Women in Dairy

Posted

Emma Borchardt
Watertown, Wisconsin
Dodge County
100 cows

Tell us about your farm and family. I work alongside my sister, dad, uncle, grandma and grandpa. Our family farm is a true team effort with each person playing a crucial role in its operation. We operate a 100-cow, 500-acre dairy farm. All of our animals are raised on-site. We have a 65-stall stanchion barn. My sister and I take on the morning chores after milking and help milk when we can. My dad and grandpa handle milking when my sister and I cannot help. They help with morning chores, feeding the cows and calves, and fieldwork. My uncle contributes by assisting with cow feeding when he can and taking charge of a lot of the fieldwork. During the busiest time of the year, summer, our grandma steps in to ensure everyone is well-fed with her delicious meals. We also raise calves and cows for showing. My sister and I, along with a few other kids involved in 4-H and FFA, show our dairy cattle at the county fair.

What is a typical day like for you on the dairy? My day usually starts around 6 a.m., but I do not arrive on the farm until 7:30-8 a.m. I then help finish milking the last group of cows. I take care of feeding hay to the older calves and make sure the smaller heifers are happy and healthy. I take care of scraping the aisle and scraping behind the cows after they are out of the barn. We all help clean the gutters, and my grandpa hauls it away. My dad and I then take care of all the other chores, including putting corn stalks in the gutter, bedding the stalls, and throwing hay down in front of the cows for the night and next morning. This takes about 2-2.5 hours. Then, depending on the season, once the cows are done eating, we either let them back in the barn or in the pasture. In the summer, if we have fieldwork, we start on that. In the winter, I return home to work on my other job as I am also a real estate agent.

What decision have you made in the last year that has benefited your farm? When I graduated high school, I went to college to get my degree in real estate and started selling houses. After I got that up and running, I decided that in the off months of real estate (winter) and during the summer when we need more help with fieldwork, I was going to make it a priority to help on the farm whenever I could. This has helped keep the family farm running and also helped me keep a schedule while real estate is slow. It is also fun to share my experiences and everyday life on my private and business social media accounts.

Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. I have a ton of memorable experiences, but the one that started it all was when I was 6 years old. We had a big white cow that I named Sally. She was old but tame. One day, my dad let me help him put the milker on during milking. Every day after that night, I was out there hoping I would be able to help him again. Being able to do something that I watched my dad and grandpa do for so long made me feel like such a big kid. That moment is what sparked my love for farming and the dairy industry.

What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? Helping my sister and other kids in 4-H and FFA learn how to show dairy is what I have enjoyed most. I have showed since I was a kid, so being able to help the next generation learn how to do it and have such a fun time doing it like I did means the world to me. Showing at the county, state and national levels has been a dream come true. I hope I can continue to be someone these kids lean on for help and inspiration when it comes to showing. My sister and I have been blessed with family and friends who support us in our dreams, and I can only hope that I have played a small role in these kids’ journey in showing as well.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your dairy career? A few years ago, I started learning how to operate machinery so I could help with fieldwork and crops during the spring, summer and fall. I honestly never thought I would be one to help with that stuff, but I am so glad I learned. It brought a whole new perspective to the way things operate on and around the farm. There is so much that goes into making sure the farm has what it needs to succeed, and it is humbling to be a part of it all.

What are things you do to promote your farm or the dairy industry? I volunteer at events within the industry, post about what I do and what our industry does for everyone on social media, invite my friends and family to spend time with us on the farm learning about what we do, and show at the county fair, state dairy shows and World Dairy Expo.

What advice would you give another woman in the dairy industry? Keep being you. Just because a majority of the people in our industry are male does not mean that we can’t do it. I love what I do on our farm, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Take any and every opportunity you have in this industry and run with it.

When you get a spare moment, what do you do? During this time of year, almost all of my spare time is spent selling real estate. I take a lot of pride in what I do and make sure my clients get what they deserve, so every chance I get to focus on real estate, I take. If I am not working on the farm or selling real estate, I love to spend time with friends, go to the race track, take time to do things for myself and relax.

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