West Salem, Wisconsin
La Crosse County
Tell us about your farm and family. I farm with my husband, Joe. We have three kids, Gabe, Gibson and Ellison. Our cows are housed in sand-bedded free stalls and milked in a stanchion barn with 13 units. Joe and I have been running the dairy since 2014.
What is a typical day like for you on the dairy? We milk at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. I start chores in the morning and then get the kids to school by 8 a.m. Joe keeps chores going while I get the kids off to school. Then the calves get fed, cows get fed and manure gets scraped. I pick the kids up at 3 p.m. from school. We work on homework and dinner and then do chores again.
What decision have you made in the last year that has benefited your farm? Within the last couple years, we made the decision to install a peroxide injector into the water supply. We discovered that we had high iron levels in the water; it was four times higher than it was supposed to be. We were experiencing low production issues, and once we fixed the water supply, the production came back up. We can tell if we run out of peroxide because production will drop by 1,000 pounds.
Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. Someone was on the run from the cops and stole our farm truck out of our driveway in the middle of the day. We are not far from town, so the person was on foot. The truck’s brakes did not work, and the person had to abandon it after driving at high speeds through town and narrowly missing houses. When the cops found him, he was in his underwear, and his clothes were near where the truck was abandoned and soaked in manure. We discovered that right before he stole the truck, he had run right through our manure pit. The top crust on the pit was broken up, and there were footprints on the ramp coming out of the pit. We got our truck back and still laugh about the justice he served himself by taking a swim in the pit and then stealing a truck that had faulty brakes.
What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? Raising cows that we bred, seeing the genetics that we created grow up and realizing what we’ve accomplished.
What is your biggest accomplishment in your dairy career? We got the first awards for somatic cell count on this farm. We got it twice. We were just diligent with the milking procedure and stayed consistent. It was rewarding to be the first ones on the farm to achieve it.
What are things you do to promote your farm or the dairy industry? I give all the kids’ teachers cheese baskets for Christmas. We eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of chocolate milk. We wear our promo T-shirts from Associated Milk Producers Inc., and I always educate when the opportunity arises.
What advice would you give another woman in the dairy industry? You are worthy and enough just as you are with everything that you are doing. It can be hard to feel like we do enough sometimes, and we have to remember that we are worthy. I also feel that farm kids are not there to be your free help. If we choose to farm, we should do the work. The kids are not expected to do the parents’ work in any other job, and it should be no different on a farm.
What is a challenge in the dairy industry you have faced and how did you overcome it? Transitioning. There are people in the younger generation who want to work, but the older generation needs to allow it. The older generation needs to ask themselves what they want out of their farm. Do they want the younger generation to get in, or do they just want to be wealthy? It is something we are still working on.
When you get a spare moment, what do you do? Spend time with our friends and our kids.
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