This post needs to be written, maybe so that I’ll keep writing and not give up entirely.
Frankly, I don’t care if its even good… it just needs to be said.
That’s depressing. I assure you my intentions are heartfelt and genuine. I have not given up, nor will I ever give up on farming. Or writing for that matter… But some things push you to the edge and you need to find a way to vent out the pressure.
Life still happens when your job is being a Farmer. 365 days/year.
I opened this blog to you with excitement. I am proud! I am proud to work 365 days per year at a job where family comes first, dinner is at the table, the coffee is always on, and neighbors are always neighborly -despite the weather. What a job. The work is HARD, and never done. And to be honest with you there is nothing, besides my family, that makes me happier. I am proud to be a part of something that’s important. Important to Canada’s economy, important to the everyday life and health of Canadians, and important to the animals that provide for us. I wear my job, like my heart, on my sleeve. Prepared to share it with anyone. I am proud to be a Canadian Dairy Farmer.
I have mentioned in a few posts, some of the trials we’ve faced since we started our very own farm from scratch. From break downs, to loosing beloved cows, to the fears of infertility, to broken legs, to cancer. What I would like to share with you is how farmers keep working and keep going despite whats going on in their lives. I would like to mention, respectfully, an incident that happened earlier this year on a farm near us. When three little girls lost their lives, and a family was left in grief. Somehow… someway that farm had to continue on. Whether its with help from the community, friends, and family, a farmer may be dealing with the deepest feelings one could imagine, but often… they somehow keep going.
At some time during the fall of last year, the date I am not sure I can remember, my mother was diagnosed with terminal Cancer.
The news came as a shock, I had just discovered I was finally pregnant and would be giving her the first grand child-ren… I was pregnant with twins. My mom had been sick for awhile, and it amazed me because while I was dealing with morning all day sickness and my husband was broken legged… she would come over to help me feed the other animals, while my father in law milked and fed our cows. I remember waddling with her to her biopsy appt, and holding her hand while they stuck her with a needle. As the weeks stretched on and my Husband’s leg began to mend enough that he was able to pick up his work on the farm, I set out to be there for my mom as much as I could. My mom had started chemo right away in the hopes to be here to meet her granddaughters. I have never seen someone fight so hard for something in my life. My mom was a farmer at heart. She grew up raising horses, sheep… and she loved animals unconditionally.
In February the girls were born. My Husband milked and fed and cleaned the cows that morning, and we headed into the hospital. He had it arranged that his parents would milk in the evening and we hoped that if all went as planned, he would be back milking the cows the next day. Our girls were coming that night, and were born the next morning. Thanks to my Mother, Father, Brother and Sister in law my husband was able to stay with me and the girls the next day. My mother came to visit me immediately after the girls were born because she was at the hospital doing radiation therapy. Her first rounds of chemo had worked and eradicated the cancer. They were trying to keep it from growing back too fast. She met her granddaughters.
My husband left the next morning to return to our farm to take care of our animals, and I stayed in the hospital with the girls, who spent 5 days in the NICU. He returned for a few hours every day to visit us, then went back home to milk. Once we finally got everyone home it was a whole new world. The girls were up every 3 hours at night to eat, my husband helped me because there was two babies to feed… then he got up every morning to milk the cows at 5:30am. To say that neither of us slept at all for 3 months would be completely accurate, and we never worked so hard.
My Mom found out after those 3 long months that her cancer had completely returned, all of it and then some. She would head in for more rounds of chemo, trying to buy more time. I’ll never forget that she would still come over and try to help me with the babies.
Our life truly became a blur. But she was so brave, she made me brave.
I could have used a break just then. Thrown my hands in the air and said “I cant do this!” Sometimes I wanted to just send in mine and my husbands resignation (Dear cows: we hereby resign as your caretakers… please start trying to find someone to replace us. Life is just too stressful right now…Do you think maybe we could take some paid personal time?) You don’t get to take time off when you are a farmer. There are no weekends without work to catch up, take a breath, every day all the chores need to be done. Each day that a family member covered for us was a day away from their farm. And break downs can’t wait till tomorrow to be fixed. It was a lot of work. Well I could compare being a farmer to… being a Mom. Someone else dictates your hours, and your schedule… some small little creature. You don’t get to choose what catastrophe happens that day, what mess is made… what calf is being born. Farmers and Mothers, are dedicated caretakers. While I was tied up with two babies (they literally tied me up and held me hostage) inside our warm cozy home, he was pulling it all together outside himself. And we were both dedicated to being there for my mother.
Don’t get me wrong, this time… this time was probably the most happy, the most real and beautiful time of my life. The impending death of my mom, made every moment she spent with the girls more beautiful. The new love that we felt for them, wow. Nothing could blow out the fire we were burning for our family in this time… no amount of work. We were learning and growing so much so fast. A farm trouble seemed like such a blip on the radar compared to the bigger picture.
My mom continued on to discover that the chemo was no longer working. And in fall of this year, she moved into hospice. I was there for her, I dropped her off there girls in tow. Meanwhile my steadfast husband was harvesting the last of our crops at home, without my help. I often felt a pang of guilt. I visited her, my (second born) daughter took her first inches forward crawling on a blanket on the hospice floor. My mom cried, and told me I was such a good mom. She told me that she was so proud of us, what we had. That she wasn’t worried about me, because I had my farm, and I had him. She told me that we worked so hard.
We had an early Christmas the weekend before thanksgiving, and my husband, tired from working in the field, cut a Christmas tree and put it up for my mom. We spent the entire day here on the farm with family eating, drinking, laughing. My husband slipped out to milk the cows and then back in for Turkey dinner. I was overwhelmed with memories of growing up on my Grandpa’s boarding ranch; walking with my mom to feed and brush the horses. My mom candling eggs over a milk carton to see the tiny duck embryos inside, and the day they finally hatched. Dancing with my Grandma on the straw bale stage. Chasing rabbits through the horse paddocks. Family dinners. All the things that prepared me for the life I lead today.
She had told me it was one of the best days of her life. She passed away a few days later with her family at her beside.
Life still happens, when your job is being a Farmer. 365 days/year. And somehow… we will keep going. Cheers to you mom ❤ I’ll always remember your strength when my knees feel weak and my heart feels tired.