Friday, May 30, 2014

Diary of a Dairy Wife: What's it Take?

I am not a farmer.

I don't have all the ingredients it takes to be a farmer.

If I were to list some of the ingredients it takes to be a farmer that list would include the following:
      *Ability to work in all weather conditions.
When The Weather Channel has the warnings and it says something like, "long term exposure may lead to death" the Milkman steps up to the face of death and still feeds, milks, and tends to the cows. I stay inside and I may use the Milkmaids as a legitimate excuse, but I'd find another one if I didn't have them.

      *Willingness to work extremely long hours (even in extreme conditions.)
I'm out. I will do physical labor when necessary. I will help out. I will work a day or two of long hours, but continuously...No. Thank. You. The Milkman can have it!

      *Love of everything outdoors.
I mean pretty much everything. I like pretty weather, sun, blue sky, white puffy clouds, puppies, calves, cows, the equipment. But I don't like cow manure, the smell of chicken litter, 105 degrees, -5 degrees, rain, lightening....especially lightening, birds...ick, The Milkman loves being outside and he doesn't mind any of the things that make me cringe.

      *The ability to fix just about anything.
I can fix supper. I can fix a slinky, I can fix hair, but planes, trains, and automobiles? I'm out. The Milkman can fix just about any piece of equipment we have on the farm. Probably because everything we use predates us by a few years and it was before computerized everything. He doesn't do the big jobs, but he can do maintenance on anything and make repairs on just about everything.

This one I can say that I am a part of. Farmers LOVE the land they farm and the animals they have. The land, water, and air are things we can't just make more of. The land we farm on has been through 3 generations of The Milkman's family and other people's families before that. In our area there isn't much affordable land that we could add to ours. We take good care of what we have. Farmers want to pass their farms on and if we make bad decisions in the care of our resources then there will be nothing for us to pass on to the next generation. We will have nothing but ruin to show for all our hard work if we don't take care of what we have, and considering a farmer's pride...we just won't do things we can't be proud of. Farmers care about every part of their farming operation. And while this is a soapbox topic, we really don't need a governmental agency regulating things that they have no understanding of. We chose to be ahead of the regulations that we have, but the government keeps reaching its arm out to places it needs to stay out of. (I will stop there before I get on the box.)

There are so many more ingredients that are required to make a farmer, a farmer. And that list doesn't include all of 'em.

I may not be a farmer, but a farmer's wife I am.

It takes a special person to be a farmer's wife. Apparently I was cut out for this job. I will list a few ingredients of a farmer's wife:
      *Willingness to drop everything (and hurry).
When the Milkman is at another one of our farms and he breaks down, I get the phone call. It either contains the words "come get me" or "go to [whichever] parts store and get this, this, and this" and are supposed to stop, immediately, and go to whichever parts store and tell the man (treating you like a 5 year old girl) that you need this, this, and this and be prepared for said man to ask you 100 questions you don't know the answer to. This is the part where you explain that you are a gofer (gofer this and gofer that) and you either tell the man to get the *explicit* parts, or you call your husband and ask him all the man's questions.
-You will also drop everything when it is lunchtime, suppertime, snack time, or cold beverage time.
-Sometimes you will drop everything because The Milkman comes in with half his leg wide open because he couldn't make his feet move as fast as his brain and he slipped off the loader bucket and can we just get a bandaid? No, dear, what you need is 20 stitches and a doctor. But after you drop everything, he returns to the tractor because...well someone has to put out feed.

      *Ability to wait (and wait.)
Because when you date/marry a farmer time to go out to eat isn't normal. We go when the work is done. 9pm? McDonalds is still open. Is it summer? Sonic is open 'till midnight! Fine dining. And on the odd night that the work is done at an appropriate hour and you go to mean we have to WAIT to get a table? I should have worked a little later and we could have got right in. Oh yes...waiting must be hard on you, farmer. And when you go to the doctor and she says, "You are dilated to a 4 and we consider that active labor go to L&D and we will admit you." The Milkman replies, "Can we go home first our bag?" What he really meant was, "We will be back in about 5 hours because I need some lunch and I have to go home and get all the work done while my wife folds 500 loads of laundry [waiting] on the cows to be fed." True story. And guess what...some days the waiting sucks, but it is always worth it.

      *Are you a planner? You are disqualified.
The furthest in advance that you can plan is supper, maybe. Vacations? Do not pay a deposit. You will regret losing that $500. Everything we "plan" is with friends that either don't mind if they have to go wherever without us, with other farmers that fully understand our occupational hazards, or without the Milkman. Most of our friends have always understood that we cannot make plans and we will let you know within the hour before departure if we are certain we can make it or not. Sometimes it changes within that hour. If you get distraught because when things do not go as planned, you will have a very difficult time living with a farmer. Don't by tickets to that concert unless you can make peace with the money you spend being lost. Usually we make things happen. We make the concerts or the plans with our friends, but vacations are too far. We go if we can throw stuff in the car and head out. The Milkman and I have been married for 11 years. We have been on about 3 actual vacations. We may do a weekend or a 3-4 day trip, but a full blown vacation is not a yearly event.

      *Willingness to throw on your boots/running shoes with whatever outfit you may have on.
There will be a time when you look out the window and a herd of cows is standing in your front yard. If you have your PJs on your rubber boots will look exquisite when you run outside to chase cows back to wherever they came from. Inevitably it will be in the rain. You will splash mud and whatever gifts they leave behind up your backside. Just be aware of that when it is Sunday and you have just come in from church and the bovine are greeting you after services. Sometimes spray and wash doesn't get that out.

You have to love your farmer with every fiber of your being. There will be times that you are mad or that you feel neglected. If you marry a farmer you marry him knowing that the farm isn't more important than you, but it will come before your desire to go see a movie, go to a wedding, visit your family, or anything else. The farm is as much your farmer's love as you are. I may feel a little neglected sometimes, but I my sane brain...(whenever I can find's long hidden) that The Milkman loves the farm and he loves it for me and the Milkmaids. He loves it because it is part of us and it provides for us and without his constant attention our farm doesn't function. So as much as The Milkman loves our farm, I love him enough to let him do whatever he has to, to keep us up and running.

Being a farmer is a hard, dirty, demanding job. I don't want it. The farmer's wife has a tough job too. She may not get dirty or work all day in the extreme hot or cold, but she puts her heart and soul into her farmer and he puts both of their hearts and souls into seeing their dreams fulfilled. My job may not seem like much of a job, but when you break it down, it ain't easy. It is awesome. And I love it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

These Ducks...They Don't Stay in a Row

I'm struggling.

I am having a bit of writer's block with this blog.

We have been running in 500 different directions between finishing the barn, first silage season, and ball season. Everyone is busy. 

My brain feels jumbled with what I need to do, where we need to be, how we are going to get there, did I forget a kid? Our school still isn't out...we have a week left. It's overwhelming.

I need to write something, but by the time I sit down I'm beyond coherent words. Seinfeld or the Community with Joel McHale is on and it's 10pm or so and I'm beat.

Trying to fit in a blog post lately has been impossible. Rubik's cube impossible....

There is one of those pinterest pictures that talks about seeing all those moms doing everything and I'm over here thinking, I should have her do some stuff for me. That is exactly how I feel. I try to get stuff done, but somehow I never quite get it done. It's become a give and take. And I'm starting to take a little more and give a little less. For instance....normally I don't go to bed with dishes in the sink or dirty clothes on the floor. I spend all my time trying to keep it all done. The whole time thinking something like, "when this is done I can sit down with the kids and enjoy some time with them AND a clean house." I've been telling myself this lie for about 8 years now. But tonight...I sit in bed typing this at 11:08 and there is dirty laundry by the door and dishes in the living room, the sink, and I didn't get that pan washed after the award winning hamburger helper meal I cooked.

Then there's another one of those pinterest things that says something about how cleaning your house with kids at home is like shoveling snow in a blizzard. Yep. Right here. It's a white out and I'm in my comfy pants and bleached shirt shoveling the crap out while it piles up behind me. When it's all done....that's funny. It. Will. Never. Be. Done. Till it's done, that is. And then it won't matter.

Reading this blog makes it seem like I spend a lot of time on pinterest...I could probably give it up and spend some more time cleaning up. Or working out. Or meal planning and prep. Or gardening (ha. who am I kidding.) Or alphabetizing the can goods. But I'm not gonna. You see, I'm learning...slowly....that the house won't be clean as long as my kiddos are here. And when they aren't here anymore it will be clean and I will wish for someone to make a mess.

No. That probably isn't true. Because when the Milkmaids outgrow us and move out I will still have the Milkman. And He is about as messy as the Milkmaids plus one or two. But I won't have tiny mirror hand prints or little pairs of socks laying around. And the hair brush that the 8 year old Milkmaid is always leaving in her room, will stay right where I put it in the bathroom. And as much as I wish I could keep it all cleaned up, I know I will miss it.

This is all pretty humorous because I'm not all that maternal. I didn't cry when Milkmaid #1 went to kindergarten. Well...I kinda did, but I blame it on the hormones...I was about 6 months pregnant with Milkmaid #2. I don't long for another tiny baby like most moms do. I don't think..." babies are growing up." I don't miss diapers or formula or nights, oh the long nights, or trying to figure out what hurts while the tears flow from both of us. I'm not good at baby books or thinking about how this is the oldest Milkmaid's last year in primary school. That's just not how my mom brain works.

I beg for the independence of my children. I enjoy them most after they are potty trained and can eat whatever is on the table. When I don't have to carry a bag full of bottles, clothes, pull-ups, pacifiers, teething rings, or baby food. Milkmaid #2 is potty trained and has been for probably 9 months. She is 2. She tells me exactly what she wants...sometimes she demands it...and she does whatever the rest of us do. It is awesome.

Don't get me wrong...I love me some baby love. Someone else's baby. Someone else's spit up. Someone else's alarm that goes of fairly often. I love a baby I can hug and cuddle and maybe feed and then return to its rightful owner. But my friend's or sibling's babies don't give me baby fever. No sir-ee-bob. I have been vaccinated and am immune to baby fever. If God said, "Hey Cassie, you need to have another baby." I would say, "Please" But we all know he would win out and I would follow his plan and love it....but I would long for the full nights of sleep and no more diapers. We are baby free for (we'll say) 1 year. We can celebrate monthly. Like companies with no accidents.

Another thing...Milkmaid #2 has some terror tendencies. She is one cute little turd. She has to be. Big brown eyes and red hair, chubby cheeks and fat little legs. If she wasn't so cute it'd be all the easier to go mad. She is a rotten mess. A cute rotten mess. My friends laugh at me and I call myself "the meanest mom in the world" because we have wooden spoons in the car, in my purse, and in every room of the house. You would think I regularly beat the kid with a wooden spoon. Truth is, the Milkmaids have never been truly spanked with one. But if you so much as lightly touch it to #2 she screams like the demons have taken over and an exorcism has begun. I have no idea why...but the words "wooden spoon" cause her to stop whatever naughty behavior she may be engaging in and "Sowwy Mom" to come from her lips. It's almost amusing...poor kid.

Milkmaid #1 has always been a pretty easy one. She was a super baby and her terrible 2's more closely resembled cute TV babies. They leave out the tough parts on TV. She has always been good. Then she went to school and it took her all of 2 days to learn that she is smarter than me. And nosey...good grief she is like a reporter with a press pass and a recorder...Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? She is a also very cute. The same big brown eyes as her sister, hair to her behind, and almost as tall as her momma. Well...that isn't saying much, but she's 8 for Pete's sake. Mrs. Fancy Pants and I have decided she is a misplaced child of the early 90's. She likes color, side pony tails, and being overly dramatic. I can't even make up some of the stuff she comes up with. This kid, though, has a heart the size of the United States and feelings that get hurt so easily and every single emotion shines through those huge brown eyes. It's heartbreaking sometimes, but also good to know she cares about others.

I am so thankful for the two Milkmaids. Those girls have completed our lives and make them interesting and fun. They give meaning to the word LOVE that I never understood before. I couldn't have been blessed with more fitting chillens than the ones I have.

Moms- It's OK to go a little crazy. To think your little ones will put you in an early grave. I'm convinced they have that ability. It is OK to give them hamburger helper (with beef that isn't free range & grass fed.) It's OK to want a clean house, but give up that pipe dream for piled up laundry and a Netflix marathon.
Most of the time the only person putting so much pressure on you is yourself. And if it is someone else...well, you don't need that kind of negativity. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to use organic (more on that later), you don't have to make it to the gym or the laundry room every day.

My house may be a little neglected...and I may go to sleep tonight with dishes in the sink...but my kids got bathed, fed, and loved on before they went to sleep and that will be a far better memory tomorrow than going to bed with a clean house and a half absent mom. My brain is jumbled trying to keep track of everyone and where we need to be, what time, and what to bring, but I know what's important and the rest of it can wait if I need to spend some time with my Milkmaids. Everything else will be waiting for me when I'm not so busy, but these girls will be grown before the house stays clean or the yard stays mowed.

My ducks may not be in a row, but they are all alive and well. That's winning, right?

Monday, May 19, 2014

30 Days

30 days. We watched the barn burn, watched the momma cows be hauled to other farms, tore down and rebuilt in the time between April 13 - May 13. It was fast. It didn't go by fast. Every day drug by. The Milkman worked about 20 hours a day, every day, with few exceptions.

There was one night after we painted that we managed to convince the Milkman to take a break. There wasn't much we could do with wet walls and Mrs. Fancy Pants (she's in a band) was singing at a restaurant in town. The Milkmaids were missing daddy pretty bad and we couldn't wait to get around to go eat and enjoy a little quality time together. We had a quick stop at Lowe's to get some odds and ends we needed to work on the barn and went on to the restaurant. The Milkmaids had a blast! We met Fancy Pants and Baby Fancy Pants (for real, ruffles and a huge bow) and ate and enjoyed our night. The Milkman struggled to keep his eyes open, but we had a good night. It was a really bright spot in the journey that I know we will all remember. 

The barn still needs lots of work before it is done. The bathroom and break room have to be built in and finished, there isn't any shelving, and the wall around the milk tank isn't finished. There is a lot of painting that needs to be done and there is only one door. The other door still has to be finished. We have to get some heating put in before winter and the back sliding doors where the mommas come in and out have to be built and installed. There is still a long way to go. But the mommas are here! All the equipment is working and we are all glad that we survived!

I just can't get over how much we learned about ourselves and others. How people around us stepped up to make sure we made it through and helped us move forward. It is humbling to have seen it all unfold. Life would have been simpler if the barn hadn't burnt, but I think the experience was worth going through.

There are around 70 dairies in the state of Arkansas. That's it. Most people would have sold the mommas and threw in the towel. Cattle prices at the sale barn aren't shabby right now, but we couldn't do it. We have 40 years of hand chosen genetics in our herd. We couldn't stand the thought of our mommas going across the scales and auctioned off. The industry is doing pretty good right now, but it never lasts. Dairying is hard and if you want to do it you suffer through some unimaginably hard times. But the Milkman is intent on spending his life doing what he loves and I am intent on being right beside him. The thought of not having our farm anymore isn't a thought we had. 

We have suffered through some extremely tough years. Input costs are beyond imaginable to keep a dairy running. We buy commodities (corn, hominy, distiller's grain, cottonseed, etc) at retail. We buy alfalfa (because we can't grow enough good quality here) at retail. We buy all of our land management supplies that allow us to produce our own forages at retail. Any supplies we get on the farm, in the barn, or for the cows is all at retail cost. We sell our milk at a price set by factors we have no control over. We are at the mercy of the weather and the pricing orders that are beyond understanding. When the rain doesn't come and the corn crop is poor, we pay top dollar for the feed we need. When there is too much moisture and the alfalfa can't be put up or it's too dry and there isn't enough to cut, we pay top dollar for that too. When we are dry and can't put up our own forage we are at the mercy of the market to purchase what we couldn't produce. We never know what the year will hold or if we will even make a dime.

The price you pay for a gallon of milk has no true reflection of what they pay me for a raw product at wholesale price. There are lots of middle men that get their cut. Another factor in our ability to make a profit is regulations. The agencies that regulate and put the rules in place don't always understand what they are regulating and I'm not sure they care. We pay fees and permit costs every year just to be able to farm. They are always changing requirements. And anytime they make very big changes we get to pay for whatever upgrades they require. Out of pocket. There are programs that give monetary assistance to comply, sometimes. They never cover 100% of the cost and they require tons of paperwork and phone tag and farm visits, but we do everything we can to help alleviate some of the stress on our income. 

Some years are good. The weather cooperates, feed costs are tolerable, and milk prices are acceptable. Those years aren't near often enough, but we appreciate them when they come around. This year The Lord has blessed us with good milk prices and enough feed (so far) and we are so thankful. If we were having another 2009 (dairymen just pretend that year didn't exist) we would have had to sell out. We could have never been able to rebuild and keep our mommas. We are just beyond grateful for God having a plan that kept us milking. 

I can't say enough "Thank Yous" to anyone and everyone that showed up to help, to the other farmers that milked our cows and allowed a facility for them, to everyone that read about us and prayed, to those who helped in every way imaginable. There aren't words....

We are so glad to be back. When you drink your milk (which I hope is often), eat your ice cream, add cheese or butter I hope you take a second and think about what goes into dairying. We work tirelessly to get it from our house to your table.

What can you accomplish in 30 days? With lots of help, we did the unimaginable.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blurred Lines

This is going to be one of those soapbox posts. It is going to be a tough one to write.

There used to be lines. Clear ones. They were defined. They were black and white. It used to be easy to know exactly how you felt and exactly how to express it. There also used to be more narrow minded people in the world.  Narrow minded in the stubborn sense. Narrow minded meaning that condemnation was quick. Judgement was strict and harsh. It was a simpler, clearer time. Those are gone. Days of the past. And it isn't all bad.

Today every line is blurry. The black and white muddles in the middle to gray tones. There is no toeing the line. There is no tidy sense of right and wrong.

We are all guilty. You, me, everyone. Guilty. We sin. I am a sinner saved by grace paid for by the sacrifice and blood of God's only son. I am a sinner. You....yep...talking to are a sinner and it ain't pretty. 

We all have vices. Some people steal, some are addicts, some people just can't help themselves but to lie, for no reason at all. Some folks watch things they shouldn't, think things the shouldn't, hurt others just for the sake of hurting someone. Bottom line. We are all fighting our own battles. Each person has their own demons to face. Some people are born with those demons, some barter for their demons, and some people create their own demons. 

Here in Arkansas today you can't turn on the news, open up Facebook, look at twitter or a newspaper and not be slammed with same sex marriage. It is insane how the media has taken the topic and filled every nook with it. It's like that foam in a little spray fills an entire hole because the stuff just keeps growing until there isn't room for any air, not an open space to be found. 

I have stated my beliefs on here, on Facebook, to my friends, my family and anyone in between. I believe that same sex romantic relationships are sinful. I also believe that God gave us all free will. We are all able to make our own decisions because we are granted the ability to do so. I believe that marriage is sacred. Let me make something really clear though, as sinful as same sex marriage may be, marrying someone that you have no intention to spending your life with is just as sinful. The institution of marriage means nothing to so many. I believe that divorce is a sin. If you took your vows and promised "till death do us part" and then let your marriage go, you are as sinful as a same sex couple. You are as sinful as the thief, the murderer, the junkie, and the liar. And I am as sinful as the rest of you.

We can't accept abortions, adultery and divorce and condemn same sex couples. We shouldn't be condemning anyone. We are not judge and jury. 

Quite frankly, we have made the institution of marriage a joke. What is the divorce rate these days? It is ridiculous. Thing is, I am not condemning you because you are divorced. I am just as much a sinner as any of you. This is not me judging. I am simply saying that as Christians we have become accepting of some of the things the Bible calls sinful. We pick and choose which sins to fight over. 

I have been reading Romans. It's a good book. I got to Romans 14 and since last night I have read it 3 or 4 times. There is a lot there. If you can take a few minutes I would encourage you to check it out. The whole thing stands out, but this is good stuff:

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 

On one hand we have all of these sins named in the bible. Divorce, same sex marriages, killing, adultery, lying, not obeying your parents, jealousy, are all sins called out by name. We don't have the authority to judge because someone is guilty of it and we [think we] know it. We don't know their heart. If you believe, in your heart, that something is a sin...then to you it is a sin. Don't do it. If you know better and do it anyway you get to answer to God, not to me. And if it is a sin in your heart that doesn't mean it is a sin in everyone else's. We each own our own demons and we get to take them up with God.

It reminds me of the saying, "Don't judge me because I sin differently than you."

I guess my point is that life is blurry. The black and white that I live by runs through me like blood. Someone else's lines may run a little different. Their black and white may be gray. I don't waiver from my black and white. I don't change to make anyone else comfortable. I don't like making excuses for my sins or anyone else's. God speaks to each of us in different ways. I'm sure that I interpreted Romans 14 differently that bible scholars and preachers. It doesn't change that a sin is a sin is a sin, but it shows us that we don't need to micromanage everyone's sin. God has that part under control.

We need to step back from our own black and white to see a whole picture. That's not to encourage you to test the water and blur your own lines, but to encourage you to notice that God may have placed someone else's line in a different spot. It doesn't mean my opinion has or will change on divorce or same sex marriage. It just means that I will do my best to not judge those situations. I will pray and ask The Lord for guidance and for the right words. I am going to teach my children right from wrong. Some may call me a bigot or narrow minded, but saying that about me doesn't make it true....I rarely live up to the name someone else calls me. I do not hate or judge anyone for their decisions, but that won't make me support or embrace them either. 

Life is tough. The grey we live in is difficult to maneuver. We are brought up with a sense of right and wrong, sinful and not, black and white and it seems easy to apply. Then we become adults and political correctness is shoved down our throats and what was sharp becomes dull. Don't let the world change your lines and don't blur someone else's. Let God do His job, I'm sure it's much easier when we don't interfere. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Just Keep Swimming

We are getting close! I feel like we are with Dory. "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!"

We fired up the barn yesterday and everything seemed to work. That isn't to say that it hasn't gone off without a hitch. We have had a few set backs throughout this whole process. A couple days the wind blew too hard for the roofers to get the metal on. We had a couple of rainy days, although those weren't unwelcome, we are very dry and need rain! But it did set the blockers and some concrete back a little bit. Overall everything has gone pretty smoothly.

We have been blessed with decent building weather, really good friends, family, and neighbors helping us out, and the ability to move quickly from one part of the project to another. Our barn was a double nine parallel. That means there are nine cows on each side of the parlor side by side. We could milk 18 cows at a time. When they poured the concrete for the new barn it made enough room to add a stall on each side of the barn, making it a double 10 parallel. We got almost all of our milking equipment from other farms that no longer milk. The Milkman and his helpers (his dad and Fancy Pants mostly) ran all over God's country, from barn to barn, hunting and gathering pieces. We have one of the bigger barns around and adding an extra stall just raised the number of items we would need to finish. Somehow the Milkman managed to find 20 of all the same things so they would match. It has really been amazing to see things fall into place.

We got the closest dairy supply company to come out and get everything installed. They have worked and worked to get it all in so we can get back to milking ASAP. The whole process has taken less than a month. It will actually be a month on the May 13th. We are so excited to get the mommas back and milk them in our new barn.

We have one big hold up. Our tank. If you know much about dairy farming, you know that the tank is something you cannot milk without. The milkers go on the cow, the milk runs through the lines and into the tank. The tank is hooked up to cooling units that immediately start cooling the milk to 36 degrees and keep it there. We had a hard time finding a tank big enough to handle the volume of milk that we produce. In our old barn we had a 2250 gallon and another tank that held 1000 gallons. We were looking for a 3000 gallon tank. We found a few, very few. We had friends and other farmers looking everywhere. Finally we decided to get one hauled in from Kentucky. The Milkman talked to the guy that had it a couple of times and he assured us that the cooling units were in good, working condition and that everything worked last time it was hooked up. We didn't have a lot of choice, but to take his word for it. We talked to a few of the guy's other customers and he had always done them right. Good sign.

The tank got here and seemed ok. We set the tank and the cooling units and called our favorite heating and air guys to come hook us all up. They came out in a hurry because they knew our situation and wanted to help us get back to milking. They gave us the bad news. One of the two units didn't even have all the parts on it and the other one *might* work. To get them in working order would cost a few thousand. Unhappily, we just ordered 2 new cooling units. That added a few thousand (unintended) dollars to our rebuild. Not good. Not only were the units bad, the wiring in the control box was burnt up and one of the parts that keeps the milk agitated was froze up. It seems that the seller wasn't quite honest.

This whole thing has been quite an experience. We have learned things about ourselves, people we know, and people we don't. We have been overwhelmed with help from people we never knew cared. On the flip side of that coin we have been disappointed in others that we thought would be there for us. People show their true colors in the face of a tragedy. They show their level of caring, compassion, or lack thereof. It never fails that people you don't even know will show up in support or to take advantage of a desperate situation.

I would like to think that the world is a better place than that. That people don't use someone's hard time to make a few dollars, but they do. There will always be someone looking for an opportunity to take what they don't earn. We just can't focus on those kinds of people. We have to find the good.

When Dairy Carrie shared my blog post I saw an out pour of support from people I will never meet and I was brought to tears with other's stories and offers of prayers and support. It was very encouraging. I will chose to see that as the majority and the sorry people as the minority. [insert plug for Dairy Carrie's blog! She is a cool one to follow! Check her out!]

I have learned that a lot of the disappointment we face has more to do with ourselves than with the ones we are disappointed in. We put expectations on people that they have no intention of living up to. We expect better because we would be willing to go the extra mile for those people. We form an opinion, based on what we see and how they talk. What you end up learning is that a lot of people talk the talk, but the walk is a different story. The thing that makes the disappointment easier to cope with is the ones that step up that were never in your line of sight. The ones you didn't know had any interest in your happiness or success. The people that show up to be supportive when they have no reason to. Those surprises are what makes the hardship easier to work through.

I have every intention of calling out the seller of this tank. I'm not exactly sure how to handle it, yet. It will depend on a few more tests of the tank. We haven't established if the tank will actually work now that we have dumped lots of extra money in it, but we will know soon. That will help make the decision on how we move forward.

Prayers are still appreciated as we finish up and get all our mommas back home and broke to the new barn. We are still swimming and have no intention of stopping. We will continue and be stronger on the other side.

On a really bright note...the oldest Milkmaid accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior in her new milk barn. She is so excited and we are so proud. We are taking that as a good sign to start up the barn. That is something that can never be taken away from her and the memory will forever be with us and in the barn.

"Sometimes we expect more from others because we would be willing to do that much for them."

Momma Knows

"Mom!" "Momma!" "Mother!"

"I pooped."

"I'm hungry."

"I need you to take me to...."

"I accidentally walked across the glass coffee table and...."

"I'm thirsty!"

"I don't want to!"

"I'm bored."

"Where is...(anything and everything)"

"I need a band-aid!!"

"There is something sticky/nasty/dirty/gross on the floor. What is it, Mom?!"

"He/She is looking at me!"

There is a "mom response" to each and every one of those quotes above. Moms are forces to be reckoned with. They know what's going on before it is ever brought to their attention. They have an answer for every question, even if it isn't the best answer around. Moms come with built in voice detectors. Mom's know when your attitude is flaring up and an adjustment might be necessary, or when you are serious about something. As well as voice control, they can put meaning into any word with simple voice inflection. Middle names....given for the sole purpose of getting a point across.

Moms. They wear many hats. I could list the jobs they hold. And tell you how much each job would be worth, if they were in the market for another job. I can tell you that it may look easy, but that's because we are experts. Or we are good at faking it. A lot of both at my house. 

Every job I've had to do and every strange/bothersome/stressful question I've ever had to answer has been completely worth it to watch my Milkmaids grow up. 

I'll be honest....being a parent is the absolute hardest job on the planet. Take a hike crab fishermen. When I was younger, especially those teenage years, being a parent looked awesome. "I can't wait until I can do whatever I want." "I can't wait until I make the rules." "I will never [insert whatever my parents wouldn't let me do/made me do.]" This was supposed to be easy. I was supposed to have keys to the world. All the answers. Nothing could hold me back. And who comes along to ruin that all? 

Reality. That's who. 

I was lucky. My parents were good ones. God put me in a home where I was loved, and disciplined. In my house we learned love, compassion, commitment. We learned to fiercely defend our family members, friends, and anyone that couldn't defend themselves. My parents loved (still do) me and my brother with fiber of their being. We were taught God's love and sacrifice. We weren't rich or famous or had everything we wanted. My parents said NO. They taught me to be independent (even though they will tell you I was born that way) and that I can do anything I put my mind to. 

Above all that, I knew that my parents were (and are) proud of me. They always encouraged me and challenged me to be a better person. My mom is an amazing lady. She has always been every definition of a mother. The adjectives I could use to describe my mom just wouldn't do her justice.

Mom, Thank you for always being a good example and a voice of reason, even when I didn't and don't want to hear it. I love you more than I can say. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!!

To all the other mother's out there: Happy Mother's Day! You may or may not be a mother in the traditional sense, but someone is looking up to you. Someone is loving you. Go ahead and enjoy your day!

Mothers...keep on keeping on. You have all the answers. You know where everything is. You might be the behind wiper, the disciplinarian, the finder of all things and feel unappreciated, but you are appreciated. You are loved.

Happy Mudder's Day!!! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

On the Run

They got me. I got caught.

Stinkin' allergies. I was doing so good. Taking my medicine was hit or miss. Sometimes I forgot. Too busy for remembering. No matter, the allergies were staying away. They were afraid of me. Not anymore.

Today I suffer the full force of the tiny particles that bring grown men to their knees. Crying like babies. Well, maybe that is just the itchy watery eyes, but out grown men. They will come for you too.

All the itchy eyes, raw throat, glassy eyes, semi-one nostril breaths, sneezes, that noise you make when you are trying to pull the stupid thick snot out of your head so you can spit that crap out. We all do it. Don't even get grossed out. Don't be a snot snob. Don't pretend your thick snot doesn't get stuck in your head too. We all know it does.

Allergies always lead to one thing for me....a sinus infection. The pressure and the ick. Lord help. Not only is there thick snot, but it is green. In case you didn't notice the snot'll turn green and mock you. "See me now, dontcha? I will NOT be ignored!" And my poor kiddos when they get it. It is green all over their face and their pillow and the kleenexes. Holy stars. My kids are kleenex ninjas. Whole box of kleenexes. Box empty. Just like that. Blink of an eye, turn of the head and we are O-U-T of the soft puffy saviors of noses. Well now we are down to paper towels. Because Heaven forbid we move on to toilet paper. We CANNOT run out of that.

The Milkman doesn't like to go to the doctor when he gets the curse of the green snot. He prefers to run to the local vet supply and grab some fishbiotics. I have a friend the same way. (You know who you are...I don't even have to say your name. You are reading this thinking "she is talking about me!") Yes. I am talking about you. Apparently they do the same thing for you as a real antibiotic only it takes a little longer. I don't know. I'm not a fish. I don't take fishbiotics, but that's your prerogative. It hasn't killed the Milkman or the unnamed yet.

She really should get a name. Without this particular friend I really wouldn't have this blog. She encouraged me, pushed me, gets first read and edits my posts. She needs a name. HMMM.... I call her husband Fancy Pants. Fancy Pants has been here with the Milkman every single day since the barn went up in flames. He's worked his fancy pants right in to work pants. Maybe I will just call her Mrs. Fancy Pants. She also has fancy pants sometimes.

I got off track. We were discussing snot. And allergies. Between working on this barn, keeping the jungle in our yard tamed, playing outside with the Milkmaids, and softball, my run from allergies was doomed. I was bound to be caught. So I have successfully taken enough antihistamine, decongestant, and ibuprofen to function. I will prevail. Even if I have to sacrifice and get a shot in the butt (well the hip, but the Milkman always teases the kids about getting a shot in the butt.) My head may feel a little swim-ish, but I can breathe and my eyes aren't red and puffy. That is certainly a win in my book.

Every year people start saying "this has been the worst year for allergies." Every year allergies suck.

You'd think we would develop an immunity to pollen. Nope. The pollen wins. I'd get a vaccination for that. Could the government fund that, please? Instead of some of the other ridiculous research they pay for. This would be worthwhile. This would benefit humanity.

What do you do to combat allergies? I'll try anything. Maybe not anything. I've not resorted to fishbiotics for the sinus infection yet. Yet. I'll wait and see what long term effects the Milkman and Mrs. Fancy Pants suffer from!