My adventure in column writing began nearly seven years ago when I worked for a weekly newspaper. I told my co-workers about the hilarious ordeal Glen and I had while bringing our first Christmas tree home and my editor insisted that I write the story down for the next issue of the paper. So many people mentioned how much they enjoyed reading the story, that my editor asked me to write another one. Writing columns soon became my favorite part of working for a newspaper.

When we started farming, I continued to work part-time for the newspaper as a copy editor and Web designer, but discontinued writing my columns. It was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. With ample time for my mind to wander during farm chores and no literary outlet, I felt like I was drowning in unshared words. 

At the time I wasn’t sure how to write about our life on the farm for a primarily non-farm audience. Looking back, I know now that I should have given it a try anyway, because it would have a been a great opportunity to help others understand our decision to farm and our new lifestyle. There were so many great stories from those first couple years that went untold; those stories live on as memories, but memories fade in a way that written words never do.

So, when the editor of the Dairy Star showed up in our yard two years ago to ask if I’d like to write full-time for the Dairy Star, it was difficult for me to turn down an opportunity to write again. I compromised by agreeing to help part-time until the paper could find a full-time writer. 

Becoming a columnist was never part of the discussion. But after our trip to the Minnesota State Fair that year, my mind raced with possibilities for a column. I couldn’t help but ask if the Dairy Star would be interested in a column. The editor said yes and I did a mental cartwheel. I didn’t realize how much I missed writing columns until I started writing that first column.

That was 50 columns and 40,000-some words ago. There’s still that feeling of exhilaration when I sit down to write a column and it feels like the words are falling from the sky, landing on my head and flowing out of my fingers. There’s an equally exciting feeling when a good idea for a column floats into my mind and I have the presence to jot it down before it’s swept away. And nothing beats the feeling of triumph when the last word of a story appears on the page.

But writing columns for the Dairy Star is even better than writing for a community paper. Partly because farming provides a wide variety of inspiration and partly because I get to speak my own language when I write. You understand what I mean when I write about a cow with milk fever or the sound of a barn cleaner flight dropping into the hopper. 

A good friend asked me recently about how a person knows if what they are doing is what they were meant to do. I told her that I think people just know. What I should have said is, when the work doesn’t feel like work, you’re doing what you were meant to do. I know that writing for fellow farmers is something I was meant to do. 

But as much as I love writing these columns, there are still times when I question whether, at this point in my life (read: two small children and a fledgling farm), writing is worth the stress that sometimes comes with meeting a deadline. (Deadlines are a necessary evil; without them, very little would ever be scribed.)There are weeks when it seems impossible to find the time and the peace and quiet it takes for me to concoct a column. 

When Monika was a newborn, I wrote my columns with her strapped to my chest in the Baby Bjorn while Dan napped. Now that Dan doesn’t nap anymore, I usually write after they’ve gone to bed or I get up early to write before I go out to the barn. As a result, more columns than I care to admit have been fueled with midnight oil.

When this nocturnal habit of mine leaves me feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, I keep writing for these reasons:

Writing itself is therapy. Wrangling words does the same for me as driving tractor does for a lot of the farmers I know. “The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought; this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.” (Norbet Platt)

Writing about farming and parenting helps me find the humor in ordinary events, helps me celebrate our successes, and helps me process the sadness when things go wrong. 

And writing is a way for me to chronicle everything (or, almost everything) that happens around here. When I read through past columns, I find myself thinking, Boy, am I glad I wrote about that, because I never would have remembered all those details otherwise.

But the thing that keeps me writing more than anything else is hearing from readers. 

We all need to hear “good job” every now and then, and the truth is, cows can’t say it out loud, kids don’t say it, and spouses usually forget or don’t realize how much it needs to be said.

When someone tells me how much they enjoy something I wrote, or how they can relate to one of my stories, it’s like a great big pat on the back. And I beam inside every time. 

I keep readers’ comments tucked away in a file on my computer; whenever I need a reason to smile, I open a message in the file.

Thank you for reading my column. I am humbled beyond words that you take time out of your day to read what I have to write. And to those of you who have written a letter, sent an email, stopped by the Dairy Star’s booth at World Dairy Expo, or otherwise went out of your way to share your thoughts, I am forever grateful.

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 70 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have two children – Dan, 3, and Monika, 1. When she’s not parenting or farming, she’s writing for the Dairy Star. Sadie can be reached at gsfrericks@meltel.net.