Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

We carry each other when our hearts are broken because we love big

I write this with a heavy heart. There are parts of dairy farming we know will happen and we know it will break our hearts, more then we can imagine. Cows leave our herd. Some we are happy to see leave, some we are disappointed and some just plan break our hearts. The latter is what recently happened.

As I went to tell Everett, he knew what I had to tell him was not good. I could see it in his eyes. I explained to him what happened to one of his beloved cows, 400. One he has taken to the fair since she was a calf and a sister to his most special cow, 304. One he has loved on. I barely could get the words out as I said, “She never came around.” Words I knew I would eventually have to tell my child but never wanted to think about it. Words I know as a dairy farmer are said but you never want to have to say to your child about one of his special cows. As I held Everett in my arms, nothing I could say would take the hurt away. Nothing. Nothing I could say would help ease his tears.

Nate brought 400 to the site were she would be laid to rest, overlooking the pond. Everett, Vivian and I picked freshly blooming lilacs. Lilacs are a sign of spring, a new beginning. They are some of the first flowers to bloom after a cold winter. They bring promise. That evening they were used to give safe travels to 400 as we said our goodbyes. Everett went to the other side of the house and came with freshly bloomed bleeding hearts. All of our hearts were bleeding. I asked Everett if he would like to bury his fair ribbon with 400. A firm, “Yes” he told me. We went to the show box gathered her ribbon from last year’s fair and Everett’s stall sign from the fair to be buried with her, I couldn’t help but think what those ribbons mean. They mean hard work, dedication and love. Everett loved 400. As he held his ribbon, fair tag and flowers as we waited for Nate to bring 400 he stood proud but his heart was breaking inside. I saw my 8 year old holding back his tears and then letting them fall. Trying hard to navigate his heartache. He asked about 400’s new calf, hope in his voice, I replied “She had a bull calf.” knowing his hopes would be shattered by my simple words. Again his heart broke. My little boy full of love and dedication to 400, petted her one last time, laid flowers around her, gently placed her ribbon and stall tag near her face and said his goodbyes. As Everett came and stood by me I told him with tears in my own voice, “It hurts big because you loved big.” Nate, Vivian and I all surrounded Everett in our love. We farm together. We carry each other when our hearts are broken because we love big.

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Grilled Cheese sandwiches~Traditional and Super Grilled Cheese

We are continuing our celebration June is Dairy Month with grilled cheese sandwiches.  Grilled cheese sandwiches are a perfect started food for kids to get cooking.  They are quick, easy and super delicious!  There is nothing better than warm melted cheese and bread. I am getting hunger just thinking about it!

For traditional grilled cheese we used American cheese.  For inside out or suped grilled cheese we used shredded mozzarella, shredded cheddar and Parmesan.  What I like to do is shred my own cheese.  I buy a pound block of our favorite cheese and shred it as we need it. I think it taste better and yes, I know that is in my head.  It makes me feel fancy when I shred my own cheese. Plus it is cheaper!

We may or may not have used an entire stick of butter for about 3 sandwiches.  Butter makes everything better, right?

How do you like your grilled cheese sandwich?

 

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Raise a Glass and Celebrate World Milk Day

June 1st is World Milk Day and we are celebrating our favorite food! We love milk! Every time we make a video something seems to happen.  Life happens and there is no use crying over spilled milk. Did I mention we love milk?

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Jokes that are so bad they are good

Jokes that are so bad they are funny are my kind of jokes.

#makemesmiletuesday

 

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Teachers are amazing

As May is closing in on us, graduation season has begun. I can’t help but think of my own graduation 18 years ago the excitement of something new but yet fear of the unknown. The fear of not seeing the same faces I had seen almost every day for the previous 13 years since kindergarten. I went to the same exact school from kindergarten to graduating. (No we were not a one room school house, a student from Minneapolis once asked me this when I was in high school) When I think of high school graduation, I think of my teachers.

Each and everyone of my teachers made a difference, even if I didn’t know at the time. I remember in civics taking a test to determine what career would be best for you. My best friend and I laughed as I didn’t get one of the “cool” jobs. The career that would best suit me was rancher/farmer. (I have not missed the irony) My English teachers encouraging us to be creative in our writing. (Yeah when was I ever going to need that skill) My 5th grade teacher who was well aware of the bet my dad and I had to not get the box “talks to much” on my report card for one quarter. I won the bet but it was the only quarter that box was not marked. Each and everyone of my teachers gave me encouragement. I remember as a 7th grader asking the high school play director in the hallways of school if I could be in the fall play. At the time 7th graders could not be in the high school plays. I received best performer that year.

Each and everyone of my teachers made a difference. Now that I am on the other side, with an almost 3rd grader, I cannot help but think what difference Everett’s teachers are making in his life. Each one of his teachers are special to him. They are special to me. They love, encourage, discipline and are cheerleaders to all of their students.

My mom showed me how valuable teachers are especially when graduation came. As graduation announcements were being sent out, my mom was also sending out Thank You cards to each and every one of my teachers from kindergarten to graduation. I am thankful for each and everyone of my teachers. They gave me skills I didn’t know I would need later in life. img_44411.jpg

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Celebrating Breakfast at School

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I took for granted the fact Everett’s school offers free breakfast to all of their students in the classroom. There are many schools where breakfast is not offered. Mornings are tough and there are some mornings waking up is just plain hard. It takes time to wake up before you want to eat. I know I don’t like to eat right away. For some students their day starts really, really early. I have talked with teachers and the impact breakfast makes on students is huge. A teacher told me, “Breakfast at school is huge! I have kids that would not get a breakfast if they didn’t get to eat breakfast at school. I love the fact that the breakfast is free for them too, because if it wasn’t, they would not be able to afford two meals a day at school.”

A couple of weeks ago Everett and I were invited to General Mills headquarters to celebrate breakfast at schools. Everett and I shared our dairy story with General Mills employees. I was able to share why breakfast is so important at school not just as a dairy farmer but more importantly as a mom.

General Mills employees, Everett and I filled back-packs of granola bars and breakfast foods to be donated to students at a metro-area school where breakfast is not offered. This was a huge teaching moment as a mom to my young son. When we think of hungry kids we think they live far away but to talk to Everett about how lucky he and his classmates are to get breakfast in the classroom and that not every student in the state receives breakfast. A special thank you to Jordan who gave Everett and I our very own special tour of the company store. We had lots of questions about all the great foods from General Mills. Thank you Jordan! IMG_3562

 

The next day Everett was able to share his experience at General Mills headquarters with his classmates. He had fun things to show and tell.

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3 year Blogiversary

May 1 marked Raising a Farmer’s 3 year blogiversary. My very first blog post was about why I wanted to start blogging and the push I needed to start. It was titled, Dairy Farm MOM. I had debated about blogging for a long time before I even started writing. I was scared to start. I was scared of needing to protect my farm, my family and more importantly, I needed to protect Everett. I felt if I was going to write I needed to be honest about what I wrote. I needed to be truthful. I needed to share the reality of a dairy farming family. The struggles having children in tow. The struggles being late for everything. For me sharing our family and farm story is one in the same, what affects our family affects the farm and what affects the farm affects our family. I cannot write about one and not the other. For us they are one in the same.

I needed to be open and open to opinions that might not agree with my own. It is easy to hide behind a keyboard and say not very nice things. I knew if I was going to share our farm story Everett was going to be the center and I needed to protect him in every way and yet be honest. I knew it needed to sound like me. Just as if you were sitting at my kitchen counter. At the time I didn’t even know I was expecting a new baby. (I just put that together now with the dates.) At the time, I was coming to the realization and accepting the fact Everett would be an only child. Nathan and I had our second miscarriage a month before.

The thing is, is when I write I can pick and choose topics. There are stories I keep to ourselves and there are stories I share. If I feel I can’t be completely honest about it or I am not confident enough to answer the tough questions, I don’t write about it. When I write and share pictures about my children I ask myself, “What does an outsider (outside of farming see)” I do this because farming is complicated. Farming is dangerous. The top on the list of what farming is, is love. I do this to protect my family but also to protect the integrity of dairy farming. Love for our family, our farm, our cows, our land.

When I first started, I was trying to figure out what I wanted my blog to be. A friend of mine messaged me. The post she responded to was about how Everett’s cow 304 was having a baby and Everett was there to help 304 along the way. (You can read 304 is in labor)  My friend messaged me on how she loved it and had read it to her daughter as a bedtime story. I didn’t need anymore thought about my blog’s direction, I knew. It’s about something everyone (adults and kids) can relate to, not just dairy farmers: life. Our life just happens to be on a dairy farm. Some of my most cherished responses I get is to how Raising a Farmer brings back so many memories for people. Good memories. Good memories my own children will have growing up on a dairy farm. Growing up in the barn.

Thank you for following along as I, Raise a Farmer.  IMG_6990bn2

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Everett’s 1st Communion

Sunday Everett celebrated his First Holy Communion. All week I was thinking and praying about it. I would pray for Everett and I would pray I would be able to get my house in a little bit of order without feeling like I was losing my mind or going crazy by Sunday. First, we had to get his banner completed. A project that had been sitting on my china hutch for about 2 months waiting to be started. We started on Tuesday. Everett had picked out the menu. He was looking forward to making his special salad – Iceberg lettuce with mushrooms, cheese, cucumbers, eggs (without the yolks), sunflower seeds, croutons and peas in the pods.

All week I thought about my own First Communion. I wore a white dress my mom had made for the special day. All week Everett had talked about how nervous he was. Having nerves are a good thing, I told him, and being nervous means something is important.IMG_3895[1]

I thought back to when Nathan and I brought Everett, our new baby, to our parish church to be baptized. Family and friends gathered to celebrate our new baby and now we are coming together to celebrate him as a confident 7 year old. I thought back to how we chose his godparents. His godparents are important people – they are a shining light on Everett. They are a constant in his world.IMG_3739

I thought about how we decided for Everett to be baptized and now, he whole heartedly was ready to receive communion. I thought about how I held my baby dressed in white and now he sat next to me, dressed in his black suit whispering to me how nervous he was. A baby I once held now stood in front of the congregation holding his First Communion candle, waving at his cousins, repeatedly. A little boy filled with so much joy stood before me.IMG_3766

During milking the night before, as I was running through the lists of what I needed to do yet, I thought about communion and what it means to me now. I thought about the time in my life where I still attended Mass but I chose not to receive communion. I thought about why I didn’t. At that time, I was mad at God. It was after my mom had passed and I was mad. I felt I shouldn’t receive if I had doubted my faith and was so mad at God. When I look back, that was a time when I needed Jesus the most. My soul needed to be fed. I thought about the first time I received communion after not for so long, and what it meant to my family for my soul to be fed again.

Everett’s First Communion brought me many emotions, but the one that was front and center was, love. Love from family and friends and love from Jesus.

 

Everett was able to receive the blood of Christ from his Great-Grandfather Roman’s 4th Degree Knight’s of Columbus Chalice.  

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I don’t want to Ever forget

I don’t want to ever forget.
I don’t want to ever forget each and every tear.
I don’t want to forget the tears of frustration from Nathan and I. The tears of over tired little people in the barn. Each tear from in the barn matters.
 
I don’t ever want to forget.
 
I don’t want to ever forget this stage of being a dairymom. This stage of constantly having one eye on a cow and one on your toddler. To soon this stage will be gone. To soon this stage will slowly but to quickly turn into an independent child riding her bike through the barn just like her brother.
 
I don’t want to ever forget this stage as Everett runs into the barn to tell me his bike is stuck in the mud.
 
I don’t ever want to forget.
 
I don’t want to ever forget this part of farming. Children running through the barn and underfoot. I don’t want to ever forget. I will pause, soak it all in because I know it is going to go too fast.
 
I never want to forget.
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Coloring Easter Eggs 2017

Coloring Easter Eggs. We color Easter eggs old school. Crayons and rubber bands, but I couldn’t find any rubber bands so just crayons. Everett’s friend stopped by and joined us. No dye was knocked over so I call that a big win! (There was a year that happened) We just color Easter eggs, there are some “hacks” out there but I think it just complicates it. Wrapping eggs in silk who has time for that? Yeah maybe if we were in the world series of egg coloring! No not here, we eat as we color and almost 2 dozen have been eating within hours of coloring. Have you seen the knew fade, Cracking the egg before you color it? Really? We have been trying so hard not to crack them and get dye on the egg! Hands can be washed so just get coloring! Happy Easter!!

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