Growing up, some of my favorite activities included writing, telling myself stories and hanging out in the barn with my two brothers. I felt like an odd ball because I found that telling myself stories while doing chores actually allowed me to have more fun and still be productive. I never thought this could actually make a good career.
And then one day, my seventh grade English teacher took me aside and said, “Kate, you have a talent for writing. Don’t ever lose sight of that.”
And from that day on, I participated in speech, plays and musicals, 4-H and FFA. All with one goal in mind: to grow up to work for either the Dairy Star or the Hoard’s Dairyman.
I grew up on a small dairy farm southwest of Wanamingo, Minnesota, where my family milked 60 Holsteins, Jerseys and some Holstein/Jersey crossbreds in a tiestall barn, mostly because my grandmother insisted my dad and grandpa Glen have some color in the herd. In addition to the cows, we also planted about 1,000 acres of corn, soybean, alfalfa and some sweet corn. Today, the farm manages about 500 acres and is home to about 200 meat goats, some beef cattle, a couple organic fields and lots of poultry (chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks, you name it).
Surprisingly enough, my mother actually comes from a dairy farm background as well. Grandpa Leo milked around 150 cows and ran some acreage by Goodhue, Minnesota. Today, this farm runs mostly beef cattle as they sold the dairy a long time ago.
On the farm, I did everything from scraping manure, bedding the barn, bringing cows in and tying them up, breeding cows, feeding the cows and calves, helping with morning and night milkings, gathering eggs and field work.
After graduating from Kenyon-Wanamingo High School in the spring of 2017, I attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where I studied animal science dairy production and food systems. While there, I participated in a bunch of activities such as being a Goodhue County Dairy Princess for three years, Beta of Clovia Sorority, Gopher Dairy Club, the Rural Student Association, Crops and Soils Club, Reformed University Fellowship and Anselm House; all of which allowed me to make connections with others in the agricultural industry and share my dairy story.
Throughout my college years, I also participated in a host of jobs including scraping manure, bedding stalls, pushing up feed, bringing cows to the parlor, raking the compost and feeding calves the University of Minnesota dairy barn. I also helped a grad student with his research project on the viscosity and tenderness levels in steak for the beef team. I wrapped meat and helped with slaughter for the Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science, ground and stuffed hamburger at Blondie’s Butcher Shop and interned for the Dairy Star in 2019.
Branching out from that, I took a job working as an assistant cheesemaker for Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery in Comstock, Wisconsin, post-graduation. While there, I made some really great connections, learned everything about the cheesemaking process, which ingredients go into making cheese, and that factory life isn’t for me.
However, I did get to pour a lot of cheese curds into forms with a huge hose, and I thought that was pretty awesome. My coworkers and I joked that it was almost like being a firefighter because our shoulders hurt so much after the fact.
In my downtime, I enjoy playing a competitive game of beanbags, going on walks, reading a good book, watching movies and hanging out with friends. In the spring, I hope to be milking my three cows and making my own cheeses and soaps as a side hobby to my career as a writer.
While I’m new at Dairy Star, I look forward to serving as the writer in southeastern Minnesota, promoting dairy and meeting as many dairy farmers as possible.