Meet my toddler niece, Everly. Her 2-year-old self has grown up spending countless hours out and about at our family dairy farm. When you’re that little, you tend to get passed around a lot, accompanying different members of my family throughout the day. So, instead of solely doing field work, feeding the calves, mixing feed, watching for heats, milking in the parlor, or doing chores in our robotic milking barn, she gets to do it all. I honestly think she might know the most about every part of our farm for this reason.
No matter what’s on her chore list for the day, this little girl is ready to go. She rushes to get her boots on at any mention of going outside and usually totes a cup, bottle, snack, and several baby dolls along with her.
Beyond her in-depth knowledge of our setup, milking, and cleanup procedures in the milking parlor, she can be found helping with a plethora of other tasks around the farm. Most mornings, she’ll help my dad fill and dump feed pails for our younger calves. Mixing feed, riding along to haul manure, packing silage, tagging along on combine rides, and covering the silage piles are all common activities for this adorable, curly haired 2-year-old.
Everly also spends a lot of mornings and evenings with my mom and I in our calf building. She knows how to mix up milk, warm up bottles, put bottle nipples on, and wash the bottles when we feed the newest calves — often trying to hold the bottles and giving the “new babies” affectionate pats on the head. She is also no stranger to our automatic calf feeder — helping switch calves to drink, watching when we need to add milk replacer to the hopper, carrying the ear tagger when we train new calves, and so on.When we work on chores in our robotic milking barn, she’s right there with us. She grabs a pencil and paper to scribble her own list as we look up fetch cows on the computer. We carry her a lot of times while going to rake stalls and catch needed cows, and she watches to make sure the robots all have cows visiting them. As we get fetch cows through the robots, she loves to open each robot door to feel the warmth of milk in the milk jar, and she likes to help clean the laser screen and clear bleed (air) holes when we do daily cleaning and maintenance.
This little girl may be on her way to becoming a dairy farmer. She and her older brothers bring so much joy to our days on the farm. Having the next generation involved and excited about what we do each day makes the dull, repetitive tasks much more fun and entertaining. We are so happy to have Everly as our helper and constant supervisor!
The author dairy farms with her parents and brother near Hawkeye, Iowa. The family milks approximately 300 head of grade Holstein cows at Windsor Valley Dairy LLC — split half and half between a double-eight parallel milking parlor and four robotic milking units. In the spring of 2020, Molly decided to take a leap and fully embrace her love for the industry by returning full time to her family’s dairy.