Tag Archives: Life

Lovely Lessons

16 Feb

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My Mom gets credit for making Valentine’s Day more than a “him and her” event but instead an “us” type of day. Ever since I was small I get chocolates from my parents—a little sweet token of their love—and now also a cute card, signed “Love Mom and Dad.” This still means so much because they don’t say “I love you” as much as they should. Not enough to each other, to me, to my brothers, and even to their siblings and parents.

And I’m just as guilty.

Day in and day out I get absorbed with my writing, with work, with barn chores, with bills, with life. So when Cupid comes calling I take the jab from his arrow as a little reminder to get off my derriere and do something special for those I love.

This year it was a dinner party for my family with delicious courses—of course—stirred, stewed and steamed by yours truly. I also hide those chocolate kisses around the house so as my family goes about their day they come across these sweet treats—a little kiss—that is bound to leave a smile on their lips.

Then there is showing love to all the pets that surround you and love you unconditionally. An extra treat for your dog, stopping for five minutes and giving your animal a pat without any interruptions, adding extra grain to the cows ration.

It’s not always easy and sometimes hard to keep up, but at least we get a reminder once a year whether we need it or not. And don’t be disheartened, after all, love and kindness are the hardest things to give away since they keep coming back.

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Missing Out

10 Feb

Growing up on a farm means you get to do a lot of things most kids don’t. You always have a pet or two, and most likely some cows, chickens, cats and a dog. Snow Days, Sick Days and Just Because Days meant that we didn’t have to go to school since our parents were always home and liked having us around. When we got older and my friends inched the car nervously around the paved perimeter of some parking lot I was finally given the keys to a real vehicle and graduated from driving just the tractor. When my friends were scouring the classifieds for their first afterschool job I already had one, afterschool, everyday, guaranteed—and it paid pretty well, too!

Growing up on a farm means you miss out on a lot of things that most kids get to do. When my friends’ were perfecting their softball pitch, I was working with a pitchfork. When they did swimming lessons I could sink my arms up to my elbows in the cows’ waterer before continuing on with the day. I had friends who took dance classes. The only jig I ever did was when I got shocked by the electric fence. When we got older, and my friends went to the gym, I ran along fence lines instead of on treadmills, lifted buckets instead of dumbbells, and practice resistance training when I lugged a stubborn calf across the yard with a halter.

I am finally taking those swimming classes that I missed out on, and while I learn how to do the front crawl, I am also practicing my gratitude since my friends can’t sign up to be a farm kid but I can for swimming lessons.

In the Barn

26 Jan

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Yesterday morning a terrible tragedy took an unforgiving swipe at our neighbours, also a farming family. Today and for the rest of their lives this young couple must learn how to cope, and eventually live, with one child less. It isn’t fair and it’s even harder to believe.

If that isn’t already a cruel twist, Life does something even worse: it goes on. Life continues forward when all we want to do is hit rewind, or at the very least press pause and try to pick up the pieces.

This is when farming is a blessing and a curse. There will always be chores to do. The cows don’t hold their milk in sympathy, the calves won’t crack the seal on the milk tank and feed themselves. The barn cats can feed themselves, but they’ll still expect their bagged cat food. New feed must be mixed and the old feed pushed away. Pens have to be forked clean and gates repaired. If there is any place more evident that life must go on it’s in the barn.

Farmers can’t take a break—not indefinitely and that’s a career and life choice. Not on Christmas Day, or Easter, or after the loss of a loved one. There are family, friends and employees who can do a job, take on an extra chore, but eventually we’ll have to wrap our fingers around the familiar handles of the wheelbarrow and lift.

When we want to stay in bed, in the dark, and try not to hurt so much we can’t. We have to get up at four, maybe five, or six in the morning and go to the barn. There’s a routine. We witness the sun rise and realize that it is another day, and we see the sun set knowing we’ve endured another day.

In the barn we can still work alongside our cows and although everything has changed they don’t push the point. They don’t ask questions, or apologize profusely for something that was out of their control (even if we are mad). They still offer a sturdy shoulder to lean or cry on but otherwise don’t treat us any different.

In the barn we don’t have to explain to our boss why we’re quiet and slower than usual—we are the boss and are trying very hard to understand.

In the barn there are plenty of places to sit when we’ve become emotionally and physically exhausted but can’t sleep. A hay bale, the milking parlour steps, a tractor seat. Sometimes these spots can seem as sacred as a pew.

Then one day, while in the barn, we’ll feel the morning sun on our back, or be able to marvel at the green fields outside, or scratch our favourite cow behind her ear and begin to feel okay.

But that isn’t today—not yet—and we must still go to the barn.