Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Smithsonian & romantic life on the farm

I was talking to my friend Beth recently and she said, "I used to think about farming as a really sort of romantic thing - you lived on a farm, you worked outside ... but then I met you and you really ruined it!  You talked about all the work and the things that go wrong!"

We all laughed, but it's true - like any other job, once you know more about it, you realize it has its ups and downs.  It IS sort of romantic at times ... and other times it's just real life!  Cattle get sick, things break, stuff doesn't work out, milk prices are low ... etc.  But like everyone else, you just deal with it and move on because it's your job, your life, and your livelihood.

So when I was asked questions by people at the Smithsonian American farmer exhibit, they asked really good questions, like ...

Does farming affect how you make decisions at the grocery store?
Where does your milk go?
Do you have favorite cows?
Who works on the farm?
Do you want your kids to farm?
What is your manure management program?
What are you breeding your cows to now?
Do your cows go out on the pasture at night?
How does the government pricing affect your milk?
Is it made into things other than milk?
What is your opinion on drinking raw milk?
How many acres do you farm?
How many cows do you milk?
What do you do with the male calves?

In the course of answering those questions, I also talked about cow comfort, how there are no antibiotics in any milk (conventional or organic), how there aren't added hormones in milk, about natural bull breeding, and manure as fertilizer.  The people laughed, it was a good discussion, and I think it's a great program!  What a nice way to connect people from all over to a farm.

Meanwhile, back on the farm in real life ... everything is happening.  It's the time of year where Kris is working and organizing and on the phone and super busy.  First of all, we're getting the fields ready to plant.  This means preparing them with fertilizer (manure) and lime, working them up, and planting them.  We contract with a guy to do a lot of the field work so we don't have to own all the equipment, but you're still the one organizing it with him.  Today Kris was also figuring out how we can rock pick the field before it gets planted.  He wanted to get the cattle out on the pasture soon, but said that someone had to check the fences.  I offered to do it, and he said that would be great, but someone would also have to go out there with a chainsaw to cut the dead trees off the fence that had fallen during the winter.

Turns out there were a lot!  I fixed all I could, but some were just too giant to move without a chainsaw

Also, the hoof trimmer was here yesterday, we had to finish up our tax stuff with our accountant, we're getting the machinery ready, we're continuing to dry up cows - and on top of that we needed to take in a car to get fixed and I needed Kris to watch the kids ... basically, Kris and the team are working really hard right now.

That's why historically farmers are not continually communicating about what they do.  They're too busy working.  Due to our partnership, we are able to do both.

It's sometimes romantic, it's sometimes the opposite of romantic, but what it is above all is what we've chosen!  We make our own decisions, our own mistakes ... the crops will grow, the calves will be born, Kris won't get enough sleep, and we'll take some serious satisfaction in a job well done.

And if I still get emotional at times like this?  I can't help it.  I'm a romantic at heart.

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