Episode 2: A heartwarming & heartrending summer...

Lost cows, damaged chickens, fairs with goats, and summer exchange students.

Show Notes: A heartwarming and heartrending summer…

Well, our first podcast has been up, liked and shared! It’s taken a while to get this second one up – some technical difficulties and some time issues. But, we are getting on track and figuring all this stuff out! So, yes, it is time to ramp up and get this going! We are now half-way through the winter and running head-long into a new year. In this podcast, I talk about last summer, give you a glimpse of farm life, the sad bits, the happy bits and other adventures.

Izzy and Annie walking through a patch of woods, heading to the lower pasture.

In June, we left the farm in the hands of a trusted farm sitter and took off for Chicago. My cousin was getting married! We took a couple of extra days to swing over to Davenport, IA to visit grandma and headed home. It was a good trip. But coming home to the farm was stressful. We immediately found two young chicks that had been attacked by a dog. One was nearly dead, the other was hanging in there with a rotten, torn up wing and gangrene spreading into his chest region. The first was quickly dispatched and the second was treated. We felt like he had a good chance. We banded the wing, gave him our super-secret farm salve – some on the wing after cleaning as best as possible with betadyne, and a small amount injected sub-q in the breast area in several spots over the gangrene. Within 3 days, the infection was gone and a few days later, the banded, shredded wing fell off. Wingless, as we call him, is now the heaviest, healthiest rooster on the farm. He does have to work a bit harder to get the girls, though.

The chickens weren’t the only problem. Our cows were gone. They had been accidently locked in the lower pasture – where fencing is bad – at best. Since they could not come back to the barn, they wandered off and were taken in by a neighbor. Of course, it took 2 weeks of us searching to stumble across them stashed away at a neighbor’s farm. They raise massive long horn cattle. Our three were like midgets at a giant convention. It took two more weeks to get them home, although they were less than a mile away. They came home a bit thin and continued to drop weight. We struggled with a resistant parasite issue and finally got Annie and Espresso (our little bull calf) back on weight. Meanwhile, Izzy went down and we struggled to help her. She finally died. Post mortem, we discovered that her hips had been broken by excessive breeding by the monstrous long horn bull.

What many folks don’t realize is that even though there are an abundance of farm animals here, and some are indeed, raised for food, we love and cherish all of them. It is heartbreaking to loose one, especially one as sweet and wonderful as our dear family milk cow, Izzy.

Selfie showing the kids swimming at Manatee Springs State Park.

But, as sad as that was, the summer was also full of hope, adventure and fun. We took our German exchange student, Tobi, to Florida for a roughing it sort of vacation! We stayed at the Ichetucknee Family Canoe & Campground immediately adjacent to the north gate of Ichetucknee Springs State Park in northern Florida. Our first day was spent exploring Ichetucknee and swimming in it’s two clear spring heads. The rest of the week we spent spring hopping in the area, visiting Fanning SpringsManatee Springs State Park, and so much more! We brought Tobi home and then said a bittersweet goodbye as he headed back to Germany.

Fresh Air Fund child from New York was so much fun! Here he is meeting one of our goats, RC Cola.

In July we shared our farm with a delightful young man (7 years old) from New York. He was a Fresh Air Fund child. 7-10 days of farm life for a city kid. What a blast! And not much longer after we dropped him off, we picked up Yugene from South Korea – part of a month long 4-H exchange program. Yugene was a city girl too.

Our friends and exchange students learning to kayak and enjoying the lake!

We introduced her to camping, kayaking and farm life. In between those two fell the our whirlwind summer experience – goats & kids at the County Fair. Preparing, attending, cleaning up after, and recovering from the county fair takes the entire month of July! The kids work hard with their animals, make pen posters, work on project books and farm signs to get ready. Then it’s four grueling days in Virginia’s deepest, humid heat, showing goats and answering lots of visitor questions about them.

We had barely recovered when we picked met up with a 4-H exchange student from Norway who spent two great weeks with us and our year-long student for this year. He came to us from Bangkok, Thailand. We introduced him to rural American living and began to prep for the State Fair. Another 4 days with goats. This time, though, it was cooler – almost cold at night. And, most of the work, including posters, project books, etc. are recycled for this event.

Eryn & Thomas showing off RC Cola’s winnings at the #VirginiaStateFair

Thomas and Eryn did great at both Fairs – but Eryn really cleaned up at State. Her adorable goat (who happens to be my morning coffee/porch pal) took all the Champion titles for her division. What a show! Both of the shows pay off – a bit. At the County Fair, Eryn sells goats at the auction and both kids get cool prizes for top placement as well as cash premiers for placing. At the State show, there’s the added benefit of scholarship funds that are collecting cash each year.

It was a crazy, busy summer. Lots of kids coming and going. Lots of fun and activities. A bit of a heartbreak too as we still miss our sweet, sweet cow, Izzy. Thus is life on the farm. You learn, adjust and move on. I personally would not trade this job for any that I’ve worked and I am so looking forward to both sharing this adventure with you through podcasts and blogging as well as with our future students at LoSU!

We hosted 4-H students from Norway and South Korea and an AYA student from Thailand this year!

I hope you are enjoying this new journey for us. We do have a lot to learn about podcasting, farming, educating and raising kids in a wholesome way and we hope you will follow along on our journey and learn with us! Next week, we will talk more on the exchange programs, the USDA youth loans and getting the farm ready for winter. We’ll see you then!

Resources

About the Farm – Discover the farm and our offerings.

Offsite Resources

Stories of an Unschooling Family – excellent resource on unschooling and record keeping.
LOCAL STEW U – our farm-based high school website!
Ichetucknee Family Canoe & Campground  – One of Florida’s best kept secrets. Rustic campground and river running company.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park – 2 clear spring heads and an unbelievable rafting experience on cool, clear water through native Florida habitat
Fresh Air Fund  – Host an inner city child for 7-10 days. Give them a country experience they will never forget.
States 4-H Exchange Program – Brings youth to the US for complete cultural immersion.
AYA Exchange – Full year student exchange program


 

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