I think that I found our “Farm Dog”.

 

Here is a picture that I was sent. He is looking at the camera.

Here is a picture that I was sent. He is looking at the camera.

Many of you know that I have been searching for a “Livestock Guardian”. Here is what I have found.

Though donkeys can be great guardians, putting their ears back and chasing any coyote that dare to come into their pasture, they are not the snuggly animal that can come in the house and help protect Gramma Donna from the monsters that come to visit when Grandpa Steve is away on business.

Geese and Guineas can sound an alarm, but can be quickly eaten by a hungry coyote, especially if no one is home to hear them.

Lamas are just as happy to spit at you as look at you, and emus like to peck at my glasses(ask me how I know!).

I have always owned a dog and since Steve’s “Little Lucky” died about 4 months ago; I started considering a canine. Our dogs have always been house pets and not so much “working dogs” so this has been an interesting discussion.

I thought about raising a puppy with the livestock. This is a technique often used by herdsmen. Steve said “No”. Besides, there are far too many people who use female dogs as puppy mills to produce high dollar pups that may end up unloved, or in shelters.

So I turned to the dog rescues. I called a rescue for Anatolian Shepard dogs and for Great Pyrenees. I was told that there are lots of people who are raising and selling these puppies. So many of these puppies end up in rescues; that now the rescues refuse to re-home them to farmers any more. They made me fill out a form promising that my dog would be an indoor dog; that would not spend more than an hour at a time outside.

More information from “Farm Dog” rescues. I was told that in general-herding dogs like Australian Shepherds, Heelers and Border Collies; do not make the best chicken dogs. (Though I personally know some that are!) Apparently, the herding instinct makes the dog chase the chickens. The frenzy that follows excites the dog and the chicken (accidently) becomes dinner.  That can become a very bad habit!

That brings me back to one of my favorite breeds. Labradors. So I put out a request for a lab. I had tons of responses. I could have someone’s cast-away 6 month old puppy for only $500.00, or a purebred pup for $2,000. I started feeling a bit sarcastic.

My next step was to call a couple of farmers who rescue dogs from the euthanasia list. Who better than a farmer to know a good farm dog. I told them that I want a big neutered male-mixed breed dog that had a deep voice. I want him to be a lover, good with baby humans, chickens, goats and other dogs.

I think that I have found him. He is a lab mixed with Stafford shire Terrier. He has been in a foster home. He was a cute puppy, but got too big and was taken to the county at 4 months old. His foster mom rescued him from the euthanasia list. He lives with 3 human babies, chickens, goats and other dogs. He is just a little over a year old. He loves-loves-loves people. Why is she parting with him? She is a foster mom and needs the room to save another dog from the euthanasia list. He has a deep voice and is big enough to make coyotes think twice before jumping his foster mom’s fence. He is chipped, and up to date on shots. Sounds too good to be true? I get to meet him next Friday. This is not  a decision that I am taking lightly, he deserves the perfect home with a mom that loves him and a job to do, just as I am looking for a certain dog to love and to work with.

Wish us both luck and watch for updates.

 

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Mary Poppins in the Garden

Mary to the rescue!

Mary to the rescue!

One of the sad things about cabbages is that even when I space out the planting, they all come up at once. I have tried sprouting them in toilet paper tubes 2 weeks apart, and they still seem to wait for the others to catch up. I currently have 10 red and green cabbages that are all ready to harvest within a week or two of each other. I like cabbage, don’t get me wrong, it a couple of heads goes a long way.

Steve is not overly fond of it, so I get creative. I hide it in salads and sandwiches. That works for green cabbage, but he is pretty sharp and knows red cabbage when he sees it. I have started playing with fermenting cabbage and that will take up some of this healthy cruciferous. But I have another secret that I learned from Mary Poppins.

Red cabbage

Red cabbage

So, how do I get Steve to eat red cabbage? The same way that I get him to try other things that he turns his nose up at.

Everybody sing along. “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”

So, I googled “Sweet and Sour Cabbage”. I made it, he loved in and I am happy, because we ate a half a head of cabbage in one setting. Now that he knows that he likes it, I will make up some more for him to take to work for his lunch next week. We do not want to over do. Cabbage can be gassy. Unh ooh! Oh well, we will stay warm tonight- “in the most delightful way”

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The Conversion is Almost Complete

Boys and their toys!

Boys and their toys!

When I first met Steve, he was a city boy through and through. He drove a two door Mustang, he wore a suit and tie to work; and he lived in an HOA. What did we ever see in each other? Well, we met at a Christian single’s dance. He was playing scrabble with the older ladies in the back- and I wanted to dance and play. He was intriguing to me because he was the only guy in the room that I had not danced with.

Someone told him that he was not a good dancer, someone else had told him that he could not carry a tune. I started teasing him and getting him to come out on the dance floor. After several years of just playing, he has lost his shyness. Now he is a 2-stepping Waltz-er who will sing me a love sing. Lucky me!

Steve never quite understood why I would spend so much time planting and tending to vegetable plants, when he could afford to buy me enough vegetables at the store. It took a much longer time for him to understand why I would want to raise my own meat. He was not sure about eating eggs that my pet chickens produced and he thought that raw milk was just gross.

Now he eats our chicken’s eggs for breakfast; stuffed with raw goat’s milk cheese. He eats the sourdough bread that I make; slathered with butter that I make from raw cow’s cream. Though he prefers the taste of raw goat milk, he is ok with the cow milk when the goat is dried up.

He loves the raw goat milk yogurt with a spoonful of homemade jam, and is disappointed when the goat milk, vanilla ice cream tub in the freezer is empty.

The toughest part of this whole thing for him was the meat. But he is coming around. He is talking about a certain riding lawn mower that he wants to buy. It has a plow attachment and a disc. He shared with me the other day that he wanted to raise alfalfa for our animals. He asked if I knew where he could find some non-gmo alfalfa seeds. He said that he was concerned about eating meat that was fed GMO alfalfa. Well, (as my grandpa used to say)who da thunk? Me. I did! I just new that it would take some time.

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Livestock Guardian Dogs

This is not a dog.

This is not a dog.

After my last blog post, I received tons of private messages from people that had great advice about which livestock guardian animal to get; in order to deter coyotes from our new property.

One suggested geese, guineas and peacocks. Though a very nice idea for some, it is my intention to be an excellent neighbor. I used to live next door to a lady that had a peacock. That will not work for me.

Donkeys or llamas got a lot of votes too. That thought intrigued me.

But my favorite was the suggestion that it was time to get a (some) dog(s).

With that idea in mind, I looked into the popular LGD breeds. My favorite were the Anatolian Shepard and the Great Pyrenees. There are lots of people in town that are selling pups right now, so they are certainly available.

But after speaking with lots of friends who actually own plain old “Farm Dogs” this is what I have found. We will not have bears or cougars, we may have coyotes. Most of these farmers say that just having a large breed dog on the place, goes a long way in causing the occasional coyote to pass by our address and look else were for their meal.

There are tons of large breed pups that head to the pound, or to a shelter once the “cute” wears off. Dogs that would love a second chance, that might not get one because they were not taught perfect indoor manners while they were still small enough to cuddle and sleep with. Fortunately, I am not looking for small or even cute. I have bunnies for that. I am looking for big and scary.

I have talked to a couple of farm dog rescues that have taken in such dogs. These rescues have evaluated these young dogs on such points as “already housebroken”, “good with kids”, “and “good with livestock” etc. I have decided that I would like a big dog with a deep voice that has been neutered or spayed. One that has been house broken would be nice, so that he/she could be invited inside.

But they would have a job to do. This wonderful beastie will not only make a presence that would intimidate coyotes, but also be my companion to chase away monsters that come out when Steve has to go out of town on business.

So,

I have made some appointments to go and visit some of these dogs. I am not in a hurry. I will be very choosey. But you know me, it won’t be long until ‘Sharing Life’s Abundance Farm” has a new mascot.

 

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Livestock Guardian Animals

Livestock Guardian Animals

Livestock Guardian Animals

My next research project for the farm is “Livestock Guardian Animals”.

Although the property that we are in the process of purchasing has flood irrigation, the current owner is not allowing the irrigation to be ordered while he still owns it. I do understand his point. With a little bit of water, the weeds that are currently on the lot would soon be 3 ft tall. The soil is quite fertile after all. If escrow does not close as expected, he would have to pay a tractor to come and drag the lot again before relisting the property.

The bad thing about that is that there are some beautiful plants and trees that are suffering out there, so I go over twice a week with 3 (100 foot) hoses and give everything a nice long drink. This takes about 2 hours (you are welcome current owner).

The happy news is the neighbors have been coming over to meet me. I was asked by one neighbor, if I was the “angel” that they have been praying for- to come and breathe life back into the old orange orchard. How nice! Why yes, I am.

I have been told by the neighbors that there are coyotes that will terrorize my animals and that I will need a dog to deter them.

Steve recently lost his little terrier “Lucky” and we were not actually thinking about getting a dog. But it makes sense. So I will be researching that very subject and let you know what I find out.

Stay tuned for next time when you will hear me offer Steve a choice; Dog, Llama or Donkey ;)

 

 

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We All Have Dreams.

It is a decision

It is a decision

A common theme that I like to talk about is passion. We all have it. It drives us. It makes us do what we do. Fall in love, enroll in higher education, plan a future or just participate in a hobby.

I have been pretty open about my passions. Loving my family, sharing with my friends, even posting about my life for the world to read. Most recently, I have been sharing about my dream to someday have a larger place to take my gardens and animals to.

I only post the positive stuff, because that is what I concentrate on. Besides, I do not think that anyone would be entertained by any whining that I might want to do. So I keep my blog positive and both of my Facebook pages full of cute fluffy things, encouraging messages and joyful images.

Most recently a reader messaged me and suggested that because I had led a “struggle free life” and was happy in my marriage; that I was able to attain a level of joy that she could not, because of the struggles that she has had to endure. The rest of this is for her (and anyone else who may want to read it).

Dear friend, my joy does not come from my husband or my circumstance. I know you say “This is where she starts to preach”. Though I am a “Christian” I am not going to do that to you. What you believe is your own business.  I just made a decision to be happy, because it felt better.

I was the oldest of 5 in a very poor family. My parents lost the 10 acres that we grew up on in Lake Elsinore California; and could not afford to help us with higher education. There were even times that we shared our school clothes. But I was selfish. I made the decision to be happy anyway, because it felt better. Crazy, I know!

I married young and had two beautiful children. (Who are now my best friends) Though I have always dreamed of  having a small farm of my own, it never happened. So I continued to believe in a dream. Believing, somehow just felt better than loosing hope, and I chose to feel better. I guess that I am just selfish like that.

I believed in love, but went through two divorces. I raised my two kids myself, in a house that I bought. I had a job and worked hard to raise my kids. I also worked hard at finding and holding on to joy. One of the secrets that I discovered was that when I did something to help others, it made me feel good. So I learned about sharing whatever my abundance was. We all have an abundance of something, even if it is just a listening ear or a hug.

Steve said that when he met me; he felt sorry for me. I could not understand that. I told him that he was the one who needed rescued; not me. He says that he fell in love with me because of the joy that I seemed to find in everything. I had lots of practice by then, because of that one decision that I had made long ago.

I have never allowed my happiness and joy to depend on who my husband is (or the lack of one), or the amount of money that I have (or do not have). I always thought that the farm was just a make believe place that may never come. Again, my happiness is a choice that I have made, because I like to feel good, and I am selfish like that.

So, if you do not find that you are happy, there is some work for you to do. You could be rich, with a wonderful man; and still be an unhappy person. Find a way to help or encourage someone else, I guarantee that will make you feel better.

In the end…

The dream of this farm has been a very long time in coming. My patience is finally being rewarded. I have a man who truly loves me, I will be a nurse very soon, I will have a hobby farm and I finally have a (some)grandbaby (ies) coming.

May you make the decision to be happy as well.

Your Friend,

Donna

 

 

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More Goats for Us!

 

So, we have talked about goats. I have told you what my plans were. I even promised that I would share each step along the way. I have been pretty patient, I only hope that I have not lost any of my beloved readers along the way.

Now that we have a hobby farm under contract, I have been sharing my excitement with my friends. One of my farmer friends and I got to chatting. His turn to talk. He has two Nubian ladies that he needed to breed in order to re-freshen them. You (my dear reader)may already know that you must breed a cow or a goat every year or so, in order to keep receiving milk from her. When you do this, (year after year) eventually you end up with more goats than you need and find yourself forced to re-home some kids. He is in such a position. He has some kids to re-home. Two of them are little girls.

Sharing Life's Abundance Belle

Sharing Life’s Abundance Belle

My turn to talk. I plan on keeping my Nigerian doe (Bambi), because I love the Nigerian milk. I may even end up with two Nigerians (now that I have a bigger place to keep them). I love this special milk for yogurt, and ice cream too.

I would also like to explore the art of cheese making, but one batch of cheddar takes 2 gallons of milk. That is a lot. Then we would end up with far more whey than I could use.

I have also been talking to other farmer friends who raise pigs by feeding them milk, garden scraps and pasture. But I know that 2-3 qrts of Nigerian milk per day would not be enough to feed a pig. Enter the next step of my plan.

Two Nubian ladies once bred, could give me 2-3 gallons of milk per day. Can you say “Cheese?”

His turn to talk. I (Donna) have some stuff in my backyard that he (my farmer friend) wanted. So we shook hands. He is coming to pick up the stuff this weekend, and his two baby goats will be coming to live with me, once we get moved.

In keeping with the Disney names for my goat herd, we are naming the little girls Belle and Elsa.  Elsa is the white one, nibbling on her brother’s ear. (No Elsa, he only looks like a chocolate goat.)

Sharing Life's Abundance  Elsa

Sharing Life’s Abundance Elsa

 

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