Alas and alack. Our little hamlet of Smalltown, Michigan received a light dusting of the white stuff last week.
I can no longer ignore the fact that it is late November and the cold season is upon us.
I despise winter; I really do. Don’t get me wrong—I love a little snow between Thanksgiving and Christmas to get me in the mood for tree-trimming, egg-nogging, and fa-la-la-ing. But I would be perfectly happy if it all melted on January 1 and we jumped into spring. For me, winter means freezing temperatures, gray skies, pasty white skin, treacherous driving, and a puppy that suffers from cabin fever whenever he’s not playing in the snow.
But there is one good thing about this time of year (besides peppermint stick ice cream): I have a lot more QT with the dairy man. That’s “Quality Time,” Mom. Don’t get all weird on me.
After the frantic pace of fall harvest settles down, we enter the dairy’s “slow” season. Sure, DM may occasionally have to run up to the barn at 4 a.m. to fix a milk tank, but he tends to work shorter days at a slower speed. The world is our oyster and we have nothing but time to spend together.
Except for the conferences.
That’s right. Just when I’m getting used to eating dinner before 8 p.m. and having a housecleaning partner on Saturdays, the dairy farm conference season begins.
Back in the days of three-legged stools and buggies, farming was a relatively isolated profession. Until I met the dairy man, I thought this was still the case. I would have laughed at the prospect of a bunch of farmers gathering at a two-day summit in a hotel multipurpose room to discuss “the latest on carbohydrates, starch digestibility, shredlageTM, and snaplage for dairy cows.”
But these conferences exist. Farmers like mine are puttering all over the country in the winter to learn, network, brainstorm, and tour each others’ dairies. Being married to a dairy farmer has made me realize how large and collaborative this industry really is.
My DM reads dozens of dairy magazines and checks stock and commodities prices on a daily basis.
He also closely follows immigration legislation and yes, spends his winter going to dairy conferences in locales from Cleveland to Las Vegas.
Last year the DM spent three days at the Bellagio in Vegas. He saw David Copperfield. He ate expensive steak. He socialized with other “elite dairy producers” and talked cows 24/7. Rough life, eh?
I think the dairy man enjoys going conferences because he believes that if our dairy isn’t moving forward, it is moving backward. He comes back home from each meeting bursting with new ideas, innovative solutions, and a whole lot of swag from …ahem… semen distributors.
I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that the dairy man won’t sit still, even in the dreary days of winter.
This is the guy who couldn’t even kick back on a beach in Mexico during our honeymoon. While I was sipping fruity drinks and taking long naps in the sun, my dear farmer spent most of the week poring through dairy magazines, drawing barn plans, and solving complicated math problems.
That man doesn’t know how to relax. I’ve seen him jump out of a nap with a start, scribble something on a sheet of paper, and immediately fall back asleep.
There’s no such thing as winter hibernation for my farmer. Conference season is upon us. But he loves it.
As for me, I think it would be great if our dairy cooperative would hold a conference in Hawaii … or the Bahamas. I’ve heard that you can learn a lot about dairy cows with a coconut beverage in your hand. Especially if you bring your wife. Trust me.