April 11, 2022 at 5:40 p.m.
“My mom, Julie, is usually the first one to get to the barn in the morning,” Melendy Miller said. “She holds down the fort.”
The Millers − Stacy, Julie and two of their children − Markus and Melendy − milk 88 cows in a double-8 parallel parlor on their farm near Plainview.
Melendy graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2019 and now works full time on the farm in addition to substitute teaching and being the coordinator for Wabasha County’s dairy princess program.
“I knew when I graduated high school that I wanted to work in the industry, and as I got farther into my college career, I realized this is where I want to be,” Melendy said.
While Julie and Markus were milking the cows, Melendy fed calves, and Stacy fed the heifers and scraped manure.
“I have about 21 calves right now,” Melendy said. “Since coming home, I have started my own calf program and make sure they are taken care of to the best of our ability.”
After calf chores and milking were complete, Melendy and Stacy found a down cow and brought her in the yard to see if she would get up.
“I pushed bales up by her and put a nice tarp over her to keep her out of the rain,” Stacy said.
Then, Melendy went and tagged calves and got ready for the dairy princess banquet.
At the banquet, Melendy gave an introduction speech, helped crown princesses and participated in an American Dairy Association board meeting where they talked about the county’s annual family night on the farm.
“The dairy princess banquet left a huge impact on me,” Melendy said. “After I was done with the program, I decided to continue to work with the girls. It’s fun, and I like helping them develop as professionals.”
Once a week, Melendy also substitute teaches at the Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School.
“When I was in elementary school, I always wanted to be a teacher,” Melendy said. “Substitute teaching allows me to combine my love of farming and teaching as well as make some extra money.”
After the banquet and board meeting, Melendy and her parents were back to the farm to get ready for afternoon chores.
“Sundays are usually family days for us, so we typically start about 4 p.m. so we can get done earlier,” Melendy said.
Upon a brief walk around the farm to let the chickens out, Melendy discovered a cow named Greta had a newborn calf.
“It’s a heifer,” Melendy said. “This makes my ninth heifer calf in a row.”
Melendy vaccinated the calf and moved her into a clean pen. She also moved Greta in with the milking cows.
Then, Melendy was back in the house to take a break with her family, who was boiling maple syrup at the time.
“Markus used to make it all the time with our cousin, Aidan, who passed away, so this is the first year we’ve really gotten into it again,” Melendy said. “My husband, Greg, wanted to try making some and trading it with people.”
At the time, Markus was hanging out with some friends and making cannolis.
“We were planning our next Boundary Waters trip,” he said.
“My brother and I like to travel so we work around each other’s schedules to take time off,” she said.
Around 4 p.m., the family was back outside to do chores.
Melendy and Markus milked the cows, Stacy scraped manure and fed the cows and heifers, Greg helped feed the calves, and Julie was able to clean dishes and do some housework.
“My mom is over 64 years old, so I think she deserves a night off,” Melendy said. “And we all work pretty good together so it works out.”
“We can’t lose a link in the chain,” he said.
By 6 p.m., the family was finished with chores and back in the house to relax and get ready for the week ahead.
“Every day is different because we might have to haul manure, build something or do some fencing, but they always start and end the same,” Melendy said.
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