Beauty & Beast: The Birth Story

Meet Beauty.

And meet Beast.

Aren’t they cute?!

Beauty and Beast were born to their mother, Cammie, on Wednesday of last week, exactly one week ago. I remember that it was a Wednesday because Casey and I had Bible study later that night, and we ate a speed dinner on the way there because Cammie had just birthed her babies. Days like that make us feel like real farmers!! 🙂

If you read last week’s post about Rosie’s babies, Bolt and Biscuit, you’ll know that we missed the whole thing (our FIRST farm birth, and we missed it!). We were expecting Cammie to go into labor first because she was HUGE, so we weren’t watching Rosie as well. Well, you better believe we were watching Cammie this time. Even though 90-95% of goat births go off without a hitch, we still want to be there for those 5% of cases.. and to support our mamas!

Biscuit (one of Rosie’s kids) says hello!

Back to Wednesday…  Casey and I went up to the barn at lunch time and found that Cammie was definitely in labor. How could we tell? Her backside was glazed with a very light pink liquid. (Sorry, folks, for any TMI) We really haven’t been able to tell they’re in labor by behavioral changes yet. It’s weird– the goats act like this whole labor process is “normal,” even though they’ve never experienced it before. Maybe us humans should take a cue?

Well, the labor could have lasted any number of hours at this point (up to 12 hours) so we went back inside where we could monitor her on the “TV surveillance system” rigged up in our bedroom.

Casey had to go back to work, but I stayed within earshot of the TV and worked on a few things before I went out to the barn to sit with Cammie. I grabbed my camera, the birthing kit and jacket and went out to join her. Luckily it was one of those random 65-degree days in February, so it was quite a pleasant day for a goat birth!

When I first got out there, I tried to time her contractions. To the best of my perception, I timed them at 5 minutes apart. Did that mean she was close or still had a while? Sometimes you realize you haven’t done your research…

Then she started pushing–I knew that sign! So I called Tyler to come out. (Casey’s brother Tyler was visiting from Michigan that week, and lucky for us, he had some experience birthing calves on a dairy farm! We were counting on him if anything went wrong… just kidding… Bahhhha.)

Here is a video of the final moments of Cammie’s labor. (If you don’t like viewing goat backsides or see slippery creatures come out of them, don’t feel you have to watch!!) My favorite part is Cammie at the end of the video. This was her first birth, so she seems really confused by this new little creature who suddenly appears in her stall! It actually took Cammie about an hour to warm up to her babies–but once she did, she became a professional mama: super attentive and a super protective. Way to go, Cammie!

Cammie with her little Beauty and Beast.
Beast is our biggest goat baby, and great at nursing.

We would very much welcome visitors to the goat barn at any time. We had a bunch of people come by last weekend, and we hope to have more people out this weekend! They’re so much fun and we’d love to share them with you! But hurry… goat kids grow up incredibly fast.

Bolt and Biscuit: The Birth Story

If you haven’t heard, we’ve had our first goat birthing at Hust Roost Farm! We’ve been waiting for this day for what seems like forever! Last year, our breeding wasn’t successful (whether it was our technique or a “dud” buck) so we waited and waited and the babies never came. This year, we knew the goats were pregnant because (1) They got HUGE and (2) One of the goats, Pepper, miscarried in January (sadly) but at least we knew the breeding worked.

Goats carry their babies for 5 months. So we measured the due date to be exactly 5 months from the day we brought Chief (our buck) in to run with our ladies.

When the due date was getting closer, we had several meetings to make sure we were ready to deliver our babies. We put together a birthing kit of everything we might need. We cleaned the stalls. We set up a camera which gives us 24/7 surveillance on a TV in our bedroom. We watched birthing videos. And we waited.

We were pretty sure that Cammie was going to deliver her babies first. Her stomach was huge and her udder was “bagging up” with milk. So we kept a close eye on Cammie and locked her in a stall, while we let Rosie stay out in the common area. Little did we know that Rosie was going to be the first momma….

Saturday afternoon, Casey’s mom stopped by the farm with her niece. They asked if they could visit the goats even though there were no babies yet. So we went on up to the barn.

When we walked into the barn, what did we see but TWO BABY GOATS standing in the corner of the barn!!! After all the preparation for birthing, we had missed the whole thing!

   

Rosie had already licked and cleaned the babies, and she had just moved away from them to eat some straw (mama was hungry!) While Casey’s mom called Casey on his cell phone, Rachel closed Rosie in her stall with some food, then brought the babies to join her. Now that they were taken care of, we tried to get our bearings. “Isn’t there something we’re supposed to do!?” The only thing we had to do was clean and trim the umbilical cords, and make sure the babies were drinking their mother’s milk. All of it went off without a hitch! What a gift that the first delivery was so easy.  🙂

Now you probably want to meet the babies!

Here is baby “Bolt” named for his facial markings that remind us of lightening.  He’s also very lively, so it fits!

And here is baby “Biscuit,” also a male goat. He is a little smaller than his twin and a little more cuddly, but just as playful!

Mother and babies are doing great and we are welcoming visitors any time! (Just send us a text so we can make sure that Cammie isn’t in labor) Come and visit soon! They’re at the perfect age for both cuddles and cuteness and they grow up fast. But it will be just as fun to watch them frolicking around the yard in just a few weeks! We’re going to enjoy this season. 🙂

   

 

Quick Pic Update: Windows and Doors

Starting this past fall, we have been working our way around the house replacing or filling in all the old windows of the store that were not in good enough shape to keep. If it was a nice day and we had more than a couple of hours, we would knock off another window. All told, we replaced or filled in 11 windows!

The hardest ones to replace, which are my favorites, are the big picture windows that face the road. We had to special order these, and putting them in required us to largely rebuild the side of the house, which was probably a good thing because the previous picture windows had let some water in and caused some rot.

You can see where the steps led to the old door

The biggest change that we made while doing this was the location of the front door. We filled in the old one that faced the road and put a brand new one on the side of the store that faces the parking area.

Come spring, we will build a deck to reach up to the door and the ice cream window, which is the window just to the left of the ladder

Now that we are done with all of the windows, we plan on wrapping tyvek around the house this weekend, and then we will be done with the exterior until the weather gets better. So for now, we can put our efforts into the inside of the store.
P.S.- If we are lucky , next week’s blog post will be about the birth of the baby goats (with pictures!).

Making Greek Yogurt (Crock Pot Edition)

I wasn’t really “into” yogurt growing up. I tried them all– Trix, Go-Gurt, Dannon, Yoplait– but the runny textures and fake fruity flavors just didn’t do it for me. I would often trade away my yogurt at the lunch table, and eventually my mom stopped packing it. (Thanks for packing my lunch, though, Mom!)

But… the tides turned completely when Greek yogurt hit the market later in my teen years. No longer was yogurt runny and fake-fruity– this was the real deal. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love Greek yogurt?! (I haven’t met a hater… have you?)

The only downside to Greek yogurt is the price. It’s a high quality product, yes, and healthy and delicious… but did you know that you can make your own for a small fraction of the price? And not much work?! All you need is a crock pot with the “Keep Warm” setting, a kitchen thermometer, a 1/2 gallon of milk, a 1/2 cup of yogurt, 1/2 hour of time, and 1/2 an ounce of inspiration. 🙂

Here is what you need exactly:

-1/2 gallon of dairy milk (you can even use Skim Milk but you’ll have to strain more liquid at the end )

-1/2 cup of pre-made or store-bought yogurt (I think Greek works best)

-Stovetop saucepan

-Crock Pot, preferably one that has a “Keep Warm” setting

-a kitchen or candy thermometer (must include the range 100F to 190F)

-clean glass jars with lids (preferably 2 quart-sized Mason jars)

You can also make yogurt without the jars, right in your crock pot! It looks even easier so I want to try this next.

The method:

  1. First, pour your half gallon of milk into the saucepan. Put it on the stove and turn to Low heat. Put your thermometer in the saucepan, submerged in the milk so that you can keep an eye on the rising temperature. You want it to reach 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit (no higher). This should take about 10 minutes on Low heat. (Note: If you’re at all curious, the reason you heat the milk is to disrupt some of the protein structure so that it coagulates better, yielding a thicker yogurt!)
  2.  As the milk heats, prepare your jars and Crock-Pot waterbath. Wash the jars and lids with hot water and soap and set aside. 
  3. As soon as your milk reaches 180-185 degrees, turn off the heat. Now you will need to let the milk cool back down to 115 degrees. This will take 20 minutes unless you want to speed it up (put the pan in the fridge, surround it with ice, or put it outside if its winter time!)
  4. Meanwhile, fill your Crock Pot with warm tap water and check the temperature with your thermometer. The Crock Pot water should maintain at 90-110 degrees Farenheight (not more than 115). Adjust with hot or cool water to bring to temperature.
  5. Then turn the Crock Pot on to the “Keep Warm” setting. *If your Crock Pot does not have a “Keep Warm” setting, there are many other ways you can maintain an incubation temperature of 90-110 degrees. You can turn off your crock pot and cover it with a towel which should do the trick if it’s warm in your house. You can also use an oven, an insulated cooler, a dehydrator, or a nifty yogurt maker (about $20-$50 on Amazon). You can also find a warm place in your house, like on top of your wood-burning stove. Before trying any of these other ways, make sure your method can maintain water at 80-115 degrees for a few hours!
  6. While you are waiting for your milk to cool, you can get your yogurt “starter” ready. Take a 1/2 cup of pre-made or store-bought yogurt out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature.
  7. Finally, when your milk has cooled to 115 degrees, add your pre-made yogurt “starter” to the milk. Use a clean fork or whisk to stir it into the milk. Now your milk is ready to pour into your glass jars and get cookin’.
  8. Place the jars of milk in your Crock Pot water bath. The water should come up as high on the jars as possible. Now you just have to let them sit undisturbed for 6-10 hours. No babysitting required!  You can leave the house, go to bed and let it incubate overnight, whatever you need to do, as long as you are sure the temperature will stay below 115. You can check on it a few times if its your first batch.
  9. After 6 to 10 hours (watch for thickness) your yogurt will be ready! You may notice some clear liquid surrounding the yogurt. That’s called “whey” (think whey protein) and you can easily pour it off (or use it to add protein and calcium to other recipes).
  10. Put your yogurt in the fridge to thicken up. If it’s still not as thick as you want it, you can strain it. Place a soft, clean cloth (T-shirt material works well, or 2 layers of cheesecloth) into a colander and pour the yogurt over it. Place the colander inside another large bowl and let it strain in the fridge for 2 hours. Wahlah! You’ll have the thick yogurt of your dreams.

How do you use your Greek yogurt? My favorite way is to use it as a topping on savory soups… or salad or tacos! Casey’s favorite way is to flavor it up with vanilla, fresh fruit, graham crackers, or chocolate chips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me know if you’re interested in trying it and if you have any questions whatsoever. Just comment below or contact us here. Happy yogurting!

Go(a)t Milk?

Having a farm, even a hobby farm, has its high and low moments. Some projects turn out to be more than we can handle and some end in disappointment, but some things go just like they’re supposed to, or even better than expected! Let’s just say that we are on one of these farmer “cloud-nines” this week.

We just started drinking our own farm-raised goats milk!!!

We started milking one of our goats 2 weeks ago but we weren’t able to taste any of it for the first week and a half. This is because the first milk produced, called “colostrum,” does not taste… quite as good (Casey did taste it). We also had to treat our goat with penicillin when she had a fever, so we had to wait five more days to drink it. When we finally got to try it…

DELICIOUS!

What’s to love about goats milk?

First, the flavor. We were surprised to find that it tastes almost identical to cow’s milk. Just a creamier, unpasteurized version– like whole milk from the grocery store but somehow with a greater depth of taste because it’s FRESH!

Goat’s milk is thought to be one of the most “complete” foods known to man, meaning that you can drink a glass as part of a meal, and you’ll have almost all of the nutrients and vitamins you need in your diet. In general, goat and cow milk have a similar protein, calcium and fat content–but goats milk has less lactose and cholesterol, and significantly higher levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, and Riboflavin. The nutrients found in goats milk are more readily absorbed by the human body, and the proteins and fats are easier to digest than in cow’s milk. And it’s also interesting to note that goat’s milk does not contain A1-casein, the protein which is most often the culprit in dairy allergies.

All of that aside, it just tastes good!

So what are we going to do with it? Right now we’re getting 7 cups of milk a day, and that is from one goat. Two weeks from now, we should be milking 3 goats! That is a lot of milk!

For starters, we’re becoming milk-sufficient. Even Gramps stopped buying it at the grocery store (we were surprised, as he is a man of habit!) Next, we will stop buying yogurt because it is very easy to make (we’ve made it before). Finally, we are excited to master the art of cheesemaking so we can even stop buying cheese… I don’t think we will ever be able to keep up with our ice cream habit, though. 🙂

What’s next after that? Well, next year we may consider a “share” program.  Raw milk cannot be sold by retail in New York State, but this program is one legal way to offer it. People interested in a regular supply of milk or cheese could purchase a small “share” of our goat, making them a part-owner of the goat.  Say someone wanted a log of goat cheese once a month, we would figure out what percentage of the goat expenses they would cover and make up a contract. This is all still being figured out, but we are pretty sure we’ll have it up and running by next year. We can’t wait to share this wonderful treat with you! 🙂

Mmmmmmmmmilk.

 

 

Winter is Melting Away

The start of a spring to-do list, along with our newest task of milking the goat!

I know some people are looking at the month of February and thinking to themselves that we have a long way to go until we turn the corner to some golden days. Part of me feels that way. It really does. The other part of me looks at the last couple of months and wonders where they disappeared to. Winter is supposed to be the time on the farm where the garden goes dormant, animals stop having babies so we can work on the things we don’t have time for the rest of the year, like making serious headway on the farm store. And dare I say the winter is a time when we can go in before 9:00 at night and watch football on Sunday after church. Well… winter is just about over.

Technically, the winter still has almost two months to go, but if you are standing in my shoes (which are completely disgusting right now because I cleaned out the chicken coops today), things are about to get busy in an awful hurry as spring bears down on us like a freight train.

February Task#1: Hatching Chicks

Next week we’ll be releasing the roosters with the hens because we need to collect and incubate fertilized eggs for the first spring hatching. Once it starts, this project continues through the fall. The first eggs hatch March 1, and then we keep hatching them every two weeks until September.

February Task #2: Birthing and Milking Goats

Starting in mid-February, the goats could deliver at any time. We are already milking one of them (Pepper) because she had an early stillbirth a few days ago. While this was disappointing, it made us quite sure that the other two are pregnant, and getting to refine our milking skills for a month before the other goats give birth could prove to be very helpful. Once the other two goats deliver their bundles of joy, it will be a full-fledged nursery out there, with three goats to milk twice a day and little goat babies to enjoy 🙂

February Task #3: Maple Syrup

Around the same time as that, we will be watching the temperature closely, as the daytime temperatures could be subtly climbing into the high 30’s and low 40’s regularly, meaning it is time to tap the trees and make maple syrup. Somehow, that magical season always seems to sneak up on me. It is winter one day, then all of a sudden we are outside every day collecting sap and boiling it down every weekend.

Not to be overlooked, we have a garden to plan and seeds to order. Come March we will be starting to grow plants under the lights in the basement. The planning of our garden is particularly exciting this year as we are expanding our summer produce program.

On top of all that, we are putting in every free minute we can find (they get harder and harder to find) on the store. While we still have a lot of work left on the store, the progress we have made thus far has made us more focused on the finish line, which is becoming clearer and clearer as the weeks roll by.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that winter is melting through my fingers. I am greatly looking forward to everything I wrote about above. It is just a marvel to me how fast even the dreariest seasons go when you have so much excitement right around the corner.

The Summer Produce Program

Photo courtesy of il raccolto di oggi.

Isn’t it nice to see the word “summer”  and a picture of fresh garden produce in the middle of January? One of the best ways to beat the winter blues is to start bringing together your summer plans now. Here is a sneak peak into one of our summer plans–and get this–you may be able to get involved and make this one of your summer plans, too!

Last year’s summer produce program:

Last year, we successfully ran our first organized program of selling fresh garden produce. We patterned it after the widely known C.S.A. program, meaning that we had our customers commit to buying a weekly box of produce (whatever we had available in our gardens) to help support the farm. This really helped give us a consistent outlet for our produce, and we rewarded our faithful and beloved customers by giving them the best of our produce at lower prices. And they loved knowing that it came right out of the garden, literally hours before they received it. 🙂 The only difference we had with most C.S.A. programs is that we did not require a payment up front, but rather had the customers pay by week as they received their produce bundles. This made it a much easier commitment!

This year’s summer produce program is going to be even more unique, with more modifications made to the traditional C.S.A. We are currently working on our own distribution model based on what we think really favors the customer, and will also allow us to offer the opportunity to a wider audience (think 50 spots instead of 12!)

Here is a basic summary:

-STILL a weekly box of fresh garden produce.

-STILL no up-front cost; rather paying weekly as you get your box.

-NOW with the more variety and input into what you get in your box.

-NOW with more FRUIT–not just vegetables!

-NOW offering produce from other NY/PA farms in addition to our own.

In fact, a great deal of the produce we are offering will be from other farms in New York and Pennsylvania. Instead of being just a grower, we will now also be a produce distributer. We are excited to partner with other farms so that we can expand our program to a wider audience and ultimately provide you with the produce you really like and enjoy, rather than whatever happens to be available from our garden (sorry last year’s folks for all of the beets!)

There will be many more details to come, but hopefully this has whet your fruit-and-vegetable-appetite. If you are interested in receiving more information about this program as it becomes available (more to come in late February!) you can sign up to receive emails about this program here.

We can’t wait for summer and all of the opportunities for health, family, and fun that it brings. The snow may be cooping us up for now, but we will be outside in shorts, munching on fresh vegetables, before we know it.

Recap: The Honey Harvest

Hey, thanks for stopping by! We thought we’d post a quick update on a project we recently finished working on. We’ll keep this update short and sweet, emphasis on SWEET.

We’ve got honey!!!

That’s it. Short and sweet, right? Just kidding…. We’ll go a little more into depth in case you are interested.

If you didn’t read our previous post about our honeybees, we sadly lost both hives to a merciless wasp invasion in early November. There were two positives we found in the situation: 1. We learned how to prevent that from happening next year (I mean, we thought we knew- now we really, really know!) And 2. We were able to save the honey! Forty-two pounds of it!

Over the next month, we harvested and packaged the honey, just in time for Christmas gifts. The reason it took a full month was because we processed the honey the slooow way, filtering it through strainers rather than using an extractor to spin the honey out with centrifugal force (….we’ll use that next year).

We still have plenty of honey leftover for selling throughout the year and at the store. For now, if you would like to order, you can do so through this contact form here. Pickup would be from the farm in Glen Aubrey OR from Casey & Rachel in Rochester if you can coordinate with one of their trips.

We are selling the honey for $7 in 1-lb glass jars, with the honey being raw (unpasteurized) and unfiltered. This means that the honey still contains all of the natural pollens, unlike the ultra-filtered bottles at the grocery store. The pollens are thought to have anti-allergenic properties if you have seasonal allergies. Some people buy pollen as a health food! Why take out the good stuff?

     

Any questions? Feel free to ask or comment!

We are very optimistic about next year’s honeybee operation…  We finally found a local source for our honeybee nucs, rather than farming them out from South Carolina. (In general you have to purchase your honeybees, though we have tried to catch them in the wild… it’s just harder that way!) We hope that the local bees will be much more resilient to the cold valley winters.

With the more resilient local bees and applying the hard lessons from the past two years, the third time should be the charm for getting our honeybees to survive. Until then, we’ll count our sweet blessings and share them around. 🙂

A Look Inside: The Store Floorplan

Hi everyone, happy 2017 to you! We’re back to the blog, and back to the grind, after a busy holiday week. Well, really we were working pretty hard last week too (between holiday shindigs) because everyone had the week off and we had things to get things done! We are feeling really excited for the year ahead, especially for the opening of the farm store in late summer/early fall! There is still so, so much work to be done, but with those night/midday/weekend hours, as Gramps would say, “We’re gaining!”

Here is a snapshot of the greater goal, the thing that keeps us going when putting in the hours…

Below you see the future front of the store, really the side of the original house, which will have a deck, ice cream window on the left and entry door on the right (new doors and windows are currently being shipped in the mail!)

The future front of the store, which will have a deck, entrance, and ice cream window.

Inside here you can see the ice cream window again (this time on the right of the picture) which will open behind the front counter. (You can see here the skeleton of the counter, currently being used as a work bench!) Behind the counter is where we will have the ice cream cooler, coffee maker, and any other things we need for prepared foods.

The future front-counter, next to the ice cream window.

Behind the counter, there is the entrance into the old garage, which is being transformed into a commercial kitchen. This kitchen is needed in order to legally sell prepared foods in the store. We will just have the basic requirements at first, and later on we may add more appliances.

The “old garage” is being transformed into the commercial kitchen!

Then we have the wide open store “common area.” This open space is a really exciting space to us, full of possibilities. Right now we plan to have some fresh produce, local products, and unique gifts on display in the room, with a bookshelf for our lending library and a few small tables and chairs in front of the windows where people can sit down with their coffee, baked goods, or whatever else is on the menu. 🙂 Anything you folks want to see?

The wide-open store common area, full of possibilities.

Finally, we have our two enclosed rooms in the back of the store.

The future refrigeration room (L) and special display room (R).

One of them will become the refrigeration room for eggs, meat, and dairy. The other room will probably become some sort of special display room which will highlight certain handmade gifts… What exactly will be displayed? You’ll have to wait and see!

Hopefully this has gotten you excited to come to our store! That’s the real goal of it all, which makes us way more excited than seeing any of this come together…. having people there! Hope to see you there THIS year. Until then, be well! 🙂

Love, the Hust Family

Living Hope

Well, we’ve already fallen off of the blog-a-week train. There is plenty to blog about at the Hust Roost (stay tuned for the honey harvest, the store floorplan, the summer C.S.A., and the store roof project!). It’s just that the past week has felt different. Our country was shaken, agitated at the very least, by the presidential election. To write a perky post about life-as-normal did not seem quite appropriate, either for myself or for you all reading this. Whether you were shaken by the outcome itself or the ensuing outpouring of conflict and grief (though they say that was mostly my generation) it was not the brightest week.

But perhaps the past week has shown you what it has shown me: that there is still so much Hope to be had.

People may be understandably conflicted, worried, even devastated, over the state of the U.S. but there is so much more to life than what goes on in the oval office of one single country. Life itself is so much more than that.

Life itself, and the miraculous nature of it, has been a source of hope to me this week. Two lives in particular named Shadrach and Wriggley.

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Shadrach (black) and Wriggley (grey) our 9-day-old bunnies.

These little bunnies are literal survivors. When found, rejected by their mother, they were nearly frozen to death. But… a few of them wiggled a paw and were whisked inside and put on a heating pad. An hour later, the babes were wriggling around and squeaking for food so I did some quick research, acquired some goats milk (thanks Moy family!), heavy cream, probiotic and an eye dropper, and got to work.

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Wriggley drinking down a mixture of goats milk, cream and probiotic.

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The great thing about infant rabbits is that they only need to eat twice a day, the milk being so incredibly rich (when fed by the mother they only need to eat once a day!). Still, it is not a hip-hoppity road for the bunnies. They are at risk of aspirating (breathing in the milk), getting dehydrated or constipated, becoming malnourished or getting too hot or cold. But my goodness are the instincts in these things amazing. If too hot or cold, they crawl until they find the right temperature. If they inhale any milk, they sneeze it out with surprising force. They even lick themselves to make themselves go to the bathroom… all from the moment of birth!

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Shadrach at 6 days.

And so… by God’s grace… we’ve made it to 10 DAYS OLD. This is an exciting day in development—their eyes will open— a second birth, if you will! They will finally see the world and see us. We’re hoping they become sweet pets that even kids can play with. It is so exciting to think that all of the work may be worth it.

So with everything we do in this life. God says that everything will have a harvest or reward in the end. “Do not become weary in doing good for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9) One of God’s absolute attributes is Justice. We may not see His hand creating justice in the visible world, but we can count on Him bringing it in the end. This includes reward for the good but also retribution for all of the evil. All sins will be paid for (either by us or by His Son’s sacrifice if we trust in Him) and all good things will have a “harvest.” It’s all going to be right in the end.

This hope we have is a ”living hope” and “sure hope” not just an “I hope-this-will-happen-hope”. Christ made it so by rising from the dead, proving that He reigns over all, including sin and death. He will prove it again someday!

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Pray for these little ones!

Until then, let’s keep hoping! (And may the bunnies keep hopping… sorry, I couldn’t resist 🙂