If you do this you should read this book

Last week I finally finished my first novel length book after working on it for months. It is also my first nonfiction book, and it details every single experience I’ve had with all of my animals. And so if that doesn’t already interest you, I have a list of a few things that might make you want to read my book.

1. If you know me personally and know about my animals, obviously you should read my book.

2. If you’re a loyal follower of my blog and want something that goes into much more detail you should read this book.

3. If you want to read a book about animals that includes pictures at the end of each chapter then you should read this book.

4. If you only know about dairy farming from things you’ve read or seen on the Internet and want to read actual, true stories then you should read this book.

5. And lastly if you simply want to know more about cows, alpacas, ducks, cats and dogs then once again you should read this book.

Memory: True Stories of an American Farmer is available on Amazon now.

The one in which I go into a feminist rant

Throughout my relatively short life on the farm there are two main stereotypes I have heard and had to deal with. One: dairy farming is a cruel industry, and two: it’s a man’s job. I might come back to the first one because I talk about that a lot, but today I’m choosing to focus mainly on the second one.

As a woman in the dairy industry I sometimes find the second stereotype to be even more annoying than the first one. I’m not sure what it is that made me think a lot about this lately but it seems to continually come up and weigh on my mind in these past few days. But maybe it’s just the fact that I have yet to post on this topic that made me think that now is the correct time to do it.

There are many things over the last few years about why women shouldn’t be farmers. The biggest one is that it’s a “man’s job” because women can’t handle the “hard stuff”. It’s either that or when women want to be farmers their immediately labeled a tomboy or assumed to be a lesbian. I’m not saying that being a lesbian is a bad thing because I don’t think that at all and many of my friends are or a member of the LGBTQ community.

But that is off subject a bit. As a woman who is definitely a tomboy but not a lesbian I find every single stereotype about women farmers to be annoyingly stupid. As someone who has also been a feminist for a very long time I find basically every single stereotype annoying. Another aspect that continually comes up is that a straight woman farmer needs to have a boyfriend or get married so they’ll have a man to help them do that stupid “hard stuff” that I mentioned before. I have never had a boyfriend in my life, through nothing but my own choice. And I may never have one or get married because I don’t know if that is what the future holds for me or not and because unlike another stereotype that comes up not just in farming but in everything a woman’s life should not revolve around a man or being in a relationship.

Whenever I tell someone at college that I plan on taking over the farm after I graduate I always get a slightly surprised reaction no matter who I tell. It is probably because I am going to college for creative writing and not at an agricultural school but I’m sure my being a woman is unconsciously a part of it too. Because it’s a man’s job that still to this day some people think only a man can do.

The idea of something being a man or woman’s job is ridiculous to me. I firmly believe a person should be able to do the job and career they want without being judged or having things assumed about them because of that type of label. Why shouldn’t I as a woman be a farmer, and why does that have to be so uncommon? Because of the hard stuff that I keep mentioning?

Let me tell you about this hard stuff that I supposedly can’t handle. I can lift grain bags that weigh up to fifty pounds. It can be a struggle but I can do it. And if I can’t do something like that I figure out a way that I can. But that’s not the hard stuff I hear about the most. What I hear most is about the emotional hard stuff.

When I was thirteen years old my first cow died. She was nine months old and while I did not actually see her body after I saw her the day before and it’s something I will never forget. When I was sixteen on the way home from a bowling match I got a call telling me my cow that was having a calf that night had the calf that was born dead. A few months before on our alpaca farm we had an alpaca die for the first time. That was the first dead body I ever saw. And about one month after the cow had the calf that was born dead, the cow had to be taken away because if we had waited one more day she would no longer have been able to stand. She died on the trailer. And when I was eighteen nine days after my newest calf was born she died and we still don’t know why. And just last year my third cow that I ever had and that I loved for five and a half years died. Not to mention the other pets I have that I’ve lost. All this and I only stopped being a teenager last year. So you tell me, what exactly is the hard stuff that I can’t handle?

On Alpacas

While dairy farming is our main farm source that my family has, we also have a small alpaca farm in our backyard, which is pretty cool and always fun to tell people. It started a few years ago, first meaning to be a new job for my mom when she temporarily lost her old one, but then since she got it back it became a bit more like a hobby.

We started out with seven of them, five from one farm and two brothers from a different farm. We’ve got four girls; Saber, Aurora, Silver Moon and Charmin, and then we had three boys; Zonji, Coal and Prince. A few years ago back when we were beginners Prince got worms which eventually made him so sick that he couldn’t even stand anymore. Of course since we were beginners we had no idea until it was too late and he passed away. Just lately Coal, the brother of Prince, also got these worms but since we know more know and were prepared for it we fixed him and today he’s fine.

Besides when they get sick alpacas have always seemed to me to be a much more low maintenance type of animal than cows are. Obviously they have the basic food and water needs, which basically consists of a bit of grain in the morning and more in the afternoon, a big water bucket in each barn that we fill up almost weekly or whenever it’s needed, and a supply of hay that we usually have to fill up daily. Besides those daily things there is an annual shearing day most of the time around June, when we get professionals to come in and give our kids a haircut. We then use this hair, typically called fleece to make yarn and knit or sometimes weave different things. And I’ve heard some try and say that shearing them hurts them, but it is just like a haircut for humans, and it makes them feel a lot better in the summer when their heavy coats are gone. Then during the year the fleece grows back so when winter comes again they have a lot of fleece again so they stay warm throughout. Another thing that happens during shearing day and a few other times if needed is that we give them shots to help keep away the worms and clip their toenails to help stop them from catching them on stuff in the field that they spend most of their day in.

Alpacas are kind of funny creatures but they can always make us laugh, and though they can be skiddish and are prey animals, (so like you can’t hug them or anything), they still show us love and we love and take care of them as much as we do cows.