Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

This is me, I couldn’t do it alone

on June 12, 2018

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.


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

11 responses to “This is me, I couldn’t do it alone

  1. I have been so dam sad about so many things that it is very hard to function some days. My survival has turned to first thing first many times just to get through the day. Doing what I absolutely have to do to help keep our farm and dairy plant running. It’s not easy when the first thing that comes to mind when you wake is “Please God, help me get through the day” I have not picked up my mail at the mailbox for weeks at a time dreading the bills that were piling up during our most stressful times. I asked the mail person one time if they could tell someone’s mental state by how much mail piles up in their box. They said no. We were getting so many registered letters at one point that I felt like throwing up when I heard a car coming up the driveway. I asked for a gate at the end of our driveway just for some peace. Alls I wanted and have ever wanted was to become a successful dairy farmer. Not a big farmer but a small farmer like my grandpas both had. I love dairy cows. With all this talk about suicide lately it has stirred up a lot of anxiety. When you feel like you have failed others that just adds to the sadness for me. I don’t reach out because the last thing I want to hear at this time is to let your farm go. In the back of my head I hear a voice saying most people quit right before they would have succeeded. Quitters never win. I REALY wanted to be a good example but pioneering by becoming a value added producer at our size is a great financial and physical challenge. To do this I have 2 full time jobs the dairy farm and the dairy plant and my husband has to work off the farm full time. Someone had told me to write down your story and why you need financial help on your farm when we were doing crowd funding last year. When they read why, I was told it sounds like you are winning. That might be why most people don’t share. They don’t want to be told you sound like you are winning. Peace!

  2. Sorry that should be whining not winning. Peace!

  3. Beth Schwab says:

    I’m so proud of you. What a great blog. Hugs

  4. Byron says:

    Thanks for sharing. You are a strong and talented woman. You will make it through this.

  5. Jayson Hochsprung says:

    May God bless you and your family, I was 5 years old in 1984 when the bank called the note on my Grandfather and Dad. We were milking 70 cows in a 23 stall barn. It’s amazing how much stress, and how much a little boy understands at 5 years old. And how much you dont….My mother’s father was a dairy equipment salesman, and during that time he donated alot of his time to groundswell which was a group dedicated to helping farmer in the US that were struggling either as someone to talk to or just help fix a milk cooler at no cost to them. My great uncle was also a manager of an ag Cooperative locally here at that time and retiring when he was asked by another co-op in southern Minnesota to come in as manager because the Co-op itself was so far in the hole. He ended up staying on with them until the early 90s when they merged with another and finally retired. My mother’s two other sisters also married dairy farmers and none of them have Dairy cattle anymore either due to upgrade costs or taking the buyout in the 90s. We all have jobs outside of farming or are no longer farming at all. I myself managed to save 40 acres of our 150 year 240 acre homestead. I’m paying a helpful sister out who helped me make this happen when my father passed away in 2008 at 54 years old and my Aunts and uncles did not want to keep the Farm when my grandmother passed in 2016. I’m thankful that I have that to pass to my children. God has a plan and it will work out, even if it’s not what we have been planning. The emotion is so strong still for me, and every farmer who is currently or not currently farming. At least you have the head to vent about it so many people isolated themselves back then. I guess it kind of feels good to vent for me about it too. God bless you and your family through this.

  6. Rita M Mosset says:

    You took the 1st step into the healing method…talking and telling people about your problem…You are a strong and beautiful woman and yes, it’s difficult on the dairy farms right now, but always remember that life without you would be much harder!!! You are a very important person to your family and never forget that. TAke a deep breath and say you can do this!! God Bless You and **Hugs*** !!

  7. Dam Stoff says:

    I’d love to talk to you 24/7/365. Been there, lost it all but finding ways to get it back. Zero judgment and getting help as well. Love to share.
    Love, respect, admiration, and love.
    Peace sister. ❤️
    802 585 4620

  8. katpinke says:

    You put this out there and are breaking the silence so many have. Thank you is not enough. I am crying. Grateful forever for you, Brenda.

  9. Deb Skibbe says:

    I really don’t know what to say. But as a wife/mom/office, food safety manager/vegetable grower. I get it. I have been there, and can see it coming again. Only to be told I am just being negative.
    All I can say is I pray daily for the American Farmer especially for our dairy industry and buy a gallon of milk every week even though we don’t drink it.

  10. What courage you had to put your story ‘out there’. I am an 83 year old lemon farmer in CA and while I read about the hardships of the dairy farmer – my heart aches but I really can’t even begin to know what you are going through. I believe talking about it is the 1st step, seeking outside help is next, so you are on the right path. May God hold you and your family close in his arms .
    God bless, Elaine Cavaletto

  11. South Dakota says:

    Ugh! I’m living it with you. Not as a dairy farmer but a crop and beef producer. I live the mailbox nightmare with you, the bank phone calls, the wedding ring and grocery….all of it. Just when you think there cannot possibly be anymore tears the next morning comes and a new supply of tears and sadness too. I’m definitely not to the other side of it! But I have started to have half to one good day a week. I couldn’t get to therapy, although should’ve, we have three little ones and no help. Instead I just kept digging into God and His words. I listen to and read anything I can get my hands on about God and His love for me. He suffered to show us how to suffer. When I get so sad I think about Him and talk to Him. I talk to Mary about being a mom and a wife and how terrible I feel about it. I remember we are all going to die and just because we kept the farm or didn’t or died with debt or not doesn’t get us through the pearly gates any faster than those not in agriculture. I’m not an evangelist, I’m definitely not a Saint. I’m just trying to live to the other side it too. Thank you for being so bold to share and share honestly! I am praying for you and your family please do the same for me.

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