Friday, August 29, 2008

Farm Life= Excitement! Part ONE

When you live on a farm, life is full of excitement no matter what time it is.

The following series contains a few stories. I'm not guaranteeing that you will be entertained by them. I am guaranteeing that this will be a long post. But, the stories were most definitely significant enough that I document them on this here blog.

A few nights ago, excitement peaked at about 11:30 pm. Jason and I were hanging out in the house. I was working on the website and he was sawing logs on the couch. We heard a cry of terror from one of our laying hens that was setting on a pile of eggs close by our house. I was annoyed at the sheer volume of her cry at such late hours of the night, but Farmer Jason knew something was wrong.

He took off out the front door and was gone for a bit. When he returned, he had major adrenaline pumping through his farmer veins. Folks, this is the stuff that farmers live for.

Apparently, a raccoon had wondered upon this hen setting on her eggs and decided that he wanted to feast upon them. Broody hens are fighters and bad-to-the-bone mamas. She wasn't about to go out like that!

During the scuffle, she had her eye popped out. Raccoons like to use the strategy of clawing their eyes out and tearing their heads off. Luckily Jason came out during phase one of his evil strategy.

Jason chased the raccoon off and right up a tree out in a pasture that OUR COWS WERE IN. When I came into the picture, Jason was coming back to the house to get his gun and wife (a.k.a. spot lighter).

We took off out to the pasture. Jason had his gun in hand and I had a poor excuse for a flashlight in mine. The search began for this raccoon who we were sure was going to pay for the missing eye of our broody hen. We looked for about 15 minutes in the top off an oak tree out in the pasture WHERE OUR COWS WERE AT (this is a significant detail).

I have a major phobia of walking in open fields in the dark night. I NEED to be able to see my toes at all times. But, I was trying to be a good farmer's wife and be tough.

Jason realized that we needed a bigger spotlight to see the raccoon in the tree (and not my toes) so he could get a good shot at him. Jason went off to the workshop with the buggy, while I stood in the pasture with my flashlight on the raccoon.

Meanwhile, the cows start getting a bit spooked. Cows are creatures of habit. They get freaked out if anything happens out of the norm- I think this is why Jason relates to them so well:). And we are normally in the pasture with our cows when we are moving them and its never in the middle of the night. Seeing us, means that they will be receiving new fresh green grass in another pasture.

This threw off their routine. The next hour is really a blur to me. It can be summarized in this order of events.

I heard a loud noise.

Then, I saw the cows running towards me through our garden and yard- a side of the fence that they should not be on.

Farmer Jason arrives with the spotlight and begins scratching his head. He does this when something simply cannot be explained.

I attempt to explain the unexplainable to him by simply stating that I was just standing there and here the cows now stand with me on another side of the fence.

Let me paint a picture for you. 60 cows in our front yard grazing in what was once our garden and pooping in our St. Augustine grass. This area is roughly 4 open acres. Imagine me standing in the midst of this with my pajamas on, Crocs on my feet, and holding a pathetic excuse for a flashlight.

But, in the midst of this, my farmer's wife instinct kicked in. I knew that I had to help Jason or the end result could be catastrophic. And we could possibly end up with absolutely no landscaping by the time the cows were finished rubbing up against every newly planted tree and eating every newly planted flower or shrub.

Rowdy (our blue heeler who is simply amazing) and I, worked the cows back into a small section while Jason put up temporary fencing around the cows. I say 'worked' but there were no horses involved here. Only my feet with Crocs on them and a blue heeler. I've always been afraid of cows charging at me. Some of them came within a few inches of my body, but I simply stood my ground and shouted,"Get, get. Get on cow. Get on." Sounds tough, doesn't it? You should have heard my accent that accompanied this phrase.

We finally got the cows fenced up. They ate everything in our garden down. Our asparagus was no more. The tomato plants vanished. The blackberry bushes became twigs. Good thing we were fed up the garden and ready to till it down and start over anyways! The cows did us a favor there.

I received these words from my husband. "Babe. You did awesome. I'm so proud of you." Wow! Talk about worth it! I felt like Anni Oakley in that very moment. Bring it on cows! Bring it on!

And the raccoon got off scot-free. He was probably laughing at us the entire time. Can you imagine this story from his perspective?

The hen is doing well. We had her in a crate for a few days so she could recover and rest. We are happy to report that we released her back with the others yesterday. But, she refused to set on what was left of her eggs and the eggs became Rowdy's treats. I hope she isn't traumatized forever.

I will leave you with this one image. It was my 'view' over breakfast and coffee this morning at 6:45 am. I will get to this story tomorrow for Part TWO of Farm Life= Excitement! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Did you know this?

This is disturbing on many different levels. I saw this Wall Street Journal video on a fellow farmer's blog and felt the need to share it with you.

Although, I do disagree with one point from the video. The grass-fed farmer says that,"We are working with a zero market or margin" in regards to those seeking out grass-fed meats.

This just isn't the case. More and more consumers are educating themselves on what they are putting in their mouths. And my guess is that the rising prices of meat all together will cause even more people to question their food.

The reality is that grass-fed farms are on the rise across the nation and can't keep up with the demand of consumers. Grass-fed meat really is superior in health, quality, taste, and land management. There is no question about that. And small farms like us, desire to offer healthy and naturally raised alternatives to the madness thats clearly getting out of hand to the point to where we are now feeding cows M&Ms.

This most definitely is not to guilt anyone into buying grass-fed meats. The LEMON POST proved that people are going to consume what they desire to consume.

However, I do believe that it never hurts to be educated on the stuff we are putting into our bodies.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kaylyn's First Day of School!

Today was a huge day in the Kramer home.

It started off with a waffle breakfast and a bible study with daddy.

We sent our little girl off to Pre-K. Today was a day we thought would never come and tried to pretend it away. But, it wouldn't disappear and time just wouldn't stand still. So we had to embrace this day.

There was a lot that KK and I had to sift through before she went to Pre-K.

She loves her blankies as I have stated in a previous post. And the girl loves her sippy cups. And she also loves her hiney wiped. None of these things would be cool with a teacher. So, we had to have some major discussion and major training over these last few weeks.

I knew that she would do just fine. But, she is a child that I most definitely have to prepare and discuss things with beforehand. She does not do well with surprises or things out of the norm.

Since this post is heavy on photos, we will just get straight to it! I pretty much took a photo of everything. I think KK at one point felt like 'Brangelina'.

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more sexy than a farmer studying the word of the Lord with his daughter eating oatmeal and eggs with a pink butterfly over his chest. Farmer Jason would not have been happy with me sharing his pectorals with the rest of the world. They are for my eyes (and highway 105 drivers....another story:) only!

Here is KK getting dressed. I had a hard time with the 'first day of school outfit'. I wanted to send her in a dress and Buster Browns on her first day like I used to wear, but I wanted her to be comfortable since she had P.E. today. I opted for a casual ensemble.

Kaylyn's many faces.

My princess and me.....finally I'm in a photo!

KK in the car on the ride in.......see I told you. I took pictures of everything! Oh, and notice that she is getting her some 'blankie lovin' before she had to part with it. She actually kissed her blankie (a.k.a.- my nightgown) and told it that she loved it before she got out of the car!

Now, I had to snap a photo of this. I previously mentioned that this day came at us like a 747 on crack. And when I peeked at the clock on the ride to her shouted 7:47 as if to say "I'M HERE!"

KK with her school mascot......the Lions!

Here is Farmer Jason walking KK to class. The hallway looks awfully desolate for some reason. I can assure that it was quite the opposite. There were plenty of other crazy moms like me with cameras. I promise.....cross my heart!

And, lastly, the infamous classroom picture. What a day!
All in all, she had a fabulous day. She loved every minute of it and kept talking to me about her new friends and her fun teacher. It is a blessing to have a joy-filled teacher who loves the Lord.

Afterwards, Aunt Debbie, the girls, and I went to celebrate at Must Be Heaven in downtown Brenham. Yes. Today was a fabulous day indeed. I didn't even cry.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Room mom in the making......

We walked into a huge tungsten lit room with the sun peeking through the towering stained glass windows yesterday evening. The sanctuary was filled with children of all ages who acted as if they had gotten use to the effects of a non-scheduled and fun summer filled with Popsicles, swimming pools, and family trips. Either that or every child in the room must have had a Dr. Pepper to drink right before they entered the pew-filled room.

Last night we had "Meet the Teacher" night at Kaylyn's new school she will be starting on Monday. I literally had to ask Jesus for His peace to reign over me to keep myself from opening the flood gates. Cut me some slack people. I've been home with her every single day for 4 years. This is all new to us.

Jason and I have approached this upcoming week of school with much prayer and discussion- as of recently. As a matter of fact, it was a discussion that we hadn't had since the birth of our children. I encourage young parents right now to begin discussing and praying over this issue so that you won't be caught off guard like we were. The upcoming school years came out of nowhere like a 747 on speed.

I know the issue of schooling is not always a popular one in the church and lots of people have an opinion about the way things should and must be. But, Jason and I have never really formed an opinion to either side. And still to this day, if you ask us what our schooling may look like next year for our family, we would say,"We don't know." We have seen it done beautifully on both sides of the schooling issue.

While one family feels called to home school and another feels called to private school, they both need to be approached with much prayer seeking only the opinion of a Holy God who knows exactly what is best for your family and child. His opinion is the only one that matters. Decisions based on fear are never okay. The Lord has graciously shown me this recently.

Fears like,"I'm not smart enough to home school."

"I'm afraid that my child is going to join a gang and wear saggy pants if they go to public school." (Yeah right. Can you see KK sagging? She won't even wear pants.)

"I'm afraid our family will think we are weird and overprotective if we home school."

"I'm worried that if my child is in public or private school, they will become heathen children who hate me."

Believe me when I tell you that I've thought all of these thoughts and then some. And some all at the same time. But, Jason and I really had to get passed all of these fears. We most definitely have to protect our children. I'm not saying that we don't have an obligation there. But, the last thing we wanted for our children was to make a decision on such a major deal based on fear. That's most definitely not what the Lord's will is. And I'm a firm believer in that while there is no right or wrong thing universally here (as in, its not exactly spelled out in Scripture), if you ask the Lord, He will show you what is right for your family and child.

We will continue to ask. We will continue to seek. We will continue to hold things loosely in our hands ready to change direction if we are asked to. Sounds kind of flaky doesn't it? I like to call it flexible. Next year may look different. It may not. Only God knows.

So, as of this year, Kaylyn will be going to Pre-K in a Christian-based private school in our small little town. Its 3 1/2 hours a day.

We sat in the sanctuary filled with children and parents last night. The school director was going through and introducing the teachers by name. We had prior knowledge of who Kaylyn's teacher was going to be since there are only two Pre-K teachers in the school. When they announced her teacher, Kaylyn stood up on the pew and began to wave as if she had just met her new best friend. I, of course, was on the brink of becoming a heap liquid. When I had a face to put with the whole experience, it made it real. This was going to be the sweet woman that was going to spend 3.5 hours a day with my amazing little girl. So, of course, this momma was wreck. And I was trying to appear calm and poised like all the rest of the good parents. But, my innards were fighting with butterflies and Niagara Falls.

I have no doubt that Kaylyn will love school. She will love developing friendships and probably become the teacher's pet. I have a good notion that she will end up as the pet. I was the dreaded teacher's pet all through school. Not purposefully. I happen to be a big rule follower. I was the student the teacher chose while they left the room for a brief moment to sit up at the front of the class room with chalk in hand ready to write the letters of the name of the person who dared to disobey the teacher on my watch. Awful I know. But, that was me. The teachers loved me.

Last night, Kaylyn's sweet teacher had a HUGE jar of gum balls on her desk. One of the new students had a little sister who was about the age of two and was all over the place bouncing off the walls. This mischievous toddler sneaked**** over to the teacher's desk and was attempting to open the monstrous jar of gum balls.

Kaylyn quickly walked over to her not knowing that her daddy and I were watching her every move. She very sweetly said to the little girl. "No ma'am. You need to ask the teacher first."

Ha! So funny. That's my girl. The rule follower. Just like her rule-following mama.

We got to meet the teacher and show Kaylyn around her room, her cubby, and her seat. The teacher had mentioned that she noticed Kaylyn was going home at 11:30am. The sweet teacher asked me the most awesome-filled question.

"Would you like to be room mom?"

Instead of standing up on the desk and giving a speech similar to those who of people who win Grammy's and Oscar's, I calmly answered,"I'd LOVE to." On the other hand, my insides were doing the electric slide.

This rocked my world. One of the things that Jason and I have felt very strongly about was being involved in the school and serving there. We want to be an active presence on campus. So, of course, I was giving a major shout out to the Lord after receiving the news of me having the honor room mom. That was no coincidence. It was an answer to prayer.

I'm not exactly sure yet, but I think the duties of room mom consist of party coordinator, cupcake baker, field trip liaison, craft helper, among other tasks. I'm excited to fill my roll of room mom and getting to know the other parents and the students who share a classroom with KK. I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for our family this year. And I have a peace about the path we are currently on. So, that's a good place to be.

Do you think they make bumper stickers for "Room Moms"?

After all, they have bumper stickers for "Soccer Moms" and "College Parents".

Instead of "My money and my child go to [fill in the blank]."

Mine would read "My money, my child, and my cupcakes go to [fill in the blank]."

****Did you know that 'snuck' isn't even a word per the dictionary of Webster? I think it must be one of those words invented by Texans like 'tumped'- a combination of both tipped and dumped.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Ava!

Today my precious niece is ONE! Ava Joy is pretty much adorable. She was beautiful from the get go- her cute little nose, her gorgeous hair, and her piercing brown eyes. Ava also has one of the sweetest little spirits. Sweet, sweet, sweet! I can't get enough of this girl when I'm around her. She will let you hold forever, which is a rarity with my busy baby girl:). So, of course this aunt eats Ava up every chance she gets!

Ava, Happy Birthday sweet girl! You are such a joy to this family in so many ways. I pray that you will grow into a girl who loves Jesus with her heart and glorifies Him with her life. May you always know that you are loved by your family and most importantly by Him.

Love you!
Uncle Jason, Aunt Lynsey, KK, & Laney Rae

We took these photos a few weeks ago in downtown Brenham. I've been waiting to post these for her birthday.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Gotees are groovy!

Despite the outrageous heat, at least once a day we have to let the girls play outside or they go crazy! My girls love outside.

But, yesterday it got a little out of control. Kaylyn and Laney Rae were covered head to toe in dirt. And I'm almost positive the next diaper I change of Laney Rae's will be filled with grit- poor girl! She could not stop eating the dirt. She must be deficient in some mineral or something. Isn't that what that means?

It looked as if Laney Rae had a gotee around her face. I had to take some photos of my girls playing in the dirt. I know it's typically considered a 'boy thing', but my girls can get dirty with the best of them. Wanna see proof?

Jason was working on the roof his mobile chicken coop while we were playing below him in the dirt. Kaylyn decided to be adventurous and climb on top with him. The sun was gorgeous peaking through the trees.

Kaylyn has gotten TONS more adventurous since we've moved to the country. It was rare to find her in the dirt or climbing on top of things up until a few years ago. I might have encouraged it a little too much and probably could stand to be a bit more cautious.

Mission Accomplished!

Jason completed his mobile chicken coop yesterday and moved it out to the pasture. He has been working on it a few weeks now.

He converted an old cotton trailer into a coop for our 300+ pullets that are soon to become layers. He will rotate the coop behind our cows in the pasture to add extra fertilization to the fields, help with fly control (chickens eat fly larvae out of the poo), and help break up organic matter in the pastures. I can't wait to see this come together beautifully in the near future.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Our hen had a bean.........

A kidney bean to be exact!

Jason collected the eggs this evening and brought in this cutie pie of an egg! We've had tiny ones like this before, but never this color.

Folks, I think we have a new layer on our hands.

In a month or so, we should increase our eggs by a gazillion. Well, not really a gazillion. I tend to over exaggerate sometimes. But, we will go from getting around 20 eggs a day to hopefully 300 eggs a day.

So, our little kidney bean egg is a good indication that we have some new layers on the farm.

Is this not the cutest little egg you've ever laid eyes on?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Movin' Cows

On our farm, we use a method called Managed Intensive Grazing (MIG). This is also known as rotational grazing.

Basically, this means that we rotate our cows daily and sometimes multiple times daily through small paddocks of pasture. This ensures them the freshest grass, increases the amount of cows we can run on the farm, allows our forage to rest, and creates an optimum environment for healthy cows.

I really didn't intend to get into all of that. That is just a summary of why we do what we do. I'm sure that my brilliant husband has described this more in depth than I ever could on his blog. While we're on the subject of farmer Jason- HE'S BACK! I just wanted to throw that out there in case you have given up on him. His blog is being updated with stories of poo, cotton trailers, and shoots.

But, in the mean time, here is what it looks like when we move our cows. We get asked this a lot since its typically not the norm.

How do we move your cows?

I took my camera along last week while we were moving cows and snapped some for our website.

Speaking of website- Yonder Way Farm's website is almost complete! I'm thrilled to tell you that it will be making its debut sometime this week. I have to do a few finishing touches and it will be up and running. I seriously can't wait for you to see it. It is unlike any other farm website that we've seen. I think this is fitting since we aren't your typical farm.

In the meantime, here are some photos of Jason and his little helper moving the cows.

Here they are lining up as we drive out in the farm buggy.

They follow us as we walk along the fence line.

#1 is our lead cow. You can see him going through the gate first. We are thankful for our lead cow! He assumes the lead every single time and all of the cows follow him.

By this time, they are practically running to get to the 'good stuff'.

You can see in this photo the grass they just got off of on the left verses the new paddock on the right.