“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” I heard those words long ago, but they have taken on a new meaning recently as I have made the choice to slow down and remember what life is really all about. For me, that has meant stepping away from my off-farm job.

For the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as the executive director of a non-profit child care center in my community in addition to being a full-time dairy farmer and raising two small children. My husband works full-time in livestock feed sales and feeds 800 head of feeder cattle. To say that we are busy is an understatement.

Over the past year, I feel like we’ve tried every sort of time management and organization life hack, most of which have failed miserably – I mean, of course I meal plan, but when it’s half an hour past bedtime and baths haven’t been taken and dinner hasn’t been made, frozen pizza is pretty much a gourmet meal. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “I don’t know how you do it!” over the past year, I would be able to have a full-time chef, housekeeper and nanny. Or at least someone to milk cows a couple times a week.

To be completely honest, those words have always made me uncomfortable. Brandon and I don’t feel like we are doing any more than anyone else – farm families especially know that you have to do what you have to do, even if it means 16-hour days are the norm. And I feel like I haven’t been “doing it all.” Our laundry is never folded; there’s usually a stack of unsorted mail on the kitchen table; and food from a box is on the menu more often than not; and most days our motto is “If everyone is fed and milked, it’s been a good day.”

When I pitched this column, I was excited to hear from other farming mamas on how they handle a nonstop lifestyle, and to revisit my extensive collection of Pinterest organization tips, and thought that maybe, just maybe this time I would figure out the secret to being able to “do it all.”


But then, as it often does, life happened. It started as little things. Listening closely to the lyrics of a song that I had heard a thousand times. Pausing to appreciate the whiff of fresh wood shavings in a calf pen. My kindergartener reaching for my hand when I comforted him after a bad dream. My toddler’s sleepy smile when I tucked him in at night. Slowly, I realized that those little things weren’t little things. They were big things. Those were the things that mattered.

We had been rushing through all of those little moments that make life worth living, in order to make a little more of a living. Our life was full of “laters” and “somedays” and “we don’t have times.” Very suddenly, I started to realize that the things I was rushing to couldn’t possibly have the same value as the things I was rushing away from. I found myself comparing each task to the things being left undone at home and on the farm. The missing cuddles, eating supper together, the freshly clipped cows, the thrill of a good classification. Even with the amazing things that happened at the child care center, could they really compare?

Maybe I don’t need those life hacks to “have it all.” Maybe the ability to live a good life doesn’t rely on color-coded organizational systems. It seems crazy to give up a source of steady income with the current milk prices, but for 12 months, I’ve been lucky enough to leave one place I love to go help people and make a difference in my community. But it’s time. It’s time to hang up some of the hats that I’ve been wearing and time to truly appreciate what it means to have all I need – two beautiful little boys, a hard-working husband and our piece of heaven.  PD

Heather Moore is a dairy farming mama herself, raising two little boys (and a third on the way!) with her husband, Brandon. The Moore family has a 50-cow dairy and custom feeds 800 head of beef cattle near Maquoketa, Iowa. Heather is also the executive director of a non-profit child care center, while Brandon is a district sales representative for a feed company. When she is not chasing around cows and kids, you'll find her volunteering, cooking and very occasionally, sleeping.

PHOTO: The Moore family. Photo provided by Heather Moore.