How to reinvent your career


If you ask the Farmer, he would tell you that I was really really nice to him last week while he was in bed, immobile, strung out on six Percocet a day. I made him pies, and French toast, and meat at every meal because there is no amount of Percocet that would make him not want to eat meat.

I watched gunslinger movies with him when he was groggy and I made sure to talk only about innocuous topics like the state of world politics, something that we’d never fight about.

I can’t tell you everything went smoothly. I forgot to let the chickens out a few days. I lost the new bag of Cat Chow and served ground beef for two days of heaven on earth for the cats. And, there were a few times the goats got into the house. But we figured out how to handle everything.

Until the Farmer felt better: His back didn’t hurt so he wanted to work. So, he just stopped taking the Percocet. Cold turkey. And because we live in the country, the doctor gave the Farmer sixty Percocet pills with no instructions for how to go off narcotics.

For those of you who know nothing about Percocet, first of all, if you ever get that many pills prescribed, sell them on the streets of New York City to fund your child’s education. That’s how hard they are to come by.

And there’s a reason: They are highly addictive. I’m linking to some stuff about getting off high dosages of Percocet, but I’m summarizing: You can’t go cold turkey. You have to go slowly or you make yourself crazy.

So the Farmer was crazy and I had to have a drug intervention to tell him he was a total jerk and having withdrawal and he couldn’t tell and he needed to do it more systematically.

I convinced him. But he is not a guy who lays in bed all day. And he had already done it for five days. He wanted to work. On Percocet. I told him we agreed no machinery on Percocet. He told me how it’s not fair that I want him to taper and I want him to not work.

Then we have a screaming match about how life is not fair. That is the first topic. Which slides into:

Me: Don’t scream at me—

The Farmer: No you’re screaming at me—

No. Fuck you.

I told you I don’t like swearing.

I told you I don’t like you being mean.

This did not happen. I mean it did. It has happened so many times that it’s like the bass beat in the background of our everyday life.

So we did that and then he told me he had to work. It was a work emergency.

Here’s what he said: “I have to check cows.”

You might think I know nothing about farming, but I have actually learned a lot precisely for figuring out if the Farmer is BSing me or not.

Me: Your dad can check them.

The Farmer: I don’t want to call him. It’s a masculinity thing.

I swear to God. He said this.

Then he told me he had to be off Percocet on Monday because he’s shipping hogs and cattle.

This is farmer-speak for putting them in a truck and sending them to the butcher to be killed.

I tell him he can taper off the Percocet like he is supposed to, and his parents can ship pigs and cows.

Then we have a huge fight. About what really needs to happen: how his parents don’t need him to ship the cows and pigs.

He says he wants to be in charge of it.

I tell him he’s 40 and he’s too old to show up at work just to make sure people know he’s in charge.

So he has to tell me that I make his life hell.

Now that I’ve been with him three years, I know this is his way of telling me he doesn’t want to talk.

When I tell you what I did next, you will think I’m a bitch. But so what? I’m going to tell you anyway. I told him he had to talk to me all day. I told him I was going to follow him around the farm nonstop, how I would even drive off-road to check the cows in the forest.

So he says, “Don’t threaten me.”

I say, “I am telling you what I need. I need you to talk with me.”

“All day?”

“Yes. All day.”

“It’s past my comfort zone.”

“Talking to me for one second is past your comfort zone.”

He laughs. He says, “Fine.”

We are talking. He wants to wander… past the corn…past the hay…through the vegetable garden…

We talk about nothing. I bitch to him about how he’s dishonest to himself about the farm, and he says things like, “Okay, you win. I’m not as honest as you.” Or, “You’re right, I’m never going to be able to make you happy.”

These are ways to avoid having to have a conversation with me, so I don’t relent. I know he’s exhausted from talking, but look, you have to trust me on this that he has to talk for two hours before he actually says anything besides how he would rather be single than have a hard conversation.

I tell him that the real reason he’s trying to kick the Percocet so fast is because he’s scared his parents don’t need him. He wants to be needed.

Then I tell him, “Look, your parents just wrote you out of their will. They obviously don’t think they need you.”

This hits hard. Though not as hard as it’s hitting you now, when you read it, because I’ve said this to the Farmer a lot of times. Ever since the parents wrote him out of the will.

The next part of the conversation is deleted. I had to—the Farmer was too upset. But here is some background material so you can follow along.

As you know, from my Thanksgiving Drama post, the Farmer has three sisters, all of whom have kids. I am not allowed to tell you who the Farmer’s parents are giving the farm to. We have to keep that a secret. You might know from the post about why I do not do family secrets that keeping another family secret is eventually going to make me physically ill. I am positive that keeping family secrets only serves to protect people who treat family members like shit.

(That is the end of the deleted, secret part. The good news about me having to write about the deletion is that I got to link to two of the most popular posts on the blog. Maybe you missed them. They are good to read.)

So, suffice it to say that the farmer asked his parents why they aren’t leaving any of the land to his children, and his parents said that they are not his real children.

I think the farmer is devastated and he needs to stop farming with them because he’s devastated.

He tells me he is not devastated and he is happy farming with them.

I tell him he’s lying to himself and he’s taking it out on me, like when he tells me I am unreasonable about Percocet and he has to ship hogs. It’s really not that I’m reasonable but that he’s scared to miss a day of shipping hogs and won’t admit it.

I don’t care specifically about the farm. I mean, I didn’t grow up expecting I’d have farm land. But I do care about feeling like the Farmer is losing his self-respect over this and taking it out on me.

Okay. So I refuse to let the Farmer stop talking.

He says he’ll talk if we can go somewhere comfortable.

We can’t go in the house. My ex is there with the kids. We do our best fighting when my ex is distracting the kids.

The Farmer wants to go to the pig building.

The pig building: I tried to get him to throw out his gross furniture that he had had since college and he couldn’t do it, so he put it in the pig building.

Now he wants to sit on his sofa. There are two. I sit across from him.

He has nothing to say, of course. This is how a Farmer talks to his wife. By saying nothing. So I look around. My son’s 4H pig project pigs are in the building, so by pig farm standards, the place is clean.

Where we are sitting looks kind of like an island in the middle of pig blood, but the Farmer told me it’s really just muddy water.

The Farmer says, “What do you think of the pigs?”

I tell him that does not count as conversation.

I tell him I’m going to last a lot longer on the sofa than he is because I can sit still and he can’t. I take off my boots and sort of make myself comfortable, like it’s the living room.

Finally he tells me he wants to transition to a smaller farm operation, on just the 125 acres he owns outright. But he’s scared. He doesn’t know for sure how to do it. He’s making a plan.

Then we are talking. I tell him I’d be scared, too. I tell him I know he’s built up a great business and it’s hard to walk away.

I am not one with extra empathy, but I have plenty for career changes. And I think that’s what he’s really going through. He’s worked on the same farm for 40 years, and now he has to switch. He has to make operations work on his own farm, he has to figure out all new animal and crop logistics and all new cash flow planning, and it is scary.

I think about the article in Fortune magazine this week titled, “Reinvent Your Career.” about who can succeed in changing careers. Fortune reports that the people who can do it “are all people who love learning by doing. They are not victims. At a time when many people react passively to career bumps, reinventors took control.”

I know the Farmer can succeed. He can be like the reinventors profiled in Fortune magazine. But I know that after two hours of pressing him, the most he can possibly say is that he’s really disappointed by his parents’ choices and he’s scared about farming on his own. It’s huge for him to say that.

I tell him he doesn’t have to talk anymore. I thank him for talking for so long. And I thank him for sharing his feelings.

We leave. But not before we have make-up sex in the pig barn.

126 replies
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  1. Becky
    Becky says:

    I like reading about big problems resolving happily.

    But I’m worried that your ability to fight and make up is leading me to an unrealistic hope that if I just keep talking long enough I can resolve the problems in my 3-year relationship that is breaking up. I’ve got the police reports and anger thing happening here, but none of the positive career change plans and make-up sex.

    • ksand
      ksand says:

      Becky, read my lips: GET OUT NOW. I am sitting here, 18 years into a marriage that I should have left after he beat me up for the first time three weeks after we were married.

      Because of years of stupidity and thinking “it’s not so bad”, I am now in the position of figuring out how to divorce without winding up getting hurt even worse. To make things worse, I just read an article about how much worse divorcing parents affect their teenage and young adult children.

      You don’t have kids so GET OUT NOW. Otherwise, mark my words, you will regret it every. single. day. Please don’t doubt this.

      • Becky
        Becky says:

        Thanks for your concern. Luckily I’m not married or even cohabitating. I just have to deal with the emotional trauma of letting go, not all the practical things that you have to face.

        I was married with children to someone else and worried about the impact of divorce on my teenaged kids. I hope it helps you feel better to know that one thing my ex and I can agree on is that the change was better for the kids, who are thriving now that they are not living in a strife-filled household.

    • KateNonymous
      KateNonymous says:

      Ignore that hope. If there are problems that result in police reports, you cannot solve those problems by talking. Those problems can only be solved by you leaving.

  2. Courteney
    Courteney says:

    Penelope, I love your blog. I love your honesty about your careers and your relationships. And while I don’t agree with you on everything, I’ve learned a lot from reading about your experiences.

    Oh, and also, I’m in love with your family’s farm. The pictures and the bits and pieces of complicated logistics we get to peek into are absolutely fascinating.

  3. Somer
    Somer says:

    Penelope- Thank you. This hard conversation and realization for the farmer set against the landscape of the farm made for beautiful writing. Thank you for letting us share in your walk. Lessons abound. Big hugs, Somer

  4. David
    David says:

    Ah, nothing like true confessions and a little “pig blood” to get the reunion juices flowing, eh?

    Is this also where the Farmer and Melissa have their trysts?

  5. ResumeWriter
    ResumeWriter says:

    Just from reading your blog, I have faith the farmer will be successful with his new farm. How scary and exciting for him! I know he’s trapped in the scary right now, but he will evolve into the exciting soon enough. The other thing I know about the farmer from reading your blog is that he doesn’t make impulse decisions; he must have thought a lot about this before he was able to even form the words. He’s a good and smart decision maker who has earned the right to trust his instincts. I’m looking forward to reading more about this new adventure.

      • Kay Lorraine
        Kay Lorraine says:

        I hope they do, too. They are some of the most controlling people I have ever heard of. They need to understand what their behaviour is going to cost them. Also, I think it would be nice if they heard about the make-up sex in the pig barn. Be sure to send a copy to his sisters, too!

  6. Casey
    Casey says:

    That was really fascinating to me. My husband and I used to fight similarly and I was always discouraged that we would have to have a massive knock-down, drag-out fight before we could get to the core of what was going on, discuss it and make up. I think it was juvenile and way too traumatic for the kids. (I’m using the past tense because my husband died seven months ago).

    I often criticized my husband in the same way that you seem to criticize yours–as a way to get their attention and start acknowledging problems they seem to prefer to ignore even though they are taking a huge toll.

    But my husband rarely criticized me. He thought everything I did was great and never judged me. Up until very recently I thought this was a wonderful characteristic. I thought that if I ever married again I wanted to find someone who was equally non-critical of me because I absolutely hate being criticized. But my mom said something to me a few days ago that made me re-evaluate that. She said, “But if no one ever calls you on your shit, how to you ever learn and get better?”

    It sucks to get called on your shit. I think I hate it more than most people because I consider myself someone who holds myself to a high standard so no one should have a right to criticize me. But I only hold myself accountable for things I am aware that I am not doing well. I need someone to call me out on things about which I am in total denial. The tricky thing is that people usually hate the person who confronts them on things about which they are in total denial and seek to eliminate them from their life.

    Penelope, I believe you are good for the Farmer in getting him to face and deal with problems and his feelings. The risk is that he’ll hate you for it. I certainly hope he is wise enough to recognize that it is truly an act of love.

    I’m thinking these days about what kind of person to choose if I remarry. Before I remarry, I would love to learn how to confront a partner about a sensitive subject and conversely, learn how to be confronted without the trauma (and drama) of a massive blowout first. Let me know if you figure that out.

    Thanks to both you and the Farmer for sharing in such a candid manner. It was certainly food for thought.

  7. Umar Imtiaz
    Umar Imtiaz says:

    First of all thanks penelope for such a strong communication and conciousness for set of framer that is alternative the scenery of farm for awesome writing…..and specially thanks for sharing and giving us unique knowledge…

  8. csts
    csts says:

    great post, but I haven’t quite figured out the connection to the title: where’s the part telling people how to reinvent their careers? You usually break things down into points other people can use…

  9. Riley Harrison
    Riley Harrison says:

    I honestly believe that the best marriages are where you are driving each other nuts about half the time. So I would say you have a real authentic relationship.

    • KateNonymous
      KateNonymous says:

      Every guy I dated, I couldn’t stand–and then we wound up in a relationship. Until Mr. Nonymous. He never drove me nuts, and I married him, and seven years later it just keeps getting better. So I think you’re totally wrong.

  10. Deborah
    Deborah says:

    Wow: “He would rather stay single than have a hard conversation”. That hit home and helps me understand my separation after 22 years with someone who wouldn’t have the hard converations – I think they are a ‘normal’ part of life – they don’t happen everyday, but when they do, it is important to talk them out until they are resolved. Well done!

  11. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I don’t know his parents or his relationship with them. However, I think the Farmer’s parents did him a favor by writing him out of their will. I really can’t imagine such a scenario and how tough it must be for him. In any case, he has a better understanding where he stands (I think) but he needs time to process it. Probably why he uses the word ‘transition’ to get started on his own acreage. My advice – can’t start soon enough.

  12. chris Keller
    chris Keller says:

    Great teamwork, I’d say. Great principles: keep talking; no family secrets; never go to bed angry . . .

    In addition, you probably know the Farmer better than his folks do at this point. You know that he is someone who learns by doing (per Fortune predictions) and he is not passive, nor is he a victim. You have seen him in new roles–mate and father.

    His parents may still see him as their boy, instead of seeing him as a man who is seasoned/competent in farming.

    Finally, everyone has to break away from their parent (figures) sooner or later. I think striking out on your own is a given.

    It is a harsh thing to “cut out” a son and/or adopted grand-children from your will. It is a thing that will alienate a son. If the Farmer feels alienation, it may be his parents setting it in motion, rather than the Farmer wanting to strike out on his own.

    • MJ
      MJ says:

      SO true about who knows the Farmer best. Controlling families always think that they know the now-adult “kids” best (and apparently those kids never change). Not at all true, especially when the adult-kids have come into their own with traits that the elders cannot accept (like any kind of thinking for themselves).

      The “not real kids” thing is just evil. My most controlling, most “I know everything about you and you are just like me” (wrong!! I’m not an alcoholic racist, for starters…) family member makes a point of either calling out kids in the family who aren’t “really” family members, or snarling at her own kids that they “better not adopt any Asian babies” anytime in the future, because she won’t accept them. Evil, evil, evil, evil.

      Funny, so many families that have bugs up their butts about who may and may not belong also don’t have families that anyone would want to be a part of. Shit, in my case I’d rather be adopted (that way I wouldn’t have their tainted genes).

      • tal
        tal says:

        It makes sense, evolutionary, for people to not want people who aren’t biologically related to them to inherit their wealth, and to prefer that it be inherited by their biological descendants. It’s an extremely natural motivation.

  13. Meg
    Meg says:

    I laughed a little laugh of triumph for you and the Farmer at the end of that post when you said you had make up sex in the pig building. I guessed and hoped you would.

    And I am definitely going to keep this post in mind when talking to my own husband, who sometimes takes a long time to come to what he’s actually upset about. Just keep him talking. About anything. I’d like to be less afraid of yelling or even saying true if hurtful things too, if that’s what it takes to get to what you really need to talk about.

  14. Susan Tiner
    Susan Tiner says:

    I am glad the farmer is considering branching out on his own.

    This quote: “…keeping family secrets only serves to protect people who treat family members like shit” should be made into a bumper sticker.

  15. lestamore
    lestamore says:

    I like how you hear what he means until he means what he says. He is lucky, although it sounds a bit difficult too.

  16. Kim
    Kim says:

    I must be sentimental since I just about shredded a tear for the farmer on how he opened up. I wish your relationship was easier, but it seems you two need each other. Reading your stories hurt and scares me inside sometimes due to the honesty of your thoughts and feelings, but I love how you write. I learn something new (I haven't quite figured out what yet) when I reach in and try to figure out what's going on. Good luck and thank you.

  17. lynne whiteside
    lynne whiteside says:

    He probably doesn’t yet realize that the new farm venture he is about to take, is why you and he are where you are suppose to be. With your help, he will succeed.

  18. Paul Hassing
    Paul Hassing says:

    By jingo, that was a corker! That was like the thin, high, nasty, metal string on some ancient instrument that you were tuning and tuning and tuning and … But there was no snap. Only a wonderful resolution. Who’d have thought a crazy person could play therapist so well?! I am so rooting for the Farmer. And I ain’t even a hog. And, being Australian, I usually eschew terms like ‘rooting’ and ‘hog’. That’s the effect you have, Penelope. You’re skewing my argot! And I’m a bloody copywriter! Go you! Go the Farmer! :)

  19. Amy Parmenter
    Amy Parmenter says:

    I am so psyched – and jealous – that you had make up sex in the pig barn. I was hoping that is where it was going.

    I am always fascinated by the total lack of responsibility on the part of doctors to adequately warn patients about withdrawing from narcotics!! It blows my mind. My dad was totally addicted to oxycontin after some back pain stuff and he almost lost his mind. how can doctors be so lame???

    at least you got laid out of it.

    I love this line about reinventing yourself: people who can do it “are all people who love learning by doing. They are not victims.” I think I love it because I have reinvented myself several times… and the ParmFarm is basically about ‘growing’ by reinventing yourself.

    I feel for the farmer. I hope he is able to make the transition without the need for more percocet!!

    He is lucky to have your support.

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

  20. Dale
    Dale says:

    Penny,based on a McKinsey Quarterly article that I read a while ago,
    you guys need to plan your strategy more actively. You’ve already identified his problem: he’s scared of change, risk, starting over. This is the most important part; he needs to embrace this reality. Now, as you guys have already started to do, he needs to decide on the obstacles he will face in being on a new smaller farm not owned by his parents – then come up with a strategy to overcome the problems. Simple plan, but based on realistic assumptions. What really matters to him, you and the family, or that specific piece of land?
    I hope it all works out, he’s got a good mentor to work through it all, but he has got to want the change for the right reasons.


  21. Jen
    Jen says:

    Just found your blog and love it. As a farmers daughter who is learning about being lost in her soon to be 40’s. You are speaking my language. I love it.

    The family farming situation is hard to learn coming into it from the outside…but you are echoing phrases I hear from my friends entering the farming world. There are no easy solutions.

    Best wishes to you and thanks for your blog.

  22. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    This was a really sensitive and endearing story, Penelope. I just had to say this right away, before I read the other comments. Now I understand why the farmer loves you.


  23. Wayne Allen
    Wayne Allen says:

    Hey P’lope,
    Nice one! Wasn’t that long ago that you’d have bailed on your side of the conversation and someone would have slept on the couch. Bravo.
    Just to state it: you can only do your side of communication. By refusing to drop it, change topics, etc., the conversation has a chance to “come around” to somewhere.
    But it requires the willingness to stay put and stay centred, and on point. Not for the other person to do so, as you can’t control the behaviour of another (or tell him what to do, or anything manipulative…)
    You can invite him into dialogue about who he is and what he wants–not in ref. to his parents and the farm, but in ref. to the reality of the will thing.
    Scary likely. And right now, in this moment, you are right there.
    It never gets better than that. St stand forth, and to stand with.
    You. Go. Girl!
    Warm hugs, W

  24. sut
    sut says:

    Go, Farmer, go. You can totally do it. A fresh start on land you own outright with a wife that might drive you batty, but is apeshit smart and the one rooting for you.

  25. Robbin
    Robbin says:

    I adore you! You never cease to delight and make me throw back my head in laughter. I always look forward to reading your posts.

  26. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Dear Penelope,

    I know you’re not going to like what I’m about to ask. How often do you yourself get outside your comfort zone? Why not stretch your limits of empathy and try for a little compassion towards the Farmer’s family, especially towards his mom and dad? I mean, it totally sucks that his parents cut him out of the will, I agree. And his sisters do seem shrew-like, for sure (by your account!). But, I don’t see how the Farmer could be such a wonderful person without some of the credit going towards his parents, who raised him. Think about how the situation might look from their perspective. They didn’t grow up in a world where people talk about “transparency”. More than likely, they prefer not to have their “dirty laundry” publicized for the world to see. Instead of trying to reinvent the farmer’s career, why not try a simple afternoon cup of tea with your mom-in-law (even though you may prefer Melissa’s company). I guess I don’t really know that you haven’t already tried that, but I’m making the assumption. I don’t think you are unique in having in-law problems. I also don’t think, from reading your blog throughout the past year, that you have made an honest and sincere effort to actually befriend the farmer’s family. It doesn’t matter that they don’t share the same world view as you and it’s unrealistic to expect them too.

    My opinions are to some extent based on my own experience. I have discovered that, most of the time, it is far more valuable to keep the peace then to encourage division. Wow! How brazen would it be, if the next thing I knew, Penelope Trunk helped make her farmer’s family business a total success? I’m sure you can!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think this is the most important part of your comment: ” I guess I don’t really know that you haven’t already tried that, but I’m making the assumption.”

      I think the assumptions we make reveal more about ourselves that the people we assume things about.

      Also, I could tell you about how I’m out of my comfort zone because I went from LA to NY to a farm. But the truth is that every marriage that stays together requires both people to go way outside their comfort zone, at some points. That’s how hard marriage is. The longer someone has been married, I think, the more times you can assume they have been out of their comfort zone.


      • Rachel
        Rachel says:

        Hi again!

        Well I tossed and turned a bit last night when I realized that what I had wrote would not only be unpopular with you, but maybe with your readers as well. Most people don’t get along well with their in-laws, I think. So the idea that one should get along with their in-laws as a solution to their problem would be absurd.

        Dear Penelope, I agree with you that being in a relationship might be the single most get-out-of-your-comfort-zone experience. Wholeheartedly. And I also agree that someone who can reinvent their career time and time again, while moving all over the globe, is most likely a person who thrives from challenging themselves to grow outside their natural boundaries. This is why I follow your blog and this is also why I choose bits of your wisdom to apply to my own life (the ones that fit me!). But I would also suggest from my incomplete view of the situation, but also as an impartial observer, that it is more within your comfort zone to do the above then what I have suggested, which is to apply a little diplomacy, some respect, and genuine kindness to your difficult situation. Believe me when I tell you that I know what it is to navigate difficult familial relationships that seem political at times. I really don’t think the in-law relationship can ever be easy, but I can tell you from my very own experience (which involves exceedingly-complex family dynamics), that over time, and with patience, some nurturing, and by occasionally shutting your mouth, you might begin to see some of the gems that come along with these relationships. You may know what it is to be counted as a daughter to your farmer’s family and that is all the reward you will need.

        I hope I can help you, but it may be that my advice truly misses the mark for you. In which case, I sincerely apologize and will remain your fan and follower!

  27. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    I just wanted to let you know that this entry made me cry. You are my absolute favorite writer.

  28. ava haas
    ava haas says:

    Mad props for managing to paint yourself as a victim a la the farmer's parents actions are destroying their son's self-respect and he's taking it out on you. That there is the work of a true master. The only reason you've made it this long on the farm is because you're using another human being as a pressure relief valve for the untenable situation in which you've put yourself (you hate having to stay, but you have nowhere to go). When she leaves, how will it work? But yeah, it will all be cool once the farmer learns to open up and releases his inner re-inventor and he figures out how to gross 2k/acre on a 125 acre patch and still keep the lights on. And you're just the person to – €˜help'. You've written enough about your consternation with ag-family-ag-land dynamics that the score is obvious: You're one part gold-digging interloper and one part tourist, using this family as hapless players in your own little destructive theater of life, trying to bag a little coin in the process. It's not hard to see the farmer's parents writing the son out of their will as anything other than a smart, fail-safe measure designed to keep your drama paws off the family's wealth. Like some invading western european army trying to take control of Moscow, you're at the point where you realize you're not getting what you came for, so now you're going to try to burn everything up on your retreat. But you're not getting the land, too. So, in a few years, when you're long gone, maybe the family can try to re-group, heal, and then move on, – €˜post-penelope'. He's dissappointed with his parents now, but it won't be long before he sees just how prudent they were and realizes that they're really acting out of love.

    • Diana
      Diana says:

      Excuse me?
      Do you actually know P and family so intimately that you can judge them so harshly, or do you just routinely read random blog entries and spew your hate and negativity willy-nilly?
      How utterly uncouth.

      Go away, little gnat.

      • Nula
        Nula says:

        Is the comment really that harsh?

        In the eyes of the Farmer’s parents, the law, etc., they aren’t his children. Penelope and the farmer married. If they were, the IRS would come after him for everything.

  29. e
    e says:

    Wondering if because the Farmer has a tough time talking to you about his love of the family farm – he likely has a very difficult time conveying that to his parents.

    This reminds me of my work environment – I do a great job with no direction from my supervisor -but I work with what I have – and that was developed by a pre-existing system. For me to tell my boss that I do a great job during the employee ratings period – well – I would rather not have that conversation.

  30. Hazel
    Hazel says:

    Interesting couple of new comments, looking at the other side. There always is one. I hope that the Farmer enjoys being forced to talk when he says he’d rather not and battling every day about whether or not his live is hell.

    While the farmer’s parents desire for biological grandchildren and a daughter in law who is more similar to them isn’t unusual and they are free to dispose of their property in whatever way they choose, the farmer is correct to stand up for the family he has chosen.

    I was previously married to a man who works for and co-owns a business with his family and there has always been a lot of drama. I was the one they approved of and the conflicts were with their son. It wasn’t a good situation for anyone.

    If the Farmer wants you Penelope to take an active role in his issues with his parents, then he is lucky to have you in his corner. If however, he feels you are pressuring him under duress (which there is a hint of in the way you describe your tactics) then if things go wrong, even if it is he who ultimately makes decisions, he could blame you for meddling.

  31. Casual Observer
    Casual Observer says:

    Just one suggestion – Percocet are not always addicting. It is possible to take them for extended periods and not become addicted. This is a bit of a sore point with me (no pun intended) because too often people don’t use any painkillers for fear they will become addicts, when they really just need to understand how to use them safely. I’m not an expert on this but I did have to take Percocet for almost 2 years running, and when I had surgery to fix the core issue I happily left them behind.

    Best plan of action – get to a pain management doctor who can advise you on using them without becoming addicted.

    But if you have ZERO access to a pain management specialist, then I can pass on a couple tips that helped me during those 2 years:
    1) If they are uncoated, you can split them and take a half-pill. That might make it possible to use 1/2 pill every 4 hours instead of 1 pill every 6. It helps keep the dose down. And knowing you can take another half-pill in just 4 hours lessens the chance you are in very bad pain by the time your next pill is scheduled. Splitting the pills into smaller, more frequent dosages helps even out the peaks & valleys in your pain (and relief from pain).

    2) Don’t take so much that you don’t feel any pain. Your goal should be to change bad pain into just uncomfortable. There is a reason you are in pain, if you feel too good you can be tempted to over-do it. Keep the pain down to a reasonable level, but don’t get rid of it completely.

    3) You should not feel “high” on these – if you do, then you have taken more than you needed at that time. Ideally the Percocet will knock the pain back to where you can handle it – but it won’t take it totally away and make you feel high or foggy.

    4) Lastly – these things can slow down normal bowel function, so if you’ll be on them for awhile make sure you drink a LOT of water and consider a fiber supplement.

    5) Be really f-ing careful with these & write down each dose with the day & time. Be honest about the pain – does it really NEED a percocet right now or does it feel worse because 4 other things in your life are going to shit? It’s a delicate balance to stay on top of pain to keep it from escalating to crazy-bad, while being careful to prevent overmedicating yourself.

  32. brandon
    brandon says:

    I was all ready to come to the defense of the farmer’s point of view on this, but then he wound up getting laid in the end. I think he knows what he’s doing.

  33. Dean
    Dean says:

    It was a great piece – and would have been even without the sex-in-the-pig-barn ending. My big US company is in the process of selling off my division to an Indian company that specializes in outsourcing – the later claim to want to have a bigger footprint here in the States. Buying us workers up is a way around thier Visa shortage and having more US citizens on thier payroll will enable them to go after US government work. I am now in the process of looking back on my career, pulling from it the valuable tools and skills I have built up, and deciding with them how might I re-invent myself? Your Farmer is in much the same boat. Please go easy on him, this is no doubt a very stressful bump in the road.

  34. Brooke Farmer
    Brooke Farmer says:

    You don’t sound like a bitch at all. You sound like a wife who gives enough of a shit about whats on your husband’s mind to do what it takes to get him to talk. It sounds like love to me.

  35. Rita
    Rita says:

    Very funny story, with great pacing! But I can’t help feel sorry for the Farmer’s family who are obviously finding all this exposure impossible to deal with! You have a lot of clout through your blog, and media profile.. perhaps they are letting you know that they also have power (over their land and their wills), and they can’t be pushed around like everyone else in your life.
    You are obviously a force to be reckoned with, but is this really a game you want to ‘win’? I second Rachel’s comments above, that his parents ought to get some credit for producing such a fine and loyal man!

  36. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I’ve been reading your post since 2007 when I thought I wanted to do HR, but this post was really boring Penelope.

    • haitiangurL
      haitiangurL says:

      No what’s boring Melissa is your comment… I needed a large coffee with three shots of espresso to response to your drivel… glad you didn’t go into HR theirs enough heartless, self-serving, vindictive, corporate drones there already….

  37. Kat
    Kat says:

    “I made sure to talk only about innocuous topics like the state of world politics, something that we'd never fight about.” – lol, love that!

  38. Celine
    Celine says:

    All of this over percocet? Sounds like his side of the argument was after he stopped taking it because that’s the most lucid discussion I’ve heard while in pain and on pain drugs. How many pills was he taking? An RX for 60 isn’t unusual when the doctor is far away but from what you’re saying, it sounds like he’s been taking it for awhile. Opiates are addictive but they’re proven to eliminate pain with one side effect: addiction. The new stuff the drug companies are peddling for pain were probably cooked in a meth lab and have all types of side effects, one of which is NOT getting rid of pain. If you want to argue, then telling him not to work while on drugs is logical, although my husband doesn’t listen to this either. Unless his tolerance for percs is very low, it’s unlikely he’s addicted. Chronic pain is hell and opiates get rid of it. If an addiction ensues, it’s more than just 60 pills that caused it.

    • chris Keller
      chris Keller says:

      If there is a chronic condition causing pain and related to the hard physical labor involved in farming, then this is all the better rationale for scaling back on the farm work (or the size of the farm).

      There is also significant danger involved in the operation of a farm. Using machinery and driving shouldn’t be undertaken while on Percocet. Doing so amplifies the danger.

      And Celine’s point about having a rational discussion while in severe pain or while using a narcotic analgesic (such as Percocet) is well-taken.

      Last, no one has yet given you credit, Penelope, for keeping things going while the Farmer was laid up. There is a lot of work to do on a farm. Kudos to you.

      May appreciation continue to flow back and forth among you. Appreciation is golden.

  39. Maureen Sharib
    Maureen Sharib says:

    He’s right to be disappointed by his parents choices.
    The real bitch(es) sound like his parents.

    I think I read once where you said he’s the only “child” working the farm.
    His parents sound like ingrates but I’m sure if they were pressed they’d stubbornly stick to their side of things and feel entirely righteous in doing so.

    It’s obvious they don’t realize how lucky they are to have a child who is willing to continue their life’s work.

    I saw so much of this when I sold small businesses.
    It’s very rare to see a business succeed through successive generations.
    It takes tremendous foresight and understanding (on the parents part) for this to happen.
    It’s obviously something the Farmer’s parents don’t possess.

    Unless I’m missing something that hasn’t been revealed and I must grant that’s entirely possible.

    Let them leave it to his three sisters and their progeny.
    The very high likelihood is it’ll all be gone w/in a year.

    Then he can buy it for pennies on the dollar ’cause that’s all it will be worth.

    • m
      m says:

      Obviously you don’t know what agricultural land is worth in Wisconsin. That land is worth a great deal of money, even as the residential market continues to deflate. You can own land, farm it or rent it out to a tenant-farmer, and still sit on a considerable asset value.

  40. Sadya
    Sadya says:

    How is this reinventing a career? The farm operations & logistics is something that he is already pretty knowledgeable about? He has been in an entrepreneurship role. To me it seems a partnership breakup , something like a professional divorce. Penelope have you been through one like that – a professional breakup?

  41. jen
    jen says:

    I’ve been trying to think of something to say – some healing balm to apply to this horrible disinheritance. I thought of this from the Old Testament Book of Habakkuk:

    Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

  42. Holly
    Holly says:

    I feel for the farmer. I was in a similar situation with my family a few years ago and I chose to walk away from the family business & wealth because I didn’t want them controlling my life. It was one of the hardest but best decisions I have ever made even though we didn’t speak for 2 years. I am sure the farmer has the knowledge and ability to run his own farm with 40 years of experience and will be just fine. Best of luck to you two.

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