The number question I am always asked is, “Did you grow up on a farm?” No, I did not grow up on a farm, but I did work on my uncle’s farm when I was in high school and my first year in college.

Growing up on a farm and working on a farm are two completely different things. I grew up on a lake. My main goal for summer during my formative years was to see how dark my tan could get. A farmer’s tan was considered a sin to me.

The second question I get asked often is, “Did you always want to be in agriculture?” The short answer is “No.”

When spring comes and I have a lot of tractor time during spring planting, my mind wanders to my own high school graduation and what my hopes, dreams and goals were at that time for me. I silently laugh to myself when high school grads are always asked, “So what are your plans for your future?”

Married to a dairy farmer, working alongside him every day with two kids in tow was not my 18-year-old self dream. Not even close. It is a life I didn’t dream of, but is truly a gift.

When I graduated high school, my dream was to become an actress. Yes, that was my dream. I kept it to myself and joked out loud about it.

I loved everything and all of theater. At my high school graduation party, I needed to say something when I was asked “So what are your plans?” I replied “I’m going to be a nurse.”

At the time, it made sense. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer the winter of my senior year. It made sense socially for me to say I was going to be a nurse.

It was not socially acceptable to say I was going to become an actress. I could not have said that in rural central Minnesota.

Life happened. I didn’t finish college, but I always made sure my electives were in theater. I loved those classes. For final exams, I was the second one in the auditorium class because I loved it. I wanted to learn everything I could possibly want about it.

A couple weekends ago, I was discussing with one of my cousins how and where I am in life. I met Nate, fell in love and we began planning our life together and what that would look like. Moving was not an option and by that time, my dream was just that — a dream. I truly wanted to stay in central Minnesota.

My cousin and I discussed how in the late ‘90s, there was no way I could have said to the world, “I want to become an actress!” Even in my family’s eyes I am a bit overdramatic, eccentric, talk too much and it would have been ridiculous to dream that.

Instead of looking at how my high school self dream didn’t come true, I look at how my life has come full circle and continues to grow. I look at how I can enjoy both rural and urban. I am a high school speech judge, a high school costume director, I create content on Raising a Farmer, I create videos, I write. I am able to be creative in rural Minnesota. I am able to collaborate outside of agriculture.

All of that is possible because I listen to my inner self dream.

Brenda and her husband Nathan, dairy farm in central Minnesota, milking 85 Holsteins. For more than 125 years, someone in Nathan’s family has been milking cows on their farm. Together they share the workload and two children. You can reach Brenda at brenda@raisingafarmer.com or on her blog: www.raisingafarmer.com.

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