I am a mother, wife, millennial, dairy farmer and obviously a blogger. My husband and I live on my family’s dairy farm with our daughter Calli. We are the third generation to take over my family’s dairy farm.
Trust is such a funny thing. It is something we only give to the most important people in our lives. Yet, often when farmers discuss reaching out to people who aren’t farmers, we talk about earning trust. There is nothing in the world that says you have to trust me because I am a farmer. Me being a farmer does make me an expert on growing food because I do it each day, but that still isn’t a reason you have to give me your trust. Long story short, you don’t have to. But I hope you will trust me regardless.
In reality I am not that different from you. I’m a parent. I have a messy house. It feels like we are constantly busy and our lawn isn’t mowed often enough. Even though my job is not common, we are normal in so many ways. The view outside my window is probably pretty different than yours and I smell cow manure more often than anything else. If you watch the news you might think those of us living out here are quite backward. But, in the end we can all agree we want to provide for our family (regardless of what that family looks like), keep our family healthy and have a life we enjoy. Maybe some of us have different avenues to go about it, but I would be willing to wager we can agree on those things. I think one hour at a great coffee shop chatting could show us that.
I am a dairy farmer because I care. I care about my cows and keeping them happy, healthy and content every single day. I care about our land. We strive to be good stewards to keep it healthy and productive for our neighbors and generations to come. When we take care of the cows and the land they will take care of us. Farming is a labor of love that I compare to parenting. There are long, exhausting hours. You do it because you want to do it or you feel like it is a calling for you. It is 7 days a week with rarely a day off. Honestly, there are lot of other ways to make a better living easier. Sometimes, like this year there is little to no pay. But in the end it is totally worth it. Even though it is hard and stressful, I love what we do. Just like I love being a parent.
I stop in the grocery store and stand right next to you in the aisles. I stare at labels and I debate for minutes which brand or type of diced tomatoes I should buy. Trust me, I’ve stared way longer than I should have. I have debated about what is healthier for my family constantly. I hope you will look at that “plain Jane” gallon of milk in your local grocery store and think of me and my family. You won’t judge it for its lack of catchy logos and fancy labels on the container. I hope you take it off the shelf, put it in your cart and feel good about taking it home and feeding it to your family. That is my hope each and everyday when I am out on the farm working.
Growing up my mother and I weren’t exactly close. Well, in her defense I was rebellious and sassy and snotty. I know, I have a lot to look forward to when my kids are teenagers. While I was in college I learned the hard way how much my mother did for me. Fast forward a little and within 10 years I went from hating my mother to working side-by-side with her.
Things aren’t always easy and we don’t always get along. Sometimes I’m a bitch. Sometimes she’s forgetful. In the end, we talk almost daily on the phone. We see each other at the farm. She will go home and I will remember something I have to tell her. So naturally I call her and we will talk for another hour. Yes, we are crazy close now.
My mom and I used to talk about how it was weird when mothers and daughters said they were each others best friend. Even being as close as we are there are things we don’t talk about. Honestly, who wants to talk to their mom about their sex life? I will openly admit I do not. When I was younger I needed a parent and not another friend. This bares repeating: I needed her to be my parent and not my friend when I was a kid and young adult.
We didn’t really like each other here. Seriously.
Once we had Calli things really started to change. My mom is always there to help. Seeing your parents be a grandparent is one of the most moving sights ever. Second only to holding your baby for the first time. My mother is always there at the last second to babysit or go pick her up from daycare when the farm is crazy. She sometimes goes grocery shopping for me. She helps clean my house and mow our lawn. To say my mom does way more than she should to help us is an understatement.
Almost a year ago my parents sold the farm to Eric and I. On their last day on the farm I had a pit in my stomach the entire time. I figured I was nervous because Eric wasn’t going to be back on the farm full time yet and it was just going to be me in charge for a month. The first day she didn’t come to the farm I cried. She literally was a mile away from me but I felt so lonely. I called her bawling telling her that after working together everyday for 6 years she was my best friend. She’s the person I talked to the most and confided in the most. I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about that day and it’s been almost a year.
I still don’t talk to my mom about certain subjects. Cough, cough sex. But I have come to accept that it’s not that weird to be best friends with my mom as an adult. My mom is one of my biggest cheerleaders and she is always there for advice. She has reached the point where she finally admitted 30 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing to have me was worth it. Which I’m pretty sure that wasn’t always the case. Right now, I don’t consider Calli to be my best friend. She’s a toddler who is always pushing my buttons. But I hope someday this fierce, sassy little girl will become an intelligent, fierce woman who will become a friend as well as a daughter.
Over the past few years I have had a few friends lose their mothers. Reflecting on the evolution of your relationship with your mother happens a lot when you see good friends missing their matriarch. While you have them, hug your mommy. If you have a good one, appreciate everything she gave you. Don’t be afraid to call her your best friend because most of us only have so much time to appreciate the special relationship we have with our mothers.
We are all really busy people and often that means making a really healthy meal with vegetables gets pushed to the side. I am just as guilty as anyone for making frozen pizza and hot dogs for my family. But I also have a few healthy tricks up my sleeve. This vegetable recipe is one of my favorites and it’s so easy. It also makes great leftovers so I always make a huge pan of it.
We are a full fat family, meaning we use a lot of butter. If you are scared of that you can use olive oil too. So don’t panic and think it won’t be good without the butter.
This recipe is very fluid and is totally customizable. That’s the great thing about it, you can change it depending on what you have in the house and what your family likes. Each time my vegetables change and this is a great clean out the fridge recipe! You cannot go wrong with a recipe that includes tasty vegetables and an easy side for dinner.
I love chocolate mousse pie, lemon meringue pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie.
I dare you to find a pie I don’t like.
Since I am human, I love Pecan Pie. We will not be having a pronunciation debate here because I’m from Michigan and according to everyone else I cannot pronounce anything right. If you are looking for something as decadent as Pecan Pie but has a twist, you will love this Oatmeal Pie recipe.
Oatmeal Pie is also called Poor Man’s Pecan Pie. It was actually a Depression Era recipe that came about because people couldn’t afford Pecans. I have to say, I love how easy this pie is and it’s so delicious. Also, oatmeal is a lot cheaper than pecans so there’s that. This is a perfect bake sale recipe. It’s easy, it’s cheap and it’s something different. You will be the hit. If you’re looking for bake sale recipes I can suggest this one as well.
Easter baskets are always a conundrum in our house. I love chocolate and candy. Trust me. When it comes to Easter and planning for the Easter Bunny I am a hypocrite. I prefer non-candy treats because let’s face it, I will eat more of it than Calli will. I know lots of you are better people then I am and you don’t eat a lot of sugar and don’t want your children having a lot either.
So, with all of that baggage out in the open I’m going to share some creative Easter Basket Ideas for all of you parents out there like me who are looking for a last second gift idea when all of the good candy is gone. I will also say, I’m not one of those parents who makes the Easter Bunny into another Santa Claus. If you do that I’m not judging you–a lot–but that’s not my style.
Rain Boots/Wellies – I hate Easter baskets because they are a pain to store. They don’t fold down and just sit there being a big, awkward pain in my neck. So, I’ve always looked for something different. For Calli’s first 2 Easters we had a little felt basket. It was cute but it also folded up to store. I love it. This year I’m going a little different. I’m using a pair of rain boots! She needs a new pair for on the farm so it was perfect.
Books – This is an easy one. Books are always an appropriate gift for any reason. I always plan on a book for any holiday or any reason really. Who doesn’t love a book? It expands the mind and it’s not sugar. When you read it 50 times a day you might regret it but just remember, a kid hopped up on sugar is so much worse.
Board Games – At two Calli is a little young for a board game yet. But, for the future this is a great idea. Nothing like gifting an activity you can do as a family. Especially for families with older kids this is a great gift. Things to do during snow days, when friends come over or on Friday nights when they’re complaining that they’re sooooo bored.
Activity Books – Activity books can be a huge lifesaver when you’re any place you would like your children to behave for a long period of time. For example, long car rides, the doctors office, church. The list could go on and on. Something reusable is another huge bonus because once they color all over the pages once you won’t have to get a new one.
Non-Candy Treat – It’s Easter so your kids should definitely get something fun! Whether that is a few pieces of a candy or animals crackers. Something they like should definitely be in there.
Trying not to let Easter turn into a sugar high followed by the epic crash and all of the tears that will be involved is hard. But I hope some of my non-candy suggestions will help you make a fun and amazing basket all the same. What are some ideas I may have missed for that Easter basket?
When I sat down to write this post about balance I had a general concept of where I wanted it to go. But my title stayed blank and I stared at the screen wondering how in the world I was going to start it. For months I had been thinking about tackling this issue all moms are thinking about. As a parent I have realized there is a whole new dynamic to the balancing act of life. What cemented this topic was all of the responses on my survey that talked about this very subject.
Give Yourself Grace
I have a lot of irons in the fire. Anyone who knows me personally knows I am involved in a lot. Definitely too much. Living in this packed full and busy life means I have to keep everything in a very delicate balance. Often, my balance will get off but I am constantly working to get back there.
In the future I am planning to share about priorities, organization and just keeping life sane. Before we get there I wanted to start with a sound base to build on. Wearing lots of hats means we are all busy. I’m really not sure how people think I really have it together in life. I’ll be honest, I don’t. My house, car and purse are a mess constantly. Being late is a skill I have that drives my husband nuts.
The first rule in my book of life is giving yourself grace. You can’t do it all just like I can’t do it all. I try not to portray my life as perfect because it’s not even close. But it’s also hard to put 100% reality out there for everyone to see. Looking around at this moment my house is an absolute mess, but I’m sitting here writing because I have put this off too long.
It took me a long time to give myself a little grace and not sweat the small stuff. One day I realized I was wasting so much time always being worried about what everyone thought or spending time only on things that bring me no joy. My time was full without my life being fulfilling. After lots of practice, where each time I stopped myself when my thinking went down the rabbit hole–I did something revolutionary. I forgive myself and I move on.
I hope before we get into balancing life you can start working grace into your daily life. We all deserve it. What is your first rule for keeping your sanity in a busy life?
Creativity has become something I am always thinking about for Calli, our toddler. Our toddler has been two for over a month now and don’t ask me where the time has gone. But here we sit with a tiny human who is two going on twelve. She is funny, sassy and a natural-born leader. Which may or may not make her my mini in personality.
This year we really won the birthday and Christmas lottery and got some amazing gifts from friends and family. Seeing that imagination come out of this tiny brain is amazing and we want to continue to push her creativity. Finding toys that encourage that is so important and I wanted to share the toys we have that really help Calli grow that we also love as parents.
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Callie’s kitchen is as messy as ours is!
KidKraft Toy Kitchen – This kitchen is used daily at our house. We put it up in the living room and Calli cannot get enough of it. She walks around calling grandma on her phone. Calli feeds her Woody and Jessie dolls soup and bologna. She makes us tea with her tea kettle. It is the cutest thing watching her pretend to make dinner and washing dishes. This kitchen will be played with for a long time in our house.
Magna-Tiles – Magna-Tiles are not something a lot of parents have heard of but trust me, every kid needs a set. Calli got a set for Christmas and these are a toy she enjoys now and she will enjoy more as she gets older. Our niece and nephew who are 8 and 6 still play with their sets. You can buy more sets to build bigger and bigger projects. This is another gift that will keep growing with your child.
She thought she was adorable.
Color Wonder Markers and Coloring Books – Coloring is Calli’s absolute favorite. She can sit at her table and color for hours. I love the fact that she wants to color and draw and be creative. I will always encourage it. But, it’s stressful trying to keep an eye on her with regular markers, even when they are washable. What parent wants to have to clean markers off of everything? Or, having to give a bath after they draw with a purple marker all over their belly. These Color Wonder Markers only draw on the Color Wonder paper. The regular markers are hidden and these are the only ones she has. She also has crayons but she would rather use the markers any day. They are piece of mind so I don’t have to hover over her or be mad when she draws somewhere she isn’t supposed to.
TeePee by Pillowfort – Calli doesn’t have this specific teepee, she has a homemade one. She also have this amazing tent from Ikea too. If you aren’t as into making your child a teepee-like me-I thought I would share a great option to buy. Calli loves having this space. She will bring one of us in there with her and we will read. I could see as she gets older we will put a chair in it and she could read herself. I love that it gives a her a space to express her creativity.
Reading Penguin and Pinecone.
Books – In my mind you cannot have enough books. That’s probably overboard. You probably can own too many, but books are such an amazing brain builder. We read books constantly around our house and here are a few of Calli’s favorite books right now. She loves these Disney sets of 12 books (she has two different ones and there’s so many other ones), Goodnight Moon, Penguin and Pinecone, Little Blue Truck, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
Creativity is a trait I want to nourish in my child. I want to help her dream, invent and learn. A big part of that is giving her the time and space to do that. Another part of that is to give her tools that help her express them. I believe a select number of toys can help a child do that. Are there any great creative toys I don’t have on here that your kids loved?
For years I was made to feel like my emotions aren’t justified. They are always linked to hormones. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard I must be PMSing because I’m mad about something. Believe me, when I’m feeling ugly I don’t need a period to do it. My point is, everyone has a right to their emotions. Whatever it is, you have a right to feel that way.
A few weeks ago I had a personal realization. After years of struggling with getting sick before big events, being bothered by routine changes and snapping at my loved ones when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ve realized I suffer from anxiety. I’m not one to be ashamed of admitting I have something like anxiety. Now it is the next step. Figuring out what I do with this and how to deal with the anxiety. The swing of emotions are so challenging for me to deal with. Especially when dairy farming is such a tough place to be right now.
What I do know is I need to start accepting what I am feeling instead of going to flight zone. When I look back at situations in my past and I think about how I reacted and it’s so obvious it isn’t normal. Those ugly feelings are something that I just thought everyone had, I realize it’s not.
When we were struggling with infertility I was so emotional. For the first year, when we simply didn’t get pregnant was one thing. During that time I was okay. It was frustrating but I couldn’t change it. Everything changed when we lost that first pregnancy. I’m sure there was a hormonal part to my devastation. To put it simply I was destroyed on the inside but I thought I needed to be tough because everyone else was. I didn’t know anyone who had a miscarriage or if I did they never seemed bothered by it. I felt like I had to be stoic about it.
At the time I knew of very few people who could even vaguely understand about our struggle with infertility, not to mention a miscarriage. Thankfully our friends and family didn’t understand but they let me be ugly. They listened and never judged. They let me say things I would never say to anyone else. This experience made me realize we just need to own these emotions.
Give yourself the grace to be ugly for a while. Your feelings aren’t inappropriate. Own the feelings. Ask for help when you need them. Talk to someone when you need it. Feeling ugly doesn’t mean you have to be ugly.
What is your strategy to dealing with those ugly feelings?
For me 2017 was a year of evolution. I feel like I gained a lot of confidence in my beliefs and myself through this year. My husband and I went from working in separate places to working together on the farm. To say, 2017 had a lot of change would be so true. When I started thinking about what I wanted my philosophy for 2018 to be, I had to think about it. I decided to continue up a mindset I started working on in 2017 and a friend gave me the perfect words for it.
If it isn’t hell yes, then it’s hell no.
I have always worked hard to keep myself busy. I always thought keeping myself busy was the best. Now that I’m a parent and a farm owner I realize needlessly busy is exhausting and not rewarding. I love to be involved in our community and sharing my story online. When these things become overwhelming the wheels usually fall off. My hope is in 2018 I can continue to work on saying no to things I don’t want to do. I hope to keep organizing myself so I can do a better job on the things I am involved in. I want my daily work to reflect what my goals are and I want to push the fear aside to get there.
I’m hoping by only working on things I am passionate about I will have more time for my family, this blog and the farm. With hopefully having more time to write and be creative. In the future I plan to talk about farming, organization, food, running and so much more! Is there something else you want to know about? Is there a question you have always wanted to ask a farmer? I would love to work on that for you. You can email me at email@example.com.
Thank you for being with me on this journey and I can’t wait to share more.
I have been on my lifestyle change of running and trying to be healthier and more balanced for a year and a half. Through this journey I have learned a lot about the amazing things my body can do, like run a half marathon. I have realized the value in taking time for self care. Fueling my newly very active body was something I also learned about.
I struggled with food for a long time. My average day on the farm includes at least 5 miles of walking. Plus, I do a decent amount of lifting, carrying and squats in my normal day. No, I’m not bragging about that. I’m saying it because that meant when I threw running in I was eating like a pig.
All. The. Time.
I simply couldn’t fuel my body enough. Or so I thought. But I wasn’t giving my body the fuel it needed. I was giving it too much of what it didn’t need and not enough of what it did. The cravings I had rivaled my nursing cravings and they were full of sugar. Anyone who is training for really long distance races will tell you the cravings are intense and hard to keep under control. It’s not uncommon for people to gain weight while training for a half marathon or any longer race.
Before I started training for my half I laughed and said that wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be standing in my kitchen scarfing down anything I could find. Well, talk about putting my foot and a lot of food in my mouth. I was definitely that person.
High Quality Food is Important
One of the things I learned to not gain weight while running long distances often is not based on a diet. It’s about eating high quality food all through the day. But, what does that mean? I like an expensive granola bar as much as the next person, but that’s not what I am referring to. I am talking about making your own food that has a lot of fruit, veggies, protein, fat and complex carbohydrates.
Buy combining these food groups most of the time, I can bet you will feel better and not get tired by the end of your training period. I’m not saying no treats. I will not tell you to cut out alcohol or sugar or salty foods during a training period. Unless you an elite athlete or if it’s the week of your race. I try to eat my best the week of my race.
Snacks are Essential
I realized while training snacks are even more important than normal. I always make sure I have snacks around the house that are healthy and quick. If I don’t have a snack I will eat way too much at lunch and dinner. I promise you it won’t be a healthy lunch or dinner choice too.
You might ask, what are my favorite snacks? Well, I have lots of easy to grab fruits and veggies. Carrots and avocado dip, Apples and Peanut Butter or a Plum and a piece of string cheese. These are a few of my favorites. Depending on how many miles I am running I might add in a piece of whole wheat bread or another slice of cheese. These snacks all include natural sugars, fats and carbohydrates. The bonus is, my toddler likes all of these snacks too so I can share.
Why Milk is An Essential Part of my Diet
When I get done with a run or workout I want something quick to refuel me. The hangry is real when I get to that point. We always have chocolate milk in our house for this reason. I’ve had a lot of people say they can’t stomach the thought of milk after a workout. Chocolate milk is a perfect combination of fluids, electrolytes and those 9 essential nutrients that are even more important after a hard workout. After your stomach settles chocolate milk can be the most fulfilling and delicious recovery drink.
Chocolate Milk provides the ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein to aid your body in recovering from a hard workout. These carbohydrates help replace the fuel your body burned. The protein helps build muscles and repair the muscles that break down during running. We all loose fluids during a hard workout and they need to be replaced. Low-fat chocolate milk replace those fluids. The vitamins and minerals in milk build strong bodies.
Dairy plays a much larger part of my diet than a recovery drink. I noticed my body required a lot more protein than I originally thought. I knew I couldn’t just add more fruit and veggies into my diet, I needed a lot more high quality protein. The easiest way to get that is with cheese, yogurt and milk.
Don’t be Afraid of Your Food
When I started writing this, I wanted to get to this point. We live in a diet and cleanse centered society. It’s so easy to feel like you shouldn’t be eating anything. But let’s be honest, our bodies do amazing things and they need fuel to do that. Fuel your body in a balanced and healthy way and don’t feel bad about treating yourself. We all need a cookie or a chocolate bar and that one isn’t going to ruin everything.