Once I finished sweating to death in the blazing heat wave of Tabor City I headed onto Swamp Fox hwy, headed north and after a night of camping in Jordan Lake
|Jordan Lake was nice, very very close to Raleigh. I loved that this was in my campsite...|
|It is amazing what time will do...|
I rolled down a driveway in Oxford, NC anxious to see what awaited me on this volunteer assignment. Turns out…it was Karen!
|Karen and her flock of lovelies!|
As we got to talking (and Karen can seriously talk) we realized that we had stayed talking until around midnight out in her barn. I got the lay of the land (I’ll get their names in here eventually), a whole whack of goats, two gorgeous Great Pyrenees dogs, a Lama and two horses (one pure clydes, one clydes/paint). Got Karen’s story, where she worked and a bit of who she was. She laid out what she expected of me which was pretty straight forward in my opinion. Work with her hand in the morning (or her on the weekends) and be available for evening chores when she got home from her day job. The majority of the day was all mine and I could spend it as I pleased. Since I please to be stationary once the van is parked…I hadn’t really planned on taking any adventures through the Oxford area and settled in nicely for an extended stay. No internet was a great thing and I did some serious reading while there!
|View from my parking place. 27acres of goodness|
|I took it upon myself to be the feeder of the male goats..this is Fatboy striking a pose!|
It was still smoking hot in Oxford (home of the NC hot sauce festival) and I was again super thankful to have the privilege of cranking up the AC during the later hours of the day. The work on Karen’s was so drastically different than at Prince Bay Farm that in the beginning I was thinking it was pretty light and wouldn’t take too much out of me. I was right…and wrong.
|My man Roo...how you doing Roo?|
|Karma the 1yr old|
|Dharma the mom...she was soo soo big...and a little fat too! :)|
|Leave something equipment like and them goats be fooling around on it before you know it!|
|Just a big hairy spider!!|
|Speedy getting his game together...|
But the idea here was animals over land…feed the animals, and make sure everything was up to Karens expectations. So every morning with her helping hand Larry it was feeding time. Those goats…they all have a bit of character in them and when you put 16 of them together…you’ve got yourself a regular party. The baby goats are the funniest jumping on everything, hay stacks, other goats, farm equipment…and you. In fact one of those sneaky devils got some of my hair when I was thinking it was just being cute when it jumped on my back..not much but when I turned around and saw it hanging from his mouth I had a good laugh.
|Mikey and I|
|Pogo...and not me!|
Roo is the Lama…he’s a standoffish kind of Lama and it takes a bit to get close to him. He will let you touch him sometimes and he does this cool thing where he smells your breath over the fence when you talk to him. He certainly looks stoic hanging out on the “high pile” outside the barn.
Karen has her routine down to precision and I felt like I wanted to help…but I really wasn’t so keen on learning her seemingly complicated feed routine knowing I was only going to be there for a week. So thankfully Larry and Tiff had that part covered in the morning and Karen covered it in the evening. I tried my best to be as helpful as possible and I think that I did a pretty good job of it. Had I of been there for longer I would have certainly taken on the task but it seemed like something that really didn’t need to be stored in my memory.
Mikey and Pogo are the fabulous dogs! Pogo…well she was shy as hell and unless it was storming or unless Karen was lucky enough to get her collar…she wasn’t into getting any pets from me. Mikey though was a different story…he was a slobering pussycat that I took up the challenge on of brushing his insane farm dog coat. I made the brushing a pretty regular occurance through the week and between that and my tick maintenance I think he was pretty happy with me being there.
The horses were gorgeous and when Karen told me she rode dharma bareback my eyes just about popped out of my head. When she saw that she laughed. In her earlier years she worked on a horse ranch and was a very proficient rider even jumping bareback. Dharma is the older of the two and Karen has trained her fairly well. She has a bit of horse spunk but is a very well behaved big ass horse (both a reference to her serious size…and her chubbiness). Karma though is a 1 yr old spirited little punk ½ clydes and ½ paint. She does playful things like when you let her from the pasture and give her some pets…she reaches down and unties your shoe. ;)
I was super excited that Karen said I could take Dharma for a ride…then when that day finally came and I mounted the skyscraper of a horse I realized that this horse…was way too much horse for me to just jump on and take for a trot around the field. So even though I wanted to act like a mid-evil warrior tromping through enemy lines on my armour plated war horse…I instead asked Karen to take the lead rope and take me for a walk. That horse was so big…I love big horses but I have never been on one like that and it was awesome to feel power under me.
|Massive!! Karen had to stand back 10 ft just to get us both in it!|
|From up top...all smiles!!|
She’s also got two indoor cats Diesel and Little One…..all of that means that she is one ding dang busy woman!! What a pace she sets for herself!! Up at 4ish or something like that, in bed around 11 or later if Brian and her get to talking. I have no idea how she does it but I do know that if she didn’t she couldn’t afford the farm. As she said in her original email “I work ft during the week to support my farming habit”…that summed it up perfectly!!
|Little One wondering what I was up to|
All in all I had a fabulous week with Karen. She is smart, funny and passionate. Well educated and putting it all to use she was a great example of what you have to do if you want to have something you love in your possession.
I also had a great time with Larry and his kids Lacy and Tiffany. Larry just finished having a mild heart attack the week before I go there…like most middle age men he wasn’t really listening to the doctor and it’s not my place to tell him how to live so I did my best to take as much heavy lifting off him as possible. Hopefully he can get his smoking and sugar under control, I know his kids would love to have him around for this next 30yrs. *that’s my subtle hint for a guy I came to like and would hate to see him not do the smart thing*
Lacy and Tiff were a handful of fun. Tiff is 8 and a feisty little punk who constantly threatened to punch me as I ribbed and cajoled her. She a serious trip wandering the farm in her sandals and showing no fear of any of the animals, little smile on the whole time, big bright blues shining in the NC sun.
|The beast working his short stuff magic on the post pounder|
|Hanging with the Roo-meister|
Lacy…Lacy is a classic. A small town kid with big dreams of being a pro skater. All he’s got to do is stay practising his skating and make sure he starts paying attention in school. I know I’m not the one to tell someone anything about school but I do hope that he realizes he’s got a chance to make things easy or hard and hard usually takes you somewhere and easy usually leaves you right where you were…choices man..life is about choices! Oxford or the world it’s just a small matter of high school standing in his way.
He was great fun and the two of us cut each other up like brothers albeit his wit wasn’t anywhere near as savage as my own brother (which I was thankful of...and he's 16 so he's got time to make it razor sharp yet)! He never grew tired of “eh” and asked enough questions about Canada that I’m sure they aren’t teaching them anything about us aside from the fact that we live north of them. Hopefully one day he takes me up on my offer to come visit when he’s older and can check out the place I grew up loving. A land of kilometers, Celsius and proper pronunciation!! :)
I knew that after a week of goat poop, lama poop, horse poop, dog poop and my poop (great food that Karen had, I hadn’t eaten that healthy in a while) I figured I would be ready to head out. Then I met a guy named Sonny who was helping Karen with some of her projects and after talking with him I extended the stay by a day in order to be there to help pound in fence posts for Karen’s new goat pen. Sonny is a trip…70+ and could have outworked me and Lacy about 5 times over everyday of the week 365 days out of the year. He was funny, southern and a card.
|Larry and Tiff, and Karma and Dharma|
|Mickey (left) Sonny in the hat and Larry and on the right|
|I had never seen a post pounder..it is an awesome piece of machinery to have! No holes needed, just pure force|
|Lacy showing off his mosquito bites ;)|
|\After the big posts were pounded Lacy, Karen and I put in the skinny ones...there was a lot of skinny ones!!|
On the Saturday he showed up with Mickey (spelling?) and this guy was a serious MAN. You know how when you meet someone they leave this impression on you, like you want to craft some part of you more into being like that person. This guy did it for me. He and I worked on pounding the posts…he told me what to do, what to bang, what to look for (lining them up) and I think he took pleasure in sitting back while I attempted to manhandle these cabers under his post pounder so he could do his thing. He owns quite a bit of land, or rents it…not sure which but he is a serious farmer. He had some cool background, lived in Alaska for a while, worked pipeline etc. I really enjoyed meeting him and if I ever get back that way I will be seeing if he’s around and maybe checking out his farm while I’m there.
So after a sweaty ear drum throbbing day of pounding old utility posts into rock hard NC ground (I actually had been filling up buckets that had a hole in the bottom of them in the hopes that a slow dripping would help loosen up the ground enough for the pounder. Reason being that the week prior they had tried and after a while still hadn’t been able to get a single post into the ground due to its concrete like texture. All week long Karen and I were hoping for as much rain as possible and it turns out that we got enough to make the project possible. I don’t think the buckets actually did much but it was a great feeling to see them all standing strong at days end. At some point Karen will get enough fencing to wrap them up and once done…it will make her life with the goats much more manageable.
So last day, last feeding, last shower, last pet of the indoors, last hugging of Mikey, attempt at petting Pogo, touching Roo, petting the horses and the goats and laughing with Karen…it was time for me to mosey on down, err rather up the road, north towards the leaf. It seems like there isn’t much road to go…but there is. Where am I going after this…not quite sure but with an endless amount of blacktop in front of me I’m not starving for choices. A quick look on the map and…hmm..George Washingtons birthplace? Ok then….
Hugs abundance and warm wishes flowing between both of us… I really did have a great time and I can’t wait to see her again or if chance doesn’t allow it, to hear all about her farm victories and challenges as she continues to work her land and make her mark.
|A parting picture!!|
Thanks Karen, you rock!!
Ps…I’ll put it out here to make it official but if Tuck the goat has a boy I have made her promise to call it by my childhood nickname. If and when that happens..I will tell you my nickname and show you some pics of the goat who inherited a part of my awesomeness! :)
|Mom to be...Tuck!!|