Ah, it's finally almost summer and we are all loving the warmth of the sun and all the fun playing outside. The rain, not so much! Apparently, in addition to the animals, we also grow mud here on the farm!
We'd like to take this time to welcome to all the new Patreon Members! We thank you for your support and welcome you to this crazy journey on the farm! Our Member's Newsletters are full of detailed stories and photos from the previous month; mostly farm related but also family. We hope you enjoy being here with us and enjoy the newsletter!
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what May brought, let's start with some baby updates!!! Can we even call them babies anymore? The "kids" are now 12 weeks old and are just 10 days away from starting to leave the farm to their forever homes! WHAT? How did this happen!
The boys are reeeeeally starting to act like boys. I mean, they come out of the womb knowing how to give hugs, but now my sweet, snuggly boys are actually trying to pee on their faces! And can we just take a moment to talk about this picture of Thunder? He looks like a teenager! His legs are super long and there's nothing about him that says baby anymore. Ugh, so the call has been placed with our livestock vet, Dr. Cara, to come castrate the boys and we'll be banding the other boys this coming weekend.
The "babies" are loving the sunshine and warmer weather as well. They love sprawling out in the sun for a nap and grazing all around the paddock with their mommas. Aaron rolled his eyes when I said I wanted to build a swing for the goats, but it has proven to be a huge hit with babies and moms alike. And for those who watch the outdoor "bubble cam", it has been quite entertaining in capturing the king of the hill moments on the swing as well as the gentle moments like this one of Apple and Pi.
May brings one of our favorite times on the farm... Dandelion Season!!! In the winter months, much to the dismay of our vet, the girls go crazy for their animal crackers. However, they take dandelion time very serious as well. Once the flowers push up out of the ground, the moms eat them immediately. As they walk their babies around the paddock, there isn't a safe dandelion to be had. They've even convinced the neighbors walking by to pick their OWN dandelions at THEIR house and bring them over to our house... as if we don't have enough! But, as you know, the girls are very good at convincing others just how underfed and unloved they are.
One of Livie's favorite Spring time activities is picking feed buckets full of dandelions on her way down the driveway from getting off her afternoon Preschool bus. The girls follow me up the driveway and wait patiently for her bus to arrive. Some of the girls only come running once they actually see her bus. They know what comes next! Lots and lots of dandelions. The goats line the fence while sticking their heads out reaching for their turn. Some wait more patiently than others. The babies have even learned to love dandelions and will come running for Livie's bus as well. It's a great tool for socializing both human kids and 4-legged kids to be comfortable and respectful around each other.
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
We hope all the beautiful mommas had a wonderful, relaxing Mother's Day this year. I am a strong supporter of the idea that you don't have to be a birth mom in order to be someone's mom. Four-legged, 2- legged, feathered, furry, blood or adopted... if you love, care for, support, feed or nurture someone; you are a mother!
This picture means so much to me. Being these kiddos' momma is beyond a privilege. During the hard times and good time, I wouldn't trade my job for the world! They're each unique and special in their own ways. I especially love this picture of Jake as it was the first day after we called 211 for him and the day his road to healing and happiness began. I will forever remember the weight that was lifted off his shoulders the night before and how happy and free he was this weekend. It was, honestly, the best Mother's Day gift he could ever give me!
This Mother's Day, we stayed on the farm and hung out as a family. Tyler decided he wanted to sell Swanky Sauce, Farm Fresh Eggs and Goat Milk Lotion for Mother's Day at the top of our driveway. You know, like a lemonade stand, just SSF version! Tyler is quite an entrepreneur. He'll sell anything to anyone just like his Daddy. This boy set up his table and chairs, got all his products and stayed up there for a solid 5 hours. In that time, he sold nearly everything you see on this table. He sold stuff to the FedEx driver, walkers, neighbors and even people who saw our FB post and drove all the way from Niantic and Voluntown, CT! We are so proud of him, his work ethic and the awesome example he sets for his little siblings (and big one, too).
May = Mental Health Awareness Month
Let's get serious for a moment. Because life isn't always roses and cuteness... AND THAT'S OK!
Before this month, Aaron and I had very little experience with serious mental health issues. I mean, Jake had been struggling with depression and anxiety and we've had him in therapy once a week for over a year, but I'm talking about, knowing what to do in a true mental health crisis.
I want to say, if you or someone you love are struggling with any mental illness, please don't be too proud or ashamed to seek help. Whether you reach out to a friend, a teacher, a pastor, family member, or call 911 or 211. Please do it! You are not alone in your struggle. There are 40+ million Americans struggling with depression/anxiety. Society needs to hear those 40 million people speak up about their struggles before the stigma of mental health can change! I may find the #YouAreNotAlone to be a little cliche, but it's totally true and there's no other way to say it! You Are NOT Alone! And there are resources for you to get the help you need. Just like if you had diabetes or heart disease... you would reach out to a doctor for help and join a support group and talk about it with your friends and family. So why should we treat mental illness any different?
After we shared our story with our YouTube family, we were astounded by the outreach of support and love. But what was even more surprising was how everyone had their own experience with mental illness. Whether dealing with their own struggle or through supporting a loved one. We cannot thank everyone enough for all their support and love they sent to Jake and the rest of us over the last month. Jake being in the hospital was difficult for all over us in different ways. But having a flood of cards and well-wishes day in and day out eased the pain a little bit.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Helpline
It's confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
Warm Weather = Fun in the Pool!
When we were house hunting, a pool was not on our list of must-haves. Turns out, a pool is a TON of work and kills your electric bill. BUT, it also brings a lot of fun times for the family. A fews weeks before Memorial Day this year, we opened the pool. It takes time for the water to clear up and warm up before we can actually go for a swim... and by we, I mean the kids (and Luke).
Liv and Quinn are still wearing life jackets in the pool, although both can touch the bottom of the shallow end this year! I suspect both will be confident enough this year to take the jackets off in the shallow end. Livie even jumped into the pool from standing on the side like a big girl. Last year she was too scared to jump in like that.
One of our favorite things to do in the pool area is grill and EAT! The kids go through so much fruit salad, we should really consider growing our own fruit.
We, of course, go through a ton of Swanky Sauce as well. Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Steak, Corn on the Cob, Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad... all Syman favorites.
If you know anything about our family, it's that we are all super competitive. Syman Family Game Nights usually end in Family Feuds ;-) It wouldn't be summer unless there were several Corn Hole tournaments. This past weekend, we got the whole family involved, plus Rob and Jenna. Some people's techniques are a bit different from others but whatever floats your boat! This particular technique is all Jake.
Turns out, Rob is ruthless when it comes to corn hole and he went the whole day undefeated... I've been practicing every day in the hopes to beat him at least once this summer LOL!
Oh sweet Stella!
We had been talking about adding a third dog to the house since about February. At that time, our Great Dane breeder friend had asked us if we wanted Hazel's mom as she was being retired early due to 2 complicated deliveries in a row. Because we were gearing up for kidding season and Hildy (Hazel's mom) was finishing up a false pregnancy, we knew this process was going to move slow.
Once kidding season was over, we set up a time to go visit Hildy. Everything had gone really well.
Since we wanted to make sure this move was right for both us as a family, our 2 dogs and Hildy, the next step was to set up a playdate with our dogs and Hildy at our house, out in the cow paddock. It was at that visit my gut started to say this may not be the right move for our family. There had been one other red flag leading up to that day that I had been stuffing down. But there was something about how the breeder was handling Hildy that made me think she wasn't as easy-going as she made her out to be. I know my dogs and their history around other dogs. They've never done anything to make me suspect they'd get into a fight with another dog. But the breeder was treating Hildy and this playdate with an abundance of caution as if there had been issues with Hildy in the past. It got us all thinking about whether this was the right move for the whole family. Hildy is 140lb dog and if there were to be trouble, it wouldn't end easily or without a major injury. And because we have such young kids, we definitely didn't want anything to happen with them around. So, we made the really hard choice to pass up this opportunity. I know Hildy is a great dog and she does great at her house with her human kids and the other dogs that live there. But, I have to listen to my gut.
We made the decision to pass on Hildy and Aaron actually said, "so what are we going to do about getting a third dog?" Over the last few months, the whole family had gotten used to the idea of bringing in another dog and had been looking forward to it. So now what?
The universe is a weird place. All of a sudden, we had started seeing French Bulldogs everywhere. Billboards, commercials, out at stores... literally everywhere! Aaron and I had seen an English bulldog at the dog park YEARS ago, before we had human children, and absolutely loved her. But we were thinking about something smaller. Tyler's dream has always been to have a little dog, that stays little. And, of course, we have a great dane LOL So, when we started seeing all the Frenchies, I started reading up on the breed and looking for some good breeders in the area. We decided the Frenchie was the breed we wanted!
It wasn't until Jake was moved from the ER to the second hospital that we found Stella's breeder. It was weird timing because the family was in such a weird place but, oddly enough, it gave everyone something to look forward to... some happiness and joy during such a dark time. Anticipating Stella coming home and looking at pictures of her took our minds off of what was going on. Jake looked forward to getting updates on her during our visits with him. I had shown him a few pictures of pups from her litter and Jake knew Stella was the pup for us. Sure enough, when we went to visit, Stella was the perfect match for us! She came home with us that day and was there to welcome Jake home the very next day.
She has since wiggled her way right into our hearts. She's quite a goofy little thing who enjoys herding the chickens back to their coop, squeezing herself through the paddock fence to get to me while I rake under the goat porch and throws her body all over the couch during playtime with Hazel. She's a hoot! Hazel is doing a great job learning how to play with a little dog. At first, she was being too doofy and bouncy for Stella's liking. But they figured out that Hazel has to either lay on the couch or be standing in front of the couch and Stella has to be on the couch in order for a good, safe playtime experience. Stella acts like a little Mexican Jumping Bean during playtime and routinely bounces herself right off the couch. Playtime pauses until someone lifts her back up. Once Hazel and Stella are tired, they usually snuggle down for a nap together. It's only been about 2 weeks since we've had Stella, but I can see those two becoming very close friends in the near future.
Stella's favorite thing to do is to just be around people... Ok, around me. She's my little shadow! She does not like her crate... ok, she doesn't even use her crate. Her crate is in a puppy playpen that she uses when we have to leave the house and can't bring her with. Just recently, she has learned how to jump over said puppy playpen and I find her at the door when I get home... Not good, Stella!!!
Stella also loves her time out at the pool. Although she's not quite sure about the water, she loves taking a nap on the lounge chairs, chasing ants on the ground and following the bigs dogs all around. And because Frenchies can't swim, she also has a super cute mermaid doggy life jacket that is just stupid cute!
Lotion, Swanky and Swag!
The website has been getting some upgrades over the last month or so. I used to build our website and then we got too big and had to outsource to a real website developer. This has brought on challenges as I'm used to sitting down at the computer and just getting things done. Now, I have to slooooooow down and wait for someone else to do things and that's not easy for me.... to say the least! But, it's getting there!
We now have a nice and organized collections page where all Swanky Sauce products are on one page, all lotion on another, all Farm Swag on another, etc. It's nice and I'm enjoying it even though there are a few kinks to work out (I'm learning there will always be kinks to work out though)
We've released several new items this month. From a SSF Bracelet, to the Summer Collection of lotion and even canvas prints of all the goats at SSF! I won't go into toooooo much detail here about all that. But you can check out the "new" website for all that yumminess!
Again, thank you for all your support and love during this very difficult month. We will continue to do the very best we can for our family and farm but know we aren't going to be perfect. We appreciate every single person for reminding us every day that it's ok, it's going to get better and for their continued prayers and love. Together we will all get there. And I know by sharing our journey, we are making a big impact on others!