The best boss I ever had once told me that "We influence people every day in ways we will never know." I am occasionally reminded of this truth. During this season of giving and thanking I'd share how our CSA members influence a couple people who are extremely grateful to them. These are people you've probably never met, although they are our neighbors.
Members can optionally make a donation when signing up for a CSA share. The idea is that these funds go to help others who could not otherwise afford to get good, local food each week. Thanks to their generosity, we’ve been able to assist a few families over the past couple years we’ve offered sponsorships. But none of them have touched my heart like a local grandmother raising her granddaughter. Whenever we are in funds, I keep signing them up! In her own words, this is how your kindness affects them:
“I can’t begin to tell you how much this gift means to us. I mean it when I say that [my granddaughter] has grown several inches and no longer looks tired and stressed! I really think the fresh raw milk and good food has contributed in a big way! Until COVID, I was working four 10 hours days, commuting each way. We were up at 4 and not getting home until after 6. It was really hard for a kindergartener as well as this old grandma. Even though financially times are tough, we are so happy to spend this time together. She now loves toast and butter along with the milk. We’re excited for the veggies too. As vegetarians we enjoy all of the awesome local veggies. I can’t possibly thank you enough for this. I am humbled by the generosity. We promise to pay it forward.”
And more recently, she wrote: “Thank you so very, very much. I think the delicious milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt and veggies make all the difference in our health. It is deeply appreciated. [My granddaughter] is back in school. I had surgery again in March but hope to be able to work a couple days per week soon. I also hope that one day we will be able to visit the farm so she can see where her delicious milk comes from. Again, thank you with all of our hearts.
So as you go about this holiday season, remember that you're influencing people, touching their lives. And remember the spirit of the season, because you can so easily make a meaningful difference -just open your heart.
The matriarch of our herd is Charisma, a stubby, black-faced Jersey who is bigger around than tall. At ten and a half years, she is the oldest cow in our herd. No one messes with her, even though most weigh more. She’s not usually bossy but this is a cow with a mission. When the girls go out to fresh pasture she is the first one in line. No one -bovine or human- stands between her and her food! She's such a good cow!
One of her daughters, Yoohoo, was born eight years ago last week. I was in the milkhouse putting the milkers together for the afternoon milking while Lisa went to bring the cows in. They were still on pasture, but we’d gotten some snow earlier in the day. Suddenly, I heard yelling and raced outside. Lisa was stumbling down the hill towards the barn carrying a very wet, floppy calf in her winter jacket and hollering “Yoohoo!” to get my attention. We eventually got the calf, momma, and numerous ever-so-curious cows in the barn. She's always been a special cow.
Another one of Charisma’s daughters is Lil Hef, which is short for Little Heifer. She was an itty bitty thing, but is now a Hef(ty) 1050 pounds and looks exactly like her mom. So much so that I confuse them occasionally. She’s still just as friendly, loves to get hugs and rub her neck up and down you. The other day I went out to the barnyard and stopped to give Hef some pets (one of my favorite things to do). I then moved closer to the water tank to watch it fill. Quietly, Hef walked over and stopped, just barely touching me. She got some time with her human; I got some time with my cow. Life is good. Lil Hef just had her first calf, Emo, and has now joined the milking herd. She's my favorite cow.
Charisma is a grandmother a few times over. One of her granddaughters wore a cow bell when she was younger since she would not stay where she was supposed to! Ella has always been an independent gal. Never rowdy or troublesome, but she has never cared about arbitrary rules and does her own thing. If the grass was greener two paddocks over that was where she would be. Electric fences meant nothing to her. The bell helped us find her. I admire her independent streak. She’s my favorite cow.
Randy Robar, co-owner of Kiss the Cow Farm