Feb. 15 2024 10:51 AM

    Adjusting to parenthood for us means incorporating our daughter into everyday farm life, and although it’s not always easy, we are loving it.

    It’s fitting that I wrote this blog on Valentine’s Day because talking about our sweet little farm girl, who is quickly approaching 6 months old, fills me to the brim with love and adoration. As full-time dairy farmers with our first baby, my husband and I have been working through the balancing act of keeping up with our daily farm chores, social obligations, and household work while towing along our baby the majority of the time.

    We’re fortunate my mom lives on the main farm and is willing to watch our daughter during the days as needed, and we can also call on my in-laws for weekend or occasional weekday childcare. While we know our parents appreciate the time with their granddaughter, we also struggle to be without her for long because we simply miss her, so she ends up coming along with us during chores a good deal of the time. The main exceptions to this are when the weather or the task at hand are too dangerous to expose such a little human to — whether that be bitter-cold wind chills, fast-paced machinery, or unpredictable livestock.

    On the average day, though, our little chore buddy joins us for a lot of the farm work. She rides along in the car seat, stroller, or the carrier while we mix feed for the cattle, scrape manure from pens, or bed a group of calves. She has become infatuated by our youngest calves and the farm cats that she sees daily while we feed calf bottles — oftentimes chattering excitedly in baby talk to the calves as we walk back and forth to the milk room. Like any true farm kid, our daughter has taken many naps throughout chore time, usually being lulled to sleep by the rhythmic pulsing of the milkers as we wear her in a harness carrier.

    I fully admit that every task done with her strapped to me is a lot more difficult physically and tends to take longer — not to mention the added pressure to time her feedings, naps, and diaper changes perfectly. But it’s beyond worth it to get to spend that extra time with her every day and expose her to the abundant life lessons that can be found on a dairy farm.

    Learning how to farm and maintain our household with a baby will continue to be a learning process for us as she develops rapidly, and we accept that what works today probably won’t work tomorrow. Regardless, we are taking this new journey as a family of three in stride and learning as we go — the story of every parent’s life.

    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.