Kristine Miller, with her husband, John, is this year’s $1,000 winner in Dairy Star’s Great Christmas Giveaway. The Millers milk 300 Holsteins in a herringbone parlor at JM Dairy near Plainview, Minnesota. 
PHOTO SUBMITTED
Kristine Miller, with her husband, John, is this year’s $1,000 winner in Dairy Star’s Great Christmas Giveaway. The Millers milk 300 Holsteins in a herringbone parlor at JM Dairy near Plainview, Minnesota. PHOTO SUBMITTED

ATWATER, Minn. – Daphne Hanks was all smiles Dec. 19 as she arrived with her dad, Trent Hanks, at Oat Hill Dairy near Atwater. Not only did the 8-year-old second grader from Blackduck get to skip school, but she was about to meet Opal, the heifer calf she won through Dairy Star’s Great Christmas Giveaway.



Opal, a registered Jersey, took to Daphne right away, sucking her fingers and accepting gentle pats on the head. The calf was provided by sisters Katie and Kim Olson of Oat Hill Dairy where they milk 120 cows with a robotic milking system.
Trent said his daughter was at first confused when she heard she won the calf.
“She didn’t know she was in the drawing,” Trent said. “Her aunt put her name in, so I was surprised too.”
Daphne’s name was entered at Perham Stockyards in Perham. Beth Stoderl works there and said she was pleased to hear that Daphne won.
“The Hanks are definitely a well-deserving family,” Stoderl said. “They are also highly into 4-H and FFA and are raising their kids in an ag-based, ag-future way.”
Once the news of winning set in, Daphne’s reaction changed.
“I got really excited,” she said.
At Oat Hill Dairy, Katie Olson was on hand to help Daphne and Trent load Opal into an en-closed wooden sheep container that Trent borrowed from a neighbor and strapped to his pickup bed.
“When we heard the winner was an 8-year-old girl, we thought that was awesome,” Olson said. “She’ll have a long time with the calf and get to show her and have fun with her.”
Olson remembered being as young as Daphne.
“I was on the farm when I was 8 years old and anticipating showing for 4-H,” Olson said. “We couldn’t show until we were 9 years old then. There was no such thing as Cloverbuds when I was a kid.”
That is not a problem for Daphne. She is already in 4-H and planning to show Opal in the county fair, which is the second week of August in her home county of Beltrami.
In the meantime, Opal will stay in a weening pen at the Hanks’ farm, where they milk 74 Holsteins in a double-6 herringbone parlor. As a Jersey, Opal might stand out a bit.
“I like that she has white spots on her,” Daphne said.
At home, Daphne pitches in with chores.
“I help a lot,” Daphne said. “I feed calves and get the cows up in the morning, and I feed grain to them all.”
Opal was born Oct. 1. Her registered name is Oat Hill Voucher Opal. Daphne said she likes her name.
With Opal loaded into the sheep container, dad and daughter were ready for the nearly four-hour return trip to Blackduck. All the while, Daphne still wore a smile.

Miller takes home cash prize
Meanwhile, further south near Plainview, Kristine Miller is $1,000 richer as she approaches the holidays. She and her husband, John, own JM Dairy and milk 300 Holsteins in a herringbone parlor. Miller works off the farm at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Like Daphne, Miller had no idea her name had been entered in Dairy Star’s Christmas drawing. When she received the news that she had won, Miller said she was confused.
“I didn’t remember registering,” Miller said. “I asked my husband, and he said he didn’t do it.”
Later, Miller discovered her mother had entered her and John’s names at Ag Partners in Plainview.
Todd Speltz is a dairy nutritionist at Ag Partners who knows the Miller family well.
“They are one of the most genuine families; they make me feel like family,” Speltz said. “Knowing them, they will use the money in some way for the whole family.”    
Speltz was correct. Miller said she was thinking of a certain family member when asked what she would do with the money.
“I have a grand-baby coming in April,” Miller said.
Her advice to Dairy Star readers is that it is worth having one’s name in the drawing.
“Go for it, and let anyone else do it who wants to sign you up as well,” Miller said.