Thursday, March 31, 2022

Moving a car to TN from Portland: Day 1

It’s quite exciting! John and Abigail and Sidge are taking a cross-country trip together. John’s sister, Katie, and her husband, Eddie, and their new baby boy (Rusty) are moving to TN in just a few weeks. They have purchased a property that borders our farm at the top of the ridge, and we are so excited to have them join our community here. 

However, Eddie and Katie needed someone to drive one of their vehicles out here. After a lot of discussion, we decided that John would take the two birders. I would stay here with the two non-birders. (The car wasn’t big enough for all of us to go, and to be honest, staying home with my other two sounded very appealing.)

I am in awe of what an amazing day I’ve had here with just two kids — in particular Isaac and Hannah, who, for whatever reason, never fight with each other. 

I’ll be posting more pictures. Later, when they get back, I’ll have them help me label the photos. But these bird pictures were all taken by someone 13 or under!

Golden-Crowned Sparrow (Sidge)

Wood Duck (Abigail)

Stellar's Jay (Sidge)

Anna's Hummingbird (Abigail)

Chestnut-Backed Chickadee (Sidge)

California Scrub-Jay (Abigail)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

First farm tree (now and then)

This picture was taken on the same day of March in 2022! Time slow down!

This picture was taken in March of 2014!

Monday, March 28, 2022

A sewing machine

I've mentioned on this Blog more times than I could ever count, how different Hannah has always been. She, since a toddler, never acted like a toddler. And as such, this doesn't surprise me. She's into sewing. Eight-years-old and she is spending hours sewing. I think it is a combination of some of her qualities: attentive, good-with-her-hands, focused, determined, creative etc. 

I am so thankful for Anni being in our community and buying a sewing machine for Hannah! How fun! I am not into this stuff at all, but John is a life-long learner. He decided to get a tutorial from Anni so he could help Hannah when she gets stuck!

Here are some pictures from Hannah's second day with her machine:

It's the little things


We cannot serve everywhere. We cannot serve everyone. We cannot serve anytime. 

But we can make a few small choices to serve when we can. 

Saturday, my four kiddos went to help clean up the studio at Central Ballet Theatre. We have decided, that Sparks Karate and Central Ballet (they run in the same building with the same family heading them up) will be our ministry. We will also put effort into Heritage Home Scholars, the hospital, and our church: First Christian Church of Greeneville.

I always wanted to be taking my kids around the world to serve. But honestly, with COVID and finances and so many things in our lives, that isn't always possible. I truly thought we'd be a family living overseas doing medical missions. But that wasn't what the Lord lead us to do.

He's lead us to this farm. He's lead us to puppies. And somehow, through no vision of my own, a three-year-old who repeatedly asked to participate in ballet and a google search that lead me to Lori Ann. 

The rest is history. 

I've been trying to teach my kids that sometimes we do something when there is nothing in it for us. This can be hard in our fast-paced life. I was proud of my kiddos because this particular day, there were no bad attitudes and there was also no bribery. There was simply a request. A need. And us stepping up to answer.

I encourage you all: don't try to do everything. Your kids need to be home, doing nothing sometimes. 

But pick your ministry. 

And pour in.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Sewing Machine (& Hannah)

I have always struggled to put this little munchkin into words. From the womb she was different (making me sicker than a dog!) And as a tiny child she didn't want any part of "normal" kid toys and activities. She wanted to change her clothes, button buttons, slice tomatoes ... who had time for toys?

That has continued. She could tie her shoes and zip up zippers nearly before her brothers (four years older) could do it. Her hands are SO good. (I know she gets this from her Daddy who has always been incredibly gifted as a physician and an artist.) 

She has really taken to sewing and this week, our dear friend Anni, scored a sewing machine on Facebook Marketplace, and her sewing adventures have been continuing.

I don't know anything about sewing but Anni tells me she is quite advanced for her age. It doesn't surprise me. 

She has always moved to her own drum. She brings us SUCH joy. She is so unique. And I can't imagine if this little embryo didn't exist!

Ms. May Meets Her Forever Gentleman


Raising puppies is a lot of work. We only planned to ever do ONE litter of puppies. We just wanted to pay for our Arabelle and Ritter. (The farm is always trying to break even.) But when I asked "old-time farmers" the things they remembered most from their childhood, "the puppies" always fell out of their mouths within their first few thoughts.

And then there are the people we get to make happy. We consider it an honor and a gift to bring joy to other families. This gentleman recently had to place a wife he loves into a home so she could get more help. And this little girl, named May by us (and he'll keep the name!) will get to provide comfort and joy to his years without her. He lost a previous Aussie a year ago so this will be his new BFF. All the way in Florida!

What a privilege. What a gift. I know technology has its downsides but MAN how wonderful to get to connect with people many states away. His daughter went to high school with John and I. SO many moons ago! To think that through that connection, this connection gets to be made. To get to bring joy and see the joy on the faces of people through the Internet and photography. To have a Facebook page where we can all stay in touch. 

Those are the good things about living in 2022!

There are good things about life. 

Life can be hard. My migraines have been plaguing me relentlessly. Teenagers talk back. Russia is attacking Ukraine. 

But there are also puppies.

There will always be puppies. :)

If this table could talk


If this table could talk ... what would it say?

It would tell you of sheep trying to be rescued from death.

And more stitches than we can even count. 

This table goes way back ... farther than that. 

It was the table in John's house growing up. In fact, his father made it for a lawyer-customer who changed his mind. He paid for the table, but left Dad keep it. And it became the Kitsteiner family table.

We've inherited it.

I'll be honest. 

It isn't exactly my style.

But I struggle in thinking of replacing it.

So many memories.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Friday Funnies

Real conversation this evening with my 8 and 10-year-old daughters as my wife (Wendi Huisman Kitsteiner) was packaging eggs from our laying chickens…

First daughter: “Dad, chickens don’t lay eggs from their butts, right?”
Me: “No. Birds don’t have butts. They only have one hole. It’s called a cloaca.”
First daughter: “They pee and poop out of their cloaca?”
Me: “Yes. Birds and reptiles and amphibians all have cloacas.”
Son (who I didn’t know was listening): “Fish do, too.”
Me: “Nice. Yes, some fish have cloacas also.”
Second daughter: “Wait… do they mate out of that hole also?”
Me: “Yes.”
First daughter: “Wow! That’s quite a hole. It does everything!”
Me: “… uh… well… yes.”
I didn’t really have a response to that statement.

Ritter & Hannah


As my kids get older, they are being more picky about what they allow me to share with the world. But Hannah still doesn't care. Here's her and Ritter snuggling in her bed on my floor. (When Daddy works nights, we girls all sleep together.)

Ritter is the sweetest/chillest/big lug o' dog you ever did meet. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Losing baby

This was written by my friend Cara. After three routine pregnancies/births, she lost baby #4 unexpectedly in her second trimester. 

March 23, 2022. 

It’s here. 

Today is the day. The day we were going to meet you. The day I was going to hold you in my arms. 

The day when Mommy would tell you that you were a surprise to us, but how quickly you became such a part of our family that we couldn’t imagine our family without you. I would tell you how I had already been planning how to rearrange bedrooms. How I told someone they couldn’t ride with us because I had already mentally put you in that seat in the van. How I had started saving clothes until I could find out if you were a boy or a girl. How I had told your big sister that you were coming, and how she jumped up and down with joy. 

But you’re not here, and you’re not coming. 

I want you to know that we miss you every day. It catches me off guard, sometimes, how I’ll be holding one child and sitting next to two others, and yet I turn around looking for you. How I sometimes tell your brother to be quiet before a lump catches in my throat, and I can’t finish what I just realized isn’t true: that you’re asleep in the other room. And how sometimes, at the greatest depths of my grief, I am jealous that you got to meet Jesus face-to-face before I did. How I feel a void without you here, but that I know I grieve only for us. You got to skip all the bruised knees, bloody noses, and a worldwide pandemic. You didn’t face rejection or feel heartache or loss. You fast-fowarded to the good part. You’ve only ever known love.

But I also want you to know, baby, that you've made Mommy a better person. You’ve made me hug my three tighter, be more patient, be more grateful. Because of you, I now understand to a small degree how hard it was for God to send Jesus for us.  Because of you, I understand the Gospel more fully now than I ever did. 

So thank you, little one, for existing. Thabj you for giving us 15 weeks with you. Thank you for reminding me not to let this short life pass me by. 

Today, I weep because you’re not coming. Today, I worship, because Jesus did come.  He is here with me, and He is there with you, holding us both.

Parental visit :)

My parents just spent two weeks up in Tennessee. It is SO wonderful. They have their own house in Greeneville. We get to visit them, but they also get their own place. They aren't really rural folks, and goodness knows my life is rural. My Dad still works for my brother at Calvary Chapel doing athlete-bussing and announcing games etc. My mom still works for Roy at Doormark. (Roy is Isaac's birth gramps and long-time friends/family.) Not sure when they will be officially done, but when they are, they can spend more and more time up here during the year. 

It's especially nice because of the timing of so many things. My parents never thought they'd own anything. They finally had a mobile home. But then, they bought a townhouse in Florida just when the market was about to boom. Because of that boom, they were able to afford the second house up here which is now worth two-times as much as they bought it for just two years ago!

My parents also did me the great favor of driving one of the puppies back to its new owner in South Florida. (More pictures of that to come!)


Tuesday, March 22, 2022



John's Mom shared a picture with me. I'd imagine it is from sometime around  the mid 80's? It's a Valentine's Day picture of her first four children. From left: Ray, little Katie in the front, and big sister Elizabeth on the right. That is John with his head down in the back in the red sweater. 

Here is a close-up of John:

I seriously cannot believe how much Sidge looks like him. 

Another go at Turkeys at the Bauernhof


Bauernhof Turkeys are back!
We are very excited to be offering our Bauernhof Turkeys again this year!
$6 per pound
Turkeys range from 15-25 pounds in weight.
If you are interested, please read the following carefully. This is a big undertaking for a small family farm, so we have two requirements for our customers:
First: $50 downpayment per bird.
This will reserve your bird for you and let us know how many turkeys we need to raise. We would like to receive the orders by April 1st.
Second: Pick-up on the day of processing (August 20th).
We do not have the freezer space to store your bird for you. They are just too big! If you are going to order a turkey from us, you need to be able to pick up the bird from our farm on the afternoon that we process the turkeys. We will likely make one run into Greeneville, TN on that day, and so you could meet us at the predetermined pick-up site.
We understand that this is early for a Thanksgiving meal, but birds grow best in warm weather.
PLEASE EMAIL WENDI AT to reserve your turkey and receive downpayment information. We will send you a confirmation email once we receive your downpayment.
We raise Broad-Breasted White Turkeys. These are similar in appearance and size to what you would find in the grocery store, but these birds are raised totally different.
Organic-fed… Our turkeys eat organic feed from New Country Organics, composed of soy-free, organic grains, mineral-rich kelp, and probiotics. They also eat as much fresh grass, plants, insects, and worms as they desire.
Pasture-raised… Once out of the brooder, our turkeys stay on pasture. Our pastures are a mix of warm and cool season grasses and wildflowers. Our pastures receive NO herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, or other synthetic chemicals.
Semi Free Range… Our turkeys are not kept in barns, cages, or permanent paddocks. They are moved frequently across our farm pastures using portable net fencing to keep them safe from predators like coyotes and bobcats.
PLEASE EMAIL WENDI AT flakymn@hotmail to reserve your turkey and receive downpayment information. We will send you a confirmation email once we receive your downpayment.

Selling our eggs

 (Recopied from Facebook)

Ultimate Farm-Fresh Eggs
Available for pick up in Greene County, East Tennessee.
I challenge you to find a healthier egg!
We wanted to raise our own food in as ideal a way as possible for ourselves to eat. We now sell what we cannot use to help offset our costs.
Our goal with our chickens was to help our hens produce the absolute healthiest eggs possible. Period.
This takes commitment to allow our chickens to live as naturally as possible while providing ideal nutrition and safety.
Chickens are inquisitive animals with a complex social hierarchy. Chickens need to chase bugs and scratch the earth. Chickens need to be outside… to live like they were designed to live.
Our chickens eat organic chicken feed from New Country Organics, composed of soy-free, organic grains, mineral-rich kelp, and probiotics. But they also eat as much fresh grass, insects, and worms as they desire.
Chickens are omnivores. They eat seeds, fresh plants, and any bug or crawling thing that may cross their path. When chickens eat a wide variety of food, their eggs are significantly more nutrient dense than what you could ever find in a grocery store.
Our chickens are completely free range. No fences. No cages. They roost in a coop that we lock each night to keep them safe from nocturnal predators. The mobile coop is moved every few days around our farm. Our hens are let out every morning to roam wherever they want through the day.
On our farm, our pastures receive no herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, or other synthetic chemicals. Our livestock receive no antibiotics, hormones, dewormers, or vaccines.
Fresh air. Sunshine. Fresh pasture. Ideal feed.
Our chickens get to live each day like a chicken is supposed to live, and they produce the ultimate farm-fresh eggs.

Myths about chicken eggs #1: Vegetarian-fed chickens produce healthier eggs.

Vegetarian-fed chickens are NOT natural.
Chickens are omnivores. They eat seeds, fresh plants, and any bug or crawling thing that may cross their path.
This is an example of humans pushing a human ideology onto the animal world.
Chickens are not meant to be vegetarians any more than lions are.
Additionally, the “vegetarian-fed” label doesn’t tell you anything about the conditions where those chickens live… they may likely still live their whole lives in cages and never see the sun or sky.
In fact, if they are sold as vegetarian-fed, you can guarantee they have never set foot outside. That’s a terrible quality of life for a chicken.
When chickens eat a wide variety of natural foods, like they were designed to eat, combined with fresh air and sunshine, their eggs are significantly more nutrient dense (and healthier!) than what you could ever find in a grocery store.
Our free-range chickens eat organic chicken feed from New Country Organics, composed of soy-free, organic grains, mineral-rich kelp, and probiotics. But they also eat as much fresh grass, insects, and worms as they desire on our beyond-organic farm here in Greene County, East Tennessee.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Ms. May goes to Florida

I was a bit worried about my parents driving this doggie all the way back to Florida. They like dogs but aren't really "dog people." But they had a friend with them, Ms. Debbie, who really does "do" dogs so I was hopeful it would go well. Apparently it went fantastically. Here are some pictures of her on the road to her new home. I can't wait to share pictures of her meeting her forever family.