Did you know that National Ice Cream Day is on Sunday, July 17th? In 1984, a senator from Kentucky and a representative from Texas introduced a joint resolution proclaiming July as National Ice Cream Month and July 15 as National Ice Cream Day. The resolution unanimously passed in both the House and Senate, and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law on July 2, 1984. Even though the legislation technically only applied to 1984, people across the country have continued to celebrate July as National Ice Cream Month. National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of July every year since then.
Since 2018, the Pennsylvania Ice Cream Trail has provided even more reason for us to celebrate National Ice Cream Month. The trail is coordinated each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to encourage people to get out and visit the many farm-based creameries across Pennsylvania. Our team at the Center helps with this program by working directly with the farms involved in the trail.
This year there are 30 creameries that are part of the “Scooped: An Ice Cream Trail” effort, which combines the three separate geographical trails showcased in years past into one Commonwealth-wide experience. Trail-goers can plan their trail on the “Scooped: An Ice Cream Trail” website and download a digital passport to check in at 10 of the creameries to receive a stainless-steel ice cream scoop. So far, as of early July, more than 7,200 people have downloaded a digital passport and started visiting creameries on the trail. If you want to experience the Ice Cream Trail on your own, go to visitpa.com/trip/scooped-ice-cream-trail to learn more.
I eat ice cream almost every day all year long, so I don’t need a month or a trail to remind me to enjoy it. What National Ice Cream Month does remind me of, though, is an article I first heard at my high school graduation 31 years ago. It is called “The Station” and written by Robert J. Hastings. It talks about how we spend so much time worrying about “The Station” in life – when we graduate, when we succeed in life, when our kids graduate – that we forget to enjoy the journey. Eating ice cream is one way to slow down and enjoy this journey we call life.
Climb More Mountains
Like many farm wives, I have both an off-farm job and responsibilities on the farm. Our weekends are often spent on the farm between milking and things like cleaning pens, spraying weeds and other chores that didn’t get done through the week. The early summer months seem especially busy, with the planting season rolling right into hay season and then directly into wheat season. Before you know it, the summer is halfway over and you’re wondering where it went.
One Sunday late in June, my husband suggested we take a break and go hiking at Cunningham Falls, which is a pretty area in northern Maryland that features trails surrounding a series of small waterfalls and a creek that cuts through the Catoctin Mountains. All three of our sons went with us, and it was nice to have the family enjoying an outing together without having to worry about who was heading to the field, who was feeding the cows, and what needed done on the farm next. It reminded me how important it is to find time to escape our worries and just enjoy the day.
The reason “The Station” sticks in my mind 30 years after hearing it is that Hastings describes days just like the one I had—days we need more of. He ends his article with, “So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The Station will come soon enough.”
For those of us who have been working in dairy or in any facet of agriculture, it may seem like the Station is never going to arrive. We are always working toward tomorrow – when our crops are ready to be harvested, when the latest crop of calves will be birthed, when those heifers will calve, when it will rain again, when the economy will improve, and so on. We spend so much time on a cycle, waiting for “that day” somewhere out in the future, that we forget to enjoy where we are right now in this moment in time.
It’s About the Journey
But what Hastings reminds us in his article is that the Station is an illusion that constantly outdistances us. He challenges us to relish the everyday moments and remember Psalm 118:24, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” This was a song I remember singing in Sunday School when I was little, and sometimes when I am really stressed, I can find myself humming it in my head: “Let us rejoice, let us rejoice, and be glad in it.”
We are fortunate in 2022 to be experiencing higher milk prices than we have in nearly a decade. However, those high milk prices are offset by higher feed and fertilizer prices, along with higher costs in virtually every area of our business. Even with higher milk prices, there is still so much uncertainty in every area of our business, with social and political unrest, along with escalating consumer concerns, placing increased scrutiny on how we care for our animals and the environment.
Every day I witness the stress that this uncertainty places on our farm families. You cannot continue to carry that stress without taking care of what matters most — your health and your own personal well-being. Eat more ice cream, climb more mountains, and find more ways to live in the moment. It’s the little things that will help you stay positive even in challenging times.
If you do feel overwhelmed, find people you can lean on for guidance and support, whether it’s a loved one, friend, or your pastor. Don’t ever try to carry the burden on your own. For those who are feeling overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to turn, the Center can connect you with resources that can help. Call us at 717-346-0849 or visit our website at www.centerfordairyexcellence.org/stress.
Editor’s Note: This column is written by Jayne Sebright, executive director for the Center for Dairy Excellence.