Everyone Shits

Far too often we hear stories of suicide. My hope for this essay is that it can reach just ONE person who needs to hear what I have to say.

2018 has been the hardest year of my life, thus far. If you have been following me then you know I lost a baby and a marriage within a short amount of time. What I have failed to mention is why the loss of marriage. (That list is far too abundant to go through point by point.)

About this time last year, I noticed that my ex’s depression seemed to be spiraling out of control. So his family and I staged an intervention, of sorts. We made him go to the doctor to seek help. Little did I know, he was already self medicating and we all should have realized that someone who doesn’t see they have a problem will never face it. Naturally, he didn’t stay on his antidepressants and in November when I am going through my ectopic pregnancy saga (go read it) he had his first real mental break and had to go into the hospital for 24 hour observation over Thanksgiving. They blamed it on him quitting his antidepressants cold turkey, which I bought for about a week.

After that episode he seemed to be a little better. He was far more paranoid about everything but he was no longer speaking in tongues, so hell, I thought we were on the right track. Right up until about a week after my surgery he yanks me off the couch by my hair and into the dining area. I am a week out of surgery, I fought back but how much strength did I really have? That moment solidified it for me, I was done! I had financially supported him for three years, emotionally did what I could for a crazy person and this is the thanks I get? Me, wishing I could shave my head so he wouldn’t have something to grab a hold of? “This can’t be my life…” I would think constantly from that point.

His rage continued to worsen, he threw me through walls, busted my lips, all the typical things. I continued to look for ways to get myself out of this without making things worse. I am sure you are thinking why didn’t you just leave? My answer is this… Until you are in that position yourself, you have no idea what you will do. I had always been the same way, “JUST LEAVE” I thought I would tell someone. But it was my name on the title of the trucks, it was my name on the deed of the ranch, I had everything financed, I was the one who worked hard for it, it was MINE! And I am the one who would have had to deal with the repercussions of financial ruin had it all fallen apart. I got myself into this mess and I’ll be damned if I can’t find my way out of it.

One morning in March, while in New Mexico for work, I get a phone call from him speaking in tongues again. Apparently, he had all 5 of his hunting rifles with him, he had bought cattle for a guy who didn’t want them and killed his dog that was in the bed of the truck, that was also stuck in a ditched because he had ran off the road.  What an actual shit show, I know.

Long story short… He was sent to a mental health facility in Kansas where they diagnosed him with Schizophrenia.  Once out of the hospital he quit taking his meds and ended up right back in another. That’s when the nurse called to tell me to take “every precaution necessary because he WILL kill you.” I haven’t had a good nights sleep since April 23, 2018.

I harbor a lot of shame and resentment for what I allowed to happen to me. And I use the word ‘allow’ because, had I not let my pride get in my way, there were so many people who would have helped me. I was too proud. I look at myself as a bright, energetic, intelligent, beautiful woman, how was I going to explain to someone that I let a man put his hands on me?

A few months ago the Lord sent me a guiding light, if you will. I will leave her unnamed because she has her own story to tell. I will be forever grateful that she was introduced to me when she was because she undeniably helped guide me through the rockiest terrain of this journey. She didn’t have to, she had her own shit! But she did without reservation. I want to do the same by sharing my story.

There were literally nights throughout this last year I didn’t know if I was going to live to see daylight. Terrifying to say the least. So as much as we’d like to think otherwise, just like everyone shits, everyone HAS their shit. No one is perfect, no one lives a perfect life. We do what we can to make it to another day. If you are struggling, I promise someone will listen.

If I could turn back the hands of time, I’d do a lot of things differently. By writing and putting this out in the world, I am letting go of my pride and accepting all the judgment that is to follow. You can’t unring a bell.

Thank you for taking the time to read a short verse of my story. There is a lot more left in my book.

Stay Golden,

Abbi

 

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Loss

It’s Mother’s Day weekend and I am struggling a little.

In November, I suffered the loss of a baby.

I didn’t know I was pregnant, nor was I planning to be. It was all a shock.  My doctor didn’t even think I could get pregnant, how could I have an ectopic pregnancy? It was probably one of the most traumatic experiences I have ever gone through. I was in physical pain before emergency surgery and I was mentally drained after.

I was in Canada for the Royal Winter Fair and had just started a new job when I started to not feel well. My Aunt Judy was gearing up for a double mastectomy and I had been to nearly every chemo treatment with her all summer long. There was no time for me to be sick! My pain steadily got worse for two weeks before I decided to break down and go to the emergency room the weekend before Thanksgiving. There, they ran labs and discovered I was pregnant. The doctor had asked me several times if I could be pregnant and I said “no way.” Boy, I was wrong.

I immediately broke down in tears the moment she told me I was pregnant. It was the most surreal feeling. I was glad to know I could at least get pregnant but I already knew it wasn’t going to be a real baby, that it wasn’t a viable pregnancy. I just knew, I was in too much pain. The doctor took my hand and asked if there was someone I could call… so I called Brandon, my ex-husband.

I knew he would be devastated. A baby is all that he had wanted since before we were married but he knew with my history a baby would be difficult to have.

By the time Brandon arrived at the hospital I had gained my composure. I could hear his spurs jingling down the hall and my anxiety started to rise. I knew I was about to break his heart. When our eyes met I said “I am pregnant… the baby isn’t viable…” He instantly turned around and walked out of the room. About 5 minuets later he came back, I could tell he had been crying. He said, I’m sorry babe. I love you. We will get through this.

Sunday my Mom arrives and her presence made me feel better. And on Monday we spend all day at the doctors office in Tulsa waiting for a shot of methotrexate… Brandon is really struggling at this point. I can tell this is way more for him to handle than it is for me, and I am the one experiencing it!

A week later I am still not better, so back to the doctor we go. They decide to admit me into the hospital right away for emergency surgery to “flush out” my left tube. They believe they can save it. I spent over 24 hours in the hospital before they got me in for surgery. In the recovery room they told me that the damage was too sever and they had to remove the entire left tube, but they saved the ovary (which would be good in case I needed IVF).

I felt like a new person after surgery. I was in no more pain! I had forgotten what it felt like to be normal.

During all of this I never felt sad or thought about it as “losing a baby”. I think it was because I was in so much pain and didn’t really have time to mourn it in that way and because I grew up on a farm. Cows abort calves sometimes, it is just nature.

It wasn’t until other pieces of my life started unraveling that I started to think of it in terms of “Oh, I would be having in a baby in 3 weeks if I were still pregnant.”

I never have been the kind of woman who dreamed of being a wife or a mother. I was probably an emotionally absent wife at best but I think I would be a kick ass mother. I hope someday, someway I have a little person to haul to cow shows, scold for doing the naughty things I did when I was a kid and basically just love as much as I love my dogs.

Things happen for a reason. Maybe I am not meant to be a wife or mother. Maybe I am. Either way, I am who I am now because of the parents who raised me. I have one of the best role models for a mother anyone could have and she’s a great Lolo too.

I hope my experience can help someone else deal with their fertility issues or their own loss of a child. It is something that happens to thousands of women and if you are going through it, you are not alone! There is no right or wrong way to feel.

Life gets shitty sometimes but we always have to try to…

Stay Golden,

Abbi

 

 

 

What life have I lived? 

More than ever this question has been on mind. With the events of this past weekend this is a question we should all reflect upon. 

My childhood was much different from those of my peers. I grew up in a Jewish household in rural America on a farm. (Not many people can say the same.) My childhood gave me the opportunity to grow into the ‘tough as nails’ young woman I’ve come to be. But more than that, it gave me the ability to see the world for what it is. 

Being raised in Jewish household with grandparents who were both German immigrants because of the Holocaust, doesn’t allow you to see things through rose colored glasses. For as long as I can remember I knew of hate. I’d hear of the horrors my Oma and her family endured. I knew why my Opa’s family had to escape nazi Germany. As a child my family would get prank calls asking how many Jews could fit in a Volkswagen. We had pig organs thrown at our house and placed in our mailbox. I’ve been called a “dirty Jew bitch”, among other racial slurs. And this is just to name a few. 

For being a farmer or the daughter of a farmer I’ve been called a murder, calf killer, abuser… 

The two things I have identified myself as my ENTIRE life, people have a problem with. What life have I lived? 

I’ve always tried to live a good life and treat others with respect and build a stable future for Brandon and my future family. We all have a different story that leads us down different paths but we all have people we love. Would you sit idly by if that was your sister killed this last weekend? What if that were your daughter? Does your conscience allow you to make excuses for a punk kid who desecrated a Holocaust memorial? If you allow the hate of one group, it opens the door for hate of another group.

Hitler ruled by dividing the people of his country. This is the United States of America! The GREATEST country in the world! There are so many reasons I’m proud to be an American and this weekend doesn’t change that. We as a people may be confused but we haven’t lost hope. We shouldn’t be scared of our neighbors, we shouldn’t be scared to stand up for what we believe in! The only people who should be scared are those people filled with hate. Love will always prevail!!! There is NO room for white supremacy in my world. YOU WILL LOSE! And once you’ve fallen take the time to reflect and think… what life have I lived? 

Stay Golden, 

Abbi

Our Role in Social Media

(Article I wrote for an Oklahoma Dairy Producers Newsletter)

Everyone knows the video… The cute one of the cows opening gates and frolicking about posted by Animals Australia on May 22nd, 2015. I am sure most of you paid no mind to whom originally posted the video but if you are like me, someone tagged you in the post and shared it to your timeline or maybe you even shared it yourself. This video has gone viral, in the truest sense of the word, and as Dairy Producers we HAVE to quit sharing videos and posts from organizations like Animals Australia.

In the United States we have Mercy for Animals (MFA), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) breathing fire down our necks, Animals Australia falls into a category with them. If you have not heard of these organizations, it is time to do your research because their mission is to put you out of business. They instill fear in consumer by “exposing” the cruel nature in which we treat our animals, spread lies about our products by preaching that milk contains puss and put massive amounts of pressure on legislators to pass laws detrimental to agriculture.

Agriculture has gotten too comfortable playing defense. We always respond when an undercover video is released or a food borne illness breaks out but we don’t play offense and it’s about time we got to it!

When you, as a producer, share videos or posts from organizations like the ones named above you are helping speed along the demise of our industry. Let’s think about it like this, you have a friend on Facebook or Twitter that isn’t involved in agriculture and you share a post from MFA. They watch the video and are intrigued to learn more about the organization. This could go two ways, either that persons say to themselves “Wow, MFA is crazy.” Or “Wow, people in agriculture are cruel to their animals, I don’t think I can trust agriculture anymore.” These groups show Ag at its worst, it is their job to make our industry look bad and you just gave someone an open invitation to check out their page!

If you were one of the people who shared this post, don’t beat yourself up about it. For 2016 let’s all be more cognizant of the information we share on social media regarding agriculture. Now, more than ever, it is important for us to share OUR stories and OUR farms with consumers. Our consumers have the capabilities to find out whatever they want in a matter of seconds, which means if they are googling where milk comes from we want an accurate representation of our industry rather than a PETA video being the first thing that pops up.

Together we can show the greatness of our industry and the compassion we, as producers, have for our land and cattle.

Stay Golden,

Abbi

Another One Bites the Dust

I am a master boycotter…  Now I have another to add to my list, Subway! Subway recently announced they were going to begin serving meats that had never been given antibiotics. Poultry beginning in 2016 with beef and pork to follow within the next 6 years.

As an agriculturalist I believe we should listen to our consumers and give them the products they are requesting but this decision, made by Subway, was not consumer driven… It was driven by activist groups!

Has the American People come to the point where they sit back and let a bunch of people in LA or NYC make their dietary decisions? I am a born and raised Texan residing in Oklahoma where we like our steaks BIG and our vegetables minimal! I was raised to be logical and react to things sensibly. So, if that is the way you really want things than be prepared to pay a premium for your sub! It will cost producers more to produce ‘Antibiotic Free Chicken” the death loss will increase making each individual bird more expensive, the same with cattle and hog producers.

It is my belief that the morally correct and in the best interest of the animal to be treated when sick. To say “never been given antibiotics” leads me to believe you are requesting that farmers and ranchers sit back and let livestock die when they could be saved by a simple little shot!

This card means I have been trained on the importance on handling antibiotics in cattle. I have learned the proper techniques in administering them and have been made aware of withdraw times. You can rest assured that when you are eating beef it is antibiotic free! The fact of the matter is that there are HUGE penalties for any traces of antibiotics in an animal once it has been processed. Farmers and ranchers keep records of vaccinations to ensure no animal will enter the food chain before the withdraw time has passed. 

I want to encourage producers to speak up and speak loudly. Invite people out to the farm/ranch.

Like I have always said: You are your own best advocate!

Stay Golden,

Abbi

STOP IT!

Dairy Pure is currently running an ad that has thoroughly irritated me! They are saying their milk is of the highest quality because of their 5 point purity promise. 1. No artificial growth hormones- You can’t test milk for rBST because it is a naturally occurring hormone. 2. All milk is tested for antibiotics- Yep, that is right! ALL milk is tested before it even leaves the farm… Not just Dairy Pure. 3. Continually quality tested to ensure purity- ALL milk is continually tested! 4. Only comes from cows that are fed a health diet- Nutrition is a key part of all dairies. Cow will not produce milk if they are not fed correctly. 5. Cold shipped fresh from your local dairy- ALL milk comes from local dairies! Define your definition of ‘local’? Some consider in state ‘local’. Some consider 100 miles ‘local’. Some consider a 5 state radius ‘local’. As an industry we are antagonizing consumer fears! STOP IT! There are plenty of ways to market a product without driving unreasonable fears in our consumers. If you can’t figure it out hire me! We as an industry have a big enough battle to fight with anti-production agriculture advocates. We should be working inside each of our commodity groups to figure out ways to come together and spread the TRUTH about what we do and what we represent. Food is all inclusive. We all need it to survive and we are lucky that we live in a country where we have the privilege to choose what we put in our bodies. But food is not a privilege, it is a right! We all have the right to be able to feed our families a safe, health and affordable source of nutrition. This isn’t an ‘Us’ against ‘Them’ battle, it is a battle for the truth. We are our own consumers. We feed each other. We know we are respectable people with the same common goal to produce a safe and healthy product for EVERYONE! It isn’t dairy against dairy or beef against pork. We stand up together for an industry that has paved our future. We are all tired of playing defense, so lets start building a better offense. As always… Stay Golden, Abbi 

Shape Up, Dairy Queen!

We all know I am a self proclaimed Dairy Queen and without a childhood fully immersed in the dairy industry I would not be the person I am today.

Who is that person?

Well I’d say a stubborn, slightly overweight, 25 year old extension agent who is creative beyond words and is the happiest she has ever been in her life living in NE Oklahoma with her ever so handsome cowboy, Brandon.

Now that I am finally settling into the ‘real world’ once again it is time for me to shape up.  For the longest time I have used the excuse that I have too much going on to worry about getting in shape and losing weight…  I don’t seem to be getting any less busy nor do I think life will ever slow down so I guess it is time that I make my health a priority.

Sitting at a desk at OSU and Cargill for the past 3 years was conducive for nothing other than giving me a jelly belly.  When I moved up to the Osage I lost a little weight just being Brandon’s gate opener and a make shift mother to an orphan calf.  Then I started cooking…  Gained a little back…

I like butter and noodles and carbs!!!

Recently I began the Xyngular journey.  Basically, I take a whole bunch of supplements that make me feel really really good and follow a low carb diet!  At first this was SO difficult, plus I was skeptical because nothing I have tried in the past has worked for me, then I finished the first eight days and was down five whole pounds!

The past two weeks I have been bad and not watched my diet as closely as I should have but I had no weight gain.  I kept the five pounds off!

This has really helped my motivation!  Not only for losing weight but to shape up in all aspects of my life.  Over the last few weeks I have realized that when you are happy and doing good in one aspect of life you get a snowball effect into the rest of your life.  You work better, your relationships become stronger, you are a better person all around.

EVERYTHING GETS SO GOOD!

I don’t know if it is the XR2 that has me feeling so happy or what but I don’t really give a damn because whatever it is, it’s working!

It is all a mind set, you just have to decided you are going to make a change for you and no one else.

It is always good to have a strong support system and between Brandon and my friends, I know there won’t be any room for failure.  I know if I were left to my own devices then I would surly fail.  I am the kind of person who gets real gungho and then the new wears off and I quit…  Yea, Brandon doesn’t go for such nonsense.

So my challenge to all of y’all is to take June 1 (TODAY) as the start date to whatever needs to improve in your life and #SHAPEUP! Use the hashtag #SHAPEUP to share your stories with me and others as we shape up together.  It is all about support, remember?

Stay Golden,

Abbi

Running Circles

I don’t consider myself a feminist, because I do like Brandon to open my pickle jars for me, but I do consider myself a proponent of women, especially in agriculture.

How many of you work or have worked in an environment where you clearly felt like the men around you put themselves on a pedestal above you?  How many of you are more educated than those men?

It is so frustrating to me that a you can have a masters degree but since you don’t have the right plumbing you will automatically be over looked.  Now I know this doesn’t happen all of the time but it does happen!  Our industry has made great strides when it comes to the inclusion of women, but it’s 2015 for Pete’s sake! It is about time!

Being a woman in agriculture means that I have to be on top of my game 100% of the time.  I find that where it may be okay for a male peer not be sure about something it is not okay for me to be unaware.  I get my competency challenged if I say “I don’t know but I will get back to you” where a male would be applauded for his ‘hunting’ efforts.  Better than that is when someone uses me being a woman as an excuse for me not knowing. “Oh, she’s a woman, it’s okay that she doesn’t know.

Ummm… NO!

I might not have your answer currently, because I didn’t major in agronomy (or whatever), but you can bet I will have an answer for you as soon as possible.

I believe an individual should be judged based upon their skills rather than their sex.

I haven’t lived on my family’s farm in quite a while but I assure you my dad had no problem putting me to work when I did.

I think that daddies that caudal their daughters and don’t make them work are doing them a HUGE disservice.  You are showing them that there are gender specific roles in life and there sure as hell SHOULD NOT BE!  I have always worked along side men and will always work along side them.

Typically women get paid $0.75 to the $1.00 that men do.  Is it fair? No.  Is it going to change?  I am sure it will someday.  Until then, I will continue to run circles around the guys earning my pay.  🙂

Bless their hearts.

Stay Golden,

Abbi