This post was written by dairy farmer Claire Stanley. Claire grew up on Paul-Lin Dairy Farm in East Fairfield, VT. After you read the post, enjoy a virtual tour of her farm.
One of the greatest things about farm life is that there’s ALWAYS something to do. Now, depending on who you are, this may actually be the worst thing you can imagine. Always something on the to-do list!? How do you sleep at night!? Well…. Cause we’re tired from doing so much. In all seriousness though – I don’t necessarily mean there is something URGENT that must be done NOW (though that happens a fair amount as well). But there is never an excuse to say ‘I’m bored.’
When I lived in the city of Columbus, Ohio I always marveled that weekends were spent… shopping. Going to outlet stores and area malls was a weekend pass-time, dinners out were a given – something to do. It occurred to me that this was perhaps because… people have nothing else to do? Growing up, my sister and I learned early on to never utter the phrase ‘I’m bored’ as you would quickly find yourself with a lengthy list of various tasks that assured you that you were, in fact, not bored. As I get older I realize that this is actually something that we as a farming community take for granted. We are never faced with the reality that there is a weekend’s worth of hours to fill with no obligations or tasks to complete. There are cows to milk, tractors to repair, fences to mend, cows that don’t feel good. Our work responsibilities don’t have weekends, they are there 24/7, 365 – and don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – this is the life that we have chosen.
Now there are probably a lot of farmers out there right now going ‘Seriously, Claire!? How is the fact that we always have something that needs to be done a positive?! What I wouldn’t give for a weekend of nothing scheduled! Perhaps they are right. But I believe that farmers like me, as a whole, are disinclined to enjoy idle time; and that comes from the continuous rhythm of schedule this life evokes. Cows are happiest and thrive most readily in an environment with as little day-to-day variance as possible. Because of this, we, as their caretakers, are inherently in tune with their need for promptness and plan and, in turn, create a reliance on the daily ins and outs of this schedule as well.
Now, of course I don’t speak for all farmers in this experience – each of us have different ways and different cadences of this lifestyle. But, know that this particular farmer feels very blessed to find that on a sunny day there is always an excuse to be outside: shoveling or sweeping or pulling or planting or leading or……the list goes on.