Several Wisconsin Farm Bureau members travelled to Puerto Rico for the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in January. The conference was an amazing experience full of new knowledge, great friends and unforgettable memories. Attendees explored the diverse tourist and agricultural attractions that the island had to offer.
On the final day of our trip, a group of us decided to take a ferry to another island off the coast of Puerto Rico. A two-hour drive led to a surprise pocket of downpouring rain while waiting in line to get tickets. “Don’t worry, the weather is great on the island,” they said.
Up next, our 45-minute ferry ride ended up taking us an hour and a half, not including boarding and wait times. “Don’t worry, you can rent golf carts and explore the island faster that way,” they said. We later found out it was going to be another hour’s wait and $150 per cart for the two hours we had left on the island. What were we going to do?
The choice became simple as we ventured to the nearest grocery store and purchased supplies to have a picnic. We went to the closest beach that we could find, which was totally unoccupied except for one local. He informed us that it used to be a junkyard that is pretty clean now, minus the shipwrecked boat, shopping carts and souvenirs of trash around the corner, hence its nickname, Trash Beach.
We tried drawing Farm Bureau designs in the sand to take photos, just to have the ocean wash it away…twice! However, we did end up getting some beautiful sunset pictures before we boarded back onto the ferry.
Although the day was full of ‘Is this really happening?’ moments, we couldn’t have planned a better day. Our crew turned every crappy situation into a positive and laughed until we thought we all had six-pack abs!
As we head into May Mental Health Month, our Trash Beach experience led to a few shareable life lessons. The locals we met reminded us to take care of ourselves because, at the end of the day, we need our health to get us through another one.
This made me reflect on a workshop I attended last year that focused on managing farm stress, and a part of that involved nutrition. Of those that shared, it didn’t sound like just a can of pop and a burger or coffee and candy bars were enough to get someone through the day. Nutritional issues can lead to negative side effects and inflammation in our bodies, which can also be impacted by excessive amounts of certain strains of bacteria in our guts, food sensitivities or allergies, hormonal imbalances and genetic make-up.
Nutrition and so many other things can impact our mental health as well, but another takeaway from Trash Beach for me was to stay positive and use humor as a mechanism to get you through tough days.
For farmers, this can be easier said than done. Stress is a real challenge and we have to get it under control in order to remain productive in our businesses and personal lives. I could write about the things that I have learned for pages on end, but below I will share websites, podcasts, books and other resources that I’ve gathered that can be of help to you and your families.
Keep these things in mind as you head into spring. I wish you all a successful planting season. Stay safe!
Tammy’s Recommended Resources
National Institute of Mental Health
National Institutes of Health
The American Institute for Stress
National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – 988
Farm Aid Farmer Hotline – 1-800-327-6243
Mary’s Cup of Tea Podcast
The Coping Toolbox Podcast
Cozy: The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World
Experts on Expert – Dr. Jud Brewer
Tammy Wiedenbeck is a Farm Bureau member from District 3 and is currently serving on the State Promotion and Education Committee. Tammy serves as a Senior Brand Manager for Hilbert Communications, Bug Tussel Wireless and AT&T Subsidiaries. Along with her full-time role, Tammy is the seventh generation on her family’s farm and works together with her brother’s family and parents to run the beef and crop operation.
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