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HERd Management: From California to Idaho, dairying is in my blood

Hannah Vander Poel for Progressive Dairy Published on 17 April 2020

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been around dairy cows, and I have worked with my dad, Brian, on our dairy in Shafter, California. Every Saturday morning, I loved going out with him on the dairy in the golf cart to check cows.

On summer break from school, I and my two sisters, Kathryn and Rebecca, would be cleaning water troughs, helping move cows, writing down my dad’s hot cows he had to breed, riding our bikes or making new games in the commodity shed. I had always thought that was the usual thing a “dairy kid” does. My sisters and I also showed cows at the Kern County Fair. We would work with our cows and train them to be show cows all summer long. Fair time was my favorite time of the year, even though it was a lot of work.

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I have always loved being around cows and knew that when I grew up, I would do something with cows. I just knew cows and was able to connect with them. My dad always told me I had “cow sense” and that I got it from him. Now, my dad is one of my biggest role models. He has been dairying ever since he was little with my grandpa, Hank. My dad started breeding cows when he was 13 years old. To this day, he is at our dairy in Shafter six to seven days a week, breeding, moving cows, treating cows, and he loves every minute of it. I don’t think my dad will ever stop loving the dairy and his cows. Now, as an adult, I feel the same way. I guess it is just in my blood.

My family had started the dairy in Castleford, Idaho, around the fall of 2016. Our dairy in California was starting to get overcrowded; it was the time to expand. I would visit from time to time and help work on the dairy in Idaho. I fell in love with Idaho and the way of life here. I moved from Bakersfield, California, to Idaho in January of 2018. I was living in Boise in the dorms at Boise State University. My then-boyfriend (fiancé now), Josh Lund, lived and worked at his family dairy in Wendell.

I decided to move to Twin Falls in the summer of 2018 and stayed in the Magic Valley as the College of Southern Idaho had a flex program where they offered Boise State classes. So I was able to be close to Josh and still go to school and work on achieving my bachelor’s degree in accountancy. I didn’t start working on our Idaho dairy until the winter of 2018 when more help was needed. I was the only other family member in Idaho, as my parents and sisters still live in California. I was only out maybe once or twice a week to help with dry cows and vet check.

Around February of 2019, I started becoming more full-time on the dairy, so I decided to move out of my apartment in Twin Falls and move to the farmhouse on the dairy in Castleford, Idaho. This was the same time I started my Instagram (@IDDairyGirl), documenting my life on the dairy. I started getting back into the dairy industry, learning and soaking in everything I could from my dad. I learned from my dad how to artificially inseminate a cow. I passed my first cow two days after learning. My parents were surprised and so proud of me; it was in my blood.

After a year-and-a-half of running my family’s Idaho dairy, I have learned so much, and I still continue to learn every day. All of our herd work is done between me and our herdsman, Jose Maya (Lupe). Lupe and I have been able to work really well together and make a great team alongside our other employees. I keep track and am in charge of all of our cows and data on DairyComp 305, our DHIA entries, payroll, commodities, and I am starting to learn more about bookwork programs from my mom, Kerri, who currently does all the bookwork for both dairies and farmland. I will be graduating college in May of 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and I am hoping that I will be able to take over the books for the Idaho dairy and farmland.

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I have achieved several goals I set when I first started helping more on the dairy, such as cutting operation, supply and repair costs. In the summer of 2019, we finally were presented with an opportunity to raise our own heifers. I am currently the head manager of our heifer operation. I artificially inseminate at our heifer ranch six days a week, give Ovsynch shots and track inventory. The next steps are all a mystery to me, as no two days are the same on the dairy. But I continue to have the same goal of keeping our herd healthy and strong.

I feel so proud of myself and the work I have done to help my family’s farm. I feel so proud of myself watching our calves come through our heifer ranch and then to our dairy as they get closer to calving. I feel so proud of myself seeing our farmland prosper and our crops grow tall. I knew ever since I was little that I wanted to work around cows for the rest of my life; I am so lucky that I was given that opportunity and that I am succeeding. Dairying is just in my blood.  end mark

Hannah Vander Poel
  • Hannah Vander Poel

  • Castleford, Idaho
  • Dairy Farmer
  • Instagram:@IDDairyGirl

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