January 5, 2020

Okay darn, it is going to be down to near zero again tonight. This has been such a strange winter here in this Colorado forest. We have had a warm December with only trace dustings of snow, only enough to remind you of what a white ground looks like before it melts back to brown dry pine needles. I think that is what makes it feel even more cold is because we were having such a mild winter up to this point. However we have also been dotted with the occasional hurricane force winds that have threatened to blow the chickens to Kansas. Last month during an especially horrendous wind storm one of our dead trees blew over and downed the main power line supplying our farm. We had called Mountain View Electric several times this past year about the dead trees by the power line and they had promised to come take care of them but I guess like all of us they have been sidetracked with this Covid pandemic as well. When we noticed that our power was off, my hubby and I went out right away to investigate and found a frightening situation where the the power line was on the ground with all those dry pine needles and also draped over like a downed clothesline over the pigs’ water trough and onto the metal roof of the Kune Kune pigs’ house. Now their house is not built of brick or straw but of wood and I could imagine everything going up into flames and then the winds carrying the fire throughout the forest like what happened several years ago when so many homes burned in Black Forest. I called 911 and Mountain View Electric was at our farm in 10 minutes. It is amazing what you can do in 10 minutes. While we were waiting for the electric company to arrive, we moved the bull (the hardest part) and heifer and Dollie and Gracie and the bewildered Kune Kunes all away from the front pasture where the power line was down. As soon as they arrived, Mountain View Electric cut the power off to our farm (and our neighbours , sorry folks) and they had the line back up and electricity back on for all of us within an hour and a half. Whew, that was a close call and we were grateful for not having to decide whether to eat barbecue pork or beef that day.

So yep, crazy weather this winter. Our farm lives by the weather app on our phones. When we did our evening chores tonight, we brought Dolly our milk cow who is 8 1/2 months pregnant (and reminds us of this all the time ) and Gracie (who reminds us that she is not a cow and what is going on?) and closed them up in their stalls to keep them out of the wind and cold and if we are lucky, snow. We pulled Gracie’s warm thick blanket out from the tack room and dusted it off and snapped it on her. We asked the alpacas if they wanted us to close them in their stalls as well but they just rolled their big brown eyes and reminded us of their thick fluffy warm alpaca sweaters and if we would just leave their stall door open they would come in when THEY felt like they needed to. The piggies and the cats who have decided to move in with them all have thick straw in their houses and the chickens have their heat lamps on in their houses. So they are set. The fish in the greenhouse were swimming around without a care in the world in their pond with the stock tank heater on. The toughest cookies are the Kentucky Bourbon Red turkeys who insist on roosting outside no matter what even though they have their own house to go into and Torito, the bull who likes to show off and act macho around Ellie our heifer. He insists horns and all that he does not need to go into the loafing shed and can endure standing out in the pasture no matter what. Ellie usually just shilly shallies until she gives up the whole herd mentality thing and moves into the shed herself.

So last but not least are the dogs. Now usually they are just fine in the barn bunking down with Gracie and the cow and the cats who have not moved in with the pigs and all of the straw and hay you can imagine. Now actually that is not what they do all night because most of the night they spend barking and chasing off who knows what off the farm. That is their job and they are proud of it and take it seriously. Thank God. But zero degrees is just too cold. Especially for our Pichon, the Navajo reservation dog we inherited when our daughter Elena moved to New Zealand with her family. He is built like a tank but has short hair and as my husband says is friolento.

And then we also have Toby our loyal brilliant neurotic border collie who my hubby calls an old man. I am Toby’s human and he will stay right next to my side of the bed until I am ready to go back outside.

Our willing Akbash livestock guardian dogs Ayla and Judah are huge and majestic but still puppies at heart and they pivot back and forth from guarding the animals out in the pasture to guarding my hubby and I where ever we may be on the farm.

So when it is going to be super cold outside they all come into the home with us. Now these 4 farm dogs are definitely not house dogs and they always act bewildered when they come in to the house. Toby stays on guard at his posts by the back door or by my bed always ready for service. Pichon the head ranch hand on the farm likes to revert back to his Boulder college days when he was first adopted by Elena and her husband Pablo and they would let him sleep on their furniture. When I found him on my parent’s antique velvet chair I set him straight about all of that. Ayla and Judah, our Akbash puppies like to look for shoes, socks, Christmas ornaments on the tree etc to play with. Oh, brother. Last week when we had them in the house we had them all stay in our bedroom and they would alternate from walking around our bed and wagging their tails against the furniture or lying down with a big thud onto the hardwood floor and then snore and fart. My hubby and I just turned to each other and rather than saying “Good night” we said “Good luck. ” Knowing that we were looking forward to having a repeat performance tonight, I took a nap this afternoon.

I praise God that He watches over us as He does. He knows just what we need. He provides us with our food and shelter and when things are looking pretty rough, He comforts us and lovingly shields us during the storms of our lives. What an amazing and patient and caring Father He is! How can we be anything but thankful to Him and give Him due honor for the Glorious Lord He is?

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble

Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection

2 Corinthians 1:4-5 Who comforts us in all of our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God, For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

January 3, 2022

Boy, has it been some time since I posted last. I could go on and on with the usual excuses that life has been too busy, etc. But the real reason that it has been so long since I have posted is that I have been too focused on this Covid pandemic and just trying to keep my hubby and I alive so that we can someday see all of our children and their families and our families in Texas “once this is over”. Yes, “once this is over”, We are all waiting for that day, right? Crazy. I have been spending too much time waiting for that day. I have no answers just like most of you really have no answers either on what to do about Covid. But I can share what is going on at our farm and with the animals who share this little island of pine trees and pasture in Black Forest on the outskirts of bustling Colorado Springs. So let me catch you up.

We have almost a hundred chickens now. The True Blue Whitings and the Lavender Americaunas who we added to the farm as little chicks last spring are laying more than ever now! Even with the cold winter weather and drops to zero degrees, they keep hopping up in their nests and gracing us with big beautiful blue eggs. We are getting about 3 dozen eggs per day from our chicken herd.

The Blue Laced Red Wyandottes are also still laying nicely through the cold weather. This is their second winter. They are so broody at times and often I have to reach in and pick up and cuddle and pet one of the hens so I can get her eggs. You have to be understanding with them and loving because they are often in a bad mood and fluffed out flat over the eggs. It is cute because when you pick the hen up and set her on the floor of the chicken coop she stays in the same position. I try to coax her to the food and remind her that we do not need to hatch eggs at this time. She usually disagrees and there is not even a rooster around pressuring her into this behaviour. The roosters are all together in their own bachelor coop and pen. Some of them I have to admit could be on death row, especially if the price of chicken keeps going up in the store. Most of the time, I just get too fond of them and how beautifully feathered they all are. So, what do we do with all these eggs? My neighbour Johanna helps me sell some of them and I have some friends who come by and pick up a few dozen at a time. Let’s just say that our dogs and pigs are very well fed with the extra eggs we have around. The Lord has abundantly provided all of us on the farm with what we need for the day and usually more than we can even take in for ourselves. He is our God, our provider.

We have 3 cattle right now. Dolly our milk cow is due the end of this month! Thank God because we have been having to drink store bought milk which tastes like water compared to Dolly’s rich Jersey milk when she is in milk. She was initially artificially inseminated this past year with semen from a miniature jersey bull from Sure Shot but she did not get pregnant after all that expense of shots, sexed semen etc. Dolly instead took matters into her own hands, i.e. hooves, and got out of her pasture and had a one night stand night on the town with our Jersey Dexter bull, Torito and sure enough she got pregnant . Now we have NEVER had a female calf out of our Dexter bulls in the past. It would be something if this was the first time. The calf from our last milk cow Abigail grew up to a good sized steer and he is now in our freezer in little packages. Thank goodness, because the price of beef is just out of sight. Remember, Dolly had a calf named Ellie? Unbeknownst to us Dolly had been bred back to an Angus when we got her and Ellie, her calf is this beautiful sweet black as night heifer with no horns. My husband bucked common sense and fell in love with her and decided to keep her and see if she will make a good milk cow herself. And beside she is the first heifer calf we have ever had born on this farm! She is grown up and now in the pasture with Torito so someday I am sure we will have a lovely black bull calf. No matter how hard we try to control things in our lives, it is almost always to no avail. The best is to trust God as he usually has the answer for our problems right in front of us. We just need to open our eyes and look.

Oh, the best news of the farm is about Gracie , our pinto arabian mare. She had severe laminitis and we thought many times she was going to pass to the great horse pasture in the sky. We had 2 different vets out to see her in July and they both thought she was ready to put down. We rented a backhoe and our friend George dug a grave for her and we scheduled the vet to come out the next day to put her down. I kept praying and pleading with God for a miracle, for us to be able to have Gracie a little longer. Well, Gracie got wind of all of this and the next morning she came to her senses and looked at my hubby with those soulful Bambi eyes as he was giving her hay and told him she was not ready to go. We called the vet and cancelled the appointment for the euthanasia and boy have things changed since then! She is SO much better. She has put on great weight and is walking around in her paddock and even going out to the pasture on good weather days.

Kenny our farrier said he would have not believed it if he had not seen it when he came to do her last trimming. Gracie is doing well. Some cold mornings she is a little stiff but so are my hubby and myself. We have learned from her that being reminded of a grave awaiting us can be a big wake up call to start living.

We have also been reminded most of all how much the Lord loves us and our animals and hears our prayers. I am so thankful that He has chosen to give us more time with Gracie on this earth. I hope when we both go to heaven I will get to ride her in heaven.

You know there are horses in heaven, right? Our Savior will be riding on one when He returns!

We have pigs! Remember Bonnie? She got huge and we quickly learned she was out of our league. Our friend Theo traded a smaller blue butt pig Daisy for her so we could have a pig more manageable for two late 60 somethings like my husband and I. We renamed her Bathsheba after finding out that she loved to take long soaking baths in her tub. Well Bathsheba came to us pregnant and wound up having eleven little piggies!

Now that is a lot of piggies and 4 of them did not make it despite much effort to save them. Bathsheba herself never fully recovered from the ordeal and passed away before this past Christmas. We sold 2 of the piglets to a local farm and we decided to keep and raise 5 of them. They are so cute. We are going to keep 2 for breeder sows and 3 of them we are raising for meat for us and the Brewery where we get our spent grains. They have been huddling together under a heat lamp in an A Frame house with straw for bedding and doing very well.

They love to run in the pasture and the alpacas still voice their discontent over sharing the farm with pigs. Things never change. We also added three Kune Kunes to our farm last summer. One of them, Puddles had piglets as well and we sold all of the babies once they were weaned to local farms.

The Kunes are doing great even with this extremely cold weather. They are amazing with their bright colored and spotted fat little short legged bodies. They look like little toy Tsum Tsums. Who would have thought we would have gone from one pig to now 8 pigs on the farm. The Lord keeps multiplying our blessings.

We lost our beloved Akbash, Jacob last year. That was indeed one of the saddest mornings when we found him peacefully asleep and gone to heaven during chores on a sunny cold spring morning. We were never able to make sense of it. He was with us and then he was gone. We reached out to the Akbash breeders we knew in Texas and before we knew it we had 2 puppies in our car and driving back from Central Texas to Colorado Springs stopping often to give water, food and letting them out at dog parks we could find on the way to run and pet and love on them. We have named the girl Ayla and the boy Judah.

They are amazing and loving dogs. We are looking forward to breeding them someday and having little Akbash puppies who can go on to bless and protect local farms and ranches in our community. Hope is a blessing.

The Lord has kept us safe and well this past year. I pray you will see when and where He has done the same for you. Yes , there have been many days of sorrow with missing our children and grandchildren who live across the oceans where we can’t get to one another at this time.

Our hope is to someday soon see them and hug them again. Lord increase our faith during these trying times. We know with You all things are possible. and we are not alone.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

March 1,2021

Hard to believe that February has come and gone. For being retired from the pediatric clinic where I was working when Covid struck, I have been busier than can be on our Albergue Garcia Farm. Most of my time has been taken up being an ICU nurse and caregiver for my horse, Gracie. As you know, she has severe laminitis and has been having a very hard time pulling out of this attack on her 2 front feet. She got by on Banamine for her pain and Prascend for her Cushing’s Disease for weeks but then started going down hill and not wanting to get up as much as before. Kenny Gee, Gracie’s amazing and loving farrier recommended I get a second vet opinion to see if there was something that we had been missing that might could help her. Here is Kenny and his wife Rocky after he trimmed her feet and put the Soft Ride Boots with Orthotics on her front feet.

So I called Colorado Equine Vet and Dr. Jody Morris came out and examined her and drew some blood for lab tests and gave a list of medication and care orders for me to care for Gracie.

First we moved her from her paddock to the barn stall with a much smaller space of about 12 ft by 26 ft for her to convalesce. This would be her “horspital” for however many weeks deemed necessary by the vet. She is near her water and the area is padded with a thick layer of straw that we change out for her twice a day for her to lie down on as she needs. Look at her sweet upside down heart on her side.

She is on a low starch grain now made by Nutrena and we soak her hay for 20 minutes in water and drain it before giving it to her. To soak the hay I repurposed my antique double metal sink. I used this when I was having to do laundry in the back yard this past summer when my washing machine broke in the middle of Covid when we could not go in to the store and ordering one online took forever as they were backlogged.

Oh Boy, what a time that was. Well, the darn thing works like a charm. Improvise, improvise as always when living on a farm. We now use one side of the metal sink to soak the hay and the other side to drain the hay. We have continued her on the Prascend and have started her on levothyroxine and this has really stimulated her appetite which is a good thing as she was starting to lose a lot of weight. We also started her on Pentoxy, a vasodilator to help increase nourishing blood flow to her laminitic front legs. She takes 8 tablets twice daily of this. Dr. Morris helped me with a weaning schedule to get Gracie off the NSAID, Banamine which can injure her kidneys and on to Tylenol twice daily. Yes, Tylenol! She takes 17 of the 500mg Tylenol caplets per dose. She is also on Gastrogard once a day which is horse Omeprazole to protect her stomach. Getting Gracie to take all of these medications has been a challenge and I have done a lot of experimenting in what is the best way to get her meds in. I tried putting the tablets in a ziplock bag and crushing them first with a rolling pin and then with a hammer but the baggie would get punctured and the tablet crumbles would escape. I tried grinding the tablets with a mortar and pestle but this was hard and tedious and Gracie would complain about any chunk of tablet that got in her mouth. I tried dissolving the tablets in water but they did not dissolve well at all. The best way I have found is to put the tablets in a small electric coffee grinder and presto they are ground to a fine powder just like that!

I then mix the powder with a little carrot juice with her Nutrena low starch grain in a small feed bucket and she eats it all gone! Because of the cold we have been keeping a blanket on her unless we have a sunny day above freezing.

So with all this effort Gracie is a little better. I am thankful for that. Dr. Morris has been optimistic and is coming out to follow up on her tomorrow. Gracie and I have been learning a lot about each other spending so much time together. I am learning to be more patient with her and understanding on her bad days. She is very tolerant of me getting her meds in her, taking her blanket off and on, cleaning her stall etc. I sing to her and she whinnies to me. We know that we are both doing the best we can do and for each of us that is rewarding and enough. We had a good day together today and for that we are both thankful. One day at a time. The Lord has been good to us.

Colossians 3:15-17

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord, And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

January 26, 2021

It has been a cold week at our Albergue Garcia Farm along the Front Range in Colorado. The snow has been very welcomed as our poor Black Forest area has been in such a drought. All of the trees are covered with snow and ice and it looks like a winter wonderland out there. The days are getting a little longer each day which has also been welcomed. If you look carefully you can see the chickens still have their Christmas lights up. They insisted.

Things have slowed down quite a bit. The chickens stay in their house almost the entire day except for an occasional stroll outside their house to see what the ducks are doing. The ducks never seem to be bothered by the cold. They quack and quarrel and waddle around like nothing is unusual. The pigs (Yes, Bonnie’s boyfriend Willy is still here eating us out of house and home) lie around in their little A frame house wondering what my hubby and I are going to fix them for dinner. The alpacas are not fazed by the cold with their thick alpaca blankets on. The cows find shelter in their barns or under the trees and seem content as well. It helps that the wind is not blowing hard today because that would definitely make the cold worse. The little birdies such as the pigmy nuthatch, the white breasted nuthatch and the Juncos are all still quite active, digging through the snow to get to their feeders and let us know when they need to be refilled with wild bird seed. The Magpies and Stellar Jays and Owls are still adding their songs to the quiet days and nights of winter here. Every once in awhile a squirrel will come out of their warm tree house and check out what the birdies have left in their feeders. I don’t have a heart to chase them away during the winter.

However, our sweet horse Gracie has been having the hardest time on our farm these past couple of weeks. She has had bouts of laminitis in the past and her present bout seems to be the worst. The vet has been out 3 times and we have been giving her Banamine for her pain in her front legs. The Bute just didn’t work anymore like it used to. Dr. Parker also started her on Equioxx, another nonsteroidal antinflammatory medication. Because she was showing very little improvement, she had blood tests done that have returned positive for Cushing’s Disease. This illness is also seen in humans and results from your body’s exposure to high levels of the hormone cortisol that your body makes from increased secretion of ACTH by the pituitary gland. For Gracie’s Cushing Disease, we have started her on Prascend which is a dopamine receptor agonist. This means that it helps to block the effects of this increased hormone secretion which has led to her pot belly, increased body hair, increased fat deposits over her mane area and worst of all, her cruel laminitis.

I am a doctor and have treated many children through my career. I feel so helpless now with my horse. I have done everything the vet has instructed me to with strict dietary changes and herbal supplements as well as giving her meds on time throughout the day. The bottom line is I love my horse and I do not want to lose her. I want to show you how amazing she has been and still is. Here she is when she picked me out to be her Mom in 2002 at the Rescue Center in Black Forest.

Here she is when I first started to ride her and she was always good as gold and took such good care of me when I was still so afraid of horse back riding.

She has always been good with children. When my grandson Solomon was a toddler he would push around one of those old fashioned popcorn popper push toys and one day while I was saddling up Gracie and Glory in the barn for my hubby and I to ride, Solomon walked right under Gracie and Glory pushing the popcorn popper along before I could stop him. Gracie looked at Glory bewildered and not sure what to do. I looked at Gracie and Glory and pleaded with my eyes for them not to move. I could almost hear Glory, the older horse who passed away 2 years ago saying to young Gracie, “Just breathe and don’t move a muscle. It will be okay.” Those 2 horses stood there like statues, spread legged, trusting and not spooking. So amazing. Here is another one of my grandchildren Gryphon at 4 years of age leading Gracie around the round pen. Also look at the pictures of Gracie rodeoing with Cheyenne her little friend when they were both much younger and both learning the ropes. Gracie has cared for and entertained a lot of my loved ones through the years.

I remember when my sweet little Pintarabian Premarin farm rescue pony used to run in the pastures with her tail up like a flag and when she would get irritated she would snort and fart at the same time. So beautiful and funny and silly. My hubby would say, “Now Gracie, that is not very lady like!” I am praying that she will improve and be able to do that someday again. She has had to be in a barn stall with a small well sanded corral for several years now and unable to go out on the pastures to graze as before because the fresh grass was injurious to her belly and most of all her feet. I spend a lot of time with her brushing her and talking to her and feeding her meds to her with a little of her senior grain supplement by a bucket I hold for her. I have prayed for her, sang to her, cried with her and just stood close to her when she needed it most. I want the best for her. I want her to know that she is just as dear and valuable to me whether she can be ridden or not. Just her company is a great gift to me. She knows a lot about me that I have shared with her over the years. She does not judge me by my political leanings nor the fact that I have become out of shape and gained weight and my barn clothes never match. She doesn’t care that my hair has turned to gray and become more unruly especially during these Covid Can’t Go to the Beauty Shop Days. She does not think any less of me for retiring. She is the animal picture of unconditional love.

Oh, I hope and pray we can all break out of the corrals we have have found ourselves fenced in with during this Covid pandemic. We need to be able to run and enjoy ourselves and be silly as well. I am so glad I have had my husband here with me working from home to keep me company during these trying lonely times. And I am so glad I have my Saviour Jesus to watch over me and feed me with His word and care for me lovingly and unconditionally as only He can do. His word says that He sings over us. Isn’t that something? The God of the whole universe cares enough to sing over me! I need that. It is getting harder to walk through this trying time. Sometimes it feels so hard to just put one foot in front of the other. I often feel so unput together. I am so glad you are walking along with me too. I want to be a comfort for you as well. We need each other. Listen and you can hear the Lord whispering in our ears, “It’s going to be okay, just hold on to Me. I am here right beside you and will never leave.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

January 14, 2021

Wow, just writing that date above this blog is a real eye opener. So much has happened since the holidays. Let me distract you with the latest news on our adventure farm. Bonnie has a boyfriend. Bonnie, as you recall is our 10 month old Blue Butt sow who this past year avoided a trip to the butcher’s by stealing our hearts. She is such a cool, sweet, pretty pig and we thought we would try our hand at small scale pig farming. Right. So in order to help Bonnie become a mommy we had a choice between setting up AI (artificial insemination) or natural breeding. Both options seemed daunting. A little over a week ago my daughter in law Promise and I were sitting at our kitchen table discussing this predicament and pulled out a calendar to plan for when we would need to get Bonnie bred. Pigs’ breeding cycles are every 21 days and I had a pretty good idea when Bonnie was last in heat when she was so squealy and running around like a banshee in her pen. Pig’s pregnancies last 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. So when we looked at wanting to have our new little piggies being born around Mother’s Day this year, we counted backwards and WOAH, we realized that she needed to be bred NOW. So, we went to the pig’s version of Match.com, Craigslist and put an ad in looking for a boar to breed our pig. We got 4 responses in 24 hours! Who would have thought? After interviewing the owners of Bonnie’s potential suitors, we decided on a fellow southerner Teo’s Blue Butt boar to breed our little girl. I had never seen a boar until Willy the Pig. Bonnie’s date arrived in a large livestock trailer at our farm. He is huge and I mean huge. He even has tusks. Teo and I went over the details of the contract to breed his boar to our sow, exchanged money and then backed up the trailer to Bonnie’s gate. Before Willy even unloaded, Bonnie was squealing and skipping around her run with more excitement than I have ever seen from her.

It was such an event, our neighbours came over to see the sight. I guess we are all a little bored staying home all the time during this Covid pandemic, right? Bonnie and Willy have been together now for a week and they are still having a good time together.

I am amazed the two of them can fit in Bonnie’s A-frame to sleep. Sort of like when my hubby and I have had to sleep on a twin bed together. Bonnie says that Willy snores, farts, grunts in his sleep and tries to eat her food. Even though she is small compared to the monstrous boar, she keeps him in his place.

Having Willy the pig on our farm has caught the attention of not only my husband who cannot believe how much that pig can eat but also our alpacas who were initially shocked at their first sight of Bonnie’s boyfriend. Annie, our leading matriarch alpaca let out a high pitched call when she first saw him. Jesus and I first thought it was a screeching hawk when we heard the sound as we had never heard our alpacas make such a noise. It sounded like a guinea fowl.

After we spoke with Annie and calmed her down she and the rest of the Mama alpacas comforted their crias by snuzzling them and nursing them.

Willy the pig is going to stay on our farm with Bonnie for one month and then thankfully return to his hometown of Kiowa. Then hopefully in May sometime we will have pictures of darling little pink and blue piggies to show you. Something to look forward to.

I have to say that the extent of this pandemic and the effect it has had on our lives was more than we could have ever imagined and has been so overwhelming in every sense. It has eaten up a lot of our joy and it has at times literally scared us almost to death. But one day it will be over and we can pick up the pieces and get on with our new lives whatever they will look like. We need encouragement that it will be okay and we need to be comforted . This we can get from our Father in Heaven who promises us that He will never leave us and His plans for us are for good for those who are called according to His purposes. He has everything under control.

2 Corinthians 4-5

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

January 2, 2021

It is 2021.Most of the time I say, “Boy this past year just flew, didn’t it?” But that is not the case this year. The year seems to have taken forever to go by. Looking forward to new beginnings this year. I think we still have a lot to process from what happened last year. But let’s do that another day.

I started back to crocheting these past weeks and am using the yarn spun from our Alpacas’ fiber. That sounds so simple doesn’t it? But this is what was actually involved. Every year we take our alpacas to be shorn before the hot summer starts. Now that is a sight if you ever saw one. First, you catch the alpacas by cornering them in their run and put halters on them. Then you lead or drag them as in the case of Coco and load them in to the stock trailer. So in the middle of the Covid pandemic we took them to our friend Barbara Mathern’s neighbor’s farm where many local alpaca ranchers were meeting the travelling shearers. Of course, we were all masked and socially distanced. Still seems so strange thinking about it all.

The 2 shearers made quick work of caring for our alpacas in a large open garage with the necessary Covid pandemic ventilation. First the alpaca is tied by the arms and the legs to keep them still so the shearers can quickly remove their fleece.

Once they were shorn I would examine them for any signs of infections, parasites etc. Here is Annie, as pregnant as can be, right before I gave her her yearly vaccine. It is much easier to do this while she is nice and still and you can see her skin where before thick piles of alpaca fiber lay.

After the alpacas have their fiber shorn, vaccines given and toenails clipped, they have their dental work done. The shearers, now turned dentists, use a Dremel type tool to grind the alpacas’ teeth down. This was not their favorite part for sure. They did not even have the option of watching a video during the procedure.

So once the alpacas were all cared for, we loaded them back up in the livestock trailer and drove the bewildered alpacas back home. They were much easier to unload and willingly scampered back in to their run acting more sheepish and embarrassed than alpacaish. We took the fiber to The Good Shepherd Fiber Mill in Elizabeth, Colorado where the lady owner there does such an amazing job with processing the fiber in to useable product. I usually have all of the fiber turned into rovings ready for spinning. This year I had some of the fiber actually machine spun into 2 ply yarn at the Fiber Mill. So when I decided to crochet all I had to do was pull out the large spools of alpaca yarn and decide which color I wanted to use. So far I have made hats and socks for my grandsons Julian and Micah who live in England. The fiber I used for those was from our male alpaca Barak. Here is Micah with his hat and socks in Merry Old England where he lives with his brother Julian, Dad Simon and our daughter Sarah, his Mom.

Now I am working on a baby blanket for our daughter Elena’s new baby which is due in April of this year. She lives in New Zealand and it will be starting to go into winter there at that time. I am using Coco’s fiber for the blanket.

I am so thankful for our wonderful alpacas and the fiber they give us for clothing and blankets. I told them that yesterday when I fed them. I did not bring up the fact that we are only a few months away from going through the whole shearing ordeal again. I think it is best for them not to worry about that right now.

I am so thankful for how the Lord has cared for us this past year during the awful pandemic of 2020 that changed all of our lives. I know we have all been through the mill. Here I am looking a little bewildered myself as I was getting my Covid shot this past week at the end of 2020.

I know that He will take care of me and my family and our animals this next year. I asked Him to. I can imagine Him smiling down at me during my prayers and deciding not to bring up the tough times that will be coming in 2021. He knows that if I do not lead willingly in to whatever He has for me, He will be there to drag or carry me through. That is all I have to know for now. Back to crocheting.

Isaiah 48: 17

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.”

December 23, 2020

This afternoon before sundown while feeding the animals, I told Bonnie our pig about the post from yesterday and how much everybody loves the picture of Daisy, the chick. Well, she has insisted that I post the video of her blowing bubbles and she thinks you will all like this even more than the picture of the chick. 🤷‍♀️

Bonnie is about 8 months old and 400 lbs. She is a big little girl. She loves her feed soaked in milk to make a type of corn mush. She loves to romp around her pig pen and she absolutely loves water and mud. She snorts, she jumps and she snores when she sleeps. She loves to be scratched behind her ears. Bonnie should have been in the freezer by now but instead she jumped into our hearts. We are going to try to get her bred this spring and have a bunch of little piggies. It just seems the thing to do, right? We have a friend named Emma who just completed her training to be an AI specialist (not artificial intelligence but artificial insemination). So, with a little help from Emma we should be able to find a sperm donating Baby Daddy for our sweet sow. Should he have stand up ears or floppy ears? Should he be black, brown or white? Oh my, so many details to consider. For now we will just make sure she has plenty of water for bubble blowing.

December 22, 2020

Boy, it has been a couple of beautiful days on our farm with the snow melting and watching for the Christmas star at night. And, the end of this week is Christmas! So what a perfect time to talk about Easter eggs! Finally our little pullets that we bought in June 2020 started laying eggs this week! We have not had blue or green eggs on our farm in years. I want to show you some different colored eggs and which breed of chicken laid which. Now I have found they all seem to taste the same for breakfast but it is so much fun having egg cartons with a rainbow of different colored eggs.

I would have had a Mille Fleur chicken egg picture for your but my hubby had it with his scrambled eggs and biscuits this morning. I will try to post a picture of one of their tiny little adorable eggs the next time we get one. Eggs are probably the best bang for your buck on a small farm. They eat scraps, their feed is reasonably priced and you can sell good quality eggs from your farm for about 4 dollars a dozen. Winter time usually results in fewer eggs being laid even when the chickens have lights in their house to psych them into thinking the days are still long. But remember our chickens are partying late anyway with their Christmas lights. 😉You can even raise chickens in your backyard if you live in town. Some places have restrictions for how many hens you can have and some ban roosters to keep from annoying your neighbours. You can also hatch your own fertilized eggs using an incubator. It only takes 21 days and then you get this adorable little one. This is my neighbour’s baby chick, Daisy, who she hatched from one of our Buff Orphington eggs.

So before you get chickens make sure you have a safe coop to protect them from critters who would LOVE a chicken dinner. Here in Black Forest, we have lots of chicken eaters including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, hawks and stray dogs. We have a very famous chicken eater on our farm named Jacob. He is our Akbash who is supposed to protect the livestock and he does for the most part. Except like me being unable to resist a piece of chocolate, he is unable to resist a stray clucking fluttering around chicken. That’s why we have had to have Fort Knox style chicken coups for our chickens on our farm. We built those after the great chicken slaughter several years ago where we came home from work to find 28 dead chickens scattered all over the place and a guilty looking Akbash puppy. Having the chickens in their big coops all the time is not as romantic as having chickens wandering around all over the farm as you see in Western movies on TV. I know, we could find another home for Jacob where there would not be the temptation of eating chickens, but we have made it a point to try to live in harmony with one another on our farm including the animals as much as possible.

Psalm 91:4

He shall cover you with His feathers; and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler

December 17, 2020

One thing is true, we have all had to be flexible during this COVID pandemic to survive. If you are not flexible, you will become brittle and the weight of this crisis will break you into emotional pieces. That has been especially the case at our Albergue Garcia adventure farm. In March when the shutdown hit, our Sunday school group moved to Zoom meetings. It has been amazing how our group has continued to meet over the internet every week since then. We know more than ever now that we need Jesus and each other to survive.

During a storm, if you are lucky , you can see suddenly and unexpectedly the clouds open and the sun break forth to give you a temporary reprieve before the rains or snow start to barrel down on you again.

The Lord did that for us this summer. We were given a long string of beautiful Sundays on the farm. Our Sunday school group would meet together with the COVID restrictions of bring your own chair, water bottle, empty bladder and mask. We would spread out our chairs under the piney trees and under the warm sun.

We put in an extra walk through gate on the east side of our farm to make it easier for the neighbours to come and join us. We named it Zachary’s gate. This way his Mom’s Mom and Dad and his Dad’s Mom and Dad could worship together.

Our milk cow, Maggie and bull, Torito would often listen in to our services from across the pasture fence as Bruce, our Sunday school leader shared the Word with our group.

Sometimes Bruce had to do some remedial lessons with the bull. (They can be bull headed, you know.)

As the default worship leader, I would practice my guitar and mandolin I had not picked up in years and lead our Sunday school group as we sung old timey church hymns. These songs of praise from the good ol’ days harkened back to my teenage years of taking my Grandma Brown to church at the Sabine Tabernacle in Beaumont, Texas. I thought I was doing her a favor taking her to church. She, however was taking me to meet my Saviour. Here on our farm, our Unshackled Life Group, as we call ourselves, sang our praises to God under the clapping branches of the trees and with the birdies joining in chorus. We prayed and encouraged one another. We laughed and we cried with one another. We spoke of our trials and tribulations. We spoke of our Hope and Heaven.

We figured out a way to have a proper chicken dinner on the grounds in a safe manner thanks to Colonel Sanders box dinners. We even figured out a way to have a pandemic safe communion service.

Then came the cold, the snow and the second wave of COVID. To this day we are still back in our homes meeting on zoom again on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. The rains are barreling down on us again but we are safe and dry. This storm too shall pass. If you want, you can join us too on the internet as we wait for another clearing in the skies.

Mark 4:39-41

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

December 14, 2020

We all need a focal point. Something to take our minds off the troubles around us. When the pandemic hit our lives in March, I was the medical director of a busy pediatric clinic at Peak Vista Community Health Center. On the weekends my husband and I were working on our greenhouses and getting our tomatoes started in the pit greenhouse. I was tending to my seedlings by our south living room window before and after going to work.

And then it all changed as it did for many of you and your families. How was I going to direct the clinic? How was I going to take care of my patients? How was I going to take care of Jesus and myself, both high risk for this virus? My life reeled and I was tossed back and forth. Then I saw a Steller’s jay rummaging through the snow for seeds outside our kitchen window.

This noisy bird was digging through the snow for nourishment . I have always loved birds. I studied ornithology and worked on the bird census for the Big Thicket down in East Texas during my college days, way before thoughts of medical school entered my head. I moved my seedlings to another location and set up my COVID observation and work station. Here I would direct and do my telehealth and watch the birds. I was coming together. I spread out a cheerful out of place tablecloth, I found my chair from my UTMB medical school graduation that my Dad had given me, the quilt that a friend had given my sister before she passed away from cancer only a few years ago and gathered up pictures of my children and grandchildren and my long passed away Mom and Dad. I set a picture I had of my Lord Jesus with the little children right in front of me. Jesus was going to have to help me take care of little patients as well as my own children. I armed myself with my work computer, cell phone, binoculars and my bird identification book.

Though we had lived on this Albergue Garcia adventure farm for 10 years, I could not have told you before COVID hit what species of birds were breathing around us. But I soon learned them all. They brought their young to the bird feeders I set up on my deck, almost knowing how much I longed to see my little patients and watch their antics in the exam rooms of the clinic. The birdies sung their beautiful songs as I longed for the songs my beautiful daughter Sarah would sing when she was young and here with us before moving across the ocean to England. These little birdies the Lord created became my focal point, much like a woman needs a focal point when she is going through the pangs of labor.


I can still hear my Mom singing this song at church:

” Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace. “