The Farmer, The Police, The Farmer

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

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

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

Here’s the convo:

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

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

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

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

Officer: What are you listening too?

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

Officer: How is it?

Me: Very interesting.

Officer: Can I have your license and registration please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: “No, why, did you see me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Mamas of Young Ones,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They say women can multi-task easy.

Let’s make our taskings worthwhile.

 

 

The Many Sides of A Farm Wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are a few things I know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned. . .

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!

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

What Does “Whack A Mole” and the movie “Groundhog Day” Have to do with Farming?

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Wondering about that title?

Farming is hard. Not just hard it’s more than hard. Great families are losing their farms daily. And it has nothing to do with business choices, bad management, lack of work ethic or any other issue the farmer could control.

As farmers we are a resilient bunch yet there comes a time when it’s over.

Right now, as a farmer still hanging on by our fingernails I couldn’t help but see the resemblance to the “Whack a Mole” game.

I feel like every morning we get up, go out with expectations that the day will be better than yesterday and things will start turning around. While we are pushing ourselves upwards and towards that evasive light at the end of the tunnel, life happens and we get smacked back down.

A hit from low prices. A hit from bad weather. A hit from machinery breakdowns. A hit from insects. A hit from false news about farming. A hit from social media spreading mistruths. A hit from accident or injury. A hit from __________ fill in the blank – this could go on for a long time.

Day after day we continue to rise up, work hard, pray more only to be whacked down again.

How many times can you get hit before you are done? That’s the question all farmers are asking and too many, way too many have reached that point.

While I don’t remember all the details from the movie “Groundhog Day” the part I remember is that each day is a repeat of the day before.

Farmers would be key characters in “Groundhog Day”. Each morning you start out thinking it’s a new day only to find yourself repeating the thoughts of “maybe tomorrow”, “how long can we do this”, “what can I do to change this”. As the hours wear on through the day the load feels heavier and heavier. Going to bed each night you try to talk yourself into thinking tomorrow will be different. Then, each morning you’re right at it again, day after day after day.

Farmers are tough. Some of the toughest people – physically, mentally and emotionally are farmers. The average person could never work this hard for this long for so little if there wasn’t a little bit of Superman inside.

All superheroes can only be super so long. Farmers are over burdened with depression and are committing suicide at a heart-breaking, record setting rate.

This isn’t going away. As long as there are people on the earth and as long as people need to eat, be clothed, have medicine and more, there will be a need for farmers.

Yet, how many of these food eating, crop wearing people ever give a thought to those who worked to provide it?

If you are a consumer there are a few things you can do to show your support for farmers.

1.     Please pray.

2.     Don’t listen to every person who slams farmers for their horrible practices. Find the source of your information and make sure they are credible. Search behind the source to see if they are connected with another group that would benefit from slamming farmers.

3.     If you have a question of concern – go to the source. Ask a farmer. There are tons of us on social media that would LOVE to help you understand.

4.     Don’t stand in judgement and think or speak that a farmer could have/should have done better.

5.     Thank a Farmer – speak some encouragement into their lives.

Lastly, for most of you reading this your food is less costly than just about anywhere else on the planet. Appreciate your spot on this ball of dirt and be grateful.

Little Traverse Lake . . . A Little Slice of Heaven

To some this is just a body of water, that holds seaweed, snails and fish.

To me it is that and so much more.

This is my childhood’s most precious memories. This is where we would spend our summer vacation. It was heaven on earth. Swimming, fishing, playing in the woods and to make it even more spectacular we would do all this with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

We would swim until our arms hung like wet noodles and our lips would be purple and slap together from shivering so hard.

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This lake holds hours of fishing in an overloaded boat where we were directed to be quiet or we would scare the fish. I remember fishing in wooden boats.

The campfires near the lake ate many a marshmallow and lulled us asleep.

Saturday night baths were a bar of soap and the lake.

Waking up at 6:00AM to slip “quietly” into the freezing cold lake was thwarted with the amphitheater sound system the water produced. You just can’t swim without splashing, squealing and giggling.

Snakes, turtles, crabs, minnows and blood suckers were fished from the lake.

Every summer one of the unknowns were – who will be in the cottage next to ours this year? Year after year we would meet new families spending their summer vacation at the neighbor’s cottages. Some of the families we saw more than once. A summer “boyfriend” was always a bonus.

One summer my brother and I were baptized in this water. Our Grandfather waded out into the lake with us and while the rest of the family watched from the dock, baptized us which added preciousness to our memories.

We found salamanders under logs, clams holding the world’s next largest pearls, chipmunks and other critters sharing the property.

The outhouse was a bonus of sorts. The stories, the bees, the smells!

I can’t eat fish today without my mind picturing my grandfather, father or uncles scaling and fileting fish under the tree on the blood and gut stained table they made for that purpose.

Whenever a cool breeze blows through cedar trees I am transported to that little cottage on the lake.

Upstairs in the cottage was one big room with 4 double beds. We would fight over who got what bed. Just getting up the steep narrow steps was a victory. And who needs anything besides heavy curtains hanging between the beds for privacy anyway?

Memories wouldn’t be complete without beestings, bug bites, pickers and a fishhook embedded in someone’s anatomy.

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Everything tasted better, smelled stronger and felt more intensely at the lake.

To some, this is a body of water. To me, this is a slice of what awaits us in heaven.

 

 

 

Shout Out to United Dairy Industry of Michigan - Use Them

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Here in Michigan we have and excellent source of help in promoting dairy. UDIM - United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

I get all my swag for our farm tours from them.

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They have been nothing but helpful and encouraging to us over the years and have afforded us great experiences.

Being highlighted as a Dairy Family at the Whitecaps game has been our favorite thus far.

Throwing out one of the first pitches.

Throwing out one of the first pitches.

Our latest adventure was a photo, video shoot. Take a look.

Don the photographer. First shot of the day. Son #2 and family.

Don the photographer. First shot of the day. Son #2 and family.

Dan the video and drone guy.

Dan the video and drone guy.

Getting set up for the "Milk Toast".

Getting set up for the "Milk Toast".

The guys doing the "Milk Toast". Abby watching over it all.

The guys doing the "Milk Toast". Abby watching over it all.

Then we added some puppy cuteness.

Then we added some puppy cuteness.

Watch for this on August 26 - National Dog Day. Join UDIM on facebook.

Watch for this on August 26 - National Dog Day. Join UDIM on facebook.

Then there was an interview. I do great on radio and behind the scenes so I passed this off to Son#2 and Daughter-in-law. Jolene was the expert at prying information out of him. Jane looking on while Dan is getting the camera ready.

Then there was an interview. I do great on radio and behind the scenes so I passed this off to Son#2 and Daughter-in-law. Jolene was the expert at prying information out of him. Jane looking on while Dan is getting the camera ready.

I think the blooper reel will be better than the actual footage. All in all they did a great job.

I think the blooper reel will be better than the actual footage. All in all they did a great job.

This was the best part. Watching and harassing during the interview.

This was the best part. Watching and harassing during the interview.

If you are a dairy in Michigan, please contact this great organization for help in promoting our product. They are so cooperative and have great ideas. Check them out:

 https://www.milkmeansmore.org

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.

4th and 5th generation

4th and 5th generation

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Blinker, No Problem

Don't be jealous of my wooden bumper.

Don't be jealous of my wooden bumper.

After merging for over an hour looking through dirty windows I drove the tractor up to the shop to wash them. While I was hanging off the steps and draped over the hood of the tractor Farmer called me.

Farmer: “Hey, I need you to bring me some fuel. Check the tank and make sure there is enough. Just call me back when you get to the truck.”

Me: “Where is the truck?”

F: "Halfway down the driveway."

M: I dropped everything and dismounted the tractor hood with nary a broken bone and walked over to the truck. And then called Farmer.

F: “Can you see how full the tank is?”

M: “Yep, ¾ full.”

F: “K Bring it out to the field for me. Drive careful. There are no blinkers.”

M: “OK, but I have to run home and go pee first.”

F: “Can’t you just pee behind the truck?”

M: This is where I would have slammed the phone down if the option was available. With the cell phones it’s so unrewarding to hang up on someone.

After the bladder was emptied and I was on the way with the truck I was concentrating on staying below the speed limit. I’ve watched enough Live PD to know that you can be pulled over for any small thing and going 10 miles over the speed limit would probably qualify. Having no working blinkers, a wooden bumper and no driver’s license I was trying to be the perfect citizen.

I made it to the other farm with no problem.

 

Farmer's best side.

Farmer's best side.

Once I parked it and Farmer was fueling the tractor I realized the plate on the truck was missing.

M: “No license plate?”

F: “Yes, there are 2 up on the dash. If you get stopped show them one and if they don’t like it, you have another one to try.”

M: Blank stare

F: “Be careful going home, I was already stopped once, so they may be looking for you.”

You can see the silos on the main farm 2 miles north.

You can see the silos on the main farm 2 miles north.

Farm Life Preservation 101

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What part of farm life am I referring too?

Anyone who comes in contact with the farmer this time of year.

For us with late April snow and never-ending May showers started us off behind. Now, add a broken-down hay mower and the chopper which has been in the dealership shop since April and no delivery back to the farm date and you have created the perfect storm for needing to know about farm life protection. This is what we call the “Angry Bear” stage of farming.

Here are the 10 guidelines of Farm Life Preservation 101.

1.     When approaching the farmer during this stressful time give him wide berth. Stay at least 10 feet away. That way you’ll have a better chance to duck flying tools.

2.     When approaching the farmer, make no quick movements and avoid eye contact.

3.     When leaving the farmer, back away slowly.

4.     While in the presence of the farmer, only speak when spoken to and speak in soft hushed tones unless machinery is running and then you must be able to lip read and shout louder than a jet engine revving up. Always agree with what they are saying.

5.     Never ask any questions.

6.     When feeding time comes push the food under the equipment with a long stick.

7.     Unless bellowed to enter, only go into the shop if it is necessary and when doing so, be stealthy and quiet so as not to rile the farmer.

8.     If he asks you to help him for just a minute, quietly text your doctor and let him know you can’t make it in for your liver transplant scheduled for later in the day.

9.     Always be on guard and ready to jump. The expectancy level is high, and you never know what will trigger it.

10.  If for any reason the farmer has fallen asleep, NEVER EVER wake him up unless you have had training.

All nonsense aside, it is a very stressful time of the year and all prayers for all farmers would be welcomed.

But, hey, I can’t fix any of the problems so why not have a little fun. The good thing is Farmer is so busy he won’t read this for several weeks and by then hopefully the “Angry Bear” syndrome will have past.