Life on the Farm 2019

12-17-19 It is cold and snowy outside today. Art is doing the outside chores and I thought I would spend some time trying to update pages which don’t get updated. Took hours to figure out how to get this page to show up on the tab! Not sure I remember just what finally worked. Kim and I had a discussion about how being a bit OCD may actually be a benefit. We both like things done “right” or “well” and being OCD often obsess until we can figure it out, or fix it if its a problem.

Unfortunately it doesn’t always work, but today was a success, in figuring out how to update this page!

Here the whole reason I was going to update was I knew it had been awhile since I had wrote anything on the blog. This year has been a whorl wind of activities!! We started several very large projects! I have been planning things for years, but never quite put all the pieces together, of how and what exactly. Art has been doing 90% of all the physical chores lately giving me time to plan. Kory, my oldest daughter, is wonderful at seeing the end look, which I am not good at! Kim has been doing lots of emails, photos and computer work, so I can think. Justin, Kims husband, also is terrific at landscaping, besides excavating and doing the big projects. I am good at all the details of what a given space needs to have/do. Together we can actually figure out the whole project. Then of course it’s having someone to do the work as everyone already has very full lives! Justin was instrumental in getting the actual building work done! I decided we had to do repairs and smaller improvements first.

The projects:

1. Tore down the old mobile home which was the only house on the farm when I first moved to the property 16.5 years ago. After building the main house 5 years later, it had then housed a couple who rented in exchange for work. That unfortunately didn’t work out. Then it seemed to fill up with various items from all the various people who have moved in and out, (or stayed) but never went through their stuff. My mom and aunt, Aryne, Art, the renters who left bunches of stuff, and my own things that moved to the property with me into storage, then got moved out of the barn storage into the mobile home.

Needless to say getting all the stuff/junk out was a big project for people who are frugal, and dont like wasting resources. (some may call it hoarding, but its different when its also construction stuff needed for farm fixing, right?) My son-in-law, Justin, doesn’t have that problem and gave us a deadline, and then helped move the stuff. :/ Then he proceeded to tear down the really ugly mobil home. Kory has told me to get rid of it ever since the new house was finished! She was SO right! Justin can really get a big project done fast!

2. The flight pen which had originally also housed “miss Piggy”, ducks, and peafowl was falling down. Justin was set on that project. He works construction/excavation and wanted his helper to have steady work when they didn’t have a big job going. We needed work done so it worked great for all of us! They built a new flight pen, much sturdier than the last, and its attached to the side of the barn so the unused horse stall that had collected junk, and who knows what, was emptied and turned into an indoor area for the birds. I love it, prior they had a little 3 sided shed in the flight pen. Now it is a huge 10 x 20 foot inside space where we can have their can of feed, a feeder, and roosts all convenient and with room to spare. We even had the bottle baby bunnies pens hanging in there with plenty of space. The bunnies have since been let loose once they were big enough the cats wouldn’t eat them.

Most of the birds are loose on the farm. The ducks are quick meals for raccoons if let loose, so all the ducks and some of the peafowl live in the flight pen. We still need to add some trees, or something to the outside part as its a bit boring looking. It is so convenient I love it. We had a water hydrant outside there already (Justin put in years ago for me) and now with a short piece of hose it is a breeze to dump, rinse and fill the ducks baby pool with fresh water every day. Prior it was dragging a hose back and forth and the dumped water didn’t want to flow down the hill very well but just puddle. Where it is now is at the top of a hill going into a 5 acre horse pasture. The water is a benefit to the pasture, instead of a nuisance.

3. The pasture that goes all the way to the pond has shelter for the 2 horses by way of going through the paddock on the south side of the barn for them to get into that side of the barn. It has always been difficult to shut the horses out into the pasture if the paddock was needed for anything else. There are trees and hills but no actual shelter for that pasture if the gate is shut. The guys built a big 3 sided shed for Salsa and Sassy, the 2 horses, who call that south pasture home.

Now the paddock space can be used for anything without the horses in the way. The horses, in turn, have a terrific shelter at all times. Keep in mind wild horses, ranches, and most farms do not have any shelter for horses or cattle. They are lucky to have shade from trees, or a wind block. Many dont have either. In IL shelter is only required if the horse is a little baby, or very old and not doing well. We personally want our horses to have access to real shelter at all times, even if they often choose to stand out in sleet and snow, its their choice.

4. We bought a pump/bubbler/aerator thing for the pond. The ugly metal shed that had fishing stuff in it blew down in a storm over a year ago. The guys built a cute little red and white shed, that matches the barn, and horse shed, to house the pump for aerating the pond, and house the fishing stuff. That project isn’t all the way done. The wiring for it is dug in all the way out there but Art never had time to hook it up. The door was also put on opening in instead of outward like I wanted (to save floor space.) So the door needs to be hinged the other way. Justin got the big part done. We have a way of not finishing the details though, our daily work list is more than 4 people want to do in a day!…. Keith has been laid off work so I am going to set him on that project since Art has been much too busy!

We have real snow! 12-17-19.
The new little fishing shed. The inside area is only about 3.5 by 7 feet.

5. We had pens for miss Piggy, the rescued potbellied pigs, and rescued pygmy goats all in a row in front of the barn. Tacky looking, but it worked. Because the paddock space is eventually going to be a state of the art kennel we had to take down those pens. The guys put up much larger fenced pen for the potbellied pigs and pygmy goats on the opposite side of the driveway. Plus he ran another hydrate water line so we have water right there, and he has a line sticking out of the ground to hook up a frost free automatic waterer for them. They are costly so we don’t have the waterer yet. Having a hydrant right there has been so nice. We (Art) use to have to carry buckets to the old pens.

The rescued pigs and rescued goats had lived together when we got them starving last winter from a sad situation. If we hadn’t had the pens we wouldn’t have had a place to put them, but then the pens had critters making the kennel project much larger by needing to build a new place for them first. Miss Piggy got moved back into the old flight pen after they took the whole top of it down just leaving the fenced pen. She now shares it with the donkey jack who grew up enough to start fighting with his dad and needed to be separated. I dont know if they like each other but they get along. Now the whole space in front of the barn is no longer a paddock and pens, but open and ready to start building the new kennel! That will hopefully happen in 2020. With all the expenses and time to move everything and projects it didn’t get started this fall like we had hoped. Getting ready for the project turned into a year long project!

12-17-19. 1/3 of the new potbellied pig/pygmy goat pen. The little pigs are not fond of the snow and are in the huts.

6. The storm and termites had damaged the north side of the big barn badly, it was all sinking. The roof was a mess too. The guys jacked up the whole north side of the barn, put in new posts, and a new wall, re-used most of the tin, and fixed the roof. The barn is all solid on that side, better then when I moved in almost 17 years ago! They worked on the south side too so it is solid but there is still some roof repairs needed to be finished. Amazing what a couple hard working men can do!

7. They also put in a retaining wall around the side of the house, visible when you drive up. The deck never finished, when the house was built also on the side, (long nightmare story there!) I have dreamed of finishing the deck to be able to use it (no fence and terrified the dogs could follow us out and try to jump off so we dont use it.) Also of having a fenced area to let house dogs out to play and potty. We often have visitors and have to try and coordinate letting dogs out and getting them back in before anyone pulls up the driveway so no one is in danger.

I finally figured out a plan. By putting in a retaining wall we can have a gently slopped area for the dogs to go out, instead of a very steep hill. We plan to put in a ramp instead of stairs from the deck to the fenced yard. The frenchies need c-sections, which mean we carry them up and down the 4 front steps to take them out to potty. With a ramp they can safely walk out themselves. Most of the retaining wall is done, it still needs to be backfilled. I had them put concrete under the deck on the same slope it was, water will run off, and getting it all level would have been just too costly. Now it is easy to clean if dogs potty under there, while still letting them under there for shade. Once they fill in the yard I plan to have astroturf on the yard part. The dogs will stay really clean, and it will be easy to clean up after them. I am so excited for that project to get finished! Carrying c-section dogs in and out all day gets tiring.

8. The garage side of the house has always had gravel exercise runs for the dogs. The guys also put in retaining walls around the back and side of the garage so it can be concrete instead of gravel. We will put in doggy doors and then the dogs who are in the kennels can go in and out as they please. Currently Arts most time consuming job is letting dogs in and out all day every day. It will simplify that job, and give the dogs lots more time to play outside as long as they want, and they can go back in anytime they want. (The kennels are of course heated and cooled already.) In addition Art and I can be gone for more then 4 hours without hiring someone to let the dogs out. Then hired help can just check on them and do other projects.

Unfortunately Justin has had some big jobs in the city so hasn’t been working here in about 2 months so those projects are waiting for his return. Art and I are both excited to have the dogs have their own doggie doors! The dogs will be happy too, as we had to make the exercise runs a bit smaller while the guys are working on the project.

Eventually the new state of the art kennel will add space to be able to do more dog rescue, have a cat area, and a small “apartment”. Art and I can go on vacation and someone can easily stay here 24/7 to watch over all the critters. They can even bring their own dogs with them. We rarely ever go anywhere together for more than a day because it’s so hard for anyone to be here enough as it is.

Learning how to use the new “blocks” in wordpress. So added a photo.

One of our cute cavapoo puppy’s.


I just discovered this page is not, or was not, showing up under the 2019 blog tab button. I have spent 2 hours trying to figure out why I can see it the editing, but if I click on the 2019 button nothing shows up. We raise excellent dogs and puppies, but this technology stuff is SO difficult and I am not good at it.

WordPress did do an update and now there are blocks of something that I dont understand. I think it is suppose to make it easier to edit.

Unfortunately Kim is like me and can attempt to figure things out, and usually does but neither of us have any knowledge of how it all actually works. There isn’t anyone else here to help. Hopefully I can get Kims sister in law to come out. She is a wiz with computer stuff, but is also very busy….

I have spent all the time I had to write a new update trying to figure out why the page is blank. I did figure out how to add more to the Happy families page, including slide shows.

9-24-19. I don’t know where the previous posts have gone, or if I have been so over the top busy I never actually wrote anything this year?

It has been busy! Art went south to visit family for 1 to 2 weeks on 3 different occasions. I do his chores while he is gone and then have to spend weeks catching up on mine. I know I never answered emails and feel so bad about it!

One of my aunts passed away this summer after several months of being ill. I went north a couple times to help my cousin with going through things and taking things to donate, brought home lots of clothing for the various family members to see if they wanted anything. They were remodeling the kitchen so Art went up once with the trailer to bring home the old kitchen cabinets. We hope to use them in the new dog kennel. May use them in the apartment we will build off the new dog kennel office.

One of Arts older sisters moved in with us in January. (He has 12 siblings!) Its was a difficult time for her, she had lost almost everything. She has an old dog and an old cat. The dog was ill a lot and we had to make quite a few trips to the vets. She was in and out of the Dr’s herself and has been hospitalized several times. We take care of the dog and cat for her when she’s in the hospital. She doesn’t drive anymore so usually Art takes her to the appointments. When he was gone I took her a few times.

The cat is a problem as we almost all are allergic to cats. We had her in a huge pen in the kennel, for months but Kim and Libbie could no longer go into the kennel without sneezing and gets sick. But it was cold so she couldn’t be outside. She is declawed in the front and old so I dont know if the farm cats would be nice to her if we just let her loose. Then she was in a covered dog kennel outside with the nice weather. Now we have made a big horse stall cat proof so she is living in there. We will have a heated house in there for her when it starts to get cold. She’s super sweet but with all the people being allergic we just can’t have her in the house. Once the apartment is done Renee can have her in her place. We will have a window air-conditioner and radiant heat floor in her apartment so we dont have the air circulating between the kennel part of the building and her part of the building. Good for her too as the dogs always make lots of dust, besides some of them shed.

The dogs annual health clinic in April was terrific. Libbie and Kim came with Art, Uncle Al, and I so things went very smoothly. We had Libbie’s dogs, Kims dogs, my sons dogs, Uncel Al’s dogs and our dogs all with us. In addition any dogs we have in the foster to adopt program we do. It was quite a large pack! Amazingly almost all the dogs passed everything they were tested for. One of the older Cavaliers had a heart murmur but doesn’t need any medication. Almost all Cavaliers will develop a murmur at some point in their life. Now with responsible breeders doing yearly heart exams they are living longer with no actual problems even with a murmur. I have checked in on several retired parents we had and so far none of them need medication.

We had lots of hogs, they are as prolific as rabbits! We have taken most in to Korte meat market, and they are now are in the freezer. We still have 6 sows. They simply kept growing up faster then we could take them in and then another would have more babies. We are trying to cut back to only have 2 sows and we will borrow, or buy a boar each year for babies only once a year. Currently 1 sow has 3 piglets and the other had 6 but somehow managed to lose 2 of them. Its so sad. They are good moms but the piglets are just little. Normally they raise 6 to 11 each. A commercial sow is expected to have and raise 11 babies everytime. We have heritage breed Large Black Hogs. Sometimes they have and raise big litters and sometimes they dont.

The guys tore down the ugly old mobil home I had lived in when we first bought the property 16 years ago. It was ugly and old then, but being a mobil home and not a house made the property affordable. We built the house after living here 5 years and have been building and fixing things ever since.

Someday I want to fix up the historic 1700’s log cabin to be a primitive camping cabin. It is said to be haunted and is one of the original log homes in this area. Currently the roof is a mess, with holes big enough the raccoons pop their little heads out and survey the farm. The foundation is all caving in and the whole thing is listing to the side. Justin can jack it up and put a foundation under it. It’s a big project. Sounds simple so I wanted them to just go do it. But apparently it is much more complicated and expensive then it sounds and they dont have all the equipment needed to do that kind of project. Funds are very scarce so it is on the really want to do list, but not the need to do today list….

We have been doing lots of repairs and remodeling on the farm getting ready to build a new state of the art dog kennel building with an apartment for Renee, bathroom, office, and kennels with radiant heat floors and of course air-conditioning. It will have a yard with privacy fence all around it to help block cold winds, add shade from the setting sun when its so hot in the summer, and to help block noise. We will have an agility area for the dogs to play, and not sure what else. I want to have a swimming pool that is shallow, so its safe for dogs who don’t swim well but may want to splash around in for something different to do on hot days. I want a separate wing to be licensed for doing rescue work, since rescued dogs have to be kept separate from our dogs per some weird rules someone came up with. Lots of ideas! Although putting them all into practice and the ever annoying budget limitations is another story.

Kim’s husband, Justin, and brother in law, Kevin, plus my son, Keith, and whoever Justin currently is working with when he is excavating have all helped out. They have completed a new huge peacock pen for the ducks and peacocks that is safe from the raccoons who decided to not only move into the barn, and cabin, but also raise cute families. They made a pig pen more then 10 times the size it was for the rescued potbellied pigs we ended up with back in February. 3 of the pigs were pregnant at the time, unknown to us. They all had babies! We managed to find homes for 6 of the 11 babies. Justin use to work on his uncles hog farm so he helped castrate all the boys so no more baby potbellied pigs! There are now 10 living in the big pen. No one here but me thinks we should just eat some of them. We eat the big hogs and they are more friendly and personable then these wild little guys who run like mad anytime you get near them. they are like feral hogs or something. The only one who is laid back is the one they told us was the original mom to the 3 young pigs we rescued with her. She was a bag of bones, her skin was all weird looking and she was going to die if she didn’t get care. I never do things as 1 only so we took 3 of her babies who were half grown also. 1 was a boy, the other 2 girls.

The same place had starving goats also and we got 3 of them, 2 does and a buck. The 2 does were already pregnant. The neighbor fortunately stepped in and took the rest of the big herd while we were trying to figure out where to put them if we needed to get them all.

The goat kids fortunately survived as we had the moms a few weeks with lots of feed before they were born. Plus we had them in a protected horse stall with heat lamp so the babies would stay warm. There ist was a open to the cld north wind, concrete floored shed. It was SO cold 🙁

We kept one of the doe babies with blue eyes, and have the 3 adults. It was really easy to find homes for the other 4 babies. We had so many calls for them we decided it wouldn’t hurt to allow them to have more kids. They are so entertaining! They would actually slide down the Little Tykes plastic slide and do leaping, kicking, jumps from one platform to another. We figured company who visits will really enjoy seeing them, we love to watch them play! The kids are left with their moms to be raised, unlike dairy kids, so low maintenance for us, no bottles. Then we can sell them when they are ready to be weaned so we keep to the same 4. The one goat they had named Hope and said she was a favorite, yet shes scared of everything. The other 2 were definitely never handled. We still need to name the brown and white doe with blue eyes and the buck who is black and white with blue eyes. I need the baby Sapphire, since she also has blue eyes.

Our dairy does, prior to getting these starved goats and pigs, had 13 kids between the 6 does! Art had the job of milking, 5 are still being milked once, or twice a day. The dairy kids are always taken away from mom so the moms can be milked, and the babies can be sold on a bottle, or they can be sold after weaning. They are super friendly and easy to handle when raised on a bottle, which is very important for future milking does! I start them on bottle and keep them in the house, in the bathtub when first born. It’s easy to clean. By the time they can get out of the tub we move them to a stall with a heat lamp. They were born in January and February! It was SO cold! We did find homes for all of them, even the 4 yearling goats who we still had from last year. Last year was so busy we didn’t have a chance to keep them advertised in order to sell them so they were here over a year. The extra animals take even more time to feed an d care for so our goat as a working farm is to have the offspring and extras sold as fast as possible.

We also sold the young donkeys we hadn’t advertised when babies in 2017 and 2018, so most were all still here. We found homes for all of them but a 2 yr old jack from 2017. We also sold several adults so I have less hoof trimming to do. Our old farrier (person who trims hoofs) is no longer doing that job and the new one is doing the horses only. Their hooves were getting too long since my back isn’t the best and I could only do one every so often. They each need done about every 2 to 4 months.

One of the things we did this year is pour a concrete pad to put the donkey hay feeder on. It helps keep their hooves worn down as they walk on it eating hay, so they don’t need trims as often.

Our big barn was having real issues a couple storms had knocked a wall loose and blown tin off the roof. It was slowly rotting away. Art was unable to fix it and everyone was too busy to help. This year with Justin not excavating near as much as usual we have kept him busy. He and Kevin torn off the whole wall, rebuilt a new one and put it up. they fixed the roof in the many places it was leaking, or had rotted wood and no tin.

A little white storage shed had blown over in a storm last year. It held the fishing stuff down by the pond. Justin and Chris built a new little shed out of mostly scarp stuff we had around to house not only the fishing stuff but a pump for aerating the pond. Art hasn’t hooked up the electric for the pump yet. ITs all in the gourd and ready but he has been going non-stop with his sister and doing basic chores. This year wasn’t as dry as others have been, so we didn’t have the big fish die-off when the water gets too shallow, too warm, and the way too much duck weed robs the water of oxygen and the combination of the 3 kills the fish. So even with the aerator not going yet we didn’t have the die off. Plus last year may have already killed all the bigger fish, so may not have had big fish to die. In the past the various people fishing have caught 7 and 7.5 pound bass, 4 to 6 pound catfish, and huge sunfish from the pond.

I cant stand the idea of breaking the damn and letting it dry up in order to dig it deeper. Every year wood ducks raise a family and Justin said it will take 2 years for it too dry enough to really dig out. I want him to just scoop some dirt from the bottom and make one or 2 areas that have a really deep spot instead. Seems more habitat friendly to me.

On top of the little shed, the peacock pen, pig pen, and fixing the wall and roof on the barn, they also put in a new 3 sided shed for the horses in the pond pasture to have shelter without going into the barn. We needed to be able to shut the gate, and they needed an alternate shelter. The paddock, they use to walk right through to get into the barn, is going to be the building sight for the new kennel!

DreamCatcher Hill Puppies and Rescue