It’s a time for blessing readers, too


Not long ago, a kind Farm and Dairy reader sent me a clipping of a column I had written while impatiently awaiting the birth of my second child. I was a fairly new columnist on the pages of this newspaper at that time, and it touches me to realize how long we have had this partnership, the loyal Farm and Dairy readers and me.

Looking back on this past year, I have been touched by the cards and correspondence from Farm and Dairy readers. It seems a fitting time to say so.

Early writing days. There are times, writing from my home as I do, that I feel rather alone and lonely, set apart from the hustle and bustle of the newsroom that I grew to love in my early journalism days.

When I first started in newspaper work, it was a thrill to feed off of others in that loud and boisterous newsroom. It is a situation that cannot be fully described: It can be a rowdy place, a bit unsettling for the faint of heart, and always, always loud.

I wondered when I first started at that daily newspaper how in the world I ever would think straight enough to get the story down, clear and concise, the headline put together, the cutline correct for the picture to run with it, and still holler “I’m up!” in time to help finish up all the loose ends of articles just dangling there in mid-air.

Adrenaline. I wasn’t given the luxury of wondering. Right off the bat, I was assigned a courtroom case, a murder trial, in the next county.

In the days before laptop computers, I found myself driving at the fastest clip possible, my mind reeling as it searched for the best lead paragraph, rushing to get back to the newsroom to write up the morning’s events in short order.

We worked on a strict 12 o’clock noon press deadline. If that didn’t get the adrenaline flowing, nothing will!

Cranking out columns. My life in recent years has been serene in comparison, and it’s a very good thing. It has been a wonderful experience for me, as I have cranked out a column each week for more than 15 years now from the solitude of my home office.

I am touched – amazed even – when I receive letters from readers who let me know they enjoy my column.

Perhaps I write about what some of you are thinking, or perhaps we have walked a similar country path and shared common bonds that my column somehow manages to put in to words. Whatever it is, I feel blessed to know that my column touches others.

Caring, sharing. As you know, my children have been my greatest joy and their health issues have brought me my greatest sorrow over the years. It touches me deeply that so many of you care enough to share in that with us.

Your cards and letters are uplifting beyond measure, and your kind words and support make us feel less alone in this difficult journey.

Bless you all as you begin this new year. May good health and joyful days be on the horizon for those in the Farm and Dairy family!

* * *

New picture, please. One reader, an older gentleman who has known me all my life, began the not-so-gentle persuasion awhile back to get me to change my photo that runs with my column.

One day, while sitting in my daughter’s bedroom chatting with her, she said, “Mom, let’s take a new picture of you for the newspaper.” She snapped it quickly and next thing I knew she had loaded it in to the computer.

The warp speed of the world today still makes my head spin!

The other day, I received a note in my mailbox that read, simply: “Bout time. Like the new picture. Much better.”

What would I do without the input of readers?!


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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.