Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's Time for Baby Chicks

Spring is finally here and I could not be happier.  After the rough, frigid temperatures and the never ending piles of snow, this girl was thrilled to put on Capri's, flip flops and a t-shirt!  I must admit that it was short lived.  Today, when I woke up there was a dusting of snow on my car.  Only in Indiana does it seem that the temperatures fluctuate so drastically on a daily basis. 

One thing I really enjoy about Spring, is all the baby chicks we start raising.  I actually purchased about 70 back in February.  I do this every year, however, the first batch I received from the hatchery didn't survive the cold journey on the mail truck.  The post office called to tell me there was no chirping or movement in the box and I should think about refusing the package.  I refused the package and called the hatchery.  They were so kind and sent another shipment to me within a week.  All of these survived but two.  If you are just starting out and want a good hatchery to purchase from, I suggest McMurray Hatchery.  They are wonderful to work with and their birds are of the highest quality.

These pullets are now about 2 months old.  We kept them in the garage with the heat lamps to start off with and we have now moved them to the small barn where they will be free to roam around inside and outside (when I am home to supervise them and watch for predators).  At this particular age, the pullets are easy pray for predators when they are outside.  Falcons and hawks will swoop down and take them when you're not watching closely.  We have also had trouble with minks, raccoons and neighboring cats trying to prey on these sweeties.  Fortunately, we have our faithful dogs, Sadie and Libby who diligently help control the predators.

I'm not really supposed to share this picture with you (thus him pointing the finger at me), but I couldn't resist.  After we had moved all 70 of the chicks, Bill "reclined" on the cement to take a break.  I can't say enough good stuff about my husband...I fall deeper in love with him everyday.  He doesn't particularly like the chickens, but he loves me and it shows...maybe not by this picture though!  Lol!  It's probably a good thing Bill is there to keep me grounded, or we would have an entire farm of different animals by now.

If you are considering starting a backyard chicken project, I would strongly suggest this time of the year.  The Spring weather is perfect for baby chicks (after being under the heat lamp for a few weeks) and for you.   The baby chicks above were hatched at the 2014 Henry County Ag Day event where all the first graders in the county schools came out and learned how pizza ingredients come from a farm.  These little lovelies came back to the farm with me along with two adorable cats.  It's really awesome to teach kids about farm life and for them to learn that their food comes from hard working farmers and not from the back of a grocery store.  Before you purchase any type of animal, make sure you have adequate shelter, food, water and anything else they might need.  If it's chicks, be sure to have a heat lamp (or two), shavings for them to walk on and a good dry area/container to keep them in.
Here's to you and a Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Struggling through PCOS

As a high school student, I noticed that I had really bad acne and a lot of facial hair.  That "time of the month" was horrible for me.  Although I was alarmed, especially with all the facial hair, everyone seemed to shrug it off.

It wasn't until my mid-20's that I had gone to the doctor and sought treatment for not being able to get pregnant.  It was then, that I learned that I had PCOS...Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  I had no clue what this was, but would soon discover that it's something that I will spend the rest of my life trying to deal with.  It would also cause an infertility nightmare.

PCOS is basically a hormone disorder among women of reproduction age.  There are small cysts that attach themselves along the outer edge of the ovary.  As if this wasn't displeasing enough, the symptoms can include:

  • Acne
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Irregular periods
  • Obesity
  • Infertility

I have almost all of these symptoms and went through many procedures trying to conceive.  I have to tell you that not being able to have a child of my own is one of the hardest things I have ever had to cope with in my life.

As I started to get closer to my 30th birthday, I really wanted to have a child.  I began to see specialists in the fields of infertility.  Although some of the options seemed a little far fetched, we were willing to pursue what avenues we could afford.  Keep in mind, there are always payment plans!

We began small with several insulin helping medications to see if it would help my ovaries release an egg.  Until you have gone through this, you have no idea how much of an emotional roller coaster infertility is.  Every time you check to see if you might be ovulating (or pregnant), it's heart wrenching to know that you are not.  After the insulin medications, we stepped it up a notch to shots.  Now this was a fun time -- NOT!  Long story short, it didn't work either.

At this point, money is running short and most insurances, including mine, do not cover infertility treatments.  The specialists, whom I was growing tired of seeing so much, suggested that we try invitro.  Invitro fertilization is expensive and they do have payment plans.  For one go around of invitro, taking 3 of my eggs and combining it with sperm was going to be around $20,000 (give or take of course) and so much had to be paid up front.  This is where it came down to the nitty gritty.  I don't know about you, but most average people don't have that kind of money just laying around.  We were blessed to have help with some of the other treatments, but this was a huge amount of money for no actual guarantees of having a child.

The actual stress of my body trying numerous medicines, the emotional toll it was taking on me mentally and the spiritual journey of not understanding why God had not entrusted me with such a special gift became almost too much to handle. 

After a lot of prayer and discussion of if we should try invitro or pursue adoption, it was decided to do nothing.  I know there are a lot of kids in the world who need loved, my (step) Dad adopted me and my brother, but for some reason, it wasn't an avenue that was pursued.  Later in life, when I divorced my first husband, I was able to look back and be thankful that there wasn't a child trapped in the middle of a divorce.

I will tell you that all of this did not just go away.  It was heart breaking.  I went through a depression.  I couldn't attend baby showers, or be happy for co-workers and friends that were pregnant.  Every little baby that I would pass at the grocery store, brought tears to my eyes.  Nothing in my life made sense and I found myself asking God, "why me?" 

I was finally given the book from Focus on the Family called, "When the Cradle is Empty."  What a book.  Everything in there is accurate.  I learned that by not being able to have a child, I had to go through a grieving process over a child that I never even had.  Plus, I learned that God would use me in other ways.

I believe that God has placed me in my current job at the Extension Office for a reason.  For 2 full weeks during the month of July, I consider myself truly blessed to have a family of over 500 4-H youth that I get to see, love, encourage and support during the annual county 4-H fair.  I have an adoring husband who makes my life complete and nieces and nephews that I spoil even more because I don't have children of my own. 

I often wonder who will come and see my when I get old and am in a nursing home.  My heart still aches knowing that I don't have that special son or daughter to watch over me in my old age, but I know that somehow God will provide.

I still struggle with PCOS.  The facial hair and the weight gain are the most embarrassing aspects, but I know it's not the end of the world and that God loves me (and YOU) no matter what we look like, what we've gone through or where we have been.  Without my faith in God, I couldn't have made it this far.

For more information, visit: http://www.pcosfoundation.org