Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

They are driving me Crazy

As I am writing this they are screaming in the other room. By “they” I mean my two children. My two children who I love dearly but today I think they are the spawn of Satan. I can’t count how many times I have told them “Stop it!” “Seriously?” “You know better!” “Why would you possible think that was a good idea?” “Knock it off!” “Stop it!” My words mean nothing because they are still yelling in the other room. I have checked out. It has become a free for all.

We were in the field earlier waiting for a wagon of rye to be filled to bring home. I couldn’t take them anymore in the truck so I unhitched the wagon and brought them home. We went into the house and for about 5 minutes it was silence. Silence I knew was only going to last for a short time.

Motherhood is a wonderful thing. It truly is but there are times well, I question why I thought this would be a good idea? I love my children and I love being a mom but some days. Oh, but some days.

Social media tells us we need to have perfectly packed lunches with sandwiches in the shape of smiling faces. Or, we need to be happy and perfect every day and every night. Really? My daughter ate peanut butter on toast for lunch and it wasn’t made from unicorn tears. She is full and happy.

As soon as I say, “Oh man, if I could just line them up and give one good smack,” you get the gasp of “You can’t say that!”

Well, I just did. That is how I felt today. It’s OK to feel that. It really is. It’s OK some days not to like our children. It really is. I love them unconditionally. That doesn’t mean that they don’t annoy the crap out of me sometimes.

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Who needs a four wheeler when you have a lawn mower

All summer Everett gets around by the lawn mower.

It was no surprise when Everett got it stuck in the mud.

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Banana Bread~Everett is at Camp

Everett is at camp.

Vivian is so sad.

I have some bananas screaming at me to do something with me.

So, we bake banana bread. The browner, squishier bananas the better. My go to recipe for banana bread is out of my childhood church cookbook. It is my go to cookbook for about anything. Karin Wessel shared the best banana bread recipe you will ever have! This is the only recipe I will use when it comes to banana bread. (How many times have I said banana?)

Banana Bread

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sugar

3 smashed bananas

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped walnutsaq

Cream shortening, eggs, and sugar.

Then add bananas; then add flour, soda and salt; finally add nuts.

(depending on my mood or if I have any I will add chocolate chips)

I use to small loaf pans but you can use one  5 1/2×9 inch pan.

Grease and flour pans.

Bake large pan for 1 hour 25 mins at 350.

2 small pans bake 50-60 mins at 350 degrees.

 

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Tough conversations happen at Farm Kitchen Tables

Below is my maiden weekly column with Agweek.

This column was orgianlly published on June 22, 2018 

Across the United States, dairy farm families are having difficult conversations. These conversations are not in big board rooms. At these meetings there are no suit and ties. There may even be children playing underneath the table. They are not in skyscrapers but in homes.

 

The majority of these tough conversations are had at kitchen tables. Kitchen tables where families gather to celebrate holidays. Where families gather to give thanks for meals. Where families gather to blow out birthday candles. At these same kitchen tables where life happens, hard difficult conversations are being had with one similar question, “What do we do?”

 

This may seem like a simple question but for farm families, right now it is a difficult question. Going into the fourth year, low milk prices have taken their toll on farm families across the country. Depending on each family, the question of “what do we do?” can vary but is fueled by needing more income on the farm.

“Do we add cows to an already flooded market? Then what? Does one of us get an off-farm job? What about the kids? After paying daycare is it worth the little extra? If one works off-farm, how is the work going to be divided then? Is it really going to make a difference financially? Do we milk fewer cows and save on hired help? Do we….. Do we….. what do we do? Is it time to sell the cows? What then? How does that look? Where can we cut costs? There is nowhere else to cut. What do we do?” So many questions are being asked at kitchen tables.

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the state of Minnesota alone has lost 76 family dairy farms since Jan. 1, 2018. Morrison County, where I call home, lost 13 farms from August 2017 to the first of the year. So far our county has lost another 10 family dairy farms from the beginning of the year to now. That is a total of 23 family dairy farms in a short 10 months, in just my county alone! That is 23 families making hard decisions at their kitchen tables.

Every week auction bills come in the mail from across the state. When they come, my heart breaks. My heart breaks, because I hear the conversations between the print. I hear the questions so many dairy farmers are asking, “Are we making the right choice?” For young farmers, I hear, “This is everything. This is how we decided to raise our family. This is where we decided to live. This is where we have cried, laughed, bled and given all of our faith to. This is everything. This is where we have opened our hearts to. This is where we put everything on the line, and it still wasn’t enough.”

I hear the frustration. I hear the hurt. I hear the disappointment. I hear the pain. There are faces and hearts to those auction bills, and when they are gone, they are gone.  

farm meetings

Farm meetings at the kitchen table with Farm Business Management Instructor Nate Converse, Nathan and Vivian. 

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Turkey Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

The kids and I melted two of our favorite things together! It was so cheesy good!

Turkey and Cheese, making one awesome grilled cheese turkey sandwich!

We talked about me working at Jennie-O and how many farmers it took to make one delicious sandwich! Oh, and we made up a new word for parts of an iceberg lettuce! If you know what the real name it please tell me!

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This is me, I couldn’t do it alone

This past winter was hard. Not just the normal winter blues but also something I just couldn’t overcome. Not just a dark cloud waiting for the rainbow but a dark shadow engulfing me. I began to notice how short I was getting with my kids. How short I would get with Nate. It wasn’t just here and there or I was just having a bad day but more and more frequent. I began to feel like I didn’t want to be a mom anymore, someone else could do a better job than me. I was losing interest in things that gave me joy and refueled my soul before. Where I would bust my butt to get my chores done so I would be able to get somewhere I began just not going. Where I used to cheerfully say yes, “I can make that work.” I began to say, “I’ll have to see how the week goes.” Saying this I knew it was a no and I was not going to make any effort.

The guilt and the pressures of the low milk prices finally began to take its toll. Feelings of being a complete failure filled more of my days than not. I can handle the stress of the workload but the financial stress was getting to be too much. Fielding phone calls of increasing a payment or getting any kind of payment and hand written notes on my front door threatening to publish my name and blog with open account in local newspaper just added to the feelings of, “I am worthless”, “You are a piece of crap”, “You are a complete failure.” Enjoying my children and then someone telling me in a mean manner, “Well it sure looks like you are having fun.” The comments just got to be too much. Feelings of guilt when I would simply go grocery shopping because spending $100 could go to an open account. I felt guilt to the point of not wanting to wear my wedding ring because of hearing in my head “If she can afford that then…” Guilt, shame, feelings of being a complete failure, worthless, no value as a person you name it I felt it.

February I had my physical exam. I hadn’t gone to the doctor since my 6-week postnatal appointment after having Vivian. It was time to go. I filled out the health questionnaire as I have done so many times before. This time was different though. I knew I needed help. When my doctor came into the room and looked at the sheet she simply said to me, “Well, tell me what’s going on?” I flipped out, “You don’t care. Know one cares. You don’t care that milk is $1.95 for a gallon of milk and families are selling their farms right and left. You don’t care that families are going bankrupt. All you care about is that you got a good deal on a gallon of milk! You do not care!” When I got home and Nate asked how my appointment went, I told him what I said. He responded, “You did not tell her that?” Yes I did. Later in the month when we were having a farm meeting at our kitchen table Nathan and I began arguing and someone there began to say, “You still have each other. I love you both. You still have each other.” I snapped back, “Really? Well xyx company doesn’t care we have each other. They want to get paid!”

In March I began seeing a therapist once a week. Now I see my therapist every two weeks. It helps. We decided to try therapy first to see if that helps and then move to medication if needed. Also, my Vitamin D was very low so I am taking a super dose of Vitamin D. There are times when we try to tell ourselves “I got this.” “It will get better.” “I’m just having a bad day.” “I’m not that bad.” But when someone looks at you and plainly says, “You are depressed.” It made me realize this was something I couldn’t do on my own. I needed help and I still need help.

Right now I am constantly seeing suicide prevention hotlines to call, which is good, but there is a big window that isn’t talked about. The window from when you know “I am not OK” to needing to use the hotline. It is assumed that needing to be in therapy means you are suicidal. I was not and I am not suicidal, I just hated my life.

No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to say, “Hey, I need to talk to someone.” “Yep I’m in therapy.” Why is that? Because if we say that we then put a big neon sticker on our foreheads that is assumed, “You can’t handle life.” We are in constant competition with each other that we are losing the real factor, we are losing the face to face. I ask you to listen and be honest with the ones around you. This spring I was talking to a farmer, we talked about everything. A couple weeks later he came up to me thanked me and said “Brenda after I talked to you, that night was the first night I slept in months.” Maybe that is all you need is someone to just listen. Be that person. Listen. Be honest. We are living in a world of not being able to be honest because we are then judged. We are living in a world where we are so connected but so disconnected.

Here I am. Going through the fire. Knowing I need help to be the best woman, mom and wife I can be. I am in therapy. This is me.

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I’m not sure why but I took this the day of my first session. March 2018

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Lasanga

Are you looking for a quick and easy meal? Are you looking for a quick freezer meal? This lasagna is exactly what you are looking for!

Ingredients: browned hamburger with onions and garlic, spaghetti sauce, water, lasagna noodles, cottage cheese, sharp cheddar and mozzarella. Sprinkles of Basil and oregano.

 

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Peach BBQ Chicken

Summer is officially here, which means BBQ season is officially here!

Here is a recipe Everett and I came up with over Memorial Weekend.  Enjoy!

Chicken can be kinda tricky making on the grill with all the fat dipping off and starting a fire. (Good thing I am married to a fire fighter)

First step is to brown your chicken on a stove top grill. Season with salt and pepper.  if You like legs use all legs if you like thighs use all thighs if you like well you get the picture. peachbbqchicken

As the chicken is doing its thing, I start chopping up 1 onion and 1 peach.  Let them get to know each other in a cast iron pan with some Olive oil.

 

The chicken is doing its’ thing, the peaches and onions are happy sweating out (What a work out) and getting tender with some salt and pepper. We begin building our BBQ sauce. IMG_5075

Raising a Farmer BBQ Sauce

2 Cups Ketchup

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 Teaspoon steak sauce

1 teaspoon garlic

small shake of salt

two shakes of pepper

1 teaspoon of paprika

3 tablespoons of BS (brown Sugar he he he)

1 Tortilla Chip crushed (Optional Everett’s secret ingredient)

1 tablespoon of water or red wine Vinegar (Depending on what you have in the house)

Whisk together

While you are building your sauce make sure you keep an eye on your chicken on the grill and onions/peaches in the cast iron pan, so they don’t burn and smoke your kitchen out. (It’s happened before)

Place 1/2 done chicken on onions and Peaches. Pour BBQ sauce over top, cover with tin foil and place in the oven at 325 degrees for about 30-40 mins or until chicken is at 140 degrees.  Look how cozy they are.

Serve with a baked potato topped with sour cream an a fresh salad on the side. Now if that doesn’t scream Summer on a Sunday I don’t know what does! IMG_5082

 

 

 

 

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Tea Time watching the Royal Wedding

Did you watch the Royal Wedding?

When Prince William wed Kate I woke up early and watched in the living room by myself. I have always been fascinated with the Royal Family. Even Princess Di had me captivated. Maybe it is because I love hats and Royals get to wear them all the time and don’t stick out like a sore thumb.  (It doesn’t stop me from wearing fancy hats.)

Saturday, when Prince Harry wed Meghan I set the DVR the night before, finished milking cows, dug out my own wedding dress, took out the fancy china, and celebrated the wedding of the year with my daughter dressed in her Elsa dress.

Congratulations Duke and Duchesses of Sussex!!

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The end of school Year, Thank goodness!

The School year is almost over. I am thankful in more than one way. I am counting down the days.

There is something happening the last couple weeks that is driving me crazy!

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