Brenda Rudolph / Special to Agweek
The kids and I spent a day planting the garden with two dear friends of ours. Throughout the day, Vivian played "green house lady" going in and out of the green house telling us all about the plants. Everett found toads, worms and everything in between. As we planted and worked together, our conversations went from where to plant, to how well the plants looked, to looking forward to fresh cucumbers out of the garden.
The number question I am always asked is, "Did you grow up on a farm?" No, I did not grow up on a farm, but I did work on my uncle's farm when I was in high school and my first year in college. Growing up on a farm and working on a farm are two completely different things. I grew up on a lake. My main goal for summer during my formative years was to see how dark my tan could get. A farmer's tan was considered a sin to me. The second question I get asked often is, "Did you always want to be in agriculture?" The short answer is "No."
I wish family pictures could tell the stories leading up to the picture. Every Easter, I make a family proclamation as we head to the home of my aunt and uncle, "To remind everyone we will be taking a family picture as soon as we get there. We will take what we need into the house. No one takes their shoes off. We are taking a family picture."
The first week in April I had the opportunity to speak at four locations for Women in Ag seminars across Minnesota. My topic was stress and how I handle that. As I was getting ready to go, my cousin asked how my prepping was going, and I replied, "I'm getting stressed about having to talk about stress. It's ridiculous!" It turned out to be a stress-free, fantastic week.
The kids and I have been spending some Friday afternoons handing out dairy samples at one of our local grocery stores. This goes to the top of my list of favorite ways to connect with consumers. This is a time when I am able to put a real face to a dairy farmer in my community.
This March marks one year ago when I took steps to see a counselor. The pressures of farming, finances and family was becoming too overwhelming for me to handle on my own. It was engulfing me. It was making me miserable to the point of hating where I was at in life. I wasn't suicidal, I just wasn't OK. I was miserable.
My son Everett had been wanting to start showing pigs at our county fair for a couple of years but he just wasn't on board with the market concept. When Everett takes animals to the fair, we focus on the work that it takes to get ready not where he places. Everett focuses on the care of the animals at home and at the fair. We focus on the integrity of the fair, the work it takes of everyone to make a fair. Nathan and I want Everett to recognize when he enters the ring where he will be placed compared to the other animals.
On Feb. 4, Vivian and I were on "Party Line" at a local radio station sharing about the Morrison County Milk Project I created. We are bringing whole milk and chocolate milk to high school activities' practices throughout Morrison County. It is pretty amazing to see kids get excited about milk. I started working on this project in December. In addition to bringing milk to activities, we are also raffling off dairy baskets at home games throughout the county. Each school decides where they want the proceeds to go. This project is giving back to my community.
The holiday season can be a happy time, but it also can be a not-so-happy time for some. During this season, the stresses of the day seem to be amplified by 10. Add the pressure and stress farmers are under, and it can be a very lonely time. As I enter into this holiday season, I am going to be more intentional with my time. I always enjoy my family and friends and the excitement around this time of year, and I have always been aware of my time and the need to be present with others because it is cut in half trying to get chores done in between.
Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. A time to collect the small blessings. To celebrate the big meaningful moments of the last year. To be thankful of everyone who created the last year. Maybe it is a year to give thanks of making it through a challenging time. A time we thought our hearts would never heal and they finally did. This year, as I have been reviewing the past year something is a little different of who I am thankful for. This year, I am thankful of myself. This last year has been challenging to say the least.