Seeing clearly

I remember when my mom started wearing glasses. My dad hooted and hollered about the fact her first pair of glasses were bifocals. I didn’t understand what the big fuss was about until I repeated history.    
I can clearly see the moment I realized I needed glasses. I was taking pictures of our kids as they marched in the Platte River Day Parade. I had a really nice camera and was able to zoom in on their faces. Yet as I looked through the view finder, the image was a bit fuzzy. Apparently the automatic focus wasn’t working right, so I slipped it off and manually adjusted the picture into focus and snapped away.
When I got my pictures back from the developer, (Yes, the pictures were on film.) I discovered my problem. The first “out of focus” pictures I took were as clear as day. The ones I manually manipulated were a bit fuzzy. The automatic focus was working just fine. It appeared my eyes were not. My first pair of glasses would soon be bifocals too.
Mark and I have been stashing cheater glasses all over the farm for quite a while. There are glasses in all the tractors, trucks and skid loaders. There are at least four pair of glasses in the barn desk to find breeding dates, sire codes and DHIA cell counts. We started asking why everything was printed in such small font. Apparently the only thing that was really changing was our eye sight.
I’ve adjusted to wearing glasses all the time now, but it sure has been a strong learning curve. Wearing glasses around the house is one thing. Wearing glasses in the barn is an entirely different thing.  
Going in and out of a warm humid barn during cold winter days presents the challenge of how to keep glasses from fogging up. I would get frustrated having to wait for my glasses to clear before I could see what I was doing. Instead of waiting, I pushed the glasses up on my head and out of my way as I finished bedding cow stalls. I only needed to wear them for close-up work. In general, I could see what I was doing without them. Once I was done bedding cows and ready to move to the next job, I realized I couldn’t find my glasses. Apparently, they must have slipped off my head as I bent down to get the straw under a cow and fell in the gutter. It would take a miracle to find them. I always imagined we would find them on the head of a deer or fox out in the fields.
Since then, I have been very careful to keep track of my glasses. I wish they were as easy to find as my cell phone. I just call the number and the ring tone leads me to where I left it last. I can’t call my glasses. I wish there was some sort of tracking device for them, especially when I lose them during milking.
When I’m milking, I have to be vigilant in protecting my glasses from swinging tails. With a quick flick of a tail, my glasses have been known to fly off my face. Once they landed in the feed aisle in front of the cows. Another time, I retrieved them next to my feet. The worst time was when we stopped milking for 20 minutes just to search for my lost glasses.
Chime swung her tail and flipped my glasses right off my face before I even realized what was happening. I heard a gentle plop, but because sounds are all the same direction for me, I couldn’t tell where they landed. Mark and I took off all the milking units and started to search under three cows on each side of Chime. We searched the feed aisle. We rummaged our hands through the gutter just in case. Nothing. Another lost pair of glasses. We started milking again and moved the milking cart forward to the next set of cows.
As I walked back to retrieve a milking unit, I was walking very gently just in case I might step on the lost glasses. Good thing I was cautious. As I stepped out of the stall with the unit, there were my glasses lying in the middle of the barn alley. They had landed under the milking cart, and we managed not to step on them in our search.
 I guess the best way to keep track of my glasses is to break down and put those granny chains on my glasses that droop from my ears to behind my neck. This will probably be the only way to protect my glasses from being launched by a swinging tail.
I’m glad I can see clearly now, but I hope I can see with more than just my eyes. As Zig Ziglar said, “Always pray to have eyes that see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad and a soul that never loses faith in God.”
As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.


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