Growing Old Sucks

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Yes, growing old is sucky at times. 

You can’t jump as high, run as fast, or bend as easy. For women the make-up time in the morning increases and your eyebrows disappear.

My legs quit working efficiently. They revolted for all the walking, climbing up and down on the tractor, running after escaped cows and life in general. Apparently, there are little flippers that are supposed to be shoving the blood back up your legs to your heart. For some reason, mine went on an extended vacation.

Therefore, if it ain’t working then let’s get rid of them. Sort of. That’s the gist of the reason.

I had to have vein restoration – ablations of some of my veins in my legs. They have been bugging me for 3 – 4 years and I finally decided I should figure it out.

I was told I needed to take care of it because I was four times as likely to have a stroke. I kinda thought I didn’t want to do that, thus the procedure.

Today was the day. I was told by one person “No big deal, doesn’t hurt.” Another person – my primary doctor “I hate to tell you this, but it is quite painful.”

This is how it went down . . . well really up.

I got to change into these really cool paper shorts and tissue slippers. I can see a new fashion wave in the horizon.

Then into the room to prep. Laying on my stomach they washed the whole leg. I was fortunate enough that the vein from stem to stern was bad (ankle to groin). As they were ultra-sounding the area again, I heard “Oh, it’s one of those.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard “I’ve never seen that before”, “That’s never happened before”, “That’s weird”, “How in the world did you do that?” I would be rich. Well, maybe I could buy a steak meal at Logan’s.

I had a vein that branched off to the side (this is my understanding of the situation). It’s not unheard of but not normal either. Why be normal – there are too many normals in this world.

After being washed with freezing cold water and wrapped in paper (I felt like a subway sandwich) the doctor came in and the fun began.

They started freezing my leg by my ankle where the incision would be and the “tool” that would be shoved up the vein would enter. They then proceeded to numb my leg in several spots all the way up. And, no it doesn’t feel like a bee sting – unless the bee is from the Promise Land in the Bible where it took two men to carry grapes.

“OK, we’re ready. You might feel a little pressure but should be no pain.”

And we’re off to the races.

Within 1 minute I asked, “You’re way up at the top right?” She answered “Yes, does it hurt or are you just feeling the pressure?” As I was saying “It just aches a little, a nice sharp stabbing pain occurred, and I adjusted my appraisal of the pain. So, some more nice bee stings.

The whole procedure only took about 20 minutes.

Then comes the wrapping. The nurse said my leg up on top would be quite swollen because of all the numbing solution. And then wrapped my leg from stem to stern.

Since this vein was in the back of my leg I had to lay on my stomach. Doing that is not so good for my neck and by the time I was done I was feeling like I was going to get a migraine. So, I stopped at Tim Horton’s on the way home for some caffeine and you just gotta have something donuty with that coffee. And, it was my reward for not crying or cussing.

The good part is there are really no restrictions – I can carry on per usual.

The bad part is there are really no restrictions and I can carry on as usual. I asked the doctor if she could write a note to Farmer saying I had to lay on the couch and watch Hallmark Christmas movies for the rest of the day.  But alas, that didn’t happen.

I get to go back over the next several weeks to have this checked and more done on the other leg.

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Meanwhile for a few days I have red neck spanks on my leg.

 

 I took this picture to garner some sympathy from my family. I doubt it will work.

I took this picture to garner some sympathy from my family. I doubt it will work.

 

Observations from the Homefront

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I could, if I chose to, rip someone apart with words. I am good at words and while I try to be kind – and I do fail at times – inside I’m pulverizing them.

This whole social media and the world in general is just plain going nuts. The “feelings” the “entitlements” are so loud they drown out common sense and sometimes just plain truth.

Here are a gathering of things I’ve been storing away in my “trying to understand” box. These may or may not reflect you – there are so many sources I’ve used. Such as face book, internet articles, TV, radio, so called news sources, family, friends and the guy in the grocery line in front of me.

-       I can disagree with you, your religion, your thought process without “hating” you. I can even dislike you but still care about you as a person. When and why did agreeing 100% with me, my thoughts and opinions become the “have to be” or you are a cruel, evil person?

-       We all are allowed our opinions – but opinions aren’t always the truth, correct or even necessary.

-       Being tolerant is something that is thrown around for convenience sake at time. And, for some, tolerance only goes one way.

-       Having an open mind doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with the next person. And, an open mind works better with a closed mouth. It’s easier to hear the other person if we aren’t talking at the same time.

-       You don’t need to be the “disagreeing” cop. There doesn’t have to be an opposing view on every. single. topic.

-       When you are taking a tolerant disagreeable stance, do so tolerably and peacefully. Antagonism isn’t pretty on you or anyone else.

-       When you lump me into any group – whether it be woman, Christian, conservative, mother, white, or whatever, you’ve lost credibility with me. If you don’t see me as an individual that is able to make my own decisions and live my life my way, then your voice becomes an annoying sound.

-       My experiences are different than yours. My history is different than yours. That makes us different – not right or wrong necessarily.

-       If you travel through your days without regularly reassessing and even heaven forbid say “I was wrong”, “now I see how you would think that way”, or “I should find out more about that”, then you need to re-evaluate your trip.

-       Someone younger than you can be wiser than you. And, an older voice does hold great value even if you don’t want to consider hearing that voice.

-       When reading or listening, consider the source. Many, many times (especially in the ag world) the source has an agenda. The agenda usually is backed up with money and is several layers deep. It’s there nonetheless.

-       Sometimes you need to type your response out on a separate program, let it sit for a few minutes, reread it before you hit send. Instant communication is not always a blessing. Too often the emotions run the mouth and the brain is totally left out.

Bottom line – we are more alike than we are different. The different is just louder.
      We all bleed blood.
      We all love someone somewhere.
      We all have been hurt along the way.
      We all have good and evil within us.
      We all choose our words and actions.
      We all are responsible for ourselves and for the most part no one else.
      We all could do better.


When, not if,  another horrible incident like 9-11 happens again I will guarantee you we will come together. We are better than we are acting. The problem is the way we are acting is weakening us. The more divided we are the less we will be able to fight together. 

I think it would be good for us to all step back, take a breath and try to see the other person through different eyes. Let’s put down the magnifying glass and pick up our prescription glasses. The ones that are prescribed with love, joy, compassion and caring.

I see you. Do you see me?

 

What’s Wrong/Right with the Church?

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I’ve been involved in church since I was 1 week old. Attending, volunteering, on staff. Had many family members and friends as pastors, staff members. I know enough to know that those within leadership have flaws like everyone else.

  So why do I think I have the ability to write this and why? Well, I’m in a unique place right now. Not on staff, have time to reflect over years of involvement with many many churches and why not. This is not out of anger, bitterness, rejection – just plain contemplation.

And, chances are I am not talking about your church. This is multiple churches and 50+ years (oh my Gosh! Am I that old????) worth of reflections.

First of all, the church (which is flesh and blood) has many components and within those are many pieces. You have leadership in general, the pastor, the assistants, the staff, the teachers, the volunteers, the pew sitters, the C & E Christians (Christmas and Easter) and hopefully the curious new ones who want to find out what this Christianity is all about.

The first thing we need to realize (and this is 100% my opinion so if you don’t want to know what I think – and there are many of you who couldn’t care less – then you can stop reading now. For the rest of you wonderful people – carry on.) is that there is no difference in one’s value based on a title or job within the church walls. And, there are times that the casual pew sitter may have a better handle on what Jesus wants than the most esteemed pastor.

So here goes . . .

Leadership should be known. The general congregation should see and know who does what and why. If you’re a small church introduce a few each Sunday on a continual basis. If you’re larger highlight them in the bulletin or video announcements. Make them known and accessible.

Leadership needs to be held accountable. There should be no one person to make major decisions. Every person should be held in check.

Every leader should be able to be challenged – maybe a strong word – should be able to be questioned about any decision and be willing to hear and consider what is brought to them.

Pastors – you may have the toughest job of any. You can’t please everyone and that is not your job. There is One you are to strive to please and that is God alone. Your message should be offensive at times to some of us. And, please don’t just tell us how wonderful your marriage is or that your everyday activities are so holy that there is a bright light following you. We need to hear where you mess up. We need to hear that you might slip and cuss, get angry or be rude with someone. Once we hear that then you can show us how you – with the help of the Holy Spirit – corrected your mess ups.

I don’t know if this falls under leadership or pastor, but shape your church around your congregation, leaving room to expand to other people groups and culture. Do not try to make your church a hip, young, college church if the demographics are families with young kids. Do not try to push people into the newest electronic device or app when there are many who don’t use or don’t have access. The only direction we should be a proponent of is towards God. We should be leading (which means we are in front of) everyone towards God. Don’t remove the Word of God, tracts or any other helpful resources from a convenient place for people to retrieve just because it doesn’t match your décor. Do get out in your community and invite them in. Do have special events of all genre to see what brings results. And for goodness sakes, if you hit upon an event that fills your church – continue – maybe that’s the area God has given you to use.

Assistants and departments within the church – the minute you think you are more important than ANY other person on staff, you’ve failed. If your department provides a service for other departments, you should have no favorite kids. We are all family. Our goal is for all to succeed and committing to do whatever it takes for each other to excel is a win win for ALL – especially those in the pews (who happen to be our real bosses anyway).

I love music and the all the lights and special effects in the sanctuary – but not at the expense of those sitting in the pews. We get it that you are trying to create something TV worthy but not at the expense of those sitting right in front of you. Singing in the dark is no more holy than in the light. And, if the decibel reader is continually on the dangerous level then we are not serving those within our walls. When you are truly real and raw is when Jesus shows up and we are blessed beyond any words. Your beautiful God loving voice and spirit brings us all together in the most precious part of worship.

There will be a special place in heaven for teachers and volunteers, I think. You are at times the first “Jesus” person some see when they walk in the door. You may be the first person to introduce God’s love to those – young and old. You could be the only person to smile at a child, reach out and physically touch someone, or actually listen to an older person. There is so much Jesus happening with you and it happens best when you leave you behind and keep Jesus between you and those you are serving.

For those of us sitting in the pews, we experience the best when we forget about those around us. Yes, there are those who look different than us, act differently than us and may even smell differently than we do. And, when service is over, we don’t need to compare notes with others about what we didn’t like. Perhaps, what we didn’t like is exactly what God wanted us to hear and mull over.

And, this is the final, touchy one. I think we as a church leave out the “communities” we are uncomfortable with. The handicapped, the homeless, the gay/lesbian, the “don’t fit in” people. I get it that we preach the gospel and it does have passages against some of these life styles, but there is absolutely no passage against their life. We need to get uncomfortable and invite, welcome and love ALL people into our group.

If we are concerned about a certain sin over another other then we’ve really missed our calling. God called us to love him and love one another. And, we can’t do that with exclusion. We can’t bring people in with the idea that we are going to change the way they live. We should be bringing people in to introduce them to God and to help them have a real, honest connection to the Holy Spirit. It’s his job to do the changing. No where do I read that I’m supposed to chastise, convict or point out another one’s sin and minister to his need to change. Some of us Christians feel like that’s our job. I really don’t think so – and it’s my opinion again.

And, the church is not just Sunday within the walls. Church is you in the grocery line behind a harried mother offering to help. Church is you in the parking lot waving someone into the parking spot you wanted. Church is you holding open a door, picking up litter, putting that grocery cart wandering around the parking lot back into its place. Church is you smiling and telling the cashier they are doing a good job. Church is you paying a bill for someone anonymously. Church is you driving someone to their appointment, making a meal, offering to take kids for a few hours to give parents a break. Church is sending cards in the mail, stopping for a short visit. Church is NEVER done.

I’m not sure why I wrote this – but I hope I’ve encouraged someone to get out there and be a better church. A more deliberate church. A church that others want to spend time with. A church that makes God smile.

 

 

Another Farm Death

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I just shared another post on face book about a family farm going under.

My first thought – “Oh, no, another one. Lord please surround these people with your love.”

And then this emotion that I can’t name (I think it is sadness, anger, despair, grief all mixed together) rose up and my mind screamed “What are we going to do about this? What is going to happen?”

That thought was followed by – “How would/did this play out for other professions?”

I wonder if the medical field, the entertainment field, the sports field professions were falling like flies – what would be the reaction?

I’ve noticed a few times lately with the entertainment industry that has had a canceled program will be revived if enough fans speak up.

The sports industry seems to thrive no matter what – although I really have no clue what’s going on on the inside. And, it’s on the inside that the truth lives.

So, how is it the main profession that keeps America, the world alive is so infected and diseased that farm after farm is dying. Farms are being amputated and there are miscarriages and terminally ill farms all over America.

Who do we blame? Who can help? What can be done?

All questions I have that are void of answers.

The intriguing part of this is that the people who survive because of this profession either have no clue or couldn’t care less.

Week after week they walk in to the grocery store, fill up their cart, take it home and place it in the fridge or cupboards. Many times, the fridge will need to be cleaned out and wasted food thrown away before the “new” food can be stored.

Food is such an easy, cheap commodity in America.

Meanwhile, back on the farm we are working more hours with no pay just trying to keep our life intact. There are no vacations, no sick days, no holidays no bonuses. The life that was once a joyful fulfillment is heavy with worry, fear and uncertainty for many.

Once again, who can we blame – and what good will that do?

A better question is who can help?

No farmer I know wants a hand-out. A hand-up for a period of time would be wonderful. To be able to make a living using our passion filled abilities is really all most of us want.

And, this isn’t just affecting the “little guys”.  There may be some mega farms that have figured out how to survive. But it’s all relative. What’s large for one person is not so for another. Farmers pointing fingers at other farmers won’t help a thing.

I’m not really sure there is an expectation for this post other than trying to dump my feelings onto paper (e-paper?) to try to relieve the heaviness of carrying it around.

There are a couple things I would like to ask though.

Please pray. Pray for farmers everywhere. Farmers are now the number one group of people committing suicide.

Pay attention to what you eat and wear. You can’t go very far without eating, wearing or running into something that came from a farmer.

Show your appreciation when you can. A thank you on social media, a note in the mail would be an easy encouragement.

If you have a question, please just ask us. Don’t believe what you read. There are so many mistruths and flat out lies (which would be a whole ‘nother blog post) being pushed on us.

As a dairy farmer with 4th and 5th generation coming behind we are committed to hang on and continue as long as possible with the hope that the clouds will part and the sun will once again shine.

 

 

Sadly, Fear Trumps Facts

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There is so much fear-based information or I should say lack of information out there right now especially concerning glyphosate.

If you really want to grab someone’s attention – use fear. Convince us we are hurting, depriving or harming our children or family members and we will jump at the chance to keep them safe.

And, why would any company want to scare us into choosing their product? Could it be that the bottom line is the almighty dollar?

Fear is an emotion and it’s much easier for emotions to rule than having to take the time to find facts.

Fear us easily understood and can reach out and grab much easier than looking for facts.

Facts on the other hand are cold and carry no warm and fuzzy feelings like emotions. Facts take a little time to read and understand. The science behind some of the testing is hard to understand.

People accuse us farmers of being paid by chemical companies to use their products. If only. As a farmer we are using the best products to help us be profitable. After all, farming is our business as well as our life. We have to be profitable to live.

I love my family as much as the next person as do most farmers (I can’t speak for all). But I would never use anything that I thought would harm them.

And, I get the whole emotional, passionate part. I’m emotional and passionate about the fact that as farmers we are so misunderstood. We farmers feel the blows of every “expert” that damns us or what we are trying to do – feed people.

So, let’s put our feelings aside and purpose to find real information – from both sides – that is credible and not driven by a group that is formed from emotions concerning issues.

Let’s hold our tongues, listen to each other, look honestly at the sources of our information.

Above all, let civility rein.

And maybe have a little love for each other.

This is one good source of information if you desire to learn:

https://fafdl.org/blog/2017/04/13/glyphosate-vs-caffeine-acute-and-chronic-toxicity-assessments-explained/

 

 

How to Pray for Farmers

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1.     For Wisdom – for God to show them when to move and when to stand fast. To make the right decision that will bring prosperity.

2.     For Faith – that they will stay steadfast knowing God loves them and is hearing their petitions and is working things out even when it doesn’t appear that way.

3.     For Good Health – Farmers work hard, long hours and don’t have time or resources to deal with sickness.

4.     For Strength – Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

5.     For Peace – to know that even in the tough times they are not walking alone.

6.     For Protection – to keep them safe from injury or accidents.

7.     For Prosperity – that bills would be paid, loans paid off, extra in the bank and the desire and ability to bless others.

8.     For Joy – in the midst of all this, a joyful heart with gratitude for all God is.

9.     For Love – to be able to love ALL people, even those who speak against and falsely towards them.

10.  For Grace – for all things that come into their lives.

Above all things – thank God that there are those who work this hard to feed you and your family. And, when possible speak some words of encouragement to them.

What Does “Whack A Mole” and the movie “Groundhog Day” Have to do with Farming?

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Wondering about that title?

Farming is hard. Not just hard it’s more than hard. Great families are losing their farms daily. And it has nothing to do with business choices, bad management, lack of work ethic or any other issue the farmer could control.

As farmers we are a resilient bunch yet there comes a time when it’s over.

Right now, as a farmer still hanging on by our fingernails I couldn’t help but see the resemblance to the “Whack a Mole” game.

I feel like every morning we get up, go out with expectations that the day will be better than yesterday and things will start turning around. While we are pushing ourselves upwards and towards that evasive light at the end of the tunnel, life happens and we get smacked back down.

A hit from low prices. A hit from bad weather. A hit from machinery breakdowns. A hit from insects. A hit from false news about farming. A hit from social media spreading mistruths. A hit from accident or injury. A hit from __________ fill in the blank – this could go on for a long time.

Day after day we continue to rise up, work hard, pray more only to be whacked down again.

How many times can you get hit before you are done? That’s the question all farmers are asking and too many, way too many have reached that point.

While I don’t remember all the details from the movie “Groundhog Day” the part I remember is that each day is a repeat of the day before.

Farmers would be key characters in “Groundhog Day”. Each morning you start out thinking it’s a new day only to find yourself repeating the thoughts of “maybe tomorrow”, “how long can we do this”, “what can I do to change this”. As the hours wear on through the day the load feels heavier and heavier. Going to bed each night you try to talk yourself into thinking tomorrow will be different. Then, each morning you’re right at it again, day after day after day.

Farmers are tough. Some of the toughest people – physically, mentally and emotionally are farmers. The average person could never work this hard for this long for so little if there wasn’t a little bit of Superman inside.

All superheroes can only be super so long. Farmers are over burdened with depression and are committing suicide at a heart-breaking, record setting rate.

This isn’t going away. As long as there are people on the earth and as long as people need to eat, be clothed, have medicine and more, there will be a need for farmers.

Yet, how many of these food eating, crop wearing people ever give a thought to those who worked to provide it?

If you are a consumer there are a few things you can do to show your support for farmers.

1.     Please pray.

2.     Don’t listen to every person who slams farmers for their horrible practices. Find the source of your information and make sure they are credible. Search behind the source to see if they are connected with another group that would benefit from slamming farmers.

3.     If you have a question of concern – go to the source. Ask a farmer. There are tons of us on social media that would LOVE to help you understand.

4.     Don’t stand in judgement and think or speak that a farmer could have/should have done better.

5.     Thank a Farmer – speak some encouragement into their lives.

Lastly, for most of you reading this your food is less costly than just about anywhere else on the planet. Appreciate your spot on this ball of dirt and be grateful.

Little Traverse Lake . . . A Little Slice of Heaven

To some this is just a body of water, that holds seaweed, snails and fish.

To me it is that and so much more.

This is my childhood’s most precious memories. This is where we would spend our summer vacation. It was heaven on earth. Swimming, fishing, playing in the woods and to make it even more spectacular we would do all this with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

We would swim until our arms hung like wet noodles and our lips would be purple and slap together from shivering so hard.

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This lake holds hours of fishing in an overloaded boat where we were directed to be quiet or we would scare the fish. I remember fishing in wooden boats.

The campfires near the lake ate many a marshmallow and lulled us asleep.

Saturday night baths were a bar of soap and the lake.

Waking up at 6:00AM to slip “quietly” into the freezing cold lake was thwarted with the amphitheater sound system the water produced. You just can’t swim without splashing, squealing and giggling.

Snakes, turtles, crabs, minnows and blood suckers were fished from the lake.

Every summer one of the unknowns were – who will be in the cottage next to ours this year? Year after year we would meet new families spending their summer vacation at the neighbor’s cottages. Some of the families we saw more than once. A summer “boyfriend” was always a bonus.

One summer my brother and I were baptized in this water. Our Grandfather waded out into the lake with us and while the rest of the family watched from the dock, baptized us which added preciousness to our memories.

We found salamanders under logs, clams holding the world’s next largest pearls, chipmunks and other critters sharing the property.

The outhouse was a bonus of sorts. The stories, the bees, the smells!

I can’t eat fish today without my mind picturing my grandfather, father or uncles scaling and fileting fish under the tree on the blood and gut stained table they made for that purpose.

Whenever a cool breeze blows through cedar trees I am transported to that little cottage on the lake.

Upstairs in the cottage was one big room with 4 double beds. We would fight over who got what bed. Just getting up the steep narrow steps was a victory. And who needs anything besides heavy curtains hanging between the beds for privacy anyway?

Memories wouldn’t be complete without beestings, bug bites, pickers and a fishhook embedded in someone’s anatomy.

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Everything tasted better, smelled stronger and felt more intensely at the lake.

To some, this is a body of water. To me, this is a slice of what awaits us in heaven.

 

 

 

Shout Out to United Dairy Industry of Michigan - Use Them

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Here in Michigan we have and excellent source of help in promoting dairy. UDIM - United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

I get all my swag for our farm tours from them.

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They have been nothing but helpful and encouraging to us over the years and have afforded us great experiences.

Being highlighted as a Dairy Family at the Whitecaps game has been our favorite thus far.

 Throwing out one of the first pitches.

Throwing out one of the first pitches.

Our latest adventure was a photo, video shoot. Take a look.

 Don the photographer. First shot of the day. Son #2 and family.

Don the photographer. First shot of the day. Son #2 and family.

 Dan the video and drone guy.

Dan the video and drone guy.

 Getting set up for the "Milk Toast".

Getting set up for the "Milk Toast".

 The guys doing the "Milk Toast". Abby watching over it all.

The guys doing the "Milk Toast". Abby watching over it all.

 Then we added some puppy cuteness.

Then we added some puppy cuteness.

 Watch for this on August 26 - National Dog Day. Join UDIM on facebook.

Watch for this on August 26 - National Dog Day. Join UDIM on facebook.

 Then there was an interview. I do great on radio and behind the scenes so I passed this off to Son#2 and Daughter-in-law. Jolene was the expert at prying information out of him. Jane looking on while Dan is getting the camera ready.

Then there was an interview. I do great on radio and behind the scenes so I passed this off to Son#2 and Daughter-in-law. Jolene was the expert at prying information out of him. Jane looking on while Dan is getting the camera ready.

 I think the blooper reel will be better than the actual footage. All in all they did a great job.

I think the blooper reel will be better than the actual footage. All in all they did a great job.

 This was the best part. Watching and harassing during the interview.

This was the best part. Watching and harassing during the interview.

If you are a dairy in Michigan, please contact this great organization for help in promoting our product. They are so cooperative and have great ideas. Check them out:

 https://www.milkmeansmore.org

What the World Needs Now

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I just watched another dairy farm sell their cows and turn off the lights in their milk house for the last time.

While I know some people genuinely feel bad for them and fewer yet really get it, the majority of the world has no clue. And, to add to that, they couldn’t care less.

They don’t connect the loss of a dairy with any consequences in their life.

Let me “clue” you in.

Every time the bulk tank is emptied for the last time we don’t just lose a business. We lose a participant in a valuable lifestyle.

We lose someone who is willing to work long hard hours for little to nothing in return.

We lose someone who doesn’t stop until the job is done.

We lose someone who puts the needs of an animal over himself.

We lose someone who can withstand being covered in slime and poop.

We lose someone who learned from the previous generation and is teaching the next.

We lose someone who will pull a calf from its mother and do mouth to mouth to save its life.

We lose someone who soldiers through blown disks in their backs, broken bones and sore muscles.

We lose someone who can fix just about anything with duct tape, binder twine and wire.

We lose someone who sings off key as they lug full pails of warm milk so heavy it feels like your arms will be pulled out of their sockets.

We lose someone who tucks their kids in the corner of the cab on a pile of coats to take a nap.

We lose someone who walks through a cornfield that is curled and burned from too much sun and no rain while promising next year will be better.

We lose someone whose hands are knarled, cut and stained with grease and oil.

We lose someone who wrestles critters ten times their weight and cradles a fragile calf in their lap.

We lose someone whose word is as good as a legal document.

We lose someone whose character, integrity and reputation are natural daily activities.

The world doesn’t have enough souls with these qualities.

The world is thirsty for what we are losing.

The world will suffer a little more with each farm that dies.

The world needs to pay attention and be concerned.

 

 

 

Light in the Darkness

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Right now, it’s so easy to write about what’s wrong with farming.

Never ever have I felt so much distress and dismay about my life I live.

Never ever have we been working so physically hard with no light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel gets longer and darker as the days go by. And, the tunnel is getting crowded.

Work hard and success will follow is what I’ve been taught. Well, if that’s the case then Farmer would be a multi-millionaire.

Just about every time I open face book to any of my farm pages there is one more dairy farmer selling out. Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017, and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year according to USA Today.

Some will read this and think that’s too bad and never give it another thought. It’s not just losing a job. Losing your dairy farm that has been in the family for 100+ years is losing part of who you are. You feel like you are disappointing those who worked so hard to build it to this point and totally failing those coming after you who want nothing more than to continue the legacy.

When I first came to the farm I watched Farmer work alongside his father. Our sons have worked with Farmer and now a Grandson is working with his dad. There are times when we have three generations in the fields together.

 4th and 5th generation

4th and 5th generation

When people glibly suggest just sell out and take all that money and start something else they don’t have a clue. First of all there won’t be all that money. Some will be lucky to break even. Secondly, you can’t change the DNA of your dreams that easily or quickly.

Others have suggested building a bottling plant so we can have more control over the finished product. Well, I’d like to suggest that if the money was available to build a plant then we wouldn’t be in this position.

Everything in dairy farming takes time. It takes at least 9 months for a cow to be able to give milk once she has reached the age of breeding. You can’t turn on and off your milk productions quickly. There is no quick fix.

Part of the problem is some farmers are increasing their herd size to have a better cash flow. That is doing nothing but making things worse for the whole. Yet, I can’t fault someone for doing what they think is best for themselves.

The hopelessness for farmers has become deadly. According to Kansas Wheat, from 2014 to 2015, farm income dropped 95% and farm debt levels have increased by 25%. The farmers’ rate of suicide is 84.5 suicide deaths out of 100,000.

In an article in Civil Eats - Over the past year, media reports in Newsweek, the New York Times, and an in-depth piece in The Guardian have called attention to alarming rates of suicide among farmers and farmworkers, from grain growers in the Midwest to dairy farmers in the Northeast.

Basically, right now doing what we feel we were created to do is exhausting, depressing and is wrapped in hopelessness. So, it is really easy to write about what is wrong with being a dairy farmer.

I am challenging myself to find some light in all the darkness and share what is good about farming.

Here we go:

            Every day we get to enjoy the fresh air. We aren’t cooped up inside a building in front of a computer screen or repetitively doing the same thing.

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            Animals! There is something special about walking through the barns with cattle on both sides. It’s a calming effect. And, to help bring a new calf into the world is nothing short of miraculous.

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            The smells are heavenly – for the most part. The smell of fresh earth turned over in the spring and of course newly mown alfalfa is God’s perfume. Even the smell of manure is comforting at times.

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            Working side by side with your husband, son, daughter-in-law and grandkids is wonderful – especially when everyone is in a good place.

            Having employees that work with you and being able to pass blessings back and forth between each other is rewarding.

            Bringing guests to the farm to show and tell how God works is gratifying.

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I have been told more times than I can count that “God is in control”. I believe that. It’s just hard at times to trust that. Oh my, did I actually admit that? Yep, at times my trust muscle isn’t as strong as I wish.

How long will this last? How long will we be able to continue? Only God knows. I just wish he’d let me know.

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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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