Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

Canning pickles at 1 a.m. when there aren’t enough hours in the day

on December 23, 2018

This column was originally published in Agweek on July 20, 2018

When Nathan and I purchased the farm from his parents in 2011, I worked off the farm full-time. Our goal was always for me to be on the farm full-time, and in 2014, we were able to do that.


When I worked off the farm, I felt frazzled all the time. Everett went to daycare. Nate was working at home, and I was working in town. Chores before and after I went to my job had me pushing my patience and time. Rushing to get anywhere, well that hasn’t changed. Many nights, I would find myself at 1 a.m. doing something where the day wouldn’t give me enough hours. I thought when I would be home working on the farm full-time, it would give me more time, to do things like can pickles during the day, like a normal person. Or so I thought. One season, I was canning at 1 a.m., and my jars didn’t seal. I said to myself “This is dumb! Why am I doing this to myself? I am tired and for what? A jar of pickles?”


This past weekend I found myself in my kitchen at 1 a.m., again. When I looked at the time, I said out loud to no one in particular, “I told myself — never ever again!”

During the day Everett was working on his 4-H project, canning his own pickles. He needed to be done because he was leaving the next day for a week-long camp. Everett needed his own space in the kitchen. To add to my chaos there is a shortage of fresh dill in our area. Seriously? A fresh dill shortage? I stopped at our local grocery store and was told I was the third person looking for fresh dill and he had none. I did eventually find some, grown in Peru. I quickly thought to myself about food and food grown around the world, how if I was in a different time I wouldn’t be able to purchase dill from Peru.

I had about 14 jars needing a hot water bath before evening milking. I went out to the barn. The conversation during evening milking was filled with pickle talk. How many are done? How many are almost done? Do we have enough dill? Why doesn’t anyone have any fresh dill? It’s the great dill drought of 2018.

After milking and chores, filling jars and making a brine, I found myself staring at my canner waiting for the water to boil and looking at the clock to see it was pushing 1 a.m. and grumbling to myself, “I told myself, never ever again and here I am!”

I know in two weeks I will be smiling to myself thinking how delicious these pickles are and how much they remind me of home, how my childhood neighbor kids would eat a jar at a time of my mom’s pickles, how Everett asked if we had any “secret family recipes” he could use for a project, and how many times my husband has been patient and helping me stuff jars way after dark.

When I break the seal on the pickle jar, I will forget how frustrated I was and how I told myself, “Never, ever again.” I know for a fact I will again be pushing 1 a.m. trying to finish something up because whether I am working full-time off the farm or full-time dairy farming, the day never gives me enough hours.

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