I was lucky enough to catch some attention with a post that I wrote that tried to simply answer, “What makes farming worth the heartache?”
While I expanded on idyllic images, (which happen to be my reality), I wrote it in response to many other’s lamentation about the hard times and sadness that often comes along with farming (which is also my reality). Farming must be closely related to Mother Nature – who not once, among the many things she has been called, was ever referred to as “fair.”
There’s not much that is more rewarding than nursing a sick cow or calf back to health; and then to have her live a long, healthy and productive life. But just as easily if not more so, that same animal could be gone in a literal heartbeat.
It certainly makes one appreciate life, and the things in it, that much more.
At the end of the day, this way of life, this collection of extreme ups and extreme downs and whatever comes in between is all done in the name of producing of food. Food that is served at the dinner table or grabbed in a rush. Food that is baked or cooked in your kitchen for those closest to you with love. Food that nourishes our bodies so that we may carry out our string of daily tasks that make up our lives.
“My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.” –Brenda schoepp
We as dairy farmers take particular pride in producing what’s been described as “nature’s most perfect food.” Milk provides protein, calcium and nine essential vitamins and nutrients in a single serving; ounce for ounce it’s nutrition cannot be matched. So there’s a bit of pride and even more reward had in providing such nourishment for our neighbors, communities and family.
Of course other goodness in dairy products include cheese, yogurt, ice cream, cream, butter, and more.
But our beloved milk has come under attack. Fewer and fewer people are drinking it; fluid milk sales have been trending downward for the past several years. Milk has more competition now from plant-based beverages that have the same look and feel (but not the same nutrition). Various label claims create confusion about everything from hormones, antibiotics, animal care to the environment. All in the name of selling.
The worst part is talking about these issues with dairy farmers who aren’t active on social media and/or who don’t see these claims every day.
The best part is knowing that despite the spin, despite the claims, despite the advertising, there are millions of people – children and adults alike, who depend upon us everyday – even three times a day – for our milk. And we won’t let them down.
At the end of the day, milk is milk, still the nutrient powerhouse and wholesome glass of refreshment produced by farmers who care about taking care or their cows and keeping their farms sustainable for future generations.