Last summer I had the opportunity to take Everett to Washington, DC. We were invited by our co-op to share our farm story with legislators. Nathan was unable to go so Everett came with me. Every spare moment we had in between meetings; I would take Everett to monuments throughout the city. I wanted Everett to be able to experience as much as we possibly could in a small amount of time. I knew this could possibly be a once in a lifetime opportunity for him. We were able to see many of the main monuments we see and think of. There is so much history in DC. There is so much meaning in DC beyond the politics.
Washington, DC, 2018
On our last day, we were able to visit Arlington Cemetery. The sounds of the changing of the guard, the clicking of shoes, the silence surrounding the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, will forever me in my memory.
Arlington Cemetery, 2018
As we were having lunch on our last day with some fellow dairy farmers we were talking about each of our favorite parts of DC. The monuments that surprised us. The ones that made us think. The ones where we could hear our own hearts beat. The ones where we would hold our breath. The ones we could sit by and be next to all day. Our conversation changed to “Where is the Declaration of Independence?” “Is it here in DC?” I took out my phone and found out it is at the National Archives in DC. I looked at the time, rechecked what time our fight was leaving and said to Everett, “We have about 2 hours, do you want to see if we can get in before we have to leave?” Of course, Everett said yes.
The line was long to get into the National Archives, we were starting to get nervous if we were going to run out of time. When we got into the building, we asked the first security guard we found where the Declaration of Independence calls home, the rotunda. As we made our way closer in the dimly lit room. Emotions began to well up inside of me. So many monuments and places we saw. Every monument has a meaning. Every monument means something. The one that should be on the top of our list to visit we almost forgot. Visiting the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights along with so many other letters. So many pieces of paper with pen scribes of words that shaped our country. So many moments in time where words changed the course of history. The pieces of paper we forget about but the pieces of paper we were founded on. The words that created everything we are, home of the free because of the brave.
Everett and I in front of the National Archives, 2018
It is even harder when we have to tell our son, Everett, his special heifer Lady Wilt died unexpectedly. She was fine in the morning and by evening chores we found her in a stall passed away. It was difficult to tell Everett because we didn’t have a reason. She wasn’t sick. She wasn’t acting different. She was eating and drinking.
We were all looking forward to Lady Wilt having her first calf the end of summer. Sometimes in farming and in life there are no answers to our pain. All we can do is love on each other and stand by each other.
Lady Wilt was the daughter of Everett’s beloved cow 304
As we said our goodbyes to Lady Wilt we talked about how she would chew through her lead rope.
How tiny she was as a calf.
How much fun we had with her.
How it was pure happiness to share her with everyone.
We talked about how soft her hair was.
To how she would open the side door of the barn on her own.
This column was originally published in Agweek April 27, 2019
I wish family pictures could tell the stories leading up to the picture. Every Easter, I make a family proclamation as we head to the home of my aunt and uncle, “To remind everyone we will be taking a family picture as soon as we get there. We will take what we need into the house. No one takes their shoes off. We are taking a family picture.”
As soon as we get there, my husband and children are shocked when we enter my aunt and uncle’s house and I remind them, “Don’t take your shoes off! We ARE taking a picture! Go outside.” We head to the back yard and apparently this is play time. A time to see how close we can get to the pond in the backyard. They run around the fire pit back up to the house and are surprised when I say “Let’s take the picture!”
My husband stands stoic and replies “Let’s get this over with! Come on!” All I want is a picture with my family with them all smiling and joyful to take a picture. Yes, I can hear the birds chirping and the woodland animals coming out to drape us in satin ribbons placing a flower crown on my head. The children gentle place their hands out for song birds to land on their precious little fingers.
No instead I am repeating myself over and over again, “Put the stick DOWN!” “Stand still! Stop Moving! Get your fingers out of your face! Come on, smile NICE!” Every single time we take a family picture there is tension, irritation and frustration and more important things to do than take a family picture of us four.
No woodland creators singing to us.
Mostly with all our family pictures there is a story, and not a joyful one. The story of when I am sweetly and calmly telling my children to get over here but my teeth are clenched together. Or the time when Nathan and I are walking up the driveway holding hands, I am calmly reminding him and possibly holding his hand a little to tight, “I warned you we were taking family pictures today.”
My favorite picture of all time doesn’t tell you about 20 minutes before the photographer arrived at the farm I freaked out on my husband and two children.
The Easter picture this year doesn’t tell you while I was curling my hair I had told Vivian several times to get her Easter dress on while she was dancing running around the house with only her white tights and dress shoes on. It doesn’t tell you how Everett exclaimed “Easter is the best! Candy for breakfast!”
The Easter vigil picture doesn’t tell you how Vivian ran around the front yard tripping and falling three times. Each time I caught my breathe and each time she yelled, “I’m OK!” It doesn’t tell you I mumbled under my breathe, “I’m not worried about you but I am worried about your white tights and new dress.”
Big Announcement!!! Please Share the love for Dairy Moms!
Raising a Farmer has partnered with some amazing businesses in Little Falls, MN for our 3rd Annual DairyMom Mother’s Day Giveaway to celebrate hardworking DairyMoms!
DairyMom must live in Morrison, Todd, Wadena, Crow Wing, Aitkin, Benton and Stearns County. Send a picture along with 20 words saying how awesome your favorite dairymom is.
Send nominations to email@example.com or PM Raising A Farmer.
You have till Monday May 6th to send in your nominations.
Voting will begin Wednesday May 8th on Facebook till Mother’s Day Midnight.
On Monday May 13th I will announce the winners!
Prizes to be given away:
Necklace engraved “Dairy Mom” Value at $70 Melgram Jewelers
Please share and thank these wonderful businesses who have partnered with Raising a Farmer! Without them I wouldn’t be able to spread joy and Share some of my Favorite things and Places with DairyMoms in Central Minnesota!
This column was originally published in Agweek April 13, 2019
The first week in April I had the opportunity to speak at four locations for Women in Ag seminars across Minnesota. My topic was stress and how I handle that.
As I was getting ready to go, my cousin asked how my prepping was going, and I replied, “I’m getting stressed about having to talk about stress. It’s ridiculous!” It turned out to be a stress-free, fantastic week.
Throughout the week there was something common among all four seminars. Women would come up to me and share how they want their families back. Women in agriculture want their farms to put their families first. For about the last five years, agriculture as a whole has put the business part ahead of the family part.
Experts tell us in a roundabout way, family needs to be last. I get confused by this because agriculture brags about how they are “family” owned or “family” operated. When family isn’t first on your farm, how can we brag about family?
A couple of years ago, I was talking to an “expert” and trying to explain how on family farms what affects the family affects the farm and what affects the farm affects the family. They are one. They need to be intertwined, because that is why we do it. They are intertwined because one makes us better at the other.
I gave her an example of how we had plans and help lined up for when baby No. 2 came to cover my workload. Well, Vivian decided to come unexpectedly almost six weeks early. Within a couple of hours, we had to figure out chores and who would get Everett off the bus because we were at the hospital. This agriculture “expert” told me, “You didn’t have adequate day care lined up.”
After this, I started paying attention to what the “experts” are saying. The “experts” are telling us family doesn’t belong on the farm. They don’t say it directly, but they are saying it.
After every talk I gave at the seminars, women would come up to me and say how they want their families first. They want family meals again. They want to spend time with their families in the field. They want to be able to talk to their families and not be so short with each other. They want their families to slow down. They want their farm to slow down. They want to be able to celebrate birthdays with each other. They want to slow down and enjoy what is around them. They want to enjoy each other. They want to pause and enjoy sunsets with each other. Because this is why we do this. Women want their families back. The hard work is worth it because we get to be with our families.
I hear a lot in conversations: “We can’t farm like we used to.” I wonder, when we think like this, what do we lose. I know there are many women across Minnesota who have lost their families to the noises of agriculture and they want them back. They want to farm like they used to.