Come Out of the Shadows

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I write.

Why?

I’m not sure, I just do.

For whatever reason, I write about feelings, emotions, personal issues. Sometimes the things people want to hide.

When crap happens, I want to show it. When things are hard and the outcome is unclear I want to reveal it. When a mistake is made I want to share it.

Why? Because we don’t live in a perfect world. So many are “perfecting” their lives, their pictures, their marriages, their professions, etc. in every way.

They “perfectly” speak about it, they stage “perfect” pictures for it, they create an unattainable “perfect” life.

Don’t get me wrong . . . when something good, great and Godly happens I’ll be the first to write about it – even that is discouraged by some. Some would say that is bragging. Baloney!

Sometimes truth is fun, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it sucks.

Being real and honest about feelings brings condemnation – if you’re really a Christian you would have more faith than that when writing about doubt and fear. Sorry to deflate your “spiritual bubble” but there is a whole lot written about a guy named Thomas – that we have coined a well know phrase about = Doubting Thomas.

Opening your world to the ugly things also brings criticism – you sell your cows to be butchered just because they don’t give enough milk? Yes, yes we do. It’s never an easy decision and it can hurt our hearts as well. But, we are running a business and business decisions have a lot of rough edges. Also, cows are a food source – they make milk and they bring meat to the table. They have a purpose and some don’t like it.

Sharing your confusion brings judgement – you should never ever have those questions. How dare you ask about that when you have never walked in their shoes or lived their lives. I ask, how can I ever understand those who are different than me if I don’t ask?

Real equates to emotions many try to hide or shove down because those emotions strip you of self-control. The last thing many want is to lose control.

For you who don’t want to lose control, I have a suggestion. Go sit in a corner and loose it. Cry your heart out, look at the ugly you’re trying to hide – there is probably something beautiful underneath all that “perfectly fake” you are hiding behind.

This world that is hiding in shadows and under layers of camouflage needs more of those who are willing to strip it off and stand naked in the light to show their faults. It will help us all when we look in the mirror and see our ugly.

 

 

 

Waves of Stress

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It comes in waves.

In between it slamming onto the shore and making you run back to dry land, you have some time to think “It will be OK”, “we can get this done”, “things will get better”.

Then a wave of bad weather. Too wet, too dry, too hot, snow too soon.

Then a reprieve in the weather and you get a few fields in and the waves recede. “Just maybe, we’ll be OK.”

Then a wave of broken-down machinery. The time to get the crops in is now, not a week from now when the parts come in.

Then a reprieve – you find a rental to get back into the field. Even though there is extra money involved, you think, maybe.

Then a wave of employee problems. They show up late, they are slow, they cause problems with others, they don’t show up at all.

Then a reprieve. Someone comes knocking on your door and has the same heart as yours and works tirelessly by your side. You think, we can do this together.

Then another wave. This one is stronger than the others before. This one feels like it will sweep you away. A wave of strife – between family members, between co-workers. Little annoyances become larger than life. Misunderstanding becomes the norm. Thankfulness and appreciation are replaced with criticism and ungratefulness. Offense is first, understanding and grace slips to the bottom of the page.

With every wave you lose a little energy to stay on your feet.

There are times when it’s hard to see you are not standing alone. That there is a God who cares and who sees all. There are times when you just want the wave to take you away so you don’t have to fight it. Surrender to the wave and be done with it all.

I pray for all farmers who deal daily with these waves of stress. I pray you will find a lifeboat to help when wave after wave comes in. There is no easy “rescue plan”.

I pray for farmers everywhere.

 

 

Words, Not Numbers

I like to decorate, clean, organize, make things look better. I like to attempt to put words together to create a picture or story. Farmer can do none of those – and he’s the first to admit that.

I can do numbers. I’m smart enough, I just don’t like to. Numbers don’t make you laugh or give you anticipation when you look at page full like a page of words.

There was a time when I had three different checking accounts. I had ESP written several times in the register – error some place - accompanied by stars and asterisks. I would just switch checking accounts and let the error die a natural death.

Now, Farmer – he loves the numbers.

When it comes to bringing the new cows into our system, not everything dumps in with the little thinga maboby – the scan disk. So, we had a touch (actually a dump truck full) of manual key dancing to do. And, I (place back of hand over my brow and tilt my head to the side) being the good wife helped him.

This is how the dance danced.

First things first on the computer - delete the old ID number of the cow. Then input the new ID number of the cow.

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Oh, that was after manually taking out the old number tags from the cow’s ear and replacing it with a new one while manually writing down the new number next to the print out of the old one – while in the barn – while the wind is blowing – while the poop is splatting – get the picture?

Back to the computer - enter the cow number tab, tab, tab enter the cow’s birthdate. Tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab (yes 13 tabs or run mouse over the top of a bumpy cardboard box on your lap) enter the last lactation date. Then one quick little tab to enter what number the lactation was. For instance, Cow # 3478 bd 07/31/2017 – lactation date 08/10/2019 – 1.

Also, this is in a small 3 X 3 office, well maybe a little bigger but it was a confined area with Farmer for 5.5 hours two days in a row. The fact that we both came out alive is a miracle in itself.

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Take a break from inputting and physically put together new responders (pedometers).

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Take new responders into the parlor where the cows are being milked. First mark down each cow’s number when in the parlor – front to back (8). Then write down new responder number (small, hard to read) beside the cow’s number and put responder on the cow’s back leg when the milker comes off. That last statement sounds so easy.

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The cows are still somewhat new to the parlor and they are getting better at being OK here with us, but still a little jumpy. So, reaching in to place the responder around the back leg, inserting the tab into the nice small slot and then pulling the tab through to tighten like a zip tie (just the right amount, not too tight but not too loose) all while avoiding her fidgeting and kicking her foot. That part isn’t so bad. It gets a little dicey when she’s just plain ticked off and starts kicking out to the side right about eyeball level and dang can they kick fast!

Then after recovering from the head bobbing, arm flinging responder attaching, we take the poop splattered paper with the list of numbers back into the 5X5 office, well maybe a little bigger.

Now, we “find” the cow’s number by inputting their number in the search bar, enter. Drag mouse to pen number, enter the pen number, tab, tab enter new responder number and then take mouse and drag to the save button (apparently any shortcut keys aren’t cow friendly) and then drag the mouse back up to the “find” window and repeat – 500 times!! Well, a little less than 500 but it felt like 800.

After about an hour of inputting four-digit numbers over and over again you would swear on your child’s life that 9764 had be entered several times or was it 9746? After the first data entry party our eyeballs were focusing independently. You wouldn’t think you could claim eye strain on workman’s comp for dairy farming.

The second day walking into the 6X6 office, well maybe a little bigger, my body started to shake a little and sweat broke out on my top lip – “not again, please, anything but this”.

But we persevered. We finished it. There was no blood shed.

Numbers are still not my favorite.

Perhaps we could replace numbers with words. Perhaps replace each cow’s number with a name. . . hmmm maybe that’s something worth looking into. But, then again it would mean going back into the lip sweating, heart pounding room again. I think we’ll just leave it at that and be grateful we managed with out any ESPs anywhere on the lists.

Faith Fulfilled - This Time

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As I drive around some of our property I am amazed at what I see. This corn field is looking great compared to what some of our other fields are.  

Some farmers are looking at an empty field because they just could not get the seed in the ground this spring.

This has been one of the hardest years for farming – This phrase is being said way too much. So much that many don’t hear the truth of the statement.

We were weeks behind in planting due to rain. Then we had even more rain.
Finally, after tirelessly working in between the rains the seed was in the ground.

Once the corn was up and growing we had a stretch of drought to the point that the corn was curling and the thought passed through our mind – would there be rain soon enough to save the corn?

Prayers were being sent heaven ward to extend the growing season so the corn would have a chance to mature.

Throughout the growing period some farms lost growing fields of crops because of hailstorms. Others through flooding of the fields.

In faith, farmers sowed the seeds.

In faith, farmers prayed for dry weather and sunshine.

In faith, farmers prayed for rain.

In faith, farmers prayed for protection over their crops during storms.

In faith, farmers kept moving forward.

It’s harvest time. Will faith be fulfilled?

For us, in this field, we have fulfilled faith. Not all farmers can say that, nor can we for all our fields. Or, can we?

Our human ability to have faith sometimes relies on what we can see. It relies on having the results turn out the way we rehearsed.

Some farmers had faith that their farm would stand for another year, yet they had to close their barn doors. Is that failed faith?

Standing in a hail driven, beaten down corn field doesn’t shout faith fulfilled.

Yet, once we get past our expectations of what faith fulfilled should look like and get over our disappointments and grief, many times faith fulfilled comes through.

I’ve spoken to many, who sent their last cow away, say that in time all is well. God came through. Life continued and for many it was better than before.

There are so many scenarios of faith fulfilled. My picture will be different than yours. We should never hang our pictures side by side and compare.

For us, this field, this time, faith fulfilled in the manor we personally wanted.

Next field, next time, faith will be fulfilled – perhaps not our version and it may take time for us to see it, but our faith stands on this platform – God has NEVER failed us yet.

Please continue to pray for farmers everywhere.

 

 

Table Talk = Big Changes Part II

One of our new girls looks like we feel.  A new place to become familiar with and find our way.

One of our new girls looks like we feel. A new place to become familiar with and find our way.

So, if you haven’t read my previous blog, you can here:  https://www.afarmwife.com/www.afarmwife.com/2019/10/11/2r3yyv2bdvrgbg8377l5tva958ol66

It would be helpful to understand this blog.

With our farm expansion I have inner turmoil, false guilt and some apprehension.

Every single day farmers are closing the barn door for the last time. It sickens and saddens me. There are multiple reasons why this is happening. One idea that is popular is “big farms are eating up the small farms”. And, those big farms are always the big, bad corporate farms that are uncaring and cruel to their animals and people. They are only in it for the money.

In the scheme of things, we are definitely not a large farm. For us we have grown larger but definitely not what we would consider a large farm. Having said that we also are not a smaller mom and pops farm either. I guess it’s your perception on size.

Our size does make us a CAFO farm which some have attached to Corporate Farming. I have no idea what corporate farming is. We are still a family farm. We have three generations daily working side by side with our employees. We are the first to arrive and the last to go home.

So, while I grieve with other farmers leaving the business I have some guilt that we are making it thus far.

And, that we have added to our numbers is also considered bad by some. The thing is, while we added to our personal farm we did not add to the market. We basically relocated the dairy cows and now the milk is coming from a different location.

Farming is a business as well as a way of life. If you can’t keep the business going, the life will stop. For us, expanding was a calculated move for our business.

Our main goal is to keep this family farm alive as long as there is family who want to farm. Our son is the fourth generation and while it hasn’t been determined, his son – the fifth generation is leaning towards that.

Within myself I have the excitement for the new experience feeling fighting with the knowledge that some will think our decision is hurting other farmers.

I purpose to be respectful and supportive of all farms. I support organic as an alternative. Not better, just different. I know some farmers grow product that competes with dairy. I support their farming choices but will point out the differences in our products. I am not concerned whether you milk 50 or 5,000. We’re all in this together.

Will there be criticism from others, even farmers? Could be. I’m sure the “all knowing, never farmed” people will have no problem speaking up.

In the spirit of transparency which I tout and believe to be the best tool to communicate I felt I needed to share this.

I hope our intentions of keeping a family way of life alive for those coming after us helps everyone to see our heart and reason for our decision.

A view from the new satelite dairy.

A view from the new satelite dairy.

Which way do I go?

Which way do I go?

 

 

 

Table Talk = Big Changes

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This is not just a dining room table.

This is where a lot of decisions are made.

And here is the latest:

At the beginning of the year we sat here with our bankers, nutritionist, herdsman, and dairy consultant. We discussed the farm and how we were doing. It’s been a very rough 5 years. We discussed and put into practice all the cuts and savings we could. We discussed how and if we could downsize. We discussed many scenarios.

Somewhere along the line we started talking about a dairy that was just north of us that was being leased by another farmer who decided to move his herd east. So, we knew the dairy might be available.

This facility is owned by a friend with like values and morals. He keeps his farm pristine, is a good businessman and has a great reputation in the community.

We worked several months putting together all the costs to create a satellite dairy. The dining room table meetings with all the players continued. Farmer and Son met with the owner and meetings with him began.

We decided we would do one thing at this location – milk cows. Any sick cows and dry cows would be brought to our main farm. All calving would be done on the main farm. The satellite dairy would be 100% milking.

After several meetings we and the owner came to an agreement.

Backing up a bit, we prayed right from the start for God to swing wide open the doors or slam them shut so tight we couldn’t get them open if we tried.

When it looked like it might be a possibility I asked in one of my private ag face book pages that we were looking for cows and wondered if anyone would have suggestions. I received a private message from a friend/acquaintance. They were considering leaving the dairy business because their son was not interested in continuing the family farm.

This herd is an award-winning herd, excellent in all ways. Farmer and our herdsman traveled to the east side of the state to take a look. They liked what they saw and after a few meetings a deal was made.

The owners took excellent care of the cattle until we were ready at the new dairy. We knew we were getting quality cows from wonderful people.

We figured out we would need six new employees and thought that would be one of the harder things to acquire since it has been a little tricky the last few years.

Six people came knocking on our door asking for a job – before we ever put the word out. Two couples and two other men. It’s been a learning curve for all of us, the employees and the cows. I have to say that I think our employees are awesome. We’ve had nothing but extra help from those on the home farm and the new dairy.

Somewhere along the line Farmer was connected to another farm up north of us. They had a similar scenario. Their son wouldn’t be able to continue the farm. Their herd was a high producing quality herd. That herd finished our need for cows.

We started loading the herd from east at 4:20ish AM

We started loading the herd from east at 4:20ish AM

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The first of October we loaded 10 semis with cows to head west. Hauling cattle was another new thing for us – at least on this level. We’ve heard horror stories.


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I would like to say Long Drive Farm Trucking was excellent in many ways. They were on time, took their time loading the animals and did it in a way that we would if we were doing it ourselves. Coaxing, whistling and a little prodding – never hitting, or abusing the animals in anyway.

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One week later we traveled up north to bring home the rest of the cows. We brought five semi loads home.

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Son #2 perched up top fixing a pulsator.

Son #2 perched up top fixing a pulsator.

We had a few glitches when we first started milking but we are getting them ironed out. The cows are settling down and getting into their new routine. We are working out a few issues with the facility that comes once you start.

The first new cow coming up to the parlor.

The first new cow coming up to the parlor.

The first set of new cows milked.

The first set of new cows milked.

Now, along with keeping the original farm going, and spending a lot of energy at the satellite facility we started chopping corn.

We will see how this all goes. Stepping out in faith for me is like taking a step into a flowing river, being told there will be a rock a few inches under. I know the Person reassuring me that the rock is there. Even though I can’t see it beneath the white rippling of water, He is speaking truth. I have to fight the idea that if I step and the rock isn’t there I’ll be swept down the river. I have to look at the other side where I want to arrive, purpose to move while reminding myself the trustworthiness, the dependability of the Person and His love for me.

Stay tuned for part two of this and why it took so long to get this blog out.

 

 

Fourty Five Years Ago Today, Around 9:00 am . . .

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45 years ago, today, around 9:00 am God opened the door for me to fulfil my purpose in life. 

45 years ago, today, around 9:00 am God gave me my first *son.

45 years ago, today, around 9:00 am I started on the journey of raising four amazing, Godly, strong, yet, gentle men.

My sons have the perfect blend of strength, courage, determination, toughness, tenderness and joy.

They have won trophy’s for baseball, football, and medals in wrestling. They can carry a gun effectively yet cradle a babe with love softer than a cashmere blanket.

When they were younger I was Matt’s mom, Dan’s, Ben’s or Zack’s mom. I am still proud to be known as that.

They will go out of their way to help yet sit back just waiting for the practical joke to play out in front of their eyes.

They laugh hard, play hard and will argue to the death over their passions. They are all hungry to learn and experience life.

If there was a “do over” button where I could go back and do something again it would start on this day 45 years ago. I’ve never been happier, more fulfilled than when I was raising my sons. I had a purpose – to raise strong men that treated all kindly. To teach them to seek God. To see his miracles daily, not to take anything for granted. To know they were valuable for who they were, not what they did. I wanted them to know they had a responsibility to strive for excellence – not perfection. To know they had things within them that no other person did. That God had a purpose, a destiny designed for them and them alone.

They open doors, give up their seats for women and those who need the seat. They remove their hats when the National Anthem is played. They shake hands with strength while looking that person in the eyes. They stop along the roadside to help when it is needed and supply Christmas gifts to a family that wouldn’t have any without help.

They are appreciative. They speak “thank you”, “I love you” and my favorite “that was so good mom” after our family dinners.

They cajole me, egg me on, make fun of me, tease me and tolerate me daily. If I am ever in need there are no others I would want to come to my defense. And if you’re the problem, look out.

I never had a desire to become someone great. My desire was to raise sons that would be. In my eyes there are no other men that fit the bill as being great in my eyes.

45 years ago, today, around 9:00am God opened the doors for my destiny to begin.

Thank you God for 45 years and counting of enjoying the desires of my heart.

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*Happy Birthday to my most favorite Number One Son. You were the beginning of my favorite position on earth. Love you more than you will ever know.

 

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Harvest Brings New Energy

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Harvest is around the corner for us.

We should be in full swing but everything is weeks behind due to the weather.

It feels like we’ve fought against Mother Nature all year long and shortly we will see who won.

Will we have enough feed for our cows? How much will we have to buy to get through to next year where we hope to have a better season?

We always get a little surge of energy at this time. Maybe it’s like a runner rounding the last bend and he can see the finish line. The weird thing is, for farmers there is never a finish line – at least for dairy farmers. It’s ongoing. Never stops. It just changes in the activities and demands.

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There is a good feeling that comes with harvest. A satisfaction fills you as you watch the chopper chew up the corn stalks for silage. And watching the corn kernels flow from the combine into the grain truck can be mesmerizing. 

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And, the colors – oh the beautiful earthy colors. The amazement of traveling through a corn field when in a flash it comes to life in a form of a big buck that was camouflaged just a second ago.

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The fall leaves that decorate the trees that border the fields give a reward every time to get to the end and turn around.

The air just smells different.

The coolness of the mornings calls for sweatshirts or jackets compared to starting the day off sticky and sleeveless.

 

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Along with all this there will be tractors and farm machinery sharing the roads a little more than usual. Please, please be careful and respectful when driving near and behind. You can’t be seen and we can’t stop on a dime. Give us a wide berth and extra time. We all want to go home at the end of the day.

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Happy Fall Ya’ll!

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.