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Introducing... Orlando Bloom!

We are often told we work hard and that it is important to take breaks, see new things, make time for ourselves. We agree, so we went ahead and traveled to Orlando, Florida this past week for the experience of a lifetime with our family! We planned for a year to take the kids to Disney World. We visited Magic Kingdom and Epcot during our visit, and boy did we have fun! I can't imagine a better day, especially at Magic Kingdom. We rode everything we wanted to, and had a total "yes" day from treats to toys and then some. We felt like we won the lottery, for sure.

Anytime you play, you gotta pay though...

When we left the cabin, the snow was gone, and the weather was mild. We prepared the house and ranch, planned ahead for the store and got extra helping hands to get us through the week while we were away.

Of course, things did not go as planned.

While our time in Orlando was going swimmingly, things back home turned cold, snowy, icy and powerless. No power also means no water, which is not ideal when there are stock tanks to fill! The "Amazing Ava" (Ava Quintella - you see her at the Feed & Seed often!) as I am now calling her for the rest of time, not only farm-sat and house-sat for us, but she kept the store moving flawlessly. When the power went out, she managed things without complaint. My father-in-law and brother assisted with the outage, starting the generator and wrangling a loose calf that escaped under the fence that was down due to the power outage. My brother and sister-in-law along with a group of pals all came to provide an assist with the calf who was running all over the yard and made it out more than once. Hoping that all of the drama would stop there, early in the week, we took a deep breath and tried to let the relaxation commence... UNTIL....

One of our heifers (Petunia) began to give birth. Being her first calf, she had been showing signs but zero progress for a month. It was a bit of a gamble, and we had hoped she'd give birth before we left, but no such luck. We had penned her up before we left so she'd be easy to tend to in the event of an emergency - but we'd really banked on that not taking place.

(Petunia- middle right of this photo) We should have known better. Naturally, it started happening as our family arrived for a big night out at Ole' Red, the Blake Shelton Line Dance Bar and Restaurant in Orlando (a fitting scene). Amazing Ava got Rancher Rob on the phone and he was in and out of the meal getting updates. Our driver for the Feed & Seed, Andrew Bloom, arrived on scene as the clock started ticking... The calf hadn't moved along as fast as needed for a safe birth, so it was time to start pulling. Thanking God that Andrew has had experience with this before, we felt confident he could get the (dirty, wet, cold, difficult) job done.

We waited in the restaurant with baited breath. I don't think we took a breath until the call came - the calf arrived!

Both of us literally had tears coming down our face sitting next to the live singer on stage. My Aunt Roxy, quickly wrote a message to the band, and a moment later the birth of our calf was announced to the whole place! The calf was alive, but definitely not out of the woods just yet. Petunia, the mother, was a bit unsure of what to do. Andrew worked tirelessly to try to get them to bond but it didn't take for some time. Amazing Ava took the night shift, and after keeping an eye on things, the calf had yet to get up (usually, this happens early on after the birth, so this was not a good sign). The temps were dropping again, and the calf was getting too cold. After the difficult birth something had to be done.

Amazing Ava, with the help of a couple of strong and cow-experienced friends, loaded the calf into a jet sled in the middle of the night, and brought it into the basement to warm up. They milked Petunia to collect colostrum, and bottle fed the calf inside. Sadly, the basement was still not warm enough for the calf. The responsible group of calf-caregivers brought the calf upstairs to the living room to warm by the fire in the woodstove. They even rolled up my living room rug and penned the calf in, which I greatly appreciate, to avoid any extra clean up.

The calf warmed and dried, inside the cabin "NICU". Cash, our little cairn terrier, we are told, slept with the calf and kept it company the last couple hours of the night while everyone got a smidgen of rest. The next day Amazing Ava was off to the Feed & Seed (exhausted I am sure). Our brother, Mitch Manfredi and another driver for the Feed & Seed, Steve Langelier, came over mid morning to let the calf out to be with its mother again. It was up and walking, alert. It was alive.

Because of the incredible effort put forth by ALL of these supportive, caring, responsible, gritty, humane, wonderful people, the calf, now aptly named "Orlando Bloom" (seeing as we were in Orlando, and Andrew Bloom pulled him, it was more than fitting) is doing well with his mother, and made it through a seriously difficult entrance to the world. It is because of them that this calf is alive.

We never intended to ask so much of our friends and family. We had contacts on the phone we were conferring with - constant discussion over how to solve problems - but these people all rallied for us (as they have before) and we are so humbled and grateful. I am sure there are many moments of stress and details I'm not outlining here, too. They made it possible for us to give our children new experiences, and allowed us to step away to a change of pace ourselves.

We immediately felt that we should never leave the ranch again, but Mitch quickly reminded us not to give up - even after everything he'd assisted with.

We look forward to giving back where and when possible to all. We cannot express our gratitude and love for them all enough. We are so lucky to call them ours.



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