In Memory of Ruby

The goats are still on the farm.

Over the summer, our three became five.

Lavender had a little billy, and Dad brought home a little orphan the kids named Buttons from the auction. You can read about Buttons coming to the farm here.

But sadly, where we once had five, there are only now four on the farm.

With having sold the cows and the sadness of their departure I didn’t want to have to post additional sadness for you all.

As you can imagine, the children are grieving and we’ve all taken this very hard.

And yes, it’s a goat.

But she was not just a goat, she was that one of a kind goat that will never be replaced in personality or in our hearts.

rip rubyIf you didn’t have a chance to hear the stories or meet our dear Ruby, please check out these posts. You’ll see why she was totally one of a kind.

Ruby in the Morning

Ruby having fun. 

We bottle fed this little goat with a Pepsi bottle and a goat nipple. Every morning she greeted us at the milk house door and came in to get her morning head pat and back message.

goat milk in Pepsi bottle

She played with the kids. Her flying jumps across the flat bed trailer are legendary, and the happiness she brought the children of my brother and my own kiddo’s is priceless.

Ruby was a special little goat. She thought she was “just one of the kids.”

She raced them down the farm lane on their bikes and laid in the grass beside them as they rested in the shade. She picked up after them as they carried chucks of hay to the other animals and dropped some along the way.

When she saw you coming, she always had to come say hello. And while some would complain she got under foot, more now her closeness is missed even more.

The first thing I look forward to when I get out my vehicle at the farm is seeing Ruby.

Oh, how we will miss that little goat!!!

So much that I can’t get her or her daring and playful personality from my mind. Each morning I sit down to work on finishing a current manuscript, I find myself writing about Ruby instead.

For a little goat like Ruby, I don’t think there is better way to celebrate her presence on the farm with us than writing a children’s book, do you?

Rest in Peace, Ruby.

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We were so blessed to have you for the short time you graced us here on the farm.

 

 

A Farm Girl’s 401 on Farming

Life doesn’t always take us in the direction we want to go.

If you would have asked me twenty years ago what I wanted to do with my life I would have shared with you my dream of farming. I was young, but I had it all figured out.

Because it’s tradition for the first son (or only son) to inherit the trade or legacy of a father, I knew my brother would inherit all the farm stuff from our father. And, that was okay. I went to school and got my degree in accounting. I’ve been keeping the farm books since I was seventeen.

My plan was to work alongside my brother on the farm, I’d do the bookkeeping and care for the young cattle and he’d do the milking and we’d both raise our families.

Sounded like a great plan right?

Maybe you’ve seen those commercials lately for the farmer match maker dating site: Farmersonly.com (note: I have no affiliation with this site, I’ve just watched their commercial on Television one night.)

That’s how I saw my life. Living on or close to the farm, working the land, tending the animals, and marring a handsome farmer.

As the daughter of a dairy farmer , naturally, I assumed I’d become a farmer’s wife.

Then I fell in love with a mathematician.

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              My other half

Do you hear life laughing at me?

Not only did I marry that mathematician, he was also allergic to animals, including my beloved horse and the cows.

Can you hear the laughter now?

Yep, the joke was on me.

For years, I followed my husband from new jobs to other states so he can teach and get his teaching certifications and degrees. Yet, all the while I kept telling myself I could live without the farm.

Who was I kidding?

Not me.

Not anymore.

While you can tie down and try to pen up the farm girl inside me, it can’t be contained for long.

Because no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop being who you are or yearning for what it is you’ve always wanted.

Deep down– farmer’s daughter,  farmer’s wife, — it makes no difference. Being a farm girl is who I am. Farming is in my blood. I might have been born in a hospital, but  my parents brought me home and raised me on the farm.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: you can take the girl from the farm, but you can’t take the farm from the girl. Go ahead share tweet this to your friends. 

Sometimes we all need to return to our roots.

Sometimes we need to stop asking, “What if” and instead formulate the “How.”

It’s like falling in love and courting your future other half. The answers will come as you need them. Just rely on your heart and the faith you hold inside you to be your guide.

A Quick Dame DIY: Lunch Note Napkins

Not every child has the same experience when they go to school. Some like it. Some don’t. And especially for the younger ones, many have trouble adjusting to leaving their mother’s for that long of period of time.

Kiddo #1 was the later. The first few years of going to public school were the hardest on her… and for me. As a mom, it pains you more sometimes than your child in learning to manage the period of time each day of separation.

There were too many days to count that I carried my child into the school kicking and screaming because she didn’t want to go, and I walked out, got into my car, and sounded worse than one of the cows in the barn bawling.

Not all of us dames have the same circumstances that would able us to solve this scenario easily. I wanted nothing more to take my child back home. My husband and I discussed the possibility of home schooling, but with this child and at this time in our lives, this was what we felt best.

Then the wife of our pastor heard my distress and gave me one of the best ideas I’ve ever been given. Our pastor’s wife did this for her children, and so I tried it for mine.

Each day I packed my little one’s lunch I added something special. Not a snack or piece of candy, but a note of encouragement… on a napkin.

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I can’t say it solved the problem, but kiddo#1 and our other children as they became school aged have no come to look forward to Mom’s silly drawing and little notes written on their paper napkins in their lunch boxes.

Some day, I plan to figure out how I can get these printed and share with other kids at school who get free lunches and don’t necessarily have a parent that is able be the shining light to give them a little ray of encouragement in their life right now.

I’ve even done this for my husband when I pack his lunch, too.

For now, I just take a napkin and a pen or marker and try to come up with something witty and encouraging. By the time my kids are starting to feel the toll of the school day pulling at them, they can open their lunches and get a reminder of how special and loved they are this day.

I try to write and draw something different for each of my kiddos, and something that works with their different personalities. One of these days, kiddo #1 has promised me drawing lessons. Apparently, I’m better with words than drawing on napkins.

Go ahead, try it. What is your herd packing for lunch today?

 

Emptying The Milk Parlor and Draining The Tank

The milk cows are gone.

The parlor is empty. I miss the sound of the metal gates clinking, and the loud rumble of the milk compressor kicking on in the evening.

Inside the milk house is an empty tank, cleaned and ready— for a period of bareness.

It’s happened before, only this time I fear it is the last.

As I watch the trucks and trailers pull out of the farm lane, I fought to hold back the tears. I’m bad at not crying. I wanted so badly to be strong like the men in my life.

There are not enough deep breaths or attempts to squeeze my eyes shut to prevent the tears from rolling free.

So I turn my back, look upon those last remaining cows standing in the shed and cried.

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They are just cows.

They come and they go.

Or at least I tried to remind myself.

Silly girl. Crying over cows!

They’re not pets. They’re farm assets.

Yet I couldn’t convince myself enough to stop crying.

Even though I didn’t hold any official ownership over these dairy cows, I knew them by name – not numbers. I knew which ones preferred to be milked on the left side or the right side of the milk parlor. I knew which ones kicked and the one that liked to bluff. I know which calves belong to them.

And then there was Jenny. The Holstein last summer that I refused to allow anyone to give up on. You saw the video here of the day she first walked through the parlor after recovering from pinching nerve in her back after delivering a Hereford cross bull calf.

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That same Hereford stared back at me from inside the shed. Now a year old, no longer a bull, but a steer. Maybe I’m just crazy, but by the look of his large dark eyes, he knew his mother was on that last trailer.

Here in the summer, Jenny had another calf. A heifer that frolics in the calf pen on the other side of the shed. She’s pure Holstein and she’ll stay here to be raised for next year or so at least.

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Before the trucks pulled out, the new owner offered if I was ever in the area for me to stop in and visit his farm and see the cows again. It was a kind offer. One I feel was made only because the chance he felt of me actually showing up at his farm one day are slim.

If only the new owner knew that for three years I lived in the small town on the West Virginia border beside where his farm is located while my husband was student teaching and working on his PH.D. at the West Virginia University. I loved that little town and the people in it. I still do, and keep in touch with many of them thanks to social media. But now I’m heading down a cow path and need to get back to the cows.

I wipe my eyes and turn back on the cows to look ahead at the rest of the farm, and to my dad. I can’t speculate the future–not for the cows — not for our family—not what lies ahead for the farm.

While this is sometimes the way of life. It’s a business.

As I mentioned, we’ve had to do this once before during a time when my dad was in the hospital, had surgery, and was off his feet for some time. With all other options assessed, there was no other choice. The milk cows had to go.

Once more my dad’s headed back to the hospital for surgery. My brother can’t run the farm alone, and as God has it at this moment I’m too far away to pull the extra weight from anyone’s shoulders.

Farming takes more than one man or one woman to operate. Tweet This

That’s just how most businesses operate in the dairy industry. Perhaps one day when children are older or other halves don’t have to travel so far for work outside the farm, things will change. I don’t know. It’s in God’s hands now.

To the new owner of our cows. 

Dear fellow dairyman, 

Nothing personal, but just wanted to let you know that one day I will be stopping in to check on the cows. If I’m not able, please know I have friends who don’t live far from your dairy that will happy to do so for me. I wish you all the best as you enter this new way of living and pray that these cows bring a blessing to you and your family. 

So without the milk cows, where does that leave the family farm?

That my friends is a bunch of ideas still developing and I promise you’ll be the first to know.

 

Feature photo credit: Jess Johnson via Flickr CC