10 Things I Learned In August + 3 Year Anniversary

Today marks day #730 of my installation as a modern farm wife, aka my three-year wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s already been three years since that sultry day the Dairy Man and I said “I do.”

But I love that man more with each day. Despite all of the harvesting, late nights, life lessons, and manure, he always makes me laugh. I feel blessed to spend my life with him … and several hundred cows. Happy anniversary, Dairy Man!

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Now that we’ve gotten the obligatory mush out of the way, let’s reflect on August. Which is almost over, by the way. HOW did this happen!? Apparently time flies when you’re building a barn and turning 27.

Anyway. On to the things I learned this month.

10 Things I Learned in August

1. Dogs can get bronchitis.
Who knew? While Dairy Man and I were cavorting around Utah, Jersey the dog was spending his vacation at Whiskers Resort and Pet Spa. Snazzy. But apparently it was also full of some high-end germs. The pup got bronchitis. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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2. Utah is one of the most beautiful states I’ve ever seen.
This month Dairy Man and I took our longest vacation since our honeymoon three years ago. Destination? Salt Lake City, Utah to visit some friends. The mountains were gorgeous and I got to check #4 and #10 off my 30 before 30 list.

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3. In N’ Out Burger is everything the world made it out to be.
California isn’t the only state with these burger meccas. Utah boasts several In N’ Out joints and DM and I got our first taste on vacation. My taste buds rejoiced.

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4. I still don’t understand demolition derbies. Or mullets.
August is the month of our local county fair. While I quite enjoy eating a 2 lb. elephant ear for dinner and ogling at cute baby goats, I still feel like a fish out of water at a demolition derby. So much exhaust. So many mullets. Ah, the cultural opportunities presented in a small town.

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5. Border Collie playdates are the best kind.
The J-pups recently had a play rendezvous with another puppy named Boots. They wrestled, frolicked, chased frisbees, and enjoyed having the same level of energy. It was exhausting. And fun fact: Boots (foreground) is 10 months old; Jersey is two years. Apparently we have a very petite BC.

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6. The Great Salt Lake smells like death.
I’ve never smelt the Dead Sea, but if it’s anything like the Great Salt Lake, I understand the name. The Great Salt Lake smells like death and dead things. Due to wildly fluctuating water levels and pollution, the lake has a terrible stench caused by the decay of insects and other wildlife during times of low water. But if you plugged your nose, it was at least a little pretty.

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7. Wood paneling might be back in style. Tell that to my old farmhouse.
No matter what West Elm might be selling, I stand by my decision to paint every inch of the wood paneling in our old house.

8. When it comes to manure pits, size does matter.
Why have three small pits when you can have one pit that can store five million gallons of manure? We’re nearing completion on the dairy’s new manure pit this month and DM couldn’t be more excited.

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9. I’m horrified that floral pants don’t seem to be going away.

10. Air conditioning is vital to life on a dairy.
Why? Because if your air conditioner breaks—thus forcing you to open all of the windows in the house—and a manure tanker drives up and down your driveway all day, your house WILL smell exactly like a manure pit. It’s going to take a while to get that smell out of the throw pillows.

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Two Years of Love

Sometimes it seems like I’ve been married to the Dairy Man forever.

Easy now, I mean that in a good way! It’s like “I wish the summer could go on forever,” “I could eat chips and salsa forever,” “This Glee marathon is going on forever.” It’s a positive thing. I feel blessed to share each day with my best friend. Things like college, dating, and awkward AIM chats seem to be eons away from this grown-up married life.

Even our wedding is becoming a distant memory. It’s this old brain of mine. But, believe you me, it was a great day.

Today is a great day as well:  our two year anniversary. I’ve shared an abundance of mush on days such as our one year anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and the dairy man’s birthday, so I’ll keep things succinct.

I love that man desperately. I’m so happy to be married to him. He makes me better and our lives are full of joy.

So for today, let’s look back on those two crazy kids getting hitched. (A.k.a. I lured you into my living room with cookies and suddenly pulled out the wedding album. You look for an exit, but the cookie is so, so good. Maybe just a few pictures…)

Here’s our wedding day in 10 pictures.

We got ready.

We saw each other for the first time.

We polka-ed with our bridal party.

We realized why people use skinny candles to light the unity candle (thick candles = you’re just dripping hot wax into the unity candle. Curses!)

We shared our first kiss as husband and wife.

We drove away in the Dairy Man’s flashy yellow Chevelle.

We spun.

We ate five courses of delicious tapas.

We enjoyed cupcakes.

We danced and started a life together.

Happy anniversary, Dairy Man. I like you.

1 down, 80 to go.

This weekend, the Dairy Man and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. As old(er) people say, “My, how time flies!”

It’s hard to believe I’ve been living this country life for an entire year. I can’t really consider myself a newbie anymore. Though, honestly, that ship already sailed the day I started explaining the difference between a heifer, cow, steer, and bull to my boss.

The past year feels like a great accomplishment. It was challenging and frustrating, but it was also filled with unspeakable joy and love. I am more in love with the Dairy Man today than I was on our wedding day. Now that we’ve gotten a chance to get our hands dirty in this thing called marriage, we are even more certain in this life we’re building together.

Unlike many newlyweds, I don’t think that the Dairy Man and I entered marriage with our eyes glazed over with love and rainbows. We’ve always been fairly realistic people. We didn’t enter into marriage lightly or with unreasonable expectations. And I think that’s what has sustained us through this crazy year.

Over the past 365 days, we lived in two different houses in two different locations. We went through harvest season, planting season, and a whole lot of hay cutting. We began the (never-ending) process of renovating our farmhouse. We started a new dairy. We completely gutted and renovated our milking parlor. We lost two beloved grandparents. We got a dog. We joined a church and made new friends.  We lived through power outages, blizzards, 3 a.m. phone calls, passionate disagreements, runaway cows, and one very expensive trip to IKEA.

This year has been tumultuous and unstable. But it has also been rewarding and reassuring. Somehow our farmer/urbanite love has blossomed into a beautiful marriage.

I still remember something my mom said to me a few months after my wedding. The Dairy Man was in the midst of starting the new dairy. I barely saw him and felt marginalized, alone, and unimportant. I was sick of coming second to the dairy. While the Dairy Man was working 15 hour days, I was saddled with keeping everything else together. I resented it all. I hadn’t signed up to do everything myself. But when I lamented this to my mom, she said,

Jess, in a marriage you can’t be so concerned about things being perfectly 50/50. You both have to give 100 percent–all of the time. Things aren’t always going to be equal. You might have to take turns carrying the other. But you should both always try to give 100 percent. That’s what love is.”

My mother is very smart and her advice stuck with me. An egalitarian marriage (as I hoped for) is a great idea, but real life isn’t always that neat and tidy. You can’t just give 50 percent and stop giving. Sometimes we have to pick up each other’s slack. If you go into marriage thinking that things will always be fair and perfectly equal, you’re in for a rude awakening. Especially if you marry a farmer. We will spend our lives trying to find balance.

My happiness required that I accept this. I had to learn flexibility, patience, and grace. I had to be ok with giving more than 50 percent some of the time. On the flip side, the Dairy Man had to shake off years of putting the farm first and learn what it was like to be married.  He had to learn how to prioritize, say no, and invest in life outside of the farm. We’re getting there.

To my husband, thank you for the past year. Today, like that day a year ago, you are it. You are everything. You’ve turned my life upside down and it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. I may live in the boondocks and have a home that smells faintly of cow manure, but I still feel like myself. Stilettos and all.

Bring on the next 80 years.