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HERd Management: For the love of cows

Kelli Woodring for Progressive Dairy Published on 19 October 2020

My story began at 6 years old when a little calf started my love of cows. And it continued on for many years when I showed dairy cattle in 4-H. Every friendship that ever lasted was created at a county fair, showing cows. My first job was at 7 years old, feeding calves.

I loved it, and I took pride in watching them grow. My own herd of cows continued to grow, as did I, but my mind never changed. I had one goal: To have my very own farm full of cows of every breed and color.

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After I graduated high school, I started working full-time on a large local dairy, feeding calves. And they let me bring all my cows there with me. I experienced so many new challenges there and eventually became the herd manager. I enjoyed every minute of my work. I was doing what made me happy. I continued to grow throughout my seven years managing the farm until eventually, I outgrew this job. It was time for a new beginning and hopefully moving another step closer to having a farm of my own.

So me and my little herd of cows packed up and moved to a small town where I started a new job. It was honestly one of the scariest things I’ve done. I left behind a job I loved, my family and friends, and my home. But I had my cows with me and a big dream; that’s all I needed.

My new job was so exciting. The owners were milking at three different facilities. I got to be on one farm by myself with all of my cows. It was so close to my dream. I got to milk my own cows and take care of them every day. After a couple months of working here, an employee was hired to help with scraping and maintenance. Turns out, after spending every day chasing cows and wrangling employees together, we fell in love. We spent the next year there together, growing my herd (but not just the cows). In May, we welcomed our first child into the world. And by June, I was back to work again. I missed my cows too much while I was gone.

Today, I’m a full-time mom, but still part-time on the farm. I still haven’t achieved my dream of my own farm, and some days, I really don’t know if that dream will ever become a reality. But what I do know is chasing that dream with all my heart has made me happy. I blindly followed my passion because I knew as long as I was with my cows, I would be all right.

You see, I truly believe that whatever your story is, don’t fight it. Don’t fear change. If you feel you’re being pulled in one direction, it’s probably for a reason. My plans didn’t work out how I imagined in my head, but I believe they turned out better. Maybe one day I’ll be able to write about how my husband and I finally bought our own farm, and my dream finally came true. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the journey and reflect on how far I’ve come. And thank God for my love of cows that got me where I am today.  end mark

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Kelli Woodring
  • Kelli Woodring

  • Dairy Producer
  • Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
  • Email Kelli Woodring

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