Quick Reads

If plan ‘A’ doesn’t work

To celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary we left the farm – woohoo! The husband and I spent some time making plans over the last 24 hours, no children and cattle gave us time to focus. We spent a good deal of that time talking about the LAST 10 years, the NEXT 10 weeks, and where we want to be 10 years from now.

The thing is — neither of us ever expected to be having this conversation when we started our married life, a life that we knew was going to revolve around dairy. We decided together that we are ready to make some plans based on our happiness; we ended up agreeing on plan A and a plan B, and plan C, and D….

The world will not stop spinning if plan A is a huge letdown. Details of said plan have been mentioned here and here. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll probably cry in bed for a few days at the disappointment BUT the next day we start on option B and so forth. Whatever your plans are in YOUR life, adjust your vision just a bit to see your other options.

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You can be amazing at SO very many things, so why limit yourself?

Quick Reads

Girl’s didn’t shovel

I wanted to help my grandpa shovel dirt, I was around 8 years old and he wouldn’t let me. He said girls didn’t shovel. I remember accepting that and storing it away as jobs meant for men.

When I was 18 I worked for my uncle who owned a convenience store, it was snowing and he told me to shovel the sidewalk. I didn’t know exactly how and I didn’t think it was my responsibility. I felt very small asking him to show me how to do it, but he did and he didn’t tease me about it.

My children sometimes feel right under our feet and there are plenty of days I want more alone time. However, I will not let myself tell them that boys don’t do laundry and girls don’t hammer nails because they DO. I won’t discourage them from helping because it’s a job I didn’t want to do and their help stretches time, because for them it’s time together.

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These are moments I remind myself to not get caught up in the to-do’s. These are the reminders I need.

I don’t think my grandpa was wrong, I think he was trying to be chivalrous. Girls are meant to be treated like princesses. Except even queens have to know how to take care of themselves, and the farm.

Xo, Nicole

Quick Reads

Too much truth on a Tuesday

For me, owning a dairy farm kind of sucks right now. It is pulling all the strength I have. It has emptied my soul and left me bitter. I’m down right angry and if you try telling me how lucky I am based on the photos I post – I’ll tell you to kiss my ass.

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What you see is bare feet on five gallon buckets, not the fact that we’ve had to cut back on hired labor and babysitters because we are monitoring our expenses. You don’t see me reasoning with a bored 3yo who just took his bicycle seat off and replaced it with his sisters pink one and She. Is. Pissed., all during the last 30 minutes of milking and I’m losing my cool and everyone is crabby.

What you see is a post telling you to look at how far you’ve come, not the fact that a loan officer has made the last 6 months of my life a living hell because I’m trying to find ways to provide for my family and keep my animals and nobody knows the future of dairy. No lender wants to look at plans when the present is getting worse.

What you see is a photo of my husband in his volunteer fire gear, not the fact that he may want to find a job off the farm because this isn’t fun anymore – and I can’t blame him either. He’s taking night classes which is stressful for him, not a ton of fun for me, and the kids feel that.

This blog is about me, raising a family on a modern-day dairy farm. It is my collection of photos and thoughts. Today I realized that we take from others what we need, to fill the void in our own lives, and I’m not about to give anyone the impression that my farm family has their shit together, cause we don’t.

Things could be A LOT worse, but like I told the farmer who sold his farm a few months ago – we take it month by month. June was positive. July will, most likely, not be. I worry about this industry Every. Day. I worry about my neighbors and friends. I worry about my family; the kids and animals. I spend a lot of time thinking about things I have absolutely no control over, and if you know that feeling, you know it sucks.

So look at this photo of little girl hands, excited to milk a cow by hand, and know that a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

Quick Reads

Do we talk about it

I’m at my nephews birthday party, feeling all kinds of uncomfortable, because it’s people around me and not cattle. The kids are running rampant, hyped up on blue frosting, playing with Lego pieces which I’m certain will end up in my sister’s feet at some point in the night. I smile at that thought – because it isn’t me, or my feet. And then I hear someone talking, to me…

“How’s farming going?”

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It’s a generic question right, I’m mean I’m sure he isn’t anticipating my loaded response. But what should I say. Words like hard, difficult, exhausting don’t cut it anymore. He’s a consumer, right, so he might not understand when my sarcasm comes through and I explain, well, uhh, you see, we’re on the fucking titanic and I’m not in a life boat. Why isn’t my husband here, he’s better at these questions, he’s not so e-motion-al. Emotions, hormones, all these freaking feelings that life shouldn’t be this hard. I mean I can’t afford to be in business, can’t afford to sell my business, can’t understand why for all these freaking years I’ve put time and energy into

Me: “Oh, it’s hard and a little difficult. But wow, your kids – right!? They are so big…”

It’s a generic question, better off talking about something else.

But why? Why do I feel that I shouldn’t burden the weight of my problems on people? And I’m not talking about my personal problems. The biggest issue with the current dairy industry, is that at this point if a farm goes out – it’s not because they are a BAD farmer. If any one of my neighbors calls it “enough” it’s because they were given no other option, and that, is probably the conversation we should have had. I’m not looking for pity.  I’m not expecting my customers to purchase dairy beyond their means.  Maybe, what I’m asking is that the public see some people haven’t had their wages cut, and some companies are still accepting new farms, and yet… here we float, paying for our excess milk production, going broke, and losing our ambition.

So, don’t talk about something else. Talk about our industry, whenever you get the chance. Something has got to change, or there won’t be any of us left.

Xo, Nicole

Quick Reads

I’m no longer sad, I’m exhausted

Dairy farmers, how are you doing?
Like, really, how are you.

I’m part of this really amazing tribe of dairy mom’s, and this question was asked. It’s really hard to find the joy in every day farming right now and I don’t feel I’m very helpful to other farmers. But it’s more than just that — I am angry.

20180904_095220_0001I’m part of this really amazing tribe of dairy mom’s, and this question was asked. It’s really hard to find the joy in every day farming right now and I don’t feel I’m very helpful to other farmers. But it’s more than just that — I am angry

I’m no longer sad, I’m exhausted.
I’m no longer fighting, I’m surviving.
I’m no longer hopeful, I’m waiting.

I’m angry and I’m pissed off. I’m determined. I am putting my boots down firm, I’m refusing to crumble. I’m not really sad, I just feel really empty. I have cattle and kids that depend on me. I have serious obligations. This isn’t like the day I walked away from my job 4 years ago. This is our life. I read a comment on my last post that said “suck it up or get out”. In case you missed that one, I said farming isn’t a lot of fun right now. Seriously, suck it up – or get out. Like, serious-l-y? As I explained to that ‘super helpful’ comment, farmers have been sucking it up since 2016 — like, literally, we’ve done sucked it up so much that some of us can’t afford to get out. It’s fine. I’m fine. We’re all fine. Every person goes though seasons of struggle. The frustrating part is, farmers are proud y’all. And they won’t ask for help, let alone easily accept it. So, how am I really doing?

I’m sitting in the yard, bawling ugly tears, throwing myself one hell of a pity party and this little ball of love got me to smile. Damn him. My advice: surround yourself with an amazing tribe AND a few people who will make you smile. And pray.

Xo, Nicole

Quick Reads

Five words that get me through

I’m a fan of using F-words in life. There are 5 that get me through, sometimes all in one day. Words. Feelings. People. We use these as our support – our way of coping with the things beyond our control.

20180903_215853_0001Fuck it. Really, let’s not kid ourselves, you knew that would be first. If you doubted that would come first, then I will apologize for possibly offending you. There are situations we cannot handle, emotions we cannot deal with; say fuck it and let go.

Family. The reason we sometimes find ourselves struggling, feeling like we’ve failed, realizing all we’ve accomplished and the answeres to our “why’s”.

Friends. The like minded people we CHOOSE in life, the tribe we come to lean on and gain strength from. The ones who understand what you are going through.

Food. Maybe you are an emotional eater {like me} or maybe you find the happiest moments and best conversations include family and friends around the table or in the kitchen. BTW, alcohol IS food and will always be included here.

Faith. We have to believe in something greater than ourselves, wherever you find it or whoever you believe in, we need to have faith that things will be what they are meant to be.

When your day starts with the first F-word, let it include a few others and end with the last. There is so much to be thankful for, don’t allow yourself to get so wrapped up in the disappointment and frustration – reach out for the other words, the other feelings, the people who you can count on.

Xo, Nicole

Quick Reads

Mornings in the parlor

On mornings I milk with my farmer I get coffee. He makes better coffee than I do. On mornings we milk together a little one usually joins us in the parlor; they sit, they watch, they help, and they listen.

This morning it’s my middle one. Little features appear in the door way, a small smile spread across her face because she found her way to us…slightly underdressed but in boots. She borrows my hooded zip-up, and takes a seat on a bucket.

20180903_213843_0001Plans. Goals. To-do’s. Shoulda done differently. Some mornings there is silence. She sees damn near everything this farm makes you feel. There is excitement and joy, stress and worry. There is accomplishments and failures. This is where we talk it out. This is where we hold our business meetings.

She watched us dip a set of 8, swing milker’s to the other side and bring in 8 more. We talk about a few from each side:

she’s down on milk, -watch her tonight
she has a pinched nerve, -she’s my girl! get up there and rub it out
she needs to be dried off this week, -we can rotate the bull too
should we sell her next week, -i don’t know

She knows every cow has a story and we discuss every one. She knows what we do because she sees the whole process. She asks questions because how else will she learn.

So when my farmer asks me why I put this out there, why I put our farm out there, all I can say is – how else will people know?

Xo, Nicole