Hi, and welcome to “The Vernacular Life Podcast,” where we talk about anything and everything that goes on in our 1906 Vernacular Farmhouse. I’m your host, Paige.
All right, we’ve established this previously, especially on Instagram and on YouTube and any of the projects that we’ve done that I am a planner, okay. I don’t always necessarily follow plans and I get really grumpy if people try to make me follow their plans.
So in the spirit of that, I do try to plan out these podcasts. I try to plan out what I’m gonna talk about and some things that I’m gonna hit. So I was planning for today in this episode, and I was writing and writing and writing and writing so much that my hand cramped, because there’s quite a lot to discuss.
But as I was writing, I realized that I needed to stop writing because all of the elements of the story can be summed up by the phrase, “Paige is a sucker,” okay? So please hold that phrase in your mind while we go through today, all of the free and feathery creatures that reside in and around our farmhouse.
I am going to walk through all of the animals that we have, where they all came from, what their names are and how we came to have 37 little creatures under our care. So here we go.
I’m going to start with the pets chronologically because that’s kind of the easiest one to do chronologically. And once we get into the farm animals, it was kind of a whirlwind. So we’re just gonna go through each of those as I have them.
But the first pet that I want to tell you about is Ms. Belle. Ms. Belle is our Boxer. She is nine years old. She used to have a very dark face and now she has a very white face because she is an old doggy. But Ms. Belle came to us in, let’s see, 2015.
We were living in the house previous to this, it was a suburban, not farmhouse, don’t say farmhouse. It was a suburban house, builder grade house, that’s what I’m looking for. Just a basic builder grade house on like less than a quarter of an acre. And we had just graduated college and I had my college cat, Bo who was undeniably a cat of my heart. I love that little boy.
And we were like, should we get a dog? Now, Brandon grew up with a ton of dogs, like a ton of dogs, like however many you’re thinking, add like six. So he was very used to having dogs around all the time. So he was particularly like, I really would like to get a dog. And I am a sucker, so I said, “Sure, that’s fine, my only condition is that I want to rescue.”
And I’m gonna go on just a tiny, tiny, tiny little soapbox here for a second. Unless you have a very specific need for type of dog, like a cattle dog, or if you need like a very specific kind of show horse or something. In my opinion, rescuing is almost always just as viable an option as buying from a breeder. It’s most definitely less expensive.
And in particular, I have a huge soft spot for rescuing adult animals. Because everybody wants kittens, everybody wants puppies and then once they’re not kittens and puppies anymore, they’re not quite so cute so they end up back in the shelter. So all of the animals that we’ve rescued have been adults, and it’s very, very close to my heart.
I will rescue until the day I die. Because there are so many wonderful animals out there. And I particularly love rescuing adults because their personality is kind of set, you know any weird quirks that they have. And you can still get them pretty young, like a year or two years old for a cat is still pretty darn young. So anyway, I’m stepping down off of my soapbox now.
So I said, “Yes, we can get a dog, but I want it to be a rescue.” So we start looking around and I grew up with two dogs who were at least part Boxer. I don’t think they were all Boxer ’cause they were like literally 100 pounds each. So I think there was some Mastiff in there. But in my mind I was like, Boxers are great dogs so let’s get a Boxer. So I stumbled across this little girl and she is so skinny, so skinny, you could see her ribs. Her little backend was just tiny. And so I was like, this is the dog, I’m pretty sure.
Now I’ve had this feeling before, I had it when I adopted my college cat, Bo. I was sitting in Panera with my roommate and I found this picture and it hit me like a truck that this was my cat. And he turned out to be love of my life, that little boy was just the sweetest little cat ever. And I had that same feeling with Belle.
So I told Brandon, I said, “I think this is our dog.” And so he thought she was really cute. We drove about two hours away to pick her up. And the woman that we rescued her from said that she had come from very bad situation. This woman had picked her up once and the owners had reclaimed her. And so this woman picked her up again, and said, “You’re not getting her back.”
And from what I was told, she was given illicit substances on more than one occasion. So a very bad situation. But we picked this little girl up and she is the sweetest dog. I mean, literally her only goal in life is to be a good dog. So she watches you and she’s like, can you just tell me what I need to do to be a good dog?
And so on the drive home, was about two hours away she falls asleep with her head on my arm. She comes in the house, she doesn’t try to attack Bo, she doesn’t try to do anything. She’s just the sweetest little puppy. And after a couple months she put on some good weight. And so she is now nine years old, nine or 10, somewhere around there and she’s still kicking.
She lays out in the grass and rolls upside down and has just a big old bucket of love. So that was at the beginning of February of 2015 and going from one cat to one cat and one dog should have been enough for that month, right? But what’s the theme of this podcast?
Say it with me, Paige is a sucker. Okay. So we are at, let’s see, a pet store, probably getting dog bones for new puppy friend or whatever. And at this particular pet store, they had a cage at the end of the checkout aisles, where they had cats up for adoption. And I always look at them, always. And I always go over there and I’m like, I don’t need a cat, we’re not gonna adopt a cat.
But if I’m gonna be the one paying for the stuff that we’re buying or playing with cats, I go play with cats. So I left Brandon to pay at the register and I went over and I looked at the cats. And of course there’s all these kittens, there’s always kittens, bunch of little kittens. Kittens are cute and everything, I just personally don’t have a whole lot of interest in the whole litter box training thing and like the kitten energy. So they never really do it for me.
But, there’s always a but, up in the top of this cage in one of those like hammock slings is this cat and he’s a big cat, he’s got some big old paws on him. And I look at him and immediately I just see you have three strikes. His first strike is that he’s an adult. Adult cats are hard to adopt, people want kittens. He’s about a year and a half old. Second strike is that he’s a black cat and lot of rescues actually won’t adopt out black cats because people think they’re bad luck and yada, yada yada.
So I’m like strike one, strike two, no wonder you’re sitting here. Strike three, was that he wasn’t quite a whole kitty cat. Firstly, he had his ear clipped, which is something that they usually do with like trap into release for feral cats, where they will cut off the tip of the ear to indicate that they’ve been neutered. So you can tell from a distance that they don’t need to be caught again. So there was that, but then this little guy also was missing half of his tail.
When I tell you that he broke my heart, he absolutely did and I get that feeling again. And I don’t know if that feeling is actually legitimate or if it’s just the gut reaction of Paige is sucker. And I look over at Brandon and I say, “You don’t understand, we need this cat.” And this cat’s name was Bob. So Brandon, he kinda gets this look on his face when I wanna do something relating to more animals where he’s like, you’re insane, but go ahead ’cause I think it’s funny.
And so I asked the people at the store like, “Hey, can I get him out?” Pull out Bob, he’s just big old cat, big fluffy fur. And I hold him in my arms and he just doesn’t move like chillest, totally fine hanging out kind of a big old, lazy face. And I was done, I was done for. And so the lady said, “Okay, here’s an adoption application, email it to this person and then you can wait till you hear back from them.” I was like, “Okay.”
So I went home and I was panicked the whole time, I was like, there’s a line, 25 deep to rescue this clippered, half-tailed, adult black cat and we’re not gonna get him and I’m gonna cry. And Brandon’s like, “Will you just calm down, it’s been like an hour.” And so we eventually heard back from the woman who was rescuing him and had him up for adoption.
And for $25, we ended up with Mr. Bobcat, who is currently very large and very asleep on the corner of the bed right now. So now let’s see, we have two cats, Bo and Bob and the dog, Belle. And we stayed like that for quite a while actually. That was 2015, we stayed like that until 2019.
So in that time we moved here, we started the renovations, I started sharing on Instagram, started the YouTube channel, like we had a lot going on in that time period. Well, March of 2019, my college cat Bo was FIV positive, it was described to me as like feline herpes. So once they get it, there’s really like nothing you can do about it. It shortens their lifespan considerably.
Most of the time he was a perfectly fine, happy, healthy cat. But starting in January of 2019, he started to decline pretty quickly. He just got worse and worse and worse until one day he woke up and he wasn’t eating anymore. And I just knew, I knew in my bones I was like, this is it I’m gonna give you peaceful passing. This sucks, but I’ve known it was coming.
So he passed away. And because I was sharing on Instagram and I was sharing everyday, I had to explain like hey, I’m not gonna be around anymore because I’m like incoherent with sadness over the loss of my cat. And people were wonderful, they were so sweet. Someone lit a candle for him, it was just like the sweetest, like it was weirdly helpful in terms of dealing with the loss of that cat.
And about two days later, this woman messaged me and she said, “Hi, Paige, I’m so sorry about the loss of your cat and I’m also really sorry if this upsets you, because of the cat. But I’m about an hour away from you and this big stray showed up on my porch, and I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl. This cat is really sweet. All the cat wants is to get inside, he’ll let you pet him. I’ve been feeding him. Like I just don’t know anything about this cat and I already have a cat and so I can’t take him. So I know you lost a cat and I was wondering if you wanted, I would get this guy to you and you could maybe rescue him.”
And I’m a pretty big believer in things being like placed in your life by whatever exactly when you need them. And so from my perspective, we were used to loving two cats in this house and suddenly one of the cats was gone. We’re like, all of that love didn’t go anywhere, it just doesn’t have a target now. And so I said, “Sure, let’s take him.” She caught the cat and we actually met her parents at a cracker barrel in the parking lot.
And, so we get out, they’re very nice people, they’re very sweet. And they give us this big blue rubber-made tote that’s meowing. We’re like, “Thank you so much, really appreciate it,” and we put the tote in the back of the car and we’re ready to go home. But the tote, like she didn’t have a cat carrier or something, so it was just this big tote. And we’re like, “Let’s look at this cat before we go home, let’s just see what he looks like.”
And so we’re sitting in the car and we turn around and we carefully crack the lid and out pops Barin. And our first impression of him was that he was huge. And I don’t know if you can tell this from videos of him, but he has an abnormally large head. And within his head, his eyes are disproportionately large. And I think that’s part of what makes him so cute is because he kind of looks like a cartoon.
But we just looked at him we’re like, “This cat is enormous!” So we were like, “Yeah, we’ll take him.” We brought him home. We kind of kept him quarantined off in a separate room until I could get him to the vet to see if he had a microchip. Didn’t have a microchip, he was neutered, got all his shots up to date. And he pretty much integrated immediately into the family. And so we went from a two cat, one dog to one cat, one dog and then back to two cat, one dog very, very quickly.
So I guess getting another cat after so many years of not getting more animals, reactivated that, I need more animals reflex in my brain. Because a couple of months later I started thinking like, well, Belle’s alone all day, maybe she needs a friend. Nothing informed this decision other than just like the idea of like hey, maybe another dog should happen, popped into my brain and then it wouldn’t go away.
So I started looking around and I looked at all the rescues and everything and I ended up at our local shelter. And there was this chocolate Pit Bull. And again, I got the Paige is a sucker feeling. It just had this face and these big eyes and he looked really bright and like he had all sorts of ideas. And so I went to meet him to see what he was like. And he had a tail pulling injury or something, is what they told me from his x-rays. And so he couldn’t walk on his back legs, so he pretty much walked around balanced on his front legs all the time.
And that of course broke my heart, tored my heartstrings. But I met him and he was a little nervous and not like super paying attention. But I was just like, I think this dog needs to come home with us. So he did, and so we’ve had him about three years. His backend is fully recovered. He can run and jump and roll and play. And he’s got this tail that just whips around. Tail is most dangerous part of that dog, it’ll just whip you in the thighs like nobody’s business.
And so he and Belle actually have become very good friends, they lay out in the sun together. The dogs sleep in the mudroom. They have a dog door that gets them into the mudroom, and so they sleep in there and they sync together and they curl up and they hang out and they sometimes will find like a piece of rope and play tug together out in the yard. It’s like the cutest thing.
So now we are at a two cat, two dog household and I was like, okay, that’s a reasonable amount of animals, Paige you do not need any more animals. And that happened in about August. Well, in January, I got another message on Instagram and it was from this very sweet woman. And she said, “Paige, my family and I are downsizing farms.” They were moving from a farm kind of out in the middle of nowhere that had lots of land around it to a farm that was more of in a city. And there was not as much like open land around it. And she said, “Paige, we have this Great Pyrenees.”
And if you know anything about Great Pyrenees, they are livestock guardian dogs. So they kind of have this natural instinct to protect livestock. I literally just heard her bark. And so because of that, they also have this weird need to just run. They need to be out and about in their territory. Electric fences don’t work on them because they’ll just blow through them. They’re pretty stubborn, very gentle dogs, very sweet dogs, but they have a mind of their own.
And so I wanted one for a while because there’s another one around where we live and she’s the sweetest thing ever. And I was like, “That would be a good dog to have.” But the difficulty with adopting them is that most rescues require you to have like an eight foot fence around your property and that’s just not gonna happen out here. So she says, “I have this Great Pyrenees, and she’s used to this life with a lot of land and we can’t give that to her. And so I’m looking for a good home for her and I hope that maybe you can take her.”
Once again, what is the theme of this particular podcast episode? All right. Yeah, Paige is a sucker. Pretty much as soon as she asked me, I was like, I’m gonna be taking this dog because I can’t not take this dog. But I did my due diligence and went out to ask Brandon and I was like, “Hey, can we take this dog?”
And she’s not quite like taking a house dog because she like lives to be outside, like she will not come in the house, she refuses. She wants to be in the barn or sleeping out in the grass, whatever. So that made it a little bit different. So I talked to Brandon, he kind of rolled his eyes at me and he said, “Yes, okay, take the dog.” And so I responded to her and I said, “Okay, yeah, we’ll take take her. Do you have any idea how she is with cats?”
And then that’s when she says, “Well, Paige, there’s also this black cat.” And I was like, “Are you kidding?” You’re gonna give me a dog and then say that there’s a cat? And then she told me that the cat was best friends with the dog and they slept together at night and they really liked each other. And that if I wanted, I could take the cat too. I’m like, you’re telling me that there’s a dog that’s a breed that I’ve been interested in and then there’s also a cat that’s his best friend?
I mean, is this “Homeward Bound”? I don’t have the kind of willpower to resist that, come on. So I said, “It’s fine, we’ll take the cat,” it was a barn cat, “we have a barn, it’ll be perfectly fine.” So we drove about an hour away and we went to pick them up, sweetest animals. Like Lady is the dog, I’m sure you’ve seen her, she’s my big clod. Sweetest dog, like you can put your hands all in her mouth. She barks all the time because that’s what Great Pyrenees do. But for the most part, sweetest dog ever. And then Mr. Panther, the black cat, he’s our only indoor, outdoor cat.
And he’s currently asleep about two feet away from my feet right now. So he’s transitioned into an outdoor when interested cat and otherwise asleep on the bed. So at this point we have three dogs and three cats. And this was the first time that I started to feel the chaos of having a lot of animals. I remember this point where I was like walking to feed the dogs ’cause we feed them outside.
And all three dogs, this 60 and 70 pound dogs were so excited, they were swirling around me, they were knocking into me. And all of them together were like outweighing me. And I’m like, “What have I done? What in heck have I done at this point because I have too many animals?” So that was in January and I kind of calmed down about it. And I was like okay, we have three cats, we have three dogs, Paige you are not allowed to take at the animals.
And this is a general disclaimer to anyone listening to this, please do not message me with your animals, please don’t, please don’t do that. So that was in, let’s see, January, yes. And then in March I had just opened up the flood gates and said, you know what, I really wanna try chickens. Oh yeah, I really wanna try that.
So that was my first batch of chickens that I got in March. And so, let’s see, a year and a half since then. Chickens are really hard to keep, well, they’re not hard to keep but it was a serious learning curve to keep them. So maybe we’ll have to do an episode dedicated strictly to starting out with chickens because I lost a lot. I lost them to foxes, I lost some dogs, to weasels, all sorts of stuff while I was figuring out like exactly how dang secure you have to make these chicken coops, so that nobody gets to them.
So we have the three cats, three dogs and now at this point I have 27 chickens. Do you know about chicken math? Do you know that that’s a thing? Basically, chicken math is where you go to buy four chickens and you leave with 12 chickens. And this happens because one, chickens are infinitely entertaining. I don’t think I can explain this to you unless you’ve actually watched them.
Like, I will sit outside the coop and just watch them because they have all these little chicken thoughts and they’re doing all these little things and they think I’m gonna go over here. And then sometimes they find a worm and then you’ll have two or three chickens fighting over the worm because it’s a very big deal to get a worm if you’re a chicken. And they’re just the most entertaining things ever and then they’re pretty. So they’re entertaining first, but then they’re pretty. And they have lots of different colors.
So obviously you can’t just have 12 of the same chicken because that’s really boring. You have to have black chickens and white chickens and brown chickens and gray chickens and speckled chickens and chickens with feathery feats and tiny chickens and big chickens and there’s so many different options. So chicken math happens when you realize that it’s about the same amount of work to take care of four chickens as it is to take care of 50 chickens.
I mean, it’s really not any more work, like maybe a minute or two longer to change some water. So if it’s not that much more work, you might as well have more chickens. You understand? So I have 27 chickens and they lay, let’s see, my oldest ones, I have six oldest ones and they lay white brown and blue eggs. And then my second oldest are about four months old and they have just started laying. And they will lay cream, white and brown and maybe green too, we’ll see.
And then I have some baby bantams, which are like the toy equivalent of a chicken. So if you think of a regular poodle and a toy poodle, a bantam is like a toy chicken. So they’re tiny and they are hilarious. And one of them I discovered is a rooster. You can buy chickens as pullets or as straight runs. So straight runs means male, females, you have no idea what you’re gonna get. And pullets means they are a little bit older and they are like within 90% probability they’re female.
But when I bought these little bantams, they were just a straight run. So I figured I’d probably have at least one rooster in there, we’ll see. Well, I out to the barn the other day, and he’s about three months old and he starting to learn to crow. And it’s not a rooster crow, but it’s most definitely not a chicken cluck. It’s like the teenage adolescent boy version of a chicken talking.
It is hysterical. So I have at least one rooster, one little Bantam rooster. And then I have, let’s see, I have some silver laced whine ducks, which are really pretty birds. And I bought them specifically because they’re just pretty. And when everybody’s laying, we’ll probably have somewhere around 20 eggs a day.
And what I’m gonna do with all those eggs, I truly, truly do not know. So we have cats, dogs, chickens. I’ve also heard chickens described as the gateway animal. And this is 150% true because once you start with chickens and you realize how easy they are to keep, then it’s just all bets are off. It’s like, well, what about goats, that can’t be that much harder. Or cows or pigs or sheep or turkeys or guineas or like what else can we have?
So I decided after the chickens that I… I guess really over the last year or so, I’ve been increasingly interested in food independence, making sure that I know where our food’s coming from, making sure that I can sustain the supply, all that kind of stuff. So I decided, hey, what about like feeder pigs? Why not? That’s kind of the homestead staple, chickens, pigs, and cows.
That’s like the trifecta of a food-based homestead. So Brandon, love of my life went off on a business trip in February. And I said, “Bye, sweetie, I love you. Be safe, have a good trip. I can’t promise there’s not gonna be pigs when you come back.” So that was on the Monday. On a Wednesday, I drove out to meet a guy from Craigslist who had two pigs for sale.
He kind of gave me this bemused look like I haven’t really ever gotten too much pushback for doing what I do or maybe I have and I just haven’t noticed. He was very friendly. He had all of his sons out there. They were all like seven to 15 or so and they were all in the farm stuff. And I said, “Yeah, I’ll take your two pigs.” He’s like, “Well, where are you gonna put ’em? I was like, “Well, I have a dog crate in the back of my car.”
And again, he just kind of looked at me like, okay. And so he grabs these pigs and he puts them in the back of my car. And suddenly I’m driving down the road with my husband out of town with two 70 pound pigs in the back of my car. Whoops! Didn’t mean to do that. So the thing to know about pigs is, I don’t know if I’ll do them again because they’re smart in an inconvenient way.
Like chickens are smart enough to be funny, but not really smart enough to like get into trouble, at least mine aren’t. Pigs are smart enough to get in trouble. So I get home and I had their little stall all made up and everything. And, the other problem is that a 70 pound dog and a 70 pound pig are like several orders of magnitude, different in terms of strength.
I can hold a 70 pound dog, I can’t pick up a 70 pound pig and I didn’t know this. So lesson to myself, buy smaller pigs next time. So I had to get these two 70 pound pigs out of my car by myself, without my husband home. I literally don’t know what I was thinking, I just remember thinking it was a good idea at the time. So I end up like wrestling the cage out and then getting it stuck and then kind of like opening it and scooting the pigs out.
And one of them escaped and one of them went weren’t supposed to. So then I was chasing pigs all over the place and trying to get them into their stall and all of this stuff. And the whole thing took like 45 minutes to get the pigs in the barn. And the whole time I remember just thinking this kind of chaos is amazing, it’s so much fun. Farm chaos is unlike anything else, I love it. So I eventually got the pigs in there.
I tried to put them out on pasture several times because I figured, hey, we have the land. Let’s go ahead and make you pasture pigs, that’s really great. Every single time they broke out of the fence and went straight back to the barn. So I’m like, well, you guys have spoken into the barn you go. So the funny thing about the pigs is that I got them on a Wednesday, but the pigs were actually the last animal that I was interested in.
Because the previous Saturday we had driven about three hours away to go look at some cows. Oh yes, so the progression was chickens, cows, pigs. The cows we ended up getting are a breed called Dexter. They are a heritage breed, which is kind of an older fashioned breed. They are technically a dual-purpose, so they can be used for meat and milk. But they don’t produce as much milk as like a Jersey cow and definitely not as much as a Holstein, which is like the black and white dairy cows you think of. But they will produce both.
So if you only have a few people, it’s kind of nice to only get like a half a gallon of milk a day instead of like seven gallons of milk a day. So we went to look at this particular cow named Dixie. And we go up there and we meet this guy and we ended up staying for like two and a half hours because he and his friend were there and they were just the best.
They were asking us about what we’re doing. and we were asking them all about their homestead and their cows and all sorts of stuff. And it turns out that the guy also had another cow for sale named Rhonda. And I had planned to get two cows anyway, so buying two from the same herd, it kind of seemed like a no brainer to me. It’s like ready-made cows, there you go, they’re already friends.
So I went ahead and just said, “Yeah, we’ll take both of them.” We waited about a month because Dixie had been artificially inseminated and we were waiting to see if it took and make sure that she was pregnant. And so, found out that she was. About a month later, he delivered the cows down here. His friend came with them again. Again, we spent like two hours just talking about the land and the farm animals and all sorts of stuff.
And so now we have the two cows, Dixie and Rhonda and there’s both pregnant. They should be giving birth at some point here soon. But first time with cows, so I don’t really know. We’ll find out. So that’s pretty much what we have.
We have 37 animals, three cats, three dogs, 27 chickens, two pigs and two cows. I have been restricted from buying any new animals for a while. Which I said okay, that’s fine. I would like another cow, specifically I would like a Jersey just because they’re so stinking cute.
And then next spring I’ll probably of course get more chickens. Because 20 eggs a day isn’t enough obviously. So that’s a little bit about all of the different animals that we have around here. I am currently being visited by Mr. Barin.
I’ve been calling him my familiar because he really just hangs around with me all the time and likes to be near me. So I think I have to get off the podcast here and cuddle Mr. Barin for a little bit.
But you can see pictures of all the different animals in the blog post and in the show notes. And I’m not pretending to be an expert on home studying or having animals whatsoever. But everybody that I have is currently healthy weight and happy, so I’m considering that a win.
Thank you so much for listening, I will see you next time. Bye.