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Veteran Advisor

From the parlor pit with a christmas story 12-24

Snow in North Iowa this morning about 8 inches it looks to me.  We've gotten the milk truck in and out already so that is one less thing to think about. A heifer calved last night also. Both are fine. 


The markets seem to be coming back. Mostly over supply concerns Which have yet to fully materialize but they certainly are looming.  Many dairy farmers are in the hioliday mode right now. doing only the "have to chores"  The markets are closed today as traders scurry about to get to their destinations for the festivities of this weekend.

Feb. futures closed up 10 cents yesterday and the futures show that they are betting on higher prices in the summer.  There seems to be little desire of most guys to start buyuing any puts going into the summer by the lack of activity on the board for April on.  Blocks closed the day unchanged which with the closeness to theholidays it is not a time for major moves in the supply chain.


Tomorrow is Christmas. If you haven't gotten your gifts well you got less than 24 hours.  There will be time for reflection on the past year and pronastications of the new year nest week. But today and tomorrow I will spending time with family. Last week my kids were asking about past Christmas's when I was a kid I told them this story and I thought I would share it with you. Enjoy your time with your close friends and family.


A  Christmas story

A few weeks ago my wife and I were talking about money (  we were having one of those marital moments) When she said something that stirred up some old memories.  She is a farm girl, who grew up on a central Iowa farm.  She said “I just don’t want to go thru last year or the 80’s all over again”.

I remember the 80’s well.

My parents didn’t have farms that they could go back to my maternal grandpa’s greatest claim was being a bootlegger and having a small truck farm. My dad’s dad was a small town preacher who farmed as well. 

When they got married they farmed rented places and would just work hard and move to better farms as they came available.  In the late 70’s they were able to purchase a dairy farm.  Soon after, expansion ensued and the farm grew. But the late 70’s where much like today’s milk markets, there was also wild inflation along with always increasing costs and high interest rates.  All of those things were difficult to bear but when the grain embargo came it was the last straw.  Dad and mom were victims of youthful optimism and bad timing.

Having been one of the last in they, were one of the first out.

I can remember the fall day when the FHA guy came with the semi’s to take the cattle and then the machinery.  I went to school that morning after I hung a sign on my favorite calf’s pen asking them to leave her and when I got home the whole farm was missing every animal that I had come to love.  I was heart broken.

My dad was very quite and mom was very short with my sister and I.

Just before thanksgiving my mom and dad told us that we had to move and dad had gotten a job in another state several hundred miles away from home.   He was going to manage a hog farm.  He brought back the hog farms truck and gooseneck trailer to haul our belongings that we had left down to this new place.  He drove the truck and trailer and mom and we kids followed in the 4 door light blue Chevy caprice.  The world that a nine year old farm boy had known , vanished as we headed south.

We left our farm house and moved into a two bedroom trailer house on the hog farm.

Thanksgiving was very simple.  There was snow though, and my sister and I began to ask about Christmas.   Well dad and mom took us to a small grove of trees and we cut our tree.   It was the first time I remember my dad laughing in months.

We were out in this wood lot looking for a nice tree and somehow we got split up,   Mom and my sister Jenn went one way and dad and I went the other.  Dad and I met some hunters out in the woods who warned us to be careful.  My Dad told them his wife and daughter were in the grove and that my Mom had on a bright red coat.   We all were reunited and we found our tree. Dad drug it back to the truck and we went home and decorated the tree.  It was the first time I felt normal since the cows left.   That night I remember my sister and I talking about Christmas presents and if we would get any.  We finally went to sleep mostly wondering if it was OK to ask about what we might get.

We were in a new school and we didn’t know anyone.  All day long kids would spend time in our elementary class talking about what they would get for Christmas.   When they would ask me I would say all the hottest toys of the day.  But what I really wanted was a Lego set. 

We kept getting a lot of snow and we were now going to a nice little church so it seemed we were getting back to normal.  But Christmas wasn’t far away and I knew that mom and dad didn’t have much money for gifts. But a couple days before Christmas a few packages did appear under the tree.  My sister and I were so excited.   Then Christmas morning came and like all young children we were so excited. 

My Dad got back in from doing chores and we sat down on our brown sofa and Dad handed out the loot to my sister and I.  We didn’t have many packages maybe 2 or 3 and our stockings.  Dad said open them up and we tore right into them.  I only remember one thing I got for that Christmas….. A LEGO set. Oh Boy! It had enough blocks to make a helicopter and a car.  The major color of the bricks was red with yellow, black, and white.   I remember looking to see what my sister got but I don’t remember what it was now. I looked over at my parents who weren’t able to give each other a gift that day but they both beamed with pride as they saw our happiness. I also saw a small tear coming from my Mom’s eye.

That day with out the familiarity of extended family and the bustle of getting to Grandma’s house I realized it was going to be OK.  I walked over and gave my parents a hug only later truly understanding the sacrifice that my parents went through to give us this little bit of tradition. When I got done squeezing my Dads big neck and giving my mom a kiss on the cheek I asked dad to build something with me.  He got down on the floor in that new to us trailer house and helped me build something with my first ever Lego set.   That was 29 years ago on Christmas day.  I only remember with a lot of fondness three Christmas’s from my child hood one when I was six,  this one and maybe I’ll tell you about the last one next year.  

Christmas morning I will get up and I will say good morning to dad and we will milk our cows together and that will still be a joyful day for a boy and his Dad! After that I will rush down to my in-laws who are still in that central Iowa farm house and enjoy some more family traditions and make new memories that generations will cherish for years to come.  If you asked my parents I’ll bet they would say that was one of the worst Christmas ever. But for me it is one of my all time favorites. Merry Christmas from the parlor pit!    


Be Safe JR

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5 Replies

Re: From the parlor pit with a christmas story 12-24

Great story JR. I can recall many a lean year in my childhood and have since marveled what my parents did to provide, especially at Christmas. Mrs. J and I milked in a nine stanchion flat barn, and one of the Christmas treats for the cows was to sprinkle some molassess coated calf starter on their feed, which they always seemed to enjoy.


Thanks for sharing..


Ray J

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Esteemed Advisor

Re: From the parlor pit with a christmas story 12-24

Hat's off to a family that has the daily dairy duty---we also had our 80's financial reality check---but added backbone and perseverance which has made me "respect my parents-grandparents" struggle of the 1930's--also my wife agrees with yours--imagine that jr---just got 1-2 here in northeast NE where we live--have a blessed holiday --the good Lord in a manger--He kept it pretty simple-! -! 

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Senior Advisor

Re: From the parlor pit with a christmas story 12-24

What a great tale! As one that went through those times I can fully relate to your parents stressful time. What a wonderful tribute to your parents for trying to make your christmas enjoyable under unpleasant circumstances. You sound like a fellow that loves his family and understands what your parents went through.


This reenforces my argument that many good people suffered through the most difficult times and were not out to game the system or cheat others in the process.. Sometime bleep happens  and there is no sinister plot involved.


Thank you for sharing.

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Re: From the parlor pit with a christmas story 12-24

Very touching JR.  I know full well the problems of that era.  You and your dad can be proud.

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Frequent Contributor

Re: From the parlor pit with a christmas story 12-24

Thank you for sharing, JR. Things like that influence a persons perspective for life and I will remember this when I read your future posts.  Toyour credit, you have worked your way back into a 2 family dairy. Thats a story for another day?

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