Women in Dairy
Renee Kotek
Osage, Iowa
Mitchell County
140 cows

Family: I farm with my husband, Jon, and three kids: Frank, 5, Evan, 4, and Jenna, 3.

Tell us about your farm. We bought our farm six years ago, moving from Wisconsin. We have a double-8 parallel parlor, raise our replacements and farm 160 acres.

What is the busiest time of day for you? Afternoon and evening are the craziest times for me; I feed calves, one kid comes off the bus, I wrangle the other two and try to get started milking in a timely manner. Getting snacks and dinner prepared are ideal but don’t always happen.

When you get a spare moment, what do you do? Sit and think about all the things I should be doing instead (i.e. laundry, dishes). If I get a spare moment during the day, I take a quick nap.

Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. A heifer was having trouble calving, and I didn’t have any help. I pulled and pulled with everything I had, finally was successful and burst into happy and exhausted tears. I looked over to see my 3-year-old, who was watching the whole time, give me a thumbs up and say, “Way to go, Mom.”
What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? Watching my children grow and experience all things farm related.
How do you stay connected with others in the industry? The Facebook group Dairy Moms. It keeps me informed (dairy-related) and sane (everything else non-dairy).
Who is someone in the industry who has inspired you? Aunt Doris. She’s been a dairy farmer her whole life. She was a city girl who married a farmer and had three kids, which is similar to my own life. She’s someone who knows the struggles, knows the challenges, yet is still happy with where life has taken her. She’s a tough cookie and one I can count on for honesty and a reality check.
If you could give a tour of your farm to a prominent woman in today’s society, who would it be? Carrie Underwood. She seems down-to-earth and has the ability to touch many people, both young and seasoned. She’s in line with her health and proves hard work pays off. In her early days, she was a “Got milk?” role model; she could easily reboot that project and show the benefits of milk to your health as you age.
What is the best vacation you have ever taken? Before kids, Jon and I would go to a different all-inclusive resort in Mexico every year. It was great; we would sleep the first couple days, then eat, drink, lay around and explore. Cozumel was one of my favorites.
What are some words you like to live by? Everything happens for a reason.