Friday, June 19, 2015

8 Months {Hayva Joy}

We are home from our trip and I will be posting more on that later. For now, I just have to catch you up on Miss Hayva Joy. She turned 8 months back on the 15th while we were away and this past month has been big for her.

She popped two teeth out our first day at the beach! Even now she likes to run her little tongue over them. So cute!

She is sitting unassisted, crawling and pulling up on things. Unlike her older siblings who army crawled for the longest time, Hayva popped up on those knees right off the bat! She is loving this new found ability to get into things- much to her big brother’s dismay. Another good reason for me to keep things picked up and the floors vacuumed. J She is pulling up on things and the other morning I found her up on her knees in her crib. She is pretty proud of herself.

We spent a lot of time in the pool at Nana and Opa’s and this girl loves the water! She was completely happy to hang out in whoever’s arms and splash with her little arms. She had a blast!

She is the messiest little eater I think I’ve ever seen. If there is anything going on while you are trying to feed her you can just forget about it. She is the most distracted little person.

Hayva loves to be outside and all the animals. She is a little chatter box and is always spitting or making little noises. She is our happiest baby and the squirmiest. Trying to dress her is like trying to put clothes on a wild animal, covered in butter, while trying to walk a tight rope. She is wild! Miss Hayva is hardly ever happy to just be still and has dumped several dinner plates into people’s laps while being help at the table.

She is so much fun right now and her little belly laugh is simply the best. Happy 8 months my love!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rain. Fence. Rain.

I was finally able to post these from several weeks ago...
A small field turned pond just past our driveway.
The past couple of weeks we have spent every free minute working on the fence for the sheep. Sebron and I are famous for biting off more than we can chew and we decided to get the sheep before we had the fence up…Brilliant. We had a small working pen set up, but nothing permanent with grass. We kept them there for two weeks while we wormed and vaccinated them.

A sinkhole in one of the back pastures. Over 50 feet deep.
We’ve worked through all of Sebron’s lunch hours and as soon as the kids are in bed we head out and work until we can’t see any more. It’s frustrating when things don’t move along smoothly- Sebron has to work late, tools break, kids are crying, weather. It has rained for a solid week. We spent an hour one afternoon in the pouring rain moving the sheep to higher ground because they were literally swimming.

We finally finished the first field. It was a beautiful sight turning them out and seeing all those fluffy sheep enjoying the grass! I didn’t hear one peep out of them all day. We have two other areas to fence off before we are done. We are headed into another week of rain.
Building fence. Each post hole dug by hand and then set with quickcrete.

We are learning not to stress, to take things as they come. The fences will get built. We’ll get things done. Until then, it’s important to take breaks to jump on the trampoline with the kids, to make brownies and read a bedtime story.
Waiting on Seeb to bring more posts...

I’m enjoying this exciting time with my man as we try our hand at something new.
Behind the house. So much water.
I wrote that over a week ago although it feels like a month. We’ve had another solid week of rain. Rain like I’ve never seen here in Texas. We’ve had over 20 inches so far. People have been flooded out of their homes. Whole roads washed away.

We’ve had tornado warnings and watches every single day. My phone went off constantly with flood warnings. The kids slept down in our room most of the week. The storms have been bad but thankfully nothing serious where we are. We hid out under the stairs twice. I’m so thankful for the Lord’s protection.

These are full days. Animals, kids, fencing, cleaning and parenting take up every moment. I crawl into bed each night exhausted physically and mentally. My muck boots are my best friends these days.
Another sign on an old peice of barnwood.

One of my favorite things lately has been our bedtime ritual. We all pile on our bed and act out Bible stories. Our favorite is David and Goliath. Jancsi is always Goliath because he likes to dramatically fall on the bed. I’m David, Sebron is the Philistines and Lulu is the Israelites. So fun! Jancsi begs to do it over and over.

Nothing brings me greater joy than to see him excited about God’s Word!      

About time...

I know what the grandparents are thinking...about time for a blog post! lol I've been trying! I have three posts written and saved on my computer but our internet has been anything but friendly lately! I'll try to get them all posted and catch everyone up when my internet allows!
My laundry room is housing our newest batch of laying chicks. Jancsi wanted some blue eggs, so I picked up six Ameraucanas. They are still cute at just a week old, their chirping fills my kitchen with happy sounds that add to the crazy. The scorpions are back and I’ve had to start taking a flashlight with me when I go upstairs to feed the baby at night. I’m not going to lie… not looking forward to dealing with them this summer with a new crawling little one.
We have had over 20 inches of rain in the past two weeks with 8-12 more expected by the end of this week. Severe thunderstorms, flashfloods, sinkholes, tornado watches and warnings…It’s been a full, wet spring and I’m ready to say goodbye to the continual dark skies and hello to some sunshine.

When I'm not wrangling kids, sheep, chickens or building fence, I'm painting signs! Bringing several back to NC with us for different people!
We are officially in the egg selling business as our hens have started laying! The kids and I sold 7 dozen the other day while we were in town. I posted them on facebook and people met us at the library while we were there for story time.

We have the first of three pens built for the sheep. Seeb and I are working every spare minute in between the rain drops and sometimes in them to get the second fence up before our trip to North Carolina that is coming up. As long as the weather holds, we are out till after dark each night.

Our little flock comes running when they see me. They are all shedding right now and look a little bedraggled!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Glamorous Ranch Life

This past week has been somewhat of a low one. I try to be as transparent as possible on here,  so I want to document the lows just as much as the highs. I get messages all the time on facebook saying how glamorous and dreamy our life looks…the animals, the land, the culture that we are immersed in. I’m sure it does to the outsider looking in. Who doesn’t love cute baby calves and bottle feeding goats and collecting eggs right outside your door? It is dreamy- it’s our dream, and we are blessed to live it. But I can also say honestly that I know every farmer and rancher will tell you the same thing…it’s work. It’s not all sunshine and bunny kisses.

Last Wednesday just days after joining our family, our livestock guardian puppy, Hoss, was diagnosed with parvo. I was naively under the impression that once they had started puppy shots they were somewhat protected. Hoss came having already gotten his first round of shots which had included the parvo vaccine. He came with paperwork with the shots and dates he’d received them. I already had an appointment later in the week for him to get his next round. I took him in early because he wasn’t acting himself and something in me knew something was up.  He tested positive right away and our options were to take him home and try to keep his fluids up and hope for the best, or leave him at the vet for rigid IV treatments. We decided to try two days at the vet before taking him home. They gave him a 50% chance of making it.

I called the lady I’d gotten him from since the vet said he’d obviously contacted the disease at her place since he hadn’t been at ours long enough to show signs. She sounded surprised and had already sold the rest of the puppies. She said she would call the other buyers to let them know. I’m not sure she did that though because she never answered any of my texts or calls when I tried the next few days. I am not sure if she knew the puppies were sick or lied about the shots or if it was just an honest kick of nature.

Hoss spent three days at the vet before we picked him up. I was hoping to find him somewhat better, even a wag of the tail would have convinced me we might still have a chance. But he just looked at me with sad eyes and sat in a weak heap on my floorboards as I drove home. He was skinny since he hadn’t eaten in days. I made a nice spot for him on the back porch and kept his fluids up all that day by syringe. I got a few wags of the tail but not much. I wanted to keep fighting for him but it seemed like he was hurting at this point.

It got chilly that night so we brought him into the laundry room and I got up several times that night to give him meds and fluids. Twice I woke up and found he had jumped out of his box in the laundry room and found his way into our bedroom. He was lying by the bed.  It seemed like already at his young age he’d taken up his role as guardian strongly. It was like he knew we were there and wanted to be there with us. As much as I hated to, I put him back in the laundry room. He was having horrible diarrhea and I didn’t want it all over the house.  

I lay there in bed praying in the early hours of the morning. Asking the Lord to show us when it was time to stop fighting. If he was going to make it, make it obvious, and if not, show us. First thing in the morning I got up to give him his meds and found him stretched out and really struggling. He was completely limp and unresponsive. I started crying because I knew it was time. He was done fighting and was letting us know.

I’m forever thankful that Sebron is a stronger person than me. People say I’m tough, but I’m a blubbering mess when it comes to losing an animal we’ve fought so hard for. Sebron took him outside and put him down and the kids and I went out later to help bury him.

The next day Sebron came down with the stomach bug, and I followed shortly after. These last few days we’ve been surviving on ritz crackers and trying to parent while not getting too close… We’ve watched tons of Disney movies and taken turns feeding animals and kids. Feeding sheep and rabbits doesn’t sound so glamorous when you’re feeling rotten and puking does it?

So, we’ve gotten nothing done. The fence needs to be finished, the eggs need to be washed, we miss our puppy and all we’ve been able to do is sit around in our pj’s feeling blue.

Thankful for new mercies every morning, emails from friends at midnight when you’re up sick and can’t sleep, kids who have been awesome, being able to eat real food today! God is good all the time! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

6 Months {Hayva Joy}

So I totally missed Hayva’s 6 month half birthday back on the 15th. Poor third child.

Miss Hayva is so full of smiles and literally grins from ear to ear. Her little blue eyes have kept their beautiful blue and are so sparkly!
Her hair is finally coming in and when she’s fresh from the bath it’s soft and fluffy on top. Her little bald spot is starting to fill in too.

I officially moved her to her room and crib upstairs this week and packed up the pack and play today. I was somewhat dreading her going upstairs… I always hang on to that worry the baby will need me and I wont hear her. Also because of her horrible sleep patterns, I was not looking forward to climbing the stairs all night. Thankfully, after a few nights of sleep training she has graduated to only getting up 4 times a night! This seems horrible, and there is still room for LOTS of improvement, but this is huge for us! I’m rejoicing!

We are eating more solids! She loves food but is SO stinkin’ distracted by her big brother and sister it is like a major act of congress to get the food in her mouth and not all over her. Even a decent meal has her covered with quit a bit of food. Those arms never stop waving and that little squirmy body never stops twisting to see what’s going on! Even Sebron says it’s exhausting!

Hayva loves to be outside and especially enjoys all the animals. I love watching her observe them. Her little legs get to kicking as she takes them all in.

She is happy to play on her tummy most of the day at this point. I’m working with her on sitting but that is not her favorite activity at this point! She isn’t showing any signs of crawling yet and just pushes up on her arms and then does the superman.

She was 15.5 pounds and 26.5 inches at her last appointment. She is wearing mostly 9 month clothes and even has some 12 month outfits she fits in comfortably. That little tushy is in a size 3 diaper!

Oh my goodness I cannot get enough of her! Happy 6 months baby girl! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Nana & Opa's visit

We were so blessed to have my parents out for a week over Sebron’s birthday. Jancsi graciously gave up his bedroom during their stay and bunked in with Laughter (much to both their delight!).

We had amazing weather the entire visit which had us outside most of the time. I am not going to lie, I felt spoiled having two extra sets of eyes to keep up with the kids! Dad worked so hard putting together my chicken tractor and chicken house. He made them out of old pallets I’d picked up so his job was all the most difficult because he had to take them all apart. I’m so blessed with a Dad who loves us enough to come and work during his vacation. Nana and Opa came bringing birthday gifts for all our spring birthday babies and the kids were thrilled!

I really noticed a huge change in Laughter this visit. It was fun to see her calling my parents Nana and Opa and really interacting and having a relationship. It’s so hard when we live so far away from family. Jancsi went from seeing grandparents a few times a month (while we were in NC) to living here and seeing them twice a year. Laughter never had that opportunity to build a strong relationship like Jancsi did, so it has been so fun to see her really enjoying our visits with grandparents lately!

Mom spoiled me with clean laundry every day and amazing dinners! And, just like Meme, she stocked our pantry with wonderful goodies and special treats! Mom and Dad treated Sebron and I to our first kid free date since before Hayva was born! It was such a wonderful time to just get away, eat dinner and just be the two of us for a few hours. Opa had the magic touch and got Hayva to take a bottle and rocked her to sleep!

Our week went by all too quickly and long before we wanted to, we were dropping them off at the airport. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Sheep listen to my voice

This blog has been suffering. I've fallen way behind in my posts and have a LOT to catch up on! We have been busy. Real busy. If you follow me on instagram you know we have started collecting all sorts of critters… It started with the goats. Then I traded a custom farm sign for three rabbits. Then just recently, there’s the sheep…Oh sheep.

It all started when our friend and old employer mentioned to us that mutton was in high demand and if we wanted to raise some sheep, he could sell all the meat we could do. We casually talked about it and then let it drop. A frew days later Sebron brought it up again so we talked some more. I began doing just a bit of research online and seeing what was in our area. I grew up working on a farm with sheep but I’d never had any personally. My opinion of sheep were pretty low to be honest. I saw them as wooly dumb creatures that were a pain to work with due to their stupidity. In my opinion, goats were (are) so much better! ;)

Anyway, we prayed together on it for a few days and I continued to do research. I started leaning toward Dorpers, a South African breed known for their feed efficiency (they grow quickly) and excellent meat quality. They are hardy compared to other sheep breeds and do well in heat. Another cool thing about them is they are a hair sheep and shed their coat so you don’t have to sheer them. Score!

The more I read about Dorpers the more I was sold on them. They are able to breed year round so you get more lambs per year. I began looking for ranches that raised them. Everyone was hours from us. Father west. I looked at several craiglist listings but they were either mutt sheep or the people were wanting an arm and a leg for them. We continued praying and just asked the Lord that if it was His will that He would lead us and open a door.

The next day I randomly stumbled on a post on craigslist that the guy had literally just put up. He had full blood dorpers and was only an hour from us. I called him and while we talked he said he had 6 people text and call saying they wanted them. He told me since I’d called first he would hold them for me if I wanted them. (Nobody ever holds things on cragslist around here!) So, I called Sebron up, told him I’d found some sheep and that night after work we all piled in with trailer in tow and headed out to look at them.

On our way we prayed that the Lord would make it so clear to us if we were to move forward to get the sheep. And that if not, we would not have a peace. We get there and the guy has a very strong accent. I couldn’t figure out where he was from. But When SEbron asked him how he got started in Dorpers the guy told us he was South African and had brought the sheep with him when he moved here! (Remember they are originally from SA?!) Well I totally took that as a sign! Lol I mean how cool is that! It was obvious that he had taken excellent care of his flock and had worked for ten years to get the genetics the way he wanted. Now on the phone, he had told me a price and that maybe he would do a deal if we took all ten sheep that he was selling. The price was good, lower then what I’d been seeing but still a lot when you’re talking of getting ten! After about an hour of talking to the guy, asking questions and all, he tells us he’ll let us have them for this price…. It was HALF the price he had told me on the phone!! Not only that but he said he was going to throw in another ewe for free!! Thank you God for a clear sign!!

We drove home that night with our new flock of ewes both excited and nervous. It’s so exciting to be starting a venture on our own but terrifying for the same reason. It’s all on us if it’s a flop!

I’m going to post some things here that might seem silly or no big deal to you, but to me they are clear images of God continuing to show us that He is in this, and I don’t want to forget how He has provided and blessed us! First, He provided the sheep at a lower cost than we had hoped or even imagined, second we got a free ewe thrown in. Third, when Sebron went to pick up fencing material, the manager overheard him telling another employee about the posts he was looking for. He walked over and asked if Sebron would consider a different post then we had been thinking. The manager went on to tell him that he had a ton of posts he was trying to get rid of and would sell them to us for $2 a post! This is LESS than half what they normally cost, saving us literally hundreds!

Then yesterday… We went back and forth about getting a great Pyrenees. A livestock guardian. We thought the sheep might be ok since they would be somewhat close to the house. However, we have a horrible coyote problem and each night you can hear them and they come right up to the yard. We decided it would be better to spend a bit of money on a dog now then lose a bunch of sheep. So I again started searching craigslist and local sell and trade websites. Since when did Pyrs get so expensive?? $300 for a puppy to guard sheep?? Yikes. We again prayed. I knew the Lord would lead us if it was meant to be. I was out playing with the kids yesterday morning and randomly felt urged to check craiglist one more time. There was a new post from a woman who had 4 puppies. She said make an offer…I called, they were full blood, raised with livestock from day one, up to date on shots…I made my offer- less then a 3rd of what others were asking, she accepted it! So yesterday we brought home our fierce 9 week old pyr puppy we’ve dubbed Hoss.

It gets better…. Today we had to deworm and vaccinate everyone. We had picked up the supplies we needed and after lunch we got everyone ready to go out and work the sheep and goats.

Now farming and ranching with children is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Is it wonderful? Yes! But it is difficult. Seeb and I always joke that the hardest part of ranching is keeping up with the kids. Working in agriculture can be dangerous. There are big machines and animals that can be unpredictable. I always have to know where everyone is. Plan for things to take way longer then planned, pack snacks etc.

Today was no different. The kids weren’t listening well so everyone got put in our child ‘cage.’ A play area that is fenced in. ;) I put the puppy in with them so he wouldn’t be in the way while Seeb and I worked. We built a small holding pen that we would grab animals from to vaccinate before letting them go back to the working pen.

Now these sheep are not tame. They have been left out to pasture and not worked much. They are also not cute little lambs. Yes they range in age from 3 months to 10 months old, but they are near 100lbs most of them. When Sebron went to grab one once we had them in the holding pen, the sheep freaked out and started jumping into the fence. They somehow got on the same jump pattern and as a whole group, jumped into the fence together. The fence couldm’t take the pressure and went down. Sheep jumping everywhere. It’s one of those moments that you see what is happening, your heart is stopping as you realize what is going on, but there is nothing you can do. We were able to keep 4 ewes in. Five had gotten out and were running for their life. I felt sick to my stomach. These are not pets. These sheep are a business venture and all I saw were dollar signs high tailing it as far as they could through the woods and out to the cow pasture.
Hoss, meeting his sheep for the first time.
I managed to get the 4 that were left, back into the big lot. Seeb and I were both in shock that this was really happening, that over half our herd was running free. As I took off after them Sebron yelled at me to leave them. That we’d never get them back and it was better to count our losses and just go with the 4. I knew he didn’t really mean it but I also knew he was right, the chances of us getting those wild, stupid sheep back into this lot was about next to nothing. I yelled back that we couldn’t do that, we’d lost over half our heard. We took off and the kids started yelling and screaming.

I prayed the entire time. I didn’t know what else to do. Seriously it was going to take a miracle to get them back. “Lord save these stupid sheep! Please don’t let us lose our investment. Father you are the Good Shepherd and YOU are going to have to lead these sheep back where they need to be! Please do this for us!” We chased them for probably two hours. Up and down the pasture, through the woods, through the pasture again. We’d get them somewhat headed in the right direction and then they’d bolt again. I ran back to the house and the kids had pushed over the fence of their play area and were running around screaming. I yelled at Jancsi to get his sister (Hayva was sleeping in the house) and go to the garage and stay there. He sensed the urgency in my voice and grabbed Lulu’s hand and dragged her off to the garage. Sebron had the sheep at a point where they were eating by the fence line and he was keeping them from running off the the lower field again. I went back to the lot and put the panels up to create and funnel to the gate of the holding pen. I grabbed the new panels Seen had just bought and drug them through the woods to the gate to the cow pasture. It was just up from where Sebron had them. I was able to make somewhat of an alley way with the panels and opened the gate. I ran back to Sebron and we walked them slowly up to where the gate was. They almost bolted but eventually saw the open gate and went through. My alley way pointed them in the right direction towards home and they plodded that way. Something spooked them and they took off again. I crashed through the woods and briers to get around them. We were able to turn them again and when they saw the 4 still penned up they headed over. They were right up on the fence at this point but would have to circle the pen in order to enter the funnel I’d made to the gate. They were looking like they were going to bolt again, but as I prayed again out loud, asking the Lord to lead them in, the lead ewe turned around and walked right into the funnel. The rest of the group followed and we were able to run up and shut close the opening before running them in the gate. God. All the way. God! Just this morning our Pastor had read the verse from John10:27- 'My sheep listen to my voice, I know them and they follow me.' I couldn’t believe it! There they were, all 11 sheep! I’m still in awe and complete amazement at God’s provision!

Needles to say, we were completely exhausted, but we managed to rethink our plans and recreate a stronger and better holding pen. Everyone got their vaccines and dewormed! Praise God!

I am going to bed tonight completely exhausted and worn out, but I am so incredibly thankful for so many things! A hubby who fights just as hard and harder to save our animals, kids that listen and obey, sheep that are all accounted for and an awesome God!  

I am excited to see how this venture goes! Lord willing we wont have any more rodeos like today!