This is what happens when I don’t keep up with my filing system:
If your name is Lilly and I’m supposed to be doing something with you tomorrow at 2:00, please contact me.
This is what happens when I don’t keep up with my filing system:
If your name is Lilly and I’m supposed to be doing something with you tomorrow at 2:00, please contact me.
As some of you know, Jon and I ran an animal rescue out of our home for many years. Of all the fantastic ideas I’ve ever had during our years of marriage, that was probably by far the least fantastic. But I have a wonderfully supportive husband and although he’s always declared himself “not an animal person” he has nonetheless taken care of more animals in his years with me than he’d probably ever seen in all his years without me. Isn’t he lucky, to have found someone willing to broaden his experiences the way I have?
Today I was reminded of a time when our family rescued a 150 pound, purebred rottweiler from owners who had used him to guard a meth lab. Our kids were 4, 3 and 1 at the time. Not kidding.
Unaware that we were bringing home an elephant (I’d only been told his breed and that he was “friendly”), Jon took the two oldest of our small children to pick him up. He was chatting with our vet when the dog arrived and they both fell silent as they witnessed the scene: The biggest canine my husband had ever laid eyes on, attached to an inch-thick horse rope, dragging his large male handler from one end of the parking lot to the other. The vet turned to Jon, standing awestruck with our two little girls beside him, and said incredulously: “is THAT the dog you’re taking home?” My husband, undoubtedly cursing the day he ever met me, said “apparently so.”
Jon called me from the vets office to tell me that this dog had to go back. IMMEDIATELY. He said there was no way I would ever be able to handle him and detailed the struggles he’d undergone to wrestle the behemoth into the back of our van. With nothing else to be done, though, he reluctantly brought the creature home.
As it turned out, we didn’t have anything to worry about. At least, we didn’t have to worry about the things we thought we’d have to worry about. From the moment that dog stepped paw into our home, he fell in hopelessly and irreversibly in love with me. He walked beautifully on a leash when I walked him, he sat calmly at my feet when I sat beside him and he followed me everywhere. He made it his life’s ambition to be within five feet of my person at all times and if I left the room, even for a moment, he would cry like his heart was broken.
So he went everywhere with me that first day, one part of his 150 pound body resting against some part of my body at all times until it was time for bed. Not having space to put his Saint Bernard sized crate into our bedroom, and not wanting to leave him free in our house for fear he’d have a potty accident (you know where this is going, right?), we bedded him down in his crate in the living room and shut the doors to the back of the house so we couldn’t hear him bark. Between that and the fan my husband sleeps with every night, were able to block out the sound of his lament fairly well. Too well.
The next morning after being up for just a few minutes, Jon came right back to bed. He lay beside me in silence for a while before saying quietly: “That dog pooped all over the entire living room.” He didn’t say anything else. And for perhaps the first time in our whole married life, I (wisely) didn’t say a word.
We lay there without speaking for a long while before I got up the courage to go and look. My living room – with it’s beige carpet and off-white walls – was BROWN. Everywhere I looked, BROWN. It was on the floors. It was on the walls. It was on the couches, the end tables, the kids toys…. every surface of that room was covered in feces and smelled like the very depths of Sheol. This dog hadn’t just pooped, he’d artistically expressed the anguish he felt from – literally – the very deepest part of himself as only a 150lb Rottweiler can.
It was a day of marital firsts. Something warned me not to even ask my husband for his help with this plague of misery. The man who had scrubbed fleas off infested dogs, countless messes off household rugs and gotten up an hour early every morning for weeks to run with an overactive boxer had reached the end of his considerable tolerance. He didn’t yell. He didn’t fuss. He remained in the bedroom, as far away from that mephitic stench as he could get, as I cleaned every inch of that room by myself. It took HOURS to clean. It took DAYS for the smell to go away.
That 150lb Rottweiler slept on a leash at the foot of our bed for the remainder of his time with us. We never had another incident with him and if the experience of walking into that brown, malodorous room hadn’t been permanently seared into the deepest parts of my husband’s soul, we would have kept that dog because I grew to love him dearly. As it was, we were able to find a home for him quickly, which is probably a good thing since I never could have left my house again, had we kept him. (Or is that a bad thing?)
We don’t run a dog rescue anymore.
Jon’s brother and sister-in-law recently blessed us with an amazing, wonderful gift:
As much of a blessing as this has been to our entire family, I was especially thankful because this sweet chariot is MINE. ALLLLL mine (it’s even registered under my name! The last time a vehicle was registered in only my name, I was 19 years old!) Receiving it meant I’d never have to drive Jon’s car again and I could put all MY stuff in all the places I wanted and it would never be moved around or thrown away. It meant I’d never have to stuff groceries into every possible nook and cranny and the kids would never have to ride home under mountains of bread loaves, fruits, vegetables and bags of alfalfa pellets. Most importantly, most wonderfully, most blessedly it meant that I’d never, ever, EVER have to transport another animal in the back of my vehicle. No more straw, no more hay, no more chicken poo and goat pee! What blessing! What comfort! What sweet, sweet relief!!!!!!!!!!!
One month later:
They say you should never say never.
There are so many amazing things to share that have happened since I last wrote here, it’s hard to know where to start! Kidding/calving season is almost over and with the exception of one loss, everyone has arrived safe and sound! We’ve had the opportunity to give away five baby goats to three different families as part of our Milk Enough Project this year! Here’s a picture of our little buckling, Jasper, enjoying his new home:
Jasper went home to a sweet family in Southern Illinois. To learn more about the exciting things they have going on at their farm, check out their website: harvestofdailylife.com
In addition to our goat kids, we got a beautiful little heifer calf from Gwenny:
We named her Ihle (pronounced Eye-Lee,) a name I first heard from someone at work. I loved the name and on a whim I wrote it down. Turns out, the meaning of the name “Ihle” is just perfect for our new calf: “a spring” or “a well” and the kids loved it, too. She’s half Jersey and I’m so excited that we’re going to be able to keep her, thanks to the amazing couple who blessed us with a milk machine this summer (more on this, coming up!)
Ihle’s not the only new bovine addition to the farm this year! We’ve added THREE new cows, thanks to the generosity of a friend who priced them low enough so that we could afford it, and family members who offered to pay half of their price in exchange for beef. Not to mention friends who were willing to let us borrow trailers and made the long, long drive to transport them! So far, we’ve gotten two of them to our property and are making arrangements for the third. He’s the first (and favorite!) of the newest members of our family:
This is Julie (a name we’ll probably change at some point, since naming animals is part of the fun of having them!) She is SO incredibly sweet and is a pure bred Irish Dexter, a heritage breed of cows who can be used for both milk and meat. Right now, we’re bottle feeding her to get her nice and tame but as soon as the time is right, we’ll give her over to Gwenny to nurse. If the kids will let me, that is! :)
Along with Julie/Whatever Her Name Will Be came the scariest animal we’ve ever had on our farm…
THAT, my friends, is a BULL. A bull with HORNS. I think I’m officially a “real” farmer now!
I was SO worried about getting this guy home. Earlier that week, he and the other cow we were supposed to be getting both escaped from their pen and he’d never been in a trailer before. From what I understand, cows can be notoriously difficult to load into trailers, especially if they have no experience with them and all that separated us from the bull was a metal fence that could have easily been knocked down. God worked a miracle for us, though, and when it was time to load him, he literally just hopped right into the trailer like he’d been doing it his whole life! Then, when we got him home, we couldn’t back the trailer all the way into the field we needed him in, so Jon had the idea of putting a rope up to look like an electric fence in the hopes that we could get him to avoid the rope and turn toward his field and walk in. So here I am, standing behind a ROPE, praying that he’ll make the turn we need him to make to go where we need him to go! AND HE DID!!! We were SO thankful!
We’ve decided to name him Ferdinand, after a book I loved as a kid, “Ferdinand and the Bullies.” I used to sit and look at the pictures in that book for hours, thinking of the day I’d have my own farm. Hopefully he’ll be just as calm and sweet as the “real” Ferdinand!
We might never have considered getting more cows, or even keeping Ihle, if it hadn’t been for another blessing we received this year:
This is a milk machine and it’s going to change a LOT around here! Jon and I have wanted an automatic milker for a long time but we’ve never gotten one and wen’re sure we’d be able to get one, because they’re VERY expensive. But when her calf was born, we weren’t able to milk Gwenny due to severe edema and were very worried about mastitis. A friend got us in touch with a wonderful family who practically gave this machine to us! Thanks to this machine, there is now virtually no limit (except land size, of course) to how many milk animals we can keep, and since we’re selling both cow and goat milk herdshares, this is HUGE for us! And the biggest blessing of all is that we’ve gotten the chance to meet two people who have quickly become good friends. I’m so looking forward to getting to know them better and we’re all so, so thankful.
Well, that’s about it for now! Just for fun, I’ll close with a few more pictures of this year’s babies:
This little girl is very, very blessed to be welcomed into the world by such sweet big sisters, whose love for her was written all over their faces during this session. It’s wonderful to spend time with such a beautiful family, and watch two little girls smiling and cooing sweetly as they welcome a new sibling with wide-open arms. Neila, you have such a special family. I feel blessed to know you and these precious girls!
Every year, I’m reminded again of why it’s so important to be here when our goats give birth. This year, we lost a doe from our goat Mini Pearl because we didn’t get to her in time. When a similar situation happened with our best milker, Sudoku, a dramatic rescue took place that none of us will ever forget. Since I generally take a back-seat role in these situations, here is the story of Sudoku’s birth, as told by the one responsible for saving her life and that of her kids, my oldest daughter….
I always knew that Sudoku’s birth would be special because she is Sudoku! Sudoku is our favorite goat. She always hast lots of kids and she’s a love-bug. But I had no idea what really awaited us!
It was May 26th and I knew that Sudoku was going to lose her ligaments (that’s when the tail ligaments drop so the baby can come out) but my sisters and I decided not to tell anyone until they were gone. Finally, around 5:00 P.M. She lost them. My sisters and I had held a secret meeting to decide how we should tell Momma and came up with a secret code that meant they were gone. Momma had NO idea that she was even close!! Our plan was that one of us would go to her and say “hey Momma, just wanted to let you know that Sooky’s ligaments are gone” and then walk out and say “hey Bitty, come downstairs I want to show you something” (that was the code that meant her ligaments were gone or very close.) It went like clockwork!! I went in and told her because Bundle was afraid that her smile would give it away (and I don’t think I did any better! I think I even started laughing!!) And Bitty had to stay out for the code to work. It was FUNNY to see her reaction!!!!
I went downstairs to watch Sudoku for awhile. Nothing happened, so I went to do some schoolwork and write in my journal till dinner was ready. We ate and then it was time for chores, so I got my stuff done and thought I would go sit with Sudoku for a little while. By this time it was about 7:00 and she started having contractions but she was not pushing. Just acting very uncomfortable. At about 8:30 Momma started to worry that maybe the kid was too big (we learned the hard way that after a goat starts pushing, they ought to have the kids out quickly.) But Sudoku wasn’t pushing yet, so I wasn’t concerned. I would really rather take a hands-off approach unless we see that something is obviously wrong. In this case, things seemed pretty normal. So after much discussion we decided to go on to bed and I planned check on her throughout the night. It was a long night! I slept just fine but it seemed like as soon as I got good and asleep my pester alarm would go off again!! Finally at 5:00 A.M. I woke up to that goof old music that Momma put on my alarm and I sat up and yawned looked over at Sooky and she was pushing! My eyes opened wide and I rubbed them and stared. Could she really be……………………… Yes, she was!!!!!
I jumped up and yelled “BUNDLE, SHE IS PUSHING!!!” and ran up stairs to tell Momma. I wasn’t tired now!! I ran up the stairs to tell Momma and she told me to come and get her when there was a bubble (which would mean a kid was entering the birth canal and ready to be delivered) and to watch the time. If it got past 30 minutes, to come and get her. I headed back downstairs and Bundle was up sitting with Sooky and she said “Bunchkin, there’s a bubble!! Go get Momma!!” I turned around and ran back up the stairs to get Momma. I had never seen Momma jump out of bed so quick! I ran and told Bee-Boy and jerked Shmoo’s covers off and said “There’s a bubble!!” I had never seen him jump out of bed so quick, either!! I ran to get Daddy and went back to Sooky with Smoo and Be-Boy.
Then Momma came and asked: “what time did she start pushing?” “5:00ish,” I answered. We all hung out in Daddy’s garage and talked and teased Sooky for taking so long! Then about 35 minutes had gone by and Momma wanted me to check Sooky’s cervix to make sure the baby was lined up properly. This was easy because I have done it a thousand times before. What came next, though, was NOT easy, nor had I ever done it! When I put my hand in, I didn’t feel anything at first! Going further, I felt something and told Momma: “I’ve got something here. I can’t tell exactly what it is. Oh here’s a foot! And another one! I think this is a head although it feels kind of strange…..Like almost soft. I don’t know…I think it must be a head. She’s moving it with contractions so I don’t know why it’s taking so long..I guess it’s okay though.” In my head I pictured a maybe a tough delivery but nothing major and certainly not being raced off to the vet’s office and pulling the kid myself!
We waited a few more minutes and then I lubed up again and asked God to give me something that I could picture. I was getting worried about the head being soft! So Momma called the vet wile I went to see if Sudoku was making any progress. She, was but by this time I was sure something was not right because I felt a heartbeat (who gets to do that?!! It was really cool!) I also felt one more thing that confused me and the longer I kept my hand in, the more confused I got. Suddenly, Momma came running downstairs saying “we’re taking her to the vet!!!!!! Bunchkin, go get dressed. Bundle if you want to come you’ve got 5 minutes!!!!” I don’t think I ever got dressed so fast! At first I thought Momma was going a little overboard, taking her to the vet, but at the same time I knew I didn’t know what I was feeling and the longer I tried, the more confusing things got! So at this point I knew that this might be the best option. I was not worried at all! God had actually asked me a few days before this, when we lost Pearl’s baby: “Will you trust me even if things don’t right?” So even if we lost the kids, even if we lost Sudoku, I was not worried because I knew this was God’s will. And somehow I just knew things were going to be OK. I felt a strange joy and laughed and joked with Daddy and Bitty. Once we were all in, Momma raced down the driveway and off we went! I remember laughing and thinking “this is gonna be FUN!!” Of course, right away me and Bundle made a game out of our circumstances (That’s something that happens a lot in this family!) We were having a blast!
As we drove down the road, Momma told me: “Baby Goat lesson, honey. As soon as we get to this next road, I need you in the back with your hand up that goat and try to figure out what’s going on, because if the vet has to do a C-section we may lose Sudoku and we might lose those kids, too.” (Most goats don’t respond well to anesthetic. This is the medicine that puts them to sleep. A lot of times, goats never wake up.) “So its really important that we get the kid out. I want you to ask God to give you a vision of what position the baby is in. Also, if you can get ahold of two feet, then just pull it out because this kid is probably dead. But don’t pull unless you’ve got two feet, because you don’t want to tear Sooky. Just do the best you can and pray, Bunchkin, and Bundle you pray too.”
Momma sounded really panicked and so I prayed that God would give her the same kind of peace that I had. I got a little nervous, thinking: “I can’t tell what I am feeling!!” But I was determined to stay calm and pray and I said: “Lord, I know this is your will. Just guide my hand where you want it.” And then a peace came over me and me and Bundle continued to play our game. We got to the road Momma was talking about and she said: “Alright, Bunchkin, GO. Pray that God will help you!” I kicked off my shoes (I am not a fan of shoes and knew they would just pester) and jumped into the back and said: “alright, Lord.” Then I put on a glove. Some lube. Grabbed a towel. Found the snot sucker and I was ready. From there, things seemed a blur of events. I’ll tell you some highlights from what I remember:
The first thing I remember was that I found a front foot but it was towards the back so the I knew the kid must be breach (backwards.) The second was that I could hear Momma pretty well and I heard her praying with all her heart. Although I couldn’t hear all she said, I heard her once say: “God, you have given us a spirit of power and not of fear.” I prayed, sort of a silent conversation between me and Him. I would say things like “OK lord what?………………” And then my mind would trail off. The third thing I remember was that Momma said to find some feet, and to pull them out because it was probably too late for this baby to be alive. The fourth thing I remember was feeling the heartbeat again. I was filled with awe and sadness that she (I just KNEW it was a girl!!) was probably not going to make it. But I refused to think about that and continued to focus on God. I was not worried at all. (Bundle said I might have even been smiling!) And the last thing I remember was the kid being born!
The kid being born felt like slow motion. I will tell you what I remember. First, I found two hocks and it was then I understood that the kid was breach and upside down. Suddenly it all made sense!! And then I got the vision that Momma had been praying for. And in my vision I saw that the baby was black, upside down, breach, and a girl. After that, it took no time at all to find the other hock (since now I had a good picture in my head) and to locate the feet and pull them out. And when I saw that the feet were black, memories of Pearls birth filled my mind and suddenly the reality of what Momma was saying all along about the kid not making it sank in and I was filled with sadness. I took a minute to breath and then grabbed a towel for traction and pulled that kid out as fast and hard as I could!!! And sure enough it was upside down and breach. And black. And a girl! I grabbed another towel and started to scrub its head as hard and as fast as I could. “It’s out!!” Bundle and I said at the same time. “Is it alive?” Momma asked. I remember thinking “no, I don’t think it made it” because it wouldn’t react to my scrubbing. It was very weak. Another funny thing I remember was me saying to Bundle “This glove is horrid!!! I got to get it off me!!” And striped it off as fast as I could! Anyway, back the the kid.
“YES IT’S ALIVE!!!!”
“Can it breathe??”
“No, not very well…….”
“Bunchkin, do mouth to mouth and suck IN!!!!!!” (yes I know that doesn’t sound pleasant but when you’re trying to save a baby goat your own comforts don’t matter!) I did do mouth to mouth but on accident, I pushed air in instead of sucking air out, and that really made her cough and sputter. Then I grabbed the snot sucker and began sucking out mucus. And then, it cried! Oh that little cry is probably the best sound I will ever hear!!!!!
“IT CRIED MOMMA IT CRIED!!!!!!!!!!” Me and bundle shouted at the same time “and………….IT’S A GIRL!!”
I heard Momma say something like “thank you Jesus.” I wanted to laugh, cry, jump, breathe (because it felt like I’d been holding my breath the whole time!) and sit still all at the same time. It took me about 40 minutes to deliver that kid and I really felt like God had handed her to us straight from heaven!! Poor Sudoku was all done!! She wouldn’t even acknowledge her kid! I didn’t expect her to start having contractions until we gave her some meds to start them up again, but it wasn’t long before there was another bubble and she was pushing. She had three good contractions and nothing happened. So I gloved up again and went to see what was going on. And can you guess what I felt?? Three feet!! (that means that most likely two baby’s were trying to come out at the same time.) By this time, we were at the vet’s office, and just as I told Momma what I was feeling, the vet pulled in and Momma told him what had happened. He was on an emergency call and in a big big hurry! So he ran over with some lube and a glove and put his hand into Sooky and he must have pushed one kid back and pulled the other one out (a boy) and gave it to me. I hadn’t even gotten him to breathe before the vet pulled out the other one (a girl.) The vet pulled those kids out so fast I was amazed! I had never heard of doing that so fast before.
He left us with three healthy babies and one happy me! I was so happy I couldn’t thank God enough. We decided to name the girls IOcherryO (Hi-ho Cherry-O) and Monopoly (to go with the theme of Sudoku. We call her Polly.) We are going to sell the buck (if your interested) and are keeping both the girls. I know Cherry will always be my favorite because she had such a special birth. I think I am going to train her to do tricks. We are more than happy!! (Can’t you tell?!)
For many weeks now, my husband has been getting paid double time for working days he’s not ordinarily scheduled to work. Because of this, combined with my job at Amazon, we’ve completely paid off one of our credit cards and are quickly chipping away at the other. For the first time in our entire marriage – 15 years – we’ve actually been able to buy things when we need them and words really can’t describe what that has felt like. But yesterday, Jon came home from work early because they didn’t need him and he was informed that they’ll no longer be paying double time for extra shifts. Despite myself, dread was the first emotion I felt when I found out. The funny thing is that between my job and a few other recent financial changes, we’re still going to be able to pay off that credit card by the end of the year, and we’ll still have some wiggle room to purchase needed household/farm things. But I tend to be one of those people who, if I don’t guard against it, is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. If I purchase something new, I immediately start to wonder when it will stop working or get broken or need to be replaced. This goes directly against my faith (and experience!) that God will always – always! – take care of our needs, but it’s something that lurks deep down inside of me, all the same.
So yesterday, I walked around all day with this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, originating from subconscious thoughts that, if I’d stopped to identify them, went something like this: “This is it! The financial blessings are over! We’re never going to have enough money eeeevvveeerrrr aaaaagain!!!!”
(I tend to be a wee bit dramatic, even subconsciously.)
Today, Jon found out that we have some money we didn’t have any idea about coming our way. I don’t know how much it is and it doesn’t matter in the slightest. Because in that moment, God reminded me once again of His love and provision and forever faithfulness. I don’t deserve it. I don’t even deserve to be reminded of it, as faithless as I am deep down. But He does, and He did, and I’m thankful.