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HERd management: What to expect when expecting: A dairywoman’s version

Ashley Messing-Kennedy Published on 06 August 2015

females on farm

My husband and I are finally expecting our first child.

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It is something that hasn’t come easy.

There were two losses, lots of doctors and lots of tears from me. But we are finally getting closer and closer by the day to having a fourth generation growing up on our family’s farm. Along with the changes that come along with having a baby, we have a lot of other decisions to make.

Obviously, my work schedule is going to change. My husband currently works on another farm, so does he come home to work with us, or do we hire someone out to replace my work? Do my parents want to become a big part of our childcare, or do we need to look outside?

When the weather becomes acceptable, is the baby going to become a regular part of my work life, thanks to strollers and baby carriers?

Raising farm kids brings out an entirely new part of child-rearing, and I think all of us know that. I also know we aren’t the only young farmers trying to figure out this new territory, so I wanted to share a few pieces of advice I have figured out so far.

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1.Don’t forget you have to do what’s best for your new family

There are a lot of players in a farm situation. Our farm family has multiple generations involved. When making decisions, we have to consider all of the parties, but we’re going to have a baby, and that new life needs to be our number one priority.

2.Don’t rush into any major decisions regarding farm management

These are huge decisions being made. They could affect how the future of your farm functions. As an ownership/management team, you need to discuss all of the possible options. Then you need to think about which one will be best for your family.

3.Changing your mind is OK

When I have the baby and get into parenting, I might realize I don’t want to work out in the barn much anymore. Being a stay-at-home mom might be it for me.

Or I might realize the opposite. I might realize I miss being out in the barn and I want to have more days on the farm. Either way, this agreement does need to be fluid to an extent.

4.They make strollers and baby carriers for a reason; use them

It doesn’t have to be a “one or the other.” I’m not sure about you, but I grew up in the barn while my parents were doing chores. I wasn’t around for everything, but during calf feeding and milking I was a regular installment.

We plan to find a used stroller to use out in the barn, and I am registered for two baby carriers – one to go out in the barn and the other to be in public.

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5.Advice from other parentsis great, but just rememberwhat works for them might not work for you

It’s just like farm management. What worked for one farm might not work for another. How you make chore time with a baby work might be totally different than how your best friend did it. There isn’t one easy way. Get creative.

I hope my advice helped some of you out there in the same situation as us. We still have a long way to go in this journey, but bringing the next generation up on the farm should be fun and filled with lots of adventures. PD

Ashley Messing-Kennedy
  • Ashley Messing-Kennedy

  • Dairy Producer
  • Bad Axe, Michigan

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