It's time for us to get away for awhile. I love our kids and I love our cows, but their demands can be relentless. The 24/7 commitment of both parenting and dairy farming can take its toll on a person - both physically and mentally. Trying to farm and parent at the same time seems to take more than twice the effort of farming or parenting alone. It's kind of like Aristotle's "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" idea.

Some days it seems that by the time the cattle are milked, fed and content and we've met all of our children's needs, there's little time left for us to take care of ourselves. And when the demands on our time increase, we steal a little more time away from our precious sleep. It's no wonder we don't seem to think clearly at times. I've been assembling a list of all the "where was my brain when I needed it" moments attributable to lack of sleep and/or brain overload.

Here are the top eight signs you need to call a relief milker (and a babysitter) and get away for a couple days:

1. You go down to the basement for a frozen pizza and look in the dryer.

2. You wake up from your mid-morning nap, see that the sun is shining and think to yourself, 'Oh my gosh, I slept through my alarm and I'm late for morning chores.'

3. You go out to the barn for morning chores, put feed down, get the milk house set up, bring the cows in the barn and then wake up to realize you were only dreaming and now you're late for your real chores.

4. You let the cows out to pasture and can't figure out why one of them is still hanging around the barn door 10 minutes later. Upon investigating, you find that her teats are green from the pre-dip but you forgot to wipe her off and attach the milker. So, now she's standing there leaking milk and looking at you like you've lost it. Oops!

5. You put the pitcher of milk in the cupboard and the box of cereal in the fridge and then discover your mistake after you come in from morning chores.

6. You took the pan of fudge nut bars out of the oven and set them on the stove top to cool. You then take the green beans out of the freezer, put them in a pot on the stove top and turn on the burner. A few minutes later your dinner guest politely asks if the pan of bars is supposed to be bubbling. Oh cow manure! You turned the wrong burner on and now there's a charcoal ring in the middle of the pan of bars.

7. You just turned the house upside down looking for your car keys and finally found them in your hand.

8. You get half-way to town and realize you're still wearing your slippers.

On a more serious note, there are some much less humorous signs that you're overworking yourself: you milk a treated cow into the line or you fall asleep while plowing a field. Farm accidents are more likely to occur during times when stress is high and sleep is short.

We all need to rest and relax; and for some the only way to do that is to get away from the farm (and/or the family) for a little while.

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 70 cows near Melrose, Minn., with help from their 2-year-old son, Dan, and their infant daughter, Monika. When she's not farming, she's writing for the Dairy Star. Sadie can be reached at gsfrericks@meltel.net.