I am a thirteen year old growing up on a farm in rural Indiana.
When I was younger I never saw myself becoming a farm girl, and I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled when we started getting animals, fencing our pastures and getting up early to feed our goat kids. But since then I’ve realized that farming is something very special, the way an animal trusts and loves the farmer, and the farmer loves the animal and takes dedicated care of it. Farmers are people to depend on, people with strong values and an amazing sense of community, and I am grateful for the neighbors that are willing to bring their tractor and chains to pull your truck out of the mud. I love walking into my 4-H dairy meetings, and seeing kids just like me, people who are doing what they love and love what they’re doing. If I win Amethyst I plan to show her at our 4-H fair. I love cattle, and have been looking for a calf to show. We have a ten-acre pasture with only one cow on it who needs a friend, and I am also helping my dad fence a second pasture. I love finding ways to improve our farm! I love hearing the rooster crow in the morning, hearing my brother and sister stomp in from the barn, mud on their boots. I love how the chickens come running when I call, a bucketful of scraps in my arms. I love walking up to the pasture and sitting under a tree with our cow, reading. I love long walks in the woods with my dog, Ranger, and evenings on the porch watching the sun go down.
But most of all, I love being a farmer because that’s who I am.
I am an eight year old girl, and I live in Shoals, IN. I love collecting
eggs from our chickens, feeding and playing with our goats, and holding our
chickens. I love to take long walks and sit by our creek, and milk goats. I
love to sit under a shady tree reading a good book, playing in the hay and
building things. If I win Amethyst she will have plenty of room and food,
and she will have our cow Marcie as a friend! my birthday is March 13 so it
would be a nice birthday present.
Within a week, I met two amazing and wonderful farmers, Christine and Allan Green of Woodcrest Farm, who were interested in training one of their Dexter cows to give milk. On a whim, nod, and handshake I found myself the co-owner of a six month old Dexter darling we named Raspberry. Training her was my job. Before she was done growing, we decided to move the project along and bought an old Jersey in milk. Quickly, then, I found myself — a weak-armed clueless urban cowgirl — weeping at the side of a Jersey. Why did I weep? Learning to hand-milk is very hard work. Cows are complicated, marvelous, fearsome creatures. And perhaps I sensed life was about to change, sensed what cows and milk would redefine for me: food, my trust in our government, my own strength, and what it means to farm. Also, I was scared of cows because they are big and very strong.
Cows have become a personal obsession. Raw milk has become something of a mission. Taken together, my life plan is to train milk cows for families and to train families for milk cows. What would a new little heifer mean to me? I believe I can connect farming healthy little heifers to almost every important thing on earth. Cows have shown me the truth about nourishment, corporate greed, the amount of plastic our society literally eats everyday, the general disregard for our earth, something dark and nefarious called genetically modified food, and the monetary value of food production. Cows have provided a way to step outside the broken aspects of our society; I ache to share their message. I plan to raise as many family milk cows as I can. It is my small subversive idea for changing the world. Paul Cezanne said, “The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.” I will plant my revolution in a bucket of milk, a pasture of cows, a new, old, way to live.
I love farming primarily because of all of the experiences and opportunities I have that
other people may not have the opportunity to do. I can do many things on a regular basis that most
may only do infrequently, if at all. I have a pregnancy checked a cow and I ride horse very
I have checked to see if a cow was pregnant, called by veterinarians and cattle farmers,
“preg-checking”. The process of preg-checking involves pushing one’s hand into the womb of the
cow in question and feeling to see if a calf is present. One year, I decided that I would like to learn
how to preg-check a cow. I talked with my veterinarian and asked him if he would teach me, and he
agreed to do so. It was very cold on the day that he came to teach me and check the rest of our beef
cow herd. My father decided that I should try to check the last cow to come through, which turned
out to be a heifer (a cow who has never had a calf before). The veterinarian kept his hand inside
the cows as long as possible to stay warm. By the time, the last heifer had come into the squeezechute
the wind had turned into a bitter cold. Despite the cold, I took my hand out of my warm
gloves and put it into the long plastic gloves used to preg-check the cows. The veterinarian checked
first; he became doubtful that the heifer was pregnant. After several cold moments however, he felt
sure that he had actually felt something. As he guided me, I reached my arm into the cow. The
veterinarian told me where to reach and what I should feel. I did as he told me, but did not feel
anything like what he told me a calf should feel like; however, I learned the basics of pregchecking.
(I later learned that the heifer was pregnant just she was not very far along, and that is
why I could not feel anything.)
Many times after that, I have assisted the veterinarian preg-check by riding horse to herd
the cows and heifers into the working area. I have even roped calves at
the branding times on horseback. Last year I worked with a mare before
we sold her to a young girl. That is another reason why I love farming,
because of all of the time spent on horseback.
I truly do love farming, and not just for the reasons I have already stated. I have not even
mentioned the thrill of driving during haying in the summer,
or the satisfaction of looking on a wholly repaired fence as I
fix fences in the spring. I have the opportunity to do many
more things than anyone living in town all of his life could ever imagine.
I am writing to you from Woodcrest Farm, a small farm in North Carolina. We are a family farm in several ways. First that is the way we live, growing and caring for a variety of animals as well as organic veggies and fruits. In addition, we are interested in the history of family farming and have collections of old horse drawn implements and household items that match the era during which our 1880’s house was built. With the addition of some modern conveniences, we are living exactly the way this property was used throughout all those years. That includes our dairy animals, three goats and a Jersey named Carnation.
You ask why I love farming. I was raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, not on a farm. As a child, I loved animals. I loved camping. I loved nature and the outdoors. Over the years of my marriage, every move we have made has been more rural and allowed us to live closer to the land. I love farming because it puts me close to the things that God made. There I can take part in the miracles of nature and growth. I love farming because I have always wanted to be as self reliant as possible. At this stage of my life, I am actively teaching others to be self reliant as well. I love farming because I want to live in a community of people who are drawn to the land. We have worked cooperatively with a variety of other farmers and also live in an old community where helping one another is still a part of the culture. I love farming because it allows me to pursue another of my interests – to preserve older varieties of plants and animals to help stem the tide of mega farms and narrowed gene pools.
I am a homesteader by nature but up until two years ago had confined my dairying to goats. Then I met Katherine, a neighbor who shared my interest in the farm and who was looking for an opportunity to do dairy for her family since she had no farm of her own. We both had secret desires to own a Jersey and so we bought Elderberry, a venerable matron who gave us lots of milk but no calves. Elderberry was a great learning experience. We learned how delicious Jersey milk is, how to care for and milk a dairy cow and how it is to have both families plus others enjoying such great milk. I learned to make my own cheese and butter and with the help of another friend, and we now teach cheese making classes on the farm. Sadly, we also learned about mastitis and disappointment when she didn’t calf on schedule and we couldn’t get her bred. We finally concluded that Elderberry, as sad as it was, was a great learning experience, but not a great cow.
During the first six months of our new venture, Katherine and I talked and talked and dreamed together. We decided that we would like to raise a heifer or two each year to market to families that wanted to own a family cow. We also decided to work on a personal dream of mine to tame a milking Dexter and use these wonderful dual purpose little cows that I own for dairying as well as for grass fed beef. We planned a milking parlor which is now complete and functional.
Our milking parlor was completed just in time to welcome Carnation, a terrific young Jersey. She has been a blessing right from the start. She calved successfully right on time and of course her sweet milk is “Jersey” delicious. She is easy to milk and easy going as well.
Now to the question, why would we like another Jersey? For me dairying has become an important part of our history and teaching farm. Children and adults come here all the time to learn where their food comes from, to learn about the rural roots of this great nation, to learn how to produce their own food and to become more self-reliant. Doing dairy here also extends the traditions of all the past generations on this farm. There have been dairy cows on this property since 1880.
Katherine, my husband and I are committed to milking, committed to Jerseys and committed to teaching others about this and other aspects of the family farm. We are carefully looking for another Jersey to add to our farm. Raising a calf has a great appeal because of the many children that come here. Chief among them are Katherine’s children Henry and Riley who are here every day. They milk and help feed and care for calves and baby goats. They would be a big part of the raising of a Jersey calf. My grandchildren come here too. Many school children of all ages (and their parents) come here to learn about farming and where milk really comes from.
Your calf would be an important part of our small farm. And someday her calf might become someone’s family cow.
I have always felt a longing for farm life. When I was growing up in the suburbs I always felt something missing, a connection to animals and the land. I would sit in the dirt in the corner of our backyard under “my” tree with my dog and I would tell her it was our farm. On the way home from school my bike became a horse and the cement sidewalks became a twisting, country trail.
My parents were probably puzzled about where this came from in me. My father grew up on a huge cattle farm in South Dakota and joined the Air Force to get away from farm life. He worked so hard to provide a better life for me but still I loved to hear his stories of growing up on the farm. I went to visit my grandparents and rode the combine and bottle fed the calves. It was heaven.
It really should be no surprise that I longed for a farm. I had it in my blood on both sides. My father’s parents had the farm in South Dakota that I loved. My other grandma had a house cow and chickens when she was growing up. I would have her tell me stories of Sally, the Jersey cow, and the chickens over and over. I could hear the love in her voice and I knew that is what I wanted.
I now live on five beautiful acres in Virginia, so far from that little girl sitting in the dirt behind her house in the California suburbs. My parents and grandparents did indeed help me to a better life, just not the one they had imagined. Instead of nearby malls and restaurants I have rolling pasture and a winding creek. My husband and I have a small run in shed and carefully seeded fields that are yearning for the right cow.
What I love about farming is that it just feels right. In my favorite novel the protagonists only find peace when they go back to life on the farm, following nature’s timeline. There is a time to sit under a tree and dream and there is a time to turn a pasture into a farm. I think a cow would do that for us. We will be starting a family in a few years and I can just see a little girl or boy sitting under a tree talking to his or her cow about the farm.
Why I Love Farming
By Malea C. age 8
I love farming because I love the animals. Animals are sweet and cute.
My favorite animals are dairy cows because they are sweet
tempered. We have a dairy cow who is very sweet. But I love
them all. I like feeding the animals in the
tractor. And riding on the swather a lot. I like riding the horses
too. I like watching the chickens pecking at the ground. I like to
hear the cows moo. And I like the way I feel free.
I would like to have an animal all my own so I could be like the person in the poem
who gets to go fetch the cow.
“Mooly cow, mooly cow, home from the wood
They sent me to fetch you as fast as I could.
The sun has gone down: It is time to go home.
Mooly cow, mooly cow, why don‘t you come?
Your udders are full, and the milkmaid is there,
And the children all waiting their supper to share
I have let the long bars down-why don’t you pass through?”
The mooly cow only said, “Moo-o-o“
– From The Cow-Boy’s Song by Anna Maria Wells
Why I Love Farming
An essay by Amanda C. Age 11
I have never lived anywhere but on a farm and I love the farm. I love the animals
on the farm, my favorites are the large animals, especially the cows and horses.
I have halter broken a couple of calves. My favorite halter breaking experience
was my Jersey heifer, Joy. I started putting a halter on her and working with her when she
was a couple days old. She liked people, I could walk up to her and pet her right away.
We kept the dairy cows in our building and one day the gate was left open while we
cleaned out the pen and Joy got out. She was tired of being cooped up and she ran around
the building and half way down the drive way before my brother
caught her. I put her halter on and walked her back to the building.
After that my brother said she had to be tied when we cleaned the
stall. Joy always liked her independence, so when I started halter breaking her sometimes
she would try to run ahead. Then again sometimes she would do the opposite and would
plant her feet, then cross them, then roll her eyes back in her head, and fall over. Then I
would nudge her and she would get back up. Joy was really a joy to halter break and I
won Grand Champion showmanship with her at our 2010 fair.
Another one of my favorite things about the farm is having the fresh eggs, milk and
beef. I especially like homemade ice cream made from the milk, cream and eggs.
Sometimes in the spring we let out chicken set some eggs and hatch them. I have watched
a few chicks hatch and they are very cute even though they are all wet.
Of course a farm has a lot of smells too. I love the smell of fresh pine shavings in a
stall. I also love the fresh milk smell, the smell of the cows. I have been to a big city and I
would take the smell of the farm over the smell of big city any day!
A farm wouldn’t be the same without the work. Some of the chores are pleasant
(like brushing out the animals) and others are less so ( like cleaning out the cow pens).
Most of the work is hard, but I love the sense of accomplishment after I’ve done a job I
know is a job well done on the farm.