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Monday, March 19, 2018

Triplets, mulching, gardening

Saturday morning was an early morning; sort of. Friday night it was pretty obvious that Lilly was going to have her kids this weekend and Mama was fretting over the birthing. So, Saturday morning she popped out of bed a little after 7 am and looked out our bedroom window to check on the goats. What she saw put her into immediate action. Lilly was in the paddock giving birth – there was already one kid on the ground that Mama could see from the window. By the time we got out to her, she had given birth to her third tiny kid. Two males and one female. The female, the doe, is marked just like her father. Both of the bucklings are the black and white Mama favors. It started off our morning with a flurry of activity.

The first issue was that Millie, the matron of the herd, butted Lilly away from her newly born kids. None of the little ones had even been thoroughly cleaned yet and all of them needed to nurse at some point, but the older Nanny would not let the mommy near her babies. Mama and I had to get a leash, catch Millie and drag her out of the paddock so Lilly could take care of her little ones. That caused us a problem because we chose to put Millie in the coop area which abuts the Nubian goat’s enclosure. Millie and Sugar, the matron in that little herd, decided to but each other through the wire gate that separates the two areas. So, Mama and I had to herd the Nubian goats into the pig lot, close them up and hang a sheet over the shorter fence on that side of the enclosure so the goats could not see each other. Hopefully, we can put Millie back into the paddock this afternoon. Rick told us that the aggression on the part of the older goats only lasts a day or two. We will test that carefully.

After we got the goats situated, Mama and I went to the feed store to get bales of alfalfa for Daisy and the goats. Since Daisy it corralled in the barn, she has to be tended to every day. Getting the portions of feed correct for her has been a challenge. She will eat whatever we give her, and we want to help her gain her weight back, but we do not want to go broke trying to do so. We are still learning how much of what she actually needs to thrive while we wean her calf. Getting the one hundred-pound bales placed where we needed them took some time. One went in the cow barn with Daisy. The other went into the loft of the goat barn. Thankfully we have a tractor to help us get all that done. By that time, we were ready for breakfast, so we ate the sausage kolaches we picked up in Chico when we were getting feed.

Mama and I worked in the garden after getting the cows taken care of. We got her mower and used it to mulch the accumulated leaves so we could start to prepare the garden for some plants. The leaves took a bit of work even with the mower to mulch them, but we got the chore done in about an hour. After which, I started the tiller and got some rows ready to plant. I already had onions in the raised bed, but we needed a lot more soil added to plant anything else. Early in the afternoon, we made our trip to Lowes and to Decatur Garden Center. Lowes for soil. Decatur Garden Center for plants. By the time we got all that done, our evening chores done, and everything put away properly, it was almost 6 pm.

As of last night, all the kids were doing well. The little doe still has not gotten to where she walks properly. She still curls her hoofs under her as she tries to walk. We will see if that works itself out as she gains strength and coordination. When Mama and I checked on them late last night, the three were in the Igloo dog house we have in the goat barn, with Lilly standing guard at the opening. The dogs were on duty and well aware of the new kids. Mama could relax and go to bed.

Sunday was going to be equally busy.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Overwhelmed, kids and pups

Have you ever come to the point where you were overwhelmed with the amount of work that needed to get done and you knew you could not possibly do it all in the timeframe in which you felt it needed to be accomplished? Me too. I must have been at one of those points last night where the weight of the load caught up with my consciousness. Something hit me as I walked into the garage and it was, once again, full of leaves that had blown in under the partially open door. Mama and Victoria like to raise the door in order to give the rabbit, whose cage seems to be permanently set in the garage, some fresh air. My contention is, if the rabbit needs fresh air, set the rabbit outside. I know, it is just a few leaves, but for some reason it hit me the wrong way yesterday evening as I unloaded my things from the truck. I got over it, but not before I had to apologize for getting snippy with Mama.

As I changed and got busy working, I had to ask myself what was really bothering me? So much to do. So little help. So little time. So little money. Yearning for a change and finding the same, same, same. As I worked on mulching leaves so Mama and I can have a garden at some point this year, I began to realize – as is typical – I was frustrated because I had so much. Sad, huh? Mama and I had all this because we had prayed for it. We have a farm because we had prayed for one we could manage as we grew older. We have a garage because the farm God gave us had a large house in it with an oversized garage – complete with all the amenities of a large garage. We have all these noisome leaves to contend with because, unlike much of the area around us, we have lots of trees on our little farm; to shade our goats, our cattle, our chickens, our dogs – and our house.

We have a goat barn that needs doors because God allowed me to build it. A chicken coop that needs some finishing touches – which is very nice, by the way - because God allowed me to build that. We need fencing stretched over three hundred feet of pipe fencing because we have a property that can be subdivided for the goats we are keeping. We have a barn for the cattle and all the equipment I need to maintain the property, to get large bales of hay for the cattle, etc., etc., etc.

So, once again, I decided I can either be like Martha, who “was cumbered about much serving,” or I can be like Mary who chose the “good part”. I would like to say my attitude changed immediately, but that would be a lie. It took time to realize that being overwhelmed is a two-sided coin in this instance. At some point, I will be overwhelmed with gratitude for all that the Lord has given me and Mama. Because, in fact, He has given us so much.

Mama was somewhat frustrated yesterday evening because she cleaned an area in the goat barn for little Lilly to have her babies and rather than lie in the cleaned spot the goat was bedding down in the area that still has a bit of rabbit manure in it. Later that evening, as I was working on leaves, she checked again and was pleased and relieved that Lilly had moved to the spot Mama had prepared for her. Unlike the Disney movies, these animals act just like animals and we have to allow them to act on the instincts God gave them – and adapt our expectations to conform to those instinctually guided actions. However, in this case, Mama seems to have anticipated the need in sync with the mama-to-be. Mama is very good at that.

Kira’s pups are growing quickly. By the middle of next week, their eyes will begin to open, and we will have to make arrangements for the seven of them to be more mobile. With that in mind, I need to repair the kennel we typically use for the Banty house, so it can be ready to be used for its intended purpose – a dog kennel. It was damaged by the ice storm we had a few weeks back. We will move it this weekend to sit near the birthing center so Victoria has a place to put the pups as they require more room to move about. A place where they can be somewhat contained.

Another “extra work” blessing in disguise.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Mama’s home, training yesterday, mock training today

Mama made it home safely yesterday afternoon. She was a little worried about one particular stretch of road in Oklahoma City where the construction had caused longs delays for the southbound traffic. She had noticed the backup on her way to Brittany’s last Saturday. Since she did not know an alternate route, she knew she might be stuck with the delay. She is not a fan of traffic jams. Well, she stopped on her way back in Edmond, OK and as it turned out, she spoke with a policeman who was able to tell her how to get around the construction area and avoid Oklahoma City altogether. She was thrilled. Those of you who know Mama know she loves shortcuts and alternate routes. She thoroughly enjoyed her time with Brittany and the twins. She actually gained a little on her biceps while she was there.

I was conducting training all day yesterday. It was an uncharacteristically small class – only twelve. However, it was a good class. There was a lot of discussion, a lot of participation and so many questions that the class lengthened itself to the point that I had to breeze over some less relevant portions. All in all, it was a very good class. Two more to go for this month. The next of which is very near San Antonio. IT is one of these class venues that I wish I could take Mama with me. We both love San Antonio, but I will not do much on my own while I am down there. I may go to the River Walk for dinner one of the two evenings I am there, but not much more than that.

Today, I will be in a class setting all day. With the program we have implemented to get new trainers onboard, one of the requisites is to have each new trainer candidate to do a mock training. Something akin to a full class presentation done in a mock setting – generally with me and several other employees to serve as the attendees. Today, the presentation will be with me and the presenter alone. It is a pre-mock setting for this individual. Because of the volume of the information contained in the eight-hour course, this individual needed a run-through that would allow me the opportunity to do a good bit of coaching and instruction as he wades through the material. I am confident that he will do very well, but both of us realize that he will need a chance to do a full-blown presentation to a mock audience before he presents to a client class. This will serve as a time to adjust his presentation pace and broaden his understanding of and comfort with the material. I have had to adopt this process for a couple additional candidates as we add trainers to our roster. It may seem tedious, but the final results in presentation confidence are well worth the additional time.

Since Mama is off and since we have limited groceries in the house, I suggested we meet for lunch. Mama was pretty quick to agree, but we did not settle on an eatery. I thought we would play that by ear as the day unwound. We’ll see how that turns out. She will be getting feed this morning and will be on the road back home about the time we would normally have lunch so, we will see what she is ready to eat when she comes back into Decatur from her shopping trip to Muenster. I am ready for school to start again. I find I would rather eat lunch with Mama in that setting than in any restaurant we have available to us. I do not mind eating out per se, but I do not like the associated costs of doing so. Most times I would rather eat what I brought.

It is more boring, but it is so much more cost effective.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Researching, coaching, training, Mama

Yesterday evening, I left the farm after being there for only about an hour. Mama and I were going to get a call from our newly assigned coach at about 8 pm, but I felt like I needed to get some more research done in case we were asked if there was anything particular we were working on. It helped to be at the office, getting my mind centered on the business, picking apart lists. Mama and I will continue to do so as we are coached through the process. I did find a couple good properties, but we will not be able to purchase them because they are going to auction next week. Mama and I are not prepared to move that quickly, but it is good to see the process work in identifying good deals as we wade through the data.

As promised, Theresa called at 8 pm. She called me first and we conferenced in Mama. We only chatted for about half an hour so she could get a feel for where we were interested in looking, what our long-term and short-term goals were and what our financial resources were. She was pleased with some answers. She was not overly pleased that we had already met with Frank. That, we have learned, should have waited until we had completed our coaching sessions. Oh, well. I think Frank gave us a really good start – but time will tell. She was pleased that we understand the process and the limitations we will face due to our limited cash. She referred to herself as “cheap”. That will probably work well for me and Mama. One of the disconnects Mama and I had with Frank was with regard to his financial approach to this business. He was thinking in the $100,000+ range of purchase price for properties while we were more in the $10,000+ range. However, Frank did teach us a very practical way to record, tabulate and organize our research. We will see how Theresa does her research over the next few weeks and merge the two at some point along the way. Mama and I are anxious to get started, to make our first purchase, to make enough money to do this as a fulltime business without having to report to an employer. Maybe this year.

I will be presenting a class tomorrow. I have one class each week for the next couple weeks. One of the three will require me to travel for a couple days. I was talking to Mama this morning and mentioned my travel next week as opposed to her travel this week. My hope is that at some point in the very near future we will be together when we travel – but not yet. I am pleased that my company allowed me to rework the presentation that I give most often to make it flow more smoothly. It is still a bit fractured in sequence, but at least, there is a greater continuity to the overall presentation for now. At some point I will rewrite the entire class and group it according to content rather than skipping back and forth in focus areas. Tomorrow will be the first time we will be using the new books and slide deck for the class. It should be no issue, but I will get to see what sticks out as I present the class in full.

Mama is thoroughly enjoying the twins, although she is not used to lugging around such large babies. Neither of the girls is able to hold themselves up very well so they still have to be supported when being held. That takes an effort Mama is not conditioned to as well as Britany. Brittany has had the advantage of growing stronger as the twins have grown – a slow progression to where she is today. No other person has had the daily exercise of handling the growing babies; Mama included. Fortunately, she is used to handling sacks of feed that weigh a bit more than the babies. On the down side, she does not usually carry the sacks of feed around for very long. So, she is part way there, but not all the way there. Never-the-less, she is having a great time.

If her plans do not change again, she will head home tomorrow.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mama’s travels, leaves, puppies, goats

Mama made it to Brittany’s safely Saturday afternoon. Nate, Cori and the kids were already there. The kids have had a fun time visiting with each other. Savanna, who is two years old, has wanted to hold her baby cousins, who are now seven months old. The dilemma is that each of the twins weigh almost as much as she does. Fortunately, Zoe and Sophia do not mind being passed from person to person and the especially seem to love Savanna. Mykenzie has been a help to Brittany in the short time they have been there, but they will be leaving today to head back south for meetings later in the week. Mama is still debating when she should come home. It will either be tomorrow morning or Tuesday morning. Either way, it will be a sad morning – for her and for Brittany.

As Mama was leaving Saturday morning, I was emptying the garage so I could clean it out. The leaves have been accumulating in it for some time and I have not taken the time to blow them out. It is often a losing battle since Mama insists on leaving the garage door partially open so the rabbit, who resides in our garage, can have some fresh air. With the accumulated leaves just outside the garage, it gets littered with the leaves when the wind blows in just the right direction. I have not taken the time to dispose of the piles of leaves because I was not entirely sure how to go about getting rid of them efficiently. Well, that morning, the Lord gave me an idea. I put the bucket on the tractor and filled it over and over with leaves which I dumped in a spot on the property. Even with the multiple loads of leaves I removed from the accumulated piles, I only got a fraction of them moved. The pile at the garage was the first to go. That was five loads. Then I worked on the pile at the fence between the house and the well house. I still have about two loads of leaves left in that pile – for a total of eight loads of leaves from that pile alone. I will finish next Saturday, but I still have the enormous piles of leaves in the garden area and around my fig tree. Maybe twenty more loads will get it.

The seven pups are doing well. With that few, Kira is able to take care of them easily. The only issue Victoria has had is the ambient temperature. It has been warm. I will not say hot. That is coming, but the afternoon temperatures have been warm enough to make Kira very uncomfortable. She has started digging sizable holes on the sides of the birthing building to lay in attempting to cool down. Grandpa built the building facing south. Not necessarily bad, but it allows the force of the afternoon sun to shine directly into the little building, making it too warm for Kira to stay in there with the pups. Victoria is worried she will take the pups out of the building and nest them in the dirt, but she is more afraid of keeping Kira in the building if it is too warm for her. So, for now, the doors are left open, so she can move in and out freely. The pups are too small to go too far – and they like the warmth.

One of our yearling goats, Lilly, will have her kids any day now. Mama is worried about missing the birthing but so far, that has not been an issue. This morning, Lilly was up when Victoria checked on her, but she looks like she is about to burst. All signs are pointing to her having the kids by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest, but Mama and I are new at this, so we are only guessing for now. As we gain more experience, we will have a better idea how to predict the delivery time more accurately.

All the animals are missing Mama, especially Mocha. And, yes. I miss her too.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Small victories

After Mama had a very frustrating morning with the Nubian goats again, we found them all in their enclosure when we got home after work yesterday evening. It is not a big thing. They are easy to herd back into a familiar area, but, as you all know, it is rarely the big things in this life that give us the most angst. There was some talk of selling the goats, selling the farm, etc., but all that flew away through the remainder of the day. With the panels Mama and I put in place and the metal pieces used to reinforce in areas the panels did not cover, I am just glad it does not look like something we might see back in the hollows of Mama’s home state. For now, we will continue on. After all, Mama just ordered twenty more chicks for us and ten chicks each for Alissa and Kimberlyn respectively. So, by the end of the month I have to be set up to raise 40 baby chicks. Our farm will still have all the normal sounds, the barking of dogs, the bleating of goats, the lowing and bawling of cattle and the clucking of chickens. Soon, I assume we will add a pig – when I have the goats out of that area.

Another small victory happened last night as Mama and I were working on our business. Within this business we are setting up two LLCs. A couple weeks ago we were asked to select names for those legal entities. Somewhere along the way those names got overlooked as we progressed toward completing the paperwork for the LLCs. Monday, I got word that we were at the point of confirming the mailing address and the names for the entities, so I got an extra chance to register the names Mama and I had originally selected. When I responded to the email asking for final confirmation I anticipated a response but did not get one over a three-day period. Last night, as we spoke to our liaison with US Tax Lien Association, we let her know we were awaiting a response – and we got one within a few minutes. We got to register the names that we wanted for our two LLCs. That was a blessing. Names, addresses and phone numbers are now being registered. Accounts will be created and funded, and Mama and I can start to do business.

Meanwhile, back ion the farm. All seven pups are healthy and growing quickly. With only seven to nurse, Kira is flooded with milk, so the pups are always full. I should have taken a picture of the litter, but I do not take my phone with me when I am at home or working around the farm. This weekend will be an exception since Mama will be traveling and spending several nights away. Honestly, I have only looked in on the pups once since they were born. That was last night. When I went out to close up the chickens for the night, I also closed the door to the puppy ward because Mama had left it open when she had last tended to Kira and the litter. The night was not going to be overly cold, but it was cooling down too much to let all the colder air into the small building. Grandpa did a good job on the little structure. It is well insulated and stays warm with just a small heater or a heat lamp.

Victoria had not anticipated the cool morning, so she had not turned on the heater last night when she tended to the pups. This morning, when she went out to check on everyone, Kira had moved all the pups under the heat lamp. It was only 45°F, but that was cool enough that the little ones needed a bit of help staying warm. Victoria is off today so she will spend a good portion of the day fussing over the pups. By the end of the day they will have names – and I should have pictures to share.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Puppies, more goat escapes, visiting

We have puppies. The first one was born yesterday at 7:30 am. Mama called in to work so she could stay with Kira. Victoria had to report to work. Try as she might, they would not let her off. Bro. Zach told me at church that Mama was the first person he had call into work for time off to take care of dogs. Mama left for work at noon and I met her a little late for lunch. By that time Kira had five pups. When Mama got home the count was up to seven and it appeared that the birthing was over. However, when Victoria went out very early this morning to check on Kira and the pups, she found two more pups. Sadly, both of them were stillborn. She was agonizing as to whether or not the pups could have been saved if she or Mama had been there at the birthing, but we will never know – and it is not something we should spend a lot of emotional energy on. Seven healthy pups is a good litter.

As I was driving into the driveway at the farm yesterday evening, I saw the Nubian goats in the back yard - again. Mama and I had put us several panels at the back fence to close off their escape route, but we had unintentionally left a small portion of weak fence open for the goats to access the yard. They were enjoying themselves thoroughly. I went straight to work reinforcing the parts of the fence that would give them a path to escape and we put them back into their little area.

When I finished, I went over to the barn to feed the cows and look for some wire pieces for props for work. When I was coming back from the barn the Nubian goats met at the gate into the barn lot from the middle paddock. So, now they were in a much more open area. As much as I preach closing gates behind us, I had not latched the little wire gate we use as access into the middle paddock from the chicken area. It was wide open. It is normally not an issue, but we do not normally have goats that are trying out new areas of our farm. That partially explained how they got into that area. I did not try to gather them because they can easily outrun me – and they had too much room to do so. I walked back into the chicken area to see if I could find how they had gotten out of their enclosure. It was not hard to guess. The gate into their area from the chicken area was also wide open. Either Mama or I had not latched it properly.

Fortunately, goats are like chickens in that they will normally return to their quarters for the night. So, rather than herd them back to their habitat, we left the gates open and allowed them to wander back home. Mama and I went out just before we left for church and shooed them back into the area they are supposed to stay in, closed the gates and left them to their own devices for the night. Whether we have sufficiently reinforced the enclosure to keep them contained will be tested through the day today. What I can say for certain is that they have tasted freedom and they liked it. I will have to work faster at getting the new area ready for them. Or, we will sell them as bred goats and be done with them.

Mama will be taking off Saturday morning for Brittany’s. She is on Spring Break next week and wanted to take the opportunity to see the twins. As an added bonus, Nate, Cori and the kids will be in Wichita for a conference. So, Grammy will get to celebrate her grandparent status in a big way. She is thrilled. I think Brittany is also but not like Mama is. On Tuesday morning, Mama will have to say goodbye and come home. It is always amazing to me how she will go into a trip like this with the pending goodbyes hanging over her the entire time. Here we are, two days before she even leaves to make the visit, she is dreading the coming of next Tuesday when she will have to say goodbye.

I have never understood her, but I certainly do love her.