What do you like the most – and the least – about working as a dairy farmer?
My favorite thing about being a dairy farmer is the overall opportunity– I love that this is my business and I get to make decisions. I love that the work I put in is going towards my well-being and that of my animals.
What I dislike most about working as a dairy farmer is the constant responsibility. Everyone who owns a farm knows how often their personal life gets interrupted by some event on the farm. I am constantly searching for solutions to that. I also hate cold weather… thanks Michigan.
Describe how the work on the farm is shared or divided up in your family?
Our family farms 800 acres and has 130 milking cows. I handle all the responsibilities for the cattle. I have three part-time employees who together do a large portion of the work. My dad’s primary focus is on crops and equipment, but is willing to help with the cows whenever I’m short-handed. My mother is the farm “watch-dog” and is always running around, making sure things are running smoothly.
How do you think your farm’s business plan will change 10 years from now?
I go back and forth between expanding or not. I crave reprieve from the farm sometimes and in my experience, larger farms are better positioned for this. Not to say they don’t have to work as hard or they have fewer headaches, but taking a morning or a weekend off isn’t the end of the world. I hope to start a family soon and if that happens, everything is off the table.
During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?
When I’m discouraged, you can likely find me swearing at an inanimate object. Finding ways to relieve stress is important. For me, physical exercise or some form of escape is key. The thing that keeps me going is fear of failure. I am the third generation and I want to succeed for those who came before me, and those who will potentially come after me.
What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?
I honestly don’t know. I have never had a job other than working on a dairy farm but I think I could be successful elsewhere. On rainy or snowy days sometimes I fantasize about an office job. The 9 – 5 o’clock life with weekends off sounds appealing, but I know I would get bored quickly. I need the opportunity to climb up the ladder.