Joy & Sorrow

Yesterday was filled with the joy of Sweet Girls birth 25 years ago and at the same time it was filled with sorrow.

Josie was acting a bit odd yesterday.  She refused her grain in the morning…very odd indeed.  She then started walking around with her tail up like she wanted to poo but couldn’t…also very odd.  Then it hit me…oh my she’s going to calve.  I ran out to examine her and she showed no signs of calving being anywhere near close.  Her ligaments had not separated and showed no signs of dilating.

I gave her a couple little apples off the tree and left her.  She went off to eat grass.  Becca and I were watching Blood Diamonds, a very sad and tragic movie depicting the rebel war raging in Sierra Leone, Africa, surrounding the mining of diamonds.  When we finished the movie I went to check on Josie.  She was very sweetly laying underneath of a tree chewing her cud.  It looked like any typical day around the farm.

As I approached her with her uneaten grain, to see if she was interested in it, I saw something fall out of her.  Then when I looked at her, what I saw was a cow that didn’t look pregnant AT ALL!  Her sides were flat.  We called that slab sided.  I slipped through the electric fence without getting zapped, and I approached the blob.  It was either an afterbirth or a water bag or a placenta.  I ran around in circles, crying and saying out loud….where is the calf?  I ran to the barn…and found no calf.  I ran all around the pasture which I’d just mowed so visibility was great, and still no calf.  I frantically called Honey at work crying and asking him to come home….unbeknownst to me he was already on his way.  (He’ll have quit a good message on Tuesday morning!)

I then called the Vet.  The vet had just pulled a calf and would be at our place in about 30-40 min’s.  We kept searching the area surrounding the field and the underbrush for a calf that might of wondered off…..but by the looks of Josie……there was no calf.  She showed absolutely no signs of birthing, other than the fact that she definitely didn’t look pregnant. She didn’t show any signs on her vulva that she just gave birth.

OK.  Then she didn’t give birth and was going to give birth on Becca’s birthday.  The calf must be in the birth canal thus the slab side and she needed to make progress.  But there was still NO udder development….none at all.  And no signs of her vulva swelling and dilating.

The Vet arrived and began to examine her.  She could not find any sign of pregnancy.  There was nothing inside of Josie.

NOTHING!

She examined the blob and didn’t think it looked like the placenta or afterbirth and sorta looked like the water bag.  She gave me some options.

One….get her someplace for a sonagram!  $$$$$

Two…induce her to see if she expels anything else.

Three….do nothing but watch and wait.

I chose two.  So she was induced just in case something was remaining in her.  If there was, there was a chance that it could kill her.

The Vet’s only guess…..and it is a guess because no one saw what happened and there is no calf or fetus or anything other than that blob.  Her only guess is that she aborted her fetus that for some reason hadn’t developed past a very early stage and that she ate whatever it was.

Numbness hit me….and confusion….I couldn’t wrap my mind around all of it.

She finally ate her grain last night.  She was up and eating grass this morning and seemed just fine.  She doesn’t have a fever.  She is walking around with her tail out, like she did yesterday….obvious signs of contractions from the injections.  I wish I could talk to her.  I wish she could tell me what happened.

But NOTHING.

NOTHING.

I’ve been hit with a ton of emotions.  Confusion.  Sadness.  Pain.  Confusion.  Sadness.  Pain.  Why did this happen?  Could I of done anything?  Is there something wrong with her?  Will she ever be able to carry a pregnancy?  Will she ever have an udder?  Why me?  What am I suppose to learn?  Do we get another cow that is lactating and bred?  Do we get rid of someone?  Who?  Josie or Joy?  Do we put them in the freezer?

I’m just kinda numb today.  Wishing things could of ended differently.  Ended with the birth of a healthy calf.  But as Job said, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

There are some things in this life that we will never understand and were never meant to.

I think it’s a day for good chocolate!

My Little Joy

DSCN4310

This little one has been such a delight to me! Her little face has turned black, but will probably change again before she matures. She’s really pretty tiny for her age, and because of that I will probably try to breed her to a Mini Jersey bull (AI of course). At 10 months she barely stands up to my waist and I’m only 5’3″. I began increasing her grain to help build up her body condition. I think it’s helped a lot. In fact, if nothing else, her head continues to grow….yikes this girl needs a new harness.

DSCN4315

Her udder development is very nice. I often stand and look at her (of course from the backside) and say to myself…”boy she looks nice!”

DSCN4319

Sorry it’s not focused.

DSCN4316

The last time I did posted pictures of my heifers udder, someone told me that things didn’t look quite right….and to this untrained eye….well, I sure hope my cow mentor doesn’t do that again….but I’m prepared.

Frankly I’m wondering if it’s normal for her one quarter to be larger at this stage. I’m sure my mentor will tell me.

DSCN4323

She’s still pretty small even after getting 10 lbs of sweet grain a day.

She is a sweetie pie! And I think after raising her and training her she will make a wonderful milk cow. I don’t know if I’ll ever part with her.

Compare these to the day she arrived here at Peaceful Acres 3 months ago.

DSCN3374

If nothing else, her halter got dirty!

A Cow Bath

There’s a first time for everything. I gave my first cow bath today! Since Josephine lived on the dairy farm and hob nobbed with the other heifers, she was pretty caked in cow poo. It took me at least an hour and I didn’t even get it off her legs yet. We’ll have to dedicate another day to bathing again. Of course I have no pictures of this event, because well, I was pretty wet too.

But in any case, I did have to share more pictures.

Josephine

Josephine

DSCN3387

They pretty much cleaned up all the grass in the corral….man these girls do amazing work trimming. You should see the job they did around the fence!

I’ve been working with them each day. I tie them for at least an hour and brush them and touch them. Joy has come a long way in 3 days. She will allow me to walk up to her very slowly and stroke her. She’s still pretty flighty though.

I take them for short walks with a lead rope. Josephine does really well. Yesterday she was a stinker but I used my horse stick thingie and smacked her across the nose….she knows who’s boss!

I’ve learned so much from so many in 7 short months. First I owe a debt of gratitude to my cow mentor….Tammy Cupp. We met Tammy in October at the Cupp farm in VA. Tammy raises miniature Jersey cows. Then she hooked me up on the KFC forum…nah, it’s not about fried chicken, although that’s how I remember it. Keeping a Family Cow forum. It’s there that I read and ask questions. I just keep reading…if I can’t find it in any of the thousands of books I have, then I email Tammy! She is a pro!!!

Then of course there’s the Strites that I got our girls from. As I said, the finest people I’ve ever met. Really great!

I’m still in the pinch me stage. It’s funny. Cows aren’t much more trouble than chickens!!! They actually are a bit better, they put themselves to bed!!! I water them, feed them and scoop the poop. Other than that for now there isn’t much more to do…I know when the calf is born and Josephine freshens then of course I’ll have milking and lots and lots of milk to deal with. But for now, it’s pretty simple.

We’re Pregnant!

We’re pregnant!!!!! Whahoo!!! I’ll be handing our cigars soon!

Our Jersey heifer was confirmed bred yesterday and she is due to calf in September!!! What joyous news!

The vet came out to our farmer’s farm and checked out my girl….I think I’m going to call her Clementine. (we’ll see) She had a slew of tests run and of course she’s gotten a clean bill of health. I’m so happy I can’t begin to tell you.

I don’t have any new pics of her. I haven’t been out to visit all winter long and life here on my own “farm” has been super hectic with a million things to do.

dscn2198

Here she is back in December.

And here’s little Joy at 3 months old. We’ll have to have her vaccinated and tested ourselves. She is now 7 months old and farmer Cathy tells me she’s “cute as a button”!

dscn2196

Progress

dscn3125

As I was mourning Boomer the other day, I had one of those aha moments. I remembered why I didn’t want another male dog….lots of dead bushes. Boomer managed to kill just about everything I tried to plant. That was the reason for not replacing quite a few Japanese Boxwoods and the reason for the little fence I had around my herb garden. A dog that lifts his leg is trouble. Although missing him can’t compare to the new bushes that will look pretty. Everything this first year will remind me of him and his loss will never be replaced even with new bushes.

It was nearly 90*F yesterday….way too hot for Maryland in April. I still managed to plant 4 Leyland Cypress, 8 Japanese Boxwoods and moved 1 Veronica and 1 Paprika Yarrow to my herb garden. I still have 2 Nandina’s to get in later this week.

Honey is hanging gates this weekend. I called our farmers and told them that we were ready for our Jersey girls! As soon as the vet comes out and gives them the ok, then they will be delivered. Wahoo! I guess we ought to get up the electric fence too. That would certainly help.

dscn3119

dscn3145

Honey’s weapon….a level!

The worst sound I heard when he was doing this….was….ah, man!

I had visions of him ripping the entire fence down! But to my joy, it’s still standing and he’s almost got the second gate up. If our cows pull down this fence they will go into the Guinness World Book of Records for being the strongest cows in the world!

I did a mowathon again on Friday. Our mower needs a new fuel pump so my really nice neighbor has been letting me use his…his blade isn’t as wide as our so it took me an extra hour….5 hrs! I hate cutting grass! We still have quite a bit of thistle in the field so I will have to keep it mowed and let the cows graze in the yard. After this summer the field should be under control.

dscn3118

Our apple tree is loaded with blossoms. We ought to have a bumper crop this year!

dscn3117

In the foreground, I planted my grapes. I used my neighbors old split rail fence as a trellis.

dscn3142

Lady and I are becoming pals. I gave her a haircut and a bath the other day and she is looking so cute.

dscn3141

dscn3140

My 2008 Christmas Letter

From our Home To Yours, Merry Christmas!

blog-1-010

I decided to write my annual Christmas letter here on my blog since just about everything we do has gone electronic. So why not my Christmas letter. Besides that, I have so many new friends from near and far right here on the web.

dscn21381

As we always start off saying, I can’t believe that Christmas is here again. Our family has seen big changes this year. Our children are taking some of those big kid first steps that will leave our lives here forever changed. But we embraced those changes, at first with tears and now with joy. “Hold on to everything with open hands!”

First we saw Becca accepted into the YWAM (youth with a mission) photography program in Germany. She was excited to spread her wings and fly off on her 24th birthday. After being in Germany for 4 months she is now preparing to go off to Africa where her team will use their photographic skills to document the extreme poverty in that part of the world. After returning to Germany in April they will publish their work in efforts to raise funds for those they ministered to. So, keep in touch with me here and I will of course let you know how you can contribute to this worthy cause if you feel led.

Becca and her friend Leah

Ben is at the community college where he’s just passing time. A dear friend of mine calls him a “rolling stone”. Ben has always and still does have a free spirit. He still has a passion for music and plays electric guitar for the worship team at his church. He still loves to serve the lowly and will be off to New Orleans again this winter break to help rebuild a strangers home that was destroyed by Katrina. His long term plans are always changing which is probably nothing new for a 20 yr old young man. And he is a man. He ventured off to hike the Appalachian Trail for 4 days alone this summer marking his 20th birthday. His health was iffy then but he conquered this giant. Only to do another hike with a friend covering 27 miles of mountainous terrain in 2 days! He is still battling Lyme Disease, but is improving with a stronger immune system. For the moment he’s “training” with thoughts of entering the Special Forces of the Marines OR joining the local Police Academy OR venturing to Alaska and living the wild life with the wildlife!!!! Gun in hand, living day to day! What a guy!!! That’s our Ben! He rolls in every once in a while to grab some food and clean clothes but is mostly on his own, working at the church and enjoying life!!!

Honey & I will celebrate our 27th anniversary this March!!! Wo how did that happen? God has done amazing things in our marriage and we are enjoying our time together in our empty nest! Not to say that this jump into an empty nest is easy after having my kids home with me forever! It’s getting easier to pass by their bedrooms and offer up a prayer for them without tears. The house does stay clean longer, but with Boomer and Lady it’s an endless battle with dog hair. Boomer has lovingly acquired the name Lazarus! Constantly keeping me caring for him. Lady is wackier than ever and now with our newest additions….5 chickens, she is on daily guard!

dscn1999

Honey is still working on stuff that I can’t talk about…so I won’t. He’s busy around our little place trying to get the ground ready for a barn/shed to be delivered. We spent endless hours clearing our back 40 this summer. Tons of multiflora rose to be wacked out. A gazillion poison oak trees to kill. Hours of mowing. Home repairs. You know the routine. Now he’s enjoying his hibernation months sleeping and resting for the upcoming spring and summer. He is the love of my life and one woman shouldn’t be allowed to love this much!!!

Me, well I’m enjoying and rejoicing in my new found gloriously miraculous healing. It’s been almost a yr since I’ve had huge breakthroughs using herbs and food to heal my body from Chronic Lyme and 3 co-infections. My doctor has proclaimed me his “healthiest patient’!!! How cool is that!!! See miracles still happen!!! I’m a living testimony and I hope to give others hope to heal! I’m enjoying this Christmas like no other. I have energy and motivation that surpasses many years past. I also turned 50 in October!!! Dance on!!!!!

Becca and I launched my website, Butterflies & Bumble Bees; my labor of love for Dalit women in India. I’ve been studying herbalism for the past year and am developing some of my own remedies which includes my favorite Chai Tea that I learned to love in India. As well as preparing my own tinctures and lotions and salves that seem to be a hit with my sisters friends.

AND now I’m becoming a cowgirl!! We bought 2 Jersey heifers so we can have our own supply of raw milk, raw cheese, raw cream, raw butter……..Raw dairy has played a huge roll in my healing! Of course since we have to have calves to have milk, I’ll sell my calves to help pay for hay or we’ll put meat in the freezer! And who knows I just might throw in a sheep or two!!! I do love lamb and you know I love fiber!!!

dscn21961

JOY is 2 months old. Isn’t she the cutest ever.

dscn21991

Gerdy and I were introduced in a torrent of rain! She’s almost 2 yrs old.

Wait till you see my new pink Wellies that Honey is giving me for Christmas! Oh I’m going to hate to mess them up!

I’m already enjoying my Christmas Ladies Artec Carhartt coat.

I told Honey that now all I need for Christmas is a BIG FORD 350 with a red bow! He laughed HARD!!!

dscn21631

Life here at Peaceful Acres is good. We worship a glorious God and His Son Jesus. We pray that you will find the peace that only He can give, because he is The Lord of Peace; Jehovah Shalom.

I’m A Winner!!!!

I just won a Surge Milker on Ebay! Everyone has been urging me to get one and not try to hand milk. I really think it’s best.  Anyway, it’s too late now!

The farmer over at Jehovah Jireh Farm showed me how to operate it the other day. I even found the vacuum pump for sale locally. So, I’m all set, except for the barn!!!! Hahaha! Minor details. My farmer is very kindly caring for my Jersey girls until we’re ALL ready. They are just some of the finest people I’ve ever met.