A dear friend of mine once told me that anyone who could afford to take a couple weeks away from their work really must not be needed at their job. Is that true?
Also, what farm wife and farm mom takes 11 days off solo during the busiest of times? I'm guilty of this, but a lifelong friend of mine was getting married in Oregon, and the following weekend, my late brother's son was getting married. How could I miss out on these life celebrations for two people so close to my heart? So, I booked a ticket to be gone for this extended period months in advance.
Anxiety rose as my trip approached. Optimal growing weather had our corn ready to chop nearly two weeks early, starting the day after I left. Our kids started school in early August, and to top it off, we are short on farm help. But Scott knows how important my dear friend, Michele, and my nephew, Josh, are to me. He said, "Head west, young lady," and indeed, I did just that.
As I headed out, he gently reminded me, "I’ve got this," and ultimately, he did. Scott and the kids didn't just survive while I was gone; they thrived.
Scott has a magic gift of relaying independence and setting expectations, whether it is with our employees at the farm or our own kids. He naturally leads by example — effortlessly, and by being an amazing role model. He doesn't set any expectation of others that he doesn't put upon himself. Perhaps that is the simple reason why our crew rises and plows ahead.
I would get gentle reminders in the form of texts, illustrating that all was well at home. My heart would burst with pride.
Seamlessly, the Jersey tribe is growing up. Our freshman set his own alarm and was out every day by 5:15 a.m. to do chores before school. Immediately following school, he had a three-hour football practice, and then came home to study, shower, and eat. On weekends, he hauled wagons for 10 to 12 hours each day. This was all expected of him, and through the quiet, yet stern voice of my husband, the expectations were met.
The younger two kids had chores and helped out where they were told. Yes, dinnertime was pushed back and the house was messier, but beneath the chaos and dirt, everyone was pitching in and smiles were seen.
While being away, I realized that managing a farm and a family successfully requires the baton to be passed. Nice job on the relay efforts, Bohnert family!
Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.