Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reward in Heaven?

If there's a bathroom in Heaven for the father of girls, does that mean there's a reward in Heaven for the mother of farm kids? Maybe something like a recliner in a sound proof room with a good book and an endless supply of hot chocolate?

• I walked into the milkhouse the other night and found Monika standing in her playpen wearing nothing but a smile and trying to poke Dan in the eye while he slept in the stroller next to her. Her snowsuit, boots, footie jammies (she wears a jammies under her snowsuit because they don't crawl up under her snowsuit like pant legs do), diaper and ponytail holder were all laying in the bottom of the playpen. Now, our milkhouse is warm, but it's not that warm. I put her clothes back on her and continued with my chores. When I came back into the milkhouse a little while later, Monika's clothes were all once again laying on the bottom of the playpen.

• Two nights ago, Monika was confined to her stroller in the barn because she refused to leave her boots on. After she got bored in the milkhouse, I pushed her out to the aisle in the barn so Glen could entertain her while he milked. When he moved back up to the front of the barn to milk the treated cow, he parked Monika in the aisle behind Wander. Wander is one of those cows who is so well trained not to make a mess in her stall that she backs out all the way into the aisle and makes a mess there instead. Well, wouldn't you know it, Wander had to go while Monika was parked behind her. Monika wasn't splattered, she was dumped on. Literally. Thankfully she was leaning forward so most of the mess ended up on her back and the stroller. And what a mess it was.

• Then, last night, since Monika's stroller was still a mess, she got to run around in the barn with Dan. Dan, being the mischief-maker he is, dumped a shovelful of shavings on Monika's head. Since she had long before taken her hat off, the shavings ended up in her hair... and coat... and shirt... and onesie... and diaper. When we got to the house after chores, I shook the shavings out of her clothes easy enough, but the shavings in her hair were stuck. Had it been Dan, I would have taken the Shop-Vac to his head. The Shop-Vac works wonderfully when it comes to removing silage, shavings, sand, you-name-it, from Dan's short hair. But the vacuum just turns Monika's hair into a snarly mess. So I ended up holding her upside down and running a brush through her hair to dislodge the shavings.

So, if there's a reward in Heaven for the mother of farm kids, can I take part of it in advance?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Magic

Ten days ago, the title of this post would have been "Merry Madness". As Christmas approached, I had a serious case of the bah-humbugs. Between the cold, the snow, the newborn calves and the sick calves, chores were consuming nearly all of my time. I didn't decorate the house, I didn't make any Christmas treats, and I barely finished the Christmas shopping. I was exhausted and frustrated.

But as I hurried through chores the morning of our first Christmas celebration, my mood magically brightened. It didn't matter that I'd only finished shopping the day before or that our house wasn't decked out. What was important was that, in a few short hours, we would be gathered with family, making a new set of Christmas memories. I finished chores with new-found energy.

Our Christmas gatherings were wonderful. It was so much fun to watch our children's excitement and share laughter with family. I'm immensely glad my bah-humbug mood was replaced with cheer (who wants to be the crabby mom at Christmas?) and I could wear a smile.

In the midst of all the Christmas, we celebrated Dan's fourth birthday. I can hardly believe he's four. If you ask him, he'll tell you, "I'm still four," like he's already about to turn five. I swear the time does go that fast.

I hope that time slowed down a little for you and your family this holiday season, that you shared many smiles and laughs, and that the magic of Christmas touched you in some way, too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Midwest Dairy Expo and snow

It's been a week now since Old Man Winter blanketed our area with snow. We ended up with nine inches last Monday. By Tuesday morning — the start of Midwest Dairy Expo in St. Cloud — the drifts in our yard were two to three feet deep. It seems like Midwest Dairy Expo and snow have bonded together in an unbreakable union.

As I shoveled my way from the house to the garage that morning, I imagined my grandfather looking down from Heaven and scolding me, "Girl, what are you thinking?"

Common sense said I should have stayed home. But my sense of opportunism prevailed; I really wanted to hear Dr. Larry Tranel's presentations on Millionaire Model Dairy Farms and Low Cost Parlors.

Glen couldn't come along as we had planned because our milker couldn't come, which actually turned out to be a good thing for the farm. But it wasn't so great for me, because that meant making the drive to St. Cloud by myself.

After I finally got out of the driveway (Thank you, snow plow!), the roads were awful. The whole way to St. Cloud I kept thinking to myself, "Man, am I glad I don't have to commute like this every day. This is nuts!"

I made it, though. And, as usual, the Expo was great. Dr. Tranel's sessions were excellent and I even had a chance to visit with him between presentations. I also got to reconnect with some friends we don't see much anymore.

The only bad thing about Expo was not having Glen along. I checked in with him mid-afternoon and he said it was good thing he was home. LeMans, a heifer from one of our show cow families, needed some help delivering her heifer calf.

Farm meetings and expos are valuable opportunities, but when something goes wrong at home while you're gone, it's hard to forgive yourself for being away.

Hopefully (cross your fingers), we won't have any cows or heifers due next December (or January) and we can both enjoy a day or two at Midwest Dairy Expo. And maybe Old Man Winter will go easy on the Expo attendees for once.