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HERd management: What matters most

Raechel Kilgore Sattazahn Published on 31 March 2015

females on farm

In today’s world, it seems that we are always asked to describe ourselves in two or three sentences, whether it is in the “About” section on our social media profile pages or the quick introduction we give to someone we meet.

In my case, it normally goes something like this, “Hi, I’m Raechel. We have a dairy farm, and I love agriculture.”

Anyone that knows me realizes I say that in about five sentences more than what I’ve written here, with a few more details, but you get the point.

The point is, I stay very high-level, not exposing too many personal details about myself and certainly keeping everything positive. While that is my name and I do love agriculture, deep down inside there is so much more to who I am and what I value. But too often, we never get to that point, even in our close relationships with friends and family.

I’m not suggesting that we need to share all of our personal details with everyone we meet. I am suggesting that we need to not be afraid to be vulnerable around the ones we love. We should feel comfortable sharing our hopes, dreams and even fears with the people who mean the most to us.

However, being able to be vulnerable with others means we need to be comfortable with who we are. Oftentimes we need to have a courageous conversation with ourselves, asking questions like, “What do I value most?” “What are my dreams?” and “How can I get the most fulfillment from my life?”

As women involved in dairy operations, we are too often consumed with our busy lives – doing chores on the farm, keeping up with our off-farm careers, trying to manage our families and volunteering with the local 4-H club.

This “go, go, go” mentality is the perfect excuse to not take time for personal reflection, and it is one that I struggle with in my everyday life. Sometimes the clarity in my life isn’t there because I am too busy doing what I think is important, yet ignoring some of the most important things in my life.

I once heard a speaker say, “We cannot do for others what we have not done for ourselves.”

In order to be there for our dairy farmer husbands and fellow farmwomen down the road when they need us the most, we need to first be comfortable with who we are. We need to know what matters to us. We need to understand our core values. And we need to know where our breaking point is.

It is easy to get caught up in the quest for perfection in our lives. From the outside, it can seem like others have the “perfect farm” or “perfect family,” and we yearn to have everything go according to plan. But life isn’t perfect, and it certainly isn’t predictable.

We know this from our work on the farm and how the feed mixer conveniently breaks down on Christmas Eve or how a hailstorm rips through what seemed like the perfect summer growing season. Yes, we can plan, but we can’t control the uncontrollable.

The bottom line is: We need to be honest with ourselves in order to be honest with others. We need to recognize that some things are within our control and other things are not. Life is about the journey, not the destination, and we need to surround ourselves with others that care for us and appreciate who we are. PD

raechel sattazahn

Raechel Kilgore Sattazahn
Dairy Producer
Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania

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