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0907 PD: Dairymen Anonymous, No Mas

Brandon Covey Published on 31 August 2007

“Um, Hi. My name is Bob, and I’ve been dairying for 12 years.”

Group, together: “Hi, Bob.”

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“Well, where do I start? My father was a dairyman, and my family was often the subject of ridicule. I even remember times going to school smelling like a dairy.”

Group: *Gasp*

“When I left home, I stayed ‘clean’ for many years. But I watched as others went down the same path as my father – one I swore I’d never go down. Then, after about 10 years on my own, the unthinkable happened…”

Group: *Gasp*

“…I, too, started dairying. In fact, rarely is there a day that I don’t; weekends and holidays are no exceptions. My family wonders if I’ll ever be able to quit.”

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Group leader: “Thanks for sharing, Bob. And welcome; you are not alone.”

While Bob and his group are fictional, most of us know someone like Bob. A few of us are even fortunate enough to know a support group like his. Of course, the real groups don’t have formal meetings like Bob’s. Most are held in cafes, coffee shops, sale barns and the like. The support can come in a group setting or one-on-one. The subject matter is usually more serious than Bob’s and is usually disguised with good humor.

Nowadays, Bob’s biggest fears would probably be harassment from activists after he heard about the website that maps factory farms. (Their definition of a factory farm is anything over 500 animals.) Bob might also secretly worry about an immigration raid (La Migra, as my wife calls them). Like many dairymen, Bob would be getting hit from so many sides that he’d have to have a support group.

With things like this hanging over their heads, it’s no wonder an increasing number of dairymen are often more businessman than farmer. A few of today’s dairymen even come equipped with a lawyer-mode button (and that’s not a bad thing). However, dairymen, for the most part – even the “big” ones – just want to dairy in the old-fashioned sense of the word: farm, feed, milk, check the cows, etc. If a person wanted to get into the business strictly to make money, there’s a chance they might. However, most dairymen would probably agree it’s not worth it if you don’t have a passion for the cows (and many would discourage it even if you do have that passion).

It hurts to see hardworking land stewards and animal caregivers give in to outspoken extremists. I truly believe that supporters of ag outnumber the antis, but the radicals have “louder” voices, so they’re the ones that get heard. I’m afraid they won’t realize their mistakes until after they’ve “won.” So how do we divvy our time between God, family, the dairy and educating others (not to mention any hobbies we might have)? I suppose we all have to find our individual answers to this question.

Nonetheless, as we go about our ways, every once in a while it’s nice to know there are others that share those things weighing heavy on our hearts. As always, God does the rest. PD

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