Big News!

It’s been a busy season at our home the past few weeks. ๐Ÿ™‚ So here is a brief update on all that’s been happening!

The most exciting is the birth of our son Reagan on April 11! He has been doing very well, and we are enjoying snuggling our newest family member. His big sister enjoys holding him, and Mia has assumed the roll of baby’s guard dog.

And Penny and Phoenix are now six weeks old and growing like weeds! They are both so playful and affectionate! They are almost fully weaned onto unsoftened kibble. I’m still soaking their food for a few minutes to make it easier to chew, but I will stop that within the next week. This week the puppies are also starting on NuVet Plus, which is an immune system supplement. As puppies wean off of their mom’s milk, their young immune systems become more susceptible to illnesses. A good supplement can help protect them from viruses and bacteria, and it can also help them give a better immune system response to their puppy vaccines.

We will soon be starting crate training, and the puppies are slowly being introduced to more and more new sights and sounds. The more variety of things they get to experience here at my home, the more easily they will adjust to their new homes.

And here are some pictures! These sweet pups have been enjoying the beautiful spring weather. It’s so much fun to watch them run and explore their big new world!

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Phoenix

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Penny

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Sibling rough housing

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They love chasing after Reese!

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Penny

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Have a wonderful rest of your week!

 

Some Puppy Cuteness for Your Weekend

We are in the last weekend with Mia’s puppies! On Monday, they start heading off to their new homes. It’s such an exciting time to see how much the puppies have grown and see them each taken into loving new families!

Mostly for the benefit of the families who are eagerly waiting to pick up their new bundle of fluff and love, here are some pictures of the puppies from the last few days. ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy!

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Micky

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Micky

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Calvin

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Calvin & Hobbes meeting Auntie Duchess

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Calvin, Charlie, & Hobbes

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So many things I love in this picture

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Calvin

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Winnie

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Micky

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Hobbes

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Winnie

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Lucy & Winnie

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Lucy

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Hobbes

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Lucy

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Minnie

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Minnie

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Calvin

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Winnie

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Winnie

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Charlie & Micky

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Charlie

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Charlie

 

My Shop is Open!

I am BEYOND excited! Kristen’s Happy Tails shop is now open!

During the last few months, I spent hours learning about various pet company brands and the products they offer. Quality and safety are of the utmost importance to me. When I am giving food, treats, or supplements to my dogs and puppies, I want to know that what they are getting is wholesome, safe, and will keep them at their optimal health. When I get my dogs collars and toys, I want to know that I am getting something durable and good quality. I put a lot of energy and consideration into the products that I chose to have in my shop, and I am thrilled with what I have to offer to my puppies’ new families! I may not have a wide variety, but what I do have is guaranteed to be some of the absolute best pet products on the market.

This shop is a way to provide more resources to my puppies’ new families. I am often asked for recommendations on food, crates, and toys; and I wanted to do more than simply give advice. Now, my puppies’ new families can purchase full puppy packs for their new friend! I also want to be able to connect with and offer support to other local breeders, who, like me, want to get their puppies off to a great start. I want to provide excellent products and support to local dog owners who want to keep their special pups strong and healthy (and maybe spoil them a bit, too).

I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent building and preparing my shop. I’m eager to see where this adventure leads! As most of you know, I am always up for a good dog adventure, and I love to learn and connect with other dog people.

Here is a brief over view of some of the products and brands that you can find in my shop. (You can view all the products under the Shop tab or by clicking here.):

  • (Of course) Life’s Abundance- This is my favorite brand of dog food, and I know it helps to keep my dogs and puppies healthy from the inside out with it’s science-based, holistic nutrition. Also, the treats they have are AMAZING! My dogs nearly take off my whole hand when I start dishing out their yummy (and super healthy) treats! (Learn more about Life’s Abundance here.)
  • NuVet- This is a new addition to my nutrition program that I am very excited to share about! NuVet Plus is an immune system supplement which helps protect and build a puppy’s immune system, allowing the puppy to remain healthier and also give a better immune system response to vaccinations. It’s also an amazing supplement for adult dogs, helping them to remain in optimal health and protecting them from getting run-down by environmental toxins. (Learn more about NuVet here.)
  • Lupine- This is a big name in the dog industry! Lupine has been making amazing collars and leashes for over 25 years. They offer a life-time,ย even if chewed,ย guarantee on their products. The collars and leashes are durable and come in fun colors and patterns.
  • Furhaven- I have stocked some beautiful and unique memory-foam dog beds from Furhaven. These beds have an easily removed cover for convenient washing. I also have some very soft and comfy beds that are designed to fit perfectly in crates.
  • P.L.A.Y.- This is an environmentally friendly company that sells a variety of durable, stimulating, and amazingly cute dog toys! I can certainly attest to the fact that no dog toy is indestructible, but these toys can endure a good amount of tough love and play.
  • Kong- Want to talk durable? You can hardly find more durable toys than Kong toys. These fun, classic toys are great for large breeds or a particularly destructive dog. (Like my lovable hunk Jade, who destroys anything she can find. She ate one of my favorite hard cover books last week, much to my annoyance.) Currently, I have a limited variety of Kong toys, but I plan to expand my selection in 2019!

I hope that gives you a good idea of what I have in my shop. Have a happy Monday!

Taking the Good and the Bad

As the title implies, this blog post is sharing some good news and some bad news. That’s life, though, isn’t it? Not every thing works out like we wish it would or think it should. But God is always good!

Bad news first. Jade went to the vet yesterday, and an ultrasound confirmed that she is not pregnant. We are obviously very disappointed! We were very excited about her potential litter this year, and we were looking forward to seeing the beautiful puppies she would have. However, she fooled us again.

I had initially been very optimistic. Her breeding went very well, she showed some appetite changes in the weeks after breeding, and her vulva has stayed slightly swollen. All of these things are good signs for pregnancy. However, about a week before her ultrasound, I began checking her underbelly. Another one of the first signs of pregnancy is changes in the nipples. They often become a little larger and change to a noticeably flushed pink color. I did not notice any of that for Jade, and I began to suspect she wasn’t carrying any puppies.

Since this is her second failed breeding, we are planning to do some testing before her next heat cycle. We will also try for a natural breeding next time, rather than AI (artificial insemination). That means we will not be trying for Mini Goldendoodles next time, since mini’s usually require artificial breeding. It is suspected (though not known for sure) that some dogs due to variations in individual fertility or shape/tilt of the reproductive organs may not be able to get pregnant via AI. There are a lot of unknown factors and possibilities with breeding; and for some dogs, it becomes a game of trial and error! So now we get to wait and try again later, but the third time is the charm, right?

Now on to the good news! Jade’s doctor visit was not the only one that happened this week. This morning I made a trip to the doctor myself, and I got to hear a tiny little beating heart!

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Lord willing, our family will get a new little addition in the spring! New life is such a blessing, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to bring a sweet new being into the world in a few months.

There are also some other really exciting things happening around here! We are opening up a small dog and puppy supply shop! I am always looking for ways to give our puppies’ new families a better “puppy experience.” That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. I felt like it gives a window into our lives, and it allows waiting families to watch their puppy growing. Opening our shop will help give our puppies’ families additional resources. Because of our experience with dogs and puppies, we feel like we have a lot to offer families buying a new puppy. One way we thought we can serve them better is by offering a place to buy products we personally use and recommend. These are products we know are safe, healthy, durable, and reputable. So after spending a lot of time shopping around and researching various companies, we have put together a small shop full of practically EVERYTHING you need for a new puppy. I will be posting more about our new shop soon, and you’ll see some new pages added on to the website showing the brands and items we will be carrying.

Until then, I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!

Gun Dogs, Summertime, and Rodents

Things have been pretty quiet around here for the last few months. We are enjoying a break from puppies for a few months, and life has just been going on as normal!

Normal for us anyway. We have four bird dogs (3.5 maybe).ย Raising and training gun dogs changes your perception of a normal day.

For example, I finish my morning coffee, slip on my battered flip-flops, and head out to feed the dogs and let them out of their pens for the day. As I walk through the dewy grass, enjoying the warm summer morning, I am greeted by an exuberant Timber. He is prancing about with his tail wagging wildly. In his mouth, he is daintily carrying a dead bird, and he is SO excited to show me.

Mmmm, who doesn’t just love disposing of a dead bird first thing after their morning coffee?

Then later that same week, we repeat this same story, except Timber has a dead mouse.

Then we repeat the story again, and he has a OPPOSUM.

Mind you, each of these creatures was caught by Timber while he was in his pen over night. This dog is a hunting ninja.

What’s very interesting about each of these incidents, is the demonstration of a bird dog’s “soft mouth.” Every time I have found Timber or one of the other dogs carrying a dead bird or rodent, the animal is physically undamaged. Bird dogs have an instinct to catch, hold, and retrieve birds without damaging their feathers. They do not have the instinct to bite or shred. The times that bird dogs do kill their hunted prey, they do it pretty much by playing with them. Which I will illustrate with this story.

We were enjoying a pleasant evening outside, sitting on our lawn chairs when we saw the dogs furiously digging. Then suddenly they all started a mad scramble in random directions. A very unwise mother rabbit had built a nest in our yard. She had managed to raise her babies partway to adulthood before our dogs found them. The dogs unearthed five baby rabbits. One hopped away to safety in our neighbor’s yard, and the other four were each scooped up by one of our dogs. Again, we saw the soft mouths in action. The dogs simply raced around the yard, carrying these live baby rabbits in their mouths. They would drop them in the grass, let them hop a few feet, pounce on them, and then pick them up again. Timber dropped his and rolled on it. Feeling sorry for the rabbits, we chased after the dogs. Unfortunately, two people chasing four dogs isn’t very successful. Of the four baby rabbits, only one was dead by the time we were able to round them up, and I think that was the one Timber rolled on multiple times.

This last summer tale is probably the one that makes me the most proud. ๐Ÿ™‚ We bought a batch of pheasant chicks this spring to raise for field training our Irish Setters. We kept them at our place for the first few weeks, and then we moved them to my parent’s place. (Otherwise, our setters would go crazy with a bunch of pheasants around!) When the chicks were almost big enough to move out, a couple escaped their pen when I opened the door to feed them. I was able to catch one of them, but the second one eluded me. He scampered about for several days, hiding in the bushes along the front of the house where the dogs can’t go. Pheasants like to hide in thick brush and bushes, and they can run FAST! They do fly, but they often try to outrun predators before taking to the air.

One afternoon, I found him pecking around the pen where the rest of the pheasants were. I tried to catch him, but he dashed into my tea patch. It was too thick for me to see where he was. Mia was out with me, and she saw the bird run into the tea patch. She flushed him out; and with surprising agility, she caught him! I was amazed! I had never seen Mia do something like that. She held him down with her paws- one paw over his head and the other over his body. When I tried to pick him up, he got away again, running at full speed with his wings flapping. I thought he was gone for good, but Mia raced after him, made a wild pounce, and caught him again! My heart nearly burst with pride.

It was so much fun to see those hunting instincts in my sweet, little Mia. Those inborn instincts to catch and hold are strong and can come out at the most unexpected times, even in dogs that have never been specifically trained to hunt.

That’s just a sampling of the fun and crazy things my dogs are doing this summer. If you have a good story of your hunting (or non-hunting) dog catching sometime crazy, I’d love to hear it!

Friday Introductions: Reese

Happy Friday, everyone! Here is another #FridayIntroductions post about the last human member of the family. (You can read the first two here and here.)

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My beautiful baby girl! Who is…

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SO BIG!

My sweet “baby” Reese was born in January of 2017. She has been such a huge blessing and joy to our family. I thank God every day that He has given me the opportunity to be her mother.

Here she is at just a few weeks old.

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To be honest, mothering wasn’t the easiest through the newborn stage for me. Reese was a great baby- she slept well and was certainly not a fussy baby. But the adjustment was a bit difficult for me. However, after a couple of months, this mama found her groove, and life with this kiddo has been awesome ever since. And I’m not kidding. This child is the best.

Now that she’s over a year old, we are having so much fun watching her personality blossom. She has a great sense of humor, and she loves the dogs!

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Reese is a very much her daddy’s daughter. She not only looks like him, but she acts like him! That is a mostly good thing, although the strong will and unrelenting determination to tackle big challenges can be tiring some days.ย  She is such a social butterfly and loves getting out of the house and being with people. She’s often the crankiest when she is at home with me all day long. I’m too boring, I guess. She’s also in the midst of a very curious stage, and she is into EVERYTHING. My kitchen cupboards are usually emptied, along with my bookshelves and game cupboard. It’s a fun stage, but it’s certainly a messy stage.

She has also recently begun climbing. And she is way too proud of her accomplishments!

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This kiddo keeps me on my toes, but she has made my life so much more fun than it ever was before. (And my idea of “fun” includes catching her upside down mid-tumble when she decides to try walking down stairs like an adult and breaking her fall when she tries to stand on the seat of her riding toy)

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It’s also a humbling stage, since she has begun mimicking things she sees me do. It’s such an eye-opening experience to have a miniature human copying your habits. It certainly is teaching me to be more thoughtful about the things I say and do. If I want to raise a gentle, gracious, and godly child, then I better be a gentle, gracious, and godly example.

It truly is amazing what God teaches you through children. He has taught me so much about pure, simple JOY. Life is so much simpler and happier through the eyes of a child. By experiencing such intense love for my child, I have begun to better understand His love for me, and that is a powerful thing. He has also taught me quite a bit about surrender. As a mama, I want nothing more than to keep my baby safe. But there is so much that is outside of my control. That’s when I need to surrender my child and her needs to God, because I recognize my own inability to be “perfect” and protect her from everything.

This post has turned out much more sentimental than I intended. ๐Ÿ™‚ Suffice it to say that I love my daughter, and I think she is the most fun kiddo around!

Enjoy your weekend!

 

First Post of the New Year

I feel like I have been Missing In Action the past month and a half. Poor Faith hasn’t had a blog post update since she was born. And weekly pictures? Phew, this poor darling hardly has any pictures taken of her.

But, we are all still here, just doing normal life. Mia healed very well from her c-section and is back to her happy, normal self. She will be getting about a year off before having another litter, but there isn’t any concern about her ability to carry and deliver more puppies naturally. Good news!

Dear Faith is growing like a weed. She’s already six weeks old! Weaning has been going slowly, but it can be that way with single pups. They don’t have the competition of other puppies for food, so they don’t really have much desire to try things other than mama’s milk. Otherwise, though, she’s doing very well! She’s active and is enjoying our puppy play dates with a litter of puppies from another breeder. She loves playing with our daughter, and our daughter is equally as delighted have a little buddy crawling around on the floor with her.

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As for our other dogs, we were hoping to have two litters this spring- one from Duchess and one from Jade. Duchess’s pregnancy is confirmed, and I was confident that Jade was pregnant, as well. However, she fooled us! An ultrasound showed no babies in there! She seems to be going through a bit of a false pregnancy, which is common with female dogs. They can show very convincing signs of pregnancy, even to the point of producing milk, but still not be pregnant. Typically, the hormones cycle through and everything goes back to normal all on its own. We’re still very excited for Duchess’s litter of Irish Setters, and we’ll try for some Mini Goldendoodle puppies from Jade again in the fall!

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Duchess, in the meantime, is eating up a storm! I’ve stopped counting how many cups of food I give her a day. She’s now approximately six weeks pregnant, which is the time that I begin free-feeding my mama’s. I let them eat as much food as they want, and I often supplement them with an egg or vitamin every day. Her belly is growing, and she’s slowing down a bit. She still runs, but she tires quickly. I should soon be able to feel the puppies moving when she is lying still. A few more weeks and then I’ll have some more sweet setter babies from these two gorgeous dogs!

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In other household news, my baby turned one this month! And she started walking! I suppose she is now my toddler and not so much my baby. That is a little hard for this mama to accept. She is my social, giggly little girl, and I thank God every day for allowing me to be her mother.

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Mmm, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic with the passing of the one year mark. Soak in the time with your loved ones this week. Life goes by much too quickly.

 

 

 

Friday Introductions: Zach

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you all are enjoying your day and looking forward to the weekend. Also, happy December 1st! (Yay! Now I officially don’t have to feel odd for listening to Christmas music- not that I did anyway in November.)

Today is another #FridayIntroductions post, and you all get to meet my amazing husband Zach. Please forgive me if I gush just a little bit in this post.

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Zach is a Lancaster County native, having actually lived much of his childhood in the house where we live now. He is 23 years old and is a hard-working, loving husband and father.

He is my opposite in nearly every possible way. As a child, he was one of those very boisterous, sometimes naughty boys. He was maybe also a bit too smart for his britches. He now tells me about all the ways he sneaked candy and did other things he knew he wasn’t allowed to do. I’m sure his mother would cringe if she heard some of the stories he tells me. He spent his childhood building bike ramps and teepees, picking on his sisters, and doing all sorts of other adventurous boy things.

In elementary school, his teachers couldn’t figure out how to keep him quiet and in his seat. In high school, he was still as talkative and social as ever. He irked me just a bit because while I studied hard for my good grades, he never studied and still got good grades. But I forgave this injustice when he spent his study halls helping me with Advanced Math homework.

Ever since graduating, Zach has worked as an electrician. I am very grateful for his hard work ethic, since that is one of the main reasons we are able to afford having me stay at home full-time with our little girl. He is also a great handyman, and he loves to be presented with a problem and come up with an out-of-the-box solution. He always has home-improvement projects going around the house, and I have to remind him frequently to take time to relax. (His response is usually, “But then I won’t get anything done!”)

One thing that surprises most people about Zach is his eye for colors and decorations. He is very detailed and organized, and he puts that to use in what our house looks like. He picked most of our paint colors and has done more of the decorating than I have. While I love having a nicely decorated house, I am not good at envisioning a final product. That’s why I’m glad he can help with the details!

Fun Facts:

  1. What he may lack in compassion, he makes up for in his faithfulness and determination.
  2. When we got Mia, he declared she wouldn’t be allowed in our bedroom. A few months later, he was the first one to cave and invite her onto our bed to sleep.
  3. He enjoys reading.
  4. He enjoys hunting- Mostly deer, but also pheasant and small game.
  5. He badly wanted a son but now has fallen head over heels in love with his daughter.
  6. He LOVES winter! The colder, the better!
  7. He hates clutter. I can ignore clutter, but it drives him nuts.
  8. He enjoys gardening and flowers. While he rarely buys me flowers, he often brings me fresh cut stems or bouquets from our flowers in the summer.
  9. He loves camping and being outdoors.
  10. He restored an antique John Deere B tractor that he got from his grandpa. He enjoys using it to plow our garden and do hayrides in the fall.

Enjoy these pictures and your weekend!

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Zach & Reese camping this summer

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Quality time with his favorite little girl

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Working on the nursery before Reese was born

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Hunting selfie

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Shooting clay birds at the cabin with his family

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Successful pheasant hunt with Duchess

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Plowing our garden with his tractor

 

Friday Introductions: Kristen

I’ve decided to do a few fun posts for #FridayIntroductions. (I’d like to do a post for each 2-legged and 4-legged member of the family. Don’t expect a post every Friday, though. I’ll probably post these sporadically as I have the time.)

I have had this blog for a little over two years now, and my list of followers has grown quite a bit during that time. Many of you know me personally or have at least met me, but there are a few of you who only know me through my blog. I realized that since most of my posts focus on my dogs and puppies, some of you may know very little about me.

So here I am! A 23-year-old momma to an amazing little girl and four very special dogs. I am married to this pretty awesome guy- Zach.

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Here are ten fun facts about me:

  1. I am an introvert, and I love getting quiet “alone time.”
  2. The job I’ve had most ill-fitted to my abilities was a part-time waitressing job I had during high school. Waitressing is a job that’s good for an extrovert. I found it stressful and draining.
  3. I hate socks. And shoes. I can tolerate flip flops, but I prefer to be barefoot year-round. (And, yes, I have gone barefoot in the snow on multiple occasions.)
  4. I love a good story, whether it’s a book, movie, or children’s story.
  5. When I am home alone for an evening, I indulge myself by making a snack and binge watching documentaries.
  6. I am not a very creative person.
  7. I had a pet raccoon as a child. And, yes, his name was Rascal. See what I mean about creative?
  8. All of my chickens have names- Mabel, Maggie, Emma, Sadie, Henny, and Penny. (We are on the the second Henny and the third Penny thanks to the neighborhood cats.)
  9. I want to get some Nigerian Dwarf Goats.
  10. I love to eat peanut butter. I pretty much eat it every day. In fact, I’m eating some while I’m typing this.

I am blessed to come from a loving home with, honestly, the best parents. I grew up (and still am!) a Mennonite. For those of you who are not familiar with the Amish and Mennonites, we are a conservative Christian community that strives to live out the principles of the Bible in our every day lives. Although we are certainly far from perfect, we do our best to live simple, godly lives full of love, family, and community.

As a child, I was always a homebody. I didn’t like going new places, unless there were animals there for me to play with. I have always loved animals, and my parents blessed me with a childhood full of them- dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, fish, salamanders, chickens, and, of course, Rascal the raccoon.

I am the youngest of three children. I have a brother and sister who are 12 and 9 years older than I am respectively. Without any siblings close in age, I spent a lot of my childhood playing with my cousins who lived next door. I also liked to read and write.

I thrived in school, as I loved to learn. I committed my life to Jesus Christ in middle school, and my relationship with Him grew during that time and especially in high school. (It still is a growing process!) It was in high school that I met this outgoing and irritating guy. It took a couple of years, but my initial judgment softened a bit and we started dating after 11th grade. (Spoiler: I marry my high school sweetheart a few years later!)

During my senior year of high school, I took a Teacher Apprenticeship class. I spent one period a day at the neighboring elementary school, working and teaching under the direction of one of their teachers. After graduating, I accepted a opportunity to do volunteer service as a teacher in a very small church school in northern Pennsylvania. I taught third grade and had four students. I taught school there and helped with some ministry work in the community for one school year before returning home.

After that, I began teaching second grade at a local private school- Shalom Mennonite School. My class size grew from four to seventeen! During that year, Zach and I got engaged and started planning our wedding for the following summer. Thinking I wouldn’t be able to balance the pressure of teaching and keeping after a home, I moved over to the school office after we got married. I spent the next few years working as a secretary at Shalom Mennonite School. I thoroughly enjoyed my quiet hours in the office. I still had the opportunity to interact with the students, but I didn’t have as much of a workload as a teacher.

I stopped working in December of 2016, preceding the birth of our first child in January of 2017. And that gets me to where we are now! I am currently a stay-at-home mom, and I am extremely grateful for the chance to stay home and raise my baby girl. Being at home full-time also gives me the ability to invest more time into our dogs and puppies, which is such a joy! During the summer months, I did a good bit of canning and freezing various fruits and vegetables. We got a lot of these, though not quite all, from our own garden. Now as we approach winter, I plan to do some scrapbooking and de-cluttering while I don’t have as much outside work. We’ll see how much I actually accomplish by spring.

That’s my 23 years of life in a small nutshell! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below!

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My tiny classroom from my first year teaching

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Wedding picture- June 14, 2014

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Hiking with Mia and Duchess

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My first chicks

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Pheasant hunting with Duchess

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The most recent picture of me with Reese!

National Dog Day 2017

Happy National Dog Day! In honor of this special day, here is a mish-mash of pictures of my dogs from today.

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I just love that happy Golden smile and the distracted setter stare.

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Timber and Mia having a good chase.

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I finally got some decent pictures of this handsome boy. He’s always on the move, so it’s hard to catch him in a nice pose.

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There’s nothing quite as beautiful as a setter on point! (This isn’t a true point, but he’s alert and scenting something interesting.)

Of course, I can’t do a blog post without a puppy update! Duchess and her babies are doing very well! Duchess is back to her happy, lively self; and all the puppies are growing and active. In comparison to the first week, the last two weeks have been a BREEZE! I feel like we are back on track and back to normal. Praise God! The puppies’ eyes have opened, and they are on their unsteady little feet. We have added a potty area for them, and they are already beginning to use it and keep their bed a little cleaner. (These setters are going to be some sharp little pups!)

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This is my happy place.

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Magnum

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Enjoy this beautiful, sunny weekend! Post a picture of your dog on National Dog Day in the comments- I love seeing your furry friends!