Nov. 28 2017 07:00 AM

It’s not always easy to see past the challenges of farming and life, but we have so much to be thankful for in this holiday season.

Thanksgiving is always one of my favorite holidays! It really feels like the start of a magical season and who doesn’t love all the amazing food. But my favorite part of this past week and the whole month of November is the opportunity to focus on the things in my life that I have to be thankful for.

This year, warring with my sense of thankfulness has been some sadness. I recently dressed in black for a third time this year to attend a funeral that shouldn’t have happened. Suicide, cancer, car accident, they have left me feeling that sometimes things feel very unfair. And it has also left me re-examining my life’s priorities.

To add to that, the dairy industry as a whole can really make a person re-examine his or her life choices. Especially in a down economic year like this past one, the weight of the up and down roller coaster ride can often feel like too much. In short, it’s been a rough year!

Refocusing my thoughts on everything that we have to be thankful for puts life’s priorities in the correct order, though. It also keeps my thoughts positive, which is a much-needed mental reminder when life and industry could very much make my thoughts negative.

Family and my young sons remind me that the time with them is the most important of all! The fact that we get to raise them on the farm and let them witness daily miracles that they wouldn’t with any other life is an added blessing. These beautiful bovines are what make our industry a possibility. I don’t think you can be a dairy farmer without some love and admiration for the amazing creatures that make it all possible. And lastly making it a priority to set time for the things in your life that you enjoy! I know how hard that can be with a dairy lifestyle, but life is too short to say you don’t have time for the things that matter. Make that game night with your kids happen, go out to dinner with your spouse or friends, don’t keep saying you’ll make it to that event/place/gathering. Make it a priority and make it happen!

As the holiday season gets rushed, and our tempers get tested with the long hard year, take these last few days of November to set aside a few minutes to examine your life priorities and appreciate all that you have to be thankful for. I think you will find more than you realize. It is a helpful exercise to keep your mental health focused on the positives even when it feels like there are many more negatives.

Darleen Sichley

The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of two young boys who round out the family run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and transitioned to a robotic milking system in 2017.