Monday, August 8, 2016


Much of what I post about my beloved farm life might seem peaceful and idyllic. But, trust me, peace at Kirkhaven Farm is hard won. The beautiful, refreshing, life-giving peace of God is all the more real to us, all the more appreciated, because we have experienced it IN THE MIDST of war zones.

I know what it's like to live within the walls of a besieged city. Arrows zipping past your head. Rhythmic booming of battering rams pounding relentlessly against the beleaguered gates of your heart. Taunting jeers of a merciless enemy echoing through debris-scattered memories. Skirmishes continually breaking out in dark alleys and garbage-strewn yards while the prizes of joy, peace, and sanity tremble weakly behind broken walls in the lonely fog of war.

In places like this, fake religion is powerless.
No time for name it and claim it.
No strength for self-improvement regimens.
No colorful pom-poms for “create your own destiny” cheers.
No resources to buy books and invest in systems and trade money for a miracle.

That kind of religion is false.
And hopeless.

It promises prosperity but leaves you unfulfilled.
It offers shallow platitudes that slather cheap makeup onto the face of things ...
But neglects the splotchy, tired, baggy-eyed, inner-truth of things ...
And leaves you standing like an eerie clown-doll in a shattered storefront window.  

Contrary to popular belief:
You are not the artist of your life’s canvas.
You are not the potter of your earthly vessel.
Your positive vibes cannot change the world.

Those kinds of things are idolatry. 
They exalt the wrong god.
And they deny the Lord of the Universe His well-earned access to our hearts.

It is one thing to say that God is GOOD and that He does AMAZING things. It is quite another thing to stake your life on His Goodness in the midst of very real badness.

I know this to be true.
Because My husband and I have walked through the fire.
We have been hated by those we love.
We have been shunned by the people we gave our lives to.
We have been audited.
We have been sued.
We have been misunderstood.
We have worked long hours for sparse pay.
We have faced cancer in the family.
We have faced drug abuse in the family.
We have been lied to and lied about.
We have endured debilitating illness.
And every time God has been right there.

In the midst.
With His peace.
Every time.

Real living needs more than sappy meems, sunset photos, and grace-grace-grace chants. 

I understand that.
Truly I do.

Real living needs a real God. 
And then it needs a heart courageous enough to trust Him.

Blessed be the Lord,
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.
As for me, I said in my alarm,
"I am cut off from before Your eyes;"
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried to You.
- Psalm 31:21-22

So my fellow travelers on this journey we call life, I write about beautiful things because beautiful things are what I see.

Sometimes it’s easy to see them.
Sometimes it takes courage to do so.
But always, there is beauty.
Because always, there is God.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that
I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:13-14

So just know that as I post adorable calf photos and use words to paint snapshots of whatever I see that is true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy, my heart is singing this:

Beautiful Savior
By: Gesangbuch, Munster

Beautiful Savior,
King of creation,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I’d love thee,
Truly I’d serve thee,
Light of my soul, my joy, my crown.

Fair are the meadows,
Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer,
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.

Fair is the sunshine,
Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels in the sky.

Beautiful Savior,
Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration
Now and forevermore be Thine!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


And how do I know that summer is arriving at Kirkhaven? By the signs: my meadow has daisies, the blackberries are blooming, and thunderstorms randomly blow in.

As a farmer, seasons are important. Everything in our lives is balanced by the coming and going of summer, autumn, winter, and spring. Our gardens. Our bees. Our chickens. Our goats and Dexters. Our orchard and fruit plants. Our grazing pastures. Our fishing pond. There’s a life-rhythm on our little ridge-top farm that ebbs and flows with the coming and going of every season.

That’s one thing about farming that I treasure . . . it has taught me to live by the seasons. It has shown me how nothing is ever really static. We are always living completely in the “now” . . . but we are always preparing for what comes next. Because seasons change.

When the weather is bad, or when something bad happens, we live there. We deal with the badness. We mourn if we must. We struggle if we must. But we know that we are still headed somewhere different. Badness never stays forever.

And when the weather is perfect, or we have a perfect birth of the absolutely perfect heifer, we rejoice. We celebrate the moment for all it’s worth. But we know that perfection is only relative. And that even in our rejoicing, someone somewhere is mourning.

Farming has taught me that searching for happiness is futile. Not because “happiness” doesn’t exist, but because striving to reach some kind of nirvana . . . and hoping to live there forever once you find it . . . is an impossible quest. Change is inevitable. Seasons come and go. Time always moves on.

The real key to happiness, I believe, is finding contentment in life’s seasons. Rejoice every chance you get. Mourn when you must. Work with diligence. Play with abandon. Create something beautiful. Stand up for something important.  Love always. Try to forgive. Try to understand. But in the midst of it all, find the treasure in living . . . whatever season you are in.
And believe. Always believe. That God is who He says He is. That faith matters.  That prayer is essential.  That life is worth it all.  Because believing is like breathing.  Stop believing and you will die.
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in You;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8

Friday, November 1, 2013


I took a walk into the pasture today to check on the three girls that are due to calve soon.
And I found these two jewels napping in the warm autumn sun:

Kirkhaven Blue Autumn Skies
Kirkhaven October Joy!
Born 8 days apart.
So I sauntered over, sat down between them, and started snapping photos of absolute adorableness.
First, Autumn . . . the older of the two.
I have waited a loooooon time to FINALLY get a little dun heifer out of Reuben.
And she is a beaut!

And then Joy . . . our red, polled bundle of energy.
She is such an independent little thing!
And she's really QUITE sassy.

I really have so many other things I should be doing.
But sitting in the pasture with my two new heifer calves was just too tempting to pass up!
They love the attention.
 Lots of neck scratches.
 Lots of face rubs.
 Really . . . it doesn't get any better than this!
So here are a few more pics. Then I HAVE to get back to work!!
Autumn . . . with her beautiful, light eyes.

Joy . . . with that familiar sassy face.

 Awwwwwwwwww . . .

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Colorful Heifers

Two new calves at Krikhaven! And they are beautiful, colorful heifers. ~happy sigh~

So let me present . . .
Kirkhaven Blue Autumn Skies
born 10-17-13
weighing 35 lbs
dun, horned (will be dis-budded), non-chondro, carries red
out of first-time mom FF Sweet Caramel Royale

Such a sweet little heifer! I've been ~waiting~ for a dun heifer out of Reuben. So thankful!!
Photographing her is fairly easy . . . she is so quiet, easy-going, and friendly.
Kirkhaven October Joy!
born 10-25-13
weighing 44 pounds
red, polled, don't know yet if she carries dun, non-chondro
out of first-time mom Windy Hills Abby

This little heifer is FULL of energy!
Photographing her is a challenge.
She is sweet and very friendly . . . however . . . she is rarely still!
The exclamation mark at the end of her name is actually PART of her name.
Joy spend her days at Kirkhaven yippie-skippying from one adventure to another!
Next on our calving calendar for November:
Wonder what surprises are in store?!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Queen Moo

Moo is Queen of the Kirkhaven Milking Brigade once again! Rebecca gets to go on dairy vacation and Moo takes her rightful place as Kirkhaven Family Milk Cow. It's Moo, me, and a Kirkhaven sunrise every morning now. ~happy sigh~
There truly couldn't be a more wonderful milk cow that my sweet Moo. She is so willing and accomodating. Such a great mother to her calves and an excellent milk producer for us. We are so grateful to Sally Coad and Warren Coad at Freedom Farms Dexter Cattle in Philadelphia Tennessee for breeding such quality Dexters!
I know . . . it probably seems crazy to be so excited about a cow that gives milk. Isn't that what they are SUPPOSED to do?? But my fellow Dexter-milk-cow owners "get it" . . . I am sure.
You see . . . Moo doesn't ~have~ to do this. She doesn't ~have~ to stand perfectly still. She doesn't ~have~ to wait patiently while I work. She doesn't ~have~ to share her rich, frothy milk with the farmer. But she chooses to. The trust, on both sides, is immense.
Moo trusts me to not take ALL of the milk so her calf won't go hungry. She trusts me to treat her udder with skill and gentleness. She trusts me to make sure that she has plenty of healthy food and fresh water so that her milk production is up to the challenge. She trusts that her calf is in a safe place during her short absence from him. She trusts that I will promptly reunite her with her baby when the milking session is over. And she trusts that she will be released to join her herd on the brae so she can resume her job as Herd Matriarch.
And I must trust Moo. To sit on a VERY low stool (Moo is short) . . . with my face VERY near the back hooves of a 700+ pound animal . . . is a VERY precarious position to be in.
It's a partnership . . . Moo and me. Some people are cavalier about their livestock. But I just feel humbled. I am grateful to the others who have preserved these rare cattle so that I can now raise them. I am grateful to the Lord for His blessing on my ridge-top heritage farm. And I am grateful to Moo . . . even if she is ~only~ a cow . . . for her gentle, kind nature.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Small Things

I am headed to the barn in a few minutes to do some final Dexter grooming for nationals. Just some small clipping “touch-ups,” but sometimes small things can make a big difference in the show ring.
Small things.
It seems I am always doing small things.
Feeding livestock.
Grooming show cows.
Cleaning udders and milking the girls.
Halter training weaned calves.
Mucking stalls and sweeping the barn aisle.
Weeding the garden and checking the health of the apple orchard.
Small things . . .
things that are only significant in the bigger picture . . .
things that are completely unspectacular in themselves.
And in reality . . . here at Kirkhaven . . .  even “the bigger picture” isn’t bigger than a small East Tennessee heritage farm.
My husband said something yesterday that has kept my mind and heart busy as my hands have worked through these early summer days. Actually . . . my heart and mind are on pause. I feel like I need to stop the whole show for a bit . . . ruminate on this idea for a while until I begin to find a measure of Truth in it:
“Hey Dear . . . I know why God says that faithfulness in the small things is important. It’s because HE is faithful in the small things.”
Okay. I have heard the idea of “faithfulness in small things” preached from the pulpit many times. The gist of the sermons typically is that if you are faithful in the small things then God will reward you with big things. But now I am wondering . . . so if you are faithful being a janitor at a corporation, does that mean God will let you become the CEO? Is it really a reliable formula . . .
faithfulness in small things + faithfulness in more small things = a reward of big things??
So did God practice faithfulness in creating and stewarding tiny atoms so that He would be worthy to create the grand expansive universe? Or did He create tiny raindrops so that He could eventually wow heaven and earth with a Niagara Falls grand finale?
Or what if . . . just maybe . . . small things are the point?
What if we were NOT created to endure small things until we finally earned big things?
What if the WHOLE JOURNEY is the point?
Every tiny moment.
Every boring chore.
Every little detail of every normal routine.
Even the unexpected surprises.
Both successes and failures.
And even the grand adventures.
What if the whole and the summation of our entire lives is really just the gestalt of all the daily small things?
What if a truly good life simply means joy and faithfulness and gratitude . . .
IN the small things,
WITH the small things,
BECAUSE OF the small things.
Whether you are a CEO or a janitor.
Whether you change diapers all day or trade stocks.
AND what if the small things ARE the reward?
Know therefore that the Lord your God,
He is God, the faithful God . . .
Deuteronomy 7:9
He is faithful in every small thing.
I truly don’t want to miss out on the great riches of life because I squandered the treasure of small things . . .


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sally's Babies

My dear friend Sally has dropped off some of her livestock at Kirkhaven to stay for a few days. She and her husband are making a trip up north for family reasons, so I have the honor of caring for two beautiful Dexter calves and one veeeery pregnant Nubian doe. Today my heart and my hands are busy caring for babies.
It's such a humbling and vulnerable feeling to care for so many "baby" things.

Baby chicks...who need their brooder to maintain the correct temperature, their water to stay fresh, their food to be plentiful and attainable.

Greenhouse seedlings . . . that need the greenhouse to be 70 degrees, their soil to stay moist and warm, and sunlight to bathe their fragile leaves.

Sally’s sweet little "bottle baby" Hush . . . who needs me to milk Jewel & Rebecca so she can have fresh, warm Dexter milk (her tummy cannot tolerate powdered milk replacer).  And also needs plenty of neck scratches.

Sally's adorable heifer calf Mo . . . who needs proper care to insure her continued recovery from a recent illness.

6 beautiful Kirkhaven calves . . . who simply need a compassionate, watchful steward to make sure all their needs are being met. And to notice if anything might be awry.

3 heavily pregnant Kirkhaven cows . . . who truly appreciate healthy food and clean water.  And a sympathetic farmer to care that they are uncomfortably HUGE.  And a warm, freshly-strawed stall to give birth in when the time comes.

It feels like an intimately choreographed dance with The Lord of the Universe. It all depends on my faithfulness as it ALL depends on HIS faithfulness. Every day. The Lord and I caring for growing things. Fellowshipping as we work together. Rejoicing as each new day brings new sprouts or new wing feathers or newborn moos and baaahs.

Maybe this is what it means to "pray without ceasing." For sure, this is what it means to live richly.

One of our adorable Buff Orpington chicks.

Our equally adorable Black Australorp chick.

Our latest calf: Kirkhaven Skye Gazing. Photo courtesy of Sally Coad . . . who was "cow sitting" our pregnant first-time heifer Rainbow at her farm when this little beauty was born.