A couple months ago, my husband’s grandmother passed away and joined her husband in heaven. While many tears were shed, the stories of the impact she’d had on those around her were immense. At face value, one might look at her life and say she was merely a housewife. However, in her 94 years she loved on not only her four children, 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, but also neighbors, friends and any friend her children or grandchildren brought to her home. She was a mentor to many, and the stories of her words of wisdom and quiet acts of love were numerous.

As I sat at her funeral listening to this, it made me think about my own impact. Like her, so many of my day-to-day decisions and actions may seem small, but how much of a difference could they have in a year? Five years? Ten? Or 50? My children are young, so right now it might be a simple game of Hi Ho! Cherry-O and sharing about our day, but maybe it’ll be the start of my son or daughter’s love for math.

The reality is, today’s decisions not only affect us in the here and now, but they can have lasting effects that show up decades from now. As we go through our day to day, what are steps we can take now to build a legacy? For my husband’s grandparents, those steps were making smart investments, making education a priority and taking time to set their kids up for success. On a dairy, this might look like renovating or building a barn, diversifying the operation, embracing a new technology or refining protocols. One area that might be worth formally establishing or updating is the dairy’s information technology (IT) department. In her article “What does IT look like on your dairy?”, Matti McBride discusses why having an IT department on a dairy is essential regardless of the operation’s size. Computers and software are key in data collection, which is crucial for both short and long-term planning.

On another note, biosecurity might be the to-do list item that hasn’t been addressed at all or hasn’t been updated recently. If so, check out Emily Barge’s article, “Don’t wait to prioritize biosecurity: How dairy producers and service providers can work together” to both preserve and protect the current farm, as well as set a precedent to safeguard it for future generations.

And most importantly, know that even when someone plans perfectly, runs an excellent dairy and has, by all accounts, set the farm up for success, family dynamics cannot be overlooked. For example, Andy Junkin discusses a farm he worked with where the family did not welcome a new family member, jeopardizing their farm’s future.


If tackling a bigger project isn’t needed or able to be put on the agenda in 2024, look for a smaller one that could be. Perhaps adding in a monthly family pizza night is in the time budget this year and a good habit to build now before the new boyfriend or girlfriend officially joins the family or as kids come and go due to school or internships.

Right now, sports and after-school activities haven’t yet encroached on our family dinners. However, we could definitely benefit from adding a family game night to our routine and hopefully make that a fun habit now while they’re young. Whether it’s a game night or another activity, it's important to be intentional with the people we care about. After all, a legacy must be built one moment, one action, one word at a time.