Who Is A Farm Wife and Why Does She Blog?

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With all my (notice I’ve claimed you as mine) newer followers/peeps, I thought I’d take a minute and introduce myself. Some of you probably have no clue about who I am, where I came from and why I am here. So, if you’re at all interested, continue, otherwise … 

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I’m a wife of 47+ years, mother to 4 wonderful sons, with 3 of the best daughters-in-law (yes, still have one amazingly handsome son available in case you’re interested) and 8 of the craziest, beautiful grandkids.

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We have a dairy farm in the West MI area where we employ about 15 great partners in ag. We milk around 750 Holsteins three times a day in a double 12 herringbone. We farm around 1200 acres. We have been rooted here for over 120 years. We still have those big tall blue silos which are great to look at but time and work intensive compared to other ways to store feed.

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Farmer, myself, Son #2, his wife and kids are the family members who now run the farm.

Those are the bare bone facts of the farm.

Some back story of myself -since I know ya’ll are on the edge of your seat.

I was raised on the east side of MI. My dad was a tool and die maker for General Motors. My life there was the complete opposite of what it is now. My dad was home every day by 4:00. We had supper every night. He was home on the weekends and we took summer vacations.

I graduated at 17 in June, turned 18 in July and got married in September. So, I walked down the city church aisle into the barnyard. OMGosh. What a culture change to say the least.

I was not prepared – probably because I was so in lust um I mean love with this dashing handsome hunk of a farmer I paid no attention to any other details of my life to come.

The first year or so of our marriage was getting used to doing things differently (me, not him). While it was just the two of us it was fine, I could work with late nights, no suppers around the table, no vacations etc. I helped with calf feeding and rode along in any and all farm machinery.

The hard part came when the kids came and I was a single mom with a husband somewhere within a 10-mile radius. Remember there were no cell phones, no texting. Not having the core family, I wanted was difficult. Farmer left before everyone was up and came home later in the evening after we had supper. Sunday dinner was the only dinner we had together as a family.

The farm became my enemy. I hated it. I hated everything about it.

For several years I was buried in taking care of the kids. School, sports, feeding them, cleaning them, clothing them, everything. Farmer was around but not always within if you know what I mean.

As the kids got older we all got more involved and that’s when the love affair began. I would take supper out to the fields and the kids would ride along falling asleep behind the seat – before buddy seats.

We learned the dance and at times it was as easy and as graceful as a waltz. Other times it was like a herky jerky.

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Other than my God, and my family there is nothing I am more passionate about than our farm. We are so blessed to take care of these critters and creation.

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What do I do for/on the farm? I take care of the books – and now will be transitioning that to my daughter-in-law. I help take care of the grounds – a whole lot of mowing, weed whacking and flowering over there. I also deliver – food and folks from field to field. I merge hay – my one and only field job (I’ve realized it’s best not to learn anything else). I cook for our guys, I run for parts, I help with vet events at the farm. I feed calves; I chase cows I do whatever I can when I can. I listen to farmer complain; I listen to son complain. I try to mediate and be the peacemaker at times.

While it is all hard work, I do love it. I enjoy having the ability to physically continue to work until it hurts (which comes faster and easier).

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My back porch and the barnyard are my islands of sanity. In the summer I migrate to the porch whenever I can. It’s a great place to quiet myself, listen to God, and connect with the quietness I desperately need at times. Walking through the barns with my BEBs (Brown Eyed Bossies) the shuffling, mooing, clanking all those small noises become a melody that calms my soul.

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I pray over my cows, I cry over my cows, and I dance with my calves. God knew what he was doing when he connected me with that cute farmer boy.

Next: Part #2 – Why do I do social media?

When Competition is Unhealthy

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When farmers compete against each other – everyone loses. 

We produce milk. Therefore, we are dairy producers and we choose to be conventional farmers.

Other farmers that produce milk could be organic farmers. I have friends that are organic farmers.

The marketing world will do whatever they can to pit us against each other. There will be exaggerated and false facts pushed to show that one is better than the other. And, I personally think it goes back to your own preference for some things. But, as a conventional farmer I lean towards that way of farming and promote conventional.

What I won’t do (anymore) is speak against organic other than stating facts. For instance, if you want organic – great. But, make sure you are purchasing it for the right reasons. Some think organic is healthier, yet that has not been proven. https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/are-organic-foods-healthier-than-conventional-foods/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwg73kBRDVARIsAF-kEH9lBQJo9ZbyjHrh8YNB3U7RSWmEIvbUPGdGzlrTi-qTCM6dIPzTzMgaAqhoEALw_wcB

Some people think organic is grown without pesticides. That is false - https://foodinsight.org/pesticides-food-what-you-need-to-know/

So, as you see organic and conventional are different. The advertising suggests that one is better than the other depending on where you pitch your tent.

Another area is “milk”. While I believe it is easier to show that dairy is better than “nut juice” I try not to be too aggressive because there is a farmer that stands behind the other “milk” products.

If you want to use a nut juice instead of dairy – fine. If you don’t want to drink real dairy then great. Please don’t bash dairy products, just pick your alternative and move on. I will try to point out the differences and yes, once again I will heavily promote real dairy over the alternatives.

My beef is the false advertising on the packaging (which seems to be changing due to some legal activity). When it proclaims to be milk when there is no dairy in it, then that product is riding on the coat tails of my industry and confusing consumers.

Once again, I try to be careful because there are farmers working to produce the products used in those products.

The last area is my hot button. It is the non-GMO campaign.

I don’t want to take time to explain what a GMO is but here is a link: https://gmoanswers.com/what-gmo?gclid=Cj0KCQjwg73kBRDVARIsAF-kEH_AX2vKL32GzmbbeVguM_9VtyBx0BLWJKVldhK6yJVlbkErlZp2BucaAo8yEALw_wcB

And, I believe for the most part there is just a small slice of the farmer pie that pushes this. And, it is quite often tied in with the organic farming industry which makes it hard to discuss and explain in a way that doesn’t shed a dark light on them.

First of all. There are only 10 products on the market that can possibly be GMO.

            Alfalfa, Apples, Canola, Corn, Cotton, Papaya, Potatoes, Soybeans, Squash, Sugar Beets

There is no danger in GMO products. https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/are-gmos-safe/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwg73kBRDVARIsAF-kEH82XCprFH8yYGuhE_1HDZV936fgOV_nAqp530S7-oVYQ6Cp13ACQ34aAgPaEALw_wcB

I could spend a lot of time here, but bottom line – fear-based propaganda. If any company or group can influence you to purchase more of their product using fear, chances are they will.

Many food items are labeled non-GMO when there isn’t even the possibility for it to be a GMO. Why? Well, it makes sense to the average shopper that if it is labeled as not having it, then having it must be bad. Therefore, I’ll purchase the one that is non-GMO.

As each of us farmers purpose to promote our product and way of farming we must be careful not to run over and trample a fellow farmer.

The marketing companies are busy coming up with clever ways to sell with no regard to who or what other farmer will be hurt.

So, as farmers we need to be respectful when commenting on things that are not within our boundaries of farming because we are all in the food raising business.

The world right now is so divisive and every time you turn around someone is shoving a wedge between two entities. It’s time to show that while we are different we can be kind and work together.

I may farm conventionally; I will still respect organic farmers.

            I will not allow false statements about my way of farming.

I produce dairy; I will respect farmers who supply alternative.

            I will not allow false statements about my product.

I use GMO products; I will respect farmers who want to grow non-GMO.

            I will not allow false statements about safe farming.

To all my fellow farmers I wish you great success and ask for harmony amongst each other. This ball of mud is large enough for all of us to exist. Let’s just do it peaceably.

 

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.

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.

What's Behind a Name?

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

Let me introduce you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

. . . Nevertheless

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

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

To recap:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rules and regulations are plentiful. Nevertheless . . .

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

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

Overwhelming stress comes in waves. Nevertheless . . .

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

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

Nevertheless . . . what?

Nevertheless – God

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

God is here.

God is with us.

God provides.

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

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

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

We appreciate any and all prayers for farmers.

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

One last request.

For you personally.

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

 

 

A Pity Party Invite, This is Not

Fourth and possibly Fifth Generation

Fourth and possibly Fifth Generation

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s try again.

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

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

Why?

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

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

The weather has not been on farmers side.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Two of my favorite farmers. 

 

Another Farm Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All questions I have that are void of answers.

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

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

Food is such an easy, cheap commodity in America.

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

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

A better question is who can help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Sadly, Fear Trumps Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Above all, let civility rein.

And maybe have a little love for each other.

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

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

 

 

How to Pray for Farmers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What 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.

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