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.
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.
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.