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.

Year End Comments

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I’ve thought about doing this year end blog for a while now. At times I think, no, not going to and yet I can’t shake it.

 2018 for farmers has been a horrible, awful year. It’s the worst I’ve endured in my 47 years on the farm. Every day on social media I read about another farmer calling it quits. I read too often about farmers committing suicide. I read from my personal friends their heart’s cry of despair.

The future is dismal, and relief is too far away.

It feels like I’ve posted so many undesirable things about farming this year because frankly, that is what most farmers are living.

When I started to blog a long time ago, I decided to share the truth. To be transparent. And in doing so, it has been quite negative lately.

In a few days a new year starts. There doesn’t appear to be much to look forward to. Some farmers are trying to finish 2018 harvest and won’t complete it until 2019. Income prices seem to be stuck in a time zone – the 1970s.

I will continue to share the truth – the good, the bad and the ugly.

But I am purposing to do one thing different.

I will add one good thing each time I post. If we stop and search, there are so many blessings in our lives. Sometimes it just gets buried under the weight of our daily tasks. Somedays I will have blessings overflowing. Other times I know it will be a challenge, but I will find something positive to share – no matter how small the slice of goodness, I will serve it up.

Today’s Goodness: We are still here. We are all healthy and whole. We have full bellies, warm bodies and hearts to share. The weather is clear – no rain with a small possibility of snow late tonight. So grateful for no rain.

New Year’s Suggestions for Mom

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I dislike New Year’s Resolutions because it just seems like they carry too much pressure. 

I like the thought of New Year’s Resolutions because we all need a restart now and then.

Therefore, I try to rephrase it as New Year’s Suggestions.

You may wonder why I would take the time to share or why you should even consider reading this. I’ve been there. I’ve done that – been a mom. I’m still a mom. And, I have four sons who have become amazing men and while I can’t take much credit, I can share some tidbits.

So, here you go – from my mom’s heart to yours.

1.     Relax. Oh, my, yes. Sit back, take a deep breath and relax. Loosen your grip on being the perfect mom. You will NEVER EVER achieve it. You WILL mess up. And, it will be okay. The voice in your head telling you your kid will need years of counseling because you might do something wrong is a lie. God created humans to withstand mistakes.

2.     Say “yes” more. Keep your “nos” to a minimum. When your default becomes no, it is usually for a selfish reason – you don’t want the mess, you don’t want to stop what you are doing, you don’t want the mess, you don’t want to be inconvenienced and you don’t want the mess. Get it? Kids make messes. Anyone who lives with or works with a person who says no before the question or thought is fully exposed knows how draining it is.

3.     Take time to make time. Find something you can do one on one. I know there are seasons in life when just keeping them alive is a major accomplishment. Find activities you can do together where it’s just the two of you. Two of my sons wrestled and did freestyle wrestling. Farmer was tethered to the farm so if they wanted to participate it was up to me. We wanted our kids to have the ability to pursue what they enjoyed within reason. Therefore, a baby sitter was found for the other boys and I would take my kid all over the area, spend the day in the gym watching him get twisted and take down other kids – all – day – long. It was the ride there and the ride back that was our special time. Get your kids in the car. They are trapped.

4.     Allow your children to make mistakes. Mistakes are some of the best jumping off places for greatness. If your kids are free to fail, they are freer to succeed.

5.     Praise your kid for who he is, not what he does. Kids should learn their worth is who they are. If their worth comes from the good they do, they will quickly become so entangled in performance and never find the awesomeness of themselves. God gives each of us places to shine. In the places we fail God loves us no less than when we succeed. Teach your kids that by example.

6.     As parents we throw a lot of money at things that will help our kids get better at sports, better at dance, better at scholastics. We need to help our kids improve at being better humans by encouraging, showing and teaching good character. Day to day show excellence in your actions. Pick up the empty cup in the parking lot, hold the door open for someone behind you, say please and thank you, tell the cashier they are doing a great job, pay for the person behind you in drive-thru – the list can go on and on.

7.     Purpose to have fun, laugh and be joyful. Think about it. Would you rather spend time with someone who is negative and stern or with someone who laughs easily, is joyful and finds the best in you?

8.     For me, the most important, is to use the name of Jesus throughout your interactions. By this I do not mean “preaching or shaming”. I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe things happen for a reason and somethings are “arranged” by God himself. When you see something really cool like a special rock (for some reason kids love finding cool rocks) point how God did such a good job making it special. Show them the God details in life – look at how many different colors of green God created, watch how a bud turns into a flower and a flower into an apple. Teach that that didn’t happen by accident, that God loves us so much he makes things special. Stop and pray when a decision is needed. And always thank God for answers – even the little ones like helping you find that missing sock or whatever. 

I leave you with these few suggestions.

My goal is to help you find joy while IN THE MIDST of motherhood so that when you look back you can do so with a smile.

Blessings to you Mamas.

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!

 

 

 

What's Behind a Name?

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These are four of the five critters I had to feed by bottle the other night.  

Let me introduce you.

Moe is the dark, handsome guy. You don’t see Curly – he’s behind me causing trouble. Moe and Curly are a couple of goof balls. Hopping around, kicking up their feet, causing general mayhem.

Prancer is the only female. Talk about ADD. She can’t stand still for more than three consecutive seconds. And, every time she has to dance around, she lets go of the nipple and twirls around. Which means I have to get her attention, get ahold of her again and get the nipple back into her mouth for perhaps 1.5 sucks before we start the dance again. Every dance step includes bending over and if I’m lucky – not stepping in a new pile of poop.

Twister could win a talent show that was looking for how far you can turn your neck while standing on all four legs. After much wrangling, this calf will start drinking and with each suck he turns his head until his head is upside down and you can’t hang onto the bottle anymore. Every third or fourth time he falls over and we have to start it again. Which once again includes a lot of bending and poop stepping.

And, then there’s Houdini. Now, this guy is an amazing drinker. Grabs the nipple right away and drinks the whole bottle without a problem. The problem is when the bottle is empty, he thinks he needs more and will follow you around trying to get more. This will include him banging his head up against any body part he can reach, sucking on the side of your leg and trying to get the nipple from the other calf you are wrestling with.

So, when he was done with his bottle, I corralled him behind a piece of plywood that was standing up against an old head lock. There was a triangle shaped space that would hold him nicely. When I came back with another bottle and was fighting . . . um, I mean feeding another calf I could hear him making a noise like he was knocking at a door.

I stopped feeding the other calf and looked over the edge of the plywood and he wasn’t there. A quick look around and I found him trying to climb up a board laying behind the headlock. He found a 10-inch opening that he squeezed through, climbed up another piece of board and was attempting to scale new heights.

I moved the piece of plywood and to say I squeezed through the 10-inch space would be like saying I shoved a 9-inch round cake into a cupcake holder, or a size 10 foot into a size 4 shoe, or . . . you get the picture. That alone wasn’t the worst part. The fact that Houdini is only 3 feet tall and I’m 5 feet plus 5 inches I got to be the one to clean out all those cobwebs and dust banners that draped across the top of the headlock and boards. I never saw that coming and there was a little bit of screeching involved with that.

I was able to turn him around and head him back where he came from when he spotted another board tipped on its side with an opening that would be able to hold about half of his body. Of course, he just had to attempt that. With his back side outside of that spot I pulled him back and turned him around to the original escape route.

Anyone who has messed with calves know they don’t move easily. Unless you’re talking about their bowels. Yep, as I was guiding him out, he pooped all over my leg and into my boot.

When I finished cleaning the bottles and headed home, I had about an hour to clean up and finish making dinner for company coming that night.

I mentioned I had to feed calves and one guest said something like “Oh, it looks like that would be so much fun. They are so cute and sweet looking.”

 

I nodded and smiled while under my breath . . . “as much fun as a three-ring circus in a haunted house.”

 

 

. . . 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.

 

 

Dear Mamas,

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Sit with me a few minutes. Grab a cup of coffee, go into your bathroom and run the water in the tub so you can’t hear what’s going on with the kids. They’ll survive a few minutes. 

First of all, you just need to know that you are going to mess up. Many times. So, relax, accept it and leave it behind.

You are even going to “not like” your kids (Gasp!). Yep, you’ll want them to disappear for just a few minutes. Normal!

As moms we put so many demands on ourselves and even on each other.

We tell each other our victories – “Sally Sue was potty trained at 6 months!” Meanwhile, Vicky Mae didn’t care about it nor was totally trained until she was 3. Let me tell you something. Sally Sue wasn’t trained at 6 months. Whoever took her and sat her on the toilet was trained at 6 months. The most important thing – by looking at any grown adult or even any kid in school, can you determine when they were potty trained? Does it determine the path of their life? Does it make any stinking difference? Heck no. So, do your thing. Teach about the potty. Change the diapers. It will all work out.

We will be attending school and church Christmas programs soon. You can scan the rows of children in their decked out to the tee garb. I think it must be easier for mothers of girls to go a bit overboard. The clothes, the shoes, the hair. For my four boys I had all I could hope for to keep their faces clean, hair combed, and shirts buttoned on the right buttons.

Are all our efforts to adorn them beneficial? While I believe telling the sweet little girl how pretty her dress is and how handsome the little dude looks, is fine and dandy, shouldn’t we be finding a quality about them to praise?

And then, we must hit the stores night after night to find that perfect Christmas morning gift that will light up their eyes with joy. That light will fade within a few hours. The nights sharing the dinner table, cleaning up the kitchen, checking the homework, reading the books with them will last a lifetime.

Oh, and dare we not pull out all the stops to help our kids perform Olympic level sports. We will send them to camps, buy the latest, greatest and most expensive piece of equipment they need to be in line for the sport scouts to see. This is an easy one to fall into especially if your kids have a bent for sports. And, there is nothing wrong with supporting them. I had four sons that were sports minded and I did everything I could to equip them. And, once again there is nothing wrong with supplying the tools for them to succeed. It’s when the sport supersedes who the child is.

Then there’s school. The pressure put on kids today to “be their best”. Their worth is determined by a grade on a paper. Let’s admit it. There are some kids who will struggle their whole time in school. They will never make the honor roll. They will never have a grade point worthy of bragging. But they have worth. They have a spot to shine in this world. God drops something into each and every person. School doesn’t have to define someone’s worth or future.

Do we let them slack off and not meet the requirements of school? Heavens no. But, don’t hold your encouragement and praise until they bring home a grade you think is worthy of your words. That kid who will never made a grade above a C- may have the biggest servant’s heart in the whole building. He/She may be the one that will stand up to stop the other kids from bullying. That kid who sits at the table in tears because they “don’t get it” may be the one who brings joy and laughter when others need it the most.

We don’t need to push and propel our kids out into the world fully equipped for all of life’s circumstances – that’s impossible. Mama’s aren’t supposed to create that perfect life. Life is never perfect. With all your work to make your home nirvana you will have kids who will be slapped in the face with reality and may not be able to survive.

Let your kids see your failures. Let them know you can’t afford something, and choices have to be made. Let them know you love them whether they are holding a paper with an A or an F sprawled on the top.

When they succeed, whether at sports or academically, praise them for WHO they are, not what they did.

Mamas – create a home where all the kids want to come and hang out. Let your house be the messy house that kids can come and sprawl over the furniture, eat cookies at your table and relax. You be the place of rest. It’s amazing what you can learn when the kids are dunking cookies in milk at your table while you are in the background cleaning the kitchen or rearranging your spices over and over again, so you can hear the chatter.

Don’t try to be the “cool” mom. Be the fun mom. Be the mom that allows mistakes. The mom who allows messes. The mom who allows time to pass and relationships to be built. Be the mom who knows the value of being mom and not friend. Your friendship will come at a later date, but right now they have plenty of friends. They need a mom.

Before you get judgmental, being a mom is saying no. Being a mom is calling kids out. Being a mom is telling all of them to help clean up. Being a mom is setting boundaries when necessary. Being all of that will draw all those kids closer. That’s what they all need.

There is one goal that I think all moms should put at the top of their list to reach. Teach your children about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Speaking the name of Jesus should flow in and out of your conversations with ease. If we put as much effort into “Jesus training” as we did into academics and sports what a difference our world would be. Be sure you aren’t living a legalistic Jesus where they have to be good to deserve God. God loves messy people. God loves those who make mistakes. Let your kids understand that there is nothing too bad for God to love. That there are no surprises to God and there’s no point to hiding what we’ve done. And, there is NO reason to hold a wrong in their hearts for one second after asking for forgiveness.

Intertwined in all of this are rules. Yes, the ugly word – rules. But rules don’t have to rule. Consequences can teach louder than our pointing finger, head bobbing, tongue lashing sermons.

Love, love, love your kids.

Relax. Laugh. Enjoy – even the messy parts.

I always have a cup of coffee and a table available for anyone who wants to dump their burdens, cry about their messes or just want to compare notes. While I didn’t do everything right, I have four of the most amazing, wonderful, strong, God fearing sons. That alone proves that God makes up what we don’t provide as mothers.

Now, drain the tub and face those treasures God gave you.

A Pity Party Invite, This is Not

Fourth and possibly Fifth Generation

Fourth and possibly Fifth Generation

I was told by someone they thought that my blogs about the hard times in farming were to garner sympathy. 

Sympathy - feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune.

Apparently, I haven’t been putting my words together in the right order.

Sympathy is the last thing I want or for that matter I believe any farmer wants.

Sympathy is a waste of time in my opinion for just about everything.

Let’s try again.

Farming really, really sucks right now. There is very little joy – we have our moments where we used to have hours and days.

We work as hard or harder. We work as long or longer. Our take home? No profit. It’s not even that we are making less, we are struggling to say the least. Most farmers are.

Why?

For us, too much milk on the market. Thus, we farmers are our own worst enemies in a way.

Groups of people who have never had a chunk of manure on their shoes are influencing the public against farming. The fact that fewer people are choosing (that is subjective. I truly believe God drops the farming factor into those he wants to farm.) the profession means there are less who understand the truth and reality involved with farming.

The weather has not been on farmers side.

And, in part, the lack of new products that milk could support.

As farmers we have learned how to get more milk from each cow. That should be progress – until the too much milk causes pricing to be lowered. Also, there are some farmers – usually the mega ones that have chosen to increase their herds. That alone is sabotage to the industry. Yet, I have no right to condemn a person for doing what they feel they need to do to create a better life.

To go along with that “too much milk” issue I believe the milk coops have done a disservice also. Looking back, I think there should have been a quota or a limited percentage of increase in numbers of cows or amount of milk shipped on each farm until more processing plants or solution to the issues were in sight. Yes, this all sounds easy in print.

Social media is good and evil at the same time. These groups who will not get one dot of exposure by name here, are louder than reality. They were fake news before fake news became a reality in the world. The groups always, always have an agenda that most people don’t realize. And, the agenda usually comes with $$ attached. There will be videos that are edited falsely, dialogue that is total lies backed up by yet another agenda seeking person or group.

Along that line, when you are reading quotes concerning food or agriculture, follow the trail all the way back to the source. Many so-called experts are some with a deep desire to kill the animal industry and will stop at nothing to get you to believe their manure.

The uncontrollable circumstances – the weather. For us this year we had a wet spring which delayed getting into the fields. Then there was a short drought that just about killed some of our crops – decreased the end product value. And, then we have had a wet harvest season where we couldn’t get into the fields to get crops off when they were at the best food value. We personally are still combining corn which is really late for us. I joked the other day that I would be happy if we got 2018 crops in by 2018 and didn’t have to carry over into 2019. That will be a reality for some farmers and that is not a good thing.

As an industry I think we need to come up with new ways to use dairy. There are some dairies that have done an excellent job and cornered a market – Good job!

We need to correct the fake news about the value of milk, the safety of milk and the people behind the product.

And, thus there is part of the reason why I blog. I want you to see, feel and know who we are. To see our struggles, our joys, our hearts. You need to know there are decent, caring people who put their animals before themselves. You need to know that when work needs to be done, it gets done – no matter how long. Dinners are late, plans are canceled, sleep is ignored. It’s all part of the picture of farming.

Farmers are driven from within – otherwise there would be no farmers providing food for you and your family.

So, I don’t want your sympathy – let’s make that crystal clear. I think what I would like is appreciation and value shown to farmers. My Farmer and sons who farm are beat up physically, mentally and emotionally at times.

Once again, no sympathy, just a little appreciation and value please.

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Two of my favorite farmers. 

 

Growing Old Sucks

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Yes, growing old is sucky at times. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we’re off to the races.

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

The whole procedure only took about 20 minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Observations from the Homefront

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

I see you. Do you see me?

 

What’s Wrong/Right with the Church?

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

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

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

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

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

So here goes . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Another Farm Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All questions I have that are void of answers.

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

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

Food is such an easy, cheap commodity in America.

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

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

A better question is who can help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Sadly, Fear Trumps Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Above all, let civility rein.

And maybe have a little love for each other.

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

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