Manuel Borges Jr
Dairy Farmer – Father
Well here we are in June already. Always a busy month. Between graduations, farming our corn and fathers day. On top of that it is “Dairy Month”. For a dairy farmer every day is dairy day, week, month and year. The cows need their food and milking everyday, 24 /7 the cows are on our minds and run our daily lives, but we love it and most of us agree it is our calling.
This is the 24th Father’s day without my Dad. I still miss him terribly, yet his legacy and passion lives within me. My Dad was not a man of many words. He liked his routine and was just happy to be in the barn with his beloved cows. We were pretty much polar opposites when it came to socializing and chit-chat. I think he thought me a bit quirky, a bit boisterous, and always on the go. I was just like my mother. It was a yin/yang thing. All I know is it worked. I truly think that my life growing up was as perfect as it gets. I had the best of both worlds. A free and easy, hippy style mom and a quiet hard working Dad that like routine and structure.
We have all of these fancy terms for everything these days. I think that my Dad might have been termed, OCD. He was the cleanest person I have ever met. He spent so much of his time that he should have been sleeping, cleaning. He only slept about 4 hours a night.
My first memories of my Dad was by his side…working and cleaning. You see I was the oldest, I know in his heart I was supposed to be a boy, thus his nickname for me was Bobbi. (He had married later and I was born when he was 35 years old). He needed a worker and well, I ended up doing just that. At four years of age he put steel wool in my hand and taught me to help him scrub the line. My very favorite memories was about that same time when he put me in the big stainless steel milk tank to help him clean it. He said that my hands were nice and small to get into the “crannies”. It was such fun slipping and sliding around. I remember we used a lot of cleaning chemicals. I told him, “Daddy I can’t breath”, he calmly said to me “it’s OK honey, just hold your breath”. I did just that. While others might not think that was the best parenting moment, it was one of my happiest times.
My Dad was even picky about the color of his cows. He liked them mostly black with only a little white on the bottom. When asked why, he would simply reply, “They look cleaner like that”. He was known by many of this preference and any bull in his breeding program reflected this and any cow that was purchased had to fit that bill. (I am blessed to have a aerial photo of our dairy farm and his “Vacas Pretas” as he would call them in Portuguese are prevalent and a beautiful keepsake of our life).
That desire for quality and cleanliness was passed down to me. A good product starts with the best quality milk. Once you have the milk, so pure and pristine, processing it must also retain cleanliness and quality. The importance of this has been passed onto me and I pass that on through my cheese and milk. So many people tell me that my cheese and milk lasts long after the “best by date”. I tell them that is because of our clean milk and processing. It makes me so very proud. I am so lucky that my husband also is a stickler for quality. It is, to my delight that my daughter, Tara, has also inherited that gene. I am so happy to have her heading up all of our production.
I am sorry that my Dad did not get to see “Dairy Goddess” come to life. I know he would have just shook his head and smiled that crooked grin. My father told me out loud only one time that he was proud of me. That was on my wedding day. I always knew that he was, but like I said he was a man of few words. He did often tell me he loved me, especially towards the end of his life.
There has been many times since his passing that I have heard him. When I had been lost in my thoughts or worried about this thing or that, his voice will pop into my head and say “I love you, Bobbi”… and then it’s gone, but that moment stays with me and I know that he is right here watching the whole thing. Our loved ones never really leave us. We carry them in our hearts and in our actions. We hope that all of the best parts that they gave us are then passed down to our children.
Happy Fathers Day Dad….and to all you Fathers! Don’t forget June is Dairy Month…go on out and celebrate. Think about all of the hard working dairy farmers out there bringing you the best of what Dairy has to offer.
Cheers…preferably a big cold glass of milk!
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