May 21, 2011

 "Yes, Honey, we know...

Strima, our cat who has been gone for about 8 weeks and just arrived home
VERY pregnant. 
She felt the need to flop down
 in the middle of the main aisle of the barn at milking time. 
...we all get tired at the end."

May 19, 2011

"Mother's Day"
(Stepmother's Violet)
 Provincial flower of Angermanland, Sweden

"Last-last Sunday" (as they say in Sweden) was Mother's Day in the U.S. 
In Sweden it happens on the last Sunday in May,
just a week or so from now.

This year I have had some quiet time during my barn duties to reflect on my feelings about motherhood in a way that I have seldom done in the past.
Those reflective moments have given me some increasingly clear insights.
Here are seven of them:

1.   I have loved the role of motherhood from my earliest childhood memories. 
      I always wanted to be a mother first and foremost.

2.  For me no other calling can compare in importance to that   
     of a mother.
It has bound me to Heavenly Father in a very singular way
 that  has influenced all aspects of my life.

3.  Being a mother has meant loving my children during their best and worst times of life,
 no matter how they behave towards me or others.

4.  Motherhood will always require absolute truth. 
Even if it means it will be hard to hear and the relationship will be strained,
 the truth is always the only way.

5.  Mothering will never be a popularity contest. 
 It is not possible to be one WITH the kids if you are one OF the kids.

6.  Inviting a child to the earth brings with it eternal responsibilities
 that must be carried out.
No exceptions.

7.  When you give your heart to mothering,
 you give your heart to all humanity.

The Stepmother's Violet (Styvmorsviol) is one of the first blooms to appear on our farm after the long, hard winter each year. 
It holds a special significance for me at this time in my life.

When I first came to Sweden a man in our village pointed it out and explained it's meaning. 
He said:

"This beautiful flower, seen upside-down,
 means that a stepmother sits on two chairs
 and holds all her children in her heart and in her arms -
the ones she bore in love and the ones she chose in love -
they are the same."

I bore six children in love and from those children I also received four sons-in-law and one daughter-in-law.
When I married Hans I chose eleven children in love and also received their marriage partners.

I hold them all in my heart and in my arms,
 and I love them all.

 They are the same.

We hope you had/will have
 a wonderful
Mother's Day.

May 11, 2011

"Monson and Lopp, Esq."

Doesn't this title sound like a:

High quality
Firm? many ways it is.

Pictured here on the left is Elder Monson from Alpine, Utah and on the right is Elder Lopp from Orem, Utah.
Without question, these two young missionaries are 

Usually dressed in dark suits, white shirts and conservative ties,  sporting the traditional name tags of  missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, these GENTLEMEN arrived at our farm after a full day of missionary labors, and as you can see above, traded in their day clothes for some well-worn navy blue Blåkläder Swedish farm coveralls, and hopped to it with the mucking out in the main barn.

Their next assignment was TAILOR-MADE for those who are as willing and anxious to serve as they were that cold Spring evening.

 After a short tutorial from Gustav on the joys and effective techniques of calf-feeding,

they started right in.

And were they good at it?

Look at them!
Monson is feeding two ravenous baby calves simultaneously in two different pens,
and Lopp, not one whit behind him, is switching out the feeding nipples according to the age and abilities of the younger calves,
like a Pro!


Their faith is FIRM  in the Master
 they follow and serve.

After feeding them a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, salad, garlic bread and a take-home bag (so they could be home on time) of two containers of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, we sent them on their way to drive the hour and a half back to their apartment in Örnsköldsvik.

We love these good young men. 
They were an answer to our prayers when we needed some very real


May 8, 2011

"B-r-r-r-r" said the Robin,
(upsize pictures to see whirling snowflakes..)

May 5, 2011
Vävstuga, pumphouse, stable, garden.

"I thought it was Spring.
It's March  MAY and I know
I am ready to sing.
My beak doesn't move,
my feet hardly move,

May 5, 2011
Källarboden, lillstuga.

if  THIS month is Spring,


(Welcome to "Spring" on the farm in northern Sweden...
hot chocolate anyone?)

May 7, 2011

"Finish Strong" 
Look up in the top window - yes, he is in fact smiling.

We were scheduled to say good-bye to Corvin at the end of the month.
He and several of his friends were putting together a presentation for the  upcoming Human Rights Convention in Switzerland and needed time to prepare.
But an unexpected call from his father in Hanover, Germany telling him that his grandparents and brother were going to be able to come for Easter, made it necessary (and desirable) for him to leave in time to be there with all his family for the holiday.
He hurried to finish up the last few projects that we had planned, one of which was emptying the top floor of the old threshing barn.
It took an entire day and he pronounced the number of nails he had extracted in the process as

But there was one project waiting for him during his last night on the farm that none of us could have ever anticipated.
Remember in the last post where I said that the calving experience also involves inspiration?
Here's the proof:

I had gone in one day to load the furnace in the pannrum near the young animal barn. 
 As I stood there I had the feeling that I should go through the adjacent carpentry and look in the window of the young animal barn where we had two young heifers tied up in a stall.
They were not ready to have their babies yet (we thought) so they were double-stalled in there.
When I did, to my complete shock, one of them was in labor and struggling.
I was home alone.
I had a swift word of prayer, got my barn boots and ran into the barn where I quickly loosed the other heifer (the one who wasn't in labor) and got her moved out of that stall and into the one next door.
Then I scraped down the birthing stall and filled it with soft, clean straw.
Finally, I loosed the struggling heifer so she could lie down, and in answer to my prayers, almost immedidately, both Gustav and Corvin came home.
I was mighty glad to see them,
(and so was the laboring heifer.)

This was the first baby for this heifer and it was turned the wrong way.  Instead of the front hooves coming first, the back hooves were already partially delivered. It took brute strength on the part of both Gustav and Corvin to try and pull the baby out each time they saw the mother push. They had to be incredibly careful not to injure the mother in the process and that meant they had to also be incredibly patient.  This was a longgggg, slowwwww, process.

After several hours of this we didn't think there was any chance that the baby could possibly survive.  Our primary aim was to help the mother as much as we could.
But when it finally came out of the exhausted mother, to our complete amazement,
it was alive!
The boys carried it right over to the mother who lifted her head, sniffed around a little and began to clean it all up.
Such a miracle!
Both Corvin and Gustav took a tender moment and petted up the new mother for the great job she had done.

It had been quite an experience for everyone.
We went to bed that night dead tired and with very mixed feelings.
We knew we had done all we could and that the baby was living and the mother was taking care of it the way she should.
But we wondered if it would be OK in the end result.
Such a trauma makes it very difficult for the newborn calf and there is so much that can happen no matter how gentle and careful we try to be.

We needn't have worried...
When we got to the barn just a few hours later the next morning, we found this spunky little character cleaned up and prancing all over the stall,
and she was a girl!

After a night like that, with all that had gone on, we really had to rush in the morning to make the early bus on time for Corvin to get the connection in Sollefteå that would take him on his way home to Germany.
There wasn't the time we thought we would have to tell him that we had loved having him so much that we hated to say good-bye.
But we hoped he knew it. 
I am told that this post would not be complete without one more addition:

During Corvin's stay with us there was a fair amount of goofing around between him and Gustav.
This is a picture of Gustav pinning Corvin down in the freezing snow and rubbing it all over his face outside the barn.
At the beginning I worried about incidents like this, knowing that Gustav has a lot of physical strength from his years on the farm and wondering if it was unfair to someone who hasn't had the same developmental opportunities.

Rest assured that I have come to understand that there is more than a little Karma at work here in situations like these.

A. Gustav smashed Corvin into the snow and washed his face with it,
(end of subject).
B. Corvin, with his wealth of technical knowledge of every gadget, phone, computer, ipod, etc:

Changed the language on Gustav's mobile phone so he couldn't use it,
(I'm sure they heard the wailing from Gustav all the way to Junsele)
Muted Gustav's ipod with a code so that when he got on the school bus in the morning for the hour-long ride, he couldn't hear anything,
(THAT was a golden moment)
Waited until one of Gustav's building days at school and set the volume control on his MP3 to medium and coded it again so that when the loud woodshop machines were going at school Gustav couldn't hear any of his music,
(...getting the picture?...)
 I didn't have to be concerned about Corvin's ability to keep up with the pranks.

Auf Wiedersehen Corvin,
Vi älskar dig!