When I was growing up my chores were pretty basic and I am sure I wasn't very thankful for them. I made my bed each morning and as an oldest child I often helped younger siblings get ready for school. I grew up a city girl, so I did not have the experience of farm chores until I married my husband, Steve. What I learned as a new farm wife was that making my bed would be the easiest chore of the day and could be skipped with no harm done. On the other hand, farm chores need to be done every day including Sunday and holidays.
|A photo of my family in 1967! Left to right are: My dad, Linda, David, |
Me, Aunt Kathy (my mom's only sister), Sharon sitting on my mom
who is pregnant with my youngest sister, Sandy, and Dave.
Maintaining a grateful attitude for those chores can challenge the most dedicated among us.
As I was adjusting to my new role as a farm wife we also started a family so I was learning to be a mom as well. I was a typical new mom with anxiety about being a good mom and knowing what to do to care for a new baby. Five children later I am grateful for each and every morning I awoke to those little voices that matured into adulthood. Just as I learned that each child had a unique personality I have also learned that each farm has unique qualities.
|I am holding our oldest daughter, Ginger. My mom is|
holding our second child, Scott. Photo taken in 1986.
As our children grew my role working outside with the cattle increased. This placed more responsibility on the older children to help their siblings. One of the goals I had very early was to start the morning with a soft voice--no yelling or shouting to get kids moving. I added instrumental music along the way to put me in a more relaxed and grateful mode. While I sometimes felt guilty working outside when the kids were in the house I also observed how much they learned to care for one another.
|Ginger is holding new sister, Emily while Scott looks on |
wondering what this little one means in his world!
|Jeff is holding our youngest, Kim, as she takes a nap.|
Perhaps the craziest morning of the week was Sunday morning. If anything can go wrong on the farm it will often happen on a Sunday or holiday morning. We needed to have cattle fed, checked and treated if needed in time to make it to Mass by 10:00 a.m. Our older children often helped the younger ones get dressed so I could quickly change from feedlot clothes to church clothes. It has been important to us to show our children the importance of worship by dressing in a manner that shows respect.
|I am walking through the cattle to look for any signs of one |
needing extra care. Feedlot cowboys walk or ride pens each
and every day no matter the weather to take care of cattle.
Our most vivid memory of getting ready for church was on Easter morning in 1991. The state was working on the highway that runs right along our farm/home. We went from a surfaced road to dirt and in the spring that became mud after rain. That Easter weekend we had quite a bit of rain. Our mini van was parked a half-mile away on the nearest corner with a gravel road. After chores we all climbed into a tractor with our Easter clothes on, there were 6 of us at that time, and rode the tractor to the corner to get to the mini van.
|Getting our kids to pose with their two cousins |
was a challenge for this Easter photo.
Another more recent memory involved getting to Mass for Christmas. We had a blizzard the Christmas of 2009 that put much of northeast Nebraska in a lock down. On Christmas morning the highway to town had snow drifting faster than the snow plow could keep it open. We utilized our snow blower that fits on the tractor to open a path to Dodge. The biggest drift we met happened to be at the entrance to Dodge! We were only one of two families that made it to mass that morning and enjoyed the chance to thank God for one another and the technology that allowed us to get to church.
|This is a bunk blower. We use this to clean snow out of the|
feed bunks so that we can put the feed in a clean bunk.
Our children have grown and started careers and families of their own. Now it is just Steve and I to get ready for church after chores. As I scramble to wash up, fix my hair and get ready to go I often think back at those precious moments of having little ones running around, getting their breakfast, doing their hair, ironing their clothes, etc… I continue to learn to be grateful for those memories and for the beautiful life I have as a cattle feeder and farmer.
|This is our town of Dodge. You can see the Coop, many homes, the St. Wenceslaus Church steeple and the Dodge|
water tower. We are thankful for the many families that live in and around the Dodge community.
The children have grown and become amazing adults--some with grandchildren for me to spoil. As the world faces new fears I am so very thankful for the freedom to practice my faith without fear. I hope that you have many reasons to be grateful for the blessings you have been given! If you need a Thanksgiving activity to share your reasons to be grateful try this. Here is my try at a gratitude haiku:
Children Church and Chores
Thanking God for all these things
Gratitude runs deep
Thanking God for all these things
Gratitude runs deep