Friday, September 19, 2014

Blessings

    For those who don't know our family on a personal level or maybe hasn't followed along on our journey on facebook from the beginning, may be wondering, "Where did Good Shepherd Cheese go?".
   Well, we didn't go anywhere but with a whirlwind of events this year, it's kind of taken us back and slowed us down to the point of just trying to make it.  After having a terribly cold and miserable winter during lambing season and the start of milking, we often wondered what we were doing wrong and why everything seemed to be such a struggle.  
    We were blessed with a few extra hands at times during the beginning of the year by some interns from Morehead, but on a working farm there's never enough help for everything that needs done just in a days time, not to mention the extras and the mishaps that you often don't plan for.
    As Spring came, so did a heavier and more intense work load of milking, cheese making, pasture rotation, bottle feeding, and even some mommas still lambing. The work was harder and the burden of trying to worry and care for the farm and keep a job on the side to help pay for the bills finally took it's toll on my father, our patriarch and lead shepherd.


    May 2nd, my father suffered a heart attack. They found two main blockages that had to be taken care of with open heart surgery. We were incredibly blessed with family members who showed up and prayed along with us. He came through surgery fine but I tell you, I never wish to see a loved one in that shape again. It was really hard seeing him after surgery. I was extremely grateful he was okay and that we were able to see him but we couldn't speak to him. If you know my dad, he's usually always saying something funny and wise and then to see him hooked up on machines and different tubes coming out of him, not saying a word, it's devastating to a child, no matter how old you are.  I've made the mistake of going through my life thinking that my family, especially my parents, were invincible and nothing tragic or bad could ever happen. If you've never seen tragedy, you start to think it's never going to come your way. Well this was a wake up call for me. I rely on my parents so much for everything, from love and support, to advice, to the 100 questions I ask them on a weekly basis because mom and dad know everything and I count on that.  I tell my parents all the time, jokingly but completely sincere, that they're not spring chickens anymore and they have got to slow down and take a step back.


    So you wonder why you don't see our faces at the farmer's markets or at any of the festivals? Right now, all we can do is try to survive. God has been there for us through out this entire year and we've seen Him in the faces of all the family and friends we've made that has helped us physically and financially. We may never be able to repay all those people but we thank you and we want you to know that you were a true blessing to us in a time that we felt helpless. God has continually given us hope in times of despair, just when you start to think the lights will be turned off, a check comes in the mail. God has always shown up.


    Milking season has come to an end for the year but the shepherds are still working hard on a daily basis here on the farm to keep the pastures rotated, the animals fed and taken care of.
    Since the beginning of this journey, God has guided them and led them to this place to raise sheep and care for them. Obeying Him wholeheartedly, that's what they were called to do and so that's what they done. The cheese part of it came into place to help them be able to make a living at it and be able to bring folks to the farm so they could tell their story and about what God has done for them. Even with all the struggles that my parents have faced, I know they will be rewarded one day, all because they were called and they were faithful.
    Even with all the struggles this year, we've still had some really great times on the farm.
Just a few of our blessings:
    We added a new member to our herding family, Nell. Nell is the daughter of my brother's border collie Kate and my parents border collie Jim. She's a very sweet and loving border collie who I think will be great at working the sheep when her time comes.
   Our good friend Susan Miller (Bluegrass Chevre aka the goat cheese lady :) ) is now selling Good Shepherd Cheese for us at the Lexington Farmers Market. 


     Dad built new mangers for the barn that Daniel and I were able to help with some. Dad also was able to install a milk feeder for the lambs. 
    All the donations we received for milk replacer to be able to feed lambs with. That was a true blessing.
    We went from a half full cheese cave to busting at the seams with cheese, thanks to my brother for stepping up to take over the cheese making after dad's heart attack.  


    Mom and I had our lovely faces posted on the new Appalachia Proud campaign from the Ky Dept of Ag.
    Good Shepherd Cheese was selected as one of the special pairings in a special issue of Culture Cheese Magazine. Our Pyrenees was paired with Kentucky Bourbon.

    We have all got to witness my sweet little nephew Leeland grow to love and really enjoy the farm this year. Just a few of his favorite words: Poppy. Tractor. Ride.
    My parents got new neighbors down on the blueberry farm. A very sweet Amish family moved in and I think we've all taken a liking to each other. We're able to do things for one another just as God intended us to do. I think God has a purpose for sending them our way.
     The national cheese community (represented by Rebecca Williams of Many Fold Farm and Tim Gaddis formerly of Star Provisions)  had set up a donation website for cheesemongers, cheese professionals and devoted cheese lovers to be able to hear our story and be able to donate any amount they wished to help us bridge the gap and keep the lights on until dad was back on his feet again.
    My uncle devoted many days to coming out and helping where needed, from cleaning and packaging cheeses to bailing hay and doing whatever was asked of him. 
    Thank you to our faithful customers for being loyal and believing in us.
    To all those I failed to mention, your kindness hasn't gone unnoticed and we appreciate every prayer, every mention of our name (that's free advertisement), every donation whether it be your time or your money. We are so grateful!
    I think back to when I was younger and listening to Alabama's "Angels Among Us". I truly believe God sends people (angels) in our path to help us along the way, to help guide us, and give us hope. Our family has seen many angels along the way, they may not know how they've touched our lives but we will never forget.

     I can go on and on listing all the things that have been a blessing this year and the good things that's happened despite the bad but unfortunately this post has to eventually end and I can't stop telling of the blessings that's happened without sharing one of the greatest blessings my husband and I have been grateful to receive. We are expecting our first child on March 14, 2015 and we are just beyond excited. 

    God has been so good to us and we should never take that for granted. I know I cherish the people around me more now because of the trials my family has faced.  Please continue to pray for my family, we are still trying to recover financially. If you enjoy our products or just love what we do, we would be so grateful if you continued to support us and purchase our cheese. We want to be in God's will every step of the way, which ever way He may lead us next.    

 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ode To Nan

   If you've visited the farm any in the past few years you would normally find our three border collies eagerly lined up, anticipating the words 1, 2, 3, Go! and race each other down the green pastures. It was one of their favorite things to do outside together, next to herding sheep. If you was to visit the farm now, you would notice the dogs don't quite line up like they once did.
   Last Thursday we all awoke to our little Nan gone. She had died in the early morning hours, lying in the floor at mom's bedside. It was heartbreaking news to hear.
   Nan came to the farm three years ago this month. Though she had only spent a short time with us here, she made a huge impact on our lives. She quickly became mom's dog after Shadow, our sheltie passed two years ago. We all loved her from the minute we saw her. She was definitely different and really quite funny.
   To be a smaller border collie and be the "sweet" girl, you never would have imagined Nan to be the instigator. From pulling pizzas off the counter top, digging through the garbage can, and stealing throw pillows and stuffed animals. Nan had her own way about things. She loved going down to the creek where she would chase her own splashes. She loved playing frisbee and playing with the tennis ball. One time we lost her to the neighbor kids throwing a football back and forth, they quickly included her. Nan had a fascination with anything and everything small, lambs, puppies, kittens, babies and anything that resembled a ball. There are so many pictures to prove to my nephew Leeland when he gets older, how Nan loved and looked after him.

   We will miss her dearly. We'll miss those crazy eyes she'd get when she was in full border collie mode. Miss hearing her snore when she passed out from a long day of work.  Miss her running the floor in the milking parlor (she was the sheep warden during milking season).
Miss her running to hide every time the fly swat was pulled out. Miss her raising her leg with her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth every time we'd rub her belly. Miss her sitting on the gas pedal on the Kubota.  I'll even miss getting annoyed with her for jumping into the fence every time I went to lay a new one out for the sheep. Nothing compares though to the way I know that mom misses her. Our Sweet, Crazy Nan.
    As bad as I hurt for all of us, I know Jim and Eoghan miss her as well, she was their third amigo. The three musketeers. Nan was their friend, their playmate, a competitor, and their sister. Jim will miss her by his side running the fence line, barking everytime they thought the sheep were getting out of line. Eoghan will miss sharing the couch with her and her nipping at him as if telling him to quit biting the tires on the Kubota .
 
  A bond between a dog and their person can never be broken. Mom &Nan

 This is the picture we all received the day mom and dad got Nan. We were all excited to meet her. Dad & Nan 11/28/2010

   We could all tell that Nan was feeling bad on Wednesday, so we didn't push her to go outside but for her to rest and to hopefully feel better. With that being so, Nan still wanted to make one last trip to the pasture with her master that night. Little did we know, that would be our sweet little Nan's last run. Thurday morning, Nan was laid next to her brother Shadow under the oak tree. Some may disagree, but I know in my heart that God's got a special place for them in heaven and I know I'll see them again one day, tails waggin' and all.   Nan will always be remembered and we will cherish all the memories we have of her. As dad so sweetly wrote, "we just pray that if there are flocks of sheep in heaven, that you will be at the Good Shepherd's side keeping a watchful eye on all his Lambs. Good bye dear friend "
Shadow and Nan.

Nan 11/27/2002-11/07/2013
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" Matthew 5:4

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Southern Artisan Cheese Festival

    Coming up this Saturday, September 28 will be the 3rd Annual Southern Artisan Cheese Festival in Nashville, TN from 2:30-6. Have you heard of it?
    Good Shepherd cheese has been invited along with Boone Creek Creamery and Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese from Kentucky. Tickets are sold $45 online and $55 at the door. This is a great opportunity to try some southern artisan cheeses along with other southern jams, crackers, bread, some tasty wines and more. Only 600 tickets will be sold this year so make sure to purchase early if you plan to be there. 
    While you're there, be sure to stop by and say hello and taste some creamy sheep milk cheeses from yours truly. We will also have packaged cheese available for purchase.

 By the way, over the weekend Good Shepherd cheese was nominated and tied with Bleugrass Chevre in the artisan category at Sunday's Lexington Crave event. Good Shepherd Cheese was very honored to stand next to Susan Miller, who is not only a fellow cheese maker and mentor, but a special friend as well. Congratulations to all who was honored that evening.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Getting Back To It

    Ever since my husband and I moved, we've encountered computer problems which is why I've mostly been absent from blogging. Here I am though, only because I've finally accepted the idea that our computer is slowly dying and I'm going to enjoy every last second it has left.
   For all the soap lovers out there, I just got Half Pint's Sheep Milk Soap back up on the new website and is ready to be ordered.
    Also don't forget Good Shepherd Cheese will be on The Local Traveler tonight after the news at 11:35pm on WKYT and WVLT Volunteer TV and on Wednesday at 7PM on WYMT-TV!

Set your DVRs cause this is one... EWE don't want to miss!



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sweet Maggie

When I went out to check the girls' water today after the storms, this is what I found.



 Maggie decided that the rain just wasn't enough and needed to give Patience another bath.
Such a good girl!


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Moving On But Not To Greener Pastures

  I've been absent for a while from blogging and I could tell you the thousands of excuses that I came up with in my head to put this off but it comes down to this simple truth, dread. I didn't want to have to explain how my husband and I have recently moved off the family farm to an apartment about 20 minutes away. Writing it down just made it a whole lot more realer.
  While it was an exciting time for my husband and I to be getting back on our own, it was still a very emotional time as well. I have so many emotional attachments to the farm that it broke my heart to leave.
At first I knew my trips to the farm were going to be pretty limited even though we only moved 20 minutes away, we were trying to watch our spending. Fortunately we were able to work things out so I can still help out on the farm throughout the week.
  It's funny how when your absent from a place for even a short while, you start to realize how much of it you really took for granted.

My heaven on earth...

 Locust trees in full bloom.

 Honeysuckle as long as the fence line.

And wild blackberry bushes scattered all over the farm.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Let The Milking Begin

Things got really, really busy around here really fast ...much to blame on the 90 some lambs we've had since the beginning of February, with nine momma's left to lamb still. Which also means we began milking in March. Our daily lives has pretty much been consumed by the milking parlor and the lambing barn. Not to mention Dad has started the great cheese making process again. For all you cheese lovers out there, Dad has made a test batch of blue cheese, so lets keep our fingers crossed and hope it turns out!!! He has Pyrenees, Wild Mountain Thyme, and some Old Smokey sheep milk cheese already aging in the cheese cave.

Our sweet Molly and her precious triplets taking a nap.

Nothing like snuggling up together.

Dottie and her baby boy.

"How about you be a kind lady and get us some more feed!?"
 These girls were our first five to lamb this year so they got to go first on the milking table this year.