How to Pray for Farmers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the World Needs Now

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

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

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

Let me “clue” you in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The world is thirsty for what we are losing.

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

The world needs to pay attention and be concerned.

 

 

 

Light in the Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here we go:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Transparently Tired

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Transparent. That’s what I keep saying – we need to be transparent. How can we help each other if we are living behind a façade?

So, here we go.

I’m real close to losing it. Not quite sure what it is, but it’s about ready to frazzle.

There has been stressful stress happening in the world I live in. Financial struggles due to horrible milk prices, concerns about the crops because of weather, short-handed at the farm and just plain normal wear and tear of life.

Then you add to that my inerrant desire to help and fix. I see my husband working way too hard and long hours. I’m concerned for his health. My son who is on the farm has back issues and he and his family are spent from doing “whatever” needs to be done. I move from feeding people, delivering people and parts, to merging hay, all the office work and now we are refurbishing one of our houses for a new employee. I’m taking care of most of that too. The list of things needing to be done is endless.

Then there are peripheral things. We had to tear out our old gas grill because it was 30+ years and crumbling. In order to get a new one and put it in, the brick around the old one had to be removed and new brick put down, etc. And, of course, only Farmer could do this. There is a mess on the back porch, a hole in the brick and a new gas grill perched on a table. Cement dust, tools and mortar bags litter my back-porch oasis.

The yard has more moles than a “whack a mole” factory. I finally called a service – even though Farmer said no. The service is great – should be for the price. We’re killing moles left and right.

Trimming bushes, weed whacking, mowing lawn, any landscaping, getting the oil changed in the car is on my to do list. There are so many other little issues that need fixing. I just can’t ask Farmer when he is so over burdened with everything at the farm right now. So, things get left undone. Undone “stuff” is noise to me. I need some quiet.

I have four sons – very busy and limited due to back issues. That’s something else I can’t fix. I pray for their healing and it hasn’t quite arrived yet. It’s not easy being a mama when your kids are hurting. If I ask, they will help but I know every time they help me I am pulling them away from their family and their things that need to be take care of.

I’m volunteering my time to help people discover Dr. Jim Hines – he is running for governor and I think he’s the best choice.

I could list other things but you get the idea.

And, I’ve always been the one to help others. I’m the answer to struggles. Need something? I’ll be right there.

I am tired.

I was feeling sorry for myself and was watching something on TV and the character was so happy and joyful. I found myself “wishing” I had a normal life that I could relax and enjoy. Right now, everything feels like work. Now, I know that my life is far superior in blessings than most people, so I really have absolutely nothing to legitimately complain about.

Why am I writing this? Trying to garner sympathy? Nope. Not at all.

Two reasons.

One reason I’m writing this is to show someone who doubts God’s participation in your life that he is there.

I sat down and grabbed my “Jesus Calling” devotional and this is what I read.

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“Striving for a predictable, safe lifestyle” – exactly what I long for.

The second reason for baring my faults here is to encourage someone else to know you’re not the only one who feels like life is spinning out of control. I want to encourage you to see there is no “wonder woman” or “super hero” in the flesh.

I think we are ALL over worked and tired. We are ALL busy. And, I really think we ALL “pretend” a little. After all, if you ask someone “How are you”? Do you really want to hear “I’m pooped, close to tears, can’t sleep and anxious”?

I know my exhaustion is self-imposed and can only be fixed by self-regulation. And, I’m working on it – once I get this list of to dos finished – HA!!!

Take heart, take a break and know that God cares and wants you to trust in Him and expectantly wait for what he has for you.

Now, go take a nap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirt is Dirt

 

I don’t know if you can see it or not but there is fine, silty dirt on the floor. This is my bedroom floor and when I come down the hallway the light from the window really make this show up.

It’s from the dog. My son’s dog Zeus who lives with us since my son moved to an apartment.

Yesterday I walked back here and thought “Uggg, that really shows up back here.” My next thought was “Boy, if it’s on the floor here it has to be in the carpet too even though it’s not noticeable.”

Then, an aha from heaven.

The dirt that falls off in the bedroom is seen. It’s very obvious. Just like some of the sins we have falling off of us. Some of our sins carry visible consequences that others see easily. They are right out in the open, in the daylight. Sometimes they are the same ones we cleaned up the week before.

Then there’s the dirt in the carpet. I know it’s there but to everyone else looking, they can’t see it. The thought of it probably never crossed their minds. And so, it goes with some of our other sins. They are hidden. They aren’t visible. We know about them, but most people don’t even wonder if they are there. In fact, we are grateful they are hidden.

So which sins are worse? The ones that show or the hidden ones?

As far as I can tell, dirt is dirt. Whether it’s on the bare floor for all to see or hidden in the carpet.

Be careful as you walk by other’s visible dirt that you don’t pat yourself on the back because your bare floors are clean.  The dirt in the carpet could be dirtier than theirs.

 

 

All That Glitters is not Gold

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We are tired around here. Dead tired. Truly exhausted. Yet, we can’t stop. The work must be done. The crops must be brought in, the cattle fed, the cows milked, the machinery fixed, the bills paid. The list is non-ending.

It’s a struggle and it’s hard.

Yet, there are others struggling with illness, death, loss of homes, missing persons, and more.

I think of mothers sending their sons off to the service. The wife who waves good-bye to her husband, the police officer. The husband who kisses his wife as she leaves for life saving surgery. The dad who hears the door slam as his teenage daughter leaves threatening to never come home. The farmer who shuts the barn door for the last time due to the economy. The child who hides in the closet and hopes he will escape what he’s suffered too many times.

I shame myself by comparing my petty problems with those who “have it so much worse”.

Bring this into the world of suicide. Lately, well known, popular, successful, wealthy people have been killing themselves. I chose to say killing themselves over committing suicide. Committing suicide seems to soften what happened.

It’s sad that they couldn’t or maybe they did try, to convey their desperate feelings. Did they feel like they had “nothing” to complain about because of all the advantages they had compared to others? Were they ever told “you have enough money to fix any problem you have”? Do we as a society equate “having it all” with needing nothing else?

If someone came to you and voiced their feelings of sadness or problems, how would you respond? Give them a pep talk? Tell them compared to 90% of the world you don’t have it so bad? This too shall pass?

Or, would you keep your thoughts to yourself and pay attention and let them talk? How far would you go to help someone?

I get the term mental illness – I know what it means but the stigma has to disappear.

When someone is sick with a sore throat do we say they have an oral illness? Or a broken bone, do we say bone breakage illness. Do we say blood illness when facing infection?

Illness is illness whether or not it’s in your arm, leg, pinky toe or your brain. They are all parts of your body. Do we feel ashamed if we have an ulcer in our stomach, a cyst on our ovary, an infection in our knee?

Swinging back to my tiredness. While I know my problems pale in comparison to others, it’s still a problem to me. I don’t want to be a whiner and complainer but when asked “how are you” – I want to feel like I can say “I’m tired, pooped, exhausted or whatever” without hearing the internal voice shaming me because there are worse situations out there. Or, worse yet to hear someone voice, “You think you’re tired you should see . . . .”

The same should be for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety or hopeless feelings.

What are you doing to invite a shameless conversation with those who need to sort out their problems or seek out help?

Let’s purpose to be that safe, trustworthy space when the opportunity comes.

You know the saying all that glitters is not gold? Well, all that smiles is not happy.

 

Multiply Your Greatness

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I hung the phone up on the kitchen wall, looked around me and wondered if I would ever find myself again. Would I ever be in a position to create a difference? The yellow fruit and flowered wall paper stared back at me. Out the kitchen window I could see Son #1 and #2 playing in the yard. Son #3 was watching cartoons and Son #4 was crawling on the floor by my feet.

I must have been extremely tired that day because normally my thoughts didn’t wander there.

I had the privilege of being a stay at home mom. I was a semi-single stay at home mom. I never want to insinuate my singleness of raising my sons is compared in the least to a true single mom. But, Farmer was rarely home. Most of the daily operations of the home and parenting was my responsibility.

In the midst of wiping noses, butts and dirty mouths, I, at times, wondered if there would be anything left in me when the time came to give me a whirl.

At this point in my life I was Farmer’s wife, or someone’s mom. And that continued for many years. My identity was always combined.

And, consider there was no face book back then to garner support, chatting with others or surfing the web. Our means of connection was church gatherings and phone calls when we weren’t chasing one of the kids or putting food on the table. There was no pre-school, mom’s groups or gyms to attend.

For the most part, I loved my life. I gained much satisfaction and was thrilled to take care of my family. I enjoyed just about every aspect.

Once, in a while, and it must have hit that day, I would think about “successful women in the work force.” They did a job, got thanked and even was paid for their time and effort.

And therefore, once in a while I would wander with my wonderings.

I’m writing this to encourage any moms who are in the middle of their best years – especially if you are staying home and get overwhelmed at times. While I wasn’t distressed over not having a career or felt trapped at home, the desire to make a difference was there.

While I may not have wrote a best seller, argued a high-profile court case, or did open heart surgery saving lives, I have made a huge difference.

By staying home, I made a difference times four.

I have raised four amazing men that daily touch lives, create opportunities for others, and contribute greatly to this world. These four men are good, quality, excellent driven men who are now raising their sons and daughters to change the world.

Never under estimate where you are in life and the reason God designated this special spot for you.

Anyone can become a doctor, lawyer, clerk, teacher or whatever profession.

No one can be your child’s mother.

Enjoy your best years with your kids. Realize the amazing responsibility God has entrusted to you.

Multiply your greatness through your kids.

 

 

 

 

A Man Who Changed the World

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There is a man who changed the world.

Most of you won’t know him.

He built a house for his family with his own hands.

He’s been faithful to his one and only wife for 66 years.

He put food on the table for them year after year.

He taught them to plant a garden – to till, plant and harvest.

He taught his family to hunt wisely and respectfully of the prey and the weapon.

He built a building where people learned about Jesus.

He brought all of his kids to the place where they wanted Jesus as their own.

He has read his Bible daily for years.

He prays daily for his kids, grand-kids, great-grandkids and great-great-grandkids.

He gives freely when a need arises.

He instilled a great work ethic into each of his kids.

He is revered in his circle of influence.

He has changed the world.

Maybe not your world.

But he has changed my world daily for the better.

My dad.

 

Happy 88th Birthday Daddy!

 

 

Earthly Sabatical

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A week ago, I was in the ER for about 4 ½ hours.

You know how your heart does that weird flip, flop, flutter thing and then goes back to normal? Well, mine wouldn’t quit the flip, flop, fluttering – went on for several hours for days. After a phone call to the on-call line for my doctor I was told to go to the heart center right away.

EKG, X-ray and blood tests were done. The cardio doctor came in and watched the monitor and said “Yep, there. And there, Again ….”

Apparently, my heart was stopping, stuttering and starting again.

Farmer claimed it was due to his nearby presence.

After each test was the long waiting period for results.

Finally, after 4 hours the doctor came back in and said “The first blood test came back good, but we always do a second one to be sure. We are going to send you home with a Holter monitor and have you follow up with the cardiologists.”

My response was “So, I have to wait here another hour and a half for results?”

“Yes, we just want to be sure with the blood work.”

I then replied, “How about you take my blood, I leave and if there is a problem you can call me?”

She then said, “I can’t MAKE you stay.”

I answered “Then, let’s do it that way. You take the blood, I leave and you call if necessary.”

That’s what we did, and I never received the phone call and am waiting to see the specialists. I believe I will go in, spend too much money on tests and they will tell me “Don’t worry, it’s just something that happens.”

I’ve told all this – not for concern on your part because I am believing I am totally normal – well, you know, as much as I can be.

I wanted to explain why I’m writing this.

One of the reasons I didn’t want to wait for the blood test is because I had an overwhelming, crushing desire to go home. I longed, yearned, needed to be home. I had an unexplainable, what I think would be unnatural, craving for my home.

Today as I was coming home from the store I was thinking about how grateful I was to NOT be in the hospital and how over the top my desire to be home was last week.

As I pondered, my thoughts went to the fact that this isn’t really home. Heaven is my real home, I’m just having a sabbatical here on earth.

For a flittering moment I thought I really should have this same desire for heaven. But, to tell you the truth I would fight tooth and nail to stay here on this earthly vacation.

Does that make me a bad Christian? Nope.

Is God disappointed with me? I don’t think so.

The whole thought process brought me to a request of God. I asked him to please, please give me that undeniable quench for heaven when his appointed date of my departure was scheduled in his Book of Life if I had time to think about it.

I also asked that he would give that understanding to any of my loved ones. That it was a good thing, a joyful thing.

I had one more conversation with God – “Please make sure you get my scheduled home going date right.”

Better May Not Be

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This morning I saw this – the beginning of what could be a great sunrise.

Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with sunrises and sunsets.

My first thought was to wait until it got better.

I’ve seen enough sunrises to know that there could be so much more than this as the sun rose.

But, something told me to take a picture right then.

So, I went out and took the picture and felt a message in the sunrise.

Here there was a beautiful, soft sunrise beginning and I almost missed the beauty in what was because of what I thought it could be – better.

How often are we waiting for better to come along that we miss what’s right in front of us?

We look past what we have in anticipation for what could come next.

An ever playing thought that I have to harness is “When this _____________, then ___________. 

Meanwhile what was just in front of me was the better I missed while waiting for more than what I thought I had.

My goal is to enjoy what I have, what’s in front of me and if better comes along, then bonus.

Thank you, God, for good, better, best and what you have chosen for us.

Somewhere Along the Way . . .

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When you go to the hardware store to purchase a drill you really don’t want the drill, you want the hole that the drill will create.

When you go to the grocery store to purchase a gallon of milk you don’t really want a gallon of milk, you want your thirst satisfied.

When you go to the pharmacy you don’t want the drug, you want your illness/pain relieved.

With all and the latest school shootings we say we want to keep the violence out of our schools. What we really want is responsible kids that value life; co-exist together with respect, kindness and compassion.

Somewhere in the past, along the way in life we learned about the drill, milk and medicine.

Somewhere along the way the value of life has been left behind – lost on life’s journey.

Somewhere along the way we have determined that respect must be earned. It seems the effort to receive respect has gotten harder and more arduous through the years.

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Somewhere along the way kindness has been forgotten. It was laid down when our hands were full and busy and forgotten to be picked back up.

Somewhere along the way compassion was passed to organizations that went overseas or fed the local homeless.

If our hands are full and busy showing value, respect, kindness and compassion to others there will be no room for devices that kill. Let’s start filling hearts and hands.

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Lessons from the Farm

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1.     Get out of bed in the morning and get going. Getting started on chores early helped keep problems at bay. “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it” –  Richard Whately

2.     Finish what you start. “It’s too hard, I’m too tired” fell on deaf ears here.There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure” – Colin Powell.

3.     Take good care of the critters. God entrusted them to us and our livelihood comes from it. Their needs come first. Feed for the cows came before the latest and greatest shoe style. “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” -  Proverbs 12:10 (NKJV)

4.     Respect and help the employees. Once again, God brought us good people. They come first. We work WITH them. Their time off comes first. “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled” – Anne M. Mulcahy

5.     If you drop it – pick it up. If you open it – close it. If you use it – replenish it. “Accountability breeds response-ability” – Steven Covey

6.     If you didn’t drop it – pick it up. If you didn’t open it – close it. If you didn’t use it – replenish it anyway.If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders” - Abigail Van Buren

7.     If there is a challenge, ask for help and learn for the next time. “Be the kind of person who dares to face life's challenges and overcome them rather than dodging them” 
- Roy T. Bennett

8.     Two half-filled 5 gallon pails are easier to carry than one full one. “Being wise is better than being strong; yes, knowledge is more important than strength” – Proverbs 24:5

9.     Spending an hour to get a calf to drink not only keeps the calf alive but helps develop perseverance.Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did” – Newt Gingrich

10.  Physically struggling to the point of exhaustion can be rewarded by the miracle of life when you finally get the calf delivered. No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave” - Calvin Coolidge

11.  Working in the rain, eating dust and dirt is rewarded by seeing the new leaf of a corn plant break through the ground. “Farming is a profession of hope” – Brian Brett

To Whom It May Concern

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To Whom It Concerns,

There’s a crisis going on right under our noses and many people have no idea.

Farms are selling out; farmer’s dreams are being auctioned off and livelihoods are washing away with the tears of generational farmers.

I’m not sure who will be reading this or what I really expect to happen but I need to pour out my heart so I can see straight.

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We are dairy farmers. My husband is 3rd generation and one of our four sons is hoping to continue. Hoping is the key word here.

The price we receive for our milk has been cut drastically over the last few years. It has come back a bit but well under the amount we need to break even let alone make a profit. The experts are predicting at least one more year of these farm-breaking prices.

As dairy farmers, we are used to the roller coaster prices but this dip has been deeper and longer than ever before with no relief in sight.

While our income has been slashed our production, costs are the same or more. We’ve trimmed down and cut back on everything possible.

Some reading this think “oh, that’s too bad” and never give it another thought. Some think “sell out and find another job, no big deal”.

That is comparable to telling a pro-golfer he can never pick up a golf club again, or a race car driver that he will never sit in a car seat again or a mother that she isn’t allowed to care for her children ever again.

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I truly believe a farmer is created. There is a seed dropped into the heart of a farmer at the time of conception that God puts there. We were created to care for his critters and tend his land.

Who else will work from before sunup to well past sundown? How many would be willing to work in a cloud of dust and dirt all day? How many professions require being covered in manure, silage juice and cow slime?

Farmers put their animals and farm first. Vacations are what we read about and hear from others. A half day’s work is done before church on Sundays. Ball games, drives in the country, leisurely strolls in the park are foreign to farmers. Oh, there may be a rare event that just happens to fall in between making hay and harvesting corn that can be attended.

Get togethers are always worked around milking times, planting and harvest. And many a supper out has been canceled due to something breaking down at the farm.

Knuckles are bloodied from slipping wrenches, shins are bruised from a well-placed cow hoof, and stitches are the norm when working on that one dang piece of machinery that you are trying to hold together because there just isn’t enough money to replace it.

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Add freezing cold temperatures and blowing snow that clogs the road before you can even get one pass done to the mix to make taking care of the farm even harder.

Everything waits for chores – Christmas morning, birthday celebrations are a couple that are put on hold until the last cow is fed or milked.

I have seen three of my four sons eat dirt, clean pieces of hay out of their eyes, cough up dust, and have disks in their backs blown. I have jumped in tractors and choppers to help keep them awake so the field can be done before the rain hits.

Months and months of work and money can be put in the ground only to not receive enough rain or too much rain and lose the whole thing.

Why are prices so low and farming so tough? What’s causing it? Personally, I’m not sure. I’ve heard that the European nations lifting their quota system and too much milk on the market are a couple.

Then let’s add in the fear mongering companies that try to scare the consumer into purchasing their high-priced products. A certain company is slapping their non-GMO sticker on everything that is placed in the grocery store whether or not it could possibly be a GMO product. And there is absolutely no scientific or medical proof that there is anything wrong with GMO foods.

Here we farmers have learned to grow food on less ground, with a smaller footprint, with higher yields and we are getting punished because someone is creating a false premise just to forward their own agenda.

Milk alternatives are slickly packaged and placed side by side with dairy. Some consumers have no idea there is no dairy in these products. I have NO problem with using other food sources for another drink but please don’t piggy back on our dairy. Don’t market that the alternative to dairy is healthier. It’s different.

We are coming from a place of discouragement, exhaustion, and depression. There is a thought that if you are honest and work hard you will be rewarded for your efforts. This is not and has not been happening for farmers in a long time.

We’re tired, sore and quite frankly some of us are scared spit less because we have no answer to the problem. We aren’t even sure what caused the problem and have no idea how to fix it.

We are praying for wisdom and guidance and some feel their prayers are falling on deaf ears.

At a time in our lives when we should be pulling back and slowing down we are working as hard as ever to fill the void that unaffordable employees could fill.

Part of me wants to do everything possible for my son to succeed as the fourth generation. Part of me wants to tell him to run – as fast and as far as he can from the farm.

But then, I realize that seed that started in his great grandfather and before has sprouted and is growing inside him.

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Trusting God, seeking wisdom is our first and last hope.

If you eat, wear clothing, sit on furniture, take medicine then you have farmers to thank for that. Considering life without farmers would be non-existent, please take some time to pray for us.

If anyone reading this has any constructive, credible suggestions, please share.

While I have gotten this off my chest it is still in my heart.

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Life is Like Uncle Ted

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My Uncle Ted. What a guy!

Growing up as kids, us cousins, would spend a few weeks of our summers up north at the cottage. There was nor will be anything better than those summer weeks.

One of our treats was to visit the sand dunes. Back then it was much less commercial and easier to do what we wanted where we wanted.

The wheels of the car could barely stop turning before the doors flung open and we leaped out (no seat belts to hinder us then) and started our crab scramble up the hill. We all knew we had a short window to get a start before Uncle Ted released his torture.

We didn’t enjoy the climb, take in the scenery and never looked back. We knew at any minute Uncle Ted would strike.

We could be 10 feet up the hill or one third up the hill when “Got cha!” he would yell as he grabbed our ankles and pulled us down.

We would holler, complain and laugh all at the same time.

Then we would start again. We hoped he would be distracted by something else and not notice our movement forwarded.

Again, out of nowhere the ankle grab and his laughter pulled us back down. Sometimes all the way back, sometimes not too far.

Again, and again this happened until he either got tired, or our laughter started to subside or it was getting closer to leaving.

Eventually, finally, after all the torture and travails of Uncle Ted we cleared the top.

We knew every year it would be the same, yet we looked forward to it and would never want it any other way.

As, I was assessing a negative turn in my life I thought “life is just like Uncle Ted. We are climbing up and moving forward and at any given time something will grab our ankle and pull us down.” It could be conflict, sickness, economics, stress, family issues, strife, you name it. There is plenty out there to pull us down.

We can sit in the spot where life pulled us down and not try to move forward because it’s too hard, too sad, too tough, too alone or we can move up, dig in and climb again.

Each time we get pulled down we know we have a choice. Each time we get pulled down we see we’ve survived the last set back – as long as we chose to move forward.

I don’t know what your Uncle Ted is. We all have them. I’m dealing with a whole family of Uncle Ted’s right now but the problems will not define me nor change my course.

I choose to scramble ahead keeping just ahead of Uncle Ted. If he grabs me I know I will sit a minute, pray a bit, catch my breath and then I can choose. Sit there while the rest of the world climbs ahead or I can dig in, crab crawl and enjoy the time I’m ahead of Uncle Ted.

One day when we get to the top we will look back at Uncle Ted and laugh about the fact that we gave him so much power over our lives.

Who’s your Uncle Ted?

These Boys . . . These Men

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I partially own them.

This group of good looking guys have a lot of my love.

This is a unique group because most of them have been together since school began. They have been in and out of my life and home for many years. There are three sets of brothers who are best friends with each other – two of those are my sons. My furniture has been draped by their clothes, the floor piled with shoes and their bodies strewn all over anywhere for a night or two at a time. I’ve had random pair of socks, stray pairs of underwear (makes you wonder how they missed that), and T-shirts that no one claims as theirs.

My kitchen table has been surrounded, my grocery bill has been pinned to the wall of fame at the grocery store for the longest running receipt, and there have been more chocolate chips cookies leave my home than butterflies heading to Florida.

And I loved every minute of it.

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When I look at this picture I see a pile of spaghetti all tangled together, covered in love. That is my favorite dish.

One of my boys (not son) got married last night and all the rest of the mangy crew arrived – most of them.

As I made my rounds hugging necks so many times I heard “Hi Mom!” I was superb at controlling my emotions because I couldn’t let my make-up be ruined. Music to my ears. Two words became a symphony for me.

This group of guys get together at least two times a year. They come from all corners like robins returning in the spring. They purpose to have this relationship.

There are many reasons why this group is so special. Over the years, they have held each other up, called each other out and were the best and worst for each other. They have survived themselves. Through the years there have been mothers and fathers who have passed. There have been good choices, bad choices and horrible choices made by this group, but the best choice was and is, is to be better. Be better together, be better as a person, husband, father, son, friend.

I’ve always known this group was extraordinary but got to see it in a different light last night – a brighter light.

My son brought a friend from Turkey to the wedding and he had been telling her all about the guys and their history.

She told me he had nothing but good to say about all of them and she thought “that’s nice.” It wasn’t until she saw them all together that she started to see the whole picture. And, to ad blessing onto blessing, the boys who are married have the most wonderful wives and they all seem to get along too. She felt very welcomed and included in the group. She categorized this group as a culture of their own.

I guess I’m blogging about this to show my love for them and appreciation that I get to have them in my life.

I also want to encourage parents who still have kids at home – open your doors and open your heart. Set another plate at the table and throw another pillow on the floor.

Cookies and milk around the kitchen table is excellent ground for sowing seeds – sowing seeds of love, grace, mercy, understanding and the reality of Jesus Christ and eternity. No Bible is necessary to share the love of God.

While I would never impose, I have no doubt that just about any of these would come to help me if called.

There are a lot of wonderful young people out there that just might turn into something wonderful if they have a landing place to be loved on. Not that home loving is bad or was lack in this group but there is something about someone who doesn’t “have to” love you that does.

This group is amazing. We have IT guys, designers for international companies, lawyers, occupational therapists, veterans, security, business owners – amazing young men.

I’m so proud of these men and the journey they’ve traveled thus far. I pray you all have a group in your lives – you may have to look for them but there are those guys out there.

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