This is going to be a really honest post and it will probably be a little bit all over the place. There are a couple things that have been weighing on my heart lately and I want to talk about it.
First, I will say that I have an amazing life. My husband supports me and my crazy dreams. I have a perfect son who is turning out to be a smaller, male version of me. Our farm is becoming more successful and I recently graduated with my Master’s degree in Agricultural and Extension Education. I love my life and I thank God for it every day. That being said, not everything is just perfect.
The last 9 months of my life have been a health disaster for me. First I dealt with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome when I had Kenton. A week later I went back in for an emergency D&C because I had retained a super tiny piece of the placenta and had a 103 degree fever. Then, all fall I worked 50-65 hours a week and was hit with a string of colds, my first ear infection in like 20 years, a sinus infection, and several bouts of gastritis. (Not to mention an ER trip because I was rushing and hit my head pretty hard on a board in the back of my truck). Lately I have just felt blah so I went to see my doctor. When I was there he said “boy, you’ve had kind of a rough year!”Thanks buddy. He then proceeded to have me have my blood drawn several times and an ultrasound of my thyroid done because he thinks I have a chronic condition where my own immune system attacks my thyroid.
The one thing that could probably have prevented (or lessened the effect of) every single one of those things would have been to significantly reduce stress. I should have seen the warning signs from a mile away, but I was too darn stubborn to allow myself to acknowledge that my body was crying out for a reduction in stress. Now here I sit, with a condition that could either resolve in a year or it could last the rest of my life because I put my body through more than it could handle. My case is extreme. Most people do not subject themselves to the level of both external and internal stress that I did from last summer through now, but I hope that I can serve as an example for what NOT to do to yourself.
Something else that has been weighing on me lately is also stress related and has added a little more concern to my life because I spend all day at my real job worrying about farmers. Right now is a really hard time to be a commodity farmer and it makes me very thankful that I have a niche market I work with. Crop prices are really, really low. In many cases farmers can’t cover their cost of production. The dairy industry is in a crisis. We have bred cows to be better milkers and as a result there are less dairy cows than there used to be, but we are producing more milk. Because we are producing more milk, prices keep dropping, farmers are selling out.
Farmers’ whole lives are farming. Day in and day out it is what they love and it is how they have chosen to raise their families. Farming is less of a career and more of a lifestyle. But what does a farmer do when he fails? When for the second year in a row he can’t pay his bills and prices are so low he probably won’t be able to pay them this year either? What does he do when he feels like he is letting down both the generations that came before him and the one he is trying to raise?
Right now farmer suicide rates are climbing. They don’t feel like they have any other course of action so they are ending their lives. I don’t know what we can do to stop it, but it terrifies me every day that I will get the call that I have lost one of my guys because they just couldn’t do it anymore. It is hard for me to understand what a dark place they must be in to think that their lives are worthless, but I am hopeful that the more we talk about it, the more we can bring the problem into the light and help the farmers that are dealing with that kind of burden. Fortunately, mental health crisis hotlines have been set up specifically for this and resources are being dispatched to try to reduce that massive suicide rate.
I guess what I’m getting at here is that your physical and mental health are really important. Whether you think about them daily or not, you should make taking care of yourself a top priority. When you let it fall behind things like a paycheck, school, a baby, 2 jobs, or a farm, your physical and mental health can get away from you before you even realize what has happened. So spend some time taking care of yourself. You have people that love you and need you to be healthy.
Moving forward I hope to be more open for you guys. I want you to know exactly what I’m handling and what is happening on the farm. I haven’t been communicative on here lately and its probably because of the million other things I have had going on. So I promise that I will do better and I promise that I will talk about the farm, family, health, and nutrition in the coming months as I work to find a balance of those things in my life.