Just wow!

From the moment our children come into our lives they become our whole world!  When they are very small we hold them close and protect them, usually starting off by baby-proofing the whole house.  It seems that every stage in their lives comes with new independence for them and new things to protect them from for us.

With our oldest daughter all these things are exhilarating and terrifying. For me, Katelyn exposes  us to everything “new” for the first time.  I like to think that she clears the way, smooths the ground and paves the road for this journey called parenting.  Sometimes I forget that she is growing up because no matter what she is doing I see my first-born, little girl.

My biggest fear is always the choices that we make as parents along the way.  We want to make sure that she will have all the opportunities to achieve her life dreams. It is so important that all of our children are strong, confident and brave. The world is a very scary place!  If we have guided them to be honest, caring and compassionate, then we are doing something right.

As she usually does, Katelyn brought me to tears last night.  She is staying about and hour and a half away from home for a four-day weekend. Being an active member of the Lakes Region Chapter of the New Hampshire FFA, she is attending the State Convention!  She was selected to receive an award.  She had to work hard for this award, preparing her resume and interviewing for it.  The award is given out in four levels. While we had received notification that she was selected for an award, we had no clue what level she had qualified for.

 We made it to the Radisson hotel, I felt like we were stepping back in time, it looked like a castle!  Katelyn met us in the lobby.  She gave us a tour of all the floral arrangements that had been entered for judging, including hers.  We saw all the FFA Chapter displays, all including the word “Voltage”.  Later we learned it is the theme word for the year for the FFA nationally.

   Surrounded by blue corduroy jackets and Chapter members in their Official Dress, it was hard not to feel the electricity in the air.  We took our seats and we were instantly surrounded as they formed a massive conga line, parading through the entire banquet hall.  The music, dim lighting and hundreds of young leaders with their glowing smiles ignited and spark inside me.  This was exactly what I wanted for our daughter. Seeing her in this element, with all the other FFA members that share a passion for agriculture like she does, all I could feel was joy!

 The session was called to order and I felt honored to be able to experience this with her.  You see, I spend a lot of time with our children and their 4-H clubs, but I never really get to be a part of her FFA experience.  I finally felt like I got to connect with her on her FFA journey!

Award time came.  There were four members from all over our great state of New Hampshire that were asked to take the stage.  The awards were to be read from lower level to highest level (all of which are a big deal!!  These awards are for entrepreneurship, these are all young leaders preparing to start their own business!). As I sat there listening and applauding for each recipient my heart pounded harder, waiting to here “Katelyn Yazinka” over the speakers.  When her name wasn’t even the third name called my eyes began to well up and I was short of breath. Her eyes met mine as we both realized she was receiving the top honor!  I was exploding with pride!  It was just one of those moments that you learned so much from. I know she is a strong person.  I know she will be successful. I know she will never give up on her dreams in life.  A moment where I can say she has grown, taking another step towards independence.

While this is one of the biggest things Katelyn has achieved in her 16 years, I can still say it doesn’t measure up to one of my biggest achievements…her!!


Mud…it sucks!

pig mudToday was one of those extra special days.  You see, it isn’t everyday you get to eat birthday cake.  Since Russell is now 12 years old, we had to celebrate!  After a breakfast of homemade waffles and real maple syrup, we jumped right into presents, cake and ice cream.  Russell spent the majority of the day working on the various Lego sets he received.  I wish I could say that the whole day was fun and games.

There is always work to be done, today was no different.  Our small barn has been in desperate need of repairs and upgrades.  The first project of the day was to replace some of the support beams on one whole side of the barn.  If this didn’t seem like a big enough task, add in the dreary, wet weather.  Not a speck of sunshine in sight all day.

We managed to get two of the four posts replaced.  We figured it would be best to let those set and allow the concrete to firm up before we finish up the wall.

Since the day was still young we figured we should try to accomplish something else.  We only have 10 days before we are into our farrowing season this Spring.  We have 8 sows due between April 11th and May 31st.  It only made sense to begin moving them out of the pasture and into the barn.

Most pigs don’t take to being physically forced to do anything or go anywhere. We have a great system for moving our pigs around the farm.  We have worked with all our pigs since they were piglets.   When we need to relocate a pig or put it on a trailer, we make a “tear drop”.  When you take a single cattle panel and bend it so the ends meet it makes a portable cage.  We then just lift it over the pig we want to move and gently walk her along.

Even with this great technique there are always things that don’t go as planned.  The Spring weather is partly responsible for today’s frustration.  Spoinky and the rest of the herd provided the rest.

So the weather has caused the winter pasture to be extremely muddy, in some areas it comes up over our tall boots.  The depth isn’t even the worst of it.  While we ran around the pasture attempting to weed Spoinky out from the other 8 pigs, we quickly discovered a problem.  The pigs could run, but not us!  The mud had waged a war against us, grabbing tight on our boots and holding us in place.  Each step was a major achievement, especially if we kept our boots on.  It was absolutely exhausting.  At one point I leaned against the fence to catch my breath.  As Marcus continued the quest to single out the one sow we were after I caught myself in a moment of laughter.  Just witnessing his personal battle with the mud tickled my funny bone.  Between his feet being randomly stuck and his body continuing with the momentum of the chase, he was reminiscent of the blow up sock men you see at a second hand car dealership.  After that, all it took was a loss of balance that almost took him down into a bed of mud, I couldn’t help it!  I was rewarded with a genuine look of disgust!

Just as you might have suspected, what goes around comes around.  As I rejoined the chase I was quickly put in my place.  As we cornered Spoinky I suddenly found my feet cemented in place.  When 600 pounds of nervous pig is running at you, you get out of the way.  Or not.  My mind and body were in sprint mode, but my feet did nothing.  Closer and closer she came until she had run me right over!  Yeah, that’s right, flat out on my back in the thick, black pig mud.  There I was covered in mud, a banged up knee and wounded ego as I hear Marcus chuckle while asking if I’m alright.

In the end we got the tear drop around Spoinky and she quietly walked to the barn.  All that hard work paid off.  But it did leave us with a strong opinion on working with livestock in the mud.  It sucks in more ways than one!!