October 12, 2020 at 3:23 p.m.

Women in Dairy: Rikki Van Dyk

Rikki Van Dyk
New Richmond, Wisconsin
St. Croix County
70 cows

Family: My husband, Chris, and I have four boys, Tyler, 21, Derek, 17, and twins Landon and Lane, 11.

Tell us about your farm. I joined the farm 12 years ago when I married my husband, Chris. Prior to that, Chris was farming with his parents, John and Eileen. We have Holsteins and Jerseys. We started raising and milking Jerseys about seven years ago, and prior to that we had only Holsteins. Five years ago, we went through a barn fire. We didn’t lose any animals directly from the fire but lost the barn. We have rebuilt and continue to love farming. We also have 18 chickens, five goats, two dogs and barn cats.

What is the busiest time of day for you? I’m busy all day long. Mornings start out with feeding calves, and after that, the cows get milked and fed, followed by cleaning mangers and pens. By this time, the kids are in the barn helping. Heifers are fed, cows are let outside and stalls are bedded. Breakfast is sometime in between all that. Once barn chores are done then house work, lawn work and other farm work gets done along with lunch. I might sneak in a quick nap. By afternoon, the cows come in and get fed. Calves and heifers are fed and milking starts. Once milking is done, the milking cows are fed one more time, everyone is checked on, and pens and the back of the stalls are scraped. After chores, we eat supper and relax.

When you get a spare moment, what do you do? I like gardening and canning. I just learned to crochet so I’ve been working on granny squares. I enjoy spending time with my family, hiking, fishing or having a camp fire.

Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. I didn’t grow up on a farm. When I started dating my husband, I wanted to see a calf be born. I waited awhile, and it was so amazing. It’s still one of my favorite things on the farm.

What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? I enjoy being able to work side-by-side with my husband and family and raising our kids on the farm. Our youngest have pretty much been raised in the barn. I work part time in a nursing home as a nurse, and the residents love to hear stories and see pictures of the farm and animals.

How do you stay connected with others in the industry? Social media, attending cow shows and the county fair.

Who is someone in the industry who has inspired you? My grandma. Her and Grandpa farmed until I was 11 or 12. I remember my grandma was such a hard worker, and she was always happy. When I started farming, we would talk farm talk all the time. She is gone now, but I think of her often when I’m in the barn. Also my husband. He has taught me all I know about taking care of the cows, heifers and calves. He would go out of his way to help someone or take care of an animal.

If you could give a tour of your farm to a prominent woman in today’s society, who would it be? I can’t think of anyone, but the residents I take care of love to hear stories. I would invite all the residents who would want a tour to come out to the farm and sit and talk with them about their farming lives or answer their questions.

What is the best vacation you have ever taken? We usually go camping once a year with the kids. During the county fair, the kids and I stay at the fair in the camper. We do barn chores at the fair until my husband is done with chores at home. My husband and I try to get away, usually a night, for our anniversary.

What are some words you like to live by? Get it done right the first time. There’s a sign that hangs in the barn, “Every cow is a lady and treated as such.”


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