Homestead Drama

naughty goats-2183

Someone recently made a comment about life (I think ours) looking very Tasha Tudor-ish in photographs, that is until I go and ruin the image with say, a video of my kids dancing to pop music in our trashed kitchen.  I started thinking about Tasha Tudor, and her lovely pictures.  I love her.  In fact, I collect her books.  But what if her life wasn’t that pretty?  What if there was chicken poop on her porch, and she just left that out of her illustrations?  What if she didn’t actually have corgis, but in fact wiener dog mixes that she drew as corgis because they are so much classier?  Okay, that totally isn’t true, and it’s a ridiculous thought, but I like it for some reason.  In fact, when people ask what kind of dog Weasel is, I might try saying, “Corgi” just to see if I can keep a straight face.

Weasel is a very sweet, quite endearing, bad dog.  He’s a bad little doggie who killed a chick this week.  Of course it was a naughty goat who let the chicks out to begin with….

Yes, there was some homesteading drama here over the weekend.  Actually all the drama happened on Saturday.  It started with me doing some beekeeping that involved moving a small colony into a larger and newly painted (yellow!) hive and losing the queen in the process.  I am not a graceful beekeeper.  You should see me running up and down the hill to grab things I have forgotten, hair in my eyes, sweat streaming.  Thankfully, I found the queen on the hive stand and was able to return her to the colony.  Later, Jonny and I went for a walk around the property so he could show me a baby bird that he had spotted.  As we headed out back, I asked Keats to let Agnes and Greta (our LaMancha girls) out of their fence so they could browse for a bit.  When we returned, Larkspur came running to tell us that while we were walking a woman pulled in our drive to let us know that one of our goats was in the road:  not Agnes or Greta, but Robin Hood, who had found a hole in the fence.  Larkspur shared the story of the lady helping her put Robin away all the while she told her how special he is to us, that we bottle raised him, that he’s our pet, and on and on and on.  I asked Lark what the lady had to say about all that and she replied that all she said was, “I just didn’t want him to get hit by a car.”  So I guess she didn’t actually stop by to hear his life story.  I’m just grateful she stopped!

Soon after, Greta walked up without Agnes, so I headed over to the chicken coop to look for her.  She likes to knock the lid off the can that we keep chicken feed in because she is always hungry for forbidden foods.  When I arrived at the coop I discovered that not only was the lid knocked off, but the door to the chick’s run was open and the chicks were all outside it.  We plan to eventually allow them to free range, but not until they are a little bigger.  I could hear Agnes from inside the hen house carrying on.  She had walked up the ramp and jumped inside the hen house and couldn’t get back out (Agnes and Greta lived there temporarily when we first brought them home last last winter and they still like to visit).  I let her out of the house and then returned both her and Greta to their pen.  The boys came to help round up the chicks but I made the mistake of suggesting that we just let them stay out and see how they do.  A few hours later, I was reading to Silas when we heard awful screams coming from outside.  Larkspur had discovered a mortally wounded chick and while she didn’t see him in the act, Weasel was nearby looking very guilty.  He’s supposed to only be allowed outside on a leash because he’s a cat chaser (bad doggie) but doors get left open.  Last time we had a flock of chickens, Weasel wasn’t yet a part of our lives (hard to believe there was ever such a time) and when I made the call to let the chicks stay out of their run, I didn’t remember to consider him, despite the fact that we have discussed the probability of him being a chicken killer.  Jonny took care of the poor chick, and Weasel came upstairs to hide in my bedroom while I tried to comfort Silas, Lark, and Beatrix who were all three sobbing.  It was really a pretty awful scene.  Half of the family (well, mainly the three older boys) was enraged over Weasel’s misdeed and demanding that we find him a new home immediately (as if that’s possible), and the other half (mainly Silas, Lark, and Bea) was in hysterics over the thought of finding him a new home.  Man, he really doesn’t fit well here, and truly, we may need to find him a new family (the chick not being the reason, more of a last straw, perhaps).  Really, he needs to be a lady’s lap dog.  No small children, no chicks.  Cats living in the house with him aren’t interesting, but he does want to chase the outdoor cats.  The smart ones don’t run from him.  Anyway, I guess we’re going to work harder to keep the collar and leash rule enforced, and the chicks definitely won’t be getting let out again anytime soon.  What a mess.

On a more positive note, I played with natural dye this weekend from the Mayo Indian Amaranth that I planted with my cucumbers to trap the cucumber beetles.  It looks pretty in the photo of the yarn, but the sad reality is that it turned a dull sort of non-color after I heated it a bit.  I extracted the color by simply soaking the flowers in water in jars in the sun for a few days, and I think that the dyeing process needs to happen along the same lines.  I’ll try again.

I also made pickled okra for Jonny.  Gross!  He loves it though and is super excited.

p.s.  Silas seems to be following in Beatrix’s footsteps regarding body art.  Which reminds me of a show that Jonny and I watched over the weekend.  We started a free Netflix trial, but then had no idea what to watch.  I remembered Alicia mentioning a new favorite show, and looked up the title “Ice Lake Rebels.”  What popped up was not that show, but “Vanilla Ice Goes Amish.”  Yes indeed, that’s a real show, and we watched two episodes.  One of the Amish farmers described Vanilla Ice as being a bit distracting because of his earrings and all the “attractions” on his body.  Silas totally covered himself in purple attractions yesterday while I was making that pickled okra.  It’s washable, so no big deal.



  1. I also love Tasha Tudor’s work. Becky’s Birthday is a favorite. Have you read Drawn From New England by her daughter, Bethany? It gives a little peak into their bucolic, freespirited lifestyle. I recall in that book Tasha saying how she was often so very tired from the daily routine of farm and domestic chores and childcare! A more realistic view than my overly idyllic impressions when I was a younger reader…but oh, how I wanted a glowing birthday cake to float down a river!!

  2. I just love your blog and will continue to homestead vicariously through you- drama and all 🙂 My husband and I often entertain the possibility of moving to a piece of land out where it’s more quiet, getting animals, etc. I love so much about the idea, but we always come back to the positives of where we live- we’re less than 10 minutes from my in laws which is a great thing with all these kids, we’re in between my husbands office and church (20 min from each), have the biggest lot in our neighborhood, there’s green space and beyond that, a farm, across the street from us so we get to see and hear a bit of country even though we’re in a subsivision, and our kids can ride their bikes and play with lots of (nice!) neighborhood kids- so I don’t think it will happen. Maybe when our kids are grown? For now, I’ll read your blog and dream about it 🙂

  3. Mexar Haza says:

    Something like that just happened with my “ex” pets (the ones that are living in my parents house), our Snauzscher got to open the door on the back patio and went after our two rabbits,encouraging our cocker to do the same (she really doesnt pay attention to them when she’s alone). It was awful, so my husband and I took our rabbits (thankfully they are on recovery and doing well) to our house with our kitten. They seem to be getting along, kitten is curious but still a little bit scared of rabbits.
    Our Snauzscher is a sweet and lovely dog, but she is indeed a chaser (cats, rabbits, birds, rats…), like you say in the comments, animals will be animals, we take our precautions, but is in their nature, not something malicious about her. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. I love this. You’re basically living my dream – I’m not saying that jealously at all, I expect within a few years we’ll be able to embark on our own country life of gardens and goats and bad dogs. Growing up we had so much drama like this on my parents’ place. We raised emus, and we used to have to coax them home from miles away. Some dogs protected the sheep. Some dogs ravaged their limbs. I keep thinking I won’t let “stuff like that” happen on my someday homestead, but I need to remember the messiness that comes with this kind of life choice. Anyhow. Thanks for documenting it. I love getting all these glimpses – curated or not 🙂

  5. You always manage to make us all feel very good about ourselves again, and that our lives are all this normal messy day to day living and drama. I love reading about normalness, if that’s even a word? Love the kids dancing in the kitchen video, and love the birdie in the nest pic. Glad you went for that walk to see it, despite all that happened in between times. Would love to know what kind you were looking at, and what bush that nest was in?

  6. I have Wild Color open and ready but haven’t dyed anything yet. I have been collecting dye materials- mostly kitchen scraps and hopi sunflower seeds from my garden- I can’t wait to try! I also have Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess, it is a great book as well.

    My three year old scribbles on herself- she calls her scribbles “statues” (tattoos). Life is never dull, is it?

    🙂 Cary

  7. That was an exciting few days and I hope Weasel settles in ok. That dye looks pretty in your photos, too bad the first batch disappointed you. All of your photos are so refreshing to look at.

  8. Heather W says:

    Just look at Weasel’s little face…….he sure looks sorry for what he did!

  9. Our dogs are always kept separate from the chickens unless directly supervised, but one year my son and my husband raised a baby pigeon that kept falling out of the nest. “Tweetie” would follow them all over the farm, and would fly to my husband’s shoulder when called. Then one day he must have flown down into the dogs’ fenced yard, and our sweet, gentle, older dog killed him. My poor son called me at work in floods of tears, and my husband felt just as bad. Definitely in the nature of some dogs.

  10. OK ick, pickled okra -yum, fresh honey -and yay, washable face paint/dye. I’m sure Tasha’s life wasn’t all corgi’s and clean benches….no ones is.

  11. oh, can I add I just remembered how our sweet dog (who really was so gentle that when a row boat was stolen while we were camping, we think our dog was wagging his tale…) anyway our sweet (now in dog heaven, since I am about 3x the age I was then) dog barked at our first rabbit (Midnight the 1st) and it died of fright. My Dad yelled at our dog about it and he did not do it again, but this shows that even gentle dogs are still dogs!

  12. Our kids are grown and I sometimes miss the drama so we have an 11 year old neigh boy that we hire for chores and he supplies enough at our age. 🙂 Our kids called an ugly color ‘burp’ once and it stuck around here. You can have it for your yarn if you want.

    You and hubby should watch ‘Still Mine’ on Netflix. Such a sweet movie about growing old together and independence. We have watched it more than once which is really saying something.

  13. It’s so funny you wrote about the pop music dancing video ruining your image! When I originally saw it, it hit me that you actually are a regular family. I know I’m not the only one that tends to idealize what must be going on in the families of all my favorite lovely blogs. It’s good to have a reality check every now and then even if it does mean a porch covered in poo 😉

    • I was being kind of silly with that statement. 🙂 I hope that I post enough of that sort of thing that no one gets the wrong impression! I pretty much assume that people realize we are a mess. Most days I feel like my home/family is the biggest disaster of them all.

      • So, you are the only blogger that I read that somehow seems to both capture amazing beauty AND come across as totally real/normal, one of us! That’s a compliment, btw! 😉

  14. Katherine says:

    Enough drama for the week- notify everyone in the family? No more drama til next week… (Teehee)
    That plant is absolutely gorgeous- I recently picked up a flower (cut) at my local farm shop that looked v similar but was more of a pastel version of that colour and it keeps its colour dried – I’ve had it several weeks in its vase and it still looks fantastic (I don’t usually like dried flowers)
    Re dying- I have just seen someone on Instagram who made the most lovely gentle antique pink (on wool) using avocado skin and pips (pits?stones!? ) I am keen to try asap- depends I guess if you like soft pinks- 🙂

  15. We can relate to farm drama, lol! Also, skip the Ice Rebels. Its a totally scripted fake show. As are most of them, especially ones from Canada and Alaska.

  16. Pickled okra! I have been babying along my few okra plants up here in Canada in hopes of having at least one jar of pickled okra! Jealous.
    On another note I definately think Tasha Tudor had chicken poop on it. And if she didn’t I don’t want to know!

  17. Leanne Petty says:

    We were just in Chincoteague the other day and there was a fiber artist talking about natural dyes. She said to put some vinegar in with the water too when soaking the plant material. I can’t remember exactly why but I am pretty sure it had something to do with the PH of the water. She used pokeweed for one of the examples and it made a very nice red dye.

  18. G,
    I want to just hug you! Your writing just makes me like you. :). I wrote to you a few months back about being broken and how I used prayer and our Faith to turn to Our Lord. Turn away from the storm. I wanted to tell you my daughter knitted a 1930’s bonnet from an old knitting book called “The ‘Fun’ Way to Learn Knotting.” I am healing from the sexual assault. Life moves ahead. I started a Catholic homeschooling journey blog. I decided to take an online course prior to Mom’s diagnosis to get recent points for my teaching liscencure. Which Imhope never to use again in a brick and mortar :). We are interstate homeschooling this year between Culpeper, Va and PA. My mom has stage 4 lymphoma but it’s slow growing. I am on Facebook at Samantha Allardice Lehmann. Oh… And you can try a free month of Pure Flix… So good and educational videos, too. They also have the Torchlight Dramas – St. Augustine etc. lots of Catholic and great Christian movies. “God’s Not Dead” was great. The kids get a movie and popcorn on Friday nights – family together – I usually fall asleep … We do media silence the rest of the time. The kids do Art Hub for Kids on Youtube – free homeschool art :)… Off to try to focus on my homeschool list … Or something like a schedule. Lol.

  19. I’m sorry for your animal drama on the weekend….it seems to be part of the whole homestead thing around our farm. We graze our (very small flock of) sheep around 3 acres and run them into the barn at night. It takes all three kids and myself to funnel them into the gate with a dog on a leash and loud whoops and usually a lot of hilarity. Dogs break free, sheep miss the turn off and head down the lane, goats hop the fence and make a run for the open gate, chickens cajole the madness from the garden beds…and the pigs squeal in delight. Like Animal Farm, I’m a little nervous what they are all talking about together. When unexpected tragedies occur, it is so heartbreaking for all of us, at varying intensities. I suppose it helps prepare us for death and tragedy in life, but it doesn’t make it less real.
    On another note, I think it dates us that we know who Vanilla Ice is…and why in the world is he living on an Amish farm? Hunh? Your thoughts on Tasha Tudor crack me up….I love her, too. But what if they really were less classy dogs…..
    Wishing you a much calmer week on your homestead,
    xo Jules
    xo Jules

  20. I’m so sorry about the chick death – we had a similar incident when we first got our Great Pyrenees, who hadn’t been around poultry before and chomped down hard on a chick right in front of my daughter who was then 5. He pretty much immediately realized he had done something wrong with all the screaming that ensued, and now he leaves all poultry alone like he’s supposed to, but it was a pretty traumatic event for all of us. Farm life is hard and dirty and not always picturesque – but that’s what I love about your photos and the stories you share. There’s such beauty in them, but also honesty and reality.

  21. Oh, poor sweet Weasel! I can relate–we have a pup that also loves to eat chickens and it is not easy to keep them all separated. Constant vigilance!

  22. I understand the woes of homesteading! It is always something new with the animals and kids! I actually have a corgi – thanks to Tasha! – and she is a blessing and a curse. To keep ourselves sane, we trained her on one of those wireless shock collar systems. She is smart and it only took once to keep her safe from herding cards. She doesn’t have to always wear it but when it is on, she knows her boundaries.

  23. Oh and I just enjoyed the Poldark series on PBS. Crimson Field was okay but not as great as I had hoped it would be.

  24. Oh Weasel (I still think he is adorable!). <3 He sounds just like our husky Paw Paw. His prey drive is so intense making him a lot of work for us. All 5 of our cats have had close encounters with him – 1 resulting in an emergency trip to the vet. 🙁 My three children reacted the same way your younger three did. Its so hard when you see them so heartbroken!

    On a completely different note – We have been harvesting our marigolds and bachelor buttons to make dye baths (hopefully for baby knits!). I always forget about the proportions with mordant. Which book do you use for natural dye guidance? I remember you mentioned it before but now I can't remember where. 🙂

    • Hi Nicole…I am jumping in and perhaps hijacking your conversation with Ginny…mordants, if using alum, are typically 8% of the weight of the fibre, with 7% cream of tartar added. Maybe this helps? I soak in the mordant bath at room temperature for a few hours before dyeing. For marigolds, I use that ratio. I’ve never tried bachelor buttons…can’t wait to see that result! Happy dyeing. xo Jules

  25. Gosh what an exciting and distressing time! I hope everything turned out ok and if you have to make any further difficult decisions you can do. I really fall in love with every pictures you take, they are so beautiful. Its such a shame your natural dying didn’t quite go to plan but I bet trying again will help 🙂 I agree with Kendra, sometimes animals will be animals – sounds like you’ve handled it as best as you can! jenny xxx

  26. Melinda C says:

    It’s so hard to learn – and deal with – how the world works. So glad your kids have such a beautiful and supportive family. and Wow! Silas and Job are so grown up!! Seems to’ve happened overnight.

    Re Netflix: Sherlock, Bletchley Circle, Call the Midwife are all wonderful series. So is Miss Fischer’s Mysteries, which is set post WWI in Australia. Lots of great documentaries – some on bees I think! Broadchurch is excellent, but hard to watch (a child is murdered). Doc Martin is a fun British series set in a picturesque seaside town. In a World was great great fun! And I LOVE Louie – a single father and comedian (Louis CK) struggles with life in a surprisingly gentle funny way. Can you tell I love Netflix? Have hardly watched anything else this summer….

  27. Sherlock, y’all. Sherlock. Oh, and Firefly.

  28. We had a similar drama a year ago. Our dog mostly leaves our girls alone, but I was watching my brother’s two dogs. I let them outside not knowing a few of the chickens were out. I heard those same screams and went running out. One of the dogs had mortally wounded one of our beloved hens. My husband was at work. I called him sobbing (I had sent the kids inside). He was sure there was a severed limb. I took care of the chicken, composed myself and sat with my sibling kiddos who wanted that dog gone NOW. Fortunately my brother was coming for them that evening. It was quite a bit of drama as you say. Glad everyone is better now and I hope Weasel finds his place.

  29. Katharine Whitmore says:

    Goodness, what a nice video! I don’t “do” instagram, but maybe I will — and when/if I do, I’ll follow you (if I may)!

  30. Well the Queen has Corgis, so ergo, they must be classier? I dunno! But BAD DOGGIE!Poor little chick.
    “First Position” is a great document. My brother’s been trying to get me to watch “Breaking Bad” and I’ve been doing that–I’m almost done. I can only watch so many episodes at a time because otherwise it’s just too many people doing suspect things for me. My parents love Foyle’s War, and I’ve got Sherlock in my queue but haven’t gotten to it yet.

  31. I really love reading your blog Ginny
    , you just never know what will happen next. I sure hope you find it in your heart to keep Weasal as he is part of your family. We have a dog that just loves to run after rabbits and for some reason they always pick our yard to have their babies. So far he has killed by playing, a snake, a baby rabbit or two a couple of baby birds. Dogs will be dogs and they are great companions.

    Hope you and your family have a great week and keep the stories coming.
    Take care!

    • Excuse the typos this morning. Pretty terrible, missed spelled my name and hit the enter button at the wrong time.

  32. Great post Ginny. Even ol’ Tasha could probably relate. I smile.

  33. What a weekend!! It’s so sad about the chick.

    We’ve been enjoying a couple of good things on Netflix recently: North and South (BBC), Jane Eyre (newest version), Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, When Calls the Heart, Robin Hood (BBC…a little campy, but fun), First Position (documentary), Enchanted April, Mansfield Park, Sherlock, Everybody loves Raymond, Parenthood, Parks and Rec, The Bletchley Circle, The Secret of Roan Inish, Frasier, The Office,

  34. This is why I love your blog. A seamless blend of earthy beauty and messy reality. I relate to chicken drama as we have had some on more than one occasion.

  35. oh no!! that would be so stressful!!! will pray for you today about this!!! you narrate things so well :)… take heart, I’ve read the wiki on Tasha Tudor (she is so neat!!!) and her family life was complicated it seems so even she did not have a full perfect life. Take heart, God loves you and is with you in all of this.

  36. I think smaller dogs are bred to hunt “varmin” and anything small that moves fast. Frodo is a rabbit killer and I would guess a kitten-bird-chicken killer as well. he won’t kill snakes or turtles though, they stump him .

    some ideas for netflix: fowles war, hinterland, broadchurch, all the dr who new ones (swoon!), gilmore girls, call the midwives, and Sherlock. If I think of others I’ll add more 🙂

  37. Oh my goodness, sounds like you had a wonderful, event-filled weekend! And, more beautiful photos to prove it all too. Hope you and the family have a great week.

  38. Kendra Mitchell says:

    We had some similar drama last week when everybody’s favorite dog got out and killed everybody’s favorite hen. So many emotions from the kids (and the grown-ups too. Really) Animals will be animals.

    • This is what I tried to explain to my older kids, because they are the ones who have a harder time accepting just that, that animals will be animals. It’s in Weasel’s nature, his breed, to chase and even kill.

  39. jennyann1126 says:

    can’t stop giggling….”corgis are classier”. If you’re interested in 1920’s British crime drama there is an incredible series called Foyle’s War on Netflix.

I love to hear from you!