Thursday, December 24, 2015

On Hold For A Little While

  I think I can honestly say that I have tried everything to get my internet up and running as it should. But despite my stubborn efforts, said internet refuses to be steady! So much to my dismay, I need to announce that the blog will be on hold for just a couple weeks. I may still manage to get a post in, here and there, as the internet allows; but the daily posts and the newsletters may be few and far between for a bit.

  But I promise that it's only a couple weeks! The Man and I are moving back out to the farm on the second week of January, and then I'll *finally* have steady internet to continue writing! Woohoo! 

  This also means the e-course will be rescheduled, which is a disappointment to me... But it's a necessary decision. Although, I guess this gives you more time to save up for it, so maybe it's a win for you?

  Take care, okay guys? I'll be back as soon as I can! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Travis Owen

  If you haven't figured it out by now, yes, that's his name. Although I admit to calling him "Small Mailman" more often than "Travis"... (nickname gets a nod towards Pixar's movie 'UP' in reference)

 My apologies for the silence! Our internet server had problems that took a week for the company to fix! Oy vey. I *think* it's good to go now, but only time will tell...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Launch Postponed -- Due To Baby!

Early bird registration for the 'You Can Succeed' e-course has been postponed for just a couple days, due to lack of internet here, and a newborn baby!!

 Yep, the little man himself *finally* decided to make an appearance! I will post pictures shortly; once I have enough time and internet to do so... His arrival was December 10th, at 8:30pm. T'was a long... Long... LONG labor. Ugh. Fourteen hours all total, and he came out at 9 lbs. even, and measuring 21" long. All I could think of during the labor was that 1) He was NEVER going to come; 2) That I was surely going to perish from the pain; and 3) If I survived, then I wanted a really greasy cheeseburger ASAP. Yes, I was having cravings even while in labor. Don't judge. 

48 hours later, I'm slowly starting to figure this whole "mama-thing" out. It's taking time, and I'm pretty exhausted from it all, but he's a cute (and pudgy!) little fellow. Hubby and I think we'll keep him... ;) 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

E-Course Teaser! Registration Opening Soon!

   Look at what's about to be launched!! I am beyond excited to be able to share this opportunity with you, and think it will be an absolute blast! So if you're ready to have a successful and profitable small farm, then this is for you! If you're ready to take your existing farm enterprises to the next level, then this is for you! If you're just starting out, and still not sure what you should sell in your area, then this is for you! If you want to increase your business skills, while being able to interact with a group of like-minded folks, then THIS IS FOR YOU!

  Web link to the e-course will be going live in the next day or two, and we will be celebrating the Early Bird Registration with a giveaway! So don't get too far off!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Kulning + Why The Name "To Sing With Goats"

  When people hear my blog name, their first reaction is always, "Well that's an interesting name. Where'd that come from??" I always struggle to explain it a little bit, since it's rather a complex reason. Or more correctly, there are multiple complex reasons. But this is today's post; a history lesson, and why I chose the online alias of "Goat Song"!

  It started out pretty innocently. I had Nubian goats. Those of you who have also owned this breed will most likely smile and nod in understanding. Those of you who haven't... Well, allow me to let you in on a not-so-secret fact: Nubians are LOUD! Very loud. They're talkative drama queens who never miss an opportunity to vocalize their opinion on a matter, no matter how big or small. This trait can either be endearing, or a nightmare, depending on your level of tolerance. For the most part, I found it endearing; my family however, considered it the latter choice and made many a complaint over the years about the noise. I couldn't do anything to make the goats be quieter, so I would usually end up simply winking and saying that the goats weren't being noisy; they were singing! I had myself a whole herd of talented, singing goats! Granted, this quirky explanation never soothed the family members' annoyance, but it started the path of a herd name...

  Along with being loud, Nubians are also dramatic. I had a first freshening, two year old named 'Ivy' who absolutely refused to settle down on the milking stand. She screamed, bucked, rolled her eyes like a wild mustang, held her milk back, kicked, and whatever else she could think of to let me know that she was most unhappy with the situation! At my wits end, I tried singing to her one day. Ivy had no idea what to do about this strange happening, and froze. Five minutes later, I finished milking her; she hadn't moved a muscle in that time, and I was hooked. Singing in the dairy parlor would now be mandatory! Ivy never did misbehave ever again after that day, as long as I sang the exact same song every time it was her turn.

  As time went on, each goat got her own song; they picked it, not me; I'd just go through the list of ones I knew until eventually I figured out which one made them let their milk down the fastest. Ivy's favorite was "Skellig", Capri liked "The Ballad of the Highwayman", Heidi refused to be sung to and had to be quoted Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" (she always was strange..). On and on it went. Every goat had a different song. After awhile, I referred to them as my "goat songs".

  My goat singing went up a notch upon finding an old, barely-read book at my local library. It was called, 'Sing The Cows Home; the remarkable herdswomen of Sweden'. Boom. Total game changer right there. The entire book was a historical account of the amazing Swedish women called "Valkulla" (plural form is "Valkullor"), who, every summer would take their goats and cows high up into the mountains to graze. No men were allowed to come up (except young men on Saturdays, to court the single ladies), and the women and animals stayed up there until the frost drove them back down to the villages. It was the sole job of the women to care for the dairy animals, collect enough summer grass, fall leaves, and pine boughs to sustain the animals over the winter, plus make enough cheese and butter to keep her family from starving during the cold months.

  These women were the bees knees, let me tell ya'. Every morning, after milking, they would simply let their animals loose to roam the vast hundreds and hundreds of acres of pasture and black forest. No shepherd or milk maid accompanied the animals, as the women had work to do. Come night fall, every woman would stand at the edge of her cottage and call her animals home via a high pitched song called "Kulning". A difficult talent to acquire, girls would begin training their vocal chords for this once they turned thirteen years old. By the time they were eighteen (old enough to begin caring for animals of their own), they could sing at a pitch that was 3 octaves above Middle C, and could be heard up to 6 miles away! Each woman had a different song, so that the right animals would go back to the right home. Tales are told by the men of the haunting sound of so many different songs ringing down from the mountains... Alas, the story isn't always romantic; at the time of the Valkulla, the black forest was still a dangerous threat and filled with wolves and other terrors. If a goat or cow didn't return at the sound of the valkulla's song, then she had to go into the dark forest, at night, by herself, and find her animal/s. Many a woman was either killed and eaten by wolves, or died from accidentally stepping into a quicksand swamp.

  The story of these brave women intrigued me, and I began learning to kuln. I never got very good at it, but could eventually get my voice to carry a good 1/4 to 1/2 mile, and my goats learned to come running when they heard the song. My goat song.

  If you've never heard what kulning sounds like, then here's a great starter clip! (this gal also has three other amazing sound clips on Youtube). There are never any words; just the rising and falling of the voice. Some think it strange, but I find it quite beautiful.

  The singing with my goats continued over the years. They sang to me from the pasture, I sang them home for morning and evening chores, and then sang to them again during milking. In the online world, I became known as "the girl who sings with goats", or "that goat song girl", and the names stuck. I was Goat Song. And I named my blog 'To Sing With Goats' in honor of the ancient tradition of mixing melody with milking. 

  When I sold off the goat herd and moved to Missouri, I often thought about changing the blog name. Maybe instead calling it something that didn't seem so exclusively "goat"... I considered many an idea for two solid years, but finally came to a decision: This place will always remain 'To Sing With Goats'. Not just because of a single girl who fanatically sang to her herd of caprines. But because of the broader scope of what it stood for. The blog name is in honor of the Valkullor; some of history's most determined women who farmed. And that is a key interest for me today: Women who farm.

  If they can do it, we can do it. 

  We sing our cows home. We sing our goats home.

  We carry on the legacy. May the songs never die...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Why There's No Post On Sunday

  I've gone back and forth about posting on Sunday, but in the end decided to not post (wait a minute! I'm posting on a Sunday right now! Good heavens, I make no sense...). Primarily because I want/need a day off to keep me from burning out, but also because I'm already writing content on Sunday via 'The Newsletter'... Bum, bum, bum BUUUUM!! <----- Dramatic music

  The newsletters come on Sunday mornings, and always have content that isn't found on the blog. It's the "exclusive club" of this place, if you will. In the newsletters I generally write about what's going on, on the farm right now (or is in the works), I give a practical tip that you can implement on your own farm (this week's tip was preventing/treating frostbite on dairy animals!), some super-cool thing that I've found online and is farm-related (like today's homestead planner pages!), and then a random note of some sort that can be just about anything. Newsletter subscribers also get sneak peeks at upcoming blog projects (could it be possible that I'm about to release an interactive e-course!? Only subscribers would know or not! *Gasp!*), discounts on products, first dibs on offerings... I should stop here, before y'all get jealous. Wouldn't want that, now, would we? 

  You might have seen the popup offer on your screen come up once, with the offer of receiving a free weekly newsletter. That offer is only supposed to come up once so as not to be an annoyance (and because I'm not clever enough to figure out how to make it appear more times than that), so if you saw the offer, missed it, and now you're thinking you might want to try it after all... Then today's your lucky day!! Here's a chance to sign up!

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Pinterest Link-Up: Natural Livestock Care

  This week's link-up is a fun collection of some natural livestock care tips! In the past, I've always stuck to using dried herbs, infusions, and tinctures on my stock, but I plan on using essential oils on a much more frequent basis this spring...

1. Farm Apothecary {Courtesy of 'Homestead Dreamer'} 

2. Essential Oils On A Farm {Courtesy of 'The Paleo Mama}

3. Essential Oils for Natural Chicken Care {Courtesy of 'Backyard Poultry Magazine'}

4. Preventing And Treating Frostbite Naturally {Courtesy of 'Fresh Eggs Daily'}

5. Herbal Remedies for Common Pet and Livestock Ailments {Courtesy of 'Frugally Sustainable'}

6. Natural Goat Care {Courtesy of -- Um, ME! Is that considered arrogant to share my own post?? Hmm, I'll have to think about that...}

Friday, December 4, 2015

Any Day Now

  Today is my "guesstimate due date" for this wee little babe. And the exact date that I came to Missouri on for a dairying internship, two years ago. I'm finding this fact amusing and rather ironic.

 Two years ago today, I landed in a state completely unfamiliar to me, 1,900+ miles away from home and family. My worldly possessions consisted of two small suitcases of clothes, a laptop, and my trusty dog. I intended to stay in this state for 6 - 12 months, learning the fine details of running a farm business (and how to garden, make cheese, and keep bees) before moving on to another state. That was the plan, anyway.

 On December eighth, 2013, just four days after getting settled on the snowy farm, HE showed up. The young brother of my internship host. Three and a half years younger than me, and with the looks and personality that made pretty much every girl in the county swoon, this young buck decided that of AAAAALLLLL the girls he could possibly go for, he wanted me; the odd, secretive farm girl who hailed from Oregon. 

  I wasn't interested. At. All. But that didn't phase him in the least. He just tried harder.

  And yes, y'all know how THAT ended. He got his prize, we got married 11 months after meeting each other, my "6-12 month internship" turned into becoming family, and now here we are: In the midst of living our "Happily Ever After", we've landed on the 2nd anniversary of my coming to Missouri, and I find myself quite heavily pregnant! Life is strange, my friend... Life is so strange. You never quite know what will happen, and where it'll take you.

  I am 41 weeks pregnant, today. And I feel every bit of it. The last 24 hours have been nothing but solid contractions, which have been bearable but leaving me with the feeling of having been hit by a bus. Not cool. Until my water breaks though, I'm to stay put here at home; more specifically, I'm supposed to stay put on the couch. Which, all things considered, isn't such a bad gig. Until I look at the dishes that need to be washed... Oh well. They'll get washed eventually. Today I am dutifully following orders and staying on this couch with my chocolate chip cookies, raspberry leaf tea, and all the online articles I can find on keeping water buffalo (raise your hand if you start mentally singing Veggie Tale's silly song at the mention of these critters). No, I don't know what's up with the water buffalo idea either. It just came to me this morning and I decided I needed to research them. And -- email a dairy in CA to ask how much their bottle heifers are. *Cough, cough* Did I just say that out loud? Pretend you didn't hear/see that! 

  But seriously... WATER BUFFALO. 

  AAAAAAAANNNND back to the original subject. Ahem. Sorry guys; "pregnant brain" makes me rabbit trail something fierce! Hopefully it'll go away soon, seeing as this small person is running out of room in his current living quarters and needs to come OUT! But then, I guess it might just get worse. And if that's the case, then hang on to your hats, folks. Blog posts might start to get reeeeaaally interesting.

  I'll keep y'all posted on what's happening, and when the little man *finally* makes an appearance! He's due any day now. Any... Day...

  For now though, I think I shall go back to my research on the imposing water buffalo.

  Just smile and nod, my friend. Smile and nod.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Logical Dog Lover

 The past couple of days have been a bit heavy for me as I've gotten back into the writing world and have been given the jolting reminder of what people can be like through social media. The same people who might politely hold their tongue when talking to you face to face, may be fire-and-brimstone hurlers when hiding behind a computer screen.

  Over the last month and a half, I've had an idea brewing that I wanted to try. I wanted to work with a English Shepherd breeder, and together we would raffle off a pup here on the blog. The perks to this idea were that the breeder would have a pup sold, get some free publicity, and maybe get a waiting list down for future litters. The English Shepherd breed would have gotten some much needed limelight, which was my main focus; I love this breed, and wish more people knew about them! I know of no other breed that is as intelligent, useful, or unique. The only perk I hoped for myself was maybe a few new readers. I wasn't in it for the money at all. I just wanted to make someone happy, when they found themselves the new owner of a working farm dog to help them with barn chores.

  Now, I am not stupid. I could easily see that there could be some bad outcomes of this idea. The pup might go to a bad owner, or a pet flipper, or what-have-you. But I figured with some very careful rules and guidelines, we could pretty well avoid the kind of people we didn't want.

  I got all the details written out; hours of evening work, scribbling away with pen and paper. My goal was to start the raffle at the beginning of December, and pick the raffle winner on January 1st. It took me days upon days to find the courage to put my little brainchild of an idea up on the English Shepherd Breeders Facebook page... I don't believe one knows true vulnerability until they've tried handing over their writing to the public. The public tends to have very sharp fangs. But I did it anyway. My plan was sound, the idea was fun, and someone would be blessed with a young farmhand to start their new year with.

  Three hours after posting my idea on Facebook, I deleted it. In frustrated, emotional, hurt tears, I took it down.

  The public has very sharp fangs.

  "Dog people" are an interesting breed of human. And I had forgotten just what they're like. The breeders, whom I had gotten to know over a year of being a member, were mortified and disgusted that I would even think of doing such a thing. They accused me of exploiting the breed and wanting to turn it into something as common as a Labrador. They claimed I was unfit to own an English Shepherd, if I thought we could simply give a puppy away without doing a home check first. And went on and on about how "their" breed was much too precious to share with the public. They call these dogs "the farmer's best kept secret", and couldn't understand why I would want to expose the breed to publicity.

  Trying to maintain my politeness at their harsh condemnations, I replied with an apology at bringing the idea up, and that I would wait until I had pups of my own to hold such a raffle.

 That comment only fanned the flames instead of diffusing them. Breeders who I had been working with to reserve a spring pup banned me from their wait lists. The comments became more abusive. The core message from them all was that I am not fit to own a dog because I am willing to give one away to a person who needs one.

 I love dogs. Always have, always will. All animals are special to me, but there is something that feels particularly right about having a good dog at your side. BUT, they are also "just dogs" to me. I retain a level of logic towards them. They are dogs; not furry children to have their picture taken with Santa or wear costumes. They are not creatures to be idolized above humans. They are not family members that need a cemetery stone, or an ash urn.  And they are certainly not too precious to withhold from decent homes, which is what most animal shelters believe. Shucks, I spent my entire summer trying to adopt an amazing female Akita that desperately needed a home; but the shelter wouldn't let me adopt her because she would have been in a one-income family, and they preferred a two-income family.

They would have preferred that she stayed locked up in a kennel all day, and gotten a quick 15-minute walk in the evenings, instead of being loved and exercised all day!

 America has gone to pot in a lot of aspects, but most notably where dogs are concerned. They have become our idols. Something to violently stand up and fight for on social media. I still remember all the flack I got when I rehomed Gyp. He was an amazing dog, but my life was changing and he couldn't cope with it. I was getting married, my husband was joining the military, and we were looking at living in town, where we most likely wouldn't have had a backyard. Gyp was high energy and needed to run a minimum of 5 miles a day, and be able to work livestock on a daily basis. Anything less than that made him hyper, explosive, and unpredictable. Knowing this, I did the kindest thing I could: I gave him to a gentleman who lived nearby on a farm, and wanted a running partner. It's been a year and a half since doing that, and I still get emotional when I think about him. But I don't regret putting him in a better situation. The "dog people" were horrified that I did it. To a dog person, you're supposed to keep a dog until it dies; no matter what. This sounds quite noble, really. The loyalty and perseverance of it all is not lost on me. But their passion is skewed; and so many of them own unpredictable, unhappy dogs that would be better off with a different owner who could give them what they need. Keeping a Border Collie as an apartment pet because you refuse to rehome him to a local shepherd is not kindness. America thinks it is, but the harsh, cold truth is that it's cruelty. There is nothing noble, loyal, or honorable about keeping an animal in the wrong situation. There is nothing kind and loving about forcing a Border Collie (or any other high energy, working breed) to live in an environment that turns him into a menace due to lack of exercise and mental stimulation. It's far kinder to sell the dog (and there is no shame in getting money for an animal!) to the RIGHT owner, and look for another one that better suits your needs.

  Buying a pup is often times harder than adopting a child these days. And that saddens me. Having to fill out page upon page of forms for the breeder to look over, give at least five references, get a signed paper from your vet, AND have a home inspection before you might get a "yes" from a breeder is insane. But that's what America is now.

 I am a dog lover. But a logical one. Yes, I do hope to have litters of English Shepherds and Scotch Collies in the future, but I refuse to stoop to the disgusting level of all too many breeders these days. There will be no forms for you to fill out, stating how much money you make in a year, how many kids you have, and if you smoke or not. There will be no home inspections done. And there will be no references required. Because I TRUST YOU. And it's really none of my business. If you're willing to pay $500 for a pup, and an extra $350 to ship it, then you're obviously committed to some level in caring for this creature. It's time we put dogs back in perspective of importance. A child should not be easier to adopt than a dog. We cannot expect this nation to make any progress while we sit around and dust off the pedestals that we've placed our pooches on. In fact, I really don't think there's much hope of change until we start making humans more important again, and dogs go back to what they should be: Fun pets that have a job. Nothing more, nothing less.

  And so, I deleted the Facebook post. Getting a spring pup will most likely be quite difficult now, since most of the breeders have my name. But I still think it was a great idea. The English Shepherd is too good a breed to keep a secret. And too good a dog to not share with one of you readers who would really benefit from having a working partner around your place.

 Oh, and for the record, Gyp is doing great.

Top Commentator Of The Month!

 Edit: This was published yesterday, but for some reason my computer put it back in drafts! 

 I didn't realize that yesterday was the last day of November until I woke up this morning and found it to be December first. Yep, I am on top of things this week, for sure. Not. Eh, oh well. Better late than never, right?

  My reason for needing to know what day it is though, is that I'd like to announce November's top commentator! Prairie Kari! Congratulations, my friend! And THANK YOU for all the amazing comments! In fact, thank you EVERYONE for the comments and dialogue. Y'all are what make this place so special, and I appreciate every single one of you.

 So, Prairie Kari, if you want to email me your mailing address by clicking HERE, I would LOVE to send you a small surprise as a thank you gift! Or, if for any reason you would prefer to decline, that's fine too; just let me know and the gift will go to the second commentator of the month.