As the holiday season comes to an end, I find myself looking back over the last few weeks and thinking, “What a whirlwind!”. Balancing work and family time with life and traveling around the holidays. One thing I have learned over the years is life on a dairy makes the holidays a little different than most people’s. There is no paid time off or paid holidays for dairy producers. Work continues as usual on the dairy, making things a little non-traditional. For starters, I have never wished for a white Christmas. While the farmer in me is always glad when we get some moisture here in New Mexico, the dairy side of me knows that it just means extra work for everyone. As a kid, all my friends would dream of snow on Christmas. All I could think was, snow means no presents until Christmas afternoon because my dad would have to work a little longer. As is, we waited to open presents until after all the morning chores were done. And you just had to hope everything went smoothly.
It seems like dairy parents get a little extra creative to help their kids with the waiting. In our family, we got to open our stockings first thing in the morning. We didn’t have to wait for my parents. This meant dad could head to the dairy, and we left my mom alone while she started breakfast. For my dad, when he was young, he opened all his presents on Christmas Eve. Talk about making the other kids at school jealous. He would get to say that Santa came a whole day early because he had to milk on Christmas morning! For my husband and his family, he also got to open stockings first thing. He remembers being excited when Santa brought him a new pair of warm, work gloves. It made dairy chores seem a little better!
With dairy farming being a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job, producers also have to balance daily work with employees taking time off for the holidays. The cows still have to be feed and cared for even on Christmas. But obviously, people want to have time off for family and for travel. With employees taking off, it often leaves the producer to pick up the slack, meaning less time off for themselves. I have never been out of town on Christmas. Not once. But to be honest, I am perfectly ok with it. Our employees work hard for us and to care for our cows. I think it is important and just part of owning a dairy to be there. My husband and I are really blessed that both our families are close by so we can work it out to see almost everyone while staying to home. Not everyone has that. Most people have to travel to see family for the holidays. This year though, my family did things a little different. We took off to visit family and have our Christmas the week before. We headed out west to warmer weather (or so we thought). We saw some of our family and spent a couple days at Disneyland! It poured rained and two kids got the stomach flu. So while it was less than ideal, we actually had the best time! A little rain was not going to stop us from loving the happiest place on earth. I hope you enjoy some of the photos we took on the trip. (And be sure to check out the awesome t-shirts my sister in law designed…Cow spotted Mickey ears with “Moo-ry Christmas”.)
Back to the holiday weather… I mentioned snow a little bit above, but why do the holidays fall in the middle of winter? You can have all the plans in the world and think you have everything set with your schedule, and then BAM…a snow storm. And just like that everything changes because it is all hands on deck. Last year, for us here in New Mexico, it was unlike any other snow storm. Winter storm Goliath hit the day after Christmas. While no amount of preparing would have us ready for what would come, it didn’t help that many of us, our families and employees were off for the holidays. And many of them were stranded wherever they were when the storm hit. New Mexico basically shut down for a week. No one in or out. Hopefully, you liked whatever family you were visiting because you were stuck! While our storm was out of the ordinary, many producers in the Midwest and East regularly deal with planning for storms in the midst of the holidays.
As my husband and I are in the earlier years of starting our family, we are still working out our own family traditions. I know we will have to figure out a way to juggle it all without taking the magic out of Christmas. But we all know that this is just part of life on a dairy. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year and enjoyed every minute with your family and loved ones. Feel free to share some of your family traditions in the comments below!
Moo-ry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
New Mexico Milkmaid