The day I drove home from Rochester, Minn., for the final time was Oct. 31, 2015. I remember feeling anxious, so eager to start implementing all I had learned at Gar-Lin on our own dairy and excited to be closer to family and especially Chris, as we had been dating long distance. My head filled with ideas, short term goals of new repro protocols, teaching everyone how to roll a down cow into a bobcat bucket rather than use the hip lifters to move her, new vaccine protocols, implementing PCDart for record keeping, managing our financial records and much more. Expanding the herd and milking 3X were goals I planned to attain within five years. At 24 years old, not yet married and no children yet, I knew I had to work fast while I still had my freedom.
    I worked to build my team of advisors: our veterinarian, hoof trimmer, nutritionist, calf care experts, Farm Business Management instructor, sire selection consultant, lender and accountant. Each one of these individuals played an important role in helping me make better decisions, whether it is the type of electrolyte I use to treat calves with scours or the breakeven number I am looking for when selling heifers. They have helped me prepare for and transition through changes such as no longer using rBST and breeding certain cows to beef bulls in order to bring in more income during the low bull calf prices and avoiding too many heifers.
    I developed a support system: my parents, siblings, Chris, close friends and mentors. I look for advice and encouragement from women involved in dairy via dairy girl network exchange which has provided me with many connections and resources for learning. I am forever grateful for these people in my life that celebrate the good times and push me to keep going after setbacks.  
    Watching our pregnancy rate increase, days in milk drop, nursing sick calves and cows back to health, watching our heifers grow faster and calve in younger, and getting paid well for the hefty Angus calves, have all been reasons to celebrate. Yet, over the past three years, the list of defeats in dairy farming overpowers all of the strides. By far, 2018 has caused the most hurt, pairing the poor prices with constantly trying to outpace the next rainfall or frost to get everything from planting, to silage making, to harvest and tillage finished. Each day has been exhausting, trying to figure out how to pay bills, trying to keep the tractors moving in the field, rushing to get haylage made and manure hauled before the rain, moving dry cows and heifers around because their pasture keeps flooding, and hearing the same message, “We do not know when the markets will turn around.” At what point do we get to rest up before battling the next storm?
    The most amazing, physically painful, longest and most rewarding day of my life was Nov. 7, as I gave birth to our baby girl. Becoming a mom to Morgan ranks No. 1 on my list of accomplishments and more importantly my priorities. As I have mentioned before, family comes before the farm. Taking time off from the farm to care for Morgan has certainly not been a vacation, but it is worth every minute of lost sleep. Besides, I am still dealing with bottles, poop, tracking milk production and trying to keep this fresh cow on track. I love holding her little body close, listening to her baby sounds and wondering how in the world we got so lucky to have such a perfect baby. She is my ray of sunshine and warms my heart. I admit I am more conflicted than ever about dairy farming and whether or not I will be able to balance my duties as a mom and those of dairy farming. Adding a third milking is certainly gone from my goals, and I am hesitant to expand the herd as I do not want to take on more than I can handle. I am married to Chris and not to the farm. Being married means I choose to make him a priority and to help him reach his goals and make time for him each day. I have been to enough funerals to understand that my role as a wife and mom, and who I am as a person exceeds any job I will ever do. I want take Morgan to see the beauty of the Black Hills, S.D., enjoy Wisconsin Dells and time at the lake each summer. I want to support Chris as he takes on project after project from old cars to combines. My family is my priority.
    “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spend with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent, ” Barbara Bush said.
    Laura Scholtz farms with her father, John Rosenhammer, and uncle Greg, on Roseview Dairy near Sleepy Eye, Minn. They milk 200 Holsteins and run 580 acres of cropland.