You're off the edge of the map, mate... Here there be Monsters!

Our Oasis: The Home of Seraphim Poodles and Their People
Seraphim Mountain is how we affectionately refer to our homestead. We feel blessed to have found a little oasis in a busy world. The mountains are not massive, but the hills are steep, the valleys narrow, and the terrain perfect for carving out a little farm. We've started with only a small steep cleared front and side yard and the rest a tangle of weeds, poison ivy, and beautiful woods. Little by little the boys and I have carved out a small pasture and finally have grass growing in the larger pasture we've cleared "down in the valley." Fencing is up in both pastures. A pole barn was raised through our own labors! It isn't perfectly square, and there are plenty of bent nails. The paint isn't quite perfect, but the animals don't care, and one daddy and two proud little boys enjoy the fact that this is the barn that they built
The efforts of clearing the upper pasture, fencing, and building a barn, have served as a warm up for a more aggressive land upgrade project. More land in the valley, equally overgrown and poisoned is being cleared, tree by tree, branch by branch. Some timber will be sawn into boards with a custom band sawmill built through the collective efforts of three families. This will provide lumber for the next barn and firewood for winter nights. Horses are the next desire, once the rest of the lower land is cleared and stumps removed and grass grown, and the next barn built, and.... Meanwhile we used goats to help "graze" the scrub as well as providing us some meat and milk. High tensile electric fence and a solar charger help provide the incentive for animals to stay on the appropriate side, although goats are a hardy and ornery species (much like their herders!) and find ways to get through even the toughest fencing, working on the premise that the poison ivy is slightly less noxious tasting on the other side of this electrified obstacle. Not as poetic as the whole "Grass is greener..." adage, but more accurate to their particular circumstances. While a long way from being the pasture we desire, we also can see a huge improvement from where we started. A few days with a stump grinder, some grass, and a lot of nuturing and we'll about be there! Oh yeah, and finishing the barn, and continual improvements on the fence, and.......
Another project we undertook was the addition of a swimming hole. Not exactly the "see-ment pond" of the Clampets, (more vinyl and steel) but still somewhere to escape the heat in the summer. Our problem... topography. How to keep pool and the water contained within anchored to our horizontally challenged property. Well, here are our efforts, and the pleasures of trying.
Most people might see only the poison ivy and all the labor. For the boys and I, this is a labor of love, of growth, of strengthening bones and muscle, of developing skills, and of family togetherness. (If only there was some weight loss included it would be perfect!) We don't have a cul-de-sac to play in, we ride four wheelers on our mountain. We don't play nintendo, we have hatchets, machetes, and saws to cut and move timber. We don't play much with neighborhood children, we play together, making something out of something else (only God makes something out of nothing), putting up fence, working in the woodshop, building model tanks or pinewood derby cars, feeding our animals, training and playing with the poodles, throwing knives and tomahawks, shootin stuff, and just learning and growing together as a family. The boys help roof when there are leaks, feed the furnace when it is cold, and work on machinery when it doesn't run. They are the most wonderful young men I've ever met, and I'm very proud of what they can accomplish, as a team, and often of their own initiative. And don't forget the little sisters and youngest brother who demands to be a part of everything we do, toddling along at his own determined pace. They also ride four wheelers, swing hammers and machetes, fetch cold drinks, climb, run, and assist in every way possible. They are tough as a brick and hold their own in this pioneering family where God is the King, our poodles rule the mountain, and we are but caretakers of what the Lord entrusts us with, both land, animals, and one another.