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Letting Go….

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IMG_4413We are blessed to have 3 children: Zach 18, Cassy Jo 15, and Joey 14.  This photo represents last Tuesday.  Why Tuesday?  Well, my oldest resumed the next chapter in his WA State FFA State Sentinel journey.  He will be in and out of our home for the next year while competing this long sought position.  Our daughter began Drivers Training ~ heads up to all those drivers in our area.  Joey ~ our autistic son who hates the dentist/orthodontist,  well he now has braces.  It may not seem like much, but Tuesday just felt like my kids just flew “light speed” to the next chapter of their lives.  At least I am along for the ride to help guide them and help them when needed.

A Big Cow Named “Bessie”

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This past weekend I had the privilege to participate in the first voyage of “Bessie” the cow through the world famous Ballard Locks.  Ballard Locks is a very popular tourist destination in Seattle.  The Dairy Farmers of Washington took the bold and courageous decision to float “Bessie” through the Ballard Locks in celebration of June Dairy Month.  We handed out cheese, chocolate milk, and coffee flavored milk beverages to the many visitors and spectators at the maiden voyage of “Bessie”.  Never before has such a large cow made her way through the Locks ~ stay tuned for future voyages of “Bessie”.  You never know where she may turn up next.

A SXSW Adventure

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When the call came I was not so sure what to expect.  I accepted the invite from DMI to the 2017 SXSW event and now its time to get started.  The ride from the airport was an adventure.  Did everyone know  there is no UBER in Austin??  After some quick thinking, I caught a cab ride with 3 other attendees.  Did I mention en route to the Convention Center one of my cab mates commented she hates dairy?? Talk about awkward!!!!  The other cab mate works in marketing for USC Athletics.  She mentioned she is here at SXSW to attend crisis training for social media.  We had a few laughs talking about the USC Football program and its challenges.  I will admit she has a pretty cool job.

The dairy hating cab mate asked if any of us had any extra tickets or a floor she could crash on??  Again…..AWKWARD!!  All I can say is there are people everywhere, it’s raining, and I am super excited to get started.  Today I have a few seminars I plan to check out this afternoon.  I have my Starbucks in hand and now it’s time to get going.  Just need to find my map and figure our which way is North…….

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It’s Official ~ I have a badge and a swag bag.  

Meeting New Farmers

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Our family farm is a member/owner of Northwest Dairy Association ~ aka “Darigold”.  Our farm has been a part of this coop since the early 1960’s.  There are many benefits to belonging to our coop and one of the biggest benefits is the Young Cooperators “YC” program.  My husband and I have been participating in this program for over 12 years.  The YC meetings have taken us all over the Pacific Northwest ~ Boise, Twin Falls, Portland, Spokane, Sacramento, Tulare, and Bellingham.

The YC program is a great opportunity to meet young dairy farmers within our coop.  The cool thing is many times you meet fellow dairy farmers that are living very similar situations to yourself.  Kids in diapers?  Pregnant with Baby #?  Working through a transition of farm ownership?  Many times you meet at least one or two fellow dairy farmers experiencing the same kind of events in their life as you.

As my time in the YC program comes to an end, I will treasure the many friends and experiences that I have had over the past 12 years.  I encourage all young dairy farmers to take advantage of this amazing program.  But do not just attend.  Get involved and become a leader within the program!!  You will learn so many skills that will benefit you down the road.

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Hotel Bellwether ~ Beautiful location for the 2017 Spring Darigold YC Meeting

 

Mom…..I want to work for NASA”

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My 12 year old announced this to me a few days ago.  It was in passing, probably after he had read a space story or finished creating another flying object with his legos.  I smiled.  You see… my 12 year old is diagnosed autistic so I was actually fairly surprised he thought about his future and what he might want to be “when he grows up”.  But there is whole other thought that comes to me after he announces his career goals.

We own and operate a dairy farm.  My husband is following in the footsteps as his father.  His father did the same thing (he had a few detours).  We have 3 children, so isn’t it assumed that one of our kids will take over the farm when we are done?  We talk about it sometimes over dinner or during a trip that for sure involves a cow.  Our oldest son and daughter have expressed interest in coming home and assuming the day to day dairy operations (only after college and working for someone else).

I always worry about what my youngest son would do.  Typically I worry more about him completing his homework, making his AR Goal in Language Arts, or not eating anything with gluten.  But the thought of him not being here every day is something that never entered my mind.  I figured the way he loves to “tinker” and build unique things, he would come home and build a self-designed robotic milker or implement some cool flush system not yet created.  But a career with NASA?

I guess I will appreciate the gift he gave me that day.  The gift that he does have goals, he has dreams, and he does have a future.  What a blessing my little Joey has given me.

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Dreaming of rockets and trip to Mars.

Why I Love Being a Dairy Farmer

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When I was growing up, all I wanted to be was a Physical Therapist.  This choice of occupation probably was due to the thousands of hours I spent doing gymnastics.  Tumbling and flipping for over 15 years will result in a few injuries that require a physical therapist.  Well fast forward to college and the quick realization that I was just not cut out for life as a Physical Therapist.  Instead I found myself graduating with 2 Bachelor of Science Degrees ~ Agribusiness and Crop Science.

As I left the beautiful campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, one would think I should naturally find employment in some area of agriculture. I mean I grew up in Napa, how about a winery or vineyard gig?? But when you meet and fall in love with a dairy farmer from Washington State, life takes a different path.  My destiny was to become a dairy farmer and work side by side with my husband and 3 kids running an organic dairy.

Now for the record, I had no idea about dairy farming.  I had never milked a cow, driven a tractor, or fed a calf.  I was a “green” or “naive” as anyone could possibly be.  So when you pair that with the fact I was a true “city” girl, I didn’t have much going for me.  But I will say this, I had the desire to learn, the desire to listen, and the ability to just go with the flow because quite honestly I did not know any better.

So what do this have anything to do with “Why I Love Being a Dairy Farmer”?  Dairy is full of all different types of people, opinions, cows, farm types, and styles of farming.  As long as you have a desire to learn and listen, the dairy community is full of all kinds of people willing to teach and help.  As long as you are humble, willing to listen, and respectful to those around you, anything is possible.  As for this former “city” girl, I am so blessed I can work along side my husband every day running our successful organic dairy.  For the record, I still enjoy a nice trip to the city ~ I can always find something to bring home from Macy’s and Costco.

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What Does the New Year Mean?

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cows-2015Of course I meant to write this right at the turn of the new year.  When you live on a farm, many things get in the way of the “to do” list.  I had the goal to put down in print a few goals I have for 2017 but horrible below freezing temperatures, snow, and a round of the flu managed to completely derail my plan.

Now that the ice and snow have thawed and the house has been disinfected top to bottom I can get back to my thoughts and wishes for 2017.

1 ~ Appreciate and treasure the time I have with my family.  For too long I could not wait for my kids to be out of diapers, sleeping through the night, attending school all day……  The list goes on and it was all so I could have a few more minutes for me.  Well now as I look at the calendar, I realize I have very little time left with my kids before they head off to the next chapter in their life.  How did it go so fast?  Just yesterday I had a preschooler, infant, and a third on the way.  It just went by so fast and now all I want to do is slow it down.

2.  Appreciate and enjoy the life I have everyday.  I know this sounds easy and simple.  All it takes is a review of the newspaper or quick 30 minute newscast to showcase that there is so much sadness and suffering not so far from home.  I am so blessed to live on a beautiful farm and count cows and calves as my neighbors.  I have the pleasure of walking to work twice a day and I never have to worry about traffic.  It really is an ideal situation and I must remember to love and appreciate it every day.

3.  Encourage my kids to take chances.  I love routine.  I thrive on routine.  Maybe that is why dairy farming is the best job for me.  I want my kids to take chances.  I want them to be ok if something does not go like they want.  I never thought I would be married to a dairy farmer and living in rural Washington.  I took a chance and I never looked back.

Here’s to a great 2017.

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