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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Took Normal For Granted

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I was driving past a grocery store and saw a man with an 8-year-old or so walking out to their car. The boy was swinging a bag and the man (I’m guessing dad) was walking along side. They were chatting and laughing a little.

In my head I said, “I bet he just thinks this is a normal stop at the grocery store.” Actually, he probably wasn’t thinking anything about the incident but what was going to happen next – where they were going, what they would be doing.

Every time I see an adult with their child there is a sweet sadness that wafts over me. My most favorite time of my life has been when I was in the middle of raising my sons. I really can’t explain it other than I think that was what I was created to do.

The thing is, I didn’t realize it at the time. Oh, I was having a good time. I just didn’t put enough value on it. It was just normal for me.

It was normal to dig worms out of jeans pockets, fish jackknives from the washing machine, bandage miscellaneous body parts. It was normal to have to mop the bathroom floor after a bath. It was normal to break up fights, to wrestle one down to clean their ears, to tell them 4 or 5 times to brush their teeth.

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Normal came in so many varieties.

Leaving clothes lay around and not taking clean clothes back upstairs. Chunks of mud on the floor in zig zag designs from their shoes. Ripped jeans and stretched out stained T-shirts. Endless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the mountains of chocolate chip cookies made. The list could go on for a long time.

After the boys were all grown and left the nest I stayed busy in many ways. I was on my back-porch swing with one of my wigglies and I remember asking God if he could give me something great to do. I wanted to do something that would have impact – especially for him.

He spoke to my heart. “You don’t need something great to do. I have blessed you with so many things and you have much to do. It doesn’t have to be big. You need to pay attention to the everyday things put in front of you. Celebrate the Ordinary.”

Celebrate the Ordinary became my new life’s purpose.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually found a Bible verse to back this up.

Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah. Psalm 68:19.

Daily, ordinary, normal benefits that we lose sight of. 

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Young parents that are frazzled by the mountains of dirty clothes, homework, chauffeuring kids from place to place. The huge grocery bill for the bottomless pit kids, the constant correction needing to be given are all blessings. Don’t let these “normal” days and years pass you by.

The same could be said in every stage of our lives.

The newlyweds that laugh at each other’s not funny jokes, the spontaneous trips, sleeping in on the weekend – whatever it is that newlyweds do.

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Those with older parents that you are caring for. The constant doctor’s appointments, the reminding over and over, the frustrations of care giving. It will all be a thing of the past and you will long for one more conversation. These are precious blessings – not normal nor ordinary.

No matter where you are in life, chances are you need to stop and pay attention to the ordinary. Normal, ordinary are blessings from God. There is much more joy in life when you appreciate what God gives daily.

Purpose to not let the normal go unnoticed.

 

 

 

 

 

A Mother's Day Tribute

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There are four reasons why I can celebrate Mother’s Day. And this is in acknowledgment of them.

Son #1 – It’s a wonder he’s alive. The first one is the experimental, learning one. He came into the world backwards and caused the start of C-sections in my future. I will spare you the details other than saying it wasn’t the best bonding experience. Trying to do a spinal that didn’t work and waking up to a new baby - it was quite the initiation into motherhood.

He has all the first-born virtues. He’s like me when it comes to certain things – mostly all his good qualities. He now owns Anchorage Yacht Sales and jumping into one of his “boats” is a luxury for us. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the first.

Son #2 – He came into the world during a blizzard. Also, C-section. This time I was awake and got to meet him sooner.

He has my softer, sentimental traits. He is also the one who has the best memories of incidents, lines from movies and odd randomness stored within his cerebral housing. He also it the MacGyver of the family. Give him duct tape, a little wire and you will lack nothing. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the second.

Son #3 – He’s a mix between first born and the middle child. I waited five years between him and #2. He was the smiley, happiest of all the sons.

He is our techy guy. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times – “did you google it?” – when asking him for help. He also is one that can spout correct information about the most random things. He’s an avid podcast listener and has a plethora of topics he has learned.

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He’s a lot like me when it comes to righteous indignation. We both can have a zealous streak every now and then – more now than then. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the third.

Son#4 – My last hurrah. The others say he is spoiled. I prefer to think he was easier – by the time he came along I was on auto pilot and not much freaked me out with him.

He’s a mix of his previous brothers. I also think he tolerates me the most. Probably because he was picked on and called “the favorite” by three older brothers and I went to his defense. Well, not really, he could hold his own but they said I always intervened. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the final one.

Being Mom to these four have been my greatest joy. I am proud of each of them and who they have become.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 89 to the Best Dad Ever!

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Today is a very special day – my dad’s 89th birthday.

 How is it that I was chosen to have him as my father? I’m not sure how God decides but I am so grateful I was chosen to be his daughter. 

From the very beginning my dad has been a big presence in my life. I remember “helping” him when he was building our home. He built my childhood home just about single handedly. And, it’s wonderful to be able to come home to that same house.

I remember him helping me to ride a bike. I learned to plant sweet corn with him. When we went fishing up north it wasn’t “we” that fished. It was me – he was continually baiting my hook, removing a fish or untangling my line.

On Sunday mornings before church we used to kneel and pray in the living room. I remember liking to be by his side.

He took me to piano lessons – which I totally felt was a waste of time.

He spent a lot of time building the church we went to. It was fun to see behind the scenes as the building was going up.

He was by my side at church when I accepted Christ and when I was accepted by my husband.

Growing up he always stopped in at bedtime and sat on the edge of the bed and told me how much he loved me.

Never do we say good-bye in person or on the phone without me hearing "I love you and I'm so proud of you."

My dad has been involved in my life and I love him so much.

This is hands down one of my top 5 favorite pictures. My dad with my sons in rapt attention.

This is hands down one of my top 5 favorite pictures. My dad with my sons in rapt attention.

Back porch swing wisdom.

Back porch swing wisdom.

Now, he’s also my kids’ Grampa. And all my boys are drawn to him and will sit and listen to his stories of how he grew up etc.

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 My dad is an avid bird lover and care taker. He is constantly redesigning bird houses to help the birds stay at the feeder longer.

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 My dad is tough – a couple of years ago he went through a year of medical treatments that were discouraging, time consuming and limited his involvement in life. He made it through fine.

And, all of this is a result in his relationship with God. That has always been the plumb line in our family.

Over and over again, my dad pointed out how God was working things out and that his Presence was responsible for all.

So, I want to wish my wonderful father a Happy Birthday, tell the world how great he is and I pray you all have a father or father figure in your life as wonderful as I do.

 

 

Who Is A Farm Wife and Why Does She Blog?

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With all my (notice I’ve claimed you as mine) newer followers/peeps, I thought I’d take a minute and introduce myself. Some of you probably have no clue about who I am, where I came from and why I am here. So, if you’re at all interested, continue, otherwise … 

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I’m a wife of 47+ years, mother to 4 wonderful sons, with 3 of the best daughters-in-law (yes, still have one amazingly handsome son available in case you’re interested) and 8 of the craziest, beautiful grandkids.

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We have a dairy farm in the West MI area where we employ about 15 great partners in ag. We milk around 750 Holsteins three times a day in a double 12 herringbone. We farm around 1200 acres. We have been rooted here for over 120 years. We still have those big tall blue silos which are great to look at but time and work intensive compared to other ways to store feed.

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Farmer, myself, Son #2, his wife and kids are the family members who now run the farm.

Those are the bare bone facts of the farm.

Some back story of myself -since I know ya’ll are on the edge of your seat.

I was raised on the east side of MI. My dad was a tool and die maker for General Motors. My life there was the complete opposite of what it is now. My dad was home every day by 4:00. We had supper every night. He was home on the weekends and we took summer vacations.

I graduated at 17 in June, turned 18 in July and got married in September. So, I walked down the city church aisle into the barnyard. OMGosh. What a culture change to say the least.

I was not prepared – probably because I was so in lust um I mean love with this dashing handsome hunk of a farmer I paid no attention to any other details of my life to come.

The first year or so of our marriage was getting used to doing things differently (me, not him). While it was just the two of us it was fine, I could work with late nights, no suppers around the table, no vacations etc. I helped with calf feeding and rode along in any and all farm machinery.

The hard part came when the kids came and I was a single mom with a husband somewhere within a 10-mile radius. Remember there were no cell phones, no texting. Not having the core family, I wanted was difficult. Farmer left before everyone was up and came home later in the evening after we had supper. Sunday dinner was the only dinner we had together as a family.

The farm became my enemy. I hated it. I hated everything about it.

For several years I was buried in taking care of the kids. School, sports, feeding them, cleaning them, clothing them, everything. Farmer was around but not always within if you know what I mean.

As the kids got older we all got more involved and that’s when the love affair began. I would take supper out to the fields and the kids would ride along falling asleep behind the seat – before buddy seats.

We learned the dance and at times it was as easy and as graceful as a waltz. Other times it was like a herky jerky.

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Other than my God, and my family there is nothing I am more passionate about than our farm. We are so blessed to take care of these critters and creation.

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What do I do for/on the farm? I take care of the books – and now will be transitioning that to my daughter-in-law. I help take care of the grounds – a whole lot of mowing, weed whacking and flowering over there. I also deliver – food and folks from field to field. I merge hay – my one and only field job (I’ve realized it’s best not to learn anything else). I cook for our guys, I run for parts, I help with vet events at the farm. I feed calves; I chase cows I do whatever I can when I can. I listen to farmer complain; I listen to son complain. I try to mediate and be the peacemaker at times.

While it is all hard work, I do love it. I enjoy having the ability to physically continue to work until it hurts (which comes faster and easier).

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My back porch and the barnyard are my islands of sanity. In the summer I migrate to the porch whenever I can. It’s a great place to quiet myself, listen to God, and connect with the quietness I desperately need at times. Walking through the barns with my BEBs (Brown Eyed Bossies) the shuffling, mooing, clanking all those small noises become a melody that calms my soul.

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I pray over my cows, I cry over my cows, and I dance with my calves. God knew what he was doing when he connected me with that cute farmer boy.

Next: Part #2 – Why do I do social media?

47 Sundays

We are short one person at the main table today.

We are short one person at the main table today.

47 Sundays – what? That’s approximately how many family Sunday dinners I make each year. 

47 Sundays – when? 1:00 PM – plenty of time for everyone’s church to be done and out.

47 Sundays – why? When I was raising our four sons Farmer was gone 80% of the time. The other 20% he was either eating or sleeping – at least that’s what it felt like. Sundays on the farm we only do the necessities.

When the kids were young he would go do chores, come home and we would all go to church. We would eat Sunday dinner together and he would sleep all afternoon until time to go do chores again. We would go to church at night and then maybe an hour or so hanging out as a family and then bed.

Sundays were the worst. He was exhausted from being at the farm all week and I was totally wiped out from raising 4 kids alone. Then on Sunday when I would have done just about anything to get someone to help so I could take a short nap, I was still taking care of the kids alone.

My kids didn’t nap. They hardly slept at night it felt like. For many years there was at least one or two kids who couldn’t be left alone so I could take a short snooze. I was exhausted for many years.

It was then that I decided that if I ever had daughters-in-law and if they lived nearby I would offer Sunday dinner. That way they would have at least one day to look forward to in order to have a break and little less they had to do.

If I would have known that for one meal a week I could walk in and let my kids loose and eat dinner it would have been heaven.

So, for too many years to count I have been having the pleasure of treating my daughters-in-law to dinner each week. They offer many times to help and I just want them to enjoy. I let them do the clean-up, which is nice. While they clean up I can sit at the table and listen to the guys talking and laughing and run after grandkids when needed.

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There have been many side blessings to Sunday dinners together as a family. It keeps us connected. Yes, over the years there have been more than one son working with us. But, it’s so valuable to leave the farm and come together as father and son, brother and brother and family.

Most Sundays everyone is here. There are weeks when one family or another have other plans. Especially in the summer we can have a family or two miss a few weeks, but usually the rest are here.

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Sundays are for birthday celebrations. Everyone is busy throughout the week so birthdays are saved for Sundays.

There can be a lot of laughter on Sundays and a lot of raised voices. To say I have 4 passionate sons is putting it quietly.

There was a rough patch we went through as a family. I don’t care how good any family looks on the outside there is always a time when things get sticky and ugly. When we were going through our rough time Sunday dinner was a day that forced (voluntarily – I never expect nor demand anyone to be here) us together. The worst thing to do when having difficulties is to separate and isolate. Sunday dinners we had to be nice – the grandkids were watching and at times my kids knew if I couldn’t have a short period of time where I felt all was right I would have a break down.

We’ve out grown tables over the years. Even now with my dining room table sitting 14 we are still short three places. Fortunately, when we remodeled it was done totally around the kitchen and Sunday dinners.

The dinner is put out buffet style and usually runs the full nine feet of the island. For birthdays, the guest of honor picks the meal and the dessert. The other Sundays I usually decide – sometimes I ask for suggestions and sometimes someone requests.

After dinner the “buffet” island is used for many other activities – making slime, playing games, baking cookies, etc.

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I am so grateful and thankful to my kids that they come most weeks. Even my grandkids hang around a while afterwards.

The stories we hear about “remember when . . .” and the comical run in with so and so and “I was so embarrassed when . . .” only come out around the table.

For me, Sunday’s are the beginning of a new week and an ending of the last week.

I would suggest everyone consider a Sunday family dinner – at least now and then. Coming together over food is a form of love like no other.

If you’re ever in our area on Sundays around 1:00, stop in. We’ll squeeze you in somewhere.

 

 

 

The Darkness and Heart Holders

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The dark shadow was back. The shadow swept over from the wings of the black object that flew over. Those who shared the same heart could see. They exchanged hopeless glances.

Every time it came it was accompanied by a sick feeling. No one new when it would arrive, how long it would stay or how dark it would become.

The first few times the darkness flew over it was brief and fleeting. Some even missed seeing it. Those the closest could feel the heat of the sun diminish.

The object of the darkness saw it coming and wanted to know from those who shouldered with him, his heart holders, if there was something to thwart the darkness.

There were a few weapons used and it did hold the shadows back for a while.

Soon the shadows while they may not have been blatantly observant, were constantly hovering nearby. The core that were connect through the heart saw the shadow advancing and then retreating, then advancing again. As days went by the advancement became more forceful. The boundaries between the light and the darkness were broken.

The heart holders watched helplessly as the sun became elusive.

Every now and then there would be a stretch of sunshine. It was such a light joyous feeling for everyone. And then like a summer storm the cloud would appear and block out the sun.

The heart holders are always on the lookout for the sunshine. They long for the sun to shine again but know that there is a limited amount of sun left to shine.

There are many heart holders out there that are trying to live within the shadow and pray for the light.

Taking time to recount the sunny days is a joyful, arduous task that takes work but results in some artificial sunshine for the heart holders and the victim.

From one heart holder to another, I pray you find some sunshine within the darkness and find joy even so.

While no one can conquer the darkness, heart holders can learn to have moments of victory even within the darkness of dementia.