Tag Archives: animals

But Seriously, Is This Your Super Power?

If Mr Dreamboat has a super power, and truth be told he has many, then it would be his ability to find things. Far from becoming irritated when I lose things (… the same things… every day… and then other days I lose different, important things…), it seems he becomes ignited by the opportunity of a challenge and when he emerges, inevitably victorious, he gets a sheepishly proud look on his face and bestows me with the gift of the found object.

Sometimes I swear I can see his 8-year-old self beaming through.

And so it was that when Zoë lost her phone on the farm in a very deep way, we were all a little disappointed that Mr D was, and would remain, out of town for 8 more days. That’s a long time to go without one’s personal device in this day and age.

Each member of the family took turns and then as a team and searched for the missing phone for days and days. Zoë could be heard mumbling as she passed, “If I were a phone, where would I hide?”

On several different days the hall closet was completely emptied. The first time the focus was on coat pockets, the second was on shoes, the goat stalls were literally combed and yet the phone’s whereabouts remained a mystery.

The phone was lost on a dark and stormy Wednesday night. The following Tuesday morning presented itself as cloudy and then changed its mind like a moody middle schooler and surprised us with a sunny disposition. As my day unfolded the glistening air called me and I decided for a short farm meditation, holding goats and feeling fresh mountain air on my face.

As I put on my jaunty purple boots and told the home team where I’d be, Zoë requested I hold Nellie, our newest baby goat. That’s how you train them to hang out with humans.

I walked the short walk to the goat barn and went straight to Nellie and her mom. After I cornered the oh-so-adorable-kid I opted for yet another search for the phone.

Step-sweep-step-sweep, I snuggled Nellie while her mother dumbly searched for her. Look up you ridiculous goat.

And there it was, gleaming like an unearthed treasure, in all its phoney-glory… or rather, it was a bit dull with but a single goat poop marring its glorious face.

At that moment I felt my super hero cape flapping in the breeze. The sun shone even brighter and I knew I was the hero of the day… or at least five minutes… whichever comes first.

After the emotional reuniting of Woman & Phone, I wondered if a bit of Mr D’s magic has finally rubbed off on me and then I got to thinking. It wasn’t magic at all, at least in the way we’d like to think of magic.

The magic was in the perseverance. The magic was in not accepting the phone as lost, but in knowing if we just kept looking we would find it.

It is magic. It’s the kind of magic where we just keep working at it. We get up every morning and try again no matter how many times we fail.

Our dreams will magically come to us. And it’s just like Tinker Bell always promised, we have to keep our faith, trust and Pixie Dust.

Or if you live on the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary, Goat Dust will work just fine.


must love dogs

Best Dog/Day Ever ~ Make Yours

Back when things were bad and the IRS was breathing down our throats and reading our mail and intruding even in our dreams, we had a dog. The title, “Best Dog Ever” is thrown around like confetti, I know this, but really, Scout was a gem.

Before things went south for our little family, when I would find evidence that he had been napping on my bed, on my expensive bedding, I would throw a fit and cast him dirty looks, whispering, “Stupid, damn dog,” under my breath.

It was only while my heart was breaking over the things that men and governments will do that the godlike characteristics of canines became evident to me. Scout would come to me as I sat in solitude and bafflement and without intruding simply love me.

There’s not a good way to describe it other than “love”. He would sit and be and take awaylike scout the pain that he could with his presence. It was more than almost anyone else could do. Plus he was silent and that was helpful for me. One woman’s talk is therapy and another’s is silence.

After this revelation, each time I saw the indentation of a large dog on my duvet, I would look at the brindle Boxer and ask him gently if he’d had a good nap. A good dog is worth a million duvets any day of the week.

I now have a very different life and Scout has long since passed on to what I hope are the rolling fields of dog heaven. A very different dog romps through my heart today. Preacher, a mini Australian Shepherd, is now five months old and the easiest puppy I’ve ever trained (Scout was a two-year-old rescue dog, scarred, like people).

As I sat in my kitchen yesterday training the little guy, I wondered if he would be my “Best Dog Ever” and naturally my thoughts went to Scout sitting silently, lovingly by my side as I indulged in a very rare cry. It was more like misty eyes if I’m being honest, but that’s big for me and Scout got that.

It is my hope that Preacher will never need to guide me through another horrible life event. But I’m well past believing each of us is given one and only one. Life is nothing if not an adventure and everyone knows adventures sometimes suck. It’s in the dictionary. You can look it up.

FullSizeRender (1)0505Whatever quests Preacher and I embark upon, I’m sure he will be up for the task. He will reign as my “Best Dog Ever” for this time, in this way.

It’s human nature to look for the patterns and to hope for a repeat of the things and experiences we love, while simultaneously avoiding that which was painful. We can neither recreate the past nor control the future. Deal with it.

What we can do, what will truly serve us, is to take each new day and make it the best it can be. Uniquely so. To wish for the past is to waste the present and hobble the future.

I have had many dogs in my life and each, in their way, was my “Best Dog Ever”. The key to happiness is not to repeat what has been good, but to find out what is good, no, great about today.

Today is my best day ever. Yours too, if you let it be so.

best life

Your Best Life Ever

A month ago today I drove the five hours necessary to pick up my new best friend. Mr Dreamboat had done more than his due diligence and hand picked my tiny, puppy companion and the day and hour had arrived for me to take on my new responsibility.

Preacher and I met and instantly fell in love. I with him, because he is cute and he is fluffy. He with me, likely because I give him snacks. Whatever it takes, I’m not proud.

michelleatplaycapedAs the weeks passed I’ve become confident the “Honeymoon Phase” is past and we are in the day to day routine of figuring out how to live together. He has convinced not only me (the easy sell) but Mr Dreamboat (the cynical one) that his rightful place to sleep is in our room. I have persuaded him that… well, he’s a puppy. He does the majority of the convincing in our relationship.

That said, it occurred to me just a few days ago I should be doing some sort of official training with this guy lest he become obnoxious and I rue the day we met.

Turning to the Oracle Of Truth & Enlightenment (The Interwebs), I opted for advice from Cesar, The Dog Whisperer, or whatever his name is. Cesar informs me that my puppy is a pack animal and I should always maintain my position of Alpha. Check.

I’m supposed to go through doors before the little devil does and he should walk beside me or behind me when we’re on a leash about town. Okay. I think we’ve been doing this already. What else ya got, Cesar?

It turns out this puppy thing isn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. Thus far no major mistakes have been made on my part and all the basics were already being covered, apparently on an unconscious level.

Cesar assures me consistency, kindness and gentle praise are the key factors in raising a puppy you won’t regret as an adult. In his words:

“A pack leader is, by definition, strong, stable, and consistent.”

Yes! Yesyesyes!

The rules of dog training, it turns out are no different than the rules of life. If we’re interested in leading the pack, we have to be willing to step out in front of the crowd. Consistency is key and gentle praise an important part of every day communication.

I’m convinced I am raising one of the best dogs of my life. He is smart, sweet and small enough to sit on my lap on a cold winter evening and keep me warm.

Likewise, I am also delighted to be creating a life I love. I do it on a consistent basis. I try to use gentle praise as a key part of my communication, and I try to keep good snacks on hand. Never underestimate the importance of good snacks .

In the end, whether your life is a dog or not, there’s no reason not to make it your bitch;)


The Truth About Goats & Happiness

baby goatsYesterday afternoon as I drove up to the Young Family Ranch, the bucks and llama grazed peacefully in the front pasture. And I felt happy.

It turns out it doesn’t take much for one to be happy. Thought perhaps it’s not as easy as the goats and llama make it seem either. Well, for them it’s probably no big thing.

For nearly eight years we’ve been gentleman ranchers with at least one or two goats living on the property with us. We sometimes milk them and almost always breed them. You know why if you’ve ever seen a frolicking kid in the springtime.

For the longest time, and I know this makes me sound a bit dim, if we weren’t milking them, I wasn’t sure what purpose they served. I mean, shoes keep your feet protected, rain makes the grass grow, dogs keep you company, but a non-milking goat? Even the llamas serve as protectors for the other animals.

I am not so sure exactly how things can be so hidden from me. My dear Mr Dreamboat surely scratches his head at me when the most obvious things are not remotely clear to me. At least until I get them figured out.

The goats, at least for us out here at the YFR, simply make you happy. Not just the frolicking in the spring and not just because I make some killer chevre when the mood strikes me.

No, the goats and the one sheep, along with the Great Pyrenees dog, the four horses, the colorful chickens and the sassy geese, at the end of the day they’re just there to make us smile.

What it takes to be happy is to look around and see all the things that make you happy. Simple as that. For the goats, it’s likely the green grassy fields, for me it’s the goats and for you it’s likely something else.

Without a doubt there are meek things around each one of us. What exactly makes you smile is far less important than that you are actually allowing yourself to do so.

Alice Walker said, “Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.”

And that, my friends is the truth about happiness. Now go find yours.

Like, share, comment, tweet and take a bite out of life like it’s the only one you get… Cuz you know, it is…

Ten Things I Love About Living In The Country

Farm living hasn’t come easily for me. It’s dirty and far away from everything. But it is my contention that everything has it’s benefits, and honestly, it wasn’t difficult at all to come up with ten things I love about it.

Sometimes living in the country is just funny

1. Not needing to close the blinds on my windows ever.

2. There is nothing more delightful than watching baby goats frolic.

3. Gathering eggs (I actually have a song for that, and if you ever come to stay at my farm I will sing it for you. Or if you call me, I will sing it for you then too. It’s a good song. You’ll like it.)

4. I am absolutely convinced that if convicts escape from a prison housing the most violent criminals ever, they will get bored on the drive and stop somewhere else long before they ever get here.

5. The 150 year old maple tree that regally stands sentry over the property.

6. Star gazing is brilliant here and there’s something about it that invites one to sit down and enjoy the show.

7. Max and I have penciled out a Zombie Apocalypse Plan. We have a rough list of invitees. I have to admit that we’ve already had a few fights about it, but I think if we can get past this we can really get a fool proof plan together. If you’re interested in confirming your place at The Young Family Zombie Apocalypse Retreat & Goat Dairy, please email me and I’ll let you know if we still have availability. You have to live in the country to have a good Zombie Apocalypse plan.

8. Meaningful work for my kids. It’s actually pretty cool.

9. When I go running, I look at the beautiful forest and vineyards and realize people go on vacation to see this kind of view, and I get to live here.

10. It’s quiet. It’s beautiful. I am blessed.