Never a Bull Moment

I remember sitting in our living room when we lived in the city and discussing farm life. Even as we itched to escape the bustle around us, we talked about what we each wanted. From the first conversation, it was always a bull for my husband. He wanted a bull. Not a steer. Not a heifer. Had to be a bull. I wasn’t a fan of the idea, but I didn’t even know when we would live in the country, so why shoot him down?

Fast forward to moving to the country and we went hog wild with ALL the animals. Boy have we learned some lessons the hard (and expensive) way. One of those mistakes is a bull. We got him as a bottle baby. He was as cute as could be.

“Don’t head butt with him,” I’d scold the boys.

“Don’t play with his horns,” I’d warn my husband.

While I didn’t have cow experience, I did have goat and sheep experience. You don’t play that way with things designed to headbutt out their battles. You’ll always lose. So it stood to reason that we don’t play that way with the bull, either.

Well, Mom is a dud and her only goal is to ruin all the fun, so despite my warnings, the play continued. It became a problem as that little bottle baby is hit the 500lb mark.

20190321_203116.jpgThe first major incident happened to me. He charged me twice. In a moment that I thought I was thinking fast and going to stop the collision, I got my shin between me and the oncoming bull. My shin lost. The pain was indescribable.

I hobbled to the couch and started icing the thing, rubbing arnica all over it, and pleading with God to let nothing be broken. The resulting bruise took 3 weeks to heal. It still hurts in spots a couple months later.

The second incident involved my sweet 2-year-old daughter. We call her Wild because, by most accounts, she is just that, wild. But she is kind. She isn’t mean to our animals. She was minding her own when this darn bull went after her. That was it. I listed him and sold him immediately.

We weren’t quite ready to process him, and I value the safety of my kids and myself first and foremost. We are out here day in and day out working, doing chores, playing. We have to be safe.

It was shortly thereafter that my cousin reached out and let me know that Jersey bulls can be some of the meanest (which is what our guy was). I would have thought a dairy bull to be docile like a dairy cow. Guess I thought wrong.

And that leads me to the point of all of this – I have said to fellow small farmers that sometimes you just have to take the leap, no matter how ready you think you are, you’re never ready enough, so sometimes you just have to do things, try them, gain some experience, sweat a little, pray a lot, work hard, learn to work smarter. But it is often the experience that teaches you what your next step should be – more than a book, blog, vlog, or whatnot.

But sometimes, you have to know your limitations. We should have castrated that bottle calf IMG_1756right away. We should have looked at our fencing, lack in separate and adequate pens, and our experience with a stud purchase or two (don’t let us go to the auction, it’s just bad), to inform our decision about that bottle calf. The bull should have come later, when we built a bullpen, and when we had matured enough to know better than to mess with horns/head of a bullheaded critter.

There is never a bull moment on the farm, and for that, I am quite thankful. I’ve learned a lot this past couple of years. I am looking forward to learning more in the years ahead of me.

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Like a Weight was Lifted

I went to bed last night feeling a little bit unsure. It was harder than I imagined bidding the feed store farewell. I knew it was the right decision but it can be hard to let go of ideas, hopes, and dreams for something – especially something that I envisioned being part of my life for the next 30, 40, 50 years.

Then I slept. Sleep is refreshing. I think it is some important to remember that how we are feeling when we are tired and depleted is not an accurate picture of a situation.

I woke up earlier than usual, refreshed, ready, and making plans for our family, our home, our farm, and our journey forward. I feel the creative brewing and the drive to write once again.

I was measuring my success against someone else’s and in the comparison game, I always come up short. But this morning I see it around me, the success we’ve had, the joy we’ve experienced, all of the growth individually and as a family. I am ready for what’s to come.

The Mister and I are spending our morning deciding what direction to take the farm, what our farm goals are, and then comes business planning for his business. We have our work cut out for us this weekend setting goals and creating a path and plan to achieve those goals.

Have you set goals for this year? I would love to hear what they are!

Until next time,
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Just Like That

It’s over so much the same as it began – a few weeks of anticipation, leading up to the final moment. It feels just as surreal to close this chapter as it did to open it.

I’ll never forget the day I first turned the key in the lock and opened the feed store. I couldn’t believe it was mine. So many ideas had come to mind in the weeks leading up to that moment, I had started a notebook just for the ideas.

I had too many ideas to know where to start, and I started too many ideas too fast, and lacked the follow through necessary to truly know which ideas were successful and which ideas weren’t. (This tends to be a recurring problem for me. I’m working on it.)

Knowing how many ideas were left untried, and walking out that door for the proverbial last time (I mean, I’m sure I’ll be back to buy feed), was downright hard. I put so much of myself in to that store. But things don’t always go the way we think they should, or even will.

A dear friend called today in the middle of me counting failures and kindly but adamantly reminded me I was looking at it all wrong. Sure, I could count failures if I wanted to, there surely are failures to count. But she pointed out that with all our family walked through in the last several months, I chose my family. I chose to be with them, available to them, present for them.

And she helped me clear my head so much. Instead of counting failures or even feeling like this happened to me, I could see the choices I made. And as I write this, while I acknowledge disappointment and things that could have gone different or better, I don’t regret that I chose my family. I didn’t bury myself in my work and wait for the storm to pass.

In 2 months, 2 years, 2 decades, I know I will be glad for investing my time and energy in my children, regardless of leaving a business behind. I think in a few short years, had I made the store the priority, I would have realized my kids were grown and I wouldn’t be able to get that time back.

I think this is one of those times where I am learning to say no to something good, to be able to say yes to the best.