Go Ahead, Ask Me

IMG_6577I love meeting new people. As we chat I look forward to having them ask me what I do for a living.

I can hardly wait to tell them I am a farmer – a dairy farmer.

Most new people I meet are so interested in farming and have no idea where their food comes. I enjoy being a link between their dinner table and their food source. I love answering questions and quelling false fears.

We do several farm tours a year with hundreds of people coming through while we share the life God has given us.

But, it wasn’t always like that.

When I married Farmer and joined the ag world my previous childhood world was shot to pieces. No more 5:00 pm suppers, weekends or vacations. Farmer was gone from 5:00am to 10:00pm and I pretty much raised four boys on my own – at least the day to day stuff. Farmer was as involved as he could be and wasn’t really totally an absentee father, but a father that had to work creatively to spend time with his family. Even then, it wasn’t enough.

Because of the huge differences in lifestyle I saw the farm as an enemy when first married. It felt like he put the farm first and if and when there was time, it was my turn. I developed a lot of resentment for the farm.

The poop, the dirt, the smells were all seen as intrusions and reasons not to embrace the farm life. The farm ate up all the good weather days. Others were going to the beach, picnics and vacations and we had crops to be planted, hay to be chopped, chores, oh the endless everyday two times a day chores. The promise of more freedom after the fall harvest was stolen by frozen pipes and snowdrifts. And on the rare occasion that there were a few hours free Farmer was exhausted and usually slept. For me at that time the family life I dreamt of was non-existent.

I’m not sure when the change took place. I think it was so gradual that I never noticed it until years later. Little by little we enlarged our work force and as the boys grew we all got to be more involved with the farm. Helping feed calves, getting shavings for the barn, riding in the combine or chopper were all things we gradually began to be part of. The boys remember sleeping behind the seat in the chopper on top of piled up coats to make a comfy spot. Today my grandkids could take a small mattress and throw on the floor of the cab to ride along.

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My sons have been raised to work hard, be honest and follow through until the job is done. I truly think it takes a special person to be a farmer. Not everyone can work 18 hour days, get splattered with poop, fix things with duct tape and wire and want to return the next day. We are always working against the clock and Mother Nature. There is absolutely nothing you can count on when you farm other than the fact that there is nothing to count on!

The roller coasters of the world can’t hold a candle towards milk prices, breakdowns and weather conditions. It seems for every decent year we have two or three crummy years. We financially take one step forward and two steps back. Yet, yearly God provides and we are still here. Our faith legs have grown strong over the years.

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Today I see the farm as a jewel, a treasure and an old friend that is always there for me.

I take care of the office work which includes poop smeared invoices and bits of silages folded into delivery bills. I also help our herdsman at time with medical procedures like C-sections and embryo transfers. At times I jump on the tractor and merge hay which I love. I am allowed to contribute by driving tractor while enjoying the glorious landscape that we share with the deer and an occasional coyote.

Spring hasn’t truly arrived for me until I walk past a newly plowed field and smell the dirt for the first time of the year. I look forward to seeing the first bright green leaf emerging from the corn field.

There is nothing more aromatic than a freshly mown field of alfalfa. Walking past the field in the evening is heavenly.

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Helping deliver a new born calf fills me with wonder every time. Still.

Strolling through the barn on late summer evenings, smelling the cows mixed with feed, the clink and clank of neck rails with a rustling of cattle and an occasional moo here and there is music unlike any other. Many nights after a stress filled day or a day that has overwhelmed, a walk through the barn settles me. I think it lowers my blood pressure and calms my breathing. It’s one of my favorite places to meet God. The barn brings me comfort, peace and serenity.

I’ve become a bit of an agvocate (an advocate for Ag). I enjoy sharing the truth about farming and farm life. I could say I am proud to be part of the mix that feeds America. I truly believe that. But, more than that I have continued to do this and will continue because of what it does for my family and me.

Somewhere along the line the farm, family and home boundaries have blurred. I can’t imagine my life without each component. In fact, I pray I’m long gone if the farm ever has to be sold and someone builds a cookie cutter neighborhood on the gorgeous landscape God laid out.

Lately it feels as if we farmers are getting beaten up. Extreme groups, ignorant (to the farm) celebrities and misguided consumers are falsely attacking farming procedures and practices that as farmers we live with have tested and tried. Farming is a business that affects every single person. When I see my guys come in from the fields after 16 plus hours, exhausted, covered in dirt and dust it saddens me that ignorance slams and attacks.

I’m not sure when it became wise for the public to listen to an actor or actress that spends their time pretending to be a fictional character over the farmers who live and breathe producing their food source. That’s a whole ‘nother topic for a whole ‘nother blog.

If you would have asked me 40 some years ago what my life would look like, I never would have imagined my life now. I love that it encompasses family, farm and all that goes with it.

Diane Loew

So, if I ever have the pleasure of meeting you, please don’t wait too long to ask me what I do for a living because I just may have to interrupt you and say “Hey, guess what. I’m a farmer!

About Diane Loew

Diane walked out of high school down the aisle of her church to meet her new husband and onto the farm. Little did she know the changes that she would face. Mother of four sons, 3 daughters-in-law, 8 wigglies, countless dogs, cats, goats and other pets over the years she shares her life with her Farmer of 44 years. She farms with her third generation husband on their family dairy farm in West MI. They milk 700 cows three times a day in a double 12 herringbone parlor. They farm about 1200 acres. Diane does all the office work, helps in the fields and loves to help the herdsman/vet with different procedures. She also works part time at the bookstore in her church. She is happiest when she is cooking and baking for her family. They try to meet around the Sunday dinner table after church each week to regroup and spend a few minutes together before the crazy week starts. In her words “I love where God plopped me and with the life he’s given me. I am blessed beyond imagination.” You can follow her blog and Facebook where you’ll find stories that range from technical to humorous to inspirational. You can also test out some of the great food she serves her family and the treats she takes to the farm for her employees.

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