(As much as I love our home, everything has been bleak)
Since Norton’s passing the joy just seemed to drain right out of the farm. His little piggy ways, his snort-snort here and snort-snort there haunted me.
Amber did pay for most of the costs incurred, and Helix was removed from the property that fateful night. Amber took him to her parents house where he started attacking their dogs the next day. Her father not wanting another tragedy wasn't taking any chances and took him back to the shelter where he was adopted from.
The shelter was informed of the events, and I have no idea what happened after that.
Amber and Marcus moved out as it just was too much with the other dogs. And they did not want to part with any of their dogs. I was nervous as there were two other pit bulls in the group. Probably nothing would have ever happened, but I just couldn't live with it. And to add insult to injury there were some barking issues. It isn't often my very far away neighbors complain, but complain they did.
Except perhaps for the blasted roosters, I really do adore all the animals but the tragedy of Norton’s death hung around like a dismal cloud and I just cloistered myself away.
Quinn summed it up over hot apple cider, “You know, yesterday, it felt like Christmas, but today it doesn’t anymore.” So without much fanfare and a lot of prayer Christmas came and went. The New Year brought, Annabelle the llama and non-stop work on the honey business. Preparing for trade shows, learning QuickBooks, and streamlining the jarring process all under the watchful eye and tutelage of Awesomez.
(A Charger cake for Awesomez on her birthday)
Of course, life goes on my dad came for his annual visit, although each year his visits get shorter and shorter. And as is almost predictable- in a chaotic sort of way, there were issues with almost all the animals. The dogs got into some of Vivian’s pain medication and all four had to go to the vet for blood panels and treatment as it could easily cause liver failure. The despair Henry and I felt heading to the vet with Luther, Vivian, Bruno and Irish so soon after the last tragedy was overwhelming. My sister managed to come to the rescue, again.
Christina developed a fairly dramatic limp on her front foot. I tried trimming her hoof, but it didn’t seem to help so we loaded her in the Odyssey and took a ride to see Dr. Amber Itle at Kulshan, who gave her a good once over. Deemed fit we took her home again – but the limp persists.
(Christina en route - picture by Awesomez)
Alexis, Henry and I practiced goat foot trimming. Every one of the goats and sheep needed delousing, de-worming and Annabelle the quiet natured llama, settled in slowly becoming one of Rachel’s herd. At first, both the sheep and goats thought she was some sort of monster sent to eat them, but she was patient and eventually won them over. Truly she’s a gentle creature but she does not like Midge. Not one little bit. In fact, she gives her the stink-eye and a wide berth.
(Everyone getting along)
(Annabelle and Midge - not the best of friends)
Midge was lonely and received – special house privileges. (note Irish, Midge and Bruno)
Alexis worked on better feeding methods, winter barn solutions, building blockades and fixing blockades. Abe and Andy felt were not to their liking.
Our new tenants moved in a very nice young couple. Kristi is a nursing student and a caretaker for an elderly woman. Stephanie wants to be a copywriter, but currently works with autistic children. They have moved in lock stock and barrel. Painting the entire place to make it their own. Short of a chicken massacre by Hal or Haley they're two black cats I don't anticipate any disasters.
(Rose and her newest friend - Midge)
The unexpected bright spot has been Kristi and Stephanie's niece, Rose, the precocious 3 year-old who reintroduced me to the magic of my own farm. Rose believes with her heart that all the animals love, love, love her. And she's sure this is what heaven must be like. I believe she's right.
(Rosie and her new friend Midge)
Rosie screeches with delight as Midge's nibbles at her toes. She tosses her head back when Irish tickles her with his nose. Rosie loves to go to the barn and help put the animals away. She thinks she's going to win Annabelle over with alfalfa pellets. And who am I to argue? Strangely she is terrified of only one animal. Rat-Bat. That's correct, Bruno the smallest one of them all.
(small but mighty?)
(Kristi and another frequent visitor - Rose's little brother Xavier James- or as Tom calls him - "The X-Man)
All four goats received nightly penicillin shots for potential foot rot. And in a miraculous turn of events just before we left for Natural Products Expo West Vivian was cleared of her cancer diagnosis.
Thrilled, I took it as a sign of change.
We went to The Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and got our feet wet in the specialty food industry. We got such positive response we were encouraged to keep growing so Henry and I flew out of Bellingham to Burbank on our way to the Natural Products Expo West. We were chauffeured from the airport by none other than the hostess-with-the-mostess, June “Spoon”. Unfortunately, we only saw her fleetingly as she and Rod had tickets to Clapton and well, after all they were tickets to Clapton. So they took their leave while Henry sank into the comfy sofa and I chatted on the phone admiring the unique doors throughout the house while Tom inched toward us on the 134.
(Tom -selling his heart out -Member Candidates - we had a table in the New Brands On The Shelf Pavillion - No one under 18 was allowed to attend The Fancy Food Show so Henry stayed home with Quinn, Phoebe, Lisa and Chris)
When Tom finally arrived we stuffed the Ridgeline with some of June’s folding tables she was lending us for the show, our backdrop and everything else we needed to create our Henry’s Stingers booth and headed down to Balboa Island. My mother’s friend, Marie, had generously offered to let us use her beach apartment on Balboa Island during the show.
The next few days were non-stop: Disneyland - because how in the world could we travel all the way to Anaheim with a 13 year-old tell him he was going to work from 8-6 and no we weren’t going to go to Disneyland? The tsunami warning from a reverse 911 call at 4:30AM, endless spicy honey samples, smiling until our faces hurt. Henry did interview after interview and performed like a champ. He talked to “Chef Jamie” on KFWB, Delicious Living, White Apricot and even Entrepreneur Magazine. And for the grand finale? Henry’s Sweet Miracle Honey was named one of the top five new food products at the show. How lucky can we get?
(Delicious Living doing some video for being named one of the top 5 food products)
(Balbo Island- our view from Marie's beach apartment)
On Sunday, tired beyond imagination our truck packed we drove back to June’s for pizza and pampering. Henry sank into a giant bathtub while we discussed the last few days over garlic hummus and heard all about Clapton.
When we got home Alexis and all the dogs greeted us on the porch. I glanced around surveying all that was the farm when I noticed a duck amble by.
“Where’s Lance?” I asked. “There usually together.”
I could tell something was on Alexis’ mind when he began. “I didn’t want to call you in California. But a couple of days ago I saw this eagle down by the tree where big boys (Abe and Andy the Milking Devons) sleep. I thought it had a black squirrel in its talons, but when I put the barn away, only one duck came home. I went to where I’d seen the eagle and sure enough there were black feathers.”
“Oh, no! Now Angela is all alone.” Henry said. “Maybe we can put her in with Midge?” We all considered the idea and went in for the evening beginning the endless process of unpacking. Although it was another death, this was the circle of life. The eagle probably had a nest and needed food. We could live with that.
(Midge - always good for a laugh is making a pig out of herself - enjoying a pizza box)