When we bought the farm four burn piles came along with the deal. Gee, lucky us! They mainly consisted of the kiwi orchard that the previous owner ripped out. We've been wanting to deal with them for quite some time, but there's definitely a learning curve here. First, we had to figure out when we could and couldn't burn them. Secondly, we had to figure out how. Once again, we are blessed with neighbors who are willing to clue us in and help us out. They are generous with their time and equipment, but they are also smart because no one wants the new neighbors starting a fire! So, with a lot of diesel required and time, the burn piles got checked off the to-do list! The good news, 911 didn't have to be dialed once and as far as we know, the creatures who were suddenly evacuated from these over five-year-old burn piles are not living in our house. We're one step closer to being able to mow our field in nice, smooth rows without routing around obstacles in our path. I'm not sure why, but that's a goal of mine. We also had more gopher success today, another one trapped with the good old fashioned style trap. We broke out a more modern and fancy type as well. Set them both at the same time to see who which one would catch a gopher first. I guess nothing beats the tried and true method! Then, while I was busy hanging out with the donkeys, my child came and said, "We're barbecuing gopher, want some?" Um... no. I'm hoping I convinced them that they shouldn't eat any either. http://Array

Mud. Currently, there's a lot of mud around the farm. As you can see on the animals page, we have two large dogs who love their new farm life. Henry hasn't ever known any different, but Riley started her post-pound life in the city. She loves the open area to run and play on the farm. They get very muddy and dirty, especially Henry the coon hound who can smell gophers underground and loves to dig them up. I guess most people who live on property keep their big dogs who dig up gophers outside all the time. Our dogs are completely spoiled and get to come in and out, we wipe off a lot of paws throughout the day. So, I'm sure you can imagine that baths are necessary. This is the dog area where Henry is currently working on his project to banish all gophers. Henry got a bath today. He needed one, but he REALLY needed one after Lauren decided to dress him in this T-shirt and then let him outside, so then Henry peed all over himself. He went straight into the tub! How do you keep a crazy, busy puppy still while trying to bathe him? Peanut butter! I spread some on the wall of the shower and he was fantastically occupied while I scrubbed him up. Tip: Don't clean the bathroom the day before, like I did.

Shortly after we moved to the farm I did a major "cleaning" of the "barn". I use cleaning and barn losely since a barn is never really clean and the barn is more of a really big shed, but it is very helpful for storing our hay and giving the lambs an indoor place to retreat from the elements. So, I swept and even vacuumed up cobwebs. This makes me laugh now because the cobwebs were somewhat gone for perhaps a week or so. For some reason I thought I could stay one step ahead of the spiders and keep the barn free of all intruders. Nope. I've now learned that I can't keep the spiders out, or the kittens. Right after cleaning the barn I was walking around inside and thought I had found a dead animal. After turning the light on and getting a little closer, I realized it was actually a pile of kittens! They were obviously cold and hungry and I was worried and a bit freaked out. I wasn't afraid of them, but I knew once my daughter saw them she would want to keep them and I knew once my dogs saw them they would want them to go away. Thus began the start of saving the kittens. I of course turned to Facebook for advice from my cat-loving friends. They had great advice, most of which I followed. I drew the line though when it came to be being a surrogate mother to these kittens. We provided food in the area and the momma cat appeared to be coming back to the kittens to feed them and also eat the food we left out. Not long after we discovered them the momma cat moved the kittens. I thought our experience housing kittens was over, but no, it had just begun. Next thing I knew these kittens were popping up everywhere! Sometimes they were in the backyard, close to the pool and we'd have to scoop one or two up with a shovel (afraid to touch them and have the mom smell us on the kitten and reject it) to move it to safety. If they spotted us out on the property doing farm chores, they'd follow us and end up too close to the house. We didn't want them around the pool or especially the dogs. But, unfortunately, we were not successful. Franklin (who has since crossed over the rainbow bridge) had a traumatic life experience with a kitten invading his house while he was just a puppy. He never got over the experience and ever since hated all kittens and cats. The kittens didn't seem to understand this and would naively enter the dog pin. When the dogs would bark and run towards them, they would just freeze. There was this one night we heard all types of barking and carrying on outside. Before we knew it we found ourselves flying out the door, scantily clad and desperately trying to save the…

After carting my wedding dress around for a few moves and then stuffing it in yet another closet when we moved into the farmhouse, I realized what a waste it was to never get to actually see it! Why not put it to use as decoration? My first thought was throw pillows for our bed, but was worried they would get too much wear and tear with kids and dogs around. Then I thought, why not cut it up and frame it? I felt like the fanciness of the satin and lace would look great with the rustic barn wood frames. The farmhouse is not at all fancy, but the lace does go along with many antique pieces throughout. The most difficult part of the entire process was the first cut. I went back and forth deciding if I was fully committed to never using this dress again. I know some who are saving their dress for their daughter to wear. However, I felt certain that I wanted Lauren to get to display her own fashion sense if and when she marries. I even texted my mom to make sure she felt okay with me cutting up my dress. While obviously, the dress is mine, my parents bought it for me and my mom and bridesmaids helped me pick it out and I felt I needed her blessing to alter it. So with everyone's approval (or at least three people), I cut away. My dress was really two separate pieces. The first was a simple strapless satin dress. The second was the lace overlay with small sleeves, open front and train. I have no regrets. Now instead of my dress being stuffed in the back of a closet, never to be seen again; I have it displayed in our master bedroom, reminding us of the day we became Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Want your own set of barn wood frames? Here are some similar to what I used. Barn Wood Frames We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

There I was just sitting at the table working on the computer and on the phone with my favorite technical consultant (my Dad) when I heard a knock at the door. It was one of my most helpful neighbors with two metal contraptions. I have to admit I was still in my PJ's and putting off some farm chores. His visit got me moving, I threw on clothes and out the door the kids and I went so we could learn to set gopher traps! The first step is finding a fresh mound, poking the stake into the ground to find where the hole or tunnel is and then digging a hole to uncover the tunnel. The trap gets set and placed in the hole, then covered with some yummy grass. This clever neighbor welded a chain from the trap to the stake to make it more difficult for an animal to run off with the gopher and trap. So far we haven't trapped a gopher, but we'll see how things go tomorrow. The gophers are out of control right now. It's truly amazing how much area they can cover and how many holes and mounds they create in such a short time. Our dog Henry (the coonhound) will smell them underground, dig, catch them and swallow them whole. For obvious reasons, he's limited to hunting in just the dog area and I have a feeling those little pests know it. They've got free range over the rest of the 5 acres and they seem to enjoy it. The winter certainly seems like their peak tunneling/digging time, but I could be wrong.

Never in a million years did I imagine I'd be scooping donkey poop twice a week. Connor helps with the process as well, it's pretty much a two person job. Fun fact: donkey poop weighs a lot more when it's wet. I don't know how much more exactly (fun science experiment), but it's a lot more. At this point we use a rolling trash can lined with garbage bags to haul it away. We have some large holes on the property from when some amazing neighbors removed kiwi hooks encased in A LOT of cement (more on that story later), so right now we are using the donkey manure to help fill in those holes. We have to scoop donkey poop twice a week to keep up. I'll admit there's many weeks where I put more time into maintaining the donkey's pastures than cleaning my own kids' rooms. There are plans, you know - one of those many projects, for creating a manure pile and even selling manure at some point.

I created this farmhouse sign from an old fence board laying out in one of our burn piles. A little paint, sanding and now it’s in our living room. It was easy! I just printed the stencil-style letters out, used transfer paper to rub the ink onto the wood and then painted in the letters!

Funny story: we hadn’t even lived in the house a week and Lauren got stuck in one of our fig trees. I mean REALLY stuck. Not even a neighbor’s help could fix it, which was somewhat reassuring honestly because I figured it was just a newbie mistake and there had to be some easy way to get her leg from being stuck between two fig tree limbs. Nope. I ended up having to call 9-1-1 and the jaws of life had to pry the limbs apart in order to remove her leg. Yep, first week, already calling the fire department. At that point I knew we were in for some fun on the farm! But, I also knew after this that our neighbors were going to be very helpful, thank goodness! We have valued their advice, moral support and encouragement more than they realize. As the fire truck pulled away that day my neighbor said to me, “I think you should take my number, you’re going to need help.” Yep, he was right.

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