When I was in high school, a typical Friday afternoon often went like this: I’d run my cross country miles. Grab something to eat for supper. Change into my cheerleading uniform. Put my trombone together and play in the pep band. Then hop down to the field and cheer for the football team.
    A wintertime afternoon looked similar, but with different activities: basketball, competitive speech, one-act play, choir, and others.
    Looking back and writing this, it sounds kind of crazy. In our small school, though, students were allowed (and often encouraged) to be involved in multiple activities at the same time. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been enough students involved to keep each activity going.
    The effect this had on my life is that I never had to choose between activities that I enjoyed. I truly loved every activity I participated in and, somehow, managed to make it all work.
    For the first 10 years of my career as a dairy farmer, I followed the same philosophy that kept me going in high school: If you love it, it’s worth your time.
    And like in high school, I was able to find a way to make it all work.
    Right now, though, I feel differently. I still love everything I do, but I’m struggling to make it all work. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get it all done.
    If I look at my day as a pie chart, there are lots of slices.
    For many years, the sleep slice looked more like a sliver than a wedge. A year ago (or so), I made a conscious decision to change that. I’m not as young as I used to be, which means I can’t function on a few hours of sleep the way I did in the past. Without enough sleep, I am not a reasonable human being and my health suffers. If I’m not healthy, the whole pie chart falls apart.
    As for my dairy farmer slice, well, let’s be honest. The dairy farmer slice could fill the whole pie chart. I could spend 24 hours a day doing farm work and still not finish everything that could be done.
    I don’t spend 24 hours a day farming, but my dairy farmer slice is quite a bit bigger now than it was a couple months ago. We’re in the middle of our peak calving season and switching a boatload of cows. We’ve come to realize that it doesn’t make sense for us to hire another full-time employee – both because it’s hard to find someone who’s interested in working a split shift and because we can’t afford to pay a full-time wage right now.
    We did recently hire a high school student to help in the afternoons. With his help, we’re slowly getting caught up outside, but we still have way more work to do than we have available hours of labor.
    My mom slice has also grown. Our kids are getting involved in more and more activities. Monika asked this past weekend if she could show one of her Jersey cows at the county fair now that she’s a full-fledged 4-Her. I think we’ll let her. Life is too short to wait. Sometimes the right moment is now.
    Dan and Monika are also helping more and more with chores, but school and the extra-curricular activities that help them explore their interests still need to be their main focus.
    At their ages, school and activities still require a fair bit of parental involvement – even if only as the chauffeur.
    I am also acutely aware that the number of years before my children spread their wings and fly away is quickly dwindling.
    What this all means is that, until I can figure out a way to make the whole pie bigger, the slices of my time that I devote to writing, advocacy, and other activities are going to shrink for a while. You won’t see my column in the next issue of the Dairy Star. Starting in April, I’m cutting back to writing one column each month.
    I still love writing this column. And it’s still worth my time. But, for the time being, I need to reduce the amount of time I give to it.
    Thank you for understanding.
    Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 100 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have three children – Dan, 11, Monika, 8, and Daphne, 5. Sadie also writes a blog at www.dairygoodlife.com. She can be reached at sadiefrericks@gmail.com.