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This is my latest post for the Hoard’s Dairyman Blog – HD Notebook.

I’ve never been one to set a big New Year’s resolution. I guess with the farm always throwing curve balls at my life, it just feels too heavy of a thing to take on. But, I do enjoy the rolling over of a new year. A fresh date just seems like a new start. It’s another chance to re-examine directions and set some goals.

Last year, I stumbled upon a concept that I really like. In my personal life, I had a rough year. I found myself needing something to carry me through. That ended up being one word; happiness. I made it my daily frame of mind to appreciate the little things in life. I consciously chose to be happy. Let me just say it wasn’t always easy, but training my mind to that one word made a huge difference.

I found out at the end of last year that this is actually a concept that has been picking up momentum. There are several books written about the power of just one word. Oneword365.com describes it as “your one word is intended to be your guide, not your harsh standard. It’s not about doing more, but about being who you were created to be.”

Looking at the forecast for the dairy industry in 2018, it could be easy to pick our one word as; survive. Trust me I have found myself more times then not lately letting the negatives seep deeply into my frame of mind. This way of life often makes it difficult to see the positives.

I challenge you to take part this year; we will call it a little mental health exercise! Take a look at your farm, your life, and your goals for 2018. Pick one word that you can positively tune into your brain to set your frame of mind to accomplish what’s needed for this year. Let that one word be your guide. I know it seems like such a simple thing, but I think if you give it a try you’ll find there really is power in just one word for the new year. {Original post A New Year, A New Word can be found here}

The post Hoard’s Dairyman – New Year, New Word appeared first on Guernsey Dairy Mama.

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It’s that time again as we roll into a new year, which means it’s time for The 2017 Country Christmas Connection reveal!

I have to admit that the hustle and bustle of the holidays this year had me completely playing catch up as the host for the second year of this exchange! I feel like I owe all the participants a bit of an apology! Life it just a bit much some times right?! Well a bit behind schedule and mushed up, but glad to be taking some new connections into my new year!

This year my package arrived all the way from Minnesota and from a fellow dairy farmer Mike! Mike truly knows my first love, and 3 bags of coffee arrived! It was literally perfect timing as I was needing some new coffee. In case you didn’t know, dairy farmers run on caffeine! It has been great to get to know Mike and his family and follow along with him on Instagram. I have to admit that this temperate winter Oregon girl, does not envy the real winters they face in Minnesota. Sending you warm vibes Mike!

I enjoyed putting together my gift this year for another fellow dairy enthusiast. I sent a little taste of my local Oregon to Dawn in Illinois. And also had to hunt down the perfect gnome to add to her collection. After scouring my entire town, I finally found the one tiny gnome and perfect addition to my gift!

I always enjoy adding new dairy friends to my circle and am glad to add these two this year! Of course a big shout out to my fellow co host Jenny from Keeping Ag Real. We have a lot of fun behind the scenes and I honestly couldn’t do this without help! This year it seems we needed more!! Thanks to all our participants, you of course are the ones that make this fun and happen! Check out the blog links for other connections here and also watch the hasttag #TCCC17!

Happy New Year, cheers to new connections, may they flourish in 2018!!!

The post 2017 Country Christmas Connection Reveal appeared first on Guernsey Dairy Mama.

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Guernsey Dairy Mama by Guernseydairymama - 5M ago

The post Happy Moo Year appeared first on Guernsey Dairy Mama.

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Guernsey Dairy Mama by Guernseydairymama - 5M ago

The post Thank You 2017 appeared first on Guernsey Dairy Mama.

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Guernsey Dairy Mama by Guernseydairymama - 5M ago

Wow! I am not even sure how to summarize 2017 for Abiqua Acres! It has been a huge year, with trials but mostly successes. Of course our biggest news is finally transitioning our herd into our new robotic facility. I know I owe some apologies as I have been horrible at updating here on the blog on how everything went. If you were following along on social media, either Facebook or Instagram, you got a much better look. I’ll quickly summarize here in my 2017 Year End Review: Farm.

Last year as I looked back we were honestly expecting to already be robot dairy farmers by 2016. Big projects take, well, a long time! Luckily there were no big hang ups in the construction process, it all just took a bit longer then expected.  We were finally ready for cows in the new barn on January 10th. You can read all about their First Week in the Barn. We started milking the first group of cows on January 17th and milked our last group of cows in the old parlor on January 20th. It just happened to be my Dad’s birthday, what a special celebration!

Everyone will you tell you that start up, as it’s called, is a special kind of “challenge”. There were many more colorful words we’ve heard! We were prepared for the worst, but optimistic that our start up would go smoothly. Not to brag, but it went more then smoothly! I don’t think there’s ever been an easier start up! We had a lot of elements working in our favor. Especially similarities to our old parlor that made a huge difference in our success. The Ladies just took naturally to our set up and moved through smoothly. It was so fun to watch them learn the system and just set their own schedules. Cows are intelligent creatures and that is really proven in a robotic facility.

By one week in, things were sailing smoothly. The cows adapted so well and we were happy robot farmers! I know that all sounds rainbows and sunshine and while we couldn’t have asked for a better start, this year has been about learning. We’ve navigated some system issues, that the team worked quickly to solve. A few tiny design change elements. And just overall devoted ourselves to really digging in and learning all we can. It really is a change of management to move out of the parlor and trust the system and all the information the robots provide us.

We are very happy with our decision to move to robotic milking. There has not been a time in the past year that we’ve regretted it! It’s offered our family the lifestyle flexibility that was needed. And exceeded our goals for cow care and comfort. We are looking forward to continuing our learning into the new year and meeting some goals we have for our herd.

A few views of the finished barn!

That doesn’t mean this past year was without trials. There were definitely days and elements we felt frustrated with. Our current focus is on feeding and getting the partial mix ration just right to meet the needs of the whole herd. Struggling with feeding can be a very frustrating, as it is one of the most important elements. It’s just finding a way to balance all the needs with our goals and a low milk price.

When you hit go, on a project of this size like we did two year ago, there’s no way to predict where your milk paycheck is going to sit. It’s just part of the roller coaster of the milk pricing system. There are high years and low years. This past year, just happened to end up low. Which puts an extra stress on everyone as we transitioned through. It looks like we will continue to weather low prices through the first quarter, at least, of 2018. Just more encouragement for us to be resourceful robot farmers and really dig into learning as much as we can to do on our own.

Prices aside, Mother Nature also choose to throw us for another loop this past year. Instead of drought like in 2015, it started raining October 1st, forcing us to shut the cows in early. Then continued to be record rainfall all through winter and spring. Finally by May 1st, with our winter feed pretty much gone, we had to turn the cows out to pasture. That is the latest turn out to pasture that anyone can remember! It continued to rain for the next month and the soppy conditions presented it’s own grazing challenges. It also meant that by the time we were able to turn out, the grass was already a month ahead of the cows. This meant about 75% of our pastures were going to end up overgrown and just not good feed for dairy cows. We made the decision, for the first time, to bring in a silage crew to get things under control.

The extra month in the barn did allow us to really get the cows tuned into the robots before adding in the element of grazing. Grazing provides it’s own challenges to robotic milking. There are even those who say grazing can’t be accomplished with robots. Taking our cows off pasture was not something we wanted to consider. So we again used this first grazing season as a learning one. I definitely can’t say we have it all figured out, but the cows didn’t completely fail either. Our biggest tool was the pasture exit gate. This gate doesn’t allow cows to go to the pasture that need to be milked. It was so fun, yet again, to watch the cows learn this new element. The Ladies really picked it up quickly!

Quietest first day out to pasture, Abiqua Acres Assault Jazzelle, pasture exit gate, a look at how tall the grass was on first turn out.

All the while it was business as usual through it all. The cows continued to make milk and calves. It was exciting to watch production increase just a bit. Shipping 1,390,273lbs or 161,659 gallons this year. Most exciting was our fat test which has sat just below 5%! Getting a few of the trials worked out will really allow us to fine tune and hit some production goals we know our herd is capable of.

We had 40 heifer calves in 2017

Welcome to: Joey, Darleen, Raindance, Nova, Moody, Cathleen, Superb, Better & Best, Secret, Spritz, Jazzin, Blueday, Jakarah, Roadster, Magnolia, Fawcett, Shade, Lilo, Jazztour, Jessenia, Babe, Jordan, Breella, Lullabye, Jinx, Snowdrift, Florence, Mojito, Bentley, Jet, Mesmerized, Alissa, Ida, Jayne, Resolved, Leftovers, Frances, Elranchero and Jubilee.

Clockwise: Cutest face of 2017 of course belongs to a bull! Darleen, Ida, Lullabye, Better and Raindance.

We also said goodbye to a number of good cows this year. Just seemed to be a year of bad luck for some of our older Ladies. We started out the year with 11 Ladies over 100,000lbs lifetime, a goal we have for all herd. And lost 5 of them in 2017. Our oldest cow Abiqua Acres Lewis Breezy is still going strong and broke a lifetime production record here with 202,244lbs in 9 lactations. She is currently dry and we are looking forward to her starting her 10th lactation in the new year. We love celebrating those productive old cows. Our highest completed ecm milk record went to Abiqua Acres Iceberg Jacky this year with 25,754. With the multiple milkings a day possibility with the robots, it was also exciting to see some cows peaking over 100lbs a day. Abiqua Acres Aarons Marna and Abiqua Acres Toby’s Bluedawn were competing with 120lbs a day for one week this summer. So exciting to see the possibilities with the robots.

This year saw us with two classification dates. Welcoming two new excellents, Abiqua Acres Alstar Lucky and Abiqua Acres Crunch Jellene. We also saw our first Jersey, Riversong Riley Blest, go excellent. Several Ladies also moved into the high 80’s. Abiqua Acres Alstar Jenette, Abiqua Acres Royall Quebec Monita and Abiqua Acres Geo Bree move to VG 88. And at VG 87 this year is Abiqua Acres Aaron Edelman and Abiqua Acres Gary Lillian. It is always fun to watch the herd develop and there are many first lactation cows that have us excited as well. December’s proof run also brought us the excitement of Abiqua Acres Levi’s Jaeger being released as a young sire with Accelerate Genetics. His dam Abiqua Acres Prestique Jesusita still holds such a special place in my heart. Jaeger’s genomic numbers are promising for what he can offer the Guernsey breed. We are proud and pleased to see him released.

Clockwise: Abiqua Acres Levi’s Jaeger 14G474, Alstar Lucky, Crunch Jellene both EX 90, Lewis Breezy lifetime production, Aaron Marna and Toby Bluedawn of the 120lb club.

I can definitely say it was a big sigh of relief to have our transition into the new barn go so well in 2017. This year was all about learning! I want to give a big thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way. From every farm we visited over the last few years, who helped us to make the decision to go robotic. Many of whom I now consider dear friends and appreciate the opportunity to continue to tap into their knowledge. To every single person who made our dream a reality; DeLaval sales team, who are so much more then salemen and your hours in the barn were so appreciated, the whole Kroes construction team and Northwest Dairy Services, DeLaval installation team and everyone I’m sure I’m forgetting. This year would not have gone as smoothly as it did without the help! Thank You!

Looking back at the 2017 Year End Review: Farm always makes me excited for the future. Here at Abiqua Acres we want to wish you all a very Happy New Year for 2018. May the milk tank be full and prices high, the year healthy for cows and farmers alike, and 2018 a year of prosperity for the whole dairy industry.

The post 2017 Year End Review: Farm appeared first on Guernsey Dairy Mama.

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Guernsey Dairy Mama by Guernseydairymama - 5M ago

Yet again some how we find ourselves at the end of another year! It’s at this time that I enjoy looking back on the past year and remembering all that has happened. 2017 was yet again another whirlwind of a year! A full and busy farm schedule left things rather quite here on the blog as I focused on our transition to robotics. But I still enjoyed having my own space to share my story. Here’s a look at the 2017 Year End Review: Agvocacy.

Just as I predicted last year, things were really rather neglected here on the blog. I really just needed to be on the farm and focus on our herd. That left little time with my keyboard. I will say that my biggest goal for 2018 is to get back to a consistent blog schedule, right here! Even though I only published 25 posts this year, I still saw a steady growth of traffic to Guernsey Dairy Mama. I’ve enjoyed every comment and email that have headed my way in 2017 from followers. Writing will always be my first passion and I am looking forward to reconnecting with that love in 2018! My personal two favorite posts from this last year were Every Farmer’s Vow and Happily Ever Farmer. While farm life kept us busy, personal trial also tested my resolve this year. That is reflected in my top posts this year, as I shared a very emotional journey with you all. My top 5 most viewed posts were:

  1. I had a Miscarriage
  2. Finding Happiness Through Loss
  3. First week in the Barn
  4. Finally out to Pasture
  5. I was at the First Thanksgiving

I was so privileged to continue my journey with the Hoard’s Dairyman blog team in 2017. While my blog here was sporadic with posts, having the Hoard’s deadlines at least kept me consistently writing this past year. I have really enjoyed continuing to write for my peers in the dairy industry. And enjoy the challenge that the change of audience provides to my writing. This year I wrote 21 posts for Hoard’s Dairyman Blog HD Notebook. I shared some of them here as well, but you can find all of my posts here. One of my posts even made it onto the best blogs of 2017 list. Is it Time for Supply Management generated some great conversation. It has been great to hear other farmer’s thoughts on the issues surrounding our milk supply and pricing problems. I am very much looking forward to continuing to write for Hoard’s in 2018!

While I was rather quite here in blog posts, I still enjoyed actively sharing our story in social media on Facebook and Instagram. It has been fun and engaging to double my followers on both platforms this year. Reaching more people then I continue to think is possible! The power of social media is so amazing to me. And even as algorithms change and there are often times I feel completely clueless as to how to successfully share my story. The fact that we have places where we can reach thousands of people every day blows me away! I just love connecting my followers to our life on the farm! And I am thankful for these two platforms that allow my voice to reach so many. I know some big challenges and changes are coming to the way that blogs get to reach their target audiences in 2018. I will continue to use both Facebook and Instagram. And hope that there is a way for those of us without a budget to put into it, can continue to share our story. Which social media platform in your favorite to use?

Last year saw some huge opportunists for me off of the farm. This year with our transition limited any travel, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t continue to agvocate offline as well. Build it and they will come, could be our theme for 2017, as we moved into our new barn. Robotics are a big attraction for those seasoned in the dairy industry and visiting a farm for the first time. There were times I think we had groups stopping by every week! I am glad we took the time to consider tours into our new barn design and lay out and have really enjoyed sharing it with all our visitors.

The first big group to join us came just 3 weeks after we started up. The Oregon Women for Agriculture annual convention was hosted by our county and provided the perfect opportunity. They just were an all around great group to be the first to bring through our barn in early February. I also joined the OWA convention as an attendee and had the opportunity to speak on a panel with fellow Oregon blogger Nutty Grass. We talked about our blogs and journeys with social media. February also saw me attending the Oregon Dairy Farmer’s Annual Convention again. But just as an attendee this year. I did enjoy getting to meet in person one of my fellow west coast social media dairy farmer’s, the Foggy Bottoms Boys. I also enjoyed engaging with our legislators again during Dairy Day at the Capital in March. Then again I came back to the capital in June to testify for the first time. In front of the Natural Resources Committee on technology in the dairy industry. That was an opportunity I soon won’t forget and one I had never considered for myself before. So I lied, I did manage one, quick 48 hour trip, to Chicago to catch a social media training with Dairy Management Inc as they launched their new campaign, Undeniably Dairy.

The rest of whole year we continued to host countless dairyman, even some international, school groups and industry members through our new facility. One of my favorite tours of the year was with a group of Dietician students from Oregon Health and Science University. None of them had been on a dairy farm before and there was some amazing questions and conversations that took place that day. Tours can be a lot of work, but nothing beats getting people first hand experience on a farm! I look forward to possibilities we can continue to explore with tours into the coming year.

Bottom to Top: OWA first tour group, OWA Blog Panel, Oregon Capital during Dairy Day, a calf born during a college class tour, Family photoshoot for DeLaval, Tour with fellow farmers, ODFA Convention, Testifying in the Oregon Capital, OHSU Dietician Student Tour.

2017 I hope was an equally rewarding year for all of my readers! I know there are many of us who faced great challenges in 2017 and I am personally ready to see the year roll over. But looking back at 2017 Year End Review: Agvocacy I am so thankful for the many opportunities I continued to have to share my story. Both online and offline I appreciate every moment that connects me to those I aim to reach.

Cheers to 2017! I hope if you also take the time to look back that you appreciate the opportunities that came your way as well! Blessings to you all into 2018. I am looking forward to sharing more of story in the new year!

The post 2017 Year End Review: Agvocacy appeared first on Guernsey Dairy Mama.

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This is my latest post for Hoard’s Dairyman Blog – HD Notebook. It’s a post that had long been in the works and I believe deserves is proper place here on my blog as well!

We all have something that makes our farm unique, and we all have differing ways of accomplishing our goals as dairy farmers. For me, one of our farm’s standout differences is our herd of registered Guernseys. I am often answering the question, “Why Guernseys?”

The easiest answer would be rooted in our history. Three generations of our family have worked with this breed accounting for over 65 years, as our farm’s first registered Guernsey was purchased in 1952. There are still descendants of that original cow in our herd today. I don’t know the exact story behind my Grandpa’s decision to purchase his first Guernsey, beyond his admiration for the breed, but it was obviously a wise choice.

We have been a 100 percent Guernsey herd since about 1995 when the last grade Holstein was finally sold. Guernseys just fit our farm philosophy, and matched or exceeded their black and white counterparts on energy corrected milk. Meeting our production goals has been feasible with a medium-sized cow that can effectively convert feed at the bunk and in the pasture into high-quality milk with high fat and protein.

Guernseys also as a breed have gained the nickname of Golden Guernseys not just from their coloring, but also from the coloring of their milk. I still get a kick out of people wondering about the golden yellow color of our ladies’ milk, which comes from its higher beta-carotene content.

Since we currently have room in our new barn, we house a handful of Jerseys as well. Having finally been introduced to another breed this past year, I am even more appreciative of the Guernsey cow’s docile personality and easy handling. At the same time, Guernseys are still aggressive enough to compete at the bunk and be successful in mixed breed operations. It really is the perfect combination that makes the Guernsey’s temperament a pleasure to work with.

I guess having really known nothing else but the Guernsey breed growing up and for the majority of my dairy career so far I was rather naïve to its many advantages. Even more of those have been revealed by research and genomics. The Guernsey breed has no known recessives, while other breeds have documented undesirable genetic recessive disorders. Guernseys also as a breed have the highest percentage of A2A2 animals, adding yet another quality point to already unique milk. I have a little confession on my last point, calving ease. I honestly didn’t even know this was a common issue on other farms, as we very rarely have to assist with our Guernseys at calving time.

There’s a reason Guernsey’s current slogan is “Take a Look at us Now.” As a whole as a breed we are doing a better job at embracing the Guernsey cow for what it is, with its many natural breed advantages. Are you considering another breed to add to your herd or crossbreeding for improvements? I encourage you to consider Guernseys. I am proud that these fawn and white cows have given me a unique position in this industry. And I’m proud to continue to work with the Guernsey breed in the future. {Read Why we have Guernseys here}

The post Hoard’s Dairyman – Why Guernseys appeared first on Guernsey Dairy Mama.

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“First Thanksgiving at Plymouth,” Jeannie Brownscombe, 1914

I’ve always felt a special connection to Thanksgiving. There is just something so special about devoting time to being Thankful for all that we have in our life. The preparation of a big meal, done lovingly by family members. A warm house with the noise of young cousins. The start of a magical holiday season, that in my mind does not start until the day after! Yes, I am one of those true Thanksgiving believers that Christmas needs to wait it’s turn! This could all be because well, I truly do have a connection to this holiday, I was at the first Thanksgiving.

Now obviously doing the math, it is impossible for me to be alive since 1621. Being a history lover, I am lucky to have a genealogy lover in my family, my mother. She has traced many lines of our family back to our roots. My father’s mother’s side just happens to descend from William and Susanna White’s son Resolved White. They were 3 of the 102 passengers aboard the Mayflower, but not members of the 37 people of the Leiden congregation. William an English merchant staked his life on bringing his family to the New World. He was unfortunately one of the 45 that lost their life that first winter. I can’t imagine the thought process that went into making the decision to come to the New World.

As I look at the list of family names, it is Susanna’s that I applaud. She made the journey on the Mayflower with 5 year old Resolved and 6 months pregnant. I don’t know about you, but spending the whole third trimester of pregnancy jostled aboard the Mayflower took a strength I am sure none of us can fathom.   Mere days after anchoring in the harbor of Cape Cod she gave birth to Peregrine, the first child born to the immigrants in America. Remarkably, Susanna, Resolved and Peregrine all made it through the first winter. She was one of the only 4 women to survive. I can’t imagine the hardships faced and all that she endured.

While history will probably never truly know all the details of the story of the first Thanksgiving, I appreciate the fact that we can celebrate that first feast. When the Mayflower pilgrims and the Wampanoag sat down for the first Thanksgiving in 1621, it wasn’t probably that big of a deal. Likely, it was just a routine English harvest celebration, that their neighbors and allies joined in. And also very likely looked nothing like the depiction above. The menu for certain looked nothing like it does today. The only item that history notes for sure, was the 5 deer that the Wampanoag brought to share. I am sure no matter what the settlers did manage to harvest and enjoy, was completely celebrated. As for the first time they had provisions going into the winter. The work that took to provide that bounty is in no doubt a feat that deserves celebration. More notable—and less remembered—was the peace treaty that the parties established seven months earlier, which lasted for 50 years. Obviously later history paints a true brutal picture of relationships with Native Americans, but this first generation I think can truly celebrate the alliance that was formed. Without it, the immigrants would not have likely survived.

So as you enjoy your meal today, that was likely harvested from the local grocery story, (thank goodness and thanks to all our farmers across the country) take a minute to think of all those that were present at the first Thanksgiving. Immigrants and Native Americans alike. Many of us can trace our American lines back to members of the Mayflower, and say I was at the First Thanksgiving. And today I will celebrate Susanna White, my 10th Great Grandmother.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The post I was at the First Thanksgiving appeared first on Guernsey Dairy Mama.

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Signups for The Country Christmas Connection are now OPEN
Click Here after reading the rules below!

Jenny and I are excited to again bring you The Country Christmas Connection! A rural secret Christmas gift exchange. We are so glad you are here to sign up! After you have read the rules and requirements below, click the sign up link above. After completing the form you will be ready to share the holiday spirit and make new connections!

Dates to Remember

  • November 13 – signups begin
  • November 27 – signups close
  • December 2 – receive your recipients name via e-mail
  • December 7 – Canadian shipping deadline
  • December 14 – Shipping deadline within the U.S.
  • January 5 – link up to reveal your Country Christmas Connection opens
  • January 5-12 – share on your favorite social about your TCCC experience. If you blog add your post to the link up

How the Exchange Works:
First you need to read and review the rules and expectations of the exchange below. If it sounds like a good fit for you then fill out the sign-up form above so we can get all of your important information. Then, after sign-ups close you will receive a name – do your research (be sure to keep this a secret, don’t let them know that you have their name), then pick and send the perfect gift! Be sure to include a note in your gift revealing who you are and your info so your person can contact you to say thank you! In the mean time, someone else is doing their research on you and your gift is on it’s way! When you receive a gift, snap some pictures and thank your sender! Then, on Jan 5th-12th, share on your favorite social about your experience and the gift you received. If you blog then link it up the party linkup we share. All  in the spirit of making new connections with like minded rural lovers in the spirit of holiday fun!

Rules of the Exchange:
Each participant must fill out an information form. This information will be sent to another who will be your Secret Santa- Secret Social Pal. You in turn will receive a name and information of a person whom you will be sending a gift. (All exchanging of information is done via email, so please provide an email in the sign up form that you check on a regular basis! We promise to the best of our ability that your information will only be used for the exchange.)

 Each participant needs to post on their blog or favorite social about the exchange.  This year we are opening the exchange to rural individuals that are active on any platform of social media.  Open to US, Canada and all international requests. Please note international outside of Canada will have to be reviewed before approval for shipping match ups and dates. Be kind to us this year as we open this up a bit and work through the logistics!  After you’ve signed up post on your blog or  favorite social using the hashtag #TCCC17. Make sure to share and invite others who would enjoy the experience! The more the merrier!

Everyone who signs up will send and receive a gift. Once you receive your persons name and information, head on over to their blog and other social media sites and take a minute to secretly get to know them. The more you can learn about your person, the more personal you can make your gift. Suggested price range for gifts is around $20.  (Local and handmade is encouraged, highlighting what is special about your area, state, commodity or special Christmas tradition. Keep in mind what you’ve learned from your research of your recipient to make it thoughtfully personal!) Also make sure to include a note revealing and introducing who you are, your blog, social channels and the best way to contact you for a Thank You.

Packages must be sent by Shipping Deadlines. When mailing your package you must be sure to include a tracking number. Once you have mailed your package by the deadline you must send the tracking number to your host. If the hosts do not hear from you by the 7th for Candadian/International or 14th for U.S., we will be emailing you to ask for the information! We know this time of year is busy, but please help us out when you sign up for the exchange by being willing and able to meet this deadline. We do not want anyone left out!! Also please make sure to provide an address in the sign up form to a secure location where you are certain to receive your gift – PO Box, office, etc. – if you don’t trust your home doorstep. (We as hosts are not responsible for unsent, lost or stolen packages.)

When you receive your package from your Secret Social Pal connect and say Thank You!  Post to your favorite social media channel with the tag #TCCC17 and tag your sender in it. Follow along with their blog and social channels. Also make sure to send them a personal Thank You note through their preferred contact. This is all about the connection you make in sending and receiving your gift.

Blog posts need to be posted on your blog and linked up between January 5th-12th. The hosts will post the new linkup for the blog posts on their blogs January 5th. You will be notified by e-mail when the link up is open. Please make sure to add your post to the link up no later then January 12th. Not a blogger, be sure to post to your favorite social with the traceable hashtag #TCCC17 on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Please make it a permanent post, so no Insta stories or Snaps.  Take the time to browse, comment and connect with all the Secret Social Pals who participated!

Share the love! Please take a minute to connect and follow the host blogs, and like their Facebook pages and social channels – this will help to remind you of all the important dates coming up for the exchange.

Jenny – Keeping Ag Real

Jenny@keepingagreal.com

Keeping Ag Real on Facebook

Twitter

Darleen – Guernsey Dairy Mama

guernseydairymama@gmail.com

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 We would love it if you would share about the swap on your blog, Facebook page, or favorite social – the more the merrier!  Don’t forget the tag #TCCC17, browse through the tags to discover some new bloggers and share the excitement of the exchange.

*Host Disclaimer: We are looking forward to hosting and organizing The Country Christmas Connection and hope you will be patient with us as we work out the kinks in opening this up for our second year. We also need your help to make this a successful and fun exchange. If you plan to participate, you must be willing to agree to all the points above. The only way this works and is fair for everyone is for you to fully participate. If you can’t agree to any point above then this exchange is not for you. Failure to fully participate will result in our asking you not to participate again. We can’t stress enough that this is about the connections you will make and hope you will find value, joy and fun in that as well!*

We are so excited to see all The Country Christmas Connections that are made this year!

Thank you for signing up! SIGN UP FORM HERE

If you have any questions or concerns at any time don’t hesitate to contact us at the e-mail addresses above. Also be sure to check out our announcement podcast for a little background information about how this exchange came together and have evolved in this second year!

May your holiday season be merry and bright,

                                           ~Darleen & Jenny

The post 2017 Signup for The Country Christmas Connection appeared first on Guernsey Dairy Mama.

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Guernsey Dairy Mama by Guernseydairymama - 8M ago

This year has been tough.

And as I dressed in black for the third time this year this past weekend, I couldn’t help but feel this year has been unfair. Suicide, cancer, car accident, three funerals that shouldn’t have happened continue to break my heart into a million pieces. I thought it couldn’t break anymore as this year has also brought our own personal losses through miscarriage.  Along with a news reel that seems to only highlight a bad and difficult year around the world. As grief has clouded my heart, it has felt almost impossible at times to look beyond it.

This year has been tough. But it has taught me a very valuable lesson.

There is no getting over grief. There is no appropriate time frame for grief to last. Grief becomes as much a part of your story as any other aspect of our lives. It’s how we let it dictate our decisions and emotions that matter.

And let me just say it’s ok to feel sad, to give into those emotions that at times feel like they could crush you with their weight. Everything can feel so in your face and overwhelming. Other times it comes as numbness, a lack of feeling that is almost the scarier emotion. It is tempting at times to let those emotions rule your every decision. This is where I have learned this year.

Coming out on the other side of grief is an intentional choice. A choice to choose happiness. To look at the world and still see the light and the good and the pure amazingness around you. That choice of happiness can be so hard some days. So very hard, but by making it an intentional choice it has the power to move the grief to another place that lacks complete power over your day.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the many versions of the same thought “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react”. I have often led my life as a bit of a control freak. I like to plan ahead and be prepared, it is just in my nature. This year has completely thrown me out of control and humbled me in having to be in charge of my reactions.

There has been many occasions I have wanted to choose anything but happiness. I have now truly come to believe that everything else is so much easier to let go. It is healthy and helpful to identify those other negative emotions, but in the end it is happiness that is best left to blossom in your heart.

I could ramble on this topic for quite some time. My thoughts and emotions on it seem to still swirl in so many different directions. But I have noticed such a difference in my emotions, in my ability to let go of petty troubles in my life and truly focus on what matters, simply by choosing happiness.

This year has been tough. But there are 60 more days in it and I refuse to let my grief cloud all the happy moments this year has brought us as well. I challenge you to open your heart to happiness and watch the transformation it can bring to your life.

The post Finding Happiness Through Loss appeared first on Guernsey Dairy Mama.

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