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.