‘Tis the time of the year when it’s best to be anywhere but Minnesota, at least for a few days. The weather in January, February and sometimes into March is well known for its ability to freeze up the best of cattle waterers and make hydraulics inoperable. It’s the best time to visit somewhere closer to the equator or at least closer to the Mexican border than the Canadian one.
    I remember when growing up that it wasn’t all that common for dairy farmers to go on vacation. Come to think of it, I don’t remember very many people at all going on a sunny winter getaway. The days of bragging about never missing a milking since 1960 seem to be gone. Don’t get me wrong. If every day is a vacation for you because you are doing what you love and see no reason to step away for a bit, then you do you. Bring your umbrella drink to the barn for evening milking in your floral print shirt and sunglasses. If you bed the cows with sand, not only are they comfortable, but the beach is always near.
    One of the many benefits of two families running a farm together, like ours, is that if a couple of people disappear to a warmer location for a few days or weeks there is plenty of people around who know how to get that finicky tractor started that does not like cold or what to do when, for no particular reason, the milk transfer pump forgets when it is supposed to pump. Working with family members comes with its own set of challenges, but it sure is nice my parents and our family can get away for a bit to check out other states. This is a luxury none of us used to have. My grandparents passed away shortly after my parents started farming. We cannot all leave at the same time without help from current and past employees to keep the works spinning while we are all gone, but that is life.
    Mom and Dad took off a few weeks ago to hike around the national and state parks by Sedona, Arizona. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on whether you enjoy unusual weather phenomena, they brought a bit of Minnesota with them to the desert in the form of feet of snow. When I woke up for morning milking the day after they left, the story that popped up on my phone from Apple news was a picture of palm trees in Las Vegas covered in snow. They had fun anyway trekking among beautiful rock formations despite the snow and took many pictures of the striking landscape. If you are a fan of hiking the scenic public lands in this country, Sedona is a great place to visit.
    Emily and I will be headed further south to Puerto Rico when we head out on what was supposed to be a Christmas surprise. I say supposed to be because Google ruined the surprise. No, the Alexa we have in the living room did not listen in on a conversation and then suggest swimsuits Emily might be interested in. It was far blunter about ruining the surprise by reading an email and automatically adding our flight info to our shared calendar then alerting her to the event on both her phone and the iPad as she was teaching our kids in the next room. I even promptly erased the email after saving the confirmation number. Darn you helpful technology. She loved the gift all the same, surprise or not. Hopefully we can sneak off without Minnesota’s weather noticing we left. Until next time friends, keep on living the dream. And seriously, take a vacation if you can. I promise the cows will only miss you a little bit.
    Tim Zweber farms with his wife, Emily, their three children and his parents, Jon and Lisa, near Elko, Minnesota.