Happy 4th of July!

On this day celebrating our independence from the British Empire I am RESTING! Lately, with the mini farm coming up, I don’t have time to “rest”… it’s a mad dash from 0545 to 2100 to complete all daily duties before bedtime. With 3 days off from work and the weekend ahead I decided today was a good day to take naps and sit in air condition for a while.

Creating and establishing my dream of raising our own food is a lot of work! It all began to become reality when I picked up those 12 chicks from Tractor Supply in March. While my littles hung out in the brood box growing like weeds I was cleaning out the old hen house (a repurposed horse stall) and dreaming a little more.

When I lived in Kannapolis at my dads home place I read Organic Farming magazines my mom bought for me. One of the magazines had a really cool article about pigs that didn’t rut and need mud pits, they liked to sleep burrowed into hay in clean, dry space. It was a heritage pig that was just barely escaping extinction; the pig was mid-size growth wise, a family pig that was great for small farms. This image of the pig and article stuck with me and I’ve been hoping to raise some myself one day.

Craigslist to the rescue! I love love love Craigslist! And Facebook Market… but Craigslist is a great resource for finding local farm animals and supplies. While perusing listings one day I came across a post about KuneKune pigs in Smithfield, NC. I reached out to the contact and immediately established a great bond with Caroline, the owner of As We Go farm. They work diligently to raise healthy, happy and quality bred KuneKune’s as well as chickens, goats and Malamute dogs. A week later Marty and I were off in the truck for a 3hr drive to Smithfield to pick up our first breeding pair of KuneKunes!

Sally and Fat Back now live with us here at the farm! They are super cute KuneKune’s with perky ears and a turned up nose. KuneKune’s were brought to New Zealand at some point in the past, as they began to become extinct there (as faster growing, larger pigs became popular) there was an effort to save the blood line and several were brought to the U.S. There is actually a KuneKune registry to ensure bloodlines are pure and since our pigs are part of the registry they each had DNA sent to California for proof of lineage. Thankfully these two pigs are for breeding so they get to stay with us forever and I can become attached to them… within reason.

Sally and Fatty love their swimming pools, they love all food and are pretty much bullies with the other animals if food is involved… but take food out of the equation and they love to have their backs brushed, a good ear scratching and Fatty will sit for you and eventually roll over for a belly rub! They are pigs so their sounds are pretty intimidating until you learn that they’re all bark and no bite! Sally is older so that we didn’t have to worry about Fatty getting her pregnant too soon, once Fatty comes into his manhood Sally will be old enough to carry her first piglets — hopefully we’ll have our first babies this fall/winter!!

Through Craigslist I’ve also found a close chicken resource in the neighboring town Polkton, Easter Egg Farms. Molly supplied me with two beautiful New Hampshire Red laying hens so I could go ahead and have fresh eggs until my chicks mature. As well, I bought two Silkie roosters from her for fun. Uncle Bob and Ray are pretty hilarious and make me think of cartoons when they chase each other. My adolescent roosters are just coming into their roo so Uncle Bob doesn’t have much longer to be dominant, but he’s enjoying it until the end. My Reds are pretty dominant as well and actually rule to the roost. Molly’s girls handle all of their chickens daily so they are very friendly and don’t mind being picked up. Now I work hard to handle all my Henny Pennies so they stay friendly! We have 2 New Hampshire Reds, 2 Silkie Roos, 4 whites, 2 Cochin, 3 black laced Wyandotte’s, 3 reds, 4 Guineas.

Mr. Olson, a friend through a friend, in Kannapolis keeps Nubian dairy goats. He loves teaching and sharing his small farm with families so I’ve been out in the past to visit when he has goat kids, as well visit his chickens and bee hives. When his nanny dropped two buckling kids this year I jumped on it and asked if we could adopt them. After visiting and speaking with Mrs. Olson about goat milk and how much they enjoyed it I began thinking it might be a great addition to our growing farm. As I began learning more about goat milk and its many uses I talked with Marty and his parents to determine if we’d all be on board to use it. The consensus was a resounded “yes” so I found Amy, at Laurel Hill Farm in Gastonia raising beautiful, ADGA registered Nubians! A week later we drove down and picked up our two sweet girls Hot Lips and Klinger. They come from a strong dairy line and mommas that produce a lot of milk on a daily bases. They were 12 weeks old and had quite the personalities! Hot Lips is pretty social but talks and bosses around all day long. Klinger is shy and not so sure she enjoys being petted; she’s also incredibly accident prone and broke her leg within a few weeks of moving to our farm. An emergency vet visit, PVC pipe splint and follow up visit she is doing great — actually, we finally get to take the splint off this weekend!!

Marty has been very supportive and helpful as I began my mini farm. He spends his weekends helping me build fencing, fixing up the hen house, working on tools for me, working in the garden or walking around Tractor Supply pricing supplies and listening to me spout off ideas. His only request was a fainting goat… well, I found us a buckling in Salisbury and off we went to pick up Hawkeye. He’s the cutest buckling, black and white with tiny horns. Pretty quiet for 7 weeks old and very docile. I fell in love, he was so tiny compared to the Nubians, and he was super chill. Edgar and I were working down with the goats and Edgar made him faint the first time — I called Marty and told him all about it!! Then… no more fainting, Marty and Brea tried everything, I even went down with umbrellas one day and Hawkeye was fearless!! Finally, several weeks later Brea was visiting, we were hanging out with the goats and Marty made Hawkeye faint! (There is a video clip on my IG) Now he tends to lock-up fairly frequently with the other animals, primarily in the morning when I’m letting them out of the barn, but he’s learning and getting better about controlling it. He’s still a sweetie but he is learning from Hot Lips how to talk more!

And finally… Nigerian Dwarf goats. After a wonderful night at Twisted L Horse farm in Richfield, at a women’s night out (Women, Wine and Equine) I met Jessie and her husband. They have lots of dairy goats and horses, were pretty awesome people and I eventually bought a breeding starter set of Nigerian Dwarf goats from them. They too are ADGA registered and from a great farm family that want to raise quality, healthy animals. Two 3 year old females, Zeva and Halo came to live with us along with a 2 week old buckling, Radar. Radar is a bottle baby so I’ve been spending the last several weeks quite attached to him… he tends to act a little more like a dog than a goat, but these days he’s spending entire days with all the goats so he’s growing. Zeva is incredibly social and wants to be petted constantly, Halo is a little shy but after she warms up to you she likes to squeeze in close and have her neck scratched.

After the last addition I had to reach back out to Mr. Olson and ask him if he had any others interested in his wethers, as our farm exploded and I no longer needed wethers (bucks who have been castrated). He did end up having someone else interested, so his two wethers won’t end up here. I’m excited to explore the dairy goat world and look forward to having fresh goat milk next spring. My plans are to breed one of the Nubians and one of the Nigerian Dwarf goats to bring our girls into milk next year. I’ll start with two and if it goes well, we enjoy the milk and I can manage the work load maybe we’ll breed the other two as well.

So… there is where we stand with animals.

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Let’s talk about me… in a large nutshell

I thought today it might be a good time to kind of do a re-cap of sorts about me… who I am, where I came from and what I’m up to these days. Originally runcharityrun.com was created for my Team in Training fundraising days and from there I’ve just kept it, repurposing it from time to time. The use of the word “re-cap” is a little deceiving, this is flipping long… take it or leave it. Friends I’ve known since childhood know me and most of what I do never surprises them, but friends I’ve gained through my adult years don’t necessarily know as much about me and lately I’ve been surprising them. LOL

Who am I? First, I’m a child of God, blessed beyond measure and working each day to live in gratitude, without fear or worry and as a light to this world. I have 2 wonderful parents, an older brother and a life partner that is my best friend! Then there is my pug, Edgar, he is essentially my child since I never had a desire for children so he’s my dude.

Growing up we lived in a rural North Carolina town (though I didn’t realize it was “rural” until well into my 20’s) my father came from a farming family; my mom from a family that moved to the area for jobs at Cannon Mills. Why do I define this? Well, to underline that farming, open land, woods to play in and a mostly-outdoors-in-town family was ingrained in me from childhood.

My father was burnt out on farming by the time he became an adult so he pursued other dreams. My mom likes to describe to us where he lived (in the middle of no-where) when they were first married and how dark it was — she came from living a few blocks from downtown Concord.

Growing up we living in an old mill house a few blocks from downtown Kannapolis on 2 lots. My parents purchased the house and my dad slowly remodeled it through the years to make it more functional. I remember avocado green tiles in the bathroom, avocado green appliances in the kitchen and a shag yellow/brown carpet in the hall. The only thing I ever disliked was the carpet, it had a really rough texture to it and itched my legs. Mine and my brothers rooms were across the hall from each other so we played a lot of games between those doorways including shooting marbles (which oddly I remember very clearly). Avocado green is also one of my favorite colors to this day!

Firmly believing in chores and teaching their children to be responsible we grew up helping around the house and eventually mowing the grass as we got older. My brother mowed the hard side and I got the mostly flat side. Even with a self-propelled lawn mower (which literally dragged me around sometimes) I eventually hated mowing the grass. “When I grow up” started forming to the sorts of a townhouse with a small postage stamp front yard for my eventual dog to pee on.

During our childhood we loved going out to the Brumley farm to see the cows and gardens. My parents have VHS tapes of me talking to the cows, making a licking-face to impersonate the cows and of my uncle carrying his equally large camcorder. This makes me laugh… what a great time! My grandfather would fill up water troughs for me to swim in, we had a little red tricycle we’d ride up and down the quarter mile paved drive and I’d take morning walks with my grandmother around the neighboring trailer park picking baby daisies.

At home we played in the back yard, explored the over-grown second lot and as my dad filled in the gully to make the second lot usable, we played in a LOT of dirt piles. I remember, rather vividly, huge dump trucks bringing in fill dirt and the giant piles being the most amazing playground a kid could ever ask for. Of course, having an older brother meant we played a lot of G.I. Joe and built dirt forts we “bombed” with dirt globs. There were many evenings we had to strip at the back door before heading to the shower because we were filthy!

On the other side of the family, the Morgan side, my pawpaw rode us around in his mail car and took us over terrifying hills that “got your stomach”, woke up early on Saturday mornings to him blaring the Trading Post on the AM channel and the most amazing buttered toast. My Grandma Net loved gardening, and to this day has the prettiest yard! She’d let me help her plant flowers and taught me the best way to make things grow and how to trim them back. I have so many wonderful memories with our entire family there; eating delicious meals, playing in the yard, hiding in the attic of the garage. Before we regularly started showing up there we spent all of our family gatherings at my Great Grandma Ruthies house. She had an awesome back yard that gently sloped to the back porch so we could ride our little tricycles out there or chase each other down the hill. Someone would be making ice cream on the back porch while we picked snake berries and played house in the bushes along the yard.

Ok, so needless to say… as a kid we spent a lot of time outdoors solidifying my love for nature. As I grew up, life got busy — soccer, basketball, horseback riding etc. I kind of dabbled in everything and enjoyed it all. My parents always encouraged me to chase dreams and try out anything new as long as I followed through the commitment. The one and only year I decided to try out softball, I hated it… they made me the catcher and the balls were terrifying!! When they put me in outfield I had fun playing in the clover… my parents made me finish out that season because I committed to it. Obviously I didn’t make it pro.

High school came along, I was submersed in soccer, basketball and horses. My brother and I would go out-back, roughing-it camping together. We had grown up camping as a family through the years so we enjoyed the wilderness survival side (him more so than me). College came and I was still playing soccer and working with horses but there wasn’t much time for anything else. Weekends at home were often spent at my uncles land riding 4-wheelers and such or at the lake with friends. I still didn’t have that dog though.

Eventually I got married in 2008, I never got the townhouse, but during my first marriage we did buy a house with only .17 of an acre and I had my pug, so that’s close enough. Eventually that dissolved in 2011 and I began triathlons for the first time. My girlfriend kept encouraging me to try it because I had become a fairly efficient runner (running was cheaper than a gym membership). So I bit the bullet, took my bonus that spring and bought my first road bike. Following my road bike purchase I joined Team in Training through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for my first sprint triathlon.

The love of triathlon was born! I followed that love for 4 dedicated years finally making it to Ironman Chattanooga in September 2015. Not only did I meet some amazing people, I’m honored to still have in my life. That Ironman year I also met Marty via a good friend setting us up. Neither of us were interested in dating, so of course we clicked like a puzzle missing the final pieces. For the last year I had been adhering to a strict vegan diet and loved the way I felt during training, but as our relationship progressed it became difficult to plan two meals every day and after my Ironman I finally went back to meat. LOL

Ok… now. Let’s talk food. Being incredibly conscious of what I was consuming made me continue “thinking” about my food when I changed my diet back to include… about everything. Marty would always laugh at me for shopping at Harris Teeter, but they had one of the best organic sections around our area (yes, it is definitely more expensive but they have their own line now and it’s much more affordable). During my triathlon years I met a lot of awesome people who helped me learn more about food. The best foods for the exercise we were doing, new ways to cook, new foods to cook, etc.

Where am I going with this? Food, conscious thought… where does it (food) come from? There are some great books out there talking about what you should or shouldn’t eat– but the easiest rule of thumb is “if your grandmother doesn’t know what it is, don’t eat it!” Ok, I’m not talking about a different culture and their food, I’m talking ingredients.

Marty hunts, his daughter hunts, his dad hunts… they know what their deer have been living off of. I’m an animal lover, so at first this kind of bothered me. About like the time when I was young and learned we were eating the cows from pawpaws farm I talked to… I stopped eating beef for a while. Marty introduced me to hunting and helped me see that we were only killing and eating what we needed. We honored the deers life the best we could and in turn, it provided for our family.

Now, you may argue — but Walmart is JUST down the street! You have a Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Publix etc. I would like to ask you, have you ever seriously considered where your food comes from? How it’s raised, how it’s processed, how many hands it has to go through before it makes it to that refrigerated shelf where you then pick it up and purchase it, set it on a shelf in your fridge or freezer a bit longer… and then eat it? Well I have and there are a lot of documentaries out there you can look up; I firmly believe this is a personal journey so no judgement from me. There is also an amazing effort from organic farmers and other farmers trying to raise healthier food for their communities and I love it! Sustainable farming is tough work, it takes a balance big farming can’t do, but I believe it’s the right way.

My friend, Elizabeth Anne Dover has her own vineyard and farm (Dover Vineyard, Concord, NC). We grew up together at 4-H and with mutual friends through the years. I follow her endeavors on Facebook and find it incredibly inspiring! I also have several other friends I’ve either grown up with or met through the years that are farming now.

Slowly I started to have a desire to have my own farm of sorts. Pawpaw did it, I remember loving it and I had a barn in my back yard he used for cows. Slowly the dream evolved, but I just didn’t have time or resources to start. Marty and I eventually moved to Stanfield in the fall of 2016 before I started an insane work project that had me traveling for a year. But that little dream was still there and now we shared 13 acres with his parents.

Finally… March 2018 I text Marty “I just picked up 12 chicks from Tractor Supply!!”… I was so excited to have a beginning! And there… my little farm blossomed. I’ll share more in another post since this one is a mini book. I imagined I’d be sitting down with the goats writing this, but lets face it… farming is hard work so I’m sitting in bed dozing in and out with my iPad on my lap and Edgar snoring beside me. Oh, and Marty, but he’s wide awake enjoying tv.

XX

Charity, Marty, Edgar, Bee, Sally, Fat Back, Hot Lips, Klinger, Hawkeye, Radar, Zeva, Halo, Chester, Cindy, Uncle Bob, Ray and all of the Henny Pennies

Marty and myself this past weekend at Top Golf with his daughter and son in law.

My sweet Edgar boy, he hit the big 10 this year! I can’t believe we’ve been buddies that long!

My mini farm in it’s growing phase… we now have a permanent paddock and in a few weeks my dad and I are adding on an addition just for the pigs and goats so the chickens can have their space back!