One of our hallmark features is that we allow our brides to come here and "make this wedding her own." This is incorporated in many different ways, but we feel that though we have set the stage - decorated the barn and the areas around the farm with natural eye candy plus bits of rustic and vintage decor - that we then allow the bride to come in and let her own creativity shine.
We have many options as far as how the ceremony can be set up and even where. Choices, choices but we see brides gravitate almost instantly to one place. Some brides just love the feel of the intimacy of the grove. Some like the grand exit from the barn towards the lawn while some love the mountain backdrop of the open hayfield. But within the choices, we still allow the brides to think outside the box in ways to make this wedding reflect her and her style and her vision for her special day.
Whether it is renting our pergola and dressing it up with flowers or material or grapevine wreathes, etc. or bringing your own - with some reasonable restrictions - we allow these ceremony additions.
Sometimes the additions are more subtle like hanging things from the trees. (Please no nailing to our trees or to our barn.)
As we tout - we have created the stage so that you don't have to start from a bare-bones barn to transform.....we have the backdrop complete, but you can set the theme and make your table decor and such whatever you want. It is amazing how just the infusion of certain colors or decorating styles (rustic, vintage, shabby chic, etc.) can change the mood from one wedding to the other.
Whether a Country/Western Theme
Even in and around the barn, there are some allowances (and some rules) for hanging decor from the walls and infusing more of your theme inside the barn.
Of course, another biggie is that we allow you to use your own vendors. Yes - we have a suggestion page with a list of vendors who have come here - proven themselves as professionals - AND received positive feedback from their brides....BUT.....we allow you to use the vendors that you want........no demand to use us (we don't cater) for your everything. This means you can go fancy upscale or BBQ or Jambalaya or a taco bar or bring in specialty vendors like the Good Dog cart vendor or Nana's Frozen Custard or Blackbird Baking Co. etc. You pick your own photographer - have a photo booth - hire a decorator or hire us. You can have your church family bring food. You can bring a DJ or let your friend bring his sound system and guitar. We try as often as possible to say yes to these choices.
When I think I have seen it all - a bride comes along and surprises me with unique decor or props or themes. It is really awesome, from our perspective even, that our farm venue - as unique and specific genre as it is - still is able to be transformed into a place that looks different from each wedding to the next. The little things seem to make a difference and I think that is great. It seems to please our brides. Let me show off a few of some unique flairs.
Ashley has always had a "thing" about unicorns and our boy Jack accommodated the costume.
Kaylin also wanted a door entry but these doors were "manned" by men and opened as she approached the wedding aisle.
A family member hand-made this cross for the Hannah/Matt wedding this year. It made an awesome presence.
Brian was a fireman - obviously.
Katie had a vision - coming through the doors "towards" the ceremony...it did make for a grand entrance though was quite a challenge to arrange.
Josh wore his respectable suit for the wedding ceremony but quickly changed into his comfy overalls for the reception.
Alyson and Micah's wedding was held at another location and the bridal party arrived in style in the Chattanooga Double Decker bus.
The point is - this is YOUR SPECIAL DAY. It is great that there are pictures and pinterest to stimulate your ideas and to help you visualize what you like....and there is no harm in copying some of these very creative and neat ideas - from table decor to bouquet ideas, etc. The key is that it is your choosing - your likes - your look - so these each wedding here can reflect our brides - YOU! And - we love seeing it and being a witness to such an event.
sincerely - Margie
One of our hallmark features here at the farm is choices - whether that is the location of your ceremony or the layout of your reception or what you wear or from which door you come out of or what photographer you use or whether you want additional services or not or what caterer you use. These various decisions not only helps you stay within your budget but it allows these weddings to reflect you and your look - your theme - your vision of this special day.
We do have a great Vendor Suggestion page link where we provide you with great vendors of various kind who have been here - proven themselves as worthy professionals to be included on our list PLUS they have received positive feedback from our brides. This Vendor Suggestion page is a great first start to your hunt especially when selecting a caterer. By choosing one of the vendors on our list - lets you know that they not only are qualified but that they understand the challenges of catering an event at an unusual venue like we have. Outdoor weddings are becoming very commonplace but it does present special challenges. We want you to be able to choose your caterer but it is very important that you inform them of our location - remember - you have toured our facilities but they have not.
When we get a call from a new vendor and they ask "what kind of kitchen do you have?" we know right off that the bride has not communicated well with them. Our venue surely presents challenges to them but we have seen many vendors successfully caterer here - from high end full course catering to simple basic barbecue meals. It can be done but it is to be determined by the caterer whether they themselves are equipped "and willing" to meet those challenges. That is where good communication with them is important.
One more tidbit of information for you to ponder. Consider the time of year when choosing what your menu is and even what kind of cake (or cake icing) or desserts you pick. If you are a summer bride - choose items that can travel well, be kept cool easier, and don't present an extra problem for your caterer. Picking a butter cream icing for a cake that may sit out for a few hours before consumption just doesn't make sense. Your caterer should be a professional and a seasoned veteran and such affairs and his advice should be listened to. Let him know that this is basically an outdoor venue of sorts and have a conversation about good and better choices. Embrace the farm and its benefits by wisely choosing your attire - your menu - the time of day your ceremony begins - what you drink - and when you cut the cake. I did say 'cut the cake' as a choice too. If your cake is delivered at 3-4 p.m. for a 6-7 p.m. wedding - and you don't "cut the cake" until 8:30 - then you may have a problem with the quality of the cake icing if you wait that long. These are just considerations that you need to weigh when making your plans.
Let me review a few of the topics that would be important for you to convey to your caterer - if they have not already been to our location.
1. We are an authentic barn which means we are not air-conditioned nor heated.
2. We have limited extra electricity so this means that any extra appliances (like coffee pots, warming trays, crock pots, etc.) should be VERY limited, used sparingly, and if they have any question about that - to contact us about it.
3. Bunsen burners are allowed for the caterers even though we have a no-candle policy for the barn. We understand the need for the caterers to keep their food warm and count of them to be extra careful with any open flame.
4. Currently, we have one refrigerator/freezer that they have access to. We have two large coolers that are often used to store ice in. Most of our brides use our Ice Vendor (also located on the Vendor Suggestion Page) who delivers the ice - unloads it and sets it where ever you need; typically loads some in the cast iron tub for drinks, maybe some in one of the wash tins, some in the large green coolers, and a few in the freezer....again - these are choices that you make - and decide who brings ice/how much/and where to put it.
5. There is a fire extinguisher located in the buffet room.
6. The Buffet Room has one long shelf reaching almost 24 feet long for food set up. If they prefer to serve the plates for the buffet then they need to talk to you about any available extra tables that they can use and then if they need to bring linens for those tables.
7. We have 6 garbage cans with bags and they are located in the Tack Room or in the Caterer's Stall. We have extra bags if need be. Avoid over-packing plastic garbage bags - for your benefit or ours. If I can't pick them up - then they are too heavy. HP Farms will automatically dispose up to 6 bags of garbage complimentary with your contract and any extra bags will be charged at $5 per bag and will be deducted from your security deposit.
8. We do expect your caterer to haul off his own grease and food liquids. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should your caterer dump tea, coffee, juices, food liquids, etc. on our floor or grasses. Any violation of this will ultimately be carried by you - the client. I mention this only because we have seen the carelessness of some vendors who have poured green bean juice or left-over tea on our lawn - the same lawn where the next breed hopes to be vibrant and green for her walk to the ceremony. Even large quantities of ice piled on our grasses will freeze then kill the grass so we are obviously very protective of our grasses and lawn.
9. The caterer is responsible for cleaning up any messes that they have created - specifically the buffet room and the caterer's room.
10. Unloading/loading of supplies - by you, your caterer, or decorator - is available on the driveway loop or the Farmhouse driveway. We actually now have one parking spot behind the farmhouse just for you...point is that the caterer's vehicle should not be on the loop when guests begin to arrive! If your caterer can come early enough to unload - then coming to the barn loop would be more convenient for him....but no unloading is allowed on the loop within one hour of the ceremony time. Any late arrivals should follow the vendor parking sign which sends you behind the farmhouse.
11. NO VEHICLES SHOULD EVER BE ALLOWED ON THE GRASSY AREAS AROUND THE BARN - please! Once the cars have been unloaded - ask your helpers to then move the cars out of sight so that your venue area stays clear of the clutter of vehicles. By keeping others off the grass, it keeps the lawn nice for all of our brides - your special day and others.
12. We have a sink in the Tack Room for washing your hands but since our water supply comes from a well - we do not allow you to use this water for drinking purposes. Make sure your caterer knows this so they will bring in their own water supply for drinks. Our limited water and sink area also means that this sink area should not be used by your caterer to wash dishes.
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So happy hunting! Hopefully this information will be helpful to you. If you have any questions - feel free to drop us an email or call Jill.
Ooooh - La - La! Don't you just love the old vintage china. I do say "China" loosely though for some of my vintage dishes are not china but still old and lovely all the same. I have found pieces here and there - ebay of course, but at yard sales, estate sales, consignment shops, and little antique shops throughout the southeast.
It is an instant attraction for me......either the pattern grabs a hold of my heart or it doesn't. I keep the color palette soft and delicate so to blend well with most of our bride color choices. But I am amazed at the beauty of them.....love the ones with the rippled edges and actually...it would be a difficult chore to award any one pattern as my favorite.
The marrying of the two worlds...the rustic barn and the tables with white linens and adorned with such a beautiful array of dishes - just takes the level of your event to a higher level. Each table groupings are selected by me as if it were one picture - each complimenting the next. The vintage china just becomes part of the extraordinary decor. You will see all of the ladies walking around the tables oohing and awwing over the treasured pieces....and as shabby chic has taken over the new generation - they too seem to appreciate the vintage look. Add to the look, the vintage silverware - old patterns and a bit of tarnish to boot but it brings the look full circle.
I am quite protective over my vintage china collection - my treasure. So these are rented out as a whole package which includes 1. the dinner plate, 2. fork/spoon/knife, 3. white or ivory cloth napkin (or a burlap colored linen napkin), and 4. dessert plates. As stated above, I hand select each tables worth of place settings to coordinate them, set them out for you on the tables with the napkins and silverware. We handle busing these items after the initial reception time. We have dessert dishes stacked by or near the dessert area and bus those as well afterwards. The price can be obtained by emailing me at email@example.com. It is certainly not the cheap method of providing plates and such....but it certainly creates an impression than your guests will not forget and as I said - it brings your event to a more elegant level. This package is very time consuming and my dishes are a treasured find. Storing, selecting, transporting, placing, busing, cleaning, and packing safely for the next event means a lot of work and effort but worth considering for the bride who wants an unforgettable presentation.
Another option for a budget minded bride is to use limited amounts of the china. In small doses - which means renting just the dessert dishes - again, stacked near the dessert table. Another option is to have the vintage table setting just for the head table and/or for the parents table. This still adds a bit of the vintage look but gives that special honor and flair to those most important.
Then.....to add more attention - there is the vintage and mixed dessert-ware that I have also collected. I will speak more on that later....but here is a couple of cute pictures to draw your interest.
Spring is here but in so many ways it doesn't feel like it. Yet - the grass is neon green, the daffodils are blooming, perennials are peeping up, pear blossoms are debating a bloom event, the garden is filled with lettuces and broccoli plants, and our projects list has been mostly completed. And - it is wedding time.
First, the projects. We are anxious to show you all our improvements and additions. As you look at this barn picture - you can see the rainbow over the barn...what an awesome miracle a rainbow it is....it amazes people of all ages. You can also see the gravel pathway that we have created from the farmhouse (as well as from the new vendor parking area).
As you approach the farm on Parrish Lane you will notice two sign choices - vendors and guests. If you are a caterer, DJ, or the bride....you can drive up the driveway towards the old farmhouse. The new post by the pear tree helps direct you to continue on towards the back of the farmhouse where there is a parking area with signage - one for caterer - one for DJ - one for our bride - and one for "unload only." This new approach allows the vendors to be busy with their unloading without clogging up the loop up around the back side of the barn - mainly for your guests. Also - as you approach the back side of the barn - we have moved the hitching post out just a bit....showcasing it a bit better. We have extended our gravel sidewalk around out to the drive....please don't drive on this - this is just to be used as a walk path for you and your guests.
We got the grass green, flowers planted and displayed all over, added many new flower areas like this old funky watering trough full of flowers, and yes - the red rooster is hiding amongst the daffodils.
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And of course - the best sign that Spring is here - new baby goats. Lulu produced triplets 6 days ago (day after St. Patty) with these adorable babies; O'Mally, Patrick, and Clover.
So - we are ready for the brides and ready for another year of wonderful weddings. Let's go!
Busy busy Bees we have been this winter. We should've been resting up for our busy season but we had so many ideas and improvements that we wanted to make. Our list is getting shorter so I thought I would post a few updates for your anticipated pleasure!
First up is one of our favorite projects - our funky new lighting in the Buffet Room. These are actually old vintage Olive buckets...yep, Olive Buckets. We have DIY'd them into hanging lights. It gives off a great ambiance to the room - don't you think? They are so cool we are trying to figure out how and where to put these also in our houses.
Next up we thought there was a need for an additional restroom. This one is labeled "Family" so that it can serve many purposes. It is an additional restroom for the guys. It also has a handicapped accessible toilet - raised to the proper level - plus it has bars on either side for better handicapped access. We also installed a changing station for our mothers with infant children. We often found them changing diapers on our vintage couch and thought we might want to find an alternative to that! We have fun as usual decorating it "in theme"...with a few final touches coming later. This also meant that we had to move the sink into the lounge across from the vintage sofa. This actually helps so that as your guests enter the lounge - they can see their choices much clearer now.
And...final for now but not my complete list, is a funky old light hung over the Tack Room (Lounge) Door entrance. This old light has been around from the time it hung over an old Well-House by the Farmhouse back in the mid-70's. We got rid of the Well-House and packed away the light for some future use. We have pondered its potential use in several locations over the years but now we have found a great home for it at the barn.
So - till later when we get a few more completed, I will post another update.
sincerely - Margie
Winter months are the only time we have to do projects - upgrades - and improvements. My husband claims that my mind just doesn't stop but both me and Jill had a long list of ideas that we wanted to implement this winter. As we complete them - I will add photos here and maybe facebook for you all to see. I hope you all will be excited about them as we are. As each year passes, we envision ways to improve our venue for you - our bride and your guests! As you can see by the first picture - my husband David has his number one helper (Finn) to oversee every little projects. We are in good hands!
First up is the Groom's Room. We admit that we had not given much attention to our Grooms. Give them a corner and they can drop their drawers and change at a moments notice without much fuss. And - we have certainly spent more effort as we concentrate on our brides and their surroundings. But - we saw that the guys really needed a place to hang out - to chill - and to just hide at some point. So...the Groom's Room (a.k.a. Man Cave) was chiseled out of the Milkhouse for them. We did put a hunkin' big air-conditioner in there for them last year and as primitive as it was - we thought with some more time this winter that we would give it a bit of an upgrade.
A fresh coat of paint, an indoor-outdoor rug, curtains to match (don't fret guys - they aren't frilly or girly at all), additional seating, some art on the walls, and some very manly decor here and there.
Next was to add an outlet (and breaker) placed in the front corner of the dancing area intended mainly for the DJ or Band so they can power up without laying out extension cords. Great - done.
One of our main projects that is not completely done but I will start showing you all the progress.....are wings added onto the barn on the west side (the grove side). We wanted to accomplish several things with this project....1. Create some additional photo ops on this side of the barn, 2. Add some more space to the Caterer's Room, 3. Provide back access for the Caterer's Room, 4. Provide a sheltered area for your sound guy's equipment when setting up for the ceremony music, and 5. Increase our storage areas and move the haybales to this side area to make it more convenient for the transportation of those haybales back and forth. So..........it began. We brought out the west side of the barn even with the Ladies Restroom.
I found these great funky doors.....6 of them! What a find! So....we needed a bit of paint to spruce up the doors and to camouflage the new rough cut lumber - let it blend a bit.
Well....stark difference, huh? The project is not complete. The week of torrential rains came and the frigid temps and a bit of snow....so my painting halted. But.....I weathered the boards pretty good...put a coat of primer on the old doors and will continue with this project. We will throw some sod down to cover the warn patches and of course I will say that we have a few more surprises in this area to showcase a bit later...but....we are pleased with the progress so far.
A quick note about a few more projects we are in the midst of.....just some hints and stirring of your curiosity here. We have added an additional restroom. It is referred to as the "Family Restroom." It is wheelchair accessible, has a changing station, and is meant also to be an overflow to our men's restroom if need be. This means we have done some rearranging in the Lounge with some upgrades to introduce to you later.
A project including "Olive Buckets" (know what those are?) in the Buffet Room - will show pictures and explain later.
New Signage out on the Highway will come soon.
A new vendors parking area is being created behind the Farmhouse. This will keep the vendors from parking up near the Guests Entrance - something that always perturbed me. The vendors will be able to park still close to the barn but out of your guests way. We are also taking steps to camouflage this parking too so you won't be able to see them...but they will be there. This particular project has stemmed another one - which I will tell you about later too. Brides will be glad to hear this one!
And finally - tho I hesitate to say finally...it feels like my list is much longer but no need to tell you all of my secrets and improvements.....but our entry way will have a bit of a facelift as well - as you approach the barn. We can't wait to show case that too!
So - just in case you all thought that we snoozed the winter away.....oh you jest! We have been busy bees trying to improve our venue for the delight and pleasure of you - our sweet brides - and for your guests.
Check back soon for more updates and pictures!!!
January 2011....we hit the ground running as we first began this venture of hosting weddings here at the farm. Our project to-do list was long as we new that priority one was transforming our facility from a traditional farm to a wedding venue.
Along with the many logistics of mucking out the barn and adding electricity were the Business 101 type issues that any new small business has to deal with. Creating a name, a website, a facebook page, corporate filings, signage, advertisements, etc. all come at you at break-neck speed.
Much of what we have done here to start this business has been by our own hands, with our own resources, with our own decor, with our own perennials, with our own sweat, and our own ideas, Fortunately for us, we had wonderful pictures from my daughter Jill's wedding to help us with those early presentations - early advertisements - an early wedding fair - and our early website layout.
Each month that has gone by - each wedding that we have hosted - we have learned and even evolved. We admittedly had simple expectations for this new venture but as the interest grew - we saw the possibilities that could come from some additional improvements. We have added many improvements since our first wedding on May 1, 2011....a dance floor/foyer addition, a stone patio, a caterer's room, additional doors, outdoor lighting, a driveway loop, a grooms room, and more.
As we enter year three, we have another to do list that we are anxious to complete. One feature that Jill and I have talked about for quite some time is the desire to create a logo for our business. A proper logo is the face of your company - the calling card that people will first see when learning about us so it is very important that we select the right one. The time was right to address this project.
Like most things, I made the effort to tackle this project myself. I played with all sorts of options but nothing was quite clicking. I knew that I would know it if I saw it but I was struggling with the design. There are times when you know that seeking out a professional is your best solution and indeed in this situation I conceded that I needed help. My first choice was one of our photographers that frequents our weddings....Charlie Gann at Blue Vinyl Creative Photography.
Charlie's photography has a very vintage feel to it so I knew that we were in the same mood with our businesses....besides that Charlie is known for his marketing skills with his "day job." I contacted him and we began the conversation - the long conversation of trying to define who we are - what we want to portray to our customers and then how best to present that. Those questions are not that easy to nail down. Many times as we discussed this one issue, I would have trouble narrowing down the focus. Our farm - our business - is more of a story than it is a word. It is more of a collage than it is a picture. It is more of a mood than it is a category.
Somehow we wanted to show the rustic - the weathered authentic side of our venue. This aspect alone separates us from other venues. We also wanted to make sure we steered away from a Hokie Pokie Cowboy look because though we are a barn - we aren't a Honkie-Tonk Country Western sort of place. We also wanted to include a bit of style somehow either with a font choice or with some embellishments to demonstrate that we are mixing the two worlds - the rustic with the glamor that comes from any wedding.
So the logo is now presented and you will begin to see it in many different places as we move forward this year. Look for it and as you do...hopefully it will indeed bring an interesting story for you to remember or a collage of images to your mind, or just make you fe lots of different and unique pictures into y our head as you reflect on your experiences with The Barn at High Point Farms.
Huckleberry had grown up into a fine looking goat and had learned to join his two worlds together - his people world and his goat world. He pastured with the herd, slept with the herd, and fit in quite normally. But if he was ever in ear shot of our voices - whether we were calling for the horses, or yelling "supper" to my husband - he would hear our voice and give his typical "baaaaAAAA!" It always reminded me of the Bible verses where Jesus says that "My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." Once you bottle feed a baby goat, no matter what they are doing - they have one ear listening in essence for you to call them and then they would come a-running from where ever they were - just as if you were their mother, for in essence, you were. This obviously becomes a very endearing experience. A Huckleberry was just this way.
Now, fast forward to Thanksgiving, 2011. Huckleberry is approaching one year of age. One of Jill's high school buddies, Dan, was in the film business - doing his own films on the side from time to time. Dan had filmed a short promo film here at the farm years before and knew full well of our farm and our goats. So as Dan's next project included a snowy Christmas setting and a goat - who else would he go to for such a casting task than us? His plan was to haul the goat in his van to Minneapolis where his wife's family lived. As we mulled our choices, we knew that it was be most practical to sell him either Huckleberry or Hombre.
Hombre was an older male goat but he was more the size of a Shetland pony. That just didn't seem practical since Dan was hauling him to Timbucktoo in his van - which sounded a bit absurd in the first place. The next thought was Huckleberry. We grieved at the thought of letting him go but we knew if there was any goat destined to be in a movie - it would be Huckleberry. We knew that if any goat was to handle the chaos - the people - the needs of a movie, even a small budget movie - it had to be Huckleberry. So, we made the decision and though we were saddened, we knew it was the best choice. So - on a dreary rainy day in late November - Dan loaded up Huckleberry and set straight away for the freeway and beyond - for the long trek towards a frozen tundra called Minneapolis.
Well - Minneapolis had a warm winter that year as we did as well. In fact, there was very little snow fall at all in Minneapolis and so little in fact that it did not facilitate the making of Dan's movie. Fortunately Dan and his wife enjoyed the winter months with her family but as they plotted their trip back south they made the decision to not bring back Huckleberry but instead to find a suitable home for Huckleberry with one of his in-law's friends - a plumber friend who had a few acres - a little farm of sorts.
The details of this part of the story have come second hand and again...I hope to one day chat personally with this man to get the full details. So forgive me in this next segment if it is less than totally accurate for my intent is to be truthful and give this wonderful story its just reward by telling it as it really happened.
The plumber's farm was small - more acreage than a farm but it was a wonderful refuge for the man and his family. They purchased Huckleberry and he immediately fit in and was a pleasure to have around. The plumber has a son who is handicapped and who was not able to get around very easily on the farm. Eventually, the plumber decided to make a cart for Huckleberry. He made the cart large enough so that his son could be placed in the cart and the goat could be led around the farm. Huckleberry took to the cart so easily that in no time before the son was able to steer it himself and now the son was able to have access to the whole farm via Huckleberry and the little cart. The freedom and fun now discovered for this boy who had once been limited was so amazing and had transformed the lives of the whole family that the plumber named his farm "Huckleberry Farm" in honor of his special goat.
I so hope to contact this man to hear first hand with full detail the entire story for I also think that sharing Huckleberry's unique beginnings will touch his heart as well. What started out as a bleak beginning for such a common animal, began a marvelous road of touching the hearts of not only us as we cared and loved him but in the visitors that came to our farm. It continued on with Dan who surely was disappointed at the inability to make his movie after buying a goat, hauling it to Minneapolis, and shacking up with his in-laws all winter - to no avail. But how else was Huckleberry to be at the right place at the right time for the right person? No ordinary goat would do. It had to be one as special and as loving as Huckleberry. It had to be a goat who love to be with people more than with animals. It had to be a goat who was always listening for his master's voice to call him. It had to be a goat who would instantly run and romp when his name was called. It had to be Huckleberry.
The story of Huckleberry begs to be told. One day, I shall write it all down so that I can make it into a children's story book....if not for publication - at least for my grandchildren. I think then I will aim for a younger audience but for my blog readers - the story as it really was. And as Christmas nears - I thought I would share the story with you - a much safer audience than a book critic. And for those of you who faithfully follow my blogs and keep up with our family business - The Barn at High Point Farms - know what an integral part of our lives all of our critters are....and I think you must be drawn to them as well. So sit a spell and let me tell you a story.
Late December 2010 was a particularly cold year for us here in North Georgia. In a region that snow is a rare but special treat - this winter was brewing up to be snowy and in fact - frigid event. Anytime that the temperatures suddenly dropped with a cold spell, somebody here at the farm would say, "it must be time for baby goats to be born....." because it certainly seems that it is the dead of winter that brings on the arrival of our goat kids.
This was the December in fact that Jill and I had finally had debated back and forth over whether to make the plunge and "start our wedding business." So at this stage, we were still full of ideas and what if's and work lists....and then of course - Christmas! With the unusual frigid winter blasts hitting the farm, it put us all into Hunker-Down mode. This meant all animals were brought into the barn to be stalled - each in their separate areas. Buckets for food and buckets for water, nailing up some tarps to keep that Arctic wind from blowing in - the list was long and detailed. The early snowfall was beautiful and fun but the 10-15 degree temps just put a sting into every activity and outdoor task.
Christmas Day arrived on cue as in every year. The family rituals of coming here to the house early, opening presents, eating a festive brunch, and a nice drawn out family time was right on schedule when reality harkened. We knew we needed to pop up to the barn and check in on all of the boarded up critters. Though they had been well stocked the night before, it was time to give another quick check on them. "Quick" likely wasn't the best word since it meant piling on layers and layers of clothes and gloves and boots and hats - but the animals would surely need some additional hay or possibly for us to break the ice in their water buckets.
Jill had her two young boys to take back to the farmhouse - so I headed to the barn alone. As I approached the inside of the barn, I knew that something had happened. All of the horses were at their stall doors looking towards the middle of the barn. All of the goats were huddled in the hay and looking towards the middle of the barn. There in the middle atop of a soft pile of hay were two newborn baby goats. Births are always a precious thing and even the animals sense it is special too. It creates our own little Nativity scene as the wonder of life plays out before our very eyes.
But on this cold cold morning - the circumstances were not in their favor. For there on the hay beside their attentive mother, laid one dead baby goat and his brother who showed some lingering signs of life - but just barely. I made sure that there was indeed no life in the first before I went to the next. I grabbed up the lifeless goat kid and held him in my coat as I ran off towards the nearest house - Jill's farmhouse.
One thing you can always count on with Jill living in the old farmhouse - is that she will have a huge fire roaring in the wood stove. With towels and a fierce body massage - the weak goat kid gave some reassuring signs of life. Grabbed from the jaws of death, at the moment, it looked as though we had saved one life. We have bottled fed many-a baby goats over the years. Usually it was when a mother had triplets and just didn't seem to have enough milk for a third - or if a kid was just a bit smaller than its siblings and was pushed to the side by the bigger ones. When a friend from Australia sent me a special delivery one time - three empty whiskey bottles and special rubber "goat nipples" that screwed on the top of the bottles. They were perfect fit and our baby goats always took right to them so much better than the nipple accessories here in the States. Those Aussie's know their goat nipples! ha, ha!
Anyway - so we dug out the milk bottle, made a batch of goat milk from powder, warmed it up to the right temperature, and tried as best we could to get the baby to perk up some interest to the bottle and the milk - but to no avail. After trying and letting him rest - and trying again....we knew we had little time to spare.
We called our down the street neighbor, Matt, who owns a small flock of sheep. We knew that he tube fed his baby lambs from time to time. We hoped he was home. Fortunately, he was and he brought his supplies and came immediately. Tube feeding is when you carefully funnel a long rubber like straw down the side of the throat till the end gets into the stomach. You then take a large needless syringe full of goat milk and insert it into the tube which takes the milk directly to the stomach. This method puts the nutrition right where it needs to go no matter the willingness of its recipient. Instantly - the milk begins to do its magic, the belly is full, and the kid can go to sleep now with a full belly - warming him up as well as giving him some much needed nutrition and energy. Part two is that I had to learn how to do this. It is scary beyond words. Funneling this tube down the throat is not only difficult and not suited for anyone lacking confidence - but you have to steer it in the right way or it could go down into their lungs - which of course would be disastrous and likely lethal if I got milk into the lungs. So, this task definitely falls into the category of "you do what you have to do because nobody else will - and it HAS TO BE DONE!"
So, we kept the little kid in a box on a blanket right beside the wood stove. I came back up and tube fed him two or three more times before sunset. The recovery was quick and a delight to see a frisky little kid emerge. Though he begrudged the tube process, he was anxious to have his belly full again. We wanted to take him back to his mother since he was feeling so much better. If we kept him too long away from his mother - she may reject him. So before bedtime, we took him back, confident that we had given him the necessary boost he needed. We built an igloo of square hay bales in one of the stalls and put him and his mom, Annie, in it. We helped to steer him to his mother teats and he got connected and happily nursed as instinct prevailed. She wasn't sure what to think of him but was submissive to the process, but we were confident that she would accept him and let him nurse again. With plenty of hay as a bed and locked in a stall, we left them for the night.
Early the next morning, Jill was the quick one to head to the barn and check on the baby. To her surprise, there were more babies born to two different mothers. These babies all lay shivering and dazed by the frigid environment. She knew from yesterday's experience that a quick rescue plan was needed to save these babies. As she peaked into the stall to check on Annie and her boy, she saw the little boy kid laying lifeless once again on the hay. Annie seemed interested in his plight but was obviously unwilling to accept him as hers. A quick panic-ridden phone call to me meant hustling out of bed quickly to fetch as many towels as I could locate and rush up to the barn.
It was a Chinese Fire Drill of sorts.....grabbing up baby goats, wrapping them in towels, heading for the warmth of Jill's house, looking for boxes to place them in, trying to keep them separated so we knew who was who and who belonged to who - in the hopes of somehow returning some of these babies back to their moma's at some point. But for now....our emergency mode was frantic. The poor little original boy kid was at death's door again - cold and lifeless but alive. He had likely laid all night unattended by his mom....and not even benefited from her body heat during the additional freezing temperatures.
The other baby kids were in much better shape but we realized that the extreme cold temperatures were just taking a toll on their newborn situation. Now imagine this. All of these baby goats (a set up triplets, a set of twins, and the original boy) were white with some bits of colors on their head. It was certainly a task to put one set of twins in this box and remember that they belonged to Snow White - while in these other boxes, these three babies belonged to Comet and then one for the original boy. I wish now that we had taken a picture of this. Jill's kitchen living room area is more or less one large room with a huge brick fireplace in the middle that only serves as decor at this point. The large separate wood stove sets in front of it with its ventilation pipe running up the original brick chimney. In the corner of the room is a Christmas tree of course. There are couches and kids and toys and furniture and now four boxes of baby goats. What a sight!
With a quick batch of warm goat milk, first up was the lifeless little boy goat in hopes that he would somehow regain his strength - once again. We felt so guilt ridden as if we had sent him out in the cold to die. But our mindset had been that he would reunite with his mother...and maybe he would have had the temperatures not be so awfully cold. Once again, the tube feeding method was completed - slowly, carefully, and cautiously. In fact, I went down the line and tube fed each and every baby there. Quick and easy (per say) and it got them all full and sleepy, making it easy to bed them down by the wood stove. Poor Jill with her two young children, Finn and Tucker - 5 mos. old and 3 years old. What a task she had keeping the goats in the boxes, keeping Finn out of the boxes, and soliciting Tucker for continual assistance. Maybe it is actually "Poor John", Jill's husband, who didn't grow up on a farm but often has had to learn to be understanding when the Farm Girl role was required of his wife. But four boxes of baby goats - that might've been a lot to ask of him...but he endured it despite it all.
As if we didn't have enough to do, our tasks that day also included devising a plan to create some sort of housing for these new nanny goats so that we could re turn their babies back to them - a way to hang a heat lamp safely, a barrier from any wind, where they won't be so apt to lose their body warmth. Plus - goats tend to all get pregnant one right after the other, so we knew full well that more babies were to come. If we didn't come up with the right solution, we would need more boxes - and that didn't seem like a good option.
Stringing up heat lamps is risky business. If hung haphazardly, a heat lamp could catch hay on fire and you could lose your whole barn - animals included. It was an immense fear of mine so we really struggled to find suitable and safe alternatives. The barn seemed semi-full already with our horses. Baby goats would need a dry, warm place out of the wind where they couldn't even get into trouble if they wanted to. Where in the world would that be? Our best plan was to convert the Milkhouse. The Milkhouse is a masonry building (a.k.a. the current Groom's Room and current Workshop) with two rooms. Each room was full to the gills with stuff and junk. But, it was best to be as close to the barn as possible to keep our animal chores within range of each other. So, we began pulling stuff and creating several segregated areas so that each nanny could have an area just for her and her babies. This helps to keep the peace but it also helps them to bond better since we were still keeping their babies part time in the boxes in the farmhouse and returning them back to their moms periodically for feedings.
The following day - which is day three for the little original kid - we saw much improvement. We switched him over to the bottle to feed him which he took to now because he had some strength to him. He had become our little baby - as they always do when you bottle feed them. We knew we needed a name for him and pondered some good choices. Jill's littlest boy, Finn, was especially intrigued with the little goat. Finn found it fascinating that the goat got a bottle just like a baby would. Jill in essence had two little babies....and we knew that Finn would become the goats buddy in no time. Because of some family history and because of the cuteness in the names....we opted to call the little baby boy kid - Huckleberry....so that we would have Huckleberry and Finn! Corny - yes, I know but cute!
Over the next week, we indeed ended up with many more baby goats - a total of 21 babies born in 10 days! I swear it was a bumper crop that year. The temperatures remained extra frigid for another couple of weeks so we had 4-5 heat lamps sprawled over a slew of baby goats. Even days after the first couple of deliveries - Jill, out of precaution, would bring the babies inside at night just to oversee them during the coldest of the temperatures - to return them back to their respective mothers the following days. We would haul the kids - one under one arm, the other under the other arm....walk out towards the pen as their mothers would be baaing out to them and them back to their mom's. It was a crazy routine for a few weeks as we had all available space full of sectioned off contraptions as make-shift pens....watermelon boxes cut up as a floor so they would not chill on the cold concrete floors....with layers of hay on top. Plus their moma's beside them - segregated by twos so that we could find two amiable nanny's who would get along during this close confinement. I know as I write all of this is sounds so chaotic and confusing and trust me...the regimen was crazy. Most people would never believe of such a story - of such a hectic regimen but it is part of living on a farm with animals....Unbelievable - Amazing - Rewarding - Totally Looney! If it wasn't for the love that we have for our critters - it would've been horrible. But....we saved them all and lost only the first initial one....and for that, we were tickled pink.
But, that is not the end of the story of Huckleberry. It is only the remarkable beginning. It is part of the wonderful story because he was a Christmas baby and that alone should make him feel special. It is part of the wonderful story because he was brought back to life - not just once from death's door, but twice! What a miracle. And also because he was our special little kid who eventually would not sleep in the box by the wood stove in Jill's house but in the barn stall with a slew of other thriving goat kids. But three times a day, we would go out to the barn and holler "Huckleberry!" and he would hear us and holler the loudest and more frantic baa back. In fact his "baa" sound more like a "baAAAAAAAA!" We would let Huckleberry just hang around us when we were working on things. Remember - by this time, Jill and I had already decided that we would convert the barn to a wedding venue, so we were on task almost every day especially if the sun was shiny and out. Huckleberry would follow us like a dog - or like a shadow for in his mind - we were his Moma....and Finn AND Tucker were his playmates. He became a special kid to us from these special times and connections and as he grew - he greeted friends, family, and visitors to the farm and they were all amused at him and his friendliness. He looked like a goat but he acted like a dog. We got Bear - our little Great Pyrenese pup - to protect the goats one day. He and Huckleberry were fast friends. As spring approached, we opted to keep Huckleberry as a neutered male pet instead of sell him as we often do some of our herd each year. Huckleberry was just too much fun to have around. So, we kept Huckleberry until.................
Until is the rest of the story and the best part of the story. The conclusion of this story will be posted in a couple of days........I hope that you take some time to check back soon and read the rest....
November 10th concluded our last 2012 wedding. It was as beautiful and as special of a wedding as our first wedding of the year (March 10th) was. It has been a long year - with many brides, many details, many improvements, many memories, and many new friends.
I am amazed that our perfect record remains in tact - No Rained Out Weddings! We had several close calls where the rain came in just before....and gave everyone pause to pull out their Plan B option for review, but then the rain came and the rain went as if on cue. There were several weddings where there were a half dozen family or friends standing in the barn looking at their i-phones as they watched the weather radar maps as a front looked like it was coming right for us - yet disappeared as it approached our valley.
We had one wedding where the beginning of the day couldn't have been prettier - not a cloud in the sky. Yet - as the ceremony time arrived - a rumble of thunder could be heard as a storm rolled from the northwest oddly down towards our way. Guests had arrived - a shower and storm came - and the bride, known for loving storms, decided to wait an extra 30 minutes to see if the storm would pass before going to her plan B. So...we waited...on pins and needles hoping that the bride was handling the situation with peace. Indeed she was....and the talk of her guests were "oh, this is just like Mandi - she loves a good storm!" After a brief wait - the wedding went on as normal and it was one of the more memorable weddings and the photos were amazing due to the odd light that comes after a rain.
We continue to be impressed by the creativity of our brides, the variety that comes from them, the great ideas that we see implemented, and the uniqueness of each of them. We are privy to a continual stream of pinterest ideas and looks.
We have been fortunate to get media exposure too this year getting picked up on several of the internet wedding blogs, local newspapers, and in magazines. We are excited about the Carly/Michael wedding from March(photos by Soli Photography) that will be featured in the Winter issue of DIY Weddings Magazine - to be on sale soon. Several other weddings have been submitted to various magazines - so we hope for more announcements later. We do no wedding fairs and very little advertising So, we are dependent on word of mouth, the attraction of my website where the amazing photos from our talented photographers share their works of art, and our Facebook page where we are linked and liked in a new age of social media. So, each and every bit of media exposure is exciting and precious to us.
We even found out that one of our brides did a music video here. Long story and a strange one but check out sometime on Youtube a music video for MatchBox Twenty song titled "Overjoyed."
We have had brides come from far and wide to have their wedding here at High Point Farms....West Coast, Augusta, Raleigh, Colorado, Japan, and more. Beyond our destination wedding brides - their family and guests have come from the four corners of the country and even beyond to attend these beautiful Georgia southern weddings here at the barn. It has been wonderful and fascinating to meet so many delightful people from all over. Southern hospitality has officially been spread far and wide. We have also had a few military brides/groom who either just loved the idea of a southern wedding or had some sort of connection to the southeast but those have all been fun and special.
We have had unusual sightings here at High Point Farms this year from unicorns to double decker buses to blind-folded grooms to cigar cabinets and more.
I had a niece get married here at the farm and I had a granddaughter, Emma, born in June. My husband quit his truck-driving job to become our full-time projects and maintenance man/jack of all trades for our family business.
We have been truly blessed with so many of the experiences this year and we thank you for your part in making this a wonderful and special year. We loving being a part of your special day and know that you too have made an impression on us as well. Our lives are woven together and with the pictures in toe - it makes for some awesome memories. I hope you have had a thankful Thanksgiving - there is much to be thankful for.