Welcome to our world. Here you'll find out about our family life, our alpaca ranch, our explorations in healthy cooking, and anything else that strikes our interest.
Tomorrow is Father's Day. For stores it is another chance to bring in more money by offering sales to get people to their website or into their brick and mortar store. For others it is a chance to have a special dinner, vacation someplace special, or otherwise make merry.
I strongly approve of having a special holiday just for fathers. Just as I approve of a holiday for mothers. Both are tough jobs. Neither are interchangeable. I've done the single father thing before, and for the kids it's just not the same.
I grew up without regular contact with my father. Sure, we had visitation time. He bought me presents and tried to be a father figure when he could. But he was more a "Disneyland Dad" (literally, on occasion). I didn't feel like I could confide in him. I didn't feel like he was really around to provide an example of manhood all that often. I am thankful to the good men in my life who did provide examples.
My wife had a similar situation growing up, except that she has had much less contact with her dad than I did in those formative years.
The crux of this is, other than my Heavenly Father and good men in my life, I've lacked the strong male role model.
So I have been a father for a while now. I am lucky to have my faith to guide me in what a father should be. I am lucky to have a good wife to complete and balance the parenting team.
There is no greater feeling in life than, when your toddler sees you after a long day at work, he runs into your arms and yells "Daddy!" Of course, my youngest is well past his toddler years. But there is a lot of satisfaction to be had in parenting.
But ultimately the most satisfaction to be had from parenting is not to look for satisfaction, but looking to satisfy the needs of others. I am far from perfect in this and still looking to learn the model, but I have had some thoughts on fatherhood throughout the years, as mostly I feel like I am just winging it.
You have to look after the emotional and spiritual needs of your wife. If she struggles, your children struggle. You have to spend time on her. Learn to cook so that she is not the only one cooking, for instance. Do surprise things for her. Help her to feel part of the partnership.
For your kids, you need to be an authority figure, a provider, and even sometimes a judge. Know your kids; one of the worst punishments for my eleven year old when he was a toddler was to have to sit still in a chair for a few minutes. For a very active boy like ours that was pure torture.
But most of all, be there to support your kids emotionally and spiritually. Be willing to answer their questions, no matter how silly they may seem. Be willing to put down your phone and have a discussion about Pokemon or The Avengers or whatever. Be willing to spend some time just playing with them or doing any activity.
I posted yesterday about making vareniki with my son. That was valuable father/son time that will be remembered by both parties for a long time.
In short, being a good father is making it all about your wife and kids, not about you. And when you do that you get the best satisfaction you will ever get in life.
We used to be into composting. Our kitchen scraps and other things would go into the composter so that we could get valuable soil out of it later. Since we got chickens, they have largely overtaken the composting duty. They love most sorts of table scraps. There are things they won't eat, such as onions. But there are many things that you might not even consider to be chicken food.
For instance, chickens love watermelon rinds. Even if you are good at getting all the red off, they will eat most of the green until only a dark green paper thin rind is left. They consider it to be a huge treat.
What do you do with your jack o lantern after Halloween? We give it to the chickens. Again, they will eat so much of it that you will only be left with a paper thin orange rind.
And we still get the soil. You have to age chicken leavings before you use them on plants, but otherwise it is very good manure.
Not only do we get the soil, but the leftovers get turned into people food in other ways. We get eggs from the chickens. And these eggs are far superior to store bought eggs, even in most cases to the "cage free" or other premium sorts of eggs. Our chickens not only have leftovers from our table to eat, they love finding bugs in our yard and eating those. They will even on occasion eat mice or snakes.
Lest you think we only let our chickens have what they can find or what we give them from the table, we actually do give them a high quality commercial chicken feed (or now fowl feed that we have ducks as well). But they really thrive when they get the other stuff in addition.
We really believe in reuse. We even reuse egg shells. Chickens need a certain amount of calcium. They get calcium in their commercial feed, but every little bit extra helps. We bake the egg shells to eliminate cross contamination. We break them up into little pieces.
Our chickens have been a blessing.
The easiest thing to grow on our ranch is weeds. Luckily, the alpacas love eating a lot of them, so we're providing them extra nutrition when we put it in with their feed. Chickens help with weeds as well.
That still leaves a lot of weeds that we don't want to feed alpacas, or are just easier to get rid of in place with a home made weedkiller. We use a mixture of Dawn dish soap and vinegar. It really helps kill those nasty weeds.
You can't use weedkiller, though, where there are plants you actually want to grow. We pick a lot of these weeds, and for the ones that don't go to the alpacas, we usually burn in a bonfire. Our son loves it. He roasts marshmallows and generally loves the huge fire. We frequently have friends over for the occasion. It's remarkable what a bonding activity it can be to gather your friends around a fire pit with burning weeds.
But perhaps one of the funnest methods of weed remediation is burning them with a weed torch. You literally hook a long torch made especially for the purpose up to a propane container and have at it. Aside from the atavistic thrill, which is very real, there is a practical aspect to it. With tribulus terestris, or goat's head weed, you definitely don't want to feed it to alpacas because it has some nasty barbs on it. Weedkiller doesn't really get rid of it longterm. The two best remediation techniques are a virus that specifically targets only goat's head weeds, or you can burn them.
We have chosen to burn our goat's heads. You need to keep the flame on them for a while, though, to make sure that you bake the roots. If you've ever stepped on the barbed seed of a goat's head plant, you will understand the satisfaction I experience when I burn one.
Still, you have to take a lot of precautions when you use a weed torch. You want to have a hose ready for putting any flames out. Anything dry will catch on fire much more quickly than the weeds will. And remember when you're using it, you have an open flame connected directly to a container of compressed flammable gas. Never point the torch at or even near the container. Be aware of the wind so that it's not blowing the flame onto the container, or for that matter onto anything flammable other than what you intend to be burning.
And ranch work can definitely keep you fit. Dragging around a 30 lb container of propane with your torch is definitely a work out.
We had our friends over to help us celebrate Shearing Day. It involves a lot of hard labor. First, our son and his friends would capture the lucky alpaca destined for the next haircut. Then the shearers would take the alpaca over to the haircutting station. Some were very recalcitrant about it, which is weird since I wouldn't want to be wearing a fur coat in hot weather like this. Some of them spit quite a bit. But if you look at the pictures above they look quite dashing sporting their summer look.
We're a family of three. We raise alpacas and chickens. We explore different ways of living healthier and happier. We love to share what we learn and to learn what you care to share.