Goats Goats Goats

Eeeek!!!  We have 2 new baby goats, called kids.  They were born yesterday afternoon while I was fieldtripping with Liv in Sioux City. 

Joe had picked up our other 3 kids (like people kids) and came home at 5:00 to find wet , just-born goats.   Mostly a lot of noise and legs, he thought!

When Liv and I got back from the field trip, I was running to the house to change clothes into something fancier for a fundraiser in town. Ava and Vince came out to tell me about a surprise!  So, I had to go sneak a peak.  The kids were up and sprinting around the pen. We gave them some extra straw and I congratulated our mama goat. 


They made it through the night just fine.  Vince and I just came in from trying to milk the doe, named Tess.  She didn’t have much colostrum but we will check her again tonight to make sure the kids are milking her out evenly and she is comfortable. 

Usually when Vince or I go to do goat chores, we call “Goats, goats, goats.”   I think that is what everyone goat farmer does, but I’m not sure.  We may have to say it five times fast now.  There may be snow flurries in our 3-day forecast, but I am convinced spring is here now!

Time flies when you are having fun

Today marks 2 years since Ava’s accident when she lost use of her right arm.  It has been AWESOME (just had a discussion with some ladies about when really is it appropriate to use that word…I think it is called for here) to see her regain her strength.   Here’s a more detailed update and, if you know me, a prayer request of course. 

Photos today courtesy of Great-aunt Sue, who provides wonderful care of Ava so I can catch some breaks.


When Ava had her nerve transfers done at Cincinnati Children’s 20 months ago, she had no function at all in her right arm.  The main goals of surgery were to give her shoulder stabilization (so it wasn’t dropping and pulling out of place), sensation, and the ability to feed herself with that side in case something might ever happen to her other arm.  Any sort of hand function was to be considered icing on the cake for a girls of Ava’s age. 

This is what we’ve got. 

1.  Shoulder stabilized.  Success!

2.  Ability to bend at elbow 90 degrees.  Think of it as half of a bicep curl.  Although, she can’t go any higher than that, it is incredibly strong in that she can put a pail with items in it on her forearm and carry it that way. 

3.   To get her hand up to her mouth, after her half bicep curl, she then needs to rotate her arm at the shoulder.  She can just barely get it there, but we count it!

4.  Huge increase in balance.  Ava doesn’t trip nearly as often when we are walking along a sidewalk or just jogging across our farm.  We’ve only made one trip to the ER in the past 12 months (she was trying out a fire pole at a playground) which is a much lighter schedule than we experienced the first 12 months post-accident.  I think the ability to engage her arm helps tremendously for shifting her weight to avoid those falls.

5.  Sensation all the way to the tips of her fingers.  Much safer!

6.  She can exert enough downward pressure to hold a piece of paper on the table with her right arm while she writes with her left hand. Very useful for a kindergartener!  She also can hold items between her arm and tummy, a function she uses all the time now. 

Her fingers are always curled in.


She has the ability to flex at her wrist just a bit. Her fingers no longer hang limply, they are always in a fist (it is actually an extrinsic hand function — one that is supplied by an area between the elbow and hand).  These gains are really not functional however, unless she gains the ability to open her hand — finger extension.  If she could gain a few more things like separating her fingers that would be even handier.  

The clock is ticking.   We know that the nerve growth has reached her wrist.   Just a few more inches to grow!  Please join me in praying that she receives some intrinsic hand function.  We are really hoping she can open her hand in the next few months.  Please pray with me. 

We travel to Cincinnati again in June. 

Makin’ Bacon

I prepared 7 pounds of bacon yesterday.  To feed 8 people!  Okay, in all honesty I shared some bacon-wrapped pork loin with our neighbor too. 

Last night, our school (Worthington Christian School) had our annual Hostess Supper.  Every mom invites guests, does a table setting and then either brings the foods or assigns certain menu items to guests. 

I borrowed the pig head from a friend.


I figured as long as we have to do it, I may as well make it fun.  It all began with a bacon shirt.

Just let me know if you want to borrow this shirt!


And then just bacon in every entree. 

We had smoked, bacon-wrapped pork loin, twice-baked potatoes (love the pioneer woman for recipes like that), bacon-wrapped asparagus spears, bacon-cheddar rolls (forced me into bread-baking this year!), spinach salad with lots of toppings.  I served an appetizer called bacon crack that was just a crescent roll base with brown sugar, maple syrup and partially cooked bacon put in the oven for 20 minutes.  For dessert, I made creme brûlée (thankful for autocorrect) with a piece of bacon stuck in it. 

One of the tricks is to keep food warm. The asparagus came out of the oven and into the crockpot.



Most of the entrees turned out great!  And we didn’t set off the smoke alarm that was only 5 feet away when we carmelized the sugar for the dessert. 

I hope you are inspired to make something fun  and different for your family.  It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut!

If you need a link for a recipe, just let me know. 

In just 10 years

Tomorrow, my husband, Joe, and I will celebrate 10 years of wedded bliss.  Well, obviously not every single day is bliss, but for 10 years, we have held to to our commitment of standing beside each other to the end.  The roughest times for me have been my miscarriages.  I think a man just feels stuff differently.  The roughest times for Joe…well, perhaps he knows better than to let me know what those have been.  Our good times FAR OUTWEIGH the bad times, and we both often agree…we’d get married all over again.  Here’s a list of the top 5 things I love about being married to him.  (boys, start taking notes and do the same things for your gal).

Image

Starting our married life together. April 5, 2003

1.  We agree on the big things.  We are God-fearing Christians.  We like kids. We vote.

2.  He is a hard worker.  There is never a doubt in my mind that, through God, he will provide for our family.  If we needed it, my husband would deliver pizzas at night to get by.  A Saturday is typically just another day to farm.  He always does his best, whether someone is watching or not.  Read the caption on the photo….it is a perfect description.

Image

Joe putting in drainage tile to improve our land. Although it is buried underground and unseen, I guarantee you it is nearly perfect. Anyone who has worked with Joe would vouch for that.

3.  He respects the work that I do.  He doesn’t fold laundry and I don’t fix a broken water line.  He assures me that the work I do is important.

Image

Coming home from the hospital with my first-born, and with it, a new job title: Mom.

4.  He is fun.  My kids know that!

Image

Image

What could possibly be the best thing to appear in this picture?

Image

….Dad coming to pick up his girls for a date selling cows in Sheldon, Iowa.

Image

Don’t forget the snacks!

Image

5.  In my old age, I have the wisdom to understand that it isn’t as important as I once thought it was, but yep, he is still handsome.  He has a few scars from a farm accident 5 years ago, but they simply remind me to treasure our good health and ability to work.

Image

So, there’s the list.  I hope it wasn’t too mushy for you!  In just 10 years, it is amazing to look back and see how we’ve changed.

We aren’t headed to Hawaii…maybe we’ll do that on our 25th.  Instead, maybe I’ll force him into a game of Scrabble.  Maybe he’ll force me into a game of Monopoly.  Maybe he’ll come home before 5:00.  Well, maybe that is just too many maybes, and I need to start planning for a real date!

Super Bowl and Breakfast

Super Bowl and Breakfast

Most Minnesotans know Super Bowl LII will be at the US Bank Stadium in 2018, but what has that got to do with breakfasts in the school?

Fuel Up to Play 60 is a partnership with the NFL and dairy farmers to get kids fueled up (healthy eating) to play 60 minutes of active exercise! Esther Dykstra and I are on-hand as local dairy farmers.


Earlier this week, Worthington (my hometown) High School was host to a grant dedication ceremony to thank a whole host of groups (Midwest Dairy Council, Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Fuel Up To Play 60, and General Mills) for supporting this great cause, Super School Breakfast grants. 

Here’s the deal:  the school will receive some snazzy stainless steel breakfast carts that will make it much faster and easier for the students to “grab and go” breakfast.  Also, local dairy farmers sponsored some additional milk coolers.  The idea is that if a school breakfast is convenient and tasty, they will eat it — and it will help them to perform better in school.  Makes a lot of sense to me. 

We are each holding milk cartons for a “milk toast”. The two kids standing on the left are a part of the church Youth Group that I lead, and also a part of the FFA Dairy Cattle Evaluation team that is practicing now. These kids have probably had a little overload of me lately, but we still had fun.

This is one of the first of weekly celebrations like this throughout Minnesota. All told, about 140,000 school-age students will benefit from this partnership, and I definitely think that it will leave a lasting legacy!

The No-no plate

At our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group today, we listened to a speech language therapist that loves to focus on mealtimes and feeding.   Her name is Andrea, but she runs on social media as “thespeechmom”.  She had tons of real-life scenarios.   Our local moms were engaged and I could just see the wheels turning in many minds. 

So I listened to all her suggestions and thought I’d try some out tonight!  Joe is still in “full-on construction mode” at the dairy so he wasn’t home when we ate at 6:00 and that made it is a bit easier to give it a go. 


First change — After we prayed, I EXPLAINED the foods to them.  Really made me feel strange and we all started giggling. Roast beef that was going to require a bit of chewing, piping hot mashed potatoes that had milk and butter added to them,  cucumber sticks, and cooked carrots that had both the sweetness of brown sugar and the zing of ginger.  Yep, my kids were listening to the descriptions and thinking I was from the moon. Violet was so interested that she wanted to be buckled in. 

Second change — they each got to dish up their own food.  Ava was most delighted with the way that she had to hit the spoon on the plate to get the mashed potatoes to come off. 

Third — I allowed a no-no plate.  What is this?  I had never heard of such a thing either.  It is a small plate next to the regular plate that a kiddo can use to park the food they don’t want to eat.  So, when Ava fussed about not wanting any carrots, I told her she could simply put them on her no-no plate (that I quickly grabbed from the kitchen).    She was so distraught by these carrots on her plate but I insisted she needed to move them.  She barely survived the step of getting them to her no-no plate.  

Here’s the thing:   3 minutes later, Ava took the carrots off her no-no plate, ate them, and asked for more.  I nearly fell off my chair (somebody had to have a close call since Violet was actually buckled in and not dancing in her chair for once). 

Andrea, the speech therapist, had assured us that this would happen!   That a kid would be so thrilled by being able to get foods off her plate, she would experience the plop of food moving onto a new plate, and decide she would just maybe need to try it. 

Honestly, I was sitting in the meeting saying “no way”.  This is a crazy professional talking and she doesn’t get what it is actually like.  Yet, the no-no plate, her expert advise was right on!  

How many times at our farm do experts tell us ideas to try and we just dismiss them?  How many times has our pastor insisted on reading a certain chapter of the Bible and we just think…he has no idea how busy I am. 

So…consider trusting an expert.  They sometimes know their stuff. 

If you are interested in learning more, follow her page on Facebook, thespeechmom.  Website is TheSpeechMom.com. She also uses this little thing called Instagram that I want to start using more. 

There is just one more neat thing…she has this side business of renting out “Bloomboxes”, an interactive grouping of toys that come with a little sheet explaining what is in there and why.   They would make an awesome gift for the kid who loves in a house where the parents can’t stand clutter — just play with the things for one month and send it back!

What it is really like 

Truthfully, I haven’t been swinging hammers or welding gates in our new barn construction.  My involvement has been financial consent (!), being a good listener, and an occasional home-cooked lunch for the crew. 


There has, however, been a dedicated crew putting in tons of hours this winter. We are so thankful. 

This construction has stretched Joe in so many ways.  It’s been way more complicated than a new build could be, with so many working systems.  Reworking all the manure stuff, completely redoing all the electrical, lots of unexpected problems. He has been stressed a bunch for this time of year, but it will all be worth it as soon as NEXT WEEK  — cows are moving in!!


It’s going to be awesome.   The crew has done an excellent job.  There are a ton of neat features that I could write about but it would be all “dairy-speak”. 

Violet was sprinting around like crazy tonight.


What I can tell you is that, like at farms all across the nation, cows are going to be very comfortable.  

He actually doesn’t even like being on his phone as much as he has been.


Lots of people on social media today are talking about knowing an  #ActualLivingFarmer, and if you want to know what the inside of a barn looks like, just ask me, because I am one!

#ActualLivingFarmer