May 1 2024 09:57 AM

Sharing what we’re dealing with can help others help us.

Jess Peters

Dairy farmers have to be some of the best problem solvers alive. I genuinely believe that. But I also believe that sometimes, in some situations, we get so stuck in our ways that we can’t see the simple solution that’s right in front of our faces. How’s the saying go? “The worst sentence in the English language is ‘That’s how we’ve always done it.’”

Have you ever met that person whose life, according to them, is always great? Their cows are always milking better than ever, their crops are growing taller than ever, and they never seem to have problems worth complaining about. I call bull! First of all, if they’re a farmer, there’s always something to complain about. Secondly, if they have animals, problems are inevitable. Biology isn’t perfect and it’s even less predictable, but I digress. My point is that those people still have struggles; they just don’t talk about them. And I get it. Maybe they’re super private and prefer to struggle silently. That’s okay if that works for you, but I’m a firm believer in talking about your problems.

I’m not telling you to jump on Instagram and broadcast all your personal business. I’m simply saying that sometimes talking about your struggles out loud can lead to solutions you hadn’t considered before.

For example, on our dairy, I am not the crop or equipment person. We always joke that I can drive the tractors, but my brother Cole fixes them, and he can milk the cows, but I fix them. It’s pretty true. So, I’m rarely consulted on equipment or field decisions, but I’m often in the vicinity for those conversations. A month ago, when they were discussing some fencing that needed to be replaced, I suggested they turn that smaller cow pasture into a heifer pasture then convert one of our larger heifer pastures into a field. Having recently lost some rented ground, it turns out this wasn’t the worst idea. Being so close to the problem, it was harder for them to see all the options.

As someone who often overshares, I understand there’s a limit to what you should share and maybe who you share it with. But whether it’s a farm problem, a family problem, or a personal problem, you’ll never convince me that keeping it bottled up is the way to get it solved.

Jessica Peters

The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.