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HERd management: Happily farming

Kelli Woodring Published on 17 October 2014

females on farm

I know that farming is not always simple. There seems to be a standard for farmers that they should be carefree and happy all the time, but happiness is not always how it’s imagined.



Some people think you need a bunch of money or to live in a fancy house. Then there’s a different type of people who put on their boots every morning and milk their cows and they’re happy. They like their lives simple and appreciate everything they have been blessed with. Those are my kind of people.

Many years ago, I met a family with a dream. All they ever wanted was to own their own farm and take care of their cows every day. So instead of waiting around, they made it happen. It wasn’t easy, but they took a jump and never looked back. It was a while before they landed on their feet, and the struggle was real.

Ultimately though, they fulfilled their dream. It worked because they had passion and goals. They took each day one at a time and were proud of their small victories. I’m sure if I asked about their journey, they would tell me they’re happy; but the fact is I’ve never had to ask because it’s in their smiles.

A few years back, I met two “retired farmers.” They like to think of themselves as retired even though they work harder than most people I know. They grew up right down the road from each other, and these two men are the definition of neighbors. I had never before seen the type of kindness and generosity they have.

If one’s tractor is broken, the other is on their way with the parts to fix it. If one needs help moving cattle, the other is right there ready to run. Too often, people are too consumed with themselves to help others, but these men have reminded me what farming is all about: working together for a great cause. They put others before themselves and they’re more than happy to do it.


More than 10 years ago, I met my best friend. We had one thing in common: We adored our cows. I’m drawn to people like that; you can tell how glad they are to have their cattle. We both started showing cows very young, and soon enough we were competing against each other.

He has always helped me and let me borrow all the supplies I forgot. I know if there is anyone who works hard and deserves to win, it’s him and his beautiful red cows. So if I have to lose a show to my best friend, I can be happy with that.

My whole life I’ve had my sister by my side. I asked her a year ago to give up her job and come help me on the farm, and she was happy to do it. So instead of waking up every day and walking into an air-conditioned or heated building, she walks out to whatever weather is happening and works through it.

I like to call her my assistant, but really, she knows I couldn’t do this without her anymore. She takes care of the calves in addition to helping me with all the cows. She will tell anyone how different it is to go from just putting in a 9-to-5 to working with a purpose. I believe she is happy with the change.

There have been a countless number of farmers in my life who have been examples of happiness, but really, it’s a choice. They could have seen the negatives – all the things working against them. Instead, they chose to see the beauty in the chaos.

They chose to push forward. They chose to be good people. They have taught me about the important things in life. I know not every day will be great. I know bad days will happen, but when you surround yourself with good people and good cows, how could you not be happy? PD


  • Kelli Woodring

  • Dairy Producer
  • Shippensburg, Pennsylvania