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First night of Advent

Years ago, when our oldest was just a baby, we ran across a pamphlet from Focus on the Family, talking about Advent. We decided it was how we wanted to celebrate Christmas with our growing family and it has been our tradition ever since.

We start our Christmas celebrations the day after Thanksgiving, pulling out all of the ornaments and spending the day eating leftovers and decorating.

This year, we decorated the tree 3 times. THREE. It was so beautifully decorated....and then it fell over. We redecorated, re-centered, and tightened the base...and then it fell over again. We propped it up against the wall for the night. The third time, we tied it to the window. It's not going anywhere!

The celebrations begin in earnest on Sunday, the first day of Advent. We gather together and read, this year from Ishtar's Odyssey. The reading gets tricky during the chaos of Christmas, but we try to make it a priority. Sometimes we have to double up on chapters to keep up. 

At the end of the evening, we light the Advent candles. Daddy reads some verses and prays. And they all take turns fighting discussing whose turn it is to  light and blow out candles. 

If Advent is new to you, I encourage you to give it a try. You'll thank me. I promise! As my daughter said tonight, "I feel sad for the people that don't know about Advent. They're missing out on the fun!" It isn't complicated at all, just pausing to light a candle, read scripture, and say a prayer each night. We add in a chapter from a book each night, so ours takes about half an hour, but it could be easily finished in five minutes. Five minutes enjoying each others' company, soaking in peace during the craziest time of year, remembering the foundation of our faith, and anticipating the coming of Christ.

Jesse Tree Freebie

I love Thanksgiving. It is absolutely my favorite holiday. Family, food, and God's undeniable gifts overwhelming just doesn't get any better. My family loves Christmas, but we guard Thanksgiving very carefully. No Christmas music is allowed before the Friday after Thanksgiving. The decorations stay hidden in the attic until Thanksgiving is fully over. 

However, the week after Thanksgiving is the start of Christmas School and I have to get ready ahead of time. I try to sneak in my printing and planning early in the morning while the kids are sleeping. This year, I've created a new copywork book for them, introducing a new Jesse Tree verse for each day of the week.

Subscribers to Simblissity Cottage receive a free copywork of the Jesse Tree Copywork eBook. Register to access your copy.

*If you are already a current subscriber, you should have already received your download link. Contact me if it hasn't shown up in your email inbox. 

Mani-Pedi Day!

When goats scramble around on rocks, they naturally file their hooves down. When they spend their days in fields, they need a hand keeping those tootsies trimmed. Every couple months, they're rounded up and take turns with their spa treatment.

9 goats in a tiny corner, listening careful to the salon manager's advice.
We built a makeshift corner fence in the pen and draw them in with the grain bucket. They'll go anywhere for that bucket. They instinctively crowd into a corner and settle down once the snuggle in.

Our last spa day included hoof trimming, spraying eyes for some pink eye making the rounds, and spraying a few of their mouths with iodine to treat Orf. Orf is it's own special article waiting to happen. Nasty looking stuff.

The salon technicians pull a goat onto its side and hold him still. The goats put up a fuss for about 3 seconds and then lay still until it's over. It's wise to have extra hands holding the horns just in case they test the freedom before you're finished.

Typically, the hooves look like the picture below. The edges start to grow out and curl in, similar to fingernails.

A little snip, snip with a good pair of shears:

And then they're good to go.

This was our second mani-pedi day and we found this poor guy who slipped through the cracks during the first mani-pedi. His feet were a bit nasty.

I love to listen to Chris talk to them as he works. "Dahhhling, what HAVE you been doing? You've really let yourself go!" 

We hope to eventually move the goats to our back field, which is covered in bluffs and rocks. I'm curious to see how this affects their feet. 

Minerva, spa manager


It's been a year on the farm! Our biggest endeavor so far has been raising goats. We'd love to raise our own bacon, eggs, and perhaps milk, but we thought it best to start with one animal at a time. It has been a blast. Since we had a small field that needed cleared, we opted to start with goats.  It has been a blast!

Alpha Bob

And they've done the job well. In just a month, they took our small field from this:

This is actually several weeks in, but the original picture is hiding somewhere. 
to this:

The back section of field slopes downward, where they like to hide and devise ways to reach the creek below.
Care has been relatively simple. We built a simple goat shed, where they sleep at night and hide from the rain. We leave hay, minerals, and baking soda out free-choice, and feed them grain twice a day. We trim their hooves (mani-pedi day) and doctor them when their sick. Otherwise, they're pretty content to ramble and entertain themselves, which is fun to watch. They rarely try to escape, which was a huge concern before we started.

Our goat shed, with mineral and baking soda dispensers.
We brought home 20 baby goats and they quickly grew. Our original plan was to name them after Lord of the Rings characters, but they all insisted their names were Bob. If you try calling them anything else, they'll quickly correct you and say, "BOB!" 

Unicorn Bob 
Eventually, their individual personalities began to shine, and they developed more specialized names: Dumb Bob gets his head stuck in the fence daily. He has a bald patch on the back of his neck from rubbing it on the wire. Drama Bob thinks he's dying if you so much as look at him funny. Pocahontas Bob is graceful and beautiful. Granny Bob is the sweet grandmotherly figure in the bunch. Shawshank Bob...well, you don't want to know. Gross Bob developed a bad case of Orf and looked pretty nasty for a while. He's all healed, but the name stuck. 

The siren call of the grain bucket. They'll follow you anywhere if you carry it.
We thought goats would be a temporary endeavor, but we've all enjoyed having them and will likely make this a permanent plan. Chickens are next on the list!