Women in Dairy: Stacey Tauer

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Stacy Tauer
Sleepy Eye, Minnesota
Brown County
75 cows

Tell us about your farm and family. My husband, Ron, and I dairy farm with my parents, Gary and Rosie Hillesheim, and children, Sidney and Nick. We milk cows and raise our heifers on-site. We have a compost barn that houses our dairy cows. We grow our own feed.

What is a typical day like for you on the dairy? I arrive to milk cows at 5 a.m. with my parents. After milking, I eat breakfast and get the kids up for school. Then, we head back out to feed, scrape manure, grind feed and bed heifers. Depending on time of year, we make hay, do other fieldwork or fix whatever needs to be fixed, treat cows or move heifers, etc., after chores. When I get done at the dairy, I head to where I live (4.5 miles away) and tend to the animals there (beef calves and steers). I then return to the dairy around 4 p.m. to milk, feed, etc.

What decision have you made in the last year that has benefited your farm? Planting cover crops, winter rye, sorghum and oats after sweet corn. It’s beneficial to the soil and to the feed inventory.

Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. In July, when my nephew, Kyle, was 3 or 4, he decided he needed to bring me and my dad a popsicle in the 40-foot silo we were setting together to get raised up to get filled. He crawled up the silo, with no one knowing, with two popsicles, both in his pocket, and appeared in the open door all smiles and said, “Hi,” and offered us the now mostly melted popsicles.

What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? I was born and raised on a dairy farm. I have worked alongside my parents, my biggest role models. They literally showed me most everything that I stand for. They are the best parents, in my eyes. Working next to my siblings as I grew up made cherished memories I still hold with me. Now as a mother to two wonderful 15-year-olds, it really tops the cake. The love we all have for what we do shows daily. Then we throw in my siblings and their families that still show up (almost daily for some) and work alongside us. I am a part of their lives, and no other occupation would allow me this opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, we have had mountains to climb, but at the end of the day, we cherish what we have. There is something to be said when there are little square bales of straw to be made in the heat of July and August and my nephew says, “You better let me know when we will be unloading.” When we are finished for the night, we all look at each other, drained, and say, “That felt good.”

What is your biggest accomplishment in your dairy career? Being able to be the fourth generation to carry on the dairy torch. Milking cows is my favorite task on the farm, just like my dad who still milks morning and night at the age of 78. I cannot predict the future, but I can dream that someday there will be a fifth generation, God willing.

What are things you do to promote your farm or the dairy industry? I am, and have been for the last two years, the Brown County Dairy Princess Coordinator. I organize events for the four ambassadors and five princesses that the county is so fortunate to have. We do anything from nursing home, day care and school visits to parades and farm tours and a visit to the Sleepy Eye Auction Market.

What advice would you give another woman in the dairy industry? Woman or man, makes no difference in the dairy industry in my eyes. Its flexible, versatile and very accepting.

When you get a spare moment, what do you do? Attend to my kids whether that be an event, laundry for them, making food for them, etc. I also like to run, bake and, last on the list, clean house.

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