Every morning, I am awakened by the alarm clock on my phone. I am in disbelief that my usual great night’s sleep seems short and ended so abruptly. I am fortunate to take energizing 10-minute power naps after dinner, but those early morning snooze minutes seem to do more harm than good.
    The majority of our mornings begin with a conversation with God. Our family, what we are grateful for, and we remind God of our needs to get through the day just in case He has forgotten. Leaving my cozy bed is followed by a quick stop in our living room. Doing some form of simple physical exercise has always given my level of self-confidence a real boost. The first 15 years of marriage, it was sit ups and back stretches almost daily to keep me more limber. The last 15 years it has been pushups. Six years ago, Mary joined the National Guards. Five pushups for each of my children and 10 for Patty as she was fighting cancer. Doing something for a purpose or someone else makes it easier and more rewarding.
    Leaving our house and walking east towards the dairy barn is around 300 steps. I counted them the first morning after we moved to the farm site nearly 20 years ago. I remember having to drive nearly 3 miles to get to the farm our first 10 years. I was so happy being closer. The journey to the parlor always begins with the prayer, “My morning offering.” Seeing the sun waking up makes me curious about what joys and sufferings God has in store for me this day. I believe He will never give me more than I can handle and that I am never alone.
    Some days the beauty of a sunrise and the penetrating power of its warmth are overwhelming. The colorful sunrays, reaching seemingly endless across the sky remind me of how faithfully God is reaching out to each one of us. Empowered by that experience, my first stop is always to the calving pen. Could this be the day that a favorite cow has that long awaited heifer calf? Or, will the calving cow need my assistance to get the position back to normal? Or, will a vet need to be called and arrive before I have milking completed? Fortunately, that call seldom has to be made, but when it is, the results are usually good.
    I am also a believer that all things happen for a reason. No one feels worse than I do about giving up when I have exhausted all my efforts. I feel like I have let the farm down and created another unnecessary bill that will be hard to pay with the low milk prices. Many years ago, a vet reminded me that it was their job to benefit the cow, her calf and the myself from more-than-necessary harm and pain. That wisdom has stuck with me, and every time a vet has come I try to learn something that will benefit me down the road. I cannot recall when, after the vet was finished and leaving, that I did not learn something new.
    We had a number of good years in a row. I guess we were finally due. That seems to be the popular opinion whenever our area neighbors have gotten together. As if four years of humbling milk prices were not bad enough, we get a year like this. In June, we totaled more than 18 inches of rain. I have never witnessed such sad looking alfalfa fields. The scars left in the field were not from windrows setting too long, but tracks left by chopping equipment resulted in almost instant death. And some fields never did get cut until July 4. Corn has not fared better. Typically, yellowing has been caused by planting too early with temperatures being too cold. A problem that corrects itself and is quickly forgotten when Independence Day arrives. This year is the exception. It appears the color yellow will be persistent from beginning to the end. The result is shorter corn with weaker stalks and yields that likely will be disappointing. Soybeans are the bright spot so far. They appear to be taller than normal and filled with a generous number of pods. Unlike a normal year, many fields were not sprayed timely due to the weather, and so weeds have taken advantage of this year’s situation. I have also witnessed spots where beans are dying prematurely, so they are a long ways from being in the bin.
    It is easy to get caught up in the “I feel sorry for myself,” or the “poor me” attitudes. To counter, one always has a feeling about helping out someone else. It truly is always much better to give than to receive. Patty and I have used that tactic more than a few times this summer. We have helped Joe with his house remodeling, and helped Laura plant and mulch a new grove. Mary needed help making fences for her horses and beef cows. Becca needs a backrub and someone to listen to her as she puts so many long, hard hours into becoming a nurse. Johnny needs plenty of food to eat and an occasional stop at DQ for a majestic Blizzard. My brother, Greg, had a milk marketer visit with us on contracting milk. Turns out milk should be at least $2 higher in the next two months.
    We all have loads and crosses to bear. It takes a big person to admit a weakness and ask for help. We are not alone, and we can accomplish more together. Have hearts of gratitude and always take God with you. “As for me and my house, we will put our trust in the Lord.” I have no other choice. We have another grandchild due in November.
    John Rosenhammer farms with his daughter Laura Scholtz and brother, Greg, on Roseview Dairy near Sleepy Eye, Minn. They milk 200 Holsteins and run 580 acres of cropland.