I paused for a moment the other day to evaluate my reflection in the glass of the milkhouse storm door. 

I had my black rubber muck boots on since there was still mud everywhere and they were good and muddy. Tucked into my boots were my multi-patch barn jeans. Just above my knees was an assortment of smears – mud, manure, bright green teat dip, calf slobber and snot from Monika’s runny nose.

My green hooded sweatshirt was dusted with milk replacer powder. The front pocket bulged a little with the collection of paper towels I keep there in an effort to keep my hands clean without wiping them on my pants.

My hair was pulled back into a ponytail-bun and covered with a red bandana to keep the stray hairs out of my face and the barn debris out of my hair.

Even though the reflection was semi-colored, I could see the bluish circles under my eyes, a side effect of the short night. And that my freckles were starting to bloom, which caught me by surprise because I didn’t think my face had seen the sun at all in the past couple weeks. One of the freckles wasn’t a freckle, though. It was fleck of something, probably manure, stuck to my cheek. I rubbed it off while wondering how long it had been there.

Quite the look, I thought. 

Most people wouldn’t recognize me in my barn clothes. Those that only ever see me in my barn clothes often don’t recognize me when I’m cleaned up and put together. Nonetheless, the cows and calves don’t care what I look like – one of the benefits of dairy farming is the lack of dress code.

But then as I grabbed the handle and opened the door, a sudden sparkle caught my eye and made me stop. It was a twinkle from my new earrings – my early Mother’s Day gift  – peeking out from beneath my bandana.

Diamonds in the muck, I thought.

Except they aren’t really diamonds. (Because it would be ridiculous to spend that much money on jewelry that I would inevitably end up wearing to the barn and dropping in the muck. And because the diamonds on my ring finger are the only diamonds I really need.)

But it didn’t seem to matter that they were fake. My new earrings shimmered like they were the real thing.

And it occurred to me that diamonds in the muck is a pretty fitting analogy for most of the dairy farm women I know. We’re beautiful, tough and invaluable. Most of our chores require getting at least a little bit dirty.

I’ll admit, the reflection looking back at me in the milkhouse door wasn’t beautiful according to contemporary beauty standards, but according to my standards it is. And so are all the other dairy farm women who spend their days (and sometimes nights) in barn clothes and work boots. 

Farm women are tough – mentally and physically. We balance family, farm chores, housework, volunteer efforts and off-the-farm jobs. We carry calves and bales, kids and pails. Our work boots log tens of thousands of steps in a day. 

Farm women are invaluable. Have you ever considered what it would cost to hire someone to do all of your farm chores, watch your kids, clean your house, run your errands… You get the idea. You could buy a lot of diamonds with that kind of money!  

So the next time you feel a little less than glamorous when you’re out in your barn clothes, remember that beneath the rough exterior is a beautiful diamond.

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of my fellow dairy farm moms. You rock!