I walk the cows to the end of the field, shut the gate and look back. The sunset stands strong behind the barn signaling the near end of a day’s work. I wondered to myself how many times I’ve looked at that same image but with so many different emotions. In the summer heat I gave myself a chill picturing the bare trees and snow covered ground. I thought back to frozen pipes and shoveling endless piles of snow. I remembered short days and cold feet, each winter day bringing a new challenge for us to endure. Back in the present moment, I watched the tall green grass blow in the breeze finding it hard to believe those chilly days ever existed.
While I stood in the field watching the sun sink completely out of sight, I thought of different times in my life I’ve watched the strength of my family prevail. Once when I was young I was following my dad around during his daily duties. I was an eager kid not wanting to miss anything. This particular day he was helping a cow give birth. The birth was taking longer than normal and when the calf finally came out she wasn’t breathing. Dad realized what was happening and dropped to the ground to blow in her mouth attempting to fill her lungs with air. After a few coughs the little calf slowly opened her eyes and came to life. I had watched what is easily one of the most miraculous things I have seen in my life so far.
I started up the driveway towards the dark outline of the house, I could see my grandpa tap the mud from his boots and get into his truck to head home for supper. I thought of the changes he’s seen in his lifetime and how different the world is today. Where there were once horses we now have tractors. We don’t have to wait until spring anymore to have fresh strawberries, they‘re available all year long. It’s hard to wrap my head around some of the stories he tells me, it makes me wonder what I’ll have seen after 80 years and if I’ll be able to accept change as well as he has.
As I get closer to the house my mom is standing in the kitchen window, she sees me and waves as moms do. She has supper ready and is hoping “to get few more things done before everyone comes inside.” This is what she always says, but we know her work is never done.
A typical day ends with our family sitting around the kitchen table talking about the day’s events over a cold glass of milk. My farming family might seem vastly different than your own, but we’re more connected than you think. The next time you pour a glass of milk, put a slice of cheese on top of your burger or open a yogurt container, I hope you think of me. Maybe we have never met, or maybe you’ve never met a farmer at all, but as you enjoy delicious dairy products, I hope you feel a connection to farming families just like mine. Happy June Dairy Month!