April 11 2023 09:14 AM

One thing on a farm always leads to another.

Our youngest loves books. A large part of my day includes a never-ending stack of books appearing on my lap. I love it; I’ve always been an avid reader and enjoy the places your imagination can take you through the pages of a story.

The toddler’s current favorites are the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books by Laura Numeroff. We’ve been lovingly rereading them multiple times a day. If you aren’t familiar with them, the premise is that a mouse who’s given a cookie then needs a glass of milk to go with it. The rest of the day is a whirlwind of what follows, with each item needing something else. There are subsequent books where a moose is given a muffin, a pig a party, a cat a cupcake . . . you get the idea.

Every time I read one of these books, it has a sense of eerie familiarity. It feels exactly like dairy farming and how easily one thing leads to another on any given day, though we are often mixing things up in ways that don’t seem nearly as cute and fun as the books. It feels like an inevitable play against fate to think things can go as planned.

If you give a farmer an early appointment in town, it’s a guarantee a cow will need assistance with a difficult calving. Finally, in town late, a call will come in that something has broken and, of course, the part is in the other town the opposite direction. Once even further from home, the neighbors are certain to find that the heifers have gotten out. It all just feels like a typical progression from what was actually planned for the day.

There is also the positive side though, too, that’s filled with all the little blessings. If you give a farmer a dairy, he’s going to need a family to go with it. Raising his children on the farm will give them the best opportunities to thrive and learn. And those opportunities will open so many doors in life, even if they don’t come back to the farm.

I’m so glad the mouse needed milk with his cookie. And while I wouldn’t mind if our daily activities didn’t quite resemble the likes of a children’s book, I still love the way this lifestyle comes full circle.

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 young sons 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.