Thursday, March 5, 2015

Passion & Purpose

Passion. I have a great passion for everything dairy.  Passion was a word that I only started to understand when I was a 16 year old dairy ambassador and even at 32, I still don’t understand passion in its fullest form but I live passionately every day of my life.  The past year has been a challenge that I never saw coming and I definitely didn’t know if I could and how I would handle it (someday when I am strong enough I may blog about it).  The challenge shook me to my core and made me truly reflect on what I am passionate and how I can make sure that I am living that passion every day.  I grew up on a farm, I lived on a farm and in a heartbeat I would trade my best day of work for my worst day of farming.  Even though some days where emotionally heart breaking, physically exhausting and mentally difficult, I will farm again, I have to farm.  Farming is my passion.

I get tears in my eyes thinking about all that love about farming.  I love the joy of growing food, raising animals for food and watching people grow in their jobs, when they truly “get” the importance of feeding the world.  I love watching things grow!   I believe farming is one of few occupations which allows a deep connection to nature and God.  Farmers are constantly at the mercy of Mother Nature and they are persistently praying.  They pray for rain, sun, cows, calves, pigs, sheep, chickens…and most of all they pray for their families.  Most truly passionate farmers are also so selfless that they hardly ever pray for themselves. 

There is so much pride in producing food for the world.  At the grocery store I am so encouraged by the images of families buying dairy products or enjoying a dairy treat.  I am often thanking them for consuming our foods.  Dairy is such a healthy and filling food.  It’s safe, nutritious, and wholesome…and at the end of the day I am more than willing to eat and drink what comes off of my farm.  There is a lot of joy that comes with knowing that.  What I do as a farmer matters to those who consume my products, and in turn those who consume my products matter to me.  A dairyman I know, often said, “I want to be able to produce a product that a single parent household can afford to purchase and is an important part of a healthy diet”, I completely agree. 

I get excited when I meet a farmer that is also excited about farming and I try to encourage farmers who are feeling beaten down by their profession and calling. Farming is not for the weak, it is for the strong, but it is for those who are strong in their passion and dedication for agriculture.  Very few will know the pure joy of delivering a live calf, when it should’ve been dead.  Few will know the beauty of a sunrise in the morning on a day you will be making hay.  Few will know the sense of pride when you have a cow on your dairy who has lived to 12+ years old.  Few will enjoy sharing with someone with no connection to agriculture at all the passion and compassion that we have for what we do every day.  I love everything about dairying and farming.  It might sound completely nuts, but I love even the worst day on the farm, because at least I am still doing what I love, what I am passionate about.  Dairy farming is what brings tears to my eyes and a purpose and passion to my life.  These are my God given skills, and I intend on using them. 


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Men's Sausage Dinner: Faith, Food, Fellowship, Farming

German deliciousness! Sauerkraut & Sausages!
This past weekend was our annual church Men’s Sausage Dinner.  There is so much about this event that just brings joy to my heart!  First it is an event that highlights our local German heritage which is focused on a delicious meal that few can really enjoy.  Sauerkraut is amazing!  This particular sauerkraut is made with shredded potatoes, mashed potatoes, pork pulled off the bone, and sauerkraut (fermented cabbage for those who are not familiar with it).  This recipe is a “secret” recipe that only the men of the parish know how to make, some of those men being my brother and my father.  Another trademark of this delicious meal are the locally made sausages.  The meat is from animals which are donated to the church from area farmers.  This year my brother and father donated a couple cows and a few other neighboring dairy farmers did the same.  Area hog farmers donate pigs and together, there is enough meat to feed the hundreds that come to eat at church, purchase take-out meals and extra meat and sauerkraut to sell. 

Starting months in advance men from the church organize who is going to donate animals and from which farms.  Once enough animals are found, a crew goes around to each farm and picks up the animals and delivers them to the butcher.  All of the work for this event from the organizing to the washing of dishes is done by the men from church.  It’s a great event that my dad looks forward to each year.  He and my brother enjoy working with other men from church for a good cause, but also working together in male comradery.  I did chores the morning of the dinner so my dad could help. The night after the dinner, he was just buzzing with stories about how fun it was to work with his friends and neighbors.  My brother was working the day before, pulling the meat off of the bones for the sauerkraut.  He was so dedicated he even went into work at 3am to get the pots of sauerkraut cooking!  While this was a men only event, it did my heart good to milk for my dad so he could help the church and have a great time in the process!  I’m already looking forward to it next year!  A celebration of Faith, Food, Fellowship and Farming!