I Do and I Always Will

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Forty-eight years ago, I said I do.

I did not marry my best friend.

I have no idea if he is my soul mate. I do know he’s the man I love.

There has not been 48 years of wedded bliss. There have been blissful times.

Has our love changed?

I sure hope so.

Life happens. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows. There are dark days and clouds mixed together which changes people and changes the landscape of life.

I was an 18-year-old city slicker marrying a 20-year-old farmer. Life would never be the same for me. I had no idea how hard, sometimes lonely it would be. I also never had a clue how much I would love the land, the critters and the whole experience of becoming a farmer.

If he sees black I generally see white. If he chooses yes, I will lean towards no. We have learned to come together and see gray and say maybe. And sometimes black wins over gray and no wins over yes.

Forty-eight years of trying to blend two different worlds into a new one while adding critters, kids and community is not for the weak.

But, I’m so glad I have stayed the course. That we’ve both chosen “I do” and there was never a possibility for “I don’t”.

While my kids have not seen a picture-perfect marriage and I pray daily that their marriage is better than ours, they have seen commitment at work. And at times, it’s not pretty while other times it’s a work of art.

Forty-eight years begets perseverance, patience, comfortableness, compromise, sacrifice, laying down your wants, trust, confidence and more.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that neither one of us will walk away. That when push comes to shove we will each be the shield or sword for a fight.

I would have missed so much if I had walked away.

I could have missed all the benefits of marrying my Farmer – 4 sons, 3 daughters-in-law, 8 grands, adventures, laughs, thrills, chills and spills. I could have romanticized the last forty-eight years and painted an unattainable picture. I could have worded things in a way that would cause some that read this to think they are failing.

Reality sucks sometimes. Reality causes some to quit on many things. Reality needs to be shown, spoken of and brought into the light.

At the end of the day I can say I married a good man. An honest, God-fearing, family loving, hardworking, steady man that has had to put up with an awful lot being married to me. I’m grateful he chose I do and that he continues to.

If you have that fairy tale, starry eyed, breathless relationship – good for you. If you love the person you are with but at times really, really don’t like them or are glad when you can have a short break – you’re probably closer to normal on the real-life scale of life.

Happy 48 years and counting to my Farmer who I chose and continue to choose and who I love and will always love.

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful Heart Moment

I just finished mowing the lawn at the barn.  

The sun was setting and it was around 60°.

Ever notice how the grass changes with seasons. The spring grass is nothing like the summer grass. The summer grass is not like the autumn grass. I love the autumn grass the best.

As I mowed, I listened and contemplated. Sometimes I carry on a conversation with God. Tonight, I was overcome with the goodness of God.

I mowed along the barn that house our milk cows and I marveled at the fact that God has given us the opportunity to care for these gentle creatures. They are so alike yet drastically different.

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I could hear the skid steer scraping the alleys. I’m so grateful for the people who help us with our life. Many times, as I walk past barns I can hear someone whistling. We work hard to make our farm a good space to be and these folks who help us create an awesome place.

I finished up down by one of the slurrystores. As I was on the last round I looked over the corn field that grows next to the slurrystore. I was reminded that there was I time I was about in this same position in the yard and wondered if we would ever get the corn in the ground. Week after week we were delayed because of rain.

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Even though the corn will probably not mature completely, we will be able to use it for cornlage for feed.

I’ve said it over and over this year (it’s been a tough one) that “all of this belongs to God. And, if he wants to flood the fields then he would also have to help us make it work.”

I would have to say that honestly, I’ve had a few anxious moments. I haven’t lost sleep over it but when your livelihood depends on so many things you have absolutely no control over, it can get a little worrisome at times.

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Tonight, in the yard where I finished mowing, I looked up at the barn and could see my BEBs in the light of the barn. There is something so comforting about those critters. And then to turn around and look at the corn field so lush, green and beautiful I was overcome with the goodness of God. Throw in the sunset and the pinks behind the harvestores and you have a grateful heart moment.

What will our harvest look like? Don’t know.

Will we have enough corn for our cows for the next year? I’m pretty sure not.

Am I worried? Not exactly, maybe somewhat concerned but once again, this is God’s stuff and if he wanted to rain all over it then he will have to figure out a way for us to deal with it.

Sunday Walk About

My daughter-in-law does an excellent job with flowers all around the farm.

My daughter-in-law does an excellent job with flowers all around the farm.

These are on their way out for the season but I just love the two colors together.

These are on their way out for the season but I just love the two colors together.

We color coordinate our cats with our calves.

We color coordinate our cats with our calves.

A few of the new ones. I think there were 4 others on the other side of the pen.

A few of the new ones. I think there were 4 others on the other side of the pen.

This has been growing by our parlor many, many years.

This has been growing by our parlor many, many years.

Even the parlor windowsills display the awesomeness of flowers.

Even the parlor windowsills display the awesomeness of flowers.

We’ll call her “One-Horn”.

We’ll call her “One-Horn”.

I really like the marking on her face. About a month ago I climbed into the close-up pen (the pen where the cows are kept that are close to calving) to get a picture and could never get one head on.

I really like the marking on her face. About a month ago I climbed into the close-up pen (the pen where the cows are kept that are close to calving) to get a picture and could never get one head on.

Getting some smooches from my moochas.

Getting some smooches from my moochas.

Sometimes they look like “You again, go ahead, take the picture.”

Sometimes they look like “You again, go ahead, take the picture.”

Enjoying the sunshine whilst lounging in their freestalls.

Enjoying the sunshine whilst lounging in their freestalls.

Suppertime.

Suppertime.

I remember when we got this truck. Maybe 10 years ago or so. Oh, if we could list everything ever hauled in here.

I remember when we got this truck. Maybe 10 years ago or so. Oh, if we could list everything ever hauled in here.

The sunset was pinking the eastern/southern sky.

The sunset was pinking the eastern/southern sky.

There are days that feel hard. Too hard. And then there are days that feel like a treasure given. For whatever reason God choose me for here and I’m thankful, blessed, and grateful.

What I Didn't See at Farmer's Class Reunion

Last night I went with my husband to his 50th high school reunion. Yes, I am officially married to an old man. 

It was a great evening for him and I practiced my “observing” skills. I knew a handful of people and my goal as I told him in the car was, “I promise to try to not embarrass you.” That was best attempted by sitting and watching the evening activities.

From where I sat I saw some things that were missing.

I saw no “mean girls”, “jocks”, “honor students”, “stoners”, “nerds” (well maybe one or two nerds), “cheer leaders” or any other hierarchy.

What I did see was cheerful recognition, joyous reconnections and sincere hugs. There was also a lot of cautious nametag checking before the clap on the back or the hug around the neck which was followed by cheerful recall. Many live within the community and see each other from time to time while some are long standing friends with their lives intertwining. Others traveled a great distance to attend.

There weren’t many standing in the corner like a wall flower (maybe a few of us spouses at times).  Many of the class members went out of their way to introduce themselves to us non-members. Kindness abounded.

Throughout the evening a lot of leaning in happened – which I’ve learned is a sign that someone is really listening – or it could be that at this age some are just trying to hear . . . anything.

Old stories about the past were shared. Laughing together reminiscing about this and that. At times the conclusion of the conversation was unknown. Memories are getting flimsy. But the fun of retelling the event through each one’s eyes was delightful.

Old age has a way of closing the gap. Not only does attitude change but physicality does too. The muscle bulging jocks had the same over the belt bellies like the nerds. The popular girl’s wrinkles and gravity attacks were mirrored on each beautiful woman.

I joke about the old age, appearances, etc. The bottom line – time levels things. What I wouldn’t give to help kids in school right now understand. To free the insecure, the bullied and even the bullies of the weight of acceptance and measuring up in their world. Those few years in school can distort self-perception for too long. It’s such a waste of time.

It was a wonderful evening for a school reunion. The sincere kindness shown to me – an outsider, was heartwarming. Watching people move from person to person, memory to memory, connection to connection was worth giving up an evening of popcorn eating and TV watching (because I lead such an exciting life).

Also, I can use this as ammunition when I want to get Farmer to do something with me that he really would rather not.

I made it through the evening without spilling food, tripping or walking out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to my shoe. I think I might have narrowly passed the “not embarrassing” part.

If not, I might be able to do a re-do in five years when they get back together again. I’ll have a while to practice.

 

 

Oh, These Girls

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I had 4 sons, and I’m ever so grateful. I never wanted a daughter. Now I have 2 granddaughters and every year we go shopping for school clothes.

This was our 10th year.

Kindergarten

Kindergarten

1st Grade - we started with matching outfits.

1st Grade - we started with matching outfits.

2nd grade

2nd grade

3rd grade

3rd grade

4th grade

4th grade

5th Grade

5th Grade

6th Grade

6th Grade

7th Grade

7th Grade

8th Grade

8th Grade

9th Grade

9th Grade

I am beyond blessed to be able to not only do this each year but to have these beauties in my life and live so close I can see them everyday.

I pray we will continue to have “special” days together for a very long time.

Thank you God for these precious gems.

Birthday + Blueberries + Buddies = Beautiful

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Last week I went blueberry picking with my sister. My first time. There were a lot of families and you could over hear conversations. I was in the middle of a few families with grandparents and grandkids. I could hear “Grama this . . Grama that . . .” I made up my mind I wanted to bring mine.

Since today was my birthday I decided what better day than to go picking with the grands. These are my five youngest.

After a successful picking we went to our favorite, farmer friendly restaurant - Culver’s.

We finished the day with my signature selfie.

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Lessons from Laying Low

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In case you don’t regularly follow A Farm Wife page, a little over a week ago I bent over and BAM! My back went out. Not just out but big time, tsunami muscle spasm out. On a Saturday. 

Also, in case you didn’t know, A Farm Wife doesn’t do nothing well.

Yet, here I was, doing nothing and not well.

I was actually doing two things. Laying on ice and trying to get up to move in order to prevent total lock up in my back.

There were lessons learned.

1.     It really sucks! It is extremely difficult to ask for help. Especially when you are with people who are busy with their own lives. I hate to be “the one” that causes others to change plans or do things other than planned.

2.     It’s hard to watch someone “attempt” to do what you asked. You know how you have your own way of doing things? Or, it doesn’t get done in time?

3.     I really took freedom of movement for granted. It would take five minutes just to get up off the couch. I had to somehow roll over onto the floor, find something to pull myself up on and then centimeter by centimeter stand upright. No bending over, no twisting, no coughing. I learned a whole new level of shallow breathing. Taking a normal breath would bring on spasms.

4.     I have watched and dozed through more Hallmark Christmas movies than I can count. I can now write a dashing movie script just for them.

5.     Bills were unpaid and when I finally could muster enough sit up time to pay them I would include a note – Due to a bad back . . . I also made some new friends in the billing department of some of our vendors.

6.     You can live with dust on the shelves and crumbs on the floor. If something would fall on the floor it stayed there until there were enough items to make it worth the while of squatting down to pick it up.

7.     I discovered how disgustingly dirty the side of my dishwasher was. You know the side that meets up to the edge of the cupboards? I knelt by the dishwasher and unloaded the dishes on to the counter top and then would stand up and take care of the dishes off the counter top. But while down on my knees -  Oyy the yucky outside edge. Go take a look at yours. Please tell me I’m not the only one who failed at dishwasher washing 101? I run a cycle through once in a while to wash the inside and clean out the filter thingy but never washed off the outside edge.

8.     It’s amazing all the different things you can learn to do without bending over. I also never realized how out of shape I was. From a week plus of squatting my thighs ache like I’ve chased cows for days. I guess I’m not much of a squatter in normal life.

9.     There are a lot of good people in the world. Many called and asked if they could help me – and really meant it.

10.  God has created an amazing miracle when he created our bodies. A few trips to a chiropractor, some down time and a lot of prayer has me about 90% healed and I know the rest is on the way. To go from such “take your breath away” pain to feeling somewhat normal in about 9 days is something to be grateful for. Now, I just have to learn to be wise and pace myself.

If you have anyone in your life that needs a little help, please be that one that cheerfully offers.

Those who willingly came to my rescue had a huge part in my healing. When someone is there to help it lessens the burden of being laid up which hastens the healing time – in my opinion.

A phone call, offer to pick up groceries, come in to help make a meal, take a minute to visit, pray for them. All these little things that seem easy to us who are upright and healthy are  huge blessings for those who can’t.

One don’t - If someone asks you for help, if you can’t do so cheerfully or willingly say you are unavailable. And if you are that busy that you can’t help, then you need to examine your life and heart.

Don’t be the one who answers, “If you really think you need it” or “I suppose I can” or “I’ll get to it eventually”.  Asking for help is humbling and hard. Getting responses like those that make you feel like the person has to climb a mountain while carrying 500 pounds on their back does nothing to help the person you are so “graciously” helping.

For those who are in a chronic health situation I prayed for you even though I don’t know you. I prayed a lot while down. Prayed for my family, my country and I prayed for those who would never get up or for those with a much longer path to travel.

God never ever causes sickness or injury. But, he certainly uses each and everything that comes into our lives. I pray I learned the lessons I needed.

I feel like I’m a fairly kind person who likes to help others, but I will be having my “caring” eyes on and on the lookout to help others.

Take a minute and shoot a text, make a phone call, bake a batch of cookies and take time to show some love to someone that needs some help today.

It will boost the immune system.

Theirs and yours.

 

The By-Products of Farming

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We own and operate a dairy farm. Our one and only product that we produce for income is milk. Milk alone. Yet, there are many by-products that most wouldn’t even know about.

Let me inform you -

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We have the pleasure of seeing a lot of God’s critters that are usually hidden in his creation.

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We’ve also have coyotes, snow owls, hawks, coons and more.

Another by-product is working together as a family. We frequently have 3 generations in the field.

Son #2 Chopping, Grandson #2 hauling wagons and I am merging. 3 Generations.

Son #2 Chopping, Grandson #2 hauling wagons and I am merging. 3 Generations.

This is something Son#2 made up when I was merging with Grandson #2.

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I have the privilege of watching my Son teach his son.

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We experience miracles daily.

Watching a seed that was buried come to life.

Watching a seed that was buried come to life.

Watching our employees enjoy God’s creation.

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Having wide open spaces for our personal critters to roam - even tho it can be messy at times.

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The sweet smells. I wish there was a way to share the delish aromas. The scent of fresh cut alfalfa, the sweet smell of milk and the distinguished fragrance of feed.

Having God paint the skies for us morning and night.

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Then there is the quiet place in the barns when no one is around where you can let the weight of the world fall off your shoulders and be filled with the holiness of God.

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There you have just a few of the by-products of farming. I could continue on for pages.

If you’re confused by the word by-product, just insert the word blessing.

I’m ever so grateful God plopped me here. Taking care of his critters and creation is an enjoyable honor.

You're Not Better, Just Different. Now, Please Get Off my Back

 

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Milk alternatives are better than dairy = a big fat lie, unless they are. 

How’s that for a confusing first sentence?

Nut juices and plant-based drinks that vie for your dairy needs have done a great job of “convincing” you that their product is better for you. Well, that depends.

If you are lactose intolerant (there is a dairy alternative), allergic to milk, or just plain don’t care for the taste of milk, then drinking the alternative is better for you. It fills your personal need.

But, if you are across the board telling us that the plant-based drinks are better as in healthier than you’ve just spoken a total lie.

Now, before you start assuming I’m going to slam the dairy alternative products, think again. I will not speak against a fellow farmer. You see, there is a farmer behind those almonds, soy and whatever else they are using to create that drink. As a fellow farmer I intend to speak the truth while supporting all other farmers. Farming is way too hard to pit farmer against farmer.

I will say though I am not happy how the marketing for the alternative drinks are. The marketing firms have done a terrific job piggybacking dairy. They package like dairy; they even steal the term milk and some of these products sit in the dairy case right beside the real deal. That is confusing for shoppers. Hopefully there are things in process that will bring that false advertising to an end.

I would like to tell you a few things about the value of real dairy.

Milk is always 100% antibiotic free. 
Milk is a food item that is never touched by human hands.
There are 9 essential nutrients in milk - calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12,
riboflavin and niacin.
Milk is a great recovery drink for athletes.
Milk does the body good.
Milk is not full of added ingredients. Other than Vitamin D, milk is all milk.

Don’t be confused in the grocery store by labels and advertising. Milk comes from a mammal. I’ve never seen a mammary gland on almonds or other plants.

If you want info about the other drinks, then help yourself.

Whether you choose a plant beverage or the real deal – dairy, please recognize a living breathing farmer worked hard to provide that beverage for you.

 

Opps We HAD to do it Again!

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Oyyyy. Challenges, challenges. 

We use ag bags (basically long white plastic tubes – Farmer will cringe at this simplistic definition) to store haylage and corn silage.

We’ve been very fortunate to finally be out in the fields making hay.

Yesterday we were filling one of these bags – 12’ X 300’. You can link here for another blog I did when we were filling the ag bags with corn silage – that will show you how this works. https://www.afarmwife.com/www.afarmwife.com//2013/09/its-in-bag-repost-from-2010-this-is.html?rq=ag%20bag

A good portion of the day was used filling this bag.

On one trip back to the bag someone noticed a small hole – about the size of the bottom of a Gatorade bottle – so says Son# 2. He and one of the guys went to the shop to get special tape to take care of the hole.

When they were walking back towards the bag they could see the hole had grown about 2 feet. They then turned around and went in search for a piece of ag bag to patch it.

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On their return the bag had started to split. Then it went like a zip line. Split all the way to where we were loading it – about 120 feet. The torn section flipped all the way over to the opposite side leaving nothing but a mountain of haylage in all its glory.

Son #2 and Grandson #2 made a clean cut where the tear started so the bag wouldn’t split the opposite way.

Well, that worked great – for a minute. Then the bag started to split on top going the opposite way starting at the point of the initial split. They became Ninja warriors and jumped on top of the bag and ran back a few feet to cut it again. You know jump off the top holding a knife in one hand slicing the side of the ag bag.

Success.

Now, what do you do with all that naked haylage?

You have to figure out how to store it.

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We called the great people we get our bags from and they brought over a different kind of bagger than what we own. With this one you can dump a whole load right into the hopper or feeder – whatever you want to call it. (I need to take a moment to ask for forgiveness for all the wrong wordage I am using. Farmer is probably shuddering right about now if he even takes the time to read this.)

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With the JCB and a loader the feed was scooped back up, fed into the bagger and taken care of. It took several hours to finish.

We can look at this in a couple of different ways.

1.     Several hours were wasted having to do the same job twice. And, we are so far behind. Just one more set back.
or
2.     Well, wasn’t that fun. Something new and different!

We are choosing #2. It’s kind of funny how it all happened. And, “crap” happens.  

We’re grateful we had the nice day to make hay and the ability to fix the problem.

And, Son #2 and Grandson #2 got to get their “Ninja” on.

The naked haylage after the bag ripped.

The naked haylage after the bag ripped.

 

The new bag.

The new bag.

 

 

 

 

 

We're All in This Together

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I can become easily annoyed at something, especially if I don’t understand the reason behind the something. Add to that having a bad day or being tired or whatever and it just makes it worse. 

We received a phone call from a Right to Farm person requesting some information due to a complaint. I choose to believe this person was just like me. They didn’t like the situation and just wanted it fixed and fixed now.

The complaint was that we spread manure too thick and it smelled too bad in a field behind their home. I agree manure stinks and I’m not too happy when it’s in the fields surrounding my house either.

Spreading manure – natural fertilizer is a necessary good thing. Cows poop and we have to take care of it. Manure is an excellent natural fertilizer for our fields.

The Right to Farm guy came out and went over the records that we keep and went to the field with Son#2 and found no problem. We are following the rules and have done things correctly.

We follow the National Dairy F. A. R. M. rules. (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) and we have been MAEAP verified - The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program which is voluntary.

We feel strongly that we must be good stewards of this land and care givers to God’s critters.

This year has been a stellar year for setbacks and challenges. Having to take the time to put together the records, meet with the FARM person, travel to the field was all time that could/should have been used planting corn. And, it would have been nice to connect with someone lives near one of our fields.

Having said all of that, I would like to make a suggestion to anyone who has an issue with anything farm, please contact the farmer. We are more than happy to help clarify, or even correct a situation if it is within our power to do so.

For example, a few years back a small amount of manure splashed out of the manure spreader at a stop sign on an uphill corner. The person living there found our number and called us and left a message. Meanwhile, when the tractor driver made his trip back to the barn he saw the spill – until then he didn’t know about it. He called Son #2 and he and others went to the place with shavings and cleaned up the minor spill.

The neighbor called back and said they were amazed at how quickly and efficiently we took care of the problem. We told them we appreciated their communication.

We aren’t able to go door to door to all houses within smelling range of our fields but if we could, (and we’ve had this conversation with many) we would tell them we are willing to work with them and special occasions. If you are having a party or get-together, let us know and if at all possible we will avoid your area – whether it be hauling manure or working up the field. Our goal is to farm as efficiently as we can while having great relationships with our community.

While I’m at it and trying to explain a few things, here are a couple other complaints we’ve heard and other farmers have heard. Maybe I could clarify it here.

“Why do you have to wait until the evening to work in the fields? The tractor is too noisy.”

The answer: We don’t wait. Sometimes we have been busy all day long doing other things that had to be done. There are never enough hours in the day for farmers. If we have a time deadline or trying to beat the weather we will keep going even if it is late at night.

“Why do you have to be on the main roads, can’t you travel the back roads?”

Answer – we do as much as possible. Not all farmers have their fields connected in one area. When we have to travel to another field off the main farm we take the back roads when we can. Unfortunately, there are a few fields that are either on a main road or you can only get to them from a main road.

Those are just a couple.

We wished we had the opportunity to address each and every person and question when it comes to why, what, when and where with our farm. That is one reason we do farm tours.

I’m pretty sure most farmers are trying to do the best they can with their farming operations. And we all want to be a community that can live together in harmony.

We can’t fix what we don’t know – so let us know and we will do our very best to fix it.

Somethings just can’t be fixed – we will do our best to explain and try to find a solution.

We’re all in this together.

 

 

When Things Get Too Hard

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I finally got out of my “bubble”.

We had to travel to Ohio to pick up some seed. It was raining yet again. We had to have the seed so it was a “good” day to go.

“Good” day? Hard to use that word “good”.

It was a cloudy dreary day. The farther south we got the drearier and more depressing it became.

As we headed south we scanned the fields trying to see if the field we were driving by had been planted yet. Many had not. And, those that had been planted were hardly up and growing.

Then the standing water – worse than we have in our immediate area began.

Yesterday when I was merging hay there was a spot that I drove through a mud puddle. Our ground is wet but what we saw were bodies of water instead of puddles.

Mile after mile the land is under water. The corn that was planted is now drowning. The land that is untouched will stay that way much longer. It makes me wonder if it will be worked up at all this year.

As I watched farm after farm and saw farm houses and barns connected to the land I could imagine a farmer standing in the kitchen looking out the window or walking to the barn looking at the field behind the building with a sick feeling in their stomachs. Mentally calculating how many days there would be left to plant in order to get any kind of harvest. And, will it get done?

Some are tallying up their losses wishing they would have had insurance – one of the things they cut this spring because they were bleeding and needed that Band-Aid of one less payment.

The possibility of failing wraps it’s arms around the chest and makes it hard to breathe for some. The fear of “what will happen” robs sleep, sickens bodies, ravages emotions and wreaks havoc on marriages and families.

There are some farmers that are so worn out they just can’t function properly. Their mind is compromised and beaten down by trying to figure out a way to get seed in the ground that is too wet to walk on let alone a  10,000+ lb. piece of equipment necessary to do the job.

In that quiet desperation the anguish becomes too heavy to bear. The thought of being “done” with everything becomes inviting. The fight to continue has been fought and the only thing left is despair and hopelessness. The heaviness prevents rational thinking and that’s when the evil of suicide becomes a horrific action that can’t be reversed.

Please, please pray for farmers and ranchers.

Please go to their farm pages and personal pages and leave encouraging messages.

Please call them and tell them you are praying for them.

Please drop in and ask, “How are you doing?”

Please, please pay attention to them. Notice if they are becoming quiet or withdrawn. Ask them if you can help. Ask them if they need help. Offer to go for counseling with them. Call The Farmer’s Suicide number for help. Or go to this site for help https://farmcrisis.nfu.org/

Please if you are having hopeless feelings, call a friend and tell them.

We need you. This country needs you. You are part of a special tribe that can’t afford another loss. You are valuable. You cannot be replaced. Your family will not function without you. There is another way.

Following is information to call to get some help. Please, please make the effort to try one more thing – call:

800-FARM-AID – 800-327-6243 or National Suicide 800-273-TALK – 800 327-6243

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk Around the Farm

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I thought I would take a stroll around the farm tonight and decided to bring you along.

These wagons are just itching to go - if only the weather would cooperate.

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Supper time - which is most of the time.

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A couple of newbies.

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I saw her when I was mowing lawn a week ago and wanted to get up close for a picture. She was in the close up pen and I climbed down from the feed bunk and ticked off a bunch of others to get to her. I really like her markings.

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These gals are just coming back from milking. The alleys are scraped and feed is on their table.

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My daughter-in-law does a great job with the flowers.

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While I was there tonight I snuck up on one of our awesome employees. He never saw me but I watched him. He was moving the cattle around and was walking calmly behind them - no yelling, no drama - just quietly moving them from behind.

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One of my famous selfies - a kiss from one of my girls.

A Letter to my Grandson

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My first grandson graduated this year. I can’t believe those previous years disappeared into memories. As a grandparent we have an honor to sow into our grandkids lives. We have the ability to purposefully bestow blessings.

Perhaps you are in the same situation and need a jumping off point for your letter to your own child or grandchild.

Dear Austin,

 You’ve graduated! Your first real milestone in your life. I bet it feels kinda weird. Exciting, scary, happy and sad all in one.

I wanted to start this letter on the day you were born and add to it. Well, you can see that never happened.

I do remember your first days with us. You were a scrawny, all arms and legs piece of miracle from God. I remember we laid you in the sun – naked to get your bilirubin down to normal.

As a child you were so very strong willed. Just like your dad. And, that is a wonderful thing! Not so much fun when trying to direct you as a child, but now, your strong will can serve you in a powerful way as long as your will is right.

I’ve watched you grow into such a kind, strong, loving, God fearing man. I’m so proud of you.

As you close the door to one stage of life and get ready to experience the next part of your journey I have a few things I wanted to share with you.

1.      Keep God first. Seek his face and listen to his voice in your heart. One way I always can tell it’s God’s voice and not satan’s (because satan will try his best to deceive you) Is that God calls me by my name. satan never uses my name – I’m not sure if this is true with everyone or not.

2.    There will be crap in your life. There will be times of uncertainty and fear. Always remember you are never alone. God is right there beside you. And, nothing is too big, too hard or a surprise to him.

3.    Treat others the way you think would please God and how you want to be treated yourself. One man has no more value than another.

4.   Keep watch over your words. Negativity serves no one.

5.    As you travel through life and you realize you’ve made a wrong turn, just make adjustments. God can handle it all.

6.    Admit it when you are wrong.

7.    Ask for forgiveness.

8.    Say “I’m sorry”.

9.    Be the last to let go when hugging.

10. Be the person everyone hates to see leave the room.

11.    Speak life – I honestly can say it makes a huge difference. Find the good. Praise the Lord.

12.  Realize you can’t hide from God – which is a huge blessing because you are always protected. You can’t do anything too wrong that God won’t forgive. He knew you well before you made the mistake and loved you anyway.

13.  Politeness and kindness count.

14. Remember someone is always watching you – you never know how your actions and words will influence a person.

15.  Be quick to forgive and show grace. You don’t have to forget and allow that person back into your life but you must forgive Unforgiveness only hurts the one not forgiving and when you sow grace, you receive grace.

My door and heart are always open to you. You could never do anything that would lessen my love of you.

You have become an amazing young man full of integrity and have great character.

God has a wonderful path set before you.

I am so proud of you and love you more than you will know. Grampa loves you and is very proud too.

Now, go out there and conquer your territory God gives you.

 

 

 

The Watchers

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In the last few days I’ve spoken with three different women from three different states and the stress level is high. 

We normally hear about the stress farmers are under and those farmers are female too, but I’m referring to the female farmer that is also the mother or wife.

As a woman I think we are naturally nurturers (not saying guys aren’t) and in that role we seem to feel like we need to be the one who holds everyone together.

We watch our husbands worry over not getting the crops in. Or when the machinery breaks down and tensions are rising we women have an overwhelming desire to fix things or to at least help our guys feel better.

“Fixing things” is not attainable yet we strive to the point of dismay.

We see relationships between husband and son, husband and wife, sons and sons  . . . the list could go on – deteriorate with each passing day that field work is stalled.

We watch as tensions rise and words are quick and sharp when normally they aren’t present.

We see the body language change. The hand running through the hair, the rubbing of the back of the neck, the tiredness in their eyes.

We try unsuccessfully to be the buffer between our farmer and bad news.

This year with so much going against us it seems worse. We should be finishing corn planting yet we have not a single kernel in the ground. Too wet. Then yesterday we had a few hours where we could have started before the rain came again but the corn planter was down. It was a holiday and with all the high tech going on farmers are at the mercy of their dealers. So, today the planter will be fixed while the rain comes back.

Simple questions about a field between father and son, mother and son etc. becomes accusatory without effort.

Conversations begin and end with negativity.

Sleep comes but rest doesn’t always accompany it.

Whether we women are side by side working, in a supporting role such as bookwork, runner, cooking for the guys or whatever, we watch.

We watch and then we try to fix.

When we come to one and try to get them to see the other person’s perspective we usually get caught in the cross fire.

Sometimes we watchers just listen. A husband or son will slip in the sit at the table and let their frustrations with others go. It’s a good dumping place. A place where the tension can spill out and give them some room to breathe for a while. But, the spill is usually soaked up by the watcher/listener. You can’t let the spill sit on the floor.

There’s a lot of attention on farmers and their emotional stability as there should be. This is a tough time.

I just want to turn the attention to the watchers.

For you farmers, sons, husbands please consider the watchers in your life. Be careful not to dump too much. Take some time to be the listener. Ask her how she’s doing. Find something positive to say. Even if you have to state the obvious – “Well, another rainy day. We’ll just have to figure it out.” Instead of “I can’t believe it. Another rainy day. When will it ever stop? How in the world will get out crops in and with milk prices so low how will. . . . ”

Watchers are strong and sturdy. Yet even the strongest trees will fall when the winds of adversity last too long.

To all the watchers out there – you are seen and cared for by the greatest Watcher of all. God stands beside you as you try to make peace and find an answer. He hears your frustration and sees your tears. He knows your heart and how divided it can be with the relationships you have. He watches as your mind spins and spins for answers. He knows. He sees. And he has one thing for you to know. You are not God. You are not responsible for everyone and everything. He watches and waits for us to take all our troubles and lay them down. He works better when we aren’t trying to “help’.

As a watcher, it’s a daily task for me to “lay it down”. We want fast, quick fixes but it doesn’t work that way.

As we daily practice to “lay it down” it does become easier at times.

Bottom line – watchers can’t fix. Give it all to the Head Watcher.