Raise your hand if you’ve been AWOL in the world of blogging for an awful long time…
Wait, I’m talking about me.
Something about having our ninth baby and then moving to a new country cottage, all in the space of several months… Well, it all threw me for a loop, in much the same way as moving from the city of Colorado Springs to ‘Past the BoonDocks Out East to a Ranch’ did after the Big Change or Loss For Everyone in 2008. I couldn’t even write much beyond Facebook statuses. It wasn’t writer’s block… It was Life Block. As in, what-the-heck-is-going-on-here block?!?!
In 2008, we found ourselves needing to move out of the city where we had enjoyed a successful career in mortgages and real estate, out to the country to where it seemed we were ‘being called’… And we made lemonade out of lemons, let me tell ya… We started ranching, and it was amazing. We started with a small herd of dairy goats and a couple of sheep, and we ended up with a dairy, plenty of sheep for meat and wool, many chickens, horses and later horse training and riding skills, Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs that we loved and bred so that we could share the wealth with other farmers and dog lovers… And then accounting training, several new graduate degrees for my husband, a dairy share program, and a thriving goat milk soap business. Add to that, we discovered a lovely little charter school in a nearby town where we became involved leadership-wise, and a lovely parish with a community that to this day are some of the most humble and loving people….
What started out as a literal disaster of financial loss (businesses, house, savings, assets…) turned into the most amazing gain. 80 acres of opportunity, a chance to build up muscles, beyond a hobby where people have a couple of chickens or two goats… Where we learned the hard way from scratch what it was to assist the birth of puppies at two in the morning, deliver a goat kid (or two or three) who were stuck in their struggling mother, to rescue a lamb who became entangled in fence (in a blizzard, in the middle of the night, because that’s the only time sheep will ever get into trouble :))… We learned how to ‘process’ (meaning butcher) animals on our ranch… Which was heartbreaking and new for me at first, a typical American who didn’t realize the price of that cellophaned item we so conveniently buy at the grocery store, or what is actually in the pasteurized milk jug… We learned of the sacrifice of ranchers when we’re in a drought, and what hay costs, and that most ranchers and farmers are not subsidized by the government, meaning we live on a shoestring budget so that our animals can be healthy and happy… We saw lots of new life… and… lots of death. Our children learned important lessons that can’t be taught in textbooks. Not just the lost of a beloved pampered pet (as many people experience)… But the loss of baby animals who didn’t make it through the birth process, the loss of milk when a mother dried up because she miscarried, the loss of meat when a lamb died unexpectedly by a predator (before we had livestock guardian dogs)… We experienced things that are etched into my mind, to almost the same extent as a natural childbirth is etched into a mother’s (and father’s) mind… things that can’t really be explained unless you have experienced them, too. Things that almost make me feel ‘grandmotherly’ when a fresh young couple say ‘We’re going to get two goats and start a farm! Yeehaw!’ I can feel some sort of knowing wisdom behind my eyes that prompts me with ‘do I tell them? Or let them experience this beginning on their own?’ I am mostly silent. The same way we mothers of many are when a mother becomes pregnant with her first. But inside, we are bursting with advice and the urge to share and relate…
But then, after all this experience over 6 years, we came to a fork in the road. We needed to make a decision… And the decision needed to be compatible with my husband’s work over an hour away, and I longed to share my life with people. Many ranchers way out east prefer the animals for their company. I get that. People can be weird and tough at times. Goodness knows we’ve had our experiences with weirdness and the loss of friends for no good reason. Many times, our dogs or goats seemed more reasonable. But God didn’t say ‘love thy dog as thyself.’ There’s that whole ‘neighbor’ thing… And to be honest, while we have had our share of disillusionments with people, they are so few compared to the amazing people in our lives. Literally, we are blessed abundantly with beautiful friends to such an extent, that I wish I had more time to spend with them!
So a decision had to be made… For our marriage, which was strained because of the constant distance from each other (we are the type that really do enjoy being with each other as much as possible, and he was so far away for so many years with work and education….), and for our involvement in community (even though we have dear friends from the Calhan community), we needed to choose. We chose relationships over land and off-grid wealth and potential… That’s not to say we couldn’t still go that route, but we know the price. Seriously, when I hear starry-eyed people say ‘we’re gunna live off-grid and raise livestock’, I have to restrain myself from saying ‘you have no idea the price of that…’ And yet, it’s a noble cause, and I encourage anyone called in that direction to take the leap, so long as their marriage is strong, and they are both in it together full-time. Then maybe you can pull it off….
And so that leads us to now…. We came to love the freedom of having animals, however many we want or could support, without some agency saying “you can only have 5.2 chickens”… We got used to not having neighbors breathing down our necks … We got used to, and came to love, more freedom on land we own… And so here we are, in our new digs, still east of Colorado Springs, but not so far out that our main conversations are with horses or cattle. We can still see the gorgeous starry night, untainted by city lights or the city glow, and at the same time, we are close to my husband’s work, which brought our family back together instantly. We are still making goat milk soap and other products… We are still running Victory Ranch.
But a page has turned.
Yes, it was a tough page that turned, because I think it’s human nature to want to cling to something good, even if something better is up next. It is tough to move away from friends who became like family, and from the simplicity of small-town people. It was tough to move away from what became familiar even if it was tough. But the page turned, and we are in a new era, even though we have forged some life-long beautiful relationships while we lived further out east.
The page turned, and before us is a fresh new page, that contains all of our history and experiences, and points to newness, excitement, and the continuing fulfillment of our family’s mission. And what is our family’s mission? Well, it contains quite a lot… But the short version is that we are called as a family to glorify God by serving the cause of life as well as living out Goodness, Beauty, and Truth… Together.
With that, LifeVictorious is still about being real, authentic, and celebrating victory through challenge, but the flavor here is also evolving, like our lives are. As we move more into our family mission, we will be sharing with you our family businesses, and encouraging you to do the same in your families or individual lives… We will all be working to encourage each of our gifts as a family, and we will be spreading that mission to more than just us. You can do it, too…. You can be victorious, especially in these tumultuous times we live within…
With love, and wishing you a Life Victorious,
Here are some new pictures from the new a Victory Ranch! Enjoy!