June 6 2024 04:43 PM

Small gestures can go a long way in showing the people who work with you on the farm that you care and want to make their lives a little easier.

Working with your spouse all day every day certainly isn’t for everyone. For a lot of dairy farmers, though, it’s a great way to interact with your spouse throughout the day while still having your own things to work on. Balancing the roles of being co-workers and being in a relationship takes work, and doing little things here and there to brighten the other person’s day can make all the difference between a good day and a less-than-ideal day.

When you spend date nights hauling silage or covering the bunker, and afternoons picking rock together or sorting cattle, you have to find your own little ways to tell the other person you love them. Some may think flowers or chocolates are the way to a woman’s heart, and while I certainly love those things, I very much appreciate when my husband does little chore-related gestures for me.

The other day, I was starting our morning cattle feeding chores and was reminded of the importance of little gestures from both of us. As I did a lap around the farm to push up feed, I planned to park the skid loader by the feed bunkers and walk back to the shed to pull the tractor and mixer around to start mixing the first feed ration of the day. As I rounded the corner, I saw the tractor was already parked by the bunker. The PTO was running, and the scale was turned on and spun to the side so I could just start mixing feed! This simple action only took my husband a few minutes to do, but the fact that he thought of me and what would make things the slightest bit easier made me smile.

At that moment, my mind began to swirl with countless little courtesies like these we do for each other on a daily basis. For those of you who farm with your significant other, don’t forget to reciprocate when your loved one does a little act of kindness. This concept of little gestures could extend to anyone, including employees or other family members.

On the farm, a small gesture is often easy to do if you just look for opportunities throughout your day. Here are a few of my favorite things that my husband notoriously does for me while we work together to accomplish farm chores. He moves our heifers to the breezeway so I can scrape manure, or he watches the gate so I can sneak in and out of cattle pens with the skid loader. If we’re treating or feeding a finicky sick calf, he helps hold it still and upright. When we are working after the sun goes down, he flips the barn lights on. When machinery is low on fuel, oil, or other fluids, he usually beats me to filling it up. When we’re mindlessly hauling load after load of silage, he jumps out to hook or unhook the chopper box hydraulic hoses from my tractor.

My husband is especially good at reminding me to wear sunscreen, not forget my sunglasses, or bring along leather gloves when we’re unloading hay or mending fence. He also always grabs my water bottle when I leave it in the hundredth random place of the day or just hands me his to make sure I slow down and hydrate.

None of the aforementioned items are particularly tantalizing, but the shear fact that someone took extra time or effort to think of you never gets old. If you’re in a position to do so, I dare you to complete your own little acts of service for your loved ones — it’s rather infectious and can make everyone’s day a little brighter.

Molly Ihde (Schmitt)

The author dairy farms with her parents and brother near Hawkeye, Iowa. The family milks approximately 300 head of grade Holstein cows at Windsor Valley Dairy LLC — split half and half between a double-eight parallel milking parlor and four robotic milking units. In the spring of 2020, Molly decided to take a leap and fully embrace her love for the industry by returning full time to her family’s dairy.