I hardly know how to express my joy of these past couple of weeks. My heart has nearly burst with pride in our boys; they’ve worked so hard to realize their goals. It has overflowed with appreciation for the Hubs, who shouldered the burden of transitioning the family dairy to the third generation. Opening our new facility is a triumph for each in equal measure.
Above all, I thank God for his faithfulness through three hundred and eight days of disruption on the heels of the raging fire which destroyed a milking facility. I could never have imagined the tumult to follow as we were tested on every level imaginable. Time and again I wondered what would become of our dairy dreams.
Even on the periphery, as a long-time supporter if a short-time She-Farmer, it was all I could do to place one foot in front of the other. Weariness permeated muscle and bone and seeped into my soul. I know the Hubs and the boys bore the brunt of it as only they could do but wives and children felt the strain as well. Day and night I called out, reminding God of our plight and his promises. I’m thankful for those faithful to remember us in prayer, silent supporters from the sidelines of this struggle.
The new dairy is a hard-earned milestone on a multi-generational journey. Many have labored and sacrificed, none more than founders, Lloyd and Betty. Did they bear witness to the joyful moments just before the first milking commenced on Tuesday last? I can only hope there is such a portal in heaven. As I snapped the shot of their grandsons with smiles as a big as their futures are bright, a precious image was seared in memory.
Earlier that afternoon, I’d marveled at rafters soaring high above acres of concrete. Miles of timber and steel join seamlessly with adjacent, older structures. It is nothing less than architectural genius a la Burns Construction (contractor’s photos). In addition to structures housing cows and milking facility, there was extensive fire site clean up, four silos dismantled, plus an innovative manure management system and feed storage installations. I could not begin to keep up with all the moving pieces these past months.
As I watched trailers of milkers unloaded upon transfer from the homestead, I contemplated
past months decades of making do. The Hubs and the boys had pushed every limit of outdated facilities, confined by structures and systems designed for another era. This is a dairy palace by comparison! The cows quickly acknowledged as much, scampering like schoolchildren on the playground, exploring their new home with nervous energy.
The new facility incorporates technology infrastructure and innovations to maximize efficiencies and optimize success. Even so, dairy farming remains a daunting venture. Every advantage of the modern age is offset by disadvantages of twenty-first century economics and resource management realities. Farming is every bit as much a calling as it is a career.
Frankly, for both of our boys to opt to follow in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps was quite unexpected. Few will understand their decisions unless also immersed in agriculture. Although there’s no shame in choosing another path there is unique satisfaction in this one, up against the odds. College educations were not optional, ensuring career options. Instead, they proved essential to becoming successful farmers and leaders. It’s more conceivable now than ever before that a fourth generation may follow.
Dairy farming is not for the faint of heart; new challenges appear at every turn. Loss of production and other disruptions such as we’ve experienced since last April create challenges on altogether another scale. I’ve leaned especially hard into the promises of God these past eight months. God is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17) He is our refuge and strength; an ever-present help in times of trouble. (Psalm 46)
Shortly after 3-phase power was operational, the Hubs called the boys to our home for an important meeting. I listened in on their discussion, knitting steadily (click, clack, click) to mask my nervousness. There is so much at stake these next few months of new operations and little margin for error. But there was one particularly poignant moment I never saw coming. They’ve been operating as a leadership trio since the boys joined the partnership. After several days of reflection and soul-searching, the Hubs was ready to relinquish that role. “This is your time,” he said. “Run with it.”
Run, boys, run! Run the race with discipline to finish well. (1 Corinthians 9) Don’t lose sight of the ultimate prize. (Matthew 6) Your dad and I will be working alongside or cheering you on, forever and always.
~ Mom (a.k.a. Sondra or GiGi)
P.S. I love you.