I enjoy sharing our farm with others. We all live with the pains of long hours, stress of low prices and the struggles with finding labor. Every one of us feels sadness when animals get sick and when we have to sell or put down an animal we have raised from the moment it was born. We work to do better by using whatever products can help us. We have feelings of pride in our work, families, communities and country.
    When I share my time with others, these guests are sharing their families with me. I give children examples of feeding calves, pushing in feed, taking rides in the tractors and raising and showing their own animals. I speak about being a mom, wife and a full-time dairy farmer. The commitment they see in me is what they see about all farmers. I am the living example for them to think about after they leave our farm. It is important I radiate my feelings, and in return, I feel the changes in the visitors’ vision of what a farmer is.
    I had people come for a two-hour tour who had a preconceived notion that farmers are less than other professions. They come to milk a cow, go on a hayride and cuddle some kittens with their kids or grandkids, but what they got was a new perspective on who a real farmer is.
    While on the hayride, I told the story of what a farm family does to get feed for their cows. I felt their eyes checking me out to see if I am the real deal. I explain that all farmers have the same problems with weeds and insects. We all have to solve these problems to have good quality feed for our cows. We use what we can to get the best crop of corn silage, be it conventional or organic. Our cows are only going to be as good as the feed we feed them.
    Milk performance is only one part of what farmers are looking at when selecting our corn seeds. We share the responsibility of getting knowledge and making choices with agronomists and nutritionists to help give these cows the best feed we can. They help us be better at what we do.
    These visitors cannot imagine all that goes into planting corn. They sat,  listened and asked questions. They do not understand about GMOs, and they worry about feeding their families the best food they can afford. A brief explanation of GMOs, Roundup Ready and seed coatings have them feeling connected with me because we all have to feed our families.
    All farmers will have to get better in the years to come. There is no more farm land being made. As cities get bigger, our fields get smaller. Less land to feed cows and more people means we need to produce more per acre. Science and technology will take us there, along with being the best stewards of the land and being as sustainable as possible.
    Most of these families that come to visit only get to spend a few hours a day with their little ones. They have long commutes to work, and weekends are when they try to set aside family time. Time is so precious for all of us, and it goes by so fast. The two hours they spend on the farm with me flies by, and I know I am helping create special memories that are important for all of us.
    Farmers’ lives are different from theirs in many ways, but more importantly is the way we live and work with our families. They cannot imagine watching their children grow up right next to them in the buddy seat. I know there was not any of these kids getting filthy knees playing in the dirt with toy tractors, running through manure with barn boots on helping to move cows. Their kids do not have a Grandpa who stops in every day. These are what we have that they do not. These parents and grandparents realize that and often are envious of our livelihood.
    All of us try to spend valuable time with our families. These families chose to spend that time with me, a dairy farmer in Cambridge who milks cows, feeds calves and does a whole bunch of other stuff. By the end of the tour, I am thanked by adults who have a new appreciation of farmers, of the dairy products and food that is grown for them. They are more confident, feel they will be better consumers and have gained respect for farmers. They realize a farmer’s love is a bigger package than what they see from driving by a farm. Farmers love our cows, the land, clean water and air, and are working tirelessly to help feed their families. We do all of this because we love everything we do.
    Tina Hinchley, her husband, Duane, and their daughters, Anna and Catherine, milk 135 registered Holsteins and farm 2,500 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wis. They have been hosting farm tours for over 20 years.