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HERd management: The four F’s of thankful: Faith, family, friends and farm

Janet Bremer Published on 06 November 2015

When I was a child, as Thanksgiving drew near, my teachers would typically announce that our assignment was to answer this question, “What are you thankful for?” 

After a lengthy period of pondering, I would start by writing a paragraph about my family – about how they cared for me, fed and clothed me, and bought me things. The second paragraph would usually go on about how thankful I was to live on a farm.

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I’d write about my favorite calf or cat and share about how great it was living in the country. I followed with another paragraph expressing the importance of friends and the fun times we shared at birthday parties and sleepovers. Lastly, I shared my thankfulness for my faith.

As I sit at my computer, beginning to write this article, I realize that some things never change. Yes, it used to be a sheet of notebook paper and a No. 2 pencil rather than a computer keyboard, but what I am thankful for has not changed. Family, farm, friends and faith – the four F’s. But as an adult, I look at my “thankful list” a bit differently.

Yes, I’m still thankful for my family. I am thankful that I am a fifth-generation dairy farmer whom my parents brought up to appreciate the value of dedication, hard work and determination. I am thankful that my husband and I can carry on this proud tradition to our children. I consider it a blessing that I can work side-by-side with my family each day, doing what we all love. I am proud to say that we are part of the 97 percent of family-owned farms.

Even though our kids and I also have jobs we enjoy off the farm, I know that we are all passionate about what we do on our dairy farm as well. I like that we farm with my in-laws, who built this farm from humble beginnings. I love that our children have grown up with Grandma and Grandpa right next door, so they could learn from them and recognize the value of people of all generations.

I am also still thankful I live on a farm. As a teen, I remember telling my mom, “I’ll never marry a farmer. They work long hours and never have a day off.” Thank goodness my foolish teenage thoughts changed, as I cannot imagine life without my farmer and living anywhere but on our farm. I acknowledge that we do work long hours and rarely have a day off, but that doesn’t matter because we are happy with the lifestyle we chose.

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I will never tire of watching the miracle of birth as we bring a new calf into the world. I love seeing the look on my husband’s dirt-stained face as he announces planting is finished or the smiles on the faces of our children when they discover the newborn kittens hiding in our calf barn.

Friends are also something I am still thankful for. I still appreciate the fun times spent with friends, but I also know that friends are a source of strength when things take a turn for the worse.

The past two years, my family has experienced many obstacles: deaths in our family, a car accident, several hospitalizations, and because of health issues, my father-in-law having to give up the farming chores he loves.

But each time, as we wondered how we would be able to continue, friends (and family) were here to help, give words of encouragement and lead us through the difficult times. I am also thankful that I have the ability and desire to help our friends, neighbors and our farming community when they are struggling with life’s curve balls.

Lastly, I am especially thankful for the gift of faith. As a child, I thought of faith as just attending church services each Sunday with my family, but now I know it is so much more. I have faith that God will rejoice with us when we have a successful harvest.

He will hold our hand when we struggle to understand why there isn’t enough rain when we desperately need it. My faith helps me look for the good in every situation. And He blesses our family with patience when farming doesn’t always go as planned.

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As a schoolgirl, when my teacher asked, “What are you thankful for?” my responses were different. Yes, they were the four F’s … family, friends, farm and faith, but as a youngster, I innocently looked at these blessings from a child’s perspective: What was I getting from the four F’s?

As an adult, I see this “thankful list” differently. It’s not all about me and what I have to gain. It’s about how the four F’s affect those around me. And for this, I am thankful.  PD   

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  • Janet Bremer

  • Dairy Producer
  • Hastings, Montana

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