Across the Midwest, we have been ravaged with extreme weather in the last six weeks from blinding blizzards, drenching downpours, softball-size hail and gale force winds. Many will be feeling the effects of these traumatic storms for years as lives have been uprooted and views outside kitchen windows have been changed forever.
    On Sunday, as we were rushing through the morning routine to make it to church on time, my mind started wandering. Another weather system was racing across the horizon to our area, I wondered how we could make it down to the basement from the choir loft if a tornado hit the church. We were heading to the country church in North Prairie, no sirens to alert us of impending danger. I pushed the thought aside and finished bedding the cows.
    As Mark drove to church, our Edge was struggling to stay between the lines. I assumed Mark was “farming the ditches” as he surveyed the progression of fieldwork. Once we got to the parking lot, I started to realize my premonition may not have been too far off base. Several of us were hunched over, fighting the wind whipping across the church parking lot as we raced in slow motion to the front doors. Once inside the church, there was silence. The century old church was built to safely harbor all who were within her walls. For the next hour, the only howling sounds were from a little one who took a tumble from the church pew.
    As we left the church, chatting with friends, we started to realize what had happened. Large broken branches missed cars in the parking lot. Across the street, a stately mature pine tree was uprooted and gently placed between the house and shed. Gale force winds had pushed through the countryside while we were in church. When we got home, we didn’t see a single branch in the yard. Apparently, the winds had missed us. It wasn’t until we went out for evening chores when we discovered domes were moved. Luckily, the calves were still inside, confused but safe.
    We had a major storm barrel through our farm yard in August 2010. The trauma of that weather event is still seen today. The view outside my kitchen window has lost the comforting peaceful shade beneath the mammoth elm trees. The remaining oak trees stand like wounded soldiers. I can envision how the domes were tossed deep into the corn field. Calves were dazed and stunned as much as we were once the winds subsided. I think the calves would eventually suffer from post-traumatic storm disease. Apparently, it is an inherited trait.
    Just before, during and after the storm, we had six Supersire ET sisters born. We named them Chaos, Cyclone, Commotion, Confusions, Chapel and Church. They were always a skittish bunch of calves, ready to bolt at the drop of a hat. We calved in all of the sisters but only two would stay in the herd. Commotion and Confusion stayed in our barn for several lactations but with a caveat. Since they lived up to their names and possibly suffered from PTSD, we were never able to chase them between barns. Since they were such good milk cows, we accommodated their disposition. Once they calved or when they were dried off, we would trailer them 160-feet between the barns. They were just too nuts to chase, and we weren’t track stars. They had their permanent stalls in the back of the milking barn.
    We have had fun coming up with names for this cow family and their disorder. Austin could care less what we name the calves. He is all about numbers. For Mark and myself, naming calves is a creative outlet in developing family legacies.
    We have several descendents from Confusion in the barn today. So, Confusion had Turmoil, who had Turbulence, who had Turbo, who had Turbine. This line has been easy to handle and a joy to milk. Turbo is probably one of my favorite 2-year-olds in the barn right now. She is so gentle, despite her name. Turmoil had a second daughter named Ralma Rapid Terror. She appears to be living up to her name and the legacy of her grandmother.
    Terror calved in the afternoon just before milking time. Perfect. We could get her milked and the calf fed before we started milking the whole herd. No late night calving duties. We were even able to chase her across the yard straight into the barn and in a stall. It seemed so simple. Actually, she was still brain numb from the delivery and just ran blindly in a straight line to the milking barn. When we chased her back to the other barn, she missed the door but went around on the north side where there was a gate to the pen. We gave her and ourselves a break from a potentially long chase scene.
    The next morning, the PTSD kicked in. In the dark (thanks to daylight saving time), Austin and Mark tried to chase her across with two other switch heifers before they started milking. They got two out of three across with no problems. Terror, on the other hand, made a break for it and ran through the mud and a hot wire fence to get back with the others.
    Once the cows in the barn were milked, it was time to coral Terror and get her milked. Just like her grandmother, we hooked up the stock trailer to haul her across the farm yard. Once Austin convinced her to step off the trailer, it was a race to the back of the barn to the very last stall, Confusion’s old stall. Mark thinks she is living up to her name and legacy. I wonder if her heifer calf will continue the family tradition? I named her Ralma Lambda Tremor. She is a pretty excitable calf.
    We all have storms in our own lives, seen and unseen. Through these times, I always remind myself that God won’t give me more than I can handle. Sometimes I wish he didn’t have so much confidence in me and what we can do together. My friend Bernie gave me a prayer card with a very gentle yet empowering reminder.
    “Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I can’t handle.”
    When storm clouds bear down on us, remember we’re not in this alone. We will weather the storms.
     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.