Starting again…

Ice n

I know it has been a while since I have posted; things have changed here that have left me feeling a number of emotions that I don’t want to deal with along with making some decisions moving forward that need to be made.

My son and his family are no longer doing the milking; I find it a relief for them in a way. It means less travel time and more time tending to their own animals…I know from the disappointment of giving up this part of their dream to milk cows that it has to be one of those things that will weigh on their minds and hearts for a long time.

I try to look at it as being a learning experience…being responsible for a working dairy farm and having to maintain a full time job for monetary reasons just isn’t possible…

The impact of low milk prices and the price of beef and dairy animals sent to market is making all of us feel a bit like a failure. My Farmer would always come up with some solution to a financial problem…he would struggle with it for some time and then just say let’s do this or that and see what happens…

The situation I find myself in now, milking and taking care of calves again, has been leaving me very tired and sore ( a summer of not doing much manual labor has made me soft…) I am lame and overwhelmed.

Jeremy and his family has been feeding all the larger heifers and cows, as I do not feel safe in the skiddie…but this takes time away from his beef operation among other things. Today he is helping make new areas for dry cows and heifers…hoping to have everything right here at the ‘farm’ and not off across the road…which will make feeding a bit easier and also we will have a better way of keeping track of the closeups as well as those due a couple of weeks out.

I cannot and will not give my animals away…but won’t begin to get what they are worth. I thought of selling just the milk cows and holding on to heifers and calves to have a start up herd in a year or two…but when you hear of a hereford beef cow weighing 1300+lbs. bringing less than 35 cents / pound all thoughts of selling goes out the window.

Hindsight is 20/20…but too little too late. We all should have gotten involved and MADE it work…thrown our personal feelings and pride out the window…

Now it seems like I am starting over again…I am glad to have the babies here again and watch them grow. I milk both ends of the day at least for now. Jai is enjoying helping me in the parlor…he is very calm and quiet around the cows which is a must unless you want to get kicked or pushed.

So for now at least, I am back into it. Not as a Farmer’s wife…I have been forced up the ladder of ‘farm-dom’ …and now have become the Farmer. I watch for crows all the time…I come into the house to see the butterflies in one form or another just to get my Farmer fix.

I had a fantastic teacher of 45+ years but it is not the same…for a while I got to enjoy life without the commitment of daily milking and chores…now the ‘kids’ come to me as they did the Farmer…only this time the voice of experience is quiet.

When they ask what I want to do about such and such I know they want my opinion but I base it on what I think Ed would say.

As for me, for now…all I can say is that it is a tough job and I’ve been left to do it…there has to be a solution and with the help of some others I will try.  My body has grown older over these passed six months or so for a number of reasons; as soon as I can get over this lameness I will be on my game again…I will make my Farmer proud…perhaps by continuing to farm or maybe by deciding not to any longer. Either way he will know I am doing my best…besides, I have to answer to him one day!

Lighting a Candle and Remembering…

A celebration of Life _n

Last evening Maggie, Cooper and I attended a Celebration of Life with other families who were blessed to have Hospice be a part of their care giving plan for a loved one.

There was music and a brief message by one of the counselors along with different family members standing up and giving a brief talk about their loss and how it has affected them.

I actually surprised myself by getting up in front of these grieving families and speaking about my Farmer’s journey…his decision for no treatments, our time away, his family…but most of all the fact that he was the bravest in showing all of us that he was accepting of his condition and the eventual outcome.

My daughter Maggie is having a terrible time dealing with her loss…she told me that she doesn’t / can’t face the fact that he is gone…going on without her Dad is very difficult for her.

We both decided to go to a family counseling meeting through the Hospice organization…I am hoping that by going together we can help each other. I have attended bereavement meetings for spouses but I think the family setting would work better for her at this point.

Lighting a candle in my Farmer’s memory was an honor…I so respect him for being the fighter he was but also for being so in tune with doing it with dignity and grace…teaching us all that death can be as beautiful as living in many ways. He always said it was the last thing he was going to do so he wasn’t worried about it.

He wasn’t…he worried for the rest of us that would be carrying on without him. And so forward we go with the promise of being together again…oh what stories he will tell!!!

“Bittersweet” comes to mind.

Alone_n

I avoided Cracker Barrel restaurants on my PA. trip. I was afraid it would be a bit much for me to sit at a table admiring the antiques on the walls without my Farmer…he could tell me what they were if I didn’t know.

So instead I stopped at a Perkin’s restaurant for a quick bite.  As I sat there I couldn’t help but focus on the empty chair across from me.

So many conversations came to mind; especially some from our last trip together. The one that sticks in my mind was one where he told me that he probably wouldn’t be here to do this kind of thing together again and that we needed to make that one special.

Long talks over coffee about family and farm…moving on knowing he loved us all with a passion (yes, he did use that word!). He did not take his decision of no treatment lightly…just praying for time, quality time, with all of us was a silent prayer we both said on a continuous basis.

I remember him saying that he was ‘okay’ with the decision and at the same time he was scared to death. He didn’t want us to have to witness a long, drawn out sickness. I guess his wishes were granted.

In reflecting on those four months of watching him shine strong for all of us I realize the toll it took on him. I am not going to dwell on it, only to say that he made me so proud to be his wife…his strength and vulnerability mixed together and the outcome could not be changed, yet he did things his way.

He was worried about all of us, setting down plans of what he would like to see in our future. Our guide. He said he knew I would do my best to carry on. ‘Just don’t let others talk you into anything you don’t want to do…and don’t be taken advantage of.”

In replaying things in my head there at the restaurant staring at the empty chair, it wasn’t really empty. He was with me the whole time…I realized I was feeling sorry for myself and he wouldn’t want that. I can be strong when I have to be. I also think I proved something by making that trip…I am merely half of the whole that made us but I will do us proud and carry on.

There will be more trips and a lot more tears…but my Farmer will be right beside me…I can feel it!!!

A Good Trip

Horses and mules n

Last Thursday I left for a long weekend with my Amish friends in PA. I was a bit apprehensive about what our reaction would be when we came face to face; this was always a trip that my Farmer and I took together.

We so loved the countryside with it’s fields of hay, corn, some had tobacco and others spewed green with soybeans. To see these dedicated farmers out there with their horses and machinery was indeed a sight to behold.

In some places you could see older gentlemen with the reins and in others you may spot a boy or girl of perhaps 10-12 years old driving the team of horses. Most of the time it wasn’t just a two horse hitch…sometimes 6 or 8, depending on what they were doing.

None of the rush rush of the Englishmen…just slow, steady pace and the job still got done. They make it look so easy!

When I arrived around 4 in the afternoon little Amanda came running out of the barn to greet me…she was only 2 the last time my Farmer and me were there. She has the biggest brown eyes and a smile that makes you do the same.

‘You are Carol” she said and immediately put her little hand in mine and said she wanted to show me her litter of puppies.

She led me into the barn where 2 brothers and 2 sisters along with their mom and dad were milking a stable full of cows. I was engulfed in hugs and free falling tears by everyone….Martha, Rebekeh, Samuel and Stephen, along with their parents Marilyn and Amos made me feel so welcomed.

After that greeting I knew it would be a good visit. My anxiety of being there alone was quickly squashed as, in a way, I became a part of them.

Sadie Ruth and Daniel returned home after their day’s work off the farm and once again I was blessed with big hugs.

Amanda was my tour guide…I was shown puppies, calves, horses, a garden that had furnished much of the winters veggies and a field with mules grazing in it. (photo above)

I was asked to take a few photos for them…I will honor their request not to publish any of the family…but I will post some others.

I am looking forward to telling my ‘ long weekend with the Amish’ stories. I got to reflect on visits of the past and how things have changed for the Gulley’s since the last visit of 2015.

I needed to do this…I felt like they had sent me home in this huge bubble of love and that I would be okay…but most of all, my Farmer’s spirit was with me. His arms are holding me up as I move forward along with the Almighty’s guidance. I will be alright.

I Feel So Special Today

Cathy and Maggie_n

I woke up today dreading that the milking parlor was calling my name for a good cleaning and that I needed to get a large part of it finished so I could go to PA. tomorrow for a long weekend.

Yes, I could put it off but with my luck the Federal Milk Inspectors would show up; we are due for our 18 month inspection in November but from what I understand it could be anytime between now and just after the first of the new year…

Well Maggie came to help me do the walls in the parlor as they are the hardest part for me; Ed and I tried to keep up a routine of cleaning some part of the parlor at least a couple times a week, either the floor or under the where the milkers hand…something so we would not be bombarded with having to do it all at once.

It didn’t always work and sometimes we would realize it was time for a good scrubbing. And we usually worked on it together…Well times and things have changed.

Oh goodness, I am getting off track…

Well as you can see Maggie had a dual agenda for this morning. She told Cathy Kilby ( she was one of Maggie’s teachers/coaches and has remained friends  all this time) she would be here helping me so Cathy could come with this oh so precious handmade gift which the two of them have been working together on for some time I understand.

Beautiful…and that does not begin to describe it. Their presentation was awesome and my heart just soared when they opened it up…gorgeous butterflies and dragonflies.

Then she pulled Muck boots, gloves and a heavier jacket out of her car and said we were going to work as a threesome and finish that cleaning job!!! What an awesome woman and friend. Check out the photo below!!!

So yes, I am feeling blessed for many reasons tonight…I have a daughter that will go the extra mile to help me when I need it even though she has fallen behind in her own business’ work…I have a wonderful friend  who went above and beyond to lift my spirits…And now I am going to bed and wrap myself in MY very own, handmade with love, beautiful and so greatly appreciated quilt and dream of my Farmer…

I am blessed…

Scrubbing the Parlor n

 

To whom it may concern: Bejosh Update

It appears that some decisions are harder than others when you are trying to do what is right in whatever situation you find yourself in.

After losing my Farmer to brain cancer in August we have tried to stick it out with low milk prices and rising feed costs (grain), along with everything else costing more; sometimes from month to month prices rise.’

Supplies are a huge cost on any farm I would imagine…milk replacer, cleaning products such as detergent and acid, supplements such as minerals and other things to keep the cows producing are all necessary.

Also just general things used in bovine health care; iodine, calcium, glucose when needed, aspirin, cleaning boluses or tube  medicine…not cheap.


Now my Destiny is down…hasn’t been up since Thursday but is still trying. Most likely something she was born with (or without) being born prematurely. One of those darned if you do/darned if you don’t situations….we helped her for days…My Farmer would hold her across his lap so we could feed her because she couldn’t get up on her own for days.

First one to the barn in the morning would check on her before doing anything else. What a day it was when I found her standing up all by herself…to me that is what farming is all about…Not to be having regrets for nursing her to health, or so we thought….positive things that bring a smile to your face when all else seems gloomy.

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I have also come to the realization that we are not able to keep milking here…there is so much work to having a milking herd and taking care of them the way they deserve. God knows that Chad and Kate gave it a good try…their circumstances of having to maintain a full time job off the farm does not allow for much of the above and beyond things to be managed. Not their fault but not something that is easy to face either.

As I said, our family dynamic has never favored our children working together for any length of time…but I am not giving up on the fact that it could (?) work if egos, attitudes and characters by all of us could be thrown out the window for 10 or 12 hours in the day. Just not something that will ever come to fruition.

The biggest hurt and frustration for me now without my Farmer to talk to, is that he told us all that that was the only way it would ever work.

I hope and pray that I can locate someone with the urge to farm and milk here using our facility … or someone will come forward and be able to purchase our small herd as is…32 milking now with 10 or so dry cows and bred heifers. I would be willing to hold onto the younger heifers and small calves for now.

I am keeping the land and all that goes with it…just letting go of the animals that I can’t manage at this point. Maggie and Jeremy will help me milk after Chad and Kate are done and that will help but won’t change the outcome.

Every one tells me that Ed wouldn’t want to see me going through this and that he would understand…being a surviving spouse sucks with all it’s responsibilities…and it is hard on the kids too.

But like I said I have my big girl pants on and I (we) will push through and over this bump in the road. Perhaps just not in the way my Farmer would…he was never a quitter. In someways I have failed and I am facing it as best I can. Writing is an outlet for me; I just don’t want pity or people feeling sorry for me because of what I wrote. We said our Blog would be honest and truthful in every thing…that is all it is.

I feel broken and sad but I also realize that most of this wasn’t going to work regardless. I am confident in the fact that I am doing my best but right now it isn’t coming easily.

 

Full Weekend!

Starting on Thursday evening I spent the next four days with 3 of my grandkids, i grandkitty, 3 granddogs and 2 grandfish!!

Yup, I was with the Thayne menagerie…

I really cannot imagine how Maggie, my daughter, keeps all of the activities straight for the 3 kids…I had a list of things to do and places to go with them. They are supper busy with sports.

First there was football with Tucker (another grandson Jai plays on the same team)…they won but don’t ask me how or who they played. I know nothing about that sport.

Practice for Cooper in Hoosick Falls to  prepare for the Jr Superbowl on Sunday in Brunswick…They won 13-0, remaining undefeated for Cooper’s (10 yrs. old)  first year playing the sport, which he told his parents he didn’t think he would play next season after a couple of practices.

Well yes, that changed as they kept winning once the games began for the season. So I guess I know what Coop will be doing next fall!!! Congrats boys!!! Much deserved!!!

While at their house, I helped fill the outdoor furnace with Logan and their cat Brady had to assist. He is a big boy and slept with me, much like Ophelia does.

I came to my house everyday but the dogs and cats all knew I had been around the other animals…sniffed my shoes and pant’s legs…that was all they wanted to do…and give me the ‘how dare you’ glare.!!

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I guess I feel a bit better…less sad and understanding that I can only do what I can. Milk futures are going up a bit but it may be too little too late for some of us. Farming newspapers are full of auctions…animals, equipment, land and some entire farms are selling out.

We have other options to think about before it could get that far…I can hear my Farmer saying ‘don’t rush to any decisions…think them through.’

After some of the talks he and I had after his diagnosis and knowing his time was short, I am sure IF he was able to beat his cancer and look ahead at what we’re facing now, his options would be much the same as they are for me and the kids.

Change can be good is what I keep telling myself…and back in April after Ed stopped milking and we spent more time together(not just working), it was a good change…talking and laughing like we hadn’t in years brought us closer….

I will cherish those times…I honestly wouldn’t believe you if you said I would be a widow in four short months. Hope and wishes along with faith wouldn’t change the end result though.

I pray for GOOD change… for everyone who needs a positive in their lives. My guardian angel needs to shine his light in the right direction and we will follow!!

Oh yeah…I got a call from Kaylah out at U Wisconsin @ Madison.  Says classes are hard and she is very busy…not much free time for socializing. BUT, sounds like she fit right in and is liking the challenge. My oldest grandchild is no doubt going to excel…she is a go-getter and doesn’t give up in anything. Love you Kaylah and am so proud of you! Can’t wait to see you at Thanksgiving!!!

Something to look forward to….