47 Sundays

We are short one person at the main table today.

We are short one person at the main table today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Farm Woman to Woman Connection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sunday Morning on the Farm

This is Brian. He said to tell you “Good Morning.”

This is Brian. He said to tell you “Good Morning.”

This is what’s happening on the farm this morning.

For us, Sundays are necessary chores only. It’s our personal belief.

Cinderella sleeping in the driveway.

Cinderella sleeping in the driveway.

Sunday morning donuts for our guys. We have the BEST team!

Sunday morning donuts for our guys. We have the BEST team!

The cows they are a milking.

The cows they are a milking.

This one is just hanging out after she was milked.

This one is just hanging out after she was milked.

Thankfully she can’t fit through the opening.

Thankfully she can’t fit through the opening.

Bulk tank.

Bulk tank.

We are proud to be verified. It’s important to take the steps to be pro-active.

We are proud to be verified. It’s important to take the steps to be pro-active.

My BEBs - Brown Eyed Bossies eating their breakfast.

My BEBs - Brown Eyed Bossies eating their breakfast.

No hauling manure on Sunday.

No hauling manure on Sunday.

Mixing feed rations for the girls.

Mixing feed rations for the girls.

Some newbies this morning.

Some newbies this morning.

There you go - a brief cold Sunday morning walk through.

The Darkness and Heart Holders

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

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

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

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

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

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

The heart holders watched helplessly as the sun became elusive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Farmer, The Police, The Farmer

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

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

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

Here’s the convo:

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

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

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

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

Officer: What are you listening too?

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

Officer: How is it?

Me: Very interesting.

Officer: Can I have your license and registration please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: “No, why, did you see me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Mamas of Young Ones,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They say women can multi-task easy.

Let’s make our taskings worthwhile.

 

 

The Many Sides of A Farm Wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are a few things I know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bible teaches-

Matthew 18: 12-14

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

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

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

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

The One become bitter which leads to sickness.

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

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

The One flounders.

The 99 continually changes faces.

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

They say there is power in numbers.

Jesus thought One was pretty valuable.

Yes, We Care Enough to Treat Our Sick Critters

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This is why we use antibiotics.

 The normal temperature of a calf is around 101°.

She is coughing a little and has pneumonia.

Some consumers are unnecessarily concerned about antibiotics in their food that they think no antibiotics ever is the only safe way.

That is false.

First of all, if one of my animals is sick, I care enough to treat her.  By the time she grows up, has a calf and is milked it will be impossible to find any trace of antibiotics.

Also, if a milking cow is sick and treated, she is removed from the group and put into the hospital pen. She is milked and her milk is dumped.

Every load of milk leaving our farm is tested for antibiotics. If the milk contained any, it would be dumped. There is no possible way for antibiotics to be in your milk. Don’t pay extra for a label stating that.

If we have to sell a cow that has been treated, we must hold her until the amount of time that the drug company deems has passed. There are inspectors at the slaughter house to make sure no meat is harvested with drugs.

Don’t pay extra for labels stating “antibiotic free” because all meat and milk is free of antibiotics.

By the way the calf is better. She is no longer sick.

Here is a great article: http://ag.alltech.com/en/blog/debunking-some-antibiotic-myths-us


Whispers From God

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's Right About Farming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just A Thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It has become a sacred place to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My positive for this post.

We’re still here.

We’re doing OK.

We’re not alone.

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!