Monday, December 1, 2014

Diary of a Diary Wife: The Wi-Fives and the I-Tubes: Growing Agvocates

Hey folks!

My diary has been silent for a bit.

Have you ever had those times in life where you just keep thinking "next week it will be calm. Nothing on my calendar." and then before you can get to Monday it is already the next Monday...
I was swallowed by the TimeEater and just got to return to a small resemblance of what things were like when I thought I was busy.

This year has been a roller coaster. One with ups and downs and twists and barrel roll after barrel roll. I'm exhausted of it. I get motion sick anyway....let me tell ya....I'm green and dizzy. I needed off the ride for a few minutes. So...here I am. Back with y'all. Tell me how excited you are!!

The last few months I've had SOOO much to say. God has been giving me lessons in biting my tongue, I believe. I'm that person that allows rogue thoughts escape my mouth. I don't always use the brain to censor. We all know my filter isn't fully connected so maybe it has all been for the best that I've been AWOL. With the world burning down and all....

In the time I've been pretty quiet we have had a lot going on. We got a little short-handed so I got to be a farmer part time. It was fun for me. The Milkman wasn't quite as thrilled. I have little to no experience running equipment, I question his methods of doing everything, I like to stop and have lunch, and The Milkman isn't as excited about photo-ops and selfies as I am. We managed to stay happily married though. We have since filled the vacant spots (with people other than me) and I had to return to, and catch up on all my dairy wife/mom/everything else duties.

The Fancy Pants Family and the Dairy Wife Family do some volunteering with our county and state Farm Bureau. We have had some amazing opportunities, made lots of good friends, and learned so much from this organization. Some of the experiences we've had volunteering have been the starting points to many of my blogs, especially the agvocacy ones.

As young farmers we stand in a strange place in the more "farm geared" organizations. We are looked at as the inexperienced. We don't know how things work, how they've always been done. (Good grief, don't we know how I feel about that statement.) We come into these organizations trying to "take over" and "change things." We think we know everything. We just want to do everything on our phones (which we don't stop looking at, by the way) or from home. We don't want to come to meetings or have dinners or carry on the meetings we do attend for hours. We want the "wi-five" and the "i-tube" on the "internets" to make things happen. (Shout out to Memaw....her technical terms are my favorite!) We just don't understand what farming is really about.

How about I say something here....that individually the "not" young farmers do not see young farmers like this. Individually the "nots" are encouraging and open-minded. But then you get that one "not" that doesn't have a computer or a phone and refuses to change with the times and that guy...he reminds the rest about the good ole days. And then....holy moly....then comes the doubt.

Countless times I have heard this question, "How do we get young people involved and KEEP them involved?"

I have written on this topic. I will continue to write on this topic until y'all tell me I should really get some new material or that someone, somewhere has gotten the point. 

I see what you see...I see young farmers working their tails off, in today's farming world. I see us trying to fit everything into the short hours the day offers. I see us wanting to change the perception. I see us trying to find an outlet for the frustrations we face as young farmers. I see us finding those outlets just to be discouraged. Today's young farmers are not quitters. But we feel that way when we are dismissed by folks that don't understand today's agriculture.

We are hammered in the media by groups that spend tons of cash (raised by lies and deceit). Not all apples are good apples...there are rotten ones, and these groups sniff them out and exploit it like its "the norm." And it ain't. If they can't find putrid fruit they prey on stand-up folks and edit until it looks awful. Y'all...this is a whole other post... We are hammered by social media. Oh the GMO, the grain fed/grass fed, the organic, the vegan, the vegetarian, the diets, the "studies," the hipster, the easily swayed, and the easily amused. Everybody has an opinion and it is based on a blog post Joe Blow, Susie Sainthood, Willie the Wacko, or even I wrote. Quickly I wanna say that you should do your homework on anything you read. Don't phrase a google search "milk bad for you" or "milk the best for you." Google reads phrasing and body language...I swear it freaks me out. Dang I am easily distracted. We are hammered by other farmers. Other farmers? What? Our own kind, throwing us under the bus?

Yep.

Every day.

There is a screwed up war between conventional farming and organic farming and every other kind of farming. And the fact is...we need all of them. For marketing. For healthy competition. To suit the tastes, desires, and dollars of every consumer. Stop it. You hear me? STOP IT. There are enough hungry people to keep us all in business. By 2050 we are looking at 9 billion people on Earth. NINE BILLION. Not as high as our national debt, but still a dang BIG number. We need all the farmers willing to live the life. Stop taking cheap shots at each other. Everybody's gotta eat.

So...all that said. I want to make a profound point to the "nots."

Today's young farmers know exactly what we are up against. We fight battles that yesterday's agriculture couldn't begin to imagine. We are up against odds that you have never seen. We fight wars with the news, with the papers, with the internet, with OTHER FARMERS. We need support. We need YOU to change YOUR view. We cannot revert to the way things have always been. It is a death sentence. Check the numbers. Check the facts. Go to a school and ask 4th graders where there food comes from. I promise....there will be 10 kids out of 100 that might say that Grandpa has a farm with 25 cows. That will be the closest they will come to production agriculture. They will have no idea where the milk comes from before the store. The meat comes from the meat counter and the rice comes in bags. We need you to HELP us. Not discourage our involvement because you don't understand how we can listen in a meeting while fighting with our kids and working from our phone.

Our technology is what keeps us alive and keeps you fed.

I truly believe young farmers are starting to prove ourselves. We are starting to show the "nots" that this is a new era in agriculture.

I learned something during my hiatus. Mrs. Fancy Pants and I (she lets me help) have tried to plan meetings for our local YF&R (Young Farmers & Ranchers) group.  We plan, we arrange speakers, we promote, we have dinner, we beg, we bribe, we do whatever to make our meetings happen and sometimes the turnout is great. Sometimes, not so much. There are times when a meeting is over and we text each other something like "I'm so done. I'm not doing this anymore." And we go to board meetings and leave discouraged. And folks...we have a great board with really encouraging people and amazing opportunities. But knowing what we are up against is tough. And discouraging. The last YFR meeting we planned kinda smacked us around. We tricked a state employee to come talk about talking to the media and social media use, we had some cheap pizza, and we pushed the beejeezes out of this meeting. Facebook posts and shares, phone calls, emails, and word of mouth. Half of our regulars couldn't make it and we didn't think it looked too promising. We were surprised with a really good turnout and lots of new faces. NEW FACES! That is unheard of.

And those new faces got excited about promoting agriculture. They found inspiration from our speaker. They relayed how excited they were to be a part of something that encourages their involvement. And they had new ideas. And for a moment...just a tiny one....we had that thought, "We've never done it that way. It'll never work." And then we shut that crap down real quick. We will not be that group. We will encourage new ideas and new leadership and new faces.

We had this epiphany. We have been doing this for more than 10 years. We are becoming "the older generation." And while our opportunities to grow and learn are still abundant we have to get to a point where we don't continue to show up for what we can get out of it. We have to be involved so that we can give the new faces those opportunities. This is not about us. It is about them. It is about continuing to evolve while we grow a new crop of young farmers.

If you are involved in something because of what it can do for you. For the trips it sends you on. For the classes you can attend, for the donuts or the cake or the pizza then take a minute to consider what you can do with your organization to pass those opportunities on to the new guys. Give the new guys the chance to see what your organization can do for them. They need the encouragement. They are the link to the next generation.

If you want to know how to get young farmers involved and keep them...rearrange your thoughts. It can't be what is this organization doing for me? It must be what is this organization doing for them? How are we helping them? How are we encouraging them? Remove the constant negativity of what we can't do. Remove the thoughts about how much seniority someone has in the group. We pay our dues every day that we step foot on what God's given us to work. We want to learn from you not be pushed to the side till we are older.

We have busy lives. We ride a roller coaster for a living. Sometimes we just want off for a few minutes. THAT is something to offer....just a break. Just some time to express our ideas and exchange thoughts. Understand that our time is valuable. It is the one commodity that we can't produce. We multi-task for a reason. But if you can offer us a few minutes off  of our amusement park rides, let us know that you understand, that you are rooting for us, and give us room to grow, young farmers will make big things happen. With enough room and enough faith we can move mountains. The "nots" have valuable lessons and experiences to share. We want to hear about it and learn from it, and we need room to use what we learn and what we've experienced to produce amazing results.

Young folks and their ideas aren't a quota to meet. We aren't happy being set on a shelf to be aged like wine. We are full of dreams and determination and ideas. And those 3 things keep us alive. Those 3 things can keep important agvocacy organizations and agriculture alive if given the opportunity.

We want that opportunity.






P.S. I beg your forgiveness, once again, for dropping off the face of the Earth.
        And go like my Facebook page if you have a spare second!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Best Parents Don't Have Kids

Let's talk about kids. Y'all want to?

Kids are the ones that make this parenting thing hard. Right?

I mean we grow up and turn into (somewhat) adults. Sometimes. And we have it all together. Kind of. And then we have kids. We become parents. And it is joyous. It's miraculous. It is sweet slobbers and cuddles. Sometimes it feels like a nightmare. And you can't remember what you even did or had in life before your kids.

I remember bringing Milkmaid #1 home from the hospital and thinking, "Oh my gosh....the professionals let me leave that hospital with this tiny human. I don't know how to grow a tiny human. What were they thinking....!?!?!" 

And it is hard.

Because here you were...this young adult....walking around, having it all together and you are thinking (if not telling) that when you have kids they will not, under any circumstance ________. And you will not be allowing any _________. And that angel that you are in charge of will be the perfect kid. And we ain't having NONE of ________. Just fill in the blanks. You know you've said it...especially if you don't have any kiddos. I was an expert parent before I became a mom.

SURPRISE!

These kiddos come out of the dark and into the cold harsh light and immediately have a mind of their own. Holy. Crap. 

And then the professionals send you home with your tiny human and you are not at all prepared for what is to come. Because you can read every parenting book and every psychology book and every expert's opinion, but here is another surprise....this kid, the one you ended up with....there ain't another one like it. This one is special. This one has unique qualities and there isn't a how-to book in the world (short of the Bible) that can tell you how to properly raise your particular offspring. 

I'm gonna let all y'all in on a secret....lean in real close....are you listening?
Some days you are parent of the year, if by the end of the day, everyone is still breathing and has been fed. 

It's the truth. It is a win. 

And by the time your angel monster kiddo is an expert parent without any real parenting experience you will be able to tell what amount of damage success you have achieved.

Kinda like a really long experiment. Fingers crossed.

Now for me and the Milkman, any success we have had with the Milkmaids goes to God. Without our faith and God's grace I (maybe not the Milkman) would be in a padded room tied up in a straight jacket. Some days I'm not sure I shouldn't be there.

In my 9 years experience there are a few things I have learned. I know y'all are dying to know what they are:

1. It ain't easy. 
     It just isn't. Deal with it.

2. Pick your battles.
          If you argue, fight, and say no to, every single thing, you do nothing but exhaust yourself. I do not mean that you give in and allow the kids to make the rules, but parents don't always have to have their way either. For example: Milkmaid #2 wants an item (any item) at the store to be hers. And in the checkout line she asks the cashier "Can I hab my own wittle bag?" Do I think she needs her own bag...? No. But letting her have her own little bag makes her feel like she is helping me and I keep my sanity in the check out line. Today...they were out of little bags so she had starbursts in a big bag. That just wasn't the same, but it worked out. Don't let your kids make the rules. And don't let constant whining and screaming and fit throwing scare you. If you are in a battle with the monster angel and you have put your foot down...then keep your foot down. This is probably a battle you need to fight...so that you can avoid the war later in life. Understand that everything doesn't have to be a battle.

3. Your little person is their own little person.
       They come out with a mind of their own. They have a personality. You don't have to micromanage everything. This one is hard for me. Milkmaid #1 broke me, early on, of a lot of it. She is 9 and I cannot shop for her. Anything I bring home gets returned. She has her own style. And as long as she isn't trying to wear these clothes in her size that look like they belong on a corner in the red light district (yes...these clothes are in stores...made for little kids...and it's disturbing) I give her room to be her own person. Milkmaid #2 likes to pull her socks up over her pants and wear flip flops. This one is a little further for me to get to, but I'll let her wear it when we take sissy to school. Because we don't have to get out of the car and I'm the only one that sees the fashion statement. Your goal as a parent is to shape them into good people, into productive citizens, give them morals and values. And if socks and flip flops is what makes them happy...let them wear them. Even if it's only where you can see them. 

4. Let life be fun.
    I struggle here. The farm keeps us busy. And when you add school, ball, violin, church, visiting friends and every other activity in, we are living in that hurry up house. We are always rushing. And I am so guilty of forgetting that the Milkmaids need some downtime. They need to play and run free outside. They need me to have fun with them. For 3 days now I have listened to one song. On repeat. Thank you, Taylor Swift, for Shaking it Off...because I have taken time to dance with my girls. I have heard them sing the words to a song that might teach them a good lesson and we have had fun. It is hard in our fast paced world to just stop for some fun.

5. You cannot control everything. And if you try....everything will control you. 
    Calm down. There is a plan. You don't have to know it. 

6. Kids are dirty creatures.
    There is drool and spit up and snot and all kinds of disgustingness coming from all kinds of places. And there is dirt and mud and grass stains and food and things you'd rather not know about when your kids play. That first kid you have...it never gets too dirty. Then you realize a bath is easier than starting a battle that you didn't have to fight. Most kids like getting dirty. Mr. & Mrs. Fancy Pants kid...she doesn't like getting dirty...she has Mr. Fancy Pants to thank for that, but one of these days I'm gonna sit that kid in a mud puddle and give her a bowl of pink icing and teach her to get dirty. Milkmaid #1 never liked to get overly dirty, but now...you stick that kid on a ball field and she won't come out so clean. Milkmaid #2 is exactly like the Milkman....they can walk into a sterile room and come out with grease and dirt all over them. Dirt attacks them. It clings to them like a bald man to his toupee. Ive learned that it's okay to get dirty sometimes.

7. No matter what...at some point...you will open your mouth and your mother/father will come spilling out. 
    Holy cow. That first time you hear your mother is shocking. There's recoil. One second you are talking at your kid and the next your hand is over your mouth and you have forgotten why you were even saying what you were saying and you are looking around all stunned wondering where she is hiding. Come out, Mother! I know you are here because there is no way that I just said what I think I said. Eventually you accept that you have become a real parent and you will forever sound like your mother or father. Congrats when you get to this point....you're probably doing okay.

8. Giving things is not the same as giving love and time.
     It's deep. Just think about it.

9. Youth is lost on the young.
     Good grief. If I had all the energy my Milkmaids have I would get so much done! If you combined youth with experience and knowledge...imagine what could be done. Okay. Stop imagining...because some of you are thinking of things that are exactly the reason God gives youth to the young. 

10. You will say things to your child that you can't ever imagine yourself actually saying to a tiny person.
      "No. Do not eat that booger."
       "Stop biting your toenails."
       "Spotty Tiger doesn't really have to sit on the potty." aka take a bath in the toilet you just peed in.
       "Do not put that up your nose."
       "Did you just shove that whole thing in your mouth?!? Here...spit it out in my hand." stop it.
       "Don't lick my face." We aren't talking to the dog, either.
     
11. When you punish them...don't punish yourself.
       Saying, "You are grounded for a month!" may seem like a good idea at the time...but what it will really mean is that you will have a solid month of whining and asking the same questions over and over again. And when there is no TV, iPod, phone, etc you become the primary source of entertainment. And that is okay for a while, but for the love of pete...stop staring at me and read a book! Make the punishment fit the crime, but remember your role in the whole thing! You gotta be sticking to those promises too.
       
12. You are doing fine.
       You do not have to let your kid do everything they want to. They don't have to be involved in everything. They will not miss out because you didn't let them take dance or karate or piano.
      You do not have to feed everything organic or "natural." Some good old fashioned hamburger helper made with beef from the store is okay. (Probably not every night...that would get old.)
       You don't have to be "that mom" (or dad) that makes everything happen....She is super annoying anyway.
       It is okay if you didn't teach your kid sign language as a baby. Still a large possibility that your kid will be a productive member of society.
       It is okay if you did teach your kid sign language as a baby. Because that is pretty cool...
      
Kids are resilient. They are made that way. Once, right after Milkmaid #1 was born I dropped the phone on her head. It hit her ear. And I cried for an hour. I was a terrible mom. Guess what...she doesn't remember it. I won't forget it. We don't always get it right, but we are doing the best we can and that counts for something.

Parenting comes with a job description that is different for each kid. And it changes with every year that passes. It isn't always clear what you need to be doing, but have a little faith. There are parts that are the same for everybody and every kid.

Your job is to keep them safe. Teach them respect. Teach them love. Teach them kindness and generosity. Teach them to fight. They need to learn how to fight for themselves and for those who cannot fight for themselves. Teach them to stand up for what they believe in. Teach them that different opinions are okay. Teach them that there are bad people in the world. And that they don't have to become one. 

Parenting is tough. Life is tough. But you are doing fine. Keep loving. Keep praying. Keep giving. I just thank God for His grace. Because without it this house would be in all kinds of trouble.




Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's My Diary

I kept having this nagging feeling that I should do something. 

It went on for a year or so. I wanted to start this blog. But I wasn't very confident in it. I wasn't understanding why that feeling was tugging at me.

I am not really that person that puts things on the Internet that I don't want people to know. I don't air my dirty laundry on Facebook. I don't like to post vague status updates for attention. When I post on Facebook it is either a lengthy soap box edition or something that absolutely nobody thinks about the next day...or the next second.

I told my friends about this blog idea and they were, of course, encouraging. I have really good friends, y'all. They are awesome. They listen to that nonsense that I don't post on Facebook. They always tell me what they really think...even when it isn't what I want to hear. But on this topic they encouraged me to just start the dang blog already. I wanted it, God was working on me about it, and my girlfriends were helping. Mrs. Fancy Pants even volunteered to proof my posts...for free...because she's awesome....and because I don't get paid. But mostly because she's awesome. (...in case you forgot how awesome you are...consider yourself reminded.)

So I did it. 

I did it thinking I would write about farming. I am incredibly passionate about agriculture. About consumers and farmers finding somewhere to share methods, fears, and truths. We need to find a place where we can cut out the fear mongers and the falsehoods....just cut the crap and be able to talk without it being political or slanted. Back to when consumers and farmers had respect and trust in each other before someone trying to make an extra buck or two spread some nonsense and started a war between people that produce and people that eat. 

I could really go on a rant here, but I've locked away my soap box because this post isn't about just agriculture.

I thought this blog was going to be about my agriculture passions. 

And if you've read any of my posts....it isn't.

I am a dairy farmer's wife. The Milkman and I put all we have into our farm. Into producing milk. Into being a part of feeding our nation and the world. Obviously we are proud of it. Even though I didn't realize it at the time....the name "DIARY of a Dairy Wife" is quite fitting.

My little place here on the Internet isn't all about the farming. It is about our lives. About my thoughts and fears and beliefs and passions. I have poured my faith into this blog. I have talked about our farm, and the state of the world, and my values, and how I see things.

I have struggled. Sometimes that is why I don't have a post. I haven't been doing this long enough to really build a nest egg of posts. I don't have one ready to publish on the weeks I'm busy or have writer's block. Quite frankly...I don't do any of this like the pros would tell you to. I'm wordy and lengthy, and inconsistent. But, hey, I'm here...sometimes it's the showing up that counts.

I want you, my readers, to see things from my perspective. To feel what I'm feeling. To have an idea of what I am going through as I am going through it. Because this is my diary.

My most emotional post was the one I wrote when our barn burnt. It was very hard to write. It took me several days and lots of writing and deleting to get it out. It was a very difficult time. Not all these posts will have that amount of emotion.  I won't be able to reach every reader every time, but I hope that y'all will stick this out with me. I want to do something good with this little adventure.

I don't know why I named this blog "Diary of a Diary Wife," and I still wonder what in the world I am doing. And if anything I write even matters. I wonder if anyone is really reading it or if my friends are continually visiting the website to make me feel better about the numbers. (Y'all just keep that up if that's the case...) But I know God was working on me to start it...so this is me showing my faith with a blog. Seems like a strange way to show faith.

I'm going to continue believing that my blog will touch someone's life. Because sometimes we don't know why we do what we do, but God does. There is purpose in the things we do. And most of the time those things we do on faith are the ones that pay off the biggest.

I still haven't seen the true purpose for me putting this "diary" out for everyone to read (I pretty much ask why? every day), but there is one. I'm enjoying myself, if nothing else. 

Do what you are led to do knowing there is a purpose...even if you can't figure out what it is. What we don't know God does and it's important to show some faith. Even if it's by doing something that seems insignificant or silly. 

Just do it already! If I can fumble through this....you can do anything.

Thank y'all for taking this journey with me!



P.S. If y'all haven't already found me on Facebook there's a page under Diary of a Dairy Wife. I'd love to see your feedback or have you share the blog. Or you can just "like" it. Boost my ego a bit. Yeah...I'm human.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Diary of a Dairy Wife: September 11

Hey y'all! Remember me!?! I haven't forgotten you. You know those times where everything is going exactly the way you planned it and life is going smoothly and you are keeping the house clean and everyone is going to bed on time and your getting blog posts out and life is just perfect? 
Me either.

August 16 was my last blog post. That's been almost a month. Would you like to know why it has taken me a month to write another post? Me too. In that month we started back to school, had the county fair (if you don't know what that means to a parent with show kids I will explain later), The Milkman had knee surgery (that is a whole post in itself), and quite frankly the world appears to be burning. 

I have thought about blog posts almost every single day, but with everything going on in the world and in my little world my brain has been like a tornado. Some people have nice, neat file cabinet style brains. They can keep thoughts organized and in order. They can form one thought without seven more equally as important thoughts taking over. I am not one of those people. My brain is trying to keep focused on how to get through daily life and all of a sudden, out of nowhere 14,000 other thoughts sneak attack and it starts a full on war in my head. 

I prefer coherent blog posts....so I chose to wait until I was alone and it was quiet so that I could focus. I also chose to wait until I could hear God. Because when I can't sort my thoughts and the storm is raging....my God can calm the waters. The problem is usually me, and I feed the storm instead of listening to that calming voice. 

So here I am. I think I can put words to one of the elements in my storm.


Today is September 11, 2014. It has been 13 years. 

This day is one of those days where you put into perspective how very blessed you are. I didn't lose anyone close to me in New York 13 years ago. But that doesn't change the helplessness, the lost feeling, the sadness, the sickness, that comes with knowing what happened on our soil. I didn't know anyone that rushed in to save innocent lives, that survived, that made snap decisions that made all the difference. But that doesn't change the gratefulness, the pride, the patriotism that I feel when I think about those who spent seconds, minutes, and years making differences all over the world. 

In 2001 each person alive in the United States was changed. That horrific tragedy changed our lives and the lives of each American to come. 

We became aware of a war on the "infidel" that we didn't really know existed. We saw evil that we just shielded our eyes from because that was easier than knowing what was going on in those other countries. We saw evil that we didn't believe existed because we live in an American bubble. We didn't have to read the Bible or a newspaper or a history book to know the unrest because the unrest came to us. The war crossed our boundaries and it took innocent lives that were ours. And it was then that we didn't have a choice but to put faces and feelings with that evil. 

If you ask a Christian they will tell you that we are seeing the end of times. Jesus is coming soon and you better be ready. I won't argue that. The end days aren't going to be pretty or peaceful. People have been calling it the end of days since Bible times. Each generation dies seeing the world worse than it was...no matter how much better we try to make it. We cannot escape what has been laid out. Some call it fate and some call it destiny. Some people don't believe in any of it. I have a few friends who will take the Jesus part out of this blog because that part doesn't apply to their lives. And that's ok...because I have been told that it's my job to share my God, not to shove Him down everyone's throat. I am to spread the gospel and pray for folks, not tell them they are doomed for hell. Because, hey, I don't know their hearts. That's above my pay grade. I have a part to play...I'm playing it. God's got the rest. In Milkmaid #2's words "He can do it awww by hisself!"  (That was all free...no charge...it doesn't necessarily apply to the theme either. You are welcome.) If I hashtagged things this one would read #canyoutellimapreachersdaughter.

September 11 changed our perspective. We turned to God, church, government, friends, family, the Bible, anywhere that we thought we might find some answers and some peace. People that had no interest in news, tuned in. People without emotion, cried. People that had no desire to serve our country, walked into an office and signed their names on the dotted line to serve. We sacrificed in the days after 9/11 like we didn't know that we could. Prayers went up. Churches filled. We learned hard lessons. We gained a renewed respect for service men and women.

Here I am going to shift gears. Not only was my daddy a preacher, but he is also a fireman. He was a volunteer fireman for many years and for a few years now he has held a staff position at our local fire department. I have grown up around firemen, paramedics, and all kind of first responders. These guys (and girls) hold a special place in my heart. The guys that put their lives on the line. The first ones into a bad situation. The people that respond to terrible tragedies. These people see horrible things that you can't imagine. And on 9/11 lots of those first responders and police officers made the ultimate sacrifice trying to save anyone they could. They don't make a judgment call of who deserves to be saved...they just go in and rescue whoever they can. Don't forget to thank the people that rush into the fire and the people that respond to bad situations. Our firemen and police officers in every little town are heroes....even if we don't realize it. And for them...it's just what they do. Nothing more and nothing less. I am thankful for our public servants. 

Anyone that chooses to put their life on the line for my safety and my life is a hero. Our military mean and women do a job that I wouldn't even think about signing up for, our firemen, police, and first responders, anyone that volunteers to rush into the front lines. That list is short and incomplete. I'm gonna add one more to it. Jesus. Yep. Jesus. He gave His life so that when mine here is over I can spend my eternity in a peace that I haven't known on this Earth. In the times after 9/11 He brought peace and love in response to something ugly. He gave hope where hope couldn't be found. 

When you turn on your TV or your computer you aren't greeted with happy news and feel good stories. We are bombarded with hate and ugliness. We are being threatened all the time with evil and war. People are being slaughtered for what they believe. Some people's version of hell is played for them on a screen. The end times are coming...I may not see them and my grandkids may not see them, but they are coming. And it is ugly, but I'm not terrified. I am disgusted, but not broken. It has already been laid out. The victory will not be for a country or for a religion or for a few good people. The victory is The Lord's. The good will win over evil. There is not a single part of me that doesn't believe it. My God responds. My God will prevail. 

September 11, 2001 changed everything. It marked our country and our hearts. We became thankful for what we have. Thankful for those that stand up for us, for those that respond to horrific scenes, for those that make difficult decisions to defend us, for our lives. That day showed a strong nation that the evil was coming for it. And our strong nation stood together without irrelevant divisions and told the evil that it may come, but it wouldn't win. Our nation came together and many came to God that hadn't turned to Him in a long time. 

I remember that I was 18 years old. It was my first semester at college and I spent that 45 minutes of driving time rushing through traffic, blaring a new CD, not a care in the world. Until I walked into school and there were crowds gathered around the TVs. Tears and confusion. Sadness. And that whole day was spent watching news reports and terrible footage. And God was there. He was present and if you know Him, you felt Him. He was in every school and every office. He was in all the places we try to keep Him out of. He was there. He is still there. He never left....but our hearts have hardened from that open wound of 9/11. We haven't forgotten, but we have become callous to the evil and hate and we forgot that we need God. 

I have news...and it's better than whatever is on TV....We need God because without him...the evil wins.  The world is burning and Jesus is my first responder. 

That deserves a bumper sticker....

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What's Been Going On?

Hey y'all!! I'm alive! I didn't mean to go on hiatus, but August brings much excitement to our household. Back to school, Milkmaid #1's birthday, county fair prep, silage (again), and just general running around like crazy people. School starts Monday and I promise, there will be time for blogging again. 

If you have "liked" my Diary of a Dairy Wife Facebook page then you know that The Milkman and I took the kids on a camping trip last weekend for Milkmaid #1's birthday. She doesn't actually turn 9 until later this month, but her birthday always falls during the county fair, just after school starts and it's hard to have an acceptable celebration during that time. Don't worry though, she won't let us think for a minute that we have celebrated enough. We will have to go eat at a place of her choosing and there must be more cupcakes! 

Our camping trip was a classic kind of mini vacation for us. We were supposed to leave the farm Friday at 2 or so. The Milkman and the fellow "Choppers" that we do a couple of other farm's silage chopping for were chopping away and the chopper broke down. (that was a lot of chopping) Now this isn't shocking. If you have a farm you know that something will ALWAYS be broke down somewhere. This breakdown was one of those cussing, greasy, massive undertaking breakdowns. This was a down for  a couple of days kind of breakdown. And since The Milkman is one of the mechanics they proceeded to tear our chopper down and fix the problem. 

The Milkman and the other Choppers are quite handy. They fix just about everything that breaks on our trucks, tractors, chopper, and every other piece of equipment. There are problems that are beyond their expertise, but they can admit when they have been defeated. The chopper didn't defeat them...it just put us behind schedule. 

I'm not a scheduler. I'm not a planner. After 11 years of marriage to a dairy farmer you learn that planning something will only end in a cranky you and a broken plan. But for this camping trip I had worked my tail off and managed to get everything as done as I could all by myself. And I'm waiting. And I'm calling. And I'm cranky. Because we are late. 

The Milkmaids had already went to camp with my in-laws. They all went a day earlier than we did so I was ready to get camp set up and see the girls. 

And finally....at 2:30 in comes The Milkman. Solid black. Grease as thick as makeup on a drag queen. Well....that's gonna take some scrubbing. 

"Are you ready!!?" I asked him. Because....dang it....my plans are screwed up.

He wasn't very pleasant. No the chopper wasn't fixed. And he felt guilty leaving the Choppers with a broke down piece of equipment. 

And I just didn't think about how their day didn't go as planned. Their plans of chopping silage and getting close to finished were ruined. And when I realized it I felt really bad. Everyone had ruined plans and I was being selfish about mine. But he got home and.....

We still weren't ready to leave. The Milkman had to put out feed to the milk cows. 2 loads. A little more waiting. And while he was feeding the clouds start rolling in. And it gets dark. And darker. And the bottom drops out of the sky about the time The Milkman gets done putting out the feed and parking the tractor.

Now I still can't finish loading up because everything in the back of the truck will be soaked. So we come in, The Milkman gets in the shower to scrub off the mechanic makeup he is wearing, and we wait. And we wait. And it rains for about an hour. Not a light sprinkling rain, but an hour of a downpour. And once again, my plan for being there early, unpacking, organizing the camper, and getting all the supper stuff going was gone. 

We finally left the house about 4:30 or so. We got to camp about an hour later and it was time to eat. So I had to control my OCD and need for things to have a place to stay. And as it happened...we did not stop going the whole weekend. And I managed to live with the camper in a state of chaos. It didn't kill me. What a relief.

It did rain on us a couple of times. On Saturday it rained about 2-3 inches in a couple of hours. That was the only time we slowed down and I managed to get the Milkmaids to take a nap....and I joined them. 

We walked the trails, the kids fished, they rode bikes, ran around like crazies, and partied 'till the cows came home....or till we came home to the cows. 

And God taught me a few lessons. Lessons that he tries to teach me quite frequently, but I'm so stubborn they don't seem to take.

Life doesn't go as planned. We can plan and plan and plan, but if God's plan doesn't line up with ours then whatever we planned just isn't the way it's gonna be. Deal with it. He sees things that we cannot. We may be late to where ever we are going, but it may be the only thing that keeps us out of the 20 car pile up on the interstate. We may not get to go on the trip we planned, but it is probably in our best interest for some reason we can't see. 

I am not in control. I can work out every detail. I can arrange everything. I can spend time trying to control the details. And I will fail. I can admit that I have some control issues. 
I like for things to be done the way I want them to. I like for things to go as planned. I like to be prepared. But I am not in control. That's hard for a control freak to acknowledge and admit.

Guess what.....if you will allow yourself....there is fun to be had and beauty to be seen if you will let go of the control and the plan. 

Our camping trip wasn't ruined because we were late or because I couldn't get the camper put together the way I wanted. The kids had a blast. We got to spend quality time with some friends and some family. We had a killer dinner Saturday night with everyone....actually we had a lot of eating. Food is the main ingredient of a good trip. 

We are so thankful that we could get away for a couple of days and spend time with our family. It was a much needed mini vacation. Running your own business, being your own boss has its advantages, but when you don't get to leave it at work and just go home it puts stress on your household that you don't realize. We don't suffer from having the farm, but it isn't the kind of job that has a set of hours and outside of those hours is free time. It isn't always easy, but it works for us. These little trips give us some time to breathe and just be a family. We are thankful we have hired help that can be counted on when we are gone. 

I don't have another plan for a mini vacation again, but when I do I will try (keyword there) to be a little more flexible and a little less "in control." I should probably work on that when it comes to other things and not just the vacations....

If I can do it so can the rest of you control freaks. If you tend to control everything and feel the need to have everything planned out, I challenge you to pick a small task and step back from the plan and from the control and just pray that God will show you that He can make things happen without your help. It may surprise you. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where Do You Stand?

I grew up learning about the Bible. The beginning and the end parts of the middle, too. I grew up knowing that the end had been determined and that there would be wars and hate to go around before it got here. I grew up listening to (and still do) my grandpa (one of the absolute best men on the face of the Earth) pray, every time he prays, he prays for Israel. I didn't always understand why he said that. I didn't always know that we would see the beginning of the end, but my grandpa....he always prays for Israel and it has stuck with me.

There was a picture I shared on my personal Facebook page the other day. It was a picture of a newspaper headline that said "Their God changes the path of our rockets in mid-air, said a terrorist." The picture said that it was a headline overheard in Gaza and it was credited to the Jewish Press Staff.  I don't know what the papers in Gaza say. I don't even know if they are printing papers in Gaza right now with all the war and hate they have going on. What I do know is that the statement the headline makes is meaningful.

In America we battle if there is a God or not. We fight atheism. We mostly fight with other believers about doctrinal things that are of little consequence. We struggle with seeing God in places that God abides in. We have silly battles over things that in 100 years from now won't matter anyway. But in Israel they are fighting a war that we can't begin to understand.

I have not followed all of the news stories and quite frankly all that would do is give me slanted semi-truths. I am not a Bible scholar. I don't claim to be the know all of this topic. That's why this is a blog...my personal blog and I am allowed to share my thoughts and my perspective. Good for me. What little difference my blog will make on what is going on in far away lands.

I do, however, look at that picture shared on Facebook and it speaks volumes to me. "Their God changes the path of our rockets in mid-air." My first thought was, "Well yes He does. He can do whatever He so chooses." My second thought was, "Yeah! That's my God!" And my third thought was probably a little more profound and I can't get it out of my head. It was, "These people don't deny that "their" God exists....." And as an American that was one of the most shocking realizations. The terrorists (or as Pelosi refers to them- the humanitarian organization) (had to throw that in) have no doubts that our God exists. They have no doubts that He can change the path of their rockets. They have probably read the Bible and know the outcome of this war, but they fight for their cause anyway.

Lessons, people. We can learn lessons from both sides of this. What do we know of having faith in God that we go to war for Him? What do we know of giving all we have for who we believe in? And from the terrorist point of view...they are fighting a battle they are certain to lose in the very end. I can commend their dedication. They probably don't believe they will lose, but they have no doubt that "their God" exists. And "their God" aka my God says that He will prevail. His people will win. And with all my heart I believe that.

I believe that we are seeing the beginning of the end. I have no clue as to how long "the end" will last. Maybe my lifetime or my children's, maybe even their children's, but my God knows. And I'm so glad He is in control. I'm so glad He has the answers.

Let's not forget Israel. The battle that has come to them has come to believers everywhere. We have to remember Israel and its people. We have to pray for them. We cannot politic this because it is so far beyond politics.  We can't stand back and fight our irrelevant battles and forget about what is important. America isn't immune to the hate and the war. We just haven't recognized our part yet, but it is there. It's here and upon us.

I know where my heart is. I know to whom I belong and to whom my family belongs. I pray for those who do not know God. Salvation is an easy thing. Don't get so lost in the politics of it that you can't see the trees for the forest. The war may not be in our backyard, but it is one we should be concerned with. We would be a much stronger people if we could put aside our simple disagreements and come together, united for what we believe. It has been written. The end has been decided. I know where I stand.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Who is Brother Ben, anyway?

Sweet summertime. Is it August yet? Time for school to go back? My routine to come back into play?

I have had a really good summer. Milkmaid #1 went to her first week long church camp last week! She had a blast and probably could have stayed another week if we'd let her! We are so proud of the girl she is. I can't even imagine what the teenage years will bring with her. She's 8 and thinks she's 18. A lot of sass, some eye rolling, and big opinions.
She is a sponge. She soaks up everything around her and tries to understand things well beyond her eight years. Then she tries to use it against me. My little sweet girl is getting to that point where she fights with her momma. Who knew?

She asks crazy questions. As we are driving down the road we see people holding signs that say "no amnesty" and "impeach Obama" she proceeds to ask me what they are all doing and what that means. Have you ever tried to explain amnesty to an 8 year old? And what impeach means? You think you pretty much know until you are explaining it to a kid. Then you feel like the biggest idiot in the world. And one conversation leads to another one and by the end I had done my best to explain those things plus our welfare system and the IRS. That day was done....good grief.

But the kid is smart...she got it. Maybe. I should probably try to carry a dictionary and a set of encyclopedias around....Oh wait...I have Siri and Google. And don't forget the accurate info on wikipedia!

Milkmaid #2 is....well....2. Going on 12. She is a mess. The kid is just like her father. She walks outside and the dirt attacks her. She comes in after two seconds with dirt smeared on her face, sweat rolling, she looks like a hobo. And she thinks she's a pirate. As we are driving through the field trying to find The Milkman (aka Daddy) she says, "Hmmm...where is that scalawag?"
What?
Did my sweet toddler call her daddy a scalawag?
Milkmaid #1 is rolling.
I am struggling to keep going. I gave up. It was hilarious.

She frequently calls me a "codfish," tells me that I am "Cap'in Hook," and when I tell her to do something (pick up toys, laundry, whatever) her response has become, "Aye! Aye! Cap'in!"
It's all in good fun.
She was really disappointed that her "Izzy" (Jake and the Neverland Pirates) costume's pixie dust doesn't make her fly. She attempted that between beds at the hotel in Branson. It was a lucky break that daddy was there to catch her.

My girls keep us on our toes.

Things get busy. And it's hard to keep up. We try to go to church on Sundays and pray before we eat. It doesn't always happen, but it isn't so rare that the girls are surprised when we do it. I am trying to find some new routine for us. One of the things we started last year was that we say a prayer on the way to school every morning. Yes...while I drive and eat breakfast and tell everyone to have a good day, we also work a prayer in. Milkmaid #2 does a great job. She prays like a pro. Toward the end of the year Milkmaid #2 wanted to say a prayer too. She has one prayer. It doesn't matter what activity is going on. She says, "God is good. God is great. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen"

Let me not leave off the very ending that my family has said since the beginning of time "Amen, Brother Ben. Shot a goose and killed a hen." My great-grandpa Jake was a preacher, my uncle Raymond was a preacher, and of course, my daddy has it in his blood. Don't worry...it's ok to talk about a goose and a hen at the end, we got Jesus. I don't think He minds.

I have been trying to find some quiet time for myself lately. So that I can just spend it reading a few verses, reading a devotional, or just talking to God. The other morning I managed to get up long before I had to, so I sat down and read a chapter in 1 Corinthians and had prayer time. I asked God to help us be less of us and more of Him. I want my girls to feel Him in our home and know He's with us.

We haven't said many prayers in the car since summer started because our routine has changed, but yesterday, when we loaded up so I could take the girls where they were going for the day so I could attend a conference, Milkmaid #2 says, "We need to pay, Mom."
Pay what?
You know pay.
Pay your daycare? or Pay at Sonic?
No! PAY!
Milkmaid #1 chimes in, "Pay Memaw? What for?"
NOOOO! PAY! GOD IS GOOD. GOD IS GREAT!!!
OOOHHHH pRay!!
Yes!

This momma was on top of the world. I had just sat and prayed that God would help me know that I was doing an okay job. That I would be humble enough to allow Him to work in our home. That I would know my girls were learning to have faith. And He moved me through my 2 year old.

All 3 of us said a prayer. We gave thanks for our many blessings. We prayed for grace and mercy and love. We asked that we could be good examples for Christ. And Milkmaid #2 thanked God for our food.

Amen, Brother Ben. Shot a goose and killed a hen.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Diary of a Dairy Wife: About That Gap, The Unexpected Part II

I spent the last two days at a statewide Farm Bureau Federation conference. I have spent a lot of time at these different conferences. This particular one is called Officers and Leaders. It's goal is to inform and help to develop the organization's officers and leaders. I have attended this conference a couple of times and so many other leadership conferences. We always have general sessions with great speakers and workshops with lots of information. Overall you usually always learn a thing or two and meet some new farmers with struggles similar to your own.

My last blog post was about agvocating (yes autocorrect...I mean aGvocating) and trying to bridge the generational gap. This post is going to be a follow up to that. This year's theme was "engage" and focused on engaging the younger generations and how to keep them interested. This is a hot topic, not only in the Farm Bureau Federation, but in most other grass roots organizations. 

I have heard the question asked over and over again. I have heard an older generation ask where the young people are. I have heard staff members ask the same questions. Why can't we get the young people involved? What does it take? They won't come to our meetings. They don't commit the way we think they should. They don't respect how we do things. I would like to sort of use this forum as an open letter to anyone asking those questions and making those statements.

The Milkman and I have been involved in the ARFB (Arkansas Farm Bureau) since right after we got married about 11 years ago. We have attended conferences and meetings. We have gone on big trips and little trips. We have participated in leadership opportunities. We have received awards and recognition for our work on our farm and in the organization. The YF&R (Young Farmer's & Rancher's) program has allowed us to make friends from all over the state and some from other states. We have received opportunities that we wouldn't have had because of our involvement. Farm Bureau Federation is an amazing organization and we are proud to be a part of it.

It hasn't come easy. I have personally invited friends/family/acquaintances and anyone I could beg, bribe, or barter to come to our meetings. And sometimes I get one or two to show up. And time and time again they will come to a meeting or two and then nothing. They don't want to come back. And finally I will ask, "What happened?" The response I get blows me away. One particular couple had came a few times and someone from our group had said, "What are you doing here? Don't you young people have anything better to do than come to a meeting like this?" And the person that said it had no idea they were discouraging a younger person. That single question held the power to remove a promising leadership couple from our organization. 

I'm stubborn. I will not be ran off by someone that is so miserable that they have to say something so discouraging to a future leader. 

There are more stories like that and it happens in more than just my local organization. You finally convince someone to come just to have them completely turned off by the fact that someone wasn't welcoming, said something discouraging, or the fact that the business carried on is less than productive. 

My generation of farmers are under attack like agriculture has never seen. We are under fire from so many different directions that we just take cover and put every ounce of will that we possess into keeping our heads above water and out of the line of fire. We trust very few with the ability to protect our farms. We are so busy trying to keep up that multi-tasking is the only answer. We are only able to remember meetings because of an email or a calendar alert on our phones. I truly believe this is where the generations above us confuse us as being disrespectful. 

Are we sometimes inappropriate with holding our phones in front of our faces? Yes. Yet, we are also able to have instant information that would have taken days to get around before we all had it in the palm of our hands. We can gather and give information in a matter of seconds. If you are talking about an event in a meeting and we are on our phones it is likely that we are taking notes. We no longer need a pencil and paper to do it. We keep everything in one place.

The question is asked, "What can we do to engage younger folks to attend and be involved?" but the reality is that the person asking doesn't want to really hear the answers. The person asking that question will probably not like the truth. That is one of those questions I can give a watered down answer to, but it will get us nowhere. I will give the answer to that question. Are you ready?

Change.

It is black and white. Right in front of you. 

Change how, you ask?

As we get older we tend to do things in a routine manner. We do it the way we've always done it. I'm only 31 and I find myself using that answer. When a new member comes along and they say, Why do y'all do it like that? It would be so much more efficient to do it this way." and I say, "Because that's just how they've/we've always done it."

Guess what....it ain't working.

The average age of the farmer is going up. The numbers of folks willing to give their time is going down. 

My generation and younger have obligations on top of obligations. We want to give our time to worthwhile organizations. We have jobs. We have farms. We have kids. We have hobbies. We don't have time for all of those things as it is. We rarely spend time with our friends so it isn't likely that we want to come to a meeting or an organization's dinner to just hang out. We want to be productive. We want to make a difference. We want to change the way people view agriculture. And we cannot do any of that if we have no volunteers because we can't make our meetings worthwhile. And sometimes we need to do all of those things while we are sitting in a tractor rolling up hay. 

The beauty of technology is that, while face to face interaction is extremely important, we can still accomplish great things from our homes. From our tractors. From our barn. It isn't disrespectful. It isn't taking our obligations lightly. It is efficient. 

How can we get young people involved?

Change.

Change isn't easy, but if you aren't going to accept change you will have to accept defeat.

The message doesn't need to change. The tactics must change. The acceptance of new ways. The ability to put your faith in a 27 year old farmer is going to keep these organizations alive.

Do not ask the questions if you do not intend to hear the answers. I'm known for my soapboxes, brutally honest answers, and my inability to fake it. I wear my feelings right on my face. I am not a good actress. I see things for what they are and make no excuses for it. 

It is hard to convince young people to give up their time to be involved in more. Their plates are threatening to overflow as it is. We have to give them reasons to be engaged. We started our involvement wanting to know what Farm Bureau would do for us. What is worthwhile about the organization. As time has passed and we now know that this organization is worthwhile. We know that they work their tails off to make sure farmers have their rights. We know that our time isn't being invested in worthless activity. And the question of "what can Farm Bureau do for me" has become "what can we do for Farm Bureau?"

I think we get wrapped up in this nice package coming off an assembly line. We do the same actions, have the same responses, and never change things. And we forget to really look at what we are doing. After a while the packages get sloppy and the assembly line workers don't notice because they are just doing what they've always done. Sometimes  you gotta step back and look at that line and say, "Hey, you know what? We need some fresh eyes in here. We need someone that notices that the line isn't working. We need people that care about what we do." Those fresh eyes may change up the line a little bit, but the packages will sure look a lot better.

If you ask the question, "How do we get new people involved?" or "Why don't they come back?" Take a good look at your methods. Think about the way you looked a the younger person and how you treated them. 
Did you welcome them? 
Did you put them in their place...like at the kids table at Thanksgiving? 
Did you try to understand their way of doing things or did you just decide it was different and you weren't interested?

If you refuse to accept change, prepare to accept defeat. When you aren't able to carry the weight anymore there will be no one to relieve you. There will be nobody to carry on. Who could have imagined that agriculture would be under fire the way it is today? Think about what will happen if there is nobody to carry on the grass roots tradition. Without those roots there ain't no grass. 

My way of getting things done may not be the same as yours, but that doesn't mean it won't work. These younger folks want to feel like they are putting effort into something that makes difference. Give them the opportunity to do that. Loosen up on the reigns a little bit. 

My challenge to anyone asking how to get young people involved is to look past your way of doing things. Open up to trying something new or at least a new way of doing the same thing. If it doesn't work that's okay. And ask, specifically, what the younger folks need and actually listen to their answers. I don't like a watered down version of the truth so I am not likely to give one. Ask for the truth, be willing to listen, and follow through. Give us room to spread our wings a little...we may not fly, but at least we showed up.




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Diary of a Dairy Wife: Bridging the Gap: Commitment & Involvement

Agvocate. Do you know what it means? It is a new thing. It's one of those new words we've come up with because of social media and all of the technology at our finger tips. Agvocating is really nothing more than advocating on behalf of agriculture. It has become quite a big movement in my little world. Farmers and those interested in farming have come around to accepting that we need to share our stories. As a rule farmers like to be fairly private people. We don't really like being out in the middle of things...we don't like sharing things because we aren't in our business for praise or fame. Farmers haven't ever had to explain themselves because people used to know what a farmer does. People used to believe in the people feeding them. There wasn't an all out attack on the hard working people feeding America. But thanks to social media and technology and fear mongering advertisement farmers are moving out of their comfort zones and are learning to share their personal stories of hard work, practices, love, and hate of the profession that chose them.

There are so many ways to agvocate. My blog is an example. My Facebook page, personal and blog page are how I agvocate. I love telling our stories. I love talking about the facts and myths of agriculture. I am not always knowledgeable on every aspect of ag, but I am always interested in learning more and teaching more. I have friends that shock me sometimes with what I thought I have taught them and they end up asking me something that makes me think..."really? I didn't make that priority? I gotta up my game!" I have lots of farmer friends, but also lots of non-farmer friends. And when there is a hot button issue...believe me....they get educated quickly. I get a little passionate.

Another way I agvocate is to be involved in our local and state Farm Bureau Federation. There is more to Farm Bureau than insurance. If you are a Farm Bureau member (you don't gotta have their insurance) you pay yearly membership dues. That yearly fee goes to help the organization fight for farmers and their rights. They have educational programs, lobbyist, staff, promotions, and so many benefits you can't keep up. It really is a good organization that has done so much for farmers and the agriculture industry. I would say that without the organization farmers would be in pretty bad shape in some places. If you aren't familiar with your state/local organization I would certainly encourage you to check it out...you end up getting benefits that far outweigh your dues.

( Arkansas Farm Bureau website: www.arfb.com ) 

Our involvement in the last 10 or so years has been more than just paying dues. We have served on state committees, participated in amazing leadership development opportunities, and been involved on our county board and women's committee. We have learned and grown so much in our few years. The Milkman and I both have gotten far more out of our involvement than we could ever have put in. We have made more friends and business connections than I can count. I promise there isn't a chance we would take any of these years back. That's not to say, however, that no problems come with our volunteering.

There is a HUGE generational gap in farming. The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 57. That is about 25 years ahead of the Milkman and myself. And that's an average....so if you think about it the gap is far more than 25 years. Consider the technological differences we have now compared to 25 years ago. There are few things that are done the same way. Think about the differences in what was acceptable then and what is acceptable now. Think of how long it took news to travel, how committed people were, how 25 years ago very few people knew what a computer was much less had one in their homes and we certainly weren't connected by "the Internets."

This gap is in lots of occupations and organizations. And this gap makes getting things done dang near impossible. My generations wants things done fast. We want to do things on a massive scale. We want to do it in the most efficient way with the most efficient tools we have. We aren't opposed to the "old school" way of doing things, but we know how today's world works. We know that one tiny little slip or slow reaction ends up on everyone's news feed and YouTube within seconds. Things. Move. Fast. 

I'm not saying that the older generation is slow or that they don't understand or even that their way is wrong. Or even that every person belonging to that generation is opposed to today's ways. There are plenty of times where we need to slow down and look around and take into consideration that the older generation kept our family farms going. We need to be considerate of those who kept agriculture alive when things were desperate and so difficult that getting up in the morning was hard to do. 

On the flip side of that coin...I have seen so many of my generation quit and be "ran off" because the older generation refuses to change. Some refuse to allow any younger generation to learn, to lead, to help move us into today's fast paced world. We don't expect everyone to use a computer, or text, or Facebook, or YouTube, or even email. We don't expect everyone to be willing or able to master today's technology. We do, however, expect some respect for the fact that today's agriculture is facing the biggest attack that agriculture has ever seen. We expect the older generation to help us along with all of the knowledge they can bestow upon us and allow us to use today's technology to make things happen.

I don't want to leave out the fact that I have several people that would fall into the "older generation" that have become my friends. They have been supportive and willing to put themselves in uncomfortable situations to help me when I was having a hard time. The generalization I am using isn't meant to say that there isn't any cooperation. I am so thankful for the people that have stepped over the gap from both sides and made some progress possible. The reality is that those willing to straddle the gap are few and far between, but I hope to be a part of solving that problem by helping to understand the problems and encourage commitment to bridging the gap.

In our state I have many young friends that also lead in their counties. They face the exact same challenges that I do. My generation likes to multi-task. And we aren't feeling useful until we have about 10 huge projects going on all at once. Our heads spin constantly. We check our phones all the time. We are making progress when all others see is "wasted time." Here's the thing...we are farmers first. Our farms WILL BE FIRST on our list of priorities. We will not neglect our family or our livelihood for anything. We are not at the point of retirement or even close. We have to move as fast as the world moves around us to be successful. Today is not the same as it was 25 years ago and it will never be. It will change. It will evolve. It will move on with or without us. And we refuse to allow it to leave us behind. 

My generation of farmers believes in doing things to better ourselves and our world. We want to be involved. We want to change things. We want to get along and make everything work for the success of our industry. And the thing that I hear that causes more damage to our industry is something that is said and thought constantly. Do you know what it is?

"It's the way we've always done it."

That makes me a little sick to think about. It isn't working. The way it has always been done hasn't protected us from activist groups. From people who believe that conventional agriculture is the devil's spawn. It hasn't kept government regulations from choking us out. It hasn't stopped lies and falsehoods that threaten my very way of life from being printed or showing up in a news feed or on the nightly news. The world has changed and so must we. The train is moving...get on, get off, or get out of the way.

I have personally had my share of hurt feelings and disappointment. I have lost sleep and been sick over the way someone treated me or another person I invited to participate in different events. And most of the time it was because someone didn't understand why something was done or why it was different. I have learned, though, that I can't let it run me off. I can't let it make me quit. I can't let it make me lose sleep or take from my family. If I quit and let a little bit of stubbornness discourage me then I will not only be hurting myself, but also my industry. 

One time I said something that must have made sense. It was something about one voice being a whisper, but if we all speak together we become a shout. And a shout can be heard. We can't expect a generation of hard core, wise, in it for life folks to understand all of the changes we want and need, but we can do our best to help them understand the world we live in. The average age of a farmer is 57. They can't run us off and expect agriculture to survive. We are the next generation. The next ones to be a little stubborn and set in our ways. We are needed. We are absolutely necessary for the future. There is very little middle ground, but that middle ground is the only chance we have. A house divided cannot stand. And an entire industry depends on our ability to bridge a generational gap that is, at least, the size of the grand canyon.

I am not retired. Not even close. I do not have free evenings, free days, free weekends, or time to spare. I have priorities and demands and a farm and family that will get my first shot at attention. I have the ability to work from my home. I have the ability to manage several things at once thanks to the Internet, my phone, and my computer. This may not be the definition of involvement and commitment from 25 years ago, but it certainly is the picture of commitment in today's world. 

I will put everything I have into organizations that help secure the future of my farm. I will give my all to make sure The Milkmaids have the opportunity to farm the land that the Milkman has kept in his family for a few generations. I will not give up, give in, or give away my right to fight for my livelihood. I'll always protect what I love.

Agvocating isn't always easy, but it is always important. I teach my children that it is important. They will grow up telling our story. They will grow up defending our farm. They will know that they cannot let a little adversity get in the way of their  success. 

Take the time to evaluate where you stand on the things you are passionate about. Make sure you are one of the folks helping things move along and not the one chained to the John Deere model B demanding that we not move on. (look it up...I had to) We are all on the same team. We all want agriculture to succeed. Is it such a hard thing to give up "the way it's always been" to keep agriculture alive? I would hope not. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Dairy of a Dairy Wife: Excuses, Jesus, and Hammocks

Okay, okay. So I’ve let myself (and maybe you guys) down a little. My goal was to have at least one post a week, but I missed last week. I have lots of excuses. One of them is that we actually got to go on a mini vacation. The Milkman, Milkmaids and I went with my family to Branson for a few nights. We got to go to Silver Dollar City, Dixie Stampede, and do a little shopping and a lot of eating. It was really nice to go do something as a family. My other excuse is that it’s summer. That means the Milkmaids are both home almost every day and I have to do the taxi driving thing where I drive us here and there and this camp and that lesson or appointment. 

When I write most of my posts I have to sit down and focus and finish the whole thing, but that doesn’t very well happen when my two Milkmaids need me every few minutes. Not really NEED me, but don’t you know that the best way to get the attention of your children is to sit down and either look comfortable or start doing something that you would rather not be interrupted doing. That is making it rather difficult for me to focus, but it by far ranks in the top 3 of my favorite distractions. 

So here I am…sitting in the car with my laptop, at violin lessons. Milkmaid #1 has been taking lessons for almost 2 years and Milkmaid #2 hates coming. Luckily Grandma Moo-Moo keeps her for the 30 minutes we have lessons. Heaven forbid #2 be trapped in the car while #1 works on her violin playing skills. Then again…if #2 is with Grandma Moo-Moo I get that 30 minutes to try to read, do a little work, or type up a blog post for my sanity and your entertainment. Thank goodness for the little things!

Summer is going way better than spring so far. The rain has kept coming fairly often and the crops keep growing, Praise The Lord. We still don’t have the barn completely finished, but it works. We have been able to get the Milkman a new (to us)  farm truck and just today we (he) got a new (to us) tractor. Sometimes you find a deal you can’t pass up and you drive halfway across the state to get it! The Lord has just blessed us beyond belief. You have to sometimes realize that you aren’t just taking the bad with the good, but the bad brings the good. If you allow God do to what He does best and quit trying to interfere He makes things happen that you can’t even dream up. 

By all accounts we should have gone out of business. Yes, milk prices are (luckily) good this year and cattle prices are outstanding and feed prices are lower than they’ve been in a while, but with the dwindling number of small dairy farms and the incentives to sell out (high cattle prices) not many folks would have rebuilt. And as I reflect on how this year has gone and all the decisions we had to make without much time to think about it I know that we did what God had planned for us. It was by design that we have 2 good friends in the dairy business so close to us that could handle our herd and that we had so many neighbors and friends that helped us. I have no doubt that we still have our farm because God has a plan for our lives doing what we love.

I have said it all before…and maybe you’re tired of hearing it, but that won’t stop me from repeating myself about my faith and love for God and what He’s done in my life.

I have a hard time seeing how people don’t believe in God and don’t have any faith. I have friends that are agnostic or just don’t really believe that there is a higher being. They know my faith, and know my belief, but it is difficult for me to understand them not having one. I was obviously raised in church and my family has a strong faith base…a long, long line of it so I am a little one sided on the topic. I have made it known before that I completely understand why people wouldn’t want to go to church and why people wouldn’t want to call themselves a Christian. We don’t make ourselves a very desirable people with all our judging and hypocrisy….so I completely understand that, but the part about not believing in anything? I can’t say it seems “sad” because there have been times when it seemed like it would be easier to believe nothing. But I don’t think I could go from the faith and belief I have to believing in nothing. 

The only reason I have faith in humanity is because I have my faith in God. We are without a doubt, the most destructive creatures. We easily hurt each other and disregard what we are responsible for. The only redemption I can understand is God. 

Sometimes it just comes down to the end for me. If I am wrong the worst that will happen is that I spent a lifetime believing in something that didn’t exist and then I die. End of story. If I’m right….people that don’t believe and haven’t found salvation suffer an eternity of hellfire and misery. I tend to be someone that weighs consequences heavily before making a decision and maybe that’s why the previous argument would be enough to make me search for some truth and I’d be hard pressed to disregard it completely. On that note, we, as Christians, should be a little more excited to spread that little bit of eternity information….lots of people will be wishing we told them, or that they’d listened when someone did.

As Christians we are supposed to go out and spread The Word and live as good examples of Christ and we aren’t always very good at it. I’m not. But I want to be. And as much as I believe I do this blog for me, I know that I wouldn’t have done it if God hadn’t laid it heavily on my heart. I am not a Christian writer, but I hope to use this to share my faith as well as my life and loves. 

I hope you will all forgive me for missing a post last week….I was busy being momma, dairywife, daughter, taxi driver, and all those other things. The Milkman did see me sitting in my new hammock one day last week and began writing a song. He was singing “Oh, it must be nice to be a dairy farmer’s wife!” and he was belting it as he drove by the backyard with a load of mixed feed. I could hear the beautiful melody over the tractor and the mixer wagon. As much as his tune might fall out of his bucket from time to time it was beautiful to me. It really is nice to be a dairy farmer’s wife. Thank God that it is nice even when it isn’t easy. Those hammock days are few and far between, but somehow the Milkman always sees me at those times…