The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

SCHMITT: "Takes Your Breath Away!"


1-13-2009 Column

January is the time of year that just seems to take my breath away for a variety of reasons. Some you can probably figure out. Others may surprise you.

Of course the first reason is walking out the door in the morning. The slap of arctic air whipping around the corner of the garage takes my breath away. I’m forced to take quick, short breaths in order to keep my lungs filled as I head to the barn. I’m so thankful that the guys let me do much of the inside chores while they struggle against the biting winds and blowing snow. It is days like today that I think a liquid manure system and an outside automated feeding system might be an easy sell.

While the guys pretend to be turtles and hunker into their insulated coveralls, I’m holding my breath while I mix feed. I baby along the silo unloader on these cold mornings just hoping that it keeps going around. I have learned that patience is a virtue to treasure on cold January mornings, because repair bills will definitely take your breath away.

After the morning chores are done, it is to the house to tackle another pressing (or depressing) job….year-end bills and books. The only consolation is sitting at the kitchen table with Mark in the warm sunshine. As we review the bills and estimate finances we struggle to catch our breath with February milk future prices below $9.50. We keep reminding ourselves that what goes down, must bounce back up. We just wonder if it will go up as quickly as it went down.

With the impact of a boxer’s gut punch, we struggle to catch our breath as we review our year-end statements from our investments. It sure takes the wind out of your sails to see the money you have set aside for retirement has already retired and disappeared.

I think Newton’s law of “for every action is an equal reaction” doesn’t” apply to stock markets and milk prices. It seems like they crash downward very quickly, but struggle to return to their starting point with the same speed.

What really took my breath away this month though was nothing depressing…it was how some special friends and neighbors celebrated my birthday. Mary baked me the best cupcakes I have ever tasted. They put the bakery to shame with her fancy blue frosting and decorations. Joyce brought over a homemade supper of chicken noodle soup, potato bread and chocolate cake. What treats and treasures. Mark even told me to go in and catch the Jonathon playing basketball that night! The whole day just took my breath away as I celebrated being over half way to 90!

What takes your breath away? Drop me a note or e-mail. I would love to hear from you.


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.)