The Beginning of Our Story



We made the Big Move to Oklahoma in 2004. We'd bought our property a year earlier, but it took that long to sell our home in Michigan. We had three dairy goats at the time, including one in milk, chickens, dogs and cats, rabbits, plus two young teenagers. It was quite a trip!

Hubby drove the U-Haul truck, and towed our small car behind it. I drove the pick-up truck with a camper shell and towed a small enclosed trailer. Hubby and our son had made some modifications to the trailer so we could put the livestock in it: they added an RV rooftop vent that cranked open, a flow-through vent to one side. They added a real window on the other side, covered with half-inch hardware cloth, which we opened while we traveled. Hubby built a divider for the inside, made of 2x4's and covered with mesh fencing, with a hinged gate in the middle. This allowed us to open the tailgate of the trailer at rest stops without the goats escaping.

The goats rode in the front half of the trailer, with the divider separating them from the rear half which held the milkstand, buckets, a couple of bales of alfalfa hay and bags of feed for all of the animals. The pick-up bed held the rabbits in their cages, my two Maine Coon cats in a crate, and half a dozen Buff Orpington chickens in another crate, all protected by the camper shell with the screened windows open. The dogs rode in the truck cabs with the people. The two older dogs had done a lot of traveling and moving with us in the past; it was a "first" experience for the 2-year-old pup.

Each time we stopped for gas we'd open the trailer's tailgate to allow plenty of fresh air inside. We'd walk the dogs and offer water to all of the animals. We always attracted a number of children and their parents who wanted to see the goats and the bunnies, and we were often asked if we ran a petting zoo.

We spent the night at a KOA Kampground that had cabins for rent. Hubby had called ahead and talked with the management, and was told that as long as the livestock stayed in the trailer we were welcome. They assigned us to the cabin with the largest parking area and farthest away from the rest of the campers.

I have a confession to make: I had only driven the pick-up a couple of times before the move! I didn't like it, it was too long, and it was hard to see with the camper shell on the back. I also hadn't pulled a trailer since I was a teenager. I white-knuckled the entire two days of our drive. The absolute worst part was driving through St Louis. (Eight-plus years later, a newer pick-up truck without a camper shell is my usual vehicle, and I pull the gooseneck horse trailer regularly, although I can't back it up very well. I still wouldn't want to drive through St Louis again though, even in a car and without a trailer. I'm sure it's a nice place, and if you know where you're going it probably isn't bad, but living in the country like we do, "traffic" is two cars at a stop sign.)

Our granddaughter meets the goats for the first time.

Our second day's drive brought us uneventfully to our new home, where we lived for the next two months in a travel trailer with our large dogs, cats and teenagers. But that's another story...

More chapters in the Oak Hill Homestead story:
In the Beginning: the Goats
How to Choose Homestead Land
Ten Things I've Learned Living in the Country


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