Despite a winter from hell, there are signs of hope. With record amounts of snow, ridiculous drifts and continuous sub-zero temperatures, Earth is beginning to reappear. I forgot what thawing temperatures felt like. The reappearance of unfinished projects, broken gates and other debris under melting snow banks remind me that very little time was spent in the shop doing repairs. The melting snow has resulted in runoff, creating little rivers unique to each and every farm. Frozen in the morning and endless mud in the afternoons has been the norm and will continue to be for a while. The sub-zero temperatures that started in January have finally conceded to the calendar and given up at least for a while. All things, whether good or bad, do come to an end.
     “The Transition Pen,” which Laura and I have had the privilege to write, is also coming to an end. Whether it was good or bad, or likely somewhere in between, it has been an honor to communicate our story to our fellow dairy people. When Laura came home to join our operation three years ago, it was a dream come true for a father. Having raised our family on a dairy farm with a positive approach towards our occupation and lifestyle has resulted in four of our five children wanting to return to the farm in some capacity.
    Laura loved the cows and was always so good in working with them. She improved her skills at Garlin Dairy and after two years was anxious to bring back new ideas to help improve our dairy. The bounce in her step was obvious. Creating protocols, lists, groups and vaccinations were her top priorities, and she was as serious as she was precise.
    Age of first calving dropped nearly three months. Pregnancy rate improved nearly 10 points. Calf mortality dropped to the lowest numbers in years. Dr. Jeff Diettrich, our vet, said our herd had the highest percent of cows pregnant that he has ever worked with.
    Laura did very well with the things she could control and with a very positive attitude. She taught me new treatments, new ideas and was always conscious of return on investment. One of the best ideas she brought back was rolling a downed cow onto a skid steer bucket and moving the animal to where it had the best chance of recovery. Thankfully, our painful hip lifter rarely ever gets used anymore.
    Things we could not control were milk price. With nearly five years of depressing prices, Laura looked at that as a way to challenge her marketing skills learned in college. She wanted to contract more than we did, but she could only suggest an option, not make the actual call. Another goal of Laura’s was to always work in a positive environment and be surrounded by positive people. Treating others with respect, encouragement and appreciation has been important to her. Simple words like please, thank you, and I am sorry go a long way in defining a person. I realize the downed economy and harsh winter contribute towards negative attitudes, but a kind word every now and then can be the difference between a good or bad day.
    Adding the economic challenges, new baby Morgan into her life, and other circumstances that she could not change or control, Laura has decided to try a new path in life. On one hand, I am sad she is not working beside me, but on the other I am happy for her that she can put her college degree to another use and not have to work as hard as I had to raise a family. There will be hard days ahead at her new job, but at least she will not go asleep at night wondering what might have been. In the end, I want her to be happy and be able to devote time to her family and never regret what might have been. For all of my life, I have known what I will be doing a year from now; however, for the first time I am not quite so sure of next year. They say when one window closes, God opens another.
    It has been rewarding that Mark Klaphake asked us to write our story. I find both Laura and myself writing things that we do not normally talk about. I have learned more about her because of this, outside of the fact that she is the more gifted writer. Many people are in the same position we are, and I feel that I have failed or at least not done enough. I wish things could be simpler. I often feel I have been blessed to grow up and raise my family when a family farm was truly a family farm. The direction dairy is heading is so much more about business than it is about family, and that in turn leads to more unnecessary stress. The positive note I leave with is that Laura and I are much closer now than we were three years ago, and for that I will be ever grateful. Amen.
    John Rosenhammer farms with his brother, Greg, on Roseview Dairy near Sleepy Eye, Minn. They milk 200 Holsteins and run 580 acres of cropland.

By Laura Scholtz
    God generously gave me many abilities. I can analyze problems and come up with solutions, multi-task, come up with ideas, and know my way around both the barn and the kitchen.
    Yet, as I read to Morgan, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss, he perfectly describes how I have been feeling the past year.
    “I’m sorry to say so, but, sadly it’s true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you. … And when you’re in a slump, you’re not much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
    I have given my family’s dairy farm my best efforts, but I am unable to establish the peace and happiness I desire. I have accomplished many goals I thought were out of reach. I have overcome many unexpected challenges, and I have no regrets. Most importantly, I have become a better person, learning to put people first and nurture relationships, especially with my parents and siblings.
    God granted me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, and now the courage to change what I can. I am beginning a career off the farm, working with farmers to service their financing and crop insurance needs, and I think it will be a good fit for me. I am forever grateful to everyone who offered me support and encouragement while I worked on the farm.
    “God has perfect timing, and it’s highly possible that by not being where you thought you should be, you will end up exactly where you’re meant to go,” Rachel Hollis 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.