September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
To my readers, until we meet again
I have photographed your children, laughed at your jokes and shaken your hands. I have felt your fear and frustration in times of low milk prices and drought, have loved seeing your smiles when your child earns his or her first blue ribbon in the showring or when you finish putting in a good harvest.
I have had my eyes swell up with tears at the tragedies, such as the cows that died in a barn fire or when a beloved father was killed by a bull. I have shared your joy when things are going well, and the satisfaction of a job well done.
I have literally met hundreds and hundreds of you. And of the hundreds of farms I have been on, I can honestly say I have yet to meet any two farmers who do things the same. The one consistent thing has been that you are all generally a bunch of proud, independent farmers who I have been more than happy to work with.
I have been humbled by kindness by many of you, felt flattered by your invitations and honored by your friendships. I have relished visiting with you and writing down your stories; just as you have a passion for what you do, that is my passion.
Growing up on our family's 50-cow dairy farm in Green County, Wis., I didn't realize what an amazing world each dairy farm is. Dairy producers are amazing managers of crops and animals; they put most corporate CEOs to shame with how many decisions they make in a day. Things are constantly juggled and prioritized; the work is never really truly done. Most of you spend as much time with your kids as possible and attend as many of their events as you can. I really respect that as well.
I think it has been an important lesson to me to come back to the dairy industry as an adult. I have a much deeper appreciation for the hard work, joys and heartbreaks.
There are no other smells in the world like the sweetness of fresh cut hay, the pungency of silage or the acidic smell of a milkhouse. Because I was able to visit your farms, I was able revisit those smells again and again. I loved it.
During the nearly 10 years I have written for the Dairy Star, things have changed considerably in my own home. When I wrote my first Boylen Over column for you, I was the parent of a 3 year old and a 5 year old. I had only been an Iowan for several years; I did not know your families and many connections between all of you in the dairy world of Iowa.
Now my children are 13 and 15, know themselves as Iowans, and I call many of you friends.
It is with a heavy heart that I tell you this is my last Boylen Over column to appear in this paper, and the last issue my articles will appear in. This was not my decision, but like many other things in life you just need to take things as they come, and believe that something even better will come along.
I believe that when one door in life closes, another opens. Sometimes, it feels like a door on your path is slammed in your face and it takes a few moments of stunned silence before you realize you need to keep moving forward, but that is OK too. It's all part of living.
I promised myself I wouldn't tear up when writing this, but you know what? Tears are part of life too, and that is also OK. Change is sometimes hard, but almost always necessary.
Thank you to the dairy farm families of northeast Iowa. I have loved working with you, I have loved getting to know you, and I love what you do. Thank you, and I hope we meet again.