Sunday, October 04, 2015

We Bought a Farm: Bauernhof Kitsteiner daily videos (VLOG)

JB has started a daily video of life on the farm. I've been told this is called a VLOG. We will be doing one of these almost everyday so stay tuned!

May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
  • Episode 36 (An animal update: sheep, pigs, ducks, and geese)
  • Episode 37 (New mobile shelter for sheep and pigs)
  • Episode 38 (Feeding fermented grains to the pigs and sheep)
  • Episode 39 (Abigail feeding ducks)
  • Episode 40 (Laying chicks arrive!)
  • Episode 41 (166 new chicken sin our brooder: 101 broiler and 65 egg layers)
September 2015
October 2015
  • Episode 44 (Repairing degraded land using sheep, pigs, and chicken)

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Always remember ...

We Bought a Farm: My Current Truth

A year ago, I would not have been able to relate to the above sentiment whatsoever. Heck, three months ago I wouldn't have been able to relate to the above sentiment whatsoever.


That above sentiment is a very large part of my every day survival and existence.

Let me attempt to explain the importance of these rubber boots that I wear with a word picture.

Our chickens (approximately 150 of them at this point in time) run in Chicken Tractors.  (We have an additional 100 that are still in the brooder.) Each morning we move the chicken tractor. This gives the chickens fresh grass. Not only is this good for the chickens, but it is good for our farm as they are helping with the healing and fertilization of our pastures. These chickens rotate paddocks behind the sheep and pig's fencing. In this way, they are breaking up the fertilization left behind by previous animals. It's a fantastic system, and one I am totally beginning to understand.

It is also a much cleaner system then "normal" chickens experience. Normal chickens are in a chicken house for the entire eight weeks of their life. I cannot imagine the smell and muck that must be left behind when chickens are in the same area for eight weeks. 

I especially cannot imagine it because after days of rain, you should have seen the mess that our chickens were in after just 24 hours in one spot. 

We are developing a one-person-chicken-tractor-moving-system. But for now, it takes two people to move these big boxes. Lately, that has been Dan and me. Dan and I have a good system down. He takes the backside and drags the tractor. I have a dolly that I push forward while he pulls. 

This means that Dan has the clean side. He is moving the chickens onto new grass. I, however, have to push and walk over the remnants of the previous day.

This is the only way it can be done because Dan's side needs much more brute strength than I am capable of generating.

Normally this is not a problem. We rotate our chickens so often that their home is very clean. However, with the rains, there was, no joke, at least two inches of just icky, gooey, mud/poop that I had to walk on in order to keep the wheels under my side of the tractor.

It was so thick, I could not get my footing very well at all. I was very concerned I would fall and end up on my rump in two inches of chicken droppings. Dan was giving me a hard time and telling me, basically, to suck it up. 

At least until he had to join me on my side when my dolly slid off. He put that thing back in place, and scrunched up his nose.

"Well, Wendi, I think you are right. This is really, very, gross."

Of course it is!

I had many moments of thanking the Lord for the invention of rubber boots that kept my feet totally protected from everything circling around them.

A small item that just six months ago wasn't even in my vocabulary. I had never owned a pair.

Now I live in them. 

Like, seriously.

I also am so thankful that we are raising our own food and raising it in the right way. We already have people lined up to buy our chickens when we begin processing them in just a few weeks. These chickens are eating good, organic feed. They are getting fresh grass every morning. Just a mile down the road, there is a farm that is raising chickens the old fashioned way. I cannot even fathom the mess and smell that results from this. Yes, the chicken will be a little cheaper. But at what cost? 

Later in the day, I helped my husband move the ducks and geese into new paddocks. This involves a delicate mix of ballet and defensive basketball moves to get them to go in the direction you want them to go. 

"Can you believe I am doing this?" I asked my husband.

He just laughed.

"JB, you seriously should have seen me this morning. Two inches deep  in muck."

"I love it."

"Love what?'

"Love you doing this."

"So you don't find me unattractive in rubber boots?"

Another laugh and a shake of his head. "Not at all," he said. "Rubber boots suit you just fine."

And the thing is, even though I am constantly thinking, "Oh man, if my girlfriends could see me now," and even though there are many days I break down and think, "Is this really my life? Can I do this? How will I do this?" ...

I honestly cannot imagine not wearing rubber boots every day.

My friends keep saying things to me like, "I cannot believe you are doing this. There is no way I could do this."

And here I am doing this!

And trust me, I am the last person you'd imagine would do this.

My friend Shea emailed me the other day after reading my blog about losing one of our ewes.  She told me that she would never allow her kitchen to turn into a butcher's shop. She also reminded me of the four eighteen-year-olds that started at Western Kentucky University together in 1995. 

Shea was from rural Kentucky -- population next to nothing. Kristi had graduated in a class of 8 and lived on a 25,000 acre guest ranch in New Mexico. And the final freshman was Heather -- whose farmer was a dairy farmer in Alabama.

And then there was me. South Florida. Never been on a farm other than one owned by my mom's aunt in Illinois. Never lived anywhere but the city. 

I was as far from rural as you could get.

And today?

I live in rubber boots.

God's got a crazy sense of humor.

And it makes me cry and laugh and blow a spout of air up into the sky on a regular basis.

Go figure.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Prayer requested

I fell down four stairs today in our home while holding Hannah. My right foot is really sore. JB is not sure how badly I have hurt it, but we are both hopeful it is just a bruise. If you could please pray that it is nothing serious. I cannot imagine trying to live on a farm with four little kids and their bedrooms upstairs with an injured foot. Just pray it is a bruise!!!

Friday Funnies

Sidge: "Mom, I've discovered a new way to find cavities."
Me: "Okay, how?"
Sidge: "You go to the mirror with your lego Yoda flashlight, shine it, and check your teeth. And that's another way."

Two Bros Bows

I have had some people ask me about the bow and arrow set pictured in yesterday's post. Here is a link to the company who makes these: Two Bros Bows.  My boys love these, and in fact, we are looking at getting Abigail one too. These were a gift, and we are just enjoying them so much around the farm. A fantastic Christmas present!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

We Bought a Farm: What the World Says

With Hannah down for a nap, and the older three playing gleefully outside, I decided to sit down and blog for a moment.

(This was in-between filling up the ducks' water container and needing to switch the hose over to the geese's neighboring container.)

I realized that it was 3pm, and the world may have said I had gotten very little accomplished.

No major awards were won.
No contracts signed.
No events were attended.
Nothing big crossed off any list.

And so I sat here, in front of my keyboard, a place I have always felt so incredibly comfortable, and realized that my day as a mom, as a teacher, as a farmer's wife, is filled with tiny little things.

Very, very little things.

And unless I look at all of those tiny little things very closely, I can forget that anything was done at all.

So today, I decided to make a list. For myself. To make sure I can remember this years from now.

Today, as of 3pm, I:

  • Made breakfast for myself.
  • Made breakfast for four little kiddos.
  • Had a "business meeting" with our Intern, Dan.
  • Said good bye to my husband as he began an 11am-11pm shift.
  • Read two chapters in my current favorite series. 
  • Helped move the chicken tractors and chased down three wayward chicken souls.
  • Did the breakfast run for the ducks and geese, guineas, pigs, and sheep.
  • Went for a one mile run on the hilly farm.
  • Did two loads of laundry.
  • Read about a dozen books with Hannah. (Something that is on my "goal" list every day.)
  • Successfully completed piano lessons x 3 (Isaac, Sidge, and me) with Ms. Leslie.
  • Made lunch for myself.
  • Made lunch for four little kiddos.
  • Got Hannah down for a nap.
  • Broke up at least seven major arguments and forty-seven minor arguments.
  • Put on two bandaids.
  • Helped the boys get about two-thirds of their school work done.
  • Took an hour rest with Abigail.
And as it nears 4pm, there is still so much to do. Abigail has ballet, and with our Intern Dan tied up at the last minute (He told me this by prefacing it with, "I know how much you hate having things change at the last minute ...." :), I need to do the animal run this evening as well. I really canNOT put off baths even one more night, and dinner is thawing out on the counter.

We have purposefully chosen this life, a less busy life, as our busy-ness is here ... together ... doing what we love. But it is still a very full life and one in which, each day, I must take a great deep breath and try to only look at one small sliver of the pie at a time, lest I get overwhelmed before I even begin.

And I have to remind myself that while the world may say my life is a bit empty of accomplishments and awards ...

There is nothing else I would rather be doing.

The Glorious Table

I am very excited to be joining the writing team on a new blog: The Glorious Table.  You can see the complete list of authors who are contributing to this Blog by clicking here.  This blog was established by my friend Carla's sister, Harmony, and a few of her girlfriends, and I am so honored they asked me to contribute. I hope you'll take the time to view the Blog, and I will especially be linking to them when it is my turn to write!

You Are Not Alone: Flying Together with Broken Wings

Truly, this is the BEST piece on infertility and sharing the hurt I have EVER read. I will be sharing it with everyone I know. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

you are not alone 2
There she is.  Do you see her?  She sits quietly at the table in the back with her purse perfectly placed in her lap and her arms neatly resting on top.  She smiles on the outside, but on the inside?  On the inside her heart is breaking and her soul is crushing as she looks around at the other women in the room.  Their arms are not empty, but full.  Their laps are not filled with purses, but rather giggly toddlers.  And as they talk about the joys of motherhood, her womb begins to ache.   And tears begin to form.
She didn’t want to come.  But it was her best friend’s baby shower.  She didn’t want to play the games.  But everyone else was.  And she didn’t want to answer “the question.”  It’s the question that makes all women struggling to conceive upset and uncomfortable even if it’s for a second.  It’s the one that makes her ashamed as her heart races, palms become sweaty and her stomach hurt.  It’s the question in which she will have to answer, “No.  I don’t have any children.”  And so with each glance she makes around the room, with each child she sees curled up in a lap, with each question she reluctantly answers, and with each story she listens to about motherhood, she feels different.  She feels alone.
She is 1 in 8.
Or look over there.  Do you see the woman slowly walking by the baby aisles, casually touching the newborn onesies with her gentle fingers and delicate heart? Do you see her staring at the tiny shoes and itty bitty socks?  She is longing for the day in which a life is growing inside of her.  A life that has her eyes and his nose.  She is dreaming of the moment she can watch her husband’s face light up when he feels their miracle kick for the first time.  She fantasizes about the hour a newborn baby is placed on her chest and she frantically counts their tiny fingers and wiggly toes. And while she stands there, dreaming and fantasizing, she looks up and sees a mother with two precious little ones trying to find a spot in her cart to place the diapers.  And as she stands there watching and hoping for the day her dreams come true, she feels alone.  She feels alone despite standing in the middle of a crowded store.
She is 1 in 8. 
But wait.  Don’t leave yet.  Because I want you to see the sweet woman standing in checkout lane number three.  Watch as she grips her cart a little tighter.  Notice how she glances at the woman holding the hand of the adorable four-year-old but then quickly looks to the ground.  And did you see the tear that fell from her cheek?  Did you see her slowly turn her cart around and go to another line?  A much longer line.  I want you to know that she feels like the only one in the store without a child to call her own.  She feels like the only one who struggles with the thought of being unworthy to hold the title of mommy.  She feels like the only one who becomes jealous in these moments.   And she feels like she is the only one who even has these thoughts.  And so she feels guilty.  And she feels alone.
She is 1 in 8. 
There is also the woman behind the closed bathroom door.  She has been knocked to her knees from yet another negative pregnancy test.  She is hopeless.  She is scared.  And as she sobs with deep and painful moans, she shakes her fist to the heaven’s and screams, “Will this ever end?!”  She isn’t alone in this moment.  Because there he is…her husband. He is trying to pick her up, hold her close, and whisper hope into her ear.  He is trying to tell her it will be okay.  She will be okay.  Together they will be okay and it won’t always be this hard, this overwhelming or this stressful.  He tries to tell her there is always next month.  But his words?  They are like band aids.  They cover the wounds but do not actually heal.  And so while she isn’t alone on the bathroom floor, she feels alone.  And even though she doesn’t realize it because he is trying to be unbreakable and strong, just like a superhero, he also feels alone.
They are 1 in 8.
And finally there is you.  I see you wiping the tears from your eyes as you read each word because you know each emotion expressed.  You know firsthand the pain infertility brings. You know that it is a disease; yes a disease that makes you feel like a leper, an outcast from the rest of the world.  You know that it causes you to feel insecure with each question about why you don’t have children.  And often times embarrassed when you explain the reason.  You know that it makes you feel forgotten as you beg, plead, and cry out to God only to continue each month with broken dreams.  You know it makes you wonder if you are being overlooked as everyone around you seems to be blessed with children while your womb remains empty.  And you know it causes you to feel alone.  Alone in your thoughts.  Alone in your feelings.  And alone in this battle that you must fight to win every day.  A battle that is exhausting.  And a battle that at times, you fight alone.  Because you feel alone.
But the truth is, you aren’t alone.
Because the mother you saw putting the diapers in her shopping cart? They were conceived using a surrogate. And the woman sitting with you at the baby shower?  The one you overheard say wasn’t ready for children when she was also asked“the question”?  Well…she is.  In fact she has been ready to wipe noses, kiss boo-boo’s, and read bedtime stories since she was a little girl.  But she is also 1 in 8.  And me?  I am the woman you saw in checkout lane number three, holding hands with a precious four-year-old and talking her out of the ring pops, sour worms and Slim Jim’s.  She is my foster child.
And I am 1 in 8. 
And for years I felt like you.  I felt alone and so I flew alone.  But after a while of my heart aching for a child who would have my blue eyes and my husband’s pudgy nose, my wings that once enabled me to fly solo, became limp.  And my blemish free wings? They became bruised when well-meaning people asked me why I didn’t have children.  But because I was too afraid to tell them I was 1 in 8, those wings then became crushed when they would joke around that I needed to hurry because my clock was ticking.  My wings also became torn from feeling isolated and different from my friends and family who have children.  They became scarred from the failed treatment cycles my doctor assured me were the answer to my prayers.  And they became so broken after my devastating miscarriage following an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment cycle that I thought at one point, I might never fly again.
Yet even with my bruised, scarred and sometimes broken wings, I have still managed to keep flying. And despite the hurt, I have still been able to carry hope.  Carry joy.  And carry my dreams….
But how?  How can I with these wings?  It’s all because one day I finally decided to share my story.  I finally stopped hiding behind my shame.  And broken smile. I finally took off my mask so that others could see my heartache.  And I finally decided I no longer wanted to fly alone, but together.  Because people need people. They need others to help carry some of the weight so that they are free to soar high above their circumstances.  High above their hopelessness.  High above their fears and doubts.
In fact, Galatians 6:2 tells us that we are to carry each other’s burdens and stand shoulder to shoulder to ease the load that we might be carrying around so that we can be empowered to keep flying.  To keep hoping.  And to keep carrying our dreams. The dreams that God has purposefully planted inside that soft, fertile soil of our hearts.  Because friends, those dreams that He planted?  He wants to not only water them with the tears that we shed when we cry out to Him, but He wants to cultivate them through the faith, support and words of encouragement from others so that they can grow.  Because let’s be real for just a sec.  Is it not sometimes easier for us to hear the voices of others and believe the words they speak before we hear the voice of God and believe His Word? Or maybe it’s just me.
Because can I be honest?  I can read all day in God’s word to be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:6) and that He promises to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4), but the second someone whispers encouragement into my ear in the form of a card?  Or a hug?  Or a prayer?  I seem to grab a hold of it faster.  And I run with it longer.  And I am sure some of you are the same way.  And it’s okay.  God knows this about me…and you…which is why He begs and pleads for us to share our story…
He doesn’t want you to feel alone.  Instead, He wants to place people in your path to mend your broken wings so that you can fly a little bit higher.  And soar a little bit longer.  He wants you to tell your story so that He can give others the opportunity to provide you with the strength and the momentum you need to keep hoping that things can change.  To keep believing that they will.  And to keep flying until it’s time for you to land with your dreams no longer in your heart, but safely in your arms.
So sweet sister, the one who might be fighting alone and feeling alone, don’t be afraid to reach out.  Don’t be afraid to allow your casual chats to turn into conversations.  Conversations that help educate others about the stress and devastation of miscarriages, failed treatment cycles and doctor appointments.  Don’t be afraid to turn brief hellos with friends and family into moments of ministry as you ask for prayer, encouragement and support.  Don’t be afraid to share your heartache with others.
Because while this path of infertility has unexpected rain storms and high winds intended to knock you out of your nest and send you to your hands and knees scraped and bruised, beaten and scarred.  There are thousands of others on this same journey, or even a similar journey, ready and willing to pick you up if you fall.  They are ready to remind you that you are not forgotten when another prayer seems to go unanswered.  They are ready to hold your hand as they whisper the truth that there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about because it’s not your fault. And when you feel alone and like a leper, an outcast that no one, and I mean no one understands, they are there to wipe away your tears and remind you that you are not different or alone.  Because those feelings you have?  They have them too.  Those thoughts of jealousy?  No one is immune.  And those moments that knock you out of your nest?  Have knocked them out too.  You are not alone.  And you don’t have to travel this journey alone.
Together, we are 1 in 8.  Together, we are strong.  And together, we will fly high with our broken wings.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

We Bought a Farm: Ewe Down

I'm stuck in the house with the four kiddos while JB and Dad and Dan are out on the field. Apparently a sheep went down from some sort of bloat. JB came running into the house to grab all sorts of surgical stuff. Apparently he is going to try and relieve the bloat. Praying he can save the Ewe's life.

This farm stuff is not easy.

I've gotten used to losing chickens. They can die fairly easily. But our other animals are sort of part of our family and when they die before their time, it really gets me down deep.

Praying he can pull of a miracle for one of our 10 ewes.

*****Updated***** JB had to put the lamb down. Bummer. Looks like it may have been a mineral deficiency. As of right now, the kitchen has been converted to a meat processing center. :(

Published Piece

I had another article published on the website: Check it out: