This is the second part of how I unknowingly married a dairy farmer. If you haven’t read the first part, you’re going to be a little confused. Here’s the link to the first part: http://the-dairy-maid.com/2011/09/26/how-i-unknowingly-became-a-dairy-farmers-wife-part-1/ When I’m reading a book and I’m smack-dab in the middle of it where you’re hooked, but you have no idea how it’s going to end, I like to go to the last page and read the very last sentence and see if I can glean anything from it. Is that weird?
(Ok, back to the story.)
My father-in-law passed away in early 2009. A few months later, the cabinet shop that my husband worked at just couldn’t continue to be sustainable in the hard economic times we were experiencing and had to close its doors. The farmer had some forewarning about this and had a little bit of time to figure out what to do. I was beside myself. I had just accepted a full-time job working at the corporate office for a national auto parts chain, but what I was going to make wasn’t what my husband made. The farmer had a very specific skill set. Carpentry is something he’s very good at and construction wasn’t an industry to be in at that point. Not to mention that finding a job anywhere was next to impossible.
We had a lot of conversations in which we racked our brains trying to figure out what the next move was. I remember one day I had come home from work and was sweeping the bathroom floor. (It’s funny how vivid memories are on the day you decide to make a life-altering decision.) He came and stood in the doorway, telling me about a conversation he’d had with his mom that morning. He had been telling her that he had applied several places, but wasn’t having any luck snagging an interest. She lightheartedly said, “Well, you could come back to the farm and start milking again!” like she knew that wasn’t on his list of options. I said, as I was crying (for no other reason than that I just randomly burst into tears at any given moment back then. Overwhelming stress and Breauna don’t go together too well.) “Don’t even say such a thing unless you’re seriously thinking about it.” He just shrugged and said, “Who knows? Maybe I am.”The funny thing was that this idea hadn’t struck me as an option until that very moment. I didn’t say that, of course, because I didn’t want it to be an option. There were so many problems with the idea. The farm is an hour and a half away from where we live. I don’t know how to live in the country. I don’t want to live in the country. Where would I work? I’m supposed to be VP of a bank someday! I have no idea how to be a dairy farmer. Being out in the middle of nowhere would make me go out of my ever-loving mind. I would seriously have a psychotic break. It’s 26 miles to the nearest grocery store! No Panera. No mall. No Barnes & Noble. How would I keep my car clean? It’s black and the only way to get to the farm is on a gravel road. There’s no where for us to live down there. What about my 5 year plan? We’re supposed to start trying to have a baby soon. I’m terrified of snakes. My husband and I will be separated. (New batch of tears.) No more weekends where we can just relax and do whatever we want. He may be self-employed, but dairy farming is not a job where there’s any flexibility. We’ll be slaves to cattle. I want to travel. I want some forms of spontaneity in life. I don’t know much, but I know enough to know that is something dairy farmers don’t get. Our family and friends in the city will have to let us know at least a week in advance if they even ever want to have dinner sometime! Then they’ll stop inviting us because we can’t ever come! I’ll be completely isolated from everyone!!! I am not moving down there!!! (I’m pretty sure a tranquilizer could have been administered right about now.)
That’s only a small informational tid-bit on how my mind works. You don’t want the minute details. It’s wacky in there with lots of misfires and detours and roundabouts where all I do somedays is go round and round in circles. My husband knows this, so when he dropped the bomb that he was considering dairy farming as a viable option, he knew I would need time to process, so he vanished from the doorway without my even noticing it.
After I had a very detailed list of cons, I couldn’t ignore the pros. The farm is paid for. Everything we need is there. The only start-up cost is cattle. The farm makes my husband very happy and he’s got the knowledge to be successful. If we ever did need to go anywhere or get away, maybe one of his sisters or his mom could help us out. My husband is very business-minded and could grow the farm. There’s potential there for him to make it what he wants it to be. He doesn’t have those options here in the city. Not having to work for someone else is what he’s always wanted. The financial side of things make sense because we wouldn’t be highly leveraged, so profiting is a good possibility if input costs don’t break us. The pros were there, but I couldn’t help feeling like this choice was a trade-off. My happiness for his. Or vice versa. Those of us in relationships know that’s it’s really not even a trade-off. If one part of the couple is unhappy, the other part has a really hard time being the opposite. All I could think was that my husband needed a job and he needed one quickly.
I was cleaning the toilet when I said, “Leslee… what if you did take over the dairy farm?”
He looked at me longingly and said, “Let’s not even discuss this if you aren’t serious. I don’t want to get my hopes up. I won’t do it if you don’t want me to.”
“It’s definitely not my idea of an ideal fix, but I just feel like it’s the only choice we have. Other than that, I don’t feel like we have any other options. Maybe this is the opportunity you’ve been looking for in order to finish school, too. You can go to school full-time with the daytime hours freed up. Then you can sell out, have your degree, and be with me again.” We both knew there was no way he would be coming home every night if he went back to the farm. My heart was breaking because I knew how hard this was going to be for us. Not only were we husband and wife, but we were best friends who up until this were generally inseparable.
Everything moved very quickly once the decision was made. A few weeks went by and my husband was back at his childhood home. We renovated the loft above the dairy barn into a bachelor pad for him during the week and a place that I could come stay on the weekends. The first week that he started milking, I cried. I cried a lot. At the time, he didn’t have cell phone service and he wasn’t coming home at night. I couldn’t just randomly call him and see what he was up to. I came home to an empty house and it stayed that way. Going to sleep at night was the worst. I have an overactive imagination (you might have already gathered that about me) and if he wasn’t home, I was scared to death. However, in my state of depression, I didn’t want to stay anywhere but home.
But, as people normally do, I adapted. I was working full-time and the farmer got a cell phone with a new company. I was going down to the farm on the weekends and the farmer was here two nights a week because he had classes all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Routines started and in the late summer of 2009, I found out I was pregnant. (Planned, of course. It’s a sickness.) I grew to cherish the weekends I was down at the farm and was surprised at how much I enjoyed myself. Not that I didn’t enjoy myself when the farmer’s parents were still running everything, but there was just something different about it when my husband was doing it. Maybe a sense of pride and ownership because it was his now and I was helping him. I just felt like I left pieces of me there every time I left and I looked forward to going back, even though I knew I would work like a dog the next time, too. I guess the best word would be invested. (I’m a finance major. I can’t help it.)
Long story short, I had Peanut in the spring of 2010 and decided that I couldn’t continue to work any longer. My husband was running the farm very successfully and I couldn’t stand the thought of putting her in daycare if I didn’t have to be working. I quit my job and accepted that my purpose here on Earth wasn’t what I had planned all those years. God had something else planned for me and I still can’t be sure what that is. I know it’s not being a big-wig banker. It’s probably a good thing. It would have gone straight to my head, anyway. But, I’m content to just see where He takes me. In my experience, it’s always somewhere or something better than you would have ever thought to go or want. For the first time in my life, I’m just going with the flow and following a hunky dairy farmer instead of making my own path in the world. I couldn’t be happier, to be honest. We’re building a cute lil’ house on the place and I’ve grown accustomed to walking through manure and having a perpetually dusty car. However, I still run screaming from anything that even remotely resembles a wasp and to even see a snake on the road while I’m driving sends me into fits of hysteria. Heart palpitations. Nausea. The whole shebang. The fact that I am encased in steel is irrelevant. There’s just no logic to it.
I don’t use my finance degree to its full potential, but I do take care of all the books and jokingly make comments about our “cash cows.” And our accountant loves me. He says I make his job really easy and, for now, that’s all the pat on the back I need.