A WINNING Farmer Friday

Before I get to a farm update (need one of those!), I need to announce the winners of the two “Levi’s Lost Calf” books by Amanda Radke, illustrated by Michelle Weber. And drum roll please…

Congratulations to…

Renae G. and Robyn!!! Woohoo!

You will both receive a copy of Amanda’s book, complete with autograph from the wonderful author…lucky ducks! Thank you to all who entered!

And now, a farm update:

Last night, as we were finally rolling home for a bit, Boss Man suddenly looked at the south-bound lane of Hwy. 281 and said, “Hey, there goes my hay!” (Yeah, he’s poetic like that.)

The story goes something like this…a friend of Mark’s in LaMoure had a contact in Oklahoma that was in need of hay. As you’ve read in the news (or perhaps even experienced first hand), some areas in the south are going through catastrophic droughts right now. And this particular ranch was also hit.

In our area, the reverse has been true. Continuous badly-timed rains has made haying season difficult. Hay that is continuously rained on has a lower feed value (less nutrition to it) than hay that is put up with the right amount of wind, sun and magic pixie dust. (Just kidding on the pixie thing, no pixie’s are harmed in the production of our hay crop…at least, not that I know of.) Our hay this year is not of the quality that we usually strive for, but we have no control over that.

But good hay (instead of great hay), is better than no hay at all. And livestock need something to eat. Even if you live in Oklahoma and have to truck it from North Dakota.

You see, cattlemen are a lot like parents. It’s inconvenient and costly to travel that far for feed, just the same as its inconvenient and costly to drive a couple hours each day for medical care. But we both do it without batting an eye. It’s our responsibility and we will do what needs to be done, at whatever cost to ensure the health and well-being of those that we care for…even if they’re bovine.

Thankful Thursday: Nurses

Today I have a special message of thankfulness to give, and this one is to our nurses.

With our frequent flier miles at the hospital, we get a chance to meet and test out most of the nurses here on the pediatric ward. I know a majority of them…mostly by first name.

But today, this blog post is about them. I am thankful for them everyday…especially this week.

I am thankful for:

  • Not making me feel like a bad mother for wanting to not be in the room when medicine is given. When a little kid’s throat is sore, taking medicine is a form of medieval torture, no matter how necessary it is. I can be the bad guy when I have to be, but appreciate the breaks occasionally.
  • Talking to me like a mother, not a child or a doctor. When the doctor says, “We’ll talk about going home once he starts drinking.” And the nurse letting me know that with 2-year-olds, we could be here a bit.
  • Letting me know what’s normal. The above mentioned issue of not drinking? Guess what? Completely normal.
  • Taking care of one of my most prized possessions. That includes: reading his history, understanding my concerns prior to coming in the room and going above and beyond to do what is right for George.

No matter how you look at it, all of the nurses here are pretty much amazing. And one day, when George is big and strong and a no longer eligible for the pediatric ward, I hope to come back and personally thank each one of you, for your crucial part in our journey.

But for now, a simple “Thank you” will have to do.

What gets George through a hospital stay? His puppy, his blankie and his tractor magazines!


Wordless Wednesday – Siding project

Quick hospital update: George’s surgery went smoothly. Tonsils and adenoids were definitely a problem. But so was waking up. Things didn’t go as smoothly as planned, with one seizure-like episode, but nurses were SUPERB and right on top of things. The evening went better, and we’ll see where the day takes us.

The doctor is extremely helpful, and is in no hurry for George to leave. He said it’s most important that he’s taking fluids and that I feel comfortable with him at home. I love it when doctors get that!

Anyway…on to my Wordless Wednesday, cool pics of our siding project!

Saturday's project step: front porch.


The rain on Sunday delayed us...once the window was out. Not exactly ideal.


Notice the finished front porch? And the window is in!

We were three sheets of siding short of finishing before George’s surgery and my parents’ quick vacation to Wisconsin. We’ll finish next week…just in time for more pics and a post! 🙂

How NOT to spend a birthday

As I mentioned yesterday, George spent the night in the hospital. Now, with his OTC, that’s not that unusual, but his method of gaining a bed was a tad unorthodox, to say the least.

You see, Tuesday was my birthday, and as I pointed out earlier, it always rains on my birthday. Well, that tradition is safe for another year, because yet again, it rained on Tuesday. And since rain makes everyone sleepy, I didn’t think much of George wanted to climb in my lap a little before 11 and falling asleep. I had second thoughts when he woke up shortly after lunch, screaming bloody murder.

As I tried to settle him down, I realized he was feeling warm. So I took his temp, and low and behold, it was 103.2. I know we need to be careful, so I did a tylenol suppository (he’s at the age that he refuses to take medicine, as in spitting it back in my face).  A little bit later, his temp was down to 101.5, but he was very lethargic and not acting quite right, so I called the pediatrician. Although his office is an hour drive from here, they said they would see us as soon as we could get there, so I got everyone ready and headed out.

I suspected we were dealing with an ear infection, or something along those lines, so I didn’t think much of it. I figured we would be back home shortly after the boys got home from school, so I made sure Boss Man didn’t plan to leave the yard. I dropped EJ off at Grandma’s house and we were off to the clinic.

We got to the clinic, the nurse weighed George and took his temp (101.4) and we sat down in one of those cozy little rooms. And then it hit.

George had another full-blown seizure. Thanks be to God that it was in the clinic, and not while I was driving down! The nurse called the doctor in immediately, the place was buzzing with action, we had suction, oxygen and plenty of support staff. It was terrifying and a relief at the same time. Terrifying because it was my son, and he was in trouble, relieving because it was at the clinic, and the doctor knew what to do.

It was seven minutes from when things started until things were “OK” again. We were admitted to the hospital for observation, mainly because George is a “special case” when it comes to these things.

You see, febrile seizures (seizures caused by a fever), are common. Very common. As common as they are, they are still scarier than all get-out. But high ammonia levels can also cause seizures. And illness can cause high ammonia levels with OTC. So which is the culprit, the ammonia or the fever? Chicken or the egg?

So we got a cool wheel-chair ride in an underground tunnel from the clinic to the hospital, had a room full of nurses starting IV’s, trying to draw blood and making sure that everything was taken care of. And then we spent the rest of my birthday, and half of his, waiting, and waiting and waiting.

He did not have any other seizures. His temperature only went up once during the night. And by morning he was well on his way to back to normal.

So what was the cause? No clue, really. His ears were clear, his lungs were clear, so the doctor went with the stand-by of “viral illness.” All that matters to me is that we are back home.

And the next time he starts to run a temp, we’ll be on high alert. I won’t necessarily have to take him in, as long as I feel comfortable and nothing to extraordinary happens. But we’ll see. I’m not sure I want to trust my judgment on what may be wrong…especially if a seizure is involved. It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with this territory, we’ve been down it before with Big Bro, but this is a whole new level.

I will say, though, George knows how to kick off a new year. I may be in big trouble if this is just the warm-up to the Terrible Two’s.

Good Friday trumps Earth Day

I was all prepared to write a post today about all the things we do on the farm that celebrates the Earth, such as using our manure, using no-till whenever possible, using the water from our well to heat our home…then heat our shop…then to water our cows, etc. (That’s right, all the same water, I’ll explain it sometime.)

But as I was sitting down to type last night, I decided to check out George’s lab work that was done at Mayo. (They have a really cool set-up, where you can register to log-in and receive the lab results yourself. No more waiting for that stinkin’ doctor’s call!) Anyway, I logged-in and for the first time ever, and I truly mean EVER, all of George’s lab work came back within normal ranges! (Well, minus the Vit. D and iron levels, but those are diet/sunshine related, not illness/disorder, so they don’t really count.)

I’ll admit it, I cried a bit. For the last just-about 2 years, I’ve dealt with continuously feeling like something wasn’t right, that we weren’t on the right track, bloodwork continuously showed something off here or there, nothing fit together, etc. It was a whirlpool of nightmares. Since George was born, he has seen: three pediatricians, two pediatric geneticists, two pediatric gastroenterologists, pediatric cardiologist, two pediatric endocrinologists, two pediatric neurologists, two dieticians, pediatric oncologist, pediatric neurosurgeon and several other various ER docs, nurses and staff. He has had: two colonoscopies, an upper GI series, multiple x-rays and ultrasounds, a liver biopsy, three MRI’s, an echocardiogram and two CT scans. He has given more blood for bloodwork that some people donate to the blood bank. He’ll be 2, and he’s been through so much, but is still such a wonderful little boy.

One of the things that I hear the most, when people hear about George, is that he doesn’t LOOK like anything is wrong with him. That’s always the problem. I wonder how many of those doctors blew us off because they felt he didn’t “look” sick enough. I know for sure one did, I overheard him tell the students that were following him those exact words. It went something like this, “And in this room is a 6-month-old male patient, case seems somewhat unremarkable. Mother has sought care at Mayo. Came in with fever, slight dehydration, etc. There’s no clear diagnosis, and I’m not real sure why they’re here. Their local hospital probably overreacted. We’ll keep him through tomorrow to satisfy the Mother.” (Needless to say, I requested a discharge immediately and we never returned to that set of physicians.)

We have so much to be thankful for.

This morning, Big Bro told me that they didn’t have school today because it was Earth Day. That sealed the deal for me. I’m not writing about our farm today. I’m not writing about how to recycle, or how to reduce your carbon footprint, or how to reuse your milk carton to make a mailbox. We should all know these things, and we should all be doing them. Every day. Period.

But today is Good Friday first. It’s a day that we celebrate all that has been given for us. The Blessing that was bestowed upon us so many years ago. And for me, today is a day of thankfulness.

Yes, I won’t be brushing my teeth with the water on, I’ll turn off lights where I don’t need them, our bulbs are already energy efficient. Those are things we do everyday. But today, I’ll spend extra time thanking God for those gifts that He has given. Including the ultimate sacrifice of His only Son.

Today is definitely a Good Friday.

Safe at home

We made it home last night. It was a relief to finally pull in, see the lights of home, hear the cows mooing to their calves, see our lab sitting at the front gate and to hear George raising a ruckus, because he knew where we were…home.

Our last appointment went about as well as our first. She did order another test to check his ferritin level, since I told her that he was waking up during the night a lot. (Apparently it’s a measure of iron, and a lack of it can cause your legs to feel restless.) Normal levels are between 25 and 336. George’s were 11. So we start a multivitamin to combat the low Vit. D and the low iron.

I asked about getting a prescription for a trip to Florida for a week or two. Dr. L said that the sun would work, but Boss Man piped up that the vitamins were cheaper. He’s no fun.

When I sat at my desk last night, I was going to write up a new blog post, but then I read a few of my friends’ posts and decided to wait until today.

Apparently a group, called Mercy for Animals, released hidden video footage of animals being abused on a dairy farm in Texas. Again, this group is attempting to undermine all of animal agriculture, because of one sick, twisted situation.

Here’s my take on the situation: If you are on a farm, and someone is abusing an animal, they should be IMMEDIATELY reported to the proper authorities. If they are a hired hand, they should be fired and turned in. If they are the owner, they should be turned in. Simple as that. The animal deserves better. Yes, I raise animals that I know are being consumed by someone. I know that our cows will someday be processed into something that will feed others. But we treat our cattle with respect.

There is no excuse for the action taken by the perpetrators in the video. That’s not what raising cattle is about. I don’t know of one single cattle producer that would condone such behavior…and it’s definitely the exception, not the norm.

We just spent three days away from our farm. We were on a medical trip with our youngest child. Although our focus was definitely on George’s appointments, part of Mark’s mind was back here. He was constantly on the phone, making sure that there weren’t any problems, the cattle were being fed, none had become ill, the mud wasn’t becoming unmanageable, planning for what to do when we got home, etc. It was non-stop. He spent hours upon hours before our trip, preparing the lots, so that things were easier when we were gone. Making sure that there was enough feed ready to go. Moving panels so that the mud was a little easier to manage, for both the tractor AND the cattle. That’s just what ranchers do. That’s what ANY animal caregiver would do.

I didn’t watch the latest abuse video. I don’t need to. Hearing about it is enough. It disgusts me. It angers me. And it frustrates me when groups try to tell the rest of the world that those types of actions are normal in our industry. It’s not. No way. No how. And if you don’t believe me, come to my farm and I’ll show you.

And I know of many others who would do the same.

Day 2 – More good news

I had to make a quick, mid-appointment update to bring some really great news…George no longer needs to have growth-hormone shots!

Now, this may only be temporary, we will have to come back in 4 months and double-check on things, but I’m certain that things will continue to go on the right track. Sadly, our visits with Dr. Lteif (endocrinologist), may become fewer and farther between…but that’s only sad because she’s such an excellent physician, and thinks pretty highly of our little man.

Up next, we see the neurologist, who will become the lead doctor in George’s care. Dr. Renaud is a pretty great doctor, too.

So, as long as everything goes as planned, we’ll be on the road heading north shortly after lunch. And for once, I’m leaving Mayo feeling as if we’ve finally turned a corner, not just headed further into the abyss. What a great feeling that is! (And for those new to my blog, George is suspected to have Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency, a disorder that doesn’t allow him to break down protein…which means he won’t be enjoying full servings of meat, dairy, etc., for most of his life.)

Yesterday, when they drew his blood, I saw on the paperwork that his tests were heading to Baylor for the genetic testing. George hasn’t travelled much in his almost-2 years, but his blood certainly has!

Ag Book of the Day 13:

“What Do I Make? (Let’s Find Out!)” by Dale Simpson. A great board book, with turning wheel, where you can match up the animal with their gift to us! Great for the little guys! Include milk from cows, honey from bees, clothes from sheep, etc. And with the cute cow-shape of the book, and great illustrations, it keeps the little ones interested in the book!