It’s fitting that it’s pouring rain as I finally sit down to write this, after 6 weeks without any significant rainfall. The rain is violent; so very welcome yet coming hard and strong enough to cause damage. It was a cold, soaking rain last fall on the day we laid my father to rest.
I had a grand plan of monthly installments in 2023 sharing the history of our 20 year farming adventure, and the story of my family’s farm that laid the foundation before that. Here we are in June, and only one installment has been completed. We are in a season of life that is hard work, and lots of it, right now, and as much as I should spend more time communicating - jobs like building fence, making cheese, making hay, raising kids, always seem to fill my days to the brim.
I had decided back in January that the next installment would tell the story of my parents and the debt of gratitude that I owe them, and to be honest I knew it would not be easy to put down on paper and that has not helped my procrastination. I’m sorry that my dad is not here for me to say thank you and tell him how much I’ve appreciated the life I was granted, but I want to take the opportunity to give my mom this recognition while I can.
My dad passed away unexpectedly last fall at 68. He was largely healthy his entire life, so it came as a shock. For me it’s been a reminder to cherish everyday – yet note the above season of work that we’re in – which has led to a lot of personal conflict this year as we struggle to get to a place where work is balanced with actual living – heck, anytime for living would be an improvement right now. So many factors impact this situation – a topic for another day.
My dad spent his whole life farming. From him I get my work ethic, my eyes for opportunities and new enterprises. My family’s farm has survived in an increasingly urban area because it was diversified – milk, beef, pork, feeder pigs, hay, straw, shavings, hauling, seed sales, baling twine, fence posts, used equipment dealing and more – all of these have contributed over the years. He graduated from SUNY Cobleskill in 1974, driving a cattle truck to and from school weekly, hauling sawdust or animals on his trips back and forth. Years later, I spent many hours riding along on hay deliveries (labor in exchange for ice cream). I learned to take in all the scenery while driving, keeping it between the lines while observing everything around you, and always able to find my way by landmarks.
It’s not fair to give my father all the credit by any means – my mother is the one who has kept it all organized. Dealing with the peculiar customers and the bookkeeping. The one who hauled us and supported us as kids at all of our school, church and 4H activities, and led and organized all of those events. Who taught us to cook, can, bake, sew, craft, garden and so much more. Who packed for and stayed with us at the fairs and scrubbed our white show clothes clean. Who runs for parts or seed deliveries or has delivered calves and piglets in the trunk of the car. And now cherishes the role of grandma and is here whenever we need her, to share all of this knowledge with the next generation. She is and has been just as much the heart of the family farm as my father.
My parents have lead by example and taught us to work hard, to do your best and what’s right, to earn respect through a job well done. Both have been leaders in their community. I can only hope to someday earn the same level of love, respect and appreciation that I hold for them.
I'm half of the Crosswinds farmer duo bringing you farm fresh cheeses, beef, and pork from the heart of the Finger Lakes! Stay tuned for our daily adventures growing a family & a farm, and food for your table. We welcome your questions & comments, but please keep them respectful! For the latest updates, please follow Crosswinds Farm & Creamery on Facebook or Instagram!