Nicole Stroud is mom to AnniePearl (3 1/2) and chief animal caretaker to 22 animals. She and her husband Carl live on their property named The Squirrel’s Run near Fort Worth.
5:35am Alarm clock chirps, I hit snooze for an extra five minutes of sleep. These five minutes may not seem necessary to most, but they are critical to me. I absolutely love my nest. Once my feet hit the hardwoods my day rarely slows down. The two cats, Archie and Morris, and our dog Tess, start to move around the bed. They are hungry and know as soon as I get up they get fed.
5:40am As if three hungry meowing and barking animals were not enough, we have two one-month-old baby goats residing in a dog kennel in the kitchen.
5:55am Head upstairs sans the five animals to get myself ready for the day. Shower, dry hair, iron clothing for family, make the bed, get dressed, and try to sneak in a weather and traffic report as I am performing my morning activities.
6:55am Listen and wait for AnniePearl to wake up. We have her trained as well. Her alarm clock turns green when she can get out of bed (best 30 dollars we’ve spent). AnniePearl is ready to start her day. Most days she hops out of bed. Today is not one of those days.
7am Help AnniePearl get dressed, complete a hair style that she approves of and head back downstairs to have breakfast as a family.
7:15am Carl has started a family pot of oatmeal and I start to prepare meals for the animals. The baby goats need their bottles and I prepare a vegetable buffet to feed the chickens, horse and rabbit that reside on our property.
7:25am Head out the back door and over to the barn and chicken coop to feed the other nine animals that live in the yard. Check the nesting boxes and discover this morning we have three eggs. Everyone is fed and ready to start their day and somehow all of our animals live harmoniously together; they don’t question their living arrangements so I don’t bring it up!
7:35am Clean up a bit and do the mad-mom-dash around the house. Carl is a huge help gathering all the contents we need to take to school.
7:40am Load up and head out the door and down the driveway. Breathe.
7:45am Drive to school. I teach at a preschool three days a week and it is wonderful that AnniePearl is able to attend the same school. We get to go to work and school together so that makes “working” even more enjoyable.
8:05am Work begins. I truly enjoy the time I am able to teach and learn alongside 3-year-olds. This age is magical and I am so happy that I am able to share learning experiences with each child and their families.
12:30pm Head back home and hope that AnniePearl doesn’t nod off on the way. If she does that means she has napped for the afternoon.
1pm AnniePearl is down for her nap. I have about two hours to cram in a day’s worth of work. Check email, prepare school lessons, think about dinner, start and finish a few loads of laundry, check in with Carl about his day and check on all the animals. It’s baby goat feeding time again and because the babies are eating I give everyone else a little snack—we are equal opportunists at The Squirrel’s Run.
3pm AnniePearl is up from her nap and requests a snack and outside time. She decides that Abe needs to go for a walk so I oblige. We halter up Abe and make an attempt at taking the baby goats as well. Everyone is ready for our walk, except AnniePearl. Now she needs her scooter.
5pm Start to put together something that will resemble dinner. Thank goodness Carl is very easy going and does not expect dinners to be elaborate.
6pm Carl is home! The house feels complete and the three of us sit down at the table and share dinner. This is a family tradition we have carried on from both of our childhoods.
6:30pm Dinner and dishes are done, lunches are packed and bath time for AnniePearl has begun. And the baby goats need to eat again!
7pm AnniePearl finishes up her bath, and she and Carl watch a PBS show together. As they share a little time, I head back outside and lock everyone up for the night.
7:30pm The three of us head upstairs and get AnniePearl ready for bed. She selects three books and we all pile into her bed to read as a family.
8:00pm Catch-up with Carl about his day. We both start on other projects. Carl usually brings work home and I can be found updating our family blog, sewing for my hobby sewing business, or making jams and pickles. It never slows down here.
10pm One more feeding for the baby goats. Head up the stairs to my nest and collapse. I check the alarm clock one more time because all those hungry bellies will need me in the morning!