September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Family: My husband, Lyle, and I have four children, Veronica, 8, Cory, 7, Elizabeth, 6, and Benjamin, 5.
Tell us about your farm. In 1992, we purchased our farm, which at the time was a tiestall barn. Lyle built a freestall barn and put in a double-12 parallel parlor in the original stanchion barn in 1999. We went from 75 cows to 250 cows. In 2009, we doubled our freestall barn to 500 cows. We milk and feed calves pasteurized milk three times a day. We have 13 to 18 employees depending on the season. We run 1,700 acres, which is used to feed our animals. Lyle does the bookkeeping, runs the crops and does custom work, while I manage the cows. We are looking forward to building a new parlor sometime in the near future. We are believers in giving back to the community by doing many tours for schools and the general community to educate them on today's farming world. We stress the importance to produce high quality and high value dairy products while maintaining high standards of environmental stewardship in excellent working conditions.
What is the busiest time of day for you? My mornings begin at 2:30 with feeding calves and milking or mixing feed. Therefore, it's super busy with employees trying to get them all going on their duties for the day and all the issues that have come up. I am the herdsperson, so any and all issues get tossed my way. Then, trying to make sure the kids are ready for school and on time for the bus is always a challenge. Once they are off to school or have had their breakfast, things slow down until 4 p.m. arrives. Then I have four little ones fighting for their story to be heard as we prepare dinner. Then, it's time for homework, PTA/school events, evening chores, baths and to bed hopefully by 9 p.m. During the summer, days are busy with fieldwork and yard work, which always makes the evenings a non-stop challenge.
How much time do you spend doing farmwork compared to housework? Keeping up with farmwork and housework is a balancing act that I give attention to where it is most required. The kids help a lot with keeping up the house with what they can. Naturally, when they are home all day during the summer, the house requires a little more attention. However, in the spring and fall, we are busy with fieldwork, so the housework falls behind a bit.
What do you do in your free time and why? Between the farm and trying to keep up with the kids, the little amount of free time I have left, I enjoy maintaining my landscaping and cutting grass. I love helping the Holdingford school with learning centers, fundraisers and any way the school needs help. I also like spending time with the kids doing fun things like watching a movie, playing board games, making crafts, going to the lake, going for a short road trip, and spending time with grandparents and family.
What's the best thing about farming? I like being with my family. I get to be with my kids all the time and watch them learn and grow daily, which is truly a blessed experience. Being able to work alongside Lyle as we face challenges together and overcome them makes us stronger. As a family, we live, work, eat and have fun together on a daily basis, which is something that doesn't happen too often in today's world.
When you look back on your life, what do you want to be remembered for? I would like to be remembered for being a good mom, wife, sister, daughter, aunt and friend, and doing the best I could with the life God has given me. That I encouraged that God knows best, even though things don't always go your way. That I worked hard and stayed positive even if I couldn't see the good that would come out of it at the time. That I emphasized to always treat others as you would like to be treated.
Do you have any ideas that could make farming easier for out and all farming women? After growing up on a farm and farming in today's world, it's unbelievable how much the farming community has changed. There used to be many women involved in farming, therefore, so many more were in your situation, which made it seem like your life wasn't quite so hectic. In today's world, there are a lot less of us women involved; therefore, communication with each other is huge. Being able to talk to each other about farming's ups and downs is a big relief. You are not alone but among a small pool of women struggling just as much as the next. Whether it's going to farm shows, meetings or conferences, going on a farm tour or making a phone call or email, find your connection and feel the comfort of sharing your experiences. For instance, for me, going to Vita Plus Chick Day and summits has connected me with many other women who understand.
Tell us about your most memorable experience so far, working on the farm. Lyle had a broken ankle, and I was mixing feed on a beautiful fall Sunday. My three oldest kids decided to play in the hay shed. As I walked back to the house for breakfast, I told Veronica and Cory to come in with me. When I asked where Elizabeth was, they replied in the house. But once in the porch, I noticed Elizabeth's boots, jacket and hat were not in place. When I hollered up to Lyle to see if Elizabeth was in there, he said she was with Cory and Veronica. My heart fell rapidly as I knew they were both with me. I walked back out the door to find Elizabeth. She wasn't in the hay shed, calf boxes or equipment. Three employees started to help me search. With still no sign of her, Lyle called 9-1-1. Multiple squad cars arrived and people were no longer allowed in or out of the yard. It is routine for them to search the entire house three times before checking anywhere outside. I was going crazy thinking that it was a waste of time, knowing my baby girl was outside. After finishing our house search, we moved outside. Stearns County decided to call in the bloodhounds. At that time, we were not able to leave the house as it would interfere with the dogs tracking abilities. The first dog sniffed her pajamas from the night before and went out for an hour, which seemed like an eternity. I thought about how I should be out there looking for her, not standing there doing nothing. The county searched employees' houses and vehicles, and they had four wheelers searching the outskirts of our property. They had a chopper about to leave to do an air search. The St. Stephens Fire and Rescue and a chopper were each on standby to help search if needed. Though I know they are doing everything possible, I couldn't stop thinking if she fell in a manure pit, or if I accidentally scooped her up in the hay where they were playing in and killed my own daughter. Lyle insisted someone had come in the yard and taken her. Veronica and Cory cried saying that she wanted to come by me and ran off by herself, but they didn't know where she went. After praying to God, Stearns County sent out the second dog. About 10 minutes later, they found Elizabeth in the hayshed. With no hesitation, I went running like a lightning strike. I saw the state trooper hand her up to the deputy from in between two round bales. I grabbed her and held her so tightly as she and I cried. The first words out of her mouth were, "Mama, I'm scared of the dogs." Instantly, I knew she was OK. Elizabeth told us that she was running across the bales to come by me and fell down in a hole she couldn't get out of. She cried herself to sleep, only to be awakened by the dogs barking. She suffered a broken shoulder, and until this day, asks why we left her there that day. I thank God and the many people who came to help us that day. That day I learned a very valuable lesson: It's not if it will happen to you, it's when it will happen to you, so take no day for granted.[[In-content Ad]]
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