What do you do when your wedding anniversary falls in the middle of harvest season? You give thanks that on at least one day you outranked all the demands of the cows and farm for him to make it to the church on time to say, “I do.”
We are not always able to celebrate on our anniversary day, but that has become a blessing. If we did something every year, nothing would be special. It would just be another routine. This way, I can remember the different ways we have celebrated over the years.
We chose to get married in September because it seemed to be a family tradition. Both our parents and Mark’s grandparents were married this month. All would eventually celebrate 57 to 63 years together. We figured the odds were in our favor, and we seem to be on the right track as we wrap up our 35th year together and start another silage harvest season.
Some of my favorite anniversary celebrations focus on a meal I didn’t have to cook. We have dressed up (red satin dress and suit) for a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant in the Twin Cities; we have plopped down on the couch with pizza and cheap wine in sweatpants after milking. One special celebration included a babysitter for the three kids, dinner at a supper club and a tornado traveling through the area. The next year, we celebrated with our four kids.
Despite the special celebrations, most of our anniversary meals have been a quick sandwich between loads of corn silage. We generally don’t even stop to eat together, but we still flirt through dusty tractor windows as we pass in the field. It makes you feel like you’re back in junior high school with the giggles as the cutest boy in the class gives you a wink.
All this anniversary tradition started the year we were married. Mark is the only one who operates the chopper around here. He wanted to have the silos filled before our wedding regardless if the corn was dry enough or not. He finished filling on Thursday. We were wed on Saturday. We were back from our honeymoon on Wednesday to top off the silos after they had settled. Apparently, the corn wasn’t dry enough. The silos ran all winter and long into the spring. That’s when I knew we would never do that again. The harvest would outrank the anniversary celebration.
Mark and the chopper pulled into the fields on Monday morning, our anniversary day. He is starting in the corn field on the north side of the driveway. There goes my green privacy fence. Now, we’ll start to hear the traffic whizzing past our place as people go about their lives and new adventures.
When he started in the fields, I started harvesting from the garden. I need to do a better job of planting dates that don’t have harvest conflicts. Corn silage time means the grapes and apples are ripe too. So, the rush is on. Luckily, we have Austin home, so I have some spare time to process apples and make grape jelly between chores.
It feels like we’re in the middle of running a marathon which started with the spring fieldwork. As with any long race, there comes a point where you hit the wall. You’ve come too far to turn back; yet, you can’t take another step forward. But, you know if you take just one more step, you’ll be closer to finishing the race. You take a deep breath hoping it will lighten your body as you move the next foot forward. You know the end of the harvest race is just around the corner if you keep moving forward.    
When we were first married, Mark promised me things would slow down during the winter months. We could take some time off to celebrate our anniversary then. The only thing I see slowing down during the winter months around here is us. Maybe this winter will be the year when we finally find a break in the farm routine to reconnect and slow down.
I was able to get a taste of what it is like to take a break. A few of my high school girlfriends and I met in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to celebrate our new decade of life. Three of them were vacation experts. They had their routine of the pool, hot tub, beach and dinner. The other gal and I haven’t vacationed much and didn’t know how to take it easy. So, we walked miles up and down the beach as the ocean tried to tickle our toes. All I could think was how much I needed to get Mark here to hear the roar of the ocean and to soak up the warmth of the sun-dried sand.
We don’t always need to escape to far off places to recharge and reconnect, but we do need to take time to break the daily routine and celebrate the wonders around us. We may not celebrate the anniversary day, but we treasure the years.

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.