As we make our journey through our blessed lives, we all experience various seasons of life. No matter what season of life you are in, we all experience challenges mixed with great joy. Recently, I have found that embracing my season of life is the key to my day-to-day endurance and survival.
This past September, my husband and I faced a wonderful change to our day-to-day routine as we welcomed a second child into our family and home. While we were making that small adjustment, our herd size was growing too. In the month of September alone, we welcomed nearly two dozen newborn heifer calves.
On our farm we milk 220 cows, so for us 24 calves is normal, but all heifer calves is a blessing and above-average for a particular month.
In the months prior to our son’s arrival, I waded through the waves of my second pregnancy, and we experienced small bumps in the road that caused me to stop and wonder how farming with two young children would be. However, with a life to live and a farm to run, I continued to ignore these thoughts and continued to do what needed done day in and day out.
As summer came to a close, my due date was approaching quickly. An induction was scheduled – and yet the baby had other plans, arriving just one day earlier. We were in the midst of a speedy delivery when I was suddenly reminded that I am not always in control and that things were about to change big time for our family and our farm.
It was time to acknowledge there is a larger power making the big calls in our life and helping us along as we embraced the new season of life.
During the first few days of this new season for us, I found myself sitting in the hospital room nursing my son while our 2-year-old daughter was playing in the room. I was sitting there in awe of our new life, which was our new normal, and wondering at the same time, “How is this all going to work?”
My honest thoughts at that moment were: “I can only fit one car seat on the Kubota side by side, I only have two hands and now two kids, I have paychecks for our employees that need completed tomorrow, there are many cows due to calve, and I have just started a relatively new job that needs my undivided attention.”
Looking back now, I think it’s funny we focus so much on our cows’ care after they calve: We ensure those mommas are healthy, safe, feeling good and handling the change well. And yet we never put that much care into ourselves and making sure we are doing OK after we have a baby.
For the next few weeks and months, I would continue to make do and try to be the best mom, farmer, employer, employee and wife I could be. It seemed like once I figured out how to complete one task, another challenge came up. With our large arrival of calves, I got the hang of feeding calves with an infant strapped to me via the wonders of a baby carrier.
However, then winter hit, and the ever-changing temperatures made me realize I couldn’t bundle up two kids and be productive or even attempt to be helpful at the same time.
I had to put my children and myself first. My husband and I had to make some choices, and I realized I needed to make sacrifices for the time being for the wellness of our children. For us, that sacrifice is for me to work from home, focusing on my off-the-farm jobs along with the bookwork of the farm.
For me, it means giving up the cowside responsibilities to my husband, who is fully capable but already overworked as well.
One of the biggest challenges I have had to grasp and has taken me a while to accept is that it’s not just me or my normal routine that’s had to change; it’s my husband’s too. While I had nine months and a constant kick in my belly and that pressure on my bladder to allow me to realize, whether I took the hints or not, that a new season of life was coming, my husband wasn’t as prepared.
After several months, he’s finally acknowledging he lost his calf feeder and recordkeeper at the farm. I love that he admits it and actually recognizes it. While he maybe hasn’t directly thanked me for all that work the past five years, he now misses it – and for that I am appreciative.
We work so hard on our farms to plan, prepare and make sure there are no surprises. So isn’t it funny that two dozen heifers on the farm is great and not a big deal, but that one little baby can totally turn a world upside down.
While we love our children, my husband and I have had to acknowledge this new season of life has been our most challenging for us personally, professionally and for our farm, but for our family it is the best season yet!
Renée Norman-Kenny blogs at eatfarmlove.com and serves as the director of program development for the Dairy Girl Network.
- Dairy Producer
- Enon Valley, Pennsylvania