Writing Chose Me

Saturday, June 08, 2013
by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

I didn’t choose writing. Writing chose me. I didn’t understand this fully until I talked to a handsome farmer. I live in Wisconsin and in addition to being a writer, wife, and mother, I am a dairy farmer. Since we own a family farm I am aware of the mentality “why should we help support the farmers? and “they knew what they were getting into when they chose that job. This really made me think.

As a junior in high school, I sat down with a career catalog from the local college. I chose a major of accounting because I liked numbers, scored well in my classes, and I liked the starting salary Had my husband done something similar? Did he read about the danger of climbing a silo, the endless hours, the possibility of a complete loss from drought, and then decide the meager salary made it all worthwhile? Did he somehow miscalculated and not realized he would be working for less than three dollars an hour with absolutely no chance for a vacation?

I poured two cups of coffee and headed out to the barn. My husband was just hooking up the mixer to the tractor. He was tired and dirty. It was only mid-afternoon and he had already delivered two calves, milked 97 cows, bedded heifers, called the mink ranch to pick up an animal that was diagnosed with cancer, and here he was smiling and waving at me as I approached with a cup of coffee. That smile grew when I asked if I could hop on the tractor fender and ride along. As we bounced down the driveway side by side, I asked him when and why he decided to be a dairy farmer. He looked at me and his eyes lit up. He explained that farming chose him when he was about four. He had some die-cast tractors and his heart knew the only place he would ever be happy was on a farm.

I must have looked confused with his answer. He kissed my forehead and reminded me that farming is something you do because of passion and love. I nodded unconvincingly because I still didn’t really understand. I sat on the tractor while he hopped off to fill the mixer. When he came back and sat down next to me, he explained it in a way that finally made sense. “You don’t write because the annual salary is going to buy you a bigger house or a faster car, do you? You didn’t have children because they could provide you with a large bank account or secure retirement did you?” I wrinkled my nose – he knew the answers to these questions. That’s when we burst out laughing. We had followed our hearts. This life we have isn’t about fortune or fame and it has nothing to do with course catalogs, annual salaries, or retirement plans. This life is about passion and love. He didn’t choose farming, farming chose him and in the same way, writing chose me.

When did you writing choose you? Do you have friends and family that just don’t understand? Share your comments and stories below – we really love to hear from readers!

Crystal J. Casavant-Otto is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, two young children (Carmen 6 and Andre 5), three dogs,two rabbits, and over 200 Holsteins. Crystal is expecting another child at the end of September.


Crystal Otto said...

I tried to link this picture by my amazing friend Olivia Brey of OH! Photography but I'm not real techy...so here goes: www.photosbyoh.com

Crystal Otto said...


Judy Mandel said...

Love this post Crystal. What we do for love!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Beautiful post, Crystal! I'm glad you are both following your passions.

Writing chose me when my mom passed away when I was twelve. I didn't have anyone to turn to except for my journals, which held my stories and comforted me over the years. I don't know if I would've survived without writing and art! They are both a passion and a necessity.

Crystal Otto said...

Thank you Judy - I hope someday I can follow your lead and publish a memoir. Nice to hear from you and I'm glad you're doing well!

Angela - journaling is so therapeutic when surviving the loss of a parent. Most of what I write about includes a piece of a story my father told (he passed away when I was 16) and it's my way of passing down a piece of him. Thank YOU for sharing your passion and necessity with so many of us. You're an inspiration to many!!

Anonymous said...

Love this post, Crystal!

I started writing (and other artsy things) when I was about 7yr; my journal was a place to escape a stressful household...

Passion--my family has never understood that term. I've endured nearly fifty years of sideways glances and snide remarks.

I tend to keep my "antics" to myself now, but just the other day I finally shared a few current projects that have me energized. My Dad's response was, "What ever happened to that nice guy you did marketing research for?" In his world, if you aren't on someone's payroll you aren't really working.

I can't live with such a big separation between earning a living and doing what I love--because if you aren't doing what you love you aren't really living.

Crystal Otto said...

very insightful RCPonders - I love what you said "If you aren't doing what you love, you aren't really living."

Regardless of other people's thoughts ideas and opinions, to be truly rich one must do what they love and sometimes that may not bring us a cent ... but then again, our definition of rich may be the problem as we define wealth differently than most.

Write on dear friend!


Margo Dill said...

I love this post, too, and who knew husbands could be so smart? :) LOL Love your photo, too. :) Writing chose me when. . .I answered the ad in Family Circle magazine: you can write for children about 15 years ago! :) (Well, and probably when I was writing my bestselling, autobiographical novels at the age of 13. . .LOL)

Crystal Otto said...

Oh Margo! I adore your smile as much as your words. I'm certainly pleased writing chose you and brought our paths together!

LuAnn Schindler said...

You milk 97 cows. Pfft! Talk to me when you milk 260+ and have another 400 on the farm to care for. ;)

Seriously, those of us who write just "know" when it's the right fit, an innate sense of where we need to be and what we need to be doing. For me, that's one of the great joys of teaching writing and journalism to high school students - you see the spark and nurture its voice of creativity, being ever-so-careful not to put out that flame.

Crystal Otto said...

Yikes LuAnn - how do you do it? We would definitely need to hire someone to accomplish all that with the farm (and probably get a parlor)

Thank you for sharing and nurturing that creativity in others! Very well said <3

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