Feb. 23 2023 09:18 AM

Young farmers work hard, too.

Does it ever irk anyone else when someone says, “You’re too young to be tired”? At 26, I know I’m considered younger on the farmer scale; however, it drives me nuts when someone says that statement. I know, I know, I’m still “young” and haven’t experienced as much as some of the rest of you, but I still work hard every day. From getting up early to milk cows to spending days in the fields or assisting a cow or heifer in labor, I have seen and experienced some of the joys and discomforts of the farming world. Not all of them, I understand, but I can be tired, too.

A lady (let’s call her “Nosy Rosy”) at the doctor’s office the other day saw me yawn. I heard the cringe-worthy words, and instead of ignoring her, I said, “I apologize. I was up all night playing Fortnite, Halo, Call of Duty, and eating junk food and drinking Monster Energy Drinks. I’m here to see if my heart is still alive.” She scoffed and said, “I should have figured that.”

The nurse who later came in was a friend of mine, and the first thing she said to me, in front of Nosy Rosy, was, “Courtney! Is it calving season yet? I love the little ones!”

Nosy Rosy immediately cut eyes at the nurse and said, “What on Earth are you talking about?” I looked back and said, “Oh yeah, I’m tired from milking cows and taking care of my dairy.” I remember that encounter because usually I just smile, but this time, I wanted to get a rise out of someone.

In the grand scheme of things, we are agriculturists that work in a completely different setting with a different mindset on work ethic. Being on the dairy, you know cows don’t take holidays and neither do you. We work until we drop, and even then, we keep going. So, if I yawn and someone says, “You’re too young to be tired,” they don’t know the crazy, beautiful life I live. If I get a chance, I’ll probably tell them all about it. Or I’ll close my eyes and take a nap, whichever mood I’m in that day.

Courtney Henderson

The author is a sixth-generation farmer and fifth-generation dairy producer in southwest Virginia, where she and her family own and operate a 145-head Holstein dairy. Courtney is involved in agriculture organizations throughout her community and is a graduate of Virginia Tech.