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

Farm Girl

Mental Health: my story

How would you feel if every day you went to work you were losing instead of gaining?

How would it feel to know that if you walked away from your career you might have absolutely nothing to show for years of dedication?

For many american farmers these are questions they have been dealing with and processing, month after month after month.  It is heart breaking that the very people who provide food for us are filing for assistance, because they cannot afford their own groceries. It has been years of low income for agriculture; watching friends and acquaintances hang up their bib-overalls, so to speak, and try to move in a different direction. But what about those of us who cannot imagine life down a different path?

I am asking today that you pray for farmers. Pray for strength and guidance; pray for a miracle. Because farming is among the highest rate of suicide victims. Because I feel farmers in general keep to themselves, put their chins down, put their muscles to work, and help their neighbors when they can. Some of our farmers need to know they are not alone and that they are cared for. There is often a stigma associated with depression; the feeling that ‘because I am struggling with something, I am weak’. I disagree with that! I think educating yourself on depression and anxiety makes you stronger. I think finding someone you can connect with and talk to makes you stronger.

My story:

I have that expectation that I can handle stress; I can be the mom and the wife that I should be, to fill everyone’s cup before I get to my own. In July 2017 I finally realized my cup was long empty and I had been crumbling for a few months. I would blame the weather and the fact that I didn’t have a tribe of close-knit girlfriends to reach out to. I blamed the dairy industry and the low milk prices. I blamed myself for not having a hobby and my family for not measuring up-not directly to them but under my breath as I wept on the shower floor.

The problem was I was grasping at straws, for this to be someone’s fault. When I stopped blaming my symptoms on this or that I realized many of them were triggered by the same situations. My heart would race, I felt panicked and anxious. I didn’t want to leave my house; I didn’t want to put myself in a situation that I wouldn’t be able to control. I had experienced sharp pains above my heart that radiated down my left side and headaches almost daily. It wouldn’t take much for me to fall apart or to snap at someone; my family usually took the brunt of it.

Feeling lost I asked a couple friends for support and they recommended I see my doctor, my husband didn’t understand the need for it. “This is life” he said, “life is hard and stressful, worry is how bills get paid and kids are suppose to drive parents crazy”. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe my husband’s point of view but in my heart I knew I wasn’t the same person I had been a year ago, so I made the appointment.

A few weeks later I walked out of the clinic feeling mentally exhausted with puffy eyes and a purse full of tissues; I held paperwork for a prescription in my hand and as I unlocked the car I took a deep breath. Now what?

It isn’t a pill that takes away the problems of the world but rather allows me to think clearly through my problems.

It isn’t a pill that doesn’t allow me to feel frustration and disappointment but rather allows me to calmly rationalize the importance of the situation before tackling it.

It isn’t a pill that will be part of my life forever but rather a tool I choose to use right now, so I can be their mom and his wife; so I can breathe easier.

Taking an antidepressent doesn’t make me less of anything. I looked at the way I was treating the people I love most in the world and I knew I wasn’t giving them the best parts of me, so I asked for help.

Mental health determines how we handle stress, interact with others, and make decisions. Feeling this way wasn’t a mom-thing. It wasn’t a farmer-thing. This is life, but we all handle it different. Please, read that sentence again. If you, or someone you know, is eating or sleeping too much or too little, having low to no energy, pulling away from people or activities, having unexplained aches and pains, yelling or fighting with family and friends, I give you the suggestion my friends gave me. Schedule a doctor’s appointment.

Everyone handles life differently. Don’t compare yourself — or your health — to anyone else.

If you or someone you know needs help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741

Visit www.mentalhealth.com for more information.

I have been taking an antidepressant for awhile now, and when I am standing in the school pick-up line   N O B O D Y   knows that. I mean, with this post I’m telling people…but, I am choosing to talk about it because it might connect with someone. The point is, you can take care of your mental health in private as a personal issue. I see my doctor every three months and we spend over 30 minutes together at each visit, she is well aware that I do not want to be on medication long-term. I am in no way suggesting that everyone take medication. What I am suggesting is that if you feel like you are not handling the stress well {right now}, be honest with yourself and talk to someone. There are many different ways you can manage the stress in your life, but the first thing you need to do is find someone you can talk to about the way your mind and body are currently making you feel.

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.

Farm Girl

The role of a farm woman

I use to watch this one farm mom, not obsessively but from the sidelines, stalker-like on social media, because everyone is honest online. I’d see her treating sick cows, snapping family photos in the parlor with a smiling husband AND kids. She was the farm wife I needed to become. She had her shit together and I couldn’t remember if I dressed my preschooler or if I let her dress herself… A few years later I overheard a conversation involving my “farm wife idol” and she was explaining how she doesn’t milk the cows.

Not a big deal  E X C E P T  that I realized this vision of a person I was comparing myself to wasn’t necessarily who she was. I’d assumed so much and beat myself down for not measuring up. I needed to stay in my own lane, I needed to focus on the farm woman I am.

I’m the kind of farm girl that sees a green tractor without a cab, not a JD4020.

I’m the kind of farmer that says we have a cool glass jar the milk goes through before it pumps into the tank, not a glass receiving jar.

I’m the kind of farm mom that makes hamburger helper and uses Alfredo sauce from a jar. And I like it.

I’m the kind of farmer who names her cows and their calves and can tell you their dams and grand-dams, but I’ve got no clue what they score on a body chart. I have more selfies on my phone with cows than kids. And when the laundry is piled high on the couch, I sit outside-I don’t need to surround myself with that kind of negativity.

I like cows more than people, drink wine from the bottle, and you can bet your backside I wished for a pair of new coveralls the night I blew out my birthday candle.

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I’m the kind of farm wife who yells at her farmer when he is being a jerk and yells at her kids when they won’t listen. I don’t keep up on the laundry, I don’t mop or clean windows or bake pies.

I’m the kind of farm wife who will tell her husband to take a day off because he clearly needs it. I will schedule myself more days than I can handle and eventually hit a wall and break down.

I’m the kind of farm girl who drags her feet on Saturday morning chores because it’s quiet in the barn and kid free, as soon as I step inside the house the real work begins.

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I may not be the kind of farm wife he wanted and I may not be the kind of farm woman I expected myself to be. But that’s fine!

The role of a farm wife doesn’t come with a guide; it doesn’t really matter if you can back up a chopper box and wagon or if you run to the parts store, if you deliver calves or deliver dinner to the field. Your role, regardless of what it includes, makes the farm run smoother. Farm women are pretty darn awesome, all in their own way.

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