Truth is farming is tough. OK, well it is really tough. I had no clue what I was getting into when I fell in love with a dairy farmer. You see, it was easy for me to fall in love with the farmer. He was handsome, hard working, extremely motivated, had his own business, had these cute calves and he loved my daughter and I. I got to ride around on his big green tractor, feed calves, ride around in big trucks and it was all SO exciting.
Once we were married, I got to stay at home to raise our kids and help on the farm. My main responsibility was raising the calves, the farm books and various other things. The calves, well who doesn’t love baby calves. It was easy for me to do that job and LOVE it. The books, well I am a numbers person and I LOVE office work. I will never forget the first time I wrote a check for over $20,000. My hands were shaking, I was trying to figure out how to write it out and fit it all on that tiny little line. I quickly decided with the help of Facebook that I really wanted to share our story with everyone. Why, well because I went from an ignorant consumer who believed everything she read about farming to being the actual farmer. WOW! What a difference. Most everything I had read about or seen as being “fact”, well it wasn’t so. So I took on that task to “educate the world”. Boy, was I in for it.
The second year is when things started to hit me. Farming was tough. Cows died, calves died, employees made very costly mistakes, employees quit, employees are expensive to pay, employees get fired, hay gets rained on, silage bags get holes, feed gets sold out from under you, tractors get flat tires, tractors break down, trucks get flat tires, trucks break down, deer and turkeys eat a large amount of your feed, cows get out at the worst possible moment, milking equipment breaks, feed prices are too high, milk prices are too low, some cows do not get pregnant, some cows have to be sold, beef prices are not always good, there is always some sort of inspection, there are always some new guidelines to follow, you have rules from the IRS, L&I, Employment Security Department, Department of Agriculture, Department of Ecology, Department of Transportation, you have to carry a large not so cheap insurance policy, your neighbors gossip, your neighbors are always calling you in for something, people always stop in to be nosey, etc.
You see, that list is a constant, but everything I just listed happened just this year (2013) and SO much more. I see the hours my farmer puts in to make our operation successful only to sign checks twice a month to employees that make more then we do. Every time we turn around, it is something. There are so many variables in farming, so many things that “can” go wrong and eventually do. You see, most farmers do it for the way of life. To be honest, that is what I once used to justify all of this. But lately I just haven’t seen how this way of life is worth it. Farmers need to feed the world, that is the truth. Farmers are the minority feeding the majority, that is a fact. What farmers endure to provide a quality product for consumers is just plain insane. It would be one thing if they had consumers support, but that is simply not the case. No one seems to have any respect for farmers. Every day there is some new sort of “farmer bashing”. You have major restaurant chains calling farmers lazy and others implying that they only consider their animals as objects.
When my farmer walks down the driveway on his way to put one of his girls down with his head hung down and his stomach in knots. I want consumers to feel that.
When I sat down at the barn with a sick calf; her in a vest, wrapped in one of my good blankets, a heat lamp, her being so weak that I had to tube her food/medicine and ultimately losing the battle. I want consumers to feel that.
When we worked with one of our girls for weeks trying to help her stand on her own and failing at it. I want consumers to feel that.
When we woke up on Thanksgiving morning to find our main piece of equipment in flames right next to the barn. I want consumers to feel that.
When the vet says one of my girls is not pregnant and will not breed. The feeling I feel when she goes on the truck. I want consumers to feel that.
When in a two month time period, EVERY piece of equipment you own breaks down and you do not have extra money. I want consumers to feel that.
When a piece of milking equipment breaks and you have to watch a full tank of milk go down the drain. I want consumers to feel that.
When we have to do an emergency surgery on a cow or have to induce labor to save a cow/calf. I want consumers to feel that.
When the federal inspector shows up two weeks early and your heart is racing. I want consumers to know that feeling.
I want consumers to know the truth about farmers. I want them to have respect for farmers. I want to help feed the world and feel like the world actually deserves it.
There is no “one way” to farm. There is no way we can feed the world like it was done in the 1900’s. AND there is a reason why their are less farms feeding this growing population.
Truth is, I am just a burnt out farmer’s wife/farmer. I love my farmer, love my kids, love my farm, love my girls.
Truth is, if you want to know the truth about farming. Go to a farmer.
Truth is, you need to understand what farmers do and how they do it. Why? Because they do it for you.
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