October 13, 2014 – By Sadie Frericks, Staff Writer/Columnists, Dairy Star
Before Glen and I started dairy farming, we wrote up a complete business plan, which detailed everything from how we planned to feed and milk our cows to how we planned to take care of ourselves (you know – decent meals, time off, sufficient sleep).
Our plan was compiled using ideas we had gathered from growing up on farms, from college classes and from other family members and friends who were dairy farming.
We followed the course we had charted in our business plan as best we could. We did a great job taking care of our cows. We didn’t do as well taking care of ourselves. There just never seemed to be enough hours in the day for daily made-from-scratch meals and eight hours of sleep.
When our course took a completely different direction, we adapted as best we could. We learned a lot in those first years of farming and each experience helped us prepare for the next.
But nothing – no childhood experiences, no college lectures, no previous experience – had prepared us for what came next: farming with children.
Although we had always planned to have a family, we had never given any thought to how we would manage our farm responsibilities while also taking care of our kids. I was rattled. How were we going to take care of kids when we didn’t have enough time to take care of the cows and ourselves?
So I started asking every dairy farm mom in our neighborhood the same questions: What do you do with your kids while you’re doing chores? How do you get the meals and housework done?
I got lots of great advice and pieced several of those ideas into a system that worked for us (at least most of the time). No system is guaranteed to work 100 percent of the time.
From those farm moms in our neighborhood, I have built a solid network of dairy girls. Dairy farming women who I can turn to with all kinds of questions: everything from juggling chores while getting kids on the bus to social media strategies, from calf care to column ideas. Sometimes my dairy girls just listen when I need to celebrate a triumph or lament a challenge.
My circle of dairy girls grew considerably last week when I attended the Dairy Girl Networking Dinner at World Dairy Expo. I can’t fully describe how exciting it was to walk into a room of more than 150 dairy girls of all ages and from all facets of the dairy industry and see familiar faces and new faces. Friendships were renewed and new connections were made.
No two of us came from the same situation. Some of the dairy girls at the dinner were dairy farmers, others worked in the dairy industry. Some came to the dinner with years of dairy experience, others were just starting their careers. Some were moms, some were not.
But we all had a similar commonality – our involvement in the dairy industry. At every table I visited, there was no shortage of conversation. We all found a way to connect.
I’m super excited that this Dairy Girl Network will continue beyond the dinner. An online community and future events will provide additional opportunities for dairy women to interact. Every dairy girl needs a strong support network and I believe the Dairy Girl Network will be an easier way for dairy women to find that support.
Not all of us have dairy girls in our neighborhood – or even our county. When we were farming in northern Minnesota, my closest dairy girl was nearly an hour away. In that time before social media and text messages, it was hard to find time to connect.
Now, I find that a quick phone call or text message is all I need to feel like I’m not the only dairy girl struggling with a challenge. But I still don’t connect with my dairy girls in person as much as I’d like to.
The Dairy Girl Network will give all of us more opportunities to get together.
If you’re not already, and would like to be part of the Dairy Girl Network, send me an email or a message via social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as @dairygoodlife.