Tomorrow is a big day for Ava

Please be in prayer for my dear little Ava. Tomorrow, at 1:00, she will be undergoing surgery (technical term: dacryocystorhinostomy) once again for her right tear duct. I brought her to the Sanford’s Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls last month, but the procedure was unsuccessful. Dr. Tufty, who is an pediatric ophthalmologist, said he has about one surgery a year that is unsuccessful. Ava is the stand-out of 2013, I guess.

So, we were referred to Dr. Andrew Harrison with the University of Minnesota. He provides ophthalmology plastic surgery services to people of all ages. When Joe and I met with him a few weeks ago, he shared a story about his son. His 10-year-old had to explain to others at school what his father had for a job. This young lad reported that his dad fixed ‘drippy and droopy eyes’. Now that is a specialist if there ever was one.

A fairly large number of babies (as high as 6%) are born with one or both tear ducts clogged. Over the course of time, sometimes with the help of massage, that tear duct will naturally open. We know that Ava’s isn’t working now because tears always fall forward onto her cheeks, instead of draining through her nose like they should. At this point in Ava’s life, it is mostly cosmetic, although sometimes she accumulates some junk and gunk in her eyelashes. However, as she ages, it could really become an annoyance for things like driving. Also, it isn’t super-fun for me to always answer people’s questions about it (“NO, SHE REALLY ISN’T SAD AND CRYING. SHE REALLY ISN’T TIRED EITHER.” and I don’t think she would appreciate those questions when she is a teenager either.


If you rock glasses as a 2-year-old, you probably ought to own this shirt!

Now that Ava is two, the likelihood of it opening on it’s own is about as close to 0% as you get. So pray that the surgery tomorrow is successful and that we can move on from this. Pray that the anesthetist is skilled and she suffers minimal side effects.

As we drive the 3 hours to Minneapolis tomorrow, it is my hope that Ava does not eat her toys, clothes, and carseat as we have to ‘starve her’ before she goes under. She is such a mellow child but food is very dear to her. On a very serious note, I am just anxious for the surgeon’s report when he comes out to visit us tomorrow. If this doesn’t work, well…yikes, I just don’t even know. This Dr. Harrison seemed somewhat overly confident and, dare I say, arrogant when we met him a few weeks ago. I guess that is better than unsure and nervous. Time will tell.

Again, I ask you to lift Ava up in prayer. Even if you only know her through photos or just as that young girl around town with glasses. In our family, she is our female football linebacker wearing a tutu. Cutest little giggle and the most stubborn personality. Thumb-sucker begging for a footrub. Just our big hunk of love. Pray for her.

Update at 3:15 Friday: Ava’s surgery was a success. Praise the Lord! Thanks so much for your support.


Nutrient Redistribution (or Poop Pumping)

So, you hate to judge a book by it’s cover, but if a company’s slogan is “We’re #1 when it comes to #2”, it’s probably run by some pretty fun people.  Calumet Manure Management, with their massive amount of tractors, trucks, hoses, pumps and four-wheelers, has taken up residence at our dairy for the past week.  They utilize an “umbilical cord” system, where millions of gallons of manure are pumped from our lagoon through miles of their hoses and then slowly applied to our fields.


This photo depicts a small percentage of their total equipment.

We used to haul all our manure ourselves, but have chosen to hire it out for the past few years.  There are tons of benefits:

1.  They use hoses instead of tankers.  It takes the burden off the roads and no worries about people getting into car accidents.  Neighbors don’t see the same tanker go thousands of times past their house.  The odor is just about non-existent.

2.  It allows us to get manure on land we couldn’t economically reach before.  We went as far as 6 miles this year.

3.  It’s high-tech.  The amount of gadgets and gizmos they have is unbelievable.  Lots of it is controlled by apps on their cell phones, and they also have “real-time” data that shows precisely the amount they are spreading.  We get great data as to exactly what the boost in fertility is to each acre.

4.  Well, yeah, we can find other things to keep busy with.


Here you can see a booster pump, which they place at one-mile intervals. Also, note the long stretch of hose.

One of the huge benefits of having livestock is having manure.  It is really such an asset and never considered a waste.  Commercial fertilizer just can’t ‘boost’ the subsequent year’s crops the way manure can.

Lastly, we’ve had some rain here in southwestern Minnesota, but also some beautiful days.  The sunsets have been stunning.  My sister-in-law snapped this photo of Joe and me in their apple orchard last Sunday night.  I just want you all to know that AgStar did not pay Joe any money to pose with a dirty farming sweatshirt on:)  Have a great week!


Love this man!

The Best of World Dairy Expo 2013

3 days of rain in the forecast PLUS kids having time off from school EQUALS an obvious “alignment of the stars” to head to World Dairy Expo 2013.  Joe figured after spending 4 weeks, 16 hours a day looking through the windshield of his forage harvester to chop silage, that driving 6 hours  to Madison, Wisconsin, looking through our Expedition’s windshield seemed like no big deal.

Center of the Dairy Universe

Inside the coliseum, they made a fun little “observadairy”. Madison, Wisconsin and World Dairy Expo: Center of the Universe!

A really neat aspect of being a farmer is the community that comes with it.  Yes, we are all competitors trying to grow and sell the same products, but we are mentors, teachers, supporters, and friends above all else.  So, half the fun of going is just running into folks we haven’t seen in awhile.  The other half of the fun for me is the dairy show, but for Joe it is the trade show.


The judge is the man in the suit, left and center. He, along with an associate judge, are lining up the approximately 40 heifers based on their body conformation — having the right blend of size, strength, correctness of feet and legs, and dairyness.  (Yo, spellcheck, ‘dairyness” is indeed a word.

As a college student, I competed in the judging contest back in 2001.  Each year, the shavings are dyed because it is the ‘big stage’.  This year it was purple; the year I judged it was green and, of course, way neater.  The top 25 students representing colleges throughout the country earn All-American honors.  12 years ago, I was 31st….and I still recall that impossible-to-place Holstein heifer class.  Anyhow, I think it is fantastic to sit in the stands, watch the classes and try to pick the winners.  My husband on the other hand, loves the trade show.


Absolutely any business that sells or services anything dairy has a booth at World Dairy Expo. Shown here is an automatic cow brush. Cows learn that when they bump it, it will begin rotating and then they will get whatever itch they have scratched. Would it work in my living room?

Tons of machinery is parked outside, there is a main exhibit hall, and then smaller other buildings and tents.  No way you could see it all in one day.  You just pick and choose what interests you.

double stroller

So exhausting. I really didn’t think we needed a double-stroller since Liv is 5 years old. But alas, here is a photo of a Dutch double stroller.

We also took the time to attend the Gopher Dairy Club reunion at the Coliseum Bar.  I talked to a professor I hadn’t seen in probably 10 years and countless other friends.  My dad has 4 brothers who also farm (or farmed) in Minnesota, so there were lots of Albrecht’s in attendance!  Perhaps our Christmas get-together should just be there next year, as long as half the family is there anyway.

Now, it is back to business on the farm.  Time to combine soybeans.  The wonderful thing about combining beans vs. chopping silage is that is takes way less people, and Joe has to wait in the morning until the dew dries off.  He comments that it seems very peaceful in the combining because he isn’t always radioing trucks about which field driveway to use and that sort of thing.  I hope you are having a fantastic fall season!  Stay safe.