For the first time in many months, I’ve spent the last two weeks at home with my family. Normally, I am back at school by now, and aside from my normally abbreviated winter break, I don’t normally get to spend this many consecutive days with my parents and siblings.
At 2 a.m. on Tuesday, our border collie sounded the alarm — the bark that she only uses when the cows are out. I stumbled out of bed first, evaluating the situation. How many were out? Did I need to wake up everyone or just my parents? Needless to say, everyone was soon jolted awake. Groggy and out-of-sorts, all we could do was try to put our boots on the correct feet and get out the door.
An hour and a lot of running and raised voices later, the last heifer was in the barn, and we scampered back to the house. Now wide awake, our other dogs joined the party as we sat in the kitchen, eating taquitos and laughing through the sleep deprivation, as my sister told funny stories and the dogs wrestled in the yard. It was 3 a.m., and the day was only just beginning.
As most people can attest to, spending time with family, especially contiguous, uninterrupted time, can be a blessing and a curse. I am the oldest of four children. My younger sister has been anxiously packing for her first year of college, my younger brothers have been coming up with new and exciting ways to push all of my buttons, and my parents have been managing our dairy farm and the madness that comes with navigating the new guidelines that come with returning to school.
I don’t want to excessively romanticize the work that farmers do. It’s gratifying and yes, we do wake up before dawn, and sometimes you have to work a full day after chasing cows at 2 a.m. But most importantly, we had a lot of fun making jokes, eating taquitos, and being together through our sleep-deprived haze.
Farm families set themselves apart in this way. You may not get along most of the time, but when push comes to shove and something needs to get done, the ability to band together and work through it while having a good time is incredibly admirable. We don’t end every night (or early morning) giggling and carrying on, but the nights that we do are ones to treasure.
Abbie Cox grew up in Cato, N.Y. on a first-generation dairy farm and currently attends Cornell University as a member of the class of 2021, majoring in animal science with a minor in education and a focus in dairy. On campus, she is involved with the Cornell University Dairy Science Club, Sigma Alpha, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and is a Peer Adviser with CALS Student Services. Cox has interned with the MILC group, the Animal Agriculture Alliance, and was the 2020 Hoard’s Dairyman summer editorial intern.