Happy the Home

Wonder, Beauty and Saturn

We new it would be soon. Upon checking Bluebell in the afternoon we noticed her ligaments around her tail had softened completely and that's usually a sign that the nanny will deliver within 12 hours.

At the evening milking time, 7:30pm, we saw other signs and new she needed to be watched constantly not because she would need our help for the birth but the temperatures outside were dipping into the teens so we sat ready with our hairdryer in hand to dry and warm the little wet bundles. The hours clicked away with her laboring actions like pawing the ground, stretching and arching, laying down and getting up and that staring into space look in her eyes.

During the wait Venice and I sat huddled around the hairdryer ourselves to keep warm. Finally around 12:15AM the first baby came and the second shortly after. Two beautiful baby girls!

Drying a baby with the hairdryer.

Bluebell with her lovely little girls, Wonder Belle and Beauty Belle.

While Bluebell was in labor we noticed that another goat was acting like she too was in labor. Sure enough by 11:00AM the next morning Sissy gave birth to an absolutely gorgeous little buckling. (I'd like to thank Sissy for having her baby in the daytime.) Look at that face!

Carrie named Sissy's baby Saturn because he has so many spots like the planets in the dark night sky.

Saturn was so big and strong he was up and nursing in no time.

I'm glad all the deliveries are in and all is well at Broken Latch Ranch!

Baby Goats to Ski Slopes!

It was three o'clock this morning when I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep. Before we went to bed the girls and I had checked the goats and were certain that Flower would deliver within twenty-four hours. I felt an urgency to check the goats so I got up, bundled up and tromped in eight inches of ice and snow—mostly ice— out to the barn. I could see through a crack in the door a little dark pile stretched out on it's side. My heart sank. A brand new baby in 15 degrees —it's surely frozen, I thought. When I got the door open there was another little dark pile and then movement. Both babies were alive! Flower , a first time mother, had twins on one of the coldest nights and all survived!

I quickly got the hair dryer running and blew them with warm air to warm and dry them while calling home for reinforcements which rallied in no time at all!

The twin girls were given the names Marigold and Morning Glory since their mom's name is Flower.  The smallest one, Marigold,  jumped to her feet and immediately started to nurse but Morning Glory didn't act interested in doing either. It is very important to get the babies to nurse as soon as possible even if you have to hold them to the teat without standing on their own. We tried for two hours to get her to nurse or stand but without success. Finally, we decided to take her home and give her some colostrum we had reserved from a nanny who had lost her babies.

The colostrum did the trick and in about an hour she became the poster child for Avent bottles!

Lovely little Morning Glory!

As much as we wanted to keep her in the house and feed her like a baby it was, of course, the best thing to get her back to Mom and hope that she would accept her after she had been away for some time. She was a little skeptical at first but finally accepted her lovely kid. How could she resist!

The storm nearly brought the town to a halt but not my family—nope! Bad weather brings all kinds of exciting possibilities. My son took off for the woods and walked for miles through the Tigret Wildlife Reserve over frozen bogs riddled with Cyprus trees. And my husband and 16 yr. old decided they wanted to go skiing and snowboarding. Ha! In western Tennessee farm country!

They found a hill and opened their own resort! They call this hill the Crispy Cream run.

What a great day!

...Another Man's Treasure

This was the day our church was going to the nursing home to sing hymns with the old folks. I confess, it's not something I look forward to doing. Even though I'm always glad when we go and we always have a nice time, it's just kinda sad seeing people who were once vibrant with life confined to beds and wheel chairs. You have to wonder, "Have they been forgotten?"

We had a nice sing time and met some really wonderful people who still enjoy a good quality of life. The facility was clean and nice and had a very positive atmosphere and the and likewise the residents were clean and positive.

When we got home the girls and my husband wanted to go hunting for "treasures" in a run-off gulley on our farm—something else I don't care to do. I used the camera to motivate me to enjoy the walk through tall weeds, briars and downed trees.

It wasn't so bad! I avoided getting scratched up somehow and got some pictures of the girls rummaging through the muddy gulley looking for "treasures" which they did find.

While pulling something out of the mud, I heard Venice quote the old saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure!" I had to chuckle—the stuff still looked like trash to me—but oh well, they were having a great time discovering stuff.

As I looked at the dirty old canning jar that Carrie found and the brick that said "BARR" on it that Venice discovered and the cool looking piece of brick that was scorched on one side held proudly by Camille and saw the girls pleased expressions as they showed off their "treasures" I couldn't help but wonder about the "old treasures" around us that go unnoticed every day. Some think that once people get old they cease to have value but how far from the truth! If you will take time to listen to an elderly person, invest time with them you will glean a vast amount of wisdom and you will begin to see the valuable treasures that they are. Many "treasures" are waiting to be found!

Here are two very valuable treasures in my life. My grandparents, even at 98 and 99, have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that they share with me daily. I'm so blessed!

Nature Provides a Plethora of Learning Opportunities...Hmm

I knew the question was coming. I could see the wheels turning after our fourth child asked what "A.I." meant on a goat birthing record she was filling out.

"Artificial insemination," I said acting busy at my desk and hoping she'd let it go. She didn't.

"What's that?" 

Sometimes it's best to just answer the question as matter-of-factly as you can as not to appear nervous or like you're hiding or withholding information. "Well, that's when you buy the billy goat's seed from somewhere else and put it in the nanny goat yourself instead of having a billy goat with your herd."

–Blank stare—

—Confused look—

"How do you do that?" the thoughtful question was asked with a little hesitation.

I had been thinking it was time to have "that little talk" with her but conveniently the time never seemed right. Homeschooling sure has it's advantages (and disadvantages). You can shelter your kids just about as much as you want. They don't, usually, hear about the birds and the bees until you feel they are ready and then you get the "honor" of telling them yourself—when the time is right. (That is an honor, isn't it?)

Again, I answered very calmly and matter-of-factly how that was done without too much detail. She was like, "Cool! We need to do that so we won't have to deal with another obnoxious billy goat!" She was trying to be mature with this new bit of information and I could tell she felt quite honored to be privy to it all. However, I could see the questions building in her young mind and new it was only a matter of days before the questions would surface.

Sure enough only a few days later I had to run a quick errand and she asked to go with me. It would be just the two of us in the car.

"Mom, can I ask you a question?"

—Positive and chipper— "Sure. Honey," I said as I began to gather my thoughts, answers and composure.

—Long pause—

—Uncomfortable glance and giggle—

—Another long pause—

—A deep breath and a short pause—

"Do people breed like goats?" she asked with a a crooked smile and wrinkled up nose.

"Yes," I blurted out! Then quickly clarified, "No, I mean, the dad's don't pee all over their legs or anything!"

We both laughed! The ice was broken and the stage set for a lovely talk about God's beautiful creation of sex.

After my eloquent monolog I could see that expression which cried our, "Really?"

"Trust me, Its' a beautiful thing! When you get older and you are married to the wonderful man that God has for you you will understand completely."

Whew! Four down—one to go!


Our relaxing Sabbath afternoon was about to change into a potentially smelling situation! Upon looking out the window I saw a small black and white creature waddle around the back of the barn and head toward the girls play house.  I didn't know of anything else we could do except to become the "terminator." This was obviously the smelly little thief that had been eating the cat's food in the barn. After debating our options my husband decided to go out and get a closer look. Right!  DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!
Somehow, he and our younger girls got close enough to realize the dreaded little skunk was actually quite friendly. At least he didn't seem to be bothered by their presence.

They tossed cat food to him for quite sometime getting closer and closer until...

they were actually able to pet him! Yes, each of the girls pet the skunk!

My eldest documented the memorable event with a lot of photos. It's not everyday you get to pet a wild skunk!

Maybe you know a "skunk." You know, that person you avoid who just gets under your skin. Or, maybe, they look or smell undesirable. It could be someone new that you are uncomfortable around or haven't taken the time to get to know. Reach out. Give them a chance. They might not be so bad after all. You might learn to love that person for who they are, a precious son or daughter of God. Try it! You might just have an incredible memorable experience too. 

Cold Consequences of Procrastination

The weather was just starting to cool off - it was a perfect time to be outdoors and working with the animals. While reading one of my goat books there was a schedule that said, "Now is the time to prepare the birthing stalls for the expectant mothers so all will be ready come spring." I also felt a nudging to buy heat tape for the water hydrants and to cover the open windows of the barn with heavy plastic. I had wonderful plans but they only went as far as getting the plastic on the open windows. The holidays and travel hit so I figured I would get around to the rest of my list on a warm day -- which hasn't arrived yet. And from the looks of a couple of my does, they may not be waiting until spring! My hormonally-charged Billy broke in with the girls while I was away... And, well, the rest is history! We don't have a due date for them, just watching the signs.

My daughter used me as a ladder to hang the heat lamps. I deserve it!

The other day while my daughters and I began to muck-out and prepare the birthing stall in 11 degree temperatures I remember those promptings early in the fall to PREPARE! My body was so cold that even if I kicked myself I wouldn't feel it!  I do believe I have learned my lesson and I hope my daughters will remind me of this in the future so it won't ever be repeated! I wish I could sit in my toasty warm home and sip a cup of tea knowing that all is well in the barn instead of doing back breaking work in below freezing temperatures as well as hauling water from the kitchen for the animals because I also put off getting the heat tape and now there is no more left in my area... I'm told there is a nationwide shortage... I'd like to kick myself again for that!

I'm reminded of five young ladies that were also not ready or prepared for an important event. Their lack of preparedness had far worse consequences than just working outside in freezing temperatures, it cost them the joy of being at the wedding supper. It cost them eternal life. They had loved the Groom but not enough to carry the "extra" oil needed. They did not have the character of Christ which comes from the changing power of the Holy Spirit (the oil). When the Bride Groom came they could not borrow from their wiser friends who were prepared. "Character is not transferable. No man can believe for another. No man can receive the Spirit for another. No man can impart to another the character which is the fruit of the Spirit's working."(Christ's Object Lessons)  Character is revealed in a crisis. Let us not procrastinate to receive Christ and be changed into His likeness. When Jesus comes I want to receive Him ready and with joy proclaim, "This is my God, I have waited for Him and He will save me!"

What to do With Dog Hair

What once was a bother has become a blessing. You've heard of the old saying, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Well, here's a new one, "If your dog sheds everywhere, make a sweater." That's what my daughter decided to do. With a Corgi and long-haired mix breed in the family it was a constant chore keeping the fur cleaned up — never ending and virtually impossible is more like it!  That is until we decided to invest in a couple of Furminators.  That helped with the shedding-all-over issue a lot but after ending up with a bucket full of fur my eleven year old couldn't bear to throw the lovely, fluffy stuff away.  Thanks to Google she learned how to turn that pile of dog hair into yarn and is eagerly keeping the dogs brushed to collect enough fur to crochet herself a shawl - or something.  (Just a note: Dog wool is 8 times warmer than sheep wool.  Products made with dog wool are actually quite expensive.)

The process:  First she washed the dog wool, then she let it dry.  She carded it to get all the fibers going the same direction, then she used a hand spindle to spin it into yarn.  After setting the yarn she was able to crochet with it.  (This was her first experience with spinning anything into yarn —very educational and not really extremely difficult either.)

I took some pictures through the experience like any good mother would.

The furry pooches.

The Fur has already been washed, dried and carded.


Setting the yarn with hot water and a good beating.

A ball of dog wool yarn.

Crocheting with dog wool.


Crispy Kale Addiction

I am addicted and I'm not ashamed to say it!  For almost a year I've been trying to get around to making a recipe for Kale Chips that my mom gave me.  Either, I would forget or Kale would be out of season.  Well, this week I finally did it and boy am I addicted.  I've made them everyday since and am getting ready to go outside to pick more Kale to make some again today.  It is so easy and so nutritious and wonderfully tasty.  My six and eight year olds and I were scrambling for them as soon as they came out of the oven.  It was a real hit with my husband also.  Now, I must confess that we, all of us, are big greens lovers.  We crave them!  But someone (kids or adults) who doesn't really care for cooked greens, might be pleasantly surprised to find out that eating your greens could taste so good

All you need to do is:
Pick your own kale (or buy some at the store).

Wash about 1/2 pound of curly kale (ribs removed) dried well and torn into 2-3 inch pieces.

Toss the leaves in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (I would like to experiment with a little garlic or cayenne also) and put on a cooling rack that is placed on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 250 degrees F for 20 minutes or until totally dried and yet still bright green.


Sinking Self

Some years ago when my oldest child was learning about "buoyancy' in her science class she was required to do some simple experiments in the kitchen using different types of objects to see how well or if they floated.  At the same time she was also doing experiments that demonstrated "surface tension."  We had fun doing these experiments together and talking about them.  It was at this time that we came up with the idea for our "Sinking Self" jar.  The purpose of the jar was to encourage good behavior and respect in the home.  I used a gallon jar which the kids decorated with different words expressing obedient and respectful responses like, "Yes, Mom", "Okay", "Yes, Dad", etc...  We filled the jar about 3/4 the way full with water and put a few drops of blue food coloring in it to make the water easier to see and floated an empty, clear plastic cup on top of the water.  Then, as I noticed times when one of my children suppressed self to obey Dad or me or share with a sibling or do something to help another, etc... I would tell them to put a marble in the plastic cup.  As the plastic cup got fuller and fuller, of course, it began to sink deeper and deeper in the water until the final marble would send it to the bottom of the jar.  At this point there was much rejoicing because we had already set up a reward to celebrate the sinking of the "self" cup; going to the zoo, Childrens Museum etc...  We used the "Sinking Self" jar for quite a few years.  It is a great visual motivator for young children.  I think it's time to resurface it for my second wave of youngin's!
(Just a note:  The three cups around the large jar each contained a different color of marbles for each child.  They liked to take notice of how many they had contributed to the "self" cup.  What's interesting is that my more "strong willed" child would often times have more marbles in the "self" cup, probably because he was also the most competitive.)

Sermon Picture Journal

I was wanting my 6 year old and 8 year old to start developing their listening skills in church.  They always sit quietly on the pew and doodle so I thought I would encourage them to doodle about the sermon.  I made each of them a small "Sermon Picture Journal" where I gave them a place to write the name of the sermon, the name of the speaker and the date. (They can copy this info from the bulletin.)   Also, I put common words they could listen for like Jesus ... etc. for them to keep a tally if they wish.   Then I framed the rest of the page to be used to draw what they are hearing. 
We go to a small church so we just leave the journals in the pew for each week, then I encourage their involvement in the rest of the service: singing, prayer, childrens story.  When the sermon starts they are able to take out their journal and begin to listen for something they want to illustrate in picture.  They are only allowed to use one page front and back, if need be, and I only provide each of them a pencil.  (I've found that colored pencils, crayons or markers are more of a distraction in church.) 
I'm a little surprised at how successful it's been.  Sometimes it's hard to hold them off until the sermon.
You can print your own by clicking on the  "Sermon Picture Journal" and "Sermon Picture Journal Cover" below.  I set up my printer to print two pages per page and then printed about 50 pages.  Then I took them to Kinko's and had them cut them into two journals and bound along the top with a spiral binding.  They also put a clear front and stiff back on it.  They turned out real nice.
"Sermon Picture Journal"
"Sermon Picture Journal Cover"

Recent Posts

  1. Wonder, Beauty and Saturn
    Thursday, March 06, 2014
  2. Baby Goats to Ski Slopes!
    Monday, March 03, 2014
  3. ...Another Man's Treasure
    Thursday, February 27, 2014
  4. Nature Provides a Plethora of Learning Opportunities...Hmm
    Sunday, February 23, 2014
  5. Skunk!
    Thursday, February 13, 2014
  6. Cold Consequences of Procrastination
    Thursday, January 30, 2014
  7. What to do With Dog Hair
    Wednesday, October 16, 2013
  8. Crispy Kale Addiction
    Friday, October 29, 2010
  9. Sinking Self
    Sunday, October 24, 2010
  10. Sermon Picture Journal
    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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