Take it or leave it, Valentine’s Day is coming. By no means is this my favorite holiday, but there are some aspects of it I think we can all benefit from. This time of year, I always try to reflect on what it is and who it is I love. I have noticed that in the most challenging times and coldest months of the year, I tend to lean into what I love a little more than usual. I cannot think of a better time for dairy farmers to consider the same.
     When I think about farmers doing what they love, I cannot help but think of my aunt and uncle. Together, they care for Holsteins and a few Ayrshires at Thunder Valley Farms. Outside of the farm, they are just as dedicated to multiple efforts in the community. In our small town of Staples, Minn. you can find my aunt playing piano for countless choirs, leading worship on Sunday mornings, and volunteering with community meals and fundraisers. If you ever visit with my aunt off the farm, she will share the cutest stories of the newest Ayrshire calf or give you heart-warming updates on show cows that are getting closer to their retirement. My uncle finds himself involved in various farm groups and as an active church elder. When he is speaking in church on Sunday mornings, you can bet there will be a story, if not two, about his farm, his cows or the most recent challenge he has faced in the barn. In our community, my uncle, Bruce and aunt, Sandy, are known for their love of the farm. Even from college, I am lucky enough to get texts or phone calls from them with some of the most amusing farm stories.
     Rumi, a Persian Theologian, once said, “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” My aunt loves her calves and the personal connection she can make with cows. My uncle has always loved and continues to enjoy working alongside his family. On the farm, they use these loves to push through the cold days and even the somber milk checks. In the community, they use these loves to serve other people. My aunt and uncle are not the only dairy farmers who have loves they lean into. I believe each member of the dairy community has them.
     In my time as Princess Kay, I have been able to lean into my love for sharing your stories as dairy farmers through social media. In the past months, I have developed videos and interactive content that show the heartwarming, triumphant and honest moments you experience. To see some of this work or to suggest new stories from your farm, I encourage you to like and follow Princess Kay of the Milky Way on Facebook and Instagram. Over the coming months I hope to continue using my loves to serve you.
     Valentine’s Day is popular for many reasons. As a dairy community, let us make the most of a holiday founded in love. I challenge you to pinpoint what you love on the farm or about dairy farming. Maybe it is being in the parlor with your kids or that valued thinking time in the tractor. Take time to lean in on that love and use it to energize your farm or even to serve others. I also challenge you to love your fellow dairy farmers. Often times these are our greatest resources to lean on. This month is our chance to start leaning into what we love. I hope you see as much benefit from letting the beauty of what you love be what you do.
    Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Rebekka Paskewitz, serves as the Minnesota dairy community’s goodwill ambassador. Throughout the year, Princess Kay helps people understand the dedication of dairy farmers to wholesome and nutritious food, and the way milk is produced. Princess Kay does many school presentations, represents dairy farmers at the Fuel Up To Play 60 events that are held in conjunction with the Minnesota Vikings, and is very active during June Dairy Month sharing the importance of dairy farming and dairy foods.