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Walking together in perseverance at Daisy Lane Dairy

Jordan Manning for Progressive Dairy Published on 14 September 2021
Daisy lane Dairy Family

Dennis Koolstra’s father instilled in him at an early age that hard things are just part of life. But he stressed that enjoying what you do and the people you do it with are what keep us going.

This mindset has since been carried on as a sort of mantra for Daisy Lane Dairy, allowing the Koolstras to overcome hard times by standing together with both family and those who have become like family.

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Dennis and his wife, Jennifer, own and operate Daisy Lane Dairy in Cope, Colorado, following the legacy passed on to them by Dennis’ parents, Wilbert and Marie Koolstra. Wilbert developed a love for agriculture from the time he could follow his own father out in the fields, and always knew he wanted to be a farmer. This dream became reality when Wilbert took on work as a relief milker and was given one Holstein cow as payment.

The Koolstras continued growing the operation, starting with Wilbert converting an old chicken coop into a double-four herringbone parlor, and added more cows and land as the years went on. When it came time for Dennis to attend college, he started taking classes at Colorado State University – but was confronted with a tough decision his junior year when Wilbert developed a blinding eye disease. Dennis chose the opportunity to return to the farm and carry on the family business.

“We milk cows, but family is such a big part of running any farm,” says Dennis.

Call it fate, but not long after returning to the dairy Dennis’ parents came up with a plan for him to meet a girl from their church. An Oklahoma native with no ties to agriculture, Jennifer had plans to attend college back in her home state but says after meeting Dennis, the rest is history.

“Our first few dates were on the dairy feeding calves,” she says. “I definitely got introduced to agriculture pretty darn quick but have loved the dairy life from the beginning and could see it was an awesome place to raise a family.”

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The couple now has three kids, Isaiah, Micah and Samuel, who—like most farm kids—have learned the importance of hard work and caring for animals. The family has taken the good times with the bad by standing together with their team of people.

“At times, we’ve faced things that have made us wonder what tomorrow will bring,” says Jennifer. “It’s taught me and the kids what Dennis learned at the beginning, which is ‘Don’t give up and stick with it.’ That is something I’m proud our children have seen.”

Cows at the bunk

Like many dairies, Daisy Lane sits in a rural area where a large percentage of students at the local school have parents employed on the dairy. The Koolstras have helped fill the gap for their employees and community by giving kids rides to school in the mornings or sports practice in the afternoons. Over the years, Dennis and Jennifer have coached kids’ teams, and Jennifer can sometimes be found walking on nearby dirt roads enjoying exercise with a group of women she works with.

“There aren’t many resources where we live, so we pull together and do what we can,” she said.

Ten years ago, Dennis and Jennifer were confronted with opportunity to pull their community together even more when their barn manager lost his wife and son in a devastating accident, leaving him with his four surviving children (Marco, Arturo, Jorge and Lizbeth) to care for. The Koolstras knew it would be an undertaking for the father to work full time while carrying this huge loss, but knew he wanted to continue raising his children.

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“From the beginning, I told him Dennis and I were committed and would do everything in our power to make sure he had help and support,” says Jennifer.

From then on, the Koolstra family has grown close to the Ramoses, with each other’s children becoming like brothers and sisters over the years. One of Jennifer’s biggest rewards has been seeing all of them thrive and grow into such hardworking young adults – from going off to college and getting their first jobs to still celebrating birthdays all together as one big family. And she hopes they always know some of their biggest fans will always be back in their hometown.

When Jennifer talks about the perseverance required to walk alongside the Ramos family in their tragedy, she goes back to Dennis’ father, Wilbert (who passed away in May of 2021), and mother, Marie, who paved the way by running the dairy with grit and a lot of love.

“We’ve often been reminded that life is uncertain, so you have to enjoy what you do,” she says. “Every day it takes such a team effort to support one another.”

And for Dennis, it has been easy getting through what life has thrown their way by doing what he loves and working closely with the ones he loves most. When people ask him how he can work so closely with his wife, he responds that he truly just loves being around Jennifer and credits his parents for setting the stage for working as a team.

“You can get through a lot if you love what you do and the people you’re with,” says Dennis. “The hard things are just part of it. You just have to get those done quickly so you can move on to what you love to do.”

Because of this commitment to their family and people around them, the Koolstras aren’t just building a dairy legacy – but a legacy grounded in picking each other up and holding onto your passion, no matter what life throws at you. end mark

PHOTO 1: Front row: Jorge Ramos, Marie and Wilbert Koolstra, Isaiah Koolstra, Samuel Koolstra | Back Row: Lizbeth Ramos, Micah Koolstra, Marco Ramos, Jennifer Koolstra, Dennis Koolstra, Arturo Ramos. 

PHOTO 2: Cattle at the feedbunk. Courtesy photos.

This article is brought to you courtesy of Dairy MAX.

Jordan Manning is a manager, Farmer Communications at Dairy MAX. Email Jordan Manning.

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