Good life takes hard work done well


How does one define a life well lived?
There are many people who would base this answer on the amount of money one has in the bank, or the vehicles parked in the garage or the number of vacations a fellow can afford in a year.
I remember having a long conversation with my father near the end of his life, and his statement, “I was lucky enough to do exactly what I wanted to do in my life,” is what stays with me as the standard for a life well lived.
No one was ever happier working hard than my father, but it was farming work that he enjoyed, and that made all the difference.
Sharing. I talked with a gentleman recently who told me he takes great pride in planting a large vegetable garden each spring and sharing the bounty with neighbors who are less fortunate.
“There is simply nothing that I enjoy more than watching those sprouts each spring and harvesting good food later in the summer,” he said.
“All the work in between really doesn’t feel like work to me. I will never get rich at it, but my neighbors and I will never go hungry, either.”
For some, the hard work of dairy farming is what they were called to do. My father, who came of age in the early 1950s, said that he realized he was born at the very right time, as it was an era in which a man could reap rewards from hard work and agricultural diversification.
He always felt that dairy farming was the backbone of a successful farming operation.
“The price of milk will go up and down, but it is at least a constant income that a fellow can rely on. The rest of the farming operation depends on that.”
Subzero. I have been thinking almost nonstop of all the hard-working dairy farmers lately as I check the thermometer and see it barely budging over zero.
If anyone deserves to be wealthy and well fed, it is the dairy farmers of the world. There is nothing quite as grueling as the morning milking on a subzero day.
I remember all too well the frosty noses of the dairy cattle, our own frozen feet as we worked our way through the herd, dreaming of sunshine and balmy breezes.
Frozen doors, frozen equipment, and challenging conditions at every turn combined to leave everyone involved feeling the exhaustion of it all.
I talked with a dairy farmer one day this past week who said the frigid weather made both the milking and the calving extremely challenging.
Frazzled. “It just takes so much out of all of us, including those newborn calves,” she said, sounding worn to a frazzle.
I knew exactly what she was talking about. It takes a tremendous amount of determination to keep a successful dairy farm going, month after month, season after challenging season, year after year.
I read a quote recently that describes the tenacity required of dairy farmers.
Edward Butler once said, “One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the man that has it for 30 years who makes a success of his life.”
Well said.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.