Therapy

I need to tell you a little story about how I got started in farming….

Back in 2006, due to some wrong decisions based off from my not-so-healthy mental health, I spent 60 days in the county jail for bouncing checks and writing a fraudulent check. It was what I thought was sincerely the lowest point in my life.

I was often placed in a cell, alone with my thoughts. Removed from everything that I had struggled with my whole life, things started to hit me where it hurts. A family that could actually care less about me, me the internal person who was shattered and just wanted people to back off.

People backed off alright. They backed right into family court and while I struggled with the worst time of my life, realizing that I was not healthy mentally, that I felt unwanted and unloved, crucified for making bad decisions in signing my name as people hammered on about money, money, money as they bleed me of every penny I made and then some…

I also kept getting kicked while I was done. My children were taken away and split. My ex husband taking the two boys and my own mother lying to the court saying I was homeless after the 60 days getting my daughter.

It’s probably a good thing I sat in a jail cell at the time as people’s true colors began shining through because I will express that I wanted to DIE! Sitting in jail, no privacy, in quarantine and monitored for even a simple shower, unable to even write a letter or call home and losing my kids and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do.

I died during those days. I broke into nothing but a shell, a shell that belonged no where and was treated like the scum of the earth in a court room not once but twice, not twice but three times. My heart was ripped from my chest and I died.

Until you’ve sat in that cell, alone with just thoughts, you have no idea how that will all break a person. I was no one. I had no interests. No faith. No life. No family. In one fell swoop, everything was gone.

Fast forward a bit. I’m home. Lost dazed and confused. No kids tearing through the house, needing to get ready for school or play dates. I started mental health counseling. I didn’t even know my own likes and dislikes. I worked as a painter, missed a lot of time for family court, and the rib kicks just kept coming.

For two years, I visited the court 87 times and went on trial. I was demonized for giving my kids chores like loading the dishwasher and not taking the McDonald’s because I wanted them to eat healthy and become responsible adults.

In 2008, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. My world tilted all kinds of haywire. No kids. One hour a week visitation and then listening to them scream they wanted momma when the time was up. Losing my job and being told that I needed to avoid the chemicals. 

Just who the hell had I become?!?!? I couldn’t answer that and still have a hard time with it most days. My therapist told me to get a camera. My doctor put me on injections and a new script for depression and anxiety.

Per the therapist, I began taking photos of things that sparked my interest. That is, when I was actually awake. I spent about 18 hours a day or more sleeping thanks to the MS shots. I just kept spiraling low and lower.

My photos began to take shape, themes started developing. I worked with the doc to get off the shots. I changed my diet. I started to exercise, rather unsuccessfully.

A few months down the road, I have 1,000’s of photos all about farms and livestock, cows mostly. I was taken to a small farm that had a couple of Jersey calves and I feel in love! They gave me one of those bull calves to raise.

We brought him home and I would sit for hours visiting with him. I would brush him daily and spoil him with treats. I was a different person when I was with him. I liked myself when I was. I was calm and patient. Relaxed and able to finally think without all the static of lifelong insults and slander.

Buck ,the steer, changed my life forever. That single steer became my driving force to get out of bed, to stay awake and to stay active. Belle came the following year, along with 3 other calves. She came as a rescue in horrible shape. Her and I bonded day one. As I watched her blossom with loving care that I gave her, I blossomed too. She became the reason I wanted to farm.

I built a legacy around what she gave to me. My legacy is to honor these animals for what they have the ability to do. I feel it’s my duty and my obligation to do what is morally right with their lifestyle and their care. This farm is the heart and soul of me… my growth, my so-called rehab, my passions, my heart and soul. 

All of this is important to understanding me… the sympathetic one that never saw an once of sympathy. The one that opens the farm to anyone needing a safe place to collect their thoughts. The one that envisions and hopes she’s preventing suicide because she simply cares and understands.

This farm, from the smallest piglet to the largest cow, from the birds that sing to the dancing butterflies is a place of peace. A retreat of happiness and laughter, of unconditional love ❤️ 

To those struggling that might read this, there is no judgement here. I don’t care what you make, how you dress (just bring boots or junk sneakers), what kind of car you drive or the funds in the bank. I see us all as silent sufferers of too much in today’s society. If you ever need to chat or would just like a word of encouragement, please feel free to email me farmgirldoreen@gmail.com.

If you would like to schedule some retreat time for a pasture walk, nature sit, photography day just hit me up. I’ll be more than happy to assist!

Just please remember, you don’t have to share the issues but you can absorb the service available.

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Too Much Activity 

There’s been so much going on that I’m not even really sure where to begin…

These newest piglets are giving me fits. True escape artists, they are often found out to pasture with the cattle or hanging out on the bedding pack for the cows racing between animals 100 times their size!


They look so tiny out there and it’s sincerely something that sets my anxiety off. I’m so worried that they will get stepped on or crushed. I’ve fixed fence, done repair after repair and STILL they get out. They will get zapped every time they go running through but they just don’t seem to care. 

They are little patience testers that’s for sure!

Once I get them back for feeding, they could care less. They spend more time nursing on mom and don’t even care that she’s not laying down!!

They look so sweet and innocent in photos. They are far from it!

My favorite time of day is nap time around here. You can’t beat the bliss and quiet of a pig pile.


I also relocated the boar today… I’m going to get photos tomorrow of him with his new pals. This will be his last breeding here on the farm, then he will find a new home. I hate to see him go because he is so gentle and so sweet but I can’t use him to breed his own daughters.

I’ve decided to keep two of the gilts from Petunia’s batch. They have done extremely well in growth and development, are super docile and friendly as can be. 

I’ve been working on my plans for dehorning, castrations and shots for the cattle. It’s going to be a big undertaking and a lot of work but it needs to be done. I haven’t made any headway on my list at all either, which really sucks.

I’ve been sidetracked with work duties and I’m frustrated beyond imagination at how much time it’s taking to complete this task. I already have plans on Friday so I’m down to tomorrow and Thursday to get a long list of stuff completed.

There are many items needed and some work to get done. I’m currently waiting the arrival of my order I placed last week that was scheduled for delivery today and didn’t come.

I still need to get a few things from the vet and the supply store, get out the tools and equipment I already have and get fencing installed. I figure it’s going to take two days to do all 37 head currently here.

I’ll fill in details about what the items are, why they are used and what the process is within future posts.

Right now… I’m off to bed, overworked and underpaid with a splitting stress headache and an upset stomach for the second night in a row.

Knowledge 

Knowledge is powerful, even in agriculture.

What baffles me is the sheer number of farmers, typically newbies that call me up for mentoring and they are clueless about the animals they raise.

Great example comes from 2 examples of people raising pigs.

1- I have a sick piglet (not really at piglet at the age) and I’m not sure what’s going on. Ask a series of about 5 questions. Determined the pig had pneumonia and needed treatment.

No treatment for fear of actually giving a pig antibiotics and the end result is it dies. 

One thing about me is that I’m blunt. Second is I can’t stand someone who guilt trips me over given advise, tying to flip it back on me that I’m trying to destroy them somehow. 

Weeks go by and an message surfaces. Still no apologies, just expectation over not hurting my feelings and forgiveness. I don’t forgive blanent Animal neglect and suffering… in fact, it pissed me off enough that I’ll call the local large animal investigator.

2- local pig grower has a sow that recently farrows. It goes down and it’s determined by another advisor that she’s lacking calcium. She’s given shots to get her back up.

I get a call. No mineral program in place. Sow being underfed and they are worried about saving a damn penny to spend 2,000 more plus.

End result, they stopped in and have now switched feeds. After sending link after link about those minerals needed, they saw where they had gone wrong at least.
All of this over the past few weeks has pointed out one thing to me… maybe I’m unique when it comes to this farming thing. I won’t make a single step without much research into whatever I’m doing. 

From soils to feed, 

To genetics and illness.

Nothing is left to chance. I learn as much as human possible before I alter anything.

Baffles my mind that others don’t do the same. I think we’ve lost the meaning behind “Knowledge is Power.”

Deep Breaths

Phew, it’s been one heck of an active week since I last posted.


From fast growing piglets to….


Even bigger and faster growing pigs to….


Fat snow flakes, broken gates and whipping winds to…


Happy and playful bloodhounds to….

One tired farmer from feeding hay, moving snow, carrying 5 gallon buckets of feed and water and trudging through 3 different layers of snow. 

It’s also been an active week with my nose buried in paperwork and new management binders.


From livestock records, calendars, calving dates, goal tracking and sales promotions and income/expense tracking… it’s all in this basic binder. Not sure how long it will stay this size but it’s started, going and gives me an awesome way to stay on top of managing the entire farm alone.

It’s also handy in case something ever does happen to me. Imagine how complicated it would be for someone who knows nothing about what I’m doing to take over if I ever got in an accident? Well, now everything is hard copy documented. 

From upcoming vet visits, feeding dates, and even shot records are all in there. One quick hard copy book that includes passwords for social media accounts, emails, websites, personal accounts, business accounts and all important contacts for things like feed and supplies.

I tell people all the time to plan for the worst. This is my way of securing a little of the unknowns in a “what if” scenario.

Now it’s onto my office… with whiteboards filled with important dates, names of customers and what they ordered, and to again list emergency contact numbers.

Feels good to get at least one business this organized! Just two more to go!

No one ever said I was sane or that I ever sleep much. One thing is sure… I’m more productive with my planners and organization!

Anyways, it’s been a fun filled day or browsing and conversing over 12 years of paperwork with the attorney. Now that actually makes me super sleepy. Time for an early night, a little rest and relaxation and recharge to forge ahead again tomorrow!

Another day 

Another day, another dollar… if only I made dollars everyday. If only all days logged paid hours.

I’m not complaining, just contemplating this crazy life farmers lead. The waiting for 18-24 months for a pay day when running a birth to beef operation. The waiting 6 months from farrowing to fork for pork.

The care and compassion into keeping great sows, feeding them as piglets grow inside for 114 days (3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days). The breeding with a boar or a bull, worrying which day they might turn.

Farmers are high risk gamblers. 

We gamble on Mother Nature to make our fields and crops flourish and grow. Sometimes, she swipes down her wrath in rain, floods, tornadoes, hail, high winds and brutal cold late in the year. She ruins our best laid plays and kicks our bank accounts while she laughs in a swirl of dust as droughts dry everything to a crisp. Truly, to the farmer, she is an evil bitch.

We gamble that no animals with get sick or hurt, living until we can sell them as feeders, heifers, bagging cows. We pray our stock stays healthy and sound to feed a family or supply dairy.

We gamble that the time and costs we put it will be covered when we sell. We gamble that wild animals don’t maim or kill.

We even gamble by telling our stories. We pray each night that people see the truth in what we do, sharing video and posts praying there isn’t much ado.

We struggle sometimes to make ends meet. We go without so our animals can have. We fret and worry and swear we will sell but when it comes right down to it… we can see our own reality hidden within the eyes of a beloved cow and we just can’t do it. 

When we sell, we have truly given our everything. Through weather, tragedy, poor markets and usually without much gain. We watch our animals sell off one by one. A piece of ourselves, our heart, leave with them.

Our families break apart under the stress of our gambling darts. We struggle with stress when so many things fall apart. We fall into the pits of depression and despair as we watch that last gate close, sealing an unknown fate.

It’s not just one type of farm either. It’s all of us, small and large alike. From beef cow to dairy calf, from poultry to swine, we’ve all stood at a tipping point. A point of make or break, sink or swim.

We are a determined lot and you’ll often hear, “I’ll never give up” because it’s true. Once you’ve lived this life, it becomes part of who you are. Right down to the very marrow in your bones.

So the next time you follow a tractor going to slow, instead of blowing your horn. Be patient and gives us a wave, it might be the only real kindness that we get that day.

A simple wave can make all the difference. I’ll promise you that nearly every farmer WILL wave back. Even if only as gesture of thanks for understanding.

For understanding that we are just logging another day to try to make a dollar, against all those bad betting odds.

That’s my rambling thought for the day. Based off the kindness and support of others and their impacts on me. 

Crossing Lines

In my quest to be a good farmer and do something important, beyond just saying I raise animals for meat, I’ve been involved in several groups to discuss different options with many different perspectives.

One of those groups brought people together that were vegans, vegetarian, paleo and every other diet choice in between to hold open discussions with farmers from all forms of production from organic to holistic to humane to small family dairies to commercial crop farms.

In that group, I was often crucified by the vegans for even raising animals. It didn’t matter what any of us did to ensure a good life or not. I was crucified as a small farm (I’ll explain more on that in another post) by the larger farms. Eventually, I just couldn’t take the emotional beating anymore.

I was already facing so much adversity at home, in my own neighborhood and even with my own bank as a crazy hobby farmer. I decided it would be best if I didn’t get beat up anymore. I made the post about my reasons for leaving, with a special note that if anyone wanted to connect outside the group to please send me a friend’s request.

Low and behold, several people (11 to be exact) sent requests. In private messages I asked them why they decided to be “friends”. To my surprise, several wanted to learn more about my practices. It began a trend with me. A trend of documenting and sharing my experiences and the aspects others didn’t want to share.

I was fully transparent. I hide nothing. I’ve shared experiences with the recovery of a calf that got stepped on, asking for shared prayers. I still have people ask me to this day how she’s doing (3 years later!). I’ve shared my heartbreak over the lose of my first beloved cow (that still brings a tear to my eye when I think of her).

I’ve shared the loss of piglets, the mystery deaths of cattle and other hard details. My old partner would yell and scream to not share those things. That they make me look horrible.

Farming isn’t all beautiful sunsets, cute calves and perfect crops. It’s not all bad either. It’s a combination of both.

Back to my friends I made through the groups…

Needless to say, they are still listed as friends and again, they rarely comment. Tonight, one of them decided to make a comment on a difficult post about an 11 day old piglet that had been stepped on. We shall call her ML.

ML expressed that I should “Take comfort from the knowledge that, because of [you], she knew love, and warmth, and comfort in her 11 days. So many of her species don’t.”

A little thing about ML… well, ML is a vegan. A person who, according to many in Ag, is my archenemy. I’ve never felt that ML and myself are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Through various conversations, I know the reason she is a vegan is because it’s her way of demonstrating her dislike of modern practices when it comes to animals.

It’s something we both agree on in some aspects. The only way I know how to make a difference is to share what I do, good and bad alike. I show how vulnerable I am emotionally with those in my care. 

ML’s comments tonight mean so much more than simple words. It’s complete understanding and her support that made my heart so full that my eyes actually leaked. 

I’m not saying “follow me” or “do as I do”, but what I am saying is this….

You can’t present a valid argument for the way you farm unless you are willing to take a long, hard close look in the mirror. You also can’t expect people to ever fully trust you either if you aren’t telling your full story, the good and the bad, the things that work and the things that don’t.

You want open conversation, you have to first drop the walls you’ve constructed around yourselves. Afraid their mentality might rub off like some bio security breach of an infectious disease? Well, you know they have the same issues.

When farmers start being fully open about EVERYTHING is the day the people we connect with will see the reasoning for everything we do and vice versa.

I’m not stump speaking, I’m expressing what I’ve seen, witnessed and lived. Stop using the buzzwords. Stop reacting to outrageous slanders. Start being YOURSELF! 

Pocket full of Ice cream 

This post doesn’t have anything to do with ice cream… but let’s just think about what would happen if you kept ice cream in your pocket. It would melt into a mess.

That’s kind of how my day has gone. A melting, gooey mess.

Might be my heart that’s melted more than once today. As piglets nibble grain from my fingers, a crack around my heart appears. As I watch alpacas running, doing stupid crap and fighting even, another crack appears.

It’s so hard for farmers, especially women farmers, to stay detached. It’s what makes us unique within Ag. You’ll find a lot of females caring for calves, even late into the night when one under their care is sick. You’ll find more women bottle feeding orphaned lambs. Even more tending nursery stock in greenhouses.

It’s not just limited to that either. Farm women are natural caretakers. It’s something we won’t ever be equal with a man on. We are more compassionate, more giving of ourselves for others and in the end, eternally more emotional about it all.

Our emotions rule. We get attached. Our hearts melt like warm ice cream as we watch animals flourish and learn to love us back. Think it’s not true? 

I’ll list prime examples of what I have witnessed:

  • A fellow pig farmHer goes out to pasture with her pigs, she calls for them and they come running. 
  • A fellow dairy girl that gets up in the middle of the night to give electrolytes to two ill calves
  • Another pig farmHer that worries about taking a road trip because her sow is due to go into labor
  • The countless dairy girls that have shed tears and broken hearts over the loss of a beloved cow
  • Another that rescues horses from horrific situations and will then sit with an injured one all night in the barn because she doesn’t want it to be alone
  • The youngster, age 12, that excited awaited the birth of a calf for hours and sat for even longer as it was dried off, nursed and napped.

Everyone of these examples was in the past 3 days! Not one of them my own. This are my sisters, my fellowship of dedicated farmHers, and the truest salt of the earth.

Watching a commercial yesterday by Dodge trucks (which in my opinion is the greatest commercial of all time) with a voice over of Paul Harvey and his monologue about “God made a Farmer”, I realized that every single one of those things is something farm women, aka farmHer’s has done for many, many generations.

My grandmother would nurse sick calves in her kitchen and float egg bound chickens in the tub. Her mother that would get up before dawn to milk the cow, tend the calves and still have breakfast on the table before sunrise.

The generation before her that came from a city and learned how to make butter and cultured cheese. My immigrant, great-great-great grandmother that ran a business and still kept a cow and chickens in the barn behind the building.

Women, especially farm women, that came before us knew that life was hard. They knew that they would never get recognized for their contributions and the hard work they devoted. I’m blessed that those genetics were passed on to me.

The genetics of hard work, being not recognized for my contributions as much as others, and the care and compassion I know runs thru my veins have all given me the courage, the determination to keep going and moving forward.

So today, I’m content with my melted pocket full of ice cream and I’ll leave you with my all time favorite commercial.

Screaming

There was a whole lotta screaming going on over here on the farm today…

To make a long story short, I’m a single handed farmer. There are just some things that there’s no way to do alone.

Pig castration is one of those things. Waiting weeks hasn’t been fun. Day after day, watching piglets grow bigger and fatter and heavier. And still waiting. Waiting for a vet to arrive on the farm…

Waiting for my appointment that keeps getting shuffled back because larger farms need a vet. Well… now I have nearly 12 week old piglets getting castrations.

It’s so much better when they are small. One person to hold and another to castrate. Done in less than 5 minutes each.

Bigger pigs? Oh yeah, they take a whole lot more work, struggle and man do they fight! 


There’s a short burst clip of the activities. 6 people, not including myself. 2 veterinarians, 4 students and me.

Needless to say… by the end of the time when we were all sore, deaf and half frozen, the vets admitted it should have been done weeks prior. Nice to hear but it’s not their lively hood on the line.

I did good today. No tears were shed and I’m still emotionally okay. Maybe I’m too tired and it hasn’t sunk in yet. 

Right now, I’m ready for an extra hot bath, a beer and a back rub. One out of three isn’t bad as I sit here on my barstool nursing a bear and waiting for wings.

Tomorrow I’m going to be sore as hell but that’s okay. Today, well today, I did loads of physical labor and got a HUGE load of work that needing doing finally off my “to do list”. 

For right now, it’s a single beer, a dozen wings, an order of fries and an extra order of onion rings (no, I haven’t eaten all day and yes I’m going to devour it all). For right now, I raise my bottle to a job finally done.

Tonight I’ll sleep since I haven’t since 5:30 am yesterday and maybe even sleep in a little late. Hangry pigs or not, I’m due for a rest.

Cheers! Salude and good night! 

Schedules Change

Well… my schedule is very OCD with the times I hit the farm for chores. If I run late, I have angry animals. If I’m early, the animals almost act confused. I’m sort of the same way. Let me explain…

I know I farm and everything changes on any given day, but let me tell you just how off my game it makes me. I end up lost and forget steps in what I’m doing. It doesn’t matter if I do the same order of tasks twice a day, I just feel off. It’s like someone forgot to synchronize my feet and hands with my brain.

I know this happens every single time and yet every time it does happen, it sets me on edge and I get mad at myself for the missteps. I can’t explain it appropriately but it’s like an electric current that sparks and arcs in the wrong patterns along wires.

Tomorrow, I have an afternoon time scheduled with the vet for pig castration. It’s going to throw my day for a loop and I’ll promise you I will be shedding some tears. Oh yes, I’m THAT farmer. The one that cries when her animals are hurt, even if it’s for their greater good. It just bothers me to no end.

I wish I could say I was one of those farmers that could just shut all these emotions off. I can’t. I’m okay with that. I care. I get out of step and things bother me. I am far from the perfect model of a farmer but, I’ll promise that no matter I am okay with shedding tears because I do CARE. I’ll promise that when things go completely wrong that it’s also completely right.

This life isn’t easy, sometimes made more difficult by our own hands and minds. It’s a business that runs like clockwork, has demanding clients (animals) and for this business, an over sensitive boss. I have days I’m angry beyond all reason. I have days I’m sad and I cry. I have days I’m happy over the antics of animals. Other days, I just feel blah and nearly blank of emotions. Those are my worst days. The days I question giving up.

Tomorrow, between the tears and getting yelled at by the vet for waiting so long (not all my fault either) I will have one of those blah moments. I wish I could say that since I know it’s coming, I won’t let it bother me, but ultimately the reality of it all is that I will. I will second guess what I’m doing. Second guess how I could allow it to happen.

Sometimes, there just aren’t enough hour in the day. That’s been the story of my life lately. Sometimes it’s so bad there aren’t enough days in the week. I wish I could say that life on the farm was perfect and things got done on time, every time. It doesn’t. There are too many factors. Factors that I can’t do some of the jobs that need doing alone. Factors that I’ve been rescheduled so many times with the vet (because larger farms take priority). Factors that I don’t have a hired hand or much help at all, other than one teenage girl.

So yeah, schedules change. Sometimes for the good and more times than not, for the bad. It’s all in a days work on the farm. It happens. Unfortunately.

The good news is that all my little pigs are doing great and growing good. Before I  know it, they will be leaving. Only 6-1/2 weeks left. Then I’ll be waiting for the next batch to break into lap piglets that give me piggy kisses and bring a huge smile to my face. All I need to do is find a way to breath in each moment now.

As the day comes to a close, I’m thankful and blessed to be able to live this life. Even if it’s extremely hard at times. It’s made me into a stronger person in so many ways. For that alone, I’m forever thankful for all that I do have and I’ll forego thinking about that things that go wrong. I am blessed. I am a farm girl.