The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.


SCHMITT: "ANOTHER YEAR!"

THINKING OUT LOUD!

1-8-2012 Column

In a single moment one year comes to a close and another begins. With the click of the clock the troubles of one year can be swept aside as we focus on the year ahead. The start of another year always brings about hope for a better year and that the end of a long cold winter is just around the corner. While we wait for this winter season to begin we are already reaping the benefits of a brown winter.

The snowless winter has been a blessing on our farm. With a recent drop in water pressure, we knew there must be another leak somewhere underground.

It was just a matter of time before the water started bubbling up from the ground or through cracks in the concrete. We kind of felt like the Beverly Hillbillies watching for the bubbliní oil. Only our bubbles were going to cost us money and not lead us to a life of luxury in California. Fortunately the water geysers appeared between the barns in an open spot. A quick call to the neighbor with the backhoe started our new year adventure.

Tony holds his breath during the holiday seasons and when weíre in an arctic freeze because that is when we usually need him to dig up a water line. This break though had perfect timing and weather. The job got Tony out of a Saturday shopping trip to town and didnít cause frostbite damage to his fingers or ours. Of course, after enough breaks, the guys have become very proficient in fixing underground waterlines and Tony was back home before his backhoe even had time to warm up. It is so nice having enough water pressure to take a shower and run the washing machine. We discovered the frost is just about a foot deep at this point of the winter season so far.

The nice weather also allowed us to take a vacation down south. With the boys home from college, no cows due to calve and dry weather forecasted, Mark thought it was a great time to escape for a few days off. Weíve never taken a winter vacation and I was ready to road trip. We headed to southern Minnesota to visit friends we havenít seen for too long. With all of us busy with our farms, families and life, we havenít had enough free time to get together except through annual Christmas cards. It was so great to sit around kitchen tables chatting and laughing with such good friends.

Of course another year means another birthday. I donít mind birthdays. The alternative is rather limiting and permanent and besides, it is just a combination of numbers that equal age.

I have noticed however, that it seems the age limit keeps getting pushed back as we come closer to the larger numbers. Someone who is old is 10 years older than you or at least in the next decade.

Unfortunately there are just as many behind me as ahead of me in age. Iím at the half way point and still climbing the hill.

My sister, who was my first birthday present, only celebrated the 20th anniversary of her 29th birthday. Mark is a dyslexic 25. He wishes he felt like he did at 25!

Age is like a childís game of peek-a-boo. If they canít see you, then you canít see them. And when you come face to face, it is such a surprise! With this line of reasoning, if you canít see yourself getting older, then you canít be getting older. But the moment you step out of the shower, there is your mother looking back at you. I think big mirrors should be banned from bathrooms. Age is defiantly a state of mind; out of sight, out of mind.

It is kind of like the noise the good farm truck has been making. Of course the good truck is 12 years old and with age comes some different sounds from underneath.

When we hear the noise we are reminded that we need to do something about it, but forget as soon as we turn the key off.

Then when we need to head to town, weíre stranded with an aging vehicle and surprised that it had to happen now. At least we werenít away from the farm when the truck decided it needed to go to the shop for a check-up.

I think sometimes we use this same attitude with our bodies and visiting the doctor. If we just ďwalk it offĒ things will get better on their own over time. As long as the doctor doesnít diagnose anything, then nothing can be wrong. Unfortunately when we finally go in, the surprises may not be as exciting as a game of peek-a-boo.

It boggles my mind sometimes at how easily it is to call the vet when a cow is off feed from a twisted stomach or the hoof trimmer when a special cow has an abscess in her foot, yet to take care of ourselves is such a low priority.

We forget that if we donít take care of ourselves first, then who will take care of everyone else? We canít push afford to push our health out of sight for another year.

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As their four children pursue dairy careers off the farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota. (Natalie grew up in Stronghurst, the daughter of Becky and the late Larry Dowell.)

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