Brenda Rudolph / Special to Agweek
When Nathan and I started dairy farming together, we didn't fit in a box that the dairy industry expected. We dairy farmed the way that worked for us and our family. We put our family first and the farm second. We were happy. We were happy seeing progress on our own farm. Small milestones were celebrated. We were happy. We practiced what affected the farm and affected the family, and what affected the family affected the farm. They were one and the same.
I talk to my two children Everett, 9, and Vivian, 3, about food a lot. I talk to them in the kitchen, and I talk to them in the store. We talk about where foods are grown and what foods are in season for Minnesota. We talk about farmers who grow the foods on our kitchen table.
The air is crisp, and there is a chill. The sun has not wanted to shine for over a week in central Minnesota. Foul moods are starting to shine through the gloominess of dreary days. We have stopped looking for the sun. Leaves are turning into their deep rich colors of yellow and reds. Fall is here.
When we think about the movers and shakers of the dairy industry we right away think of, "Who is cutting edge? Who has the best production? Who has the newest equipment? Who is putting in the latest and greatest robots?"
As Everett was deciding which of his seven 4-H non-livestock projects to enter at the Morrison County Fair, he knew a monarch caterpillar habitat was at the top of his list. I love monarch caterpillars and that love has filtered down to my children, especially Everett.
As my head lay on my pillow the night of Aug. 1, 2018, I began to think of how different it was the same night 14 years ago. Fourteen years ago sleep evaded me. With each time I would wake up, I would say to myself, "Is this really happening?" In my childhood home, I tried to sleep on one end of the couch and Nathan, my fiancé at the time slept on the other end. In the early morning, my dad had passed away from a massive heart attack. He was 55. My world was numb.
Everett has been busy working on his non-livestock and livestock projects for the county fair next week. Added to the mix this year is a pig. Taking animals to the fair is a lot of hard physical work and a lot of going back and forth. Doing chores at home and chores at the fair. Late nights and way too early mornings.
When Nathan and I purchased the farm from his parents in 2011, I worked off the farm full-time. Our goal was always for me to be on the farm full-time, and in 2014, we were able to do that.
This past winter, our hearts were broken when Everett's beloved cow 304 passed away. It was difficult to say goodbye to her. Everett was only 3 years old when he walked 304 as a winter calf into the ring for the very first time. 304 taught Everett more than I could have ever imagined.
In central Minnesota, there is a small community nestled in the heart of the state that explodes with excitement the first Sunday in July every year. The tiny town of Bowlus is the poster child of how a community comes together to support its own.