Today I built a goat shelter.
It is something I've wanted to get done for a long time. Because all our paddocks are rotational, made up of two 50 meter electric netting lengths that I move across the pasture, I needed a shelter I could move with them. I designed this one on skids, I hate to have more complication than necessary as I think it leads to things breaking down for example, I was thinking about making this on wheels but decided against it due to the risk of getting flat tyres or moving parts breaking down over time.
It has two shade cloths that come out the sides that I can tie up to trees or tie up using tent poles, this give the girls more room to move and gives the goats who get bossed around some extra space to sit when it rains. There is a hierarchy in herds of animals, the boss' always get the prime spots so you have to compensate for this when feeding and providing shelter. I also built a small nutritional elements tray, it has seaweed meal, salt, copper, sulphur, borax and Epsom salt. They have been eating it so that is good to see.
Now to hand it over for the real test...goats are brutal on stuff like this.
UPDATE: Yes they are brutal! They have been using the shade cloths that sick out the sides as slippery dips and trampolines. I have to tie the ropes up extra high so they can't get any traction on them. It was also tipped upside down the other day. I may have to work out a way to tie it down so that when they are using it as a parkour training unit it can withstand their antics.
This year my phrase is “Freedom Through Discipline”.
I can see a Big Vision, not a vision that I own or one that I can do by myself, but also a vision which requires more of me than I have right now. To be able to do what the vison requires of me I have to become bigger than myself. I see this happening in two ways, one, by what my friend above says, becoming a “student of personal growth and development” and two, by connecting with other people who are better at things than I am. People with abilities some dormant and some active coming together to form a "Person" bigger than our selves.
Who is that "Person"? What does it look like? What are it’s characteristics, flaws and attributes?
As of today, this is the unknowable part.
I think this is the essence of being a "Multiplier", wherever you are and whatever you have chosen to be a part of, believing that in that space there exists a "person" who’s limbs, organs and nature are made up of individual humans but who’s heart and mind is made up from a shared vision between those individual people.
All my life I have felt called to a story bigger than mine alone. Many times it has made me feel different and isolated from the situations I am in. I can see this in my oldest diary entries from my childhood, as a teenager and then as an adult. Wisdom tells me that I don’t have a special monopoly on this feeling, that I am not the only person who ever felt like this. In our hearts all humans feel we have a special purpose that no one else can do, so, if we are lucky (and brave, probably more brave than lucky actually) our life becomes a hero’s journey of that quest. All this feels like cliché and is quite annoying to write, but there it is.
John C. Maxwell said to start with self-development, (our personal heros’s journey) and gives us “15 invaluable laws of growth”
Finally (in an act of true love for yourself) Amy Morin gives us “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”
I am convinced this journey starts with radical-self-love. But more on that another day.
Circles of Control and Influence
The kids all went to school yesterday. I feel really weird. It is like I have a bitter-sweet feeling in my body. I hate to let go of Samson's babyhood but I love to see them become free. I feel like someone has given me a 8:30 to 3:30 baby-sitting voucher but I don't have to pay them. I don't feel that sense of guilt I often get leaving them with mum and dad or others but my stomach twists and throat chokes when I can't feel Samson wriggling by my side asking me to do something or asking questions about why there are powerlines and what do they do?
I am sitting at Jamaica Blue eating an breakfast with a ton of bacon on it.
It is awesome, and fearsome the future that looms a head of me. Is it ok that I enjoy eating a huge breakfast on my own and enjoy not having to look after my kids needs across the table? I feel like I need to go sweat and work hard to pay a prices first. Kids are demanding and they make you feel useful and stop you from being selfish. Now I have to do all that on my own.
Goats are good at clearing land. They have these incredible mouths that are so sensitive, they use them like we use our hands. I love watching them eat, their industrious little lips moving speedily along the branches, deftly determining between the delicious and the non desirable. With this little mouth they can clear a 2500 meter square paddock in a week. They can destroy grown trees with it. Such a powerful little tool is not to be taken lightly or for granted, destruction and creation determined by me. I feel like or Bilbo Baggins, from the Lord of The Rings, without the right direction these goats could destroy our whole property and years of work or they could improve pastures and bring biodiversity that we may never have been able to achieve on our own. Here is a little video showing them eat their favourite food, Pigeon Peas, which are high in protein (goats love protein rich foods, some others you may have growing are: Sweet Leaf, hibiscus and mulberry trees)
These goats are hilarious. I am sure they are the ultimate pet, part cat in their agility and charismatic personality but doglike in their need to be with you as a companion and buddy. I LOVE these goats!!!
One of the hardest parts about selling something is…you don’t know if you are ripping people off. I know that sounds bad and I can hear your collective intake of breath, especially those who may have bought our goats. My own struggle with these fears stems from many different places but I know that it is common to anyone starting out for the first time selling a product to others. How do you justify asking someone to take a risk with your product (animals can be notoriously tricky with health and behaviour issues) and then buy your product from you? Some of us overcome this issue in a few ways. We can set a lower price on what we are selling, justifying to ourselves that a low price equals lower expectations in the buyer and an easier “hurdle” for them to jump over. We can look out around us at prices set by others, which isn’t the worst option, but in the process essentially taking the responsibility out of our own hands. In our minds we think we didn’t set the price so "it’s not us it’s them” and we haven’t really spent the time thinking about what our product actually cost us to produce.
Setting a price isn’t the only issue we have to work on as sellers but that final decision is the sum of all your attitudes and processes towards the product you sell.
I have had to really think carefully about all my emotions and decisions surrounding the selling of our goats. I had to ask myself these questions:
-How many hours did it take me to “produce” this product. This is your hourly wage that you would pay someone else if you where not doing the work yourself
-How much did it cost me to “produce” this product. Feed, medication etc
And then the questions that I think are most important:
-What is my product story?
-Why do I sell it, what is my vision for it?
-Why is it different and special?
Actually it the answers to these last questions that will back you up when you need faith to believe in what you are selling. It is in the knowing of the essence or spirit of your product which will settle your attitude towards it. You see if you believe in what you are doing others will too. You are not a dodgy car salesman flogging a lemon off to some loser (how I sometimes irrationally feel), you are an artisan selling a bespoke, prized creation to someone you believe will be worthy to take it home and enjoy it in their own life.
Never underestimate the power of village squares. They are the place where you go to trade or sell what you produce on your own land. If there was any place for the "Edge Affect" to occur this would be it. This trade happens once every two weeks, it is fast, with little fuss in the set up, you can drink awesome coffee, it is sheltered. All these things make this one of the most pleasant experiences I have in my fortnight. I was telling Kelly the other day that I don’t look forward to the events that we put on because the pressure of making sure that it went smoothly and was a success overrode any fulfilment or joy that I could get from it. This event is different because it only works on individual concencus and input. I LOVE that. All the expectations are gone, I guess for all of us. Because if a person shows up, great we can have a look at your stuff, but if they don’t fine, who cares, there are enough other people to make it work. How to keep it real: keep it a little dirty, a little illegal, a little unorganised, a little unofficial, very comfy, food and great coffee close buy, comfy seating with a way to get out of the heat and no pressure to attend if you don’t want to.
….I am actually in Brisbane at the moment with Phil for a conference that he is attending. I went to a Farmers market this morning and ate Goat Pies, gluten free doughnuts and a yummy vegan fruit smoothy salad. It was really inspiring as we are really only getting started up where we are in Mackay.
Because we are so isolated and hot up there we just don't get the same produce and ability to grow things like they do down here. But we are really trying hard to get things going.
I don't know if I told you I was a part of the committee the Greater Whitsunday Farmers Network. It has been a challenge that is for sure, dealing with the bureaucracy and hoop jumping. After many negative experiences with clumping, top- heavy, government and public organisations Phil and I are really searching for new ways to work in community that prevent human burn-out and ego battles. People can be very gross in their selfish ambition but I believe, I JUST HAVE TO BELIVE that there is a better way for us all to live. A way that brings joy, peace, purpose and hope to communities living together. Our ancestors knew how to do it and I refuse to be pulled along with the subtle tide of commercialization, consumerism, quality poverty and human abuse (physical, mental, spiritual).
We have been on this journey in a real hands on way since we bought that property in Sarina (it being a true interface between God's purpose in us, our close friends and the greater community). I have been......shocked....horrified....at the depths of the hold there is on people to separate them from all things which make healthy people, good food, connection to other people who grow your food, connection to each other.
We talk about poverty in 3rd world countries, and I know it is true, but I am just starting to get a frightening glimpse into the true, deep, impoverished state of people on my little town, in this modern western culture. It really distresses me the subtle destruction going on all around me. Children committing suicide one after the other, divorces in every second person, hard-destroying drugs creeping into every day use. I know that we are not isolated here in Australia, I saw it in Canada when we were there. I think some where along the line we have swallowed a lie. A lie that says we are free but truly we are slaves. Born and bred.
We have started a community here, a tribe as I like to call it, who are on a journey to battle against this monster who is trying to consume the humanity around us. We are putting in a community garden, we are starting a youth program to help kids discover or remember who they are and what they are here for. We are fighting each other to push for truth and love and presence in the here and now. Sometimes it feels like there is a mammoth shadow pressing back down on us however truth, which doesn't belong to any human and any human made system or power, creates for those who stand in it , a force-field that this invisible monster cannot crush. It shocks me how powerful truth is.
Lots of love to you and Gillies and the children,
Chicken Slaughter, chicken slaughter, the words alone sound ugly, like a job you have to brace yourself for. Bracing to kill an animal, to see it struggle and its little heart beating faster as its life comes to and end, and I am not knowing if the axe will cut cleanly, or if there will be further struggle.
Is this the normal process a human mind goes through as it contemplates the process ahead of it? I don’t think so, maybe?
Phil doesn’t think like me at all. He says there is something broken in him where he simply doesn’t feel the emotion of it. But I still think I can see his hands shake and the adrenaline pumping, no matter how he braces for it.
There is no real stepping back from this process that your mind needs to go through to do things like cutting the body of another living being to pieces. What makes me shrug my shoulders mentally and with some incredulity is how easy it is to get butter chicken from an Indian restaurant and not spare a micron of our brains as to where, how or what happened to that meat we are putting in our mouth.
Do we sprinkle flavors over meat to further disguise it from where it has come from and to what we are about to do with it sitting on our plate? When does that bit of flesh transform in our minds from the living, then bloody dead body to, "yum I want to put that in my mouth"?
Is it only after it is rendered non-animal like, prepped, seasoned and ready to roast that our brains can agree with our stomachs. I know the arguments either way. Morgan declared himself a vegetarian the very night after being a part of the process of the kill, then proceeded to dig into a bucket of KFC with us at dinner. I am familiar with the thought process on the land, "this is the way it has to be if we want to eat". Growing up on a cattle station and butchering big, beautiful (delicious) steers every couple of months to fill our farm freezer.
Reading back at all these points of discussion, the bit that causes me a hitch in my gut is the disconnect point. The raw, bloody action of taking life to give yourself life. A holy, sacred act. We should feel it, the weight of it, the transition of it, from the life of another being to the delicious morsel of flavored meat that is about to nourish my body.
Every point along is a space that should be mentally dwelt in, considered, and meditated on. Sorrow, fear, respect, meaning, purpose and hope in the living of another day. The power of thoughts leading to action.
I am sick of burning up my time on this earth disconnected to everything, everyone, and most importantly to my thoughts and feelings. Even if at that precise moment my thoughts and feelings are unpleasant. To eat another animal I should experience those few unpleasant points in order to do honor and justice to that animal and to my own body.
How do you live your life and carry the responsibilities of it when you are trying to start a farm? We were at Morgan’s parent teacher interview yesterday and his teacher said he seemed tired and didn’t want to do his reading. I could see the questions in her eyes, “what have you been doing? Or not doing…?”. This last school term has felt like a blur, outside my head and inside my head.
There has been so much thinking going on, about Elon Hill and all the plans for it. I feel like my brain is in a constant wrestle with what I am doing, what I could be doing and what I should be doing. All of the responsibilities pressing in on me from every side, so overwhelming at times it just starts falling out the sides and all the most important things fall out too. Like doing homework with your children, reading to them, when you wake up in the morning actually looking at their faces and feeling the pleasure of their existence, not just the register of a set of more jobs that need to be done before school starts.
I know in my heart that there just has to be a way to be the most expressive version of yourself, the Artisan Version, whilst still loving and being present in the places that actually define your place and position here on this earth. How can something as beautiful as a person fully expressed take away from something as important as the love between and mother and her eldest, cherished son? There is not enough of me to go around I can see, but perhaps with someone else’s strength, power, joy and unconditional love, the gaps can be filled…and spilt out over the sides. If my life has enough abundance to fill and spill out of my mind, the King of Heaven and Earth and eternity, can follow those spilling places so that the mistakes are mixed and filled with His love. So that the damage is mixed with the catalyst of His pure love for me and the end results reverted from their deadly ending into a new path way filled with….life.
So Alexes said the goats were definitely pregnant. Then she said they would probably be about three months until some babies would be born.
Lo and behold... 6am this morning... Kellie runs into the shed and announces that we've had babies! Alexes assumes she means the goslings have hatched. But no! We run past the goose house, down to the goat paddocks to find a little brown fuzzy goat baby boy! So cute!
So... we didn't get any fencing done this morning :)