the best

I had just gotten Alden out of his crib and put him on Rory's lap. Ivar ran over to give Alden a good morning hug, and then Elsie wanted to greet him and then Hattie joined in. There's no better way to start a day.

I'm off today to a home school conference. I've talked about this one before and it's so good. It's mostly on motherhood and wifehood and homemaking and training all ages and stages. I am so excited. I always come home encouraged, inspired and reminded why what I am doing each day is so important.

Also, that man in the picture smiling back at me...I love him so much. I feel like we have been growing in love lately. That's always so wild when I can feel it. But I can. And we will continue to grow in love, deeper and deeper, year after year. What a wonder. Sometimes when we're busy around the farm flying from thing to thing, Rory will say to me, "I look forward to reflecting on all of this one day when we're old and in rockers on our front porch. Maybe we'll have time to process it all then."

farmer becca does the chores

I have a 4-year-old friend at church who calls me Farmer Becca. And you know, I'm starting to believe her. We just hit week number three of walking out to the barn every three hours to feed Miracle and I would have to say I feel like I can own that title. 

Getting out to the barn so often has made me really attached to our animals. And all animal chores have grown into something quite time consuming. We have a lot of animals this spring! I will often sort of lament having to go back out, but then something cool happens. It's warm and cozy in there and then you're greeted by big, friendly creatures who are so happy to see you again. They baa and maa and oink and snort and every time I remember that I really love it out in the barn.

Here's what we do each morning and evening for animal chores:
  • Heat milk and bottle feed Miracle (six times a day)
  • Give hay to Bubble Gum, December and Sugar Cookie in stall #1
  • Give hay to Fluffy Cloud, Miracle and Big Sister in stall #2
  • Give hay to Darcy the goat in stall #3
  • Pour corn feed into pig trough
  • Fill water bucket for the sheep of stall #1
  • Fill water bucket for the sheep of stall #2
  • Fill water bucket for Darcy in stall #3
  • Fill the water bucket for the pigs in stall #4
  • Walk back to the house and stop at the coop to fill the chicken feeder
  • Get water in the house and bring it to the coop and refill their waterer
  • Feed the cats in the garage
  • Give water to the cats
  • Feed the chicks in the bathroom
  • Change the water for the chicks
It all takes about 25 minutes. And if anything needs special attention it takes longer.

It usually takes me longer because I like to tell the animals that I love them. I have a real love for our goat, Darcy, right now. I have often called her our farm dog because she is loyal and so sweet. I spend a lot of time petting her head and telling her she's great and I'm glad she's our goat. And I smile at her a lot. When I first walk into the barn and am feeding miracle, she will put her front hoofs up high on the side of the stall to make herself real tall and I'll smile at her. 

And no lie, often, she will look right at me, curl up her mouth and open her lips just slightly to show me her teeth. I SWEAR SHE IS SMILING AT ME. I really think she is. And it's hilarious and awesome and the irony of chore time is that it never ends up feeling like a chore. It takes time. It is hard to get out to do it. But just like exercise, I am always in a better mood when I'm done, glad I spent my last 25 minutes taking good care of all the friendly beasts on our farm. 

springtime is darling

Lambs, chicks, kittens and babies. Life is adorable right now. New life is so beautiful. And all of it is a sweet reminder of the new life we have in Christ Jesus every single day. Today I pulled out my Jesus Calling for the first time in years. And I want you to hear these good words:

April 11th
This is the day that I have made. Rejoice and be glad in it. Begin the day with open hands of faith, ready to receive all that I am pouring into this brief portion of your life. Be careful not to complain about anything, even the weather, since I am the Author of your circumstances. The best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Me for them. This act of faith frees you from resentment and frees Me to work My ways into the situation, so that good emerges from it.

To find Joy in this day, you must live within its boundaries. I knew what I was doing when I divided time into twenty-four-hour segments. I understand human frailty, and I know that you can bear the weight of only one day at a time. Do not worry about tomorrow or get stuck in the past. There is abundant Life in my Presence today.  - Psalm 118:24, Philippians 3:13-14

tree tapping open house

The day before Easter we had a Tree Tapping Open House. Ironically, we had postponed this event hoping for warmer weather...but it was not in the cards. The day was freezing and windy. The punchline was when Rory had set the tap into the tree and then said, "well, it's too cold. the sap isn't running today."

But we had a great turnout and hopefully we can do another event on a more glorious day. But everyone got to meet Miracle and see the pigs. Rory had the evaporator running in the sugar shack so people could see his set up. We had the most interest from the dad's who were all very interested in all of Rory's evaporating systems from the past. I think small scale tree tapping is something everyone should at least try. Because that syrup at the end is just so, so satisfying.
We had hot chocolate and coffee for everyone and at one point I got out our Easter Eggs for kids to hide and find. Anything to keep everyone moving! Holding the three kittens was definitely a highlight for many kids. And we had a naming contest for the kittens. The winners (decided on by the kids!) are Chocolate Chip (the black one), Tiger and Ginger (the orange ones). Congrats to the winners!! Your prize is the satisfaction of knowing your name was chosen. ;)
(If you'd like to know when we host events like this, be sure you subscribe to our quarterly newsletter on the right column of The Grovestead Blog. That's the mailing list we use to send out invites to these sorts of gatherings.)

look who arrived this morning!

So now we're onto baby chicks! Rory sent me a text yesterday of a video of two cats on a large hamster wheel. When one got off, the other jumped on and the wheel never slowed down. When that one jumped out the other jumped back in. He texted below it, "you and me."

And strangely I found it totally touching and romantic. Because that is us right now. We are a complete team, totally dependent on the other.

Oh here's a story, speaking of being a team... The vet casually mentioned on that early Monday morning, "and then in a week, just take these stitches out." Sometimes things like that are said and you are left thinking, "who do you think I am?" It's a similar feeling to when they let you walk out of the hospital with your first baby. They seem to think you're going to figure it out. Same with barnyard animal stitches removal, apparently. So Rory and I went out to the barn a week later, feeling quite green. He had to hold the Ewe down so I was the one who had to remove the stitches. Or, more accurately, the shoelace that was zigzagged around her back side. I made a cut but nothing budged. I'll spare all the details, but I did have to get a pliers and in the end, we got that shoelace out. Rory let her back up and came right over to me with a huge smile, "I am so proud of my farm wife right now." And he gave me a big kiss.

Hilarious. What a moment! The two of us have been through so much in the last 2 1/2 weeks. That morning with the Ewe and the vet was bonding in a way we had not bonded yet. Like we went through a really traumatic incident together. And now we're looking ahead and have these 51 chicks hanging out in our bathroom until who knows when, a goat who will deliver any day now, a lamb who still needs to be bottle fed every 3 hours (3 hours fly by so fast!), and gallons of sap waiting to be evaporated into syrup. And we're heading to a tractor auction on Saturday, looking for a mower and a rake in time for the first cutting.

I should say that the night of the big snow fall, I dropped the middle of the night feeding. Pa Ingalls once taught me that you shouldn't go out in a windy snow storm, lest you lose your way. And as of that night we have dropped the middle of the night feeding. And we feel fine about it. Plus, my big moon disappeared, making those late night hikes fall more into the spooky category, than adventurous. Miracle is still thriving, we feed him every 3 hours now instead of 4, and everyone is happier because Mom is getting better sleep...