Have you ever met one of those people who never seem to have anything going wrong? Every time you chat with them, the cows couldn’t be milking better, the corn couldn’t be growing taller, and, somehow, the weather couldn’t be more perfect. But since when is anything to do with farming perfect? Since when is life perfect?
When I was younger, there was one farmer in particular who always seemed to have himself, his life, and his farm together. I was in awe. I always thought we must’ve been doing something wrong to not be living like this guy. That was until one day, someone made a comment about how frustrating it was that he only ever spoke about the good things. On the way home from whatever event that was, my dad said something to the effect of, “If you never talk about the bad things, how will you know how to fix them?” That phrase has stayed with me ever since.
If I hadn’t talked about how much trouble we were having with scours, our nutritionist at the time never would’ve mentioned using apple cider vinegar. If I hadn’t talked about our increasing somatic cell count, I wouldn’t have learned that washing the milkers as often as we were was doing more harm than good. If I hadn’t started talking about my mental health struggles, I would still feel overwhelmed and completely alone. All of these things have been game changers in my life and on our farm. And I never would’ve discovered them if I hadn’t talked about the struggles.
I know this is not a common thing, and lots of people will say they want to focus on the positive in life, focus on the good. And yes, in today’s world, focusing on the good, especially when it comes to your mental health, is necessary, but there’s a place for both. There needs to be a balance between finding and living in the good and talking about the bad to better our farms and ourselves.
When you talk about your struggles, you find others who are struggling with or have struggled the same. You may find solutions you had never considered. You may find new angles or perspectives from which to approach the problem. And even if you don’t solve the issue, I promise you that you will at least find solace in the fact that you’re not alone.
Own your weaknesses, then put a voice to them. You may find that voicing your weaknesses is truly your greatest strength.
The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.