Take Us Out to the Ballgame!

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I’m not sure how we get to do such fun stuff but Lord, keep it coming.

We went to the Ball Game!

The West Michigan Whitecaps is our Minor League Baseball Team affiliated with the Detroit Tigers.  This organization is great. It’s so family and community oriented. Three times during the season they partner with the United Dairy Industry of Michigan and highlight a farm family – that’s where we come in.

The United Dairy Industry of Michigan is there to support all dairy farmers in our state. They do a wonderful job. That’s where I get all my swag for our dairy tours on our farm. They are very creative and helpful.

Jolene from UDIM emailed me one day and asked “Hey, how would you like to be the farm family at the West Michigan White Caps game?” I thought “Heck, why not!”

 A rare sighting of Farmer and A Farm Wife together outside their natural habitat.

A rare sighting of Farmer and A Farm Wife together outside their natural habitat.

So, I chose a night out of three dates. I was hoping we would be in between hay cuttings and it worked out great. We finished second cutting hay 3 days before the game.

She explained that there were four events we could participate in.

     1st pitch
     Crash Dash – someone 5 and under would race the mascot on the field.
     Frosty Fly Challenge – try to catch items launched into the air.
     Radio interview during the game.

I asked our grandson Clay to do the pitch, our youngest grandson Liam was the only one qualified to do the race, my daughter-in-law Holly, who is always willing to try anything, to do the challenge and I would just slide into the interviewing chair.

UDIM encouraged us to invite our families and supplied T-shirts for all of us.

I invited Dean Exoo from the Whitecaps on air with me at WHTC – my bi-weekly radio spot called A Farm Life with a Farm Wife. He joined me the Wednesday before the game. We let the listeners know what would be taking place that evening and invited them all to come along.

Finally, the night arrived. We had a little snafu with the tickets at Will Call but Dean to the rescue and we were all set.

Everyone signed in for their events. The Frosty Fly Challenge needed 3 suckers . . er, I mean contestants. So, my other daughter-in-law, Amber and my son, Dan stepped up to the plate. (get it? up to the plate?)

It was a beautiful night for a game. A little warm in the sun but the stadium was packed.

 Such dashing Farmers

Such dashing Farmers

Clayton was the seventh person to throw out the “1st” pitch. He was relieved he wasn’t the only one. He did a good job and looked so dashing in a farmerish way.

 Liam before the race - notice his nice big white shirt in the race.

Liam before the race - notice his nice big white shirt in the race.

Then, there was Liam. Oh my, what a cutie. He took off running and it didn’t look good at the beginning of the race, but he persevered and beat Crash.

Farmer and I were escorted in to the high echelon of the park – the broadcast booth. I made Farmer come along in case I was asked a question I couldn’t answer. Heaven forbid I answer wrong or unintelligent at the ball park – I do that enough on WHTC!

It was great. The guys up there were so nice. And Dan Hasty – talk about multi-tasking. He was broadcasting and interviewing at the same time. And, he’s a guy! (It’s well-known fact women are better multitaskers than men so lay down your hackles guys).

The interview was short and sweet, and I told him I if he would invite me back again I would bring him cookies. Well, that gave me an open invitation to “come on up” anytime. And, he just might be surprised in the future.

Frosty Fly Challenge was the last event for us. One daughter-in-law is known for her total lack of catching skills, my son who has a really bad back and our other daughter-in-law who won’t back down to any challenge. And they all lived up to their description. But, I must say there will never be such gorgeous or dashing Frosty Fly Challengers on the field ever again.

After we enjoyed more of the game we left around the 7th inning to help pass out chocolate  milk to everyone leaving the game.

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Farmer helped Nick and Justice who are with UDIM – two outstanding guys!

I can’t say thank you enough for the wonderful experience we ALL had.

First of all, UDIM. They truly have the best interest of the dairy industry and are there to help. If you ever want information on the dairy world you can ask me or them. If we don’t know, we’ll find someone who does.

Then there is Dean Exoo and the Whitecaps. What a wonderful organization and Dean is a servant at heart. Anything and everything we needed, he was ready to deliver.

Now that you’ve read this – go get a chocolate milk and read it again. I will be dairy delish!

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Merging Mayhem

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The one “field” job I do is merging hay.

I normally enjoy it.

There is great satisfaction seeing something get accomplished.

Today, I was in the field with my son and grandson. Three generations working together – I sorta felt like I was Amish.

All is fun in merging until you have to pee.

And, if you don’t have the “convenient plumbing” it’s a challenge.

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This field had woods on one end and houses on the other and flanked on both sides with other fields.

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No problem, just drive back by the woods and hide behind the tractor tire.

Easy for you to say.

And, years ago I would have thought the same.

The issue is trail cams. You just never know where they are. I really didn’t want to be the butt (yes, I went there) of my neighbor's jokes or stories about what they found on their trail camera. Trail cams are hard to spot especially when you only have a small window to pee before the chopper or wagon comes rolling by. And, they know what you’re doing because you go from merging the rows together to heading over to the corner where there is no hay down.

When I know I have to merge I plan accordingly. No fluids for 12 hours prior. No fluids in the tractor. That plan works pretty good until I get a little whoozy from dehydration.

Besides the trail cam dilemma there is also the fear of jumping bugs. You need to know your bugs. How high can they jump and how low should you squat?

Yes, this is a real issue – nothing to laugh about.

For us farm-hers peeing in the field is comparable to men having to pee on stage under a spot light. Think about it.

 My son's creativity.

My son's creativity.

 

 

 

 

Transparently Tired

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Transparent. That’s what I keep saying – we need to be transparent. How can we help each other if we are living behind a façade?

So, here we go.

I’m real close to losing it. Not quite sure what it is, but it’s about ready to frazzle.

There has been stressful stress happening in the world I live in. Financial struggles due to horrible milk prices, concerns about the crops because of weather, short-handed at the farm and just plain normal wear and tear of life.

Then you add to that my inerrant desire to help and fix. I see my husband working way too hard and long hours. I’m concerned for his health. My son who is on the farm has back issues and he and his family are spent from doing “whatever” needs to be done. I move from feeding people, delivering people and parts, to merging hay, all the office work and now we are refurbishing one of our houses for a new employee. I’m taking care of most of that too. The list of things needing to be done is endless.

Then there are peripheral things. We had to tear out our old gas grill because it was 30+ years and crumbling. In order to get a new one and put it in, the brick around the old one had to be removed and new brick put down, etc. And, of course, only Farmer could do this. There is a mess on the back porch, a hole in the brick and a new gas grill perched on a table. Cement dust, tools and mortar bags litter my back-porch oasis.

The yard has more moles than a “whack a mole” factory. I finally called a service – even though Farmer said no. The service is great – should be for the price. We’re killing moles left and right.

Trimming bushes, weed whacking, mowing lawn, any landscaping, getting the oil changed in the car is on my to do list. There are so many other little issues that need fixing. I just can’t ask Farmer when he is so over burdened with everything at the farm right now. So, things get left undone. Undone “stuff” is noise to me. I need some quiet.

I have four sons – very busy and limited due to back issues. That’s something else I can’t fix. I pray for their healing and it hasn’t quite arrived yet. It’s not easy being a mama when your kids are hurting. If I ask, they will help but I know every time they help me I am pulling them away from their family and their things that need to be take care of.

I’m volunteering my time to help people discover Dr. Jim Hines – he is running for governor and I think he’s the best choice.

I could list other things but you get the idea.

And, I’ve always been the one to help others. I’m the answer to struggles. Need something? I’ll be right there.

I am tired.

I was feeling sorry for myself and was watching something on TV and the character was so happy and joyful. I found myself “wishing” I had a normal life that I could relax and enjoy. Right now, everything feels like work. Now, I know that my life is far superior in blessings than most people, so I really have absolutely nothing to legitimately complain about.

Why am I writing this? Trying to garner sympathy? Nope. Not at all.

Two reasons.

One reason I’m writing this is to show someone who doubts God’s participation in your life that he is there.

I sat down and grabbed my “Jesus Calling” devotional and this is what I read.

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“Striving for a predictable, safe lifestyle” – exactly what I long for.

The second reason for baring my faults here is to encourage someone else to know you’re not the only one who feels like life is spinning out of control. I want to encourage you to see there is no “wonder woman” or “super hero” in the flesh.

I think we are ALL over worked and tired. We are ALL busy. And, I really think we ALL “pretend” a little. After all, if you ask someone “How are you”? Do you really want to hear “I’m pooped, close to tears, can’t sleep and anxious”?

I know my exhaustion is self-imposed and can only be fixed by self-regulation. And, I’m working on it – once I get this list of to dos finished – HA!!!

Take heart, take a break and know that God cares and wants you to trust in Him and expectantly wait for what he has for you.

Now, go take a nap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirt is Dirt

 

I don’t know if you can see it or not but there is fine, silty dirt on the floor. This is my bedroom floor and when I come down the hallway the light from the window really make this show up.

It’s from the dog. My son’s dog Zeus who lives with us since my son moved to an apartment.

Yesterday I walked back here and thought “Uggg, that really shows up back here.” My next thought was “Boy, if it’s on the floor here it has to be in the carpet too even though it’s not noticeable.”

Then, an aha from heaven.

The dirt that falls off in the bedroom is seen. It’s very obvious. Just like some of the sins we have falling off of us. Some of our sins carry visible consequences that others see easily. They are right out in the open, in the daylight. Sometimes they are the same ones we cleaned up the week before.

Then there’s the dirt in the carpet. I know it’s there but to everyone else looking, they can’t see it. The thought of it probably never crossed their minds. And so, it goes with some of our other sins. They are hidden. They aren’t visible. We know about them, but most people don’t even wonder if they are there. In fact, we are grateful they are hidden.

So which sins are worse? The ones that show or the hidden ones?

As far as I can tell, dirt is dirt. Whether it’s on the bare floor for all to see or hidden in the carpet.

Be careful as you walk by other’s visible dirt that you don’t pat yourself on the back because your bare floors are clean.  The dirt in the carpet could be dirtier than theirs.

 

 

All That Glitters is not Gold

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We are tired around here. Dead tired. Truly exhausted. Yet, we can’t stop. The work must be done. The crops must be brought in, the cattle fed, the cows milked, the machinery fixed, the bills paid. The list is non-ending.

It’s a struggle and it’s hard.

Yet, there are others struggling with illness, death, loss of homes, missing persons, and more.

I think of mothers sending their sons off to the service. The wife who waves good-bye to her husband, the police officer. The husband who kisses his wife as she leaves for life saving surgery. The dad who hears the door slam as his teenage daughter leaves threatening to never come home. The farmer who shuts the barn door for the last time due to the economy. The child who hides in the closet and hopes he will escape what he’s suffered too many times.

I shame myself by comparing my petty problems with those who “have it so much worse”.

Bring this into the world of suicide. Lately, well known, popular, successful, wealthy people have been killing themselves. I chose to say killing themselves over committing suicide. Committing suicide seems to soften what happened.

It’s sad that they couldn’t or maybe they did try, to convey their desperate feelings. Did they feel like they had “nothing” to complain about because of all the advantages they had compared to others? Were they ever told “you have enough money to fix any problem you have”? Do we as a society equate “having it all” with needing nothing else?

If someone came to you and voiced their feelings of sadness or problems, how would you respond? Give them a pep talk? Tell them compared to 90% of the world you don’t have it so bad? This too shall pass?

Or, would you keep your thoughts to yourself and pay attention and let them talk? How far would you go to help someone?

I get the term mental illness – I know what it means but the stigma has to disappear.

When someone is sick with a sore throat do we say they have an oral illness? Or a broken bone, do we say bone breakage illness. Do we say blood illness when facing infection?

Illness is illness whether or not it’s in your arm, leg, pinky toe or your brain. They are all parts of your body. Do we feel ashamed if we have an ulcer in our stomach, a cyst on our ovary, an infection in our knee?

Swinging back to my tiredness. While I know my problems pale in comparison to others, it’s still a problem to me. I don’t want to be a whiner and complainer but when asked “how are you” – I want to feel like I can say “I’m tired, pooped, exhausted or whatever” without hearing the internal voice shaming me because there are worse situations out there. Or, worse yet to hear someone voice, “You think you’re tired you should see . . . .”

The same should be for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety or hopeless feelings.

What are you doing to invite a shameless conversation with those who need to sort out their problems or seek out help?

Let’s purpose to be that safe, trustworthy space when the opportunity comes.

You know the saying all that glitters is not gold? Well, all that smiles is not happy.

 

No Blinker, No Problem

 Don't be jealous of my wooden bumper.

Don't be jealous of my wooden bumper.

After merging for over an hour looking through dirty windows I drove the tractor up to the shop to wash them. While I was hanging off the steps and draped over the hood of the tractor Farmer called me.

Farmer: “Hey, I need you to bring me some fuel. Check the tank and make sure there is enough. Just call me back when you get to the truck.”

Me: “Where is the truck?”

F: "Halfway down the driveway."

M: I dropped everything and dismounted the tractor hood with nary a broken bone and walked over to the truck. And then called Farmer.

F: “Can you see how full the tank is?”

M: “Yep, ¾ full.”

F: “K Bring it out to the field for me. Drive careful. There are no blinkers.”

M: “OK, but I have to run home and go pee first.”

F: “Can’t you just pee behind the truck?”

M: This is where I would have slammed the phone down if the option was available. With the cell phones it’s so unrewarding to hang up on someone.

After the bladder was emptied and I was on the way with the truck I was concentrating on staying below the speed limit. I’ve watched enough Live PD to know that you can be pulled over for any small thing and going 10 miles over the speed limit would probably qualify. Having no working blinkers, a wooden bumper and no driver’s license I was trying to be the perfect citizen.

I made it to the other farm with no problem.

 

 Farmer's best side.

Farmer's best side.

Once I parked it and Farmer was fueling the tractor I realized the plate on the truck was missing.

M: “No license plate?”

F: “Yes, there are 2 up on the dash. If you get stopped show them one and if they don’t like it, you have another one to try.”

M: Blank stare

F: “Be careful going home, I was already stopped once, so they may be looking for you.”

 You can see the silos on the main farm 2 miles north.

You can see the silos on the main farm 2 miles north.

Farm Life Preservation 101

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What part of farm life am I referring too?

Anyone who comes in contact with the farmer this time of year.

For us with late April snow and never-ending May showers started us off behind. Now, add a broken-down hay mower and the chopper which has been in the dealership shop since April and no delivery back to the farm date and you have created the perfect storm for needing to know about farm life protection. This is what we call the “Angry Bear” stage of farming.

Here are the 10 guidelines of Farm Life Preservation 101.

1.     When approaching the farmer during this stressful time give him wide berth. Stay at least 10 feet away. That way you’ll have a better chance to duck flying tools.

2.     When approaching the farmer, make no quick movements and avoid eye contact.

3.     When leaving the farmer, back away slowly.

4.     While in the presence of the farmer, only speak when spoken to and speak in soft hushed tones unless machinery is running and then you must be able to lip read and shout louder than a jet engine revving up. Always agree with what they are saying.

5.     Never ask any questions.

6.     When feeding time comes push the food under the equipment with a long stick.

7.     Unless bellowed to enter, only go into the shop if it is necessary and when doing so, be stealthy and quiet so as not to rile the farmer.

8.     If he asks you to help him for just a minute, quietly text your doctor and let him know you can’t make it in for your liver transplant scheduled for later in the day.

9.     Always be on guard and ready to jump. The expectancy level is high, and you never know what will trigger it.

10.  If for any reason the farmer has fallen asleep, NEVER EVER wake him up unless you have had training.

All nonsense aside, it is a very stressful time of the year and all prayers for all farmers would be welcomed.

But, hey, I can’t fix any of the problems so why not have a little fun. The good thing is Farmer is so busy he won’t read this for several weeks and by then hopefully the “Angry Bear” syndrome will have past.

Cherry Bars

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cream:
         ¾ C softened butter
         2 C sugar

Add and mix:
         6 eggs
         1 ½ t vanilla

Add and mix:
         4 ½ C flour
         1 ½ t salt
         2 ¼ t baking powder

Mix everything well.

Spread 2/3 of the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet with an edge. Not a flat cookie sheet.

Pour and spread 2 cans of cherry pie filling. Don’t be eating the cherry pie filling. It ALL goes on the dough.

Drop the remainder 1/3 dough mixture by spoonful evenly – don’t try to cover the cherries completely. You want some of those lovely cherries to peek through.

Bake about 30 – 35 minutes. Test the cake with a toothpick but make sure you don’t over bake.

Frosting:

This is my attempt to give measurements. I normally dump and go by feel.  

Melt in microwave ¼ C butter. Add about 2 C powdered sugar, 1 t. vanilla and 1 t almond. Add a little water at a time and stir until the frosting is pourable. It should be runny, not thick. Drizzle over the cooled cherry bars.

 

 

 

 

Multiply Your Greatness

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I hung the phone up on the kitchen wall, looked around me and wondered if I would ever find myself again. Would I ever be in a position to create a difference? The yellow fruit and flowered wall paper stared back at me. Out the kitchen window I could see Son #1 and #2 playing in the yard. Son #3 was watching cartoons and Son #4 was crawling on the floor by my feet.

I must have been extremely tired that day because normally my thoughts didn’t wander there.

I had the privilege of being a stay at home mom. I was a semi-single stay at home mom. I never want to insinuate my singleness of raising my sons is compared in the least to a true single mom. But, Farmer was rarely home. Most of the daily operations of the home and parenting was my responsibility.

In the midst of wiping noses, butts and dirty mouths, I, at times, wondered if there would be anything left in me when the time came to give me a whirl.

At this point in my life I was Farmer’s wife, or someone’s mom. And that continued for many years. My identity was always combined.

And, consider there was no face book back then to garner support, chatting with others or surfing the web. Our means of connection was church gatherings and phone calls when we weren’t chasing one of the kids or putting food on the table. There was no pre-school, mom’s groups or gyms to attend.

For the most part, I loved my life. I gained much satisfaction and was thrilled to take care of my family. I enjoyed just about every aspect.

Once, in a while, and it must have hit that day, I would think about “successful women in the work force.” They did a job, got thanked and even was paid for their time and effort.

And therefore, once in a while I would wander with my wonderings.

I’m writing this to encourage any moms who are in the middle of their best years – especially if you are staying home and get overwhelmed at times. While I wasn’t distressed over not having a career or felt trapped at home, the desire to make a difference was there.

While I may not have wrote a best seller, argued a high-profile court case, or did open heart surgery saving lives, I have made a huge difference.

By staying home, I made a difference times four.

I have raised four amazing men that daily touch lives, create opportunities for others, and contribute greatly to this world. These four men are good, quality, excellent driven men who are now raising their sons and daughters to change the world.

Never under estimate where you are in life and the reason God designated this special spot for you.

Anyone can become a doctor, lawyer, clerk, teacher or whatever profession.

No one can be your child’s mother.

Enjoy your best years with your kids. Realize the amazing responsibility God has entrusted to you.

Multiply your greatness through your kids.