Dairy farming is not merely a profession – it is a way of life. From dawn till dusk, farm families invest their time, energy and unwavering commitment to ensure the well-being of their cows and to produce high-quality milk. The family unit becomes the cornerstone of dairy farming contributing to the resilience and sustainability of the operation.
Dairy farming is also a complex and demanding endeavor, requiring a multifaceted approach that goes beyond just milking cows and harvesting feed. Much like the proverbial saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” it takes a village to run a dairy farm. This interconnected village is crucial to the success of dairy operations.
At the heart of a dairy farm is a family working together through the early morning milking routines, the late-night calvings and the daily chores. Each member plays a unique role that contributes to the overall success of the operation. The relationship between these family members creates a sense of shared purpose and commitment.
Furthermore, emotional support from family members is vital for the mental well-being of dairy producers. The shared highs of successful calvings to the lows of challenging weather conditions are navigated together as a family, creating a support system that helps alleviate the stress of dairying. The understanding and encouragement within a family provide the emotional fortitude needed to persevere through the demanding seasons.
Nevertheless, the village supporting a dairy farm extends far beyond just family members. Dedicated employees work side by side with family members to milk cows, feed calves, haul manure and harvest hay. Veterinarians and nutritionists also play integral roles in the productivity and health of the dairy herd. These professionals contribute their expertise by offering insights into proper nutrition, disease prevention and breeding practices.
Additionally, the support of hometown communities and neighbors are invaluable. In the form of local businesses such as feed suppliers or equipment dealers, these businesses provide the necessary resources, tools and services that keep farms running smoothly.
Read all about how the Boertje family in Visalia, California, came together to support each other and the family dairy while brother and son Eddy Boertje battled cancer.
“When Eddy was sick, we said, ‘We're going to make sure this dairy does not miss a beat while he's gone. We don't want him to be worried about what's happening over here. We just want him to get better,’” Eddy’s father, Ed, said. “So, everybody really stepped it up.”
Being raised on the dairy alongside Eddy allowed brothers Steven and Ryan to step in and help out wherever needed on the farm.
The Boertje Farms feature article exemplifies this unity, demonstrating how in times of adversity the “village” rallies to ensure the stability of the farm.