Saturday, September 17, 2016

Dog Dilemma; Crossbred or Purebred?

   The plan had been to get a female English Shepherd, last Spring... Y'all may remember that plan. However, that never happened. I had a deposit down on a lovely sable-colored girl, and she was supposed to be shipped to me in May. Everything seemed good to go. However, I had a continuing feeling of anxiety in the pit of my stomach about the situation. Something wasn't right... It took a few weeks, but eventually I came to the realization that I am simply not ready to have another English Shepherd. Not yet. Gyp was the best dog I have ever had, and possibly ever will have had. He was intelligent, loyal, had great instincts, and was always right where you needed him.

 And that was my problem. I didn't feel like I could have another English Shepherd now because Gyp was so darn good! I was afraid I would constantly be comparing her to Gyp, expecting her to be like him, and getting upset when she failed to meet those expectations. That's no way to treat a dog. So I cancelled the deposit, and began researching other breeds for our budding farm. 

 I have researched so many possible breeds that I could probably be an impromptu AKC/UKC dog judge. Oy vey. It's been a lot. During June and July, it looked like we might get a Border Collie from a renowned breeder here in the states. The pups were born, we picked out a male that we liked... All seemed good. Then the breeder called one afternoon and said some other big wig breeder wanted a pup from this litter and she wanted to give him/her our chosen canine. What does one say to that?? I guess I could have held my ground and kept my deposit, but I figure if something's supposed to happen then it'll happen. Maybe this was fate's way of saying "No Border Collie". 

 Back to the drawing board.

  In the end, it was probably a good thing about the collie pup. I am dying to compete in sheepdog trials, but if I'm truly honest with myself, I have to admit that I'm not in that stage of life where I can jump up and toodle off to some competition. Not with a farm, and young kids. Sigh.

  It also probably worked well since Hubby and I agree that we really need a dog that has hunting/tracking instincts too. So now we were looking for basically a variant of the English Shepherd. A herding, hunting, guarding, companion kind of dog.

  We need something that can track a wounded deer, keep a wild hog pinned in one spot (Hubby is quite smitten with hog hunting and is trying to get me into it; to which I said I would only do it with dogs!), flush rabbits and birds out of the brush, retrieve downed waterfowl and other small game, herd our growing number of calves (and soon nurse cows), help with adult hogs (if we decide to go the route of breeding), alert us of strangers on the property, and still be a dog I can trust around a toddler. 

 Yeah. Basically we need an English Shepherd on steroids. 

 I was eventually pointed in the direction of a breed that I hadn't considered before: The Catahoula Leopard Dog. Looks like a hound, but does whatever you need it to do. I've been around these dogs before, but I had only experienced poorly-bred, hyper, idiotic specimens. I got in touch with a breeder who had champions in the ring and field, and was shown that these can actually be very impressive dogs that come with an on/off switch. Bingo. The breeder is willing to put me on a wait list for next spring, but is asking $650 per pup. A price I'm willing to pay for quality, but then there's the other side of the pendulum's swing:

 A crossbred.

 My husband does not understand paying that much for a dog. Neither does any of the family that I've found myself married into. Sure, they all like dogs, but to them a crossbred works just as well as a purebred. I'm hesitant. Using crossbreds for working seems an awful lot like playing with fire, or simply getting a grab bag of instincts. But then, I'm also willing to try something new before judging it; so I'll consider a crossbred.

  There's a family an hour north of me who has a litter of pups from their working farm dogs. The sire is a Blackmouth Cur/Catahoula cross. He hunts, herds, and guards. The dam is a Blue heeler who works cattle. They've got seven pups up for sale in the next few weeks; asking price is $180, but they'll consider a swap.

 I admit, I'm tempted by these pups. But still hesitant. Purebred or crossbred? What do you think? Which option would you go for? 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Handspun Yarn Up For Grabs

Hey guys, I've got some handspun skeins of yarn up for sale this weekend! I was originally keeping these for myself (love the colors on all of them!), but chose to sell them so I can add to my "dog fund". I'm also slashing the price on each skein by 50%! Awesome steal!

 Price is $12.50 per skein + $5 shipping. 

 If you're interested in buying some of this wooly goodness, shoot me an email at:

  I have the fiber content and yardage listed below the pic.

Listed by Skeins shown left to right:

Sky Blue: 115 yards; 2-ply, Fingering weight. 60% Suri Alpaca, 40% Merino. Gorgeous drape and color!

Light Purple: 128 yards; 2-ply, Fingering weight. 50% Merino, 50% Silk. Soooooo soft and shiny!!

Pink/Blue/Green: 134 yards; 2-ply, Sport weight. 100% Merino. Love the happy Spring colors on this one!

Fall Colors: 61 yards; 2-ply, worsted/bulky weight. 100% Blue Faced Leicester. Gotta love those pumpkin hues...

 Dark Purple: 80 yards (I have an additional 20-ish yards that I can spin up and add to this); 2-ply, Worsted weight. 70% Merino, 30% Alpaca.

  I have a ton load of fiber that I'm working on spinning up, so if you want yarn of a different color or fiber, let me know! 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Healing From Burnout


  There is a legitimate ailment that affects all people, no matter your age, experience, social status, or how careful you are. There's no bottle of pills to cure it. Doctors and herbalists can't help you with it. You're alone, for the most part. And only you can figure out how to fix it.

  This mystery disease is known as "Burnout". And it is a very, very serious thing. You never know when it will strike, or how long the healing process will be. It simply settles on your shoulders one day, like a damp, gloomy cloak; stealing the joy from the things that used to light you up, stealing the energy from your very bones, stealing the point to life. There it will stay; that ill-fitting, invisible piece of cloth that enshrouds you in mediocrity and depression.

 Don't worry though. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. There's a cure for it. It will take time, and effort, and gentleness. But you can beat it. Though it hangs on with the stubbornness of a tick, you can shake it and come out stronger. I'm positive about this. I'm positive, because even after wearing my cloak of gloom for three years, I am finally healing from it.

  When I left Oregon three years ago, I knew I was burnt-out from farming. The years of struggling so freaking hard to make the farm work, while living with family who didn't want it to work, took its toll. I thought perhaps a change of scenery would help, so I moved to Missouri. But that didn't help. The joy of working with plants and animals was gone. I felt tired and drained. There was no joy in any part of my life; not in the beautiful area that I lived in, not in being married to be best man on earth, not in welcoming our firstborn son, not in starting up a farm of our own... Life was dim. I slept a lot. I cried a lot. I began dabbling heavily in paganism and self harming. I was burnt out and knew it. I also knew that I wanted to heal. I just didn't know how.

  It took a very abrupt piece of news to start the healing process. A piece of news that took me 4 months to come to terms with, and one that ultimately changed me for the better.

  And the news was? 

  Well, it came in the form of a positive pregnancy test.

 Yes folks, I am pregnant with Kiddo #2. *insert bombshell dropping*

 This was very much a shock to Hubby and I, as we were hoping to wait a year or two before adding to the family size. Being the superman that he is though, it only took him about three days to get used to the idea and then become completely ecstatic over the news. Me? Not happy. Not. Happy. I hadn't even figured out how to be a mom for the first one! And we were just starting the farm! How on earth was I supposed to do everything while pregnant and then do it with a newborn!?

 So there was more sleeping. And more crying. And more being depressed.

 And then I'd had enough. I didn't know what I was going to do, but by George I was going to start fixing these problems. I wanted to be excited about this baby. I wanted to have tears of joy when I finally met this new little one; not have tears of dread like last time.

  It took four months, but I can now say with a smile that I'm on the firm road to recovery. It took time, and effort, and gentleness. It was baby steps of fixing my faith in God through reading just one small chapter of the Bible each day and finally stepping foot inside a church again. It was learning to love being a mother through a special book gifted by my mom and taking delight in my chubby, smiling son. It was realizing that making this house a home and being cheerful for my husband gives far greater rewards than globe trotting to Bali and Aruba ever would. It was accepting the gift of a new child. 

 And now it is learning to love farming again.

 Like all the other areas in my life that needed fixing, it's taking time and gentleness to heal from this major burnout. I'm taking tiny steps back into finding the joy of it. It started out with things like buying a couple books from Amazon ('Woman-Powered Farm', and 'Made From Scratch'), and going to the feed store to simply look at chicks and flip through magazines. Then it went to slowing barn chores down and taking the time to enjoy the veal calves that we've raised over the summer (and will be butchering in 4 weeks!). Then it was pulling the spinning wheel out and making yarn... Then it was ordering 2 dozen Sapphire chicks (Sapphires are a F1 cross between a male Cream Legbar and a female White Leghorn.). And then I felt ready for the next big step: Three Ossabaw pigs, and a working dog. 

  These tiny steps weren't rushed. I waited until I was champing at the bit to do each one. I wanted to feel the joy again! I wanted to remember how fun it was at the beginning to simply hold a fluffy chick in the palm of my hand. Or to outfox a crafty calf or pig. Or wake up in the morning feeling excited at what might happen. I'm getting there. I can feel it. I don't have my pigs or my dog yet; but they're coming in the next week or two. And I am so, so excited. Life has joy again. Life has purpose. 

 And I am happy.

  If you're feeling burnt-out, my friend, take heart. You can conquer it. I know you can. Focus on finding the joy. Do something tiny that brings a smile. And do it every day. The gloom doesn't last forever. Joy will always win.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Butterfly Came

 This week I made a big, scary, important decision about this blog:

I need to change it.

 Five little words... Yet so much trepidation behind them. For three years I've fought the nagging sense that 'To Sing With Goats' did not fit me any more... I even made a few comments about that here on the blog. But I could never bring myself to change any of it (except make it look a bit more professional). How could I even THINK of changing it!?!? I'm that "Goat Song Girl", for goodness' sake! People all over the world Google the blog name just to find and read me! I've built a readership, established an online name, made an icon of the tag "Goat Song"... Nopenopenope. Can't change this blog, quothe the scared farm girl.

  I've left this blog, and come back to it more times than I can count. Each time I leave, it's because I can't bear the feeling of 'not belonging' in my own online space. Each time I come back, it's because I miss the writing so fiercely, and want to try making it work again. But it never works. You know why? Because every time I try to come back and write regularly, I'm faced with a monster of my own making. This blog is my monster. It's not me... It looks something like me, it even sounds like me, but there's no soul here. It's an empty mask of a person, trying to please everyone who comes, and in doing so she loses herself. I. Can't. Do. This.

  Let me tell you a little secret: I've never held down a "real job" for longer than two months. And I've had quite a few jobs. Even working at the vet clinic, which was a total blast, only lasted precisely two months. The reason? I couldn't be my authentic self at those jobs. I had to follow someone else's rules. Those jobs, even though I enjoyed most of them, were soul sucking. I unconsciously rebel at anything and everything in life that doesn't allow me to completely and joyfully express exactly who I am.

  This blog became that soul sucking job. Something I did every day, did well at, loved doing... But there was an element missing: Me. 

  Granted, this blog used to fit me like a glove. I started it as a young teenager, living under her parents roof in Oregon. Now I'm a married woman, with a 4-month old son, living in the heart of Missouri. I've changed so freaking much in these last three years that it even scares me sometimes. But it's also exhilarating. And joyful. And full of surprises. The caterpillar in Oregon turned into a butterfly, here in Missouri. And the butterfly looks shockingly different from the pudgy bug it once was.

 So, I made the decision. This blog is going to change radically. The old posts will all remain, but the name is going to change, the look is going to change, the focus will slightly change (still lots of farming stuff. But I'll be expanding into other topics as well). And yes, I may very well lose readers when I change it. You make come here and be too freaked out to ever come back. But that's okay. This is for me. I need to stop hiding. Stop masking myself. I am an acquired taste, and not everyone may like that. I am ready though. And I am excited.

  This change will not be immediate, mind you. I want to have this website overhauled by a professional, and that is going to cost me about $3k; which I most definitely do not have right now. But I'll come up with something. It'll happen. After all, butterflies can only wait so long before testing their wings out...


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

  And that, is what life is made up of.

 Two steps forward, one step back.

 I did my two steps forward; Hubby and I moved back out to the farm, and I finally had unlimited internet to write daily!

 However, you may have noticed that the blog posts have been rather -- obsolete, since I made that announcement. I had my one, big, step back.

  I'm sorry for the silence, guys. I've been down and out sick since last Monday! Apparently I've been trying to do too much, too soon after having a 9 lb. baby... And my body has decided that enough is enough! I can barely get up, and when I do I can only stand for 15 minutes before exhausting myself. Stairs are a nightmare. I keep forgetting my own son's name. Passing out is becoming a normal threat. I. Am. TIRED!

  I was supposed to go to the ER last Tuesday for an ultrasound and blood transfusion, but I opted to stay home first just to see if I couldn't rally on my own. However, a week later, I don't seem to be improving so I may find myself in that horrible hospital after all...

 Anyway, that's where I've been, and why I haven't posted. I'm too tired to write any more right now, so I'm signing off here.

 Take care, everyone. I miss you, and can't wait to be my normal self again!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Visits from Oregon

Hey guys, I just wanted to pop in and say that the reason I was gone this week was because I was visiting with family! My mom, and two of my siblings flew over from Oregon, and my grandma drove up from Mississippi, to meet Mr. Travis. Hopefully I was a reason they came as well... But I guess I can see how a new baby is more exciting than the daughter/granddaughter/sister that you've known forever. Anyway, it was a fun week, I think we all enjoyed ourselves, and now I'm settling back into my work routine. I've missed my writing. My day never goes as well when I don't write or do my yoga; and this week has been lacking in both! Time to get back to the grindstone!

 Oh, and P.S.  We're back out at the farm now! You know what that means? Unlimited Internet!! *GASP!* When was the last time I had all the internet that I wanted, WHEN I wanted it!? I'm gonna get so spoiled on this... You might too, since this means I can write steadily now!