Two weeks have passed since our daughter, Anna, married Kevin Skadahl. Thinking back on the wedding, I am hoping to remember the images and sounds. But I know as time goes on, I will lose track of the little things and have to resort to photos or refer to this column to recollect.
     I will forget the rushing and panic to get everything completed on a list that was started the first week of August. On the top of the crazy to-do list was cleaning the hay mow.
       Catherine and I took on the job by hauling loads of loose straw from the top of the barn. Both of us pitched it into the tractor and hauled it into the weaned calves in the loafing shed. We were so happy to be done with that itchy, dirty job. I did not realize the next job would be worse. I used the leaf blower on our tallest ladder to blow down the cobwebs from the top of the rafters in the barn. After the second or third time up and down the ladder, I felt more comfortable and not so shaky. I could not tell if I was sweating from the high humidity or my nerves, and with the dust sticking to me, I looked like a giant lint ball from the dryer.
    Anna and Kevin hung the tulle over the rafters and lifted a beam that had tiny lights cascading down to light the altar. Next, they put a layer of straw bales and covered it with plywood. That is where they would say their vows.
    They put the straw bales back in the mow later the next day, measuring 6 feet apart to comply with the social distancing rules. The bales were covered with burlap, and in the middle aisle, they put birch stumps that Kevin carefully cut level to hold lanterns. At the outside end of every third row, a pitchfork was shoved into the bale and the tulle was pulled back and tied into a bow. Finally, we got the look Anna had dreamt of for her wedding.
    As I watched the whole barn transform, I realized we created a place where Anna and Kevin’s family and closest friend would witness them start their life together.
    Duane was in charge of getting the machinery out of the shed where the reception would be, and I was told all of my promotion items in the tour shed were going to be removed for the wedding. Dinner was served in the tour shed, and everyone sat in their own family groups in the machinery shed. We all assisted to help move and organize wagons, tires and tractors into other buildings.
    Tables and three huge spools were covered and placed around the building. One for the wedding cake along with cheese cakes and cupcakes. The second one held the cheese tower that had four wheels of cheese and all of the nuts, fruit and chocolate that goes on a cheese board, and the third was for lemonade, sweet tea and water.
    Catherine had the job of doing photo displays of Anna and Kevin and also the family history. She used dried flowers with old windows and doors to create unique arrangements. We had to have an area for the DJ, a bar, and tubs of soda, beer and water to avoid anyone lifting up cooler lids. Anna and Catherine worked together to line up all of that.
    At the wedding rehearsal, Doug Hinchley, Anna’s uncle, was in charge of officiating the wedding. Doug said a few words that would be said the following afternoon, made corrections and repeated himself a few times. The bridesmaids and groomsmen practiced. Anna and Duane did a few walk downs, and got all the moves situated so everyone was ready. We ate pizza together and went off to get a good night sleep before the next morning’s makeup and hair appointments.
    I could not sleep. It was hard to believe that in a few hours our little girl was going to be married and become Anna Hinchley Skadahl. All the things that a mother does to help get her ready, did I do them all? Was I missing something? What could I be forgetting?
    When the day finally arrived, we came back to the farm to see the florist put huge floral arrangements on the altar. She gave the barn a few last-minute floral touches and then brought the bouquets to Anna and her bridesmaids. They all looked so lovely and were getting nervous.
    Catherine helped Anna get into her gown, and the bridesmaids were slipping into their dresses and boots in the bathroom. I came in and was told to get ready. Oh, I was so nervous. Is everything ready?
    The wedding party left the house and went through the barn to wait in the feed room. The groomsmen joined the bridesmaids, and everything seemed to stand still. I was down there only for a moment to make sure Anna was ready. She looked so beautiful. I had to breathe slowly to not cry. Duane looked so proud and handsome. He was a set and ready.
    Family and friends gathered in front of the barn door and began to enter. They were wearing masks, but it was clear they were smiling as they took their seats on the bales.
    I am hoping to never forget how beautiful the barn looked. As Kevin escorted me to the front, I noticed the smell of straw and burlap, and could hear the crowd talking quietly knowing it was getting close to the start of the ceremony. As the song, “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” began to play, I knew that it was time. I saw Catherine and Ande walk in. I could hear the tap of their boots as they walked over the old wood floor. I searched inside myself to hold it together and watched the others walk by.
    When the song changed to “Canon in D,” I lost it. I told myself to breathe and was so proud to see Anna and Duane. I knew at that moment, I did everything I could. I have a wonderful daughter who is kind and caring, and will be a loving wife. I did not lose my daughter. We will always be close. I have gained another son. He will become a big part of our lives, and we will cherish the times we spend together. What an amazing celebration, and it was so lovely to be able to share it with so many.
    Tina Hinchley, her husband, Duane, and their daughters, Anna and Catherine, milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots. They also farm 2,300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin.  They have been hosting farm tours for over 20 years.