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Part 2: How a cow changed my life

By April 13, 2014 , ,

Continued from last week ... 

When I enrolled in higher education i.e. college, I had long-term career ambitions of one day serving as the voice of the small-time, purebred livestock producer. It's true.

While young and naive, I noticed the trends in the dairy industry. I watched as my dad's dairy buddies slowly went out of business and liquidated their herds. The little guys being pushed out of the picture by larger, corporate dairies. I wanted to do everything I could to protect small family farms from the same ill fate.

I majored in agricultural communications and quickly joined the dairy club. There were a few in the dairy club who didn't grow up on a dairy farm per se, but those that did had many more cows than my dear old Dad. I got to know dairy kids from all sized operations and quickly gained an appreciation for the way they operated their business and oh yea they were family-owned, too, just like Dad. Hmph ...

Then I traveled to the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., not only opening my eyes to the dairy industry nationwide, but also dairy on a global scale. I also began to see how many dairies were incredibly diversified and there wasn't necessarily just two options as I had originally thought. Those two options ... go big or go organic. Two options, ha. How about thousands? Dairy producers raising only heifers, dairy farmers raising chickens, hogs, growing and selling hay, starting excavating businesses; agritourism, processing and selling farmstead cheeses and dairy products. The options .... endless really.

And those bigger dairies ... guess what ... most started out just like Dad, but because of family members wanting to come home and milk cows, too, they had to milk a few more cows and farm a few more acres to support more families. And so the government didn't tax the bejesus out of them, they formed a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or a Corporation (Inc). Corporate dairies, an accurate statement, but not in the context I once thought. My old school theories were being shattered and my eyes were opening.

But still, I wasn't sure I was comfortable with the idea of raising thousands of cows or definitely not thousands of pigs.

A small town girl that grew up on a small time dairy. It was my comfort zone. My home. I wasn't sure I could raise animals that I didn't have a close connection with. Regardless, I pursued my college career and keep my eyes open, absorbing the possibilities. The future was uncharted.

And then I met this guy who changed it all.

To be continued ...

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