Find your joy during tough times

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Wisconsin dairy farm

During the week that I wrote this, I was able to create and give a presentation to a local rotary club on preparing landscape beds and selecting flowers for the garden. It wasn’t even close to being a dairy topic, but it gave me joy. From the content shared to the photos used to the people listening, I had so much fun with this program. 

In the state of agriculture today, with input prices skyrocketing and uncertainty for the future, it can be incredibly hard to find the joy in what we do. However, finding the joy and clinging to that joy is what will bring you through hard times. 

In fact, finding the joy has some health benefits, too. As if we don’t need another thing to worry about with a wet and cold spring and the price of soybean meal, our health and wellness need to come first. Without a farmer, there is no farm. One way that happiness can physically affect our well-being is through heart health. Happy people tend to have lower heart rates and blood pressure. 

Health benefits

Additionally, happy people may have better immune systems. Studies have shown that when individuals are exposed to the cold virus, those that reported happy emotions leading up to exposure were more likely to stay healthy and those with negative emotions were more likely to become sick. 

People that experience more happiness also tend to have a lower cortisol (stress hormone) level. This can also play into the immune system. Not only are happy people experiencing less stress, but lower cortisol levels do not strain the immune system like elevated levels do. 

Other studies have shown that happiness can help injuries recover more quickly, or at least mitigate some of the pain in the process. 

Positive emotions have been able to lessen the pain of chronic pain, such as arthritis, according to clinical studies. The risk of stroke has also been assessed in regard to happiness. Elderly people reporting positive emotions were less likely to have a stroke, especially men, compared to those reporting negative emotions. 

Last, but certainly not least, happiness can prolong our lifespan. A famous study showed that the happiest people outlived the unhappiest by an average of seven to 10 years. Think, almost a decade more to enjoy life, grandkids and the world surrounding us. 

Farming joys

There are a variety of places on and off the farm to find joy to keep us going. If you are religious, perhaps it’s the opening hymn on Sunday mornings. Perhaps it’s the bawl of a newborn calf. 

To give some inspiration, I’ll share my farming joys: New bedding in the barn. The smell of freshly turned earth. The newborn call of a lamb. Hanging up the Carhartt for the season. The smell of mowed grass. The feeling of a spring breeze. Putting away the planter. The smell of good hay. Watching a new litter of pigs snuggle up to mom. Feeding mealworms to my hens. 

Letting the sheep on pasture for the first time. Watching “lamb-pedes”. The first pass with the combine. The last pass with the combine. Enjoying a meal made with homegrown veggies. Placing the last square bale. Examining the data on the year’s lamb crop. Bedding down the barn on Christmas Eve. Collecting eggs. The first lamb of the year. The last lamb of the year. 

Harvesting our own animals to feed the family. The sound of animals eating. The quiet of a winter night. The sound of spring peepers in the pond. The colors of a spectacular sunrise. The first frost. Late night lamb checks. The people I share the farm with 

You can take them as inspiration or find your own. If you are lucky enough to have a spouse or significant other that shares your same passion for farming, it is even more exciting to share in these joys with one another and to be someone to lean on if your partner can’t find their joy that day. Find your joy, cling to it, and you will get through the hard times.

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Haley Zynda is an agriculture and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension. She can be reached at 330-264-8722 or zynda.7@osu.edu.

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