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HERd management: In 2015, don’t be afraid to bare your soul

Honor DeBates Schwartz Published on 31 December 2014

females on farm

I am a newbie to agricultural advocacy and am more familiar with poetry, despite the fact that I have worked on my family farm since I could walk.

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Many poets place great emphasis on baring their souls and telling their true feelings through their poems. The logic is: The more honest and unconventional the poet is when they tell their story in a poem, the greater the chances are of the poetry community embracing them.

I believe it is just as important for us farmwomen to express our true feelings as it is for poets. I often see that we are quick to open up and explain our management styles in blogs to the non-farm public. But we seem to be hesitant to bare our souls and divulge what we dream of to the outside world.

I admit I am just as guilty as anyone else of not expressing my aspirations to others due to my shyness. However, I think if we share our personal hopes and dreams more often, we can better understand each other’s personalities and management styles, which can help us grow as a united community of agricultural advocates.

After all, farming can be a lonesome occupation. No matter how much a girl talks to cows, they never will talk back. And in my opinion, the best lady farmers are those who let down their guards and open up their hearts to others.

Thus, I will admit here that I make it my goal each year to go out on at least a handful of dates during the year and try to find the right farmer for me. I want to one day fall in love with a dairy farmer and become a farmwife to a handsome farmer who scratches cows’ ears every day. It is a major dream of mine, and I’d like to think that other single farm girls share similar dreams.

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The hard part about making my dream happen is going through with the dating part. Dating isn’t easy for most girls, but I think us farm girls have it tougher.

Not only do we want to find someone whose personality and future goals we understand, but also someone whose management style we can appreciate. And I have had my fair share of dates with men whose personalities I didn’t get along with and whose aspirations weren’t in the same ball park as mine.

However, my generation is lucky. There are lots of matchmaking options (including online dating services) available. And there also still are old-fashioned farm dates, which I am much more comfortable with.

I consider farm dates to be dates in which two people work on whatever needs to be done on the farm together. They are simple to plan and inexpensive. They also are a great way for a woman to find out about how a man treats his cows, find out what his dreams and goals are, find out what makes him tick and what his true feelings are.

I once went out on an evening milking date with a farmer. The snow came down outside his tiestall barn, and the cows stood inside chewing their cuds as the milking units clicked and clicked. My date spoke about his future plans above the clicks, and I found myself drawn to his soft voice. His cow Bam-Bam (who enjoyed kicking the milking unit off) didn’t even hinder the conversation.

I wound up finding out more about his personality than I would have during a dinner date. And even though I enjoyed his optimistic attitude, I did not share his passion for managing a herd of registered Holsteins at two separate locations. He wasn’t the right farmer for me, but I still smile when I remember that date.

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I hope to have more dates like that one in 2015. And perhaps if I succeed and complete my goal, then next year my goal for the year may be a little different.

I once read somewhere that when a writer or poet tells the truth, they must tell the whole story, never half. In other words, the whole story includes both the good and the bad parts. It is never a good idea for a poet to leave out half of the truth from their story in a narrative poem.

Farmwomen are often honest and frank with our opinions. But I think we should also let down our guards more often to voice and share our personal dreams as well as our disappointments in order to make them happen. Perhaps the non-farm public will be able to relate to us better when we expose more of our true selves, express our aspirations and bare our souls. PD

Honor DeBates Schwartz
Dairy Producer
McDonough, New York

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