Monday, February 28, 2011

Do You Still Believe?

I receive several daily devotionals by e-mail. I love having a few words of encouragement pop up on my computer screen in the mornings.  Gets my day off to a great start.  A few weeks ago, I received a devotional from David Wilkerson entitled "Do You Still Believe." 

“Do you believe I still love you unconditionally—that you are right now being led by the Holy Spirit—that every tear you shed I bottle—that you are right now in this place, in this very hour, in the perfect will of God?

“Do you believe all things still work together for good to them that love Me—that I hear your prayers, even when you have no audible words to express them, when all seems dark and you are overwhelmed—when fear lays hold on your mind and soul—when it seems I have shut the heavens to you?

“Do you still believe I feed all living things: the fish of the sea, the cattle, the fowls, all creeping things? Do you still believe I count every hair on your head—that I take note of every fallen bird on the face of the earth? Do you truly believe that?

“Do you still believe—when death comes to your loved ones? Do you still believe what you have testified, that I give comfort and strength to face even the grave?

“Do you still believe I love you—I forgive you all your past sins, your present sins—and I will forgive all future sins if you rest and trust me? Do you believe I understand when Satan sends his messengers against you to implant lies, doubts, blasphemies, fears, despair?

“Do you still believe you are in the palm of my hand—that you are more precious than gold to your Savior—that eternal life is your future—that there is no power that can pluck you out of my hand—that I still am touched by every infirmity and affliction you endure? Do you still believe these things are true?”

Do I believe these things? Of course I do.  I know they are true.  I know it in my head.  But do I BELIEVE it with every ounce of me?  Well, that, my friends, is a good question.

It is EASY to tell other people these things are true, I'm very good at it.  I know all the "good" Bible verses.  All the promises.  All the "we are more than conquerors."  All the "there is therefore now no condemnation."  Every one of the "I'll never leave you nor forsake you" verses.  And people need to be reminded of those when they are hurting.  Those verses are good, and those verses are true and I believe every word of them, when I am telling them to someone else.  But do I truly live like I believe those words apply to me? 

Sometimes we speak so casually about what we believe.  But do we LIVE like we believe it?  I wish I could tell you that I always live like I believe, but to be completely real, I don't.  I am GREAT at talking to others.  I always know what to say, but sometimes, in my own life, I have doubts.  I have fears.  I wonder.

What if, from now on, we truly took every word of scripture at face value.  What if every morning I reminded myself that I am a child of the King.  That I know He is alive, and that His power lives in me.  I believe that when I put everything in His hands, that He works everything out according to His perfect will, not my perfect will.  That no matter what I see, think or feel, I will trust Him.  Not the power of positive thinking, not name it and claim it, but a belief in a God who calls himself "I AM."   Believing that a God who is big enough to speak the universe into existence is big enough to handle anything that comes my way.  Believing that just because everything in my life isn't perfect, that it doesn't mean He isn't in control.  Committing to serving Him every day of my life because HE IS WORTHY. 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 says:

"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

Repeat THAT to someone who is hurting, and see what kind of response you get.  But that, my friends, is where I believe God wants us to be. Not just serving Him and praising Him when the times are good, but serving Him because of who He is, not because of what He can do for us.  He already did more than we can ever repay.  God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for each one of us.  While we were yet sinners.  Before we loved Him, He loved us.  Is that enough for you?  Is that enough to make you say "Yes, I still believe."

If it doesn't, I think it should. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Courtwarming Princess

No, I am NOT here to announce that Cole was crowned Courtwarming King!  Cole can't even be nominated for King, since he's already been named Homecoming King and FFA Barnwarming King!  So relax.  I am not here to brag on Cole.  I am, however, here to brag on Alex.  Isn't she just beautiful???

Alex was selected by her classmates to be one of two freshman girls to serve as "Courtwarming Princess" to the senior girls chosen as Courtwarming Queen Candidates. 

Truly, she is absolutely gorgeous.  I mean, I know I'm her mom and all, but she just looked so beautiful standing there in her pretty dress.  I was so proud I was just about to bust!  But can you blame me???

And, my husband cleaned up pretty good too, don't you think ? ? ?

Yes, that is my husband in a suit.  No, he doesn't own a suit.  Yes, he borrowed it.  Isn't he handsome???

It was a GREAT evening. And to top it all off, we won the basketball game!

So thank you for letting me brag on my precious daughter and my handsome husband!  I am so very proud of them both! 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Baby Calf

As you probably know from reading Down On The Farm, we are farmers.  At least my husband is a farmer.  Me, I work in town.  In an office.  My husband LOVES farming.  If he won the lottery he would still farm.  He would just own more land and more cows.  Me, I'd retire, but not him.  A farmer is who he IS, not just what he does.  And one thing he loves more than anything is bringing new babies into the world.  Not our babies of course.  I mean, he's a good cow doctor, but, come on.  Sorry, this has nothing to do with our new baby calf.

Thursday evening my husband went outside to check on a heifer that was working on having a baby.  For those of you non-farmers, a heifer is a cow that hasn't had a baby yet.  And there are also first-calf heifers, that have had one baby.  Once you have had two babies, you're a cow.  That is if you actually ARE a cow.  Never mind.

So I decided to go brave the cold to take some pictures of the blessed event, and to show all my blogging buddies the miracle of birth, bovine style.



Yes, those are the front hooves of a baby calf sticking out of the mama cow.  This cow had been pushing for a couple of hours and making no progress so, in steps my husband, the wanna-be veterinarian.  Now I wish I could show you pictures of my husband, CEO of Down On The Farm, actually pulling the calf.  This involves a contraption with a very technical name -- a "calf puller."  Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of this because I had to put the camera down and "assist" him.  Which means, he puts a rope around the cow, and I hold the rope so he can get behind the cow and pull the calf.  By this time the cow is fighting against the rope so hard that she is laying down.  The calf puller fits up against the cows hips for leverage.  Then he attaches a small chain to each of the front legs of the baby calf.  Then hooks the chain to the puller.  (This would be SO MUCH EASIER for you to picture if I had a picture.  Next time I'll make somebody ELSE be the assistant so I can take pictures!!!)  Anyway.  After hooking the chains to the baby calf's legs, and the chains to the puller, you begin to "crank" the puller, which pulls first one leg then the other, slowly working the calf out of the mother.  I say slowly when, in real life, my husband is cranking about as fast as he can.  The actual process once the cranking begins usually takes less than a minute.  The calf inches forward a little at a time until it all slips out in one wet, slimy, steaming heap onto the hay.

Now, again, I wish I could show you a picture of this little blessing.  But, it was so dark that the pictures I took, didn't take.  So you'll have to trust me when I tell you the calf was born alive and well.  My husband takes the rope off the cow, takes the chains off the calf's legs, and the mama cow  rushes over to begin licking the calf to dry it.  And as hard as it is to believe, after all that, within 10 minutes or so the calf shakily stands up, wobbles over to the mama, and begins to nurse.  Baby calves need that colostrum, that first milk from their mama.  And, especially in this brutally cold weather, they MUST be licked dry by their mama.  Otherwise, they won't make it.  Baby calves are just SO darn cute! 

Mid week we had a cow have twins, right in the midst of the blizzard.  Now you may think twins are good -- two babies born equals two babies to sell at weaning time.  Not so.  Cows don't handle twins very well.  It is a rare cow who will let twins nurse.  For some reason the cow takes a liking to one calf, and will try to push the other calf away.  That is what happened with this cow, so, THAT baby calf is living in my basement.  The mama cow didn't even lick it dry so . . . . . . . my husband and the kids loaded the wet calf in the truck, brought it into our basement and rubbed it down with towels then blew it dry with the blow dryer.  My husband mixed powdered colostrum and warm water (kind of like powdered baby formula) and has been feeding this baby for a couple of days. 

And just so I don't mislead anyone about the realities of living on a farm, I have to tell you what happened on Friday.  We had two baby calves born on Friday.  Neither one of them made it.  It was near zero Friday morning.  Bitterly cold.   These mamas didn't have their babies in the shed.  They had their babies outside in the pasture.  We are HOPING that one of these mamas will "adopt" our orphan twin calf.  Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't.  We'll just have to wait and see what happens. 

So there.  I've shared with you just a glimpse of life here at Down On The Farm.  Some folks think farm life is "romantic."  I say living on a farm is very hard work.  Just like anything you do, it has good days, and it has bad days. My husband works all the time.  He works days, he works nights, he works weekends and holidays.  He works when its blazing hot, and when its bitterly cold.  The animals don't take breaks, and neither does he.  Baby calves grow into steers and heifers, and selling those animals is our livelihood.  So he takes the birth and survival of our baby calves very seriously.  Sometimes baby calves are born on nice spring afternoons.  And sometimes they are born on very COLD SNOWY Thursday evenings just about suppertime.

Next time I hope my pictures turn out a little better and, yes, there will be a next time!  I hope I don't have to be the assistant again.  I just want to be the photographer!!!!!  And I don't want to lose any more baby calves.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blizzard Pictures

Here are pictures I took around my house on Tuesday, February 1, the day the BLIZZARD hit.  Since then we have FINALLY managed to get our road cleared out and I went back to work yesterday.  Still no school.  Very cold here, so the snow isn't melting at all.  Thank you all for your continued prayers for our livestock.

This picture was taken looking South.  This lot is where we plant our garden.  Nothing growing now but snow drifts. 

This is the snow drift at the back of our house.  The storm wasn't over yet, and this drift just kept getting higher and higher.  Wound up being nearly five feet tall! 

This was taken looking from my house Southeast toward one of our turkey barns.  The snow was coming down so hard, you can't even tell there is another turkey  barn behind this one. 

This is a picture of the snow drifting around our brooder barn (the barn with the baby turkeys in it).  You can't tell just how tall the drifts are, or how long the icicles are hanging from the roof.

This is Cole and Alex outside posing beside some of the snow drifts.  Unbelievable. 

I could bore you with many more pictures, but I won't.  Believe me when I say this is one of the biggest snow falls Central Missouri has ever had . . . and we have more snow forecast for next week.  Hope you all are safe and warm! 

Come back tomorrow for a few pictures of a new baby calf born Thursday night to one of our heifers.  My husband delivered the baby and I helped . . . a little. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Digging Out

Well, as often as the weather man is WRONG about our forecast, he sure was RIGHT about this one.  At our house, we got about 20" of snow.  Seriously.  I have lived here my entire life, and I can count on one hand the number of times we've gotten a snow this deep. 

I have drifts at my back door that are nearly 5 feet deep.  I missed work on Tuesday AND Wednesday.  I couldn't get out of my driveway.  My husband's diesel pickup wouldn't start this morning.  Thank heavens the block heater on the tractor was plugged in! 

Thank you to each one of you who prayed.  So far, all four of our turkey barns are still standing.  And we haven't lost a baby calf, or a cow for that matter.  Our power stayed on the entire time.  God is so good!

I have LOTS of pictures of the storm, but, and I'm just keepin' it real here, I can't find the cable to hook my camera to the computer, so you'll have to wait.  But I PROMISE I will post pictures.  Ya gotta see it to believe it!!!!

It is cold here.  Bitterly cold.  About -4 degrees at my house, and that's Fahrenheit for my overseas buddies. 
I sure hope that Groundhog is right, 'cause I heard he DIDN'T see his shadow, which means spring is right around the corner! 

I hope all of you survived the blizzard, and that things are getting back to normal around your house.  Hang in there, spring is on the way! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Missouri Blizzard

Well the snow has started.  At least we aren't getting ice.  The ground is covered here.  I would say we have less than an inch of snow right now, and it is snowing pretty hard.  It's still dark outside so I can't take a picture yet, but I will try to post pictures as the day goes by.  I am not going to work, and I can tell you that in 17 years of driving to Jefferson City  to work I have missed two days because of snow, and both of those days were when I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter and we had over a foot of snow.  So for me not to be heading to work right now tells you just how bad I believe this storm is going to be.  They've already cancelled school, so my kids are sound asleep. 

We will be fine.  I am praying that our power doesn't go out.  I mean, the power going out at our house is inconvenient, but manageable.  We have two fireplaces so we won't freeze to death.  But I worry about our animals.  We have baby turkeys in our brooder barn, and we have heifers starting to calve.  We already had one baby calf brought into the "nursery," which means my husband and kids had it in our basement rubbing it down with towels and drying it off with the blow dryer.  Yes, that's farm life.  I would appreciate your prayers for our turkey barns.  They are not built to withstand extreme slow loads, and our barns are old. If we truly get 12-15" like they are saying, well, I know people who had barns collapse under less snow than that.  But I put all in the Father's hands.  I trust Him to perfect all that concerns me.  So while I pray that our barns don't collapse, I ask foremost for His will.  He knows best.  Please agree with me in prayer for our Lord to watch over and protect us, and not just me and my family, but everybody affected by this snow.  It is just beginning to get light outside and the snow is coming down. 

Stay warm my friends, and be safe!  This is the day that the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.