Ramblings from the Ridge

Teamwork makes the dream work

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“Teamwork makes the dream work.” 

This line oozes with cheesiness. It is one of those you hear coaches saying to pump kids up and get them playing better. You can hear the silly rhyme in your head when it takes more than one person to accomplish anything. This useful slogan also makes its way into the lingo around our farm. 

Peter likes to pump up the boys to get them to work alongside him in the barns. He will look at Henry with a grin and a twinkle in his eye and say, “Come on, man. Teamwork makes the dream work. We need your help.” 

It usually does the trick.

Mondays and Tuesdays are my heavy cow move days in the barn. On Monday mornings, after the guys are done helping my dad with the weekly business of herd health, they help me. 

Adrian peeks at where I am with the sorting in the parlor and gets all the gates set up to run the cows through the hospital parlor to dry them off. We get started, and Dustin pops in after helping Dad. Depending on all the other chaos of the day, sometimes Dustin and Adrian grab their lists from me and sort the dry cows that need to be moved into the transition pen while I finish drying cows off by myself. Either way, we have all of the cow drying and moving done by roughly 11:30 a.m. A smile, thank you and high five are all around as we accomplish our Monday goals.

Every other Tuesday morning, our hoof trimmer makes his appearance, and that adds a necessary degree of cow organization and chaos to the daily grind. I have the clipboards filled out Monday nights so that Dustin and Jaime don’t have any reason to wait for me before finding cows. It is positively ridiculous how much I enjoy moving cows with Dustin and Jaime. These guys make moving cows fun. I run the gate, and their movements are pure stealth. They can walk both sides of a pen and guide the necessary ladies back to me, the self-proclaimed Queen of the Gate. There is no yelling and minimal talking. The cows stay calm. When it is a trim day, we move 100 cows around before noon. I often find myself saying to them, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” and meaning it. I’m not angry from chasing cows, and the cows aren’t slipping, falling and covering me with nature’s face mask. It is a pleasurable experience.

Last week, I had the privilege of observing the beginnings of an all-day quilting bee. I snuck over to my friend Ruth’s house and witnessed teamwork at its finest. She had two quilt frames set up in her living room with designs drawn on them. Young and old alike took their places around them with needles and thimbles at the ready. The murmurs of chatter were just beginning as I popped in to see how it all works. If the cows hadn’t needed me, I may have tried my hand at quilting for the day. Not only did this day serve as a way to get two beautiful quilts stitched, but it was also a wonderful way to bond. 

The main team of girls in the calf barn work fabulously as a team. They have a way of boosting morale by stepping into the hospital barn and asking how they can help. Mackenzie is the newest vital part of our crew. She is not afraid to step in and learn a task. More importantly, she asks questions to clarify instructions. She has a no-nonsense attitude, which fits in well with us outspoken ladies. Jaime has been with us for years and is conscious of making sure all the girls have input on how we run things in the calf barn. This simple act creates a team environment. There is a crossover with the guys in the parlor helping in the calf barn, and they bring smiles and helpful hands as well. One of the best ways to create a workplace that makes everyone feel good about their effort is the frequency of a genuine, “Thank you.”

I once again found myself involved with National FFA Week. I help advise the FFA chapter, and National FFA Week was a flurry of activities. Kids made root beer floats at the bank, served ice cream in the elementary school and coordinated Ag Olympics for the student body. Then, there was the Friday breakfast. The members of our chapter served about 140 people at the first community breakfast honoring FFA week in years. It was such a joy to see the kids working together as a team. They communicated about what jobs needed to be done, which guest needed milk or juice, and kept on top of the coffee refills. They were in official dress, so they looked like a team, and they busted a move the whole morning. Let us not forget that the officer team also helped deliver two 50-pound piglets to the elementary school to be kissed by the principal. That was a memorable experience.

In the barn, in the school, among friends. Teamwork really does make dreams work. Even when part of your team is looking at you like you are a complete lunatic for hauling piglets into a gymnasium full of howling elementary students after said piglets have pooped in the foyer of the school, it still worked. Even when you have to use what little rudimentary Spanish-speaking skills you possess to get the point across to move cows, it still works. 

I hope you have a team surrounding you to make your dreams work. 

Jacqui Davison and her family milk 800 cows and farm 1,200 acres in northeastern Vernon County, Wisconsin. Her children, Ira, Dane, Henry and Cora, help on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos, and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.

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