For some reason, it takes the holiday of Thanksgiving for me to stop and reflect on all the things and people I am thankful for.
I really should reflect more frequently on being grateful. In our fast-paced world, we seem to constantly be looking ahead at the next thing we need to do, rather than living in the moment.
During this holiday season, I am going to try to slow down and live in the moment. I am going to spend time with my family and loved ones. I am going to reflect on the reasons that I am thankful. And I hope you will do the same.
Growing up, my summers were spent in the dusty straw wagon, beside the cool cow tank and out in the green, meadowy pasture.
I was not like the other kids at school who swam daily at the public pool, biked on sidewalks through their neighborhoods and vacationed on beaches in Florida.
The funny thing is that they still think they had it better. But the truth is, being raised a farm kid is the greatest gift I could have ever received.
And I could not be more thankful to be a farmer’s daughter.
Today, I am thankful for all the lessons that I learned on our farm.
I learned the true meaning of hard work and never giving up. I learned how to work with others, even when I did not want to. I learned how to wake up every morning and get my work done, even when I was exhausted.
I learned how to care for and attend to other living beings. I learned the importance of locking the gate to the cow yard. I learned how to cope with death and the joy of new life.
I learned how to deal with disappointment. I learned how to solve problems and how to think on my feet. I learned that nothing in life goes according to your plan.
I could continue to list life lessons that I have learned, but what I am trying to say is that I am thankful.
I am thankful that I grew up learning these important life lessons. I am thankful that I had the chance to learn and grow on our family farm. I am thankful that I was raised a farmer’s daughter.
I am thankful for my family, my faith, my beautiful heifers and cows. I am thankful for our new facility and our trusty old freestall barn.
Someday, I want to raise my children in the dusty straw wagon, beside the cool cow tank and out in the green, meadowy pasture.
And I can only hope that one day my children, too, will believe that being raised a farm kid is the greatest gift they could have ever received
Lesson 4: It’s not about money
If dairy farmers were only farming to make money, they wouldn’t farm. Dairy farming has much more to do with passion, love of cattle and love of the land.
I grew up not being concerned about money or the money that my parents made. I was happy and had a natural passion for our dairy farm. When I faced my college graduation, I kept hearing spews and comments from others about bargaining my salary and researching my salary options.
Don’t get me wrong- it is necessary to make money in today’s society. And I have heaps of student loans to pay off. (Bill Gates, if you’re reading this, I wouldn’t turn down your offer to pay off my loans…)
But I learned an important lesson growing up, it’s not about the money. Life is about friends, family, happiness, dreaming big and following your passion. Sure, money is needed along the way to maybe fuel your passion or simply pay for food to enjoy with friends.
It’s a simple lesson though. Life, isn’t about the money. It’s about passion, determination and falling in love with what you do. That’s what it’s about.
Isn’t it incredible the lessons learned on a farm?
Lesson 3: Moving On
Farming is a quick way to learn about death and dying and coping with loss. I still remember my first kitty that I lost on the farm.
I was convinced she ran away. I hung up signs on the side of the barn and searched high and low for her for days, before realizing she wasn’t coming back. As a young child, it was really difficult to understand why animals had to die or why my kitties would decide to run away.
But on the farm, death happens. Sometimes you can’t prevent it. Sometimes it’s a young cow who should have had a long life ahead of her. This life lesson of dying and coping with death can be directly related to dealing with dying and coping with death in the real world.
Even though your favorite cow dies, you have to get up and keep going. The rest of your herd still needs to be milked the next morning. This was a vital life lesson to learn at a young age. As tough as it was when another cow died or we lost a family member or friend, you have to get up the next morning and keep going.
Growing up on my family’s dairy farm taught me how to deal with death and how to cope with loss, and most importantly, how to move on.