July 10 2024 12:04 PM

The heat and humidity of this month make for long days of dairy farming.

As a dairy farmer, July is my least favorite month for a few reasons. Let’s be honest, when it comes to dairy farming, feeling overwhelmed and burnt out is a pretty common occurrence. I always tell people that dairy farming is the biggest oxymoron ever. In some ways it’s incredibly flexible, yet you’re also working all the time. I always say I love that I get to do something different every day, but at the same time, we do the same chores for hours every single day. See what I mean?

Then the Fourth of July hits and everyone goes to “the lake.” It doesn’t matter what lake; it just seems like everyone is at a lake. They’re setting off fireworks, grilling burgers, and someone is always water skiing. Everyone is posting photos of kids eating watermelon, and every middle-aged dude in the vicinity is wearing American flag-themed shorts with a can of beer in their hand. And this dairy farmer turns bitter. For some reason, it’s not having to pull double shifts every Christmas or Thanksgiving that bothers me. I don’t even mind having to milk through the Super Bowl every year. But the Fourth of July gets me every time.

Otherwise, July is just hot. In northwestern Pennsylvania, I’d argue that it’s the hottest month of the year. It’s not even the heat; 75°F would be fine if it weren’t for the 95% humidity. You’re basically just sticky for the entire month.

Do you know what actually loves July? Bacteria. Bacteria may be the only thing that likes hot, humid weather. This means that, like clockwork, we see our worst cases of mastitis every July. It hits cows hard and fast. As you read this, we’re currently treating six cows for mastitis. Six! Thankfully, though one may lose the quarter, it looks like we caught them all early and everyone is going to come through it. But we’re only halfway through the month, and past Julys have taught me to stay on my guard.

I’m sure there are plenty of good things about July. I mean, it’s National Ice Cream Month! And it’s also apparently National Picnic Month. It’s also one of my best friend’s birthday month, so I guess I can’t write it off completely. It’s just so icky.

Do you have a least favorite month? And why is it July?

Jessica Peters

The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.