Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting.

We're in Dothan, AL waiting for Grandma to undergo a colonoscopy and an EGD (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy or upper endoscopy) procedure. She's been suffering from a mysterious gastrointestinal malady for the last 2-3 months that the doctors haven't exactly been able to determine the cause of yet. Hopefully, after today we'll know what exactly is going on. 



One thing I do know for sure. . . She was not happy about the 4 liters of prep solution that you have to drink the night before to prepare for the colonoscopy. We're of the same mind there - that stuff did not look or sound at all appetizing. 

Edited to Add (on April 11, 1014): Both procedures went fine. Her doctor (Dr. Ashwani Kapoor, who is a fantastic gastroenterologist) took a biopsy of a spot in her duodenum, as well as, several biopsies in other parts of the intestinal tract. He also found some diverticulita in her colon during the procedures. She will be having a CT scan next week, and hopefully we will know more after that. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Togetherness.

Dante and Dempsey (who turned 12 weeks old last week) went to their new home on Saturday. Together.

Playtime!
Which, without a doubt, is the perfect outcome. If Dempsey had had to go by himself (or even stayed here), he would have desperately missed his half-sister and let everyone in the vicinity know it.

Instead, they're together in their new home with children to entertain and love. We certainly miss them, but I'm glad they've found such a wonderful family to call their own.

As for us, our bottle baby days may not be over just yet. Sometime this week, we may be taking a little visit to another goat owner to check out their Nubian kids and maybe, just maybe, we might come home with one. Or two.

I'll be sure to blog about if we do!

Here we go a'sculling. . . .

In April (April 25th-27th, to be exact), we'll be selling our soaps, lotions, and various other things at the 39th Festival on the Rivers in Geneva, AL.


Now, let me tell you, I'm  very excited about this particular festival. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy doing all festivals and fairs and markets. Mostly because they entail a ton of talking about two of my favorite subjects: goats and soap making (and honestly, I can usually manage to work in one of my other favorite topics - chickens - at least once or twice or a couple hundred times). But I digress.

Back to why this festival is different from others. I had a little bit of a difficult time picking which festival we would attend this spring (there are several to choose from just in our local area that will be happening), but one look at the list of scheduled events cinched it for me:

Courtesy of the Festival on the Rivers.
Do you see the 11 o'clock event? Sculling? Which is just a fancy way of saying rowing, I guess.

Since this year is all about bucket lists and completing them for me, well, you got it! Watching a sculling race is one of mine! I think you can guess exactly where I will be at 11 o'clock that day :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Survival Guide - Guest Post by Arianna Knows Best

I'm so excited to be able to host a guest post today by Arianna from Arianna Knows Best (be sure to check out her wonderful blog)! 

She's put together a fantastic list of dos and don'ts to ensure we all enjoy Saint Patrick's Day to the fullest. So, don a little green (after all, we don't want to get pinched) and help me welcome her!




You Don't Need the Luck of the Irish to Survive St Patrick's Day!

My family might not be even a little bit Irish, but that doesn't stop us from having a great time on St. Patrick's Day!My kids are old enough now to allow for a full family outing to the St. Patrick's Day parade, so we want to make sure that it's a fun, family-friendly day. Last year was our first outing all together to the parade in Philadelphia, and we certainly learned a few tips that I'm happy to pass along to you so you don't have the same trial-and-error we had!

1. Must-Bring-Items
There are a number of things that you absolutely must bring with you, or fear the wrath of the parade! Bring an itinerary of the parade with you - know when it starts, and get there early! Especially with kids, you want to stand near the front so they can see everything (or else Dad's going to get some sore shoulders from lifting the kids onto them all day). Wear very, very comfortable shoes - last year I was proud of my Lady Leprechaun, and I had adorable pumps to match, but I nearly broke my ankle chasing after my kids. This year, I'm going with my gym shoes! This next tip may be a little grisly, but I would highly recommend bringing your own toilet, or at least extra tissues: the port-a-potties tend to get a little foul after first hour or so, and you don't want your kids coming in contact with that. Stock your purse with tissues and hand sanitizer for the family. This Lysol hand spray is a favorite - small but effective!

2. Take Care of Your Loved Ones - Not Just the People!
I can't stress this enough: make sure you have a plan to look after each other! The parade is a hectic place and losing a child can be one of the scariest things imaginable. Have a plan to meet up, such as "if we get separated, we'll meet at the McDonald's over there!" We're going this year with our next-door neighbors, so we have meeting points and a plan to split the parking fee, since we're all going in my SUV. And this tip applies to our furry friends, too: our golden lab becomes distressed by loud noises and antics, so we hired a dogsitter from DogVacay for the day to make sure he's well taken care of. 

3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Even though St Patrick's Day does not fall during an especially warm time of the year, make sure to brings lots of fluids! When you can find them, the stands at the parade are unbelievably expensive; I recommend bringing a small wagon or a rolling cooler stocked with lots of water, juice boxes, and soda for people to pull at throughout the parade. And this way, when the kids get tired and want to sit, they can just sit in the wagon - and what a cute picture to have a few tiny leprechauns napping in a wagon!

4. Take Care of Your Own Food - or Bring Cash!
Last year, I did not think to bring snacks for the kids, or us and after a few hours of watching a parade, everyone gets a little edgy from low blood sugar. And, as bad luck would have it, we didn't have any cash on use, without an ATM in sight, with a couple of hungry, grumpy, wailing kids. We are not going to make that mistake again this year! In our little wagon, we're also going to have a snack bag full of carrots and celery sticks, and Brenda, our next-door neighbor, and I are going to make about a dozen sandwiches to make sure none of us goes hungry. Also, I came across a handy ATM locator app to ensure we will be able to find one if need be! 

5. Be Festive!
Now above all, have fun! Let's break out the green, or people will pinch you. Get the kids excited by getting little leprechaun hats or four-leafed clover pins, and give them little bags of chocolate gold coins to snack on throughout the parade. Finally, our neighbors are going to come to our place after the parade, where we're going to have a nice traditional Irish meal: Brenda and I are going to make a big Irish stew, a bowl of steaming cabbage, and my husband makes a mean corned-beef hash. I also love to bake, so I'm going to make a big batch of cupcakes for us to wind down with after a day of parading. They'll be chocolate-and-mint cupcakes - got to keep up with the green! - With bourbon mixed into the icing for the adult batch and extra chocolate for the kids. 

With some planning, a splash of green, and a little luck of the Irish, you and your family can have a great time on St Patrick's Day!

Arianna is a full-time mom and a fashion-lover, world traveler, animal lover, and family woman extraordinaire. She loves to cook and bake, travel to new places, share great fashion finds, and spend time doing crafts and projects at home with her kids. She's got a crazy busy life, but she wouldn't have it any other way! Follow her blog at http://ariannaknowsbest.blogspot.com/!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Baby Blue

In other news, our lone Cream Legbar hen has started laying! Yess!!!


And no, those are not buzzards that have managed to sneak into our flock. They're the Naked Neck chicks (all grown up, that is, and laying eggs themselves) from this post last year.


Back to the Legbar girl - here are her first two eggs:


Aren't they so pretty and blue?

Sad News.

Sad news to report. . . . Grandma (one of our Pekin ducks and one of our oldest ducks) passed on to Rainbow Bridge on Thursday.

Grandma in the front and Grandpa in the background 
during one of their many jaunts to the pond.

It was something that I've been expecting for a while - when Grandma came to live with us a few years ago, she was already a waterfowl senior citizen.

We're all going to miss her, but no one more so than her companion, Grandpa.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Self Interview - Alabama Style

Alabama Women Bloggers is hosting a fantastic "Getting to know you" question and answer link up this month, and you just know I had to join in. So, here's a little bit about me.



1. What part of the state do you call home? 
I live in Elba, which is located in Coffee County deep in the southeastern portion of the state. Also called the Wiregrass area, Lower Alabama, the Peanut Capital of the World, and I'm sure a lot of other nicknames. 

2. How long have you been blogging? 
Since 2010, although I have taken a break from it for a few weeks at a time here and there. Everybody needs a break, right?

3. Why did you start blogging?
I used to be really big into writing. I wrote on any and everything. . . diaries, notebooks, computers, scraps of paper, basically anything I could get my hands on. But with helping my mother take care of my elderly grandfather, I sort of lost sight of that. After his death, I was honestly at a loss and at a low point (both of us were), so we started a farm and I began blogging about our journey. 

4. What do you love most about blogging? 
"Meeting" interesting people from all over the world, finding inspiration from other blogs, reading all of the fun comments left by readers, and generally the sense of community you feel in the blogging world. 

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 
I try not to think about 5 or especially not 10 years down the road. I mean, I just got over turning 30. . . I don't even want to think about 35. But I'll probably be exactly where I am, now. Hopefully with a little flusher bank account and maybe a trip around the world under my belt :)

6. What is your favorite movie? 
That's a hard question, I have way too many favorites (movie junkie here) from a lot of different genres. Here goes: Taken, Where The Heart Is, Love Actually, Austenland, About A Boy, The Help, Bridesmaids, Stalag 17, Gidget, Steel Magnolias, and Captain Phillips, to name a few.

7. If you could use any actress to play you in your life, who would you choose and why? 
Wow, another hard question. I honestly don't know, but maybe Katy Mixon from "Mike and Molly". She seems a little zany on there and I've always been told I am, too ;)

8. Name the top 5 things on your bucket list. 
Have a farm (think I can cross that one off now), travelling to London (this is something I'm really, really hoping to cross off this year *fingers crossed*), live abroad, own a horse, and travel some more (after London, maybe Ireland, Edinburgh, India, Tanzania, Russia, New Zealand, and a whole lotta other places).

9. Who or what inspired you to blog? 
I suppose that distinction would go to my grandfather. He inspired us to start the farm, which in turn inspired me to document it. 

10. If you could be known for one thing in your life, what would it be? 
Being kind. My mother is the kindest person that I know. If I could be even half that kind and compassionate, then I would be in good shape. 

11. Where is your favorite place to go on vacation? 
Honestly, it's been a long time since I've been on vacation. Way, way overdue for one. My favorite vacation spot used to be my grandparent's lakeside property in tiny Vernon, FL (the eccentric, one stop light town documented in the film Vernon, Florida), which is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Panama City Beach.  

12. Describe the best moment in your life. 
I'm single (and still searching for Prince Charming, unfortunately all I seem to find is Prince Not-So-Charming) and the only kids I have are of the goat persuasion, so the best moment of my life so far was the birth of my little cousin (first cousin once removed. . . pretty sure I got that right). He was born right before my 18th birthday and my mother and I raised him for the first few years of his life. Needless to say, he's always been like my son more than anything else. He's 12 years old now (oh my gosh, do I feel old or what?), but he'll always be my baby. 

13. We’re headed to your neck of the woods for one day. What is one thing we have to do, and what restaurant we must eat at? Barbecue is a big deal in SE Alabama, so that's a definite must. There are a lot of great places with menus that almost completely revolve around it here, but (and I'm breaking the rules a little here since it's not a restaurant) my favorite is a little food truck in Enterprise, AL. Their barbecue is the best. . . indescribably good. While we're there in Enterprise, checking out the Boll Weevil Monument is also a must. I mean, it's the only monument to an insect in the entire world. Pretty cool! Then, maybe just relaxing and enjoying the outdoors for the day. Honestly, there's not a whole lot to do around here.

14. What is a tradition you and your family have? 
It's our tradition to put up the Christmas tree a week before Thanksgiving (I know, we're complete early birds). Then, I wake up bright and early on Thanksgiving morning to begin cooking a huge meal. Later that day, we relax by taking in a movie, and then it's time to get our shop on and hit the stores for Black Friday. Another tradition that I love is our family reunions. My grandmother was one of 10 children, so our reunions are a lot of fun. 

15. We all love social media, share your links so we can follow you. 
Sure! Here they are:
Maiden Hill Farm on Facebook (this is our farm's facebook page, but I use it for the blog, too)
@MaidenHillFarm on Twitter (same goes for this one)
@maidenhillfarm on Instagram (and this one)
countrychickmhf on Pinterest
Google +
Youtube Page
Etsy Personal Page 

Monday, February 24, 2014

2014 Farm Goals.

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I know, I know, I'm really late getting this up. But better late than never, right? If you know me in real life, then you know that's one of my personal mantras So, I'm a procrastinator, but I come by it honest. It's totally in my genes - if only teachers during my schooldays would have taken that as an excuse. . .but alas they didn't. Darn it.

So, here we go, since I'm finally getting around to it, here are the farm goals for 2014, and there are some big ones on here. Huge. Also, a couple of repeats from last year (you can see 2013's goals here). . . hopefully old procrastinating me will actually get to them this year.

1) This is the big one. The Big Kahuna and Moondoggie all rolled in to one (have I mentioned that I was obsessed with 60s surfer movies growing up) and quite honestly a goal that I don't expect to reach this year or even the next one. But it's the most important one. . . . LAND.

That's right, I want land. Lots of land (I totally feel like Bing Crosby right now, singing, "Oh give me land, lots of land. . . ". Also, a big fan of 40s crooners (Yep, I was an interesting kid).

It's hard to believe, but we've outgrown our six acres. What used to seem like plenty of room to spread out and grow, is now creating problems. Don't get me wrong, I love this land. I picked this property out at 17 years old, my grandfather bought it, and dreamed of us all living on it together with a our own farm animal menagerie. Granddad has been gone for five years, but he did get to realize his dream of moving to the country with us by his side (along with a very cantankerous goose named Liza Jane, who also sadly passed a few years ago - although, if you ask Hunter, he's not sad about it.).

Back to the land issue. Our property consists of a narrow hilltop that stretches along one whole side, a (in certain places) fairly steep hillside, and of course, the flat land at the bottom of the hill. It's located on the outskirts of Elba, AL. Now, if you don't know anything about Elba (and let's face it, if you're not from here, you probably don't), it's official nickname is, "The City of Flowing Wells". Unofficial nickname, that would probably be "Flood Town". But I digress. Back to "The City of Flowing Wells." And it is.

There are thousands of natural springs throughout the area, and I've decided that at least half of them must be located on our land. Not good. Along with those springs and our hillside, comes ongoing major erosion issues.


This is the latest spring to make its self known. It's pouring from the newly caved in area pictured below.


The picture above was taken four days ago. It's stormed since then, and I think you can guess what's happened. It's much, much larger.

And if you're wondering, yep, I have my eye on three different properties that would be a dream come true. All with at least 100 acres (I'm practically salivating thinking about what we could do with that much land). Unfortunately, they're all well out of our budget. But I can still dream, can't I?

2) More fencing. Something that I've learned is always a necessity with farm animals of any type, and holds a permanent spot on all of our future Farm Goals lists.

3) Expand our garden more. This is an iffy one. Mostly because of my complete lack of a green thumb, but I'm getting there. Every year is an improvement. This year, along with the usual run-of-the-mill okra, peppers, tomatoes, corn, etc, there's also a little packet of kohlrabi seeds. Still not exactly sure what it is, but I can google it.

4) Add more fruit and citrus trees. Last year, we added pomegranate, limequat, banana, kiwifruit, another variety of satsuma, a new variety of fig, and two new blueberry bushes. This year has started off great with the addition of three different kinds of pecan trees (finally!). I also want to add more blueberries, a lime tree, and a white peach tree. Not to mention, I still really, really want an olive grove. One day.

5) Add new breeds and/or colors. This is a complete repeat of last year. I still want to add Cotton Patch Geese to our flock one day. They're a wonderful variety of geese that is currently listed Critical on the ALBC's Conservation Priority List. Plus, they're a breed that was developed in the South, and just like our Pilgrim geese, Rhodebars, and Legbars, they're auto sexed. And you know how much I love auto sexing breeds! Also on the list of future additions is a new color of peafowl and guinea fowl. And for my mom, Tolbunt Polish.

6) More registered goats. Last year we were excited about the addition of Sammy, our Miniature Nubian buckling. Then, we added Brownie (a standard-sized Nubian), and she had our two girls, Luna and Clara. You might say, I've gone Nubian crazy. That's in addition to regular old goat crazy and chicken crazy. They've become my favorite breed (whether they're full-sized or in miniature form) with their talkative, sweet personalities, and their milk is the best. I definitely want to add more registered Nubians to our herd. 

7) Bees. Yep, bees are still on the list. But I'll get to them one day. Eventually. As soon as I get over one pesky little problem. . . I'm a little scared of them.

8) A cow. Still on the lookout for the perfect dairy cow for us. Later on, (you know, when we have more land, that is) I also want to add a herd of beef cattle. Belted Galloways are at the top of our list, followed very closely by Scottish Highland cattle.  

9) Learn to make liquid goat milk soap. This one scares me a little bit because from what I've read it involves more calculations. Then again, cold process soap making was also a little scary before I tried it. 

Now, for a more personal goal. . . one that's not at all related to the farm, other than the fact that the animals would miss us. At least, I think they would. 

10) A vacation. It's been over a decade since I spent a night away from home at any place other than a hospital, and the same goes for my mother. So, I'm thinking a mother/daughter trip somewhere. How about London? Or Ireland? Maybe Edinburgh? Wherever we go, I think it's a fantastic and very long overdue addition to this list. One that I've already started saving for.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Oops.

I noticed something a week ago that rocked me to the very core of my foundation. Something that made me not only double check, but triple and quadruple check. And then stare in disbelief.


Dante is a girl.

I feel like the very opposite of an experienced crazy goat lady. The opposite of that (crazy, that is) would normally be good and something to aspire to, but in this case, I'd rather be the crazy goat lady who actually knows a male from a female.

And I do. Usually.

To be fair, the past few weeks have been a little distracting. Okay, a lot distracting. And Dante was born just as a bad storm was rolling in. I was in the midst of making sure the goats were where they were supposed to be and not sneaking into the maternity house (the unpregnant goats are a little envious of the pregnant girls' housing), so I only took a glance at his her undercarriage and I went with it. I guess, I'm so used to us having more boys than anything else that Dante just had to be one. At least, those are my excuses and I'm sticking to them ;)

And I have improved greatly over the years. By leaps and bounds, actually, and here's the proof: Many years ago, while attending my very first livestock auction, I just might have been overheard to say, "The goats with horns are boys." Of course, there were quite a few chuckles, rolled eyes, and shaken heads from the folks seated near us. Just to state the obvious and get it out of the way, horns or a lack thereof do not indicate gender in goats, and that's a lesson I learned the hard way. By the way, I've since heard much worse from others while attending auctions (and not all of it was from newbies) - the best entertainment at an auction is the overheard conversations. Very interesting stuff.

Now comes the hard question. . . keep the name Dante or change it? I wonder how she feels about Delphine. Or Dulcinea. Ooh, or what about Dahlia? We'll see.

In the meantime, I obviously need to read a biology book or two. Or ten.



Dante, by the way, is completely unconcerned. As long as she can bounce, she's happy.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's!

Happy Valentine's Day from The Country Chick and Maiden Hill Farm!


And from O Henry the cat, too! Of course. Definitely can't leave him out ;)