Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Happy Birthday, America. The Home Stretch.

Posted on | July 24, 2016 | 1 Comment

We had only 4 days left and, for the first time, the kids started asking when we were getting home.  Oh, it wasn’t all love and endearments until that time.  Some of them desperately needed some alone time.  And took drastic measures to get it.

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Happy Birthday, America. The Wild West

Posted on | July 21, 2016 | 1 Comment

We drove through Grand Teton National Park as we headed through Wyoming.  We didn’t stop as I figured I couldn’t summon any more enthusiasm from the kids for hikes and waterfalls and mountains for a few more days.  It was odd how quickly we developed nature fatigue—-one week we were ooohing and ahhhing over the buffalo and the next week they were just getting in the way;  one day we wanted to get as close to the falls as possible to feel the spray and climb on the rocks and the next day were were happy to just pull in at an overlook.  Breaking up the trip with cities was definitely a smart part of my plan and this time we were on our way to Jackson.  But driving through the Tetons and the Jackson Hole valley along the Snake River still provided a whole lot of scenic appeal.

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Happy Birthday, America. Bear Territory.

Posted on | July 18, 2016 | No Comments

We stopped at Mount St Helens visitor center on Spirit Lake Highway on our way out of Washington state.

The video and the interactive displays had lots of information on the eruption. The pictures of the volcano before and after its eruption in 1980 were startling but the damage was easy enough to see with the naked eye.  Just outside the center was a view of the volcano with its top almost completely blown away.

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Happy Birthday, America. The Other Side.

Posted on | July 17, 2016 | 3 Comments

We spent the night in Cut Bank, Montana, in the Glacier Gateway Inn and we felt the chill of changing elevation.  Oh, sure, we shivered a bit in the Windy City—the sidewalks of Michigan Ave can be heavily shaded by the towering buildings and serve as a perfect wind tunnel for lake breezes.  But this was the crisp cold and cutting wind that dropped temperatures in the 40’s at night.  In mid-June.  Brrrr.

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Happy Birthday, America. Following the Buffalo.

Posted on | July 14, 2016 | No Comments

The next morning I left my family sleeping and ate breakfast at the State Game Lodge, where President Calvin Coolidge and his family spent their summer in 1927.

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Happy Birthday, America. This Is What We Came For.

Posted on | July 13, 2016 | 1 Comment

If there’s one piece of advice that I can give you about visiting the National Parks, it is this:

Do NOT start with the Badlands.

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Happy Birthday, America. In The Middle.

Posted on | July 11, 2016 | 2 Comments

We woke up in Dubuque, Iowa and hit the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium for the day.

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Happy Birthday, America. Going Back.

Posted on | July 10, 2016 | No Comments

I went to college in northern Indiana and Chicago, Illinois so I knew when the land started getting flat that we were getting close.

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Happy Birthday, America. Revelation.

Posted on | July 7, 2016 | 2 Comments

Our first stop in Louisville was Churchill Downs.  Now we are not actually fancy enough people to be fans of horse racing.  As a matter of fact, before the trip I tried to get the kids interested in the Kentucky Derby to no avail.  I talked about elaborate hats and famous horses and Middle just kept asking, “When will we get to the Seattle Seahawks stadium?”   That’s what I’m working with, people.

So back in May I picked up a movie to make the trip to Churchill Downs more meaningful to them.  I tried to get the documentary Thoroughbred: Born to Run , but it wasn’t available at the local library.  Then I hoped to borrow Seabiscuit or Secretariat but the only DVD on famous horses I managed to track down was the Disney flick 50 to 1.  50 to 1 is not Disney’s best work but it is about a redneck who kind of lucks into training a horse that lucks into a Derby run.  Since we can certainly relate to rednecks and occasional dumb luck, it was a good enough choice and it gave the kids some idea about horse racing as well as Churchill Downs and its storied place in the sport.  It was also based on a true story so it counts as a documentary minus the boring parts.

But after driving alongside lush green Kentucky pastures, miles of beautiful white fencing, and expensive horses frolicking in fields, it was a bit surprising to find Churchill Downs in the center of the city surrounded by low end neighborhoods and gravel overflow parking lots.  However, the museum and the tour more than made up for what the location was lacking.

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Happy Birthday, America. In The Beginning.

Posted on | July 4, 2016 | 5 Comments

Yeah, I know.  I was here and then I wasn’t and you probably thought I gave up the garden and the barn and bought a townhome with a pool and an HOA that handles the lawncare.  Don’t think I didn’t consider it after the fiasco that was this year’s sheep shearing.  Otherwise known as Fleece-Mutilation-and-Samantha’s-Big-Escape.  Not to mention the arrival of squash bugs in the garden in by the first week of May.  Which makes me think they were flourishing on the feast of 1,000 baby preying mantises that I released in April.  But the real reason for my radio silence was that I was preparing for our 3 week trip across the country in June.  That included putting the final touches on my travel itinerary, stocking up on food for hotel room meals and hiking snacks, multiple visits to AAA, as well as preparing the barn for our absence.  If you haven’t  prepared a barn and all of its inhabitants for 3 weeks without the farmer, then you’re smarter than me consider yourself lucky.  Very, very lucky.

I started by cancelling kidding season and selling all of my diary does over the winter.  Because it is impossible to prepare a barnful of pregnant and lactating does for a 3 week absence of the farmer.  Impossible.  Leaving them alone for 3 weeks is just begging for deformed kids, exploding udders, and traumatized barn sitters.  It wouldn’t surprise me to come back to my dairy goats after 3 weeks and find the barn sitter curled in a corner, shaking uncontrollably, and muttering about how the goats turned into zombies and ate each other’s brains.  That’s the kind of sh*t that can happen when the farmer leaves a barnful of dairy goats alone for 3 weeks.  For real, people.  For.  Real.  So I sold off the does and just kept a few bucks for breeding purposes.

My next step was the spring shearing of the sheep. So I sheared, skirted and washed the fleece, carded it, and left it in rolags ready to spin when I got home.

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Read more

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