Charles Dickens, in his book, “Tale of Two Cities,” has this quote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
    Lately, I have been thinking this is true of life, especially in the fall. As dairy farmers, fall is the best of times as we harvest the fruits of our labor and tuck the farm away for winter. There is a sense of accomplishment, joy and completion in bringing in the corn, silage, soybeans, bedding and everything else, knowing we will be able to provide for our animals over the next year. As we work to finish everything, the fall colors are so lovely that we cannot help being amazed at the beauty all around us. An orange pumpkin on a house’s front step always makes me smile.
    But fall can be the worst of times, too. Long hours trying to beat the clock to get the crops in. Worries over breakdowns, repairs, muddy fields and the moisture levels of the crop. Concerns about whether everything will fall into place financially. These are realities for us.
    One of the best of times this past month was the opportunity to talk to children about farms, cows and the nutrition of dairy products. Just this month, I got to talk to 293 kindergartners and first graders and their 15 teachers as I visited two elementary schools – one in Pipestone, Minn., and the other in Plymouth, Minn. These opportunities are precious. I spoke with them for 25-30 minutes in their classrooms. Talking to the children during class time about choosing dairy and then seeing them actually do it when I was in the lunchroom is part of what makes being Princess Kay the best.
    Another opportunity I had this past month was visiting the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato, Minn., to help with butter making for kids and families. They got to knead bread dough, bake their mini loaf and make fresh butter to put on their loaf. What a good way to see where your food comes from. I know some of the people were surprised that butter is simply made by agitating heavy cream. In the museum area, I got to play with several delightful little girls in their interactive freestall barn exhibit which was complete with lights, a fan, food, bedding, water, poop pies and a manure spreader that actually spread. The museum did a great job of teaching children through play and fun activities.
    As I look at the things in my life that seem like the worst of times, I need to look beyond myself to look out not for myself but for how my life can touch others. To humbly, unselfishly and untiringly represent each of you as Princess Kay and to remember the hard work and dedication of each one of you farmers that I represent.
    As we finish harvest and look back over the year, each of us will see both the best of times and the worst of times. We will see hardship and success, a great buy and a stupid sell, a moment of strain and a moment of laughter. But as my mom always tells me, I hope each of us is able to look for the good. See the many ways we have been blessed with the best of times. Let us recognize each good moment no matter how ordinary and be thankful for it.
    Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Amy Kyllo, 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. Amy grew up in Byron, MN living and working on her family’s dairy farm. She is a senior at the Association Free Lutheran Bible School. She enjoys music, loves to read and is an avid Minnesota Twins baseball fan.