For today’s Sunday Dinner, Lynn Owen has joined us again. Last week, we got to know more about her life on her family’s dairy farm, where she grew up. If you missed the post, you can read it here. Today, she’s planning to share some of the challenges of growing up on a farm as well as her favorite memories.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
What can make life difficult for a dairy owner?
Depending on the weather to work in your favor is not always easy. We needed dry weather to plant the crops, sunshine and rain to help the crops grow, and dry weather to get those same crops off of the fields. All of this could definitely be a challenge!
Think of it, the fields had to first be plowed, then tilled, then planted, then cultivated to clear unwanted weeds from in between the rows and to aerate the crops. Then, depending on what was planted in that field, the work started again. If it was a hay field, the hay had to be cut, then crimped (to squeeze the juice from the hay so it would dry more quickly), then raked (to turn the hay over so it could dry on the other side), then, if it rained, the hay had to be raked again, turning it over to again dry on the other side. Next, it had to be chopped or bailed, to be put in the barns. (If hay was too wet, it could not be put in the barn because it could heat up and start a barn fire.) All of those tasks were required to get hay ready for the cattle/animals to eat! It took many trips over and over each field to do that! Corn fields, oat fields, soy fields, etc., all required similar tasks. And we had tractors!! I cannot imagine how difficult this was when the horses pulled each piece of machinery to accomplish these tasks!!
Also, farm life and work never ends – so, whether or not you felt well or had an elevated temperature, a bad back, or the flu, work had to be done – again, 365 days a year!
What was the most difficult part of growing up on a dairy farm?
Neither of my grandparents drove, nor did our mother (until years later), so after school activities became difficult because our Dad had to stop what he was doing on the fields and/or in the barns, to come to get us.
What type of personality do you feel is ideal for owning a dairy farm?
To be successful on a dairy farm you must be organized and somewhat easy going or you’re not going to survive.
How important is it for dairy owners to stay abreast of new knowledge and information about the industry? Why?
It is critical for dairy owners to stay abreast of new knowledge and information! Crop rotation, new machinery, new techniques for planting, seed selection, and harvesting those crops is vital. It is also critical for the dairy farmer to have common sense to be able to care for his/her cattle – knowing when to wean a calf, knowing what and how much to feed all animals. Knowing what is normal and what is not normal for all of them! Losing a calf, and especially, a cow for any reason, is a huge loss! Farmers have to be willing to get up in the middle of the night to check on a ‘calving cow’ or a cow who could have ‘milk fever’ or a weak calf who needs extra care. Also, cows are not the only animals on most farms. We also had pigs, chickens, sheep, geese, rabbits, cats, dogs, and horses, which all needed understanding and care.
What is your fondest memory of growing up on the dairy farm?
We all loved animals; I have many fond memories of our pets and how compassionate our parents were if one of our pets got injured or was sick. They somehow knew how to take care of all of us – whether we were two legged or four legged!
Some of my fondest memories were simple. My parents both possessed an enormous amount of compassion and common sense – not only for animals, but also for our neighbors, friends, and acquaintances. They taught each of us what was important in life.
We also loved having our city cousins come to the farm to visit – which is what all of the relatives did – everyone came to the family farm, which became quite a challenge for our mother, who had to feed all of these people! We had a lot of fun pulling pranks on our city cousins who were quite naïve as to the workings of a farm. But they soon learned which things were real and which were for fun!
We also had farm and church friends over every Sunday after church – or we went to their houses – to eat and play games. We also went on picnics with our farm family friends. We loved all of this!
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Lynn, thank you for joining us the past two weeks! If you missed last week’s Sunday Dinner, you can find the post here. I asked Lynn where you could find more information. Here are some of her suggestions:
Some farmers sponsor ‘Farm Days’ type events. This is a good way to bring young children to a dairy farm to see the animals. Also, taking them to the local County Fair is another good way to expose them to farm animals. Watching television shows such as The Incredible Dr. Pol gives viewers a good understanding of the life of a Veterinarian as well as some of the hardships dairy farmers face.
Reading and being aware of what is going on in the world of farmers – where milk, cheese, meat, and dairy products come from. Why prices are what they are, how much of that actually goes to the farmer. Small town newspapers actually cover rural subjects such as these very well. So, subscribe to one or more of them. You’ll not only learn from them, but you will help to keep those small journals alive.
You can also see farm life in action in A Strike to the Heart. Find out more here.
Over Sunday Dinner next week, author Laura Frantz will join us to talk about her latest novel, A Heart Adrift and how chocolate plays a role.