Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

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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This Mark Matters

Nathan and I were making plans to attend our co-op’s annual meeting in mid-March. Days before, actually the day before, we still weren’t sure if I was going to be able to go.  Finalizing milking for when we were gone was not going in our favor. I was beginning to get frustrated and well, sad, that I probably wasn’t going to be able to go.  Someone needed to stay home and milk cows and it needed to be me.  Nate serves as a delegate for our co-op and together we serve on our Young Cooperators Steering Committee.  Delegate trumps YC.  During milking one night it all came crashing in as I vented to Nate my frustrations. “What is the point? All I want to do is see Shelly and Jamie! What is the universe trying to tell me? What does it even matter for me to go? What is the point? Like I have anything of value to say or do?”

The universe came through and we were able to have milkings covered for when we would be gone. Nathan and I both were able to go to our annual meeting. As we walked in to register, I don’t think the universe could have slapped me across the face any harder. The theme for the meeting was, “This Mark Matters.”IMG_2541

To me, this was much more than a theme for the meeting. The emotions, frustrations and triumphs I have been feeling the last couple months all came crashing in with a simple, “This Mark Matters.” Our mark matters in our communities. Maybe we volunteer in our community or are part of community organizations or simply showing up to support community events. This mark matters. Our mark matters to our neighbors offering kind words and a smile to a stranger. Our mark matters in our families whether we are raising our children or offering encouraging words to the mom at the store with the screaming kid. This mark matters. Our mark matters in the things that make us happy and in the things that challenge us. There are times when I feel my mark does not matter and the world is closing in around us. There are times I feel my voice has no value – it doesn’t matter. But it does.  It matters to my husband and my children. It matters to Everett when I cheer him on when he does well on a spelling test. It matters to Nate to remind him that I love him. This mark does matter. Our mark does matter.

 

 

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Meeting Secretary Vilsack

When Bridget and I were wrapping up talking about Dairy Princess stuff I shared my experience meeting former US Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack at our co-op’s annual meeting. Secretary Vilsack is the new CEO of United States Dairy Export Council.  When I spoke with Sec. Vilsack about our farm, my kids, milking with my husband and food, my emotions came out.

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What does being a Dairy Princess Mean?

My cousin, Bridget Klein stopped by and we talked how being a dairy princess made who we are today.  Bridget was a 2000 Princess Kay of the Milky Way and I, a 2000 Todd County Dairy Princess. For us, it wasn’t the crown that made the biggest impact on us, it was the people. The people who helped guide us, cheered us on and our families.  Bridget grew up on a dairy farm and I worked on my uncle and aunt’s farm.  My uncle fostered my love for dairy.  I had no idea where that was going to take me into my future being a dairy farmer and raising my children on a dairy farm.  Oh and you hear about my technical difficulties from a couple weeks ago.

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Women in Ag and a Day with Vivian

One day this past week, Vivian and I had a girl day.  I started the day out like every day with morning milking.  I rushed into the house to get ready. I was somewhat looking and feeling like a lady.  Vivian and I made the half hour trek to a Women in Ag Seminar, of course we were late but the morning snacks were still out so I called that a big win.  As I sat – and then stood to wrangle my 2 year-old – I couldn’t help but look around the room.  It was a room filled with women in agriculture.  Some were retired, some were traditional farm wives, some were working in the ag industry as nutritionists, loan officers or extension educators and some were the emotional support to their husbands – especially now when times are hard.  Some were working off the farm and were looking to get a better idea of their role in agriculture.  Some were working alongside their husband everyday raising their families knee-deep in agriculture.  As I looked around the room and saw all the wonderful women in agriculture, I refocused on the women who I look to as mentors.  I look to women who inspire me to be a better dairy mom, wife and farmer.  I look to the women who work along side their husband everyday.  I look to the women who struggle with crying babies and mooing cows ready to be milked.  I look to the women who have hands that are swollen from morning milking but walk into a room every bit a lady.  As we walked into the room scanning for a table, I saw her – the woman who I look up to, who inspires me. IMG_2485[1]

As Vivian took over the back table and decided she no longer needed her boots and dress on, I realized what onesie she had on, “Future Dairy Farmer”.  Vivian may choose another path in her life but I do know inspirational women in the dairy industry surround her.

 

After the seminar, I needed to make a few quick stops.  Vivian decided she no longer needed her clothes on at the Dress Barn.  Vivian was “helpful” to the lady in the next changing room as she picked out a dress.  Thankfully the store clerk at the Dress Barn was patient and kind.  Vivian loved and then screamed when I said we were ready to leave Payless.  She wouldn’t stay in the cart at Target and I have a new appreciation to stores with doors to the floor in their dressing rooms.  We started the day fresh and ready to take on the world but at the end of the day – Vivian needed a milk and I needed a latte.

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We needed a pick me up.  Milk and a latte with whole milk is all we needed.  

 

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Talking During Milking

I knew Nate and I did most of our talking during morning and evening milking but I didn’t realize how much we actually talked during milking. For the past six weeks Nate has been healing after having surgery done on his shoulder. A procedure that was put off and put off and finally needed to be done because on a dairy farm there is never a good time. As Nate has been healing and trying not to go stir crazy I have been doing the milking. The past couple of days Nate has been outside more and is in the barn during milking and beginning to milk again. He gets tired quickly and is cautious how he uses his arm. I am happy for him to be out in the barn more, not to take some of the workload off, but to just have him in the barn.

During milking Nate and I would plan out our day, our week and our month. During milking is where we set goals for ourselves. During milking is when we talk about cows. During milking is when we talk about Everett and Vivian. During milking is when we talk about the things that are bothering us and the things that are making us happy. During milking is where we feel like we are solving world problems, whether small or big. During milking is when we would usually resolve a disagreement we were having. Not having this time with each other has been eye opening for me. I knew we talked during milking but I really didn’t realize the extent of what and how much we talked about during milking. I am happy to see Nate’s face in the barn when I look up from a milking unit.

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Baking Krazy Cake

Baking up some Krazy Cake today. It is a miracle that we make it out of the kitchen alive!
My blender did in fact stop working and we enjoyed the silence. Either you want to come bake with us or never want to eat at my house again! I sure hope it is the first one. This is real life cooking, no matter how prepared I think I am I have a sweet beautiful 2 year old who is very independent and strong willed, I remind myself the words of a Pastor this summer, “She’ll get stuff done.” It is Krazy at my house but we have fun, we laugh, we smile and sometimes we cry and we enjoy the mess. (well most of the time)

You can find the recipe here, Krazy Cake Recipe.

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