Emily and I used to go to World Dairy Expo every year to wander around, chatting with friends, looking at equipment and admiring beautiful dairy cattle. The road trip to Madison, Wisconsin, was also a fun part of the trip as Wisconsin is beautiful in the fall and there’s lots of harvest action to watch. The longing looks at large row cropping machinery were more my thing than Emily’s, but I’m sure she enjoyed the fall colors. I don’t grow any grain, but I enjoy watching everyone else bring in the harvest. We haven’t been to Expo in a number of years and didn’t make it this year either.
Traditions come and go as life changes. I first attended WDE while on the Minnesota 4-H dairy conference trip. I remember having a great time hanging out with other 4-H kids from dairy farms and, for the first time, thinking maybe I’d like to farm. Growing up working on a farm, I’d never really thought about doing it as a career. It was just a thing I did when my parents needed help and to make some money. I went on to become a cabinet maker and auto mechanic first, but eventually I got there. During college at the University of Minnesota, I went to Expo every year with friends and with Emily if she wasn’t busy. After we were married and started having kids, we would just take them along. Going to Expo for at least a day or two became a tradition. After I accepted a part-time job as a sales representative for Udder Comfort, I worked a booth at Expo, talking to other farmers all day, which was so much fun. Emily would bring the kids to Expo, and we would have fun visiting with friends in the evening and playing in the hotel pool. Eventually, as our kids got older and our farm changed, we made the trip to Expo less and less often.
We haven’t been to WDE for quite a few years now. Our kids are in a number of activities that take a fair bit of time, and we have more responsibilities on the farm as my parents work toward taking more time off. Perhaps next year we’ll make it there, but we’ve said that a number of times and haven’t made it happen yet. Our oldest son is old enough to attend the 4-H dairy conference, so maybe next year at least one member of our family will be heading there. I wonder if we’d still bump into a lot of friends there, or if like us, many of them have other things they need to be doing that week. I do still get to see a bit of Expo through pictures on Facebook. It looks like the same fun time it always was.
This weekend we head to Iowa for a rock-climbing competition that has kind of taken the place of our Expo trip the last few years. Des Moines is just far enough away that a hotel stay is necessary because getting up at 3:30 a.m. to drive to a sporting event isn’t very conducive to doing well in that event. I hope we can leave to drive down there early enough in the evening so that I can watch everyone out in the fields combining corn and beans.
Until next time, keep living the dream, and stay safe if you’re one of those combine-driving folks out providing the world with grains to eat and me with something interesting to look at on our road trips.
Tim Zweber farms with his wife, Emily, their three children and his parents, Jon and Lisa, near Elko, Minnesota.
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