I flipped over my calendar the other day to take a sneak peak of what to expect for upcoming February birthdays and events. There it was, Feb. 2, 2022, Groundhog Day. Now, I’m not one who really follows the predictions of an overgrown rodent and his weather-forecasting abilities, but after these cold snaps, I’m looking forward to some good news.
For the past 120 years in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the end of winter. On a clear day, when he can see his shadow, he retreats back into his burrow for another six weeks of winter weather. But on a cloudy day, with no shadow, spring will make an early arrival. How accurate is Phil? If you flipped a coin, you would be more accurate than the groundhog. Since 1969, Phil has correctly predicted a longer winter 39% of the time when he saw his shadow. He has a much better success rate on cloudy days with a 47% accuracy rate for an early spring. 
I caught the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray last winter. I give it two thumbs up and hope to watch it again. It is a funny movie with a subtle message of how changing our daily routine can make a world of difference in our lives and those around us. The premise of the movie is that Murray’s character repeats the same day over and over and over again. The day happens to be Groundhog Day. He is stuck in a rut of how he moves through a day and the way he views people and events surrounding him, which is not always in the nicest way. Eventually, he starts to make simple changes and is amazed at the impact it has on the day and himself.
The movie illustrates the phrase, “If you keep doing the same thing over and over, how can you expect a different outcome?” Once we make a change, as simple as a smile, only then can we expect a different outcome. Another way to look at it is walking the same path day after day, year after year. Eventually we have walked over the same spot so many times that we didn’t realize we created a rut 6-feet-deep and can’t see another way. We need to shift our thinking, change our perspective and take a new step on a different path.
We started a new path on our farm. Mark has always admired the ability of other families to have weekly family meetings around the kitchen table to discuss jobs for the coming week and plans for the long-term future. Mark, Austin and I agreed that talking in the barn probably wasn’t the best atmosphere. We were all present, but it is difficult to truly focus on what someone is saying while trying to put on the milkers. So, we decided to take a step on a new path. We initiated 10 a.m.? Tuesdays. We picked Tuesdays because everything seems to go wrong on Mondays, or you’re trying to fix everything that broke over the weekend. It has become a priority in our scheduling of events and projects. We’ve only missed one meeting because I was traveling with Katie over the holidays. I found myself in Nashville that Tuesday morning longing to be around the breakfast table with Austin and Mark to talk about the latest jobs or projects. I am already starting to see positive changes in how we interact with each other by taking this new step. 
Will spring come early, or will we continue to endure winter weather? One thing is for sure; spring will get here right on time regardless of what a groundhog sees or doesn’t see. Maybe we should flip a coin and start planning from there.
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.