Quality time spent together is precious to this farm family

Mandie Tilderquist

You would think the wife of a dairy farmer who lives on a dairy farm would have a million and one ideas about what to write for Dairy Month. The truth is, I had absolutely zero. I could not brainstorm for the life of me. The thoughts were just stuck...until my son’s music concert tonight at school.

While farmers may fall short on the quantity of time they spend with their family, they make up for it in quality.

The song his class sang was entitled, “If I Were a Farmer.” Let me tell you, this is not
hard at all for my farm boy to imagine. My 10 year old was working with his daddy on the grain truck and came home to wash up 15 minutes before we had to leave. My husband quickly slipped in the back just in time to watch the show.

As we were exiting the auditorium, he received a few comments about actually taking a little time off to come watch his son, as if he chooses to miss the other events. My patient farmer just replied, “Yup,” as I probably had noticeable steam coming out of my ears.

One doesn’t need to live on a farm to know the hard work and dedication of a dairy farmer. My husband went home to the parlor to do the evening milking when we got back and got home at midnight, but he was there for our son.

I do a lot of things by myself. I used to throw weekly pity parties and became quite the party planner. I did bath time with four children under the age of four while he worked. I did bedtime with four children under the age of four while he worked. I got up with them in the middle of the night and took care of them when they were sick while he was sleeping.

Life was so unfair for this poor mama! The only proof I had of a husband, for those who didn’t already know him, was a beautiful wedding ring and four rambunctious babies.

One of my mentors, a veteran farm wife and mom herself, told me a sweet truth that smacked me right between the eyes. All this time that I’ve gotten angry or frustrated for flying solo, my husband has been working to provide for our family.

How can I be annoyed with that? I realized that I just can’t. He never goes out of
town for business trips and is beside me every night, if he doesn’t pass out from exhaustion on the couch first.

Every day is a “bring your kid to work day.” I can go see him and talk to him pretty much whenever I want. We can work as a family and my children can learn the value of
hard work and the invigorating feeling of a job well done. And that right there, that’s a huge blessing that not everyone has.

Dairy farmers don’t choose to miss baseball games and dance recitals. They don’t choose to come home when everyone is sleeping and eat a reheated supper at midnight by themselves. Sometimes they have to work 365 days a year because they’re solely responsible for the farm and don’t have employees.

Vacations aren’t a frequent occurrence and can be short lived when they actually do happen. It isn’t fun for them to have to cancel a fishing trip at the last minute
because a cow needs to be nursed back to health or a tractor broke down. They don’t relish in the disappointment on little faces.

Here’s the thing though that most of society fails to realize. Being a dairy farmer isn’t a job, it’s part of who you are and it’s your life. You can’t just punch out. A sick day is a luxury that they cannot afford. There have been times that my husband has gone to work and vomited in between chores. He has milked while burning up with fever. Even
after all that, he still gets up, shows up, and gives it his all.

Blood, sweat, and tears take on a whole new meaning when your job requires hours of physical labor, quick thinking, constant awareness, and wearing many hats simultaneously. Farmers are scientists, chemists, meteorologists, veterinarians, welders, mechanics, and the list goes on. My husband absolutely blows me away with his vast knowledge of pretty much everything.

If I have a problem, he can usually come up with a solution. I might not always like what he comes up with, but usually, much to my dismay, he’s right. Darn it.

Mandie Tilderquist never imagined marrying a farmer, but she's sure glad she did!

Dairy farmers are great dads too. The quantity may not be a whole lot, but you can bet the quality is. Our boys want to be him and my daughter wants to marry a man just like her daddy. I absolutely adore and treasure all the pictures I have of father and sons working side by side.

Someday, when our babies are grown, they’ll have wonderful memories of their beloved dad. They may remember the events he was unable to attend due to the demands of the farm, but I’m guessing that will only take up a small space in their hearts.

The times he patiently showed them how to fix tractors, drove their show calves to the fair, his silly antics as they were doing chores, and the lame dad jokes will be moments that are much more cherished.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have even imagined marrying a dairy farmer. If I hadn’t though, I would have missed out on so much. My husband is truly my hero. Maybe that’s not something you're supposed to say in 2018, but it’s true. His compassion, positivity, work ethic, and relentless spirit, all make me a better person.

As a newlywed with absolutely no farming background, I questioned my decisions. Now I know, without a doubt, that God made this farmer and made him just for me. I’m so incredibly thankful He did.