Monday, March 16, 2015

Celebrating Michigan

The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development asked me to contribute to National Ag Week.  For those of you who already know me, it's a familiar story.  For those of you who are new, here's my background!  This article appears on their site:

Even though I grew up as the sixth generation on our family’s dairy farm, I didn’t see myself continuing the tradition.  I was adamant that I didn’t want a job that depended on the weather.  It seemed we were always worrying about it at home – was it ever going to rain?  Did it rain too much? Was it going to rain when the hay was down?  Why didn’t it ever rain!?

It’s not like I didn’t embrace the lifestyle.  I showed our Guernsey calves in 4-H, I washed the parlor when my dad milked, and I loved everything about living there, but I didn’t think I wanted it as a career.

I got my MA from Michigan State and my husband Kris and I worked in marketing around the country.  But Kris was also from a dairy farm … and one day we started talking about owning our own business.

Michigan and dairy farming suddenly seemed very attractive.  My parents were thinking about retirement, so we moved from Connecticut to Michigan, settled into my family’s 136-year-old farmhouse, and bought the farm.

We’re the sole owners of Evergreen Dairy, and the farm is more than a business – it’s our lifestyle. Part of what I love to do is to go into the community and talk to people about farming.  We also enjoy having people come and tour the farm.  Since you can only reach so many people in person, I also write a blog – Truth or Dairy – that shows and tells what it’s like on our dairy farm.

Another wonderful part about the Michigan farm lifestyle is that we have so many organizations that support and promote farming.  We’re involved at the local, state, and national level.  For instance, our milk co-op is Michigan Milk Producer’s Association, and through our involvement with them and National Milk Producers Federation, we’ve had the chance to represent our industry in Washington, D.C.  Through Michigan Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau, we always get the chance to come together with other farmers and have our voices heard. It’s great meeting so many active people from all the different farming industries to communicate on what we all have in common – the desire to run our family businesses.

This year, I had the opportunity to represent farmers through U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, in a position called the Face of Farming and Ranching.  The other four spokespeople and I are spending this year talking to consumers and communicating about farming and food questions.

Along with the enthusiastic people we work with in the agriculture organizations, there are important people closer to home.  Every day, we’re thankful for our neighbors and team members – who are often the same people.  We’re so fortunate that they share our same passion for farming.

Then, there’s the support system – there are so many industries that sustain a farm.  Just to name a few, we work with milk haulers, electricians, builders, machine dealers, and seed salesmen.  We have veterinarians, nutritionists, feed haulers, and planters.  Some days, it feels like everyone’s at the farm at once!  Each and every person serves a valuable role for making sure that quality milk comes from our farm to your table.

I still sit on the porch, willing the smell of rain in the air to turn into a downpour.  We still continually check the weather to see how it’s going to affect what we’re doing.  But – agriculture is Michigan’s second biggest industry, and we’re eighth in the country for milk production.  Not bad!  It turns out that Michigan weather is great for dairy farming … and the people are even better.

The article appears here:  An Inside Look at Being a Michigan Dairy Farmer

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