#2: Guilt is a Bedfellow

It’s so difficult to explain the mind set that develops. As you start caring for animals, they are part of the brood you watch over.

In the Bible, Genesis 1:24, the verse reads, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind.”

This has always struck a cord with me. Cattle are the only specific named animal of air, water or land in the Bible’s story of the six days of creation. Adam named them all and he was caretaker.

Throughout the Bible, there are references to cattle and livestock as precious and how important each one is to the flock or herd. I’ve always viewed that my purpose is life is as a caretaker to these creations and special animals.

I’ve heard many say, “What difference does it make if one dies if you would kill them for meat anyway?”

I’ve contemplated this many, many times. The short answer is that there are different degrees to death. Let’s think about the Old Testament references to burnt offerings. Many offered livestock, a fattened calf or a pure white lamb. Why would they be chosen offerings above all else?

They were chosen because they are a very meaningful part of the herd or flock. They weren’t born for that sacrifice. They were born to be part of the future. That sacrifice was a choice in death to honor something larger and greater than ourselves.

Would that death signify something entirely different than one for sustaining a family with food? Would one have brought more joy than the other? Would it matter if they were poor and had just a few animals? God never requested sickly animals either. A fattened calf was a very healthy and well off animal.

Now fast forward to modern day…

Isn’t man still entrusted with the care and health of his flock or herd? Would the impacts of a loss impact more or less?

Coming from my perspective, the premises is still the same. It’s my responsibility and purpose to raise livestock. As part of that responsibility, it’s my job to ensure that animals are healthy and happy, the epitome of that fattened calf.

When one becomes ill, it’s still my job to care for it. It’s my wish that none would ever get sick but I don’t live in a utopia of perfection, none of us do.

That means I feel guilt when something goes wrong and they do become sick. That guilt says I need to find answers and a diagnosis to make them healthy again… because I am their caretaker.

Does that differ from one species to another? NO! Does that differ between bulls and heifers? NO!

When one dies, especially one that has been ill, the guilt of failure is a hard one to deal with. It’s not just about where they may end up, it’s an emotional struggle because I’ve been given a purpose that is so much greater than just producing meat. I’ve been entrusted with one of God’s creations, as a caretaker.

That’s just the emotional end. I haven’t even discussed the financial end. For me, that aspect falls way down the line in things that matter. Their health and happiness is ALWAYS the first priority and I take my God given purpose to heart.

The guilt of that loss follows through to the loss of income for the farm too though. A lost bull is potentially a $1500 to $3000 loss, depending upon many factors. A loss of a heifer isn’t just that generation lost, it could have been 15 generations added. It’s a $1500-$3000 loss for all those generations.

It’s the loss of a grass fed animal that is costly and difficult to replace. It’s the loss of the time, energy and funds to figure out the cause of issues. It’s the guilt over missing one small detail that took a life.

Death happens on farms in a variety of degrees. None are any better than the other. Knowing an animal was healthy and happy during its life with one bad moment and knowing it’s providing meals for someone gives a feeling of thanks and gratitude.

An animal that passes for no good reason is one of heart break, heart ache and guilt. It’s purpose unfulfilled. If you are compassionate with animals like I am, that guilty feeling will eat at your insides and make you question everything. Those questions will turn you against yourself and you become your own worst critic.

The one saying goes, “if you have livestock, you have dead stock.” It’s a true statement unfortunately and a part of farm life. What I’m forewarning you on is that guilt will be a bedfellow during hard times, for many reasons.

Just take heart and remember that death comes in various degrees and so long as you’ve done everything you could, sometimes God just has his own methods despite our best intentions.

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Basics of Emergency Safety Planning for Farms

As I’ve seen this year, so many farms and ranches are being blind sided by events happening all around them. From issues of natural disasters such as flooding, blizzards and wildfires into barn fires and much more in between.

But is being prepared just about these events? To anyone that’s heard the horror stories, it’s not. Not even remotely close.

I want you to envision someone loading hay with a tractor onto a wagon. Now think of all the safety precautions most farmers usually take. But what happens if something goes wrong?

What do you if that tractor tips over, crushing the operators legs under the side? Who do you call? Who can assist? Will you need equipment that you don’t have to get that tractor up? Who does?

Now envision that you and all your farm help are sitting at a seminar. For some reason, the cattle are loose and the fencing is down. They are running up and down the road. No one from your farm is answering. Just who do the police contact? Where can they go until repair are done? Who is knowledgeable enough to get them moved? And worse, one is hit by a car, what then?

In my journey to gather a quick fill in document for you to use, I’ve not found one single source answer.

What I will be recommending to get started are some of the following:

Build yourself a weather proof container to hang on the utility pole. They are very cheap to build and won’t take much effort.

I found this instructional via this PDF link.

I suggest starting with a list of emergency contacts, assets list and a map first. Let’s start with the contacts first.

At this following link from the Connecticut Farm Bureau is a printable PDF file to fill in for those contacts. This list is for larger events or catastrophes.

I also suggest creating a special list to include others too. Like a list of contacts for neighbors or others that know how to work with livestock you may have. A general contact sheet with descriptions on duties, like equipment operator or livestock handler, is a good idea as well.

For my own personal benefit, I created this list in my favorite contact list. In case of an emergency, one or two clicks and I have the whole resource list at my fingertips.

Now onto the maps… there are several options here. One would be a general drawing on graph paper with a key to where things are located. I personally like the idea of a google map. The concept above can be found at the following link, which includes a larger plan to pull from as well. Just make sure to include a key for easy reading.

Now let’s talk about that asset list. Why is that import to add too?

That asset list will provide any first responders and idea of how many head you have, where they are located and what equipment is available, if needed. It’s a good idea to have a copy for yourself anyway in a fire safe box, especially when it comes to equipment.

These first steps will help in a multitude of situations and circumstances. I also suggest that you speak with the local fire department about the location of your information tube, along with any other first responders, such as police.

I’ll be adding more to this as time goes on. My target goal is to share a finalized google document for easy downloads and instructions. Within that document, I’m hoping to include a checklist, easy to fill in word documents and links of use.

I’m currently looking into classes offered by the Cooperative Extensions, Farm Bureau and what’s offered by various insurance agencies as well.

If anyone has any additional information or links to add, feel free to comment below. This is a group effort. It’s so all of us are better prepared.

#1: Only the Lonely

It’s said that friends are like two peas in a pod. Members of the same industry are often told that they are stronger united, like stacked peas in a pod.

Well… that’s all bullshit. A fabrication to make us feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Sure, those of us that get the chance to sell direct are, but only to a rather limited extent.

Day after day, you will spend time alone or just with your family on the farm. People won’t stop and some days you are very glad they won’t. It’s quiet, peaceful, hectic, and yes even extremely stressful.

You will have sick animals to care for during birthday parties. Hay to put in during those summer weddings. Work to get done during that homecoming game. Winter preparations to get done for fall gatherings. You schedule off farm stuff for raining days.

You may go days without talking to anyone in the “outside” world. Social media will become the way you connect and stay connected. It’s where you’ll see what’s going on out there in the world with your family and friends.

Social media and “business meetings” also known as classes and conventions will be where you’ll talk to your industry peers. And let me just say that it’s damn rare this topic will get discussed. Instead we focus on what we are proud of and have accomplished.

As you are busting your ass and others are enjoying picnics, barbecues and the girls are all headed out for shopping and pampering or a paint and sip… you will get lonely. Your mental health WILL suffer. You will get depressed. You will cry. You will feel like a bystander as life passes by.

Be alert and don’t swim in that down cycle of misery. It’s so much easier said than done. Farmers and FarmHers are a dedicated lot of people that give 110% to their Farms and ranches. We go without sleep, stress out daily over the lack of money because there is never enough and we don’t get to have a normal life as outsiders do theirs.

If you think you’re mentally and emotionally strong, farming can and probably will beat you at your own game some days. Your mind will play tricks on you and will become a nagging pessimist snot. It’s frustrating.

Just remember the reason you started. Grip that passion and hold tight because you’re going to need it. Keep a journal, keep photographs, write post it’s to remind yourself of all you’ve succeeded at. You are the one that’s going to have to remind yourself.

Your friends will get mad. Your family will too. You’ll get snide remarks about missing yet another function. Being prepared for those days will help you a lot mentally.

Just remember to not feel guilty. You are pushing to pursue your dream, not theirs. And as harsh as this sounds, if they really cared enough for you to go… they would volunteer to come sweep the barn, drive a truck or be involved to reduce your workload so that you could go enjoy coffee for an hour with friends.

For friends and family of farmers reading this, one word of advise:

Please don’t use the guilt trips. We already beat ourselves up inside our own heads day after day. Your understanding of our schedules is the greatest support you could give. We know it’s not also easy. It’s difficult on us too. Not that we would ever tell you that.

To the farmers and ranchers reading this:

Develop a network of people to talk too. While you may feel loneliness and be alone often, you are never really alone. Reach out to others in similar circumstances. Social media is a good place to start. Find some farmers like yourself. Don’t be afraid to send private messages or openly discuss this in groups designed just for farmers.

Selling Meat

Being able to sell me directly to consumers is a fickle and difficult process to wade through. Any farmer that informs you that they can sell individual cuts without a USDA processing done is lying to you.

My goal within this post is to educate both consumers and producers on the required laws. I’ll provide links for you to read the information provided directly from the resources used.

In NY State, Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Food Safety and Inspection provides lots of information about the legality’s and laws pertaining to “meats” handled and sold within the state.

The Ag and Market guidelines are provided in a pdf file at this link.

If meats are field dressed or slaughtered on farm, it is for the Farms use or their non-paying guest only and can only be custom processed. (Section 96-j)

Custom slaughter can only be done on an animal that is owned by the (Section 96-g, 11) person who delivers the animal and hires for processing. ((There is a variance in here for a hauler to deliver the animal*))

All meat for sale is required to carry a federal inspection legend. (Section 96-l)

All packages for sale will include with the legend or a label affixed to the package after federal inspection. (Section 96-m)

**Additional laws for poultry are also listed within the same PDF file.

When reviewing the brief summary brochure provided by FSIS and the USDA, found here… you see the following information.

It doesn’t seem over complicated unless you live in a very rural area like I do that has very limited access to USDA certified butchers. And if you think it’s complicated and complex as a producer…. take a look at the guidelines that a USDA certified shop must undergo. Just follow the link below.

Facility Guidelines for Meat Processing Plants

Cornell Small Farms has a more in-depth look at what you as a producer or consumer need to know. It’s some length reading but worth your time investment to know what happens with you food after it’s produced. Learn more within the Direct Marketing Guide (see the screen shot of topics offered below)

If anyone has any comments or questions, I’ll gladly add them or respond.

10 Thing I Wish I Knew – Preview

I’m starting a 10 part series on the top 10 topics I wish I had known before I had stepped off the cliff into farming.

I’ve been mentoring and advising, connecting and networking since 2009. I’d like to share the hard lessons I’ve learned and some of the more difficult things I’ve faced.

I don’t have a specific list set as of yet, so I can’t share what each of those topics will be. It’s something I’m putting a lot of thought time into.

Let me explain a little about why I want to do this… we all see these beautiful images online of those cute calves, glorious sunrises and sunsets, and even how happy we are. It’s so deceiving! Yes, it’s all those magical moments but those also this dark under belly too.

It’s not all joy, rainbows and smiles. It’s tears, bad attitudes and a lot of hard work that is rarely (if ever) truly appreciated. I’m not trying to scare anyone away from this life because it is highly rewarding but it’s also not for the faint of heart either.

The Ag community in general would either have you believe that we are this perfect model of nature and science in a perfect setting and doing what we know is best. That same Ag society likes to dictate what we promote and what we don’t. The truth and reality seem like dirty phrases and heaven forbid you speak out against it.

You’ll learn that the same drama is faced daily inside of Ag. There are so many divisions of what’s right and wrong it’s frightening at times. You’ll be pissed off and pissed on for being “different” than others, no matter what group you’re in. I’ll explain more on this is future posts.

I’ve changed as a person since I started this adventure. I’m harsher in my thinking. I have an attitude of not fucking caring anymore about what others think. I don’t expect you to care about what I think. I’ll never promote or wave a wand that says it’s my way or the highway BUT I do have some seriously strong convictions about this industry. I’m highly suggesting that you figure out what yours are because YOU WILL NEED THEM.

I’m not pretty or polished. I’m not eloquent or even polite. Don’t ever think I am. I’m a big fan of brutal truths. I swear often to get the point across because you at least pay attention (even if negatively) if I use the “F” word from time to time. I’m not a public speaker, although I have done a speech or two. I am a critical thinker, can see a much bigger picture than most and know I’m far from perfect.

All of that said, I hope that you do enjoy the series and it helps you along the way. Maybe even a few other farmers will get to chime in on this too. I’m working on a way to bring you some insight, some laughter and maybe even teach you that you are tough enough to do this too.

In my own odd way, I hope to inspire and encourage you to embrace that hidden farmer or farmher you have trapped inside. I just want to see you step into this industry with your eyes wide and your hearts open.

Self Doubt

After the issues with the butcher, I’ve been sitting here beating myself up day after day.

How could I have been so trusting? If only I had asked for that number! I failed the farm on expansions! Ugh!!!! What a screw up!

Today, I have to share these struggles. It’s completely thrown me so badly that self doubt has taken a strangle hold on my mind and my heart. I feel like a failure, not just because of the butcher but that circumstance makes my brian play tricks.

“What tricks?” You ask.

After living a life as an abused child, in many aspects, the mind grasps onto concepts of fear, shame and guilt. Fear of failure, shame as a result of screwing up and guilt because I should have known better.

Farmers, male and female alike, rarely discuss the mental and emotional impacts. It’s not like I can call up a fellow farmer and be like, “hey, I’m dealing with some fear, guilt and shame over here. Can you help me deal with it?”

Most will answer, “um, well I’m working on X right now, maybe another time.” Or they pretend they didn’t hear you. Why? Because all of us deal with these huge burdens of responsibility. Cattle that need feeding or vet care, worry over weather and getting crops in, and that never ending to do list of shit that needs doing.

Farmers tend to bury their heads and hands in work and forget that their mental and emotional health is just as important as their livestock health. How do I know this? Because guess what, I do the same thing!

I may go to the extreme and focus myself into over doing it on manual labor to burn off the anguish I feel inside. I work to forget how lonely this life is. While cattle might be great listeners, they aren’t very good at helping you fix your mental and emotional problems.

My recent battle with self doubt has put me on the precise path of mental destruction. It’s not like I know where I went wrong with the whole thing, but it has effected my trust. So badly that I don’t even trust my own thought process. 

It seems so easy for others to just say, “It’s done, I know for next time.” I sit over here thinking… “I can’t afford to fuck up again!” “Can’t I just get one thing right?” When I should be saying things like… “It’s going to be okay. I have faith that it will all work out. Somehow the farm will recover.” Or “I messed up but, what did I learn for next time?”

This aspect of the farming life is the hardest for me, it’s also been the most rewarding. Before I started raising livestock, I was mired in misery of self doubt as a result of all the abuse I had suffered.

Today, I can look back and see that the livestock and this way of life has empowered me to be me. For each failure, there are 1,000 successes. For each failure, there have been 10,000 experiences that have helped me overcome that failure. I’ve learned that I CAN DO THIS AND FAILURE IS JUST PART OF LIFE.


Nothing about farm life is ever simple or easy. I know when you look through pictures, see videos or visit, you see this utopia of peaceful… it’s an illusion. It’s all just an illusion because things are calm in that moment.

The real story is the frustration of lose pigs in rain storms, financial worries that keep us awake and give us ulcers, it’s storms that knock down trees online fence lines, it’s hours chasing cattle because someone didn’t shut the gate and it’s a mental and emotional battlefield inside our heads.

Farms are not a blissful utopia of serene country settings we show in social media… those images are just the best moments, the good in what we do. We share the best but rarely the worst. When was the last time you saw a photo of a farmer weeping as the held a sick pig or injuries calf?? When was the last time you heard about the hours spent crunching numbers to figure out how to pay the bills??

Us farmers are a hard lot. We suffer so much behind closed doors that many people can’t fathom. We don’t have time to sit and dwell on our emotional and mental health. We have shit days that we don’t want to talk about at all. 

As much as we all want to say that we are open and transparent, it’s usually only with what we do not who we are or the struggles we face. I’d like to change that. 

From today forward, I’ll be sharing more about everything I go through as a farmer… from the struggles of the mind, heart ache, failures, successes, etc. The good, the bad and the ugly. The disappointments and the joy. I hope that you’ll join me on my trip into better understanding.

Butcher Woes

This isn’t really a story that I want to share… but I think it’s one that needs to be put out there.

I recently had an episode with a butcher that has led me into an area of discussion that I never thought I’d have. I’m ashamed that I dropped the ball this badly. The following is a real situation that I found myself in.

Back in July, I had some give me an referral about a butcher shop, named Dottie Lou’s, located in Stevensville, PA. The shop is an hour drive time plus away but since I had been searching for a couple of years for a good USDA butcher, I thought I would give them a call.

When I called, the first thing I asked was if they were USDA certified. A quick response of “Yes” and I gave them my trust, booked an appointment and the next day, started thinking about the hot dogs I was going to be getting.

My appointment was booked for the week before Labor Day. Upon arrival, we held a discussion with Vincent the butcher/owner and he expressed that he would have our meat ready for pick up for the holiday weekend. Since the majority of meat would be hamburger and hotdogs, none of us thought a hanging time was really needed. We also picked up sample hot dogs from their front counter, along with some beef sticks as samples to test out. Which were really good.

Saturday of Labor Day weekend rolls around, still no phone call. Upon calling down, we were told they hadn’t gotten to it yet but they would on Wednesday. Understandable, but a simple call would have been nice. I let it go, trying to be understanding and accommodating.

Wednesday comes. I decided to call down, set up a time that would be good to talk to the butcher about some other products I would like done and to have him answer a few questions I had about things like emergency cases with animals that randomly turn aggressive or a down cow with a broken leg kind of thing. I even asked if the meat was ready. “Yup. And you can come anytime before 2 pm to discuss your questions” Great! I made arrangements for the following morning and off I went.

I arrived with my list of questions and we started going through the list. When I came to the question about what the extra charge was for individual wrapped beef sticks, an odd expression crossed his face and he proceeded to inform me that I couldn’t resale anything they did.

“Why the hell not??” I asked. “Because all of your packages are marked not for sale.” 

“Why would you do that? Was there something wrong with the meat?” Came the next questions. The response left me very angry and speechless, “Nothing wrong with the meat.” 

“Well, then why wouldn’t it be USDA certified?” I asked. “We only do USDA slaughter here, so we aren’t a USDA butcher shop.” 

None of this made any sense to me. After more questions, a few choice swear words on my part, I loaded up my not for sale steaks and hamburger. All 99 pounds of burger, which they didn’t even offer to help me load. They just wheeled it out into the sun and left it there.

On the way home, the reality of my own screw ups hit me and I realized that I had just cost the farm around $2500 of income for advancements. (I’ll explain more on that below) Even worse, I didn’t even have all of my meat because the hot dogs weren’t even done, after I had confirmed the whole order was ready for pick up the day before!

Thinking about going back made me feel ill. They said they would call when the rest was done. They didn’t. I had to call Sunday morning, again, to make the hour long drive to their shop for the third time now.

The last remaining was picked up yesterday. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I requested that everything other than the steaks be divided in half. 230 pounds was split as follows: 99 lbs of burger and 130 lbs of hot dogs. I asked for 1 pound packages, they range from just over 2 lbs to 3 lbs.  The “samples” we had are nothing like what was picked up. The samples were 8 dogs/lb., we got 5 dogs per pound. Color and taste were dramatically different.

So now here I sit, with 130 pounds of jumbo hot dogs (that I really don’t care for) and an investment of $1.75 pound and a grand total of a $532 butcher bill for good I can’t even sell!!!

Upon further investigation, these people are NOT even registered as a USDA slaughter facility either! So now I’ve lost $2,500 in income and lost another $532 in processing fees. That doesn’t count my gas or my time.

I will NEVER go back and unfortunately for the next butchers, they will be forced to allow a tour, give me real samples and will be providing me with all of their USDA numbers so I can vet them properly. I will be writing a follow up post on what to ask your butcher and give some ideas on things to look for over the next couple of days.

Chalk it up as a hard lesson learned and blame it on me for not properly doing my job for the interview process too. That income was to go toward a new barn for winter cattle housing. Now I’m not sure what will happen, we needed that income to invest.

*I also want to note that every extra dime is put into advancements to build the farm. No one that has a part of this farm has ever received a “paycheck”. We do this for the future, knowing that the hard work and dedication to that growth will eventually provide. It’s a hard and bitter pill to swallow when things like this happen.

The sharing and advise is handed out for free because I don’t want to see anyone else I go through happen to them. Education is the key to success, we all mess up but by sharing openly, this could save someone else the heartbreak I feel right now.

Legacy

I’m writing this because I need too. Excuse the errors and poor grammar. My heart is broken, my eyes are gushing and I’m devastated.

The world lost a great man yesterday. One of the greats. A man I’ve looked up to my entire life. A man that convinced me I could do anything, had the kindest heart and loved many.

A great man that used to smoke cigars and looked like Col. Sanders on the sign from KFC.

A man that homesteaded when it wasn’t cool. A man that taught me so many things about fishing and meat. 

He showed me many, many things about life in general. I have so many memories floating in my head.

I was so blessed to have this kind hearted man in my life. He pushed me when I was younger, telling me it was okay to actually get good grades because I was smarter than my circumstances. He showed me love and helped me through the hardest time of my life when the rest of the family turned a cold shoulder.

He became my dad. A man I talked to about everything. I loved and respected him 110%. He was a great man with lots and lots of knowledge. He never lost faith in me and for that I will be forever grateful.

A gentle giant that loved his grits and eggs with hot sauce. A kind and caring man that was kind to so many. A man who would curl you up in his lap, no matter how big you got, to give you hugs until you felt better.

My heart breaks knowing he won’t be a phone call away anymore. It’s broken because I lost the most important elder in my life.


Rest In Peace Uncle Jim! I’ll forever remember the kindness of your heart, the good you did for others, the love you had for us kids and all the laughs over the years. You will be dearly missed. 

Fly high, where there is no more pain. Say hi to Rosie and Belle for me. 

Too Stubborn or Too Stupid

I know there are countless numbers of people that think farmers are just “too stupid”. Too dumb to get that life could be easier with a different job. Too dumb to understand how “real life” works.

But here’s the deal folks, farmers are some of the smartest people I know. Farmers have a knowledge base that is insanely diverse. From soil health to how plants grow and develop; from crops to harvesting and storage to prevent spoilage; from livestock care and nutrition to basic veterinary care; from one unique characteristics in different species of cattle and even yet more in pigs, chickens and turkeys; and in record keeping and so much more.

Farmers are FAR from stupid, many hold degrees and others have taken many classes and seminars. 

Are we a stubborn lot of people? YES, WE ARE! We have to be to overcome hurdles in weather, health and mechanics. 

A good analogy is you know when you have computer issues and you struggles for hours attempting to get it fixed? You try different things, maybe finding it works once and then doesn’t the second time. You take your computer to a technician, get it repaired. While going to pick it back up, your car breaks down with a flat. You get AAA to come change the tire and back on your way you go, pick up the computer and go home.

For farmers, the computer is livestock. The technician is a vet and that flat is on the tractor you really need to help that injured cow. You struggle for hours trying all the tricks you know, yet you can’t help. You call the vet, wait for hours and then you get a massive bill. You need to help the cow stand with the tractor and guess what… there’s no AAA for flats on tractors. That means we change it ourselves or call another repair company with another huge bill entailed.

I’m not saying that farmers are technicians or brain surgeons. What I am saying is that we have to be able to do a lot of different stuff on any given day.  It’s a complexity that many just can’t seem to grasp. Maybe it’s a stigma. I don’t know.

Others say we are stupid for fighting to build a dream, live this life and so on. If you’d just get to know us and the reasoning behind what we do, you would discover there is a complexity to why we are the way we are. It’s passion. It’s dedication. It’s compassion for animals. It’s caring for the environment. It’s about leaving things better than they came to us. It’s about leaving a legacy for generations to come. It’s about fulfilling a life mission.

If you think I’m stupid, I’d love to talk sometime. And that’s not being sarcastic at all. I’d love to be able to share what I know and talk about my mission for the future. 

If you want to come visit, just let me know and I’ll make sure the farm is secured for the day so you can tour and learn about what I do and why. If you’d like to spend a weekend and work with me, I’ll gladly take the help.

For now, I’ll be busting butt… working circles around workaholics, to get what I need to do to build my dream and leave a legacy for my future generations.

Aches and Pains

Since the big snowfall last week, it’s been a lot of back breaking work moving snow and making sure paths were cleared for feed and water. It’s been brutal.

Saturday morning, I twisted and slipped on ice and managed to injure my lower back. After much talk with the doctor and unrelenting pain and muscle spasms, the doctor is fairly sure that I have actually sprained my back.

I had been attempting to be stretch it out, unsuccessfully, and the doctor now says she feels that it’s been aggravating it even more. Of course her next sentence would make any farmer cringe and laugh… “You need to rest it and take it easy.”

As some of you will realize by now, I’m not one to ever rest and take it easy. I’m a doer and a busy body. I need to move and go and do. It’s just who I am. Anyone that understands the life of a farmer will also know that it’s not really possible to just relax, ever.

I still get up mornings, do my chores and do what must be done. It’s a literal pain in the ass at the moment but I will keep pushing to get it done. I cannot just sit and wait or let others do my stuff. I would be crawling the walls in a really, really short time frame.

I face so many aches and pains daily it’s not even funny. Like the hole through my fingernail that I got when it got slammed between a gate and a wall. Like the dislocated pinky that I reset myself where I got it slammed between a pail and the handle somehow. Like the ache that never goes away in my foot due to muscle issues. Like the injured and wrapped knee due to a slip and fall, consequently causing a filled water tub frozen into a 200 lb block of ice slamming down on my bent knee.

Working through injuries, colds, the flu and other ailments is a standard for people in this industry. You have to be tough and you have to be determined to just keep going. There is no other options.

For now, I’ll be spending countless extra hours completing my chores because it’s what it takes to get the job done. I’m not saying I’m tough or I’m stupid… I’m saying I am damn determined to do this, not matter what is thrown my way.