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HERd management: Blue collars are important too

Ashley Messing-Kennedy Published on 11 June 2014

females on farm

When I graduated from high school, I was ready to go to college and rock the world.



I was going to have some amazing job in the dairy industry where I was going to make mountains of money and just be an awesome woman. I wanted to put the world on its ear and make it take me seriously.

Let’s fast-forward four years. At graduation I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do long term. I had a highly sought-after internship, but I was just as lost as to what job I wanted to pursue.

In my head, I thought it would be a step down to go back to the farm after all of that education. So many people told me I was “too smart” to be a dairy farmer … whatever that means. It frustrates me because farmers are thought of as stupid or not smart enough to get another job.

After being around farmers all of my life and meeting hundreds more through my travels, I have a reality check for anyone who thinks that. We may not be book smart, but we are by no means stupid or dumb or not capable of succeeding in the real world.

My cousins, who often live in the city and have big fancy jobs, usually give me funny looks when I talk about my love of farming. I love them all dearly, but they think I’m crazy. They can’t understand why I would want to live in the country and work in such a dirty job like farming. Often people cannot understand my attachment to the cows, land and buildings.


Don’t get me wrong. There are days I miss being five minutes from a Target or a shopping mall. There are days I wish I had a job where I wasn’t on call 24 hours a day for the robots or a cow calving.

It sure would be nice to come home and be able to leave work at work. But I am emotionally attached to my farm. The reality of it is: We need blue-collar people doing what many consider “ordinary” jobs.

Too often our culture has shied away from these blue-collar jobs. Our country still needs people to work in hundreds of different trades. We still need the plumbers, the cooling experts and the people who produce food.

There are too many people who think these careers are beneath them, but unless they are going to turn their entire urban backyard into a garden and begin growing all of their own food, they will always need me.

Each time they open their fridge, I and many like me have filled it with healthy, nutritious food. We will need the plumber when our pipes break. You will need that air conditioning employee when your AC goes out on the hottest day of the summer.

Today’s schools push kids to go to college. Truthfully, I went to college and loved it. However, college isn’t for everyone. Maybe the typical bachelor’s degree path isn’t what everyone needs. It is our instinct to push our kids to be better and have a better life than we do.


Sometimes we forget that there isn’t anything wrong with being a part of our blue-collar group. There is nothing shameful about working hard and making a good living.

During the day-to-day, I often start to feel small and like my job isn’t making much of a difference. I feel stuck in my own world on the farm. I have to remember that people like us make the world go ’round. Without the people like us, kitchen cupboards would be empty, sinks would be leaking, and no one would have air conditioning in the summer heat. PD

ashley messing

Ashley Messing-Kennedy
Dairy Producer
Bad Axe, Michigan