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.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Looking Back on 2013

This post is about a week late, but we were enjoying lots of company around Christmas and New Year's so I'm just now catching up, while it's 15° outside.  I've just been looking back over the past year to tally up our "Losses" and "Gains" and see how the year turned out.  They are listed in approximately chronological order.

Losses and Good-byes

1)  Shemar Moore, rooster with a Criminal Mind, ended up as coq au vin after attacking Kara.

Ghandi, the peaceful Light Brahma rooster, might call this a gain!  So might Herb and Kara who ate the coq au vin.

2)  Hail damage to our roof.  This ended up being a definite gain since our insurance paid for a new roof.

 3)  Five guinea hens and three turkeys that we tried raising.  Misty ended up killing all five guineas after confusing them with predators, we had to put down one turkey that got injured, and a fox got the other two fully-grown turkeys two days before we intended to butcher them.  There was a gain here, though, as we learned two things:  A)  No more guineas and B)  Use electrified poultry netting for turkeys.

4)  Our entire fruit crop of peaches, apples, nectarines and figs was either destroyed by insects or rot before it ever ripened.  This is a real loss, as Herb has devoted five years to his orchard.  We hope this was due to the extremely wet year and that next year we might finally get some fruit.

5)  My darling Zephyr died suddenly on June 19, a loss that can't even be compared to the others.  She was truly a dog in a million, and she is sorely missed at Zephyr Hill Farm and by all who knew her.

6)  Sara, our first Dexter, and her lovely heifer Tundra went to Kentucky to live with the family we bought Sara from.  Herb would definitely call this a gain, but I will miss Sara's personality which made her so photogenic.

7)  Ping, the lone Pekin duck we adopted when she needed a new home, was likely trampled by the commotion caused when her sheep buddies tried to steal food from our leased bull.  She was a fun and funny mascot whom we miss.  We also lost one of the Muscovy drakes in the barnyard to an unknown cause, so this was NOT the Year of the Bird around here.

8)  A truck tire slashed in our driveway one night reminded us that we live in a fallen world.  By God's grace, the malevolence that inspired this vandalism did not touch us or our animals.

9)  Monty, Jackson and Olivia, the three dogs we inherited from Herb's sister in 2011, went on to new homes.  Both Herb and I actually call this a gain, and I'm sure all three dogs would, too, as they each blossomed in their new home.  In addition, we re-gained our basement after a haz-mat cleaning and painting.

10)  Rambo and Obaama joined us and left us in the same year, and you might say they are with us still--in the freezer!  That would make their loss a gain, as well as the knowledge gained:  We like pigs better than sheep, and from now on we'll buy our lambs already frozen.

11)  Kara moved to a condo in Chattanooga this past fall, and we will truly miss having her just 500 feet away at the back of the property.  We miss her company, although we still get to see her, but we know this move was a huge gain for her!

12)  Kara's house, really a double-wide trailer, was torn down after she moved to Chattanooga.  Kara definitely feels this was a gain!  I must say, we do, too, because we plan to use the space for pasture.


1)  Precipitation was over 67" for the year, compared to 33" for Seattle, WA!

2)  All that rain translated into LOTS of grass!

3)  Our third grandchild, Eden, joined the family in April.  And yes, all three kids can fit on Julie!  We've enjoyed regular baby-sitting for all three kids as well as frequent visits to the farm by Charis and Kol.

4)  Lots of visitors, both family and friends, stayed in Narnia or came to enjoy the farm.

5)  We had two calves born on the farm this year, both heifers and both easy births.  ZH Siobhan's Macree (right) was born June 5, while her niece ZH Taco's Tundra was born on July 6.

6)  We leased FF Lil' Christmas Cash, Macree's sire, for the summer to breed Siobhan again.  Cash was such a nice bull that he completely changed Herb's mind about having our own bull.

7)  Herb built a milking parlor and stanchion in the barnyard, something I had dreamed of since Siobhan was born in November 2010.

8)  Our own Dexter milk has been on the menu since August, along with yogurt, mozarella, ricotta, and farmhouse cheddar cheese.  Milking is my favorite time of the day.

9)  The Doodad, a Kubota RTV, was my birthday present this year and has become the most-used piece of equipment on the farm.

10)  Zephyrhill Jet Stream (Jet for short) joined the family this summer.  He and his sister Bonnie (Kara's puppy, who comes for regular visits) have kept things lively ever since.

11)  The house got a new roof in the fall, thanks to our good insurance company.

12)  The hay barn got new cement-fiber siding and a coat of paint front and back, along with new translucent panels to let light in the back.

13)  We had just had Kara's garage re-sided when things fell into place to have her house torn down.  We meant to save the breezeway between the garage and house, but unfortunately it "fell into place"--flat on its side!  Repairs will be forthcoming once the weather warms up.  The carport on the right of the garage is our future winter feeding area for the animals.

14)  The fall was busy with new arrivals, the first of which was Sir Loin, a Dexter steer who is now 8 months old.

15)  Right on Sir Loin's heels came Boudin, who is now close to 2 years old.  We plan to keep him until after he beefs up on spring grass so he will be a temporary resident.

16)  The final newcomer was the most exciting of the three, New Hope Ebony Belle.  Like her grandmother Sara, Ebony is homozygous A2 so she is our future milk cow.  Unlike Sara, Ebony is friendly, sweet-tempered, polled, halter-broken, has a lovely udder--and actually likes us!  Ebony came here after a game of "Musical Cows" when Sara and Tundra went to live at Ebony's old home.

17)  A solid new retaining wall around the driveway replaced the old leaning wall of railroad ties.

18)  A lovely patio now graces our back yard.  We've already grilled out there several times and will probably pretty much live there when warm weather comes!  This is the fulfillment of a five-year old wish of mine.

19)  Fencing the northern side of our property from the barn past Kara's old house was the last project of 2013 and will continue into 2014.  We'll enclose the last unfenced grazing area, giving us another pasture adjoining the barn.

20)  This is just a teaser for the last big gain of 2013:  Our new bull, Mrald Crown Royal.  He's still a baby in Washington state, just weaned from his mother, and about to embark on a journey more than halfway across the country to become our future herd sire.  Stay tuned for more developments, as we hope he'll arrive before the end of the month.

As you can see, you don't have to be a math whiz to figure out that our 2013 balance sheet shows a huge Net Gain!  We are grateful for God's many blessings throughout the year, even through trials and losses, and we rest secure in the assurance of His love and care throughout the year ahead.

May God bless each of you in 2014!


  1. Great post! Thanks for the encouraging words! His mercies truly are new every morning!

  2. We count our blessing daily at the farm. We see so much hardship in this world today. We are so blessed that we were moved in the direction to have the will to start over in a new place that we could call our home. We do our best to listen to the world around us but not to get involved. Farm life is not for all but its the one we have chosen.May the new year bring all of you many more bountiful days an hope.
    Mark & Beverly

    1. Thanks, Mark! You and Beverly deserve all the blessings God gives you--you work so hard! I think you guys are real modern day pioneers! And yes, we know the hardship is out there, and we can pray for God to redeem the world from it, but it's a blessing to be able to go out and feed the chickens and milk the cow--and leave the snarly world behind for a while!

  3. 2013 was definitely a rollercoaster ride for you and your family. You said a lot of goodbyes but you also welcomed new ones into your lives, like a new roof, new animals, porch, and so on. I wonder what 2014 has in store for you?

    Soo @

  4. Stay tuned right here, and you'll see! :)


I LOVE comments so please take a minute and let me know you were here! Sorry I have to use Captcha, but I hope you'll comment anyway! Comments make my day! :)