Tag Archives: permaculture

My Life is Ruled by Tiny People

You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.

— Song of Songs 4:7


With Baby Geer #3 on the way, (oh yeah? Did I tell you?)


I thought I would reflect a  a little, and write a post detailing what my life has become on the day-to-day with two toddlers running around.  So much different than 6 years ago when I was going to parties (aka getting a hangover), rock climbing (miss this), and complaining about being bored (I wish).  So here we go, a glimpse into the glamorous life of the Geer clan.  I’m sure many of you can relate.

Bathroom trips:  Something that is a necessity of life and something all of us do multiple times a day, right?  Well in my life it usually results in crying or death defying stunts. It takes about 5 seconds for them to realize I’ve disappeared and that I will be unavailable for at least 30 seconds.  One of three things proceeds to happen.

  1. Someone sits outside the door crying because I’ve left them out.  This is the ideal situation.  It means no one is trying to die, kill the other, or do something gross.
  2. Someone climbs on top of the table/counter/chair/any high place really so that I have to rush through whatever it is I may be doing. I know this is the case because it’s quiet.  I walked out of the bathroom this morning to find Caroline standing on top of the table.
  3. I am accompanied in to the bathroom where there is the opportunity to play in the shower, unroll the toilet paper, flush the toilet over and over (with me sitting on it of course), or try, to my absolute disgust, to dig through the bathroom trash.  All done juuuust out of reach.


Fun! Fun! Fun Mommy!


Food:  If you didn’t know, now you will, that…

-A banana breaking in half while peeling it makes it inedible.

-If we are at our house a peel on an apple or peach makes it inedible.  I have yet to figure out why this only applies to being at home, because a peel is totally acceptable in public.

-The only reasonable thing to do when we are finished with food or drink is to dump the remaining on the floor (or me).  Same applies to wrappers or peels.  But only in the house, outside I am handed everything. At least we aren’t littering.

-Everything I have is for sharing.  Food, tools, computers, writing implements. This is not reciprocal.

-If I am wearing clean clothes, this is a big freaking deal.  Everything that anyone in the house under the age of three eats, I end up wearing, because…


-My shirt is a safety line.  Worried about falling? Grab on!  Need help standing up?  Here I am! Feeling happy, sad, nervous or devastated? Here’s my shirt!

-The only acceptable thing to grab on to when throwing a temper tantrum is my pants.  Since baby number three has expanded my waist line, most (all), of my pants have elastic waist.  I have a whole new reason to fear tantrums in public, loosing my pants.

-Talking the two year old into changing clothes in the morning is like negotiating a multi nation trade deal.

-My favorite… if you stood outside our house during a diaper change or clothing changes you would imagine we were torturing children.  Screaming, crying, everything you would expect if I was say, poking them with a fire poker.  But alas all I’m doing is trying to keep them comfortable and to not smell bad, but I’m pretty sure they consider this torture.


-I’ve given up trying to sit on furniture, of any kind pretty much.  This includes eating at the table or sitting on the couch.  Someone always insists on joining me, and then tries to dive off. And then they cry, not worth the comfort.

-I have many children’s books memorized, because I read them 20 times in a row, every night.  Too bad Vice articles weren’t as entertaining to them.

-If I do anything I require assistance.  Laundry involves help emptying the clean clothes out of the basket, while typing I always need help hitting the right keys, and I absolutely can not do dishes with out a small person standing under me or staring at me and trying to crawl on the counter.

Every single one of these moments is peppered with humor.  Either of the absurd situations I find myself in multiple times a day, the variety of faces a one year old can make, or the imagination of a two year old.


 There is so much love too.  Seeing them help each other with a task (usually something they aren’t supposed to be doing, but hey?) Give endless kisses and hugs, or the simplest, what would be meaningless to anyone else, gestures that I can never get enough of.  Every moment of this experience is completely worth it and gratifying.  Though I’ll be honest, there are about 50 times in the day I would say I lied to you about this.  I go to bed every night exhausted but overwhelmed with love.



Farm Life

So what’s been going on at L&S Farm over the last few months other than growing a new family member?

Well… life hasn’t been easy, there has been quite a few ups and downs, but things are looking up, dare I say it too loudly for fear of jinxing us.

We have 12 pigs who are coming of age which will be great for business.  We had two new litters of piglets born in the last few weeks totaling 16 new piglets.  They are adorable.  We have one more mama almost ready to give birth and she is huge.  It will be exciting to see how many babes she will have.

We have successfully plowed and planted our large field in preparation for all these piglets.  They will be raised on a rotating pasture system, moving from fenced off area to fenced off area eating the high protein crops as they go. We lucked out with the timing of planting.  Shawn’s been keeping track of the rain and moon cycles for the last few years, and successfully predicted a good time to plant.  It’s rained nearly every day since we put the seeds in the ground and a week later the whole field started to sprout.  I can’t wait to watch the process happen the way I know Shawn has been planning for the last few years.  He’s also been training the pigs to come when called and Caroline has started using the call too, it’s freaking adorable.  How cute is it going to be seeing this little blonde head leading the pigs out to pasture.

image1 [74982]
We’ve also had the opportunity to experience how truly lucky we are to have our people around us here.  The last few months would have been devastatingly hard if it weren’t for our friends.  From helping kid watch, to helping build fences (in more ways than the obvious), bringing us food so we could have a small break, and even just listening ears and solid advice. I feel so blessed and lucky to have these people in our lives.  There were many times their kindnesses had brought me to tears.  So I say from the bottom of my heart

Thank You.


Some interesting links for you:

The life of a Russian Rhythmic gymnast

Today I Lived and You Did Too



She drank from a bottle called DRINK ME
And up she grew so tall,
She ate from a plate called TASTE ME
And down she shrank so small.
And so she changed, while other folks
Never tried nothin’ at all.


It’s funny how time passes.  I look at the clock and an hour passes in what seems like seconds, at other times five minutes feels like an eternity. How is Gus two already?!

Oh!  The dogs are barking.  Is someone here?  Wait, it’s 2 in the morning, I hope no one’s here.  I hope they aren’t chasing the cats.  Should I go outside and check?

Is that someone looking through the window?  Nope, just my plant.

I wonder if Gus is cold?

These are the thoughts and conversations I’m having with myself while I’m up in the middle of the night with a certain baby.  Who hates to sleep.  I may be loosing my mind.  I wonder how long someone can keep it together running on so little sleep, because I don’t think I’ve slept an entire night since Gus was born nearly 2 years ago.  And I’m positive I’ve had, at the most, 4 hours of consecutive sleep at a time since Caroline was born 7 months ago.  Lately (like for the past month) 2 hours at a time is the norm.  And this girl likes to party.  We have little parties a few times a week in the middle of the night.  She will decide that rolling around like a mad women is much more entertaining than sleeping.  Because her crib is too small for such shenanigans, she prefers my bed.  It’s my job, apparently, to make sure she doesn’t dive off the bed or suffocate herself.  Usually these parties last about an hour or so, that’s about the time she tires herself out and we are allowed to go back to sleep.

Good thing she is so darn cute


How can something that feels so rewarding, be so boring, exhausting, and infuriating all at the same time?  Hello parenthood, I hate you and I love you.  But I’d love you even more IF YOU WOULD JUST LET ME SLEEP.

So it’s been awhile since we last spoke, I’ve been trying to keep everyone alive, while also not succumbing to madness from sleep deprivation. Priorities.

We ended August saying goodbye to Sam and Amy.  They became our family, and the moment they left their presence was missed.  We were back to teaching the ways of the farm to new volunteers every couple weeks, I had to adjust to being able to take care of Gus full time.  Amy and Gus went on adventures every morning while I took care of Caroline and worked on my end of the business.  So many adjustments.  Sam knew the ins and outs of the butcher business, and I don’t think we will have anyone cut bacon better than he did. Frankly, life seemed a little empty there for awhile.  You can follow their adventures on instagram at karmathekombi.  I know they will go far, and I can’t wait to watch.

We’ve had some really interesting and great volunteers come through in the last couple months.  Andres and Amy from the U.S. And England.  Cami and Dennis, a French couple.  Tim from New Zealand,  Elaine and J.J. from Ireland (Elaine could be my best friend if only she accepted Tuna in to her life) Sam from the U.S. and Adrienne and Lawrence from Canada.

Shawn and Gus got to go to the United States for a couple weeks.  I was very jealous, and it was very quiet around the house.  The quiet was especially felt in the mornings and evenings.  No one dancing on the couch, asking to go for a walk or play “choo choos.”  (And that’s just Shawn) I thought the quiet would be nice, it wasn’t.  I realized how wonderfully full my life is.  Isn’t there a saying about this?  “You don’t realize what you’ve got till it’s gone,” or “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  All those apply.

They got to spend time with Grandma Betty, Grandma Jesse, and Gus got to hang out with all of his cousins, Aunts and Uncles, and of course his Nana and Papa.


Isn’t this how everyone travels?


Go Gus! Proud Mommy over here.

Something very cool happened while they were there.  I am apart of a Mommy Group on Facebook. We all have babies the same age as Caroline, well they put together a care package for me that Shawn’s mom picked up.  It really was such a cool and amazing thing.  All these ladies I’ve never met in person pull together and help each other out. So much love and support, I was honored.

While they were gone our good friend Washington helped the volunteers harvest honey from the hives.  So far its been a great year for honey, the bees have been busy.  The volunteers who helped learned a lot and Washington really enjoys teaching.  My house smelled amazing too.


Photo credit to Amy (of Amy and Andres) some honeycombs from one of our hives

We think it was such a successful honey year because we had some late rains at the beginning of the “dry season.”  Ecuador has two seasons, Rainy Season (during the North American Winter) and Dry Season (North American Summer).  The rains encouraged the Eucalyptus trees, which are abundant here and from which the bees get 99% of their honey, to bloom late.

Big Momma had some heartbreaking news (our big sow).  We thought she was pregnant, but as the time for her to give birth came and went we realized something was wrong.  Dany (our vet) came out, turns out it was a phantom pregnancy.  We just can’t catch a break these days. Everything else on the farm is trucking along.  We have 10 “piglets” running around. Everybody had their pastures moved around some, and the rainy season has begun which is always a refreshing change.

image2 image1-1

Caroline has started to eat solid food, sits up by herself for the most part, and is starting to be mobile.  I fear crawling is only about a month away.  She loves her walker and bouncer, and really likes running over her brother.  From his screams you would think it was a train running over him, and he was tied to the tracks because he doesn’t get out of the way. She does this adorable thumb sucking thing too.


First food!


Gus is quite the jabber mouth, he adds more words to his vocabulary every day, and practices them constantly.  We’ve started preparing him for potty training, which has also added some great words to his repertoire. He loves trains, and trucks, and spotting airplanes flying overhead. He will help you out doing anything you ask him to.  Wanna dance? Just turn on some music and he’s there ready to bust a move. He can jump, pretend to be a frog or bear. You’ll know if a dog or cow is within your vicinity as he promptly moos or barks when one is near.  There are quite a few cows and dogs on our drive to town.


Helping with lunch


Finger painting fun


Some of my girlfriends and I are throwing a Halloween party and Gus will get to get dressed up and go trick or treating. I am not going to miss this particular tradition with my kids, and we are so lucky to have friends willing to help. I’m sure I’ll have lots of pictures to share.

The tradition of trick or treating and getting dressed up for Halloween is not something they practice here.  Shortly after Halloween, on Nov. 2nd is the Day of the Dead.  The indigenous bring a meal to the cemetery and have a meal with their ancestors, remembering and celebrating them.  They make bread in the shape of babies and horses, and a drink called Colada Morada out of the tiny wild blueberries that come in to season this time of year.

November and December bring visitors!  An old roommate and good friend is coming down in the beginning of November.  I think it’s been about 3 years since we’ve seen each other. I’m ecstatic to show her around our paradise, and meet her husband for the first time.

Shawn’s family comes in December, and we are going on vacation!  The Mindo cloud forest, sightseeing in Quito, and the beach for a few days, who hoo! We are using AirB&B for the first time, I’ll let you know how that experience goes, but the thought of my two children sharing a room to sleep in is already giving me anxiety. But who knows maybe Caroline will figure out this sleeping thing in the next two months and it’ll all go smoothly. (Hopes and dreams eh?)


Here’s what I’ve been reading/watching:

This fed my adoption bug – The Child I didn’t adopt

This is pretty rad, a language that’s around us all the time as it’s the native tongue of most of our neighbors, this Girl rocks out some Michael Jackson in Quechua.

Cotacachi from the air – so cool

My Unique Perspective 

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
-Anaïs Nin

I’ve had many friends and family ask me what my daily life was like. Until recently I didn’t understand the question. So I’d been meditating on it for awhile. I started to compare my life to the average Americans, and realized there were quite a few glaring differences.

Foremost has nothing to do with where we live, but our unique lifestyle. For the most part Gus and Caroline have had both their parents home with them. Shawn and I both work, with Shawn doing the lion share of the work pertaining to our business, he’s the “creator” of our products, and does the accounting, but I do a majority of the administrative work, taking orders, sending out weekly emails, and organizing deliveries. Caroline stays with me almost 100% of the time, but Gus spends an hour or so hanging out with his Dad in the morning, sees him for lunch, and awhile in the afternoons too. But if I ever need a hand all I have to do is open the front door, give a holler, and most of the time I’m lucky enough that Shawn can stop what he’s doing and help me out. We have also had, at any given time, between 2 and 6 volunteers staying with us. So there are lots of “playmates.” 

We’ve been fortunate enough to have Sam and Amy staying with us for the last 7 months while they prepped their Volkswagen Van, or Kombi, as they are called here, for a cross continent adventure. And while there are great volunteers that come and go (Gus loves to show off for the new people) no one compares to Amy for Gus.

Another aspect is cultural. In the land of eternal spring, preserved items are hard to find, and so is planning for the future. Tomorrow will come and you’ll know what you need when you get there. Same is to be said for things like work and retirement. I think it’s a beautiful thing that in this culture taking care of your family is your future. Children live with their parents much longer, and take care of their aging parents, in return most help take care of their grandkids. Although the cost of living is low, so are the wages, and there isn’t much room left for savings.

Finding something to pop in the microwave, or even buying canned soup is really hard to do, and for us not financially smart. There are “grocery stores” here, but why buy canned fruit for more than I would pay for fresh fruit at the market.

There is also no such thing as a one stop shop. We generally hit up at least four different places to stock our kitchen for the week. Fruits and veggies come from the market, eggs from the butcher across the street from the market. Pasta, cheese, chocolate, coffee, and milk from a place called Tia. The closest thing to a grocery store here. Bread from the panaderia (bread store). We could possibly buy all these things from one place but we would be paying more, sacrifice quality, and have to travel 40mins North to the city of Ibarra. On top of all these places we go to just for our weekly supplies there’s an infinite amount more small tiendas, or stores. I buy wine from one, and butter from a different one. As convenient as a Walmart or Target might be, it would kill part of the population in a place like this where many people don’t drive, and no one buys in bulk (we buy the largest packs of diapers we can find and they are individually wrapped for resale, because only shop owners would buy that many diapers at a time, and they still contain less than the packs you find in the U.S.) These little tiendas support their neighborhoods full of little old men and ladies who walk to get food and household supplies everyday. Living in the moment.


My weekly grocery haul. I spent $50, but the the 60 eggs, milk, or yogurt I also bought that day aren’t on the table. The box back right side is full of tomatoes.


A local walking her cows home, Mt. Imbabura is in the background. a common sight for us.


Another way to put our lives into perspective in comparison to what our life would be like in the U.S. Is the language barrier we deal with everyday. It’s been three years since I’ve lived in a country where I didn’t get a little bit nervous just going to buy groceries, or felt independent enough to go to the doctor by myself. I’m feeling a ton more confidant now a days, a relief because having to have your husband come to doctor appointments with you to translate is no picnic for either of us.

I took Spanish classes from a volunteer who stayed with us, did Rosetta Stone before I started traveling (which was pretty useless) and have been using the duo lingo app, but I’ve learned the most about the Spanish language from my doctors visits and hospital stays giving birth to my children, talking with my ladies at the market, and correct letter pronunciation from my kids diapers. I can talk more about body parts, pain, medications, food, babies, and animals than I can small talk or feelings. Like most people who are learning a second language, I can understand much more that I can say, but I’m beginning to think a lot of this has to do with feeling self conscious. There are a few friends I can communicate pretty easily with, yet with some people I completely clam up and can’t get a sentence out.

So what does this all mean for us? It means my children will be bilingual and I will have the opportunity to learn a second language. That even though we sacrifice certain things (we will never be rich) our children will have a fantastic environment to grow up in. A meal will never be quick or simple but we will have an abundance of inexpensive, fresh, preservative free food. That there are a lot of our favorite things we miss from the U.S. but a trip to a big grocery store will always be exciting.


Time to update you on the farm! Here’s what’s been happening in our lives.

One of our Poroton trees is in flower for the first time and the blooms are gorgeous.


 Our egg laying chickens have actually started laying eggs!


“Short tail” one of our mama pigs is expecting a litter at the end of August.


A couple of our new ladies


I made my first successful batch of Ginger Beer, it was sooooo tasty.


Gus has upped his talking game. So far we can only understand about a quarter of the things he says, but he babbles a lot. My favorites are “ciao” “where’s dada?” And “what’s that?” He can put his rubber boots on himself, still working on getting them on the correct foot. I love that his favorite movie is Dumbo, and he’s started at least trying veggies.


This kid has some fashion sense. (note the boots are on the wrong feet)



Caroline has rolled over once or twice. Babbles, smiles and laughs, blows bubbles, and is starting to really like baths. She’s not a fan of napping alone, and it looks like she’ll be an early riser like her brother and father.


A lil hammock relaxation


 We feel extremely blessed that we have so many caring people in our life who have helped our family in so many ways over the last few months. 

 One that stands out is our gofundme campaign. With the money raised we were able to purchase pigs to fill in part of the gap that was left by the loss of the two litters of piglets, this ensures the farms future until the end of the year. It helped us get through the birth of Caroline so Shawn could take a week off, and I had time to recover from my c section. We built a new shelter and moved the smoke house closer to the butcher house, the space was also used to make a more comfortable common area for the volunteers.  We are now working to buy a walk in cooler, and will need a few more pigs to get back on track to start out the new year. If you are able to help us out in anyway here is the link to our gofundme me page http://www.gofundme.com/nf1w6g

We feel so lucky to have our beautiful friends Dave & Patrice, they are our family away from family. They’ve given advice and encouraged us every step of the way, and we love them.  Patrice built us this gorgeous website for the business as well.  Check it out http://lnsartisanmeats.com

The farm has its own instagram account at lnsfarms.  My hope is that the volunteers who stay here will tag us in the photos they post and we can see farm life from all perspectives.

Here are a few things I’ve been reading:

I need to read this every morning


Good to remember


One of the most incredible moving things I have ever seen


Just gross


Here We Are

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Rather ask – what makes you come alive? Then go and do it! Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” – Howard Thurman

Two years ago today, May 25th, Shawn and I got married in Holdrege, NE under an apple tree in Grandma Betty’s backyard.

Our wedding day

Our wedding day

Three years ago this month I landed on the farm.  If you had told me then that in three years I’d be married to this guy I had just met and we’d have two children, I would have told you you were crazy.  But, here we are.

My first day on the farm

My first day on the farm

Cows my first day on the farm

Cows my first day on the farm

Tiny cuddles

Tiny cuddles

So much has changed since then.  The weekend I met Shawn was the weekend he got his first five piglets.  All of our pigs now are decedents of Cici, Big Nose, and Muddy, the ladies of that group. What started as a permaculture project, using pigs to work the ground and soil as animal tractors has turned into our livelihood, and business.


We have a business!  Four years ago Shawn started smoking a few chickens to fill a small demand. Now we sell a wide variety of smoked and fresh meats.  Pork, chicken, and soon beef.  We have an official name to our business (L&S Artisan Meats) a cool new logo, and soon a website.  Best part is we’ve held on to the values we started with.  We are still using sustainable, permaculture practices, with happy, healthy animals.

Our logo

Our logo

Rafael and his family no longer live on half of the farm. Our partner in the US decided to sell and they moved a short distance away, but visit often. The house they lived in no longer exists, a new one is being built. There is only one coop left, half of it still holds chickens, but only a fraction of what we once had (they used to hold 20,000).

The fruit trees are slowly growing, but look like trees now rather than sticks in the ground.  The native trees, the Aliso, Poraton have taken off.  We have mora vines, taxo vines, zapato vines, alfalfa, Rocoto plants, kale, achocha, arugula, and dill that all pretty much grow on their own amongst the trees and the pigs. Which is great because we no longer have time to keep up with a garden like we once did.

We, along with some really dedicated volunteers, have built on to the house to accommodate our growing family.

Dek painting the mural

Dek painting the mural


The kitchen cabinets have doors now! Oh and the stairs?  They are no longer throwing people down them.  When Caroline was born Papa Tom built us some new ones.  I remember holding on for dear life walking down the sloping stairs the first day I stayed here.



We’ve had a greenhouse go up, and come down. A chicken coop turn into a carport.  Built an earthbag bodega, built a roof that evolved into a loft for the volunteers, then a butcher kitchen. Built a fancy new entrance with a fancy gate, that was promptly knocked over in an unfortunate chicken manure truck incident, now there’s a not quite so fancy new entrance, forget about the gate.

Building of the earth bag bodega

Building of the earth bag bodega

Adding mulch to the sides

Adding mulch to the sides

What it looks like now

What it looks like now

The mountains still watch over us, and the Big Dipper is still in the wrong spot.  I always used it as an anchor when star gazing in the summer time at the lake growing up in Northern Minnesota.  Nowadays Orion’s belt helps me find my way as the Big Dipper doesn’t break the horizon until after 11.  The fireflies are still mesmerizing, as long as they stay outside.  Piolin is still the noisiest dog, Luna still obsesses over rocks, and Dirk is still the boss of them all.

Shawn fan club

Shawn fan club



Piolin in doggy bliss

Piolin in doggy bliss

Teeny tiny Tony, Tigger, and Cuddles

Teeny tiny Tony, Tigger, and Cuddles

Our evenings no longer consist of playing gin or kings, instead they’re filled with jumping on couches, chasing toddles, diaper changes, bath time, and 8:00 bed times (adults included).




To be honest one day last week after I was particularly sleep deprived and overwhelmed I was telling Shawn about how much I missed our carefree, responsibility less days sometimes, and he put it in perspective. He told me he didn’t, he didn’t miss trying to find things to do to fill time, he said he had a purpose for every minute of the day now, and that he has fun and laughs more, even if it’s just to keep from losing it with the toddler. He’s right.

What will happen in the next two years? Only time will tell, but I hope it’s filled with more of this. (Maybe a little more sleep)



Great group of volunteers

Great group of volunteers

9 month pregnant family photo

9 month pregnant family photo


Brother and sister meeting for the first time

Brother and sister meeting for the first time

Caroline doesn't like headbands

Caroline doesn’t like headbands

Giant Tony

Giant Tony

Being goofy

Best picture ever

We are still working towards our gofundme goal.  If you want to help us out visit our page and donate.


Some places I’ve been:

This is amazing, and should be read by all mothers, especially the new ones.


I’m going to start this today, we’ll see how it goes


I just really liked this one


Five Months Under Our Belt

“How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” -Pooh

Ugh, I’m embarrassed I’ve neglected writing for so long. I’ve written this blog, the next one after Gus’ 1 month blog 4 times now! But for some reason I just haven’t posted it yet. SO MUCH KEEPS CHANGING! It’s nuts! It takes me a lot longer to write a blog now (you know, the baby business) by the time I feel like I’m ready to publish, its been a month and life is so different. I can’t keep up. Just when I’ve gotten used to something, everything flips around again.

Gus is officially 5 months old. He giggles, from way down deep in his belly. Probably the best sound in the world. What makes him giggle? Monkey noises, his daddy tickling him with his whiskers, leg tickles, rib tickles, fart noises (which he’s got really good at imitating, thanks Daddy) toe tickles, Ecuadorian ladies fawning over him speaking Spanish to him, little tosses in the air, and playing airplane. We have a lot more fun now that he’s less delicate, and more rough and tumble. The gymnastics coach in me had a hard time in the newborn phase, I didn’t know how to “play” with him, and was worried I’d break him.

Smiley Monster

Smiley Monster

He’s rolled over a few times by himself. He scoots when he’s laying on his tummy. He ADORES standing, and pushing off his legs. He stares at his hands intently, and has found his feet. He will put anything in his mouth, my hands, his hands, my chin, toys, clothing, you name it he will chew on it. I’m pretty sure we will be seeing a tooth sooner rather then later. I’ve given him “tastes” of avocado and banana, which confuses him greatly.
Gus and Mommy

Gus and Mommy

Up until about a week ago Gus didn’t pay much attention to any of the animals. Now he watches the cats intently when they walk into the room. Reaches for them, and touches them when he can.

Gus & Cuddles
We visit the piglets, he smiles and laughs when they nudge him. Piglets and babies, you can’t get any cuter than that.

Gus and piglets

Gus and piglets

After a week long protest he’s back to sleeping 8 hour stretches at night, then back to sleep for 3 more. The week he turned 4 months he woke up every.single.hour. I almost lost my mind. We discovered he liked sleeping on his side, and it’s been a lot better since then. Even with my rocking, walking, and nursing him to sleep, all those no-nos I did, he prefers to just roll on to his side and go to sleep. I almost cried the first time he did it. He was fussing nonstop while I was putting him down for bed, I laid him on our bed to give my self a 10 second break, low and behold he rolled on his side and was out like a light. I pray everyday that all our children have the same sleep habits… Not holding my breath though.
(Of course I took a picture the first time)
Beautiful sight

Beautiful sight

We got to go to Quito and he now has his American birth certificate, and passport, as well as his Ecuadorian passport, and I.D. To get his American identification we had to bring in medical records, pictures of us and me pregnant, Ecuadorian paperwork, and sit through a pretty interesting interview. All the Ecuadorian identification was easy peasy. Less then an hour in the passport office. I am very relieved to be done with it all.
Passport photo

Passport photo

So What’s Been Going On At The Farm You Ask?
We had a new litter of piglets born to CiCi. They were adorable of course. There was one little guy we were worried wouldn’t make it. He was either kicked in the mouth, or was born with a defect, but he had a really hard time nursing. We’ve been feeding him milk in a bowl and he has since started thriving. He’s still the littlest one but he sure has a lot of spirit.
CiCi is the only pig left of her generation. Saying goodbye to Muddy was really difficult for me. I had to leave the farm for the day.
Muddy’s piglets are getting really big. They aren’t quite as friendly as their Mom and Aunts and Uncles were.
We’ve had to say good bye to some cows. Sabastian, Two Horn, Salvador, One Horn, Mercedes, and Josephine have all been sold. We still have Loki and Perdida and are hoping they will make the next generation of cows for the farm.
The garden is back in full swing and it’s beautiful. We’ve been going behind the pigs and planting. Most everything is still seedlings but it’s really exciting to watch everything grow.
Josephine, Mercedes calf

Josephine, Mercedes calf



CiCi and her new brood

CiCi and her new brood

Newly planted garden looking pretty good.  Can't wait for everything to grow

Newly planted garden looking pretty good. Can’t wait for everything to grow

As for me…?
Of course everyone says that the first 6 weeks are the toughest. Things have certainly fallen into a routine, but I don’t think Gus has gotten any easier or harder. What I think changed was me. I became more at ease with what life as a mommy is. I’m not nervous or anxious about much anymore. I no longer worry that he’s sick or hurt when he cries, babies cry. Most of the time he’s just a little bit bored, or teething, or hungry, or tired. All of which I am confident that I can fix now.
Gus - Brent_03

Gus - Brent_02

Gus - Brent_01
Christmas was VERY tough for me. I had this little being and his great daddy, both were incredible, but I was a little lonely and homesick. All holiday seasons since my mom died have been bitter sweet, but this one seemed more intense. I read an article about having children after the loss of one of your parents, it really resonated with me. I can’t find the blog again, I wish I had kept it, but it talked a lot about how having a child reopens the wounds of loosing a parent. I look at Gus and think about how much my mom would have loved him, and how much I wanted her to see me as a mother. As Gus grows more and more people say he looks like Shawn, and I agree, but when I look at his eyes I see my mom, and I’m grateful.Gus floor

Crazy Daze

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” -Martin Luther King

Whew! So here’s what has been going on, and there is quite a lot since I last wrote (I am aware that it was a VERY long time ago).
I feel like we haven’t stopped moving.  You know a couple of posts ago when I said I didn’t think we could get much busier?  Well I should have kept my mouth shut. 
The first exciting news is that we have a new calf on the farm.  “One Horn” the one horned cow has been pregnant for what seems like forever and finally, out of nowhere, gave birth to a baby boy we named Loki.  Loki is the Norwegian god of mischief, and my sister was hoping I would name the baby Loki.  I don’t think I’m ready for a mischievous first born, we have more experience with cows at this point, so I thought it was a good name for him.  It fits him well, even his birth story fits.  (But as I write this I’m thinking that our cows may be mischievous enough and I may have made a mistake).
One morning all of the cows were missing and Shawn went to go find them.  They had made it past two fences into a distant neighbors field.  What Shawn thought would be a quick trip to grab them turned into a couple hour ordeal as he discovered the new born calf and momma.  In the end he wound up carrying the calf out, with momma, and our stubborn bull who refused to leave them, in tow. We still aren’t entirely sure why he was so protective of them.  We are almost positive he isn’t the daddy, but it was possible he was protecting his chance to mate with her when she goes into heat again. So now we have Loki, who runs and plays, even teases the dogs.

Loki's newborn picture

Loki’s newborn picture

At this time the only volunteer we had staying with us was Spud.  Shawn’s cousin Dan had headed out to continue his travels.  But boy did we need more help.  The house construction was in full swing. So we lined up four volunteers to come, but the earliest any of them could make it was the next weekend, and Spud was leaving.  So we did something we had never done before, we accepted a last minute volunteer request from an English couple.  Charlotte and Mauricio have now been with us for four weeks.  Those two plus four more volunteers and we have one full house.  Dek, Paul, John, Rosie, Charlotte, and Mauricio have been life savers though.  Without all of them this addition project would have taken A LOT longer, been more expensive, and I may have lost my mind.  I am so grateful. 

Right when Charlotte and Mauricio arrived I realized that I was about to be an illegal immigrant.  My tourist visa was about to expire, like in days.  I had gathered all the documents I needed in the U.S. before I came back to Ecuador.  Lucky for me Charlotte went to college to be a translator.  So her and I had to make a few hurried trips to Quito to apply for my permanent residency visa.  I will be a dependent on Shawn’s visa, and it was fairly straight forward.  They even have a gentleman there that speaks English (not that we needed him, I had Charlotte).  The website has all the different types of visas with the required documents on it, and in English.  Just a lil bit of luck and research before I left the states saved us about $800 in lawyer fees.  

I also had a doctors visit.  I have been having to see the doctor about every 14 days because I had developed polyhidraminous.  It’s a condition that affects 1 in 100 pregnancies, where I have too much amniotic fluid. I have never been so scared in my life.  Half of the time it means I have gestational diabetes, but I was tested for it and tested negative.  Half the time they don’t know why it happens, and means nothing except that I’m more uncomfortable.  The reason I was scared was some of the time it means there is something wrong with the baby.  He keeps the amniotic fluids level by swallowing it, and breathing it in.  So when there is too much it may mean that he has some sort of developmental problem.  During ultrasounds the doctor checked his bladder, kidneys, stomach, and brain and everything looked normal and healthy.  It also means I am bigger then I’m supposed to be.  I was short of breath often, and pretty uncomfortable.  But at this last doc visit, my amniotic fluid was down by three centimeters, and I was almost the right size.  The baby weighed 3.75lbs, and I got to see his little face.  I’m sure he’s going to have some chubby cheeks.  

What a month it has been.

So here I sit, writing this to all of you, almost feeling sorry for myself for all these dumb reasons. I’m uncomfortable, I’m tired, I’m always running around and busy, our house is always busy and I have no privacy, my house is under construction, my baby’s crib isn’t made yet, we have no where to put the baby’s things, the animals get hurt and need time and money we don’t have blah blah blah.
Then I check myself and realize how truly blessed I am.  

I have never been homeless. I’ve never been hungry, lived in fear, or been abused.

I look at the things I DO have. I have a cow that gives me fresh milk when I want it, and bees that turn the medicine provided from the plants around me into a sweet, tasty treat (we got our fist small amount of honey from our bees a few days ago, it’s heavenly).  A garden full of plants that will make sure I never go hungry. Pigs that dig up the ground, and fertilize it so that I can grow the things I need, and will eventually sacrifice themselves to feed my family.
I am never lonely, I have cats to cuddle with, and provide entertainment all day.  Dogs that give unconditional love and protection.  These amazing people who are willing to come into our home, provide our home with life, companionship, and give their time and effort to make this place into that much more of paradise.  Shawn’s birthday was yesterday and they helped make the day extra special for him.

I have a loving husband who works really hard for me and our son. I will have a son to love and care for in less then two months, who reminds every hour, minute, second, that he’s there and coming, and how lucky I am to experience this pregnancy.  Last but not least I have a family, that no matter what happens, no matter how hard I fall, I know that they are there to help me up, put me back on my feet, give me a lil shove and tell me to get going again.  Gratitude really is the key to happiness. 

Oh and on top of all this I’m going to have one kick ass room, in the mountains of Ecuador, that is as big as some of the apartments I’ve lived in in my life.

I'm sure there was meat involved in the taking of this picture.

I’m sure there was meat involved in the taking of this picture.

Seed fair we attended, we found jicama and some beautiful beans.

Seed fair we attended, we found jicama and some beautiful beans.

Seed fair

Seed fair

Loki and One Horn's first picture

Loki and One Horn’s first picture

Our first batch of honey

Our first batch of honey

32 Weeks!

32 Weeks!

You Get What You Ask For

It seems like we can’t get any busier! The house construction has started with a whirlwind! It’s been going for two and a half weeks now and the foundation is poured, walls are up, electrical and plumbing is roughed in, and the guys unloaded and carried 17 metric tons of concrete for the walls.

Only PART of the 17.6 tons of concrete the guys hauled on their back, for the new addition to the house.

Only PART of the 17.6 tons of concrete the guys hauled on their back, for the new addition to the house.

Umberto, our maestro, is incredibly motivated, along with quite a cheery guy, so he’s pretty fun to have around. It’s also an experience to hear him speak to the other workers in Quechua. I am saving pictures for when everything is done. I can’t hardly wait, it’s pretty stressful for us. The workers arrive every morning at 7am, and don’t leave until 4pm. We have to gather supplies that are needed, usually with less then 24hours notice, and organize our days around what needs to be done with the house and what the workers need help with.
I was so anxious about starting the house, and worried that it wouldn’t be finished before the baby came. Well we met with Umberto one day and started construction the next. Now I’m overwhelmed by all that is happening, but, I did get what I asked for.
Oh and there has been travelers. Spud finally arrived, about a month late, but we knew he was traveling by bicycle so we were prepared for the unexpected timing that comes with those that travel unconventionally. He fits in quite well, and is a great cook.
Manny and Spud's smoothie making bike

Manny and Spud’s smoothie making bike

We were a tad worried because as Spud arrived, the couple from the U.K. were set to leave, as was Dan, and the couple who were supposed to come volunteer canceled on us. Apparently bikers travel in packs. So on Spuds recommendation a lovely Austrailian couple arrived last weekend to stay for one night. One evening turned into a week. They were great to have around, very helpful in the garden, house, and with all the construction that’s been going on. Funny thing is I’m speaking now as if they’ve left, but I’m here writing with them sitting across from me, “preparing” to leave. Paul’s drinking a beer, and Lizzy’s making a diary. We will see if they leave.
Speaking of leaving, Dan was supposed to leave because his visa was about to expire. He left for about 24 hours, and is back now. He’s been here long enough to plant seeds, and eat the fruits of his labor.
Cuddles, Dirk, and Dan.  Cuddles loves Dan.

Cuddles, Dirk, and Dan. Cuddles loves Dan.

So last weekend we had two Australians, three British, three Americans, and a Swiss guy even rolled through for a couple nights. We had plenty of people around to help out, and I got what I asked for.
It’s a wonderful feeling to know that people feel so comfortable in our home that they don’t want to leave.
Speaking of new homes, being busy, and having a lot on our plates, Muddy was moved to her new birthing den a couple days ago. She’s starting to show signs of getting ready to give birth to the farms first set of piglets. This is one of those valuable learning experiences. From what we’ve read piglets, like other baby animals, like to be kept warm, but mama pigs prefer cooler temperatures. So when building dens for farrowing sows you build a space for mom and a space for the piglets with a heater. The piglets still have access to mom to nurse, but there’s less of a worry of them getting squished while trying to stay warm snuggling up against mom.
Tigger (my constant outdoor companion) inside the farrowing den.

Tigger (my constant outdoor companion) inside the farrowing den.

Muddy's new home

Muddy’s new home

In the garden the corn has sprouted, as have the onions, carrots, beets, and cabbage. We are starting to harvest cucumbers, the beets, carrots, and onions shouldn’t be far behind. We have been eating achoqche’s also. They are this curious little vegetable that tastes like a cross between a cucumber and a pepper. They are an ancestral vine that grows amazingly here. So far we have used them in stir fries, and tried stuffing them, but I’m still trying to figure out what else to do with them.
Achoqche vine and Swiss chard

Achoqche vine and Swiss chard

Succulent in the garden

Succulent in the garden

Part of the garden

Part of the garden

Little Guava tree Sylvia gave me

Little Guava tree Sylvia gave me

We sold our first batch of prosciutto that has been a over a year in the making. An ex pat wrote a book and had a book release party that we provided ham and prosciutto for. It turned out well and was good exposure for the farm. Shawn has also been creating some hard sausages like pepperoni, mortadella, and salami. So far, so tasty.


We have a baby doctor too! We got a recommendation from friends of ours, and went to see him last week. Baby is doing well, he weighs 2lbs, and his due date is still the beginning of November. I also went and got blood tests done. The language barrier will be a challenge for us. But our doctor comes highly recommended, and it’s nice to hear him recommend a more natural direction of things. I feel a lot better now that we have this taken care of.
24 week belly

24 week belly

27 week belly

27 week belly

I know I’ve said this before but I swear this little boy is going to come out running. Even the doctor commented on how much he moves.

Going through all of this makes me miss my mom more and more everyday. There’s always the questions you wish you could ask her, and things I want to show her. The fact that my son will never know his grandmother, know her laugh, and her crazy sense of humor. My grandmother passed away young but at least I have memories of her. The hardest part of all are the small things most take for granted. My son will never have clothes my mom bought him, or get a Christmas present from her, she was always really good at Christmas, she made it really special for us. I am lucky that we do have such amazing people in our lives, but I’ve come to realize through this experience how much I really miss her.