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Locks of Love April 30, 2007

Posted by Laura in Family.
10 comments

Rachel and I have been ready for a change.  Long hair has its advantages- you can always pull it up in a ponytail when you don’t have time for anything else and you don’t wake up looking like Einstein- but it can also be a hassle.  It’s hot, takes a long time to dry, and can be a nightmare to untangle (especially if you are prone to eating PB & J’s with gracious plenty J and loose hair!).  The time had come to get summer haircuts.

I have a family member who survived cancer as a child.  While going through treatments, she lost her hair like many others.  Because of this, I became interested in donating my hair to Locks of Love.  This wonderful organization makes wigs for children who have lost their hair due to  a medical condition.

Rachel and I each had tresses reaching past the middle of our backs.  That allowed us to cut off the necessary 10 inches with some to spare.  We showed up at the salon with braids and left with bobs.  Here are some pictures, mostly taken by Benjamin.

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(Even though I have regularly trimmed Rachel’s bangs, she somehow got it in her mind that the haircut may hurt.  While she was eager to donate her hair, she is still a bit apprehensive here).

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(Still worried.)

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(We feel downright “light and fluffy” post-haircut).

Dreaming Small April 29, 2007

Posted by Laura in Family, Farm.
3 comments

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For the past two years, we have way overestimated our abilities with regards to gardening.  We have gleefully tilled up a couple of acres and planted them with all the things we thought we could possibly grow or need.  We had all the standard items plus several unusual or “heritage” varieties, but on a large scale.  We had a 20 x 50 foot section just for melons, but we’ve eaten about 5 melons each year.  The rest the Johnson grass or deer claimed.  Some tasted like cucumbers, too, so the products weren’t worth the effort.

On top of the staples, we’ve been so ambitious as to try to grow our own chicken feed (a large portion of it anyway).  We put in rows over 100 feet long of field corn and sunflowers only to have the deer, raccoons, crows, and doves nearly clean us out in a matter of days.  It’s been rather frustrating.

This year, with an infant to care for again, we are trying to be much more realistic with what we can manage to plant, weed, and harvest.  We would very much like to raise the majority of our food, but we accept that we will have to grow towards this goal as our children get old enough to help more.  We can’t do it all at once while raising small children and working a “city job.”

Since we will not need so much crop space, we had to reseed most of it for pasture.  This was a pretty big undertaking all by itself, especially since we did it manually.  Joe and I broadcast the seed by hand, then the kids and I raked it in and/or covered it with spoiled hay.  That is no small task when you are talking about a couple of acres, a pint-sized less-than-enthusiastic work-force, and an infant who wants to be fed and held frequently. 

Here are a few pictures of one of our “work days.”

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(Benjamin’s favorite part was tearing apart the hayroll with a fork).

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(“Hollywood Rachel” shows off the latest in reseeding attire- striped sunglasses, knit winter gloves, and the ever-present rubber boots.  🙂 ).

 

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(The dogs and cat do what they do best- watch us work from the comfort of the shade).

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(Just getting started spreading hay on a section that seems to go on past the horizon).

 

Benjamin’s Day in Court April 27, 2007

Posted by Joe in Family, Scouts.
3 comments

I mentioned in a prior post that at the very end of last year, we bought a minivan in preparation for Lydia’s arrival. Laura is the primary driver of our new newest ride and I took up driving the Chevy pickup that she used to drive. The old Ford pickup has been converted to the “farm truck”.

During all that automotive shuffling, the Chevy’s registration was due to expire. Fortunately Laura recognized that we may be more than just a little busy during the holiday season and she renewed the tags a full month before they expired.

Unfortunately, though, she apparently placed the new tag at the very bottom of my overflowing inbox (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) so I didn’t put the new tags on the Chevy before the old one expired. In Cheatham County, Tennessee, that’s a sure way to get a ticket the very first time you drive after the expiration date – which is, of course, what happened to me just days after Lydia’s birth. While Beck, Benjamin, and I were returning home from an errand, the blue lights of a State Trooper illuminated my rear view mirror. Benjamin enjoyed seeing the patrol car, the lights, and the trooper. I didn’t.

The fine for such a violation is $151.50. The trooper advised me that if I went to court, I could keep it off my driving record and have the fine waived. I know from a prior experience however that the court costs exceed the amount of the fine.

I decided that I would go to court anyway and take Benjamin with me so he could see our judicial system from start to finish. My only hesitation was that I knew from my prior experience that sometimes the court system is not very happy with people who bring kids into the courtroom. My last time there, a Judge threw a mother out of the courtroom for bringing her three kids, postponing her appearance for another 3 months. He was generally rude and impatient with everyone.

I thought it may be a good experience for Benjamin nonetheless. But I hedged my bets a bit and had Benjamin don his Cub Scout uniform. No Judge would belittle me for bringing a Cub Scout to court for a civics lesson.

On the day of my court appearance, we entered the courtroom. The lady who checked us in, was very nice and even offered to let Benjamin sit up front where he could see the proceedings better. He respectfully declined and sat with me.

As Judge Maxie called driver after driver before him, I could see that he was a fair man and, although he wanted to keep things moving along, he gave each case the consideration it deserved.

Finally my name was called. Benjamin accompanied me to the podium before the Judge. While reading my file, the Judge asked if I had indeed been driving on expired tags; I acknowledged that I had. He asked if I had since registered the vehicle in question. I explained that it had been registered before the citation was issued but that I had failed to attach the tag to the vehicle.

With that he looked up and saw Benjamin beside me. He gave slight smile, looked Benjamin in the eye, and said “I’ll tell you what. If you can recite the Cub Scout motto, I’ll dismiss the charges against your dad.” Benjamin looked up at me and I explained the Judge’s request. Benjamin recited the motto. The Judge struck the gavel and pronounced that all charges have been dropped and the court costs were waived. I thanked him and beamed with a bit of pride over my son. Being completely caught off guard by the Judge’s impromptu request, he came through.

I explained it all to Benjamin as we left the courtroom, telling him that he had just saved me over $150. The least I could do was buy him lunch. We went to Cracker Barrel where he had pancakes with baked apples and a root beer. Later we visited a couple of my clients in town and finally headed home in the late afternoon.

What a great day!

Houdini April 20, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.
4 comments

The goats spent their first night in the henhouse yard.  Joe and I rose before dawn to scrutinize our work on the fence in their pasture one more time before moving the goats.  The entire enclosure is made of woven wire with barbed wire on the outside.  Not long ago, we had added a gate and replaced a rotten corner post, though.  We eyeballed all gaps near the gates and added barbed wire in the spots we anticipated could be a problem.  We also ran woven wire along the gates themselves since they are the long cattle type.  After we were satisfied that we had “plugged all the holes,” we carried each goat down to the pen. 

After the stressful previous day of sale, travel, and sharing quarters with chickens, the goats got down to the business of eating.  We watched for a while, but they seemed content in their new home.  We headed inside for breakfast and the days’ events.

Before long, there was a loud and persistent goat “maaa” outside the window.  We looked out and saw the little white nanny walking past.  Joe and I went outside to return her and she ran to the henhouse when she saw us.  We caught her and put her back in her own pasture.  Then we walked the fenceline all over and tried to figure out how she got out.  We were stumped.  We watched a bit longer, but she busied herself with searching for choice brush.  We headed back to the house.

Not long after, there she was again, in the back yard.  We ran her down and returned her again.  This time, she walked right up to the fence and squeezed THROUGH THE SQUARES in the woven wire and walked off.  Our mouths dropped open.  Now what?  We kept looking at the 8 x 8 squares and back at her.  She slid through there so easily you’d think she was greased!

We had to go and couldn’t continue to play this game, so we put her back in the chicken yard.  There was much complaining at her solitary confinement as we drove away (the chickens are released to forage after a breakfast in their yard).

When we got back, we devised this solution to our problem.

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(Duct tape-  seems like there aren’t many things that can’t be fixed with a bit of that “silver solution”). 

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Ha ha!  We stood back and admired our work.  Let’s see you get out now!

Now, let me say- I really think this WOULD HAVE worked IF we had not been trying to do this in the rain and IF her horns were longer and IF we’d had a better plan about how to apply the tape.  Suffice it to say, Pop is no longer sporting her headgear, BUT she has stayed in the fence.  I believe she simply tired of the goat-wrangling that always followed her escapes. 

Donkeys On-Duty April 18, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.
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I mentioned in the first posting about the goats that we thought we had found a solution to our predator problem, but I didn’t explain what it was. Well, here THEY are.

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(Meet Woody and Buzz, named for favorite characters in the movie Toy Story. They still sport heavy winter coats).

We’ve known that donkeys are useful as guardian animals for a while now, but we’ve had trouble finding any to purchase. By the time we had responded to classified ads, the donkeys had always been snapped up or they were priced beyond what we were willing to pay. Last week, I was finally fast enough and a wonderful older gentleman farmer was willing to hold them for us until we went to get them the following day.

Saturday morning was yucky and rainy. The soccer field was under standing water, so Benjamin’s game was cancelled. Good thing, it turns out, because we had more trouble getting the trailer hooked up to the truck than we anticipated. It has been sitting unused for many months now and the tires had gotten quite low on air. It took a hammer, a screwdriver as a lever, and a whole lot of muscle to get the trailer hitch open. The trailer lights weren’t working either. Well, actually one worked, but not properly. When you put on your right blinker in the truck, the left trailer light signaled.

Once we got the trailer hooked up, we shooed the stowaway chickens out of the cab of the truck (have I ever mentioned how curious chickens are?) and we headed off to Ridgetop. We went the meandering back roads through some beautiful parts of Tennessee and arrived there at noon.

Some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet came out and showed us around. We talked donkeys, old restored tractors, children/grandchildren, workshops, and so on for a couple of hours. They invited us in to visit and apologized for the state of their (spotless) house. I really enjoy talking to older farm folks- you just can’t beat ‘em.

We looked over the donkeys and found out all we could about them. We learned that donkeys should not be bred until at least 2 years old or the mothers may not have large enough frames yet to deliver safely. The farmer also mentioned that gestation is a full 12 months. (And I thought 9 months seemed long!).

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(Buzz kept a wary eye on me while remaining in the shelter of the trailer).

There were 2 jacks and 1 jennet (sometimes referred to as a “jenny”) available, with the parents on site. They all had the same father, so it wouldn’t be a good idea to let them cross. We decided to take the 2 jacks. The farmer had a line of people waiting to buy what we didn’t, so I’m sure the jenny was sold before the day was out.

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(Woody is mostly brownish-gray, but he does have some spots. Before buying these donkeys, I didn’t realize they came in any color but gray. The jenny they had was a lovely dark brown).

We got the boys loaded up and headed back home. I believe this was their first trailer ride, so they were pretty nervous by the time we got home. It took some coaxing to get them out into this strange new place. We’re not sure if they had ever seen goats before either.

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(We were blessed with the gift of this trailer by Joe’s grandfather who no longer keeps cattle. We plan to take it up to the local high school and let the FFA kids do some work on it for us).

Donkeys are known for a strong dislike of dogs. We have kept ours out of the pasture the goats and donkeys are in, but an accidental meeting is inevitable. We expect our dogs will steer clear of those tiny, but powerful hooves after that.

Last night, I caught a neighbor dog breaking into the metal trash can we keep the cat food in, but the goats were unharmed this morning. (The chickens and turkeys are closed into a henhouse at night for their safety). I hope the donkeys will continue to be a good deterrent to would-be goat diners.

A Cast of Characters April 17, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.
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The goats have become pretty tame already, happily accepting tufts of grass, fistfuls of sweet feed, and apples from our hands.  Benjamin and Rachel have spent a lot of time in the pasture talking to them and petting them.  After much discussion (and some arguing), the goats have names.   

Meet…

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Snap!

 

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Crackle!

 

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 Pop!

 

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and ‘Mator.

You probably remember the ad campaign for Rice Krispies that featured the three little elves (Snap! Crackle! and Pop!).  Our little Billy got his name from the Cars movie.  There was a red wrecker truck named Tow-Mator who just went by the last part.  When introducing himself, he would say, “I’m “Mator, like tomator, without the ‘tuh.'”

Greenhorn at the Sale Barn April 15, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.
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For quite some time now, we have been intending to get some goats and/or sheep.  We miss our old horse Gus, we’d like our children to get experiences raising animals of manageable size, and have many acres of pasture going to waste anyway. 

Back in the fall, we thought we had goats coming, but some in the herd came up sick.  Once they were well, I was getting on in my pregnancy and wasn’t sure I could chase down escape artists when Joe wasn’t home, so we passed on them.

Another problem that had us scratching our heads was how to keep the animals safe from predators (the previous owners of our farm had their goat herd wiped out in one night by neighbor dogs).  Our Pyrenees dog Klondike went missing around Thanksgiving, and despite our “LOST” posters and a lot of looking, he never turned up.  After coming up with a solution to that problem, we decided to go ahead with acquiring some kids (baby goats).

Yesterday afternoon, Rachel, Lydia, and I went to the sale barn in Thompson’s Station near our previous house while Joe and Benjamin headed to soccer practice.  We mostly went to watch and get a feel for how much animals go for, how the local sales work, and general education.  I didn’t sit down necessarily intending to purchase yesterday, but had brought one of the trucks just in case.

I’ve heard and read many times that sale barns are iffy places to buy livestock.  Some people try to unload poor and sickly animals on other unsuspecting people.  I didn’t want one of those people to be me.

I was acutely aware of how I stuck out in the assembled crowd.  I was one of only four women and the kids and I had been other places, so I wasn’t dressed in my “farm work clothes.” There I was in my spring-looking pastel blouse sitting amidst old farmers in overalls and faded flannel shirts.  I had a five year old and an infant in my lap to boot.  I didn’t exactly “blend in.”

As the animals were brought in one door, through the auction ring, and out the other door, I noticed some had been temporarily spray-painted with stripes of different colors on their backs.  I sheepishly asked a man sitting behind us what they meant.  He patiently explained how the “grading system” worked, how the animals were grouped, and so on. 

I watched for an hour or so, finally deciding I didn’t feel confident enough about what I would be getting to bid that day.  Then I noticed an Amish family sitting in the back and heard their animals announced as they were brought into the ring.  “Ah-ha!” I thought.  “The Amish folks wouldn’t try to sneak poor, sickly animals into a sale.  I’ll bid on those!”  So, I did.

As the bidding got started, I tried to make sure I understood how the animals were being offered.  I had noticed that sometimes the animals are auctioned at a dollar figure and sometimes they are sold by the pound.  Sometimes you are buying one animal, sometimes you are buying all of the ones in the ring times the price bid.  I raised my hand to signal the auctioneer when the ones I wanted came up and was pleased by the end of the auction to have won one billy and three nannies.

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When the sale was over, I went into the office to settle up and was feeling a bit proud of myself for successfully navigating this new aspect of farm life.  I spoke with the Amish family that brought the goats and found out more about the animals.  I was starting to mentally pat myself on the back for making such good choices.  Just to keep my ego in check, a man stepped up right then and tapped me on the shoulder.  He said, “Excuse me ma’am, but you have manure on your backside.”  Keep me humble.

Before we left the sale barn, I needed to change Lydia.  I had her laid out on the passenger’s seat of the truck as a misty rain began.  I wanted to try to get the mess off my rear end before getting into the truck, so I asked Rachel if she could get it off for me.  What a picture we made- me wiping Lydia’s behind while Rachel wiped mine!

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He is risen! April 8, 2007

Posted by Joe in Faith, Family.
2 comments

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.

~Luke 24:1-9

Happy Easter from the Webbs!

Lydia’s Dedication April 3, 2007

Posted by Laura in Faith, Family.
4 comments

We have been blessed in so many ways since moving to our beautiful slice of creation here in Cheatham County, Tennessee. One of the greatest blessings has been our church around the corner. We have been so loved by these folks and we have grown spiritually under the guidance of a terrific pastor who boldly preaches from the Bible.

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This past Sunday, we dedicated our baby daughter to God before our entire church family, with my mother and one of my sisters standing as witnesses.

My mom made this beautiful (soon to be heirloom) dress and monogrammed slip for the occasion. Her talent is amazing! Photos can’t capture the intricate detail and hand-beadwork on the front. It is simply lovely!

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(Here is a close-up of the front of the slip).

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(The top of the dress is smocked with tiny pearl beads sewn on.  There is lace at the collar,  cuffs, and scalloped hem.  Mom sewed pintucks onto the shoulders and embellished them with French knots.  I can’t imagine how much time she spent lovingly making this dress for Lydia).

Lydia has been going to the church nursery for a few weeks now. At present, she is the only baby on the infant side, so she gets lots of extra love and attention. But she won’t take a bottle. 😦 I send one with milk I pump before we leave, but the ladies working in the nursery come find me when she refuses it and then I nurse her.

This past Sunday, knowing that the dedication would be close to the end of the service, I held off putting her dress on her. I wanted to keep it as clean and unwrinkled as I could before we went up to the pulpit. I dressed her in a hurry as the sermon ended, dearly hoping that she hadn’t grown too big to fit in it since Grams had started making the dress.

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(Check out the “Alfalfa” hairdo- on the baby, I mean 🙂 ).

As it turns out, Lydia waited until it was time for us to go forward to decide she was hungry. She simultaneously felt the call of nature and was squirming to relieve herself. When Brother Mike held out his arms to take her, she had about reached the end of her patience. Joe and I held our breath, waiting for the unmistakable sound of her filling her diaper (recorded on his lapel microphone so all could hear), while watching her turn her head and mouth his chest. I believe that was the fastest blessing Brother Mike has ever prayed over a child!

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(Grams holds a now-contented Lydia after the service. It’s amazing what a full tummy does for one’s disposition! You can see by Lydia’s extra chin and generous cheeks that she is not one to miss a meal).

The great white deer April 3, 2007

Posted by Joe in Farm.
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This morning, I got a slightly better picture of the albino deer. Once again on the left you can see a deer of normal coloring. The deer on the right, needs no introduction.