Monday, February 14, 2011

Dairy Farming & Marriage, a Tough Mix

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I am certain that couples everywhere will be enjoying the fruits of their thoughtful labors: flowers, candies, dinners, dates, and romance.  However, Jon and I will be spending our day in a completely different fashion....farming.  Since we married, I don't know if I can ever recall a Valentine's Day that we have ever spent together on a formal date.  I am not complaining, believe me, we never had luck on Valentines Day.  One year, in college, Jon thought he would surprise me with a special visit to South Dakota, but when he arrived he found me sick and in bed with the flu.  He spent the evening helping me rest instead of the date he had planned.  Nevertheless this Valentines Day I was thinking about dairy farming and marriage, and how they effect the relationship between a husband and a wife.  After much thought, I believe that dairy farming is a great place to teach couples about themselves and their relationship. 
6 years ago we started farming together, and a few months later we were married.  During that time I held a full time job as a dairy nutritionist and farmed with Jon part time.  Then, 2 years ago when I quit to farm full time.  When we decided to move me to full time farmer many of our friends and family thought we were crazy.  We are both stubborn leaders, with equal amounts of passion for what we was a recipe for fights and arguments.  I assured everyone we knew what we were getting into....and I was right!
I married my best friend, who I have known since childhood.  I have been blessed to be able to farm beside him as an equal partner.  Dairy farming is VERY stressful on a marriage relationship.  There have been times along the way where dairying has challenged the strength of our bond and determination.  Whether is was the cow calving just as we were leaving for a date or the tractor breaking down just as we were finishing for the day.  There are many stressful moments in farming.   The financial stress of farming is another challenge.  These past 6 years have been a financial struggle to say the least.  No matter what we faced though, and no matter how scared we were, we have made it through.  There have been fights and disagreements, but I would never in a heart beat trade off the chance to work with Jon everyday. 
When I was working full time, I was constantly wondering what Jon was doing or if he remembered to do a task I had left for him that day.   Often I would come home and ask him how his day went and I would get the "fine" response.  Oh, how angry I would get with that!  I knew he did more than  "fine" that day, but he never told me.  Now, I have the opportunity to be there for his daily challenges, and that is so rewarding for us.  We are a team, each bringing to the table a different set of skills and traits that make us good at what we do.  I love the fact that we can milk cows in the morning together, split to do other chores and jobs on the farm for the afternoon, and return in the evening  to milk together again.  It's very rewarding to share those times together and spent that time apart.  We laugh together all of the time.  If it wasn't for laughter I don't know how we would get through the tough times. 
So for this Valentine's Day, just like others, I am thankful to be married to my best friend, who I know will be there as a teammate in life and on the farm, through sickness and health, good times and bad...always be my side.  How bless I am!!!


  1. Great tribute to the challenges of farming with your best friend and partner (business and life). It does go for cow/calf producers as well - especially this time of year when we "take turns" checking cows in the middle of the night! Happy Valentine's Day to you and Jon!

  2. Jeri: I am sure calving is very much the same! We were just through that in January, taking turns to check for new babies. I hope you and Jim had a lovely evening as well! Can't complain about the weather, that is for sure!

  3. I guess the "fine" response isn't just my husband. I come home from my full-time job, and ask "Anything interesting?", and he nearly always says "no", and then the fresh cow walks in the parlor, or we are short cows b/c one died/went down.....I've had to redefine "interesting" to include (but not limited to): births, deaths, sicknesses, visits from neighbors or salesman, crops planted or harvested, broken equipment....:-)
    I spent my Valentine's Day driving to Pork Expo, although we did get to spend a nice Sunday watching the Illini game, before we went out to sort heifers & clean lots!

  4. Carrie: That's so funny! I got that all of the time! I would find out weeks later a salesman stopped in or suddenly there was a new cow in the sick pen. We farmed all day on V-Day, but it was so nice here that I could argue against it!


I write this blog to share my passion for my cows and farming, please be respectful of that. I reserve the right to delete those comments which portray hate, call names, and are out right disrespectful. If you have an honest question, I will respond, to explain what we do on our farm, why we do it and how we do it. Please read with an open mind. My time to blog is short, as most of our days are spent caring for our beloved cows. Thank you!