When we moved into Blackbrook Farm House we found a goat in our out stable attached to a long chain. Yes, we inherited a goat that had survived for years eating lush grass in the summer and recycling his poop for winter nutrition. After our first encounter with our inherited goat "Henry" we continued to collect goats. There was Doris, Nacy, Borris, Rufuss, Bruce? and more that I don't remember.
From my experience with goats I have a couple memories under my belt that might convince you not to collect goats
They stink.so.BAD! For my wedding reception my dad was ordered to bathe the goats to try to hide their stench. I could still smell Rufuss.
When a male goat thinks you are lovely he will ram you with his horns. It is so terrifying. I must have been really special in Henry's eyes. He always chased me. It was my job to clean out his foul stable. I always made sure that I closed the gate to the field while I tackled the stable. One day I was not so careful. As I was singing a song Cinderella style working hard I heard the bleating sound of Henry. I look up and there he is in the single door entrance staring at my with his creepy eyes. I'm already in the the corner and start freaking out...I have stopped singing and in my mind hear the music to "Jaws" Henry doesn't mess around and charges straight at me with his head low ready to bang me with his horns. I simply cannot die by being charged by a horny disgusting goat I thought, with wonder woman courage and power I grab the horns and scream as he tries to ram me, throw him to the side and sprint so fast I am a blurr and hop over the fence and up to my house. The stable did not get a good clean that day....
They eat everything! This can be a positive attribute as they will eat all your weeds but no so awesome when they eat your horses tail. Yes, my poor horse had a pathetic excuse for a tail thanks to our family of goats.
They eat everything! One of my jobs was to milk the goats. I would fill their food bowl up and milk them while they ate at the milking station. All is well until the food was gone; not a problem just twist your smelly neck around and eat my hair as desert. This happened too many times! I may or may have not screamed and yelled at my goat.
They eat everything! Don't plant flowers because they will end up in a goats tummy. It is ALWAYS inevitable.
They are experts at escaping. We had to chain up several of our goats to stop them wandering off on the farm and getting up to mischief. A chain didn't stop Henry. Henry was a relative of Houdini I am convinced! I was coming home from a ride on my horse and as I approached the bridge on the old railway track I see something hanging, swaying and...bleating, HENRY! I gallop home and get me dad to assist me. I am feeling a little sad think that Henry is not going to make it. My dad unhooks him. Henry plonks onto the hard ground...we wait... he jumps up, starts bleating and finds some stinging nettles to munch on. He never stopped escaping and getting tangled up in his chain.
They will walk right into your house. If our door was open and the goats were roaming they would walk right up and try to get into our house. Multiple times I had to slam a door in a goats face.
They are fast! If they don't want to be caught you will fall trying. Loosing to a goat destroys your self esteem.
They poo constantly. As they walk poo pellets are pouring out their backside all.the.time.
They will drink their own pee. We only had one goat who did this; Rufuss! Rufuss would straddle his legs and aim this pee into his mouth...enough said!
When I was about 14 my parents sat me and my siblings down and said we were going to move house.
All of my childhood memories have been created in our small detached home on Cumbrian way situated next door to my friend Portia and surrounded by more friends. Our Summers were filled with night games, my brother teaching me football and coaching me in cross county running, building a very unstable tree house, doing plays in our back yards, raising rabbits, walking into town, spending our spare change on penny sweets at the local petrol station and holding funeral services for any less fortunate animals (mostly birds that had been got by our black cat moppet).
We are moving?? What? I was sad, a little excited but very unsure.
One day my parents took us to two properties that they were seriously considering moving our family to. The first was Blackbrook Farm house. At first glance I was unimpressed, it was old, very old, like 400 years old (little did I know that would become one of my favorite aspects of my home) it had been vacant for some time and was totally overgrown and there were freaky masks hanging on the wall. I was convinced that it was haunted. After the tour; where I discovered a yellow room which was the only good thing in my opinion, I had decided that I was certainly not going to live there!
Next, we went to the White House. Just the sound of it sounded inviting and pristine. Diving up the driveway I could see the lovely white brick home and could imagine myself walking through the doors each day after arriving home from school...
You can picture my disappointment when my parents told us several days later that we would be moving into Blackbrook Farm House or BBFH as we started to call it.
I remember our first week in Blackbrook farm house. We didn't have any heating and we would take a break from unpacking and stand outside in the cold weather to get warm... The first few nights we camped out in my parents bedroom on mattresses snuggling to keep warm. I remember thinking "will it ever be warm?" One of the most entertaining parts of the move for me was seeing if the portable rabbit hutch would survive the move. Now we didn't just have your run of the mill rabbit hutch. Our rabbit hutch was created by my dad and was home to over 20 rabbits and 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Plus it was on wheels! It was a crazy masterpiece. Somehow it survived and became a part of our new home; Blackbrook farm house.
Blackbrook farm house was in two parts. The oldest part was the front, it was made of stone and roughly 400 years old. The second part was an add on, made from red brick and about 300 years old. On the inside there were two stair cases one that the family would use and one for the servants. There was so much history. I found myself often thinking if I would have lived 300 years ago would I have been privileged or one of the servants... I think we know the answer:) There were multiple fireplaces through out the house. To the side of the add one were out-house buildings and a stable. Across the from the house were more stables and a huge hay barn. Past the house about 100 yards was a bridge with the old railroad track treading itself underneath.
Almost instantly my love blossomed for Blackbrook Farm House. It became a place were I was welcomed with open arms, were I sang ALL THE TIME I lived my very own musical and could do it without bothering too many people because of all the space we had. I found myself frolicking through the grounds imagining and creating. I had an abundance of opportunities to work hard; draining the green disgusting swamp to create a clean pond that would be home to our ducks. Cutting back all the ivy.Trying to train the goat we inherited...We cut so much grass, pulled moss out of everything, weeds were everywhere, we fixed up and jimmy rigged so many things. We laughed and grew to love one another in remarkable ways while we worked on Blackbrook Farm House.
We went on so many walks. I especially loved our Sunday walks. The conversations. My parents would teach me about God and about who I was and who I could become. They would listen to my dreams and when I would walk alone the wind would listen and I felt strong and unstoppable. The country side gave me space to believe and to dream BIG dreams. I think walking around the surrounding areas of Blackbrook Farm House is where my testimony of God really grew. I could literally feel God's love for me. What a gift!
(moments at BBFH)
Blackbrook Farm House was the gateway that opened my heart to the world of horses. I finally had my first true best friend; Shrimp! She was my overweight-goofy-scared-of-orange-tractors-horse. She played a very vital role in my teenage life.
We had so many parties at Blackbrook Farm house. BBQ's galore, church parties, our Annual Christmas Party, bounce houses, dinners with Grandparents and missionaries, early morning seminary, wide games with the youth, birthday parties and even my wedding reception; lots of laughter and goofiness. We always played the box game mostly so my mother could expose my weird unnatural flexibility skills...
It was during my life at Blackbrook Farm House that so many special animals joined our family. Our dogs; Zak, Zeena, Zamba and Zoe. And the puppies! Oh what a magical day it was when Zamba had 8 puppies. My dad woke me up at the crack of dawn and I laid with her while she gave birth; I think I smiled really big that day. Our chickens, ducks and goose. And then there is the goats- don't EVER get Goats! I have TOO many stories to convince you to never ever get a goat but that's for another day:) Our cats, with the quirkiest personalities. Our horses; Buffy, Blue, Shrimp, Harriet, Cyril and China.
(My wedding day September 17th 2005)
Blackbrook Farm House was;
often cold because the heating cost a fortune,
the floors sunk in the middle,
sometimes the water was a questionable color,
some of the doors required some major hip jerking to get them closed and
we had to always get out the car to open and close the gate to get into the driveway
Of course Ben found this HILARIOUS! And a picture had to be taken.
(Picture taken 2008 our last visit to England)
For the last few years I have felt the need to find closure with my homeland. Perhaps this sounds ridiculous to you but to me it is a very real thing. I never intended to end up living in America. I dreamed of moving to the great USA, go to school, fill my backpack with adventures, return to England and perhaps be good enough to pursue a career in the West-end.
Clearly that didn't happen and I wouldn't trade my life for the one I had planned to live.
On one of my first adventures performing in a tiny tourist town in Idaho called Island Park my life collided with Benjamin Carney. Mr Carney likes to say at our first meeting I touched his leg and called him Naughty and that was the beginning of the end... There is a little more to the story, for example I was in full stage makeup just after performing with all my glorious musical family (very slightly hyper) at a Family Home Evening with the young adults from church. We were playing sardines, naturally an obvious choice of game and I happened to find Ben and in true Jessica fashion invaded his personal bubble by touching his leg during a vibrant conversation.
I rode a roller-coaster of love and ended up choosing America as my new home alongside my dearest companion; Mr. Carney. This was all well and fine until my parents immigrated to the USA. Having my parents a state away here in the USA away is a glorious blessing but I have to admit that when my parents move to America became a reality I was sad. Selfish? Yes, very, welcome to my self indulged world:)
There was no closure. I didn't have photos of places that were important parts of my childhood. I didn't get to say goodbye to my old, falling apart house. I didn't get to walk my favorite walks one last time paying attention to all the little details; the fresh smell in the air, the bounce in the grass, the heavy colored clouds that seemed to loom around. I didn't get to muck out another dirty stable. I didn't get to stand in the hallways and attempt to remember the many individuals that had walked those hallways and touched and changed my life. I never got to say goodbye.
My family will return to England to celebrate my sisters recent marriage. I was thinking of going but know it is not good timing for my little family. Even though I will not be there I have decided to take this time to reflect upon parts of my England home life that mean so much to me. I want to share memories that I want preserved for my children.
I roll over mean to hit snooze but turn off the alarm and then sink deeper into my soft pillow.
Instead of my alarm going off again I am awoken by the pattering feet of a little person running into my room and climbing on my bed. He is now on my head. I am now awake, a little frustrated but a little happy to see a happy face.
I roll out of bed fall down the stairs.
Start on unloading the dishwasher.
My hubby walks down freshly showered (I wonder when I will get to have a shower of my own in the next 24 hours) he makes cereal for himself and Jack.
After unloading the dishwasher I start making two lunches and put them in two different backpacks.
I start to attempt to make my breakfast but now Lucas' awake and needs nourishment so I make him breakfast and then get back to making my breakfast. "I need a drink" I make a drink.
Back to making myself breakfast while encouraging Jack get dressed Lucas is done and is headed my way with his bowl it has dregs of milk left from cereal. He is so proud of himself but trips on his way to me. I start cleaning up milk and comforting Lucas as he cries.
Now Jack needs me to sign his reading folder; why didn't I do this last night? I sign and then head upstairs to get Lucas dressed. He doesn't want to wear anything but his pajamas we have a discussion/debate for the next 10 minutes.
Finally Lucas is dressed. I take a deep breath and encourage him to clean his teeth. Why is cleaning teeth such a miserable event? It takes a lot longer that I hoped. Now I HAVE to get dressed. I ask jack to look at the time; it's 7:37 my heart starts pounding in my chest. I scramble to get dressed and skip making my bed knowing I will regret that later.
I start calling the kids "5 minutes!! I will do the chickens and then we need to get in the car."
I put my hiking boots on and head outside. I crunch through the snow feed the chickens and then get their water, head inside, clean it and fill it up. I look at Lucas as I fill the water up and notice he has taken off his shoes, URG! "Jack" I yell he comes in complaining he cant find his lunch. My blood is really pumping now, "Hang on!" I say in a tone that doesn't help.
Back outside put the water in the chicken coop and head back in. I now have to take off my boots and with Jack look for the pack lunch. Reagan has stolen it! "Have you looks up under my bed? in the office? Hurry we are going to be late" Why did I say that? Now he is disabled in fear of being late. Now Jack is rolling on the floor freaking out about being late and not even giving a thought to looking for his Lunch.
I try to calm down and help Jack be productive...Why am I not better at this?
Finally Jack has decided to look. The lunch sack is found empty in the office under the desk. I start making a new lunch while Jack grabs our dog and puts her in her cage while yelling at her. I see myself and feel foolish for teaching my child how to NOT express himself.
New lunch put in his back, put Lucas' shoes on and hurry them out of the door. I strap Lucas in his seat he realizes he forgot his backpack I tell him he will just have to do without and the crying commences. Where are my keys??? I run back and pray that my keys are where they are supposed to be, they are, a silent prayer is said. I get back in the car and reverse out of the driveway.
Amazingly we get there just before the bell rings.
Both boys are in school and I sit and wait in the car and BREATH.