January 5, 2023
’Tis the season! If it’s not frozen, it’s mud season. One of the longest seasons of the year. Even when subsoils are dry, we can have troublesome mud on the surface that sucks the energy we’ve provided in our feeding programs right out of our cows and our hearts too.
It can be discouraging, exhausting and exasperating trying to prevent mud accumulation and dealing with it in the moment. When your boots are slurping through the mud with each step, it can seem like the season will never end. But with a conducive environment and time, eventually it does.
Staying motivated and hopeful through winter on the farm is a challenge for many. Questions such as “What am I doing this for?” and “Why didn’t I chose a different career than this?” will run through your mind.
You may wonder if it’s you who’s working for the cows rather than the cows working for you. When the heating bill comes, you’ll probably be praying that feeder and fat prices go up and diesel goes down in 2023. Somehow, you’ll make it work.
You’ll haul hay and supplemental feed to those cows. You’ll get stuck and unstuck over and over. You’ll sweat under your coveralls while mucus freezes in your nose. You’ll break water and fix the fence when a tree falls on it from an ice storm. You’ll curse leaving your cozy bed on cold mornings. But you will do it because it needs to be done. Cold or warm, muddy or dry, those cows and your family need you every day, so you’ll be there.
More than just actual mud
All the facets of farm and home life will tangle together to compete for your time and your money. You’ll have other muddy situations to deal with. Not literal mud this time, but right and wrong mixed together leaving you to figure out what is the best thing to do.
Even when we are solid at the core, grounded in our convictions and guided by morality, we can have troublesome conflicts on the surface that suck the energy we’ve stored in our bodies right out of our minds and our hearts too.
Is this sounding like deja vu?
It can be discouraging, exhausting and exasperating trying to prevent problems on the farm and dealing with challenges when they come along. When the tractor breaks, your kids catch colds and you lose an early-born calf on the same day, it may seem like the struggle will never end. But with a conducive environment and time, eventually it does.
When you need to find clarity in those muddy situations, focus on providing a conducive environment and giving yourself time. Blaise Pascal is quoted saying, “Clarity of mind means clarity of passion too.”
When you provide yourself with an environment where you can find peace and take time to rest, often the answers to those difficult questions and decisions reveal themselves. Then, you can use your passion to steer you in the right direction.
With the beginning of 2023, I encourage you to make a distinct effort to create time and space where you can seek clarity about the past and prepare for important decisions in the future. I also encourage you to celebrate your successes and share them with others.
Focus on what went right, so that you can find encouragement when things go wrong. Express gratitude to the influential people around you. Help create a conducive environment for others to thrive along with yourself. Take time to refill your mind and spirit and draw on that energy in the new year. Seek clarity when things get muddy.
One of the spaces where you can come for clarity is your local Extension office. When you need someone to bounce ideas back and forth, we are here. When you need more resources to make the best choices, we are here. When you need someone to tell you that you’re not alone, we are here.
Find information about your local Extension personnel from Ohio State University at extension.osu.edu.
Gelley is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension educator for Noble County. She is a member of the OSU Extension Sheep, Beef, and Agronomic Crops teams. She can be reached at 740-305-3173 or [email protected].
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