HETTIE’S HOMESTEAD – coming full circle
One of my mom’s favorite flower was the Iris. On our sweet little Kentucky homestead, her blooms abound in what were my mom’s carefully planned gardens. The Iris flower symbolizes faith, courage, wisdom and admiration. They are a lovely reminder of my mom’s life and the beauty of God’s creation.
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In 2017 my little family moved home to my parent’s home. We were all dealing with the sudden tragic loss of my parents, the stress of moving, and starting over in a new school/job. Life was a mess, and to top it all off I had a puppy. It became evident very quickly that Stella had no intention in staying in our now much larger and unfenced yard. Even though our yard is larger, it is close to the road and isn’t Aussiedoodle friendly. There were too many tempting tractors, trucks, and even horses across the street. I remember losing Stella when we were moving and driving up and down the road calling her name. I was thinking, “Not now, God. We need our puppy!” After about an hour of frantic searching, my husband said, “Maybe she will come home on her own.” I decided to go to the bathroom, and when I opened up the door, there sat my fuzzy muppet of a puppy playing in the trash. I was never so happy to catch her playing in the trash! Somehow, someone had accidently closed her up in the bathroom. At that point I was thankful someone had made the mistake, because our puppy was safe and sound. Puppies love trash, and that is a love she has not outgrown. She somehow has figured out how to open every trash can we have ever owned ! It requires a little more effort of closing and latching doors to not have to clean up the trash twice.
We decided after that we would invest in an underground fence. Stella flourished when the boundaries were clear. She loved spending time outside and soon claimed the yard as her territory. She grew a lot, and I mean a lot ! My husband kept saying, “How big is our dog going to get?!” We had Shelties for years, and the size of an Aussiedoodle seemed huge to us. My youngest son and Stella continued to be best friends. She loved to follow him to whatever dirt pile or ice cream cone they might share.
As a family things continue to change; if you are alive, change is always happening. My oldest was preparing to leave for college. I remember going on college visits, we visited a couple of schools out of state, which meant Stella would need to be boarded. I remember a spring break when we were out of town and I got a call from the dog boarders. The boarders are family friends of ours, and I trust them very much with our two dogs (we also inherited my parents’ Sheltie) The boarders called to inform me that Stella must have come into heat and was accidentally bred by a Weimaraner. I was in shock. What would a Weimaraner-oodle look like? My four-year-old son could hear me on the phone discussing the details. I can remember him asking if his dog was okay. I told him “Of course! She is just fine.” I guess I’m thankful the puppies never came to be. Soon after that I took my son to the pediatrician, the office staff were asking him questions about his life,and of course he told them he loved his dog. He paused and said, “But she is a bad dog ..” They, of course, asked, “Why is she bad?” My little boy said, “Well, she stole some bread, and now she is going to have some whackadoodle puppies.” It is one of my favorite stories. I could not stop chuckling, and neither could the nurse after I explained what that meant ! It was a good laugh that I felt all the way to my toes, and it was wonderful to have a little excitement and joy fill my heart. Hence the mixed feelings about the whackadoodles that never came to be. After that my husband affectionately called her Stella, The Best Bad Dog Ever.
In March of 2020, our lives much like everyone else’s in the United States took a bizarre turn. Suddenly, I was working from home and the kids were schooling from home. Just like a domino effect, one by one we all were at home, even my college guy. Our house was full again, and our wi-fi was being strained, just like my patience for zoom learning. Many days while working online to attend school our first grader would become overwhelmed in the process of being kicked off the internet or tolerating a zoom meeting with twenty-five other first graders. It was a real struggle. My husband and I were trying to support him and continue our own work loads. Many days our youngest son would say,” As soon as I finish my math I will need to go outside with my dog.” Stella loved having everyone home and spending her days either laying under the kitchen table during school or chasing our boy around the house during “breaks”. I have fond memories of throwing open the back door and yelling, “STELLA !!!” (which always cracks my husband up) when it was lunch time for the dog and boy.
There have been many times over the years that Stella has served as a best friend, guard dog, and even mole killer. If you came to visit, she would jump all over you, and you would think, “Why do these people love this dog?” Not everyone can love The Best Bad Dog Ever, but she is the best dog for us. I smile to myself frequently thinking of the timing of her arrival and the blessing she has been to our family.
Much like being a mom, Mother’s Day can be complicated. The day can be overshadowed by ideals that you can’t achieve. My path to becoming a Mom was not an easy road. After years of trying to become a mom, I began to detest Mother’s Day. It reminded me that behind a locked door in my house there was an empty baby bed. People around me tried to offer comfort, but there was no comfort for what I had lost. My soul was filled with longing- a longing for what I did not have and what I could not control, despite my best efforts. Years later when God smiled on me and blessed me with a bundle of joy (he literally was), I was elated to finally participate in Mother’s Day as a mom. I remember traveling on my first Mother’s Day to see my brother graduate from college. My newly adopted son was only 3 months old and the trip was hard. The night before Mother’s Day he cried all night in an Arkansas hotel room. I remember thinking the next day, “Wow this is not how I thought it would be”. Becoming a parent, getting married, getting a new job, or starting a homestead all are never quite how we think they will be. However, there have been many days that I have squeezed all three of my boys and been incredibly thankful that they call me Mom. As I learned how to be a mom, I also learned more about my wonderful boys. All three of my sons are adopted. When I first planned to adopt, I was driven by the empty baby bed. I kept thinking, “I will become a mom and my pain will be gone.” There was a lot about being an adoptive mom I did not understand. I didn’t understand that there would be pain even in our adoptions. I didn’t know that there would be hard days and hard questions. I honestly had not thought about the pain the birthmothers would feel as they were handing over their babies to me. God blessed me with a friendship that changed my thoughts and heart, when a beautiful woman shared her personal pain of choosing adoption with me. I grew to realize that Mother’s Day would be complicated forever for the three women who gave birth to my beautiful sons. I also learned that even though my boys love me deeply as their mom, there is no erasing their birthmother. I have never tried to erase them, but I wasn’t prepared for the questions and the pain that would come along as my boys grew up. I naively thought that if I read them enough sweet story books about adoption, and talked openly with them about their wonderful personal stories, there would be no pain. So I learned being an adoptive mom was beautiful, rewarding, and my calling, but not without pain.
So Mother’s Day became a day I tried to reflect and be thankful. My mom and I usually planned to spend the day together. We often planted flowers, ate take out (because going out to eat on Mother’s Day is stressful), and just enjoyed being together. After the loss of my mom, Mother’s Day has taken on another level of grief. Sadly, our family tragedy happened just days before Mother’s Day. So every year I face the anniversary of the accident alongside Mother’s Day. I am reminded during these times of the strength my mom tried to teach and instill in me. I watched her live her life and deal with disappointment, hurt and loss. She didn’t always handle things well, and there were times she had a hard time getting out of bed. But my mom never gave up. I saw her cry, I saw her get mad, and I saw her heal. She always said, “If you feel bad, get up and work, then you will feel better”. My mom loved to work, she cooked, sewed, weeded, painted, mowed, weedeat, and the list goes on. My mantra is not the same, because I am not my mom and that is ok. After the accident, I thought a lot about the heritage that both my parents had left me. One of the things I kept returning to was the choice to go on, not move on, but to go on. So for the last five years, sometimes daily, I have made the choice to go on. My going on looks different from day to day. Some days it means I go on and I cry about the pain of missing my parents, the pain of my children missing their grandparents, and the damage it has done to my family. Some days my going on looks like me pulling weeds and remembering how hard my mom worked on her yard and garden. Some days it looks like me telling stories to keep my parent’s memories alive and laughing at the joy of a wonderful history. Some days going on looks like me living in the moment, celebrating my boys’ milestones or successes, and being thankful that I am present and a mom.
The longer I live the more stories I encounter. People share with me the struggles of being a mom and the grief that often comes with struggle. I have met mom’s who have struggled with who their children have become, the loss of a child, and many more things that can make Mother’s Day complicated. Mother’s are incredibly important to everyone, whether they had a wonderful mom or she failed to meet their needs. Mothers shape who you are. My husband who is a retired correctional officer told me the busiest visiting days in prison were Christmas and Mother’s Day. The mom visiting her son in prison is surely having a complicated Mother’s Day. I will be honest. As my boys’ grow up and learn how to be men, the road is not always smooth. There are times when I think, “Wow, this is not how I thought it would be”. However, I would not change or exchange any of those moments for the pain of the empty baby bed. So on Mother’s Day, I will make a choice to be thankful for things I have had, the people I still have, and hopeful for things to come. Bless the mom who mourns an empty cradle, a broken heart and broken dreams.
Gives the childless wife a home, the joyful mother of children. Hallelujah!
In the homesteading world there is a thing called chicken and goat math. It has been said, once you start raising chickens and/or goats they tend to multiply in numbers, I would include rabbits in the homesteading math equations as well. When I started dreaming of owning goats, I was thinking two goats would be my limit due to my goat accommodations. Goats are herd animals and I knew I would need to maintain at least two at all times. Goats and sheep are prone to illness and death if not kept with others. Denver my male goat, is doing much better after having emergency surgery to deal with bladder stones/crystals. However, the veterinarian informed me that because of the severity of the surgery, Denver’s life expectancy would be shortened. I did not want to be in a situation where I was dealing with an ailing or dying goat and worried about his companion Minnie’s wellbeing. I began to search for another female goat, mostly to avoid the possible health issues of a neutered male goat. Soon after starting my search I found a young female goat for sale at a reasonable price within an hour drive from our homestead. The farm appeared to be a healthy happy goat place. So during spring break I took the plunge and added to our herd and brought Pearl home. It has been interesting to me how my goats have such different personalities. Pearl has been a wonderful addition to our homestead. She is super sweet and will follow me like a puppy. She loves to spend time with my nine year old and will actually let him hold her on his lap. Goat Mom’s are not supposed to have any favorites but it is hard not to be partial to Pearl, as she seems to be the most interested in interacting with people. Minnie and Denver are friendly but are most interested in food. Pearl will often delay eating so she can be scratched behind the ears. She is also very cute, Pearl is mostly white except for two patches of brown on her knees, one knee patch looks like a heart. Pearl also has blue eyes, which is actually a desired trait in Nigerian Dwarf Goats. We have had to work out some jealousy issues with Minnie but it has been very fun to have both Minnie and Pearl on our little homestead. I hope you enjoy the spring pictures of Pearl. Thank you for reading and supporting my blog. I will be posting some Mother’s Day content very soon.
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Spring is here! My yard is full of blooms, the trees are blooming, we are planning to get some baby chicks soon, and… it was snowing a couple of days ago.
In Kentucky spring can be a wild weather season. It might be 70 degrees tomorrow, but today it feels like winter. We have several limbs down in the yard from the gusty winds that are blowing cold fronts in and out. The growing things are becoming more green, including my garden that is waiting to be tilled up. I have a long list of homestead jobs, chores, and spring break goals. Like most of the spring breaks that I have spent in Kentucky, it will be a week with a few warmer days, a few rainy days, and a few colder days. You never get bored with the weather here in the Bluegrass State. In order to keep the homestead productive, I try to always be learning, planning, and/or working regardless of the weather. Most of my goals and dreams are steps to make my homestead more self-sufficient, or in other words, expand my DIY skills. Recently I have been researching affordable, small DIY greenhouses, composting, and fermentation. Over spring break I will be working on combining the first two with free wood pallets. A couple of Christmases ago, I was given a small greenhouse made with plastic covering. I enjoyed moving my seedlings into the greenhouse and actually had some plans to use the space more often this year. However, the strong Kentucky winds shredded the zippers. I replaced them and the wind still destroyed the new zippers! And if a greenhouse is not enclosed it is useless. So I am working on building a more permanent solution that will provide me with space outside of the house to start seeds, and possibly over-winter more greens like spinach and kale. I will blog about my progress with the greenhouse project after I complete the build. Who knows? It might not work out. Not everything I try on the homestead is a success. I already have tomatoes and pepper plants that are growing well inside my home while waiting on the last threat of frost here in Kentucky, in order to be planted. During some of our colder weather I have been experimenting with the fermentation of foods. I recently successfully made apple cider vinegar, though my first attempt ended in lovely blue molded apples. If you don’t succeed you can try, try again, like the old saying goes. The whole process of making the vinegar took about a month. The end result was surprising to me – the flavor was delightful! The apple undertones to the vinegar were stronger than what I have experienced with store bought vinegar.
I told my homesteader husband that I have saved us a whole dollar by making my own vinegar. When he is not a homesteader husband, he is a tax auditor, and he loves a dollar saved. There are usually a variety of experiments in progress here on the homestead. Soon I will blog more about my greenhouse project, kraut making, and share more from my Stella series. I hope you enjoy the spring pictures of the homestead. Here are the instructions for making homemade apple cider vinegar in case you’d like to try it. If you have a jar and some leftover apple parts you can make your own, homestead not needed.
Simple Apple Cider Vinegar
- quart jar or larger with regular mouth (no large mouth jars)
- Apple scraps, enough to fill jar up to ¾ full
- Non-Chlorinated water
- sugar or honey
- Coffee filter
- Rubber band
- Place your apple peels and scraps in a clean regular mouth glass jar. This is a great use of apples that have maybe passed their prime or have little bad spots. I like that even the peel gets used to make something.
- Fill the jar about ¾ of the way full
- Mix one tablespoons of sugar per cup of water. Don’t skip the sugar. The process of making vinegar needs the sugar. (you can use honey).
- Pour the mixture of water/sugar over the apples until they are covered. Do not pass the lip of the jar, you need room at the top of the jar.
- Place the coffee filter over the jar and secure with a rubber band
- Place jar in a cool spot of the house out of direct sunlight
- Every other day take a chopstick or something similar and poke the apples down into the liquid so that they take turns being submerged, this prevents mold from growing.
- After two weeks remove coffee filter and strain liquid
- Return the strained liquid to the jar and replace the coffee filter, leaving in a cool dark spot covered for another two-four weeks.
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Some words are easier to write than others. Honestly, I have been in what I would call a blogging slump. My first blogging slump.However, if I continue writing these blog posts, it probably won’t be my last. When I first decided to blog, I thought I would simply blog about sweet days on my homestead. I had no plans to go down some of the rugged paths, I have found myself meandering down with these posts. Month five of my blog process has brought me to a lot of, “Why am I doing this?” moments. Like most people that start blogging, I thought it might be a fun thing to do that would result in me making a little extra money for my family. Instead I find myself in process, just like life, in process of purpose. I really can’t tell you how long I will blog, where this will go next, or what the fruit of this process will be. So this week I am pushing myself to write these words about my life, my parents’ lives, and my sweet dog’s life.
In early May 2017 I was able to schedule a date to bring our precious new puppy home. Everyone in my household was bursting with excitement, except for my husband. He kept walking around the horse repeating, “This is not my dog! All messes and midnight puppy potty time will be done by SOMEONE ELSE !!” We all agreed. The older boys took oaths to help out and I kept saying, “Don’t worry, we will train her quickly !”. I was not new to the dog world, and felt a sense of confidence in all my dog research. I burned a rare personal day and took my four-year- old to my parent’s home, since the new puppy was just a couple of miles away and ready for pick up. My parents, of course, were excited about my youngest coming for a playdate with his cousins of similar age. My mom, who was a dog lover, was also excited about meeting the new puppy. I hurried to the trailer where we had picked the puppy out, handed over the cash and took my cute fuzzy muppet- looking puppy to my parent’s home.We actually had not named her yet and were tossing around ideas but nothing seemed to stick. My Mom was excellent at naming farm creatures of all types, but she seemed to be fresh out of ideas, too.
When I arrived my four- year- old and his cute little cousins were delighted with our new little muppet of a dog. The day was filled with giggles and puppy chasing, and pure unfiltered joy. She was unusually calm for a puppy (on this day). She would chase the kids and have fun, but kept returning to my dad’s chair and sitting underneath. My dad kept commenting on how strange it seemed. I took the time to brag about my dog research and planning. My mom wisely said it was probably just an adjustment period. Regardless it was a wonderful day and one that I hold close in my memories. Backtracking my last few times with my parents, I remember our last couple of visits sweetly. I consider it to be a kiss on my cheek providentially. I didn’t know it but I had a little over a month left. It was always important to me that my mom liked my dogs, her approval meant you and your dog passed. Etched into my mind is the sound of little kids petting our sweet new puppy and my mom holding her, talking about how incredibly soft Stella’s hair coat was. Stella was delighted in all the attention and curled up in my mom’s lap.
The puppy quickly moved from her adjustment period to the full embodiment of herself. When we took her home, everyone cooed over our cute little muppet, including grumpy husband. Ironically, my husband said, “I think she looks like a Stella”. I thought it was perfect, and it stuck. Soon we found out what a wild child Stella really was. Instantly she became inseparable from our four-year- old, which was wonderful and wild at the same time. Months before Stella’s arrival we had a privacy fence finished in our backyard to keep our new dog safely. Stella saw the well-put-together gate as a challenge. The challenge was “Can I get under the gate in less than ten seconds?” I was amazed as she almost flattened her chubby little muppet body and squeezed under and out! Her four-year-old partner in all things would soon follow by simply unlocking the gate and making a run for it. There were many afternoons you could see a fleeing Stella, the four-year-old, followed by middle aged, out of shape me chasing after. Puppy and boy would gleefully hide in neighbors’ garages, or just take a couple of laps around the cul de sac. The exercise was probably good for me. We soon found out Stella had to be accompanied by someone who was not four years old at all times while outside.
One afternoon after work in May, my four-year-old had fallen asleep on the way home. I had decided not to wake him and secretly enjoy a little quiet time, even though it might mean trouble putting him to bed that night. One of my older guys had taken the puppy out, and I was thinking What can I do with my free fifteen minutes? At that point I didn’t realize that my parents had already left this earth and I would never speak to them again, in this realm. Since sometime in the morning, law officials had been trying to locate the next of kin. “Next of kin” was a phrase I had heard a hundred times plus on the news. “Names won’t be released until “next of kin” are notified” When I hear the phrase now, it makes me shudder and remember. Remembering is a heavy labor sometimes, I try to remember the sweet moments, not the moments of personal horror that surrounded me that day. I will keep the details of the next few hours to myself, and those who are closest to me who held me up during the worst moments in my life so far. When I think back to the days and hours that followed some are crystal clear and others are a blur. My mind became heavy with replaying events, words, and feelings. During this time, I am not really sure what my sweet little muppet of a puppy was doing, or who was taking care of her. When I think back on it, I am sure it was my husband, maybe that is why she always lays at his feet.
The moments of loss actually felt like a hard fall that took the breath out of me. All I could think of was the pain of the fall. People who didn’t know me well, would tell me I was incredibly strong, but internally I hated the word strong. Daily I was an open wound held together by a band-aide that might accidentally come off at any moment. I had an internal fear of what might come hemorrhaging out, if I was to lose my thin covering. In moments with my closest circles I was allowed to come unglued. There were people who were lifelines during that time, letting me be raw and uncomfortable. Parenting my four-year-old was one of the most challenging things to do in the days circling the tragedy. As my stability increased, my support began to back away, which is natural and healthy but scary for a person just getting their feet back. Suddenly, I found myself home (in our subdivision) with all the mom responsibilities back. There were probably a lot of moments missed due to my grief fog. But I do remember sitting on the back deck of our house, and looking at my wild puppy. I thought, “Stella doesn’t know how to sit yet.” My mom had always taught all her dogs to sit. I went in the house and got a handful of pretzel sticks and returned. I taught Stella how to sit in a matter of ten minutes. My husband always said Stella is food motivated. I could feel my mom smiling on me with approval. Stella was a good dog and smart, she could sit. Through the haze and darkness of grief, God has sent me a little joy.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Even though I felt it hard to breath under the heavy blanket of grieving, I was never alone. Spiritually I could feel others praying for me and my family. I leaned on God deeper than I had ever in my life. My only hope every morning was that God would sustain me through another day, no matter the pain or the difficulties. I was frequently reminded of the scripture my mom would sing, almost daily when I was a young girl. “The Joy of my Lord is my Strength” God was faithful to never leave me.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
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Spring is coming on the homestead. Although, today it would be hard to tell because a lovely snow has covered our March ground.
But there have been a few days of sunshine and warmer temperatures. Spring is my favorite season. The weeds have not had time to grow and hopeful little flowers are blooming throughout my homestead.
The goats have loved the warmer weather and the time in their lot. Minnie skips around jumping for joy in the sunshine. The goats’ cat Winston climbs the goat shed and uses the fence as a balance beam soaking up all the sunshine rays that he can.
My hens have started peak egg laying season, we are gathering 12-18 eggs a day at this point. One of my earliest goals in homesteading was to raise a rainbow variety of fresh eggs. I have accomplished this goal.
However, raising chickens is always a work in progress. To maintain a healthy producing flock, we will need to add to your flock yearly. Chickens usually lay productively for about three years. A chicken’s life span is not long and their years of productivity are even shorter. My homesteader husband and I are adding around six chicks to our flock this spring. We probably will try to get Lavender hens, we currently don’t have any purple chickens and we like their look and the fact that they are good egg layers. Lavender hens have a purple/lavender hue to them and can actually be a couple of different breeds of chicken. We are considering Lavender Orpington hens.
Lavender Orpingtons are large chickens that are cold hearty (meaning they will lay eggs over the winter) their eggs are medium to large brown eggs. On average these hens will lay 3-4 eggs weekly, in their prime. Hens usually reach their prime laying age around 18 months, usually laying their first eggs between 4-6 months.
Homestead planning is always in progress. My current projects and plans include:
1) Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar
2) Lime and Jalapeno Kraut
3) Seed starting under grow light and in a plastic jug
4) Developing plans for a small pallet greenhouse/compost area.
Click here for my recipe: https://hettieshomestead.com/2022/01/01/healthier-treats-yummy-spelt-flour-chocolate-chip-cookies/
I hope you enjoyed reading, please like my post to encourage further blogging.
As always, thank you for reading and supporting my blog. Please subscribe if you have not already in order to support my future blogging.
Recently I took an unplanned break from blogging. Life just got the best of me for a bit. If I am being honest, parenting three growing boys, homesteading, and even being a goat Mom can be overwhelming at times. Last week was stressful and discouraging. I felt failure in almost all the corners of my life. I woke up one morning and walked out to my goat shed hoping to be greeted by my sweet little goat babies. Playing with my goats and petting them has been a wonderful experience that both the goats and I have benefited from. Instead of gleeful goat sounds I was met by a desperate cry, “MAAAA !!” from my sweet little Denver. I immediately knew something was wrong. Denver was unable to stand and was obviously in pain. I kept thinking, “How could this be, he was fine yesterday? !”. Going over my goat checklist in my mind, I thought maybe it was his feet. I had planned to give them their first trimming since bringing them home during the long weekend. Hurrying, I got my new goat trimmers out and trimmed his feet. Denver, who is usually full of spunk, was very still and kept looking me in the eye, almost saying, “Help me Mom”. If you have ever been around sheep or goats when they are sick, they have a way of looking at you that lets you know something is very wrong and their cries are heart piercing. When the trimming was done, it seemed to help. I thought maybe he would be better soon. I kept checking on him and noticed he was straining and pawing at his sides. He couldn’t seem to urinate or poop. My husband suggested that I google his symptoms. And there it was, Urinary Calculi, or what we humans would think of as bladder or kidney stones. I read that it was really rare for young goats to develop UC issues. I was hopeful maybe some other methods would help him go to the bathroom. I tried apple cider vinegar, mineral oil, and some goat vitamins. Everything seemed to give him some relief. I kept questioning my carefully planned out goat diet. There was not too much protein, so surely it wasn’t UC.
Finally, after watching my goat become more and more uncomfortable, I decided to call the vet. I picked up the phone and called the same veterinarian practice my Dad had used for almost my entire life. I left a message on their large animal emergency line. I wasn’t even really sure, was my cute little Denver considered a large animal ? I quickly got a call back from Dr. G. Dr. G was one of our vets during my farm girl days. I felt like crying on the phone but held myself together.
Instantly it brought so many memories back for me. If you have ever been a homesteader, farmer, or an animal lover you probably have experienced the loss of a pet. When I was a young girl my Dad had gifted my younger brother and me a cute little Holstein heifer that was orphaned. We raised her as a bottle calf. She became so attached to us that she would frequently follow us and quickly became almost like a dog. We led her around our yard pretending we were training her to become a show cow. I named her Ruby. Ruby had a very sweet nature and loved to be scratched behind her ears. Whenever we arrived home from school, we were greeted by her calling for us in a lot close to our driveway. One day when we were not home, Ruby, probably looking for us, got out of her pen and got hit by a passing truck. When we arrived home on a Saturday afternoon, my Dad found her lying in the yard barely alive. Knowing how hard it would be for us to tell Ruby goodbye, my Dad called the vet line, like he did so many times before for mares, dogs, and cows. Dr. G took his call.
I remember my Dad loading our bleeding calf in the back of our truck and asked me to ride in the back with her (way before seatbelt laws). My younger brother and I wrapped our sweet Ruby in Dollar Store rag rugs and held her in place on the way to the vet. It didn’t take Dr. G long. He took one look at Ruby and knew there was no saving her. I remember his deep, comforting voice as he told me, “Little girl, you need to say goodbye to your cow”. I remember him silently standing in the room as I told our sweet cow goodbye. I cried and wondered why God hadn’t listened to my prayers asking him to save Ruby. My Dad reminded me on the way home that everything that lives dies. I knew it was true, but it still hurt.
Flash forward thirty something years later, Dr. G is on the phone telling me it is probably an UC issue for my little goat. He told me that he would give me some anti-inflammatory shots and hoped that Denver would pass the stones. Dr. G warned that if the crystals didn’t pass, my sweet little goat would need surgery or he wouldn’t make it. My heart sank. After learning how to give him anti-inflammatory shots, I carefully monitored him throughout the weekend. He got better but was still unable to urinate; only little dribbles would come out. Sadly, little Denver’s sides were swollen from his full bladder that he could not release. I knew something was going to have to happen for him to make it. My emotions were raw. I stressed and cried feeling like I had done something wrong to my sweet little goat. The one thing I feared about becoming a goat Mom was happening- I was failing. My husband sweetly told me that I reminded him of my Dad. He said my Dad was always beside himself when a horse was sick, and questioned everything he did. His sweet comments made me reflect and cry even more, missing my Daddy. I could hear my Dad say his version of John 16:33, “If you have a car, you will have car trouble” So, I am sure he would have said, if you have a goat you will have goat problems. Because of my faith and because when I don’t know what else to do, I pray. A couple of my friends were on standby, waiting to offer emotional support or to come help me, some with goat experience and some with Hettie experience.
Early Monday, I met Dr G behind the Vet’s office at the same spot whereI told Ruby goodbye. He told me the sobering news. Surgery would have to happen soon, or my little goat wouldn’t make it. There was a team assembled this time with a couple of vets and assistants. They kindly showed me an ultrasound of this bladder which was lit up with crystals. I decided to go ahead and let them operate. I had an opportunity to tell my sweet little goat goodby, and promised to pick him up soon. Later on that day I got a call that Denver was recovering, and I could pick him up the next day. Sadly, because of the nature of the surgery, the procedure will most likely shorten his lifespan. Still, all in all, I was thankful that my goat had survived and had some relief. Now every time I feed him, he looks up almost as if to say, “Thanks Mom” and then he pees.
I couldn’t help but to reflect on heaven during my whole ordeal. I thought of my parents, my farm girl days and of course my sweet cow Ruby. I am not sure what heaven will be like. I do know it is more magnificent than I can imagine with my limited intellect. I sometimes wonder if I will just spend my days worshiping God the Father and Jesus, or if I will be living a version of my best earthly life. I wonder if I will be a farm girl again with pain free feet that can go barefoot on cool summer grass for hours. I wonder if I will sit at the foot of the giant maple and watch Ruby eat grass. I wonder if I will hold my unborn child and learn the color of their eyes. I wonder if I will cook in the kitchen with my mom singing hymns in harmony. I wonder if my dad will twirl me around again, excited to see me. I feel certain there are lots of beautiful unknown things waiting for me on the other side. In the meantime, I will try to live my life here with a heavenly perspective, trying to take every hard day and moment with grace.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.