Seven years ago, Mel (my husband) and I felt the gravitational pull to come back to the farm. We were pregnant with our first baby and could not think of a better lifestyle for our small family.  Shortly after moving back to the family farm, we went to a social with some dear friends – friends who are supported solely by agriculture and have been fighting the ag battle much longer than we had.  I was having a conversation with the wife in the family and telling her a little of our hopes and dreams for the farm and for us. I don’t remember what she said, but what I felt was discouraging caution even a hint of maybe you should find something else to do with your life. I stopped her and I said, “Please don’t discourage us, this is what we want."

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation and my response to it. We are 7 years into this now and maybe we understand a little of what she was trying to say. It is hard. We were naïve and idealistic and wore rose-colored glasses. We don’t claim to understand it all, we don’t carry all the stresses and we don’t carry all the bills. Changes on the farm are often slow and take many years. Mel and I frequently joke about if we only had time and money.

Mel wears many hats – the farmer, rancher, cow trucker, welder, mechanic, hand line and wheel line mover, backhoe guy, grave digger and the list goes on and on. Did we know that our resume would be quite so extensive? No. We didn’t realize how much extra we would end up doing. 

We didn’t know how bad those days would be when everything went to hell in a handbasket. We didn’t know that the flood would come and ruin the hay or that the baler would break on the first day of baling. We didn’t want to bury the 15th calf during the winter of 2022-23. But even though there are days, weeks, months, seasons, and sometimes even years that will feel like it will break you – it doesn’t and it hasn’t.

Back to my friends’ censure – why do we keep fighting the battle? Let me tell you:

It’s for the moment when your baler breaks and you drive three hours away to the junkyard. You arrive 10 minutes before they close and walk up to a junky baler to find a basically brand-new part, the part that you had to have. You strip it off the old machine and leave the junkyard before they are technically closed. Knowing that God’s hand was involved.

It’s for the moment when you realize you’ve calved out half your herd and you haven’t had to pull or doctor a calf and you celebrate.

It’s for the moment when your six-year-old daughter shows up in your bedroom with her work jeans, her long-sleeved shirt and muck boots to tell you she looks like a cowgirl.

It’s for the moment when your husband tells your son that he’s going trucking and asks him if he wants to come. Our son’s response was to hurry and get dressed and literally beat his dad to the truck.

It’s for the moment when you pull out the swather and start cutting the first crop. The smell of cut alfalfa and the sight of a beautiful windrow fills your heart.

It’s for the moment when your husband walks in proud as punch because the project that feels like it has taken months to do, is FINALLY done.

It’s for the moment when you’re asked “Why do you help your husband on the farm with the cows and other projects?” And you realize it’s because you love it. You love the farm, the cows, the lifestyle and you’re here for it. 

It’s for the moment when the gamble, the risk, pays off. Especially when everyone tells you that that is not the way it is done.

It’s for the moment when your dad keeps the old ranch horse saddled so your kids can ride him. Then he encourages that slow old ranch pony to trot and your kids giggle and laugh and find joy in the moment.

It’s for the moment when you show up at a YF&R Tour of Utah completely unsure and anxious, but you end up finding your people. The people who are also fighting the ag battle. The ones that get it. The ones that understand.

It’s for the moment when you show up to help someone, whether it is your father who just had a massive heart attack and needs his herd moved to a new pasture or your neighbor down the street who got stuck in a snow drift.

It is these moments and countless others that keep us going. These moments give us a reason to fight the battle. In our agricultural realm, we often focus on the not-so-good and the hard because our bottom line depends on it. But, maybe just maybe, we focus on our moments. And so, I ask, “Please don’t discourage us. This is what we want.”