Monthly Archives: May 2013

Garden’s planted 2013

Yesterday, we wrapped up planting the garden. πŸ™‚

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Markin’ off the rows. LOVE Grandma’s wheelho! πŸ™‚

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Brittle, broken fenceposts make great row markers, lol! πŸ™‚

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Coverin’ up the corn…

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Boys helping Grandma plant, lime, and water the tomatoes… πŸ™‚

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Lord, we give You our garden: the seeds, the plants, and the labor. We trust that You will give us exactly what we need for moisture & sunlight. And when our harvest comes in, we know it will be the perfect amount to feed us and share with others. May it nourish the bodies of all who partake of it – fill us with what we need to help You with Your harvest! Amen.

Lessons from a washing machine

Our washing machine officially “died” in March. Yep – right before calving, resumed milking, and baseball season began. You know – the height of laundry season?!

Can’t just go out and buy a new one (or even a new “old” one) because we are still in our consequence from when we began farming from our lost perspective – for the “money” in niche farming. When you spend all your “nest egg” + take on unnecessary debt to fan the flames of worldly success, it leaves you with no “pot” to dip into for routine maintenances, let alone any unexpected breakages. And this season has been FULL of those… Even though we’ve repented, received forgiveness, and discontinued irresponsible spending habits, it doesn’t erase the circumstance that was created as a result of it. We understand that. We accept that. And we pray everyday that others will learn from our mistakes, so others can avoid making the same ones. THAT is how the Lord redeems things – as we admit our mistakes, grieve in repentance, shed our tears, and share it in our relationships – He gives us endless avenues to glorify Him IN ALL THINGS! And here’s what we have been learning: we may NEVER be out of our financial consequence while we live here on earth – Scripture speaks of NO GUARANTEE that life for a Christian will be trouble-free. But Scripture DOES say that the Lord never leaves us nor forsakes us. HE’S WITH US IN OUR TRIALS WHETHER THEY ARE FROM THE RESULT OF A CONSEQUENCE OR NOT! And so if we don’t allow Joy to overflow from our redeemed walk with Jesus NOW, then we are missing opportunities to witness for His Kingdom WHILE WE STILL CAN! And then there’s this revelation, that’s REALLY been sinking in lately: if no more of my prayers get answered before I die, isn’t what Jesus did on the cross for me ENOUGH for me to give Him the rest of my life EVEN IF it’s hard? Can’t believe how much that question has given me pause these past weeks… Because when I say that question, I KNOW the answer is UNDOUBTEDLY – YES… Yes, my Savior HAS done something for each one of us that we don’t deserve and will never be able to re-pay Him for – whether we accept the gift or not… And so shouldn’t my suffering be my offering to Him as I walk in obedience & thanksgiving for His sacrifice for me? Thank You, Lord, for all the sermons, programs, & blog posts I’ve had the privilege of hearing & reading during this season.

The Lord has used this time without a washing machine to grow me in ways I would NEVER have chosen. I didn’t WANT to ask Mike’s parents to borrow their washing machine… They already help us so much! I wanted to roll our quarters and go to the laundromat so I wouldn’t have to tell them… But when you have to roll quarters to have money for gas to go to ballgames, there are no quarters left to take to a laundromat. Especially for three months worth. I have felt broken, and humbled, and overwhelmed, as one-by-one the “tools” I need to fulfill my duties as a wife and mother have been chipped slowly away. I know: it’s “just” a washing machine. Yeah. But it’s so much more than that! First the washing machine. Then it was my kitchen scale, and then – horror of horrors – our oven last week…

But what better way for the Lord to grow me in my reliance upon Him, than by allowing “my tools” to crumble? How easy it is for me to encourage others to “consider it pure joy when trials are faced, because the testing of our faith develops perseverance”… (James) Until it’s MYSELF I’m telling that too. Yikes. Makes that Truth a little harder to swallow. BUT IT IS TRUTH!

The Lord has helped me to accept help from others, share my struggles with those in my path, and has given me plenty of opportunities to practice leaning completely on Him for my daily provisions. And He has done exceedingly and abundantly more than anything I could have thought or imagined – the scale fixed, the gift of money to order a new heating coil for the stove, and now, a new washing machine!!!??? Wow.

I can honestly say this is the most beautiful washing machine I have ever seen. And that I NEEDED to experience a “season” without one, to truly embrace its loveliness. πŸ™‚

Oh the parallels with my Christian walk! Because I experienced a 37 year “season” without Christ, the beauty of my salvation in Him for the past 3-1/2 years, completely overshadows that darkness now. And I can’t help but not share His mercies as I walk in the Light.

So we thank God for you, anonymous washing machine donor… May we, too, be able to be the hands and feet of Jesus for those He brings to us. πŸ™‚

[1 Peter 4:11, Joshua 1:5, Romans 15:13, Hebrews 13:15-16, James 1, Proverbs 3:5-6, James 4:7-10, Ephesians 3:20-21, 1 John 1:5-7]

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Potatoes – 2013

This weekend, after Mike got the garden worked up, I worked on cutting up the 50 pound bag of Kennebec seed potatoes for planting.

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It just so happened, the boys had friends over that day… And much to our sons’ chagrins, we put them all to work at helping us plant the taters… (after we filled their tummies with a hearty dinner complete with homemade ice cream, though!) πŸ™‚

Their friends helped to make this not such a chore for our boys – so it was such a blessing to have them there. They even told us they enjoyed the “farm work”! I think Mike may have also convinced them of how “fun” it will be to dig them all up in the fall, lol – “good training for those muscles”, I believe I heard him say… And in all honesty, we’ll need as many muscles as we can get, since we planted twelve 50 foot rows of potatoes this year! (Just a bit more than last year’s 2.5 rows, lol…)

Amazing how much quicker it is to plant with extra hands. πŸ™‚ It only took us 45 minutes to measure, plant, and mound dirt over those 12 rows!

THANK YOU, BOYS! (Oh, and spread the word to others about digging this fall – we won’t send you home empty handed!) πŸ™‚

Here are some pics from the evening:

Potato planting 101…

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Just taking a moment to admire the audience…

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Weekend loader-tractor-tiller rental

Mike’s parents sponsored the rental of a loader-tractor-tiller to work up our big garden, and to perform a few yearly chores that we don’t have the “tools” to do throughout the year. We are so grateful! πŸ™‚

There are some things a large tractor just can’t do. And we don’t have a front loader, so this one we rent does some annual chores we save up for this annual rental… πŸ™‚

Mike had scheduled it for earlier last week, but the forecast was for rain/storms, so we cancelled it. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though… Learned that since Monday was a holiday, we could rent it after 11am on Saturday, and have it until 9am on TUESDAY!! When you rent a tractor, it is for 8 hours of “use”. In the past, it has always been difficult to use all 8 of the hours when it has to be back the next day (without completely exhausting Mike), and we try to not purposely schedule extra work for Sundays. So, the additional day that came as a result of the holiday was so wonderful! Here are some pics of what got accomplished:

Tilling up the big garden…

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It’s a good thing the garden is ready for planting now – just had our plants delivered from Skipper’s Nursery! They started our plants for us last year, too. I’ll do a future post on those as we get them planted. So glad we have friends who are willing to barter with us! This saved me many hours of labor & frustrations since we just don’t have a good setup/location to grow our own plants. πŸ™‚

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Next was the removal of the old satellite dish by our house. One of the best things we’ve ever done was cancel our TV. Did that almost 5 years ago. We have a DVD player, so that suffices for our media. I, for one don’t miss it AT ALL! I am soooo excited to finally have that ugly dish gone, lol! πŸ™‚

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Next was the attempt to smooth out the dip at the end of our driveway. We have a scary driveway – in a low spot between two hills. A left turn is a “blind turn” – and a right turn is not quite as hazardous, but can be if you don’t wait long enough for cars to clear a low area. In other words, when you pull out of our driveway, rocks will SPIN, because you need to be accelerating quickly – hence a hole grows larger as the year goes by…

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Next stop, pulling up feed troughs that got buried this winter from hay-feedings… (Um – yeah – don’t do that! Much better to carry in bales or slices and place them in different spots. Laziness never produces a good ending…)

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Lol – the calves were VERY interested!

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This trough was a little trickier because there was no easy way to get into this side of the barnyard. Fortunately, overtop of the fence worked out fine. πŸ™‚

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I got to help on this one, since Mike was on the other side of the fence…

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On to the milking barn next door. Time for the annual “clean out/scrape away” from the cow’s entrance…

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Next up was trying to fix Mike’s parents’ driveway. It washes out in spots, so this was an effort to patch it up for now. Mike’s brother got to “play” with the tractor, too… πŸ™‚

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Next Mike headed across the road to begin the “end phase” of the last part of our EQIP grant. Can’t wait to be done with our contract – it’s been a l-o-n-g six years. This phase entails creating a filter area to catch the water from our milkhouse drain. When a road crew came through a few years ago to replace a culvert, we asked if they would bury a conduit for us. Thankfully, they agreed! Since our contract is up this summer, it’s time to wrap things up. πŸ™‚

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These rocks by the milking barn have been causing water to leak into the corner of the barn. A better place for them is across the road, lining the trench… (Killing two birds with one stone ? Ha!) πŸ™‚

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And back & forth they went…

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Can’t resist – “the three muskateers” or “pied piper” ? πŸ™‚

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And last-but-not-least… A fun treat! Something Mike’s never had enough time to do, but has often talked about over the years, is to see if an old small brush hog would fit and work on this smaller tractor. This brush hog is leftover from when the farm was leased out as a Christmas tree farm. It has been in the way sat in the barn for years, without the right sized tractor to pull it… Mike & Ben were able to get it to attach & work!

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Oh my – this little cutter worked so well!! Mike was able to go around the entire perimeter of Gray Heaven – saved him HOURS of weed whipping fencelines!

And then he was able to clear more area around Mordor – something he’s wanted to do for a long time! πŸ™‚

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Now that we know this mower works so well, no doubt we’ll add more paths to cut on our future to-do lists… πŸ™‚

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Thank You, Lord, for this productive weekend!

RedRobin & Yogi’s trip

Sunday, we moved the last two calves from the barn over to the barnyard behind our house. The name of the complete area is Green Dragon, and it is divided into two sections. The smaller portion is toward the front, next to the barn. It’s where the calves go when they are first brought over. The other area is much larger and more wooded. Since the yearling girls have been moved out of that larger section, we moved the bulk of this year’s calves to that larger piece, so it is just RedRobin & Yogi in the smaller section. Once they catch on to the morning feeding routines, they’ll join the others in the larger part.

Here are some pics of RedRobin’s trip over:

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And here’s Yogi’s trip:

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And now, RedRobin showing off her running skills…

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I think RedRobin intimidated Yogi with all her high energy – he got a little freaked out by her & ran into the fence pretty hard…

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Looks like RedRobin is a social butterfly – here she is meeting her half-brothers and sisters on the other side of the fence…

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Not Yogi, though, lol…

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They caught on to eating in their new location pretty well. It won’t be long and they’ll get to join the others. πŸ™‚

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Funny how RedRobin is one week older than Yogi, but he is a lot bigger than she is! πŸ™‚

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Brotherly/sisterly love… πŸ™‚

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WELCOME – 12th calf 2013

Friday we had our last calf for 2013. Phew. πŸ™‚

We are grateful Friday’s calf and mama are a-ok, but are more than ready to move on to a new “season”. This one has been exhausting, and “weary” is a good word for how our bodies feel.

To sum up this calving season with one word, I’d have to say it was “unpredicatable”. So many things we thought would happen, didn’t. Or that we would be able to handle ourselves, we couldn’t. And Friday’s ending of this calving season was no exception to its unpredictability.

Allow me to bore you with my ramble… (I’m probably suffering from non-writing-itis, as well – it’s what happens when I’m super overwhelmed & can’t find time to journal, so forgive me & just jump to the pictures if your eyes are bleeding, lol…)

So Suezy’s due date was 5-8. She’s been huge & has had a swollen udder since about 5-1, so the waiting period for this final calf has been excruciatingly LONG. Suezy is one of the 2 cows left from the original herd we bought in 2007. She’s had 6 calves for us (not counting Friday’s) – so we refer to her as a “veteran” cow. πŸ™‚

Went up to bring the girls down for milking Friday morning, and could tell she was licking off a calf.

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It’s a boy! We named him Yogi. (These baseball farmers just couldn’t name a calf: “Yankee” in “Indians” territory, lol… We are done with using the aviator’s alphabet as a guide to naming our bull calves now. Next year, the plan is to go with Presidents – beginning with Washington.)

Yogi was still pretty wet, so we left them in the field so Suezy could finish cleaning him up & feed him. (Because after all, she is a veteran cow, right? It’ll be a cakewalk to get her & her baby down to the barn, right?) The rest of the girls came down to the barn for milking.

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Here he is cleaned up.

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Finished milking & headed up to bring down the duo. Got Yogi haltered and up… and noticed it didn’t look like he had eaten. Ug. Not good to have an empty tummy before the long hike to the barn. *first indicator it was going to be a long morning*

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Off we started. First we stopped for Suezy to get a drink…

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…and then Yogi promptly laid down & refused to walk. *next indicator of long morning* 😦

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So down I walked to get the truck (Plan B). Mike sat with Yogi on the tailgate, and the boys walked behind Suezy as she followed her baby…

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…and then she charged AROUND the truck, but thankfully didn’t break through the single wire of electric…can’t even believe I didn’t drop the camera because I was a nervous wreck, lol!

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New plan (we’ll call this Plan C) was to leave Yogi with his mama to eat, so we put them in the barnyard and watched him suck on his mom’s leg…for a long time… 😦

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Next Mike tried to “help” Yogi (Plan D) find his meal, but all that did was encourage Suezy to dance around… 😦

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Next plan (Plan E) was to get Suezy in a headlock in the barn, and give Yogi an up-close tutorial…

[I need to mention here that one of the main reasons we like to have the calf walk down from the field is so that Mike DOES NOT need to carry the 70 pound squirmy calf…but at this point, Mike’s carried him 3 separate times…] 😦

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So let’s just say that Yogi was not a quick study… 😦

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After Suezy kicked at Mike & almost stepped on Yogi, we had to turn to Plan F… Exactly what we were trying to avoid. Had to milk Suezy into the line, all by herself. Yes, after we were already done & cleaned up from milking everybody else, now we had to do it all over again for one, stubborn, old cow. 😦

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Next we tried walking Yogi to the barn, but he was just as uncooperative as he was up on the hill. Plan G was to begin feeding him a bottle of his mom’s colostrum so he would follow the bottle to the barn. It didn’t work. 😦

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Poor Mike had to just carry him the rest of the way (Plan H). His back is still sore today – 2 days later… 😦

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So now it’s me & Yogi – I paused to pray for strength. I’m not the type of mom who settles easily for “I’m not hungry…”

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Thankfully, he DID catch on & polished off his bottle. πŸ™‚

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And Mike walked Suezy back up to the field to join the others…

Nothing like a marathon milking morning to end the calving season! πŸ™‚

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Thank You, Lord, for helping us get through this hectic & unpredictable season!

Perhaps now I’ll be able to keep up with blog posts as we enter into our summer routines… πŸ™‚

WELCOME – 11th calf 2013

FINALLY – Reesecup had her calf yesterday! Apparently, we were off one cycle when we estimated her original due date. (Cows’ heats are spaced about 21 days apart.) When you wait 21 “extra” days for something, it’s kinda like watching water boil, lol…IT TAKES F-O-R-E-V-E-R!

Last evening, we noticed it looked like Reesecup was starting to push. We were watching her closely, because she was the last of the 4 heifers to calve, and we were concerned she might have a difficult time delivering – given that 2 of the heifers had already had issues

So we watched… (Of course, she waited for a dreary, rainy day, lol…) πŸ™‚
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Feet!!!
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After awhile with little progress, Mike decided to help…
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When Reese pushed, Mike pulled…

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…and pulled…

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It’s a girl!!! Since her mom’s name category is “restaurants”, her name is RedRobin. πŸ™‚

Next we waited to make sure Reese would clean RedRobin up. And thankfully, she did!

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And lastly, we wanted to make sure RedRobin would get up and eat…

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Yep!! πŸ™‚

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We left mama and baby together last night, so I snuck up on them this morning to get some more pics… πŸ™‚

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We are so thankful we’ve made it to calf number 11 – only one more left to come! πŸ™‚