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HERd Management: ‘We’re still holding on’

Kelli Woodring for Progressive Dairy Published on 01 July 2019

Ask a dairy farmer how things are going, and I bet you’ll get a familiar answer: “We’re still holding on,” which is the polite way of saying “It’s really hard right now. We’re struggling to make ends meet. We don’t know how much longer we can do this, but we’re praying something changes soon.”

I guess you could say most of us are crazy. We’re holding on to a hope that the markets are going to turn around. There are mornings I hit snooze 10 times before I even open my eyes. And sometimes I have to make my coffee extra strong that day. But I couldn’t imagine a morning where I didn’t wake up and watch the sunrise from the parlor windows.

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And some days, I think it’s faith and sheer will that keep us going. But for me, I know why I still do this, and it’s because of the memories I have growing up and how I want to give the next generation those same opportunities.

After those long, hot summer days I’d grab the milkhouse hose and soak every person who dared to walk by me. We’d laugh hysterically, and it would soon turn into a battle when someone grabbed the pressure hose from the parlor.

And I can’t forget those frosty mornings we had through the winter, where we all gathered around the heater. Just trying to get our hands warm enough to milk the next row of cows. And when we were done, we chased each other down with snowballs and built a horrible-looking snowman.

Those nights where we didn’t make it home until past our bedtime and sat down for supper still covered in the day’s dirt. None of us ever said much, but eventually I’d crack a joke and we’d all bust out laughing (probably delusional from exhaustion). And sure enough, just a few hours later, we’d be back up doing it all over again in the morning.

I remember the first time we brought my niece out to the farm – seeing her eyes light up as a calf licked her face, watching her chase the chickens up and down the driveway and listening to her cry when we had to go home for the night. It was magical for me. I was so happy she loved it as much as I do.

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There are so many memories I have growing up on the farm. Memories I want to share with my own family one day. I want my kids to grow up the way I did – making the most out of a dirty job, learning life lessons while doing it and surrounded by a family who loves what they do and loves each other. That’s why I keep going. Even when it’s hard. Even when the future is unsure, I’ll keep holding on for as long as I can.  end mark

Kelli Woodring
  • Kelli Woodring

  • Dairy Producer
  • Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
  • Email Kelli Woodring

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