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HERd management: Laughter is the best medicine for you and your cows

Deanna Lanier Published on 30 June 2014

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Around our farm there is always something going on, whether it is getting ready to go spray a field, plant a plot or milk the cows.



While it is always busy, it seems something is always stopping production by going wrong. The tractor breaks, a bearing goes out on a piece of equipment or the cows are in a “real” joyful mood. How does a farmer deal with all of this every day?

On our farm, we make it a priority to laugh at least once every day. Some days this is hard to do, but at least one person always seems to be the “mood” changer. Sometimes, we need a little life lesson while milking or a good talking to while repairing equipment to remember our roots and put us back into a good spirit, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

My dad and I have worked in the barn together from when I was just a little girl, through many life changes, and now together again, we work side-by-side to make the cows happy and to make the best product for our consumers.

I can remember back when I was just a young girl, begging my dad to go with him to milk. He would bundle me up, and I would tag along. I could only reach high enough to spray the cows with their post-dip though.

Honestly, most of the time I would just go back and fall asleep in the truck or beside the milk tank. You could find me watching cartoons, too. He enjoyed our time together, even if it was just checking to make sure I was OK while sleeping.


Precious moments like that made me want to raise my future children to love the dairy too.

As I got older and changed with the years, we changed how we spent our time in the barn. It led to more responsibilities and helping get the cows in, milking the whole herd by myself and doing more things around the farm.

This is also when the jokes began to make milking more of a joy and a special time between us. My dad told me he was a “cownselor” and would listen to the cows while they told him their daily woes. He even made a business card up that said he was “out standing in his field, call Farmer Doug.” I would get a good chuckle, and that is when he became the “Cowmoodian” to me.

I would join in making cow jokes and tell him I was one too, but he would only allow me to be his junior cowmoodian. It just started flowing back and forth through most milkings, one cow joke to another and the laughter endless.

I can still remember learning how to drive a tractor. It was quite the ordeal. I also remember the time I accidently backed the tractor and feed wagon into the barn. Oops!

Moments like that, while frustrating and embarrassing, taught me to do even more to help. Also, we can laugh about them now just like the time I kind of ripped off the bumper of Dad’s truck. Oops again!


Then more years passed, and I went away to college. The laughter didn’t stop while I was away. I can still remember my dad calling and leaving messages on my cell phone just to tell me a cowmoodian joke or to check in on me to see how my studies were going.

He was one of my biggest fans and supported me when I was on the dairy judging team. He would also call me to get my opinion on why a cow wasn’t feeling well or discuss possibilities of different things going on with the ladies and making sure I used that education I was getting.

Every moment we can make something of, we should strive to do so. Remembering the moments shared even long distance bring a smile to my face.

Now, I am back full-time helping to run the dairy and still learning how to take care of the cows, manage other farming operations and how the dairy operates full-force. Dad and I are still making cowmoodian jokes and striving to keep up good spirits when we are fighting the drought, tractors break, or we just don’t feel well.

I will always laugh when my dad tells my mom he has to go see his udder girls. Sometimes it doesn’t come udderly easy without some mooving help to get through the tough days. Just remember the cows, come summertime, sit around and count the stars in the Milky Way.

I am sure the cows enjoy it as much as we do – happy farmers and happy cows. They always say laughter is the best medicine, and I make sure to get my daily dose.

Yet along with the day-to-day struggles, challenges and busy seasons, we laugh. All it takes is one simple little joke to make the milk barn glow. PD

  • Deanna Lanier

  • Dairy Producer
  • Valley Center, Kansas