the little red schoolhouse…

Close your eyes and picture a small, red schoolhouse sitting in the middle of a ranch looking out onto the most picturesque mountains you can imagine. Kids, chickens, cows and dogs roaming and exploring. Giggling can be heard echoing against the mountains but still a gentle calmness remains present. This is where Winston and Ora had their school beginnings, in the little red schoolhouse on Selle Road.

When we first started our journey with the Carden School, Winston was only 4 and starting kindergarten. I was as nervous as him on the first day. He turned and cried as soon as I went to leave, his teacher Mrs. Peck walked over calmly and wrapped her arms around him and snugly held him. That moment is when I knew we were home. Our Carden has 4 teachers and goes from Preschool to 5th grade. Three of the teachers are sisters ( the beautiful ranchers daughters to be exact ) and the preschool teacher is a mother who loved Carden so much she wanted to teach it as well. Mrs. Reif the oldest of the sisters is one of the most gentle souls to have ever been placed on this earth. Inherently strong-willed she has grace and faith beyond belief in all situations, she is someone who you can feel honored to call a friend or teacher of your child. Mrs. Peck was Winston’s teacher from kindergarten to 2nd grade. She is TOUGH, physically, mentally and tough on the kids but she has molded all her students into the most respectful, thoughtful, intelligent version of themselves and every child loves her for it. Leaving Winston in her hands felt like leaving him with a second mother everyday and she will never know how grateful I am for all she has done for him. Mrs. Cates much like Mrs. Peck is stern but much-loved and admired. She is not only a mother of four young children but fosters children as well, she walks by faith and sets an example to all mothers that can be admired. Even with all her kids activities, church and school she still manages to make it look easy. Ms. Heather was Ora’s preschool teacher and she is exactly what you think of when you think of a preschool teacher. Sweet, kind, pretty, gentle and a little hippie. She wears flowy skirts covered in kids and speaks softly and sweetly to every child and parent. The three years my kids went to school these were my teachers, my peers, my sisters and they were truly a blessing that only the man above can give. These women all walk their paths in his name and their hearts show it everyday. They have guided and molded their students into children that stand tall among others and shine with love, compassion and pride.

On any average day it isn’t strange to find the kids skiing black diamonds on Schweitzer Mountain, Horseback riding at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, biking 30 miles on the Trail of the Hiawatha or Mining star garnets in the mountains of north Idaho. Walking into the school yard you find them dirty, chasing chickens, playing with dogs, and all together loving life. It is the way life should be…adventurous, always learning, always helping others, always happy and free. It is truly a gem among stones and a place that only some could dream of.

The little schoolhouse beams with his glory as well. Every morning they pray, they watch bible study, they thank god for all that they have and it shows in their little sweet souls. When Susan was diagnosed with cancer, she had all the children in Winston’s class praying for her, when things happened in other students lives they prayed, praying and living in gods image was a way of life in the little schoolhouse and I know it not only brought peace to my children, but brought a calming sense of faith to me as well.

I will never forget our little red Carden school and I know it will live inside my kids for all the rest of their lives. It is the best place I could have ever asked for my children to start their humble beginnings in. It is beauty, adventure, faith…. but most of all LOVE. After all isn’t that what life is all about?

till next time

the little farmers that could

And now here we are…

We are here. Here we are. We are living life and everyday passes just like the last. It seems we have fell into the mundane, boring world like so many do. Winston goes to work, I clean the house, cook supper and tend to the kids. We are here.

Funny thing about a passion though….it doesn’t go away, it doesn’t leave you ever, not for a second. It consumes your thoughts and emotions and all your insides become indebted to it. When we left Virginia and farming and everything we had acquired along the way it was all in belief and hope for a better life, one where we would have our own home and farm. We do not currently have a farm nor a home that is ours and it’s easy to become discouraged and complacent. We moved from my parents to a 5 acre lot with an old house and a noisy road. It’s spring and I want my huge garden and baby animals showing up regularly. We have been sick for almost a month now, Winston and I both fell prey to pneumonia followed by walking pneumonia and the recovery has been long and hard. We rarely see each other because of all he works and I miss the days of walking fence together and milking while the sun came up. Hell I even miss him sitting in his chair drinking a beer while I weed the garden.

I was sick for my birthday this year but I received a gift the day before that was priceless to our family and has given us hope again, and a renewed take on our journey. Winston’s mom is officially cancer free and the weight that has been on our hearts has finally let up. We are alive and healthy. (sort of…but hopefully we are on the tail end of pneumonia now) We can do whatever we want with our lives…we are not slave to anyone or anything although we have allowed ourselves to believe otherwise. It is our time to make big moves or not to make any move, if we fail again..so what, there is also the chance we will get exactly what we have been looking for.

We decided to stay where we are and to give it a real chance, not just the complacent, half a** chance we have so far. In February when our lease is up we will make our big decision. We will make a plan for our future location/life and another amazing adventure will begin I’m sure.

When I started the blog my hope was that by the time I got to the present day we would be farming full time and I would share with our friends, family and hopefully customers our daily life on the farm. I must admit I haven’t written because I’ve felt like I have nothing to write if we aren’t farming. But we do. We still do everything but milk cows so why wouldn’t I share how we are raising our little country bumpkins, or tips and tricks on how we are preserving our food and our families heritage at the same time. For those who aren’t interested they won’t read what we have to say.  But for those who are we will be here.

We have been waiting and looking for our chance, our big break for so long that we lost sight of the fact we want to do it on our own and starting small on our own is probably our only hope. So getting ready for posts about jam and canning and cross stitching and country ham making and gardening and most importantly our crazy and entertaining young’ins.

We are slowly going to build up to our future inch by inch. Winston’s dreams of milking cows and milling flour and my dream of a farm life that can produce anything and everything will come in time. I swear two of the saddest days in Winston’s life were the day his dad sold their mill and the day we left Joe’s. Every bit of me wants our farm but I want it even more so for Winston. I have never seen anyone in my entire life with as much will power, determination (or stubbornness whichever you want to call it) and hard work ethic than him. He deserves to live his dream, he has paid his dues unlike so many who are handed everything. Its like the bumper sticker on the back of his old, dirty truck says, “Dreams don’t work unless you do”. They just don’t make them like him anymore. Sometimes it feels good to be the underdogs, you don’t disappoint and every little bit is an accomplishment. For now life feels hopeful……..and scary and unsure and beautiful, but its all our journey and looking back it’s a pretty amazing one.

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” -Sigmund Freud

till the next time…

the little farmers that could

The Beauty and the Breakdown…

Idaho was gorgeous, it was exactly like I had imagined. We didn’t have any of our belongings but we were beyond happy and content. It was sunny and everything was green and lush, every morning there was elk in the backyard and the sky was as big as everyone says. It was family time all the time. I’m always my happiest when we are all together. Winston didn’t have a job yet and we spent our days exploring and getting our garden set up. We of course got animals quicker than most probably would have, but that’s just us, it may not be what some would say is responsible or the “right” way but its our way and I LOVE IT! We got a puppy, a pound pup we named Kai. She is suppose to be half German Shepard and half Lab but she never really grew too big so we aren’t sure if that was really the case. She was the sweetest puppy ever and she’s grown up to be the ugliest/cutest dog you’ve ever seen, but we love her beyond words. Then came chickens, piglets and calves. Yes we go big or go home but we love having animals and our garden, it makes us happy so why not as long as we are taking care of it all. We spent days tilling the earth with the kids following behind picking up rocks and it was the first time I was complete since Joe’s. Winston was with us and we were safe. Winston makes me feel safe not just in a protection way but in a whole way. I can’t put it into words, just a sort of comfort that you can only get from your significant other, your mama and your very best friend. We would drive up into the wilderness and found beautiful treasures of nature and love was the theme of everyday for all of us.

I knew that at some point Winston would have to get a job and life would change and when that time came he was fortunate enough to find a job that could become a career and something he could and would thrive in. On a limb he stopped by a local meat processing plant to talk about processing our calves and he left with a job offer. When Winston started he quickly realized that this job had room for growth and advancement and he took full opportunity of it. He worked as hard and as many hours as they allowed and he found his place there and felt content. I was sad to see him leave us again but we still spent our days exploring and soaking it all in.

Driving around one day waiting to pick up Winston from work we were on the other side of the ranch and I noticed a little red schoolhouse in the distance. It was the sweetest thing I’d ever seen set in a little patch of field on the ranch. We pulled in just to take a closer look and realized there was people there. That day we signed Winston up for the Carden School and it was the best thing we could have ever done. That school has become a family to us and they have taught both my children so much in such a short time.

In July my parents, my brother and his girlfriend finally got to Idaho. The day they moved in was followed by a scary storm that wreaked havoc on the area causing us to be out of power for over a week. What can you do at that point but laugh..we had 8 people, 3 dogs, 2 cats in one house and no power. In late summer we went home for Winston’s sister Ella’s wedding and after coming home we still felt like we had made the right decision to come out west.

After everyone got settled summer seemed to come and go and Winston started school. It took a couple weeks for him to get totally comfortable, but once he did he wanted to go to school all day, everyday. It was great but I missed him terribly and big Winston too, it was sad but I tried to focus on Ora as much as possible. During this time I felt fine, I was just going through life like any other mother, exhausted but fine. In November I got shingles which I thought was strange. The doctor said usually stress is a factor but I didn’t feel stressed. Shingles was pretty damn awful but I got over it and between the kids birthdays and Christmas there was lots going on. Christmas day we took little Winston to the emergency room with croup he could barely take a breath and he had never really been sick before. It felt somewhat like it ruined Christmas for me but he was ok and that’s all that mattered. It scared me, all the sickness downright scared me. We had been in a bubble when we were farming, we weren’t exposed to people so in turn we never really got sick, other than the meningitis of course.

Winter came and went and in April after a long stint of sickness between both me and Winston and the kids I started to feel strange. I had a headache for days and my heart started to race, I thought I was going to pass out every couple minutes. This feeling just worsened as the days went on. In late April we were going to go to Banff for my birthday, we loaded up, got 3 hours from home into Canada and we had to turn around. It was embarrassing and upsetting for me and the kids but I could not get a grip, I felt like I was going to explode. After trips to doctors, the emergency room and talking to friends and family I realized I was having anxiety and panic attacks.

Everything was compounded when we found out that my great aunt and Winston’s mom both had cancer. The word cancer makes me want to vomit. It spurs pure fear in me because of the way it has affected us recently. My aunt was older and although it was beyond sad and hard to hear about her suffer, at least she had lived a full life for the most part. Susan, Winston’s mom was another story. She is now a stage 3 breast cancer survivor but the initial diagnosis and all that followed sent us all for a loop. I’ve said in previous posts Susan is my second mom. She is so important to me and my life. She has been there for me and had my back since day one. She was always kind and understanding with any and all of our choices and supportive as could be. So you can imagine how both me and Winston handled the news especially being so far away. I started to have severe panics attacks everyday.

This is beyond hard for me to write about but it’s my truth and I had no control over it. I had always been the person to somewhat judge others with depression and anxiety. I thought just get over it. Well now I know, you don’t just get over it, you carry it with you forever like a scar to your soul. The entire month of May I ate next to nothing, I could barely function and at times couldn’t at all. I was a shell of myself. Winston was in school and my mom was essentially taking care of Ora everyday for me. I felt like I was never coming back from the hole I had fell into. I was scared Susan wouldn’t be ok, I missed the Winstons, I missed family back home and I was scared of life, and the unknown. There was no reason for this to be happening, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t break this awful cycle I was stuck in. I was a guinea pig of medications for a month. I am not a medicine person and it was against my better judgment but I was desperate for help, relief, anything. After that month with no relief I stopped all medication. I knew if I was going to get better it had to be from deep with in me and little changes at a time. I am not saying that is the right way or that medicine is not good but for me it wasn’t my saving grace. Having my mom was the only way I was able to pull though as soon as I did. She helped me in every aspect she could and it was painful for her to see me in such pain, but she was my strength. I hope that one day I will be able to be there for my children like she was for me.

I had a nervous breakdown that spring. The doctors called it anxiety but I know what it was, it was a nervous breakdown. It had been building in me for years, what I thought was being strong was actually just repressing all the things I had been through in my life. It was things I had experienced as a teenager, it was Winston’s meningitis, it was the loss of a baby, death of loved ones, wrong decisions, it was life. It came out of me like a tidal wave and there was no controlling it. When I finally did start to get a grip on it I had to accept that I wasn’t weak, I had just been humbled. I wasn’t invincible, either were my family and friends and that’s what is the beauty and tragedy about life.

By June when Winston got out of school I was able to function again and little by little I got stronger and stronger. I was down almost 25 lbs in a month and I looked drained but I was on the up side grasping to get back to normal. What I have learned from all this is that normal then and normal now are not the same. I am stronger then I have ever been, but I am not blind to pain and sadness like I used to be. I feel things now and sometimes it’s sad or it hurts but I know I can survive it. I have become closer to God, I find comfort in that and I have a better appreciation of myself and what I have overcome in my life. I’m proud of who I am, the mother I am, the wife, the daughter, the friend. It was a lesson I needed although hard to learn and now I’m working on being my best self.

Once I felt somewhat “normal” again we enjoyed a summer full of sunny days at the lake and playing outside from sun up to sun down. In the fall both kids started school at the little red schoolhouse and life went on. Now we are here. We moved out to our own place closer to the kids school and Winston’s work. We are trying to sort through life and figure out what the future holds for us. We know one thing for sure. We want to farm and we will farm, however and wherever that needs to be. That is the goal, the dream. Our future is farming together and enjoying life as a family, cause in the end that’s all there really is.

till the next time

♡ the little farmers that could

Idaho or Bust…

Before we got on the road out west we went down to Virginia and said our final goodbyes to my beloved farmhouse. We packed our truck to the brim and headed out onto the open road. Luckily both Winston and Ora have always been so good traveling it didn’t seem stressful or rough it was just another ride for us. From Roanoke, VA we traveled west in hopes to get as close as we could to Kansas City, KS in one day. Over the mountains and through the woods we trucked along singing songs and eating snacks. Driving through the Appalachian Mountains it was so hard to say goodbye to all the little shanty shacks up on hills and grassy hills covered in sheep and cows. We stayed in the country for a good while till we finally reached more city like areas. It gave me the proper time I needed to breathe in the air and take in all its beauty. Winston’s sister Grace lives in Kansas City and our plan was to make it close to her so we could take a break/visit to break up day 2. After 16 or so hours we made it to a hotel a couple hours from Graces house, it was amazing to get out of the car and stretch and we felt good about our first days mileage.

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Our traveling caravan
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Ready for an advenure
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Excited (winstons face though)
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Babydoll
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Snacking
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They were so good the whole trip
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Sad to say goodbye…
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Cousin love

Day 2 we got to Kansas City in time to eat lunch with Grace, her husband Mike and their son Liam. It was the first time we had been to their new home in Kansas but more importantly it was good to see them. Winston is one of five kids and they have all recently scattered across the country and it is always so good to reconnect and be able to hug them and spend time together. It always feels like your home when your with family even if it’s a place you’ve never been before. We would have loved to stay for much longer than we were able to. It’s never easy cutting a visit short but we were pretty anxious to get back to the grind and hopefully make it to Colorado by evening. Kansas doesn’t get a whole lot of love from most people, but I must say those never ending fields and long dirt roads down to little old farmhouses are america at it finest. Its the heart and soul of what our country was built on and its good to see it. Colorado brought snow capped peaks far out in the distance and dry arid valley with long stretches of road. Night 2 we were flat out exhausted, the kids were pretty tired of sitting in the car and we were anxious to get Idaho and get settled. We made an effort every night to get a hotel with a pool and at least let the kids swim and get a little movement in for the day.

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Kansas Plains Wind Power
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The sound was so loud from them
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Colorado and Wyoming were alot of this
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Our haunted hotel in Cheyenne
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The Wrangler!
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Winston was so excited to get his boots
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It took a long time to make the final choice
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Proud Cowboy
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Boots everywhere

Day 3 we decided to get as far as Cheyenne, Wyoming. Little Winston is a cowboy in his soul, and Cheyenne Frontier Days is every cowboys dream. We might not have been there for Frontier Days but it was every bit as magical to Winston. We had promised Winston all along the way that he could get his first pair of real leather cowboy boots in Cheyenne and he was not disappointed when we walked into THE WRANGLER. They had every boot you have ever imagined and he was in heaven, it took him about 30 minutes to find the perfect pair and those boots didn’t come off his feet for a year and a half. He was enamored by everything Cheyenne had to offer, it is a true western town and everything is cowboy. We stayed at an old historic hotel there that is supposedly haunted but we didn’t see or hear anything and after a goods night sleep we were headed north.

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Sleepy
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“The Boots”

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Great little resturaunt

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We took many turns driving in Wyoming

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Finally the tetons

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Elk

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Buffalo

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The Lexington

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Day 4 we drove through no mans land. We would go for stretches of nothing for hours, no houses, hotels, gas stations, nothing. It was beautiful and a sight to be seen but also exhausting looking at the same scenery for hours on end and we switched off driving several times when the other would get tired. When the first beautiful snow capped mountain peaks came into sight I immediately knew we were getting close to the Tetons, in my opinion one of the most majestic mountain ranges you will ever see. Driving higher and higher in elevation we finally were in the heart of the Grand Tetons and we were lovin every minute. We saw Elk, Buffalo and a Moose all within an hour and everyone went from exhausted to enthralled in no time at all. When we got out of the park and drove into Jackson Hole we came upon the Lexington hotel and thought it was fitting for us to try to get a room there first. They offered us a two day special and we were able to relax for a little while and enjoy our surrounding completely. We spent all day exploring town and taking pictures, the weather was beautiful and you couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces. We ate a nice supper and snuggled up ready to make the rest of our trip just as special as the day we had just had.

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Winston was in his glory with everything cowboy

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Beautiful mounts everywhere
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and Pelts

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My cowboy

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Every country girl needs a gingham bathsuit

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Day 5 waking up to the orange and pink painted mountains was everything we had hoped for from the west. We spent the day swimming in the pool and buying trinkets from the trading post. We had made our plan to make it to Missoula the following day and then our new home. We got a breathe of fresh air and our outlook was positive and excited. That night I went to bed with the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders and felt like we were on our way to our destiny.

Day 6 was hard to convince the kids to get back in the car seats but we winded up through the beautiful Montana landscape to Missoula. When we got to our hotel the C’mon Inn we got supper and swam in the pool but all I could think about was how close to our new home we finally were. That night little Winston got a fever and threw up, we gave him some medicine and he slept it off but it put a damper on my euphoria and gave me a knot in my stomach.

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First time we had ever seen our new home in real life

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Day 7 we knew we had a pretty desolate ride to get home so we took Winston to urgent care to clear him for the trip. He felt much better and the Doctor said he was just fine to travel and we headed out on our last stretch toward home. We were only 4 hours away but it was a desolate drive with nothing more than little tiny towns every hour or so. Beautiful ranches and farms everywhere and mountains with creeks from them it was absolutely breathtaking. We were getting close when we hit a large lake that we know call home. Lake Ponderay, as we drove over long bridge ( a very long bridge that crosses in the middle of the lake surrounded by mountains on all sides) I was feeling home already. When we got to where we were just minutes away the suspense could have killed me. We finally pulled up to our new life, after a week on the road living out of our truck we were here. We had no sooner walked through the door when Winston complained of not feeling well again. I found our thermometer and took his temperature guessing he was 102 maybe 103 and 104.2 popped up. We shut the door we had just stepped though and headed to the hospital our very first moments of being home had been quickly shaken and changed. That’s life though..isn’t it? I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that it never goes the way you want, but that’s all part of the plan, you may not know why but its all whats meant to be. By the grace of god Winston did not have any serious issues, he was sick and he had a fever, and then Ora got sick and she had a fever. And our moving truck didn’t come till a week over when they said they would be arriving, and we slept on an air mattress in the living room. But ya know what…that’s life and that’s what happened. Most importantly we were all OK and we were about to embark on our new journey, good or bad.

 

till the next time

the little farmers that could

 

 

 

Rockbridge to the Rockies…

Spring came and so did more calves. Spring may not be my favorite season but it’s pretty magical when you think about it. Eveything is coming back to life before your eyes and it almost feels like a new beginning for everything after winter. Winston was still full force at the farm and although I had not been back in the cheese shop I was plenty busy. One of the biggest things I took from working for Fred and Christie was that I wanted to be on the farm not in the cheese shop everyday. Although I liked making cheese I hated being stuck inside. I wanted to be milking and be all together on the farm. Sometimes you just don’t know what you want until you live it and now that I knew, it opened our eyes to what we wanted for the future more than ever.

I stayed home with the kids and tended to the garden and calves, I spent a good portion of my day nursing Ora and it was nice to be able to have that time with her. I wasn’t on a schedule so I was able to enjoy the little things and savor every moment. When Winston brought home new calves I would bottle feed them and little Winston was the official herdsmen when daddy wasn’t home. Our garden was a full time job and we threw ourselves full throttle into farmers markets with both dairy products and the veal.

When Winston brought that first calf home I’ll admit I was both skeptical and nervous. There is such a strong reaction to veal and we didn’t know anything about how to raise them or if there would even be a demand for it. We did quite a bit of research and decided we would raise them on the extra milk from the dairy and allow them to graze and be free at all times. *Short lesson on the veal industry. Veal became hated for its mistreatment of the animals, most commercial veal farms were buying often times sickly calves the day they were born and then subjecting them to an awful life before being slaughtered. Sometimes hung in hammocks to produce a more tender meat and deprived of iron and other supplements so the meat would stay light or white in color and even heavily medicated right up until slaughter. Most animals were slaughter at days or few weeks old and all together it is a pretty horrible process. We chose to do it differently. We let our calves be together, to graze freely, drink water, run, walk or do whatever they wanted. They didn’t need steroids or antibiotics because they were healthy receiving their mothers colostrum and milk throughout there lives and bringing the animals to 500 lbs and and 7 plus months. We were pretty excited to see how beautiful the meat was after harvesting our first animal and to our surprise people were interested, actually really interested.  We were carried in resturaunts,  the local meat shop and we were doing great at farmers markets with it. It was really rewarding to see it all coming together and we were making some good money on it all.

The summer quickly came and my garden was producing high volumes,  I felt like the canning factory at times. I love canning, especially salsa and jams there is just nothing else like it. It gives me a sense on peace and can be quite therapeutic at times for me. The kids were baptized, we had some parties, visited Poppy’s farm and went fishing. In late summer while at a market in DC my parents called to say they had gotten an opportunity. They had recently been out to Idaho on vacation and while there they had looked at small farm I had seen on the Internet. They met the owner of the property, a somewhat eccentric older man and weeks later he called them to say he had been giving a message from above that my parents were the ones that needed to have the farm. The moment they told me I felt all the blood drain out of my body. I knew there was going to be some serious decisions to make about our future and where we wanted to be. It feels like every time we get somewhat settled we are thrown a curve ball, a choice that will change our future significantly. It always seems like a sign to me, something that should be followed and explored. Maybe I read them wrong, maybe I don’t but over the next several months my parents were able to purchase the property and we decided to follow.

We worked and maintained our normal routine until December when we decided to go north to spend some time with my family. It was strange to be leaving again and we were somewhat disappointed that we felt like we were letting Fred and Christie down. Sometimes you just have to make decisions that suck and this was one of them. I was not our future and we didn’t know exactly what that meant but we were anxious to try something new. I got a job at a fine dining restaurant at a ski resort near my parents house and we stayed with them until March. It was a rough time I was working very long hours and I was exhausted all week, Winston was exhausted from looking after the kids while I was at work and we were both anxious to get westward bound. Both my parents and us put our homes on the market, ours sold first and we were ready to leave in April after spending Easter with Grammy and Poppy. It was beyond hard to say goodbye to everyone it was the farthest we had ever been and we knew it would be a while till we met again. It was one of the saddest days of my life saying goodbye to my farmhouse, but we were excited for the adventure that lie ahead. After some tearful goodbyes and loading up our truck like some hillbilly circus we were finally off to the great unknown.

till the next time…

♡the little farmers that could

Cheese, Calves, A House and A Baby…

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

A Gettysburg Address…

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Our new home.

Winston had been employed as a farm manager for a local dairy called Getty Acres. Smaller than Idaho yet bigger than Joe’s or Ann and Neal’s, it was the first rotational parlor Winston had worked with. It was a large farm and there was a big, old farmhouse next to the barn for us to live in. I loved the house and the idea of living on the farm again but that wasn’t exactly how it started off. The house was being renovated and we had to start off in an apartment in the heart of Gettysburg. Not just any apartment though, it was the building next to the very spot where Abraham Lincoln had wrote the Gettysburg Address. Unfortunately it was also above a Chinese food restaurant. Not exactly the start we had hoped for, but we were ready to make the best of it. It was just a tiny 1 bedroom apartment on the third floor and just as soon as our last box crested the doorway, so did Winston off to the farm.

I was pretty bummed at first, I was really looking forward to being on the farm again, having lunches with Winston and having a big garden. We only had one vehicle at the time so Winston took it to work everyday, which meant me and little Winston were left to our own devices. Day 1 I spent organizing the apartment and getting settled, I also watched people out the window navigating the square ( a roundabout in the middle of town that is pretty historical ). Day 2 I decided it was time for an adventure. I strapped little Winston into his stroller and we saw ALL of Gettysburg. We must of walked 20 miles that day, I found the grocery store I liked, some good resturaunts and the bank amongst other things. Everyday after that as soon as Winston left we were off to find new and exciting places and things to see. Although the history and beauty of the old buildings and cemeteries was great, it lost its appeal pretty quickly.

Meanwhile Winston was pretty unhappy at work himself. It was a lot of stress and he didn’t like not being able to know the cows like he had at Joe’s or Neal’s, there was just too many and it was more commercially run. We both hated apartment/city life. There was very little free time for us at all. Although there is never much free time with farming, what makes it admirable is that you can farm and spend time together as a family. Living in the apartment, that wasn’t an option and we were really anxious to get in the house. Only several weeks into our time in Gettysburg we had lunch with Fred and Christie. The same Christie I had worked for when I was pregnant with Winston. They had been doing very well with their dairy and their cheese business and they offered us the opportunity we had been waiting for. They were willing to let us build a herd and a business on their farm in return for Winston’s help with the farm and cows.

It was everything we had been wishing and praying for. It meant going back to where we started in Rockbridge but I had loved working with Christie and Winston had known them a long time and trusted them. It seemed strange to go back there to farm for someone other than Joe, but for both of us we were looking at the big picture for our family. So after a month in Gettysburg we were packing up our boxes and heading back south. We choose not to tell hardly anyone we were headed back home until we got there, I’m sure it was quite a surprise when we showed back up. In the next 2 years we would have many ups and downs and we would learn lessons and skills we will take with us forever.

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You know those “I went to …. and all I got was this stupid     t-shirt” this is how I feel about this picture. We went to Gettysburg and all we got was this picture. This was done like they really did them back during the civil war, a real tin picture done with with natural light, an authentic camera and tin. Its the only picture I have from Gettysburg, the others all got lost in one of our moves.

Till the next time….

♡ the little farmers that could