Winter is the only season to mark the close of a year and the beginning of another.
While winter happens to, more often than not, show the worst weather and the best views, it is the time of year for reflection.
One of my favorite scenes are freshly-covered evergreen trees. There are three in my backyard, and during a frosty sunrise, I can usually crack my frozen face to make a smile.
The end of the year gives many families time to gather and celebrate life. With the holiday gatherings, and more time spent indoors, it can also make a person appreciate their alone time. Who would have thought hauling manure could be therapeutic.
For me, 2022 has marked large milestones in my life and self-discovery.
In January 2022, I was helping on the farm. Then in February, I started my work with Dairy Star. Coming out of college with zero writing experience, colleagues took me under their wing and showed me the importance of print. I visited a few expos and realized how much people appreciate our content.
It is always nice to receive recognition for the work you are doing. That goes for all career fields.
This brings me to the reason behind Dairy Star. We are so fortunate to have rich dairy flowing in the Midwest and so many passionate people to share stories of. Farmers deserve to receive recognition for their challenges and career achievements.
My visits with farmers always make me feel at home. But once I finish their story, the feeling of fulfillment floats away because my mind is no longer living their story.
I ran into a young farmer who started farming when he was about my age. When I asked about why he chose dairy farming, he told me this.
“I feel at home here. I knew if I didn’t have a farm of my own, I wanted to be a herdsman for someone else, or I’d be trying to find every way to make this dream work.”
This made me think on my drive to my parents’ farm that day. Against all odds, that young farmer is pushing through some of the most trying times in the dairy industry.
The passion in each farmer’s voice when we talk about cows together always excites me; I’m interested in their experiences and wisdom. Maybe the reason I feel connected to the stories until they are finished being written is because deep down I wish I was living their life, waking up early, seeing cows greet me at the gate, feeding a new born calf and cutting hay.
I thought the time wasn’t right for me to pursue my next goal, but when God presented me with the opportunity to farm, despite it having underlying concerns, I had to go for it.
I love it.
Every day, I set up the barn and get the barn moving. Then, I start my computer to plug away at work for Dairy Star and Country Acres. After, I have the freedom to take a break from my desk and help on the farm.
I’m truly getting the best of both worlds, and I couldn’t be happier. Like winter, I started my year how I ended it, in the barn.
What stands out to me the most over the last year is that nearly every farmer I have had the privilege of talking to has hope. They show resilience in everything they do, and despite the odds of volatile markets and high inputs, they try new things to make their operation work.
From the family that manages 20 employees to the young guy who milks 50 cows on his own, one thing stands true: No matter what the world around us does, farming is not only a job, but rather a way of life.