What does D-A-I-R-Y mean to me?

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Many friends and family comment that it must be cool to be a dairy farmer. I hear comments such as “You don’t have a boss” or “It can not be that hard to milk cows, right?”. I always smile and respond it a polite and respectful manner. But sometimes I wonder why I love dairy farming. For the past few days I have spent many hours mowing hay so I have had plenty of time to think about this. I have come up with the following 5 reasons why I love my life as a dairy farmer.
D – Dedication – The dairy industry is full of people that show an amazing dedication to their farms, families, faith, and communities. I am proud to be a part of an industry that demonstrates this dedication daily, weekly, monthly, and so on no matter the conditions or time of year. Too often we see examples of people who lack any sort of dedication and wonder why they are not successful.
A – Animals – I will admit I love the jersey cow. Our farm is mostly Holsteins (especially red and white) but we have managed to bring in a few jerseys. You can not be a successful dairy farmer and not love animals. The animals come first – whether it is your birthday, Christmas, or your children’s Spring Concert. If there is an emergency, it takes priority!! With that said, our animals are the reason we are successful. We take great pride in the way we treat and care for our animals. They all have names, numbers, and personalities. I love watching them grow from little baby calves that depend on me twice a day for milk to milk cows that are gentle giants in the parlor. I cry when a favorite cow dies or is sick.
I – Industry – Some may cringe at the word industry. The fact is dairy farming is an industry. We are an industry that involves many different components. It is a industry that supports our local communities, schools, churches, and businesses. It is difficult to accurately explain how valuable a dairy farm is to many businesses in small town all across the United States. Our farm relies on many small businesses in Lewis County and without these businesses our farm would not be successful. It is an industry that relies on Cooperatives to market our milk, Processors to sell our milk, DMI to help create more demand for our product, NMPF to help with laws affecting our farms, and it goes on and on.
R – Respect – Farmers are one of the most respected groups of people. The public trusts a farmer. Do you remember the reaction to the Super Bowl Dodge Ram commercial highlighting the Paul Harvey story about the American Farmer. It feels good to know that a majority of the community respects and admires what we do for a living.
Y – Youth – This is how our dairy will survive. There are so many opportunities for the youth in this industry. Opportunities exist both on and off the farm. Not everyone who loves farm animals must become a vet. You could work for a feed company, Semen Sales company, Pharmaceutical company, Cooperatives, and the list goes on. If we want our farm and industry to continue we need to continue to create opportunities for our youth.
Every dairy farmer has different reasons why they love what they do, I hope you enjoy why I love D-A-I-R-Y.
2014-07-10 14.07.16


Why I Love Dairy Cows

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“Let’s go cow tipping” or “Chocolate Milk comes from Brown Cows” or “Strawberry Milk comes from Red Cows”.  We have all heard these funny ideas people have about dairy cows.  I am sure you have seen a t-shirt highlighting one of these “myths” or “urban legends” about cows.  As of today, I have been married to my dairy farmer husband for over 16 years.  In all of those years, I have never witnessed a “cow tipping” event.  What I have seen is the love and dedication dairy farmers have for their animals.  From the newborn calf struggling to take its first breath, an older cow having a tough time getting up from her stall, or a new cow in the milking parlor that refuses to go in and get milked for the first time (FYI – the first time is always the toughest) most dairy farmers have a level of compassion that is unbelievable.  I wish more people could see this and understand this is the norm and not the exception.  With that said, my children’s 4-H animals are like members of our family.  We are lucky that we can keep them in a barn where we can interact, play, pet, and talk with them every day.  If you ever have a chance to watch a 4-H dairy show at your local fair, please take the time to watch.  You will be amazed at the amount of love and dedication these kids have for their animals.  Remember, you may not ever be able to “tip” a cow, but you never know when you could ride one like a horse 🙂

2014-07-02 09.31.18Brownie – My daughter’s show heifer who was quietly enjoying a day in the sun.

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