Tag Archives: Challenges

Finding Faith Amidst Challenges…

The Feed Yard Foodie farm was lucky to not be in the path of last week’s winter storm.  We received high winds and cold temperatures, but were blessedly missed by the blizzard.  My heart hurts for all of those folks who lost livestock in the storm.  The devastation is horrific, and this type of event always leaves me asking “Why”.

Today I am thankful for all of the animals that have been entrusted to me, as well as all of the wonderful people who help me to care for them...

Today I am thankful for all of the animals that have been entrusted to me, as well as all of the wonderful people who help me to care for them…

All of us face challenges in our lives.  That is something that we share regardless of our address or occupation.  I believe that the way that we deal with those challenges shows both our personal character and what role faith plays in our hearts.

The prayer below found me on Facebook last night.  I was struck at the beauty of the words, the tenacity of the writer, and the tremendous faith that the prayer demonstrates.  Every where that we look, there are people in need.  I encourage you today to share a bit of kindness—a bit of yourself—with someone who could use a helping hand.

Many thanks to Bobette Schofield for sharing these beautiful words.  They touched my heart and reminded me of the true strength that is found in faith.

The Rancher’s Prayer

The rancher looked toward heaven
And said, “God where have you been?
Do you know we had a blizzard,
With rain and snow and wind?

You know I built this herd of mine____
With blood and sweat and tears.
You know the work and worry,
As I struggled through the years.

Now as I stand and look around,
I see that it is gone.
I don’t know if I have the strength
To rebuild or go on.”

God looked down from heaven____
Saw the pain there in his eyes.
He heard the sadness in his voice.
He knew the sacrifice.

He said, “My son, you’re not alone.
I’m walking there with you____
I’ll give you all the strength you need
For what you have to do.

I’ll give you courage to go on,
Through all this loss and pain.
I’ll give you hope to start once more,
And build your herd again.

I know that this is who you are____
And not just what you do.
And as you’re making your fresh start,
I’ll be right there with you.

Do not think this is a failure,
Or that you’ve done something wrong.
You’re an example of the spirit
That makes South Dakota strong.

So stand up straight and tall my son,
For I have faith in you.
Put yesterday behind you now,
For we’ve got work to do!”

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Filed under Animal Welfare, General

Learning to Maintain Good Health…

According to my children, Matt has now reached middle age.  Fortunately, although I celebrated my birthday last week, I am “not THAT old yet”.  As you might guess, I rely heavily on my children to maintain humility and perspective…

My greatest joy...My source of humility...

Even though this particular birthday was not instrumental in changing my worldly status (according to my children), every year on February 7th, I feel compelled to take an introspective look at my health and my life.  I learned the hard way the year that I turned 30 that good health was a blessing not ever to be taken for granted.  I was a typical young woman with a career and three young children—I thought that I was Superwoman—I was ready to conquer the world…

God seems to always have a way of placing perspective back into my life.

With a five year old, a two and a half year old, and an infant; I found my health deteriorating.  I was frazzled, I was weak, and I felt as though I spent every day running a marathon but my steps simply kept getting more labored.  Riddled with numerous infections, weak with anemia, exhausted beyond anything that I had ever known, I kept getting out of bed every morning and moving forward because that was my personality.  When I could barely lift my youngest child, and I became short of breath when I read out loud to my middle daughter; I finally gave in and went to the doctor.

They needed me to be strong...

The anemia was easy to diagnose, but I knew that there was something else that was instigating my symptoms.  I weighed in at 98 pounds with my boots on the day that I was diagnosed with an auto-immune system disease called Graves Disease.  I left the doctor’s office and drove down to our river pasture ground.  There, I sat amidst the grass and the trees and cried.  Every once in a while, I would look up at the sky and simply ask “Why?”

The inherent peace found at this place helps me to maintain equilibrium during times of challenge...

I had never given a thought to my thyroid gland until it started trying to kill me.  When Graves Disease manifests itself, your body becomes confused and starts to think that your thyroid gland is a foreign invader. What results is a perpetual battle that causes significantly elevated levels of thyroid hormone, and renders the patient in a constant state of hyperthyroidism.  When I think of how I was during that time, I think of a frantic right-brained horse.  During the worst times, I was perpetually out of breath and had a resting heart rate of over 120 beats per minute.  Matt could literally take my pulse sitting across the room from me and watching the blood pulsate in my neck.

I started each day telling myself that God would never give me more than I could handle…There were certainly days when I was convinced that God overestimated my strength.

The responsibility that I felt for my family and my animals kept me going, getting me through the toughest days.  The regimented schedule of the feed yard and my children’s needs helped me to focus and to move forward.  My husband’s stalwart love and support eventually convinced me that I would again attain normalcy.  I celebrated my 33rdbirthday in the nuclear medicine ward of the University of Omaha’s medical center undergoing a radiation treatment to destroy my thyroid gland.  Normalcy was eventually attained, although due to additional complications with the radiation treatment it took much longer than I had ever imagined.

They also need me...And I need them...

Two months ago, I celebrated having the first normal blood work in 7 years…

My journey with Graves has been one with many twists and turns, but it has ultimately brought me strength of character and a new perspective on life.  Today, I take nothing for granted and I spend each day working to use my gifts to the fullest.  I also have a deeper appreciation for the animals that I raise and the beef that they produce.  They nourished my weak and anemic body, and have subsequently helped me to regain normal iron levels and the glow of good health.

Today I have many things to celebrate and I thank God for the blessing of good health and the ability to use my gifts to make a difference...

I am celebrating a hemoglobin score of 12.8 while also maintaining a triglyceride level of 36, a cholesterol level of 151, an HDL of 76, and an LDL of 67.  I am walking proof that a diet rich in beef can not only be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, but can also be an important factor in helping iron-challenged individuals regain good health.  I believe that beef (and iron supplements made from cattle) played a key role in helping me to regain my physical strength after struggling with a chronic illness for many years.

I am so thankful for my bovine animals whom provide me with nutrient rich food to fuel my good health...

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Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)

The Humble Inhabitant…

The most challenging part of morning swimming practice was diving into the water.  Being from Florida, most mornings were fairy warm; however, we did get some pretty cool temperatures during the winter months.  Of course, everything is relative, but 40 degrees at 5:00am standing on the pool deck in a bathing suit seemed cold.  It took an enormous amount of will power to force myself to dive into the water, and I still shudder a bit when I recall the feeling of hitting the cold water while my brain was still fuzzy from sleep.  I have never become a coffee drinker, and I really think that it goes back to all of those mornings when a cold pool woke me up—A cup of coffee just doesn’t have the same potency as that chilly water!

Twenty years later I still greet the cold winter weather early (our day at the feed yard starts at 6:00am), but I wear coveralls, heavy gloves and boots, and a face mask instead of a swimming suit.  My guys all have beards to keep their faces warm in the bitter cold, and I look like a bank robber with my black face mask on.

My winter wardrobe...

My definition of cold has altered a bit since I retired from swimming and moved to Nebraska.  When I went out to the feed yard on Sunday morning to read bunks and exercise some newly arrived cattle, the temperature was below zero.  When I left home before dawn the car thermometer read -3, and it had dropped to -8 by dawn.  Thankfully, the notorious and merciless Nebraska wind was not blowing.

Winter time in Nebraska reminds me that Mother Nature is fierce.  The descriptive word that comes to mind is raw.  Sunday morning I was surrounded by raw temperatures, but I was also surrounded by raw beauty.  I was both humbled and amazed.

Natural beauty at dawn on a winter day...

I do not think that I ever fully appreciated the humbling effect of Mother Nature until I moved to Nebraska.  Quite simply, Mother Nature rules my life.  She dictates what I do every day, and I have had to learn to adapt to her because she most certainly is not going to adapt to me.  I used to get very upset when the weather turned brutal.  Today, I accept that I cannot change the weather.  Instead of wasting my energy wishing that the weather wasn’t beastly, I channel that energy into setting myself and my animals up for success so that we can effectively deal with Mother Nature’s varied challenges.

Breakfast arrives!

We deliver a special feed ration (blend of feed ingredients) to our animals when the weather is nasty, and my guys and I put on layers and layers of warm clothes as we go out to offer the necessary daily care to our bovines.  The most important things for my cattle are fresh feed and water, so that is our top priority.  Quite honestly, my cattle are significantly more comfortable with winter weather than I am.  Cattle are actually very cold tolerant animals and rarely get chilled unless a cold wet rain dampens their coats prior to the temperature dropping.  Cattle in Nebraska are genetically wired to tolerate the cold and put on very heavy hair coats this time of year.

These native Nebraska cattle do well in cold temperatures...

As we approach the celebration of Christmas, my children all start to wish for snow.  I don’t.  My kids will tell you that “Mama prays for a nice, pretty, brown Christmas.”  It isn’t that I do not love Christmas, it is my favorite holiday.  I simply do not want to share the holiday with a weather challenge so I wish for a brown Christmas instead of a white one.  When you care for cattle, snow is synonymous with additional work.  I will be traveling with family this year at Christmas so I am especially hopeful that Mother Nature will behave herself.  I hope that my guys can celebrate a nice Christmas with their families with the only disruption of the holiday being the normal delivery of feed.

Raw Beauty...

In the meantime, I will continue to both respect and appreciate the raw power and beauty of winter time in Nebraska.  I am, after all, the humble inhabitant.

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Filed under Foodie Work!, General