Facebook flashback

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I use my phone for so many things that if I lose it for a moment, I panic. 

I have prioritized this piece of technology to be my lifeline. It allows me to connect to people I know and work with by using their phone numbers and email addresses. I also use my phone to capture memories or to communicate with others while I try to fix problems by sharing information via photos of a part, list or even a cow that is stuck in a stall. The apps that I use daily are on the front screen, allowing me to easily and quickly have access them.  

I use a camera app that shows locations throughout the farm in live time. My first camera shows the cows in the pre-fresh pen that are transitioning into the dairy barn to await calving. Once in a while, we don’t recognize that a cow is ready to calve, and she has not moved to the bedding pack. With this app, I can see if a calf was born overnight. Preferably, we are able to move the cow to the bedding pack where I can look for any newborns that have arrived and are waiting in the fluffy straw bedding.

The Horizon app that connects to the robot computers in the barn is my go-to in the morning after I wake up. I check the health of the cows while I am in bed. The app gives me a list of cows that need my attention so that I can set the morning schedule in my mind. I then can get quickly or slowly out of bed, depending on what the camera showed.

After checking in on those apps, I have an idea what the morning is going to start with. When I sit down to eat cereal or toast, I check my email and then Facebook to see if I have any messages.

Recently, Facebook has sent me photos from the past. There was one of my daughter, Anna, in the pumpkin patch, holding many pie pumpkins with a big smile on her face, surrounded by a field of orange behind her — a beautiful setting with a great photo of her. I reposted it and shared it with her too. Later on, the makers of Facebook sent me a post encouraging me to post a recent photo of Anna to compare the past with the present. I don’t usually do much more than share and repost. This photo drew many comments, and it felt like a good memory to share. 

Another photo on someone else’s Facebook post that tagged our farm’s Facebook site was of two small children bottle feeding a calf. Again, I thought this was a great memory, so I reposted it and shared it to the family. These two children are now grown and are already graduated from high school. Since the children came to annual events at our farm, I was able to watch these children grow with each visit, and I laughed when I saw the memory. I can remember it like it was yesterday.

There was also a photo of me from the past that popped up on Facebook. I was in the tiestall barn, surrounded by children and cows. It clearly shows that we were all milking a cow during a fall school tour. In the photo, I am standing behind a child, assisting to make sure the child feels safe and is able to help get a good squirt from the cow’s teat. The other children are watching and waiting for their turn. I am wearing a bandanna, covering the front part of my head. 

The memory the photo evoked made my heart sink. This was when I was being treated for a brain tumor and breast cancer 10 years ago. Seeing the bandanna reminded me of that time, bringing forth emotions that I didn’t show back then.

I didn’t want to take any photos of myself during that time. I was taking each day as it came. Having the tours, along with milking cows, motivated me to keep a positive attitude and not look back. The cows and kids helped get me moving and not moping. Since then, I have talked with many other friends and family who have gone through similar times with the struggles that cancer brings. Encouraging and supporting each other makes a big difference when it is hard to even look at yourself in the mirror.

I thought a while about reposting the photo. It captures a time in my life that I wish had not happened, but it did. So, I reposted it, and the flashback hit others like it did me. Wow, 10 years already — I lived and beat cancer. Wonderful friends and family cheered me up in the comments, reminding me that, when you have cancer, you don’t need to fight it alone. I didn’t save the photo for myself, but I will be prepared down the road to know that Facebook has a memory that I will look forward to see in the future.

Tina Hinchley, her husband Duane and daughter Anna milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots.  They also farm 2,300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin. The Hinchleys have been hosting farm tours for over 25 years.

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