Thursday, August 8, 2013

An Adventure

So... There's something I need to tell y'all. There's been a reason behind the silence here on the blog (you might as well know it now: If it gets quiet here, then something is obviously up), and while I've been dying to share the news with you, I haven't been able to until just today since it hasn't been 100% positive until NOW.

The news? I'll let Bilbo the hobbit share it with you. ;)

Yep, ze' Goat Song (me) is going on an adventure!! More specifically, I'm interning on a small farm in Missouri, come November/December! 

And this would be where y'all hold up your hands and go, "Whoa, whoa, whoa; when and how on earth did this come about!? What about the cows? And the chickens?? And the sweet deal with the local butcher shop?? And what's going to happen to your dog?? And WHY are you going anywhere in the first place!?"

You guys talk fast. Slow down. ;)

This was a bit of an unexpected turn of events for even me, so I can relate to any feelings of surprise you might be feeling. It was right about the time that Ellie died that things started unraveling over here... I may love this farming life, and y'all may love it too, but I sometimes forget that not everyone in the world loves this lifestyle like I/we do. Not everyone in my family likes what I do; not everyone is keen on having dairy cows that start bellowing 2 hours before milking time, or chickens that are constantly wandering onto the front porch, or goats that escape, or pigs that root up the pasture when they're not supposed to... To those of us who enjoy the agricultural life, this is normal stuff; to those who aren't so into livestock, it's an annoyance. In almost every farming book I've read, there's a blurb about how your entire family needs to be on board with your farming dream before you jump in and do it. I have to admit that I wrote this off every time I read it, since I figured it didn't apply to me. "Oh, I don't have to worry about that... My family won't be doing the work!" Lesson learned: It actually does apply. There are still times when I've needed help getting hay, or needed to ask someone to run to Wilco while they were in town and pick up some more grain, or help me capture runaway hogs. Or barring that, you still need the family to be on board with it so that you don't have conflicts when that heifer is in heat and she's bawling literally all night long, or when milking time gets in the way of family plans, or when chicken slaughtering creates more of a mess than you thought it would and you can't get the blood stains off the concrete... 

So I came to a crossroads in life: I either needed to put the farming dream on a high shelf and hope that the dust wouldn't settle on it too thickly before I got the chance to get it back down, or I needed to learn how to get better at this. Much better. I went with the latter idea. And started looking at internships.

I've done this dance before with internships. For three years running I've been trying to do it. It had never worked out though for one reason or another, and I lost hope in the idea. And this time around, I was extremely skeptical that I would even find anything. I could have tried again for Polyface, or I could have tried for a 400 acre sheep ranch in Montana, or I could have tried for a goat dairy in Tennessee, but I didn't do any of those. Nope. I wrote up a very, very specific list on what I wanted in a place to intern at, and then figured that if this was God's will that I leave everything here in Oregon that I've shed blood, sweat, and tears over, then I would find a farm that had every single thing on that list. 

I called it, "My Impossible List"
Okay, so maybe I was a little cynical as well as skeptical...

My list was as follows:
1. Livestock as main enterprise.
2. They have to have dairy cows.
3. No veggie crops; a personal/small garden is fine, but I don't want to be doing acres and acres of vegetables through the summer. (I'm just not that type of farmer... This girl needs livestock)

4. Would really like to be the only intern. Barring that, I want separate living quarters!! (seriously, this was one of the harder requisites to meet! A lot of places make guys and girls share the same house, and some even go as far as bunking in the same room. Oy vey! Nope, ain't lowering my standards to that level!)

5. Farmer's market experience
6. Permission to bring my dog.
7. Permission to borrow a vehicle when needed, so that I don't have to go through the hassle of getting my own.
8. Internet access (Hehe, so I can keep writing for y'all!).

And then I had the "it-would-be-neat-if..." list. Just those "extras" that weren't mandatory. On that list was:
.Cheese making
.Permission to try growing and selling my microgreens there
.Fireflies (yeah, even that went on the list... I would love to be in a place that has fireflies!!)
.Moderately mild winters (Montana, thou art out of the question. I don't know what I'd do with all that snow!)

Armed with my impossible list, I began searching the nation for a farm. My mission was laughable. I'd find a farm that had just about every single requisite of mine, and then I'd find that they wouldn't allow me to bring my dog... Or I'd have to have my own vehicle... Or I'd find that there was the possibility of having to share living quarters with a guy. Sigh... This search was starting to feel hopeless. 

And then one day I found a small farm in Missouri... Reading through their profile, it sounded like they had almost everything on my list. They kept Jersey cows, and sold the raw milk on their farm, as well as caring for their beehives, and running their very small garden, and selling their surplus produce at the local farmer's markets. You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'? Yeah, this place sounds intriguing. So I emailed and asked questions... The two burning ones were if I could bring my dog, and what my living quarters would be. The wife emailed me back promptly and told me that I would have my own personal quarters in an apartment loft, and that I'd be not only welcome to bring my dog, but that my dog could live inside the apartment with me!!! Clincher right there. More questions were asked and answered, and get this: They had every single thing on BOTH of my lists. Every. Single. Thing. All the requisites were covered, and so were all the "extras". I could borrow a vehicle of theirs if I needed to, I had permission to try marketing the microgreens, there's enough internet access to keep up with my writing, and they even get fireflies in the summer time. :) 

I had to laugh when I first realized that I'd be going to Missouri; I haven't always had the best feelings towards that state. So far I've only been there once, and it was something like ten years ago... We went through the southern part of it, and all I remember is it being horribly hot, dry, brown, and flat. My family nicknamed it "Misery". (Sorry, Missourians!). But since then, I have learned that the northern part is really quite pretty (and I've been shown pictures as proof; my most humble apologies to those of you who live there; I take all my teasing back.), and it's a greener area with lots of rolling hills. I'm going to miss my Oregon mountains, but at least there are hills where I'm headed. And fireflies. I'd give up a lot to have the chance to spend a summer in a place that had fireflies. :) I'm also hoping that there might be enough snow in the winter time that I can try making a proper snowman for the first time. Complete with a carrot nose. That's been on my bucket list for years now, and I'd love to be able to cross it off as "done".

So the deal was struck this week, and I'm booking a one-way flight to MO sometime either in mid-November, or the very beginning of December. The goal is to stay in Missouri for a full year, as I'd like to see how they run things from season so season; but we're keeping the stay-length pretty open. If I need to leave sooner than that, then I can.

But wait!? What's happening to all my animals here!? Would you believe me if I told you that they're almost all gone? Yep, I'm down to just a handful of animals, and will continue to whittle the numbers down until I have only three: Darcy and Brown Sheep (the family asked to keep those two since they like their looks), and then Ruby, my dairy heifer. In fact, all that's left for me to rehome now are two of my goats (Summer and Tamarack... Anyone want some goats!?) and then a few rogue chickens (darn broody hens; how was I supposed to know that they were hiding on clutches of eggs??). Everything is calming down over here, and getting quiet... Goat Song Farm is going on a hiatus for awhile, and frankly, I'm looking forward to it. I always wanted to have one good adventure before really settling down to business, and now I'm finally getting to do it. 

Folks, this girl is going on an adventure. Hang on to your hats, 'cause this could get wild...


Anonymous said...

OK....I am so excited for you,and this post brought tears to my eyes for you. I live in Topeka, not too far from Northern Missouri. I will keep you in my prayers. God has certainly been faithful to you. Love it.

Danielle Coiro said...

Woo hoooo!!

Naomi Fournier said...

Wow! This sounds like an amazing adventure! A good friend of mine offered me the chance to work on her farm (she raises Jersey cows in Northern British Columbia), and even said that I could bring my cows along, but unfortunately I'm already working part time as curator at our local museum. So I think that it is really great that you are taking advantage of this amazing opportunity before you settle down to farming full time. I'm so glad that you have an internet connection, because I can't wait to read about your adventures!

maddie said...

Totally jealous. I'll be going out on farms next summer. Need to finish school then I'm outta here! It's good to know dogs are welcome on some farms, that's a must for myself! Enjoy! :)

Illinois Lori said...

That's terrific, and I wish you God's blessings and protection as you intern there!

Anonymous said...

Oh that's exciting!!! A real adventure, I'm so glad you're going to keep up your blog. I have some news for you! Just got to get some pics first =D...

It's a dangerous business, Caitlyn, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.


Brenda said...

As I read your posting, I was hoping that I would see that you were coming here to the Rockin H Ranch as an intern. We have all those things that are on your list and really sounded like your description .... but ... as I read further, I realized that you had found another lovely place in Missouri to intern. I wish you the best of luck and a grand adventure!

FeyWind said...

I am so very excited for you!! It sounds like you've found a lovely location for your internship. If you decide you want more experience on a different kind of farm, someday, look into volunteering with Heifer International ( They have a farm/ranch in Arkansas, Massachusetts, and California - and (in my humble opinion, having spent more than a year volunteering for them) they are wonderful places!

I hope you LOVE your internship! I'm also very pleased to hear that we won't lose your most charming blog for the year. *smiles* Be well! Enjoy the work! Have lots of fun!!

Melanie said...

What town will you be close to? I live in MO :)

Goat Song said...

Melanie, I will be near New Haven. :) What area are you in?

KristyRea said...

What a great opportunity! You won't be too far from us in Oklahoma (compared to Oregon anyways...) : ) You are going to really like seeing fireflies (I call them lightning bugs). As a child we would catch them and put them in a jar- you have to be careful to not squish them.

Goat Song said...

Squishing them is the best part, KristyRea! ;) When I was little, my sibs and I would have "firefly" wars where we'd catch them and squish them onto each other; thus creating glowing children. LOL. I do remember also putting them in jars and using them as "lanterns". :) It's been about ten years since I've gotten to see fireflies/lightning bugs, so I'm looking forward to seeing them again.