September 28, 2020 at 2:35 p.m.

Women in Dairy: Susan Geise

Susan Geise
Bowlus, Minnesota
Morrison County
60 cows

    Family: Husband Darrell and children Angeline, 18, Catherine, 8, Adam, 12, and LeRoy, 5.  
    Tell us about your farm. Darrell and I took over his family farm about 11 years ago. We milk around 60 cows in a tiestall barn. In addition to raising our replacement heifers and Holstein steers, we started raising some Angus cross. We run a few acres to feed our animals along with some cash crops and have a broiler barn with Pilgrims Pride that Darrell has operated for close to 19 years. While Angie has moved away and is working as a CNA and on her nursing degree, the other three kids work alongside Darrell and I on our farm.  
    What is the busiest time of day for you? Now that school has started again, it is mornings. I help start milking and then do some feeding before I need to get the younger two up and dressed for school and make sure Adam makes it out of the barn to catch the bus. Now that Angie has flown the nest, it has made me realize these are fleeting times. Soon Cate will not need me to do her hair, and LeRoy will not need to be reminded, again, that we cannot wear swim trunks to school.  
    When you get a spare moment, what do you do? We get together with other farmers and talk about farming. We like to attend church bazaars and town festivals. We have had a close group of friends and family we get together with.  
    Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. Darrell was busy in the fields, and Adam and I were starting to milk. We were starting to work with him on how to actually milk the cow. He was switching the unit from one cow to another. The cow that was finished milking was a daughter of one of the cows we bought from Darrell’s dad when we took over. The cow he was switching to was a cow we had purchased from my father a few months earlier when he had retired from dairy. The passing down of family traditions, watching my son learn the industry that generations before him had done and with animals from both sides of our family. Every time I watch the video of that milking I think to myself, “Now this is why I farm.”
    What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? Family. I get to work with my husband every day. I have my kids working alongside us. Darrell’s dad is over every day so I get to see the kids interact with him and learn from him. We have brother-in-laws and a nephew who help with fieldwork. Family is all around us. I like that my kids can grow up like that and understand the meaning of family.  
    How do you stay connected with others in the industry? We have some friends in the industry we get together with. Most of it is from social media. I will admit there are some downsides to Facebook, but I love how I can connect with farmers all over the United States. One of my favorite resources is a dairy mom group.
    Who is someone in the industry who has inspired you? My dad. I remember growing up watching him and working with him. He has taught us so much about life and hard work and how to treat other people. He ran a dairy farm and along with my mother raised six girls. Any man with that many females in his life deserves a medal. I am proud to be continuing the farming legacy and hope my work has made him proud.  
    If you could give a tour of your farm to a prominent woman in today’s society, who would it be? Minnesota’s first lady, Gwen Walz. A bit ago, her husband, in referencing Greater Minnesota and it’s political influence, had dismissed it because, “It’s mostly rocks and cows.” While this was not a comment that he ever meant to become public, my first thought was, “Wait, my cows are awesome.” While Gwen was from a relatively small town, sometimes as people move away they forget. I would like to show her not only are we well educated people with well-formed opinions, but we work hard and care for our animals and our land.  
    What is the best vacation you have ever taken? For Darrell and I’s seven-year anniversary, we got away for the night. We didn’t do anything super special. We just went to the casino, and he lost all my winnings (which is how the story goes when I tell it). But it being just us, no kids, no cows, no friends or colleagues, it was the best vacation I had ever had.
        What are some words you like to live by? “You teach others how to treat you.” I am not perfect, and sometimes I can get into that funk. Why are the kids not listening? Why isn’t my husband appreciating me? If you are a wife and mother, you know what I am talking about. This is in the back of my mind. It makes me feel like I have power in the situations where I usually didn’t. I can make a change to see a difference.


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