Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Life on the family farm under an open heaven: So much to be thankful for

Tom Heck for Progressive Dairy Published on 27 November 2019

With Thanksgiving here, it’s a good time to look back on the year and see how the Lord has safely brought us through another year and blessed us. This year certainly wasn’t an easy one.

We had a hard winter with lots of snow and ice. When spring came, we found out most of our hay fields had winterkilled. And spring into summer was very cold and very wet. It was a real challenge getting the crops planted, and there were some spots we didn’t get planted at all. I did manage to get my big tractor planted twice, which wasn’t hard to do. It was hard to get out though. My neighbor Dean pulled me out with his big, four-wheel-drive tractor. I’m thankful for good neighbors.



First-crop hay came, and we knew it wouldn’t be near as much as normal because of the winterkill, but we were disappointed at how little there was. Right after we had it off, we sat down as a family and talked the situation over, and we decided we had better sell off a portion of our dairy herd to stretch our feed supply further. It was a tough thing for us to do, but it was the right thing. Unfortunately, it also made for smaller milk checks this summer. We do have a good group of springing heifers coming in over the next three months, so we’re hoping to get our barn back full. That will be wonderful. We hate seeing so many empty stalls in our barn.

Second- and third-crop hay did fair, and we got two cuttings off of our new seeding.

And then, in the middle of all that, July 19 came. It was late afternoon, and the skies turned very dark, and the yard light came on. The skies then turned a pale green, and we knew we were in for a terrible storm. We headed to the basement and for the next hour prayed and watched out the window as the storm raged. When it was all over, we went out to do evening chores and to survey all the damage.

We thanked the Lord that we, along with all of our animals, were all safe. Our sheds sustained a fair bit of damage, and our electrical system was almost knocked out. We had lots of big trees down; one even went down across our township road, totally blocking it. It was dark that night by the time we, along with our neighbors, got the road opened back up. I must say there were other people who had a lot more storm damage than we had. Our hearts and prayers go out to them.

We spent most of our summer fixing up our buildings, upgrading our electrical system and cutting up trees. We have a lot more trees in our woods that will need cutting up. It’ll take at least a couple years to do all of them, but they will make good firewood to heat our home with.


With the cold, wet, late spring, our corn crop really struggled. We wondered if it would make it to maturity, so once again we turned to the Lord in prayer, asking His blessing on it. It is so wonderful walking under an open heaven with our Lord so we can take all our cares to Him. He answered and sent us some nice warm, sunny weather late in the season that really brought our corn crop along. We were amazed at how much corn silage we harvested per acre and at how well the corn yielded for grain.

So what can I say? It’s been a very challenging year and yet a very blessed one. God is so good. He’s kept us all safe in His care this year, and our animals are doing well. I believe we have enough crops to see our animals through the winter ahead. We’ve gotten our buildings all fixed up, and God has provided all that we have need of. And in the middle of all that, what did we do? Our neighbor Harley took us fishing, and we caught a bunch of big, beautiful bluegills. That was a lot of fun – thanks, Harley.

There’s a song that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, and you’ll be amazed at what God has done.” The longer I live, the more I find this to be true. Every year on Thanksgiving Day we sit down at our table, with so much good food on it that Joanne has lovingly prepared, and we go round and round giving thanks to the Lord for so many blessings He has bestowed upon us. It would be good if everybody did that. It’s easy to look at the negative, but we here in America have so much to be thankful for. If you will be thankful for all that God has given you, it will change you and your outlook for the better.  end mark

Tom Heck, his wife, Joanne, and their two children own and operate a 35-cow dairy farm in Wisconsin. Email Tom Heck or order his book at Tom Heck Farm.