building a dream.

 this farm has been more work, more frustration, more blood, sweat and tears than a human would think they could take on. but it has been the most divinest & beautifulest of dreams realized at the exact same time.

as farmers in a small community, we learn from each other. we learn how to farm smart so we can enjoy more. this is why we love permaculture. it's less work. less money & a whole lot more fun... at least in theory.

tricks you'd only find in the backyard of another passionate farmer like putting goldfish in your troughs to prevent algae from taking over or putting big rocks in the bottom of the water dish that the ducklings drink from so we have no more unfortunate drownings or free choice baking soda in the goat barn to prevent urinary tract infections (my vet doesn't believe me...thinks it's bogus, but i swear by it!).

one kindred spirited farmer once passed on the most cherished piece of advice we've gotten so far, which he said he inherited from his mentor before him. "pick the breed you like the look of best, it makes it easier to feed in the dead of winter." pretty things are easier to take care of. beautiful things are what you take pride in. from our speckled easter eggs, to the smattering of our chicken flock to the sheen of our ducks, to our turkey fanfare & guinea fowl pin feather, to the eclectic coats of goats, to the colouring of our spotted pigs, the unfurled, wild manes of our mares & geldings. we like beautiful things. we love quality things. we know this often means heritage breeds that are difficult to find and grow much slower products than commercial breeds (even if they do overall create a much superior product). but it takes much time, commitment & vision to cultivate beautiful things.

we love what we're building for our family & for our lives. it is an absolutely unique story made of the colourful tapestry weaved out of colossal rookie mistakes & divine luck (and a lick & a promise)... and the horizon only amplifying the weight & measure of our original vision.

it's hard work. but beautiful work. the work of building a dream.

before the curse.

i was folding just one of the small baskets of laundry that had avalanched down the stairs from the mighty mountaintop of camping laundry that awaited me at the top of the stairs, when i had a thought.

there was absolutely no laundry before the curse. adam & eve were butt-naked. there wasn't a single matchless sock in the garden of eden. not a loincloth. no coconut bra in sight. nothing. which logically one would deduce that laundry then is absolutely either a result of the curse or the very curse itself. i believe the latter. ;)

my children love to be naked. it's a nice perk of not living in the city anymore that they can run free & wild & naked. i actually mandated their partial nudity after i found them soaked up to their necks in pond muck while wearing their very expensive school uniforms. i said, no more clothes! only undies shall be sacrificed to the pond yuck. and a small nudist colony has emerged as a result.

after a subsequent conversation with kai, while explaining the societal expectation to remain fully clothed while in public,  he asked me if we would have to wear clothes in heaven. and i thought, i have no idea but i will find out!

and then, in my wanderings to answer such an awesome question, i found this gem...

" eve's curse: in relation to her husband, her "desire will be to" him, an unusual hebrewism that means an ambition to control, manipulate and possess someone (in it's occurrence in genesis 4:7). this is having led her husband into sin, she must now live with a continuing urge to subordinate him to her wish and will. his reaction will be not only to resist this takeover but to use his greater strength to rule her. male domination is the inevitable result of this struggle for supremacy of wills. in genesis 3:16 lies the real explanation for the centuries of exploitation and suppression of women, against which feminism is validly protesting. 
incidentally, it also means that a husband that is hen-pecked has chosen to capitulate, usually for the sake of domestic peace. the advent of rule to describe marriage was not the introduction of subordination but the exaggeration of it (in much the same way as pain in childbearing was increased). responsibility for direction in the male became reaction into domination. the male-directed garden is now a male-dominated jungle. each sex sees the other as an object (rather than a subject) to serve its own purposes. 
this situation can be remedied only by Divine grace, by redemption rather than by legislation or revolution. God's strategy is to plant on earth a community of men and women who live as adam and eve did, in his creational order (except for nudity, which will never reoccur, even in heaven)." 
~ david pawson

wow. both kai & i were a little disappointed about the last line of that one. but the beginning & middle, magnificent. i feel like my whole life, society & culture has been illuminated, dissected & explained to me. how incredible is God's plan for redeeming marriage... not sure what His plan is for redeeming laundry but i'm sure He has one. He redeems all things. ;)

p.s. i eased kai's disappointment by reassuring him that although he may not be naked in heaven, he could likely ride a shark while eating chocolate chips well past bedtime instead ;) we conclusively decided that a bathing suit might be a good idea anyways whence riding a shark on the riptides of heaven with a handful of chocolate chips. a little less squeaky, squeaky. ;)

p.s.s. this must be the most random blog post you've ever read. they are but the desperate ramblings of a procrastinating woman about to take the plunge into a neck high laundry swamp for an 18 hour shift of folding. and they were naked no more...


guardian dog & guardian gates

indiana joan is our new livestock guardian. i guess, more like potential livestock guardian as she is only six-weeks old. that might seem a little young to be leaving mama yet, but that's what is typically suggested for working dogs to bond with their protectorate.

her upbringing will be so very different than any other dogs we've own before. she is a working dog.  her primary purpose is to fiercely guard both the property, our family & all of our livestock ranging from the tiniest chick to our two-thousand pound horse.  she is nocturnal and will take down anything from a rat to a bear to a person with bad intentions. as such we have to treat her differently right from the start. she never comes into the house & will never leave the property. she is not my running partner & will not be joining us on long horse back rides. we have to teach her where home is and what the boundaries look like so we don't encourage wandering but rather a very loyal homebody. from day one, she sleeps out with the livestock not her friends. any posturing, pestering or playing with us or the livestock is strictly discouraged. she is to ignore the livestock completely. she can never become too over familiar with what she is protecting, or she will end up killing it.

as i have been studying this new world of bringing up a world class guardian, it has got me thinking about my guardianship. little things that i have let within my boundaries. postured and played with negativity & selfish indulgence, gotten way too familiar with complaining and bitter diatribes. i've let little mice & seemingly small vermin scamper in, simply because no alarm was raised about them being in my garden. maybe because those little rascals have burrowed deep down into lots of gardens & didn't seem that out of place. in fact, they're commonplace & they've opened the gate to bigger uglier pretators without me even noticing.

in order to be a good guardian, indie has to know what belongs to us & what does not. what she's responsible for & what animals are intruders. she primarily learns this by exposure to what belongs to the farm, the spirit & the smell of it. she has to know what she's for, before she can know what she's against.

i know i have fought hard for my revelation of faith & confession but i suddenly find myself having become too over familiar with such prize processions, not valued their guardian qualities as i should have. gotten lazy about my borders and my mouth has become like an unguarded, overflowing gate. and i can feel it. after a not so uplifting conversation or after i've allowed my mind to wander negatively into something, i feel all slimy. like i was promised one thing & then was robbed when i wasn't looking. all those negative thoughts, promising to make me feel better. promising justice & then stealing my peace. my faith. my joy.

big paws to grow into
i want to take my guardianship seriously. know my gates & borders well. not leaving my post or becoming relaxed no matter the context. no sleeping on the job. for i'm sure we all know how hard we've fought for the gems we now hold and not worth sacrificing to old-run-of-the-mill apathy of in the time of peace.

indie's paws are huge even though she is currently quite small. but she will grow into them & her working role & so will i.      


the gospel mean and wild.

"it is by warfare the soul makes progress." 
{abba john the dwarf}

"it is the essence of the sin of the garden to re-imagine God as the mythical tolerant god." 
{dean waldt}

the more my kids develop as individuals, the less useful i find gospel presentation. those cute little Bible board books & flannel graphs, although have their place, have become increasingly limited in their redeeming power as my kids age. more and more i find my fingers scrambling for tools of gospel application. time for them to meet the real person. the real power and truth. Jesus.

"it is a spiritual gift from God for man to perceive his sin."
{st. isaac of syria}

with a constant tornado of evolving carnality needing to be diffused, i find myself ill equipped in really digging to the eye of the storm or the root of the problem. they were born in a clump. and their issues seem to clump and interweave and feed each other so you don't know when one ends and the other starts. sibling grappling, truth spinning, boisterously brilliant self-expression, they keep me on my toes. instead of the clear communication of "no" to their brother, they catapult their message from the banisher high dive landing their feelings in a graceful bellyflop on top of their unsuspecting sibling. instead of coming clean right away with the truth that they had indeed pinched their sister's bottom to get a reaction, they spin an elaborate story about how their fingers, possessed with injustice, took it upon themselves to sheriff the situation and how they really had no control at all in making them stop.  they have creatively re-invented discipline into discipleship for me. taken the words punishment & penalty from me and inserted equipping but costly consequential life, learning. i am not raising mindless lemmings and my goal is not obedience.  it's to know Jesus. uncut, unedited and in full. Jesus redeemer & rule breaker. Jesus, the untamable God.  

" on the whole, i do not find christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. does anyone have the foggiest idea of what sort of power we so blithely invoke? or, as i suspect, does no one believe a word of it?" 
{anne dillard}

"woe to the person who smoothly, flirtatiously, commandingly, convincingly preaches some soft, sweet something which is supposed to be christianity!"
 {soren kierkegaard}

i don't just want to keep my kids in line or keep them from making mistakes & spilling milk. kid's are professional mistake makers and this is how they learn. i want to be more about the motivation and less about the don'ts. more about that complicated but tremendous muscle, the heart. less about the surface observation of improper behaviour. but this is a tall, tall task, one with no match to it's intensity. until i realized, Jesus is not some passive meek person. He was kind and good but He was also dangerous & unpredictable. our christian culture has emasculated Him. watered Him down to some trickling brook not the earth trembling, tsunami that He is.

"at first i thought, it's ok. nothing bad is going to happen. a few seconds later the wave hit the road, and i thought, now i die." 
{tiina seppanen, tsunami survivor}

maybe it is just the beginning of summer transition. maybe it is just their combined ages, i'll never know.  but i have found myself upping the anti around here. instead of a sweet, sensible talk about lying being unkind, i find myself intensely describing that lying is like playing for the other team. satan's team. it's dressing in clothes that are not God's and it's helping the other team score a goal. so which jersey are you going to wear, which team are you playing for? or instead of a repeated discussion about the choices we have been making, the story of one of the wilkins' infamous uncles who could not abide within the parameters of the reasonable law & always had to have it his way, and decided he just did not want to get along with anybody and he now spends his days a small cage called prison, with no friends or fellowship, gross food and no choices left to make because they had all been taken away from him. do you want to follow him? and when i look into their saucer-sized eyes, i can see it. i can see the gospel being worked into their consciousness & growing into conviction. and although this may seem a bit much to an outsider looking in, it is the yeast getting worked into the dough. it is the kingdom becoming beautiful revelation to them.

"we are fonder of consolations than we are the cross."
 {teresa of avila}

and sometimes the kingdom does come with the whisper of a prayer or the cuddle of comforting psalm but sometimes it also comes with a crashing confronting force. you cannot have one without the other. He is not a cuddly, soft blanket anymore than He is a raging wild fire here to consume it all. He is equipping just as much as He is demanding. He is more than our fluffy board books. more than our sing-songs. more than we can imagine. and i don't want to forget that, as parent or as their sister in Christ, who is only two tiny steps ahead of them on this journey of sanctification.

this is the beginning of the good news of Jesus.
this is the gospel mean and wild.


the blind will see, the lost is found {part 3}

it is true that everything always looks better in the morning. especially once one realizes they haven't permanently lost their sight. God took pity on me and the blister had disappeared but so had the goat. for good it seemed.

not a footprint. not a broken branch. no indication of where she had roamed off to, steve canvased the neighbourhood by four-wheeler. all. day. long. one neighbourly farmer, in particular snickering at my dedicated husband's perseverance.
"she's gone for good i tell ya! she's dead! there's no way she made it through the night!" he taunted only to be followed up a few hours later by an inquisitive text asking if we had found her yet.

and then we got our lucky break. as dusk was quickly settling on the open miles upon miles of back fields, steve's eye caught sight of that sorry goat's rump foraging in the far back corner of a corn field, on the very edge of a trepadacious wilderness. we flew at his beckon to help corral her. he had her backed against an old cedar rail fence that separated the farmer's field from the deep & impending ravine. thickets of fierce shrubbery & prickly vines swelled & swayed against the fence, surely discouraging anyone's passage through. i silently climbed the fence further down, parting the wilderness with my hands, to block the back way out just as insurance to her capture.

mom & steve slowly inched towards the now shaking fugitive, talking sweetly so as not to alarm her. we had found her, we all smiled. we could see her with our very eyes and were inches from touching her. suddenly, she took flight over the fence & the thick shrubbery swallowed her up as she came crashing through other side of the bush towards me. i fought hard to swim through the raspberry thicket that entrapped me, missing her completely as she bounded down the ravine, cannonballing into a swamp ditch with a enormous splash.

my heart now thudding in my chest, i knew i could trap her in there. the ravine turned into more of a deep, steep ditch that streamed slowly out to the main road. i could hear steve now position the car on the road waiting for the moment she would emerge if i could push her forward. the steep banks and bramble hid my hovering presence as i followed the wet jingle of her bell closer and closer to the road until i tripped on a rock and fell with a thud and she stopped dead. i had given myself away. i cautiously peaked over the bank and she looked straight at me and i knew in that very moment i was going to have to pull off that move from swiss family robinson where they wrestle the snake in the river. i poised and catapulted my body hard over the bank, belly flopping flat out in green swamp just inches from that dreadful goat. i scrambled and she scrambled up the other bank, getting snagged & cut by every kind of branch and bramble imaginable. she momentarily snagged her collar on a low hanging cedar and i desperately clawed through the mud & vines, grabbing her by her back leg just as she cut herself free from the cedar and bounded over the fence and far away, her bell angrily jingling all the way off into the maze of corn fields. it was dark now and the mosquitos were thick and swarming. i dared open my mouth, although my legs had become an open feasting ground. wild celery stalks grew taller than my head, flapping in my face as i scampered fast enough to not lose the sound of that bell. i tried not to think of the consequences.

i ran hard and fast, starting to panic that i was alone now in the deep darkness and wouldn't be able to find my way back until i stumbled into the neighbours cow field. their three teenage sons had now joined the search party with their four-wheelers ripping it up which rightfully frightened the cattle who would stampede from one end of the field to the other without warning. i felt like i was living some impossible video game, except without the superpowers. soon i had lost the sound of her bell and i felt sick to my stomach again at the thought that our farmer friend might be right.

just as i was losing hope, i stumbled across a fresh trail where the wet dewyness of the grass had clearly been disturbed. all those episodes of mantracker came fresh to my memory. i followed the trail sprinting with renewed spirit, zig zagging this way and that. i was so focussed on following the trail that i forgot to look up and ran straight into the butt end of the most enormous, very white tailed deer. the deer bounced off indignitly and i, in complete & utter shock, clutched my chest and fell to the ground crying uncontrollably, letting the mosquitos have their way.

nothing but the sound of coyote howls, calling for her, filled the moon-lit cold air.
we were never going to find her and i knew it. i briefly weighed up the horrid pros and cons of shooting her. and decided against it. and picked myself up off the ground and started to make my long trek back.

as irate as i was at that goat, the nothingness of having lost something so beautiful and so treasured filled my chest with tightness. i would never have another like her. and the fear in her brown bulging eyes bothered me. i had chased her right into the wild wilderness that would take her life & i would never see her again.

once i made it back to our neighbours house, now lit up like a fortress, i realized how close she had come to home. what a dark tragedy, i thought to myself. to come so close to home and paralysed with fear, turn the other way, walking straight into the mouth of her real enemy.

i couldn't give up on her. my heart just had to have hope that she would come back to us by some miraculous circumstance. i couldn't bare surrender to the alternative. with the teenage boys still ripping around on their machines, their parents assured us that they were having so much fun, although their skill & technique in goat herding was questionable, we said goodnight and with our head hanging low went home to bed.

'Father, is there any way to get her back?,' i prayed as i closed my eyes. i know she's just a goat but He reminded me of a song i used to sing to our kids. it goes a little something like this...

Say you had a hundred sheep 
and one little lamb got lost 
in the dark, in the cold, far away from the fold 
What would you do? 
What would you do? 

You’d say go get the lost one 
And leave the ninety-nine 
That little lamb is lost 
And that little lamb is mine 
Bring it home on your shoulders 
And call up all your friends 

Rejoice with me, I’ve got my little lamb again. 
Rejoice with me, I’ve got my little lamb again. 

Say you had ten silver coins 
And one silver coin got lost 
Your treasure, your wealth 
In the cracks, in the filth 
What would you do? 
What would you do? 

You’d say go get the lost one 
Turn the house upside down 
That silver coin was lost 
And that silver coin is found 
Light the lamp, sweep the ground 
Then call up all your friends 
Rejoice with me, I’ve got my silver coin again. 
Rejoice with me, I’ve got my silver coin again. 

If God had a child 
Who wandered far astray 
Who was sad, broken hearted, whose guilt kept him away 
What would He do? 
What would He do? 

He’d say, go get the lost one 
He’s who I came to see. 
He thought he was an orphan 
But he’s coming home with me. 
The angels are rejoicing. 
The sinner is my friend. 
Rejoice with me, my child is coming home again. 
The angels are rejoicing. 
The sinner is my friend. 
Rejoice with me, my child is coming home again.

how beautiful a picture of God's love for us. that He would give it all up to find His treasure, His beloved, you and me. to come and find us in the cold, in the cracks, in the filth. to save us from the jaws of death that we so eagerly toddle towards. He snatched us out of a life full of frightened frailty, wandering through the wilderness, belonging to no one and nothing & He washes our shame & guilt far away, soothes our wounds from the wild and embraces us with arms open wide as His very own child. that, my friends, is Love. that an orphan would be called a beloved daughter.

soon after i fell asleep, with the grips of hope still clutched tight in my hand, we were awoken my a late night phone call that the boys had safely captured her and had carried her back to their barn on their shoulders. they had bedded her down and other than exhaustion, she was absolutely fine & we could come and get her in the morning.

and i leapt out of a dead sleep, in those last few minutes before midnight, and danced in delirious delight on our bed! my body torn and tired, i slipped into a deep sleep that night with my hand on my heart in gratitude.

the lost is finally found.


the lost is found {part 2}

it was her mezmerizing beauty that captured my heart and momentarily immobilized my brain. we called her "dortje", dutch for dorthey. she was no ordinary goat, and she begged an extraordinary name.

she was entirely different from Scarlett. we had taken the van which had a deeper back but she hadn't moved, curled up in the fetal position in the back boot. hadn't made a single sound. only her odor breifly gave away her presence in our mini van. one of the kids had even remarked how good she would be at playing hide and seek {which we found out was ominously prophetic}. when we got her home, i knew from my last delivery to the barn, that this may be an issue. my mom hugged my waist to anchor me to the ground this time, still sore from my last dragging. Dortje, even though half the size of Scarlett. jumped out of the back with twice as much pazzaz and for a few good paces dragged both my mom and me, with our heels dug in. it took both of us and all of our might to steer her into the barn but we did it. and we were proud.

normally, a new pastured or free range animal on the farm would need to stay cooped up for a week or two until they got used to this being home but Dortje had been so anxious she had stopped eating all together and we thought, wrongly, that being in with our other does would help her settle better. it worked for a few days. but in those few days we had also attempted to milk her which she had apparently felt a catastrophic injustice to her personal space.

it was on the eventual eve that i gave up milking the fiery wild-ling, that she decided she was not coming into the barn for the night. it had been pouring rain all day and everything was slick and muddy out in the pasture. i called to her & tempted her with grain but she was not interested in interacting anymore. even Scarlett came out & tried to reason with her but it just made her run faster and further.

i tried to cloak my plans for her capture by looking off casually into opposite direction while i slowly walked behind her, attempting to push her forward towards the goat barn. all the other goats with their heads taking turns bleeting out the barn door for her to seek asylum. and she flew fast and hard against the fence that bordered the busy road momentarily pausing for dramatic affect like she was going to jump if i dared step any closer. i held my breath like i was the one that was going to get run over if she did pop over that fence. in one such pivotal pause, she took a sharp turn and bounded towards and into the little goat door opening into home free! and i gunned it to close that little flap door before she could escape. as i slid in the manure slip-and-slide that had accumulated outside the door at mach 3 into the side of the barn, i frantically reached in to slam the door. to my surprise, she rocketed out of that little door, right over my forehead and trampolining off my mid drift. and i lay there. just for a moment. with my head propped up on a muddy rock. flat out trampled in the cold, cold mud as harsh rain drops & tears pooled on my cheeks. Scarlett & Jemimah peaked their heads out cautiously to see if i was ok. i was not ok. and i was gonna get that son of biscuit of it was the last thing i did. i slowly sat up and gritted my jaw.

it was considerably darker by now and i could barely make out her deer like frame in the back distant corner of the field. i marched off into the wind and rain with determination that she was not going to get away with this. she crashed through the creek that cuts our pasture in two and i too flung myself, unsuccessfully, across the creek inches from making it to the other side. i stood there for a moment as snails filled my shoes and sunk deeper into the mud and let out a exasperated cry! the horses had now taken notice and sauntered over to check out what my problem was. but they were no help. no help at all and scared Dortje further and further into the back corner.

i collected myself and crept as quiet as one could with snails squeaking in their crocks and a ridiculously over sized raincoat and pants so soaked with rain and mud that they has lost their will to stay around my waist. i crept into the pitch black as close as i possibly could to the sound of that dinging bell around her neck. she was walking the back fence looking for a way through without getting electrocuted. and i sneaklily snuck until i knew i was close enough. i knew i could grab her and pounced hard on her which scared the living life out of that goat. slick as slug from the rain, she popped out of my arms dragging me over the electric fence with her. the blast of electrical shock stunned me so hard i let go and she was gone. her bell bouncing away into the thick, thick bramble of our neighbours 200 acre backyard.

in sheer horror i bounded my soaking, sopping pants in a hysterical fit all the was back to the house, screaming for help! by the time i made it to the house, i collapsed completely out of breath, trying to explain the urgency of the situation to my mom and steve, who had thought i had been serenely milking the goats all this time.

we threw the dog & some rope into a vehicle and scoured the street behind the field that she'd escape into. we searched until 11pm, knocking on neighbours doors to let them know about our fugitive situation. and then we stopped. my mom wiped the goat footprints off my forehead and said, it's time to leave it until morning. she made me a small bite to eat after i had changed into dry clothes.

as i cried my woes and worries about finding that horrible, terribly, preciously beautiful goat, i noticed that a big blister started to rise under my eye. wild celery is a real problem in this area and if you get in your eye, you instantly go blind with no hope of recovery. in despair, i declared i was probably going to go blind, flopped on my bed and fell fast asleep until the early morning hours.


the lost is found {Part 1}

I have tracked through woods deeper & darker than Mantracker has ever seen, wrestled my way through swamp thickets, slipped & slid up and down muddy creek beds, trudged thru neck high hog weed, sprinted across never ending corn fields, climbed electric fence & barb wire, inches from being trampled by a herd of cattle, had an unfortunate exchange with a very large deer & have eaten more Mosquitos than the suggested daily protein intake of a large man and all this for.... a goat, who's bell can still tauntingly be heard just far enough in the distance to make you crazy. The two day saga continues...

We have been trying to streamline our herd of dairy goats, after committing to just about one of every breed last year to figure out which we liked best. We'd decided on Nubian for their delicious, ungoaty milk and friendly dispositions & goodness forbid their dual purposeness. So I listed the precious goats we were to cull this year to make room for a few more Nubians in their stead. All this is made easier only by having a vision of the path forward of the goats that would be replacing them. 

I had found a unusually shy but wise lady near Kingston who was downsized her own precious herd of dappled Nubians. They were the most beautiful collection of goats I have ever seen. They had polka dots everywhere. You couldn't tell where one goat started and the other ended. Like a great big Jackson Pollock painting on the run. She had a few for sale. As I was trying to get close enough to look at each one, the whole herd would flux and fly away from me wildly climbing walls to get out of my reach, with the exception of one. One large doe just stood right next to me and stared me right in the eye. Not timid or scared one bit by my strange presence. The lady said that doe was reluctantly for sale. Her name was Scarlett and she was her favourite. But she had aged and the lady knew it was time to sell her. Scarlett had the personality and the teats we wanted in our herd but she wasn't as dappled as the others. There was another wild-ling in the bunch that had the perfect dappling for our breeding program but clearly had never been touched by a human. I have always been terrible at deciding these things, which is why I usually take someone with me to push me on one side of the decision or another. I asked the lady who was selling them which she would take. She said she'd love for me to take Scarlett just because she knows she would be going to a good place but that it was my decision. After way too much pondering, I chose Scarlett, still not confident about leaving the other beauty behind. 

It immediately became apparent that Scarlett had never been on a lead before & was very forthright about her opinions about being taken from her herd. I had unfortunately taken my mom's SUV which was high from the ground but with much awkward wrestling, she reluctantly was loaded in the back. Despite her initial dissatisfaction with riding in the back of a moving vehicle, she settled right down. She stood the whole way, up and down the winding roller coaster back roads of Westport and beyond. With her head over the backseat watching Livi and Kai's every move. We had just come from Livi's Preschool Graduation and both Kai & Livi had been playing with balloons in the back which Scarlett had found amusing. But it wasn't long before I heard Kai whining uncomfortably in the backseat. 
"Scarlett's dropping her boogers on me & she won't stop!" he tattled. 
We must have had the air-conditioning too high. He tried bending himself out of the way of her sniffling snot but Scarlett had found such solace in his big mop of wild hair that the booger drippings could no longer be avoided. I handed Kai the Kleenex box and he sweetly blew her nose for her. The three of them became the best of friends back there. So much so that it appeared that one of the two munchkins in the back had unclipped the dog leash that was to keep anchored to the back of the car. But she didn't jump the backseat, just faithfully stood the whole way to her new home. 

She had been so chill the whole idyllic way home, that I could not have predicted the drama that was about to ensue once I opened the back hatch to bring her into the barn. 

I pulled up close enough to the barn and unloaded my two littles with their helium balloons happily in hand and gave them instruction to stand right next to the car until Scarlett was in the barn. I opened the hatch, quickly re-clipped the dog leash and let out a sigh of relief. Phew. That was close I thought. 

And then, with absolutely no warning, Scarlett leapt out of the back like the car had just exploded.  Unaware of her new surroundings, flew into the side of our old pumphouse with me on the other end of that nylon leash. I smoked my shoulder, and lost my footing over some forlorn logs around the back of the pumphouse and she dragged me. Dragged me hard. Through the grass. through the cedars and just about onto the road before I regained control. I was slightly impressed that she could drag me, a full grown woman, so far, so fast. 

Livi screamed with horror having just witness the whole terrible event and let go of her balloon in sheer shock. She was now bellowing her sorrow upon realizing her balloon was gone. Kai happily fascinated with the dancing balloon over his head hadn't notice a thing. I wrestled that goat as hard as I possible I could. With all my might, I dragged and pushed and pulled that goat while yelling my not so sympathetic comfort to Liv who, devastated, had lost all of her life's dreams in that balloon now swirling high in the sky on it's way to the moon. I finally got Scarlett into the barn and took the kiddos inside for their overdue nap.

Later that day, I could not get that other beautiful goat out of my head. I humbly asked Steve if there was anyway we could afford to get this other goat, as dappled goats are quite rare and sell quickly. He said yes, despite the fact that we hadn't yet sold any of the goats that we were replacing. We rubbed our pennies together and I took my mom and all the kids back the next day to grab the other, more wild, less better tempered goat. And that is when all the trouble started. 


churchill, act 2

we were sore in spots we didn't know we had from the prior day's events. i had nervous butterflies in the pit of my stomach all day, knowing that there was no getting out of it, no getting around it. churchill had to get in that trailer & i was going to have to convince his 400lbs of nervousness that he wanted to get in that steel box of scary.

we had actually traded that steel box of scary for a big trailer of luxury...and hopefully, much more secure than the last time. churchill isn't wild or mean. he was just scared.  i probably would have mustered superhuman strength too to get out of a steel shaped coffin hurdling down the road at what felt like mach ten.

anyways, feeling a growing sense of confidence about our new plan in the big spacious trailer as time got closer to the inevitable, we tromped back out to the barn with authority in our boots. patty o joined us for the spectacle. all the chickens gathered to peek through the cracks in the wall, all ready for the big show. we gradually took apart the grand fortress we had built the night before to keep him safely tucked into bed. it looked like we we holding a demon possessed something in our self-contructed penitentiary (they don't teach you that on pinterest!).

the plan was to back the trailer right up to the door of the barn, close the gaps with wood and ease him on with the lure of fancy food like banana peels & good old goat's milk. pat was to hold the stall open and block the gap, mom & i were to coax him on with our charm & wit. steve was to stand just outside of the trailer, in case churchill somehow muscled his way out either of the sides as well as run for any last minute crazy ideas.

well, we sweet talked him up and down to no avail. we left trails of food onto the trailer, just out of reach so he would have to step up to get it. he was uneasy. it could have been the sound of the noisy contractors chainsawing and banging away behind us or the constant helicopter drills landing and taking off at the nearby military base. or the chickens heckling him from outside or it could have been the ever fresh memory of yesterday. who knows. but he wasn't buying our most generous offers. we gave him back scratches in all his favourite spots. i even pulled out some pretty awesome baby massage moves (i knew they would come in handy someday... never in a  thousand years thought i'd be using them on a pig but c'est la vie). he was thankful for the massages but not enough to get on the trailer. after an hour of whispering sweet nothings into his ear, i reached for his love language.... bread... a pig after my own heart. i dipped it in goat's milk and paraded it around the top half of the trailer like it was champagne. he just looked up at me, with those sweet hazel eyes full of pity for a woman who would go to such lengths for a mere pig. i looked down at my phone and we had a whole 8 minutes before i had to leave to go get the kids from school. my mom reminded me of an old tarp trick we had seen on pinterest. i didn't recall the tarp trick exactly, but in a bit of a hurried panic pretended that i did and ripped a blue tarp out of a pile of construction built up against the house. i marched with gusto back into his pen & pulled out the tarp behind him and started flapping & shouting & flailing like a lunatic, loudly proclaiming sounds which have never had such utterance before in an attempt to scare the life out of the stubborn hog. it didn't work. i did scare everyone else though. after my grand production, steve poked his head around the trailer and matched by the confused looks on both pat, mom & churchill's face, said "um, what are you doing?". "i thought this is what i was supposed to do with the tarp" i said, meekishly, suddenly realizing that wasn't the tarp trick they were thinking of. i recovered the small scraps left of my dignity, folded the tarp into a tarp wall and with mom's assistance, walked behind churchill as a united effort and he trotted right up onto the trailer without incident in a matter of seconds. i secretly don't think it was the tarp wall trick that convinced him, but sheer respect for a woman sold out to her pig. we slammed those doors fast and buckled them tight. and we all let out an enormous sigh. steve pulled forward slowly, so as not to spook churchill to busting clear through the wall again, only to realize the van was stuck. we had unwisely tethered the trailer to our mini van and that poor van, after trips with bucks and goats and chickens, not to mention the four kids, had seen better days. we still had our balled winter tires on and they weren't fans of the barnyard muck. steve quickly mcgyvered a plan of using the old jeep to tow the van that was towing the trailer. it worked and he was on his way... with his rifle this time, just in case we had any highway emergencies. the trailer swayed back and forth, with churchill's uneasiness the whole way but steve made it across the finish line and united churchill with his new harem of sows.

still ever so nervous, i reluctantly left to go and grab the kids from school. it wasn't until i was stepping out my car next to professional parents stepping out of their spotless suvs, that i realized i was in poopy coveralls, smelly rubber boots and yet again pig plop splatter all over my face and then it hit me, that churchill was gone forever. that stubborn but loveable pig was gone and my heart hurt for just a moment.

i am relieved that churchill made his final destination but i do find myself strangely sentimental about him. steve say churchill's landed the jackpot dream job and i know that it is true. his new owners were super impressed with his manners and his beautiful colouring and they swore up and down that he had to be at least 500lbs. their instant love of him made it easier. i don't know why i sometimes have such a hard time letting go of things but i just do. it can be hard to say good-bye sometimes, even in the best of circumstances.

after all, he really was "some pig".


...and this little pig went to market and this little pig stayed home

this is my vow to the earth and all above and below that i will never, ever again trust a pig as long as i shall live. ever. i will never commit to transporting them, fraternize with them, deal or dabble in them ever again. and certainly never 400lb+ pigs.

churchill was the first animal to move into the farm. he moved in a month before we did. he was so small and scared but those eyes. those hazel eyes got me right from the start. we stuck with him as he acquainted himself with the electric fence for the first time. as we stood back and marvelled at our electric fence masterpiece, we flicked the switch and watched as he backed his manhood straight into the very electrified fence and then shot clear through the other end of the fence. it took us an hour to get him back in. and then repeated the whole thing the next day multiple times. but we stuck with him.

we stuck with him when those boy parts quadrupaled into the size of melons & we breifly considered devising a makeshift protective & supportive bra for those bad boys as the girls became extra fascinated with them and we thought his manhood to precious to risk. we stuck with him when he decided to have pig party and rip out all the feed buckets, waterers and the entire barn wall as well as the gate too many times to count and often in -40 degree weather.

but my affection for him grew as i would drive past our field to find churchill sprawled out in his glory while my mom, distracted from her fencing work, gave him a big belly scratch. or how he and major the 17h horse became best friends, often following each other around the field and found snoozing in the long bits of grass side by side. i have always had a soft spot for this pig. but not today.

the time had come. he had done his job on the farm and a decision needed to be made. the freezer or the market? uncastrated pigs often produce funky meat (and i secretly couldn't bare the thought of our farm sweetheart meeting an untimely end as a hotdog) so we sold him as breeding stock. and as per his size, we included delivery, confident that my sweet, darling of a pig surely wouldn't be a problem.

we borrowed a box crate from a neighbour to load in the back of our trailer, just barely big enough. the neighbour had advised us, with a certain devious chuckle, to spend the extra time thinking out the process of getting him into the metal box without getting him too excited because if he escaped we would never get him back. we took his advice, and carefully prepared a comfy, straw filled crate with loads of favourite foods to entice him into the small space and made a makeshift but strong maze of chutes to feed him into the box, hopefully without incident.

our first job was to separate him from the girls, who had made a colossal sized lake of poo-mud all around the gate, so thick that i sunk helplessly to the top of my boots upon entering. after several unsuccessful attempts at keeping the other three keen and affection girls away from me and the gate and getting churchill through the gate, my mom, always up for an adventure, jumped in to help. i transformed into a ninja giving warning kicks constantly into the air to keep the girls away (worse than kickboxing bootcamp!) while she enticed him through the gate with a bucket of treats. we slammed the pen gate behind him and quickly began securing it with binder twine so the other three rambunctious pigs would stay contained now anxiously separated from there lover. churchill took advantage of our split second distraction and casually ploughed through opposite gate, over a bag of feed and into an aligning pen which happened to house a delicate duck sitting on a nest full of eggs set to hatch any day now  as well as a wide open door to the wild, blue yander.  i may have sworn. loudly. we both jumped into the other pen to both slam the escape door and simultaneously distract him from eating the precious mama duck right off her nest. mom quickly grabbed an open dish of duck food while speaking sweetly in high tones of loveliness & calm to cox him back through the gate. he loved her sweet talking so much he followed her right onto the ramp and almost into the box until he changed his mind. i shut the barn door, unintentionally locking my mom onto the very small ramp with churchill who suddenly realized he didn't like this plan. he tried to back through the door, which i was holding shut with every ounce of strength i had left, after ninja kicking for 15 minutes straight. he threw our side chutes with ease while steve frantically tried to secure them down. in a brave move of solidarity, i jumped the door and joined her on the very small ramp. we calmly scratched his back & sung sweet songs of his greatness which seem to make him more upset. in the most courageous, swift move i have ever had the privilege of witnessing, my mom, grabbed him by the tail and "wheelbarrowed" him right into the crate, not at all afraid of the consequences that could ensue cranking a pigs tail that high. we barricaded the crate door by laying our lives across it until we could secure the bolt and then stuffed three solid bales of hay between the back of the trailer and the back of the crate, just in case.  we laugh-cried with relief. we had done it. we had done the impossible. moving a 400lb+ pig willfully into a small metal box.

we drew straws for who was going to have to drive him an hour and a half away to his forever home. i lost but i begged mom to go with me just incase. i quickly ran back to the house to grab my phone to text the expectant owners that we were on our way as steve pulled the trailer up to the top of the farm gate. i no sooner pressed send when i heard the van beeping frantically. i opened the back door and out of my mouth came a sound only steve can imitate, as my eyes beheld the scene before me. steve was running for his life to shut the main farm gate and churchill had charged through the side of the metal crate and was now at large and unhappy & offended about our suggestion that we were no longer his home, sweet, home. he had a little wander here and there until he followed us like a little puppy into a nearby barn where we safely barricaded him in until the inevitable morning when we would rinse and repeat the entire charade. well... hopefully not the entire charade.

i ran back up to the house after i realized i hadn't seen our four kids in a while and upon entering the mudroom, davith met me at the door and before i could say a word, he said "don't worry mom! i got it under control. i knew it was an emergency when you screamed and i put myself in charge. i did 1000 minutes playing downstairs with them and now we are playing a safe game of hide-and-seek". i hugged that little-big boy so hard...which is when i realized i was literally covered entirely with pig plop. all over my face. all over my phone. all over everything. i scampered up the stairs to take a quick shower before making dinner. it turned out a little someone was hiding behind the toilet (she's the best at hide-and-seek so i didn't realize she was there until a few minutes had past). i peeked my head out from behind the shower curtain to say a quick hello to liv, when she said "mommy, why you earrings poopy?" and then i laughed, and then i cried.

i shook from the tip of my head to the top of my toe once i realized we were moments away from a highway disaster. i have no idea how we're going to get him back into any trailer of any sort or how i could ever again confidently transport my pig with superhero strength and talents down any road, non-the-less and hour and half into unknown terrain. but let's leave that to tomorrow.

i will never, ever again... until tomorrow.


growing up. {letters to kai}

you were flopping & romping all over the couch until i caught you in my cuddle trap. an old, well-worn police helmet tilted on your head. the one with the green visor that you say makes you see bad guys better.

i set you up on my lap, being sure to have hold of your ankles so you can't wiggle away. you lift the visor up slightly & squint at me suspiciously.

"kai, what do you want to be when you grow up?" i ask.

"i want to be a king so i can rule the world!" you answer with a glint of mischief in your eyes.
"no wait" you add. "i want to be a prince of a school..."

"you mean a principal?" i ask.

"no, the prince of a school. actually never mind, i just want to be kai" you say with a big modest grin.

"well, that's a pretty great thing to be" i say. "but kai, how will you change the world as a kai?" i ask.

"well, i just don't know yet mom. but i just want to be a kai and right now i just want to be kai the kid" you say as you wiggle free from my clutches & flop across to the other side of the couch just out of reach with sheer delight stretched across your face as you marvel at your own escape.

when you grow up, i hope with all my motherly ambition, that you will be a kai. a kai in all his confidence, muster & glory. that you would see things as a kai & hear things as a kai & hopefully think & talk & roar like a kai. and you will change the world, in your kai-kai kinda way, even though even you can't predict the far reaching influence of your God-given kai-ness. and i will be the proudest mama of all, that my kai is a kai in all fullness & integrity of what a kai is. and it will be my greatest privilege to watch you grow & flourish & bloom in a way that only a kai can.

and you may be a king of sorts or a prince of a school or a great many things with your vast array of besotted talents but as long as you're a kai at the same time, well, that's what will change the world.

"here and now we are God's children. we don't know what we shall become in the future. we only know that if reality were to break through, we should reflect His likeness, for we should see Him as He really is!" 
{1 john 3:2, jbphillips}