Dark storm clouds have been rumbling across Minnesota these past couple of weeks leaving sorrow and joy in their wake. The sorrow is obvious with leveled sheds, flattened fields and uprooted trees changing the landscape of some people’s lives forever. The joy may not be as noticeable, but it can be found under the dark clouds.
    Now I would never have put this image together without my neighbor on the hill. He stopped by one morning to pick up some samples on his way to town. He asked how much rain we got the night before around milking time. I told him we saw dark clouds to the north but did not get anything. Two miles up the road at his place, under those dark ominous clouds, he received about half an inch when we were all looking for relief from the hot muggy day. He chuckled, “I guess it’s a good thing to live under a dark cloud once in a while.” How true. How do you expect to get rain without clouds? How do you expect to find joy without struggle?
    Weather systems have been colliding overhead every couple of days. As temperatures and humidity build to those hot summer days we dreamed of in the deep cold days of winter, we begin to debate in our head which is better – hot or cold days. The jury is still out. As dew points rise, pressure builds until something has to give. Like a sponge, the air can only take on so much moisture until it starts to drip or rain.
    Many of these storms have been at night. I love watching a storm roll in as lighting flashes and distance rumbles of thunder announce the coming show. Unfortunately, I fell asleep before the show even began. Mark on the other hand was not able to sleep through the last evening storm. Music was close, and it looked like the change in weather was pushing up her calving date. Mark slipped on some coveralls (unwashed, insulated ones) he grabbed off the hook. He did not want his clean clothes to get dirty. Soft, gentle rain greeted him as he walked out the door to the check on Music. Mark and Austin had kicked all the switch cows out of the shed for the evening so Music could stretch out and be undisturbed during delivery. She was snuggled down in the fresh corn stalk bedding gearing up to push out a calf. No need to get wet running back and forth between the shed and house to check on the cow, he thought. So, he settled down on the clean bedding as well. He listened and watched as the storm moved closer. A loud clap of thunder announced the arrival of the storm and the first calf. Apparently, Music was going to have her second set of twins.
    The pressure of the storm was building to the release point as sheets of rain pelted the tin roof. In sync with the heat of the storm, the struggles of the second delivery became apparent with the appearance of back legs. As the storm hit its peak, Music groaned, and Mark pulled out a second heifer calf.
    As the dark storm clouds blew through, everyone collapsed and released a sigh of relief. The calves were alive and healthy. Music was excited to get up and start licking them off. Mark caught his breath as he watched the sight of mother and daughters. But probably happiest of all were all the switch cows that were kicked out of the shed. They stood out in the pasture under the dark clouds, chewing their cud as the warm summer rains washed away the grim and dirt which had become caked on their bodies during the hot, muggy days. The joy under dark clouds.
    Music has been one of our top cows, and we wanted more daughters out of her, so we flushed her to King Doc. We ended up with three pregnancies. Mark also bred Music to King Doc, which resulted in the twins. Now we need to come up with names. Her first set of twins we called Rhythm and Rhyme. Her first daughter was named Duet. I know I want to name her last ET calf Finale while her first ET calf is called Melody. I guess the middle ET will be Harmony. For the twins? Covid and Corona? Applause and Encore? Thunder and Lightening? The possibilities are intriguing as we find joy under dark clouds.
    Natalie, Mark and his brother Al, farm together near Rice, Minnesota. They milk 100 registered Holsteins under the RALMA prefix. Their four children are grown up and all involved in agriculture with hopes of someone returning to the farm. For questions or comments, please e-mail Natalie at mnschmitt@jetup.net.