September 28, 2020 at 2:18 p.m.

Women in Dairy: Danielle Harris

Danielle Harris
Burlington, Wisconsin
Racine County
255 cows
    Family: I have been married to my husband, Heath, for 14 years. We have three wonderful children – Connor, 10, Carson, 7, and Cadence, 4. I work daily with my brother, Mark Wilson, his wife, Jenny, and their daughters, Kayla, 23, and Kate, 13, and son, Sawyer, 11.  
    Tell us about your farm. MJ Dairy is located in southeastern Wisconsin close to the Illinois border. My brother purchased the farm from our mom which included 240 tillable acres and rents an additional 120 acres. The original stanchion barn was remodeled with a double-8 herringbone parlor for 90 cows in 1998. Now, we milk 230 cows twice per day. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a dairy science degree in 2006. Soon after, my brother approached me to be his first herdsman on the dairy. We determined my strengths and main responsibilities would be caring for the fresh cows, vaccinating, breeding, working with the vet for pregnancy check, entering all cow-related paperwork into our SCR computer program and My Agsource, and feeding all groups of animals with the TMR mixer. Although these are my primary responsibilities, it would not be unusual to see me fill in driving tractor for any other necessary fieldwork.
    What is the busiest time of day for you? The busiest time of day depends on the cows. If I have any fresh cows or any sick cows, they are my first priority after milking. This year, I have been picking my 4-year-old daughter up off the bus at 11:30 a.m. I plan my day to finish all my hands-on cow work, breeding, shots, IVs or any other in-pen work to be completed before I pick her up. Then she helps me finish mixing feed, picking up around the farm and doing paperwork. I try to finish all my farm work around 2 p.m. We head home to prepare supper before my two sons get off the bus, and we have to head out to sports practices or games. Honestly, my entire day is a very blessed busy.
    When you get a spare moment, what do you do? I love to work in my flower beds, plant flower pots and work in my vegetable garden. On bad weather days, I love to reorganize and clean in the house. In the winter, I enjoy coaching my son’s basketball team. As a family, we love to take our UTV out around the farm property or on county trails and enjoy nature around us.
    Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. My most memorable experiences are when the whole family is involved and working together to accomplish a task. We are all together covering the feed piles and moving hundreds of tires, or in the fields picking rocks. Even the precious one-on-one time I now get with my daughter in the skid loader and tractor singing songs and hearing about her hopes and dreams. My heart overflows with joy and happiness that my family has these opportunities and experiences together.  
    What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming? I enjoy setting goals and working toward their accomplishment. The feeling of success is a driving force to set minor goals that may be achieved monthly but also long-term goals that take patience, mental strength and stamina.   
    How do you stay connected with others in the industry? I rely on Facebook and other group pages. My two favorites would be Dairy Moms and Exchange by Dairy Girl Network. This year would be an exception, but I always look forward to the county fair and World Dairy Expo to reconnect and see what is new with industry professionals but also with personal friends we see at these events every year.
    Who is someone in the industry who has inspired you? I am inspired by attending presentations sponsored by our vet clinic on new ways to improve our herd. I am also often inspired by my fellow alumni with what they are accomplishing and are improving at their own farms.  
    If you could give a tour of your farm to a prominent woman in today’s society, who would it be? I would rather it be to a group of young women in a high school ag class or 4-H club. I would share with them the opportunities and possibilities within agriculture from daily farm work to the vast number of people it takes to bring supplies to farmers, and hopefully inspire them to continue down a path in agriculture.
    What is the best vacation you have ever taken? Every vacation has been so incredibly memorable. I am so grateful we can offer new experiences and show our kids new places every summer. Time spent as a family and watching our kids light up experiencing new adventures and seeing new places is always the best.
    What are some words you like to live by? Don’t put off until tomorrow on what you can accomplish today.


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