The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Thinking Out Loud

by Natalie (Dowell) Schmitt

1st column for the Dairy Star updated from 3/24/2008

I have always been a wonderer. I wonder about this and wonder about that. Why things are the way they are and how things work.

My husband, Mark, sometimes looks at me like I'm from another planet when I say, "I was wonderin'..." That's what this article is all about. Just thinking outloud.

I know that may cause me some problems, but I hope at least it gets us to sit back, ponder and smile or laugh out loud.

I am not an eloquent writer. I can not describe a pond like Emerson or the great war like Hemmingway, but I can talk about the sweet smell of watermelon in the air after a mid-summer July rain when the corn is just tasseling.

Or sitting in the hay shed listening to a much needed rain. Just simple things make me marvel at life.

God has a great sense of humor. Just look around and you will see his humor in the everyday things. Have you ever studied a duckbilled playtapus? I think one of the kids got into the design studio on that day of creation.

God and I have our daily chats. Mostly, it is me chatting away while the feed is running into the feed cart or the roller mill is grinding the corn. I think God thought that someone else should be in on our conversations, so he sent me a "sign."

For the past 16 years, I had been on an extended maternity leave from radio broadcasting. Many central Minnesota farmers woke up with me every morning and stayed with me throughout the day listening for farm news and markets. I loved talking about farming, but I also loved working on the farm.

When we were expecting our first child, it was a simple decision to be a stay-at-home mom. Now, that's not to say I quit working. In fact, just the opposite happened. Mark and I work together to raise our four children and 100 cows on his family farm. It is a great career, and it has also provided me with a ton of material for discussion.

Sometimes you just know when someone is trying to get your attention. I had three job offers in 10 days and I wasn't even looking for a job!

A local radio station offered me a morning time slot, but only as part-time.

The pay would just cover my fuel expense, but broadcasting is a lot like farming. They are both addictions. You just love what you do.

You're not in it for the money...and if you make just enough to cover your expenses, it just might work out.

After talking with the station manager, he suggested I should write down my stories on the farm. I just laughed and said I was a better speaker than writer.

A couple of days later, the vet clinic was looking for a farm wife who's children were well on their way to independence. The girls in the office thought it would be great if I handled all of our farm's paperwork. Luckily, our vet knew that I was still needed at home to help the guys. That night Mark and I were talking about the sudden job offers when Mark Klaphake from the Dairy Star called. He asked if I would consider writing a column for the paper. Now this could work out. I wouldn't have to drive to a job. I could still help with chores around the farm and I would get to share my thoughts and observations about life on the farm.

Little did I realize that I would have to start carrying a pen and pad with me where ever I go. Inspiration hits at the oddest moments and I just can't remember all the wonderful things I just thought of!

Let alone to remember what job I was in the middle of doing when I was distracted, but that's another topic.

Many have hung in with me as I developed this column. I had to learn to pace myself. There have been just so many things I wanted to talk about.

Now that I am sharing my column with my Illinois friends, I look forward to talking with you through columns of the past and writings of today when I'm just thinking out loud.