Thursday, October 22, 2015

Oh! The Humanity!

Let's say you have a sick kiddo. Fever, cough, congestion. Let's say it's pneumonia. You take that kid to the doctor. Doctor says, "This isn't good. Let me give you some medicine to clear this stuff up." 
Now, you can get that prescription filled. You can take your kid and the medicine home and give it to them and they will miraculously get better. Or, you can walk out of the doctor's office, call that doc a quack, take your kid home and watch your kid either self heal or die because their lungs can't function properly. I'm not saying every case of pneumonia will kill someone, but what I am saying, is that left untreated, it can. It can keep you from getting enough oxygen to your organs. Nothing good comes from that. Or, fluid could accumulate around the lungs and that calls for drain tubes and hospital stays. You could get bacteria in your bloodstream. (All of this info is coming from Mayo clinic website, under complications of pneumonia.) 

If you take your kiddo to the doctor and they give you medicine and you chose not to use it and your child dies from the illness, what do you think would happen? Or, what if you didn't take your child to the doctor at all and they lose their life over it? It would be sad, but would DHS come for your other children? Would you be charged with neglect? Endangering the welfare of a minor? I don't know. You never know. There have been people lose custody of their children for not properly treating illness. 

There are very few people, sane ones anyway, that would deny antibiotics for their family if they are sick. You want your people to be healthy. 

And just like you want your people to be healthy, farmer's also want their animals to be healthy.

Animals were put on the Earth for a purpose. We are to care for them, but they are a source of food. They were put here to feed us and farmers were put here to assist in that. But, that doesn't mean that farmers don't see value in their animals or love their animals. 

The fact is we do. If anyone walks out of their home every morning with the purpose of feeding the world, they don't see just the money or a meal. They walk out of their door knowing they have a purpose and a job to do. Farmers walk out their door with faith because there are very few factors they can control on their farm. The weather, feed prices, pay price for what they grow, are all things we have to make do with. We can't control how good a crop turns out or if lighting strikes half the herd. We can't control all of the illness in our animals. But we can treat them.

Antibiotics cost money. We don't just walk around with syringes full of medications "pumping" our animals full of it. That would be a waste of money and animal. In more than one way. Any animal treated with antibiotics has to be kept out of the food supply for a specific period of time so they can be well and all of the medicine is out of their system. If we treat a cow with pneumonia or mastitis with an antibiotic, every drop of milk that cow produces will be disposed of. It does NOT go into the milk tank. If a beef cow is treated with antibiotics, it must be kept out of the food supply until the antibiotics are out of its system.

Wait. Hang on. Am I saying that there is NO antibiotics in meat? That the labeling is unnecessary? That you are getting one pulled over on you by companies that make claims and then raise their prices because, well, someone has to pay for that "non-GMO, antibiotic free, hormone free" food? Yep. That is exactly what I am saying.

That goes against the entire narrative that is being pushed doesn't it?

Let me ask you something. The information you see on the interwebs about antibiotics in our food, is it coming from a farmer? A large animal vet? Anyone qualified to give out said information? Is it coming from a blog or a meme or a group with an agenda that you probably don't see because they aren't transparent?

If you don't treat your child and your child dies that is NOT okay. If I have sick animals and I don't treat them that is NOT okay. 

Take a look at something for me. The groups that are all about animal rights aren't all about animal welfare. Those are 2 different things, aren't they? Farmers are all about animal welfare. We want to treat a sick animal that is in our care as best we can. Sometimes that is to give them antibiotics so they can get better. Without that treatment, that animal will die. They will lay down and labor to breathe. They will die an agonizing death. Do people really expect the farmer that cares for these animals to just sit back and watch that? To do nothing? Just because someone said that treating animals with antibiotics is bad? Yes. People do expect that because a talking head on the internet or TV told them they should. And that is personal. 

So, Subway and Chipotle and all the other restaurants that are caving to the con that is being pulled on them have lost my business. Spreading the fear and lies that farmers don't care properly for their animals is beyond ludicrous. Listening to people that are unqualified to make these claims over the voice of a farmer is a personal attack on myself and all other farmers. 

If you don't think there is an attack being made on animal agriculture you live under a rock. There are many groups out to end animal agriculture and they are willing to go to any lengths to make that happen. Lies, deceit, collecting your dollars that you generously give and using those dollars to further an agenda they are hiding in the fine print. Then you buy into the bologna from the people with TV shows and book deals and diet plans that make claims they have no business making. You think those folks aren't making a pretty penny with their fear mongering and bull? You better believe they are. Not only that, they are conning you into buying certain brands because of a label that entitles them to charge you a little bit more. 

Ask yourself this question. Who is winning in this deal? You? No. Farmers? Certainly not. The guru? The author? The TV person? More than anyone....those last 3 are getting something out of the fear mongering that the rest of us are missing out on. 

The United States has the safest food in the world. We have an abundant, affordable supply. Those are things advocates are supposed to say. We say them over and over. The thing is, we are telling the truth. Our message never changes because it is true. 

The folks pushing their own agenda about antibiotics and hormones in the food supply have something to gain. Farmers have to farm so we can eat. We farm differently than we used to because we have to change with the times. We have to be successful or we are all going to starve. That doesn't mean that we are mistreating our animals. We are giving them the same care that you would want for your people. We treat them because we care about them. We care about consumers because we are consumers. We eat what we produce. 

I'm going to encourage you to talk to farmers. Ask the people that get up every morning with the purpose of feeding you. Do not google a self proclaimed "expert" on the subject before you find a real expert. Farmers aren't trained in everyday PR, but you better believe that the "experts" are. Farmers don't have an angle or a spin. Farmers do what they do. And that is feed America by taking care of their animals, by caring for them with every resource available to them. Our animals become more than a paycheck or a meal. Our animals are our livelihoods and our way of life. They teach us as much about life as the people in it. 

If you think it would be horrific to leave a child or family member with a treatable illness untreated, please realize that we feel the same about leaving our animals untreated. Don't buy into the deceit and popular marketing out there. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Stop It

I have a lot of pet peeves; I'm cranky like that. But there are things that should stop. Immediately. I'm talking do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Stop. It. Now. 
I have compiled a tiny little list of 6 and the reasons why. This particular list doesn't even include my top 3 or so, but some of those aren't things I should share on a public forum. I try to be fairly friendly on this blog. Key word being "try."

Lets get started.

1. Body shaming. 
    Yes, yes, we all know it's wrong. We don't need to be judging people. But what about ourselves? You gotta stop looking in the mirror and pointing out (to yourself and anyone who listens) every flaw you can find. I have been trying to teach the Milkmaids that we are made in God's image. We are made to be who we are and we need to love ourselves. Do we sometimes make decisions that change what we look like? Absolutely. Can we make better choices? Yes! Should we take care of ourselves? You bet. But just talking about how awful my love handles are and how big my ears are creates problems not only for myself, but for the Milkmaids. If I can't be happy with myself how do I teach them to be happy with themselves? I'm not saying you (I) shouldn't work to lose a pound or two. I'm not saying that you shouldn't cut or color your hair if it makes you feel better. I'm just saying...we should be happy with the bodies we were given and do our best to take care of them. 

2. Comparing our lives to everyone's Facebook life.
    I really hate it when they are advertising a movie and it looks hilarious but when you go pay $477 to get into the movie theater and have some popcorn, M&Ms, and a drink, the only good parts of that movie were in the trailer. That completely sucks, right? This is what is happening on Facebook. You see the trailer of people's lives. The high points. Nobody wants to post a status like, "Today I woke up, tripped on my dog, fed the kids, made the bed, wiped a butt, cleaned the drain, thought about drinking, bought groceries, cut my finger, messed up the tuna casserole, made everyone eat it anyway, gave baths, drank, went to bed." Ok...some people do that, but those aren't the people you're looking at thinking...."Crap. If only my life was that awesome." or "I wish my husband/wife/kids were like that." or "My life sucks compared to theirs." No...but you do see those posts about how fantastic someones life/job/husband/wife/kid/dog/car/house/boat/bank account is and you get a little depressed that you aren't that awesome. Don't. Just stop it. Seriously. They aren't posting about their bad times. Their life is also mundane. They also wipe rear ends and trip on the dog. Just stop. 
And if you're the one only posting about how fabulous your life is...well...Congrats. You win Facebook. 

3. Teaching kids that they should be the center of the universe. 
    No. Just no. Stop this immediately. My kids, your kids, Joe's kids, Sally's kids...nobody should be feeding their need to be the center of the entire universe. Stop. The world is a really harsh place. And if you are making your home revolve around your child's every desire you are setting them up to fail miserably in the world. It is absolutely okay for your child to be the center of YOUR universe. But you don't have to let them know that. It can be your secret. Because they won't ever be the center of anyone else's universe. Their friends, teachers, bosses, spouses, etc will never and shouldn't ever be expected to put aside their feelings or dreams to make sure little Jim has everything his heart desires. 
   Love your kids. Love them to infinity and beyond. Make sure they are taken care of and nurtured. If you really love your kids, though, you will teach them that the world is a hard and disappointing place. And we don't always get everything we want. And people don't do exactly everything we want them to. Give them responsibilities and hold them to it. Give them discipline. Make them respect others and make them earn rewards. You can do it. Even when they try to manipulate you and say, "You don't love me!" tell them that you do love them, and that is why you have to be the teacher. Because if you aren't teaching them these things...the world will. And the world doesn't love them.

4. Carrying parent guilt and/or parent shaming others
    These go hand in hand. I have friends that lay so much guilt on themselves that I don't know how they make it through the day. Your kid will survive if they don't get to go to every party, sleepover, school function. If they don't have every cool toy, social media account, electronic, cool shoes, or pink hair they will make it in the world. You do not have to feel guilty because you can't afford or won't allow your child to do everything they want. You don't have to feel guilty if you work. You are providing for your family. You don't need to feel guilty if your child isn't the center of your universe. You don't have to feel guilty because what you did for one child you can't do for the other. You don't have to feel guilty because last night you were busy and everyone ate spaghetti-o's and Doritos. I wouldn't make that a habit...but sometimes it is okay. You don't have to buy organic. You don't have to buy name brand. If you don't get every item from the farmer's market....nobody's life will be negatively impacted. You don't have to do every PTA fundraiser. You don't have to allow your kids to do everything that everyone else is doing. You just don't have to.
    While you are busy not feeling guilty for everything you do as a parent, make sure you aren't judging other parents that are putting all of their effort into surviving. Some parents don't get to go to their children's functions. Sometimes it's because they don't care enough, but it might be because they are working their 3rd job of the day so they can provide for their family. You might not know their story. Not everyone can afford or wants to waste their money on certain types of food or certain brands of clothing. Don't judge. If that mom over there doesn't allow her kids to go to or have sleepovers, you don't have to follow her footsteps, but you don't know her reasons. Maybe that mom was molested at a sleepover as a child. We never know the reasons for people's choices. Do your best to make your decisions based on your feelings and let everyone else do the same. Just stop with the guilt and the shaming.

5. Thinking every toilet is an automatic flusher.
    This is how it goes...slowly open the door of the public restroom. Walk in and bend down to see if there are feet showing. Open one stall door. Make an awful face because that one isn't flushed. Open the next stall door and think, "Holy mother...what DID they do in there? Not flush...Lawd have mercy. Open the next stall door. Give up and raise your foot to flush the lever. Wipe seat. Hover as best you can. Wipe seat, lift foot, flush. Or if you're one of the people that think all public toilets are just walk out. That causes the scenario to just start over for the next person int he bathroom. 

They aren't all automatic.   

Really. They aren't. I realize the magic of today's world is put into a stall in a public bathroom. You stand up and feel like you are about to be sucked into oblivion because the toilet sounds like what a black hole must sound like at 2 feet away. But not every single public area has accepted the magic of the automatic flusher. The fear is that if you turn around to check the status of the automatic flusher it will immediately start that swirl and the force might be enough to suck you in with it, but we must face those fears and check the toilet. If it doesn't have the automatic flusher, you are safe, but required to put your foot up and push down the lever. So do this: Finish, turn and check for the lever, if there is a lever use it, if there isn't walk out, wash hands, and try to avoid touching the door handle with your bare hands, then probably sanitize. Bathrooms are disgusting. Even more so if every thinks the auto flush is always present. Be brave. Be bold. Check for the lever.

P.S. A tip for when you are potty training toddlers and they are terrified of the auto flush: Carry post-it notes in your purse and stick it over the sensor while your tiny human potties. You should probably remove it when you're done though...because there won't be a lever and a person wouldn't know that they needed to flush and the above scenario will occur. 

6. Being offended.
    This is just standard for a DairyWife post. Just stop being offended by everything. It's a choice. You don't have to get your boxers in a bunch because someone does or says something you don't like. Put on your big kid pants and act like a functioning adult. And for the love of all that is holy...don't get offended on someone else's behalf. Good grief. We don't need everybody running around all whiny, not only because someone offended them, but also because they think somebody else should be offended. The world needs different opinions, personalities, beliefs, and feelings to survive. Suck it up buttercup....your special feelings are not the center of the universe. See point #3. 

I could run this post to infinity, but I'll stop here. Let me know what you think needs to stop immediately!

Maybe I'll write one on things we should START doing. One of those would be to start sharing Facebook posts you love. Facebook screws with the views and people reached because some of us don't wanna give them money to sponsor posts. If someone is doing something you think is awesome share it. There are tons of awesome things on Facebook that don't get seen because it's done, not for money, but to share important stuff. Like things we should stop doing. Immediately! And little life lessons hidden in our day. 

I hope y'all enjoy my posts...because I enjoy sharing my insanity!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Behind the Scene

We all have a calling, dreams, ideas of what we want to do in our lives. Rarely do we think about what fulfilling that call or achieving that dream will take to obtain. Or once we get there, the toll it might take on us.

Lucky for me I still haven't decided what to be when I grow up. My calling is still unclear. That doesn't mean that life hasn't marked me at times. It just means I keep moving forward, looking for my indication sign of what to do next. And I ain't dead yet. So I'll keep trying to figure out exactly what God plans for my life.

We all know I'm a preacher's kid. (Not one of THOSE preacher's kids.) I don't know if I've told you or not, my daddy is also a fireman. The Milkmaids think this is just part of life. Doesn't everyone get to ride in the fire truck? Play in the fire truck? Blow the horn and turn on the sirens? And the parades....oh good lands....everyone should ride in a fire truck in a parade.

Pa comes to school sometimes. He does demonstrations. He tells everyone that his number is 911. Don't call him there, though...he doesn't answer. And they don't like it when you ask for Pa. We haven't done that, but I can imagine dispatch wouldn't be nearly as happy as you might think. But it is neat to be related to a fireman...they have all the cool toys. Another thing that happens when you are related to the fireman, is that you see the other side to the first responder's lives. You worry for their safety. You don't see things quite as innocently as a lot of people do.

We have all gone by a wreck or accident of some kind and rubbernecked at the flashing lights. We've all pulled over for the ambulance to fly by with its lights and siren. We all know the number to call and the response it will get. We expect someone to show up when we dial those three numbers and ask for help. Some people take advantage of the system and call because McDonald's got their order wrong. Or someone stole their weed. While these are emergencies to those particular people, we are reminded that 911 is reserved for real emergencies and we shouldn't call it for non-emergency reasons. MMMkay, Kids?

In an emergency situation we expect a bunch of people to show up, lights and siren, uniforms, "doctor" stethoscopes (yeah...I went there), fire hoses, guns, whatever the situation calls for. What we don't think about is the fact that each one of those folks showing up to help us has friends, kids, pets, a family, and people that love them waiting for them to come home.

The times that you are in traffic and you are trying so hard to see what is happening in the accident across the lane of traffic you don't realize that you could very well be putting the lives of one of those responders in danger. The time that you are in a hurry so you don't slide over and stop for passing emergency vehicles, you are putting lives in danger. The time that the roads are flooding and you decide you can cross it, you aren't just putting your life in danger. You are also saying that you're okay with risking the lives of the people that have to come out and save you or someone else. Driving on icy roads....not just your life you are risking. Playing with matches. Don't play with matches. I'm painting a picture...can you smell what I'm cookin'?
Be aware that all of your decisions, however minimal you may think, have the potential to put someone else's life at risk.

First responders, and I'm talking police, firemen, paramedics, etc, don't do their job because its safe. They do it because it's a calling. They don't do it because they have nothing to lose, they do it to support the people waiting at home for them. These jobs aren't glamourous. They aren't easy. These jobs are vital to our society and hard on the ones that do them.

Responding may be a calling for these folks, but the scars they receive along the way aren't something they always bargain for.

Not only are they going into some bad situations, some ugly car accidents, blazing fires, open gunfire, physical threats, they are also the first people looking at the horrific tragedy that is a person's life. They see the families that are going to get the news. They witness lives wasted and taken too soon sometimes. The things they see and do and the people they save aren't just memories that fade away. They can become wounds that don't heal.

For some of these people those invisible ones are the wounds that fester and ooze. They poison the lives of those who's whole desire was to save lives. In bad cases they tear families apart.

Pa has been a fireman for about 20 years. I can't fathom the things he has seen or the situations he has been in. I can't know the struggle of trying to make sense of a mangled body. I don't know what it feels like to walk into a fiery blaze and try to find someone screaming for help. Or doing everything you can to save a life that you end up watching fade away. My brain doesn't have the capacity to understand those things.

I lived with my dad for 8 years of his service and we have been close the other 12. I know he struggles. I know countless first responders that struggle with the invisible scars. At least the visible ones on their bodies can be explained. The internal scars are the ones that fester and refuse to heal. Those are the marks that nobody can see, that are too painful to talk about. The marks they have received in exchange for following a calling. Those marks, they didn't count on being a price they would pay. Only those closest people see those marks, even when they are hidden away.

When we make a decision that ends badly, we have to live with those consequences. When these guys (and girls) are doing their jobs, the only decision they made was to follow their calling. The consequences they suffer have a lot to do with the bad decisions other people make.

This blog post has very little to do with my life or the farm, but this is something that weighs on me. I personally know lots of first responders. And to think that their families may not get to see them walk through the door because they are out saving lives is hard to swallow. To think that some of them lose their lives because someone made a poor decision is even harder to think about.  Consider this a public service announcement that the decisions we make always affect someone else.

I don't know what my calling is. Or even which of my many dreams I should fulfill. I know that it isn't becoming a fireman or a paramedic or a police officer. I have the utmost respect for the guys (and girls, of course) that have followed that calling, but I have no desire to do any of it. I won't be following in Pa's footsteps. (He will be happy to know.) But I got no promises when it comes to the Milkmaids. They really like those firetrucks.

When you see these folks out and about remember to tell them "Thank you." You never know when you might need them!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Things That Slow the Spinning

People always said things like, "The years just go by so quickly." And by people, I mean the old folks. At least that's what I thought they were at the time. You 30 something.

I kept thinking, good grief time passes slowly. I can't wait to just get done with high school. I can't wait to have my very own life. Where I can just do whatever I want, whenever I want. When I can make my kids do whatever I want them to. The time when I can make all the decisions.

That time never came. Funny how you see things one way, but the reality doesn't look the same.

I graduated high school, tried out the college thing, that didn't work, so I got married. Time sped up a little bit. Then we had the first little Milkmaid. And holy cheese balls....I'll be danged if the world didn't find another gear. Sometimes I think if we didn't hold on, the speed of the Earth moving around the sun would throw us off. 

Now, I've passed that ripe old age of 30. And I feel like there just aren't 24 hours in a day anymore. 

Milkmaid #1 has hit 10. Double digits. Oh for the did that happen?!? A couple of nights ago she stood up in front of our county Quorum Court and gave a speech that she wrote herself. There was standing room only. Our county extension service didn't get some funding that we needed from the state and we were asking, along with many other 4-H kids and parents that the county help fund the office. And my girl wrote a speech Tuesday morning and stood up and talked about why the extension office is important and how 4-H makes her a better person. 

Have you ever been so proud that you want to shout from the rooftops and all that's inside you wants to explode? There just aren't words. I know many adults that couldn't bring themselves to stand up and show the responsibility and passion that she did. I hope that when I grow up I can be as amazing as she is. 

Milkmaid #2 will be 4 in a month. That is 4 going on 14 of course. She doesn't like people. She is the daughter of the Milkman for sure. If I'd let him, he'd never leave the farm. He isn't a fan of crowds or noise, or anything involving more than about 5 people at a time. When there is a function where there will be crowds the Milkman tries his best to avoid said function. Along with Milkmaid #2. 
This is how these conversations go:

Momma: "We have a meeting/party/game/etc Tuesday night."
Milkman: "I've got stuff to do. I can't go."
Momma: "You have to go. You are the dad/president/friend."
Milkman: "I'll see what I can do. But I"m not promising anything."

And if it is really important....the Milkman knows he has to put on his big boy pants and go.
If the same function involves the Milkmaids going this is the conversation:

Momma: "Tuesday night we have a meeting/party/game/etc."
Milkmaid #1: "Awesome! Can I go? Who's gonna be there?"
Milkmaid #2: "Are there going to be people there?"
Momma: "Yes there will be people there. Probably a lot of people. You are going to have to just suck it up and go. It is what it is."
Milkmaid #1: "What should I wear?"
Milkmaid #2: "There are going to be people there. And I don't like people. Here's the deal, I'm calling Grandma/Memaw/Nana."

Now...Momma knows that you pick your battles. For those of you without kids reading this thinking, no. nope. uh-uh. You will learn that children come from the womb with their own personality. And as much as you think you will make your children do whatever it is that you want them to do as long as they live under your are mistaken. You learn quickly that you pick your battles. When you child wants to wear the red cape to Wal-Mart and you are in a better just tie that cape on tight because that is not a battle worth the fight. I'm not saying you let them win the war. You are still the parent...and you teach them things, but there are battles just not meant to be fought. 

So...over the last week or so Milkmaid #2 has spent a lot of time between Memaw's and Grandma's houses. We had a football game to attend and she said, "Nope. I don't wanna go. Games are boring and there will be people there." So she called Memaw. There was a birthday party, Milkmaid #1's double header, and then the Quorum Court meeting. Milkmaid #2 won on every occasion except the Quorum Court meeting. Lines of communication got crossed and Grandma was busy. 

This was a bad deal.

The meeting was standing room only. A nice lady sitting behind us had crayons and a coloring book in her purse. She loaned them to Milkmaid #2. They were entertaining until it was about time to start the meeting. We were second on the agenda and the first guy lasted a little longer than #2's patience. 
It got time for #1 to give her speech and, of course, the need for a potty break began. I put Milkmaid #2 off as long as humanly possible. As soon as my sweet oldest Milkmaid finished her speech we were off to the potty. 

Does anyone else's 3 year old need to go to the bathroom just for the sake of seeing what a new bathroom looks like? This time she really did need to go, but if we are somewhere new the bathroom seems to be a big deal.

When we got back the discussion was going on and on and on. Remember how that time passes quickly when you are a grown up? That night the Earth was taking a break because it seemed like we were there forever. 

About the time it got quiet Milkmand #2, in all her tiny glory, let one rip. A loud one.
Three rows of people tried to avoid looking. The Milkman turned awfully red and started one of those laughs that you can't can't breathe....and you're trying not to make any noise so your stomach muscles tighten up and you just know the workout is better than a thousand sit-ups. Milkmaid #1 missed all the fun because she had taken the potty break. And I couldn't find a hole close enough to hide in. At that point the Earth stopped. It quit turning for a split second that lasted a really long time.

There was a 4-H boy sitting in front of me. About 16 or so. That poor kid was fighting back the urge to laugh so hard. Farts are funny when you are a 16 year old boy. Especially when it sounded like an old man and came from a 3 year old girl. Not just any 3 year old girl, but an extremely proud one. She didn't turn red. Just covered her cute little mouth to hide a grin the size of Texas.

It was at that moment I realized that my life was moving so quickly that I desperately needed those moments to stop time. 
Life used to pass so slowly that I felt like the years would never end. Now I am holding on to keep from spinning away and I have an amazing 10 year old that stops time with her courage and a 3 year old that stops time with...well...her gas. But it's those times that make my life what it is. 

Last night #2 got into trouble. She wouldn't eat her supper and was insisting that she have ice cream instead. This, my friends, is one of those battles that Momma wins. The little Milkmaid pushed her table forward, throwing everything off of it including her supper, and screamed. This is not how we do things at Momma's house. Nope, not happening. After a nice little discussion...or something like that....she went to bed. It was 6:30. She didn't eat supper. I had every intention of letting her up, but ice cream was just a dream for that girl. When I told her she could get up she asked for the sweet stuff, but I won the battle. She covered her head with a pillow and slept for 12 hours. She didn't get up to pee, beg, or cry. That kid slept until I woke her up at 6:45am. And the first words out of her mouth were, "Now can I have my ice cream?"

Stubborn one, that girl. She didn't get ice cream for breakfast, but if she can behave herself she can have some tonight. 

I gotta say...I'm proud of my girls. They are strong and stubborn and sweet. They make my world go 'round. And sometimes they make my world stop. But I wouldn't trade any of the memories that we make along the way. 


Thursday, September 17, 2015

You Can't Plan the Wind

Hello boys and girls!! My, how I've missed you.

Life has a way of pulling you away from what's good for your soul. And you, my friends, are good for my soul.

Every time I sit down to write a blog I think about all the reasons I'm no good at it. I'm too long winded. I'm not consistent enough. I have tried being strictly an agriculture blog and I just bounce all over the place. I have nothing to say that touches anyone. Someone might take what I have to say all wrong.

Excuses are just whiny ways of saying you didn't/couldn't/wouldn't do what you were supposed to. At least that's what I tell my Milkmaids. So...I could give you excuses, but its much more to the point to say that I just haven't taken the time to sit down and type.

Sometimes you think you have life all figured out. You're just strolling along, enjoying the scenery and all of a sudden you step off into the abyss. And you think to yourself..."Self, I have made a grave mistake. I don't know what road I took to get here and it doesn't look like I can get back. Self, where did I make the wrong decision?"

Sometimes, in those times, you realize that you made all the right turns and it was meant for you to go down the path that led to the great abyss.

The path my life was on was well known. I was involved in things that I could potentially continue in for the rest of time. I put my heart into an organization that does great things, but fears change so much that they tend to destroy young interest. After a decade of fighting tooth and nail to prove my commitment and value I have finally become a casualty of their fear to grow and change.

It wasn't anything I did, nothing I said. I spent over 10 years putting my time into something that feared what I brought to the table so much, that they would rather see me walk away than allow me to serve the organization. I am guilty of a few things. I am guilty of being ambitious. I am guilty of being young. I am guilty of being a woman. I am guilty of bringing a "threat" of change. Because of that guilt, I was told that I wasn't valuable. That the time and effort I GIVE (it is all volunteer) isn't worth the change that might come with it.

I realize this is all very vague. I wrote a blog about it yesterday. And when I printed it, it was 4 pages long. And unless you are involved, it is rather boring. So...I decided to change my message.

All over the nation, in every industry, there are organizations with volunteer and paid positions. They are old school. They don't like the youngsters coming in with their computers and Facebooks and YouTubes. The computers and texting. Phone calls and emails. They are terrified of new ideas and social media. The generational gap is huge and communication is limited. These organizations that are literally dying for new members, are training new leaders and then pushing them out the door because they fear the change.

Newsflash: You cannot sustain in todays world holding onto the fear of change. You can't stay alive while running off new ideas. If you don't allow yourself to change with today's world you will not survive.

I challenge each of you to open your minds and change if it means things might get better. Fear of the unknown is normal, but allowing that fear to influence decisions has proved detrimental to many organizations. If you are going with the flow to "keep the peace," I would encourage you to make sure you aren't a part of what is discouraging new leaders wherever you are involved. Don't be the "closed road" sign that puts people on a new path, be the 80mph sign keeping traffic moving.

When I saw the signs warning me of the cliff I was walking off of, I began to pray. My identity had become so entwined with where I gave my time that I was afraid I would lose who I was. I prayed that God would help me to know exactly which path I should take. I needed it to be clear and without question. God has led me off the cliff. And the abyss isn't so bad because I know who holds me.

I am a control freak. I like to know everything that's happening. I like to think I can control the direction of my life. And sometimes God comes in to remind me that His plan is bigger. His plan is better. And His plan will sustain my life when I hand over control and follow.

In the end, I am at peace with the change of direction. I will take the abyss over the constant battle I was fighting. Because it isn't my battle anymore. I have passed the baton. Good luck to whoever ends up with it.

I believe that God works in our lives all the time. Sometimes it is very discreet so that only the ones with true, unwavering faith can see it. Sometimes He makes big gestures that are meant for us to know that He is God.

"The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live determines how you spend your soul." Lysa TerKeurst wrote that in her book, "The Best Yes." I haven't finished it yet, but I'm doing the study that goes with it and it is amazing and eye opening and toe stepping on. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We are the ones that change. We are the ones that stop listening and do whatever we want.

My path is new. I am still an agvocate. I am still a communicator. The Milkman and I will go on raising our Milkmaids, farming, and doing what we love. And what I mistook for a part of who I am, I will replace with what God wants me to be.

As I write this I'm listening to a song called "Plan the Wind" on Barrett Baber's EP, Falling Again. It is AHmazing and relates so well to what I'm trying to say. 

On this journey I will not fear the unknown. I will not fear the change. I will not fight so hard to prove that I am good enough or capable enough. I will teach my daughters that you don't have to make the change, but you should be the change. I will do my best to set my schedule to reflect the life I want to live, and spend my soul doing what's best for my family and myself.

It takes time and faith to sit and put words down for everyone to see. I put so much of myself into what I write that fear overcomes me when I hit "publish." I believe that communicating is what I am supposed to do with my life. And you guys are my first audience. I want to keep you reading and motivated.
I'm looking at my change of path differently at the end of this post than I was at the beginning.

This is going to be good.

Bonus...#BarrettBaber will be on The Voice Monday night...spoiler....he gets a 4 chair turn around! Look him him on Facebook...listen to his stuff....and vote for him on #TheVoice!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Something Stinky

My house resembles a, "This Old House" episode. In fact, we are in a perpetual state of remodel.

We live in the house that the Milkman grew up in, on the farm. It was built in 1928 or so. The indoor plumbing was added some years later as was the lighting. We have one room, my office, that has electricity, but no lights were ever wired into the ceiling. So I use lamps and windows if I'm working in there. Its kind of charming mixed with a lot of annoying.

Like I said, we live on the farm. Right on the farm. The milk barn is close. The calves are close. The feed is close. Every house has pests (I don't mean siblings), but when you put your house close to the smorgasbord of commodities, hay, animals, and the lagoon, the pests that love that stuff also like to check out the humble abode that sits not so far away.

This year has been particularly wet. I apologize to those of you who may be further west of us that haven't had enough rain. We are praying for recovery for y'all! But the moisture has enticed those pests to visit us more frequently this year. Ants. Ick. Spiders. Lawd Help. And best of all mice. I HATE mice. I scream and tip toe and jump on furniture. Like the stupid rodents can't follow me, but that's not the point. I. Do. Not. Like. Mice. especially in my house.

Every winter we have to set traps. All kinds of traps. Sticky traps, normal traps, traps they walk into and can't walk out of...however those things work. It just comes with the territory. Semi loads of feed bring those critters that need to eat. And the house is the warm spot, so they invite themselves to be unwelcome guests in my home.

If you think you don't have are wrong. Those sneaky devils go wherever they please.

I have learned some tricks. For instance, they dislike peppermint oil. So I put some on a cotton ball and put them under the cabinets. It smells like the elves are making candy in the Tupperware. It an extent.

I also (make the Milkman) set the multitude of traps. I check them often and refuse to remove them if there is a mouse in it. That is also, my hero, the Milkman's job. It has been known to be a job I recruit someone, anyone, the hired guys, my father or brother in-law, my grandpa, my brother, the guy that sprays for bugs, or who ever ends up in my house and feels sorry for me, to do.

This past winter we set several traps, but didn't have much activity on or off those traps. I forgot about them. Max, the used to be inside dog (that's another story), took it upon himself to set off several of them with his nonexistent Boston Terrier nose. He really wanted the stale peanut butter. Lucky for him his face is pretty flat and the trap had nothing to clasp onto, so it was just a lick, a snap, and a whimper of fear followed by a jump back. Amusing. Not so amusing was the time he got the sticky trap stuck to his flat face and used my bedroom carpet to remove it. There is still a sticky spot or two that I manage to find every now and then. That sticky stuff doesn't come off. Ever.

The Milkmaids and myself went with my family to Florida a couple weeks ago. It was beautiful and warm and sandy. I loved it. The girls would rather go to Colorado. They are their father's daughters. While we were gone the mostly dead plants that I kept forgetting to water went ahead and died, the yard grew up a little, because I like to do the mowing, but the house got kept up (Kudos! Milkman!) along with the laundry. He did good.

I do the cooking and cleaning up in the kitchen. I just like to. I like for things to be done a certain way and kept a certain way. While I was gone the Milkman ate cereal or went to eat with his mom or friends. He didn't do any cooking or moving of things in the kitchen. Which was pretty good, because that room was still clean too. But for some reason my can opener doesn't work anymore. I still haven't figured out why. It just doesn't open cans.

I should throw it away. Why haven't I thrown it away...?

Anyhow. When we got back I started cooking and doing what I do again. I did my weekly cleaning. Something smelled when I opened the silverware drawer. And the pots and pans drawer under the silverware drawer.

The kitchen sets over one of the crawlspace holes to get under the house. Sometimes a cat or something random will manage to get in and do something stupid like die under there. Or when it rains a lot, like lately, water will gather under there and it will smell a little musty. It's an old house. It's what they do. So I say to the Milkman, " there something dead under the house again?" And the Milkman says to me, "Dairy Wife, I wondered that too, I think its just water from it raining like when Noah built an ark." So I thought..yep. Must be it.

But it kept smelling. That ever loving silverware drawer was rank. Dang. I hate that smell. I knew what it was...a dead freakin' mouse. But where?! Do I take everything out and risk actually finding it? Do I just hope it goes away? We have company coming in a few days...that isn't very pleasant. (The smell, not the company.) So I'm going to do it. I'm going to start pulling out cookie sheets and muffin tins and I'm going to find the idiot mouse that dared come in my kitchen and die. However, if I find it someone else has to get it out. I am not touching it. Ick. Ick. Ewwww...Not happening. I will call animal control if someone doesn't come in to get it out.

So...I'm talking myself into this. I plop my butt down on the floor. I open the cabinet door. I almost die because I need a mask or oxygen or something because it smells bad. I lean up...slowly....



Lawd have mercy!

It walked into that walk in trap and couldn't get out and the dang thing died. I didn't even know that stupid trap was set. I thought Max, the ex-inside dog, had successfully set off every trap in my kitchen. Not that one. Maybe if he had a nose to stick in that walk through hole he could have set it off, but not having a nose can be a drag I guess.

Never fear. A stupid mouse escaped the monsoon and died in my kitchen.

I sent a series of panicked texts to the Milkman, who was fluffing hay at the other farm. He was coming home. And he would save me from the stinky dead mouse. And he did. Once again, he proved that he is my hero.

Moral of the story is:

Sometimes, uninvited people, events, sins come into our houses. They have only intentions of eating our stale peanut butter or cheese, but they get trapped in our lives. We didn't realize there was a place for them, but they find a spot and sneak into it. They either poop on everything or they die and stink up our hearts and our homes.
We don't always want to get down and start taking things apart to find out where the smell is coming from because we are afraid of what we might find. But we know that whatever it is, it's gotta go.
Is there something stinky in your life? You're gonna have to buck up and find out what it is and where it's coming from. Because it ain't gonna get better if you just keep letting it rot there. Best case scenario, the stench dies down but you find a skeleton when you start cleaning out. And that's just as bad. 

As for why Max became an outside dog...he had a habit of peeing on the bed. It didn't matter if you were in it or not. It's weird and more than this crazy lady can take. Maybe we need a dog whisperer. Quite honestly...he's happier outside with the yard dogs.

This is Max

Monday, May 4, 2015

Thank You, Chipotle

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the fast food chain Chipotle. They recently announced that they are going to all GMO free ingredients in their food. This, after they launched some new ads a few months ago that alienated farmers and ranchers across the nation.

You are probably wondering why I, a farmer, would thank them, right? Why, oh why would anyone that loves to agvocate as much as I do, say thank you to someone slandering the good name of farmers and ranchers? What kool-aid did I start drinking?

We have seen this company along with a few others (Food Babe, etc) attack farmers and their practices. Practices and lives they know nothing about. That they haven't taken the time to ask about or understand. Practices that are sound. Lives that are working dusk till dawn, putting in the hours, the blood, sweat, and tears, adding faith and prayers just to put food on their tables and yours. These folks attack our livelihoods and worse our humanity. We have been accused of inhumane treatment of our animals, intentionally "poisoning" our consumer base, and my very favorite....being a Monsanto shill.

I looked up the word shill, just to be sure I had my definitions straight.
1. An accomplice of a hawker, gambler, or swindler who acts as an enthusiastic customer to entice or encourage others.
Internet Shill, which is the most likely accusation, since we do most of our "shilling" online (she said sarcastically)
   -Someone who promotes something or someone online for pay without divulging that they are     associated with the entity that they shill for.

I once posted on a local news story on Facebook. It was a list of foods that cause cancer according to Sounds legit, right? I responded to a commenter that talked about the poison "dumped" on our food and how he was all organic because of it. I informed him that organically grown foods also use pesticides and that the latest studies were showing that the accepted organic chemicals may be more harmful than what is used in conventionally grown food. He immediately asked if I or my husband were Monsanto shills. I couldn't help but think that he had quite a defense.... He also didn't like that I used the word conventional. Why?...I have no idea.

So let me get this straight....if you are passionate about who you are and what you do, and you defend yourself with sound science and proven methods you are not an advocate for your passion, you are a shill? That doesn't match the definition.
Now I have a question for all the crop farmers, since my farm isn't a commercial crop farm...When is the last time you received a check from Monsanto? If I'm correct, you send a check to them...or to whatever company you buy their product from.

There must be some very disappointed shills out there, not being paid, AND still having to buy their seed.

Yes. There is a lot of sarcasm in what I just wrote. If there was a font called "sarcasm" I would use it. But their isn' you'll have to just imagine it.

With all that sarcasm aside, though, I really would like to thank Chipotle.

You see, farmers are a fairly private bunch. A quiet kind of people. With a few exceptions farmers like to keep to themselves and do their business. Everyone has to eat, right? The Milkman doesn't have a Facebook or a YouTube account. He doesn't take many pictures or share his day very much. Mostly because he is too busy. He is a little bit old school. He doesn't see the value in stopping what he is doing to tweet or Instagram or tell Facebook what's on his mind. Quite probably don't want to know what he's thinking...because there are many days that it isn't very nice or shareable. Especially when I'm done showing him the latest Chipotle ad campaign.

The Milkman isn't alone in these feelings. There are farmers and ranchers all over the nation that are too busy trying to feed a growing population, that they don't take the time to combat the nonsense out in the world. So here's the good part....

Thank You Chipotle!

For waking us up. For making it clear that you, and so many others like you are willing to bash and slander the very people that keep you eating. Thank you for telling so many, like the Milkman, that there is a war and we better wake up and fight it. You, Chipotle, are just a small battle, but you have made it very clear that you will not stop at just clever ads with tainted "facts," you will push the producers of food until they are quiet no longer.

Chipotle, Food Babe and the likes have shaken us. They have shown us that the consumer has trust issues with us. That the science and the facts have nothing on emotion and lies. They prey on our customer base. They don't play by civilized rules. They attack with a battering ram until they convince companies and their customers that the people growing our food are monsters, and attack until they have gained their victory.

In the end the consumer sees that the "victory" comes with consequences they weren't aware of. They weren't aware because the people leading the attack weren't honest or forthcoming about what would happen. That the prices would skyrocket because what they demanded didn't change the quality of the product, just the method. They didn't understand that the original method of production put out a high quality product and the animals were already treated humanely. They didn't look at the fact that a Chiopotle meal, after being "built" has over 1,000 calories even with those GMO free ingredients. I'm sure that Chioptle is just looking out for their customer's health....right?

I would like to throw this out there...I've never eaten at a Chipotle. And thanks to their B.S. campaigns I will not be giving them a single cent.

I am glad we live in a country where we are free to eat how we wish. That we have choices.
You want got it. You want to fall into a marketing my guest. The information is out there. All you have to do is reach out. Ask a farmer.
I'm not, however, glad that agriculture is so divided that it feels the need to attack another sector just to up its bottom line...but those are the cards on the table. That's what we are working with.

So here's my call...every farmer, rancher, and anyone involved in agriculture in this country, needs to wake up and speak up.

There is no way the Milkman is going to agree to making videos or taking pictures. Nor will he be getting a social media account of any kind. But you know what he will do? He will answer questions. He will help me in every way possible to agvocate. He doesn't think blogging or Facebook is nearly as unnecessary as he did when I started. He can see the need for those of us who are willing, to put our message out there. We need to be positive. We need to tell our stories. We need to make an emotional connection with our consumers. And that won't happen if we work every daylight hour and keep quiet.

I have started teaching the Milkmaids about all kinds of agricultural practices. I've learned a lot, myself. I encourage them to ask questions, to me, and other farmers. I want them to join in the conversation and be able to talk about why we do what we do. And why we love it.

Thanks to those willing to make a buck on deceit, we are learning to defend our lives. We are learning how to connect to our consumer base. We are making huge efforts to be available and transparent in our practices and methods. We have nothing to hide.
But we, as consumers, need to be willing to take the time to learn and understand how and why things are done. Consumers need to be willing to seek out the information and farmers need to be there to offer it up.

If you are involved in agriculture at all you need to be prepared to defend your passion without being defensive. You have to be willing to talk to those who don't understand. It isn't always the easiest thing to do. You don't have to be a troll. You, more than likely aren't a shill, so don't expect payments from Monsanto. You just have to agvocate with a passion that can't be matched. Show yourself and your emotions. Connect with our consumers and let them put a face with their food.

Don't forget to thank Chipotle for waking us up...sometimes we need a little shaking to come out of our own worlds to see what's happening in the real world.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Shaken Not Stirred

Unshakable faith is a product of a faith that has been shaken.

There is pain in this world that I hope to never suffer. Pain beyond the physical realm. Or maybe pain that isn't supposed to be physical but is so hard to comprehend that it manifests itself that way. 

I have felt pain. I have witnessed unspeakable pain. I have sympathy. I have empathy. I have carried anger and denial. I have nightmares that can't come close to pain that others in this world have faced. 

It's easy to sit on the side lines coaching people through their pain. Telling them things about God's plan and how it might be better this way. Talking about how there's a reason for it. Helping the only way we know how. Because everyone carries their own pain. Everyone heals in their own way, at their own pace. But we are fixers somehow; at least we want to be. 

That's what I am. A fixer. I want to have the words that are profound. Words that have the power to erase the pain of the world. Unfortunately, those don't exist so more accurately, I'm a wanna-be-fixer. A failure at fixing. 

I have a tendency to avoid the sad Facebook pages. Especially the ones with sick kids. I can't bring myself to read their heart wrenching stories. Knowing all the way through that I can't help. That this pain is beyond fixing. I see the likes and shares from them and immediatly say a prayer. 

I know that I can't fix it, but my God can. 

My faith is far from unshakeable. There are things that could, would, and do shake my faith. Sometimes I fear it crumbling. 

We can all strut our Christianity and faith around and talk about how we wouldn't ever question God, but the fact is...we are human. We are continually failing God. We always have faith when it's easy. But when things get hard... when the pain that shouldn't be physical makes us feel like our insides are outside and our heart is truly breaking in pieces, are we always so faithful? 

I'm not. I get angry. I want to know why. I wonder why the pain is necessary. I want to have a tantrum and ask God why He saw fit for this to happen. It isn't always my own pain that makes me want to have that fit. Sometimes it is someone else's pain. Sometimes it's the shape the world is in. 

I am firm in my faith. I am not swayed or scared of sharing my faith. I am not easily shaken, but I am not unshakable. I pray that when the faith shaking moments find me that God will protect me from that storm. That He will hold the pieces together even when I might not think I want Him to. He has always held me together, I have no doubt He will continue. 

I have friends that don't share my faith. Words about God's plan are nothing more than words to them. I still tell them that I'm praying for them, because to them, it means I'm thinking of them. It isn't necessary for me to insist that they believe with me. It is necessary for me to keep my faith and continue my prayers for believers and non. 

Sometimes we just want to know why God would let this happen. And we ask. And we demand an answer. And the people that don't have faith ask the hard questions...where's your God now? How can you love a God that lets these things happen? And those questions shake your faith even harder. And in your grief there's not a good answer, only shaking. 

For those of us holding faith, we often ask God why. We often wonder how He allows the pain in our lives. We are human. I don't think that asking the questions means our faith has failed. We are still talking to God. We are still believing in His word and grace and mercy. We just want to understand. 

When our faith is shaking we are looking for the solid rock on which to stand. 

It's human nature to think that if we understand we can accept and move on. Our minds aren't able to comprehend some things. They aren't meant to hold all of the knowledge. What would we need faith for if we could see all that is to be seen? 

Sometimes when it seems that God is gone or that He doesn't care, He is reminding us that our faith is what bridges us together. Taking a step beyond the pain, even if you can't see the where the path is going, is what rebuilds whatever faith may have been lost in the quake. 

Unshakable faith isn't something that comes from a life without pain. It isn't a product of never asking God why. It isn't very common and most of the folks claiming to have it, haven't been shaken to their core. 

Unshakable faith comes from faith that has been shaken. It comes from a faith that has been built on a solid foundation, reinforced by God Himself. 

None of us know what tomorrow holds. We can't see or understand the future. But we have today. We have now. We have the opportunity to pray for those who are hurting, to pray for their faith, and to pray that when we feel that rumble....that we can see past the pain and our faith stays strong. 

We don't need knowledge or understanding. We need mercy and grace. We need a faith that can be held together. 

Faith shaking events are inevitable. They are bound to occur. Build your foundation on The Rock that is unshakable. Your faith may shake but your foundation is solid. 

If you are hurting and feel the quaking. I am praying for you. If you feel desperate and confused, pray with me. If you feel like you've lost everything find your foundation. And if you don't have a solid one. You aren't too far gone for God. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Let's Play Offense

"The moment a person becomes defensive, learning ceases." -Carlton Munson

I saw this quote in my Facebook newsfeed today and it seemed extremely fitting for what I am doing this week.

As I type this I am sitting in Washington D.C. at an American Farm Bureau Advocacy Conference. It is the first one they have put on and I must say, they've done an amazing job. I am extremely thankful and lucky for my state to have allowed me to attend. #FBAdvocacy

I have sat in many social media, "tell your story" style workshops in the last few years. If you are in agriculture, you know all about telling your story. I can quote almost anyone that has put on one of these workshops:
"We need to tell our story." 
"Only you can tell your story." 
"If you want your story told correctly, you have to tell it yourself."

This is all good advice. It is exactly what we, as farmers and ranchers, should be doing. And after you attend these workshops you leave all fired up. We gonna tell our story! Then you get home and the cows, your family, and your household knows your story already. And they don't wanna hear it again. So you're left who and where do I tell my story?!

And you're stuck.

Then you get someone on your Facebook or Twitter or in town that says something that just blows your agricultural mind. It might even be one of your best friends. You wonder how and why they don't know your story...they don't know the science....they don't know the facts. You're thinking, "Wow...where was I on that one?" 

When you feel like you haven't done a very good job of telling your story and you get blindsided by a friend's Facebook post or a comment from someone you don't even know, the initial reaction is defensive. You immediately want to tackle whoever has the ball. Run them down and take them out. Here's the thing...this isn't football.

"The moment a person becomes defensive, learning ceases."

We cannot tell our story or make our point by being defensive. 

If we want to effectively communicate with consumers, friends, family members, strangers, we have to learn to take a step back. Take a breath. Use these great brains that God gave us to tell our stories. Not constantly spouting facts. Not using talking points. Not regurgitating information we have been given. Ain't nobody got time for that.  

Let me say, however, that facts and talking points are useful. They are amazing tools to use. They are truths. But they are the sterile operating room. They are cold things. People don't want the operating room....they want the warm and fuzzy miracle story that has people in it. They want to grasp your story and feel it. Tears, goosebumps, fear, happiness, accomplishment, love, all those things come across when you live your story. Use the facts. Follow the talking points. But make them feel it. 

Nobody wants to hear that you have a 1% mortality rate. Nobody wants to hear that you grew 171.7 bushels per acre of corn. You don't get attention with those facts unless you are talking to another ag person. Because the average person doesn't immediately know what a mortality rate is on a farm. The closest thing to a bushel anyone gets is "a bushel, a peck, and a hug around the neck" from Aunt Helen. 

The average person wants to hear about the night in January during the snowstorm when your daughters show heifer was calving. And she wouldn't get up or push and you had to pull her calf. And it was too cold so you got momma up and took baby into the house and dried her off and blanketed her next to the fireplace. How you stayed up making sure they both recovered and made it through the night. They want pictures of your 3 year old bottle feeding her. 

The average person wants to hear about how last year wasn't a very productive time, but you knew that between your faith and your family you could overcome the hardships because you have each other. That you all worked together to plant and harvest and ended up with record crops this year. 

They want to know you. Because if they can put your face with that gallon of milk, or that sweet corn, they are able to second guess what they might see on the nightly news. We have to face the fact that there are people and organizations out to get farmers and ranchers. They are strategically placing their very edited and cherry picked propaganda in front of consumers. It works. 

The reason it works is because we haven't become adept at telling our story. We are very good at jumping on the defense. We can argue facts and science. We can keep consumers at arm's length. We try to keep to ourselves the emotion and the heart. We are afraid of what someone might twist our words into, so we say nothing and we lose that round.

I am guilty. Guilty of keeping my story to myself. Guilty of being the best linebacker ever. Put me in coach...I can be defensive. And after 2 days of drilling advocacy into my head and seeing this quote, I realize we have to tell OUR stories. To everyone. 

"The moment a person becomes defensive, learning ceases."

If you are telling your story....something you are an expert in....something you are passionate about...something you own, you will not be defensive. You will be personable. You will be effective. You will be heard and understood. This story, your story, is relevant. Farmers are proud of what they do. We have a lot to be proud of. We provide (at least) one of the basic needs of human beings. We shouldn't be hiding ourselves. Come out, come out wherever you are!

I am learning to tell my story. To step back when I feel the anger and frustrations bubbling up. I take a deep breath and try to find some way to relate my story to the issue. And if I don't have a personal story, I find someone that does...and I use facts and science. But I try, and it isn't easy, to keep my frustration in check and keep it out of my conversation. 

There are many days I feel like a failure. Sometimes it slaps me in the face that my people, the ones I spend time with, don't know the truth or the facts. Take the time to poll your friends. Ask them about organic, GMO, egg production, dairy products and practices. See if you are telling agriculture's story effectively. Practice telling your story with those close to you. Tell me your story. Tell snippets of your story on Facebook, Twitter, on a Pinterest board, with pictures and quotes. Whatever method you use...tell YOUR story and tell it well. 

I share my story with y'all when I write a post. I share on my Facebook and other social media outlets. I tell my story to friends and strangers. But my voice is only one. It is (mostly) quiet. But if we are telling agriculture's story in unison consumers can't help but hear it. They can't drown it out. 

"The moment a person becomes defensive, learning ceases."

Let's stop letting it get the best of us. Stop defending and start telling honest, emotional truths. Be the person teaching not the person shutting the conversation down.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ice Toes

Winter. It is winter again. I am not a fan.

It is cold. And dark a lot. And brown. And gloomy. And I just cannot Let It Go, Let It Go.

The Milkmaids...they like the snow. They like the prospect of snow days. They like the jackets and boots. They wanna build a snowman. (Did you just mentally sing "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" because I did) And no...I do not. Because I don't like it. It isn't even one of those green eggs and ham things where maybe if I tried it. Nope, Sam-I-Am...I am out on winter. Not with a mouse not in a house. Not here or there. I do not like it anywhere. Well, actually, I like it anywhere but here. You can have your winter, but leave me out of it.

You think winter cares if I like it? Probably not. It still comes around once a year. Stealing the leaves off the trees. Bringing the blackbirds in like a plague. I think there is a past blog post about those nasty feathered beasts. Gross. Winter takes out the green and gives us brown. Brown is good for eyes and hair. Brown grass and trees don't do it for this farmer's wife.

I like it warm and sunny. Don't worry...not too warm. But green and bright. The blackbirds move on to torture someone else. I can build a sand castle instead of a snowman. Spring, Summer, Fall, I will take them all, Sam...yes I will. I do so like those other seasons.

The smell of hay. Fresh silage is good. Happy cows sunning in a green pasture. Blue skies with puffy white clouds. No need for piles of clothes and puddles at the door. The puddles of water in my house are from swimming or the sprinkler not from melted smud. You know what smud is, dontcha? I'm going to assume you can figure it out. I have that much faith in y'all!

Unfortunately winter comes and goes as it pleases around here. If it is January and 65 today, tomorrow it will be January and -437 with a windchill of the Arctic Circle. Which is a place I wouldn't visit for all the rice in China.

Yesterday The Milkmaids were playing in the .25 inches of icy torture that fell from the sky. And the youngest Milkmaid starts screaming "It hurts! It hurts!" And I open the door to see what the commotion is about. I had already excused myself from the torture of winter and come in to make hot chocolate. (It's the only way they'd let me come chocolate all around if I can go into the sweet warmth of the house.) And my littlest milkmaid had removed one boot and one sock and was standing in the yard with one bare foot in the snow. She informed me that there was ice in her boot and she had to get it out. Well the obvious answer is to remove said boot AND sock and stand on the ice.

Momma panicked a long have I been inside? Is she gonna lose toes?!? What do I do? Because when you are facing an emergency like ice toes you immediately forget how to warm them back up....right? Well, Milkmaid #1 to the rescue. There's really no telling how long she listened to her sister scream before I came to the door, but in an instant she picked her sister up and brought her to Momma. We somehow got her 75 layers off and got her dry and socked back up. Through the tears all she could ask for was some hot chocolate. So, like a good mom, I got her some hot chocolate. all the panic of hypothermia and frost bite and toe loss Momma had a slight lapse. I handed her a small cup of hot chocolate. I said, "Here is your hot chocolate. Go sit at your table and drink it." And on her way to the table, my 3 year old, frozen toed milkmaid took a big ole swig of HOT chocolate. Momma forgot to say, "Be careful. It's hot!" Because for the love of pete, it is HOT CHOCOLATE.

That Mom of the Year Award. It's mine. Got it in the bag.

We had yet another emergency. I handled frozen feet. What the heck do I do for a burnt tongue?! Lord help us. I did what any good mom would do. I asked Dr. Google. Luckily there was no intelligent website telling me to immediately contact poison control or head to the ER. Nothing to hint at cancer or heart attack. Which there wouldn't be, but that never fails, right? You get online with slight shoulder pain and you are having a heart attack, cancer, and an ulcer by the time you shut that bad boy down. It said yogurt would do the trick or some sugar on her tongue. Doable, right? We had some banana chocolate Chobani (yum) and all was right with the world. She wouldn't, however, have any sugar put on her tongue. That would have been my first option...

Yesterday was a snow day. That in of itself is stressful for me. But I mostly felt like a complete failure as a mother.

Some days it feels like everything is wrong and nothing is going your way. You freeze your toes off, your coffee burnt your tongue (and there's no yogurt to fix it), or you are the one feeling responsible for someone else's frozen toes and burnt tongue. Sometimes life is like a big, long, miserable winter that you just can't get out of. It is dark and brown and you long for sun and color. Maybe you go from 65 degrees to -437 in a day. It is easy to get depressed and feel responsible that the world is falling apart. But if you will find lessons in it all. You will find how winter, as much as I hate to admit it, is what makes you appreciate all the other seasons.

When we sat down last night and were winding down, my milkmaids sat by me on the couch, and they told me something that made the whole day just a memory...they said, "You are the greatest mommy in the world."

Really? Me? After all this crazy stuff that went on?

And they meant it.

When you feel like the biggest failure, like you've messed up beyond forgiveness...someone thinks you are the greatest in the world. I promise.

Winter is just for a time...then we get 3 seasons, winter's redemption. God says...sorry it was so stinking cold and miserable...let me give you something to be happy about. Of course in those other 3 seasons there are periods of misery...storms, exhausting heat, allergies, and fall, well it's pretty much okay. There's a lesson to be learned every day. And yesterday I learned a few lessons.

1. Sometimes trying to get away from the ice in your boot makes for a far worse set of consequences than just letting it melt and going inside to sit by the fire.

2. Always tell a 3 year old that Hot chocolate is...well...HOT.

3. Yogurt helps burnt tongues.

4. I am the BEST mommy in the world.

5. Sometimes it feels sad and cold and brown, but it won't last.

6. Bad things happen...sometimes by our own choices, but if you ask for help someone will be there. Even if they listen to you scream for a few minutes.

7. Snow days teach you lots of lessons.

I'm counting down the days until winter is over. I know there will (eventually) be an end to it. Because this too shall pass. I'm sure spring will teach me a lesson or two. Don't worry. I'll share.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Diary of a Dairy Wife: If You Want Something Done Right....

If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.

Or teach someone else how to do it exactly the way you want it done, hover, critique, micromanage, all the while driving yourself and everyone else crazy.

Control freaks (like myself) tend to like things done a certain way. In a certain order. Usually in a certain amount of time. And it's hard to let go, even a little, and watch someone else *try* to do it the "right way."

But then there are those times where I'm so tired of running that I just want someone to help out. So I delegate. And I've learned that even if it isn't exactly like I like it...we are all much happier if I don't go redo whatever someone else has done. It may take every fiber of my being and semi-physical restraint to keep from "fixing" whatever it is, but I'm learning.

We all have those quirks. We all want the things that are important to us done a particular way.


You know what I'm talking about...making the beds, cleaning the bathroom, changing the baby's diaper, milking the cows, cleaning the guns, changing the oil, greasing the machinery. Those things that we get anal about. The process. You and I may do it differently, but we get the same result. Does the process really matter?

Not on most things.

But then there are the things we don't really think about.

This one might get a little controversial. It might not make everyone happy. But I'm gonna it anyway.

In 1962 we saw a drastic change. Does anyone know what it is?

Prayer was taken out of schools. Engel v. Vitale (thanks google) was the case that prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to set precedence on the matter. It said that prayer in schools violated the First Amendment by constituting an establishment of religion.

There is much debate about our beloved country being founded by Christian morals. That is kind of loaded. Our country was started because a group of people wanted to flee religious persecution. Were they of Christian morals? Yes they were. Did they write the original legislation and start our country based on Christian values? Yes they did. But the very basic reason this country was founded was because they wanted freedom from religious persecution.

We don't really like to acknowledge that part.

Before you get your panties in a twist...I'm not saying open the borders and flood the terrorists in. (Not that it isn't already happening....but that's another soapbox for another day and time) I'm saying that while our country was founded on Christian morals it was also started by people wanting religious freedom.

If you've read any of my blogs you know I am a Christian. I have strong faith and I am sturdy in my beliefs. Basically, you can't change my mind. I am blessed with amazing parents that instilled great morals and showed me Jesus. Everyone should be so lucky as my brother and I, to have parents that teach faith and love. I would certainly not be the person that I am today without their support and teaching. I believe that we have a savior that gave His life for mine and for anyone else that believes and asks for forgiveness. Anyone willing to accept His free gift of salvation is welcome into Heaven. I don't care what you have done or who you were or who you have become, God loves you and is willing to forgive. And as a Christian, it is my job to teach that to my kids.

Wait....who's job?

Oh yes...MINE. It. Is. My. Job.

I think the world we live in is a sad one. There is so much hate and violence.

Why do I think there is so much hate and violence?

Let me tell you. And you might not like it.....

Because we are failing as parents.

We are worried about everything under the sun. We are worried about having a big house with a fancy car and the kids having everything their little hearts desire. We are worried about the lawn and the groceries and the manicure and the meetings and the parties and the everything going on in the world. Not that most of those things aren't important. And if you are worried about those things I'm not saying you are wrong...I worry about most of those things. But we are so wrapped up in getting to where we want to be that we forget to teach our kids love and kindness and respect and salvation.

It is my job to teach my kids to pray.
It is my job to teach my kids to love.
It is my job to teach my kids to respect others.
It is my job to teach my kids salvation and faith.
It is my job to teach my kids.

Repeat that with me....

It is MY job to teach my kids.

Hold up...I cannot in any way, shape, or form teach my kids science, math, reading, writing, or any of the things I send them to school for.

On that note: Parents....teachers have a hard job. They take care of your kids 5 days a week. They have gone to school to learn how to teach your kids. They give your kids knowledge and the ability to go out into the world and get a job. They are not responsible for your kids prayers or faith. Stop getting all up in the teacher's grill if your kid can't behave at school....that's on you. Got it? Because as a parent, who's job is it to teach your kids respect?
That's right...lemme hear it....

There are exceptions to every rule. Some teachers probably shouldn't be teachers, but for the most part, cut them some slack.

I am not very good at stopping my schedule and sitting down with the Milkmaids to have a devotion or talk about God. We aren't that family that has a devotional before supper. We are doing good to get everyone to eat supper. So this is not me condemning anyone. We do get in the car every morning, turn down the radio, and pray together. Milkmaid #1 gives thanks for our blessings and asks God to watch over us as we go thru our day. Then I say a prayer, mostly going over the same things, and begging God for all of us to stay healthy. Because y'all all know about having sickness in your house. Oh Dear Jesus keep away the germs!! And then sometimes Milkmaid #2 says the "God is great, God is good" prayer and thanks him for the food we aren't currently eating, but we don't stop her.

It is important to pray with your kids. For your kids, also, but out loud. So they can hear you talking to God. I do a lot of silent, mental praying. Usually asking for something. Trying to remember to thank Him for the things He's blessed us with. Let your kids hear you pray. Teach them to pray at home.

Engle v. Vitale did not take away your kids right to pray at school.

That verdict said that prayer couldn't be required and couldn't be led by school staff. That does not take away your kids right to pray at school. Or tell others about God. And you know where they should be learning about praying and God? At home. That's is MY job to teach MY kids to pray.

I'm going to be really honest here (shocking, right? Me? Honest?). I DO NOT want prayer in my kids school. I do not want them to reinstate that freedom. Do you know why? Because I want to teach my kids about my faith. I do not want them on a mat praying to Allah. And I do not want them in a pentagram drawn on the floor chanting. I realize that many people that aren't necessarily Christian think it's best to just let your kids choose what they believe. And my kids will. But they will know all about my faith and my God and my beliefs. If they want to believe something different I will have to cross that bridge when I get there. But come on parents...if you have faith, do you really want it taught at school? How would that fit into common core? It certainly wouldn't just talk about one religion of your choosing.

On the farm, The Milkman teaches our employees how to run our equipment and milk in our barn. He takes time to show the Milkmaids how we do things and why. He wouldn't expect someone else to teach the people working here or our girls how to run this particular farm. He wouldn't send them to a school to learn how our particular barn works. He takes responsibility. He will teach our people himself. Because this farm is our livelihood. It is what we love and where we make our money. And if he can take the time and the responsibility to teach about how we operate, I don't think its too much to ask that parents take responsibility for teaching their own kids certain things.

Teach your kids to pray.
Teach your kids to love.
Teach your kids about respect.
Teach your kids about salvation and faith.

It is our job, as parents, to stop worrying about how everything is going to get done, and make sure we are taking time to teach our kids the values that are important to us.

If we don't teach our kids what is important to us, someone else will teach our kids what is important to them.  And when I look around the world today, what is important to so many, has nothing to do with anyone but themselves. We live in a selfish world. Teach your kids that it doesn't have to be a selfish place.

It is my job to teach my kids about life. And I am up for the challenge? Are you?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Diary of a Dairy Wife: What's In My Stereotype

Picture this:
An older man in a pair of faded overalls wearing a straw hat and boots chewing on tobacco and a piece of straw with one foot up on the fence looking over the top at a bunch of hogs eating slop from a trough. 
He talks slow. He uses words like "fixin' to," "Over yonder," and "yaon-too?" (As in, "I'm fixin' to have lunch over yonder, yaon-too?" invite for you to join him.)
And if he's in "high cotton" y'all might be dining at the expensive joint in town. Hoping to avoid all "kin". Especially cousin Myrtle...because she "fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. "

You can see how uptown fancy talkin' folks might get the idea that farmers ain't got a lick of sense. 

Y'all....y'all is a word. Ain't is a word. Fixin is a word. We have our own version of our fine English language, especially here in the south. You can compare it to the jargon that you use in your job or place in the country you live in.

People don't like stereotypes. You don't want to be thrown in with a whole bunch of folks just because they might do the same job as you, or have the same beliefs as you, or wear the same jeans, talk the same, or any other reason we stereotype people. I get it. 

I want to shine some light on those of us who talk a little slower and say stuff that you just might not understand. 

Farmer's used to just be viewed as a little slower, less educated. Most of the old men that had farmed their whole lives were hard and gruff. They didn't always seem to care about much, but a hard life made them that way. Some people still put farmers in that box, but we have a new stereotype to break away from.

I saw the movie "Free Birds." It was cute...until that part where it shows the turkeys kept inside a industrial kind of building, in stacked cages. Being cared for by a man in a lab coat with a clipboard. I was with Milkmaid #1's class on a field trip. We were really enjoying ourselves until this part of the move. I'm pretty sure the smoke detectors in the theater were on the verge of going crazy from all the smoke coming from my ears. I was livid. 

Gone are the days of supporting a small group of people that feed America. It's so far gone that we subtly tell our children that all large scale farms are "factory farms" managed by unfeeling, evil men in lab coats counting their dollars. We put it in our movies, on our TVs, in literature. It's already out there. And they just keep making more propaganda. 

My #1 Milkmaid....a girl raised on a conventional farm....comes out of that theater and says, "That was a good movie, except for the part about the turkeys in those big cages. That part was kind of sad." More smoke. We had a calm and collected conversation about how that is NOT how our food is raised. And she said, "You're right, Mom. We don't do things like they say." But the fact that a cartoon could get to her, even knowing what she knows.... When I got home The Milkman and myself had a *not so* calm and collected conversation about it. And I had a not so calm conversation with everyone I knew. And a Facebook post about it. And a couple years later it still gets to me.

If you ask the people that believe large scale farming is "factory farming" what kind of parameters do they give you? 
Do they know that 97% of US farms are family farms?
I guess I'm not clear on what qualifies a farm a "factory farm."

The Milkman and I have been married for almost 12 years. I have slowly gotten closer to being a farmer. I have watched him be a real farmer for longer than that 12 years. 

Farmers don't walk around their farms in lab coats with clipboards taking down numbers and caring only for their bottom line. Farmers don't find new seeds that will make them a quick buck and the consequences be damned. 

Farmers are educated. They might not all have a degree hanging on the wall, but they have lived and breathed and learned from experiences that no class could teach. They see the world from a perspective that you can't understand until everything you have depends on faith and things you can't control. The year's outcome depends on what the weather does and where the prices go. Farmers are educated in the school of hard knocks...some years you might make a few dollars and some years you show that inevitable loss. Either way the bank account looks, we still make sure the cows are getting feed and water and milked twice a day.

Farmers care for their animals. Our cows have numbers and not names. Record keeping is much simpler that way, but their number becomes their name. The Milkman knows each of their numbers to go along with the description of their udders, coloring, how long it takes them to milk, if they are bred, how many days in milk they are, etc. He can pick one of the mommas out of the field and tell you just about anything you could ask about her. He cares for these cows every day. He doesn't like all of them...just like you don't like everyone you meet. But he still takes the same quality care of the ones that he doesn't like as the ones he does. Sometimes he says things like, "281...I oughtta put her on a truck to the sale barn this week." Because she likes to kick the milker off as well as your hand when you try putting the milker on. Not because it hurts...but because cows have personalities too...and sometimes their personalities are hateful.

The Milkman really hates selling cows, though. He has a familiarity with each one of them. Around our area most diary cows that go to the sale barn are called "killer cows." They go to slaughter. The Milkman isn't overly fond of the animals that he has cared for going to be hamburger, but it is part of life. We all know it. We have one or two butchered a year to eat. It is usually a blind heifer or a barren one. We give her a good quality of life, feed her, keep her in a barn, but she can't be useful on the farm, so she goes for what God intended her to be used for. That doesn't mean that it's always easy or that we don't have any feeling about it. You just learn to be thankful that God provided the meat on the table.

We raise our calves. Heifers and bulls. Contrary to what some of these crazy extreme animal rights groups would have you think....the bulls are useful. They may be raised and sent to the sale barn or sold to an individual that needs a bull on their farm, but they aren't discarded because they weren't born a heifer. They are also taken care of. Fed, watered, kept in a barn or pastured. Sometimes the calves don't make it. This isn't taken lightly either. We vaccinate our calves after they are born and give them medicine when they need it. Sometimes it just isn't enough. 

When we lose animals on the farm we don't just mark a number off of our list and that's it. We don't have funerals for each of them, by any means, but they are all known for however long their lives are...they are cared for. 

All the cows are vaccinated and given antibiotics when needed. They see a vet when they are sick. They get their hooves worked on when they have feet problems. It isn't that much different than a human when you put it into perspective. We see a doctor when we are sick, get our flu shots and vaccines (at least we all should...but that's another post), we get pedicures, clip our nails. You get the idea. The cows don't just get turned out to fend for themselves. We take our responsibility to them very seriously.

Farms are businesses, just like any job, but farmers don't put their bottom line before anything and everything. We have lost money on cows that we have kept just because The Milkman had some sentiment about it. We have kept cull cows longer than we should have because she might have been here longer than any of the others. Farmers aren't cold and unfeeling. Farming is our business. It is our livelihood. It is how we feed our family, keep a roof over our head, and live just like the rest of the world. That doesn't mean we don't care about what we are responsible for.

We don't have crops, other than forages to feed our own herd, so I don't talk much about crop farmers. But I know many of them. They aren't uneducated or evil folks either. They don't put people in danger for their bottom line the way that some of the anti-GMO movement would have you think. Agriculture has to grow with the technology. 

This isn't a anti/pro-GMO post, this is for thought....if I expected you, Mr. Accountant, to continue to use technology from 1943 how efficient and effective would you be in todays world? How about you, Dr. So'n'so? Move backwards to how we treated everyone medically in 1937. Would that be okay for anyone? I think not. 

Farmers are smart enough to use technology. They feed their families exactly what you are feeding yours. We go to the store. We buy milk, corn, peanuts, beans, beef, chicken, turkey, etc. We don't have our own special stash so we don't expose ourselves to something awful. Would it be a good idea to kill off our customer base? Probably not. Lets be realistic. 

Even if the comment that farmers are only in it for the money were true...we wouldn't put our products at risk for us or anyone else....there wouldn't be a dime in it. It's a good thing it isn't true, though....we do what we do for the money, yes (even though there isn't always much of that), but also for the lifestyle. For the ability to watch our kids grow and to teach them work ethic and responsibility. We teach them that you reap what you sow in a more literal way than you can imagine. 

Even if America sees me as "Maw" with my apron on feeding my yard birds, raisin' kids, whippin' up the corn bread and beans while The Milkmaids run around barefoot and the Milkman wears his overalls talking in farm-speak, chewing on straw....I'd still want to be a farmer (or at least his wife). Because you know, and I know that a stereotype is just that.