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Raising animals is not for the faint of heart, unfortunately there can be days like today that have us on bended knee and asking why.

I got a phone call on my way home from work that one of our cows had lost a set of twins. We had been taking bets on how many calves we thought she had inside of her because of her growing belly.

She had given us a set of twins a couple of years ago and we knew there was probably more than one calf inside of her based on her growing middle. Unfortunately, she wasn’t actually due until the end of May so these babies were born way too early, leaving us wondering why and what could have gone wrong.

So on a day like today I found myself on bended knee as I took the lifeless little bodies to the creek pasture to return them to the earth. I thanked the good Lord for giving us the opportunity to do our part, I asked for peace for their momma, and I asked for peace in our hearts as we struggle and wondered what we could have done differently.

Loss sucks, loss of life hurts us as producers, because there’s nothing better for us than seeing a live calf on the ground drinking from its mother and continuing the cycle of life. We work hard to take care of these animals in the cold, snow,  mud, and on the sunny days, too.

Second, it’s hard for the mama to understand. She is out of sorts and unsure of what is going on. As I watched her tonight, she just wasn’t her usual self.  She did get up and eat though which is a good sign that she is healthy.

Third, there is loss of income, in this case we lost two calves that would have grown to provide us with a paycheck and provide food for other families.

So tonight as I type this I keep reminding myself that this is nowhere near the tragedy that our friends to the west have been facing, but it is is a reminder that not all days on the farm are full of sunshine and roses.  

From the gravel road-

Jen

6

I know you’ve probably heard the old expression “if these walls could talk.” I was driving the other day and happened to notice my husband’s old hat sitting on the dash beside a new hat that my daughter won at the Floyd County Cattlemen‘s supper the other night. I had to snap a picture of them.

 I couldn’t help but notice the wear and tear on the old hat and then the fresh new hat with no dirt, no manure, no sweat stains on the new hat. It made me start thinking about all of the things that old hat had probably seen/heard in the last five years of its life. I’m sure my husband's hat would tell stories of being outside doing chores, working on equipment, watching our daughter at sporting events, and possibly even a date with me. 

We often wear hats that tell something about who we are or what we love. You might see a parent wearing a hat that sports their child’s team, a busy mom wearing a hat that says “mom hair, don’t care”, an employee wearing the brand of their company on their hat, or a farmer wearing their favorite seed hat.

My dad has always worn a hat. For many years you would only find him in a white Crow’s hat, in fact he wore it so much my little cousin thought he was a chicken farmer because of the bird on the hat. Some of my favorite memories are of him coming in the house after a long day of work, throwing his hat up the stairs and asking my mom or I to wash it for him. Even though he doesn’t wear that same white Crow’s hat (he switched over a few years ago when my brother started a trucking business and now proudly sports the trucking hat) I hear him do the same to my own daughters now and it makes my heart happy. Once it is washed it sits on an old olive green Tupperware canister to dry and get the shape back.

I can’t imagine all of the things his hats have seen, they would tell many stories. I have a vivid memory of him sitting in the front of an ambulance the night that my grandfather was in a car accident, he had his white Crow’s hat on, but it was tipped at a different angle than he typically wore it. I can see him smirking watching my nieces and nephews and my own children show their animals at the fair with his hat on. I can imagine his daily trips to the Farmer’s Co-op, bank and to grab a cup of coffee have included those hats. His hats have seen the lows of volatile markets, hail wiped fields, fences needing to be mended from Flood Creek, and the highs of a healthy calf pulled from a mama cow having trouble, higher market prices, a game winning shot by a grandchild, a blue ribbon won and years when everything went right.

When my grandpa passed away in the car accident I mentioned above his hat fell off while they were putting him in the ambulance.  I remember watching my brother run to the middle of the blacktop to grab Grandpa’s hat and he held on to it for the rest of the night. Once we returned home from the hospital my dad asked my brother for the hat.  I think back to that moment watching him hand that hat to my dad and what it really meant. The things that hat witnessed and the stories it could tell from the days before while grandpa dealt with the grief of losing my grandma and the many loads he hauled while trucking and the laughs and tricks that probably occurred while he was wearing that hat bring back a flood of memories. I am blessed to have one of each of my grandpa’s hats in my possession and they offer me great memories of their fun loving spirits.

My niece often wears this hat. I’m sure if her hat could talk it would tell stories that would include her roping with her friends on the ranch, trail riding with her family, camping out while working for the Vee Bar and stories of many nights of laughing with her friends.

While I know many of the people reading this might have a stack of hats that they’ve been bugging their spouse or roommate to look through or get rid of, just remember to take the time to really think about all of the places those old hats have been, the stories they have heard, the memories that they provoke and the highs and lows they’ve experienced through their life. They might just hold a real special meaning to your special someone.

I would love to hear about that hats in your home and see some pictures of the wear and tear and stories that go along with them. 🙂 Share away!

From the gravel road-

Jen

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