Simply Crazy Farms

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Rachel Schroeder is a member of Foremost Farms USA and co-owner of Simply Crazy Farms LLC of Watertown, Wisc., alongside her father, James McManama. James took over the family dairy farm after his father passed away in 1980. Over the past 37 years, the farm has grown from milking 25 cows and farming 80 acres, to milking 90 Holstein cows and farming 500 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. After earning her bachelor's degree in animal science and working off the farm for a few years, Rachel joined her father full time in 2013. They raise all their own young stock and feed. They have a few part-time employees to help with the three-times-per-day milkings. Rachel's husband Jesse works off the farm as a diesel technician, but he helps on the farm every weekend and during the planting/harvest seasons.

What do you like the most – and the least – about working as a dairy farmer?

Rachel: It's hard to pick what I like the most, as there as so many aspects that I love. I would probably have to say being able to work outside and with animals every day. Each day is different and provides its own set of challenges. The hardest part about dairy farming is the fact that it's a 24-7-365 job. If there's a problem, you need to be available.

James: I like that I can set my own hours, which can be a good and bad thing. I also love being outside, and there's never a dull day (or night!). The hardest part of farming is probably the tight margins.

Describe how the work on the farm is shared or divided up in your family?

Rachel: I oversee everything that has to do with the cows. I am also in charge of the human resources side of the business. My dad does the feeding, crop planning and bookwork, and my husband is the mechanic. We obviously overlap to help each other out in every area, especially when field work needs to be done!

How do you think your farm’s business plan will change 10 years from now?

Rachel: I know that within the next 10 years, I will have majority ownership of the farm. I will likely expand our herd size slightly, but I think I will be more interested in finding creative ways to grow the business versus just adding cows. The market is so volatile, it's hard to picture what the industry will even look like in 10 years.

James: We will have to see some growth, but not on a large scale. It's hard to say whether it will be in acres or cattle.

During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?

Rachel: I remember why I started farming: for the love of the cattle, the land and my family's history with this farm. I want to raise a fourth generation of dairy farmers here.

James: You have to remember the bad days will pass and the good days will come. And the good days always offset the bad.

What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?

Rachel: It's hard to picture doing anything else besides working with dairy cattle, but I might own my own fitness studio. I have a lot of passion for the fitness industry. I have the opportunity to teach a few early morning fitness classes each week, and I love it!

James: Good question. I have always wanted to be a pilot. I loved flying. I may also have been a riverboat captain.