for fun

49 Reasons to love the farm life

Fourty-nine. Really?

Right, well then — you must be asking yourself two questions: 1) why 49 and not 50? 2) will there be a quiz at the end? The answer to the first question is because cow #49 on my farm is my favorite so it seemed fitting. To answer the next question, you’ll need to read through the post

  1. Sunrises so beautiful they literally stop you
  2. Calf cuddles
  3. A full kitchen table with laughter and planning
  4. Working with family, the bond becomes quite unique
  5. You fall asleep easily after a long days work
  6. We never say no to ice cream, or chocolate milk
  7. Make-up and bra is optional
  8. You can squeeze the bosses tush – maybe not on E V E R Y farm but at least on my farm
  9. The peace and quiet of watching animals just being content
  10. Tractor rides
  11. Welcoming a new life into the world
  12. Sending your niece and nephew home waayyy dirty
  13. Drinking from the garden hose
  14. Eating a meal from the produce and meats of your own work
  15. The smell of fresh cut hay
  16. When your favorite good jeans gain 2nd life as your favorite barn jeans
  17. Singing to the animals in a judgment free zone
  18. Working at your pace
  19. Tailgate lunch & dinner
  20. Crop checking
  21. Free fall decorations
  22. Sunsets. Sunsets. Sunsets.
  23. When you heal a sick animal
  24. Neighbors pull in the drive with a cooler of cold ones
  25. Hay rides
  26. Watching your kids run across hay bales
  27. The final pass on the field

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  28. Tractor acoustics are top notch
  29. Big breakfast
  30. Spring planning, the excitement
  31. Tan lines before the 5th of June
  32. Learning to communicate without saying a word
  33. Boots! Sexy boots, shit boots, comfy boots.
  34. Caffeine is plentiful and encouraged
  35. Educating consumers who want to learn
  36. Patience is learned
  37. Confidence in yourself and what you’re capable of
  38. Seeing 1-3 shooting stars while you walk to the barn
  39. Calling it a beach day, or a fishing day, or a rain day
  40. Cursing is like speaking in cursive, it’s allowed
  41. You can drink on the job
  42. Gratitude
  43. Likely to be hired at future jobs without a resume because farm work kicks ass
  44. The sound of rain on a hot summer night, as long as there isn’t hay down…
  45. End of harvest satisfaction
  46. Teaching your child how to hold a bottle, or swing on a milker
  47. When an animal comes to you, the trust you’ve earned
  48. Sorting cattle ends in “good-job”
  49. Feeling useful and needed

 

What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear, leave a comment!

Xo, Nicole

About Us

Raising farm kids

My children have fallen asleep to the steady sound of pulsator’s. They have crawled and learned to walk smack dab in the middle of the parlor. And they’ve been exposed to more germs in the first 12 months of life than you’d probably like to hear about.

They have no idea that a lot of families have Saturdays and Sundays off or go on vacations to visit new places. They don’t realize that most Dad’s and Mom’s who work can’t take their kids with them. And learning to drive a tractor at 5 is not the norm.

Rain days are their favorite because Dad stays inside. They drink from the well and run around outside until they can no longer see and the bugs start to bite. On good days they get hosed down in the milk house before they take a shower because Mom’s tub just can’t handle that much dirt.

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My children are learning things before they even know they are being taught. Kindness, compassion, loss, independence. This is just life for them and I hope one day they find the beauty in it.

Beauty–like the way the sun lights up the morning sky in pinks and orange. The quiet calm of working with creatures much bigger and stronger than you. The love in your heart to work for what you want, even knowing that the gains are minimally visible. The struggle to find balance between family and work and to realize those struggles makes you cherish the time together just a little bit more.

I continue to learn every day with them and these memories we make remind me I don’t want life any other way. For them or for me. They may grow and walk away from this life but the values they learn will help them still. Raising my kids here and now on the farm is the only way I can imagine these handful of years I have to teach them. Share your childhood memories with me, or what you love about the life you’re teaching your little ones.

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

About Us

Don’t forget about small dairy

When we talked about starting our own dairy farm we never imagined milking 400 cows, we have always just had a different mindset. Often times I hear that if a business isn’t growing it’s dying, but there are other ways to “grow” than by increasing cow numbers. We currently milk 60 cows and that is definitely enough to keep my farmer and I busy, and I enjoy visiting bigger dairy farms and learning how they operate, but it just isn’t for me. A lot of farms around us milk more than we do so the question of whether or not we will grow seems to come up. Often. With the trend being to grow I wonder, can a small farm exist? I want to believe they can, that they also have a place in this industry. And for anyone who wants to know why I’m just not on the bandwagon to expand here are a handful of my reasons:

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Our barn. Our barn has 63 free stalls and narrow alleys so if we crowd around 70 the cows just aren’t comfortable. Cow comfort is an important part of good milk production and happy animals. In the summer we do let the cows out onto a small dirt pasture which helps but in the winter months we don’t have that option. To expand our herd, we would need to build an addition to the barn or (more preferably) build a new, more up-to-date barn. At this time building a free stall barn is not a possibility.

We are only 1 family. Many farms are still family owned, even if they milk a large number. As the farm continues through generations there are more family members involved and the need to support those families grows. My husband and I started our own dairy farm so at this time we only need to support one family of 5. Also, I have three little kiddos who are young and need us, a lot. As our herd grows the labor involved to run the operation grows and I would rather spend more time in the house with my kiddos than in the barn playing in cow poop. Yes, I could hire a few employees to help with the workload but I’m not ready to go there.

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Available land. The area in which our farm is located is populated by other dairymen, beef farmers and crop land. As our herd increases we struggle to find more land so we can feed the animals. We could grow and just purchase the feed we are unable to grow ourselves but that is an expense that needs to be considered as well, survival mode 101 tells me to reduce expenses.

We are young. We started our farm when we were 23 & 24 and jumped in with both feet. It seems crazy to think that we could sell out and do something different but the option needs to be there. I want to keep the farm small so that if one of us decided to try a new career or if we chose to stop milking cows all together, it would be easy for someone to manage and grow as they desired.

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I am tired of growing. For almost eight years we have been building and growing this business and at some times it has felt like we were sliding backwards. Our herd grew from 6 cows to over 160 head. We have converted an old barn into a milking facility, then started over by building a new parlor & milk house, we have built a house & pole barn, and we have built a heifer barn. We went from a newly married couple to a family of five in just 6 short years which is full of exhaustion in itself! I’m tired. I am tired of growing and expanding and to be honest I just want a break.

It takes all kinds of kinds – we all have our own struggles and accomplishments, heart breaks and road blocks. For us, for now — being a small farm that operates efficiently is the goal, spending time with my kids and cattle, and being able to do it all {which is my over bearing, over-controlling, first child, stubborn to the bone, right}.

Xo, Nicole

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