Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Living my American Dream...

Imagine a little blond girl, on her little pony
with red wheels, cruising thru the kitchen. A
strange man comes in and tells her about a
spider.She has NO clue what he is talking about
because she is Dutch…and Dutch people do
not speak English. But she just KNOWS it is
a scary thing, a big problem! This was the
very first word she learned in the English

Couple of years later when this little blond girl
turned into a taller, skinny blond girl that man
showed up again in the kitchen.
He turned out to be her dad’s younger brother,
and tells her about America…. About the
endless roads, the proud mentality, the friendliness
of the people, the green pastures and the horses
he loves so much.

This blond girl knows what she wants,
(read this as: she’s incredibly stubborn and
hard headed), and she decided to go to the
land of endless possibilities and discover it
for herself. And she did, after three months
spending time on her aunt and uncle’s horse
farm in Michigan; she came home to the
Netherlands and told her mom and dad,
“When I grow up I’m going to move to
The States!!!

She went to high school, focusing on horses
and cows. Went to College, focusing again on
horses and cows and finally to University to
study Agricultural Economics and to get her
teaching degree. She visited America as much
as she could during school breaks. During this
time she worked to get the right papers so
she would have a better shot at being able to come
to this great country. Her mom was terribly sick,
which made it very hard for her dad to run the family
operated hog farm and to raise three “little” kids.
The family held it together as good as they could
but because of the “Swine Fever,” that went all
through Europe in 1997, the farm ended. ..

Her dad always dreamed of having a dairy
farm. When he was a young man himself he
wanted to milk cows, but after meeting and
marrying her mom they took over the homestead.
Her mom just loved her family so she said she
would go where ever it would make them happy.
Her brother also was very fond of milking cows
and everything that had to do with agriculture.
He followed his big sister and went to the U.S.
to do some practical training sessions
for College. The youngest sister in this story didn’t
like America at ALL! Even the idea of visiting was
outrageous no matter what kind of fairytale stories
her big sister would tell…

But in 2003 after the blond girl graduated from
University, madly in love with this boy from
the northern part of the country, and who she
told on the first date: “you better believe it, I’m
moving to the States when I got my degree,
even if you come or not!” The family and the
handsome young man made the decision to sign
some papers with a well known Dutch/American
organization, to move to the land where they
would live their American dream and milk
some cows!

Arghhhh, try to get into this country!!!!
It’s grueling!!!

After several years (yes, YEARS) of trying
to sell the farmstead, visa denials, moving
from one friends to another with only the clothes
on your back (because the container with the
rest of you belongings is already packed and
on a ship). And finally visa approvals, saying
goodbye to friends, and the emotional
rollercoaster that you are not a resident of you
birth land any longer but not quite a resident
in the other new land either.

We entered the United States of America on
February the 14th of 2006, with our visas and
hopes for a better and new future. Except
for the younger sister and her boyfriend
(of 9 years), they decided to stay in The
Netherlands. But they did change their minds
about visiting and America!!!

Construction of the dairy started in November
2006 and on the 20th of November 2007 we
milked our first cow, and oh my gosh,
IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!! All the planning,
hiring people, construction problems, start up
problems, documents that needed signed,
restrictions, Indiana Department of Environmental
Management visits, convincing the public: we are
NOT big corporation monsters, just a family who
loves being here, was more than worth it!!!

We are truly BLESSED to milk 2200 cows and
we love every single day of it!

I have grown up quite a bit. I love my
family, friends and all the other people I know
very much. I have learned problems are not
problems, they are just challenges that you
need to overcome. Without learning the
word “spin” in English (spider), I would never
have had the opportunity to live my
American Dream.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dipshits and pressure washers...

This is a older post i posted on my facebook and hyves page in 2009.
Because i got great responces i'm putting it up again on blogger.

Have Fun!

As of November 9th 2009 I’m officially healthy!

The reason being: the didn’t find anything in my head and that I’m a blond, doesn’t have anything to do with it…

This means we do not have to go to the oncologist, dermatologist, gynecologist, ER and eye doctor every week. Now I can get myself together for 3 MONTHS, ahhh, live is good, before I have to go back! This means let’s kick some booty…

So in order to do that, I figured I might get myself useful and start with cleaning things up. You have to set the right example, right? So I got the pressure washer ready and started cleaning. Trying, anyway... We do not have a little pressure washer, it is a big kick ass thing apparently only to use by whom do not just have to do their driveways and cars.

So I turn the thing on and am about to fall in the derbis, of course for the obvious reason, it hasn’t been cleaned yet. I get myself back up straight and started… I’m a very impatient person, so it is nice to see immediate result. Not that it was that dirty but it is like when you paint, you notice the difference.

a clean milking palor

Next thing I know our guys (who were suppose to clean in the first place) are standing there, watching me handle that pressure washer… Yeah, funny thing... little girl, big pressure washer…
I could’ve kicked their booty’s right there, but I figured it is better to do that in a meeting with some proper translation (Spanish, yeah, working on it) and get some actual results instead of just some snickering and more funny jokes.

Next day I’m walking like an 80 year old woman, with walking stick, feeling terrible everywhere, knowing I didn’t kick nobody’s booty but mine. And yes, big pressure washers are for big guys not little girls who are just recovering from chemo…

A girl and her bathtub...

Being a farmer doesn’t mean I’m less of a girl/woman. It is hard to say what I am, being 31 doesn’t qualify me as a woman because I look like a 20 year old (at least that’s what I think, on a good sunny, my hair does exactly what I want day) but am not a girl anymore either, I’m married after all…
Being a girl in a men’s world makes it even harder. It wasn’t easy in college and university, being in a classroom where they are just one or two other girls, out of the 40 guys; it is even harder in the real world.

First off; they (the men) do not believe you… Imagine going into a meeting about management and hoof trimming, they think you are the wife of a farmer, and believe me that is by far, the best category you can fall into. So… you do not qualify as somebody with any kind of knowledge or expertise, so they think they do not have talk about cow stuff with you. And so you sit alone in a meeting until you find a sweet farmers wife OR heaven forbid another girl/woman that IS a farmer herself!

Second; they do not take you seriously.
When they do find out you are the farmer instead of the farmer’s wife, girlfriend, or bunny hugger, maybe they will talk to you and ask you some serious questions. And I have to admit the “older” gentlemen amongst us seem to be much MORE acceptable of a women then the younger generation. Wonder why…
Mostly it starts with talking about calves, maybe every girl or women is supposed to like small animals? And I have to admit, I think they are really cute, especially when I see them at somebody else’s farm!

Third; they are scared.
When you are milking over 2000 cows and you just started, never milked a cow of you own in your whole life before. And you are able to make deals they haven’t been able make with all their manly powers, and you are enjoying yourself immensely, I can understand why some men are a bit afraid of you.

Of course with social media coming up it is much easier for me to get some really good feedback, we pose ourselves on the internet, on twitter ,facebook or any other media and most people assume you are a guy, so they will talk to you and answer your questions and value you opinion. By the time they figure out you are a woman, most do not really care no more because they see you as a person with a reasonable opinion and some (I hope) decent advice.

But luckily for me we are blessed with great guys here in Indiana! They are maybe a bit scared, wary and a bit suspicious at first but that is ok! If you do not know me, or any other girl or woman that shows up at your door step and starts talking about milk quality, conception rates, breeding possibilities and the quality of the crops last year, I would be a bit confused too! But almost all the men I have met since we have moved to this great country have proven to me that there is a way for somebody new no matter if you are a boy or a girl, from China, Africa or the Netherlands, to get accepted here into the dairy industry. And I am most grateful for that.

I really think that if I would have stayed in The Netherlands it would have been different. Most Americans tend to be much more open minded and acceptable to change then they think they are!
Of course everything has to come from two sides but I am really happy with the men I have met in de dairy industry so far.

I didn’t tell you about the advantages yet, and wherever there are disadvantages there are advantages!
I never have to wait in line going to the bathroom when we have a meeting. I usually do not have to work the evening or night shift. And heavy lifting, some sweet guy who sees me struggling will rush over and take over. Also most of the men are really polite and even if you make them really, really mad, they still are nice or at least try to be really nice.
And sometime a little smile and a wink can make life so much easier….

Together you can get things done that at first may seem impossible.

So Wednesday nights I will lay down in my bathtub, get a good scrubbing, put some girly clothes on (not the coveralls rubber boots and a hat), blow-dry my hair and put some make-up on to watch America’s next top model and think about the past week and about all the wonderful men I have in my life, who I work with and who I respect. I have to admit, it is pretty SWEET being a girl in a men’s world!