As dairy farmers, our life is lead wide open each and every day. We try to squeeze 25 hours out of a 24-hour day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. If we aren’t milking cows, we are cleaning barns, breeding cattle, tending to newborns, cleaning pens, tending to crops, and so much more. Don’t get me wrong, we love what we do and work just as hard as any other agricultural venture, but sometimes we forget to take a step back and look at all we’ve accomplished, replenished, and rebuilt over the years.
Every day on our farm, we feed the yearlings and check to ensure they are healthy, but we usually head on out not long after to tend to the never-ending list of chores that need to be done. Some days the list drags on, and other days it seems like there is no starting point or ending in sight. It’s human nature to keep going and striving to meet every goal and opportunity the day brings. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to remember what you have accomplished due to the never-ending list of what you haven’t.
Yearlings are a great reminder of what we have done. They are the direct result of strategic breeding to better the overall health of our herd. At a year old, we can start to really see the confirmation changes that are resulting from our selective breeding as well as overall structure. We’ve managed to keep them alive and healthy through birth and the awkward transition from milk to milk replacer and from milk replacer to grain. These girls are the cream of the crop with so much promise ahead of them. Their tags indicate their proud mothers that have done you well. These are the ones that can show you how well you have done and give you hope for a better tomorrow.
It sounds silly and a little childish to think that watching your yearlings can make you feel like a weight has been lifted off your back, but it can. Watching the past, present, and future unfold before your eyes is an amazing occurrence that most folks will never understand. As farmers, we work to ensure the health and comfort of our animals are upheld at all times, and seeing the product of our labor is almost like magic. So, every now and then when it feels like your world is out of control, take a look at the yearling herd. They are your future and the direct result of the past. Smile and feel proud for all you’ve done, and remember that it’s okay to get caught up in life, but with these girls, you’ve accomplished more than you’ll ever realize. Stay safe y’all.
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.