I grew up in a house that was busy. That’s just the nature of dairy farming. It’s a ‘round the clock effort to milk, feed, clean the barns, and do all the other chores that never are truly done. My parents also supported us kids doing activities off the farm — sports and extra curriculars were on the calendar most afternoons. On the weekends we were doing chores before and after time at the ball fields. As kids we still had down time, but it wasn’t exactly stillness: playing outside with the neighbors, riding our bikes, or, even when we were sitting, our feet were still kicking us back and forth on the swing. There was always activity; we were always doing something.
It was not until I went home with a friend in college that I realized my experiences were not ubiquitous. It was a Saturday morning and her parents were both home making breakfast and drinking coffee when they asked, “What should we all do today?” I was so stunned that wide open weekends were normal for some folks; both of her parents were home and available all day! Farming on a Tuesday was no different than farming on a Saturday for us. To make it twenty-something years without realizing until that day that weekends mean slowing down for some is a bit embarrassing, but it was a vivid moment of enlightenment for me. Even our family vacations were spent at cattle conventions!
To this day, I cannot sit still. Having young children is a big part of that, but even when they’re napping, I am too consumed by things I want or need to get done. Television and movies just don’t interest me. I like a good book, but audio tends to be my favored format so that I can keep moving. It may sound exhausting to some, but for me it is simply how I am wired. I slow down; I just don’t sit down. I guess that’s why there are sayings about how you can take the farmer off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the farmer.
Erin Massey is the product development manager at Prairie Farms, a farmer-owned cooperative based in Edwardsville, Illinois. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the development process, from concept to commercialization. Erin grew up on a Florida dairy farm and has a deep-rooted passion to invigorate the dairy industry. Erin earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of South Florida. Her personal mantra is "Be Bold."