Arriving back in Rockbridge was pretty surreal. We didn’t have a house at that point so we took residence in Fred’s mom’s house which was vacant at the time. We were anxious and excited to get back to being together on the farm and building our life. We had decided to put off trying to get pregnant for a while and focus on work and little Winston. I was sad to put it on the back burner but I knew it was for the best. We got a small herd of our own and Winston took to the farm while I got into the cheese shop. I loved making cheese with Christie, she taught me so much about making cheese, selling cheese, being a farmers wife and mother and all the things in between. Winston was working alongside Fred to get rotational grazing and herd health up to the highest standards and little Winston was along for the ride. We tried a babysitter for little Winston during the day but that was short lived on the account that little Winston only liked us and the farm..go figure. That’s why we took this opportunity, to be able to spend more time together, it felt wrong to not include him.
Everything was going along great until March when I felt nauseous one day. After a couple days of feeling bad I took a test to make sure I wasn’t pregnant. What should have been happiness to see that plus sign was instant fear. I knew what was to come. I knew there would be nothing but a dark room in my future for months, days and nights of trying to keep down a gulp of water or a cracker. I called Staci down at the Farmers Co-op where she worked and she came right over. We talked and I cried and laughed and cried some more. It was only days before it got worse, before I could barely breathe in a smell or stand up with out throwing up. I felt awful about not being able to work in the cheese shop and felt like I was letting everyone down. Thank God I have the best Mother and Mother in law in the world.(Do you ever feel sometimes like that’s an offensive title? It truly is for Susan because she is more than my in law she is my second mom but that’s another blog ♡) They were the best and without them I don’t know what I would have done. I could barely take care of myself let alone the Winstons. My mom sacrificed her birthday to come help me cook and clean and watch Winston. Susan would come every day so she could watch little Winston as well. When she couldn’t come the Winstons would leave in the morning and return in the evenings stinky and tired. It was awful to lay there in that bed everyday. It starts to get to you after a while and I felt like I was the worst wife, mother, daughter, pretty much everything. It feels as if it will never let up and the only thing you can let yourself think about is the baby. I love babies just as much as you possibly could and I knew this would be my last after all my troubles. I was praying everyday for a healthy baby girl and to feel just a stitch better.
In May I finally was able to emerge from my lair and start functioning again. We jumped right back into the swing of things and between the cheese shop, farm and farmers markets we were always on the move. On a drive one day we noticed an older, white farmhouse near to the farm that seemed perfect for us. In August we bought that house. It was and probably always will be my favorite house ever. We didn’t know it when we bought it but it was all old, chinked wood inside. It had 3 fireplaces and 3 porches and it was funky inside, but I loved it so. I always wanted that old, white house, I had dreamed of it for years and even painted it in pictures as a child. It was my pride and joy although to some it probably wasn’t much more than an old dilapidated mess. It was a fixer upper to say the least but it was my dream house. It had a small but nice piece of land with a stream, it was all fenced up and ready so naturally we started to immediately fill it up. When Winston told me he was going to start bringing home bull calves to raise as Veal I kinda thought he was crazy. I grew up in New Jersey where Veal Parm is life…but in Virginia I had never seen Veal on a menu or in the grocery store. I knew just the word Veal strikes fear, anger, and outrage in many. We were raising humanely raised Veal, not killing nutrient deprived, 2 day old babies like so many people see think when you say Veal. Our calves were loved and grown up to be healthy, young, milk fed beef cows, but I’ll get into the calves more later on and how and why we did what we did. When I met Winston one of my prerequisites was that I be allowed to own any animal I want. Sure enough he has wanted every one I have plus more, so we have acquired quite a few pets and plenty of stock since we met. Winston always says all the money is in the cows, he can always make his money back on his cows. I love that man beyond words, I swear sometimes I think he put a spell on me to think everything he says is the gospel. Anyways we got some calves! One turned into 2 turned into 5 turned into 14 and so on. Oh and don’t forget our old milk cow Reba, who nobody wanted because her bag dragged the ground and took 2 hours to milk out. The poor old thing all she did was waller all day in the creek. I think looking back that was and always will be some of the most greatest times of our life. We had parties at the house with so many friends and family and could sit on our porch and look out at the calves and mountains at night, taking about everything or nothing at all. Our family was complete and life was going as planned.
Late that summer life had taken a turn. Winston started to feel sick, he had headaches everyday and he was throwing up all the time. It was hard to watch him out the cheese shop window, he looked weak and pale, he couldn’t barely do anything when he got home from work and all he wanted to do was sleep. After weeks of him seeming miserable everyday he decided to come home early. When he got home his whole head had a reddish, purple tint, his eyes were bloodshot and he had a fever. He said he just wanted to lay down for a minute and I knew it had gotten to the point where he needed to be seen but he didn’t want to go anywhere. What do you do when your grown husband wont listen to you? You call his mom and dad…and that’s just what I did. By the time they had gotten there he was in rough shape and his dad had to help me get him to the car. At this point in my life I was not a real religious person, that whole ride I prayed like I had never before, I pleaded with God to not take my everything. I was pregnant with his baby, a girl at that, and little Winston needed his daddy, but most of all I needed him. I will always need Winston, I believe women can be strong and empowered and can do for their children and themselves if need be just fine. But me, I need Winston. When we met it was like he filled a hole I never knew I had and I need him and always will. I tell him all the time we are going to be with the angels at the same time, but I’ll go just a second before him so I never have to miss him.
When we got to the hospital they did what everyone at the hospital does when you are panicked. They tell you sit down and they’ll be right with you. Poor Winston was in a wheelchair making the most awful noises you have ever heard, moaning and groaning. When they took him back he had to go straight to a quarantine room. Because they didn’t know what he had and we had been exposed to at the farm and with the animals, they had to call the center for infectious disease. I have never been more scared in my life. The doctor brought both me and Winston’s dad into a room and told us that he had meningitis. He also said he was going to do the best he could and he was unsure of the outcome at this point. I heard nothing else he said and it was just all a blur, the room was spinning, my mouth felt dry and I thought I was going to be sick. Meningitis can either be bacterial or viral. By the grace of God he had viral. Had his meningitis been bacterial it would have probably had a different outcome. If it had been bacterial, little Winston and I would have both needed medication because of exposure. And me being pregnant, there would had been a likely chance I would lose the baby. When he had been stabilized I was able to go and see him. It felt like a movie putting all these protective layers on and not being able to touch him. He was sprawled out on a table looking like there wasn’t a bit of life left in him. I sat down beside him and cried, I just cried, I didn’t know what else to do. When he opened his eyes and said “Hey baby” it was like life had been breathed back into me. He also said ” If you love me you’ll get me a dip of snuff”, as much as that was infuriating, it was his way of saying I’m OK. He spent several days in the hospital before coming home and it wasn’t enough if you ask me. He had also had complications with his spinal tap and was getting headaches and had to have a blood patch on his spine. He was eager to go back to work and that’s exactly what he did, like it never happened. Its funny how when your the one going through this traumatic situation you get over it, he doesn’t remember most of it and once he felt good it was over for him. For me it will never be over, to this day I worry about all our health more than necessary, every sickness I feel like it could get worse in an instant and it drives me crazy. Winston recovered but I haven’t, I can never forget the images and sounds of what I thought was him dying. I don’t take him for granted anymore, I want everyday and every second I can get with him and our kids and family and friends. You really just never know.
Wow, OK that got kind of sad and dark, but only a few short months after that is when we got to see our baby girl. My parents came down to visit and we went on a ride on the back roads into the mountains. Half way through that ride I had contractions and I knew it was going to be soon. It was election day for the 2012 president, I really didn’t want to have her yet, it seemed like a day of hope for some but also a day of disaster for others. I called Winston to tell him I was in labor, his response,”Can you wait a couple hours we are right in the middle of vet check?” ( He also was wondering if I would be making supper before we left) Ora Sienna Wade came into the world on the following morning and man did she make an entrance. She was fire engine red with jet black hair and weighing in at almost ten pounds. I think everyone was surprised she was so big, except for me, I knew. Watching little Winston hold her for the first time was one of the best moments of my life, something so true and powerful about seeing your children together for the first time. When Winston’s friend Zack and his wife Molly brought their daughter Macie, who had been born the day before, it was quite funny to see Ora dwarf her in size, she looked as if she could have been a month old. Taking her home was so bittersweet. Knowing she would be my last baby was hard, I had come to peace with it but I still wanted more. The days, weeks and months to come were filled with nursing a baby, keeping up with a toddler, keeping the wood stove hot, and minding the calves amongst other things.
It seemed to be a long winter that year and many things changed for us. We were feeling restless again, like we still weren’t exactly where we needed to be. Life had brought us so many spirals in the past year and we were re evaluating everything. Its hard to reflect back on this time because we were happy yet not really happy at all. What I mean is, we were doing what we wanted to do yet we didn’t feel completely fulfilled. A new year was quickly approaching and we needed signs…..from God, from Mother Earth, from the Easter Bunny, just a sign we were headed in the right direction. Signs did come and there was some real change for better or worse.
Halloween, Cutting our Christmas Tree, Calves and Growing up
till the next time
♡ the little farmers that could