Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Taking a Break

We have a big family get-together planned in July, and my well-worn china barely has enough pieces left to feed us all for one meal.  It's time to get some new china, and I thought restaurant china might be a good idea.  If it can survive the treatment it gets in a restaurant, it might even be able to last here!

After pricing some restaurant china at an outlet, I lamented to a friend how expensive it is, and then she told me about Deck's Glassware and Salvage in Chattanooga.  After reading about it online, Kara and I decided to go today, and what a fun experience!  Here's one of the blog posts that inspired us to go.

Part of the back room at Deck's.

More of the back room.  There was lots more, but I stopped taking pictures and started hunting for china!  By the time we'd finished, I promised Kara lunch and a huge cold drink, which she'd earned.  Then it was time to head home and wash the china.

My 20 dinner plates.  That's Misty having a roll in the background.

20 dessert plates and 20 cereal/salad bowls.  We also bought 20 brand new, white pasta bowls.

Getting ready to wash the china.  I soaked it in water with Dawn and vinegar, then washed it with a scrubby sponge.
My sparkling clean china, ready to go in the dishwasher.

Everything washed up beautifully.  I found two plates with small cracks that hadn't been visible through the dirt, but at 50 cents apiece I'm not too worried.  It gives me an excuse to go back and get some more!
All in all, this was a fun and welcome break from everything that's been going on around here lately.

I think it's going to be fun setting the table from now on!


Monday, June 15, 2015

The Cow, the Calf, the Crisis, the Kids and the Creator

The Cow

This story begins earlier this year when I weaned Siobhan's calf Wellie and dried her off.  The anti-self sucking harness that I used for her was not holding up because of the inferior quality of the surcingles, so I decided to try something called a Tamm Udder Support that I thought would be more efficient and more comfortable for Siobhan.  (Note:  Do not go buy this product!  Please read the rest of the story.)


I kept it on Siobhan for about 6 weeks until her largest quarter, the right rear, had dried off.  At that point I took the udder support off because I wasn't worried about her self-sucking.  When I noticed Siobhan starting to bag up early in May, I put her anti-self sucking harness back on and figured out a way to make it work despite the fact that the rings kept pulling out due to poor stitching.  I couldn't leave the udder support on in case she calved unexpectedly because it would prevent the calf from nursing.  I was surprised and a bit concerned by how huge her RR (right rear) quarter had gotten compared to the others, although it has always been bigger and produced more.

The Calf


On the morning of May 23 Siobhan calved unassisted and I found her just as Remy, her bull calf, got up to nurse.


I gave Remy the day to get as much colostrum as possible, but that evening I milked Siobhan out.  I got 3 quarts from the RR quarter alone.  After that it stayed more its usual size, and Remy seemed to especially favor nursing that quarter.  I kept Remy on Siobhan 24 hours a day, milking her out morning and evening to remove whatever Remy didn't take.

The Crisis




Then on the morning of May 28, the RR quarter was huge again.  It was hard and obviously painful to Siobhan.  I was horrified to get off-colored watery "milk" that was full of slimy, snotty clumps, and I was sure the dreaded Staph A mastitis was back.  After milking I called our regular vet, but he was out of town.  So I called the back-up vet.  He said they had a shipment going to the University of GA lab at 4:00 that afternoon if I could get milk samples ready to send off.  I had a whole box of Pirsue left, but I asked if he would give me Excede (the systemic antibiotic we had used for her last time), and he agreed.  I took the samples and picked up the Excede.  I started the RR quarter on the first of eight Pirsue infusions that evening and gave Siobhan the injection of Excede.   In addition,  twice a day Siobhan gets oil of oregano in her feed along with Vitamin E and a big dose of probiotics.


The next day, May 29, Siobhan's right side looked very strange without the usual separation between quarters.  It seemed to be a reflection of the degree of inflammation that was present.

Since Siobhan was getting Pirsue infusions, I put Remy in a stall overnight to allow the medication to work for 12 hours.  Siobhan was therefore very full in the mornings, even after Remy nursed.  So every morning I made a bucket of very hot water with essential oils (EOs) in it: tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint.  I soaked dish towels in the hot water, wrung them out thoroughly, and held them against the two affected right quarters, as well as the left ones, which also seemed painful; I did NOT re-dip towels.  I used separate dip cups for the affected quarters.  Once Siobhan's teats were dipped, wiped off with a paper towel, and wiped again with disinfectant teat wipes, I massaged each quarter with mint balm.  I wore gloves, and I sanitized carefully between quarters and again after massaging.  Then I wiped each teat again, stripped and milked, massaged some more, sanitized again, and milked out everything I could.

In the evenings, since Remy had been nursing during the day, I omitted the hot compresses and went straight to the massage and milking.

I don't know what I would have done without our daughter, Kara.  From the time I discovered the mastitis, she came out and helped with Siobhan and encouraged me.  Early on she had to "tail" Siobhan to keep her from constantly kicking a foot in pain.  Kara was my faithful "poop patrol" that first week because Siobhan would poop and pee several times each milking, especially in the mornings.  Since I was spending hours each day working on Siobhan, Kara took over cooking and fed us incredible meals--a far cry from the TV dinners we would have eaten had it been up to me.


This was Siobhan's right side on May 30 before I milked.  Our milking sessions had a lot of prayer and tears on my part along with signs of pain on Siobhan's.  For the first time in her life she lifted a hind foot--frequently, although she never aimed a kick at me.  On one occasion she was groaning in pain as I massaged her udder, and I tearfully apologized for hurting her, knowing she couldn't possibly understand that I was trying to help her.  I knew there was something in that RR quarter keeping me from getting everything out.  Finally, after two days with hours of massage and stripping, a huge firm clump came out.

The RR quarter would look much better after massaging, stripping and milking, but the RF was worrying me, too.  Remy tended to ignore it more than the other quarters, perhaps because the orifice is smaller, making it harder to nurse.  But that quarter was staying full and firm, which was worrying, although the milk filtered clear.

And even when the RR quarter was milked out, there was a thickened area above the teat that seemed due to inflammation in the tissues.






























Finally, by June 1, the RR quarter was looking almost normal after milking.


The milk was white with only a couple of small clumps in it, and the left side was nice and flaccid after milking.


I wish I could have used the Tennessee Quality Milk Lab as I usually do, but I wanted a test to go out as soon as I was dealing with mastitis.  TQML sends test results directly to me. Unfortunately, I did not get any results from the mastitis test until a week later on June 4, and then only via the vet.  He emailed the results as an attachment, which proved impossible to open.

Finally I emailed him asking what the result was, and he emailed back that the RR quarter "grew a pretty bad bacteria" that was uncommon and "a pure culture."  He said that I should contact an expert and suggested killing that quarter.  I emailed back to ask what the bacteria was.  He replied that the RR had "puedomonas (sic), resistant to every thing," that the RF "had a staph but it was treatable," and that the left side was clear.  Again, he suggested I talk to an expert.

At that point I began asking some Family Cow board and Dexter friends for help and advice.  The research I found on Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) said that it is untreatable and incurable.  I have since come to understand that, in my misguided effort to keep Siobhan from self-sucking, I almost certainly caused the Pseudomonas by putting the Tamm udder support on her, since it touched her teat and could rub on it.  Combined with the wet weather this spring, despite the aerated net, the dampness and the irritation of the teat end are enough to explain where this rare infection came from.  It's been an additional source of grief to me that I brought this on.  If I can warn anyone else from using an udder support, at least one small good thing will have come out of our fiery trial.  I did warn another cow owner who was dealing with a self-sucking cow, and she told me that her vet told her that to use the udder support would be "asking for mastitis."  How I wish I had known that!  But now you know it, so please don't use an udder support on your cow!

On June 4 there were no clumps in the PA quarter.  But hit with the double whammy of PA along with the Staph A apparently having returned, by Friday June 5, I concluded that Siobhan's situation was hopeless and that her time was up.  She was not looking good and obviously not feeling well, although she wasn't running a fever and she was still eating. With the antibiotics in her system, it would be impossible to butcher her, and I knew I couldn't possibly eat her anyway.  I realized I would have to find someone with a backhoe to dig a grave and find a vet to put her down.  However, there was nothing to be arranged over the weekend, and I needed to keep her from getting a possibly fatal overgrowth of the PA, so I continued to do everything I'd been doing to keep her alive and healthy enough to feed her baby.

After the result came back that Siobhan had staph in the RF quarter, I started Pirsue infusions in that one.  I was suspicious of the two left quarters and why they seemed painful, so I decided to start Pirsue in those.  I called the vet and he authorized two more boxes of Pirsue from Valley Vet.  I had them shipped overnight to be sure I would have enough Pirsue to get through the weekend.  Kara made a trip to Tractor Supply to get milk replacer and a bottle, and we came up with a plan for feeding Remy when the time would come.

The Kids

Saturday nights we usually babysit our grandkids, who are 6, 4 and 2, while Jim and Monique have date night.  Then Jim and Monique come back here to sleep, and we have Sunday morning together.  Jim asked what I wanted to do the night of June 7.  I said I'd love to see the kids, but that I kept bursting into tears throughout the day and I didn't want to upset them.  He replied that they're tough, and if it would encourage me they would come.  So I told them to come.  It did help to see the kids.  They are so delightful that they broke through my fog of grief over Kona and Siobhan, and I truly enjoyed having them there.

On Sunday morning Jim got up early with the kids, and when Kara and I went out to the barn to milk, they came along.  I told them they could stand up by Siobhan's head--out of the way of splashing pee--and give Siobhan some apple treats I had found.  It took at least an hour while I worked on Siobhan, and the kids stood there petting her and feeding her treats.  After quite a while, Kara observed that Siobhan hadn't pooped or peed for the first time on a morning since she had gotten sick, and I could see that she was looking at the kids, listening to their sweet voices, and eating up the affection along with the treats.

Jim asked me questions about Siobhan and explained to the kids how sick she was.  After a while he asked the kids if they wanted to pray for her, and they said yes.  One by one they prayed to Jesus to make Siobhan well, and tears streamed down my face as I listened to their sweet little voices.  Even the two year old prayed, and when Jim prayed, she repeated his words in a tiny echo.  Then Jim began singing:

"Soon and very soon we are going to see the King
No more crying there, we are going to see the King
No more dying there, we are going to see the King
Hallelujah, hallelujah, we are going to see the King."

By the time I finished milking (and crying) it was too late to make it to church, but I told Jim and the kids that I felt like I had been in church that morning.  Not only had they ministered to Siobhan, they had ministered to my hurting heart.  We went back to the house and they all packed up and went home.

The Creator

A couple of hours later my phone rang.  It was Dr. A, the vet who is the head of TQML, apologizing for not calling me sooner.  He had gotten the email I sent to Susan, who does the milk tests, and he wanted to know how Siobhan was doing.  Then he asked me about the results from the mastitis culture.  Our vet had finally managed to send me a copy of the results that I could see, so I opened it and read it to him.  And that was when we discovered a mistake I had made:  Siobhan had "Staph species" or "Staph sp." in her RF quarter, not the dreaded Staph aureus.  After all the time I've spent on Keeping a Family Cow, I should have realized the difference, but my brain had stuck on our vet's report of "a staph," which I took to be his version of "Staph A."  Dr. A told me that since Siobhan's PA quarter was soft and giving clump-free white milk, that if she is strong, he thinks she can heal herself from the Pseudomonas.  The Staph sp. was sensitive to Pirsue and Excede, and he said it's environmental, not contagious like Staph A.  At least three times, he said to me, "Please don't kill your cow needlessly."

When we finally hung up, I thought of the Bible story of Abraham being tested and told by God to sacrifice his son Isaac.  You may remember that Abraham had his son all trussed up on the altar and was holding the knife poised to kill Isaac when God stopped Abraham, showed him a ram in a thicket, and told him to free Isaac and sacrifice the ram instead.  I think I must have felt like Abraham right then--dizzy, confused, hopeful, amazed and not quite sure I could believe what I was hearing.  I believe that God had heard the prayers of my sweet little grandchildren because this was too much to put down to mere coincidence.

Instead of finding a backhoe and a vet, I was heartened to continue my efforts with Siobhan.  I still have questions and uncertainties about what will happen and what her future will be.  I hope Dr. A can answer some of my questions, while others just have to wait.  I don't know what God plans to do.  I know and believe that He can heal Siobhan, even from an infection that is medically considered untreatable and incurable.  Whether that is His plan or whether it is merely to give Siobhan a chance to raise her calf a bit longer and to comfort me that I gave her every possible chance, I don't know.  For now I'm taking things one day at a time.



By June 8, Siobhan's udder was looking much more normal.  The last of the Pirsue infusions was finished on June 12.  After allowing five days for withdrawal, I plan to collect milk samples on the 17th and send them to TQML.  Normally I have to send cultures on a Monday or Tuesday, but Susan has to be in the lab for the next two weekends, so I can send them whenever I want, allowing for a bit longer withdrawal.  Then I'll have to wait a week to know the results.

Meanwhile, God has reminded me that He holds Siobhan in His hands, that He answers prayer, and that I can trust Him with the outcome and the future, whatever it is.  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Lord Gave and the Lord Has Taken Away

My precious, beautiful Kona died this morning at RIVER.  I was not able to be with him at the end, and it breaks my heart that he died alone.  I wanted him to know that he was deeply loved and that he had a forever home.


I didn't get to talk to the vet because she was going into surgery on another dog, but she thinks he had distemper.  Apparently it would explain his symptoms.  Unfortunately, no one knew how serious it was, so I didn't take my phone to bed or I would have gotten the call when Kona suddenly deteriorated about 3:30 a.m.  I could have been with him before he died about 5:30, and my main prayer for him would have been answered.

This all raises many thoughts that are tumbling about in my head, but several things are perfectly clear.

The vets and staff at RIVER did everything they could for Kona.  It was clear that their hearts were captivated by him, too.  Special thanks to Becca, who first helped pull so many ticks off Kona; to Dr. Sprinkle who cared for him when came in the second time and who gave him his transfusion; to Dr. Arnold for the days and nights she cared attentively for him; for Dr. James who tried to call me numerous times last night so that I could be with him; and to all the others at RIVER who gave Kona loving whenever they treated him.  We gave Kona every chance at life, and although it is small comfort, it is what we have.

Whoever let a tiny puppy get into such a starved, tick-encrusted state and then abandoned him on a country road is the one who is responsible for Kona's suffering and death and our terrible grief.  God is not to blame.

My son Jim sent me this verse in one of his emails asking about Kona (and Siobhan):
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  Romans 8:22-24
Whenever I see a little animal that has been killed on the road this verse comes to mind, but I hadn't thought of it in relation to Kona.  It is very apt, though, because Kona's suffering was indeed part of waiting for God's redemption of His creation.  And sadly, people who throw away innocent puppies are also part of this fallen and unredeemed world.  By God's grace, there are others like the vets and the rest of the staff at RIVER who devote their lives to caring for God's creatures.  They are one glimmer of the hope of redemption that God allows us see while we wait.

In His goodness God sent Kona to us to get the only love he was to have in his tiny, brief life.  I don't understand, but I accept His gift.  I trust that Kona is with Him in whatever place He has for the animals He created and loves.  I hope that Kona has met Zephyr and is busy exchanging stories with her and telling her I still love and remember her, and then they will run off to play together, happy and whole.

Kona was amazing, adorable and precious.  I've never--ever--known a puppy who loved with his whole heart, body, mind and soul the way Kona did.  His entire little body would wag along with his tail when he greeted whichever one of us walked in.  He would jump up from the lap where he was sleeping and beg to be picked up by the newcomer for some mutual loving.  He looked at us with his soul in his eyes.  I've never had a dog who would gaze into my eyes the way Kona did.  When we picked him up, he snuggled into our arms like caramel melting.  When I first picked him up on the road, he burrowed into my heart and claimed me for his own, and it was clear that he knew I was his and he was mine.    I don't understand why his little life, so full of potential and so much love to give, had to end so tragically, but he will always be in my heart.  While my heart is breaking right now, I know that our lives are so much richer for having had Kona come to us.

I'm grateful to Jenny for taking so many great photos of Kona last weekend when they were here.  She took the above photos of Kona in the back yard a week ago.  She also sent me this VIDEO of Tai and Jean-Marc praying for Kona.

The title of this post comes from Job 1:21:
"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 
Kona was indeed a gift from God.  The last two photos show the way I will remember Kona, with his heart-full of love shining from his eyes and his tail wagging (you can see the wag from one photo to the next).  I love you, precious Kona.

Friday, May 29, 2015

When God Sends a Gift

Driving home from Chattanooga on a couple weeks ago, I suddenly stopped the car in the middle of the road.  There near the edge of the road, heading into a patch of dense woods, was a tiny puppy--too tiny to be wandering alone.  I called the puppy and it came right up to me.  I picked it up and drove to the nearest house to see if it was theirs.  It wasn't, and all we could assume was that someone had dumped one more defenseless puppy out in the country, although we couldn't figure out why on earth someone would dump such an adorable, friendly puppy.

I called every vet we know, but they were all closed for the weekend, so I drove home with the puppy curled up in my lap.  Kara pitched in, and we gave the puppy some water, which it lapped thirstily.  We fed it a bit of milk and some congealed meat juice, then gave it a bath.

As we bathed it, several things became obvious:  It was a boy, it was skin and bones, and it was swarming with ticks.  I started removing ticks, but it soon became clear the puppy needed more help than I could give him at home.  Kara offered to drive us to R.I.V.E.R., the emergency animal clinic in Chattanooga, so off we went.  On the way, we decided to name the puppy Kona, Hawaiian for "trade wind."  The first dog we had in France was named "AlizĂ©e," which is French for trade wind, and it seemed to fit my theme of wind names which began with Zephyr, Misty (Mistral) and Jet.
At the animal hospital a sweet tech named Becca took us to a room.  She began to remove ticks, and we counted as she pulled them off and dropped them into a vial of alcohol.  After a while, Kona got some prescription dog food and Becca drew blood.  While she went to run the tests, I kept removing ticks.

By the time the vet came to see us, we had some numbers:  At approximately six weeks old, Kona weighed 2.5 lbs. instead of the 5 lbs. he should have weighed.  Even after eating, his glucose was only 62 instead of over 100, which it should have been.  The worst news was his PCV or percentage of red blood cells.  Instead of a normal of 35, Kona's was only 11.  That explained his white gums and tongue, as well as his weakness and lethargy.  Basically, his life blood was being drained by starvation and the ticks.  We were up to 180 by the time I left, and before Becca was done for the night, she had removed over 200 ticks from Kona's tiny body.  She told Kara and me that her previous record in school was a full-grown pit bull that had 100 ticks on it.  I'm not sure that's the kind of record a puppy wants to break at such a young age!

In consultation with the vet, we decided to leave Kona overnight for treatment:  IV fluids, a blood transfusion, prophylactic antibiotics for tick-borne diseases, treatment for intestinal parasites, and a re-feeding regimen.  The vet called us before she left for the night and told us that the blood transfusion raised Kona's PCV to 20, and that he stood and wagged his tail.  When I heard that news, I was pretty sure he would make it.

Before we headed home, Kara called and gave Herb the heads-up that I had found a stray puppy, was getting it treated at the animal hospital, and planned to keep it.  Herb thought she was joking!  He told me later he didn't mind me helping the puppy, but he sure didn't want another dog!  I told him that the puppy had snuggled right into my heart, but that he was going to need a lot of care to recover, and meanwhile we could keep an open mind . . .

Sunday we brought Kona home, quite an improvement over the bedraggled creature I had picked up the day before.  Kona met Hero . . .
. . . and Misty.  He wasn't afraid, just respectfully humble the way a teeny puppy should be.

The grandkids were at the house, and they couldn't wait to meet the new puppy.  Hugs and cuddles were shared all around, and Kona generously handed out kisses and tail wags.  The eldest asked, "Are you going to keep the puppy?"  (Smart little girl!)

Kara told her to ask Didi.  (Smart young woman!)



Take a look at the way our youngest granddaughter clutched Kona in her arms, and tell me what you think Herb said . . .



That was an easy guess, wasn't it?!

Yes, Kona has a home!  I told Herb that his appearance at the exact moment I drove by was an "act of God," and I meant it.  It's incredible to me that such a sweet puppy could have been discarded, but God did not intend this special part of His creation to be wasted, so He literally dropped Kona into my lap!

I remember telling one of my daughters many years ago, "When God sends you a gift, even if you didn't ask for it and even if the timing isn't what you might have chosen, you don't say, 'No thanks!'  You take it in both your hands and say, 'Thank you!'"

So . . . thank You, Lord!

Update:

With company over Memorial Day weekend and the arrival of Siobhan's calf, I didn't get Kona's story posted. However, he quickly wagged his way into all of our hearts.

Just a few days after his arrival, he was sleeping in my lap when Herb walked by. Kona woke up, jumped up wagging his tail, and whined for Herb. I told Herb Kona wanted some loving, so he came over and petted him. Kona kept whining until Herb picked him up. Then Kona settled into Herb's arms and gave tiny little moans of delight, while Herb stood there grinning in delight, too.

Yesterday I spent about five hours treating Siobhan (that will be another post) for mastitis.  When I came in at about 8 pm, I found out that Kona had been acting like he was trying to throw up.  He began doing it more frequently, wheezing at the same time, and about 10 pm Kara drove us to RIVER again.  There we learned some very sad news.  Kona has food bloat because his food has not moved through his stomach and intestines properly, although I did ask our vet about his distended tummy.  He also has aspiration pneumonia with fever, which is causing the wheezing.  And finally, he seems to have megaesophagus, probably the congenital variety, which often appears at weaning, leading to emaciation (and perhaps making him prey to so many ticks) and aspiration pneumonia.  This would explain--although never, ever excuse--why someone might have dumped such a precious puppy.

We had to leave Kona at RIVER again, and it looks like he'll be there for a while longer.  He's still bloated, though somewhat better.  (My concern is whether the lack of esophageal peristalsis carries into his intestines and what that would mean for his prognosis.)  His fever is a little better, but his breathing is still difficult.  He's in an oxygen box, receiving antibiotics and nebulizer treatments.

When Kara and I went to tell him goodbye last night, I picked him up out of the oxygen box, and he wagged his little tail like crazy and licked all over my face.  Kara got the same treatment.  When we put him back, he was so weak and tired he laid down at the edge and peered out at us.  I said, "Look Kara, Kona's looking at us!" and he wagged his little tail again.

We're asking God for another gift, that He would heal Kona so he can come home again and have a chance at a happy life.  This little puppy is a ball of love, which he lavishes on all comers, and we love him right back.  Right now there's a huge Kona-sized hole in our home.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Remembrance

Seventy years ago, a young man named Louis Tritschler sailed to war in the South Pacific.  Louis' ship Storm King docked for a while in Manila, in the Philippine Islands.  While the ship was there, Louis was befriended by a kind family who had two daughters named Remy and Clara.

(The photos of Remy and Clara have been lost.  My thanks go to Laurinda Alcantara, who posted this photo on Pinterest.  It reminds me of the photos I remember of Remy and Clara.)


Louis told Remy and Clara about his two younger sisters Ruth and Carol back home in St. Louis, and fifteen year old Ruth became their pen pal.

After the war, Louis returned to Missouri and married his sweetheart Billie.  For a while they lived on a farm and raised cattle while Louis studied to be a veterinarian and eventually became head of equine surgery at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Louis never returned to the Philippines and never saw Remy and Clara again, but Ruth remained their faithful pen pal for many years.  As young people do, eventually Louis, Remy and Ruth grew up and had families of their own and finally lost touch with each other.
Yet Ruth saved her treasured letters from her pen pals, along with a beautiful pair of carved Philippine shoes.   (Thank you to Jill Sharp for the photo of Philippine shoes she posted on Pinterest.) Ruth had three daughters, and I was the eldest.  We were fascinated by Remy's and Clara's photos, the graceful shoes, and their letters written in fine script on fragile paper with exotic stamps on the envelopes.  There was something touching in the story of the beautiful sisters who had been so kind to a lonely sailor and were beloved by our mother, although they had never met.  We wished our mother could find the girls again, but it was not to be.  Mom kept their memory alive, and they lived on in our memories, but we never knew what became of them.

Right in the middle of Memorial Day weekend, Siobhan calved on Saturday, May 23.  (This may sound like a complete non sequitur, but it's not.)


It seemed fitting to name our new bull calf in honor of the countless military men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.  (Thank you to our daughter Jenny for this photo and the one below.)


While my Uncle Louis did not lose his life in the war (he lives in a VA retirement home), the sacrifice he made for his country nearly included his life due to a serious tropical disease he contracted in the South Pacific, and I always think of him on Memorial Day.  Looking at our new calf, I remembered Uncle Louis and his service, as well as the years he spent raising cattle and caring for large animals, and I knew the perfect name for Siobhan's calf:  Royal Remembrance--"Remy" for short.  As I milked Siobhan that first evening, I told her and Remy the story of Uncle Louis the sailor, his sister Ruth back home, and the beautiful sisters Remy and Clara who were their friends.  They are all remembered with love.