Well this is certainly long overdue.
But isn't that just that way -- those that do the most, that hold it all together -- that do the real work of -- everything -- don't get the credit they deserve. The accolades, the attention -- goes to knuckleheads like me -- the ones out talking.
But who milks the cows when I'm on the phone now almost every moment of every day? Who fills the meat orders for customers? Who feeds the kids and makes sure the homework gets done? Who makes sure the calves have feed and pasture and are all looking good? Who makes sure Scott isn't being an ass?
My wife Julie of course. And every one of you needs to know that the source of any strength, anything I have that is good -- comes from her quiet strength. We are Team Trautman: and although my role might be in the "vision" department, Julie is in "operations", and we all know "visions" without "operations" is "damn foolishness".
So let me tell you about Julie, and how very blessed I am that she would be here by my side to share this life.
Julie and I met -- at our 10 year high school reunion, in 1992. (you do the math) We had gone to the same high school - even the same college, but had different paths. It shouldn't surprise anyone that I was more of the geeky sort. But she was always nice, and said hi, but we didn't talk -- until this reunion. Why there? God. That's why. But we had some sort of connection -- she was out in Seattle, me in Milwaukee at the time, and over the next year, we talked long distance, I visited her, she me -- and we decided to give this a shot. And of course that didn't mean me move there -- but her move here. And then within six months I made her move again, this time to Madison, to follow my career at the time.
We married in 1997, she was working -- supporting our household -- while I was building an Internet business. By 1998 our first son was born, Ian. In 2000 our second son, Quinn, was born, and in around that time we decided to start looking for a farm. Not to farm, but as a "guilded cage" - for me -- in my Internet work work it seemed I could not leave without some bizarre thing happening that only I could fix.
It took us quite a while -- and Julie was the organizer, she would have her stack of listings -- and we would drive on weekends to see farms. And eventually -- me having resisted this particular farm we are on - for 6 months -- but Julie refusing to take it out of the pile -- we looked in this north window into the house -- and we both knew this was it, this was our farm. We moved in on May 16th 2003. I know this because it was our first Stoughton Syttende Mai, our local celebration of our Norwegian heritage.
There was quite a bit of unhappiness from me from the Internet business; a lot of that weight born by Julie -- and my children. We farmed on a very small scale, learning so much, making small mistakes, learning what we liked and didn't. In 2003 our daughter, Lilly was born: the first to live all her life on the farm. And in 2004 I sold the Internet business, and we dedicated ourselves to farming 100%.
Every family eases into a comfort zone in their 'roles' - every family is different. And there has sure been discomfort in the settling into those roles, and they still change. They may be changing again soon, depending on how this whole raw milk situation works out. But throughout our history together -- Julie has stuck by my side, and been the yin to my yang, my muse. So much different than me -- not better, or worse, but different, and so full of love, and patience -- and humor. I can't forget her humor -- we laugh so much around here -- I am a total goofball -- but Julie is REALLY funny because it's not all the time -- it's a goofy look here, a silly comment there.
I am a dreamer. A "big ideas" person. Will it surprise anyone that not every idea I have is a nugget of gold? Perhaps another kind of nugget? If left to my own devices, I would follow some of these less than gold nuggets. But Julie -- has the critical role of sense-maker. Scott, we both know I'm going to end up DOING this, WHY should I agree to this? So then I think about it some more, and we argue about it -- and ultimately I do make a case or it gets dropped. We figure it out together.
This farm was my dream -- not Julie's -- and as I like to say - if I had sprung all this on her -- how life would be -- she'd have long since run far far away. But we took it slow -- proved it all to ourselves. Dairy is a great example: Scott: "Let's milk cows!". Julie: No!. Scott: C'mon, just one cow, I'll milk her, we'll drink the milk, it'll take 20 minutes a day (along with other details she would make me tell and prove). Okay -- 1 cow. And that worked. "How about 4 now?". Julie: No. Scott: Here's the plan....
So now today we milk 25 cows -- and like yesterday -- Julie milked 23 of them while I was on the phone to umpteen people, serving in my role -- that both Julie and I understand is necessary -- to win this war Food Safety and DATCP has on family farmers - she quietly, without (much) complaint, does her work and mine -- knowing that is how it has to be for now, yet again her quiet strength.
Okay men -- time to thank your wives. Maybe it is gems and jewels, or like Julie -- this year she asked for a single axle milk truck for her birthday - thinking family - to save our dairy. 2 years ago? It was Shem our beautiful Jersey bull. Yes, folks, I am a total clod of a husband and deserve a beating. But in the farm families I know -- this is common -- the strength of the whole family turns on the woman of the family - the men are all self-important, and we think we run the show, and we're all about this "vision" or whatever self important thing we think we are -- but it is our wives that have been throughout time -- been the strength, and what gives our farm its life - its personality - brings us our success -- and most importantly our happiness.
Thank you Julie, thank you to every farm mom - farm wife -- FARMER out there. Without you there is no life on the farm. God bless us all, and let's take that time to tell your wife just how very important and loved she is. And for criminy sakes, give her a day to herself every so often.
Scott Trautman - Proud Wisconsin Dairyman - Citizen -- and at least adequate husband and father.