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.