The secrets to our success!

Often times I am asked what is the secret to our success. I really think that most everyone expected our dairy farm to fail in the first year.

My answers are very simple:

  1. God: Yes, I said it. God is the main reason for our success. We are far from perfect, we fail every day to meet God’s expectations. We sin just as everyone else. Every day we strive to be better and strive to live according to God’s word. Most importantly when talking about the farm, we gave it to God. We had hit a wall where we were not certain we could take anymore and we gave it to him. We said let it be what you want it to be. If you want us to farm, please help us to continue to farm. If you want us somewhere else, please put us somewhere else. BUT please walk by us as we do it because we CANNOT do it on our own. We strive to be better, strive to live the way we should, strive to let go of the reins and let Him have complete control. And when we get a little off course, He is quick to remind us we cannot do it on our own.
  2. Farmer: He is hands down the hardest worker I have ever known in my life. He has no “quit” in him. He pushes forward when most would walk away. Not only does he put in the physical work but he is so incredibly business smart. He knows all his girls, he knows all their daughters, he know who is producing what, he knows who is pregnant and how far along.  I guarantee he knows who was sold, who has passed and how they went or why. He knows this farm and the girls like the back of his hand. He takes his business relationships very seriously and works hard to honor his word or make things right when needed. I could go on but I think you get the point that I think my farmer is so beyond amazing.
  3. Other Farmers: I think this is something most people overlook when talking about success of a farm or farmer. We have AMAZING people that we buy feed from. They are so willing to work with us. The allow us to pay as we feed as we operate on a cash flow only basis. They make their feed prices reasonable and their payments easy for us to afford. They are there when we need them. So many times one farmer in particular has provided us with tractors when ours were down. Most of the farmers we do business with are either dairymen or former dairymen. They understand dairy farming and know how hard we work. I hope they know how much we appreciate them. We are very grateful for the other farmers, some we think of as family and many would be there if we needed them. We would be there if they need us. Farmers need other farmers or at least we do!

So that sums it up as to why we are successful. But what exactly is success?! To some it is determined by what you drive, what we wear or where you live. Some it is what your paycheck says or the amount in your bank account. Some it is a fancy title. To us, it is that we go out every day and chase the “American Dream”. We are successful because we are trying, we are working hard, we have goals, dreams and aspirations in life. We are working every day to make those dreams reality.

Thank you to all the farmers that have helped make us “successful”.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Yes, a cow has a special place in my heart.

Yes a cow has a special place in my heart

SO beyond excited for tomorrow. Why do you ask?! Well because my favorite girl is coming home from being out on pasture all summer long. She has no name although “favorite girl” would fit her just fine. Once upon a time (ok well it still is) her number was 6199. She likes to scratch her head, so I am assuming her split ear means her number tag is somewhere out on pasture. Some might wonder how a cow could possibly hold such a special place in a person’s heart. Well I will tell you.

It was LOVE at first sight. OK, well that was kind of cheesy. It was love at “I want my head scratched & almost just knocked you over in the manure”. Yep, she was the first cow that gave me loves, a little too much love. You see, she is about 1200-1300 pounds. I am NOT! I was new to the farm and she wanted her head scratched. So after realizing what she wanted, I scratched her head. The end.

Ok, not so much. Once I “scratched her head” it was ALL over. She would hear my voice in the barn and come find me. She would plow through the other cows or knock them out of the way to get to me. Did I mention that was only for me?! She doesn’t really care for the guys (smart girl). She would shove her head under the milking stalls while being milked for me to scratch her head. She would hold up traffic on the way to the milk parlor to get some attention. To be honest, she became kind of a pest for whoever is milking. She wasn’t and still isn’t the best milk cow. She probably doesn’t even milk enough to pay for her feed. But I fell in love with her and she helped me fall in love with farming. It is also important to note that I was scared of cows when farmer and I started dating. She helped me get over that.

SO my poor farmer had no idea what that meant until last year when she wouldn’t get pregnant. She was overdue for being pregnant especially for a cow that was losing us money. He gave her several chances to get pregnant and had her checked several times because he knew how much I loved her. But then he had to make the call that she had to go to the sale. Well, that didn’t last very long. I guess his bawling wife was a little too much for him to handle. So he canceled her trip to the sale and gave her another chance. One FINAL chance.

The vet showed up to do herd health. Farmer pulled put her with the girls the vet needed to check out. Of course my nerves were all over the place. I think (ok, I actually did) I threatened the vet to say that she was pregnant. But after her pushing her way to the end of the line it was finally her turn. Guess what!?!? SHE WAS PREGNANT!

I think my farmer had mixed emotions. On one hand I think he was wishing this “problem cow” could go and the other he was grateful I wasn’t sobbing uncontrollably. SO, we placed her out on pasture with all our young stock heifers. She did what she does best, eat & get fat. She gave me lots of loves all summer when I would check the girls & fences.

So we will skip the part where she keeps getting out of the fence and go straight to the part where she is coming home tomorrow!! To be honest, I am a little nervous. She should be “looking” as if she should be due to have a calf and she honestly looks like she is not even pregnant. So instead of placing her right into the maternity pin, she will go on pasture right by the barn so she can be checked out by our vet.

All summer I have been so excited and hoping that she will have a heifer calf. But I have also been teasing farmer saying we need to keep the bull calf for breeding purposes. Not sure why he thinks that is a bad idea. 😉

So there it is, the story of how a cow stole my heart and farmer’s pocketbook.

So here she is in all her glory. 6199 aka “favorite girl”.

Update: She had a bull calf in 2013, a heifer in 2014 & we are patiently waiting for her 2015 calf.

Make sure to follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

I Want Consumers to Feel Farming

Truth is farming is tough. OK, well it is really tough. I had no clue what I was getting into when I fell in love with a dairy farmer. You see, it was easy for me to fall in love with the farmer. He was handsome, hard working, extremely motivated, had his own business, had these cute baby calves & he loved my daughter and I. I got to ride around on his big green tractor, feed calves, ride around in big trucks and it was all SO exciting.

Once we were married, I got to stay at home to raise our kids and help on the farm. My main responsibility was raising the baby calves, the farm books and various other things. The calves, well who doesn’t love baby calves. It was easy for me to do that job and LOVE it. The books, well I am a numbers person and I LOVE office work. I will never forget the first time I wrote a check for over $20,000. My hands were shaking, I was trying to figure out how to write it out and fit it all on that tiny little line. I quickly decided with the help of Facebook that I really wanted to share our story with everyone. Why, well because I went from an ignorant consumer who believed everything she read about farming to being the actual farmer. WOW! What a difference. Most everything I had read about or seen as being “fact”, well it wasn’t so. So I took on that task to “educate the world”. Boy, was I in for it.

The second year is when things started to hit me. Farming was tough. Cows died, calves died, employees made very costly mistakes, employees quit, employees are expensive to pay, employees get fired, hay gets rained on, silage bags get holes, feed gets sold out from under you, tractors get flat tires, tractors break down, trucks get flat tires, trucks break down, deer and turkeys eat a large amount of your feed, cows get out at the worst possible moment, milking equipment breaks, feed prices are too high, milk prices are too low, some cows do not get pregnant, some cows have to be sold, beef prices are not always good, there is always some sort of inspection, there are always some new guidelines to follow, you have rules from the IRS, L&I, Employment Security Department, Department of Agriculture, Department of Ecology, Department of Transportation, you have to carry a large not so cheap insurance policy, your neighbors gossip, your neighbors are always calling you in for something, people always stop in to be nosey, etc.

You see, that list is a constant, but everything I just listed happened just this year (2013) and SO much more. I see the hours my farmer puts in to make our operation successful only to sign checks twice a month to employees that make more then we do. Every time we turn around, it is something. There are so many variables in farming, so many things that “can” go wrong and eventually do. You see, most farmers do it for the way of life. To be honest, that is what I once used to justify all of this. But lately I just haven’t seen how this way of life is worth it. Farmers need to feed the world, that is the truth. Farmers are the minority feeding the majority, that is a fact. What farmers endure to provide a quality product for consumers is just plain insane. It would be one thing if they had consumers support, but that is simply not the case. No one seems to have any respect for farmers. Every day there is some new sort of “farmer bashing”. You have major restaurant chains calling farmers lazy and others implying that they only consider their animals as objects.

When my farmer walks down the driveway on his way to put one of his girls down with his head hung down and his stomach in knots. I want consumers to feel that.

When I sat down at the barn with a sick calf; her in a vest, wrapped in one of my good blankets, a heat lamp, her being so weak that I had to tube her food/medicine and ultimately losing the battle. I want consumers to feel that.

When we worked with one of our girls for weeks trying to help her stand on her own and failing at it. I want consumers to feel that.

When we woke up on Thanksgiving morning to find our main piece of equipment in flames right next to the barn. I want consumers to feel that.

When the vet says one of my girls is not pregnant and will not breed. The feeling I feel when she goes on the truck. I want consumers to feel that.

When in a two month time period, EVERY piece of equipment you own breaks down and you do not have extra money. I want consumers to feel that.

When a piece of milking equipment breaks and you have to watch a full tank of milk go down the drain. I want consumers to feel that.

When we have to do an emergency surgery on a cow or have to induce labor to save a cow/calf. I want consumers to feel that.

When the federal inspector shows up two weeks early and your heart is racing. I want consumers to know that feeling.

I want consumers to know the truth about farmers. I want them to have respect for farmers. I want to help feed the world and feel like the world actually deserves it.

There is no “one way” to farm. There is no way we can feed the world like it was done in the 1900’s. AND there is a reason why their are less farms feeding this growing population.

Truth is, I am just a burnt out farmer’s wife/farmer. I love my farmer, love my kids, love my farm, love my girls.

Truth is,  if you want to know the truth about farming.  Go to a farmer.

Truth is, you need to understand what farmers do and how they do it. Why? Because they do it for you.

Truth is…