Brenda Rudolph, Special to Agweek
I came across a west Asian fable on social media the other day, "The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the axe. For the axe was clever and convinced the trees that because his handle was wood he was one of them." The number of dairy farms exiting the industry is heartbreaking. Many of these farm families are not exiting the industry by their own choosing but by an axe. Many of them are feeling like they are being pushed out.
This last year I began struggling with my identity. The idea that my identity needed to fit in just one box hindered my creativity. As people, it is our natural way to be always wanting or striving to be able to place each other in boxes. We want to be part of boxes. We want to know how we relate to each other with our own commonalities. We think being put in a box will somehow make us feel like we belong somewhere thus supporting our identity. Not fitting into a box, I began to feel lost. I began to question my "why." I have never felt like I fit into just one box.
I am struggling to put words on my blank computer screen. I have about three different documents open with random thoughts put down. I am starting and then deleting and starting again and then again. There are so many words in my heart. I am struggling to put them in sentences to make sense or have a direction.
For about three years, Everett had been asking to get chickens. He began saving for chickens over the past year. This spring, he got baby chicks in a variety of different breeds. He spends endless time in the chicken coop. When I help carry water, he tells me about each and every one. I try my hardest to show I am interested in what he has to say. I look at the chickens and think, "when are you going to start laying eggs?" I know he cares about them, so I care with him. When he lost two chicks at the beginning, he was devastated. Yes, we had a funeral for two chicks.
I recently was invited to a meeting in town. A meeting that was focused on how to use local foods to better a downtown. How to use local foods to better a community. How to use local foods to create a better food experience. Questions were asked about how to use local foods to address food insecurities and food deserts. As the meeting began, it was the normal run of the mill go around the room, introduce yourself, why you are there and what local foods mean to you. There were about 50 people in the room.
When I was 10 years old, I was saving for a 10 speed bike. A pink and black Huffy bike with pink curved handle bars. I can still remember the excitement I felt when I finally had enough to buy my bike. Why I thought that would be a good purchase on a gravel road I still do not understand. I can't tell you how many times I almost wiped out on the loose gravel on the road because of the skinny tires. I loved my bike. It was my very first big purchase on my own. I still remember how excited I was when it was time to go and get my brand new bike.
On Dec. 18, my husband and I milked cows together on our small dairy farm. I left the barn and got myself and my daughter Vivian ready. Vivian and I headed to Albany for a Focus on Farming program put together by KASM radio. There was panel discussion on the new farm bill and various topics about farming. I am not in Rep. Collin Peterson’s district, but growing up I was. He says he represents dairy farmers and I am a dairy farmer.
"We are in this together." I constantly hear this statement, but I feel this is far from the truth. Large dairy versus small dairy conversations are trying to be had but are silenced, to the point of hearing, "Well maybe they would look closer at their balance sheet if they had more cows."