That was my Josh. He loved to help other people. I can just see that big, old smile he got on his face when he did something helpful for someone else. What a kid!
And how could I be so blessed that I would have two kids that are so giving? Alissa loves to help other people and sacrifices so much to help others in need. I remember when she was just a small girl..............perhaps three or four..........and she wanted to give her toys away to a little girl that she felt needed them more than she did. How could I say no? She would have been so disappointed if I had not let her, and I would have stifled in her the precious gift of giving. She has never ceased to give since that time.
I am so proud of both of my kids.
I am so thankful that God blessed me with these precious children.
I love you Josh and Alissa! I am proud of both of you!
When I married into Mike's family, I was thrilled to join them in their Christmas tradition. The Cupp family chooses a couple of families that are having a hard time financially. Instead of giving gifts to each other, we buy gifts for the families in need. I can't begin to tell you how much I have been blessed to be a part of this. Mike has a brother and two sisters and their spouses. There are eight kids among them and then of course my kids were a part as well. We all put our money together and buy the gifts, as well as food for the families. We get together twice as a family. The first time we get together, we have soup, sandwiches, and finger foods and share a fun time together wrapping the gifts. As we wrapped gifts this year, I could not help but think about Josh's big, tall frame bent over on the floor wrapping presents for needy families last year. What a beautiful memory!
The second time we get together is after the gifts and food have been delivered to the families in need. We do this on Christmas Eve. Mike's mom makes a wonderful meal for all of us and we gather together to eat, pray and read the Christmas story from Luke 2. What a precious time it was this year. I had a hard time, but I am so glad that I went. The family surrounded me with love. Mike's mother had lit a candle in Josh's honor. I shed a lot of tears on Christmas Eve, missing my son, but I also was held close in the warm embrace of this wonderful family that I married into. I am so blessed!
Alissa had to work and could not be with us for the meal, but she was able to come with us afterward to the candle lighting service at church. It was a beautiful service and my favorite part is always when all the people circle the sanctuary and we light one candle at a time until the whole room is lit. There is a beautiful glow on everyone's face as we sing Christmas carols.
After the Christmas Eve service, we come home and exchange a few small gifts with our immediate family. Mike and I usually do not buy each other a gift. We try to do something small for the kids and they usually give us a small gift as well. I received some very nice gifts from the kids and from my grandparents but there was one gift that was very special to me this year.
I collect barn pictures, prints and paintings. I opened a gift that Alissa had wrapped for me and inside was a very beautiful barn print. When I opened it, Alissa said, "Mom, Josh and I picked this out together for you for Christmas when we were in Colorado." Of course, I broke into tears knowing that Josh had been a part of choosing this Christmas gift for me. I have the picture hanging on my wall and I will always cherish it.
What a beautiful gift from my two beautiful kids. I am truly blessed.
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
The sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description, to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me, I see pain inside your heart
But I am not so far away, we really aren't apart.
Just be happy for me and know I hold you dear.
But be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I send to you a special gift from my heavenly home above.
I'm sending you a sweet memory of my undying love.
After all, love is a more precious than even purest gold.
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.
Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do.
For one can't count the blessings or love he has for you.
So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
Merry Christmas to all my friends and family.
Merry Christmas to my son, Joshua, who is having his very first Christmas in Heaven.
This morning it was evident to me that I have given good advice! It started yesterday with a howling wind bringing the wind chills down to zero or below. Our home sits on the top of a hill in the Shenandoah Valley and we get wind here even when other's have none. Last night it sounded like a locomotive was going through our house. Spencer was doing so good with the housebreaking, that I didn't want to mess him up, so I took him outside any time he looked like he might have to go. It was so cold! I don't have any idea how I ever lived in Alaska all those years! The last time I took him out was after eleven and I was back out again this morning a little after five. Thankfully, he is a good boy and goes right away most of the time!
After taking Spencer out, I crawled back in bed for about 15 minutes..........I was trying to get mentally prepared to head back out into the cold! Fortunately, I am very passionate about my cows! You have to be passionate about them to own milk cows! They require twice a day milking and feeding, no matter what the weather conditions. Recently we have been having a lot of rain and our barnyard has turned into a muddy mess. It has been a struggle to just around and the cows have been so dirty when they come in to be milked. That means additional time cleaning their udders and getting them clean enough to use the milking machine! This morning, the mud was frozen and it was bitter cold. Mike had to be away from the farm this morning and that left me with the bulk of the morning chores. Thankfully, he did make sure that the pump for the milker was working and he fed the cows before taking off. He also had to pry the gates open for me, as they were frozen, in the mud, to the ground. I took my gloves off to wash the girl's udder and then would put them back on really fast! I had to remember not to touch the metal stanchion bars with my bare wet hands! When I milked Maya, her calf Princess came in to the milking shed. Being a young calf, she wants to lick things. She kept wanting to lick the metal bar and I kept telling her it was NOT a good idea! Aside from being cold, the morning chores went well and here it is almost time to go out and do it all over again. Twice a day...........seven days a week........fifty-two weeks a year............rain, snow, sleet, hail, hot and humid, cold and windy............Now do you see why I say you must be passionate about owning animals before committing to them?
Thought I would post pictures of Josh's memorial because so many of you are not able to be here to see it.
The quote on the back of the memorial is in the same type script as the tattoo on Josh's back. Although the quote is taken from Robert Browing's "Pippa's Song", I chose to have it inscribed the same as Josh's tattoo rather than as it was written by Browning.
It has become evident to me as I walk this path after Josh's death, that the road of grief is one that must be travelled individually. I do not mean to say that we must travel this road alone. On the contrary, I have had many people helping me to bear this burden of grief. I am not alone. However, there are many times, though surrounded by friends and loved ones that I must face the moment and meet grief face to face in solitude. I don't believe there are any two people that will face grief exactly the same and although there are obvious wrong ways to handle any situation, there are many right ways to grieve. Well meaning people have made remarks on both ends of the spectrum. I have had those who feel I am not handling my grief well and I have had others tell me that they are amazed at my strength at such a time as this. True to my nature, I have tried to be open and honest about my grief. I feel that honesty is the only way to handle one of the most difficult things that life throws at us. (Isn't it ironic that the most difficult thing that life throws at us is death?) When all is said and done, I have to follow this path of grief to the end, and no one can tell me what I must do to handle the grief successfully. For me, I must cry when I feel like crying. I must laugh when I feel like laughing. I must remember the happy, precious memories of my son and I must hold on to the dreams of have of him smiling and happy. You can't rush grief and you can't pretend it does not exist. At the same time, my joy comes from knowing that my son does not feel grief and that he is happy and a peace in the arms of the Father. Josh does not suffer. It is only those of us who are left behind who weep.................who suffer from the loss of one we love so dearly.
Yes, I have days when I can hardly function because of the pain that grips my heart and consumes my physical body. I also have many more days when I face life head on and look for the best and hold to all that is positive.
One of my favorite places to go in my heart is to the Father's arms. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me dearly but I have never allowed myself to be completely enveloped in His love until I lost my son. Now, in my very darkest moments I imagine myself wrapped in the arms of the Father. There are days when I feel that I can't even see His face, but then I was reminded that when a small child is held firm in the arms of their parent with the child's face tight against the parents chest for protection from the elements, that the child is unable to see the face of the one who holds them, but rather feels the arms of the parent protectively surrounding them. In my darkest hours, I visualize myself wrapped in the arms of the Heavenly Father, with my head against His chest.
Grief is not something to shun, ignore, or be dishonest about. Grief is an opportunity to experience the Father's love in a way that we have never experienced it before, as we learn to take each day one breath at a time.
I had the privelege of meeting Joelle and Cassandra from West Virginia this past week. We had a nice time getting to know each other a bit, talking about dairy cows, drinking raw milk and spending a little time with the animals. The weather was not cooperative, but that did not dampen our spirits and we had a wonderful visit. Before leaving, the ladies had decided that they wanted to purchase Sugar and raise her up as a family cow. I was thrilled with this match. If you know me or have read my blog for any length of time, you know my animals are very important to me and I seek to find them the best of homes when I sell one. Already pleased, I was extremely happy today when Joelle contacted me and said they wanted to purchase Scarlette, as well. Scarlette and Sugar will be happier being together, I know they will have a good home, and I believe they will make their new owners proud owners of family cows, one day!
This is one of my favorite pictures of Josh when he was little. He is seen in this picture with his Aunt Becca.
Often, when I become stressed over the legal proceedings regarding Josh's death, I have dreams. When Josh first passed away, I was afraid that I would have nightmares. Thankfully, instead of nightmares, God has blessed me with sweet dreams of my precious son.
The boy who killed Josh was in court today and things were postponed once again. All of this must have been heavy on my heart and mind as I went into this week. I find myself not focusing on the real issue, but I can feel the pressure mounting as the court dates arrive.
Last night in the midst of my stress I dreamed of Josh. In my dream I wrapped my arms around him over and over again and told him how much I love him. He always responded with a joyful look, a smile in his eyes and a hug in return.
Someday, that dream will come true and I will wrap my arms around him once again and hold him close.
The vet saw that she was down and just assumed that she had milk fever. I told him that I didn't think she did, but he insisted that some cal/mag given intraveinously would fix her right up. He administered the calcium and magnesium and even through in some dextrose for good measure when she still wouldn't get up. He then insisted that she was just being stubborn and was sure she would get up later. Afternoon came and she still could not get up.
After time, she began to slide down the hill in the field with her head down the hill. I called Mike in tears and he and my father in law came and got her sitting upright again. However, they could not get her to stand up.
I was worried sick about her and we covered her with a blanket and took turns checking on her during the night to make sure she didn't go over because we knew she would die if she got stretched out flat during the night.
The next day the vet called and when he found that she would not get up and it had been over 24 hours and he could not figure out what was wrong with her, he pretty much gave up and thought she would die.
I was devastated but I was not ready to give up. At this point I knew that it was time to contact the lady who was suppose to buy Butter and let her know what was going on. I could not with good conscience sell Butter to her knowing that she was having problems, even if we had a full recovery. Diane was so gracious and kind and understanding about the situation, but I felt terrible.
Tuesday was spent taking food and water to Butter and tending to Maya who was also still sick. At first, I thought that maybe something had caused them both to get sick and began to look at the grain and other things that might have caused toxic poisons. I had the grain tested and it was fine and all the other cows were fine, so it could not have been something that they ate. As I began to search for answers and analyze each cows symptoms, I realized that they were obviously suffering from two different things.
Mike and Marcus (Mike's dad) brought the front end loader to the house and got a strap and tried to raise Butter but she still couldn't stand. They were able to at least move her to a fenced in area behind the barn where I could take better care of her. We then began to look for a hip lift so that we could raise her off the ground. It was very important that we get her on her feet, as it was her only chance of survival.
Finally, Thursday, we were able to locate a hip lift at the dairy where we got Sam, Charlie and Midnight. We were able to get Butter lifted up but what a scarey experience for humans and bovine alike. She didn't understand what we were doing and she began to swing around and thrash frantically. I was terrified that she was going to get hurt or, even worse, someone was going to get hurt. We actually had to use the hip lift as well as a strap around her front to get her up and she could not stand when we took the hip lift off. Her right front leg looked swollen at the knee, but we were not sure if that was because she had injured it or if it became swollen
Friday we lifted her twice and she was able to stand unassisted.
Saturday, we lifted her three times and she was able to stand unassisted and walk around but could not get up by herself once she would lie down again. She would stand for several hours at a time.
Sunday afternoon, I looked out of the window at lunch time and saw that she has risen and was standing on her own! I had a happy, shouting, "Thank you, Jesus" time and gave Mike a big kiss for all his help with her.
This morning we had a little set-back and she was not able to get up on her own again. Mike had to use the hip lift to get her to her feet. Later during the day, she managed to get up on her own several times.
I have spent the last week checking on the cows repeatedly and carrying buckets and buckets of warm water sweetened with corn syrup or brown sugar to them to give them extra energy. I have been feeding them as much as they want of the very best hay that we have and giving them extra rations of grain to try to help them build up their body condition.
Maya seems to be greatly improved and Butter seems to be improving slowly. Someday soon, I am hoping my stress level lessens so I can get some much needed emotional and physical rest.
Thursday evening I sent Mike off to do a little hunting, something that he doesn't get to do much, and I took care of the feeding and milking. A lot of evenings I am just about finished with the chores when Mike gets home. He usually milks Maya while I bottle feed the calves. When I started to milk Maya on Thursday, she got very beligerent and kept kicking at me and kicking the milker. It was awful and because I was emotionally spent anyway, it was more than I could take. I started to cry, then sob and I couldn't settle down enough to deal with Maya. I think in reality the breakdown was what I needed to expel some of the pent up emotions that I had. In retrospect, I think Maya was acting out because she was starting to feel bad and because she could sense my tension.
Yesterday, Edy came in to be milked and she acted like she didn't care to be milked at all which is very unusual for her. I realized by last night that she has started to voluntarily dry off. It's almost time to dry her off anyway, because we give our cows a two month break from milking towards the end of their pregnancy. I was concerned about Edy all day and had her on my mind when I went out to start the chores last night. When I went around the corner, there was Maya who was obviously not doing well at all. She was stumbling and her eyes looked cloudy. I immediately suspected it was milk fever, although milk fever normally occurs very early in lactation.
When I realized that Maya needed immediate attention, I began yelling for Mike who came down to the barn. We called Mike's dad and he came up and gave Maya a bottle of Calcium subcutaniously and one in the vein. She is better today, but still doesn't act like she feels good. I didn't feel that I could leave her because I was afraid she would go down, so other than a run to Tractor Supply to get some Calcium/Magnesium paste to administer to her, in case she needs it again.
It's been raining here since last night. We really need the moisture as we are still in drought conditions, but it has made it most miserable to do the chores and milking and the mud and manure are an unbelievable mess! I had a lady call me that wanted to come and see the heifers that I have for sale and today was the only day that would suit her to do so. Normally, I like to keep Sundays as a family day and a day when we can do as little as possible, but it was obvious today was not going to be such a day anway, so I told her to come on and visit. I wanted to clean up a bit and seperate the heifers from the other animals and put them in where it was dry. By the time I had done so and then visited with the lady for a while outside in the rain and then finished up by doing evening chores and milking, I had been outside in the damp cold for hours and was chilled to the bone.
It sure feels good to be inside now in the easy chair with a warm blanket over me. Now, unless I have another emergency, the only thing that will interrupt me tonight will be Hunter, my male dachshund who is missing his girlfriend, Hope, who is busy with the babies. He wakes up the entire house about every two hours barking his disapproval at his current circumstances!
Did I mention that I LOVE farming? I wouldn't trade it for the world!
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Milk fever, post-parturient hypocalcemia, or parturient paresis is a disease of dairy cows, characterized by reduced blood calcium levels.
It is most common in the first few days of lactation, when demand for calcium for milk production exceeds the body's ability to mobilize calcium reserves.
"Fever" is a misnomer, as body temperature during the disease is usually below normal. Low blood calcium levels interfere with muscle function throughout the body, causing general weakness, loss of appetite, and eventually heart failure.
Hypocalcemia is more common in older animals (who have reduced ability to mobilize calcium from bone) and in certain breeds (such as Jersey cattle).
Hypocalcemia, like milk fever, occurs occasionally at any time during the lactation or pregnancy and in many mammalian species.
In mild cases, the animal seems quite normal, but has difficulties to stay. If the cow succeeds in rising, she staggers, and will very soon fall. The cow's appetite can be maintained at that stage. Body temperatures are from 37 to 38.5°C (normal range 38-38.5°C). This stage, referred to as "first degree", corresponds to calcemiae of 55 to 75 mg/l.
In typical cases, the cow's head is in a so-called self-auscultation position. Mydriasis is often present. The heart can be slow or arrhythmic. The body temperature is 35 to 37°C. In that stage, referred to as "second degree", calcium levels in the blood are of 30 to 65 mg/l.
In advanced cases, the cow is lying on its side, seeming dead. The body temperature can go as low as 32°C. This is the 3rd degree, with calcemia as low as 20 mg/l.
Treatment generally involves calcium injection by intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous routes. Various commercial preparations are available for this purpose.
Intravenous calcium, though indicated in many cases, is potentially fatal through "heart blockade", or transient high calcium levels stopping the heart, so should be administered with care.
In unclear cases of downer cows, intravenous calcium injection can lead to diagnosis. The typical reaction will be a generalized tremor of the skeletal muscles, and sometimes cardiac arrhythmia. Defecation, urination and eructation are frequent during the treatment, due to pharmacological effect of calcium on the smooth muscles. In stage I and II, The cow can stand up approximately 10 minutes after the end of the intravenous injection. But in stage III, it may take two or three hours.
The prognosis is generally good, even in advanced cases. However, some patients can relapse the following day, and even a third time the day after.
1) Five cows, five calves, three heifers, and one bull make a lot of poop.
2) Dogs like to roll in cow poop and Sadie, especially likes to chew on the dried poop and eat the calves poop. (Gotta love a farm dog!)
3) It takes a long time to milk four cows, process the milk and clean up after milking!
4) Dogs and skunks don't mix.
5) Nothing really takes the smell of skunk off a dog.
6) Nothing really takes the smell of skunk out of your house when you have Doxies who are house dogs and the weather is too cold to leave them out side after they have been sprayed.
7) Three week old chicks eat a lot of feed and poop a lot.
8) Laying hens don't like short days, cold weather and biting wind.
9) Brownies get hard when left in the oven too long.
10) My husband will eat three fresh apple cakes in one week.
11) A single strand of electric wire does little to keep a young bull from leaving home.
12) Sciatica is a pain in the behind.
13) An good adjustment from a chiropractor is better than any medicine.
14) When you are friends, ten years of absence means nothing. One can just pick up where one left off.
15) After three years of marriage, my husband loves me very much and I love him.
16) My children and step-children are precious.
17) I am blessed beyond belief and God is good.
18) Family and friends are always there for me.
19) I miss my Josh very much.
20) I can lose more weight in the winter by shovelling poop than I do in the summer by working the garden.
Two months ago today you went to live with your Heavenly Father. It's so hard living here on earth without your laugh, your smile, and the way you would tease me. I have no doubt you are having a wonderful time and just waiting for the rest of us to join you some day in Heaven. We missed you today when we had an early Thanksgiving celebration with Mike's family. Thanksgiving was your favorite holiday. I'm so thankful for the 18 years we shared. I will be forever blessed to be called your mother.
I love you,
What makes it even more special is that I had a buyer for Maya when she was short bred. I even went so far as to have all the health work done by the vet so that she could travel out of state with her new owners. I got cold feet about selling her because I had become so attached to her but wanted to honor my side of the deal. The prospective buyers ended up backing out on me even though it meant losing their deposit, and I knew that Maya had a forever home with me. It was just meant to be.
Now, besides loving my Maya so much, I see that it was meant to be, so that I could finally get my heifer calf.
Maya is a registered Jersey and the sire of the calf is a Registered Miniature Jersey.
When Mike looked at the calf and told me it was a girl, I cried! I am so happy!
Sticking with the spanish names, I am think of naming her Nina (child/infant) La Chica (Little Girl) or Tia (Aunt in Spanish or Princess in Greek).
After going to Sam's we went back to Liz's house and had pizza and then it was time for me to get on the road again. I needed to get home before dark and take care of the animals. I got home and it took me a while to unload the groceries and it was almost dark when I started milking. Mike came and helped me finish with the animals but then we had to set up a pen with a light for the peeps to get them out of the bathroom that was now starting to smell like a poultry house. It took us until almost 8 to get that set up and the peeps moved to their new home. One little peep doesn't look like she is going to make it. She's pretty lifeless right now. They are so fragile.
After leftovers for Mike and a sandwich for me, I decided to let everything else go until tomorrow.
I have posted pictures of some of her former litters so you can see how cute they are! I will start a waiting list, so anyone interested in purchasing a puppy, just let me know! I have requested pictures from owners of her past litters. Hopefully I will have some to post here soon.
She is spunky and loud. Her mother is a Holstein that found love with the neighbor's Angus bull. Since she was not purbred, she was not wanted at the dairy and has found a happy home here with us! A Holstein/Angus cross will make a great family cow! She is almost as tall as the older calves already, and was not afraid to push her way up to the dinner table amongst the other hungry calves. She is dairy in confirmation but almost solid black. She has a thin thread of white on one leg (you have to look hard to see it) and a little patch of white on her belly.
I have not named her yet.
Mike had borrowed a big tank and put it in the back of his truck and went to the spring several miles away to get water for the cows. We were fortunate to have access to a tank we could borrow and a spring where we could get the water.
As I am waiting for the well to be repaired, I am very carefully heating water to wash a few dishes & wash my face and hands. It was fun trying to wash the milker out without running water. As I conserve water today it reminds me of a time when I had so careful with water.................a time when we hauled all of our water in because we didn't have any plumbing in our house.
For a while when I lived in Alaska, I lived in a cabin without any plumbing or running water. What an experience that was! We had an outhouse but when the temps dipped to 40, 50 & 60 below zero, we resorted to using a portable potty. All of our water had to be hauled in and there was an artesian well close by where a lot of the locals got their water. The area we lived in was called named "Goldstream", a little community outside of Fairbanks. Most people in the area either had water delivered to them, or hauled their own water because well water was too nasty too use.
What an experience it was dressing two young children (gosh they must have been maybe three and four years old) in all their winter gear and putting them in the little grey Geo Metro along with every container we could find to put fresh water in.
Sometimes we would have to wait in line at the spring. Ice and snow was frozen all around but in the center would be fresh water bubbling up. We would fill our containers and haul them back to the Geo. When we would put the cold water in the warm car the windows would start to fog up and freeze on the inside. The ride home was spent scraping little patches in the ice so that we could see to drive. Once home, we had to haul all of that water inside so that it did not freeze.
Hauling the water was just part of the work! I had an old fashioned ringer washer. I would heat my water on the stove and pour it into the ringer washer and wash my clothes. I would then have to haul all that dirty water back outside, away from the house and dump it. It would freeze almost instantly and we had a nice thick hill coated with ice that the kids could slide down! Inside, I had a clothes line strung across the front of the balcony and I would hang my clothes there to dry.
Even though we had to haul all our water, I was obsessive compulsive about being clean. I would heat water and pour it into a big tub and bathe the kids in it every day. I would also use the tub myself to bathe and wash my hair.
Of course I had to heat the water for dishes and then carry it out and dump it as well. Gathering water, heating water, dumping water..........my days became an endless circle that all revolved around water!
These flashbacks to more difficult times only serve to remind me how good I have it today and how minor this inconvenience is with the well.
With any luck, I will be taking a nice hot shower sometime soon!
This morning Mike and I got up let the dogs out, fed the chickens, milked the cows, fed all the animals and then I made an omlette using some of that Mozzarella cheese I made yesterday. Yummy!
Besides doing all the normal, everyday routines of straightening the house, vacuuming, doing laundry, etc., I have occupied myself today by making more Mozzarella, as well as butter and cottage cheese.
At noon I had to make the trip back out to the barn and put Dixie in with the calves so that they could get their lunch. I watered the chickens and calves while I was out. I didn't spend too much extra time out there playing with the calves today! It was just too windy!