Friday, November 29, 2013

{maria moments}

In honor of her birthday we have a year of Maria Moments...

December 2012 :: Whale Watching

January :: Archery Cousins, with Izzy

February :: Winter Beach Day

March :: California Screamin'!

April :: CandleLight and Garden Mint

May :: A Happy Mother

June :: Max, William, Maria, Great Grandmother Eunice, & Alex

July :: Big Island Girl

August :: Back to School

September :: Riding with Mister Washburn Foo

October :: No Words!

November :: Lucas, Max, Bambi, Alex, William & Maria :: Wild Animal Park

Maria, every day, every single day, you are a joy. We love you... your enthusiasm, your curiosity, your diligence, your kindness, your dances, your interests, your willingness to try new things, your work and play, your thoughtful consideration of the world and all living things. We love that you are here with us, so we can enjoy everything you do. Happy Birthday, Love.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bird House & Barn

... a Farm Report

Here's a moment at the start of our weekend project, when we added pavers to the goat yard.

Ada and Tasha wasted no time testing out the warmth and stability of the pad Geoff was laying out. This first pad was just to see what pattern he wanted to create, but right away we could see they were most appreciative.

Are you noticing the missing siding on the goat cottage? Right. I was going to repair that, wasn't I? Well, either I am lazy or ingenious, and let's be honest sometimes those two characteristics are closely tied! The goats love situating themselves in their cottage so they can peer out and keep everything in sight, while still being sheltered. So, what seemed like a problem is perhaps a solution. I propped their door shut, so they have three walls (I promise to make a prettier fix for this, soon) and otherwise the new opening in the cottage is simply a goat initiated design choice.

I am thankful for Tasha Tudor Goat.

I am thankful for the beard on her chin, the white hair that accentuates her smile, and the look of sheer bliss she gets when we brush her.

I am thankful for Ada Lovelace Goat. I am thankful for her kind face, her wooly coat, for how patiently she waits when Tahsa is hogging the brush.

No eggs! Any day now. But so far they don't know a nest box from a stump. Today I am going to post a notice for those hens, because while the calendar tells us that their egg laying days are nigh, they don't seem to have received the message!

In the goat's cottage... they appreciate the open floor plan, too.

Gee wiz, it looks like I interrupted a private meeting. Moments before, they were clucking in hushed, conspiratorial tones. Could they be organized?!

Here come the tools! Tasha and Ada love-love-love tools, and helping with projects. They always have!

The chickens... they love-love-love the goats's food. And the bunnies love the goat's food, and the chicken's food.

And the goats love ALL the food!

Thompson, Thomson, or Tamsyn.

I am thankful for my chickens. Chooks, chicas, hens, biddies, feathered ladies, dodoes. They make lovely sounds, and funny sounds. They are flighty, and boisterous, inquisitive, and curiously clever, yet wholly daft. It's charming.

I am thankful for this safe space for our animals, for the fall weather, for bales of alfalfa or Timothy hay, for the easy way the bunnies, goats, and chickens live together.

Geoff. I am thankful, everyday. Sigh. I'll thank him some more, later.

Our eight years & three-hundred and fifty-nine days old daughter.

Gratitude proclamations always make me feel a bit uneasy, because I worry about leaving someone out, or overstating one gratitude, while understating another. I gush and gush over goats and chickens, and what?! Nothing about my children, or peace on earth, or the polio vaccine?! Well, trust me I gotta a whole lotta thanks in me for everything good and wondrous, and blessed, and even silly and confounding. My cup runneth over, my heart bursts. All the feels. I cannot say enough, so sometimes I say nothing at all.

Not a word.

Just a smile across my face, and a willingness to go out into the cold, wet, dark, flashlight in hand, to catch a runaway rabbit and bring her home. Ahem.

Sometimes our gratitude, our affection, shows in what we do. Right, Inara?

Here are more Bird House & Barn moments...

Happy Thanksgiving!
We send warm wishes,
and our thanks to you for sharing these moments,
for connecting with us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

One Big Happy Unexpected Family

Upstairs, down the hall, through one room, and into the library. I love naming spaces, giving them a sort of upgraded status through nomenclature. Our "shed?" No, it's a barn. Our "backyard?" No, it's a farm The "garage?" We call it the workshop... well, no, actually we call it the "garage," but the carport is for sure a workshop. They say we should not judge a book by it's cover, and I think a space can be more than we expect, especially if we give it the star treatment, raise our expectations, and make believe a bit. The long, dark, narrow and cramped space upstairs... oh, yes, that's our library.

Spaces can be more than we expect, books can hold more than what we see on the cover. No one should be pigeonholed or typecast... it limits the possibilities. I like to keep my mind open when it comes to people... what they might do, who they can be, what they will strive for and succeed with. It's such a great experience to observe a child challenging themselves with something unexpected, trying something new, and it would be a huge loss if we didn't keep the hope of potential open, if we didn't raise our expectations, and even make believe a bit. We make believe we have a library, and it is a library. We imagine our shed is a barn, a summer house, a fort, a castle, a snowed-in cabin, and it is.

Lisa Rogak contacted me, and asked if I would like to see her new book...? it has chickens in it, after all! Lisa Rogak is a New York Times best selling author, and her newest book is One Big Happy Family: Heartwarming Stories of Animals Caring for One Another.

"One Big Happy Family contains 47 inspiring, true tales of interspecies adoptions, some between animals that are normally considered predator and prey, like a cat adopting chicks and a foxhound nursing a litter of fox kits. other combinations are just out and out weird, like a labrador and a baby hippo, a chicken and her puppies, and a rabbit and a kitten, while more "conventional" combinations include a dog and a kitten and a cow and a lamb."

How could I resist?

About as soon as the book arrived, Maria and I were utterly smitten, and engrossed. With every turn of the page we were sighing, and marveling at the warmth and love that animals share. None of us is untouched by a mother dog with her puppies, a hen with her chicks, but what happens when we see the unexpected in an animal? How about a hen that helps raise a litter of Rottweiler puppies? Picture a male boxer named Billy taking a kid under his wing? One Big Happy Family is full of these stories, these true stories, of all kinds of unexpected families, brought together by a willingness of animals to try something new, to reserve the judgement, and just love. Do they make believe those cute chicks are kittens, do they simply not judge at all? Every story is unique, every combination is a surprise. And it all reminds me how great it is to keep our expectations high, to let new possibilities develop... it works with spaces, books, people, and animals, too.

Oh, yes, there was a lot of sighing and cooing, and emotional elation coming from me and Maria, and we had to share each new story with anyone within earshot. But, I'd like to add that beyond the cuteness, the undeniable adorableness of these adopted families, like a dog who stays home to raise his flock of chicks, the stories are genuine, thoughtfully shared, not overly simplified. The cuteness is from the honest moments, the sincere telling of these interesting and compelling choices made by these animals.

I am so glad Lisa Rogak offered to send us this copy of One Big Happy Family. It's an uplifting book, cute and funny, too. Seeing those animals behaving so generously, and with such open minds and hearts is compelling, inspiring. I like that this is a book a small child can enjoy, someone Maria's age can reflect on and appreciate, and that it's engaging for me, too. No one is paying me, or twisting my arm to say this, honest: I can think of all kinds of friends, children, teens, and adults who would love One Big Happy Family.

Five Good Things

Here are Tasha and Ada Goat, feeling sunny, bright, thankful, and content. Such smart girls. It takes so little to make them smile. They love to run around with us, find good things to eat, they love being brushed and scratched. They like getting in out of the rain, and climbing. They don't fret over last week, or what anyone thinks of their middles. They have no regret over their indiscretions... whatever those are! They seem to understand that life is about making friends, leaping for joy, singing out loud. At least, that's what I believe those dear girls know. It's the lesson I want to take away.

Good Things...

1. We unpacked our library... the narrow hall upstairs, lined with bookshelves, is looking tidy and has been cleared of boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of donations, trash, and recycling. Ahhhh... the relief!

2. Geoff paved a nice pad for the goats, so now they can enjoy some mud-free space.

3. We are right in the midst of my favorite season, and days away from a favorite holiday... and all of the beauty, music, anticipation, gratitude and warmth of this time of year has me feeling deeply, truly, unabashedly good.

4. Maria is about to turn nine years old... she's walking around the house in a pirate outfit, a sort of dress rehearsal, and she's as happy as a goat in the sun!

5. Alex and Mitchell are launching a clothing company! Maker Threads is the business they have been developing since last spring, and Alex has been hard at work designing amazing graphics for their t-shirts. Amazing! Their clothes are geek chic, and tout the merits of the maker culture with unique emblems and insignias that represent the skills and interests of crafts people, engineers, homesteaders, hobbyists, artists, and musicians. Links and photos, soon... I promise!

Are you in a holiday mood? What's good?