Sept. 3 2021 08:00 AM

As summer turns to fall, I am reminded of all the changes taking place on our farm and in our family.

No matter where we are on the farm, the sky’s spectacular show each morning is the ultimate backdrop for working with our cows and new calves.

While I was working on chores in our robot barn the other morning, I watched as the sun began to wake up, slowly transforming the sky from a star-speckled deep denim blue to a magnificent display of deep oranges, pinks, and purples. How can your day not start off right with such a spectacle?

I tend to be a focused worker, keeping my head down and getting the job done with little distraction. However, the quiet, early mornings on the farm often beckon me to slow down enough to take in the simplicity and beauty of my surroundings —whether it’s the crisp, dewy air, the lulling sound of cows moving about the barn, or the sunrise peaking over the surrounding cornfields.

Our eastern view from the milking parlor has double doors, perfectly framing every sunrise as the sounds of pulsators hum.
We’ve had some breathtaking sunrises lately, brimming with over-saturated color. On this particular morning, I really took in the sky’s performance. As twilight turned to dawn and I watched a new day begin, I couldn’t help but think of all the new things going on in our family’s life and on our farm. From a lot of new calves being born and construction projects underway on our dairy, to my nephews starting up another school year and the arrival of my newest nephew just days ago, I am definitely surrounded by new beginnings.

I think we tend to think of spring as the time of growth, change, and all things new, but I honestly think the schedule of our lives revolves a lot around fall — my absolute favorite season. As a learner by nature, the academic year is the primary reason I consider fall such a starting point. Plus, we always get a huge rush of calves on the farm this time of year, and it’s when we make a big transition in the field work side of the operation.

We walk through our calf barn several times throughout the early morning hours to start waking the calves up, eventually enjoying the warm sunrise glow as we feed our newborn calves their breakfast (the youngest with bottles and the older calves with an automatic calf feeder) after we’ve finished milking cows.
After the expansion of our robotic milking setup and freestall barn extension last spring, we are working on retrofitting our older freestall barn into new, larger bedding packs for our maternity and hospital pens. Moving our maternity cows to their new area came just in time for our typical rush of calves as summer turns to fall. Feeding the new calves each day is a constant reminder of the new beginnings we’re surrounded with on the farm.

My newest nephew, Logan Michael, was born on August 24. He is the sweetest of the new-season beginnings for our family.
Not only are we welcoming new life on the farm, but our family grew by one more with the addition of my newborn nephew, Logan. Holding an itty-bitty baby, weighing just 6 pounds 12 ounces, in my arms this week solidified my feeling of new beginnings.

Whether in the form of an awe-inspiring sunrise or the miracle of new life, the change in seasons is bound to include new starts. Taking just a second to appreciate those things allows us to realize the blessings and marvels around us.

Molly Schmitt

The author dairy farms with her parents and brother near Hawkeye, Iowa. The family milks approximately 300 head of grade Holstein cows at Windsor Valley Dairy LLC — split half and half between a double-eight parallel milking parlor and four robotic milking units. In the spring of 2020, Molly decided to take a leap and fully embrace her love for the industry by returning full time to her family’s dairy.