Nov. 22 2023 03:35 PM

I am grateful my job on our dairy allows me to spend a lot of time with my daughter and that she will gain many valuable experiences because of this farm life.

Nora and I visiting the newborn calves when she was 1 week old.

I can’t help but “ooh” and “ahh” at our littlest farmhand these days as she turns 3 months old this week. My husband and I are extra thankful and grateful this year to celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday season with our first child, little Miss Nora Rose, who was born August 24.

As a first-time mom, I am constantly baffled at the idea of leaving my newfound reason for existing, our daughter, for any amount of time. That’s why I’m beyond grateful to be farming alongside our family. My mom is able to watch her during the days when we’re doing more dangerous equipment or cattle work, still giving us the opportunity to stop in the house and see her when we need some snuggles or when we stop for lunch.

Nora and I checking our heifer herd for signs of heat.

During regular morning and evening cattle chores, I have Nora right with me in a baby carrier. Or, she occasionally naps in the pack and play we have in our farm office. At only a few weeks old, she was out and about with me watching for heat in our heifer herd, moving cattle around, checking for sick animals, dumping feed, feeding calf bottles, and more. I’m convinced she’ll be watching for heats and catching heifers to breed in a matter of years — granted, she might have to stop napping during this time so she can take some notes and learn the ropes.

There’s no doubt everything takes a little longer when you’re toting kids around doing farm work — whether they’re in a carrier or tootling along with you trying to keep up in the toddler years — but, having them alongside you while outside with the animals is definitely worth it.

Snuggling her little cow during her newborn photo shoot.

While I already miss the newborn phase, I’m so excited to watch Nora as she starts helping out around the farm and bonding with the animals. She already has cows, horses, dogs, and cats in her sights daily, but my husband and I are itching to add a few goats, rabbits, and chickens to the farm in the coming years so she can have even more experiences nurturing animals and learning responsibility.

Molly Ihde (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.