Setting goals

It isn’t easy to begin with the end in mind. Lots of things can change as we go. But it is important to set clear, attainable, measurable goals.

Maybe driving is a good analogy. If we want to get somewhere, usually it is good to know where we are going before we start.

I’ve been using a GPS system for a couple years now and it has changed the way I think about finding a place I’d like to go.

As a teenager, after I got my license, it was my job to drive my sister and myself to things like 4-H meetings and the drive-in movie. And to get there, I would simply ask my mom for directions. Amazingly she knew all the street names, and told me where to turn and what landmarks to look for 1) to know when my turn was coming up 2) to know if I went the right way.

For example, “when you see the stone wall, your turn is going to be just a bit up on the right”. Or “If you see the Chinese food place you went too far.”

I’ve used lots of maps, in books, printed on paper, while I was a dairy inspector. There were two well used books, which we would label each farm on. There would be a little pencil square with the name of the farm or farmer. I learned lots of back roads driving around Central and Eastern Mass that way.

After passing on those books, I started getting the directions to places (for young farmer meetings or other farms) off the internet. These directions lacked landmarks, and sometimes the street names were wrong, but they generally got me to the right place. Worst comes to worse, I could stop at the fire station and ask for more directions.

Now all I need is the address, and the GPS does the rest, usually it is right.

Recently, I had someone telling me how to get somewhere the “old-fashioned way.” It seemed strange to me. I had to resist the temptation to say “Ok, whatever, just give me the address.” But she did good: describing each step, including landmarks. “You’ll know your going the right way when”…

And it reminded me of goal-setting in farming, in life, and in business. It seems like being coachable is important before we begin goal setting. Sometimes an especially nice person will say, “perhaps you should try this direction,” or “You seem really good at”… or “You seem to be having alot of problems, have you tried God as a solution?” Sometimes other people, people who have “been there” can give us good direction or “guidance.”

Maybe it is financial goals, or other goals related to the farm. It is always important that we make them clear, measurable and attainable.

Writing them down is really important too. I have seen this kind of thing lead to success year after year, for many people.

I  think the practice of reflecting on goals and writing them down in 1, 3 and 5 year increments is important for beginning farmers and retiring farmers too. Beginning farmers to communicate where they want to be and retiring farmers, so they can determine their needs and then communicate that to the beginning farmer.

Do you have some good examples of goal setting and how it helped you?

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Lawton’s Farm 1945

This is an aerial photo of my parents' farm from 1945. You can see little chicken shelters in the lower right. the barn in the upper right was destroyed by arson in the mid 60's. It was filled with antique tools when it burned. All that was left was a whetstone and the foundation. The arsonist tried to burn the barn next to the house the following night, but my great grandfather and the fire department were on their toes and managed to save most of the barn.

This is an aerial photo of my parents’ farm from 1945. You can see little chicken shelters in the lower right. the barn in the upper right was destroyed by arson in the mid 60’s. It was filled with antique tools when it burned. All that was left was a whetstone and the foundation. The arsonist tried to burn the barn next to the house the following night, but my great grandfather and the fire department were on their toes and managed to save most of the barn.

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Love. One of the best videos I’ve ever seen.

I saw this on and had to share because it is probably one of the best videos I’ve ever seen. I hope everyone will watch this video. It really hits home for me and makes me love cows even more.

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NJ: for Christ

We spent 3 days in New Jersey helping repair Sandy-damaged houses.

Our Church, First Baptist Church of Bellingham, sent 10 people down to help. We enlisted with a group called Touch Global, which is working in the Galloway area of NJ. Their motto is “Showing the Love of Christ to those in need”

Some members of our group worked in Brigantine. Touch Global has a blog about their work there. In this picture is one of the coordinators, Kevin. He was an interesting guy and Nevin and I enjoyed hearing how the Lord led him into the Touch Global ministry.

One of the most interesting things about working in NJ for me was that as you drive down the street, by the ocean, the houses don’t seem that messed up. But when you go inside, they all had to be gutted and everything in the houses was destroyed, many houses has 3-4 feet of salt water in them.

The house we were working in when we arrived.

The house we were working in when we arrived.

For some reason many of the houses were built with “crawl spaces” instead of basements or on cement slabs. In the crawl spaces there is insulation which needed to be removed (courtesy of Sandy’s flooding) and replaced with new insulation. We put in new insulation in 1 half of a house’s crawl space. It was the most miserable job I have ever done. I had more sand fall in my eyes (we are laying on our backs, on sand, which we just pulled insulation over, which we then installed over our heads) than I ever had in all our childhood sand fights. I don’t know why they call it a crawl space anyway, cause there isn’t even enough room to crawl, just enough to pull yourself along with elbows.

I don’t have any pictures of the crawl space action. I wanted to take Nevin’s picture, but he said he didn’t want to have anything that would remind him of the crawl-space experience.

Anyway, I got some pics of the before and after of the wall and ceiling insulation, which was pretty casual compared to the crawl space insulating.

After we insulated

After we insulated

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I love cows

Milking clean, dry, sanitized teats

Milking clean, dry, sanitized teats

I love cows, and I love milk. I grew up drinking raw milk and never thought too much about it.

I can remember being 5 and “helping” my sister milk our Jersey, named Sprite. She lived in a pasture and each day, when it was time to milk we would (mostly she, since she is 4 years older than me) catch Sprite in a head lock (which is an easy way to restrain a cow without an halter or rope) get the bucket and then start milking. Often the cow would kick the bucket or put her hoof in it or perhaps we would get in some sort of fight (usually involving milk). When we were done, we released Sprite and brought the milk up to the house. My mom would pour the milk through a milk filter (which looks and feels a little like a coffee filter) and we would use that milk to drink, make ice cream and other dairy products.

This is very different from how we milk cows today.

Before we started selling raw milk retail, we started testing the milk for coliform bacteria, which tells us how clean the milk is. We also developed standard operating procedures for milking, clean-up and sanitizing, which would ensure the cleanliness of our milk.

There are many places where bacteria can get in milk. Most bacteria is harmless, but there are about 9 types which can make people sick, and so we work hard to make sure these bacteria don’t get in milk.

Probably the most difficult challenge of food safety is that everything can look clean, but still there could be 1 bad bacteria cell, and that is all that is necessary to cause problems.

So trying to keep raw milk safe is like trying to keep a needle out of a haystack, and not being able to know for absolute certain if the needle got into the haystack, unless someone gets pricked.

Many aspects of microbiology are essential to harvesting and selling clean raw milk. It is important to work with regulators or food safety consultants to ensure food safety.

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Nevin fixing a plow at his shop, Truck and Trailer World

This is a picture of my husband, Nevin.

I like to think of him as a mechanic, perhaps he thinks of himself as more of a truck accessory salesman.

We met when I bought a trailer from him in 2007. When the truck I bought to pull the trailer needed brakes, he fixed them for an honest price.

Since then he has been fixing most all the things I break.

He grew up on a vegetable farm, and had an interest in mechanics, fixing farm equipment etc, from an early age.

We got married on July 7, 2012 in a small ceremony.

Joseph, my adopted son, loves having a Daddy.

We spent our first Christmas and New Year’s together and it was really nice to create our own family traditions.

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Trying to get organized

I’ve been working on this site for a bit now and am feeling like it is starting to take decent shape. I still have lots more to do on it till it accurately portrays me. Professionally and personally I have many interests and sometimes it takes a while to get myself organized.

I have been thinking about my Stuff I want to do lately.

I haven’t been working on my book much lately. I’ve been trying to think of ways to keep it simple, rather than trying to write some sort of masterpiece. Which means I’m still working on yet another outline. If you have experience writing a book and want to give some suggestions, I am very open to that.

I have been spending more time trying to raise funds for protecting farmland. I’ve been working on a business plan, learning about non-profit status requirements etc. Right now this is more fun for me than struggling through ambiguous potential book concepts.

I’ve also been speaking to groups of farmers about profitable farming strategies and visiting farms as a technical expert (consultant) on selling raw milk, farm-made cheese and meat directly to families.

It is very exciting to help beginning farmers develop strategies for success!


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Hello world!

This is my first attempt to put “me” on the internet in a fairly cohesive way.

My plan is to use this as a blog about things that interest me, which can include agriculture, writing, spiritual growth, parenting and perhaps a few other random things.

Also, I plan to use this website to showcase the things I have done and what I can do and what I plan to do as well as explain some of my other beliefs or behavior.

To understand my core values, please visit my Leadership Philosophy.

Oh, and a few more things: All the stuff here is mine. You can cut and paste, only if you include my name with your cutting and pasting.

Also, I’m reserving the right to change this website randomly, in sometimes unpredictable ways.

And, I’ve left the comments section on each page so you can ask me questions and anything else. I like questions.

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