I believe in the family farm. For years my husband and I owned our own dairy farm while raising our two children.
Family farming is an occupation where you have little control over external factors affecting your livelihood: The price of fuel, electricity, and grain. The price you are paid for milk and culls are all subject to the market. Weather is a big issue. All these factors that can go against you make farming all that more worth while when it does go right.
Starting at 4:30 AM day after day, day in and day out. “Doesn’t that get tiring?” our non-farming friends ask. It does, but the sense of pride and knowing we accomplished it on our own is what kept us going. In a sea of so many negatives it’s easy to see why non farmers just don’t get it.
The feeling of pride one has when operating a family farm is almost indescribable: Indescribable and un-believed by those not living the farming life. Many don’t understand that farming gets under your skin; in your blood. It’s something you have to do. When you farm you are not in it for the money. You are in it for intrinsic reasons.
There is such a sense of pride you get watching the milk flow into the receiver jar in the milk house. Reading the stick on the tank and seeing the cows are up a few pounds since last pick up.
A sense of pride to get a heifer calf born from one of your top milkers. The one you took a gamble on and bred her to the top bull. A 50:50 chance she would throw a bull.
The satisfaction of having all the corn planted by the end of May, of having the hayelge test over 15% protein.
In a business of never ending chores there is a sense of accomplishment to finally stack the season’s last bale of hay: to blow the last wagon load of corn up the silo: to have the manure pit mostly empty and spread on the fields: to be done with something, anything for the season.
We had used equipment and with that comes breakdowns. So along with pride and satisfaction there is also the sense of relief.
The relief of having the gutter cleaner work after spending a good half an hour banging the frozen paddles loose from the barn floor and manure elevator.
Relief that the silo unloader worked for the first time after you lower it on top of the freshly opened silo..
Relief the meteorologist was wrong and the predicted hailstorm went just south. Relief that the best milker didn’t loose that quarter to mastitis.
And, best of all, to have our kids there with us every day was so important. Having them learn the values of hard work Knowing what they are eating is wholesome. Knowing that all that is accomplished is a result of our efforts. I believe in the family farm.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.