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Veterinary 101: Emergency Surgery On A Cow and Tending Baby Piglets

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We’ve been farming for a decade. It is hard to believe. We bought Amelia her first chicks when she was two and we have never turned back. We attempted to raise sheep and decided against that. We even thought we would raise rabbits, but that project wasn’t one that went well. We have thoroughly enjoyed raising chickens and pigs; and this year, we added three cows to the menagerie. 
Because the animals are living creatures, we walk closely and often to the experiences associated with animals living and dying. We’ve lost an  entire flock of baby chicks in one fell swoop to an extremely greedy, hungry raccoon. We’ve lost eggs to snakes, we lost a sick sheep, and we say good bye regularly to our healthy pigs when they are sold and sent to the butcher. No matter what, we love them deeply. 
We are beside ourselves with excitement when new babies arrive and beside ourselves sad when we lose them. Even the pigs that we sell we love and know. One of the kids favorite things to do is name their…

The JUST ONE THING Challenge

The “Just One Thing” Challenge
My resolution list was getting a bit long. Obviously there are several areas in my life that need a little tweaking, adding, subtracting, or multiplying. I like the focus that New Year’s resolutions offer and I’m pretty good at keeping up with my resolves, but I will say that this year, my list is endless. All of the things!  I want to do something to focus on taking better care of the world, better care of the people around me, better care of my spirit, my soul, and my body, better care of my family, and better care of my relationships. I can say "better care" but that isn't specific and can easily slide through the cracks - nice words that don't have a clear action.
In general, nothing we do just happens in an instant. We have to build to achieve. We study, we practice, we train, we save. Each bit adds up. Starting can be hard, but not if we just put one foot in front of the other and at least try. Try to train for a race, try to loo…

Riding Out The Hurricane

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Hurricane Michael hit us harder than we had expected. We knew about it on a Sunday. He grew on Monday, and again on Tuesday. We spent all of Tuesday preemptively cutting down dangling limbs, picking up flotsam and jetsam, nailing down this and that, moving equipment into open space away from trees, collecting gas at stations at weird hours, making sure the generator worked, making sure we had water, food, and supplies.
By Wednesday, we new it was going to hit us and we had to decide whether to stay or go. We watched and waited and weren’t sure what to do. We finally decided to stay. All morning, with the first winds and rain, we did laundry, baked, cleaned, watched the news and watched the trees. 


By eleven, I was ready to GET OUT! This storm suddenly didn’t seem like the sort of a storm to ride out. Big weather stations talked like Tallahassee was going to be flattened, but a local weather man, stayed focused and calm and explained in clear details that the storm was going to do som…

Critical Specimens

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Amelia has a strong sense that if we have animals, they should be producing more animals.. She watches and wishes for her hens to go broody -- but they rarely do. She doesn’t ask for much, but she mentioned the word "incubator" on a regular basis. 
And she is faithful to keep a calendar and watch our giant pig, JP, to keep track of her heat. But, we don’t have a male pig and we don’t have a hen that will brood or an adult rooster. 
As the summer months were ending and school was beginning, we decided it was time to take action. Amelia informed me that it was time.  JP would be in heat in the next few days. Action was required and right now. 
I called our friend Jim Elliot. We acquired JP from Jim and he used artificial insemination to produce piglets from giant JP, so he had wonderful advice on how to order semen from Bill in Iowa and how to make sure she was in heat. She’ll be grunting and make sure she is “standing”. “You won’t be able to push her over with a bulldozer if…

Painting, Baking, Writing, Edible Bugs and a John Deere Tractor

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When my dear friend Abby asked if she could visit our home school day, I was glad to have her come and join us with her two boys Durham and Auggie. I knew, however, even though I had no idea what it would be, we were going to have a wild ride of a home school day.
They arrived and I settled in with the six and under crowd baking banana bread, reading fables and creating our own (or just a story with an animal...), while the older ones settled in to do a bit of painting with Abby. We had a serious groove going. Both dads, George and Micah, were working from the house as well, so we had some thoughtful and creative stations happening all over the house. 


Within an hour of grooving along, George asked, “Elisha, can you make a pot of coffee?” He sort of explained, “Rob is on his way with Monica Martinez, the sculpture and the bug lady…” 
I wasn’t exactly sure what this meant, but I cleaned out the French press and started the kettle to boil while the smell of baking banana bread filled th…

It Just Makes Sense

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We met our neighbor, Byrd when we first moved into the neighborhood. She was quite friendly and eagerly invited us into her home. Not everyone’s house has a name, but Byrd's does. The Lewis Spring House — built by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s just around the corner. For years, we hollered "Hellos!" and popped in a time or two to see the home and chat, always delighted by Byrd’s stories and constant joy for life and people and her community. George Wilder, especially, was enamored by the architecture and he grew quite interested in Wright's work.





Her parents built the house in 1954 - when Byrd was nine. She’s moved back there to live and she, along with hundreds of volunteers are thoughtfully working towards the restoration of the home. Both the house and the grounds have experienced Florida’s tropical push against the orderly. It prefers wild vines, briars, climbing ivy, rot, algae, and decay.

Byrd and the Spring House Institute have gently given space to the wild and r…