March 17 2021 08:00 AM

After a year filled with trials and tribulations, dairy farmers remained as hardworking and resilient as ever.

It’s unconventional, to say the least. What? The picture? No . . . not that. The picture is what I call a product of desperation and a child of opportunity. This year, however, has been, at the very least, unconventional. At this point in the blog, you as a reader have two options: continue reading or escape before anyone knows you dared to click on the picture of the guy sleeping in the wheelbarrow. If you leave, I bid you farewell. If you stay, buckle up, because my mind is racing today!

Oh good! I’m glad you stayed! Let’s talk about “ruffling feathers.” You see, the term “ruffling feathers” comes from the chicken world. I love chickens, but they are peculiar animals. When agitated, they will ruffle their feathers up to make themselves look big in order to scare away their opponent. This year has ruffled up its feathers, but I, like you, have chosen to fight no matter the odds.

The dairy business is rough enough the way it is. With long hours and the mental strain that goes along with long hours, hard labor, and every other pressure, we as a dairy community are no stranger to a good fight. We have earned that grit in our teeth. Nobody can rival the determination of a dairy producer – although it has been tried.

I cringe when I hear people protesting, calling out that their entry level jobs meant for high school students are worth a minimum of $15 an hour. Meanwhile, on the other side of the street I watch a 70-year-old working on the same ranch passed down to him from generations ago, making not much more than his parents did so long ago.

The world has gone topsy-turvy, and it has taken a lot of people into a mental state that is foreign to them. I am chuckling as a write this, with my cynical sense of humor I suppose, as I recall the stories of struggles I have heard from so many dairy producers. The stories are filled with near death experiences and life altering consequences, not to mention the up all night after being up all-day scenarios that are so prevalent in our industry. I then parallel it to the “terrible” and “poor me” stories I hear on the news and start to steam.

My friends, the dairy community is full of some of the toughest, most resilient, take no bull, people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I am proud to walk with you all. If there is anyone who is going to come out of this topsy-turvy time stronger and better, it will be you.

However, if you get tired, take this advice: A large wheelbarrow is a great place for a cat nap. Just make sure you find one with two wheels, not one. I won’t make that mistake again . . .

Tyler Ribeiro

Tyler Ribeiro is a fourth-generation dairy farmer born and raised in California. He is currently partners with his father at Rib-Arrow Dairy in Tulare where they proudly ship their milk to Land O’Lakes. Tyler is actively involved in the dairy industry, holding leadership roles in various organizations locally and across the United States.