November 30, 2020 at 7:54 p.m.
Tell us your favorite experience of your daughter helping with chores. I love spending time with my kids, especially in the milking parlor. Clara and I (Holly) currently milk most nights together. When she was young, Clara would ride with me in the field. When her older siblings, Nick and Katie, were in elementary school and Clara was a toddler, she was my shadow. There were several nights during harvest when I put the older two to bed after milking, but she would claim she was not tired. So, we would go out to the field. She would first sit in the buddy seat and ask a million questions, then sit on the floor and play with her blankie and then climb up to lay across my lap and she would be out like a light. Donny would want to take her in to the house when he came for the next load, but there was something so peaceful about having her there with me. To this day, she is quite often the one who brings me peace when I am most frustrated.
What qualities does your daughter have that benefit the farm? Clara is a gentle soul with a strong mind and body. She is very good with the animals – gentle, yet does an awesome job with things like treatment, vaccinations and sorting. Clara can lift almost any newborn calf and carry it in to get fully dried and fed. She loads 30 gallons of milk for the pasteurizer twice a day, carries multiple pails of feed and can push a fresh heifer into the parlor for me. Clara is highly intelligent and pushes herself to be the best she can be with school, activities and looking to the future. She can handle nearly any task we ask of her. She really is great with cows, youngstock and crop work.
Student: Clara Thompson
What are your responsibilities on the farm? On an average day, I feed calves twice a day at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. I also milk cows at 4 p.m. When I am not in school, I also help with vaccinations, pregnancy checks, hoof-trimming, dehorning, bedding and other tasks as needed.
When did you begin helping on the farm? When our newest barn was built, I was 4 years old and very intrigued. I would wander alone up to the parlor and try my best to post-dip cows on my 5-gallon pail. I remember one of our employees asked me to leave because he was afraid I would get hurt, but I was stubborn and came back night after night to post-dip cows. When I was 8 years old, I began helping my sister feed calves. It was a suggestion made by my parents after I complained I was bored one too many times. Two years later, my mom noticed a dramatic increase in our somatic cell count. She made the decision to let go of our hired help and teach my siblings and I how to milk the cows alongside her and my dad.
How do you balance school, extracurricular activities and farm chores? Some things are easier to balance than others. On nights I have FFA, I will complete chores that are not time sensitive (like feeding grain) and start milking a little earlier. We also try our best to get our slower milking cows in the parlor at the same time. I will feed calves a little earlier too. If I have to leave earlier, like for 4-H, I will wait to feed calves until I get back. My mom plays a huge role in all of this. If I have to leave, she is willing to milk on her own while I am away and start feeding calves if I cannot make it home soon enough.
How has working on the farm shaped your character? I have been taught to be patient, hardworking, honest and a team player. I could have learned these values anywhere, but they are naturally learned here on the farm where they are used every day.
What do you love most about farm life? I love how every day is different along with the friendships I have been able to make because of the farm. Most of all, I love watching a calf grow and develop into a strong milk cow.
What is one thing you have learned from working alongside your parents/employer? My mom always says, “You can’t get ‘em done if you don’t get ‘em on,” when we are milking. Both my mother and father have always set a “work, then play” example for me and my siblings.
What are your future plans? I plan to major in animal science at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I would love to have a job centered around dairy, whether as a nutritionist, veterinarian or something else.