Peak Hillbilly

☆ March 6, 2018

Daisy and Mara are living in the front yard. There are a number of reasons for this; primarily, it’s been the safest option for Daisy and the easiest option for me. Poor yard! The yard itself got the short end of the stick, but it was already well on its way to being trashed after being Sid’s playpen and Sunshine’s hospice area and it will come back to life with a little tlc.

When Daisy miscarried, I wanted to keep a very close eye on her to make sure there were no complications. And when Mara arrived, I wanted to keep a very close eye on the two of them to make sure they were bonding properly and that Mara was getting enough milk. And throughout it all, I was milking once or twice a day. And, being that it was the middle of winter, being that February was a frozen hellscape, I didn’t want Daisy traversing the ice if she didn’t have to, and I wanted the shortest commute possible.

The barn was occupied – half by Sir Baby and Jupiter (who must stay separated from the cows this time of year) and half with a haystack. Even if we moved the haystack, that part of the barn doesn’t have an adjoining, fenced-in outside area, and being outside in the sun in winter is actually warmer than being inside the barn during the day. The corrals, which also have shelter, were also occupied, and too far from the house for my liking. The yard was the best option under the stressful surprise circumstances of Daisy’s miscarriage, but if Daisy and Mara were going to winter in the yard, they needed some sort of shelter.

So, we backed the horse trailer to the north edge of the yard, giving the trailer itself full southern exposure, rearranged some fences, filled the trailer with straw, and viola! A portable barn. A portable barn! I now want to learn to weld and retrofit Mike’s older horse trailer (abandoned and unused for a decade) into a deluxe portable barn with a tiny loft for me.

I muck out the portable barn daily and fill it with fresh straw, and Daisy and Mara spend their days in the yard and sleep in the portable barn at night. I’m finding it impossible to describe how cute Daisy and Mara look curled up in there together. (I have tried to take photos of this scene, but it’s too dark for my camera if I sneak out there early, and when Daisy hears the door of the house opening at first light, she stands up, expecting her daily delivery of breakfast in bed.)

I have a feeling Mara will be really easy to load for the rest of her life – if she ever has to ride in the trailer, she’ll be like, “My childhood home!”



22 Responses to “Peak Hillbilly”

  1. Jo Davis
    March 6th, 2018 @ 7:09 am

    I have so much respect & love for you! You are incredible with all you do for your farmily! Wishing you a sunny day, an early Spring & good health! It has been a rough Winter here too in NH with lots of snow, freezing rain & tons of ice!!! We have another storm/ Nor Easta’ on the way tomorrow that could bring over a foot of new snow…. Our daylight hours are increasing a little more each day though, also we get to set our clocks forward this Sunday & I know Spring is coming!!!!

  2. Vee
    March 6th, 2018 @ 7:37 am

    I wish I had my very own Daisy and Mara… but in the meantime I am happy to live vicariously through your tales. <3 Much love.

  3. Holly
    March 6th, 2018 @ 7:51 am

    Oh my, she really is a cutie…..just love her

  4. Susie Brandt
    March 6th, 2018 @ 8:07 am

    Ah, the love.

  5. Marg
    March 6th, 2018 @ 8:11 am

    You remind me of the early pioneers Shreve with your ability to solve your needs with what you have on hand. Recycling the old trailer will be a great birthing room too, with a sleeping room for you to grab a few winks between pushes. What I like most is how your enthusiasm has never waned since you put down roots there. Happy welding.

  6. Rachel
    March 6th, 2018 @ 8:23 am

    Love this shot of Mara! She is gorgeous!!

  7. Patr
    March 6th, 2018 @ 10:10 am

    I would love a cow and calf in my yard. The dogs keep it torn up anyway…. now – I do think the piles would be a little larger than the 3 beagles and yorkie leave me. ;)

  8. mj
    March 6th, 2018 @ 10:20 am

    Your ingenuity is an inspiration to us all! Love your ability to make things work and to have the members of the farmily’s best interest in mind with all you do.

  9. torre
    March 6th, 2018 @ 10:34 am

    live this! Mara is adorable love the idea of a portable barn with sleeping loft!

  10. wright1
    March 6th, 2018 @ 10:36 am

    Ah, the logistics of rural living. Well-solved, Shreve. Here’s to warmer weather, tlc for your beleaguered front yard, and learning welding!

  11. Caitlin
    March 6th, 2018 @ 11:22 am

    Love the portable barn, and agree it would be a great birthing barn!
    Why “hillbilly”? Isn’t that just “ranch”? :-)

  12. JoDi
    March 6th, 2018 @ 11:48 am

    She’s such a beautiful baby!

  13. LJ
    March 6th, 2018 @ 12:19 pm

    Love this note. Heartwarming images.

  14. Debbie Lee
    March 6th, 2018 @ 3:12 pm

    Great up date Shreve, so happy all is working out with Daisy and Mara. I just love Charlie’s Book. The pictures of him as a little boy and Eli just brought tears to eyes, wonderful. x

  15. mlaiuppa
    March 6th, 2018 @ 5:51 pm

    Her face is darkening up. She no longer looks like Daisy’s girl, even though she never was, but she is.

    You don’t have a back door you can sneak out of to creep up on them? Of course, Daisy would probably hear the squeak squeak of your boots in the snow.

  16. pam ryan
    March 6th, 2018 @ 5:51 pm

    Shreve, I just can’t get enough of these little snippets of your life! Each one such a treasure to me.

  17. Judy
    March 8th, 2018 @ 8:19 am

    Indeed, your very own lovely mushroom fairy. Thanks for letting us see her.

  18. Theresa Szpila
    March 8th, 2018 @ 9:27 am

    Thanks so much, Shreve, for sharing your life and Farmily with us!

    Not to be too greedy, but have you ever considered writing/publishing a Farmily/Honey Rock Dawn book as a companion volume to your ten year anniversary Charlie book? God knows you’ve got enough photos and stories!

    Sending hugs and blessings to all,

  19. Ruth
    March 8th, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

    I second Theresa’s suggestion! I would treasure a companion volume!! Also, your solution-seeking, problem-solving attitude is an inspiration. A yoga instructor, watching us students struggle to hold a really weird pose, said “try to be fascinated rather than frustrated.” That’s you to a T…on a frozen hellscape!

  20. Laura
    March 8th, 2018 @ 9:02 pm

    aww so pretty!!

  21. Pat D.
    March 10th, 2018 @ 11:30 am

    Great story, wonderful pic of Mara getting ready for another day outside in the world.
    Thank you.

    Got the book safely, and have been dipping into it off and on. So sad to read of Eli’s disappearance, which for a cat in the country is never a good thing, as I know from experience. Glad you are at peace with it, as much as possible. Take care, stay safe and warm!

  22. Deborah
    March 11th, 2018 @ 11:45 pm

    What I know from living with animals all my life is that you do what you need to do to accommodate them. It’s often inconvenient for the humans, but hey, you own this animal, do what it needs you to do. I’ve always appreciated how caring for animals takes you outside yourself. My hypotethis is that if every depressed individual was given an animal those people wouldn’t need drugs or therapy. That might be a tad simplistic but I’ve seen what a pet (no matter size or sex) can do for people who couldn’t roll out of bed daily. If they had an animal dependent on them they’d rise to the occasion Full disclosure: Yes, I’ve experienced this firsthand).

    Congrats on your hillbilly front yard and happy cows!

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