|Doing calf chores on my family's farm.|
I had the pleasure of milking cows with my dad last night. I took advantage of the situation and asked him about his memories of his dad and grandfather. He started sharing stories from the past. The stories that are so awesome that you hope you can remember them forever. While dad was talking about his family, I asked him what his grandfather, my great grandfather, would think about the happenings at the farm (new parlor being constructed). My dad smiled with a big grin, “I think he would be proud. I think he would say to me, ‘That’a boy! Way to go!’” I smiled. I know dad would be right but what I didn’t expect was the reason dad thought his grandfather would be proud. My dad smiled again, “Your great grandfather would be proud because we are still working and milking cows, in fact almost 130 cows in the original barn that he built when he started farming here years ago.” It was the idea that we were still using something that my great grandfather built and that through the generations has become a legacy of farming for my niece and nephew. I couldn’t help but smile and be proud also. It has been such a blessing to be the collection of the generations that came before me: the ideas and dreams that they had, the hard work that they did, and everything that they strived for. If it wasn’t for certain decisions at a certain times by these ancestors, I might not be who I am today doing what I am doing.
A path was laid out for me before I was born, this I know and I have complete faith in. A perfect example of this path is when my father was a graduate from high school. My grandfather asked him what he wanted to do with this farming career, there was no doubt my dad was coming home to farm it was just a matter of what was he going to raise and grow. My grandfather had a variety of crops: corn, soybeans, oats, wheat, alfalfa and he even grew peas for the local canning factory. My grandfather also raised dairy cows, beef steers, hogs and in his younger years, horses. When my dad was a senior in high school my grandfather was moving towards having only pigs and beef cattle. He had built a hog barn and he was breeding his Holstein milking cows to Herefords, starting his beef herd and transitioning out of dairy. When my dad was faced with the question of what he was going to raise, he couldn’t get himself to have a farm without dairy cows. My dad and my grandfather went on a shopping trip for Holstein heifers which resulted in a replenishing of the dairy herd as well as breeding all of the dairy cows back to Holstein bulls. If dad had not made the choice to have dairy cows on our farm, my siblings and I would not have had the opportunities that we had growing up. Sure, we would have had beef cows and pigs, as well as crops, but there is something special about dairy cows, something special in all of our hearts. Without dairy I would have never had the opportunity to show cows for 4-H or be a finalist for Princess Kay and have my head carved in butter at the Minnesota State Fair. Perhaps I wouldn’t have gone to college for dairy production, had the opportunity to operate a family farm or work in a career where I am able to help other dairy farmers. Based on that single choice that my dad made, because he wasn’t ready to have a farm without dairy cows, I am who I am. I am the collections of all the generations that came before me and that is just cool! It’s this very reason that I enjoying spending a little time asking my dad these questions and learning more about those who came before me. I have so much to learn from them.