When You Give a Toddler a Kitten

When you give a toddler a kitten, cuteness abounds. Even if you feel a little sorry for said kitten because she is definitely taking a fair amount of abuse all for the sake of teaching a small child how to treat her.

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“Here kitty, kitty, kitty…”

The sweet savor of victory! Even if Luxe resorts to pulling them out by one leg…or their throat. Whatever works!

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This is the girls’ little female kitten. Her name is Pippa.

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It appears that Pippa’s attempts to run at this point are futile. You shoulda’ tried that beFORE she caught you, honey.

And then there were two! Pounce is Pippa’s brother. He’s a glutton for punishment. He comes running anytime anyone comes outside. You would think he’d go running as soon as he saw who it was outside, but no… He’s obviously starving for love no matter what he has to endure to get it.

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I think Luxe has figured out that she can basically paralyze him with this style of choke-hold. I’ll be submitting this to Webster’s Dictionary when they need a visual representation of the word “mischievous. Pounce says, “Haaaaalllppp!!!” and Pippa’s look clearly says, “I hate my life.”

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But, just look at that little face. Such love and glee.

Thank you, Pounce and Pippa, for being so patient with a baby. Certain animals just seem to know.

Messes and Miracles (The Flood, Part 2)

The rain turned into a light mist and then dissipated. While enduring the waiting, all I could do was pace…or clean. The girls were inside with me and we were all restless. Little Luxe was feeling the vibes and constantly wanted me to hold her. Taegan decided that a rainy day was good day to go to Papa & Nanny’s, so she took off before Leslee came in the house.

When he walked in, I was ready to get in the side-by-side and go see the situation. He was hesitant to even go driving around because the sound of our Ranger is a call of sorts to our cows. They know when he’s driving around in it that 1) food is coming or 2) it’s time to go to the milk barn. Our stranded cows were already motivated to be milked—as they are every morning—and Leslee didn’t want that to entice them to attempt crossing the creek. It was way too deep and swift!

Not knowing cattle as well as he, I asked, “Are cows good swimmers?”

“Ehhh, they do alright. They really need to be able to bounce off the bottom while they swim to stay afloat. I don’t think they could ever get any footing with as fast as it’s moving and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 10 feet deep.”

Well, that settled that for me. Cows are big, but they’re not that tall. I was really hoping that even if some did attempt to cross this morning, worst case scenario would be getting washed down to a different property, not drowning.

“Can we go check on them? See if they’ve moved or maybe if they’re even there at all??”

He hesitated, but curiosity and concern won out. We loaded ourselves and Luxe into the Ranger and took off for the only vantage point Leslee was able to get to.

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Beauty amidst disaster

It was a muddy mess of a ride with little flood-made rivulets all over the property. Dairy farms tend to be muddy, anyway, so it made an everyday problem ten times worse.

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Sometimes disaster creates beauty.

As we drove through the first gate, the cows that had stayed on higher ground all night were gathered…just standing there. That’s not normal.

“See, look at them,” Leslee said. “They know something’s wrong. You should have felt the mood in the barn this morning. They were mopey and a little tense. They’re missing the rest of the herd.”

He called another cow by name and said, “She’s been bawling quite a bit this morning.” (Bawling means “calling by mooing” if you’re not familiar with dairy lingo). “The girls she’s with aren’t the ones she usually hangs out with.”

Cows have cliques. They stay together for the most part, but they have their certain little tribes within the group. Kind of like people. You tend to separate into different age groups, different likes/dislikes, etc.

Listening to him speak with such care and intimate knowledge of his cattle led me to think of all the bad press farmers get regarding their treatment of animals and the farming practices they choose to implement. I’m sure I could meet some farmers around the world that practice a moral or ethical code that I would not agree with. Show me a career field that DOESN’T have unethical or immoral people. But, THIS farmer on THIS day and every other day is what I know. And it’s worth sharing in a world that seems to be so angry all the time at the people providing them food. This man knows them all by name or number, knows whom runs around with whom, immediately realizes one might be walking with a limp, notices when droopy ears might be a sign of sickness…all of it. He cares.

We arrived on a high-point from which Leslee had last seen a few of the trapped cows. I’d never seen anything like it! Water was EVERYWHERE—to the point I was disoriented about location. I couldn’t pinpoint where exactly we were from where they were because all dry land was covered.

We looked through a gap in the trees and about 250-300 yards across the water, we could see some cows. Not all 36, mind you, but at least some. Leslee breathed a small sigh of relief and said, “They moved.”

“What do you mean they moved?”

“That’s not where they were when I came over here last. They were able to retreat.”

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“Ok, so that’s not the piece of land they were on before?”

“No, it’s covered now.”

I felt an overwhelming amount of gratitude to God then. A friend had told me she was praying for God to put “a hedge of protection” around our cows and seeing them butted right up to a line of trees immediately made me think of her wording. A hedge. That’s exactly what He had done. And whether He had given them some extra intelligence or moved them Himself, they were on higher ground.

Fortunately–and yet still unfortunately–we could only see 6 or 7. Although Leslee was glad to see some had survived, I could tell he was preparing himself for the worst. Thirty-six cows was over half of our milking herd. When you’re a small operation, every last cow matters. Six or seven of 36 was not going to improve our potential loss. Replacing thirty cows was not an option for us financially. The only option upon suffering a loss of this magnitude was selling out and starting a new, unknown journey.

“These are the same cows I saw earlier. I don’t see any new ones,” he said.

“At least these are still OK. We know He’s got these. Maybe we just can’t see the other ones. There’s a lot of trees and brush they could be hiding in. Or maybe they got separated from this group and they’re holed up in a different spot.” Positive Polly here…trying to lift her husband’s spirits.

I was choosing to believe it. I was still going to believe that God had saved every last one of those cows and I just couldn’t see them. So, I got back on the computer and updated our friends and family about the current situation while continuing to ask for prayers of protection. The tremendous outpouring of love, offers of help, and prayer was palpable. If it’s possible to tangibly FEEL the power of prayer and love, I was feelin’ it.

It gave me a good boost for what was next. More rain was coming.

 

Messes and Miracles (The Flood, Part 1)

Friends and family are familiar with our story, but I haven’t shared it publicly. So, in an attempt to not forget, I share it now and I hope all my loyal readers will hold me accountable for finishing it. Although we consider ourselves extremely blessed all the time, this is the full, behind-the-scenes story about the time God showed the little Krider family tremendous favor, goodness, and love in a very tangible way.

The flood began at midnight Friday night. I remember waking to loud peels of thunder and seeing lightning flash. It was difficult to go back to sleep after that for the strobe light show the lightning was causing on our walls followed by immediate thunder. Over and over again. It didn’t take long for Leslee to be out of our bed and 2 little girls to be in it.

Leslee usually moves to the couch on nights like this one. Protection is of more importance than sleeping, so the girls and I try to sleep knowing Daddy’s watching. Little did I know that not only were we under a flash flood warning, but a tornado warning, as well. Also unbeknownst to me was the fact that my husband had attempted to go outside and round up our entire herd of cattle to take them to higher ground, but the lightning wouldn’t let up for a second, so he came back in. You have to make tough decisions in times like that: Do I risk my cattle and our livelihood or do I risk myself and possibly leave my wife and children without me?

The girls and I didn’t get much sleep that night and Leslee didn’t get any. Watching. Waiting. Fretting. Praying. The weather let up a bit and I woke to the sound of the front door latch clicking. He was on his way to the barn. I got up and made myself some coffee, started my normal routine, and hung out with Taegan while Luxe slept in. Taegan and I decided to do a little Bible devotion/study—something that we rarely  get to dive into because Luxe isn’t one to cooperate yet. She’ll come sit on Taegan’s notebook while she’s trying to write. Or talk over what we’re trying to talk about. Or pull Taegan’s hair. Or steal our pencils and run off. Or it gets really quiet because she’s silently wreaking havoc in a different room. Simply put, it’s hard for either one of us to concentrate. So, we took advantage of her sleeping and sat down to talk about Phillippians 4—for no other reason than that it was the verse of the day on my Bible app and we decided we’d just talk about the whole chapter and our takeaways.

Looking back, I believe it’s impossible us sitting down to look at that particular Scripture was a coincidence. We were at verse 6 –“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God—“ and then my phone rings.

“Hello?”

“Hey…um…I’ve got something to tell you…,” said my husband in that ominous tone people use when their news is not good.

On immediate alert, I reply reluctantly, “Okaaay?”

“Breauna, I couldn’t milk all the cows this morning because over half the herd is trapped by the creek. And it’s not just because they can’t get across to me; they’re trapped in the middle of it. They’re on an island with water on all sides and I don’t know what to do.”

His voice broke on the last word. My husband without a plan and desperate is something I have rarely observed in our years together. He’s resourceful. He’s inventive. He easily sees solutions and quickly solves problems on the fly. However, he had no options that were within his physical capability.

“This isn’t good, Breauna.”

Knowing him as I do, I could tell he was on the verge of a breakdown.

“Why did I let them down there?! Why didn’t I just swing the stupid gate the other direction?! Breauna, what was I thinking?! I should have gone out there at midnight and moved them!”

“WHAT?!” I replied. “No way! You would have been absolutely nuts to try that with that lightning!!”

I love storms. Like, LOVE them. It’s amazing to me to see God’s power so magnificently displayed. I’ve never been afraid. I find security in knowing my Father is the One behind all of it. I respect the safety hazards they produce, of course, but I don’t fear them. Leslee calls it reckless. I call it an exercise in faith. However, I’m glad He chose not to test the Father that night. I wouldn’t have, either. It was like nothing either of us had ever seen before. There were a few times I flinched in the house and pulled the covers over my head.

Leslee continued. “I watched the weather and they said we might get, like, 7/10th’s over night, but the flooding would begin around 10 this morning. I thought, ‘Ok, that’s alright. I’ll have them milked by then and make sure they can only stay up here where it’s high.’ But, that’s not what happened. I don’t know what to do!! If we lose those cows, Breauna, we’re finished. There’s no coming back from it.”

I knew it, too. The part of the story I didn’t publicly share at all was the fact that none of those cows were insured. In farming, sometimes you have to choose the most likely circumstances to insure against because there’s just so many different, awful, fluke things that can happen in this lifestyle. One can insure against everything and be insurance poor OR you can choose to accept that God is your insurance in some things. Anyone who farms takes a leap of faith almost every day. So many things are out of our control. I personally don’t know any farmers who don’t have strong faith.

We live in a place where there are very high points to keep our cattle, so my husband watches the weather like a fiend, tries his best to be responsible, and asks the Lord for the rest.

I won’t deny I shed a few tears just hearing my husband’s desperation on the phone. Meanwhile, Taegan was watching this whole one-sided conversation go down with an alarmed look on her face. As soon as we finished the call, I said, “Taegan, Mommy’s gotta pray. Do you want to come with me?”

“Yeah, I’ll come with you,” she said, “Why are you crying? What’s going on?”

“You’ll see.”

As we sat there in the little dark closet and I poured my heart out before the Lord, I heard little sniffles as Taegan sat there and held my hands, realizing what was going on. We couldn’t see each other, but I was so happy she was in there with me. I tried my best to be as specific as I possibly could about what I wanted…even though my mind was a mess. I believe if there’s one thing I want to leave my children the most, it’s having taught them how to pray. Specifically. Strategically. Boldy. And fervently. I asked God to perform a miracle for our family, get those cows off that island, and protect them in this storm. Every. Single. One. I also stated, if he chose not to do this, I still knew He was good and that He would take care of this family. I was mindful of the importance of Taegan knowing that, especially.

I finished our prayer and walked out of that closet with an excitement I can’t explain. It was excitement and peace at the same time. I couldn’t hold it in and said to Taegan with every ounce of belief I could muster, “Taegan, God’s going to save those cows.”

She looked up at me and replied, “Mommy, how do you know?”

“I can feel it. He’s going to do something amazing and He’s going to save those cows.”

I called Leslee next. I told him, “I don’t want you to worry anymore about it. God’s going to save those cows.”

“I hope so.”

“He’s going to. I can feel it.”

It was at that point I felt the need to share our situation with my Facebook friends and family. If my hunch was correct, I wanted them to share in this and having people pray for us all over the country sure couldn’t hurt. I typed,

 

Friends and family: I have a BIG prayer request this morning. Our wet weather creek is like a rushing river after last night’s rains and over half our herd is trapped on an island and can’t move. Leslee can’t get to them and is beside himself. Pray hard we don’t lose them. Pray hard the waters go down and don’t rise any higher. I’m not one to use exaggerated words, but this would be a catastrophic loss to our farm and livelihood. Thank you! I believe in the power of prayer and we need some mighty prayer warriors right now!

 

I’ll admit, I hesitated to press “Post” in that moment. Leslee tends to be a private person and I wasn’t sure he would appreciate me making our dire circumstances public knowledge.  And what if my hunch was wrong? Was my faith a little overconfident? I told myself there was no such thing as overconfidence when it came to the Lord. Worst case scenario: Everyone would know the circumstances that led to the end of our farming journey and the beginning of a new trajectory for our family.  I really felt we needed some extra praying power either way, so I pressed “Enter” and we all waited.

 

Crazy About Chickens

I now refer to my daughter as “that crazy chicken lady.” She’s got them perched on her shoulder. She’s pushing them around in her toy cart. She’s got them with her on the trampoline. Everywhere Taegan is, there’s a chicken. We caught her and a friend “teaching them how to fly” in “chick school” today. The premise being that if you throw them up in the air, they’ll flap their wings and figure it out. We quickly put a stop to that.

The pullets we got at the local feed store are growing great, but unfortunately, a coon got one of our Silver Laced Wyandottes. So, we’re down to 5 teenage chickens.

In other news, Taegan is now on a murderous rampage against raccoons. She was sad for a minute…and then it all turned to violence. Trust me, I’ve listened–against my will– to a few different death scenarios. Hell hath no fury like a chicken lady scorned. I thought I’d put that out there for any local raccoons that read this blog. Don’t come hunting at the Kriders.

Taegan and I have named the 5 we have left. I’ll introduce them in a future post. This post is for introducing our newest additions. Taegan’s class hatched 20+ chicks and you can be sure Taegan was all about adding to the family.

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Allow me to introduce you to Apple (left) and Pear (right). Disclaimer: I, in no way, had anything to do with those names. 🙂

And, really, we couldn’t say no when chicks bring her this much joy.

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Luxe likes the chicks…

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but from more of a distance.

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This is Taegan saying “Don’t hit it!” Luxe’s intention was not to hit it, rather to let it know that it better not even think about coming any closer.

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The next question becomes…What do you do when a chick doesn’t respect the boundaries you’re trying to create?

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Sister’s starting to freak out…

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aaaannndd we’re there. We’re freaked out. Apple is refusing to take no for an answer.

So, it’s safe to say Luxe does not share in Taegan’s passion for chickens. That’s ok. We’ll find her thing.

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Apple came over to see me instead. When I asked her (or him…we really don’t know yet) for thoughts on this new life with new people, Apple replied, “I’m just going to keep winging it. Life, chickenhood, my eyeliner…Everything.”

I’m kind of enjoying all of them. Chickens (I can’t believe I’m saying this) are pretty fun. And I’ll make sure I document on video the next time Taegan and the farmer try to catch our teenagers after they’ve been let out of the coop. I’ve not laughed that hard in a long time.

Conversations Between the Farmer and His Wife, Part II

We’re in the second week of the farmer’s low-carb, high protein, no sugar eating adventure. I chuckle as I type the word “adventure…”

This has not been an easy feat for my grains and starch and sugar loving hubs. In fact, he’s been quite cranky. And I get it. It’s only been  two weeks. You do a lot of conquering what your brain is telling you you’re craving in that period of time. Your body has to remember how to pull energy from fat storage instead of just burning carbs. You get a little lethargic and moody sometimes when your body was used to counting on something it’s not getting now. He’s had great days where he’s thought this isn’t bad. And he’s had bad days. I think the phrase, “My life is no longer worth living” comes up periodically. (Dramatic, anyone?)

However, he’s stayed the course like a champ and looked fiercely forward to the one cheat day he gets a week where he goes completely off the rails and has whatever he wants. On the non-cheat days, he can have whatever he wants as long as it’s meat, eggs, veggies, beans, and nuts. And ya know what? He is very visibly shrinking. While he loves that, he still has to complain just a bit because he feels like he’s eating the same things over and over again. (He kinda is…but ya know what? That right there is part of why he’s been so successful).

This afternoon was a bad day. It didn’t help that I’d let our supply of foods he can have dwindle. It also didn’t help that I was within earshot–he’s gotta play it up for that.

Farmer (as he stands with the fridge doors open): “I am so SICK of lettuce! This fridge looks like a stinkin’ vegan lives here. My options are green, green, green…and green.”

Me: “Oh, come on now! Look at what’s in the crockpot for dinner! STEAK! And you’ve liked every meal I’ve made all week.”

Farmer:  (grumble grumble…something about how they’ve been alright, but not his first choice. )

Thanks, honey. Thanks a lot.

Me: “Really when you think about it, I’m not even cooking much differently than I usually do. I mean, what is missing from our meals that I used to make?”

Farmer: “HOT ROLLS! POTATOES!”

Me: “I NEVER MADE HOT ROLLS! And potatoes? We hardly ever had potatoes!”

Farmer: (more grumbles…something about at least he could have had them if he wanted to)

Because of his lack of choices and apparent desperate hunger, he settles on some refried beans mixed with salsa. And continues to be the curmudgeon to my positivity and bubbliness. But, see, this only eggs me on because it’s my greatest pleasure to make him smile and laugh in these moments.

And even though the farmer’s cranky, his mood actually improves his natural sarcasm and wit…which I get a kick out of.

So, I shift gears as he berates the fact that I told him he could have sweet potatoes. For the love of all things good, when will I be serving sweet potatoes?

Me: (with a ornery smirk) “Now, is this how Jesus would talk to His bride?”

Farmer: (as he looks at me incredulously and holds up his bowl with what looks like brown and red mush in it) “Is this what you would serve Jesus??!!”

At that, I am in tears. Laughing so hard I’m crying at the thought of this being the straw that broke the camel’s back for Jesus. He continues on with his spontaneous skit. Passing his bowl of refried beans and salsa to  imaginary Jesus in the chair next to him and saying all kinds of more hilarious, sarcastic things as he offers him our “best” food and hospitality. I can’t even catch all of it because I’m about on the ground. All the while knowing that I in no way forced my beloved to eat what he concocted in his bowl.

However, because of how hard I am laughing, guess who’s smiling…and laughing. The more I howl, the more he cracks up.

And that bad mood takes a severe hit.

 

Jesus’ presence wasn’t so imaginary in that chair next to my husband, after all.