working cows

 
Hats (cowboy and otherwise) off to all the men and women working cows on hot days in full sun with no shade: running back and forth, climbing up and down, sweating bullets, wearing hats, swigging water, and doing it all while heifers let off plenty heat of their own. 

 

And, just in case it needs to be repeated, here's to the generations of farmers working together, regardless of the size of their farm: to the grandmas helping the vet, the dads running the equipment, and the little girls talking non-stop about heifers taking rides to grow big out in Kansas. It's good stuff that goes on here, even when sweat is plentiful and sunburn is inevitable. 

We're grateful. 

Wet Dogs

This spring, our prayer for you is that you are released from your shelter-in-place orders ASAP and that you are able to celebrate with as much joy and glee as Colt and Petunia after a dip in a pond. 








 

Just don't go too crazy. You're not used to this much excitement, you know.

Family Quilts


 

Coronavirus makes us do crazy things, like bake coffee cakes unnecessarily. I'm not confirming that I did that, but I can confirm that I've never baked a coffee cake until this whole mess started, so, okay, yes, I did do that. 



I also got out my grandmother's sewing machine this week, as though I've somehow turned into Ma Ingalls and will be able magically to sew a mug rug that doesn't look like my four-year-old made it. More on that one to follow because those pictures are going to be prime "nailed it" quality on Pinterest. 


But my mom, who actually can sew, provides a lot of inspiration. She has made each of my children his or her own quilt, and I love them so much I haven't actually let a child drool or spit up or basically do anything other than very calmly lay underneath them, because aren't they just the most beautiful? 

Based on my machine threading (lack of) success so far, I'm confident I won't be the grandma who can produce something this meaningful and fun. But my goodness. I'm so thankful she is!

 

Now here's the next question: Who else has taken up a craft or hobby you've put on the shelf? Any takers?







dairy / COVID-19 interview round-up


Dairy farmers have been in the news lately, discussing the issue of, in some places, an oversupply of milk. Exports, restaurants, and schools are shut down and are no longer receiving regular shipments of dairy products. Unprocessed milk can't legally just be given away, and food pantries and food banks aren't set up to receive thousands of gallons of milk anyway. Cold storage is full. So, for some farmers, milk has simply had to go down the drain.

It's hard to get the full story in a brief news segment, but my farmer is doing his best to set the record straight about why it's happening, what people can do in the meantime, and -- the part that often gets left out -- that farmers have known hardship before, dug in, found a solution, and weathered the storm. And the good news? They'll do it again! 

Check out the links below from this past week to see/hear him chat about dairying during corona. (Not to be confused with dairying WITH a Corona, which is probably what most farmers would like to be doing right now.)

KMBC: "For a cow, once you stop milking her there is no restarting." Her milking, that is. Exports, restaurants, schools and the economy, for sure . . . and hopefully soon!

KFUO: You can listen to my farmer and me chat about the vocation of dairy farmer and how COVID-19 has impacted how we're taking care of our team, cows, and neighbors during this time.

FOX 4: "Eat that extra ice cream. Put that extra slice of cheese on your hamburger." Wise words from my husband for any day of the week, but now especially!

KCTV5: Rather than assume that farmers would rather dump milk than give it away, my farmer's encouraging people to learn the facts. "Just assume everyone is doing their best and working to beat this thing."

How Coronavirus Is Impacting Farm Life



 

Between spring rains, preparing for planting, and keeping an eye on how COVID-19 is changing pretty much everything for everyone from one day to the next, I nabbed my favorite dairy farmer and asked him to help you take a peek into how the coronavirus situation is impacting dairy farming.

Q: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed daily life for you on the farm?
A: If there's ever a "good" time of year for a situation like this, it's now. It's come at a time of year when we're preparing for planting, but since it's been wet and we can't get into the field, we've had the necessary time to be in the office researching and preparing contingency plans. We're putting in writing what precautions to take, discussing how to get our work done while still keeping our people safe, and doublechecking to ensure we're following the guidelines set in place because they change every day.

And ultimately, we're making sure that we're still able to -- in the midst of all this -- do our work so that we can continue to provide an essential product at a critical time. Not to mention we're doing our best to make smart decisions so that we can stay as financially healthy and viable as possible so that we can provide for our employees, their families, and my family.

Q: People are stockpiling toilet paper and food. Are you having to do anything similar for the farm?
A: We're good on toilet paper, but we have had to make sure we have enough of our supplies to continue our work. In the midst of various industries being shut down unexpectedly, we've had to purchase ahead when it comes to our seed and fertilizer for the row crops and a dozen different types of feed for the cows. We're also making sure we have plenty of veterinary supplies, and as best we can, supplies for equipment in the shop. I'm expecting that manufacturers of vet products may well pivot off the animal side to the human side if asked to do so, but that's speculation on my part. So we're just all working to make sure our families have what they need as well as the same for the cows and all they need.

Q: A lot of people are out of work at the moment. Do you and the team feel a certain amount of pride and gratitude in knowing you're among an essential workforce right now?
A: There's a badge of honor that I can sense among the team in regard to providing a critically essential food product, for sure. And they should be proud. They're out there sweating and hustling and showing up and doing their work, no matter what's going on in the world.

Personally, I sometimes get in the rut of thinking, as people do with any job, "This is my job. This is what I do. I take care of the cows. I take care of my people. I take care of my family. I go to sleep." But this has reopened my eyes to how vital what we do is to the community, how many people rely on us, and it's also been a good reminder of the fulfillment that comes with farming.

Q: What do you think the next year will look like for the ag industry after we emerge from this?
A: I have no idea what next week or next month will look like, let alone next year. What I do know is that as long as we have consumers that are demanding our product, we will still be here making milk.

Q: It seems like things are leveling out a bit, but what are you telling people who are still worried about finding enough food at the grocery store?
A: There's plenty of food out there. The supply chain just has to catch up with it. Our milk prices are terrible right now; there's actually an oversupply of milk. So, hold steady. You just have to give it time to catch up at the grocery store.

Q: How do the cows feel about all of this?
A: The girls remain exceptionally unphased. As long as they have enough people who show up at work to milk them, feed them, and get them clean, dry bedding, they don't really care what goes on!



We Moved: The Before and After Edition


 

I still can't find my daughter's doll bed, and the library claims we have one of their children's books, which, I mean, we might in a tub of Christmas decorations somewhere (because I've unpacked all of our books and it's nowhere to be found, so I'm banking on it being some place utterly ridiculous), but we are home, and it is the most lovely feeling. 

Especially when you can't leave. 





 

My husband spent the past year renovating, adding onto, and pouring his blood, sweat, and highly caffeinated self into his childhood home, the one his grandparents and then parents lived in as well. 

I kept the children alive. He poured concrete. I packed boxes. He got to know the folks at Lowe's and Menards so well they're practically sending each other Christmas cards.  

These are a few of the before and afters.





But after months of decisions on his part and "Wait. Did I say I wanted . . . ?" on my part, we are here. And it very much feels like home. 

Our big kids still ask about the "old house" sometimes and wonder if we're moving back or who's living there or why we couldn't move the old house into the new house. But slowly, little by little, they're becoming acclimated too, even if the first week after moving there were countless tears because little people couldn't remember where the new potties were or how to find their room. #toddlerproblems




So when it comes to practicing social distancing? We have a new house to roam, front and back yards made of mud for sloshing around in, and plenty of fresh air. We're here for it. 

Besides, we're farmers. If the TP really does run out, there are always corn husks. 



PS If you can believe it, this pantry used to be a bathroom!







So here's to staying home, staying calm, staying determined, staying joyful, staying in the Word, staying thankful . . . one day at a time.






2020 Here I (Don't) Swap Coronavirus


How are you doing? Really. How ARE you?

Got enough Clorox wipes? Audible books for the kids? Hamburger in your freezer? 

Is the sun shining at your house? Are your parents ok? Is your Internet connection keeping up?

How are your pastor and his family? Are you still doing family devotions? Reading sermons? Tuning in to your church or other LCMS congregations' live streams? 

I know you all have adorable mugs. But how is your chocolate supply? IS THERE ENOUGH COFFEE IN YOUR PANTRY?

Those are the questions I'd ask if we could sit down over nachos and Pepsis at the local Mexican restaurant (this is a bad time to be having pregnancy cravings, can we all agree?), but since we're all homebodies at the moment, I've got another question for you:

Do you want to take part in a mug swap . . . that doesn't involve mugs? 


These are tricky times, times that require patience and kindness and grace from all of us, and especially from we Lutheran women who know and confess Jesus Christ, full of compassion and truth. So what do you say we share some of that Christian care and concern around, focusing on others instead of ourselves at a time when so many want to believe they are ultimately in control? 

Are you in? 

Yes! I knew you were!

Here's how the 2020 Here I (Don't) Swap Coronavirus swap works:

1) I'm going to pair you up with another Lutheran gal. You'll exchange names and emails. No physical addresses. Your first job is to shoot her an email, see how she's doing, ask how you can pray for her, be a listening ear, start a friendship, and ask her what to do with all the Rotel and graham crackers in your pantry that you need to use up. She's going to do the same for you! This works great for extroverts, who need someone to talk to, and introverts, who can interact from a safe distance and at their own pace.

2) You're going to spend at least $5 on one another (more if you want but no less than $5), but here's the catch: 

You're going to do something on her behalf that helps our church body and her congregations or organizations and can all be done online
  • a $5 online donation to her favorite LCMS organization (like LCMS Life Ministry or LCMS Soldiers and Veterans of the Cross), 
  • a $5 online gift card to Starbucks for her pastor who is probably burning the midnight oil calling to check on her and others, 
  • a $5 online donation to her church's local food pantry or crisis pregnancy center, etc. 
I've supplied some other options at the survey link you'll find below. If you've got another LCMS-related idea, like giving directly to your home congregation or the like, feel free to share it with your swap buddy. The goal here is to think of others -- especially our fellow Lutherans and our Lutheran church workers.

3) Done! You get to meet and care for a Lutheran gal experiencing some of the same shared crosses as you AND you get to serve our beloved church and her people along the way. No exchanging physical mail. No Clorox wiping down your laptop. Just showing compassion in some of the only ways we can right now. 

Are you ready?  

  I'll start sending mug swap buddies out as fast as I'm able. Registration will close Friday, March 27, 2020.


I know you know this, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded: The Church is primed for times like these. We live each day knowing that our heavenly Father orders our days, not us. We rest in the assurances that Christ offers. We don't panic. We're shrewd, but we're not afraid. This is where we have a chance to thrive as children of God: confessing Christ and His comfort and peace in a world feeling panicked and out of control.  

So let's look out for one another, check in on our pastors, pray for our friends, laugh at the antics of our children and the funny memes online, get off Facebook and read a book, and then not forget to do all these things over nachos and Pepsis at the local Mexican restaurant when the world is a little more back to normal. Deal?

Deal.


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