July 5 2017 09:20 AM

We may be covered in manure, sweaty or freezing, and really annoyed at each other, but we’re together.

The age-old joke surrounding holidays is that they’re filled with stress from old family squabbles and new family drama. Is that true? Are most people’s holidays filled with dread and anxiety? I refuse to believe it.

Until about 10 years ago, I hated holidays. As dairy farmers, we worked every one of them. And it’s not just that we worked the holiday, we’d give our hired help the day (or days) off to spend with their family, and so we did extra work on holidays. As a farm kid who was slightly bitter about the fact that she had to do actual chores while her friends did things like ‘take the garbage out’ or ‘sweep the floor,’ I dreaded holidays.

We’d be in the barn later than usual, rush to get showered and cleaned up, enjoy an hour (two, if we were lucky) of family, then head home to change back into barn clothes to do it all over again. How is that a holiday? Why did all my friends get to spend the day lounging about with their families while I did more work?

It wasn’t until college that I saw the beauty in it. Every holiday, every single one, I spend with my family. We may be covered in manure, sweaty or freezing, and really annoyed at each other, but we’re together. How many families can say that? How many can say they spend every holiday together? In a world where people are moving across the country from where they grew up and families are eating meals around the TV instead of the table, how cool is it to be a farmily (farm + family)?

As we grew older, our holiday traditions evolved with us. Now, I look forward to the quiet serenity that is a holiday. No salesmen stop by, there’s no business to conduct, and unless there’s corn to plant or hay to make, there’s just the daily chores to complete. The day is just us, doing whatever we want or need to do. Most of our holidays now revolve around us. As the last farmily in the extended family, our relatives have become pretty good about coming to us; some Thanksgiving’s we don’t even change out of our barn clothes.

The spirit of farmer holidays has become my favorite thing about dairy farming. My ‘why’ is simple, I farm because of my family. And my family is pretty awesome.

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.

Michael Overton, D.V.M.

Upcoming webinar:
Join us for “Opportunities and challenges in dairy replacement heifer raising” as Elanco’s Michael Overton, D.V.M., presents on Monday, July 10, at noon (Central time). Heifers are the future for dairies. With careful young stock management comes the opportunity to capture the investment made in genetic progress. However, there are also significant challenges that must be addressed to fully realize this potential.