Monday, May 31, 2021

Chapter Two: The Perfect Farm Dog

My very first dog was a Dalmatian named Scrubs. My husband got him for me right after the doctor told us we probably would never have children. He purposefully picked out the most high-energy, high-maintenance, biggest piece-of-work dog he could. 
(We would go on to have four children in five years after his arrival. But of course, that's another story entirely and will have to be a different chapter in this book.)

Scrubs moved with us from Eglin AFB in the panhandle of Florida to Turkey to the Azores to Middle TN before finally helping us settle on this farm in Bulls Gap, TN that we have called home since 2015. 
In 2016, at nine years old, he decided his work was done, and we burried him at the hairpin -- a tight turn on the back road -- halfway between our house and my in-laws' house. Right smack between the people he most loved.

We knew we had to get another dog. We knew that our six-year-old Sidge, especially, needed another dog, and that the grief would be too intense for him without a new animal to pour into.

We decided that with a farm overrunning with chickens and geese and ducks and sheep, we needed to make sure we had good dogs. They had to be trainable. We couldn't risk having to get rid of a dog because he refused to not dine on peasant. Or lamb chops. I mean what would we do if he had a lamb chop addiction?
We researched extensively, and we decided to get an Australian Shepherd. But because they were expensive dogs, especially when purchased from the high-level breeder we were looking at, we decided to get two of them. (That makes sense, doesn't it?) But the two was so that we could breed them and make back some of the money we spent.
And that's the story of how Bauernhof Kitsteiner came to be a farm that raised Aussies. And that is how we ended up having Ritter and Arabelle.

Ritter is the big Daddy. He's over 60 pounds. A red-merle. And a huge pile of loving fluff. He has very few needs other than belly scratches. And he's yet to meet a person he does not like. While Sidge likes to claim Ritter as his own, he really does belong to all of us.

But Arabelle? Her black-tri-self is my dog. I didn't set out to make her that way. She just chose me. She was born a farm dog. Today, after dropping my daughters off at church camp, I went for a walk/run on the track that circles the hospital my husband works for. Arabelle ran next to me off-leash. She stays in a heel when I tell her, and runs free when I let her. Half a dozen people stopped me to comment on her impeccable behavior as I let her run off-leash next to a busy road and tons of people.

But that's Arabelle. She lives to serve me and to be out with me on our farm. John captured the video of her jumping over one of our electric lines today. She does this often. If I give her the command, she jumps. If I tell her to stay, she will. Her hardest responsibility is when I ask her to leave me. She hates that.

I'd like to pretend that I am a professional trainer, and I simply conquered this dog with my impeccable training techniques, but that would be a mighty large lie. She honestly, nearly completely, trained herself. She often looks at me as if to say: "C'mon human. If you could get your act together, I'd be able to do a whole lot more."

I never dreamed any dog could replace my Scrubby. But Arabelle has nestled herself deep within my heart. I'd like to say I'm a two-dog woman, but as I look around these acres, I know that I will most likely always have a dog by my side. 

They are made for these hills.

One of my favorite quarantine pictures

And here’s another: 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Chapter One: Rumination

I've decided that if I don't write it now, I'll never write it.

My book that is. The book that my mind is continually writing and rewriting. I write it as I fall asleep. I write it as a I drive my brood hither and tither. I write as I read other people's writings -- loving a way they captured words and hoping I can do it as eloquently. 

As I move around our farm, my mind writes. It's how my brain has been wired since I was a little girl.

I write words in my head.

And if I am really focusing, I am t-y-p-i-n-g those words. 

It's an out-of-body experience of sorts. My fingers fly around the keyboard, hitting the letters as my brain says the things I want to say. I picture the fingers moving as I let the words flow silently through the recesses of my mind. 

I returned this afternoon from a weekend away -- some time with my childhood friend, Michelle, and her three children and husband. Her oldest was having a birthday, and my Sidge has become his good friend. So we drove the five hours to North Carolina to celebrate with him.

I returned this evening from a weekend away and was swept into the paddock nearly immediately to catch five sheep. 

Catching sheep is a game. It's a chess board. There are moves you can make. And moves you can't. A bad move can put you in checkmate nearly immediately. And if you are really on your game, you might be able to win in just a few choice steps. 

But the chances of success with the "easy choice" is usually poor. Tonight, I knew it. John had an idea using Jacob and Anni and myself out in the open field with only one hard fence to use for "trapping" the sheep. There were some cattle panels available, and he thought we could use those and win the battle.

It's always a delicate dance out in the paddocks ... not wanting to shoot someone else's idea down to quickly. Pretty sure an idea will be successful or trying not to be pessimistic that it's doomed from the beginning. Tonight, I told my husband I thought we'd be better off skipping to plan F. We've done this so many times, I knew what A thru E would be, and I didn't think they would work. 

While we didn't skip immediately to F, we did move there quicker than normal. We spent just a few minutes taking a step at A and B and C before deciding to forego D and E and jump to F. This means taking twenty extra minutes to set up some netting. It's winning the chess game by making thirty extra moves, and your body instinctively wants to find an "easier way" to do it. You want to find the faster way or the easier way. 

But the slower more deliberate choice is often more successful.

That sentence holds so many layers of lessons, I know it would take me more hours than the few minutes I have before bed to unravel them. I am sure while I am in bed minutes from now, my fingers will start flying around my imaginary keyboard, typing thoughts I probably won't be able to recall come morning. 

Returning from my friend's house, I start to second-guess our life, taking my husband on an emotional roller-coaster. This farm. These sheep. Michelle doesn't have these. And her life is simple.

"It's not simple," my JB reminds me. "That was a weekend. It was not reality. Reality is real. And real is not simple. It's messy. It's challenging. It isn't fixed by getting rid of sheep or living in suburbia or quitting the real life you have been chosen."

The slower more deliberate is often more successful. 

Like a sheep, I must go ruminate. 

Aunt Hannah

We have my little Hannah in our life. But we also have Hannah Kotynski. And she just celebrated a birthday. 

Aunt Hannah is married to my first cousin, Eddie. 

This is a picture of her with her sixth child, Theo. Her oldest son, Gabe, is 15. She is truly a Proverbs 31 woman. Her family comes first. She loves her husband. She serves. She loves. She gives. 

Four years ago, I didn’t even know my cousin-in-law. The last time I had seen her was at her wedding, many moons ago. 

But when we bought the farm, they lived in Asheville, about two hours from us, and they came for a visit. 

A long story evolved and suddenly; they had purchased a house just seven minutes down the road. (That’s really close in the country!)

Before Aunt Hannah arrived, there was one small part missing in my new life as a farmer’s wife. I didn’t have “that family”. The one that I could drop my kids off with at a moment’s notice. But I got that with Aunt Hannah. We started homeschooling together, and three years later, we are going strong. 

We are such different women. I am loud and opinionated and fierce and fast. She is soft and patient and deliberate and patient. I am an extrovert. She definitely is not. But we love our family and our community and our Jesus and each other. We are helping each other raise our children — we are a solid and unified team. 

She has become one of my dearest friends. She is such a beautiful person who truly wouldn’t hurt someone if her life depended on it. She and Eddie met in the Philippines at boarding school — both children of missionaries — and their family is unique and diverse with Bolivian and Chinese and Australia wrapped up into their families. Skin and nationality means nothing to their hearts. 

I want to wish her a happy birthday ... she is an incredible gift to me, my children, and our entire community. 

I am so blessed the Lord purposes our lives to intersect so beautifully, and I hope to grow old as her friend. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Update on my Dad from my mom

George is improving every day.  He is still showing some pneumonia in the x-rays but is not using the oxygen anymore.

The doctor put him on an antibiotic to try to eradicate the pneumonia but it made him sick and set him back a bit.  He seems better today.  It is a process.  We are praying for that infection to leave completely and please pray that he gets good rest at night. 

My boss has been very generous.  I started back to work 1/2 days.  I hope to increase it a bit next week but taking it one day at a time.  All is well!  Thank you again for the meals, messages and prayer support.

Some photos

What a great getaway weekend we have had. Sidge and Edward got to ride go-carts for his birthday, we went to Mellow Mushroom for lunch, I got to go shopping at Trader Joe’s (always a treat for this farm girl!), and I went to Fleet Feet (an amazing shoe store that helped me pick out a pair of shoes based on MY feet!) 

My dear friend Michelle is such a gift to me. She’s really provided me an opportunity to get some rest and take a break from all the things requiring my attention back on the farm. 

Michelle has been my friend since we were 5 years old! What a gift to still have her in my life. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

A visit

I’m in North Carolina, with my childhood friend, Michelle, and her wonderful family. Her oldest son is very good friends with Sidge, and we wanted to give them an opportunity to spend some tome together. 

This is a picture of their youngest snd my youngest: Benjamin and Hannah who are both 7. Benjamin will turn 8 in a few days. 

Friday Funnies

Conversation with Mr. Billy our 70+ farming neighbor who speaks with such a strong country accent, I usually have to tilt my head and squint to get 50% of it. 

“Them there neighbor of mine done took her chicken to the vet. Her chicken! You don’t take a chicken to the vet! You chop the head off the chicken.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Please ...

I received this note from Abigail today ... John is on nights and she wanted to do something "special." Seriously. How does a Mama say no to that.

In other news: 
  • Hannah came down the stairs wearing suspenders attached to her underwear as if that was the most normal thing ever.
  • Another "anonymous child" told me they couldn't figure out why their comforter wasn't drying. (It's because they kept rerunning the washer.  Wrong machine.)
  • We are super excited that our friends, Shane & Linda, have purchased a home down the road from us. While they are still in the military, they plan to use this as a "home base" and an AirB&B property. Super fun! Shane has been here most of the week while Linda is in D.C. securing housing for the year of schooling she has to do there next year. 
  • Tomorrow is our last day of the 2020-2021 school year. Summer here we come!
  • I am heading out of town with three of the kids to celebrate Sidge's friend, Edward's 14th birthday. Because of COVID, Sidge has been pretty isolated from his friends so we are excited for this opportunity.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021


Our friends Shane and Linda gave John this bear! 

Update on my Dad from my Mom:

Update on George:
We saw a pulmonologist & our primary.
They reduced oxygen use to just when he exerts himself & he has been tolerating that well.
His lungs sound clear but x-rays still show some pneumonia so we need to watch that.
Breath of God flow thru his lungs!!!
He lost 20 lbs!!! 
We have some God stories to share sometime! God did some amazing things!!
Thank you for the texts, calls, cards, meals and mostly the prayers!
We are so grateful!!!
Onward & upward!

Thank you for all the prayers for my Dad.

This has been a VERY emotional time for me. To be quite frank, my Dad getting sick with COVID right after we sort of "released" ourselves here in TN, was like a fierce sucker punch. I feel prepared to lose my Dad. I know and pray that he goes before me, as it should be. But I just could NOT bear to lose him to this stupid virus that had rocked our world here in TN for so long. 

I am NOT trying to make this about me. It isn't about me. It's about my Dad, but the truth is, I struggle with anxiety and depression. I am medicated and practice a lot of good techniques to avoid going into that pit. But this event, started me down there. I am doing fine, but am truly SO thankful that COVID did not cause me to lose my Dad.

P.S. A complete sidenote. I really do "dislike" the word "essential" when it comes to people involved with this crisis. Aren't we all "essential"? However, I appreciate the sentiment and the effort to say that those on the frontline need some extra "strength" during this time.

Refill your tank

The whole world paused this morning. 

Do you know why? Because an 8 year old’s tank was empty. 

The boys had already started their school day at their desks and I was preparing to leave for work when I noticed my littlest standing in the bathroom wiping his face. 

I paused at the door and asked if he was okay. He looked up with tears silently dripping and shook his head. When I questioned if something happened, again he shook his head. 

So I sat on the side of the tub and pulled him in my lap. I told him sometimes our heart tanks feel empty and need to be refilled. 

He cried into my chest and I held tight. 
I asked if he could feel my love filling him up? 
A nod, and tears stopped... 

I waited a minute... 

‘Has it reached your toes yet?’ 
He shook his head no... 

‘Okay man. We will take as long as you need. Work doesn’t matter right now. School isn’t important either. This right here, is the most important thing today, okay? Filling you back to the top. Is that good?’

One more minute... 
‘Is your heart full of mamas love now?’
*looks in his eyes* I see it shining in there, you’re full to the top, and you’re smiling! 

Y’all. You may not be 8- you may be 28, 38, 48 or whatever- but ALL of us run on empty just like he did. His weekend was so busy and so full and his little soul was just dry!!! 

We all have to pause, and take a moment to refill with the good things. Scripture, prayer, sunshine, worship, song, laughter, friends, hugs. Refill your empty, or you’ll find those emotions (tears, anger, snappy words) overflowing with no reason why. 

Take a moment. Refill. It’s the most important part of your day! 
☀️ 🌻


I turned 44

44 amazing years!!!
Not enough words to describe you!
You are a true Proverbs 31 woman!
Wonderful wife
Amazing mother
Loving, honoring daughter!
That just scratches the surface.
We love you Wen!
We hope you are celebrated big today & that this year is amazing!
— Mom

Marriage Advice

Wednesday Wee-wind (on a Tuesday!)

A look back at May 25, 2016

My boys have a piano recital tomorrow. I happened to wait until today to ask their teacher what they were supposed to wear. No jeans, no sweat pants, and no shorts. I looked in their closet and they do not OWN another pair of pants. Is this a major mom fail? Is this because we have become farmers? They wear blue jeans or nice dress shorts for church. I really thought I had covered all my bases. Until the day before the recital.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Mix and Match People Craft

I wanted to share a fun craft that my Abigail (almost 10) did with "the littles" at school the other day.  Here is a link to the place we got the template from. These are super cool books that kids can make where they flip the pages to do mix-and-match people:

Good Words

I read this online. I do NOT know who the author is, but it really spoke to me and I wanted to share it here:

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough, and we'll be more content when they are.

After that, we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our partner gets his or her act together when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice holiday, when we retire.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges. 

It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

A quote comes from Alfred D. Souza. He said, 

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. 

So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time...and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until winter, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink.... there is no better time than right now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Work like you don't need money,

Love like you've never been hurt,

And dance like no one's watching.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Friday Funnies

I jokingly told Sidge I may have him repeat sixth grade and do all the same work over again. “Well,” he said. “That’s ok. I’d excel.” 

We were talking to Sidge about piano. It doesn’t come easily to him, but he said he wanted to keep taking lessons. “I like being able to play a song,” he said. “I mean, I won’t be Mozart. But that’s ok.”

Hannah was lingering over the brownies trying to get another. “Hannah,” I said. “You just don’t give up.” 

“True,” she replied. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

My Hannah

My youngest, Hannah Joy Pomegranate Kitsteiner, makes everyone her happier. She is perplexing and insightful and creative and confusing and wonderful. He is so unique, and she truly is a special kid. I really believe she is the type of person who will make the world a happier more upbeat and fun place. Here are a few fun memories of her ... all from today:

Hannah makes me laugh with the outfits she puts together sometimes. This is what she picked out to wear to the Kotynski's for school today.

When I gave her a hard time, she decided to go for a different pair of shoes.

We managed to find her some shorts AND pants overalls while in Florida ... she loves them. We had to drive over to Shane & Linda's house today so she and Arabelle rode together in the back of John's truck.

I simply love how much of a "country kid" Hannah is. I realized that this chick doesn't know anything but life on the farm ... she IS a farm kid.

She decided to see what she looked like with bangs on. Her hair looks quite blonde here, and, we decided bangs really do NOT suit her.

Monday, May 17, 2021


I have returned from Florida with my oldest and youngest kiddos. We got into Tai-Cities airport (Johnson City) around 5:30pm last night. 

My Dad is home and recovering. We do not know how long he will be recovering for. Lots of waiting and praying and recuperating.

My heart took a beating with my Dad getting sick, I'll be honest. COVID was so hard on us, and I felt we had finally "gotten through." So to face this again and to see my Dad exhibiting everything we had watched over and over and over again for a year with JB's patients, took the wind out of my sails.

Going to Joni's birthday party was absolutely fantastic. I honestly had no idea how much I needed/wanted to be there, and had I not been there, both Isaac and I would have missed out on some important things. These were Joni's most intimate friends, and they have followed her story since the beginning. So for them to get to see Isaac and see the story of redemption played out in a 13-year-old boy is quite a miracle. 

I spoke a bit. Isaac also did too (because Auntie Rita slipped him some money to try and bribe him.) All the amazing people that have played a role in raising Bri and standing alongside Roy & Joni were there. 

And it was wonderful!

I am not sleeping well and so my exhaustion is quite extensive, but most of that is because I have not shut my mind down properly so I am working on that. 

I believe you can view an album of our adventures by clicking here.


Sunday, May 16, 2021

My Dad is Home

Last night we celebrated Joan’s 70th birthday with a lovely dinner of about 25 people at Cafe Maxx in Fort Lauderdale. I have more pictures to share of that event, but for now, I will be blessed in the fact that my father is home from the hospital after fighting COVID. He is still on oxygen and still feels quite lousy but I hope these will both be short-lived. 

I have not slept well in about a week. My mind has reeled. Covid took a lot out of our family and finding out my dad was sick nearly the same day we decided to completely release ourselves from quarantine felt like a sucker punch. I am really exhausted. I have never been a person who operates well without sleep. 
I have gone to bed a little too late every evening snd then woken up a little too early unable to get back to sleep. 

Due to covid, I couldn’t see my Dad or Mom or brother and his family. However, while initially disappointing, it allowed me to have some quality time with John’s brother, Matt, and his wife and two kiddos. I also got to spend more time with Joni and all her family then I initially thought would be the case. 

Now, I am on my way back home with my oldest and youngest, praying covid can really get behind me now. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

My Dadio and COVID


My Dad has COVID. And he's in the hospital in Coral Springs. This has been an emotional 48-hours for our family as you can imagine. 

I was already scheduled to fly out tomorrow (Thursday) with Isaac and Hannah. It's Grama Joni's 70th birthday on Saturday, and we are having a party. I wanted Isaac to attend the party as there will be some family there that has never met him. We opted to split the kids up. Leave the birders home with their Daddy who doesn't work on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. And the non-birders will fly with me to Florida.

Of course, now, I won't be able to see my Dad or Mom or my brother's family due to COVID exposure. While I'm not concerned about contracting COVID because I’ve already had it myself, we can't be sure that our kiddos had COVID, and therefore we need to be safe. We also want to keep Joni and her birthday party safe.

So, I've changed plans. I'll be staying with John's brother, Matt, his wife, Dani, and their two girls. This actually brings me joy, as I never get to see as much of Danielle as I would like to.

As for my Dad, he has pneumonia but is in very stable condition. I am writing this to remember this time in my life as this Blog is my journal. But I am also writing to ask you to please pray for my Dadio. He's very special to me and my brother and his eight grandchildren, and we have no desire to lose him. My mom will be retiring sometime in the next few years, they have bought a house here in Greeneville, and we are hoping to get to spend some great time with them in the future.

I find it ironic that the same week we finally "released" ourselves with the Kotynski's from intense quarantining from this virus, my father contracts it. My heart had finally sat down after a year of BATTLES than only the family of a frontline worker can experience ... and now, a new and much more intimate battle is waging. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

We Bought a Farm: A Work in Progress

  "The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer." Will Rogers 

I call us farmers. But that's a stretch. My husband has a well-paying full-time job off the property that pays all our bills. He supports (nearly) nine people on that salary. 

The farm is, at best, a hobby. We don't make any money off the farm. And we don't depend on it to live. Our goal, every month, is to simply break even

That's it. 

That's all we are trying to do. 

And in six years, we've never done that.

And yet, it is actually the fact that we don't completely depend on this farm for our income that I feel I am most able to share about our life here. This thing is soooo hard ... and we don't have the pressure of "paying the bills" hanging over us. 

If we had that, the pressure would be leaps and bounds ahead of where it is now.

And yet the pressure, the mess, the pace, the push ... it is constantly present. 

Every year, as summer begins to pop its head up, the pressure becomes greater. We move from one job (that isn't quite finished but finished enough to do what it needs to do) to another job. Messes are left where they are -- with promises to "clean that up" on a day when we don't have something else to do.

Except there is always something else to do.

There's a four-wheeler sitting in the middle of our pastures right now. Have you ever driven by an old farm and seen junky farm equipment sitting hither and thither? Have you ever thought, why don't they get that cleaned up?

I'll tell you why. It isn't because of laziness. It's because of time. It's because of priorities. On a farm, if you don't do the next thing, that thing might actually die. If you don't get things planted on time, they don't grow. If you don't feed an animal, it dies. If you don't deal with a pregnancy gone wrong, it's tragic. If you don't process an animal when it's "time," you lose a lot of money.

The list ...



In the midst of that, I'm homeschooling my children. And I'm not doing this in a haphazard way. I take great pride in that, and I do it well. My children have read nearly three dozen books this year. I don't say that to toot my own horn. I say that to say: we aren't going through the motions of education while actually farming. We are giving our children the best education we can.

Which takes 



My house is not pristine, but it's clean. Our meals are healthy. All these things require INPUT. Daily, hourly, sometimes minutely inputting what needs to be inputted to move on.

So if you drive up to our farm this week and see piles of scrap lumber, and a driveway full of half-finished projects, you would do best not to comment on why "so many things are halfway done."

It's a farm ...

... and it's always a work in progress.

The Tick: By Isaac Kitsteiner

The tick sits on a brick.

But wait, it has a trick.

When the human comes passing by, 

It does not matter if it is a girl or a guy.

Upon your skin it will creep.

That hideous, blood-sucking freak. 

In your skin it will embed.

You will probably end up dead.

Sunday, May 09, 2021


 "A farm is a manipulative creative. There is no such thing as finished. Work comes in a stream and has no end. There are only the things that must be done now and things that can be done later." Kristin Kimball 

The 48-hours preceding this picture are so numerous and so exhausting and so tear-inducing, that I will spare you the minutia. 

Instead I'll summarize by saying: 

Life can kick your butt.

Motherhood can kick your butt.

And it's when you feel your butt is thoroughly kicked, that your farm decides to wind up and kick you again.

We had a mother sheep randomly reject a baby at the worst possible moment -- literally as I was driving into town for a ballet/karate/graduation trio. 

We have a chicken brooder that must be finished by this week ... like, it has to be because there are 500-something chickens arriving that otherwise won't have a place to reside for the first two weeks of their life. 

I could give you the reasons the brooder isn't done, but it doesn't matter really, does it? I could tell you of the grand conspiracy that weather plays in your plans when you need it to most cooperate. 

 "A farm asks, and if you don't give enough, the primordial forces of death and wildness will overrun you. So naturally you give, and then you give some more, and then you give to the point of breaking, and then and only then it gives back, so bountifully it overfills not only your root cellar but also that parched and weedy little patch we call the soul." Kristin Kimball 

That's what I was doing when this picture was taken. I was giving ... again, even though I didn't want to. It was getting dark. The rain was falling ... hard. I was already soaked through from ... 

... oh wait. I didn't tell you that part.

6pm. I've just got dinner for eight on the counter ready to go, when I hear my husband calling for me. Well over 12,000 steps into my day, the men were feverishly trying to finish up the brooder, when my husband (who, shall I add, had just finished his 3rd night shift in a row and was operating on a pittance of sleep) asked me to grab a few kids and move the sheep into "The Arena". 

We had five sheep that are going to the processor tomorrow morning. We are on the schedule. We have to go. (Covid has backed processors up so much!) And so we need to catch them. "The Arena"is a much easier space to catch sheep as it has hard fences. (I never knew a "hard fence" could make me so happy. Seriously. Giddy.)

So I ask Isaac to watch Hannah, and I recruit Sidge and Abigail. We jump into the side-by-side and launch off down the dirt road, the sky appearing a bit ominous all of a sudden. Moving sheep across the farm is no small task. And it becomes even harder when it starts pouring rain and the temperature drops ten degrees in a matter of minutes.

That ... was icing in the cake. Moving and catching sheep in chilly rain when you aren't at all dressed for it and completely unprepared for it. 

So that's what I had just completed when JB snapped the picture of me on the steps outside our home. I had to go put the chickens to bed. It's about a quarter-of-a-mile walk. I could have taken the side-by-side, only we had accidentally blocked it in, and I didn't feel like moving a truck to get another vehicle free. 

I decided to walk. In the cold, wet, weather. I had just changed my clothes to dry off from our previous endeavor and just didn't want to get all wet and rainy again. So I put my boots on without socks (because they would have required me to walk into my bedroom and that felt too difficult), threw on my bath robe, and grabbed one of the girl's umbrellas. 

We can't skip closing the chickens. A predator could get into the egg-mobile and decimate our layers in one fell swoop if he/she saw fit. So walking I-a-went even though it was completely and utterly the last thing I felt like doing. 

 "The threat the farm has got on you, the one that keeps you running from can until can't, is this: do it now, or some living thing will wilt or suffer or die. It's blackmail, really." Kristin Kimball 

To sleep I go,


Saturday, May 08, 2021

Happy birthday Isaac

Yesterday, our oldest son, Isaac, turned 13. This was the latest picture I had taken of him so I include it below for his 13th birthday: 

Last year, I compiled a list about his life. I said that:

Isaac is: 

  1. Witty
  2. Serene
  3. Solemn
  4. Loyal
  5. Musical
  6. Introverted
  7. Introspective
  8. Intelligent
  9. Serious
  10. Deliberate
This year I want to add that I've also noticed him being very:
  1. Focused & Driven: He has become a big time HotWheels collector. This requires capital. He has started working on the farm with his cousin Gabe to make money to finance his hobby.
Last year, I said that:

Isaac's favorite things to do:
  1. Collect Hotwheels
  2. Build Legos Make Money
  3. Ride rollercoasters
  4. Play Chess Play Wingspan with his Mom if she adequately bribes him. 
  5. Listen to music 
  6. Play Dominion Go hunting for cars in any store possible.
  7. Read
  8. Spend time with his Dad
  9. Watch movies
Last year, I said that:

Isaac's favorite foods are:
  1. Pizza
  2. Ice Cream
  3. Steak
This year he would add:
  1. Popcorn
  2. Bagels
  3. Potato Chips

Last year I said that: 

Isaac's favorite movies are (in no particular order):
  1. Mission Impossible Men in Black
  2. Lord of the Rings Hunger Games
  3. Batman
  4. The Endgame Back to the Future
  5. Infinity War
  6. Ironman 3
  7. The Matrix

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Saying Good bye to COVID and hello to Katy!

Yesterday was a GORGEOUS day on the farm. The type of day that you dream about. Sixty degrees and sunny. Katy joined us for homeschool, and we had class outside to enjoy the amazing weather. 

This was also our last "official" day of COVID quarantine. As we sang Happy Birthday to Isaac, (he turns 13 tomorrow!), we also sang in celebration of an end to private ballet and karate classes and only outside activities. With our entire family having had COVID, and all the adults in our life now full vaccinated, our two families, who decided to confront COVID as a team .... will now be "mostly" returning to real life. 

It seems very surreal.

Dear Katy has been homeschooling with us this whole year from afar. We had planned on her being with us on the farm a lot, but COVID crushed those dreams. So instead, we zoomed a few days a week. It was good. But not the same. 

Now, we are going to be able to have her with us a lot more. She is an incredible ballerina who is homeschooling to give her time to focus on her art. She is an amazing role model for my young girls, and I can't wait to have her around more.

When we bought this farm, the Lord gave us two words: 


For many years, our farm served that purpose by hosting many visitors and wwoofers. I never even dreamed we might be able to provide that to another family with two-working parents who needed help homeschooling their incredibly talented daughter. But here we are.

Just tell the Lord: I'm willing and see what asks you to do! She's blessing us as much as we are blessing her for sure!

Here are a few other videos that I wanted to share from our wonderful day in the Sun!

We Bought a Farm: Soffit Maker

Today, I added another item to my list of things I never thought I would do. #Icantbelievethisismylife. Today, I helped install a soffit. Now, granted, I didn't even know what a soffit was until I had installed it, but still ... I did it. (If I am being truthful, I am still not sure exactly what makes something a soffit and what makes it just part of a roof. But I'm going to add it to my resume just the same.) 


Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Throwin' your hat over the fence

Dad and JB feverishly working to the finish the new chicken brooder before half a thousand of those little guys arrive. We had an older brooder that we retired, and this one will be sturdy and "stand the test of time." I told John: "We shouldn't have torn down the other one until we built this one." He said: "If we didn't tear it down, we'd never build this one. Sometimes, you gotta 'throw your hat over the fence' a bit."

It's crunch time here on the farm. Summer is always crunch time. We have over 500 meat chickens arriving in just a few days. We have a brooder that is not finished. We must get it done before those baby chickens arrive. Like ... must. Like, not getting it done is not an option. 

Which means: all hands on deck. 

My hands aren't very good at building a brooder. So, instead, my job is to get other things done to alleviate the pressure on Gramps, Jacob, and JB. Things I normally wouldn't do myself on the farm, I'm trying to get done so that they don't have to worry about it. If I can solve it myself right now, I do. I leave the petty things to my own brain.

We used to school through the summer. We tried. But in the end we found that the summer is when the farm needs us. We need to be available to the farm during that time.

So, now, we will tie up our school year on May 28th. The kids are counting the days. Maybe I am too. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. 

Yesterday I said to Jacob: "I wonder what I would do all day if I wasn't trying to educate my children."

I thought about it. I would read more. I would write more. I would farm more. I'd see my friends a little more. And maybe I'd watch a movie now and then. As it is, I watch zero TV or movies. If I have time, I'd rather read, or write, or sleep.

I keep wishing we didn't find ourselves in these farming predicaments. But weather slows us down. Mistakes slow you down. Other things pulling on your attention slow you down. And the truth is, a farm requires you to "up your game." You can use your own brooder forever. But it's falling apart. And it's wet. And the rats can get into it.

The fact is, a homestead, in its truest sense, is a BIG commitment. And it requires you to throw a lot of hats over the fence. You want sheep? You gotta just go and buy some. There is no going "half-in" on raising sheep. 

Kristin Kimball wrote about what farming requires in The Dirty Life when she said: 

“It’s never the way you think it’ll be .... not as perfect as you hope or as scary as you fear. A man we know bought up a big piece of good land nearby, a second home, and once, at a dinner, I heard him say, ‘In my retirement, I just want to be a simple farmer. I want ... tranquility.’ What you really want is a garden, I thought to myself. A very, very small one. In my experience, tranquil and simple are two things farming is not. Nor is it lucrative, stable, safe, or easy. Sometimes the work is enough to make you weep. But most days I wake up grateful that I found it — tripped over it, really — and that I’m married to someone who feels the same way.”