Friday, August 11, 2017

Friend Time

Sometimes life throws curve balls, and God does some work that only He can do.  He separates people.  He brings people together.  He reunites people.  He changes perspectives.  

We've certainly enjoyed having our friends back in the "area" (lower Michigan), so we can hang out again.  It doesn't happen as much as we'd like, but it's better than nothing.  We are thankful for so many friends to live life with, even if it means we don't live day to day with them, but only in encouraging talks once a month or once every couple months.   

Josiah and his buddy, Quin

 We meet them at Pokagon as it seems to be a good meeting point.  This day we checked out the new bee observatory hive.  We found the queen and Josiah explained what each bee was doing, what they were called, and about the different cells.  This boy sure knows his bee stuff!

 There is always football involved in our get togethers.

 The girls and their friend, Gabi. 
We swapped kids for a couple nights, so we got Gabi and sent Josiah with Quin.  The girls had an absolute ball watching old musicals and riding the 4 wheeler.

 Diella stopped so Gabi would get wet in the sprinkler.

 Diella getting smacked for it.  :)

So much laughter.

Checking another thing off the list.  Get togethers with friends were at the top of our list.  Haven't accomplished all the friends, but I think they are all scheduled at least.  We got a room painted, garden harvest done, visits to parks, sleep overs, and some water fun.  More to come....

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Family on the Farm

This month was a pretty empty month when it first started.  With school just around the corner, we are trying to squeeze in everything that we've wanted to do all summer that we've just been too busy for.  We've gone kayaking, played family football with friends, got together with special friends, had sleepovers, and campfires.  We shared a campfire with family this day and always enjoy when they can come to the farm.  

Alyssa and her children don't get to the farm too often, but when they do, the children soak it all up.  We put Kyle to work helping pick up rocks out of the field, but they mostly just enjoy the animals and all the space to play.

Uncle Jonny sure is good for these children.  He treats them like his own, and they love him for it!  For supper we grilled chicken over the fire, so before they left we had to make some smores.

Saphira and Mallorie are good friends.

Some very serious roasting going on here.  Extreme concentration to get it just perfect!  :D

The summer is flying by, and for some school has already started.  We are thankful to be on a different schedule enjoying time together enjoying the warm weather still.  We are also glad when we can be hospitable to friends and family.  It's what we love most, to share time and life with those we love.  More memories to be had this summer.  We're checking things off our list and having fun doing it!  I hope you all are still soaking up some warm, enjoying the outside, and working in the fresh air.  It keeps the body alive and makes one feel full of life.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy 20 Year Anniversary to us!!

Twenty Years!!!  My, how the time does fly right by, whether you're having fun or not.  Thankfully, these days, we are having fun, but it hasn't always been that way.  God has brought us through rocky times in our marriage that almost caused us to separate and live our lives apart.  I praise HIM for doing a work in both of us that allowed us to live life to the fullest with each other.  He can change hearts and mend broken spirits.  HIS restoration is powerful and worth all the hard work of sticking it out to become better people together.  

We took a long weekend and headed to the Chicago area.  We could see the John Hancock from a distance (14 miles away) as we approached our hotel.  It was nice to know we were so close to Chicago, yet far enough away to not feel like we were in the craziness of it.  

After getting all the children situated , we headed west.  We made arrangements with some friends in Valpo to stop by for a visit.  They were kind enough to share a meal with us and lots and lots of visiting too.  Loved our peaceful, backyard visit with the Slagers!
From there, we headed to our destination, Countryside, IL.  And right next to it was LaGrange, IL.  We felt right at home.  :)

The first morning we woke up and found a wonderful cafe that was jammed pack with people and filled with good food.  It was located in a downtown area that was busy, yet quaint.  With all the people standing in line, we thought for sure our wait would be a long time, but they got us seated right away.  We forgot what it's like to travel and dine without 6 children.  Everything is easier.  :)

After breakfast we headed to Go Ape, a treetop experience with zip lines.  Let's just say that I loved it and Jonathon did not.  Apparently he would rather keep his feet on the ground.  There was one moment where I felt a little funny in my eyes from being so high up, but I made it to the next platform and all was fine after that.  He struggled with taking that step off the platform to do the zip line.  He might have looked a little scared.  :)  

 There were 5 different stations.  We moved our trolley, that was attached to a harness that we were in, from one cable to the next.  Lots of safety learning ahead of time.  Every station had a ladder that we climbed to the first platform.  Then from there there were boards to walk on in the air, wires to walk on, rope walls to climb across, all while being way up in the air.    Some of the areas gave you an option whether you wanted to do moderate or extreme or difficult or extreme.  They weren't kidding when they said "extreme".  I'm still sore from some of those extreme sections.
Every landing from the zip line was special.  Jonathon ripped his jeans on one of his landings and I always thought I would make it facing forward, but always ended up sideways then backwards.  Made for an awkward landing, but funny.

I wish these pictures could truly show how high up we were.  The height didn't bother me, but some of the more wobbly parts of the course were unnerving.  

 This was the very last section before the longest zip line.  Right before this we did the Tarzan jump.  Talk about a rush of some kind.  You walk off a platform into mid air.  You drop and drop until your cable catches, then you swing across the forest into this large rope wall.  You bounce off of that the first time, then grab it the second time and climb up to the next platform.  We did it at the same time and both screamed the whole time we dropped.  I've never done anything like that!  

After our fun activity, we went back to the hotel for showers because we were both sweaty and dirty.  What a workout all that climbing and balancing was.  After we were cleaned up, we headed back to the downtown area where we ate breakfast.  We went to an Olive Oil and Vinegar store where we could taste different flavored oils and vinegars.  That was interesting.  We looked around a chocolate shop.  Then we decided to get an early supper, and Jonathon chose a steakhouse.  We walked into the building and then had to go to the basement to the actual restaurant.  Below was the entrance.  

We shared a meal and it was everything we both hoped for.  The steak was delicious, the sides were full of flavor, and the atmosphere was fun too.

After a lovely supper out, we did some much needed shopping without children, grabbed some sweet treats and headed back to the hotel for the evening.  We brought along the time capsule that was given to us for a wedding gift.  We opened it on our 10 year anniversary and again for this anniversary.  We plan on putting some new information in it, along with updated letters from family and friends.  If you want to contribute something, feel free to mail us something to put in.  We really enjoy reading through the letters from grandparents and parents.  Made me tear up as most of the family that contributed letters have passed away.  Even Jonathon expressed how he missed some of my family that were gone.  Sweet moments for us in remembering back.

The handwriting and the thoughts....brings back such memories. 

The hotel gave us free vouchers for a full breakfast at their restaurant, so the next morning we got up and went for a free breakfast.  Jonathon had waffles with berries and I had a veggie omelet with potatoes.  All was very good but not quite as good as the Blueberry Hill Cafe we went to before our zip lining expedition.

This area in Illinois is full of parks, so we decided to check one out before leaving to go home.  Of course we would pick the one with a waterfall.  It was small but so beautiful.  I could've sat there all day.  I told Jonathon if we had a place like this near us, school would be done by the falls every week.  There's just something so enjoyable about moving water.  It was the perfect place for little ones to play and enjoy nature.
We enjoyed passing moms with little ones and commenting on the children.  We might have started missing ours by this point.  ;)  Little ones in the way on the trail....we made sure the moms knew it was no problem at all.
On our way home, we made a farm store stop and a Hobby Lobby stop.  Our trip was complete.  :)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Down on the Farm

We're learning alot during this first year of calving on the farm.  Hopefully you met Briar, our first calf to be born, in a previous blog post.  His birth was amazing in that we watched the whole thing progress from start to finish.  He's a spunky little guy though, so we weren't able to get our hands on him much.  He has had a halter on, but he's not too fond of it (neither was his mama).  

Our next mama due started labor in the late morning.  Jonathon was concerned she was having a hard time, but we watched and kept an eye on her.  Eventually we saw hooves.  Uh oh, back feet coming first is not good.  Jonathon had to leave for a short bit, but I kept my eyes on her and gave him updates as I could.  At one point I text him that we needed to help her when he got home, and only 8 minutes later I went out to check her and the baby was born.  Our first still born calf.  The mama licked, nudged, and kept trying to bring her baby to life with no success.  I'll admit, I did cry.  Watching that mama try so hard to get her baby up and not leaving baby's side was quite heart wrenching.  She stayed by that baby all night and the next morning, before she finally left it's side.  Jonathon went out and brought the calf up to the barn so we could bury it.  That mama mourned for 3 days, mooing sadly and going back to the spot where she had the baby.  It really was sad.  The farmer was just as sad to watch her grieve and watch the other mama moo at her like she was trying to console her.  The animal world is fascinating.  

The farmer was even sadder when he realized that the calf was his first heifer.  Our first girl.  Jonathon, Diella and I dug a hole.  What a sad day on the farm.  

A week later, I look out my kitchen window at the cows in the field and commented how that other girl out there sure looks miserable.  Farmer thinks she'll have her baby before the end of the week.  Next morning I'm taking a shower and Alegra comes in with news that there is a calf out in the field and it looks like the mama and calf are dead.  Ugh, WHAT???  Can't I just have a peaceful shower!  Jonathon had told me that when she went into labor, he wanted me to keep a close eye on her because she looked so big.  Why hadn't he mentioned to me before he left for work that she was in labor?  Did he even know?  

So, I told Alegra to go out and check to make sure they were alive.  She came back with a happy, full of life report.  After I got out of the shower, I called the farmer, "So, you have a new member on the farm."  His response, "WHAT???"  He apparently didn't check on them before he left for work.  What a relief that her labor was during the night and all was well.  We named that cow Flo since she flowed on her own and she seemed to be a much more mellow mama than Blossom.  We were actually able to get to the calf to tag the ear (#2) and check her over.  We have us a little girl!!!  The farmer is so happy!  

On day 2 he was feeling a little concerned about her because she was sleeping out in the hot sun all day long without nursing.  We walked out to check on her, where she let me really give her some lovins.  What a sweet, sweet girl.  She's got my heart.  I just might be turning into a farmer's wife, but, shhh, don't tell the farmer.  ;)  Alegra named this one, and her name is Fern.     

 Isn't she just the sweetest thing.  Oh, and Briar is pretty fond of her too.  He was right with her in the field with her mama when we found them that first morning.  

There is more happenings on the farm too.  We're waiting for one more mama to have her baby.  She's getting bigger.  She is one of our Herefords that was artificially inseminated, so she might have a cute little hereford calf.  We are excited to see what she has.  Our other cow may or may not be pregnant.  We aren't real sure at this point.  She wouldn't be due til a little later, so we watch and wait.  Rosie is up next though.

Jonathon has also been busy doing hay to prepare for winter.  He's such a hard worker and loves his animals.  Knowing that he has cattle and machinery back on the farm does his heart good and mine too when I hear him talk about it.  It's not a luxurious life, but it's our life, and we live it together, all while raising our children to work hard, love the animals and love the land.

When you have a friend over who loves the country life too, she gets to learn how to bale hay. :)
And make lots of memories on the farm too.

The garden is planted and looking pretty good so far.  Strawberry plants are growing and hopefully we'll have our own to pick next year.  Herbs are planted and getting established.  Our rhubarb patch didn't do so swell, but we'll plant again in the fall in the spots where it died.  We've got chicks galore and a crazy dog who thinks he's the keeper of them.  He loves getting in their pen and keeping them herded to the designated place he makes for them.  He's becoming quite the farm dog and making up for all the times I was ready to send him back to the shelter when we first got him.  It's taken a lot of training and he still has some areas he could grow in, but overall, I can't complain since he's cooperative with Hadassah crawling all over him and he doesn't mind all the little critters that are around here.  He's been hearing, "Good boy!"  more and more.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Joy in the Journey

      For the last couple weeks, I've had on my mind to write a post about my own personal journey in the last year.  Somehow, time goes by, I don't have time to sit down and think on it, and then a few weeks have passed by.  I  suppose I've not wanted to write something, because I wanted to make sure all my thoughts were together before I started, so I didn't miss something.  Since I've been working in the garden so much lately, I've gathered lots of thoughts while I work.

      Let's start with the fact that I'm a busy mom.  I home school 5 children, keep the 6th child out of everyone's stuff and the cupboards, am a housewife who tries to prepare healthy meals and keep everyone in clean clothes, I'm the doctor, the cleaning lady, the teacher, the gardener, the cow midwife for the farmer, the encourager, the tear wiper, the bottom wiper, the prayer warrior, the discipliner, the singer, the plan maker with friends and family, and the one who keeps all things organized around here.  At times it feels like a heavy task and other times it feels like I couldn't possibly add one more thing to my list.

      I'm sure if you're a mom, you can relate to the above, whether your life matches up perfectly with mine or not.  Being a mom is just plain a tough job. This year during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, I was writing out what sins I needed cleansed from and what I could do to replace and clean up those areas and the verses that spoke to my heart during the week long feast (this is a family tradition that we do every year).  As I was looking over my paper from last year, I realized that I had written out a verse about JOY.  It hit me that last year, I was struggling with not having joy in my life.  As I sat there and thought about it, I rejoiced in the fact that I felt like joy had been restored into my life.  It's so easy as a mom to get bogged down with life, children, activities, and expectations of others, that joy can slip right out of the heart and float off into the atmosphere without one even noticing it.
      What have I done that's changed that?  I still do all the things listed above, so how did that change for me?  I began being grateful for the big things, the little things, and even the things that may not have happened that God was sparing me from.  Gratitude filled my heart and I began focusing on that more.  It's still a journey to keep a thankful heart about all things, but baby steps will accomplish a huge heart change when practiced consistently.  The other thing I began doing was praying out loud with fervent, intentional, and diligent prayers.  I wasn't interested in the religious wording or sounding holy and perfect.  I began crying out to the Father in prayer with a raw and exposed heart, longing for Him to hear me and expecting Him to answer how He saw best.  This changed me even more.  There is something so special about taking time to communicate to the Master of the Universe with expectations of change.  I've seen more prayers answered since pouring my heart out to Him, than I have in a long time.  Just be real.

      Over winter we spent a couple weeks in Florida, feeling the warm sun and rejuvenating our minds to come home.  I was reading Lisa Bevere's book Lioness Arising, and had a total transformation of thinking.  Her book focuses on women and becoming who we are to be in comparison to a lioness.  By the end of the book, I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone and reach out to women.  You may not know me if you're reading this, or you may have known me for 1 year or 15 years.  I've never been one to lead conversations or even care about throwing in my input.  I'm usually quite content to just sit and listen to everyone else talk.  I knew that God wanted me to get out of that thinking and become who HE wants me to be, so I can be of use to Him.

      Don't get me wrong, a quiet person can be used for His kingdom, but He wanted more of me.  He wanted me to ditch what and who I thought I was and become a clay vessel that He molded me into.  A vessel that could give food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, and hope to the lost.  How could I do that if I always just relied on my husband to carry conversations?  How could I do that if I was more likely to sit in the corner with my children, so I didn't have to engage with others?  How could I do that if I was unwilling to go places, afraid to talk to people that I could tell needed a listening ear, and afraid to say words that needed said to help someone heal?

      Fear can so easily overtake a person in many ways.  It can cause you to worry about what others think or say about you.  It can cause you to sit back and avoid conversations so you aren't uncomfortable.  It can cause you to think that you have nothing to give and that you  just aren't the type of person who can be a friend or speak life into someone.  Fear lies.  Fear causes a person to think that they can't do something.  Fear molds a person into what it wants them to be- a scaredy cat.

      In all of my searching and growing, I've realized that fear is just a tool of the enemy.  It's a tool to make me believe that I can't get out and be a light.  It's a tool that makes me think that I'm of no use to the lady sitting in the corner with her children.  It's a tool that has drug many women down in making them think that they just aren't the sociable type.  If you thought you could get out and be a light, you could minister to that lonely woman in the corner with all the children crawling on her, and that you are sociable and can encourage many people with your words and actions, fear would be stomped out.  You could live a whole and complete life, serving, doing, speaking, and accomplishing great things in the lives of those hurting.

      When I think about what He has called us to do here on earth, it's not sit in my corner and mope about my tired, busy mama life.  It's get up, go to, speak up, walk through, reach out, and pray with those who need a little hope in their life.  If you feel like you just can't be sociable and engaging, take a look at what you might be afraid of.  Take a look at what God created us for.  Take a look at the world around you and see how much hurt there is.  Even if you just step over to that lonely mama in the corner, you will have taken the first step in not letting fear rule your life.  Be encouraged sister that HE has greater  plans for you to overcome your fear and minister to those around you.  Be encouraged that HE wants you to live a whole and complete life not in the corner, but in the center of the room, praying over everyone that fills the corners. :)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

First Calf on the Farm

We've been waiting for the day that we would have some new little ones to welcome on the farm.  last Tuesday was the big day!  We knew the day was getting closer, but we weren't really sure how close.  We know of a couple signs now to look for when the heifer is within a day or two of having a calf.  The children had a couple friends staying with us which made it all the more exciting that we got to share the moment with them.  The only sad thing was that farmer Jon missed it all.  He was so sad about it but was afraid he might have been a nervous papa in wait if he would've been here.  Instead, I got to keep track of the mother and how she was progressing, report in to the farmer, and keep myself from being nervous.  I kept her covered in prayer that all would go well and she'd deliver naturally without any complications.  I sure was thankful when it was all over with and everything turned out perfectly.
We were sitting at the table working on school when Benaiah said, "Mom, I think something is coming out of the cow".  Sure enough, I looked out and quickly put on my shoes and coat to go out and get a closer look.  Looked like things were just starting from the outside appearance, but I have a feeling she was already having contractions and working on it before we could tell.  
We kept at our daily routine, but I went to the window often to check on her.  We were all so thankful that she chose to be in the closest grazing area to the house, which happens to be on the side with easy viewing windows.  After awhile the girls came downstairs (they were watching from their bedroom window) and said, "she is laying down and can't keep her legs together".  Okay, I'll check.  Then Jonathon's brother stopped on his way back to work to let us know we had a baby coming.  I looked out the window and sure enough.  Bundle up children, let's go!
The older children and one of their friends joined me and out we went to watch the happenings.  It looked quite gross and the girls weren't real sure of it all, but what an amazing feeling to watch the birth of our first calf.  I kept praying for her and quietly coached her as I would a human mama in labor.  :)   At this point, the other cows were still in the area, but they were a bit away from her and grazing without taking notice of what was going on with her.   

 This is how we found her.  Quite uncomfortable. 

 Right after we were all out there and looking, she gave a good push and out baby came halfway.

 What a view, right?  :)

 Baby stayed in that position for awhile, mama sat down on her hind quarters, then stood right up and out baby came.  

 Immediately, the other cows stopped grazing, looked over at her and after a 2 second pause from all of them, they all walked over to her.  She was busy cleaning baby up, but the other cows formed a  circle around her and looked at the new arrival for a good bit before they walked away and continued grazing.

 Checking out the new member of the family.

We made sure baby nursed and got up and walked around before we went in.  It took some time, but eventually all was fine and mama proved to be a good mama.

After Farmer Jon got home, he met me out by the fence to see the new little BOY.  He's a handsome little guy and full of spunk.  The first couple days he did a lot of sleeping, which made us wonder if he was dead or alive.  BUT he is quite alive and the cutest little thing.
Day two.  
 6 days old
 Isn't he just so cute?
He's going to be a strong, young steer someday.

Journeys on the farm continue, and we feel blessed to be a part of the rebuilding of the Bovee Farm.