June 27, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.
Clarks Mills, Wisconsin
Family: My family includes my parents, Tony and Bonnie, my brother, Jarod and me.
Tell us about your farm. Misty Moon Dairy is a family owned and operated farm between my parents, Jarod and I. All the daily chores are divided up between the four owners – from feeding the cows, to feeding the calves, to scraping and everything in between to care for the animals. In 2019, we put in our first two Lely robots and completed the project in April 2020 with the last two robots. Crops are brought in with all family hands on deck. Extra help is provided from my boyfriend, Brady, my sister and brother-in-law, Nicole and Carl, and also my uncle, Chuck – all after their full-time jobs. Even my nephews get in on the help, and soon my niece will be out there too.
What is a typical day like for you on the dairy? I get to the farm around 7 a.m. I collect my data on the cows, fetch the cows that need to be milked and scrape stalls. I feed the background calves before they are on the feeder and make sure all calves on feeders drank. After lunch, I’m able to do odds and ends jobs like vaccinations, herd health or gardening before doing night chores of fetching cows and feeding calves.
What decision have you made in the last year that has benefited your farm? Putting in automatic calf feeders. We completed the project over the winter and started calves on them Jan. 5. All non-salable milk gets pushed directly from the robots to the pasteurizer. From the pasteurizer, it gets pumped to the calf feeder. By using whole milk, we are hoping to see better rate of gains and overall healthier calves while decreasing the labor of individually feeding them. Building a heifer barn this summer will also help bring all the heifers home under one roof for more control over their growing conditions. That will also free up room to raise wholesale beef to connect the consumer directly to the grower.
Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. The afternoon of July 13, 2004, started normally. I looked north and saw a funnel cloud split into two tornados. We knew it was bad when afterward my dad went upstairs and said the silos are gone. Over the next few days, we had to make a life-altering decision to rebuild or sell. My brother, a seventh grader, and I, a freshman, wanted to farm. That fall, we built a freestall barn and doubled our 60-cow herd.
What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? I have enjoyed watching and teaching my nephews about the agriculture industry, including the importance of responsibility and work ethic in general on the farm. If you work hard for something in life, you will get to play harder after. The other day, my 4-year-old nephew watched us assist in a tough calving. We had to resuscitate a white calf. He proudly told his mom, “They had to help the baby breathe, but it will be OK. When will it grow into its black spots?” We were able to teach him that unlike Dalmatians, this calf will always be all white.
What is your biggest accomplishment in your dairy career? Getting to where we are today by doing most of the building, electrical and plumbing ourselves. Technology has come a long way on our farm too. In 1996, we had a double-6 herringbone parlor. In 2010, we had a double-10 swing parallel parlor before switching to robots in 2019 and installing calf feeders in 2022.
What are things you do to promote your farm or the dairy industry? I like to talk to people one on one any chance I get to tell our story. I then invite them to take a personal tour of the farm to see for themselves how things are done on our dairy. I am also active on the Manitowoc County Farm Bureau board and help with events like hosting Manitowoc County Breakfast on the Farm in 2009. Social media presence is a big factor in reaching the next generation.
What advice would you give another woman in the dairy industry? A quote I find fitting for me is, “In a world that tells you women are more valuable when they are less – skinnier, quieter, delicate, complacent … be more. Be bold. Be strong. Be opinionated. Ask for what you want. Show up authentically,” Dr. Hake. When someone tells you, “You can’t,” accept that challenge and tell them, “I will.”
When you get a spare moment, what do you do? I enjoy a good beer with family and friends around a table or at Hodag. In the winter months, I like to play volleyball.
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