; we listen; we advise; we share ideas for homemaking, celebrations and projects; we ask what’s for dinner; we consider the state of the world today. This all happens sporadically, in the context of interruptions from other volunteers, guests, and the ever-entertaining museum director, Troy, who provides historical information, often in burlesque style. It’s historical hysterical. The icing on this cake is that it occurs in the physical setting of a GIFT SHOP…and we are always the first to see the new merchandise! Could there be anything more perfect? I think not!

I thought we were helping out the museum – but it is clear that we have been helped much more! One day, we started calling it Therapy Thursday -- and I mean that with all my heart! Tami and Marjean have been special gifts to my life, and treasured friends. The only thing that linked us originally was the museum…the rest of our lives don’t intersect much, with friends or family…and I think that is part of the magic. We have different experiences that bring different perspectives. I’ve gained so much from these whole-hearted, good-hearted women!

I think sometimes we try so hard to machinate therapeutic relationships that we miss how God can use circumstances to provide. Look around, dear readers, you may find unexpected treasure in everyday situations.

And I hope you do.

In a few weeks, Therapy Thursdays will have to find a new mechanism as Tami retires from the museum. Therapy Thursdays will live on, because we love them, and we need them. We just aren’t sure yet what they will look like.

But we can’t change the day…because that will mess up my whole life.

See? I do need therapy.

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (