7/24/2017 10:24:00 AM Women in Jeans: Kassandra Christenson
Westby, Wis. Vernon County 43 cows Please tell us about your family. I am married with no children, yet, but we have two Golden Retrievers that we love dearly. On the other hand, I feel as though I am part of an even bigger family. I've grown to know some amazing farmers - farmers that have taught me so much and have helped my husband and I and continue to mentor us and other farmers. I consider them all family. Tell us about your farm. My husband, Jordan, and I milk about 43 cows, the majority of which are registered Holsteins. We also have a handful of Jerseys and Brown Swiss. A few years back, we transitioned our farm to organic and currently ship to Westby Creamery. We are renting a barn to milk in, along with 80 acres. Our home farm, where my husband grew up, is about 100 acres. We are in a rent-to-own agreement with his family. The 100 acres consist of tillable and woodland, which we love for hunting. We run about 250 acres of tillable and about 300 acres of pasture throughout the county. At the home farm, we are under construction for our new parlor and freestall barn. The freestall barn will have 75 stalls, but we plan to milk between 50 and 60 cows. The rest of the stalls will be used in the winter for springers and dry cows. What's the busiest time of day for you? In the winter, I suppose mid-day is the busiest. The rest of the year, when I come in for a bite to eat, it just depends on the day. I do most of the milking and calf feeding. When it's fieldwork time, I try to help as much as I can. When you get a spare moment, what do you do? Jordan and I will do some hunting or fishing together. If there's not a lot of down time, we just walk through our woods or check on the crops. Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. Until this year, it would have been the first time I delivered a set of twins with the help of a fellow dairy farmer when my husband was in the military in Iraq. I had never sleeved a cow or pulled a calf. We delivered twin heifer calves, and from that point on I get excited to see our youngstock grow up and have more calves. My other memorable moment was this last May, when we classified our cattle. One of our first bred-and-owned went Excellent. That goes back to the first cow family my husband ever owned. What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? I enjoy just about all aspects of dairy farming, from the milking to feeding youngstock to fieldwork. It all gives me great joy, working side by side, farming with my husband. How do you stay connected with others in the industry? I talk to fellow farmers. There's social media and going to the annual meetings that our creamery puts on, as well as the annual meetings of Select Sires. What's the importance of women in today's dairy industry and how have you seen that change over the years? I feel that times have changed. Farming isn't just a man's world. When I was in school, I had a teacher tell me that being an A.I. tech was not a woman's profession, and neither was farming. I would have money, so I should find something else. But through all the odds, to this day I breed my own cows and work hard for what I have. I want all young women and girls to know they can work in this industry, too. If you put your heart into it, anything is possible. It takes all of us working together to be successful. Women have gone from being on the side of the operation to running it, as I do. If you could give a tour of your farm to a prominent woman in today's society, who would it be and why? I would show it to any elected lady in office, so maybe she could see the importance of women in the industry, as well as the impact the industry has in the county, state and world. I would ask whoever it was to create a commercial showing young women working in the fields and showing that farming is for both men and women. What is the best vacation you've ever taken? Most of our vacations are like business vacations. Most recently, we went to a dispersal sale at Indianhead Holsteins. We saw some great cattle that day, which made us think a lot about a mentor that had also been their mentor through the years. That evening, we talked to other farmers from Germany and Australia. It was great to just talk cattle with others who don't live in our area. The day after the sale, we got to meet up with an old college friend of my husband's and tour his farm. We got some ideas just from seeing his farm so that we can better improve our heifer facilities. What are some words you like to live by? Faith, family, cows, friends.