A New Year—Counting My Blessings

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I honestly didn’t realize it has been a month since I posted here. Going through the ‘stages’ that one goes through when they lose a loved one I have learned that there is no set way, right way or easy way to grieve. That is just my opinion…having grief, loss and loneliness dominate the last 4 months for me here at Bejosh.

Four months…the same length of time my Farmer fought the cancer after learning that it had filled his brain (quite literally). Not enough time.

I remember the day he went outside for the last time…a tough day for all as the cancer was wreaking havoc with my Farmer. As family and friends had stopped by Ed was working so hard to be positive and upbeat…but we all knew better.

Jordan marched back into the house after a visit with Grampy and announced that he was going to take him outside…no ‘ifs, ands or buts…. and got the wheelchair ready.

The excitement was empowering…they brought out the Brown Swiss for him to pet and talk to…took him around to the free stall to see his ladies. There were tears as big as saucers pouring down his cheeks…smiles as big as all outdoors…and a hug and ‘love you’ for Jordan. It made a difference to all who witnessed this last outdoor adventure.

That evening we talked for a long time…nothing in particular until he said that he knew his goodbyes to his animals was inevitable. One thing led to another…we held hands and he talked about how he wished he had a better legacy to leave all of us.

This has been on my mind the last few weeks…he wanted to do something that people would remember him for…

I heard a song the other day that said ‘some men stand for something and some men fall’. My Farmer stood for hard work…a mainstay in ignorance…and love of family.  His legacy is alive and well…it lives on at Bejosh and in all of us who love him for who he was and for what he stands for.

We will succeed…we will fail at times. Nothing and no one can be right all the time…but we will learn from at least trying.

I know…I know….I got off track here. My heart cries for my Farmer and his ability to make things right again…just give it some time he would tell me. That is what I will do.

He was and is my greatest blessing….his strong will and soft heart…his directness and giggle that would make the devil himself do the same.

I put these few photos together in his honor…a four month fight comes to an end but his legacy goes on!

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Top row…My Farmer and Me…Jordan’s mission is a bittersweet success.
Middle row…Son Jess conducts the funeral service…my Farmer’s last ride… and the bearers do their job
Bottom row…following the casket to the cemetery…family members say their goodbyes.
*** I thought perhaps our followers would like to see how loved and respected he was. The people who followed the horse and wagon was unbelievable…then to see the cars of those who chose to drive parked at the site  is a testament to the man.

So you see he must have left a mark…just look at the photos.

Moving forward into the new year I count my Farmer as my #1 blessing…I will do my best to honor his memory … I count my other blessings every day — 4 children—10 grandchildren– and we cannot forget the ladies in the barn—all a part of Ed Gulley’s Legacy !

***I apologize if this post seems to be all over the place…I still cry at the drop of a hat and tonite I feel especially emotional. I do promise to keep the blog going. It won’t be the same as before…I am doing this on my own and my insights aren’t as refined (ha ha) as when we did this together.

HAPPY 2019 TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU…I can’t do it without you…you are each a blessing in your own way to me. XO XO!!!

My Update…Bejosh Goes On…

 

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My first evening back in the milking parlor was a bit overwhelming to say the least. I haven’t milked since the day of my Farmer’s cancer diagnosis, nearly 7 months ago.

A lot of time spent away from anything will cause reflection upon returning…for me milking meant time spent with Ed in the parlor…he milked his side and I milked mine. Of course his Swiss girls seemed to gravitate to his side and that first milking back for me wasn’t any different.

Just being in the parlor was a plus for me…back in the saddle if you will…But this time my Farmer wasn’t there. But I did and continue to have my grandson Jaiboy as my partner. He took to milking like a duck to water.

Patience and the love of the animals was definitely passed down 2 generations to that boy. He is a natural. My heart swells. Instead of a difficult time I had a marvelous time, much to my surprise.

I didn’t take photos of the first time back, but I did snap this one above afterwards. Jai was coaxing a new Swiss (Mini-Augusta) to try some grain.A fine example of his love for the babies…

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I have taken some other pictures since that first time back. These are two of the cow’s morning rituals…get up and do your business before heading into the holding area.

One other thing I have noticed is that Willie has welcomed me back by greeting me outside the parlor as he waits for his morning treat of bread. As you can see, we had gotten our first snow the night before.

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On my way back into the house one evening the solar lights in the perennial garden had just lit up and it cast such a pretty shadow in the snow I couldn’t resist.

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Lastly, I feel compelled to tell my followers why I am back into the farming life…yes I have regrets for various things but we are all adults here…we all have our flaws in one way or another and I feel that I gave all involved an opportunity to work things out…give and take as my Farmer would say.

The last two months have been hard with a lot of changes here…for various reasons, one being that it is next to impossible to run a farm when you have to work a full-time job to pay the family bills, Chad and Kate decided to move their animals back home and give up milking here.

I was as shattered as they were with the decision…it has been a life’s dream for Chad to milk cows for himself. However, there was more to do here than milk cows and care for them.

Many things also lead to their decision not to accept help from other family members…mainly doing it for the farm and putting other issues to bed was not a possibility so it seemed. Our entire family was to blame in one way or another but I realized that things were not going to change and decided to accept it and move on.

Jeremy and his family along with Maggie and her’s has stepped up as much as possible.. first off was winterizing  the calf barn, finishing the hay mow floor and spreading manure from summer cow lots. Jeremy feeds the cows for me ( I don’t get along with skiddie!)…he also takes charge of anything he can when time allows.

Maggie clipped udders while I milked one morning and comes to help when she can also. All the animals have come to the main farm from across the road and new areas for them were made.

So far we have had 2 calves…Swiss heifer and Swiss bull…both doing well. Trying to take advantage of what we have available here and not have to add an expense at this point.

I am feeling okay with this decision for now…my body is pretty much over the initial muscle lameness, but my knees and hips are chronic complainers. I don’t foresee them getting any better but it is tolerable.


December 1st, today,  is another milestone for me without my Farmer…All those many years ago we promised to love and honor each other in sickness and in health ’til death do us part…Sadly enough my Farmer kept his vows  and I am a better person for having him in my life. What is it they say? It is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all…

It speaks volumes to me, but I am still working on accepting it…Happy Anniversary Farmer…I LOVE YOU.

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Please Help Luke Reach His Goal

 

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II know I haven’t been posting much lately but my grandson Jai brought this to my attention and I thought of all our blog followers…

You see, Luke is the young man that reached out to my Farmer in April right after his cancer diagnosis…Luke was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was a toddler (it is inoperable) and was one of Ed’s inspirations throughout his fight with brain cancer as well.

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I am hoping some of our followers will write a letter to Santa and send it to the address above ASAP. I am not sure exactly when the letters will travel with Luke to Macy’s but I am sure it will probably be by the middle of next week.

This young man was granted his wish to go to Disney World a few years ago through the Make a Wish Foundation and since then has been an ambassador for the Believe Campaign and literally puts his heart and soul into it.

Please help him get to his goal of 50,000 letters from all 50 states. It is a labor of love for this guy to deliver his stash of letters to Macy’s and he makes our local community so proud…that same community puts their pen to paper and sends thousands of letters to Luke.

So if you have a moment please send a letter to Santa to the address above and make his goal a reality.

He helped Ed so much with his courageous nature and most importantly by telling him  not to be afraid…stay strong….and we all know that my Farmer did his best with the cards he was dealt…he felt that if Luke can be positive then he should be too. Luke is an AMAZING, kindhearted and loving boy who makes us all proud to be his friend.

Thank you in advance and I promise to post a Bejosh update in the next couple of days…lots of changes but still milking the girls…playing catch-up with winterizing and unfinished maintenance. A girl has to do what a girl has to do, unfortunately!!! All good!

Birthday Wishes

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Another milestone for us…no Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on the table or new clothes (camo of course) for my Farmer…Just a brokenhearted happy birthday wish from Bejosh for our Farmer, Dad, Grampy.

He told me when his father passed at 66 and his sister followed suit that his goal was to reach the double 6’s….I think that was also when he started his bucket list.

I have received so many nice notes from people that are thinking of us today that my heart feels swollen with the love of friends and family. However, the void is still there and will be always,

What a waste of a hardworking, fun loving, strong minded, open -hearted, hug giving, community supporter, animal lover and most of all a man who wanted to make a difference.

I am missing him so much today…I still know his bucket list and the things he wanted to see carried on…above all, LIFE AND LIVING.

I have the image of some of his last conversations with the kids and grandkids burning in my memory. He had so much more to give and his wishes for them all were so vivid in his mind.

I can’t write anymore at the moment…only to say Happy Birthday to the love of my life…he could be gruff and steadfast in his beliefs…he was always there for all of us no matter what.

I see you everywhere…talk to you all the time. I miss you so much but you give me signs and guidance…I guess I can’t ask for more…

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Starting again…

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I know it has been a while since I have posted; things have changed here that have left me feeling a number of emotions that I don’t want to deal with along with making some decisions moving forward that need to be made.

My son and his family are no longer doing the milking; I find it a relief for them in a way. It means less travel time and more time tending to their own animals…I know from the disappointment of giving up this part of their dream to milk cows that it has to be one of those things that will weigh on their minds and hearts for a long time.

I try to look at it as being a learning experience…being responsible for a working dairy farm and having to maintain a full time job for monetary reasons just isn’t possible…

The impact of low milk prices and the price of beef and dairy animals sent to market is making all of us feel a bit like a failure. My Farmer would always come up with some solution to a financial problem…he would struggle with it for some time and then just say let’s do this or that and see what happens…

The situation I find myself in now, milking and taking care of calves again, has been leaving me very tired and sore ( a summer of not doing much manual labor has made me soft…) I am lame and overwhelmed.

Jeremy and his family has been feeding all the larger heifers and cows, as I do not feel safe in the skiddie…but this takes time away from his beef operation among other things. Today he is helping make new areas for dry cows and heifers…hoping to have everything right here at the ‘farm’ and not off across the road…which will make feeding a bit easier and also we will have a better way of keeping track of the closeups as well as those due a couple of weeks out.

I cannot and will not give my animals away…but won’t begin to get what they are worth. I thought of selling just the milk cows and holding on to heifers and calves to have a start up herd in a year or two…but when you hear of a hereford beef cow weighing 1300+lbs. bringing less than 35 cents / pound all thoughts of selling goes out the window.

Hindsight is 20/20…but too little too late. We all should have gotten involved and MADE it work…thrown our personal feelings and pride out the window…

Now it seems like I am starting over again…I am glad to have the babies here again and watch them grow. I milk both ends of the day at least for now. Jai is enjoying helping me in the parlor…he is very calm and quiet around the cows which is a must unless you want to get kicked or pushed.

So for now at least, I am back into it. Not as a Farmer’s wife…I have been forced up the ladder of ‘farm-dom’ …and now have become the Farmer. I watch for crows all the time…I come into the house to see the butterflies in one form or another just to get my Farmer fix.

I had a fantastic teacher of 45+ years but it is not the same…for a while I got to enjoy life without the commitment of daily milking and chores…now the ‘kids’ come to me as they did the Farmer…only this time the voice of experience is quiet.

When they ask what I want to do about such and such I know they want my opinion but I base it on what I think Ed would say.

As for me, for now…all I can say is that it is a tough job and I’ve been left to do it…there has to be a solution and with the help of some others I will try.  My body has grown older over these passed six months or so for a number of reasons; as soon as I can get over this lameness I will be on my game again…I will make my Farmer proud…perhaps by continuing to farm or maybe by deciding not to any longer. Either way he will know I am doing my best…besides, I have to answer to him one day!

Lighting a Candle and Remembering…

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Last evening Maggie, Cooper and I attended a Celebration of Life with other families who were blessed to have Hospice be a part of their care giving plan for a loved one.

There was music and a brief message by one of the counselors along with different family members standing up and giving a brief talk about their loss and how it has affected them.

I actually surprised myself by getting up in front of these grieving families and speaking about my Farmer’s journey…his decision for no treatments, our time away, his family…but most of all the fact that he was the bravest in showing all of us that he was accepting of his condition and the eventual outcome.

My daughter Maggie is having a terrible time dealing with her loss…she told me that she doesn’t / can’t face the fact that he is gone…going on without her Dad is very difficult for her.

We both decided to go to a family counseling meeting through the Hospice organization…I am hoping that by going together we can help each other. I have attended bereavement meetings for spouses but I think the family setting would work better for her at this point.

Lighting a candle in my Farmer’s memory was an honor…I so respect him for being the fighter he was but also for being so in tune with doing it with dignity and grace…teaching us all that death can be as beautiful as living in many ways. He always said it was the last thing he was going to do so he wasn’t worried about it.

He wasn’t…he worried for the rest of us that would be carrying on without him. And so forward we go with the promise of being together again…oh what stories he will tell!!!

“Bittersweet” comes to mind.

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I avoided Cracker Barrel restaurants on my PA. trip. I was afraid it would be a bit much for me to sit at a table admiring the antiques on the walls without my Farmer…he could tell me what they were if I didn’t know.

So instead I stopped at a Perkin’s restaurant for a quick bite.  As I sat there I couldn’t help but focus on the empty chair across from me.

So many conversations came to mind; especially some from our last trip together. The one that sticks in my mind was one where he told me that he probably wouldn’t be here to do this kind of thing together again and that we needed to make that one special.

Long talks over coffee about family and farm…moving on knowing he loved us all with a passion (yes, he did use that word!). He did not take his decision of no treatment lightly…just praying for time, quality time, with all of us was a silent prayer we both said on a continuous basis.

I remember him saying that he was ‘okay’ with the decision and at the same time he was scared to death. He didn’t want us to have to witness a long, drawn out sickness. I guess his wishes were granted.

In reflecting on those four months of watching him shine strong for all of us I realize the toll it took on him. I am not going to dwell on it, only to say that he made me so proud to be his wife…his strength and vulnerability mixed together and the outcome could not be changed, yet he did things his way.

He was worried about all of us, setting down plans of what he would like to see in our future. Our guide. He said he knew I would do my best to carry on. ‘Just don’t let others talk you into anything you don’t want to do…and don’t be taken advantage of.”

In replaying things in my head there at the restaurant staring at the empty chair, it wasn’t really empty. He was with me the whole time…I realized I was feeling sorry for myself and he wouldn’t want that. I can be strong when I have to be. I also think I proved something by making that trip…I am merely half of the whole that made us but I will do us proud and carry on.

There will be more trips and a lot more tears…but my Farmer will be right beside me…I can feel it!!!