Women in Dairy: Nicole Baker

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Nicole Baker
Davis, Illinois
Stephenson County
80 cows

Tell us about your family and farm. My husband, Shelby, and I and our daughter, Kinzia, own and operate Crazy Daze Dairy near Davis, Illinois. We milk around 80 cows in a step-up parlor and farm enough land to support the growing, certified-organic dairy herd. We joined the dairy industry in 2015, building our farm from scratch.

What is a typical day like for you on the dairy? I have a full-time job off the farm during the day. Most of my lunch hours are spent running farm errands by either picking up supplies or dropping parts off to get fixed. Blain’s Farm & Fleet employees know me by name. A typical day for me includes evening milking and helping with any additional chores that need to be done. On the weekends, I take care of the morning and evening milking. Outside of milking, I help with odds and ends with everything else to make sure everything runs smoothly.

What decision have you made in the last year that has benefited your farm? Allowing my husband to purchase yet another tractor and upgrade our other farming equipment, which we all know can be very expensive.

Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. It’s hard to just pick one. The first one that comes to mind is when I was kicked in the face by a calf and had to walk around with a black eye for a few weeks. Another was when I was pinned in the back of the freestall barn by a cow. Then, it charged at me and chased me right out of the barn. The most memorable experience is seeing my husband’s dream come true. He had one goal: to milk cows and farm. Observing and working beside him has been fulfilling for me as well. As with any dream, we have had our fair share of struggles throughout our journey. However, the challenges have created more memories and a stronger foundation for our family.

What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? Being a part of the dairy industry and dairy community and talking with other dairy farmers and gaining insight and experience through their stories. There are many more support groups than we could have ever imagined along with plenty of ways to be involved, tell our story and engage with others. Social media platforms and dairy conferences are helpful as well.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your dairy career? Without growing up on a dairy or having any farm experience, my biggest accomplishment would be having learned what I learned about the dairy industry so far. Learning and applying the operational nuances of how to run a happy, healthy (and slightly crazy) dairy farm has been extremely satisfying.

What are things you do to promote your farm or the dairy industry? We enjoy attending expos, farm tours and attending our cooperative’s regional farm meetings. I started an Instagram page for our farm and post regularly on TikTok to showcase our lifestyle and offer a behind-the-scenes look into our daily routine.

What advice would you give another woman in the dairy industry? Make time for yourself. Chores are a daily necessity in the dairy industry, and they can take control of your time, if you allow it. Spend every moment you can off the farm and always make time for your family and friends.

What is a challenge in the dairy industry you have faced, and how did you overcome it? One challenge that we faced that we will never forget was getting hit with a quota in 2017. We were docked for shipping too much milk and were only getting paid for a certain amount. The quota was taken off in 2021. We overcame that challenge by watching books very closely and getting by with the very minimum.

When you get a spare moment, what do you do? I sit on the Stephenson County Board as an elected official for our district. I also serve on the Stephenson County Emergency Telephone System Board. I love keeping up with all the new trends, especially related to fashion or social media. I’m also an ambassador/influencer for a local boutique that gives me an occasional opportunity to spend time with the girls.

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