A big part of my husband’s and my decision to come back to the farm was based on the way we wanted to raise our family. There really is no comparison to the values and lessons that this way of life teaches. Add on to that the benefits of the opportunity to see the tradition continue for another generation.
But at what point does that nostalgia and those benefits no longer stack up to the struggles that this life also brings. As we just recently added a third son to our family, watching my older boys and enjoying my newborn has me questioning their future. That’s especially true in this difficult season for the industry. Can the lifestyle we wanted so badly for our family really be the future we desire for our children?
While my boys are still young, we do try to be honest with them to a degree they can understand about the challenges we are facing, especially as it has changed our family dynamic with my husband having to take a job off the farm. It’s in the same way that we are honest about the tough decisions we have to make in farm management sometimes. I think that honesty in both areas is important for our kids to understand for later on down the road when they may want to consider farming.
I also think it is important to encourage and not pressure the next generation by supporting their interests on and off the farm. This life provides so many advantages that make for well-rounded adults suitable for any career. When that career can also be their passion is when our job as parents is truly fulfilled.
I wish the future for the next generation could be more certain. I wish that they could choose to dairy farm without the reservations that my heart has been feeling. But more then anything, my wish for the next generation is that they find happiness in whatever path they choose.
The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of three young boys who round out the family-run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and transitioned to a robotic milking system in 2017.