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.

 

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Calf Conversations

I like to talk for our animals. I know precisely what they’re saying. It’s a gift. So, I tend to take it upon myself to make sure their voice is heard around here.

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Hello there.You’re a face I’m not used to seeing out here. Hey, how about this warmer weather? Nice, huh? Look, I’ll cut to the chase. I know the farmer is feeding bottles right now and I realize that I’m a little old for that, but  could I trouble you to–“

“MOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

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“Dadgum it, Ethel! I was trying to win her over with my charming -innocent-cute face- pose!!

 

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“Get back in there!! This is my turf! You better check yourself before I wreck you with my horn nubbins, you obnoxious foghorn! Know your place, woman!”

Wow…the niceties literally went out the window. Note to self–49 has a temper!

I think I’ll just turn around and talk to a baby.

 

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Hey, little guy!

 

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“You got a bottle?”

Um, well…no, but it actually appears you’ve already had your breakfast.

 

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“What if I stretch my neck just a leeeetle longer?”

Nope, sorry, buddy.

 

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“You’re dead to me.”

Oh, it looks like we have a new ringleader at the window.

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“Yeah, you know what they say…50 is the new 49.”

I’m sensing a bovine hierarchy around here.

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“I’m gonna try this move one more time. No? Still not getting a bottle? (Sigh) Those were the good old days.”

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“Mmmm, 50, I just LOVE that new perfume you’re wearing. What did you call it again? Dolce and Gabarna?”

I tell ya, rarely a dull moment. This country air sure is good for a person’s sanity.

 

 

Things to Watch Out For on the Farm

The girls and I hopped in the truck this morning for a ride along with the farmer as he fed. I brought my camera along today because sitting in the house on these cold, drab days washing dishes, “catching up” on laundry (2 farm kids and a husband that is splattered with manure daily and I have the reel of “This is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends” on replay in my head except it’s with laundry), and feeding hungry kids and a husband all at different times leaves this mama feeling a little uninspired sometimes. So, when I feel uninspired, I go out looking for inspiration. Granted, it’s a little more difficult with winter not being the most beautiful of seasons, but it always there if I’m looking. 🙂 Today, it came in the form of literally “looking.” Or maybe I should say “watching.”

The first stop on our feeding rounds is the heifers and the not-so-favorite bull.
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This is Instinct. He’s two years old. Give him another year and he’ll be a muscled up, mature Jersey. Any bull is unpredictable. We always operate with caution no matter which breed of bull we’re dealing with, but Jerseys have a reputation for being extra ornery. Given half a chance, this dude will clean. your. clock. He’s a beautiful safety hazard. If Instinct were to tell you a little bit about his likes and dislikes, here’s what he would say:

“Hi, my name is Instinct, and I like my grain. Quickly empty it into the feed bunk and we’ll have no trouble here. Disclaimer: I may or may not bristle up, bellow, and paw the ground at you while you empty the feed. Depends on the day. Depends on my mood. Should you find yourself on the other side of this fence with me, my “instinct” to show you who’s boss around here will no doubt manifest itself. Drive that tractor through my field and I will exercise my right to headbutt the hay bales on the front end loader. Try…just try to put one of my lady friends in the squeeze chute and that mess of metal and I will throw down! Oh, and after I’m done with this grain, I will show you how creative I can be with feed bunk placement. I fancy metal art projects. I DON’T fancy people.”

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We caution anyone that comes to the farm: Watch out for Instinct.

Shortly after, we drove through my dad’s pasture to check his beef cows.

Lot’s of new babies are being born and, that being said, you really have to watch out for little black blobs in tall grass.

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We scoured the ground while driving through the field so as not to run over a calf and look what we found!

One must always watch out for hidden calves.

And then one must always watch out for mamas.

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It goes back to that whole “cleaning your clock” idea. Jerseys are so used to being messed with and their natures are usually docile and gentle. Beef cows, on the other hand, can make for some entertaining stories every once in a while. For example, the farmer got chased back into his truck yesterday after trying to find out the gender of a new calf. His truck barely got out unscathed. Dents in farm trucks are a common occurrence. That mama apparently wants her calf’s gender to remain a secret. (SO wish I had been there and seen that!)

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The last thing that we always have to watch out for are these two. They might be little girls, but they are FEARLESS. No concept of danger = turning Daddy into a nervous wreck, sometimes. But, neither one of us would trade raising them in the country on a farm. Teaching them to watch out for things…and for each other…will come.

Milestones

This morning, I dropped my baby off at school for her first day of kindergarten.

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I haven’t cried…yet. Luxe isn’t allowing me a chance to. However, I feel like a piece of my heart broke off and stayed at school with her. I can’t wait to pick her up so I can hear about her day.

That Band-Aid on her arm is from a booster shot she had to get on Monday. We got her a little stuffed Husky dog named Slush for moral support. However, I only thought she had to get one shot. They informed us there were 2 for this visit.

Let the meltdown commence. She was bawling before the first needle prick.

Taegan doesn’t like to show weakness, so we walked back out to the parking lot where my mom waited with Luxe with a red face and wounded pride sporting Band-Aids on both shoulders. My mom hugged Taegan and said, “You’re so brave! Such a big, strong girl!”

Taegan sourly replied, “Actually, I cried…”

We got her buckled in and had to chuckle. It’s rough being 5 and beating yourself up because you failed to meet your own self-imposed definition of brave.

But, she is brave. Brave without even realizing the risks she takes.

For instance, a week ago, the farmer had some dry cows with the milk cows. She knows they’re dry because he writes a big “D” on them with a hot-pink paint stick. We have a dry cow pasture where all the expecting mothers usually reside, but he had been letting these few come in the barn with the milk cows to eat grain, but not get milked.

Well, he walks out the other day to find them corralled off in a separate pin that leads to the dry cow pasture. Taegan, our little wisp of a girl, had sorted the dry cows out of the herd and put them where she thought they ought to go. Dry cows need to be in the dry cow pasture, so, by golly, they’re going in there tonight!

Usually, the farmer gets angry when he finds Taegan in the holding pin with the cows. It’s dangerous. She knows that. As he started to get mad, he realized what she’d done and just had to stare in shock for a minute.

“Daddy, we gotta get these dry cows in with the rest of them.”

“Ummm…yep, we do…,” he said.

Her grandma has given her the moniker “Little Pol” around here. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the show, “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” but it’s Taegan’s absolute favorite. She DVR’s it and watches the reruns over and over and over. He’s a veterinarian who has a HUGE clientele in Michigan and does a lot of work on–you guessed it–cattle. Taegan has been known to perform procedures on her calves. The other day, one had a “twisted stomach”, so she was caught getting it on it’s back and rolling it over. The calf was perfectly fine, but it took one for the team.

That being said, I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up this morning and, with hardly a thought, she said, “A vet.”

It’s funny because right now, knowing Taegan, I can’t picture her doing anything else. That would be perfect for her.

Today is the first day of her academic career. It’s a milestone that begins a channeling of all this intelligence into more specific things. She’ll continue to learn more about what interests her and what doesn’t. Starting now. Kindergarten, to this mama, is the first step in the journey of growing up. And the farmer and I get to walk that journey for a while with Taegan, our little spirited, capable, determined daughter. We’re so proud and so blessed.

Winter Scenes in the Country

To celebrate the upcoming (hopefully) week of nicer weather, I decided to share some snow pictures I took one day a couple months ago. These are the things I see when out and about our farm.

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Heifers… and pines. Glorious pines.

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Snow-covered rocks in water like glass.

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Filthy trucks caked in red dirt insulated by a layer of snow accented with a few icicles here and there.

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White horses. There are few things more beautiful than a white horse in snow.

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Black horses. I couldn’t leave her out.

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Red horses. (More just kept appearing!)

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Men carrying axes. (????)

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Men breaking ponds. (Phew! I was concerned.)

Have a lovely week and a happy Valentine’s day!

Breauna