As usual, life on the farm is crazy. We have had some really big ups, and some pretty serious downs, over the past few months. Those of you that live, or have lived, on a farm can understand this.

We had to say good bye to the old man last week. Ipcaas has been a part of the family, and a giant presence in the barn for 16 years. For a Great Pyrenees to live 16 years is a feat all on its own. He served us well, protecting the two- and four-legged creatures that were under his watch. I have seen him cuddle kittens that were cold, and I have seen him take out an animal that threatened harm to his family. He will be sadly missed.

While we have brought in new guardians of the farm, and I assure you they are loved, none will take the old man's place.

We had a visitor a couple of months ago. While the girls were doing chores, Ayana came in to let me know that there was something screaming in the woods. I went out to listen and sure enough, what I believe was a bob cat, was screaming like crazy. I took DelGado with me to go check the horses and cow. I walked straight behind the barn to the creek. Just across the creek sat a coyote. He just stared at me. My dog sat beside me.

At that point, I called my son to bring a gun out. The coyote took off after a few threats from me. Apparently he was not afraid of DelGado. I walked around the southeast side of the woods, and then came up the back side of the creek. I had informed my son that I thought we had a cat in the woods as well as a coyote. As I came up to the creek, DelGado had wandered over to the north end. I heard him bark and then yelp.

I heard my son's car. I thought the dog was going to meet him. Suddenly, here comes son Anthony barreling over the gate and running like a crazed man through the creek, gun (loaded!) in hand. What in the world!

"Are you OK mom?" he asked, as if I had just had a battle of some sort.

"Yeah, is that gun loaded?" And since it was, I gave him a tongue lashing I hope he will not soon forget.

Unbeknownst to me, DelGado was being chased out of the woods by... something? It wasn't a coyote, so maybe a cat.

Now the funny part. Anthony was scared that something had happened to me. Which I appreciate. I mean who could ask for a better son than one that comes running to your rescue? I tried to tell him there was nothing I was afraid of in that woods.

He asked what I would have done had that cat come at me. Simply put? I would have taken him apart with my bare hands is what I told him as I made a clawing motion with my hands.

I was telling this story to my daughter, Ashley. But I came to find out, that just before she came for a visit they had a coyote in their yard. She went running out the door and told Paul to grab the gun. After it all was said and done, Paul asked her what she would have done if those coyote had come after her.

Her response? She would take them apart with her bare hands!

Must be a farmer girl genetic thing!

And as I said, there have been many ups to the farm this year. Ayana traveled to Wisconsin to participate in the 2017 American Dairy Goat Association nationals. With 2,600 animals entered, this is quite the event of the dairy goat world. People travel from coast-to-coast to participate, and this show has the best of the best.

Ayana was thrilled as she brought home the premier junior doe for the Sable breed and the premier junior doe for the Recorded Grade breed. She also placed 6th in showmanship. What a trip!

She traveled with another farm that she shows for, and they had 40+ head on the trailer. I got to stay home and take care of ours and goat-sit for the farm that she shows for. There is something wrong with this picture!

I have not started canning yet. No, I don't put out a garden. Now if they had a competition for the prettiest weed beds I would win -- hands down! There are just not enough hours in the day to keep a garden. So Bush's Market becomes my best friend from July 4th until Oct. 31st. I will attempt to can pickle relish, kraut and maybe a few green beans this year. With our family only consisting of 4 at home, canning season is much easier. I have always loved to can, but the goat business consumes much of my time.

I haven't told Anthony yet, but I have started buying some fabric for the holidays. When our oldest passed away nine years ago, I decided that I would no longer shop for Christmas, but would make everything.

Now, knowing that I make all the gifts, you might wonder why I haven't let Anthony know that I have started purchasing fabric for this year. Well, there is a space issue, with the fabric. And the fact that there is no more space for fabric.

"Hello! My name is Shelley and I am addicted to fabric!"

My goal this year is to use almost all that I have hoarded. (While I use the term "hoarded" lightly, Anthony doesn't!) I want everyone to have a good Christmas. Besides, once I have used most of it up I can go buy more! I keep telling Anthony I could have worse habits. I am not sure he agrees with that.

Judging season is coming to an end. Today I will judge my last show for the 2017 show season. This is one of my favorite things to do. I get the opportunity to work with the youth as well as the animals. I judge several shows throughout the year and get the chance to meet some of Indiana's finest youth.

This year, I judged the Elkhart county show. I was excited when they asked me to come to their show. I had never been that far north in Indiana. I have lived in Japan, but never been to Goshen. I judged Jackson County this summer. That is one of my favorite shows as it brings back many wonderful memories. I have pictures of my dad showing cattle there, and this is where we started showing goats many years ago.

We hauled into the Indiana State Fair on Aug. 17th. I love the Indiana State Fair, but this year was bittersweet. This is Ayana's 10th year in 4H and an end to an era for Anthony and me. Ayana is our seventh child to put through the 4H program.

I am so blessed to live on my little farm. There is God's beauty everywhere I look. Make sure you take the time to look around and be grateful for the beauty that God has put in your life!