Saturday, April 21, 2018

We bought a Farm: The Sheep are Arriving

So the sheep have started arriving on our farm! 

On Thursday, our very favorite sheep, Snowball, was the first to deliver. And, she had twins! One was a boy (we don't name boys) and one was a girl. We named the girl Sydney. 

Our first season of sheep were all named herbs (except Snowball who has just always been Snowball to us.) All of their babies have the same letter in their name but were named virtues. And this year we have decided to go with famous cities. 

So, for example ...

Tamarind (herb) had a baby last year which we named Truth (virtue). The year Tamarind just had another baby and we are going to call it Trier (famous city in Germany.)

Okay back to Snowball. Unfortunately Snowball rejected the male twin. Our current wwoofer, Nico, captured the exclusion on video. 

No one is really sure why this happens. Some say "the sheep know best" and there might be something wrong with the baby. Either way, this means that the little sheep that is rejected needs to be pulled and bottle fed. The only other option is to leave it to die. (I just can't bring myself to do this!)

We decided long ago we didn't want to bottle feed baby sheep. At least not right now. It's just too much work for a busy farm. I had already arranged with our awesome friend, Anni, that if we had any bottle babies this year, she'd take ownership. 

Anni took "Kenny" home with her. (Anni chose to name the sheep. Since it belongs to her now, she can do that.)

Kenny leaving with Anni was a lot harder than we thought it would be, especially for Abigail. The kids had spent the evening bonding with the little guy, and they did not want him to leave the farm. Abigail cried really hard Bottle babies are notoriously friendly and truly do become like pets. You can see from the pictures below how much "Kenny" was fitting in:

But like I said, our life is already packed full, and bottle feeding a sheep was not on my priority list. So Anni took Kenny back to her house. She had a goat with twins who has a TON of milk that Anni will be using for goat milk soap. She actually managed to get Kenny to latch onto the goat mom. She had tons of milk from the goat that she could use in bottles for the little sheep which was great for all involved.

Anni actually was going to her vet for something else and managed to get little Kenny weighed. We've often wondered what our little lambs weigh. This tells you!

Today was Saturday, and Anni often comes to hang out with us on the farm on Saturdays. So she came today, and she brought Kenny with her. Oh were the kids excited. We housed him in a little kennel behind the garage, and the kids got to spend the whole day helping feed and hang out with Kenny. They had an absolute blast!

Giving him a kiss!

Hard to see but that's our Hannah!

We have decided through this experience that the kids are getting close to old enough to bottle feed a lamb. The first few days can be a little tricky, but once the little lamb has settled into a routine, it's pretty easy. In the future, we may allow the kids, if we don't have any vacations or trips planned, to take "ownership" of the lamb. 

However, there are some things that are challenging about this. In the case of a boy lamb, the whole point is to raise him for food. (So hard when it becomes a pet!) And in the case of a girl lamb, we have decided not to breed bottle babies which means we would process her for food as well. While there are different schools of thought, John's is that it can mean more bottle babies in the future genetically.

This is our third season of having sheep. We had one bad delivery last year, but otherwise, this is our very first bottle baby. We hope we don't have anymore, but man is it fun to snuggle with little lambs!!

P.S. Since Snowball delivered her twins we have had three more sheep born. I'll write more about them tomorrow.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Upstairs is (nearly) done!

Well we still aren't officially moved in upstairs. John prepared me for the possible delays right before you cross the finish line, but my heart still has trouble wanting so badly to utilize our upstairs. Either way, while it isn't cleaned and isn't officially ready, it is basically done. Check it out folks! It truly is a whole new house!

We Bought a Farm: The Big Puppy Reveal!!!

I took Arabelle to the vet today where they did an x-ray to see how many pups she is having. This is suggested so you can know if she is finished or having any problems. She is due sometime around April 27 (from the best we can guess) and after you watch this video, you will join us in knowing how many puppies we will be welcoming to our farm.

P.S. We will NOT be keeping ANY of the puppies. We are selling them and already have 3-5 spoken for. If you are interested in a puppy, please email me ( or Facebook message me ASAP! I can give you tons more information via a personal conversation. 

P.S.S. Our reason for having puppies was two-fold. The first was to recoup some of the money that buying two of these dogs for our farm cost. The second, however, was to experience this event with our children on our farm and to get to experience puppies for eight weeks. We are excited to place the dogs with families we know (we hope!) so we can continue to follow their lives in months/years to come.

We totally appreciate that there are shelter dogs who need good homes, and we will not be irresponsible breeders. We welcome different opinions on whether breeding is ethical, but we decided that good Aussies are worth it to the families that love them! If you disagree, you are welcome to that opinion.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A smasherama

I decided to get out of town with the kids for two days. JB is on nights, we have good help on the farm, and we are days away from our upstairs being done!! I went to John's brother Matt's house in Columbia, South Carolina. His wife Danielle is one of my dearest friends. 

And on the way to their house, I slammed my finger in the truck door!!

But we arrived in one piece and the kids immediately embraced getting to hold the 10th cousin on the Kitsteiner side: Camryn. 

And the girls immediately decided to break into Aunt Danielle's closet!

We Bought a Farm: Preparing for Pups

Arabelle is definitely pregnant. Based on when we saw Ritter and her mate, she is due on April 27th. (They are from different litters by the way.) 

We are scheduled to be away from the farm on a family vacation at that time, but we have good people here and know she is in good hands.

We came up with the following "whelping box" for Arabelle on the porch. JB even worked it out that we can peer in through our bedroom window!

Our plan was to have one litter of puppies and then get the dogs fixed. We thought it would be fun for the kids, and we could make back a little of the costs of buying the dogs. 

Arabelle is slowing down considerably and getting quite large. I'll take her to the vet on Friday for an X-ray so we know how many pups to expect. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday Truth

My life in my brain is on the left. 
 My life how it goes every day is on the right.
Any questions?

A Special One

When I was in my very early 20's and newly married, I worked for four years (1999-2003) at Franklin-Simpson High School in Franklin, Kentucky. In fact, after the first year, JB and I moved to the tiny town so I could be nearer to work. We lived in a duplex with our little lovebird and four snakes (seriously?!) and across the street from my cousin and his wife.

During that time I met many amazing kids. It was a very special place to me. Finding out that JB had gotten into Mayo Clinic for medical school in 2003 was the most exciting news of our young life. But it also meant I had to grieve saying good bye to this community that had been my home and my first "real job." I had a lot to learn about life in the south and in a Kentucky small town. Man were things different than I had grown up understanding them in an urban sprawl like Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But this community and their people embraced me and loved me and welcomed me. They left me with many wonderful memories. And I hope I did the same for them.

I was only a few years older than most of my students and athletes. I have many stories of wonderful families, but the Mayes family definitely nestled firmly in my heart. This is a picture of Ashley Mayes as I remember her in high school. She played basketball and volleyball for me.

The man on the right was in my senior English class. His name was Cody Baker. He was always present, always polite, always kind. You could tell he had been raised right. He was a gentleman and a true "Yes Ma'am" young man.

And it quickly became apparent that he really liked Ashley!

While I may not get all of the memories correct, here's what I remember: 

They were married not long after I left Kentucky, and Cody joined the Navy. I remember him talking often his plans to join the military. But about 12 years ago, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to medically leave the military.

He ans Ashley settled in Missouuri and had three children together, a son and then twins. 

Cody lived, mostly unimpeded by his tumor for well over a decade before a routine MRI showed that it was not lying dormant anymore. They began to fight the tumor.

And just over a month ago, they were given the news that the cancer was not responding, and Cody had just a short time left to live.

Cody went home to be with the Lord yesterday. They were on a beach vacation together as a family when he became gravely ill and was flown home. They waited for Ashley to arrive at the hospital and then let him go. Her sister Amber called to tell me yesterday.

Through it all, Ashley's faith was INSPIRING. She loves the Lord. She loves her husband. She loves her family. Her father, Terry, was a good friend of mine, and believe it or not, is fighting for his life in the hospital right now too.

I think the reason I find myself awake, in the middle of the night, is because Cody and Ashley were high school sweethearts. Just like John and me. And so my heart feels this loss in my core. I can't imagine my life without John. And I know Ashley feels the same way right now. There are tears streaming down my face as I write this because I feel this loss. It isn't fair. It feels so wrong. I want to fix it.

This is a strong, resilient, beautiful wife and mother who has not lead a life free of pain. And yet despite the challenges she faced throughout her life, she has continued to love and serve Jesus Christ. She thrived in her home with her father Terry and her sister, Amber, (who was also an incredibly special part of my coaching days.) Terry was a single father who loved his girls and raised them to love the Lord.

I do what I do when I am sad.

I write.

I had to get up, even though it is 3am to write since my fingers were typing in my brain as I rested beside my husband in my bed. I know God has a plan. I know He is a good God and He tells us that "All things work together for the good of those that love Him." I have no doubt that will be true in Ashley's life.

But my heart is grieved for her loss. For the loss her children now face. Will you pray for them? Ashley is 33 years old. Cody was 34. Their three children are Olin (12) and twins Isabella and Maverick who are just 8 years old.

I love you Ashley. I love you Amber and Terry. I am grieving and praying for your family during this incredible time of loss and love and rejoicing and sorrow. I continue to pray for Terry as he fights his own battle. A girl should not have to lose her husband and her dad and so I will pray fiercely that Terry comes home whole and as sports-crazy as ever.

Ashley I love you. You have told me that I was a positive influence in your life. You have been just the same in mine.