The shoe cobbler’s children

There’s a saying I’ve heard from time to time that the shoe cobbler’s children are the worst shod. I don’t personally know any cobbler’s children to verify whether that’s a saying based on any truth, but I can say that this dairy farmer’s kids are often without milk for their cereal. This morning I grabbed milk for my coffee and realized that, once again, there was barely enough milk for the kids’ cereal. A portion of what little was left went into my multiple cups of coffee consumed while writing this and listening to the birds who, like me, are overjoyed with the sunny and warm weather after a month of rain and gloom.
The fact that there are only about four hours every other day where there is no milk to be had on the farm without going out and throwing a halter on one of the show cows and hand milking her means there’s not much incentive to grab the milk jug and run to the barn for a refill. I can grab it out of the tank after I finish chores. No one will miss it for another couple hours. This usually leads to me forgetting to fill the milk jug still sitting on the step of the bulk tank an hour or two later when I head up to the house after finishing those chores. No worries though, I can fill it after breakfast. At this point, someone usually calls me, and I’m distracted from what I was going to do immediately when I got back to the barn. That thing being filling the milk jug and bringing it back up to the house. By the time I remember again that the milk jug is waiting to be filled, I walk into the milkhouse just in time to greet Erik, the milk hauler, and hear the sound of the hose sucking air because the last few drops of milk just exited the tank and headed to the milk truck’s stainless steel tank. Not all that interested in going out and hand milking one of the kids’ show cows, I vow to remember to grab milk after evening milking and sometimes I do. Sometimes I wake up the next morning and find there’s still no milk in the fridge. I hope I’m not the only person this happens to. I wonder if chicken farmers ever have to forgo waffles for a lack of eggs in the refrigerator to make them with. Probably so.
It’s sometimes easy to forget when you live on a farm surrounded by food just how expensive eating well can be, especially with a couple teen boys eating seemingly everything in sight all day long. If we didn’t have freezers full of meat and all the eggs and milk a person could ever want to consume, our grocery bill would be astronomical. Teenage children’s appetites are a great incentive to have a diversified farm that sells meat and eggs. I’ve never kept track of how many pigs and chickens we eat personally each year as a lot of our meals consist of the weird sized or shaped packages, or something that got dropped on the floor, or was mislabeled, or a chicken missing a wing, or countless other defects that cause me to toss something in our personal freezer instead of selling it to a customer. Sometimes I accidentally drop a steak just in time for breakfast on Saturdays when Emily and the kids are gone to rock climbing and ballet practice and I’m in the mood to cook myself some steak and eggs.
Time to get down to the barn and take care of all those chickens, pigs and cows while enjoying the sun. Hopefully things will start to dry out and some planting can get done in the near future. Until next time, keep living the dream, and don’t forget about the milk jug. Morning coffee just isn’t as good without a splash of milk.
    Tim Zweber farms with his wife Emily, their three children and his parents Jon and Lisa by Elko, Minnesota.


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