farm life

Twice a day, every day, until the day we die

When we first started milking six years ago, a harsh reality hit me and my wife, this is a big commitment I've undertaken. In some ways, she has felt it is a bigger commitment than our marriage. She doesn't have to see me twice a day, but she does have to see our milkers twice a day.
For the first month that we were milking, my wife would cry during every milking. The sheer weight of the responsibility was that enormous. Eventually, milking just became a part of our life, and we accepted the responsibility, and it just became our routine, like breakfast.
That was six years ago, and for the first three years, we would occasionally have family members take over milking on some days to give us a break. For the last three years we have milked every day, twice a day, every day. Okay that's not exactly true. JoAnna got a few days off after giving birth to our first daughter. And I actually got a day off from milking when I had to have major surgery on my hand last year.
Of late, the tie to the farm has been wearing us down. We want to make great, delicious milk for our customers, we want to serve our customers, we want to make a living, but we don't want to sell our life to the farm. Maybe we'd like to take our kids to the beach, maybe disneyworld, maybe visit family, maybe go snowboarding.
The simple solution would be to get a replacement worker or farm hand. That sounds easy, but it doesn't seem so easy. First affording a full time farm hand won't be easy, training a farm hand isn't as easy as it sounds, and it's tough to get someone to get to the barn at five in the morning, and leave at seven in the evening. We will be working towards a farm worker, and if you'd like to learn dairy farming, and how to make a livelihood on a farm, contact us, we'd love to talk. But in the meantime, we need a solution, and we think we've found it.
The solution we believe is once a day milking. I had been contemplating how to find someone for evening milking and then I just asked the question, why do we need it? Well a million questions immediately popped up: Will the cows lose production, will the cows get sick, what would happen? Where does anyone go when there are questions on anything? the internet of course.
A deep in depth internet search showed that not only does once a day(OAD for short) milking work, but it also appears to work really well with Jersey cows, and rotational grazing. Most of the OAD milking information comes from New Zealand, or Middle Earth as its known to all of us nerds in the world. The Shire, I mean, Middle Earth, is leading the way in grass based dairy farming with improved genetics, and Regenerative farming techniques.
So once we discovered OAD milking was viable, we realized all the implications and opportunities potentially available. With the afternoon milking, we will often not work as hard during the day to "steel" ourselves for the evening milking, so hopefully we can actually be more productive during the middle of the day
We're crazy excited about what this could mean for us, and maybe opportunities which we have foregone. We might be able to go to church, go to hang out with people or activities later than 4 PM, we might even be able to go on a dinner date. Who knows, maybe we'd get to see you at the farmer's market.
We'll keep you updated as we start this progress. Still many more changes to be made, but we're very excited.

A girl mom on a farm

Some of you may know, we have a 2.5 year old daughter. I'm also 5 months pregnant with another daughter! We are thankful for our children regardless of gender. (Although, I do hope one day to have a boy!) Sometimes I just feel like having girls is "wasted" on me. We live on a farm and I'm about the least girly girl I know. I was always a tomboy growing up and hated dresses, the color pink and generally preferred to do "boy" things like climb trees, play in the creek and play army.

Erica and Ossie

It feels a little odd that the Lord would choose me to be the mother of two girls. Me, who always wanted ALL BOYS! I imagined myself raising boys my whole life. I don't have a clue how to french braid hair (Or do much else besides ponytails, basically), I think bows are fussy and annoying, skirts and dresses get in the way when pants are much more practical. I'm not afraid of bugs, worms, blood, poop, spiders or mud. (I do have a thing with frogs...the just give me the willies. Something about the hopping...) I have a stomach of iron and am generally very down to earth. Really, I think the Lord specially designed me to live and work on a farm...

As odd as it sounds after all that, I feel like the Lord has been preparing me my whole life to be the mother of girls. My whole life, most every big life experience I have had has been all girls. Dance, Sonic Drive-In, human ecology, fibers, I was always surrounded by almost all girls (with a few pretty cool dudes mixed in there).

I feel like all of those experiences have pointed and prepared me for raising girls of my own. I saw the actions of girls I admired and actions of other girls that I didn't. And I wonder if the Lord chose me to be a girl mom so that I would raise more girls like me. I'm not saying that I'm perfect. (Definitely not!) but I think the world needs women that are willing to work as hard or harder than any man and aren't afraid of getting a little muddy along the way. Women who aren't superficial and care only about their looks. (I rarely wear make up, don't really keep up with fashion and get my hair cut like every 2 years...Those things aren't bad, they just aren't as important me as good character)  Women who love life, God's beautiful Creation and love to be in nature as much as possible. THAT'S what I want my girls to be.

I'll probably never be the mom that gets matching outfits for my girls. Or messes with bows (let's get real: how often do they leave them in longer than 5 minutes anyway?!) or has the perfect Christmas/Easter dresses planned out months in advance. My girls will probably have a bit of a wild side (maybe feral would be a more accurate description...) but I can tell you that at two and a half, my oldest loves fiercely. And she would rather be outside playing in the water of our local creek or on the river in a kayak with her mom or dad than just about anywhere else. I pray that both our girls will learn that hard work is (as their "Poppy" says) "good and good for you!" I may not have a clue what to do with girls, but I pray that the Lord would continue to guide me as their mother and help me to teach them how to be truly awesome women that are inspiring, love the Lord with all their hearts and who are deep, sincere and real people. I think that's what every mother wants for any of their kids.