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Sharing favorite dairy Christmas memories

PD Editor Emily Caldwell Published on 20 December 2010

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We asked some of our Proud to Dairy bloggers to provide their favorite dairy-related Christmas memories. We featured a few of these in Issue 18 of Progressive Dairyman, including responses from Katie Dotterer-Pyle, Barbara Martin and Ashley Sears.

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Click on the image associated with each memory to see the contributor's Proud to Dairy profile.

What's your favorite dairy-related Christmas memory?

ASHLEY SEARS
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Although not specifically on Christmas, my birthday is the day after, and I remember receiving my first Guernsey cow when I was four. My parents had tied a red ribbon around her neck and woke me up in the morning to go see my present in the barn.

Her name was Prudence, and she became one of the foundations for my Guernsey herd. I was so excited to have a cow to call my own, and spent the day in the barn with her and my family.

—Ashley Sears, a dairy student at Cornell University, New York

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CLAY WALKER

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I absolutely love Christmas, but now that I am the sole employee of my own dairy, and I live four hours away from my family in Stephenville Texas, it can be rather difficult to see everyone, every year. Last year was without a doubt my favorite Christmas of all time.

My wife was down in Houston visiting friends, and she was going to stop in Stephenville on her way home on Christmas Eve, and we would have Christmas at my mom's house then. My plans were to milk early that morning, drive four hours and meet them there, have dinner with the family, drive four hours back home and milk late that night.

Little did I know my plans were about to change! When I showed up at the dairy barn the night before, my step dad's truck was parked in front my barn. He had driven all the way up here to help me milk that night and the next morning so that he could give me a ride to Stephenville for Christmas, and I could drive back home with Jocelyn and Mason. I couldn't have asked for a better Christmas gift than that! What a super family I've got! Merry Christmas everyone, and God Bless!

—Clay Walker, dairy producer, Oklahoma


BARBARA MARTIN

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My memory of Christmas morning is the same as my children — waking up early and waiting to open up presents AFTER all the chores were done. It was always the longest morning of chores ever!

I have attached the tackiest Christmas card pic we have ever taken. What was I thinking? LOL
[Photo at top right]

—Barbara Martin, dairy producer, California

KATIE DOTTERER PYLE
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I can't remember the last Christmas I didn't have to work. And to tell you the truth, I never minded it, especially because I knew ouranimals depended on us and they never know it's a holiday!As we got older, my younger brother and sister and I would let Mom and Dad sleep in on Christmas morningwhile we got the chores done. (This also gave them time to break out the presents!)

Lori and I would feed all the calves and Doug would feed cows. We grew up on a 700 cow dairy so it was no small task. We would work together to get the jobs done. If Doug had time between loads, he'd help us finish feeding, and if Lori and I got done before him, we'd help him out by scraping up refusals, etc. We couldn't wait to get home with the anticipation of opening each other's gifts, but the older we got, we had more anticipation for Mom's french toast breakfastthan we had for presents.

One Christmas, Dad told us there was another present we hadn't opened yet. We looked all through the house, out on the porch but found nothing — much to my father's amusement. He gave us a clue that led us to the top of the hill where we raise heifers. Bundled up in our coveralls, we soon discovered the gift that didn't fit under the tree....a Terra Tiger 6 wheeler!!! Dad fired it up and soon all of us kids were taking turns ripping through the fresh fallen snow on the seeminglynever ending field next toour house.

Dad then got the bright idea to cut the bottom off of a post-dip tote — a big square "sled" we hooked up the machine, and Dad whipped us aroundfields for hours! The only down side? Ground hog holes where thesnow wasn't as deep.We were a little sore after the excursion but wewouldn't have traded it for anything!Sometimes its thelittle things that make getting up so early worth it!

—Katie Dotterer Pyle, dairy producer, Pennsylvania

SARAH CALDWELL
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I have two favorites. When we were very young, my two older brothers, older sister and I would wake up much earlier than needed on Christmas morning, in anticipation of what Santa had brought us. My brothers were charged with entertaining my sister and I until our parents got the work done, because we were not allowed downstairs where the presents were until our parents came back to the house. The activity I remember most from those early Christmas mornings was singing Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus with my brothers and sister.

One Christmas, my parents created a riddle for our big present that year. The only part of the riddle I remember is "it's as big as a boat and lives in the barn." We all ran out to the barn to find our brand new trampoline! We spent most of Christmas Day out in the barn with our new present.

Another favorite memory happened a few weeks before Christmas one year. I was getting ready for my high school Christmas dance. Before I headed out the door with my date, my dad came into the house. He told me I was the luckiest girl he'd ever met. That afternoon my cow, Carly, had blessed me with not one, but two new Christmas presents — a pair of heifer calves.

—Sarah Caldwell, a dairy student at Penn State University, Pennsylvania

122010_wreath_devaneyKIMMI DEVANEY
Whenever I think of my favorite holiday memories, the obvious choices of good times shared with friends and family always come to mind, but the one that stands out was the night that essentially made me who I am today.

My brother was interested in joining Enumclaw’s Chinook 4-H club in fall 2000 so we went to their Christmas party. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about joining 4-H and only went because my mom made me go. I also didn’t know that it would be a major turning point in my life. At the celebration, I met Sarah who is still one of my friends today. She was also just joining the club and eventually persuaded me to as well. The Chinook 4-H club is more like a family than a club and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. Joining 4-H was the best decision I have ever made.

How could 4-H have that much of an impact on me? I used to be very shy, but the annual demonstrations forced me to overcome that. It was a huge honor when I was asked to speak on behalf of the American Dairy Science Association at the National 4-H Dairy Conference as the national president last year. Before, I wouldn’t get up in front of three people and speak, but this past year I spoke to hundreds and it didn’t even phase me. 4-H gave me the confidence I needed to succeed and gave me a love of showing dairy cattle. You can’t forget all of the amazing people I met along the way. People who are still to this day some of my best friends. Nothing beats hanging out in the barn at the state fair!

It is because of 4-H that I became a Dairy Princess, studied dairy in college and became so involved in dairy activities. It’s amazing what a program can do and how a decision that seemed so small at the time can have such an impact. Thanks to all of my 4-H leaders—you did make a difference!

Wishing you and yours a very happy and safe holiday season!

—Kimmi Devaney, a recent dairy graduate of Washington State University, Washington

LEWIS FUHRMANN
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I remember my first Christmas on the farm. It was about 1938 or 39 electric was just installed that summer. Being a city boy, I didn't know much about farming but I knew Christmas wasn't going to be much that year. We weren't going to have a tree or anything.

Christmas came and, to my surprise, so did a little tree with lights and everthing. Grandpa — I was later told — said, "That little boy just has to have a tree."

He also gave me a mouth organ, which I have to this day but I never learned to play. You know what the other presents were — CLOTHES — and to a little boy, that did make sense. Yet to me that was the best Christmas I can remember.

—Lewis Fuhrmann, dairy producer, Wisconsin

(Credit for photo: http://www.shorpy.com/node/2119)

What's your favorite dairy-related Christmas memory? Post a comment below, or log onto www.proudtodairy.com to tell us about it! PD

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