Monday, January 16, 2017

Why unsolicited advice sometimes is more detrimental than helpful

This has been an issue that plagues me regularly. I'll start by explaining a couple things about me personally.

Years ago, I dreamed of having a farm. I also really wanted to do good and wanted to eventually get to the point where I could work for myself doing something that I loved. I think that part at least is everyone's dream.

So we searched high and low for a house with some land. We spent over a year living in a bedroom at a friends house, while renting a storage unit for our belongings. We lived in that room for what seemed like an eternity. While we lived there, we were also paying rent there, rent on a storage unit, and a mortgage on a townhouse that we had to "stage" so it would sell. We couldn't live in the townhouse because we have large dogs, and large dogs are not conducive to showing houses at all hours. There was frustration as we watched every house we fell in love with sell as we couldn't buy another until our town-home sold. There were tears and heartbreak. It was a very difficult time for us. Adding to that, that was the year we planned and paid for our own wedding. (which is fine, but the timing of everything was enough to make anyone a little nuts) I'd also like to note that during this time, I was also a full time student while working full time.

This is when in every other aspect, my life felt like it had no momentum. While I was working at a million things and dreaming of the freedom of the country house that didn't quite exist for us yet, I read. I read everything I could. Every night, I stayed up for hours reading books, magazines, online forums, blogs, you name it on livestock. I wanted to know everything from diet to land requirements.

 Of course during my searches, everything else under the sun came up too. Much like googling your symptoms when you get sick, a mild cough will turn into typhoid in a matter of mouse clicks.

 I learned that neutered goats are called wethers, and they can't have sweet feed. Sweet feed is a popular feed for goats. If wethers have sweet feed they can get kidney stones and DIE. Horses can colic from ANYTHING and DIE. There is something called white line disease and hoof-rot. There are dozens of different kinds of hay and everyone has a different recommendation. Grain for horses or no grain? Don't feed too much. Don't feed too little. (but everyone's ideas of too much or too little are different) Don't share grooming tools because rain rot. Don't let the hay touch the ground. Don't feed together, don't feed separate. Don't put anything in the pasture within 6 ft of the fence or the goats will get out. Put things for them to climb on in there because they'll get bored and get out. But don't put anything in there because the horse will trip, go lame, and die. Blanket the horse because she is cold. But don't blanket her because she won't ever get her winter coat. Goats cut grass, they don't kill it. but those rascally horses, they kill it. WAIT, or do they?

I still read every night. For at least an hour I seek out someone's opinion. Someone with more experience than me, someone who specializes in goats, or donkeys, or chickens, or horses. Whats the difference between a horse and a mini horse vs a pony and a mini pony?

Please, for the love of everything holy, give me the benefit of the doubt. Don't tell me that I need a bigger pasture. I am well aware. Did you know that the 28 acres of land attached to mine may come available soon? That is what I am waiting on. If it doesn't for some reason, we will obtain acreage elsewhere, but we would rather hold out for the attached land if possible.

If I rescue another animal, and you have something negative to say, instead tell me it is cute and move on. Offer help instead of unsolicited advice. Tell me how you'd like to contribute instead of telling me what I need to do. Tell me you are proud of me for dedicating myself so fully to animals. Tell me that I am brave because often I am terrified of the mythical Typhoid that popped up when I was researching farrier scheduling.
Instead of telling me it is "bad luck" to rename a horse, suggest fun names for her.  Instead of spouting bad omens of renaming, ask me why. Perhaps it is because the mini pony's current name rhymes with the full size horses name. The full size horse is food aggressive. (we are working on that) I can't call one by name and have them both come for feeding time. It is not safe.

I'm wise enough to know that I will in fact never have everything figured out. I will always be learning something. If I have questions, and I often do, I will research and reach out to ask. So thank you to those that are supportive and who bring carrots over. Or show up to help unload a mini-pony. horse... no one knows which.

As for those of you who judge instead of offer a hand, I'm sorry that my glass doesn't seem full enough through your eyes. Its perfect for me.

This journey is mine and it is beautiful.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Our First SNOW DAY!

Snow Day at The Black Sheep Asylum

Today it snowed. So here on the farm we started learning. :) Kaya got blanketed and the animals were much less enthused about the winter wonderland than I was. Being that it is our first winter on the farm we have had to make some adjustments to our routines and have learned a few things. 

Lesson 1: warming the bunny hutch. We have an outdoor bunny. Her name is bunny, creative, I know. She has a little outdoor set up with an enclosed "apartment" up a ramp and a fenced in area on the ground level. Don't worry bunny-lovers, it is entirely fenced in on the bottom as well because we are aware that snakes are opportunists in the summer time and she is a tempting little thing. Whelp, we stuffed her apartment with hay for her to burrow into as well as put plywood sides up on the fencing to prevent drafts. In a bit we will go out and put out a heat lamp for her that is left over from our baby chicks that are no longer babies and have no desire to stay out of the snow. (who'd have thought those birds wouldn't want to hide in their coop) THEIR COOP THAT WE SLAVED OVER AND JUST PUT FRESH DEEP BEDDING INTO. They care not.
Lesson 2: The free straw that we pick up from a local soccer park monthly does not go very far in the winter. Also, it rains here before it freezes in NC so it takes several properly timed layers of straw to be sufficient. The goats, mini donkeys, and horse seem to be satisfied with the current amount though, so I wonder how much of the layers are necessary for them versus how many I want to put down out of over-worrying about them all. I wish I knew what it was like to have fur so I'd have a more accurate gauge. 

Lesson 3: Matilda (the kitten we found under the barn this past spring) hates the snow, but forgets that it is outside the second she comes inside. We have had to fish her out from under the barn (her original hiding space) several times when she bolts out the door to oversee what the humans are doing.

Because I default to the principle of everything can be solved with the right food, The hoofed creatures have all had carrots and pumpkins today, the ones with paws have gotten treats, and the chickens have gotten handfuls of mealworms. 

I am sure I will return to check on everyone at least one million more times, but in the meantime, I fully plan on internet investigating the best place to get seeds for my garden. I've been stalking my fellow farm-type people on Instagram and have been dreaming of greenhouses since I first busted out my array of winter hats.