Tag Archive | Life on the Farm

Thar’s B’ars in Them Thar Hills

Several months ago my middle son came running in saying he had seen a bear in the neighbor’s woods.  We didn’t know whether to believe him or chalk it up to an over active imagination.   He is the one though that if there is a snake nearby he will see it.  My oldest daughter went out with him carrying the camera to get a picture of this bear.  Before long they came back and both reported having seen the bear but he was too far away for the camera to pick him up.  Then throughout the day they saw him several times.  I had injured my foot and was unable to traipse around outside very well.  The bear did not seem intimidated by the humans watching him and even was brave enough to come closer to the barn later in the day.

Since bears don’t live in this part of Alabama:

“Black bears in Alabama are primarily limited to Baldwin, Mobile, and Washington counties.  Reports of bears have been confirmed in several northeast counties but are suspected of being transient bears from other southeastern states.”


I called a couple of the neighbors to let them know about it. After the kids had seen the bear for the fourth time that day, near our property, I decided to call the Alabama Fish and Wildlife to report it.  The Game Warden came out and my son showed him where he had first seen the bear and the area where they had both seen him.  No evidence was found, of course.  Too many leaves for footprints.  But it began to rain in earnest after being a misty day so the hunt for the bear was cut short.  Essentially we got the impression that either we were mistaken about the bear or that it was just traveling thorough.  Not a big deal. Heard how some folks erroneously report things such as black wolves or cougars.  But of course, cougars aren’t around because if they were they would be getting hit by cars like they are in Florida.

We found footprints and much more evidence (scat, trees scratched and down) over the next few days.  The bear was also seen in our pasture a couple of times shortly thereafter.  But the Pyrs also saw the bear and gave it a furious chase.  Since then we haven’t ‘seen’ the bear in our property but it likes the neighbor’s and has been seen and heard several times since then over there.  It sounds like an elephant walking through the woods.  After it was obvious the bear was sticking around and we had evidence, I called the Alabama Fish and Wildlife again to update.  “The State Biologist will give me a call.”  So far several months later I have yet to receive that call.

One neighbor has told us she has since both seen the bear and had troubles with the bear and garbage cans.  Turns out the bear hauled her garbage can, the large rural dumpster can, to the edge of the woods.  Another time a bag of garbage was carried to the middle of a field.

Here is a picture of one very large bear foot.  This is 9 inches long and 6 inches across.  We got this at the fence area where the bear was coming into our property.



A game camera failed to get any pictures of the bear.  Nor have we have succeeded in getting pictures.  No one has seen the bear when they have the camera.  The joke is the safest way to be in the woods or on the mountain is to carry the camera.  Once my son and daughter were together and they had the camera.  For a short bit my son walked on ahead with the camera while his sister was behind him some.  She ran up on the bear up close and personal but of course no camera.  The bear had moved on by the time my son returned to her.

Now we have seen multiple bears and cubs so there is definitely a reproducing population of bears NOT LIVING in this area of Alabama. {sarcasm}

I had started this post back in January but was hoping to get a picture of the bear that doesn’t live in Alabama but alas I think the bear is laughing at us.  But that’s OK because bears in Alabama are old news ……….!


An Unproductive Homeschool Day ?

We homeschool pretty much year round.  Our homeschooling is a part of our life.  School doesn’t end and then life begins, we live life and school happens as a part of the process.  However, as the mom there will be times where I will say “Monday we are going to get more serious about the schoolwork.”  Well, yesterday that was the intention.  Everyone was going to do their school more by the schedule and we were going to get lots accomplished.  Well, anyone who has homeschooled long enough knows how well that happened.  Things began accumulating before the kids were even up and add in that mom had a headache and didn’t feel well.

I won’t bore you with the details but time kept clicking away as things were dealt with as they came up.  But at 3:00 I looked at the clock and was shocked.  Three o’clock !!!!  And here we had to leave at 5:15 for a meeting!  Where did the day go?  As “drill Sergeant” moma starts to get this homeschool thing going, I actually notice what is going on in the home.

Oldest daughter is outside weeding the goldfish pond flower beds even as hot and humid as it was.

Middle son was in the garage working on his chicken tractor for his newest chicks he has hatched in the incubator.

Youngest daughter was playing her violin, without being told!

Baby Boy was sitting in his room reading a book.

Mom was in the middle of washing sheets.

So what if the Botany book didn’t get read, one daughter knows the weeds from the plants better than her old moma does.

So what if the fractions didn’t get done, one son is using them with the tape measure outside.

So what if the language arts didn’t get done, one daughter is actually practicing on her own without being told.  Something that never happened a couple of years ago enough so that I’ve thought about ending lessons for those who didn’t love it.

So what if the phonics worksheet didn’t get done, baby boy is reading and doing it because he enjoys it.

Maybe it was more productive than I thought. 🙂



You a Quitter or Godly?

Last night we were playing a game of horseshoes.  You know that simple little game, easily played by all ages.  However, for some reason none of us could score.  It was ridiculous how long it took for the first person to get even get the first point.  The enthusiasm for the game quickly dwindled.  🙁  I have always tried to teach the children to finish what they start, especially in relation to games.  Nothing more frustrating than to be in the middle of a game and have the one losing decide to quit because they are bored or found some other reason to back out.

So after a while of playing my husband declared one more round would be the end for him.  He finished his round and then went to sit on the porch stairs to watch the rest of the game.  The baby (6 year old) looked at his dad and said:

I’m not a quitter; I’m going to be a godly man!”

What !?!

Where did he get that idea?

But we couldn’t help it, we laughed and laughed.  Dad will be getting teased for quite some time as to whether he is a quitter or a godly man.

Thankfully the baby isn’t a separatist.  He sat beside his dad while waiting for his turn and said “I can still sit beside you.”

Some of us worked hard at being “godly” we continued on until it was so dark we couldn’t even see where the horseshoes landed.  No one could even make it to five points which was the lowered ending goal.  🙁   Thankfully, a baby goat started screaming and we had to end the game to find out what was wrong.  Nothing.  But it served as a good excuse to end the game and not be “ungodly“.


Ever Have Days Like This?

Have you ever had days like this chick?

He spent most of the day trying to hatch.

But he seemed to have issues.  🙁   Don’t we all.

After a long time of spinning around in circles and beginning to get tired, I went ahead and helped him out.  Should have taken a video!

Sometimes my day seems like I’m just spinning around in circles and can’t see where I’m going.

Sometimes you just gotta ask for help. 😉


New Meets Newest

The new farm residents got to meet the newest farm residents yesterday evening.

Lady surprised us by having her babies in the wooded area of the pasture.  Usually our baby goats are all born in the barn.  If the pattern holds the remaining nannies will kid within the week also.  So lots of babies to care for and lots of milking to do.  Oh, my aching hands and back!  But hopefully some good yogurt. 🙂


A Great Great Pyrenees

We lost a great dog last week, our Great Pyrenees Sierra.  We got her when she was about 8 weeks old shortly after moving to the farm.  I had never even seen a Great Pyrenees prior to searching for one.  All I knew about them was from pictures and reading.  Even after all my years of working in Veterinary Medicine and in clinics I had never met a Great Pyrenees.  Yet that is what I set out to find in the summer of 2001.

See as soon as we were moved in here the children were begging for animals for the farm.  What good is a large barn without animals?  So within a month of getting settled in we headed to a local sale barn to see about getting a goat.  We couldn’t afford much nor could it be big due to the fact we had to transport it in a pet carrier.   😀   That was a big field trip for the kids and I.  We decided on a little female goat that was probably around 4 months old at the most.  Then I must bid for the goat at the auction.  That is interesting!  The kids were strictly told to sit on their hands – no bidding against moma or raising the bid needlessly.  We got the goat for 25 dollars!  I think the men took pity on me being the one female there with four young children in tow.  As I stood in line to pay an older gentleman informed me that I got his goat he brought in and she was part “Fainting Goat.”  That was a good thing to know when she fell out in the barn yard the next morning!  So after reading everything I could about Fainting Goats I knew we needed a Guardian Dog.   Great Pyrenees were the breed I decided upon.  The kids, of course, were thrilled about getting a dog too.

We found a huge female eight week old puppy not too far from us and thus began our farming with Fainting Goats and Great Pyrenees Guardian Dogs.  (Her puppy pictures must be before the digital camera age.)  I read lots about the breed and training them for being a guardian.  Thankfully I’ve had dogs and had trained a German Shepherd into higher levels of obedience before.  Contrary to some advice, I did not leave the dog with the goats (we added more soon) and limit handling the dog.  My children were more important than the goats and my goal was to train the dog to be good with people and still protect the goats.   No guardian dog here was going to be allowed to be aggressive to humans, children or even other pet dogs.  We took that dog around with us everywhere as a puppy.  Parks, shopping centers, hiking, anywhere we could for good socialization.  But between times she was with the goats and chickens and learning how to treat them.  It worked out well.  She turned into an excellent guardian and yet was still trust worthy with visitors even small children.   We’ve only had one young goat disappear here and that was when Sierra was a puppy and not in the pasture full time.

Great Pyrenees have been my favorite breed so far but honestly they aren’t right for everybody.  First of all they are BIG.  They have house shaking barks.  (Better than a yippy bark to me) They bark alot.  They shed profusely.  We joke that we could make another couple of dogs just from the shed hair.  They bark alot.  They hate being inside a house or confined at night.  They want to roam the property and guard all night.  They sleep all day.  They don’t obey well, they are smarter than their owners and know it, at least that is what they think.  They bark alot.  They come when called unless something more important comes along.  They bark alot.

Some stories about Sierra from my files (I’ll add to this over time):

That puppy! We came home from errands and found her playing around with a dead chicken. After all this time she kills a chicken while I’m not around to intervene! She was getting so good though. I fussed and yelled at that dog, told her she was a bad, bad dog …. Then we go up to the barn to see what else she has done. In a closed stall we find blood and an almost dead chicken? A closed stall? How did she do that? Oh, no. Roosters! Turns out both were roosters and they had obviously been fighting. I guess the dead rooster must have left the stall and later died. Sierra had an already dead chicken. Later we learn that guardian dogs will often clean up dead animals in order to not attract more predictors. Normally though Sierra over the years would place a dead animal at a particular spot in the front barnyard. Everything from dead possums, to miscarried baby goats, to large rodents would be placed here for us to see.  I guess she learned not to clean them up any more. 😉


We were still working on training Sierra as a young but huge puppy. She barked alot especially at night. I’m a light sleeper so her barking bothered me more than others. One night she was barking so much that I tied her up on the far side of the house.  Maybe then I would get a good night’s sleep.  But the next morning Jupiter, the duck, was gone from the pond.  Our last duck. 🙁  Appears a coyote got the duck and just left a few feathers while I had the dog tied up.  I guess her barking does serve a purpose.  Now my oldest will never forget moma tied the dog and he lost his duck.  I’ve learned.



Sierra is spending lots of time on the back porch with her first litter of puppies.  I happened to look outside towards the barn when I saw a large shadow cross the window.  A huge hawk swooped down to get a chicken.  I throw open the window and yell but there isn’t much else I can do.  Sierra hears the commotion and goes running toward the barn.  She is dribbling nursing puppies everywhere as she runs toward the barn. She is barking furiously trying to make her way toward the hawk with a grown chicken in its talons.  Thankfully the hawk was having trouble gaining altitude with a grown struggling chicken, me yelling at it, and Sierra barking and chasing it down.  About 20 feet up the hawk released the chicken and it fell to the ground with a sick thud.  Didn’t the hawk realize 20 feet up there wasn’t much we could do to stop it?  I didn’t think the chicken would survive.  It was still on the ground with little specks of blood on it’s beak and ear.  But alive!  We placed it in a darkened cage to watch it.  It survived and lived for several more years.  Its name was changed from Speckles to Hawky from that time on.



The 8 year old said he saw Sierra with a yellow duck running to the pond and eating it.  Upon intensive questioning he said it was a big yellow duck with yellow feet and it had happened over an hour ago.  I was so mad – at him for waiting around about telling me, now it was dark, and Sierra for supposedly killing a duck.  But we don’t have any more ducks!?! (see above as to why) She had always been so good with our fowl and had only carried around ones that she found dead.  The next day I sent him to the pasture to look for any evidence.  I walked to the fence to watch him and between the barn and house where Sierra waits for treats I saw something strange.  When I got to it, I found a dead tiny brown baby goat.  It was all cleaned up but very small.   Sierra had brought it to the spot where she places thing for us to take care of.  Turns out the yellow duck was a very premature baby goat!  Upon further questioning he admitted that Sierra had carried the “Yellow Duck” into the middle of the goats (where she thought it belonged).  Her “eating it” must have been her cleaning the baby.  I am so glad I didn’t punish Sierra.


One night Sierra was barking her bark. The “there is something to check out, won’t you people come see, I’m doing my job here” bark. I send the oldest with a flashlight to see what it is we must deal with. Turns out Sierra is barking over the pasture fence into the neighbor’s field at a huge oak tree. There is a large possum up in that tree with teeth showing and growling. That possum wasn’t on our property and she couldn’t get to it. We aren’t much for shooting animals unless there is a serious problem so we left the possum. It took a few commands to get Sierra to leave it and she wasn’t happy about it. She was miffed that we didn’t do our part. The next morning I went up to the barn and guess what? There in her “present” spot was the largest possum I’ve ever seen. How that dog convinced a possum to climb down from its perch, come back over a fence and come to her is beyond me. We joke that Sierra climbed the fence, climbed the tree and brought that possum back because we didn’t take care of it. That dog hated possums and I don’t blame her. I’ve been bitten by the petting zoo possum before when I worked there. They are mean.



We lost Sierra at 10 years old to bone cancer. She developed a knot on her head back last Fall which was treated but never went away. It wasn’t until January that we received the diagnosis of Skull cancer. We were able to have a few more months with her never seeming to have problems beyond a large swelling on her head and inability to use her left eye.  But last week she took a turn for the worse.  🙁



We got two adult female llamas yesterday.  It was strange to transport them both in our van.  Chevy Express vans are surprisingly multipurpose. 🙂

Driving through some towns on the way home we got quite a few strange stares.  At one traffic light I was sitting watching for the light to change.  Then the kids all said “Look he’s taking pictures!”  A gentleman in the car next to us had his cell phone aimed at us taking pictures.  Glad I could share some humor with others along the way.  We probably would have done the same if we’d have had a camera with us and seen llamas in a van.

After driving for 2 1/2 hours we arrived here with no difficulties.  Most of the time the llamas were cushed down in the van.  Cush is lying in a sternal position.  A couple of times they stood and shifted positions.  I drove up into the barn yard and opened the back van doors.  Prissy soon hopped right out of the van after checking everything out.  Honey though preferred the comfort of the van.  She didn’t want to jump out.  She even laid back down a couple of times.  Finally we just went ahead and urged her on out.  They did not soil the car at all.  Just had some hay tracked in from the barn.  Prissy hopped right out of the van and soon went to do her business just like a traveling dog would do.

They have since had to meet goats, chickens and two goat-sized Great Pyrenees dogs.  Thankfully they have been very well-behaved, much better than I expected.  No person has been spit at.  They’ve put up with the kids petting and brushing them.  They both lead pretty well.  Honey is lower in the pecking order of llamas here and for some reason she has been spit at twice by Prissy.  We don’t know what she did wrong nor does it seem Honey really knows either.  Thankfully the spit was just a slight spewing of a mouthful of hay.  Nothing major.  It could always be worse.  There are levels of spitting in llamas.  Prissy’s was just like a sneeze with some hay in her mouth.  Other spits can include stomach contents, not just mouth contents. Normally llamas do not spit at people, just other animals, unless very upset or spoiled.  {I know too much information,  but now you know.  🙂 }

Honey is more timid.  She has hummed a lot.  She hummed in the van most of the way.  Lying down in the car her hum sounded like gentle quiet snoring with the same consistent tone and timing.  Walking around, her hum has been very soft and has such a sad sound to it; very similar to a cat purring.  She is probably humming because of being in a different place with a bunch of strangers.  While her hum is so soft and sweet sounding, it probably means she is stressed and unsettled.  Of course, we don’t know if she is only humming when we are around or if it is most of the time.

They are sharing a stall in the barn.  They move easily between the barn stall and the small paddock beside the barn.  We haven’t turned them out into the large pasture yet.  Wanted to get them used to the routine of coming to the barn for the night and get them used to us before we turned them loose in several acres.  Needless to say we didn’t get much school done the last two days.

Pictures coming when the computer and website cooperate. 😉


Farm Visitors

We brought home some visitors to the farm today.

They rode in the van just fine, two and a half hours, but they liked the van so much they wanted to stay in it.

Thankfully they are “potty trained”.

However one spit at the other because of being too close.

You know the “You’re touching me syndrome.”

We didn’t have any more bedrooms so they are in the barn.

Any guesses?