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Grateful for a network of farmwomen

PD Editor Emily Caldwell Published on 20 November 2013

My Facebook newsfeed has been blowing up with daily notifications about what each of my friends are thankful for.Most posts are thoughtful and what you’d expect around the holidays – faith, family and feeling satisfied with their careers and farms.

Some are slightly off-the-wall. I’m looking at you, Karma, with your “bacon-flavored salt” and “silly cat videos” gratitude.I’m not planning to participate in the daily updating process, but mine would be about the same.

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This gig of a remotely based editor gives me a great work-life balance with plenty of opportunities for travel and professional development while still leaving me with the right amount of family time and the ability to be in church most Sunday mornings.

Being close to home also allows me to connect with friends in the area. I have a couple of friends from college who initiated a regular gathering of farmwomen in nearby counties.

Our group gives full credit for inspiration to the “Real Farmwives of Berks County and friends” ladies. HERd management columnist Raechel Kilgore Sattazahn wrote about the group in our August 11, 2013 issue .

Our “Farmwomen of western PA and friends” functions the same way. We meet for dinner on a regular basis and share laughs over stories that only those with similar experiences can fully appreciate. Click here to see similar stories in the #dairygirlproblems section.

Shortly after Raechel’s column went live on our website, I was surprised to receive notification of an online comment from Vicky Caldwell, my mom:

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Very nice piece, Raechel. Reminds me of my time as a new farmwife. I had grown up on my grandfather’s farm but hadn’t been that involved in the daily chores. All of my husband’s farmer friends had married women without a farming background.

Even though we were in different stages of married life (Newlywed, new parents, three-plus kids), the wives got together for exercise classes, ceramic classes or Dairy Promotion meetings. As our families grew and our kids got older, we had less and less time for our activities.

Sadly, many of the marriages and/or farms have dissolved over the years. Moral of the story: You’re not just forging friendships; you’re preserving farmland and families. Stay the course.

Mom shares this mindset with one of this issue’s authors, Sarah Daugherty. Her article celebrates the women who choose to have a dairy career (either in the industry, on the farm, or in many cases, both) in addition to being mothers.

One of the keys to “having it all” is also having a network of trustworthy women who know what you’re going through. Click here to see her article.

Daugherty and I actually met this year at World Dairy Expo during the first annual Dairy Girl Networking Dinner, which was organized by Wisconsin dairywoman Laura Daniels.

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That dinner spurred many new friendships for women who have probably heard of one another but would have otherwise not met face-to-face.

But like my mom said, the beauty of making those connections goes much further than friendships. Having that support and knowing there’s a group who has their back can encourage dairywomen to start blogs, speak at conferences and take on leadership roles.

Click here to see more thoughts on this topic through a roundtable of women discussing the book Lean In and from Minnesota dairywoman Barb Liebenstein .

In fact, as I finish up this editorial, I need to switch gears and put the final touches on a presentation I’m giving about telling your story through social media.

Raechel had reached out to me two months ago about speaking during a Women in Agriculture event she’s involved in through her employer, AgChoice Farm Credit.

Public speaking isn’t my favorite thing to do. I prefer to be in front of a computer screen and write, review, edit and re-write. But the topic is something I’m comfortable with and feel fairly confident in presenting. And the opportunity to network with other women in ag for a whole day? Well, that’s just too good to pass up. PD

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