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Whelp…

birth day

birth day

Early this spring some dear friends just a couple miles down the road had to rehome their Great Pyrenees LGD’s, and so we added to our canine clan.  Bosco & Marley have made a wonderful addition, and have recently given us a litter of perfect little puppies a month ago.  They have remarkable instinct and are amazing with humans (Flynn could pull their tail or tackle them to his hearts content and they’d just gently nudge him sweetly), and even better with protecting their farm.  So much, that one from their last litter that went to a thousand-plus acre farm in Eastern Washington killed 22 coyotes in a single year protecting his flock of sheep.  Bosco has his share of stories with wild critters.  They’re more personable – and yet impressively protective – than any LGD we’ve had before.

cuteness!

cuteness!

We’ve never raised puppies, and so their other family (their original home) has been walking us through it step by step.  It’s surprising how different the whole process has been versus livestock.

Brandy birthed excellently, surprising us one morning with wee pups.  The babies took to her right away, needing no assistance.  Now, 4 weeks in, their eyes are open and they’re little playful balls of soft squishy!  More than half of them already have farm homes lined up.  I’m excited to watch them work with their new families and critters.

We have a hawk eyeing our chickens these days that I suspect won’t be around much longer…

3 weeks old and cute as buttons

3 weeks old and cute as buttons

More photo’s and information can be found here.

Our Budding Artist

Earlier this Spring Kendra painted this beautiful agriculture piece on a large canvas and won first place in the first contest she entered it into. The Washington State Farm Bureau then purchased it from her to frame and showcase in their state office in Lacey.

Last night at the Washington State Farm Bureau’s 96th Annual Conference, it was offered up during the live auction with the proceeds to support the Washington FFA.  Guess how much it sold for?  $800!  Her very first art piece that she’s shared publicly!  We are so proud of her.  Her natural artistic inclination will do her well for years to come.

Our Rainbow

Two and a half years ago I remember seeing Scott laying on a bed hooked to machines keeping him alive.  His arms were covered in sores & scars from needles; his whole body swollen beyond recognition.  His stats were unstable, at best.  We really weren’t sure of the future.  I worked hard to avoid thinking beyond the moment.  Except I couldn’t seem to avoid one thought: I want more babies with this man.  He is the love of my life, and the best example I know for the sweet babes we have.

When God spared Scott’s life by providing sweet miracles & amazing professionals who worked long and hard on sustaining him, I was nervous about actually getting pregnant.  The future was still so very unstable.  Looking back, I suspect I should have reached out for some post traumatic stress help.  I didn’t bring the subject of babies up with Scott, but just days after we got home, he told me he wanted more.  Lots more.  That life is short.  Precious.  And investing in the future in this way was more important than most of the ways we typically invest.  I loved the way he was thinking, and that it aligned with where I was, despite my nervousness.  We’d always said we wanted a hundred.  So let’s!

After several months of trying with no success, I got discouraged.  We’d never had to “try” before.  I worried that perhaps the trauma on his body left us unable to conceive again.  Thankfully, doctors all seemed to think that it shouldn’t be an issue, and were encouraging.  Our close friends were praying for us, all of us hopeful that it be God’s will for us to have more babies.  I researched fertility herbs and tried to get my body on track for a pregnancy.

At last, in November of 2015 we found out we were pregnant, only to end in a miscarriage.  I have sweet memories of loving friends surrounding us in unexpected and loving ways, supporting us through the devastating loss.  I struggled for longer than I expected to, and in more ways than I expected to.  I captured my thoughts and reigned in my chaos, bit by bit, over time.  The grief is still alive and real today, tho’ has changed significantly for a lot of reasons.  Hormones subsided.  Truth prevailed.  Two months and one cycle after our miscarriage, we found ourselves pregnant again.  This time, to stick.

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It’s with great joy I share that earlier in October we welcomed a new little one into our family.  We call him “Aury.”   Continue Reading »

Risking Our Children

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!
Gaither

When I was a young Mom, I struggled a lot.  My mind raced with every scenario that left my baby lifeless, brutally hurt, or forever scarred emotionally.  I soaked up all of the parenting books, battling which might be right, which wrong.  I wanted to do it “right”.  I didn’t want my children hurt.

When they were babies, I’d wake up too frequently to check if they were still breathing as they slumbered in their bed.  As they grew into toddlers, suddenly furniture was my enemy.  Sharp edges.  Glass surfaces.  Plug-ins and electronics.  There is danger everywhere.  My heart raced.  I lost sleep.  Now several of them are pre-teen/teen’s, and dangers are exponentially growing.  The motorcycle.  The rope swings, swimming, video games, and – gasp – soon driving.  Now there’s hormonal changes and pre independence and … oh man… We’re not ready for this!

But there’s a balance to be had here… surely… And yet… It is not our job to be flexible.

It is our job to protect our children.  There are many dangers out there that we need not be ignorant of.  Because of this, we set boundaries for our children that are age- and maturity-appropriate.  For example, we limit the people our kids leave our house for sleepovers with or have alone time with.  We happily welcome friends to co-mingle in a family setting.  We limit their interaction with bad influences of all varieties until they are “of age,” and also take responsibility for their intake of good, be it spiritual, educational, chemical, etc… And will assist in their learning how to make wise decisions as they grow.  Ultimately, we’d rather risk offending someone than risk our child’s safety or well-being.

But something has changed in us as parents.  

We no longer keep those boundaries based on fear or control.  

We do still believe that as parents we are responsible for guiding our children to the best of our ability in most areas, bit by bit letting them “fly the coop,” so to speak.  We want to instill good decision making skills based on a firm foundation.  We do still cling tight to our family being the go-to for them as they do so.  Home is their base, Lord willing.  Yet we still catch ourselves from time to time.  As politics sway, there were added fears for society, the culture, it’s future, and the surroundings of their lives in various times and trials.  Even still I find myself trying to guard them at times.  I am constantly reminding myself that sheltering is not guarding or biblical, but praying is.     Continue Reading »

Farming For Free?!

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photo courtesy of Robin

We’ve always been of the mindset that animals cost money.  I mean, let’s be real.  You don’t raise your own animals to be frugal.  It’s a luxury.  You do it because you love it, you seek the lifestyle, or because you’re looking for a particular type of food to be on your plate.  Unless you’re a commercial operation, the cost is real, in most areas of your resources (finances, time, space, etc).

For example, when I calculate our expenses, we aren’t saving a ton of money on our sheep milk*.  I can justify it financially, but if we had to cut our budget, I sure couldn’t justify keeping ’em.  And when I [try not to] judge others, it’s the first thing I think they should let go of when the purse strings need tightened.  But this one family I know is making me change my perspective (and is certainly not following the norm), and reminding me not to judge a book by it’s cover.

Let me preface by saying: Steve & Robin’s number one goal is to supplement their groceries with free food.  So sure, they may not be doing things how we would (or have) as far as grassfed, organic, etc.  But honestly, it’s still leaps and bounds above CAFO mixed meats and picked-prematurely veggies from who knows where doused in who-knows-what.  Even if it doesn’t meet our general philosophies a hundred percent of the time.  It’s surprisingly not far away either.

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photo courtesy of Robin

Here’s what they have on their homestead: sheep (milk, fiber, meat), pigs (meat, pasture-managers, scrap-clean-up-ers), chickens and ducks (eggs, meat, fertilizer), cows (beef, hides & milk) and a couple of horses (training children responsibility and skill).  Rabbits (meat, pelts, leatherwork).  Bees (honey, pollination).  Fruit trees and herbs (dinner plate and animal food).  What they “bring in” to feed their animals:

  • They hay their neighbors field once a year, paying $2.85 per bale; saving neighbors annual mowing costs.  Win-win.
  • They maintain a fodder system ($10/month for entire farm)
  • The food bank they grocery shop with weekly gives them excess for livestock; providing 90% of what is fed to the pigs and chickens
  • They water from a well (expense: minimal electric to run pump)

They do have to invest in minimal supplies from the feed store from time to time, as well as minerals and other odd items here and there.  They usually butcher their own meat, slaughter to wrap.  Butchered lamb skulls hang in their chicken coop where maggots clean them out, then drop to the floor where chickens get their protein.  They then sell the cured skulls to folks with terrariums after proper cleaning.  The property they rent came with fencing and small structures to contain their animals.  They co-op the pigs with other owners – the other owners are responsible for cleaning barns and fields of manure, etc… keeping this portion of workload (and waste) minimal for their own family.  They grow low-maintenance corn, melons & pumpkins (and weeds – ha!), feeding the harvest to the chickens, the stalks and vines to the pigs.

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photo courtesy of Robin

As for the horses, they’re a bit of a splurge.  Or are they?  They don’t provide food for the family, but provide a learning opportunity for the two children.  They teach responsibility and disciplines one would never get elsewhere.  And best of all?  It’s all financially sponsored (feed is included in the family’s farm expenses; minimal and self-sustaining).  Their five year old has sought – and secured – both businesses and private entities to 100% financially support her rodeo and training through selling farm goods and sponsorships.  What could add up to hundreds a month is instead worked for, providing a great opportunity for this young entrepreneur to not only set a budget, seek out investors and sell farm goods, but also to work hard for good results to report back of progress.  And heck, clean stalls and tie knots and lift her share of weight in the process.

Funny story: All but one in their family doesn’t like lamb or rabbit (but the kids’ll eat it if they have to).  They raise both because it’s cheaper than buying any meat from the grocery.  So they’re not going for gourmet.  They’re going for saving money.  Period.  Their monthly food averages $250 for a family of [currently] 5 – soon 6!  Some months it’s closer to $100, when the freezer and pantry are particularly generous.  Insane.

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photo courtesy of Robin

I don’t even want to mention how much we spend on groceries per month, even growing a lot on our own.  We believe this area a high priority, and budget accordingly.  That said, Steve & Robin’s semi-permaculture-esque set up and goals have really inspired me to consider how we can enhance our strategy into providing continued high quality food, utilizing our resources to the best of our ability in a more economical fashion.  A good challenge for sure.

First step: Setting up that dag-gum fodder system that I keep saying I’m going to.  Literally adding 60 seconds a day to chores, decreasing feed costs a hundred fold.  Yep.  I need to just do it.

*actually, I have no idea where to buy sheep milk.  But other raw milk of this caliper is $20/gallon minimum.  In reality, we probably are saving money on dairy/meat from our lamb, but not a ton – we certainly aren’t eating cheap by growing it ourselves.  Tho’ I could argue in favor because they help maintain our land, add fertilizer, share wool, and offer a wide variety of meats & dairy products that would add up significantly otherwise… Yeah, but still.  Not cheap.

The Roy Family

Once upon a time I had this friend.  She had hemorrhoids.  Yeah.  She’s gross.

Okay, okay, let’s get real, folks.  The majority of American’s suffer (usually in silence – and with OTC temporary-relief products) from internal and/or external hemorrhoids.  We live in a society that lives on their hineys, eats garbage, and frankly, doesn’t take care of themselves as well as they should.  Those slobs aside, some of us are living the life of health & finesse *cough, cough*.  But still have hemorrhoids.  So let’s just delve into the ridiculously embarrassing world of talking about it.  Let’s put aside our prude (err, pride) and deal with things that need to be dealt with.  Unlike I did for years.

So actually, I really did have a friend that had really bad hemorrhoids.  So bad that she found a doctor who would be willing to take care of them all in one fell swoop.  I was excited at the potential of her leaving the struggles behind, but also nervous for her, as my great-aunt had gone through the surgery and after months of recovery, swore she would never do it again if she would have known how brutal it would be.  That it was the worst experience of her life.  Well, it ended up the same for this friend of mine.  She ended up in the ER numerous times over the several weeks following the procedure.  It was horrifically painful to the point of unbearable.  She maxed out what doc would give her in narcotics, and still could not function as a Mama and person in her daily life from the pain for – literally – months.  No thanks!

So naturally, I never felt inclined to talk about them, much less do anything about it.

Until recently. Continue Reading »

Our Aviator

Fifteen years ago we gave birth to a boy. A boy who started down the road to a daily regime of officially pursuing his dream of aviation this past fall. A gentle-hearted boy who has the courage to stand against (and for) things larger-than-life with solid ground. We are so proud of the little boy he was, and the young man he has become.

It’s been a couple of years now that Adyn’s passion for electricity has taken a detour to aviation.  I suspect both will be in his future, knowing both compliment each other well.  As the years have gone by, we’ve kept our watch for opportunity.  We’ve visited the local aviation museums and bumped shoulders with lovely folks who love to teach and share with him.  It’s been surprising how many lovely older fellows have really taken him under and have been excellent encouragers and a great resource to him.

Growing up, on my paternal side of the family, a lot of the menfolk had their pilots license.  Specifically, one of my uncles, and my grandfather.  The latter who ended built hangers and airports in various places across the country.  Fast forward to today, my oldest brother now flies – in fact, it’s his family’s #1 mode of travel for vacation and adventure in their Bonanza (a now upgraded heirloom from my grandfather).  The passion has clearly passed on, now 4 generations.

This Spring Adyn’s dreams started coming into fruition more practically.  To keep a long story short for now, he had the opportunity to have one of my (now deceased) grandfathers Cessna 150’s (small aircraft) that is in ship shape, which spurred us to accelerate his education.  We talked to a counselor, and planned out the last school year to prepare him for a specific program that would not only get him his pilot’s license through FAA-approved ground school, but further certification with OSHA, leadership training, etc.  The second year of this competitive program often graduates students straight into a career position.

working in the hangar

working in the hangar

Adyn busted his buns hard over the summer, and completed the needed pre-requisites in order to meet the program standards.  Because of his excellent grades and perseverance, the program made an exception to their age minimum, allowing Adyn to register at 14 instead of 17 (tho’ his 15th birthday was the day after the program started).  Proud parents here.

Adyn now attends classes daily.  Scott drives him in on his way to work, allowing them some quality man time each day, which isn’t time that can ever be taken for granted.  I take turns with another mom picking him/friend up.  Yeah… Just like that, I’m one of “those” mom’s.  But wow, I’ve sure come to appreciate carpooling!  We’re thankful that they are a wonderful like-minded family.  And until Adyn gets his driver’s license, it’s a huge blessing to not have to travel in daily.  He’ll likely have his pilots license before his driver’s license.  Amusing how different regulations are for flight vs. land travel.

"research"

“research” at the Evergreen Aviation Museum, where the Spruce Goose is parked

It’s pretty neat as a parent to sit back and watch your child grow into a young adult, with glimpses of their future.  We are very proud of his academic excellence, but more importantly, his fervor to follow Christ in all things.