August 2011


S and I have been talking a lot lately about several issues, and what we could do to solve them.  These issues jump all over the place, so bear with me.  I do have a point. 

  • One was little N’s CP.  He is doing fine, but it is always a concern on the back of my mind–ensuring he uses both sides of his body equally, making sure all his muscles stay loose and stretched out. 
  • Another is A, who tends to be very off-balance and clumsy.  The poor guy has mishaps daily that usually result in injury.  He hardly even cries any more because it happens so frequently. 
  • Another, totally unrelated, but possibly more pressing, issue is that the coyotes and fox are really moving in around here.  We haven’t had any problems yet, but I am well aware that chicken happens to be a favorite dinner for fox, and coyotes are often pretty keen on unguarded goats (especially little goat babies).  With winter approaching, I have been getting increasingly nervous about how our animals would fare once the wild food supply dwindled in the coming snows. 
  • In addition to the safety issues, I have been having a big problem with wasted hay.  The goats tend to enjoy browsing through and eating the leaves, but not the stems of our hay.  This is really good, horse-quality hay (meaning a bit pricey!), so waste is a big deal. 
  • Another issue is that our weekly one-on-one dates with the older kids have dwindled a bit since we have moved out here.  We live so far from everything that it just isn’t very economical to use the gas to drive into town if we don’t have to.  We have also been trying to save money, which has meant no more horse-back rides with them.  M, in particular has really been asking, obviously missing that time alone, riding trails with Mom. 

Well, all I can say is I think God has provided the solution to all those, and more–and in a completely unexpected, unplanned way!  Meet our newest addition, as of Monday evening:

I was on Craigslist the other night (often the case since we are always looking for inexpensive farm supplies), and came across a rescue looking to quickly re-home some donkeys.  I knew S would never go for it, but for whatever reason, I half-heartedly brought it to his attention anyway.  We were both well aware of the multi-purpose potential posessed by donkeys. 

You see, donkeys have a God-given instinctual hatred of the canine species.  In many domestic donkeys, however, this instinct has been somewhat bred and/or trained out of them, or they are too small.  So, using a donkey as a guard animal is somewhat hit-or-miss.  Certainly livestock guardian dogs are better, but we prefer to wait until we get to the farm to get one of those.  Anyway, if you are lucky enough to find one that is gentle and has the guarding instinct, then, like a horse, it can also be ridden, pull carts and loads, and they are intelligent enough to teach all sorts of tricks.  To top it off, unlike horses who tend to be very flighty when spooked, a donkey is more likely to just freeze up and think about the situation a bit before reacting.  This makes them very good mounts for young children.

So, I found this ad, mentioned it to S, we discussed the opportunities it could provide, and he actually agreed that I should at least call and check on the situation.  We knew most rescue organizations require all sorts of strings-attached agreements, which don’t interest us.  I also knew that any donkey over about $100 would be a no-go at the present time, and that was highly unlikely.  Nonetheless, with the odds stacked against us, I called.  The lady asked a few questions about my horse-related experiences, which I answered, and I honestly told her what I was looking for.  She then explained that one of the donkeys, an almost-4 year-old jenny (female), was larger than average, hated dogs with a passion, was very sweet natured, and loved kids!  In fact, over the weekend, they had taken her to the county fair just for some socialization, and she spent several days being loved on by children, and being exposed to all sorts of sights and sounds.  Concerned about how she would act around my goats (some donkeys will chase, play rough, and/or hurt goats), the lady explained that she had been housed with goats and chickens all summer.  She sounded perfect.  Then the lady said there was just one big problem…there was a good chance she was 3-4 months pregnant!  (of course, I’m thinking, “THAT is NOT a problem!  HOW COOL would that be?!)  So, I finally said, “OK, let’s talk price.”  She then said, to my utter surprise, “if you will take her, you can HAVE her.  I’ll even deliver tomorrow, when I pick her up from the fair.”  There were no strings attached, except the request that we provide a loving home.  HOLY SMOKES!  You can imagine my surprise.  So, I tried to stay calm. Anyone who knows me knows my life-long passion for horses, and I was within 24 hours of having a cousin to the horse, anyway.  I told her I had to talk it over with my husband, as he had the final say, and hung up.  S was totally game to give it a try! 

This evening, we confined the kids indoors, didn’t tell them what was going on (though we told them we had something special for them), and when the trailer arrived, I went out to give the donkey a once-over evaluation before committing.  Granted, it’s only been a few hours, but I don’t think this situation could be more perfect!  When they unloaded the donkey, I was once again thrilled that we weren’t dealing with a little mini, rather, she is a good 11-12 hands tall!  That means I could actually ride her enough to get her well trained for the kids to ride.  She was also a total sweetheart.  We introduced the kids, who I think are still in shock (BTW, Mom, M acted just like I did with Sonshine, exclaiming, “That’s the surprise?  That’s just a donkey.”  Of course, I couldn’t get her away from it later.) 

So, we are now the proud owners of a donkey.  We are going to take our first school break of the year tomorrow and spend some time working with her.  Great as she is, she is a typical rescue with few manners and little training.  I love having a clean slate to work with though.  I am just amazed at God’s handiwork though.  I mean, seriously, what are the chances of everything working out this way?  Just 2 days ago, we had all the above issues we were somewhat concerned about, and through one classified ad and a phone call, God provided a donkey that could guard our goats and chickens, that was large enough and old enough to ride, that loved children, that could provide hippo-therapy for A and N’s physical issues, that could provide a way for M and I to once again have our one-on-one horse riding time, that could thrive on the “waste” hay the goats don’t eat, and who knows how much more is in store?!  I even just “happened” to bring all my horse stuff back from Red Gate on our last trip, so I have all the necessities.  The only items I need to find are a few pony-sized items for riding.

Thank you, God, for your provisions, and thank you, Honey, for allowing it to happen!

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Oh, my goodness, what a couple of weeks we have had.  I was stuck posting quick photo clips just so you would know I was still around.  Things have been hectic, but all in a good way!   I will update you in the next few posts, as there as been so much going on! 

First up, an update on R…

R is doing wonderfully!  She is now 7 months old, and all that fresh goat’s milk is working wonders on her.  Her pediatrician is amazed by her, and thrilled that we are taking a more natural, organic approach.  She is almost 20 pounds, and already wearing 9-12 month clothes, and is just as cute and cuddly as can be.   Check out those fat rolls! 

She is also starting to darken up a little bit.  She is technically biracial (1/4 AA, 3/4 CA), so the color is finally showing up a bit on her hands and feet, and the rest of her body is taking on something of a tanned look.  Her hair is still very fine and causcasion-like (A’s had already turned courser by this age), but it is starting to show lots of curls.  She started crawling this week, so life will only get more hectic now, I fear.  She isn’t quite sitting up yet, but I suspect that has more to do with the fact that she can’s sit still long enough.  She just wants to go, go, go.  She will periodically take a few-second break from her crawling and busy-body antics and position herself into a leaning, half-sit type thing, then it’s off to the races again!  It only took her about a day to find my canning jars on the low kitchen shelf, and Will’s water bowl.  Now I am working on trying to teach her to stay out of the kitchen.  Here is a video of her crawling. (I should warn you we were in the middle of our evening family worship, but she was so cute on her still-wobbly arms, I couldn’t resist grabbing the camera!)

http://youtu.be/vSA20knZC0o

We just got word today that we FINALLY have a court appointment to finalize her adoption.  It’s not for another month, but we are absolutely thrilled they finally made space for us!  The journey to having her as our daughter is almost over, and the end is in sight.  By this time next month, we will finally be a family of 7 legally as well as physically!

 

 

I generally hide the fact well, but truthfully, I have roots planted deep in Redneck-ville.  So, I can totally appreciate a situation such as follows (btw, I have no idea where this originated, but it wound up in my e-mail box):

Instructions for Red Neck Camping:

First, most of the time is spent on the front porch whittling down a MASSIVE solid pine 4×4  to fit precisely down into the hole in the ball mount receiver.  Second, add a piece the 14’x14′ piece of 3/8′ plywood to the underside of the tailgate to distribute the load more evenly and beef up that tailgate support.

Third, add some super heavy-duty chain for extra support on the tailgate, (note the ‘Heavy-Duty ‘S’ hooks to attach the chain) .

Fourth, go ahead and invest in some BIG Number 5/16 sheet metal screws to attach the hitch frame to the tailgate (see ’em there?  one on each side…) .  Consider two more through the carpet into the floor pan inside…. Yep, probably overkill, but don’t want the possibility of having an accident, ya’ know!

Fifth, air up the rear tires a bit (’bout 160 psi). 

Finally, hook that baby up! 

All hooked up and ready to roll!  Amazing how that extra weight smooths out the ride! 

Anyone care to join this fellow for a little camping trip?   The ride alone will be lots of fun….just look at the backdrop of mountains he gets to cross through, pulling that rig! 

 

 

 

Attention all my readers with older homeschool students:

God has laid a burden on our hearts to complete a project.  While it is a specific project, the details are still coming together at this point.  That being said, we need your teen-age-ish homeschooler’s help!  This project will be very beneficial to your student, as they will be able to practice researching, writing essays, thinking for themselves, and forming an educated opinion, in addition to learning about the topics assigned, in turn, helping educate our society as a whole, and preparing the next generation with knowledge of our history and government they may not receive otherwise (at least, not to this extent).  I am truly excited to begin working on this calling, and pray that God can use it to fulfill His will.  If you/they would be interested in participating in a real-life, history/political science research project, please let me know.  Be sure to include your preferred e-mail in your comment (I will delete it before posting the comment).  I will send you all the info.  Thanks so much!!

S has been having some parking and traffic flow issues near where he works.  The office in charge decided to take care of it and hired some non-English-speaking contractors to do something about it.  This was the result:

 It’s tiny, but notice which way the arrow points, then notice the “one-way arrow” sign on the column. 

After quite a bit of hassle to get someone to straighten the mess out, S received an e-mail that everything had been taken care of.  The next morning, this is what they found:

Looks like there is going to be a little more hassling required to get things sorted out!

For science this homeschool year, we are using Apologia’s Young Explorer Series.  This semester, we are studying the Anatomy book.  I have to tell you, I LOVE this book!  I LOVE the way it relates everything (so far) to God and Biblical creation.  I LOVE the way it goes right along with everything we are trying to teach our children about how the world and humans came to be.  I also love the way it brings everything we learn to life.  There are a number of hands-on, simple experiments in each lesson, and a big project at the end.  We are only on lesson 1 so far (a single lesson is designed to last 1-2 weeks, depending on how you break it up).  I did notice that, because it is written to be used with grades K-6, my younger children tire quickly of the lengthy reading passages.  I have found if I skip around a bit, discuss the important topics on their level, and then move into the experiment, they seem to retain it much better!  I figure we can always study it again in 3-4 years, and go word-for-word.  Flexibility is one of the keys to homeschooling, right?!

Anyway, Lesson 1 ended with an in-depth discussion of cellular structure.  First, we got to break open an egg to look at one of the largest “cells” known.  Then, we had to build a cell out of jello and candy.

Each child got a bowl of jello mixture and a selection of candies, each intended to represent a different cellular function.

As we discussed each part of the cell, the kids took that particular candy and carefully inserted into their bowl of jello.

The jello, of course represented the cell membrane and the jelly-like cytoplasm.  Red Mike & Ike’s represented the mighty mitochondria “power plants.”  Green and Orange Mike & Ike’s represented the lysosome “policemen.”  Then we had one color Nerds serving as the Golgi Body “grocers” and another color nerds serving as ribsomes. 

We used Twizzler Pull and Peels as the endoplasmic reticulum “delivery boys” and cake sprinkles as centriole “mothers of the city” (they assist the cell in dividing/reproducing). Finally, we had Riesen chocolate carmels that served as the nucleus (the chocolate was the nuclear membrane, while the carmel was the interior RNA and DNA).  At last, their cells were complete!

The only rule I had was that they had to wait until Daddy got home and explain their cells to him BEFORE they were allowed to eat them.  Of course, by the time S got home from work, they had pretty much forgotten all the scientific names.  Then, since they aren’t used to lots of sugar and artificial flavors, they were only able to eat a few bites each before throwing the rest out (I assure you, I didn’t mind that one bit, as I can only imagine the dental bills it will save me later!)

This afternoon, however, while I was doing some chores, I overheard the kids playing.  Each child had aquired a box large enough for 1 child to sit in, and they were pretending to be “Golgi Body” and “Lysocomes” scattered around the basement, transporting needed supplies to the body.  I guess they learned something, anyway!  

I love when homeschooling is fun, and I get to see that shine in my childrens’ eyes as they ENJOY what they are learning, and even get excited about it.  It’s one of the biggest keys to keeping this homeschool mom going on those tougher days, because I can always remember that joy.  I am so thankful God led us down this path!

I needed to get some good pics of my adult goats for several different reasons, so this afternoon was spent cleaning them up a bit.  M helped with the bathing and grooming, and JR was my photo helper (meaning they aren’t perfect).  Despite the lack of professionalism, though, I must say, I am very impressed for a couple hours of work! 

Stallion before:

Stallion after:

Lilac before:

Lilac after:

Sara before:

Sara after:

Sara is the one I am most impressed by.  I actually didn’t even get to bathe her.  I have noticed her long, course hair has gradually been being replaced by shorter, finer, shinier, healthy-looking hair–to the point she was almost looking patchy in areas.  Finally today, I decided to clip the old, rough stuff off.  I gave her a full-body clip to see what was underneath, and I must say I was thrilled to discover that, although she is a lean goat by conformation, she was not nearly as thin as a I thought, and I think she looks great!  I think she may just turn out to be a fine dairy doe yet!

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