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pair of womens boots in front of creek with woods in the background on vanhoveln farm iowa

Farm Note 13: A Chill in the Air

October blew in this week with a handful of tornado watches, daily downpours, and a cold front that brought temps down to freezing at night! We’re taking all the necessary measures to keep animals warm while they grow their down feathers and winter coats, but I can’t help but worry about them at night.

creek view on iowa farm on beautiful fall day

One day last week, the temperatures dropped into the mid-30s and weren’t much above that when we took the goats out to pasture around 8:00am. Poor Oreo was a shivering, shaking little ball of fluff. Olivia snuggled her under her jacket for a few minutes and we fed her some sunflower seeds. The fat in them is supposed to boost metabolism and help them put on a needed layer of fat. Thankfully, she was fine within a few minutes, but the prospect of losing her to hypothermia was terrifying.

white baby goat on stack of wood in front of red chicken coop iowa farm

I’ve since double the rations of sunflower seeds in the goats’ feed and made sure their hay feeder is full every night. As long as they have enough calories, they should produce enough body heat to stay warm and toasty. But, it’s a bit of trial-and-error right now, making sure they have enough without letting them gorge themselves on seeds and grain.

Oreo and S’more are filling out well. Their bellies are nice and round and their fur feels thick and soft. Their personalities are incredibly different, but they’re both sweet and loving in their own way. Oreo will come to sniff me down for treats and will let me hold her if S’more and Coco are out of sight. S’more is much more outgoing, approaching any of us without hesitation, letting us give him a good rubdown, especially behind the ears, and snuggling his chin down on your shoulder for a hug if you pick him up. His sweetness is amazing.

goats and chickens on top of little goat house on farm in cedar rapids iowa

The chickens have grown up so much in the last few weeks! As a whole, their personalities have changed to be more trusting and tame, though certain individuals (ahem….Peepers) tend to run off any chance they get. On days that we’re home, we let them forage, but they’ve learned that 5:00 is quitting time! I take the bucket of food scraps with me when it’s time for them to go home, and they come running as soon as they see me with bucket in hand. They’ll come charging at me, clucking and fussing and jumping to see what I have to offer. When I get to their door, I dump the scraps inside the run, and they hustle inside to be the first to check out the goodies.

Check my insta for some hilarious videos of them running full speed to see what I have to offer.

Of course, none of them come every time. Undoubtedly, someone has wandered off or made a dust bath she doesn’t want to leave. Typically, a couple calls of “here, chick, chick!” and the wayward one gets it together and gets her fluffy butt in the pen with her flock-mates. It’s really quite amazing!

Now, if only we could get some eggs from these slackers!

This week’s garden news is pretty much nada. Instead of working on my garden here, we traveled back to Illinois last weekend so that I could lead fall cleanup for the community garden at Luke 3:11 Share Center. The turnout was disappointingly low. It was eye-opening for me to see how the sense of community and the communication channels I put into place are faltering. I’ve been managing that garden from 250 miles away for two years now, and my visit gave me the incentive I needed to finally end my tenure there and hand the reins to someone who can love and nurture it better than I.

Truthfully, I’m still wrestling with my decision. I’m a people-pleaser and I don’t want to let down the directors or the volunteers by quitting. However, I’m learning to trust that God has a plan for that place that’s beyond the dreams of any of us. Someday, I’ll write about the incredible ways God has provided for the Share Center, but for now, I’m praying for peace about my decision to move on. If you could, I would appreciate prayers that they quickly find a new, dedicated director of sustainability to take my place.

Whew! That got real intense (for me, anyway)! Anyway…

Thanks for reading today. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Insta for all the behind-the-scenes fun, and if you’re in the Cedar-Rapids #CRandIC area, stop on in. Bring a baggie of sunflower seeds, and you’ll make friends for life!

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