Aaas time goes by...

April 30, 2011, We moved to the farm, I was terrified of living in the country, although I loved the house and property..I had no interest in the barn...or farming. I had always wanted to be rock star....or famous singer/songwriter..

January 28, 2017....my how things have changed.

I never thought I would lose my desire for fame and fortune, even after starting the farm and soap business, I thought it would be great to get a reality show about our lives here...etc... We've had a bit of that kind of thing on a small scale (some tv appearances, and onstage appearances at Country Living Fair..etc..).

But over time, I've realized that all of that is not really what makes me happy.....what makes me happy is being here on our farm, with Jeff, our dogs, our goats, alpaca...etc..., getting to meet wonderful like-minded people, who visit the farm and support our soap business, growing food, making cheese, and Jeff and I having simple dinners in the kitchen, and just..being here together.

I would really like to be able to be dairy certified, and be able to sell cheeses, butter and such...with blends of cow/goat/sheep milk etc.. and sell a simple line of soap, while sharing what we've learned about animal husbandry, self-sufficient living, gardening..etc.

Jeff always said that I wanted to be a "soap rock star" ...and I guess he was right.....but as time has gone by I've realized what I really want to be...is his husband, a father to my son (he's 27) a brother to my siblings, a son-in-law to ma and pa....and a farmer..and goatkeeper that gives the animals in his care the best lives he can, while living a simple life on our farm, and being a part of a community...locally and around the world, of people who want simpler....more peaceful lives for everyone.

When the craziness of real world things...bills, crazy weather, ..even good problems like being overwhelmed with hundreds of orders for soap..get me feeling frazzled...going out to the barn and spending some time with those wonderful animals, helps to keep me grounded....the connection with them...their individuality, the feeling that when you're in the barn...their are no computers, political campaigns..etc...it could be 1823...or 1960...or anytime in history, it's calming..it's humbling. As Jeff says "It's hard to be in a bad mood in the barn"

I don't like to make every bit of our lives public...but last Saturday night, while in the barn...I received a text from Jeff "Are you almost done?"  ...that wasn't really unusual..I knew he was fixing dinner, and would sometimes ask how much longer until I'm done..so I waited a couple minutes and responded..."2 more groups and hay" ....and went back to work...I looked at my phone a few minutes later and he had texted "just do hay and come in, I need you, this is not a drill" ..so..I was concerned, so I called him and said..what's wrong..he said...nothing, just come in now....so...by the tone of his voice I knew something was going on...I ran into the house.....ma and pa (his mom and stepdad) were still there....in the living room with him...he was sitting on a couch...with a throw over him, and said...where is the blood pressure machine?  I said "for you?"  Yes........

So...we checked it...it was VERY high......he said..change your clothes...I need to go to the hospital....

Now...Jeffrey is not the type to ever think anything is seriously wrong....so I was terrified...I told him..I'm calling 911...he wanted to go in the car....but ma and pa backed me up and said...you don't know what's going on...you need to go in an ambulance...and you will get care much faster instead of having to wait...

a little backstory on the events leading up to this:

Apparently he had taken his pills...cholesterol med, and acid reflux med....and one of them didn't go down at first...and caused irritation......he didn't really think about, but started to feel his heartbeat in his mouth and a strange feeling in his throat and chest...and he was flushed...and..the blood pressure was very high...

So...while falling apart inside...I did my best to remain calm and composed and called 911 and explained what was going on...Jeff was looking scared at that point..which just tore me to pieces...I never want him scared...or in pain.....the paramedics arrived in a few minutes, and checked him out...and agreed he needed to go to the hospital..so...I was to follow behind in the car...but..I'm not real familiar with the route to the hospital he chose to go to...so ma said she would go with me..and pa would finish up in the barn for me.......I have to tell you...the 20 minute drive...behind the ambulance carrying my world....to the hospital was the longest 20 minutes I've ever spent...and I have never been so absolutely scared...or felt so alone....even with ma there with me..and she was wonderful....but...I didn't know what was going on..I didn't know if I was bringing Jeff home with me that night....or if I was about to be forced to start a life without him......I'm getting teary-eyed now writing this...it was just horrible...

The did an EKG, chest x-ray, blood work, urine tests...all of it was perfect.....his blood pressure was returning to a more normal level..but still a bit high......they advised it was likely caused by the pill getting stuck briefly and irritating his esophagus, which apparently can cause blood pressure to go up since the body is under stress...even though he wasn't feeling stressed about it....

So...sometimes life gives you a gentle...or not so gentle reminder...of what is really important. 

I don't want to be a celebrity...or a "soap rock star" ..I want to live a quiet life with my wonderful husband, on our farm..with these wonderful animals. It's all so fragile.

It's amazing how your entire view of things, and your priorities change....aaas time goats...I mean..goes by.

Posted on January 28, 2017 .

Actually...they do talk.

October is once again upon us.....chilly winds, colorful, falling leaves, and halloween. 

We don't really celebrate halloween, or decorate for it...we celebrate Fall, I LOVE Fall!! But since it's the time of year when people are talking about ghosts and goblins, I figured I would write a blog about living in a 193 year old farmhouse, on 193 year old farm. Soon after we closed the contract on the house/farm, we came out to visit with the previous owner, she showed us around and gave us some info that she knew, and at one point she said "If these walls could talk.." to which I replied..."But they don't...do they?" 

I was a little nervous about living in a house that was close to 200 years old, especially after walking around in one of the other houses we had recently looked at, that was built in 1841, and was just really creepy....it didn't really look creepy...it was almost 6000 sq ft. and a Georgian style house/mansion, and it just didn't feel welcoming...I couldn't imagine living there. The Tilton house on the other hand, felt like home the minute we first walked into it, it really did...just warm and welcoming, and oddly familiar. So we moved in, and ..at that time we still had tv service, and we used to watch all the "ghost shows" ...but for whatever reason, we didn't seem to want to watch them after moving here..haha..I guess we were a little paranoid. Now...over the years we've had a few of Jeff's relatives visit and stay for a week or 2 here and there, or even just overnight, and most of them have later mentioned that they had seen something.....a woman going up..or coming down the stairs...a figure walk across the family room, one female guest even said she felt someone smack her bottom out by the pond....wishful thinking?? Another thought they saw a man in a hat sitting against a tree in the front yard. Jeff and I really haven't experienced anything in the house, other than sometimes at night Jeff will swear he hears music, or a conversation, but can't quite make it out. Now...there have been a couple of things in the barn...but only within the first few months...nothing since, but..shortly after moving in, Jeff's sister was visiting and said she heard heavy foot steps up in the barn loft, which..would be strange because the loft has a layer of hay bales covering the floor....so..anyway, he just dismissed it, but then one day Jeff heard it also, and told me about it...and I dismissed it....but...then one morning I was out in the barn feeding the animals, and there it was...the sound of heavy foot steps!...very loud, right above me!....ok...it spooked me a bit...I went outside..looked around...then opened every door and went back in to ...quickly ..finish my work, you'll note that I didn't go up to the loft...ha! A few days later, during the evening, Jeff and I were both in the barn, I was in the goat area (which at the time was in the back of the barn), and I was spreading some fresh straw, and could see Jeff standing right outside the goat area watching me....which of course annoyed me...does he think I don't know how to put straw down???...hmmph! so I turned to admonish him....and...he wasn't there...he was up in the front of the barn feeding the chickens....now...I clearly saw someone standing there.....who was it?? A few days after that Jeff was standing outside the goat area...right about where I saw...someone...and he felt like someone was standing right behind him, almost up against him.....who??  That was really the last "strange" experience either of us have had here. This house and farm have a lot of history, from what we've learned we are the 6th owner(s) ....The Tilton's built the house, barns, and springhouse in 1823, Nehemiah Tilton grew up here, and sold it when he was in his 80's to Thomas McClay,a wealthy oil guy, who left it to his housekeeper that was married to Glenn Holler, they farmed here until the late 60's, it was then bought by Tom Hickman, who owned it until 2005, when the Trumbos bought it, then us! After more than 5 years here, the thrill of living in this house, on this property, has never waned...we are amazed by it every day, we love the history, and like to think about how different the world was in the 1820's...knowing that people were living under this (original slate) roof, and farming this land...working in that barn...almost 200 years ago. Living in such a wonderful place with so much history, has taught us so much about life, and ourselves, and what matters most.....we feel more than fortunate...to have found a place that we never want to leave, a place that wraps it's arms tight around us, and shares the years of history, and memories of the wonderful people that loved this house over the years....so...to think I was afraid that the walls would talk......well...I'm so thankful to have found, that they actually do....

Wishing everyone a great Autumn!!

Chad

 

Posted on October 24, 2016 .

It's all about who you know....

As you may know, I spend a lot of time in and around a barn, hanging out with goats, sheep, an alpaca, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, etc... they become part of your life, and you part of theirs, they become your extended family, and you theirs. What may surprise some people is the real connection that can be made with them.....all of them.....the goats certainly have the most individual personalities, right along with Ivy, the alpaca....but even chickens (Wyatt Chirp can be a jackass...and a drama queen...he's a polish rooster), have  unique personalities, and they certainly have a complex pecking order and ways of communicating with each other. One thing I've learned is that all of these "stupid farm animals" as some believe them to be, feel affection, loss, loneliness, joy, anger, fear, contentment...etc.. I've seen a rooster grieve for his companion hen,  I've seen a herd of goats, and sheep...stand in respectful silence at the death of a beautiful goat doe, as they each stepped forward to pay their respects to their fallen herd-mate. They know my moods, if I'm a bit down, I get a lot more cuddles and goats leaning against me....if I'm a little cranky, they act ridiculous to try to lighten the mood, if I feel confident that I'm in control of the barn....they will work together to prove to me who it is that is actually in charge! haha....

One of my favorite times of day....is actually at night, the nightly "tuck-in" as Jeff and I call it...it's usually around 11 pm, I like to give them a few hours after dinner and milking, to unwind and settle in for the night. It's interesting how you see goats cuddling up next to sheep (that they were bullying a bit earlier) a goat and the livestock guardian dog, napping together, I've even seen a goat and a chicken snoozing side by side......it's a time when the barn is quiet, and relaxed, everyone is very cuddly and lovable...it's this time when you really feel connected....they look you in the eye as if to say...thanks for doing what you do..we appreciate it.....I never imagined that I could feel such a real connection with a goat, or sheep..or a chicken...but they have a way of reaching out, and making that connection, a way that is unique and undeniable. One of the most interesting things we have learned about them, is that they communicate differently with us...and when we are around, as opposed to when we are not, we learned this when we had a baby monitor set up when we had some goat girls that were expecting......Jeff first pointed it out, but then it became so obvious....all of them..goats, chickens, etc.... made different sounds...sounds we had never heard...when we were listening to the monitor...they communicate differently with each other when we aren't around....it was quite an eye-opener. So if you ever wonder why anyone would get such a feeling of fulfillment from spending time in a barn, it's because there is such a community, a family, there... so much personality...we can recognize the goats by voice...they are each unique, even the sheep have their unique voices, and Wyatt Chirp's signature sound is un-mistakable. When I walk back to the house from the barn each night, I feel so content, and peaceful....that feeling certainly doesn't come from within...I'm an anxiety-filled loony tune....but they give me that peace, and contentment, they've changed my priorities (Jeff's too), I no longer care about driving a shiny new car, or wearing the latest fashions, or taking a trip to NYC......I'm happy to be here in the hollow, with Jeff, our dogs, and our wonderful barn family, that have helped me to see what is truly important. Visit the hollow, meet these wonderful animals, and you will ..at least in some small way, maybe understand why we are so in love with this life, and so passionate about making sure our animals are happy, healthy, and treated with the highest regard. There's a magic in the hollow......it's all about who you know.

Posted on September 20, 2016 .

Nut Bowls

Ahhh...here we are once again, the holiday season is nearly upon us.

It's been a busy year for us, our business is growing, and with a recent job-loss, I find myself at the farm all day, every day, as I look for the next job....hoping somehow we will grow our business to the point that I won't need one, and can tell Jeff to quit his job too! ....ahhh...oh well..back to reality.

Last night after I finished the evening chores, I walked into the kitchen, Jeff had just been home from work for a few minutes and had stopped by a store on the way home. One of his purchases, in preparation for the upcoming holiday season, was a bag of bulk mixed nuts, you know the ones, in the shells...walnuts, pecans, almonds etc...stores always have them this time of year. 

Now looking at two nut bowls that seem to be made out of a slice of a tree trunk, with bark and all, you might not immediately think "Christmas!!" But for me there i nothing that brings back so many magical Christmas memories. I consider myself very fortunate, although both of my parents have passed away, I had a simply wonderful childhood, I really have no bad memories....Saturday morning cartoons (with a bowl of cereal of course) staying up late on Friday night to watch chiller theater on channel 10, and always falling asleep on the floor during the movie. Then there was Christmas! What a magical time in our house, my mom loved it!  She would bake cookies, and make candy, with my sisters...and her an my aunt Phil, always made fruit cakes..I have no idea why..but they did. One of my favorite holiday memories is from when I was about 11, I remember coming home from school, just a few days before Winter break, and when I walked in the house my mom and sisters were making Christmas candy, and my mom had one of her favorite Christmas albums playing, "Elvis sings the wonderful world of Christmas", and the song that was playing was "If I get home on Christmas day", since that day..that moment in time has been etched in my memory, played over and over, as one of the most magical moments of my life. I shared this memory with Jeff of course, and a few years ago during the holiday season, I came home from work, and when I walked in the house, he was baking cookies, and I heard Elvis crooning.."If I get home on Christmas day"..he had downloaded the album from iTunes..to create that moment for me....my mom would have loved this man!  So...back to nut bowls....every year when we decorated for Christmas, which I must admit included a cardboard fireplace with the red bulb, but..hey..it was the 70's, anyway, my mom had these two nut bowls, that look in no way like holiday decor, but every year she had one at each end of the coffee table, with her big ceramic holly..or poinsettia dish in the center,  and she would perch an elf (what people now associate with elf on a shelf) on each bowl. Every year, those two nut bowls, filled with mixed nuts were a staple of the warm, wonderful holidays in our home. About the second or third Christmas after my mom passed away in 1992, I was at my parents house one day with my dad, we were in the garage for some reason, and I noticed the nut bowls in a box, and said "aren't you putting these out?? .Dad:...no......Me: "really? well I want them then..Dad: ."oh.. I don't care..take em.."  ..now..my dad was a warm and absolutely wonderful, hard-working person, a loving husband ..who adored my mother, but..for whatever reason, the symbolism of the nut bowls eluded him..I guess it was the"childhood memory" thing for me that made them so iconic. So since that time, every holiday season in our home has seen those two unassuming slabs of wood, filled with nuts..which when you think about, that's really what our house is..slabs of wood, filled with nuts. But now, every year during the holiday season, Jeff arrives home with a bag of mixed nuts, because he knows what it all means to me...and I think it all means something to him too. Las night was the night! Jeff came home with mixed nuts! a little earlier in the season than usual, and this morning...out came a nut bowl! (in my flannel pants and slippers) and put a nut bowl on the counter filled with mixed nuts. The holiday season has arrived at Tilton Hollow.......thanks mom.



Posted on November 12, 2015 .

Not so fast!!......

Ahhhh...the simple life, a few chickens, some goats, raise out a few pigs each year for meat, and income, make goat milk soap to bring in income, maybe sell turkeys, ahhhh....

Fast forward to Spring 2015: Tilton Hollow Farm, has well over 50 goats, almost a dozen sheep, about 14 hogs a few dozen chickens, several turkeys, and soaps, potions, brews and salves....oh my!! Don't forget those pesky, full time day jobs, with an hour (each way) commute!

Sooooo...ok...maybe we got a bit ahead of ourselves....

Over the next few months, we will making some changes around the hollow, some you will see, most you will not, but we need to simplify a bit, as we are in imminent danger of running ourselves into the ground...I mean, we're superheroes, but, even Batman sleeps, I wonder if I should sleep, hanging upside down....no matter.....anyway..

We will still have goats, aiming to get the herd to around 20-25, chickens (several good layers and a rooster or 2), keep a few hogs (our Old Spot Sow and her offspring),and yes, Ivy, our opinionated alpaca will retain her place as queen, still a few sheep ambling about,  maybe a less insanely huge garden, so it's actually something Jeff (who is a fabulous gardener actually...hell he's also practically a veterinarian) can keep up with.

The changes that YOU will notice, most likely, will be the changes regarding our products. As we re-focus on Tilton Hollow FARM, we will (at least for the time being) be scaling back our product offerings, to focus, almost completely, on making the best damn goat milk soap you will ever use. I'm not ashamed to admit, we lost a bit of our original focus over the past year or two, we're human (as is Batman), it happens, but when we are at the point where we no longer have time or energy, to appreciate the beauty, and magic of this property, and the wonderful animals that share our lives, or...even have time to think about, or nurture, our 21 year relationship, then we have to pull back a bit, not stop..or really change...just reel it in and re-discover this magical life we have. We have met so many wonderful people over the past 4 years, that we are definitely coming out  ahead in the are of friendship (you know who you are and you're all wonderful!)

So, there may be a product that you like that may not be available when the online store re-opens, but, as I said, some of them could certainly make a return, but..for now, we have to keep the focus, where it started.

We are excited for Spring! We have a lot of adorable baby goats, and lambs, to cuddle, we hope several of you that have been trying to work a farm visit into your schedule, can now get here, since the weather is being a bit more friendly. Are you looking for some goats for you're own homestead? Pigs? Lambs? We can set you up with some cute critters!  

I hope all of you are enjoying the beginning of Spring weather, and seeing little flowers popping up their heads. 

Thanks for sticking with us!!!

:-)

Posted on March 27, 2015 .

We forgot the Waldorf salad!!!!!

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow." ~Edward Sandford Martin

As I get older, I'm starting to realize that Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday, and the weeks leading up to it, my favorite time of year. 

I've always loved Autumn/Fall, and I guess it must be the warm memories of Thanksgiving from my childhood that make this such a special time of year for me. Now, don't misunderstand...all holidays in the Snelling household were warm, festive, & wonderful, but take my favorite season, and throw in a wonderful holiday, and there you have it! Growing up, my family certainly wasn't wealthy, but certainly not poor, my dad had a good job, and worked hard, and my mom stayed home...and worked harder, they were a wonderful couple, they never went to bed angry, they enjoyed just being around each other, there were classic moments...like my dad starting to doze in his chair with a cigarette (or pipe..during that phase) and mom shouting "Lester Ellsworth! You're falling asleep!" to which he replied.."No..I'm just resting my eyes" ...the cigarette burns in the chair said otherwise, (fortunately that was in the 70's and the furniture was some fabric..that for whatever reason would just melt a bit, and not go up in flames (I did that later on..FABULOUSSS!!!!..haha!).

Oh! this is supposed to be about Thanksgiving! So, as I said, we always had wonderful Thanksgivings, a wonderful meal, with my mom's amazing stuffing, which my sisters still make to this day...and which Jeff despises, (he's not a big, stuffing fan...though he makes a great version of Ina Garten's sausage stuffing...more on that later) the Waldorf salad would always be forgotten, in the fridge until after dinner, when someone would exclaim "We forgot the Waldorf salad!!" I'm not exaggerating, it happened every year, and still does, my theory is that it's forgotten because it's horrible, unless you like apples, celery, walnuts, mini-marshmallows, and who knows what else, all mixed up in mayo....good lord...really???!! I love apples, walnuts, and celery, but not in that vile concoction.

But even with the marshmallow & mayo monster lurking in the fridge, Thanksgiving was a warm and wonderful family holiday, and that is because I am lucky to have a truly wonderful (though a bit nutty) family, our gatherings don't include anyone getting drunk, there are no fights, no tension, we just eat, sit around laughing like loons, and just enjoying each other's company, and I think those times are the real reason my sisters want Jeff & I to get married...they just want an excuse to have another fun, & food-filled family party..sounds good...I'm in! 

Speaking of Jeff and I....as we have been together nearly 21 years (isn't he a lucky man?!) we have certainly created many of our own holiday traditions, which are a combination of the wonderful holidays we had with our families, growing up, and things that we have started, such as raising our own Thanksgiving turkey. The first Thanksgiving we spent at the farm, we decided we needed to supply the turkey ourselves, especially as we were hosting Thanksgiving at the farm for both of our families (it was like a a Simpson's version of a Walton's Thanksgiving..but much fun was had.....lol). At that time we had about 3 or 4 turkeys, we had a pair of Blue Slate, males "Basil" (short "A" sound of course), and "Blitzen". It was decided that Blitzen would be our Thanksgiving turkey. When the day came, a few days before Thanksgiving for Blitzen to be slaughtered (sorry...no way to make it sound pleasant), it was a gray, drizzly, and cold day on the farm, the animals were all relaxing in the barn, Jeff retrieved Blitzen, and brought him over to the back corner of the house where we had an area prpared for the task at hand, we said our goodbyes, and sincere thank you's, and tried to make it as quick, peaceful, and painless as possible. Some tears were shed, and then it was on to the job of plucking, and cleaning, I will tell you that it was difficult for us, emotionally, as it should be, to kill an animal, and at one point we noticed that over in the pasture, the only living thing outside the barn was....Basil....watching us pluck his friend, we felt like monsters, and the fact is..that's how you should feel when you kill an animal, even when you are doing it with no malice, and certainly feeling no joy from it. One thing I will admit that we felt that day though, was a bit of satisfaction that we were providing our own Thanksgiving turkey, a turkey that had a name, that lived a good life, ate grass, bugs, seeds, corn, had no drugs or hormones given. That day was nearly 3 years ago, and as we approach Thanksgiving 2014, we hope to continue the traditions we have created, such as, since we usually go to a family Thanksgiving at someone else's house, we don't have any leftovers, so probably 15 years ago, Jeff started cooking our own Thanksgiving dinner the day after Thanksgiving, one of my favorite dishes is his version of Ina Garten's sausage stuffing, and  we are again preparing to provide our own turkey, and some others to customers, and we take pride in the fact that every Thanksgiving turkey purchased from our farm, is one less purchased from a factory farm, and I can't begin to express what an honor it is to have someone trust you to provide there coveted Thanksgiving meal, superstar. I have so much to be thankful for, there is Jeff, my son Nathan, (and Tanya) , my wonderful family, my "in-laws" (well..we are in Ohio, so I guess they are "un-laws") Step-Chris, our dogs Daphne, Sophie, Sadie, Bess, & Matilda, all of our goats (hold on tight...here we go..) Gabby, Tabitha, Shasta, Star, Esmerelda, Millicent, Luna, Tilly, Jill, Holly, Dolly, Esther, Willow, Raven, Samantha, Clara, Endora, Nehemiah, Grayson, Downton, Abbey, Willow, Cricket, Rigby, Timmy, Madeline, Rufus, Lucy, Desi, Remington, Minerva, Honey, Harley, Jackie & John, the sheep, Lily, Tag, Violet, Daisy, Pansy, Sage, Parsley, our opinionated alapaca, Ivy, the pigs, Martha (& family) Virginia (and family) all of the chickens, the geese, the ducks, the guineas, and of course Turkelberry, and the other wonderful turkeys, we are thankful for the opportunity to inhabit this wonderful property, full of charm, and history, we are so thankful for our wonderful neighbors, and all of you that we have gotten to know over the past few years, and we are thankful for each other, and understand how fortunate we really are. I wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving with the ones you cherish, and by all means......forget the Waldorf salad!! eeegads that stuff is vile!

 

I apologize in advance for my punctuation....I'm atrocious at it, lol...Jeff says I write the way William Shatner talks...go ahead...try reading my blog as William Shatner, I have to admit, Jeff is correct! lol

Daphne, & Sophie, after the first Thanksgiving meal on the farm..

Posted on November 16, 2014 .

{Like monkeys fighting over the last banana}

I'd like to invite to spend a bit of time.....in my head. EEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!! the horror!!

Well, it's not really a horror, don't be scared, but...maybe wear a helmet, and bring some wine.

Those of you closest to me, know that I have dealt with anxiety issues, pretty much all of my life, I was, a few years ago, diagnosed with OCD and anxiety disorder (shocking..) now, by OCD, I don't mean that I wash my hands 50 times a day, or check the doors every 5 minutes to be sure they are locked, it's more of just obsessing over a thought, or a problem, trying to scope out every possible scenario (or catastrophe, as it usually plays in my head) of every project or step taken.  I have, in the past, taken anxiety medication, but...just didn't like feeling numbed, or tied down, that way. I have always thought of myself as a creative person (songwriting...graphics/photos/brand ideas..etc) and it just seems that, unfortunately a lot of the most creative, interesting ideas, have their roots in neurosis. So there have been times that I have had weeks at a time, where I am just completely worried, and scared of a situation (like the rabies scare of 2010....and 2014...) the list goes on and on.....it can be excruciatingly painful and isolating to have to try to function in the everyday world of work and home, while dealing with these fears in your head, and unfortunately, the person closest to me..as in Jeff, has to deal with the craziness of it all. Nights/bedtime is usually the worst, even when I'm not particularly focused on a particular problem or fear, as soon as I try to go to sleep, the anxiety takes over....are we going to make a success of the farm, can we pay the bills, do I have a heart problem, why didn't I do the dishes, how can I relax when there are dirty dishes in the sink, does Jeff really love me?, then the shortness of breath shows up....and panic attacks, just as you are about to drift off to sleep...suddenly you feel the room spinning...feel like everything in your body is dropping and you are fading away and...dying.....sometimes it makes you jump out of bed and say...what the hell is happening??!...then...it's over.

Now, I don't want you to think that my daily life is a living hell....it is not, I feel very fortunate, and feel that I have a very good life, just...there always seems to be some little thing in the back of my mind...nagging at me, and making me afraid to get too comfortable. 

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I believe that one of the most important things in life, and the key to a more peaceful world, is people being able to relate to each other, in an open and honest way, through shared experiences and learning that there are many more things that we have in common, than things we differ on. One of the beautiful things about having this farm, is spending time with the animals, they are so honest, and pretty much, what you see is what you get, no walls, no facades, just real. I know that some of you reading this will be able to relate to my "issues", and some will just think...wow..I never knew he was such a nut...(really?..you really didn't?). I know that dealing with all of this has been a huge strain on Jeff, and I can't begin to tell him how much I love and appreciate him for not throwing me away years ago, it has caused some serious rifts in our relationship from time to time, but...for my part anyway...I have never experienced the chemistry, the unspoken communication, and connection that I have with him...with anyone else, and I think we have done amazing things together, and hopefully more amazing things in the future, with our ever-present motto of "Leap, and the net shall appear". I also hope that by sharing this, maybe someone reading may think .."wow..I'm not alone in this" ...let's face it..it's a crazy world, we all have some kind of issues that nag at us, I think it's healthy to share them, but not let them define us, because if you look around, you will see that it truly is a wonderful life.  

I think most of us really have a lot to be thankful for.

Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving, with those you treasure most.

Onward and upward!!

Posted on November 12, 2014 .

{Haunted Hollow?}

1823, that's the year our humble, beautiful, of fairy tale-charm, abode was constructed by the visionaries...also called the Tilton's.

So some have asked...any ghost stories from the hollow?

Well, there's a little of this and a little of that.....

Not long after we moved in, in April 2011, Jeff's sister, and then Jeff, reported hearing footsteps in the loft (second floor of barn), the loft floor is completely covered by bales of hay, so you would not hear footsteps on wood up there at all....but they reported..separately, hearing heavy boot-like footsteps in the loft. I dismissed all of this as nonsense of course, but then...one Saturday morning, it was a beautiful, early autumn day, Jeff and his mom and step-dad (ma & pa) had just left to go out for breakfast or some such, and I was doing morning chores...it was sunny and beautiful outside, and I had been in the barn for a few minutes....when.....I HEARD THEM! I heard heavy footsteps above me in the barn!..I got chills...and went outside...and looked around...I was a bit freaked out, I must admit...eventually I nervously, continued morning chores, with all barn doors open!

Not long after my "footstep" experience, Jeff and I were in the barn one evening, doing chores, and at this point we only had the chicken coop area, and one large got pen towards the back of the barn, I was in the goat pen putting down fresh straw and such, and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Jeff was standing there watching me....which of course made me all (internally) bitchy, thinking.."does he not think I know how to put down the dam straw??hmmph!!" ....so I eventually looked towards him.....but...he wasn't there...he was on the other side of the barn in the chicken coop, he hadn't been standing there watching me....who was it?

A few evenings after that, Jeff told me he was standing by the goat pen, visiting the goats, when he felt like someone was standing right behind him, watching over his shoulder....who was it?

As for experiences in the house...I personally have only experienced, one episode, I was in the kitchen (and my son was here at the time) and I thought I saw Jeff or Nate walk into the kitchen, I turned to say something..and no one was there...but I saw a figure.

Back in 2012, Jeff's (amazing,sweet, hilarious, and fabulous) step-sister, Lisa was staying with us for a few weeks...at one point she told us...reluctantly, that early one morning, about 6 am, she was sitting on one of the living room couches talking to her husband on the phone, and she looked over and saw a woman in white, go up the stairs! She debated for a week or so about whether or not to tell us.

Jeff's niece Emily, also reported seeing a woman walking down the stairs, previously.

We have never,personally, really experienced or felt anything in the house......except, absolute love and warmth, although Jeff has said he has heard music, very faintly at night several times.. We like to think that the figure in the barn...if anything..was old Nehemiah Tilton checking in to see how the new owners were taking care of things, we hope he would be proud, and he is welcome to stop by anytime. We love the history of this house, we love the fact that the Titlon's and T.C. McClay (his name is carved in the barn floor) and the Hollar's would be proud of what we are doing, and that we have made it a farm once again....any of them are welcome to stop by for a friendly visit, an update...or to help muck out the barn!

 

We love our hollow home.

 

Nehemiah Tilton, grew up in our house, built by his parents, He farmed this property until a few years before his death at 95 in 1915.

Posted on October 20, 2014 .

{Boil water...get the iodine..}

What is cuter than a baby goat, piglet, duckling, or a little newborn lamb??

Around the farm we have had many births. goat kids, lambs, piglets, ducklings, turkeys poults..

Some, require little intervention from us, others (such as turkeys) take a bit more.

Every Spring our turkey hens, start laying beautiful, speckled eggs, in a spot that we let them choose, usually some corner in the barn, and as turkeys are not really that patient with sitting on nests, we collect the eggs and incubate them, which takes about 28 days. We use an electric/heated uncubator, with an electric turner, which moves the eggs to different angles a few times per day, mimicking the actions of the mother. The humidity needs to be monitored (adding water to incubator as needed) and the temperature, which is usually kept right about 99 degrees. for the last several days the eggs go on lockdown, which means they are not disturbed, or turned at all, finally we start seeing pips, or little cracks in the shells, which means hatching has begun! After they hatch, they spend at least 24 hours in the incubator, getting used to using their legs, and drying off, they are then moved to a large plastic tub, with wood shavings, a heat lamp, and food and water. The turkey poults need to be shown where the food and water is at first, or they may not find it. We keep them in the tub (in the house) for about 2 weeks, then they are moved to a cage/\kennel in the barn, so they start to gte used to the sounds of the barn, and..by this point they would start to get a bit adventurous in the house. They stay in the kennel in the barn (if it's cool outside we keep the heat lamp on them until they have feathers) until they are big enough to go out in the pasture with the others, but first their wings are trimmed (usually one side, just the long, flight feathers...it's like a haircut for you and me, no pain involved) which puts them a bit off balance to discourage flying over the fence...but still lets them have the ability to fly up to a branch to roost, or avoid a predator.

Baby ducks, usually have no intervention from us at all, we just randomly see a mama duck waddling around with a troop of ducklings (sometimes they sit on their nest in the barn, or next to the house...in the garden, wherever they decide. Honestly, a good number of the ducklings don't make it very long before they are taken by something....but enough make it, to keep us well stocked in quackers! 

Piglets...oink..squeal...ahhh..the cuteness, though they aren't particularly cuddly, they are terrified of everything...except mom's teat's ..and the other piglets trying to get to the teats. The piglets take little intervention from us, the moms know exactly what to do, and it all happens very naturally, wherever she decides to make her nest (within the hog pasture area) We usually, especially in colder weather will make sure she has plenty of straw available to make a nice cozy nest.

Goat kids!! so much cuteness!!! Bringing goat babies into the world is a bit more of a team effort between us and mama goat, though they usually do quite well on their own. But with goats we try to be present whenever possible, when it's time for the new arrivals, we have a maternity suite, set up for mom, with nice clean straw and a heat lamp, in an area away from the other goats, basically a private room/stall with a gate. Sometimes the babies need a bit of help making their entrance, a foot can get stuck, or they can be breech, or just not as slippery as they need to be....other slide right out like it's a fun park ride...weeeeeeee!!! We make sure that the kids get cleaned off quickly after being born, mama goat does a great job, sometimes we help by clearing any mucous out of the mouth/throat of the kid, but the mom startes right in licking and cleaning the kids, it's really amazing to see. Once we see that mom has passed the placenta (which she usually eats...great protein and minerals) we can be reasonably sure that all the kids have arrived, usually 2, sometimes 3...occasionally only 1, but that is rare. We hang around to be sure the kids start nursing, sometimes they need a bit of help finding the teats. Occasionally for one reason or another we need to bottle feed a baby kid, in that case we make sure to get colostrum (Colostrum is the first milk produced. It is low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies. It is a transfer of immune factors that occurs the first two days after delivery.) from mom, or some that we have frozen previously. Then we give 3 bottles per day of milk from mom, or one of our other girls. Bottle babies are even more cuddly and spoiled than the other goats! If we are going to disbud (make sure they don't grow horns) we have to do that within about 4 days of birth, it's not something we like doing, it involves using a "disbudding iron" which has a round metal tip/rod that gets so hot it glows red, which is then placed on the nubs/buds of the horns (after a quick haircut) for a few seconds, and moved in a circular/rocking, motion until you get a copper ring around the bud. It smokes..they scream...we feel horrible, but we also feel horrible when a goat gets horns caught in a fence, or rams another goat with their horns, goats are safer, in a farm environment, without horns, the kids get past it all pretty quickly, and are jumping and running and cuddling within minutes....but, trust me..we hate it, we hate it, we hate it. Another bit of unpleasantness is the "wethering"  or castrating young buck goats. Some bucks are left..intact, as bucks..which can be used for breeding our herd (to a point...don't want to inbreed) or sold as breeders, or in reality, some that will be sold...will be used as food (we don't eat goat). Wethering is done by using a small rubber band (not the kind from the stationary isle) and a banding tool...which stretches the band, which is then placed at the top of the ...sack..you know..which cuts off blood flow, and they eventually dry up and fall off, this is the method we used on our cow, Billy, he didn't seem to show any real discomfort..which was surprising. There is another method which involves using a burdizzo tool, which crushes or severs both blood vessels and cords leading to the testes, causing them to cease functioning, this method can be tricky (as we have learned) and sometimes..you don't really get any result, so banding is a more reliable way ..in fact we have 3 young bucks to band today. Enough with the unpleasantness!! Farm babies are wonderful! and we are always excited to meet the new members of our farm family

Hope this was an interesting read!

 

Posted on October 19, 2014 .

{A little bit country...a lot of hell, with fluorescent lights.}

Ahhhh....the peaceful country life, a simpler life, a slower pace. Sounds wonderful doesn't it? It is wonderful, when you can get it...

Jeff and I love nothing more than being here at Tilton Hollow, working with (and cuddling) the animals, taking care of the property, Jeff loves exploring the woods for edible, or medicinal plant species, and we love just being part of the history of this farm that was first established by the Tilton's in 1823.

Our reality though, is that 5 days a week, we have to leave our peaceful hollow, to commute an hour to our jobs in the city, spending our days in cubicles, in front of computers, under fluorescent lights, dealing with things that we really have no interest in.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Fighting crazy drivers in traffic, spending insane amounts on gasoline, and sitting in misery, dreaming of being at the farm...why? Because like many other small farmers, we have to ..to make ends meet,.

Don't get me wrong, we are grateful to have good jobs, that allow us to have this farm, but it's a bit of a vicious circle, because the more you try to do with the farm, to bring in income...the more time you need to spend at the farm, but you can't do that because you have to have the jobs to support the farm..and there are only so many hours in a day. During the week, our schedule is...a bit crazy, we get up and do morning chores, ans leave the farm by 7:30, we usually ride together (Jeff drops me off and then goes to his office about 25 minutes from mine) to save gas, so by the time we get home in the evening it's usually about 7 or 7:30..so a full 12 hours away from the farm. We get home, do evening chores, finishing up around 9 or 9:15, grab whatever we can find to eat..and then it's bedtime. That doesn't leave much time for other work to get done, though sometimes bedtime must be pushed back, to be able to package customer orders (Thank You!!) and such. So that leaves weekends for the bulk of the farm work, cleaning, building, making soap..writing blogs (LOL) etc..

We are constantly working to expand our farm/business (soap/products, hogs, turkeys, vintage/antiques etc) while at the same time, trying to be sure the animals are happy and healthy. Our goal is to get to a point where we can support ourselves completely from the farm/business, by bringing in income, and raising/growing most if not all of our own food.

As any farmer can tell you, the cost of starting, and maintaining a farm is incredible, we spend as much...if not more than most people's mortage (just a little less than ours) payments on feed/hay monthly, there are also occasional vet bills, though we try to manage the animal health completely on our own as much as possible, we do disbudding (baby goats....burning the nubs of horns so they don't grow), castrating (usually a banding procedure/tube clamping tool), giving shots when needed, etc... We cutback where we can, we have no tv service (don't miss it...no time for it..lol) we got rid of one of our 2 jeeps that we had monthly payments on...and are considering doing the same with the other (the truck is used, purchased outright...might do the same for a used jeep or some such) car payments are a ridiculous waste of resources for farmers, we buy a lot of our clothes (especially barn wear) from goodwill stores, if you shop wisely you can still be quite fashionable & fabulous..;-) 

We are not looking for sympathy, we chose this life...we could easily buy a condo near our jobs...or give up all the animals and business and stay here quite comfortably, but for us, farming is how we are most content. The point of this blog is to ...hopefully encourage you to support small farms around you. There was a time when we didn't need factory farms, when people, even in town, kept a few chickens for eggs and meat, bought milk from a local dairy, grew a lot of their own vegetables, bought meat from a local farm/butcher.Laws in many states (like Ohio) are very strict on small farms, such as it being illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption, it's fine for large "dairy's" to sell you milk from abused, sick animals that are injected with drugs just to keep them alive and milking, then add sugars and sweeteners, preservatives..and of course vitamins (because the milk has to be heated to the point that there are basically no nutrients left..just to keep it from killing you ), but selling good, fresh, raw milk from happy, healthy animals is punishable by jail time. The more we support factory farms and superstores, the more we drive small farms into extinction. Why does this matter? It matters because you and your family deserve fresh, whole, real, food, without chemicals, and drugs, and because the animals raised in factory farms live in horrible conditions, and are abused and..basically, tortured. Look for small, family farms around you, get to know them, ask to take a tour of the farm and see how the animals, and crops are raised/grown, you will in most cases find, that they are happy to tell you all about..and show you how they do things, and you can have the peace of mind of knowing where your food comes from. We..as most small farms ...want to get to know you, we want to be an asset to our community, and share our love of the land, raising animals in a natural way, and building relationships that can span generations. Know your farmer, know your food.  

Posted on October 19, 2014 .

{I am Fallsbury}

It's a gray, brisk, Autumn Saturday, here on the farm, I love days like this.

As I sit in the cozy kitchen of our nearly-two hundred year old, farmhouse, I'm thinking back over the past 3 years since we moved here, and how my perspectives, desires, and habits, have changed.

Before moving to the farm, I wanted to be a rock star, live in NYC, and wear the latest fashions..etc.. Now all I really want, is to be here on the farm, with Jeff, and all of the menagerie that make up our farm family. I don't care about the latest season of my favorite TV show (we don't even have TV), or when the next album by..whoever, is coming out, or the new fall styles at Express, or GAP..whatever. Now I appreciate much simpler things, like making an omelet on a Saturday morning, with eggs from our hens, our fresh, raw, goat milk, and herbs we grow. I like milking goats, I like making soap, I like watching the rain on the ponds, I like walking around our property,  I appreciate getting to know the personalities of what some would consider "dumb farm animals" , chickens, goats, sheep, turkeys, the alpaca, the hogs...they all have very distinct personalities, and they all make the hard work and struggles, more than worth it. On August 15th of this year, I stepped back into "Rock star Chad" mode, and played a show with ICONIC TONIC, at Badge Bash in Columbus Ohio, a fundraiser for first responders, in my mind, I knew....but maybe wasn't ready to admit, that I considered this my "farewell" to "Rock star Chad"...it just seemed like it had run it's course, and my heart was no longer there, I no longer needed that approval from an audience, because...I was...am..truly content in the life we've built here on the farm. I still love the journey of writing a song, and I am not the type to say "never", so I don't know if I will get up on stage again, record new songs again, I really don't know....but...for now, it's not in my plans, and not something I desire, I am content in working this beautiful property, enjoying it's history, meeting the wonderful neighbors that make up Fallsbury twp.....so...I guess at one point I really was "(wannabe) Rock star Chad" but now...I am Fallsbury (not the soap...and well..I'm Chad..not Fallsbury, but you know what I mean..right??).

Posted on October 18, 2014 .

Reasons and rewards

It's Summer, it's hot, steamy, stormy, and we soon forget how much we complained about -20 temps we had last Winter.But there are days, like today that we have mid 70's, low humidity and mostly sunny, that make it all worth it.

In the 3 years that we've been on the farm we have faced many hurdles...some of which we have shared with you, others we have faced in private. There have been times in the past 3 years that we have asked ourselves why we do this...are we crazy? Why do we want to work full time jobs in offices, and then have another full time job milking, feeding, cleaning, making soap etc... 

Recently we had started to wonder if we wanted to continue raising pigs, it's hard on the land/pasture, it can be expensive, it's rough emotionally when you have to schedule their deaths, and haul them away from their home for slaughter, but something happened recently that reminded us why we raise them and why we have to keep doing it.

Earlier this week on the way to our office jobs (Jeff and I carpool together a few times a week to save gas, and wear and tear on the truck) we were behind a semi, with a trailer that had 2 levels inside, filled with pigs, we could see them sticking their noses out of the holes in the trailer. As we followed the truck for several miles, I noticed something that disgusted me, and made me angry and sad....it was how clean the pigs noses were...these were noses that had never rooted around for food, because these pigs were raised in a building, in pens, never seeing the sunshine, never walking in the grass, and rooting around eating nuts and roots, and now they were no doubt traveling to meet their end, it's horrifying how people can treat the animals that give them so much. I made up my mind right then that we absolutely need to keep raising pigs, because we raise happy pigs, we let them be pigs, and every meal that is provided by pigs that we raise is one less provided by the heartless bastards that run factory farms. The best way to fight factory farms is take away their business, so we will keep raising hogs on pasture, and encouraging others to raise pigs on pasture, and to buy from local farms that do it the right way. We all have the power to change the world, with every decision, every action.

Now that I have ranted a bit, let's get to the rewards. Every day that we wake up and get to work this farm, interact with the animals and learn from them is a reward that is in a category all it's own. Another truly wonderful reward is the people we have gotten to know, and how generous and genuine they are. Jeff said it best, yesterday as we were driving home together...he said "A lot of people are really nice to us"  such a simple phrase, but such a powerful one, and it's absolutely true, we have gotten to know people that could truly restore anyone's faith in humanity. So thank you...you know who you are,  and you are wonderful.

Currently..here at the farm it's 62 degrees and partly cloudy. ..I guess that's ok.  ;-)

Posted on July 3, 2014 .

It's January..it's Thursday.

The alarm clock started blaring at 5 am, after hitting snooze a few times I made my way downstairs to get my coffee, and check emails/orders etc... also checked the news and weather. After checking the weather forecast I made the decision that I was not going to the office and Jeff should work from home, I don't have the work at home option so I had to take a personal day, why? well a decent amount of snow was coming, and we needed to get a load of feed today, and couldn't risk getting delayed in traffic after work (we both work an hour from the farm) and not make the feed store. So I informed Jeff of the change in plans then went to the barn to check Vera (one of our goat girls has been sick for about a week...hardly eating, just laying around) and start the morning chores. Vera was about the same as yesterday evening, which was a bit dis-heartening because yesterday morning she got up, ate grain and hay, and went out and tromped around with everyone else, this was after her first injections of Penicillin, Banomine, and Dexamethasone, that Jeff had picked up from the vet on Tuesday evening, however last night we only administered the Penicillin (don't want to overdo the others) and we were hoping it was what had made her feel better, but apparently it alone was not the answer, so today she gets all 3 injections again, poor girl. So then I tended to the morning feeding chores (usually Jeff and I do the mornings together, unless he works from home then he does them...but since I was home today I just did them). By the time the chores were finished the snow was really piling up and Jeff mentioned that if I was going to make it to the feed mill I needed to get going before it got worse, so off I went out into the wild winter wonderland, and let me tell you...the roads were horrendous, even though our Jeep is marketed as an "All weather warrior" I wasn't so sure me and Jeepy were going to win this one, but alas I made it to the mill and got the jeep loaded down with feed and hit the road...and slid all over it for about 40 minutes back to the farm. After getting the feed I checked on Vera again (Jeff had given her the Banomine while I was gone) and put out some more hay for everyone since they were stuck inside today. After another call to the vet we went out to give Vera her Dexamethasone shot, and then I took a bale of hay out to the pigs, to eat...and/or use to make their beds a bit more cozy. Now it's getting close to evening feeding and chores, but first I'm making a batch of Revolution, and Raaw soap, and having a glass of wine. since becoming farmers our days are certainly diverse, and never dull, it's not always easy, what with brutal weather, and sick goats that just break your heart, but it's a full life, and we appreciate it. I hope you have managed to stay warm and cozy on this snowy Thursday in January. 

Posted on January 2, 2014 .

A Holly Soggy Christmas

It's the wettest time of the....ok you get the point.

This blog was going to just be about the Christmas shopping that Jeff and I did today, but seeing as how the hollow is more like a lagoon at the moment, it's a two topic blog.

Being together nearly 20 years (this January 12th) Jeff and I have our own traditions for holidays, and they mean a lot to both of us. Most of the year I'm the first out of bed in the morning, it's just how I am, Jeff is not really a morning person, but does get up early when he needs to, Christmas morning for example. For 20 years now Jeff has gotten up before me (that's pretty early) on Christmas morning, he makes the coffee, turns on Christmas music, and the trees, and then comes upstairs and says "you gonna sleep all day? the girls (dogs) want their stockings", so we get up and have our coffee (and cookies), and then we give the girls their stockings, and then do our stockings...and presents under the tree, and it's never really been about the presents, though some years we have spent ridiculous amounts of money..but it's really the tradition, the ritual, that we enjoy (like how we always have a cocktail and watch the 1939 version of " A Christmas carol" on Christmas eve, and Jeff is asleep within minutes), and of course Jeff fixes a wonderful Christmas dinner. This year our tradition was a bit in question, it's been a tough year financially for us, trying to establish the farm and business, so we had discussed not doing anything at all for Christmas...but that seemed like a slap in the face to our tradition, and the traditions we shared with our families, growing up...so we decided to do something that wouldn't involve a lot of money but would allow us to continue our tradition, and maybe start a new one. We decided to pick a store and go shopping together, and split up to shop for each other..while trying to avoid running into each other, we had done this once before for stocking stuffers, at World Market in Columbus, this year Jeff suggested Lehman's ( https://www.lehmans.com/ )  a great store with low tech gadgets, pottery, books, old fashioned candy..etc.. so we went today, and had a great time, didn't spend a ridiculous amount, and maybe started a new tradition for our Christmas shopping. Then there's the rain...and more rain, just a few days ago we were treading on ice and snow, today most of the front area of our property is under water..as is one side, due to the front pond spilling over it's banks..even with the runoff pipes into the stream, the combination of frozen ground, melting snow, and hours of soaking rain, it's a soggy mess, the barn has about 2 inches of water on much of the floor  (the animals areas are dry) I guess that is the downside of being tucked in at the bottom of a hollow, but there are many more upsides! and fortunately the house sits on a slight hill from the pond and front yard and stream (good work Tilton) so it hasn't reached the house as of yet. It's hard to believe that Christmas is just a few days away, time seems to go by so quickly. We want to wish all of you an absolutely wonderful holiday season (whichever holiday you celebrate) filled with love and laughs, and maybe booze ;-) 

Have a cup of cheer!

Chad

Posted on December 21, 2013 .

Visions of sugarplums....and artisan cheeses.

Another year has come and gone here at the farm, we are in our 3rd Christmas season and life seems busier than ever. Our Christmas trees are still on the back porch, and we have several orders for product to catch up on (no complaints from us on that). I'm feeling a bit in the Christmas spirit this year, there is just really no time to deal with it. But as we try to find a moment to deck the hollow and be jolly little elves, we are also looking towards 2014 and making plans and setting goals. We are getting serious about moving into some new areas and tightening up the things we are already doing....and let's face it, we have to, or risk losing the farm. One of the big goals we have is to be set up and certified for dairy (artisan cheeses mostly) we also would like to be licensed for charcuterie (cured meats...prosciutto, etc..) we want to continue to build on our whole/half pastured pork business, and expand our heritage turkeys also. We will of course continue our hand made goat milk soap, and a few other skin care products, but some of our current products may be going away, we want to keep the product line lean and high quality. Over the past 2 1/2 years (as my recent blog mentioned) we have had good times and bad times...faced foreclosure, and honestly are never that far from being back there again, we've had births and deaths on the farm, and a garden that wasn't (stupid rain..). There are those that know us, who I am sure believe we have completely lost our minds....after all if we didn't have all of these animals and weren't trying to build a product line, we could easily pay all the bills and live a relaxed life in the country, but  we are going for something more, we want to provide nearly, if not all of our own food, and be a valuable part of our community, supplying families with their Thanksgiving turkeys, Sunday bacon, favorite cheese...and the best soap they've ever used, along with a farm they can visit and know that they are truly welcome, and truly appreciated. Some may think that a same-sex couple isn't traditional...but they would be wrong, we are actually pretty traditional guys, we absolutely value family and community, and want to be good neighbors and good stewards of this farm. We have a long way to go to accomplish all of these things, but we've already come further than some (maybe even us at times) ever thought we would.

I hope all of you have an absolutely wonderful holiday (whatever one you celebrate) season.

And if you're ever in the neighborhood, stop by and let us show you around the farm.

Chad

 

 

Posted on December 12, 2013 .

Raaw.

Season's greetings from all of us at Tilton Hollow Farm! I know a lot of you have been following our adventures since 2011 when we decided to move from the city to the farm, and completely reinvent our lives. The journey so far has been full of ups and downs, but I have never felt more alive and more fortunate. As we look toward 2014, which is our 20th anniversary as a couple, we are more determined than ever to make our dream of becoming full time farmers a reality. Over the past 2 years we have learned many things, we have had successes, failures, have faced foreclosure, lost a vehicle, and had some scary times not only financially, but as a couple as well. You see our posts and pictures online, setting the scene of an idyllic life in the country, and in many ways it really is, even with the struggles we wouldn't want to walk away from it. In some ways I know we both feel we have failed the history of this amazing property, and the visionaries who first settled here, yet we understand that what we are trying to do is something quite ballsy for a "banker & telemarketer" (love ya Pa) and we do not and will not play the victim, everything we have gone through with this has been self-imposed. Our daily life is hectic to say the least, we both work full time jobs an hour away from the farm, and having lost a vehicle we ride together so Jeff drops me off at my office and then I wait..usually about an hour after work for him to pick me up, and then the hour drive home, then to the barn for evening chores (we also have chores in the morning of course), and of course we are also trying to build our business with our soap etc... You may ask why I am "spilling the beans" on the reality behind Tilton Hollow, is it for sympathy? is it just complaining? not at all, I guess the reason is that I want people to know, that it's always worth taking a chance on your dream (even a dream you didn't know was your dream), and how you can wake up in the morning, knowing you are facing foreclosure, and feel completely fortunate and go forward and face the day working towards what you love, all the while believing that somehow you will make things work, what choice do you have? what do you do...quit? not a chance! I also want to tell you how lucky we feel to have met some really wonderful, genuine human beings because of our new life as farmers (in training). So...there you have it, while on a daily basis I am good at portraying myself as some sort of "goat milk soap rock star" ;-) there is a reality that isn't so pretty.....isn't photoshopped. I wanted to write this blog because I want you to know the heart of Tilton Hollow, we are passionate about giving our animals wonderful lives and bringing something positive to the world and our community. You will continue to see the upside of things here on the farm, because I think the world needs more upside, but sometimes we need to step back and lift the mask and check in with each other. This is real...this is life..this is Raaw.

Thank you so much for the love you give us.

Chad

Posted on December 8, 2013 .

Goats, bills, Billy, and a revolution.

It's been a little over two years since Jeff and I moved to the farm, and while I will admit I wasn't a fan of the idea at first, I am completely in love with our new way of life....Jeff was right (yes he gloats about it).

For the first time in our lives we both really know exactly who we are and exactly where we are supposed to be, I am still amazed that the place I live is the place I want to be for all of my life, it's like our own world here. 

There are those among us that think, and have thought all along that we have lost our minds or that we are being ridiculous and irresponsible, and unaware of what we were getting into. 

Well maybe we have lost our minds, but we've never been happier. 

Now with that being said, don't think that it's been easy...I don't say that for sympathy, it's just a fact, to this day we struggle.......struggle to pay the bills, but we are building something, we are building our farm and our brand, and have gotten so much support from so many  wonderful people that we have met because of this. 

We have faced hard times financially and emotionally, we recently sent off our cow Billy, who we had raised since he was just a few days old...bottle fed him, he was like an 800 lb puppy, but we sent him to his death to provide food for us...it was the hardest thing we have had to do on the farm yet, there were tears, and it bothers us a bit to eat the meat , BUT IT SHOULD!! an animal was killed for us to eat this meat, it should bother us! We are not vegetarians so we feel we should have the courage to look the animal in the eye, and show them compassion and love and treat them with respect....a lot of people tell us "don't name the ones you are going to eat" well honestly those people have no idea what they are talking about, why should we not name them? because it makes harder on us?? tough shit, if an animal is going to be killed for us it should have a name and be treated with love....no matter how hard it is for us, it's harder for the animal. 

So now we come to the revolution, we want to be a part of..or start a revolution if necessary, a classically traditional revolution, our society is so polluted with meaningless crap like Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians...in many ways the world has gone to hell....that's why we created our own...and are so thrilled to have found so many people of like minds. There was a time when families ate dinner together, and grew vegetable gardens, and people sent thank you notes and neighbors looked out for each other.  

We are determined to be a part of bringing that back, and making our farm a valuable part of our community. When we moved here I was very concerned about how our neighbors (though we only have a few) would react to a gay couple, we have been made to feel welcome since the day we moved in, the neighbors stop by sometimes if they see us out..just to talk and check in, and always remind us that if we ever need anything just call, they let their kids come to visit the animals, one older couple showed up at the door a couple weeks before Christmas with a poinsettia, and came to our annual cookie swap. This is how communities should be, and everything we are doing here is about trying to be self sufficient, and be good neighbors, and be a positive influence on Fallsbury twp.

We aren't just about soap and "building the brand", we are trying to build the community, and meet people (they are out there) who want the kind of world we want.....and goats..ya gotta have goats. 

 

Chad

 

Posted on September 24, 2013 .

Coming clean

So I'm sure you see all of my posts on our FB page about our brand re-launch this fall.

Well this blog gives you a closer look at the re-launch and the reasons behind it. 

 

When Jeff and I bought the farm a little over two years ago, we knew very little about being farmers (though Jeff knew much more than me) , but Jeff and I, since the day we met have always had the attitude of "Leap and the net shall appear" if we want something we go for it, we don't sit down and look at it in a practical way, now this has come back on us a few times here and there, but for the most part the net always shows up. As we got settled in to the role of farmers, we decided it was time to move ahead with our plans to have a goat milk soap and natural skin care product line, we knew nothing about making soap and had very little time to do it, so we found a wonderful soap maker in Margaret Neff, who would make the soap to our specifications with our scent formulas and our goat milk. We launched our soap in June 2012 and it has been a steadily growing success, people love the soap, love the packaging and brand graphics, and hopefully love the story and the animals behind it all. In late 2012 we started making Jeff's Folklore Apothecary products, making the salves and tonic here at the farm, and we always felt a bit like we were cheating by not making the soap, even though we never hid the fact that we didn't make it. Since starting the farm it has been a constant financial struggle (no surprise to anyone that has a farm) we both have good jobs (an hour commute) but a farm and brand is very expensive, so we have faced some very difficult and scary times and continue to struggle, but also both feel very , very fortunate to be doing this and sharing our lives with our wonderful animals, on this beautiful property. So now we come to the brand re-launch, this was a decision based on money, and credibility....Margaret is a wonderful soap maker and beautiful person, but of course when she makes the soap she has to be paid and she needs to cover her cost and make at least a bit of profit, so the reality is it's very expensive to have someone else make the soap, especially when we sell wholesale to our retailers we were making about a dollar a bar, factor in the goat feed and hay....we were drowning. Also we felt that we should be the ones making the soap, it should come from us...from us to you, and the more we got to know all of you, the more we felt we needed to be making all of our products. SO.. with our re-launch we are making all of the soap here on the farm, so there may be times when we only have a couple of varieties available, soap takes time to dry, we plan to always have our unscented (Raaw) and a seasonal bar, and as much as possible we will have Beekeeper, Revolution and Classic, our goal is to have them available most if not all of the time, but this is a hand made product, and these hands have to milk the goats, and drive to city jobs , so it will be a period of adjustment.As part of the re-launch I also hope to post more videos of things we are doing here at the farm, and do some appearances and demos on soap making, making your own natural house cleaning products etc... I have no doubt you will all stick with us as we start this new adventure. I am also working hard to get up to speed on raising heritage turkeys, and our hope is that by Thanksgiving 2014 we can have several available (might still have a couple this year) to sell and donate at least a couple to a local food pantry, we want this farm to become a valuable part of our community, as I'm sure it was in the past. We have a lot of work to do and a lot to learn, but we have never known anything more worth it. Thanks so much for being supportive of us, and we always welcome visitors, and love to show you around the farm and let you meet everyone! 

Chad

Posted on September 19, 2013 .

Vintage 1968

September 18, 1968: A baby boy is born to Lester E. and Dolores J. Snelling. 

He is the last (but not least) of 5 Snelling children. 

September 18, 2013: The baby now an orphan, writes a blog. 

Some people may dread getting older, I think it's much better than the alternative. 

Forty-Five, is that old? Maybe for some people but I don't feel old, I feel pretty much the same as I did when I was a kid, I'm still the same person really. 

I think one of the hardest parts of aging is how others interact with you, they somehow think at a certain age you become a different person, and I suppose for some that may be true, but I am still me, though I like to think I have aged like a fine wine (or whine if you ask Jeff). 

Five years ago I turned 40, it scared the hell out of me, and to be honest, for the most part I was miserable with my life, I felt lucky to have Jeff in my life of course, though we were going through a rough time and barely spoke. The fact is we were both miserable, having moved to Columbus a year earlier to be closer to work, we had a nice house in a nice subdivision, but our lives were empty. I was a failed "wannabe" rock star, and Jeff maybe wasn't sure who he was exactly.

Five years later as I turn 45, I feel as though I live in a different world (and I suppose I do) and am not the least bit phased by this number, in fact I'm actually proud of it. If you are able to get up and do things and live a life....DO IT! Don't knock yourself down with ideas of what 45, or 65..or 85 means, you are you, always.

If you're not happy with the road you're on, change it.

Embrace getting older.....you're still here. 

This blog probably isn't my most poetic or entertaining, and I know old guys are supposed to be more colorful. 

I will try harder.. 

Now get out there and live your life. 

 

AND GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DAMN KIDS!!!!!!!  Dang-nabbit!!! 

C. E. S.

Posted on September 18, 2013 .

Bingo (don't worry it's not really about bingo)

So you've heard all about how Jeff and I came to be farmers, but how did we meet?

Well, it's actually a decent story, and I'll condense it a bit.

I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar..oh, no that's not it. ;-)

In the Fall of 1993 I was in a mall with a friend of mine, and we happened to walk into a pet store. I was just walking around looking at puppies and such, when there he was, a tall, cute guy with glasses, he was working at the store. I told my friend (who was straight) that I thought the guy was cute, so my friend said "just go talk to him" I said "are you trying to get me punched? he's probably straight, I can't just go up and ask him out" My friend rolled his eyes and we left the store. So of course I couldn't forget about this tall drink of water I had seen that day, so I started to go into that pet store every few days for almost 2 months, I was holding puppies, talking about fish, any excuse to be there, of course always trying to position myself next to the cute guy that didn't seem to notice I existed. Eventually I gave up, I obviously didn't have the guts to talk to him so what was the point. So now we jump ahead to January of 1994, I was working as a waitress..no, I was working in a music store, and one of my female co-workers mentioned there was a "gay bar" in our town, now the thought of going to a gay bar scared the toast right outta me, I pictured feathers and leather dresses, and swinging from chandeliers, I had no interest, but she assured me the place was nothing like that. So that night after work I gathered my nuggets and decided to stop in the place called "Lavender Rose", I walked in and there were two people, a guy probably in his 40's, just a normal business type guy, sitting at the bar, and the bartender. I looked around no feathers flying, and not a chandelier in sight, there was even a pool table. So I sat down at the bar and after a few minutes of talking the older guy finally asked the million dollar question "so what kind of guys do you like", and I thought "there it is! when do the feathers start?" So being a bit of an ass I smirked and said "usually younger", the guy didn't seem phased at all, he said "I think you would like Jeff", so I said dismissively "who's Jeff?", to which he replied "he's a friend of mine, he works in the pet store in the mall". Now we have all seen cartoons where the characters' eyes pop out of their head, and they make that old car horn sound, well I'm pretty sure that's what I did. I told the guy "get him here, now!!" He called Jeff, but he was busy and couldn't make it that night, and the same thing the next night, strike two, finally the third night, I was playing darts with the bartender, the door opened and in walked the cute pet store guy! My dart game instantly went all to hell. So Jeff and I started talking, and it turned out that I had known his sister for years, I was close friends with his sisters husband (at the time) from the time I was probably 12 until at least 19. I had been to Jeff's house when he lived with his dad, but we had never seen each other, or at least not that we can remember. So we went back to Jeff's place and talked (yes only talked) for hours that night, as I was leaving he asked "Would it be alright if I kissed you?" well I wasn't an idiot so I said yes. Within 2 weeks, Jeff had moved in with me, and here we are 19 years later, to the day. January 12. It's been a wild ride, good times, bad times, funny times, scary times, but there isn't a moment that I ever regret sharing my life with this wonderful man that I stalked in a pet store, he has brought so much to my world, opened my mind to things I never would have given a second thought to (farming for example) He is so absolutely generous, caring, honest, hardworking, the list goes on and on, oh and getting more handsome and adorable with each passing day, of course we can still drive each other up the wall, and bicker like old ladies over a bingo card, but through it all I never doubt that I won it all the day we met. BINGO!

Posted on January 12, 2013 .