Farm Life

A Day in the Life: What I’m decent at and how I fail daily.

If you think about it, we’re asked quite frequently, “What do you do?”. I assume this to be regarding employment, and when I worked in media and events, it was easy to answer. Or even thinking back to college at Drake University, I could say I “…studied Public Relations and played softball”. Once I became a Mom and decided to resign from my office job… the title “Stay at Home Mom” never seemed to fit exactly what in the hell I was doing everyday. On the farm, every dang day is different, so it is really hard to be as specific as people want you to be.
I’ve never been uncomfortable talking about what I do, or feeling less than because I did this-or-that. People are genuinely curious, and like to make small talk, which I think is fun. So, while I typically quickly and casually answer this LOADED question… here’s a bit bigger dive (trust me there’s much more, but we don’t have all day do we?) into what I do on the daily throughout the year. Good, bad, embarrassing and ugly.

Here we go:

I make breakfast for my kids in hopes that they leave some leftovers for me.
I have also been known to indulge in a slice of pie for breakfast, leaving me sicker than a dog by the end of Crossfit. This move really impresses my coaches. I have yet to puke, but at this rate… it will happen.
If I get to go out and do something that requires a hair-do, I’m using hairspray. Plenty of it.
When I am helping my Dad I literally have to shut my phone off so I don’t screw anything up.
I chant to myself regularly: “don’t mess up, don’t mess up, don’t mess up…”.
Humans aren’t the only ones that need me. I take care of pigs every day. I feed them, water them, clean up their poop, watch them to make sure they are feeling well. It is actually much like having kids.
I bake pies for my Dad to share with the nice people we farm with.
It never fails, he always calls me to do this (pies = 3 hours cinnamon rolls = 4 hours) when I am so freaking busy. I seriously don’t think he knows how long it takes. But I always say yes.
For some reason, people believe in me enough to let me speak in front of a crowd and sign cookbooks that actually  have my recipes in them.
Even though I swear like a sailor when we are unloading straw and on other certain occasions.
Yes, it is a flaw, a terrible one.
While we are on the topic of my shortcomings: I suck at interpreting hand signals when we are in the field. My Dad is notorious for using these, and it frustrates me to no end. I am a terrible mind reader. I’d rather pick up my phone and call him. He obliges, and answers to let me know the secret message of his homemade hand signals (but I can HEAR his eyes roll over the phone sometimes.)
He also loathes me taking his picture. I frequently have to LIE about what I’m doing to get the sneaky-not-set-up ones. I usually say I’m having phone troubles or sending an email.
HOWEVER, this year this set-up picture landed a spot in a photo contest and won the grand prize.
He tolerates pictures now because I make him a giant photo book for Christmas each year, he enjoys it quite a bit.
I love coaching softball and still have a solid book of pitching lesson clients. I have a mound at my house where I instruct girls from age 8-22.
My favorite client: my daughter.
I dress up, put on makeup and go sit in tractors for photo shoots. No, this isn’t a daily occurrence of course, but it always feels silly to sit in a tractor and not accomplish anything.
I also give my friends tours of our farm and let their kids drive the tractors too.
And during various times of the year I actually drive that tractor, working alongside my Dad… with both kids inside. We listen to the radio REALLY LOUD (when we are sitting and waiting or have to drive a ways out into the field to catch a load of grain)… I always MUTE it if he calls me on the phone. I don’t want him to think I’m anything but laser focused. Don’t rat me out, ok?
Illusion of the pig show pictures: Just-jumped-in-the-car hair is fresh, makeup is decent. “Let’s take a picture before Mommy loses it.”
WPX Show Day
Reality: “Why in the hell am I wearing my hair down, I have sweat in places that I shouldn’t. This is bad.”
WPX Show
The Glory of Being a Competition Food Judge: The pre-event photo opp, everyone patting one another on the back for skipping a meal to judge. So fun, so cute and my Spanx aren’t even tight… YET.
Sutter Home Build a Better Burger May 2015 Judges Picture
Iowa State Fair Pie Competition Judging Fail: Skipping breakfast then eating 4 whole slices of pie in the first class (Coconut Cream, HELLO its my fave) and being physically ill by the end of the competition. Hopefully this year, I will learn from this mistake. I still thank sweet baby Jesus that I didn’t have to judge the Mincemeat class.
I work unreasonably hard to save fall-behind piglets. Some that really don’t have a chance for various reasons. It takes a ton of my time. (This was Tuffy, you can read about her story here.)
I cry ugly tears if they don’t make it. Ugly tears.
I take pictures throughout the day to document what on Earth I accomplished and hope one may turn out well enough to post on social media or on my blog.
Most of them turn out like this:
But then, a few turn out like this: (*it should be noted that my bro-in-law HATES it when I follow him around snapping pics, but he tolerates it.)
Truth: I have so many damn pictures of pigs on my phone it nearly pisses me off.
Reality: But that’s likely because I spend more time with pigs than I do some of my family.
You’ll find me working through recipes, daily. Little hands can make more work… but it is fun.
And finally:
I get crapped on. Literally. (I have a Christmas light necklace on, yes I do.)
Moral of the story, I don’t have a glamorous life for sure… but just like any other Mom, I wouldn’t trade any of this craziness for the world.

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  • Reply juliabarrett May 13, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    What a great post. You’ve outdone yourself. I love this post. Sending it to my daughters – one is married to a cattle rancher, the other plays softball! A million miles on my car – travel ball.

  • Reply ceil slings May 13, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    I love this story.

  • Reply Lisa B May 14, 2016 at 12:04 am

    This is my favorite post ever. Only you can pull off looking so damn beautiful when working worh pigs.

  • Reply Beth Ann May 14, 2016 at 11:55 am

    You are so beautiful –inside and out. And I suspect hauling straw bales would make me swear like a sailor as well. Thanks for a glimpse into your life. :-)

  • Reply Alicia Schmitt May 14, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Love this post Cristen! I think everyone needs to hear how similar (and different) pig farmers are to everyone else!

  • Reply Kelli @ The Sustainable Couple May 17, 2016 at 12:29 am

    Your days sound absolutely fulfilling, girl!

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