I’ve grown up on a dairy farm, so I’ve helped milk the cows, helped with chores, etc.  I’ve always been a helper to someone who knew what was going on.  The responsibility didn’t sit on my shoulders, I enjoyed helping take some of the weight of the work off of one of my dad’s employees.

A few days ago things changed.  The guy that has milked twice a day nearly every single day for most of my life went into the hospital with chest pains.  Tests show he needs open heart surgery.  First and foremost we’re praying for him.

In the meantime I’ve been helping milk twice a day.

I work for a commodity organization.  For all farm commodities (corn, soybeans, pork, milk, beef, etc.) farmers pay a little bit for every bushel of grain, hundred pounds of milk, etc.  At the pork council we get 40 cents for every one hundred dollars of pigs sold.  As a commodity organization employee it’s my job to represent farmers that are too busy working on the farm.  They charge us to do things they can’t do for themselves, like develop a national marketing campaign, alert them of regulatory and public policy issues that may affect them, etc.

As a commodity organization employee I’ve read a lot of negative stuff about food on the internet.  As a farmer a lot of what I’ve read as a commodity employee makes me want to disconnect the internet and get in a tractor, or go to the barn where it’s safe and comfortable, away from unfair speculation, accusations and the non-farming world.  I’ve read a lot of stuff from people who to me obviously haven’t actually been on a farm.  But, I understand that we on the farm need to be talking about what it is we’re doing there.

I had a baby; I thought I would have him naturally, without an epidural.  I worked in the office for most of the day, came home and went into labor at 6:30 p.m.  I didn’t sleep that night and by sunrise I was really tired and only 5 cm dilated (10 cm is when you push).  So, I got an epidural.  It allowed me to take a nap while I was dilating and have enough energy when it came time to push to get to business.

No matter how much I read, how many classes or videos I watched this is an experience that I could’ve never understood without experiencing.  As is milking cows on an on-going basis.

My family has some ground that is too rolling to plant corn and soybeans, so we use it as pasture for the milk cows.  Man is it beautiful to walk out in the pasture and watch the sunrise on a nice day.  Another fact of life is some really dirty udders (where the milk comes out) when it is raining or muddy.

Before I started milking twice a day I was getting better at doing my hair, spending some time putting outfits together, cleaning and organizing my house.  With my new responsibilities I haven’t even had the time or energy to take a shower everyday.  No worries, I’m not turning into a dirty person, I’m just trying to say that I can’t realistically do everything that I want to in a day.  We learn a lot when we walk the walk instead of just talking the talking or reading stories on the internet.

My request to you food purchasers this Food Day is that you ask a farmer your questions about food.  I’ll have some responsibilities that will keep me away from the computer most of the day, but I care what you think and what you have to say.  As do many other farmers that use social media.  So please comment away or ask questions, it just may take me a while to get back to you.

Whether you are on a farm, in the city or somewhere in between, let’s celebrate Food Day together by enjoying some food!

p.s. I’d really appreciate it if you could have a few glasses of milk with your pork chops!  Oh, and while I’m asking for stuff….I entered a video contest.  The video with the most views by November 1st wins $500.  Can you please help vote by watching?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0jbVJ6gEBA

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