The year was 2006. It was around the third week of June. Laura was about 13, Mary, 10 and Rebecca, 8. Very early in the morning we found ourselves headed to Owatonna for a state show not knowing where we were going. Laura had registered a few of our animals so we could attend, compete and, most of all, learn. Going down the old Highway 14, jumping on Interstate 35W and exiting safely seemed like a milestone. Finally, we found the fairgrounds. I was overwhelmed by the number of cattle trailers, the number of barns full of animals and the number of quality cows. I was in Heaven, because I love to see beautiful cows and visit with owners about sires and matings that are working so well. I even remember seeing Pine Shelter Cheyenne, the champion at Expo. This was quite a leap from our local county fair, but gave me ideas and goals to aim for in the future.
    I realized very quickly that our animals were over matched, but I wanted to bring an idea or two home that could help us in the future. Patty, I and the girls were in awe of the detailed, precision clipping of most exhibitors. I wondered why the animals stood so well getting their make-up on. This was our first introduction to a clipping chute. I took measurements immediately, found a few ideas I liked and then made a few modifications. As soon as I got home, I bought some metal, spent a few hours in the shop and made our own clipping chute for a fraction of the price. The amazing result is how well and easy it works. And, we have never gone to a show without it since.
    One of my main concerns taking cows was how were they going to get milked? At our county fair, there was a portable milking pump that needed a bucket and a prayer. One sunny day, I approached Mary Catherine about the idea of obtaining her milking equipment. I respectfully asked if any children were coming back, and she quickly said that would never happen. I entertained the idea of donating it to the fair. Now, I have a milk pump, a glass receiver jar, washing equipment and some pipeline. I am not short on help because several young dairy members helped install the pipeline. One thing I was very short on was money to pay an electrician, repair the milk pump and purchase lumber and tin for our milk room.
    Ask and you shall receive. We have all heard these words, and they became a reality at our 2007 Twilight meeting. We asked our local auctioneer, Rich Reiner, to help us raise money for the parlor project. We chose a service auction where two hours of service would be auctioned off for all of our 4-H dairy members. The need for money was explained and the 15 members averaged well over $100 to bring in a total of $1,700. I will never forget as Rich winked at me when we  reached our goal. He donated his services and the generosity of the bidders that night was a moment I will never forget.
    Now, we have money and help, but time is running short. We chose our milk house to resemble a hip roofed red barn. Every time there was a need for something, someone new came along to help contribute to the project. I wanted many 4-H kids, including my own kids, to help with the process. Some spent time with me tinning. Others cut out a 4-H clover and painted it. One artistic family drew a cat and chickens in the hay barn windows. I was short on pipeline and a neighbor donated that for us. Another neighbor donated stanchions to secure the cows. The local DeLaval dealer donated 10 feet of glass pipeline so viewers could watch milk flow to the receiver jar. A fair board member gave us his old house windows so people could view the inside of our milk room. A horse member donated the wash vat. Finally, an afternoon was set aside where three of my aunts came to paint the inside of the room so it was ready for inspection. Another lasting memory was pouring the cement for the door and drain, and hearing the news of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse. Many unforgettable moments went into that parlor and many people had a hand in making it a reality.
    Anybody who knows me knows I love milking cows at the fair, and at our peak, our county had up to 23 cows that needed to be milked. Our fair begins on Wednesday, and I am always tickled when I have to have milk picked up on Friday because the tank is full. That dream parlor is filled with many memories from the past, and only God knows how many more in the future.
    John Rosenhammer farms with his daughter, Laura Scholtz, and brother, Greg, on Roseview Dairy near Sleepy Eye, Minn. They milk 200 Holsteins and run 580 acres of cropland.