I cleaned my house today

You guys. I finally did it. I cleaned my house.
We’re talking scrubbing floors and picking up clutter.
We’re talking sorting mail into one pile of industry magazines that need to be read. That pile, stacked neatly on my floor, reaches above my knee. Yikes.
We’re talking laundry.

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This is what laundry after stacking hay looks like. You should see the floor of my car…and then you should vacuum it for me ;)

Why is this a big deal? Because it makes me feel like a human with a normal routine. And because I’ve been putting it off since I can’t remember when. I’ve swept the barn floor more than my kitchen floor in the past season. Thankfully my neighbor cooks for me several times in a week, so my kitchen is just a room that I walk through each day on my way out. (Thanks Mom!)

You know that sign that says, “Excuse the mess, my kids are making memories?” My sign should say, “Excuse the mess, I’ve been working on the farm.” Except if I had a new sign to hang in my house it would get stacked on the table next to the paperwork that needs filing. Another day.

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Slow down for school zones

I will admit it. I hate driving 25 miles per hour (mph) in school zones. When I remember, I will take an alternate route. When I don’t remember, it’s usually because I’m in a hurry. And then I’m really annoyed because I don’t have time to slow down to the safe speed.

But we do it for the kids. We do it for teachers and playground aides and crossing guards and paraprofessionals. We do it because we respect the zone.

This holiday weekend I have another reason to drive 25mph. Yet again, I’d prefer to be driving 80mph oops…I mean 70mph, Mom! Instead, our family is making the most of the holiday weekend to farm.

But unlike a school zone, tractors and other equipment change “zones” (fields) as soon as crops are ready to be harvested. I would really prefer to stay out of high-traffic areas, but our best fields are typically ready at the most inopportune time for other motorists – northern tourist season.

Just like a school zone speed limit sign, farmers do their best to communicate with traffic by using a slow-moving vehicle triangle sign. They’re typically orange, but I’ve seen older signs that are gray and red. They’re not driveway markers but I commonly see them used this way, which dilutes the meaning.

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I know it’s annoying to slow up an exciting day. I totally understand. I’m about as excited to get in the fields as most people are excited about getting to the lake. But just like you respect the safety of a school zone, please respect traffic laws when you encounter my family and me on the road with farm equipment.

We’re thankful for courteous motorists and we’re especially thankful for this wonderful job of working alongside nature to provide food for your family and our own.

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Taking down Christmas decor

This weekend we took down our Christmas tree. Every year on Christmas we joke about pitching the tree out the door as soon as gifts are opened. We had a neighbor out east who did that – basically before we had even eaten breakfast. But we enjoy our real tree every year from about 4 days before Christmas until after the new year. We spend a lot of time choosing the ornaments each year and reading old letters to Santa that our kids wrote, which we keep in the ornament boxes. Not surprisingly, we have a lot of sheep ornaments and a lot of ornaments that remind us of the love shared in our family.

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We enjoy sorting through the many sheep ornaments and ornaments that signify the many things we’re grateful for

A new year, a new generation

Every year, just as the last of the holiday cards are delivered to mailboxes, we meet with fellow shepherds to reflect on the last business year and look ahead to a new year.

The Michigan Sheep Breeders Association is an organization we’ve been involved with for many years. In a way, we’ve built our business alongside and because of these farmers. We’re truly grateful to come together each year to share ideas, hear from agricultural professionals and re-evaluate the goals of our farm.

This year it was especially exciting to have our youngest daughter attending the conference as a beginning farmer. Her interest in farming is a constant reminder to us that raising our children on our first-generation farm was – and continues to be – worth every tough day.

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One of the benefits to working hard every day is to see a young person have a spark of interest in agriculture.