May 9 2019 08:00 AM

Being a dairy farm mom is challenging and rewarding.

Raising kids can seem like a thankless job. The rewards come in pint sizes moments that fill my heart with gratitude.

Many of my days are similar to most of yours. I juggle things on the home front while helping out where needed in the barn. It's a mixture of cooking, farm bookwork, vaccinating cattle, taking kids to lessons, and so much more. The days are long; the job is tough. Truth be told, it's a job I wouldn't trade for the world.

Every day, but especially on those hard days, my inspiration comes easily from my late mother. The life I live, mimics in many ways the lifestyle that my mother once effortlessly portrayed. My mom set the bar high — always making the work, inside the house and out in the barn, look easy. She was my sounding board, my confidante, my cheerleader, and my friend. I'm so incredibly thankful for her.

My mom was raised with a much different lifestyle than the one she grew accustomed to and the only life I’ve known. She was a military brat, an Admiral’s daughter and didn’t want for much in life. Her life changed in spades when she married my father and became a farmer’s wife — a life in retrospect, she too, wouldn’t have changed for anything.

I’m thankful that I have a role model that taught me how to be tough and deal with life’s difficulties, and unexpected twists and turns. When I think of how challenging it is to raise three children with a husband who clocks in more hours than I dare to report, I think of my own mother — and often question how she did it with six children.

My late mother feeding a group of sheep in-between helping with cattle work and raising kids.

My mom raised all six of us during the 1980's recession. While money was hard to come by, love was not. She made birthdays and holidays extra special with her homemade touches. She stayed up late helping with homework and attended all our school functions. She was our 4-H leader and was our primary calf feeder. She knew all our classmates and teachers, and they knew her. She was generous and loving in so many ways.

I often think of my mother, especially on Mother's Day. There is no pampering for this farm mom, but I'm okay with that. The guys are busy outside, hoping field work will begin sooner rather than later, and I'm busy in the kitchen. When life seems to get overwhelmingly busy, like it is right now, I say a little prayer to my late mom, and somehow, through the grace of God, she reminds me that I'm doing a thankless job, but the reward is the immeasurable daily satisfaction that comes in pint sizes and make my heart burst.

So, do me a favor. Those of you that still can, call you mom and tell her how much she means to you. This post is dedicated to my late mother. She is loved to Heaven and back, always, but especially today.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Karen Bohnert

Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.

Join us on May 13 for our upcoming webinar "Focusing on fresh cow strategies" presented by Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois. Sponsored by Zinpro Performance Minerals.

The webinar will feature nutrient transitioning between close-up, fresh cow, and high-producing cow rations. Considerations include fresh cow pen duration, small herd strategies, and fresh cow comfort. Amino acid supplementation, fatty acid additions, and metabolic disorders will be covered.