The dairy industry has had plenty to dwell on. A long winter and late spring are adding to the challenging milk market. The value of cull cows and replacements has provided little relief. If we look beyond the barn, we see a political environment that seems to be in disillusion and has forgotten its purpose. But as we celebrate the season of Easter, we are reminded of the gifts bestowed upon us with the resurrection of our Savior.
    I hope you will indulge me as I veer from the normal theme of my column and share some of my childhood reminders from this past week.
    It is the morning before Easter, and I am walking through our family tiestall barn built in 1976. Its main purpose today is miscellaneous storage as it has not housed a cow in 20 years. The bulk tank and pipeline still remain just in case someone was to milk cows there again. I pull the light bulbs out from the ceiling as the roof is starting to sag from the stress of winter. My three girls are by my side as we lay the bulbs in stalls that used to be occupied by Peaches, Lucy and other memorable 4-H cows. I walk behind the barn to see the two blue Harvestore silos built in the late 1970s. Later in the day, we laugh with my mother as we recall the words that echoed two of the most stressful events on the farm: the cows are out, and the tractor is stuck.
    I have the utmost respect for anyone who dairy farmed in the 1980s. I do not need to remind those of you who milked cows during these challenging times. I am quite certain my parent paid for those blue twin towers twice through the ‘80s with 18% interest.
    Today’s market dynamics are different from those of the ‘80s. Fewer cows are milked in tiestall barns and more blue silos may sit empty than are in use. But, we can still draw parallels between yesterday and today. Crisis hotlines and support systems were and are in place to deal with the stress of the times. The dairy industry is still filled with folks with the same drive and passion that my folks had 30 years ago.
    The economy and market pressures changed, and we worked through the harsh ‘80s and into better times for our farms. Though battered and torn, the dairy industry persevered. Reflecting on those experiences gives us confidence that better times also lie ahead of our current challenges.
    We have come through a few months inundated with meetings and conferences presenting numerous opportunities of management improvements for your farm. Forecasts and projections for our industry have been plentiful; some more optimistic than others. It is my hope you were able to get away from the farm for a few hours or days to take part in some of these educational events. It is also my hope you took some opportunity to relax and reflect on the riches of your life.
    Perhaps some of these treasures were rekindled in your home this Easter season as they were mine. God bless the hardworking men and women of the dairy industry.
    Barry Visser is a nutritionist for Vita Plus.