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Words. When spoken, they have power but, when written down, they can change the trajectory of one’s future. During a recent farm visit, a dairyman told me about the words he wrote down 20 years ago and how they guided the vision for where he is today.

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Recently, I was reminded the story of Helen Keller, who was 9 months old when she was stricken with the disease that left her both blind and deaf.

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In farming, as well as in life, things sometimes go totally different than what a person expects or plans. This last winter proved to be a very hard one with all the ice, snow and bitter cold. Spring finally came, and with it the realization that most of our hay fields had terrible winterkill.

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There’s a lot happening on the planet’s surface right now. Global warming is killing off the biodiversity needed to sustain life as well as creating dangerous weather phenomena.

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Let me take you back to a time of innocence. A time when I thought everything was legal as long as there was no game warden around. A time when I thought all the best places to hunt ducks had huge sand boxes, manicured fields and flags every couple hundred yards to help find our way back to the truck.

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We try to be faithful recyclers around the house. I make regular runs to town with the pickup full of newspapers, bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard boxes and tin.

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“My husband came in at lunch and told me the statistics on farmer suicide. He told me how hopeless he felt. I was scared to let him go back to the field.” 

“I am always so angry. I yell at the kids and throw things in the milkhouse. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” 

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Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of blogs Rebecca Shaw is providing about female entrepreneurs and what the dairy industry can learn from them. In her next blog, Shaw will further explore the idea of a red team in the dairy industry.

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It seems there is a concerted effort today to destroy American heritage. Statues of bygone days are being torn down, mottos are being erased, and values are being demolished. The rights of the offended take precedence over time-worn traditions.

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A significant proportion of my childhood happened in the silence of a tractor cab. There was a brisk manner in which the morning moved from milking to feeding calves to feeding cows, but the afternoon fieldwork was where the day would start to settle out.

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