March 3 2020 02:40 PM

Take a moment to recognize that thing that’s been nagging you or slowing you down.

Muhammad Ali said, “Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.” He was referring to the everyday distractions that veer us off course from the bigger picture of our life’s purpose. But sometimes in the farm life it’s the literal pebble in your boot.

Or at least for myself the other day, it was a literal piece of grain. It fell into my boot during morning chores while feeding calves. Instead of taking the probably 30 seconds it would have cost me to stop and empty my boot, I powered through it. All the while thinking about the poke in my foot with every step I took.

It really felt like a metaphor for me, and many of us, as we tend to put off the little problems in our life. Meanwhile, it likely would take just a few extra minutes, which admittedly don’t always exist, to truly address and fix the problem.

Sometimes it requires a simple fix. For example, that gate we fight with for 10 minutes every time we have to go through it. It really just needs the hinges replaced. The time spent actually getting that done would pay off in ease of operation.

Maybe it’s just a decision that needs to be made. Like that one cow that every farm has that makes you say all the choice words. She’s pulling her weight, but she is just horrible to work with. Always kicking off the milker or a nightmare to handle. That cull decision might just bring a whole lot of joy.

Perhaps it’s one of those more major paperwork items that just keep getting pushed down the to do list. Hearing of a friend’s situation reminded me yet again how I’ve continued to put off finishing our will and medical power of attorney. It’s always in the back of my head and finally finishing it would bring peace of mind.

So, what’s the pebble in your boot? With the limited hours in a dairy farm day, I know how hard it can be to find the time to actually fix problems. But I guarantee finding a way to dump out that pebble will be worth it.


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. Abi-qua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and transitioned to a robotic milking system in 2017.

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