The Wisconsin Farm Center supports farm families facing difficult decisions regarding farm finances, succession planning and personal struggles. This poem is a compilation of conversations the author participated in over a period of years while providing consultation services for farm families under various forms of stress.



I will never have a normal life.


But, somehow, I think this is what I want to try:

Find someone to buy part of the farm

And let us live here and do what we have always done.


My daughter is about to come back from Afghanistan.

Her school was cancelled so she has all summer

And could help out some, I suppose.


Not much else to do. My other daughter says

just wait till all the kids are home,

Then figure out what to do.


When I get Wayne where he is kinda livable

then Mom starts in

and we all come round again to the same mess.


I was talking to the neighbor who says

Mom thinks I listen in on her phone calls

but I don’t.


Had the grandson last week, which was fun,

might get him back, maybe.

Other than that waiting for the ground

Around the house to dry

And the weather to warm up a bit

So I can work some dirt.


I want to garden for the daughter –

With two kids Lord knows she’ll need it.


Still not sure what or how to do

Just what everyone wants.


But I am going to talk to some farmers

Around here, see if they can help with the crops.

Son Ben found a job, but it is in Texas.

Not sure when he is leaving but could be this week yet.


Friday I am hoping it dries up some

And we can get some heifers outside.


Wayne is getting shots in his back Tuesday.


When we were talking, when all were at my house –

The big outfits that buy land

And let the people live on there –

Tell them I am ready to talk.




Not sure of much.

Son Ben is gone,

Left this morning after chores.


So it has come to this:

Kids grown. Body shot. Social life shattered.


Wayne says he has got to do some thinking.

I asked him questions but he is unsure of what to do.

I told him about getting hired help or something like that –

He said he has to think

But time is limited for that

And our fields are so wet.


I talked to a realty guy in Spooner

Got a bunch of ideas

He is sending out feelers

Will let me know in a few days

Still uncertain for what

But I am looking.


Wayne’s brother is going to talk to him today.

He is bringing Wayne home

From getting shots in his back

And will talk about stuff

See if he can get in Wayne’s brain.




Well, how life does change in a short time.

Our son has been gone since Easter

Last night on the phone I asked him point blank

Are you coming home for the winter?

His answer No – only to snowmobile

Then go back south


So here I am again


Wayne lost it

When I told him the neighbor come by

Asking what we are going to do

Told him all depends on our son

But now I know his plans


The banker says he will leave the note open

Just like a regular note

So we have options


Now I have to go tell the neighbor

Our son is not coming home and I

Need to start thinking about what was talked about


Wayne in bad shape today

His back again

I told him we need to do something

Can’t keep on going like we are

But he was in no shape to listen

I went to mow lawn and he came out back

Stopped me to ask are we going to plant corn

And I said I guess – so he is plowing now

We have one field done and two small ones to go


If the rain would just hold off a bit

It would be nice


Wayne was not happy yesterday

But today after riding the tractor

Doing the plowing

He seems better


This is what it looks like:

We owe the bank 73 thousand

FHA another 26 and still 30 thousand to Dad


The banker says we should talk

And I want to but with grandson here

And whatever I can get done

We got the heifers outside

Still have 30 cows to milk

But the silo is running empty and

No hay.

Rented out half the farm

And just got the down payment on the other half

We close in November


I am okay but still get the panic attacks

Now and then.

Wayne is not worth talking about

But he knows this is what we need to do

He just can’t comprehend at times

When the kids see him

They get so upset at how he acts oh I hope things change

I wish I could get away


I am looking at part time work

Like maybe a school aid

or clerk at the country market in Spooner

I talked to the manager

All he has is night shift




Well, I am fine,

Won’t talk about the other half

His brain trauma is taking its toll

Tries to tell me things people say

That they never did


The cows will be going on the 22nd

The kids are helping me

Wayne is a daily struggle and now

His good friend from hunting and snowmobiling

Died travelling out west

Just laid down to nap and never woke up

Would have been 52 in August.


It is hard but I guess I am surviving

Wayne better wake up

I am tired of his act

Maybe another med change might help




Just letting you know

The cows are gone

Yep, just left a few minutes ago

I told the buyer send the check after the first of the year


Never saw Wayne move so fast when the trucks pulled in

Sure never moved that fast before


So now just cleaning up junk and hauling to recycle

I want a new house

Move my Mom in here so she isn’t alone

The county says the house not worth fixing

So I am figuring in a book

How to afford a new one




Boy you wouldn’t believe

How bad it gets


Wayne can’t be reasoned with and now

We have four funerals to get to

Got one tomorrow in Tomahawk

Then another near Green Bay

Wayne says he’ll come too

But I wish he would stay put

I need time away just to think

I wish his new meds would kick in

The pharmacy forgot to renew his morphine

And no one noticed

So he was in withdrawals yesterday

Wow that was bad

But I am still here and he is getting oxycodone

Keep me in your thoughts




Ready to pull my hair out

Does that seem normal?


The old house got torn down today

So we are living in a shed out back


Wayne helping a neighbor chop corn

And I hope I got everything back to the state

All that paperwork

So we can start on a basement and wood burner

Winter coming you can feel the nights turning cold




Oh I have to tell you

This is so nice

Compared to what we had

Wayne still trouble

Only goes out to doctor appointments

And when he does

I go out for a walk

Just stand in the sun and look back

At the new basement house

I wish the weather would hold

Just this way all winter

But I know Wayne is far from well

I never hear from son Ben way down in Texas

Hardly ever see the girls who live nearby


I know the big lake storms are coming.


I know I will never have a normal life.