Nebraska Bound - Installment 1

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 We are off and on our way.

I think we have 16 trucks with 2 or 3 semis meeting us tonight in Freemont.

Each driver has been given “goodie bags” from three different people/organizations – I have yet to find out.

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When we arrived this morning, we pulled in line behind several other trucks. We all mingled in the cold and mud. Introductions were made (most will be forgotten – by me). Even though I might not remember names yet I do know I am in the company of some very good people.

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John Decker from Farmers Co-op in Hudsonville read scripture and sent us off with exhortation, prayer and a blessing.

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Wrangling everyone together for a group photo happened and then we left with police escorting us and many people along the way to the expressway waving us good-bye.

There’s been a lot of preparation for this trip and I really have no clue but I can only imagine.

For me I’ve been preparing by not drinking liquids – I have an idea bladder control will come in handy when traveling with this many. I hope the “determining” driver has a small bladder.

We will be meeting farmers at drop off places because many roads accessing their farms and ranches are still unpassable – especially for heavy equipment.

Stay tuned for future installments.

I'm Anticipating a Wonderful Trip I Hope I Never Take Again.

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I am beyond excited “for” but not “why”. 

So far I’m guessing none of this makes sense but stick with me I will convince you I am smarter than I sound – I keep telling my family that all the time.

I was going to say “unless you’ve been living under a rock” you know about the flooding and disastrous weather our farmers and ranchers out west have had. Sadly, there are still people who haven’t seen or heard a news clip about it.

There are convoys going to Nebraska bringing supplies from all over the country. The Farmer and Rancher Aid from West MI convoy is leaving Friday, April 19 for Nebraska and Farmer and I are planning on going along! I am beyond excited.

We will be hauling round straw bales on our goose neck flat bed. Destinations are Freemont, Schuler and Columbus. Right now, we are one of 17 vehicles going.

This same group went a couple of years ago when the horrendous fires were burning. I wanted to go then, but it didn’t work out. I am excited to spend time with these people – being with good people rub off. I need all the good people I can get.

I am anticipating this to be an emotional trip. I get emotional just thinking about it.

While we will be bringing bales of straw and hay, fence posts, wire, feed pellets and more what I’m hoping to be bringing with everyone else is love, hope and courage to our fellow farmers and ranchers.

I’m praying our material goods will make a difference and that all the feelings we are bringing with us starts to fill a void they must have. Farmers are tough. They battle through many trials. And like a blood transfusion I pray we fill them with renewed hope, courage and strength to clean things up and carry on. Life will never ever be the same for them, but there will be recovery, there will be rebuilding and there will be a future for many.

I especially pray for those who will not recover and go back to the life they loved. There will be some who will need to change course – not because they want to but because the circumstances directed them. Yet, because they are part of a tribe they will be supported, cared for and loved into their new way of life.

So, yes, I am looking forward to this more than I have anything in a long time but I hope to never have to do it again.

I pray that these farmers and ranchers never face a tragedy like this. I pray for farmers and ranchers around the world to be safe, to be able to make a living off the land and critters they love that God gave them to oversee. I pray the spirit within farmers find a resting place where they can be renewed. I pray this is a springtime for farmers and ranchers everywhere. A time where things are fresh and new. A time where hope is planted and a future harvest is tangible.

Please pray for all the convoys heading out. Pray for those ranchers and farmers that are still digging out of mud and ice. For those who are still collecting dead cows and calves. For those who are working to restore roads, bridges and railways.

The list is long and the problems are big. Yet, we serve a BIG God and none of this is hard for him. None of this was a surprise to him. Why did this happen? Have no clue. Did God cause it? Nope, never. He is a Good God. He is right here beside us.

If you feel led to help out with our fellow farmers and ranchers the easiest way would be to message at Farm and Rancher aid from West Michigan on face book.

Thanks for your prayers while we are on this most wonderful trip we hope to never take again.

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.

 

 

America Strong Because of Farmers and Ranchers

Dear Government,
The Mueller report found no collusion. Can we stop wasting money and send it to the farmers and ranchers who desperatly need it? Politics is a machine with no heart and doesn't care for the people it's supposed to serve. It doesn't matter whether you are red or blue. Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado and other "non-important fly over states" are dying and have no color left.

Turn your eyes around from looking at yourselves and see those who put you there to begin with and start serving with a purpose. A purpose of helping and healing. You may be surprised how it might actually create a place of unity and harmony that will bring us all together again.

Until then we farmers and ranchers with God's help will show you the true spirit of America and will reach out and help each other. We will take what we have, what we personally need and share it with those who happen to need it worse right now. Because, that's what we do. That's what we've been taught and seen in the past. That is what makes America the best place in the world to live.

So please, elected officials quit mucking up the system.

Farm Woman to Woman Connection

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Within the past 2 weeks I’ve attended 3 farm related meetings or conference type events.

They all delivered great information and I’ve attended them all before. But, this year, one was different.

Every year there is a Farm Women’s Symposium that’s open to all women to attend. I think this was my 6th year. They are always packed full of great information, great food, great tours – all things great. The best part of the whole symposium is the connections and relationships made.

The reason these relationships are so great is that we get each other. Unless you live the life on the farm with all the ups, downs, blessings, challenges, tears of joy and sadness, you cannot know the corners of our hearts. And, it’s in the corners where friends are needed the most.

Sadly, this year, I was only able to make the last day. And, this year the numbers were down compared to others. Due in part to the farming economy.

The past 4 years have been extremely hard on farmers – especially dairy farms. We are going into the 5th year of losing money and that has changed the farming scenery in so many ways.

The difference this year at the symposium was the quietness. Don’t get me wrong there was a lot of noise and laughter but there is always a segment of quietness between us.

I stood face to face with women who are tough, tough people. Yet, there were tears in their eyes that welled up while sharing our hearts. Many are dealing with anxiety issues that are foreign to them.

One woman and I spoke about how we are still actively involved in the farm to help keep it alive for our kids. We asked each other if that was a good thing or not? Our kids, live, breathe and are the farm 100% and want nothing different. Having said that, the last five years have had little joy, and nothing left over – time, money or energy. Do we want that for our kids?

Another dear friend was sharing about family issues – extended family relationships that is taking a huge toll on her. Being the mom is a tough place to be when it comes to family stuff. Everyone comes to mom. Mom hears everything. Yet, mom has no magic wand to “fix” all those involved. But mom is the one bent over from carrying the load. She is one of the toughest women I know – does every single thing on the farm any man does, yet she stood there with tears in her eyes feeling totally helpless.

A precious woman who should be retired and enjoying her sunset years lost a barn to a fire a while back and now has to sell her cows because the milk hauler cannot pick up her milk anymore because surrounding dairy farms have gone under. So, she is forced out. Now is the worst time to “get out”. Prices are at rock bottom.

There was one encouraging encounter. A young vibrant woman who loved, breathed, lived for her cows had to sell out this past year. She sold her animals, then the equipment then her property. That last sentence sounds so simple when put on paper. Each cow, each item auctioned off was like drawing another vial of blood from her soul. Saying it was hard is so trite. When I spoke to her I asked her how she was doing and if she was in a good place.

Her response - At the time it was horrible. Now that I’m past it and can look back it was the best thing I could do. Don’t get me wrong. I miss my girls – everyday. But I just couldn’t do it anymore and life is good now. Different, yet good. I really believe if she could get back in and it could be like it was before these last 5 years, she would be right back at it.

Another one just had one of her barns collapse with the weight of the snow. The barn contained machinery but no animals inside. They brought in a crane and got their mixer wagon (something they need daily) out and thankfully it was not damaged too much. The rest will have to wait until the weather gets better. Will insurance cover all the expenses? My guess is no.

These women are not just fluffy watch out the window gals. They are there working side by side and sometimes alone.

Many of us stay in contact through face book, texting and phone calls. Once in awhile a few can physically get together. For me my closest friends are scattered – Rhode Island, Indiana, Kansas, upper Michigan – so we count on, long for and live for the next Farm Women’s Symposium.

While we all have many dear friends in our daily life that we cherish, these women are treasures. They are like hidden gems in rocks – no one can see the sparkle that is there or knows the value unless you are trained to see what others can’t. The average person doesn’t understand the value.

I’m praying for all my farm sisters and am counting the days until next year when we meet together again. My prayer is that when we all come together then, that there will be more sparkle to see.

 

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.

The Farmer, The Police, The Farmer

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It was a beautiful fall day. Or maybe it was a summer day. No, I think it was spring. Anyway, it was a beautiful day and I was coming home from the bank. No, the grocery store . . . Anyway, I was coming home.

I drove through the beautiful countryside and was asked politely by light language to pull over.

I put my window down as the officer approached my vehicle. I’m thinking “Crap, I must have been speeding.” There was a time in my life I did speed - on purpose. Now, I truly, honestly try to follow the speed limit – with the given 5 -8 mph bump that everyone goes by.

Here’s the convo:

Officer: Are you in a hurry and where are you headed?

Me: No, not really just on my way home.

Officer: Did you realize you were going above the speed limit?

Me: No, I was listening to a book on CD and just heading home.

Officer: What are you listening too?

Me: This – I held up Sara Palin’s autobiography. I love to listen and read bios of anyone and it was at the time she was running for VP.

Officer: How is it?

Me: Very interesting.

Officer: Can I have your license and registration please.

Me: Sure, um, if I can find it. – The license part was easy; the registration was buried in the glove compartment with a lot of dead useless registrations.

Officer: Thanks, give me a minute and I’ll be right back.

After a short time, he came back and gave me my cards and said to please slow down and take it easy.

I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated him and what he did.

And, that was that I thought. I got caught but no one will know. I watched the few cars that went by while I was stopped and didn’t recognize anyone. Safe from Farmer’s chastisement!

The next Sunday at dinner Son #2 said “Did you get a ticket the other day?”

“Crap, he must have seen me” I thought.

Me: “No, why, did you see me?”

Son: #2 “No, I was running late going to the chiropractor and got pulled over. When I gave him my license, he asked me if Diane was my mother. I told him yes, why? And he said he stopped you earlier in the day.”

Me: “Did you get a ticket”? Part of me was wishing he did so I could feel and tell him how special I was to that nice police officer.

Son#2 “Nope, he just told me to slow down.”

So, while I thought I had escaped the glare of chastisement I was completely entertained by the process. We all had a good laugh.

Last summer Son #2 had his dog and litter of pups out in our yard when that same officer went down our road. He made a U-turn in our farm driveway and stopped to chat and see the puppies.

He and the other officer that regularly are in our area has stopped at the farm when Farmer was near the road. They stop and chat and ask how things are going occasionally.

Can I say how much I appreciate these guys? Not only the fact that they are extremely nice and interested in us but the fact that they put themselves in the path of possible danger every day.

I’ve always said it takes a special person to want to farm and put up with all the hardships as well as enjoy the blessings.

I think it takes a very special person to become a police officer. The “stuff” they have to put up with, the disrespect, the danger.

My niece and nephew are police officers in Flint. I have a grandson pursuing education to become a police officer. We pray for them on a daily basis as well as all police officers and military. I’m so grateful for what they do to keep my world as safe as they can.

I am especially thankful for our area officers that keep my “bubble” a great place.

As you go about your day, pay attention to the ease in which you travel and find a grateful spot in your heart for them. Pray for them. Thank them.

Also, perhaps we should think about and maybe adjust that 5-8 mph bump. Just sayin’

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Dear Mamas of Young Ones,

They say the nights are long, but the years are short. Very true.

Some of you may be so bogged down by your daily routine that you feel less valuable than you are. You may think it’s just one more sink full of dirty dishes, one more load of laundry, one more carpooling trip.

You are wrong! You are destinyingly wrong. Yes, destinyingly is a word (maybe only in my world but . . .)  – pertaining to destiny!!

First of all, you have been chosen to be these little’s mother – an honor worth recognizing.

I remember feeling just as I described. I kept thinking by the time my kids are grown I’ll be too old or too worn out to accomplish anything great. I mean, who doesn’t want to do something great?

One day as I was trying to match up the unmatchable, disappearing yet multiplying socks I felt God gave me a little something.

Instead of just folding those clothes, be a specific pray-er over those clothes.

I began to pray as I folded. Lord, bless the feet that these socks cover. Keep them on the right track.  As I folded pants – God keep them traveling along your path. As I folded shirts – Please keep them ever mindful of you.

As I continued my daily tasks, the purposeful prayers continued.

While making the beds I prayed God would cover them with his love and protection.

As I was elbow deep in dishes, I prayed I would be able to feed their soul as I did their bodies.

While cleaning the bathroom – it’s amazing where toothpaste ends up. I prayed God would strengthen them and be especially near to them.

As I hung up their clothes or picked up after them, I prayed that God would be a central part of their lives.

When we were in the car full of other littles, I prayed over them that they would all pick the right friends. I prayed for their friend’s family that they would love Jesus and be part of his Kingdom.

When they went out the door, I prayed out loud – I prayed God’s protection, love and companionship. I spoke words of blessings.

Your prayers have the ability to be destiny changing, life giving and future altering.

They say women can multi-task easy.

Let’s make our taskings worthwhile.

 

 

The Many Sides of A Farm Wife

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A Farm Wife Blog – what’s it all about?

As a farm wife I have many sides. Like a Rhombicosidodecahedron. (I’ll let you look that one up) Oh, and the sides, they are complicated.

If you follow me, you will know I write about many different topics. That’s because I’m a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a Christian. I am a farmer also – I’m not just the wife of a farmer, I farm. I drive tractor, help deliver calves, feed calves, milk cows, help with medical procedures, do the book work, feed the help and the list goes on. So, you see there are many sides.

Because of this I almost feel like I am unfocused at times. I feel like I might disappoint the reader that wants just farm stuff. And, to be clear, I do write some technical farm stuff, but I tend to be better at the human aspect of farming.

I also try to get to the point quickly. I myself lose interest easily so I try to spare my readers.

Why am I telling you all of this? Not really sure, just felt the need.

Today I want to share where I am in life right now. Many of my friends are now retired, traveling, taking it easy. I or I should say we (Farmer and myself) are working just as hard for just about nothing. Honestly, I really don’t see the taking it easy or traveling in my near future either – because of the farm.

It all comes down to the farm. Well, really, who the farm is and will be.

We have one son that it still farming and has the desire to continue. I don’t think there ever was a stray thought that traveled through his mind to pursue any other profession. And, he is fourth generation. Being a generational business adds more pressure and pleasure. Nowadays it’s more pressure than pleasure. We have chosen to do this. No one is twisting our arm other than circumstances.

Farming has been a hardship – a crappy, hard, unrewarding, non-money making (heck, can’t even break-even) stress filed, joyless life for several years now.

So, why do we continue? Sometimes I wonder. Are we setting our son and daughter-in-law up for a life of hardships, a life of failing?

I’ve been trying to figure it out. Doing a lot of soul searching. I think we feel an obligation to continue the heritage. No one wants to be the one who stops a moving train, to derail it. It just feels like this train is going to run us over. So, we continue trying to stay head of the train and stay on track.

Why am I writing this? I’m really not sure other than the fact that when I started this blog, I purposed to be transparent. I am so sick and tired of the display of perfection in the media, the church, the business world, among humans in general. Your weaknesses and struggles help me as much or more than your strengths and accomplishments.

Some may think I want sympathy. We talked about that in a previous blog. Sympathy is the last thing I want. There is no power or help in sympathy.

My purpose other than being transparent is to be helpful. To encourage and up lift. So, how in the heck can this sad, moaning and groaning help? Maybe it will help someone not feel alone. That they aren’t the only one. That they are not a failure on an island. That their train isn’t the only one shaking and rocking when going around the curves of life.

There are a few things I know.

One – we are not alone. There is a God that has a plan and purpose and it may not look like it now, but he is at work.

Two – if our train derails and smashes down a mountainside, we will survive. We will just look for another train – maybe smaller or perhaps a whole different looking train.

Three – being vulnerable is hard, scary and embarrassing at times, but I truly feel propelled to do so, therefore, there must be some value in this.

This is what’s on my mind today. Tomorrow you may hear about a great new recipe, or something quirkily a grandkid did or how the cows got out, or how I found extreme peace in the middle of the barn.

My hope is that I have helped, given hope, encouragement or just plain “shaking your head” feelings. Maybe this has allowed someone else the freedom to be real. As I’ve said before Real = Results.

There is always the hope of tomorrow. And, I look forward with anticipation of better things to come.

Stay tuned. . .

What Happens When the Church Doesn't Leave the 99?

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I know this is a departure from my normal A Farm Wife writing but it’s something that keeps waking me up. So, after I get this down and out of my system I’ll go back to normal – at least as normal as I can muster. 

Several years ago, after being part of a church for 25 years we decided to change where we worshiped. We had been a very integral part of the church. Music, women’s ministry, youth and more.

We were immersed in so many ways. Had many friends that we spent time with on a regular basis.

When we chose to worship at a different address, it was as though we fell off the face of the earth. No phone calls, no visits, no invitations. I reached out and we had a couple dinners, but it was never reciprocated so I moved on.

I’m not sure why. It felt like they were afraid to associate with us. Like they would get in trouble? Beats me but it was somewhat hurtful to think we invested so much and meant so little. Did I want them clamoring all over me and asking me to come back – nope. Not one bit. It would have been nice to continue life with them though.

I just saw this same thing happen again. Someone who had given much of their life to a church and left with a few wounds. Other than a few calls from the head pastor and wife there weren’t too many others who reached out. Even the “friends” who they associated and worked with there fell silent. A few comments on social media but nothing in depth.

Another person who left experienced the same thing. One went back and was snubbed by several. It was as if the person coming back was diseased. There were a few good people who were Jesus to them but so many, including leadership, passed by.

The Bible teaches-

Matthew 18: 12-14

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

So, what does happen when the church doesn’t leave the 99?

The One gets hurt. There are wounds that go unattended.

The One walks away from a relationship with God because they see his representatives not caring.

The One become bitter which leads to sickness.

The One is lonely. They have no place to go to fill up with what they personally needed.

The One loses his place – some search for another safe place but the wounds and longing from the past hinders their ability.

The One flounders.

The 99 continually changes faces.

When this happens over and over again there becomes a flip. It’s more than one in need and 99 in great shape. It can become a handful in great shape and many in need. But instead of going out to find the one who got separated there is an extra push to bring in a new herd of 99.

They say there is power in numbers.

Jesus thought One was pretty valuable.

Whispers From God

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I am drawn to sunrises and sunsets. I'm not sure why. If I am inside working in the mornings I am constantly looking towards the east to see if there will be one. As I walk by a window I will pause and search the sky. I have to look in different areas of the east depending on the season.

God spoke to me this morning as I was looking and expecting a sunrise. Just a little hue of color in the morning convinces me there will be more as the morning continues.

I was reminded that if I looked towards or for the blessings or good stuff in my life I would observe more. If I neglected gazing out the window this morning I would have missed this. If I would have let the busyness of my morning hinder my search this is what I would have missed.

What am I missing in my life by not searching, looking for, expecting the best? What have I missed by being so busy seeing the negative or the problems?

God whispers suggestions all the time, if we only listen.

Today he whispered to me through the sunrise. Search, look for, expect me and my blessings today and everyday.

What's Right About Farming

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Normally, when I post I write about what’s wrong and how hard things are.

 Today I purpose to write and show what’s good and right about farming.

 Time to look at what we have and not what we are lacking.

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 A beautiful sunny day just begging you outside. The smell of dirt – even in the winter is heavenly. Yes, it is chilly and muddy but oh the smell of dirt.

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As I walked through the barns, I was mindful of the fact that I get to take care of these critters. They are gentle giants in a way that God gave us for many reasons and the one I pursue is for food.

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What’s right with farming? Open fields that your eyes can scan for wildlife. Coyotes, woodchucks, birds, all flit and run by.

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Helping new life survive and thrive is another thing right with farming. These calves are our future. Not a one is born that we don’t labor over to help grow. Nothing teaches you patience like trying to teach a calf to drink from a pail.

 The people we have working with us is a huge positive. We have the best working with us. We feel like they are part of our extended family and we couldn’t do this life without them.

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 One of the most eye-opening parts of farming for me is when we invite others into our world. When we have farm tours, we see the farm in other eyes. Daily we do our best to keep our farm clean and inviting for both critters and caretakers. When you invite others into your home, you notice the corners that need cleaning and the windows that should be washed. Same here on the farm. If company is coming, we try to get to those cobwebs and do a little extra.

 How much fun is it to ride in the tractor on the buddy seat with your husband, son or grandson and talk about life?

 Knowing that we are walking in the exact same footprints that our relatives have for over 100 years make this place special. It also adds a little more pressure to keep it going.

My family is part of what’s right with farming. Working side by side and being part of each other’s daily life is a blessing.

This farm is a sacred place for many of us. I’ve laughed until I’ve wet my pants, cried until it felt like my guts were going to fall out, worked to the point of wanting to lay down in the middle of the driveway for a nap and watched in awe the cycle of life.

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The quietness of early morning or late at night walking through the barns is the best time and place to meet God. Every single time I am at the farm I see God in a new light, a different setting, a unique reminder.

So, while there are plenty of things that are wrong and need fixing with farming, those are a few things right.

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Just A Thought

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I had to run to the barn for something this afternoon and I couldn’t pass by the nursery without checking in. The maternity pen is in one of our oldest barns and I love the feel of walking into the pens with the block walls on one side. The sun was shining through the only window showing all the dust floating in the air. An old headlock off to one side and more pens on the other side. Everything is boarded up with plywood to keep the cold out.

I think I must be hormonally unbalanced because it doesn’t take much these days for tears to flow. Maybe I’m just tired and worn down a bit from the “fun” side of farming.

Walking in through the old milk house today I was flooded with memories. I walked past where the old bulk tank stood. I think about 10 of those or more could fit inside the bulk tanks we have now. I remember sitting on top of it painting the ceiling. A lifetime ago.

The pen where the calves are was the milking parlor. There were 4 stalls on one side when I entered the family. It expanded to 8 and then many years after moved to another location. We turned that part into the maternity/hospital pens so to speak.

I remember my sister-in-law and her husband milking. My mother-in-law would be there once in a while too. I helped my father-in-law feed calves. One year we fed 130 calves. We feed over a thousand now.

I’ve helped pull many calves there, helped with minor surgeries, C-sections and more. I’ve held cows’ heads in my laps as I sat in the manure – praying over them while waiting for a vet.

I’ve come to that spot and sat alone in the silence to gather my thoughts, to pray and listen to God.

It has become a sacred place to me.

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 As I left, I drove around to see my big girls. They were eating and enjoying the sunshine.

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  I came back around to head home and looked out at the alfalfa field.

The thoughts I’d been trying to stifle came to the surface.

 Will we be making hay on this field this year? Will the barns hold our girls this year? How many more calves will pass through the “nursery”?

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 I drove past the flag we have hanging over our mailboxes thinking about how many we’ve hung there over the years. I wondered how many more years we can do that?

It’s been a tough, tough few years and everyday another farmer calls it quits. The stress of farming would bring down most people much quicker than the farmers that left. The outlook is not promising. There are no guarantees.

By the time I was down the driveway I was in full blown melt down.

I think it’s good to allow the tears to wash away your hurt every once in a while.

God reminds me – “You’re still here. You’re doing OK. You’re not alone.”

I’ve purposed to always include something positive in every post.

My positive for this post.

We’re still here.

We’re doing OK.

We’re not alone.

I Have a Problem with Keeping Christ in Christmas

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I have a problem with “Keeping Christ in Christmas.” 

Before you go all wonky on me, let me explain.

I totally understand the whole idea but for me it just doesn’t work.

We purpose to interject Christ in our everyday. We talk about him, we try to point out his blessings and we look for him in every situation. Jesus should be as easy to speak of and experience as a sunset, or rainbow after the rain. You need to expect and look for him and you will find him.

And, keeping Christ in Christmas – shouldn’t we let him out of Christmas and invite him into our daily lives?

If I make a huge deal about him on Christmas day it will feel like I need to save him for that day.

I also think that part of it is that we have never made birthdays a big deal around here. Oh, we celebrate them but there are gifts and celebrations of each other all year long. I don’t want to have to have a calendar dictate when I should be nice or appreciative of someone. And, I didn’t want my family to think they had to pay attention to Christ on Christmas and then could let him slide into the background the rest of the year.

So, while I get the whole idea, I’m not a fan.

I pray your Christmas Christ is acknowledged all year long and that you seek him, find him and celebrate him daily.

Blessings!

 

 

 

. . . Nevertheless

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 To say that farming is tough is like saying an ice cube sank the Titanic.

If you follow me or my blog, you have read more than once how difficult this year alone has been.

To recap:

We are farming in 2018 with 1970 prices being paid for our milk. Nevertheless . . .

The weather has kept us out of the fields all year long at key times. Nevertheless . . .

We still have a few acres of rye to sow, yet we can’t get in the fields. Nevertheless . . .

Calves that brought $400 each a couple years ago now bring us $30. Nevertheless . . .

It’s getting harder to find and keep good employees. Nevertheless . . .

The confusion to the public from the “crazies” about agriculture is ramped up. Nevertheless . . .

Rules and regulations are plentiful. Nevertheless . . .

This year has taken a toll on our bodies physically like no other. Nevertheless . . .

It’s difficult to find joy and depression is always knocking on the door. Nevertheless . . .

Overwhelming stress comes in waves. Nevertheless . . .

Exhaustion is more often and lasts longer. Nevertheless . . .

I could add many more. But. Nevertheless . . .

Nevertheless . . . what?

Nevertheless – God

In, above, under and through all of this – God.

God is here.

God is with us.

God provides.

God is ever present in the middle of all of this and we are grateful.

God has a plan – the details are unseen and unknown by us, but he has a plan.

While our position in life right now is not comfortable, pleasant nor enjoyable, we are not alone. God never promised he would wave a magic wand and wipe problems away. He is doing what he promised. He will never leave us.

We appreciate any and all prayers for farmers.

When you sit down and enjoy your dinner, pull that cotton T-shirt over your head, take that medication you need, walk down the store aisle in your leather shoes, or  . . .  you get the idea . . . say a prayer for us.

One last request.

For you personally.

Fill in the blank __________________________. . .  Nevertheless – God.